Sunday, February 28, 2010

How our brains are tuned to the pentatonic scale- Bobby McFerrin

I am no musician, but based on what I understand, a musical scale is an arrangement of a set of notes (pitches/ frequencies) within an octave (a mathematically repeatable range). Most of us have heard about the Heptatonic scale with seven pitches. It seems that the Pentatonic scale with five pitches is something that we are naturally attuned to (even a child inherently finds it easier to understand).

Most TED videos are really cool. They have added a section called the 'Best of the Web' and this one featuring Bobby McFerrin is simply amazing. Most of us know of Bobby McFerrin through his wonderful song 'Don't worry, be happy' (click on this wiki link to read more about this song's Indian connection) with a video featuring Robbin Williams, which won the Song of the Year Grammy in 1989. In the following video, he demonstrates how natural the pentatonic scale is to the human mind.

The following is the YouTube video:


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Washing Machine Sans Power

Thanks to the bollywood movie 3 idiots, grassroots innovation in India has been brought to the limelight. The HoneyBee Network has been a pretty successful attempt at aggregating such innovations in India.

One such innovation was the pedal powered washing machine by Remya Jose (who's also a Keralite  :) ),

As anyone who has tried washing clothes on their own, without the machine, would acknowledge - it is a pain and a sheer waste of time and energy that could perhaps be put to better use. For many who have the time and do not mind a 'workout'- washing by hand still remains a lucrative option. However, gauging by the attempts made at simplifying this chore, I guess no one would mind a quick and cheap alternative.

I also chanced upon another product called 'cyclean' though it had nothing to do with India, I came across the link through Rahul Brown's blog post.

The latest design I have come across was through BoingBoing and has inspired this blog post by its simplicity (though I cannot vouch for its effectiveness). Its called Swirl. Forgiving their attempts at stereotyping the developing world through their website, I kinda like concept. Its a marriage between the well known and elegantly simple Q-Drum (a jerry can which can be rolled on the ground) and a washing machine drum. The following is the result:

It actually tries to make washing clothes fun!
So, whats your wash flavor- electric, pedaled, rolled or kicked about?