Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Whither Are The Zeros Of Zeta Of S?

First, the following needs to be got off one's chest.

Two hydrogen atoms meet in a bar. "I think I lost my electron." "Are you sure?" "Yes, I'm positive." Whew...

Desultory flipping through of Karl Sabbagh's book, The Riemann Hypothesis - The Greatest Unsolved Problem In Mathematics. Like other mathematics books for laypeople (such as Zero - The Biography Of A Dangerous Idea and Fermat's Last Enigma), this one is a judicious mix of history, anecdotes and some relatively accesible mathematics.

The Riemann Hypothesis states (more or less) that
that the nontrivial Riemann zeta function zeros, i.e., the values of s other than -2, -4, -6, ... such that ζ(s)=0 (where ζ is the Riemann zeta function) all lie on the "critical line" σ=R[s]=½ (where R denotes the real part of s).
Yes, its really that simple. A child could tackle this.

Why is this important, you ask? Maybe you don't ask. But I tell. In the words of Sabbagh
The Riemann Hypothesis matters because, if it is true, it proves that there is a rule for generating the prime numbers...
If Tom, Li Mu Bai, and Thirunavukkarasu start generating prime numbers, one will have to wonder what the implications for cryptography are. This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are other obscure mathematical reasons (which I fully comprehend, mind you, but which will be so much Greek to you folks) why this is such an important result.

Many great mathematicians have been trying to prove or disprove the Riemann Hypothesis. It features as one of the 23 unsolved (at the time) problems of David Hilbert. Hardy and Ramanujan tried it and couldn't. Hardy was quite a character, but this post is too long already.

Interesting mathematics websites include the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive. Wolfram Research's Mathworld is a positive treasure, they also have similar sections on physics, chemistry and other sciences. If you fancy yourself as a mathematician, you might want to check out IBM Research's Ponder This problem of the month.

Grafitti on New York City subway wall:

xn + yn = zn

There is no value of n>2 for which the above is true. I have found a truly remarkable proof of this, but my train is coming and I have to go...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Zorba, The Indian?

Long time no post. Actually - long to post, no time. Ha ha.

Read this article on the Indian influence on Greek cinema many moons back, and then lost track of it. It is back online now, with audio clippings and such. A bit long-ish, but most definitely interesting, if you're at all interested in Indian cinema. Or Greece. Or both. Other interesting Indian cinema websites include Upperstall, philip's fil-ums I've said before has some of the best movie reviews of masala and not-so-masala Indian movies, Sarai has some unusual and hard-to-find material including a section called FilmCity, a gargantuan section on Indian cinematography, including an absolutely unputdownable interview with Guru Dutt's cinematographer V.K.Murthy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Of Many Things English

Dictionary.com provides the following, as one of the meanings of the word sandbagging:
To downplay or misrepresent one's ability in a game or activity in order to deceive (someone), especially in gambling: sandbagged the pool player by playing poorly in the first game when stakes were low.

First came across this at a team race, where some accused others of sandbagging and fooling everyone by running a lot faster than they said in their initial estimates.
The Bangalore marathon was fun, in spite of the fact that it started at a hottish 9:30 a.m., and the unbelievable crowd of banner holding, slogan chanting, corporate runners rooting for their own companies. Finished a lot faster (41 min. for 7 k.m.) than expected, thanks to Flo "Sandbagger" Jo [now the connections emerge] who was in a tearing hurry to reach someplace just around the next corner. "Knackered" at the end, but that made the steak at "The Only Place" (Museum Road, Bangalore) that much more sllurrp.
While on the general topic of English usages, and since we're into putative lists nowadays, here is the list of top 5 annoying English bloopers (IMO) that have insidiously crept their way into common use:
  • momentarily: Some centuries ago, "momentarily" used to mean, "for a moment". Then the United States came into existence. Fast forward to the 1990s/2000s and now the darn word means, "in a moment" to most people. We will pause momentarily to reflect on what this means. . . . . .Having reflected, we move on. The disease seems to have crossed the Atlantic. One distinctly remembers hearing a, "Wait here children, Professor Dumbledore will be with you momentarily." in a motion picture. Or is this just Hollywood scriptwriters putting words in mouths of the doyens of British cinema?
  • presently: Mostly Indian. "Presently I am doing my MBA in Neo-Fascism from IIM-X." And presently, I am going to going to bonk you on the head with a tomato (large, putrid). Whatever happened to "currently"?
  • disinterested/uninterested: The distinctions have blurred. The centre cannot hold. The falcon spirals. A great beast slouches through the dunes towards Bethlehem. [disinterested = impartial, uninterested = not interested]
  • TBD UPDATE: You're all set. You are therefore a pudding. One pays heed to cannibals.
  • TBD UPDATE: According to me. You might suffer from a serious case of split personality, but you can't accord to yourself, IMO. Which brings us [rather cleverly, smirk, smirk] to what the correct phrase would be: "In my opinion..." Stop according to yourselves peoples!
  • UPDATE:This door is alarmed. Oh really? How do you know? Did it scream in a high pitched voice? Or do you communicate with it via ESP? By way of the friendly neighbourhood [someone came with an eraser and scrub-a-dub-ed this bit] cannibal.

Age doth wither and custom doth stale the memory, the list will have to be completed anon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Obligatory Weekend Roundup

How can I blow money over a weekend? Let me count the ways...
  1. Hang out in a Barista with the excuse of trying to find out if the wireless card on the laptop works.
  2. Go with buddy to Taj Residency, drink Glenfiddich, eat kababs, ice cream, and solve the outstanding problems with the world.
  3. Buy some more DVDs from Music World.
  4. Buy another book. But this one is really good. The author is a co-alumnus who dared to be different.
  5. Play snooker in a Gillian's like Hyderabadi adda.

That apart... Watched "Saath Saath", and A Bridge Too Far. Another fantastic WW2 movie, a keeper. This one is about Monty's ill conceived plan, code-named Operation Market Garden to drop 3 airborne divisions behind German lines in the Netherlands, and cut off German supply lines to the Western Front, with the aim of shortening the war. A star cast, and very nice camera work. Annoyingly, there were no subtitles for the German and Dutch dialogues. So everything that Rundstedt, Model, and Bittrich said went into thin air!
Gaana paattus of the weekend were a hotch potch of various things. Some more candidates for running songs
  • Tubthumpin' (Chumbawumba) - "I get knocked down, and I get up..."
  • Zombie (Cranberries) :-)
  • Another One Bites The Dust (Queen)
  • We Didn't Start The Fire (Billy Joel) - Not a particularly "rocky" song, but if you know the words you can't help but sing along, and it takes your mind off the the running for a full 5 minutes!
  • All Star (Smash Mouth) - "Hey now, you're an all star, get your game on..."
  • Moving In Stereo (The Cars) - Fairly obscure. But this is the rockin' tune that plays in that umm... immortal scene from what is regarded by many as the best teen movie ever, where Phoebe Cates emerges from a swimming pool and enters "Brad's" fantasy world.
  • There were more... I forget

And once you're a sweating wreck, you can shower, eat, and lie down and listen to Sanjeev Abhyankar do a Malkauns in vilambit ektaal. I wouldn't know a vilambit ektaal if it came and bit me on the behind, but I can recognize Malkauns once someone bonks me on the head with it, and it is quite the nice raagam. Maybe I like it so much because I like Hindolam and Saamajavaragamana. Who knows? We will leave this mystery alone.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

What Parthiv Hath Wrought

As the 7K Celeberation/Celebrity run at the Bangalore Marathon looms, it occupies many of my thoughts nowadays, including thought no. 21297.

This insane running endeavour started in March 2003, when an MIT graduate student named Parthiv Shah showed up at the weekly Asha For Education Boston chapter meeting and said he would be interested in helping us organize a marathon fundraiser.

Having always suffered from delusions of athletic grandeur, I signed up, and went on to finish the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC in 5:00:33. My only regret was not carrying an accurate stopwatch so that I could've shaved off those annoying 33 seconds and had a 4:xx:xx time.

The Asha marathon program grew last year, with AID-Boston joining in - the number of runners went up, the money raised, blisters, injuries, pain, happiness.

And it continues to grow. This year, Asha and AID have officially joined together to organize the fundraiser, and it already feels like it will be a smashing success.

And I can't help but sit here in Hyderabad with a silly grin on my face and wonder what has come to pass after those lonely, wet Sunday mornings when the few of us who could make it, slogged our way up and down the Minuteman Trail. Thanks Parthiv!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pome du jour

baaziichaa-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mere aage

Jagjit Singh sings this, rather well IMO, for Gulzar's TV serialization of Mirza Ghalib's life. Google will give you all the links you want about Jagjit Singh, Gulzar, TVs, serialization, Ghalib and life. So we will not belabour you with links. Instead

baaziichaa-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mere aage
hotaa hai shab-o-roz tamaashaa mere aage
[baaziichaa-e-atfaal = child's play]

hotaa hai nihaa.N gard me.n seharaa mere hote
ghisataa hai jabii.n Khaak pe dariyaa mere aage
[nihaa.N = hidden; gard = dust]
[seharaa = desert, jabii.n = forehead]

mat puuchh ke kyaa haal hai meraa tere piichhe
tuu dekh ke kyaa rang hai teraa mere aage

imaa.N mujhe roke hai jo khii.nche hai mujhe kufr
kaabaa mere piichhe hai kaliisaa mere aage
[kufr = impiety, kaliisaa = church/cathedral]

go haath ko jumbish nahii.n aa.Nkho.n me.n to dam hai
rahane do abhii saaGar-o-miinaa mere aage
[jumbish = movement; saaGar-o-miinaa = glass of wine]

Monday, May 02, 2005

Listing - This Way And That

There be lists 'ere. The number of things you can make lists about are countless as the grains of sand. So we will make lists. This idea is partly inspired by the blogger's complete lack of creativity, and partly by the Nick Hornby book and film, "High Fidelity" - in which the protagonist is an obsessive list-maker. This week's theme [trumpets, cymbals, kettledrums, other Ramses II type noises]

Running Songs

Songs/music that inspire running. [Note: I don't listen to music when I'm running, am afraid of getting distracted and run over. So this list is a bit of a scam.] The candidates

  1. The Chariots Of Fire theme by Vangelis. How can this not be Numero Uno? Many true runners will disagree. Too cliched, too predictable. But what the hell, it is the running song.
  2. Paradise City, by Guns N' Roses. Very odd, I know. But there is something to said for this song blaring out of a 12 seater van with your stinking sweaty teammates rooting for you, at a very groggy 6 a.m. when you're limping through your allotted 8 odd miles of Leg 27, on a cool September New Hampshire morning
  3. Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor
  4. The theme from Rocky
  5. O Fortuna from Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, from Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.
As you can see, the list is sketchy at the moment. However, if someone set this to music, it would be on my list. Gives you something nice, long and continuous to hang on to. And while we're at it, one should take a gander at this great poem about sex and running.