March 29, 2006

Long playing records

Somewhere in Mangalore, as I write this and as you read this (if you read this before March 30 or so), a professor of applied botany is trying to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. And I suggest you find your way there right away to bear witness. Indeed: according to a PTI report I found in The Hitavada of March 22, Professor Annaiah Ramesh is in the middle of delivering a "marathon lecture" on "Molecular Logic of Life".

How marathon? Try 101 hours.

What I want to know is, is there a Guinness World Record entry for listening to marathon lectures on "Molecular Logic of Life"? If so, whoever sits through Prof. Ramesh's exposition deserves it. Maybe also the World Record entry for Silliest Way to Spend 101 Hours.

Naturally, this also reminds me of one Professor S Ramesh Babu. Back in 1998, I was in Bangalore on the momentous weekend when this Prof Ramesh attempted his Guinness World Record: playing solo carrom for 24 hours straight.

I am not making this up.

I watched a few minutes of his effort. Awe-inspiring stuff. Almost as good, his support staff (you need plenty of support staff when you're trying to set a world record playing carrom) handed out a leaflet titled "World Records Set by Prof S Ramesh Babu". I have it here with me, and I am thrilled that I can share some of it with you.

On February 12 1994, Babu set an "Inaugural World Record" for "Longest Uninterrupted Table Tennis Tossings, alternatively on both sides of the bat (without changing the position of the feet)". He managed 9900 of these tossings in 1 hour, 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

On April 14 1994, he set an Inaugural World Record for "Longest Uninterrupted Shuttle Tossings, Alternatively on Both Sides Of The Racket." 5011 such tossings: 1 hour, 30 minutes and 8 seconds. (No mention of feet whose position did not change).

At least three different times, he has set a "National Record for Flying a Kite With The Longest Tail": 50.485 metres long in 1990, 224 metres in 1994 and 622.8 metres in 1996.

In 1997, he turned one half of a table tennis table vertical and patted a ball against it 18737 times in 1 hour, 33 minutes and 53 seconds. The leaflet observes that "position of the feet [was] unchanged till completing 17568 strokes." (Yeah, but what about the subsequent 1169 strokes? Were those feet dancing about or what?) Those feet, or that feat, or both, gave him an Inaugural World Record for the "Longest Uninterrupted Solo Table Tennis Rally."

Now I want you to know that I believe Prof. S Ramesh Babu would have been a much-accomplished man even had April 5 1998 not dawned. But you need to know what happened that day, because I believe it was his finest moment. (Unless he has since topped it).

That day, he set an Inaugural World Record in "Vegetable Cutting." He picked up a "Single Cucumber Weighing 1070 g and 28 cm in length." 2 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds later, he had sliced it into 120,060 pieces.

He awarded himself a certificate for this achievement, and this is what that certificate says, and I swear I am not making this up:
    [The cucumber] was first cut to almost circular 80 slices and each slice was in turn taken up for giving it counted number of nearly equi-spaced and parallel vertical cuts followed by similar horizontal cuts. The corresponding number of pieces generated were noted in the log book by referring to a previously authenticated document comprising of a table of numbers generated based on independent mathematical modelling procedures and computer softwares specifically developed for the present record's purpose. The corresponding times were also recorded by using digital display stop watches. The average size of the cut pieces were calculated to be 1.46 x 1.90 x 3.50 mm.
Wondrous, don't you think?

Now I want to meet the whiz who "specifically developed" those "mathematical modelling procedures and computer softwares" for this purpose.

"Hey dude, you wanna develop mathematical modelling procedures and software to count pieces of cucumber?"

"Sure! Then I can lecture about it for 101 hours!"

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