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Showing posts from January, 2011

I told you so ...

Such great research researchers do and such innovative ideas they come up with! Let me quote what researchers have to say: Men are more than twice as likely to continue dating a girlfriend who has cheated on them with another woman than one who has cheated with another man, according to new research from a University of Texas at Austin psychologist. Women show the opposite pattern. They are more likely to continue dating a man who has had a heterosexual affair than one who has had a homosexual affair. Interesting? Here's the full story then ...

Earth Hunting

That's pretty accurate a description of the astonishing job that Kepler is performing. Hopefully, in the next year or so, it will become as common place a name as Hubble is today. And of course there will be people who will question the rationale behind these missions. I am sure people must have doubted the wisdom of Columbus going on his voyage or Magellan going on his centuries ago. Humankind's innermost instinct has always been to be explorers. We're lucky that in spite of great difficulties, that human spirit is still being kept alive ... if barely.


Here's a story about how fatness gets forecast in the womb. Children born of moms with gestational diabetes will tend to become fat, say Sydney scientists.

In praise of sleeping ...

So, I enjoy sleeping. I mean with myself ... not with someone else — that would be a different story altogether. I am merely talking about the prosaic routine we all indulge in for about eight hours every night ... of course, if you are one of the multitude of youngsters employed by India's call center/BPO industry, then you would probably be indulging in this activity during day time ... Anyway, it occurred to me that if more people enjoyed this activity more and partook of it more often in more copious quantities, our species might be better off in some ways ... I mean, what do some folks do when they are not asleep ... planning new ways of killing other people, planning how to proselytize and persuade normal people to become suicide bombers, devise ever more powerful nuclear weapons or missiles or whatever, ever more stealthy nuclear submarines or airplanes, etc. How I wish Hitler was more fund of sleeping and just took an afternoon siesta like folks in my state of Orissa ... so

What A Species We Are !!!!

At a time when Indians are mired in a myriad tales of petty corruption — not to mention the usual incidents of robbery and husbands and wives killing each other — one hears tales of quantum computing. How can you reconcile these two activities as the product of the brain of individuals belonging to the same species??? But there it is — that's the reality. Imagine scientists able to store information in the form of the spin of elections !!! All I can say to that is — Oh my Gosh!

An Apple Without Jobs

No CEO has ever been so vital to a company or its future as Steve Jobs is to Apple. As Steve Jobs goes on medical leave again, it's no wonder that folks are wondering about what this portends. At 55, Jobs should have been on track to lead his company for another 20 years but that is not to be since he has got a liver transplant. With the secrecy that surrounds Jobs which is so typical, it's difficult to make out what this leave amounts to. On a personal scale, it makes one humble in some way when one realizes that there are medical challenges that medical science can't surmount. Even Steve Jobs is mortal ...

The Greatest Question

Are we alone in the universe? The one question that fascinates me more than any other. And my perspectives are these. The sheer complexity of biological forms makes me think that the evolution of intelligent life forms (such as humans) is likely to be a rather sparse occurrence. There will be many Earth-like planets … perhaps at least millions in the outer arms of the Milky Way revolving around stars like the Sun that the Earth revolves around. But the temperatures have to be just right for water to be plentiful in all three states. What were the stuff available in the early Earth that created the conditions that led to the emergence of primitive life forms? A planet with a lot of volcanic activity, lot of carbon-based complex organic molecules, a planet with continental plates slowly drifting, pushing, merging, separating, rising, and falling, lots of lightning, etc. How many planets will have all these enablers? Reduces the candidate planets to perhaps thousands. Then on pl

Sainting John Paul

So, the Pope is on his way to becoming a saint. It's so easy and common place to ascribe saintly qualities to the former Pope ... now dead (I wish to stress that). People will say ... oh, he was such a gentle old man ... but then I think even my grandfather ... or, both my grandfathers were pretty gentle as well ... most old men tend to be. So, what is the big deal? Let's go ahead and make saints of all old folks !!! And if you talk about miracles, my query would be how authentic are they? When a Pope or somebody touches someone and that person gets cured in some fashion, then that becomes a miracle. However, when heart surgeons and brain surgeons and trauma surgeons and cancer specialists bring the dead back to life so to say ... everyday and perhaps in numbers running into the millions, why is that not a miracle? I don't get it ...

One More Temple Stampede

These have become so numerous and common place in India that it's difficult to keep track of them. The latest in line of course is the stampede which happened in Sabarimala Temple yesterday. And of course, a stampede is so predictable ... the conditions for a stampede are almost 'perfect.' All these Gods have various weird habits such as needing to be worshipped on particular days of the year ... and of course, devotees are always crazy enough to bear the brunt of such huge gatherings .... What crazy, weird stuff ... but anyway, what can one do ... it's people's 'democratic' right to exercise their free will and if they wish to exercise it in this manner, then so be it.

To Get Berlusconied

That's a phrase which should be coined in the English language. Definition: To commit so many mistakes (particularly of a sexual nature) that eventually people get tired of you and decide to dump you .... I don't know when the people of Italy will get tired of their weird prime minister. I do not think that they like him or admire him or something ... I feel they are for some weird reason stuck with him as the PM ... perhaps because of the fractitious nature of Italian politics. Though one might add — What a country!

The Pope and the Big Bang

Or, the Big Bang Pope. Whichever ……………… What I’m referring to here is of course the Pope’s comment or opinion that God is apparently the ‘mind’ behind the Big Bang … oh well, who would have known that … except the Pope of course. It occurs to me though that neither the Bible nor any of the other religions have explicitly talked about the theory of the Big Bang and God being behind it. It’s only a theory that Physicists here on planet Earth came up with in the twentieth century … imagine what a very specific situation that is !!! Scientists here on one planet around one star in some ordinary, insignificant corner of this one galaxy, the Milky Way … I wonder what else knowledge the Pope is privy to on account of his ‘special’ relationship with God … why doesn’t the Pope share all his knowledge in a proactive manner rather than wait for science to come up with something and only then reacting to that. Science is far from complete of course and does not brag about itself — part of the very

Preface — Unweaving the Rainbow

A foreign publisher of my first book confessed that he could not sleep for three nights after reading it, so troubled was he by what he saw as its cold, bleak message. Others have asked me how I can bear to get up in the mornings. A teacher from a distant country wrote to me reproachfully that a pupil had come to him in tears after reading the same book, because it had persuaded her that life was empty and purposeless. He advised her not to show the book to any of her friends, for fear of contaminating them with the same nihilistic pessimism. Similar accusations of barren desolation, of promoting an arid and joyless message, are frequently flung at science in general, and it is easy for scientists to play up to them. My colleague Peter Atkins begins his book The Second Book (1984) in this vein: We are the children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. Thi

Winston Churchill

Some excerpts: There was a fine difference between Stalin and Satan, and Churchill grasped it. In Antony Beevor’s history of the Battle of Stalingrad, the brutality and waste of the Stalinist regime—prisoners left to die in the snow, political commissars ordering the execution of innocents, the dead of the great purges haunting the whole—is sickening. But the murderousness of the Nazi invaders—children killed en masse and buried in common graves—is satanic. It is the tragedy of modern existence that we have to make such distinctions. Yet that does not mean that such distinctions cannot be made, or that Churchill did not make them. His moral instincts were uncanny. In 1944, after the deportation of the Jews from Hungary, when the specifics of the extermination camps were still largely unknown, he wrote that the Nazis’ war on the Jews would turn out to be “probably the greatest and most horrible crime ever committed in the whole history of the world.” Here's the link to The New Yorke

The Bias Effect

Or, how our pre-conceived notions and desires and more even affect the scientific method. Here's a startling article about all that from The New Yorker: