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Friday, August 2, 2013

Technology for humanity


    We say we are intelligent living beings the highest living organisms in the world and indeed that is true. From 0 knowledge a few thousand years ago man has come up today and the knowledge of humankind is virtually infinite as compared to other animals we send rockets to space ,send probes that go to study various planets,the sun and comets of our solar system. We keep an eye of what's happening in the universe with powerful telescopes and study the objects that existed thousands of years ago since the light from these objects has taken thousands of years to reach us here on earth. We know how our bodies are formed how we were concieved our bodies developed in the womb of our mothers. From making one or two claculations per minute we built computers to do billions and trillions of calculations per second.

           And inspite of such high advances we are still fighting with each other there are wars and we use our highly intelligent brains to manufacture weapons that can efficiently kill millions at one go ,we make machines that does the work of thousands of men so inspite of us saying that there is development there is hunger poverty economic inequality hatred and violence in the world. The two world wars saw the best minds in the world building weapons to kill lots of people at one go the reasult deaths of millions total destruction of many nations.

                      Knowledge and technology when it leads to economic inequality is useless technology should be such that it erases the economic boundaries , it should make poverty history and more importantly brings peace ,happiness and wisdom in the world.

            

                   

          

Sunday, July 28, 2013

3D printing


Although 3D printing has been around for quite a long time it is now becoming a buzzword the social networking sites and Internet are abuzz of stuff being 3D printed. Here is an example of what 3D printing can lead to.


The video above shows a 3D printed prefabricated house ,we can print mementos,sculptures ,plates ,dishes using a 3D printer.

There are 3D printers that are being developed that are printing metal objects so we will have some or many of our kitchen utensils made out of 3d printers.

The real exiting stuff about 3d printing is that scientists are now planning to make human tissue cells out of 3d printers and NASA  is now embarking on a project to 3D print food for astronauts in space and make the technology cost effective enough to 3D print food for people where there is scarcity of food. If successful this will change the way we live imagine having a 3D printer where as raw materials you put in the basic ingredients put the choice of your dish and  the flavour ,calorie content and nutritional value  and the 3D printer will print the dish as per order .

The advantages of 3D printing will be many fold first of all people would be able to print out whatever they want at their homes rather that  go shopping for that product. In time 3D printers will get cheaper and will be affordable to more and more people.

One can visit Youtube and see videos of various kinds of 3D printing done there are people who want to 3d print homes also  shoes are being 3d printed.

3D printing is process in which a computer model of a desired object is printed layer by layer in many cases the raw materials is plastic or fine steel powder.

This is one technology about which we will hear and see more and more as time rolls on and it is very much possible that it may have a considerable impact in the way we live and do things.
Do check the video below.

3D printing metallic objects

      

     

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Visual Perception

    There are events in nature that are very fast ,there are events that are very slow while there are others that can be perceived as neither too fast or too slow what we call in common terms normal pace.


         While we have 5 senses to perceive things and events around us viz. touch, see,hear,taste and smell there is also one more sense known as the sixth sense that let us know things that may happen it is used highly but in scientific terms very little is known about it. However this post will focus on visual perception.


         For our eye to see some event in continuous motion on a video screen it has to have at least 24 frames displayed one after another at continuous time intervals ,now there are events that are too fast to see like in sports a ball hitting a bat or what happens when a boxer lands a punch on his opponents face. With the help of high speed cameras this problem is solved however the term high speed may confuse people. Actually High Speed cameras are nothing but cameras that can record a very high number of frames per second in order of 2000 fps. Once this recording is done the video can be played back at normal 24 fps thus a one second video would now be played in 83.33 seconds so an event that occurred at 1/100th of a second can be seen easily and this has lead to many new findings in the field of sport.


        In cricket it can be seen that when a ball hits the bat at high velocity the bat moves at the point of impact for a very short span of time this fact was totally unknown to everyone before the advent of high speed cameras. In the same sport there was a rule that if at the point of delivery a bowler's hand straightens  by a certain angle that particular delivery would be considered illegal and the bowler would be warned for chucking. It was 5 degrees for spinners,10 degrees for medium pacers and 15 degrees for fast bowlers. When biomechanics study was done with the help of modern high speed cameras it was found that almost every bowler subconsciously ends up straightening  his arm at the point of delivery there was a famous chucking incident involving ace Sri Lankan spinner Muttaiah Muralidharan where he was called by the umpire for chucking. Thankfully his team-mates,his captain  and board backed him and when video analysis were done on all bowlers it showed that Murali straightened the arm as much as other bowlers did although at normal pace the videos tell a different story even a bowler with copybook action like Glenn McGrath was found to be straightening his arm by more than 15 degrees at times. Had it not been for high speed cameras the racist umpire could have ended up ending Murali's carrear right there and after that Muralidharan went on to become a great bowler picking up 800 wickets in his entire carrear.


          Also high speed cameras are used to by various authorities to ascertain whether a person is speaking the truth or not while questioning him/her taking the high speed images of their subconscious facial reactions and then watching it at normal speed.


          Now talking about events that are slow in nature like the growth of a tree in that case a normal camera may be used and programmed and installed in such a way that it would take 1 photograph an hour and stay in the very same position focused on a plant now after a certain point of time when the plant has grown to a certain extent the images and then taken and played at normal 24 fps the view of the video one would get is that as if he is able to see the plant grow slowly in a matter of minutes. Such cameras are also installed at construction site the rate of taking photographs maybe varied as per necessity but again when the video is played one can see how the construction of a building or stadium is done in a matter of minutes without any focus on unnecessary parts.

Rakesh

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

GNU (GNU is Not Unix)


       As the title of these blog suggests the full form of GNU is GNU is Not Unix.The father of Free Software Movement Richard Stallman started the Free Software Foundation in 1983. There is an interesting description he gives as to why he started the Free Software Foundation , while working at MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory in the 1970s he says they lived in an Free Software Enviroment there were lots of operating systems and other software with source codes available alongwith freedom to modify and distribute them in the community  but by the 1980s things changed and free software kept disappearing and the enviroment changed to more of proprietry software which Stallman felt was ugly , morally ugly.

           So Richard Stallman started the Free Software Foundation in 1983 with a goal to make it possible to use software and have freedom. For that to be practicle they needed an Operating System that was Free the only free OS at that time was PDP 10 which was obsolete in 1980s and so was many of the software that they had previously written.

         So they decided to build an operating system that was UNIX like and was totally FREE. For this the GNU project was started to build the GNU operating system.The following question was asked to Richard Stallman regarding the journey of  building the GNU OS (it is followed by the detailed answer given by RMS)

What was the journey to develop GNU/Linux like?
We had to start from a point that was just a little more than zero, and work our way up to freedom. There were a few free programs in 1983 when I started GNU, but those were in no way near a whole OS. There was a lot of work to do, and during the 1980s, we did it. There are hundreds of components that you need to have a UNIX-like OS, even at the most basic level. A few components we found with somebody else, who wrote them for different reasons, but were free software. But the other components we had to develop.
So I wrote some of them, and recruited people to write others, and in some cases, convinced people to develop free programs — for instance, the CSRG (Computer Systems Research Group) at Berkeley. They had written a lot of code to change UNIX, but their code was mixed in AT&T’s code, and so was proprietary. I met them in 1984 and requested them to separate their software and release it as free, which they subsequently did. I wanted to use that code in the GNU system.
By 1992, we had almost the complete GNU system, but one essential component was missing: the kernel. We started developing one in 1990. I chose an advanced design, which gave it somewhat the character of a research project, and it took six years to get a test version. Unfortunately, nobody succeeds every time. But we didn’t have to wait, because in February 1992, Linus Torvalds, who had a proprietary kernel called Linux, decided to make it free. The combination of the Linux kernel with the rest of the GNU system made a complete OS, which was basically GNU, but also contained Linux. So calling it only the Linux OS is wrong; it is the GNU/Linux OS.
 So you see what we call today LINUX  is actually GNU+LINUX it should be described as GNU/LINUX people are of the misconception that it was LINUS Trovalds who started it off Linus provided the Kernel to the GNU project and and GNU/LINUX  came into existence being free is was constantly developed and improved upon  to our present day Fedora,Debian,Android,Ubuntu,Mint and thousands of other distributions of GNU/LINUX .           
          

Monday, July 1, 2013

Solar Power very soon


       In the last few years the price of solar panels has come down drastically at the same time the price of coal and petroleum has shot up even natural gas prices are high and in the coming years they may get even more expensive since petroleum is a limited natural resource non recycle able. As in the previous blog I pointed out whether its wood,coal or petroleum all the sources of energy that we use has come from the energy of the sun so why not tap the original source of energy directly. It has been many decades since solar cells have come into existence these solar cells were till recently very expensive but now the prices have come down to an extent that it is cheaper to have electricity from solar panels than diesel electric generators not only that as the production increases and production processes improve along with improved technology the solar panels will not only be even cheaper but also will be more efficient than the ones today.

There are still huge number of people in developing countries who are devoid of electricity even if electricity is there the quality of electricity is very poor. Solar panels and inverters will end this problem since harnessing solar electricity won't entail laying of power cables all one needs is a solar panel and an inverter to avail the benefits of solar electricity. With solar electricity a certain amount of transmission quality will always be guaranteed. In a country like India which is blessed with lots of sunlight for the entire year where a large section of the population has access to a very bad quality of electricity or no electricity at all this would be a blessing.

The present solar power prices in India are between Rs 7.90 to Rs 10 which are likely to come down to Rs 5-7 in the coming years same as gird electricity charges and just at that point there would be an avalanche of people converting to solar electricity , the world would be vastly benefited from solar energy since it would save millions of tonnes of unrecycleable and pollution producing coal. Solar energy would cause no pollution at all its totally green electricity there is lot of research that is being done in producing cars that runs on electricity those electric cars would be fed by the power generated by solar cells. India has to import hundreds and thousands of tonnes of coal and petroleum this bills would come down with solar power. Also being green the atmosphere of the cities would be much less polluted thus our cities would be far more live able than today should every car , every truck be run totally or partially from electricity harnessed from the sun.

Lets hope the sun be the everlasting solution to our never ending energy problems.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

SOLAR ENERGY


The greatest source of energy that powers the entire earth is the Sun itself. In fact life exists on earth because of the sun had there been no sun there would have been no plants at all whether microscopic or large ones. The plants have a chemical in them called chlorophyll and using this chlorophyll plus the nutrients and water absorbed by their roots from the earth and the sunlight falling on them plants create their own food through a photochemical process called photosynthesis .Now these plants are consumed by small and large animals and some of the smaller insects are consumed by larger creatures while there are some other living organisms that are carnivorous those who consume both meat and plants. We the humans are such carnivores at the top of this food chain.

Now the sustenance of life on earth totally depends not only on food but water is even more essential ,while the organisms living in sea has access to unlimited amount of water those living on land have a limited supply of water that's fit for their consumption. Clean water that can be consumed by land animals is supplied from rivers,lakes and ponds and water comes into them through rain ,now how these rain happen water on the surface of the sea evaporates these evaporated water accumulates at higher layers in the atmosphere the accumulated vapour form clouds and these clouds condense into rain droplets that fall back on the surface of the earth this water is fit for consumption by humans and other land animals. So its the the energy of sun that resulted in rain.

Again consider the energy we use to cook wood derived from trees or coal that is nothing but
the trees that once existed on the surface of the earth which were buried below the earth and became coal under high pressure over millions of years. Again butane gas that we used for cooking is derived from petroleum which are again marine organisms and plants that were buried below the surface of the earth and these plants and organisms also came into existence because of the energy received from the sun.

Again talking about wind energy the winds exist because the atmospheric pressure everywhere on earth is not uniform the difference in atmospheric pressure leads to air from high pressure areas move towards the low pressure areas and this causes winds. The non uniformity of atmospheric pressure is due to the sun that results in different temperature at difference places on earth.

Now the most renewable source of energy on earth is the sunlight itself the technology to convert solar energy directly into heat energy has been there for quite a few decades but was not commercially viable till now however in the last two years the cost of solar energy has come down drastically and now it is just a little bit more than grid electricity surely in the next two to four years the solar energy price would be at par with the price of grid electricity and this would lead to a complete new revolution ,today one thing we see is that all electronic consumer goods are becoming energy efficient the CRTs are replaced by LCD,LEDs. The bulbs are replaced by fluorescent lamps followed by LED lamps and when you combine this with affordable solar electricity that means one does not have to depend on grid electricity totally for their energy requirements so one can move to remote places where he can receive adequate amount of sunlight and live a normal life with adequate amount of solar electricity supply.

Again there are still millions of people in India who don't have access to electricity for them affordable solar electricity will be a boon that would revolutionize their lives. This would also save billions of dollars of imports of coal and oil since there would be cars that would run on solar electricity.

So you see the real source of energy is in front of us that can change the world in the next few years surely the developing world would be immensely benefited from solar energy also its a clean and green solution 0 CO2 emissions no trees have to be cut down no large scale displacement of people ho harmful gases. In fact there are places where solar are placed over canal so that the loss of water from canals due to evaporation is minimised , the large scale use of solar panels around the world will help the environment immensely and is absolutely vital for the sustenance of life on the surface of the Earth.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Google's Loon Project


The company that gave us the fastest search engine,the coolest email,an online document creation tool,the Android mobile OS,the extremely popular Chrome browser and many other world changing applications is out to change the world again this time by providing cheap and affordable internet to people across the world with the loons project.



The wireless internet we access today is either 3G,4G or Wi-Fi either through ground towers or a Wi-Fi hotspot. However Google loons project has brought an entire new thinking into this .In the Google's loon project a balloon with Wi-Fi equipment will be perched up at the stratosphere which is the layer of the atmosphere 20km above the surface of the earth, the balloon would use

solar panel and rechargeable batteries for electricity and it would have Wi-Fi equipment in it. The signal from the Wi-Fi equipment will be sent to an antenna on the surface of earth, each balloon will be able to send signals within a diameter of 40 km and a global circuit of balloons will be made.





Now the question arises Why Stratosphere? The aeroplanes and rain clouds on earth are only 10 km from the surface of the earth being at the stratosphere the balloon is safe from thunder and lightening in the clouds also there is no chance of it getting drenched with rain. There is also no chance of collision with an aeroplane since the plane never reaches stratosphere .Again in the stratosphere winds flow very slow and steady across layers , the speeds are normally between (5-20)mph or 8-32 kmph. The balloon will not be stationary but it will move across the globe with the flow of the wind and as the flow of the air is uniform across the stratosphere is uniform across the layers in same or different directions the balloon will move up and down across the layers where the flow of wind will be in the intended direction. There would be software algorithms that would control the motion of the baloon. The motion of the balloon will be controlled in such a way that when one balloon moves away from a particular area its position would be taken by another balloon

ensuring uninterrupted internet connection. An entire global circuit of such balloons will be made.



Google is starting the pilot project in new Zealand. Even today 2/3 of the world's population(4 billion) does not have access to the internet, in India the internet penetration is measly 12.5% or mere 150million in a population of 1200million plus.



If these project is successful the world would be able to access internet a t 3G speeds even from the most remote places on earth i.e. Even if you are in the jungles of Amazon or Africaor in the snow clad mountains of Himalayas you would still be able to access high speed internet.The work that needs to be done online can be done from any place on the earth no matter where.

You can have a Google hangout session from the peak of Mt. Everest with someone who is camping in the middle of African jungles we would be able to see live visuals of happenings at these remote places.



In a country like India where 70% of the population lives in villages, the Loons project will be a boon. Let's hope that Google succeeds in this world changing project.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

FREE SOFTWARE


First of all lets begin with the term Free Software- free software stands for freedom associated with a software not necessarily price. As we know software unlike furniture or car is not not a physical object but an conceptual object that is expressed in the forms of computer insturctions and data which execute to do a specific task. One property a software has is that it can be copied multiple times once made if one has the source code it can be ported across various platforms you will never have the above privileges with physical goods like furniture ,clothes etc. So incase of software as mentioned before its simply programmes and data now there are kinds of software in existence today a) Proprietry Software b) Free Software

Proprietry software is software which one has to buy or is given for free but the orginal developer of the software retains the source code of the software and does not give it to the user. Examples are all the Windows Operating Systems,Adobe Photoshop etc. In case of propritery software the user does not have the freedom to modify or distribute the original or modified copies of the software. The user is controlled by the software rather than the software controlling the user.

Free software is either bought or downloaded or distributed free of cost. In case of free software the author of the software provides the entire source code of the software to the user ,the user of the software has total freedom to study the source code of the software,modify it as per his wish and distribute the original as well as modified copies of the software either for a fee or absolutely free of cost .It is this freedom of free software that makes it great , the examples of free software are GNU/LINUX ,GCC, Mozilla Firefox etc. In case of free software its the user that controls the software rather than being controlled by it take for example Richard Stallman the founder of the Free Software Foundation when he was working at the AI lab of MIT modified the device driver code of a Xerox Laser printer because of which the printer automatically sent a mail to user when his job was done and in case of a paper jam it would mail all the users about it.

The major advantage that Free Software offers is customization as
per users need since the source code of the software is available to them. Again you are free to share any change that is made in the orginal software ,this is how GNU/LINUX has grown it all started off as a final
year project of Linus Trovalds he made the kernal and released its source code other developers around the world joined in and since the code us openly available to everyone and everyone had freedom to modify the code they kept making little improvements in Linux and it grew into a powerful OS being used by most of the supercomputers ,servers and a few home computers across the world.

The following are the four freedoms thats essential for a software to be free:

Freedom 0: Freedom to run the software as per the wish of the user.

Freedom 1: Freedom to study the source code and modify it as per
his her wish.

Freedom 2: Freedom to distribute the copies of the original software.

Freedom 3: Freedom to distribute the copies of the the modified versions of the software.

Being a Free Software enthusiast I wish to see all the people around the world using free software.

                                                              
                                                                  Rakesh Mallick                

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tablet Computers - IMPACT



Steve Jobs introduced the first Tablet Computer to the world as an iPad

and since then it has become a rage among people since its introduction in 2009 millions of iPads have sold in USA and across the world. The tablet computer is an easy to use keyboard less minicomputer with a touch screen and has a mini operating system with which one can surf the internet,take photographs,create documents,view pictures ,view and make videos and do all the basic computing. The screen sizes normally begin with 7 inch and go up to about 10.1 inch. The iPad though had a 10.1 inch screen and used the iOS operating system which also happens to be the operating system of Apple's iPhone. Introduction of iPad sprang up the Tablet revolution across countries iPad was expensive alright but various other companies around the world came out their own version of Tablet computers which used Google's open source Android as its operating system.
                
                       This tablets are much cheaper than a standard desktop or a

laptop and easier to carry around all of them are WiFi enabled for internet access also they have dongle support. There are tablets which can be used as a mobile phone with a sim and internet access is possible through 3G connection. These tablets are a boon to developing and low income countries where PC penetration is still low. They can be a great aid for education,being flat book like structure it can be used to store books in pdf forms or as ebooks. Thus a single SD card can store thousands of books thus one does not need lots of cupboards or space at home to set up a library all

one needs to do is to download a book from the internet and store it in an SD card or a pen drive. This book can have web links that can open on a single click one can embed Youtube videos in such books, at the same time saving lots of paper and saving lots of trees from being cut. Power management is a major issue of this tablet computers but with the increase in the processing power of the ARM processors which consume very very little power as compared to Intel and AMD processors they have become standard processors in all mobile devices and tablets however Intel with its Atom processors is also looking to enter the market.



                In the next few years Tablets are expected to replace the laptops the processing power of the low energy consuming ARM processors is bound to go up it would be interesting to see how INTEL and AMD respond to this challenge but one thing is for sure the Tablet computers by its light weight,low price with easy to use and cute features would go a long way in ending the digital divide the exits in the world.



                                                                                             Rakesh Mallick


Friday, June 14, 2013

INNOVATION - Think different


Innovation is nothing but doing something different with a product or service to make it better cheaper and more useful to people in many cases it may lead to the growth of complete new market new solutions come into existence because of that. Let me  explain this with an example. All of us have seen barbed wire fences across the world but from where this idea of barbed wire came into existence ,before barbed wires fencing a large area was extremely expensive and required a lot of labour since the fencing material was made of bricks and stones but in 1867 Lucien Smith of Ohio came up with the idea of twisting pieces of iron wires in such a way that they join up with adjacent wires and at their junction the ends of the wires stand up straight in such a way that someone who holds it carelessly may be injured, now this property of barbed wires was used in making fences of animal farms that prevented predatory animals and other trespassers from entering the farm and this was achieved at a fraction of the cost of a fence made of wood and bricks.



              So what does the above example show a man had a problem he wanted fencing to be done to protect his cattle at the same time he wanted it to be  one at a cost that is affordable without compromising on the effectiveness of the structure that would protect his cattle. He observed the resources available to him thought about using it to achieve the intended target and comes up with a solution that would satisfy his need.



        On the face of it a solution like barbed wire seems very simple but iron had been known to man for thousands of years even iron wires were available to man for a long time by why no one else thought what this man did. This simple innovation of barbed wire is still being used across the world as a major fencing solution its no rocket science it also shows that one does not need to be an engineer or a scientist to innovate examples are there from people around the world that even innovation can come from even the simplest of the people who have never read a letter of their language.



          In fact human civilization itself is based on innovation the utilization of fire for security and cooking was an innovation so was utilization of wheel for making vehicles and pottery. The various tools that man used for hunting like the bow and arrow ,man understood that highly pointed objects when thrown with a good amount of speed would penetrate the flesh of an animal deeper and faster also he understood the elastic properties of materials which was the string of the bow that was used to catapult the arrow with great speed.



            So this little faculty of the human mind that makes him think differently and try and find new solutions to problems with the available resources should be encouraged every person in the world can innovate. 

                                                                               Rakesh Mallick