Saturday, October 30, 2010


Time for a light post. I saw a website while surfing the net. This website shows pictures of glaciers shot in early 20th century and very recently. I am putting one of the pictures here. I think this picture says there is a huge effect of global warming on glaciers.

I saw the following picture from my personal experience. I am putting this picture here. This picture shows the image of the same place in Canada taken in 2009 and 2010. Difference in the amount of snow in both the image is clear.
In the upper picture, street is covered with snow in 2009 whereas no snow can be seen on the street at all in 2010. I would have jumped to the conclusion that its due to global warming but this is the half story. Story completes once I give you the complete data. Again look at the same image with more details on it.

Ha ha ha... interesting! right? Statements loose its importance and conclusions are incomplete if a little information is missing. I can not say anything about the situation of global warming. but here there is a piece of GLOBAL WARNING!! think carefully before we conclude something....

I do not know what is the current situation about GM....
God bless all of us.

Note: Last two above pictures shows the street on which my house is situated.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The solution: Binary numbers

So what is the way to convert a binary number, say, 11011 to its decimal equivalent? A basic simple question for anyone who has gone through high school mathematics. Since I am one of them let me solve it here.

1*16 + 1*8 + 0*4 + 1*2 + 1*1 = 27

In words, number 27 is the sum of 1, 2, 8, and 16. More importantly any decimal number can be seen as a sum of numbers that are powers of two. And the binary equivalent of the number decides which of the power of two numbers take part in the summation. Like in the above case it was 1, 2, 8 and 16. Basic binary number concept right?

Lets take a fresh look at the puzzle I shared at this link. And the solution would become obvious to you. So all numbers less than 128 (binary equivalent of 128 is 1111111) can be seen as summation of numbers 1,2,4,8,16,32 and 64.

Off-course I didn't come to the solution through this route. I picked 1 and 2 and then kept including all the numbers that I could not sum up by using the numbers I already had. So 3 I got from 1+2. Because I could not get 4 from 1 and 2, I included 4 and marched on. By the time I reached 8, I noticed the pattern and  tried 16 to verify. And then the above concept of binary numbers came to my mind. And so I was sure I had the answer.

Also I would like to share one interesting solution Rajesh gave. I will quote his response directly here. You can find his answer at this link in the comment section.

The answer is:
ONE each weight of 1,3,9,27 and 81 kg.
I want to weigh 2 as 3-1 and 4 kg as 9-(3+1).
I think this sequence can be extended up to 1000. If fact 1,3,9,27 and 81 can weigh up to 121 kgs.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Science in India and a few stories

The rich scientific and technical heritage, which our country possesses, is unknown to a major section of the people in our country. In this article, my endeavor is to put across few facts and achievements made by Indians in the field of science and technology. Let us start with the field of mathematics.

This dates way back to 1000 BC when Indian scientists first proposed what the number system is and how does it assist us in day-to-day life. In this respect, the Nalanda University (presently in Bihar and earlier known as state of Patliputra) did a commendable job in creating a high value learning atmosphere and was a unique institution of that era. Amongst the luminaries of that period was Apastamba (about 600 BC) who first proposed how to calculate the values of irrational numbers upto fifth decimal place so that the measurement of microscopic particles in those days could be made with appreciable accuracy. Then came the gift of “ZERO” (the number “0”) by Aryabhatta-I. He solved the mystery of “NOTHING” in mathematics. Actually, it is still a very interesting topic of research amongst mathematicians what this “0” is? His topics covered arithmetic, algebra, plane geometry and spherical trigonometry. He developed the whole concept of QUADRATIC equations, and continued fractions. Around 600 AD, Bhaskara (Saurashtra) played a crucial role in correct estimation of the number “” (called ‘pie’). His efforts lead to the expansion of trigonometric functions using polynomials and estimated the possible errors in these expansions. Around the same time, Brahmagupta stepped in with his brilliant postulates on the digit “0”. He gave reasons for all the possible operations, which were done using “0”, and still today they are not questioned. One of his quotes were,

“When zero is added to a number or subtracted from a number, the number remains unchanged; and a number multiplied by zero becomes zero”

By far, in the nineteenth century, India produced one greatest mind in the field of mathematical sciences, Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujan. In his short span of life (only 33 years, 1887-1920), he made some remarkable contributions in the field. His most significant contributions were:
1) Elliptic functions, continued functions and infinite series.
2) How to solve cubic equations, and his own method to solve quadratic equations.
3) Calculation of Euler’s constant upto 15th decimal places and his own investigations on Bernoulli’s number.
4) Proposition of Hypergeometric series, which is the basis of large problems encountered in the field of Science and engineering (especially Chemical and Electrical).
5) Foundation of “Indian Mathematical Society”.

There were a few more, genius of whose work, have not been quoted here like, Brahamdeva, Harish Chandra, Ramanujam, Yatirbhasava etc. etc.

The field of physical sciences is equally rich as their mathematics counterparts. It started again way back in 1000 BC and continued till the 15th century. However, all the evidences related to scientific developments taking place in India were destroyed during British colonization of India by East India Company. Moreover, India never saw an Industrial Revolution as it happened in the west. Therefore, in that respect we abysmally lagged far behind the west as far as our development on scientific and technical prowess was concerned during the 17th and 18th century. But, once the ruling power was taken over by the Queen (after 1857); there came some hope of revival on this front. Starting it all was, Meghnath Sircar (1833-1904), a lower middle class lad from the state of Bengal. Even though, his contributions did not lead to some cutting-edge research, he fought fiercely for establishment of Universities in India. Due to his sincere and pain-staking struggle, Calcutta University became the first University to be established on 24th January 1857 in modern India. It was essentially meant for exploiting the huge pool of talented young individuals of this country (as was thought by the Queen of the Britain). During its initial days, Calcutta University saw an unprecedented growth in terms of availability of foreign scientific literature, better experimental facilities and many more. In those days, this was only hub in the entire country to get access to the world class journals and articles (selected ones), which were easily available in the west. The presence of the facilities of this kind enthused the young generation to fulfill their desire to learn. Dr. Meghnath Sircar’s research mainly included application and understanding of the newly developed Maxwell’s equations at that time.

He was followed by great many researchers/scientists but most of them were from the state of Bengal and nearby. Most of them were classmates and showed tremendous camaraderie to take India to a commendably strong position in the field of Science and Technology. They were Meghnath Saha, Satyendra Nath Bose, Nikhilranjan Bose, J.C. Ghosh, Girijapathy Bhattacharya and many more like them. They came in contact with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during the freedom fighting movement who bolstered their confidence and encouraged them to create a better learning atmosphere. As all of you must have heard the name of Sarat Chandra Chatterjee (famous for his Devdas and other novels), also shared the same period at Calcutta University.

I will start with Meghnath Saha whose work was mainly focused on ionization of atoms at high temperature environment as it is found in stellar matter (sun, stars etc.). His work led to determination of temperature of different stellar objects in terms of all existing physical parameters. In 1919, the Premchand Raychand Scholarship took Saha to Europe for about two years. He spent five months in Imperial College, London, where he developed his theory further with the help of Professor A.Fowler. In November 1921 Saha returned to Calcutta as Khaira Professor of Physics, a new chair created from the endowment of Kumar Guruprasad Singh of Khaira. He left for Allahabad in 1923, to return in 1938 as Palit Professor of Physics at University of Calcutta. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927 at the age of thirty-four. Saha took keen interest in the establishment of Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS which is presently located at Jadavpur, Calcutta), and became its first full-time director in 1952. He also established what is now known as the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP) in 1948 and installed a 38-inch cyclotron or atom smasher, the first of its kind outside America and Europe. “Saha’s ionization formula” is something which one cannot escape while studying basic Nuclear physics.

Thereafter, it was the genius Satyendra Nath Bose. Satyendra Nath Bose was born on the first of January 1894 in Calcutta. His father Surendra Nath was employed in the Engineering Department of the East India Railway. Satyendra Nath was the eldest of his seven children; the rest were all daughters. Though Surendra Nath Bose lost his wife at an early age, without losing heart, he brought up his children well. It is said that, when Satyendra Nath was hardly three years old, a Bengali astrologer made this prediction: "This child will face many obstacles all through his life; nevertheless he will overcome them with his exceptional intelligence and attain great fame." The father, naturally, took a special interest in his son's progress. Though he had seven children he took care to see that nothing came in the way of the boy's education. At this young age, he never seemed to be eyeing for anything big but once he was trapped in the competitive environment of Calcutta University, he molded himself from an ordinary student to an extraordinary one. During his stay at the Presidency College, Calcutta he caught the eyes of all the Professors and teachers there. Once in paper of mathematics, he scored more than 100 (exactly 110) and the teacher was bound to award him the extra marks as he solved couple of problems (correctly!!!) in more than three ways. He joined Calcutta University in 1916 as lecturer and remained there till 1921 (in his first stint). After that, he joined Dacca University where he did something which created history. In the spring of 1924, he sent a six-paged letter to the great Sir Albert Einstein (then in Germany), in which discussed few issues related to “Planck’s law of radiation” and “Light Quantum Theory” which were themselves in an infant stage. Sir Einstein was so impressed with the content of the letter that he, himself translated it in German and got it published in the famous German Journal “Zeitschrift fur Physik”. Even though Satyendra Nath had only Master’s degree, the German government got ready to bear all the expenses for his trip. In Germany, he worked with Sir Albert Einstein and gave the scientific community “Bose-Einstein Statistics” which was absolutely a new way to perceive the concept of “Light”. They also gave a theory for a unique kind of condensation known as “Bose-Einstein” condensation. In fact, those particles, which follow Bose-Einstein Statistics, are known as Bosons.

(Bose first visited Paris in 1924. He stayed there for a year. He conducted research in the Madame Curie Laboratory, which had special facilities. Here he became acquainted with several physicists. The next year, he left Paris for Berlin to join Einstein and worked with him. There he came into close contact with noted scientists like Schroedinger and Heisenberg. He participated in all the meetings and discussions held there. While Bose was in Berlin, the post of a professor fell vacant in Dacca University. J. C. Ghosh and other friends persuaded him to apply for the post. Bose had not yet got his doctorate. It was, therefore, difficult for him to secure the professorship. A recommendation from Albert Einstein to select him would have made things easy for him. So, with great hesitation, Bose approached Einstein. Einstein was surprised. He said, “You are so proficient in your subject; is there a need for any other certificate or recommendation?” He wrote a letter to the authorities of Dacca University in which he said, “Can you find another scientist as proficient as Satyendra Nath? He is quite fit for the post” It had the desired effect. In 1926, Satyendranath Bose was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Physics).
… more to follow

Silicon: life beyond carbon

I visited Drumheller (Alberta, Canada) last month to see the fossil of dinosaurs at Royal Tyrell Museum. I am attaching some of the pictures. Most of the fossils were bones of different parts (of the dinosaurs), different species and different times. The bones that I saw were hard to believe that they are actually "bones". Mainly because we are used to see bones, which are white or yellowish or brownish at some extent. During that visit, I could not distinguish between an EGG and a ROCK kept side by side and I identified incorrectly (unbelievable ehh...?).
Believe me they (the bones) look like rocks.....hard solid rocks. My post starts now.

All of us know, life was not like this 200 millions years ago. What about the earth and life on earth before that? How was it? I do not know and no one is SURE about the answer. Basic elements that constitutes life are mainly Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen. (Of course many elements like nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous etc etc.. also are vital part of life on earth.. I think all of you will agree that the way these elements make bonds now, were different long back ago. Let us think of an alternative to this system of carbon-hydrogen based life.

I remember a line in Sriramcharitmanas by Tulsidaas, a well known and one of the most popular Hindu script, which reads... छिति जल पावक गगन समीरा, पंच रचित अति अधम शरीरा। it means our body is made up of SOIL, WATER, FIRE, SKY AND AIR. In simple words, it is said in Hindu mythology that our body is made up of soil. This is also interpreted as follows. after death our body is disposed and it goes into these above-said five components. Sometimes I wander whether it gives us some more information other than this. Is it possible to have a life with soil? There is no answer to this but there are hints from the mother nature to decode. Silicon and silicates are main constituent of soil and is in abundance in the nature on earth. Can we imagine a life system with silicon and its derivatives as the basic unit instead of carbon and its derivatives as we see it in present.

Keeping all these questions in mind I started searching what our scientific knowledge says about this. While searching, I saw a literature by Prof. E. REYNOLDS published in NATURE in year 1893. That paper is about looking at silicon analogues of carbon compound. Periodic table is of help for this kind of comparison. I am writing some of the matter from that paper because I think it is important. "..Carbon, whether combined with hydrogen, oxygen or nitrogen or with all three, is the great element of organic nature, while silicon, in union with oxygen and various metals, not only forms about one-third of the solid crust of the earth, but is unquestionably the most important element of inorganic nature....." he further writes.. "....The chief functions of carbon are those which are performed at comparatively low temperatures;hence carbon is essentially the element of the present epoch. on the other hand, the activities of silicon are most marked at very high temperatures;hence it is the element whose chief work in nature was performed in the distant past, when the temperature of this earth was far beyond that at which the carbon compounds of organic life could exist......."

Silicon's ability to make stable bonds with elements like nitrogen, hydrogen and oxygen indicates the possibility of a silicon based life possibly in other atmosphere other than oxygen (as it is now). Other possible atmosphere could be SULFUR. I suggest sulfur because it shows properties similar to oxygen due to their presence in the same group (group 16). Also sulfur is related to silicon in period third in the same way as oxygen is related to carbon in the second period. Apart from this silicon is capable of making long chains, multiple bonds and good bond strength with oxygen. Moreover, silicon also has an edge over carbon because of its solubility in aluminum. as it is said "silicon dissolves freely in aluminum". In a way Aluminum resembles nitrogen in directly forming bond with silicon at higher temperatures (here the comparison is between Si-Al and C-N). Si-Al dissolution and ability to stay together with ease and stability can be understood in terms of there coexistence in the crust of earth which has been named with them as SIAL (refer to the other part of crust called "Sima", consisting of silicates and magnesium).

Before saying final words for this post, I would like to make two points about the importance of silicon (and its derivatives) in our life. First, a complex derivative of silicon made up of Silicon, oxygen, hydrogen and carbon is used in many medical application including cosmetic implants. This material is called "polymerized siloxene" or more commonly known as "silicone". This material shows know side effects in our body if implanted in our body. Secondly, recent research shows the importance of SILICON in our nutrition for strong and healthy bones (Journal of Nutrition and health aging, Vol 11, page 99 (2007)).

Finally, Its time to think on the possibility of a life with silicon, aluminum and oxygen as basic building blocks instead of carbon, nitrogen and hydrogen. Life in terms of this silicon and group can be thought to be present in past on earth or may be the world outside our reach.  Science gave the answer about our evolution, courtesy Charles Darwin. But it reminds me of a statement by George Bernard Shaw.
Science never solves a problem without creating ten more.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Raman Effect - Nobel Prize in 1930

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1930 was awarded to Sir Venkata Raman. The citation read "for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him". Here is a link where you can find the presentation speech delivered by Professor H. Pleijel, Chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, on December 10, 1930 before felicitating Sir Raman.

Also, a brief history around Sir Raman's discovery clarifies many questions and doubts. So, here is an article which briefly describes the scientific research activities which was going on around that period, across the globe and corresponding events that could probably have lead to what we call "Raman Effect".

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What's wrong with Indian Science?

A very valid question - answer to which is hard to fathom or get from someone as easily and with clarity that one would like to. We all agree to the general mote learning methodology that the very strict examination system encourages as being one of the culprits. I just read an interview of Richard Jefferson in which he comments on Indian science. I share here a slice of that interview.
And what of Indian science in particular? The biggest problem, he says surprisingly, “is its absolutism, its dogmatism, its tribalism and its inability to engage in the truly empowering part of science: to be wrong. Science does not proceed by proving things right. Science proceeds by allowing things to be proved wrong.”

This is a rare candid view and I ask Jefferson to explain what he means. “Very little of the Indian science I wrestled with over the last two decades would allow itself to be wrong, and would more rarely celebrate it! It’s about dogmatism, turf wars, guild membership and hierarchies. Much of the early work in rice transgenesis was by labs that insisted they were right. And of course that pretty much guaranteed that they wouldn’t be,” he says.
 That is a problem that exists and I have to agree to it completely. Maybe it has something to do with our upbringing as a child, as well as, as a student. We are always advised to play safe and were sure to  be punished for any mistake we committed. During an exam or during a discussion with the teachers you dare not make a mistake. An atmosphere that I completely loathed all my student life. I hope with more appreciation for mistakes the new generation do not have to undergo the major pains of my student life.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Karl Popper and the Black Swan

I was reading the novel 'The Black Swan' by Nassim Nicholas Taleb during the winter of '08-'09. Since the internet has become just a click away, as a habit I read reviews and make general google research on the book and the author that I am reading. It was during one of these research readings that I came across Karl Popper - who is generally regarded as one of greatest philosophers of science. Being a student of science for most of my life it was surprising, and ignorant of me, to not have heard of the man and his contributions. Nevertheless, I tried to make amends and read a sufficient amount of material on the man. To write a post on a personality, let alone a philosopher is a herculean task and beyond the scope of the post. More importantly I cannot safely say I have read enough of his work to really build an article on the subject. Instead what I will do is introduce Karl Popper, if you are not already introduced to him, with slices of material I read with regard to Black Swan, Nicholas Taleb and Karl Popper.

Writing for the New York Times, Taleb starts his article/book with this paragraph.
Before the discovery of Australia, people in the old world were convinced that all swans were white, an unassailable belief as it seemed completely confirmed by empirical evidence. The sighting of the first black swan might have been an interesting surprise for a few ornithologists (and others extremely concerned with the coloring of birds), but that is not where the significance of the story lies. It illustrates a severe limitation to our learning from observations or experience and the fragility of our knowledge. One single observation can invalidate a general statement derived from millennia of confirmatory sightings of millions of white swans. All you need is one single (and, I am told, quite ugly) black bird. 
He goes on to elaborate on the subject and give a three characteristic of a Black Swan event and more. Also, the following set of paragraphs would allow you to see the link between Taleb and Popper.

Every genuine scientific theory then, in Karl Popper's view, is prohibitive, in the sense that it forbids, by implication, particular events or occurrences. As such it can be tested and falsified, but never logically verified. Thus Popper stresses that it should not be inferred from the fact that a theory has withstood the most rigorous testing, for however long a period of time, that it has been verified; rather we should recognize that such a theory has received a high measure of corroboration. and may be provisionally retained as the best available theory until it is finally falsified (if indeed it is ever falsified), and/or is superseded by a better theory.

Popper has always drawn a clear distinction between the logic of falsifiability and its applied methodology. The logic of his theory is utterly simple: if a single ferrous metal is unaffected by a magnetic field it cannot be the case that all ferrous metals are affected by magnetic fields. Logically speaking, a scientific law is conclusively falsifiable although it is not conclusively verifiable. Methodologically, however, the situation is much more complex: no observation is free from the possibility of error—consequently we may question whether our experimental result was what it appeared to be.

Thus, while advocating falsifiability as the criterion of demarcation for science, Popper explicitly allows for the fact that in practice a single conflicting or counter-instance is never sufficient methodologically to falsify a theory, and that scientific theories are often retained even though much of the available evidence conflicts with them, or is anomalous with respect to them. Scientific theories may, and do, arise genetically in many different ways, and the manner in which a particular scientist comes to formulate a particular theory may be of biographical interest, but it is of no consequence as far as the philosophy of science is concerned. Popper stresses in particular that there is no unique way, no single method such as induction, which functions as the route to scientific theory, a view which Einstein personally endorsed with his affirmation that ‘There is no logical path leading to [the highly universal laws of science]. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love of the objects of experience’. Science, in Popper's view, starts with problems rather than with observations—it is, indeed, precisely in the context of grappling with a problem that the scientist makes observations in the first instance: his observations are selectively designed to test the extent to which a given theory functions as a satisfactory solution to a given problem.
My personal favorite is this paragraph.
In the view of many social scientists, the more probable a theory is, the better it is, and if we have to choose between two theories which are equally strong in terms of their explanatory power, and differ only in that one is probable and the other is improbable, then we should choose the former. Popper rejects this. Science, or to be precise, the working scientist, is interested, in Popper's view, in theories with a high informative content, because such theories possess a high predictive power and are consequently highly testable. But if this is true, Popper argues, then, paradoxical as it may sound, the more improbable a theory is the better it is scientifically, because the probability and informative content of a theory vary inversely—the higher the informative content of a theory the lower will be its probability, for the more information a statement contains, the greater will be the number of ways in which it may turn out to be false. Thus the statements which are of special interest to the scientist are those with a high informative content and (consequentially) a low probability, which nevertheless come close to the truth. Informative content, which is in inverse proportion to probability, is in direct proportion to testability. Consequently the severity of the test to which a theory can be subjected, and by means of which it is falsified or corroborated, is all-important. 
Even after reading some of the articles on Popper, I am yet to completely understand and make my personal comment on his work. Nevertheless, I think he makes sense to me almost always and that encourages me to read more of him. Need to get hold of some of his written works. Suggestion in that regard would be most helpful.

To conclude here is what William W. Bartley has to say about Popper:
Sir Karl Popper is not really a participant in the contemporary professional philosophical dialogue; quite the contrary, he has ruined that dialogue. If he is on the right track, then the majority of professional philosophers the world over has wasted or is wasting their intellectual careers. The gulf between Popper's way of doing philosophy and that of the bulk of professional philosophers is as great as that between astronomy and astrology.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

One puzzle that starts a story

One fine day I happened to mistakenly enter my father's boss's office room. Once I introduced myself and apologized he welcomed me but after knowing I had just written my standard X board exams, he started to bombard me  with a series of puzzles and mathematical questions that afternoon as if it was punishment I had to endure for being in the wrong room at the wrong time. Also I sensed he was using me as a guinea pig  to test the  current schooling standards. I managed to tackle, all his question, but for one. I eventually cracked it that evening and the complete process made me move a notch up in my understanding of mathematics and made me realize how a puzzle can be one of the best teaching methodology. Since then I have asked many this puzzle and have in most cases got the answer in quick time. Much quicker than I managed.

What I will do now is state the puzzle here without further delay and wait for some weeks to get answers from whoever cares to read this post. Most likely some of you have come across it and and I am expecting some participation. In the process of solving the question, each of you, I am sure, will understand the wider implication of this puzzle and would agree to me when I say it could be a good starting point when one introduces a particular of branch of mathematics to students.

The question:
I have been asked to weight all weights up to 100. That is I might be asked to weight, lets say 49 kg or any integer weight under 100 (including). What would be the least number of weights I should have and which ones.
It's possible I was not able to frame the question in best possible way. Let me know if you have any queries.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Effects of Internet on the brain

Recently went through an interesting article on the effects of internet and multi-tasking on our brain. Just take a look.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Human affected by Computer virus!

Its really hard to believe that human beings or for that matter, any living being could be affected by computer virus! Though, this appears to be an exciting component of a Science fiction, here is an article I found with "discovery news" claiming the infection of a senior research fellow by a "computer virus"!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Science in India: current scinario

INDIA: the land of Raman, Bose and Ramanujan. India contributed many things to the scientific world in past. Right now, with increasing number of research articles per year from India, India still needs to show its potential in doing a leading edge research in the field of science and technology. I started thinking on this issue of "science in India" after I read an article by R.A. Mashelkar that appeared in Science magazine in last week of April. That paper analyzes the situation science in India and suggets some points that can be considered for making the situation better. Opening new IISc's has done little to improve the situation.

Picture: Moon's surface taken from lunar orbit by Chandrayaan-1. Chandrayaan I found ice near Moon's north pole. (courtesy THE HINDU website)

detail at:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Phonon Laser: Light from Phonons

Celebrating 50 years of LASER

A phonon laser has been demonstrated by optical pumping of a trapped ion. The optomechanical interaction associated with the scattering force gives rise to a Van der Pol dynamical system in which amplification is provided by stimulated emission of centre-of-mass phonons. Steady-state operation occurs by saturation of the mechanical amplification, and excellent agreement is obtained between theory and observed mechanical motion versus pumping. The ability to locate microscopic sources of vibrational coherence that are optically driven and cooled (and addressable using wavelength) might provide a new tool in the field of trapped-ion physics. The fact that phonon laser action is sustained by very low power levels suggests that the ion might be used as an ultra-sensitive force probe. Moreover, amplification of the centre-of-mass motion36 is potentially useful in its own right. The single ion, as a class of phonon laser, represents a kind of zerodimensional limit in which there is no vibronic output coupling. In a Fabry Perot laser analogy, the mirrors would be 100% reflecting and threshold would be determined by internal cavity losses. At the same time, however, this does not preclude other types of useful coupling to the ion's vibrational motion (such as electromagnetic). For example, successful injection locking of the ion phonon laser, in analogy to slaving of a laser oscillator by an external master oscillator, has been achieved recently and will be reported elsewhere.

Picture: A Continuous Wave argon ion laser (514.5 nm) in use.

More details at:

Paul Dirac: Interviewed by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Wigner (Niels Bohr Library and Archives)

Paul Dirac, another legend who was deeply involved in the development of Quantum Mechanics in the decade of 1920-1930's. He was closely associated with other luminaries and visionaries of that era and was highly admired for his simple, deep-rooted physical interpretations without delving too much into Mathematics. His main contributions were fixing the "FREE PARTICLE" problem in Quantum Mechanics by employing Dirac-Delta functions, extending the probabilistic interpretation given by Max Born to many other branches of Physics and Science and formulating the Quantum Mechanics for the relativistic cases.

Here is an transcripted interview of Paul Dirac that I have found at the American Institute of Physics Web-page on Neils Bohr's library and Archives. The interview was taken by great Philosophers (Thomas J. Kuhn and Paul Wigner) who were contemporary to Paul Dirac but were not technically (or mathematically) involved in the development of Quantum Mechanics. Since, they were good friends and great admirers of each other, the straightforward and direct questions are really interesting and reply from Dirac are quite impressive!

Erwin Schroedinger: Indian influence on the development of Quantum Mechanics

Erwin Schrodinger was one of the main architects of quantum mechanics. Schrodinger developed the wave mechanics. It became the second formulation of quantum mechanics. The first formulation, called matrix mechanics, was developed by Werner Heisenberg. Schrodinger’s wave equation (or Schrodinger equation) is one of the most basic equations of quantum mechanics and used to describe all micro- and nano-level phenomenon. Schrodinger was awarded the Nobel Prize for his exemplary work in the year 1933.

As he mentions in his interviews and writings, he was highly inspired by ancient Vedic Philosophy of Karma. Here is an article I found on web which elucidates this aspect of Erwin Schrodinger's life and work.

Theodore Maiman: His invention of Laser

The rapid and unprecedented development of Information Technology, Medical Science and many other fields have some direct or indirect connection with LASERs. Though, this is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, it has been widely accepted as an independent, "stand-alone' word describing the gamut of its variety of applications. It was in the year 1917 when Albert Einstein first conceptualized and put forth the theory of stimulated emission and hence, Lasers but it took more than 4 decades after that to experimentally realize the 1st working of Laser. The first Laser which worked successfully was the "Ruby" Laser and the inventor was Theodore Maiman at the Hughes lab, USA. Maiman was quite an unknown and ordinary figure before the invention of laser and appeared to be of quite small in stature in comparison to some highly-recognized figures employed by BELL LABS. But against all odds and lack of resources, the genius in Maiman gave us the first Laser. Though, this invention of Maiman has been recognized to be one of the greatest inventions in the previous century, he was not awarded Nobel Prize (nominated twice).

Here is a video where Theodore Maiman describes his experience and shows the viewer how he made the first Laser to work. It is highly inspiring to hear from a genius and his pursuit of gaining excellence.

LaserFest - Charles Townes

When I first learned about stimulated emission formulated by Einstein, it was part of introduction to LASER in my post graduation days. If you think I was introduced to it late and that I should have been introduced to it much before in my graduate days or during my high school you are right - I was introduced to it much earlier but never really grasped it and neither do I have any vivid memory of learning it before my post graduation days. Now, because I understood it only with respect to LASER I kind of had the idea that amplification must have been on the mind of Einstein after he formulated it. Also I had the idea that after the stimulated emission was formulated, the scientific world saw clearly that LASER were in principle possible. The only hurdle was to have the technology to do it. Looks like that was not the story!!!

I came across this video wherein Charles Townes, who is credited with developing the MASER - a predecessor to LASER, talks about the time when the idea of MASER came to his mind. What really interested me though was when he mentions that Einstein didn't think much about the amplification and its application!!

IF you are used to watching videos on youtube then you will find the video quality pretty ordinary. Nevertheless, the man in the video is not. Because his work led to the development of LASER which now plays such a vital role in our high tech world.

Ten Simple Rules

Ten Simple Rules (TSR) is a series from the editorial of PLoS Computational Biology (a peer-reviewed open-access journal) that includes compact and very useful guidelines for:

- getting published
- getting grants
- successful collaborations
- making good oral presentations
- reviewers
- selecting a postdoctoral position
- good poster presentations
- doing your best research, according to hamming
- graduate students
- aspiring scientists in a low-income country
- organizing a scientific meeting
- combining teaching and research
- choosing between industry and academia
- chairing a scientific session
- organizing a virtual conference - anywhere