Thursday, April 26, 2007

Fatal Hilarity

(Update: I humbly and profusely apologize for the unimaginable degree of hurt I have most carelessly inflicted on the memories of all those who wrote the 2004 TNPCEE exam. Only unlettered, ignorant fools such as I will make a claim so ludicrous as 6000 deg C being the temperature of the Sun; even an Engineer with a modest idea of the State Board 12th Standard textbook will testify that the temperature of the sun is 6000 K, and not a degree more or less. This has been proven beyond doubt by the TNPCEE exam which asked this very question, and gave the choices as "a. 6000 deg C, b. 6000 K, c. 6500 deg C, d. 6500 K". )

(This post is dedicated to Mojan, without whose valiant efforts the world would never have known somebody's singular admiration of Namitha)

MSB corridor - Scheduled time of RAC exam : 9:00 AM to 12 noon

Me(along with about 30 others): Sir, please let us in, It is still 8:54.
Namitha : The Circular states that you should be here at 8:50.
Me : But sir, even the answer books haven't been distributed ! Some of the invigilators are coming to the rooms only now! Please !
N : No, go wait in my office. I will come there after my rounds.
N's Office, Wednesday 9:20 AM
N : I will not let you write the exam without an id card.
A : But sir, that is why I am here to ask you in person, I have lost my ID card.
N : Did I ask you to lose it?
N : Now, all those who came late, come in one by one, and fill in this form.
25 minutes on Maiya's paper gyaan. A most auspicious start indeed.


Exam Hall, Wednesday 11:50 AM

The Friendly, Neighborhood Buffoon: AaL yoo gentil men, tai app yuwar answer sheets yimmediately !

(comes around in a great huff, snatches off my untied mass of paper)

We do naat care if you do naat write anyTHing man, you should have (eyes narrowed, snout protruding, bald head shining, kind of like the Persian dude in 300 who says 'Our arrows shall block out the sun') disssipppplin.

Much further buffonery ensues.


Sulli's room, Thursday 2:15 AM

Me: WTF, no question on VCRS today. 40 marks on VARS! How could you possibly do the second VARS question, with a double-effect thrown in? I didn't even continue after reading that!

Mojan: Uh oh, the VARS was a typo, he corrected it a few minutes before you came in after your honeymoon with N.

15 marks. Whoosh.


Sulli's room, Thursday 4:15 AM

(A particularly unwieldy formula for a purely experimental correlation concerning Fluidized Bed Combustion and Centrifugal Precipitation and suchlike, fine concepts about which Mothers tell their fretful babies: 'So ja beta, so ja. Varna Fluidized Bed Combustion ke formula mug karna padega' , was physically, logically, and dimensionally incorrect. However, there was talk that this was a _particularly_ probable question, so we were breaking our heads trying to mug it up. )

Mojan: Mapullais, I know what you are doing wrong.
Makam: Oh, peace, you got it, eh? what ?
Mojan: You are not trying to understand concepts from a scientific perspective. The Spirit of Inquiry is what is missing.

Mojan did not speak or move after that. And he has developed a most inexplicable limp.


Power Plant Engineering Exam, Thursday 10:45 AM

Question 5: A 400m long, 2.5m wide parabolic trough concentrator [yakkity yakkity yakkity yak]...Water enters the focal line at 38 degrees Celsius. Calculate the exit conditions of water. .
Doing a simple energy balance, we (all of us) find the exit temperature of water be a slightly warm 35,000 degrees Celsius. Tungsten vaporizes at 5600 degrees Celsius. Hot.
Oh, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics ( 35,000 deg C > 6,000 deg C K, Temperature of the sun) is for sissies, we're Mechanical Engineers now.


Question 6: An induced draft wet cooling tower [blah blah yada yada]. It receives 4,50,000 kgs of air per minute, and 68,000 kgs of water per minute. [Some arbit question requiring the use of a psychrometric chart.]
For any reasonable size of the cooling tower, the mass flow rates involved will cause the velocity of air to be comparable the speed of light in vacuum.

Relativistic Heat and Mass Transfer In Conventional Cooling Towers. Joy.


Question 9: A nuclear reactor with 50 tonnes of natural Uranium [neutron flux, nuclear cross section area, and other such delightful morsels of information follow]. Calculate the rating of the reactor.
Possibly the most suitable candidate for the honor of The World's Most Subjective Question, we have got values ranging from Mojan's 10.47 W ( => 50 tonnes of Uranium will not quite power a rickety old bog bulb) to somebody's 3327.8 Terawatt , enough to satisfy the energy requirements of all possible earth-like civilizations within 100 A.U of the solar system.


Now question 11 requires some perspective. Reasonable men would look at a power plant, and ask in moments of deep introspection: If I put in a kg of coal here, how much electrical energy am I going to get out of the other side? Reasonable men will go ahead, put many, many kgs of coal, and publish their findings as performance characterstics.

Agent Solar, on the other hand, waves away such efforts as mere child's play. Real Men, he contends, find expressions for the input of a power plant as a function of its output.

All is well, till that function happens to be a cubic polynomial. With two real, positive roots and one negative root. What does that mean? It means you drop in a kg of coal, and pray. Pray hard, and the output tends to the larger of the three roots. Else, be warned, sinner ! Your power plant could end up drawing power, if the equation is to be believed !! Behold Divine Retribution !


This will go on our official mech t-shirt, along with all the other pearls of wisdom we've gathered over the years :

We're even thinking of making an AYBABTU (video)-like meme :-)

And with that, we're done with Core Mech. Khattam-Shud even. Transcendental Peace descends so low, that I can almost touch with the tip of my nose if I stand on my toes.


Friday, April 20, 2007

The DUIBot Lives!

Ain't this just the sweetest place to be?

You might be wondering what that cataclysmic monstrosity in my room is. Well, that is a proof-of-concept prototype for a term project for a Design Synthesis course Makam, Pota, Mukund and I are doing. It is an automatic library cataloging robot, designed especially for the slightly-less-than-stellar IITM library. By the end of the project, you walk into the library and type the name of your book, and buzz-whirr-crank-pfft! you get the X,Y,Z location of the book :-)

The challenge lies not in doing it from scratch, for several places like the New York City Library already have a similar, more efficient system working, but in retrofitting a system into the delightfully ill-designed ( delightful because of the immense dose of confidence you get in yourself after seeing professionals do such work ) IITM library. I'll probably write a more detailed post on it soon, but during the course of the project, from image processing to bargaining with timber shops in Vels to cursing Aluminum L sections for their low Moment of Inertia to heated arguments in the library over beam deflection formulas to microcontroller programming to fighting about bump sensors to pattern recognition to tearing up Pota's literally fat prize cheques to scientific thought to..erm, shall we say, Result Oriented Engineering Thought to laughing our asses off at Pota's hilarious 'Commercial Prospects' section in the report to fighting with \clear:page to Sod's Law to 2^9 books to 2^25 books to 2 books to "Hmm, should we show a live demo, or will a video suffice?" to Hofstadter’s law to truss design to slanted members to wobbling powerscrews to high torque motors to low torque motors to no torque motors to cheap 100Kpix webcams to pathetic 4fps frame rates at 16 colors to more vehement cursing to singular disagreement about the merits of RFID to unequivocal consensus on the demerits and the incompetence of the library as a whole to fishing out 70 books from the nether recesses of my room to finding Nitin Chandrachoodan's old Ap-mech book passed on by seniors' legacy to Verdant Fantasies manifesting themselves in encoded barcodes to 'Eesabeku, Iddu Jayisabeku!' to 'lite ra mama' to "Shit, we just rediscovered the Gantry" to "Hey, we just rediscovered the four-bar" to the Joy of Rediscovery to the realization that aligning the powerscrews is the solution to this problem to the realization that getting better components is the solution to this problem to the realization that image doctoring is the ultimate solution to this problem to the realization that image doctoring is the ultimate solution to all Engineering problems to "Hey, check Intensity(t) vs t" to "That’s Ok, check dI(t)/dt" to "Hm, check FFT(I(t))" to "Dash it, try d(FFT(I(t)))/df)" to "Ok da, try d(FFT(dI/dt))/df" to "Go ask the Intensity to f**k itself sideways" to the joys of Canny's Edge Detection algorithm to the Matlab Image Processing blog to Contiguous Block Matching to Pota's ludicrous suggestion of putting up our 30 page lab report as a blogpost to the acute embarrassment of the entire class getting to know all my sources of ,ahem, entertainment when I inadvertently connected my laptop to the projector without closing all windows to finally doing the presentation well, phew, we've seen it all !


Oh, and by the way, our last slide was this:

Does that ring a bell somewhere?


Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I was reading one of my senior's (Supradeep's) old blogs today, and came across what I thought was a particularly interesting observation:

Theorem on Frequency - Intelligence Interdependence

P x I = constant where,

P = pitch of the voice ( frequency of the fundamental harmonic)
I = An intelligence measure.

To put the statement in non mathematical terms, the intelligence of a person is inversely proportional to the pitch of his voice.

Although I don't agree with the theorem itself, this Corollary seems to make sense very much:

Cor 2 : The theorem applies to the same person at different instants of time. If at any point, you are all squeaky and shouting, then believe me, you are acting dumb. When you are calm and relaxed and voice your opinion in low frequencies, you are most probably right.

I've seen that happen with me infinite times :-)

Saturday, April 07, 2007


The Logistic Map : Pure, Absolute, Unadulterated, Euphoric Ecstasy abounds!

That, and Italics shouldn't be a binary state of a piece of text, there should be more degrees of slant.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I was reading through this gem of a page suggested by Sribharath, and came across this STUPENDOUS bit:

question = 0xFF; // optimized Hamlet

(Hint: q = 2B or not 2B )

ROFLMAO! Thats going to be my sig for life :D

And oh, this too:

Ans: One.
Question: How many psychics does it take to change a light bulb?