Archive for September 20th, 2006

Diversify or die!

September 20, 2006

Here is a note in The Scientist that argues that it is no longer “Publish or perish” but “Diversify or die”; link via PTDR. As HH Munro would have said, “The Scientific Paper is dead; Long live the paper!”

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Death of a street!

September 20, 2006

Here is an article about book sellers in Baghdad; link via verbal privilege.

Maverick molecule!

September 20, 2006

Here is D. Balasubramanian in the Hindu on a maverick molecule (with lots of Indian connections — IISc, Madras, GNR and so on!)

Some reading material on phase field modelling!

September 20, 2006

Most of my PhD thesis, and my present post-doctoral work is based on phase field modelling; hence, it is only fair that I extol the virtues of phase field modelling, once in a while, in this blog. So, here are a few phase field papers that I recently came across.

  1. Material scientists are always at a disadvantage when it comes to explaining their research to non-specialists. For a long time, when my relatives used to ask me about my research, I had two standard answers: (a) Sometimes I said that my research is related to turbine blades in jet engines. But, most of the time, turbine blades is not something that they have heard of, like when my grandma asked me about my research. (b) So, most of the times, I told about iron, how it rusts, and how the “modern” cooking utensils made of stainless steel never rust thanks to some other metals added to iron; and that my research is something like that — how to improve the properties of materials by adding other metals — which was always a let down — “Oh, this guy is working on stainless steel and such junk. Who cares?” Thus, I always had this fantasy: suppose my work is related to studies on heart attacks. I know most of my relatives would have shown more interest in my research, and would have held me in a higher esteem. Now the good news: phase field is indeed used in computer modelling of cardiac arrhythmias. Here is a paper titled Modeling wave propagation in realistic heart geometris using the phase-field method, published in the journal Chaos (Vol. 15, 013502, 2005). Take a look at the amazingly complex geometries in which the simulations have been carried out (Fig. 9).
  2. Phase field models are also good tools for teaching purposes at the graduate level: see this article titled Phase-field models for free boundary problems, published in European journal of physics. While you are at it, you might want to check the entire September 2005 issue of the journal, which is a special issue on teaching physics with computers. Here are some of my phase field codes available under GPL.
  3. Finally, for those of you who are mathematically minded, here is an article titled A phase field formulation of the Willmore problem, published in Nonlinearity. Go here for a really short introduction to Willmore problem.

Happy phase-fielding!

Attention economy!

September 20, 2006

Here is an interview with Richard Lanham, the author of Economics of attention: style and substance in the age of information. Link: via the reading experience. Here is what Lanham has to say about physical reality as printout.

Of course we have always sometimes thought of physical reality as generated by a code. In medieval Christianity, the world was conceived as existing in the mind of God and having its only true reality there. Down here on earth, we have only printouts of God’s design, and confusing ones at that, with which to play out the drama of our salvation. Further back, Plato found ultimate reality in a series of forms, not in the imperfect realization of those forms on earth. Further back still, we have the atomism of the pre-Socratic philosophers like Democritus of Abdera. But it has been a long time since we’ve thought about nature, our daily reality, as a printout. The digital computer has now returned us to it.

There is also some interesting stuff about the future of books. Take a look!