Sunday, January 21, 2018

Right, once Again!

'Career Choices of Female Engineers' by National Academy of Sciences, is a report, which proves my argument of the unsure nature of the male, once again. Here it says, despite decades of government, university, and employer efforts, there exist a gender gap in engineering. And that women make up only 11 percent of practicing engineers in the United States.
The report goes deeper into the likely causes of such things becoming gender dependent. It cites greater likelihood of women selecting management and other streams of engineering that promises wider interactions with others, while men giving preference to technologically harder areas of patenting and fieldwork.
 This substantiates my view that it is the frequent exposition to changes in the working environment, which attracts the male. And the familiar ambience of human oriented transactions keeps the females tied to their choice.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Review: Hyperspace

HYPERSPACE: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension by Michio Kaku is about the impending defeat of common-sense theories of three or four dimensions and the victory of the theory of hyperspace. And it makes available, for the first time, a scientifically authoritative but accessible account of the current fascinating research on hyperspace. 

Part I gives an insight into the early history of hyperspace, emphasizing the theme that the laws of nature become simpler and more elegant when expressed in higher dimensions. Consequently, the rather obscure laws of the weather are easy to understand once we view the earth from space, and we see that the laws of light and gravity become simpler in five dimensions. 
Part II contnues with the flow, further elaborate on this simple idea. Emphasizing that the hyperspace theory may be able to unify all known laws of nature into one theory. Why the basic forces that hold together the cosmos, gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces differ so greatly, and how the hyperspace theory allows the possibility of explaining the four forces of nature as well as the seemingly random collection of subatomic particles in an elegant manner. That  everything we see around us, from the trees and mountains to the stars themselves, are nothing but vibrations in hyperspace.
Part III brings up even more concepts to make it further clear, introducing vagaries of an expanding universe. Like wormholes, parallel universes and their collissions. And exploring the possibility that, under extreme circumstances, space may be stretched until it rips or tears. 
Part IV concludes with a final, practical question and discussions, about the fate of the universe. If the theory is proved correct, then when will we be able to harness the power of the hyperspace theory? 
I think the book makes a good beginning to explore the intriguing but speculative scientific question of what level of technology is necessary for us to become masters of hyperspace. 
As usual, Michio Kaku has presented a complex sounding subject in a platter. I relished it.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Review: Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos

Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: by Committee on the Physics of the Universe, National Research Council
Connecting Quarks with the Cosmos: Eleven Science Questions for the New Century is a study encompassing astrophysical phenomena that give insight into fundamental physics as well as fundamental physics that is relevant to understanding astrophysical phenomena and the structure and evolution of the universe. The study team identified 11 questions and soliciting ideas from the community, prepared the answers for each, as given below.
-What Is Dark Matter?
We know that the objects in the universe are held together by a form of matter different from what we are made of and that gives off no light. Does this matter consist of one or more as-yet-undiscovered elementary particles, and aggregations of it produce the gravitational pull leading to the formation of galaxies and large-scale structures in the universe?
-What Is the Nature of Dark Energy?
We know that the expansion of the universe is speeding up rather than slowing down. This contradicts the fundamental idea that gravity is always attractive. It calls for the presence of a form of energy, dubbed “dark energy,” whose gravity is repulsive and whose nature determines the destiny of our universe.
-How Did the Universe Begin?
We think that during its earliest moments the universe underwent a tremendous burst of expansion, known as inflation. The underlying physical cause of this inflation is a mystery.
-Did Einstein Have the Last Word on Gravity?
Black holes are ubiquitous in the universe, and their intense gravity can be explored further. 
-What Are the Masses of the Neutrinos, and How Have They Shaped the Evolution of the Universe?
We think of neutrinos as abundantly present in the universe today. Physicists have found evidence that they have a small mass, which implies that cosmic neutrinos account for as much mass as do stars. The pattern of neutrino masses can reveal much about how nature’s forces are unified, how the elements in the periodic table were made, and possibly even the origin of ordinary matter.
-How Do Cosmic Accelerators Work and What Are They Accelerating?
We are seeing an amazing variety of energetic phenomena in the universe, including beams of particles of unexpectedly high energy but of unknown origin. In laboratory accelerators, we can produce beams of energetic particles, but the energy of these cosmic beams far exceeds any energies produced on Earth.
-Are Protons Unstable?
The matter of which we are made is the tiny residue of the annihilation of matter and antimatter that emerged from the earliest universe, and in not-quite-equal amounts. The existence of this tiny imbalance may be tied to a hypothesized instability of protons, the simplest form of matter, and to a slight preference for the formation of matter over antimatter built into the laws of physics.
-What Are the New States of Matter at Exceedingly High Density and Temperature?
The theory of how protons and neutrons form the atomic nuclei of the chemical elements is well developed. At higher densities, neutrons and protons may dissolve into an undifferentiated soup of quarks and gluons, which can be probed in heavy-ion accelerators. Densities beyond nuclear densities occur and can be probed in neutron stars, and still higher densities and temperatures existed in the early universe.
-Are There Additional Space-Time Dimensions?
In trying to extend Einstein’s theory and to understand the quantum nature of gravity, particle physicists have posited the existence of space time dimensions beyond those that we know. Their existence could have implications for the birth and evolution of the universe, could affect the interactions of the fundamental particles, and could alter the force of gravity at short distances.
-How Were the Elements from Iron to Uranium Made?
Scientists’ understanding of the production of elements up to iron in stars and supernovae is fairly complete. Important details concerning the production of the elements from iron to uranium remain puzzling.
-Is a New Theory of Matter and Light Needed at the Highest Energies?
Matter and radiation in the laboratory appear to be extraordinarily well described by the laws of quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, and their unification as quantum electrodynamics. The universe presents us with places and objects, such as neutron stars and the sources of gamma ray bursts, where the conditions are far more extreme than anything we can reproduce on Earth that can be used to test these basic theories.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

True Prediction?

Another progressive state is choosing to go more illiberal. One more proof that we are moving forward to the 'age of the irrational', especially when this is read along with the freedom, Saudi Arabia is going to let her female population enjoy.  
"It’s ugly and on the rise; and it’s hard to see how it can end well. The global rise of conservative nationalism with the aim of creating “national communities” – directed by an unchallengeable leader to defend special national values, controlling borders against the virus of immigrants and “foreign” influence – is the menace of our times."..

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: Thinking Skills

Thinking Skills: Using Your Brain in the Information Age by Eric Garner is an interesting book. It lays bare the art, craft, and the popular tools of thinking, familiarizing us with the benefits and pitfalls one can come across. It goes on to discuss seven pragmatic ways to enhance one capacity to recollect events, followed by a review of major obstacles to effective thinking. Tips like 'Don’t have a monopoly on how things are', 'Things aren't always what they seem', 'Culturally accepted ways of thinking can sometimes limit us to thinking in familiar ways', or 'Be ready to consider other points of view', add value to its reader-friendly nature. Next chapter examines the logical approach to thinking, which more or less denotes the state of the art. Left brain thinking, Right brain thinking, Managerial views, SMART goals, Conscious and the Subconscious are some of the areas covered here. The discussion goes on to examine other facets, like creativity, curiosity, out of the box ideas, lack of logic, enlightenment, humor, and irreverence.
 Then discussed are some of the ways to implement thinking. Like brain storming, sleeping over a problem, or Occam's Razor.
This is a short, valuable guide about thinking. Especially in this Information Age, where brain has replaced brawn, and strength in thinking has replaced strength in muscles. 
No matter what kind of business, one work for, nor what kind of job one does, today one is expected to apply a range of  thinking skills to the work, including using one's judgment; collecting, using, and analyzing information; and being creative about how one can function better.
This book covers all of these skills. It can enable one to develop thinking skills to meet the needs of the modern world.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Tryst with Auditing

My tryst with auditing
The best experiences I carry with me are not the ones of direct connection with the job I did, but the many instances of confrontation, I happened to land with. Though none of these had anything to do with my primary job of maintaining  aircraft, these had everything to do with other things that could have had a contributory effect.
One of the earliest instances where we had to exhibit qualities of leadership or management is when we had to act as 'divisional officers', where we need to provide all kinds of assistance to all those, who are assigned to each of us. One such occasion occurred when one of my subordinates injured himself. He at night. and in half asleep, (perhaps had one too many) went to relieve himself and happened to slip and fall in to the toilet. He got hurt, head hitting the wash basin, mirror etc, leading to prolonged hospitalization. In time, I had to raise an injury report for 'regularizing' this injury, a questionnaire. "Was the person in the performance of a duty, the non performance of which would have attracted penal action - Yes/No", and a few more of such questions. I answered "Yes" to the first one, and other questions also in such a way that this will get considered as an 'authorized' injury, permitting the individual to be treated at government expense.
Years later, when I was working in a different unit, I get a letter forwarded from the old unit with a remark "Please tell me how to answer the auditor's query, since you are the person who was here at that time". The query was about the above mentioned injury report, which read, "Please provide explanatory remarks in support of your answer 'Yes'". I think my reply was, "Had the individual not gone to the toilet to perform whatever was one's call at that time, it would have attracted disciplinary action".
The reply worked. And I liked the process involved in formulating a neutral reply to a rather vexing issue, and volunteered to 'draft' replies for such audit objections.
My interest in producing literary gems, in a working environment that is at home with relatively routine affairs, got kindled, when I was made the president of a BOI. For, every board of inquiry needs to have, in addition to the record of investigations done and, the conclusions and decisions produced as a result, comprehensive recommendations to obviate the possibility of the incident(s) occurring again.
I shall begin with my first experience, which happened during my initial training period. The incident in question was not very abnormal, I think. Our station had a piggery and poultry farm, which in that particular year incurred a loss. The amount of loss being more than what could have been 'regularized' locally, an inquiry was called for. The board, which was presided by VW Karve, an officer with a great sense of humor and brimming with self confidence, came to the conclusion that the loss primarily was caused by the disappearance of a large number of pigs during the recent bout of inclement weather, even though those responsible for running the farm did take necessary precautions.
Thereafter, interesting opportunities kept coming to me while carrying out various duties of aircraft maintenance. Sometimes it would be of loss of expensive machinery owing to transit damage, where, in the absence of a clear proof of failure of any particular agency, one needs to justify the occurrence of a loss. More often, it would a matter of under-utilization and rusting of very costly equipments due to things like bureaucratic delay, governmental shake-up, or shift in priority. Where, certain essential parts or facilities needed for incorporating such technology might not have been ready in time. Here, one has to paint it as a missing link, without making a specific blame. Since, none of the connected agencies would have been showing an identifiable instance of failure.
The comprehensive recommendations that forms the part of each report, I learned, is a place where effective, intelligent, and imaginative, remedies can be suggested for curing the prevalent ills. Each BOI being devoted to a specific instance of say, organizational failure, and members of each such board having expertise in different areas of failure, such recommendations can be seen as an effective cure for such ills.
I found this a fertile ground to let loose one's imagination and exercise one's linguistic talents, historical and philosophical acumen, and to produce documents to keep the decision-makers engrossed for days.
I also learned over time, any reply with a semblance of logic would have worked. Those making queries, do so, primarily, to justify and keep their significance intact and the organization relevant.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Book Review: Rules for Radicals

 What I have to say in this book is not about the arrogance of unsolicited advice. It is about the experience and counsel that so many young people naturally show an inclination for.  "The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away"
"We", says author, "are talking about revolution..there are no rules for revolution any more than there are rules for love or rules for happiness, but there are rules for radicals who want to change their world; there are certain central concepts of action"
Author then echoes Tocqueville's words. "Subjection in minor affairs breaks out every day, and is felt by the whole community indiscriminately. It does not drive men to resistance, but it crosses them at every turn, till they are led to surrender the exercise of their will. Thus their spirit is gradually broken and their character enervated; whereas that obedience, which is exacted on a few important but rare occasions, only exhibits servitude at certain intervals, and throws the burden of it upon a small number of men. It is vain to summon a people, which has been rendered so dependent on the central power, to choose from time to time the representatives of that power; this rare and brief exercise of their free choice, however, important it may be, will not prevent them from gradually losing the faculties of thinking, feeling, and acting for themselves, and thus gradually falling below the level of humanity."
I think he is right. One can see citizens of many countries sinking further into apathy, anonymity, and depersonalization, to result in a populace deeply dependent on public authority. And there is a visible demand for strong, ruthless leaders, as well as a common sight of moderates getting ridiculed often.
The book then goes ahead with advising, how to realize the democratic dream of equality, justice, peace, cooperation, equal and full opportunities for education, full and useful employment, health, and the creation of those circumstances in which man can have the chance to live by values that give meaning to life.
In quantum mechanics, causality was largely replaced by probability: an electron or atom did not have to do anything specific in response to a particular force; there was just a set of probabilities that it would react in this or that way. This is fundamental in the observations and propositions which constitute the reigning theory of matter. One can take a similar view of human society. At no time in any discussion or analysis of mass movements, tactics, or any other phase of the problem, can it be said that if this is done then that will result. The most we can hope to achieve is an understanding of the probabilities consequent to certain actions.
Quoting the of United States, where in World War II fervently it allied with Russia against Germany, Japan, and Italy, and shortly after victory fervently allied with its former enemies—Germany, Japan, and Italy—against its former ally, the U.S.S.R, the book observes the primary force in societal transactions as nothing but self-interest.
I liked this book, especially the parallels the author drew on the quantum behaviour of material and men.

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