Showing posts from January, 2016

Never Try to Fool Nature

Exactly 30 years to the day, on January 28 1986, the Challenger Space Shuttle took off from Cape Canaveral with seven astronauts, including a teacher whose mission was to conduct a lesson from space.

73 seconds later, Challenger exploded in a fiery ball of smoke and the country lost the seven astronauts. The tragedy was so devastating that NASA suspended flights for 33 months.

What went wrong? How could such a precisely designed and built machine fail? A Presidential Commission that investigated the disaster included the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

During one of the most profound moments of the investigation, the Nobel Laureate demonstrated, with a rubber O-Ring and a glass of ice-cold water, that the disaster was the direct result of the failure of the O-Ring, a component costing less than $10, because it did not have the capability to expand as required at low temperatures.

Records of what had transpired before the launch brought out the …

New Year Solutions

It is January 4, and I do hope you have made your New Year resolutions. Good Luck!

I have just returned from India where, among other things, I had to undergo a YAG laser iridotomy (there is a profound difference between reading about lasers and experiencing them) and a MRI (the magnetic waves almost threw me off the table) just to make sure that the carcinoma I had many years back had not returned. Forgive me if I have not thought about any new year resolutions.

The real paradox of new year resolutions is not the fact that we ritually make them but the felicity with which we break them. The problem of course is that most new year resolutions start with some goals (or end points) without an iota of an idea as to how those goals would be achieved.

Look at it this way. The probability of anyone being killed by a bolt of lightning is one in eight million. The probability of being killed in a road accident is one in four thousand. Has this simple statistic made you a more careful driver?

As t…