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Posts Tagged ‘cricket’

— by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

Every month TRIUMF publishes in its HR (human resources) newsletter the pictures of the new employees (with short bio-sketches) joining the lab each month. My executive assistant promptly invites them for coffee with me so that I can welcome them to Vancouver and TRIUMF. The fact is most do not want coffee but rather prefer coke or espresso. It is an excuse for me to have a cappuccino and chat it up with the new folks.

This month we had four new postdocs arrive at TRIUMF: one from India (speaks Hindi), one from France (speaks French, not French Canadian), one from Venezuela (speaks Spanish), and one from Italy (speaks guess what). Fortunately for me they all speak “anglais.” I asked each of them what research they’d be working on at TRIUMF.  This is where I give them a bit of a hard time and really get to know what they’re interested in and excited about. It’s my job and its fun.

For whatever reason, my blogs on Quantum Diaries (QD) came up.  Turns out the new French postdoc had spent time in Ireland and had watched a 5-day cricket match with India (guess who won!). The French postdoc, let’s call him Pierre (not his real name), said he could not understand the rules of cricket. Well, I was surprised, because I thought all Europeans played cricket…but apparently not. So my new friend the postdoc from India and I proceeded to double team him with information about cricket.  On the screen in my office, we pulled up my QD post on the subject (which my new Indian friend had read; now he was much more than a mere new friend…he had excellent taste and was heading directly to Go and would collect $200!).

My description of cricket was so masterfully simple that even Pierre, overcoming a cultural barrier, could understand. He left with a new-found understanding of cricket, and I felt like a professor again, making a difference in the lives of one of his students. Any more cricket questions?  One. How do you get a batter out, Pierre asked My new Indian friend said if the batter gets hit in the leg by the ball, they are out. I knew that! Any more cricket questions?

 

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–by Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

[Ed. Note: This is the third of a three-part series penned by Nigel on his trip to India in early March 2011.]

Day 4 (March 2, 2011): I start the day with tea in a small paper cup delivered to the room. Tastes great. Time for Tim and I to go for our morning walk around the VECC site…takes about 30 minutes. Talk about yesterday’s talks. Today we go to the conference Frontiers in Science, being held at the Taj Bengal Hotel in downtown Kolkata.

The sessions were interesting with a mix of physics, nuclear power, biology, business, and social perspectives. I sensed the passion and realization by the Indian presenters that they had a duty to address the country’s immense social challenges. This came up time and time again. Put simply, how does one justify spending millions of dollars on a science project when people outside are living in extreme poverty? One thing came across is that India is proud of its accomplishments and is up for the challenge. They recognize they must be more global…they are overly insular at the moment was the consensus.

I presented my talk on Canadian Science Policy. After listening to people’s comments, I think more strongly than ever that Canada has a plan for science…maybe we are not all in agreement with the plan, but we have a plan.

After the presentations were complete (only a hour and half behind schedule), we headed off to the dinner reception at The Bengal Club about 15 minutes away. The edifice was referred to as the last vestige of the Raj. We got into a discussion about what the “Britishers” brought to India…besides cricket, the language, tea, and the obvious stuff. One view that emerged, which may be controversial…1) The British united India by providing a common enemy. 2) British scholars (Sir William Jones) created the Asiatic Society in the 1784 and out of which came “Indology”, the study of the ancient Indian history. 3) They brought modern science at the same time as it was exploding in England, just after Newton and the rapid growth of industrialization. Another discussion was about picking tea. The conference organizer, Mr. Deb, picked tea as a teenager. He called it a garden but it was several hundred acres…a big garden. Bottom line is that “two and a bud” are the leaves that make the best tea.

Day 5: Start the day as usual with tea and a walk, breakfast and .. come back and there is a lizard in my room. I pretty much freeze and declare the room to be the lizard’s and bow out…off to the conference. I chaired the first session. One of the more interesting talks was by Aniruddha Lahiri, the President of the Chatterjee Group of Companies. He started his presentation “Marvel of Indian Entrepreneurship,” by quoting a modern “Britisher” John Lennon, who said that vision and imagination were essential for entrepreneurship. Of course most of the world thinks of India as being entrepreneurial. Lahiri argued that Indians are good at taking risks, move quickly, and indeed do make good entrepreneurs but they are not (yet) great innovators. On the other hand, the British are great innovators yet could never master bringing their ideas to market successfully…Jaguar and Land Rover, are now owned by Tata for example. Along these lines, I was quoted in the local paper, the Telegraph, that Canada was good at manufacturing innovation but the innovations were not worth much. Business is tough. There was a strong push at the conference for nuclear energy as well as India’s prominent role (9%) in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) in Cadarache, France. India is very proud of its role in this leading-edge technology enterprise for many reasons, but an acronym much repeated was CSR….Corporate Social Responsibility. Again, I think India wishes to convey it is a progressive country that is concerning itself with the environment and the many other social issues the country faces.

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Breakfast in India, with Cricket

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

–By Nigel S. Lockyer, Director

[Ed. Note: This is the first of a three-part series penned by Nigel on his trip to India in early March 2011.]

I don’t start everyday reading the Hindustantimes sitting in a restaurant in Delhi having breakfast. It is not a bad paper. I have read the India Times for a few years online and I am going to switch now. Here, all the talk is the about the Cricket World Cup. Today, 2:00PM, England versus India. I hadn’t been here for more than two hours before the name Sachin Tendulkar came up. He is the top cricket player in the world, or so they say here. When Sachin is combined with his teammate Virender Sehwag, the Indians said they felt sorry for the English.   History has moved on in India I guess. You can feel the swagger. However the expectations cannot be met in all likelihood. Mahendra Singh Dhoni,  the captain, is clearly in a pressure cooker situation. The local paper says ” Mahendra Singh Dhoni,….holds the second-most high-pressure job after the Prime Minister in the country…”…I think that pretty much sums it up.

Oh, yes, I must have missed the tickets mess, that was a national disaster by the sounds of it. Police lathi-charged fans waiting to get tickets. Lathi is a stick introduced to India by the English for crowd control in the old days. It is highly ironic they are now being used to control crowds awaiting the England-India cricket match fans. Given the crazy world of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and everything else painful going on, I fully appreciate and am thankful to countries where priorities are recognized and appropriately set…think  Canada and Stanley Cup playoffs…the world news stops for the important stuff.

I was looking in the newspaper for anything to do with science. After all, India is big on technology and has a rich history in physics. Found one….electromagnetic radiations (newspaper provided the “s”, yes radiations) from mobile towers, particularly near your home, can be hazardous. The article was factual and said scientific evidence was not there yet so Delhi was being cautious and ruled that cell phone towers are not allowed near schools, hospitals, or homes. That is more progressive than Vancouver or Toronto. Oh, and the 700 million cell phone users in India is an amazing number along with 5.4 lakh towers (units in 100,000). That is to be compared with about 1000 cell phone towers in Toronto….TO residents are fighting them from being in their back yards. India plus one!

I am now going to pray like mad to Pavanputra Hanuman that I can get my talk finished for tomorrow in Kolkata.

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