Earlier this April, the Indian government approved Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) of spend over five years on the National Monsoon Mission.
Officials measure wind data at the IMD observatory in Pune. Photo courtesy: Mint
With recent news of drought-like conditions in several parts of India, it seems to be a most appropriate decision.
The mission will partner with academic and R&D organisations and operational agencies to improve the monsoon forecast skills in the country.
Currently the India Meteorological Department is responsible for the forecasts. To get a sense of what exactly happens at the IMD, read this excellent piece on the monsoon chasers in Mint.
Also notice what the IMD says about forecasts. “It doesn’t make scientific sense to encapsulate all Indian rainfall into one number,” said a senior weather scientist, who didn’t want to be identified. “No other country reduces its rainfall to a number; most of them give regional indicators.”
Certainly, science is about data and facts. But the analysis of the numbers is complex and sophisticated skill.
Categories: How?, Weather
The colour change of the bhut jolokia during ripening. Photo courtesy: freebeerforyorky.com
If you thought super-hot chillies are just some peculiarity of nature and have hardly any place outside the kitchens of some strange foodies, then it is time to think again.
Indian army is trying to use the science and the heat behind the Naga chillies Bhut Jolokia to create biological weapons of a sort if the following report is to be believed.
Earlier, before it became famous this chilli was used by farmers to scare away elephants. At the heart of its heat is chemical called capsaicin. The heat of chillies is often measured on a Scoville rating. In 2007, according to Guinness World Records, the Bhut Jolokia was the world’s hottest chilli pepper. As of today it has lost this ranking to another variety. No matter. Anybody who is at the receiving end of a Bhut Jolokia spray is hardly going to complain.
Scientists have long pondered over this one question: where in the universe can life find a hospitable home? Well, the Planetary Habitability Laboratory studies precisely this and tries to map the habitable universe. Part of the University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo, this laboratory maintains the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog (HEC)—“an online database for scientists, educators, and the general public focused on potential habitable exoplanets discoveries. The catalog uses various habitability indices and classifications to identify, rank, and compare exoplanets, including potential satellites, or exomoons.”
Last week, one of these planets, formally called Gliese 581g made news again. It is now “officially” the Number One place to go to should humans want to stay on another planet. Though twice the size of the earth, Gliese 581g is nearly similar to the earth in terms of its capabilty to support life. Some scientists also call it the “super earth.” Lead researcher, Steven S. Vogt of University of California, Santa Cruz whose team discovered this planet in September 2010, calls it ‘Zarmina’s World’ after his wife, and claims the planet has “churchly weather.”
Read more at:
But, before you start making plans of going to Gliese 581g do take care to remember it is more than 20 light years away. To get there, we will first have to invent suitable inter-galactic transport. Have a great Sunday playing with these cosmic thoughts.
In an artist’s conception, a Higgs boson erupts from a collision of protons. Photo courtesy: news.nationalgeographic.com
If you have not already been flooded with facts, news and opinions about the Higgs boson, then there is some more Higgs mania coming your way. A game, the “Higgs Agent” is being launched in honour of ‘The Higgs’.
Meanwhile, at Newton Club we have put together a fun and easy way to understand this monumental scientific development.
What is the Higgs boson and why it is such a big deal?
One extremely entertaining and informative video for all the answers
http://vimeo.com/41038445 Check it out!
Still got questions on the ‘God particle’? More answers.
Higgs boson: Q&A
Heart of the matter
This piece has an excellent example of a Hollywood party to explain how Higgs boson gives other particles mass.
Under what conditions did the scientists work?
There was criticism of the presentation that the scientists made. Here is a spirited defence of guess what? The spirit of science of course.
Stephen Hawking had bet $100 that Higgs boson would not be found
The physicist, however, now affirms that the discovery is worth a Nobel prize
After Higgs boson, it is now time to illuminate dark matter
The song of the Higgs boson
A team of researchers has turned the data from Higgs boson experiment into a melody. These scientists are unbelievable, no?
A chair, a building or a bridge that builds itself? No, we are not talking scifi. Scientists are working on the concept of self-assembly at present.
The DNA chain–the basis of all life on earth–is an example of self assembly. Image credit: ibmmyositis.com
This concept which has been derived from the field of biology (think: proteins or viruses which self-construct) is driving nanotechnology experiments currently.
According to New York Times, “Skylar Tibbits, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s architecture school, has already built a stool, a robot and toys this way.” Self-assembly is most useful where human hands have difficulty bolting things together — outer space, extreme cold, free fall and deep oceans, Tibbit says.
For more on his collaboration with Arthur Olson, a molecular biologist at the Scripps Research Institute read the following piece.
Or better: just listen to Tibbits as he demonstrates some of these self-building toys that he has designed.
It is not always essential to understand the details of scientific progress. It is sometimes enough to know and enjoy what is possible. Have a great time.
Monsoon clouds over Delhi last week. Photo courtesy: Safia Zahid
Weather forecasts are crucial, not just for city folks whose daily routines change with the variations in the weather, but also the farmers who wait for appropriate weather to plant and to harvest. Interestingly, sportsmen also feel concerned about the weather. Remember the talk about cricket pitches when it is a bit moist.
Read this story about how the weather in London will play a role inIndia’s Olympic aspirations.
“London weather holds the key for Indian shooters”
So how are weather forecasts made? Here is a link which tries to give a simple step-by-step process of how weather forecasts are made?
For more details check this website out…
Meanwhile, Newton Club wishes you fair and easy weather to get on with your life and goals.
Categories: General, Weather
Biology students often learn the intricate details of the body systems through diagrams. Here is an interesting way to learn or brush up the basics. Try some of the links at the bottom.
But before that just try to name all the systems of the human body at the following link.
I can almost bet that you would not be able to complete all 12 of them. I was not.. despite having all of them in my own body!
Here are some other fun and interesting biology links:
- Correctly label the bones of the human body.. Now which one is the tibia?
- Name the different parts of the ear
- Which way does the blood move? From which ventricle to which auricle? Test your knowledge of blood and its pathways
Use of wood makes a difference to the ride. Photo courtesy: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Roller coasters need to be safe while they provide the thrills. Here is another beautiful piece on their physics–the motion and the materials used.
One of our earlier posts had a link to a fabulous fun website where one could experiment with all the coaster parameters–the size of the hill, the loop diameter or the material–and design a unique ride for one’s own self. In the process, of course, one learnt some physics as a rather ‘unintended’ consequence.
A little bot of rollicking fun is not bad before the schools open again. No?
Chemistry has much to do with the different colors of fireworks. Photo courtesy: mostmetro.com
Yesterday, the United States of America celebrated its independence day. The 4th of July celebrations usually include massive displays of beautiful fireworks. In India, we often do not wait for Diwali to enjoy fireworks. We are happy with the Indian team winning in cricket to light up a few fireworks.
Did you know that the science of combining materials that produce chemical reactions resulting in heat, light, gas, smoke and sometimes sound is called “Pyrotechnics”?
The science behind these enchanting fireworks is absolutely amazing. Here is a detailed piece by Kathy De Antonis which explains the phenomenon of fireworks in some detail.
This piece even has an interview with a pyrotechnic chemist. His journey to his present career is quite interesting. Check it out.
Throughout the day it has been Higgs boson or the God particle on the internet, on the television and elsewhere. And certainly in Geneva. People have been talking, tweeting and more about it.
The newswire, Reuters reported the events simply as follows: “Scientists at Europe’s CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.”
But why is the discovery so important?
The existence of this particle, as predicted by Peter Higgs, will help explain the details of our universe. Scientists believe that without the Higgs boson, “the universe would have remained a formless soup of particles shooting around at the speed of light. ”
What is the Indian connection here?
The ‘boson’ class of sub-atomic particles are named after an Indian scientist Satyendra Nath Bose. He had worked with Albert Einstein on related projects.
Is that all there is to the Higgs boson?
Most certainly not. The buzz around this exciting particle will continue for quite a while. Just keep watching this space.
A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson. Courtesy: Wikipedia
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, better known by its acronym CERN has been in the news over the last few days. CERN which runs the world’s largest particle physics laboratory situated in the northwest suburbs ofGenevaon the Franco–Swiss border is planning to hold a press conference on Wednesday. And expectation is that the international organization comprising of 20 European countries will announce the existence of the ‘Higgs boson’ or the “God particle” as many call it at the conference. The existence of Higgs boson, if confirmed, will answer some of the most fundamental questions of physics.
These experiments were carried over the last few years in what is known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC is essentially a tunnel located more than 100 metres underground, between theGenevaairport and the nearbyJura mountains. This circular tunnel has a circumference of 27 kilometres.
“The term hadron refers to composite particles composed of quarks held together by the strong force (as atoms and molecules are held together by the electromagnetic force). The best-known hadrons are protons and neutrons,” says Wikipedia.
So, waiting with bated breath for the press conference this Wednesday. Let us see if the scientists finally find God or not?
Highest man made temperature achieved in a lab–4 trillion degree Celsius. Photo courtesy: AP via Hindu
For a long time scientists have speculated about the maximum limits of temperature that can be achieved in a lab. Well, in a breakthrough recently scientists were able to achieve 4 trillion degrees Celsius—the highest ever created by humans.
To find out where and how read the following:
Now, if this is not the red hot, cutting edge of science, then what is?
Horologists are people who are interested in the science of measuring time. And on the night of June 30, they did a strange thing. They held back the seconds arm for an extra second.
The usual 60 second minute became 61 seconds at midnight on Saturday. Photo courtesy: Getty Images via Sky News
Why? Because in the past some time, there was a divergence of a second between the solar time i.e. the time earth takes in its natural rotation and the sophisticated International Atomic Time.
The International Atomic Time or TAI is measured precisely by the vibration of the atoms. Read more on this time coordination practice.
Happy time keeping!
And if the Euro Cup is well too European or too much football, then check this site out for the science of football (American football, mind you) and hockey. what does it have to do with vectors, torque, Pythagorean Theorem, physics, mathematics and more science. If you have never understood these concepts then it is a great site to get the basics right. And if you still have to learn about them then it is a wonderful way to get introduced to these topics.
Football is like life, it requires perseverance, self-denial, hard work sacrifice, dedication and respect for authority, said VINCE LOMBARDI, American Football coach. Photo courtesy: thisnext.com
So have a great time doing math and physics. And if you get tired then there the piece on opinion polls on television and random sampling in statistics.
Phew! Did you say you were bored by the Euro Cup?
Recently the Euro Cup has kept many Indians awake at night. Ever wondered about how the schedules of the teams could lead to victories? Well, in 2007, two researchers Lionel and Katie Page used data from three different European Cup football competitions spanning 51 years to describe the ‘second home advantage.’
The roots of our Soccer Tribe lie deep in our primeval past, said Desmond Morris. Photo courtesy: onicewallpapers.blogspot.com
This is take-off from the ‘home advantage’ phenomenon which is well known in sports—teams playing at home have an advantage.
“The second leg home advantage effect occurs when on average teams are more likely to win a two-stage knock-out competition,” and the Pages’ research found that “the second leg home team has more than a 50% probability to qualify for the next round in the competition even after controlling for extra time and team ability as possible alternative explanations.”
Categories: Football, Games