Archive for June 28th, 2007

Tribute to M M Dandapani Desikar

June 28, 2007

I remember hearing songs like தாமரை பூத்த தடாகமடி by Dandapani Desikar, which, I have not heard anybody else sing. Sriram Venkatkrishnan pays his tributes to Desikar in the Hindu Friday review supplement. You can hear Desikar sing here; happy listening times!

Inscription on the Delhi iron pillar!

June 28, 2007

Prof. R Balasubramanian of IIT-Kanpur (Bala for most of us) writes at least one article every year on some aspect or other of Delhi iron pillar; here is his latest in the most recent issue of Current Science (pdf) regarding the process by which the inscriptions on the Delhi iron pillar have been made (pdf):

A detailed technical analysis of the characters of the oldest Delhi Iron Pillar inscription has been conducted. It reveals that the characters were put on the surface by die-striking operation using dies of different characteristic shapes. The dies were struck more than once to provide each imprint on surface. Both the die and material surfaces were in cold condition during the operation. Evidences have been provided to conclude that the inscription was die-struck on the pillar when it was in the vertical erect condition.

Take a look!

You must listen; and, you must listen now!

June 28, 2007

Did you know that Ustad Abdul Karim Khan sang Tyagaraja‘s kriti in Karaharapriya, Raama nee samaanamevaru? Go here for a sample!

While you are on the page, do not miss Pandit Omkarnath Thakur‘s Vandemaataram and Basavaraj Rajguru‘s vachana!

And then, why not Siddheshwari Devi, Begum Akhtar and Kishori-Tai too?

If there be heaven on earth, it is here; it is here; it is here!

HowTo: distill the essence of your research and communicate it effectively

June 28, 2007

Towards the end of my PhD, my thesis advisor suggested that I prepare four different presentations based on my work: of five minutes, fifteen minutes, thirty minutes and an hour duration. Working on those different presentations did help me gain a new perspective of what I had done, and how to communicate it effectively for different audience groups.

Rex at Savage Minds has a similar suggestion regarding writing up your thesis work:

But on the whole I think it is a good idea that academics learn how to scope their writing for different degrees of specificity. It is always good to have the full monograph to fall back on, but for non-specialists like me, the article may be all I need—and I may need to glance over the brief write-up to decide whether or not I read the article.

Scoping is important not just for readers doing literature searches, but for authors as well. One of the skills I try to teach my graduate students is the art of cooking their projects down to a sentence (‘I study mining and indigenous people in Papua New Guinea’) or up to a dissertation. They often feel—rightly—that a sentence can never capture the richness of their project. But one of the most valuable things about learning to boil things down is that shifting the form around often helps you get clear on the content. This process of inflation and deflation is thus, I think, one of the keys to getting clear on what specifically you are expending so much lung power on. And clearly Pascoe’s tagline is a great example how even a single sentence can signal to the reader what you study, and why they ought to find it fascinating.

Rex also gives a sample of such a process in his post. Take a look!

HowTo: be a good mentor

June 28, 2007

Here is Nature‘s guide for mentors; the rather lengthy piece talks about the various aspects of mentoring, namely, personal characterisitcs, teaching and communication, building communities, skill development, and networking. It also gives several tips for mentors, and even a self-assessment sheet. Take a look!

Obituary of Prof. R W Cahn by Lindsay Greer

June 28, 2007

Prof. Lindsay Greer, in an obituary to be published in Nature materials,  pays his tributes to Prof. R W Cahn, who passed away recently:

In Robert Cahn, who died on 9 April 2007, materials science has lost one of its creators, a formidable contributor to its development, and its foremost chronicler.

The piece also describes the many aspects of Prof. Cahn’s professional activities, and his impact on the materials community. Take a look!

The time has come…Edition 2

June 28, 2007

Happy reading!

Five things that are wrong with Catch-22

June 28, 2007

A professor of philosophy tells five things that are wrong, in his opinion, about Catch-22; he also calls it the most overrated novel of the twentieth century; via.

The time has come

June 28, 2007

To clear all the backlog. I am planning to post quite a few links in the next couple of days. Here is the first installment.

Happy reading!