Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home, a must watch

Have you ever wondered why Jake Sullivan in Avatar film fell in love with the planet Pandora? Isn't the answer beauty of the nature in Pandora? Now watch this story to learn more about what we are doing to our own home, our planet Earth.

"Life, a miracle in the universe appeared around 4 billion years ago, and we humans only 200,000 years ago. Yet we have succeeded in disrupting the balance that is so essential to life." These are the words to which this documentary introduces us to our home, the Earth. Ever since I watched this, I could not stop thinking about it. Highlights are visually stunning aerial shots of most amazing places on Earth, the background music and above all the story it tells. And their message stands out, the message about what the wise humans have done to our home the Earth, and what we would lose if we don't act in a timely manner.

The film was shot by Yann-Arthus Bertrand, a famous French photographer from a helicopter using a HD camera, and it took them 217 days to shoot 488 hours of footage from 54 different countries. And the facts they share through this movie are really shocking. Yet in the end of the film, they infuse hope within us telling us about the measures currently being taken across the world in making up for the damage we have done. Here are some of those facts in the filmmaker's words and some screenshots from the film to motivate you to watch it.

Faster and faster. In the last 60 years, the Earth’s population has almost tripled. And over 2 billion people have moved to the cities.

Faster and faster. Shenzhen, in China, with hundreds of skyscrapers and millions of inhabitants, was just a small fishing village barely 40 years ago. In Shanghai, 3000 towers and skyscrapers have been built in 20 years. Hundreds more are under construction. Today, over half of the world’s 7 billion inhabitants live in cities.

Faster and faster. Like the life cycle of livestock, which may never see a meadow. Manufacturing meat faster than the animal has become a daily routine. In these vast foodlots, trampled by millions of cattle, not a blade of grass grows. A fleet of trucks from every corner of the country brings tons of grain, soy meal and protein-rich granules that will become tons of meat. The result is that it takes 100 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of potatoes, 4000 liters for 1 kilo of rice and 13,000 liters for 1 kilo of beef. Not to mention the oil guzzled in the production process and transport.

Faster and faster. The more the world develops, the greater its thirst for energy. Everywhere, machines dig, bore and rip from the Earth the pieces of stars buried in its depths since its creation… Minerals. As a privilege of power, 80% of this mineral wealth is consumed by 20% of the world’s population. Before the end of this century, excessive mining will have exhausted nearly all the planet’s reserves.

Is excessive exploitation of resources threatening the lives of every species?
By 2050, a quarter of the Earth’s species could be threatened with extinction. Our ecosystem doesn’t have borders. Wherever we are, our actions have repercussions on the whole Earth. Our planet’s atmosphere is an indivisible whole. It is an asset we share. How can this century carry the burden of 9 billion human beings, if we refuse to be called to account for everything we alone have done? 20% of the world’s population consumes 80% of its resources.The world spends 12 times more on military expenditures than on aid to developing countries. 5,000 people a day die because of dirty drinking water. 1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water. Nearly 1 billion people are going hungry. Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels. 40% of arable land has suffered long-term damage. Every year, 13 million hectares of forest disappear. 1 mammal in 4, 1 bird in 8, 1 amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction. Species are dying out at a rhythm 1,000 times faster than the natural rate. Three quarters of fishing grounds are exhausted, depleted or in dangerous decline. The average temperature of the last 15 years has been the highest ever recorded. The ice cap is 40% thinner than 40 years ago

It's too late to be a pessimist. It's time to come together for what remains. We all have the power to change.

Do watch it on Youtube for free, and help spreading the message by sharing it with as many as you can:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To Follow Or Not To Follow Your Heart

We always refer to "heart" when we make our decisions emotionally and "brain" when we follow some instructions mechanically. It is quite obvious from the saying, "Follow your heart, not brain" which tells us to make our decisions emotionally based on our liking rather than following the herd.

Throughout the history and in various ancient cultures, heart is treated as the intelligent force behind all our thoughts and feelings we experience intuitively. In one of the oldest books of Egypt on wisdom "Ptah-Hotep" ('The God Ptah is satisfied'), it is said "Follow your heart during your lifetime; do not do more than what is commanded you." Old Testament of Bible says "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he". "Let your heart guide your head in evil matters" is a very old and famous Spanish saying. The New Testament of the Bible has a reference to a reasoning heart, "What reason ye in your hearts". Bhagavad Gita talks about the intelligent/ignorant heart, "Sever the ignorant doubt in your heart with the sword of self-knowledge." The Chinese, Hebrew and the followers of Islam also have their interpretations of thinking heart.
Brain vs. Heart (Source: Tumblr)

But, did you ever try to logically think if these statements and interpretations make sense scientifically? Rather medically? I've not and now that I'm thinking in this direction my mind raises this question. Didn't our high-school science teacher tell us that heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood and maintains circulation to all parts of the body until we breathe for the last time, and it's the brain which has the ability to think and make decisions? And, it is quite possible that throughout this history, this attributed thinking ability of heart is a result of lack of understanding of our body's functionality or incorrect translations/interpretations of actual manuscripts written in various languages.

But, looks like I shouldn't have doubted the thinkers of the past and my high school teacher is not all that correct. Documented by scientific evidence, the heart communicates with the entire body neurologically, biochemically and bio-physically. Neurological communication happens through the impulses of nerve cells. Biochemical control comes through hormones and neurotransmitters. Bio-physically the heart can also send out pressure waves when it pumps the blood. Recent studies show that heart's innate capability to control the brain comes from electromagnetic interactions between them too. The heart generates body's strongest electromagnetic field which is 60 times stronger than what brain could produce. The rhythmic patterns of our beating heart changes with various emotions we go through. The experimental data also backs up the fact that positive emotions give out distinct mode of psycho-physiological coherence which leads to increased efficiency and harmony in the interactions of our entire body. Maintaining this harmony inside our body is important for being healthy, and this is why it's important to follow our heart.
Source: Link

Often, due to the challenges the society we live in poses, our decisions are not based on what our heart says. This leads to dilemma when our heart opposes the mind not only in the life changing career decisions but also in the simplest of the cases when we want to decide what to eat. Listening to heart might give satisfaction, but following the mind might lead to results and success. When I talk about results in this modern time, it is money. Because, mostly the measurement of success is in terms of the money we earn, the house we live and the cars we drive. And if you are a person of heart, I know it hurts. But, here is why you should follow your heart.

Do you know why most scientists lock themselves in labs and invent things they do? They work for their passion, they follow their heart. What would happen to all the innovation if those passionate entrepreneurs don't push the boundaries risking their careers? Bhagat Singh would have never started a revolution had he done what his brain said. Gandhi would have never cared for our freedom had he not followed his heart. Martin Luther King need not take that bullet had he not followed his heart. But, things would have been different had these great people followed their minds.

Remember how many lives changed when only a handful of people fought for what they believed and risked their lives despite knowing about the imminent hardships. What happens to this world if everyone follows their hearts and works for their passion? Why don't we do that?

Tyler Durden (Source: Toonz)
Because, it's not simple! It requires us to move out of your comfort zones. How many of us can stop caring what other people would say for some action we do? We live in a hypocritical society and in constant fear. And because of this fear, we are not what we want to be. We live under a facade, an attractive one for the sake of the society. We are worried about following our heart. May be this is the reason why I adore Tyler Durden. Tyler believes in being content at what we do. He believes in being true to self. "Sticking feathers up your butt doesn't make you a chicken". We are not the job we do, not the money we have, not the car we drive, not the assets we own and not the contents of our wallet. The stuff we own doesn't define us, it's what we accomplish. I'm not saying to risk your family and everything. Follow your heart; but don't lose your shirt.

If you don't know the Tyler Durden I'm talking about, he's the character of the movie Fight Club which was made after the novel by the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk. When people ask me why I like the movie so much, I tell them only about the rush the movie gives. But, there is more than the adrenaline rush to it. It's not about just fighting or creating chaos. To me the movie is more of a preaching throwing some light on the way we live now. People do it every day, they talk to themselves… they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage to just run with it. Tyler, in the movie, helps the protagonist by taking him down the path of enlightenment. For those of you who have seen the movie, do you remember the scene in which the penguin echoes "Slide" when the hero enters his secret cave in his mind? The power animal in that scene asks the hero to slide all those things that truly doesn't matter. To let go all the fear and distractions from being what you truly want to be. But, it was not easy for our protagonist to let go, and this is where Tyler helps him.

As Tyler said, "This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time." If only we have our own manifestations of Tyler Durdens in our life too, for those of us who want to follow our hearts but cannot.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Google Instant Bollywood

Have you ever tried to kill time by looking for random stuff on Google? I do it all the time, and the whole experience was completely enhanced after Google Instant was released. Here is how I burned an evening looking for Bollywood on Google.

And here is how you can get an idea on the mentality of people in general. The kind of terms they attribute to Bollywood and its stars are quite obvious from the search terms used.

Now, this is kind of the impression I've on Aishwarya Rai. And Google Instant summarized it for me appropriately. 
This left me wondering why so many people are concerned about Kajol expecting a baby or getting pregnant again and again.

I was hoping to see something on how Kareena sucks at acting or on her size zero. But apparently people are lot more concerned and confused about her virginity.

Now, it's the complexion of Deepika Padukone that they are confused about.

And Priyanka Chopra's as well, but looks like people are always concerned about the virginity of Bollywood female stars.

I'm sorry Preity. :P

This is exactly the same question most of us must be having, about the sexuality of Rakhi Sawanth. I don't differ either.

LMAO! I couldn't stop laughing when I came across this. How on earth can people even come up with this Search Query? This made my day!  

I hope you will also waste some of your time looking for your favorite personalities after going through this post.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


A new beginning
Echoes with the leafless trees
Clad in silky snow

Snow started all of a sudden this year. What was a pleasant sunny city until yesterday morphed into white color completely after the sudden 6-inch thick snow fall today. Here is another photo of this place early this morning and the snow-lady we built for the record. :D 

Posted for

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Instant Search Previews

Recently in their blog, Google mentioned how their instant previews feature, which will soon be released officially, will improve users satisfaction. But, isn't this idea already implemented by Microsoft in their search engine Bing. The only difference will be, Bing shows only textual content in their preview with information like contacts or other relevant text/links from the web page.  Where as, Google plans on rolling out previews with graphical content (images) as well. I wonder why Microsoft didn't try this out in their Bing. One reason that comes to my mind is the goals they've set. Bing, which is good at answering users' questions, tries to give out relevant content in the preview itself. On the other hand, Google is good at directing you to right web pages. By showing graphical content in the preview for search terms, the users can identify quickly if they already know the page or the icon that shows up and reach their page of interest. Although I'm not sure if their goals will play a big role in deciding the features of their products in this competitive tech business which requires to attract as many users as possible.
Google Preview Feature
Bing Preview Feature

This thing interested me since I was also doing some work on incorporating previews while interacting with 3D  data in virtual reality environments. You may try the real thing here until Google releases this feature in their search page officially. And, for someone like me who tries to get maximum amount of work done with minimum use of mouse, their keyboard controls come handy too. I wonder how many iterations of design Google came up with to identify and understand what makes a good preview. 

Speaking of design, I'm tempted to talk about Windows 7 phone. If you own one which is an event of very little probability given that it was released only 2 days ago or if you have seen one of those demo videos, it clearly indicates the care and effort that went into its design. I heard from a senior employee at Microsoft about how designers of Nike shoes were roped into this project. Thinking out of the box really works!

P.S. Re-edited on 11/11/2010 since the pictures I uploaded earlier got deleted automatically.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 16; the sixteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
It definitely is a week of celebration so far. Celebrated Halloweens with friends for the first time. I was the Crazy Joker with a bloody butcher knife. And to accompany me, some of my friends also masked up in scary avatars. The Zakusi guard, the Zombie with braided hair, the monster who never smiles, the nameless warrior, the headless phantom and the scream guy. Super fun it was!!!

And the big thing to celebrate was I graduated with a degree in MS from Univ of Minnesota after putting in lots of effort. The sweat, the energy and the soul I put in it reaped the fruits.:P This leaves me with the big question, what next? But who cares now? At least for a little while let me enjoy the happiness. I definitely am happy now that I'm done and it should be obvious from my words. Also, bought myself a brand new iPhone4 as a graduation gift. Here is a screen capture from my MS project, and it's a rendering of simulated blood flow through aorta of heart with a mechanical heart valve and the path some of the blood particles take throughout the course represented as lines.

And although we didn't celebrate Diwali the way we would in India, it was a non-stop food celebration. Made vadas for the first time after hours of effort, and here you see our yummy vadas with finely grated onions, chillies and ginger added in style.

But none of these can ever match up with the way we celebrate Diwali in India with family and friends. I hope everyone had a wonderful Diwali!
The fellow Blog-a-Tonics who took part in this Blog-a-Ton and links to their respective posts can be checked here. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Crazy Horse

The mountain carving on the background of the picture is supposed to assume the shape of the miniature version with a warrior on a horse in the foreground after completion. Crazy Horse is the name of the warrior in this carving, a Native American who fought and died for the freedom of Native Americans in the history of USA. When completed, this mountain sculpture will be 641 ft wide and 563 ft high (source: wiki). Due to funding constraints and lack of proper support, the construction of the memorial which was started in 1960s is going on at snail pace and now looks what it is in the picture.

After being defeated in war the Native Americans waged against the encroachment of US government into their territories and their living, when a white man asked him "Where are your lands now?". To that Crazy Horse responded "My lands are where my dead lie buried". Crazy Horse Memorial with this warrior pointing at their lands was started to honor his quote and to make history remember the truth untold. The truth about their glorious past and their unfulfilled future.

Knowing about what they went through is definitely one of best experience that happened to me when I went on a trip to South Dakota.