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Monday, June 29, 2015

How High Altitude Wind is advantageous

Any motion in nature if tapped properly can be converted in useful electricity. Now over here I have mathematically explained how , high altitude winds can be advantageous.

\ v_z = v_g \cdot \left(  \frac {z} {z_g} \right)^ \frac {1} {\alpha},  0 < z < z_g
\ v_z = speed of the wind at height \ z
\ v_g = gradient wind at gradient height \ z_g
\ \alpha = exponential coefficient
The Hellmann exponent depends upon the coastal location and the shape of the terrain on the ground, and the stability of the air. Examples of values of the Hellmann exponent are given in the table below:
Unstable air above open water surface:0.06
Neutral air above open water surface:0.10
Unstable air above flat open coast:0.11
Neutral air above flat open coast:0.16
Stable air above open water surface:0.27
Unstable air above human inhabited areas:0.27
Neutral air above human inhabited areas:0.34
Stable air above flat open coast:0.40
Stable air above human inhabited areas:0.60

Now look into the above equation. For example someone lives in human inhabited area where at a height of 3 meters, he is getting wind speeds of mere 2m/sec , if the wind is stable the exponential coefficient is α = 0.60, A few blogs earlier I have mentioned about Google's Makani High Altitude Wind power.

Now suppose we have the Makani system stationed in this highly populated area. The Makani Kite can reach heights of 310meteres. Suppose that the Makani Kite is raised upto a height of 300meteres. So what windspeed it gets at this height?

Lets calculate;:

V300= 31.7 meteres/sec

So at high altitudes the windspeed is always likely to be very high, if this was unstable wind still the wind speed would have been approximately 8 m/s at a height of 300 meters.

So at high altitudes most of the times wind speeds are likely to be high most of the times in almost all the regions of the world. 

Google Makani and Alteros BAT taps into this and produces electricity and there is indeed a lot of electricity that can be produced this way. Saving us from tonnes and tonnes of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions. 

With so much work going into green energy research and renewable electricity technology the world can look into a greener cleaner future. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hovercraft - Opportunity India lost

Hovercraft is a vehicle that can travel on land , water , mud, ice , sand and other surfaces. A hovercraft it a hybrid vehicle and interestingly it is operated by a pilot rather than a driver. When the hovercraft travels, it is above the surface by a few centimetres. This is achieved by blowing air below the hull, so there is a layer of air between the surface and the craft when it is in motion. Hence the craft travels with very little friction since it is not in contact with the surface at all. 

Today hovercraft is used in defense, in times of natural calamities, in sports etc. Coast guards and life guards on seashores use hovercraft to save people's lives. Hovercraft can be useful means of transportation in locations where seas or other bodies tend to freeze during winter. In England, there are hovercraft like pitch covers that are used in cricket fields, the covers won't touch the pitch, hence it does not do any damage to the pitches. The military uses hovercrafts to quickly transport ammunition and if needed launch attacks as well.

A Russian military hovercraft
A US Navy Hovercraft
In the late 1950s and early 1960s India's DTD&P started a project of building an indigenous Hovercraft. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam headed the team , they successfully built an hovercraft that was named Nandi. 

However APJ was left disappointed and disillusioned when this particular project was shelved. Even today India imports hovercrafts or manufactures hovercrafts jointly with some overseas company. Had the project not been shelved then, India would have been a leader in hovercraft technology. We would not only be manufacturing hovercrafts but also exporting them. 

This is the hovercraft developed by APJ Abdul Kalam's team.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Amir Khan - Not only an entertains but also spreads social awareness

Amir Khan
Movies show us how to reach the hearts and minds of people. Commercial cinema has a huge following in India. People not only visit multiplexes to see movies , but they are able to see a particular favourite movie many times over in their DVDs , mobile phones, tablets etc. There is great impact of movies on the psyche of people around the world, probably more in India than anywhere else. 

In Bollywood if anyone has tapped into this wonderful influencing power of movies positively, that's Amir Khan. 

During his earlier years Amir came across as a wonderfully talented natural actor. When he became a film producer his humanitarian and thoughtful side came into prominence. The film Lagaan actually became a case study for students at various management institutes and also the Indian Army. 

His film Taare Zameen Par created awareness among the masses regarding dyslexia in kids and also generated hope and optimism in the minds of parents of kids affected by dyslexia - that the condition can be overcome. 

The awareness created by this movie actually helped in early detection of dyslexia among thousands of kids and many parents and teachers took corrective steps  to overcome this disorder in their children and students.

Earlier in India, in most cases a dyslexic child was simply passed off as dumb and were often made a laughing stock. In India even now beating up a student with a cane is still practiced by teachers. This dyslexic children are often mercilessly beaten up by their parents or teachers for being weak in studies. This results in lower self esteem  and loss of confidence among such children

This compounds the already bad situation of a dyslexic child. However dyslexia can be overcome, some of the greatest scientists like Nikola Tesla, Galileo , Pierre Curie and the great painter and polymath Leanardo Da Vinci were dyslexic. 

He didn't stop there he started a television programme called "Satyamev Jayate", that took up various social issues and also showed various positive initiatives taken by people. The show was simultaneously broadcast on various TV channels including the national service broadcaster Doordarshan.

It was watched by millions across the nation , it was discussed widely in social media. It was shown in regional channels as well in languages other than Hindi. The success of this programmes bear testimonial to the fact that even knowledge based programmes can be commercially successful and at the same time spread awareness among the people as well. 

Meanwhile he also did two more movies, which were both entertaining and had an excellent social message as well. Both of the movies were super hit in the box office. The movies were 3 idiots(released in 2009) and PK(released in 2014) respectively. 

The movies 3 idiots encouraged youngsters to follow their hearts and warned students against memorising stuff without understanding them in a rather hilarious fashion. 

In the movie a student named Chatur (nicknamed silencer) memorises a speech that is to be given in Hindi. Now chatur does not know Hindi , he gets his speech written by the collage librarian. 

Rancho(the character player by Amir Khan) mischievously changes some of the words like chamatkar(miracle) to balatkar(rape) and dhan(money) to stan(breast). 

Now when Chatur gives the speech in front of a packed audience the speech not only embarrasses the principal, but it generates a laughter riot among the people present there. By this prank Rancho tried to give a message to his friend that only memorising things won't work one needs to understand what one reads.

The film also shows little innovations done by Rancho from the stuff available near him like on the first day of his collage, when the seniors were ragging the juniors ,he immediately ran into his room.When one of the senior student threatened that he would pee outside his door if he didn't come out, what Rancho did was he connected one end of a wire to a steel spoon and the other end of the wire to a power supply and placed the spoon right under the door so when the student urinated , his pee fell on the spoon and that completed the circuit and he got an electric shock. 

It also shows how he helped a woman into delivering her baby , with the help of an inverter made by him he generated power when power supply was snaped and his on the feet thinking of adapting a vacuum cleaner into a suction device of a lower force that helped pull the baby out was another such instance.  

I have already written a blog about the movie PK , which is a wonderfully entertaining movie that warns against getting under the influence of fake spiritual gurus. 

Both the movies are produced and directed by the duo of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani, but both movies seem to have a tremendous Amir Khan influence in them. 

If we have more socially responsible actors like Amir Khan it would be good for the country and the society. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Makani Airborne Wind Turbine - Kite powered Electricity

High altitude winds has enough energy to power the world many times over. In this blog in the past I have mentioned about Alteros BAT and Kite Powered Electricity. Two years ago Google acquired a company called Makani Power .

The company is a green energy company that has built high altitude energy kites that can tap into the energy provided by high altitude winds to generate electricity. The advantage of using a kite to generate electricity is that one saves on cost of transportation of equipments required for setting up a wind energy tower and also the cost of setting up a wind tower with wind turbine is very high. 

While a wind tower can go up to the  the height of 120 metres. The Makani wind energy kites with a strong flexible teether can achieve a height of 80 to 350 meters. It is way cheaper than a wind turbine as no tower has to be built. Since these kites are aerodynamic they can access stronger winds and that is why every individual kite can generate 50% more energy. 

A single kite can produce upto 600 kW of energy at a wind speed of 11.5 m/sec. The system begins to generate power at a wind speed 4 m/s. At a height of 250 meteres such wind speeds are achieved very easily. 

More information about the revolutionary technology  can be obtained from this site .

The following video shows how the system works 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Knowledge in India - Past and Present

In India knowledge has always been sacred. In ancient times India was the global hub of learning. Students for all around the globe came to the Nalanda and Taxashila Universities for higher education. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism  and Sikhism originated in India. The Buddhists monks were the most enthusiastic and spread the Buddhism across different countries that included Tibet,Burma,China, Japan, Thailand,Korea, Indonesia , Sri Lanka and many other countries of south east Asia also Afghanistan. 

An Indian monk Bodhidharma, who went to China , along with Buddhism also taught ancient Indian martial art called Kalaipattu (it is still practised in Kerala). This martial art was further developed by this countries that embraced Buddhism. That's why today there different forms of martial arts like Kung-Fu in China, Karate and Ju-Jitsu in Japan, Taekwondo in Korea, Muay-Thai in Thailand and there are of course many other forms of other martial arts in South East Asia. 

The science of yoga and Ayurveda originated in India. It was India that gave the world the first system of medicine Ayurveda.  The temples and buildings of ancient India bear a testimony to the fact that there were great architects in India. The sun temple at Konark  and other sun temples in south India are a proof of the fact that Indians were good in astronomy as well. 

The great scientist Albert Einstein once said  “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.”

It was the great Indian mathematician Aryabhatta who gave the value of 0. It must be noted that without knowing the value of zero. Lots of scientific discoveries would have been impossible. The computer won't have existed at all and you the reader won't be reading this blog.

Science research took a backseat in India because the Indians were more focused towards spiritual learning. Indians believed that the ultimate target of life was to attain Moksha or Nirvana  i.e freedom from the cycle of birth and death.

 The caste system got rigid with times , earlier the caste of a person was based on his occupation. A cobblers son son if he took up learning the Vedas became a Bramhin or a Bramhin's son if he decided to become a soldier would become a Kshatriya. But later on caste became dependent on a person's birth. A Bramhan's son was a Bramhan and he had to take up study of Vedas and other religious texts whether he liked it or not. A Shudra's son was a shudra and he had to do the same menial work. 

The people from so called higher castes looked down upon the people of lower castes , the Bramhans stopped the education of lower caste people, as a result many were deprived education. The rigid caste system was the beginning of the decline of the nation. 

Later on when India was under Muslim rule, the education of women was stopped and people became conservative. The nation was mired with illiteracy and it was easy for British to come here and rule the Indians who were lacking in terms of education and were mired with blind beliefs and superstition.

The British rule saw the worst time India ever had to go through. India's cottage industry was destroyed, India had 33% share of total global trade before the British came in, but during the British rule the global share came down significantly and whatever little gains were made, was all pocketed by the British. 

The first census of India done in In 1900 show that a mere 7% people were literate and female literacy was a only 0.6%. This were figures for literacy and not education. The system of education introduced by British was expensive and its target was to produce clerks and lawyers that the British needed. In spite of that , in that era India produced renowned scientists like Dr Jagdeesh Chandra Bose, Dr Satyendranth Bose, Sir CV Raman, Dr Vikram Sarabhai,Dr Homi Bhaba, Dr Subramanyam Chandrashekar etc whose contribution to science are well known.

After Independence the educational system that was set up by the British hardly changed. There has been hardly any effort made to create researchers unlike other countries like China, South Korea and Japan.

Science education in the schools of India is theory based, there is hardly any practical experimentation shown to kids to increase their interest in the subject. In the schools of India its all about scoring marks by cramming the answers of the given questions. You will find kids memorising paragraphs after paragraphs of answer by repeating it like a parrot. 

 In India students are encouraged to take up engineering and then work for some multinational or PSU and after that move up the managerial ranks. In fact there are huge number of of graduates from IITs and lots of MSc degree holders who opt for studying management in some premier Management Institute like IIMs or XLRI. In India it has now become fashionable to hold a IIT - IIM combo degree. If students want to go for management why do the have to study engineering.

There are many cases where a computer science graduate from the IITs ends up in a liquor company making strategies for selling a few more bottles of beer after getting his IIM MBA degree. There are people who criticize MBA education calling it unnecessary. Most of the successful entrepreneurs around the world actually don't have a degree at all. So the need of a MBA is actually questionable. But the IIMs of India have given some excellent managers and business leaders and has incubated companies from the campus. 

But it is very vital for the Indian government to encourage and fund science and technology research. If we are to become a global superpower we have to have excellent scientists in in India. Right now many bright students actually migrate to Europe or America where they get way better opportunities. 

If India invests more in scientific and technological research , it would be immensely benefited. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Movies can make scientists

Around the world movies are extremely popular and has tremendous influence on the public psyche. Can this influence be tapped into in order to arouse people's interest in science, specially kids. There are space scientists and astronauts who have said that it is the TV series Star Trek that influenced them into taking the decision to become space scientists and astronauts.

There have been scientists who were inspired by a book to become scientists. There have been doctors and scientists who have been in their childhood influenced by their parents, teachers or others and that had tremendous influence into them becoming doctors and scientists. 

Thomas Alva Edison was not liked by teachers in school because he asked a lot of questions , his supportive and strong mother allowed him to leave school and his entire education was done at home. His parents encouraged him to experiment, allowed him to follow his heart and intuition and that's why he became such a great inventor and entrepreneur that we know. 

Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was deeply influenced and curious about the flight of birds, the collage in which he studied had two decommissioned war planes kept in order to explain the various aircraft subsystems. In his biography Dr Kalam says that he felt a strange attraction towards the planes and would sit besides them even after everyone had gone back to the hostel. This are the factors that influenced him into taking up aeronautical engineering at Madras Institute of Technology and later on went on to become the father of India's missile technology and at ISRO he headed the SLV project.

The examples of Edison and Dr Kalam are from the pre-television and movies era. But there is one thing that is very common whether it be past or present. What people chose to become in life is owing to some influences of childhood or some inspiration in youth. 

Take example of the country Israel , with a population of mere 8 million people it produces so many scientists, engineers and innovators. The youngsters there are influenced by their own countrymen who have done well in field of science and technology and they want to follow their example. 

So in India where movies are so popular and with satellite television beaming hundreds of movies a day, there should be movies made that encourage the spirit of scientific enquiry and experimentation. Such movies must be made that encourages innovation and finding innovative solutions to problems. 

The 2009 movie "Three Idiots" is an excellent example in this regard. There are youngsters who developed a drone similar to the one they saw in the movies and named it "All Izz Well".  Watching someone innovate encourages the spirit of innovation in other people. 

The innovation need not always be in terms of a physical product but there can innovation in terms of doing things, that increases productivity. 

Movies like "Three Idiots" ,"A beautiful Mind" ,"PK" and TV series like "Star Trek" should be made more and more so that bright young students are encouraged and inspired into taking up science as a career and maybe some of them will end up being great scientists and inventors of the future. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

PK - The movie (Stay away from wrong numbers)

File:PK Theatrical Poster.jpg
Its quite strange that I am posting a movie review on this particular blog, but the 2014 movie PK deserves to be here. The reason is that its a movie against superstitions and blind beliefs and exposes the so called middlemen between people and God. While people say that movies have a negative impact on the society , PK definitely is wonderfully educational as well as an entertaining movie.

The movie is about an alien who comes to earth to do research on the civilization here but as soon as he lands on earth the first thing that happens is someone steals his remote. Now without his remote it is impossible for him to go back on his planet. Interestingly though the alien lands up at Rajasthan in India.

The alien whose external features are exactly like a normal human being has to go through lots of hardships. First of all in his planet there is nothing called language people communicate through telepathy. He has this power to hold anyone's hand and download all the information from the person's brain.

Initially he moves around naked but funnily when he comes across a so called dancing car( a car that is moving because people inside are having sex in it) he realizes that the humans have exactly the same skin as them and they wear clothes. The dancing car actually becomes his source of clothes and beggars became his source of money.

But once when a barber was chasing him, he met an accident with a van that belonged to a local music band. Bhairo Singh the driver and leader of the band took him to the hospital where the doctor thought that this alien has lost his memory because of the accident. Initially Bhairo Singh tried to run away but he had a change of heart and decided to take the alien with him and keep it with him till he got well.

Now the alien tried to hold everyones hand so that he can download information about language and speak it. He got into lots of trouble trying to do that. Bhairo Singh thought that he was sex starved and took him to a brothel where he gets an opportunity to hold the hand of a prostitute -Phuljharia, in six hours he downloaded all information regarding her language , words etc and was now able to speak Bhojpuri.

After he learnt the human language he embarked on a mission to find his remote. He went to Delhi but was told by someone it is God who can help him so he went to different offices ( temples,mosques, gurudwaras, churches) for help from god. He listens and follows different advices( rituals) that the managers ( priests, pujaris, sadhus, maulavis etc) of Gods ask him to follow but to no avail. 

He finally found his remote with a so called spiritual guru named Tapasviji, the thief who sold the remote had sold it to Tapasvi. The Tapasvi claimed that it was given to him by God in the Himalayas. When PK came to get his remote , the Tapasvi used his guards to throw him out. 

Then he sees his friend Jaggu making fool of wrong number on phone and thought that it was the same problem with Tapasvi and other spiritual gurus. Their calls to Gods were going to wrong number and someone was fooling them by providing wrong information. The rest of the story is about how he exposes this godmen.

In India movies are very popular and this movie is a must see for all. This is the kind of movie that the nation needs today,along with entertainment its educates the viewers against the so called god-men who fool people in the name of God and make good money from them.

PK has been a global hit. Made for budget of Rs 850 million its has made over Rs 7400 million globally and what's interesting it is the first Hindi movie that did a business of Rs 1020 million in China. 

I hope this movie and other movies like PK that would be made in the future act as eye-opener to the people of country. Being free from blind beliefs, superstitions and fake spiritual gurus is very important for India. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Green India, Green World

Over the past few decades India's forest cover has come down significantly. Many fast growing Indian cities specially in the North and Western part of India are highly polluted. This pollution has lead bad health of people living in these cities.

The most polluted city in India is Delhi which has a population of 17.5 million people. It is followed by cities like Agra, Ludhiana , Kanpur, Ahmedabad etc. This are fast growing cities and pollution levels in this cities have put the health of people living in this cities in danger.

The city of Agra is well known for Taj Mahal which is an architectural wonder made with some of the most finest marble stone in the world. The Taj Mahal is regarded as one 8 wonders of the world. This Taj Mahal is losing its lustre because of the pollutants released by nearby factories in Agra. The marble is turning yellow.

One of the major reasons why India went through this massive deforestation is that India's population has increased by a factor of 4 after independence. This has lead to greater demand for food production so more and more forest land had to be cleared for agriculture, industries and residence.

There was a time when people used to drink water directly from the river Ganga, for Hindus the water of this river is sacred , however no longer can anyone even think of directly drinking water from that river , it is one of the most polluted river on earth. The river Ganga has to pass through some of the most populated areas in north India.All the industrial and human waste of this cities are thrown into this river.

As the river has tremendous religious significance people bath in this river and people who regularly bath in this river often fall ill reporting various stomach and skin problems. The Indian government invested lot of money into the cleaning of Ganga but the projects were shoddily implemented and most of the money meant for the project was lost to corruption, so the condition of the river did not improve.

This are some of the multiple pollution related issues that we are facing in India for air pollution- the solution is use of green energy in generation of electricity. India is blessed with ample sunlight . Solar energy can reduce the need of coal and gas based power plants.

The states of Rajasthan and Gujrat can become the solar powerhouses of the country. The electricity from sun produced in both this states would be enough to power entire northern, western and central India. Even states like Madhya Pradesh , Chattisgarh, UP get enough sunlight to generate more than enough power for themselves.

India is blessed with a 7,517 km long coastline. The sea coasts are always windy so ample Wind energy can be generated here but the real opportunity lies in harnessing the tidal energy along the coastline. There is enough scope to generate enough tidal energy along the coast that use of fossil fuels would be totally unnecessary. The energy is green and the energy is cheap. Even in south India there is lot of sunlight so great amounts of solar energy can also be generated.

An Indian IT- services company Infosys intends to power its offices with solar electricity from its own captive power plant. According to the company the power generated from the solar power plant would cost them a little more than Rs 3 per unit. Far lower than Rs. 5.65 it pays for its Bangalore office.

Similarly there would be other companies that would surely follow the suit. Green Power is the future and need of mankind. If environment is not taken into consideration while planning our future the result would be disastrous.

The cleaning of rivers like Ganga is very essential since this rivers are the major source of water for human consumption and agriculture. However for this to happen government's will is a must. The waste discharged by industries and the waste from sewage should be treated. Harmful materials like lead, arsenic and others should be removed from this before disposal. The industries that throw out poisonous gases into the atmosphere should be equipped with pollution control devices that can neutralize the harmful gases. There should be some regular monitoring mechanism that ensures that the pollution control devices are used properly and are maintained properly. 

Sewage itself can be great source of bio gas that can be used to generate electricity. In Delhi there are power plants that are powered by bio gas from sewage.

Environment and Development can coexist and should coexist because environmental balance is essential for the sustenance of human life and animal life on earth. Yes we want development but development with healthy life and a green world. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ghosts and Science

Throughout the history of the world in all cultures there is mention of life after death. There is mention of spirits and ghosts. Many say the dead come back to take revenge as a spirit. If that was true then there would have been no murders , no terrorism in the world since that would have resulted in the ghost of the person coming back and killing his/her murderers. This has never happened. 

Hitler, Osama Bin Laden and many others were responsible for the deaths of so many people but did any one of them confront any ghosts. None of them ever saw ghosts. 

The concept of soul maybe true, there has been certain cases of people remembering their previous births but there is surely no existence of Ghosts. There are places in the world that are said to be haunted however I have never seen a hunted place ever .

I firmly believe that in places that are said to haunted one must send thousands of people together and the so called haunted nature  of these places would disappear. When there are stories of ghosts doing round, people in the darkness of night are afraid. 

There are some babas, priests and tantrics who mint money out of these fear of ghosts. They advice various rituals to be followed that would cost money. So the ghost business in reality is a business of cheating and taking advantage of people's fear. 

There is nothing called ghosts there is no existence of ghosts. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Science Education

Teaching science should be made more fun, because when learning is fun kids and youngsters learn better.  Today one sad aspect of school based teaching is that students study for marks rather than knowledge. In India it is very common to see kids repeating paragraphs like a parrot, whether they understand what's written in them or not is another matter. 

As a youngster I found "The Special Theory of Relativity" of Albert Einstein fascinating. It so happened that I chanced upon my cousin's book on fundamental physics that was published by Mir Publishers. Three years earlier when I was in the 9th standard(for global readers 9th grade) there was a chapter on Albert Einstein in English. It was titled "Albert Einstein : A study in simplicity ". 

That particular chapter gave insights into the life and personality of the great physicist and then it also mentioned the "The Theory of Relativity" to be the most important document of our times. Naturally that awoke a curiosity about the "The Theory of Relativity" and when I chanced upon this book and saw in the index Special Theory of Relativity, I engrossed myself into studying that. 

For any newbie the Special Theory of Relativity would be awe inspiring since for the first time he would realize that time passes differently in different places. That a body flying near the speeds of light would contract. Also an object will become more massive as it travels at the speed of light through space. The study of the subject left me dumbstruck. In fact I had dreams of spaceships passing through space near the speeds of lights observing the same beam light which appeared to them having the same speed but had different frequencies.

Now when the same topic was taught in my year of Engineering. It was taught in such a boring fashion that one would feel like throwing up. The essence of the subject was lost. The teacher just left it to deducing a few equations and telling us , note them down this are likely to come in the exams.

India has seriously lagged behind in science research after it became independent. The straightforward reason for that happening is the system of education that we have and in spite of this rotten system we have produced world class scientists and engineers, who are doing well in other parts of the globe. 

TV channels like Discovery, Discovery Science, National Geographic etc and played an excellent role in increasing the popularity of science among the masses and Internet has given excellent access to scientific information to people across the globe. The Internet indeed can become a major source of education and knowledge.

What I have mentioned earlier was during the days when computers were expensive and Internet access was slow and expensive as well. With time the prices of computers have gone down also smartphones which cost much less have come into existence along with access to fast , affordable Internet.  Now students are able to see video demonstration of various scientific, mathematical and biological concepts via videos on Youtube. 

Video Demonstration and animation make learning much faster than mere book reading. Also students have access to Wikipedia a free encyclopedia that is available in various languages. The articles in Wikipedia are written, maintained and proofread by users and it has been a very successful experiment. Wikipedia is definitely one of the best things to have happened to the Internet. 

This is how technological innovations aid learning and make them more interesting. Manu Prakash of Stanford University and his team have come out with a 50 cent (INR Rs 30) microscope. Now this microscope is a projection microscope that the team aims to send everywhere where a pencil is used. 
They have named the product foldscope and it is really awesome. 

Traditional microscope are bulky, difficult to use and difficult to transport. They are expensive preventing normal users from using them. However foldscope because of its price and ease of use can actually be in the hands of every kid in the world within a few years. Direct observation of micro-organisms, plants, blood , food particles etc is bound increase the scientific curiosity in the kids. 

We need more innovations like them to come. Science Education should be most happiest thing in the world. This would produce more and more scientists and engineers who would change the world. 

The following video shows how foldscope works. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Music and technology

Music has always been a great source of entertainment for people. Music relaxes and reinvigorates the mind. Music has also been used by psychologists to cure patients. Now 140 years ago people can only hear music only when some talented singers and musicians played it. It was all live performance for there was no way in which we can store the music at that time. 

Now music is nothing but rhythmic sound. Sound is a set of waves in air or in other words sound is disturbances in air that are propagated as waves. In 1877 Thomas Alva Edison made the first mechanical device that store and reproduce sound , this device was called the "Phonograph" which later came to be known as the "Gramophone".

Edison with his Phonograph

It was the first device of its kind in the history of humanity. Edison's phonograph could record sound on a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder and it could later play the sound as well. The phonograph comprised of a stylus the circuit around the stylus was arranged with magnets . So when the sound was recorded the corresponding sound waves was converted into physical movements of the stylus that would etch out the corresponding disturbances on the tinfoil sheet.

When the tinfoil sheet was used to play the sound the movement of the stylus would generate electrical pulses which would be amplified and corresponding sound were generated. Later on many scientists worked on this phonograph and kept improving it. The cylinder was ultimately replaced with flat vinyl disk. Very soon they became the major source of storing music and playing music for many decades till audio cassettes and tape recorders took over in the late 1970s.

The advent of audio cassettes reduced the use of vinyl Cd's and gramophone significantly. In case of audio tapes, there was a tape with magnetic material in the cassettes that contained the audio information in terms of analogue magnetic information. It can be written and rewritten multiple times.

The read head of the tape recorder worked on the principle of electromagnetic induction. When a particular portion of the tape passed under the read-write head it would generate electrical signals that would be amplified and the vibration of the speaker would generate corresponding sound waves in air and thus we heard music and sound. 

When recording sound using a tape recorder, the portion of the magnetic tape that passed through the read-write head would have its tiny magnets rearranged depending on the electrical signals. Tape recorders were a rage in the late 70s ,80s and early 90s. 
Audio Cassete
Tape Recorder and Player

Japanese electronics company named Sony brought the Walkman which made it possible for people to listen to recorded music on the go. The Walkman was a small tape recorder with earphones that the user placed in his ears to listen music. 

Sony Walkman

Now tape recorders used analogue recording technology and developments in computer science and technology were making digital electronics popular. So in the 90s there came speakers that can be connected to a computer to play music. The music was stored in the computer as digital information in the form of 0s and 1s , the sound card that was placed on the mother board would generate electrical signals corresponding to the digital information and the speaker would convert this electrical signals into vibrations that would produce sound in air.
Computer Speakers
The quality of sound(music) with digital technology turned out to be far superior than the analogue sound. However there was one drawback back then the encoding formats of digital music did not have algorithms that compressed it significantly so the music files were huge for those times. 

But in time new formats came in , the mp3 format was a revolution because this technology actually eliminated those sounds that were not heard by humans form the music files, thus making the music files smaller and at the same time the storage technology was improving by leaps and bounds, it was actually doubling every two years.

So storing music became cheaper and easier and with the advent of Internet one was simply able to download music from the Internet anytime, anywhere he or she wanted to. 

Then came those little Mp3 players that stored and played music. Apple Computers saw opportunity in this field and came out with their iconic product i-Pod that made it possible to download , store and play music anywhere and anytime. The quality of music in i-Pod was very rich and the marketing done by Steve Jobs in popularising this product made it a rage in the entire world. 


At the same time mobile phones were getting better and better and then you had mobile phones that can actually play music. Today there is not a single mobile phone sold in the world that does not have this feature of playing mp3 music. Mobile phones have become major source of not only communication but also entertainment and information. 

Mobile phone with earphone

Most of the songs downloaded form the Internet is downloaded in some mobile device. Today we have come to a point where anyone can connect his mobile phone to the Internet and the download music and play it anywhere he/she wants to and it doesn't cost any money at all. Most of the music downloads that are done world wide are done free of cost. 

So science and technology has played a big role in the way in which we used to hear music and sound. Today for  99.9% of music heard by a person would be recorded music. Live music is only heard in a music concert or if you have any singer in your family or in your neighbourhood.

Thanks to technology people have more access to quality music than they ever had in the history of mankind. It is knowledge of sound, materials , electronics etc and corresponding developments in technology that has made this possible. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Sound, Music and Dance

Waves are disturbances in a given medium. Sound is also a set of waves and this waves are disturbances in air. Humans have five senses touch, sight, taste, smell and ability to hear. Now when we say that we are hearing something we are essentially deciphering the disturbances in air at a particular frequency range. The sound waves below this frequency range and above this frequency range is not heard by humans.

The human ears has ear drums that vibrate at when sound waves in air strike them this vibrations generate nerve signals that pass on to the brain. This signals actually go to the part of the brain that processes this information and then we realize that we hear some thing. Humans have evolved over time and have made good use of this ability. Humans developed the art of conversation and communication. Humans developed language to communicate, ultimately in time huge numbers of languages and dialects were created in different communities in different geographical locations around the world.

Human mind ultimately found that it is fond of sound that is rhythmic and regular, this lead to the creation of music. Not only the ability to hear but humans ability to speak evolved with time and they were able to generate sound waves from their vocal chords that carried information in a language that other people were able to understand. The same vocal chords were now able to generate sounds that was pleasing to the human mind and thus the art of singing came into existence . It evolved with time some humans had better and sweeter voices than others.

This was not enough humans started using various inanimate object to create sound waves and ultimately created gadgets that generated rhythmic sounds they combined this with their art of singing and thus music came into existence. Humans did not stop there and kept making this objects better and better and researched deeper and deeper into the science of music.

Humans came out with various musical instrument like the drum, dhol, flute , sehnai, jaltarang, sitar, veena, piano, guitar, banjo, harmonium, harmonica, mouthorgan, violin, saxophone etc. and in the 20th century it was followed by electronic musical instruments like electric guitar, keyboard and ultimately developed computers and sound generators that can mimic other musical instruments.

Before this centuries ago the researching into music humans created the fundamental building blocks of music the sargam in India and octave in Europe. Teaching music to kids became a regular thing and this fundamental notes enabled them to learn and create music.

Along with music humans also developed this art of dance in which the body is moved rhythmically depending on the music. In every human culture whether it be primitives of Andaman and Nicobar, Brazil , Africa, Australia or modern day society music and dance are ever prevalent and they form a major source of entertainment in all cultures. One would hardly find any person on earth who hates music or dance.

Music and Dance has been a major source of entertainment and recreation for thousands of years and surely they will stay that way for eternity. Only that Music and dance will evolve with times and simply get better and better.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Computer that works on water droplets

I have written about Foldscope earlier in this blog. The inventor of Foldscope Manu Prakash and his team has now come up with a  computer that works with very small water droplets . This is a pathbreaking new invention more details are there in the below video.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Aliens exist for sure

In our own galaxy and in galaxies around the universe there are at least billions of planets with earth like conditions. Thereby it is strongly possible that life may exist on those planets, in fact it is possible that intelligent life - beings and creatures far more intelligent than us and more advanced than us maybe there.

Why maybe, they are surely there. To say that life exists only on earth and nowhere else in the universe is probably the stupidest statement a man can ever make.

If you say that life doesn't exist on other planets because in our 60 years of investigations we have not found any concrete example is like taking a small cup of water from the ocean and then saying that there are no fishes in it.

Intelligent life is surely there in the universe other than the earth, we just have to find them. It is very much possible that they know about our existence, they may have advanced technologies that helps them monitor us.

In mythologies across the world there is a mention of beings with insurmountable powers. Who were these beings and where did they come from? There is mention of Gods like Shiva and Hercules in Indian and Greek mythologies.

In the ancient Indian epic Ramayana there is mention of wingless , soundless plane Pushpak which probably worked on the principle of anti gravity.It is very much possible that the Gods that we talk about in ancient mythologies were nothing but other worldly beings that visited and interacted with us.

In both Ramayana and Mahabharata there is mention of warfare that involved use of weapons that looked like simple bows and arrows, they would throw out lightning and thunder and other powers of nature. There is mention on some kinds of arrows that would generate snakes.

A mythical arrow/weapon called the Brahmhastra is mentioned in this texts that was capable of destroying anything that came in its path. Now these may have been some advanced alien technologies that were misinterpreted by the ancient man as bows and arrows with some power.

The ancient texts says that some mantras(words with spiritual powers) gave the weapons this powers but there is not a single example of this happening anywhere in the world.

In Ramayana there is mention of a unique species who were highly intelligent and powerful monkey like creatures. One of them Hanuman who was capable of increasing and decreasing the size of his body and fly in air.

On one occasion Hanuman has to fly from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas to get an herb(Sanjeevani buti) to cure badly injured Laxman. Now what made this flight possible. Was Ramayana a mere figment of imagination or  was it based on certain facts that the ancient humans saw? Also what were this highly powerful monkey like creatures? Were they a cross between some advanced alien species and monkeys found on earth?

Many people dismiss the concept of extraterrestial life as pseudo-science, a mere figment of imagination. But if we can exist on earth, why can't there be life on other planets in the universe. 

Maybe intelligent life could have come into existence on those planets thousands or millions of years before it came into existence on earth. Consider the technological advances of humans in the last 300 years, on the basis of that one can easily say that humans can achieve such great things  in a million years that cannot even be imagined at this point of time.

 Maybe some advanced alien races are there who are at such high state of technological advancement. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Knowledge is Power - Pressure Cooker

It is said that knowledge is power, let me show you a very small example of that. We all know the ideal gas equation.


where P= Pressure, V is Volume, n= number of moles of the gas, R is the gas constant, T is the absolute temperature. 

Now from this equation it is clear that if the number of moles of the gas is kept constant and the volume is kept constant then increase in pressure leads to increase in temperature. Also with higher pressure the boiling point of water goes up. Thus the food in the pressure cooker is cooked faster almost three times faster. Thus leading to great savings in the amount of fuel that is used. Almost all homes across the world use pressure cookers and this leads to great amounts of fuel savings also that means lesser carbon dioxide is thrown into the atmosphere since lower fuel consumption means lower combustion of fossil fuels. 

Now how pressure cooker was designed only after humans understood the concepts of force, pressure, molecular nature of gas this three factors helped scientists deduce the above equation. With the help of the above equation we understood that if the volume is kept constant then increasing pressure will increase the temperature.

This simple principle was applied in the design and construction of pressure cooker which is today used extensively for industrial and domestic purpose. 

Its man's constant search for truth that makes him discover facts about nature (Science) and then these truth are applied intelligently in design of systems that benefits him (Technology).

Thursday, June 4, 2015

वैज्ञानिक मानसिकता

       वैज्ञानिक मानसिकता होना बहुत आवस्यक हैं।  भारत में लोग आज भी कई अन्धविश्वास में जीते हैं।  कोई भी बदमाश गेरुआ कपडा पेहन कर इन्हे लूट सकता हैं। ८० %  लोग बिना सोचे समझे ढोंगी और पाखंडी बाबाओ की बातों में आ जाते हैं।  भारत में ८०% से ज़्यादा साधु बेईमान हैं।  इनमे से कई अपराधों में लिप्त हैं हाल ही में आसाराम बापू नमक एक पाखंडी को पकड़ा गया हैं , यह और इसका बीटा  नारायण साईं कई तरह के अपराधों में लिप्त था जिसमे बलात्कार और योन शोषण प्रमुख हैं।  इसके साथ साथ इन बेईमानो ने लोगो को मुर्ख बनाके उनसे हज़ारो करोड़ रूपए ठगे हैं।

      ऐसे बेईमानो की संख्या देश में लाखो की संख्या में हैं।  हमारे देश के लोग इतने बेवकूफ हैं की कोई मंच लगाकर अगर रामकथा या और कोई भी भगवान के बारे में बोलने लगे तो वे उनके पास लाइन लगाकर बैठ जाते हैं और दान देकर इन्हे धनि कर देते हैं।  ऐसे कई कथाकार हैं जैसे गुजरात के मोरारी बापू जिसने बस राम की और गाई की बकवास कहानिया सुनाकर लोगो से कई सो करोड़ कमाए हैं।

      जो साधु पैसा ले वह साधु कहलाने के लायक ही नहीं हैं।  पुराने समय में पैसे लेने  वाले साधु पर लोग थूकते थे आज कई बाबा लोग ऐसे हैं जो सेंट्रली एयर कंडिशन्ड महल में रहते हैं हाँ यह बात अलग हैं की यह बेईमान इन्हे आश्रम कहते हैं।  यह बेईमान बाबा लोग हिन्दुओ के मन में दूसरे धर्मो के लोगो के लिए नफरत पैदा करते हैं , और दोनों धर्मो के लोगो के बीच दंगा लगाने  की कोशिश करते रहते हैं।

ऐसे बेईमान और कपटी धर्मगुरुओ से बचना बहुत ज़रूरी हैं।  लोगो की भक्ति का ये नाज़ायज़ फायदा उठाना चाहते हैं। इसलिए हरेक कही हुई बात का वैज्ञानिक तरीके से आकलन करना आवस्यक हैं।

( इस ब्लॉग को हिंदी में लिखने के मेरा यह मकसद था की में ज़्यादा से ज़्यादा भारतीयों तक अपनी बात पंहुचा सकु )