Tuesday, 23 March 2010
We all know the proverbial "Save the Tiger" campaign. The billboards and the advertisements are everywhere.
Speaking of animals, did you know that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. I think IIIT-H is unintentionally doing a good job keeping the biodiversity levels high in the campus. Especially in the hostels. Dogs, cats, birds, mosquitoes, all sorts of insects and in the midst of all those creatures the occasional Homo Sapiens. Wow, Mr. Jairam Ramesh would be so proud. I think Old Boys Hostel alone has higher biodiversity than The Great Nicobar Bioreserve. Obviously I am exaggerating here. In fact, it is just as much as Kaziranga National Park really.
On a entirely different note, I finally submitted my thesis yesterday. Yay!
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Despite the magnitude of how good something is people tend to use the one word - Awesome. However they end up conveying the magnitude by varying stress and length of syllables. Here is a trend that I observed:
- Awesome means something is good.
- Aaaawwesome means it is better than good.
- A stress on 's' with a ridiculously elongated 'o' means it is extremely good.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
Some interesting/funny/strange facts (in no particular order) from the realm of Science.
- Avogadro, the Italian who proved that two equal volumes of gases at the same pressure and temperature contain the same number of molecules, had a splendid name of Lorenzo Romano Amadeo Carlo Avogadro, Count of Quarequa and Correto.
- Mandeleyev was said to have been inspired by the card game of Solitaire in inventing the Periodic Table.
- Max Planck was often very unlucky in life. His beloved first wife died early. The younger of the two sons was killed in WW-I. Both of his sisters died in childbirth. In 1944 an Allied bomb fell on his house and he lost everything - papers, diaries, a lifetime of accumulations. The following year his other son was caught in a conspiracy to assassinate Hitler and executed.
- If you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 x 10^8 joules of potential energy - enough to explode with the force of 30 very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.
- Edwin Hubble was very athletic in his childhood. At a single high-school track meeting in 1906, he won the pole vault, shot-put, discus, hammer throw, high jump and was on the winning mile relay team. He set a state record in High-Jump in Illinois
- After Edwin Hubble died of a heart attack in 1953, his wife declined to have a funeral and never revealed what she did with his body. For a memorial of the greatest astronomer of the century, you must look into the skies at the Hubble Space Telescope.
- Physicists are notoriously scornful of scientists from other fields. When the great Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli's wife left him for a chemist, 'Had she taken a bullfighter I would have understood. But a chemist ... ?' he rmarked in wonder to a friend. Rutherford suggested that 'All science is either physics or stamp collecting'. The irony is that his award of the Nobel Prize in 1908 was in Chemistry, not Physics.
- The Picture of an atom that nearly everybody has in mind is of an electron or two flying around a nucleus, like planets orbiting a sun. This image was created in 1904 by a Japanese physicist named Hantaro Nagaoka. CERN still uses Nagaoka's image as the logo on its website.
- Niels Bohr had an idea about the structure of the atom so exciting that he postponed his honeymoon to write what became a landmark paper.
- Tim Berneers-Lee invented the WWW while working for CERN. It was a by-product.
- Francium is so rare that it is thought that our entire planet may contain, at any given moment, fewer that twenty francium atoms.
- Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on the same day - 12th February, 1809.
- Darwin's The Origin of Species was originaly titled On the Orgin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
- Modern human beings, genetically, are 98.4% identical to modern Chimpanzees.
- Tokyo is known to be in the meeting point of 3 tectonic plates. The Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, with a magnitude of 8.3, killed about 200,000 people out of 3 million in the city. Tokyo is now harbouring 30 million people. If such an earthquake occurs again, the potential economic cost could be as high as $7 trillion. Dare to think how many will die.
All these points were taken from the book A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The book is impressive. Full of strange facts and interesting findings. Very short biographies of great scientists those who worked in many departments, those who searched for the clues of life deep under the ground to high above in the heavens. As John Waller from the Guardian says about the book, "It's hard to imagine a better rough guide to science".