arnabocean

— by Arnab Gupta

Trying to be too clean

October 18, 2011

Being conscious of our hygiene is a good thing, of course. But is it possible to overdo our hygiene routines for our own good? Have you noticed how more and more people use sanitizing hand wipes, or antibacterial hand soaps? Their function, of course, is to ‘wipe out’ all the bacteria around you—but is that always a good thing?

I’ve always had my theories, but now there’s actual evidence—it’s probably not a very good thing on the long run.

The Mystery of the Abydos flying machines in ancient Egypt

October 10, 2011

I had not heard of the Abydos carvings before. But then we went to Egypt, and it turned out that my Dad had requested that Abydos be put on the schedule—even though it wasn’t a ‘usual’ tourist destination. (I still don’t know whether he’d come across these specific carvings as a reason to go there. Baba, will you leave a comment if you read this? :))

But the carvings were quite amazing. There they were—a few of them adjacent to each other, each apparently depicting something we’d recognize as a modern (or future) means of air travel. (I have my own photos, but it’s easier to link to photos online.)

☞ Steve Jobs is dead.

October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs passed away today. 😔

I’ve only seen him as a public figure, of course, but I was, and will remain, a fan. I’ve admired him greatly, not just for the company he built, but for how he conducted his business—well, for the things he said and did publicly, at any rate.

A straightforward, honest man who played extremely hard when running his company, but who made sure he did the right thing all the same.

For an inkling to his way of thinking, see his Stanford commencement speech, and the interview he gave at the D8 conference.

Rest in Peace, Sir. Your legacy will live on, and will hopefully inspire the next generation of visionaries.

Cross-posted at GLobeTrekker

‘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.