What do a spell of rain, an overcast of clouds, a lovely breeze, a scorching sun or a thunderstorm tell about the future? Today, on the occasion of World Meteorological Day, here is an insight into humanity’s journey towards understanding the dynamics of weather. It’s never been an easy one. As we uncover factors that spill some clues on what to expect, Nature throws a grand surprise and yet another difficult challenge, making weather forecasting meteorology more exciting than ever.
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Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, have conducted a study analyzing the influence of socio-demographic factors on the commuting habits of people in Bengaluru. The findings of the team, led by Prof. Ashish Verma from the Centre for Infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP), can be implemented in metropolitan cities to ease traffic congestion and pollution by opting for alternative and eco-friendly modes of transport.
A new study has now revealed how knowing beforehand what to look for, helps in our visual search process. Previews – bits of information available in advance, are shown to accelerate our search process as the brain can differentiate and identify the object we are looking for, even among a large set of identical objects. This discovery throws some light on the neurological process responsible for visual search and recognition.
How do stars and star clusters influence their neighbourhood? How does the birth of stars affect their neighbours? let us start with the birth of a star. It begins with gasses, mostly hydrogen, accumulating under gravity until it gets hot and dense enough to start nuclear fusion, where the lighter Hydrogen atoms merge to form heavier helium atoms, with an enormous outburst of energy. This energy moves in the form of a shockwave, pushing all the excess gas away from the newborn star. For a million years after its birth, high energy radiation from the star continues to push the surrounding gas away. From here the picture gets a little murky as we hadn’t quite understood what happened around a star or a cluster of stars, after the million year mark. Now a new study by researchers from Raman Research Institute (RRI), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and P.N Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, Russia could throw more light on this issue. They have successfully developed a model to simulate the interaction of a star cluster with its surroundings. The model was then tested for accuracy by comparing it with observations from Tarantula Nebula, a nearby star cluster, where the observations matched closely to the predictions made by the model. Maybe now we can better understand the processes that guide the formation of stars, nebulae and galaxies!
If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Outliers,' then you might be well acquainted with the ‘10,000-hour rule’, which states that to master a new skill, such as playing the piano or knitting, one needs 10,000 hours of practice to become world-class. This long practice, studies show, facilitates ‘motor learning’ - a set of complex processes that occur in the brain in response to practice or experience of a certain skill, resulting in changes in the central nervous system.
In 1948, celebrated physicist and Nobel laureate, Richard Feynman introduced what came to be called Feynman diagrams. These were a pictorial representation of mathematical equations and served as a powerful tool in understanding and visualizing complex interactions between sub-atomic particles like protons and electrons. But this simplistic tool could not handle complex problems, where particles underwent many interactions, but instead produced incomprehensible and confounding answers, like infinities.
Technology has revolutionised medicine in the past century. We now have imaging methodologies like X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT) scans and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) allowing us a look inside the body without cutting it open. Nanotechnology seems poised to write the next chapter of this revolution, with various applications in biomedical imaging, diagnosis and effective treatment of diseases. In yet another advancement in this direction, an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Materials Engineering Department and Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have synthesised iron nanoparticles without any oxide cover that could be used to enhance the sensitivity of MRI by producing images with better contrast. They have also demonstrated the potential application of this research in the targeted delivery of medicines and other biological molecules to specific organs in the body.
ISRO hit a century of sorts with its launch of 104 satellites in one go. This has been a world record and everyone is proud of ISRO for what it has achieved. Have you wondered what enabled this scientific and technological achievement? Much of the ground work happened at Indian Institute of Science in primarily three scientific and engineering departments - aerospace, materials and electrical communication engineering. Aerospace Engineering helped in building and launching the satellites. Materials Engineering, then Metallurgy helped in arriving at the right composites, alloys and materials for the outer cover for launch vehicles and satellites that helped them to weather extreme conditions. The Electrical Communication Engineering Department helped with the technology to control and communicate with the satellites. It is interesting to note that all three were established during 1940s and before India became independent in 1947. In many ways from the science and technology to building capacity, IISc has been playing a key role.
1931 - A time when most women were aspiring to become a successful wife, mother or daughter, Dr. E.K. Janaki Ammal was already setting an example by being an early Indian woman doctorate in basic sciences from the University of Michigan. A competent botanist and geneticist, her seminal work on sugarcane varieties and genetics of flowering plants are recognised to this day. She was a fierce environmental activist and taught Botany at the Women’s Christian College, Chennai. In recognition of her contributions to the field of botany, she was elected as a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy in 1957, was awarded the Padmashri in 1977, and was herself a founding Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1935.She also served as the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India, and even has a flower named after her -- Magnolia Kobus Janaki Ammal! She was indeed a symbol of inspiration to many girls and women of her age.
The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is the new buzzword in technological corridors with most technology companies announcing a ‘smart’ device of sorts that runs on IoT. In simple terms, IoT is a giant network of connected ‘things’; a network of devices linked to Internet through wired or wireless connections. ‘Things’ could be anything from everyday devices like cell phones, washing machines and wearable devices, to pacemakers, biochips on farm animals, automobiles and industrial machines. It is estimated that, by 2050, a whopping 50 billion such ‘connected’ devices would emerge, dawning a new era of the Internet - one of the most powerful inventions in human history.