Having waited for several days for the update to be pushed to my phone, I temporarily moved over from Airtel to Vodafone. Wow! the update was pushed within seconds – after I connected to the PC using the Xperia Companion software. Airtel seems to be helplessly slow in pushing this update (or perhaps it decided not to go ahead with this one).
I received an email sometime back to setup contacts with the names ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc on my cellphone. This stands for ‘In Case of Emergency’ and can be used by rescuers to call my near and dear ones in case I am involved in an accident.This makes emergency contacts easy to identify – many people for example normally save their spouse’s name not under ‘Wife’ but under her name for example.
I first thought this might be some new idea drummed up by someone, and not really well known. However, I found the concept on Wikipedia, which convinced me to its legitimacy.
I decided then to setup these ICE contacts – I created a new contact with my wife’s number, but with the name ICE. I did the same with a couple of other close contacts that could be used in case by wife isnt close to the phone.
However, as a side effect of this, whenever I got a call from my wife, the cellphone stopped displaying the contact name – rather it would show only the number. I guessed this must be happening because the software finds two different contacts for the same number – and gets confused. I was surprised that the software makers did not include a simple piece of code which would display any one (or the first one) of the two contacts found.
Obvious solution was to store wife’s number only once – and that too with ICE name, and use that also for everyday calls. Another way was to rename the existing contact – if my wife’s name is Tara, I can name the contact as ‘ICE Tara’ or ‘ICE Wife’. Both were unacceptable to me – I was looking for a more elegant solution.
A couple of days later, the answer came to me: on the ICE contact, add a ‘1’ at the end of the phone number. For example, if the area code is 423 and phone number is 512345 then store it as 4235123451. You an use any other digit also in stead of 1. Thats it!
Why does this work? Mobile phones do matching from the right side when a call is received. Hence, it would recognize Tara, but fail to match ICE. What happens then if you call the ICE number? No problemo, the call goes through because telephone networks ignore any digits after the number!
Okay guess what: addiction is not just limited to humans. Apparently new research found that bees can get addicted to caffeine and nicotine.
According to the study, bees were offered “artificial nectar that containted various natural sugar levels and various levels of caffeine and nicotine, alongside clean nectar that comprised sugar alone.” The bees indicated their preference for the nicotine version of nectar.
Talking of bees, they are also known to have what are called “compound eyes” – which consist of thousands of individual photo receptors. From Wikipedia: “The image perceived is a combination of inputs from the numerous ommatidia (individual “eye units”), which are located on a convex surface, thus pointing in slightly different directions. Compared with simple eyes, compound eyes possess a very large view angle, and can detect fast movement and, in some cases, the polarization of light.”
Having witnessed 5 solar eclipses, one of which was a totality – over a period of 14 years, and having read about the one from 1980, I am going to try and chronicle how the eclipse viewing has changed over the past 29 years.
The photo at the top shows a normally busy income tax office square in an Indian city bereft of any people during the eclipse of 1980.
Showed a movie to keep people indoors
Showed a live telecast of the eclipse
Let people just watch on their own, nothing special
Stayed indoors mostly. Only the scientists watched the eclipse.
It was quite a people event, the educated watched the superstitious didn’t
Everyone watched! Right from the bathing sadhus to the city dwellers
Advise by the ophthalmologists
Don’t watch! Not even with filters.
Don’t watch! Not even with filters.
Newspaper / TV
Newspaper / TV / Web / Flickr
In 1980, the eclipse was watched in 15 eclipse camps – it was a first in 82 years. Some interesting news items from that time:
No let up in rituals. Normally people try to ward off the harmful effects of the eclipse by putting pieces of ‘Durva’ into food items like milk, butter, ghee and drinking water.
With the repeated warnings of all the mass media still ringing in their ears, the elite class didn’t dare to have a direct look at the eclipsed sun.
‘It was simply beautiful’ said an observer in Taita hills, Kenya. ‘We had 3 minutes 50 seconds of totality’. ‘The elders say we should go inside’ said Henry Kazungu 28, a member of the rat eating Giriama tribe. ‘But I want to stay out and see it. I want to be able to say later that this great thing happened in this year and I was there’.
Some news items from the 1995 eclipse:
The council of astrologers: “The sun signifies the rulers. Thus in the region where the total solar eclipse will be visible the heads of the governments will be adversely affected.”
With barely three days left for the solar eclipse, a serious controversy among scientists and ophthalmologists has put the West Bengal government in a quandary and the people in a fix.
One publication showed a photo of an elephant at Yamuna Ghat waiting patiently for the sun to be freed from its lunar embrace so that it could have a holy dip.
Unlike in 1980, millions of people watched the event last fortnight, turning it into a mass science festival.
Schoolchildren clapped and cheered as the first total eclipse in years plunged Ghana into daytime darkness, a solar show sweeping northeast from Barzil to Mangolia.
In 2009, the clincher was a photo in one of the national dailies showing the bathing sadhus wearing solar goggles and watching the eclipse. Flickr also made a world of difference: we could see various cultures in various countries trying to watch the eclipse, and interpreting it in their own ways.
Eclipse time again. These celestial happenings are among the most watched in the world, and I like to watch them too. Some photos:
More photos below, click to enlarge:
When viewed from the Earth, the apparent size of the sun and the moon is the same. If the sun were smaller, the Bailey’s beads would not occur, and if the moon were smaller – the eclipse wouldn’t be total. Yes, I know it won’t always be like this: the moon will keep moving away from the other and in several years the apparent size will be smaller so total eclipses won’t occur. For the moment though, is it a coincidence or did Mother Nature design it like this?
Eclipse teaches us that naturally, there is no one who can reign supreme all the time. When the sun shows up, the stars & the moon are gone: defeated. There comes one day when the little moon eclipses the mighty sun. So I see a lesson there from nature.
I have also a post on the eclipse of 2008, and a collection of various eclipse photos showing both lunar and solar eclipses.
As a teenager, I used to have a video game console with a ‘gun’. On the screen you could see some ducks – flying around – and you had to shoot them down. I used to wonder how, with a normal TV – the gun was able to detect whether a duck has been shot or not.
Now I know – the computer controlling the device blanks the screen for a fraction of a second, and shows only the duck in white. On the gun there is a ‘photodiode’ – a small LED like thing that can detect light. If it senses darkness followed by white light, it means a duck has been hit.
Now the English word unjumbling service at unjumble.SeeingWithC.org is also available via Twitter. It can be accessed directly from the mobile phone using text sms messages. This is what you need to do:
Sign up on twitter if you do not already have an account.
If you want to use mobile phone, your number should be linked to it.
Send message “follow dwealth” (without quotes) to follow dwealth.
Send message “follow t411” (without quotes) to follow t411 which is the parent bot in use.
That’s it, for the setup (configuration)!
When you want to unjumble a word, send a message d t411 unj word where word is the word to be unjumbled to twitter. For example if you SMS
d t411 unj heepntla
you will get a response message containing the word “elephant”.
Please use this, and post comments. Also let me know what will make this more useful.
Being the fan of Stephen Hawking that I am, it’s quite surprising that I have not devoted even a single blogpost to his works. Let me do that today, with the adding of a new category to this blog: Science & Technology.
One of the most interesting of his thoughts is about the arrow of time. We take ‘time’ for granted as a fixed entity universal for everyone. However, as Theory of Relativity tells us: time is personal. Everyone carries his own clock, and they may not necessarily agree. Now, the problem is, how do we define time? I will let the master speak in his own words:
The increase of disorder or entropy with time is one example of what is called an arrow of time, something that distinguishes the past from the future, giving a direction to time. There are at least three different arrows of time. First, there is the thermodynamic arrow of time, the direction of time in which disorder or entropy increases. Then, there is the psychological arrow of time. This is the direction in which we feel time passes, the direction in which we remember the past but not the future. Finally, there is the cosmological arrow of time. This is the direction of time in which the universe is expanding rather than contracting.
He goes on to explain why all three arrows point in the same direction, and why its impossible for intelligent beings such as us to exist in conditions where the three arrows do not point in the same direction.