Thursday, December 30, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Randy Pausch was a Professor of Computer Science at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennysylvania. He was born in 1960. When he was 46 years old he learnt that he had pancreatic cancer. In August 2007 he was told that he had about 6 months of good health left and in September 2007 he delivered his 'Last Lecture' on the topic 'Achieving your Childhood Dreams.' This was a phenomenal lecture delivered with great humor and enthusiasm. I saw it twice in the last one week. It is moving and tells so much about the man - his energy, enthusiasm, passion for Engineering - he calls himself an 'Efficiency freak' and love for his family. Randy Pausch died on July 25, 2008 and is survived by his wonderful wife Jai and three lovely children.
In his lecture, Randy talked about his childhood dreams, enabling others to achieve their dreams and finally about lessons learnt.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
- In all affairs it is a healthy thing, now and then, to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
Many people would sooner die than think; infact they do so.
No one gossips about other people's secret virtues.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
The main things which seem to me important on their own account, and not merely as means to other things are knowledge, art, instinctive happiness and relations of friendship or affection.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
- Steven Pinker on his choice not to have children
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
"Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown and partly, as I have said, the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing -- fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a better place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it."
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
"I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars."
- Charles Darwin
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Chile miners rescue operation is a concerted effort involving several people - scientists, technicians, ministers, psychologists and more. I am intrigued by the so many thanks sent heavenwards ... Why did the omnipotent god let such an incident happen and then wait for 69 days before intervening to help them? I feel thanking a non existent being is somehow belittling those who toiled day and night orchestrating the rescue efforts; though coming to think of it, some of those very people might consider themselves as divine tools...Beats me.
On the 17th day, the first message from the miners was received saying they were alive....
And now the operation is in full swing...already thirteen of them have been rescued. Hope it is completed successfully.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
In his New York Times article "Games India isn't ready to play" he says only the affluent elite Indians are anxious about India's image in the wealthy world. He further says "Like hundreds of millions of other voiceless Indians, the migrant laborers in my village are even less able to distinguish between the oppressions of old feudal India and the pitiless exploitations of the new business-minded India." He concludes by quoting Walter Benjamin, a German philosopher, “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.”
As I was impressed by the article, I endeavored to know more about the man.
In his interview to the Believer magazine he comes across as a very well read and articulate person.
And in case you do not have the time to go through the whole interview, some interesting excerpts:
"Initially, I saw the life of the writer as a life of reading, which for me was really an extension of the life of idleness that I’d been living as an undergraduate at university. Reading gave me so much pleasure that I felt that maybe I could continue that life indefinitely. I basically went from day to day, reading a lot, loving most books I read and making notes about them. I was just hoping that nothing would happen—like having to apply for a job or think seriously about a career—that would put a stop to the wonderful life I was leading. And, miraculously, nothing stopped me."
"I definitely miss that sense of being a disinterested reader who’s reading purely for the pleasure of imagining his way into emotional situations and vividly realized scenes in nineteenth-century France or late nineteenth-century Russia. Often I find that when I go back to those books by Flaubert or Chekhov—which I loved—I’m unable to summon up that same imaginative richness. That seems to me a huge loss. Now I’m thinking more about the craftsmanship of it—why did this paragraph end here—narrowly technical things."
"I don’t know how many critics today are trying to make the act of reading a more enriching experience as distinct from establishing their own superior intelligence vis-à-vis authors."
"I write for a very elite audience, but is there something else that I’m also responsible to? People who write about issues like poverty or terrorism are a part of the elite, and the distance between the elite and nonelite is growing very fast. You can move around the world but meet only people who speak your language, who share the same ideas, the same beliefs, and in doing so you can lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of the world does not think or believe in or speak the everyday discourse of the elite. Yet their lives are being shaped by these elites, by people like us. I don’t mean this in a pompous way, but we have a responsibility to articulate their sense of suffering."
"You need to work yourself up into some kind of a state every morning and believe that you are doing something terribly important upon which the future of literature, if not the world, depends. Buddhism tells you that this is just a foolish fantasy. So, I try not to think too much about Buddhism early in the morning. From noon on, I think about it."
"I wake up at five or five-thirty, have a cup of coffee on the balcony overlooking the mountains, which is absolutely wonderful, look at the newspapers, start work. Lunch arrives—lunch is made by a family in the village, they deliver it."
"The internet has spawned people for whom knowingness is more important than knowledge. It equips you with the illusion of offering knowledge instantly—and quite easily—so you can read a few articles on a few subjects and feel well informed but not actually know any of those subjects in any depth."
"I feel very privileged to get to read and write and not to have to do things that I don’t like, and I don’t want to give that up. Everything else is just a bonus and often a distraction from the writing, reading, and traveling that gives me the most pleasure. I feel that I already have the life I love and I don’t see how it could be improved radically by any greater material success."
A man of substance.... should read him more.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Sixty symbols is a collections of videos on physics presented by experts from the University of Nottingham.
It is enriching to see scientists answer questions which are put forth by 'the common man' and it is revealing when they smile and say 'I don't know' to some questions. But then they proceed to think and come up with some interesting possibilities. The presentation is endearing and elegant. An excellent project.
One more video to entice you to visit the website. Enjoy.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.
Rainbows are fascinating even when you know the phenomena of refraction and reflection that cause it. And how did Newton decide there were only seven colours in the spectrum. Of course the colours are indistinct and diffused and it is a continuous spectrum. As to how Newton decided on the number 7 there are several surmises ranging from how he drew an analogy with the seven notes in music to seven days in a week and even that he considered seven to be a 'spiritual' number. But the fallout of it is whenever we see a rainbow we try to identify the seven colours though it is generally very difficult to distinguish the violet - blue - indigo bands.
When Newton explained the phenomenon of rainbow, John Keats famously lamented the 'unweaving of rainbow' thus:
Do not all charms fly
At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—-
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.
My most favorite of Richard Dawkins' books is 'Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for wonder' which wonderfully seeks to counter Keats' view and instead argues that the poetry of the rainbow was not destroyed by Newton; instead it seeks to enhance our appreciation of Nature in all its glory.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
The title says it all - it is a gentle book without any hard theories and Marcus has a pleasant style of writing and so the book flows interestingly.
More importantly, you are armed to answer some of the toughest questions that children so effortlessly ask and you are left speechless and manage to mumble - "Oh, that is an interesting question. I don't know the answer too. Let us find out." Often I resist the urge to immediately google for the answer and force myself along with my daughter to instead search for it in the relevant book.
One such question is answered in the chapter 'Breathing in Einstein' in this book. If it would take 10 million atoms to span the width of a single full stop how did we ever discover that everything is made of atoms in the first place. A brief of that chapter then for your consumption.
The idea of 'atoms' was first conjured by the Greek philosopher Democritus in about 440 BC, who called the hypothetical building block of all matter atoms from the Greek a-tomos, meaning uncuttable. Since atoms were too smal finding evidence was very difficult. Bernoulli imagined a gas as a collection of billions of atoms in a frenzied motion like a swarm of angry bees. Boyle observed this too. However Robert Brown, a botanist observed in 1827 through a magnifying glass, pollen grains suspended in water, undergoing a curious zig zag motion through the liquid. But he could not solve the mystery which was solved eventually in 1905 by Albert Einstein. Einstein said that the reason for the crazy dance of the pollen grains was that they were under continual machine-gun bombardment by tiny water molecules and devised a mathematical theory to describe Brownian motion.
Then in 1981 the scanning tunnelling microscope - STM was invented by Binnig and Rohrer for which they won the Nobel Prize for Physics. The STM uses a stylus, more like a gramaphone needle charged with electricity, dragging it across the surface of a material and building a picture of the undulations in a computer.
The author says "Their STM images were some of the most remarkable in the history of science, ranking alongside that of Earth rising above the gray desolation of the moon or the sweeping spiral staircase of DNA. Atoms looked like tiny footballs ....."
How lyrical it would be in Bengali.....
Art thou abroad on this stormy night
on thy journey of love, my friend?
The sky groans like one in despair.
I have no sleep tonight.
Ever and again I open my door and look out on
the darkness, my friend!
I can see nothing before me.
I wonder where lies thy path!
By what dim shore of the ink-black river,
by what far edge of the frowning forest,
through what mazy depth of gloom art thou threading
thy course to come to me, my friend?
Friday, October 1, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for.
The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.
My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people's.
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
More wonderful Wilde quotes at ... http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Oscar_Wilde/31
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Some interesting quotes:
On love: “… a broken heart mends much faster from a conclusive blow than it does from slow strangulation.”
On being over 60: “All through my sixties I felt I was still within hailing distance of middle age, not safe on its shores, perhaps, but navigating its coastal waters. My seventieth birthday failed to change this because I managed scarcely to notice it, but my seventy-first did change it. Being ‘over seventy’ is being old: suddenly I was aground on that fact and saw that the time had come to size it up.”
On her waning interest in sex in old age: “An important aspect of the ebbing of sex was that other things became more interesting. Sex obliterates the individuality of young women more often than it does that of young men, because so much more of a woman than of a man is used by sex.
And then my most favorite passages on Old age and relationship with youngsters:
What is so good about it is not just the affection young people inspire and how interesting their lives are to watch. They also, just by being there, provide a useful counteraction to a disagreeable element in an old person’s life. We tend to become convinced that everything is getting worse simply because within our own boundaries things are doing so.
We are becoming less able to do things we would like to do, can hear less, see less, eat less, hurt more, our friends die, we know that we ourselves will soon be dead. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that we easily slide into a general pessimism about life, but it is very boring and it makes dreary last years even drearier.
Whereas if, flitting in and out of our awareness, there are people who are beginning, to whom the years ahead are long and full of who knows what, it is a reminder (indeed it enables us actually to feel again) that we are not just dots at the end of thin black lines projecting into nothingness, but are parts of the broad, many-coloured river teeming with beginnings, ripenings, decayings, new beginnings – are still part of it, and our dying will be part of it just as these children’s being young is, so while we still have the equipment to see this, let us not waste our time grizzling.
Always we are being reflected in the eyes of others. Are we silly or sensible, stupid or clever, bad or good, unattractive or sexy? We never stop being at least slightly aware of, if not actively searching for, answers to such questions, and are either deflated or elated, in extreme cases ruined or saved, by what we get. So if when you are old a beloved child happens to look at you as if he or she thinks (even if mistakenly!) that you are wise and kind: what a blessing!
For a start, the hair starts greying at the temples and you need to dye your hair once every couple of months. Not only children, even college going kids(?) start calling you 'Aunty' and the word does not echo all around you, like it does in the advertisement for an hair dye. All these days you thought going for a walk was only to stay in shape, but now you realise that it is to keep blood pressure and diabetes at bay, if it is ever possible.
Then when you talk of being old, your peers, probably conscious of old age creeping on them too, react very strangely - "Come on, it is all in the mind. You are quite young. You don't look forty" And one good friend Jayanthi said "Eh let us keep it this way. Forty is not old. Fifty is. And then when we move to Fifty, we will keep Sixty as old." Can you think of Moving goalposts better than this.
Some very subtle changes in the body remind you that you are aging and it is better to come to grips with it. You no longer merit a second glance from good looking guys :) though it seems odd initially, you then realise what liberation that is. It actually feels great to be sort of invisible while in the public domain.
Does all the above mean that I am giving up on life for good? Hell, no. If anything, I am more alive than ever before. I feel all my pleasures much more intensely than I ever felt. I relish every small happiness that comes my way. I live more....I laugh more...I experiment more.... Now that I know how mortal I am, I don't try too hard to live a perfect life. I don't try to pack everything in my daily schedule. I have kind of learnt to let go, just flow along with life and at the same time be aware of what I want from life and make sure that I get it. I no longer need to prove anything to anybody and whatever I do, it is only for my happiness and that is invigorating.
So 40 is not all that bad. Neither in the passions of youth, nor in the aches and pains of old age, 40 actually feels good. And so you have a choice - of aging gracefully and at peace with oneself or entering old age kicking and screaming just as you entered school reluctantly. Either way it does not matter much - time ultimately claims you - your body first and your mind later, if you are lucky. A reminder then to live lift to the hilt .....
Monday, September 13, 2010
- George Bernard Shaw
Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, On the one hand on the other.
- Harry S. Truman
And now I will wait for comments from the Kishores........... :)
Sunday, September 12, 2010
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart
Mencken wrote a joking epitaph for himself:
If, after I depart this vale, you ever remember me and have thought to please my ghost, forgive some sinner and wink your eye at some homely girl.
Although this famous quote is not on his tombstone, it is widely reported on the Internet as being inscribed on a plaque in the lobby of the Baltimore Sun.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard
(C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard. Edited by George Savidis. Revised Edition. Princeton University Press, 1992)
Friday, September 10, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Coming to think of it what impressed me so much was her zest for life. With a naughty smile and wink she urged us to enjoy life and be happy. Her love for her husband and son was very touching. I observed their general conversation and wondered whether it was for real. I should confess that I even thought they were faking it. Not a hint of negativity - just bubbling enthusiasm. They made me feel special.
My visits were few and far between. Everytime I saw her, her health had deteriorated a bit; but amazingly she seemed stronger and happier. The disease that ravaged her body could not touch her spirit.
Once she showed her amputated leg without any embarrassment. She crawled to see us off that day. I never felt any pity for her. She was simply beyond needing anyone's sympathy.
One day my friend called and in his usual chirpy voice enquired about my daughter and then asked for my husband. Something was amiss. I did not enquire about his mother as was my wont. I somehow knew she was no more. Though I tell myself that she suffered so much pain that death should have been a welcome relief for her, I still think, how could someone so full of life, die?
I remember the last time I saw her. She could not walk as both her feet had been amputated and she was undergoing painful treatment for her renal problems. Yet as usual she kept the focus on us. Her health was very poor - she was in terrible shape - but she received us with a broad smile. She kept bombarding us with questions about our life. Oh how was it possible for her to think about others, when she was in such misery.
I later learnt that she spent the last 28 days of her life in hospital in severe pain. I asked my friend whether she turned bitter or angry towards the end. "Nope" he replied in his inimitable style - "not a grumble or complaint." I was curious to know what kept her so strong. Was it her faith in some supernatural being. No, he said, it was her faith in herself. She just loved life a lot. That in effect summed up her vibrant personality.
I am glad I came across such a lively character in my life. I only hope that I exhibit atleast a fraction of the determination and courage that she did, when life turns unpleasant and when my body is ravaged in the evening of my life.
(I thought translating the dialogue into English would not convey the essence of the conversation. And I know the limited readership of my blog includes just two guys who can't understand Tamil. To those two guys : In case you happen to read this post and in case you are curious to know the meaning, send me a mail)
Getting my daughter to sleep is the toughest task in the entire day. She will have a hundred things to say and a million questions to ask. I will have to listen patiently to her anecdotes and answer her queries, all the time reminding her it was well past her bed time. Last night, when all my efforts to keep her quiet failed, I switched on my Mobile and made her listen to her favourite song from the movie 'Mozhi.' That kept her quiet for exactly 1 minute. And then it started:
Abi: Amma, movie -la andha ponnu peru Archana dhane ...
Abi: Ava nija peru enna?
Amma: Jyotika, ok ippo thoongu ...
Abi: Amma, ava kamal dhane marriage panni kitta?
Amma: :) Illa Surya
Abi: Andha innoru ponnu peru enna?
Amma: Swarnamalya - seri, thoongu da ...
Abi: Ava yaara marriage pannikitta?
Amma: Ava marriage pannikale..
Abi: Appo baby?
Amma: No baby for her
Abi: Appadi kooda irukalama? Appo naanum marriage pannike poradhu illa. Enakku boys pidikadhu. I adore boys.
Abi: Adore na enna amma?
Amma: Romba pidikum
Abi: Ayyo, appo I ignore boys. I hate them.
Amma: :) (thinking... hmm seri seri, naan kooda appadi dhan solli kittu irundhen ..)
Sempula pei neer - Water raining on red earth - Wow, isn't that wonderful? A.K.Ramanujan has done commendable work translating poems from Ettu Thogai and Pathu Paattu - Poems of Love and War.
யாயும் ஞாயும் யார் ஆகியரோ?
எந்தையும் நுந்தையும் எம் முறைக் கேளிர்?
யானும் நீயும் எவ் வழி அறிதும்?
செம் புலப் பெயல் நீர் போல
அன்புடை நெஞ்சம் தாம் கலந்தனவே.
Kurunthokai 40 –
What could be my mother be
to yours?what kin is my father
to yours anyway?And how
did you and I meet ever?
But in love our hearts are as red
earth and pouring rain:
Translated by A.K.Ramanujan
Sunday, September 5, 2010
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 20
Friday, September 3, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"You are precious to me. But I can't make you grow up," he said softly. And that came as a stunning blow to her. She was shattered inside. An eerie calmness enveloped her. So, is that it, she thought. That's how it felt to be at the receiving end, she realized.
She was a poet; she led a lonely existence, content in her loneliness and satisfied with the hand dealt to her by chance. She was famous in her field. But she was tired with the snide remarks she received about 'writing from experience' whenever the subject of her poems were love and longing. She felt it was unfair when a man writing such poems was accepted and acclaimed. And then she met a fan who was different. She found in him a soul mate. He had a family of his own, yet found time to reach out to her and bond with her.
And now this statement .... Was she that demanding? She always thought of herself as someone with some calibre - elegance, dignity and poise. That image melted away. She felt cheap. And she remembered their early days when she stayed within the confines of her small world and reached out to him only at an intellectual level. He drew her out, mocking her, taunting her and challenging her about 'stretching the envelope of existence.'
When she demurred while he made passes at her, he teased her, "Oh, what kind of relationship do you want with me? Neck up?" Slowly she lost her inhibitions and became comfortable discussing all and sundry with him. She was never overt but she was not bashful either. Thus she experimented with stretching the envelope of her existence.
And then it appeared he lost interest in her. It was not a single event. He stopped calling on her and the phone calls were never returned. He did not reply to her passionate letters or replied with a clinical "Oh ok, more later I guess," which was never followed up. It did not strike her odd initially but slowly she realized the change that had crept into their relationship. Her ego was terribly hurt. She could not believe that someone could shake her off so easily. On the few occasions she confronted him with the change in the fabric of their relationship, he either feigned ignorance and said she was extrapolating or bluntly said, "That was during the initial days - initial rush." He talked of letting go in some other context. Slowly it dawned on her where she stood with him. And it was painful. She was hurting very badly. The mental agony manifested as physical ailment, surprising her that she had let someone affect her that deeply. She still longed for their earlier closeness - an unique intimacy she had shared with him.
Then one day she was having a normal conversation with him and during an unguarded moment, let something slip by, revealing her need for him. That was when he told her to grow up. When he said that he can't make her grow up, it was like a solid slap on her face. That did it. She realized the irrevocable path their relationship had taken - a fork in their journey. What about all those statements he had made which affected her? Well, it was all part of his growing up and part of the ego boost he needed. She had been useful and she had played her part well. Now the curtains were down and she had to move on.
She knew the pain will lessen with time. But for now, she is clutching her heart, clenching her fist and savoring the pain. Sure she will move on and this will soon become a distant memory. But then she will never be the same again. And that was exactly how she learned to let go and grow up.
Monday, August 30, 2010
And so I have started a journey now. With Murray Gell-Mann's The Quark and the Jaguar - Adventures in the Simple and the Complex.
Murray Gell-Mann is a physicist, a Nobel prize winner. He postulated the existence of an elementary particle, he named as 'quark' a word taken from a novel by James Joyce. Simply put, the quarks are basic building blocks of all matter. Quarks combine to form the more familiar protons and neutrons. There is more. He named the six types (called them flavors) of quarks: up, down, charm, strange, top and bottom.
The book does not deal with elementary particle physics but is about the connections between the fundamental laws of physics and the complexity and diversity of the natural world including archaeology, linguistics, child development, computers and other complex adaptive systems. The title of the book comes from a line in a poem by Arthur Sze : "The world of the quark has everything to do with a jaguar circling in the night."
I read the Preface and the first two Chapters today.
"At most I require only a pencil, some paper and a wastebasket. Often, even those are not essential. Give me a good night’s sleep, freedom from distractions and time unburdened by worries and obligations and I can work. Whether I am standing in the shower, hovering between wakefulness and sleep on a late-night flight, or walking along a wilderness trail, my work can accompany me wherever I go."
When Murray planned to study archaeology or linguistics, his father wanted him to study Physics at the Yale University to which he replied that it was the dullest course in his high school curriculum.
"We had had to memorize such things as the seven kinds of simple machine: the lever, the screw, the inclined plane and so on. Also we had studied mechanics, heat, sound, light, electricity and magnetism but with no hint of any connections among those topics." Sounds familiar, eh?
To humor his father he went along and then he was hooked.
" My father had been right about relativity and quantum mechanics. I began to understand, as I studied them, that the beauty of nature is manifested just as much in the elegance of these fundamental principles as in the cry of a loon or in trails of bioluminescence made by porpoises at night."
Friday, August 27, 2010
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,
Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.
- W.Shakespeare, King John
Ode to a Nightingale - John Keats
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness, -
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy!
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music: - Do I wake or sleep?
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I am surprised ... How would I even dare to write about the Hubble Space Telescope.
I have been always fascinated by the Images sent by the Hubble and just want to share a bit of that magic .... nothing academic ... no pretensions of knowledge.
The Hubble Space Telescope orbits the Earth and is able to capture images of the Universe without the distortions caused by the Earth's atmosphere. Scientists have learnt about the age of the Universe, various stages of evolution of galaxies and so much more like the dark energy, quasars .............
For a lay person like me, the spectacular images sent by Hubble are mind boggling and liberating.
The Hubblesite (http://hubblesite.org/) best describes it... Out of the ordinary .... out of this world.......
What could be the reason? The boy looked obviously poor. A few coins would have surely helped him either to assuage his hunger or to mitigate some basic need. Or his mother could have used it for their household expenses. Why then did he steadfastly refuse to accept the money in spite of my mild persuasion.
Maybe he had his reasons. Maybe he felt it was beneath his dignity to accept tips when he was being paid a salary by the petrol bunk owner. Or maybe he felt accepting a few coins just like that was akin to begging. Or maybe someone sometime had made him feel bad when he asked for money for pumping air. Still for someone like him, even a little amount mattered a lot. To say No to that was inexplicable. I imagined myself in his place and was sure that I would have been greedy for every penny that came my way.
And then today when I visited the Petrol bunk again, the mystery turned deeper. I saw the boy accepting money from a car driver. I wondered whether it was the same boy .... or his brother. Or may be that day was an aberration. Or some holy day when people take all strange vows. Or does he take money only from car owners and not us mere 2-wheeler owners. Whatever...... I remembered how my imagination had run riot the last time .....
Then mindlessly when I offered some money, he again said Vendam Akka. I was stunned. I asked him why and told him that even the last time he did not take money from me and that I saw him taking money from others. Again he smiled and said, Illa Akka, Vendam. Neenga Ponga. Even after much insistence he absolutely refused.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I started my vehicle and turned to see him smile at me. I wagged a finger at him and said, Next time ....... To which too he just smiled and shook his head. And again my imagination ran riot ....... Why would he refuse ....... Maybe ............
Thursday, August 19, 2010
- Somerset Maugham (Moon and Sixpence)
Friday, August 13, 2010
-George Bernard Shaw
Friday, August 6, 2010
— T.H. White (The Once and Future King)
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
1. Find something that you are really passionate about.
2. Find the smartest people you can and surround yourself with them.
3. Find allies rather than adorers.
4. Find the courage to do things you are not ready to do.
5. Find places where you're comfortable with.
6. You can help others find things. Be an information fountain.
I hope our College going children would use the Internet to listen to such speeches, learn about inspiring people and acquire knowledge from the vast ocean of material available in the websites of Universities of MIT, Stanford etc.,. Our own IIT professors have recorded several lectures and posted them in Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8Dq8blTmSA.
I really wish youngsters would stop playing Farmville and Mafia wars in Facebook and use the World wide web for acquiring knowledge. Do I sound like an old hag?