Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Got this news from somewhere.
The following is not my own writing:

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Eight-year-old children publish bee study in Royal Society journal

“We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do
stuff that no one has ever done before.”

This is the conclusion of a new paper published in Biology Letters, a
high-powered journal from the UK’s prestigious Royal Society. If its
tone seems unusual, that’s because its authors are children from
Blackawton Primary School in Devon, England. Aged between 8 and 10,
the 25 children have just become the youngest scientists to ever be
published in a Royal Society journal.

Their paper, based on fieldwork carried out in a local churchyard,
describes how bumblebees can learn which flowers to forage from with
more flexibility than anyone had thought. It’s the culmination of a
project called ‘i, scientist’, designed to get students to actually
carry out scientific research themselves. The kids received some
support from Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist at UCL, and David Strudwick,
Blackawton’s head teacher. But the work is all their own.

The class (including Lotto’s son, Misha) came up with their own
questions, devised hypotheses, designed experiments, and analysed
data. They wrote the paper themselves (except for the abstract), and
they drew all the figures with colouring pencils.

It’s a refreshing approach to science education, in that it actually
involves doing science. The practical sessions in modern classrooms
are a poor substitute; they might allow students to get their hands
dirty, but they are a long way from true experiments. Their answers
are already known and they do nothing to simulate the process of
curiosity and discovery that lie at the heart of science. That’s not
the case here. As the children write, “This experiment is important,
because no one in history (including adults) has done this experiment
before.”

Read more (and don't miss the *video*) here
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End of 'not-my-own-writing'.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weight machine.... and bicycle weight.

So ... some bicycles are made so light, and every few gram you shave off the weight of the cycle, especially below 13kg or so, it costs so much more.

Is it really worth it?
Depends on whether you're an athlete needing those few seconds of advantage.

It matters on climbs, but not that much. You could carry a 1litre more water (either in you or in a bottle) and you add a kg to the weight. So it really doesn't matter to lighten a cycle in such expensive ways. For people who aren't feeding their families by winning competitions, at least.

Also at higher speeds, aerodynamics matters more. Just google it.

________________________________________________________________________________

I checked my weight today. Before eating, 60.6 kg. After having noodles and a banana (didn't drink any water yet), I checked the weight again. 61.0 kg. Ah! So the weighing machine really works.


This also shows how small shaving off a few hundred grams from an already light bicycle is.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But too much cycle weight _can_ be a huge problem especially when climbing. I learnt it going to the top of the nandi with my infamously heavy 9 years old hero ranger swing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Nandi ride : My first longish bicycle ride

I went cycling to nandi (on my 9 years old heavy ranger swing bought in school (8th std))

A distance of 119.5 km (round trip distance) (on my companion's cyclocomputer)

My previous distance was a 40km (round trip distance) more than a year ago. (Trip to visit my friend.)


People from Bangalore Bikers Club (BBC) (100+ people rode) and IISc Bikers Network (IBN) (6 of us came out of around 50 members)

Photos - a few I took
http://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=http://picasaweb.google.com/116911111987510094958/NandiBicycleRideAugust12010Sunday02

About the ride on
IBN http://groups.google.com/group/iiscbikersnetwork/browse_thread/thread/edbe42e5647f4200
BBC http://groups.google.co.in/group/bangalore-bikers/web/sunday-august-1st-2010-nandi-hills


I am planning to buy a nice cycle now. I am loving cycling.

A very beautiful thing : http://groups.google.co.in/group/bangalore-bikers/browse_thread/thread/47bdc25e7469a11f

Excerpts from the above link:
"Hard exercise makes you brutally honest with yourself, your excuses, your
weaknesses and your shortcomings. There's no room for bullshit when you're
tiring at kilometre 60 and there are still 40 left to go."

"In a car, it's fun to watch the odometer go from 9,999 to 10,000. On a
bicycle, it's like watching a sunrise. "

"People who are killing themselves with chips on the sofa have no business
telling you how dangerous cycling is. "

"Don't listen to haters. People don't like passion about things they don't
have passion for. Find yourself a group of people--in real life or
online--that understands.

It's okay if this group seems like a bunch of fanatics. Passion is
important, and passion for the right things is increasingly rare. We live in
a world full of people who are passionate about cell phones, laptops, cars,
TV shows and IPL. For God's sake give me someone who can talk about pedals
and headsets all day. "

"On a 100km ride, the halfway mark is about 80km. "

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm reading terence tao's blogs and watched some of his lecture/talk videos from youtube

I came across to Terence Tao's blog from Richard Gardner's pages, through a reference in a paper about Richard Gardner's geometric tomography.

So I was reading up on 'meta information' in Terry's blog, like things about
Enjoying your work
Working hard
Learn the limitations of your tools
Ask yourself dumb questions
Use the wastebasket
Write down what you’ve done
Advice on writing and submitting papers
Continually aim just beyond your current range
Being patient

I want to do this soon:
Making your work available
(so that I am forced to do some work first!! in order to make it available :D
So it's both good for me and good for others too).

I joined GIMPS

The Great Internet Mersenne Prime search!
(http://www.mersenne.org/)

This is a distributed computing thing that machines all over the world, through the internet, find the next biggest mersenne prime. Now I joined it.

My core 2 duo GNU/gentoo laptop runs GIMPS while I read research papers / browse the web and other such things that keep the machine idle.

My username on it is 'gokul'.


Environmental thoughts??

Hmm... with both the virtual CPUs (core 2 duo remember) on my laptop running two GIMPS worker threads, powertop shows some 30W of power consumption.

My idle laptop consumes around 7 to 12W, with the display on.

I guess around 20W extra to find the next biggest mersenne prime is not that much of an environmental sin? What do you think?

Besides some day I could make it up by buying a 100W solar panel (one of my wishes is to buy one).

Worm bin water logging

My worm bin (vermicomposting) wasn't going on well at all. The kitchen garbage didn't seem to be converted to vermicompost at all.
The number of worms also started decreasing. I knew something was wrong but couldn't put my finger on the cause for a long time (more than a month I think.)

Finally I guessed it : too much undrained water. This is the monsoon, so rains almost every other day. And the worm bin is a plastic tub with poor drainage.
So I siphoned out the stagnant water into another bucket (didn't throw out that black water - it'll make great liquid vermi-fertilizer).

And then covered the top of the tub in a better way such that rain wouldn't collect in it.

So that was on the last weekend, and this weekend (2 days later) I'm going home and checking on it and it will hopefully be working good as before.

Edit : Aug 7 2010 : Yes it seems to be working better now - no more water logging and I saw a nice fat healthy worm and lots of others. Haven't checked the worm population though - but feel it should be getting better.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Python challenge is an easy way to get into python

http://www.pythonchallenge.com/

I love this idea! Must be one of the nicest ways to get into a new language.
(I've just begun the challenge now... just finished 3 levels into it)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nice math place!!

http://plus.maths.org/index.html
Quite good i think (haven't explored it much, just found it a few minutes ago.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Learning - some thoughts

* I think you learn better if you are exhilarated (at least excited) about what you're exploring. This is probably because the neurons form better connections when the signals are stronger. (I'm hand waving of course). Also I saw a documentary where people appeared to remember things better under strong stimuli (palms placed on ice blocks)

* Fear / anxiety can cripple creative thinking / free thought (again no proof, just my intuition)