Running with Richard Feynman: Last Day

Finally!! Oh yeah, just completed this stupid experiment but not without hiccups.

To know, how and why I started this experiment, CLICK HERE.

This post comprises of 4 parts:

  1. The Result
  2. The hiccups
  3. What next?
  4. Last but not the least: One of Richard Feynman’s story

1. THE RESULT

On 1st day, I ran for 35 minutes (max running time at a stretch = 8 mins) with small breaks of normal walking in between.
On last (10th) day, I ran for 22 minutes (max running time at a stretch = 22 mins) without a single break. 😉

On 1st day, the max distance covered at a stretch = 1.6 km
On last (10th) day, the max distance covered at a stretch = 4 km

That’s some improvement but far away from what I can do.

In my school days, when I was about 11-12 years old, I used to cover 800 meters in maybe 2 mins 30-40 secs (I have a very bad memory, so can’t remember the exact timing) and win gold/silver medal for my “Shakti” (now Latif) House along with my good friend Karan Pathak. He was surely a better runner than me. Our combination almost every time won both the Gold and Silver medal for our House in 400 and 800 meter races. Ohh, those good old days!!

Going by that timing, if I extrapolate the result, I’m lagging way too much. Even if I consider the fact that with increased distance, average speed will come down but then I’m in my youth and must do better than what I used to do as a kid.
Let’s hope, “Ache Din” come soon.

2. The Hiccups

There came a day, when I was totally exhausted and couldn’t take any more of this pain, couldn’t lift my foot, didn’t had the spirit to go that extra step. All of them and many more were EXCUSES masked in the form of hurdles. And I won’t complain about them. The reason being:

stronger than excuses

Every day, I used to ask myself one question: When to stop?
The answer was simple: Just a little more, maybe after that!

3. What next?

Yes, you already have an idea about it. The first big task will be to increase the speed and then increase the distance as well. I don’t know the limit and thus will try to improve from the previous day’s performance. That’s all I’m thinking as of now. Let’s see how far I travel.

There were some hard lessons learned throughout this small journey and I’m glad that, now, I have a better view of things around me.

4. Richard Feynman

There are two things about running:

  1. Initiative
  2. Consistency

If the thought of listening to Richard Feynman’s book gave the thrust for this initiative, what helped me in making consistent effort towards my daily run were his stories which gave a whole new perspective to different things that I see around me.

Now, enough about me, let’s read one of the magical work of Richard Feynman:

In a kind of thought experiment, Feynman takes the various points of view of an imaginary panel to represent the thinking of scientists and spiritualists and discusses the points of agreement and of disagreement between science and religion, anticipating by two decades, the current active debate between these two fundamentally different ways of searching for truth. Among other questions, he wonders whether atheists can have morals based on what science tells them, in the way that spiritualists can have morals based on their belief in God–an unusually philosophical topic for pragmatic Feynman.

Science and Moral Questions
Now, let’s see if I can make a little philosophical explanation as to why it is different–how science cannot affect the fundamental basis of morals.
The typical human problem, and one whose answer religion aims to supply, is always of the following form: Should I do this? Should we do this? Should the government do this? To answer this question we can resolve it into two parts: First–If I do this, what will happen?–and second–Do I want that to happen? What would come of it of value–of good?
Now a question of the form: If I do this, what will happen? is strictly scientific. As a matter of fact, science can be defined as a method for, and a body of information obtained by, trying to answer only questions which can be put into the form: If I do this, what will happen? The technique of it, fundamentally, is: Try it and see. Then you put together a large amount of information from such experiences. All scientists will agree that a question–any question, philosophical or other–which cannot be put into the form that can be tested by experiment (or, in simple terms, that cannot be put into the form: If I do this, what will happen?) is not a scientific question; it is outside the realm of science.
I claim that whether you want something to happen or not–what value there is in the result, and how you judge the value of the result (which is the other end of the question: Should I do this?), must lie outside of science because it is not a question that you can answer only by knowing what happens; you still have to judge what happens–in a moral way. So, for this theoretical reason I think that there is a complete consistency between the moral view–or the ethical aspect of religion–and scientific information.

Turning to the third aspect of religion–the inspirational aspect–brings me to the central question that I would like to present to this imaginary panel. The source of inspiration today–for strength and for comfort–in any religion is very closely knit with the metaphysical aspect; that is, the inspiration comes from working for God, for obeying his will, feeling one with God. Emotional ties to the moral code–based in this manner–begin to be severely weakened when doubt, even a small amount of doubt, is expressed as to the existence of God; so when the belief in God becomes uncertain, this particular method of obtaining inspiration fails.

I don’t know the answer to this central problem–the problem of maintaining the real value of religion, as a source of strength and of courage to most men, while, at the same time, not requiring an absolute faith in the metaphysical aspects.

The Heritages of Western Civilization
Western civilization, it seems to me, stands by two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure–the adventure into the unknown, an unknown which must be recognized as being unknown in order to be explored; the demand that the unanswerable mysteries of the universe remain unanswered; the attitude that all is uncertain; to summarize it–the humility of the intellect. The other great heritage is Christian ethics–the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual–the humility of the spirit.

These two heritages are logically, thoroughly consistent. But logic is not all; one needs one’s heart to follow an idea. If people are going back to religion, what are they going back to? Is the modern church a place to give comfort to a man who doubts God–more, one who disbelieves in God? Is the modern church a place to give comfort and encouragement to the value of such doubts? So far, have we not drawn strength and comfort to maintain the one or the other of these consistent heritages in a way which attacks the values of the other? Is this unavoidable? How can we draw inspiration to support these two pillars of Western civilization so that they may stand together in full vigor, mutually unafraid? Is this not the central problem of our time?
I put it up to the panel for discussion.

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