Friday, February 23, 2007

Structural failure

Structural failure refers to loss of the load-carrying capacity of a component or member within the structure or of the structure itself. Structural failure is initiated when the material is stressed out to its strength limit, thus causing fracture or extreme deformations. The ultimate failure strength of the material, component or system is its maximum load-bearing capacity. When this limit is reached, damage to the material has been done, and its load-bearing capacity is reduced significantly and fastly. In a well-designed system, a localized failure should not cause instantly or even progressive collapse of the entire structure. Ultimate failure strength is one of the limit states that must be accounted for in civil engineering.

Monday, February 19, 2007

World maps and projections

Maps of the world or big areas are often either 'political' or 'physical'. The most important purpose of the political map is to explain territorial borders; the purpose of the physical is to show features of geography such as mountains, soil type or land use. Geological maps demonstrate not only the physical surface, but characteristics of the underlying rock, fault lines, and subsurface structures.
Maps that depict the surface of the Earth also use a projection, a way of translating the three-dimensional actual surface of the geoid to a two-dimensional picture. Perhaps the best-known world-map projection is the Mercator Projection, initially designed as a form of nautical chart.
Airplane pilots use aeronautical charts based on a Lambert conformal conic projection, in which a cone is laid over the division of the earth to be mapped. The cone intersects the sphere (the earth) at one or two parallels which are selected as standard lines. This allows the pilots to plan a great-circle route approximation on a flat, two-dimensional chart.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reality, worldviews, and theories of reality

A common slang usage would have "reality" mean "perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes toward reality," as in "My reality is not your reality." This is often used just as a colloquialism indicating that the parties to a conversation agree, or should agree, not to quibble over deeply different conceptions of what is real. For example, in a spiritual discussion between friends, one might say (attempting humor), "You might disagree, but in my reality, everyone goes to heaven.” But occasionally — and mainly in the case of those who have been exposed to certain ideas from viewpoint, sociology, literary criticism, and other fields — it is thought that there simply and factually is no reality beyond the perceptions or beliefs we each have about reality. Such attitudes are summarized in the popular statement, "Perception is reality" or "Life is how you pick out reality" and they show anti-realism, that is, the view that there is no objective reality, whether acknowledged clearly or not.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Real Miracle

As far as Miracles is concern, turning salty seawater in to sweet water is quite amazing. Regardless of the scientific clarification being doled out—surplus freshwater flowing from the Mahim River into the sea—the thousand mass to Mahim Creek near the beachfront in Mumbai will pretty see the ‘transubstantiation’ as the deed of the late Haji Maqdoom Baba, whose shrine is in the area. Mass hysteria, of course, is only a term to clarify the hordes of believers filling plastic bottles and drinking the water. But the real miracle would be if those glugging the ‘miraculous’ water manages to flee succumbing to serious gastric illness.
The water of Mahim Creek, sweetened or otherwise, is dirty and would scandalize not only the likes of Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and officials of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai have already request to people not to drink the water. Industrial waste is not the finest ingredient for a miracle. But telling this to goggle-eyed people facing even more goggle-eyed TV cameras is as worthwhile as persuasive people that a Ganesh idol sipping milk is caused by suction and not godly lactose tolerance.
Fortunately, rumors of the sweetened water turning back to its original brackish form might stop a future surge. Now we only wait for the real miracle of no one complaining of sickness.