Monday, December 22, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The "Enchantress of Florence" is a wonderful story based in 16th century India during the time of Akbar the Great, the most well known Mughal emperor. The visitor from Florence, Italy comes to the Mughal court with a secret to tell to the emperor and the story keeps the reader enthralled throughout. The contrasting lifestyles and philosophies of the western and eastern world is beautifully brought out by the author. Mr.Rushdie's in depth understanding of history, religion, culture and philosophy is obvious and his ability to mesh them all together to bring out a great book is outstanding. Every line contains so much information that I am astounded on how much research that must have gone into this book.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The device, meant to be a home appliance works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner's fridge or kitchen tap. It claims to be able to produce upto 12 litres of water per day.
The mill ceases to be effective if the relative humidity is below 30%. However the device has a built in computer that increases its output at dawn when humidity is highest. It is not clear how much energy the device will consume, but the web site claims that the device is "energy efficient''. Well, dont try to buy the device now - the company's web site says the online store will be open in 2009.
My engineering 'fundas' are not good enough to comment on whether this device will work effectively. Will some 'real enginners' stand up and comment on this device? I would like to know:
(a) Is this techncially feasible?
(b) If so, how come no one invented it till now?
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
No kidding!. It is true – or as a wag would say “the thick die quick!”.
It has been proved that Intelligence can predict mortality more strongly that body mass index, total cholesterol, blood pressure or blood glucose, and at a similar level to smoking.
(Here Intelligence denotes scores from cognitive ability tests like IQ tests)
But the reasons for this are still mysterious.
At present there are four explanations:
1. Higher Intelligence normally results in a better education which would result in professional occupations that would place the person in a healthier environment
2. People with higher intelligence might engage in more healthy behaviors (I doubt it !!)
3. Early life tribulations (including prenatal) might be the cause of both high IQ as well as mortality (I cant see the link!)
4. High mental test scores in youth might be an indicator of a well put-together system
I think 1 and 4 are likely.
There is another argument that simple reaction speed (the time taken to press a button when a stimulus appears) may be even a better predictor of mortality risk. Reaction-time tasks do not require complex reasoning, and are so unlikely to be improved by education.
So there is some benefit for the hours we have spent on those computer games after all!
But jokes apart, the question is being seriously researched by many including he author of this article in Nature – Mr. Ian Deary who is the Director of the University of Edinburg Center for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, which opened on Sept 1, 2008. Let us wish him good luck!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
But it took me a long time to find the pillar - the locals did not seem to know much about it, but finally after a couple of hours of searching, I found the dirt road leading to the pillar.
And who says religion is of no use? the pillar has been worshipped in the past and maybe that is why the pillar survived the 2100 years. There was an Asoka pillar nearby which was broken up by an ‘enterprising’ business man and used in his jute mill!
So Heliodorous survived while Asoka perished!!!!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
A very good book for the physics enthusiast – especially the unique approach the author brings to the table. The author takes a good look at various phenomenon in science fiction such as ‘Force fields’, ‘Invisibility’, ‘Teleportation’, ‘Time Travel’, ‘Perpetual motion machines’ and so on and classifies them into Classes of 1 to 3. Class 1 impossibilities are those that are impossible today but do not violate the known laws of physics and may be realized within this century, Class 2 are those that may be realized in millions (!) of years; and Class 3 (surprisingly very few) that violate the known laws of physics.
An easy to read book with many references to popular science fiction books as well as TV shows and movies, it enables the reader to put in perspective many of the science fiction concepts that we often hear about. Numerous scientists and authors have also been interviewed by the author and their feedback brought into the book. However I would have liked to see more of the author’s views on Ray Kurzweil predictions on spiritual machines and humanity overcoming death.
The author’s science projects at school will invoke an inferiority complex in most of us :) but does give an idea of what precocious children can achieve in the school system of the United States. In spite of the good research that went into the book, I noticed a minor error which will titillate Indian readers. In page 44 of the book, the Hindu God Shiva is mentioned as a goddess.
I would recommend this book to readers interested in Physics and Science fiction.
Monday, May 19, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
The book describes the journey of the author who is diagnosed with a genetic mutation that predisposes her to ovarian and breast cancer. As she fights personal battle, she also tries to explore the field of genetic testing, its implications as well as ethical considerations.
The jacket cover of the book claims it is “a much needed field guide to this unfamiliar and unsettling territory.” Well, it is not. It is more a rambling journey across a difficult terrain by a pioneer, discovering trails and gathering knowledge during the process. The lack of a science background and the inability to explain the fundamentals in a clear and structured way weakens the book. Explaining a complex science to the laymen is tough but has been mastered by authors like Carl Sagan, Brian Greene and Richard Dawkins. This book fails to reach that level.
However, it does capture well the agony of an individual who goes through a challenging situation created by new knowledge provided by science. This will definitely be something more of us go through in future as we will be forced to grapple with the information provided by genetic testing.
The book provides interesting information on Asheknazi Jews as well as organizations like Dor Yeshorim which collect genetic data to provide predictive information. In spite of her jewish heritage, the author covers the Nazi efforts on eugenics with equanimity. A number of genetic diseases and their current research status are covered in the book through many interviews with experts across the world. Nevertheless the lack of a clear structure, direction and focus wastes the author’s efforts to a large extent.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Finally - a historical fiction book on `Rani of Jhansi' - a name which most Indians would remember as a legendary figure in the India's struggle for Independence from British occupation. Some might even recollect the picture of a queen on horseback with a sword in hand, from their history text book. But hardly anybody would know more - maybe you can blame the traditional Indian apathy in highlighting their heroes.... So it was with some excitement that I picked up this book. My initial impression was good with the author's depiction of the Rani's childhood and the development of characters around the Rani. However, soon the book started becoming more like a documentary with very little excitement or story building. Set in the mid 1800's the Indian landscape provided considerable opportunity for the author to develop a fascinating story - but the author missed the chance. The book seemed well researched but becomes very boring by the mid way point. From then on it is a struggle to complete reading it.
I would recommend this book only to the serious students of Indian History.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
KPCB’s iFund™ is a $100M investment initiative that will fund market-changing ideas and products that extend the revolutionary new iPhone and iPod touch platform. The iFund™ is agnostic to size and stage of investment and will invest in companies building applications, services and components. Focus areas include location based services, social networking, mCommerce (including advertising and payments), communication, and entertainment. The iFund™ will back innovators pursuing transformative, high-impact ideas with an eye towards building independent durable companies atop the iPhone / iPod touch platform.
"A revolutionary new platform is a rare and prized opportunity for entrepreneurs, and that's exactly what Apple has created with iPhone and iPod touch," said John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "We think several significant new companies will emerge as this new platform evolves, and the iFund™ will empower them to realize their full potential."
"Developers are already bursting with ideas for the iPhone and iPod touch, and now they have the chance to turn those ideas into great companies with the help of world-class venture capitalists," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We can't wait to start working with Kleiner Perkins and the companies they fund through this new initiative."
The iFund™ will be managed by KPCB Partner Matt Murphy in collaboration with partners Chi-Hua Chien, John Doerr, Bill Joy, Randy Komisar, Ellen Pao and Ted Schlein. Apple will provide KPCB with market insight and support.
Includes SDK & Built-in Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync
CUPERTINO, California—March 6, 2008—Apple® today previewed its iPhone™ 2.0 software, scheduled for release this June, and announced the immediate availability of a beta release of the software to selected developers and enterprise customers. The iPhone 2.0 beta release includes both the iPhone Software Development Kit (SDK) as well as new enterprise features such as support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync to provide secure, over-the-air push email, contacts and calendars as well as remote wipe, and the addition of Cisco IPsec VPN for encrypted access to private corporate networks.
“We’re excited about creating a vibrant third party developer community with potentially thousands of native applications for iPhone and iPod touch,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPhone’s enterprise features combined with its revolutionary Multi-Touch user interface and advanced software architecture provide the best user experience and the most advanced software platform ever for a mobile device.”
The iPhone SDK provides developers with a rich set of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and tools to create innovative applications for iPhone and iPod® touch. Starting today, anyone can download the beta iPhone SDK for free and run the iPhone Simulator on their Mac®. Apple today also introduced its new iPhone Developer Program, giving developers everything they need to create native applications, and the new App Store, a breakthrough way for developers to wirelessly deliver their applications to iPhone and iPod touch users.
With the iPhone SDK, third party developers will be able to build native applications for the iPhone with a rich set of APIs, including programming interfaces for Core OS, Core Services, Media and Cocoa Touch technologies. The iPhone SDK will allow developers to create amazing applications that leverage the iPhone’s groundbreaking Multi-Touch™ user interface, animation technology, large storage, built-in three-axis accelerometer and geographical location technology to deliver truly innovative mobile applications.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Fri Feb 29, 2:03 AM ET
WASHINGTON - President Bush said Thursday the country is not recession-bound and, despite expressing concern about slowing economic growth, rejected for now any additional stimulus efforts. "We acted robustly," he said.