Enter at your own risk

“Which major do you want to take?”

“Why, of course, Physics. I love Astronomy!”

“So, you have read A Brief History of time, right?”

“Yes, but how do you know?”

“How many times?”

“Three…each time I read I understand more and more.”

When I was having this conversation recently with a first ­year student, it seemed to me that I was talking to my younger self, whom I had left behind a long time ago. I used to spend long times star­-gazing and I felt proud about myself if I spotted Mars or Sirius. The twinkling stars did rub off on me. When I started my formal studies in physics, I had the same sparkle in my eyes as a teenager has when they get to meet their infatuation, the same odd mixture of excitement and nervousness. Fed on the stories of legends and their serendipitous discoveries from my childhood, I entered my college education, eagerly waiting for an apple to fall on my head.

However, when I got my hands dirty in the field, I realized most of these apples don’t fall so easily on your head. And worse, most of the time I found myself mundanely watering or pruning the apple trees planted by the giants. Often I was trying to debug someone else’s program that ran over hundred of lines. Or I was banging my head on following a few steps of a derivation in a research paper where author had provided me professional help with an extremely enlightening remark ‘It can be shown that …’. Apparently for everyone it was too trivial to waste time on it. Those excruciatingly long hours made me realize that one doesn’t always get to do the “real” physics. My formal training did teach me fairly advanced stuff like how to compute cross-­sections of particles colliding in Large Hadron Collider. But it left me high and dry when it came to quenching my younger self’s curiosity like why rainbow’s shape is a bow or when clothes are soaked in water, why their color turns darker or why do whirlpools in wash­basins always rotate in anti­clockwise direction. Further, simplicity might be the trademark of a good theory but working with spherical cow approximations doesn’t give satisfaction in the long run.

Many a times I asked myself where is the legendary musk for which I came looking for. I don’t think that hero­ worshiping is a sin. No, instead my concern is with being blindly romantic. This risk is quite high in physics (unlike mathematics) because here often only the glamorous side of the story is told. While recalling how Einstein solved splendidly the aether problem with his special theory of relativity in 1905, it is also important to stress contributions of Poincaré, Lorentz and others. History’s tendency to credit collective success to an individual does glamorize the story, but on the cost of sometimes giving an incorrect picture of what actually happened.

To conclude, there is no denying the fact that physics has its own rewards. My only hope is that when you find that research is not always a free ­flowing joy, when you find that you are stuck in a blind alley despite your best efforts, when you are desperate for some sign of physics to pop up in your lengthy calculations, then you would not complain that nobody told you so. Because I did.

Taxonomy of Love

What is love? A working definition could be love is something more than attachment. If you don’t like my definition, you would at least agree with mathematician G.H Hardy who said that “we may not know quite what we mean by a beautiful poem [love], but that does not prevent us from recognizing one when we read [see] it”. Once preliminaries are out of our way, I would list down my classification of various types of love seen around us -

  • Casual Love: It can be in the form of what people say to be infatuation/crush/puppy love. Or it can be a one-night stand. You get as easily infected as you get over it. Despite its short shell life, it can sometimes start with a thunderbolt and leave a lasting trace.
  • Domestic Love: Love that you take for granted. This guaranteed stability is its cause for salvation as well as its downfall. You would go all around the world looking for love ignoring it completely. But each time you return disappointed, domestic love would be always there waiting for you with its open arms, just like home. This is the most undervalued, underrated love.
  • Solitary Love: Love that is best enjoyed without nobody’s company, all alone in the seclusion. Of course, narcissism is included in this category but I am sure you are not thinking about it. It is popularly believed that males are the sole practitioner of this ignominious love. But there are beauties who have discovered it for their private pleasure. Once you taste the fruits of the labor, it is difficult to let go off it even for married ones. It is a great stress-reliever and you can have whenever you feel like, subject to only time and space constraint. For novices, it provides first opportunity to explore themselves.
  • Bedroom Love: Many would vehemently keep enough distance between the words love and sex. There is not any if we we are talking about bedroom love. Now again many of us would say what one does which involves above the waist is spiritual love and the one which involves below the waist is physical love. Why there is so much reluctance to accept the divinity and purity of the orgasmic pleasure one gets during copulation? Accept it and enjoy it without any guilt! It is not for nothing that Pagans believed that it is a means of enlightenment.
    Okay, I think a clarification is in order. The whole one-night stand affair is casual love but what you do during the night is bedroom love.
  • Unrequited Love: Love that is tragic and comic at the same time. You would be pledging your love to be pure (read not associated with sexual desire) in front of their photographs and dreaming to make them your life partner, but the other doesn’t even get to know that you exist. Or worse, they know everything about your love, but they don’t care about it or they pretend so. If you are wasting your time playing the waiting game, it means you believe it is the latter. Don’t do that. Instead follow tenth commandment of Osho: do not search; that which is, is; stop and see. This is the most despicable love. Avoid it at all costs and move on to a different love as soon as possible.
  • Perfect Love: Love that is told to be eternal, absolute and unconditional. Almost always it is supposed to be love-at-first-sight with a zing factor. In other words, once you see it, you can never miss it. It is often believed that it is spontaneous; you don’t need to put any effort as it will come looking for you on its own. Sadly you rarely experience it and if you do, it doesn’t last for more than a few moments. Every relationship has those perfect moments of triumph over banality. And nostalgia makes you feel you only had such moments in your past. If you are wise enough to resist nostalgia, then you would find yourself lured by the red roses and chocolates, walk during rains or full-moon nights, a world painted by the romantic songs, movies and novels. All of them are bent on making you believe the magic is for real. At the end of the day, they are a substitute for reality which help you to indulge in what is called vicarious love.
  • Vicarious Love: Love that is derived, the love you experience second-hand either in romantic novels or movies. You can’t brush aside its seriousness just because it’s imaginary.

(Acknowledgement: Inspiration goes to Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the time of cholera, and all of my past and present loved ones)

Just one step at a time

It was thrown into water
but there was no splash.
It shattered into pieces
but there was no sound.

I expected a cry or a sob.
But no, there was just
silence that wanted to
embrace with its cold arms.

You are supposed to dream,
that’s what they said.
And do dream big,
that’s what they told.

But what to do when
stars sink to bottom?
When they are in free
fall without an end?

No, you don’t have the
heart to ask the mortals,
with corroded innocence,
to build castles again.

Why don’t we leave
the romanticism for
only the naive who are
on the door-sill?

Just look neither too far
ahead into rosy future
nor too behind into
your nostalgic past.

Mortals ought not to
etch long straight lines on
the incomprehensible,
divine canvas.

A recipe to deal with trauma

Don’t spit it out!
As they often say
Don’t spoil the vacuum!
As they always do.

In a tiny corner
of your heart,
put it there,
precise and cold.

Store this also away
from world’s gaze,
from their want
of entertainment.

Bear it alone,
not because it’s
a secret to be
shared with none.

Observe in dark,
not because it’s
your moment which
tingles you there.

No, not at all.
Because otherwise
you will go through
it more than once.

Each time more
vivid than before.
Each time more
distant than before.

So, leave it there
to be beaten hard,
wait for it to get
dried under the sun.

Then just snap
it into two.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 850 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,071 other followers

%d bloggers like this: