Saturday, August 26, 2006

Duality of Matter-Energy

This is my post on Atanu Dey's blog.

Absolute truth is “absolute”. The physical universe is not a conception of human intellect but is an aboslute. We can only ascribe characteristics to it which fall under the realm of human understanding, and science enables us to do this. However, our conception of the physical universe is largely based on what we observe, and to be fair to science, that’s the best we can do. However, what we really know is very little and what possibly lies out there is huge. Imagining impossible things (within the constraints of our understanding) need not be be “magic”. There is a scientifc process which enables us humans to theorize and imagine the impossible (akin to Einstien single handedly theorizing the space-time continuum).

Perpetual motion machines are an impossiobility given the constraints of the inherent duality of matter and energy. It is one nature’s fundamental laws. However, it is our “realization” of an absolute truth that underlies this behavior.

What theories are for is to push this understanding by creating boundaries and constraints to this observed behavior. That is what Einstein did when he reshaped our understading of Newtonian laws. Currently, there is little which can push this duality between matter and energy.

Finally, I also have to add that we have greater problems dealing with mere fossil fuels before we can even get to these PMMs.

What is logical, is still based on the dominant conceptions of reality. New evidence in science has trumped dominant logic time and again.

It might be wishful thinking from my part to imagine PMM’s, but the hope that is of at least a clean energy (if not free) is a rational and non-magical one.

Atanu Dey on India’s Development » “Free” Energy? Not Really — Part 2

Atanu Dey on India’s Development » “Free” Energy? Not Really — Part 2

Atanu's reeponse to my post on PMMs.

New pricing for gasoline

2007 Dodge Ram SRT10: Overpriced, Overpowered and Proud of It - New York Times

I always felt that I am overpaying at the pump because of the large Dodge Ram truck that pulled over beside me. I suggest there be a new pricing mechansims where owners of gas-guzzlers pay more for their excesses. Why shoudl an individual who decides to drive a non-decript furl efficient car pay the same as someone who drives an ugly gas-guzzler?

The gas-guzzler tax imposed by the government is not a solution as the owners of this beasts do not really feel the pinch. Soem of my friends argue that the owners of these vehicles are already penalized by the intrinsic low mileage-nature of the products they use. I don't care.. I want more punsihment, I want them to pay more per gallon than I do. Not just more per mile!!!

My room mate is a big fan of Dodge because he thinks it is manly. What firm in its right mind (except for Chrysler of course.. god I hate the firm), is concerned only about the customer constituency and does not care much about the environmental constituency. I am not a green flag touting environmentalist, but I do hold an opinion that firms which just don't care about the environment should just not exist. I mean, even from a market perscpetive, how dumb can you be to launch products such as these in today's world. GM, has a lineup of new SUV's i cannot believe it!! Don't they ever realize that they are messed up !! Well, in a way it is good that these firms are selecting themselves out of the landscape, making it is easier for the rest of us.

What's Open Source eating into?

Open Sources | InfoWorld | Who are the losers, now that open source is winning? | August 24, 2006 07:55 AM | By Matt Asay

This is a very nice article specifying where the wins for Open Source are coming in from. Unlike the imagination of hard right enthusiasts open source who would like to imagine that the Open Source is taking a bite out of traditional vendor's plates, the reality is that the open source momentum is creating whole new markets, particularly in the SME domain.

The author makes a good point that there should be peaceful co-existence with the proprietary world. This is obviously the liberal view in open source, more practical and predicting the future of a new IT landscape.

Moreover, while there are softwares like MySql and Sugar CRM which have taken off there are umpteen number fo products which are yet to make it to get to the mainstream commercial world, or as the author puts it yet to be monetized. The appropriation of rents from the more mainstream products has begun, however more innovative initiatives are needed to launch these thousands of other projects.

In my opinion, the open source movement is the precursor to all "open" intiatives revolutinizing media and information industries now. Youtube.com, wikipedia among other things, although nascent, point towards a world where IP is shared rather than owned.

Academia is a great example of shared IP by the community. I cannot predict how much new value will eventually be created in monetary terms, however, what I do know is that openness is here to stay. It is a fundamental property of the digital revolution and there is no looking back.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Free Energy ? .. Might be possible

If there is anything constant to our scientific understanding of the universe it is “change”. Not long ago we all believed that earth was the centre of the universe and not long we all believed that the earth was flat and that Newtonian laws held their course everywhere and that there is only one type of matter.
As science progresses and new inventions and discoveries are made, the fundamentally held beliefs of the physical world keep changing. We can only aspire to get close to the truth and can probably never ever figure out what the truth is. Scientific endeavor has to push this frontier by continuous theorizing and experimentation.

Being closed to the idea of an energy source that is so radically different to our current conceptions of energy might be valid from a everyday standpoint but not for physicists who look for this holy grail. As new types of matter are discovered and theoretical physics keeps reshaping our fundamental beliefs, there might be a day not far ahead when we might get there.

“Collapse of Chaos” by Kack Cohen is a great book. For instance, the argument that Atanu presents is close to the one which says that life is possible only with water or when carbon plays a significant role. it is true in our setting in our world which is carbon based? Some of these beliefs do not explain anaerobic bacteria which live on methane under the ocean!!

My opinion is that we have to trust the scientific enterprise at the same time keeping an open view to radical findings that might challende the dominant view.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Steven Borgatti's page

Steve Borgatti
Dr. Borgatti was instrumental in compiling the UCINET package that has become a ubiquitous tool for social network analysts. I have used it extensively for data analysis in my dissertation and some other projects that I have worked on.

A nice complmentary package for modeling network dynamics is the StocNet package.
StocNet
With the rising popularity of blogs and their possible impact on B2C as well as B2B markets, social network analysis can play an important role in understanding the dynamics of these online communities. The structural view of networks provides valuable insights into the social dynamics of these communities. I have used the social networks approach to understand the collaborative open source community model through my work with my advisors and my dissertation.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Battling the flab | Economist.com

Battling the flab | Economist.com

It is an interesting notion. While the rich get fatter in rest of the world, it is mostly the poor who get fatter in the US. I don't have empirical evidence to support this, but at least based on my general observation this is true.

The healthy foods are more expensive in the US, while the junk processed food is cheaper forcing the underpriviledge low-income families in the US to eat unhealthy stuff.

And everone just blames carbs, or fat just single food components as the culprits for obesity. I read somewhere that Indians have one of the most fascinating dietary habist in the world. It is surprising to see that with a high carb oriented meal plan we still get out not being obese. However, other evils such as diabetes pains us.

I have begun watching my diet more once my LDL levels went up. However, I was able to bring them down by cutting down on meat and eggs. Some medication from Himalaya Drugs helped too. I guess we all have to figure out a moderate diet with sufficient exercise.

Water, water everywhere? | Economist.com

Water, water everywhere? | Economist.com

There are huge parts of India where water is very scarce. Moreover, cities like Chennai and Hyderabad suffer from water shortages time-to-time. The shortage of water i guess follows Amartya Sen's welfare economics argument that famines are not just caused by natural causes but because of mismanagement. Droughts are the same too. Harnessing flowing rivers for water reservoirs is seen as a bad thing in rightist way of India. How about making drinking water available to the poor? Can political viewpoints determine the quenching of thirst of millions of poor? My questions are mostly rhetoric, with few answers from my side. Honestly, I don't think I am wise or enlightened enough to suggest answers for complex issues faced by a socialistic democracy like India. However, I do believe that me and everyone else shoudl at least raise the right questions.

Department of Defense study urges open source adoption

Department of Defense study urges open source adoption

Often, technologies get legitimacy as a result of an influential customer's decision to adopt. DoD's relentless push for open source, not because it is cheaper, but because it is a solid technological alternative free from lock-ins is good publicity for the open source world.

Much of the questions that I faced during my job interviews at AMA in Chicago dealt with the viability of open source as an alternative. I insisted that open source does not mean free software, it means the freedom to software, or in other words to quote Stallman, "Free as in Free Speech not Free Beer".

Open Source provides customers control over their investment, even if it is just as expensive as proprietary technologies are, in and itself that is a great reason to go the open source way.

To me an ardent fan of the open source world, Gates stepping down is a welcome, it is one among many things that will affect the fall of Microsoft from its current pedestal. Others, the rise of Google, developing economies looking forward for alternatives very expensive IT infrastructure among other things.

Till then, it is not a completely open world.

Ganesha drinking milk again- The Times of India

Ganesha drinking milk again- The Times of India

While hundreds languish in hunger on the street, milk is offered to stone idols!!! Cannot believe that people not only have apathy but are also galactically stupid. Religion that is supposed to provide the moral fabric for the masses causes the very ills we see in everyday lives !!!

I guess things like these make one question one's own beliefs. I might not be rebellious enough to question existence of God, but it does make me question the illusory framework into which we, Indians, have incorported God.

I can only wish for better times.