Archive for June, 2006

Talking about occupational hazards!

June 30, 2006

Here is John Hawks in a review of a book called The First Human, which, by the way, he strongly recommends:

The first is the real danger of today’s field work. Paleoanthropology is not merely a game today, it is “the Great Game” replayed. Field teams divide up “Connecticut-sized” research territories, hem opponents into areas with younger sediments, and — when bullying, scientific name-calling, and bureaucratic manouvers fail — finally agitate local people, enlist bandits, or pull their guns. To me, the book’s most touching moment is its description of Michel Brunet’s feelings after losing a colleague on his field team. In another episode, a young graduate student (who deserves recognition for her science and not this) personifies a near-miss with violence in the field. The two cases together bear rereading: if paleoanthropology continues along its current path, then who can doubt that some people will be killed in the field?

Take a look at the review. Might even tempt you to buy the book.

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Frontline on KS Singh!

June 27, 2006

Here is a tribute to KS Singh (who passed away recently) in the recent issue of Frontline. Here is KS Singh himself, in an issue of Seminar, on the Anthropological Survey of India.

India Model?

June 27, 2006

I knew about the Kerala model. And, here is a story about the India model : link via AL daily. By the way, ihe issue of Foreign affairs in which the article appears, features a special section on the rise of India. The introduction to the section reads as follows:

Once proudly socialist and nonaligned, India is being remade as a roaring capitalist success story and emerging strategic partner of the United States. Economic reforms have raised per capita GDP and lowered poverty rates, while New Delhi’s growing self-confidence may help it become the swing state in the global balance of power.

In this special lead package, therefore, Foreign Affairs has brought together four top experts to analyze the sources and implications of India’s rise — and the policies necessary for it to continue.

Howzzat!

Music, neurosciences, evolution, and all that!

June 25, 2006

Through this post from Science Blog, I learnt about The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences issue of neuroscience and music: there is plenty of stuff out there to keep you engaged for quite a while!

Time and I!

June 25, 2006

I remember this quote: "Time goes you say! Alas, time stays: you go", or, something to that effect. And, here are some tips on time management in the internet: I also don't do things 1-4, and probably, I should stop 5 too! Take a look.

A guide to Ruby, or, the pleasure of finding things out!

June 22, 2006

Here is a guide to Ruby: link via digg. The first few pages, at least, look so great, I have the irresistable urge to start learning Ruby, today, now, here!

We always knew that, right?

June 21, 2006

That solving puzzles, doing science, and all that, is, but a form of addiction:

"While you're trying to understand a difficult theorem, it's not fun," said Biederman, professor of neuroscience in the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

"But once you get it, you just feel fabulous."

The brain's craving for a fix motivates humans to maximize the rate at which they absorb knowledge, he said.

"I think we're exquisitely tuned to this as if we're junkies, second by second."

Take a look at this story from scienceblog! 

Curves of life!

June 21, 2006

Scientists have long held a fscination, sometimes bordering on mystical obsession, for helical structures in nature.

So begins a paper, deliciously titled Helices,  in the latest issue of PNAS: and, one of those mystically obsessed persons, apparently called them The curves of life. The paper's key words run something like this: biomolecules, differential geometry, elasticity, filaments, rods. Have fun!

Provocative essays!

June 19, 2006

Here are two links from Arts & Letters Daily:

  • On debunking string theory: But is string theory true? Peter Woit, a mathematician at Columbia University, has challenged the entire string-theory discipline by proclaiming that its topic is not a genuine theory at all and that many of its exponents do not understand the complex mathematics it employs.
  • Freeman Dyson defends religion. Like Hardy and Erdös, Dennett plays the game of breaking the spell by making religion look silly. Many of my scientist friends and colleagues have similar prejudices. One famous scientist for whom I have a deep respect said to me, "Religion is a childhood disease from which we have recovered." There is nothing wrong with such prejudices, provided that they are openly admitted. Dennett's account of the evolution of religion is on the whole fair and well balanced.

Take a look!

Guha on Ravi Dayal!

June 19, 2006

Here is the tribute of Ramachandra Guha to Ravi Dayal.