Tuesday, December 04, 2007

My talks in Europe, November 2007

I am giving the links to the talks I gave in Europe this year. The first workshop I went to was called Workshop on Flavour Dynamics 07. organized by the Arnold Sommerfeld Center and my talk may be found here. The talk was on joint work with Saurabh Rindani on the use of polarized beams at the International Linear Collider. The workshop shop was that of the Annual Meeting of Flavianet called EuroFlavour 07, where I talked about my work on charm meson masses and my talk is here.

Where have I been?

So why has this humble blog fallen so silent. Well, it was a teaching semester, and today is the final exam. Then there were the 2 workshops in Albufeira and Orsay. I gave a talk at each. Although the first one was not initially scheduled, it was a lot of work getting ready for the talks. Then there was the work for the Meera trust. Now all this is in the past lightcone, and things should return to normaly (?) soon and so there may be more on this blog. Well, atleast until the end-December annual break when we go home to Hyderabad. So keep watching this space...

No kidding: Marriage: Eco-friendlier than divorce?

According to many reports, e.g., this one, marriage is ecologically friendlier than divorce. Is this a candidate for the Ignobel prize or what?! Imagine tomorrow in a family court, a man is being sued for divorce by the battered wife and the judge says, ``Hey guys, this is a bad idea. It is not good for the environment!''

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

16th Meera Memorial Lecture concluded

This is a pointer to the post on Nanopolitan on the 16th Meera Memorial Lecture.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I meet Guenther Grass

Not one for airport stories, but this one is too good to pass up. Here I am standing in the line for the flight to Lisbon at Paris CDG when I see this person who is all too familiar. He notices that I am staring at him; a minute later couple of schoolgirls encircle him and get his autograph. Yes, it is Guenther Grass. I go up to him and tell him that he is very famous in my country and give him my card. He thanks me and introduces me to his wife Ute. Then they get into Business Class and I am off to economy that is the end of my meeting with the great writer. I did ask him if he is coming to India again and he said that he would like to. He said he was there two years ago. Keep watching this space for more European physics workshop updates.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My article featured in Nanopolitan

I am very happy that one of my articles was recently featured on Nanopolitan. For many of us in the IISc `community', it is really the one stop shop on the blogosphere.

The Sixteenth Kumari L. A. Meera Memorial Lecture

Notice is hereby given to all the readers of this humble blog that the Sixteenth Kumari L. A. Meera Memorial Lecture will take place on November 25, 2007, at 6 pm, at the Indian Institute of World Culture, B. P. Wadia Road, Basavanagudi, Bangalore. The lecture is organized by the Kumari L. A. Meera Memorial Trust, Palghat The speaker is Prof. M. S. Ananth, Director, IIT Madras. The lecture is entitled: The changing environment of higher education and some India-centric concerns.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The wasting of Iraq

``In 1258 the Mongol generals Hulagu and Guo Kan besieged and took the city of Baghdad. They murdered its inhabitants, burned its libraries, and ravished its lands.


For the average Iraqi, there is little difference between the Mongols and the United States. Both have laid waste to their country.''

From this article on Alternet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Work stress and heart disease

No kidding! A Canadian study has shown that stress at work can increase your chances of a heart attack. What a surprise? In any case, you can read about it here.

Why pure science?

I will never be able to put as well as Victor Weisskopf did in 1964 in article that has been reprinted by the CERN Courier in this article. Of the many wonderful things he say here, the following catches my attention:

The value of fundamental research does not lie only in the ideas it produces. If science is highly regarded and the importance of being concerned with the most up-to-date problems of fundamental research is recognized, then a spiritual climate is created which influences all other activities. An atmosphere of creativity is established which penetrates to every cultural frontier. Applied sciences and technology are forced to adjust themselves to the highest intellectual standards, which are determined in pure research; that is what attracts productive people and brings productive scientists to those countries where science is at its highest level.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Ajay Sree Chandra --- In Memoriam

I suddenly realized that as a blogger from IISc, I had not said anything about such a serious matter as the recent suicide of one of our students. Of course I did not know this student; I had no way of knowing him. But the news filled me with a cold horror and dread. More recently there has been a lot being written about the caste dimension of this sad, cruelly ironic and tragic situation. I have nothing to say about any of that. In posting this article, I want to simply lay open my door to any student of the Institute (or elsewhere?) to discuss any of their problems and I will offer whatever little I can by way of assitance, solace or counselling. Also, here are a few words of condolence to his family and his friends, although I just don't know how my words can help anyone.

Friday, September 28, 2007

(Mis)measure of science

On Swarup's blog I found a link to this awesome article by Peter Lawrence on the mismeasurement of science. I often like to joke that Euclid'e H-index cannot 13. But jokes apart, it is very important the science policy makers take note of the arguments here.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Deccan Herald article on Nuclear Deal

I must confess that I have not been following the nuclear deal very closely. Of course one has the gut feeling that there is something really rotten about it. In fact, there is very little that one can read about what it is in any way a good thing. I may link to other articles in the upcoming days. However, here is a very striking article from today's Deccan Herald. Here is a quote.

Equally, for the UPA government, especially for the Congress party, there is bound to be sensitivity in identifying with a US administration that is about to go on yet another crusade against a Muslim country. For completely different reasons, therefore, the Manmohan Singh government and the Bush administration have unspeakable concerns in ensuring that somehow the nuclear deal is wrapped up before the dogs of war are let loose in West Asia.

Of course being a Muslim or otherwise has nothing to do with opposing the activities of the US in the region.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Spreading the word at Christ College

I was happy to accept the invitation of my friend and colleague Diptiman Sen to be a mentor/lecturer/presenter at two programmes arranged by the Indian Academy of Sciences recently, and which took place at Christ College in the southern part of Bangalore. The first was for Pre-University teachers and the second for Degree and Post-Graduate College teachers. To my pleasant surprise at the second event there were many M. Sc. students as well. At the first programme, the teachers asked me deal with some difficulties they had in explaining concepts after a fairly detailed introduction I gave. At the second, the teachers said that they had no difficulties! So there I was having to fill up about two and a half hours! It turned into a very long impromptu set of lectures on the present status of elementary particle physics. I enjoyed it very much, even if the participants did not! Also striking on both occasions was the warmth and hospitality of the organizers. I hope there will be more invitations for such programmes coming up!

My recent popular (?) science writing

Here I am giving links to three articles that I wrote with summer students and my former student Shivaraj who has now gone off to Minnesota. The first two were written with students coming to me from the Institutes `Young Science Fellowship Programme' [the syntax does not really make sense; anyway that is what it is called] and these are Keshav Choudhary, Lishbanya Mohapatra, Indrajeet Patil and Avinash Rustagi. The third one is with a student, Kshitij Garg, who came to me through the KVPY programme.

The first article is on the observation of exotic baryons at Fermilab and has been published in Current Science here.

The second article is on oscillation phenomena in heavy-meson systems and has been published in Current Science here.

The third article is on quantum entanglement phenomena in B-meson system. This has been accepted for publication in Current Science.

I will direct the readers of this humble blog to the articles themselves and they are meant for such a readership.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Found in an excerpt by a book by the former wife of Stephen Hawking:

Nor, I have to confess, did the set of scientists with whom Stephen was now associating attract me in the least. On the whole, particle physicists were a dry, obsessive bunch of boffins, little concerned with personal contact but very concerned with their own scientific reputations. They were much more aggressively competitive than the relaxed, friendly relativists with whom we had associated in the past.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This is too good...

Indian police hunt for monkey accused of stealing South Korean tourist's glasses

Tuesday July 17, 01:32 PM

Police combed the alleys of the Hindu holy city of Varanasi in northern India on Tuesday to search for a monkey accused of stealing reading glasses from a South Korean tourist.

Kim Dang Hoon filed a formal complaint against the primate that he claims broke into his hotel room and pinched his spectacles, according to investigating officer Inspector Govind Singh.

"It is difficult to trace the monkey but I am trying my best to locate the rogue," Singh said from Varanasi, some 300 kilometers (185 miles) southeast of Lucknow.

Thousands of wild monkeys roam Varanasi, dotting the trees on the banks of the Ganges River and scampering through the city's many temples, where they are venerated as manifestations of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman.

In his written complaint, Kim said he opened his hotel room window for fresh air when the monkey made his move. "He headed straight to the table where my glasses were kept and took it away," Kim said in the statement.

Part of the frame later was recovered by hotel staff and Kim said he filed the report so he can make a damages claim on his travel insurance.

Singh said he would be at a loss if his officers caught the culprit because there are no laws under which a wild monkey can be charged.

Problems with monkeys harassing tourists in the city were common, Singh said.

"But we can't do anything. We cannot shoot them or beat them as Hindus worship monkeys," he said.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


"A university has a lot of weird people. Some of the faculty are weird, some of the grad students are weird." Read more about this here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Why bulls are better than literary critics

``Bulls don't run reviews. Bulls of 25 don't marry old women of 55 and expect to be invited to dinner. Bulls do not get you cited as a co:respondent in Society divorce trials. Bulls don't borrow money. Bulls are edible after they have been killed."

This according to a letter from Hemmingway to Pound that has been recently found. See here for details.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rings of Saturn

``That means scientists have underestimated the mass of Saturn's rings. They may be two to three times denser than previous estimates, the researchers said.'' This is an excerpt from this story on Saturn's rings.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Garment city is without clothes

``Women working in the garment industry face untold misery and the roles expected of them at home by society have only increased their woes, says S Senthalir'' in this article in the Deccan Herald.

Most Muslims are moderate, but ...

There is an old joke about the Pope landing in Paris and being asked if he was planning to visit nightclubs by the Press. The Pope responded with ``Are there nightclubs in Paris?", whereupon the next day the newspapers blared, ``Pope asks if there are nightclubs in Paris.'' A somewhat less funny situation has arisen with a so-called study of American Muslims which concludes that 1 in 4 young American Muslims say that suicide bombings are alright under certain circumstances. Here is a link to an odious article on the subject. I would like to know what was the question that was asked from which this conclusion was drawn. In fact the very sentence ``American Muslims are generally moderate and well-assimilated, especially when compared to Muslims in Europe and the Middle East.'' is itself quite odious. What does it mean to be `moderate' and `well-assimilated'? Does it mean that one can bull-shit at parties about music and literature and drink beer and hold a cigarette? As opposed to being pious and restrained and adhere to a dress code that one's culture may dictate. An old friend of mine once said that he has many friends who are `progressive' Muslims, and when I demanded a definition, someone else at the table said that that is one that behaves as Hindu! This is the tyranny of the mainstream discourse. In any case, I direct the interested readerof this blog to several articles at Sujaiblog. Another friend once said that the resistance in Palestine would have been no different if the oppressed there had been Milenisian frog worshippers. In other words, the national question there has nothing to do with Islam.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Day trip out of Bangalore

Sometime ago I had written about taking a day trip out of Bangalore to Lepakshi in neighbouring Andhra. It is perfectly possible to do nice days trips out of Bangalore, and I had written about Shivasamudram. Last weekend we did a day trip to the Hoysala temple at Somnathpur, and a trip to the bird sanctuary in Ranganathittu, and visited the Ranganathaswamy temple in Srirangapatnam, saw the Gumbaz which is the resting place of Haider Ali and Tipu, and a whole lot of other dignitaries and the Sangam nearby and got back at a not so unrespectable hour. Here is a picture.

Virgin births in sharks

I had linked to this story on virgin births in komodo dragons and now there is this story on the same phenomenon in sharks. So the only conclusion is who needs males anyway?

One more biography of Einstein

I guess the 100th anniversary 2 years ago of the `Annus Mirabilis' has again set off interest in the life and work of Einstein. There is yet another biography which has been reviewed here. Last year I went to a wonderful exhibition on his life at the Historical Museum in Bern. I am proud that I have atleast one link with Einstein, having worked in Bern for a year in the same department where he had been.

Iraqi children

A stunning new discovery has been made. This is one like never before. Here is
an excerpt: ``A report issued Tuesday by UNICEF, the United Nations' children organization, found such stories are not uncommon. It says Iraq's children are "caught up in a rapidly worsening humanitarian tragedy." '' I found this on CNN, that great cheerleader of Dubya and his wars, and am not going to bother giving a link to the story.

Human Rights in India

Readers of this humble blog may know that I write off and on for the Lokrajsangathan web-site. Recently it carried an article by me on The Crisis of Human Rights in India. An excerpt from this article reads:
``The issue of Human Rights violation is a particular point of crisis in this system, where the so-called checks and balances of the system are in utter disarray and failure. In order for this state to rise to the fore as an example of `democracy' instituted so kindly by the British colonialists and to accept international acceptability is a problem that the ruling circles in India need to contend with...''

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tragedy in Hyderabad

No words suffice to express one's anguish, helplessness and anger at what happened in Hyderabad today. Why would any one set off a bomb amongst worshippers? It hurts more as it is one's home town. Too close to the heart....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lecture at the Planetarium

I was pleased to give a lecture on elementary particle physics yesterday to about 30 college students at the Bangalore Planetarium. There is a written version of a talk I gave a couple of years ago, which is practically current. You may get hold of it here. It was also featured as a guest article here at Nonoscience.

Cosmic evidence for dark matter

From this article posted on CNN, one learns that:

``A hazy ring of dark matter spawned by a colossal cosmic crash eons ago offers the best evidence to date that vast amounts of this mysterious stuff reside in the universe, scientists said Tuesday.''

I guess the previous evidence comes from the flat rotation curves of galaxies. Here it is the collision of clusters of galaxies!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I have always wondered why eetiquette is so bad. It must be because of blind imitation of what the Americans do. It seems that they long ago stopped beginning an e-mail with "Dear Gruesome" or even "Hi Ghastly" and instead start off with "Plugugly:" and break the line or simply "Plugugly" without even the colon, or in the worst case simply start off with the message. Now this diease has spread even to the comments section of blogs. I, on the other hand, will resolutely oppose such barbarianism and will always start with atleast a Hi, or a Dear.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Talks next week

I will be going a little easy on blogging as I have to give two talks next week. The first is the result of my volunteering to give the very first talk in the newly founded journal club at our Centre, by my colleague Sudhir Vempati. The second will be at the Bangalore planetarium where I will give a blackboard talk at a summer programme for summer students. So, goodbye for the moment.

Hubble Space Telescope will have a successor

The great Hubble Space Telescope will have a successor. Here is a link. This will be called the James Webb Space Telescope and will be launched in 6 years time. Here is a quote from the article:

``The $4.5bn (£2.3bn) telescope will take up a position some 1.5 million km (930,000 miles) from Earth.

It will measure 24m (80ft) long by 12m (40ft) high and incorporate a hexagonal mirror 6.5m (21.3ft) in diameter, almost three times the size of Hubble's.''

International Linear Collider in the New Yorker

Here is a link to an article entitled Crash Course, which mainly deals with the status of elementary particle physics and the upcoming LHC experiments. Of the many things I liked in this article is the following:

``Meanwhile, physicists are already lobbying for the next generation of machines. The plan for the International Linear Collider, which, as its name suggests, would be built in a straight line rather than a ring, calls for smashing electrons and positrons together at the midpoint of a tunnel twenty miles long. According to the Web site that has been set up for the I.L.C., the hypothetical collider’s design would allow for “an upgrade” to a thirty-mile-long machine “during the second stage of the project.” ''

I am happy to say that along, almost entirely with Saurabh Rindani I have already spent a good deal of time working on ways of looking for new physics at this facility

Maurice Jacob, 1933-2007

I was saddened to learn of the passing away of Maurice Jacob, a well-known theoretical physicistm who had led the Theory Group at CERN in the 1980's. An eloquent obituary by John Ellis is here

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Life is cheap in the Orient

[This is the nth time I am trying to put this into the post; maybe something is wrong with blogger? After failing (n-1) times with internet explorer, I am now trying with safari]

There is an old quote due to General Westmoreland trying to justify the indiscriminate bombing in Vietnam, where he says that life in the Orient is cheap. I want to use it to `understand' what happened yesterday in Madurai: how else can one understand why someone would throw a petrol bomb into a newspaper office with lots of inflammable material and knowing that there would be many persons inside? How else can one understand setting a bus on fire, knowing that there are some college girls insideas was done in Dharmapuri some years ago? No words can describe such atrocities...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Via Not Even Wrong, the well-known blog of Peter Woit,
``...a quote from Leon Lederman:

If I occasionally neglect to cite a theorist, it’s not because I’ve forgotten,… It’s probably because I hate him.''

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Star death

``A massive star about 150 times the size of the Sun exploded in what could be a long-sought new type of supernova, Nasa scientists have said.''

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Euler's 300th birthday

Via Nonoscience I came across this article on the 300th birthday of Leonhard Euler, the great Swiss born mathematician who spent possibly the larger part of his life in St. Petersburg. I am told that published 866 papers! How is that for a record? And what a great guy, considering that he was blind for last several of his years.

Nefertiti's bust

``She was rumoured to be the world's most beautiful woman in her time.

Nefertiti, Queen of Egypt, was the co-ruler of her country in the 14th Century BC. Today, the bust of Nefertiti (whose name literally means "a beautiful woman has arrived") has pride of place in the Antiquities collection in Berlin's Altes Museum.''

Read about the campaign to get the bust back to Egypt.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Carl Friedrich von Weizsaecker, 1912-2007

Here is the link to the obituary of von Weizsaecker. His name is well-known for the famous semi-empirical formula for the masses of stable nuclei, which works very well except for magic numbers and some other peculiarities. His brother Richard was President of Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin wall. He was involved along with Werner Heisenberg with the German bomb project, a saga that has never been satisfactorily explained.

Stunning Buddha paintings in Nepal

Here is a newitem from BBC about the stunning new Buddhist paintings in Nepal. The picture that is featured here is reminescent of the Ajanta paintings. Hope to be reading more about such finds.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Varadhan credits Indian education for success

``The winner of this year's Abel Prize in Mathematics, Indian American Professor Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan has said that his education in India provided him with the necessary foundation for success.''

For the entire story see this link.

Darwin and Pigeons ?

Continuing on the line of relieving you of heaviosity on this blog, here is a funny story on Darwin. It brings to mind one's own trials and tribulations with referees and editors. But should I be ashamed to speak of myself in the same breath as Darwin? Maybe I should. Any here goes: I now include an excerpt following the advice of Rahul Siddarthan and append an excerpt below and provide a link for the complete story

``The father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, might have ended up being better known for his work on pigeon fancying if it was not for his publisher ignoring the advice of others.''

The link to the story is here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Earth-like plant discovered

Here is a link for one of the interesting science stories on the discovery of earth-like planet. The story is reproduced below without permission, of course!

Scientists find most Earth-like planet yet
POSTED: 1335 GMT (2135 HKT), April 25, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) -- European astronomers have found the most Earth-like planet outside our solar system, and here's what it might be like to live there:

The "sun" wouldn't burn brightly. It would hang close, large and red in the sky, glowing faintly like a charcoal ember. And it probably would never set if you lived on the sunny side of the planet.

You could have a birthday party every 13 days because that's how fast this new planet circles its sun-like star. But watch the cake -- you'd weigh a whole lot more than you do on Earth.

You might be able to keep your current wardrobe. The temperature in this alien setting will likely be a lot like Earth's -- not too hot, not too cold.

And that "just right" temperature is one key reason astronomers think this planet could conceivably house life outside our solar system. It's also as close to Earth-sized as telescopes have ever spotted. Both elements make it the first potentially habitable planet besides Earth or Mars.

Astronomers who announced the discovery of the new planet Tuesday say this puts them closer to answering the cosmic question: Are we alone?

"It's a significant step on the way to finding possible life in the universe," said University of Geneva astronomer Michel Mayor, one of 11 European scientists on the team that found the new body. "It's a nice discovery. We still have a lot of questions."

There's still a lot that is unknown about the new planet, which could be deemed inhospitable to life once more is learned about it. But as galaxies go, it's practically a neighbor. At only 120 trillion miles away, the red dwarf star that this planet circles is one of the 100 closest to Earth.

The results of the discovery have not been published but have been submitted to the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Alan Boss, who works at the Carnegie Institution of Washington where a U.S. team of astronomers competed in the hunt for an Earth-like planet, called it "a major milestone in this business."

The planet was discovered by the European Southern Observatory's telescope in La Silla, Chile, which has a special instrument that splits light to find wobbles in different wavelengths. Those wobbles can reveal the existence of other worlds.

What they revealed is a planet circling the red dwarf star, Gliese 581. Red dwarfs are low-energy, tiny stars that give off dim red light and last longer than stars like our sun. Until a few years ago, astronomers didn't consider these stars as possible hosts of planets that might sustain life.

The discovery of the new planet, named 581 c, is sure to fuel studies of planets circling similar dim stars. About 80 percent of the stars near Earth are red dwarfs.

The new planet is about five times heavier than Earth, and gravity there would be 1.6 times as strong as Earth's. Its discoverers aren't certain if it is rocky like Earth or if its a frozen ice ball with liquid water on the surface. If it is rocky like Earth, which is what the prevailing theory proposes, it has a diameter about 11/2 times bigger than our planet. If it is an iceball, as Mayor suggests, it would be even bigger.

Based on theory, 581 c should have an atmosphere, but what's in that atmosphere is still a mystery and if it's too thick that could make the planet's surface temperature too hot, Mayor said.

However, the research team believes the average temperature to be somewhere between 32 and 104 degrees and that set off celebrations among astronomers.

Until now, all 220 planets astronomers have found outside our solar system have had the "Goldilocks problem." They've been too hot, too cold or just plain too big and gaseous, like uninhabitable Jupiter.

The new planet seems just right -- or at least that's what scientists think.

"This could be very important," said NASA astrobiology expert Chris McKay, who was not part of the discovery team. "It doesn't mean there is life, but it means it's an Earth-like planet in terms of potential habitability."

Eventually astronomers will rack up discoveries of dozens, maybe even hundreds of planets considered habitable, the astronomers said. But this one -- simply called "c" by its discoverers when they talk among themselves -- will go down in cosmic history as No. 1.

Besides having the right temperature, the new planet is probably full of liquid water, hypothesizes Stephane Udry, the discovery team's lead author and another Geneva astronomer. But that is based on theory about how planets form, not on any evidence, he said.

"Liquid water is critical to life as we know it," co-author Xavier Delfosse of Grenoble University in France, said in a statement. "Because of its temperature and relative proximity, this planet will most probably be a very important target of the future space missions dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial life. On the treasure map of the Universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X."

Other astronomers cautioned it's too early to tell whether there is water.

"You need more work to say it's got water or it doesn't have water," said retired NASA astronomer Steve Maran, press officer for the American Astronomical Society. "You wouldn't send a crew there assuming that when you get there, they'll have enough water to get back."

The new planet's star system is a mere 20.5 light years away, making Gliese 581 one of the 100 closest stars to Earth. It's so dim, you can't see it without a telescope, but it's somewhere in the constellation Libra, which is low in the southeastern sky during the mid-evening in the Northern Hemisphere.

Even so, Maran noted, "We don't know how to get to those places in a human lifetime."

But, oh, the view, if you could. The planet is 14 times closer to the star it orbits. Udry figures the red dwarf star would hang in the sky at a size 20 times larger than our moon. And it's likely, but still not known, that the planet doesn't rotate, so one side would always be sunlit and the other dark.

Two teams of astronomers, one in Europe and one in the United States, have been racing to be the first to find a planet like 581 c outside the solar system.

The European team looked at 100 different stars using a tool called HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity for Planetary Searcher) to find this one planet, said Xavier Bonfils of the Lisbon Observatory, one of the co-discoverers.

Much of the effort to find Earth-like planets has focused on stars like our sun with the challenge being to find a planet the right distance from the star it orbits. About 90 percent of the time, the European telescope focused its search more on sun-like stars, Udry said.

A few weeks before the European discovery earlier this month, a scientific paper in the journal Astrobiology theorized a few days that red dwarf stars were good candidates.

"Now we have the possibility to find many more," Bonfils said.

Black Hole Cluster...

Here is the link for the story on the black hole cluster.. The link was sent to me by my brother-in-law Pratyush. The story reads as follows:

Astronomers have spotted a giant cloud of superheated gas 6 million light years wide that might be generated by a cluster of supermassive black holes.

The plasma cloud, detailed in April 10 issue of Astrophysical Journal, might be the source of mysterious cosmic rays that permeate our universe.

"One of the most exciting aspects of the discovery is the new questions it poses," said study leader Philipp Kronberg of Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. "For example, what kind of mechanism could create a cloud of such enormous dimensions that does not coincide with any single galaxy or galaxy cluster? Is that same mechanism connected to the mysterious source of ultra high energy cosmic rays that come from beyond our galaxy?"

The plasma cloud is located about 300 million light years away and is spread across a vast region of space known to contain several galaxies with supermassive black holes, or active galactic nuclei (AGN), embedded at their centers. The cloud might be evidence that AGNs convert and transfer their enormous gravitational prowess, by a yet-unknown process, into magnetic fields and cosmic rays that spread across the universe.

The new finding could also help explain the unwanted and confusing "noise" scientists observe in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), Kronberg said. The CMB is a ubiquitous radiation in the universe that is said to be a remnant of the Big Bang.

The plasma cloud was discovered using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico and the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in British Columbia.

Need for new agenda (The forgotten poor: Part II)

Here is the link for part 2 of the article on the forgotten poor. The article is also given below for your reading convenience.

Need for new agenda
By K N Hari Kumar
The final test for all development programmes would be to see how far they help the poor and the oppressed.

The real challenge before the media is how to attract the readers’/viewers’ attention to the small-scale, patient, unspectacular, not always wholly successful constructive work being done by ordinary individuals and organisations, like co-operatives, unions, parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), at the grassroots, but which may not instantly thrill the readers/viewers into paroxysms of excitement and amazement. Finally and perhaps most difficult in the current climate, they will have to reaffirm the relevance of Indian languages for communication at the grassroots and in bridging the ever-widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots, the powerful and the powerless within our society.

What is being suggested by the above analysis is that development journalists and activists need to go beyond the local, micro perspectives and address the larger, macro issues — political, economic, social — which impact the lives of all of us. They should resist the attempts of the private sector-oriented reformers to confine their development activities and role as relevant only to give small palliatives to the poor while the policy — and decision makers at the national and international levels address the larger economic and other issues facing the community of nations in an increasingly globalised world. They should question whether the model of economic development based on replicating the nature of the economies of the advanced western nations is appropriate for the very different society that we are today. More pertinently, they should dare to ask whether even those advanced societies have in fact achieved or are moving towards the desirable goals of poverty elimination, care for the sick, weak, disabled and old, empowerment of the common people, protection of the environment, sustainable development, social justice and a just world order, that they are preaching so insistently and loudly.

And, most importantly, to be effective, development journalists and activists have to pose an alternative. A workable, viable alternative to a society based on competition (as opposed to co-operation), greed and exploitation and disenfranchisement of the working people. Combining in equal measure micro and macro perspectives, they have to explore different social arrangements which can reflect their commitment to the common welfare. In seeking ways to transform society however, they cannot eschew the political.

Living in an interdependent world, they have to go beyond the nation-state and address and act with a global perspective and on global issues. They have to examine the nature of the society in which they live both nationally and globally, the nature of government policies and who benefits from them, the social forces which determine the vision of the policymakers and the decisions and actions of those in power. Without such a vision and analysis, and programmes and actions based on them, they will be restricted to the local and the grassroots and their transformative potential will be neutralised and defused.

In the context of today’s India, the additional task is to wean away the national agenda from empty grandiosity, megalomania and militarism. There was doubtless a certain ambition — political, economic and technological — in Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision, which could even be judged as excessive and, consequently, leading to failure, a loss of confidence and a sense of deflation. One consequence of this failure may have been the current compensatory vision and programme, which can be seen as a corruption of the original dream. But Nehru’s vision was always based firmly on deeply held values of humanism, social justice and self-respect. It was that of a proudly Independent India, subservient to and dependent upon none, but developing its own technology, industry and economy as far as possible by itself, and contributing as an equal in a community of equals to world peace on the basis of its moral influence. It was also based on an uncompromising refusal to accept the double standards and continuing injustice sought to be imposed in international affairs by the rich and powerful nations on those whom they have exploited and impoverished.

If the 21st century is to be India’s, it will have to be by virtue of our commitment to social justice within and between nations. Our nation will not be satisfied by accepting a subservient position of serving the interests of (rather than competing against) the companies of the developed economies like our much vaunted IT and IT-enabled service companies are doing today. Nor would it seek a “great power” label by becoming a willing tool of the great powers in our region of the globe. Rather, it would champion the cause of the underdeveloped nations globally based on their solidarity and common interests through the Non-Aligned Movement and other international groupings of those nations.

Through those associations, it will work towards sustainable economic development based on the real needs of the peoples of the world and a just economic order. Its commitment to world peace and disarmament will not be based on insincere rhetoric and time-bound plans, but shown by its deeds. It will lead by example, not military might. In spite of the derision and suspicion of motives that this gives rise to (“are you planning to enter politics?”), it is entirely appropriate that the final words should be those of the deified, but ignored father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. The yardstick proposed by him to measure and judge policies and actions by asking whether they will be helpful to the poorest, weakest and most oppressed, is more relevant than ever to the tasks on hand. And so is his very different kind of ambition “to wipe every tear from every eye”.


Virgin births in Komodo dragons

Lest you think everything in this blog is mind-boggling, heavy and/or too depressing for words, here is something for a change. I am doing this from outlook explorer because I am unable to get into blogger2 from my usual mozilla. In any case, the full story with pictures may be found here.. The text of the article reads:

CHESTER, England - Scientists unveiled five squirmy black and yellow Komodo dragons Wednesday that were the product of a virgin birth, predicting that the hatchlings offered hope for breeding the endangered species.

Flora, the Komodo dragon, has produced five hatchlings although a male has never been close to her, the proud staff at the Chester Zoo said.

“Flora is oblivious to the excitement she has caused, but we are delighted to say she is now a mum and dad,” said a delighted Kevin Buley, the zoo’s curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates.

The shells began cracking last week, after an eight-month gestation period, which culminated with arrival on Tuesday of the fifth dragon. Two more eggs remained to be hatched.

“The implications for conservation breeding programs are enormous because this opens up a new way that animals can potentially colonize an island,” Buley said. “A female could swim to a new island, lay a clutch of eggs, then mate with sons and be sexually producing normally within a generation.”

The dragons range from 16 inches to nearly 18 inches long (40 to 45 centimeters) and weigh between 3½ and 4½ ounces (100 to 125 grams), Buley said.

Eating crickets and locusts

The hatchlings were in good health and feeding on a diet of crickets and locusts.

When fully grown to 10 feet (3 meters) long and weighing about 300 pounds (135 kilograms), they’ll be capable of eating a whole pig or deer at one sitting, hooves and all.

That ravenous appetite explains why Flora isn’t allowed anywhere near her offspring.

“No maternal instincts exist in Komodos so it is perfectly natural to keep them as far apart as possible,” Buley said. “She would try to eat anything that comes in front of her.”

About 70 reptile species including snakes and lizards are known to reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis. But Flora’s virginal conception, and that of another Komodo dragon in April at the London Zoo, are the first documented in Komodo dragons.
The two virgin conceptions were announced in September in a scientific paper in the journal Nature.

Endangered lizardsKomodos are native to the arid volcanic Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia, and are named for the island where they were discovered in 1910.
The giant lizards are considered endangered, with fewer than 4,000 surviving in the wild and facing encroachment from humans.

Why Virginia Tech shootings happened - A statement from the IAC

I am attaching below this remarkable text from a message forwarded to me by my sister Padma. Needless to say, it is not that I particularly endorse the views here as I am not an expert on the subject of USA or what goes on there. However, this article here is very persuasive. Here is the article:

A Statement from the International Action Center
Why Virginia Tech shootings happened

Yet another rampage has occurred at a school, this time leaving 33 people dead at Virginia Tech-the worst such incident ever at a U.S. college campus.

The news media seem stunned and surprised, yet their coverage sounds so similar to the stories about Columbine eight years ago. They dwell on the personality of the young man the police say did the shooting, before killing himself. They talk about him being a "loner," depressed, perhaps angry at women.

But aren't there lonely and depressed people all over the world? Many countries have high suicide rates. Why is it that here some become mass murderers?

The U.S. is the world leader in seemingly random acts of violence by individuals. Why?

President George W. Bush rushed to Virginia to speak at a large convocation the day after the killings and tried to set the tone for what could be said about them. "It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering," he said.

Don't ask why, don't try to understand. It makes no sense. "Have faith" instead, was Bush's message.

But there ARE reasons these things happen here, and they are pretty clear to the rest of the world. It's just in the United States that no one is supposed to talk about the reasons.

What distinguishes this country from the rest of the world? It is neither the most affluent nor the poorest. It is neither the most secular nor the most religious. It is not the most culturally homogeneous nor is it the most diverse.

But in one area, it stands virtually alone. It has the biggest arsenal of high-tech weaponry in the world, way surpassing every other country. It has military bases spread all over; most countries have no troops outside their borders.

It is conducting two hot wars at the moment, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has sent hundreds of thousands of troops abroad over the last few years. Every day, the public here is supposed to identify with soldiers who burst into homes in Baghdad, round up the people and take them away for "interrogation"-which everyone knows now can mean torture and indefinite detainment.

It also sends heavily armed "special ops" on secret missions to countless other countries, like the ones who just facilitated the invasion and bombing of Somalia, or the ones who have been trying to stir up opposition in Iran. This is documented in the news media.

The immense brutality of these colonial wars, as well as earlier ones, is praised from the White House on down as the best, the ONLY way to achieve what the political leaders and their influential, rich backers decide is necessary to protect their world empire. Do lots of people get killed? "Stuff happens," said former war secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "Collateral damage," says the Pentagon.

At home, the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Over 2 million people are locked up in the prison system each year, most of them people of color. When commercial armed security guards are also taken into consideration, the U.S. has millions of employees who use guns and other coercive paraphernalia in their jobs.

In the final analysis, the military and the police exist to perpetuate and protect this present unjust system of capitalist inequality, where a few can claim personal ownership over a vast economy built by the sweat and blood of hundreds of millions of workers.

And the more divided, the more polarized the society becomes, the higher the level of coercion and violence. Assault weapons are now everywhere in this society, as are Tasers, handcuffs, clubs and tear gas. They most often start out in the hands of the police, the military and other agents of the state, and can then turn up anywhere.

Violence is a big money maker in the mass culture. Television, films, pulp novels, Internet sites, video games-all dwell on "sociopaths" while glorifying the state's use of violence, often supplemented by a lone vigilante. By the time children reach their teens, they have already seen thousands of murders and killings on television. And these days even more suspense is added in countless programs that involve stalking and terror against women-and increasingly children.

As the Duke rape case and so many "escort service" ads show, women of color are particularly subject to exploitation and have little recourse to any justice. And as the murders along the border show, immigrants of color are fair game for racist killers.

The social soil of capitalism can alienate and enrage an unstable and miserable person who should be getting help but can't find it. If, as reports are saying, the young man accused of these killings was on anti-depressant medication, it is all the more evidence that, at a time when hospitals are closing and health care is unavailable for tens of millions, treating mental health problems requires more from society than just prescribing dubious chemicals.

Many liberal commentators are taking this occasion to renew the demand for tougher gun laws. Yes, assault weapons are horrible, but so are bunker buster bombs, helicopters that fire thousands of rounds a minute, and the ultimate-nuclear weapons. Disarming the people is not the answer, especially when the government is armed to the teeth and uses brutality and coercion daily.

The best antidote to these tragedies is to build a movement for profound social change, a movement directed at solving the great problems depressing so much of humanity today, whether they be wars or global climate change or the loneliness of the dog-eat-dog society.

International Action Center- 55 West 17th St, 5C, New York, NY 10011 www.IACenter.org

* Contact us - http://iacenter.org/folder04/list.htm
* Donate to help with organizing - http://iacenter.org/iacdonate.shtml
* Become an IAC intern - http://iacenter.org/intern.htm


'Execution by lethal injection ... has the same relationship to medicine that an executioner's axe has to surgery.'

found in an article on the impossibility of execution in a human manner. For more details see this article.

The forgotten poor - Part I

Anita drew my attention to an article that I had briefly noted in the Deccan Herald of April 23, 2007, which can be found here. It is good enough to be reproduced here, without permission, of course.

The forgotten poor

By K N Hari Kumar

The mass media has in recent years rarely focused on the problems and plight of the poor in India.

The need for development journalism, or journalism from the perspective of improving the living conditions of the poor, has acquired fresh urgency in recent years. For, in our country today the poor have been largely forgotten, ignored, sidelined and marginalised in the national reform agenda of liberalisation and globalisation adopted by our political leadership. Except when the latter have been hit where it hurts — as in the last general elections when it was perceived that the votes of the poor had led to the defeat of the ruling coalition in the Centre. But this challenge, by those who have got little, if any, of the much-touted benefits from the decade-and-a-half-old reform programme, has not been of such a nature as to lead to a radical transformation of the policies and actions of the government, or even those of most of the politicians and parties in the opposition. Besides a few gestures, including some handouts and much lip service, the basic programme of the nation remains unchanged. Hence, the interminable discussion day in and day out in the public sphere about the rates of growth (of Gross Domestic Product, industry, IT exports mostly) aimed at and achieved and strategies to increase, ignoring the alternative human development index which was developed to measure diverse aspects of the quality of life of the common people.

It is in this context that the mantra 2020, the avowed goal of which is to transform us into a developed nation by that year, should be seen. That objective is sought to be achieved by a variety of methods and strategies. Among these are, first, providing huge monetary incentives to the rich and super rich largely in the urban areas as an incentive to greater entrepreneurial initiative. Second, providing massive support to develop Indian multi-national companies (MNCs) in modern industry and services largely in the private sector, while neglecting agriculture and those sectors serving the poor and the rural areas. Third, motivating the young to become greedy entrepreneurs with a get-very-rich-quickly at-any-cost and by-any-method ambition and drive. Fourth, focusing almost exclusively on English even for the masses and in the rural areas as a passport to great global professional and business success to the neglect of Indian languages. Fifth, encouraging the citizenry to mimic the consumerist and ostentatious lifestyles of the advanced western societies. And, finally and rather incredibly, attempting to get advanced nuclear and other largely military technologies from the United States in particular, by toeing its line on major foreign policy issues, to the detriment of the nation’s longstanding commitment to an independent, non-aligned foreign policy.

The ultimate goal of all this is said to be to transform our nation into a global economic, political and military superpower. By thinking and acting big, even gigantic, it is said, we can become big and great. And eventually we can join the club of the rich and the powerful and sit at their table and discuss issues and influence decisions affecting the destiny of nations and all of mankind. All this is sought to be encapsulated in the much-proclaimed slogan — the 21st century will be India’s. To what end is not clear. It could be surmised that the protagonists of such fantastic ambitions are the urban propertied and professional elite, whose income and wealth the reform programme has increased vastly, as well as those who really feel that by their getting to sit around the table in the rich man’s club they may actually be doing something worthwhile.

Following this lead, the mass media also has in recent years rarely, if at all focused on the problems and plight of the poor and the damage to their means of livelihood and the environment under the new policy regime. Nor has it deliberated on the need for initiatives and programmes to improve their condition and enable them to take control of their lives. Rather, reflecting perhaps its ownership and readership which has largely been the educated and propertied elite, it has only been expending large amounts of energy in enthusiastically exaggerating stories of great business successes in the domestic arena. It has been even more enthusiastic in devoting vast amounts of paper, words and pictures to hype the real and putative success stories of Indians, living in India and abroad, even those with foreign passports, in professional and entrepreneurial roles and in R and D, in the advanced western nations, especially in the US. These men and women, including sportspersons who have achieved greater and lesser international success, are the heroes of the new reform agenda and the values, ideology and perspective on which it is based. They are seen to have, almost miraculously, succeeded where their compatriots back home have tried and failed. They are being sought to be promoted as models to inspire the nation, especially its youth, to greater ambition and endeavour. Their successes are seen to give confidence to a nation that has lost faith in itself. They are evidence for our belief that we as a nation can, indeed, do it.

In trying to swim against what has lately become the mainstream of Indian opinion and policy, and focus attention on the plight of the poor, powerless and oppressed — their needs and hopes, their troubles and obstacles, their frustrations and demands, development journalists face an uphill task. For, it is not enough to divert readers/viewers away from juicy stories glorifying the successes of Indian and Indian-origin buccaneers in the national and global arena and celebrating their vulgar and gross conspicuous consumption and ostentatious lifestyles. (Amazingly, the national public outrage led by the media at the extravagantly ostentatious wedding celebration in Mumbai of a fabulously rich diamond merchant family from Antwerp just two decades ago has completely faded from memory). It also has to contend with the cheap titillation and voyeurism of the stories, photos and videos of the rich, famous and successful of diverse varieties, but especially youthful and nubile models and film stars, that have now become the staple of the media.

( The above essay was published in the second edition of Samparka Sethu, the Karnataka Directory of Development Writers. The writer thanks the publishers, Communication for Development and Learning for allowing its republication)

(To be concluded)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My article on meson scattering

I wrote an article on low energy meson scattering at high precision. It is posted on the arxiv with an abstract that reads:

A fascinating new generation of experiments has determined certain meson scattering parameters at high precision. A confluence of highly sophisticated theory as well as new experimental ideas have led to this state of affairs, which sheds important light on the properties of the strong interactions. A brief review of the experiments and the theory is presented.

It has been published in Current science and here is the the link.

Neutral-pion lifetime

Just as I thought that I had blogged enough, came this news about the neutral pion lifetime. The central value translates to a width of 7.83 eV. In my paper with Bachir Moussallam, we gave a central value of 8.06 eV. I am waiting to hear from him in this regard. In any case here is the entire story from this web-site:

The Lifetime of the Chargeless Pion

The lifetime of the chargeless pion, the lightest particle made of quark-antiquark pairs, has been determined to higher levels of precision in a new experiment at Jefferson Laboratory in Virginia. According to experimentalist Liping Gan (Univ of North Carolina-Wilmington), speaking at the APS meeting, the neutral pion lifetime is one of the few quantities that can be directly calculated (to about 1% precision) in quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong force, which holds together quarks and quark-containing objects.

In Jefferson Lab’s Primakoff Experiment, the researchers aim a gamma-ray beam at nuclei, which perpetually has a cloud of photons around it. Through a phenomenon known as the Primakoff effect, two photons (one from the target nucleus and another from the photon beam) interact and make a chargeless pion, which decays into two daughter photons.

Measuring the daughter photons reconstructs the details of the decay and provides lifetime information about the pions. The new experiment is more precise than past Primakoff effect experiments because the incident photons (produced from the deceleration of Jlab’s electron beam) are "tagged," meaning that the researchers can keep track of the numbers of incoming photons hitting the nuclear targets, as well as their energies.

When the photons emerge from the decay, an advanced calorimeter (called HyCal) is able to measure the daughter photons' trajectories and energies to high precision. Ashot Gasparian of North Carolina A&T State University said the calculated lifetime of the pion is 82 attoseconds with about a 2.9% error [(8.20+/-0.24)x10^-17 sec].

The new, preliminary result is two times more precise than the present value published in particle data tables [8.4+/-(0.6)x10^-17s], and the precision can potentially double as researchers analyze all of their data and finalize their result.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Physics stories of the last 3 months

Here are the links to some of the great happenings in the elementary particle physics world, with a few comments in my own words.

Here is the link to the story on the mixing of neutral D mesons. This was already observed a long time ago in the K and B meson systems. Mesons are particles with one quark and anti-quark. Quarks come in 6 flavours: up, down, strange, charm, b and top, given in order of increasing mass. K mesons have strange and a light quark, D mesons have a strange and a light quark, B have a b and a light quark. The effect is highly suppressed in the D meson systems and the BELLE experiment at KEK in Japan had a huge number of D mesons that they used to find the effect.

It is the BELLE experiment which also saw quantum entanglement in B-mesons. It is reported here in this preprint. The idea of entanglement was first given by Einstein, Rosen and Podolsky. I don't know much more about this.

The other great story is the result from the MiniBoone experiment. The AIP press release is entitled ``One Neutrino Anomaly is Resolved.'' Neutrino oscillations have been established beyond doubt in the last decade, first by the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and by the Super Kamiokande experiment in Japan. There were contradictory experimental findings from a Los Alamos Experiment which now seem to have been repudiated by the MiniBoone experiment.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Where have I been?

To my horror I see that it is almost three months since my last post. In fact, that post was on the morning of our visit to Madras, or should I say Chennai, for tourism. The denizens of that great city were probably surprised to know that anyone could think of their home as a tourist destination, but I certainly am one of them. Although I was sick as a dog on the train journey and on the first day of our holiday, and could not visit the Parthasarathi Koil, Kapaleshwarar Koil or Radha Silks with the family, I did manage to go to the beach and the next day to IIT, Mahabalipuram and Dakshina Chitra, and on the way back home we stopped at the University campus. Much water has flowed under various bridges since then. I was in Bombay early February to give a talk at the Tata Institute to honour Shasanka Mohan Roy and l'il ole me was asked to talk about the famous Roy equations of pion scattering. There were two other speakers, Virendra Singh, former director of TIFR who talked about their long collaboration stretching over decades and Anil Gangal who talked about the man. If you think I have not been doing anything, try again. I wrote an article on high precision meson scattering for Current Science which has now appeared inspired by my preparation for this talk. I also wrote a book review on a recent volume of Annual Reviews of Nuclear and Particle Science for Current Science. I was also busy with trying to wrap up some projects, and writing manuscripts. I will soon provide links to all of these with a small precis of each of the contributions. I have also been writing for Lokrajsangathan which may be found there.

So what has happened in the great world of science? First, I read that quantum entanglement has been seen in B-meson systems. I will try and do a post on this. Then some experiments have seen mixing of neutral D mesons for the first time. D mesons contain a charm quark. Such mixing has been seen in B meson systems long ago. I will try and say something about this. Then there is the important news on the MiniBoone experiment from Fermilab which does not see the neutrino anomaly reported by the Los Alamos experiment LSND. So that is a relief. Maybe I will do a post on this as well. Then there was the news that some of the magnets at the LHC have failed. So this may set back the LHC by some time, but I hope it is not serious. Is there anything else that I missed? I saw something about clusters of supermassive black holes. Maybe I should write something about this. Then there was an article on virgin births amongs Komodo dragons. I think that is enough science for 3 months. So, do not despair and keep watching this space.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Media matters

Normally I save my sanity by keeping away from all the garbage on TV and reports about the antics of media stars, sports celebrities and the like. But this time it is too much. I have never watched reality TV and I can only imagine how ghastly it must be. I understand that one of the important aspects of atleast the Big Brother show is that the participants are expected to be gratuitously obnoxious and rude to each other. So I don't understand what the fuss is all about. As Germaine Greer said some where, no one objected to our own pretty little Miss Shilpa Shetty being refered to as a 'dog' but the ****, so to speak, hit the fan when good old Jade Goody made remarks about her being an Indian. It is okay to make sexist remarks, but not okay to make racist remarks? All the coverage in our own media is at the horror that something like this could happen to one of us. One of our own pretty faces (don't get me wrong; I have nothing against pretty faces, being one myself) who was to receive a payment of, no kidding, 350,000 pounds for her appearance had to endure this humilation. Someone educated in our best schools, best colleges, with a background in acting, talent, karate, public speaking and what not, had to endure insults from a mere former dental nurse...what cheek?! But I guess all this has been said before. But I want to turn to something else, which no doubt others on the blogosphere also have: what about the biases, innate colour consciousness, status consciousness, class consciousness of our media. What is the last time we heard about l'il Shilpa and the ogre Jade from a Karupaiian, or a Manonmani or a Tamil-Arasi? Why is it that the anchors are aways the Nehas and the Nidhis, etc.? Why only wheatish TV anchors? I also want to turn to the issue of the humiliation of the millions of Indians everyday who one simply has to look out of the window and see...how about the humilation of those standing in lines for water, those rushing for bushes and getting crushed under the tyres, how about those getting laid off with a day's notice, those that go to bed hungry (bed, what bed? on the pavement on the streets of our great metropolises is more like it)? How about their humilation at the hands of not the Jane Goody's but at the hands of other Desis? But I digress...One of the points of this post is to try to break the bloggers break, but I not getting very far...let us see what happens...