Tuesday, October 26, 2010


to my friend and colleague, Ashutosh Sharma for winning the Infosys prize. Ashutosh has done amazing work in the field of interfaces and is considered an authority in the field. He is also one of the nicest persons you can meet and he has always been helpful and encouraging whenever I have met him.

His work is corroborated by scientometrics. He is the scientist with the highest h-index among engineers (34) and has the second highest number of citations in engineering (> 4000) in India.

In my opinion, he is richly deserving of the award and I can not think of anyone who deserves it more than him. Congratulations to him.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


ACS Chemical biology has been publishing a series of articles on h-index this year.

A satirical take. A nice article by Anirban on why the DBT policy in India is flawed. A detailed article by Seeberger on why trust is more important.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


to the Indian side winning the test series against Australia 2-0. Congrats are due to Vijay and Pujara for making the chase memorable. Pujara was sent ahead of Dravid because India wanted Dravid and Tendulkar to guide the chase when the ball will reverse swing after 40 overs. But they finished off the game before 40 overs !

Having been faithfully watched all the test matches in Bangalore, I have always been disappointed because India has never won in Bangalore after I returned to India in 1998. I had fly to Chennai to watch test matches where India would win. I watched all five days of this game. On the first two days of the game, I was in the A stand (Rs. 250), near long off. On the next two days of the same, I was in the N stand (Rs. 400), which is right on the top of the sight screen and my colleague, Praveen Ramamurthy and I went early to sit right behind the stumps on the third and fourth day. On the fourth day, after Tendulkar scored his double hundred, he was distracted by the white shirt I was wearing. Dhoni signaled to us and asked me to move slightly away. And, then Sachin got out after scoring ten more runs. Maybe he would have scored 250 if he did not make me move :-) I moved back to the original seat for the Australian innings. On the fifth day, I reached the stadium only after lunch and to see India cruise through !

My other colleague, Ramamurty, who is a great fan of Laxman, got me the tickets. Thanks, Ram. However, he did not come for the third day of the test match. He will surely regret it !

The analysts on the news channels that I am watching now somehow give the impression that we dominated the match throughout. The Mohali test was won only because of Laxman's outstanding innings; the Bangalore test was even-steven till this morning. One outstanding session on the fifth day in both the tests for India sealed the game and headlines like "India trash and dominate Australia" are unwarranted.

So are the surveys and articles on whether Dravid and Laxman should be dropped for the next matches against New Zealand. Dravid averages 45+ in the second innings in his career and Laxman averages 80+ in the second innings after March 2009. While they have immense talent, unless Vijay and Pujara demonstrate their mettle on bouncy pitches in South Africa and be consistent over a period, do not even compare them to Dravid or Laxman.

The best moments of the test match
  • SRT reaching 27, 50, 100, 150, 200 in the first innings and 50 in the second innings
  • Ponting getting out in the 70's in both the innings.
  • North's hundred. North seems to either gets dismissed below 10 or scores a hundred in every innings.
  • Vijay's maiden hundred in the first innings and the 306 run stand with SRT
  • Zaheer getting substantial reverse swing and Ojha's perseverance. Was not impressed with Sreesanth. Bhajji was good but not the person who bowled in 2001 in Chennai.
  • Pujara's outstanding fifty on debut. The last Indian who made a fifty in the fourth innings on debut: Gavaskar !
  • The lap of honor to the crowd and Dhoni calling the crowd as the 12th man.
  • My colleagues who gave me company !

Monday, October 11, 2010


to Sachin Tendulkar for a wonderful innings today and to Vijay for a patient good innings. I was sitting behind the sight screen all day watching Sachin play and the whole crowd was enchanted. An Australian newspaper said,

At 37, he played like the kid who wished it wouldn't get dark. When Tendulkar made his Test debut, his teammate Cheteshwar Pujara was one. Now 22, Pujara, who has never known his national side without Tendulkar, waited and watched in the pavilion, itching to make his first walk onto a Test pitch, yet remaining as entranced as the rest.

Cricinfo had this to say,

Only a man blessed with immense powers of endurance could sustain a 20-year Test career and Sachin Tendulkar displayed exactly that quality on a day of Indian dominance in Bangalore. ..... 
The only man who didn't seem tired at stumps was Tendulkar. That's the benefit of 20 years of practice.
On his last tour of Australia, he was given rapturous ovations by an adoring public each time he went in or out. But the Australians might not have seen the last of him. Fifty Test hundreds is but a formality. Hundred international hundreds are there for the taking. But Tendulkar endures not in the pursuit of milestones, but because he can't fall out of love with cricket. And that's why, above anything else, he remains the most loved cricketer. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Publications - growth

Abi, in response to my paper in Current science, writes

It's easy to get depressed after reading articles ...that provide a snapshot of the state of science (or, academia in general) in India. But snapshots do not tell us anything at all about the tremendous changes that we have been seeing and experiencing in India in the past decade or so. To get a good sense of the direction and pace of these changes, what we need are studies that track India's progress over the last several decades.
Therefore, I wrote such a paper recently, which will be published shortly. A snapshot from this paper.
Figure 1a shows that the total number of publications from India, China and USA over the period of 1960 to 2010. USA had a sharp increase in the number of publications in the early 1970s, while China shows a sharp increase in 2002. In 1996, India, China and USA published around 20, 27 and 320 thousand papers, respectively. By 2002, India and USA published around 26 and 320 thousand papers, respectively, indicating that the growth of publications were not significant in this time period. However, by 2002, China had increased its number of publications to 57 thousand, twice what it had published in 1996. However, the real remarkable growth is in the period from 2002 to 2009. In 2009, India, China, USA published 58, 280 and 414 thousand papers, respectively i.e., compared to 1996, India had increased by a factor 3, China had increased by a factor of 20, while USA increased by 30%.
One can look at the share of publications (i.e., number of publications published by the country divided by the total number of publications in the world). USA showed a marked drop in share of world papers from 40 to 29 percent between 1981 and 2008 while India has remained nearly constant with a world share of 3.0% in 1981 and 3.3 percent in 2008. As expected, China has shown exceptional growth in global share over the 1981-2008 period while Australia, Brazil and South Korea also increased their share of publications. 
Figures 2a to 2f show the total number of publications from India, China and USA in major science journals from 1980 to 2010. The increase of number of papers in these top journals mirrors that the increase in the overall number of publications. An increase in the overall number of papers leads to an increase of papers both in the top journals and the bottom journals. Thus, the number of citations per paper has remained nearly constant (Fig 3) over the years for India, China and USA. This clearly indicates that an increase in the number of papers does not necessarily lead to loss of quality. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nobel predictions

for chemistry are here. Some names missing from this list but predicted by are ISI web of science are Japan's Susumu Kitagawa and American Omar Yaghi for porous metal-organic frameworks. These are not my predictions, I will give my predictions tomorrow :-)
Spectrosocopy & Application of Lasers, Zare/Moerner/+, 6-1
Nuclear Hormone Signaling, Chambon/Evans/Jensen, 7-1
Transition-Metal-Catalyzed Cross-Couplings, 
Suzuki/Heck/Sonogashira/Tsuji/+/–, 9-1
Bioinorganic Chemistry, Gray/Lippard/Holm/–, 9-1The Field (everything not listed), 10-1Electrochemistry/Electron Transfer, Bard/Hush/Gray/–, 15-1
Techniques in DNA Synthesis, Caruthers/Hood/+, 15-1Instrumentation/Techniques in Genomics, Venter/+, 19-1Biological Membrane Vesicles, Rothman/Schekman/+, 19-1
Molecular Studies of Gene Recognition, 
Ptashne, 19-1Combinatorial Chemistry/DOS, Schreiber/+, 74-1Solar Cells, Gr├Ątzel/+, 74-1Pigments of Life, Battersby/+, 99-1
Development of the Birth Control Pill, Djerassi, 99-1Applications of NMR Spectroscopy, Pines/Roberts/McConnell/+/–, 99-1Development of Chemical Biology, Schultz/Schreiber/+, 99-1Self-Assembly, Whitesides/Nuzzo/Stang/–, 99-1Molecular Modeling and Assorted Applications, Karplus/Houk/Schleyer/Miller/+/–, 99-1Small Regulatory RNA, Ambros/Baulcombe/Ruvkun, 149-1
Eukaryotic RNA Polymerases, Roeder, 149-1Mechanical Bonds and Applications, Sauvage/Stoddart/+, 149-1Bio- & Organo-catalysis, List/Lerner/Barbas, 149-1Organic Synthesis, Evans/Danishefsky/Nicolaou/Ley/Trost/Stork/Wender/Kishi/+/–, 199-1Mechanistic Enzymology, Walsh, 199-1
Fluorocarbons, DuPont/Curran/–, 199-1
Polymer Science, Matyjaszewski/Langer/+/– 199-1
Understanding of Organic Stereochemistry, Mislow, 199-1Tissue Engineering, Langer/+, 199-1Contributions to Bioorganic Chemistry, Breslow/Eschenmoser/+, 199-1Nanotechnology, Lieber/Whitesides/Alivisatos/Mirkin/Seeman/+/–, 199-1Dendrimers, Frechet/Tomalia/+, 399-1
Astrochemistry, Oka, 399-1Zeolites, Flanigan, 399-1Molecular Recognition, Dervan/+, 399-1Molecular Machines, Stoddart/Tour/+/–, 399-1

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


to the unsung hero of Indian Cricket, VVS Laxman for taking India to victory in Mohali. Playing with a very very sore back, the very very special man played a brilliant knock to win the test match for India. Even though he has done it numerous times, and his Kolkata knock being ranked by Wisden as the best knock by an Indian, he is India's Atlas but still an unsung hero.

Laxman has often been the most disposable member of the Indian team. It seems he has been playing for his place in the side throughout his career. Still he has played so many of these saviour knocks for India that he thrives on these situations now. Possibly he longs for them. At least he wishes he could bat the same way in normal circumstances as he does in crisis. Cricketers spend entire careers wishing to bat in crisis as they do in normal situations. That's the world of Laxman

Dhoni, Sachin and Sehwag endorse 21, 14, 7 brands, respectively, earning hundreds of crores. How many brands does VVS endorse? None.In the post awards ceremony, the camera pans to Laxman's smile when Ravi Shastri announces the man of the match: Zaheer Khan. That's the character of the unassuming man, who later apologizes to Ojha for yelling at him in the penultimate over and credits Ishant Sharma for the partnership and plays down his role in the win.

Why don't nice and unassuming people get duly credited? In science, I have seen a few scientists who have everything: good publications, large number of citations, patents, teach well and be not recognized. I am told this is because they do not have "quality of mind" (whatever this means). I do not know what it is equivalent in cricket. Maybe being flashy !