Friday, November 27, 2009

Never imagined Porcupine Tree to be like this..

Its been just one month I have started downloading some songs by Porcupine Tree. Not that I did not know about this band before, but I thought this is a new band and will be singing some metal of which I am not a very big fan. I just wanted to have a flavor of their music before deciding whether to attend their live show on 21st December or not. To my surprise, I found them to be a much better band contrary to what I guessed and they are not a new band at all. I found their albums starting from 1989. Their music reminds me of Pink Floyd, so relaxing, very soothing. I am not much familiar with the classifications of rock music, but Porcupine Tree belongs to Progressive rock band category I guess. After getting a little flavor of their music through the albums Stars Die, Absentia and The Sky Moves Sideways I can now imagine why this band is not very popular in India except in North-East India probably where the sense of music is drastically different. The common Indian music lovers are mostly towards metal nowadays, wearing funky t-shirts, showing middle finger, using slang very often is what define their choice of music. I realized this when I went for the Iron Maiden concert in Bombay (Feb,2008). If the same crowd comes to Porcupine Tree concert for example, I don't think they gonna enjoy it. But being a great Pink Floyd fan, I am really looking forward to this similar rock band, may not be for lots of head-banging but to feel the beauty of classic rock for the first time in a live concert.

The Pain of being a nine point someone

I don't know what Chetan Bhagat has written in his first novel "five point someone"; I just know that the phrase five point someone refers to those IITians who has CPI (cumulative performance index) between 5 and 6. It's quite well-known the kind of depression an IITian suffer from when he or she fails to perform in the academic system as it was expected. This has led to many incidents in different IIT's where students chose the most extreme step to come out of this stress and depression. Recently in IIT Bombay, there was a suicide case by a student of 2nd year BTech programme. His poor performance in class is said to be the probable reason behind it. But why such students get admitted after all? Does not it mean that the IIT entrance system of admitting students to various programs have failed totally? Is there any huge gap between the admission criteria and the academic standards? I am not an expert to answer such questions. But I would like to mention one point that poor performance may not be the only reason behind depression. There are other reasons also which are overlooked most of the time. IIT system has many faults in it which can even make an academic topper feel depressed. I do not need to talk about anyone else. Myself is the best example. I have always been an academic topper till my BSc. During my MSc in IIT B also I was the second topper among the 2 year MSc as well as MSc-PhD dual degree students and could maintain a CPI of 9.15 at the end of two years. Unfortunately CPI is not everything which count in life. After I moved into research part of my MS-PhD dual degree course, my expectations, my motivations and my excitements started disappearing. The first blow came to me when my supervisor was appointed as dean in a different IIT, and he had to shift there temporarily and he is still there. Its one and half year till then he has not come back to his home institute and during this one and half year neither I have any publication with him nor any good progress in work has happened. May be I am not a very smart guy to do research through email discussions. Although I spent few months in that IIT where my supervisor is appointed as dean, I could not do much work since he hardly could give me time. That was quite natural since a dean has to do lots of non-academic things. The second and the most recent blow came when I got the news that my supervisor is going to Canada on sabbatical for one year. So I will be completing almost two and half years without any good research work by the end of 2010. Aren't these more than enough to bring too much depression and stress into life? The IIT system doesn't care what will happen to a PhD student if his/her supervisor is sent to some other place to do some no-academic things, it does not care what will happen to a student when a faculty goes on sabbatical for one year. IIT should give a thought about all these and should not run into a conclusion that only poor academic performance creates stress, depression among students.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Remembering 26-11

Today is the first anniversary of the most horrible terrorist attack not only in Bombay, but in the entire country which killed around two hundred people including a few foreigners. Although after that incident no such major terrorist attacks have happened so far, it's difficult to comment on how much India has learned from it and how much improvement on the internal security have taken place. I still feel somehow, our security forces are not well-equipped although a specialized commandos have been deployed in Bombay almost after one year of 26-11 to prevent further attacks. I also doubt if the victims got enough compensations from the Government. Needless to talk about the culprits behind this attack, no punishment has been given so far, the trials are going on in a never-ending way. It seems unlikely that Indian judiciary system will award them capital punishments keeping an eye on the fact that many such terrorists like Afzal Guru (behind parliament attacks) are still alive and may be will be freed under Kandahar Airline hijack situations. Its really frustrating for the common Indian citizen to see such stupid things happening in the country, mass murderers are kept alive and freed to invite more situations where the common public have to suffer. Anyway I pray for all the victims as well as their families on the occasion of 1st anniversary of 26-11 and just hope Bombay would never suffer like this.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Porcupine Tree Live 21st Dec, 2009

I came to know about this awesome news much before, but forgot to give a blog update. Porcupine Tree(PT) is coming to India for the first time on 21st December and the best thing for IITB people is that PT will be performing right in the institute open air theater as a part of institute annual cultural festival Mood Indigo. This will be fourth Mood Indigo during my stay in the campus, but this will be the first time I am going to attend, I simply can't afford to miss PT. Although various Indian bands like Zero, Parikrama keep performing almost every year in Mood Indigo, I never had much interest in them since I am very much familiar to their live concerts. But this year Mood Indigo is certainly special, hope PT will give us a memorable experience. The details about the concert can be found here

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"Take Home" exam killing me and my time so much :(

Although we thought a "take home" exam on Quantum Optics would make life pretty simple, now after getting the question paper, that intuition has changed completely. The paper contains fourteen questions and each of them is damn lengthy involving some tedious mindless calculations except a few conceptual ones. It would have been better if there were an open book three hours exam no matter how much I scored, but the pain would have gone and I could have done something else. I have solved around 8-9 out of 14 and not in a mood to do the remaining ones. Anyway the good thing is that this is the last course-work exam in IIT for me, life is gonna be pretty cool after it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


8522 km...Don't think I am talking about some new neutrino baseline which people might guess since they always complain I never write anything other than physics. It's the distance I have to cover by Indian Railways during a span of just one month from 2nd Dec to 10 Jan. It could have been fun if trains were like some of those in Europe. But the trains here are disgusting, they don't have good catering service, clean toilets, clean stations as well. And the worst thing is the crowd, they are simply unbearable nowadays specially those who travel in the second class non-AC compartments. But after spending lots of money on my home trip by air during Durga puja two months back, I can't even afford to make journey by AC-coach of Indian Railways. Except for one ticket, I have made all the tickets in non-AC coaches. The problem is the school and workshop I will be attending in between are not providing me any travel grant also, so not in a mood to spend money from my own pocket. Hope I will enjoy the journey somehow. Even if it's not enjoyable, hope it won't be embarrassing as it happens in many case when trains get delayed by so many hours. Just keeping my fingers crossed now :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanks to Media for creating too much hype about Swine flu ;)

Most of us are aware of the swine flu panic in India 2-3 months back. The panic was more because of media hype and not because of the death toll. Finally the government had to come in between media and public asking the media not to give too much publicity which may create chaos in public life. Although the media hype was for no good in the public interest, it however had a good effect in me. I was so scared that I started taking extra care. Suddenly, healthy and hygienic food became a priority in my life which I am afraid if were there in the past at all. Previously I used to miss breakfast almost everyday, but life after that has totally changed. I never miss breakfast nowadays, try to eat enough food no matter how bad the taste is. And the best thing was I quit smoking almost during that time. Although I did not see any link between swine flu and smoking, yet I did not want to take any risk and made sure that I don't consume anything which may be harmful. Now after completing three months without smoking, I feel that I don't have any interest in it. I don't know why I started smoking few years back, may be just for fun. I used to smoke during the most relaxing time in a day, contrary to others probably who smoke only when they get tensed. Although there was no need of smoking in my life, I just used to smoke casually and suddenly it became a kind of addiction. However it was not very bad as I never took more than one cigarette per day. Anyway I feel very happy today that I am not used to such a bad habit now. It really sucks! Thanks a lot again to the unwanted media hype :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sleeping less than 7 hours a day?

Today I got a mail from someone in the department of metallurgy and material science, IIT Bombay which emphasizes on the need of good sleep. In fact he forwarded the mail to all the IIT B people. It's a very good time to remind all the students with the probable consequences of not having good sleep since end semester examination has already started and most of the students might be planning night outs to prepare for examination. The fellow who has sent the mail seems to have collected a few very important points:

1. Short sleep duration (less than 5 or 5-6 hours) increased risk for high BP by 350% to 500% compared to those who slept longer than 6 hours per night. Paper published in 2009. And high BP kills for sure.
2. Young people (25-49 years of age) are twice as likely to get high BP if they sleep less. Paper published in 2006.
3. Individuals who slept less than 5 hours a night had a 3-fold increased risk of heart attacks. Paper published in 1999.
4. Complete and partial lack of sleep increased the blood concentrations of High sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-cRP), the strongest predictor of heart attacks. Even after getting adequate sleep later, the levels stayed high.
5. Just one night of sleep loss increases very toxic substances in body such as Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour Nacrosis Factor-Alpha (TNF-alpha) and C-reactive protein (cRP). They
increase risk of many medical conditions including cancer, arthritis and hear disease. Paper
published in 2004.
6. Sleeping for less than or equal to five hours per night leads to 39% increase in heart diseases.
Sleeping for less than or equal to 6 hours per night leads to 18% increase in heart disease. Paper
published in 2006.

The fellow has also pointed out the possible region behind the sudden death of a Mumbai based
CEO of some MNC as the lack of sleep. I really appreciate the effort made by him. I hope the IIT junta will pay a little attention to it.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Too many confusions....

As it is obvious from one of my previous posts, I am having lots of confusions regarding the workshop, schools, conference I am going to attend shortly. Although I have decided to attend both WHEP (partially) and Asian Winter School, today I got a mail from WHEP organizers asking me to send them my working group preferences. I was interested in Neutrinos and Beyond Standard Model Physics group among others like Astroparticle physics and Cosmology. But today I saw the WHEP web-page where the working group themes were given. I was surprised that the Neutrino and BSM working group themes have all neutrino physics stuffs like neutrino oscillation, INO(Indian Neutrino Observatory) Physics, CP -violation etc. I was thinking there would be many other interesting topics like supersymmetry, GUT etc. I still believe these will somehow come into the discussions there, otherwise I will definitely give up if people just keep talking about the $\theta_{13}$ parameter of neutrino oscillations. To clear my confusion regarding the preference of working group I mailed to my supervisor and he asked me to give the Neutrino and BSM group as 1st preference since the probable participants in this group will be more into model building in particle physics (which is of my interest) than the Astroparticle Physics group.
To my surprise I have also got a mail from the organizers of a conference called Particle Physics at the LHC era in Chile. I completely forgot that I even registered for it. Since it clashes with WHEP, I had to send the organizers a mail saying I won't be able to come. It could have been nice to visit Chile, although such countries don't get much attention, yet I have a dream to visit places like Latin America, Africa at some point of my life.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Next semester will be more into travelling than research :P

As suggested by my supervisor I have finally decided to attend both WHEPP (02-12 Jan, 2010) as well as the Asian Winter school (organized by ICTS from 11-20 Jan, 2010). However I will be missing three days of WHEPP since I have to leave Ahmedabad on 10th Jan and go to Mahabaleshwar where the winter school will be held. I am also hopeful of getting selected for the SERC main school in Punjab University during the month of April. In between I am also planning to go home for two weeks. As of now, it seems I will have to travel like hell from next month onwards. Just after this sem gets over, I am planning to go to Gandhinagar for one or two weeks for some work, then will come back again to Bombay. In the last week of December I will go to Delhi for new year eve celebration from where I will directly come to Ahmedabad for WHEPP. Since nobody is going to pay for my travel expenses, I have booked all the tickets in sleeper class of Indian Railway to keep my expenditure low. I am wondering after all these journey till 20th January, whether I will have any energy left to go again by train to my hometown which takes around 60 hours from Bombay by the only train in that route. I have to look for some cheap flight tickets for sure. After my home trip I may directly go to Ahmedabad to work with my collaborators in PRL. But that's not yet decided, I am just hopeful of going there. Otherwise there won't be any progress if I stay in my home institute since my supervisor will be off for Canada for one year starting January 1.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The 4th Asian Winter School on Strings, Particles and Cosmology

Today I have got a mail from the organizers asking me to give the travel details if I would like to attend the Asian Winter School on Strings, Particles and Cosmology to be held in Mahabaleshwar, India from 11 January to 20th January, 2010. It would be a great pleasure to attend this school since many big shots from across the world including Harvard, Princeton are coming. But this school has a date clash with WHEPP (2 Jan-12 Jan) about which I have mentioned in the previous post. I am quite surprised since both the school as well as the workshop have been organized by the same institute ICTS (International Center for Theoretical Science, Although the school will cover mainly theoretical aspects from string theory point of view and the workshop is on phenomenology, yet I believe there will be lots of people who have common interests in both strings as well as HEP phenomenology. It could have been nice to leave an option for such people having common interest to attend both the school and the workshop. Although the phenomenology workshop is more important for me from my current research point of view, I am not being able to resist my temptation of bunking the last two days of workshop and go to the school ;). Anyway I am hopeful of arriving at conclusion which one to attend before it is too late..:)

Monday, November 9, 2009

WHEPP XI 02-12 Jan, 2010 @PRL, Ahmedabad

The next Workshop in High Energy Physics Phenomenology(WHEPP) will be in Physical Research Laboratory(PRL) Ahmedabad, India from 2nd to 12 January 2010. The workshop will be having five working groups: Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology, Neutrinos and Physics Beyond the Standard Model, LHC physics, QCD and QGP and B-Physics. There will be 15 review talks and same number of specialized talks during the first five days of the workshop. The first week participants are required to join one of the working groups and start discussing possible new projects. The second half of the workshop is devoted entirely to working group activities. At the end of the workshop the coordinators of the working groups will summarize the progress of new projects started in the workshop. I have got an invitation today to participate in the workshop. Thanks to the organizers for that. Its been a long time I have not gone for any schools, conference and life has become too boring staying at the same place. Looking forward to WHEPP XI and hope to have lots of fun.

APKGK is a good timepass..

After watching most of the hollywood blockbusters which tops the IMDB best movie list, nowadays I have been trying my luck on some bollywood commercial movies. You can never trust newspaper reviews about bollywood commercial movies, the only way to know about the movie is to try it. I know it's quite tough, you can't go on trying all the movies since most of them are pathetic. You need to be very very lucky to find a good movie as the first one to pick up. I am lucky in that sense as I have picked up two good (better call them average) movies, Wake up Sid(WUS) and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani (APKGK). I posted sometime back regarding my opinions on Wake up Sid. Yesterday I watched the second one. Surprisingly both of them have Ranbir Kapoor in the lead role and I found the character played by him in both the movies somewhat similar. An immature, careless guy discovering life and love which have made him matured, serious about life and all. APKGK is more like a comedy than WUS having some really funny and somewhat stupid scenes in between. Katrina is looking cute as always, Ranbeer looking stupid, confused as he always is. Although it is not a very good movie, at least I was not upset after watching it. I am dying to watch some good English or Hindi movie for a long time. The best movie I have watched in the last couple of months is a German one called "Der Untergang" (The Downfall) with English subtitles. It is a really good movie and worth watching at least once. Hope to see some good English/Hindi releases during the Christmas time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A great day indeed...!!..;)

I must say today is a really great day for me. My PhD supervisor replied to my mail just 21 minutes after I wrote it. Usually it takes months to get a reply :P. I think he might have found my mail interesting as I have written about some latest calculations and results I have got along with an attachment. Although I was quite upset after I saw a paper two days back where similar works have been done, yet I have argued the differences in my calculations from that in my draft as well as in the mail. Hope my supervisor will appreciate it. Till then, just keeping my fingers crossed :).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A boost for Basic Science Research in India

Shedding light on the fact(which has always been overlooked) that basic science research in India is still not upto the level of expectation, the department of science and technology(DST) has come up with a brand new policy to motivate young minds to opt for science. The usual trend among bright young students in India has always been to go for engineering or medical in reputed institutes like IIT, NIT, AIIMS etc. after passing out from schools. It is believed among the common people that only those students take science after school who could not manage to get a place in engineering or medical. Of course it does not make sense as someone may be genuinely interested in basic science and does not care what engineering or medical is. The reason behind such a trend is of course the much better job prospects after engineering/medical than basic science. Looking at the fact that students may not take science fearing no good job after MSc, the DST has come up with a policy to provide all kinds of financial support to students after MSc to carry out their research project for two years. However this grant will expire after two years and will be re allotted to some other students. DST believes that within two years the student will be able to make himself/herself eligible for a job. Well, I do not know how that gonna happen. In the news article appeared in Times of India which I read yesterday (, it is not clearly given if the student has to carry out project under the supervision of some professor/scientist. What I am wondering is, suppose a student gets a grant to work on string theory for two years, what kind of job offer he/she will receive after he/she is done with the project. Since he/she is not a PhD yet, the project does not qualify them to get faculty position somewhere, and it is also a questionable how much good work he/she will be doing in two years. Although such policies are always good to encourage the students towards basic science, I see lots of ambiguities in it. I feel it might be a better idea to invest these money providing better facilities and stipends to PhD students which will encourage students to do research as well as will assure a job after completing PhD in any field which may not be true after a two year project. Anyway, that's what my opinion is. I wish this new DST move a great success, and hope many students will get benefited from it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Meeting part II

Today we had the technical meeting where we discussed the objectives of the project I talked about in my previous post. There were so many discussions on various phenomenology issues, LHC signatures etc, I gave up completely in between. May be I do not like much to handle numbers which phenomenologist mostly keep doing from various experimental point of view. Anyway, at least Prof Godbole has motivated us to work on a particular problem no matter how much chances are there to get some positive output. I guess my job will be to do some dirty calculations using some numerical package. Although I hate such stuffs very much, I could not make it clear in front of the group members and they got convinced that I would be a good "bakra" whom they can ask to do such numerical stuffs. But before starting the numerical part, I need to get some motivations and feel of the problem, which I have not got completely so far. May be I need to go through all the references we discussed today and make a clear picture of the objectives as well as the motivations. I hope this project at least will keep me busy for the next year which will be good in the sense that my supervisor will be away on sabbatical.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Meeting part I

Finally it happened today, the much awaited meeting with my supervisor. I was with him for almost five hours including lunch. Though there were not much technical discussion, I got a bad headache after the meeting, and had to drink 3 cups of expresso to feel better ;-) . Anyway I fortunately could get my PhD registration form signed from him which I was supposed to submit in January 2009. I hope the stupid academic office won't delay my degree for this. Well, today Prof Godbole from CHEP, IISc Bangalore has also come to the department for discussions related to a DST(Department of Science and Technology) project which has been sanctioned recently. The project is all about Symmetries beyond the standard model and possible LHC signatures as well as connection to dark matter. The topic seems interesting from current research trends in high energy physics. There seems to be so much work going on these issues, I am totally confused which one to pick up and move ahead. There are many ways to incorporate higher symmetries in the standard model and each one has its own motivations. Tomorrow we will be having a formal meeting with Prof Godbole along with my supervisor as well as Prof Ramadevi and to discuss how to proceed. And I have to go through three PRD's tonight, and report if I find something interesting :( . By the way it was a great pleasure to meet Prof Godbole for the first time in a formal way. I became a fan of her after she published her book "Theory and Phenomenology of Sparticles" with Manuel Drees and Probir Roy. I will call it the bible of supersymmetry phenomenology. I am looking forward to tomorrow's meeting with the hope of getting some new ideas to work with :-)