Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I am a big enthusiast of foreign languages and I wish to learn and get fluent with as many popular languages as I can. So far I have only learned beginner level German and Spanish. Since being involved in the process of learning new languages for two years, I have realized the most common mistake people do when they learn languages. They try to learn all the new language by translating it, word by word, into their own native language. This is exactly the worst thing you could do to learn any language.

The reason is, all languages follow totally different rules for conjugations and have many concepts for which there is no direct or parallel analogy to any concept in your native tongue. For example, in English, the verb endings change only according to the tense and are independent of the gender of the subject. In my language, Marathi, the verb endings depend on both tense as well as gender. An Englishman, if ever endeavors to learn my language, will probably go nuts in trying to grasp all the verb endings, since there is no direct translation for it in English. (Among all languages, English has the most oversimplified rules for conjugations, which makes it very easy to learn compared to other languages)

The best way to learn any language is to start from scratch, just like you learned your own language in childhood. From actions and cues you try to grasp the meaning of words. Direct translation can have horrible effects, as often seen with Chinglish.

Chinglish is a word for "Chinese English". The Chinese language is a pictorial language. It has a different base. I have seen small English words which, when translated into Chinese become longer than a sentence, while sometimes a long sentence in English may have be relatively two or three characters long in Chinese translation. Obviously, as a Chinese guy if it try to translate all my sentences in English, word by word, it'd actually change the whole meaning.

And we altogether get a new language, 'Chinglish' which makes sense only for the Chinese. Chinglish is being employed by Chinese government and is ubiquitous now in all major cities. You can see all the signs and notices addressing you in Chinglish. Seriously, the Chinese really need a break. I mean these guys cant even hire some decent (or even average English speaking guy) to get all their language problems solved. They probably don't know how to use the internet.

Check out some of the funniest instances of Chinglish below.

Selling Butter

Okay! Maybe it is possible that the company isn't selling butter after all. But I think, what they actually mean to convey is, that their butter has such a delightful taste that, it is too good to be butter at all. Understandable, it is a typical advertisement cliche.

But then again, it appears to me, as a normal buyer, that they are trying to sell their product to people who are desperate for not buying butter. Obviously if I wanted to buy anything except butter, this product might be a good option for me. However, they again mention, 'unbelievable' on the package. It means we would find it difficult to believe that it is not butter. Then what the fuck is the point of buying it. Technically, as the product only says that it isn't butter, it can be anything, even marijuana. So we don't even know what we are buying in the first place. Plainly, only retards would buy such a product. Or maybe perhaps its a new marketing maneuver, where you're selling a random product by trying not to sell a specific product. Innovative idea. It must be an IBM product.


It's very subtle to comprehend, but I guess they mean, "Check the fixed price of goods". However, I have no idea where 'fuck' came in from. Maybe, its someone's idea of expressing frustration and disgust at the fixed price of goods, as it enjoins any kind of cost bargaining. I suppose in China, the customers are entitled to put up their own sign boards in shops.

Blow up

For this one I just cannot imagine what they actually mean. Or it must probably be a secret message of some kind. Either way it doesnt make sense. I mean, what the hell are those toys doing in a shop like that?

Dont touch yourself

I fail to understand whom this sign addresses. Definitely not pedestrians. Who would want to help the pedestrians touch themselves. Also I hope that, the 'us' in the sign refers to group of young ladies. Otherwise the sign wouldn't be worthwhile. The Chinese certainly have interesting volunteers for interesting activities. The 'try out' makes me further suspicious about what they are referring. But I am sure it must be something fun.

Electric shock

That's a fine example of reverse psychology. If you try telling a stupid troublemaker not to do something, he would exactly do the opposite, just to annoy you. As a matter of fact a sign saying "Beware of an electric shock here", would get such a person killed de facto. Hence, they have put up this sign to make sure no one gets killed. Practical thinking.

Strange juice

Perhaps, they earlier called the juice, 'poison' or 'snake venom'. But that must have scared away all the customers. So they probably decided to upgrade the name.


I think they must have tried to say "Be careful or you may drown". Now however, it sounds as if they have tried to put that sign for those who come to that river (or whatever) to kill themselves or try to drown their companions. Indeed, if you try to drown yourself and others by making too much fuss, you may mess up your killing attempt as it would unnecessary draw public attention. Hence, they tell you to do it carefully, i.e. doing it quietly when no one is looking.


I cant comprehend what they are actually trying to say. Or maybe they have put it the right way. I mean it could be a legitimate warning. One shouldnt use the lift if it catches fire. Although if you're in the lift when it catches fire, you'd be dead in no time. If you are not in the lift when it catches fire, I dont think you would be able to use it anymore. It is kind of obvious. But after all, many people lack common sense (especially the Chinese) and it'd helpful if they have given you basic instructions to save your ass.


'No kicking of balls'. This is the key principle of Shaolin martial arts. The 'Groin kick' is an illegal move in Shaolin combat. It is also illegal in almost all types of martial arts, except Krav Maga. The Chinese do well to remind us their humble traditions.

And this one is way over my head

The Chinese need some serious re-orientation on learning English.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The second Earth: Gliese 581 D

The planet is clearly getting small for us. With global warming and all the stuff on high lately, and the population snowballing every instant, the world has become a small place. It’d have been much fun to live in medieval ages, when travels and journeys across the globe took sensible and rational amount time and not a day or two. In earlier times, some people took delight in exploring new worlds and were they were known as explorers and adventurers. Now there is nothing left to explore. In other words, for people like them, the world has ended. So we just have to make our world bigger.

We can leave the earth and move on. But where do we go?

Terrestrial planets

It is my sincere belief that one day we will go on to live on other planets as well. Planets which support life, just as shown in Star trek. However, there are many limitations. Theoretically, life can exist anywhere, since life worms develop according to the atmosphere they are in, and learn to sustain in any habitat. However, it doesn’t mean human can do that. We canonically belong to earth and hence we can survive only in earth like environment. The closest any planet comes to have an earth like environment is Mars, where there isnt a drop of water. All the other planets are either gas giants, with no place to set your foot on, or they have ridiculous surface temperatures. In fact no planet in our solar system is habitable (except perhaps Mars, where it is possible to live in a Hub settlement).

For a planet to be habitable, it must satisfy certain criteria, i.e. it must lie with a habitable zone. Habitable zone is the relative location of a planet from and suitable energy source like a star, which would be ideal for habitation, and would be capable of supporting life( i.e. capable of providing water, rocky surface, atmosphere of suitable density, gravity, planetary rotation, and most importantly a star to provide the planet with energy). It is not to be confused to be planetary habitability, a term which refers to the intrinsic factors necessary to support a civilization.

If a planet lies within the habitable zone, it doesn’t mean that it would be like our earth. Rather, there would be a sound probability of that planet being able to support human settlement. It’s still a hypothetical assessment so far, but we have actually discovered two candidates for our next earths. Gliese 581 C and Gliese 581 D Both of these planets lie in the Libra constellation in the system of Gliese 581 star, which is a red dwarf.

Gliese 581 system lies 20 light years away from us. The planets Gliese 581 C and D both were initially thought to be under habitable zone. However, recently scientists have argued that 581 C would be just outside the habitable zone due to its proximity to the red dwarf. Gliese 581 D however, clearly is a habitable planet.

581 d is super-earth planet (planets with mass more than that of the earth, but less than 10 times that value) with mass nearly 8 times that of Earth. In late April 2009 new observations by the original discovery team concluded that the planet is within the habitable zone where liquid water, and therefore, life, could exist.

Earlier, scientist thought that the planet was too cold to support life. However, the same would be the case with earth, if it were not for the green house effect which contributes significantly to maintaining the proper temperature for us. Similarly, taking in account the speculated green house effect of 581 D’s atmosphere, it would support life.

Wikipedia - According to Stephan Udry, "581 d could be covered by a 'large and deep ocean'; it is the first serious Ocean planet candidate." Gliese 581 d is probably too massive to be made only of rocky material, but we can speculate that it is an icy planet that has migrated closer to the star.

Artist's impression of Gliese 581 D, the new earth

So maybe someday people would be blogging from 581 d, soon after we settle there (assuming that the planet isn’t already occupied by 'other worldly' people). Let us suppose that we start right now for that planet right now. (Helios is actually the fastest man-made space object at 70.2 km/s or 252,792 km/h.) This means at 20 light years it would take about 85,350 years to get there. Doesn’t sound realistic.Nevertheless I believe space travel will improve exponentially with time.

It’s still early to predict. But if you were to ask me if we humans would go to live in Libra constellation someday, I’d be willing to take my chances and place a bet. Remember, no matter how stupid it sounds, we eventually will have to ditch the Earth someday, when our sun will grow up to be a red giant, and burn us out if we stay. In fact, the increase in solar temperatures (10% after every billion years aprox.) is such that in about a billion years, the surface of the Earth will become too hot for liquid water to exist, ending all terrestrial life. Of course till then, perhaps even Gliese 581 D may not exist, but we still would have to leave this world if we want to live.

Here are some few comments from the public to the news article few years back when they first announced the discovery of the second earth.

“Yeah, but gravity is gonna be a bitch once you get there.... Don't take any women because they'll complain about the 50% increase in weight.”

“…gonna suck when we find out it blew up 19 years ago”