I salute Team Hoyt

There are several inspiring moments that motivate me everyday, to run and push myself, greater and beyond what I thought was physically possible, for me. But this story about a father and son, who have run 60 marathons (25 of them the Boston Marathon), 6 Ironman Triathlons (composed of 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 116 mile bike ride and then a 26 mile maraton), and other races for a total of nearly 1000 events, takes pushing the limits, to a whole new level.

Kudos to Team Hoyt.

Don’t swear in Texas

Every now and then, you hear how conservative Texas is. But you do not realize the stark reality until something like this comes up.

Read the article about a guy who got cited for Disorderly Conduct, a misdemeanor, for swearing in a Texas restaurant.

Reminder to self: The next time you are in a restaurant, watch what you say !

St Patricks Day 2009.

Well, another reason to down couple more green beer and guiness pints ! This will hopefully be the last St Paddy’s I spent at College Station with my friends and so hoping to have a good time today. Also, I could use a brief vacation from work since things have been a little blue lately.

More updates later…

Batteries that charge in 10 seconds.

Wow! There aren’t too many things I see everyday that make me go wow ! This could be next big thing that might have a noticeable impact on how you and I work everyday and the possibilities are quite staggering if you think about it. But of course for now, I’ll be happy to have just quickly charging cell phones, laptops, mp3 players and hybrid cars that do not degrade in performance quickly if it is plugged in too long ! Grrr …

Here’s an excerpt from the article that talks a little about the physics involved:

A number of recent papers suggested that, in at least one lithium battery class (based on LiFePO4), the problem wasn’t the speed at which lithium moved—instead, it could only enter and exit crystals of this salt at specific locations. This, in turn, indicated that figuring a way to speed up this process would increase the overall performance of the battery.

To accomplish this, the authors developed a process that created a disorganized lithium phosphate coating on the surfaces of LiFePO4 crystals. By tweaking the ratio of iron to phosphorous in the starting mix and heating the material to 600°C under argon for ten hours, the authors created a material that has a glass-like coating that’s less than 5nm thick, which covers the surface of pellets that are approximately 50nm across. That outer coating has very high lithium mobility, which allows charge to rapidly move into and out of storage in the LiFePO4 of the core of these pellets. In short, because lithium can move quickly through this outer coating, it can rapidly locate and enter the appropriate space on the LiFePO4 crystals.

The results are pretty astonishing. At low discharge rates, a cell prepared from this material discharges completely to its theoretical limit (~166mAh/g). As the authors put it, “Capacity retention of the material is superior.” Running it through 50 charge/discharge cycles revealed no significant change in the total capacity of the battery.

Here are a few links on the same topic if you are hungry to learn more about it.

1) MIT news.
2) The UK Daily mail.
3) At Technology-Review via Slashdot.
4) BBC.

PI day 2009

And here it is again. The celebration of that beautiful number, the mathematical uniqueness that occurs in our life repeatedly, whether you realize it or not. This is PI day: Mar 14 (3.14).

Since I’ve been doing this the past few years, I’m not going to repeat all the fun facts about PI. But I will nevertheless give you some more interesting facts and links I found recently.

1) The Pi day Sudoku puzzle.

2) Things that equal Pi. Btw, the 360 blog has some really interesting posts and you should definitely subscribe to it.

3) Oh and of course, the recent appreciation of the reverent number even by politicians. Check this out.

4) And if you want to buy some swag for your PI day party, I suggest getting these beautiful PI shaped ice maker.

5) Update: Just found out that old Al’ was born on PI day. How fitting ?! Thanks to Neatorama for the piece of trivia.

Hmm.. Another year. Another day. Time is flying I tell you …

Sita Sings the Blues

If you haven’t heard about this, then take some time to watch `Sita Sings the Blues`. It is an animated feature film, written and directed by Nina Paley. After watching a few scenes, you will notice that it has primarily been done with just 2D CG effects only.

Of course, if you do not understand the background, it is based on an Indian epic `Ramayana`. The epic is the story of Rama, an Avatar to symbolize the perfect human, the perfect son, the perfect brother, the perfect king and follows his struggles with ethics and societal morals to do everything right. His wife Sita is another symbolism for the perfect wife who abides by her husband’s word and loves him immaterial of the inflictions and abuse she undergoes as a result of Rama’s pledge to uphold virtue. In simpler words, she is the epitome of womanliness emphasized throughout ancient Indian literature.

The movie though is based on this tale, is focused on the jazz music of Annette Hanshaw. And it has also been released under the Creative Commons share-alike license.

For those Indians who take offense to the depictions of Sita as a busty, gloomy woman, please relax and enjoy the animation and retelling of the epic tale with a different twist. Now grab some snacks, go to the site and enjoy.

Watch “Sita Sings the Blues” on Reel 13.

1) Official site
2) Wikipedia article

China moving forward with AP1000 reactors

This is good news. I know that the NRC in the USA are already working on getting site licenses approved for the AP1000 reactors and this is a welcome move that should spark more interest in this Westinghouse design.

There are also several more designs apparently being planned for construction in China, in the near future. An excerpt from World-Nuclear-News:

The AP1000 is to be one of two designs built en-masse in China. The other is the CPR-1000, itself derived from French reactors imported for the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in the 1980s. China has a range of power reactors including Candu-6s from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd and VVER-1000s from AtomStroyExport. Two Areva EPRs are planned, as are two more VVER-1000s.

China Fires up Construction of the First of Many AP1000 nuclear reactors.

I run. And I love it.

In case you have not known, or I haven’t updated, I have successfully completed the Chicago Marathon before and a half marathon now called the Armadillo Dash recently. Of course, both the times, I was kind of disappointed with my timings because I was aiming for a faster pace but fell short. Not too terrible considering that this was my first shot at a gargantuan task (IMO) for my body, but nevertheless, I’ve learnt things about myself through these experiences.

And like most things that I love, running has become an addiction to me … It could be the release of endorphins after the run or may be the weak body pushed to its limits transcends into an exhilarating feeling following the finish. I do not know. But I have realized that you can extend the threshold on how much pain your body can endure. All the meditation, the focus, the will, the perseverance is what challenges you during those last miles and no matter how prepared you feel, for any race, the final sprint on the last mile, is beautiful.

I felt like rambling about running and so there it is … Anyway, the point being, I am hooked. And am not searching to cure this addiction !

Another revelation

Chance creates passages in ways unthought,
Where lies the thrill in chaos fought ?
Friends lead the stranded mind,
Subtle yet sure the games and its deliverance.

A revelation. A passing memory.
Knowing knowledge cures, is half the journey.