Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Astronomy!

                        I have always been drawn to the night sky, or to the sky in general. I grew up in a small town in Maharashtra, and it was a novelty for us kids to have any man-made thing flying overhead! So whenever a 'detouring' jumbojet or a helicopter flew over our town, we used all our efforts to get in the open and have look at it until it disappeared. This curiosity got carried over to the nigh sky as well, which had its own peculer sights; a satellite streaking across, across many stationary stars, seeming as if one of the stars had just decided that it was about time to make a move! We often had electricity cuts and that was the time when the night sky was witnessed in its entire grandeur! The Milky Way which was not often discernible was a beautiful swatch of tiny stars, and we often got to witness a dozen falling stars. I wanted to know more, delve deeper and see deeper into the night.  After enough persuasion, I got my first (and till date the only) telescope! It was a 90 mm reflector (90 mm refers to the diameter of the main mirror, which gathers the light), a modest scope with a tube made up of of PVC plastic! But it did its job - The first sight was of-course the Moon, and was it a marvelous sight! It was as if I was hovering over it, several thousand kilometer! The planets were crisp, especially Jupiter with its extended family (read satellites!) . But the real treat for me was the Sun, thanks to the solar filter which got affixed to the telescope. The Sun was a pale yellow globe, with the sunspots sprinked randomely over its surface - it was magical!
                       My affair with the skies lasted for most of my school years. However, once I started college, this real and enthralling education was taken over by the more mundane and 'theory' oriented one. Astronomy was left far behind. And long after,  I left home for my graduate studies. I ended up with an engineering degree and an MBA - I often wonder why I chose these degrees/education - I am yet to figure that out, and I will need to dedicate a separate blogpost or two for that discussion!
                       But Astronomy has remained in my mind. I have not forgotten that feeling of amazing calm and bewilderment when I used to focus my scope on a farwaay object, like the Orion nebula or even a random piece of sky, and feel connected with something bigger and grander that we can ever imagine! That, plus the cold air of a November night, and the music out of my dad's stereo (often Jagjit Singh with one his beautiful but haunting gazhals) would transform me out of the place.
                        I have continued to read as much as I can on the desperate array of topics that Astronomy covers - my favorite being galaxy formation and evaluation. Its through the detection and study of the earliest galaxies that we are trying to understand what we have termed as the Big Bang. The fact that galaxies are not merely spread out, that they form the so called super structures (google 'Sloan Great Wall' !) which give the known Universe its some what definite shape, is critical to our understating of the observable Universe. I have read through so much stuff, in books and on the net - however, I must admit that this reading has been more on a recreational level, to satiate my hunger for knowing whatever I can - and its not in the strictest sense a study or an academic endeavor, which I would want it to be.
                         If I get a chance, I would like to study Astronomy at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics in Manchester, UK. It comes under the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. The main reason for this choice is their reputation and established research in radio astronomy. Some of the topics researched here include early universe formation, galactic evaluation ,star formation, pulsars as well as gravitational lensing, AGNs (Active Galactic Nucleus galaxies)/quasars. And, the world famous Lovell radio telescope, among others, is situated here! This was for a long time the largest single dish steerable radio telescope in the world! A chance to pursue a post graduate degree or research fellowship here would be a once in the lifetime opportunity to go on a journey of attaining knowledge in one of my favorite areas, get to work and learn with state of the art equipment and the brightest people in this domain and more importantly, self discovery - getting closer to the questions that's been nagging me more or more recently - what is it that I want to make of this life? and Career? May be I'll find the answers while peeking  deep within a molecular cloud, or in the vicinity of a central massive blackhole!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Random

What we feel defines us is not that actual. Its a reflection of how others have reacted to us throughout our life. Their reactions do not necessarily justify our behaviours.
Circumstances shape our reflexes, but over time, we like to behave in that manner, despite better or different circumstances.
The child like spontaneity is lost as we grow up. We use our memory to manipulate our actions, holding grudges and tagging people.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, January 27, 2012

Drive


Ryan Gosling, 'the driver'
I had read a lot of good things about Drive so was excited as the movie started.
The opening scene is quite edgy, where the driver helps a couple of robbers get away from a score, avoiding police cars and helicopters! There are very few lines spoken on screen for the first 10 minutes. The driver is a quiet man, man of action.
From there on, the movie flattens out. I was expecting another score that the driver takes on, but instead he meets a young mother and her son who stay next doors. He seems to enjoy the company and starts caring for them. We learn that the driver works at a garage and and as a stuntman for movies, while moonlighting as a getaway driver by night. His boss at the garage borrows money from a mob boss to fund a race car which he thinks, with the driver behind the wheels, shall reap in the greens.
The driver decides to help out the woman's husband, who, while in jail, has gotten into some trouble with some Albanian gang over protection money. So they tell him to rob a pawn shop. But the score goes wrong, when the man is double crossed. It turns out the mob boss had planned the double cross from the beginning, hiring the Albanians for the job. From here on, the film turns violent. The driver is capable of killing with his bare hands, or with any accessories available. He wants to protect the woman and the kid at any cost. Eventually, he annihilates the mob boss and his gang and the Albanians and gets hurt pretty bad in the process. He leaves.

The film is stylish and colourful, with minimum dialogues but rich visuals. The lack of words, it seems, is compensated by the violent encounters and a few car chases.
The violence is quite in the face, real, 'you want to look away but also want to see how it looks' kind.

Its about a getaway driver, a character otherwise not given much focus in many plots. The camera doesn't follow the man who robs the store, but stays with the driver, getting a little anxious with every passing minute.

'Drive' reminded me of 'A History of Violence', mainly due to the violence and similarities between the lead characters - the hidden killing streak, an inclination to live better, simpler lives and a violent past (which is not shown in 'Drive', but implied in my opinion).

I was expecting a more complicated plot, but the movie 'stays' with the driver, his perspective. (Its also based on a novel and stays close to the original course I guess)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Summer is here!

It fascinates me how every season has its own 'sound'. The ceiling fan sounds very distinct in summer; it is afternoon and the fan's whooshing is the only sound against the hushed backdrop of the very quiet noon; the roads are deserted, may be a hawker selling early mangoes or a scrap vendor, but that's all. Now imagine the same ceiling fan on a December afternoon, well firstly, in all possibility it won't be on! But even if it were, it won't be the only thing making noise. The street would be more lively, for the Sun is as meek as it can be high in the sky. There would also be a certain liveliness in the air, the winter kind.
Then there is the cloudy monsoon afternoon, air bursting with a million possibilities, in the mind there is a longing for something romantic, but also a cup of coffee! This kind of afternoon also has birds going berserk over god knows what, but they are happy just to be flying around in the cool air I guess.
It's an amazing feeling when one day you notice these subtle differences and know that a season has 'arrived'. It changes the way a room feels in the house, it changes the coziness of the couch, and of the mind too!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The small picture

The units were all excited. It was for the first time that they were being placed individually. The arrangement ensured there was no mass transfer, which usually resulted in loss of billions of units. The Great Arm worked tirelessly, picking each unit carefully and placing it at the right spot.

The scientists waited patiently. The first shift in the new factory was in process. It could not be seen, for it was almost smaller than the light waves that otherwise would have reflected back. The factory was creating the first surgical battleship, a nano robotic device that was capable of destroying cancer cells. The factory itself was a result of high precision microscopic engineering, a giant leap at atomic scale, a beautiful creation to move and arrange the building blocks of the universe. At this scale, the only way to 'see' was through magnetic resonance, vibrating the tiny particles and converting the response into imagery output.

Each unit is a molecule. It is a whole new world, like a solar system. It is the genesis of all. Now the units were in place, ready to work magic, achieve huge feats at tiny scale, which would enormously impact the world we live in.

Right Write

Its been a while but here i am, in a train, using the mobile to write this stuff! A four hours train journey is a lot of time on hand, and who wants to look at the ppt again and again? No point in draining the lappy's battery. I really need to start writing again. Lately, there is that feeling of not having anything to write about, why, even at this moment i feel so. It was different in college, may be it was more stimulating than now. The somewhat mundane nature of the job kills the interesting ideas that used to flood the brain and rush up to the finger tips and on to the keyboard! So its more than ever necessary to keep writing now and then, just to avoid rusting the grey cells.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The journey

Higher is better. Nothing is promised when you aim low.

A creek so clear

It’s almost see thru

Thirst, the taste of dust

I forget what I came thru


The desert was a spell

Its sky a millions watts

The reasons not known

I, burning, without a hat


Hope alone weighed a ton

A burden not be undone

This weight, I egged on

Slow march, in to the dawn


The scenes changed slowly

Something new, a river valley

Moist, cool, green shine

I’m Here, its pretty, alpine!