Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wired Differently: Quizbot # 7

Quizbot is a weekly quiz initiated by yours truly in an attempt to reach far out in everyone's quest for Curiosity. Besides, Quizzing is one of my hobbies and thanks to SEQC, now one of my passions.

I got a total of 6 responses for the last set of Quizbot. As usual, Please post your answers in the comments section below. Here goes # 7:

Set # 7

1. Pictured below is a pan view of a French city. The city lends its name to a famous motor sports event, started 88 years ago. The city hosts the same event, an endurance event. Give me the name of the city.

2. Which famous, mouth-watering Indian eatable is known by the name of 'Zlebia' in some parts of Africa?

3. Take a long, not-too wide strip of paper, twist one end by 180 degrees, and then stick the two ends of paper with adhesive. What do you end up with?

4. An article criticizing Jawaharlal Nehru 12 years before India became independent was published in a journal, written by someone who went with a pen name that was the name of the person who was the principal advisor of Chandragupta Maurya. Give me the real name of the author of this article. A younger picture of him is shown below!

5. The sitter of this set, Recently, which country, with its capital being Juba, became the newest member of the UN?

Quizbot # 6 Answers and Scores:

1. This question remained uncracked! I know it was a bit vague, but the answer has NOTHING do with Harry Potter! The answer is Wallflower, the word features in Emma Watson's next film! (0/6 got it correct)
2. The answer is R&B (Rhythm and Blues) (5/6 got it correct)
3. The answer is as simple as E = mc2. The two people have written books on the equation, and the hidden out text in the other two pictures, is the famous equation! (3/6 got it correct)
4. Its Sigmund Freud. (3/6 got it correct)
5. The sitter, is of course, Mark Zuckerberg! (1/6 got it correct)

And now for the Scores:

1. Palash - 2
2. Sachin - 3
3. Somewhere over the rainbow.... - 3
4. Harsh Joshi - 0
5. Raghav - 3
6. Anonymous - 0

Link to the previous set: Quizbot Set # 6

Later! With more Quizzing!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chemistry for Human Welfare - Promises and Concerns

"2011 was officially designated the "International Year of Chemistry" by the United Nations to commemorate the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to Mankind. I thought i would present my 1 Minute Take on the topic "Chemistry for Human Welfare."

"It is impossible to deny that Chemistry has played a major part in determining the nature of the modern world." - Linus Pauling, Double Nobel Laureate.

Chemistry is the study of Matter itself. The strides taken by Humans in the two millennia have a close connection with every science, Chemistry included.

Before coming to the pros and cons of Chemistry and its usefulness for Modern Humanity, I would like to first talk on the evolution of Chemistry throughout the ages. The first Human contact with Chemistry came by accident. When man struck two stones together, it produced mysterious sparks. These sparks could be transferred to wood to create a wondrous flame. The earliest chemical reaction was Fire - a mystical force to the prehistoric man.

The second thing that inspired man to inquire about the nature of matter was nature itself. How can Water be both a gas and a liquid? How do different flowers have different colours? Why do things give off a smell?

The stage for modern chemistry was set, however, surprisingly, by Alchemy. The search for the "Elixir" of life - The Philosopher's Stone involved experiments and maintaining records - a central part of Chemistry today!

After this, it was a matter of centuries before chemical concepts were explained, the Atomic theory was proven and the known elements were established, all by scientific method. It was then that a vast world of practical applications of chemistry was envisioned. New fibres, medicines, the X-Ray Machine, new methods for the mining industry, improved fertilizers for the agro industry, Electricity, computers and Nuclear Power.

Whatever are the promises from Chemistry, it is VERY evident that the list of benefits from the field of Chemistry are growing exponentially everyday. In his famous 1960 lecture, "There's Plenty of Room At the Bottom", Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman visioned a future of Atomic machines and Nanotechnology. His visions have today transpired into many practical applications, mostly benefiting the medicine industry. There are N number of fields where chemistry is being used. Some of them are: Medicine, Biology, Rocketry, Ballooning, in the Kitchen, Geology, Astrophysics, Computer Science, Nuclear Power, Nanotechnology, Agriculture, Manufacturing Industry, Television and Media and much much more.

The Periodic Table, labelled as "The Single Most beautiful Chart in the History of Humanity" helps as a starting point for all of chemistry. Having seen the promises, the very fact that every good thing has a bad side to it gives rise to the question, "What are the Concerns?" In fact, there ARE concerns.

The biggest concern is a person using chemistry for negative means. Basically, the amount of energy is constituent atoms, which can help build things, help destroy things faster. I will outline 3 principal concerns below:

The first one is the obvious one - Nuclear Power. There are two basic nuclear reactions: Fission and Fusion, involving breaking up or fusing of atomic nuclei. When nuclei fuse or break apart, they turn into other elements, giving out Energy. This can be related to Einstein's famous equation where the "Mass" from the nuclei is converted into pure "Energy." This principle can be used to power a generator to produce, in a sense, a LOT of electricity. But a fateful day in Japan, 1945 reminds us the vicious power of Nuclear Fission, where the Atomic Bomb, caused devastation, and still affects the area today. Also, incidents at Chernobyl and more recently, the Fukushima nuclear meltdown tell us that if not controlled, the vicious energy can destroy the entire planet.

My own take on the Nuclear theme is - Right now, we are at the brink of mastering Fusion Power - although complete mastery is still decades away. After Nuclear Fission is mastered, we may 'export' the Sun to Earth and start a Nuclear Fusion reactor. Nuclear Fusion is far better than Fission, and also does not produce waste by-products. So, until we master Nuclear Fusion, this is an intermediate step.

The second one is - Biological Terror Attacks. Although the name tells us its got something to do with Biology and Diseases, but advances in chemistry can mean terrorists deliberately spreading toxins, harmful gases, viruses and likewise among the masses. The 2001 US Anthrax attacks, where letters were laced with infectious material, are a prime example.

The third is the hot issue - found everywhere in science - Global Warming. The CFCs, Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide were all, in the respective eras, were found as solutions to certain problems. The Greenhouse Effect, a beneficial natural cycle, due to over'grazing' of industries and careless waste disposal techniques, is turning the planet into a death chamber. The Ozone 'Hole' above Antarctica is the cause of ice melting in polar regions, and due to the gaping hole, harmful radiations from the Sun are permeating Earth's atmosphere. One day, our planet may look like distant Mars. The solution for this, however, may lie, ironically, in Chemistry. Better techniques to flush out the CO2 may be developed, and the new field of 'Bioplastics' may yield a biodegradable plastic.

All in All, the Pros of Chemistry far outweigh the cons. The only thing that researchers have to care of is, misusing chemical power.

I know, this post was more of an essay, than a one-minute take, but I just got crazy and wrote everything that came to my mind down. If you find any mistakes, do comment below. Also, if you have any questions, please comment below, I'll try my best answering them :). Thanks.


Atharv Joshi - @@J

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Wired Differently: Quizbot # 6

Quizbot is a weekly quiz initiated by yours truly in an attempt to reach far out in everyone's quest for Curiosity. Besides, Quizzing is one of my hobbies and thanks to SEQC, now one of my passions.

Quizbot # 5 got 10 responses, which is commendable! Here's the 6th set:

Set # 6

1. ________, a slang word, describes a certain group of people. It is a very appropriate term, since the biotic living thing that grants its name to the slang term also shows similar characteristics. You will associate the word with this young lady (pictured below), not that she's a _________ though! Give me the term.

2. The earlier word used for Afro-American music was 'Race Music.' Obviously, this was an offending term. This term was changed to which popular term?

3. Connect the four images below to something billed 'The Most Famous."

4. Whose memorial?

5. The Sitter (Its really a sitter). Whose profile info on the newly released Google + reads "I Make Things?"

As usual, Please post your answers in the comments section below.

Out of the 10 responses recieved, one was a little 'Shady.' One Anonymous said, "hah google has the answers of all of them. level of questions is not so high." Mr. Anonymous, thanks for telling me that! You've just shown what you're capable of. No one's stopping you from Googling, so, the next time, let the criticism come with 5 valid 'Googled' answers!!! :P :D

Quizbot # 5 Answers and Scores:

9 answers were recieved, and one question proved a tough nut to crack. Here goes:

1. Baldness in Latin evolves to 'Chauvin', which is the root of 'Calvin.' The president is Calvin Coolidge! (7/9 got it correct)
2. Yes, it is the African National Congress. (8/9 got it correct)
3. It is Idi Amin, the infamous Ugandian (?) (6/9 got it correct)
4. Ah! This one was a tough nut. The answer is as simple as '+ and - signs!' (1/9 got it correct)
5. Atlantis. Sigh, the Space Shuttle Era ends :( (9/9 got it correct)

And now for the Scores:
1. Kapinjal - 3
2. Mangesh - 4 (Nice!)
3. Somewhere over the rainbow.... - 4 (Nice!)
4. Swapnil - 4 (Nice!)
5. Murali - 4 (Nice!)
6. Annie - 4 (Nice!)
7. Jyoti Prakash - 2
8. R Krishna - 2
9. Raghav - 5 (Great Crack!)

And yeah, as far as the 'Googling' clause goes, remember, you can't cheat your conscience.

Link to the Previous Set: Quizbot Set # 5


Monday, July 11, 2011

LHC Simplified - A Simple Explanation of The Large Hadron Collider

"A Blogpost aimed at 'Simplifying' the Large Hadron Collider. Those who dunno anything about this, Hop on. Read this blogpost. :)"

Everything summed up, The Large Hadron Collider is the BIGGEST Scientific Experiment in the WORLD. It is the MOST EXPENSIVE thing EVER built. But in order to understand a gigantic thing as the LHC (Don't worry, even I'm not LHC Literate), one has to familiarize himself with some basic physical concepts.

A few days back, I had done a presentation on the LHC for my Astronomy Club, two times. The presentation can be viewed and downloaded below. This is the inspiration for this blogpost.

The Large Hadron Collider was first thought of in the 1980s after much of the development in something called the Standard Model had been made. There are four fundamental forces of nature: Gravity, Electromagnetism and the Two Nuclear Forces: The Strong and the Weak Force. (Please check out this link for more information). The Standard Model incorporates the Electromagnetic Force and the Nuclear Forces into one theory of almost-everything.

The standard model divides subatomic particles into two groups (i.e. Fermions and Bosons), which are nothing but elementary and force-carrying particles. Everything is elegantly summed up in the Standard Model, except Gravity and a few other things.

Let us now see where the LHC sneaks in.

Particle Physicists study "What's Inside What's Inside What's Inside" ad infinitum. So beyond the Protons, Neutrons and the Electrons, and even beyond the Quarks that make up Protons and Neutrons is the fundamental question, "What gives everything mass?" To explain this, the Standard Model hypothesizes something called the Higgs Field.

A field is a region in space where force carrying particles can interact. If ones goes with the Standard Model, then there exists a "Higgs Field" where particles interact with each other, resulting in mass. A special particle, called the Higgs Boson interacts with other subatomic particles and the strength of the interaction corresponds to the mass of the body.

One of the LHC's main aims is to find this elusive Higgs Boson, and it does this by smashing subatomic particles together!

LHC is the world's largest Particle Accelerator, accelerating subatomic particles like the Proton to 99.99% the Speed of Light. Then the particles, which are sent moving in opposite directions, collide. These collisions create new particles, which are later analysed by the physicists.

The LHC works with Hadrons, i.e. particles composed of Quarks. The Three words Large, Hadron and Collider are ENOUGH to explain the LHC!!!

So, what the LHC does is creates immense energies to accelerate particles and collide them to create new particles! It has NOTHING to do with creating a Black Hole that will suck Earth!

By the way, this Large Hadron Collider rap is a good place to get started!

Below is the link to my presentation! Hope you enjoy it! For more information, you can visit the LHC Outreach website here :)

LHC Simplified

The presentation is best viewed fullscreen on Scribd. Because it has been converted, the Presentation does not look neat. If you download it and have Office 2007, there will be no problems.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments section!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Wired Differently: Quizbot # 5

Quizbot is a weekly quiz initiated by yours truly in an attempt to reach far out in everyone's quest for Curiosity. Besides, Quizzing is one of my hobbies and thanks to SEQC, now one of my passions.

Quizbot # 4 drew 4 responses. Here's the fifth set:

Set # 5

1. Baldness, in Latin is the root of a popular name, famously associated with a 6-year old. It was also the name of a President of the United States (pictured below). What common English name?

2. In 1894, Mahatma Gandhi, in South Africa founded an organisation aimed at abolishing discrimination against Indians in South Africa. It became an ally of which major South African political party?

3. Who has been portrayed in "The General Is Up", a novel written by an author (pictured below) of Goan origin.

4. The earliest known symbols for a modern algebraic symbol consisted of a legs going in a forward way. The opposite of this symbol was denoted by legs moving in opposite directions. Which symbol are we talking about?

5. The sitter of the set. With the launch of which spacecraft, named after a legendary island, did NASA signal the end of the Space Shuttle Program?

As usual, Please post your answers in the comments section below.

Quizbot # 4 Answers and Scores:

We had 4 responses this time, with only one of them being complete. Here goes:

1. The song is 'White Trash Party (W.T.P)' by Eminem. (0/4 got it correct)
2. The Padmanabhaswamy Temple. (3/4 got it correct)
3. The town is Wimbledon. (0/4 got it correct)
4. It is the Crab Nebula. (1/4 got it correct)
5. The answer is Concorde. (2/4 got it correct)

And now for the Scores:
1. Raghav - 3 (Good Going!)
2. Rishwin - 2 (Great!)
3. Anonymous - 0
4. Anonymous - 1

Link to the previous set: Quizbot Set # 4


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Poetic Thoughts # 3 - What is Life But...

"A 'Poetic Thought', a little bit scrambled, describing the loop of life."

What is life?
But twists and turns,
Looping meanders,
Nowhere to run :(

We start this game,
Having no clue of the future,
It is as if we're born
36 weeks premature.

But yeah! We start out,
Our primitive years,
As if thick fog - are spent in this haze.
Not knowing about this life-like maze.

And once we start walking,
Life tops up a third dimension,
We are the conquistadors
Of this new nation.

We resume our journey,
The dozen maddening years in school,
They say this is Childhood,
To me, its just Cool!

A looping meander, we here confront,
For new careers we must hunt,
A time spent in dependence,
Blooms into a need to brew our own existence.

Ah! Time flies by, responsibilities increase,
We have no time to even blurt out 'Freeze!
As we go up the office ranks
And fill our hard-earned money into banks.

And when you become a Sexagenarian,
Retirement does beckon.
You have your own holiday home
And exotic places you can roam.

Whatever comes, has to go,
It is with this fear
That one steers clear,
Of the sorrows that life offers.
But death haunts us,
With a smiling face.
And then the day dawns,
When you reach Third Base.
Strike Out!

I told ya Life was a loop, a different game.
Wherein you start with nothing,
And come back to 'Start' with nothing.

What is life?
But twists and turns,
Looping meanders,
Nowhere to run :(

What is this?
Nothing but a Poetic Thought.
Go out there, live your Life,
Or live it not!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Limca Quiz 2011 Questions: Goa Edition

The Limca Quiz is an annual quizzing event held for High School students (8th to 12th). This year, sponsored by Coca-Cola and organised by Derek O Brien and Associates, it will be conducted in 80 cities, involving 3500 schools and about 10000 teams. The three stage event will culminate in the national stage which will be conducted by Derek O Brien Himself.

I have compiled the questions of the Goa Edition (Prelims and Finals) in a PDF document which is uploaded to Google Docs. It can be viewed and downloaded below: (Viewing it in full screen will be better)

Limca Quiz 2011 Questions - Goa Edition


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wired Differently: Quizbot # 4

is a weekly quiz initiated by yours truly in an attempt to reach far out in everyone's quest for Curiosity. Besides, Quizzing is one of my hobbies and thanks to SEQC, now one of my passions.

Quizbot # 3 saw a relatively weaker response, but nevertheless, here's the fourth set. I missed posting this yesterday because of a tight string of events, so here goes:

Set # 4

1. Connect the three images below to a song by an entertainer. Also name the entertainer.

2. One of the holy abodes of God Vishnu, this temple is currently in the news. Name it.

3. Also in the news, how the name of this district came about is as follows. The first element of this word contains this letter (see image, the letter is written in upper and lower case) of the Old English Alphabet. The second part means 'hill' in Old English. Name Please.

4. Today (4th July) is the Independence Day in America. But, on this day, about a 1000 years earlier, Chinese astronomers spotted an 'unseen star', a 'second sun' so to say. This today is known to be a supernova that created what spectacular astronomical treat?

5. The sitter (as usual). Name this aircraft (pictured below), the name of this aircraft refers to any type of agreement on a matter.

As usual, Please post your answers in the comments section below.

Quizbot # 3 Answers and Scores:

This time we had 8 responses, the answers and scores below:

1. He is, my friends, Erno Rubik, the creator of the Rubik's Cube! I've accepted 'Rubik's Cube' as a valid answer. (5/8 got it correct)
2. The fancy suit is the Zoot Suit. (5/8 got it correct)
3. The rock band is Backstreet Boys. (5/8 got it correct)
4. He is also another Charles, Charles Lyell. (6/8 got it correct)
5. The sitter, BASE jumping, expanded is Buildings, Antenna, Span and Earth. (As expected, 8/8 got it correct)

And now for the Scores:
1. Mangesh Sonawane - 4 (Rock On!)
2. Thiru - 2
3. Somewhere over the Earth/what a beautiful World - 4 (Rock On!)
4. Dhruv Sharma - 5 (That's it, my friend!)
5. Raghav - 5 (That's it, my friend!)
6. Kapinjal - 4 (Rock On!)
7. Varun - 3
8. Anonymous - 3

Link to the previous Set: Quizbot Set # 3

Thanks for the response, and Keep Quizzing!


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Rube Goldberg Machines

In the Summer Holidays, I, along with my Friend, planned to make a simple Rube Goldberg Machine, which sounded exciting! This article is the first in a series of three.

Like doing this the 'hard' way just to extract some FUN outta' borin' stuff? Well, A Rube Goldberg Machine is what you need to do just the same.

Don't go by the name (Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist, btw)... Rube Goldberg Machines are NOT complicated at all. You might have also 'built' a RG Machine out of your own, without even realising it.

Well, that's because a RG Machine is meant to do an extremely simple job, in an overtly-complicated manner. It does this via Chain Reactions, incorporating household, easy-to-find stuff! For example, there can be a Rube Goldberg as big as a room to achieve something as meager as Pricking a Balloon or Switching on your Nintendo DS!

Before moving on, and in case you are confused, I'll show you Rube Goldberg Machines made by our childhood heroes, the cartoon characters. Mr. Bean, Wil E Coyote & Road Runner and Scooby Doo have featured RG Machines before!

Here, an Alarm Clock rings, triggering a mechanism which shoots a burst of hot water in the pipe, which finally reaches Mr. Bean's legs, waking him up! Well, he even could've let the Alarm Clock ring, instead he decided to complicate things!

Here, in another failed attempt to kill Road Runner, Wil E Coyote uses an elaborate RG Machine, which, OBVIOUSLY fails.

In media, the band OK Go's promotional music video for This Too Shall Pass also features a two-story Rube Goldberg.


Why something complicated as RG Machines were introduced in the first place has to do with the 'Machine Age', which came at the turn of the 21st century. Electricity, Running Water, Machines interested people, and new mechanical devices used for simplifying life were flooding Patent Offices. And then a cartoonist comes along, with cartoons depicting complex machines performing simple tasks, and the hobby of making RG Machines is born! Rube Goldberg's cartoons are filled with ingenious complicated devices. The below Image depicts a 'Moth Killer' with steps labelled from A to T!

Besides this, many schools worldwide (NOT IN INDIA) assign students Rube Goldberg machines as science projects, because they wonderfully explain simple physical concepts, and use simple machines like Levers, Inclined Planes and Pulleys.

1987 saw Rube Goldberg contests, which require a team construct a RG Machine from materials given to them on the spot!

My interest towards Rube Goldberg Machines came about one boring day in the holidays, when I Googled for 'Chain Reaction' and was directed to the This Too Shall Pass video! After browsing through more videos, I decided to make one myself, along with my friend Mangesh. This was one article in a series of three, with the next one featuring out RG Machine!

Below are some of my favourite 'Wacky', 'Original' cartoons made by Rube Goldberg himself showing more RG stuff! XD! Don't Worry about the image size, I purposely made then so you could enjoy the cartoon strip!

1. A Mousetrap

2. World's Fair Gadgets

3. Turn Off the Lights

4. Cut Your Own Hair

5. A Simple Alarm Clock

6. A Lift For Hitch - Hikers!

More at this webpage.