Saturday, February 26, 2005

Lesson for the day

Plan to waste time.

You know what pisses me off the most...? Not the fact that I waste time; but the fact that I waste THAT time which I had allotted for work. I then get frustrated about the time wasted and end up wasting more time. Now I have realized my mistake. My mistake was that I had actually not allotted any time for wastage at all...!!! That was the problem. Now I have decided that I have to plan to waste. It's important that you please yourself. It works?!!!

Monday, February 21, 2005

Book reveiw

Book review: The purchase of the North Pole

I am sure very few have even heard of this book. And to get your hands on this book is almost impossible. I was able to get a copy in my university library archives. This book is one of the masterpieces of Jules Verne, perhaps the oldest and greatest of the science fiction writers (along with H.G.Wells). And, take a look at the title. That?s something you can expect. Jules Verne's themes always carry a certain degree of "weirdness" in them, and this book is no different. But he has a scientific approach to his themes. Though the ideas are unreasonable, his approach to them is always logical.

Fiction and logic can be described as the two covers of a sci-fi book. While Jules Verne's books can be total fiction to the point of being absurd, they stick to the rules of science. That is the thing I admire about Verne. This book is an example.

The book opens with the following proposal. "The north pole is an area entirely covered with ice. Hence nobody has really found out what lies beneath. No expedition has been able to even get close to the pole till now, because of the extreme climate. But there are reasons to believe that the area under the ice in the North Pole has rich deposits of coal, and various other minerals. This resource has to be exploited. So all that needs to be done is to melt the ice. The rest is simple....!"

An international association is formed to auction this piece of land globally. No country is interested in buying this land, considering the odds. A club called the Gun club in America buys it.

(The Gun Club: This club, comprising of intelligent, influential but eccentric men, is always after the impossible. They appear in many other books of Verne, trying to send a projectile to the moon, Traveling on a comet and such other things?)

The Gun club decides that going to the North Pole to melt the ice is too inefficient a job. Besides, thats normal, rational approach. Hence, not acceptable. So what's the Gun Club approach? Change the axis of the earth, so that the North Pole will come into the region receiving normal sunrays and the ice will melt all by itself. No problème..!! Since people can't go to the pole, get the Pole to them...

Now comes the question, "How to turn the axis of earth?" Earth has to be rotated by 23 degrees of latitude so that the North Pole comes into the region receiving sufficient heat to melt the ice. How can this be done? Think about it for a moment. If you were consulting the Gun Club, what would be the solution you will provide to change the axis of the earth by 23 degrees laterally. What kind of a device would you use? How will you rotate earth by being "on" it?

Here lies the ingenuity of Jules Verne. The simplicity of the solution he gives is astounding. And obvious too. To arrive at the solution, we have to first consider these facts. To rotate the earth, we have to apply a force at a point on the surface of earth. A force, that will bring about the required change in the angle of the earth. However, the earth is not resting on anything. It is suspended in space. So there is no reference object with respect to which we can apply a force and rotate the earth. So..., the only possible means of applying a force on earth is by recoil. The solution to this problem is to fire a huge projectile from earth into space using a gigantic cannon with enormous power. For maximum efficiency, the projectile will be fired from a point on the equator. The recoil will produce a force which will turn the axis of the earth?!! Quod erat demonstrandum. Simple, yet effective.

No doubt it is impossible to build and fire a cannon of such proportions and it would be catastrophic to earth if such a mission is undertaken. But thats a different issue altogether. It is the logic behind the solution that is appreciable. Coming back to the book, it is with this plan of action that the Gun Club proceeds to build the monster cannon. I have made my point. The ending of the story is not important from my point of view. If you are interested in finding out whether the axis of earth has indeed been changed, read the book yourself. You can get online copies of some Jules Verne books at:

Incidentally, March 24, 2005 marks the centenary of Jules Verne's demise.
Centre International Jules Verne , Paris is hosting a large international gathering of writers, researchers, collectors, and literary enthusiasts. It is being organized in the cities of Amiens, Nantes and Paris from the 19th to the 27th March 2005. An event to laud the man who wrote the future of science.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Twinkle Twinkle...

We have all chanted and clapped to the tunes of nursery rhymes in our childhood. Nursery rhymes are our first venture into academics and often have a lasting impact. Most of us still remember a few rhymes (at least the tune).

However, there is an apparent contradiction to this entire issue. In fact, this feature is quite lucid in many rhymes. I am talking about the fact that most of the nursery rhymes seem to carry a downbeat mood in them. Most nursery rhymes have a satirical and sadistic expression. If we dig deeper into nursery rhymes, it turns out that these rhymes are actually describing events from history. And more often than not, these are great wars and catastrophic events that have pockmarked our history books. And in many cases, these Nursery rhymes are political in nature. They deride rulers, scoff at political systems, and have implied meanings.

It is evident that Nursery rhymes were not written for children. So, why are these Nursery rhymes of this nature? The answer is quite logical. These Nursery rhymes were composed by common people who did not dare to oppose the monarchy or ruler openly. To incur the wrath of the ruler, only meant death. These were hence composed using pseudonyms and analogies. They were written as a testimony of the misdeeds and incompetence of the system of government that existed those days.

But not all rhymes are of this nature. Some rhymes are indeed innocent stories to entertain children, but some are narratives of suave political moves and swindles, while some more are nonchalant descriptions of gruesome murders and deaths. In a way, nursery rhymes have become a record of the tumultuous times that the world has seen.

If you have decided to start a research on nursery rhymes and their origins after reading this piece..., dont... Here are some links that contain useful info.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

You only see what your eyes want to see

I woke up today morning. I am usually late. I did not have the digital clock at my bedside. My roommate was using it as he wanted to get up early.

I reached for my analog wristwatch on the table and saw the time. 10:30. Shit...!!! I scrambled up and rushed to the bathroom. In 15 mins, I was out and preparing breakfast. As the coffee was getting heated in the microwave oven, I glanced at the kitchen clock. What...!! 8:20 AM..!! Now what's wrong with the clock...!! I picked up my watch to set the correct time in the kitchen clock. I froze.

The time in my watch was 8:20 as well...

This is what must have happened. I had misread the time when I got up. I was up at 8:00 AM. I saw the watch upside down and thought it was 10:30 AM. But, even then, the time would be would have been only 2:30?!!! What is happening to me..?? Actually, this is not the first time such a thing has happened. I have done this "misinterpretation of time" before by looking at the watch upside down.

There can be only two plausible explanations to this...

a. You only see what you want to see. You usually have a guess in your mind about what the time is. When you glance at the watch, you are expecting to see something close to your guess. Nobody reads the numbers on an analog watch. The needles' position would suffice. So it is possible that the brain gets confused and reads a time that isn't.

b. I am the first victim of the MVS (Mirrored Vision Syndrome)

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Lesson for the day...

While removing a container from the back row of the kitchen larder, watch out for the container in front... :-(

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Windows to the Past

The language, whichever it is, is a fundamental part of everyone?s lives. Just imagine how it would have been if there was no language. If we begin to ponder about the necessity of a language, it takes us back millions of years ago to the time of human evolution. True, the language we use is as old as the human race itself. Each word we use today has its date of birth ranging from many thousand years ago to a few decades earlier. With every word we use, we are using a part of history. We are handling the result of human intelligence, in its purest form. So, logically, the usage of each word should give us the same feeling of exhilaration as having a Michelangelo in our drawing room.

But none of us ever feel that way. Language is perhaps something that has never got the respect it deserved. It is unfortunate, but true that we all take language for granted. We regard language as a set of symbols. We regard language as if it was issued by the government on morning and proclaimed that it was for the public to use. We fail to realize that each word was born due to a series of events. Each word is like a window to the past. Each word came about due to a dire necessity. Each word has a story to say. Each word has lived through thousands of years and has undergone many changes in its spelling and meaning.

English is a rogue of a language. From differences in pronunciation like ?put? and ?but?, to silent lettering in words, to obscure grammar, the language has always tormented its users. But it is these supposed imperfections that make this language a loveable rogue. What makes the English language more interesting than the others is that it has words with roots in nearly all European and many Asian languages. It has words borrowed from Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Arabic, Persian and our own Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. It even has some words, which are derived from proper nouns. No language can boast of such levels of adulteration?!!Etymology is the study that deals with the origin of words. Etymology can be a very interesting hobby. We can go through volumes of history with a single word.

At least, if not anything, let us be conscious of the fact that that, what we are having at our mere disposal is indeed the greatest invention of mankind.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

As I see it...

Life never gives you more than you can handle. This is true in both senses.

One, life always gives you what you deserve. If you want something, you have to be made of the right kind of material to handle it. Life will grant Money, Fame and Victory to anybody who just asks for it. But, ask yourself, ?Am I good enough to deal with it???

In the second sense, life will never assign you a task you cannot handle. It will never throw at you something you cannot cope with. Just take one step at a time. Don?t grumble. Think that, only because the work is difficult, has it been assigned to you. Else, anybody would have done it.

You have only one life?Live it.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Boni in kannada, tamil (maybe telugu too) means debut (first somebody put it...). Often used by vegetable and fruit vendors. Also auto rickshaw drivers.
Wonder where the word came from. It certainly doesn't sound like a sanskrit or tamil word (the 2 oldest languages in India). Might have come from a different country....urdu/persian perhaps...

That was MY boni..!!!