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Archive for February, 2009

The army of Pakistan has  struck a deal with the Taliban which effectively concedes the law of the land in the large region bordering Afghanistan . Now, one can see this as a local problem. But perhaps this is a much larger problem of fundamentalist winning against basic human rights such as education.

Swat Valley in Pakistan

I find it really moving to read the diary of a seventh grade school girl in Pakistan in the district of Swat after Taliban decreed to ban girls’ education. Now the Pakistan government has conceded to the Taliban to impose Sharia law in exchange for a cease fire. While cease fires have been made in the past, but never has Pakistan conceded to the Taliban the law of the land.

I am not in a position to really understand whether this is a singular problem or a problem that would have much wider ramification. However, it is pretty clear that Pakistan is in a precarious situation and it is appaling to see the basic rights of people, and especially women,  just taken away from them.

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Tonight San Francisco Symphony is presenting, Carnival Overture by Dvorak and A Song of Orpheus for Cello and Orchestra and Schumann.

Here is a preview by Boston Symphony Orchestra of the Carnival Overture.

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Blu Amnesia

Just found this song in the internet.

Its amazing how a different sound can be so pleasing to the senses.

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Bearded like rapustin

I dont have time to bore with every minutia of my positively lazy day today. I will have to finish some work in an hour.  Also, in a month I will have beard as long as Rapustin unless I intervene today!

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Newton versus Darwin

Science and Society had a post on Darwin which I more or less agree with. However, I just want to make some distinction between Darwin and Newton’s work.

The most significant distinction is the scientific objective of Newton versus that of Darwin. Newton would not be content with anything less than the full unification of the cosmos. In this pursuit he discovered the laws of inertia and showed us that the universal laws that makes the apple fall also keeps the planets in their orbits.

Darwin in Westminister

Darwin on the other hand was interested in phenomenas.For instance,  he was initially interested in geology and beetles. More shockingly, he went to Cambridge to become a priest. All this doesn’t make his contribution any less important but his goals were more local.  Also, Newton preceded Darwin by nearly 160 years.

Newton's grave in Westminister Abbery

I feel that we don’t nearly appreciate Newton’s work enough, although there is no doubt that he is the most precocious (or an overly used term “greatest”) scientist by a good margin in the history of any intellectual endeavors. While Darwin is perhaps more influential than Newton (simply because everybody has an opinion about natural selection or “evolution”) Newton’s work is far more revolutionary than Darwin’s work. I am convinced that if it  not for Darwin, somebody else would have observed natural selection.

Darwin has in many respect  emancipated us from believing in miracles as he provided a robust explanation for the diversity of species. However, its unimaginable to me how one man could have discovered  laws of inertia and theory of gravitation and also have the ingeniousness to develop whole new mathematics to study such non trivial problems. I think we can safely excuse Newton for his paranoia and combativeness or alchemy and the belief of god.

On the other hand, arguments made by  people like Christopher Hitchins irritates me quite a bit. Christopher Hitchins is in the business of writing books to extrapolate  his deep prejudice rather than objectivity. Hitchens makes a naive case against Newton that as he is a Christian so is a lesser scientist than Einstein or Weinberg.  I am constantly puzzled by combatants and their lack of objectivity in this sociological battle.

Now just like for anything else in life context does matter and Newton being a Christian or an alchemist has never deterred good scientists with sufficient intellect from studying his monumental work.  The work of science stands on its own merit regardless of the faith of the discoverer. And although superficially this may seem like a contradiction, the evidence is overwhelmingly in my side.

I am puzzled and sometimes bit irritated when arguments are used against Newton which undermines the enormity as well as the monumental consequence of Newton’s work.

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Fire Escapes

Nice artice in the New York times about the fire escapes, via 3quarksdaily.

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I am listening to Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky. Its based on a story by Akexander Pushkin. This is perhaps Tchaikovskys most famous opera and it is more of a lyric opera.  The libretto in the opera is close  to Pushkin’s story.Its somewhat of a tragic story with an opera centered around charater which rejects  a young country woman’s(Tatyana) love. 

http://operainfo.org/broadcast/operaMain.cgi?id=44&language=1

I am captivated.

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