Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tachy Psyche Effect

From wikipedia:
Tachypsychia is a neurological condition that distorts the perception of time, usually induced by physical exertion, drug use, or a traumatic event. It is sometimes referred to by martial arts instructors and self defense experts as the Tachy Psyche effect. For someone affected by tachypsychia, time perceived by the individual either lengthens, making events appear to slow down, or contracts, objects appearing as moving in a speeding blur. It is believed that tachypsychia is induced by a combination of high levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, usually during periods of great physical stress and/or in violent confrontation.

A somewhat contrasting experience is the feeling of time flying as you grow older. When we were younger, that history lecture seemed to take eternity. Every school year, the wait for summer, would seem more like 10 years. Is this because of some unknown emotional trauma we were experiencing? I dont know about you, but I was definitely not taking drugs as a kid, 
or going through any major physical stress or violent confrontations for that matter.

Does this ring a familiar bell? Ahh...Time dilation! As predicted by Lorentz transformation (warning: some math stuff) in Einstein's special relativity. When you are 5 years old an hour is a LONG time. A week is almost eternity. At 20 an hour doesn't seem as long as it used to. I'm now 26 and time is flying by. Years are clicking off the way weeks seemed to when I was 5-10..

It doesn't bode well as if you extrapolate this phenomenon out to the age of 70 then the last decade of your life will go by in what seems like a month.

I attribute this effect to the amount of time your brain has experienced. When you are 5 years old, an hour or a day is a much larger portion of the total time frame your brain has to relate to than when you're 20, 30, or 70.

at age 5, 1 year = 1/5 of your life
at age 15, 1 year = 1/15 of your life
at age 40, 1 year = 1/40 of your life
and in our heads we measure time relative to our lives.
In relation to your brain's total time reference, an hour is much more significant at age 5.

Another theory thrown around is that the human perception of Time is a subjective experience. With training, one can either speed up or slow down how fast things seem to be going. What usually happens is that the boring minutes seem to drag, and the pleasurable moments pass too quickly. Certain methods in hypnosis have been employed to switch this around, so that boring hours can seem to pass in minutes, and the good times seem to last forever.

Now that explains why my time flies when I am on a date with someone special, but it crawls to a halt when I am waiting for the next one!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Faith in Science II

A follow up article with a twist on Scientific faith citing how SETI is claimed by some as an example of how modern science also relies on blind faith. A retraction proves that SETI is not blind faith or hope (theismistic), but analogous to researching for a cure of cancer or similar quests. Coming soon.

Long S

The history and etymology of the Integration symbol in Calculus. A funny anecdote from Shakespeare about the same.

Time to Singularity

A one line definition of time and space. Some thoughts about time as perceived from an external frame of reference (or similar). Coming soon.

Harvard Comma

An article on the Harvard Comma, its usage example and a funny joke related to it. Coming soon.

Energy as Currency

Coming soon.

Writeup about how stored energy in the form of cells (?), plasmoids, or something similar could be used as world currency in the future. This would pretty much eliminate any inflation, exchange rate, gold reserve related issues. Currently researching, please come back later for the final article.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Faith in Science

From the American Heritage Dictionaries:

faith (fāth)
Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one's supporters.
A set of principles or beliefs.

Doesn't it seems like faith is the exact opposite of Science?

sci·ence (sī'əns)
The observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.
Such activities applied to an object of inquiry or study.
Knowledge, especially that gained through experience.

Isn't it a wonder that both faith and science co-exist in modern society? Which one should I be trusting? Neither. The truth is, none of the two can survive without the other.  They say science is about experimenting, investigating, explaining a phenomena. How many of us ever really did experiment the theories of science thought to us? None of us can come close to reproducing all of the empirical experiments needed for a full understanding of modern science, and so it always boils down to trusting what other people say. Trusting. Having Faith.

This is a very fundamental flaw in the system, which only works since malicious papers (as far as I know) are not inserted into the literature like viruses.

There comes a stage when you start believing in what others (and the books) claim as facts. I don't know about you, but I started honestly believing that the earth wasn't flat even before I took my first cross country flight and experienced different time-zones. Re-inventing the wheel will only slow down your progress. You save a lot of time by building on known facts instead of verifying the truth in them. You don't verify Newton's laws before you start mission design for the next inter-planetary expedition.

Why, then, do we waste countless number of hours trying to verify (or disprove) the religious beliefs built on pillars of faith? Is it really necessary? If you believe in it, good for you. Carry on with your pursuit of knowledge (or enlightenment) using all the material you have. If you do not believe in it, why even bother? Consider it as a creative recreational activity for the society and let them be. Religion is a science that was proved, forgotten, 
and misunderstood over time.
Maybe in the year 2150 AD we will all be fighting holy wars over Classical and Quantum Physics. 

Napoleon Bonaparte'

I read this quote in someone's sig on a /. comment thread today:

"What then is, generally speaking, the truth of history ? A fable agreed upon."

The quote is attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte, 18th century military officer of the French revolution; and later Emperor of France, and King of Italy. A quick search revealed tons of other wonderful and memorable quotes from him. Some of my other favorites (unsourced) are listed below:
  1. A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.
  2. All men are equal before God: wisdom, talents, and virtue are the only difference between them.
  3. An army of sheep, led by a lion, is better than an army of lions, led by a sheep.
  4. The stupid speak of the past, the wise of the present, and fools of the future.
  5. Ability is nothing without opportunity.
  6. In victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it.
  7. He who is unmoved by tears has no heart.
  8. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
  9. Six hours sleep for a man, seven for a woman and eight for a fool.
  10. The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Epworth Sleepiness Scale

A scale used to evaluate sleep debt. Sleep debt is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. A simple method of measuring your ESS score is presented below:

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently try to work out how they would have affected you.

Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:
0 = no chance of dozing
1 = slight chance of dozing
2 = moderate chance of dozing
3 = high chance of dozing

  • Sitting and reading
  • Watching TV
  • Sitting inactive in a public place (e.g a theater or a meeting)
  • As a passenger in a car for an hour without a break
  • Lying down to rest in the afternoon when circumstances permit
  • Sitting and talking to someone
  • Sitting quietly after a lunch without alcohol
  • In a car, while stopped for a few minutes in traffic
To check your sleepiness score, total the points:

1 - 6: Congratulations, you are getting enough sleep!
7 - 8: Your score is average
9 and up: Seek the advice of a sleep specialist without delay

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Scoville Scale

Scoville scale is used to measure the hotness or spiciness of a chilli pepper. The earlier method to calculate it was as follows: Start diluting the chilli extract with water. Let a panel of five judges taste it at regular intervals. The Scoville index is achieved when none of the judges can sense the hotness of the chilli anymore.

Naga Jolokia was tested hottest in the world at 1,040,000 SHU! Here is a comparative list of Scoville ratings to get some perspective on it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 18th century music genius. He is considered as one of the most influential composers of classical era. He was envied by other musicians of the Royal court, notably Salieri.

Recommended watch: Amadeus

Friday, September 14, 2007

South Asian origin of the name California

A theory that directly links the name California to a Vedic myth has been suggested. In Hindu mythology, the sage Kapila is said to have burnt King Sagar's 60,000 sons to the ground on being accused of abducting their horse. This incident is said to have taken place at "Kapilaaranya" - derived from Kapila Aranya or Kapila's Forest. The link between the Paatala-loka (literally underworld) which is where the horse allegedly ran off to and the situation of America on the earth directly opposite to India, or in other words "beneath" it, has been noted by proponents of this derivation of "California". The existence of an Ash Mountain Park in California and a Horse Island in Alaska seem to consolidate this possibility, although few authorities have voiced any opinions regarding the Kapilaaranya/California mystery.


Battle of Algiers

Battle of Algiers was the Algerian independence revolution co-ordinated by the FLN (National Liberation Front) against 130 years of French colonial rule over this second largest African country. Algeria gained complete freedom in 1962.

Recommended film: La Battaglia di Algeri