A Yardstick to Remember…..

Drinks Menu
The menu I described looks something like this!

On February 2008, I went to meet a friend of mine who happened to reside in a different city. We went out to many places and in the evening at the dinner table of a famous restaurant at the heart of that city, we were given two menus. One was for food and the other one was for liquor. I jokingly said that I need to order white wine. She immediately snapped saying, “Pleasant! If you order anything from that menu, I will never ever talk to you again!

I just smiled but something within me said that I shouldn’t order drinks because it will hurt her feelings and I didn’t order anything from that menu. Even for a long time after that incident, I didn’t feel like drinking because whenever I thought of it, her face came to my mind. She never liked people who drank and a few months later, there was a retrospect of this incident and she mentioned that probably it is because of the strength of our relationship that I refrained from drinking for that long. (Why I took up drinking again later on is a different story.)

Almost two years later, I mentioned this incident at the lunch table to my father. He started pulling my legs in her name immediately. I told him that it is not what he thinks and that we are just good friends. He was still making fun of me. Later my mom returned from school and asked what was going on. My dad started the leg pulling again. He said that either this girl is a true friend of Pleasant or she has some strong feelings for him. I said probably it is the former. He then asked me to read the essays of Sir Francis Bacon. He said that those essays describe the characteristics of a true friend.

Image of Sir Francis Bacon

A Portrait of Sir Francis Bacon

I read the essays and learned a lot of theoretical aspects of friendship. But that is not the subject of my post today. Today’s post is about another quote of mine. Just like any other quote, it came out instantly during a conversation. Let me describe the incident. This August, I went out with one of my close friends to a pub near Atlantis. It is called Silica and it is one of the best drinking destinations in Kochi.

Mojito is my favorite cocktail. It tastes so good and you can actually drink a lot of it without passing out. I liked it ever since I first tasted it at OPM Dance Bar in Chennai. Anyway we ordered two Mojito and started chatting. Just then a guy came and sat at the sofa on the other side. About 10 minutes later, a girl wearing yellow churidar, arrived and walked towards this guy. While passing us, she gave me a quick stare. There was this friend of mine who studied with me in KV. He was a ladies man and he taught me that whenever a girl stares at you, just stare back at her the same way.

Her gesture reminded me of his advice and I also returned a stare of the same degree. She had an average looking face. But she was fair and moderately plump with fantastic assets. Anyway, after we exchanged stares, she went and sat with the other guy. Unfortunately, there was a wall preventing me from having a full view but I was still able to see the girl. I was happy because who wants to see the guy anyway? Once they ordered drinks, they started getting busy.

Mojito

Mojito - My Favorite Cocktail!

My friend was frustrated because he was not able to see any of these. After two rounds of mojito, my friend wanted to order something else. He ordered a different cocktail made of Kiwi Fruit and vodka. I got to taste it too. It was too sweet, so I continued with mojito.

My friend and I went to the same GRE coaching center “The Chopras”. So we were talking about the life in US and the universities we chose etc. He mentioned that he liked me very much because of my outlook towards life which in his opinion was different from others. He said that I am a person who spreads positive radiation. The only thing he didn’t approve of was my atheist point of view but more importantly since I am a good person, it was okay with him. I just smiled impressed by his sincere praise. I said sincere because there is an old adage which states that a drunk person cannot lie.

He liked my helpful attitude when it came to sharing useful information. I said that I didn’t like the attitude of our contemporary society regarding sharing information. It is true that we need to search for the information we want. But it is not good, if someone asks a question and we show attitude saying “why can’t you search?”. My point of view is that, if I have a useful information in my brain that can be helpful to others and also the time to explain it and that the information is not private or secret, then I should explain it rather than saying “please don’t mind, but you are supposed to search”. Only in extreme situations I ask people to do the search themselves. And it makes sense too. We learned in 5th grade that knowledge increases by sharing and I kind of follow that principle as much as I can.

Friendship

Friendship - An undefined relation!

The more we drank, the more he continued to praise me. The conversation then moved to relationships. He asked me whether I had ever loved someone. I told him that I had on multiple occasions. I was not in a mood to explain everything. Hence I gave a brief account of my past attempts to build relationships with women. From my conversation he understood that I don’t like feminazis. In fact he learned that I don’t actually like many of the new fangled forms of relationships in our society. I delineated many aspects of our evolving society which are currently undergoing a paradigm shift.

This prompted him to ask me what sort of relationship do we have between us and off came the answer from me “We should not define relationship. Because the moment we define, it will lose its beauty.” I said that there is no yardstick to measure the depth of a relationship. It is just what it is. He said, “Damn! You rock man!” and appreciated my philosophical point of view.

We finished our drinks and paid the check. I took a last glimpse of the love birds sitting on the other side before leaving. While returning home, I realized that there was a smile at the corner of my lips. And I knew that it was a smile of satisfaction that the nectar of the dreaming flower has again proven to be food for thought for another person!

The Vivekananda Decomposition – A New Type of Destructive distillation!

Destructive Distillation
Destructive Distillation of Coal

We learned about charcoal and coke during 8th grade but we didn’t learn how they are produced until 10th grade  when  our beloved Prema madam taught us the process of destructive distillation. I kind of liked the idea since the process reminded us of another experiment I conducted with my brother at home. Most ordinary light bulbs have a component inside that  resembles a miniature test tube which we have used to conduct experiments on projectile motion.

Filament
Inside of a light bulb

We found at an early age that the inflammable material at the tip of a match stick can be utilized to launch projectiles. My brother and I were introduced to the test tube like thing by our neighbors. We put the inflammable stuff inside it thing and compressed it from outside. When we applied heat at the open end of the tube, it shot forward like a bullet.

I thought that this tube could also be used for destructive distillation. Science freaks like my friend Shyamlal and I used to sit  in the class and mock spiritual concepts. In Hindi we were taught many lessons depicting stories of Buddha and Vivekananda. This is about an incident centered around a biographical lesson on Vivekananda and his contributions in our 10th grade Hindi text book.

Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda

The lesson was nice and at the end of it , there was a couple of paragraphs about his death. It was written that his body which was made of panch bhoot or five elements (earth, ether, fire, water and air) finally got separated from its soul and disintegrated into the earth. I was puzzled and asked Shyamlal who sat next to me “What does that even mean?”. He joked saying, “May be we can do a destructive distillation of his body to find out whether he is composed of panch bhoot!”. I stared at him for a while thinking about what to say.

It was a funny incident but it raised some fundamental questions in our minds. For instance, “Why do we still believe in pseudoscience even though we know that real science says something else?” “Why is it that yoga instructors and Ayurveda practitioners still preach about the vata, pitta and kabha doshas when the actual explanation of the symptoms in the body is different?”

My friend’s joke didn’t decompose Vivekananda. It instead decomposed our views on pseudo-scientific notions about the world around us! And now I like Vivekananda who caused this initiation.

Tasting God – A New Perspective!

Kung Fu!

Yesterday I visited my Kung Fu instructor who also works as a massage therapist. I wanted to buy some sandalwood oil for my hair from the shop adjoining his clinic. After his clients left, we sat down to talk. He asked me whether I still practiced Reiki. I said no and told him that I left my faith and became an atheist. He was surprised because he was deeply religious but also curious to know why I changed.

The Watchmaker Analogy

I started by refuting the Watchmaker Analogy. I told him in simple words that if complexity requires a designer, then that designer should be more complex than the object he designed thereby invoking the question of who designed the designer. He kind of agreed to it and asked me whether I believed that there is an edge to this universe. I told him that there are scientists who believe that there is and there are others who believe that there isn’t.

Young Charles Darwin

He wanted to pay his telephone bills so we walked to the payment center nearby. On our way I spoke about the various theories of life’s origin and how it evolved. He didn’t have any problem with evolution because he knows that there is ample evidence in support of it. I noticed that he believes in a God who initiated the big bang and intervenes in between to make necessary changes.

When we returned to the clinic, he brought up the subject of edge of the universe and asked me how I can say that there is no God(who happens to exist beyond space and time) when science hasn’t been able to find whether there is an edge to this universe or not. I told that if God existed, then he should in someway manifest himself in a measurable form. He countered by saying that we shouldn’t measure God by intellect.

An Orange

He then quoted an incident that occurred in a district which is about 300 km from our district. There was an atheist convention going on and the speaker challenged the audience to give a proof that there is a God. A person who was passing by heard this and he came upon the stage to take up the challenge. He had some oranges in his bag. He peeled an orange and ate it and asked the speaker whether it tasted sweet or sour. The speaker said, “How can I say whether it tasted sweet or sour? You are the one who tasted it“. The orange guy said, “This applies to God as well. You can’t tell whether the orange I tasted is sweet or sour unless you have tasted it as well. Similarly unless you taste God, you will never know him.” And he left the convention.

My instructor then continued with an experience from his own life in which he prayed hard to save his sister while she had some complications during her pregnancy. And he told that some priest who did not know his family was able to see through his inner eye that his sister needed help.

An example of the Scientific Method

Being a skeptic, it was hard for me to accept that a priest asked him to pray and that everything worked out well because of that. I was tempted to say that things would have gotten better anyway but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I held back. I proceeded in a different angle. I told him about the scientific method. I told him that unless a hypothesis put forward by a scientist is proven experimentally, it is just a hypothesis and no one would accept it as fact. When people predicted that atoms existed, there was no way to find out until Einstein came up with his results on Brownian motion. Similarly, the other predictions that have been confirmed.

String Theory – A possible unified theory of physics

I then told him that saying that a God created this universe is a scientific hypothesis and that if someone makes this hypothesis, then it has to be experimentally verified. He told that God is a being that cannot be measured by intelligence. But if he is indeed a “being” who “exists”, then his existence should be experimentally verifiable and until then it is just an untested hypothesis. I then went on and on with quark theory and string theory and all other theories and how some of these theories have been tested as true while others have not been verified and hence are just theories.

He finally said “Alright, let’s stop this discussion because it is an eternal debate.” I too agreed to him.

Life giving formula!

Electroplating in Copper Sulphate Solution

Yeah I know. You must be thinking I am crazy! But read on and you will find out what I mean. It is funny that I don’t exactly remember in which standard this story took place. It is probably 9th or 10th. I went to my friend Shyamlal’s house with my brother to work on our electroplating project. (There are actually multiple stories centered  electroplating which I plan to include in a different post.)

Molecular Structure of Sulfuric Acid

After working on the plating stuff for a while, we got bored and wanted to try something different. We took a wide plastic lid of a jar and added copper sulfate solution to it. I don’t remember what the second ingredient was. It was something of green color. To this green solution, we added a little sulfuric acid. Since we didn’t have a stirrer, we used a paint brush to stir the solution. This caused some of the bristles to come out of the brush and fall into the solution.

Brush Bristles – Ours were thinner than this though

We kept the solution for sometime and went to the terrace to play. Later on we came back inside and looked closely at the solution. To our horror, we found that the bristles were moving very slowly even though the solution was static. The motion was random, something that resembled the motion of a worm. We thought, “Oh my, this formula gave life to bristles.

We stirred the solution again and let it settle down to see whether this conclusion was true and it was. Once settled, the bristles started moving like worms again.

Brownian Motion – A visualization

I wrote down the formula and took it home. For many days I was thinking what the hell happened to the bristles that resulted in this random motion that created the illusion of life.

After a while it clicked: “Brownian Motion!” It was the same stuff that led Einstein in 1905 into thinking that Boltzmann’s conclusions on atoms were in fact true. What he observed was the movement of pollen grains in water. We observed the same effect with brush bristles in a denser solution.

The puzzle was finally solved. Even though we didn’t invent a formula that gives life, it was enough to cause me headache for many days trying to figure out the meaning of that experiment!

Calorific Value!

Working of Rocket Engine using Liquid Propellants – Courtesy NASA

My 8th and 9th standard science texts were replete with concepts like calorific value, ideal fuel, molarity etc etc. Fortunately I was one of the few who could understand those conundrums. I was thinking about rocket propellants in those days. I knew that it burned rapidly and completely without leaving residue and that it generated huge volume of gases that drove the rockets forward based on Newton’s 3rd law.

A typical Home Laboratory

In 1998, we moved from our house at Pottakuzhy, were I setup my first actual lab to a house at P.S Road in Azad Road. I was wondering where I could set up my new lab. At Pottakuzhy, the windowpane had some designs made of metallic wires which enabled me to build a platform using the cardboard plate that the bakers kept beneath my birthday cake.

In this new house, I was disappointed because the windowpane didn’t have wired designs. They were just trite metal bars laid horizontally across the window. Anyway, I was able to get a hold of the small table that was previously used to keep the idols of Gods since we moved our Gods to the top of our bookshelf next to our television. By then I had collected so many things that it almost filled my table.

Monomethylhydrazine

Let me get on with the actual incident now. I wanted to develop a propellant that worked like an ideal fuel with great calorific value and all the other attributes I mentioned above. I didn’t have liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen, methyl hydrazine, dinitrogen tetroxide or neoprene solution. But I didn’t really mind all that because I was confident about my capabilities and the chemicals I already had.

Brandy

So there I went with the quest for the ideal fuel. I took the experiment to my study table adjoining the lab table since there was no space on it and mom had hung some clothes on a rope above that. I took my usual vessel(brandy bottle cap) and added a little brandy to it. I had actually created a handle using thick copper and aluminum wires so that I could hold the vessel in my hand.

Step #1: I lighted the candle. I added a piece of solid NaOH into the brandy in the vessel. I held it to the candle flame. Nothing happened!

Step #2: I added a little candle wax and heated again. Nothing!

A Kerosene Stove – I extracted the Kerosene out of this

I was thinking why nothing was happening. May be another ingredient was missing. I thought about the other possible chemicals that I could add. Copper sulfate was a good choice but thinking about the chemical equations, I didn’t think it was a good idea since I thought it wouldn’t bring forth any favorable outcome. Sodium bicarbonate? Well, I already had Sodium hydroxide which didn’t do anything so far. Then I knew what I could add. I went to the kitchen and brought some kerosene and added a little into the solution.

Step #3: I started heating the new solution on the candle flame. Just 30 seconds and BANG!!! The whole damn thing burned up. The fire in fact spread outside and the whole vessel burned. I got scared and dropped it and extinguished it!

Candle Wax

I was exhilarated. This was really cool. When I checked the vessel, I found that except for the little candle wax I added in Step #2, the whole thing had burned. I thought that probably NaOH catalyzed the mixture of ethyl alcohol and kerosene giving rise to this spectacular combustion!

But was this really a propellant? Did it pass the tests required for it to be called a propellant? The young mind in me was disappointed because a part of me said that I had successfully completed stage one of my quest and that I need to move on to the next stage. But another part of me told that this is just a stupid experiment I did using the stuff in my house and that it is of no use and even if I wanted to pursue this experiment, I needed advanced equipment which I couldn’t afford.

Geotechnical Engineering

Anyway, I wrote down the results in a collection of papers which I maintained in my lab(a lot of which I lost in the ravages of time.) Years passed and I was in my 12th standard. One day at my native, I met my cousin who was then doing his masters in Geo-technical engineering. He asked me which field I wanted to take up after 12th. I told him that I needed to contribute to the field of aerospace science and technology. He was impressed and asked me to pursue it. We then discussed about the various aspects of the field.

The International Space Station – A masterpiece of Aerospace Engineering

During the discussion, the concept of ideal fuel came in. I told him about my experiments to find the ideal fuel. He smiled and told that this is not the right time to speak about ideal fuel. He asked me to do at least a doctorate in aerospace sciences before I even speak about this to anyone. I was partly discouraged but a lot motivated because I knew that someone did know that I had stuff in  me and was ready to guide me in the right direction!

The experiments continued…..

A talk to remember…..


Teapot and Cups

Teapot and Cups - So reminiscent of our lives

In one of my previous posts, I had written out some quotes I have made at many occasions in my life. There are stories behind those quotes and how they came into existence and I would like to share those stories with you. Let me start with this one: “Life without control is like a tea without a teapot.

I was doing my GRE preparation but my mother was worried about me wasting my time at home for a year. So she asked me to take a bank exam so that I will have a job to stay engaged. I didn’t accept it initially but finally gave in to the pressure and agreed to write Canara Bank exam. I was on my way to Trivandrum on Sunday, the 4th of July 2010 to appear for the bank test.

AC Chair Car
AC Chair Car

In every train travel I had, I wish I had a girl beside me to chat; however most often it will be some guy. This journey proved otherwise. It was the AC Chair Car and I was looking for Seat #50 which was a window seat. I found the place and saw that it was occupied by a girl who was about to eat. I said “Excuse me, I am afraid the seat is mine“. She said “Mine is 51 and according to my ticket, 51 is Window“. I asked her to look above the window pane and she did. It was 50 that was the Window Seat.

Stephen Hawking by Kitty Ferguson
Stephen Hawking by Kitty Ferguson

She apologized and moved to the adjoining seat. Then we found that IRCTC had printed W in both of our tickets. Anyway, I took out a book on Stephen Hawking written by Kitty Ferguson and started reading. She had chicken biriyani for lunch. After a while she got up and went to wash and returned.

Just like any other guy, my mind was not in the book but on the girl. She wasn’t that great looking but yet, I felt that she could be a time pass for three to four hours. Thinking this way I asked “You are going to Trivandrum?“. She replied “No, I am not. I am getting down at Kollam.

Clinical Psychologist
Clinical Psychologist

Bingo! A conversation starter at last. I told her that I am a native of Kollam and there the conversation went. I found that she was a clinical psychologist specialized in child psychology. Being a polymath, I was into psychology too and I knew that I could learn something from her. And there ensued an interesting conversation. I asked her the difference between psychology and psychiatry and she explained to me that psychologists rely more on counseling than prescribing medications.

I inquired about the kind of work she did as a psychologist. She told that parents go to her with their children with various problems. Also she mentioned a school that is run by her family which makes her work easier since she can study children better.

Image of Coffee
A cup of coffee

The coffee man came and both of us ordered coffee. I spoke about what I knew about psychology by posing questions, analyzing situations and discussing conclusions. We spoke about the problems faced by the younger generation. She told that in a place like Kollam which is less advanced when compared to other places like Trivandrum or Kochi, there are students addicted to television and Internet pornography.

Image of Internet Pornography
Internet Pornography

I was surprised. The next question I asked was the age group of the students and to my horror I found that it is less than 10. I asked her whether the bigger cities were worse and sure enough, she said yes. My question was whether the percentage of students from public schools were more than students from government schools. She said that there is hardly any kid from government school who came for counseling.

Image of B F Skinner
B F Skinner

This was really unsettling for me. I asked her whether she expects and impending social disintegration. She agreed that she expects something similar to happen in the near future. I must admit that she was really impressed by the way I speak and the amount of knowledge I have.

Image of Social Disintegration
Social Disintegration

I spoke about the studies of Skinner and Adler and that added color to the conversation. Then we spoke about social relations and how the current generation takes relationships. She told that most youngsters she meets now a days don’t really believe in the institution of marriage. Even contemporary psychologists have the same opinion as well.

Though unsettling, her findings were not surprising to me. At my leisure, I search the Internet for information regarding the current social awareness and its viability in the successful survival of the society.

Image of Cohabitation
Premarital Cohabitation

I asked her about her views on premarital cohabitation. She told that she didn’t like that idea since according to her premarital sex and cohabitation has been found to have a direct correlation with divorce rates in most cases unless it is restricted to the future spouse. She believed that chastity is actually a boon to a relationship. I didn’t quite agree on her views but didn’t want to start an argument out of a pleasant conversation.

Image of Chabua, Assam
A tea plantaion in Chabua, Assam where we lived

The coffee man came again and both of us ordered coffee again. In her opinion, commitment has to be there no matter whether the spouse has tolerable defects since that is what true love is. I asked her whether she is married and she replied that her husband is a bank manager working in Assam. Bingo again! I told her that I have been to Assam. She was curious to know how Assam was. I told her about the tropical rains that people get there and the lush green atmosphere. I told her that she would love that place. She was planning to go in a month. Probably she is already there.

Image of Ben 10
Ben 10

I wanted to know the kind of TV shows children are addicted to. She told that there is a thing called Ben 10 which is the current craze among children below 10. She wouldn’t be surprised to see a 5 year old watching porn in the years to come. She said that it is the parents who should be blamed. Most educated people work in MNCs and both the parents often arrive at home late. They never get to know their kid except for off days. This adversely affects the way kids grow up. It has been proven time and again but yet that is the direction in which the society is moving.

Image of Alfred Adler

Alfred Adler

During that conversation, it just came out of my mouth “Life without control is like a tea without a teapot.” She asked what it meant. I told her that we need a platform to build things. It is not like we are free thinkers and hence we can be in anyway we want. That shouldn’t be the case. There has to be some restriction as in the case of a teapot. Our life is like the tea inside a teapot. The moment it breaks, the tea scatters around creating a mess. She liked that point of view very much and told that she can use that when she counsels her subjects.

Image of Online Social Networking
Online Social Networking

Later on we kind of slowly brushed off all other subjects and started discussing about our lives. I told her about where I studied and what I aim for and she listened attentively. I asked her whether she was in social networking and she told that she likes Orkut. Finally our three and a half hour long conversation came to a halt when the train arrived at Kollam Junction. We said good bye to each other. She wished me good luck and told that she hoped to meet me again in future.

I was glad because I was able to meet someone of my frequency. I started reading my book again and within another hour, Trivandrum Central came. I got down, took an autorikshaw and went to Hotel Keerthi at Aristo Junction where I had booked a room the previous day…..

My quotes…

Shakespeare – The master of quotes!

We don’t have to be Shakespeare or Shelly to quote something. We just have to be thinkers. Often we don’t realize the stuff that comes out of our mouths. We tend to forget them. But there are certain quotes that came out of my mouth that I remember clearly because I have heard my friends using them at a later point of time citing me as the originator of those quotes. Anyway, without much babble, let me give you a few of them. They are of course not literary gems because I am not a literary lapidary! I have also made the effort to recall the year and the person to whom I was speaking to when I made that quote.

It is logical to be emotional but it is not emotional to be logical.“(In October 2010, while thinking about an argument I had with one my college mates.)

It is not mandatory that we need to live. But because we are alive, we think that it is.” (In 2010, on a chat with my friend Kislay Komal in GTalk.)

We should not define a relationship. Because the moment we define, it will lose its beauty.” (In 2010, during a conversation with my friend Ajay Jose at Silica Pub at Atlantis.)

Of course be like water and adapt to the situation you are in but always beware not to get frozen or vaporized in the process.” (In 2010. A thought that crossed my mind when I was thinking about adaptability and tolerance.)

Teacup – The entity that holds the tea together!

Life without control is like a tea without a teacup.” (In 2010 on a conversation with a psychotherapist named Gladys Leon. I met her in a train on my way to Trivandrum. We had a very pleasant conversation for over three hours.)

By all means be a free thinker, but not a freak thinker.” (In 2010. An idea that came up in my mind when I was angry at a so called free thinker who is actually a freak thinker.)

Equivocation is the bastion of the disoriented and miserable.” (In 2010 while having a Facebook debate with a woman.)

Worse than telling a joke is explaining it.” (In 2005 on a conversation with a lady friend of mine whose name I don’t wish to reveal as of now.)

It is better to be a coward than pretending to be brave.” (In 2004 on a conversation with my friend Narayanan Namboothiri when he dared me saying that I am a coward.)

Antaradahanayantram – The Internal Combustion Engine!


Image of Internal Combustion Engine or Antaradahanayantram

Internal Combustion Engine or Antaradahanayantram

Don’t worry about the title. It means “Internal Combustion Engine” in Malayalam. In my taravadu at Kollam, I came across a book named “Kandupidithangalude Katha” or “The Tale of Inventions”. I got this word from that book. Being a fan of technology, I read about it. This was long before I learned about engines in school.

One day, I went to the back yard of my house at Kochi with a few items in hand. The intention was to create an antaradahanayantram! I took two caps of whiskey bottles and checked whether they closed on each other, which they did. Then I put a hole on top of one of them. Then I took another cap and made it a bit perforated on the side. I fixed that at the bottom of the other cap that did not have the hole.

Image of Whiskey Bottle Caps

Whiskey Bottle Caps

So in effect I made a cylinder with several holes here and there. Then I made a small fan and fixed it on top of the single holed cap. I filled that cap with water and the perforated cap with kerosene. Then I put fire into the kerosene. The idea was that the kerosene will burn inside and then boil the water which in turn will make the fan spin through its steam.

I don’t know why I thought this was an internal combustion engine since it looked as if it was both internal and external. Anyway it was burning and boiling the water. Nothing was happening to the fan though. Then my dad came and asked what was I doing. I said proudly that this is my internal combustion engine. He asked me what is that and I said antaradahanayantram! He just warned me not to create an explosion and left.

Image of Steam

Steam

I waited for some more time but nothing happened still. I was wondering what was going on. Then I noticed the flaw in my design. The steam has to come out of a narrow tube in order to utilize its power. I had just put a hole on top of the cap. So the steam was coming out just as it would if I am boiling water in an open vessel.

The design failed! I wound up my experiment and went inside. Sigh!

The wonder ink formula!


Image of Chemistry

Chemistry

My 9th std Chemistry was taken by three teachers. Usha madam went on leave and then Bindu madam took charge. But then the unkind KVS transferred her elsewhere. Finally Devaki madam took over towards the end of the term. The reason I mentioned this is because of one project in Chemistry that Devaki madam asked me to submit. It was nothing special. I made a bathing soap. But the interesting story is what I did with it. Here is the whole story:

Image of Sodium Hydroxide

Sodium Hydroxide

I bought sodium hydroxide to prepare the solution for producing soap. I was glad because it was a new chemical to add to my lab. Anyway I dissolved some NaOH into water and then mixed coconut oil and Eau de Cologne into it. After a while the solution solidified into a white substance. I left it for a week and then cut it into pieces. We first tried it as a washing soap and it worked. Then I took bath with it and I was happy because it worked as a bathing soap as well. I took it to school and submitted as my project.

Image of Bad Handwriting

An example of bad handwriting - Mine was worse though

Since time immemorial, my teachers have complained about my handwriting. It hasn’t improved to this day and I am glad that I took writing to my computer so that I don’t have to write on paper anymore. Be that as it may. On the day of submission of my project, I was sitting in maths class and as usual scratching the paper with my shabby “calligraphy”. It was a blunder I committed because one of my friends wanted the exact same pen that I had. I bought him one and then he wanted to exchange the nib since mine was smooth.

Image of a Nib

The nib of a pen

After I exchanged the nib, I realized my blunder but still bore with it. In the middle of the class I had an idea. Will adding soap to the ink tank make the writing smoother? To test it, I took a small piece of soap and put it inside the ink tank of my pen and sure enough, I had the most slippery smooth writing experience in my entire life!

Image of Eureka

Eureka!

But I noticed something strange, the ink was decolorized! Just a faint azure hue remained and it looked as if I was writing with an invisible ink. Nevertheless I continued writing. I went onto the next page and the next page. Then I just returned to the previous pages and EUREKA! The writings were visible again as if it was written by normal ink. Just a little lighter but that was okay! I had discovered something!

I started to show off my new found “invisible ink” which I called “wonder ink”. Later I experimented with pure NaOH to see whether that worked the same way but that turned the entire ink into purple color.

Image of Litmus solutions

Litmus solutions

During the beginning of my 10th std, I went to tuition at Paul Manjooran sir’s tuition center. I told him about this discover of mine and showed him this purple ink. He told that this is analogous to litmus paper used in laboratories except that the color code will be in the reverse order. He told that if I put some acid into this solution, the blue color will return. I tried mixing some lemon water into it and sure enough, the blue color came back in. I also found that this experiment works better with Bril brand of ink than Chelpark.

My experiments continued…

Did God create man or man create God?


Image of Man creates God
Man creates God

Thought provoking though it is, the answer is simple. Man created God! It is irrational to let our lives be governed by faith that is based on something other than evidence. It may be true that we do good because we have faith that is based on something other than evidence but it is still irrational to do so. It is such a shame that despite the plethora of evidence at our disposal, people attribute their existence to supernatural. Childhood indoctrination has engraved this thought in our minds and it is hard to get away from the clutches of religious faith.

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Athiest viewpoint

In my early life, I looked upon God for everything. It was not until my teens that I had the courage to question religion. It took probably an equal amount of time further into the future until I proclaimed myself as a proud atheist. What is there to be so proud about being an atheist? It is a feeling of intellectual fulfillment. We look at life as it is and realize that we have just one. This is a precious life and we should not waste it. Further we realize that we do not transcend into another form after we die.

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Atomic Theory

Sages like Paramahansa Yogananda speaks about an invisible world. Something that we can’t see or perceive with our senses. I think he speaks about the atomic world. We don’t see them and yet we know atoms exist. The ancient sages used to preach that the soul is indestructible. Atomic theory clearly explains why soul is indestructible. It is because the atoms that make up my body formed before my body was formed. It will be replenished throughout my life due to biological processes. And those atoms will stay the same after I die. Atom is indeed the soul!

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The Dawn of Civilization

At the dawn of civilization, humans who lacked the scientific knowledge of today looked upon natural phenomenon and interpreted them as manifestations of divine intervention. Not only the creation of the universe, but also God was supposed to interfere with every other aspect of our lives. Rather we were taught to believe so. How much evidence in this modern world do we have about miracles? I do not know but I am sure that the number of miracles in the entire world would statistically add to nothing because the number of people indulging in desperate prayer will be thousands or even millions of times larger.

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Philanthropy

True enlightenment is the situation when we understand and perceive the world as it is. No light is going to come and hit our head bestowing us with universal wisdom because there is no such thing. Any claim of lights hitting the head can be easily disposed because the there is a whole range of illusions that the human mind is so capable of producing. As mentioned before, this is a precious life, this is a beautiful life, this is a wonderful life. The love that we feel towards others should come from within. It should be derived from a modern sense of compassion that is empirical rather than from any religious indoctrination. We have to realize that our existence depends on the presence of other people in this world and that should be our philanthropic source!