Its been over a year on work towards what I hope will lead to my PhD now. Through the humdrum of life in the department on the third floor I am often faced with the grimacing faces of my engineer room mates who invariably put up the annoying question in some form or the other - So, How was your day?

And rather than break out into explitives that would aptly answer their question I figure Id rather tell them the nuts and bolts of what happened in lab. And the nuts and bolts reduce to one word - screws. All of experimental physics is dealing with screws. And thats not as trivial as it sounds.

Screws are manifestations that delve into space combining translation with rotation. Some screws need to move up, others down, some to the right, others to the left. And each motion is intricatly linked with a clockwise or anticlockwise rotation. All this has to be done while the screw-person is tilted at various inclinations...from upright to leaning to upside down. And then the screw heads play tricks of their own - positioning themselves in devilishly tricky geometries that almost confound one of the topology of the space being dealt with. And then there are screws that cannot be seen but only felt and others yet that one imagines to be there but are not. Some screws are to be turned and some twisted, some hammered at and some oiled. But truly intractable are the ones that battle the will of the screw-person - at times they can only be hollered at and punished by abandonment (or so we think...Im sure they are quite snug - way too snug - than we can ever hope to be ).

And then there is the question of how much one needs to have them turned. They come in all shapes and sizes ang guises (the most common one being the ubiquitous 'Knob'). Some of them control parameters shifting tons, others adjust wavelenghts and others still control states of mind ( 'Im so screwed' ). Some need a wrench to be turned, and for others just breathing might be too much. And then there are the those carefree ones that loosen at will, or those that just plain snap if things get too tight.

Truly complex are the ensembles that have them intermingling with each other - turning one turns the other, moving one moves the other. Here is where one is challenged to the limits, and one is left with that feeling of fascination, intimidation and sheer disgust simultaneously.

So as every day passes I find my abilities at the twists and turns and ups and downs of life get better. Where theres a screw, theres always a nut.

Kapilanjan Krishan, Oct 26 2001