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What is Artificial Intelligence?

What is Artificial Intelligence?

If you touch a hot metal object, you will yank your hand away immediately. When this happens to you the first time, the sequence of events and the result (the burning of your hand) gets stored in your brain. This is what we call an experience. When you see a hot metal object next time, you will not touch it. You will use the knowledge of your previous experience and decide to not repeat it again....

Who Invented the Photocopying Machine?

Who Invented the Photocopying Machine?

We have all used it at one time or another to copy our school documents, or parts of a book borrowed from the library, or just about anything we wanted a copy of. It’s just a matter of pressing a button of the xerox machine and hey Presto! a piece of paper comes out at one end, an exact duplicate of the document we needed copied! However, when the invention was first patented, nobody wanted anything to do with it....

What is Cloud Seeding?

There was a time when a farmer would sit out in his field, watching a lonesome cloud float away, taking with it the last hope of a much-needed burst of rain. As humans take control over more and more natural processes – not necessarily for the betterment of civilisation – rain too seems to have finally been leashed in. Just like a farmer throws seeds on ploughed land to harvest plants, clouds can also be seeded with chemicals to induce rain!...

Elevator Physics

Elevator Physics

You get into an elevator (or a lift, as we sometimes call it) and for a second or two, just as the elevator moves down, we feel weightless. On the other hand, if we go up in an elevator, we suddenly feel heavier just as the elevator lurches upwards. To understand this feeling of weightlessness, we need to understand a few basic things first. Mass: The amount of matter that constitues us results in our mass....

Dress like an Egyptian

Dress like an Egyptian

I am writing this as I am travelling in my time machine. I know how important it is to keep a diary of happenings. The machine is making strange rattling noises, because I forgot to clean its aching joints this morning. It’s an old contraption, after all. Hullo! Where am I? I thought I was visiting ancient India, but this decidely looks like a pyramid. Oops! Looks like I have reached ancient Egypt. Never mind, as they say – enjoy!...

The Greek Barber

The Greek Barber

I wonder what others think of when they hear a mention of Greece. I think of the first Olympics and I think of the poison Socrates the philosopher was forced to drink. But I want to see something different today. Athens, here I come! The Greek Barber [Illustrations by Anup Singh] My machine says we have reached the Athens of 2005 years ago (5th century BC). I stretch myself and walk out of the machine....

Coconut Oil + Kerosene = Fuel

Coconut Oil + Kerosene = Fuel

Coconut Oil + Kerosene = Fuel [Illustration by Shinod AP] March 27: Fossil fuels or fuels that are naturally found in the earth, are being rapidly consumed by humans. And the world has begun searching for an ‘alternative fuel’. Necessity is the mother of invention. And out of necessity, a coconut farmer in a village in Thailand has ‘invented’ an alternate fuel. Guess what this ‘invention’ is – a little kerosene mixed with a lot of coconut oil!...

What an Enigma!

What an Enigma!

December 9: It has been 55 long years since the second World War ended but several relics from that period still attract curiousity. The Enigma Code Machine, for instance. While the police have been chasing wild geese trying to find the Enigma, one fine day it just landed up on their doorstep, but without three vital parts that ran the machine. The police claim to have arrested the thief now. The Enigma Code Machine became famous as the device the Nazis used to encrypt top-secret messages during the Second World War of 1939 – 1945....

Joy of Making Indian Toys

Introduction The best thing a child can do with a toy is to break it. The next best thing is to make it. This book is about toys which children can make and break freely. The low cost or rather no-cost toys documented in the book are the everyday playthings of millions of Indian children, past and present. Joy of Making Indian Toys [Illustrations by D. K. Sharma] Strictly speaking, most of the toys documented here do not have a technical or standard name....

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

Suitcase – checked. Diary – checked. I am writing my last lines before I take off in the time machine. Time machine – checked! This time it’s going to ancient Rome at the height of its empire. Only this morning I read somewhere that when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you want to accompany me, sit in your seat, hold the mouse firmly, and whatever you do, don’t press the escape key on your keyboard....

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