Friday, May 25, 2007

Like a Fish Takes To Water....

Biomimicry is the latest buzzword in engineering. Instead of creating artificial things that move away from nature, engineers are turning to this vast treasurehouse of innovation called Mother Nature to design new products. And Mother Nature's creations have withstood the test of time -- products of billions of years of evolution designed to survive against all odds! :)

So, researchers are turning to fish as inspiration for automotive design, Geckos' feet to design new-age non-sticky adhesives, termite mounds for a lesson in natural, ventilated building architecture, and the swirling motion of water and storms to design energy-efficient turbines.

While this is very interesting for purposes of environment conservation and energy efficiency, I do have my doubts about how far we can mimic nature. I am not sure that human engineers can ever excel Nature's engineering. Just reading about the design of our eyes will blow away any of your doubts on that score..:) (I did a little research on this recently. I've got dry-eye syndrome which just gives me nasty headaches, neck aches, eye-aches and makes me plain cranky. That also accounts for my non-blogging of late.)

I've become obsessed with environment conservation lately. We, humans, have become adept at ruining ourselves and nature in a quixotian quest for "improvement". Maybe we can each do our part in also reversing some of that damage to Mother Earth.

I might be a "global citizen" vis-a-vis the environment but I am still a Dravidian at heart and I can't resist a bit of Dravidian rhetoric a la Tamil politicians. When I first read this article on biomimicry, the words of Kavichakravarthy Kannadasan were the first that popped into my head:

"பறவையை கண்டான் விமானம் படைத்தான்
பாயும் மீன்களில் படகினை கண்டான்
எதிரொலி கேட்டான் வானொலி படைத்தான்
எதனை கண்டான் பணம்தனை படைத்தான்?"

அன்றே சொன்னார் கண்ணதாசன்...

Monday, May 07, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

4 months back, I watched this documentary by Al Gore (thinking all the while that if Bill Clinton had made the same presentation, it'd have more impact) about global warming. The US contributes the most to the global warming phenomenon. It is a shocking revelation to know how close to disaster we all are. What's more shattering is that most of our so-called modern day "conveniences" are actually causing nuisance to the world at large! Eg. hot water, indiscriminate use of electricity, paper towels, electronic devices etc...

Here's some of the things I've started doing after I saw this documentary -

1. Stopped using paper towels at home for household cleaning. I went back to the good old, Indian-style wash cloths. I am sure most of us in the US can do this.

2. Stopped using hot water in the washing machine to wash clothes. Except for really soiled clothes, I find that this works just as well.

3. Recycle! Switched to using paper bags for grocery wherever possible.

4. I am thinking of carrying a hand kerchief with me at all times. We use a lot of paper towels/facial tissues in public restrooms. It is horrifying how much paper I consume in one day to just wipe my hands! If we can just be disciplined enough to carry a hanky, it might save all the wastage of paper.

5. Switched to energy saving bulbs at home. They're not that expensive (in the US).

Looking back, I find that most things I followed in India seem to be eco-friendly - carrying hand kerchiefs, not buying too many canned products etc..

The good thing is that there are some simple things that you and I can do that will reduce global warming. I'd highly recommend that every conscientous citizen of the world watch this documentary! Spread the word wherever possible - amongst friends, family and those who care to listen. It could be as simple as writing a blog post or sending out an e-mail. The more people are aware, the more we can get some action out of them.

It is our Earth. Let's save it!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

My Boring Life

No. of blog drafts written over the past month: 13 (V.Good)
No. that actually saw the light of the WWW: 1 (V.V.Bad)

I don't seem to have a writer's block. Its more like a writer's bottleneck. Ideas form in my mind and words come gushing out. But somewhere in the neuronal pathways between the brain and the fingers, everything fizzles out and what reaches my fingers is a pitiful trickle of incompetent, half-completed thoughts. Bah!

So what have I been upto? I wish I could say something really adventurous, glamorous and bedazzling. Sigh. The only exciting thing that happened was that I attended the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana to hear Aruna Sairam/TNS sing. I never thought I'd listen to a Ragam Tanam Pallavi and actually appreciate it. :-) But TNS held me spellbound with his RTP in Bagesri. Aruna Sairam scintillated but sang only for 2 hours.. :( Her Abhang in Hindolam was the best piece of the evening!


And after a period of 3 years, I drew a kolam in my patio on Saturday! Hurray to that! :)


I am trying to come up with cool "labels" for my posts in Blogger. And I fail miserably. And as you can see, I have a splattering of all sorts of weird categories. The list seems to be growing instead of making the blog more organized. Sigh.