Monday, August 14, 2006

Singing Sand Dunes

We have all grown up hearing about the wierd singing noises sand dunes make. Science never offerred very convincing answers for this phenomena. But now recent research promises to solve this mystery.
Interest in them is bound to rise when u get to know how good these dunes are at singing:The dunes at sand mountain in nevada sing a note of low C, two octaves below middle C. In the desert of Mar de Dunas in Chile,the dunes sing slightly higher, an F, while the sands of Ghord Lahmar in Morocco are higher yet, a G sharp.
Since atleast the time of Marco Polo, desert travellers have heard the songs of the dunes, a loud upto 115 decibels-deep hum that can last several minutes. While the somgs are steady in frequency,the dunes donot have a perfect pitch. Scientists already knew that the sounds were caused by avalanches, but they were not sure how.
Now after 5 years of research, visiting sand dunes in morocco, chile, china and oman, a team of scientists from the United states, France and Morocco say they have the answer. In a paper that will appear in Physical Review Letters, the scientists say that collisions between sand grains cause the motions of the grains to become synchronised. The outer cone of the dunes vibrate like the cone of a loudspeaker. The particular note depends primarily on the size of the grains. Indeed no dune was required at all. The scientists shipped sand from a Morrocan desert to a Paris lab and reproduced the singing by pushing the sand around with a metal blade. "Its not at all like any other instrument we know", said one of the scientists, Stephane Douady of the National Centre for Scientific Research in Paris. The most beautiful dune tune comes from the sands of Oman. "Very pure sound," Douady said, "this one is really singing." The least musical bits of silicon were from China. They hardly sang at all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Down in the Ditch

The media hype that was created around the "boy who lived",Prince really set me thinking. The media made it out to be a case of india uniting for the sake of a child in distress. One of them probably deciding that in this general atmosphere of madness anything goes, compared the atmosphere in the country to the atmosphere of the country during the Kargil war!!!!!!
Now now dont start calling me a cruel brute. If it wasnt for the media attraction the event attracted the boy wouldnt have been alive. But thats where everything that was good about the coverage. The incident reveals the levels to which our sympathy levels have fallen. Prince's was not actually the worst condition a child in india suffers. There are thousands out there who live in conditions which are worse than anything death could offer them. But there was something we could do about such children, but nobody wants any responsibility thrust upon them. So we diverted our sympathies to somebody who was in distress but for whom we could do nothing. Thus we conviniently massaged our conscience while at the same time doing nothing. NULL. VOID. TRPs thats all this media coverage was all about.
P.S. On the reservations issue: If the institutes have to maintain the quality as well as go ahead with the reservation policy, they will have to have high cut-offs for the sc sts and obcs as well. If no students can clear the cutoffs then it will have to accept mediocore students which will do no good for the institute. If students clear the cutoffs then there is no need for cutoffs they are good enough to get there without reservations.

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