Sunday, November 13, 2011

Physics & Lyrics

How many times have you read a poem (or listened to a song) about Scientific terms and concepts? Maybe 2 or 3 or for some, it may even be a negative number. So, this post is dedicated to making that number increase by 1.

You must know about Initial Value Problems (IVP) & Boundary Value Problems (BVP), right? You don’t? Ohh… then the following sher will define these for you:

वो अंजाम की इब्तिदा चाहता है
मैं आग़ाज़ का इर्तिक़ा चाहता हूँ

Wo anjaam ki ibtida chaahata hai
Main aagaaz ka irtika chaahata hun

(S)He wants the beginning of the end
I want an evolution of the beginning

-शीन काफ़ 'निज़ाम' (Sheen Kaaf ‘Nizaam’)

For Urdu-illiterate people like me, the main four words appearing in the above sher need to be translated to simpler terms, which I do now:

अंजाम = अन्त (End)
इब्तिदा = प्रारम्भ (Beginning)
आग़ाज़ = प्रारम्भ (Beginning)
इर्तिक़ा = विकास, प्रगति (Development, Progress)

Everything above in Hindi is reproduced from the following book, which has inspired a few posts (actually, this cover image should have already appeared in earlier ones!):

Book Cover

Now it should be obvious that those two lines define IVP & BVP. IVP is defined by the second line, which basically means give me the initial conditions of the system and I’ll predict what happens next or in passive voice: how does a system evolve given its starting configuration? That means BVP is defined by the first line, which tells you to give me the initial and final conditions and I’ll find a ‘path’ which connects those two or in passive voice: how does a system go from a given starting configuration to a given final configuration?

Isn’t the sher beautiful & profoundly deep? Wait… What? You want real, physical examples of such problems now? Oh come on, don’t ask a theoretical physicist for physical examples, I’m not a phenomenologist! Anyway, that was just a joke I’ve been trying to get out of my system for a long time. Smile Then, let me give a very simple example… IVP: You earn X amount of money, so what will you do with it? BVP: You earn X amount of money per unit time and you want to buy something that costs Y(~3X), so how’ll you go about the purchase? Hope that helps!

The eternal question a human faces over the duration of his lifetime (or even after-lifetime) is “What does one want?”. And in my view, the following (un-translate-able) sher captures that emotion very well:

दुआ को उठा तो दिये हाथ लेकिन
ख़ुदा जाने क्या मांगना चाहता हूँ
-शीन काफ़ 'निज़ाम'

The answer simply is “Nobody knows!”. If someone wants to give the above Sher’s translation a try, be my guest and comment. I leave you with another beautiful Ghazal regarding

Love, Pain & the Likes


  1. 1. As corny as the joke is, its still kinda funny.

    2. So then the question "What does one want?" in this context is equivalent to asking "Find optimal boundary values....", right? Although, one also needs to define some cost function to maximize (minimize) etc.

  2. Indeed!

    I think specifying a system is same as defining the cost function. So yeah, finding optimal boundary values would be a good start to solving the problem of what one wants where the system under consideration is "one human"!