Monday, March 08, 2010

Links ...

  1. Pratap Bhanu Mehta in The Indian Express: Freedom's Our Defence:

    A lot of representations of religion are needlessly gratuitous. But if we legitimise the taking of offence there will be more provocations, not less. The law should send a clear message that we live in a world where people cannot be protected from assorted things like Danish cartoons, Husain paintings, burqa lampoons or speculative novels on godly love. And religious believers commit the ultimate blasphemy by thinking that they need to protect their gods rather than their gods protecting them.

  2. Rahul Basu at As I Please: The Tripos and Us:

    Since the Tripos was impossible to 'max' without adequate practice, a whole alternate system of education cropped up around it. These were the coaching classes. Private coaches, for handsome fees, would coach you, not in the subtleties of mathematics but in how to take the Tripos. They would pour over old exams, make useful notes for solving problems, give you hours of practice all for the single minded purpose of taking the Tripos -- what someone called codifying mathematical knowledge into neat bundles. [...] The workload for students who took these mind numbing coaching classes was prodigious. For them, attending their usual lectures was a luxury they could ill afford. According to the famous mathematician J. E. Littlewood, himself a Senior Wrangler, one had to spend two thirds of the time practising solving difficult problems against time. Students frequently ignored the course material, in order to concentrate on the Tripos and hence the coaching classes. Hardy himself was coached by the legendary R. R. Webb, a 'producer' of many Senior Wranglers.

  3. Rahul Siddharthan at E's flat, ah's flat too: On Mastery and Singlemindedness:

    Most of the great Indian scientists I can think of were multidisciplinary. Visveswarayya had an extraordinary range of civil engineering achievements, from irrigation to flood protection to roadways. Jagdish Chandra Bose made significant contributions to plant physiology, membrane biophysics, and other fields, and is now recognised as Marconi's predecessor in wireless communication. C V Raman made contributions in light scattering, acoustics of musical instruments, crystal dynamics and properties. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar was famous for switching fields every ten years and achieving mastery of the new field: he wrote classic books on stellar structure, stellar dynamics, radiative transfer, plasma physics, and hydrodynamics. Yet Ramanujan seems to capture the popular imagination much more than these figures. His is a unique and romantic story, but should not be held up as an example to follow. He is not someone who broke the rules after first having mastered the rules: he seems to have never learned the rules, but achieved mastery all the same.

    To me, "mastery" does not imply "singlemindedness". Nor does it imply remaining in the same field all one's life. And, in fact, I think Sachin Tendulkar is an excellent example of the former point, and I suspect he will continue to be an important figure in whatever he chooses to do after he retires from cricket.

  4. Ludwig at Ships, Shoes, Sealing Wax: WTF, Honorable Supreme Court of India? No excepts here; just read his post, you'll also go WTF.


  1. Vikas Gupta said...

    You may like this story: a student visiting CSIR is kidnapped and released! I will not spoil it by revealing the plot. Do read it and ignore it if you already know the story