Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 22

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

X is one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century.

clue # 1 : X was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to a family of Sephardic Jews.His brother was a mathematician and an Olympic soccer player who played in the Danish national team.

clue # 2 : X received his doctorate from Copenhagen University and then studied under the famous physicist Ernest Rutherford in the Victoria University of Manchester in England.

clue # 3 :"X" became a professor at the University of Copenhagen and director of the newly constructed "Institute of Theoretical Physics" .One of X's most famous students was Werner Heisenberg, a crucial figure in the development of quantum mechanics, who was also head of the German atomic bomb project during World war II.

clue # 4 : X was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics "for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them".

clue # 5 : During the German occupation of Denmark in World War II and shortly before he was to be arrested by the German police, Bohr escaped to Sweden, and then traveled to the USA.He worked at the secret Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico, USA, on the Manhattan Project, where, according to Richard Feynman, he was known by the assumed name of Nicholas Baker for security reasons.

clue # 6 : After the war he returned to Copenhagen, advocating the peaceful use of nuclear energy.The chemical element with atomic number 107 is named in his honor.

clue # 7 : "X" is widely considered as one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century.His son also became a very successful physicist and like his father, he won a Nobel Prize.

Who is X ?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Vacation in Thailand

I will be away the entire next week on vacation in Thailand. Hence, I would not be updating my blog for the entire week. Will try to post the weekly rainbow quiz tomorrow.

Happy new year everyone ! Hope the new year ushers peace and prosperity to all.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Quake downs the Internet

I realized how hard it is to spend 8 hours in the office without internet access. The earthquake in Taiwan caused massive damage to the undersea Telecom cables and brought to standstill internet access in South east Asia.

IHT says this problem got magnified due to very little content residing in Asia. If you think with Internet, Geography is history . Think again. The US dominates the internet since that is where most of the content still resides.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 21

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

One of the most versatile personalities of the 19th century. What he achieved at such an young age is amazing !

clue # 1 : X was born as a savior to the Kingdom. There was no male heir in the Royal family and the threat of the infamous Doctrine of Lapse loomed over this tiny state.

clue # 2 : He was named after his birth star. X was deeply interested in music right from childhood and tried to learn the languages in which he found good music.

clue # 3 : By the time he was an adult, X was fluent in a number of languages such as Sanskrit,Hindi, Malayalam,Marathi, Telugu,Kannada, Bengali, Tamil , Oriya and English.

clue # 4 : X took over the reins of Y (name of the Kingdom) from his aunt at the age of sixteen and reined as the Maharaja for the next 17 years.

clue # 5 : He was a very progressive ruler. X started an English school in the state and also conducted the first census of the state.X was also instrumental in bringing modern medicine to the state.

clue # 6 : X was a versatile person whose interests ranged from Music , Astronomy, Animal husbandry, Publishing. X started the first Astronomical observatory, Museum ,Zoo , Government Press and Public Library in his Kingdom.

clue # 7 :X encouraged both broad systems of Indian music, Hindustani and Carnatic music, though he was essentially a connoisseur of the Carnatic music tradition. He is credited with composing over 400 compositions in Carnatic music as well as Hindustani music. X unfortunately died at an young age of 33.

Who is X? Name Y.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

20 Million Years and a Farewell - Baiji Dolphin is extinct

Baiji, a white dolphin found in the Yangtze river in China is now officially extinct. I first learnt about the plight of these dolphins in the book " Last Chance to See" by Douglas Adams.

NYT reports, " On Wednesday, an expedition in search of any baiji, run by Chinese biologists and baiji.org, a Swiss foundation, ended empty-handed after six weeks of patrolling its onetime waters in the middle and lower stretches of the river, the baiji’s only known habitat.

For some 20 million years, the baiji, also called the white-flag dolphin, frequented the Yangtze’s sandy shallows, using sonar to catch fish in the silty flow.In the last few decades, the dolphin’s numbers plunged as rapidly as the Chinese economy surged. The Yangtze’s sandy shallows, which the baiji frequented, have largely been dredged for shipping.The baiji sought fish that have been netted or driven from the river by pollution. And its sonar may have been disrupted by the propeller noise from boats above. A 1997 survey counted 13 baiji in the river. None of the dolphins survive in captivity.

On Wednesday, Mr. Pfluger ( of Baiji.org) distributed a news release concluding that the baiji was “functionally extinct.” (Decades must pass before international scientific organizations take the formal step of declaring it officially extinct.)The name of the document was, simply, “The End.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

TIME's person of the year - YOU !

TIME magazine has named "YOU" ( Yes, all of us !) as the "person of the year". As a tribute to the digital democracy ( Blogging, Youtube, Wikipedia etc) , TIME has awarded the person of the year to the millions of bloggers and others users who generate content.

TIME says, " In 2006, the World Wide Web became a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter.

Look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 20

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

He is not just another dot-com billionaire.He is also a powerful social evangelist . Here is my attempt to profile a little known man behind a very famous company.

clue # 1 : X was born in Paris to Iranian parents.X moved to the US at the age of six.

clue # 2 : He graduated in computer science from Tufts University, and joined Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary.

clue # 3 : X was just 28 when he sat down over a long holiday weekend to write the original computer code for what eventually became an Internet superbrand — "Y" (name of the company).

clue # 4 : The site was launched Labor Day, Monday, 4 September 1995, under a different name than from what it is known as today.Needless to say, it revolutionized the internet market place.

clue # 5 : Pursuing the promise to donate all but 1% of his wealth to philanthropy, he started X network. Its stated mission is to "enable individual self-empowerment on a global scale" and employ "business as a tool for social good".

clue # 6 : X recently donated $100 million to Tufts University to launch the X -Tufts Microfinance Fund. The fund is intended to spur economic self-empowerment for the poor in developing countries through microfinancing.

clue # 7 : The motto of his company and his philanthropy foundation are the same. "Empowering people and helping them be the best they can be."

Who is X ? Name Y .

Friday, December 15, 2006

Voices within - New book on Carnatic musicians

Carnatic musicians Bombay Jayshree ( a famous film singer too now) & T.M.Krishna have written a new book titled " Voices within" on seven carnatic musicians who have shaped and defined carnatic music. The book claims to be the first coffee-table book on carnatic music and would be released on Jan 12 ( After the December music season) in Delhi.

Here is Bombay Jayshree talking about it in Outlook.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

India Rising - Video

Titled " India Rising - One billion reasons to care" , this is yet another video clip from ABC on the rise of the India. Enjoy and savor your 7 minutes of patriotic fervor.

Thanks to Bhaskar for the link.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 19

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

Versatility's other name is X. A remarkable human being and thinker. Whenever I think of the city of P---- , his name springs up in my memory.

clue # 1 : X was born Calcutta and did his early schooling in the prestigious Loreto Convent School at Darjeeling.

clue # 2 : At the age of seven, X left for England. In England, X mastered Greek and excelled at Latin and gained a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge University.

clue # 3 : X returned to India in late 19th century and became a leader of the group of Indian nationalists known as the Extremists for their willingness to use violence and advocate outright independence. He was the editor of a nationalist Bengali newspaper "Vande Mataram".

clue # 4 : He became famous when he was arrested in the "Alipore Bomb Case" but was acquitted after a year of trial.He turned into a profound sage and seer while being incarcerated for a year in the Alipore Jail.

clue # 5 : X was a nationalist, freedom fighter, scholar, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, yogi and guru.His metaphysical teaching was balanced by a practical method, called "Integral Yoga".

clue # 6 : His closest collaborator in his yoga was Mirra Richard , also known as " Y" .

clue # 7 : One of the most significant contributions of X to Hinduism was his setting forth an Esoteric meaning of the Vedas.These essays have been condensed as a book form known as “The Secret of the Vedas”.

Who are X & Y ?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Photo of the Week - Lord Muruga, Batu Caves , Malaysia Posted by Picasa

(Click on the photo for a larger view)

This is the Karthigai deepam week. I took this photo at the Sri Subramania swamy devasthanam at Batu Caves (near KL) in Malaysia. This Murugan statue is 140 feet tall. A colossal structure that can be seen from many miles afar.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Oru Kili Uruguthu - Another (forgotten) Illayaraja Gem

Illayaraja's preludes ( The music before the pallavi of a song) and interludes ( The music in-between the pallavi and Charanam) are sheer magic. I happened to listen to the song " Oru Kili Uruguthu urimayil pazhaguthu O maina maina" ( Movie : Anandha Kummi) the other day. The prelude & interludes in this song are mesmerizing. The amazing thing is that though Raja has mostly used western instruments such as Bass, Piano, Drums, Flute, Guitar the interludes sound very much Indian folk.

The song is also unique because its a female duet - between S.Janaki & S.P.Shailaja ( Though I suspect that there is a SPB version as well). Beautiful song. Listen to it here .

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

India Job market Paradox

India is a land of extremes. The "cream" have never had it good . Salaries have been rising ( the highest in APAC) , Jobs are plentiful and lifestyle is on an upswing.

International Herald Tribune reports about the Paradox in job market by looking at the non-elitist colleges which churn out graduates that no one wants to hire. Its sad to read about them.The rampant commercialization of educational institutes ( Where every film star / Politician owns a college), the dearth of talent and outmoded educational methods are adding fuel to the unemployment fire. The embers are hot and they are hurting the poor students.

IHT says, " In the shadow of the elite institutions, most of the 11 million students in the 18,000 Indian colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, heavy on obeisance and light on marketable skills, students, educators and business leaders say. All but a tiny handful of graduates are considered unemployable by top global and local companies.The Indian educational system is locking millions of students in the bottom berth of a two-tier economy, critics argue, depriving the country of the fullest expression of their talents and denying students a chance to share in the fruits of reform.

The problem, experts say, is in a classroom environment that infantilizes students well into their mid-20s, emphasizing silent note-taking and discipline at the expense of analysis, debate and persuasion.Students at second- and third-tier colleges suffer not because of a dearth of technical ability or intelligence, critics note. Most simply lack the "soft skills" sought by a new generation of employers but still not taught by change-resistant colleges: the ability to speak crisp English with a placeless accent, to design and give PowerPoint presentations, to write in logically ordered paragraphs, to work collegially in teams, to grasp the nuances of leadership.

Education experts argue that students are also graduating without the ability to assess problems and find creative solutions, in large part because their professors encourage them to be meek and obsequious."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Rainbow Quiz - Identify the personality - Week 18

Here is the next weekly "Rainbow" quiz , where I would be giving 7 clues (Hence the name Rainbow) about a personality. Try to discover the person in the least number of clues . You can either leave the answer as a comment / email me . Feedback/ suggestions welcome. Googling is not preferred but then its just for fun and so go ahead if you need to.

X is a remarkable sports person. The number ten became immortal thanks to X.

clue # 1 : X was born in Eastern Europe.X's first name means "Hope" in Russian.

clue # 2 : X began practicing sport at the tender age of 6, after coach (world famous) Béla Károlyi spotted X.

clue # 3 : X began competing as a member of her hometown team in early 70's.A year later at the age of 10, X participated in her first international competition winning a team gold.

clue # 4 : X became the star of the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Her "perfect" feat was one of the most memorable moments in sporting history and X became a legend overnight.

clue # 5 : In the late 80's,X defected to the United States to join her former coach who was already famous in the US.

clue # 6 :X received the Olympic Order, the highest award given by the International Olympic Committee, in 1984 and 2004. X is the only person to receive this honor twice, and was also the youngest recipient.

clue # 7 : X is active in many charities and international organizations.X is currently the Vice-Chair of the Board Of Directors of International Special Olympics and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Easy one. Who is X ?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Photo of the Week - Chimpanzee Posted by Picasa

Darwin gets another shot in the arm. Looking at this photo, the human evolution seems so obvious. This is a photograph of a Chimpanzee I took at the Negara Zoo, Malaysia.