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Posts Tagged ‘research’

I have a problem. I get distracted easily. Very easily. And my attention span is becoming shorter than that of a goldfish. Speaking of goldfish, it seems it isn’t true that their memory lasts only five seconds – ask wikipedia. Speaking of wikipedia, it’s amazing how they run that website without advertisements, and how something free could have so much of reliable content. Speaking of content, if only their contribution system was more user-friendly and didn’t look like a geeky computer programming page, I would have also contributed. But yeah, I shouldn’t talk about giving reasons – I’m just lazy. And now I’m wondering how my line of thought is drifting so fast! Much like how Sheldon Cooper explains his train of thoughts. And then how he dreams of trains in the episode “The Herb Garden Germination” (The Big Bang Theory s04e20):

Sheldon: I’ve been thinking about Dr. Green’s efforts to make science palatable for the masses.
Leonard: What about it?
Sheldon: Nothing. I’ve just been thinking about it. Now I’m thinking about fractal equations. Now I’m thinking about the origins of the phrase ‘train of thought’. Now I’m thinking about trains.
Sheldon: Now I’m thinking about Jello. . . . Oh! Back to trains. Whoo whooooo!

So you see my point? I get distracted quite easily. In fact, I drift away while talking, which would be much seconded by my dear friends. I do, however, in most cases, come back to where I broke off. So why this article: distraction is probably what keeps my mind running! So here’s a nicer example of what pushed me into facebook in the middle of a working Friday. Okay, don’t laugh at me saying who works on a Friday in France – I’ve had my bad experiences, but here’s what happened this Friday:

It all started when a friend of mine asked me if I had access to a scientific article. This one, to be precise:

Image

Well, we didn’t have access. So I thought I’d ask some friends of mine who might perhaps. My trusted Trio – well, the three people I keep bothering every second day with some favour or another – one from a cold Sweden, and a couple of Etas-Uni-ers. And they didn’t either. I could have closed the story then, but never give up, right? So I looked at the article again, and noticed that the authors are from Cornell. Wondering whether the University might have subscription, I went into facebook to look for any friends I might have at the Unviersity – none presently there. But then I thought while I’m at it, I might as well see what’s happening on facebook. And then stumbled upon this picture on facebook:

Icky nonsenseYes, it’s one of those pictures that you cannot un-see once you’ve seen. And my friend is good at making sure he hits as many people as possible with such atrocities. And to add to the distraction, I had to see a comment about how that resembles someone who’s eaten too much of noodles. So that got me reminded of the movie se7en – and the first crime in it – murder for the sin of gluttony. And then a few more videos on the movie, how Kevin Spacey surrenders, and gets shot by Pitt, and a couple of other youtube videos on Spacey – and then I remembered electrophoresis. Got back. Ah work, if only you would accommodate all this loss of focus!

P.S.: This blog post took over an hour to type – it included a skype talk in the middle, some motivation from friend to complete a blog post saying that it isn’t energy consuming, and 30-40 mins of wikipedia, google, and wikipedia on google. I think it’s time I call it a night. Before it hits morning. Sigh!

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Presenting yet another smart arse trying to flaunt his knowledge about the ongoing epidemic/pandemic/stuck-in-between – like the amount of panic it put forward wasn’t enough already. And if in case you’re intrigued by the title, they’re golden words showered upon the South Indian film industry by comedian Vadivelu. In fact, he puts them in manadhai thirudi vittai (name of the movie, translates to “you stole my heart”) in the form of a song.

A drop of tear shedding from the corner of my eye. Priceless.

Nice overture to a post, isn’t it? Nikhil might beg to differ. But hey, we all have our own tastes. So coming back to the swine flu outbreak. I’m not going to write about what the thing is about – if you’re internet savvy enough to bother finding my blog and reading it, you’d know to look it up wikipedia, or look at recent news results on google. On the one hand, it is good that the internet provides you with any information required – it helps you be prepared should you face the disease. On the other, it does a mighty good job in creating mass hysteria.

Like the millions of others who cheaply use wikipedia and don’t contribute, I looked up the swine flu outbreak up the website. To begin with, WHO calls it as a phase 5 alert, which indicates that a pandemic is “imminent.” To worsen things, they’ve found the existing antiviral drugs ineffective. Tamiflu and relenza are the best bets for now, and it seems that the vaccine is months away. And the real icing on the cake is this: a live map showing where people are being infected and in numbers. Any person with a little anxiety disorder would go nuts if he gets his eyes on that. On the lighter side of things, people in the US seem to want to find a new name for the disease. No no, it’s not numerology – they want to decrease panic and increase pork sales it seems.

Casting a more optimistic glance on the whole issue, it does feel good that people & governments are becoming aware sooner this time. India for sure has started taking preventive measures, faster than their usual timing. Let us keep our fingers crossed, hoping we wouldn’t have to lose many lives over this.

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This post has long been pending. Something or the other kept coming up, not allowing me to pen.. I mean type this post. Research has always fascinated me (I know, that’s derived from the cliché that goes science has always fascinated me – I mean, whom hasn’t it fascinated?!). It was in the past 4-6 months that I decided that I’m going to carry out meaningful (yes, I specifically choose this word) research for the rest of my life. It’s good to carry out research – even if it is of little significance. It feels good to know that what you did is of some use.

Or so I’ve been thinking. Until I met another class of researchers. A study has concluded that women with smaller chins are more likely to remain faithful than women with large chins. Who cares a rat’s arse if they do?! And I quote this from this article, rather a barb that I read in the Times of India. Now I feel that this study would make the matrimonial columns in The Hindu go “Bride wanted: fair, around 165cm height, well educated, homely, small chin, preferably without a chin at all…”

And of course, there’s the Ig Nobel prize, a wonderful mockery of the Nobel prize. I’m a fan of them, and Shashank wrote about them too. I mean, I’m sure no one knew that heaps of string or hair will inevitably tangle until Dorian Raymer and Douglas Smith proved it. Then there’s this guy who found out that armadillos could mix up the contents of an archeological site. And to top it all off, Kuo Cheng Hsieh patented a technique to catch burglars in a bank. Guess how? By springing a net over them! And this is just a glimpse of the winners – you’d be stunned at the amount of pointless research that’s going on worldwide.

The amount of money that’s being poured into these things is terrible. It would be wiser of them to use their money and minds in better things. Now moving on to the brighter side of things – there is a lot of good things happening in science thanks to advancements in technology. Now that I’m stepping into research, I’ve been doing a lot of background reading related to my work, which inevitably leads me to online databases that contain scientific journals. And I realized that there’s a lot you could do when you read throgh a paper from ScienceDirect – you can save your history of papers browsed, and even subscribe to email notifications on anyone who cites that work later on! Call me geeky/nerdy, but I find this pretty cool – especially for people working in that field.

Then there’s 2collab that lets you save your favourite papers, and discuss your work with other geeks online – it’s still at its infancy, but makes a lot of things possible! And then I attended a webinar yesterday. It’s a seminar being telecasted live online – it’s good to realize that video conferencing is being used for something other than pornography.

There is however one thing that’s weird about obtaining access to online publications. There was this particular publication that I was looking for, and so I googled it. The first result took me here, which required me to pay USD44 if I needed access to the publication. The second result was this, which let me download the full text free of cost. Access to scientific material ought to be made free of cost – for if you put a price on knowledge, it might become too expensive to share.

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