Tech Takes

Apple Design, Velocity-Time Graphs, Triple Points & Gases

Guest blogged by Anuj on 17th April 2008.

Today my new class teacher asked me to make the soft-board on ‘Inspiration’, while I was asking her about VB back ends, and I agreed to do it on 2 conditions:

  • Condition 1: No bimbettes / bimbos around me while I do it, in fact I wanted no one, see I have learnt over time that too many cooks spoil the broth and I intended this to be a work of art. I also told her that I would do it while staying back and everything will be at my discretion, if anyone disagrees the next day then I will tear it down and pay her the cost of making it (Rs. 60).
  • Condition 2: My name will not be attached to it in any manner, I have done it out of respect for her and partly because I wanted to see if it was as tough as the bimbettes / bimbos claimed it was. Although, like all artists I did add my signature to it in the corner, which I am sure everyone will overlook, partly because it’s so tiny and because they won’t be looking for it. I thought it was okay to post it up here because no one reads my blog anyway.

She agreed, and I followed through, I stayed back till 1730 hours finishing it, and guess what? It was gorgeous. I made it on the principles of Apple design, hell, it is Apple design, except for the fact that Jonathan Ive didn’t have anything to do with it. What I basically did was that I designed on the basis of two principles, purity and simplicity.

It has nothing ostentatious on it, it’s pure white chart paper, with nothing on it, nothing at all, no gaudy border, no gaudy headings (I just put a very simple one in at the top, nothing gaudy) instead it has a lot of paintings by Escher in black and white which blend into the background, and guess what? Each and every one of these paintings deal with the concept of infinity in one manner or another. Why? Because infinity inspires me, despite my mortality, I can use it, I can visualize it in my way and I can dream about it; Escher’s work is a celebration of the triumph of the human imagination over the infinite, I love it. Then, I added some text in the center defining inspiration and then at the bottom I added the interpretations of inspiration in each of the 3 major ages of enlightenment. Everything was put in place after careful measurement, in order to give a Zen like quality to it. At first, it seems to be in chaos but as you look at it and feel yourself drawn into it, you experience a sense of order and balance, it brings peace to your heart until you become one with it. Insanely great, eh?

On the other hand I have now proven to myself that the majority of the people in this class like over-complicating things, although I used to do it, but now I find it to be unfathomable how people can actually go about this. The physics teacher was teaching about velocity-time, displacement-time, acceleration-time graphs and she gave an example of a simple ball thrown up which comes down and rebounds, she told us to draw the three graphs for that. Now it was something involving common sense and a very basic understanding of the concept behind the graph.

Now, what will the graphs be?

The Displacement-Time graph: The object goes up and comes down and then it again goes up and, finally, when it hits the ground it will be at rest. So essentially the displacement will increase until it reaches the maximum height, it will be a curve as it’s an accelerated motion. It then experiences deceleration and it comes down, the the point of time when it touches the ground, the displacement will become zero, this again is a curve. Now the process is repeated again, but this time the displacement is smaller because it has lost a lot of its initial energy. See I like it when people ask questions, it shows that they can think but I was dismayed to see that a lot of them were asking questions just for the sake of asking them and arguing with the hapless teacher. Check these ones out “how do we know it will be zero at this point of time?” she replied common sense and the guy pretended to be or was truly baffled, come on haven’t you ever seen a ball bounce in your life? “Won’t there be some initial displacement as your hand is above the ground?”, is this necessary? Will the shape of the graph itself change with this trivial detail? They spent a good 15 minutes thrashing this out with the teacher, and I had to bite my lip in order not to laugh out like a maniac.

The Velocity-Time graph: It’s a ball that’s thrown up, so it will undergo constant deceleration (Gravity. Have you ever heard of it?) until it stops for that nano second and it comes tumbling down, when it touches the ground then for a moment in time the v will be 0, as far as I could make out, they even had a debate over this, then it rebounds with a velocity v which again decreases and becomes negative (or positive, depending on how you take it) and we then finally plot a point showing 0 at the end of our observations, oh yeah the second line is smaller in height as it has lesser displacement, duh.

The Acceleration-Time graph: Now it goes up with a constant acceleration, it has to in order to defy the force of gravity until it becomes 0 at the highest point and it then undergoes it falls down, we show it with a straight line in the negative or positive, depending on where you’ve taken the initial, repeat this process for the rebound. Now why is it straight? Now think, isn’t v-t graph a straight line? Why? Have you noticed that the velocity is constantly going in one direction i.e. decelerating before the top position? It’s constantly decelerating or accelerating, so it’s a straight line, it’s that easy.

Now these guys were using calculus, they were finding the tan of the angle between the line and x axis in the v-t graph, I mean come on. Agreed they have a point but they sure as hell don’t have an in depth understanding of what they were doing, the guy said “I don’t know the formula but it’s something like this.”. This is what I don’t like, know what the hell you’re talking about before you talk, just because you know the name of something, it doesn’t mean that you have understood it. That’s why I don’t go about muttering about calculus despite the fact that I have read about it, I freely admit that I don’t completely understand it and I am waiting to fill in the gaps. I mean they were just wasting their time and more importantly mine, with their half-baked knowledge. They were on the right track alright, but they sure as hell didn’t know it and couldn’t see it.

Like Feynman said, “You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”. He was right, they had a point alright, but do they know that? Do they know why? Can they explain it to themselves? In short they argue for the sake of arguing, they have pretty few genuine doubts, if any, they’re confused because of the fragile nature of their knowledge and their inherent tendency to hold conferences about nothing, but what can I expect from them? After all they measure intelligence by marks.

You won’t believe what they were in the chemistry period, they fought with the teacher over the definition of what is a gas and a vapor, now it’s as easy as this:

Vapor: It’s like the gas phase of a substance except for the fact that it co-exists with another state within a container, that’s it. It isn’t completely converted it’s a qubit somewhere between 1 & 0, so we call it a vapor just to denote the difference, but there really isn’t any except for that teeny little detail.

Gas: When the liquid has completely changed into the gaseous state and the liquid form doesn’t exist in the container, it’s called a gas.

Now was that tough? Nope, but they argued about it for a good 15 minutes, it’s not as if they are some kind of genii, seeking in depth understanding, maybe so but probably not. As the funny thing is that the portions where they should have asked questions, they didn’t. Like the triple point of water, they asked some questions but they didn’t get what an insanely great thing it is. See, the triple point of water is .0098 C, what’s so special about it is that all the three states exist at thermodynamic equilibrium, now this means that the system is at a state where there’s no potential at all for doing any work, it has almost nil mechanical, chemical and the temperature is the same throughout, this is what allows the three states to be present. No state is completely transformed into another at this point, it’s almost too good to be true. I mean isn’t that awesome? Everything existing in precise equilibrium, nature is simply so beautiful and awe inspiring. Just imagine; the three states together, a pause in the symphony, until you provide outside stimulus upon it, simply beautiful.

See, I am not against anyone asking questions, no it must happen, but they ask for the heck of it, there’s very little genuine stimulus in most of them, they simply don’t know what’s spouting forth from their mouth, well most of it, and they waste my time, after all I pay for the class, don’t I?

However they, at least, want to study which is a major improvement. So in the end I have chosen to enjoy it and have some fun, after all they’re pretty nice people. On the whole, though I disagree with them, I like them and their spirit.

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