Wells : Bringing Science to Life

Take any popular science magazine.
The first page will probably say:”Quantum Invisibility Cloak Prototype Released.”
A few pages down the line, you might find a write up on Martian sightings in California. And perhaps the next page talks about the quantum mechanical possibilities of time travel.

Absurd as they may sound, these ideas have become commonplace in contemporary world. Exactly a hundred years ago no one talked of invisibility,time travel or alien invasions.

So what has changed over the past century? The answer is Herbert George Wells.

H.G. Wells has recreated the world of science fiction with his literary masterpieces most notably The Invisible Man, War of the Worlds and The Time Machine.

Even before J.K. Rowling introduced us to invisibility cloaks, Wells’  The Invisible Man narrated the story of a scientist who invents a way to change a body’s refractive index to that of air so that it absorbs and doesn’t reflect light and thus becomes invisible. Though initially nothing more than mere fiction, the idea of invisibility has inspired scientists to devise methods to reflect incident light and render objects invisible.

Let’s set invisibility aside, maybe Harry Potter would’ve brought one to the Muggles someday. But the idea of life on Mars was first introduced in the work ‘The War of The Worlds’ in which Martians invade Earth. It is perhaps this book that has created the deepest impact on popular culture than any other work of science fiction.

H.G.Wells has yet again beat Rowling by successfully travelling through time even before Hermione got her hands on a time turner. Though Wells initially introduced time travel in his short story The Chronic Argonauts, the idea was popularized through the novel released later.

Although his name has faded with time, the influence of H.G. Wells is with us to this day. Along with Jules Verne, he is yet another great mind that deserves the title “Father of Science Fiction.”

For more such articles, follow the August issue of the magazine Furore-Schrodinger’s Hat.

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Five Best Movie Fight Scenes (for the fantasy fan)

Sure wizards duels are cool, but let us set Harry Potter aside for a moment, and look at some of the awesome-st combat scenes in fantasy movies that pumps up your adrenaline.

1. Pirates of Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Will Turner vs. Captain Jack Sparrow vs. Commodore Norrington : Over the the ruins, perching on the edges, rolling over the wheel, inside the wheel- the fight for the Dead Man’s Chest is probably the most entertaining fight scene you’ll see in your life time. It is not just the technique but also the style of the sword play, that leaves you gaping till the end. To add cherry to the topping Pintel and Raggetti with Elizabeth Swann bring laughter amidst the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs.’

2.The Matrix:
There is no need to say it out loud, but Neo’s slow-motion-bullet-dodging scene could be the most imitated fighting scene move in history. I bet you’ve thought you can do that in real life, haven’t you?

3.Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Anakin Skywalker fighting his Jedi master Obi Wan Kenobi while surrounded by a sea of lava. The clash of the light sabers and the Jedi acrobatics are truly unforgettable. A non Star Wars fan may disagree, but no weapon is more suited for a combat scene than a light saber.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
You might think that the Chronicles of Narnia movies are for kids, and I cannot say I disagree, but the sword fight between Peter and King Miraz is a must watch for any one who loves an onscreen duel. It is the sort of combat that takes one back to the Medieval days.

5. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
Alright don’t gag seeing the name of the movie, but the fight with the Volturi was honestly the best scene of the series. In addition to providing an interesting twist from the book’s original plot, the supernatural battle scene with werewolves and vampires is one of the coolest we have seen in the last one year.

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Edward Snowden: Hero or Traitor?

For starters, this Edward is not a sparkling vampire.

If you haven’t already heard, Edward Snowden is a former NSA(National Security Agency) interception of US and European telephone metadata and the PRISM and Tempora Internet surveillance programs.

Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden

You must’ve seen this guy’s picture atleast once on the news, a young white male with auburn hair sporting glasses, and you might also have wondered what all the buzz was about, but might have heard something in pig latin like the above sentence.

So let us clear things up: Edward Snowden is the guy who leaked out the information that governments in the US and Europe were collecting private information of their people as well as those of other countries by accessing every possible nook and corner of all secure data on the internet.

This basically means the ‘big boss’ knows everything from your browsing history to your personal messages, passwords and your deepest secrets. These data rightfully the private property of the people, are accessed by NSA and CIA in the name of ‘finding security threats’ and ‘national defense’.

Snowden, a former employee of a company that worked of NSA, has leaked to the press about the American and British mass surveillance done using top secret programs such as PRISM. Snowden said the leaks were an effort “to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” A man on the run, he is a wanted criminal for the U.S. government, and is considered a traitor by half the American population and the entire Obama Administration who will stop at nothing to get him.

And for his selfless efforts, Snowden’s true fear was that the public wouldn’t care about the revelations, already having submitted to the fact that internet privacy is no longer their right, even though constitutionally it is so.
His fears are not baseless considering how 44% of Americans consider Snowden a traitor, and the international community is keeping mum about supporting Snowden.

Nevertheless many people all over the world,including technocrats like Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, and the famous whistle blowers like Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, have shown outright support for Snowden, hailing him a hero. At HongKong where he was initially hiding out, the people had taken to the streets appealing to their government to protect their hero from U.S. extradition. Why Assange, reportedly, has even funded, Snowden’s stay in HongKong and has appealed to Ecuador to provide exile to Snowden.

At times of public deceit like these, telling the truth becomes utterly important. But will the people remain willfully ignorant, and unwilling to acknowledge their own rights? Or do they believe that this idealist on a manhunt is a hero?
Well ‘the people’ are conflicted!!

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Let them keep telling you what to do…

‘Don’t let yourself be trapped by dogma which is living with the result of other people’s thinking’
- Steve Jobs.
‘Dogma’: Wikipedia defines it as a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
And ‘dogma’ decides who we are, and what we should be from the day the nurse hands you over to your mother.

From the day we were born the baby boys were dressed in beautiful blue and the girls in pretty pink. And on birthdays every Aunt Muriel and Uncle Tom, gets your brother a toy car and your sister a Barbie doll,you don’t question why.

Shakespeare says ‘All the world’s a stage; men are merely players.’ This is how the script of your life goes:

You start going to school and your dad promises a new cycle for an A grade in math. From then on you take to the habit doing your homework for every new video game your parents promised.

One day your parents run into your old neighbor Mrs.Smith at the mall. Your parents strike up a conversation which takes a sudden turn from her Gucci handbag her son gifted her to her elder daughter’s perfect GMAT scores. And when the endless conversation does end and you go home, your parents start a word by word replay of it for you complete with annotations, and you wonder how a harmless handbag could cause all the uproar.

A few years later, after your parents have successfully talked you out of joining a drama school or studying literature, you spend the last two years of high school pouring over mathematical formulas, chemical equations and Newtonian physics and manage to enroll at the best engineering college in your locality. You expect this to be the happy ending, but the talk-of-the-town is the Harvard acceptance letter of some son of your third-cousin- twice removed. You realize the battle is not over; apparently the brother of this son of the the third-cousin-twice-removed has got a job offering from Microsoft, and now your parents are talking about your job.
You roller-coaster your way through four years of college and another three years of post graduation, learning marketing. The logicality of your post graduate degree is never clear to you, but you play along with the social trend. Your relatives are already talking about how you haven’t settled, so ………..

I have come this far. The rest is for you to fill up.

P.S. Or do you want to tear up the script, and write one on your own?

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Moon Landing Hoax:How Mickey Mouse Scammed and Micheal Jackson Died

So what if I told you Mickey Mouse was a part of the conspiracy that fooled you into believing that first man landed on the moon? A part of the hoaxes staged by NASA and other organizations to fake the Apollo program and the associated Moon landings. Shocked??!! Walt Disney supposedly sponsored the million-dollar hoax of the very first moon landing. Or so says blokes from the Flat Earth Society, who also (not surprisingly) argue that the earth is flat. They are not the only ones, moon landing conspiracy theory was sparked off by a writer who wrote about rockets, followed up by a folklorist and a space journalist and later publicized by a radio talk show host, a philosophy professor,a French author, a Russian politician and a plethora of random people who vehemently believed that NASA has been running the biggest scam in human history.

Moon Landing Hoax?

The conspiracy theorists have convinced themselves with a list of unconvincing observations about the first moon landing, like how the American flag in Apollo 11 photographs are not waving (well, they are ‘photographs’), why the stars are not visible in pictures from the moon (maybe it was day time), and more importantly, how the astronauts made foot prints on the moon’s surface while the Lunar Module weighing 17 tons did not (no arguments here). Also it seems highly suspicious that every manned moon landing orchestrated by NASA was under Nixon’s presidency!! (Is Nixon the puppet master?!)
Nonetheless, United States is said to have strong motives to put up a fake show: for one thing they did have to outshine the Russians in the Cold War. NASA could have also payed off many people with the mission’s funds to cover up their embarrassment of being incompetent. Some say the ‘moon landings’ were a ploy to distract public from the ongoing Vietnam War. Funny enough, the U.S. manned landings suddenly ended about the same time that the United States ended its role in the Vietnam War.

Fox Entertainment has come up with a list of people related to the manned spaceflight program who have died unnatural deaths (ranging from getting hit by a flying bird in mid flight to automobile collision with a train). These ‘accidents’, they say, were attempted cover ups to hush anyone who knew too much.
Well, I won’t be surprised. A certain theorist says N.A.S.A. even killed Micheal Jackson for stealing their MoonWalk thunder. The King of Pop was assassinated on the anniversary of the initial moon landing and the first moon walk, because MJ’s moonwalk was more popular than NASA’s.
“NASA hated that and they killed him.”
What would you say?

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500 bucks…………. Are you game?

Samsung Galaxy S4 is the unbeatable smart phone in the market. Or so they say…Not sure? OK! Let’s play a game.
You are blindfolded, and given S4 and S3 in your hands… Go ahead and pick S4. Can you do it?

If you are the design junkie you are going to be disappointed. Slimmer? Yes. But otherwise S4 is a carbon copy of its predecessor: the same chassis with the same old volume and power buttons. They also weigh exactly the same despite S4′s slightly thinner design. The backplate is fortunately less flimsy, so you won’t have panic attacks worrying you might break it.

S3 vs. S4

But let’s not judge a book by its cover. S4 has caught up with it’s rival HTC One with its very own Infrared Blaster, a sensor above the screen that can be used for remote control of TVs and other consumer equipment via Samsung’s WatchON app. S4 also has a humidity sensor in addition to thermometer. However you can say goodbye to your good old radio channel: S4 lacks FM sensors, a disappointment for the old souls.
S4 has stepped up its game with 2 mega pixel front camera, and 13 mega pixel rear camera. But what makes it great for capturing the picture perfect memories is the Dual Camera Record, allowing both camera’s to record simultaneously- an innovation not seen previously. The Sound and Shot feature lets you record sound while capturing pictures, making S4 the forerunner in multitasking.
Like Xperia Z and Lumia, Samsung Galaxy S4 comes with wireless charging- though the feature is still new to the world of smart phones. But on the downside S4 does not have USB interface.

The one thing distinctly different about S4 is its higher RAM- almost double that of S3, but possesses the same internal storage and card storage memory. Though the gadget comes with 16 GB memory printed on its handset, what the manufacturers have forgotten to mention is that only half of it is user accessible, and this has upset many Android fans.

A slightly better resolution, camera quality, CPU speed and onscreen keyboard design is going to be insufficient to please the smartphone maniacs who have got used to expecting a lot from Samsung and its peers. Moreover S4 seems to do little more than add a higher price tag for last years S3. For all its worth the smartphone-under-scrutiny costs more that 550 USD. There is no other reason not to have it. Are you game?

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In loving memory of a beloved ‘mother’ : Sukumari

March 27th 2013. At three in the morning, I had given preference to Facebook over my semester finals. For once I didn’t regret the decision, for if I hadn’t made that choice I wouldn’t have seen the new update on my News Feed: ‘Veteran South Indian actress Sukumari passes away.’

I stood shocked for a moment, then sat down and wept.

Sukumari was a filling presence in South Indian cinema. Especially in Malayalam film industry, she was lovingly known as a ‘mother’, a title deservingly given to only one other veteran actress KPAC Lalitha.

Sukumari

Sukumari was popular for the motherly characters she portrayed. A National Film Award and Padma Shri recipient, she acted in over 100 films in her career. Besides being a talented actress, she was also a gifted dancer, touring all over India with her famous first cousins, the Travancore Sisters, Padmini, Lalitha and Ragini. She has won the Film State Awards in Kerala as well as Tamil Nadu multiple times.

But it was not her achievements that made her endearing, it was her ‘presence’.
I still recall the very first movie I watched. My parents took me to the film theater, when I was barely two, to watch the Malayalam box-office hit Chandralekha, in which Sukumari was acting. Ever since then I have seen her in almost every Malayalam movie I’ve watched or loved to watch, so much so that I have come to think of her as a grandmother.

The glory of Indian film industry is now soon fading, the spotlight of immortal, evergreen actors being taken over by less worthy contemporaries. What once was an era of witty humour, catchy dialogues, and unforgettable on-screen characters has given way to vulgarity,X-rated jokes, and provocative scenes.
I am not exaggerating when I say that with Sukumari’s passing, a part of my past has also died.

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Through the ‘looking’ Glass

“ok glass,say hello friend in spanish.”
Voila “HOLA AMIGO,” is displayed on the your sun-glasses.
Sounds like one of those gadgets in Duck Dodgers?

Say hola to the new smart phone, or more aptly smart ‘glass’- Google’s new show-stealer.

Google Glass

To those who haven’t caught up, I am talking about Google Glass. Glass is Google’s new visionary invention, a wearable ubiquitous computer. It is designed to carry out almost every action that you used to rely on your smart phone for, but with a twist.
You can take pictures and videos, send them, translate text to any language, check the weather and find the route, on the go.
Glass is a simple frame with a head-mount display, weighing less than your average sun glasses. The nearer end of the right arm has a miniature CPU attached to it, complete with a camera and a prism that acts as visual overlay. The prism refracts the image from the CPU into the wearer’s eye. The battery is located at the farther end of the right arm. With its compact make and cool design, I think it beats Lara Croft’s hi-tech goggles bigtime.

So what does Google Glass exactly do? Well, almost anything from video recording, searching online, to finding your location through inbuilt GPS and syncing it through the internet. It also shares live video, sends text messages and emails and translates text for you on the spot- just perfect for a stealth mission.

While everyone’s getting starry-eyed over this new ‘cool toy,’ skeptics and cynics have been busy. The lack of privacy is the first major concern. Government institutes, schools, banks,museums and gyms have already expressed their distaste for the Glass. Glass also threatens to take away individual privacy: the wearer can Google any innocent passer-by with facial recognition.
But of course this is possible for the average buyers only is he can steal the gadget because it’s current market price is 1500 bucks, not so much cutting into the budget. Google has yet to make it’s official release, stating that the cost will definitely be reduced in open market. also with its capsulized battery, glass is not expected to run for more than 4 to 5 hours without recharging. Quite inconvenient for a handy on-the-go device.

Right now the gadget is available only for Google Developers, but if you want to get your hands on it, stay tuned.

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Facebook Home: the new ‘it’ ?

Google’s Android has become the mobile operating system every one unanimously loves. It is the next generation of portable personal computer, or maybe not. The one disadvantage in Android bugging every smart-phone-maniac is its inability to run multiple apps at once. On your old-school desktop PC you can Skype chat, run a couple software updates while waiting for your browser to load. But in your smartphone you would have to sit with your Facebook app while it downloads the zillion notifications in to your news feed. Well, not any more.

Facebook Home

That’s were Facebook Home comes in, Facebook Inc.’s newest release of your favorite app. Facebook Home is a family of apps, that puts ‘your friends at the heart of your phone.’
OK, translating from geek to English, Home updates all your FB notifications, messages and chats on to your screen even when you are using other apps. To top it all, it also allows you to chat with multiple friends through Facebook simultaneously.
Doesn’t sound like much? Wait for it.
Cover Feed displays a stream of posts on to your screen as soon as you turn on your phone. In Facebook’s words, “it puts the spotlight on whatever friends are sharing now—photos, status updates, links and more.”
Notifications on calls, events and updates stick around on your screen till you deal with them.
Annoying much? But here’s the good part: you can swipe away the one’s you are not interested in and keep the ones you want.
Chatting with your best friend while you catch up on last night’s game is good,but chatting with all of your friends simultaneously is better. Facebook Home lets you switch between chat windows with just a click on your friend’s profile picture on the screen.
But the best part of Facebook Home is the app launcher. It keeps all your favorite apps in one place, personalizing your system even more, truly making you feel at ‘home’.

Everything sounds great, waiting to download the new cool app? Sorry to disappoint, but here’s the bad news. While it is open for free download from Google Play, it can only be used in HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II. This substantially shrinks the potential market for the app.

With the changing licensing rights on mobile apps, it should be possible for all smartphone users to have a taste of Facebook Home soon enough. Dearest Apple fans, hang on in there..

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‘Fashion Rebel’ in CE 2000+

The Hollywood’s got it wrong. They don’t wear black tees, gothic makeup and have extensive piercings. The Bollywood’s got it wrong too. They don’t come in buttoned-down shirts with rolled up sleeves, baggy pants, long hair and a dangling earring.

The ‘fashion rebel’ in 21st century cannot be defined by the stereotypic flashy outfits. The ‘rebel’ stands out because he cannot be imitated. Being a rebel is more about the attitude and less about the attire.
The fashion rebel is the one who wears a plain T shirt to a million dollar fund raiser. He is the one who doesn’t bother about flaunting his status-quo with his million-dollar neck tie. She is the lady wearing sneakers to a ballroom dance. The ‘rebels’ are the ones who don’t feel the pressing need to adhere to social conformities about what they should wear and when.
The bottom line is the rebel dresses to yell a big ‘NO’ to ‘the crowd’.
Now there is the other category of people: the majority or ‘the crowd’. ‘The crowd’ dresses to impress the people around them. It can also be to portray themselves as belonging to a certain class in society. The members of this ‘crowd’ try too hard to fall into the niches already set by our culture: ‘the trend setters’, ‘the nerds’,’ the conventional’ and the list goes on. And this is where the ‘rebels’ stand out. They dress to ‘express’ not to ‘impress’.

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