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Monday, January 25, 2010

32 Amazing Facts

1. A rat can last longer without water than a camel.

2. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or it will digest itself.

3. The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.

4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.

6. A duck's quack doesn't echo. No one knows why.

7. A 2 X 4 is really 1-1/2" by 3-1/2".

8. During the chariot scene in "Ben Hur," a small red car can be seen in the distance (and Heston's wearing a watch).

9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily! (That explains a few mysteries... .)

10. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.

11. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.

12. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per side in a game of chess is 318,979,564, 000.

13. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.

14. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before.

15. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

16. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will instantly go mad and sting itself to death. (Who was the sadist who discovered this??)

17. Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to s-l-o-w film down so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm.

18. The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen' s "Born in the USA."

19. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.

20. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

21. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was Victrola, so the called themselves Motorola.

22. Roses may be red, but violets are indeed violet.

23. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot sink into quicksand.

24. Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.

25. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.

26. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.

27. Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, "Elementary, my dear Watson."

28. An old law in Bellingham, Washington, made it illegal for a woman to take more than three steps backwards while dancing!

29. The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.

30. The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.

31. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.

32. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave!
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Solar Eclipse And Superstitions

There's always something magical, divine, extra-ordinary when you get to watch such a rare celestial spectacle as a Solar Eclipse, an event when the moon steps in between the sun and the earth.The solar eclipse of January 15, 2010 is an annular eclipse of the Sun with a magnitude of 0.9190. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the sun to look like a ring, blocking most of the Sun's light. It is visible as a partial eclipse in much of Africa, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia. It is seen as annular within a narrow stretch of 300 km (190 mi) width across Central Africa, Maldives, South Kerala (India), South Tamil Nadu (India), North Sri Lanka, parts of Burma and parts of China.

While the scientific community is gearing up for the longest annular solar eclipse of the millennium, the people too are preparing themselves for the rare event in their own way. And irrespective of their educational background, a cross section of the people are still firm in their superstitious beliefs related to eclipses.

Let's have a look at superstitions related to solar eclipse all over the world

  • During eclipses, expectant mothers from Mexico and some other parts of Latin America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety pin tucked through them, the result of a tradition dating back to Aztec and Mayan days. It seems those tribes belived that the eclipse released energy that could cause birth defects and to ward off its power, pregnant women would step outside only if they tied a red string around their waists with an arrowhead attached to it.

  • The ancient Chinese believed that a dragon is trying to swallow the Sun.The Chinese would shoot fireworks and bang gongs to scare the dragon away if they know a solar eclipse is coming it seems.

  • In India, people believe when the sun rays are covered by the moon, the atmosphere becomes polluted. Therefore, for the whole day -- about 12 hours of the day time -- people observe fast and do not eat any food in the polluted atmosphere. People pray during the eclipse period so that they did not indulge in any evil activity. The same is done during Lunar Eclipse but the period of fast is only nine hours.

  • Javanese people remain inside their homes and don't venture outside.

  • Even in ancient Greece, people were superstitious about Solar Eclipse. In the Odyssey, Homer states that, “the Sun vanished out of heaven and an evil gloom covered all things about the hour of the midday meal.”

Even though superstitions persists among a huge majority of people, still science and its advocates have a few listeners, at least I have no faith in superstitions. What about you?
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Biased blog at NASA

A few days back I'd visited the NASA website and found this blog, written by Adam Voiland, on their site : http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/whatonearth.blog/posts/post_1261368357808.html
It speaks about Giles, a young NASA scientist's experience in India.
I found this blog to be biased, derogatory towards India and some of the facts have been cleverly misrepresented. The blog seems to say that India is the epicentre of the problem (keep on reading to know the problem). Since the comments posted there are moderated, so my comment has not yet been posted and I don't know whether it would ever be! So I have put my response here on my blog :

Dear Adam,

I don't know how many times Giles has been to India or which parts of the country has he visited but let me tell you one thing - I live in India and I know India better, at least better than you or Giles. Giles has mentioned Kanpur to be "unbelievably hot" and "105 degrees" but as far as this time of the year i.e. December - January is concerned the maximum temperature is around 72 degrees (Fahrenheit) and minimum is around 40 degrees. If you think that's hot ...I've got nothing to say. Yes, in summer (April-May) it's about 100-105 degrees maximum but that's usual and has nothing to do with pollution or global warming. You can find about it in ancient Indian literature as well. So, I would say don't go over the top about it. Even the picture you've shown is about fog and that too is not so unusual because in India humidity levels are high, so when it's winter there's definitely a chance of fog. Well this is just pure misinformation and the blog's written in a way to please the American Government and people. I don't deny the fact that there's no pollution in India but that is restricted to a handful of industrial areas and cities (like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata) quite unlike the US. Don't believe me? Check this article on Forbes : http://www.forbes.com/2009/04/28/pollution-ozone-air-lifestyle-health-ozone-pollution.html
I don't know about tasting the air, maybe Giles had the smell of Indian spices.
Spend some of the US taxpayer's money on US as well instead of taking a dig at other countries. America claims to be the world's most powerful country but with power comes responsibility as well (like the responsibilty to cut down on emissions).
Lastly, I would like to say that there's no point pointing fingers at each other especially on topics like Global warming. If we want to save the world, we've to work together and quickly before it gets too late. It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. So people at NASA better find a solution to Global Warming. Now you know where to spend your money!

I would urge all the Indian readers of my blog to visit the NASA blog through the link I've provided above and comment on this issue.
Continue reading...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Ultimate Showdown : Chetan Bhagat vs. Makers of 3 Idiots

The biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema just got bigger, thanks to the controversy between Chetan Bhagat, the author of Five Point Someone, and the filmakers of 3 Idiots. Well before analyzing this controversy, I must say that the controversy itself is no less than a Bollywood potboiler.

So was '3 Idiots' a rip-off of 'Five Point Someone'? Was Bhagat justified in accusing the filmmakers of not giving him his due credit? Was Vidhu Vinod Chopra's outburst justified? Let's see....

Unlike some critics who have gone on to say that 70% of '3 Idiots' has been taken directly from FPS, I would rather say that about 50% of the scenes in '3 Idiots' have been taken up directly from FPS. You can draw parallels between Cherian and Sahashrabuddhe. Also, the character of Raju is similar to Alok's and that of Chatur Ramalingam is smilar to Venkat's. Several scenes like the one in which Raju's mother complains about the daily problems of their household, Raju's attempt to suicide, stealing the question paper from the director's office and the scene in which Sahashrabuddhe gets the suicide note of his son are similar to those in FPS.

So upto this point ...Chetan looks like the hero and the filmmakers villains, but is it???

No doubt there are a few scenes that are similar to FPS but there are 100 other scenes which are completely different ...even the characterisation of the protagonist of the film. Aamir's character "Rancho" is quite different from that of Hari in FPS. Rancho is smart intelligent, eager to learn and has a cool temparament but Hari was not that bright as a student and was never interested in attending lectures. Madhavan's character "Farhan" is no way connected to any of the characters in FPS. I can point out many other differences ....but let me just sum it up for you. The main storyline of '3 Idiots' is different from FPS but many scenes of FPS have been taken to add 'flesh' and 'skin' to the main 'skeleton' of the film. The script writers took the easy way out and copied it from FPS.

Now, since we've seen both sides of the story lets have a look at couple of things before weget to the verdict.

The claim that Bhagat was not given any credit is absolutely false. Chetan's name features in the rolling credits at the end of the movie. But I don't think that was good enough to credit a person whose work has contributed so much to the movie. But then again, what can be done? It's not the moral responsibility of the filmmakers to give him credit, it's a legal issue. They had a contract with Chetan Bhagat and Chetan had accepted it. If he really had some issues, he should have sorted them out before signing the contract. Maybe he got a poor deal, maybe the filmmakers outsmarted him, maybe he didn't realise then what he was about to get. But that's his problem and that too because of his own stupidity. Can you expect an IIT-D and IIM-A alumni to get fooled so easily? (One thing is for sure, his professors at IIM won't be too pleased with his negotiating skills). In today's world it's not 'survival of the fittest' anymore, now it's 'survival of the smartest'

The Verdict :

I agree that there are alot of similarities between the movie and FPS but after you have accepted what was about to come in a legally binding contract, you just can't come out and speak ill about others. It's your foolishness, Chetan not anyone else's. Would he have done the same thing if '3 Idiots' had been a flop? I really doubt that.

But now, I've learnt that Chetan has already apologised for this controversy (which I think he should have done) and the matter is sorted out.


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Saturday, January 09, 2010



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