Call it Rathodics, Rathodology, Rathod-gineering, or Rathodistry; chances are high that you will find lot of useless things on this blog. Nevertheless, I thank you for visiting my blogsite, and hope you spend sometime reading the blogs and commenting on them. Further, you can visit me at http://www.unm.edu/~srathod

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Scian Melt #2

Welcome to the second edition of The Scian Melt. Here we feature interesting weblog posts that have two common threads, Science and India. If you would like to participate in future editions of The Scian Melt, feel free to email us with your entry.

The first one is by Patrix M, where he seem to present his viewpoints on a quote from a book by P. Kennedy.

Another one from Patrix M compares brains v. brawns. It is an interesting blog, and I never thought regarding such a comparison. Do visit this one.

This one is from Prayatna. It explores a topic which is at the forefront in the research circles in US, and now has hit headlines in India too Looming funding crisis in professional higher education in India"

For all the tech-photo philias, Anita Bora has some amazing snaps in Adventures in animal kingdom.

Talking about science photos, how about the science of lighting in photography from Seshu Badrinath at Tiffinbox?

Rajesh Jain at Emergic explains both technology and business of network computing.

The next Scian Melt will be held on November 20th at Selective Amnesia hosted by Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan. You can send your entries directly to Chandrachoodan to chandrachoodan[at]gmail.com or to melt[at]thescian.com. If you are interested in hosting the Scian Melt, let us know and we'll add you to the hosting schedule.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bellwethers of the retail season...

I came across an interesting article, Thinking Outside the Box to Forecast Holiday Sales, which mentions how sales forecasters use innovative ways to do their job during the holiday season, i.e. forecast sales. The traditional way involved chatting with store clerks, counting customers with shopping bags, and asking shoppers themselves. However, considering that the holiday spending accounts for one-fourth of annual retail sales, some people do think out of the box to forecast sales. Here are a few novel, and in some cases, time-tested with very impressive track record, methods of predicting the sales.

- Counting number of parents who line up in stores to get a picture taken of their child with Santa Claus. If the lines for the photos are long, mall foot traffic is high.

- Sales figures of imaging companies who take photographs of kids with Santa Claus.

- Tracking sales at Christmas tree lots or hardware chains like Lowe's Cos., etc. If the treese sell off quickly, analysts assume early consumer confidence.

- Tracking gift wrap sales; retailers order gift wrapping paper in proportion to the sales they expect as shoppers buy it later in the season to wrap their gifts

- Tracking sales of corrugated board to see if retailers are beefing up their inventories for expected sales

- Tracking the first frost that hits; in a period of inflated energy prices, consumers have less money to spare if they have to turn on their furnaces sooner

Nanotech in India

Aditya mentioned in one of his blog president promotes nanotech... in July during an awards ceremony at the ISRO, and then as recent as September in a joint India-US videoconference on space.

Guess what, he repeats it again while addressing
a packed audience of young scientists and research scholars at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Thursday night. I hope this nanotech picks up fast in India, before we are too late to catch the bus. Just a word of caution - beware of a possible nanotech bubble, because right now, there is more hype than hope in nanotech, and a premature hoopla over nanotech might as well make history repeat itself after the dot-com bust.

Broadband in India

I am not aware of the current situation with respect to internet connection in India. But, according to this news item, broadband connection will debut soon in India. The monthly charges are intended to hover between Rs. 500 and Rs. 800.

However, one point which bothers me a lot is the access to basic facilities such as water and electricity in most part of India. I am not saying that we should not make progress at the technological forefront. My point is that the government should, just as it comes up with policies to increase the penetration of computers and internet, come up with policies to increase the number of people/places who have access to water and electricity.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

"Atlas of the World"

The National Geographic Society is launching the eighth edition of its "Atlas of the World" this month with a record number of updates and editorial changes from its edition five years ago. The reason for this high pace in change has to do mainly with two factors: a still rapidly growing population and an even-more international economy, says Allen Carroll, the society's chief cartographer.

Some of the aspects of this book are as follows.

- 17,000 updates and editorial changes from its edition five years ago
- 416-page long, weighing 7 pounds (3.2 kg)
- $165 per copy, with a first print run of 165,000
- 8,000 labels in a single map plate
- 136-page index with 140,000 place names
- Site of terror attacks
- Bases of Al Qaeda or other groups purposefully left out since they are a shifting target
- Migration and refugee flows and health and literacy rates
- A map of undersea fiber-optic cables showing a jumbled mass of cables between Europe and the United States, but a lone one snaking around the west coast of Afirca and skipping much of east Africa
- Europe, parts of Asia and North America dominating the map of internet hosts
- Includes East Timor, the first new nation of this century
- Shows the recently defined border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia
- Shows the administrative divisions in Slovakia and the Czech Republic
- Mount Everest at 29,035 feet (8,850 m), Earth's highest point. It is recorded 7 feet (2.1 m) higher than their previous version, not because it has grown, but because measurement data is more accurate
- Shrinking of Lake Chad due to an ongoing drought
- Effect on the Aral Sea due to the siphoning of water
- Satellite imagery composed of a compilation of nighttime shots taken over several months and peiced together to show human settlements according to the number of bright lights
- North America's East and West coasts, Western Europe, parts of India and Japan, having the biggest number of lights
- Parts of Australia engulfed in fires
- Towns and cities identified by the names people would identify if traveling to that area, ex. Italy's capital identified as "Roma" with the English translation "Rome" next to it

The Leaning Minarets of Taj Mahal!!!

According to this piece of news in Silicon India, the Taj Mahal is tilting and that it might crumble and sink too, if corrective actions are not taken. The Taj Mahal was built on the banks of Yamuna river with sufficiently deep water around it. However, due to the receding water levels, the water bed has gone dry jeopardizing the structure of Taj Mahal. Corrective actions suggested include refilling the water bed with water.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Piracy is good too...

I was reading an article by Richard Heeks titled Myths of Software Development in Developing Countries. Among other "negative myths", he cites one myth to debunk, which I couldn't resist post it here.

"Piracy is ruining software production in developing countries"

Piracy accounts for 50%-90% of software consumption in developing country markets. Yet this has not crushed local software production. Quite the reverse. Piracy has grown the local market by speeding the diffusion of information technology and of software skills. As piracy diffuses standard imported packages, many local software firms have developed capabilities by producing localised versions through "reverse functional engineering" (Heeks 1996a). Piracy has stimulated innovation and has also helped the diffusion of software production tools.

My only comment is that it is an interesting observation.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Funds for chat-room surveillance???

"The U.S. Intelligence Community funds ways to spy on chat rooms".

National Science Foundation (NSF) approves
$157,673 from its Approaches to Combat Terrorism program to come up with ways to monitor chat-rooms for possible terrorist activities.

Paranoia strikes again... I guess, there are better ways to spend money.


Phil Knight, a Stanford MBA and middle-distance runner at the University of Oregon, imported inexpensive, well-made Japanese shoes, and sold them directly to runners at tracks meets in his spare time; thus was born Nike. Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregan coach, formed a partnership with Knight starting with $500, and formed Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) in 1964, which would evolve into Nike.

Nike is named after the Greek goddess of victory.

Check out Phil Knight on Nike and sweatshops in "The Big One", a documentary by Michael Moore.

2004 Nobel in Economics

The 2004 Nobel prize for economics goes to Finn Kydland of Norway and Edward Prescott of the United States "for their contributions to dynamic macroeconomics: the time consistency of economic policy and the driving forces behind business cycles". The economics award was not among the original prizes founded by Alfred Nobel, inventor of dynamite, in his will in 1895. It was instituted by Bank of Sweden in 1968 and first awarded the following year.

Friday, October 08, 2004

2004 Nobel Peace Prize

Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize "for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace". This seems to have sparked a debate that the Nobel Peace prize is moving away from its traditional role of offering the highest recognition for peace efforts during war time to more peripheral roles involving, such as supporting the environment, etc. as is the case for the 2004 peace prize.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

2004 Nobel Prize for Literature

Austria's Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for her "for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clich├ęs and their subjugating power".

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

2004 Nobel in Chemistry

The third in the series of the Nobel Prize, the one for chemistry, goes to three professors for helping to understand how the human body gives the "kiss of death" to rogue proteins to defend itself from diseases like cancer.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Nobel in Physics

The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics goes to three professors studying how tiny quark particles interact

Monday, October 04, 2004

2004 Nobel Prize in Medicine

The 2004 Nobel Prize for Medicine has been announced. It goes to a pair of scientists who work on genes that control the sense of smell.

Friday, October 01, 2004

"Made in India" pretty soon in Walmart stores

Finally, Wal-Mart to set up 100% arm in India. Being a supplier to Wal-Mart (WMT) is indeed a matter of pride. However, Wal-Mart has the reputation of driving a lot of suppliers out of business. It is interesting the way Wal-Mart works with its suppliers so that Walmart can offer its consumers the lowest price. It is said that when Wal-Mart approaches a supplier, instead of the normal procedure of a retailer defending its financial statements, Wal-Mart makes the supplier produce its financial statements. The supplier would say that it can offer, for instance, 1,000 quantities of a product at $10. Walmart would propose that it will buy the product in quantity of 100,000, but it has to be offered at $3. Given the prospect of a steady business of 100,000, the supplier usually ignores the consequences of the reduced margin, and more often than not, if it does not pay attention to its strategies is out of business in a short while.

Another piece of information: positions 6 to 10 in the richest person belongs to the Waltons.