Saturday, December 25, 2010

Overheard the New Delhi airport while boarding the Indian Airlines flight to Bangalore. "I can't understand how rediff can say that Google is the best company to work for in terms of work and salary. Nothing beats a government job in terms of pay to work ratio. It is nearly infinity because the denominator is nearly zero."

Friday, December 17, 2010


One of my colleagues sent me this paper published by my  colleague in IIT-B titled, " Extreme homeopathic dilutions retain starting materials: A nanoparticulate perspective." 

This is possibly because I really believe that Homeopathy works, just like placebos. I am reminded of the conversation in "The Simpsons". Homer Simpsons panics after seeing one bear and gets the mayor to have a bear patrol. Then,

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
 Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, dear.
 Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
 Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
 Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
 Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
        [Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.
        [Lisa refuses at first, then takes the exchange]

Anyway, back to the paper. Homeopathy believes, contrary to all scientific evidence and thought, that potency increases with decrease of concentration. Thus "medicines" are sold at various dilutions from 1c to 200c. The paper discusses the procedure and concludes, "Further, we have shown that despite large differences in the degree of dilution from 6c to 200c (10^12 to 10^400), there were no major differences in the nature of the particles (shape and size) of the starting material and their absolute concentrations (in pg/ml)." All it means that no dilution really occurs beyond 6c. 

Being busy

Professor Balaram writes on being busy.

 How often  have  we  all  heard  the  familiar,  ‘I  am  too  busy’  excuse,  when  something,  however  minor,  needs  to  be done.  As  an  administrator,  of  sorts,  I  have  often  had  to recruit  colleagues  to  the  task  of  carrying  out  the  many (and sometimes tiresome) chores that are so necessary in academic   institutions.  Not   infrequently,   accomplished and  capable  colleagues  tell  me,  ‘I  am  too  busy.  Find someone else’. 

In major institutions across India, one can classify faculty as those who do research and  (a) serve on institutional committees (b) do not serve on institutional committees but serve on national committees (c) those who do not serve on any committees. Besides, there are a few faculty who do administrative work but no research and some who do neither research nor administrative work and, yet, constantly complain that they are busy.