Why has man been so keen to find out what the future holds for him?

There are some things in life so predictable that one doesn’t need to be a clairvoyant to make a prophecy. For instance, Facebook will have its billionth user soon. (Ignore the bit about 83 million fake users.) Or, Apple’s next product — iPin — may mark the end of banks. But man’s undying curiosity about tomorrow has always resulted in prophets and profits.

It all began when early man tried to use animals to see what lay ahead — from the dove that helped Noah during the great deluge… More recently, Paul the Octopus set the stage, and soon the rest — Citta the Elephant, Funtik the Pig, Lazdeika the Crab, Leon the Porcupine, Maggie the Monkey, Mani the Parakeet, Pino the Chimpanzee, Rocky the Raccoon, Traudl the Goat, Xaver the Bulldog and Yvonne the Cow — followed. As many as 12 animals, each of them making their own predictions — just the number of world’s first zodiac.

The zodiac man had used a dozen animals, but the Mayans would go one up. They created 13 mysterious skulls made of piezoelectric quartz crystal, a good conductor of energy. Each skull was a storehouse of information about everything in the universe, including our future. Legend has it that when it’s time for the end of the world, the 13 skulls, when brought together, will help save mankind.

Quartz crystal, the fundamental element in today’s computers. Skulls that could hold and transmit energy. Their coming together to form a network. Piezoelectric quartz, a key component of modern transmission devices such as the radar. The larger picture slowly emerged. So that was why the Mayans didn’t have the time to extend their calendar beyond 2012 — they had been busy creating the world’s first Wide Area Network. Was it possible that they had already predicted their end and had tried to communicate it through their indigenous computer network and radar devices? Was that what Indiana Jones had tried to find out before Harrison Ford was retired for the next instalment in the series?

There are other links between modern technology and ancient forecasting techniques. One of the oldest known Indian forecasting techniques is the naadi astrology. The Tamil word naadi means ‘to search for’ — it was this concept that led to the creation of the search engine. Since ancient India had perfected the art of counting up to one followed by 153 zeroes, taking a cue from this, two young men, Sergey Brin and Larry Page began a search for a financial windfall of one followed by a 100 zeroes — and googol, or Google came into being.

The reading of Nostradamus’ almanacs would reveal that the end of the world was scheduled only for 3797. Besides, like the Y2k issue, the Y10k problem had already been identified. So life couldn’t end in 2012 — there were bigger problems to be faced.

But the condition of the Internet, its trillions of websites, the rapidly exhausting Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses and the new social networking sites were clearly predicted by Sir Walter Scott in 1808 when he said: “O what a tangled web we weave...”

(sureshl.india@gmail.com)

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