Sunday, December 15, 2013

Strengthening Democracy

The results of the assembly polls held in December, 2013, in four states are as follows:

Total Seats/
Seats Obtained
Majority Seats Required/
Vote Share Obtained
Madhya Pradesh230116

Two observations:

[1] No party has obtained 51% of the vote share in any state.
[2] In Delhi, no party can form an effective government, given that it is difficult for BJP, AAP, and Cong to form a coalition government [going by statements made as this was written].

It is ideal and desirable that the ruling party has 51% of the vote share in a state and a hung assembly is made impossible.

Two amendments in the law are required to ensure this:

[1] The number of total seats in a state should be an odd number.
[2] If any single party does not have 51% of the vote share and 51% of the seats, then retaining the seats obtained by the top two ranking parties, the rest should be declared vacant, and a re-election should be conducted in respect of those seats, closing nomination for all except the top two parties.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Venus, Australia, Moon and Earth

An article titled "Did Venus Give Earth the Moon? Wild New Theory on Lunar History" has been published recently at  Earth's moon is suggested to be a present from Venus.

My thoughts on the theory.

By some ancient accounts, the Moon was positioned between Rohini and Revathy constellations.  It was always 'full moon', bright and shining, probably a planet whose orbit was between Earth and Venus.

About 40,000 years ago, massive volcanoes must have erupt on Venus in the Ishtar Terra region, blowing a mass the size of Australia into space. Let us call this mass as 'Australia' - it impacts Moon driving it closer to Earth, as a result of which the Moon is captured by Earth's gravity.

'Australia' also orbits around Earth for some time and then crashes into Earth, east of Japan around the equator. 'Australia' settles down as Australia covering Earth with dust and debris for at least 1000 years.

Entry impact from north ...
skids and settles down

This catastrophic chain of events is very well recorded in Indian puranas and texts.

The Shiva Purana portion dealing with Daksha Yagam narrates how the Moon was wedded to Revathy and Rohini, and then later 'cursed' to spend equal time with other wives, the 28 constellations, and also to wax and wane as a punishment. For a brief spell, Moon turned completely dark and later settled down in its present orbit around the Sun, along with Earth.

'Australia', orbiting Earth, is probably described as 'Tripura' – the third.

It may also be the 'Kurma' - the boar shaped one that emerged anew on the face of Earth after the great deluge.

The debris from Venus impacted several parts of Earth. The bits which fell in India are sanctified and preserved intact as 'Shakthi Peetams' till date.

Venus is recorded to have a 'beard' or 'horn' that is not observable today. The Venusian horn must have made its way to Earth – as a gift to admirers here, knocking Moon into its present orbit on its way!

[1] has images of Ishtar Terra and details of volcanic activity on Venus. Ishtar Terra appears quite flat and resembles Australia.

[2] “Why are Things the way they are”, G. Venkataraman, 'Height of Mountains' pp. 62-67

[5] The Chronicle of Mangadu Temples, Dr. P.S. Somasundaram


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bay of Bengal - A pristine water resource

Ian Morris, in “Why the West Rules – For Now” predicts that South India is likely to face serious water shortages by 2025. It is not too wrong to say the shortage has already arrived in 2013 itself – starting with Tamil Nadu. Three suggestions to improve availability of potable water in India.

View of Bay of Bengal from Chennai

[1] Make Bay of Bengal a fresh water storage body:

The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world. This bay occupies an area of 2,172,000 KM². A number of large rivers – the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari, Mahanadi, Krishna and Kaveri flow into the Bay of Bengal. It is estimated that the annual run from the rivers into the bay is about 8,000 KM3. The average depth of the bay is 2.5 KM. Then, the total volume of water is around 2172000 x 2.5 = 5,430,000 KM3. If there is no salt water incursion into the bay, it would be the largest fresh water bay in the world as well.

A few studies have revealed that a saline 'pump' near Sri Lanka adds saltiness to the water by circulating waters from the Arabian Sea into the bay. If the 'pump' is managed, then in due course, the bay will turn into a natural fresh water resource.

As such, the salinity peaks 50m below the surface. Even if 10m of the fresh water floating on the bay surface is utilizable, 217200 KM3 of fresh water would be available. It is the fresh water floating on the bay that promotes the monsoons. Salinity in the bay should be carefully measured and monitored to convert the bay into a pristine water resource.

[2] Pipe river water from North to South:

Since there is very sizable runoff into the bay, it would do no harm to distribute water from the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Godavari, Mahanadi and Krishna to the South. I doubt it is practical to “network” and “link” the rivers in any fashion. The only practical approach may be to carry water in closed pipe lines like the Veeranam line supplying 180 million litres of water daily to Chennai. The pumping lines could be laid parallel to railway tracks for easy construction, networking and maintenance.

Chennai Metrowater sells per load of 10M3 of water at Rs. 670/- A load of divine Ganges water drawn straight from Haridwar might fetch premium prices in the south.

[3] Prevent Pollution:

This is easier said than done.  Pollutants are often let into water bodies, as there is no other drain into which it could be let into. An extensive drainage system should be built so that the pollutants can be streamed into it, processed and recycled. The drainage stream ought not to be allowed to run into rivers, canals, bay or the oceans.

The shortest river that empties into the bay, is River Cooum – about 64 KM long with its estuary near the Chennai harbour.  Until 1960s, this was a fresh water river. This river is now virtually used as a drain. No river should be used to drain wastes. The real test to check if pollution control measures are working correctly is to find potable water in the Cooum.


[1] 'Why the West Rules – For Now', Ian Morris
[7] In re Networking of Rivers,

Friday, June 01, 2012

Celebrating 125 years of Nikola Tesla's Electro Magnetic Motor and Alternating Current System

On May 1, 1888, Nikola Tesla Patented his following inventions:
In the SPECIFICATION forming part of Letters Patent No. 382,280, dated May 1, 1888, on the file of the United States Patent Office, Nikola Tesla claimed as follows:
“What I claim is- The method herein described of electrically transmitting power, which consists in producing a continuously progressive shifting of the polarities of either or both elements (the armature or field magnet or magnets) of a motor by developing alternating currents in independent circuits, including magnetizing coils of either or both elements, as herein set forth.”
The birth of the commutator free electromagnetic induction motor and the alternating current system born conjoint with it, from the fertile mind of Tesla, 124 years ago, deserves grand commemoration on its Quasquicentennial falling on May 1, 2013. Though Tesla's inventions have enriched human life on a grand scale, we have not given him the honour and remembrance he deserves. This should be amended for the sake of Nikola Tesla who spent every hour of his magnificent life improving living conditions of mankind by his new and improved inventions shaped by sharp observation and deep analysis honed by his desire to offer only clean solutions all the time.
Through his patents, Tesla talks to us directly even today. The specifications for his inventions make delightful reading and the figures that accompany are works of art. We can easily imagine what he envisioned and the collection of Tesla patents on the file of the United States Patent Office is probably the most outstanding gift to mankind from a single individual in history. The inventions highlight the importance of making practical use of knowledge gained and the flow of the patents stress the need to refine and improve to the point of elegance beyond which no man can improve.
The innovations sparked by Tesla are numerous and the general direction went thus:
No. 390,413 SYSTEM OF ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION Patented Oct. 2, 1888
No. 396,121 THERMO MAGNETIC MOTOR Patented Jan. 15, 1889
No. 405,858 ELECTRO MAGNETIC MOTOR Patented June 25, 1889
No. 416,191 ELECTRO MAGNETIC MOTOR Patented Dec. 3, 1889
No. 416,194 ELECTRIC MOTOR Patented Dec. 3, 1889
No. 416,195 ELECTRO MAGNETIC MOTOR Patented Dec. 3, 1889
In Patent No. 416,195, Tesla introduced poly phase current system thus:
“What I claim is - 1. In an alternating-current motor, the combination, with an armature wound with closed coils, of main and supplemental field magnets or poles, one set of which is adapted to exhibit their maximum magnetic effect simultaneously with that set up in the armature by the action of the other, as set forth. 2. In an electro-magnetic motor, the combination, with an armature, of a plurality of field or energizing coils included, respectively, in main circuits adapted to produce a given difference of phase and supplemental or secondary circuits adapted to produce an intermediate difference of phase, as set forth.”
More refinements, measuring tools and gadgets followed:
No. 455,068 ELECTRICAL METER Patented June 30, 1891
No. 511,559 ELECTRICAL TRANSMISSION OF POWER Patented Dec. 26, 1893
No. 512,340 COIL FOR ELECTRO MAGNETS Patented Jan. 9, 1894
No. 514,167 ELECTRICAL CONDUCTOR Patented Feb 6, 1894
The last one, wireless transmission of energy, is yet to be realized on a grand scale, but would be the ultimate goal for mankind.
The patents have a straightforward pattern: a problem is stated and the solution found is described including scientific explanations of why and how the invention works. Tesla had clean habits and this cleanliness pervaded his work. Clean engineering is the hallmark of Tesla evident from his electro-magnetic motor designs and the alternating current systems. Every little defect is attempted to be corrected in subsequent inventions to bring about perfection. His daring spirit to build the hydroelectric power generator across the Niagara when the whole world doubted its feasibility is an example of the kind of attitude required to achieve arduous goals. The world truly misses this great scientist and engineer whose love for humanity and progress knew no bounds.
Every school and institution should make an effort to teach the life and work of Tesla to inspire and create the progressive, prosperous and peaceful world he envisioned. In India, Tesla is not taught the way it ought to be done. When I was at school, we had SUPW (short for Socially Useful Productive Work) class from 5th to 10th standard. For boys, it was Electrical Gadgets [EG], and for girls -  it was Tailoring. Of course, either could opt for the other class. Mr. Subramani, who ran an electrical gadgets store, was the part time teacher for EG. Many parents were agitated about EG and the teacher used to be extra cautious in explaining the dangers of electricity while teaching its properties and uses. The notes of every class would fit exactly one page, with just five or six points which could be remembered for life. He started the first class with the lesson on bar magnets - the points went: magnets have two poles, north and south; like poles attract, unlike poles repel, they have imaginary lines of force, and the next lesson would elaborate on the lines of force, and after a few classes there would be a project. He taught EG with so much enthusiasm and passion, making sure he did justice to his job. I would rank him one of the best teachers at school. He introduced magnets, batteries, DC, AC, copper coils, 28G wire, batteries, transformers, and a host of other electrical concepts without which I would hardly be able to appreciate Tesla. I do not remember my teacher having elaborated on 3-phase/poly-phase AC or the induction motor design which could have been easily assimilated into the EG classes. For all I know, SUPW no longer seems to be part of the CBSE curriculum and with it EG has gone too. SUPW classes should be brought back to schools. Working models of the Tesla patents should be demonstrated to students at the appropriate levels. Every school leaving child should have a working knowledge of electricity.
High level research is possible into every statement Tesla made. For example, he saw connections between earthquakes and charges passing through the earth. Every little observation is magnified and attempted to be converted into a force that could be controlled purposefully. Resonance with nature carried Tesla far into the future. Tesla patented his gainful research in his youth but as he aged, he appears to have lost faith in the system, and many findings might have died with him without disclosure. Compulsory minimum guaranteed royalties for the life time of the patent, say fixed at minimum 1.5% of the product cost, should promote the cause of inventions.
India also has special reasons to celebrate the works of Tesla, who was deeply inspired by Swami Vivekananda and Jagadis Chandra Bose. Tesla used “Akash” and other vedic sanskrit words to explain his visions. Tesla was a bridge between the earth, working with his hands and feet firmly grounded to building practical tools that worked well, and the cosmos, envisioning grand goals with his mind piercing through its every kosha - layers. The present day world needs to pay an appropriate tribute to this genius and the best that can be bestowed is by working just as hard and wise as Tesla.
One of Tesla's unpublished addresses which he himself quoted in a letter to the editor of New York Times, April 19, 1908, was as follows:
According to an adopted theory, every ponderable atom is differentiated from a tenuous fluid, filling all space merely by spinning motion, as a whirl of water in a calm lake. By being set in movement this fluid, the ether, becomes gross matter. Its movement arrested, the primary substance reverts to its normal state. It appears, then, possible for man through harnessed energy of the medium and suitable agencies for starting and stopping ether whirls to cause matter to form and disappear. At his command, almost without effort on his part, old worlds would vanish and new ones would spring into being. He could alter the size of this planet, control its seasons, adjust its distance from the sun, guide it on its eternal journey along any path he might choose, through the depths of the universe. He could make planets collide and produce his suns and stars, his heat and light; he could originate life in all its infinite forms. To cause at will the birth and death of matter would be man's grandest deed, which would give him the mastery of physical creation, make him fulfill his ultimate destiny.
To ignore Tesla is to invite peril. Due appreciation will help mankind flourish.
Tesla resources:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Pie Maths Galaxy ...

I came across "Galaxy of Mathematicians", Volume-1, published by the Pie Mathematics Association, Chennai. The book gives the brief life histories of Euclid, Archimedes, Pythagoras, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Leibniz, Fermat, Gauss, Euler and Erdos along some of their important works. The life of Leibniz speaks of the 'Calculus Wars', his study of binary numbers, arrays/matrices leading to 'stepped reckoner (calculator)',and why he deserves the title, "Father of Applied Sciences". This is a good introduction to the original works of the authors mentioned.

The back cover text on the book says the publisher association is for removing mathphobia. Surely we need more such groups to grow and nurture mathematics!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Richard M Stallman: Code Guru Mahatma

The Mahatma was always part of life and the CD below, produced by Dr. Natesan of Krea was of great interest when it was released in the 1990s:

Walnut Creek CDROM published it. I first came to know of 'Linux' from the title card of this CD:

The CD on the Mahatma provided the first step in connecting to another rare modern Mahatma, Richard M Stallman, better known as 'RMS'. I would know about RMS and his work much later, but this was the start. The 'Gandhi' CDROM title card advertised 'Linux Slackware 96' as "Internet's favourite. Full PC UNIX", that left me curious about this UNIX for the PC.

The Internet was not ubiquitous a decade ago and CDROM was the main source for obtaining software. The first book I could lay my hands on the subject was Sam's "Learn Linux in 24 Hours". A free CD came with it:
The CD simply did not work. The book was interesting though. I very much wanted to see what the running 'Linux' OS screen looked like. The first opportunity to do that came at the Bangalore IT.COM fair, in 2000:

There was this large pavilion full of software systems, people, distros, shops and events - all busy at the same time. There was even a cluster running at a corner from a dozen mini-frames. Some stressed they were free and open. At the GT enterprises stall I got myself a couple of distros to try at home:

The pavilion filled my hands with pamphlets like this:

I tried installing Mandrake Linux and the screen came alive with the installation instructions. I never quite finished installing as there was some problem at the final step - I think I did not have a supported graphics card. I decided to shop for more distros, until I had a working system. After some time I visited Bangalore again, and had these options:

I decided I would give the SuSE 7.0 Professional edition a try. I carefully got a graphics card that was supported this time. YaST did a fine job installing the operating system, x server, applications and all - in about three hours time! I finally had a free operating system!

With free software, so many options and tools were available, and I spent most of my free time trying them out. Finally, after a month or so, I settled for the Apache Web Server with PHP for web scripting and PostgreSQL for data storage. The StarOffice package fulfilled all my word processing needs. There was a lot of excitement with graphics tools like GIMP and the load of games that came. It was initially tedious to work on the console most of the time but after getting a hang of it, it was clearly the way to do things. Man[ual] pages of many commands declared:
This is free software: you are free  to  change  and  redistribute  it.
There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

Author names like Paul Rubin, David MacKenzie, Richard Stallman, and Jim Meyaering came up on the console window. The SuSE 7.0 Handbook included a copy of the GNU General Public License in Appendix F:

The SuSE 7.0 box included this Oracle phamplet:

Oracle has done a lot for the free software movement in the past decade showing deep interest in Java, MySQL, OpenOffice etc. I also tried other distros that came my way. Charles Fisher wrote "Red Hat Linux 6.0 Administration Tools" and the book came with 2 CDs:
The book taught many installation procedures in a straight forward way.
Meanwhile, I had registered the 'Gandhi' CD with Walnut Creek CDROM, and they sent me their catalog:

I tried FreeBSD too, but the availability of applications on BSD was restricted by your ability to install and configure it correctly. I gave up even trying it after a while.

The Linux For You magazine was launched sometime in 2002 or so, and I came to know of ilugc from its lug listing and subscribed to the ilugc mailing list. I mostly lurked there, and sometime asked questions - and often got responses that helped a lot. I came to know of the fsf-friends mailing list through ilugc and joined there. RMS used to post occasionally to the fsf-friends mailing list, and soon I got involved in fsf-india activities. There was always one freedom issue or the other that was interesting. Communicating with RMS over email is one of the intellectual pleasures life had to offer, and to say the least, it was very useful and productive. I wrote to him about a JavaScript code I wrote, to calculate fair rent in accordance with the local rules here, as an example of the kind of coding I was doing to port law to computers. He was kind in replying as follows:

If this includes implementation of human-style common-sense
reasoning, you may have tackled a problem that the Artificial
Intelligence field has been struggling with for 35 years.

AI was the last on my mind then and it encouraged me to study about the struggle there. Soon, it took me to Lisp, AI by Winston, and the problem remained on my back-burner. The greatest advantage I derived from communicating with RMS was this innocuous line on AI that got me hooked to programming like never before. Incidentally, ancient Indian philosophical works started to appear very modern and relevant from the AI angle.

RMS had planned to come down to Chennai in Feb, 2005. It was my pleasure to plan some of the events for him here - mainly, the talk on 'Software Patents' here in Chennai. Bharati, AB, myself and other friends received RMS at the Chennai Airport. The flight was delayed by half an hour, and that gave Bharati and myself, time to go up to Pammal to get a couple of garlands for the code guru. We were delighted to meet him in person - he enjoyed the fragrance of the champangi garland! After the perfunctory introductions, RMS quickly got to opening his laptop and started working.

The first thing I noticed was his mastery over the keyboard. His hands just played over the laptop - I have never seen anyone else so proficient on the keyboard. The control, alt, function and every single key is naturally used so well in emacs. No time is wasted while coding. RMS is known for being the original author of the great 2Gs in the software spectrum: GCC and GPL. The road from Chennai to Vellore was under construction, and the journey was naturally tedious. It was not easy to stop by the road side for a tea break. RMS took all these little discomforts in his stride and stayed focused on work at hand punctuated by mail transfers. He spoke on software freedom at VIT and did his 'St. Ignucious-I bless your computer, my child' bit at the end of the the speech. He also played his recorder (pocket sized flute like pipe) both at VIT during dinner and at MIT after his short talk. RMS spoke on the dangers of 'Software Patents' at the IIT-M. The auditoriums were packed with students everywhere he went! A few pics from the events at VIT, IIT and MIT:

At the OLT, IIT-M:

At MIT, Chrompet:

He would have liked to listen to a carnatic recital that Chennai is so famous for - I hope that is part of the program the next time he visits Chennai. As he left, he gave me a firm hand shake and wished "Happy hacking".

In the Indian context, it is useful to distinguish between free and non-free systems:

Non-free Software Adharma:
● Non-free software system is
– unethical
– anti-social
– simply wrong
● Works by keeping users divided
● A co-operating community is forbidden
● Users are not allowed to change or share the software they use

Free Software Dharma
● Freedom to use the program for any purpose
● Freedom to study and modify its source code
● Freedom to redistribute copies to others
● Freedom to distribute modified versions to others

"Dharma" has no exact equivalent word in English (say, "Aram" அறம் in Tamil). It encompasses virtue , morality, good works according to right or rule, rightly, justly, according to the nature of anything. Adharma is unrighteousness, injustice, wickedness. Mahatma Gandhi said, "When adharma spreads, some men undertake tapascharya (penance) and through their tapascharya, generate dharma in the world". Free Software is a response to the non-free software adharma, and it very naturally explains work of the free software community to others. The free software movement has been led by the code guru very successfully and the burning desire for freedom inheres code development.

Over the past decade, free software systems have grown phenomenally from strength to strength. After the new version of the GPL came in 2007, I lost interest in fsf activities. The future programs are more likely to lie centered around stack based ones like forth in the public domain. Postscript and its derivatives like PDF are living proof for that. Given the massive parallel GPUs and CPUs rapidly moving towards exascale machines capable of 1018 calculations per second, it is very likely that simple stack based applications get priority because they are small, fast, secure, open and free. Maybe they would be hard too but other programs and tools should make the task of maintaining them easy.

The road to freedom is a hard one. I had the opportunity to travel along with RMS - the code guru mahatma - on the road to freedom for a short while, and I hope it would lead to solving the AI problem and end the long struggle.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Law and Science Choreography

Dr. C.V. Raman's lecture on 'Why the sky is blue' delivered at Community Science Centre in Amhedabad, in December 1968, is documented by Chandralekha, the dancer, so beautifully, along with the black and white pictures of the scientist by Dashrath Patel. 1 She heard the Nobel laureate declare: "The best way to answer a question is to ask another... One thing leads to another. That is the essence of science. You must go where it leads you."2 The choreographer took the message to heart. The book informs that Chandralekha, who made those notes, studied law in Mumbai, before moving to dance in Chennai. Even a mere still from her dances could enthrall and liberate - the inspiring book, meant for the young, is probably her best work! There could be no doubt that Raman's talk infused new blood into choreography that she pursued with the passion of a scientist. 3

The man who gave Raman the opportunity to make science a full-time career was Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee - who was a lawyer and then became a judge of the Calcutta High Court. The other scientists promoted by the learned judge include Satyendranath Bose and Saha. All this was possible because of the judge's keen interest in science and mathematics. Dr. G. Venkatraman credits the judge with contributing to science by encouraging at a crucial juncture, three of the best physicists the country had produced then: Bose, Saha and Raman.4

Bhagaban Chandur Bose, was Deputy Magistrate of Faridpur and in charge of the law and order in several villages. His son, SC Bose, the most illustrious scientist India has ever seen, grew up drawing endless inspiration from his father. The basic qualities shine as a scientist were imbibed from his father who kept his curiosities alive and well nourished.
'I saw so-and-so to-day : why was that ?'-was a standard type of question, and always patiently answered when possible; yet often-perhaps most important and educative of all for the future investigator-with a candid confession of ignorance, and never any of the evasion, or pretence of knowledge beyond a child's, which is so common a discouragement to children from parents less frank and wise. 'I don't know, my son : we cannot tell; we know so little about nature!' was thus a frequent reply : but instead of lowering the child's respect, as foolish parents and teachers fear, this only aroused further wonder, and kept curiosity and observation alive. In such ways it is that the questioning child later becomes the scientific man : and what scientific man worth the name in history is more than such a child of larger growth? The 'advancement of Science' is no such easy matters as founders of its schools and departments suppose. It requires a corresponding supply of men of science; these again are not the mere products of specialist training. Scientific training can only be of real service to the few survivors amidst the too common home and family indifference to knowledge. That is only advanced by those who, when children, were encouraged to observe and question, and were not silenced and dulled for life, like their elders before them, with 'Don't ask silly questions!' or evaded with 'I have no time!'5

The choreography between law and science should be fostered more than ever before now.

1 Chandralekha and Dashrath Patel, "Why the sky is blue: Dr. C.V. Raman talks about science", Tulika, December, 1968.
2 ibid.
3 Chandralekha quotes Dr. C.V. Raman, word for word from her notes in this UK TV interview at The Guardian (at noted that "Chandralekha became a crusader for equality, human rights, women's rights, secularism, pluralism and the environment", and as this was through her dances, she took choreography to new levels.
4 Dr. G. Venkatraman, "Bose and his statistics", 1992, Sangam Books.
5 Patrick Geddes, "The Life and Work of Sir Jagadis C. Bose", available online at