Nabin K. Malakar, Ph.D.

I am a computational physicist working on societal applications of machine-learning techniques.

Research Links

My research interests span multi-disciplinary fields involving Societal applications of Machine Learning, Decision-theoretic approach to automated Experimental Design, Bayesian statistical data analysis and signal processing.


Interested about the picture? Autonomous experimental design allows us to answer the question of where to take the measurements. More about it is here...


I addition to the research, I also like to hike, bike, read and play with water color.

Thanks for the visit. Please feel free to visit my Weblogs.

Welcome to Please visit again.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wild Fire in Langtang National Park detected from Space

DHUNCHE: A massive wild fire spread across Rasuwa’s northern Timure and the surrounding forest of Langtang area this morning. The inferno in Langtang National Park area was reported after a huge cloud of smoke was seen from the headquarters at around 10:00 am. According to locals, they first suspected a volcano eruption but they did not hear any explosive sound. As the incident site is far from human settlement, people are safe, said District Police Office. The incident site is a three-day walk from the district headquarters. A Nepali Army chopper, which had reached the site at 1:00 pm, is learned to have returned without learning about the cause of the fire.
That was the news. Source:

The NASA remote sensing observation satellites called Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer  (MODIS) detected fire activities in the area. Attached is the screenshot.
NASA MODIS detection of recent wildfires in Nepal. This is an example of how useful the remote sensing observation can be for mountainous country like Nepal. The helicopter observation could not tell whether it was fire or volcano. Twitter was filled with the news of volcano/not volcano discussions.  I believe one of the ministry (of environment) should be enrolled to NASA fire updates so that they can get alerts for such incidents.

More about the tools:
The Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) integrates remote sensing and GIS technologies to deliver global MODIS fire locations and burned area information. The active fire locations are processed by LANCE using the standard MODIS MOD14/MYD14 Fire and Thermal Anomalies product. Each active fire location represents the center of a 1km pixel that is flagged by the algorithm as containing one or more fires within the pixel.

If someone is concerned about the fire in any particular location, they also provide email subscription alerts. I think someone in environment ministry should be interested. Just wanted to point out the tools that may help the decision makers.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

बादल छैन परदेशीलाई

गाउँमा वदली हुँदा मेरी आमा आकाश तिर हेरेर, 
धारे हात लाउँदै "अब कुन पाखा लान्छस् ?" भनेर बिच्कन्थे । 
खोला साँध परेको खेत, आधा बगेर पारीपट्टी चरन भएको थियो ।
नत पारीकाले दाबी गर्न सके नत हाम्रो हक लाग्यो !

म भने बादल हेरेर खुब रमाउँथे 
बादलले लिने आकार हेरेर दंग पर्थें र 
बादलको हात्ति चढेर कल्पनाको संसारमा डुबीरहन्थे।

"यो मोरा कति ट्वाल्ल परेर बस्न सक्छ?"
"बादल हेर्ने मान्छे हुस्सु हुन्छ "
मैले बादल हेर्न छोडीन।  मेरो घैटोमा घाम लागेन।

आज म बर्षैभरि घाम लाग्ने ठाउँमा छु 
तर यहाँ बदलि हुन्न। निलो आकाशतिर टोलाउँछु केवल रिक्तता पाउँछु ।
मानिसले मानिसलाई मानिस नगन्ने यो मरुभूमिमा  
आकार बुन्ने र सपना देख्ने मेरो सहारा, बादल, कतै भेटिन्न ।
सपनाको देशमा आएपछि,  सपना बुन्ने मेरो क्षमता टुटेको छ ।

Mom, I miss you :'(
"बादल छैन परदेशीलाई"


Friday, November 9, 2012

"Pale Blue Dot"- Carl Sagan

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it's different. Consider again that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.” 
― Carl SaganPale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

The background behind the story:


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Attending #CIDU2012 in Boulder Colorado

I am currently attending Conference on Intelligent Data Understanding (CIDU) here in Boulder.
The conference theme for this year is "Bringing Data and Models Together". The presentations consist of scientists from a wide variety of fields: Space Science, Earth and Environment Systems, and Aerospace and Engineering Systems. This is a great conference bringing researchers practicing data mining, machine learning or computational intelligence.
I am enjoying all the talks. The final agenda for CIDU 2012 can be found  here.

This is the first time that the CIDU is being held in NCAR, Boulder, away from its "home".

I presented yesterday. First day first slot: nice!!
It was about "Estimation and Bias Correction of  Aerosol Abundance using  Data driven Machine Learning and Remote Sensing ". Basically this paper discusses a general framework to choosing the optimal set of variables for machine learning/bias correction. Neural network was used, however one can insert his/her favorite Machine learning tool (SVM, DT, RF, GP etc). This involves massive number crunching for brute force search among all possible combination of variables. For 15 variable case, it has more than 32 thousands of combinations to try. I wonder if Bayes Net can help me to intelligently reduce the search.

Forgot my SD card, and it is cloudy+started to snow. While driving down the road, I saw nice mountains!! However, no pictures on this post!
(Happy Dashain!!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hack Kinect to automate map making

In the video Maurice Fallon, an MIT researcher, describe a wearable sensor system that automatically creates a digital map of the environment through which the wearer is moving.
Using LIDAR, MS Kinect, IMU (battery), the user gathers the data which is processed on the fly on a base (computer) and a 2D map is built in real time.
This could be very useful in disaster response zone.

--> Read more:

Friday, August 31, 2012

#WinkAtTheMoon for Neil Armstrong!

There is a Blue Moon today, coinciding with a private family memorial service for Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. In honor of Neil, NASA’s asking that you share publicly your photos of the moon tonight on Google+ and tag them with the hashtag #WinkAtTheMoon .
NASA will repost a gallery on the +NASA page of some of our favorite photos.

After Neil’s passing, his family stated: “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Curiosity @ Mars #msl

Curiosity will be landing on Mars this week.
You can follow it @MarsCuriosity
We wish the curiosity rover a nice journey and (√) a smooth landing.

The mission will take about 8 months to reach Mars.
Lets start with a minute video.

Here is the animation of landing to the red planet.

The process on the ground

For updates follow!/MarsCuriosity


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Statistical Physics of Human Mobility: Paper

Statistical physics help understand relating the microscopic properties of atoms and molecules to the macroscopic properties of materials that can be observed in everyday life. As a result, it is able to explain thermodynamics as a natural result of statistics, classical mechanics, and quantum mechanics at the microscopic level. [1]

By looking into the GPS information, from vehicles (collected) in Italy, Gallotti et al have performed a study to apply ideas of statistical physics to describe the properties of human mobility.

The human mobility is an interesting research question. Understanding of human mobility can be useful in urban planning, and to understand spread of epidemic. In addition, the authors suggest that such studies may also be useful to discover possible "laws" that can be related to the dynamical cognitive features of individuals.

The average speed variance (on the left), the distribution (on the right) can be decomposed as a mixture of Gaussian. Two Gaussians with mean speed of around 20 Km/hr and 45 Km/hr emerges. This indicates the distinct behavior of drivers. I find this to be an interesting decomposition.

The left figure shows the statistical distribution of the activity time. The presence of straight line indicates Benford's law. Figure on the right shows "total activity time". With the help of the "down time" i.e. the period for which the GPS is turned off, the authors suggest that at least three distinct peaks for full-time (~9 hrs), part-time (~4 hrs) jobs and night rest (~13 hrs). However, there is also one more peak around 1hr downtime. I guess the down-time for one hour peak shows short-term activities such as shopping behavior.

In the paper, using the travel time as a cost function, the authors show that the distribution between successive trips are indeed driven by an underlying Benford's law. The ranking of the the distribution of the average visitaion frequency may also help to understand how people organize their daily agenda. An interesting feature comes out when the average speed distribution for the recorded trip is decomposed as a mixture of two Gaussians: one with ≤ 5km. I think such characteristics distribution indicate the local constraint on the movements. Obviously, the motion is not free of constraints. The mobility data is strictly constrained by the road structures.
It would be interesting to see if there are such statistical phenomena as "phase transition" in such statistical law of human mobility.
This is an interesting paper. See [2].

At last, Why do we move from one place to another?
If we assume some aggregate effect on social scale; are we different than the gas molecules contained in a box? Moreover, it seems someone has to drive an extra mile since the system demands it!

(Special thanks to Prof. Armando Bazzani for allowing me to use the figures.)
[2] Towards a Statistical Physics of Human Mobility
Riccardo Gallotti, Armando Bazzani, Sandro Rambaldi

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Google Science Fair Grand Prize goes to Brittany Wenger, 17 For Neural Network based Breast Cancer Diagnosis App Project

The second Google Science Fair Grand Prize goes to Brittany Wenger, 17 For Neural Network based Breast Cancer Diagnosis App Project.
Her project title is:
"Global Neural Network Cloud Service for Breast Cancer"
It is quite a nice idea of enabling cloud-based diagnostics. Read the details in the project page.

In addition, we would also like to congratulate all the finalists for their efforts!

Summary - Science Fair 2012: 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Nepalese Physicists departing from Nepal for Fall 2012

I am sure a lot of people are missing from the list. However, thanks to Narayan G, we have compiled this list for the moment. Please let me know, I will update it.

We would like to wish all the best to the physicists for their success. Please join the Google Group of Nepal Physical Society for lively discussions. We have also created a Google Map showing Nepali Physicists around the globe. If you know someone who is missing from the map, please let us know.
1 Basu Ram Lamichane University of Missouri Science and Technology
2 Bikas Kafle University of Memphis
3 Chet Raj Bhatta Mississippi State University
4 Chinta Mani Aryal University of Akron
5 Deepak Sapkota University of Tennessee
6 Dinesh Thapa University of Idaho
7 Dipendra Adhikari University of Memphis
8 Dipendra Dahal CUNY, New York
9 Durga Raj Siwakoti Mississippi State University
10 Ebin Bastola Bowling Green State University
11 Ganga Prasad Sharma University of Rhode Island
12 Ghadendra B. Bhandari Bowling Green State University
13 Gyanendra Bohara North Texas
14 Indra Mani Ghimire Baylor University
15 Jiwan Katwal University of Houston
16 Kiran Ghimire
17 Kushal Shrestha
18 Lokendra Poudel University of Missouri
19 Medani P. Sangraula Illinois Institute of Technology
20 Min Prasad Khanal Auburn University
21 Mohan Panta University of Houston
22 Nabin Thapa Kent State University
23 Nabina Paudyal Akron University of Ohio
24 Narayan Poudel University of Houston
25 Nawa Raj Dahal Boston College
26 Pauf Neupane Missouri Science and Technology
27 Pawan Pathak University of Naveda
28 Prabodh Dhakal Washington State University
29 Pradip Raj Niraula University of Massachusetts
30 Prakash Upreti Bowling Green State University
31 Rabi Khanal Missouri University of Science and Technology
32 Rajiv Kadel Iowa State University
33 Rishi Ram Paudel University of Delaware
34 Rudra Prasad Pokhrel University of Wyoming
35 Sagar Prasad Paudel Wyane State University
36 Samana Shrestha University of Rhode Island
37 Shanker Aryal University of Southern Illinios
38 Shiva Shran Bhandari Michigan Technology University
39 Sudip Nepal Arkansas University
40 Surendra Maharjan University of Houston
41 Umesh Silwal Mississippi State University
42 Upendra Rijal Bowling Green State University
43 Vijay Khanal University of Naveda
44 Yagya Raj Joshi Florida International

Thanks to Narayan Poudel, Yuba Raj Poudel, Samana Shrestha and others.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Questions You Wanted to Ask About Physics Graduate School (But Were Afraid to Ask!)

A nice webinar presented by Graduate students and post docs.
 Discusses important issues:

  • Grad School application process (tests and how early should one plan)
  • Financial support
  • Required course work, and qualifying exams
  • About research and advising etc


Saturday, June 30, 2012

Cracking the World's hardest Sudoku

I heard about the claim that this one is the hardest sudoku puzzle made to date. Obviously I wanted to solve it. But since I am pressed with time this moment, I solved it using Google's Goggles. :)


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rock paper scissors, wait there is more...

You can win the game (or battle) with few methods: with intelligence/tactics, and/or with speed (assuming equally powerful players).
The field of Machine learning can use both! :)
So, fasten your seatbelt and think!
Recently I saw a video showing robot system with 100% winning rate "as one example of human-machine cooperation systems". The key was the speed.

On the lighter note to the post, because of limited outcomes of the Rock-paper-scissors, there might be draws. So there is more to the game, if you are willing to add the options. As BBT suggests: "Rock-paper-scissors-lizard-spock".

Monday, June 25, 2012

Forget about the Class, focus on learning

Rame failed in class 3, and had to repeat again.

Harke failed in class 6 twice, he had to go back to the same class while his friends were already in class 8.

Furke did so good in class 5 that he was promoted to class 7.

These are few examples of how we try to manage the student's ability to excel in course structures in school. Since the course structures are reformed once in a blue moon, a generation can suffer if it has not been well constructed.

Forget about the class system. My proposal is to make it in more flexible way.
It can be done in two ways:
1. Letter grade system: A student interested in Economics might not need to excel in another subject that he fails most of the time.
By making it mandatory that people hiring in Economics need students who got at least B in that subject, the competitive edge will evolve so that the students who favors particular subject will go in their desired direction. If you are a competitive company you would not hire an accountant who got E on account courses. (See second point on foucsed learning.)

2. Forget about the class system. As discussed on the opening line, students loose their precious years only because they had bad subject attitudes. We all have different degrees of affinity towards different subject lines. Modify the system it so that a student can take Algebra from class7, arithmetic from class 8 and geometry from class 6. However, in order for him/her to appear in the SLC, s/he must have the certification from all the basics upto "class" 10.  If s/he fails to do so, he can still choose to take CTEVT courses while enrolling part-time to the subject for the certificate of school. That way, the student need not study back in the same class for next year, and yet learn new subjects while refining the weak subject.

We all get ready to talk about the politics, and the next big things to do in #Naya Nepal... while, there are so many short-term things to do (and can be done) in Nepal. The short-term things are the stuffs that need to be done before we can achieve the big thing. Remember the whole is by part theorem?
Education sector is the one of them that needs some change. Your inputs are welcome.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Embryonic development of Fruitfly, cell by cell

Embryonic development of fruit flies has been tracked in realtime by using multidirectional imaging technique.

While watching it, ask yourself when does the life enter into the clusters of cell...

Fruitfly development, cell by cell : Nature News & Comment:

Tomer, R., Khairy, K., Amat, F. & Keller, P. Nature Methods (2012).
Show context
Krzic, U., Gunthur, S., Saunders, T. E., Streichan, S. J. & Hufnagel, L. Nature Methods (2012)."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

FBI records of Feynman released to public

Richard Feynman, born on May 11, 1918 @ Far Rockaway, Queens, New York, U.S. was an American physicist.
He is a very well known figure for his work in the path integral formulation of quantum mechanics, the theory of quantum electrodynamics, and the physics of the superfluidity of supercooled liquid helium, as well as in particle physics...  [read more here].

At the height of cold war, he was investigated by FBI. Now the FBI records have been released to the public.
Follow the detailed story at:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

शुक्रलाई ताकेर सूर्यलाई हेर्ने :)

म चाहि यो कुरोको पर्दाफास गर्ने प्रयत्नमा छु ।

नपत्याए यो भिडियो हेर्नुस त! करीब सात घंटा लामो शुक्रगमन को मौक़ा छोपेर खिचिएको यो भिडियोमा  एउटा थोप्लो वारि बाट पारी जान्छ, र त्येसै समयभित्र सूर्यमा कति चलखेल हुन्छ !
बहाना न हो, कुन मौक़ा पाऊ र कनिका बुकाऊ भन्ने दाऊ खोजी रहेका बिश्वभरीका बैज्ञानिकहरुले सुक्र्गमनको मौक़ा छोपेर सूर्यको बारेमा समेत सिक्षा दिए ।  यसैलाई "शुक्रलाई ताकेर सूर्यलाई हेर्ने" भन्ने रणनीति भन्नुपर्ला !
एक-जुगमा एक-दिन भन्थे, अब यो मौक़ा हाम्रो जुनीमा  फेरी फेरी आउदैन ।  


=== On June 5-6 2012, SDO is collecting images of one of the rarest predictable solar events: the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event happens in pairs eight years apart that are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117. Credit: NASA/SDO, AIA To read more about the 2012 Venus Transit go to:

Monday, June 4, 2012

Google drive: a missed opportunity

No, I am not talking about whether launching Google Drive was too late. Nor whether it was up par with available services. Many people have expressed their views.

What I was thinking was in a research perspective. Now and then there are research about tracing the social influence map of the internet. While releasing the products like Google Drive, Google/ or any company gets a rare opportunity to map the influence or spread of it.  For example a news splash by techcrunch might be spread much faster than say another site with similar theme.
What Google could have done was incentive-tize the process of referring the Google Drive. For example, Dropbox and Sugarsync (yes they have referral links) give the referral links for people who want to recommend it to their friends/mass. Studying the click through rate via referral link, can be done by enabling invite only through Emails ("Give G-drive to your friend").

This is not only true for Google, but also to any other company who is planning to release a new product, that could go vibrating in the web.
My assumption is that by studying the spread of influence, it might be useful to infer how the news spread in the human network. Or, at the least, who is the most relevant networker to get the point across.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Common Student Mistakes in Lab Report

One of the TA duties of graduate students is to instruct in Lab and grade the lab reports. The report writing aspect of lab is very useful skill, which students can learn and also find it useful later in their career.

Here is a list of common mistakes the students make in the lab report (in no particular order):

  • Use the wrong date (often use the date they do write-up rather than the date of the lab)
  • Forget their lab partners last/name
  • Wrong format for name, lab, etc
  • Introduce the lab rather than simply state their objective
  • Forget to define the equation variable in the theory
  • Forget to relate theory to experiment
  • Forget to put units (or wrong units)
  • Not state general equations
  • Error not 1 sig fig or rounded down
  • Value corresponding to error has more decimal places than the decimal place of the error
  • Forget to put title on the graph or have x vs y instead of y vs x
  • max/min lines not encompass all of the points and their error
  • Not labeling the y-intercepts and/or the slopes (or labeling incorrectly)
  • Majority of the graph space left unused
  • Use data points instead of graph points to find the slope
  • Forget to compare equation of a line with theory equation
  • Not restate results to prove statements in discussion and conclusion
  • Use human error such as "I may have calculated wrong" or "human reaction time" in the sources of error.

Would you like to add that you have encountered?

Adopted from


Friday, June 1, 2012

Write your Name with Galaxies: Galaxify

Reach for the stars, write your name with Galaxies!
Note the website above, created by astronomer Steven Bamford, which uses images of galaxies to recreate your message as an image.  The galaxy images are acquired through the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and Galaxy Zoo projects.

Well, appears as:

Did you ask: Which galaxies are used in this image?

For the Geeky love birds out there:

Find out which ones were used!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Solution to "Newton's Math Problem" by Shouryya Ray

Analytical solution of two fundamental unsolved problems of particle dynamics

When I heard that "Newton's math puzzle was solved", I searched for the problem. All I could find was the news with variation of the title: Newton math puzzle, a 350 year old problem, solved by an Indian boy who lives in Germany. Everyone is simply running after the boy and his origin. No description of his work. Yahoo, Google, Bing, all of them capturing the same news item! Of course they show what the interest has been.

The main contribution, which mattered to me, was buried in the pages.

Here is the winner abstract (the webpage was translated using Google translator in Chrome):
  • Category: Mathematics / computer science 
  • Supervisor: Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jochen Fröhlich, Dr.-Ing. Tobias Kempe 
  • Competition Energy: Youth Research
Awards received:
  • Second Place in the national competition
  • Regional winner
  • Regional winner for the best interdisciplinary project
Two problems in classical mechanics have withstood several centuries of mathematical endeavor. The first problem is to calculate the trajectory of a body thrown at an angle in the Earth's gravitational field and Newtonian flow resistance. The underlying law was discovered by Newton (17th century). The second problem is the objective description of a particle-wall collision under Hertzian collision force and linear damping. The collision energy was derived in 1858 by Hertz, a linear damping force has been known since Stokes (1850).
This paper has so far only the analytical solution of this approximate or numerical targets for the problems solved. First, the two problems are solved fully analytically generalized context, they are then compared with numerical solutions and, finally, on the basis of the analytical solutions derived statements about the physical behavior.

Original page here:
Youth Research 2012 DD Ostsachsen
And the picture of Ray holding the equation:

Friday, May 25, 2012

Dragon Captured in Space

"Houston, looks like we got Dragon by the tail", Don Petit, astronaut in ISS controlling the Canadaarm2, announced.
SpaceX's Space dragon capsule has been roaming around the ISS for about three days. It carries cargo to ISS. After sophisticated tests and affirmation that Dragon will not be harmful to ISS, it has now been captured by a robotic arm. The process known as Berthing.
Credit: NASA TV screenshot.
... and now bolted to ISS...
On May 22nd, @SpaceX  uccessfully launched the #Dragon capsule into orbit! 
This is the new venture to commute to the international space station (ISS) through private efforts and is the first commercial resupply vehicle to ISS. (

Here is a tweet linked to the beautiful arc when SpaceX lifted Dragon to space.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Solar Eclipse in East Asia and North America May 2012

Clouds permitted, we will be observing a solar eclipse this weekend on 20-21st May 2012.
The track of solar eclipse created by NASA. Source

More info at:,_2012

The Annular Solar Eclipse of 2012 May 20/21
See the interactive Google Map here:

Update: We came up to higher ground and waited for the Eclipse time. Only to be disappointed. My colleague Marc referenced it as Murphy's law striking.
Screenshot of Eclipse behind the clouds. Credit: Dr. Marc Hairston. 
Yes, there is an app for that! (See my android astronomy here.)
 After about an hour, I gave up and turned towards home. Then the Sun peeked from a space between the clouds! It was just before the sun was setting. I captured the moment with my cell.
 Left: no filter. Right: through the dark glasses.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Listening to the data by sonification

When you get a good chunk of data, what do you do first?
You probably plot different aspects of the data, trying to identify the patterns and characteristic signatures in it. Well, that is very helpful for visual people. 

What would auditory people do? they listen...
"Shhhh. Listen to the data." A Physics Today article by Toni Feder.
The process of converting the data to streaming sound is called data sonification. Sometimes the visual data is too noisy. Ear may be able to pick out the subtle structures in the data.
A quote from the article:
“When Voyager 1 flew by [Jupiter’s moon] Io in 1979, we detected whistlers”—low-frequency radio waves. “That was first detected by hearing. Your ears are amazing at picking out fine signals. In frequency–time spectra, you can choose the resolution when you process the data. If you choose the wrong resolution, you may not detect anything. You have to match what you are processing to the time resolution. Your ear does that automatically.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Student/ J-1 Visa, USA: International students

(Obtaining the U.S. visa and Entry to the United States)

Students who are applying for the *F-1 or the *j-1 visa in their home country;
(*Note: If you have the I-20 form, you will apply for the F-1 visa. If you have the DS-2019 form, you will apply for the J-1 visa.)
Documents needed:
- Valid passport from your home country
-Certificate of eligibility:*I-20 form[3 pages] or *DS-2019[2 pages]
-Letter of admission from the University and any other official letters that may have been sent to you by the University.
-Evidence of financial support (bank statements, letters of assistantship, sponsorship, and any other proof that you have sufficient funds for educational and living expenses)
-Any evidence that you might have to demonstrate that you have strong ties to your home country and that you plan to return to your home country at the conclusion of your study and any period of authorized employment.

After receiving your Certificate of Eligibility (Form I-20 for F-1 students, or Form DS-2019 for J-1 students or scholars) from the University Admissions Office, you must obtain (or already possess) a passport from your own government , and the United States (U.S.) visa from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest your place of residence.

The earliest you can apply for the U.S. visa is 90 days prior to the starting date on the certificate of eligibility (I-20 or DS-2019).

If your dependents (spouse or/and children) travel to the U.S. with you, each dependent must have a separate I-20 or DS-2019. Students should budget for at least $4000 per dependent per year for living expenses. If you did not request an I-20 or DS-2019 for your dependents at the time of admission, please contact the appropriate (Graduate or Undergraduate) Admissions office:
How to obtain the U.S. visa:
1. Contact the United States Consulate or Embassy near your residence in your home country to learn the correct procedure and to make an appointment, if necessary.
2. Pay the SEVIS I-901 fee required of all new students and exchange visitors with a form I-20 or DS-2019 issued on or after September 1,2004. (For a general overview of the fee payment process, see http:/
3. When you arrive at the consulate/embassy, make sure that you have all of the above documents (including a receipt for the fee) to present to the officer who is processing your visa request.
4. If you are granted the visa, it will be affixed to your passport. It will state the number of entries that you have been granted and an expiration date. If an “M” appears under the number of entries, it means “multiple” entry.

This was one of the document I received with my I-20. Please feel free to share with your friends.
Thanks to my wife for typesetting it.
The information provided here might not be complete. Please use the information with caution. Good Luck!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

End of mission for Envisat declared by ESA

Environmental Satellite or Envisat, launched in 2002, is one of the most successful earth observing (remote sensing) missions. With 10 optical and radar instruments onboard, it celebrated 10 great years in orbit. However, on 8th April 2012, it lost communication to its command center.
The last image from the satellite. Credits: ESA
The team had been trying hard to re-establish the communication; no success. Therefore, ESA has declared end of the mission for Envisat. In the press release, they said that they will keep trying for next two months. We would like to wish them a success!

More at ...
ESA Portal - ESA declares end of mission for Envisat:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

@Linkedin App for iPad: Review

TL;DR: I liked it, try!

Here is a longer version:
Well, linkedin has emerged as a useful tool in academic circle. It not only helps one to connect and keep in touch, but also get new connections.

They have recently introduced an iPad app, iPhone app was already there. My first feeling about this app is that it is absolutely good app.

Number one: the "home" layout is as if there are  three cards on a table.
"You", "All updates" and "Inbox".
This helps focus whenever we go to the app.

Number two: I find that "linkedin daily" style of updates section impressively drawn out. They could probably use little bit more contrast over the user's comment versus the web contents. Also, when I was sliding through few news pages, back and forth, it felt slightly slower.
Moreover, there is calendar inside the updates section, which I have not used yet.
To linkedin: Do you use Machine Learning to tune up the news section to people? that could be awesomely awesome! ;)

Number three: the inbox, it brings the latest message. Again, just brings the items in focus.

It is a good app, and thanks to linkedin team for a good app. Keep up the good work.

Few snapshots:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No, you can't "friend" students in NYC

Social Media Rules Limit Student-Teacher Contact - "New York City public schoolteachers may not contact students through personal pages on Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, but can communicate via pages set up for classroom use, the city’s Education Department said on Tuesday after it released its first list of guidelines governing the use of social media by employees."

Monday, April 30, 2012

To the fans of Graphene: meet silicene...

Silicene is just one atom thick layer of silicon

The papers:
Physical Review Letters, DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.155501
Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 223109 (2010);
- --
Graphene is one-atom-thick planar sheets of carbon atoms packed in honeycomb-like structures. It has been of great research interest because of its unique physical properties. We already saw that papers with the term "graphine" was increasing drastically since 2006 [Link ].

Silicene is the silicon equivalent of graphene.
Because it can be integrated more easily into silicon chip production lines, speculates that its integration into electronic devices might help produce cheaper electronic devices.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Final touchdown for the shuttle Discovery

Discovery has made its final touchdown. This time on the back of another aircraft, Boeing 747, specially made for transporting the shuttle.
Discovery was regarded as a leader of the shuttles, making the most flights: 39 missions throughout its life. The era of shuttle came to an end  in 2011.

It will be in display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
I have taken few screenshots from the NASA broadcast. Enjoy! ...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Counting arguments fail, think better!

Here is a puzzle (the answer is below, do not scroll unless you want to see it!):

8809=6            5555=0
7111=0            8193=3
2172=0            8096=5
6666=4            1012=1
1111=0            7777=0   
3213=0            9999=4
7662=2            7756=1
9313=1            6855=3
0000=4            9881=5
2222=0            5531=0
3333=0            2581=?

This one was posted in Lifehacker, the author took it from a flying Facebook post.
The clue provided was that the kids could get the answer faster than the educated thinkers who tend to think in more complex ways.  I can  imagine if your brain is going round the world to solve the problem.
I would urge you to try and guess the answer, which is much fun! Please still do not scroll.
I will even put a youtube video of Simon's cat just to avoid the answer to be seen.

 Please scroll down for the answer.



The answer is

The answer is arrived once you realize that there are two "o" in 8. Go back and check the other answers in the list counting the "o"s in the numbers on the left hand side of the puzzle.

However, this counting argument fails miserably when the numbers are written in another script.
Here, the same example is being provided in coded form of Devanagari numbers. Suppose the left hand side is the code, and right hand is the answer to the code):
८८०९ =6            5555=0
७१११ =0            8193=3
२१७२ =0            ८०९६ =5
६६६६ =4            १०१२ =1
११११ =0            ७७७७ =0   
३२१३ =0            ९९९९ =4
७६६२ =2            ७७५६ =1
९३१३ =1            ६८५५ =3
०००० =4            ९८८१ =5
२२२२ =0            ५५३१ =0
३३३३ =0            २५८१ =?
In this case, You can not count the "o" on the left hand side to arrive at the (same) answer!

--> ---
Symbols: compute the values of the symbols.
Well,  think of the numbers as "variable" So that
०  ०  ०  ०  = 4 means: "०"+"० "+"० "+"० " = ४
 ie 4 of "० " = 4
=> "० " = 1
 ६६६६  = 4
 => "६ " = 1.
=> "९ " = 1
and, २२२२ =0 gave: "२ " = 0
 ११११ =0 => "१ " = 0
 ३३३३  = 0 => "३ " = 0
५५५५  = 0 => "५ " = 0
७७७७  = 0 => "७ " = 0
Now do a test case: २१७२  = 0
LHS= "२ "+"१ "+"७ "+"२ " = 0+0+0+0 = 0 = RHS
Now, to solve, ८८०९  = 6
Suppose, " "=y
Substitute values
 y+y+1+1 = 6
 2y+2 = 6,
 => 2y = 4
Therefore, y="८ "=2

 We tested it for all the examples.
Therefore, we can say:
2581 = "२ "+"५ "+"८ "+"१ " after substitution:
= 0+0+2+0 =2

The answer is 2. The method is more general

The addition is still the counting argument isn't it?

(Thanks to my wife for bringing this solution to my attention.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bookworm @ Arxiv visualizing trends #physics is a great place to put your papers, which is in waiting for the journal line.
This is also useful to get the time stamp on your work too. Moreover, by putting the pre-print in arxiv, you will be doing a favor to many readers who wants to read your paper off the campus/institution.

They have a tool called bookworm which can search for particular words/terms that you might be interested. It is very handy to visualize how the terms are being used in the published papers.
For example, I searched for the use of "entropy", and mutual information in physics, to get the following graph.
You can use bookworm to visualize interesting trend in the use of terms for the papers submitted to arxiv. Source

See how the use of graphene has "exploded", while qubit is kind of saturated, while superluminal neutrinos spiked recently

As you can see, the  graph is very useful to see the trends of certain terms being used. Please feel free to comment whether it helps to visualize anything about the scientific field.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Matlab's Plot Gallery with codes

Matlab is one of the popular software for technical computing.

Everyone has his/her own stories of learning curve with programming. Nevertheless, references and galleries are always helpful when you are at it. 
I would like to suggest you to browse the MATLAB Plot Gallery[Link]. It is a bunch of File Exchange entries from which one can view and download the MATLAB codes.

Happy Coding!

Friday, March 16, 2012

What does pi taste like to the ear?

The number is pi (π). Approximated mostly as 3.14, the march of 14th is celebrated many as pi day. There are arguments whether 22/7 i.e. 22nd of July shall be the real pi day. Moreover, people are also saying that it is merely a half tau day (let me google that for you!)

Anyways, you probably know how pi tastes like. Well, it tastes like a pi. But have you heard how pi sounds like?

Here are couple of videos trying to play the sound of pi (or half tau, if you wish).

You can also go to to compose the pi music.
One more thing: pi-music can not be copyrighted!