Saturday, November 26, 2005

Return of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

RealTechNews blog featured an article about bacterial photographs created by bio-engineered E. Coli that produce a black pigment when NOT exposed to light and vice versa.

And look what the bellyache bacteria have drawn for us! It's not "Take me to your leader". Or maybe it is?

This diabolical daguerrotype was made at a Longhorn lab in collaboration with Chris Voight's synthetic biology team from U. Cal San Francisco who created the photosensitive strain of bacteria.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No place like home

News 8 Austin profiled my lab, the Wireless Networking and Communications Group at The University of Texas at Austin last night as part of a news story on the recent trend of increasing numbers of international engineering graduate students opting to return back to their home countries upon graduation.

They interviewed fellow-labbie Aamir Hasan who cheers for the wrong side ;) in a cricket match

Incentives are extended by foreign governments too. Aamir Hasan is an
example of that. His education is paid for by the government of Pakistan.

"The government felt, about five or six years ago, that they needed a lot of Ph.Ds from abroad so that they could study at a good university and then come back and take the knowledge back with them to Pakistan," Hasan said.

The report goes on to state that
...industry recruiters say there's just not enough in the states to fill the
demand because the field isn't emphasized enough in K-12 education, which
ultimately affects who ends up in advanced graduate programs like the
But the dilemma of when to go back and how to engineer a career shift back home is a worrying one. Career paths of people that have made the jump back across the pond are followed with interest and hardball salary negotiations are whispered urgently over veggie pot-luck soirees. But India is just in its infancy as far as R&D outfits are concerned. Lucent, Microsoft, IBM and GE have R&D labs in India, but they are still too small to accomodate even 50% of the PhDs that graduate in engineering grad programs in the US.

To see the video go here.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Pat versus the Vat

[This one is via SepiaMutiny]

Pat Robertson has struck terror in the hearts of people in the little town of Dover, PA. Now that the debauchers in New Orleans and Houston have been appropriately chastised by God for dodging taxes, cheating on their wives and in general causing the sort of mayhem that would do any frat-house foam-party proud, the good folks of Dover know that Mr. Robertson does indeed have a direct line with the Man Upstairs. Everyone in and around Dover is just waiting for the disaster to strike in their area.As far as I think, FEMA should start scrambling and getting choppers and relief trucks and disaster management personnel to Dover already.

But the worst affected are the meteorologists in and around PA. Ungodly men and women of science, these folks have hunkered down on their computers and their elaborate weather models ever since Robertson spoke on his ‘700 Club’ and have been trying their best of convince themselves that nothing bad can happen. But they know that those weather models are mere scientific constructs that happen to work most of the time. They know that they have nothing against a Divine Design to, say, strike them with a plague of locusts or some such.

Equally worried are the neighboring school district boards. Since they have not committed the infraction against God yet, they are indignant that they should be spared. So we are guessing that anything as wide-reaching as a hurricane can be ruled out. Because as we all know God, like Don Corleone, loves to play tit for tat. You screw with Him and He screws you back. You play nice and He plays nice with you.

But some relief has come in from a quarter as unlikely as the Vatican itself. Cardinal Paul Poupard who leads the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture, like the darned Frenchman that he is, said that the Genesis description of how God created the universe is “perfectly compatible” with Darwin’s theory of evolution. In an ecclesiastical slap on Pat’s wrist, the Cardinal of over twenty years went on to say that "taking something never meant to be a scientific explanation and calling it science" is downright silly. The Pope, who is the official voice of the Big Man in the Sky down here, weighed in on the matter saying that there was “creative reason” behind the natural world and that must be understood as a “creative project” as a matter of faith. U.S. Jesuit Father George Coyne, director of the Vatican Obervatory offers that the Pope was alluding to God as a creator that nurses his creation along, but does not delve into the nitty gritty.

Lemme break this down for ya’ll. In the modern lexicon of business therefore, the Vatican thinks that God is more Intelligent Manager than Intelligent Designer and that the non-imposing business of figuring out how to make things work has been outsourced to Science. Fr. Coyne thinks that calling God a ‘designer’ belittles Him and his awesomeness. To stretch our analogy, it is like saying Michael Dell handles complaints about laptop malfunctions from a phone-line in his garage.

Now we are waiting for Pat Roberston to make ominous noises about how the pillars of St. Peter’s are getting shaky and Rome is along a geological fault line.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I got tagged to do this and I have to, despite me hate of compiling lists.

7 things I want to do in this lifetime:

1. Visit South America
2. Write a novel
3. Drive a Ferrari
4. Say “I don’t think so, X!” where X is some head-of-state using my best Home Improvement voice.
5. Go snorkelling in the Australian Bay.
6. Create a foundation to end scientific ignorance.
7. Own a smallish Monet.

7 things I can do:
1. Cook almost anything anytime
2. Read trashy novels
3. Calculate or bound asymptotic limits of almost anything
4. Tie a neat tie
5. Make a joke about almost any situation — in most cases an improper one
6. Plan, plan and replan future events at any time of the day
7. Find the right word at the right time.

7 things I can not do:
1. Code in VHDL
2. Stop eating chocolate
3. Drink milk
4. Read Bong literature in the original
5. Let stupidity go by me uncommented
6. Take it easy
7. Compile these long lists.

7 things that attract me to another person:
1. Dark hair
2. Dead-pan humour
3. A nice singing voice
4. Articulate
5. Good taste
6. Smell
7. Work hard, party hard ethic

7 things I say most often:
1. um...I don’t know
2. I don’t think so, X! — to person X.
3. Of course.
4. ‘Sup brotha. Where’s the party.
5. How’s the love life?
6. And??
7. Work it baby.

7 people I'd love to do this:
You...and your alter-egos.
No seriously, I’d love almost anyone that reads this to do this. Why, you ask? It is a great way to waste time and pretend to figure yourself out.