28 Nov 2013

Mars Orbiter Mission: Those five minutes are crucial

Mars orbiter spacecraft must be set off between 2.38 p.m. and 2.43 p.m. today

The Mars orbiter spacecraft has just five minutes for getting launched on Tuesday — or it slips into the next day.
It must be set off between 2.38 p.m. and 2.43 p.m.
And the mission has an overall deadline, until November 19, this year. The next best time is not for another 26 months.
“We are on the threshold of a complex mission. If there is a hold during automatic launch sequence there then we will not have it on that day. We can have a maximum of only five minutes. Each day, the launch time advances by 6-9 minutes. We hope that it will make it [on Tuesday],” K. Radhakrishnan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told The Hindu recently.
ISRO scientists, having missed the earlier date of October because a tracking ship reached its watch post near Fiji late, have their calendar laid out for each of the remaining days.
“There is just one opportunity in a day. For each lift-off time, we need to have a new steering programme ready, a new trajectory design, and all this has been done,” he said.
“In earlier missions we worried about only one trajectory and made only a minor change in the steering programme. This total trajectory design is for each lift-off time, which is one big challenge for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).”
The flight on the four-stage PSLV-C25 lasts 43 minutes, more than double the time taken for its routine launches which need about 20 minutes, with a long coasting for the last stage.
Mr. Radhakrishnan said now they were concentrating on the launch on Tuesday and then on December 1, when the spacecraft should be put in the trajectory to Mars. Post-lunch, it will be a series of post-midnight exercises for scientists tracking the spacecraft from ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC). On Thursday morning, ISTRAC in Bangalore will start increasing its elliptical orbit in phases by firing its motors six times.
Dr. Radhakrishnan said the first orbit raising exercise was crucial and would happen on Thursday at 1.15 a.m.
The remaining orbit expansions would all be done around 2 a.m. on November 8, 9, 11 and 16, until the spacecraft’s apogee (farthest point from Earth in its elliptical orbit) reaches 1.92 lakh km.
The sixth and last Earth-bound manoeuvre is slated for December 1 at 12.42 a.m.
The trickiest time will be in September 2014, when the spacecraft will be near Mars. The scientists have to slow down the spacecraft and bring it into an elliptical orbit going around Mars. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Mangalyaan: a steal at Re.4 per person

Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four. File Photo
The Hindu Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four. File Photo
Nine days ago India’s space mission termed Mangalyaan, the voyage towards the planet Mars, was launched. It was what one calls a “textbook” launch with zero error, and one that has made India say “Yes, we can”. And in 300 days, it will have covered 680 million kilometres to orbit the Red Planet on September 24, 2014. Once that happens, it will start analysing the surface of the planet for any methane, a gas which is believed to hint at the presence of any Martian biology or life forms.
It is a proud moment in the history of India, a nation that started its space programme just about 50 years ago, or to put it in another way, with the “Chutzpah” of a teenage nation. With the Mangalyaan experiment, some say that India has “arrived” as a member of technically advanced nations.
Yet some voices have been raised in the country about whether this is worth it, whether it is a meaningless bombast, and whether this money of Rs 460 crores spent on Mangalyan could not have been used to feed the starving millions across the country. India is a land of stark contrasts. Half the people here live on less than two dollars a day, of which many are estimated to live on even less than Rupees 30 a day.
To this, the criticism, the Space Commission Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan responded saying that every rupee spent here benefits people all across India. To put it in perspective, he said that Mangalyan cost each of us 115 crore Indians about Rupees Four.
What has the “aam admi” got out of these four rupees; or even forty or four hundred, counting over the year? Plenty! Recall how Indian satellites hovering around us give us real time information on weather, information to fishermen and coastal farmers on the tides and fish flock, on the state of ships and other vessels near and far from the coast, carry radio and TV waves, and most of all help in saving lives of millions.
Thanks to help from our space programme, the loss of lives in the recent cyclone Phanini was limited to 44 and almost a million people were saved by prior evacuation. Earlier cyclones, when we did not have this facility of early warning killed tens of thousands. Yes, but why to Mars? Herein is where the idea of development becomes important. India is still thought of as a “developing nation”, once ridiculed as a “ship to mouth” economy.
How does development occur? When and how does a country become “developed”?
Development has multiple components: proper food, clothing and shelter for the people; adequate education and culture; good health; good environment; equal opportunity for all; ability to defend from enemies; economic stability and growth; and above all, good governance, all leading to a feeling of justifiable national pride. If you look at any one of these above components, technology plays a vital role in it. Technology comes out of logical, scientific and rational thought and its application. The greatest thing about technology is that it is scalable to millions, it becomes cheap and affordable once it is spread, demanded and used; it can thus offer convenience and progress for the entire nation. Thanks to technology, we have now moved from “ship to mouth” to a “silo to ship” economy, and we rid ourselves of smallpox and polio, and are vaccinating all children against some common childhood diseases. It is here that Mangalyan is relevant. The 460 crores expenditure has several useful effects. We are using the latest technology, indeed creating new ones, and at a frugal cost. Mars missions by European or American countries would be at least thrice costlier. And the design, building, testing and setting up have all been done by Indian engineers. Only some vital components are imported. It has thus led us to be self-sufficient and advanced our capabilities. The technological prowess to aim for Mars means that we can apply it, and even better it for terrestrial needs at home. It also brings us business (recall that we pack the payloads of other countries in our satellites). It has captured the imagination of youngsters (over 2 lakh “likes” on Facebook by 18-21 year-olds). Mangalyan thus is a tool to attract youth and advance science.
It is therefore not an expense but an investment for the future. Today it is Mars, tomorrow even greater challenges. Should India not be ready? Mars is thus a metaphor.
Should these 460 crores not have been spent on feeding the poor? Look at the larger picture. The budget of India for the year 2013-14 is Rs 16,65,297 crores; this amounts to an individual amount of about Rs 14,500 per person. We have budgeted Rs 27,049 crores for agriculture (Rs 235 per Indian), plus Rs 33,000 crores on the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or MGNREGA, to help the rural poor, which is another Rs 280 per person.
Money is thus earmarked and distributed to help the rural poor (Mangalyan has not taken away even a rupee out of these allocations). Despite these efforts, there are large holes in the programme, thanks to inefficient governance.
If we can tighten this up, complaint about feeding the poor will be far less or can even vanish. Here too, technology helps through efficiency, cutting out the middlemen and so forth. Compared to these, Rs 460 crores on Mangalyan, or Rs 4 per Indian (about an onion or two) is not just a grand bargain but a steal!

Courtesy with: THE HINDU 

Mars mission’s D-day in three days

Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and engineers monitor the movements of the Mars orbiter at Spacecraft Control Centre in Bangalore on Wednesday.
AP Indian Space Research Organisation scientists and engineers monitor the movements of the Mars orbiter at Spacecraft Control Centre in Bangalore on Wednesday.

ISRO readies to thrust spacecraft out of Earth orbit on December 1

The first Indian Mars mission began its last orbit around the Earth on Wednesday morning, even as its controllers prepared for the big night three days away.
On the night of November 30-December 1, the spacecraft will be finally thrust away from the Earth, and all the way towards the Red Planet, after gathering a total escape speed of around 11.4 kms a second.
Indian Space Research Organisation’s Scientific Secretary V. Koteswara Rao told a pre-event briefing at the control centre at the Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) on Wednesday, “We are planning for the Mars spacecraft to depart the Earth in the early hours of December 1.”

‘Second big challenge’

Dozens of controllers at the Mission Operations Complex at ISTRAC were getting set for what the space agency’s chairman, K. Radhakrishnan, earlier termed ‘the second big challenge in the Mars mission’: the day when they must precisely increase the spacecraft’s velocity and slingshot it exactly towards Mars.
Saturday’s trans-Mars insertion (TMI) is set for 12.49 am. The spacecraft has been orbiting the Earth once in almost four days or 91.3 hours, since November 16.
About the TMI, Mr. Rao said, “On that day we must burn the liquid engine for roughly 23 minutes, which will impart to it an incremental velocity of 648 metres per second. Then begins a journey of 680 million km over 300 days.”
Once it nears Mars, we will have another major operation in September 2014 to make it orbit the planet, he said.
In six orbit-raising operations from November 7 to November 16, the spacecraft has gradually been given its present velocity of 873 metres a second and it reached an apogee (farthest point) of 1.92 lakh km.
Once it moves beyond 2 lakh km, ISTRAC’s Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu would come into the picture with its two large antennas which can track huge interplanetary missions.
The spacecraft carrying five instruments to study Mars was launched on November 5 from Sriharikota. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU 

24 Nov 2013

Sky-gazers’ date with ISON comet

Amateur astronomer K. Radha Krishna watching comets along with a few enthusiasts in Vijayawada. —Photo: Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar
Amateur astronomer K. Radha Krishna watching comets along with a few enthusiasts in Vijayawada. —Photo: Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar 
                Here is a chance for you all to see a bright comet on the eastern horizon of the city one hour before sunrise. It is International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), the name given to the comet that is very active for the several days and people all over the world had been tracking it with their telescopes. An amateur astronomer, K. Radha Krishna, who developed the hobby in 1980, watches several interesting things in the sky with the help of a telescope from his terrace near Hanuman Temple on Eluru Road in Vijayawada.
              The latest to watch have been the ‘Beautiful’ comets ISON along with Lovejoy. “While Lovejoy can be seen with a telescope or good binoculars from midnight overhead in Vijayawada, it is visible in the eastern sky from around 4.30 a.m.,” Mr. Radha Krishna told The Hindu .
On November 28 the Sun-grazing Comet ISON will fly by the Sun at a distance of only 1.8 million km. On November 7, ISON’s light intensity increased abruptly; several observers announced a sudden rise in the comet’s activity, he explained. “The comet may not be able to return after flying past Sun or if it returns, it will be again visible to naked eye for some more days from December 1,” he says. Images of ISON taken by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany and the Wendelstein Observatory now offer possible evidence for the cause of this outburst. On November 14 and 16, the researchers aimed their telescope towards the approaching visitor.
This comet once going out of the Solar System, will not return at all. Comet Lovejoy can be seen in Great Bear Constellation and has been formally designated C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), and it is a long-period comet and Kreutz Sungrazer (going menacingly close to Sun).

Courtesy with:  THE HINDU 

22 Nov 2013

Sky gazers’ date with ISON comet

Amateur astronomer K. Radha Krishna watching comets along with a few enthusiasts in Vijayawada. —Photo: Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar 
Amateur astronomer K. Radha Krishna watching comets along with a few enthusiasts in Vijayawada. —Photo: Ch.Vijaya Bhaskar 
              Here is a chance for you all to see a bright comet on the eastern horizon of the city one hour before sunrise. It is International Scientific Optical Network (ISON), the name given to the comet that is very active for the several days and people all over the world had been tracking it with their telescopes. An amateur astronomer, K. Radha Krishna, who developed the hobby in 1980, watches several interesting things in the sky with the help of a telescope from his terrace near Hanuman Temple on Eluru Road in Vijayawada.
The latest to watch have been the ‘Beautiful’ comets ISON along with Lovejoy. “While Lovejoy can be seen with a telescope or good binoculars from midnight overhead in Vijayawada, it is visible in the eastern sky from around 4.30 a.m.,” Mr. Radha Krishna told The Hindu .

            On November 28 the Sun-grazing Comet ISON will fly by the Sun at a distance of only 1.8 million km. On November 7, ISON’s light intensity increased abruptly; several observers announced a sudden rise in the comet’s activity, he explained. “The comet may not be able to return after flying past Sun or if it returns, it will be again visible to naked eye for some more days from December 1,” he says. Images of ISON taken by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany and the Wendelstein Observatory now offer possible evidence for the cause of this outburst. On November 14 and 16, the researchers aimed their telescope towards the approaching visitor.
This comet once going out of the Solar System, will not return at all.
Comet Lovejoy can be seen in Great Bear Constellation and has been formally designated C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy), and it is a long-period comet and Kreutz Sungrazer (going menacingly close to Sun).

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

23 Oct 2013

Dazzling comet ISON may be dying, says study

Comet ISON photographed by the Hubble telescope.File photo: NASA/Reuters
Comet ISON photographed by the Hubble telescope.File photo: NASA/Reuters
Comet ISON – predicted to be one of the brightest comets of the century – may actually be disintegrating, according to a new study.
Astronomer Ignacio Ferrin, from the Universidad de Antioquia, analysed the most recent observational data of Comet ISON and has identified clear signatures of what he has called an “impending demise” of the comet.
The so-called light-curve of the comet shows features previously observed in disintegrating comets.
Despite the generalised scepticism and claims about the fact that the rumours of comet ISON “fizzling” were greatly exaggerated, the comet is still showing an unexpected behaviour that cometary specialists are fighting to explain.
“The light curve of the comet exhibited a slowdown event characterised by a constant brightness with no indication of a brightness increase tendency,” he said.
This slowdown began around January 13, 2013, and it continued up to the latest available observations at the end of September, this year, Ferrin said.
The brightness has remained practically constant for more than 270 days or 9 months, a behaviour without any precedent in cometary astronomy.
These evidences have led Ferrin to conclude that it is probably that the “comet is dying“.
In a recent letter posted to Cornell University arXiv preprints repository, Ferrin presented and discussed what he identified as a peculiar photometric signature previously observed in disintegrating comets.
“When I saw this signature I immediately went to my database of comet light curves, and found that two comets had also presented this signature: Comet C/1996 Q1 Tabur and comet C/2002 O4 Honig; to my surprise these two comets had vanished turning off or disintegrating,” he said.PTI

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Is the ‘Christmas Comet’ cracking up?

photo: Reuters
photo: Reuters
An incoming comet that skygazers had hoped would provide one of the greatest celestial shows of the century, could be a fizzle.
So say astronomers tracking the eagerly-awaited Comet ISON as it races to a searing encounter with the Sun.


Formally known as C/2012 S1 (ISON), the comet was spotted by a pair of hard-working amateur Russian astronomers on September 21, 2012.
It is called ISON because they used a telescope called the International Scientific Optical Network near Kislovodsk, in the northern Caucasus.


After the discovery was validated by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), interest in the enigmatic wanderer became huge.
Calculations showed that after looping around the Sun, the comet would become a blaze of glory towards the end of the year — a timing that gave it the tabloid title of “Christmas Comet” or even “Comet of the Century.”


Fears are multiplying that the great show will be cancelled.
Light signatures from ISON, which has just streaked past Mars, indicate the comet is about to break up, says astrophysicist Ignacio Ferrin. “This disintegration will take place before it reaches perihelion,” Ferrin said. Perihelion is an orbit’s closest point to the Sun, which ISON is supposed to reach on November 28.
He explained that comets typically brighten as they get closer to the Sun, crossing a temperature threshold that causes their icy surfaces to evaporate, depositing water vapour, other gases and dust in their wake.
But, said Ferrin, the light curve from ISON slowed down and then remained practically constant, with no sign of greater brightness, as it raced forward.
This is a signature that matches four previous comets that have broken up catastrophically, he said.AFP

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Popularising astronomy with passing of comet Ison

Delegates familiarising themselves with the comet Ison in a workshop held at Lycee Françoise in Puducherry on Saturday.
Delegates familiarising themselves with the comet Ison in a workshop held at Lycee Françoise in Puducherry on Saturday.
The Pondicherry Science Forum has taken up a three month project to improve community’s knowledge on astronomy through the comet Ison, which is scheduled to move closest to the sun at the end of November.
During a two-day workshop, ‘Eyes on Ison’ the delegates, most of whom were school teachers, had been exposed to presentations, demonstrations, talks and even real time tracking of the comet Ison.
Through the comet, they also educated the delegates on the solar system and various aspects of astronomy, State coordinator of the PSF Hemavathy told The Hindu .
The main activities were scheduled for late night on Friday and early morning on Saturday. The participants then learnt about the night sky, and also managed to locate the comet, which is currently near Mars.
They were also given briefings on the daytime sky. Now, the project would spread to the various communes, where the delegates of the workshop were divided into teams, and each team will submit a proposal on what they can do in their commune to raise awareness and involve the community for the passing of Ison.
They would also visit various schools armed with resource material on the comet and astronomy in general to teach the students.
“The coming of Ison is extremely important since this is the first time it will be crossing the solar system. Since it was discovered when it was at the edge of the solar system, there has been a lot of time to study the comet, so a lot of valuable information has been gleaned. It is important that the people of Puducherry, especially school students, understand the importance of the comet and are able to appreciate it in its true splendour by the time it achieves perihelion (near the sun),” she said.

Courtesy with: THE HINDU 

24 Jun 2013

Indian birds under threat from climate change: Study

KOLKATA: Climate change is threatening the survival of a number of Asian bird species, including those in India, a new study warns.

The research conducted by Durham University and BirdLife International says that many avian species from the region are likely to suffer from climate change.

The species will require not just enhanced protection of important and protected sites, but also better management of the wider countryside, the study says.

"In some extreme cases, birds may be required to be physically moved to climatically suitable areas for survival," says the report recently published in the journal " Global Change Biology".

This study was conducted for 370 Asian bird species, whose conservation is a cause for concern, across the biodiversity hotspots of eastern Himalayas and lower Mekong River basin regions in Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and parts of India and Nepal.

The findings demonstrate that the survival of species will be dependent upon how conservation sites are managed and whether movement is possible from one site to another.

Projections show that at least 45 per cent and up to 88 per cent of the 370 species studied will experience decline of suitable habitats, leading to changing species composition in specific areas.

Co-lead author, Dr Robert Bagchi, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University said, "Even under the least extreme scenarios of climate change, most species we examined will have to shift their ranges in order to find suitable areas in the future".

India has a total of 466 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified till now hosting a wide variety of avian species with many of them in the endangered category.

Co-author Dr Stuart Butchart, head of science at BirdLife International, said, "Overall, while these important sites will continue to sustain bird species of conservation concern, climate change will modify which species each site will be suitable for. We need to adapt our conservation management. Protecting natural habitats benefits people too."

Bombay Natural History Society director Dr Asad Rahmani said, "The study further proves that we need landscape-based conservation, particularly in high biodiversity areas such as the north-eastern region of India. Climate change will impact the distribution and range of many bird species due to the changes in their habitat".

Stressing on the need for a holistic landscape-based conservation, he said that some forest dependent species, which at present may occur in protected areas, may find those areas unsuitable in the coming years due to climate change.
    Courtesy with: THE TIMES OF INDIA

Eat right

Internet: Dr. Mehmet Oz on the five numbers one needs to remember if one intends to stay healthy

         America’s health-cum-beauty sensation is Dr. Mehmet Oz. His talk is relevant to all of us since we end up eating the food America bans anyway. As health obsessions and care percolate to us slower than the invasion of junk food, Dr. Oz tells you how to watch out. 

       One talk tells you how to check your weight. “What matters is your waist size. The ideal waist size measured on your belly button is about half your height.” He gives a chart to show that if your height is 5.2” the waist should measure 31”. If it is 5.5”, the waist should be 32.5, for 5.8” it should be 34 and for 5.11 it should be 35.5” and for 6.2 it should be 37”, says Dr. Oz. 

       He shows an animated video where he talks of food going in through the stomach into the smaller intestines. “Here it is washed in bile and the broken down food. The nutrition is then transmitted to the liver. No matter what you eat, the liver metabolises it,” says Dr. Oz. 

       The abdominal organs are surrounded by a layer of peritoneum called omenta. The omenta is naturally thin and of almost see-through quality. When we eat unhealthy food, the omenta becomes thicker and larger. That is what protrudes as a tummy. Showing samples of thin textured omenta and the bulbous variety, Dr. Oz says, “It is this thick omenta that causes coronary disease, diabetes and hypertension. This omenta poisons your liver, causes high cholesterol, squeezes the kidneys, and so they jack up your blood pressure ( kidneys control blood pressure), and poisons the intestine’s ability to work. This causes diabetes.” 

        Dr. Oz says you should know five numbers. “The five numbers are: you have got to know your weight, waist size, blood pressure, cholesterol and your fasting blood sugar. All these numbers are related to your weight. Even a small loss can make a big difference to these numbers. Just losing 10 pounds for a 200-pound person can reduce the risk of heart disease or diabetes by more than half.”
The doctor answers the most asked question: How do you lose weight? 

        “A few actions: High-fibre breakfast gets stored the right way, it will keep you going all day long, keeps you satiated. You wouldn’t be foraging for food at 10 in the morning like a rodent. Number two, you can have snacks but keep them less than the size of the fist and always wash down the snack with a glass of water. It will get you out of the desire to have more snacks for a couple of hours and you will be comfortable. Don’t eat food within three hours of bedtime, for that way you go to sleep without the extra calories and you wake up in the morning feeling better as well. And you’ve got to move 30 minutes a day. If you do these things and track your weight weekly and your waist monthly it will push you back just that little bit to be healthy,” says Dr. Oz. 

          Dr. Oz says in another interview that by the time you are 50, 70 per cent of how you age is dependent on your lifestyle. “People do not eat by what they know, they eat by what they feel. We have to get people emotionally engaged in this, health. It has to be cool to be healthy. If I were to be king for a day, I would ban all food items with added sugars,” he says. 

         “Fruits with natural sugars are fine.” Dr. Oz says it requires 12 exposures to a taste for a child to start accepting it, so keep at it and build a healthy lifestyle for your child.
Ending on a comforting note, Dr, Oz says we all make mistakes, “…but you should be able to make a U-turn when required.”

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

22 May 2013

LED lights can damage your eyes

Exposure to LED lights can cause irreparable harm to the retina of the human eye, according to a study.
           Light-emitting diode (LED) lights may cause permanent damage to your eyes, a new research has claimed.
The study found that exposure to LED lights can cause irreparable harm to the retina of the human eye.
Once the retina cells are destroyed by prolonged and continuous exposure to LED rays, they cannot be replaced and will not regrow, ThinkSpain.com reported.
Researchers said this is caused by the high levels of radiation in the ‘blue band’, and is likely to become a global epidemic in the medium term given that computer, mobiles and TV screens, and even traffic and street lights, have been gradually replaced with LED.
Experts are calling for the lights to have built-in filters to cut out the blue glare.
Dr. Celia Sanchez Ramos, investigator at Madrid’s Complutense University, said the retina never regenerates itself once it has become damaged.
Dr. Ramos said LED lights are made up of rainbow longitude waves, and it is the blue part, which causes the problem.
“LED is fantastic if there is adequate protection,” she said.
Humans have their eyes open for around 6,000 hours a year, and most of this time they are exposed to artificial light — for which reason Dr. Ramos says the best way to prevent damage is to “close your eyes often to soften the impact”.
She also said using good sunglasses with UV filter rays, and a healthy and varied diet rich in Vitamin A, which comes from spinach and peppers — will protect the eyes. 

With Courtesy: THE HINDU 

14 Apr 2013

World’s largest telescope gets Hawaii nod

In this artist rendition provided by TMT, the Thirty Metre Telescope is seen.
AP In this artist rendition provided by TMT, the Thirty Metre Telescope is seen.
       A plan by California and Canadian universities to build the world’s largest telescope at the summit of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano received approval from the State.
The decision by the Board of Land and Natural Resources on Friday clears the way for the group managing the Thirty Meter Telescope project to negotiate a sublease for land with the University of Hawaii.
The telescope would be able to observe planets that orbit stars other than the sun and enable astronomers to watch new planets and stars being formed. It should also help scientists see some 13 billion light years away for a glimpse into the early years of the universe.
The telescope’s segmented primary mirror, which is nearly 30-metre-long (100 feet), will give it nine times the collecting area of the largest optical telescopes in use today. Its images will also be three times sharper.
But the telescope may not hold the world’s largest title for long. A group of European countries plans to build the European Extremely Large Telescope, which will have a 42-metre-long (138 feet) mirror.
Some Native Hawaiian groups had petitioned against the project, arguing it would defile the mountain’s sacred summit.
Native Hawaiian tradition holds that high altitudes are sacred and are a gateway to heaven. In the past, only high chiefs and priests were allowed at Mauna Kea’s summit. The mountain is home to one confirmed burial site and perhaps four more.
Environmentalists also petitioned to stop the telescope on the grounds it would harm habitat for the rare wekiu bug.
The board approved the project anyway, but imposed two dozen conditions including a requirement that employees be trained in culture and natural resources.
The University of California system, the California Institute of Technology and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy are spearheading the telescope. China, India and Japan have signed on to be partners.
The University of Hawaii is involved because it leases the summit land from the State of Hawaii. 

Courtesy With: THE HINDU

21 Mar 2013

Cheaper way to detect ammonia

Vasudevan Mukunth
          A simpler, more portable method to detect ammonia continuously has now been developed
Scientists at the Smart Materials Section at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) have developed a simple technique to detect the presence of ammonia using optical sensors. The results of their work were published on March 12 in the Applied Physics Letters.
Ammonia is an important component of explosives, fertilisers, and industrial coolants. Thus, detectors of ammonia form the basis of devices used to check for pollution in the vicinity of urban settlements, such as in rivers, lakes, buildings, etc.
Existing detectors include infrared gas analysers, ion-selective electrodes, detectors based on semiconductor films, or sensors that depend on ammonia’s reaction with an acidity-sensitive dye.
However, these are difficult to fabricate and use, and are prohibitively expensive.
The IGCAR team, led by Dr. John Philip, has devised a simpler, more portable method to detect ammonia: using ferrimagnetic nanofluids as sensors that reflect bluer light when exposed to more of the colourless gas.
Change of colour
“The sensor produces visually perceptible colour changes, in the presence of ammonia, due to the changes in the lattice periodicity of 1-dimensional array of droplets,” the paper notes.
The sensor comprises an oil-in-water emulsion containing a suspension of ferrimagnetic iron oxide particles each measuring 10 nanometres wide. A thin coating of a surfactant, such as sodium dodecyl sulphate, is added around the particles to keep them from agglomerating.
The surfactant is anionic: it has a net negative charge.
When a magnetic field of 90 gauss is applied to the solution, the ferrimagnetic nanoparticles line up like a chain along the magnetic field lines, no longer moving randomly. The setup is then illuminated by a fibre-optic light source.
When there is ammonia in the surrounding environment, it disperses into the emulsion and becomes an ammonium cation, an ion with a net positive charge. Because the surfactant is anionic, the ammonium cation penetrates into its layer around the droplets.
Consequently, the droplets are pulled closer. In this condition, the wavelength of light reflected from the solution is shifted toward the blue end of the visible spectrum. This phenomenon is called a Bragg shift, and can be picked up by a digital camera.
As more ammonia disperses into the solution, the blue-shift gets stronger because the droplets are brought closer under the magnetic field’s guidance.
These sensors can detect concentrations ranging from 0 to 525 parts per million. As the emulsion can be produced using commonly available chemicals, and the setup allows for rapid detection, the sensors are a reliable way to continuously monitor ammonia levels.
Dr. Philip added, “If we go for a simple naked-eye detection using visual colour change of the nano-emulsion, the device could cost a few thousand rupees, but if we go for a Bragg peak measurement, it could be slightly more expensive, but definitely much cheaper than commercially available ones.”
At present, the sensor apparatus can operate only in room temperature and detect ions in aqueous solutions. The team’s work, hence, will focus on taking a gel- or film-based approach to overcome these problems. 

Courtesy With: THE HINDU

11 Mar 2013

Higgs boson closer than ever

          The latest results show a Higgs-like boson that “walks and quacks,” true to theory
Ever since CERN announced that it had spotted a Higgs boson-like particle on July 4, 2012, their flagship Large Hadron Collider (LHC), apart from similar colliders around the world, has continued running experiments to gather more data on the elusive particle.
The latest analysis of the results from these runs was presented at a conference now underway in Italy.
While it is still too soon to tell if the one spotted in July 2012 was the Higgs boson as predicted in 1964, the data is convergent toward the conclusion that the long-sought particle does exist and with the expected properties. More results will be presented over the upcoming weeks.
In time, particle physicists hope that it will once and for all close an important chapter in physics called the Standard Model (SM).
The announcements were made by more than 15 scientists from CERN on March 6 via a live webcast from the Rencontres de Moriond, an annual particle physics forum that has been held in La Thuile, Italy, since 1966.
“Since the properties of the new particle appear to be very close to the ones predicted for the SM Higgs, I have personally no further doubts,” Dr. Guido Tonelli, former
spokesperson of the CMS detector at CERN, told The Hindu.
Interesting results from searches for other particles, as well as the speculated nature of fundamental physics beyond the SM, were also presented at the forum, which runs from March 2-16.
A precise hunt
A key goal of the latest results has been to predict the strength with which the Higgs couples to other elementary particles, in the process giving them mass.
This is done by analysing the data to infer the rates at which the Higgs-like particle decays into known lighter particles: W and Z bosons, photons, bottom quarks, tau leptons, electrons, and muons. These particles’ signatures are then picked up by detectors to infer that a Higgs-like boson decayed into them.
The SM predicts these rates with good precision.
Thus, any deviation from the expected values could be the first evidence of new, unknown particles. By extension, it would also be the first sighting of ‘new physics’.
Good and bad news
After analysis, the results were found to be consistent with a Higgs boson of mass near 125-126 GeV, measured at both 7- and 8-TeV collision energies through 2011 and 2012.
The CMS detector observed that there was fairly strong agreement between how often the particle decayed into W bosons and how often it ought to happen according to theory. The ratio between the two was pinned at 0.76 +/- 0.21.
Dr. Tonelli said, “For the moment, we have been able to see that the signal is getting stronger and even the difficult-to-measure decays into bottom quarks and tau-leptons are beginning to appear at about the expected frequency.”
The ATLAS detector, parallely, was able to observe with 99.73 per cent confidence-level that the analysed particle had zero-spin, which is another property that brings it closer to the predicted SM Higgs boson.
At the same time, the detector also observed that the particle’s decay to two photons was 2.3 standard-deviations higher than the SM prediction.
Dr. Pauline Gagnon, a scientist with the ATLAS collaboration, told this Correspondent via email, “We need to asses all its properties in great detail and extreme rigour,” adding that for some aspects they would need more data.
Even so, the developments rule out signs of any new physics around the corner until 2015, when the LHC will reopen after a two-year shutdown and multiple upgrades to smash protons at doubled energy.
As for the search for Supersymmetry, a favoured theoretical concept among physicists to accommodate phenomena that haven’t yet found definition in the Standard Model: Dr. Pierluigi Campana, LHCb detector 

 Courtesy with THE HINDU

spokesperson, told The Hindu that there have been only “negative searches so far”.

21 Feb 2013

Best exercises for a flat stomach
Best exercises for a flat stomach (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)
A bulging stomach is a problem area for most mortals. Even those who are naturally thin tend to develop a paunch as they step into their 30s.

Our stomachs store fat for a number of reasons; these reasons range from the genetic to plain abuse of food and drink, with little to no exercise. Often, those who invest heavily in exercise and diet to banish the bulging stomach, do so with a vague and incorrect idea of what is needed for a flat stomach. Today, we give you a few exercises that will strengthen and create lean abdominal muscles, help you eliminate a flabby belly and give you a flat stomach that helps you fight disease and ill-health.

The key to a flat stomach is combination

To kick that tummy fat, simply belting away crunches or pushups is not enough. A solo act can't lead to a flat tummy or fat loss. Fitness expert, Sophia Yasmin says, "In my opinion spot reduction is not possible, there is no way to target a particular part of the body for fat loss."

Your goal should be to build muscle, and focus on fat loss. Whether you are able to drop weight before attempting muscle toning, or tone muscle and then cut fat, depends entirely on how overweight you are, and how many inches you need to lose.

Follow patterned full body exercises like skipping and running to burn energy at an elevated heartrate. The kind of food you eat also helps to cut down that visible and visceral fat. A balanced healthy diet is essential for stomach fat loss.

Drink plenty of water and stay off from stress and anxiety and limit your salt intake. Besides get enough sleep to kick your belly fat.

Mentioned ahead are exercises that will help get a flat stomach.

Note: These exercises will only help you get rid of stomach fat if you practise them in combination with a healthy lifestyle and balanced diet.

Funky standing abs

This is one of the best and easiest exercises to begin with. Stand with your feet below your shoulders, and then tighten your abs slowly bending your knees.

Tilt your pelvis forward, so that your back is curved. Come back to the centre and tilt pelvis backward. Perform this exercise 15 times on either side, or as your workout permits.

Chair leg lifts

Perform this exercise using any kind of chair.

All you have to do is, sit straight with your back flat against the chair, place your hands on the seat of your chair, then slowly lift your knees towards your chest and slowly restore them back.

Carry out slow breathing while doing this. Perform this 2 set exercise at least 10-15 times.


This is a good exercise for upper, lower and oblique abdominal muscles. Begin by lying flat on the ground, with your feet placed firmly on the ground, clasp your hands behind your head.

Raise your upper body by squeezing your abdominal muscles and when you are halfway through, hold on for 3 seconds.

Then bring back your body back to floor, slowly. Do at least 30 crunches per set.

Perpendicular exercise

Lie flat on your back, with your hands behind your back. Breathe out, as you lift your legs over your hips so they are perpendicular to the floor; slightly extend the distance between your legs.

Breathe in as you lower down your legs. Start up with 4 to 5 sets, and then increase it to 10.

Dumbbell bends

This exercise is useful for your oblique muscles. Start with grabbing a dumbbell, holding it in your right hand; see to it that your palm is facing your body.

Your feet should be at a shoulder-width distance. Slowly place your left hand on your hip and bend your upper body towards the right, while keeping your head and body facing forward.

Bring back your body to normal position and then repeat the same movement on the left side. Practice 20 repetitions.

Bicycle exercise

Bicycle is the best exercise for toning your stomach. It helps by keeping your stomach stable, along with movements, which burns fat.

Perform this exercise by lying on the floor, place your hands behind your head and bring your knees off the floor.

Bring your right elbow towards your left knee while performing cycling motion, and then switch your elbow position.

Side exercise

This exercise targets your oblique, core muscles and shoulders. Stand straight, with your feet at approximately the width of your hips. Slowly bend your knees and hold dumbbells in each hand.

Lift your hands up, so that the dumbbells are above your head and relax. Then lean your arms, head and torso to the right till 2 counts, then come back to the original position and then repeat it to the left side.

Carry out at least 10 repetitions.


Lie on the floor, with your face down, upper body supported on your forearms. Raise your entire body off the floor, with the support of your forearms and toes form a straight line.

Carry out 3 repetitions, with 15 to 20 seconds hold.

Clock exercise

To carry out this exercise, you may need an exercise ball. Rest your back on the ball with your feet aligned with your hips.

Stretch your arms over your head, contracting your abdominal muscles, and then rotate your body like a clock. Carry out 10 rotations in each side.

5 exercises you can do while at work

Here are some exercises that you can do while you are at work

Sitting at your desk and staring at the computer screen for hours is not something that most of us, who have regular nine-to-five jobs, can avoid. However, what is most worrying about this kind of a sedentary lifestyle is that it takes a toll on our health and fitness. With all of us running after time constantly, and not getting ample time to workout at home or at a gym, exercising while at work, may be the only possibility.

This will not only reduce stress and keep you energized, focused and healthy, but will also increase your productivity at work. All you need is a break of a few minutes. If you are not blessed with a gym in your office premises, do keep the following tips in mind and make the most of it. You can practice these without leaving your office. Do them every day and notice the difference.

Take it to the mat
Keep a fold-able exercise mat in your office, which can be used to carry out basic exercises like stomach crunches, push-ups and leg lifts. This can help to burn off carbohydrates and revitalize you for the rest of the day.

Take the stairs
When given the choice between taking the elevator or climbing the stairs to your floor at work, opt for the latter. Climbing stairs is an easy exercise and also one of the best every day exercises for office-goers. It not only burns calories, but this cardiovascular activity also gets your heart pumping and helps in boosting blood circulation.

Stress buster
Squeezing a stress ball repeatedly gets the blood flowing, and is a good exercise for heavy keyboard users. It also increases strength of the forearm and joints. And it is fun!

Keep walking
Walk around your office after lunch, or within the premises. Brisk walking for 10 minutes or more, boosts energy levels and helps fight stress and aids in relaxation.

Throw your weight(s) around
Keep small hand weights at your desk and lift them while talking on the phone. Try lifting weights that are not very heavy when sitting at the desk. Take a 10-minute break to stand up and do simple lifting exercises. Do two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for a quick, efficient toning workout. You can also stretch a bit while sitting on your chair.
Courtesy With: The Times of India

How to cure hiccups

Hiccups can come at any time without warning. And sometimes, they can be extremely embarrassing. But the fact is, some simple techniques can stop hiccups. Here, take a look...

Press your palm

-Use the thumb of one hand to press the palm of the other hand — as hard as you can. Another tactic is to squeeze the ball of your left thumb between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand. You may feel discomfort, but it serves as a distraction that affects the nervous system and has the ability to stop your hiccups.

Hold your breath

-Take a long, deep breath and hold it for a few seconds. Experts say when there is a build-up of carbon dioxide in your lungs, the diaphragm relaxes and eases the hiccups.

Shut your ears

-Shut your ears for about 20 to 35 seconds. Another option is to press the soft areas behind your earlobes. This will send a signal to relax through the vagus nerve, which connects to the diaphragm.

Put your tongue out

-That's right, stick your tongue out. This is a common trick employed by vocalists and actors when they perform, because it is known to stimulate the opening between the vocal cords. This helps you breathe more smoothly and stops the spasms that cause hiccups.

Cover your mouth

-Cup your hands over your nose and mouth. Continue breathing normally while you do this. This will stop the hiccups because of the extra dose of carbon dioxide.

Drink water fast

-Take about 10 sips quickly from a glass without stopping. When you gulp down a drink, rhythmic contractions of the osophagus override spasms of the diaphragm and stop you from hiccuping. 

Courtesy with : The Times of India

21 Jan 2013

Shrinking Sunderbans threat to Bengal Tiger

File photo of a Royal Bengal Tiger.
                                    The Hindu File photo of a Royal Bengal Tiger.
        Fast-disappearing mangrove forests of the Sunderbans pose a question mark over the future of the Royal Bengal Tiger, an endangered species, say scientists.
Rapid deterioration in mangrove health is causing as much as 200 metres of the vegetation-rich coast to disappear annually in the Sunderbans, according to zoologists.
Nathalie Pettorelli, from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and senior study author, said: “Our results indicate a rapidly retreating coastline that cannot be accounted for by the regular dynamics of the Sunderbans. Degradation is happening fast, weakening this natural shield for India and Bangladesh.”
Sunderbans is the largest block of continuous mangrove forest in the world, native to nearly 500 species of reptile, fish, bird and mammals, including the world famous Royal Bengal Tiger, the journal Remote Sensing reports.
Thriving human development, rising global temperatures, degradation of natural protection from tidal waves and cyclones is inevitably leading to species loss in this richly biodiverse part of the world, according to a ZSL statement.
Sarah Christie, ZSL’s tiger conservation expert, says: “The Sunderbans is a critical tiger habitat; one of only a handful of remaining forests big enough to hold several hundred tigers. To lose the Sunderbans would be to move a step closer to the extinction of these majestic animals.” 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

10 Jan 2013

World’s largest solar telescope to be set up in Ladakh

P. Sunderarajan

File photo shows the Pangong Lake in Ladakh. The National Large Solar Telescope, the world's largest such device will come on the banks of this lake.
       PTI File photo shows the Pangong Lake in Ladakh. The National Large Solar Telescope, the world's largest such device will come on the banks of this lake.
          It will help in understanding the process of creation and decay of sunspots
Work on the world’s largest solar telescope is likely to commence in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir by the end of this year.
The telescope, with an aperture of two metres, is expected to be of great help in understanding the process of creation and decay of sunspots, apart from furthering cutting edge research on other fundamental processes taking place on Sun.
Giving details of the Rs. 300-crore project, the former Director of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics and chief investigator of the project, S. Siraj Hasan, said on Saturday that the telescope could come up either at Hanle or Merak village near Pangong Lake in Ladakh.
Once ready, it would be one of the few solar telescope facilities in the world with a capability to do both day and night astronomy. It would also fill the longitude gap between Japan and Europe.
The innovative design and backend instruments would further enable observations with an unprecedented high spatial resolution that would provide crucial information on the nature of magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere, he added.
Dr. Hasan was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a panel discussion organised here as part of the on-going centenary session of the Indian Science Congress.
A better understanding of how and why of the formation and decay of sunspots assumes importance as they pose a threat to the communication system on earth as well as satellites orbiting in the outer space.
Increased sunspot activity frequently accompanies an increase in the outflow of matter from the Sun in the form of solar wind. Charged particles in this wind can interfere with the operation of satellites by introducing what is called background static and also interact with atoms in the upper part of earth’s atmosphere and thus wreaking havoc with the communication systems on ground.
Satellites in low earth orbit face greater risk as during periods of heightened solar activity, the earth's upper atmosphere swells up slightly in response to the extra heating, which in turn increases the rate of decay of these satellites. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

New improvised tool for SRI paddy planting method

M. J. Prabu
LESS WEIGHT: The new tool at a field demonstration. Photo: Special Arrangement
         The Hindu LESS WEIGHT: The new tool at a field demonstration. Photo: Special Arrangement
          This device helps farmers to plant the seedlings at exact locations
One of the main steps Tamil Nadu farmers are advised while growing paddy under ‘System for Rice Intensification,’ method, popularly called as SRI, is to adopt seedling distance while planting.
“Planning the planting space is important for a good yield. Normally about 500 seedlings are planted from the nursery to the main field at a rough spacing of 20X10 cm.
“This spacing differs in some regions according to the labour availability and convenience. Whereas under SRI, about 16 single seedlings are planted at spacing of 25X25 cm,” says Dr. G.Kathiresan, Director (Planning & Monitoring, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore.
Initial stage
During the initial stages of SRI introduction, a lengthy rope was used for marking the seedling space.
Two labourers used to hold the rope at the ends on either side of the field bunds and walked across the field, while another person made markings on the field for planting.
But this system did not prove popular because the line of planting was not straight due to naturally occurring slopes or partition in the fields.
The line of planting also used to get altered. Physical labour was also more for this work.
Considering the demerits of rope marking, an iron roller marker was introduced. It requires two labourers to pull the iron marker which has pegs on it to mark the place of planting.
The rolls are fitted in such a way as to mark 25 cm. But this did not prove to be easy, the main reason being the roller was heavy in weight and farmers found it difficult to pull it in the slushy, water laden fields. The marking was also not visible.
The University came out with yet another simple and improvised device for planting.
Bamboo sticks
A low weight triangular pointer with three straight bamboo/casuarina sticks or polyvinyl chloride pipes was introduced.
“These three lengthy sticks tied with small sticks (25 cm length), or 6 mm iron rod fitted with half an inch GI triangular shape pipe holder with 60 angles in each corner. For convenience, ten feet sticks (three numbers) are sufficient for planting by two labourers,” explains Dr. Kathiresan.
The iron rod measuring 25 cm in length, represents the intra row spacing and the ten feet sticks in which markings are made represent inter row spacing.
Iron rods
For measuring the spacing, a triangular shaped iron rod fitted with the lengthy (10 feet) sticks at every five feet is also introduced.
Six points are marked on the lengthy sticks at the spacing of 25 cm to point the exact place for planting the seedlings. The planting can be done by a single labourer for an acre.
Farmers can use this device by placing it in the field parallel to the field bunds. The seedlings can be planted inside the triangular lengthy sticks. This is quite easy though cumbersome for some workers.
Normally for SRI planting, 45 labourers are needed to cover one hectare land. In the case of SRI planting with this new tool, 33 labourers are sufficient to cover the same area, according to him.
“The main objective for introducing this device is to help farmers to plant the seedlings at the exact location without any confusion and at the same time to maintain appropriate space between seedlings,” says Kathiresan The device is presently being used by farmers in Tanjavur, Ambasamudram, and Tirunelveli districts.
General opinion
The general opinion among some of the farmers who used this device is that it would be a good initiative if this work can be mechanised instead of doing it manually, as sourcing labour for the same is proving to be very difficult.
For more details contact Dr.G.Kathiresan, Director (Planning & Monitoring, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore – 641 003, email: directorplanning@tnau.ac.in, phone: 0422- 6611566. 

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Kilogram now weighs heavier

            The humble kilogram — the standard measure of weighing — has become heavier, according to experts from a British university.
The original kilogram is likely to be tens of micrograms heavier than it was when the first standard was set in 1875, experts using a state-of-the-art Theta-probe XPS machine — the only one of its kind in the world — have said.
Known as the International Prototype Kilogram or the IPK, it is the standard against, which all other measurements of mass are set, the Journal of Metrologia reports.
But the kilogram has become heavier as contaminants have built up on its surface, experts say.
The IPK and its 40 replicas were made in 1884 and distributed globally in a bid to standardise mass. Britain holds replica 18 at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The original is stored in the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris.
But despite efforts to protect the IPK and its duplicates, industrialisation and modern living have taken their toll on the platinum-based weights and contaminants have built up on the surface, according to Newcastle University.
Now Peter Cumpson and Naoko Sano at Newcastle have used cutting-edge X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) to analyse surfaces similar to the standard kilogram to assess the build-up of hydrocarbons — and how to remove them.
“Around the world, the IPK and its 40 replicas are all growing at different rates, diverging from the original,” said Cumpson, professor of Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) at Newcastle.
“By exposing the surface to a mixture of UV and ozone, we can remove the carbonaceous contamination and potentially bring prototype kilograms back to their ideal weight,” added Cumpson.

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Wanton destruction

Sohail Hashmi

  • Arravali and the forest: Gasping for life. Photo: Sohail Hashmi
                    The Hindu Arravali and the forest: Gasping for life. Photo: Sohail Hashmi 
  • Caging the greens. Photo: Sohail Hashmi 
                                  The Hindu Caging the greens. Photo: Sohail Hashmi 
  • A footpath in July 2010. Photo: Sohail Hashmi 
                              The Hindu A footpath in July 2010. Photo: Sohail Hashmi 
  •               The same footpath in January 2013. Photo: Sohail Hashmi               
                      The Hindu The same footpath in January 2013. Photo: Sohail Hashmi
     Even as the remains of the picturesque old jungle road are being dug up and a huge boundary wall fashioned out of broken pieces of the Arravali, there is little activity connected to restoring the Neela Hauz.
After many months one returns to the Neela Hauz again, the Hauz is located east of Aruna Asif Ali Road in New Delhi. Before the road came up and Jawaharlal Nehru University campus and Vasant Kunj sprang up to the west of the road in the early 1970s, all this was a forest and village commons for the inhabitants of Kishangarh, Masudpur, Malikpur Kohi, Sultan Garhi, Rangpuri, Mahipalpur and other villages and hamlets that lay scattered in this area. One returns to Neela Hauz, this much abused natural water body, not with good tidings but to report that despite tall promises and high sounding declarations what is going on in and around this once beautiful lake is large-scale destruction, encroachment or modification of three elements of our natural heritage.
First, the destruction of the surviving bits of the oldest natural heritage in India and among the oldest mountain ranges in the world - the Arravalis. Large and small outcroppings of the Arravali ranges can be seen poking through the Sanjay Van. Some of these rock formations, rapidly being broken up by those horribly destructive machines called earth movers, have tentatively been dated to the Pre-Cambrian era.
Secondly the Sanjay Van, in itself a reserved forest has been stripped of many trees, mostly the invasive Prosopis Juliflora or the Mexican Mesquite, but also of several, increasingly rare Ronjh and Desi Babul and Keekar trees. This denudation has occurred across a long stretch skirting the lake and extending beyond it towards Kishangarh. If one were to believe those in-charge of this wanton destruction, permission has been taken from the Delhi Forest Department.
And thirdly the Neela Hauz, the Hauz had began to suffer encroachments and dumping in the wake of a rather expansionist scheme to build a bridge across the lake in the run-up to the much-touted October 2010 Commonwealth Games. As per promises made at the time and subsequently, the lake was to be restored to its ‘pristine glory’ once the job at hand was completed. The job at hand was not completed in time and in fact there was a time overrun of more than 10 months. The bridge scheduled to be completed by September 19, 2010 was eventually finished only in July 2010. One does not know if the builders of this ‘priority project’ were penalised for the time overrun or not, what is however clear that even almost two-and-a-half years after the delayed completion, the lake seems to be nowhere near its “original pristine state”. An exercise was launched to rid the Neela Hauz of its horrible cover of water Hyacinth, the operation was never completed and the Hyacinth is once again expanding and choking whatever little life is left in the Hauz.
Even as the remains of the picturesque old jungle road, skirting the lake before this bridge came up, are being dug up and a huge boundary wall fashioned out of broken pieces of the Arravali, one sees little activity connected to restoring the Hauz. The long promised biodiversity park continues to be a distant chimera.
Meanwhile, the entrance to the Sanjay Van has been given a huge bill board inviting visitors to the forest. In order to facilitate the newcomers the forest is being spruced-up. All natural under-growth in the forest near the gate abutting the lake has been removed and concrete benches provided. And what about the wild life, the original residents of the forest: the quails and partridges, the krait and the hedgehog, the jungle babbler and the mongoose and the myriad insects and beetles and other beings that lived and prospered in the undergrowth in the reserved forest? What about them, are they part of any scheme?
Enquiries have revealed that all this digging is being carried out to create a parking lot for those who come for a walk to the Sanjay Van and for those visitors who might come visiting the Hauz and the proposed biodiversity park. The car park will come up even if the lake and the forest do not survive. Large parts of the old jungle road are piled high with iron frames that are going to be used for throwing up a fence around Sanjay Van and everything else besides. Here is another case of the fence eating up the field and the forest perhaps.
The earth moving machines need to get up close and personal before they begin to pull down anything, and in order to give the embrace of death to the surviving bit of the Arravalis they had to clamber over the expensive designer pavement that was built with rather expensive coloured and glazed tiles at either end of the bridge in July 2010. The pavement is now almost totally gone, once the earth movers are through moving mountains, the contract for relaying the pavement will perhaps be awarded to someone once again and the cycle of construction and concretisation and fencing will go on endlessly. The Arravalis, the Neela Hauz, and the forest can wait till kingdom come.

Courtesy with: THE HINDU

Internet emits 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide

A girl browsing in a cyber cafe in Vijayawada. File photo: V. Raju
   The Hindu A girl browsing in a cyber cafe in Vijayawada. File photo: V. Raju
              Internet and other components of information communication and technology (ICT) industry annually produces more than 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, and is expected to double by 2020, a new study has found.
Researchers from the Centre for Energy-Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) and Bell Labs explain that the information communications and technology (ICT) industry, which delivers Internet, video, voice and other cloud services, produces about 2 per cent of global CO2 emissions — the same proportion as the aviation industry produces.
In the report published in journal Environmental Science & Technology, researchers said their projections suggest that ICT sector’s share in greenhouse gas emission is expected to double by 2020.
They have also found new models of emissions and energy consumption that could help reduce their carbon footprint.
The study said that controlling those emissions requires more accurate but still feasible models, which take into account the data traffic, energy use and CO2 production in networks and other elements of the ICT industry.
Existing assessment models are inaccurate, so they set out to develop new approaches that better account for variations in equipment and other factors in the ICT industry.
They describe development and testing of two new models that better estimate the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of Internet and telecommunications services.
The researchers suggest, based on their models, that more efficient power usage of facilities, more efficient use of energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy sources are three keys to reducing ICT emissions of CO2. 

Courtesy with :THE HINDU