Archive for November, 2005

There has been a lot of media space devoted to the recent remarks by Kushboo and Suhasini…
The level of intolerance exhibited by the few unruly demonstrators is appalling. Mr. Ramodoss and the PMK(and DPI etc etc) seem to have the gift of generating controversies out of nothing. The violent behavior on the streets is beyond limits even if you allow for the conservative chennai attitude. After all, these are their personal views. If you don’t like them, great!.. make ur case. Personality attacks aren’t the way to go about it.
Thankfully, most of the media is on Kushboo’s side in this regard. (except ofcourse.. some ever-callous Tamil Newspapers/TV channels) Here are some recent articles on the issue from the Hindu:

Freedom At Stake

[..]But the civil society responded, slowly but surely. Journalists’ associations were quick to sense a threat to freedom of expression, and opposed the moral policing. Among the political parties, the Left organisations recognised the seriousness of the issue and condemned the protests. Eventually, it became clear that the protestors enjoyed no public sympathy despite the wide coverage they got in a partisan section of the media[..]

Conspiring to silence Unconventional Voices

The crux of the whole debate…

[..] one is not called upon to concede that all contrary viewpoints are as valid as one’s own. All that the tolerance required in a democracy entails is the recognition that perfectly reasonable fellow citizens could hold a different viewpoint. It does not in any way diminish the strength of one’s own conviction that a particular viewpoint is the correct one. On the other hand, it is a recognition that only if varying viewpoints are aired freely, with the society itself not afraid of any idea, can democratic debate be promoted[..]

Another obvious trait is the silencing of any bold (or even perfectly normal) statements by women celebrities.. Here is a hard-hitting article by Kalpana Sharma :

Women Speak Out

[..]The other issue that our hypocritical society will not touch is the question of women’s sexuality, their right to choose and their right to express their choice. In the name of protecting “culture” or “tradition”, women are constantly told what they can or cannot say, what they can or cannot do, what they can or cannot wear and ultimately what they can or cannot think. We are willing to elevate women to the status of goddesses and worship them. But they must remain obedient and silent[..]

The good thing is that the debate is now out in the open!.. In the Final analysis, I hope that these self-appointed guardians of “Tamil Culture” see their moral sand dunes washed away .

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At t

A quote from the Russian mathematician V. I. Arnol’d:

It is almost impossible for me to read contemporary mathematicians who,
instead of saying “Petya washed his hands,” write simply: “There is a
$t_1<0$ such that the image of $t_1$ under the natural mapping

$t_1 \mapsto {\rm Petya}(t_1)$ belongs to the set of dirty hands, and a
$t_1<t_2 \leq 0$, such that the image of $t_2$ under the
above-mentioned mapping belongs to the complement of the set defined in the
preceding sentence.”

I got this from here.

I thought of taking a 3-4 day break from blogging for this.. but the break extended far beyond the exam!

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This Sunday, CBS carried Neil’s interview. Must be one of his very few TV appearences…
Here are a few excerpts

I just don’t deserve it [the attention for being the first man on the Moon] I wasn’t chosen to be first…I was just chosen to command that flight. Circumstance put me in that particular role. That wasn’t planned by anyoneThe one thing I regret was that my work required an enormous amount of my time and a lot of travel …and I didn’t get to spend the time I would have liked with my family as they grew up

The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on Earth. It’s an interesting place to be…I recommend it.

Read more from this website.

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GMRT.. recent stuff.

This isn’t a post explaining GMRT to everyone (like my SDSC post). I would love to do it.. but even a reasonable explanation will take a long time to compile. Here , I have just collected a few media reports reg GMRT:

I came across this article on TIFR and its outposts in the latest issue of Frontline.

[…]the GMRT itself is a unique research facility located in Narayangaon near Pune. It consists of 30 fully steerable gigantic parabolic dishes, each with a diameter of 45 meters. The dishes are placed over an area of 25 square kilometers, forming an incongruous landscape of vineyards interspersed with gigantic dish antennas […]

Apart from the work noted in the Frontline article, another prominent discovery was that of an energetic pulsar, a few months back. See the DH report here. In its India Special, New Scientist carried a wonderful article on GMRT.

[..]Through clever innovation, such as using a mesh of fine wires to form the reflecting surface of each dish, Ananthakrishnan and his colleagues, led by NCRA’s Govind Swarup, have created a revolutionary, low-cost design. The entire telescope cost $12 million[..]

Here is a nice pic of a dish [from NCRA]

GMRT is a fabulous facility, amongst the very best in the world when it comes to Radio Astronomy. India is now a leading center for Radio Astronomy. It is also part of the team of countries looking into the Square Kilometer Array , the next generation Radio telescope. It is quite an ambitious project. The Indian page for the project is here. A recent IE article on this specific project is here. Beware about the number quoted against ‘area required’. It says 1 million sq Km.(1/3rd India) 🙂 .. this must be wrong. The actual conference website talks about 1 million sq.m . [An aside.. This indicates the poor quality of science reporting in India. Doesn’t 1 million sq km sound odd?? I wonder why the reporter didn’t get it checked]

Hope that u enjoyed the various links… I will make a detailed post on GMRT at a later point.

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It was raining and the reporter was drenched. He was literally gasping for breath…he had been there all day long,”Breaking” the news. ‘The Action’ had been absorbing and draining. The whole country was hooked on to this story..or so he thought. A little extra from the reporter would have made the whole thing sound like a happening terrorist attack.. ..

This is how I felt when I saw Shivnath Thukral (NDTV) cover the Ambani Bros patch up(I am serious about every word of what I have said) . All bulletins were hijacked by this issue…and ST was the hero for abt 4-5 hrs. Ofcourse, this is an old one.. but this is one image that stuck to my mind as being representative of the attitude of the TV channels towards reporting news. If this is NDTV’s state, Headlines Today needs no clarification..only “Headlines”.
Just look at NDTV’s daily Schedule :

Breakfast Your Day, Today’s Breaking Story,News at 10,News at Noon ,Nationwide,News and Sports Update,The Evening News ,Prime Time,News Now

All of this is just a sexed up way of saying : News every half hour and ya..Anchor changes every two hours. BBC/CNN seem to manage pretty well with news every hour even though they cater to a much larger audience. They also have many broadcasts which go much beyond ‘current’ affairs. Our desi channels have an almost blank sheet in this regard.

Are you looking for a subtle/poignant portrayal of an issue??..Sorry! No place for such reporting in this maddening race towards breaking stories. The coverage of the Delhi Blasts and its aftermath by our TV channels just brought back these thoughts to my mind. Anybody saw Barkha Dutt’s live one hour program from Sarojini Nagar??(a day after the blasts) . Aprt from repeating the “Spirit of Delhi” part.. I don’t think she did much. It was all about sound-bytes.. a few catch phrases. And ya.. there was this NDTV reporter outside the Jaipur stadium who kept telling us that Dhoni has lifted the spirits of the entire country with his knock. He did this all day long. Horrendous!! If this is indeed true.. we must be ashamed as a nation. How on earth does a cricket game compare with a terrorist attack ? Forced to report every hour, this Jaipur reporter was just giving junk news.

These channels are probably in the process of maturing… I only hope that they finally get rid of this culture.

6th Nov, Update : I saw this article (by Sivanti Ninan) in the latest issue of Hindu’s Magazine.. It is specifically about the coverage of the blasts in Delhi.

[..]Live coverage continued through the night, and advertising was never put on hold. Star News was blanking out all else even 24 hours later. The law of blanket disaster coverage is that the less hard news you have, the longer you spin it out[..]

I must add that I felt that the article could have been much less polite 😕

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[via RSS@HarvardLaw]

We have seen NDTV’s follow the leader. But, there is an interesting version from China’s official Newspaper “People’s Daily” : RSS feeds for the top communist leaders… 🙂 Get the feeds from here.
From Wikipedia entry for People’s Daily:

The People’s Daily is the chief mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, editorials in the People’s Daily are also still regarded as fairly authoritative statements of government policy

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The Scian Melt # 12

The ribbon on the right is to condole the death of innocent souls in the dastardly attacks at Delhi’s market places. Please blog about this crime… i hope we don’t need desipundit’s calls for “… Day” to even have a post.
Now to the 12th edition of the Scian Melt.

Starting with math stuff, Anand of Locana takes time out to explain an elegant property of the ever interesting Fibonacci series. And Sivakumar does not like the usual base-10 “long-division”. He prefers a base-2 method and feels that it brings home the idea of partitioning in a simpler way. He also has interesting comments on selling Science in general and Theoretical Computer Science in particular. And at Geomblog, Suresh falls silent when he meets a cab-driver enquiring about P-NP algorithms!..a must read.

Check out Abi’s(of Nanopolitan) post in memory of Richard Smalley, the Nobel Laureate who discovered fullerenes. Abi is also upset about the falling quality of the editorials in Current Science, India’s premier Science Journal. Given Current Science’s pre-eminent position amongst Indian Journals, this is a serious issue. And Resonance, the pedagogical cousin of Current Science made a curious appearance at CosmicVariance. In the comments section, a reader expresses doubts about the contribution of cultural inclinations to the title of the magazine. I couldn’t get at what he is trying to point out.. u can try!

Are we alone in this universe??..we might never know, but we have an equation which may help us in this regard!… the famous Drake equation. Sowmya has a post on it. Her fifth post on Einstein is also out. This time, it is the epochal explanation for Brownian Motion . Nandakumar argues against “comparative judgment” while doing research. The example he quotes is from his own experience as a physicist..but i guess it is true everywhere. More on Physics…check out my post on Physicists’ way with words. Electron Blue has an interesting experience of explaining Quantum Physics to an Indian. It is to do with the Deepak Chopra’s nonsensical package of Quantum Healing + Traditional Indian… Don’t we get into such situations pretty often??

In response to an email request, Selva at Scian tells us about how the rainbows that we see are unique to each of us! He also clarifies on the physics of earthquakes, while varnam (having been thro quite a few quakes) reiterates the importance of being serious about earthquake-proof buildings. Charu of indsight has an update on the status of HIV in India.

And now, to our regular science periodicals.. Sunil is out with the 4th edition of his wonderful “Everything Scientific”. And, in his new series of casual weekend discussions, Sunil points out that we have something to learn from those “lean, mean, fighting machines”. The recently started Science Fridays @ Sepia is now running to full houses! The second edition is about China’s Space mission while the third talks about Asians in the Science Policy-making hierarchy of the US. Both posts have attracted a large no. of comments.

If all of that was too much of serious science.. go over to Prashant’s (at Kyun) post on the most significant sci-flicks.

The Melt comes to an end with a hot discovery! CuriousGawker has found that The Center for Humanity and Underhanded Remote Control of Humanity has found a remote control for humans. See the post to learn more about this organisation and its competitors, closer home.

Hope U liked the Melt…and pple, I had nominations from just two people (Selva,Sowmya ). Do show more enthu for future melts. This melt is a great idea! Infact, the next melt is still up for grabs..show your interest by signing up with Selva (melt [at] thescian.com)

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