Saturday, May 23, 2009

Following STS-125 (Hubble servicing mission 4)

I have been interested in astronomy since last 4-5 years but never followed it astutely.
My interest more so was in Cosmology rather than direct astronomy.
This interest resurfaced with zeal and vigour as I was disturbed that I did not have any other activity, be it art, sport,music etc, to indulge in outside of my work domain.

This culminated in me attending astronomy public outreach programs conducted by Khagol Mandal ,Mumbai . It was a great experience to pinpoint the constellations and stars.

I had earlier seen the images from Hubble Telescope. This time with more interest I was in awe after I read up on Hubble. To match this the servicing mission 4 for the Hubble, STS-125 wstarted in May 09. The servicing mission proposed to replace the aging instruments on Hubble with newer advanced instruments.
This would enhance the longevity of the Hubble Space Telescope and it would run for another 5- years. The mission is numbered as STS-125.
It has been exciting to follow the mission status with the progress of the servicing and the spacewalks. As of this writing the repair mission has been completed successfully and the shuttle Atlantis with the 7 member crew is preparing to land at Kennedy Space Centre.
The status can be followed on the various links below

Also there is great coverage of STS-125 on CBS news

Friday, January 23, 2009

The day I travelled to Airavali

It was by chance that I noticed the destination on my train ticket. I was travelling to Airavali my workplace. Never thought Airoli ( a suburb of Navi Mumbai) was known by this name.
The Indian Railways site for Season ticket booking also lists Airoli as Airavali.

Wish it was some mythological destination rather than the dusty, concrete jungle that it is

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Whew!!!! No end of the world (LHC experiment)-1

I am referring to the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) experiment which started on September 10 2008. This experiment is being conducted by CERN the place where the WWW (World Wide Web) was invented by Tim Berners-Lee.
The LHC is a particle accelerator which means it smashes particles into each other at very high speeds. This experiment also known as the Big Bang project aims to re-create the conditions just after the Big Bang in an attempt to answer fundamental questions of science and the universe itself.
It will answer the following questions
What is the origin of mass?
Why do tiny particles weigh the amount they do?
It will also confirm the existence of Higgs Boson.

The experiments of LHC had sparked fears among the public that it would created microscopic black holes which would then gobble up everything and this would be the end of the world.
The scientists at CERN have run the experiments successfully and proven the fear of doomsday to be just a rumour.
These theories are really and warrants another post in detail later.

As for now no blackholes or strangelets so no end of the world

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Down memory lane

This Saturday I had the chance of visiting Fort after many months.
I had to visit the main Branch of HDFC to subscribe for the Tata Steel rights issue. It was Saturday so the usual office crowd was missing.
I reached very early and had to stand in the queue for about 10 minutes. Once the bank counters opened it was really a breeze. Kudos to HDFC bank for managing all this very well.
Now work done I had some time in my hand to roam.
Fort area in Mumbai is the downtown(in US speak) where all major corporate offices exist or use to exist. With the advent of the BPO and IT industry much of the action has shifted to suburbs. But due to the stock market in this area major banks and other old corporates like Tata's still have there corporate HQ's in Fort.
I started roaming the once familiar streets where my dad or my grand dad had worked.
These streets were familiar with old stucco buildings which had never changed since the last 50 years. I had worked here during my articled clerk days eating at the roadside stalls and sometimes in hotels.
Roaming those familiar streets I was struck with awe that little had really changed.
Some of the shops had vanished and these spaces were occupied by plush Tata Indicom and Reliance outlets. The stock exchange has been converted in to a Asian NASDAQ with a giant screen and a stock ticker.
I began searching for the usual eateries which me and my friends frequented.
Military Cafe(for Kheema pav and Beer)--I was a teetotaler and a veggie then
Dwarka (for usual lunch)
Coffee House(for its bitter coffee- which I did not like much back then and i use to ask for the sweetened one),Coffee house still exists as is (I use to work here in 1993-1996).It was a rule during the article ship days to take turns to foot the bill for everyone in office(normally not more than 10)after lunch for a simple coffee.
It was like i had fallen in a whirlpool of memories.
The book seller at the Fountain bus stop still lives with his ever burgeoning business.
This is where I had discovered books from Human Anatomy to Swahili Grammar.
Where else could you find a book on Swahili at dirt cheap prices.
I wound my way back from the narrow gullies passing by Pancham Puriwalla.
I had to get back home and attend to household chores and I returned happy yet vowing to spend at least half day to loiter on these streets like a vagabond again some day.

Where do you want to get to?

Precisely the situation I faced for the past 1.5 months.
One fine hot and humid day I got frustrated and started to think about my future and the purpose behind shifting into a IT career. And I thought hard and started to look out for a change of job. Although I am in a win-win situation in the present job with respect to location, timings,salary(decent), I am not getting the so called required exposure and so a change was due. It is really difficult to get out of this comfort(lazy) zone.

Amidst a big renovation taking place in the house, I made a successful yet thwarted attempt to change job. And finally I am back to square one. I say thwarted because I consulted too many people on the options available and got confused and each opportunity was turned down.
Too many faces too many opinions.
Finally I have decided to follow my heart rather than my mind.
I aptly remembered this passage from Alice in Wonderland and hence the title

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
`I don't much care where--' said Alice.
`Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
- Lewis Carroll in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Time flies.......

Well, literally. It is unimaginable how fast the year has passed by and we are in the last quarter of 2007 and as I write this already 2 days of that quarter have passed.
It is the way we look at it. It is a year exactly when I made my first trip abroad to the USA.
But again when I look back to my 2nd trip to the USA and our office picnic to Panchgani it appears that it was just a few months back.

Perspective matters

Announcements page requested

Every morning when the newspaper comes in particularly Times of India, the first news to hit my sleepy eyes is about some infrastructure development plan or Mumbai along with other news.
I am fed up with these developmental announcements and would like to make a humble request to all newspapers to publish a seperate page named "Announcements" or "Political Announcements".
Atleast this may give some extra paper to print some relevant news or more room for the letters from readers.
Just have a taste of some of the recent news/announcements or whatever you call.
Metro project to be completed by 2011
Mumbai to have monorail, lightrail and Maglev(great imagination)
Skywalks to be built around stations

I am confused, will it lead to a jam of rail bridges for different transport mediums.

Most of these projects are still on paper and those which have seen the light of the day have been delayed way past there initial deadline and has incurred serious cost overruns.
The Bandra-Worli sealink project has been going on for the past 8 years and still is incomplete with the completion date now in Dec 2008(hopefully).

At least the newspapers can ignore printing this announcements as news on front pages, as our politicians will not stop giving fake promises

Thursday, September 27, 2007

T20 world champs

Can you define the phrase "electrifying atmosphere". A mere definition in words will not suffice you have to be there to experience it. Well I am referring to the India vs Pakistan final in the first ever T20 cricket world cup. It all started at 5.30pm IST (actually even before that) on Monday 24th September. The office had become an abandoned place and lest for 5-10 poor souls engrossed in work all the others were in the canteen in front of the big projector screen. It was mass hysteria to describe the least. Everyone was cheering for even the single run and there were blood curdling cries really sounding like someone had been murdered , for a 6 or a wicket.
It went down to the wire with Pakistan letting it go from its hands and then suddenly jumping back into the game leaving us almost having strokes. Finally India won it.
When our men in blue where on a high with MSD(Dhoni) the Sensex was making new highs every single day. The sensex just crossed 17k and this 1000 points were surpassed in just 6 days.
Surely India is on a roll ..............................

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Apple trip

Actually this post should have been made earlier, but for my laziness and the so called urge required to blog which seldom arises. Better late than never.
In my 2nd trip to the USA I finally visited NY after almost considering all other major cities in the mid west, south and east--Miami,Las Vegas, Atlantic City,Orlando, NY and DC. Many were of the view that since I had been to Chicago, NY would be just another city. Paying no heed to anyone I decided to make the trip to the big apple. The weather had been very harsh the earlier weekend with temperatures going below zero and I had to spend the weekend cocooned in my hotel room. Luckily enough on the day I left for NY from Dayton the weather was superb (20-22 deg Cel). The Weather channel reported a very much normal day ahead and storms on Sunday. So I had 1 full day to roam NY and prove that NY was not just another city similar to Chicago.
I left Dayton on Friday 13th April via a short halt at Cincinnati to NY. I had already spoken to a college friend who resides in New Jersey and who eagerly invited me to stay over for the 2 days in his house. Intricate instructions were given by him to help me reach his place(Metro Park).
A week prior to my trip I was prancing on the net to find all the available info on NY, places of interest, modes of transportation and cost and also if possible visiting Washington.
To my surprise every place of interest, mode of transport or anything else had a web site with information to the minutest detail helping me plan my trip but also confusing me to no end.
The best guide is from NYtimes itself titled 36 hours in NY and barring the eating and drinking joints it gives a short summary of the places of interest and the commuting routes. Although the title says 36 hours it is divided into 3 days suiting all and sundry.
I could get only 1 day to roam around NY and I saw the major attractions,
A cruise on the harbour passing by the Statue of Liberty, Wall street ,walking through downtown, Ground Zero (was a waste) and Times Square (the best).
I thought I spent way too much time walking the streets in downtown(which was empty as it was a Saturday) and this time could have been effectively used in visiting one more place, Grand Central station.
To conclude NY resembled Mumbai in many aspects, the crowd, the hustle bustle, the water logging during the rains etc albeit you cannot ignore the cleanliness and infrastructure of the city.
Chicago was very much different proving many of my friends wrong. Chicago has a slight laid back attitude and yes the infrastructure and other amenities are more modern and better equipped than NY.

India @ 60

India @ 60 is it old or raring to go after 60years? Frankly I am not 60 and so cannot comment the past years. Surely but slowly India has changed over the last 10 years. There has been a communications revolution and a computer revolution which has really brought India into the global limelight. India is improving day after day but the difference is never felt as the improvement is at a snails place.
We talk of cities (especially Mumbai-the financial capital) bursting at its seems and becoming unmanageable but the real India lies in the rural hinterland where development is a fading dot.
The economy is booming and we have a robust financial market but we lack the basic necessities
like infrastructure, education, and cleanliness. Corruption is still rampant with no implementation of policies. This needs to be cleaned up at lightning speed so as to make a mark in the global scenario, else India with a teeming young population will fritter away its core strengths.

Happy Birthday India