Graduate Life and Kindergarten

Graduate Life and Kindergarten

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Tribute

My Father

He was my first teacher, best friend, moral guide, philosopher and above all, a loving man.

He dint teach me what I should become in life, he showed it by example.
He once told me, 'there are too many rules in the world, so do not get confused. Define your own but stick to it'
He radiated confidence in his decision, comfort in his voice, authority in his deeds and lots of love in his every action.

He used to wait in the scorching sun outside while I gave my exams and interviews in an AC room.
His heart skipped a beat everytime I slipped in my life. The pain I suffered was nothing compared to the pain in his heart.
He consoled and encouraged me whenever I failed. But he cried later in the night when no one saw.

He commanded respect from everyone. But not by arrogance but by the power of his love.
He was there for anyone who had a problem. Not just to support but to lift them out of it.
He made anyone forget their sorrows by his engrossing talk. He made everyone feel comfortable and happy.

But as a son, I failed. I was not able to relieve his pain in the knee. I was not able to lighten his heart. I was not able to reduce his burden. I was not able to fulfill his desires.

He lives inside me. But this is not over. Not in this lifetime. I need one more. Where I become his father. Till then, there is no rest for my soul.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brain Computer Interfacing

Imagine an alien from outer space that is the size of your finger nail sitting inside your brain, controlling you, reading your thoughts, manipulating your decisions, stimulating your motor nerves and making you see, hear and do what 'it' wants!

Sounds like a sci-fi movie from Spielberg? Well this is not far from happening! No No there has been no extraterrestrial contact from Andromeda Galaxy yet! But you just need to replace our tiny helpless alien with a microchip that can interface with your brain and do all those nasty things! :P

Brain Computer Interfacing is an emerging technology in the field of biomedical electronics (which means lot of hot cash flowing in from the government and other generous funding agencies ;) ) which has opened up possibilities never thought of before!

In the near future, you will find products (some may already be in the market as I am writing!) that can make,
1) a deaf man hear even the slightest breeze - the device performs acoustic signal processing by precisely modeling the cochlear passage as cascaded digital filters on a chip placed near the eardrum
2) a blind man (by birth) see all the colors of life - retinal image processing performed on frames captured by a photosensitive pixel array placed behind the eyeball and compressed bitstream sent to the brain through the optic nerve (dunno if the brain can decode MPEG4 video directly :P)
3) an epileptic patient stop having seizures - by monitoring the neural activity, predicting the onset well before hand and suppressing it through stimulation

The impact of advances in the semiconductor industry and nanotechnology on biomedical applications is far more than just interacting with the brain! An excerpt from an IEEE Spectrum Article (rephrased a little bit to fit this blog),

"Biological Microelectromechanical Systems (BioMEMS) deals with very small items. The tools of semiconductor circuit design and manufacturing are used to make minuscule medical devices, such as a miniature artificial pancreas and scaffolding for tissue regeneration, which measure and control the rate of release of hormones (like insulin) by achieving control over chemical structure, over topographical structure, over device size and scale"
(Courtesy -

There will soon be implantable devices which can,
1) monitor the insulin level in the blood, and regulate its flow by controlled release of hormones as and when required (an example of controlled drug delivery) and effectively curing diabetes!
2) continuously track variations in blood pressure and raise an alarm if it exceeds preset thresholds (cant help if it happens to you everytime a beautiful girl passes by :P )thus allowing the patient to take measures and prevent a potential cardiac arrest!
3) help in detection and treatment of cancerous cells
4) cure spinal cord injuries by promoting neuronal regrowth through stimulation using electrical pulses!
5) reinnervate muscular damage common in soldiers who return from the battlefield (preparing them for the next battle of course!)

To make things more fun, these devices can talk to doctors directly (of course through wireless telemetry) and can thus be programmed/reconfigured externally! (So better keep your doc happy! Settle all the bills on time ;) )

To put it simple, very soon, you will have the hospital shifted to your home; well infact inside you! A dozen of microchips will sit inside almost every part of the human body and fight against all those dreaded diseases which cannot be cured clinically!

Now thats the power of science! (I sure am turning into a geek :) )

The only problem is you cant upgrade the software once the device is implanted! (So all you software friends out there, please learn to write bug-free codes! )

Ok I am off to test one of these chips on Jerry, a brave rat who has volunteered to be experimented!

Ahem, the journey has just begun!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Why do we hate Electromagnetics?!

Electromagnetic Fields and Microwave Theory

Perhaps the most loathed/daunted subject for any Electronics Engineer! People simply cant stand it. They dread even at the thought of mentioning the name.

But WHY?! Some of the immediate answers would be, 'Its too much math!', 'Its too complicated and confusing to understand', 'So what is the point in slogging so much anyway? I am not going to use it anywhere!'

But are these the true reasons?? Why do people dislike History then, it does not have any math right? Why dont people like to take a sweeper or a watchman job, arent these simple and easy? Why do we slog so much in solving Sudokus everyday, are we using it anywhere??

So what matters the most for you to like something? two things...
1. how much interest do you have in it?
2. what are the returns/benefit in learning about it?

Do all of us who sit and write pages and pages of lousy C code in the office actually like it? How many of us pursue what we are 'really' interested in at least as a hobby?? Feels sad to think about it...

Lets get back to electromagnetics... so what are the returns/benefits in knowing it? Hmmm just take a look around you. You will probably have your mobile next to you tired of shooting SMSes at a mad pace, you will probably be reading this blog on your laptop connected to a WLAN, you might be listening to the latest hits on FM, you might find the Dark Knight showing on your Digital (Direct) TV with all its brilliant clarity of video and audio...

Well do you realize that these systems can not be fathomed without understanding Maxwell's equations?? Its only because of the horrible math and physics rigorously developed by our beloved great grandfathers - Marconi, Faraday, Gauss, Ohm, Ampere, Hertz (and their family, children, cousins and thereforth) that we are enjoying all the luxuries of seamless mobility and unlimited connectivity!

Phew now that sounds interesting! (I hope I managed to invoke atleast a faint hint of it!) So what is wrong with people? Shouldnt electromagnetics and microwave theory be the most sought after field?? Why dont we show the interest that it seems to easily demand from us?

I feel the answer is in the way it is being taught! (I mean no offense to the teachers who have taught me electromagnetics. They were brilliant!). Anyone who teaches this subject (apparently claimed as the most dry and boring subject ever!) seem to suffer from one of the two problems stated below,

1. Sadly, they themselves have not understood the subject! - due to lack of interest, (or) not spent enough time on it, (or) our grandfathers were too brilliant, (or) unfortunately they also suffered from similar teachers!
So when they themselves donot know what Maxwell tried to convey, how do you expect them to make us realize it? Hence they resort to introducing verbose jargon all the way along, make even '1+1 = 2' sound like the most complicated equation to grasp, make sure nothing makes true sense and thus convince the students not to try and develop the least of interest whatsoever!

2. Even more sadly, the other reason could be that they know the subject too well to teach others! They simply get drowned in the magic of vector calculus and how just a couple of differential equations can go all the way to describe any physical property of all the materials known to mankind! Well a little overdose of math and physics can always cause brains to radiate EM waves you know! :P
Sure, we have to admire these teachers for their love of the subject and perhaps they are following the footsteps of our forefathers. Unfortunately, the dimwit student is made to look even more dumb in the class!

Actually I was torn apart while choosing the topic for this blog. I wanted to have it as 'Why cant anyone teach Electromagnetics properly?!' I still feel its more apt but nevertheless I am okay with having 'hatred' on the title.

To conclude, I would certainly vouch for the fact that if you really develop interest and learn electromagnetics in all its true glory, you will find that you understand how the entire universe works! (And others will start calling you 'geek'/'mad')

Friday, March 19, 2010

The American Dream

Back when I was in high school, one of my favorite teachers asked the class a de-facto question, 'What do you want to become in life?'

Well you know the possible answers, "Doctor, Engineer, CA, Lawyer" etc. But one of my friends surprised us by explicitly stating, "I just wanna goto the US, get a job and settle down in life!". It sounds kind of shocking, isnt it? But isnt this what so many of us have been doing for decades now??

It has also become very common for elders to have a strong negative opinion about going to US. Its selfish, you lose your cultural and moral values, you prefer profession over relations, its brain drain, you get detached from your country, essentially you get spoiled...

So what makes US so special and attractive for the youth? Is the motivation to go abroad plain selfish? Can patriotism and giving back to your motherland happen only when you are standing on its soil? Do most of us do anything at all for our country whether we are working in some MNC in India or abroad?

Do all people living in the home country have the best of their personal lives with all their cultural and moral values intact? How many of us have remained with the whole family in the same city where we were born throughout our lives? It takes 36 hours from Mumbai to Chennai by train. You will reach there earlier if you take a flight from New York.

People say its highly unfair that you get all your education in India, sponsored by all sincere tax payers in the country (though its a minority its their money that funds public universities! - my sympathies for them) and finally end up working for foreign companies and pay taxes to foreign governments. Sounds bad right? But we need to realize that its the NRIs who bring invaluable dollars(and other currencies too) back home! Its this inflow of foreign currency into the Indian banks (regulated by RBI) that boosts the value of our Rupee in the international market! So please dont accuse the 'selfish' NRIs all the time!

At present, Indians are settled in almost every corner of the world. No matter which country you goto you are bound to bump into a Desi. We are there everywhere! (Well, so are the Chinese!) People who left our country have fought the toughest battles and achieved so much in every aspect of life and made the presence of India be felt globally! We work in every big Multi-National Company there could possibly be, do astounding research in every ground-breaking research lab you could think of, teach at the best universities in the world, lead big projects in International Banks! Does it make you feel proud?

We have sent a clear message to the world, 'We are here to stay!' and this has happened only because the best of our talents - able administrators, skilled researchers, enterprising entrepreneurs, industrious CEOs and last but not the least, all the hard-working souls from India have been contributing to the progress of the nation, both from inside and outside.

To make your home the best, you need to do two things,
1. Clean up and organize the inside
2. Go out, look at other homes and give back what our home still lacks in.

Lets do the same for our homeland! People have started. All that we need to do is lend our hands!

Think about it...

And the next time someone says going to US is just for self-centered personal gains, direct them to this blog!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A little PUSH!

I dint want to do this. I told others it was a waste of time. I felt people had better things to do in life.

But here I am finally! Just another guy who is not sure who he is, sees life in his own perspective, has his own 'complicated' way of doing things, confused and confusing... basically fit to blog!

SMS, blogging, social networking, gaming... these have turned out to be the 'cant-live-without' essentials of life for so many these days! I have seen people forget to even brush their teeth in the morning but just logon to facebook and orkut! (Well most of them never go offline in the first place!)

People want to stay connected, informed and the 'cyber-world' has provided them just the thing! The powerful impact the internet and TV has had on our lives is just enormous. You can just do so many things never imagined before!

But as we all know, with great potential comes great trouble too! Most of us yearn for a break even without doing any work! Just the process of thinking about work exhausts us! We just have too many distractions to keep us entertained. We all love wasting our time, dont we? :)

Its addiction, its a disease that just spreads like wildfire, it makes distances vanish, it unites us all in no time, it is pure madness!

As 'you-know-who' aptly said,

'Madness is like gravity! All that it needs is a little PUSH!' :)

So forget yourself. Go mad!