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Showing posts from November, 2012

Inspirational Heroes

I want to talk about real heroes today à not the kind we elevate to the status of demi-gods too easily and unthinkingly.

“There’s a secret society of geniuses who weave and shape the fabric of our culture,” somebody had said about Subrahmanian Chandrasekhar (he was known among his colleagues as ‘Chandra’) on the occasion of awarding a medal to Chandra.

Yes. Chandra was such a genius and so was Srinivasa Ramanujan.

It is not widely known that one of NASA’s space telescopes (‘Great Observatories’) is named after him? à the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The most well-known of the space telescopes is of course the Hubble Space Telescope which has revealed so much about the wonders of our universe in its 20 year long lifetime.

Every educated person must consider it his or her bounden duty to be acquainted with the images and the results of these great space projects.

To give just a bit of a primer about Chandra, some of his areas of work included these ·stellar structure, ·theory of white dwarfs, ·st…

James Acord — Alchemist for the Nuclear Age

That's the title of an article about him in The New Yorker. All I can say is ... What a Life !

The only private individual in the world who had license to handle nuclear materials.

More related tales here:

Remembering Nehru

I realized with a start that this week is the birthday of my favorite character from the pages of history.

When I flip through the pages of history and of course I am no professional historian, I find that I have more regard and affection for Jawaharlal Nehru than anyone else.

Of course, there is Mahatma Gandhi. And there are others belonging to India and to other nations whose achievements I find awe inspiring or admirable or creditable or inspirational.

Internationally, there were men like Washington to Jefferson to Lincoln – three of the great presidents of the United States. There was Napoleon and there was Lenin. And Mao. The 20th century was a period that provided enough scope for megalomaniac men of varied hues to chase their dreams. So, recent history is replete with larger than life characters – some who achieved an astonishing amount of infamy such as Hitler and Stalin and Mussolini to others who have left their mark on human history which is essentially positive: men such as C…

Is Life Beautiful

When people are ‘lucky’, they tend to reflect on their good luck and tend to thank providence profusely for it and reach conclusions such as “Life is Beautiful.” I always wonder if life is indeed beautiful – and, even more pertinently, how valid an argument it is to reach that conclusion when one happens to get “lucky” by chance. I recall numerous instances of people who survive natural disasters thanking the Lord for letting them live while others died. Without citing any particular incident, let us just think for a moment how fair that is – to thank God for letting you live. How about the others who died? Were they at fault somehow and deserved to die? The recent serial blasts in Jaipur killed many people. Did the good Lord decide that these people were unworthy of living and so deserved to die and so the terrorists were in fact agents of God. So, why spend so much resource in trying to find them and punish them? The September 11, 2001 attacks in the US were carried out by people who w…

Richard Feynman on the Gap Dividing Science and Human Culture

A few quotes from the incomparable Feynman:
" … people — I mean the average person, the great majority of people, the enormous majority of people — are woefully, pitifully, absolutely ignorant of the science of the world that they live in, and they can stay that way … And an interesting question of the relation of science to modern society is just that — why is it possible for people to stay so woefully ignorant and yet reasonably happy in modern society when so much knowledge is unavailable to them? Incidentally, about knowledge and wonder, Mr. Bernardini* said we shouldn’t teach wonders but knowledge. It may be a difference in the meaning of the words. I think we should teach them wonders and that the purpose of knowledge is to appreciate wonders even more. And that the knowledge is just to put into correct framework the wonder that nature is. " " … as I’d like to show Galileo our world, I must show him something with a great deal of shame. If we look away from the scie…

My Billion Dollar Building

I am planning to build a house to live in. I am thinking out-of-the-box and thinking big. Really big. I am planning on building a 50-storey residence for myself and my little family. You think that’s a bit big for a single family? No, no, let me explain. The first five floors of the building will merely constitute the car park for all my cars and those of my guests. The next five floors will be service floors that will house various amenities such as a laundry and warehouses to stock food supplies, etc. Then, the next ten floors will be for my guests. There will be master bedrooms and massage rooms and Jacuzzis and gyms and sprawling bathrooms and facilities for playing lawn tennis and basketball and squash. The next five floors of the building will house a common library to provide intellectual stimulation to my friends as well as me. There will be five floors on top of these devoted to entertainment. There will be 5 movie theaters with various seating capacities. There will of course be a…

US Presidential Election 2012 Electoral College Map

All the Electoral College maths of the U.S. Presidential Election 2012 in one map.