Monthly Archives: March 2012

murder by mnemonic OR the mnemonic plague :-(

oh well,  (just in case you were wondering what the hell this is!) a mnemonic is a device or a clever way of memorizing or recollecting a set of facts; like, for example – we use the rather sad mnemonic VIBGYOR to ‘remember’ the names of various colours that make up the visible light in terms of their increasing wavelengths…

Well, I have always known that mnemonics were an useful idea – especially from the times of Sir B B Roy, to whom many a budding electronics enthusiast like me were eternally grateful.

But, OhMyMaterCoitussingGAWD! What the world has come to! O tempora! O mores!!

A few children here (I am with a rural school in Tamilnadu now – of course I am NOT talking about nammashaale) that go to other schools have these cutesy ways of mnemonics. The children love it, their teachers swear by it – and I swear at them, of course…

Ohm’s law: Iyer = Vegetarian (apparently iyers – a sub-sub-sub tamil jaati of the brahmin varna are generally supposed to be vegetarians – this is a well known ‘fact’ in Tamilnadu; Iyer has to be interpreted as IR with I standing for current and R standing for resistance; vegetarian simply stands for V. So, ta da  –  V = IR!)

Fleming’s ‘left hand’ rule for motors:

F     M

M     C

T      F

F = Forefinger (also Fleming). M = Middle finger. T = Thumb. M = Mutton. C = Chicken. F = Fish. Apparently this order is easy to remember because Mutton is the costliest, Chicken comes next and Fish is el cheapo! M also stands for Magenetic force, C for Current and F for Force (perhaps to be interpreted as the direction of physical motion). Don’t I rudely and crudelywant to show my finger at these teachers!! &*^%$(!

Acceleration = Rate of change of velocity. Just remember AVT – a locally famous brand of Tea (I think it stands for AV Thomas or something)’ A stands for acceleration, V for velocity and T for time!


Ultimately, it is all about whining and winning I suppose, in the painful path called ‘Board Exam’ and oh well, victor bene valeas qui bene futuis.

Ha haa!

PostScript: All the rest of you who are snooty and consider it beneath your dignity to use such gory mnemonics to memorize simple stuff – can please go copulate with the nearest available bovine… (but you will have to stand behind me – SILLY, not for that, can’t you see that there is a queue?)

nammashaale & professor satish dhawan

This is NOT about a Helicopter Parent.

Actually this about a Rocket parent!

Here is a blog post by Abinandan at which is reproduced verbatim:


Here’s an episode in Prof. Satish Dhawan’s years as ISRO chief:

The early days saw many failures. Through all those difficult times, Dhawan never lost faith in ISRO’s capabilities. He took personal responsibility for failure but when success came, he always attributed it to ISRO and his colleagues. Thus, when the first flight of SLV-3 in 1979 failed, Dhawan faced the press. When the second flight succeeded, Dhawan kept himself in the background while Kalam spoke to the press.

That note is from P.V. Manoranjan Rao’s tribute to Dhawan on the latter’s 89th birth anniversary. This memorable anecdote came up in a couple of conversations yesterday, and it felt good to be reminded of it again.

A longer version appears in R. Ramachandran’s obituary in Frontline.

Abdul Kalam has recounted his experiences when he was the project director for the launch of India’s first launch vehicle SLV-3. The first experimental launch of SLV-3 took place on August 10, 1979, but it was a failure. Kalam was called by Dhawan to attend a press conference. “Before the press conference, Professor Dhawan told me that he was going to handle the situation and I should be present with many of the senior scientists and technologists,” Kalam has said.

At the press conference Dhawan announced “Friends, today we had our first satellite launch vehicle to put a satellite in the orbit, we could not succeed. It is our first mission of proving multiple technologies in satellite and satellite launch vehicles. In many technologies we have succeeded and a few more we have to succeed. Above all, I realise my team members have to be given all the technological support. I am going to do that and the next mission will succeed.”


The next developmental flight, of SLV-3,on July 18, 1980, was a remarkable success. “An important thing happened then,” recounts Kalam. “Professor Dhawan asked me to handle the press conference with our team members. Dhawan’s management philosophy was that when success comes in after hard work, the leader should give the credit of the success to the team members. When failure comes, the leader should absorb the failures and protect the team members.”


Prof Dhawan was a great scientist, administrator and a leader of people. I admire him for a whole lot of other things too (like his love for literature, books, classical music etc etc). However, the one thing that I mightily admire him for is that, he never let his ideas and opinions drive his children – his children flowered on their own, ably nurtured by their parents, and guided by the inscrutable exhortations of their souls.

Perhaps many of us parents need to learn a lot from this stellar example – both the current parents and the parents (some of them happened to be helicopters in some advanced stage of crashing) who left nammashaale – some towards east of Bangalore and some others towards the due south of Bangalore.

Quiz Question: Some of you may know the Eastward-Ho folks, but…  🙂

postscriptum: Not many of us know that Erdkinder at nammashaale had the pleasure of having been taught by the sweet, affable & able artist Amrita, daughter of this incredible Prof Satish Dhawan. Amrita taught us the basics of working with clay and Oh what an experience that was – And a rather minor point was that,  she never ever did  reveal her pedigree.

Thanks Amrita, for all the fun and learning!