Immerse(#4): SITARA- A Brighter Grid

On the scorching afternoon of 29th July 2012, circuit breakers on the 400 kV Agra-Gwalior-Bina line flung open under the intense load. With 1000 MW power being drawn from this single line whose maximum capacity was near 700 MW, the lines were snapped open, instantly breaking the circuit.

The load then burdened the Agra-Bareilly line, which ran in parallel. It also snapped. With each line getting disengaged, the power deficit snowballed out of control and toppled every line connected in parallel. Within minutes the entire Northern Region Grid, which innervates half of India, collapsed under this cascading catastrophe. 22 states from Assam to Rajasthan and Odisha to Kashmir were plunged into darkness for 2 days. This was the world’s largest wide area blackout, with more than 62 crore people’s lives rattled for days as the engineers scrimmaged to get the grid back on its feet.

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Immerse(#3): An Explosion In Data Analysis

It’s data analysis, and not data dialysis!” The reason being that data analysis involves extraction of desired information from data, whereas dialysis involves removal of waste from data. When analysis is conducted incorrectly, one may end up with waste or meaningless information. Moreover, it is not just about removing unwanted information but making sense out of what the analyst is left with, which is nothing short of a challenge.

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Immerse(#2): Coffee under the Microscope

Caffeine is best known as a stimulant of the central nervous system in humans – in other words, it keeps us from falling asleep. One of the main methods by which it achieves that is by inhibiting the action of adenosine (by preventing it from bonding with its receptor). Adenosine is the chemical that induces feelings of drowsiness in humans. Existing literature has established that adenosine also plays a major role in the formation and motion of the slime mold aggregate. A natural question to ask, then, is whether caffeine could play a similar inhibitory role in slime molds – and this is precisely the question that Dr Baskar’s work answers.

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Institute Soapboxes (Day 1): Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary and Academic Affairs Secretary

“With the election season underway in full swing, Wednesday marked the return of the annual soapboxes, albeit with a slight variation in the format. In this new format, candidates facing a contest would battle it out against one another while unanimous candidates would be engaged in a discussion with the anchor. Questions from the Executive Council Members and the GSB would follow.”

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Made in Insti: Detect Technologies

“Working in a company like Detect which involves people from across various fields, says Daniel, gives you an experience that academic life simply cannot. “In fact”, he adds, “our firm is proof that students from IIT Madras, if provided the right guidance in technology, can generate more intellectual property than even PhD scholars from big universities can. We even foster other startups to grow out from Detect Technologies from the problem statements that we identify from the industries.”

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Immerse (#1): Playing with Twitter

“Do you see a lot of physics words here? That’s because there is a lot of physics involved, and the study of social physics brings together the two exciting fields of social media study and statistical mechanics. However, as with all theories and models involving human decision-making, this too is a slave to the sometimes arbitrary sensibility of people’s everyday decisions. A human may choose to drink Pepsi today and not Coca-Cola; there is no way this seemingly random and whimsical choice can be modeled by logical rules.”

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A Chronicle of an Imprisonment Foretold

“Mine is not a case you would call “extreme” by today’s standards. There is no body mutilation, no death, no placards and angry crowds. It is perhaps worth looking at precisely because it is a very, very common form of harassment, one that so many of us have learned to ignore. We like to think of perpetrators as evil oddities with eye-patches and scars (and lacking the stellar education that a place like IITM offers), and forget that the problem is widespread, that the perpetrators may be those closest to us, and that we ourselves are guilty of abetment. Well, STOP. And read.”

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