Time . Lapses . Limits


A beautiful film made by Ville de Quebec film maker Dominic Boudreault showing a time-lapse montage of the cityscapes of Montreal, New York, Toronto, Chicago and Quebec City contrasted at the end with the stars of the night skies outside the city limits. It took him a year to make this. Please full screen it.…and enjoy its beauty of architecture and urbanscapes, ships and starry nights. Set to Hans Zimmer’s score Time from the unforgettable movie of dreams, architecture, travel and love Inception.


I am very happy that the film features a project I worked on which won quite a few awards and has become a favorite postcard pic and a city landmark – the installation, urban design and lighting of the historic Fontaine de Tourny that was placed on the entry grounds of the Parliament building of Quebec City. It was a gift from Bordeaux, France, for Quebec’s 400th anniversary, and I’d worked on the conceptual and construction planning as well as lighting design of it with the firm I was with at the time. A few conceptual sketches and the final product below. Of course, I have not included the construction drawings, which are prosaic, technical ones but which hold the chassis of a project.

Due to budget restrictions, the original seating and artistic fence proposals made were not implemented and currently a very basic structure surrounds the fountain.

The sculptor who’d made it – only 3 copies of the fountain exist in the world : Mathurine Moreau


Sidetracked Alert : Since Conan Doyle’s b’day is round the corner – an ode to Holmes from last year https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/elementary-dr-doyle/


“I told you so,” Einstein would’ve said.

NASA probe confirms Einstein’s prediction

If you wish to know more about this, do go here directly on the NASA site : http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/may/HQ_11-134_Gravity_Probe_B.html

Or here on the National Geographic site which explains it with lesser technical jargon but nicer graphics:  http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/05/110505-einstein-theories-confirmed-gravity-probe-nasa-space-science/    

For the layman version, CBC reports:

According to Einstein’s theories of relativity, the mass of Earth dimples space-time like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline.(NASA)

A NASA probe circling the Earth has found evidence that confirms two key predictions based on Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

The results from the Gravity Probe B mission show that the Earth’s mass does warp space and time, which are interlinked, NASA announced Wednesday.

They also confirm that the Earth does drag space-time with it as it rotates, as predicted.

“Imagine the Earth as if it were immersed in honey. As the planet rotates, the honey around it would swirl, and it’s the same with space and time,” Francis Everitt, the Stanford University physicist who led the mission, said in a statement.

The results are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Space-time and relativity

“German-American physicist Albert Einstein’s theories of special relativity and general relativity say that space and time are woven together into four-dimensional “space-time.” The mass of Earth dimples this “fabric” like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity results from the tendency of other masses to follow the curve of space-time and roll into the dimple. The theories predict that as the Earth spins, it should twist the dimple — an effect that should be measurable using precise gyroscopes.

Gravity Probe B was designed to test the predictions by taking measurements from four ultra-precise gyroscopes. Those instruments contain rotors that NASA bills as the “most perfect spheres ever made by humans,” allowing them to spin indefinitely without drifting from the alignment of their rotation.

The gyroscopes were aboard a spacecraft circling the Earth in a polar orbit — that is, it travelled perpendicular to the Earth’s rotation, passing over both poles during each orbit.

The experiment was set up so the gyroscopes’ axes of rotation should always point in the same direction — toward the “guide” star IM Pegasi — provided the Earth’s gravity did not affect space and time.

However, the researchers detected tiny, measurable changes in the direction of the gyroscopes’ spins, confirming that the Earth’s gravity does:

  • Warp space and time around it, which is called the geodetic effect.
  • Pull space and time with it as it rotates, an effect called frame dragging.”


Somewhere in the late 1980s a little girl was obsessively reading through her dad’s old Life Nature Library encyclopedia collection and a particular book she loved the most: “The Universe”. There on page 178 and 179 was the picture of a famous white-haired scientist and a chapter next to it with fascinating self-explanatory diagrams and a write-up: “Is the Cosmos Curved? And if so, how curved?” The essence of Einstein’s theory was that the presence of matter distorts space and makes it curve. The concept  of space curvature stemmed from many-dimensional, non-straight-line geometry created abstractly though equations. Just as a surface can curve in ordinary three-dimensional space, so in non-Euclidian geometry a three-dimensional space can itself curve in four-dimensional space. It is difficult to visualize such a curved space because man is not four-dimensional, but from a purely logical perspective it is a clear possibility. The chapter went on to elaborate much more of course about General Relativity.

Well, it’s wonderful to find out that NASA proves that he was right, after all. What had fascinated this girl years ago in a big book were in fact words of proven wisdom.

So, a perfect occasion to place Tim Minchin’s hilarious animated poem, Storm. (Not for everyone, alas – watch at your own risk but don’t complain about getting ‘offended’. Only for those with a good sense of humour.) I love it though. Absolutely. This video is so true on so many different levels in our PC-world. And though yoga of course has unmistakable absolute proven physical benefits, as well as turmeric and curcumum used in Ayurveda, as has been proven through scientific research and tests for prostate cancer, (and mind you, the video doesn’t talk of those), the apt take on homeopathy and other pseudo-science and psychic mumbo-jumbo that the video takes the masks away from is spot-on. A f****ng brilliant piece of work, as Minchin would say.  Feel free to quell any Storm-types (and idiotic Secret-types or nagging EatPrayLove-types) around to down their vociferous ignorance-laced-with-remarkable-certainty lines with this lovely clarity of reality, logic and facts . Enjoy:

(to turn off the captions, simply click on the ‘cc’ button on the youtube task bar.)


An excerpt from the National Geographic article:

Doing What Einstein Thought 

To conduct these tests, Gravity Probe B used a device called a star tracker to keep one end pointed at a single star, IM Pegasi, while in a polar orbit 400 miles (644 kilometers) above Earth.

If we lived in a universe that behaved as envisioned by Isaac Newton—in which the geodetic effect and frame dragging don’t occur—then the gyroscopes would stay aligned with the star forever.

In Einstein’s universe, however, the direction of the spin axis of Gravity Probe B’s gyroscopes should gradually change due to the mass and rotation of Earth.

“Imagine the Earth is immersed in honey, and you can imagine the honey would be dragged around and [an object in the honey] would also be dragged around,” Everitt said. “That’s what happens in the gyroscope.”

Sifting through the data, the team found evidence of an angular change in the gyroscopes’ orientation of about 6,600 milliarcseconds over the course of a year.

A milliarcsecond, Everitt explained, “is the width of a human hair seen at the distance of 10 miles [16 kilometers]. It really is a rather small angle, and this is the accuracy which Gravity Probe B had to achieve.”

The change is so small, in fact, that Einstein didn’t think measuring it was even possible.

In his 1953 book The Meaning of Relativity, Einstein wrote that frame-dragging effects “are actually present according to our theory, although their magnitude is so small that confirmation of them by laboratory experiments is not to be thought of.”

But now, “thanks to NASA,” Everitt said, “we’ve done more than think about them. We’ve actually measured them.”

Gravity Findings to Unravel Distant Mysteries?

Although the results are only now being released, the Gravity Probe B satellite has completed its work, and it was decommissioned in December 2010.

Funded since 1963, Gravity Probe B is one of the longest running projects in NASA history. Scientists had the idea for the experiment before the required technology—such as the star tracker and gyroscopes—even existed…….

For the rest, click here.


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A Closure of sorts for some…10 years later

A Closure of sorts for some…10 years later

New York, May 1, 2011.  Late last night, a historic announcement was made by President Obama that the whole world watched. The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and leader of the terrorist group Al- Qaeda had been killed by special combat troops while he was hiding in a mansion in Pakistan.

I was glued to the TV since 10 p.m. when they’d announced that a grave national security address by the President would be made around 10:30 p.m. Nothing had prepared us to know the rather celebratory news – and once the surprise sank in, it was as though the streets of New York suddenly burst out in some form of disbelief and relief.


I headed to Ground Zero around 1:30 a.m. and took several photos, some of which I have placed here, along with two others from an earlier time. It is 4 a.m. now but I couldn’t rest till these were up. What a day…what a surprise….and of course, a closure-of-sorts for many who lost their loved ones that day.

Just two weeks back I was on Tower 7’s topmost floor with Kenneth Lewis – the director of Skidmore Owings Merrill – the architecture firm that is building the Freedom Tower and had also designed Tower 7. It was mind-boggling to tour the construction site and see how the Freedom Tower was being built. Alas, I had forgotten my camera….but the overwhelming feeling, in the giant construction site of the two towers and their surrounding buildings whose destruction had changed the course of western security in many ways, is very hard to describe.

Tonight, throngs of people had gathered around the site, some walking silently towards the site, some younger ones cheering (I will not make value-judgments) since the mastermind of the attack had been put down. The ‘cheerers’ were mostly young 20-somethings who said that they were 10 when the attacks happened and for the last 10 years they had only heard of war and terrorism. It seems  since the death of Hitler (who coincidentally also died on the same day as Bin Laden but 66 years ago), no one’s death has been celebrated with such glee. It was interesting to note that. 

The trigger of the war against terror.

Ground Zero in April 2010. Viewed from the Hilton hotel.

A giant slide near Ground Zero of the 9/11 memorial garden. A metaphorical healing of the gaping wounds.

May 1, 2011. 1:45 a.m. Jubilant crowds gather near Ground Zero to celebrate the fall of Bin Laden.

May 1, 2011. 2:00 a.m. Ground Zero. Patriotic chants fill the air.

More cheering.

Two policemen stand near barricades for crowd control. The financial district of New York had come alive with crowds in the early hours of May 1, 2011

The new Freedom Tower in the backdrop of the crowds.

An impromptu plaque on the side of the memorial exhibition hall placed by a family member of a victim in the 9/11 attacks. (Click to enlarge.)


Sidetrack: I have started a group on Facebook after I couldn’t take the rants of the moronic Donald Trump anymore. Feel free to join if you believe that media-hungry loudmouths like him should be told to shut their pie-holes, instead of the crazy lies he touts about President Obama:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donald-Trump-SHUT-UP/211505485540897?sk=info

And it was wonderful to see the President himself and SNL comedian Seth Meyers deal with the Donald in their own way with wit, humor and a long-deserved  punch line.


February 11, 2013 Update: Journalist Phil Bronstein reveals the fate of the Navy SEAL who shot Osama Bin Laden. Besides this being an incredibly engaging article, and a dekko into the ways of the military and the U.S. Government, it is good to see that good journalism is still alive and kicking. Article: The man who killed Osama  is screwed.


Related Post: This Too Shall Pass