National Geographic Photo of the Day

Friday, March 27, 2009

.net Democracy

With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner here in India, it looks like parties are taking to advertising online for the first time. Google Ads on several pages showed the iPhone toting Mr. L. K. Advani, (an iPhone.... of all things) against the background of an Indian flag. Of course, the Indian flag was dropped from the background after a few petitions threatened to derail the ad. Youtube is full of campaign videos, and politicians are blogging like there's no tomorrow. (Advani's blog's at If you're not too much of a BJP supporter, then there's the Congress party's website at .

Those in the mood for some funny stuff can check out a blog devoted to Lalu Prasad Yadav at Lalu Leela. Others like Rahul Gandhi, Omar Abdullah and Mallika Sarabhai are active users of Facebook and other social networking sites. The reach of the internet is widespread with net-access ever increasing and the younger generation (a prime target because they're first time voters) keeping in touch with everything via the world wide web and SMS. All this after political parties have seen the power that the Internet brings with it...... particularly in the recent US Presidential elections.

It's not just political propaganda that has gone online though. You've all seen the familiar Jaago Re ad on television. Well, the campaign is aimed at getting more people to register their names onto voting lists and vote on election day. You can register on the Jaago Re website and it'll help you through the process of voter registration. Once you've done that they'll even send you regular updates on SMS about your voter status.

So for all those complaining about how difficult it is to get your name on the lists, get your of your comfy homes and go get your name registered - no excuses this time around.

Another great service is VoteIndia where you can register and choose your location on a map to identify your constituency. Once you've done that, they'll e-mail you information about your local candidates - the political candidates’ qualifications, work, track record and criminal background, everything. Check this site out. Really useful one.

American President Barrack Obama (Blackberry Obama) has taken it a step further when it comes to technology though. He won the right to retain his Blackberry and became the first sitting President to use e-mail on his personal mobile device. The White House website recently had an "Open for Questions" session, where Americans of all walks of life could post questions and have them answered by the President in a virtual town hall (an online video feed). I've put the video here below this post by the way. I wonder whether our next Prime Minister will be doing any online debates or Q&A sessions. ;-) What with Mr. Advani challenging PM Manmohan Singh to a showdown on national television. Things sure are heating up!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Liquid Magnets (yes there's a video too)

No doubt we've all had our fair share of fun with solid magnets while we were little kids. But liquid magnets open up a whole new realm of fun ( the first thought that comes to mind is "Mercury Man" from Terminator 2)....

Ferrofluids are made up of particles of hematite, magnetite or other iron-containing compound with diameter less than 10 nanometers. These particles are suspended in an organic solvent or water or oil. A surfactant like oleic acid is added to prevent the particles from clumping together. These fluids respond to magnetic fields. They have a very high magnetic susceptibility and display superparamagnetism - its like paramagnetic behaviour on a bulk scale.

Under the influence of a magnetic field they tend to follow the lines of force and they'll stand up in spiny projections. Now these fluids have applications ranging from ultra-high end sportcar suspensions, and stealth aircraft to hard disks, speakers and cancer detection in medicine.

Most of us would rather be content with knowing the "cooler" aspects of this material. Below is a mesmerizing video of Ferrofluid in action with a magnetic field - its a piece of art that someone has created. I'm sure you'll enjoy it even if you aren't of a scientific bent of mind. :)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hilarious Events - Recent ones as (well as a few funnier ones past)

I have this habit of checking the BBC's pages and those of several other news agencies each day. And I do find certain VERY amusing stuff on them.

Remember the actual fun is within the article, especially the comments that the reporters get from people on the scene or those involved. So read it through. I've included the summary from each page here, but please click on the links and take a look at the news pages.

Here's a few that might interest you:

Clarkson said: "He [Rudd] genuinely looked terrified. The poor man, he's actually seen the books.

"In England we have this one-eyed Scottish idiot... he keeps telling us

everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us."

US sports fans in Arizona got a surprise when their TV coverage of American football's Super Bowl was interrupted by a pornographic film.

"I just figured it was another commercial until I looked up," viewer Cora Ki

ng told the Arizona Daily Star.

"Then he did his little dance with everything hanging out."

No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in ..... I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding."

CCTV has captured the moment when two handcuffed prisoners' attempt to escape custody came to a crashing end as they ran into a lamppost.

It's an embarrassing ailment which has apparently dogged musicians for decades - but, after 34 years, 'cello scrotum' has been revealed as a hoax.

“How could you have stayed eight years with a man who has such ridiculous calves?”

When officials asked for the Welsh translation of a road sign, they thought the reply was what they needed.

Unfortunately, the e-mail response to Swansea council said in Welsh: "I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated".

Cyclists between Cardiff and Penarth in 2006 were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an "inflamed bladder".

Clarkson said: "He [Rudd] genuinely looked terrified. The poor man, he's actually seen the books.

"In England we have this one-eyed Scottish idiot... he keeps telling us

everything's fine and he's saved the world and we know he's lying, but he's smooth at telling us."

As he completed a lorry-driving task, Clarkson said: "This is a hard job and I 'm not just saying that to win favour with lorry drivers, it's a hard job.

"Change gear, change gear, change gear, check mirror, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder. That's a lot of effort in a day."

A man has been caught with two pigeons stuffed in his trousers after he got off a flight from Dubai to Melbourne.

Mr Clarkson, the face of BBC Two's Top Gear, was heard to say "great shot" when hit by the pie.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Vocal Variety...... Helium and Anti-helium...

Check out this funny video (an excerpt from a Mythbusters episode).

The radical change in his voice, as he says, is because of the Helium he inhales at first. Helium is six times lighter than air. When a series of compression waves (your voice) leave the helium in your lungs and hit the denser air, the wave train is suddenly slowed down. The wave in front is slowed first while the wave behind it is still moving fast. Then the second wave is slowed while the third is still moving fast, and so on. It's like fast moving traffic on an open freeway suddenly coming to a slow point in the road, all the cars bunch up close to each other.

Your ear interprets closely bunched sound waves as a higher pitch than widely spaced waves. So when your voice originates in helium and then travels through the air to someone's ear, it
sounds higher. If both you and the listener were in a room filled with helium, your voice would get to their ears faster than normal, but there would be no pitch change.

The reverse is true in the case of his voice deepening when he inhales Sulphur Hexafluoride. Sulfur hexafluoride (abbreviated SF6 and also called Anti-Helium because its six times heavier than air) is not poisonous and can affect the sound of a person's voice if it is inhaled in small quantities (again, don't try this at home). When SF6 is inhaled, the pitch of a person's voice decreases dramatically because the speed of sound in SF6 is considerably less than it is in air.

Do not fill your lungs with any of these gases - it can lead to hypoxia and fainting. As a disclaimer, I am in no way responsible for any stupid stuff you try, or if you inhale some crap and die ;-) So, please stay safe.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

MITAFEST 2009 Photos


Here's a little slide show of the pictures from MITAFEST 2009