Ironically unsatisfied

A session in glory after a long wait,
Whither thy will to learn.
Failing miserably even the simplest test
This mind feels sore and in unrest.

Basics, complicated by words,
Eludes the mind in vigorous anxiety.
Never has this feeling come before
Such fear, in the path of passion, flesh devoured.

All my professor wanted was answers,
Answers that i knew,
but too dumb to say ;
Anxiety it seems, cripples the ego of the beast.

The result doth not matter.
The energy dissipated in fulfilling the passion,
Eats away the peace without rest
What shall i do, to neutralize this irony ?


At last, i passed’em all !

Yes, i passed all my qualifiers. I am officially a PhD candidate now !

Next, i am completely disappointed with the way i performed today. Eventhough, i am sure that my prof would have argued in favor of me, i feel disgusted with the way i stared blankly for some of the questions – some because i couldn’t remember and some because i couldn’t understand the russian accent of another prof. I definitely didn’t blurt out everything i knew and made myself look like an unprepared idiot. Overall, i did much worse than i could have possibly imagined.

Ironically i did pass and now i do not know how to feel. Am i supposed to feel bad about how i flunked this or am i supposed to feel happy that i did manage to pass.

Either way, i am out of here to get a drink.


Not quite a PhD candidate yet

Yup. I’ve got another round of oral qualifier and they’ve decided to conduct it this Friday. Can’t wait for the damn thing to get over when i can breathe the free air and say ‘I am a PhD student’ !

Hopefully, all the drinking after the written qualifier results hasn’t eaten away my gray cells to an irreparable extent. Well, gotta go and read more and start preparing for the test more seriously. Other than that, just the usual things : research, coding, classes, assignments and presentations.

Will chip in again with a post on Friday to write about the oral experience 😉 Until then, adios amigos.

Quotes – 7

“Beware the leader who bangs the drums in war to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind.And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, they will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so.

How do I know ? For this is what I have done. And I am Ceasar.”

– An experienced leader’s pragmatic words.

Nuclear Plant Has Flaw Undetected for 19 Years

This is scary at first sight.Excerpt from the article

A potential problem with the emergency reactor core cooling system at the nation’s largest nuclear power plant went undetected from 1986, when it began producing power, until last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) and the plant operator confirmed Thursday.

The issue was identified when engineers at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station did an analysis after NRC inspectors raised questions at a detailed inspection early last week. The NRC was following up to see if earlier cooling system problems had been fixed.

The review showed the emergency cooling system may not operate as expected to provide water to reactor cores after a small leak in the reactor cooling lines, NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.

Practically, for this flaw to lead to any kind of disatrous results, lots of redundant safety systems need to fail together. Well, i am not refuting the fact that such an incident could have happened anytime in the past 19 years of its operation but chances for a complete failure and a meltdown are slim. Nevertheless, this is definitely a serious issue and hopefully, the NRC will bring in a stricter system to check all the flaws in all operating reactors.

God, i dont even want to begin to imagine what the media fuss will be, on all this.

Logic and math riddles

Today on Slashdot, a message board challenge to assemble a catalog of favority math and logic riddles. Well not all of them are that great but they have some really interesting puzzles among the lot.
There is a king and there are his n prisoners. The king has a dungeon in his castle that is shaped like a circle, and has n cell doors around the perimeter, each leading to a separate, utterly sound proof room. When within the cells, the prisoners have absolutely no means of communicating with each other.

The king sits in his central room and the n prisoners are all locked in their sound proof cells. In the king’s central chamber is a table with a single chalice sitting atop it. Now, the king opens up a door to one of the prisoners’ rooms and lets him into the room, but always only one prisoner at a time! So he lets in just one of the prisoners, any one he chooses, and then asks him a question, “Since I first locked you and the other prisoners into your rooms, have all of you been in this room yet?” The prisoner only has two possible answers. “Yes,” or, “I’m not sure.” If any prisoner answers “yes” but is wrong, they all will be beheaded. If a prisoner answers “yes,” however, and is correct, all prisoners are granted full pardons and freed. After being asked that question and answering, the prisoner is then given an opportunity to turn the chalice upside down or right side up. If when he enters the room it is right side up, he can choose to leave it right side up or to turn it upside down, it’s his choice. The same thing goes for if it is upside down when he enters the room. He can either choose to turn it upright or to leave it upside down. After the prisoner manipulates the chalice (or not, by his choice), he is sent back to his own cell and securely locked in.

The king will call the prisoners in any order he pleases, and he can call and recall each prisoner as many times as he wants, as many times in a row as he wants. The only rule the king has to obey is that eventually he has to call every prisoner in an arbitrary number of times. So maybe he will call the first prisoner in a million times before ever calling in the second prisoner twice, we just don’t know. But eventually we may be certain that each prisoner will be called in ten times, or twenty times, or any number you choose.

Here’s one last monkey wrench to toss in the gears, though. The king is allowed to manipulate the cup himself, k times, out of the view of any of the prisoners. That means the king may turn an upright cup upside down or vice versa up to k times, as he chooses, without the prisoners knowing about it. This does not mean the king must manipulate the cup any number of times at all, only that he may.

via Slashdot and Boing Boing

Also, found this great resource of riddles over at UCB’s site from the slashdot post. Definitely worth checking out if you have an hour or two to spare on some good grey cell petrifying puzzles.

Update : While we are at solving puzzles, here is one more awesome question that i had worked on, a long time back. Dig this.

You have a port that you are reading numbers from. You know that there is one number that is generated in more than half of the cases. You keep reading numbers arbitrarily long until you are given a command to stop. When you stop you have to return the number that has occurred in more than half of the cases.

(Hint: you don’t have enough memory to store all the numbers)

Here’s the actual link.

Hot new fuel for nuclear reactors

Before i delve in to the implication of what the following article means, let me give you a brief introduction about Nuclear fuel and how we produce power. This is for the uninitiated and i provide this in a hope to write more technically and to help you learn something new today.

First, you have the reactor core, loaded with nuclear fuel. Neutrons induce fission in a fuel element and once a fission occurs, it releases 2-3 more neutrons. If you can capture those fission neutrons and induce more fission, you end up with a sustaining chain reaction.

Now each fission reaction releases about 200 Mev of energy. That’s exactly 3.204E-11 Joules. That’s freakin miniscule but when we have enriched uranium with atomic densities > 1E22(btw, this is normal. Parallel : 1Kg of H2 has 6E23 atoms !), you could end up with net energies of about 3E11 J/s. This energy conducts out from the fuel, since there is a coolant flow in the core outside the pellet. Depending on the coolant’s heat capacity, some amount of heat is carried away by the coolant to the turbines, where with an awesome 30% efficiency, the heat is converted to power !

And that is a short gist of how Nuclear power is produced.

Now, back to my post. Here’s an article i read at NS. Look what it says below.

A Fuel pellet that is 50 per cent better at conducting heat will make nuclear power cheaper and more efficient, its developers claim.

Engineers from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, added beryllium oxide to the standard uranium oxide pellets used in light water reactors. Because uranium oxide does not conduct heat well, pellets made of it tend to crack and degrade as the temperature of the reactor core rises and falls, and this means they have to be replaced before all the fuel has been used. Beryllium oxide is a better conductor of heat, so it allows the fuel pellet to cool more efficiently, says Alvin Solomon, who led the research. This means the combined pellet lasts much longer than the standard one.

This would mean a higher heat conduction out of the fuel to the coolant. If we use good coolants, like liquid metals, then we could extract more heat out and generate more power as a result. Since we are energy greedy beings by nature, this research has great value and potential in reducing the energy craving !


Quotes – 5

I am sure every one of you know by now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been jointly awarded to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Director general of IAEA. In his interview, after the announcement of the award, he made a beautiful statement. Here it is.

If we are going to survive, we need to put the emphasis on what unites us together and not what separates us. It is not the difference in colour or creed or border, or what have you; it’s a fact that you are part of the human race, and the more we are able to understand the affinity we have with it, with each other, the more we can have, achieve, a lasting peace, durable peace, I believe.

And that my friend, is a true peace loving man’s words !

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.