## Magic

I love anything that evokes a sense of childlike wonder in me. Magic does that to me.

I have loved magic shows ever since I was little. My father would take us to P. C. Sorcar’s magic “INDRAJAL” shows, which generally showed up in Nagpur every couple of years.[1]

Unfortunately, I did not get to watch any live magic shows since my childhood. Fortunately, these days I can watch the best of them on the internet. Granted that it’s not the same as a live performance but in some senses it is better — you get a much more intimate view of the show. Continue reading “Magic”

## Doing Arithmetic

Humans are amazing in their variety. A dear friend of mine would sometimes call me for help figuring out some bit of arithmetic. “Hey Nu,” she’d say, “what’s 17 percent of 200?” That’s one end of the spectrum; at the other end is this Chinese kid. Prepare to be amazed.

I am sure that it would take me over an hour to do what the kid does in two minutes. What are those weird finger movements he does while doing the additions? Continue reading “Doing Arithmetic”

## Train driver’s view

Probably because I associate trains with holidays when we were growing up I love trains. One time many years ago I even got to ride a diesel-electric locomotive hauling a passenger train in India — a rare treat. Thanks to YouTube, these days you can get a virtual ride in a locomotive. My favorite train-driver’s view channel is one that goes by the handle HinduCowGirl.

The driver is a Norwegian lady, who I believe is also a sky-diving instructor. She has heaps of videos of the trains she drives. I confess that I spend an inordinate amount of time watching them. All of them are pre-recorded since they don’t have the internet connectivity to live-stream the videos but many are streamed with live chat. It’s fun to hang out with others who share the love of trains. OK, so here’s one of those videos.

## What about that Higgs boson?

The last time I had mentioned the Higgs boson in connection with the naming of the particle. But what is the Higgs boson? Particle physics is hard to comprehend because it deals with the extremely small. We, middle-sized creatures, are not equipped to comprehend the infinitesimally small or the infinitely large. Moreover, them itty-bitty things lie in the domain of quantum mechanics — which according to Feynman, if you believe you understand QM then it means that you actually don’t. QM is useful but incomprehensible. Thus, human comprehension is not a precondition for human utility. Also, although there’s little utility in it, attempting to comprehend advances in high energy physics can be fun. So here’s something just for fun.

## Visual Perception Lessons

Our brains create the what we observe the world to be. A pretty awesome set of lessons on visual perception from the Mind Lab. Start with “Lesson 1: Illusion of an Uninterrupted World” by clicking on the thumbnail picture. The second lesson is on “Constructing a 3-D World from 2-D Images.” The next lesson is “Visual Interpretation of the Physical World.” And finally, “Perception beyond Sensory Input.” The web is amazing. There’s so much out there to learn. Have a fun weekend.

## May I have a large container of coffee

That could be the mnemonic for 3.1415926, the first few digits of pi. Have a happy pi day (3/14) and contemplate Euler’s identity.

## A Favorite video from YouTube Play: “Lucky by All India Radio”

Go check out the videos shortlisted for playing at YouTube Play celebration event at the Guggenheim Museum. What’s that?