Tuesday, January 27, 2009

E = m*(c^2) ---> A boon or a bane

Well.... here comes an off-beat blog from me.. especially centered upon one of the most important equations of modern physics which has shaped the current world of discoveries. This equation was derived by the renowned Albert Einstien in 1905 in the paper "Does the inertia of a body depend upon its energy content?", one of his ANNUS MIRABILIS papers. Though Einstien was not the first to propose an energy-mass relationship, he was the first to propose(and in fact prove) that the equivalence of mass and energy is a general principle, a consequences of symmetries of space and time. This paper is based primarily on James Clerk Maxwell's and Heinrich Rudolf Hertz's investigations in addition with the axioms of relativity. Einstien thus proved that the energy(E) emitted or radiated by a body/molecule is equal to the body's mass(m) times the square of speed of light(c). Einstien in fact was clearly confident that this could not be achieved practically and it was next to impossible. He even went on record quoting "It is equivalent to shooting a bird in the dark in a place where there are few number of birds".
Now we go on to see two fine examples of the equation.
Example 1
Way back in August 2, 1939 a letter signed by Einstien was delivered to the White House. But due to the American president Roosevelt's preoccupation with Aldof Hitler's invasion of Poland (Remember history?? - this was the beginning of World War II), it was delivered to him on October 11th. The letter was originally framed by another scientist Leo Szilard (A Budapest born Hungarian-German-American Physicist) with the help of fellow Hungarian Physicists Edward Teller(Father of the Hydrogen bomb) and Eugene Winger. The letter was about the threat of Germany going forward with a research to develop an atomic bomb using nuclear fission.
Actually Szilard 1933-34 had concluded that nuclear chain reaction was possible (he conceived the idea while waiting for traffic lights to change when walking to work!!!!) and also managed to make him prove that after all Einstien was true in his mass-energy relationship. When he learnt about the achievement of nuclear fission by Otto Hahn of Germany in December 1939, he along with Noble Laureate Enrico Fermi (who along with szilard was instrumental in building the first nuclear reactor) concluded that Uranium was the material which could sustain a chain reaction and with further experiment they discovered significant neutron multiplication in uranium thus proving that chain reaction was possible and nuclear weapons were on the way. Szilárd later described the event: "We turned the switch, saw the flashes, watched for ten minutes, then switched everything off and went home. That night I knew the world was headed for sorrow". Later Szilard heard that his former colleagues in Germany had gone further ahead and were experimenting with the control of chain reaction using graphite and were unsuccessful. This instilled fear in his minds and he rushed to Einstien to seek help in rushing a letter to the President warning of Germany's advances. He managed to convince Einstien in this regard and Einstien accepted to sign that letter as the base of all these findings was his energy-mass relation principle.
The letter states that Germany's action in blocking export of Uranium from former Czechoslovakia (taken over by Germany) proves that they are well on the way to develop an atomic bomb which could lead to large scale destruction. It also was advised in that letter that America speed up its nuclear research and also look into the possibility of building a bomb. It was also stated that the bomb would be heavy and difficult to transport due to its size and volume. This letter made Roosevelt to call upon his Chief of Army and later saw the establishment of the Manhattan Project in 1939. This project was an extensive project and employed nearly 130,000 people and nearly US$ 2 billion (in 1939!!!!! - translates to USD 24 billion) and was located at various sites across America. Thus was born the nuclear bomb which was dropped in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Szilard, Fermi, Teller, Oppenheimer among a host of other eminent Physicists worked on it. Einstien later expressed about his regret in signing the letter and also was sorrowed by his grave mistake of finding the mass-energy relationship.
Example 2
Another amazing finding based on Einstien's equation is the Big Bang Theory. This theory establishes the fact that universe came into existence at a definite moment in time, some 13 billion years ago, in the form of a superhot, superdense fireball of energetic radiation. Until the arrival of the Big Bang theory the universe was believed to be essentially eternal and unchanging, represented by the Steady State model. The first clear hint that the universe might change as time passes came in 1917 when Albert Einstein developed his General Theory of Relativity. Einstein realised that his equations said that the universe must be either expanding or contracting, but it could not be standing still, because if it were then gravity would attract all the galaxies towards one another. This was, at the time, a revolutionary concept, so revolutionary that Einstein refused to believe it and introduced his infamous 'cosmological constant' into the equations so that the sums agreed that the universe could be static. He later claimed it was the biggest blunder of his career. It was in 1920 that Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding by measuring the light from distant galaxies. This discovery was followed in 1927 by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian astronomer, who was the first person to produce a version of what is now known as the Big Bang model. To this day there are numerous theories either supporting or opposing this theory by various astrophysicists. But the theory remains and will continue to remain.
This Big Bang theory was in fact established clearly with Einstien's theory of relativity which in fact was based upon Einstien's Annus Mirabilis. Upon seeing two fine examples of Einstien's work, I really feel that a simple equation has in fact ruled the 20th century and still continues to do so.... Is this equation a boon or a bane.. wat else is in store for being discovered...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winds of change???

It was a historic day on Jan 20, 2009 in the annals of American history. The day on which the 44th president of United State of America took oath thus finalising the transfer of power from the incumbent. It was a new dawn for the Afro-American community as it was the First person from the race to hold the highest office of the nation. Barack Hussein Obama has made history and etched his name among the highly precious leaders of the country. His coming to power has been a roller-coaster ride from the moment his nomination as democratic candidate running in the race for president. Before he could be in the real race was a huge task of passing through the toughest challenge from the former first lady cum senator Hilary Clinton who was a clear favourite to hold office. Once past her he was clearly the people's choice as his promise had been a "New America", a "Changed America". Eight years of Republic rule had made the country stare at the bottom of the barrel with uncertain future helped his cause largely and defeat of John McCain was achieved. Over to the period after conforming his candidature the President elect was in "Honeymoon Period" as coined in American power circles. He was in fact under training and was learning the technicalities of the office.

Over to his inauguration on the West end of the Capitol Hall at 12 noon on chilly after non and thousands has turned up for the occasion and the world was amazed on seeing such huge crowds barring cold winds. The occasion was a grand affair with the who's who of American power circle attending it and millions of viewers watching in in TV and live streaming over the Internet(me was of this category!!! at 1 AM). There was some prayers and a musical performance before the main speech took place, but all eyes was on one person and he was sitting there like a normal human being as if unaware of such a huge responsibility being placed on his young shoulders. When his came there was huge uproar and he had to wait for some seconds for the applause to die down. There began an inspiring speech which had been modelled akin to a sculptor creating his masterpiece. Here goes a brief text of such an inspiring speech which touched millions of hearts across the globe.
Starting with a humble thanks to the people and a great thanks to his 43 predecessors in office it was of to a steady and clear start. When everybody settled down immediately, Obama started off like a panther in its mission clearly stricking the bull's eyes by accepting the huge task which welcomes him in office. Outlining the indicators of the economic crisis and addressing the lowering confidence of the people he affirmed the faith in him by saying "America - all challenges WILL BE MET". He gave a gist of what he plans to do to overcome the many challenges being faced by stating "For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do." It looks like a fairy tale, but the way this man blurted it out seems that this is not impossible. Clearly this man means change.
He rekindled the thought that America is a secular nation with people from all faiths, known and unknown, binding together and achieving great heights and setting new standards. He called for all nations to come together in nullifying the nuclear threat. He meant business when he vowed to leave Iraq to its own people and establish peace in Afghanistan. Further preparing to take challenge of rectifying the spectre of global warming with the help of "old friends and former foes". He sent a strong statement to terrorists that the spirit of America cannot be broken and they will be surely outlasted and defeated. He pledged to "poor nations" that he'll work with then in their upfront and help them change and also change thyself as the whole world has changed.
By quoting "Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." these sentences he clearly emphasised the value and promise of citizenship, the source of one's confidence and the liberty of every individual. He said that a person who followed these principles, whose father was refused food in a restaurant 60 years ago, is standing before the world and taking the most difficultust and the most unwanted job in the current scenario.
Saying thus he told the people of America to have hope and hold virtue in hands at this time of hardship and set forth to make this place a better world to live for our children and their children.
Such an inspiring speech gave loads of confidence, attainable hopes and the surety that the winds of change are round the corner. Let us Hope this man achieves his goal of a "New America" which would spell into a "New world" and of course selfishly a "New India".

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Creeping Doubts in Mind...

It has been nearly two months since completing my masters degree. The ultimatum is now to secure a job and settle in life and most important start settling loans back home and here. Eager job aspirants would know what i am going through now. The market has crashed exactly at the same time i finish my course and you can expect the amount of fear in my mind. Wherever i go i hear only the words "Crisis, Freeze in hiring". It rings through the ears and the brain that i have graduated at a time when there virtually seems to be no jobs. Further news from people saying that the market is expected to recover by 3rd or 4th quarter of 2009 compounds the fear within. Where is life leading to? What does the future hold for me? Have my previous decisions been wrong? decisions like quitting a secured job back in india and moving abroad for higher studies... why does this happen? Parents struggling to make ends meet after ensuring that their children feel comfortable abroad and alone. How long will this dependance go on? Are we fit for jobs? Shall we go back to India and start afresh..? Shall we go stay back here and keep on searching? yes...!!! but how long? wat if i dont get a job before the visa periord expires..?

Damm.. Idle Mind is a Devil's Workshop.. Is this tat..? am i becoming a devil..? How to occupy myself? whatever i do only one thing comes to my mind... and it is sufficient to make me stop the thing am doing...??

I am writing this in full flow and am not able to countinue... u know y.....!! let me start staring the plain wall.... do pass some ideas in the comments... to make me feel better..

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cricket in 2008- A glance

I have been thinking to write a blog on cricket, which incedentally is my passion and i can boast upon in depth knowledge of it. Following cricket for 16 long years has made be glued to it. Here i go upon a brief write up on my thoughts for cricket in 2008. 2008 has been an year which made heads turn around to cricket and was a zig-zag year for emotions of cricket lovers throughout the world. Cricket in 2008 was a year of revolution and churning, of big money and big egos, of acrimony and conflict, but also of wonderful spirit and luminous cricket. It was a year in which the might of Test cricket was challanged and in the end it stood up to be the truest form of entratainment for 5 solid days. At the start of the year money got a grip on the mind of the organisers and eventually choosen players became richer and fear loomed that the 20-20 format would marginalise Test Cricket which was the ultimate test for a player to prove his versatality. The IPL was a grand success as intensified the fear, but the criticism of the Stanford Leauge and its shambles gave an clear indication of the way cricket would shape up with the money. It was a time Test cricket had got an idea of how to be back on the track and it rightly boomed back into limelight at the end of the year.

The year began in the ugliest manner imaginable. The Sydney fiasco left many cricket lovers hurt and evoked anger , ill-will and malice. Former cricketers fumed on such conduct and the morale of the organisers dropped into deep unknown seas. Alas the year ended with such high regard for a powerfully humane gesture from England, returning back to India even after the Mumbai blast held the nerves of many. Such powerful gesture followed by gripping finishes in Perth and Chennai ensured that Test cricket remained on top. It was also the year in which the ICC failed and grew more irrelevant, umpiring system being reviewed, drying up of matches for pakistan and almost no mathes in zimbabwe.

Life after the IPL

It was an opportunity to reshape cricket. A domestic tournament had transformed cricket so radically and so profoundly, that viewers worldover were shell-shocked. The IPL was the biggest thing to happen to the game since Kerry Packer and its impact is expected to be more far-reaching. The focus in the first year was money - eight franchises were sold for over US$730 million; over 150 players, including 72 foreign players, were bought for over $45 million, and the television rights were sold for $1 billion. The tournament was an unqualified success. It attracted unique viewership in excess of 100 million in India, an 18% increase on the number that watched the World Twenty20 in 2007. Stadiums spilled over with fans, some of whom had never been to a cricket ground before. Most of all, the cricket was of the highest quality. What had seemed like an audacious gamble the previous year had paid off spectacularly. The IPL took cricket beyond a new form - it created a new world for itself.

Cricket organisers all over the world saw a huge opportunity for quick a quick buck and scampared with schedules for accomodating the new entrant in the already overflowing cup. Many countries are planning for a similar off shoot and all these together could easily challenge the king of cricket - Test Matches.
Viability of FTP
In theory, the Future Tours Programme of the ICC is an egalitarian concept, aimed at providing equal opportunity to each Test-playing country(9 in total). In reality, it is a blight. Administrators cried themselves hoarse in 2008, hailing Test cricket as the pinnacle of the game. Without doubt it is, but not when it is a mismatch. Test cricket is considered the pinnacle because it presents the ultimate test of skill. Between mismatched teams, it can feel farcical, and be economically unviable. Rich nations have an obligation to sustain and develop cricket - not by indulging weak countries with a quota system, but by providing a competitive playing field. India have got away with not inviting Bangladesh home even once since they were admitted to the Test fold - at India's behest. At one level, it seems hypocritical, at another it is pragmatic and justifiable. England are likely to follow suit next year, and it is a welcome decision. Bangladesh, their performance in the final Test notwithstanding, boost only one thing in Test cricket: the batting and bowling averages of their opponents. If they can offer a semblance of competitiveness, it is at home. It is futile having them play Test cricket in conditions that render them hopeless. New Zealand have played 14 matches but nothing significant other than 2 matches against australia. West Indiea and Bangladesh - 9 matches each but none was heard about. India and SA have palyed the most, 15 each and australia 14. Only these have been worth talking. Not to forget England's(12 matches) tour of India. Pakistan - are they a test playing nation?? - not even a single test.
Rather the ODI's have been numeorous, round the year. India again leading the pack with 29 ODI's (Won 19), followed by SL (14 of 27) and bangladesh!!(5 of 26)... Other countries fared equally with an average of 20 matches this year.
What cricket needs is not a lot of Tests, but more meaningful ones and equal competition by each team rather than stark difference in numbers. When the current FTP expires in 2011, it will be a good idea to bin the formula altogether and start clean. There can only be so much cricket in a year: let it be the best possible the game can provide.

Australia's decline
A more level playing field. It was inevitable and anticipated. No team can lose three of its biggest match-winners and carry on like before. Between them, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne took 750 wickets at 20.78 in the 71 Tests Australia won with them playing together. McGrath took 377 wickets of batsmen from numbers one to six, of which the top three accounted for a staggering 225 at an average of 18.22. Australia lost only one Test match in which Adam Gilchrist scored a hundred. It was always a question of how much the team would fall after the departures, not if.

For the record, Australia had their worst year in a decade and a half. Since winning the fractious Sydney Test at the start of the year, they didn't manage to beat India, losing to them thrice. They lost twice in Perth, their fortress, and failed to take 20 wickets in four out of their last six Tests of the year. They turned to six different spinners in an attempt to replace Warne, including Cameron White and Nathan Hauritz, who were not the first-choice spinners even for their state sides. Their last Test of year, where they struggled to finish off South Africa's first innings, merely highlighted a problem that has haunted them all year - finishing off the tail. Harbhajan Singh scored four Test fifties against them, let alone Zaheer Khan, Dale Styen, and others contributions.

Australia's decline is both good news and bad news. It opens up the field, makes Test cricket more exciting. For years they have almost been competing with themselves: Can Ponting's Australians go one-up on Waugh's Australians by winning 17 Tests in a row? After you were done being awed and dazzled by them, it got monotonous and boring. A more level playing field makes for better watching. This year will carry huge anticipation: Any one of the four top teams - Australia, South Africa, India and England - could end the year on top of the Test ladder. But the bad news is that the level playing field hasn't come about as a result of others raising their game but because Australia have fallen. For years they have set the benchmark for excellence in world cricket, and that mark has been lowered now. India's series victory in 2000-01 felt far more special than the one this year because it came against Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. Wonder if opposition batsmen will feel the same satisfaction in milking Mitchell Johnson, a fine bowler, but no more, and whichever spinner Australia might fancy putting up?

After their first series loss at home in 17 years, even Ricky Ponting will be forced to concede that the sun has set on a glorious era. Australian cricket must now ponder if Ponting is the man to lead them out of a slump. A team of winners can almost run on auto-pilot, but a struggling team needs a leader. A feeling has been growing that Australia under Ponting have grown too triumphalist, too blinkered and too self-absorbed. They have also been living in denial. Cricket needs a strong Australia, but the regeneration will need a fresh approach: It will need both strength and humility, steel and statesmanship. Ponting is still Australia's best batsman, but is he is the leader they need at this hour?
The challengers
It was apt that South Africa and India split the Test series they played this year. They were the teams of the year, the ones that brought Australia down. India began the process and South Africa completed it resoundingly. But South Africa ended the year ahead. They haven't lost a series in over two years; they now hold the trophies in all but one of the bilateral Test series they competed in(against india), and they won 11 out of their 15 Tests in 2008, seven of those away from home. Now that they have dispelled the cross that weighed them down, repeated ignominy against Australia, they are the legitimate No. 1 Test team in the world. India, who lost to Sri Lanka away, and needed a rank turner to draw level with South Africa at home, have some catching up to do.

Both teams have been largely successful due to their batsmen. Graeme Smith for SA has been the strength of pillar and the team largely reflects his own personality. He has been reeling centuries after centuries be it match winning or match saving. It is no wonder that he is the highest scorer of the year. Along with him 4 others are in the list of 15 most run scorers for the year. Not to forget their bowlers, 3 of the top 10 wicket takers are South Africans lead by Dale Steyn with 74 wickets.
In many ways it was India's year. While South Africa were ruthless and clinical, India were sparkling and captivating. They were the ones who first ambushed the champions in Perth, the Australian bastion, and beat them in the one-day finals. For the last few years India have been crossing items off their to-do list: Test wins in Australia and South Africa, series wins in West Indies and England, openers providing hundred-run partnerships abroad, batsmen coming to terms to pace and bounce, and pace bowlers coming to the party. For years India have dominated world cricket with their financial muscle, but now they have a team that is beginning match their wealth. When they travel abroad now, they will be expected to win. That's a significant change. More significant for them is their opening pair, especially Gautam Gambhir who is clearly the leading scorer in the ODI format and also among the Top 5 in tests. 6 of top 20 are indians in the top scorer list in the tests and 5 of the top 10 in ODI's. Bowlers arent too far. Zaheer khan and Ishant sharma are currently the fast best bowlers around.
Individual Heros
Twelve batsmen scored more than 1000 runs, notching up 45 centuries between them in tests, and two of them in ODI's. Virender Sehwag, the second-most prolific scorer, with 1462, got his runs at a strike-rate of 85.84, faster than Sachin Tendulkar gets his runs in one-day cricket. The top scorer, Graeme Smith, got his runs at 65.81. That these two men open the innings made a huge difference. Sehwag saved a Test in Adelaide, breathtakingly charged to a better-than-a-run-a-ball 319 in response to a first-innings total of 540, won the Galle Test almost single-handed, set up the declaration against Australia in Mohali and made the Chennai victory possible. Three of Smith's hundreds came in the last innings of the match -- two were in successful chases and one saved a match -- and five of his six hundreds of the year were in match-winning causes. That they were the most decisive batsmen of the year brooks no argument.

The same can be said about Dale Steyn, who headed the bowling chart, with 74 wickets. He bowled with pace and control, and was quite unplayable when he got the outswinger going. Steyn more than made up for a disappointing beginning in Perth with a series-winning second-innings spell at the MCG. Unsurprisingly, among bowlers who took more than 30 wickets, he is on top in terms of strike-rate, and average too.
Ishant and Mendis - it's not wickets alone. The sensational bowlers of the year were both rookies. Ajantha Mendis and Ishant Sharma didn't have lots of wickets to show but what an impact they made. It wasn't Mendis' fault he played only three Tests, but those three were against India, who have made meals of the best spinners. Mendis first jolted India's one-day batsmen in theAsia Cup final with 6 for 13, and arguably bowled the ball of the year to claim Rahul Dravid as his first Test victim. He would keep his hold over Dravid for the rest of the series, during which he also bamboozled VVS Laxman; claimed Gautam Gambhir, India's best batsman in the series, three times; and polished off the tail in a trice. Ishant's figures (38 wickets at 31.60 with a strike rate of 61) belie the manner in which bowled and the impact he made. That he took only one wicket in the second innings in Perth was a travesty. But not only was that one wicket the one that mattered, Ishant made Ricky Ponting the world's best batsman (certainly at that point) look like a novice for over an hour. On a slow and low pitch in Galle, he made a ball zip and curve. He remained a menace for Ponting and Australia throughout on dull pitches in the home series. In him, India have found their first genuine quick bowler.

Other prominent playes include MS Dhoni(India's New Captian), Shiv Chanderpaul, Gautam Gambhir, AB De Villers, Hamish Amla, Ricky Ponting and the most important of all - Sakhid Al Hasan. Hasan has been very much instrumental in keeping the name of bangladesh afloat rough waters with a phenomenal year both with the bat and the ball. Bangladesh have been able to challenge New Zealand hard thanks to him. He has been thier best batsman and best bowler this year. He is still 21 and surely has a long way to go.
With this note i am competing this blog. I have tried best to cover most and do remind me if i have forgotten any issues that have been omitted.