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Showing posts from August, 2015

Why do birds move their heads back and forth while walking?

Like I've mentioned a couple of times earlier, there are amazing things around us, wonderful science to learn from, if only we cared enough to ask the right questions. This was one such question I asked recently. There are a good number of birds here at IITM so a while back, I was looking at them as they were walking on the ground. And while they were walking, all of them were moving their head back and forth. Well, at least at the time it looked like that, as though they were moving their head with every other step they took on the ground. I asked friends of mine who were around at the time why they thought birds did so and they guessed that balancing themselves had something to do with it. I asked an ecologist friend of mine if she knew the answer and when she didn't know the answer, I gave up looking for the answer.

I noticed this again yesterday and I realized that I could've asked the internet the same question. So I did. Apparently, I was looking at it wrong apparen…

Pocket reading list : Part 7

Albert Woodfox’s Forty Years in Solitary Confinement : I don't know if there's such a thing as solitary confinement in Indian prisons but the idea sounds kind of absurd. I've read a couple of other articles on the short term and long term effects of long term isolation, isolation not just from human company but isolation from pretty much everything on Earth other than food, water or air. This is the absurd story of how one man has been confined in solitary confinement and his attempts to repeal the state's decision and get out of jail have all been in vain. This article goes brilliantly with another one that talks about how much power parole boards yield in the USA.

Mapping how the United States generates its electricity : I love beautiful visualizations and there are a couple of news outlets that make good ones. This is one of those. If you're looking for more, Upshot by the NYT might be a good place to start.

New Laws Explain Why Fast-Growing Networks Break : Human…

Pocket reading list : Part 6

Dammit! I missed a day. But I guess this makes it easier. I can stop tomorrow, before the weekend and I will have hit my mark of 70. Do you guys think I read too much? And I really hope at some point on the other in my life, I feel like I have time to take a more quantitative look at my pocket reading behavior. There was a Data Scientist job posting available at Pocket and I was half interested in actually putting in an application, even though I have ZERO experience as one. I have enough mails to write and applications to fill. I guess I'll worry about this once I get settled. Dammit, I shouldn't have said that.

The Shawshank Residuals : Everyone has watched (or at least heard of) the movie 'The Shawshank Redemption'. It's a brilliant movie with many things to take away. This is about the money that the actors take away from the movie i.e the residual checks the actors get to this day given the popularity of the movie. It's similar to what happens to the actor…

Pocket reading list : Part 5

I wonder how many people I've alienated by incessantly posting these articles on facebook/twitter. I guess that is one of the reasons I'm doing this, to see if there are people who still go on facebook looking for something interesting to read. We're at half-a-century now.

The Benefits of Being Cold : An interesting read on how being cold will keep one's metabolic rate high thereby burning more calories and losing weight (while doing nothing). Other than for the fact that it'll take a while to get used to the cold temperature, it's worth trying out one day, just to see if it works.

Endangered Dog Breeds and the Market Forces Behind Them : I'm dumb for not having realized that all dog breeds belong to the same species, given the diversity in their shapes and sizes. And I've also never bothered knowing why a Sheep dog is called so or why a Dachshunds (meaning badger hounds in German) is called so. This is an interesting tale of how wolves came to be domest…

Pocket reading list - Part 4

Most of the time I try write from my memory, write about what I remember of the article or write bout what I attribute the article to. This time I had to actually open the links and see what the article was about or it's main theme. I guess a couple of stories will seep through and I can't really expect to retain all that I've given, given how much I've read. Also, sometimes, what I write about the article might be completely different from what it is. I apologize if you dig into an article expecting something from how I described it. I apologize for that in advance. But I still think you should read them. I found them interesting. Just saying. Anyway, I guess this brings the total to 40 so far.

Justine Sacco Is Good at Her Job, and How I Came To Peace With Her - The first of my list of favorites on Pocket. Everybody says dumb things from time to time and in some cases, if you're unlucky, the dumb thing you say might be broadcast to a million people and eventually …

Pocket reading list - Part 3

Up in the Air: Meet the Man Who Flies Around the World for Free - The story of a man who figured out how to game the airplane ticketing system to rack up miles, enough in fact to be have been flying for almost an year non-stop. It reminds me of the George Clooney movie where the lead actor himself prefers flying and living in hotels to living at home and being among family i.e lead a conventional life. I did not know that the air ticketing industry could be gamed to such an extent and I intend to try it out myself one day!

The Web We Have to Save - Though preachy at times, there is a subtle message to be taken away from this article. The author, rightly, points out that definition of the what internet is grows narrower and narrower by the year. I read a study where a large number of teenagers associated facebook and other social networking sites as the internet. In fact they went as far as to say that they weren't online but they were on facebook. The internet was supposed to disse…

Pocket reading list - Part 2

Well, going further back in time, here are 10 more favorites from my Pocket account. On another note, I really wish there were some sort of user metrics available from Pocket. For example, how long does it take for me to read an article vs average time, how long are my articles on an average, what time of the day do i read the articles and so on. Anyway, here goes -

The Real Landscapes of the Great Flood Myths - Most mythology has historic reasons behind it and this is the story of how geologists put together the events of the past, which were coincidentally paraphrased in the local mythology. I'm growing to love history as a subject and it's importance is slowly dawning on me.

La Vida Robot - A beautiful and inspiring story of school boys who came together, under the guidance of a school teacher, to compete in a national robotics championship, their struggles while designing the robot for the competition and ingenuity in building the robot.

High Tech - This is the story of how …

Pocket reading list - Week 1

I read a lot. A lot. While I don't read as many books as I wish I did, I do read a lot of articles on the internet. I don't know when exactly it started, sometime in my second year I guess. And I used read most of it online, in my browser, with god-knows-how-many tabs open. And then I found Pocket! And the awesome part is that I now get to look back at the articles which I found interesting whenever I want to, instead of having to bookmark the articles like I used to earlier. And not to mention, the ability to read offline! Anyway, here's a bunch of articles I found interesting. The list of favorites is fairly large so I can't dump them all at once and it'll be an interesting day when I would've exhausted them all!

A Quirk of Fluid Dynamics - We all know how water splashes when we drop a marble in it. Being physicists, these people wanted to know exactly what was happening at the water surface and what would happen if we dropped objects of different shapes onto…