imagiNATION

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://pradx.wordpress.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on September 17, 2008 as per the permalink. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

A pass time that I cultivated long ago in the hope of expressing my skills in geography, civics and science is called imagiNATION. That’s short for imaginary nation. It also expresses that the nation is part of that person’s imagination. Two of my cousins and my brother also have their imagiNATIONs.

My brother took the name Elvenia because his birthday falls on the 11th of December and also because he’s fascinated by elves.

I stand by a name that came to me on a geometry box that my father brought for me. My imagiNATION is called Helix.

 

Helix

Helix (There was a MS Paint generated map here that is forever lost?)

These nations actually refine themselves as one matures. You can keep on adding new innovations there and use it as a playground for testing something that needs to be done in the real world.I also plan to write an imaginary travelogue. Has anyone tried one?

Using Google Docs in College

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://pradx.wordpress.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on September 17, 2008 as per the permalink. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

In India our exposure to technology in getting things done has been limited to Windows and the Office suite. Few students in the mechanical engineering department use computers for their work unless it is forced on us by the syllabus. We still prefer the green graphs and writing on paper.

For my final year project at Air India, I’m trying to convince my group mates to work in the Google Docs environment to hack together our final year project. The ease of sharing and collaboration that I experienced in Docs through my work with SEDS is essentially my source of inspiration for this. For us, who missed out on most of the computer bandwagon, I think it would be necessary to work in the Internet environment.

Recently, I saw my brother read about being responsible netizens in his English text books. Although, most of Indian education has remained in the analog state, it might soon be time to switch over to computers or even mobile devices for education.

Besides the final year project, I’m also planning to work on a smaller scale presentation for a subject, Manufacturing Production and Control (MPC) along with a friend.

As I’ve already said (and is Microsoft or Google listening?) we’ve gone on a Windows system for campus, but not many people know about it and people are still largely on Yahoo and Google systems online. There have also been a few installs of Chrome and Firefox on the traditionally IE 6 platforms.

I will use this to share more of my online experiences here.

Space and the Wisdom of the Crowds

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com/. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 28, 2008 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I picked up James Surowiecki‘s book The Wisdom of Crowds from my library today. It’s byline reads: Why the many are smarter than the few? It’s basically a management book and the only reason I picked it up was to get a management eye view of why this happens. I’ve seen this work in some cases within SEDS and in some cases even in my class, so I really am biased towards the view that crowds can sometimes make better decisions than the experts of the field given a particular situation.

The book makes a reference to an event that occurred immediately after the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986. The launch was televised, so the news of the incident did spread quite quickly. One of the people who got this news was the Dow Jones, a stock market. Dow Jones did not stop trading for mourning but continued trading.

Four companies were involved in the Challenger programme: Rockwell International (built the shuttle and the main engine), Lockheed (ground support), Martin Marietta (external fuel tanks) and Morton Thiokol (solid fuel booster rocket). These shares started declining in the market 21 minutes after the disaster. Stocks of the companies involved fell almost immediately. By the end of the day, the stocks of Morton Thiokol fell by 12% while the other companies recovered and had fallen only by about 3%.

Six months after the explosion, the Presidential Commission on the Challenger held Morton Thiokol liable for the disaster due to the failure of the O-Ring which became less resilient in cold weather and allowed the gases to leak out.

Surowiecki argues that the collective wisdom of the market crowd had squarely blamed Morton Thiokol for the disaster within a day which was later proved as the correct by the Presidential Commission. Surowiecki points out that a study by finance professors Michael Maloney and J. Harold Mulherin into the stock market reaction discovered no foul play or backstage manipulation leading to the steeper fall of the Thiokol stocks. Surowiecki states that what happened was that a large crowd was asked the question – How much less worth are these four companies worth now that the Challenger has exploded? and the market responded with an objectively correct answer. Thus, Surowiecki says that the average answer of the crowd will be at least as good as or even better than the answer of the smartest member.

Stock Markets and space? Whoodathunkit? I wonder if similar studies have been made after the Columbia disaster and the Apollo-11 landings.

 

IIT-B developing microsatellite

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 19, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I got a great shock today morning reading the newspapers. Got the news that IIT-B is developing a 10-kg micro-satellite.

This is a growing trend of developing small satellites that I am so happy to see in India. I have been wanting to see something like this happen ever since I saw the CalPoly Cubesat page that was filled with student satellite projects from other countries.

While the newspaper article quotes only the other satellite developed by Anna University, there are satellites under development at IIA, IISc and VIT besides the one at IIT-B and Anna University. I also hear reports of a college in Hyderabad starting their own small satellite project as well. SEDS-India also has a small satellite project that you will hear from soon.

It’s a small satellite project in the making and I can name atleast a dozen colleges which can take up the project if there are interested students there. IIT-Kanpur is one of them.  Hopefully, this student satellite space race will lead to something more substantial in the future.

With so many student satellites in the offing, the Indian rocketry community has a great opportunity in their hands. Anyone listening?

Space and Ham Radio

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 15, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I fell in love with ham radios in 2004 when I was an electronics student (as an elective) in my junior college. In the same year, I read Maryam’s blog and saw that ham radios can be used in space arena too. It was only the exams that I had to give to obtain a ham license that made me think twice. At that point, I had written a string of engineering admission tests that was driving me nuts and I couldn’t handle another test.

At the SEDS International Conference 2007, some of the earlier interest was re-kindled and also an amazing ‘discovery’. ISRO had a ham radio club.

2 + 2 = 4 !!!

It would be really great if we could establish a ham radio club in every SEDS chapter in India. Besides performing scientific experiments and performing basic satellite communication operations if needed, it also opened another door – a way of talking to ISRO and literally!

ISRO has a ham radio club at most of its centres – Thumba Amateur Radio Club (VU2TRC) at VSSC, ISTRAC Amateur Radio Club (VU2FBS) at Bangalore, at the Master Control Facility (VU2MCF) at Hassan and the more famous Upagraha Amateur Radio Club (VU2URC) at Bangalore. This provides a great opportunity to talk to ISRO scientists who are not always phone and email friendly.

Besides that, we could also talk to SEDS chapters all over the world for free (Internet and telephone still include costs) besides networking in India. Who wants to take the challenge first? This is also an opportunity for all hams who have a space interest!

For more info, visit www.amsatindia.org.

Your meteorites belong to Calcutta Museum

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 15, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I read an article today in the Times of India which runs a column called Tribal Instincts, which talks about unusual groups.This week they covered an astronomy club called Aakash Ganga Centre for Astronomy.

Bharat Adur from the Centre revealed what for me was a strange piece of information: any object falling from the sky on Indian territory, as per law belongs to the Calcutta Museum. I don’t know if this is a law that is implemented or followed but it seems strange.

Shouldn’t the collection which can be useful for astronomical, biological and geological research be at a centre that looks at it from all of these view points? Maybe, we need something along the lines of the International Meteor Organisation. Just worth thinking about.

Change in Attitudes

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 13, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

When I started out with my SEDS chapter in Mumbai, I had an idea of how to do projects. I decided that I would think of all of my dream projects and get my friends to work on them with me. After four years in SEDS and interacting with many people I have changed that perception.

Imposing projects on people doesn’t work many times. It’s best if you get members to think of ideas and then helping them implement the same. Over the next two weeks or more, I want to put here all the things that I dreamed for doing for my chapter so that you can implement the same in your chapters and actually DO something.

I hope that you’re not affected by the attitude that I had when I joined. It proved disastrous for me.

Giving directions to writings here

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 5, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Before beginning to actually write about my work with SEDS India and SEDS Earth, I felt the need to clarify myself on many points.

One of the reasons that I love to write on blogs is because it is a dynamic record of a person’s thoughts. I might feel really great that I thought of all these things today but might actually laugh at them later. There are many factors that causes this change in perception. It maybe because you now have access to people and information you never had earlier. Or it maybe because you are less dumb now than you were earlier.

Writing here, I hope to achieve two things – make people who look at this years later (including me) to understand my intentions in making the decisions that I made and to give ideas for those activities that may one day be possible but which may now be impossible.

SEDS Chapters on Google Maps

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on November 21, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I have been using Google Maps for many small things till now. I have a cycling map among other things, if you wanted to know. I thought I could try and put it together with my activities on the SEDS-Earth Council. And what I came up with a map  with all the international SEDS chapters on one map.

This is what it looks like:

Update: The embed function doesn’t seem to work. So, here’s the link

Now, this is not the end of it. I’ll try and make a map precisely locating all the SEDS chapters in India. If you have 5-10 minutes you can do the same. It doesn’t take a genius to do the maps and it’s great to see where people actually are from and how their places look from satellite images. Kind of like a vicious circle, I would say.

Chandrayaan Video

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as https://blogs.seds.org/pradeep. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on November 21, 2007 as per the timestamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

If you like to know what the latest India’s moon mission is about, you might want to take a look at this video.

Sorry, but embedding the video (this video has been disabled) and a higher resolution one is available here.

Update: Found a longer and more descriptive version which can be embedded here: