मंगलवार, जनवरी 19, 2010

Solar Eclipse at IIT Madras

Longest solar eclipse of the century. A lot of time to try quite a few designs. This one has eyes made of the image of the sun through the ordinary reading lens.

A child gave the name 'the kutti sun' (through leaf holes).

Eclipse could be seen throughout the campus through the pin holes of the tree leaves (known as Leaf canopy)[Ref 1]. A reading lens of 1 diopter (the first reading lens one needs at the age of 40 years) can make things pretty bright.  Among many images through leaf-canopy, two bright semi-circles are images of the sun through a reading lens.
[Ref 1: "Forest Cover as a Solar Camera: Penumbral Effects in Plant Canopies" by Margaret C. Anderson and Edward E. Miller, Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Aug., 1974), pp. 691-697

शनिवार, जनवरी 16, 2010

ए़क शहर और दूसरे के बीच सांस्कृतिक खाई

After landing at the Chennai airport, I hired a prepaid taxi (Rs. 250) for my home. Taxi was running on the road pretty soon, when suddenly the driver peeped out and said " Hello, Hellooo!, Pod podum... Pod podum solle".. I understood that he was indicating towards a two wheeler pillion rider that the SARI was hanging down. "Thank you" said a pleasant smiling lady while holding the portion of the Sari in her hand. The two wheeler went off. I became emotional as I remembered the behaviour of a taxi driver in another city about 48 hours back!

The another city I went for a meeting was without carrying much luggage. I thought I should take a running taxi without waiting in the prepaid Que. I came out and looked around. A taxi approached me and I sat inside (after agreeing with the driver on the meter) relaxing that it will take about an hour to reach my destination.

1. Within a few seconds the driver pulled out a chart " please have a look into the chart,at how much you will pay, as the meter will show about 21". I glanced through the chart, 21 was too much! It was showing some number which did not seem to be acceptable to me as I was exactly at the same place about 4 months back with MERU Taxi (city code+44224422). I understand India was changing fast, but this speed was unacceptable to a cautious mind. I immediately objected and asked the driver to stop as this was too much! he immediately changed his position and said " Oh, by mistake I have given you the NIGHT chart; the day chart is ..this." he gave me the other one, which even showed almost the same price, a bit less though. I just felt comfortable that we know each other a bit better.

During the travel, he was not comfortable with the traffic signals. He drove pretty rough. (From right to left, without following the lane discipline etc.). He made a few comments, such as " I am local (and not from UP , BIHAR)". "This city has changed a lot". "There are 10 or 20 vehicles in one house here!" "too much of Road Jams", etc. From his conversations (on his mobile phone), I could see that he had to drive about an hour or more, even though he was promising the person to be there in next half an hour (we still had to drive half hour to our destination).

2. We reached to security, where I showed my I-card. Then I entered his name (I forgot) and TAXI number MH01G23-- (last 2 numbers I forgot again) and gave the slip back to the driver as he would use it for out gate. We reached to the guest house. Without even looking into the meter, he said " it is 350 sab, I will give you 150..." I said how, show me the meter! By the way, the meter was covered with an opaque plastic, which did not allow me to see any thing during my journey from the airport to the guest house. I saw the same chart and it was about Rs 325/= I agreed that I should pay him 350/-
Even though I had the change of 350/= since he offered 150/- I handed over a 500 rupee note quickly and placed the 150 in my purse. While I was doing this he said "What is this?" He showed me a 100 rupee note in his hand, indicating as if I gave him this note! I took back the note and gave him the change I had.

It is a different thing that I immediately had suspected that there was something wrong, but was not even thinking about it as I had to check-in and it was becoming late etc.
After about 30 minutes when I called my wife and asked her if she had seen a 500 rupee note in my purse (we discussed the money before I left), she said yes!

I learned that still the old dirty tricks are popular in the city. My colleague who had arrived from Kolakata told me (another story) and why he is afraid of taking the vehicle from the road in the city!