Monday, December 28, 2009


An unpublished post...

Growth of a person is not just increase in his size, but the increase in the mental ability of that person to make decisions and choose between different options available (or unavailable)

As one grows, the complexity of situation one faces increases, so does the complexity of the mind. The easiest thing to do in a tricky situation (at least I thought it was easy) is to (try to) run away form the situation. But what one fails to realize is that there's no use of trying that. Escaping from what to what? Even if one changes one's physical location, the mental thoughts can stay stuck on the same thoughts associated with the previous location. However, at times, going to the beach does help :) Anyways, running from where to where? There's always some origin and some destination. But how does one know the final destination, that will make one truly happy? Wouldn't that be like predicting the future? I do not say that hoping for a certain future is wrong, but how does one know that that hope will actually give one happiness? It all depends on acceptance of one's situation and 'hanging in there' as the American phrase goes. Its probably the hardest thing to do, and its what everyone says makes one happy. There are of course other sources of happiness, like watching a movie or spending time with friends. But you see that all of these give momentary happiness. Permanent happiness... is something to be thrived for. And one of the first steps in that direction is to accept one's situation and deal with it, not run away. This acceptance is very hard. Very hard in deed. As my teenage years come to an end, this realization also dawns on me that I cannot run away from things I am scared off. Being an adult means being responsible.

If I consider myself to be in a black hole (which I am sure of :) ), then things like escape don't make sense. The escape velocity inside a black hole exceeds the speed of light. So I will have to accept whatever comes in to the black hole. Remember, this is if I somehow manage to get into the black hole without being torn apart myself. So if the escape velocity exceeds the physical limit of any speed, then escape is not possible. With life, as much as one wants to escape a situation, a lot of the times its not possible for one to escape. This is more so with much of the serious things in life, which are generally the ones one feels like escaping the most, such as death or disease. The biggest truth of life is that death will happen. So one has to accept it and there is no escape from that. Sometimes I feel like the journey to a goal is much more important than the destination itself. But the destination needs to be set, and the path needs to be more or less clear (in terms of current position, and direction in which one should move, much like a compass) for the journey to be made. So in the end, one realizes that life is a journey. People come and go. Some you grow up with, some become friends, some become companions, some you learn to love. However, the journey ends

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Learning in a Black Hole

So most of you (the readers) must have guessed by now that by black hole, I mostly refer to my college(life) in the U.S. It is an interesting journey, college life I mean. Its supposed to shape one's adulthood. School life has already done the basic of building up one's values and morals but college life adds to that, the mental ability to think and decide what is good or bad, or moreover, what should one be doing?

My journey so far in this black hole has been very transforming. I have come a long way from what I was. Let me first describe the past at present, the future can always wait :P
Ritika was a shy girl who was very much protected from the harsh realities of life and always saw the richness of goodness and beauty of life and other things around her. Well, almost always. Whenever she used to see something dark, she would run back home and come back to the beauty of life. This made her think/believe that the world was a wonderful place to live in. Well, I am not denying that it isn't but just the fact that there are some bad things in this world make the good things more appreciated. So I am grateful for that... (kinda shady huh? ;) )
Anyways, last year this girl entered the black hole. And can you see? The black hole accepts anything and everything into itself... I'm not sure about the physics of it, but I don't think it rejects much stuff if its coming straight at it(th black hole). So, the black hole has a specimen of the good and the bad. Well, this little girl Ritika wasn't aware of that... So it took her a long time to accept that fact, and in the process she started understanding that everyone around her was very different from what she had come across, and people in general are different from each other. And that itself is the fascinatingpart of life. If the colors weren't different, how would our eyes enjoy the beautiful sunset, or a peacocks feathers?

Anyways, Ritika is still in the process of accepting this fact (if she would have already undertood it, I don't think she would have been writing this blog).

Okay, it feel weird writing about myself as a third person, so I am going to switch back.
So anyways, I can now listen to my friends swear and not feel like leaving the dinner table, or be rude about, or even for that matter request them not to do so ( I still do that at times).
And today, I just realised what was bothering me foe such a long time, almost 3 months, was another truth of life which I just need to accept: everyone has a different pace of learn. Now I still have to discover the significance of this fact, but hmm.. wouldn't everyone be Einstein or a Nobel Laureate then? And then, we wouldn't appreciate them because, everyone would be the same, so why appreciate the norm? Hmm.. things have started to make sense now... at least a bit. So everyone has a different pace of learning and different way of learning... hmm... so, we can appreciate the difference that exists and thats what makes life so beautiful, eh?
It really does, when I learn something about something that I don't care about from a person who is really passionate about it, I get infected with that passionate and feel good about learning about that thing even though earlier, I didn't care about it.
Hmm... maybe this post asks for more, and maybe you the reader, if you are there, can add a bit more and help me learn.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Moving around a circle, is basically getting back to the same point after a particular period of time.
That is what life is about. I am not talking about the materialistic successes or failures, but the truth of life, that one who is born has to die someday. This statement is NOT falsifiable.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


So there are times in life when you feel like reversing time, or at least stopping it. And, probably the realization that this is not possible comes when you are old. Like, right now, I don't feel like growing up from this state of mind I have. But I feel like I was actually much older about a year ago, when I had just arrived in this place called the UCLA. I was much more mature, was quiet and reserved and did not indulge in gossip. Now, I am a chatterbox who doesn't think before she leaps into mid air, quite literally and ridicules herself and hurts other in the process. One may call this discovering one's true self. But what if one does not like this new self? The only thing that is similar between the two different versions of me is my passion for physics.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Deepawali in a Blackhole

Deepawali, or Diwali as most people call it is the festival of lights. It is very much an integral part of my life, much like anything else thats Indian. In fact, I didn't realise how important celebrating these festivals were until I realised that I wouldn't be able to do that in my own home country for at least the next 6 years. The puja, the Aarti; specially the aarti. Singing of bhajans, in our mandir, doing puja together as a family. It all became so regular, that maybe, I started taking it for granted.
Well, anyways, this year I celebrated Diwali in perhaps the most unusual manner ever. I went to a professor's place, ate Indian delicacies, danced, laughed, played games, and missed home. And then, then the magic happened. I went to my grad student friend's place. That really was like a Diwali away from home. There were six guys there, and I was the only girl, it felt kinda weird at first, but oh well, life is such.
So they lit up diyas (lamps) and took them near the pool. It was fun, and what added to that fun was ... well the fear of the fire alarm that could go off any second. I just couldn't stop laughing and being anxious at the same moment. Nervous laughter, one may say, no. It was much more than that, it was recognition of the fact that I was in a foreign country, doing something completely Indian, the feeling of being Indian, while standing on a foreign soil.
And then, we attempted to make pakodas. The guys had kept everything ready. But no, since I was the only girl there, I had to take charge, hadn't I? Well... I actually spoilt the whole thing. Like really, I did. I feel sorry about that. Hmm. I diluted the besan mix too much ...
in the end though, thank goodness those guys ... well (obviously ;) ) were smarter than me and decided to add more besan (kinda like dough). And things turned out well.
Then we all sat down to eat. We had, gol gappe, halwa plus some more stuff. It was soo good.
And then!
Someone picked up the guitar, another guy on the drums, and everyone was ready to roll with some Indian music. We sang... oh it was so nice. That was like bliss. In my mind, it was hard to believe that I was in the U.S. I kept thinking, this is what I would have been doing if I was living in a hostel in India.
Anyways, IT WAS GOOD, GREAT AND EVEN BEST! one of the best Diwali celebrations..

I miss that feeling (of being Indian, not that I am not). I don't really know if its an identity crisis. Well, I think its not, cause I know that I am Indian and I have come here to study Physics, and thats that, nothing more. But, when I am not studying physics? Then what? What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to feel?

These people here don't make me feel alien, yet they don't consider me as friends. It hurts. It really hurts. At times, I think that if I would have stayed back in India and completed my studies there, I would have formed deeper friendships. Hmm, but I can never trade the bliss I feel when I do study Physics here, or even mathematics, or actually, when I understand anything here. Its just great. So, basically, everything has a cost associated with it. And each of us humans on this planet is performing a cost-benefit analysis with each major decision we make. I didn't really think too much about coming to the U.S. I didn't really weigh the cost over the benefits. All I thought of was that I was going to study Physics, and this country teaches it well, which in fact it does. But after coming here, I realised that life is not just about learning a subject. One learns about life ... I mean, Life is not just about one single thing, it integrates a lot of things. I would not have met the friends I have right now (and these people are just awesome) had I not come to the U.S. Maybe one can't control these things. Maybe one can. I don't really know.
As one of the famous quotes said-
'If you want to lead a happy life, tie yourself to goals, not to people or things. '
I know at least three people who would disagree with this. They think that people bring happiness to them. But
What about the fact that, life is very unpredictable? I maybe friends with you today, and the next day, we have a big fight, something which just cannot be solved, and we end our friendship. What happens then? Isn't it harder to move on ... if one is too attached?
So anyways,
the conclusion is that I am still stuck in this black hole, it is full of mysteries which I will discover, some I have discovered already. But I don't belong here. This is not home (and Ritika, you know what I mean :) )

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why am I here? (Part 1)

WARNING: This entry may not talk about space, blackholes or any of that kinda cool stuff, so if you're looking for that, you can skip this entry.
So I have been wondering.... Why am I here? In the U.S.? for physics comes the answer. but is that enough. I do love physics and all, but it forms only 30-40% of the time I spend here. The rest of it... I don't really know what happens to it.
Its kinda weird. I am sitting in my dorm room, and I feel jealous of my friends studying in college back home in India. I am jealous, there's no denying that. But, as I browsed through some of the pics of these friends, I noticed something that I couldn't explain or understand. It was the shrinking of the bubble that any person has around him/her for his/her personal space. I was kind of surprised at how small that bubble had become in the Indian college going students. But maybe its because they are very genuine people and such things don't matter to them. I don't know, and probably won't ever know. I feel like I live on no man's land. Neither can I go back right now to my country (because I chose this path, and for the sake of integrity which I value a lot, I will not go back before my studies end here) nor can I blend into the crowd here ( I cannot accept a lot of values that exist in this culture). Its not like an identity crisis, I know that, but its confusion nonetheless. I don't know what to do. I do not think of physics all the time you know, I am not that dedicated. But I don't know what to do when I am free.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This is why I like blackholes, this is why I am here!

So I made this presentation on singularities (that I had created it like 2 years ago) today. It wasn't one of the best shots I could have given, but it definitely gave me the excitement I was looking for in Physics.

For all of those who do not understand what a singularity is, it is basically a point on the graph of a mathematical function at which the function is undefined. The simplest example is y=1/x . As you approach 0 from the left, the function tends to -infinity (read as negative infinity) and if you approach it from the left, it tends to +infinity. So what is going on at x=0? we do not know. But perhaps thats what science is all about. Admitting that you don't know something, but then trying to understand it. So ow does a singularity come into the discussion of black holes? Well, what exactly is a black hole, I don't really know. But from what I understand, it is a singularity, or has a singularity at its center. When a star collapses beyond a certain point, that is if its density reaches a value that is more than the critical density (some number that I don't remember right now and am too lazy to google it), it does not have the strength to escape its own gravitational pull. In fact, nothing has that strength (there are some exceptions), even light, a massless entity. So basically, density = mass/volume, and we know that the mass of a star is finite, then if its volume tends to zero, its density tends to infinity, and thats a singularity there and then! (I'll talk more about it if I can gather my thoughts in a better manner than how I just did).
Stephen Hawking thought of the reverse of the formation of a black hole and related it to the origin of the universe. An infinitely dense point of/in space-time got a kick start from somewhere ( I don't really know much about it, like was there a kick-start kind of thing, but that is my assumption/opinion/take on this situation). And that dot just expanded into the universe we see today. Thats just very interesting.

Just in case I forget, I also saw the Moon and Jupiter and its 4 or 6 moons tonight through a telescope that rests (during the day) on top of the Math Science Building, 9th floor at UCLA. I must tell you, it is one of the most beautiful feelings int he world. I am so in love with the moon. No wonder Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and other Apollo astronauts agreed to risk their lives to go to the moon. Just looking at the moon transports you to a different world that is so different and far off from this beautiful planet of yours. It also gives you a sense of belonging to this planet, you feel like you have a responsibility on your shoulders to take care of it. Would it not have been even more beautiful had it not been touched by man and been drilled into to construct steel skyscrapers?

I just want to end this by saying what I wrote down a couple of years ago in my diary-

My future remains unclear,
As dark as Space itself,
or as misty as fog.
However, the specks of light,
that shine so bright,
the Stars, Nebulae & Planets
raise a hope in me.
They inspire me to reach out to them,
and to conquer my fears.
For man could never reach the moon,
if he had feared the dark black of Space.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I miss innocence

I miss the innocence I had
when I was 18 years younger
and had no worries about the world,
no negative feelings other than sad or bad,
when the world was full of wonders(it still is).
I miss the honest confessions of feelings
of fear or being upset.
I miss all of that and more
I miss the innocent questions I once raised,
which made elders smile or laugh out loud.
I miss the innocent friendships I had with
most of the people around me,
whether old or young.
I miss my childhood, for there
was so much more to discover then,
even though it appears that my mental horizons have broadened since.
The honest curiosity, the innocent eyes, and the state of bliss
I miss them all and more.
It was a beautiful world, it still is.
But only now, I am an outsider
rather than living inside it.
I look at kids asking beautiful honest questions
and it makes me want to become a child once again.
The feelings of hatred, jealousy and complexes cloud
my mind,
and make me think ill of others.
What good is it to do that,
nothing more than a mental satisfaction
of being better than others.
And is that at all true,
can it ever be true?
Never, for we were all born with the same brains,
same eyes, and mouth and ears and nose,
the only difference was our minds.
And after the age of 16 I imagine,
it has been us who has either damaged or polished it.
Being innocent as a child is something I want to do,
for only a child can learn and grow,
we elders seem to think we know it all, and thats the end of learning!

Friday, August 21, 2009


So I just realized that there are 6 billion+ people on this planet (quite literally, yet metaphorically) and I would have interacted with about 600 of them , either digitally or in person. Its like this interconnected world, yet all I think is about myself. Its weird, the dynamics of life..(not grammatically correct) Somehow I get into this college, and somehow I meet people online who're going to be going there with me... and then plans are made to meet up. And we do meet. Some we remember , some we don't, I mean, some stay your friends and some are just acquaintances whose path you crossed once in your lifetime. How many people in this world would be such acquaintances be?
Some you think will be your best friends and things will stay like that for a long time, if not forever. And yet they go out of your lives faster than you can snap your fingers. And some, whom you don't even notice at the first glance literally stay forever. One can keep thinking about what could have happened if things had not folded out in the manner they did.  But the fact remains that one CANNOT control/ monitor all the different relationships, including, family, friends, teachers, acquaintances, colleagues etc.) 6 billion+ parameters as one wishes.
Why I am writing this, actually even I don't know.. but I guess thats the point of a blog, penning down thoughts (digitally) which may not make sense now, but after a few visits, are understandable, or even profound. Well, thats not actually the only reason for writing this blog, I mean, I am wishing that someone somewhere in the world would read it and respond in the positive or negative, and then would begin another friendship. Btw, you are allowed to think that I am a crazy person... cause, well I am, and weird too :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

exploring options in life

So for the past 3 years, I have had this dream of becoming a physicist. And about 3 days ago, my friend suggested that I keep my options open and not just narrow down my life to becoming a researcher. Now that really hurt; I've made so many promises to everyone around me that I'm not going to settle down for a 9 to 5 job, its just not made for me, and now, I might have to break them, for I may like something else.

So the point is that at what stage of life can one be sure about a choice and close the other doors, and should one even do that? I am studying Physics at an undergrad level from a U.S. university right now, and see myself as doing research in a university 10 years from now. The journey from the present to the future dream constitutes a bachelor's degree, a master's and a PhD in Physics. I truly love physics and don't really see a problem in all this except for the fact that maybe one day, I might not want to do what I want to do right now. If you're reading this post, it maybe kind of confusing, but try to follow if you've ever faced a similar situation. So anyways, what if I want to get into community service? What will happen to my plans then?
Its scary to think about this, irrespective of the fact that I'm usually pessimistic. I mean, what if it really does happen? How will I answer myself?

The solution really maybe does lie in the problem itself (okay, I just wrote that cause it sounds good). Anyways, I made one decision at one point of time in life, and now, if things change- including space, time and people around me, then maybe, the choices change too. I changed from wanting to becoming a computer scientist to a physicist in like 6 months during my 11th grade. and maybe down the line, I might want to do something different than Physics. It'll probably depend on the situation then. but, ah, the core principles will guide me. The want/craving for understanding the truth about things will not change. That thought really comforts me. For, well, I really cannot see the future, and at present, really don't want to see it. But if the assurance that I shall stick to my core principles of honesty, doing the right thing, and the spirit of enquiry into the truth, is there, I can perhaps leave things to fate. Hmm... that's a very very strong thing coming from me, who has always been very steadfast on living life in a certain direction...
yes, very tough indeed. Plus the unfortunate truth that I don't plan much. Ah well, I shall have to deal with it sometime soon :)

Btw, nothing's constant, except for truth :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

patience inside a blackhole (part 1)

Since... well there is no apparent end to a black hole once someone is inside it so... one must possibly have an infinite amount of time to introspect inside it.

Patience really isn't the abitility to do things slowly so that the end result is better than it would have been if the process would've been faster. Patience actually is about accepting the fact that certain processes in this world/universe will take their own time... to well process stuff. Like a mango tree will not grow until say 3-4 years after its seed has been planted, similarly, certain things require time. And this I have realised by working at NPL. We simply can't control (all) things around us. When a ceramic pellet, topped with silver paste is kept in a furnace, it will take 4 hours for the oxides to burn out at 650 degrees celsius and the surface of silver to smoothen out. Maybe there's a way to reduce this time, but the fact remains, that it will take time. You cannot do anything about that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

communicating in/through a black hole

So everyone says that there's thing called the information paradox about the black hole. 
I'm going to digress a bit from that right now and come back to it later in this blog with a different take than physical or digital loss of information. 

The issue really is- how should we communicate? Why is communication important in the first place? I think communication helps us learn, more than anything else. If we share our thoughts with someone, we may get feedback on whether what we are thinking is right or wrong. It is important to check out for our wrong doings with other people at times (not always, sometimes you just know too well about whether you are right or wrong, or somewhere in between).
The second type of learning, is more important; it is basically learning through other people's thoughts and ideas and experiences. If you know about how someone handled a situation, you may get inspired to act in a similar manner or you may want to avoid that act, based on your judgement(which may not always be correct). [BTW, i don't know why i am writing this at this time of the night !). This type of learning is more important because you are learning something new, something different. Which is what life is all about... 
I think i am going to end the discussion on why communication is important here... 
oh actually, let me add something else. Its important for scientists, because, somehow, working on a physics/mathematics problem together with someone and having the Eureka moment with that someone can enrich you probably more than if you were doing it all alone in isolation... so thats the end to why communication is important.

Now, communication has been an ever changing phenomenon. Imagine how the first hominids would communicate with each other. They would probably have a mixture of hand gestures with some sort of syllables to do that. That would be interesting to observe. Moving on, the first few languages would be similar to ours, except, I think they would be less organised.. and people might be creating their own words all the time... but the purpose would remain the same-to communicate, to let the other person know about what one was thinking. Going further on in time, much further on, in fact. When the first few languages would have been firmly established, hmm... i'm not sure how that would have went... it would have probably been very similar to our spoken language system today. I think writing came after speaking, just like it does for a child. Ok, moving on again. During the 19th and 20th century, almost everyone had perfected the art of speaking, though writing i think would have been limited to those who received education. Letters were written, long letters indeed.. even to communicate about the weekly happenings, one would communicate by letters... with a person sitting on the other side of the state or country, or even across borders. Then came the telephone, aha! an invention that brought personalization... the tone of voice communicated feelings and thoughts... hmm yes, emotions are another important part of communication. So when the telephone arrived, or actually about 10-20 years after that, i.e. when it became cheap enough to call people to talk about weekly or daily happenings, people found it easier to convey emotions through voice, than words on paper... interesting... pretty interesting.. and then came the very unusual, very different, yet very addictive form of communication, the Internet... now, I've take na logarithmic jump from the time of the invention of the telephone to the IMing online... but its not that big a difference because I probably understand and know more about this form of communication than any other that I have talked about already. So what's so unusual about it? Well, its similar to the telephone, u can communicate instantly. But still, why do people prefer to chat online than talk on the phone? Why?

Well, one possible reason could be that they find it cheap. But thats probably not a very good reason, I think that it doesn't really have much evidence backing it. I think that the real reason is that it is easier to type words and hide your face behind a computer screen than call someone and let your true emotions show. It really is, or at least I think so. Plus, you get the advantage of communicating instantly.. Well, that maybe good/bad, cause one makes hasty decisions at times... a line once typed onto the IM screen and sent, cannot be recalled , similar to a line spoken on a phone.. But there's this factor of physical detachment. One doesn't need to be too self conscious about what one is doing while chatting with a friend online, one's facial expressions are hidden, at least until one decides to use emoticons, which might as well be fake. Its a mask that allows us to say whatever we want to.. but when we come face to face with that someone we've been talking to online all the time, its a different ball game altogether.. One has to conscious of what one's facial expression is and what body language is one using.. it complicates matters... hmm.. hmm... so it is easier to hide behind a computer screen and write a blog than to talk to a friend about it... very very interesting indeed... I think I missed out using the why people need to communicate in this side of the blog post. But I think that the essence of what I wanted to say has been captured fully. Cool! .. See, its easier for me to write this blog than to talk to a group of potential friends face to face.. But some day, I would have to do that too! and then, at the time of reckoning ... all this blogging might be of no more use than providing me with words, the facial expression and body language part would have to be improvised.. hmm... that would be difficult, but oh well. What in this world is not difficult? And if something is difficult, you learn more!!! cool!

oh yes, coming back to the information being lost in a black hole paradox... Well, people say that once some information goes into a black hole... its lost forever... but the thing is, that someone wrote that thing done... it would still exist in that someone's head, at least if that person is alive and hasn't lost his/her memory. But even if knowledge is lost, man is such a curious animal, that he will rediscover it... Even if all of our libraries and internet get lost in a black hole, man will rewrite them, and better still rediscover truths... and who knows, man might come up with something more feasible and sensible than what was written down in those encyclopedia.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fifth week in a black hole- realisation

This week brings a realization of the things that are keeping me here. 
There are things about this culture that endear it to all. I've finally started liking this place. It makes me think a lot. Which is a great thing. Just imagine how much time one would gain for self introspection if one enters a black hole. That would be possible only if the body remains intact and is not sheared into pieces while entering the black hole.

Now, straying away from the black hole for a bit, lets concentrate on the introspection. So while writing a letter today, I realized that I haven't started to strive for perfection yet. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

black holes

Hey hey hey,
this blogs not really much about blackholes as much as imagination related to what may be inside them. 

Since the nothing can escape a black hole.. not even light.. then everything inside it is actually getting very dense with each addition.. well .. i think the assumption is that a black hole's central density is infinite... now if u look at the big bang.. we presume that it started from one infinitesimally small point with infinite density which some how got a push... 
Essentially, a black hole could possibly be compared to this.. with its infinite density and extremely small radius. 

Could it be possible that at the center of every black hole resides a baby universe.. or maybe a universe waiting to be born.. that would be pretty cool huh?