Yet another spring…

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The orchid on the office window sill is blooming again this year. The white and red thread you see strung on the orchid’s stem was given to me by a friend, Yavor Kostov, who is originally from Bulgaria. I learned that this thread is known as Martenitsa in Bulgarian and symbolizes a friend’s wish for good health. It is meant to be gifted from one to another and not to be bought for oneself. Traditionally, it is worn on the wrist beginning March and is then tied on a blossoming tree or a stork! I couldn’t find a stork within reach here in Oxford, hence chose to tie it to the blossoming orchid on my window sill. Adorned by just one Martenitsa, I wish this orchid a long and healthy life. The tree pictured below (source: wikipedia) has been gifted many more than one and I wonder if it will bloom an extra set of flowers for all the Martenitsi it has received.

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Emergence

I recently heard a talk by an eminent physicist on the concept of emergence. The idea is about organization on large-scale, when the actual dynamics of a system is occurring at the small scale. The most common example is the murmuration of birds, as shown in the photo below. How do tens or hundreds of birds fly individually yet form a large-scale organized pattern, at least one that the human mind can detect.

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The speaker went on to show beautiful animations of the game of life, with dozens and dozens of patterns that emerge spontaneously from simple rules that govern the individual pixels. His theory or hypothesis was that structure can exist at the higher level and the lower level independently. That got me thinking, how much of our very own thought is a result of emergence in a system that has the fundamental building blocks of matter arranged in a certain pattern. The very thought that came up with the concept of emergence is an emergent phenomena, as those quarks, atoms, molecules, neuron cells dance in unison to create it!

Joy springs early

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The orchid on my office window sill is in full bloom. Feels like spring is here early. It is a joy to see the yellow-cream colored flowers in bloom. Both the plants on the sill were recently gifted to me by a friend and colleague who is soon leaving our group, Nathalie. Thanks to her!

T-Rex in the house

Thanks to Google Auto Awesome, a dramatic picture I took yesterday in the Natural history museum next door looks even more dramatic. With skeletons of T-Rex and the Iguanodon on display and children playing about, the scene looks straight out of an action adventure. Yet, I was just taking an afternoon stroll after some tea !

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Crostata!

image One of my favorite desserts. Found this in a local Italian restaurant here today. The family-run Italian restaurant had a cosy atmosphere and a unique way of serving pizza. They serve hot pizza on a wooden crate instead of a plate. Enjoyed the meal. Buon appetito, as they say.

Recipe (in original Italian):

Ingredienti: –

2.5 cup farina

2 uova

½ cup + 1TBS zucchero

1pz di sale

¼ Tsp lievito (yeast or baking soda)

1 panetto di burro (113.5 grammi) – Limone grattugiato

Preparazione: – In una terina mettere la farina (non tutta lasciarne un cucchiaio abbondante), fare un buco al centro mettere le uova e lo zucchero sbattere bene. limone, pz di sale, e lievito. Poi strato leggero di farina e aggiungere il burro precedentemente sciolto. Mescoltare il tutto e se l’impasto è troppo secco aggiungere un pò di latte o acqua. Sul testo mettere la carta forno e stendere la pasta con le mani in maniera uniforme lasciandone un pezzetto per il sopra. In ultimo aggiungere la crema o la marmellata. Cuocere in forno tiepido a 180 gradi non aprire prima di mezz’ora.

CREMA

500ml di latte

3 rossi d’uovo

150g di zucchero

50gr di farina

limone grattigiato o vanilia

Il procedimento è semplice, metti a bollire il latte, a parte monti le uova con lo zucchero e la farina e il limone (se il composto è troppo duro metti un goccino di latte) e quando il latte bolle metti il composto e giri con la frusta fino a quando non bolle di nuovo.

A run in the park

While running along a picturesque path in the park, I suddenly decided to stop and capture the moment. The evening light streamed through the green leaves shading everything around in a pleasant texture. I decided its got to be a panorama to capture the leaves, the path and the stream. Just as I panned the camera through, so the earth spun around its axis, bringing clouds to shade the sunlight streaming into my view. Hence, the shades of white seen in this picture !

Many a thought this change in shade brought to my mind. How fleeting a moment we live in, regarding it as our present, with our decisions to act on something, to define the next moment. Then there are external characteristics such as the earth spinning around the sun, the clouds spotting the skies as if it has a will of its own and the alignment of many such disparate yet connected events defining what the next present moment is going to be !

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Well, I shrugged and got back to my moment of capturing my present, which is now the past as I reminisce about it. Took this non-panoramic view of the path along the stream. The university parks is a quite and beautiful place to run along on a warm sunny summer evening. image

The ducks floating along the stream, the branches swaying along in the wind, their reflections tranquil in the stream and the voice of Clive Merrison playing Sherlock Holmes in my ears brought a unique serenity to the run.

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Thanks to Google Auto-Awesome for auto-awesomizing this for me !

Sunset over the meadow

A picture of the sunset behind the Port Meadows in Oxford, UK. Some of us from the department went out for a picnic on Friday evening in the meadow, with food, drinks and a frisbee to throw around. It was a beautiful summer evening with the sky partially clear and the weather warming everyone. The meadows is a flat land with odd patches of flora interspersed with droppings from cattle and other animals that pass by. The serenity of the River Thames flowing through and the boats parked along the banks of the river adds more to the calm of the ambience.image

Pluto, Eh !

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Incredible snap of Pluto, a dwarf planet made of ice and rock, more than 4 billion miles away. This was taken by the New Horizons spacecraft on 13 July 2015. This marks the final frontier for a man-made spacecraft visit to the planets from the erstwhile solar system (before Pluto was reclassified to be a dwarf planet in 2005, along with other similar sized objects in the Kuiper belt orbiting the sun).

Sand, rock and waves

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While the waves break gently on the shore,  the rocks weather the timeless onslaught.  The onslaught that withers their existence slowly into sand. Just as waves of humanity beats down upon cultural rocks to blend us all into the sand that covers the beach of time.