Negative Energy

I have been meaning to post on current affairs for some time now. Whenever I try to pen my thoughts, I feel more and more despondent eventually abandoning all attempts at coherent articulation. I have tried my best to present a rational argument here and not a cri de coeur.

Every morning we are assaulted by violence on the front pages, be it the “global war on terror” or the rise of “islamic fascism”. I do not intend to discuss the existence or origin of these phrases. What bothers me is the violence. Either the media (yes, blame the media!) selectively feeds such negative energy, or the negative energy is actually on the rise. It is becoming increasingly difficult to know for certain what is going on. Objectivity is long forgotten in this plethora of junk reporting leaving one clamber for sanity in comic strips, well before the controversy.

Human race is resilient, history tells us about wars fought over greed. If we really look back at the number of human casualities during the colonisation era alone, it dawns on us, we have progressed after all! However, should we feel complacent from such retrospection? I think not. I have always wondered what is our responsibility as “world citizens” under the present circumstances? I have no doubt that we do bear responsibility, but does it end at paying taxes and electing representatives?

Having brought up in India, the ideas of “true reality” being independent of time, space and causation are not new to me. I don’t claim even an iota of comprehension of the profundity of such a statement. Nevertheless, looking at current affairs from the perspective of such a “theoretical true reality” brings to light (theoretically of course) the futility of such endeavors as “doing something” about the world we inhabit. But then again, since I lack the understanding, I cannot extend the “true reality” concept as I please now can I ?! 🙂

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Half-space Contact Problem

I recently found an old paper (1953) by C.K. Liu “Stresses due to tangential and normal loads on an elastic solid with application to some contact stress problems” in the Journal of Applied Mechanics. Extension of this solution to Anisotropic bodies are currently available (See C. Hwu’s papers for transveresly isortropic bodies) mostly using Stroh Formalism with integral transform techniques. However, I have not been successful in finding a paper solving a similar contact problem using Lekhnitskii’s approach! well, I will keep looking. 🙂

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Snakes on a plane…

Discussed on and on ad infinitum, SoaP is finally here! An explosive cast of variety snakes on a plane with plenty of bad guys aboard and of course, Sam Jackson, cant get better than that! 🙂 


To quote Josh Friedman, heres the SoaP philosophy

Somewhere in between “Cest la vie”, “Whattya gonna do?” and “Shit happens” falls my new zen koan “Snakes on a Plane”.

WIFE: “Honey you stepped in dog poop again. ”
ME: “Snakes on a Plane…”
DOCTOR: “Your cholesterol is 290. Perhaps you want to mix in a walk once in a while.”
ME: “Snakes on a Plane…”
WIFE: “Honey while you were on your cholesterol walk you stepped in dog poop again.”

You get the picture.

I wonder how long it would be before it attains “Shit happens” fame. 🙂 

Also check out the *really silly* Steaks on a Train ! 🙂 And the Top 10 Snake Movies!

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Talks cont’d. : Makyoh Images

Makyoh (Japanese for “Magic Mirror”) are made of highly mirror-polished metal (usually brass) on the front face and engraved on the back face. From what I understand, it is currently commercially available as toys! Also, check out Makyoh in Action. Making these “Magic mirrors” often involved much intuition and skill in the past.

Now the basic idea behind the working of Makyoh is as follows: –


The front mirror side is illuminated by a parallel light beam, and the reflected beam is intersected by a screen. If the surface possesses “irregularities”, the homogeneity of the reflected beam is perturbed and an image that can be related the surface morphology (I would assume some mapping function of sorts) appears on the screen. This “mapped” function is then called magical! In principle, there should be some sensitivity bound for the the roughness of the mirror-side.

The talk focused on attempting to digitize the craftsmanship of the early Makyoh workers using NC machining. All the steps involved in making Makyoh namely forming, casting, taking the pattern away and polishing were performed. Optimal machining conditions were identified first using a single drill hole and later on, using a series of drilled holes.

The reason why I find this interesting is that this problem in a way represented the reverse problem of Makyoh topography which has been used to characterize the flatness of semiconductor wafers for some years now. A scientific work undertaken solely for the purpose of restoring temple architecture seems quite extraordinary.

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Vegas Part 3: The talks

I.S. Jawahir’s talk:
The talk presented a synthesis of the existing slip-line models in metal cutting theory with emphasis on the work done by their group based on the universal slip-line model. Though most of these metal-cutting models cannot be extended to composite machining due to the inherent differences between metals and composites, it was interesting to see their approach. The most surprising part was the definition of friction coefficient on the tool-chip interface. Instead of the friction coefficient, they have defined a tau/k equivalent term. Due to the excessive temperatures at this interface, this quantity is estimated using regression analysis. This difficulty in establishing a valid friction coefficient is hightened due to the inability to correctly evaluate the temperatures at this interface. Dr. Fang, a previous student of Dr. Jawahir elaborated on this in a subsequent session. He suggested taking the “optimal” coefficient that would yield the best solutions which surely doesnt seem accurate to say the least! Consequently, further research in this field was conferred quintessential. 🙂

Dr. Jawahir’s talk reminded me in many ways of Dr. Ramulu’s lecture, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, even the jokes! 🙂 For once I was grateful for the absent speakers, he spoke for a good 40 minutes.

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Vegas Part 2: The conference

As the Chair Dr. Jay Gunasekera mentioned at the onset, it was a truly international conference. There were researchers from over 40 countries in the fields of Materials Processing and Technology. Though I did not actually meet the authors of the papers that I had “dissected”, it was quite an impressive crowd. Most of them were from academia though the Plenary talks were given by Mr. Robert Noel and Mr. George Mochnal. There were quite a few people missing which led to greater time slots for each speaker. I guess the main reason was difficulty in getting visas etc.

I did spend some time during each talk trying to place their accents. It was quite remarkable, for example, I found out that the Polish usually speak English by writing it down on a piece of paper and then reading that aloud! 🙂 Most Europeans are so expressive, hand gestures, eyebrows flying about; it was comic at times. My brethren Asians were as always, overly apologetic for taking up breathing space so to speak. Non-Indian Asians have such great dressing sense, and what amazing hairdos! I dont know about being the frontiers of technology (they did have the best laser pointers!) but they have undoubtedly surpassed the rest of the world in fashion. I mean if these countries produce graduate students with such good taste what about the rest of the demographic! 🙂 I am exaggerating of course, but there is some grain of truth in all this.