June 26, 2012

A Rough Guide to crack BITSAT in one or two - three months.

      Folks, I am posting this up on my blog just so that everyone can avail the benefit of reading through my experience of taking a shot at BITSAT, the admission test to the integrated first degree programs at the Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad campuses of the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS).



    BITSAT which was recently declared to be India’s most competitive entrance exam. The finer points of the guide will be mostly oriented towards Goan students but the post as a whole will be relevant to all. Firstly, let me brief you up on my preparations for the given exams so that you have a better perspective of how I geared up for the examination. I did not attend any JEE level coaching classes but primarily depended on the AIEEE level tuition center that I used to go to, the internet and my higher secondary school for my source of knowledge. Yes, I did top my higher secondary in the 11th but I did have my share of fun too. I used to read a lot on the sciences, do experiments but never overdosed on problem solving. As the test is based on the 11th and 12th standard NCERT syllabus, I had a jolly time.           As my 12th standard took over and the hectic preparations took kept me occupied for a major part of the day, I’d still not say that I was strictly serious with respect to my studies and I don’t regret it. Right since the 8th standard I wanted to do research in Physics and was mentally prepared to do only that. So, after checking out all the institutes in India, having interacted with many of the Physics faculty at the Goa campus of BITS and finding out that my research interests were on the same lines, I zeroed in on BITS. 
    Now here is the crazy part. Besides my boards, the only exam that I decided to give was BITSAT because I was singly focused and I knew what I wanted (not that I was over-confident). I did not answer the JEE, the AIEEE or even the CET. It was a risk that I took since I completely understood the implications of my actions, if I were to fail. I do NOT recommend you to do the same as you might not meet with the same fate as mine.
     Goa board students please note that you are not supposed to neglect or downplay the board examinations if you are gunning for BITS. Believe me, the board examinations test essential skills required in science and leave the rest to be tested by the competitive exams. Take care not to mess up on your internals. If it wasn’t natural to you, please learn to maintain good relation with your teachers (that should have gone unsaid, but still) and prepare well for the Boards. One has to get an average of 75 marks out of 100 in PCM to be eligible to admission to any BITS campus. I started preparing for my BITSAT seriously right after my boards got over. In fact, I had a little less than 2 months time left for my BITSAT. But still, I crossed the line.
     I ended up getting a comfortable 304 marks on the examination. As of the 2011 cut-offs I can get any of the branches at the Goa campus (obviously Hyderabad too!) and all the MSc courses at the Pilani campus. But obviously, I shall go for the MSc Physics at Goa. Believe me folks, with efforts in the right direction, the task becomes easy. The best advice one can give is to tell you to stick to the prescribed syllabus.

     The exam is held on a computer for a duration of 3 hours. Be sure to select a decent date and time. The time of the day plays a very important role. You don’t want to be answering on a full or a completely empty stomach, do you? Goans, be prepared to face the AC chills while answering, dress accordingly.  
     The exams has 150 questions, divided as mentioned below. With a total duration of 180 minutes, you get 72 seconds per question, which is marginally less than what one would face at other exams. You get +3 for every correct answer and a –1 for every wrong answer. So keep in mind that the questions at BITSAT will be easy, but deceptively simple. They wish to make you panic and let you yourself do the damage while panicking. It is a race against time, to frame it in a better manner. Also remember that the questions are randomly generated and no two people will get the same set of questions. So, it does depend on your luck. But prepare so well that no luck can cause you harm!! That is the essence of the spirit. One needs to be mentally tough and have a good strategy!
     Also, BITSAT has this unique feature of allowing a candidate to answer extra 12 questions to better his score even more. Below is a quote from the BITS website.

“If a candidate answers all the 150 questions (without skipping any question), the candidate will have an option of attempting 12 (twelve) extra questions, if there is still time left. These extra questions will be from Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics only; four questions from each part. Further, once the candidate has opted for extra questions, he cannot go back for correction of any of the earlier answered 150 questions.”
Here is what I went in the time strategy! Adapt it to your strengths and weakness.

Subject Questions Time I thought of giving
English & Logical Reasoning 15+10=25 10 -15 minutes
Chemistry 40 20 - 30 minutes
Physics 40 30 - 40 minutes
Mathematics 45 60 - 90 minutes
 
    Now, I shall go on to the in-depth details regarding the preparation that I did in the given time-frame. You may mould it to your convenience. The more the time you have, the more the chances you have of turning the game in your favor!

Chemistry : Be thorough with your NCERT chemistry textbooks, be as perfect as you can with them. Research on the tiny details in inorganic chemistry as the questions obviously try to pick you on your knowledge of that part of the text that is less frequented.. The questions asked in Physical chemistry are of the textbook level and so are the questions asked under the organics section. Do the extra content given in the BITSAT syllabus. Stuff like dyes, petrochemicals might help you in scoring high. Especially stereochemistry and configurations (I had 3-4 of the questions on these topics). Questions on biomolecules, CEL, Polymers are asked frequently. You might hate inorganic chemistry like I did, but you can’t avoid the fact that it is real scoring once you put in regular efforts. Play cool at organics, I repeat. The questions are not difficult.  Others don’t and they loose out. Use that to your benefit. No pain, no gain. Chemistry if done well can change your fortunes. It always used to be a scorer for me.

Mathematics : Nothing can beat practice and we all know that. Try to attempt the easy questions on the test first. It is a very scoring strategy. Start revising XIth math content as soon as possible. Trigonometry, Cartesian geometry formulae can be easily forgotten. Hence, I beg of you to revise them from time to time. Knowing the general equations of anything and everything helps. Don't stick to formal solving. Use your brains and experience to squeeze the answer out of the question. Numerical substitution, trial and error methods work best in mathematics. Know the answers to common questions at the tip of your fingers. But always know how to obtain them too, for questions on BITSAT appear to be easy but are actually deceptive. Deceptively simple. When it comes to integration, try stuff like differentiating the options to get to the question as a back-up. As I didn’t have much practice, this was my weakest section overall. But such techniques saved my life.

Physics : Get your basics perfect. Yes, perfect. Also, your formulae. There is not much I can say besides that when it comes to Physics because almost any sort of question can be asked in this section.  Do go through NCERT texts once in your lifetime. I know that Goans tend to never ever touch them. But going by my experiences, these books are gems. And obviously, practice. I remember answering almost all of the questions in Physics on the test. Not many numerical questions, because of the time-frame hence you have to work out on the tricky conceptual questions. Use dimensional analysis and your common-sense to the maximum and also know where to stop using it.
English & Logical reasoning : Stuff that people tend to neglect the most and hence, suffer the most. One can’t pick up these skills in a day or two, sorry. So a lifetime of dedication might come in handy here. Higher secondary level English, please be good at it. There are some difficult vocabulary questions thrown in which you can’t deal with unless you are a voracious reader. Do regular practice on logical reasoning a few days before the test. Referring to the Arihant/MTG books on BITSAT should give you a clear idea on these topics.

      While test taking, DON'T Guess too much. ANSWER WHAT YOU KNOW. Leave what you do not know royally. Be confident and go for what you know. NEGATIVES KILL (remember deceptively simple?). Remember that. Don't even think of extra 12 questions, I say.  If there was one thing that saved my life at the end of the, it was this small tip.       Preferred order of answering to maximize marks : E&L>>C>>P>>M      Also, remember that this might not guarantee you success. Nothing besides efforts and sharpening brains can. Hope you know your plus points, limitations and goals. Dream, but only with firm feet. Don't take risks like I did. It might not always work. Start now. I'm not kidding. BITSAT isn't difficult if you know what to do.     Those Arihant/MTG BITSAT books are not so awesome, tend to confuse you on syllabus and level of questions asked. But try it if you want to, I used Arihant. It did help me when it came to Physics and inorganic chemistry. But was way out of line with its Organic Chemistry level just like MTG was with Math. Pearson's Guide to the AIEEE is cool. Again, concentrate only on what is in BITSAT syllabus (but as you'll be taking other exams,you'll have to stuff outside BITSAT anyways). Try tests from minglebox once done with preparations. The level is as good as that of the actual test. Also, download the official sample test from the site to be even more comfortable with the way of answering. What you do, will decide where you end up. Then no use repenting. Once your 12th standard is done and you make it to a good place, all the pain of efforts vanishes! Remember that there is no substitute for hard-work. It all depends on what efforts you put in as knowledge never goes waste! :)      Aha. I'd love to take questions over email or in the comments section. Do share for the benefit of all! I shall try to update it as soon as I remember any important detail. Do visit the BITS360 forum to get your queries sorted out!
Yours,
TheBiggerBang

Edit 1: I don't have much of a clue about which book to use for Maths because back in my time, I messed up in the same. If you have less time on hand, you probably should practice and pick up pace rather than run around trying to do something new. Also, it has been two years since I gave my exam. I do not posses the best of knowledge when it comes to books to be used. Edit 2 : I'm seriously happy that I am here. This is one of THE best places in India for pursuing theoretical physics. It's magical. Wishing you all the best! Let me know if this post helped you ace your BITSAT! Here is another article that I wrote on MSc. (Hons.) & duals.Edit 3 : I graduated :-)

(Special thanks to Kaushal Sahakari, Shambhavi Narvekar and Mihir Umarye for the valuable guidance that they provided me with!)

May 18, 2012

Tales of Love..

    Love love love. The whole world revolves around this word. Doesn’t it?

    They say love can’t be defined. It can only be felt. And to each one, his own. The following is a attempt by me and a few friends of mine to interpret the word ‘Love’ and what it means to them.

Read on, enjoy. And don’t forget to let us know what is your take on Love!
_____________________________________________________________________

Kashyap Keni

“Whenever wherever if ever you need me,
A day when you fumble,
I'll be there.


When the tides turn toward you,
And the skies start to rumble,
I'll be there.


When troubles surround you,
And the demons have found you,
Or just when you stumble,
I'll be there.

If you can't help but fall,
Just give me a call,
I'll run to you come hell and all,
Together we tumble,
And I'll be there.

So your never alone,
Never ever,
I'll be there, forever.
Even when I begin to crumble.”

_____________________________________________________________

 Maithili Kamat Shankhwalker

       Are all relationships selfless? Is there any relationship which asks for nothing? And gives everything?

The answer to that is just one : parents!

       The relationship parents share with their kids! How long does it take them to start loving us? Not more than one look at the new born baby, and they know it's theirs! Even before we are born, they start dreaming about this important and very gentle phase of their lives, parenthood! It's the purest form of a relationship! They just want us to be happy! That is all that they think of! How to keep us happy, all throughout our lives! Seeing us cry, brings tears to their eyes, and so does seeing us smile! This phase is full of simple feelings of love, yet, they cannot be explained! The most beautiful and selfless feelings ever.

     Why selfless? Our parents cannot choose. They can't ask for the kind of kids they want. They can just love their kids unconditionally! No matter what happens. They try to make us better, but have they ever told us to change who we are? Unconditional. Are we the best kids on earth for our parents? Yes we are! They let us take our risks, make mistakes! But why? It hurts them the most when they see us fall! When they see us cry! But they want us to be responsible! They want us to learn! To live. They are our teachers. We see all their actions, know what they have done for us since the day we were born! Can we explain their actions? We can't, can we?

 1 month: Staying awake whole night with the little angel on her lap, singing, so that the baby can sleep well, peacefully.

 1 year: Holding her tiny fingers, they make her walk, while their eyes are filled with tears. 

2 years: She runs behind him, the little feet that run away from food.

 3 years: He wipes her tears when the spoon from her 'cooking set' goes missing. 

4 years: She gets him ice-cream when he has a bruised knee!

5 years: She guides her little hands through the ABC's...

6 years: He runs behind his princess, holding on to the back of her cycle, and suddenly withdraws his hands, praying that she doesn't fall..

7 years: Her lips break into a smile when she sees her little doll use her lipstick..

8 years: He decides to duck a little so that his champion can score a goal..9 years: her thunderous claps when her little dancer leaves the stage...

10 years: He quietly cleans the glass pieces of the vase, targeted by the cricket ball...all for his little cricketer. 

11 years: She works throughout the night on a project, while her daughter is sound asleep. 

12 years: A new bike followed by "you are the best dad in the world"!! 

13 years: Her first venture in the kitchen. The sweetness of a sugarless coffee. Just plain love. 

14 years: Unstable steering, his hands meet his father's, who takes control - his first drive. 

15 years: When she is granted permission to go out for dinner, even  before she asks for it..last day of high school..

16 years: Entering a new world, life, as the words "good luck" escape their lips..

17 years: Another phase of our life gets over. Higher Secondary. We cry because we won't see our friends again. But when we turn and look behind, we get reminded of the fact that our parents will always be there for us. Selflessly wanting us to keep smiling.

Our parents, the biggest part of our little world. Our love.

_____________________________________________________________________

Vinaya Chandiramani

     Love in four months? You’re probably laughing right now. But I’ll tell you, it was more than love. 10th September, 2009 is when I first saw him. Black (racist?) with little brown eyes, he was a tiny scared puppy – a mix of a Doberman and an Alsatian. A puppy, who probably ran away from home, reached my maid’s house, who promptly brought him here. It wasn’t love at first sight. But friendship, yes.

    I named him Sprite. My dad, however, wanted him to have an Indian name, like Gajanan, but he settled for Sprite eventually. Sprite and I became best friends in a week. He’d know as soon as I got up in the morning, I’d walk him a little and then we’d both sit and have our glasses of milk. He was just like a real person. He felt every emotion, except sadness. Sprite was never sad. I could talk to him about anything, and he’d know EXACTLY how I felt. When I’d cry, he’d put his little black head on my lap and lick my hand till I’d stop crying. He’d jump around and lick my face if I was happy. Every night, I’d hum him a lullaby and he’d fall asleep with his blanket. We shared food, and other stuff that will always be special to me.

    Then time came to give him away because we couldn’t take care of him anymore. A week before this happened, I sat with him late at night, and before I knew it, he’d fallen asleep on my lap. I didn’t wake him.

    Saying goodbye was too hard. Sprite-oo cookie, you were, are and always will be the best friend I’ve ever had. And if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.

_____________________________________________________________________ Model : Pooja Pai :P

A feeling that brings a smile on your face.

- Me, Midastouch.

May 14, 2012

The Kitten’s Lair

    This ballad was much due to be posted on the blog. Experimenting with writing styles, I must say is fun! Seems like the more simple you keep it, the more of a smile it puts on your face.

Kitten

A call, all that I was waiting for.

Walk to the beach with her.

Dancing with the muddled integrals,

Sleep, my vertical asymptote to the heavens.

 

A call was all that came,

That excited voice, spirited bliss.

Not for the walk, but for a talk.

Or, was that a meow?

 

She’d found a kitten, downstairs.

With the golden ball of fur,

Was she always in love.

Loving her back was the kitten.

 

He cuddled, he scratched.

He shivered and quivered.

Love, cookies and some milk,

Put the squeaky purrs to sleep.

 

Never had she kept a kitten before,

In the laundry basket, hidden.

What if it dirties, I asked.

Paved way to her lovely giggles.

 

The kitten licked,

And it got heftily kissed.

They come once,

Get treated like a king.

 

A week or two, the kitten lived

She thought, or did she not?

A month it must be,

I judged from experience.

 

Of experience I talk,

A million pups and kittens.

Brought home with love,

Only to face my mother’s wrath.

 

Didn’t expect hers to be,

Any different from mine.

Oh, the call that was on,

Had to end. Bye.

 

The meows don’t end here,

For, there she called again.

The twilight talks,

Venus and the moon overlook.

 

Her mom, true to my words,

Didn’t love the sight of fur.

A little more milk,

And the kitten lost its lair.

 

The kids downstairs played,

The tabby nearby preyed.

With her, on her.

Mercy and care, she had.

 

The kitten soon found,

Her body was nothing but,

A wonderland, a playground.

Soft paws and scratches galore.

 

The kitten, an obedient child.

Followed her mother, the girl.

On the way up the stairs,

Twice or thrice.

 

Another call, in delight.

Another meow is what I here,

She loves him, and them all.

I knew by now.

 

I wanted to help,

I wish I could.

Time to let him go,

It inevitably came.

 

The watchman, a kind guy

I wish that he is,

Took him, his home.

Lair, was it regained?

 

The girl felt bad, cried.

I wouldn’t stop her.

For, I million times I have.

A million lost their lairs.

 

~ LeBiggerBang et LaMyth

27 January 2012

April 22, 2012

Quickie.

    It has been two months since I last blogged. Maybe more than that. Blame the exams and my busy life. Leave all that aside for a moment. Let me get to the point. Allow me to make it random. Questions and a stanza or two await you.

   This is a quickie. I’m desperate to write. ___________________________________________________________

“You are like a blank paper. Blank.

You speak of nothing, tell no tales.

I would fall for it that you came from a rock.

 

But then I know, you were once a tree.

Lush and full of life to spare.

Can I ever get you back there?”

 

     Is equality a law of nature? Is the world fair and equal to one and all? One nice quote.

“Being nice to the world and expecting it to treat you the same is like being an vegetarian and expecting a tiger to spare your life for that reason.”

    I have conflicts in my mind whether equality truly exists. Billions of people are born in the world. Some die within a year and those who survive, well they just survive. A very few live. Think of those who died before they could even give their parents the joy of hearing their baby’s first word. Or those innocents who were massacred in an act of war. Or swept away in a tsunami. I ask, what was their crime?

    Go on. Tell me they committed a sin in their previous lifetime. Go on, invoke rebirth. Tell me that the purpose they served was to highlight the plight of the hungry and the destitute all over the world. I ask, why choose them, these innocent mortals to bring the issue to the attention of fellow humans. Why this inequality in choosing who dies? Sacrifice? For what? A piece of land which you think belongs to you just because it is on paper? Sigh. We are not different, are we? Yet we are not equal. Now blame it on the creator’s plans will you? Spare him. Spare him the blame. You know who is the culprit.

    Go on, kill the animals, eat them just because they are tasty. And helpless too! I ask, who has given you the right to kill other living beings if you can survive otherwise? And why shoot a lion if it tries to survive off you, then? Why this inequality? Don’t bother to think, is that your escape? Try.

    Who are we? Why do we act like the boss, when we know we are not?

   I am not frustrated. I’m simply crying from within. I am just like you. I am guilty. And I’m trying to make you feel the same. No offence.

    I think the following piece from my Facebook Timeline speaks volumes about what I consider as the truth. Right click and zoom to read the text comfortably.

   Mind bogglin'

   Yes, I do believe we are here without a purpose and I build up on the stand I take in the last few lines of my previous post, Being Human. We might be an accident. But how much of an accident are we?
     The discussion brings me to another crucial junction but it involves a detour. Are we puppets who are here to enact a story that is already written? Or are we the master of our future? Herein, lies the great free will v/s determinism debate. Let’s see what science has to say. Mind you, I am no expert but I shall try my best to give you a rough idea.

  •   Determinism

  You must have surely heard about Einstein’s theories of relativity. Take the General theory of relativity. What evolved from it is the idea that the universe is like a loaf of bread. Each slice, representing a still of the universe at a given point in time. So, different slices show you how the universe is at different moments of time. This is known as a block universe. This, is where the past, the present and the future all exist. What do I mean by ‘they all exist’? Well, they all are equal. They all ‘exist’ in their own right. It is just that you experience a different slice which you call ‘now’ or ‘present’.

   Suppose there eventually is a ‘theory of everything’, that is something like a formula that you chug in all the information about the universe in and given enough computational power, you will be able to see the past or the future as the laws of nature don’t change over time. Well, that means your future is already out there. You are just walking towards it. What is to happen, will happen. And you are already immortal. Death won’t affect your existence as they frames of time you were ‘alive’ in, they all exist!

  •  And Otherwise

   I pretend you must have heard about quantum mechanics too. It is the theory that governs the minute domain. The funniest part with the theory is that is mathematically beautiful, and it is very much true to real world observation but no one knows for sure what the math means! No one knows the physical significance of the math! So, many people came up with different interpretations of a single observation.

    The observation is somewhat like this. When a tiny tiny (does that make it cute?) particle goes from a point A to another point B, you just can’t tell what path it took. Straight, curved or maybe around the moon. Suppose a ideal train was to travel from Mumbai to Delhi, knowing its speed you could tell where the train is without actually having any contact with the train. On the contrary, you just can’t say anything about where the particle is until and unless you detect it. That’s nature.

   Also, you should know that every particle has something called a ‘wavefunction’ associated with it. A wavefunction is supposed to contain all the information that one has to know about the particle.

    The Copenhagen Interpretation says that when an act of ‘observation’ is carried out, the particle is forced to assume a particular position, it is no longer vague. This is known as the wavefunction collapse. That is, the probability of finding the particle at the place it is detected is unity.

    Another interpretation, which is steadily gaining steam is the Many Worlds Interpretation. At every event with an inherent uncertainty attached to it, the universe splits or forks into many more universes. Every quantum possibility is realised albeit in a different world. The universe, is not deterministic in a philosophical manner. I won’t go to the length of relating this to free will, though. But I do hope you get the gist of what I am trying to lay before you.

     That is, the sort of contrasting views about what exactly is happening. Scientists are yet to figure out what the truth is. Do read up on this from reliable sources if you are interested in knowing more as I am afraid I might have over-simplified it.

  But wait.

Wasn’t I supposed to be here doing only a quickie?

Ah, the damned diversions!

 

Yours,

Thebiggerbang.

January 25, 2012

Being Human.

      Not blogging for the past few weeks felt as if my philosophical Photo0366side had gone into a hibernation mode. So here I am, all set to revive myself. To digest that much needed the food for thought that I have chewed upon all these days. Exams, provide us with more than enough on our platter. Like everybody else, we make grand plans that vanish in a puff as soon as the exams get over. Most notably, the grand promise of taking a long nap the day the last paper gets over. It never happens with me, blogging being my priority. Sharing my thoughts is a passion.
       Often, small worries get us down. Be them missing out an answer in an examination or a cell-phone that we want. In this post, let me delight you, excite you and take you on a journey where we shall together explore what it is being human. Seldom does a passing thought get directed towards issues regarding the basis of our very own existence and how special it might turn out to be. There is the science and there is the philosophy behind our existence. Let the journey begin.
        Being born is quite an event. No wonder our entire family tree is jubilant when that happens. I remember reading a text saying that whenever we face trouble, we should recall the fact that once upon a time our origins are to be attributed to that one sperm that won the race. But does the ‘being lucky’ part starts right there? I think that there is more that we miss out on.
     If I were to write an acknowledgement or make an acceptance speech at the Oscars Nobel Prize giveaways, maybe be list would run like this.
  • I would like to thank the universe for creating itself out of nothing. Possibly.
  • I thank the laws of nature for being the way that they are. In fact, string theory allows for a vast number—10500—of possible ‘worlds’ with different self-consistent sets of laws and ­constants. Thank you for landing me in here!
  • I thank all those events that occurred for billions of years to get the universe to the state that it is currently in. 13.7 billion years to be specific. Cheers to all those stars that exploded and all those gases that ganged up to make up more stars and galaxies. From the innumerable quantum uncertainties to the explosive supernovae, thank you.
  • Cheers to Mother Earth for landing up in the habitable zone, the ‘Goldilocks zone’. Not to hot, not too cold.
  • How can I forget that comet which seeded the Earth with life? Or perhaps to life itself for coming into being from a random arrangement of molecules? A bolt of lightening? Thank you, whatever you were!
  • To evolution, those million years that gave us the tools of survival. These teeth and those eyes, minus the tail. And to whatever brought about consciousness, the state of being aware of your surroundings and influencing it at your own will.
  • To my entire family tree, right from the organisms that arose out of the primordial soup to my ancestors for mating with the right person. For doing all that they have done. As a matter of fact, every generation you climb up leaves you with twice the number of people to thank, it is an exponential increase since we started mating sexually. I too plan to keep up your hard work and keep the wheels moving on!
  • Ah. Finally to that damn sperm that was lucky enough to find itself home. One in a million. That reminds me, one in a million sperm won every time your ancestors mated!
   Anybody game for calculating the probability of you having ended up here? The number zero will be given a run for its money. This brings me to unveil before you a beautiful quotation by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger who has indulged in considerable philosophy.
How would we express in terms of the statistical theory the marvellous faculty of a living organism, by which it delays the decay into thermodynamical equilibrium?  The device by which an organism maintains itself stationary at a fairly high level of orderliness, really consists in continually sucking orderliness from its environment.
     If that was a bit tough to chew on, let me elaborate. All he meant to say is that life is something that ‘miraculously’ manages to keep itself going on despite the odds being tremendously against it. What strikes you the first, when I tell you think about life? A picture of a micro-organism or perhaps, your very own arduous struggle? Whatever it may be, we look at it in such a superficial manner that we forget to appreciate it and its workings. That is where, everything that came before the one-in-a-million sperm gets forgotten. Sometimes, the poor sperms gets forgotten too. Sad, isn’t it?
      10500 and counting. That is a one followed by a five hundred zeros. So, the question asked by many learned folks is whether we, humans occupy a special place in the universe or whatever that there is. Whether, this universe was set in motion with the right ingredients just so that one day, we could walk on this land and appreciate its beauty, maybe bring about our own end. After all, what is the use of a universe when there is no one to observe an appreciate it? Or is it that we are just an outcome of chance? Of a probability that is of mind bogglingly small magnitude. That, we just came to be, and do not posses any special position in the scheme of things. Sorry. The question is of chance versus choice is never-ending, as I have found out. It remains one of the hottest topic that we ever discussed at the observatory.
     The Anthropic principle advocates the first case. According to it, the universe has moulded and evolved itself in such a way that conscious beings ended up observing and understanding it. It created itself in such a way that it ended up getting observed. Because it wanted to be. This argument, toes the thin line between metaphysics and cosmology. People who argue for it cite the fact that the value of the fundamental constants are just they way that they are supposed to be. Not a little more, not a little less. They say that the selectivity the universe has shown for these constants clearly portrays the fact that it favoured carbon-based life. On the other hand, cosmologists argue that we might not be so special. Why would we have to be? We might just be stranded in a universe which itself exists in a multitude of universes. What is so special is the fact that we realise that we are here. And that we are stranded.
      Would it do wonders to you if you knew that you posses around a 100 atoms that once figured in Isaac Newton’s body? Or maybe Emperor Ashok? Yes, each and every one of us. We are a part of one big recycling machine known as the universe. But where did all of these atoms and the subsequent molecules come from? Have you ever wondered about that? The answer lies in the simple fact that we are made up of star-dust. You might find this gross, but when our food and excreta are fundamentally made out of the same basic atomic and even molecular constituents, why is that we mentally place them a world apart? Why do our associations and reactions to them differ? Just give it a thought. But don't radically change the way you think about food and poop. You will stop being human. Let me quote a small part of today’s The Speaking Tree column.
“In the divine game, One becomes many. Only the One exists, as truth, as consciousness, light and love. But the play scripted by the Divine is one where not only does One become many but many become One. Oceans, rivers, mountains, streams, everything is One manifested as many.
The ocean has numerous waves; can we say that each wave has an identity independent of the ocean? The identity of the wave exists because of the ocean, just as life exists because of the divine. Each sun ray exists because of the sun. Therefore to declare, "This is my life," has no meaning. Because with forgetfulness and ignorance, the ray forgets that it came from the sun, and starts imagining that it is separate. Our situation is similar. As human beings we forget our origins and end up saying this is mine, or that I exist. It is the ego that makes you say so.
One becomes many, and the many live on in ignorance. No sooner do they lose their ignorance, than they will feel that they are part of the One, the only One which exists, and exists everywhere.”
    Being human comes with a truckload of benefits and naturally, worries. After all, nature provides for balancing all the good with some stuff bad. And we should accept that fact. What makes us humans so different from other living organisms? What quality of ours separates us? I used to think that empathy was the answer to the question. And that was, until I read this.
Sourced from www.presurfer.blogspot.com
    So, it might not be that empathy is the answer to that question. Do let me know if you think that there is any one characteristic that distinguishes us from other living beings? I hope it isn’t something like hate, jealousy or the ability to self-destruct that is the answer. That would be real bad.
     I like to wonder upon how we have made such deep and complex forays into nature that we can relish a marvellous piece of music and understand what seems to be random tapping of keys on a keyboard that eventually you can see with your eyes, decipher and understand. Smile in the end, perhaps. Creations right from the arts, sports and philosophies enrich our lives.  Humans have a powerful tool in their hands; they are called feelings. What follows is a innocent and simple poem that one of one my friend, Maithili Shankhwalker wrote a few years ago.

How do I pen down feelings?
They actually mean a lot
But writing them down on a paper
Have you given this a thought?
 
If you come to think of it
Feelings are not a few
Every now and then your feelings
Are something new.
 
One sweet feeling is
The feeling of love…
It’s not a feeling that can go away,
With just a shove.
 
An unavoidable one is
Of happiness which we all feel
Even if it’s a feeling of grief,
Time will heal.
 
The dangerous ones are of desire and hatred
They are as destructive as fire and ice,
To destroy relationships and life
Either of them would suffice.
 
How can I forget the one of jealousy?
We all feel it once in a while
The feeling makes us really self-centred and
With it we can’t even walk a mile.
 
The feeling of superiority
Can do no good.
It only makes you egoistic and
A whole lot rude.
 
Its antonym inferiority
Is also no way positive
It just makes you under confident
And very very sensitive.
 
The feeling of forgiveness
Makes us divine
It brings out the good in others
Making them shine.
 
The feeling of sympathy
Paves way for the values of care and concern
It makes us human
And takes away qualities like treason.
 
The feeling of confidence that we have in us,
Gives us self motivation.
Helps us in fulfilling our dreams
And reaching our destination.
 
The feeling of satisfaction
Is basically an experience of fulfilment
It makes us happy,
And most of all, content.
 
The feelings of guilt and repentance
Would have made me feel defeated
If I had not penned down the poem
That I have just completed.
      Right from love to hate, boredom to excitement we all do experience them. Feelings are universal, in whatever language you bother to describe them. Isn’t it wonderful that you saw your life flash past you as you read the poem? How the author successfully conveyed the truth about feelings? We often take such beautiful things for granted. Again, it is human to do so. Isn't it?
     I can very well understand the fact that this blog-post must have made your mind feel quite worked up and although I can go on and on, let me top it of with some thought for you to take home!
      We humans, we are not born here to be judged by the means of any tool. Be it an exam or prejudice by another human. We are born to be and live a life for ourselves. They say, we are not born with a silver spoon in our mouth and nor do we take one with us when we die. We come from the dust and end up in the same dust. The very little time that we have to spend here, should be made as beautiful as possible. For us, for the others who undertake a journey called life alongside us. Leave nothing to repentance, for you only live once. Like like a child, I say. Yes, these days the supposed God of Death says that in a TV commercial. He might not exist, but makes a correct statement. Live to inspire others to live. Even if you fail one day or the other, accept it. Learn from your mistakes and let go of them. If you have inspired someone, you shall have the satisfaction of seeing that someone do great in life. Isn’t satisfaction all that we live for?
     Male or female, why do we draw lines? John Lennon rightly askes to imagine a world with no religion, a world without borders and countries. Wouldn’t that be in the true essence of the universe? We all come with a purpose to fulfil is what some say. If you don’t believe in that, remember that probability that brought you here. Create your own purpose. It was not your choice to be born to the parents or the place that you were born in. The other way round, your parents didn’t get to choose what kind of child they got. It is a fair game, this life. For, we all are gifted with blank paper to write the story of our own choice.
 
You are given the chance to be a human.
A chance to be special.
A chance to be YOU.
Live it up like a boss.
 
Live it up as if it is 
thebiggerbang!
No copyright infringement of images intended.

January 3, 2012

2011 : The year that was.


The year bygone,
Piled bricks on my wall.
The wall of life, Unlock the future!
Remains stronger than ever.

Like a river,
Time flows unhindered.
Some drowned, and sank.
While others learnt to swim.

Battles were fought,
We were winners and losers, both.
Lessons to learn and teach,
So let’s turn a page,
Unlock the future.
  
     The year 2011 was one of the best cycle of 365 days that I went through for reasons more than one. In this post, I try to scribble in a few lessons that I learnt this year. A few experiences and milestones in brief with the sole intention of leaving it up to the reader to connect and relate the cited experiences with what they have undergone. For, my life is an open book.
In random order :
  1. Loving silence and preferring to be lonely doesn’t always mean that you are depressed. You seek peace. It is one’s nature.
  2. I left behind the times when poems used to flow only in times of sadness.
  3. As the audience at a workshop, I realized that if a speaker goes on explaining his work undisturbed by the discomfort in the audience, he is in love with what work he does.
  4. To do science, it is a pre-requisite to have an open mind and not a degree from college.
  5. A story always has two sides. If not, then it isn’t a story! Always support the right side of it and not the one you can easily relate and sympathize with.
  6. I learnt that one can be easily taken for a ride and then told that the friendship was mistaken for love.
  7. While trying to estimate a person’s quality, don’t listen to your prejudice. Experience the person before passing a mental verdict.
  8. I learnt that if you don’t find a reason to explain what you are doing, stop doing.
  9. The best quotes strike you when you have a bath or answer nature’s long calls.
  10. To swim against the tides, you have to be in the water. Can’t avoid getting wet and dirty.
  11. People are waiting to be discovered. Places and things too. You have to make efforts to break the ice. You might just be shocked with what you find! I was.
  12. Signalling to people to switch off their headlights during day-time is now as natural to me as breathing is.
  13. I learnt that classical music and the oldies deserve as much respect, if not more than the new hits. Music is music, today or tomorrow.
  14. Finally I drilled in myself the fact that if my fundamental thoughts and ideologies don’t match with a person, trying to maintain a relation beyond a greeting is like hunting for a living dinosaur.
  15. I tried and tried, but still forgot that ‘i’ comes before ‘e’. Or is it the other way round??
  16. I was exposed to philosophy, psychology and spirituality. They have revamped me and my thoughts.
  17. Steve Job’s death, reading ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ and obsessive thinking brought me closer to death, but not dying.
  18. I was saddened by the fact that I no longer was entitled to ‘return gifts’ at birthday parties but happy that I was exempt from those silly games. Yay!
  19. I learnt how to shave on my own. YouTube helped me a lot!
  20. I realised that science is closer to life than we think. It is life itself.
  21. I ended up respecting all the ‘M’s in my life. Mom (Madhavi), Mushtifund, MIT and a Mystery.
  22. No, I haven’t got into MIT as yet. But applying itself was worth it. Getting selected as I learnt, will be just an added bonus for being a good boy.
  23. The lyrics don’t make you fall in love with a song. It is what meaning that you see in them that drive you gaga. (pun unintended)
  24. I learnt from all my mistakes. I learnt so much that I don’t repent making the mistakes. My mistakes decide what person I end up being. Yet, they remain unintentional.
  25. If you act like a bag full of agonies, people will stop lifting up you and your spirits soon.
  26. I observed that it is no use cursing the place or perhaps the parents you were born to. It was not your choice. But what you end up doing in your life, what you make out of it is all in your hands.
  27. Everyone has their own definition of ‘love’. I learnt that I can voice out mine, but no use preaching it. Others value their own opinions as much as you value yours. Respect, understanding and trust is all that is required.
  28. I asked for it, and I got a Beatles song for my mood.
  29. Blogs and friendships. I realized that not updating them despite valuing them is a sin. If you can’t find any value, free yourself of the burden!
  30. I found a lot of other weirdoes like myself. Hence, I realised that I love being alone because I know I am not!
  31. I tried and succeeded at making people who cry, laugh.
  32. I decided to start questioning everything. Relating the behaviour of people to the sciences is fun!
  33. I learnt to share, say a sorry and throw in a thank-you from the bottom of my heart.
  34. I once told a person that I don’t want to keep the person forever with me, I just want to be with him/her.
  35. I learnt how to turn teachers into friends and use my friends as teachers for life.
  36. I learnt that symmetry is elegant and beautiful. Mathematics talks to us!! We all love it. Hence, I decided to end this list at item number 62. For now, that is!
Do let me know which one was your favourite or what is that we had in common for the last year! There is not going to be any apocalypse this year. If there is, sue me in heaven if it exists. With love, Thebiggerbang
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Me, Midas Touch by Raj Kunkolienkar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at imidastouch.blogspot.com
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