History : Why drive on the left ?

A few days earlier, me and some friends from my department were talking about the general driving system and specifically why the British chose to drive on the left while most of everyone in Europe and America drive on the right. We could not come up with any possible reason whatsoever to convince ourselves the necessity for such a discrepancy.

Now, accidentally, i came upon an article that solves the puzzle. The article answers the reason on why do the British drive on the left ?

Here’s the excerpt from the article that was relevant to the discussion i went through.

In the Middle Ages you kept to the left for the simple reason that you never knew who you’d meet on the road in those days. You wanted to make sure that a stranger passed on the right so you could go for your sword in case he proved unfriendly. This custom was given official sanction in 1300 AD, when Pope Boniface VIII invented the modern science of traffic control by declaring that pilgrims headed to Rome should keep left.

The papal system prevailed until the late 1700s, when teamsters in the United States and France began hauling farm products in big wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. These wagons had no driver’s seat. Instead the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team. Since you were sitting on the left, naturally you wanted everybody to pass on the left so you could look down and make sure you kept clear of the other guy’s wheels. Ergo, you kept to the right side of the road. The first known keep-right law in the U.S. was enacted in Pennsylvania in 1792, and in the ensuing years many states and Canadian provinces followed suit.

Cool isn’t it ?!

Ten Obscure Factoids about Albert Einstein

1. He Liked His Feet Naked

“When I was young, I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in the sock,” he once said. “So I stopped wearing socks.” Einstein was also a fanatical slob, refusing to “dress properly” for anyone. Either people knew him or they didn’t, he reasoned – so it didn’t matter either way.

2. He Hated Scrabble

Aside from his favourite past-time sailing (“the sport which demands the least energy”), Einstein shunned any recreational activity that required mental agility. As he told the New York Times, “When I get through with work I don’t want anything that requires the working of the mind.”

3. He Was A Rotten Speller

Although he lived for many years in the United States and was fully bilingual, Einstein claimed never to be able to write in English because of “the treacherous spelling”. He never lost his distinctive German accent either, summed up by his catch-phrase “I vill a little t’ink”.

4. He Loathed Science Fiction

Lest it distort pure science and give people the false illusion of scientific understanding, he recommended complete abstinence from any type of science fiction. “I never think of the future. It comes soon enough.” He also thought people who claimed to have seen flying saucers should keep it to themselves.

5. He Smoked Like A Chimney

A life member of the Montreal Pipe Smokers Club, Einstein was quoted as saying: “Pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment of human affairs.” He once fell into the water during a boating expedition but managed heroically to hold on to his pipe.

6. He Wasn’t Much Of A Musician

Einstein would relax in his kitchen with his trusty violin, stubbornly trying to improvise something of a tune. When that didn’t work, he’d have a crack at Mozart.

7. Alcohol Was Not His Preferred Drug

At a press conference upon his arrival to New York in 1930, he said jokingly of Prohibition: “I don’t drink, so it’s all the same to me.” In fact, Einstein had been an outspoken critic of “passing laws which cannot be enforced”.

8. He Equated Monogamy With Monotony

“All marriages are dangerous,” he once told an interviewer. “Marriage is the unsuccessful attempt to make something lasting out of an incident.” He was notoriously unfaithful as a husband, prone to falling in love with somebody else directly after the exchanging of vows.

9. His Memory Was Shot

Believing that birthdays were for children, his attitude is summed up in a letter he wrote to his girlfriend Mileva Maric: “My dear little sweetheart … first, my belated cordial congratulations on your birthday yesterday, which I forgot once again.”

10. His Cat Suffered Depression

Fond of animals, Einstein kept a housecat which tended to get depressed whenever it rained. Ernst Straus recalls him saying to the melancholy cat: “I know what’s wrong, dear fellow, but I don’t know how to turn it off.”

via Science A Go Go

Bloody cool trivia huh ?!

Happy PI day

Yup. I didn’t make this up. Mathematicians in many places are celebrating the PI day.

Notice the time and the date of the post and see if you get it ?!

Well if you don’t, not a problem. Here’s a brief explanation …

The number PI to first 6 digits is given as

which in terms of time (in a very crude way) would be March 14, 1.59.20 PM. So in memory of this beautiful number, i dedicate this post to PI.

And here is another trivia about PI which most people would not know.

Alright then. Off to do some more reading now …


Telepathy. Is it real ?

Here’s a nice piece of information that someone forwarded me recently, that i just couldn’t let go without posting here. This is about evidence of a strong telepathic connection between mothers and newborn babies, dogs and their owners, and identical twins. Here are a few real experiments that have been conducted to prove this ! Now read on.

Experiment 1

In 1997, the same polygraph expert supevised an experiment held in front of a live audience for a programme in Carlton TV’s Paranormal World of Paul McKenna series shown on 24th June. The subjects on this occasion were two very lively teenagers, Elaine and Evelyn Dove.

Elaine sat in the studio in front of a large pyramid put together by the special effects wizards, while Evelyn and Jeremy Barrett were in a separate room. When Elaine was nicely relaxed after some skilful light hypnosis from Paul McKenna, the pyramid exploded in a burst of sparks, flashes and coloured smoke, giving her a considerable shock. This showed up on Evelyn’s polygraph as a huge deflection – one pen running off the top of the paper, causing Barrett to comment over the intercom that “Evelyn certainly picked up something from somewhere.”

“There certainly was something coming,” he added, “and it looks to me like shock or surprise”. Interestingly, neither Evelyn Dove nor Richard Powles had any conscious awareness of the shocks their twins were being given although they were both unmistakably aware of them unconsciously.

Experiment 2

On January 10th 2003, 8-year-old Richard Powles sat in a soundproof room in a London television studio in front of a table on which there was a cardboard box and a plastic bucket filled with ice-cold water. On command, he rolled up his sleeve and plunged his arm into the near-freezing water, giving a gasp as he did so. In another studio well out of sight or earshot, his identical twin brother Damien was wired up to a four-channel polygraph (lie-detector) which, under the expert supervision of polygrapher Jeremy Barrett, was monitoring his respiration, abdominal muscles, pulse and galvanic skin response (sweat on the hands).

Neither he nor Barrett had any idea what was going on in the other room, although both knew they were taking part in a telepathy experiment to be shown later that day on Channel 4’s Richard and Judy chat show. All Damien had to do was sit quietly and “tune in” to his brother, while Barrett’s job was to watch the four pens as they woibbled along the paper chart and look out for something that shouldn’t be there.

He soon found it. At the exact moment of Richard’s sharp intake of breath caused by the freezing water, there was a sudden blip on the line monitoring Damien’s respiration rate. It was as though he too had gasped – which he hadn’t. The effect was so obvious that Barrett pointed to it with his thumb to indicate that he knew something had happened to Richard.

In another experiment, Richard was asked to open a cardboard box, which he did, hoping to find something nice – preferably eatable – in it. Instead, a huge rubber snake shot out of it at him, giving him a fright. This, too, was instantly picked up by his twin as the pulse line on the chart clearly indicated.

Was this visible proof of telepathy? Although this was not a rigidly controlled scientific experiment, it looked very much like it.

–Although the evidence for telepathy has been coming in regularly since the founding in 1882 of the Society for Psychical Research -overall probability of chance in all of the published controlled experiments being of the order of one in billions – many remain unconvinced. Some refuse to admit even the possibility of telepathy, while more reasonable sceptics prefer to suspend judgment until there is not only unmistakable evidence for it and a theory explaining how it works.

I am still trying to find out the original source of this article but haven’t got my hands on that yet. Will see if i can dig more info by googling :)

Stephan’s Quintet – The galaxy collision

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Max-Planck Institute/P. Appleton (SSC/Caltech)

This false-color composite image of the Stephan’s Quintet galaxy cluster clearly shows one of the largest shock waves ever seen (green arc), produced by one galaxy falling toward another at over a million miles per hour. It is made up of data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and a ground-based telescope in Spain.

Four of the five galaxies in this image are involved in a violent collision, which has already stripped most of the hydrogen gas from the interiors of the galaxies. The centers of the galaxies appear as bright yellow-pink knots inside a blue haze of stars, and the galaxy producing all the turmoil, NGC7318b, is the left of two small bright regions in the middle right of the image. One galaxy, the large spiral at the bottom left of the image, is a foreground object and is not associated with the cluster.

The titanic shock wave, larger than our own Milky Way galaxy, was detected by the ground-based telescope using visible-light wavelengths. It consists of hot hydrogen gas. As NGC7318b collides with gas spread throughout the cluster, atoms of hydrogen are heated in the shock wave, producing the green glow.

Spitzer pointed its infrared spectrograph at the peak of this shock wave (middle of green glow) to learn more about its inner workings. This instrument breaks light apart into its basic components. Data from the instrument are referred to as spectra and are displayed as curving lines that indicate the amount of light coming at each specific wavelength.

The Spitzer spectrum showed a strong infrared signature for incredibly turbulent gas made up of hydrogen molecules. This gas is caused when atoms of hydrogen rapidly pair-up to form molecules in the wake of the shock wave. Molecular hydrogen, unlike atomic hydrogen, gives off most of its energy through vibrations that emit in the infrared.

This highly disturbed gas is the most turbulent molecular hydrogen ever seen. Astronomers were surprised not only by the turbulence of the gas, but by the incredible strength of the emission. The reason the molecular hydrogen emission is so powerful is not yet completely understood.

Stephan’s Quintet is located 300 million light-years away in the Pegasus constellation.

One thing to remember is that because galactic distances are so vast, even though galaxies frequently collide, the actual stars in them almost never do. The pictures make it look like there should be millions of individual collisions, but in fact, collision means just passing though one another.

The gravitational effects of course can totally rip the smaller galaxy apart. There are small satellite galaxies being sucked into the milky way as we speak! Cool huh ?!