Friday, September 30, 2005

Committees of Correspondence

Committees of Correspondence

I agree with Dan. How wise is this investment?

Globetechnology: What's with them young whippersnappers?

Globetechnology: What's with them young whippersnappers?

I don't know whether to be worried or amused. Well, I know these statistics are debatable because people have different values and morals. I know I have different opinions about different things. For example, I detest smoking and think it should be banned. But underage drinking is something I don't have issues with. So, how can you generalize an entire population?

i'm sad that I have to use the native blogger interface or Hello to post pictures on my blog. I would like to have batch file uploading capabilities.. It's extremely time consuming to post 100 or more pictures individually. My picture blog has over 600 pictures now. There are a lot more to come although it seems like the pace of taking pictures since the first few weeks at Oak Ridge has diminished. I haven't done as much recently. Hopefully that will change.

I have a lot of busy work like doing homework for the class, and studying for the GRE. I'm taking the GRE sometime around the end of October. I think Rachel might doing it sometime there too.

So far we don't have much planned for this weekend except for a bbq in honor of one of the Dans getting run over by a bull. Next weekend should be a ton of fun because my brother is coming to visit.

Today has been a productive day so far. I came in at 8.30 and ran AFM scans of the annealed samples that had been in the furnace overnight. And then I conducted a thin film run by myself without my mentor watching me for the first time! We have to run an X ray diffraction scan to check the quality of the thin film. Taking a early quick lunch, I had enough time to put in another sample that should be ready to taken out in half an hour. This should allow me to put a substrate in and create a vacuum in the chamber for Monday. My mentor will be gone all next week and he gave an outline of what he wishes for me to accomplish. He talked about his perception of the right amount of samples and characterization tests needed to write a decent paper worth publishing and it doesn't look like I'll meet the quota. That makes me sad but I can't do much about it because i lose almost 5 hours a week to stuff that I need to do for ORSS which includes the inorganic chem class and a seminar.

I did something fun today post lunch. I took my hour break at work with Jenn and we went to Baskin Robins to get some ice cream. I got a chocolate fudge single scoop cone for $1.50. It was sooo good. I might do that once a week. It reminds me of gelato from Italy. yummmmmmm..

Listening to: [R.E.M. - Try Not To Breathe]

U.S. insists on keeping control of Web

U.S. insists on keeping control of Web

Hmm..I wonder if this is acceptable or not. I do agree that it was a concept built by the US military but it has grown beyond that. The US is being greedy. And like the article says, who is to say that US policy won't suddenly change and our access to the internet severed..

It's really weird that EU needs the US for getting greater control of the internet. It's a worldwide phenomenon now and they should be able to get more access control themselves.. I guess I don't know enough about the situation to understand the problem.

Look at the comments for further discussion on this topic.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

My honors paper on The Dying Niobid and Aphrodite of Knidos

I noticed that some people were hitting my blog looking for the dying niobid, so i decided to put up the paper i wrote about the sculpture. FYI: this is not the professor-corrected version, so don't mind the mistakes.

Exploration of female nudes in the Classical and the Hellenistic

The Dying Niobid
Aphrodite of Knidos

The two pieces of sculptures that I will be comparing are The Dying Niobid and Aphrodite of Knidos. The Dying Niobid is a Classical sculpture dated 450-440 BCE. The Aphrodite of Knidos is a Hellenistic piece by Praxiteles during the peak of his career between 330 and 360 BCE. There was a change in values and virtues of Greek culture through the transition from the Classical to the Hellenistic. This was especially true in case of perception of art concerning men and people from other cultures outside Greece. However one thing that did not change was the perception of women in that society. Women were exploited in the Classical era and that continued through to the Hellenistic era in the portrayal of women in sculpture.

The Dying Niobid is the first female nude sculpture found belonging to the Classical period. This piece is clearly Classical with a few innovations such as the nude portrayal. It was a bold move by the unknown sculptor because women were always clothed as nudity corresponded to heroic status. When men were depicted in sculpture, they were nude and larger than life affirming the male dominance of the society. An example of this dominance is the Discobolos by Myron in mid-fifth century BCE which showed an idealized larger than life male who was not self conscious about his nudity. This offers the heroic element to the sculpture. There was no self-consciousness due to the lack of clothing which suggested confidence and vitality.

The primary iconography of the piece suggests pathos since the young Niobid was fleeing from Artemis and was shot in her back with an arrow. That was suggestive of cowardice as no man would have been shot in the back. She stumbles as she is shot in the back and that causes her drapes to fall off. The nude element is accidental as she stumbles and reaches back to pull the arrow out. In the process, she grimaces and throws her head back in a pathetic gesture. This clearly deters the piece from reaching heroic status. We can also see the pain of evident death on her face. She realizes that she is doomed and fated to die. Her form is Classical as the piece depicts rhythmos due to symmetry in motion. Her right arm and left thigh are on a vertical line, so there is symmetry on the vertical axis. Her extended right thigh is balanced by her arms reaching for her back. She also forms a triangle which provides with a certain sense of stability because Classical sculpture was about order and reason. Stability in the form was very important. This was also about the momentary as it was depiction of frozen motion, a still image in the process of the young Niobid stumbling.

The artist was playing around with new ideas but he still had various constraints regarding form and iconography. Women had not been depicted nude in the Classical era due to their inferior status in society. The sculptor balanced the nudity in the piece by showing her in the process of dying. Dying can be shown in a heroic manner but the artist goes further to deprive her of heroic status by showing her getting shot in the back as she runs away cowardly from her pursuer. He balanced the piece because the public of that era would not appreciate the novelty of female nudity. The portrayal of death in a woman who is vulnerable and defeated depreciated the value of the female Niobid. The piece conformed to the ideals of Greek society during that period.

The young Niobid was unselfconscious of her nudity as she was more concerned with the arrow in her back. This caused her to gaze upwards as she fished around for the arrow. This allows us to gaze at her accidental nudity freely. This brings a voyeuristic element to the piece and suggests a certain level of eroticism. This eroticism borders on pornography because it provides the male viewer sexual pleasure while looking at it. The pornographic element in this piece is ghastly with the portrayal of death. It is similar to snuff pornography in the modern world where the subject or victim is murdered brutally on film after having sex.

The Dying Niobid acknowledged the male dominance in the society as the male viewer had the control of interpreting the piece the way he wanted. He could either look at it erotically or look at it with disgust. He could derive pleasure from viewing the topless Niobid or be sickened by the pathos during the last moments of her death. Either way, this showed that women were still exploited and would not be given equal status in society. Men could be heroes but women would not be given the status. They would be almost heroic and then the artist would do something to the piece to deprive them of the heroic element. Women were shown as soft, delicate and vulnerable, which was not heroic.

The Aphrodite of Knidos was a trend setting piece as there were many versions of Aphrodite created later. This was a piece of Hellenistic sculpture as the iconography shown here is as simple as a bath. The piece shows Aphrodite nude with her right hand covering her pubic area with her left hand holding on to a drape over a water vase. Her head is also turned to the left. She is emerging or getting ready for a bath. This is a very private moment that we are witnessing. This piece does not have a heroic element in it either due to the selfconsciousness of her nudity.

The pose of Aphrodite was contrapposto which is defined by American HeritageDictionary as �The position of a figure in painting or sculpture in which the hips and legs are turned in a different direction from that of the shoulders and head; the twisting of a figure on its own vertical axis.� She has her right hip cocked to the side with most of her weight on her right foot. It�s a casual stance which is more comfortable that the rigid straight posture. This casual posture alleviates strain. However she is balanced with her extended left arm and hand. This pose conveys ease in posture yet reassuring stability. This is very similar to the Doryphoros. Her pose is more supple, feminine, and not athletic because she is stooping a little. This made her nude feminine form different from the athletic yet casual stance of the male Doryphoros. However a key difference in the two pieces is that the male Doryphoros is not self conscious about his nudity.

The line form of the Aphrodite is S-shaped which induces sensuality to the image. Plaxiteles used the bath as a pretext for nudity. She is self conscious about her nudity. This is perhaps due to her privacy being invaded by a male gaze. She quickly moves to cover her private areas in a gesture of modesty. Her posture is coy which makes this image of Aphrodite erotic. This piece was made for a male gaze. This voyeurism makes this image pornographic too. Her failed attempt to be modest makes it more erotic because it makes us wonder about what�s hidden. However, since her gaze is not straight but looking off to the left, we are allowed to view her nudity freely without feeling uncomfortable.

There are similarities between The Dying Niobid and the Aphrodite of Knidos. They have a certain sense of order. Both of them are balanced, inducing order into the sculptures. This makes the Aphrodite of Knidos pseudo classical. They are both nude but without the trait of heroism. The Niobid is portrayed with pathos as she stumbles. Aphrodite is shown in a private moment doing something as trivial as a bath. Both the female nudes are looking away which allows the viewer to scan her body at his pace without feeling uncomfortable. An interesting observation is that the build of both nudes are similar. It�s rather fascinating to see that the image of a sensual female body had not changed. The voyeuristic element in both the female nudes gives control to the male viewer. This shows the exploitation of women because men thought women were inferior to them. They made women seem like mere sex objects.

Since these pieces are produced in contrasting eras, they have some fundamental differences. They have different forms as the form of the Niobid is more rigid and ordered. The Niobid is also not conscious about her nudity while Aphrodite is clearly conscious of her nudity as she moves to preserve her modesty. Another difference is that the Niobid is shown performing a pathetic gesture while Aphrodite is merely in a bath. Mortal women were likely to be shown more pathetic and vulnerable than goddesses.

Since neither of these pieces are heroic and are suggestively erotic, it portrays the status of women as lowly. They were not allowed to be equal to men. We have not been witness to any male nudes that were meant to be erotic. This is due to the fact that most of the sculptures were made for rich male aristocrats who looked down upon women. When the artists created these masterpieces, they were subject to constraints in art during the particular era. During the Classical era, the nude female was not a permissible theme when the male nude form was evolving. So, they had to create abnormal states for the female subject to make her nude. However, even with relaxation of that form of prejudice, Praxiteles felt like he had to justify Aphrodite�s nudity by using the premise of a bath. They were not allowed to show women as heroes due to possible public outrage. So, they condoned the male dominance by creating images of women which were meant to serve as high class pornography further subjugating women.


  1. The Aphrodite of Knidos and Her Successors: A Historical Review of the Female Nude in Greek Art. Christine Mitchell Havelock. University of Michigan Press.

  2. Greek Sculpture: A Critical Review. Rhys Carpenter. University of Chicago Press.
and the emergency vehicles are still there. they also have the whole building cordoned off. great! there goes my productive work for the day. sigh. i have a seminar to attend in an hour and then it's home. i have to finish reading the first two chapters of Molecular Symmetry and Group Theory which talks about the symmetry elements in point group theory. If you couldn't figure out already, this is a part of advanced inorganic chemistry. And of course, I also have to do GRE prep.

Listening to: [The Starting Line - The B-List]

Excitement at ORNL!

Well, my mentor and I were almost to the point that we could start the laser ablation (PLD) and then we smelt something nasty. And we looked around to locate the origin of the odor and then we hear sirens. We then got out of the lab to see lights flashing and the people getting out. And as we went down the stairs, we noticed that the first floor was full of smoke. And then within 2 mins, the ORNL fire department and emergency vehicles pulled up. That was quick response! After we got out, we asked around to see anyone knew what the smoke was from. Once the firemen got out with a black burnt hunk of metal, we realize that it was a smoking tube furnace. I'm told that we might not be able to operate any tube furnaces for a while. That's a kink in our productivity because I still need to anneal substrates and don't want any setbacks. My mentor told me that Los Alamos had a bad laser accident and they shut down all the lasers in the lab for two months. That must have really slowed their scientific research down because a lot of science research is done by lasers. They are trying to figure out if the smoke was toxic or not. I guess we will be told soon enough. I've been told that safety is a serious issue at ORNL and it should be. Our division now has a ton of paper work to fill out about this and has deal with possible repercussions..

Lets see what happens now. We need to get back into the lab to finish my thin film growth.

Listening to: [Aqualung - Good Times Gonna Come]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hugh Symonds - Hu's Gallery in the Sky

Hugh Symonds - Hu's Gallery in the Sky

This is amazing! These pictures have fantastic quality. I never knew camera phones took pictures like these. I know my motorola V710 doesn't. It actually has a pretty crappy camera phone.

Monday, September 26, 2005

i was threatened with bodily harm for logging onto someone's computer. i don't think i did anything wrong except for etiquette. i shouldn't have used his computer but it was right there and i was getting bored while substrates were being cut. he said that if i ever did it again, he would break my fingers. geez, that's one abrasive guy. he is a huge hulk looking piece of meat. i know ORNL has strict rules against physical harm but I don't know if this is worth reporting. i know i'm never logging onto his computer anymore. but if i did, which i won't, i would log on and then remove my user id upon restart. i think putting in his user id and then putting a wrong password resets the user id field back to his. my mentor apologized to me for his rudeness. oh well, that's some excitement for today.

i'm in a weird productive mood today. i have to cut more substrates and then clean them. i also need to etch and anneal them. i have a lot to do this week.

i had a lot of fun at the balloon festival on friday evening. and the country concert was decent too. i am going to put up pictures soon.

i got caught up with everything going on at school because i got to talk to britta, kelly and goms. i chatted with andi for a bit and i'm going to call her tonight and talk to her. i haven't talked to andi for a week now because i've been soo busy.. sounds like she had a cracker of a weekend. i'm jealous.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Real-Life Twinkie Experiment: August 2005

The Real-Life Twinkie Experiment: August 2005

This is one of the most interesting real life experiments I've ever seen bordering on fraud. I thought this happened only in movies but it seems like they have been doing this for a couple of months and gotten away with it so far. The twin at the law school seems to be doing fine so far. I'm going to keep up with this and see how long the facade lasts.


Friday, September 16, 2005

This is midly amusing

I think someone actually is reading my blog. I am amused because I know where the reader is from. Oh well, another spectator for the ride. I wonder how long they are going to be with us.. They must have tagged my blogs to check for updates. This is cool! I wonder if I will get any comments.

And I did an AFM run of LaAlO3 and didn't realize that it was supposed to be rough and thereby I wouldn't get any fine features. I sat there for 30 mins trying to figure out why I couldn't see the terrace features. And then I looked at the sample and thought that the surface was pretty rough as I could see features with my eyes. So essentially after talking to my mentor, I found out that I got exactly what I needed. I just have to increase the z scale to see more macroscopic features. And that also explained the reduced amplitude setpoint. There is so much to learn about the AFM and I have just stratched the surface. I have quite a few samples to do Monday morning.

[Listening to: Harry_and_the_Potters-Stick_it_to_Do - Harry and the Potters - Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock! (2:23)]

Lab Notes: Research from the Berkeley College of Engineering

Lab Notes: Research from the Berkeley College of Engineering

This is a short article on Berkeley's new optical microscope that has a resolution of 60 nm which is amazing. Yeah, the AFM has a resolution of a few nano meter but this is an actual image. This is very promising!

A selection of pictures that I really like

These are just a few pictures that I took over the past two weeks while at Oak Ridge. I am proud of them because I think they came out pretty well. They were taken with a Canon Powershot A80.

Click on the pictures to enlarge

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's been over 3 weeks already!

I've been thinking about my exprerience here so far. I am amazed to see how quickly time is flying by. Getting up for work around 6.45-7 am everyday, then 8 hours of research at the lab except when I have the tuesday thursday Advanced Inorganic Chemistry for an hour and a half in the morning, and the mandatory Wednesday afternoon seminar on various scientific topics. So usually have long days and then workout in the evening for an hour. I can't really do much here except for running and pushups and crunches and stuff. I get pretty tired after running for 20 mins. Must be the altitude and the speed I try to sustain. I guess I'm spoilt running on the treadmill at Coe which keeps me in check.

About the progress in research so far. I guess I have made a few Bi based oxide thin films using PLD. Apart from that I've learnt how to use the tapping mode in the AFM. The AFM i'm using is very similar to the one we have at Coe Physics except, Coe's is newer. And the images I've scanned have had a 50-50 clarity consistency. Must be the tip. I keep thinking that I've broken the tip by getting it too close to the surface. Ho Nyung, my mentor thinks that after scanning a hundred samples, I'll become an expert. Probably true. I think he is moulding my project differently that what he had planned earlier. He says that he plans for me to use the AFM a lot. I haven't done any X-ray diffraction yet.

And I talked to Andi at the perfect time on Sunday. I wanted to talk to someone about something I had learned about myself from Jenn. Andi just listened and it made it feel better. It was about how I can be demanding sometimes especially when it came to food. Jenn and James cook every time and I can't really help because I have nothing constructive to help with the process except cutting veggies and dishes. And our kitchen is soo small, it can barely hold two people in it. And the way, I phrase my requests that sounds like commands and not requests to people here. I guess that is true because we have not known each other for long enough to get comfortable enough to rid formalities. I went into the mode that I am with friends from school like Britta and Andi and such. So, I just have to careful how I say things now. I guess it will be little hard to pay attention to everything but it will work out. I like the fact that Jenn told me because I would have been oblivious to this and would have continued my lack of courteousness in my interactions. It not like I am not courteous, I just don't say please all the time.. Just one thing, people here don't really communicate as to how they feel to the person they need to talk to the most. Except for Jenn. I'm glad for her honesty with me. People are having serious room mate issues and are bitching about it to other people but when suggested to talk to their roomie, they shrug and say they don't want to confront the situation. I know that people aren't veyr observant of change in behavior, and they will never know unless they are told. I hope the girls figure out and solve their issues. On the other hand, so far James and I are doing great. He is a good friend and room mate.

I got wonderful news from Britta. She is going to be around for my final semester because she is not doing her study abroad in Sweden. It makes me soo happy. I miss her a lot. One of the very few people I had to see everyday. She will be there for my graduation.

[Listening to: Harry_and_the_Potters-Stick_it_to_Do - Harry and the Potters - Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock! (2:23)]

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blogging has been on the back burner

I wish i was blogging more frequently. I am perpetually busy ever since I've been at Oak Ridge. My 40 hours of research at Oak Ridge National Lab (I'm going to refer to this as ORNL from now), an inorganic chemistry course and a weekly seminar series along with GRE prep keeps my time occupied. I am a part of the HERE-ORSS program (ACM/GCLA) which is sort of like an internship and I would highly recommend this to anyone who has a semester to take off and participitate in this. This would boost your graduate application beyond your wildest expectations. I went to Vanderbilt University to visit the VINSE (Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering) and check out their programs. I was able to meet a few of their professors and talk to them about their interdisclipnary material science graduate program and research centres. They have a brand new 3 million dollar facility for nano science research including PLD (Pulsed Laser Depostion which I will talk about more later since I work at ORNL on that), carbon nano tubes, nano fluidics, nano fabrication, and nano optics to name a few. I don't know much about Nashville but I'm assuming that if I am called back for an interview, I will be able to see more of what the city and the college has to offer. So, far I think Vanderbilt is ok and they have a decent cafeteria.. They asked me to come down for their Nano Day on Oct 19 where I would be able to meet most of their faculty and students. Jenn came along with me to Vandy because she wanted to check out the Bio-Chem division, and she got to talk to a few professors too. She said that one was almost cocky about his publications/research and hated teaching because for some odd reason, they don't get paid for teaching yet they have to teach a class. Anyway, the ride up and down was a ton of fun and we talked most of the way. We listened to one of her time management and motivational cds and had a discussion which eventually went off on a tangent and we never got back to what we were talking initially..hehe..

We might go to a few other universities to check them out. I guess we'll see.