Sunday, April 24, 2016

From Prefaces - 2

Kip Thorne in the preface of The Science of Interstellar:

As a child and later as a teenager, I was motivated to become a scientist by reading science fiction by Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and others, and popular science books by Asimov and the physicist George Gamow. To them I owe so much. I've long wanted to repay that debt by passing their message on to the next generation....I've had a half-century-long career as a scientist. It's been joyously fun(most of the time), and has given me a powerful perspective on our world and the universe.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

From Prefaces - 1

(Dear Readers, I just got up after a long hiatus. Hope you are happy to have me back. - Shencottah)

Books have prefaces. At times, we get inspiration from a couple of lines in the preface. Few lines make us laugh. Some words make us wonder. Occasionally, some do incite us. I am planning to give a sample of those words in this 'From Prefaces'  series.

Welcome to the world of prefaces.

From the preface of Phenomenal Physics by Clifford E. Swartz:

"... No doubt some errors may remain. Blame me, or better yet, let me know and I will try to correct the error. After thirty years of teaching physics, I still find lots of things that I didn't know I didn't know before. I hope that most of you who read this book are doing it because you want to learn more about our world. Some, I know, are taking physics only to fulfill some requirement. In either case, I hope you end up enjoying the book and the course work. We live in a mysterious and phenomenal universe, and, as far as we know, we're the only ones around who can comprehend it..."

Friday, July 05, 2013

Two Mothers

Two Mothers and other stories by Khalid Mohamed

Publisher: Om Books International

I have just started reading this book. The book dedication reads thus,

Fayazi ma for telling me stories without an end...

Stories without a beginning and an end are quite sweet and self-cleansing. Just like how you feel when you wake up from sleep while travelling by train in the middle of a hot afternoon. No idea of what went past and what is coming. You see only a distant mountain and near-by fields but everything is passing out of the window. You keep watching from your little window.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Display of Ignorance

The New Indian Express (and many other newspapers too, Link to The Hindu item) reported on 26th January, 2012:
According to Markandey Katju, till recently a Supreme Court judge, Salman Rushdie is a "poor" and "substandard writer" who would have remained largely unknown but for his controversial book Satanic Verses.
Labeling a writer as poor and substandard is based on one's personal yardstick and quality measures.  No problem there. What strikes me here is "remained largely unknown but for"!! Is it right to conclude that one displays ignorance when factually not-correct things are mixed with subjective opinions to create media-ripples? Mr. Katju is also the chairman, Press Council of India.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Links

1. How to identify people by place names? For example, Indian, Annapolitan, etc.

2. The Great Bank Robbery by Taleb and Spitznagel:

3. Financial Complexity at the Aleph Blog:

4. Debate between Paul Krugman and Steve Landsburg.

5. Mathematics and it effect on communications:

6. Did Einstein discover E=mc2?

7. Mankiw's 10 principles of Economics:

8. Questions and Answers at The Chicago Manual of Style Online:

9. On popularity of data analysis software.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

The style sheet Hemingway appreciated

Hemingway told a reporter in 1940,"...the best rules I ever learned for business of writing." (about the style sheet of the Kansas City Star)

Few of those rules:

  • Use short sentences.
  • Use short first paragraphs.
  • Eliminate every superfluous word
  • Be careful of the word “also.”
  • Be careful of the word “only.”

Hat tip:

Hemingway's page at Kansas City Star:

Style Sheet:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Final journey: Guiding to the Burrow

From :
( You may want to read first before watching ) known for its unusual reproductive behavior, which involves stinging a cockroach and using it as a host for its larvae...

...A 2003 study[2] using radioactive labeling demonstrated that the wasp stings precisely into specific ganglia of the roach. It delivers an initial sting to a thoracic ganglion and injects venom to mildly and reversibly paralyze the front legs of its victim. This facilitates the second venomous sting at a carefully chosen spot in the roach's head ganglia (brain), in the section that controls the escape reflex...

...The wasp proceeds to chew off half of each of the roach's antennae.[1] Researchers believe that the wasp chews off the antenna to replenish fluids or possibly to regulate the amount of venom because too much could kill and too little would let the victim recover before the larva has grown. The wasp, which is too small to carry the roach, then leads the victim to the wasp's burrow, by pulling one of the roach's antennae in a manner similar to a leash. Once they reach the burrow, the wasp lays a white egg, about 2 mm long, on the roach's abdomen. It then exits and proceeds to fill in the burrow entrance with pebbles, more to keep other predators out than to keep the roach in...

(Hat tip to DR)


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Writing Tips from Maria Gardiner & Hugh Kearns

From the article of Maria Gardiner & Hugh Kearns in Nature:

  1. Write before you feel ready — because you might never feel ready. It's amazing how people magically feel ready when there is an imminent deadline.
  2. Don't wait to have a clear picture of the paper. As you start putting down your ideas, you may actually clarify them.
  3. Snack write — work in short, frequent bursts instead of waiting to sit down for big blocks of time. Those blocks hardly ever come, and when they do, they don't usually get used very productively.
  4. Set specific times in your schedule for writing — don't leave it to chance, because chances are it won't happen.
  5. Writing means putting new words on the page or substantially rewriting old words. It does not mean editing, reading, referencing or formatting — and it definitely does not mean composing e-mails.
  6. If you refrain from writing because you worry that what you write won't be good enough, try noting the adage that to write well, you first have to write.
  7. To really increase the quality and quantity of your writing, get feedback from mentors and colleagues — it can be painful, but it works.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011