— by Arnab Gupta

‘Ph.D. Candidate’?

September 25, 2011

So, I’ve defended my Ph.D. Preliminary Exam (phew), and what lies ahead are the defense of my thesis proposal, and the final Ph.D. Dissertation Defense, of course.

Does this mean I can now call myself a ‘Ph.D. Candidate’, as opposed to a Ph.D. student? Is there a difference in connotation? I’m not really sure about the protocols involved.

If you happen to know the norms (or lack of them), leave a comment, will you?

☞ When Galaxies collide…

August 11, 2011

A composite image created by combining data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the Hubble Space telescope, this is a stunning image of two galaxies colliding. Both of them are spiral galaxies, and they are on the verge of a collision—with their disks oriented at 90 degrees to each other!

Well, “on the verge” is in galactic time scales, which means they’ll collide in a few million years. And considering that this is 450 million lightyears away from us, the event has already occurred—we just haven’t seen it yet.

A detailed description of the image is present as a caption with the photo itself. Go see it!

The Robot that flies like a bird

August 02, 2011

We’ve always wanted to fly, haven’t we? We’ve watched the birds in the sky, and thought, “Wish we could fly—just like them!” We’ve succeeded; we’ve built out flying machines; we’ve flown in the air.

But not like a bird.

The way a bird flies is quite complex, and difficult to implement in human flight. We’ve devised alternate methods—jet engines and rigid wings. But finally, technology and mathematics have caught up, and we have a robot that flies just like a bird—by flapping its wings!

It’s all in the Statistics!

August 01, 2011

As is well known, Earth plays host to numerous meteors, some of which are big enough to reach the Earth’s surface as meteorites. What scares us, the human species as a whole, of course, are the ones large enough to cause significant damage—especially the ones that can cause mass extinctions.

Are the rates at which meteorites arrive at Earth cyclic? Can we predict when the next mass extinction (meaning almost certainly the end of the human race as we know it) will be upon us? It’s all in the statistics!

Using Markdown by John Gruber

August 01, 2011

I’ve recently discovered Markdown by John Gruber, and it’s a nifty (and absolutely awesome) writing tool. If you prefer (like I do) doing the bulk of your writing in a text editor—rather than a word processor—Markdown is quite incredible.

And if you do all your writing in a word processor, try this out, seriously. Write everything up in a text file, without bothering about fonts or styles or page margins, and then import the document into your favorite word processor for styling. Personally, it’s less distracting, and more productive.

Just so you know—this post is written in Markdown, and then uploaded as HTML.