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LinkoMania 102

This was a really crappy day. I had a night-out yesterday, stuck with a bad cold, didn’t get much sleep, had a meeting for over 4 hours with my professor going over the project and learning FEM and had to cook dinner on top of it. I was bloody tired and went over some of the old posts through Sharpreader to find something interesting. Weirdly enough i did find something to read and alleviate the miserable feeling.
Here are some links. Enjoy.
  • Why I Will Never Have A Girlfriend – Alright. I sometimes do crib about that but this guy has taken it to a whole new scientific level and proves why the problem is not with the guy or the girl who shares the same feeling. Definitely, a paper on the subject does seem a bit crazy. He’s got way too much time on his hands 😉 Also don’t forget to see his FU-Q pages …
  • Lost in Translation – What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between 5 different languages? The authors of the Systran translation software probably never intended this application of their program. As of September 2003, translation software is almost good enough to turn grammatically correct, slang-free text from one language into grammatically incorrect, barely readable approximations in another. Run your favorite phrases through and laugh through the horrors of bad online translators …
  • StellaAwards – The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald’s coffee onto her lap, burning herself. A New Mexico jury awarded her $2.9 million in damages, but that’s not the whole story. Ever since, the name “Stella Award” has been applied to any wild, outrageous, or ridiculous lawsuits — including bogus cases! There are some interesting stories here …
  • Internet killed the video star – A very funny flash movie which is a parody of the original video and is on the same lines as the famous song “Video killed the radio star“, the first video ever to be aired on MTV. It involves lots of people(AOL, Bill gates, MTV, MJ, Britney and others) and the animation is not that bad too. You can definitely waste 3 minutes to see this …

Alright. My break time is up. I did enjoy the links i have posted here. Read them during your spare time and loosen up a little …

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Abdul Kalam – He is the man !

John Ellis, another theoretical physicist, whose blog i came across at Quantum Diaries, writes about his experience with our beloved President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam !

Well there is not much in the post but this following excerpt from the post conveys my point !

This week we had contacts with high-level representatives of a couple of non-member countries that are participating strongly in the LHC programme. Last Wednesday CERN was visited by the President of India, Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam. Born into a modest fishing family, he studied science, then became a rocket engineer and the father of the Indian missile and satellite programmes. He met Indian teams working at CERN to test LHC magnets and on Grid software, as well as the usual CERN bigwigs. He is the first head of state I have met who knows about the Standard Model of elementary particles !

I loved that last line … Believe me, you have no idea how great that feeling can be … If you are a coder, try explaining the intricacies of your code and design to your manager. And if he does understand you perfectly well, then you will know what i am talking about 😉

On a sidenote, I have always admired Dr. Kalam for his initiative in making India a better and technologically (well specifically in military science !) competent country in the recent past. I have read about some of his contributions to the Indian nuclear industry and heard real life narration of some of the tests that he spearheaded at Pokhran which decisively gave India the respect it deserved. He is the czar of Indian technology and science and has worked on the Space, Missile and Nuclear aspects of technology. Bloody cool huh ?! And now, in his new role as the president of India, he sure as hell is striving hard to improve the quality of education in India to make it a better and learned country. Someday soon, his dreams of making India into a technological superpower will be realized … Three cheers to that !!!

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Yet another energy creator

Read an article today “Chemist Tries to Solve World’s Energy Woes” at Livescience. Chemist Dr. Daniel Nocera at MIT is trying to use the bountiful energy in sunlight to split water into its basic components, hydrogen and oxygen.

Well the research is still underway and is probably far from being complete but there could be some potential here. If it works, is practical and feasible, then in the future, we might be able to use something like this. Although i very seriously doubt the use of sunlight as a perpetual energy source for such a reaction, i would love to be proved wrong.

Here is an excerpt from the article where Dr. Nocera talks about future energy needs.

Nocera cites a calculation by Caltech chemist Nathan Lewis that power demands in 2050 will be so great that just to keep carbon dioxide emissions at twice preindustrial levels, a nuclear plant would have to be built every two days. There’s not enough room on the planet’s surface for other widely touted solutions such as wind and biomass to have much impact.

I seriously do not know on why people are so skeptical about the use of nuclear energy for producing power. It is much much safer and foolproof than it used to be; We can get almost limitless and perpetual energy if we produce fuel rods in Breeder reactors; It is environmentally friendly and clean. History has taught us a bad lesson about reactors but isn’t it time to move forward and think about how not to repeat the history by making advanced safety measures to avoid any kind of catastrophe. And safety is one of the important aspects that we are being taught. The end result is not just about producing power but to produce clean, safe power. And we are getting there …

I for one, strongly believe that reactors are the cleanest answer available to us to meet all the energy needs of the future. It is vital to realize this fact and start building reactors and reduce the usage of fossil fuels as much as possible before we end up imposing doom on ourselves soon. But oh well since economics and politics are involved in this earth saving venture, i know that we will wait until the situation that Norcera portrays in the excerpt is reached …

Physics’ sharpest mind since Einstein

Here’s an article that talks about Ed Witten’s work. I had no clue about him before this but i see that many people have acknowledged his invaluable contributions to Super String Theory. I guess, that does make him to be one big shots in Physics during our time.

I linked previously to Dr. Michio Kaku. His site is loaded with information on Theoretical physics. Here is a comment that he made on Ed Mitten. (An excerpt from the article)

“I do believe there really is a category for a genius who is a supernova — a supernova that lights up the entire scientific landscape and that is Ed Witten,” said theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, the author of “Parallel Worlds and Hyperspace.”

“I think he is as close as you are going to get to a living Albert Einstein today.”

That is so freaking cool. When people compare him with Einstein, i feel guilty of not knowing about a person of such significance. Shame on me …

Here i am, off to go read more on him and work on my research some more 🙂

Update : Found some more stories and interesting posts on the same subject. One over at Kuro5hin and some posts by physicists at their blogs – Peter Woit and Lubos Motl. Both have interesting opinions and comments. Read on.

Anniversary at College station

Well guess what ?! I didn’t realize till minutes before now that I have successfully spent 1 year at TAMU, College station. And today is the grand anniversary. Infact, i even remember that i got down in front of my apartment at around 10.30 pm. Neat.

Frankly, i do not know how the 1 year just passed by. I guess all the work, research, reading and drinking just made me lose track of the time. Looking back, i’ve definitely learned a lot, in terms of what i wanted to read, and my self-confidence has amplified up by 10 folds. I have developed this unquenchable desire to read a lot, not that i didnt do that back then but i got a feeling that this is going to last.

I am happy about all that has happened till now in my life. No regrets whatsoever. Even though i’ve been cribbing a lot lately on the pressure i’m going through, the workaholic and masochistic side of me is currently thriving and enjoying it to the fullest. Here is three cheers to my dream come true !!!

What did i miss when i blinked ?

A very nice piece of trivia that i enjoyed. The actual article is short and to the point. The following excerpt explains enough.

Humans blink every four seconds, on average. How come they never notice? University College London scientists have solved the riddle. When the eyes shut, even for a fraction of a second, the visual system of the brain shuts down too. So you cannot know that you are fleetingly in the dark, they report in Current Biology. Read more…

A User’s Guide to Time Travel

Whoopy doo. I almost have a Time Machine in my hands !

Now if only i can just create a blackhole and get a computer with a mega huge cpu power to solve a billion variables accurately, i will be done …

Now read on about “A User’s Guide to Time Travel” – All it takes is a grasp of theoretical physics, control of the space-time continuum, and maybe a ball of cosmic string.

A very interesting and captivating article about some of the theories and concepts you need to know before trying to even talk about time travel to anyone ! Definitely a nice lay-man’s intro to the subject …

Also, here is the author’s site. Dr. Michio Kaku is the co-founder of String Field Theory. If you have never had the chance to read anything on Field theory, then believe me, after the basic reading i’ve done, i’d salute him a 100 times ! He’s got a great site going on, full of technical information. A nice site if you like theoretical physics and many other scientific phenomena.

Update : Saw this article “Realistic Time Machine? New design could forgo exotic ingredient” and found it interesting and relevant to the topic. While all the suggested theories seem good, nothing can be commented about them until a practical model is developed.

Salt Symphony

This post is beautiful. Reminds me of my time in Goa and Mangalore during my trip. Words well woven and written out in a poetic expression that depicts the ocean in a very subtle way. The pictures that are in the post are also very graphically depictive. Here it is.

Listen to what great a silence they behold;
Sun in the clear blue sky, the vagrant breeze warm and dry.

The prelude draws its overtures from the reprise.
Slow and steady the tune is built.
With the flats and sharps as they gather,
Tempo together with the minors and majors.
Into an experience of this astounding resonance. The voice of orbital orgasm!

Whither the moon? Whither the waters? The roar!
As the scale descends, the roar drowns into a death,
Only to pass the dying refrain as the theme to the next.
The roar speaks in a million accents: of triumphs, of disappointments,
Of convictions, of negotiations , of a variety emotions and naked reasons.

In this brutal might there is beauty – austere or magnifique;
but nothing is permitted to last more than the lifetime of a wave.
This is no ordinary orchestra.
This is life, the concert writ against the horizon of constancy.

via Deja-vu

Daniel Tammet : A genius unravelled

I am not sure how many people have read about Daniel Tammet but i did not know about him until i saw the following “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” clip, few days back. Here is what it said :

Out of curiosity, i started searching more about this genius. And found a great article, more like an interview with him where he actually explains how he is able to do the things that he does.

An excerpt :

Daniel Tammet is talking. As he talks, he studies my shirt and counts the stitches. Ever since the age of three, when he suffered an epileptic fit, Tammet has been obsessed with counting. Now he is 26, and a mathematical genius who can figure out cube roots quicker than a calculator and recall pi to 22,514 decimal places. He also happens to be autistic, which is why he can’t drive a car, wire a plug, or tell right from left. He lives with extraordinary ability and disability.

I mean, the first look at the article amazed me because like the article says, no one has ever explained on how they are able to do calculations in the mind, fast or slow, because it is all intuitive and it just comes. He talks about seeing numbers as shapes, and calculations meld these shapes together to create new shapes that represent new numbers – that sounds fascinating; it would be great to be able to do that. There is no way you can associate words with what is happening inside your head. But this genius wonder, explains it all, in terms of patterns, colours and shapes. Beautiful !

Another excerpt :

“I do love numbers,” he says. “It isn’t only an intellectual or aloof thing that I do. I really feel that there is an emotional attachment, a caring for numbers. I think this is a human thing – in the same way that a poet humanises a river or a tree through metaphor, my world gives me a sense of numbers as personal. It sounds silly, but numbers are my friends.”

I can exactly understand what he says. Probably every coder can understand that perfectly too. The way you see the design in your head and you just code it without having to think again about variable names or the patterns or the abstraction. It just flows !

Maybe this is what the next evolution of man should look like. Humans, independent of machines, performing zillions of calculations per sec and able to communicate across continents with just the mind. That just might be the right time to throw away all your computers but until then, if you are not a born genius, code on …

There are some more links and views about Dan Tammet. Read on …

@ Wikipedia
@ Spear’s Grotto
@ Digital Antichrist
@ Past Peak
@ MultipleSclerosis
And here’s a good picture of him

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LinkoMania 101

Couple of days back, I found some good articles and links while browsing through blogs and sites. As usual, between work, i never had the chance to completely read all of it. Got to it now and finished reading them only to get lost amidst these links and wasted enough time that i don’t have the motivation anymore to read this late in night. So decided to post them here before i go to doze off for the day …
  • Mind May Affect Machines – Researchers at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program, or Pear, have been attempting to measure the effect of human consciousness on machines since 1979. No one can hear them, but they can see their apparent effect: balls that go in certain directions on command, water fountains that seem to rise higher with a wish and drums that quicken their beat — Very interesting and very Matrixy …
  • ‘Human-brained’ monkeys – Scientist warned that their latest experiments may accidently produce “human-brained” monkey. In this world gone mad, we won’t spank the monkey, the monkey will spank us — WTF ?!
  • Pseudoscience or Quantum Physics ? – A very interesting article on the most beloved theory in Modern physics …
  • The Birth of Google – Larry thought Sergey was arrogant. Sergey thought Larry was obnoxious. But their obsession with backlinks just might be the start of something big — A very good read on how the idea behind Google started growing into the behemoth that it has now become !
  • The Machine Doesn’t Stop – A very very interesting post about what will become of the Machine in the future. The machine that they refer to is the whole consciousness of machines that are connected to each other through the internet and which could breathe and work as a single entity, some time in the future ! A beautiful vision that reminds me of Terminator !

Well that’s it for now .. I am almost sleeping on my keyboard. Adios !