Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Methane gas hydrates

With the quest for clean, alternate energy sources, everyone has been preparing for a post-oil or post-fossil fuel  world. The expectation is that the next widespread energy source would be a clean renewable source with very little greenhouse emission problems. But what if the next big energy source were again to be a fossil fuel?

According to this article, methane gas hydrates has the potential to replace oil as a major energy source. Apparently, these are basically solid blocks of ice stuffed with methane gas molecules, basically natural gas. They are found all across the globe and are very abundant.

From India's point of view, this is a very crucial piece in the energy security puzzle. And India supposedly has a high amount of hydrates off it's shore. Quoting from the article,

Malcolm Lall, coordinator of the Indian National Hydrate Pro­gram, says hydrate re­­sources off the Indian coast are too large to ignore. Hydrate potential there “is sufficient for the energy needs of India for the next 15 years,” he says. “We’re taking this very seriously.” More energy in­­de­­pendence is a huge in­­­centive, he says, and India hopes to do production tests as early as 2013. “The government has given this a lot of priority … [to] get hydrates commercially viable,” he says. “Let’s see who gets it first.” [Link]

All that sounds promising, but we need to remember that this is yet another fossil fuel and usage will produce greenhouse gases, although much lesser than coal or oil. So although this might turn out to be a very crucial fuel source in the years to come, but the search for the mystical clean energy source will still continue.

Monday, March 09, 2009

How to fight terrorism : Part 1!

According to a study by an institute, RAND Corporation, the profits from film piracy might be directly funding terrorist organizations. According to the report,
"If you buy pirated DVDs, there is a good chance that at least part of the money will go to organized crime and those proceeds fund more-dangerous criminal activities, possibly terrorism,"

Also it goes on to mention the Dawood-led mafia groups as being widely active with Indian film piracy and aiding terrorist organisations.
The D-Company is an organized crime group active for generations in India. Since the 1980s, it has been the major syndicate involved with film piracy in India. The group was transformed into a terrorist organization when it carried out the "Black Friday" bombings in Mumbai in 1993 that killed more than 257 people and injured hundreds more. It continues to advance a political agenda with its actions funded at least partly by the proceeds of crime.

So in case you are wondering how you can fight terrorism, well, stop buying pirated DVDs.

Link via The Acorn blog, which also has more links in this post.

Mind Blowing Pics on National Geographic

Wow, Some really brilliant photographs on the National Geographic website.

Visions of Earth 2009 - Photo Gallery - National Geographic Magazine

I especially love the one in the Indonesian mosque. I just wish I am able to take at least one snap which is of this level of quality.  Gotta work hard on my photography skills to do that.

Filmfare Awards.. WTF????

Just watched the Filmfare awards on TV. The awards were typical Bollywood, the usual number of in-house jokes, the filmi dances, the same kinda speeches. I was kinda expecting all the above so was not very surprised by the show.

But what really annoyed me were the actual awards themselves, the Best Film being a good example. The nominees for the Best Film were :
  • Jodha-Akbar : Okay, decent film. A hatke topic. No objections.
  • Rock On: An unconventional movie and pretty good performances by the cast. Deserves to be on the list.
  • Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na: A sweet, well-made movie with some great dialogues and very contemporary humour. Deserving nominee.
I can accept the above three nominees, but the other three were really out of place.
  • Ghajini : I know this movie is one of the highest-grossing movies, but it really is a typical masala movie. The memory-loss concept pulled the audiences in, but the film was just plain-old "hero hitting 8 goondas with one blow" kinda action. The masses might love it, but cant really call it as being among the best of the year.
  • Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi : I am a Shahrukh fan, so it pains me to say this. But this movie was again a sweet movie, but calling it as among the best films is really stretching it. Who are we kidding here??
  • Dostana: This one really made me go WTF!!! If Dostana is among the best movies of the year, then Kader Khan is among the legendary actors of Indian cinema...  This is a film which is pretty entertaining, but at the same time horribly insensitive and portrays homosexuals in a terrible stereotypical manner.
I know I should not expecting too much for an awards show which gives the best film to trash such as "Raja Hindustani", "Dil to Pagal Hai" and "Veer Zaara". But I thought some of the great small-budget movies that came out in 2008 would be recognised. Especially when we had some great contenders such as Mithya, Aamir, A Wednesday, Tahaan, Mumbai Meri Jaan. And the absolutely superb movie that was neglected, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye!. This was a movie which should have won nominations in multiple categories and not just the one critics award it got. 

And how can the performances of Naseeruddin Shah in "A Wednesday" and Abhay Deol in Oye Lucky not be considered for any award or mention.

Bollywood and Filmfare should realise that just because a film makes more money, it does not make it better than a smaller budget, no "superstar" cast movie. No wonder people like Aamir Khan think these awards have zero credibility. And I whole-heartledly agree with him.

Monday, August 11, 2008


No, petabyte is not a new kind of snack that your pet might bite into, but a term for 1000 Terabytes. The surprising part is that 1Petabyte is the amount of data that Google processes every 72 minutes. The following image illustrates the amount of data that is generated and processed every day.

(Image from: http://www.wired.com/images/article/magazine/1607/pb_intro_f.jpg)

This data explosion has huge implications for organisations that need to process this data into meaning information. Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired, believes that this means that the scientific method is becoming increasing impractical.

But faced with massive data, this approach to science — hypothesize, model, test — is becoming obsolete. Consider physics: Newtonian models were crude approximations of the truth (wrong at the atomic level, but still useful). A hundred years ago, statistically based quantum mechanics offered a better picture — but quantum mechanics is yet another model, and as such it, too, is flawed, no doubt a caricature of a more complex underlying reality. The reason physics has drifted into theoretical speculation about n-dimensional grand unified models over the past few decades (the "beautiful story" phase of a discipline starved of data) is that we don't know how to run the experiments that would falsify the hypotheses — the energies are too high, the accelerators too expensive, and so on. (Link)

Well, I tend to agree with this. As we say in the semiconductor industry, if you can't model the damn circuit, simulate the hell out of it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tantra Mantra

This is a pretty old link, but thought that I would post it anyway.
Here Sanal Edamaruku, president of Indian Rationalist Association, challenges a well known tantric Pandit Surinder Sharma to hurt him using black magic. The real fun begins when the pandit accepts his challenge. And this took place on a live TV program on India TV

When the initial set of mantras did not work, the tantric tries to justify himself and says that the chants work only at night. I guess he did not anticipate that both Sanal and the TV channel would call his bluff and scheduled another session that night. Click on the following video to check it out.

Part 2 and 3 are available on Youtube. Also, read Sanal's account of the incident here.

The Eternal Quest for Clean Energy

As the world continues on it's quest for clean energy, we have had many contenders for the mythical free energy. Prominent ones among them being solar energy and wind energy. Most of them are still not practical or efficient enough to replace fossil fuels. Till we come up with a more efficient fuel cell, which can store energy, i am afraid most of these alternative energy sources are not going to make any headway.

Every now and then, we come up with some information on some very radical new energy source or technique. One recent example is an attempt to split hydrogen from water. We have also had ridiculous claims being made (Remember Ramar Pillai? Also Steorn, the company that claimed it had been able to generate electricity from the earth's magnetic field).

But till we obtain "the" alternative fuel, energy conservation should be our mantra. Quite a few countries have started to embark on integrating energy conservation into their everyday life. Denmark is a good example on this.

In this context, it is very heartening to learn that many Indian innovators too are developing energy conservation techniques. You can find a brief list of innovations here. If India is to bring it's population out of poverty, it will need to figure out ways to get more green technology in the hands of people. The above list of innovations is a step in the right direction.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Look Ma, I got a new spot!

SPACE.com -- Jupiter Breaks Out in Spots

Now, I just hope nobody blames Jupiter's new red spot on global warming.:-)

Monday, April 28, 2008


Well, it's been a really long long time since I last updated this blog.

Well, not anymore.
Henceforth, this blog is going to be updated more frequently. There might not be any long or fully researched posts. They could be short posts which might just link to some interesting. Or it could be an interesting picture. But, ladies and gentlemen, there will be posts.

Now I know myself pretty well. And I realise now that putting a statement such as "more frequently" is a recipe for failure. Because more frequently is a pretty relative statement. It could mean once a fortnight, month or even once a year. So, to make myself more accountable, I guess I should put up a more concrete statement than "more frequently". So here goes.. Henceforth I will update this blog atleast once a week. And no later than Sunday every week. (Assuming week starting on Monday)

My time starts now....

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Problem With Wikipedia

[Image uploaded from http://www.xkcd.com/c214.html]