Sunday, June 30, 2013

Google's 'Backrub'

One of the earliest search engines, Alta Vista, was given euthanasia this week. It had been terminally ill for so long that a tweeter said, " was like getting an invitation to a funeral of someone you thought died 10 years ago."

Alta Vista, by indexing around 20 million web pages  was the forerunner to the billions of pages that Google now indexes. Aparantly, its text-analysis approach just couldn't cope with spamming, and was not match for Google "backrub approach".

Now, what is this "backrub approach"??

BackRub was a research project of the Digital Library Project in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. It was started by Larry Page under his supervisor Terry Winograd. The codes were written in Java and Python and ran on several Sun Ultras and Intel Pentiums running Linux, with its primary databased fitting into a 28GB disk.

Essentially what Page's program did was to find out which web pages link to a given page, considering the number and nature of such backlinks to be valuable information about that page (with the role of citations in academic publishing in mind). From backlinks came the title BackRub which later evolved into the now famous Google search engine.




BackRub --

BackRub FAQ --

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Silicon Landscapes

"A surface of silicon was revealed as a land of gentle, steadily rising undulations, in which the track of the probe could be seen like furrows dug with a plough. This particular image was so riveting and so beautiful that “Heini” (as Dr Rohrer told everyone to call him) had to take young Dr Binnig away for long walks through the real mountains to get their discovery in perspective, and to calm him down."

This is an excerpt from the Economists' obituary to Heinrich Rohrer, the father of nanotechnology, "quantum tunneling" and the Scanning Electron Microscope (STM).

When the technique was discovered in the 1980s, scientists were amazed to discover completely distinct, new 'landscapes' on the surface of metals.

Where can I find the image that Rohrer found so beautiful?

Was it something like this?

Surface of Silicon under STM (Image - Webphysics)


  • IBM - STM Image Gallery -

Saturday, June 01, 2013

May 2013 -- Interesting Links

* The Silent Killers of Start-up Growth ---

* Philip, Saju (2013): Two Kerala officers script satire on 'true nature' of a Malayali, Indian Express, 30May13 --
- "Aa Ku Pu Complex" - asooya, kshumbu, puccham
- N Prasanth (IAS, 2007) and K. Ambady (IIS, 2002)

* Madhavan, VS (2013): Too Many Malayalams, IE 30May13 -
- Thunchath Ezhuthacchan (c1495-1575) - Adhyatma Ramayanam - popularised current Mal script - Portuguese had already started making forts on the Malabar coast
- Sheik Sainuddin - wrote Mal in Arabic script
- Chinna Thampi Annavi - great librettist - chavittunatakam - used Tamil with a sprinkling of Aramaic and Latin

* 29May13 - 60th Anniv of Mt. Everest Conquest - Photographs

* Everest Climbers --

* FB wedding pics Photographs -

* Nagarajan, Rema (2013): Authorities Unlawfully Approve Drugs Go Scot Free --

* Twitter Policy -

* Sur, Dipika (2013): -- Rotavirus vaccine can save children from death and stunting, The Hindu, 23May13 --
- India IMR - 61 per thousand - one of the highest
- In 2010, experts estimated that almost 17 lakh children less than five years old died in India. In India, Morris et al showed that 18% deaths occurring in young children are due to diarrhoeal diseases.
- new findings from the Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) -- Rotavirus was the leading cause
- India has already developed an indigenous rotavirus vaccine - 116E -  Bharat Biotech+DBT PPP

* The Apalya Story --
- We began working on a solution that would work on low speed networks so the variable network speeds and flaky signals didn’t affect our product as such. In fact, I think this is only going to grow. There are already 25 million mobile users on 3G. This number will only grow.

* Tokyo Metro manner posters confuse and delight foreign passengers -

* 6000 Mile Long Panoramic Photograph --

CNN-Fortune (2013): Dirty Medicine --

NG (2013): The Gabon Viper Has Ultra-Black Scales So You Can’t See It:

50 perfectly timed photographs -

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows --

Seeroi, Ken (2013): Why you shouldn't learn Japanese, Japan Today, 13May13 -- url --

WSJ (8May) - Cheap Food Plan Could Cost India Dearly -
- government has estimated that it will need to budget 1.2 trillion rupees (a little over $22 billion) each year
- CACP believes that the cost of India’s food program would balloon to 6.82 trillion rupees (nearly $126 billion) over the first three years that the new commitments are implemented. That would mean the government would need to budget 2.27 trillion rupees (about $42 billion) for food subsidies each year
-  Center for Budget & Governance Accountability, a public advocacy group, also has estimated the program would cost the government as much as 2.38 trillion rupees annually

Articles by Wg.Cdr. Bewoor -

Memoto's Wearable Camera (Economist, 7May13) -
- Germany: People living there have been allowed to opt out of Google Street View since April 2009 (though in practice this has been exercised relatively seldom: in the 20 biggest German cities, around 3% of households have opted out).

Beethoven - 9th Symphony - complete -

Raghavan, Srinath (2013): Borderline Personality Disorder, Asian Age, 3May13 --

The Illusion of Insured Bank Deposits - Infographic -

Limits of Evidence Based Policy-Making -