Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Simulated Universe

In the last-to-last research group meeting we had, I had raised a proposal that besides research, we discuss other topics of interest just as food-for-thought. Some of them sponteneously stumbled upon the argument shooting questions at me "What are we going to discuss? Physics?" (Physics since last semester I had a brief presentation on quantum gravity in one of the casual meetings and when folks asked me why such a topic which is so much poles apart from my research area, I blurted out that I am a big fan of physics, especially astrophysics!). Anyway, our advisor totally acknowledged my proposal to discuss stuff like physics and just casually mentioned one of the books he is currently reading "Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos".
Today I was just recalling that and thought would look for the book or some recent interesting work going on about the computational aspects of astrophysics. Coincidentally, I just came upon this interesting article. Basically the article discusses the recent research which has been done to build a duplicate universe as a computer simulation. Although I would strongly suggest you to go through the article, but some of the things I found too captivating not to discuss in the blog! For example, they say that 70% of the universe comprises something unknown called 'dark energy' which acts like kind of an anti-gravity pulling apart the universe elements like galaxies from each other. The designers of the artificial universe are also very excited about the flexibility that in the simulation they can go back in time or fast-forward time to see the various unsolved questions about the role of black holes and quasars in defining the fate of the universe. The article says,
The Millennium Simulation - the biggest exercise of its kind - required 25 million megabytes of memory. But it tracked the 14bn-year history of creation in months and now offers a tool to explore mysterious events in galaxies far away and long ago."
This humongous nature of the simulation project is not only a big achievement in the realm of computational physics, but also an amazing and spectacular consideration for computer scientists! Being one of the latter and with a tremendous interest in the former, it would be an exciting pursuit to keep track of this simulation of the universe: how this actually works out to solve the astro-mystries and conjure up another "A Brief History of Time" all over again! Probably it can then address the much talked of fiction element: whether time is a continuous straight line or a continuous circle, looping over and over...

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Grave Issue Of Tomorrow: Power Crisis And Mitigation

I would really suggest you to read this article: Google pushing for energy efficient PCs. Now whether they are doing this to challenge some of the existing giants in the PC manufacturing industry (like IBM, HP etc) or just to cut down some of their huge expenses on the micro-controllers in their research labs is a different story altogether. Nevertheless, on a more commonpace note, one of the prime concerns to environmentalists and power scientists round the globe has been the energy crisis which is predicted to shackle the world in its claws soon. Despite this, coming to US, I was pretty astounded at the way and the extent to which people waste power/energy, especially electricity and water. As an example, none of the computers in any of the labs stays powered off ever! We never remember to power off the lights in our apartments (more since the electricity bill is inclusive in the rent!). Believe it or not, I recall, sometime in a casual discussion with my Dad after my Las Vegas trip, he was telling me that the total amount of power expended in those big-huge video screens in the casinos can actually cater to the power requirement in a few hundred villages in India!
Jokes and analogies apart, the issue is grave and serious. US is a rich country at the present day. And probably that is why nobody cares about saving/being thrifty about expending electricity/water/gas. But this matter needs more farsighted and thoughtful attention by all. It is really a pleasure to find that industry giants like Google are surging forward to throw some light on this issue, even if it delivers some of their selfish motives in the long run!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can TCS/Wipro/Infosys Make It?

The other day we had a heated brain-storming with a few of my Indian friends here and Indian friends working in India. As my Dad always would say, four years down the line when I graduate with a PhD, and start my hunt to gulp a US Green Card, the situation in India too would be worth considering as an aspiring and inspiring research test-bed. So would my friends in India always say that India has changed a lot. No doubt India has changed a lot, but what kind of a change is it? Changes are always welcome, but are these changes going to be temporally consistent? How will they contribute to a persistent progress in the technology sector?
The Indian software companies are doing good! But check this link of the fortune 100 companies: none of the Indian companies (not to talk of the software sector) appear there! Well yeah still these companies are doing good and at least improving the job sector; but a careful insight will only reveal that all of them are working in the service sector. Basically they are the hunting ground for the companies of US for outsourcing projects! Cheap labor and quick work!
Agreed services are earning revenue inside the country. But this is bound to be short-lived. Being in the research sector and having worked at the much famous and coveted company AT&T Bell Labs-spun-off (Avaya Labs), I know how much attempts are being made here to automate services besides outsouring. And once these are realized, there will not be any need for even outsourcing!
Services, BPO and outsourcing cannot be the areas which a huge nation can thrive upon when we talk about technology. It is a bare truth that none of the good cars, microchips, popular software products are hardly indegenously made in India. So the question arises, what needs to be done?
The answer is a sound research base in India: an indegenous endeavor to risk ahead and start never-done-before projects. Yeah, now the issue is this needs money and involves a lot of risks. But consider the case of companies here like Google. Every other month they are releasing all novel stuff in beta versions (Gmail/Orkut/Google Desktop/Google Earth/Google Imagelabeler). They are risking around, investing money, looking ahead and thereby earning. Earning for themselves, earning for US!
We need to have a vigor like that in the Indian software companies. Mere servicing Microsoft or importing car engines from Toyota will not work long. We need to develop the culture, the culture to take newer strides by ourselves, the attempt to create a scenario where 'WE' can outsource our stuff! Somewhat a look out like hers, my internship supervisor at Avaya Labs.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

All Those People, Or Those Few Rare?

Don't you think twenty-four years of life are quite a long way: not because of the temporal aspects of it, but I believe it is that period of life when you gain the most variagated of experiences ever possible, it is the time when you change 'roles', you meet multi-faceted people, you dream most, and last but not the least, you are struck with the craziest of ideas! It is the time to mould your life in a way you dream of! I strongly judge this period of life to be the most exciting, interesting, beautiful and happenning.

I have met all kinds of people: people with a conservative view of life, not ready to take risks. Then there have been people who do not bother about these things, they think others who 'analyze' like me, or are not 'damn care' like them to be someone 'out of the world' and wasting time, they would label such 'blogs' to be sheer waste of time. Not that they won't blog. They would have a altogether different meaning of blogging on their minds. There have also been people who only bother about making money, to them money is the ultimate solution to all problems. It is partly true though, but only as long as it does not hinder with your desires out of life, your expectations. Also I have met people who would definitely do different things, but would boast on all what they do differently.

And finally there are some rare people who are altogether different from all of the rest. Society calls them radical thinkers. But ironically they are the ones for which homo sapiens are humans today! Had there been no Galileo or Newton, probably we won't have been using this Internet to post this article on the Blogger! Jokes apart, but I think these are the people who rise above the mundane commonplace thoughts and ideas. They belie that life has to be the way any Tom, Dick or Harry has.

My greatest endeavor of life is to join the folk of these people. As an aspiring researcher, I want to be driven by instincts, intuitions and radical thinking. I want to visit those winding, never visited thorny roads to explore every nook and corner possible to research upon. And I believe my best friend in that endeavor would be my faith in self...