1905: Annus Mirabilis of Albert Einstein 

Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means “wonderful year”, “miraculous year” or “amazing year”. This term was originally used to refer to the year 1666, and today is used to refer to several years during which events of major importance are remembered.

Albert Einstein singlehandedly added 1905 as another Annus Mirabilis. In this year, his creativity peaked and he made the revolutionary scientific discoveries. He was just 26 years old. During that year he did:

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March: Proved that the light consists of photons thus proving the quantum nature of the light.

May: Proved the existence of the atom.

June: Special Theory of Relativity, which forced the laws of motion by another great physicist Newton as the corollary with the objects moving at lower speeds.

November: The most conscise and beautiful equation relating mass and energy. Proving that mass and energy are two names of the same thing. That enormous amounts of energy are condensed to make small amounts of mass. In other words, enormous amounts of energy are contained in the mass.

E=mc2

And after that he became a superstar

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Why Gold has the colour it has??

Gold as everyone knows is a noble metal sought after by everyone. By being noble means it is resistant to chemical reactions like corrosion by air and water combination.

The answer tothe question why it has the colour it has lies in electronic configuration of gold atoms.  Its electronic configuration is [Xe] 4f14 5d10 6s1 where Xe stands for Xenon. The outermost orbitals are 5d and 6s.  There is one electron in the outermost shell. In the geometric structure, atoms are arranged in a particular config And the lone electrons present the 6s orbitals are diffused in the lattice which means that individual electron in a atom has lost the address of parent atom and now belong to the community of gold atoms.

How do the objects we see have different colours? Colours are hidden in white light emanating from the sun. The visible spectrum of light components is composite of 7 colours remembered using “VIBGYOR” where V is for violet and has the maximum energy in the visible spectrum and R is for red with lowest energy.

When it falls on an object, the object absorbs some fraction of the light and reflects the rest of it. Which color or colors wavelengths it will absorb depends upon the unique structure of the object molecules. We see the resultant of colours which are reflected.

IMG_2064

 

In case of gold, the energy difference between the 5d and 6s levels is 2.7 electron volts. The blue light has exactly this energy in its photon packets. So when light falls on it, it completely absorbs the blue fraction of the light. The remains reflected resultant light is exactly the colour which is that of gold.

Revival of Govardhan Parvat: The Mountain Moved by Krishna

In our country where mythology plays a big role in the lives of its inhabitants, many sites like hills, rivers, and caves have their associations with the mythology. One such concerns the Lord Krishna and is called Govardhan Parvat (mountain).

The legend is that when the uninterrupted deluge threatened to innundate Mathura, Krishna lifted the entire mountain on his little finger to make an umbrella to protect the Mathura.

UP government has planned to revive the almost barren Govardhan parvat situated about 23 kilometres from Mathura. Government plans to plant the herbal plants on the mountain. These are:

Kadamba: It is a tropical tree. Krishna and Radha are said to have conducted their love play under the cool shade of the tree. It is used as one of the raw materials in the preparation of “itars”.

Tamala or Indian bayleaf or tezpatta: It is commonly used in Indian culinary as well as medicines particularly for alleviation of diabetes due to the presence of highly antioxidant enzymes.

Karira: Scientific name is Capparis decidua. It’s spicy fruits are used for culinary purposes like vegetable, curries, and pickles. It is also used in medicine.

Pakar : It belongs to mulberry family. Leaves have sour taste.

Pilkhan: Scientific name Ficus virens. It grows to heights of about 100 feet. It is Avenue tree. It bears “strangler figs” because they can germinate on other trees and strangle them. It is used in Thai cuisine.

World’s High Rise Buildings

In today’s world, capitalism is the buzz word. This is flaunted by constructing skyscrapers. China which was once a communist country, has most skyscrapers. In total 46 of the world’s 100 skyscrapers are located in China.

Here are top 10 skyscrapers of the world.

  1. Burj Khalifa: Dubai, 828 meters completed in 2010. Use: hotel/res/officeShanghai Tower: Shanghai, 632 meters, completed in 2015. Use: hotel/office
  2. Shanghai Tower: Shanghai, 632 meters, completed in 2015, use: hotel/office.
  3. Ping An Finance Centre: Shenzhen, 599.1 meters, completed in 2017. Use:office
  4. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre: Guangzhou, 530 meters, completed in 2016. Use: hotel/res/office
  5. Shanghai World Financial Centre: Shanghai, 492 meters, completed in 2008. Use: hotel/office
  6. International Commerce Centre: Hong Kong, 484 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  7. Zifeng Tower: Nanzing, 450 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  8. KK10: Shenzhen, 441.8 meters, ,completed 2011. Use: hotel/office
  9. Guangzhou international Finance Centre: Guangzhou, 438.6 meters, completed in 2010. Use: hotel/office
  10. Marina 101: Dubai, 425 meters, completed in 2017. Use: hotel/res

In US where no skyscrapers with height more than 300 meters have been constructed since many years, many skyscrapers with height more than 400 meters are under construction.

 

First observation of merger of two neutron stars

Neutron stars are the remnants of explosions of supernovae. Neutron stars are most dense in the universe so these are quite small in size. For example the size of London. They are so dense that a spoonful of neutrons weighs as much as 100 000 Eiffel towers.

It so happens that when two neutron stars approach each other, they turn faster and faster generating the gravitational waves by modifying the space-time around them. Ultimately they collide and fuse. After this the eject lots of matter.

How such events in occuring in the universe are detected? Electromagnetic rays emitted during such an event in the form of visible and invisible energy waves can be tracked by the modern telescopes and spectrometry.

Another technique has been added and it measures the gravitational waves which are generated in such violent events involving massive bodies. Such instruments has been installed in US. Called LIGO (Laser interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) can record the gravitational waves.

One such event of fusion of two neutron stars happened 130 million years ago. The gravitational ripples were detected by LIGO on August 17 at 1241 GMT for 100 seconds. Then after 2 seconds a Gamma rays burst was observed. After hours and days following the event, X-rays, UV rays and infrared rays were detected.

This is the first successful observation of fusion of two neutron stars through Gravitational Waves and as well as through different kind of rays that are emitted.

It also confirmed the premise that gravitational waves travel with speed equal to that of light. This event was made possible with the collaboration of 3674 scientists from 953 institutions all around the world.

 

Steppe Eagle: Endangered Bird

Steppe Eagle is also known as Aquila nipalensis in the scientific language is a scavenger. This species breeds east in European Russia from across Kazakhstan into Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. Birds winter mainly in south and south-east Asia.

The bird is placed in the Red List by IUCN in the endangered category. There are many reasons attributed to the decline in population to such an extent. Some are like loss of habitat and exposure to radioactive radiations in its basic habitat.

Bird winters in South and South East Asia. It has suffered in Pakistan and India due to the presence of a drug Declofenac in the carrion of the dead animals which these birds feed on. This drug is used extensively in the treatment of cattle in these countries.

Thus these birds suffer both at the original residence as well as their temporary stay in Asia.

I chanced upon a ditch amidst the bushes where the carrion are being dumped. One can observe the eagles flying over the area. Earlier there were mostly Egyptian Vultures but now a group of these Steppe Eagles have landed here.

 

Revival of local rice varieties

In order to increase the yield of rice to meet the needs of food in the country, high yield laboratory engineered rice varieties also called hybrid varieties have replaced the local varieties which yield less all over the country. Many areas like Punjab and Haryana in North India which were not rice growing areas have become the major rice growers. This though has helped the Green Evolution and commercialised the farming, has played havoc by excessive water drainage from the underground and contamination of water by heavy metals present in the fertilisers and insecticides which cause many diseases. But the white or polished rice that whole of our country people have become accustomed to have less beneficial nutrients and more starch which increases the risk of diseases like diabetes.

Some farmers in the rice growing West Bengal are trying to reverse this trend by resorting to grow the local varieties which despite being low yielding have nutritional value which more than compensate the low yield. One such farmer is Bhairav Saini who lives in Bankura, about 200 km from Kolkata.

For several years now,  he and many farmers are engaged in this task in many districts of West Bengal. Growing the rice by traditional methods without use of fertilisers and insecticides, in fact this also lowers the cost of growing the crops.

Saini, and several others in Hooghly, Dinajpur and 24 South Parganas, in West Bengal, have been engaged in reviving lost, indigenous paddy varieties of Bengal, simply because they’re cognizant of the health benefits of grains grown the traditional way. Burdwan, the rice bowl of Bengal now grows organic Gobindobhog rice in over 30,000 hectares of land. Besides Gobindobhog, other old varieties of scented rice like Radhatilak, Kalonunia, Kalojeera, Tulsimukun etc are also gaining popularity slowly. These have a high mineral and vitamin content along with other health benefits.

Unlike his peers in North India, Saini is not driven by profit making but due to his concern for the health issues of the people. As the times are changing and organic products are a buzz word, the rice they are now growing have started fetching higher prices. Some of the local varieties they are reviving have names like Kala Bhaat, Bohurupee, Leelabati, Durga bhog, Oli, Radhunipagol, Kalo nunia, Katari bhog, Radha tilak, Kalash and so on. Setting up the seed banks is also an important endeavour.

Inputs from an article published in the Economics Times of India.