Archive for the ‘ World ’ Category

Wordless Thursday – World water content

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We only use 10 percent of our brains – FALSE

It’s the old myth heard time and again about how people use only ten percent of their brains. While for the people who repeat that myth, it’s probably true, the rest of us happily use all of our brains. That tired Ten-Percent claim pops up all the time. In 1998, national magazine ads for U.S. Satellite Broadcasting showed a drawing of a brain. Under it was the caption, “You only use 11 percent of its potential.” Well, they’re a little closer than the ten-percent figure, but still off by about 89 percent. In the beginning even I looked at that concept and thought of it as a plausible explanation for  a lot of things including magic, psychic abilities etc.

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During the past few years and after various rounds of debates with friends, doctors and with engineers alike, I started to doubt it. One reason this myth has endured is that it has been adopted by psychics and other paranormal pushers to explain psychic powers. The biggest of these would be main stream media, there have been a few hundred movies showing psychics who have been seen saying “We only use ten percent of our minds. If scientists don’t know what we do with the other ninety percent, it must be used for psychic powers!” There have been even scores of books to those who are not exposed movies that time and again mention this tidbit saying that the rest is for the subconscious mind. Bollywood is not left far behind as well, Karthik calling Karthik was another movie which used this point.

The argument that psychic powers come from the unused majority of the brain is based on the argument from ignorance. In this Argument, lack of proof for a position (or simply lack of information) is used to try to support a particular claim. For example: Two people see a strange light in the sky. The first, a UFO believer, says, “See there! Can you explain that?” The skeptic replies that no, he can’t. The UFO believer is gleeful. “Ha! You don’t know what it is, so it must be aliens!” he says, arguing from ignorance. I am not a person who would say that UFO’s dont exist, neither do I say that they do. But I think there is not enough information to make a judgement on the same.

Getting back to the point, technology is working in my favor when it comes to proving this myth wrong.

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  1. Brain imaging research techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie fallow. Indeed, although certain minor functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain. Just as people don’t use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don’t use all of their brain at once. For any given activity, such as eating, watching television, making love, or reading, you may use a few specific parts of your brain. Over the course of a whole day, however, just about all of the brain is used at one time or another.
  2. The myth presupposes an extreme localization of functions in the brain. If the “used” or “necessary” parts of the brain were scattered all around the organ, that would imply that much of the brain is in fact necessary. But the myth implies that the “used” part of the brain is a discrete area, and the “unused” part is like an appendix or tonsil, taking up space but essentially unnecessary. But if all those parts of the brain are unused, removal or damage to the “unused” part of the brain should be minor or unnoticed. Yet people who have suffered head trauma, a stroke, or other brain injury are frequently severely impaired. Have you ever heard a doctor say, “. . . But luckily when that bullet entered his skull, it only damaged the 90 percent of his brain he didn’t use”? Of course not.

I guess I am at this time convinced that the myth needs to be busted for all, and the fable of sort needs to end.

A lot more can be read on this topic with references here.

India Shining – Construction projects abroad

Gulf news featured an article recently about how Reliance has won a project in the USA for working out GAS processing of a huge Gas deposit along with Atlas Energy. India’s Reliance Industries will join hands with Atlas Energy and pick up a 40 per cent stake in Atlas’s operations in the Marcellus Shale. This natural gas project could hold enough natural gas to satisfy US demand for a decade. The project spans parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

Reliance, controlled by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has been working hard to expand its presence outside India, break into new markets and broaden its various businesses including refining, oil and gas exploration and petrochemicals. I started discussing the same with my friends here, and together we realized that it seems to be like a small trend that is growing.

India has been known for a long time for its software exports as well as agricultural produce, the technology sector including hardware design with the Notion Ink and the Pi also seem to be racing ahead. But a lesser known sector of construction, EPC Contractors (i.e. Engineering, Procurement and Construction) is slowly but surely making its presence felt around the world. Snooping around the internet I found wuite some good examples of companies from India making a mark abroad in EPC.

Starting with Dubai, Dubai’s construction market is mostly comprised of South African companies, but the Electrical engineering world is dominated completely by ETA, a company based in Dubai but owned and operated by a huge Indian work force. Larsen & Tubro are making their presence felt, so is Voltas. Punj Lloyd, Tata Projects and Reliance are now taking major strides in taking over the Dubai Construction scene. The middle east is checkered with projects from the above companies. Moving along, the Indian companies are getting into markets like Europe and Africa at large. Reliance’s entry into US is a good sign.

Having such world class Indian Companies working the ambitions of Indian Architect and developers is making the developments in India world class as well. What still eludes me is why Indian Infrastructure is still so bad ?????

Facebook and Death

A while ago I wrote two posts, one about Facebook learning to deal with Death and the second asking the question what happens to your digital self when you die ? Yes, FaceBook did come up with a solution to Memorize pages of friends who were no longer amongst us, but Facebook has now gone one Up with the concept of a sort of a virtual cemetery: a place where people could record their thoughts, memories and life lessons for their family and the public to learn from and discuss. Our Facebook pages are our living testaments. They feature some of our most important memories, the people we care about, and in some cases, our life’s work. They’re a version of our autobiographies and when we die, they can serve as a form of our obituaries.

If your friends have lost someone recently, you’ve probably seen them mourn and celebrate the person’s life online. Sometimes friends or family will create a group dedicated to the memory of that person., and people will add in the memories that they have had with them. When the family or close relatives of that person visits the page, I imagine the feeling is rich and meaningful in a way that’s different from visiting the cemetery.

Facebook’s addition of the ability to “memorialize” pages — a policy born of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was a good start. Memorializing pages turns a personal page into a memorial page. The page is only accessible to confirmed friends and sensitive information like phone numbers and status updates are removed to protect the privacy of the individual. Friends can leave messages on the page and look at the deceased person’s wall postings and photos.

If nobody goes through the process of having the page memorialized or taken down, the page lives on indefinitely and can lead to the jarring experience of seeing their photo pop up on your page with a message to “say hello” to them or add them as a friend. Facebook sets up those notifications to get infrequent users more involved so, naturally, people who have died are among those who show up most.

I suggest to utilize groups and group discussions to mourn and remember the deceased. The group pages allow anyone to join, not just people who were Facebook friends with the deceased. Groups are set up to be more of a community so it facilitates interaction among people. People can discuss specific memories, or upload photos for example.

Facebook doesn’t have specific numbers of memorialized pages or groups, but as Facebook users get older, the numbers will increase. Perhaps someday there will be more memorial pages than pages for living people.

To report a deceased person’s profile on Facebook, and turn it into a memorialized account.

For more information on creating and managing a Facebook group.

Goo.gl really pushing QR Codes

How do you know that a technology is beginning to take off ? Google does something with it, thats how. After Twitter, the importance of the length of a webpage URL needed some real looking at, because you would get only 140 characters to include the URL and your message, hence the birth of the URL Shortness. Needless to say Google thought it was a good idea and came up with a similar service called goo.gl. Its been shown below that it is indeed one of the best services available out there. That is the first piece of the jigsaw.

qrcode

QR Code is something that Google has showed interest in from getting it onto the Google maps for businesses, to now a URL shortening service which generates QR codes for the shortened code. For those of you who don’t recall, a QR (“quick response”) code is a square barcode that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, any text or contact information onto a phone fast. With a barcode scanner app installed, you just point your phone’s camera at the code to read its contents.

If you’re already using Goo.gl to shorten your URLs, simply add .qr to the end of a shortened Goo.gl URL and it’ll instantly generate a QR code for you.

Once you’ve got your shortened Goo.gl URL—like http://goo.gl/aXum, which points to Lifehacker’s home page—just append .qr like so:

http://goo.gl/aXum.qr

…and you’ve got your personal QR code. Not bad.

Note: To use Goo.gl to shorten URLs, you need to be using the Google Toolbar, or you can point your browser here . You can also check out my previous post about QR Codes here.

Wordless Thursday – History of Marketing

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Augmented Reality Apps that I want to see today !

and How long it might take in reality.

[tweetmeme] Everyone remembers the movie Terminator 2, where Arnold gazes around his surrounding to find a lot of information about his environment which he uses to make appropriate decisions. The viewer is told about this awesome gadget when we are allowed to view through his eyes per say. Augmented Reality is demoed sort of for the first time, commercially.

Engineers, designers and futurists have been trying to make it a reality along with making demos of how it is going to look like. Based on what we have been seeing in the past few months, it is clear that it is possible and the feasibility and working details need to be worked out. Various smartphones have started offering clunky AR apps that show you things like restaurant reviews when you point your camera at a store’s facade. But with all the crazy technology already on today’s market, we’re saying that’s not enough! Here are some applications we want to see today.

1. Augmented Reality Gaming :

The experience of gaming is to take an awesome overhauling through Augmented Reality, there are a few demos available on YouTube. With the advent of the Playstation EyeToy as well as Microsoft Project Natal the gaming industry is reaching a point where they are not only happy to embrace the technology but also make it awesome.

I Want to have awesome gaming experience like first player shooter games to be available now. But seriously I think this can be made completely available after the invention of good AR spectacles or the contact lens (See below)

2. Augmented Reality Windscreen for the Car

Yes I did write about how GM is working its way forward to getting this feature enabled in our cars. But having this instead of a normal screen is so much more cooler, getting all the information that you would need while driving around is a great feeling along with making life so much more simpler.

Driving around to not only not loose your way, but be guided to emergency services when you are lost for direction is also an advantage of Augmented Reality.

GM / Siemens already have prototypes available, so this might be available in the next 2 years on a large scale.

3. Door Peepholes with embedded AR

Augmented Reality in doors can enable to have a look at the person on the door, making it safer to check on the person. When someone knocks on our door, we want to know not only if they look like a murderer, but also their name and age. This could be possible using a facial recognition camera built into the peephole. While we’re at it, why not a quick popup of our visitor’s Facebook profile or their most recent tweet? In an AR world, ain’t nobody taking us by surprise!

We already have Business cards which make use of Facial Recognition for identifying people. This needs to get extended. Lets hope that this happens soon and the product can be available in two years tops.

4. Augmented Reality Maps

Be it the Pandora of Avatar, or just Lakshya from Bollywood, 3D maps are cool. Not to mention the fact that in the age of combat preperation and planning they provide an added advantage to be able to see the actual scene where you would be able to go. Add to it, Google Maps, Sketchup and the Google Map Builder. You have all the information available to make a 3D map of most of the  places.

This technology will not only help combat, but will be able to provide support in terms of relief as well as interesting addition to the classroom as well. I would say this should be available now, as the technology allows it to be possible.

I guess I will do more of these applications in the part 2 of this post. Look out for it 🙂