Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Dorm Key with a Thousand and One Uses

You know that golden-colored key they give you when you check into your dorm? The one that's supposed to open your door? Well that's not all that it's useful for. Here are just a few of the things I can think of using it as:
  1. Scissors: great for cutting through tape to open packages.
  2. Screw-driver: doesn't work too well, but can be an ok replacement when you don't have one.
  3. Nail-filer: does a pretty good job
  4. Pendulum Bob: performance improves if placed on end of a lanyard
  5. Fake Wand: same comment as above
  6. Playing Darts
  7. Playing Horseshoes
  8. Playing Spoons
  9. A Musical Instrument
  10. Bottle/Can Opener
  11. More...
So that's not quite a 1001 uses, but I'm sure you can think of some more. =)

-- Arkajit

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Potter Era

So, this post has been a long time coming.

On a late night jaunt along the Charles River (yeah, so I may have forgot to mention that I'm at MIT now =P), I couldn't help but thinking that if I had Harry's Firebolt and I went flying over the Charles it would look exactly like the scene from the Order of the Phoenix movie where the Advance Guard is flying Harry across the Thames River. Of course that naturally led me to think of the logical counterpart of the much more difficult escape from Privet Drive in Book 7. Well now I was clearly in a Harry Potter mood (then again I always do have a few brain cycles committed to charting future HP possibilities) and I just had to write this entry with my thoughts on Deathly Hallows and the entire Potter Era. So from the very beginning...

When I woke up on a dull, gray Tuesday, our story starts. I was not yet 11 and I was at Stanford for CTY. As I walked through the campus, I saw people dressed in the strangest robes of the most shocking colors conversing in hushed voices: "You-Know-What is here at last!". Owls were flying in broad daylight. As a mere Muggle, I could not understand the clamor over the release of a new book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. But that night I returned to my dorm to find an unflinching tabby cat with square green markings around its eyes and a copy of Goblet of Fire waiting for me in a bundle by my doorstep.

I picked up the first three books to start reading them in order and I instantly fell in love with the black-haired, bespectacled boy (say that ten times fast, Fred) with the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. His story became my story. His joys my joys. His sorrows my sorrows. I most definitely grew up and learned many of my life lessons with Harry (and Ron and Hermione). Just to name a few...
  1. How to choose your friends: carefully, especially beware blonde-haired sons of Death Eaters.
  2. What to do when you're in a new place: try new things, like Quidditch!
  3. Best way to make new friends: save them from a mountain troll.
  4. How to deal with other people when they hate you, for example when you are widely suspected to be the Heir of Slytherin, or of cheating to enter the Triwizard Tournament illegally, or of lying about the return of a certain Dark Lord, etc...
  5. How to cope with a troubled family life like say if your parents were murdered by the most evil sorcerer of all time, your godfather was wrongly imprisoned for 12 years, and your aunt and uncle force you to live in a cupboard under the stairs for 10 years of your life.
  6. How to take an insane courseload: borrow a Time Turner! (Thanks Hermione.)
  7. How to get a detention: Tell your hooked-nose, greasy-haired potions master -- "There's no need to call me, sir, Professor." Or better yet, call him a coward and he might even throw in a Levicorpus for free.
  8. How to get lost: Follow Neville and/or keep walking up the 142 staircases that keep moving and changing.
  9. How to get unlost: Borrow the Marauder's Map. (Thanks Moony, Padfoot and Prongs. No thanks to Wormtail.)
  10. How to get whatever you need: Concentrating hard on what you need, walk three times back and forth past the blank stretch of wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy on the seventh floor.
  11. How to figure out girls: err, scratch that, they're mental (Seriously, Hermione, listen to Ron for once. You should write that book on how they think =P)
So, I guess I didn't get to do a Deathly Hallows analysis. That'll have to wait for another post so I can do it full justice.

-- Arkajit

Monday, August 06, 2007

Harry Potter Magic Meets Science

First, Invisibility Cloaks, now Wingardium Leviosa, what next? :) Check out this article:

Levitation has been elevated from being pure science fiction to science fact, according to a study reported today by physicists.

Beijing saleswoman demonstrates toy which levitates by magnetic force; Physicists have 'solved' mystery of levitation
In theory the discovery could be used to levitate a person

In earlier work the same team of theoretical physicists showed that invisibility cloaks are feasible.

Now, in another report that sounds like it comes out of the pages of a Harry Potter book, the University of St Andrews team has created an 'incredible levitation effects' by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together.