Mastering the Academic Block

Note: No humanities majors were harmed in the production of this post. Also, economics is a social science and is the driving force behind the progress of the human race. Econ majors are excluded. Please don’t murder me in my sleep. :D

Being the stronghold of the School of Humanities, the Academic Block at LUMS was designed to be as messed up as the mind of the typical humanities major. In other words, unless you’re majoring in sociology/anthropology, its architecture makes no sense whatsoever. However, over the days I have learnt several tips and tricks to navigate through this confusing jungle. Since I am a mere library-lurking science major, these tricks are not perfect and I still often need help from people regarding the location of different auditoriums, but they work most of the time.

The Coin-Toss Navigation Technique

This one is simple. Slowly circle the academic block and toss a coin while passing in front of each exit. If you get a heads, then that’s the exit you want to go through. In case of failure, simply come back and, as they say… try, try again. This doesn’t make any sense? Well, neither do the humanities.

The Reverse Psychology Technique

One thing you have to realize is that you will almost never get correct directions from someone in the academic block. The best solution to this anomaly is to do the exact opposite of what people tell you.

Sample directions: “You want to see the HSS Co-ordinator? Sure thing. Just turn right and pass through that exit.” 

Typical incorrect freshman response: Turn right and pass through the exit.

Correct *real* luminite response: Turn left and pass through the opposite exit.

The Insult Humanities Majors Technique

You obviously have a lower chance of finding the right auditorium than you do of being selected for the next trip to the International Space Station. Plus, you’re late for your class anyway… so why not make productive use of your time by insulting humanities majors? It’s pretty easy to do. Just go to someone who looks like a humanities major and tell him/her humanities is useless. Then prepare yourself for the three hour backlash. It’s even more fun with political science majors because then you can just assert that political science isn’t a real science.

The Solipsism Technique

If you can’t beat them, join them. The cake is a lie, there is no spoon and the humanities are better than the sciences. Send in a transfer to the humanities school, enroll for Philosophy 101, buy a guitar, stop sleeping at night and start annoying those lame science majors having breakfast at six in the morning before their first class by repeatedly screaming ‘life is a drug’. Only when you’re ‘high on life’ (and low on intelligence) will you understand the true secrets of the academic block.

How to Win an Internet Argument


Credits: XKCD [ ]

Choose the Right Viewpoint

Before taking part in an online argument, it is wise to carefully choose a viewpoint that is the most widely believed and hence will get you the most public support. Knowing which viewpoint is supported by the majority of the population is easy: just pick the one that is stupidest, requires the least amount of intelligence, is supported by the most politicians and has the least amount of evidence to back it up. An argument with all of these qualities is guaranteed to be the one with the most public support.

Wrong: Climate Change is a major challenge for our species and we need to use all our combined intellect and resources to avert this catastrophe and leave a better world for future generations.

Right: Climate Change is false propaganda by those pesky liberals.

Awesome: Climate Change is a conspiracy by the Illuminati so they can control the world and impose evil things like science and education on the innocent population.

Use Incorrect Grammar

Whatever you do, don’t write a single sentence that is actually comprehensible.  Using correct grammar or language that suggests you were privileged enough to receive even the most minimal amount of education  is suicide in the world of online arguments. It is also extremely crucial that you misspell all words that are more than three letters long.

Wrong: I am sorry sir, but you seem to be exceedingly ignorant and uninformed of the issue at hand.

Right: Die u stupid imbaceele!

Awesome: Fak u fegit, K? U bez stoopid. Plz dying now.

Credits: XKCD [ ]

Take Ad Hominem to the Next Level

Whoever said nonsense like, “Attack the idea, not the person“, was clearly an Indian agent trying to spread false propaganda. To win an internet argument you must never ever ever pay attention to the your opponent’s ideas, logic or evidence. The best thing to do is to disregard everything he has to say and keep hurling insults at him, his parents and (only for professionals) his ancestry, race and language.

Preposterously Wrong: I agree with most of your evidence however you must remember that correlation does not imply causation in all cases, and hence the conclusions you draw may be unjustified.

Wrong: Your argument is invalid.

Right: Damn u aNd ur grAndMa. U <insert race> morons r <insert unfriendly country> agents trys 2 destroying my contry. Pplz like u shud B deadened and hanging. Stoopid treitor pPlz.

The Capslock is Your Friend

You may sometimes run into a problem if your assertion is not convincing enough. Some people make the mistake of mentioning objective evidence and logic to support their claim. That’s stupid, don’t do that. The best technique to work your way out of this situation is to  just keep repeating your assertion in an exceedingly aggressive and illiterate-sounding tone. Turning on the caps-lock and SHOUTING EVERYTHING IN CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  is strongly recommended.

And that’s that. I’m sure with these simple, easily implementable techniques you will never lose an internet argument again.

The Stirring of a Breeze

Note: This post was also republished here.


I see posts from numerous freshmen on the LUMS Class of 2018 Facebook group discussing their upcoming departure and preparations for their new life at LUMS. Everyone is expressing their joy and excitement. How they can’t wait for the orientation. How their dream has finally come true. When they are planning to depart for Lahore. What they are looking forward to. What their plans are.

Although this is what I, too, should be feeling right now, as I sit here in my soon to be vacated room with shopping bags and boxes beside my bed filled with clothes and presents for relatives in Pakistan, all I am feeling is an overwhelming sense of sadness and… emptiness; along with an inability to appreciate the fact that all this is actually happening. I’m really leaving.


It’s sort of strange when you think about it. All through the A-Levels and the SATs, this is what I have been looking forward to: going to a prestigious university and learning Science and Engineering. I still remember looking up the requirements of universities online and going through the immensely tedious and annoying (akin to torture, really) admission processes. I was excited then… restless, motivated, driven… but not sad. Not the least bit sad or anxious.

Maybe it was because I was so occupied with what I could gain from achieving my goal that I hardly took the time to contemplate what I will be losing, at least temporarily. I think I can handle living in the on-campus accommodation (especially considering it’s probably one of the best in Pakistan). I also believe I can handle the tough workloads and competitive environment of a Science and Engineering School. I also hope that if I work hard it won’t be difficult to get into my desired major, Electrical Engineering, along with a minor in Physics. However, the biggest problem I think I will face is the fact that, well… I’ll miss my mom a lot.

This is for grad school but most of the stuff is applicable to undergrads as well. Especially the last part.

What I must realize, however, is that times have somewhat changed since the departure of 19 year old Chandrasekhar on a ship to Cambridge for his MSc. in Physics. I’m going on an airplane instead of a ship, for one. Not to mention, I can contact my family instantly via phone calls, emails, social networking etc. instead of sending ye olde letters or waiting for the telephone operator to finally put an international call through. Hence, I definitely need to stop acting like a baby.

I can’t live on my dad’s money forever and I know it. On top of that, university will provide me with something I have always craved and hungered for… knowledge. Especially knowledge about Physics and Engineering and all sorts of other scientific fields. I guess I should stop sulking like a kindergartener and act like an adult for once (which is pretty difficult for me, considering I have a maturity and IQ level less than that of an average elementary school student). When I was young, I always assumed I’d be far more mature and grown-up-ish at the age of 19. Yet, here I am, as stupid as ever.

Also, on a more positive note, this is my 96th blog post. Only four more left till I reach the goal of publishing a 100 posts on this blog. I still vividly remember the day I made my first post after transitioning from my previous blog about three years ago. Ah… the memories.

Scientific Tweeting

Twitter is like a library. There are all kinds of books but which ones you want to read is entirely your choice. Most people just issue a retarded Jane Austen novel to kill time with, but some use the library to read textbooks on Science, Mathematics and Medicine. If you fall under the latter category, then here are some amazing twitter handles for you to follow…

Neil deGrasse Tyson’s tweets are so epic, they’re even featured in his book. I found his book, Space Chronicles – Facing the Ultimate Frontier, at a bookstore and took a picture. Here take a look,


Yes! NASA’s Voyager actually has an official twitter handle. Awesome, right? If you don’t think that’s awesome then you’re bad and you should feel bad.

This one doesn’t seem to be official but it’s pretty well informed and, quite frankly, posts more interesting and cool tweets.

Epic epic epic epic EPIC epic epic epic EPIC!!!! Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the official twitter handle of NASA’s curiosity rover.

A tribute to Carl Sagan. Gives you a regular dose of profound and meaningful Carl Sagan quotes.

Incredibly informative.

And that’s it. Some of the best and most informative accounts on twitter. As a side note, there’s also this wannabe newb who has practically no followers at all and would appreciate some new ones…


An Open Letter to Chickens

Disclaimer: I am brain-damaged.

ChickenDear Chickens,

You are one of the most mysterious animals that exist on this tiny blueish speck we are obliged to call a planet. I have way too many questions and I have been wondering about them for way too long. I want answers, and I want them right now. If you fail to cooperate… well, let’s just say Chicken Biryani has always been one of my favourite dishes. I warn you, this is not an empty threat. You can go crying to PETA or wherever you want, but I will still carry out what I intend to do unless, of course, you give in to my demands. As they say, everything is fair in love and chicken curry.

My first question relates to your origins. I want you to tell me as soon as possible whether it was you that came first or whether it was the egg. Be very careful, I won’t tolerate any beating around the bush and lame word play. I want a crystal clear, single word answer. Was it you or the egg?


Secondly, pray tell me guys… why, in the name of chicken sheesh kebabs, did you cross that bloody road? What, you’re offended by that are you? Well, mail that to someone who cares. I won’t tolerate any of that nonsensical neo-liberal propaganda you all are so deviously propagating. Stuff like, “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.” You damn rooster-necks think you’re pretty cunning, huh? You think I don’t understand what you master plan is? You think I don’t know that you’re all in it together, do you?

That fake innocent-looking clucking of yours and that mock stupidity you show may be good enough to fool the average Joe but it isn’t nearly sleek enough to deceive me. You need to try a little harder if you’re planning to convince the thinking man. You know what else I know, but you don’t know I know? You can fly. Yeah, you think you’re made everyone fall for your stupid ‘too-fat-to-fly” act, but I know. I know you can fly, I’ve seen you do it! You just pretend to be unable to fly in order to appease your bosses down in Antarctica, isn’t that correct?

Yeah. I know the penguins are your bosses. I’ve known that for a long time. Remember that ginger cat you though was on your side? Well, she was a double agent! Muhahaha. She worked for me. She told me all about your secret rituals. How you all send secret messages early in the morning when you think all us lazy dumb humans are asleep.

All that seemingly meaningless “Cuck-oroo Coo. Cluck. Cuck-oroo Coo.” You think I didn’t notice the hidden pattern? You think I was too retarded to crack the secret encryption codes you use? Well, you thought wrong! I know all about your cunning little plan of enslaving humans.

chicken fowl play

Your numbers have been growing, haven’t they? There are already more than 50 billion of you compared to only about 7 billion of us. On top of that, I have been told by good authority that you have already perfected the technology of light-sabers and ion-cannons. You have also figured out a way to destroy to us biologically from the inside using your secret ‘bird-flu’ project. So my last question is… why are you holding back? Why?

You can easily conquer the human race right now if you want to, so why wait? Is it, perhaps, because you’re plotting something even more evil? Or was your goal something other (and probably more sinister) than world domination from the very start? As I said earlier, I am not going to tolerate any of your false pretenses and lame excuses anymore. I want answers and I want them right now! Otherwise, you will be responsible for the consequences.

Yours carnivorously,
Muhammad “Chicken Hunter”  Tirmazi


Putting Things in Perspective

Note: This content of this post is similar enough to a previous post of mine titled We Are Negligible for the post to be mentioned here, but not enough for this post to be considered a sequel.


The philosopher Immanuel Kant once wrote in his essay, Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch,

Without man and his potential for moral progress, the whole of reality would be a mere wilderness, a thing in vain, and have no final purpose.

Like most philosophers, Kant had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Even if he did, his analysis is incorrect to the point of being considered self-centered and childish. Looking at the vastness of the cosmos and its grand scales (which I discussed in the post I linked above) does the hypotheses that without the existence of an insignificant collection of life-forms wandering on the surface of a speck of dust orbiting a tiny nuclear fusion reactor, one of billions spiraling around a black hole forming a structure that is just one of infinitely many in a universe (which might turn out to be just one of infinitely many other universes), that without the existence of these puny little beings, the whole of reality will descend into chaos hold weight?

Well, I don’t know about philosophy, but in the scientific point of view this assumption is preposterous. One must remember that for 99.9% of the about thirteen billion years of cosmic history, humans weren’t even around. Was the cosmos at that time any worse off without our existence? Of course not. On top of that, I hate to say it but (at the incredulously naively ridiculously over-optimistically estimated very very most) in about a couple billion years we won’t be around to make these nonsensical arrogant claims anymore. Here is a video that discusses the ultimate fate of the universe (it was made with the help of Caltech Theoretical Physicist and Cosmologist Sean Carroll, so I’m guessing it’s pretty scientifically accurate) :

It seems depressing, right? Makes one feel insignificant. Putting things in the cosmic perspective may seem disconcerting, but it is a very nice means of self-improvement. For example, if Napoleon, Genghis Khan or any number of modern war-mongering generals and politicians were to stop and think for a moment in the cosmic perspective, perhaps along these lines:

I am about to send my army to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, fellow beings who share my moment in time. I am about to widow and orphan countless people. And after all this cruelty I’ll be able to claim ownership of a tiny portion of a microscopic dot which carries no particular significance in the cosmos. Is it all worth it?

Perhaps there would would be fewer wars and bloodshed and we’ll finally learn how to live in harmony respecting each other’s differences and treating each other as equals. Another good thing the cosmic perspective does is that it gets rid of your ego. It is impossible to contemplate about your existence and your place in the cosmos without developing humility. Here is a video of Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing one’s ego and its relation to the cosmic perspective:

One might ask, in all this emptiness, how does one add purpose and significance to one’s life? Well, if you measure your worth by the amount of lands you have conquered or the amount of wealth you have amassed then I don’t think being reminded of your place in the universe will give you any comfort as it will make you realize your insignificance even though you are trying hard to deceive yourself into believing you are important. On the other hand, if you measure your worth by the amount of people you have helped and influenced in your life and by the knowledge and understanding you have gained, then I think this perspective should be far more uplifting than it is depressing. In his book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, astronomer Carl Sagan wrote (yes, I quote Carl Sagan a lot, deal with it):

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Maybe if we think of things in this perspective, perhaps there still might be some hope for us, as a species to one day end famine, reverse climate change, establish world-peace and journey to the planets and the stars. Until then, and once again I quote Carl Sagan, “for small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”

Finally, here is a photo called “Earthrise” taken by an astronaut during the Apollo 8 mission. It shows the beauty and fragility of the tiny planet we call home…


The Awesomeness of Mark Twain

Mark Twain was one of the most awesome, hilarious, ingenious and original people in modern history. I’ll discuss a few of his funniest or most favourable aspects.


One of the things I like about Mark Twain is his originality. He didn’t bow to popular belief or peer pressure and change his opinions accordingly. His opinions were his alone. As an example, read his comments on Da Vinci’s the Mona Lisa…

To me it was merely a serene and subdued face, and there an end. There might be more in it, but I could not find it. The complexion was bad; in fact, it was not even human; there are no people that color.

At the start of the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he wrote:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I don’t understand the motive behind this statement, but I’m guessing this was actually a challenge to attempt all the things he warned not to do.

Premature Obituary

On June 1, 1897, the New York Herald, a widely read and popular daily American newspaper wrote an article in which it stated that Mark Twain was on the verge of death and that his thinking facilities had already been completely compromised. Ironically, Mark Twain was alive and well at the time. In fact, it was Mark Twain’s cousin J.R Clemens who was severely ill and had probably been the cause of the New York Herald‘s mistake. In an article titled “Mark Twain Amused” published the very next day in another newspaper, the Journal, Mark Twain made history by writing this ingenious comedic masterpiece:

“The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

This statement has been misquoted in many ways but, in my opinion, the original is still the funniest and most befitting.


Hatred for Jane Austen

One of the aspects of Mark Twain I like the most was his hatred for Jane Austen and the hilarious way in which he expressed it. Here are a few of his quotes that illustrate how much he detested Jane Austen and her works:

“Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.”

“Everytime I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her [Jane Austen] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

“She makes me detest all her people, without reserve. Is that her intention? It is not believable. Then is it her purpose to make the reader detest her people up to the middle of the book and like them in the rest of the chapters? That could be. That would be high art. It would be worth while, too. Some day I will examine the other end of her books and see.”

Perhaps it’s because I, too, share his prejudice towards Jane Austenish literature, but I find his statements to be humorous.

Interest in Science

Yes. Mark Twain was interested in science too. As I mentioned in a previous post, Mark Twain was a close friend of Nikola Tesla. Mark Twain also patented three inventions including the Elastic-Clasp Brassiere Strap which is used nowadays in women’s bras. In addition, Mark Twain also wrote one of the first novels related to time travel called A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

Here is a letter Mark Twain wrote to Nikola Tesla. I’m dead serious…

Letter Mark Twain Tesla


This is beside the point but to be frank, I don’t think Tesla ever invented a “destructive terror” but still, he invented lots of other great things that have shaped the modern world.

What’s the Deal with Billions and Billions?


Carl Sagan’s association with the term “billions and billions” is so popular that there’s actually a term called sagan which is synonymous to billions and billions. Sample usage: “There are sagans of stars in the Milky Way”. Ironically, although he often mentioned millions, trillion and miscellaneous -illions of things, Carl Sagan never actually used the term “billions and billions” exactly in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. It was actually popularised by the comedian Johnny Carson who parodied Sagan. Luckily, Sagan took it to be good-natured humor and titled his last book Billions and Billions.

Here’s a collection of all the ‘-illions’ mentioned in Cosmos: A Personal Voyage:

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson faced a similar situation with the hilarious “We got a badass over here” meme nowadays. The meme is probably based on an interview he gave to the Youtube Channel BigThink, where he discussed Isaac Newton and his achievements. Once again, like Carl Sagan and the term billions and billions, Tyson never actually used the phrase “We got a badass over here” in the interview. It’s kind of hilariously unfortunate, in my opinion. :D


Here’s the original interview, where Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed Isaac Newton:

And here’s a video of Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing the meme, it’s hilarious:

Random Interesting Facts

Mark Twain in Tesla’s laboratory.

Here are a few surprising and interesting facts I’ve come across.

  • Brian May, the guitarist of Queen, one of the most popular bands of all time, also has a PhD in Astrophysics from the Imperial College and was the chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University. source
  • The Elastic-Clasp Brassiere Strap used in women’s bras was invented by Mark Twain. source
  • Physicist Brian Cox was also the keyboard player for the rock band Dare. source
  • Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla were great friends and fan-boys of each other. source
  • There’s an entire society of people who believe the Earth is flat. source
  • There’s a person who claims to own the Moon. source
  • People in the United States and Canada mistook a 1938 radio adaptation of H.G Wells’ The War of the Worlds to be fact and began fleeing their homes. source
  • Richard Feynman played the bongo drums (you probably know this one, but anyway). source
  • Richard Feynman was also an artist. He exhibited his work under the pseudonym “Ofey”. source
  • Richard Feynman was also an expert on safe-cracking (dammit, is there anything Feynman hasn’t done? :D ). source
  • Niels Bohr cancelled his honeymoon to write a paper on Quantum Mechanics. source

Here’s a video of Richard Feynman playing the bongo drums (I’ve also linked it as the source of fact #8):

My personal favourite is the fact that Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla (who are, in my opinion, two of the greatest people in history) were friends. One can only imagine what their discussion would have been like.


  • The maiden name of astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s mother was Marion Moon.

A Civilization Grading System?

Somewhere in the concluding paragraphs of a previous post, I wrote:

..we may in the distant future, …conquer the solar system, nigh, the galaxy, in the same way we conquered the earth.

This gives rise to a lot of questions. What does the term “conquer” mean in this context? Does it allude to physical occupation? Vanquishing, perhaps? Or utilizing all resources? And how do we measure our progress, anyway? For now, we don’t have any other species to compare with. What should we make our long-term goal?  What are our objectives?


Answers to some of the above questions were suggested by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev. He created the Kardashev Scale, which is a way to measure a civilization’s technological advancement by looking at the amount of energy it is able to utilize. Basically it’s like a civilization grading system. Here’s a brief explanation of the Kardashev Scale, by Dr. Michio Kaku:

In other news, the Perimeter Institute published an interesting article on their website on what famous scientists (mostly physicists) did in their spare time. It’s a very good read. Check it out here.