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Updates from May, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Matter, Energy, Space, Time, Life 

    13.7 billion years ago, there was a huge explosion – what we all know as the big bang.

    A sea of particles formed due to big bang. Matter and antimatter collisions resulted destruction of almost everything that was formed from the bigbang. Only a billionth of what was left over goes into making the current universe after baryogenesis and Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.

    300 million years after the explosion, stars start to form. Stars are formed due to gravity which causes hydrogen to come together. Temperature of stars begin to rise as Nuclear Fusion starts. Stars in close proximity form galaxies.

    Milky way was formed 13 billion years ago. It is 6000 billion miles in diameter with 2000 billion stars. Earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, nearly same time as the Sun.

    As conditions became conducive, life formed on planet earth. Life is what matter does mysteriously. Bacteria have lived on without intelligence for over 3 billion years now. The last asteroid strike was 65 million years ago and it wiped out dinosaurs. For 10000 years now, humans have dominated the planet. They say that mass annihilation of life in this planet could happen in 2012. In year 2029, asteroid 99942 Apophis could strike the earth. At some uncertain time in the distant future, gamma rays from WR104 could fry our planet.

    Even if none of that happens, within 5 billion years, the sun will grow in size as it ages. As sun becomes a red giant, the temperature of the planets in the solar system would rise. Oceans of the earth would evaporate. Tiny life forms would would outlive the human race by several million years. Will we have to escape to another planet? How about Gliese581d? Does Gliese581d have low gravity could possibly weaken muscles of future generations? Would it be void of an ozone layer like our Mars? Eventually, all life on earth would perish because of the heat. Even later, the earth will be pulled into the sun.

    Like the earth, the sun will perish too. Gravity Vs Fusion. Gravity will finally win.

    Not all stars would die quietly like the sun. Some stars explode as Supernovae. With the end of a life of a star by explosion, a black hole is bornGravitational singularity is the centre of a black hole where time and space stop. A singularity is where our present science stops. Its scientists way of saying “We dont know”.

    A black hole will pull every thing towards it. A black hole the size of a golf ball will weigh as much as planet earth. But black holes can be as big as a solar system. Some of them can be super massive black holes.

    A 11 million mile diameter super massive black hole is at the heart of our own Milky way. Stars revolve super massive black holes. A quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding the central Super massive black hole. Quasars are the brightest known things in the universe and we already know about thousands of quasars. Quasars calm down when galaxies age.

    No mass or energy can escape a black hole. Matter and energy are but interchangeable things. What happens to all that that goes into a black hole? No one knows.

    As you approach a black hole, you would reach the Event Horizon. Event Horizon is where time is stopped by gravity. Physical laws as we know them stop working at the event horizon. Black hole is an object that changes physical laws as we know them. Yet, our SWIFT mission reveals that a black hole is formed every day within the space known to humans. We dont yet know what physical laws govern a black hole.

    Some feel that black hole might be the reverse of a big bang. Matter enters a black hole by gravity and exits through a big bang. Black holes seem to drink up matter and then spit it out into a parallel universe. A black hole could be the connection to a parallel universe. Black holes could be universe’s way of renewing itself.

    While we know black holes can eat up stars and even galaxies, we also know that the expansion of the universe is accelerating contrary to all known laws of gravity.

    Dark energy is the term used by cosmologists to explain why the expansion of the universe is accelerating rather than slowing due to gravitation. The behavior of dark energy would determine if the universe would be headed for a big freeze, big rip, big crunch, big bounce, multiverse or have no end with any cosmic certainty.

    How will the universe end? We have many people guessing at it. Can you re-boot the universe? As in, end it and begin it again? Now that is a real question. Good luck figuring that out. Everything else is, but, of course, elementary.

    • SP Raja 152826 on 20100523 Permalink

      KP, Thats a brief history of nearly everything. Neatly done! Great Job.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Is there always a cause? 

    People are not always mindful of the cause. They prefer to stay focussed on what they desire. At least partly, that is the problem with the scientific method. Science is focussed on explanation of effects. The causes are only hypothesized.

    Today, a kid cried for candy. The kid eventually obtained candy, but it seldom realizes the full story behind it. Mama gave me candy is not the full story. How did mama get the candy? Who made candy? Where? How did candy get there? If a child eating candy can be such a complex process, imagine the list of possibilities in a complex planet.

    You may desire something, but to obtain what you desire you have to pursue a path of acquisition. For people who only desire something and dont understand what it takes to make it happen, the desire almost always turns to disappointment.

    But to a learner, the pursuit of cause should not be driven by desire.

    There are billions of people on this planet. They do billions of things every instant. There are zillions of things happening in this planet every instant.

    These are caused by something and they in turn cause something. Understanding a single planet completely, is technically a zillion variable problem.

    Understanding the universe may be even more complex.

    But, of course, no human attempts to understand or remember everything. Our brains are so limited by capacity or at least we haven’t still exploited the full working capacity of the human brain because humans live in circles of understanding. An artist understands arts and a scientist understands science. Humans dont see past their limited circle of knowledge. And this circle of knowledge is as big as we make it by our effort.

    Even knowing more within a circle of knowledge is a challenge to humans, knowing what to know is a bigger challenge.

    How much can a human brain learn?

    How big is the truth?

    We know, at least generically, what causes the waves in the ocean. But do we know enough to understand ocean waves?

    Is the knowledge of the effect sufficient to predict the cause or even is the knowledge of the cause sufficient to predict the effect ?

    Is there always a cause? I can’t but help wonder.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    What does it take to make one A4 size paper? 

    We start off by doing a small calculation from a reputed text book. The text book is Shreve’s Chemical Process Industries, which is a textbook adopted in the chemical engineering curriculum of many reputed colleges.

    An A4 size office paper of normal quality weighs 5 grams. It is easy for one to pro-rate the above table and estimate what it takes to make 5 grams of paper.

    Based on 1982 data, to make an A4 paper you would need:

    • 22.5 g  Chemicals
    • 665 ml  Water
    • 3.5 ml  Oil or 5 grams of coal
    • 20 cc Wood
    • 23.76 kJ Power

    Well, the story does not stop here. I know that the paper industry has adopted better manufacturing methods and today the specific consumption for making paper could be a little different. Today’s processes use significant amounts of recycle paper, use lesser water. Again, the amount of paper recycled and water conserved in different plants /countries is different, so it becomes difficult to establish an exact global average in a brief article.

    Nevertheless, a few parallels can be drawn.

    Every time you waste an A4 paper at office, conservatively, I can assume that, you also waste a large cup of water, a spoon full of coal (or oil), another spoonful of various chemicals, energy sufficient to keep a 40 W bulb glowing for 10 minutes and wood whose weight could be 2-4 times the weight of the paper, depending on the amount of recycle paper used.

    Every time you throw a piece of paper into a dust bin, imagine yourself wasting all the other resources as well. I’m sure you’ll find it a lot easier to save paper.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Will Smith, a role model to look up to 

    “I will NOT be outworked. Period… You might have more talent than me,
    you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be
    all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get
    on the treadmill together, there’s two things:  Either you’re getting
    off first, or I’m gonna die. It’s really that simple.”

    -Will Smith, on his work ethic

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Rules for a planet 

    I’ve always believed in the truth of Agent Smith’s words:

    “I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we, are the cure.”

    There is yet another equally powerful thought I came across in Yuva Anandan’s blog.

    He points to an interesting comment on BBC – “…it’s not the planet we should be worrying about, it’s us.” In principle, I agree with the point of view that whatever damage human activity has caused to the planet till date is not major. With the race being supposedly being well past the peak oil, perhaps our ability to inflict further damage to the planet is limited. When the oil prices go up in the next few years, I would expect the food production to drop and people will dying of malnourishment. The population would drop and people would be forced again go back to living in fertile lands near water sources.

    But for the human race, it has never been about the planet. It has always been about us. It is the same callous attitude that prevailed for centuries and still continues to do so. For once people should think about living symbiotically with the host planet. I wish there was a global political body that laid down rules for the planet. As a finite planet, the earth can only sustain finite human activity. What is that point? We will really need a careful scientific evaluation to find out. To me, ideally, politics should be simple human welfare. We need to have an association with this planet such that the damage we do is minimal and every person on this planet has a joyous experience of life on this planet. If it means limiting the population of the planet to a billion, then we should get there in the next 50 years with a clear plan.

    Global politics, beyond regional interests, is the need of the day. Like in Starwars, we sure need a galactic republic and a Padme to decide for each planet.

  • Permalink | Comment
    Nutrition, RDA,   

    Daily values of nutrients 

    Which nutrients do we need daily and how much? I put this list together from the information provided by a dietary supplement manufacturer.


    The daily values of the following nutrients are established.




    Vitamin A



    Vitamin C



    Vitamin D



    Vitamin E



    Vitamin B1



    Vitamin B2






    Vitamin B6



    Folic acid



    Vitamin B12






    Pantothenic acid


































    The daily values of the following nutrients are typical and are not established.



















  • Permalink | Comment  

    Carbon dioxide emissions don't cause global warming 

    In April, KLM had an interesting exclusive in-flight documentary on global warming which I happened to watch.

    The documentary goes on to present that man-made CO2 emissions do not cause global warming. It states that earth’s present temperature increase is driven by the sun and not by human activity. A few points presented in the documentary are:

    1. CO2 is not the major green house gas. Its concentration change has been too small to explain such major temperature differences. Oceans can emit 180 billion tons of CO2 tonnes of CO2 where as human activity emits only about 7 billion tons. It is argued that water vapour and methane are bigger influences than CO2.

    2. Earth has seen decades of temperatures which were significantly higher and and also significantly lower. But the ice did not ever vanish completely.

    3. Changing of the size of the polar ice caps is explained to be a normal thing which happens routinely with temperature even between summer and winter.

    4. Earth’s temperature is more closely related to solar activity and is known to have had a very good co-relation with it for centuries.

    5. Change in CO2 concentration in the polar ice caps is an effect of change of earth’s temperature and it has a 800 year lag. This 800 year year lag is the time required for the temperature of the oceans to change to release or absorb CO2.

    6. Earth’s temperature continued to drop from 1940 to 1970 when the economic activity boomed. The present upward trend lasts from only 1970.

    7. Yet another observation was that the change in temperature profiles of the earth’s atmospheric layers did not seem to support increased green-house activity.

    8. The model used to predict the global climate has several hundreds of assumptions on which not all experts seem to be in agreement. Clearly, a model can only be as good as the assumptions that go up to make it.

    The documentary goes on to state that the IPCC report is driven by considerations that are non-scientific and serves to retain several jobs which were created by the billions of dollars funded to study this.

    Those who are closely following the global warming issue must be already aware that there is a clear second opinion on the need to limit the emissions from developing countries in order to reduce global warming.

    One can’t help but wonder if the entire global warming tale is fabricated by an energy thirsty group of nations who are using misleading pointers to prevent the developing nations from creating a stronger demand for energy.

    That documentary was an eye-opener to me.

    • hero hera lal 174043 on 20080619 Permalink

      thats really very nice, Krishan.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Artifical life, in a test tube! 

    The guardian reports that scientists have now been able to achieve artificial synthesis of protiens. Mind blowing, indeed.

    The article is at:

    Well, Synthetic biology?
    I’ve never even heard of it despite being an engineer for over a decade.
    I don’t know how many doors this would open though.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Educational objectives 

    There are said to be six major areas in the cognitive development process that includes: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

    1. Knowledge is remembering previously learned material, from specific facts to complete theories.
    2. Comprehension is the ability to grasp the meaning of material.
    3. Application is the ability to use learned material in and concrete situations. This may include the application of such things as rules, methods, and concepts.
    4. Analysis is defined as the ability to break down a problem into component parts so that its organization is understood.
    5. Synthesis is defined as the ability to put parts together to form a new whole view or aspect
    6. Evaluation is defined as the ability to judge the value of materials for a given purpose

    • Prakash 152404 on 20070823 Permalink

      Good Analysis. I comprehended the items, and could confirm my knowledge by recalling all six items. Would definitely be applicable in various situations and I should be able to synthesize this model into the bigger picture of things…. What say you about my evaluation?! 🙂

  • Permalink | Comment  

    I love Wikipedia 

    I love Wikipedia for many reasons

    – It is a dynamic encyclopedia
    – It is free
    – I can contribute to it
    – It unleashes the full power of hypertext and enables the knowledge seeker to reach new limits effortlessly

    Now there is one more reason to love it.

    – It runs offline on my Palm.

    I discovered the possibility just 5 hours ago. Thanks to the download speeds and possibilities in the U.S., Wikipedia is now running off-line on my Palm

    • Pink 061300 on 20070805 Permalink

      I sometimes reach out for the keyboard to Google search during normal conversation. Regardless of the oddity of this behavior, it is nice to know that there is the potential to actually do just that.

      Also, I’m addicted to Wikipedia.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Black Web, bright future 

    Anand Patil, my college mate, sent us all an email.

    When your screen is white, being it an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when its black it consumes only 59 watts.

    Mark Ontkush wrote an article about the energy saving that would be achieved if Google had a black screen, taking in account the huge number of page views, according to his calculations, 750 mega watts / hour per year would be saved.

    In a response to this article Google created a black version of its search engine, called Blackle, with the exact same functions as the white version, but with a lower energy consumption check


    for more info …

    We can shut down a few power stations and pollute less without significant loss of fucntionality only if all our web pages are black.

    Please spread the word.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Mama Pendse 

    Mama Pendse said:

    Whether we are based on carbon or silicon makes no fundamental difference. We should each be treated with appropriate respect.

    Now, I’m thinking….

    • Prakash 111301 on 20070616 Permalink

      Run for your life. PK has been forced to start using his brain-cells!!

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Global warming – Check list for Indians 

    One man cannot cause global warming. The globe is warmer now because over several decades , its people have continued to do things that have consumed energy. Cutting down unnecessary energy consumption is the first step to slow down the process. Here is a quick check list that applies in the Indian scenario. 


    Please print this and paste this in a place so that it hits the eye often.

    • hero hera lal 153217 on 20080919 Permalink


  • Permalink | Comment  

    The limits of science 


  • Permalink | Comment  

    Arctic ice cover disappears! 

    From the film Matrix:

    Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.

    From Yahoo News:

    Perennial Arctic ice (ice that is normally present year-round and is not affected by the summer) has disappeared over an area bigger than the British Isles !

    If global warming continues at the same rate, in 10 years time we can navigate the arctic area by ships.

    Read the full article here.

    Tags: , ,

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Online teaching – IITs 

    The IITs have taken up an initiative of starting online teaching and thus have started offering course materials online for every engineering stream. Many professors from all the IITs have provided course materials for each chapter and each subject.

    One has to register at the link provided below and can access the course material. Every Chapter has been described with diagrams and charts. Please spread this message to everyone, as many can benefit from this program taken up by the government and IIT.

    This is just a trial period going on and hence I request everyone to register at the link given.

    1] Go to http://nptel. iitm.ac.in
    2] Click on Courses
    3] Sign up as a NEW USER
    4] And one can access any course material.

    Please spread the word, so that this initiative benefits as many students as possible.

    • Hiren 150228 on 20060921 Permalink

      The link does not seem to be working but very interesting information. Thanks

    • GG 200012 on 20060922 Permalink

      Your link is not correct. It is pointing to http://nptel.iitm.ac.in//t_blank which does not exist. You have to remove the /t_blank part.

      Thanks for the news

    • kamal 151126 on 20060925 Permalink

      interesting information…

      just to put it here… IITs have earlier been producing video copies of their lectures and making it available to other institutes at nominal charges….

      but this is one unique step which will help everyone who has a net connection !! Institutional affiliations cease to matter!!

    • abhyudoy 144400 on 20060929 Permalink

      Respected sir,
      i have completed my graduation in electronics in JNT UNIVERSITY in 2005,and completed my advanced diploma in Digital Signal Processor (TMS320c6711),

      i would like to have a deep knowledge of DSP .

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Is oil renewable? 



    I’m surprised by the claim that oil is not a fossil fuel.

    Another webpage states that “oil is actually a renewable, primordial syrup continually manufactured by the earth under ultrahot conditions and tremendous pressures. As this substance migrates toward the surface, it is attacked by bacteria, making it appear to have an organic origin dating back to the dinosaurs.”

    Can this be true? People please tell me.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Reducing plastic usage 

    What can you do to reduce plastic usage?

    1. When going shopping, carry your own bag.
    2. Stop giving free plastic bags and stop accepting them.
    3. Use bags made of natural fibres available locally – cotton, jute etc.
    4. Avoid paper bags altogether. They cannot substitute for plastic bags. Save the trees.
    5. Pass an act or bill or something.
    6. If you use plastic, dispose it properly.
    7. If you see plastic litter, clean it up if you can.
    8. Replace plastic boxes with metal or wood, if you can
    9. Spend 10 minutes at http://www.reusablebags.com
    10. Teach youngsters around you that “natural is cool”.
    11. Spread the word.

    • wow 104323 on 20080916 Permalink

      it is ok

    • Abhinav Garg 231142 on 20090715 Permalink


  • Permalink | Comment  

    The Inner Life of a Cell 

    DJ Stelios’ blog always interests me.

    I found this truly amazing science video, entirely animated, and pretty much mind blowing. A must watch for every guy interested in science and its capabilities.

    Watch the video here, you’ll need flash player 8 to view this.

    • rectians 095140 on 20060913 Permalink

      found it very usefull. Thanks.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Remembering Paul Gauguin 

    “Peak Oil” has been eating my brains out for the last couple of days.

    Except a few chemical engineers around me who atleast seem to understand the enormity of the problem, most people around me seem blissfully ignorant and completely unaware. I even heard about some one saying “Oil can’t ever run out, it gushes out from under the earth.”

    History seems all set to reverse itself.

    I’m reminded of Gauguin’s words: “In order to do something new we must go back to the source, to humanity in its infancy.”

    The human kind surely does not need oil to survive.

    Great empires were established without a single drop of oil. Even though Rome was not built in a day, it was built before refineries were built.

    In lieu of oil, humans will need to work harder, but that can’t be very bad. For centuries, our forefathers have done that.

    But of course, working harder was never an acceptable solution to the human race. What we want is a simple magical energy solution will present itself to the human race so that the laziness can prevail and all can watch TV sitting on fat couches eating chips and drinking cola. It could be a simple wave of Harry Potter’s wand or a wierd gravity defying perpetual motion machine installed and maintained by Mickey Mouse. The solution has to come from somewhere.

    People, atleast some of them, need to take up the role of artists to create the ultimate energy solution…and the painter should not paint what he sees, but what will be seen.

    Gauguin said : I shut my eyes in order to see

    This means that if a painter limits himself to the mundane sight of the world, his ability to create things beyond the mundane sight is lost.

    What I learn from this is that for one to arrive at a truly creative solution, one has to stop worrying about the norm. Creative solutions are obtained more easily if the norm is discarded and the mind is free to seek and try means that are new, different or innovated.

    I’m going to close my eyes now, so that I can find a solution to the energy crisis. Check this space tomorrow 🙂

    • elitrope 185941 on 20060907 Permalink

      I enjoyed reading your post. I like the references to Gauguin…nice reflection. It reminds me of Einstein’s dictum that problems can’t be solved within the mind-set that created them.

  • Permalink | Comment  

    Write for Wikipedia 

    Over the last couple of days, I spent a lot of time wondering what web content I could create, all by my own.

    Narrowing down on an answer was not easy.

    I have lived three decades on this planet. Been there, done that – but would it interest anyboy at all?

    Ideally, I’d like to create content that lasts forever.

    But what is it that lasts forever?

    People change companies. Companies change businesses. Businesses change technologies. Technologies change. Even science changes.

    No matter what I write today, I’m cluttering up the disk space of some server.

    If what I write does not serve a purpose today or is not required to be preserved for future, there is no point in my writing it. I only hope that a few bloggers realise this before they waste their efforts.

    In these few years that I’ve known the net, I’ve read through a large number of blog sites, checked many search engines for the content they index and browsed through a large number of other websites created by individuals and companies.

    I would argue that internet should be used only constructively for education and archiving and passing on our wisdom to the future generations.

    All those websites out there that sell sleaze and whose only purpose is to make money would definitely disagree with me.

    Internet, after all, is yet another product of the human mind and has consequently evolved to reflect the human mind. There are a great many number of things in it that have a varying degree of utility and legality.

    After a self humbling experience of browsing the internet, which is as difficult as trying to understand the human mind itself, a tired traveller can just ask for two things.

    “Organisation and structure.”

    This is what Wikipedia has perfected.

    To me, seeking knowledge on Google represents “the struggle of the mind to find a solution amidst chaos”.

    Google is, beyond all doubts, a great tool for the internet. Given that the internet itself is the byproduct of actions of nerds, musicians, artists, perverts, maniacs, grand mothers, lawyers, psychopaths, educators, kids and pretty much every one else, it is natural that seeking knowledge from the internet is as chaotic like what it is today.

    Wikipedia, on the other hand, to me represents order.

    I am a structured learner. By typing the same search string into Wikipedia, I’ve often learnt much more than what I’ve learnt from Google.

    Wikipedia does not help if you are looking to download warez, cracks, source codes for viruses or anything else illegal. Needs such as these, which have a varying degree of utility and legality, are best addressed by Google.

    But what Wikipedia does, and does very well, is it lets you seek information in a very formal, structured and hyperlinked way.

    I remember my excitement when I first learnt about hyperlinks from a text book without even having seen one and how fascinated I was by the idea that information can be interconnected in any manner we want. Reading through Wikipedia, I realise that the potential of the hyperlinking has been exploited like never before.

    To me Wikipedia represents a dream fulfilled, a truly wonderful legacy that we will be passing on to the generations to come.

    If every person can add even just one line to it in his life time, the entire 6 billion strong world can benefit from this wonderful tool. I can only urge every one to participate in the Wikipedia wonder, use it and contribute to it.

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