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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beauty: M=O/C

In 1933, Harvard mathematician George Birkhoff quantified beauty. The basic idea, he said, is that M = O/C, where M is the “aesthetic measure,” O is order, and C is complexity. By elaborating this principle into specific formulas, he decided that the square is the most pleasing polygon and the major triad the most pleasing diatonic chord. Of eight vases he considered, a Ming jar ranked highest, with M = 0.80, and in poetry the opening of Colerige’s “Kubla Khan” received an M rating of 0.83. The same principles can be applied to painting, sculpture, and architecture.

This kind of use of the formula leads at once to certain well known aesthetic maxims:

Unify as far as possible without loss of variety (that is, diminish the complexity C without decrease of the order O).
Achieve variety in so far as possible without loss of unity (that is, increase O without increase of C).
This ‘unity in variety’ must be found in the several parts as well as in the whole (that is, the order and complexity of the parts enter into the order and complexity of the whole).

“Now it seems to me that the postulation of genius in any mystical sense is unnecessary,” he concluded. “The analytic phase appears as an inevitable part of aesthetic experience. The more extensive this experience is, the more definite becomes the analysis.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Concordantly Proving still....Faster than light Neutrino

The latest confirmation brings them one step closer to shaking the very foundation of modern physics — Albert Einstein's 1905 Special theory of Relativity that states nothing can travel faster than light.

If the results announced two months ago shocked and stunned scientists all over the world, a sense of disbelief has set in after the team of scientists reconfirmed the results last Friday.

The experiment involved generating proton pulses and measuring the time taken for the neutrinos to travel 730 km from CERN, Europe's particle physics lab near Geneva to Gran Sasso National laboratory near L'Aquila, Italy. The 730 km distance between the two points has been measured with an error margin of just 20 cm.

A beam of light would take just 2.4 milliseconds to cover this distance. But in March 2011 scientists were shocked to discover that neutrinos travelled 60 nanoseconds (or 60 billionths of a second) faster than light.

This means that neutrinos were travelling at a speed of 299,798,454 metres per second, while the speed of light in a vacuum is slower at 299,792,458 metres per second.

What was the chemist's reaction when he discovered two new isotopes of Helium?

He He

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bullet Proof Material and ....

What material is a bullet-proof vest made of and what happens to a person wearing the vest when shot by a gun?

Using indigenous technology it has become possible to develop lightweight composite bullet-proof jackets and helmets that provide exceptional battlefield protection.

In bullet-proof jackets specific layers of biaxial woven kevlar fabric have been stitched in diamond pattern. The trauma pack is an integral part of the ballistic insert. The assembly is stitched in water/moisture-resistant black plastic to maintain its ballistic properties. This effectively stops even a 9 mm bullet.  The jacket can stop a 7.62 mm bullet if the jacket has a laminated ceramic plate inserted to its front and back.

The outer cover is made of washable 100 per cent cotton camouflage twill. Advantages of using kevlar fabric are: high tensile strength/modules, high toughness, light weight, excellent retention of strength at elevated temperatures, high thermal stability, self extinguishing, cut resistant and good chemical resistance.

Such is the effectiveness of a bullet-proof jacket used by soldiers that when test fired from a distance of 5m by 9mm and 7.62mm caliber ammunition, the jacket can stop both types of bullets effectively with nominal trauma effect. Salient features: Protection level is good even without a ceramic plate when used against 9mm ammunition and with ceramic plate (against7.62mm ammunition).

KEVLAR is chemically Poly-paraphenylene terephthalamide

Friday, November 4, 2011


Why do tears come when we are in grief?

Tear is a salty fluid, fully filled with protein (prolactin that converts to before human milk, water, mucus and oil, released from the lacrimal gland found in the upper, outer region of our eyes. Usually humans produce excessive tears in emotional contexts than other animals.

Of course, not all tears are of the emotional variety. In fact, three types of tears exist, all with different purposes. Basal tears are omnipresent in our eyes.

These constant tears are what keep our eyes from drying out completely. The human body produces an average of 5 to 10 ounces of basal tears each day. They drain through the nasal cavity, which is the reason so many of us develop runny noses after a good fest.

The second type is reflex tears, which serve to protect the human eye from harsh irritants such as smoke, onions or even a very strong, dusty wind.
To accomplish this feat, the sensory nerves in our cornea communicate this irritation to our brain stem, which in turn sends hormones to the glands in the eyelids. These hormones cause the eyes to produce tears, effectively ridding the irritating substance.

The third type of tears is emotional tears. It all starts in the cerebrum where sadness is registered. The endocrine system is then triggered to release hormones to the ocular area, which then causes tears to form. Emotional tears are common among people who see their mother die or who suffer personal losses.

Human emotions induce a physiological stress that does not exist in other mammals and requires tears to cope with it. The physiology of human eyes is somehow different from eyes of other mammals, such that it requires an excessive production of tears at circumstances other than physical or physiological stress.

Human emotional tears are a byproduct of the unique evolution of a substantial cranial reduction in subnasal prognathism, and increased encephalization. Hypothetically, these developments may have constrained and sensitized the human tear ducts and sinuses when certain emotions are high.

The phrase “having a good cry” suggests that crying can actually make you feel physically and emotionally better, which many people believe.

Some scientists agree with this theory, asserting that chemicals build up in the body during times of elevated stress. They also believe that emotional crying is the body's way of ridding itself of these toxins and waste products.

In fact, one study collected both reflex tears and emotional tears (after peeling an onion and watching a sad movie, respectively).

When scientists analyzed the content of the tears, they found each type was very different. Reflex tears are generally found to be about 98 per cent water, whereas several chemicals such as a protein called prolactin (precursor of breast milk), adrenocorticotropic hormones (indicator of high stress level) and an endorphin that reduces pain and works to improve mood are commonly present in emotional tears.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." - Max Lucado

Monday, August 15, 2011

Are there any differences in the atmosphere like temperature, wind speed etc. between Arctic and Antarctic regions?

The two regions, the Arctic and the Antarctica, are located around the north and the south poles of the earth, respectively. The atmosphere at both these places is very cold and they experience extreme solar exposure periods. Therefore, there are several similarities in the weather patterns. However, there are quite a few differences too.

The rotation at the (Antarctic) south pole is opposite to that at (Arctic) north pole. This is manifest in the nature of wind circulation and in the water whirlpools. Also, being in the two opposite hemispheres, there exists a complementarity in the seasonal changes.

The winter period at the Arctic happens to be the summer in the Antarctica and vice versa. On top of that, there is seasonal variation in the climatic conditions in both the regions.

The other main difference arises from the fact that the Arctic is an ocean with frozen ice cover. It is surrounded and partly contributed by the edges of land masses, while the Antarctica is an ice covered land mass (continent) surrounded by oceans. This leads to differences in the temperature patterns in the two regions.

The temperature in Arctic zone drops below -50 degree Celsius in the winter and summer temperature ranges between +10 and -10 degree C. Much of arctic zone is surrounded by relatively warmer ocean water with minimum temperature above -2 degree Celsius. In the Antarctica the interior regions do not benefit from the moderating influence of the ocean waters.

In fact, during the winter, the snow and ice covered Antarctica nearly doubles in size, rendering any influence of the surrounding ocean unreachable into the interiors of the continent. And the temperature is normally much lower compared to the Arctic region.

The lowest temperature can be as low as -90 degree C in the winter and the summer time sees an average temperature in the range of -5 to -35 degrees. Also due to such low temperatures, the atmosphere is very dry. Also in the Antarctica, the wind is very strong with the speed as high as 325km/h while in the arctic the wind is mild with speed in the range of about 20km/h.

In the Antarctic, about 98 per cent of the area is covered with snow and ice all throughout the year. Thus, the sunlight is almost totally gets reflected back rather than getting absorbed. Further, the atmosphere being so dry as to have the average humidity in the range of only 0.03 per cent, is devoid of water vapour and so the sunlight escapes completely instead of getting absorbed by the atmosphere too.

This also contributes to the low temperature in the region. Blizzards are a typical Antarctic phenomenon in which very little, if any, snow actually falls. Instead the loose top layer of the snow is picked up and blown along the surface by the wind. Such phenomena are not experienced in the Arctic zone.

Chennai Mathematical Institute, Chennai

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Known 80-20

According to the Pareto Principle, (remember it's a guide not a scientific certainty), in any organisation:
80 percent of results come from 20 percent of efforts
80 percent of activity will require 20 percent of resources
80 percent of usage is by 20 percent of users
80 percent of the difficulty in achieving something lies in 20 percent of the challenge
80 percent of revenue comes from 20 percent of customers
80 percent of problems come from 20 percent of causes
80 percent of profit comes from 20 percent of the product range
80 percent of complaints come from 20 percent of customer
80 percent of work absence is due to 20 percent of staff

Monday, April 18, 2011

So Long

After a long time I have found time to add some materials to the blog site. Students and alike can get benefited from these. They can write back to me for any clarification. Suggestions are also welcome.