Thursday, December 30, 2010

Aesthetics and Science

This article by Dr. Chandrasekhar, is the best I have read so far on the motivations of scientific pursuit.

To kindle your interest:

"the motives which guide the scientific man are, from the beginning, manifestations of the aesthetic impulse"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Manmadhan Ambu

I cannot deny it is a very humorous movie. Apart from many of the specifics that can be appreciated, I found the story line very impressive.

A person is dying of cancer. If only he had money to get the necessary treatment, he can live. Isn't a life more worth than anything else in the world? So, his friend decides to undertake a spying work for which he is promised to be taken care of the hospital expenses. He needs to tail an actress who is taking a vacation in Europe. The actress's lover doubts her. A natural doubt that might arise in anybody in today's world. I wouldn't call it justified, but it is natural. Women these days are working. But men, most part, have still not come out of their cocoons fully. So, it is very natural that they do get into a mode of doubt. That has been portrayed very well in the movie. When the detective friend finds that the actress is beyond doubt, the lover gets into a stupid argument that since the detective did not find anything new, he will not get any pay. This again, is a very nice portrayal of the mentalities of people today. Take for example, what you expect from a Scientist. Every tax payer expects that a scientist would churn out a new finding everyday that would change their lives forever. In reality, that is not what happens. And they say, it is the moral right of the tax payer to expect it from a Scientist. Truly, no. The layman has no idea of how Science progresses and how slow it can be. It is the very nature of Science. In addition, uncertainty is the paradigm of Science. Just because a scientists announces something, it necessarily is not true. It may be disproved immediately, or sometimes, after very many years. It is this kind of situation that the detective is faced with. He is doing his duty...but that does not satisfy what the employer wants! Should he live to being honest, or, can he make a 'thagudu thatham' to save his friend? Propelled by the wrong intentions of the employer, the detective ends up in twisting the truth, which is still true, but is miscontrued by the employer - because of his preconceptions. These preconceptions finally lead to breaking up of their love forever.

I liked the movie for its simple, yet, profound story. Preconceptions are part of what we are. It cannot be denied. But if we are not open to change, we would finally lose.

The story cannot be better said!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Seas

The seas house many unimaginable wonders of the world. Starting from the colors of the water, to the colors of the seabed, to the variety of organisms, colors of them are all mind-boggling wonders. A travel to the sea always reminds that the earth, however netted by the internet, is still big and has a lot to be explored. In the last 6 months, I have had the chance to visit two different seas: The South China Sea along Bintan, Indonesia and the Andaman Sea along Phuket, Thailand. The two places where very very exotic and different in their own way. At the outset, Bintan had clear blue waters while Phuket had Turquoise blue waters. See the pictures below: The first one is Bintan, and the next one is Phuket.

This color difference was the one that I noticed first. It was exotic to see turquoise blue waters in Phuket. One could note that even as one is flying into Phuket. In contrast, the waters in Bintan were clear blue. The reason, I learned later, was due to the fact that Phuket waters contain more of lime dissolved in them and the sea bed is made of limestone. The dissolved lime and the seabed, contribute to this color of the water. Water, in itself, does not have any color. But the dissolved particles, or the surface beneath, when reflecting/refracting the light from the sun, gives such a color to the water. The reddish color of certain other seas, I learn, is because of the ion content dissolved in them. So, the color of the ocean tells us about the ecology in that area!

I also noticed that the corals in Phuket (during snorkelling) were more colorful and housed more fishes than that we saw in Bintan. This could be due to several reasons. The one we saw in Bintan was shallower than the ones we saw in Phuket. A deeper sea could have more colorful corals. Maybe. But I did notice that there were huge schools of fishes in Phuket than in Bintan. I don't know why. But it was a little frightening to see huge swarms of fishes! :-) The colors of the fishes, I just couldn't believe my eyes. I don't know if we can reproduce such colors in paintings! In their natural setting, the colors were awesome.

The next thing I noticed was the huge limestone rock mountains in the Phuket seas. It seems that these limestone rocks are there for over several thousand years. The calcium deposition during the ice age, along with volcanic activities, they say, had shaped the current geology of the area. Bintan, on the other hand, was just like the seas that we know of usually. A large landscape with no interrupting rocks or mountains. What was more interesting is that, these large limestone rocks, sometimes looked as though somebody had taken a huge knife and just sliced it apart! That was intriguing. But later I learnt that since the limestones are inelastic, when the seabed underneath undergoes an expansion, the rocks just split apart, unlike sand mountains which would slide and make an even topography. See the photo below. This may not be the best picture, but still you can appreciate that this particular side of the rock has been just sliced off as though you cut an apple into two halves.

There are several studies on the geology of the andaman sea. This one 'The Andaman Sea Rocks' is a good start to read about them.

That's so much I have to say about the landscapes I have seen in the two places.

Corals, the organisms that give the landscape of the sea, are interesting in their own. Their way of living, their physiology, their anatomy, their symbiotic modes of living are way intriguing. Wikipedia has lots of interesting information on, I don't think I should reproduce the information. But anybody who is going to snorkeling or diving, should first read about the corals. You will then be able to appreciate the beauty and the lifestyle of these organisms much better!

PS: The photos I have provided here were taken by my friend, Santio Ruban. So, if you want any of them, please contact him.

Hues of Happiness

It is christmas time. The nights are dark and cold. The streets are deserted. The lights on the christmas trees are winking at each other, with no passers by to spy on. The calm air is filled with happiness...gently moving through the streets again and again to ensure to fill every tiny crevices with joy. The year is coming to end. But the plants don't seem to be aware of it. They are enjoying their lovely calm nights, occasionally gossipping with the moving breeze. Happiness is everywhere.
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


8.23 pm. Pandian express is standing in the first platform. The platform is teemed with a number of people. The college students teaming up, making loud noises as they get ready to enjoy their travel together. There is still one machi not yet turned up. So one guy is trying to reach him.
In another compartment, the husband is going on a business trip and the whole family is standing at the platform giving all sorts of last minute warnings and wishes.
In yet another compartment a couple with a new born sitting and attending to their kid. Suddenly they realize they would run out off water soon. So the husband is rushing out witg the wife shouting that it was time and he should not go. The husband, still propelled by his lovr for his kid, pushes his way through the small door through which passengers are coming in. The incoming passengers are shouting at the husband.
The platform is filled with "idly vadai....kaapi, tea' music. Porters are urgently making their way. Railway authorities getting ready doing all the last minute checkings. 8.29 pm. The friend has just got down from the auto and is dashing in. The husband is waiting for the shop keeper to give back the change. The family people are giving their handshakes and are reluctant to part.

The atmosphere is filled with intense tension. Even a silent spectator could sense the tension prevailing there. 8.30 pm. The train starts moving. The husband runs to enter into one if the compartments. He gives a hand to the late friend who was struggling to throw his bags inside. The wife trying to get a glimpse of her husband through the window...but in vain...she is still tensioned.

The train slowly moves away from the platform. All the waving hands are going down one by one. The platform becomes empty in a few minutes.

There is stillness. The tension in the atmosphere vaporizes. Time seems to take slow strides. There is stillness. Peace. A blankness. The stillness after a heavy tension. A tension that grew to fulfill ambitions (late friend). A tension that grew out of love - the dad for his kid, the wife for her husband.
But when they all move over, there is a sense of peace and happiness. The sound of the stillness pervades the mind and body.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

I don't know if this is appropriate:

Even though the IT companies scrap off the last ounce of creativity and innate talents, they have been valuable in improving the socio-economic statuses of several families and the nation as a whole. But this initiative - to waive the written aptitude test for "consistent performance" (read 'consistent regurgitation') - is a further step in ensuring and encouraging a mentality among the students that stresses the importance of memory, rather than use of intellect. It is not enough only for the academic institutes to talk about improving educational standards, but recruiters must equally participate. This is very much frustrating. This is also a bias against the "late pickers". A late bloomer canNOT be discriminated, for any reason, against a consistent performer.