Designing my own planet

Asked to design my own planet, the first thing that came to mind was to design a planet with life that I can control and observe from the outside. It would be something similar to having my own personal aquarium or pet zoo of sorts. As tempting as it were, I thought of designing a planet that I would be able to inhabit with my friends and family when I wanted to. Like a home away from home, a planet away from this planet. This meant that I would have to have a planet that would be able to sustain life in a manner similar to Earth. While it would be fun to have it in a different manner, it wouldn’t be so much more fun to relax entire weekends in a space suit. For this to happen, we would need a planet with a similar atmosphere.

I quickly rubbished the idea that any size of a planet could have an atmosphere. I mean look at the Moon. While not a planet, it is however a body smaller than Earth. It doesn’t have enough gravitational force to hold an atmosphere. A planet can only have an atmosphere if the escape velocity is larger than the atmospheric gasses’ molecules. The escape velocity of Earth is 11.2 km/s, which means that something must be travelling at least that fast to escape the gravitational field.

Now Escape Velocity is calculated by the equation Ve=sqrt (2GM/R)
where G = Gravitational constant, M=Mass, and R=radius of the planet

For a sustainable atmosphere, we would need the Gas Velocity to be less than this Ve.

Gas Velocity Vg=sqrt (3kT/m)
Where k = Boltzmann constant, T is the minimum temperature in Kelvin, and m is the mass of the gas molecule.

Since I want a habitable planet I believe that a difference of ten times would be sufficient.

On comparing 10*Vg=Ve to calculate, we have to unknowns M & R. Since I want to have a planet similar to Earth, I can give a value to M. A quick reminder of high school science: Density = Mass/volume. We know the average density of Earth is 5.52 gm/cm cubed. We also that that the volume of a sphere is (4/3)*Pi*R^3. This gives us a value for M as 23122.12*R^3.

We can now compare Vg and Ve to get an approximate value of 2845 kms. This would mean that my planet would need to be at least of a radius of this size to have a sustainable atmosphere.

Now that I have a lower limit on my planet size, I began to think of a higher limit. If I had a larger radius, I would have more mass. This would mean more gravity. Not only would more gravity make it more difficult to walk and move around, it would affect my future generations should I choose to move to the planet for good. You see, the more gravitational force a planet has, the shorter will be the beings born on it. It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective, as the heart would have to face lesser resistance against the gravity to pump blood to the top most part of the being. It would cause the great grandkids of my great grand kids (I really don’t know how many generations would have to be born for it to make a noticeable change) to be short and stocky.

Now that the planet size has been finalized. I do want my planet to be different from Earth in one particular way. The days and years on Earth are defined based on Earth’s rotation on its own axis, and its revolution around the sun. Instead of having just one sun, I want two. I would have 1 large sun around which a smaller sun revolves, and my planet would revolve around this smaller sun. Quite like how the Moon revolves around the Earth which revolves around the Sun.

Earth is habitable also on account of its magnetosphere. The molten metal core of the Earth generates a magnetic field that protects us from much of the harmful particles of the Solar wind. Since I will have two suns, the planet would need a magnetic core sufficient to create a protective layer against both. Of course this would need to take into account the size of both the suns, the distance of the smaller sun from the larger, the distance of my planet from both, their orbits, and what is the safest habitable zone for my planet from them.

As much as I did read upon it, I couldn’t calculate these aspects and ended up with a headache. Sigh, my planet design will have to be a work in progress for now.

Written for the “Interplanet Janet” Open Prompt at Project 365.

Thanks to Robert Frost’s answer at Quora for solving the equations, without which I would spend a good five more minutes doing the math. 

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How to backup your blog

I love blogging. As a matter of principle, I like my own blog posts as well on the account that I have written them. Sometimes when the mood does set in, I read my own blog. I read random posts, and the comments and replies. It is fun, brings a sense of nostalgia, and I end up catching some typos or grammatical error that I may have managed to incorporate. As much as I would like to, I am not always connected to internet. It can be highly impractical to be so. Which is why I like to make an offline backup of my blog so that I can read it as per my convenience.

Another added advantage of taking backup is that should something happen to my blog, I can restore my posts and reader comments. In fact when I moved from Blogger to WordPress, I was able to easily transfer my posts and comments in a jiff instead of manually copying and pasting it. Most blogging platforms do support this feature. It is popularly known as exporting, and is done via an XML file.

 

Blogger:

Go to the dropdown menu next to the Orange Compose button on your home page/dash board. Click on settings.

bloggersettings

Select ‘Other’ at the bottom of the left sidebar, which will lead you to ‘Other’ settings. You can now click on Export Blog to export your blog via the XML file. Save this XML file on your computer.

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WordPress:

Open your blog Admin dashboard, and not the reader page. You can access this from the thumbnail at the top right of your reader, or ****.wordpress.com/wp-admin/ (where ****.worpdress.com) is YOUR blog address.

Go to Tools and then select Export from the drop out menu in the left sidebar.

toolscreen

 

You now have an option to export for free or a paid ‘Guided Transfer’. Select the free ‘Export’ option, and save the XML file to your computer.

export options wp

Now these are the XML files that contain your blog back up data, but you cannot read them. You will need to upload this data to another blogging platform where you can maintain another online backup, or you can save them as a PDF (which you can use to read offline like I do). We will use a free facility via the BlogBooker website.

 

Generating the PDF backup of your blog:

Open the BlogBooker website (http://www.blogbooker.com)

You can select your blogging platform (Blogger, WordPress, or Livejournal).

Select the ‘Choose File’ option to upload the XML file you have saved. Enter your blog URL in the ‘Blog URL’ form box.

wpbboker1

 

Below you will have some options choose from. These include the date range from which you want the posts, the paper size (for printing), whether you want the reader comments, and the order of posts (Chronological – order of posting from oldest to newest, Reverse Chronological – order of posting newest to oldest). Click on ‘Create your BlogBook’ button above.

bbookeroptions

After the processing is done as shown on the screen, you will get a process completion message on the screen with a Book image that shows that your PDF book is ready. You can click on this open it and then save it, or right click on the image and select ‘Save link as’ or a variation of the same and save it on your computer.

processcompleted

 

And Voila, your blog now has a backup that can be used for an online backup (XML file) and another (PDF file) that can be used to read offline. You can also have this PDF file printed and bound to convert your blog into a hard copy book.

Cheers.

On my walls

A home is an important factor in our lives. In spite of the obvious fact that it provides us shelter, it is something that is our own. A place where we can be we, have our own environment of desire, and sense of being. This is why home is where we can be the most comfortable. An important aspect of the home are the walls of the place. While structurally important, they are also add a feel, a vibe so as to say based on what color we apply on them, and what we hang on them. It is not that I do not have a home, but it is in essence mom’s home. In itself, I see no harm or wrong in living with your parents. It is all based on the personal equation you share with them.
The idea that I have, is that it is the home she bought. She literally saved money penny by penny, and over a period of time so much of her has come into how the home is. There are of course some touches that are mine, a reflection of who I am and this is on account of the years that I have spent living there. Now I will talk of what my house would be, and how I would like it.

I have a fascination for posters. The posters that you put up on your walls are important, because you’re adding something tangible and very visual of what you like. I am a big fan of comics and cartoons. One of the earliest cartoons that I fell in love with was Batman animated series. In itself, it is a wonderful series. It makes good use of the audio visual medium through their art, and voices of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. I have wanted a Batman poster ever since, and finally bought one that shows him in all his glory: with his rouges gallery.

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While Batman is a definite favorite when it comes to DC Comics, I don’t have a clear favorite from Marvel. I have loved Spider Man, Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Hulk, Iron Man, Nate Grey equally (or sometimes more) from time to time. This is why I settled for this poster, which has different panels from Marvel Comics, and covers most of the characters.

marvel_comics_comic_panels_maxi_poster_raw

Pink Floyd is one of my favorite bands. I don’t listen to it as much as most fans though, frequently have to look up their names, and can recognize only a handful of their tracks by name. However they’re responsible for some of my favorite music, and along with AC DC, formed the gateway into English rock music for me. This poster is the famous the Back Catalogue poster that I first saw at my tattoo artist’s place. It has women sitting on the edge of a pool, with album art painted on their back. I did have this framed and put up at my previous rented place, but it got stolen during shifting.

pink floyd back catalogue

Calvin and Hobbes has always been a delightful read for me. Apart from the obvious fun and laughs, it transports me to simpler times, and how Hobbes is a safety anchor for Calvin who wants to do all that he wants. They are in true sense, soul mates.

c&hstamp

Calvin

Recently, I have fallen in love with the Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin, which has also been made into the Game of Thrones TV Series. ‘Winter is coming’ is a popular line from the series, but this poster reads that ‘War is coming’. It has such a brilliant depiction of it, a bloodied hand holding a throne high with victory. It shows the power and loss of lives associated with thrones.

Game_of_Thrones_War_is_Coming

I do have all these posters with me, after the incident with the Floyd poster (which I bought again), I have decided to keep them rolled up in the packaging they came in. As of now I plan to frame them and let them see light once I move to a permanent place.

Written as a guest post for Project 365. The prompt was “What do you display on the walls of your home — photos, posters, artwork, nothing? How do you choose what to display? What mood are you trying to create?”

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The uncle at the ATM

Back in 1998, ATM was still a new thing. Few people knew what it was; leave alone how it is used. I was in 7th or 8th standard, and was aware of how basic bank transactions work. Owing to my innate curiosity, I was more than eager to know how an ATM works. I would listen to friends of Uncle talk about it in awe, as to how one could withdraw cash from an apparatus in the wall, instead of the lengthy procedure we follow. Unfortunately, neither my uncle nor his friends knew the details or wanted to find out.

Having heard that it works on a card, I even tried to use it myself. Instead of an ATM card, the younger me grabbed a visiting card of the bank’s manager we had. Clearly, it didn’t work. I couldn’t even get pass the scanner which opens the door to the ATM cabin. I took the next logical step that I could think of, and walked inside the bank to ask one of their employees. Instead of my curiosity being satisfied, I was patronized and sent back out. They laughed off my curiosity and asked me to go to mommy-daddy. They wouldn’t listen that they (Uncle & Aunt in my case) also didn’t know.

My curiosity however would be addressed few weeks later. I was coming back from a game of cricket with friends, when I saw a man get down from his car and walk towards the bank. Since it was almost 8 in the night and way past the bank working hours, he went to the atm. I approached this uncle (it is common to address older men as uncle in India), and politely asked him if he could tell me how it all works. Instead of laughing or ridiculing me, he simply smiled and began to explain it in a matter of fact manner.

Once he was done with his explanations and answering more of my questions, he simply asked as to which school I went to and what my name was. Not only did he accept my curiosity and entertained it, but was happy that I was actually curious enough about such things to ask others about it. I walked into school the next day, proud of my knowledge of how ATMs work and eager to share the same with my friends.

I was called up by a teacher to the staff room. It turned out that this man was the husband of the teacher who had just joined my school. Imagine that. To this day, this is one of the encounters that I have had with a stranger that will stay memorable.

 

Post written as a Guest Author for the team of Project 365. The prompt was “Have you ever had a random encounter or fleeting moment with a stranger that stuck with you?”

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Written for Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge.

The unexpected holiday package

As much as one may try, one cannot stay away from calls from unknown numbers. There are times when such calls are also from unexpected people, the kind that seem to offer you high fortunes. In retrospect it seems so sad that such calls even exist. The idea that they would entice unexpecting people with such calls, is sad.

There is one such conversion which is clearly etched in my memory on account of the distaste it left. I was working at my desk, when the call came.

 

Caller: Hello sir, is this Mr. Harikesh?

Me: Hello… Yes, this is Hrishikesh… The name is pronounced as Re-She-Kay-sh

Caller: Sorry Sir, I couldn’t get your name right.

Me: That is ok, what is this call about?

Caller: Sir, we would like to confirm if you’re a VISA Card user.

Me: Yes, but how did you get my details?

Caller: Sir, we’re the service provider to banks and ATM machines.

Me: Ok, so what is this call about?

Caller: Sir Can you please verify your card?

Me: Absolutely not, I am not sharing my card details.

Caller: There’s no need for that sir, just confirm where the VISA logo is, and which color is it in.

<I provide the info>

Caller: Sir, as part of your VISA and your bank’s rewards scheme, you’re entitled to redeem your points for additional items for free.

Me: Okay, tell me the details about it…

Caller: Sir, first of all you get to select one mobile phone from our catalogue. You can redeem your points to get a smart phone of your choice.

(I was delighted at getting a free smart phone, and began to wonder how much money had I spent to accumulate enough reward points for this)

Caller: Sir, Apart from this you get a family holiday package. You and your spouse can go to any one of our partner’s holiday resorts from over 30 destinations in India.

Me: Sorry, but I am not married.

Caller: That is ok sir, you can avail it within the next one year.

Me: Yeah, I don’t have plans to get married.

Caller: Oh, ok sir… You can take any other member of your family with you.

Me: Good.

Caller: Sir, if you confirm this, then I can share our account details with you.

Me: (Confused) I already have my account details with me.

Caller: No sir, our account details. You will have to make a deposit of XXXXX rupees.

Me: Excuse me, why do I have to pay? You said it was a free redemption. I already have the reward points in my account.

Caller: Sir, this is a bonus package. You need to pay only the service tax for this package, since you’re availing it from our partners.

Me: I don’t care then. If you’re not doing it for free, I am not interested.

Caller: But sir, the package has so many benefits.

Me: I don’t care, please don’t call me again.

 

I was really miffed by the time the call came to an end. TO start with saying that a package is free, and to then claim money on accounts of tax is just ridiculous. In itself, I don’t have any issue with paying the tax for a package, but to offer it for free and then claim the high amount of tax is not done for me.

They had the gall to call me up again two days later (a different calling agent) and offer the same package. I had him get his manager on the line and give him a piece of my mind as to why they were calling me again.

Oh well, here’s to the unexpected free smart phone and holiday package that I was to get.

 

Post written as a Guest Author for the team of Project 365. The prompt was “You receive a call from an unexpected person. Who is it, and what is the conversation about?” 

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Fun and Love

I have been to two high schools for my studies. While I spent lesser time in it, St. Gregorios has been responsible for some of my most memorable experiences, and wonderful learnings. I imagine that this is the speech that I have been invited to speak over there.

 

This is a very interesting feeling, to be on this side of the stage and speaking on the microphone. I have been nudged more than once by a friend when I had dozed off in one such speeches, and called out when a friend saw me eating chocolates or chewing gum. What are friends for, if not to occasionally get you into trouble?

I was asked before being invited back here, to speak on the path of life. Of course non one needed to have gone through the trouble of inviting me. One can never be invited back home, we just walk back in its comforting presence. What better manner to talk about the path of life than to speak through the memories that I cherish of this place, some similar to what you will end up with as well.

One of my most memorable craft classes was the one involving masks and puppets. As the class assignment all of us had to prepare a mask or puppet each. There were no compulsions as to what we had to interpret or portray, or which craft skill we had to use. One would think that in itself the act of mask making would be fun enough, we were told that the kindergarten classes would be grading us. The final class would involve us putting up a team effort to enact stories with our masks and puppets for the KG kids.

The whole idea behind our work changed, and it was as fun for us as the KG kids when the acts were being performed. I don’t remember who was more excited on the final day, the KG kids who were having enjoying the show, or us who were having a wonderful time putting on the act for them. What I am trying to tell here is that if you have to do something, you put in more effort if it is fun, and you enjoy it.

Of all the classes we had, I think the one that I ended up loving the most was Library. I know, library doesn’t have a set curriculum, or something specific to learn like we have in other subjects. But library gave me something that many classes cannot compare to. It gave me the love of reading. While it was never forced that we had to issue a book more than the once per week Library class, a bunch of us ended up issuing books much often. Reading was always encouraged for us. We were taught how to write reviews, and there was pride in one’s review being displayed on the library notice board for others to read.

I remember the discussions we had, students and teachers together. Discussions about the book we had last read, what we thought of it, and the recommendations to the next book. At the height of it, we were issuing books every second day, using the lunch time to change our books from the library. The books would get devoured in the bus on the way back home. Home was no different. Once home work and studies were done with, and dinner eaten; I would be in the bedroom propped with the latest book that I had had issued. Hours could go away on such nights and on holidays to the extent that a person like me would have to be called twice to the lunch table.

I remember when we had been to Bangalore for an inter-school competition, and were on the way back to our accommodation from the event site. We were playing a Harry Potter quiz, and Principal ma’am commented that had we put in half as much effort in our course studies, we would have all been scoring more than 90%.

The idea over here is to find something that you love. The moment you start loving something, you forget the amount of effort you put into things. All that will matter is doing it. Fun and love. These are the two things that I believe you must have, in your path of life.

 

 

Post written as a guest author for the team of Project 365. The prompt was to “You’ve been asked to speak at your high school alma mater — about the path of life. (Whoa.) Draft the speech.”

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Written for day 6 of the A-Z challenge 2014.

Two years ago

Samir smiled. It was the wedding day after all. Nimi had just stepped out of the changing room, and looked wonderful. The golden hues in the saree went wonderfully with her brown hair and eyes, while the pink matched the blush on her cheeks. She had a big smile as she walked towards the mandap, and her eyes shone when they met his. He couldn’t help but think of the day two years ago.

Samir had come back to his home in Bombay for the weekend. The new project in Pune would keep him occupied for most of the working week, leaving him only the weekend to relax. He had planned to catch up on his reading during this weekend. He was idling away on the sofa when his phone gave a beep to signal that he had received an SMS.

“Where are you?”
“Home… Lazing around… Why?”
“Can you meet me? I am at the café. A friend of mine wants to give away some of his books.”
“Excellent! Will join you in some time.”
“Ok, will ask him to come as well.”

He had grown very close to Nimi. He felt that it was about time that he ask her out. He took a shower, and changed in to a fresh pair of jeans and shirt. The café wasn’t far away, and with his bike it would take him less than five minutes. After parking his bike, he stood back in the parking for some time thinking. After taking a deep breath, he opened the door to enter the café.
She was sitting in a corner, watching something intently on the laptop. Her back was to the door, so she couldn’t see him come in. He took a moment for the sight of her to sink in. Here she was in a green tee, and black shorts. Her hair fell back in long waves, while she played with a lock in her left hand. She had long hair that went below her waist. It always smiled nice. He walked towards her and gave her a tap on the shoulder. She smiled and got up to hug him.

“I am hungry.”
“Why didn’t you order something till now?”
“I wanted a paneer sandwich, but they’re out of that.”
“Let’s order something else before we sit down.”
“Will you share a pizza? I will half a pizza and some iced tea.”
“I thought you were hungry.”
“Just hungry, not hungry-hungry.”
He couldn’t help but laugh, as he joined her at the counter to place an order. He ordered for some cola for himself.
“Who’s this friend of yours?”
“Ravi’s from work, in a different department. He is moving to a new place and wants to get rid of his dad’s old books.”
“What do you mean get rid of?”
“He’s not into reading. I know that you love it, so I asked him to come by. We can go to his place together and you can have your pick from the lot.”

They spent the next hour talking and sharing a pizza. He told her of his ongoing project in Pune, and how it kept him away home. She told him about the new boss she had, and what a pain he was. They agreed that bosses in general make it a point to trouble people and that when they would be team leads, they would be different. She laughed so hard at that, that a woman had to come and ask them to tone it down a little. The rest of the conversation took place in stifled giggles and glances in the direction of the woman.

The urge to ask her was overwhelming but he felt it would be better to do so after the visit to Ravi’s house. He didn’t realize that they had spent over an hour and Ravi hadn’t turned up. Almost on cue, Nimi received a call.
“What do you mean you can’t make it? We’ve been waiting for so long over here. I even called Samir over yaar. I wanted the two of you to meet.” She carried on her conversation with him for another minute.

“Sorry yaar, he’s stuck with some work. He has had to rush to help his dad with some of the unloading at the new place.”
“That’s ok. Next weekend perhaps.”
“I know, but I wanted you to meet him today.”
“Why is that?”
“Umm… Ravi asked me out last night. He’s such a great guy. I told him yes! Since you’re such a good friend, I wanted you to the first one to meet him.”

She began to blush. She was so happy that she couldn’t notice the small reaction on his face. It took a great effort on his part to not give away what was going on his mind. Ravi has asked her last night. If only he had asked her some hours ago instead. He wondered what she would have told him then. Would she have told no, and told him of her feelings towards Ravi? Or had they just been good friends too, and Ravi’s asking her had been a natural progression, that wouldn’t have mattered had he asked her before?
“That is great news! Why didn’t you tell yesterday, idiot? This is your treat now!” He smiled as much as he could, and got up to hug her.

He continued smiling as the memories of that day came back to him. Over time he would become good friends with Ravi as well, and the three of them would hang out together at the café. He nudged Ravi in his sides. He was talking to his brother and hadn’t seen Nimi come. His face broke into a wide grin as he saw his wife to be.

Here stood his two friends, at the beginning of their happily ever after.

Written for the ‘Happily ever after prompt’ from Project 365.