The art of walking: How this everyday act can bring you inner peace

Here's how to exercise your curiosity and truly experience the world.

ERLING KAGGE: I think the world has partly turned insane in the sense that we spend, like, three or four hours every day just looking down on a screen. And the whole idea that you can explore the world, get to know people, respect the environment, to love the earth just by sitting and watching a screen is problematic. It's wrong, and it's also one of the reasons why people feel so unhappy today. They claim to be very sad. They claim to be lonely and depressed. I think this partly, to a great degree, comes down to us just looking down and not looking up around us and up towards the sky, because that's what makes life worth living.

I think we're all born explorers. When I look at kids, they would like to climb before they can walk. Eventually, when they learn how to walk before they can talk, they walk over to the sitting room, across the floor, out through the door, and wondering what's hidden behind the horizon. And this humans have been doing for 200,000 years. It was not Homo sapiens who invented walking on two legs. It was a possibility, walking on two legs; we invented Homo sapiens. So we have always been discovering the world in a truly physical way. And that's one of the reasons why walking is so important. Because today, most people are sitting on their arses in a chair looking at the screen to discover and explore the world. And that's a huge misunderstanding. You're missing out on some of the greatest things in life.

I'm very curious. Curiosity is a driving force for me. And when I walk—like I walked to the studio here in New York—I try to watch people, do people watching. And of course, their faces pass so quickly in the street. So it's kind of hard to tell what people are thinking and what's going on in their mind. I have a longer time to see how they walk. And quite often, you can actually see how they feel by the way they're walking. You can even sometimes feel what kind of professions they have when you look at them walking.

For instance, like police officers and officers in the army, they walk totally different from other people. A priest also walks, has a different gait. While you can see the homeless people in New York and the beggars, they walk totally different. So somehow, what they're doing is inscribed in their bodies and inscribed in the way they're walking. Like a homeless guy, he walks absolutely the opposite way than an officer in the army. He walks bit like this. His knees are sagging down a bit like this. So, you know, the way you walk can actually tell you a lot.

To me, as a Norwegian, the best way to experience silence is to just walk in one direction out of the city where I'm living and to let it get really quiet around me, and stay there for a few days and nights and experience silence. But obviously, if you live in New York, that's not so simple. So I think you can actually find silence absolutely everywhere, in the sense that you need to invent your own silence. You can't wait for silence to come to you. You have to start to explore this inner silence—the silence which is inside you at all times and waiting for you. Just try to discover what's going on in your mind and in your body. You can do meditation to do it. You can do yoga. You can do mindfulness. But to me, you actually don't need any techniques. I think you can do it by just walking. And if you don't have time to walk long distances, try to walk the stairs. Try to walk to the metro. Try to walk to your office. And then you will find this inner silence if you're really interested in it.

  • "[T]oday, most people are sitting on their arses in a chair looking at the screen to discover and explore the world," says Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge. "And that's a huge misunderstanding. You're missing out on some of the greatest things in life."
  • There is an inner silence to be found through walking, says Kagge. You exercise your curiosity and the movement of your body, which are two ancient and important things for Homo sapiens.
  • Some people experience silence through meditation, mindfulness, or yoga. But Kagge emphasizes that you don't need any formal techniques. If you are interested in finding inner silence, you can create it anywhere, just by walking.


    China's "artificial sun" sets new record for fusion power

    China has reached a new record for nuclear fusion at 120 million degrees Celsius.

    Credit: STR via Getty Images
    Technology & Innovation

    This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

    China wants to build a mini-star on Earth and house it in a reactor. Many teams across the globe have this same bold goal --- which would create unlimited clean energy via nuclear fusion.

    But according to Chinese state media, New Atlas reports, the team at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) has set a new world record: temperatures of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds.

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    If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it.

    If scientists can essentially build a sun on Earth, they can create endless energy by mimicking how the sun does it. In nuclear fusion, the extreme heat and pressure create a plasma. Then, within that plasma, two or more hydrogen nuclei crash together, merge into a heavier atom, and release a ton of energy in the process.

    Nuclear fusion milestones: The team at EAST built a giant metal torus (similar in shape to a giant donut) with a series of magnetic coils. The coils hold hot plasma where the reactions occur. They've reached many milestones along the way.

    According to New Atlas, in 2016, the scientists at EAST could heat hydrogen plasma to roughly 50 million degrees C for 102 seconds. Two years later, they reached 100 million degrees for 10 seconds.

    The temperatures are impressive, but the short reaction times, and lack of pressure are another obstacle. Fusion is simple for the sun, because stars are massive and gravity provides even pressure all over the surface. The pressure squeezes hydrogen gas in the sun's core so immensely that several nuclei combine to form one atom, releasing energy.

    But on Earth, we have to supply all of the pressure to keep the reaction going, and it has to be perfectly even. It's hard to do this for any length of time, and it uses a ton of energy. So the reactions usually fizzle out in minutes or seconds.

    Still, the latest record of 120 million degrees and 101 seconds is one more step toward sustaining longer and hotter reactions.

    Why does this matter? No one denies that humankind needs a clean, unlimited source of energy.

    We all recognize that oil and gas are limited resources. But even wind and solar power --- renewable energies --- are fundamentally limited. They are dependent upon a breezy day or a cloudless sky, which we can't always count on.

    Nuclear fusion is clean, safe, and environmentally sustainable --- its fuel is a nearly limitless resource since it is simply hydrogen (which can be easily made from water).

    With each new milestone, we are creeping closer and closer to a breakthrough for unlimited, clean energy.

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