May 2005 BLOG

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1 May 2005: Watched Palindromes. Its about how people change. Or don't. About moral issues and how some people hijack the issue. about freedom and what can happen of it and all that. 2.25/5 Palindromes(2004)
3 May 2005: What to do with old CDs? The reader's suggestions are more interesting. But clearly there is more scope. old CDs
4 May 2005: Feynman to be featured on a US stamp
... and Gibbs and John Von Neumann
5 May 2005: Lake Cuyamaka was amazing.
6 May 2005: Read Sasha Frere-Jones' "Ring my bell" in The NewYorker of Mar 7, 2005.

It talks about how ringtones are spreading, their quality, origins and all that. Like Linus Torvalds, Vesa-Matti Paananen is Finnish and give the world ringtones by realizing that Nokia's smart messaging for text will also work with bits of music. He put his software "Harmonium" on the internet for downloading and missed making a buck (or a billion). New players on the block are Jamster, Xingtones etc. There are polyphonic and master tone versions. Most good songs can not be transposed to these small bits. If a song does sound good on a cell-phone, may be it has music hardy DNA, or the song itself is just like a ringtone.

The following ringtone experience I had in Hyderabad in Dec 2005 is worth mentioning: It was the HydStat meeting being held at International School of Business. We were gathered in a big hall for the inauguration. As is customary, all were asked to turn off their cellphones. To start with, we all rose to maintain a minute's silence for the Tsunami victims. While we were thus standing, from a lady's cell 'phone rang out "Saare jahan se achchaa ...". It was rather ironical. You proudly use such a ringtone, but do not follow standard courtesies :-(

Ring my bell
Sasha Frere-Jones
The New Yorker
Jamster's Realtones
Jamster's Polyphonic tones
7 May 2005: Thinking of doing the Angeles Crest hwy drive for wildflowers Link
8 May 2005: Had the opportunity to interact with Prof. Madhav Deshpande who has been teaching Sanskrit at U Mass for over 2 decades. He was in town to attend a workshop at UCLA. He spoke about the nature of Sanskrit and other Indic languages. Being unbiased, he could unashamedly give examples where Sanskrit has (had to as a matter of mixing) borrowed a word here and another there from Prakrit. What I had not appreciated before was the regour of Panini in not only defining the grammer but also an almost all-encompassing lexicon of roots which spread out in making ever newer words.
He also talked about the atmosphere in Pune when Tilak was growing up, about Bhandarkar, and Chattre (the Vishnu Sahasranaam anecdote) etc.
I am trying yet again to get into Sanskrit. There are some wonderful resources out there. The best I think is the set of lessons from Wikner. The Monier-Willaims dictionary is also available.
Madhav Deshpande
Sanskrit resources
online Sanskrit dictionary
Charles Wikner's course
Elementary lessons with audio
Bontes' windows program
MW in png format
9 May 2005: Meet-o-matic seems to be a good tool to find out what dates suit people better (when arranging a meeting) meet-o-matic
11 May 2005: Is your favourite language the best? Language shootout
12 May 2005: Here are some excerpts from (with some of the Physics omitted so that it is accesible to laypeople). I was moved to bring it in following a discussion I had with dada recently. He said he was planning to write something like "interview with maayaawatI", maayaa being the Hindu term used to denounce the reality of the world we live in. I commented that some new Physics seems to be embracing what could be said to be the almost exact opposite - that we in fact denote the "real" reality of a higher dimensional space.
The Holographic Principle and M-theory

To them, I said,
the truth would be literally nothing
but the shadows of the images.
-Plato, The Republic (Book VII)

Holography Through the Ages

Plato, the great Greek philosopher, wrote a series of `Dialogues' which summarized many of the things which he had learned from his teacher, who was the philosopher Socrates. One of the most famous of these Dialogues is the `Allegory of the Cave'. In this allegory, people are chained in a cave so that they can only see the shadows which are cast on the walls of the cave by a fire. To these people, the shadows represent the totality of their existence - it is impossible for them to imagine a reality which consists of anything other than the fuzzy shadows on the wall.

However, some prisoners may escape from the cave; they may go out into the light of the sun and behold true reality. When they try to go back into the cave and tell the other captives the truth, they are mocked as madmen.

Of course, to Plato this story was just meant to symbolize mankind's struggle to reach enlightenment and understanding through reasoning and open-mindedness. We are all initially prisoners and the tangible world is our cave. Just as some prisoners may escape out into the sun, so may some people amass knowledge and ascend into the light of true reality.

What is equally interesting is the literal interpretation of Plato's tale: The idea that reality could be represented completely as `shadows' on the walls.

The Holographic Principle and Modern Physics

In 1993 the famous Dutch theoretical physicist G. 't Hooft put forward a bold proposal which is reminiscent of Plato's Allegory of the Cave.
All of the information contained in some region of space can be represented as a `Hologram' - a theory which `lives' on the boundary of that region. For example, if the region of space in question is the DAMTP Tearoom, then the holographic principle asserts that all of the physics which takes place in the DAMTP Tearoom can be represented by a theory which is defined on the walls of the Tearoom.
To many people, the Holographic Principle seems strange and counterintuitive: How could all of the physics which takes place in a given room be equivalent to some physics defined on the walls of the room? Could all of the information contained in your body actually be represented by your `shadow'?
In fact, the way in which the Holographic Principle appears in M-theory is much more subtle. In M-theory we are the shadows on the wall. The `room' is some larger, five-dimensional spacetime and our four-dimensional world is just the boundary of this larger space. If we try to move away from the wall, we are moving into an extra dimension of space - a fifth dimension. In fact, people have recently been trying to think of ways in which we might actually experimentally `probe' this fifth dimension.

15 May 2005: After years of not being able to, Jay and I made it to the JPL openhouse. While its certainly great for non-astronomers, I did not find it very impressive. Unfortunately there was a lot of propoganda, and self-congratulating videos. While JPL has had a lot of success recently with SIRTF and Galex developments, thanks to Bush they seem to have to keep on harping about Mars, and nary a word about Hubble :-(
Did like the Robot building competiotion for schools.
The education center was okay too.
I guess what I had hoped more was a greater communication between the public and JPL people, which was lacking.
Watched Peter Sellers' "The party". It is good, but wondered just like in the Temple of doom, as to why so much fun at the expense of India (or an Indian in this case).
Anu was quick to notice where the shoe-in-water scene in namakhalal came from.
The Party (1968)
Namakhalaal (1982)
16 May 2005: Star Wars- Episode III "Revenge of the Sith" is set to release on Thursday. Here is an excerpt from A O Scott's (NYT) preview:
"This is how liberty dies - to thunderous applause," Padmé observes as senators, their fears and dreams of glory deftly manipulated by Palpatine, vote to give him sweeping new powers. "Revenge of the Sith" is about how a republic dismantles its own democratic principles, about how politics becomes militarized, about how a Manichaean ideology undermines the rational exercise of power. Mr. Lucas is clearly jabbing his light saber in the direction of some real-world political leaders. At one point, Darth Vader, already deep in the thrall of the dark side and echoing the words of George W. Bush, hisses at Obi-Wan, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy." Obi-Wan's response is likely to surface as a bumper sticker during the next election campaign: "Only a Sith thinks in absolutes."
Revenge of the Sith - Preview
Rebuffing Bush, 132 Mayors Embrace Kyoto Rules. I wish more would. But beware of windpower - don't let the windmills kill birds NYT article
"Words Matter" was a discussion on scientific writing (3rd annual). 3 12-minute talks by Margaret Wertheim, Christof Koch, Leonard Mlodinow followed by discussion. About targetting the audience, being accurate and passionate, and keeping one's audience and oneself in mind. Some interesting facts about who reads science magazenes (87% male, ave. age 49) and how one can try to seep it in to other periodicals so other people read it. Could not get to my question about how to get at least part of superstition out of the system. Margaret Wertheim
Christof Koch
Leonard Mlodinow
Crochet, hyperbolic surfaces, and the Institute for figuring
19 May 2005: Stable grounds today. California starts predicting eartquakes - well, at least the aftershock probabilitiess from any that occur. Yellow is warning, red is danger. Blue is cool. While one need not look at it as one would the weather forecast, it becomes a useful tool combined with a subscription to the mailing list that informs you when an earthquake has occured. You can then go look at the hourly forecast for possible aftershocks. The current system treats all earthquakes as the main one and predicts smaller quakes based on that. Half the time, however, for the big quakes, there have been smaller foreshocks. So the really nervous can extrapolate and run (would you be livig in CA then, though?). NYT article
Hourly forecast
So Cal subscription info for quake emails
20 May 2005: Am helping Jay and his team prepare for the County level Math field day. Noticed that they spend a lot of time just doing multiplications and divisions. So even though they may know how to solve a problem, they get slowed down. Vedic Maths would be an ideal solution. Also, if they see something that seems completely new, they fumble a bit. For that Polya comes to mind. trying to come up with a ste of examples which use both, and won't overwhelm them. Basic Polya
hitguj starts of my vedic Maths lessons
21 May 2005: Austin Powers in Goldmember. Had to start doing other things while watching it. I wonder how people pay money to watch it. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)
22 May 2005: Watched Devrai. Its a very good movie, bordering on a documentary, on schizophrenia. Dr. Prakash Rajadhyaksha who watched it with us attested to the near accuracy with which the happening would occur in a real case. I was surprized to learn that the incidence rate (across all countries) is a high 1%, and typically gets into play after 15-17 years of age, is genetic and not curable (completely, presently). Devrai (2004)
27 May 2005: Watched "Lost in transalation". Okay but too slow. They tried to make fun of Japanese and show some good things at the same time and managed neither. Lost in translation (2003)
28 May 2005: Smithsonian and intelligent design: Smithsonian museum is set to host for private viewing a movie about intelligent design. Their fossil records of course have always cried out "evolution". The museum says screening need not mean endorsing. But the question that dogs so many organizations on policies comes up here too: should they allow such a screening just because they get 16K USD? Smithsonian and evolution
31 May 2005: Returned from a short but enjoyable trip to Santa Barbara. The beaches were crowded and we spent a good part away from them. The botanical garden is in a nice setting, and Figueroa Mountain with its scattering of flowers just indicated how gorgeous it must have been but a few weeks earlier. The Chumash Indian cave paintings were amazing and their colors made one feel as if done were done this century rather than the 17th.
Chumash Paintings
Botanic garden
Hwy 154 and Figueroa

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