Dinosaurs

My colleaue sometimes brought his five year old son to the lab. The kid was very much into Dinosaurs, so he would generally arrange his toys on the table, bring out drawing pads and proceed to make amazing sketches.

I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoy kidding with the kids. So once I asked, “will the T-rex eat the Stegosaurus?”. The kid gravely replied “T rex lived in Cretaceous while Stegosaurus lived in Jurasic, so that is not possible”. I rightfully felt put to my place, no kidding.

Life with a kitbag

Years ago, as a college student, I took part in multiple NCC camps. It did actually shape quite a bit of my thinking and interactions. I was a highly introvert teenager, happy with her books and 2-3 close friends. Reading always felt much better than talking to people. Then I attended a summer camp for preparation of the republic day parade in Delhi.

It was a tough schedule, waking up early, Stealing tools from the next tent to align ours better, parle-G buicuits (too many packs, I took about a dozen home), music practice late in the night. I take pride in the fact that I participated in a singing competition and came third (leaving out the fact that there were 3 competitors).

However a highly interesting part was, how complete strangers become friends. How conversations were initiated abruptly yet with ease. How my classmate, who was a below average student, shined as an amazing human being carrying extra work load and helping out sick people.

My appreciation for “Catch-22” relies quite a bit on my NCC experience.

Knowledge sets you free

My highschool emblem had this Sanskrit quote “Sa Vidya, Ya Vimuktaye”. I have found this to be quite true in my life.

So when Wiemann talks about “the curse of knowledge” (why intuition about teaching often fails) I was intrigued. I started reading and realised what he actually means is not “the curse of knowledge”, it is more about “the curse of lack of knowledge”. I MAINTAIN, knowledge, with the right people, can work wonders.

Mathematicians: Sofya Kowalevskya

I often ask students, if you practice hard enough, will you be able to control a coin-toss? If yes, why is batting order decided by a coin-toss? If not, why not?, is not rigid body dynamics, ruled by Newton’s laws?

A part answer to that comes from the work of Sofya Kowalevskya, from her analysis of the differential equations that govern the rotation of rigid bodies.

What is all the more interesting is that essentially the same equations govern the roll of a dice of spin of a sattelite.

Her work has a quality of “mysterious” about it because she used a conjecture (unproven theorem) to get a set of solvable systems, without actually solving them. Now if the last statement has made you furious, I am sorry, the full story is very long, so some other time and some other place.