Tuesday, March 31, 2009

divide by zero

Sixth or seventh standard, back in the days of school. Cannot believe that such memories as these are still floating around in my head. Anyway, it was a free period, one of those times when the teacher decides to take a break and ease the tension in the classroom for a while. Students were asked to come forward with jokes or sing a song, basically get in the spotlight and entertain the class.
This girl goes up to the front of the class, and decides to riddle the class. She says "this is a riddle" which would be pretty explanatory in any other case, but was a necessary thing to point out in this case. So, you have a magic lamp, and when you rub it, a genie pops out and gives you three wishes. What will your three wishes be?
There was a clever answer, we knew, but we couldn't tell what it was exactly. We all passed eventually, just not wanting to think anymore, and bored of the "entertainment" already. The girl went all genius on our asses, and said that the third wish would be for three more wishes. I felt the whole thing was pure bullshit, and three wishes were more than what anyone deserved.


So a few days ago, I am sitting in a boat on the lake with some friends, they are having a chat, and I am staring at the starred filled skies, drifting in and out of the conversation. I see a shooting star go by, and don't mention anything. I don't think of wishing for anything for some time. Within a minute or so, I see another one. Inspiration strikes me, and every time I spot one, I wish for another one.

Dividing by zero = multiplying by infinity

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The best space photographs

Blogger has a scheduled outage in some time. Was working on a lot of space related articles this month, so came across a few space photos. Many of these images are spectacular, particularly the ones that involve nubulae, supernovas and close-ups of the sun. In fact, images like these make up most of space.com's top ten space images. The most recognisable of these is the Pillars of Creation image, which all of us have seen. Another common and breathtaking image is god's eye, or the helix nebula. My criteria was slightly different - instead of going for how pretty the photo looks, I went for something that showed the magic of the cosmos, and the science behind it more. The images had to move you in the guts more than the eyes... some of the images I came across were really strange. These included the rings of Uranus, hexagonal cloud formations on Saturn, and Auroras on Jupiter. Images that were historic or iconic because of the time they were taken in, or the subject, were also ignored. This meant the blue marble image, various earthrises from the moon, and the deep space photos of Hubble were ignored. Which left me with:

The honourable mention - A protoplanetary disk, this image shows a ring of matter around a newborn star. The ring of matter will eventually condense to form a stellar system.

5. Runaway stars. Stars don't need to stay in one place, in the same location to the galactic centre. They can move throw space, accelerating in a direction that is not consistent with nearby objects. Sometimes, they pass through clouds of matter creating trails like comets.

4. The 5000 light year long jet
Take a huge black hole (its actually pretty small, just incredibly massive) - put it into the center of a galaxy, and what you get is a stream of electron like particles that jet out perpendicular to the accretion disc. This jet here, is 5000 light years long.

3. Sunset from Mars
This photo reminded me of the desolation on Tatooine. In about sixty odd years, the Russians and the Chinese plan to land up here with men, and the other's are likely to be close behind, if not at par. This is going to be one of mankind's greatest adventures, and in the near future at that.

2. Pale Blue Dot
The Voyager 1 is the farthest man made object from the Earth. As it escaped the solar system, Carl Sagan (he gave you Contact), asked NASA to turn the probe around and photograph Earth. The Earth was so small, that it was smaller than the smallest imaging element on Voyager's photograph, registering only half a dot on the image. This, is our planet from 3.7 billion miles away, basking in the light rays of the sun. Also, I think, this is the largest rainbow ever photographed. Not exactly a rainbow, there is no rain out there... but decide for yourself.

1. Amateur weather balloon space photo
This is a recent development, showing that a small group of amateurs can take photos of space. The entire process is detailed here. Up for the Google Lunar X prize anyone?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Human nature

1. His eyes were watering from looking at the computer screen. The palms of both his hands were aching, but he was used to the sensation. His system was running a game for over four hours. The game involved creating a city, letting the player feel like god as he watched over his subjects. Resources had to be harvested, goods had to be controlled, the streets patrolled, and even the occasional enemy raid to be taken care of. This particular game had reached a point of equilibrium. Everything was perfect, the civilisation was set to blossom smoothly.
He brought up the console. Entered a few cheat codes, that would artificially force a factor into the game. A fire broke out. The health conditions deteriorated. Famine, and disease were commonplace. Riots broke out. The civilisation degenerated. He finally felt it was worth playing.

2. The rules were very specific. No glue. No bending. A standard, fresh pack of cards. 3 independent cameras. Always recording. No external help from anyone, or any machine in the placement.
Because he was a showman, he decided to go ahead and make it in the middle of the mall. Card castles used the oldest trick in the book. A bridge, or an arch made of stone often bewildered people. Everyone believed that placing the cards vertically was the difficult bit. Tuning into the slightest disturbances in the air. The vertical cards were not a problem at all. The horizontal cards, however, were another matter. They had to transfer the weight of the layers above them to the layers below them. The horizontal cards were where all the structural magic was hidden.
A little over ten days, and it was finished. Twenty seven point four eight meters high, a new record. The worlds biggest card castle. It was a work of art, however transient. He built it, he might as well take it down. That was the logic. He used a leaf blower.

3. The best fertilisers were used. The sprinklers came on every morning, at sunrise. The spray of water was controlled, short bursts every two hours. The soil was loose, damp and warm. Plenty or earthworms crawled about. These were not costly flowers. They were not put into bouquets or displayed as specialities. They were regular, every day flowers... marigolds, chrysanthemums and jasmins (Jenda, Guldaudi and Mogra). Colourful and fragrant as flowers were.
The lots would cycle. Every morning, one batch would be cut, bundled, and transported before the early morning prayers. The gardner would be careful, to lovingly make them perfect. They had to be, any imperfection was bad luck. They were bred for a single purpose, to be offered to God, in prayer.

4. They truly, really, loved each other.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I picked up John Locke from Wikipedia, and took him over to photofunia

You can also divide by zero