SLEEP PARALYSIS

SL 4Have you ever been paralyzed in your sleep? Scientist believe that every person alive has suffered from this horrifying event at least once in their life. You may have heard of this strange occurrence in many folklore. The most famous mythologies of the world namely Greek, Egyptian, Japanese, Mesopotamian, Roman all have their own narrations of this phenomenon. Science call it sleep paralysis and ancient myths have named it ‘Night Hag’. As the victims submit, in sleep paralysis one is awake but cannot move, feeling as if paralyzed, with immense pressure on their chest causing difficulty in breathing. Victim feels immense choking in throat making the experience excruciating. Some people face it once or twice in life while some may experience it regularly. For occasional victims the event is horrifying but for regular victims, they somehow learn to enjoy it. Let’s outlook this phenomenon with both mythological and scientific perspective.

Ancient people believed that it’s the action of a demon who sits on your chest choking your throat and not letting you move a bit. What one can move is their eyeball ‘to watch the dreadful happenings. They call this demon, a night hag.SL 2 A night hag is an evil creature that people suffering from sleep paralysis have described they have witnessed. They are known for their mercilessness and ability to walk in the dreams of others. This creature is 5 to 6 feet tall as described by the victims and has ugly features, violet blue skin and can even give demon fever. According to believers diseases spread by an evil creature bite like the skin rashes, ringworm, blood cough etc. falls in the category of demon fever. Some of these are so deadly that they kill the victim within a week. The night hag tries to distract people around the victim by involving them in a pleasant dream sending them to deeper sleep. In different regions it is named differently. Russians call it nocnitsa who is believed to be an evil woman who feeds on the happiness of children.SL 5 According to some folklore, night hags visit when one sleeps on one’s back, with the hands on the chest (a position allegedly called “sleeping with the dead”). According to some folklore, night hags are no substantial creature that we can touch and feel but they are just dark shadows. The devil might also have a horrible screeching voice. She might allegedly also smell of the moss and dirt from her forest of origin. Some people admit that they smell stink when the demon is around, starring them incessantly.

I just realized that these statements above are inflicting my science background, so now I should just switch to the science perspective. According to medical science sleep paralysis is a stage between sleep and wakefulness where a person is not capable to move. SL 1It could last upto few second to few minutes. Patient feels pressure on his lungs and sense of choking as their diaphragm ,a voluntary muscle that aids in expansion and contraction of lungs, also rests at the time causing difficulty in breathing. Sleep paralysis usually occurs at one of the two times, 1) while you are falling asleep, called hypnagogic or predormital sleep paralysis and 2) when you are waking up, it’s called hypnopompic or postdormital sleep paralysis. As you fall asleep, your body slowly relaxes. Usually you become less aware, so you do not notice the change. However, if you remain or become aware while falling asleep, you may notice that you cannot move or speak. During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM. Your eyes move quickly, and dreams occur, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your muscles are “turned off” during REM sleep. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may notice that you cannot move or speak. This phenomenon is mostly seen in age range of 16 to 43 years. All of us go through this age range but why don’t we experience sleep paralysis frequently. Generally, this phenomenon is not recurrent in every individual. Some typical triggers of sleep paralysis are lack of sleep, improper sleep schedule that changes mental conditions such as stress or bipolar disorder, sleeping on the back, other sleep problems such as narcolepsy (neurological disorder of over sleepiness where one loses control over his sleep) or night time leg cramps and use of certain medications, such as those for ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder- a neurological disorder where a person lose his concentration and becomes overactive and restless).

SL 3So, how one may overcome this problem? Improving sleep habits ,such as making sure you get six to eight hours of sleep each night. Using antidepressant medication if it is prescribed by your doctor to help regulate sleep cycles. Treating any mental health problems that may contribute to frequent sessions of this sleep paralysis.

 

The sleep paralysis has been defined by factions differently. They have left it upto you what to believe in, a bodily malfunction or an activity of a demon.

CONQUERING THE RED PLANET

 

mc1Ever thought of visiting your parents on vacations who live on some neighbouring “planet”. Seems unimaginable! We humans, who have barely travelled beyond moon ponder upon the idea of becoming a multi-planetary species. This may seem exciting, adventurous as well as frightening at the same time as we do have the least knowledge whether a planet, identical to earth is present somewhere in the universe. However, astronomers have discovered many look-alike planets, blue in colour, white and green spots in them, calling them with fascinating names like “The Aquarius”, “The Trappist”, some being planets and some satellites.

I was born at the culmination of the 20th century and have experienced unforeseen technological advancements in this short span of 20 years. The drift from landline comm to the Nokia and Motorola mobile cellular and now to iPhone 10, proves how humans have evolved enormously in such a short span. There are many such examples in the fields of manufacturing, construction, automation, rocket propulsion, material science, electronics and artificial intelligence. We are proud of our innovative and productive skills. But let me introduce my readers to a Soviet astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev who devised a scale to classify a civilization based on the energy it consumes, which we know as Kardashev scale. According to him, there are three types of civilizations stated as, type 1: the civilizations that can use all the energy present on its host planet (Earth), type 2: the civilizations that can harness all the energy contained in its parent star (Sun), and type 3: the civilizations that can harness all the energy contained in their respective galaxy (Milky Way). He also formulated an equation to find whether a civilization is Type 1,2, or 3 using the present energy consumption. On his scale, humans are found to be a Type 0.724, and it is estimated that in the next 150-200 years humans will achieve Type 1. So, this is where we stand!

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ELON MUSK

Franklin D. Roosevelt the 32nd President of United States once quoted “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” The ambitious, well-known engineer, investor, business magnate, Futurist and philanthropist, Elon Musk, has got a plan, really an astonishing plan that has left scientists all over the world, bewildered. The plan is to colonize Mars by early 2024. It’s hard to believe at once but the guy is seriously sending people to the red planet about which he spoke at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia. Space X, a private American aerospace manufacturer, and space transportation services company headquartered in Hawthorne, California led by CEO Elon Musk has started building and testing the spaceships and boosters for his upcoming Mars mission. Space X has been successful in sending satellites to orbits using reusable boosters with its latest expedition, schlepping Merah Putih, the Indonesian Communication Satellite (Telkom-4) to the outer Earth orbit. The prime inventions of the firm are, the Falcon rockets that carry the payload to the orbit and return to the landing sites to stand back upright ready to launch for the next trip, the Falcon Heavy which is presently Earth’s most powerful operational rocket with the ability to boost upto 63.8 metric tons to the orbit and the Dragon which is a reusable cargo spacecraft hefted by the Falcons. The company in its tenure of 16 years (since May 2002) has progressed remarkably and is no doubt the world’s leading space transportation organization.

 

mc4Just beheld that I have gone more into Space X, but why not, at last, it is the one who has got the big plan. Space X plans to build a city on Mars with a population of about one million in the next 50 years seems unsustainable! They have released the rendering of the Big Fucking Rocket (BFR) which is not operational now but might replace the Falcon, Falcon Heavy, and Dragon by 2020. The maximum payload it can lift to the Earth’s lower orbit is approximately 153 metric tons which is more than double the payload that can be carried by the Falcon Heavy.

mc3By 2022 the company plans to send two cargo ships to mars whose mission will be to confirm water resources, spot hazards, and to find an ideal place for power, mining and life support systems to support future missions. The cargo ships will contain 51 raptor engines (Space X’s indigenous engines) 42 for the rockets and 9 for the ship. By 2024 four more ships will launch to conquer the red planet, two being cargo ships and other two crewed ships.

Raptor
RAPTOR ENGINE

The two years tenure is picked up as it takes twenty-six months for every Earth-Mars synchronization which is a period when Mars is closest to the earth at about 57.6 million kilometres. The ships will have a team of 12 erudite passengers, the most learned and genius of all. The aim of the second troop is to set up a propellant plant on the surface of Mars to refuel the spaceships for their return to Earth.

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CRYOGEN

By 2024 there will be enough landed masses to build a massive array of solar panels to generate electricity that will support all the systems for setting up the city and a water production plant to support life. Carbon dioxide and water(ice) present on Mars will act as a source of creating and storing cryogenic methane and oxygen using Sabatier process [CO2(g) + 4H2(g)  CH4(g) + 2H2O(g)]. Cryogen is a substance used to preserve gases at extremely low temperatures with its applications being preserving living cells, storing gases in liquid form in small shells, used as rocket fuels. According to Musk water and oxygen supply, a propellant plant and electricity is the base to build up a city and grow it to a bigger colony of million residents. What we can do now is sit and wait to see what his highly ambitious plans of becoming a multi-planetary species will lead to.

The thought of being a multi-planetary species and hit the Type 1 civilization is really stirring. But are we ready for that or are we even this near to set foot on Mars and settle down? Do we have enough technical resources? What about the huge investments and where to get the financial aid for space exploration? Is our knowledge of cosmos enough to solve the mysteries of this underlying universe? What we know is derived based on the equations led by former scientists and analysts and the imaging by satellites and astronomical telescopes with a far view of the space. There are many questions still unturned.

Now let’s acquaint with the troubles that Musk and his company need to face. First, on reaching mars how do the human body will react to the whole new environment. The gravity is one-third than that of earth, atmospheric pressure (mere 600 Pa) would seize the human body to exist, human senses like vision and skin will get affected as soon as they come in vicinity of the unsuitable electromagnetic radiations and even the composition of the gases is quite different with nil count of breathable air. Second, the temperature on Mars varies from -195 degree Celsius to 20 degree Celsius which is way too cold for our species to survive and even if we do, we cannot bloom a single crop. Annihilation will comprehend human life by suffocation and starvation. We need a lot more time to solve the issues.

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Stepping foot on Mars is indeed victorious but we have not got enough resources to settle on our neighbour planet. Who knows by the time we prepare ourselves to settle on Mars, we find a way to reach farther celestial bodies which may counterpart our very own earth. In my opinion, there is no better planet as suitable and mesmerizing as our earth. It is just …perfect! But we never know what’s outside, what we are a part of, why do we even exist in this infinite universe. Either you live a life sitting back satisfied with all that what you have got, or you wriggle to find the truths, and who knows maybe someday you find a way out.