Saturday, June 12, 2010

A life through links

In this ever resource constrained world thanks to the struggle for whatever little there is up for grabs, it is getting easier and easier to label people. It is getting harder to control the addictive simplicity of boxing people into narrow containers of  what the classifier wants to see. It has become so hard to refuse the convenience of seeing people as taking sides if one argues for a cause. It is so easy to hold the resources hostage to bargain social compliance. 

Like in the wake of incidents like Dantewada, one dare not rise up for the people in the Gadchiroli village, you might run the risk of being called a Maoist (which has become synonymous with being a terrorist probably not without good reason).  One dare not say the prof is teaching completely wrong stuff lest one faces social backlash. One better be careful to decontextualize every academic discussion so as to not hurt the egos of someone powerful but has no clue of the academic content of the discussion. (We have now new names like "diplomatic skills" or "soft skills" as euphemism for bad words like "playing politics") One dare not speak against nuclear energy if one is taking salary from the Government of India, or worse from the Department of Atomic Energy. One dare not show contempt for pro-women political smooth-talking  lest be threatened to lose potential life-partners.

In this world of threats and arm-twist bargains that I live, it is only getting harder to say the truth, blog, have a chat, publicly discuss, argue, Buzz. I was so naive when I thought that science is all about rational thinking. I was so stupid when I believed that precision and correctness though not the forte of politicians does find appreciation in science.

Growing up is all about disillusionment.

I thought trying out here another form of political smooth talking that I have unfortunately learnt being in academics, avoid the risk of having to show courage of saying something on one's own by filling up writings with web-links. 

So here I list some of the web-sites which I have been following for the past few months,

* You-tube like non-English websites this and this one.

* Homes pages of some students in Berkeley whose academic interests largely overlap with mine Kevin Lin, Schoemmer Pries, and Theo

*  Witten's QFT lecture notes, fall and spring.

* Some papers on the importance and validity of intelligence and its measurement like, this one , this Gladwell's article, on the importance of g, this blog on intelligence measurement, this article in NYMagazine, (though I have strong objection to this practice in New York schools as explained in this article), and this one about there being so few girls in mathematics.

Inspite of all the research one is still left waiting for the Indian education system (especially the Physics ones that I am more familiar with) to recognize the importance of intelligence and more importantly to recognize that "specific skills" are not to be confused with "general intelligence", the former have a lower cognitive floor and is trainable. We can't skew the system in such a way that "skills" become more important than "intelligence". Just because one can repair broken cars one is not a mechanical engineer. Just because one can do large integrations fast or use Mathematica or can write C++ programs one is not a physicist! 

* An interesting CFT paper

* Discussion on the Feynman Path-Integral at MathOverflow, one, two, three and four and the references within. 

* A writing on renormalization group

* Once in a blue moon there happens good/interesting courses in TIFR like this, one by Sunil Mukhi and the other by Shiraz and this one by Amol.

* A beautiful article on the problems with economic reforms in India by Swaminathan Aiyar. This is website provides a good open-source collection of articles on socio-economic issues. Unfortunately not everything is open-source here. 

* Home-page of Avi Loeb and CFA
  Avi Loeb's papers are a joy to read. I recently had some interaction with him while I was preparing for this talk I gave recently. This also brought me to interact with Jonathan Pritchard.

* I was skimming through these papers from the Poverty Action Lab ,one, two, three and four.

* An interesting blog by a taxi driver in Singapore.

* Steve had something to say about Noam Chomsky here.

* A beautiful song by Greenday and this addictive one by Shakira.

* A organization called BloodConnect for organizing blood supply during emergencies. An acquaintance of mine was one of the founders of this.

* Stories by Anderson
* An article in this new e-magazine devoted to reporting on the Middle East.

* MIT OCW's Algebraic Topology, basic, advanced, more advanced.

* An article on evolutionary reasons behind psychological differences between men and women.

* Trying to understand complications of immigration from this article from here. This is another amazing open-source collection of articles on economics.

* MIT World

* Berkeley Lectures 

* An organization called "Boond" which looks promising. 

* A beautiful photoblog.

* Etingof's course on the interface of geometry and QFT

* A book on QFT which I can freely access because TIFR has subscribed to it.

* Two amazing lectures at TED on regenerative medicine and artificial limbs

* An article on possibility of space-travel

* Have been looking through these articles by Tim Gowers and Ben Green.

* Dror Natan

* Have been reading through QFT and CFT notes by David Tong 

* 3 books on Riemannian Geometry that I realized I can freely access because TIFR has subscribed to it. One be Jost, by Besse and one on Twistors. I have read mostly from the book by Jost and I like it whereas I haven't explored much of the other two. Associated to this is this recent discussion I had on MathOverflow.

* Some good articles by M.V.Ramana explaining a super-obvious idea as to why pursuit of nuclear energy should be stopped and especially India should not invest in any nuclear power and how terribly flawed is the current state of operations and possibly coming up laws on nuclear reactors in India. Its high time we come back to common sense and stop going gaga about people who were instrumental in bringing nuclear energy to India and those who have been hard-selling this self-defeating nuclear dream.

This is another beautiful article by M.V.Ramana along with my friend Suvrat explaining the problems with the cap on nuclear liability.This one is by Suvrat alone.

A  malfunctioning at a nuclear power station can within seconds put these numbers of 19000 dead of Bhopal look like a small mishap, something these days Indian media is suddenly excited about. The verdict was yet another example of the barbie-doll status of the Indian judiciary and the administration and more importantly it proves that every Indian is valued between $500 and $2000 by the Indian Government.


Vipul Naik said...

I wish you wouldn't bandy about the word "open source" when you just mean "freely readable/downloadable" -- "open source" is used for programs whose *source code* is freely available.

Anirbit said...

Interesting that your comment came within seconds of my putting up the blog!

Anyway I am sure readers will not be confounded by my lifting of the usage of the word "open-source" from its usual contexts to a slightly more general concept.

Jigar said...

A small correction: the article about kid's school admission practices in new york, is not from new york times. It is new york magazine, i think both are different.

Rashman said...

very cool stuff I must say...
chasing these links will help me get through a major portion of my work-day :)

Anirbit said...


Thanks for pointing that out. I have changed the reference


I think Mr.Rashman is better known as Abhinav Sharman. Apologies if I spoilt your intention of remaining incognito :)

I Hidalgo said...

Hi Anirbit,
Interesting to read your posts. I think you have edited the post to remove some of the references. Somewhere in them I remember finding a set of links to Wikipedia articles on GTR. I am unable to trace them 'all' by searching Wikipedia. Would you care to give them?

Hope I have not bothered you too much. Thanks.

Anirbit said...

@I Hidalgo

I think you are confusing something. If you had known me more you would have known that I am the last person who is going to link to Wikipedia articles!

{Though I do believe that as a cause it is a great cause and I had encouraged my mother to donate for that}

I Hidalgo said...

@ Anirbit
At first I was surprised myself to find it. But then it was not from your blog directly. It was in a course page which you had linked in your blog. Actually that surprised me more! But never mind.

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Obscure Blogger said...

nice post. Very informative. Links you shared were very good. Thanks