Sunday, November 25, 2012

My first online course, and my take on MOOCs

Marshall Street Starbucks - Syracuse, NY

I finally did a whole online course (a Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC) starting this summer into the fall - a 7-week course on Listening to World Music offered on Coursera by Prof. Carol Muller of the University of Pennsylvania. I did this course for many reasons.

One was a quick introduction to different kinds of music - pretty likely that I'd never have heard of many of these. Having learnt some percussion music myself, having constantly interacted with musicians, and having attended many different concerts while I was growing up, I believe I have been exposed to many mainstream kinds of music, but would certainly have not come across many not-so-popular ones.

Second, I also thought I wanted to check out how the MOOCs work out, through a complete course. The lectures, homeworks, tests, grading, online discussions, etc. - the whole deal. Checking out the logistics also interested me.

Finally, I wanted to see if I had it in me to finish the course "successfully" when there was no compelling reason to. I mean, the certificate itself was not the motivation at all. It was a course just to learn. I'm happy to report that I did - I did not need a "do it or else" to finish the homeworks and tests :)

This course did not disappoint. It was definitely a fun course. I highly recommend it. A review article on the NY Times prompted me to blog about this course as well - my take on it.

I did enjoy the different kinds of music introduced by Prof.Muller and some stories surrounding them. Many forms of music remain indigenous to the place of origin and must be shared by experts so that we can learn about such cultures. I got introduced to very interesting kinds of music - Tuvan throat singing, Aboriginal traditional music, South African Isicathamiya, and many others. And since they were all YouTube links, you know how it goes - keep following links and suddenly it would have been many hours of browsing.

Some interesting comments that were raised during the course included concerns about plagiarism(!) such as googling for answers during tests, etc. Well, if such courses is purely to learn, what is the real point behind this? So, I'll not really analyse this further, except that perhaps they just wanted the certificate. Now, if as there are discussions going around to offer college credit for such courses, this will be an issue to ponder over. There will be the additional overheads of supervised online exams, expert reviews on essays, etc. I'm curious to see how this works out, esp. if there are so many thousands in hundreds of courses. It will be a huge step in the format of education if this happens. And no, by way of credit it will not affect me, though. I will remain a bystander with regards to college credit - since I would have graduated by then! :)

I will admit, however, that I did skip or skim through many parts of the slides since I was not very keen on the details about the political scenes at the time. I just wanted the music and a brief story or two. But, of course, there were about 30-40,000 other students registered, and so, the course is tailored for students with varied interests, but the benefit of it being open and online is that you participate to whatever degree you wish to; pick and learn whatever you want to. I think this in itself is a very strong message.

Slightly off-topic, but my personal opinion on many of the "well-rounded education" theories after undergraduate degrees are somewhat overrated and it is perhaps not necessary. Most people I know just end up going through the motions and doing what needs to be done, not really with interest. And for a Masters or a PhD, it should not be essential. For high school and bachelors degrees, yes, it is essential - since students are still unsure about what they want to pursue and specialize in. But not later than that. Anyway, that is my two pennies worth on "core courses".

That said, back to the main subject. I did suffer through the final exam because I had skipped through many slides and did poorly enough that I did not complete this course with distinction (>80%), but just received a certificate of completion (>70%). That's fair though, I did just pick and choose whatever interested me most! My scores and the material skipping reminded me of my undergrad days :) However, as I mentioned before, the certificate was never the motivation, so that's that on the certificate's role in the course.

The grading was done by peers, and averaged out - the average of 5 anonymous reviews. Seems OK (students were generous and, in general, gave me high scores, and so did I), but perhaps multiple choice questions would have been more fun (I like MCQs), easier to have automated grading, and it is objective, not subjective. However, I understand that is perhaps hard to incorporate HWs as MCQs for all courses. This one, for example, had essays to write, so I don't know how this would have worked out as MCQs.

Online discussions were pretty awesome, actually. (Although, I was kind of lazy, mostly used it as read-only.) There were so many interesting ideas put forth. If I had to pick out just one really fantastic feature of MOOCs, it would be this - online discussions by fellow students. You can see social networking, crowd sourcing, etc. at its best - a treasure chest of ideas pinged back and forth, very original opinions, hard to find in any textbook. This course had a few Teaching Assistants as well, and they did a fantastic job in their contributions to the discussion forums.

There have also been discussions about whether MOOCs will replace traditional college educations completely in the future. I can see it being a powerful factor, but I don't know about complete replacement, since a college education is much more than just doing a bunch of courses. However, this does bring about the issue of how much people will be willing to pay for "traditional" a college education and degree now that there are a growing number of such courses available for free online; and that too, all by leading experts. Well, I guess I'll wait and see it play itself out - I'm curious about this as well, i.e. to see where the equilibrium lies.

One thing I'm sure of, this will not be my last MOOC. And neither will it be my last explorations of the exciting kinds of music that I was exposed to through this course - I sense many more hours of YouTube-link-following coming up!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fahrenheit Scale - what's the basis?

Marshall Street Starbucks - Syracuse, NY

Curiosity made me look up the logic recently. It was surprising!

What I mean by the title is that I know what the Celsius scale is based upon. Water freezes at 0C, boils at 100C, and using these two round values as base points, the scale is calibrated. Sounds reasonable.

Now, the Kelvin scale. The scale is the same as Celsius, but with an offset. That is, each difference of 1K is equal to 1C, but the base is not the freezing point of water, but absolute zero. In other words, any temperature in this universe, however cold, would be non-negative on this scale. Zero Kelvin is when all motion ceases (not yet attained experimentally but about 1E-9K has been reached). Very clear reasoning.

There's other scales but they do not appear to be very frequently used, so I won't comment on them for now.

This brings us to Fahrenheit. Water freezes at 32F. Water boils at 212F. Normal body temperature is 98.6F. Absolute zero is -459.67F. So what really is the basis for this scale? There should be some "round" number that means something. Why choose seemingly arbitrary numbers? We know what zero is in Celsius and Kelvin. What really is "Zero degrees F", in  other words, what is the basis for this scale?

The only thing I could think of was that perhaps 100F is a likely threshold for a (serious) fever. 98.6-100F may not be a cause for much concern, likely a simple cold/flu. Although I must admit, this was not strong enough a reason, and I couldn't think of any other round number, in order to calibrate.

It so happens that this scale is still popular partly because of the following "intuitive" sense of these numbers, that were easy to remember. 50F is a pleasant day. 100F is on the threshold of being too hot. 0F is borderline very cold. And so on.

But none of all this explained the logic behind creating the scale. I mean 99F is very hot as well. 1F is chilly too. 55F is even more pleasant. 100.4F is also a reasonable fever.

As it turns out, the scale just happens to produce values this way. The reason behind creating the scale as it is was very different. Fahrenheit, in 1724, determined the zero as the freezing point of a mixture of ice, water and ammonium chloride (in equal rations), essentially a kind of brine. At the time, this temperature was considered widely as the coldest possible.

32F was the freezing point of ice and water (also mixed in equal ratios). The number 32 came about as Romer's scale (proposed in 1701) was modified by Fahrenheit to avoid fractions (he multiplied all values from Romer's scale by 4). This new scale underwent further minor refinements by scientists which led to the scale being the way it is today.

OK, now the next (obvious) questions - 1. Why ammonium chloride and not other salts? 2. Why was Romer's scale set to 7.5 for water/ice freezing mixture?

1. Ammonium chloride is a commonly available salt used in forming Frigorific mixtures, i.e. a mixture where the final equilibrium temperature reached by the mixture is fixed, no matter what the temperature of the constituents were, initially. I assume this particular salt was used (and not some other salts which also produced such mixtures) since it was commonly available, but I'm unsure.

2. Romer set 0 in the same way as above, the freezing point of brine. The boiling point was set at 60 degrees. Why 60? I tried searching on the net, but found no convincing answer. Well, it's a round number. And the freezing point of water on this scale was 1/8 of the way, at 7.5 degrees.

So there's my understanding of the scale. The availability of ammonium chloride abundantly, its contribution towards forming frigorific mixtures, a misunderstanding of what the coldest possible temperature was, and an (arbitrarily?) chosen boiling point of 60 degrees by Romer led to the scale that is still so popular today!

In my opinion, metric systems are the way to go!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Lava Simulation!

Lab - Syracuse, NY

When I say I ran into this project, I actually did. Last Friday, I was on my way back to the parking lot in a shuttle, and one stop before mine, I saw a demo in progress. I hopped off, curious. From a distance it appeared to be a glass making demo.

It turned out to be a really cool project. Well, a really hot project - simulating lava flow!

Researchers from the Geology Department and sculptors from the Department of Art were collaborating on this. I met a geology student and he was kind enough to explain what was happening and he also sent a few links across for me to read.

Now, I have hardly any knowledge on this, so I'm going to try to describe briefly only what I learnt (and not make up stuff!) as accurately as I can. I'd never seen such a simulation before. I imagine it must take quite some planning to keep that kind of unharnessed energy under control. I learnt that the temperatures generated were about 1200 degrees C plus! It occurred to me that this was about a fifth of the sun's surface. In a parking lot next to a building!

The material was basalt, and it flowed through molten and re-solidified. It was apparently part of a 1.1 billion year old basalt bed from Wisconsin. So, this was already molten and solidified at least once before (long before humans existed!), and it went through the same process in the simulation. Check out the project webpage. There are many more details, and links to lots of great pictures and videos in the site.

Now the sculpting department will create some artistic creations using this molten lava, making it flow on certain molds or surfaces and allowing it to solidify.

I got to take a small piece with a little wavy design on it as a souvenir. From the site I gather this pattern arose as a result of pahoehoe flow.

This will now be on my desk for a while, a paperweight with a story!

Note to future species (Time capsule note)

If you are a bot or some other highly evolved super-intelligent species reading this (perhaps using your fiftieth sense? We primitive beings had a mere five senses in our time) 1.1 billion years from when I write this (I'm guessing it's around 1,100,002,012 C.E. now), this piece of rock has melted and solidified at least twice before - in Wisconsin (It was the Proterozoic eon then - this rock was probably the home continent of a colony of cyanobacteria) and in Syracuse (man's experiments described above). According to current human simulations and predictions around the time this picture was taken, this will melt at least once more - four billion years further ahead in time, when the sun engulfs the earth. If you have figured out the mysteries of life and death, and are able to communicate with past and future beings, I'd be interested to learn where this little piece of rock landed up, let me know!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekend scuba diving in Lake Skaneatles

Apartment - Syracuse, NY

This weekend was fun. We did a bunch of scuba dives and a little snorkelling as well. This was part of a scuba diving course taught by National Aquatic Service on our university campus. The basics of diving were taught in a swimming pool in our school, and this weekend was in Lake Skaneatles - it is also the fresh water source of Syracuse.

The water was crystal clear, and we could see 10-20ft, except for when we newbies were kicking up the silt from the lake bed due to poor buoyancy control and could see nothing! Here's a pic of our dive site.

Well, the weather wasn't quite this great when we got into the water. It was cloudy and the water had gotten choppy, but the dry suits did their job!

A summary of what I've learnt so far - Most of diving is fun, although setting up the equipment is a long and tedious process - there's (i) wearing the dry suit for cold weather (a Syracuse signature :)) (ii) setting up the buoyancy compensator (BC) (iii) setting up the cylinder of compressed air, (iv) cleaning the mask with the solutions so that it doesn't fog, (v) Even putting the fins on can be a bit of a hassle (vi) making the necessary air supply connections to the BC, and of course, the primary air source for us to breathe! Since tightness of connections is important and land does not provide the flexibility that water does, it can get to be quite a process especially when it's cold outside and your fingers aren't working so well :)

A little fish has all these systems built in, and here is man, with all his intelligence, struggling hard to spend a few minutes like a fish! Humbling, eh? :)

Continuing with what I've recently learnt - Things to keep track of while underwater include increases in pressure by 1atm per 33ft, air supply getting lower which requires monitoring. Then there's the nitrogen absorption rates which matter, they are known to cause "bends" if rate of nitrogen release is not right, hence ascent is supposed to be always a slow process. Residual nitrogen amounts based upon depth and duration of dives also govern when, how long and how deep our next dives can be, although it was not quite a concern at these low depths and low dive durations. Also, our eyes are not adapted to look in the water, so the mask is essential. Water could get into the mask, hence the mask has be made such that there is a process to clear it. Light appears different since different colours are absorbed at different levels. There's many others to keep in mind - with regards to air supply, somebody else needing assistance, etc.

Again, a little fish...

When I was under, I could see a few fish (I'm told they were bass/trout) and they seemed unconcerned about us and did not flee as I'd thought they would. Seemed like friendly fellows :)

I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about going so deep ("so deep" is relative - perhaps this wasn't nearly as deep as professional divers go, but it was by far the deepest I had ever been, the previous being 16ft in a swimming pool). To me it's still a new and unknown world. Everything we take for granted on land, starting from the basic process of breathing, does not come for free in the water. OK fine, it's not quite "free" on land either but that's a different subject for another day!

One of the primary reasons for sticking to shallow waters is that pressure increases rapidly, and the human body is not quite adapted for this. But at about 35-40 feet (the maximum depth of our dives this weekend), with 2 atmospheres of pressure, it was perhaps the mermaids of the deep giving us a warm hug - welcoming us visitors into their world!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Music and memories: key-value pairs?

Marshall Square Mall - Syracuse, NY

It has always made me wonder how a certain piece of music triggers a set of memories. A quick Google search reveals that there is scientific basis for this - a study published by LiveScience in 2009 shows that this is so. (There are probably other pieces of research on this as well.) In this study, they perform a survey with test subjects and scanned their brains for activity while playing some music which was popular when the subjects were 8-18 years old. They say that this scan showed spikes of mental activity when a song triggered some vivid memories. The article also identifies the part of the brain that is responsible for this - the medial prefrontal cortex which is just behind the forehead.

Obviously not all music has this effect. Interestingly, the memories that come flooding back are not the people/places/activities of the first time that I listened to it, but the first time I connected with it. (I don't know if this is the same for everybody.) In other words, I would have heard that song before, perhaps on the radio or television, but would not have made this connection. Or perhaps I would have felt that it is a nice song, and forgotten about it. But there is that one unique point in time where I would have connected with it that keeps coming back, the time, place, what I was doing then, etc. And it is not always the expected connections - such as a girlfriend, or a party, etc. It could also be something really...blah.

For instance, I remember the first time I made a connection with Dido's “Here with me” when I had just picked my uncle up from the railway station in Bangalore; when I got back home, I'd seen its music video on television. I also remember that I'd played a game of chess with my computer immediately after. I'll list a few more in the table below.

So here's the hypothesis - Listening to a good song while thinking about something creates a key-value pair that can never ever be modified.

(A key-value pair is a data structure, which is effectively a tuple. So it will have the format of <name, value>.)

Table: Some of my musical key-value pairs
SongArtist(s)LocationSeason/Time of DayBlah Activity
Here with meDidoBangalore2000 Monsoon morning, ~8amPicked uncle up from railway station, came home and played chess with the computer
IrisGoo Goo Dolls/Ronan KeatingSolihull2006 Fall night, ~11:30pmLying on the bed, looking out the window. (Playing that night on the radio was Ronan Keating's version)
Urzu urzu durkutShreya GhoshalBangalore2006 Spring morning, ~7amGot on office bus, starting work in a new project/different location
Fix YouColdplaySyracuse2008 Winter evening, ~4:30pmKilling a couple of hours while waiting to go downtown
Ondra rendaBombay JayashreeChennai2004 Summer Sunday afternoon, ~3pmLazing indoors as it was too hot outside
Mar JawanShruti Pathak, Salim MerchantEn route from Toronto to Montreal2010 Winter afternoon, light snowDriving on Highway 401 E

Why this much (unnecessary) detail in the table? Exactly! I'm surprised at the kind of detail each song reminds me of, although nothing really extraordinary was necessarily happening at the time.

It was just another night when I was lying down on my bed. And what's the big deal about picking my uncle up from the railway station? Or lazing indoors? Also, all these songs I had listened to before and remember thinking that they were good songs, but why do I not remember the first time I heard them? And why did I make a connection at these “blah” times? As I said, these were not the first time I heard these songs, and definitely not the last time either. These are some of my favourite songs and are usually part of most of my playlists.

There are many more examples, of course. These are all just ordinary moments. I'm not even getting into the personal stuff where connections with certain music is expected because that moment was special.

Looking at the above examples, I cannot find any similarities between why these songs connected when they did. The only correlation I can think of is that all these times I was thinking about something, can't quite remember what for each instance, but my mind was drifting with thoughts. My conclusion from this one case study, i.e. me, (albeit not a very scientific conclusion) is that good music combined with exercise for your mind perhaps has this effect of reminding you of the scene at the time you connected!

In other words, you can hear it again and make all the connections you want again, but the one that keeps flooding back is the first time you make the connection, i.e. the initial key-value pair. So, the above table is now read-only, edits are not allowed! If you disagree, let me know. I'd be interested to hear other views on this. Please also point me to other articles on this subject in case you know of any.

In the study mentioned at the beginning of this post, the researchers also mention that even patients suffering from memory loss are also able to recollect musical connections, with the reasoning that the prefrontal cortex one of the last few regions of the brain to waste away.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a good song creates a motion picture - and since, this is a set of many pictures, it is perhaps worth much more. But if it's a bad song, it triggers nothing. So my ordering with respect to its worth in words is: Bad song < Any picture < Good song (with a made connection)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Skydive from the edge of space!

Apartment - Syracuse, NY

Waiting for the skydive to begin - a quick summary of background info before the dive

It's a cloudy, drizzly and sleepy Sunday morning here in Syracuse as I start writing this post, but more importantly it is a bright, calm and clear day in Roswell, New Mexico where Felix Baumgartner will be attempting a record-setting skydive from the edge of space. As I write this, I'm watching the telecast live, although it's still a bit early for the main event.

The Austrian's ascent will be from Roswell and the jump will be from the edge of space - about 37km above the earth's surface into the New Mexico desert. The jump was originally planned for Monday, Oct 8, but the winds that day were unacceptable to the team and was hence postponed to today.

The Red Bull Stratos team has been preparing for a while, for about 7 years. The previous record set by Joseph Kittinger, who dived from 31.3km on Aug 16, 1960 - over 50 years ago!

A lot of new records will be set, apart from jumping from the highest altitude till date. With the record for height comes other records as well - longest, he is expected to freefall for 5.5mins and fastest - he is also expected to be the first human to break the sound barrier without a vehicle, the team estimates that he will reach a speed of Mach 1.2, about 1,110kmph. He will freefall until about 1.5km above the surface where he will deploy his parachute.

So what exactly is 37km? It is about 3-4 times the normal cruising altitude of long haul passenger aircraft. With respect to the layers of the atmosphere, the troposphere ends at about 8-10km above the earth's surface (8km near the poles and 10km near the equator). Since Felix will be jumping above New Mexico, this border (tropopause) will be somewhere in between. In any case, he is a good 27-28km into the stratosphere. In fact, the stratosphere ends at 50km and leads into the mesosphere. So Felix will be in the middle layers of the atmosphere when he starts his jump.

The temperature itself decreases with altitude in the troposphere and increases with altitude in the stratosphere, so at 37km, the temperature should be around -20C, similar to a pretty cold winter day in Syracuse. However, he will encounter temperatures around -60 to -70C during the jump, somewhere in the range of 10-20km, i.e. at the bottom edge of the stratosphere.

It is also about 14 times the altitude from which I had my only skydive, a tandem one, near Syracuse about four years ago. Comparing my 8,500ft jump to this 120,000ft one, I feel like mine was a bungee jump!

UPDATE: I just heard from the live feed that they haven't inflated his balloon yet waiting for the winds to die down, but Felix is all suited up and is breathing 100% oxygen.

Now, the pressure: This deep into the stratosphere, air pressure is an entirely different story when compared to temperature characteristics. Pressure just keeps dropping steadily, and so, at 37km, there is virtually no air pressure and the air molecules are very sparse. Hence, a pressurised space suit for Felix is a must.

Free fall speeds - Initially there is no air pressure, so it follows that there is no air resistance as well. So, the maximum speeds can be attained before air resistance starts slowing him down. According to the team's estimates on their blog, Felix will reach the supersonic speeds approximately 27-32km above the surface (around 30 seconds into the jump). To put it in perspective (although this speed is not hard to visualise) the Concorde aircraft had a top speed of about Mach 2 (2,179kmph).

The dangers of this dive, perhaps just to name a few are - blood could boil, balloon could stress, winds could blow him off course, uncontrollable spins could happen, unknown effects of crossing the speed of sound, the sonic boom - as described by National Geographic here.

UPDATE: The conditions on the ground are good, but they are waiting for winds at 700ft to die down.

OK, so that's the altitude, temperature, pressure, speed and the risks. That should about all I wanted to say. Please also follow the links above for interesting reads related to these, which are also my sources. What can I say - I'm a PhD student, I feel my article would have been incomplete if I did not list my references! :-)

Eagerly awaiting the skydive/spacedive now!


Balloon is now being inflated, capsule will be suspended from the balloon.

The balloon, I learn from the feed, is just 1/1000th of an inch -10 times thinner than a sandwich bag!

Balloon is fully inflated, winds are dying down fast, and launch is expected shortly, standing by.

Lift-off! He's at 7,500ft above MSL now.

Now past Mount Everest's altitude (8,848m) and the tropopause. Amazing views!

Coincidentally, I just learnt, it was on this very day 65 years ago (Oct 14, 1947) that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier (in an aircraft, of course!)

Past passenger aircraft cruise altitudes.

Outside temperature is below -65C.

Hmmm....long way to go, will play a few Temple Run (Brave) games on my phone and listen to the live feed.

At the Armstrong line/limit: 63,000ft. This is the point at which the pressure is so low (1/16 atm) a human would not last long without a pressurised suit or cabin, because the body fluids (tears, saliva, etc.) apparently boil away otherwise!

76,000ft - They say you can see the earth's curvature from up here and the inky black sky.

85,000ft - The point of the highest aircraft/weather balloons

97,000ft - Felix's previous highest jump altitude

102,800ft - Joe Kittinger's record jump, i.e. past the highest ever skydive.

113,740ft - Past the 1961 record for highest manned balloon flight by Malcolm Ross and Victor Prather. Tragically, Prather had drowned during helicopter transfer after landing.

At float altitude, ~128,000ft. All points on the checklist covered. Confirmed - it's a go!

Capsule depressurised, door opens. wow! What a sight!

Free fall, not quite breaking Joe's record for longest, but definitely highest.

Parachute deployed.

Touchdown! Brilliant!! Congrats to Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

What this blog is all about - or Potential FAQs

Lab - Syracuse, NY

1. What does this blog do?

I plan to pick (on average) one news piece a week on science, music, and sport and write about it. My guess is that it will be more of science than the rest. The main piece of news will most likely be from something I read online - I'll link to it. If it wasn't something big enough to make (big or small) news, i.e. if it was something local, or from the grapevine, I'll mention how I came across it. Naturally, views and opinions will be mine.

2. How do you pick that one piece a week?

Just whatever I feel like writing about. They need not necessarily be either the hot news of the week or even popular. Maybe I really admired something about it, or just that the subject looked different or interesting, or it somehow caught my attention, or whatever, you get my drift.

3. What will it NOT be about?

I do not plan on writing about politics, religion, spirituality, art or poetry. And very unlikely that I will get myself into something like iPhone vs. Android or Mac vs. Windows. Then again, some of these subjects might just creep up if it intersects with science, music or sport in some way. There is no shortage of grey areas.

4. Why are you writing this blog?

Just dabbling with writing in fields I am passionate about.

5. What areas specifically do you plan to cover?

Science (or Math) - quite a wide variety.
Music - Will try to go off the beaten path occasionally. But frequently mainstream rock or pop and Indian classical.
Sport - Primarily cricket and chess. Perhaps some poker, tennis, F1, football (soccer), occasionally other sports.

6. You missed out on Topic XYZ.

Possibly. In fact, probably. No wait, definitely. But that's not what this blog is about.

7. When will you post?

Most likely Sunday evenings - I suppose it'll also help take my mind off the impending Monday morning. Maybe during the week from the lab.

8. You are a graduate student - Will you miss some posts?

Like you said, I'm a graduate student. Hence, I'm lazy. I hope not to miss any of the three posts a week, or I may write two on science and none on sport, or vice versa. But I'm a graduate student. I'm lazy...

9. You are a graduate student - Will you write more than the three posts to escape from what you are supposed to be doing?

Hmmm...more than three? Now that is unlikely. But if I'm in the mood, sure!

10. In summary, it looks like you are pretty open ended about the content of posts, how frequently you'll post. Just that it'll broadly be about science, music or sport.

Whew. It took 10 questions, but you got it...finally ;-) Yup, just want to do some hobby writing on these subjects.

11. The title says "Bats, Beats and Bots". Shouldn't the description say "Sport, Music and Science" and not "Science, Music and Sport"?

Well yes, technically. But the title is alphabetical and the description is in order of priority of the subjects I plan on covering. (BTW, do you have a programming background? I sense that function signatures played a role here.)

12. Feedback/responses to comments/email?

Please feel free to compliment :-) Or give me constructive feedback. Please do swearing elsewhere. I'll respond to comments/email. But then again, like I said, like you said, I'm a graduate student, I'm lazy...

13. I don't like your style of writing.

Clearly it doesn't fall in the category of compliments. Please convert it into constructive criticism before telling me that :-)

14. You used a split infinitive in that last post.

I don't care.