Monday, December 29, 2008




Ambigram, Me and My Friend

The very first time I read about ambigrams, about 3-4 years ago, I have always wanted to have my name written as an ambigram. It took great wisdom from my side (3-4 yrs) to actually look for online sites which can create ambigrams. When I finally found one, it so happened that I couldn't copy it :-( So, the mission was aborted until yesterday when I was talking to one of friends. He has a very creative mind and does art works like these, draws portraits etc. I requested him one and he immediately gave me one - actually two - one in black and the other in color.

I cannot stop but admire his creativity in this ART. Comparing it to the normal ambigrams as one would see in the 'Angels and Demons' book, I should say this IS creativity. Hats off to Thilak, the artist! :-)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The sixth pay commission in India increases the salary of the University/College teachers(click here). The minister for HRD says this is part of the effort to restore the dignity of the teaching profession. This is most welcome. In addition, they lay new rules that PhD is a basic qualification to become an assistant professor - commendable. (Law makers don't have to be a PhD yet!) The sixth pay commission seems to be welcome, at least to the teachers! But do we have enough 'qualified' teachers?!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Unbelievable

I don't think it could be common for someone to have seen a person in the morning, and after a few hours hear that the person is no more! It has come as a sudden news that Prof. Krishnaswamy, an Associate Professorial Fellow here at NUS, is no more. This morning, around 10.15 when I was running across to organize a seminar, I bumped into him. Though I knew him not personally, I knew him as a person the department respected most - the senior most - who was a great mentor in the development of the department. Around 4, I get the news from a colleague that he suffered a myocardial infarction around 2.45, and around 7, I hear that he is no more! In a way, he was probably lucky - not to have suffered the infirmities of old age - because he was working even that morning in the dept. But to accept that a person whom I saw this morning is no more in the afternoon is quite difficult. Infact, I have not been able to accept so far, any of the no-more's in our family. I weirdly get the feeling that they are some where else, still alive, just non-communicable. The logical mind contradicts,nevertheless, it is peaceful, sometimes, to keep away logic.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram

What a wonderful tamil name for the movie - The director (to an extent) justifies the title towards the end of the movie. It is a story narrated by a son on the occasion of his father's death, on how his father inspired and influenced his life. There were many good emotional points that can be applauded. Nevertheless, this Tamil movie is no exception to logical fallacies. Despite the logical fallacies, the story is too good and remains green in the memory, perhaps because the emotional factor is too high. Nice movie - one that lingers in the mind even after you leave the theatre hall.
Laments

I am being forced to believe that there are only a few 'true' scientists left in the world. Professors who (probably) did good science during their 'younger' life, no longer keep up with the current trends and lack the current knowledge. Hence they depend on their students and trust their understanding and summaries of research work. But students, sometimes, take advantage of this, presenting the professor with only what is needed, so that their argument APPEARS cogent. Especially when the research group is working on diverse areas, there is no one else to pinpoint out the mistake. It is the moral responsibility of the grad scholar to read and understand the literature *correctly* and think how to progress that field of research. When a mistake is pointed out, it is simply ridiculous if the grad scholar says " I am sorry, I messed up"! Science is no fun (and, especially you can say this to a reviewer)! It ought to be correct and that only is Science. I don't know why these hell creatures who *cannot* awe at Nature come to do Science. Admission should NOT be offered to anyone who wants to do a PhD just because it promises higher salary. A master degree would be sufficient for that! Infact, surveys have shown that master students earn more than a PhD graduate.
And it is the professor's moral responsibility to keep themselves updated of what is happening in the field and direct the grad student in more appropriate ways.
The professor should also NOT float a project if he doesn't know anything about it. Sometime ago, I had a chat with my friend, and we thought : Any professor who floats a project should first write a detailed proposal and submit it to the department for approval - which would ensure that the professor knows enough about the subject.

Well, life has to move on, whatever happens. :-(

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Philosophy of a PhD

Since time immemorial, I have always been wondering why a PhD is called a PhD - Why 'Doctor of Philosophy' and not 'Doctor of Physics/Maths/Chemistry/etc...
It has taken great wisdom from my part to actually type 'Philosophy' in google to really find its meaning. I found 8 meanings - all related to explaining philosophy as a way of thinking leading to wisdom. I give one of it here: "Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline".
Not being satisfied by the meaning found through google, I became curious about the etymology of the word and found its origin to two Greek words : 'phil' meaning love and 'sophy' meaning wisdom - but where did 'moral self-discipline' pop in??
So, a PhD, I understand,denotes that the holder of the degree has a love for wisdom and knows how to pursue his love. Still, the meaning of PhD is incomplete without defining what 'wisdom' is!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Do we, holding that the gods exist, decieve ourselves with the insubstantial dreams and lies, while random careless chance and change alone control the world?

- Euripides, Hecuba

Friday, August 29, 2008

On Education and Science

I was talking with my supervisor yesterday, as usual a highly energetic conversation! We touched on the topic of education when he quoted this ""Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime." Isn't this the crux of education? We shall not give the fish to eat, but teach him how to fish! Translating to the education language; Do not give closed ended questions for which there exists solution; but give open ended questions that allows/makes/trains one to think. I think this IS education. Many people think science is all about exploring the activities and observations around us and making technological advancements. Yes, this is indeed one part of science. But in my opinion, the true contribution of science to the society is the inculcation of the 'thinking process' in an individual, in turn to his family and in turn to the society as a whole. Doing science is not that easy or that fascinating as everybody (or most) think. It is a process that you undergo when you drag out all the intuitions within and spill it rationally and ratify your intuitions. Shortly put, it is extreme skepticism followed by productivity. Definitely doing Science is not the only way for such rational and critical thinking. But it is the best possible way! When you start practising so, you are automatically illuminated with moral and ethical responsibilities, something religion does (as some claim to) but blindly!

Education and Science should teach an individual to be extremely aware of whatever he thinks!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Science in India

I came across an abstract by Meera Nanda in a conference-to-be-held. It was on "Scientific Temper, Hindu Scientism and the future of Secularism in India". The abstract can be found here. I completely agree with the views presented in the abstract. Science teaches one to think objectively; to believe only after testing and experimentation rather than blindly accepting. Science, or for that matter, education, should teach one to respect each other and accept them for what they are, evaluate tasks objectively for progress. It is this quality that needs to be inculcated in the minds of the people. Leaders like Nehruji probably emphasized on science and education having these ideas in mind. But the so-called Hindu society pushes aside these notions as 'western influence' and is still drenched in old practices of god-men and gurujis. Worst to the fact, even educated people, holding highly respectable positions, fail to understand their duty and are driven by the 'kick' of power and do not work for the progress and development of the people. Well, this is the Indian society...a society that does not respect an individual nor do the people themself have responsibility. Dr. Kalam rightly chose the younger generation to reform!
Are you fooling yourself?

“I am unworthy of doing a PhD”, “My supervisor is soon going to find out that I am not capable of doing research”, “I am going to be thrown out of the grad school soon”.
- Have you ever lived with any of these fears in mind? If yes, continue reading to know that it is just a common syndrome among highly successful people and is called the ‘Impostor syndrome’.
The condition was first identified in 1978 by the psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes among ‘gifted women’. Slowly, it was realized that this condition is common among people in different walks of life, irrespective of gender.
The impostor syndrome is defined as the inability to internalize success. One feels that he/she is not really successful, competent and smart and is only imposing as such. They are in constant fear that their inabilities would be found out and shall be thrown out soon! They may also attribute success to other external sources (such as a computer error!) or luck and not to their own abilities. This is not an all or nothing syndrome. Some of us may be able to associate our self with a few statements. Some of us may identify with impostor feelings in some situations and not others or may not even identify these feelings but have friends who do. To read more about it and for ways to overcome the impostor feeling, the following pointers may help:
1. http://www.counseling.caltech.edu/articles/The%20Imposter%20Syndrome.htm
2. http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/03/10.30.03/imposter_syndrome.html
3. http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i11/11a00101.htm

Monday, June 23, 2008

FOOD BLOG!

Well, with loads of work sitting right front of me, I am tempted to go online to chat with friends...well thats something I cannot resist when someone wants to talk!Talking is such a ventilating phenomena...a ventilation for thoughts...be it wanted or unwanted...it is very much necessary that every one wants a patient ear. But given that XY is on the way back home, I have time left until XY reaches home after dinner...and let me finish off the FOOD BLOG...especially for bachelors by a bachelor! My experiences and tips for easy cooking for bachelors outside India.

The first recommendation is that : PLEASE LEARN TO COOK RICE, DHAL and SAMBAR from your dear amma! These are basic stuffs that you must know!

What I am going to give you here are somethings that you can have for a variety.

1. Veg Fried Rice

a. Well, this is one of the easiest stuff in the world!
Must requirements : Onion, Spring onion leaves, Rice and atleast one veggie.
b. Preferably I usually use these veggies : Carrot, Beans, Cauliflower...but its left to your imagination as to what else u want to add.
c. Fry onion (for three persons, I use 2 medium sized onions..but it doesn't matter) in the pan (after thalichufying with kadugu, curry leaf, cumin seeds). Once the onion is fried, add one veggie at a time and fry well until all the veggies are well cooked.
d. In the meantime, cook rice separately. See to that you give a little less amount of water so that rice does not 'kolanjufy'.
e. Now, add the veggies into the cooked rice and mix well. For efficient mixing purposes, u can add veggies little by little to rice. (If you haven't added salt, don't forget to add that too!).
f. Now fry Spring onion leaves in the pan...and when the smell of the leaves come, stop frying and add it to the rice and mix again.
g. READY TO SERVE!!

Its so simple! If you have agenomoto, u can add it to the rice while mixing veggies...add only a little.

NOTE: You can use the veggie so prepared with chappati/bread or anything. You can use pototoes too and make it like bhaji (for pav).

2. Thakkali Pachadi.

This is another most easy-to-make item.

Basic Requirement: Tomatos and Onions.

a. Thalichufy stuffs (kadugo, seeragam, curry leaf, green capsicum etc.)
b. Fry Onions very well(how much ever you want).
c. Add equal amount of well-cut tomatos and fry in the pan until the oil comes up. (If you have left less oil, fry until the entire stuff becomes like jelly-like.
d. READY TO SERVE!

NOTE 1: This item, when preserved well, can be used for abt a week. Care must be taken so that no wet spoon or anything wet doesn't get in.

Note 2: You can mix this item with rice and get tomato rice...or can use it as a bread/chappati spread...or even as a side dish for Thayir saadham!

Thats all for now... will try to post more!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

New addition to my Google Page!

Hello All, I have added a new page to my webpage...Do have a look!

http://vmsrvignesh.googlepages.com/myforayintoart

Thanks!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Some tips on Oral presentations

After observing a few oral presentations by notable professors, I thought there are atleast two important aspects which display one's authority or profoundness in that partcular field:

1. Relate your current work (the small step you have taken) to the overall picture/broader objective of yours.

2. Acknowledge the importance of the other parts of the big picture that you probably haven't done. (This also shows that you know about it...and that you are humble! :-) )
Research - Some reflections

It is our innate desire to take control of our surroundings and the eagerness to display our prowess in doing so, that has lead to us to ask the 'why','what' and 'how' of things. This is interesting, challenging and exciting....- 'the fun of science'!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I don't remember why and under what circumstances I wrote my previous blog on Ageing...but today, I read the same in the book : "The Alchemist"!

Here is the paragraph from the book: " Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realise their Personal Legend."

Isn't this pretty much the same I had tried to convey earlier in my blog?! But ofcourse, this is very well-written. :-)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ageing

Ageing - I believe everyone will agree to me if one defines ageing as a "A transition from idealistic thinking to pragmatic thinking". As time rolls by, we learn a lot about the people around us, the working of the world, and identify ourselves as part of the huge world.

As children, we aspired to become something and believed that one and only 'I' am eligible for that and one and only 'I' can make it happen. All wonders would be within our hands of reach. But as we start interacting with the world, we understand that the world is not the ideal place we thought of, that the wonders are not at hands' reach. Will this understanding be a linear increase with time? If so, then here is the recipe for being young: Think ideally!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Richard P. Feynman

Being a great admirer of Feynman, I think it is injustice not to have any of his quotes in my blog...Here are two of his poems that I/many like:

I wonder why, I wonder why.
I wonder why I wonder.
I wonder why I wonder why
I wonder why I wonder!


I stand at the seashore, alone, and start to think...
There are the rushing waves
mountains of molecules
each stupidly minding its own business
trillions apart
yet forming white surf in unison.

Ages on ages
before any eyes could see
year after year
thunderously pounding the shore as now.
For whom, for what?
On a dead planet
with no life to entertain.

Never at rest
tortured by energy
wasted prodigiously by the sun
poured into space.
A mite makes the sea roar.

Deep in the sea
all molecules repeat
the pattern of one another
till complex new ones are formed.
They make others like themselves
and a new dance starts.

Growing in size and complexity
living things
masses of atoms
DNA, protein
dancing a pattern ever more intricate.

Out of the cradle
onto dry land
here it is
standing:
atoms with conciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea,
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.
-- Richard P. Feynman (1955)

Friday, February 29, 2008

கனா காணும் காலங்கள்
- ஆம், நிச்சயமாக நம் பள்ளி நாட்கள் தாம்!

மிகுந்த சுவையுடன் அசை போடும் நினைவுகள்.

குடும்பம் என்ற வட்டத்திற்கு அப்பாற்பட்டுக் கிடைத்த முதல் அன்பு: நண்பர்கள்.
அவர்களுடன் விளைந்த சிறு மோதல்கள், அதனைத் தொடர்ந்த அன்புப் பரிமாற்றங்கள், அரும்புக் காதல்கள் என்று பல நினைவில் நீங்கா எண்ணங்கள்; இலட்சியங்களை சாதிக்கும் குணங்கள்,நம்மை அறியாமலேயே விதையிடப்பட்ட பருவம்: பள்ளிப் பருவம்.

இத்தகைய அருமையான பள்ளிப் பருவத்தை மையமாகக் கொண்ட "கனா காணும் காலங்கள்" என்னும் விஜய் டிவி நிகழ்ச்சி நான் விரும்பிப் பார்க்கும் ஒன்று.

அத்தியாயம் 267-ல், நண்பர்களுக்கிடையே நிகழும் மோதல்களினால் ஏற்படும் வலியை அற்புதமாக ஒரு கவிதையின் மூலம் சொல்லி இருந்தார்கள்; இதோ உங்களுக்காக்:

நண்பா!

நீ பறவை, நான் மரம்.
என் கிளையை காயப்படுத்திவிட்டு உயர எழும் உன் கால்கள்;
உயர உயர நீ பறப்பாய், காயப்பட்ட நானோ கண்ணீருடன்;
எல்லைகளைத் தொட்டுக் களைத்து நீ திரும்பி வருவாய் இளைப்பாற
என் கிளைகள் எப்போதும் காத்திருக்கும்.


பள்ளி பருவத்தில் நமக்கு நம்மீது இருந்த நம்பிக்கையை நினைவூட்டுவதாக அமைந்தது மற்றொன்று:

நான் மலையில் கல்லுடைப்பதாக எண்ணி
அணைவரும் என்னை அலட்சியமாக பார்த்தார்கள்
அவர்களுக்குத் தெரியவில்லை நான் மலையை
உடைத்துக் கொண்டிருக்கிறேன் என்று.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Horribe Choice

Whoever said PhD is tough is 200% correct.
When I took up graduate studies I had the opinion that this student didn't enjoy science. But now I realise that a PhD is not only about learning to do science but also understanding and managing people...working to meet their expectations and imaginations!
My first recommendation to anyone who sees this blog: DO NOT OPT for PHD. Instead, take up a masters course by research, and if you still survived, then opt for PhD (at your own risk again).
For those who have already gained admission, please do not choose a project which involves two PIs. You are likely to suffer as much as I do...or even more. The ideas, experiences, expectations of X and Y being different, you are more likely to get trained in managing these people rather than doing any work. Particularly when X discusses things and Y simply works things it is lot lot lot lot lot more difficult.

The other suggestion I would like to give someone who has got an admit, choose a group that is established, dynamic and lively. Do not choose to be supervised by professors who are in the senior-most cadre (administrative jobs)...and even if you choose to, make sure he/she has a big group working. Do not get stuck as a single person driving your project.