Stay tuned to the NSF on the next evening…

Update on 2019.04.10 18:50 IST: 

Dimitrios Psaltis, University of Arizona in Tucson, EHT project scientist [^]:

The size and shape of the shadow matches the precise predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, increasing our confidence in this century-old theory. Imaging a black hole is just the beginning of our effort to develop new tools that will enable us to interpret the massively complex data that nature gives us.”

Update over.

Stay tuned to the NSF on the next evening (on 10th April 2019 at 06:30 PM IST) for an announcement of astronomical proportions. Or so it is, I gather. See: “For Media” from NSF [^]. Another media advisory made by NSF roughly 9 days ago, i.e. on the Fool’s Day, here [^]. Their news “report”s [^].

No, I don’t understand the relativity theory. Not even the “special” one (when it’s taken outside of its context of the so-called “classical” electrodynamics)—let alone the “general” one. It’s not one of my fields of knowledge.

But if I had to bet my money then, based purely on my grasp of the sociological factors these days operative in science as practised in the Western world, then I would bet a good amount (even Indian Rs. 1,000/-) that the announcement would be just a further confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

That’s how such things go, in the Western world, today.

In other words, I would be very, very, very surprised—I mean to say, about my grasp of the sociology of science in the Western world—if they found something (anything) going even apparently contrary to any one of the implications of any one of Einstein’s theories. Here, emphatically, his theory of the General Relativity.

That’s all for now, folks! Bye for now. Will update this post in a minor way when the facts are on the table.

TBD: The songs section. Will do that too, within the next 24 hours. That’s a promise. For sure. (Or, may be, right tonight, if a song nice enough to listen to, strikes me within the next half an hour or so… Bye, really, for now.)

A song I like:

(Hindi) “ek haseen shaam ko, dil meraa kho_ gayaa…”
Lyrics: Raajaa Mehdi Ali Khaan
Music: Madan Mohan
Singer: Mohammad Rafi [Some beautiful singing here…]





WEF, Institutions, Media and Credibility

Some time ago, I had run into some Internet coverage about some WEF (World Economic Forum) report about institutions and their credibility rankings. I no longer remember where I had seen it mentioned, but the fact that such an article had appeared, had somehow stayed in the mind.

Today, in order to locate the source, I googled using the strings “WEF”, “Credibility” and “Media”. The following are a few links I got as a result of these searches. In each case, I first give the source organization, then the title of the article they published, and finally, the URL. Please note, all cover essentially the same story.

  • Edelman, “2017 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER Reveals Global Implosion of Trust,” [^]
  • Quartz, “The results are in: Nobody trusts anyone anymore,” [^]
  • PostCard, “Must read! World Economic Forum releases survey on Indian media, the results are shameful!,” [^]
  • Financial Express, “WEF Report: ‘India most trusted nation in terms of institutions’,” [^]
  • Financial Times, “Public trust in media at all time low, research shows,” [^]
  • WEF, “Why credibility is the future of journalism,” [^]

“Same hotel, two different prices…” … [Sorry, just couldn’t resist it!]

Oh, BTW, I gather that the report says that institutions in India are more credible as compared to those in Singapore.

Do click the links if you haven’t yet done so, already. [No, I don’t get paid for the clicks on the outgoing links.]

Still getting settled in the new job and the city. Some stuff still is to be moved. But guess it was time to slip in at least a short post. So there. Take care and bye for now.



Dileep Padgaonkar, R.I.P.

Dileep Padagonkar, R.I.P.

… I came to know about him a bit lately—certainly not when he was the Editor of ToI (or earlier). … It was sometime during the mid-noughties; it was mostly through an occasional edit-page piece or some other piece that he would write here and there. …

… I knew him more or less purely through his writing, even though we did share the same home-town, Pune. [The only few exceptions were a few TV appearances of his which I watched, once in a while, a while ago. … He somehow always seemed to appear in those half-sleeved sleeveless sweaters or something like that…]

But, talking of his writings (and TV appearances), occasional as these may have been, it was impossible to miss the fact that if phrases such as “a man of culture” or “a gentleman” might have any meaning in reality, then it would mean those few [unfortunately so very few] people like him.

Upon reading the news this morning, I was so sorry that he left us so early. …

… May his soul find “sadgati.”

Today’s Pune—the supposed Oxford of the East, the supposed City of Culture—is such that it will not bereave his loss as much as it should. … Naturally! You have to first have a kind of a value-system, a “sense” of what terms like “culture” mean, before you can even register a loss like that!

… Anyway…

My writing, both about QM and on other topics, has been going on, off-and-on. I should be back with something or the other in a while. May be about QM. May be about something else. But no promises as to when.



Shaken, because of a stir

We have demonstrably been shaken here on earth, because of a stir in the cosmos.

The measured peak strain was 10^{-21} [^].

For comparison: In our college lab, we typically measure strains of magnitude like 10^{-3} or at the most 10^{-4}. (Google search on “yield strain of mild steel” does not throw up any directly relevant page, but it does tell you that the yield strength of mild steel is 450 MPa, and all mechanical (civil/metallurgical/aero/etc.) engineers know that Young’s modulus for mild steel is 210 GPa. … You get the idea. …)

Einstein got it wrong twice, but at least eventually, he did correct himself.

But other physicists (and popular science writers, and blog-writers), even after getting a full century to think over the issue, still continue to commit blunders. They continue using terms like “distortions of spacetime.” As if, space and time themselves repeatedly “bent” (or, to use a euphemism, got “distorted”) together, to convey the force through “vacuum.”

It’s not a waving of the “spacetime” through a vaccum, stupid! It’s just the splashing of the aether!!

The Indian credit is, at the most, 1.3%.

If it could be taken as 3.7%, then the number of India’s science Nobels would also have to increase dramatically. Har Gobind Singh Khorana, for instance, would have to be included. The IAS-/MPSC-/scientist-bureaucrats “serving” during my childhood-days had made sure to include Khorana’s name in our school-time science text-books, even though Khorana had been born only in (the latter-day) Pakistan, and even if he himself had publicly given up on both Pakistan and India—which, even as children, we knew! Further, from whatever I recall of me and all my classmates (from two different schools), we the (then) children (and, later, teen-agers) were neither inspired nor discouraged even just a tiny bit by either Khorana’s mention or his only too willing renunciation of the Indian citizenship. The whole thing seemed too remote to us. …

Overall, Khorana’s back-ground would be a matter of pride etc. only to those bureaucrats and possibly Delhi intellectuals (and also to politicians, of course, but to a far lesser extent than is routinely supposed). Not to others.

Something similar seems to be happening now. (Something very similar did happen with the moon orbiter; check out the page 1 headlines in the government gazettes like Times of India and Indian Express.)

Conclusion: Some nut-heads continue to run the show from Delhi even today—even under the BJP.

Anyway, the reason I said “at most” 1.3 % is because, even though I lack a knowledge of the field, I do know that there’s a difference between 1976, and, say, 1987. This fact by itself sets a natural upper bound on the strength of the Indian contribution.

BTW, I don’t want to take anything away from Prof. Dhurandhar (and from what I have informally gathered here in Pune, he is a respectable professor doing some good work), but reading through the media reports (about how he was discouraged 30 years ago, and how he has now been vindicated today etc.) made me wonder: Did Dhurandhar go without a job for years because of his intellectual convictions—the way I have been made to go, before, during and after my PhD?

As far as I am concerned, the matter ends there.

At least it should—I mean, this post should end right here. But, OK, let me make an exception, and note a bit about one more point.

The experimental result has thrown the Nobel bookies out of business for this year—at least to a great part.

It is certain that Kip Thorne will get the 2016 Physics Nobel. There is no uncertainty on that count.

It is also nearly as certain that he will only co-win the prize—there will be others to share the credit (and obviously deservingly so). The only question remaining is, will it be just one more person or will it be two more (Nobel rules allow only max 3, I suppose), what will be their prize proportions, and who those other person(s) will be (apart from Thorne). So, as far as the bettors and the bookies are concerned, they are not entirely out of the pleasure and the business, yet.

Anyway, my point here was twofold: (i) The 2016 Physics Nobel will not be given for any other discovery, and (ii) Kip Thorne will be one of the (richly deserving) recipients.



It’s Hot…

It’s hot—I mean the weather. I mean that in Pune. I mean the one right now.

The temperatures in the city have consistently been hovering around/above 40 degrees, and this is unusual. That way, it’s possible that the the max. temp. figures themselves might not be very much above the average. It could also be that the min. temp. is way above the normal temp. Or, if not that too, then at least the temp profile throughout the day—the total flux received per day as such—might have gone significantly up. Or, the wind is unusually low… Whatever. But the fact is that it’s been very much hot for the past many days—not just in Pune but also for most of Maharashtra (and other parts of the country). … Hmmm….

…Is it just me, or have our daily newspaper-wallahs from Pune really forgotten to print photographs or news-stories on one or more of the following (listed in no particular order):

  1. Naked urchins caught mid-air on camera while jumping into: (a) Mula, (b) Mutha, (c) Mula-Mutha, or (d) a canal
  2. A vendor of water-melons caught napping on a heap of the fruit at the market-yard, right on the hot afternoon
  3. A sparrow or a crow perched on a municipality water-tap, its neck strenuously bent down towards the outlet of the tap, trying to drink the infrequent droplets of water coming out of the tap
  4. A close-up of a dry river-bed showing that typical criss-cross patterns of cracks developed in the baked mud
  5. A color photograph of a bright-red “gulmohor” tree, say on the NDA road, snapped by some practising general physician (who has not let his finer sensibilities die despite the demands of his profession and his obviously busy schedule (from 10 to 1 and 4:30 to 7:30, this being Pune))
  6. A photo of the fallen levels of water in the dams nearby. Here, two options are available to the newspaper editor: (i) If he likes a long-shot, show the dry contours of the near-empty reservoir. (ii) If he likes a close-up, show the vertical water level-gauge near the dam wall which used to have red and white markings in a previous life-time.
  7. A photo showing the audience in a small meeting hall, the audience consisting solely of working journalists, the photo itself appearing with a caption that the event was organized for discussing P. Sainath’s book: “Everyone Loves a Good Draught”. … Even without reading anything further from the news, it is easy to make out that they all are working journalists, because:
    1. all the males in the audience have beards and no female seems to have any kind of a make-up put on
    2. regardless of their gender, they all: (a) appear in cotton/khaadi “kurtas,” (b) record news the old-fashioned way, by scribing down in a school-student’s notebook, i.e. without using audio/video recorder, (c) carry “shabnam” bags

I don’t think I have seen any one of the above-mentioned news items in any one of our Pune newspapers (including the local editions of the National Newspapers) … Why is it so? Why? Have our H’ble Ministries/Departments of Information and Broadcasting, Environment, Irrigation, Water Supply, Science and Technology, Meteorology, etc. all been sleeping? Shouldn’t they be more careful and see to it that proper news items are punctually published in all our newspapers? … Weren’t the matters soooo much for the better during those BJP years?

..Err… Leaving aside the dark-grey [“nothing is all black or all white”] humor…

…Ok. Really leaving humor aside and getting serious about something that is worth getting serious about:

Here is a reminder that now is the time to execute at full-speed all those micro-level projects like “paaNi aDavaa, paaNi jiravaa.”

… I don’t know if it is true but it’s a widely held belief that if a summer is unusually hot, as this summer seems to be turning into, then the monsoon following it also tends to be more intense. … A greater rain-fall ought to make for good news in a heavily rains-dependent country like India, but, unfortunately, this always is not true—even a greater rain-fall is only a mixed blessing. In India, just the way we waste any other natural resource (including time), we also put to waste most of the water that falls in this land… The way we function, typically, people wake up about the need to put up small dams in their places only in the month of July (just the way we wake up to the need to put up large dams in place only in mid-May).

The time to act to for the next monsoon is now—at least for those micro-level projects.

– – – – –

A Song I Like:

(Marathi) “nav laakh taLapatee, deep vijeche yeth_…”
Lyrics: “kusumaagraj” (V. V. Shirwadkar)
Music: “aNNasaaheb chitaLkar” (C. Ramchandra)
Singer: “aNNasaaheb chitaLkar” (C. Ramchandra)

PS: If someone can locate a record/CD for this particular song, please drop me an email (aj175tp AT yahoo DOT co DOT in). Thanks in advance!

PPS: Now that I have begun writing shorter blog-posts covering only one-two topics (and so long as I continue doing so) I am going to reduce the number of songs listed in this last section—one, at most two.

[To be streamlined at the time of the next post]