May 20, 2005

Difficult Questions Intelligent Answers

Its Presence of mind and the right answer at right time that matters!!

Q.How can you drop a raw egg onto a concrete floor without cracking it?
A. Concrete floors are very hard to crack! (UPSC Topper)

Q.If it took eight men ten hours to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build it?
A. No time at all it is already built. (UPSC 23 Rank Opted for IFS)

Q.If you had three apples and four oranges in one hand and four apples and three oranges in the other hand, what would you have?
A. Very large hands.(Good one) (UPSC 11 Rank Opted for IPS)

Q. How can you lift an elephant with one hand?
A. It is not a problem, since you will never find an elephant with one hand. (UPSC Rank 14)

Q. How can a man go eight days without sleep?
A. No Probs , He sleeps at night. (UPSC IAS Rank 98)

Q. If you throw a red stone into the blue sea what it will become?
A. It will Wet or Sink as simple as that. (UPSC IAS Rank 2)

Q. What looks like half apple ?
A : The other half. (UPSC - IAS Topper

Q. What can you never eat for breakfast ?
A : Dinner.

Q. What happened when wheel was invented ?
A : It caused a revolution.

Q. Bay of Bengal is in which state?
A : Liquid (UPSC 33Rank )

Q. Interviewer said "I shall either ask you ten easy questions or one really difficult question. Think well before you make up your mind!"

The boy thought for a while and said, "my choice is one really difficult question."

"Well, good luck to you, you have made your own choice! Now tell me this. What comes first, Day or Night?"

The boy was jolted in to reality as his admission depends on the correctness of his answer, but he thought for a while and said, "It's the DAY sir!"

"How" the interviewer asked,

"Sorry sir, you promised me that you will not ask me a SECOND difficult question!"

He was selected for IIM!

"Technical Skill is the mastery of complexity, while Creativity is the master of presence of mind"

May 06, 2005

Godel : A left wing defence of right wing ideas

Many of you would be aware that the two halves of the human brain have two widely different functions. The left half of the brain is used to handle the rational, analytical stuff : mathematics, planning, organization, while the right brain is engaged with emotional and instinctive tasks like arts, music, love and other passionate matters.

Human beings also fall into these broad categories. Some are methodical, rational and people like these end up as scientists and administrators. The other category end up as artists, musicians and finally as mystics.

What characterizes the second group from the first is that the latter are more often interested in the result and not the process of arriving at the result. They know ‘what’ but not quite sure of ‘why’ or ‘how’. Instinctively, they know whether something is good or bad but would not be able to explain why. On the other hand, the former are extremely insistent on reason and proofs. They refuse to accept anything that cannot be proved .. and in particular this group of rationals are extremely uncomfortable with concepts and ideas in the area of religion : mystic insights, realization of God.

In fact starting from Galileo, it is this ‘leftist’ group that has led mankind through the rational path of scientific enquiry and subsequent progress that has resulted in the marvels of modern technology-based society.

In contrast, the ‘right’ wing group does not have too many tangibles to support their case. This philosophy is based on belief and intuition and in most cases there is neither any evidence nor anything repeatable and demonstrable. A most unhappy state of affairs when confronted by the rational brigade of skeptics.

But then like Bibhishan who walked out Ravana’s camp and crossed over to Rama’s army we suddenly have Kurt Godel.

Who is Godel ?

Godel was a Hungarian mathematician whose specialized in one the most interesting parts of mathematics : Symbolic Logic. This is interesting because it is here that we get to see the foundation of the entire edifice of mathematics, science & technology that is built up using rational logical methods.

And what did he do ? He took a stick of dynamite and blew up the edifice. How ? By publishing his famous Theorem of Incompleteness.

The actual theorem is quite complex and I do not have the ability to prove it for you in this space but the result is stupendous. The theorem states that “In any logically consistent set of statements, there will be at least one statement that is true but not provable.” And if you try to fox the system by defining this un-provable statement as an axiom it will immediately generate another statement that has the same property : true but not provable.

But dealing with things that were true but not provable was always the domain of the ‘right’ wing mystics and religious people. And here we have a true blue ‘leftist’ mathematician who uses ‘leftist’ mathematical logic to demolish one of the fundamental pillars of the ‘leftist’ faith.

Godel published his theorem in 1930 and since then we have had an army of ‘leftist’ mathematicians trying to pick holes in this heretical theorem. They have failed and for the first time there could be limits to what is possible through the rational route.

Galileo had challenged the orthodoxy of the Christian church through the rational route but now it seems that the wheel has come a full circle. The orthodoxy of the rational school of thought is now under challenge from Godel and his famous theorem. Perhaps we should finally converge on the fundamental principle of Ramakrishna .. that there could be many ways of reaching the same goal.

If you wish to know more about Godel, go to Google and search. There are hundreds of pages about him and his theorem.

May 04, 2005

An Eastern Sunrise : Today and Tomorrow

Lenovo has acquired IBM's PC division.

This is a very big demonstration of the relentless economic pressure that the emerging economies of eastern asia have brought to bear on the productivity and profitability of western manufacturing industries. What was earlier evident in toys and clothes and then in components like harddrives and memory chips ... has now engulfed total systems and the companies that make them. And this has taken twenty years.

What next ? The next frontier is services. Software services and business processing services. We are still in the era of the toys and clothes (body shopping ) and are rapidly moving into the equivalent of hard drives and memory chips (project delivery ).

When shall we move in to acquire Accenture ? EDS ? Cap Gemini ? IBM Global Services ? Another twenty years ? or will the world move faster ?

And who will do the acquisition ? Infosys ? Wipro ? TCS ?

Let us wait and see ... These are interesting times indeed.