Relativity and irony.

I once almost lost my cell phone. It was one of those days when I was having a good time when my cell phone probably fell out of my jacket during transit in a taxi. But a gentleman passenger, made sure I got the phone back. Kudos to him. But the horrors that went through my mind before I got a call from him were bad. Why you ask ? I have a lot of information apart from just contacts on my phone. And you could probably access all my mails, my twitter, facebook and what not from that mobile. What makes you stronger also makes you vulnerable. And that I found ironic.

But there was a recent event, that has completely made me depressed and lifeless, which you could compare against the above in terms of the anxiety. I (my house) got robbed over the weekend. They took my laptop, an external drive and some other random things. They left the TV. I would whole-heartedly exchange my TV, my bike, my books, my microwave and a few other things just to get my laptop back. Not for the laptop itself but for what it contains. It was my companion on so many days/nights, it helped me through some tough times at work, and it holds the key to most of what I’ve done in the past two years. It is heart breaking to know that it is all gone and the horrors return.

It would have been a consolation to at least have the external disk around, which contains all the back-ups of my work. But that is gone too. When you can’t even save anything in your own home for safe keeping, what can you depend on ? And being as attached to the work as I am, it only intensifies the pain. I am 3 months away from renewing my position and now I am behind on my schedule to finish 2 more papers. This might not have a happy ending.

At the end of the day, losing a laptop just hurts so much more than losing a phone. And that is relativity for the un-initiated. The beauty of physics is that the most purest of the theories are great philosophies too. And there I shall end this post. Still moping…

Thriving on the Precipice

It’s only on the brink that people find the will to change; only on the precipice that we evolve. This is our moment – don’t take it from us.
— The day the earth stood still

Another one of those things that is so right on the point. Its cliched to say ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ but putting it in different words as above lends new meaning and purpose.

I’ve learnt that all best thoughts have already been said before. And that’s why I am proud to do my re-search. And it is why I thrive on great quotes. Kudos to the great minds before and after me.

Without that final edge, how mundanely bleak an occurrence this would be. And with or without an external change, it really is about time to rethink the possibilities…

Colbert Report nails it.

I was watching Colbert Report yesterday and he nailed the ‘Word of the day’ segment, targeting on the recent Christmas day bombing attack in Detroit. Here’s the video.

Colbert Report – January 5, 2010

If you are interested in getting to what I’ve got to say here, just move to 3.0 mins in to the video for “Night of terror: The crapification of American pant-scape”. Five minutes of that segment parodies on the recent reactions to the terror attack and what newscasters suggest we do to prevent further attacks.

Given that everyone here is scared even more because of the recent incident, the outcome of it in the news is just plainly retarded. I’ve watched enough segments lately about it but ‘Racial profiling’, ‘Religious targeting’ and plain disregard for rights in a country that hails itself as the greatest democratic nation seems much, to achieve what is necessary. My comments primarily stems from the fact that for 9 years since 9/11, Americans have been able to suppress any attack from bearing fruition and if anything, the recent incident is just a reminder that it took the terrorists this long to come back with a decent plan to break through the defenses.

The job is always easier for the attacker, whatever the cause, immaterial of the perspective since there is only one motive he needs to achieve. The preparation and tactics necessary to stop them is immense and it is important to keep the focus on what’s relevant and not to start waging wars on random nations again. Starting wars only makes America more of a pariah even if they can come up with thousand reasons to back it up. I abhor Gandhi’s non-violence movement and would have really liked to have given the British what they deserved for terrorizing the Indians with hundreds of years of oppression but my vision is clouded and for reasons I cannot understand, Ahimsa did work. May be a different approach might serve this nation better in the future. Of course, no one gives a shit about my opinion but this is just one man’s thought on a world in chaos.

I think it is apt to end my thought with a quote:

“Fighting terrorism is like being a goalkeeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.”
– Paul Wilkinson

Revisiting Three Mile Island

An enlightening post that revisits some of the mistakes that caused the TMI accident, on the 30th anniversary of the mishap. I have heard some of the details from couple of professors on Nuclear Reactor Safety and they have always claimed it TMI to be an ‘accident gone right’ because there was absolutely minimal radiation exposure to the environment and pales in comparison to Chernobyl where the whole thing was a shitty mess.

I especially like Bob’s extrapolation on the current state of affairs:

The folks at TMI did not really know how to manage the technology of a nuclear power plant, and that led to a huge mess. The same thing has now happened to our economy. Congress changed the banking and mortgage lending rules without regard to their purpose. Many firms bought derivative securities without the slightest thought to the math behind them or the risk they were incurring. Nuclear power plants run on a chain reaction process of atomic decay. Our government and investment community created a chain reaction of economic decay.

Anyway, since it is the 30th anniversary of TMI, I figured that it would be wise to educate the one or two readers following my site. So here, read up.

Three Mile Island Memories.

Also, if you feel like reading more in-depth, check out the TMI fact-sheet at the NRC website TMI Fact sheet

Note to self: Got to watch ‘The China Syndrome’ soon. I keep reading about it over and over to the extent that it is annoying the hell out of me…

Plutonium ?! What do i do with it

I had to quote this recent article at the Onion which a friend of mine forwarded to me.

The topic : “Terrorist Has No Idea What To Do With All This Plutonium”.

Yaquub Akhtar, the leader of an eight-man cell linked to a terrorist organization known as the Army Of Martyrs, admitted Tuesday that he “doesn’t have the slightest clue” what to do with the quarter-kilogram of plutonium he recently acquired.

“We had just given thanks to Allah for this glorious means to destroy the Great Satan once and for all, when [sub-lieutenant] Mahmoud [Ghassan] asked, ‘So, what’s the next step?'” Akhtar said. “I was at a loss.”

The 28-year-old fanatic said he and his associates had initially assumed that at least one member of their group had the physics and engineering background necessary to construct a thermonuclear device.

“Many eyes were upon me,” said Basim Aljawad, whose knowledge of physics did not extend to the principles of nuclear fission. “I make nail bombs. That’s it.”

My 2 cents of opinion on it : It is bloody funny and terribly scary. Funny because i can’t believe that someone had the means to get a raw material for a potential weapon and still do not have a clue on what to do with it. Scary because, obtaining plutonium, for motivated terrorists seems easy.

“I still believe in taking the lives of American civilians as revenge for the atrocities committed on our brothers, our wives, and our daughters,” Akhtar said. “I’m just not entirely sure it’s worth a headache this big.”

It is really sad to see such intense hatred against any nation, whoever it might be. On top of that, when such people also have the means to fulfill their wishes, the world doesn’t seem that safe anymore.

A-bomb system can warn of tsunami

A recent article about monitoring stations that are set up to detect atomic explosions might be potentially useful to predict the path of a tsunami.

“After the quake on 26 December, all geophysical researchers were looking for signals in their data,” Roger Bowman told the BBC News website.

“One of the common ways was to make spectrographs – looking at how the spectrum of sound waves developed over time – and in this we saw the unique signal.”

The two researchers describe the unique signal found on spectrograph plots recorded by Indian Ocean hydrophones as a “chirp”.

What it means is that low-frequency vibrations are arriving before those of higher frequencies, producing a distinctive upward curving slope.

“In this frequency range – and these are very low frequencies, well below 1Hz – this is a unique signal,” said Dr Bowman.

As soon as i read the title, i had a moment, which drunkards call a “Moment of clarity”. It perfectly makes sense to make use of A-bomb detectors for monitoring seismic activity since they are more powerful than ordinary detectors and definitely would give lot more precise details as the exact location and range of the disturbance. And as always, they had to include the politics into science, making it tougher to implement. Get over it you fools. This is for a good cause.

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First Katrina. Now Rita

No these ain’t my girlfriends ! Well i wish but i am talking about the hurricanes which have rocked the coasts of US in the past few weeks. In another 72 hours, i am about to see a real hurricane passing through College Station, a hurricane which could totally engulf the whole state of Florida in its size. Hurricane Rita has been issued as a Category Five hurricane. It probably might become Category Two by the time it reaches here, but right now, she’s devastatingly beautiful and intense.

Watch this picture, of the eye of the Hurricane Rita.


Let me quote some specifics about a Category Five hurricane. Here you go.

Winds greater than 155 mph (greater than 135 kt or 249 km/hr). Barometric Pressure Below 920 mb (Below 27.17 in) Storm surge generally greater than 18 ft above normal. Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings. Some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away. All shrubs, trees, and signs blown down. Complete destruction of mobile homes. Severe and extensive window and door damage. Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the center of the hurricane. Major damage to lower floors of all structures located less than 15 ft above sea level and within 500 yards of the shoreline. Massive evacuation of residential areas on low ground within 5-10 miles (8-16 km) of the shoreline may be required.

And that my friend, is intensity. That is nature’s sheer sneeze. Nature’s way of reacting to the cruelty being done to her by burning more and more fossil fuels, destroying the natural cycles, industrialization, population explosion, forest invasion, disrupting eco-balance and more things which we unknowingly affect her in different ways.

I wish we could realize the effects and reduce the usage of such methods. It probably is a futile effort to pursue anything right now at this stage because the earth would not even begin to react the change for another 50 years or so. But better late than never. Right !

Anyway, out of the context, the insane mind in me wishes that i could see such a hurricane in action at its full intensity. I might chicken out if i do see it but hey, how will i know that until i witness it ?!

You can track the advance of Hurricane Rita here. Also there is a nice animation showing the path of the hurricane.

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Quake jolts South Asia

God. It happened just as they had predicted before.

The prediction was for a quake about 7-7.5 in magnitude but this one was a whopper and really beats most quakes hands down in its power (8.7) … Reports say that as of now, 2000 are feared dead and search is still underway. There has been no Tsunamis like the last one but the tumbling buildings have claimed enough lives …

I wanted to post about my trip to South padre but i guess i’ll do it later. Don’t want to write something like that right after this post.

Indian Ocean may face another quake

Holy crap. This is terrible. Just read the article at MSNBC website about another possible earthquake with a magnitude 7-7.5 and more Tsunamis.

It is cruel but atleast we now have a forecast to take measures to prevent the damage and hopefully we won’t end up losing as many people as the previous time.

My life still moves without any incidents. Adios !