Thursday, July 3

Rites of Love and Math

How extraordinary…

Rites of Love and Math - the Official Trailer from Edward Frenkel on Vimeo.


I quote

In any case, the evening began with Frenkel comparing the lack of appreciation for mathematics in society at large to a fictitious scenario in which painting is studied without any reference to the great masters such as van Gogh and Picasso. As one can imagine, the subject of painting in such a world would be devoid of lineage and it may very well be reduced to the art of repetitive brush strokes. This, unfortunately, quite accurately describes how mathematics is commonly taught in schools, where rules and formulas are introduced rather mechanically and without reference to their origins.

From this starting point, Frenkel goes on to argue how mathematics and art contain many elements in common. One of these is the central role that abstraction plays. To illustrate, Frenkel described the concurrent introduction of higher dimensions into mathematics and physics as well as art in the early twentieth century. In the former scenario, we have figures such as PoincarĂ© and Einstein who developed the mathematics of special and general relativity, and in doing so, revolutionized our conception of the universe in which we live. Indeed, whereas Euclidean geometry had been the model for reality for over two millennia, and its absoluteness was even regarded in Kant’s philosophy as being fundamental to our ability to perceive the world, the new vista of a curved spacetime was now provided solely by the powerful abstraction of mathematics. In the world of art, we have in the same period, the workNude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 by Marchel Duchamp in 1912, in which Duchamp departs from traditional painting and attempts to incorporate the dimension of time into a static, two-dimensional canvas. Frenkel, via this example and others, suggests that it is through such novel and powerful ways of introducing abstraction that we soar to higher levels in mathematics and art.

Frenkel goes on to explain briefly the relationship between love and math. Despite tattooing a mathematical formula on his lover in his film Rite of Love and Death (a formula discovered by Frenkel by the way), Frenkel explains that it is not that the case that he thinks there is a formula for love (thankfully). But rather, he believes (if I understood him correctly) that math and love can share aspects in common, namely, its ability to infuse passion and desire. On this point however, I do not recall if Frenkel explained what is unique about mathematics’s intersection with love (in contrast to any other creative pursuit), something I personally would have liked to be clarified…..

absolutely fascinating. I am always reminded of the quote from Bertrand Russell in his magnum opus, A History of Western Philosophy, on this matter

“Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty—a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.”

Wednesday, July 2

Do you meditate differently when you are a Hindu Vs a Buddhist?

Apparently you do! See this fascinating paper.

The most diffuse forms of meditation derive from Hinduism and Buddhism spiritual traditions. Different cognitive processes are set in place to reach these meditation states. According to an historical-philological hypothesis (Wynne, 2009) the two forms of meditation could be disentangled. While mindfulness is the focus of Buddhist meditation reached by focusing sustained attention on the body, on breathing and on the content of the thoughts, reaching an ineffable state of nothingness accompanied by a loss of sense of self and duality (Samadhi) is the main focus of Hinduism-inspired meditation. It is possible that these different practices activate separate brain networks. We tested this hypothesis by conducting an activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. The network related to Buddhism-inspired meditation (16 experiments, 263 subjects, and 96 activation foci) included activations in some frontal lobe structures associated with executive attention, possibly confirming the fundamental role of mindfulness shared by many Buddhist meditations. By contrast, the network related to Hinduism-inspired meditation (8 experiments, 54 activation foci and 66 subjects) triggered a left lateralized network of areas including the postcentral gyrus, the superior parietal lobe, the hippocampus and the right middle cingulate cortex. The dissociation between anterior and posterior networks support the notion that different meditation styles and traditions are characterized by different patterns of neural activation.

Whilst I do meditate, I am not really sure if I know the difference between these two modes, do tend to work to the Hindu mode while starting in the Buddhist mode. Does that make sense?

but absolutely fascinating, we are different…

Monday, June 30

Dirty medicine - Fortune Features


This is one of the reasons why I wasn't a success in India. Not so much anyway. The amount of corruption and decay present is just breathtaking. Even in the university sector where I spent so much time, I was gobsmacked at how professors and administrators would steal. Left right and centre son. It was crazy. 

Having integrity is vital Kannu. You have to have the ability to sleep peacefully. It could be moral or religious but never compromise with your integrity or honour son. You, your colleagues and your company, rise and fall by this factor. I've been in several situations where the company fell down and it's been punished badly. But not badly enough son as you could have noted from the press articles. What really makes me upset is that because nobody was punished, everybody is punished. So by default I'm guilty of something that somebody else did in a country far away. It's no good telling me that we won't do it again. You can bloody well believe that we won't do it again. But there is a very good case to fire and ban people who did do fraud. Like in this company. 

Keep your head up son, no hanky panky at work and nose clean. Honourable with high integrity. 

I'm proud of you son



Dirty medicine - Fortune Features

By Katherine Eban

1. The assignment

FORTUNE — On the morning of Aug. 18, 2004, Dinesh Thakur hurried to a hastily arranged meeting with his boss at the gleaming offices of Ranbaxy Laboratories in Gurgaon, India, 20 miles south of New Delhi. It was so early that he passed gardeners watering impeccable shrubs and cleaners still polishing the lobby’s tile floors. As always, Thakur was punctual and organized. He had a round face and low-key demeanor, with deep-set eyes that gave him a doleful appearance.

His boss, Dr. Rajinder Kumar, Ranbaxy’s head of research and development, had joined the generic-drug company just two months earlier from GlaxoSmithKline, where he had served as global head of psychiatry for clinical research and development. Tall and handsome with elegant manners, Kumar, known as Raj, had a reputation for integrity. Thakur liked and respected him.

Like Kumar, Thakur had left a brand-name pharmaceutical company for Ranbaxy. Thakur, then 35, an American-trained engineer and a naturalized U.S. citizen, had worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) in New Jersey for 10 years. In 2002 a former mentor recruited him to Ranbaxy by appealing to his native patriotism. So he had moved his wife and baby son to Gurgaon to join India’s largest drugmaker and its first multinational pharmaceutical company.