Thursday, March 31, 2011

Debate, Discussion, Consultation

The express tendency in debate is to score a point over others.

Discussion may lead to analysis paralysis.

Consultation (mashwirah) is the Islamic way to address your problems.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All in a Days' (or Weeks') Work

Here is a sample:

Mosque in Coquitlam Canada spray painted: "Sandniggas"

California: Two elderly sikhs are mistaken for Muslims and shot while walking (one killed, one remains in hospital).

California: 68-year-old woman finds desecrated Qur'an on her vandalized car.

California: Muslim, mother of three, graduate student thrown off plane for being suspicious.

Washington: Two plead guilty to hate attack on Sikh cab driver, who they thought was Muslim.

UK: Planned Muslim community center burnt down.

UK: Reporter who quit over anti-Muslim approach of newspaper gets threats.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bad Review, Bad Review

Reviewing Aligarh Movement is in vogue. Behzad Taimur is happy to write, we mean tweet,  that he has written a scathing critique of the Aligarh Movement. Here is that scathing critique.

Then there is another review here. To quote:
Thanks to Becker and Morrison an open hostility for anything Hindu that included the Congress formed the basis of the Aligarh Movement.

Indian Science Congress

Indian Science Congress is the annual juggernaut of Indian science. These people are very nice in that they maintain the list of their Sectional Heads from oldest times. Some interesting names from the Physics Section, some of them having AMU connection, are as follows. (For few years Physics Section was merged with Mathematics.)
1915 : C.V.Raman
1918: Wali Mohammad
1942: R.K.Asundi
1945: R.C.Majumdar
1954: P.S.Gill
1955: R.K.Asundi

Of course the world did not come to an end in mid fifties.

The Agha Khan Angle?

On October 20, 1920, the Aligarh University was granted its official Charter. In spite of several obstacles, the Imam continued his ceaseless efforts for the Muslim University, and further announced his annual grant of Rs. 10,000/- for Aligarh University, which was subsequently raised. The Ismaili individuals also made their generous contributions to Aligarh University. For instance, Mr. Kassim Ali Jairajbhoy gave Rs. 1,25,000 to found chairs of Philosophy and Science in the Aligarh in memory of his father.
Source : PositiveArticles

Thus Wrote S.Z.Qasim

In Physics the name of Prof.Wali Mohammad the former head of the Physics Department in the AMU, and also the head at Lucknow University in field of spectroscopy can be found in all the text books.
Source : Swadesi Science Movement

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Alig Connection

One might wonder as to what is the Aligarian connection in the earlier post titled Curing Eye Melanoma. Nothing directly. Indirectly a lot. Cyclotron is a sophisticated machine (not so to physics students) and costs a little bit. Even at the research level India has only few of them. Counting from east to west VECC (Variable Energy Cyclotron Center) at Kolkata. Even then a break through has to come at some time so why not now? AMU has the history of being the university to take the path breaking steps. Cyclotron is an accelerator and the Physics Department of AMU was among the first departments in the country to procure the ancestor of accelerators called a van de Graaf generator. Moreover Aligarh is some sort of Eye Care capital, in north India at least, and it is natural for AMU to go for such a machine. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, vote for a cyclotron for Ophthalmology Department for using proton beams for curing eye melanoma.

Curing Eye Melanoma

The latest instruments of basic science might have applications for rather regular requirements. Like medical treatment. This post is a place holder for this pure science vs applied science debate. Look at this post by L. Davies. Digg-in your heels, he'll say something after scuba diving distraction.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


K. Rangdhama Rao

Dr K. Rangdhama Rao (1898-1972) was a professor of spectroscopy from Andhra Pradesh. He is not directly related to Aligarh but somebody editing the Wikipedia page has recorded him has the doctoral advisor of Professor R.K.Asundi who was at AMU. Professor Rao was not Professor Asundi's supervisor, in all probability. The confusion might have occurred because of a lecture by later. On 30th of March 1980 Professor Asundi gave the 1979 K.Rangdhama Rao Memorial Lecture at Andhra University, Waltair. The lecture is available on the net in PDF form. In this lecture Professor Asundi had many appreciative things to say about Professor Rao. Dr Asundi was working at the Richardson Laboratory of Kings' College when Dr Rao visited this lab to further his own research interests. In his visit he explained some things to Dr Asundi. This interaction is fondly remembered by Dr Asundi in his above mentioned memorial lecture and claims honorary sort of studentship of Professor Rao. That is all.

The question still remains open as to who was Dr Asundi's supervisor at Kings' College.

Dear Student

Dear Student (Name),
Received your new research paper. To tell you the truth I can not understand much of it. There comes a time in the life of a teacher that he can not follow as to what his students are doing. But a teacher takes pride in that, I follow suit.
Your Teacher (Name)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Top Websites on Internet

Top 10 websites on the internet are
(6)Windows Live
(7) (Chinese Language Search Engine)
(10) (China's Internet Service Portal)

Source : Alexa

P.S.: The interesting thing to note is that Chinese policy of complete control of internet might give the impression that internet will be some minor activity in that country. All other websites in above list are, so to say, developed by the whole world except 7 and 10. These two belong to China. China is using internet to its advantage at its own terms. The proponents of freedom might be piqued at it but to their own chagrin.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Previous Nuclear Disasters

Fukushima Reactor Disaster

First you would like to have the news from the news reporters. Or may be summary because it has been going on for few days now. So here is the Wikipedia article.

Then you would like a scientific perspective. American media is peculiar in this aspect. They just pick up Michio Kaku to explain anything and everything related to science. Kaku is a string theorist and may not be good for all purposes. Here Zaperz complains about it in the present context.

A better coverage is by another string theorist. It is here.

A nuclear engineer should be even more to the point. Here is that.

Unrelated people also noticed the quake. Here is one example.

Daniel at Cosmic Variance begins with the following ominous statement.
 Japan is in the midst of a slow-motion nuclear meltdown.
 Pray and hope for the best. (Hat Tip Till Here : Interactions Blog Watch )

Heart softening photographs are here. (Hat Tip : Kaleem Kawaja)

Monday, March 14, 2011

How Do You Create an Earthquake?

Three retired businessmen were fishing on a jetty on a bright sunshine filled day.

One of them asked the man nearby him, "So what is your story?"

"Well I had this big plastic factory," the man replied, "which had this accidental fire". "Fortunately I had an insurance. I claimed that and then I took retirement."  "And what is your story?", he asked back.

"Well I had this big cotton factory. Two years back there was a huge fire in it that completely engulfed it. Fortunately I had an insurance. I claimed that and then I took retirement."

They both turned to the third man, "And what is your story Sir?"

"Well I had this construction business. Few years back there was a big earthquake that completely demolished the big housing complex that I was constructing. This made me go bankrupt but luckily I was insured. I claimed that and now I do not work."

The other two exchanged meaningful glances.

"And, sir, how do you create an earthquake?", they asked.

On Physics Department of AMU

Dr R.C.Budhani, Director, National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi speaking as the Chief Guest at the National Conference on Recent Advances in Condensed Matter Physics being held at the Physics Department of AMU on 14 and 15 March, 2011 said the following kind words:
I feel happy to be at this great seat of learning that nearly a hundred years old. It has given many scientists, writers, poets, historians and statesmen to the country. Its Physics Department is amongst the oldest in the country. Initially, I believe, it had two specializations, nuclear physics and spectroscopy. It trained a large number of people who later on served all over the country and the world. I particularly shall mention Professor P. Venkateswarlu who, though not an alumnus of AMU, was here. He later on went to IIT Kanpur. Though I did not meet him there but I inherited his lab.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japanese Prowess

Scientist Perturbed

 A serious physicist insisted that you do not need God to explain disasters.
Mullahs ridiculed the notion that science could provide an explanation; they incited their followers into smashing television sets, which had provoked Allah's anger and hence the earthquake. As several class discussions showed, an overwhelming majority of my university's science students accepted various divine-wrath explanations.
Since majority of the students did not really go with him it might look like a no-benefit exercise to take up this issue. It is not. Some issues still need clarification. Or elaboration.

There is nothing wrong in the scientific explanations of natural phenomena like earthquakes and tsunamis barring the assertion that God has nothing to do with them. The whole point of the creation of world is to facilitate man to worship his Lord. Man tends to forget it and Lord being Most Kind keeps reminding him. An earthquake is a reminder, a drastic one but a reminder nevertheless. There are small reminders also. Like a person becoming a father. In celebrations we usually forget this is reminder that one has to make room for the next generation-it has already arrived. Similarly the death of a near or a dear one or a neighbour. Or appearance of a white hair. These are all reminders that we have to leave this world.

Those who recognize these signs, we say that they have received the guidance. Those who do not, for them we say that there are curtains between them and the Signs of God. A person, who is really a gem of a person in terms of character, was to undergo a serious operation. The attending physician said to him that remember Allah, pointing upwards, and everything will be alright. This person replied that doctor do not rely upon Him, there is nobody there. May Lord Most High forgive us for this narration. (Zikr-e-kufr kufr nabashad.) By the Grace of Lord Most High this person completely recovered. But he missed the guidance.

People do miss that a white hair is a sign of life after death for which we should prepare. People miss that deaths around us, in the routine life, are signs of life to come-that we too have to go. People miss signs in personal disasters. And they do miss the signs in public disasters.

And if ye be thankful what will He get by putting you in trouble?

May Lord Most High give us the felicity to recognize His Signs and act according to the injunctions of his law.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

AMU in Current Science

Science periodical Current Science, from Bangalore, is India's answer to the British journal Nature. Its first volume came out in 1932. AMU got its representation in Current Science in volume 1 itself. R.F. Hunter wrote the following paper:
R.F.Hunter, The Electronic Theory of Triad Mobility, Current Science, Vol 1 , No3 (1932) 69
Lessheim and Samuel also appear early in:
H.Lessheim and R.Samuel, On Connection Between Di- and Tri-atomic Molecules, Current Science, Vol 2, (1933) 374
After that there are regular contributions from these authors. Then, after few years, there is a paper by Dr Muhammad Zaki Uddin not from AMU but Bonn, Germany as a Humboldt Fellow:

Muhammad Zaki Uddin, The Arc Spectrum of Iron in the Photographic Infrared Region, Current Science, Vol 3, (1935) 620
He must have joined AMU later on since there are papers by him from Aligarh.

There are other snippets of AMU Physics from Current Science that should appear here later on, Lord willing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Back Matter

Some time back we had presented some excerpts from the preface of the upcoming third edition of the book Elements of Solid State Physics by Dr Jagdish Prasad Srivastava, formerly professor at the Physics Department, here at AMU. Here is the back matter of the same:

                                                                  THIRD EDITION
J.P. Srivastava
This revised and updated third edition of the text builds on the strength of previous edition and gives a systematic and clear exposition of the fundamental principles of solid state physics.
The text covers the topics such as crystal structures and chemical bonds, semiconductors, dielectrics, magnetic materials, superconductors, and nanomaterials. What distinguishes this text is the clarity and precision with which the author discusses the principles of physics, their relations as well as their applications. The most notable features of this third edition are: a detailed discussion on the bonding and cohesion of atoms, the picture of Fermi level in extrinsic semiconductors, and a precise and elaborate treatment of grain boundaries. With the addition of the new sections and additional information, this third edition should prove highly useful for the students.
This book is designed for the courses in solid state physics for B.Sc. (Hons.) and M.Sc. students of physics. Besides, the book would also be useful to students of electrical/electronics and allied engineering disciplines.
  • Specific nature of primary and secondary bonds distinguished (Chapter 2)
  • A new section on the Fermi level in extrinsic semiconductors (Chapter 9)
  • A conceptualized view of Burgers vector(Chapter 12)
  • A precise and elaborate account of grain boundaries (Chapter 12)
  •  Two new sections on “The Limit of Smallness” and “ Hazard, Hope and Hype” (Chapter 16)

J.P. Srivastava is a former Professor of Physics from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and an Emeritus Scientist. He obtained his Ph.D. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and did postdoctoral research in Germany as a DAAD-Fellow. Professor Srivastava has over 30 years of teaching experience in solid state physics at the postgraduate level. He has published nearly 80 research papers in international journals in the areas of Crystal Fields, Phase Transitions, MIT, and CMR.

Nature Speaks

Cut back to 1929. Here is the abstract of a book review article from the famous science periodical Nature.

nature 123, 571-575 (13 April 1929) | doi:10.1038/123571a0

Physical Foundations of Chemical Theory

NO task is more difficult for the chemist of the present day than that of trying to keep abreast with those advances in atomic physics which affect him so closely that he cannot ignore (even if he cannot hope fully to understand) them. Sidgwiek's book on The Electronic Theory of Valency, which was. reviewed at length in these columns last year (April 7, 1928, vol. 121, p. 527), provided a partial solution of the problem from the chemist's point of view; but the brief mono graph of Lessheim and Samuel referred to below 1 may be regarded as a complementary contribution of unrivalled value from the physical side. The professional spectroscopist does not often realise how difficult his subject can be made for the lay reader, and it is a common experience, even when reading books or lectures of a semi-popular character, to be pulled up short by technical or controversial details of which no explanation is given or attempted.


  1. Die Valenzzahl und ihre Beziehungen zum Bau der Atome. Von Hans Lessheim und Rudolf Samuel. (Fortschritte der Chemie, Physik und physikalische Chemie, herausgegeben von A. Eucken, Band 19, Heft 3.) Pp. 98. (Berlin: Gebrüder Borntraeger, 1927.) 6dot40 gold marks.
 Both Von Hans Lessheim  and Rudolf Samuel were at Aligarh. Above publication, in all probability, is from the period before they joined Aligarh.

Monday, March 7, 2011

AMU Shining

We hope the current Yes I am Proud to be an Alig does not turn into India Shining type of event of few years ago. (Time flies fast-that fizzled campaign is nearly a decade old.) No aspiration cast on the sincerity of the proponents of the event. One specific point that is refusing to go away at a moment's notice is the fact that something called India Today-Nielsen Survey has ranked AMU 16 among Indian universities. First fifteen are: BHU, JNU, Delhi, Calcutta, Mumbai, Hyderabad, IISc, Jadavpur, Usmania, Andhra, Panjab, Bangalore, SNDT and Jamia. Yes, that it the list. Blaming methodology and other things might not take us far.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Uses of Raj

Raj means the British Rule in India. In an earlier post we have linked to the posts by two participants from Canada in a conference in Kolkata. In fourth of those articles one of them makes the following guess about British contributions to India:
1) The British united India by providing a common enemy. 2) British scholars (Sir William Jones) created the Asiatic Society in the 1784 and out of which came “Indology”, the study of the ancient Indian history. 3) They brought modern science at the same time as it was exploding in England, just after Newton and the rapid growth of industrialization.
Good points. Except that these leave Muslims out of the loop.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What has Science Popularization Got to do With Aligarh Movement?

Corner stone of Aligarh Movement is to impart modern education to Muslims. (We doubt that it is limited to Indian Muslims. It should also be clarified that non-Muslims are not excluded from Aligarh Movement.) There are other elements also in Aligarh Movement, and they are significant. But modern education is the theme.
Science is part of modern education. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan suspected that advancement of western civilization in general and British in particular has something to do with Science. And its application in real life, called Technology. He verified it by physically seeing the western scientific, technological and industrial establishment. Science education was specifically on his agenda, not merely as part of of the whole education but as the main focus. Including science popularization. He wrote books on that. Even if they were about pulleys.

Science Popularization is an element of Aligarh Movement.

What is Science Popularization?

Science popularization is presenting of scientific facts in a way that is accessible to curios non-practitioner of science. For example the mega best seller by Stephen Hawking (1, 2, 3) called A Brief History of Time was an attempt to present aspects of fundamental physics and cosmology to general public.

Another example is the best seller by Richard Dawkins called the Selfish Gene. This was more than science popularization. In the background it was popularization of Darwin's theory of evolution but the additional object was to raise that theory to the level of DNA.

In short the purpose of science popularization is to convince the common people that they can understand science even if they are not doing it.

There is also a pitfall of science popularization. Far too often people start getting the ideas to contribute to real science by merely reading literature that is supposed to be popularization of science. A case in point is the large number of cases where one encounters a person claiming to have proved Einstein wrong.

TRIUMF of Cricket

  TRI-University Meson Facility is not a good name for TRIUMF because it is now owned by sixteen universities and is not limited to mesons. It is Canada's National Laboratory for Particle and Nuclear Physics and located in Vancouver.

Cricket is not the national game of Canada. Or India, officially, for that matter. Practically it is. Two physicists from TRIUMF have incorporated their cricket experience in particular and India experiences in general in their blog posts on particle physics blog called Quantum Diaries. These posts can be read to get a cultural feeling of particle physics as well as foreigners' experience of India and cricket. Here they are : one, two, three, four.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Proud to be an Alig

Aligarh Muslim University Student's Union has announced the
Proud to be an Alig
fest. Good. But there is a hitch. Pride is a major sin. And in case you are still unaware let us recapitulate that a major sin is one which tilts the balance in favour of Hell. Yes, Hell with a capital H. And your plea that we are being fussy is not being admitted. Plea over ruled. There is a purpose for which we have been sent to this world. And it is utterly bogus idea to ignore that purpose while indulging in worldly affairs.

If this much is clear then we can start looking for the way out. No, not before that. Ready? Good. One can say that I am Happy to be an Alig. Or Glad. Or Honoured. Or Thrilled. Take your pick. In case you are still sulking for not being allowed to be proud then just think that nobody likes proudy people. Moreover you have been given so many options to choose from. Or to choose all of them. So go ahead and be happy, glad, thrilled, honoured and all that. But wait a minute. We have got another axe to grind.

Oh, well let us not be the spoil sport. So go ahead and have your fest.

And yes, we wrote the first blog post Mr Aamir Qutub. Send the early bird prize, pronto!

Update 1: Aamir Qutub is trying to web formats for Proud to be an Alig but all those pages are going 404.
Update 2: (1) My AMU has it already. (2) Facebook too has it. (3) Scribd is not legging behind.

P. Venkateswarlu (d.1997)

Another Aligarh Spectroscopy luminary was P. Venkateswarlu. 

Link to his obituary by N.A. Narasimhan in Current Science, Vol. 74 (1998)178 should appear here, later on, since at the moment the server is unavailable.

At Alabama A and M University there is P. Venkateswarlu Memorial Lecture every year. The list of speakers is overwhelming. These are all Nobel Laureates.

P. Venkateswarlu was a student of R.K.Asundi.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Aligarh at Indian Mathematical Scene

Curiously the well known science journal Current Science reprinted an old memoir type article of 2003 by famous mathematician M.S.Raghunathan in August 2010. The article is heart warming because of ample references to AMU related personalities. Here is the link. There is a similar article, somewhere on the net, by well known condensed matter physicist Sushanta Dattagupta with similar reference to AMU, this time in the context of Physics.

Piara Singh Gill (1911-2002)

To get confidence in present one sometimes looks for solid rocks in the past to get a place to put a foot on. There should have been enough foot steps to follow in a history that is more than 135 years long. Sadly there are not many. The situation is only slightly better at the national level. In fact late Professor Babu Lal Saraf (1923-2009), like many others, once asked with lots of pain as to the number of  technical terms that have been introduced by us into Physics-his specialization. Question is much more acute in the context of Aligarh Movement.

Professor Piara Singh Gill  (Wikipedia, Current Science Obituary, The Hindu Obituary) is one name where one gets some glimpse of those things that could be heart warming. Here we have a man, who expired nearly a decade back in the US, who could at least talk of some stalwarts of Physics as personal friends. We see that in his autobiography Up Against Odds ( googlebooks, amazon). Out of the four customer reviewers at Amazon at least one of them calls his a Nobel level physicist.

He headed our Physics Department from 1949 to 1963.

How to Spot an Alig?

The latest version of How to Spot an Aligarian is out.

(1) Sohail (2) Deedahwar