Saturday, October 18, 2008

Editor's Note: A Sneak Peek


Never in a million years would I have thought that being editor of a graduate students’ newsletter would be this hard. Why? Simply put, it’s beyond hard to come up with an issue; the main conundrum - what to put in it. We wanted to introduce ourselves with Parichay but Ike spoiled our plans. Ike came and went, and we thought about releasing the issue focusing on that dreadful hurricane (a welcome break though), but minimal responses to articles about Ike got me paranoid if the newsletter could get started in any way or fashion. But Parichay did happen, and we did take that leap to get out Dautya to you.

And so we bring to you our first edition of Dautya for this academic year. Late, but here it is. We’ve got all Parichay in this issue. The popular Vikram Shete puts in his dilemma about judging, the president goes through his schedule packed experience with the presidency, Vishnu tells you what the freshers’ thought, Hemantha brings to you something you all are going to love, and Aritra takes a stab at giving you ideas for your Thanksgiving break (you should ask him his). But most of all, you will find a few photos and links to the entire list, thanks to Javits for going all the way when it came to pictures.


Dautya is trying hard this year to be a regular with you guys, and so we are going to need all the help we can get. A team is a team, but we’d love for anyone and everyone to send in your inputs. We’d love to see you a part of Dautya as well. We need all the writers we can get- humor, satire, political- in short- ANYTHING. We are going to expand this newsletter, bring out all the important news a grad student needs, a student away from home wants to read. You are going to be our thought process. So help us out! Also, please do subscribe to the Dautya channel on Youtube. We need all the fan following we can get.

Here is a slideshow of the photos


Also feel free to look at the playlist for the Parichay videos



Sit back and enjoy. Have a laugh, and have a blast

-Shreyasee Das

Cook's Corner: Gaajar Halwa


Ingredients
  1. Carrots 2 lb
  2. Butter Sticks 2
  3. Milk
  4. Sugar 1 lb
  5. Dry Fruits (Cashew, Almonds, Raisins)
  6. Cardamom Powder 1 tbs
Method
  1. Wash and peel the carrots.
  2. Grate the carrots.
  3. Add 1 ½ Butter stick in a non-stick frying pan. Add grated carrot.
  4. Fry it for 3 mins. Add Milk such that the carrot soaks completely. Keep cooking the carrot in milk.
  5. Add sugar and cardamom powder and stir the mixture. Fry dry fruits with ½ butter stick.
  6. Add the dry fruits and cook for 10-15 mins. Serve hot.

- Hemantha Mangalampalli (Image Courtesy : Mstephens7 )

Travel: Fix your travel plans

Midterms, assignments, deadlines!!! If you are looking forward to that Thanksgiving break- you are on the right track. Yes, some of you are going to show off by going to exotic places for the break, but for those of you who are considering some place that could leave some money in your pocket, why not explore Texas. Two distinct Texas regions pop into the picture- Gulf Coast and the Hill Country.

The Hill County region, heart of the Lone Star State, is home to rolling hills, a breathtaking display of wildflowers found along roadsides in springtime, year-round lush green landscapes and plenty of splendid lakes and rivers. This region begins in west Texas in Crockett County, and stretches east to Austin. History buffs can quench their desire for knowledge at places like the granite dome of the State Capitol building, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum or the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Of course, while you’re here, don’t miss the famous UT- Austin campus. Down the road in Fredericksburg, you’ll find the region filled with historical museums, amazing underground caverns, historic structures providing a glimpse into the lives of early Texas settlers, wineries, wildflower and nature attractions, and plenty of venues to enjoy some quintessential Hill Country cuisine and music.

But if that’s not what you want, then why not explore the Gulf Coast? The coast along the Gulf of Mexico- a 624-mile stretch, beckons visitors to swim, fish, sail, sunbathe, build sand castles, surf or just take a relaxing stroll on the beach. Searching for some solitude? Look no further than the North Padre National Seashore – which has the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world. If you enjoy wildlife, this is your place. The Rio Grande Valley is the nation’s number one bird-watching destination, and most of the Texas Coastal Birding Trail stops fall within this portion of the state. For history buffs, travel back to a different time in Texas with a visit to one of many sites of profound historical importance. Visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Deer Park, where Texas avenged its Alamo defeat and won its independence from Mexico. See Spindletop in Beaumont, the place that set off the oil boom in Texas in 1901 and brought in the modern era of petroleum production.

With so much to see and do, it might be hard to decide where to start, and where to end. So, be sure to review the following pages to learn more about the cities and attractions found within the area, and use the information to plan your adventure.


-Aritra Sur

Parichay 2008 : A Different View

It is always a different experience to leave one’s homeland and fly to a foreign land, usually it is filled with questions of the unknown. But amplifying this emotion along with a heartwarming welcome creates waves and lifts the spirits in each of us, providing us with the much-needed inspiration to reach our goals. This is exactly what took place in PARICHAY 2008! Parichay, GISO’s first communal party for a “Desi “ fresher, needs multiple adjectives for us to applaud it. Our sincere thanks to GISO for organizing an event like this, more so, providing freshers a chance to interact with seniors. Every event deserves a page in the newsletter. The energy shown by every newbie was phenomenal.

To say the least, we had a lot of fun, enjoying every moment of Parichay; after all we were numb from midterms, assignments and other academic dragons, standing ready to fume the next morning. Drubbed by the load of coursework at school, the wide range of “Parichay entertainment capsules” came to us at the right time. The JAM session at the end of the party was really amazing, with the music creating ripples in the crowd. The dance floor saw some jaw-dropping moves; be it break, shake, folk or any move that fit the definition of dance. It was nice of GISO to give the non-profit organizations a chance to showcase their work as well.



Every fresher is proud to be a part of University of Houston and we thank each member of GISO whose efforts have made our initial stay so pleasant. Parichay will be close to everyone’s heart, what with the memories it has left in our lives.

- Sri Vishnu Varada

Shete on Judging

Parichay is the time for freshers to come forward and introduce themselves to all, by means of performance or personal interaction and 2008’s was certainly a special one. Most importantly, the enthusiasm was evident in numbers and the talent set the stage ablaze. I must appreciate the efforts of the committee for pulling off such an event. The committee set a new trend by awarding the best performers (male and female). Personally I feel it was a great idea, as it was a transparent and precise way to attract and retain talent.

I would like to thank and appreciate the efforts of the entire team of performers, who despite natural calamities (Ike, assignments, classes, jobs and so on), put up a show of high standards. Each one made their mark!!! We were disappointed as there were only 2 prizes to give out. I want to assure all the participants that the competition was fierce and extremely close. Well, you may have lost the 500 minutes (calling cards awarded as prize) but am sure you have won a lot of friends!

Over the past few years GISO has increasingly set higher standards. It started with Pick Ups, then Maitri, followed by the Anubhav Cup and now Parichay. I am eagerly waiting for Maitri 09, as it is the mother of all events!! With you all managing and performing, it promises to be a great evening!

Parichay '08 was truly "An Experience To Live By!!!"
All the best fellas!

-Vikram Shete

The President Speaks

Taking up the presidency of an association, however small, however big is always a challenging task. GISO is no exception to it. But then I thought how bad could it get- only to realize that even thinking that was a grave mistake. It seemed like a never-ending pile up of events, all with a lot of fun and responsibility involved though. Pick ups, Independence day, Orientation, and then IKE!!! Parichay was the much-needed change in the routine we students were following (or at least trying to).

Parichay, GISO’s Fresher's party, was nothing short of a Post Ike party this year. Initially planned for September 20th, it got pushed to the 5th of October due to Hurricane
Ike. In spite of that, the enthusiasm was evergreen and it was evident with the huge turnout and with the way the show went. There were a variety of songs, dances and also poetry. The new students put up a brilliant performance- the songs had a lasting effect on the audience while the dance performances set the stage on fire. It was certainly hard to differentiate between the performances and pick the best. If the tune from 'Bombay’ melted the audience, then the dance performance for ‘Dil mein baji Guitar’ pepped them up, even demanding for an encore. One thing was evident from Parichay 2008 - there is no dearth for talent in GISO, it keeps increasing every year.


I thank each and everyone who was involved in Parichay 2008 and for making it a grand success. Kudos to Shreyasee and Shilpa for coordinating with the participants and ensuring that the show was a BLAST!!! I am sure it would have been a tough task for the judges to select two winners from the different performers. I would like to thank all the judges for their unflinching support. Congratulations to the winners - Shantanu Mujumdar and Medha. The day also turned out to be Shreyasee's birthday -the editor of Dautya and the sole reason for me to come up with this write-up.

Thank you once again everyone!

-Saravanan Srinivasan

Friday, March 28, 2008

Desi Grad life Promo



Please subscribe to "DAUTYA" in youtube.

Dont forget to RATE the videos and comment.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dautya (March 2008)

Welcoming the Khators

On behalf of the Graduate Indian Student Organization, it gives me great pleasure in welcoming Dr.Renu Khator and Dr.Suresh Khator.
Dr Renu Khator, an India-born US citizen, has been endorsed as the new president of the University of Houston (UH) and chancellor of the UH System chosen from a field of roughly 200 candidates. In her capacity as chancellor, Dr.Khator will be overseeing a system with
(more)

By Srinath Sathyamurthy


Maitri 2008

Poster unveiled(view)

Tickets available at http://uh.edu/giso/maitri08.htm


Let the jabbing begin

Let the Jabbing Begin?

Come election year, a lot of us eagerly wait for the various Jib Jab election videos; parodies of the differences amongst the two presidential candidates, including them going at each other. Hilarious as they are, some of them do carry important information.
http://www.jibjab.com/originals/this_land. Given the amount of election publicity Houston has had the last two weeks, what with Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, accompanied by their better halves, making pit stops in our city and at the University, you might be wondering how I could make such a mistake, thinking that it is time for the videos to come out already.(more)

By Shreyasee Das


Anubhav Cup

Dear friends,
We are pleased to inform you that Anubhav Cup 2008 has been completed with Sarang's "Go Coogs" beating Srinath's Chennai Veerans in the Finals.

Congrats Go Coogs.

Rajakumar's "Cheateerz" finished 3rd ahead of Mihir's Param Ashta which finished 4th. Hard Luck to Holly Rockers who missed out a birth in the semi finals due to a difference in
(more)

By Srinath Sathyamurthy


Jodha Akbar

Ok. Let me generalize here. Most of us are engineers who have always hated history classes (not me though). Most of us probably never cared about what happened in 1556 AD. Even when it comes to films, we prefer Matrix to Gladiator. But Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Jodha Akbar had a mix that most of us couldn’t resist. He was aiming for his hattrick ( after Lagaan and Swadesh) with the batsman ( the audience) being surrounded by close-in fielders like Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, AR Rahman, stunning Cinematography, and of course(more)

By Kranti Kumar


Big Bang in a Lab

Aeons before humans started to gaze into the star studded sky and tried to gauge the depths and mysteries hidden in the gigantic universe and reasoning the most basic philosophical questions of our existence. Who are we? Why are we on Earth? Is there more than one Earth? What are the basic laws governing the universe? What are we made of? And many more fascinating questions to ponder upon.(more)

By Anupam Prakash

Spicy potato for the beginner!!

Serving:
Dinner for 4 (for those who hog mercilessly. May be scaled down as per requirement)

Time:
Approximately 20 mins

Ingredients (marked with * are mandatory, rest is optional but its better to add those or more, for taste)(more)

By Vikram Shete


My Space

Yes. This is your space in the newsletter. We start by inviting everyone to send us their memorable photos taken in India or during the more recent Spring Break. Share your experience and emotions with us and get featured on Dautya!! (more)


VISIT US AT:

www.dautya.blogspot.com

Please comment!


DAUTYA EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:

Kranti Kumar (Editor),

Shreyasee Das

Navneeth Ramalingam

Srinath Sathyamurthy

Anupam Prakash

Aritra Sur

My Space

Yes. This is your space in the newsletter. We start by inviting everyone to send us their memorable photos taken in India or during the more recent Spring Break. Share your experience and emotions with us and get featured on Dautya!!

We are starting off by posting some pictures from Girish's picture library. We hope to get tons and tons of pics from you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Maitri 2008

Anubhav Cup 2008

Dear friends,

We are pleased to inform you that Anubhav Cup 2008 has been completed with Sarang's "Go Coogs" beating Srinath's Chennai Veerans in the Finals today.

Congrats Go Coogs.

Rajakumar's "Cheateerz" finished 3rd ahead of Mihir's Param Ashta which finished 4th. Hard Luck to Holly Rockers who missed out a birth in the semi finals due to a difference in the 3rd decimal place when it came to net run rate.

GISO was happy to see the talent displayed by all the 10 teams (each one of which deserved a place in the Finals)

We will be announcing the Man of the Series after carefully analyzing all the games and performances and after consent from all the Anubhav Cup Organizing Committee.We thank each of the participants and request the Captain's of each team to convey GISO's wishes to their players.

Srinath Iyer,
President GISO

Welcoming the Khators

On behalf of the Graduate Indian Student Organization, it gives me great pleasure in welcoming Dr.Renu Khator and Dr.Suresh Khator.
Dr Renu Khator, an India-born US citizen, has been endorsed as the new president of the University of Houston (UH) and chancellor of the UH System chosen from a field of roughly 200 candidates. In her capacity as chancellor, Dr.Khator will be overseeing a system with an annual operating budget that exceeds $1 billion, that serves more than 57,000 students and one that has an overall economic impact of $3 billion on the Greater Houston area each year. As president of the University of Houston, she is the chief executive officer of the largest and the oldest of the four UH System universities. The University of Houston offers more than 300 undergraduate and graduate programs and awards 7,000 degrees each year. It is the most ethnically diverse urban research university in the country.
Born in Uttar Pradesh, India, Dr. Khator earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Kanpur. She received her Master's degree and her Ph.D. in political science from Purdue University. A noted scholar in the field of global environmental policy, President Khator has published five books and several articles on various aspects of this subject. Her Farukkhabad to Florida, Kanpur-to-Houston journey; was being milked by the media.
The story goes that when Dr. Khator first came to the United States in 1974 as a young bride following an arranged marriage, her English was so dodgy that her husband, Dr. Suresh Khator, then an engineering student at Purdue University, translated for her while she was being interviewed by the dean for school admission. She made the cut, earned high grades while learning the language from re-runs of I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show, and has never looked back since. The couple moved to Florida in 1983, when Suresh Khator received a teaching offer from the University of Southern Florida. Renu Khator took up a temporary position, but in two decades worked her way to become provost at the University, where her success in attracting funds and top notch faculty drew UH's attention.
In January 2007, she and her husband - now a faculty member in the UH Cullen College of Engineering - were awarded the prestigious Hind Rattan, given to nonresident Indians for making outstanding contributions in their field. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services included her among its 2006 Outstanding Americans by Choice awardees. The award recognizes achievements of naturalized U.S. citizens. Also in 2006, Khator received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Purdue University's College of Liberal Arts and the Outstanding Educator Award from the American Foundation for Greek Language and Culture for Enhancing Hellenic studies.
Having had the pleasure of meeting the first family of the University of Houston, I feel so happy to know a really down to earth "one among us" desi president and the ever so friendly Dr.Suresh Khator.
Srinath Iyer,
President GISO

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Review: Jodha Akbar Review

Ok. Let me generalize here. Most of us are engineers who have always hated history classes (not me though). Most of us probably never cared about what happened in 1556 AD. Even when it comes to films, we prefer Matrix to Gladiator. But Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Jodha Akbar had a mix that most of us couldn’t resist. He was aiming for his hattrick ( after Lagaan and Swadesh) with the batsman ( the audience) being surrounded by close-in fielders like Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, AR Rahman, stunning Cinematography, and of course the historical characters Akbar and Jodha Bhai. I got out c Jalalludin Akbar b Ashutosh Gowarikar. Probably this result was predictable as the distributors of the film bet big and released it in AMC theaters here in Houston!

As far as history is concerned, Akbar ranks as the second best emperor India ever had (after Asoka the Great). He was obsessed with India and everything Indian. He called himself Hindustani though everyone else he knew called themselves Afghani or Persian. He had people like Birbal (his Military advisor), Todar Mal(Finance minister) and Tansen (Hindustani music composer) in his court who were a part of the famous Navratnas or the nine gems. He was of course the first Muslim king to marry a Hindu Rajput girl and form an alliance of mutual respect and trust with the Rajputhana.

Ashutosh Gowarikar has tried to highlight most of the secular actions of Akbar. The transition from Jalalludin, the child to Akbar, the emperor of India who took strong decisions on his own, some of which were considered to be blasphemous by many in his court, was beautifully portrayed in the film. Keeping in mind the fact that the director that only Akbarnama and a few other sources as references, it was tough for him to get all the variables in Akbar’s life. But unbelievably the director has made a masterpiece without going in for clich├ęd filmy screenplay.

Aishwarya did what was expected of her. She was totally hot as usual but she completely blended as a Rajput princess. But Hrithik just blew me off with his great acting. He effortlessly portrayed the role of an emperor who sometimes behaved like a ruthless monarch, sometimes like a lover and a flirt, sometimes like a benevolent king and sometimes like a confused child sharing his thoughts with his mother. If only he had that royal grace in his walk (like Prithviraj Kapoor in Mughal-e-Azam) and also looked 10 years older.

The cinematography was breathtaking, to say the least. AR Rahman just breathes life into the film. The spiritual content in Khwaja mere Khwaja was just awesome. The choreography was simple, beautiful and apt. But what I personally loved was the dialogues. On one side, we had Akbar speaking in Urdu with heavy usage of Arabic and Persian words and on the other side we had Jodha chirping away in pure Hindi. Of course the English subtitles spoiled the whole fun but hey … but I can’t claim to have understood every line that was being said.

But the same can’t be said about the war scenes though. Too much inspiration was drawn from LOTR and Troy. Sadly we have seen these films like a billion times. And why AR Rahman chose to go for a western BGM for the last fight scene is a mystery.

Was anything I was expecting to see missing in the film? Yes. I must say a few scenes with Birbal would have added to the message of the movie. And also I didn’t see any peacock in the whole movie which was something strange as I always thought they were raised in palaces to increase its scenic beauty. Ah … I think I am being a bit too harsh here. But Ashutosh Gowarikar has taken Bollywood to such great heights in this film that I think we can start asking such stupid questions and criticize the movie because it had no peacock.

P.S.

Gowarikar played it safe when he started the film with the disclaimer: “Jodha Bai, Queen of Hindustan and wife of the greatest of Mughal emperors, Akbar, may not have ever existed, claim some historians. Others claim that she was his daughter in law and not his wife.” But it was not safe enough as the film got banned in Rajasthan, UP, MP, and Haryana. Fortunately, we are in US where such unnecessary controversies can never arise.

Kranti Kumar V.

Travel: Spring Break Destinations

Winter is over and spring has started to set in. SPRING break is here guys. And all of us are looking forward to go out somewhere, explore and have fun to break the monotonous life at school. So here are a few places that you might want to visit without taxing your pockets heavily and without putting in a lot of time for it. Texas is what I have in my mind.

Typically, there are two distinct regions Spring Breakers gravitate to in Texas – one is the Gulf Coast and the other is the Hill Country. Both of these regions offer a host of activities, with most of the fun being focused in or around the water. Indeed, water sports and activities dominate the time Spring Breakers aren’t spending drinking or in clubs.

Hill county region is the heart of the Lone Star State. Here, you’re not only in the middle of Texas, but you’re also at the center of everything Texas has to offer. You’ll find beauty all around you. The Hill Country is home to rolling hills that dominate the region, a breathtaking display of wildflowers found along roadsides in springtime, year-round lush green landscapes and plenty of splendid lakes and rivers beckoning you to take a dip or cast your line. This region begins in west Texas in Crockett County, and stretches east to Austin, the state’s capital in Travis County. Mills County is the region’s northern point, and Kinney, Medina and Uvalde counties make up the southern border. , the jewel of the region, is host to many outstanding attractions and points of interest. History buffs can state their desire for knowledge at places like the granite dome of the State Capitol building, which is taller than our nation’s capitol, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum or the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. While you’re here, don’t miss the University of Texas at Austin campus (one of the largest in the country) and Zilker Park with its famous spring-fed Barton Springs pool. Do a little browsing at the eclectic shops found along South Congress Avenue.There is, of course, no shortage of shopping opportunities everywhere you turn. Starting in San Marcos, you’ll find Prime Outlets and Tanger Outlet Center, which is the largest factory outlet complex in the state. Just north of San Marcos in the town of Buda, you’ll find Cabela’s, the eye-popping outdoor recreation mega-store that’s so large there’s a two-story mountain and gigantic fresh-water aquarium inside its two-story layout. There are also great antique stores found in cities like Burnet, Wimberley, Dripping Springs and more. If water sports are more to your liking, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here. There are almost two dozen magnificent state parks here, most of which are located along lakes or rivers. So, if you like to fish, swim, water-ski, pitch a tent and camp near a lake or river bank, you’re definitely in the right region. But there’s so much more, beginning with the exciting Schlitterbahn water park in New Braunfels. Located alongside the spring-fed Comal River, Schlitterbahn features all kinds of water rides and activities for the whole family. It has been recognized as the top water park in the country for seven consecutive years. There’s also the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Stonewall, which features the reconstructed childhood home and final resting place of the President. Down the road in Fredericksburg, you’ll find the National Museum of the Pacific War, which tells the story of Admiral Chester Nimitz and features displays and exhibits detailing the American and Japanese battles in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The region is also filled with heritage and historical museums, amazing underground caverns, historic structures providing a glimpse into the lives of early Texas settlers, wineries offering tours of their vineyards and wine-making facilities, wildflower and nature attractions, dude ranches that allow guests to relax or have a true cowboy experience, and plenty of venues to enjoy some quintessential Hill Country cuisine and music. Be sure to read thoroughly through each city’s listing within the Hill Country region to learn about the wide array of destinations that await you. Enjoy the heart of Texas and have a great time in the Hill Country!

The first thing that comes to mind about the Gulf Coast region is precisely that; the coast along the Gulf of Mexico. And no wonder, since there are more than 624 miles of coastline stretching southward from the Louisiana border to the Mexican border near Brownsville. The warm water of the Gulf beckons visitors who want to swim, fish, sail, sunbathe, build sand castles, surf or just take a relaxing stroll on the beach.

Searching for some solitude? Look no further than the[[ North Padre National Seashore – which has the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier-island beach in the world – or, if you prefer to be where the action is, join the crowds and party-like atmosphere up and down the coast during Spring Break, or in Galveston and Port Arthur during Mardi Gras.

Get up early in the morning to cast lines off a pier or head into the Gulf for some deep-sea fishing. Spend the afternoon lying on a beach enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the lulling sound of the waves breaking on the sand. Take a walk along the sand as the sun sets, enjoying the peace of day’s end as sunbeams make their final plays across the water. In the evening, head out to a local waterside restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood and the dark ripple of the waves at night.

However, the Gulf Coast is not just about the sand and surf. From the dsun-kissed valley near the Texas-Mexico border to the swamps in Orange, and everything in between, the region has something that appeals to every kind of traveler.

If you enjoy wildlife watching, you’ve definitely come to the right place. The Rio Grande Valley is the nation’s number one bird-watching destination, and most of the Texas Coastal Birding Trail stops fall within this portion of the state. Some of the birding opportunities include seeing tropical birds in Harlingen, stopping at the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center, Paradise Pond Birding Habitat or Los Ebanos Nature Preserve, catching glimpses of the endangered whooping crane that winter at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and visiting Rockport-Fulton in September for the Hummer/Bird Celebration to see the migrating hummingbirds.

For history buffs, travel back to a different time in Texas with a visit to one of many sites of profound historical importance. Visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Deer Park, where Texas avenged its Alamo defeat and won its independence from Mexico. See Spindletop in Beaumont, which set off the oil boom in Texas in 1901 and brought in the modern era of petroleum production.

For museum lovers, the region is rich with art museums, heritage museums, and historic homes and buildings that preserve history. Tour homes, mansions and plantations, and see examples of everyday life and culture in the 1800s and early 1900s. Houston’s museum district is ranked among the five best in the nation, and its Museum of Fine Arts is the sixth largest in the country.

With Texas’ largest city, Houston, and its surrounding metropolitan area, along with Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Harlingen, Port Arthur, Beaumont, the Brazosport Area and Bay Area Houston, there are plenty of opportunities for people who want for modern day activities like shopping, visiting art museums, attending theatrical performances, splashing around at water parks, and enjoying rides at amusement parks. For a truly out-of-this world experience, visit NASA/Space Center Houston and have some fun learning about our nation’s space program.

With so much to see and do here, it might be hard to decide where to start, but you don’t want to miss a thing. So, be sure to review the following pages to learn more about the cities and attractions found within the area, and use the information to plan your adventure.

Whether you are a beach or water fan, history buff or living for the present, urbanite or nature-lover, the Gulf Coast has something for you to enjoy!

Sources: -

1) www.about.com

2) www.traveltex.com

Aritra Sur

Big Bang in a Lab

Aeons before humans started to gaze into the star studded sky and tried to gauge the depths and mysteries hidden in the gigantic universe and reasoning the most basic philosophical questions of our existence. Who are we? Why are we on Earth? Is there more than one Earth? What are the basic laws governing the universe? What are we made of? And many more fascinating questions to ponder upon.

We have come a long way from that age, and as we make progress into the future, we still gaze with the same excitement and awe into the deep wells of the Universe, trying to unravel new worlds and knowledge. The naked eye has been substituted with the Hubble Telescope, taking us to the beautiful galleries of the Universe beaming back at earth, pictures of the new born Universe, star births and deaths, galaxies, and the wonderful workings of the universe. Moreover, as physicists and astronomers try to stitch a working model of universe with theories and experiments, they take humanity to a new level of comprehending our surroundings and our universe.

Hubble Telescope

It all started with the Big Bang theory. The term was framed by Sir Fred Hoyle on a 1950 BBC Radio Show, a British Astronomer, in derision of the theory, which he never acknowledged and rejected it completely. Big Bang Theory came into existence by the works of Georges Lemaitre, George Gamow, Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman. But, the most important consitituent of these works was Hubble’s law. Hubble’s law states that the recessional velocity of the galaxies and distance between galaxies are linearly related. He discovered the law observing the red shifts in the spectrum of the lights received from distant galaxies, meaning the light was shifting to longer wavelengths. Plainly speaking, it meant that either we are the center of the universe and everything is receding from us, or that the universe is expanding. But we cannot be at the centre of universe, since it violates the Copernican Principle. Big Bang theory worked upon this analysis that the universe started from a singular point of infinite mass and density and an explosion started the expansion of the universe, which explained the expansion of the universe. And as we gained further knowledge, we got many more clues that Big Bang might be the right explanation of the existence of the Universe. The accidental discovery of the Cosmic Microwave background noise in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, while working on a new microwave receiver at Bell Laboratries, increased credibility to the Big Bang Theory. They both were awarded Nobel Prize for their discovery. Findings by Cosmic Background Explorer satellite(COBE) launched by NASA in 1989, also reported findings which were consistent with the Big Bang Theory.

The theory of Big Bang raised many more questions for humans to ponder upon, leading to more theories that tried to better define our fundamental understanding. Particle Physics is that field of physics that looks into the fundamental constitutents of matter and radiation and their interactions. Its like answering the question- if the Universe were indeed created by a huge explosion, were there particles formed in that explosion which were the fundamental ones which changed into us and everything around us. It‘s trying to go into the realm of sub-atomic particles which are the building blocks of protons, neutrons and electrons of which atoms are made of, the building block of everything in existence. It’s not easy to study these fundamental particles in nature as they do not exist in normal conditions, i.e. absence of astronomical pressures and temperatures. To create such conditions, in lab, we need to build a device which can somehow accelerate these particles to the velocities of light(3 × 108m/sec) and in temperatures near absolute zero(-273 ‰). When the atomic particles are accelerated at such high speeds and collide , they fragment into sub-atomic particles releasing huge levels of energy and a glimpse of their world. Particle Physicists try to capture such subatomic particles and study them in detail (if they can capture them) or confirm their presence (if they can’t capture the particles), thus validating or refuting the existing theories or try to modify them.

A paper published in 1905, On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light, by a young physicist, Albert Einstein, changed the whole dynamics of our fundamental understanding of the world. He described a particle, namely photon, in this paper. This led to an important contribution to the evolution of quantum physics, winning him his Noble Prize for this discovery and not for General Relativity, as most people falsely associate him with. After decades of hard work and toil, physicists have found till date, 24 fundamental particles according to the Standard Model theory as the fundamental or elementary particles. The theory tries to create a model by merging three of the fundamental forces in nature, namely, Weak-Nuclear, Strong-Nuclear and Electromagnetic. There has been on going research for the last 30 years to include the last fundamental force of gravity to create a Grand Unified Theory, which will be able to provide answers to all the fundamental forces at work. All the fundamental particles can be classified into either fermions or bosons, depending on the spin. The particles associated with the matter are fermions and particles which generate forces are bosons. That means fermions’ interactions are mediated by bosons. All of the particles hypothesized in the Standard Model have been empirically observed in the laboratory conditions. However, one particle called the Higgs Boson has been providing researchers with difficulty to be studied in the lab conditions because the energy required to produce it is enormous, making it impossible for scientists. Why is the Higgs Boson, so important a cog in the wheel of the Standard Model? The answer to this question lies in the unique relation of the Higgs Boson with other elementary particles. Higgs Boson can explain the mass origins of the other fundamental particles, there by helping scientists to compare the masses of heavy bosons with photons and other elementary particles.

The search of this elusive particle, Higgs Boson, led one of the major research organizations, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, more commonly known as the CERN to come up with an innovative design experiment called as LHC1. This lab is a state of the art research lab located at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Currently, under final stages of construction, LHC is one of the most awaited ambition of man to quantify the inner most workings of the Universe, etched in tonnes of steel. This lab is in a 27 km, 1Large Hadron Collider circumferential length circle, ranging from 50m to 175m in depth, covering two nations, Switzerland and France, with the major part of tunnel being in France. Once it is commissioned, it will be the World‘s largest and highest energy particle accelerator. The lab consists of a plethora of equipments. But, the most critical ones are the Supermagnets and the pipe assembly in which the protons will finally travel before the small big bang in the lab. To allow for the Supermagnets to work and for simulating the right conditions before accelerating the protons, the whole assembly has to be chilled to a temperature of 1.9 K (-271 ‰) making it the coolest place in the whole universe. This cooling is achieved by first cooling with Nitrogen(-196 ‰Boiling Point) and then with special freezing units and pumps, liquid Helium is used to achieve the required temperature at a pressure of 15 millibar. At this temperature, the liquid Helium becomes superfluid, i.e. it has no viscosity, hence achieving high heat transfer rates. The gargantuan effort for realizing this dream can be gauged in the numbers, which say a story for themselves. The whole assembly contains 1700 Magnets with 40,000 leak-tight welds (if converted to length would amount to 10 km!) and 65,000 splices of superconducting cables. The lab is divided into eight sections, each of which were commissioned separately and will be cooled to the absolute zero. Once all the ingredients are put in place, the proton beams will be accelerated using powerful SuperMagnets to upto 7 Tev (each proton) resulting in total 14 Tev2. Also, special measures have been taken to make the generated data (it will produce roughly 15 petabytes (15 million gigabytes) of data annually enough to fill 100 000 DVDs a year! ) widely accessible for the scientists all over the world for analysis. For this, a powerful data streaming architecture has been put in place, namely GRID, which will be able to stream around 1800 Megabytes/sec. Around 7000 scientists from eighty countries will have access to the LHC, with the largest contingent of 700 scientists from US. The project of LHC was conceived in the early 1980’s and the project was approved in 1994. The total project cost has been estimated to be about 6 billion US dollars.

There has also been some speculations about the risk associated with the experiment. There can be a possibility of producing micro black holes inside the assembly, which some claim can lead to catastrophic results. But scientists at CERN have dismissed these fears, stating these fears are not genuine, 2Tev stands for Tera electron volts and very strict measures have been installed for the safety. LHC As May 2008 approaches, the whole scientific community and the world waits with bated breath for a spectacle which can lead us to a new future of understanding and a new level to man’s eternal quest for answers…


Vittoria Vetra:

Religion is like language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices with which we were raised. In the end, though we are all proclaiming the same thing. That life has meaning. That we are grateful for that created us.
Robert Langdon:
So you‘r saying that whether you are a Christian or a Muslim simply depends on where you were born?
Vittoria Vetra:
Isn‘t it obvious? Look at the diffusion of religion around the globe.
Robert Langdon:
So faith is random?

Vittoria Vetra:
Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some us go to Mecca, some of us study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for truth, that which is greater than
ourselves. (Angels and Demons, Dan Brown)

Let the jabbing begin

Let the Jabbing Begin?

Come election year, a lot of us eagerly wait for the various Jib Jab election videos; parodies of the differences amongst the two presidential candidates, including them going at each other. Hilarious as they are, some of them do carry important information. http://www.jibjab.com/originals/this_land. Given the amount of election publicity Houston has had the last two weeks, what with Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton, accompanied by their better halves, making pit stops in our city and at the University, you might be wondering how I could make such a mistake, thinking that it is time for the videos to come out already.

Well I am not. Ever since Sen. Obama went on the chopping block right before the Texas and Ohio primaries, and soon after the results were announced, the political scenario hasn’t been the same ever since. It’s a fight to the finish like never before. Sen. Clinton has won the primaries in Texas, while Sen. Obama the caucus. Taking these into consideration, both of them are executing their last resort for a comeback- to criticize each other to the maximum [I am beginning to wonder if their statements have a second derivative that is less than zero; bad joke]. The point being that we have started having Jib Jab videos not between Sen. Obama/Sen. Clinton vs. Sen. McCain, but between Obama and Clinton itself. The perfect timing for a full throttle attack between the two sides. Their Jib Jab’s are ludicrous, forehead smashing, truly satirical; personally this is the best one out of all of them, http://www.jibjab.com/view/196288. To say the least, the election has spewed so much bad talk; you wait for the media to highlight the day’s best.

But for all of you who are remotely interested in who’s going to win the Democratic nomination, here is where we are stalled right now [as of results after the Texas and Ohio Primaries, (10th March)]. Both candidates need 2025 delegates to secure the nomination
  1. Obama has a total of 1,500.5 delegates, making it 74.1% of the 2,025 delegates. Even though he lost the popular vote in Texas, he did win the caucus.
  2. Clinton, on the other hand from her initial lead, has moved down second to 1,394 delegates, 68.8% of the 2,025 delegates. Though, I do have to add that she is leading the superdelegate count with a 188.5 vs. Obama’s 159.5 [Data courtesy of the New York Times]

All I can say is, it's time for them to stop bickering about each other and get to the end result. I can’t wait for the Jib Jab videos between the Democratic nominee and John McCain. Hands rubbing in glee….


Cook's Corner: Spicy potato for the beginner!!

Serving :
Dinner for 4 (for those who hog mercilessly. May be scaled down as per requirement)

Time :
Approximately 20 mins

Ingredients (marked with * are mandatory, rest is optional but its better to add those or more, for taste)

  1. * Potatoes : 6 medium size (as required)
  2. * Onions : 1 large (or 2 small)
  3. Kadipatta (Curry leaves) : for taste
  4. Kothimbeer/dhaniya (Corriander or cilantro) : for garnishing and aroma
  5. Green Chilies : 3 – 4 as per “hot” requirement
  6. * Red chilli powder : 3-4 teaspoons for color and taste as well
  7. Rai/Mohri (Mustard seeds) : For “Tadka”
  8. Jeera (Cummin) : For “Tadka”
  9. * Oil : For “Tadka” and frying onions and potato
  10. * Salt : For “Taste"
Procedure:

Cut potatoes in small n thin SLICES. Thin slices cook quickly. But please refrain from transparent slices as those will break off while stirring. Have (You are the Chief Chef… ask your roomies to do the adjunct work!!!) the onion, cilantro and chilies chopped finely. That’s it!! More than half the work is done !!

Pour (as in few teaspoons not a barrel!! It’s an expensive commodity. Use discretion!) some oil in a pan with a large base. It helps in frying and cooking the potato slices evenly. Add some mustard and then some cumin seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds start popping throw in the chopped onion and chilies in the oil. Let the onion fry for some time. Throw in some (half of the chopped) cilantro and curry leaves (fresh leaves add more taste as compared to dried ones!) As the cilantro gets fried the aroma will be awesome!! Throw in some salt for taste. Salt helps to soften the onion.

Feel the mixture and when your 7th sense forces throw in the chili powder as per taste (hotness!!!). Stir for some time and throw in the potato slices in the “gravy”. Mix well such that the “gravy” covers all slices and the potatoes are fried equally well. You may chose to cover the vessel and chat with a friend or for better result keep stirring frequently. Once done, spread the remaining cilantro for garnishing!

Best with dal rice or you may even try sandwich toast for lunch!!

Cheers!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Interesting Links of the Month

1. http://www.kurzweilai.net/

2. http://www.htmlcodetutorial.com/

3. http://irazoo.com/

4. http://www.linkedin.com

5. http://www.indoamerican-news.com/

6. http://houston.aidindia.org

7. http://www.uh.edu/pratham/

8. http://www.indiahousehouston.org/

Quotable Quotes (Nov 07)

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won’t change the subject

-Anonymous


“There is neither this world nor the world beyond nor happiness for the one who doubts.

- Baghavat Gita

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on.

Robert Frost

Good judgment comes from experience... and a lot of that comes from bad judgment!

-Will Rogers

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

-Aristotle

Ancient Indian greats - 2 Brahmagupta (Nov 07)


Brahmagupta Theorem




Brahmagupta was an Indian astronomer and mathematician. He was the head of the astronomical observatory at Ujjain. His main, but not sole, achievements in the field of mathematics were the introduction of zero and negative numbers.

Like many Indian mathematicians of this and later periods, Brahmagupta was producing work that was many centuries ahead of the equivalent work being carried out in the western world. Brahmagupta wrote two main texts, both of which deal with arithmetic and astronomy. His first work in 628 was Brahmasphuta siddhanta (The Opening of the Universe) (catchy name, ain’t it?), and in 665 he published Khandakhadyaka. Both of these texts are actually written in verse!!! It is hard to imagine a book written on advanced mathematics without mathematical variables but totally in verse!

Undoubtedly, he must have been a very influential person. The astronomical observatory at Ujjain was the best in the world at that point of time. His school, which was a rival to that of Aryabhata, was very influential in western and northern India. He made his presence at an age when Indians were brimming with mathematicians. Brahmagupta had a plethora of criticism directed towards the work of rival astronomers. In fact he wrote a whole chapter disagreeing choice of astronomical parameters and theories put forward by other Indian mathematicians.

But let’s get back to his contribution. The fact that he introduced the concept of zero and negative numbers is probably known by all. But did you know that one of his chief contributions is the solution of a certain second order indeterminate equation which is of great significance in number theory? Or that he knew that both Earth and the universe are round? Or that he knew about gravitation force? Or that he was the first to make a sine table. This "or" sequence could actually go on for hours ... oh and yeah ... he also contributed a lot in the field of progressions. He has contributed so much that it makes me wonder if he had any Grad students working under him.

Under the Gurukul system which was prevalent then, it is very much possible. But unfortunately all his books just state the results and does not give the proof. Infact it would have been impossible for him to give the proof for every theorem that he put forward. That was because books were to be written only in

To give a glimpse of how difficult it was for him, let me quote a few lines from his books.

Diminish by the middle [number] the square-root of the rupas multiplied by four times the square and increased by the square of the middle [number]; divide the remainder by twice the square. [The result is] the middle [number].

Guessed what that was all about? Stop forcing your already-exploited brain, the above verse was about the solution to a quadratic equation. Or get a load of this: The sines: The Progenitors, twins; Ursa Major, twins, the Vedas; the gods, fires, six; flavors, dice, the gods; the moon, five, the sky, the moon the moon, arrows, suns .....

That’s sine table for you. Yes, you guessed right. He used names of objects to represent the digits of place-value numerals. The only red mark on his report card is this definition of division of zero by zero: A positive divided by a positive or a negative divided by a negative is positive; a zero divided by a zero is zero; a positive divided by a negative is negative; a negative divided by a positive is negative.

Perhaps the greatest tribute to Brahmagupta's mathematical talents is that his book was used to introduce the basic ideas of algebra to Islamic mathematicians, who were later given credit for its invention. Brahmagupta died between 660 and 670. At the time of his death he was widely acknowledged as the greatest mathematician of this period of Indian history, and one of the greatest Indian mathematicians of any time.

-V.Kranti Kumar


Macgregor Masala, Upma (Nov 07)



(how to cook for hungry bachelor’s in ten minutes)

By Srinath Sathyamurthy

Upma

Upma (Malayalam, Tamil), also known as Uppindi in Telugu, Upeet in (Marathi) and Uppittu or Kharabath in Kannada, and "Roolong" in Konkani, is a wholesome Indian dish made of Wheat Rava

Ingredients Required

(quantity based on number of people and availability of resources)

Wheat Rava (Semolina)

Cooking oil

Mustard seeds

Cumin

Ginger

Green chillies

Chopped onions (1 med, chopped) (some people may omit this for cultural reasons)

Salt to taste

Vegetables of choice: Peas, carrots, eggplant, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes

Grated coconut

Lemon juice

Method

Dry-roast rava until it just begins to turn brown, then keep aside.

In a large saucepan/wok, heat the cooking oil.

Add mustard seeds and wait for them to sputter. Then add cumin, ginger, green chillies and chopped onions and fry until onions caramelise.

Add vegetables, salt and 1.5 cups of water, and bring to boil.

Add the roasted rava, turn down the heat, and mix quickly to avoid lumps forming.

The upma is done when all the water is absorbed by the rava.

Garnish with grated coconut and lemon juice.