Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Using 3D worlds to visualize data

In other innovation news:
Take a walk through a human brain? Fly over the surface of Mars? Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world where a researcher wearing 3D glasses can do all that and more. 
In the system, known as CAVE2, an 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there. 
As far back as 1950, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury imagined a children's nursery that could make bedtime stories disturbingly real. "Star Trek" fans might remember the holodeck as the virtual playground where the fictional Enterprise crew relaxed in fantasy worlds. 
The Illinois computer scientists have more serious matters in mind when they hand visitors 3D glasses and a controller called a "wand." Scientists in many fields today share a common challenge: How to truly understand overwhelming amounts of data.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Digital Green mention in the New York Times

Our non-profit Digital Green got a mention in Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times earlier this month:
 The United States Agency for International Development office here in New Delhi connected me with a group of Indian social entrepreneurs the U.S. is supporting, and the power of the tools they are putting in the hands of India’s virtual middle class at low prices is jaw-dropping. Gram Power is creating smart microgrids and smart meters to provide reliable, scalable power for Indian rural areas, where 600 million Indians do not have regular (or any) electricity with which to work, read and learn. For 20 cents a day, Gram Power offers villagers a prepaid electricity card that can power all their home appliances. Healthpoint Services is providing safe drinking water for a family of six for 5 cents a day and telemedicine consultations for 20 cents a visit. VisionSpring is now distributing examinations and eyeglasses to India’s poor for $2 to $3 each. The Institute for Reproductive Health is alerting women of their fertile days each month with text messages, indicating when unprotected sex should be avoided to prevent unwanted pregnancies. And Digital Green is providing low-cost communications systems for Indian farmers and women’s groups to show each their best practices through digital films projected on a dirt floor.

Monday, February 25, 2013

In tribute to Ramanujam

This is just a short note to say that office hours for the blog will be held next Monday between 7:30 and 8:15 a.m PST. Office hours are scheduled for the first Monday of every month between 7:30 and 8:15. The topic for this month - entrepreneurial finance.

This year, we will be covering topics related to India. And so we dedicate this year's posts to Ramanujam.

Update: The next office hours is on April 2nd, not April 1st. Office hours will continue after April from May onwards, as usual, on the first Monday of every month.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Stanford researchers demonstrate the potential of nanotubes as alternative to silicon

Recent innovation research at Stanford now in the news:
In the next decade or so, the circuits etched on silicon-based computer chips are expected to shrink as small as they can physically become, prompting a search for alternative materials to take their place. 
Some researchers are putting high hopes on carbon nanotubes, and on Monday a group of researchers at Stanford successfully demonstrated a simple microelectronic circuit composed of 44 transistors fabricated entirely from the threadlike fibers.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Happy birthday, 'Ask the Delphic Oracle'

So it is the one year anniversary of 'Ask the Delphic Oracle'. We have now grown to a fabulous group blog, and to mark the anniversary, first, a word of thanks. Thanks to Avinash Mudaliar and Kedar Sastry for ably supporting us for the column. Thanks also to everyone who has contributed to this blog. Thanks also to all the puzzle enthusiasts and other responders who kindly took the time to send in replies. This blog would not have been possible without all your responses and words of support. We appreciate your emails.

Next, the solution to the puzzle posed in the first column. The link to the first column is here. You can view the puzzle itself on the indiatimes site. What follows is the full, unabridged, complete solution to the puzzle and so, if you are just here to check your answer to the puzzle, the answer we were looking for was just this : 0.5. Three characters to type out. That's all, folks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

C-DAC unveils India's fastest supercomputer

From the Times of India:
Precise weather forecasting, faster tapping of natural resources in the sea and designing of customised drugs for individuals will now be possible using Param Yuva II, India's fastest supercomputer. Developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Param Yuva II was inaugurated by J Satyanarayana, secretary, department of electronics and information technology, here on Friday. 
The supercomputer has been upgraded to 524 teraflops, about 10 times faster than the present facility. With an investment of Rs 16 crore, it was developed in a record three months.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Cell circuits remember their history

From MIT News:
MIT engineers have created genetic circuits in bacterial cells that not only perform logic functions, but also remember the results, which are encoded in the cell’s DNA and passed on for dozens of generations. 
The circuits, described in the Feb. 10 online edition of Nature Biotechnology, could be used as long-term environmental sensors, efficient controls for biomanufacturing, or to program stem cells to differentiate into other cell types. 
“Almost all of the previous work in synthetic biology that we’re aware of has either focused on logic components or on memory modules that just encode memory. We think complex computation will involve combining both logic and memory, and that’s why we built this particular framework to do so,” says Timothy Lu, an MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering and senior author of the Nature Biotechnology paper.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rice technique points toward 2-D devices

From Rice University:
Rice University scientists have taken an important step toward the creation of two-dimensional electronics with a process to make patterns in atom-thick layers that combine a conductor and an insulator. 
The materials at play – graphene and hexagonal boron nitride – have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions. 
Rice introduced a technique to stitch the identically structured materials together nearly three years ago. Since then, the idea has received a lot of attention from researchers interested in the prospect of building 2-D, atomic-layer circuits, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan.

Monday, February 11, 2013

@Pontifex is resigning!

In a shock announcement, Pope Benedict, the first Pope to tweet, has announced that he will be stepping down.
Pope Benedict XVI is to resign at the end of this month after nearly eight years as the head of the Catholic Church, saying he is too old to continue at the age of 85. 
The unexpected development - the first papal resignation in nearly 600 years - surprised governments, Vatican-watchers and even his closest aides. 
The then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope after John Paul II's death.
Update: Thanks to Anand for the post text.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Marginal Revolution University on India - insanely great

So I emailed Tyler Cowen in regards to his comments on India (specifically, on the so-called Kerala model of development) in a recent interview and he pointed me to which is a spin-off from his blog Marginal Revolution.

The teaching materials on on India are - one must be careful in one's choice of adjectives here - insanely great. I particularly like his three videos on Amartya Sen because they capture his ideas extremely well. Although I don't share Amartya Sen's views on the role of the private sector in boosting economic growth in India, his is, I think, an important voice that lends support to certain important moral ideas for India.

Below are links to the Amartya Sen videos on
  • Amartya Sen #1 :
  • Amartya Sen #2 :
  • Amartya Sen #3 :
Check 'em out! Updates on this topic to follow.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Largest known prime - new titleholder

It looks like one of the columns we wrote for the Times of India Group now needs updating. A new number has now displaced the previous record holder for the largest known prime number. The number that now holds the record for the largest known prime is 17 million digits long, and is equal to the following : Mersenne(57885161). This is using the convention that Mersenne(X) represents the Mersenne prime 2^X - 1. In other words, it is equal to  2 ^ [57,885,161] minus 1.
A mathematician at the University of Central Missouri has discovered what is now the largest known prime number -- one with more than 17 million digits. 
Dr. Curtis Cooper, who has made two other prime number discoveries, has found the 48th known Mersenne prime -- 257,885,161 minus 1. The number is 17,425,170 digits long. 
Cooper discovered the number on Jan. 25, according to the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), a 16-year-old project that uses a grid of computers provided by volunteers to find large prime numbers. 
If the number was typed out in standard Times Roman 12 point font, it would span more than 30 miles. It also would fill more than six Bibles.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

DARPA looking to build ‘transient electronics’ devices

The sophisticated electronics used by warfighters in everything from radios, remote sensors and even phones can now be made at such a low cost that they are pervasive throughout the battlefield. But it is almost impossible to track and recover every device. 
These electronics are often found scattered across the battlefield and might be captured by the enemy and repurposed or studied to compromise DoD’s strategic technological advantage. 
What if these electronics simply disappeared when no longer needed? 
DARPA has announced the Vanishing Programmable Resources (VAPR) program, with the aim of revolutionizing the state of the art in transient electronics — electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stanford researchers break million-core supercomputing barrier

From :
Stanford Engineering's Center for Turbulence Research (CTR) has set a new record in computational science by successfully using a supercomputer with more than one million computing cores to solve a complex fluid dynamics problem—the prediction of noise generated by a supersonic jet engine. 
Joseph Nichols, a research associate in the center, worked on the newly installed Sequoia IBM Bluegene/Q system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) funded by the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Sequoia once topped list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, boasting 1,572,864 compute cores (processors) and 1.6 petabytes of memory connected by a high-speed five-dimensional torus interconnect. 
Because of Sequoia’s impressive numbers of cores, Nichols was able to show for the first time that million-core fluid dynamics simulations are possible—and also to contribute to research aimed at designing quieter aircraft engines.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The globalization of illness

My first post is a talk by Dr. Dean Ornish, speaking, appropriately enough, from Monterey, California. Ornish explains how illnesses are becoming globalized and how changing diets can help saves lives.

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Using Electronics to Track Their Health

From the New York Times:
Whether they have chronic ailments like diabetes or just want to watch their weight, Americans are increasingly tracking their health using smartphone applications and other devices that collect personal data automatically, according to health industry researchers. 
“The explosion of mobile devices means that more Americans have an opportunity to start tracking health data in an organized way,” said Susannah Fox, an associate director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, which was to release the national study on Monday. Many of the people surveyed said the experience had changed their overall approach to health. 
More than 500 companies were making or developing self-management tools by last fall, up 35 percent from January 2012, said Matthew Holt, co-chairman of Health 2.0, a market intelligence project that keeps a database of health technology companies. Nearly 13,000 health and fitness apps are now available, he said.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Prof. Sankaran Manikutty - Introduction

Let me introduce myself to the readers of this blog. I am Sankaran Manikutty and was, until recently, a Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. My latest big project has been a book that I recently completed (entitled "Strategic Management"). In this effort, I was adapting to an India audience what I consider a classic textbook on Strategic Management, and it was in association with Professors Michael Hitt, Duane Ireland and Robert Hoskisson.

I have been intrigued by the ideas proposed on this blog, in particular, the proposed new writing system for the Tamil language as well as the Classical Sanskrit Diet. I am an advocate of a plant-based diet similar to the one that Dean Ornish has proposed and have been a vegetarian all my life. I will be pointing people to interesting talks on the topic of diet. I hope to cover the topic of languages as well.

With the rise of obesity in America to the scale of a virtual epidemic, something must be done. (Obesity is catching up in other countries as well.) This blog points to some of the latest ideas from the science of health on what people can do to prevent becoming obese and becoming more healthy. If you are interested in discussing these topics further, please call the bloggers during office hours. I hope you enjoy reading the posts as much as I did preparing them. Bon appetit!

3D printed moon building designs revealed

From the BBC :

Architects Fosters and Partners have revealed designs for a building on the Moon that could be constructed from material already on its surface.

An inflatable structure would be transported from Earth, then covered with a shell built by 3D printers.

The printers, operated by robots, would use soil from the Moon, known as regolith, to build the layered cover.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Computer Scientists Find New Shortcuts for Infamous Traveling Salesman Problem

From Wired :

Not long ago, a team of researchers from Stanford and McGill universities broke a 35-year record in computer science by an almost imperceptible margin — four hundredths of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent, to be exact. The advance — made to that poster child for hard-to-solve computer science quandaries, the “traveling salesman” problem — was too minuscule to have any immediate practical significance, but it has breathed new life into the search for improved approximate solutions.

The traveling salesman problem asks: Given a collection of cities connected by highways, what is the shortest route that visits every city and returns to the starting place?

The metamorphosis of Ask the Delphic Oracle

As 'Ask the Delphic Oracle' awoke this morning from uneasy dreams, it found itself transformed into a gigantic group blog. We have two new co-bloggers, folks. They are :

  • Anuradha Ananthanarayanan - Officer in Finance and Accounts at Renault Nissan India.
  • Prof. Sankaran Manikutty - Professor at Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Anuradha is joining us as an extern. I think the term 'extern' defines the role a lot better than the term 'intern' since she is really not in training of any sort here. She is based in Chennai, India, and is a Chartered Accoutant. She will be helping us with the technology and innovation posts. Prof. Sankaran Manikutty retired as a full Professor from the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad (IIMA) but he continues to teach. He recently finished teaching his course on organizations "Leadership : Vision, Meaning and Reality" at IIMA and has been invited to teach the course at the Institute again next year. He will be blogging with us this quarter.

Please join me in welcoming the new bloggers.