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Scrutiny
  
An alternative wife!
The search for ‘alternatives’ has pervaded the social family fabric
14/05/2009

On the day George left office, our side splitting favourite late night show host Conan O’Brien commented, “Officials at the White House say that President Bush completed his last piece of official business in the Oval Office at 6:00 am this morning. Yep. Bush says it should take Obama weeks to find where he hid the dead fish.” No. This op-ed scrutiny piece is neither about Obama nor about Bush [No, George, it’s not even about the dead fish you hid!]. But about the dramatic concept of ‘alternatives’, and about how over time, the human psyche has become so maniacal towards the development of ‘alternatives’ that irrespective of how good or bad anything is working – be it your car, your computer, even the President – there has to be an alternative.

A sensible person once said, “Every good thing must come to an end.” [Thank god the philosophy did not exclude bad ones]. What has to be also noted then is that along with ‘every good thing coming to an end,’ what also come to their ends are on one hand trust and satisfaction – a fact that has even been exploited by the extremely clever Barack ‘Change’ Obama. The excruciatingly humorous Jay Leno shared his intellectual inputs recently on his show, “I tell you, the economy is so bad that President Barack Obama’s new slogan is ‘Spare Change You Can Believe In’...” Jokes apart, the genesis of humanity’s focus on alternatives is obviously historic, and many of such alternatives surely have advanced mankind. Going back in time, during the 18th century, humans relied on oil (extracted from whale’s fat or from vegetables) for lighting. Consequently, whale oil prices soared fantastically in the middle of that century. To counter this Moby Dick’ish over-dependence, an exemplary Abraham Gesner developed kerosene, a cleaner-burning alternative. A few hundred years later, in the late 19th century, Thomas Edison revolutionised the way people generated light by inventing the electric bulb, an invention that demolished future usage of oil in lighting.
Another similar example is of petroleum. For ages, countries have been fighting over this most expensive natural resource. The popular understanding is that petroleum/oil reserves are limited and would run out in this century. Going against this, many scientists are now trying to prove that oil is neither a fossil fuel nor will ever get exhausted in the near future. For example in the book, Black Gold, Strange Hold, the authors prove that oil can be easily found between granite rocks; ergo, it is not a fossil fuel and thus cannot get exhausted in the near future. Furthermore, in 2004, a few scientists of Harvard University’s Department of Chemistry synthesised methane inorganically in a diamond-anvil experiment to prove that the hydrocarbon resources of the bulk Earth may be much larger than traditionally thought. OPEC shows that because of improved technology, by 2020, oil production will cross a tremendous figure of 1,600 billion barrels annually with reserves of 3,400 billion barrels – as compared to, say, 24 billion barrels that were being produced globally in 2003.

NASA’s scientists are developing methods for turning carbon dioxide into fuel. Even conversion of natural gas to diesel fuel and petrochemical feedstock has been made possible in recent time – Exxon in Qatar, Shell in Malaysia are a few doing this. On another front, if you thought gold was valuable, scientists are trying to even develop alternative ‘artificial’ metals and jewellery too [one reason perhaps why Warren Buffett thinks gold is a useless investment]. Pearls, diamonds, you name it and De Beers accepts now how even so-called experts can’t make out which is real and which artificial. If Volkswagen is trying to use auto-engines made out of silicon carbide [and thus eliminating the use of metals], many other companies are using the much cheaper and abundant palladium instead of platinum. If agro-researchers have found out ways to genetically mutate seeds, stem cell researchers are even scampering on the ethically explosive issue of bone marrow stem cell embryo development.

By:- Sray Agarwal
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