Saturday, January 29, 2011

Standard of Discussion

Here is a comment by a user Arun on a post on Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haitham) on a mighty blog called Cosmic Variance.

12.   Arun Says:
The Physics Today article has:
“The ink of the scholar is more holy than the blood of the martyrs,” the Koran says
As far as I know, this is wrong. The Quran does not have any such thing. This is from the Hadith (narrations recording the sayings and doings of the Prophet).
Moreover, the Hadith are classified by whether the chain of narration from the time of the Prophet to when the hadith were recorded a century or two later is reliable or not. As per Wiki, this is a weak Hadith.
A few things can be said right away. (1) Arun knows a thing or two about Physics, (2) about the Holy Qur'an, (3) the Hadith, (3) Knows the difference between the two, (4) Knows that the above particular statement purported to be in the Holy Qur'an is not in the Holy Qur'an, (5)  Knows that there are weak Hadiths, (6) Knows that there is a method to separate the correct from the weak Hadith and (6) Searched the Wiki for above mentioned Hadith.

Now make a guess about the depth of the original bloggers  from the level of this single comment of a commenter.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Andre Weil (1906 - 1998)

Andre Weil spent less than two years at the Aligarh Muslim University. In all he got a long life. Made mighty contributions to Mathematics. Wrote his autobiography late in life. The biggest chapter in the biography is about that little time spent in Aligarh. Aligarh must be some place. When his description of Aligarh was discussed with Miyan, particularly the picture painted there then he said that these people try to defame. Any way here is the Amazon link to his autobiography and below is a review of that from Amazon itself:

There is only a small number of autobiographies by mathematicians. Andre Weil was a giant in math. His autobio, written late in life, is fun to read. Weil has strong opinions that may perhaps not appeal to all. Even so, the book light reading, agreeing or not; and it fun too. For me it was a page-turner. To others perhaps a little pompous. Judge for yourself. While perhaps self-absorbed, I think Weil in his autobio gives personal and fresh insight into the tumultuous period in history, between the two World Wars in Europe, as it relates to math. The main part of the book covers Weil's life before he came to the US.
Weil had a monumental impact on math, and he also wrote some lovely history of math books, --number theory; and then of course some specialized books, that are corner stones in math, but not especially easy to read, at least for beginners. But Andre Weil is a central figure in math. His younger sister Simone Weil was an author and philosopher, and a political activist on the left in French politics in the 1930ties. She died young.  - P.E.T.Jorgensen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Western Quote of the Day

"Kids are there for life, like a dog. You've got to look after them."
Steve Ginger

On Rudolf Samuel

Rudolf Samuel (1897-1949)

In July 1933, Selig Bodetsky, an active Zionist in England, mathematician and a future president of the Hebrew University, received a letter from Rudolf Samuel, professor of experimental physics at the Islamic University of Aligarh in India requesting a position in the physics department in Jerusalem. Samuel (b.1897) had been an active Zionist in Germany and had studied in Berlin and in Gottingen with James Frank. In 1931 Samuel was appointed to head the physics department at Aligarh, which he developed into one of the best and most modern in India.He regarded this position, however, only as a stepping stone to Palestine; he already had sent his wife Erna and son John to Haifa to grow up and be educated in Palestine.

Brodetsky declined Samuel’s request, stating, ‘‘It will not be fair to offer a post to a Jew who already has a good one outside Germany, when there are so many good scientists who desperately need appointments as a result of the state of affairs in Germany.’’ Brodetsky also reported his refusal to Ornstein, commenting at the same time on Ornstein’s recommendations regarding the appointments of Felix Bloch and Ernst Alexander, an experimentalist from Freiburg. We will discuss these two cases below. Samuel did not despair; as we will see, he tried again for an appointment two years later.

Issachar Unna, The Genesis of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Physics in Perspective, 2 (2000) 336–380, Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, 2000

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Large Amount of Data

Question : How much of data was generated by LHC in 2010? In other words how many CDs will be required to store that data?
Answer : If the CDs have beeen stacked as a column then the height of that column will be 14 kilometers.

A Caveat :  This was after rejecting 199, 999 of the 200, 000 collisions.

These sizes of data are of the order of peta byte. Above data was 13 peta bytes.

Question : How much is a peta byte.
Answer : That is 1024 tera bytes.

Question : How much is a tera bytes?
Answer : That is 1024 giga bytes.

Question : How much is a giga bytes?
Answer : That is 1024 mega bytes.

Question : How much is a mega bytes?
Answer : That is 1024 kilo bytes.

Question : How much is a kilo bytes?
Answer : That is 1024  bytes.

Question : How much is a bytes?
Answer : That is 8 bits.

Question : What is a bit?
Answer : It is a binary number, it can take only two values 0 1nd 1.

Main story here. Via P and P

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What Was Sokal Affair?

Or is. Alan D. Sokal is a particle physicist at New York university and a communist. Around the last two decades of last century a trend was noticed in humanities and social sciences there that was termed as post modernism. Some of these people even went a step further and commented on science. The hallmark of science, as most of the scientists think and believe, is objectivity. Post modernists like Jacques Derrida said that science is a social construct because it is done by social beings-nothing objective about it. Another post modernist  even told that there is no such thing as a scientific method. The gist of the whole post modernist position was that science, in fact is not science. It was irksome to professor Alan Sokal. More so because some of the participants in these ideas, the ideas that were termed a fashionable nonsense by another social scientist, were communists. The action that he took got the title of Sokal Hoax or Sokal Affair or the Science Wars.

He wrote an article that very vaguely supported the above position of the port-modernist thinkers but in fact was completely gibberish. The title of the article was "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity". Because of sophisticated feel of high academics to the title as well as the matter of the article it was published in a famous post modernist journal called the Social Text. In the meantime Sokal wrote another article in another journal called Lingua Franca that his Social Test article is indeed a hoax. After that all happened which should happen when you rock the boat. Sokal was accused of showing lack of integrity but the editors of Social Text too lost their position.

So in some sense science upset the applecart of post modernism. Or science was saved from a post modernist attack, depending upon the point of view.

Then there is the so called the Bogdanov Affair that is termed by some as the  reverse-Sokal controversy. Here two French brothers, with Russian sounding names, published some research work in theoretical physics-the broad area of research which also covers Sokal's field. Some people felt that their research indeed is bogus, vacuous and fashionable nonsense-this time entertained by theoretical physicists. These brother themselves deny any hoax on their part.

The latest in this context is an article by in a journal called Democracy : A Journal of Ideas. He feels that science is again under attack again. This time it is under attack from the right, according to him-the way it was under attack from the left earlier.

Where is the connection, in this all, with the Aligarh Movement? Well only cultural. If the current western ideas are not brought in by our people then they will be accused of not keeping up with the times. If they do then there is the danger of bringing home something unwanted. To do  or not to do is the question. And this is a question that comes back again and again. It is part of life.

Let us finish with an anecdote.

Anecdote: A young man , an Alig, bought, at the time of Eid-ul-Azha, a camel. Good idea. But the father was not amused and the camel had to be returned. The problem was to find a butcher, locally, who could handle a camel.

Making the World Constrained for Them

There is a country called Switzerland in a continent called Europe. It has a border with another country called France-in Europe again. At this border there is a Physics Laboratory that is world famous. It is called European Center for Nuclear Research or CERN for short. One of the big machines there, the biggest there and in the world, is called the LHC-Large Hadron Collider. Hadrons are very very tiny particles and are of two kind-baryons and mesons. Examples of baryons are protons and neutrons and examples of mesons are the particles which particle physics people call pions and kaons. There are several experimental groups working on LHC and they have their own detectors. These detectors are big instruments-some times several story tall. There names are like ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and the like. And to boot, dear Aligs, some people from your Physics Department are part of the ALICE group. The whole world has been looking forward for LHC to operate and give latest physics results for this is the latest and best machine designed to do particle physics. The machine has been operating for some time now and some results have poured in. These are bit mundane results but important for particle physics nevertheless. Here is a second hand link to a summary of the results obtained so far via the blog Physics and Physicists. There Zaperz quotes:
It is still early days at the LHC, but the 27 km-circumference machine's first year of smashing protons into each other at record energies is beginning to tame theorists' imaginations. Researchers on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, for example, have reported that, at the energies probed so far, quarks do not exhibit substructure (arXiv:1010.4439), exotic particles such as colorons and E6 diquarks have not shown up (arXiv:1010.0203) – and nor have leptoquarks (arXiv:1012.4031) or new heavy gauge bosons (arXiv:1012.5945) either. Although these entities cannot be ruled out completely, LHC data have allowed them less room to hide – principally by allowing researchers to place stringent limits on the particles' masses.
Physics people make theories about the phenomena around us and then test them in the labs. The gist of above results is that some particle physics theories have been constrained. They might be right but we still can not say for sure.

P.S.: If the geography in first few sentences is too advance then here is some elementary geography from the most advanced country on the globe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Obituary of Miyan

Dr. Syed Mohammed Ahmed Had a Happy Go Lucky Personality
View of the participants in Condolence Meeting in Sunni Theology Department of AMU
Aligarh (Press Release)  A condolence meeting took place in the office of Management of Sunni Theology (Nizamat Sunni Deeniyat) on the sad demise of former Assistant Public Relations Officer Dr. Syed Mohammed Ahmed presided by Mufti Zahid Ali Khan, Manager Sunni Theology (Nazim Sunni Deeniyat). At this occasion the Imams of the university, the Prayer Callers and the workers of the Office of Sunni Deeniyat were present. The honorable president of the meeting termed the demise of the Dr. Syed Mohammed Ahmed a severe blow to the university values and traditions. He said that the departed man was very lively and a happy go lucky person (maranjan-o-maranj). Imam of Masjid Nadim Tarin Ubaid Iqbal Asim said that the departed soul was a gathering-in-person in his own right. He had deep love for the university community. Qari Muhammed Aftab Alam Sahab and Maulana Mujeebur Rehman Sahab too expressed their views on this occasion. After that following condolence resolution was presented.

The sad demise of Late Dr. Syed Muhammed Ahmed is a big tragedy for the university and all members associated with it. The Imams, Prayer Callers and the workers of the Nazim-e-Sunni Deeniyat office express their sorrow and pain and pray for his forgiveness in the court of Lord Most High, patience for the family and a substitute for the university. Ameen.

Recitation of Holy Quran too was arranged at this occasion.

The news was published by Roznama Rashtriya Sahara (Urdu), New Delhi Edition, 01-01-2011, p.6 and other newspapers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Shah Fazlullah (RA) in Union Hall

Union Hall of AMU, Aligarh has been a center of intense activity. Once students organized some function in which Shah Fazlullah Muhaddis Mujaddidi (RA) too was invited. When he entered the Union Hall some song was being played on the public address system. Hazrat (RA) asked for it to be switched off.

(Narrated by Miyan).

Alhazen (Ibn Al-Haitham)

(1) Sean Carrol on Cosmic Variance
(2) Sean Carrol's Wife in Physics World
(3) The Wikipedia
(4) Encyclopedia Dot Com
(5) Unesco Article (PDF)
(6) Iraqi Note (one, two)
(7) Optics
(8) Muslim Hero
(9) Optics (Wikipedia)
(10) First Scientist

Some Poetry

This has been sent by Owais Jamal Shamsi:

He was professing a very long journey,
The traveller who got down just like that!

(Woh to keh raha tha kayee roz ka safar
Zanjeer kheench kar jo musafir utar gaya!)

Tough like a stone, soft like a candy,
Amidst darkness, he was like light

(Patthar tha magar barf ke ghalon tarah tha,
Ek shakhs andhere mein ujalon ki tarah tha)

Neither like dreams, nor like thoughts,
He, in deed, was like a riddle of Maths.

(Khwabon ki tarah tha, na khayalon ki tarah tha,
Woh ilm-e-riyazi ke sawalon ki tarah tha.)

(We'll like to repeat that Miyan was very happy with Owais Jamal Sahab for making the Mush'airah circle very active. Latter doesn't remember the poet for the first couplet above, the last two are by Musharraf Mehzar.)

The VSD Season

It is VSD season in Miyan's university.
"Please Vote, Support and Dua"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

First Close that Note Book

A few years ago a lady posted a request on one of Aligarh discussion groups to know about her grandfather who was the head of a major department of AMU in 1947. Some Aligs sprang into action to help her. They realized that the people who can give information about him were all super seniors. One of them suggested that these people should be tapped to bring their version of AMU history as well as experience into tangible record. Since then some information about senior Aligs have been collected by above mentioned people that is available at some of the links collected here at AAA. It was tried to implement the idea on Miyan too and thus it was declared that we have a note book and notes will be taken on today's discussion for posterity. Miyan was hesitant and promised to do that later on. That was the wish of Lord Most High because Miyan did not live to fulfill that promise. That day he talked only after the note book was closed.

How to Talk to Indira Gandhi?

A delegation from Aligarh went to meet the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi to discuss problems of Muslims. Miyan was part of the delegation. The meeting took place either in Vigyan or Shahstri Bhawan. The spokesman was going strong-this is happening (against Muslims), that is not happening (for Muslims) and all that. She listened for some time and then hit the table with her fist. "This is constant complaining. Is this the way to talk to the Prime Minister?", she said. "Didn't we make a Muslim Chief Minister? Do you think that was easy? Didn't we make a Muslim the President of India? Don't you feel inspired by that?", she asked.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do Not Guess Past on the Basis of Present

Reissuing the works of Amir Khusro, publication of Preaching of Islam, writing of  A History of Sikhs are some of the things that will find a place in the world of learning at any level, national and international. That kind of thing does not seem to be taking place at this moment. When this was brought to Miyan's attention he remarked that do not guess the Aligarh of past on the basis of present.

Sultans of Coromandal

"Do not forget to read the book Salateen-e-M'abar", said Miyan.

Some things about Islam have spread faster than the spread of Islam itself. Like the fantasy that Islam has spread by the force of sword-a fantasy adored by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The irony is that it took a westerner, Thomas W Arnold, to dispel this spell. The continuing irony is that some people still harbour the same mindset about this in spite of the fact that the book Preaching of Islam by Arnold is more than a hundred years old. But this post is not about that. Similar work was done in Aligarh later also, not only in the university but also  in the societies associated with Aligarh Movement. Like the Muslim Education Society. Salateen-e-M'abar is a book that is product of that kind of activity. They give enormous insight into initial phase of Islam and Muslims in India.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Weather Report

This year the winter was considerable delayed in Aligarh. Deep into December 2010AC it seemed that winter might give it a pass. That was not to be. For more than a week by now the winter has been severe and the newspapers started saying that winter might break a hundred years record. Just for sample here are the minimum temperatures in centigrade:
04.01.2011  4.5
05.01.2011  3.8
06.01.2011  5.2

(Also to be posted at Thus Spake Hazrat Shaikh)