Friday, June 23, 2006

How things come to this point?

This morning as I was checking for the something at the website of Research Laboratories for Electronics I saw the news item that Rahul Sarpeshkar has been awarded a tenure. Though I was initially thinking about why the term 'awarded' is being used (after all he has earned it, didn't he?), I moved on to check his group page. I have known that he works on biology-electronics, but what I didn't know was that he was Carver Meads' student.

As somebody who has gone through graduate school to complete a Ph.D these things about being somebody's student and all, interests me a lot. Moreover, Carver Mead is somebody whom Iadmire a lot as a scientist. He is in that list that I have of people, who have greatly impacted me through their scientific contributions and innovators, which includes among others Robert Noyce, Richard Feynman, Don Knuth, CT Sah.

When I was doing my research to buy a digital SLR camera, I wanted to buy Sigma just because they had Foveon CMOS image sensors. Foveon is one of the many companies that Carver Mead had helped start or run through his scientific innovations. I didn't go for a Sigma for other reasons.

Now what does Carver Mead has to do with this post?

Actually it goes back to Rahul and I found in his Ph.D thesis, digging deep into which I found a person Sanjoy Mahajan, whose webpage has a lot of interesting stuff. Check the one image explanation of the war in Iraq there.

Most importantly check the physics teaching aid and related articles. Especially this one which talks about something that most Teaching Assistants in graduate schools might find very helpful.

My reason for the title of this post, is that how we start looking for something and finally due to this search and all those things, end up finally somewhere which we had no clue about in the first place.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Perhaps, it is someone else

Just finished watching the episode The Watchman of Malgudi Days. The title of this post is the last dialogue in this episode about a watchman who guards an old temple tank. The old watchman is reprimanded by the local judge after a spate of suicides. Later that night a girl wants to commit suicide after not getting a college scholarship which was her ticket to freedom from marriage and children. A prospective groom is coming to see her the next day. She says that she doesn't want to be a burden to her step mother, wants to become a doctor.

The watchman asks her to go home and live a happy life and bear kids for her husband. She rebuffs him as to what he knows about her misery or misery per se. He tells her of his losing almost his entire family, his wife and 7 daughters, save for the youngest daughter, to plague and says that she is too young to even understand misery.

He leaves her near the temple tank and goes to sleep. The next day morning, he notices only the letter near the steps. His friend tells him probably that girl left for home. He says that sometimes the body takes months to come up and feels that he couldn't save that particular girl from committing suicide.

Many years later a husband and wife and their three kids come to the temple and the old watchman, much older now, looks through his broken glass and identifies the woman as the same girl whom he had persuaded to go home that night. Even after knowing that it was the same watchman who had saved her, she fails to recognize him, prompting him to say "Perhaps, it is someone else".

A very poignant story that I have read/seen in recent times.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dolby Digital - India Link

These days I am reading a lot about AV Receivers, Speakers and various sound formats. The forum at Audioholics gives lot of valuable information. Apart from that I also checked the famed Dolby website and there I found an interesting link to India. Ray Dolby worked for two years as an UN advisor for the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO).

The demo file in Dolby website is amazing. After listening to that piece Amrapali said

Pyaas Kuchh Aur Bhii Bha.Dakaa Dii Jhalak Dikhalaake
Tujhako Paradaa Rukh\-E\-Roshan Se Hataanaa Hogaa

This is a Asha-Talat duet from Lala Rukh set to Kaifi Azmi's lyrics by Khaiyyam.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Spelling BEE

I am reminded of Ramesh Mahadevan's article where he lists the list of boring things that Desis do in US. I liked his comment on Spelling Bee.

Using spell check reminds me of another thing. While I was writing my Ph.D thesis, for which I used Latex, the day before I was to take the printouts to give my examination committee the copies, i wanted to do check the spelling and I, should positively admit stupidly and foolishly, said to my wife that I will read through the text in no time. Thanks to her counsel, i used the spell check of the emacs (one of the nice text editors on linux) and it took 1 hour to completely go through the entire document.

I wonder why somebody is not having a hand writing contest? I had tough time grading all the exam books of undergraduates, most of whose handwriting is pathetic to say the least.