Friday, December 30, 2005

Candle lit vigil

Today the students in the campus have decided to have a candle lit vigil in front of the main building. It is a geture we carry out to pay homage to the souls who are no longer around us and for spreading the message of peace. It was a very peaceful gathering of 150 students. The director, prof. Balram was as usual very inspiring but appeared really weary, of course because of the unusual circumstances he faced. We condoled the sudden demise of Prof. Puri, and hoped for a faster recovery of those who are recovering in the hospital. After the vigil we had put the candles at the steps wher J. N. Tata is standing tall. The glowing light carried a promise to walk ahead and and remeber the Prof. Puri. At the end the gathering was asked to speak a few words but the silence was talking; We all despised this heinous act.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Attack inside IISc !!!?

This is the same J. N. Tata Auditorium where the peace ambassador Desmond Tutu talked about peace in this part of the world. This is the place where we saw “Keepers of the flame”, the life documentary on Tatas and we were shown future path of our country, and yesterday we encountered the path which we are traveling through. Few cowards with automatic Kalashnikov has fired indiscriminately on delegates of an international conference in front of J. N. Tata auditorium. When I heard the shooting sound from the lab it was like firecrackers which lasted for 30 sec. In my worst nightmare i haven’t seen such act. Though jolted by the news, frantic calls and ambulances really perturbed the campus, life became normal in the night It was really shocking, we all mourned at the demise of prof. M. C. Puri, and we wish a fast recovery of the others injured in the shootout. Prof. Vijay chandru is a quite known figure in the campus and we hope he’ll be back on his feet very soon.
Inside the campus we always get bugged when a byke’s accelerator crosses some limit, no doubt this incident perturbed the campus but within one and half hours only TV channels were busy discussing it, most of the student had gone back to work. It’s a busy life in the campus; the spirit always carries through day and night in silence. It a shame on the guys who attacked un-armed delegates and researchers. I don’t know their purpose, whatever it is we believe there is no novel cause which can justify such acts. If they have strong will they should come forward and fight not with arms, it is cowardly and if they had thought they will hit a weak zone, certainly they have chosen the wrong place. They should come to the campus and see that nothing has changed except some physical marks they left here yesterday evening. I don’t know whether this/these guy(s) will be caught or not, but it is sure, in India we have learnt to live with it. So if someone wants to create an impact, they better find some new tricks!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The big controversy in cricket

Probably the biggest controversy in the recent times in cricket has hit the media. Nup! not Saurav or Greig, its with the greatest spinner Murlitharan and Shane Warne. After the controversial stament by Shane where he indiacted to a famous bowler (presumably Murli) in the world cricket captured lot of wicktes playing against minnows like bangladesh an Zimbabwe. Well Arjuna Ranatunga the fighter fought back saying that Shane's most of the wicketes came from the teams like South Africa and England and Westindies, who doesn't play spin well, not against India the masters against spin (thank god they didn;t forget it). Most of his wickets came as tail enderes and he is an overrated bowler. i am sure there going to be huge discussions about it statistics has been already popping up, but seeing the statistics i was wondering both the partys should keep quite if their performence is kept agains Kapils performence, who never played against Zimbabwe or bangladesh, and he was a Fast bowler from India! if we take out 150 wickets from both of these bowlers, Statistics from Kapils career would look certainly brighter. May be they should stop at this because both of these spinners are really greats and their bowling it is always a treat to watch, perhaps its a time they along with their friends keep quite because we can put Kapil ahead of them :D

Friday, December 23, 2005

nanomechanics and Prof. John Pethica

Mechanics although sounds mechanical but its starts from the chemistry of atoms and you have mechanics when two atoms comes close to each other. This is how Prof. John Pethica looked at mechanics. Prof. Pethica is a big name in the field of contact mechanics and became quite popular in the campus. His cv is all over the web and I don’t want to write it here.
When two bodies come close to each other there are attractions and repulsion which act on them, and probably this is the first time I saw somebody really, experimentally showing the typical energy plot that we find in all basic material science book Prof Pethica and his group has done it using AFM. He explained the mechanism which drives an atomic force microscope to read the atoms. The striking technology is in the resolution. A laser goes through the tip and reflects back and by detecting the multiple reflections that is coming back, through which it was possible to achieve atomic level resolution in AFM. The probe for AFM can be used as a tool for striking the antom and calculating bond strength between the atoms. So you can literally feel the chemistry of the atoms. It’s really fascinating. So Prof. Pethica’s group in Dublin is working with some technique, developed most probably by them, which is called modulated amplitude AFM technique, this is very effective in measuring the single tip surface bond, the mechanism is bit complicated but it has responses coming in femto seconds and there are advantages over the other tips used for this purpose. After mesmerizing the audience with his measurements in the atomic scale he shifted to some interesting studies on molecules. No, it’s not the big organic molecule, it is water molecule. When the water molecules are kept in between two plates with sufficiently closer (less than nanometer) you start seeing some changes such as viscosity and those change are because of the contacts between the water molecule and the surface. It’s an interesting study from the point of view of biologist as inside a cell the length scale in which water molecules sits is almost similar in order. Prof. Pethica, at the end of his lecture showed few slides of the nano science building at the heart of the town in Dublin. He really wanted to convey the importance of the nano science and technology, but I had a feeling that he has reached beyond that!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Space Research

Discovery of vacuum was a revolution, its helping someway or other the poor souls like ours, but life moves on. Once we have vacuum we can do lots of model experiments, that will gives us a clue of what can happen in the space above us, but, hold on, you can not get rid of the gravity so easily until you cross the field and go in to space. The amount of effort that goes in behind the space research is huge but now research in space invoked a great deal of interests among the researchers. Presently NASA and ESA has carried out quite a few experiments in space and believe me they are really fascinating.
Experiments in space were started probably through sputnik-3 in 1969, which sent mostly some geophysical information. Until very recently, experiments were concentrated mostly on the atmospheric or geophysical studies but the scenario has changed quite rapidly. Experimental research had leap when Mir was placed in space in the year 1986, and from year 1989 till it was abandoned in 1999, there was always a human being in space. The Venture, International Space Station, took the lead there after. Scientists from all over the world including Russia are participating in this program.
The idea of carrying out experiments in a space station appears bizarre to many people, mostly because of the cost and the futuristic nature as we can not see the application. The fact is someway different; these experiments are mostly carried out for advanced technology. I found one nice example; an experiment on flame. The flames coming out of some nozzle appears like a fluid drop due to the gravitational force resulting in an air flow. Now if these experiments are carried out in space under microgravity atmosphere the flame breaks in to balls, the experiment is known as Lwis SOFTBALL experiments. For this combustion the fuel required is extremely low, which is a process all automotive engine companies will look for, as the hydrogen or hydrocarbon based combustion engines requires these informations. This was an example for a direct application to technology. However, the fundamentals for the basic science are getting major benefits from the zero gravity experiments. Imagine a human brain, which has been modeled to function under gravity, when it is exposed to the microgravity condition, the systems response to this change. It is therefore an interesting area for study. Again we know the plants grows in the direction of light, its roots also grows in the direction of gravitational force, hence it is interesting to know how the plants grow in such conditions.
Materials research did achieve much scope to carry out experiment although levitation experiments for solidification of metals have drawn interest. The constraints are mostly forming the experimental module and control over the experiments, the results is unknown till the specimens come back to earth. Among the other materials research semiconductor crystal growth has been quite a revelation. Near perfect crystals can be grown under microgravity, under surface tension driven flow in the melt. A control in the defect concentration in the crystal is also possible, but its is not so straight forward as the density driven flow and surface tension driven flow complicates the process. The container free melt will have hardly a site for defect nucleation hence these processes are really useful.
Every scientific advance comes with a price tag and we had to pay it through the lives of astronauts who were killed the Columbia explosions. These were the part of NASA’s STS -107 program, more than 70 experiments were carried out in space. We have lost Kalpana Chawla, the only Indian female astronaut.
Efforts are on as many other countries are coming up with ideas and launch vehicles for carrying out experiments. Indian space research also as an individual progressed a lot and one day we will also be able to carry out our own experiments in space.

I found infornation from the following places

Future Materials Science Research on the International Space Station (1997), National Academy publishers


European Space Agency

Russian spaceweb

News about ISRO

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

spread your wings and fly eagle.. Desmond Tutu

The notice on a pink colour A4 paper remained un-noticed in the campus, and it gave some of us an opportunity to listen to Desmond Tutu the Nobel Peace prize winner for the year 1984. I miss most of the Nobel laureate lecture in the Institute because I reach late and the halls will be completely filled, this time it was in J. N. Tata auditorium and because of mentioned reason I could hear this piece of lecture. The presence of sniffer dog/bitches from the police near the stage gave really a wrong introduction to right event.
The speaker of the 7th and the last J.R.D Tata memorial lecture, organized by NIAS was Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu from South Africa. He was really humble at the beginning of the talk. He spent almost 10 min. in thanking us, the Indians. I rarely hear someone talking about Mahatma Gandhi with such emotions. If I am hurting someone, then let me confess I heard very few of them. He sounded more like a Global Spokesman of peace than an arch bishop from Capetown, who fought apartheid and the man behind the reconciliation mission. Of course, South Africa has moved ahead from the apartheid era, but still I wonder how this reconciliation is done; atrocity must be at a level where punishment is the solution. His talk was a reminder of the last century’s blood bath all over the world, and the born of so called super powers who carried that legacy to the next century in the name of west vs. Islamic terrorism. He criticized the America and Britain for their unwanted and unnecessary invasion in Iraq where thousands of people were still getting killed. If the description of the talk is becoming serious then let me put down that he also had a humorous touch in his talk and he mixed them really well. He described the incidents, one about the women who came to the reconciliation court and was requested for forgiveness, and the other of the hotel manager in Washington who mistook him as a chauffer, with equal intensity! There were parts of the lecture where he talked about the oppression, quite depressing but when I read his Nobel lecture, I found he actually didn’t talk about oppression much. Surely, he followed his talk titled “is there hope for humanity?”. Arch Bishop Tutu, is in a UN committee called alliance of civilization and he is carrying out the job for getting together the civilizations around the world, according to him, we can prosper only when we are together. Human being lives in the world of Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luthar King (junior), and they are like eagles that fly towards the rising sun and disappears. It was a quite unusual lecture for us but hats off to the man from Capetown!

Few links!

His Nobel lecture

His peace centre

Friday, December 09, 2005

memory under freeze

...Saswata has kept a hard disk inside a freeze to retrive data from it :D, First time i had laughed like this. Although he is famous for humourus activities but this time i was fooled as i found people have found it as a good technique for retriveing data from the "failed" hard disk. So just take the HD and keep it inside a freeze for couple of hr. and fix it back, if you are lucky then you'll get your data back. Sounds like a cool trick. May be Semiconductor guys can put some light on it, and from materials scienctist point of view its really interesting.

You want to succeed ?

You want to succeed? You need to be a good leader; you have to learn how to “manage” people. We hear these line so many times from our childhood that at some point it really becomes a fact. There is nothing which is absolute, from my childhood this is the one thing I have learnt. If you say when, well there is always plus and minus. If you say this is the end, then there is nothing call end, an end marks a beginning. I used to wonder and now always feel something that eludes me is an understanding of these facts. I always knew if I buy a chocolate I have to give the price the shopkeeper asked, but never realized why there was a bargain when I wanted to buy a T-shirt. I can not remember how many times I was directly and indirectly told that there is no fixed price for something, we can always “adjust”, this is an understanding and a balance. Then comes the big institutes, if you see the instructions booklet, you as a student will find the class room as the safest place on earth and if your actions are put under microscope you will break numerous rules each day, if you think they are strict rules then you always live under guilt, but there are guys, who know there is no rule, you can break them to any extent and get away with it, of course if you are a good “manager”. There is a third way become indifferent about the happenings around you. Once my friend Pratap in an argument pointed out that if one always go straight without any diversions, then all lives will be parallel, no interaction and hence no society, its the society who kept you alive not the individual. He has a point and any discussion in this matter boils down to one fact, small adjustments which don’t make much difference are ok, after all you are in a society. So take help from individuals don’t even bother to thank him, because you are going to return it to the society, the return need not be in the same magnitude as nobody can compare potato and apple. Everyone adjusts, compromises; human beings are small creatures even the earth has compromised her shape, its not completely spherical, sphere has been slightly tapered at the poles: a small adjustment but enough to keep us alive, but I am rigid M who will never understand this simple logic.
It’s a pleasure of not being argued in the middle of cribbing so that I could put down quite a few lines of my own here. Disclaimer: this post is not pointing towards any individual or organization :)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cricketing memories

.....Its a quite old event, i mean its 3 months old event, before i broke my finger and before we faced all kind of problems. This was our first match in league and we won it as we had won the last one. These are the big stars of IISc cricket team, and the small stars are at the bottom. partha got 6 wickets and I scored 75 in that match. Most of the team performed in similar fashion in other matches but unfortunately Sandeep's camera couldn't catch them. Kapil the caps is not here. ViveK, Mahesh are also missing.

Srini, Sachin, Partha, Atul, Kumar, Venu (star faculty), Jackie (Santanu)
Sandeep, Uncle (Surinder), OP, Saru(Sarendra) and me

Me and Partha

Friday, December 02, 2005


I feel sometimes myself like the Shepard in Alchemist. Though I don’t dream about pyramids, but I always grab opportunities to visit places whenever possible. This time it was Chennai, and NMD-ATM, annual technical meeting of metallurgist from all over India. Along with the meeting I actually wanted to visit IIT-Chennai. So now I have seen two IITs. ATM followed FDM, the international conference on future of materials where Atul presented a paper, and I was fortunate enough that he had put my name in it! Thanks Atul! Before ATM I have to mention NMD because on that day Dr. Phanikumar got the young metallurgist award and I want to congratulate him.
I heard before the conference that ATM is a low profile conference, but was elated to find that a portion of the talks were really good. The participation was really huge, posters as well as speeches. A whole gamut from materials and metallurgical research came here. Truly speaking conference was very general and I had to find talks of my own interest. There were three parallel sessions. I was especially interested in the mechanical behaviour of materials, some functional stuffs and then Ceramics of course. I had attended few sessions on mechanical behaviour of materials. First day, 15th Nov. I found some interesting stuffs about Spark Plasma Sintering processes. ARCI is currently doing lots of work on that, with Dibyendu around I would also try something! Guru’s rafting was as usual good and I guess serendipity is knocking his door. There was a talk by Vendervort, the king of metallography and also days end Vikram mesmiriesed audience with a 10 min talk on wear. Second day it was bit hectic, as I wanted to attend the talk on metallic glasses, it was interesting session, Krishanu presented his paper on non-equilibrium solidifation which was good, better was his answers ( Dr. Dey, from BARC showed some beautiful HREM micrograph of the metallic glasses, again the controversy begun whether there is crystallization at the shear bands, Prof Ramchandra Rao, pioneer in the field was also present there. Rejin, hurried through his beautiful talk! Just for attending Vikram’s lecture, but his experiments for exhibiting Ductile Brittle transition was really good. Vikram was fascinating in his talk on the amorphous ceramics. Its really a magic material only requires good magicians like prof. Jayaram.It was more like our class room, but I wasn’t happy with the explanation he tried to give in support to the densification at high temperatures. The nano grains grow so fast, it is really difficult to differentiate between densification, creep and grain growth processes. I would be unfair If I miss the last talk which a girl from IGCAR delivered. They were using Infrared camera for strain measurement during tensile experiment. Not only the local strain it was possible to measure the stress distribution in the specimen, for large component which may be a good tool to use, but what I understood is that there are limitations in the shape of the resolution of the camera.
Its like writing a summary of Ramyana, I would have loved to describe each of the talks I participated but that’s some other time. What I really want is to thank all the faculty staffs and students, from IIT Chennai, life were really tough for them in that last week.

home "together"

I was standing at the door of the compartment, while the train was slowly crossing the bridge over Krishna. Sky was full of clouds rain drops were piercing through my skin; I was really enjoying it as I was going home. It was dusk and Krishna looked beautiful, with water reaching from one corner to the other and the river met the horizon. I was standing at the door because my seat was occupied by some students from Ramaiya College; I tried to raise my voice but gave in to the teens. I didn’t sleep well in the night, not only because of the extravagant students but also for the unusual bed, but I didn’t complain, as I was going home. Early morning I woke up and the first thing that I heard was that the train is running late by 6 hr. Bad times were still sticking with me! The whole day my walkman was really helpful, the girls and the guys were enjoying a lot and making plans for diwali I found myself an odd man out, realized that I have crossed some stage of my life, but I was happy like others: we were all going home. That whole day I finished a book which “kotts” gave me mentioning that as a mediocre book, “interpreter of maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri, it’s a collection of short stories and except the name story, I found most of the others quite good. Then came the last night in train, by the time it was running 8 hr. late. I remember one girl was traveling to Patna and she was going to miss her train from Howrah, it was such a helpless situation for her and her family that, her father started travlelling from Patna to Howrah to take he daughter along with him, it didn’t bother me much you know; I was reaching home! Finally the train reached Kharagpur, after a delay of 11 hr. It was a bright sunny day, finally a bright day, I don’t after how many days I was enjoying a bright day. Last four months it really poured heavily in Bangalore. My big bro rented a car and came to pick me, it was a nice time. My house is at a beautiful place called Jhargram, of course to me. This place is just 7 Km. away from my home.

photo courtsey: My bro Debraj

I was really feeling great; Not only “dada”, Chiku also came along with him, we had a ball of a time in the car, and then after 47 hr. after leaving the lab finally I was at this place…

From bro's cell:appears bluish in reality not so much

No prize for guessing, yes! So I was at home !

After the break

I had compre and then I went home, and then I had to start working, where is the time for blogging :D. Along with this fact there is truth and the truth is I was lethargic, but came back powerful.