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Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to swat a Mosquito

How to swat a Mosquito
It is a common experience that a mosquito makes its presence felt due to it’s characteristic ‘Kuin’ sound, coupled by the annoying irritation it leaves behind after biting human-beings.

It is very interesting that we tend to observe a mosquito only after we hear the sound most of the times. There is generally a 5 second delay associated with us being able to track down a mosquito after it’s presence is felt for the first time.

Though the hatred towards mosquito comes due to its blood sucking habit, it is most hated because of it’s annoying sound mechanism.

After having detected and located a mosquito, a human-being tries to attempt to murder the mosquito by a clap kind of action. However, in most cases, this action goes in vein and the mosquito escapes; the first attempt to murder generally fails because we tend to over-estimate our abilities and do not take into consideration our size to speed ratio as compared to that of the mosquito. Also we in most situations act impulsively instead of a careful planning and this leads to a lot of disappointment.
Just as a culprit always returns to the sceene of the crime like in Sherlock holmes novels, a mosquito also tends to return to its initial point of sound detection, most smart and experienced people take this into consideration while killing a mosquito.

Some advanced experienced people can swat a fly in one hand. Though this skill is very handy, it is not appreciated by people in the surrounding, such people are considered show-offs and incase they fail to get the fly, the disappointment is usually doubled. Swatting in one hand also tends to leave a lot of mess.

In some scenarios, there can be a compromise between killing a mosquito and getting the wall dirty and the mosquito tends to get away in such cases.

Apart from manually killing a mosquito there are approaches such as:
  • Poisoning a mosquito by sprays, mosquito mats, mosquito coils…
  • Use of variety of tricks to repel a mosquito
  • Spreading excessive smoke in an attempt to suffocate a mosquito(lol)
  • Some use fly-swatters and advanced fly glues.

Sometimes swatting of a fly like a mosquito can attract a lot of attention, especially in public places and hence many people tend to restrain themselves.

It is also a practice to hunt down a mosquito for a sport especially during exam times by students or while writing an assignment near the due date where there is a tendance to make that extra time just to feel that pleasure of achieving something, for a time-pass event.

Some people let cobwebs accumulate in their rooms in hopes of mosquitoes getting trapped in them, but this is a false notion as most mosquitoes can effectively dodge a cob web.

Algorithm to swat a Mosquito:
Step 0:Make sure you are free and have time to swat a mosquito, make sure you are not in a public or a very fancy place, make sure you are in a situation to move freely.
Step 1: START
Step 2: Detect the mosquite. Be alert and do not consider any indication of a mosquito's presence as a stray noise. Remember, 'Kuin' is the signature sound of the mosquito.
Step 3: Once the mosquito is detected, try to look at its trajectory.
Step 4: If the mosquito sits on you to bite you. Take the opportunity to kill the mosquito with one tieght blow. go to END.
Step 5: Else if you find the mosquito strategically sitting on a wall, then try to clap about 1 cm from the wall, this is approximately where the mosquito will likely be by the time you get to it. Do not dirty the wall over a mosquito, the paint job will not be worth it. go to END.
Step 6: Else if you find the mosquito to be moving around in circle, take about 6 seconds to trace its path, then jump and kill the mosquito in one smooth movement. go to END.
Step 7: Else if you dont find the mosquito, go to step 2.
Step 8: END

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The queen of chess-a bird's eye view

The queen of chess - a bird's eye view
Have you ever wondered why the queen of chess is that powerful? 

I have never come across a satisfactory answer to my questions regarding the powers behind the queen of chess, hence I have made an attempt myself to solve this quandary.

The whole idea of the queen being that powerful is centered around 2 ideas:
1) The queen being the most powerful pawn makes the queen the most vulnerable thing on the board thus taking our concentration off the king.
2) The second reason however is that it is the most precious thing that you can lose. I mean think about it, would you lose the queen for a reason you can name right now... you cannot lose anything more precious than the queen. (you might say okay queen for queen, queen for winning the game... but giving up a queen does make you think for at least some time (~_^)).

We can think of this as a feminine dominance, but if you really think about it is definitely so much more than that. Carom has a red piece often referred to as the queen. You won’t be able to complete the royal flush in Poker if not for a queen in fact a lot of games of poker have been lost because of the queen. You will find a lot more occurrences of such pattern; however in chess the queen has won the hearts of generations of people and continues to do so even today. Mysteriously however, there seems to be only one female piece in each of these games...

I can bet you that if the queen of chess and the queen of hearts were real figures today, there would be a lot of envy in the atmosphere.

I am not a very good chess player myself, for the record; I have lost over 60 games of chess to Mr. Prashanth Saraf in my PUC (One of which included playing a game without the queens). However the mystery behind the powers of the queen was what I was most interested in chess.

A queen has the combined powers of the bishop and the rook. Losing a queen marks the beginning of the end for most chess games. It is evident that when a pawn moves to the other side, it more often than not, chooses to reincarnate as a queen.

Religion also has extended the notion of feminine power by giving equal prominence to Goddesses just as given to Gods; don’t be offended if you come across conflicting statistics.

It has got to do with a whole new way of looking at the world. A female definitely looks at the world in a way different than men look at it. Though for some reason females rarely take opportunity to rise above others, we have seen occasions where female have made much more difference than what was expected from men. This kind of forms the foundations that have led to the powers behind the queen of chess.

Historically the pawn was called as the minister and had different powers, but it was not until it got renamed as the queen that the game became a house hold name and eventually reached the fame we see today.

Even when it comes to fashion, the queen gets her colour in chess. A white queen begins on the white square and a black queen on black.

It’s not like you can’t win the game without your queen, but once you lose a queen there is a hell lot of de-motivation. For example, I once met a guy who would take a queen for a queen just to de-morale you enough for him to eventually win the game.

Yes a guy will probably do anything to get a female to smile or to stop her from crying but we are looking only at the shadow of something really huge here. However on the contrary, as my friend Arpita Nandi says 'a broken nails hurts wayyyy more than a broken heart!'. That's exactly how much it means.

The real answer to the power of the queen might even lie in the fact that the queen being the only female on the board if not for the opponent queen. And there is lot of effort a female puts to get rid of any competition (^.^). The queen is the tallest pawn on the board because you simply cant afford to loose track of it! however, the crown makes the king reach the same height as the queen (*-*) 
Furthermore, when the game of chess begins, we can see that the two queens are looking at each other, just waiting for the right opportunity to kill the other.

In fact the queen of chess is a real icon of power. This topic definitely spans beyond culture, politics, fashion, history, sociology, romance and ideology.

If you look at the chess board itself, you will find that it is symmetric if not for the king and the queen. It is as if power has been sacrificed for importance. 
While the king stands to be prominent - last thing that you can lose on the game, the queen holds the most power - the last thing you wish to lose in a game. 

The game will become really complicated if you give equal power to the king as well as the queen, because now you will just have to keep your eyes on two pawns which are equally important to you. Chess is a game based on strategy. What more strategy can there be than to let a female come up with a strategy for you... (just kidding). 

On the contrary, we have seen how modern politics is revolving around females such as Sonia Gandhi, Hilary Clinton, Aung suu kyi, Julia Gillard, Angela Markel. Also the changes that took place when Mrs. Indira Nooyi took over as CEO of Pepsi Co. stand as a landmark in the corporate world and many of the multi-million-dollar companies started looking forward to having a female CEO. I would also like to include the case of recently fired Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz but that is clearly out of discussion (^_~).

I remember playing a game in engineering where I helped my friend Prerana (a.k.a piranah) win a game against Gokul, who had initially taken away the two rooks on Prerana’s side and we mysteriously won the game by controlling 2 bishops (lol). Gokul was a real pro, so were Abhishek and Abhilash. 

Some days we used to play chess on the bus on a magnetic chess set one of the seniors used to bring. However over time we got addicted to dumb-charades and forgot all about chess.

Relevance of a queen in modern Television and literature:
1) If you have seen the movie 300 you will find King Leonidas paying a lot of respect to the women of Sparta and deliver's the movie's signature dialogue- "THIS IS SPARTA" at the Persian ambassador before he kicks him into the bottomless pit (^_^).

2) If you watch White Collar you will see that the protagonist Neil sacrifices a lot and takes a lot of risk to get to the girl he loves the most – Kate.

3) And no piece of modern literature shouts of the power of femininity louder than Dan Brown's best selling (and controversial) novel- The Da Vinci Code.

4) Oh and when we talk about the queen, we might also note that there is a queen of hearts in the famous novel/movie Alice in the wonderland book by Louise Carol who was originally a mathematician specializing in Linear Algebra.

5) We even find that for a product to click in the market a famine touch usually does the trick. If you have seen the movie Kill Bill completely, then you will keep wondering what happens in the end of the second part. However the action might be justified in a woman’s world. I don’t know... (I don’t want to spoil the movie for you).

6) You will see the way a guy will give up even the most lucrative of offers for the sake of a woman in several cases, take Goodwill Hunting for example, he gives up an opportunity to work in the NSA for a woman he meets in the bar. (Do watch the movie, it is so much more.)

7) On a serious note the film Munich gives you a look into the things a woman strategist (Prime minister Golda Meir) is capable of. William Congreve probably had one such woman in mind when he said- "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell hath fury like a woman scorned"

8) If you watch The Big Bang theory you might be familiar with Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Chess... ha ha ha enough said I guess. Further he (Sheldon) extends the powers of the queen and creates a character called the Grand Empress a piece combining the power of the knight queen and the serpent!!! in the 3 persons chess. (serpent is a pawn that will cause the affected pawn to die within 2 moves from the encounter). How ever the circular chess board is more appealing to me because it kind of looks more legit.

9) Though the image of The Mahabharath comes to mind when we speak about mythology, women and war; the Greek epic Iliad also testifies the whole war-for-women idea.
There are several connections that can be seen in the novel that have been discussed under the queen of chess discussion as of now, for instance: 
1) Hector's wife Andromeda is known to have blamed Helen alone for the entire duration (18 years) for which the war had been fought (female trying to eliminate competition). 
2) The competition of the Goddesses of Mt.Olympus regarding which one of them was the most beautiful was the reason behind the whole Trojan war.

It all boils down to this picture (A picture is worth a 1000 words)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stage Fear-How I finally over came it

Stage Fear-How I finally over came it
The Fear:
It was in the First year of PUC that I came face to face with my stage fear. Though I was hyperactive and mischievous to the extent that I did not care who was watching, I had changed to a totally different person after 10th standard.

We had a very nice teacher in my PUC at Sri Vidya Mandir, whose name was Lalitha Iyer and she taught us Physics. Towards the end of the semester, she announced that there was an opportunity for anyone to take a seminar. I liked astronomy very much and I was happy that I had got the Hertzprung Russel Diagram. I read the topic thoroughly and got lot of information over the Internet and expected a real good performance.

When my turn came I quickly went up to the board. Started explaining, but suddenly realized that all of my classmates were actually looking at me. Suddenly I could hear my heartbeat (yes I too have a heart). All of a sudden evenyone in front of me was a blur. I managed to get the words out clearly though was gramatically incorrect at several places, however I had completed speaking in 5 minutes a presentation content which was supposed to last 20 minutes as per the teacher.

I stood there looking at everyone, wondering what else to say next. I looked at a sheet which I had taken to the stage but at this point, the sheet appeared to be a language I could not recognize. My feet were shaking, my face and hands were sweating. My voice had dropped and I was feeling as if someone was holding a torch at my face.

Fortunately, the teacher prompted some questions which I answered correctly from the stage. The answers I gave, helped me in expanding what I could relate to ‘Hertzpurng Russel (HR) diagrams’, and quickly summarized the topic once again.

Walking back to my seat after the talk was the hardest part. After having reached the seat, my stomach felt as if it was snowing inside. There was a kind of chill arising at every part of my body. However, my feet were still shaking and arms were sweatier than ever, quite a strange experience I can say now; but at that point, I thought I would surely die (~_^).

I now knew that I had stage fear and I had to do something to over-come it!!! I asked my friends looking for a solution, but got nothing out of it. I remember reading that only by practice could one actually get over stage fear.

Now I had to find opportunities to practice, but since I am a very shy person. Even though it took a long time; finally in the First Year of my Engineering at Amrita School of Engineering that I got my opportunity.

The Comeback:
We had an amazing teacher called Tharini ma’am for Physics, she announced that interested students could give seminar on some topics that were not going to be covered. I quickly took the ‘Liquid Drop Model’. I had very little knowledge of this model but I had heard my PUC physics teacher talk about the model once and decided that this was the moment to change.

I read the text book thoroughly. Referred internet and became confident on what I was going to say. I organized the topics in the order that I was going to talk in the presentation. Then I wrote down the topic names to check if I could associate the contents to be addressed in the topic. I had some doubts, the teacher told me to skip over the doubts, but I was determined and finally just before the seminar managed to figure out the solution to my doubt.

On the day of the seminar, I went to the stage and checked out the view from the stage. Then just before the seminar, I greeted everyone with a smile and began. It went really really well, and the teacher was really impressed the way I explained the part which she had not solved earlier. The best part was I never even realized time fly by. I then indulged everyone in the question answer session and completed the presentation with a ‘Thank You (^_^)’.

It was as if this was a landmark in my public speaking. I confidently gave the presentation on 'Tokamak Fusion Reactor' in my third year of engineering. All further presentations were like a walk over. 

Even in my MS when I gave my presentation on, 'Skype Peer to Peer Internet Telephony Protocol', I got a very good response. It was as if the initial friendship with the stage had bloomed into a beautiful relationship. 

You might get several suggestions from other people on what you can do to get rid of your stage fear. I don’t oppose any other form of getting used to the stage. It surely takes confidence, practice and a great deal of knowledge hunt to over come stage fear. But at the end of the day, remember... It does not matter if you fall, as long as you get up and keep walking.

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