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Two Things...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005 by Blogpur

OpenOffice has released OpenOffice 2. It's a must download. For those of you who do not know, it is an opensource Office package. Includes the equivalent of Word, Excel, Powerpoint plus a lot more including scientific calculation programs and the like.

It is fully compatible with Microsoft Office programs (ie. you can open .doc in it). It is completely free is better than Office in almost every respect. You have to give it a try. I did. It's the equivalent of Firefox in the Office world. Click here.

On that matter, Firefox Celebrates its 100 Millionth Download. If you havent already downloaded, do so NOW. It is so much better than IE in every respect. You are doing yourself a disservice if you are still with IE. Get Firefox.!

Btw, if you don't have GMAIL and need it, just give me a yell at (blogpur@gmail.com) and I'll send you an invite.

IMDB Makes Me Think

Tuesday, October 18, 2005 by Blogpur

Someone had to do it, and finally IMDB did it: they made me think. Jokes aside, IMDB is celebrating its 15th Birthday and they are listing their History as well as some of the best movies of this 15 year period. Underneath I have listed mine. [Indian movies excluded]

  1. L.A. Confidential
  2. Goodfellas
  3. Gangs of New York
  4. Porco Rosso
  5. Schindler’ List
  6. A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  7. Fargo
  8. Carlito’s Way
  9. Toy Story 2
  10. Spirited Away
  11. Minority Report
  12. City of God
  13. Bowling for Columbine
  14. The Godfather Part III
  15. Finding Nemo


Friday, October 14, 2005 by Blogpur

Is it just me or is Sanjay Manjrekar extremely good at commentating? I've been listening to him for a while now and he has some brilliant humour, insightful comments, a pleasing voice, reasonable lack of bias and a good knowledge of the game.

He is definitely my favourite commentator now!

(Still love Ian Chappell though~)

Then Again...

by Blogpur

In my last post I vehemently defended Ganguly and made some rather big claims, however this post is from the head, not the heart.

Perhaps like any great warrior, there is a time when the old must be shunted away and the new given their chance. Ganguly hasn't been the greatest player in the team in a while, he has a lot of biases and this is perhaps the reason why a crappy player (Yuvraj Singh) still has a chance when a far better player (Kaif) doesn't get as many. Perhaps the reason why Tendulkar is shunted to patrolling the boundaries, why Kumble (by far India's finest bowler ever) has to duel with Harbhajan Singh to get a place in the team.

What Wright left dormant for his 4 years on the job, Chappell let erupt in 4 months. Perhaps its a good thing aswell. The system can be cleansed and India can go and play with a new vigour. Dravid has been deputy for a while now and his fleeting marriage with Captaincy (which usually ends in a quick painless divorce) has been uninspiring to say the least. While he is a great batsman, he isn't the best captain going around.

I still firmly believe that Sachin Tendulkar was the best captain India never had. He was put into captaincy at a period when it was the most difficult. He had no great players, had no support and his own batting was letting him down. There is still a chance that his batting may let him down if he is captain again, but he is far more inspired, hungry, clever and cunning than Dravid will ever be.

Amongst "The Big Three", there is one man who has been overlooked time and again, and perhaps he even more so than Tendulkar was the best captain India never had: Anil Kumble. A fierce competitor, a brilliant tactitian, a determined warrior and a talented individual. He is also experienced enough to lead the Indian team to great things - it will never happen due to IP (no not Internet Protocol, Indian Politics). He could have been the one - he should have been the one.

Perhaps now it is too late for Kumble, so instead of trying an ageing man like Dravid or Tendulkar, they could hand the reins over to someone like Laxman or perhaps if the BCCI was daring enough - to someone like Kaif. See what happened to South Africa when they handed the captaincy to a young guy - a bit unconventional yet successful tactics.

Ganguly may have to go (perhaps not yet in the Test side) but if India wants to do well at the 2007 World Cup, they need someone or something more than Rahul Dravid. Dravid is the backbone of the team, if his batting collapses (due to captaincy or otherwise), you can kiss our chances goodbye.

A wash out is needed, its happening, it's just that the detergent applied should be worth it. Why waste another man's batting potential when we already got Ganguly who isn't scoring all that well (although it's not THAT bad). Dravid, Tendulkar, Kumble, Laxman, Kaif, all good at what they can do, but thats not the point. Are they good enough to do what Ganguly has done?

It Just Isn't Cricket

by Blogpur

Well, as most of you would know, Rahul Dravid has been appointed captain of the Indian ODI Team for the next two series. I maybe alone on this one, but that is the worst decision ever. Ganguly is not having a good time with the bat but lets take a closer look at that. As of the 2003 World Cup, Ganguly's run count stood at 8432. As of the Lankan series in 2005 it stood at 10,000. In between those, India played against Australia(2x), Pakistan(2x), Lanka (2x), South Africa, England, AUS-IND-PAK tri series, Champions Trophy, Asia Cup and against New Zealand. Barring injuries, other problems and so on, Ganguly played exactly 34 matches in that time.

Now some simple maths --- (10000-8432)/34 = 46. His average in this duration was 46 runs per match. Some enlighten me here - but isn't that fit to be Captain of any side in the world? Ponting mustered an average of 38.44 and his credibility is not being questioned.

Okay, some may say he hit it against minnows, but where among the above teams is a minnow? Forget even that. The point is Rahul Dravid isn't as good as Ganguly when it comes to captaincy. Ganguly built the team we have from the depths of the 2000 Match Fixing Scandal and took us to the world cup final. Drew even with Australia in Australia, Beat Pakistan in Pakistan, chased down 326 in a final, took India to the brink of victory in England and more than all these statistical achievments - instilled pride, fire and passion into the Indian team.

If there is a reason why the Indian team is doing reasonably well - it's because of him. Dravid just doesn't have that X Factor (although he is a far better batsman). Let me enthuse all of you with some quotes:

"I wasn’t, am not, and won’t be bothered. My team doesn’t require a (good conduct) certificate from the Australians..." - Quoted as saying to The Telegraph on the criticism against him and the team in the Aussie media - 2001 Series in India

At a time when India was being attacked viciously by Australians, Ganguly stood up against the boorishness. Who can forget when Michael Slate swore at the umpire for giving him out? When Ganguly was harrased on field by the Aussies - but when he returned fire it was "against the spirit of the game".

We need a man of passion and flair, a man who led from the heart. A man who became India's most successful captain on his own and against everyone else. A man who was thrown out of the Indian team in 1992 only to come back in 1996 and hit a century on debut. A man who along with Sachin and Inzi is the only person to hit 10000 ODI runs. We need Dada.

I wrote an article which was published on Cricinfo. Click here.

If anything, Indian cricket has become stagnant, and it's because of this power struggle. If Indian cricket must move - Rahul Dravid can be the captain. If it must move forward - Sourav Ganguly must be the captain.

The Development of Quantum Mechanics

Wednesday, October 05, 2005 by Blogpur

(Niels Bohr)

Over the years, scientists and in particular, physicists have worked tirelessly in qualifying and understanding quantum theory. There have been heated arguments over theories and the like and these arguments continue to take place even today. Some of the contributors are mentioned in this outline.

Bohr's Explanation of the Periodic Table

In 1922, Niels Bohr developed an explanation of the atomic structure that underlies the regularities of the periodic table. He considered that atoms are built up of shells of orbiting electrons (part of his model of the atom, derived from Rutherford's work) with shells filled by, in the case of uranium, 2, 18, 32, 18 and 6 electrons. Uranium is the element with the highest naturally occuring atomic number. He couldn't, however, explain why these were the maximum numbers of electrons in the shells.
No 72, Bohr predicted, when found would not have the properities of a rare earth element but have a valency of 4, something like zirconium. Scientists who worked on this found that Bohr was correct. In the same year (1922) Bohr was awarded the Nobel Prize.

Heisenberg and Bohr

Werner Heisenberg heard Bohr's lectures on the periodic table and although he was impressed, he wasn't convinced and thought he found some gaping holes in Bohr's theories. He objected to one of Bohr's statements. Bohr identified him as a "smart person" and admired his determination and courage to speak out against him. Bohr and Heisenberg went to Copenhagen to jointly work on quantum theory. Heisenberg rejected Bohr's electron orbits idea mechanically, but looked into it numerically.

Heisenberg Develops Quantum Mechanics
In May 1925 Heisenberg developed his mathematical theory of quantum mechanics. In the next few months he worked with Max Born and Pascual Jordon to develop what he called 'a coherent mathematical framework, one that promised to embrace all the multifarous aspects of atomic physics.'

(Bohr - Heisenberg - Pauli)

Pauli Applies Quantum Mechanics to Hydrogen

Wolfgang Pauli, with much difficulity successfully applied it to the Hydrogen atom. He derived Balmer's equation as well as Rydberg's constant using quantum mechanics instead of numerical manipulation. Bohr did the same thing in 1913, but he did it with incosistencies between Classical Mechanics and Quantum Mechanics - he was very happy that his theories were supported by Quantum Mechanics alone.

Pauli's Exclusion Priniciple
From the Bohr model of the atom, the first quantum number specified was the principal quantum no , n, the second quantum number was the angular momentum number, l, and the third was the magnetic quantum number, m.

Pauli used these and came up with another quantum number. In 1925, Pauli's fourth quantum number - the spin number was introduced. This he felt could explain the maximum number of electrons in each shell. The maximum number of electrons coresponded to the number of different sets of quantum numbers available for each shell. Pauli's exclusion principle states that no two electrons can have the same set of quantum numbers.

The exclusion principle provided the reason for electrons in atoms being arranged in shells with the maximum number of electrons being 2, 8, 18, 32, 18, 8 from the first to the sixth shell.

Schrodinger Thinks Different:
Einstein's involvement ensured that De Broglie's work on the wave nature of particles was understood and appreciated by many, having read this work, Erwin Schrodinger in 1925 read a comment of Einstein's about the De Broglie theory. Schrodinger was certain that the comment which Einstein made was much more than just an analogy of De Broglie's work. Schrodinger set to work upon restoring concepts of waves to quantum theory. He derived equations that were similar to equations which explained real waves. It seemed that Schrodinger's work had brought Quantum closer theory to a much more palatable area - Classical Mechanics.

However, it was not long until scientists, including themselves, discovered that Heisenberg's and Schrodinger's approaches were very much the same thing - only different versions. Schrodinger was very dissapointed that his "waves" were not waves at all, they were just theoretical analysis given to the electron orbits. Max Born found a way to interpret Schrodinger's waves; he related them to the probability of finding an electron at a particular location.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle:
Heisenberg after seeing Born's work set out to continue the idea of an electron's location further. In 1926, Heisenberg showed that uncertainty was an inherent property of all quantum mechanics. He showed that if the velocity of an electron is accurately found, then the position of it cannot be and vice versa. This of course led to his famous equation:

Although he did not realise at the time, this breakthrough has laid the foundations for all quantum mechanics.

(Fermi - Dirac - Heisenberg)

The Dirac Equation:

Paul Dirac extended quantum mechanics further. He derived the equation which added relativity to quantum mechanics. It correctly predicted the spin of electrons (which is a relativistic effect). Dirac also predicted the existence a particle like the electron with a positive charge. This was then named the positron when Anderson observed it in 1932. Dirac also explained that the equations of quantum and classical mechanics are not that dissimilar. He explained that classical mechanics' equations can be derived from quantum mechanics when using large quantum numbers or using Planck's constant as zero instead of h (6.626 E -34).

Now that I have completed my most exhaustive post ever, I'll leave you all with a quote that is entirely applicable to the above:

I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics.
- Richard Feynman

Heat - the Fire Rages On...

Saturday, October 01, 2005 by Blogpur

Michael Mann's Heat is a seismic semaphore, a conjunction of the best available, a saga of crime involving the two greatest actors of the last 30 years. Indeed, epic is perhaps the most unlikely word for a film that runs some 2hrs and 40mins long. As much as it is about crime, Mann's masterpiece is about the consequences of crime and the repercussions on the families of those involved in crime, on both sides of the law.

As McCauley (De Niro) sets up his next major score, Hanna (Pacino) traces his footsteps with unrelenting passion “I've got three dead bodies on the street, I'm sorry if the damn chicken got overcooked” he says to his wife. Unlike many of the noirish thrillers both actors have been involved, Heat provides the viewer with a rather likeable depiction of Los Angeles. The sprawling metropolis is captured in its glory; the seedy underbelly is laid to rest. Mann's film thrives on the sonic and visual indulgence he creates.

Much has been said of the standoff between the two giants, Pacino and De Niro. Mann cleverly makes us wait and wait and wait. Half way into the film, the titans come head on, in the most unlikely of places – a coffee shop. Mann only did one take on this scene to get the full flavour of the Pacino vs De Niro effect and it comes off wonderfully. The scene buzzes with electricity on every level, from the dialogue to the finest of nuances on the faces of Pacino and De Niro, it is indeed a true testament to the acting calibre of the two.

As the investigation proceeds, both Hanna's and McCauley's worlds start falling apart. Hanna's third marriage comes to a precipice and topples. McCauley's new found love finds her self betrayed to and both the protagonists are torn between their profession and their personal lives. Indeed, the ultimate message of Mann's film is that robbers and cops are much the same. He wonderfully exemplifies this with the final stages of the film where Hanna and McCauley hunt shadows and almost end up shooting themselves – one is the shadow of the other, Mann seems to prophesise.

The operatic shooting in the streets of CBD Los Angeles has a deft touch to it. Nothing is solved and the denouement doesn’t occur straight after, Mann’s directorial vision comes to the fore and unlike so many he doesn’t slip into the tempting waters of mediocrity. Much of his character studies seem typical, yet they work so convincingly and are meticulously crafted that this is a forgivable flaw.

Pacino and De Niro only see each other twice, once in the coffee shop and once later on, both these meetings are on a placid note, yet both these meetings are extremely powerful. Needless to say, they both act with cold precision. Cops and robbers are bread and butter to these men, but they bring home another distinctive outing. De Niro, is chillingly wonderful as Neil McCauley and this is perhaps his last definitive role in the last 10 years. Seeing De Niro relegate himself to prankish comedies is an exercise in mediocrity for a man who along with Pacino defined a generation.

Pacino also shines in this film but the viewer will appreciate that this isn’t his best outing, he has done better work. Regardless, a slightly above average Pacino is still heads and shoulders above the rest of Hollywood with a few notable exceptions. Pacino, unlike De Niro, in the last 10 year (after Heat) has brought to his resume a deliciously exciting body of work and more is to come.

Mann’s film brings the best of opera, cinema, theatre and music into a mix that is socially alert as it is vigilant. This is among the best films of the 1990s.


"This isn't right, this isn't even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli.

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