Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wanderers

"Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars." - Carl Sagan


Wanderers - a short film by Erik Wernquist from Erik Wernquist on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

SS: Awesome Disney Fan-art with a Twist

I'm a humungous fan of Disney, and one of my favourite things to see on the web is a twist on Disney characters by talented artists.



-- There's steampunk Disney:







-- Stained glass Disney:




-- What Disney princesses may look like in real life:

 


-- And Disney princesses in modern day clothes:







Damn, I wish I was even one-fourth as good as these artists.

Friday, August 22, 2014

FF: 5 Movies to Procrastinate With

I am an excellent procrastinator.  I've happily been binge watching different tv shows and movies.  I thought I'd spread the procrastination by sharing some of the movies that struck my fancy.



 1) The Man From Earth. An absolute must-watch for anyone who loves books, history, and artistic films.  You should experience it the way I did -- I had no idea what it was about, I just put it on. This is the only movie I suggest you don't look up before watching. I think the plot itself is a big spoiler. This is one of my favourite movies now. Watch it continuously, as it consists of a long conversation. So don't let anyone disturb you!

2) In Bruges. Refreshing and twisted. It's dark drama ribboned with comedic relief.

3) The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's again refreshing and twisted, but in a very popular sense, and with well-known actors. But don't let it's popularity turn you off before you give it a shot.

4) Chocolat. The Johnny Depp movie that makes you crave chocolate like a bitch. It's very artsy. Also Dame Judy Dench is in it and I LOVE her!

5) Primer. Sci-fi, but not the blatant space travel kind. It's about four entrepreneurs and an invention.

I'm open to more recommendations.  No one can get enough of this stuff!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

O Captain My Captain

I'm very deeply affected by the suicide of a prominent childhood figure of mine: Robin Williams.  For a while I wondered why, because I normally don't have such reactions to actors. 

And then it hit me.  Robin Williams was one of the most funny, dynamic, colourful personalities out there.  And he was depressed.  It makes me so sad, and almost sick to think that the collective love directed towards him by people all over the world wasn't enough to protect him from depression. Depression's hold is too strong.

What's worse is that it's still a taboo today.  Depression is incredibly underrated, and wrongly considered a weakness. People feel the need to hide behind masks of humour and cheerfulness.  I don't blame them. The world is harsh and judgmental.  

This picture that's making its way around Twitter is so true:



There's a great article on Cracked.com about funny people battling depression: Robin Williams and Why Funny People Kill Themselves.  It's well worth a read.

One particular comment to this article really stood out:


"They're afraid that the moment the laughter stops, all that's left is that gross, awkward kid everyone hated on the playground, the one they've been hiding behind bricks all their adult life."

You couldn't have put it any better, man. If you stop and think about it, how many times is the "funny guy" in the room the one that doesn't want the party to end? The one who convinces you to have one more beer, listen to one more song, play one more hand of cards? It's because we know that once the party's over, once everyone goes home and goes on with their lives, we have to be alone with ourselves, and for a lot of us that's scary as hell. I was wondering why I was taking a celebrity death so hard when I normally don't give them a second thought, and now I think I know. Thanks for this.

There are so many people even in my own life to whom I wish I could explain that mental stress and troubles should not be looked as scoff-able weaknesses, but as something to be handled with understanding, love and support.  Way too many think that depression means craziness.  

The only thing I can say to them is: Look out for the people who open up to you.  If someone exposes their vulnerabilities, treat them with care not condescension.  And lots of love!





Rest in peace, dearest Genie.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SS - Kiddie Arts

There's an artist in the Netherlands with a fantastic idea.  Telmo Pieper picked up creatures he drew in his childhood and brought them to life.



These two are my favourites. I can't get over how awesome they are.  

More of his 'Kiddie Arts' can be found here.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Science and Cats and Shenanigans, oh my!

As much as I enjoy blogging, I am a terrible blogger. My last post was in November, about my acquiring a cat. Arya came into my life, and I promptly disappeared (at least from this place on the web).  So, I completely blame her. Not that I'm going to tell her, of course. She spends way too much time complaining about me on the web anyway, on her own little humour blog: Catomic Theory


It's her diary of sorts, and it's been keeping me busy.

Apart from all things cat, I've been writing science articles on Function Space.

I've begun a series on soft computing, which has so far touched fuzzy logic and evolutionary computing.

Soft Computing: Introduction to Fuzzy Set Theory
Soft Computing 2: Fuzzy Rules
Soft Computing 3: Fuzzy Systems
Soft Computing 4: Introduction to Evolutionary Algorithms

There's an ongoing series on quantum computing too.

Quantum Computing: Introduction to Qubits
Quantum Computing: Concepts and Multiple Qubits
Quantum Computing: Entanglement and Non-locality

There are a couple of general ones as well, with which I hope to pique your interest in science:-



On the Black Hole Firewall Paradox - If you were to fall into a black hole, would you be crushed or burned?

The Nano Brain - A powerful conceptual device inspired by the parallel processing our own brains perform.

Apart from all things science, I've been devouring Doctor Who and stationery.  I made a little Tardis for Arya:


Moved to a new apartment and promptly set up my notebook collection among other things, before any of the other necessities:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Winter is coming...

...so I got me an Arya:



Her middle name is Tempus -- Latin for 'time'. It covers three of my loves: Doctor Who, Wheel of Time, and mythology.

Once she got used to her new home, she went around claiming spots. She was all: "By the way, this is mine. And this. And this."


Her absolute favourite spot is the chair at my desk.  That basically means I end up having to wrestle a highly stubborn and not at all amused kitteh every time I want to work.

I usually lose:



I have sliding glass front doors. Every morning I open them, leaving just the net doors shut for a bit of fresh air. When I did this for the first time, she sat and stared at it for an eternity. I could hear her mentally screaming "SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT OMG I MUST FIGURE THIS OUT!" Then she decided to investigate:



And gave me a sheepish, derpy look when she realized I was watching her:



Arya thinks she's fabulous at hide-and-seek:



She also thinks she's Spiderman:



From time to time she remembers that she's a cat, and shows signs of the Cardboard Box Obsession of her people:



Even though she mostly pretends to be a fearless know-it-all, she does need reassuring once in a while. Watching Disney's 101 Dalmations was a terrifying experience, and required warm towels and lots of snuggles:



She's quite a fiesty little fighter.  I was actually quite proud when she gave the vet's assistant a good bite in self-defense.  Yes, I know I shouldn't have been, but I was.  My little girl takes after her namesake

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Do I Study Physics?

Hey, do you mind if I tell you a story? One you might not have heard. All the elements in your body were forged many, many millions of years ago, in the heart of a far away star that exploded and died. That explosion scattered those elements across the desolations of deep space. After so, so many millions of years, these elements came together to form new stars and new planets. And on and on it went. The elements came together and burst apart, forming shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings. Until eventually, they came together to make you. You are unique in the universe. There is only one [you]. And there will never be another. Getting rid of that existence isn't a sacrifice. It is a waste.
- The Doctor

There's so much beauty in the clockwork of the universe, that I wonder why more people don't just stop rushing through their lives and take a look around.  We exist and tick along only because certain constants are fixed at certain values, certain fundamental interactions have certain strengths, and certain events took place at certain points in space-time.  If any of these were even slightly altered, the universe would be very different!  

For instance, if gravity were stronger, stellar interiors would be hotter than they are now.  There's a chance that stars would burn out too soon for life to develop. On the other hand, if gravity were weaker, there would be no clumped matter, and therefore, no us.

The beauty of the complex grid of laws that dictate our universe is precisely why I study physics.  

This video explains it wonderfully:



Why Do I Study Physics? (2013) from Xiangjun Shi on Vimeo.


If you want more proof of how glorious physics is, read physicist Richard Feynman's autobiographical Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and be inspired!


Friday, October 25, 2013

FF - 5 Sexy Bookish Links

You know what's sexy? I mean downright ye gods giggity sexy? Bookshelves. And notebooks. Hell yes.

It is no secret that I have a notebook collection.  Here are some pictures of it.





I apologise for the poor picture quality.  I don't apologise for making you feel like a muggle compared to the awesomeness that is a notebook collection on friggin display!

And yes, that's the 11th Doctor's sonic screwdriver on my shelf. Along with a Wheel of Time card deck. And a dagger.

If you're into books and libraries and shelves and notebooks and awesomeness the way I am, check these out:

1. Bookshelf Porn
2. Letternote - (I have three of their notebooks)
3. Bookcase Porn
4. Lifehacker article on the best paper notebooks
5. 62 of the World's Most Beautiful Libraries

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Diet Based on Blood Type?

It's been brought to my attention that a diet based on blood type is becoming a popular trend. Reading about health is a new obsession of mine, and the thought that blood type affects one's health seemed logical -- even believable.
Intrigued, I looked it up.

These articles pretty much sum up the diet:


The claims seemed fairly plausible, so I decided to take a look at food charts like this one, to see which foods have been labelled as 'helpful' or 'harmful' for different blood types.  I'm an O+.

However...
My research on the topic hasn't dug up any extensive scientific studies to validate these tables.  As far as I'm concerned, this is a glaring turn-off. I've actually been skeptical about this diet ever since I read that cinnamon is harmful for type O. Cinnamon has a lot of healing properties and has been used in Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, home remedies, and other areas of alternative medicine for a long time.  Considering that type O is the most common blood type, wouldn't the use of cinnamon have been observed to be adverse, or at the very least ineffective? It wouldn't be such a common healer. That in itself sets off the alarm bells in my head.  While I do feel that blood type logically makes at least a bit of difference to one's diet (and I've already implemented a couple of minor cautions), I feel more thorough research absolutely needs to be done.

For those of you who want to follow this diet, I suggest you make sure you're not leaving out essential nutrients (eg: calcium in dairy) in your eating regime. And take what you read with a pinch of salt.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nerding Out

So, a good friend of mine went to CERN and I gave him instructions to kiss ALICE for me. ALICE is one of the four LHC experiments, and I've had the privilege to work with the ALICE group for a year in Kolkata, India. Unfortunately, while I've met many people from CERN and interacted with them through video/voice e-meetings, I never did get to visit!


He sent me this:






This, ladies and gentlemen, is ALICE.  She's bloody beautiful.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dear Fantasy, I think we need a break.

Just to clarify, this does mean that I can sleep with other genres.



I'm so sorry. I never thought I'd ever say this. Not in a million years.  But today, I finished The Book Thief, and I was left with this deep, carnal desire to learn more about the world I actually do live in. Though this book was about a fictional German Christian girl, it took place in Nazi Germany, and shed light on the atrocities from a different perspective than that of the Jewish people: the only perspective I'd read about up until now.  It both horrified and fascinated me.

I read the last chapter listening to violin music, sitting at the edge of my bed, biting my finger, thinking about the German families that were involuntarily torn apart during the war. And I want to know more. I am not ashamed to say that I acquired Mein Kampf behind your back.  I want to read it, to get into the mind of someone who could propagate such monstrosity.

Apart from that, I have collected at least 15 other non-fiction books in the past week.  And no, before you ask, none were related to science.  I know you've always been tolerant with my occasional flings with the likes of The Tao of Physics, Decoding Reality and Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman. But these are real-life accounts with real-life people.

I'll be looking at historical fiction and perhaps alternative history as well.  Not alternative history like your Kushiel's Dart.  As much as I loved it, there was still you stamped across it.  I began Red Plenty today.  In a few days, I imagine I'll know more about the Soviet Union than I ever thought I'd care to.

Don't worry, I won't be gone for good.  I still religiously wear the One Ring and the Great Serpent ring you gave me years ago. Just today, I put a Slytherin Quidditch team poster up on my wall.  But I am, frankly, bored and restless.  I couldn't even make it through Tigana, which according to a number of people whose tastes I share, is amazing.  The Alloy of Law was a bit of a let down, and that was disappointing, because Brandon Sanderson is one of my all-time favourite authors.   The Lies of Locke Lamora was surprisingly lovely, but I really did take way too long to finish it.  Under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be able to put down one of your good pieces.  

So, yes, my dear genre.  I'm calling it off for now.  The only thing really left for me to say is: