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India, US must collaborate more on space research: NASA scientist

India and the US should collaborate on such research programmes. NASA is looking forward to invite students from across the globe to participate in their space outreach programmes.

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New Delhi, Jan 21 : India and the US should collaborate more on space research programmes, a prominent scientist from the US space agency NASA stressed here on Saturday as he felicitated two young Indian astronomers who created history by discovering asteroids in 2010 that are now recognised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in the US.

Amanjot Singh and Sahil Wadhwa, former students of Ryan International School in Rohini, were part of the All India Asteroid Search Campaign (AIASC) conducted by New Delhi-based Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) organisation in collaboration with the International Astronomical Search Collaboration, where they discovered the main belt asteroid numbered as 2010 PO24.

“India and the US should collaborate on such research programmes. NASA is looking forward to invite students from across the globe to participate in their space outreach programmes,” Paul Rosen, Project Scientist, NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), told IANS.

“What started as an excuse for night-out with friends became a passion. It is this passion that helped me succeed,” added Singh at the annual meet organised by SPACE which is working to make science and astronomy popular among youngsters in India.

In the asteroid search campaign, students from across the country were able to discover nearly 500 new rocks in space.

However, these remained preliminary discoveries as they appeared to be asteroids but did not get confirmed because they tend to move away from their orbits. But, when the discovered asteroids remain in their orbits, it is named as a provisional discovery.

“Out of the 37 asteroids discovered (provisional discovery) worldwide in 2016, 27 have been by Indian students,” Sachin Bahmba, Chairman and Managing Director-SPACE Group, told IANS.

The annual meet was also addressed by former SPACE achievers who stressed on the need for research platforms and opportunities for children across the country to excel in astronomy and science and technology.

“Curiosity to explore the unknown and an opportunity provided by SPACE led me to the field of astronomy,” Aryan Mishra, a 17-year-old astronomer who discovered an asteroid in 2014, told IANS.

“For children living in a developing country like India, it is not easy to dream about space and the field of astronomy. However, it is my endeavour to change the mindset of people towards this field,” added Mishra.

“Do not end your doubt with nothing. Try to find out as it may lead to a huge discovery one day,” said 17-year-old Yashraj Bhardwaj.

Bhardwaj, who along with his twin brother Yuvraj, is the winner of Karamveer Chakra Award. The two have 22 projects — national and international — as well as seven patents to their names.

Through various astronomy-based outreach programmes, SPACE has managed to touch base with more than one lakh families and have educated more than 20,000 students annually, Bahmba informed.

“We look forward to fruitful Indo-US ties, which can come up with new technological advancements through researches done by amateurs and the scientific community of both the countries,” he told IANS.

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Flamingos migrated from Gujarat’s Kutch seen at Mumbai’s Airoli, Watch video

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Flamingos migrating from Kutch

Flock of flamingos which migrated from Gujarat’s Kutch seen at Mumbai’s Airoli on Saturday. Every year Mumbaikers witnesses an estimated 20,000-25,000 flamingoes.

Flamingos

The places where the birds can be seen in abundance are Thane creek, Airoli, Mahul and Sewri. Most of the flamingo population that comes to the city consists of Lesser Flamingoes; the rest are Greater Flamingoes.

 

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The strange trio of Sex, Science and the State — and its consequences

Though her thesis is not brought out very exhaustively, she makes a fair enough case and that is enough to make this a must read — especially for ministers.

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An Indian minister has made himself notorious all over social media for his comments questioning Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, but can we take this to show that the two worlds — of politics and science — are exclusive or even antagonistic? Not at all, and scientific disciplines that apparently seem farthest placed from human affairs may be the most influential.

For science has done more for setting the course of nations and their governance and economy than we can suspect — beyond its part in helping develop powerful weapons or technologies.

While this alliance of politics and science is a far more recent development than we think, it owes its genesis to botany, and two 18th century natural scientists who furthered this combination, as Patricia Fara shows in this book, part of a special set chronicling key turning points in science.

And this — in the last three decades or so of the 18th century — qualifies well enough for it shows how science progressed beyond the pastime or patronage of rich, idle noblemen to become institutionalised with government support.

And as Fara, from the History and Philosophy of Science department at Cambridge University, shows it not only saw the rather incongruous trio of the “Three Ss” — sex, science and the state — coming together with so many consequences, but also brought the subject of sex out into the public discourse, though against much opposition.

It also set in train a process — in Britain initially — that would lead a few decades later to Darwin boarding HMS Beagle to make the observations that enabled him to formulate his theory of man’s origin and development — a theory which has stood the test of time despite what some misguided or willfully ignorant politicians may think.

At the heart of this development, shows Fara’s account, were two naturalists, not as famous as Issac Newton or Darwin but contributing to science’s progress at a time “science started to become established and gain prestige”.

And both of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks, along with the other Enlightenment contemporaries, “fought hard to establish that scientific knowledge was valid and valuable”.

Linnaeus was a gifted but eccentric and self-propagandising Swede whose classification system for all living organism still rules today, but raised hackles of his conservative society by using sexual parts to order flowers and using human terminology for the purpose.

Banks was his British “disciple” -turned-science administrator — and no less self-propagandising — but also managed to make “science work for the state — and the state to pay for science”. A key cameo is played by that intrepid explorer, Captain James Cook.

And in telling their story, Fara ranges over small Swedish towns and the country’s unforgiving terrain, the mansions and the seats of power of Georgian England as well as its lush countryside, hazardous voyages over uncharted oceans, encounters with uninhibited, pre-industrial societies in South Pacific islands, ambition and professional jealousy, to show how the underlying root was something more heartlessly mercenary.

For, as she contends, “scientific exploration in the Age of Reason was driven by an imperialist agenda to own, to conquer and to exploit”. But apart from the above spin-offs, there were some other positive benefits too, as she brings out. Say the way, men, especially white Europeans, began to see rest of humanity and themselves in the world, or what women could be allowed to study or not — though it would still take time before all these would be tangibly realised for all.

Along with her lucid and telling discourse on the birth of modern botany with Linnaeus and Banks — almost concurrently with its economic uses, Fara also enlivens it with a colourful account of their explorations in various climes and encounters with exotic races and, above all, the contemporary public reactions to their discoveries and doings. And this could have a thing or two to teach protesters today.

Though her thesis is not brought out very exhaustively, she makes a fair enough case and that is enough to make this a must read — especially for ministers.

By : Vikas Datta

(Vikas Datta can be contacted at [email protected]

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France ditches plans for controversial west coast airport

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

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Edouard Philippe

The French government on Wednesday formally abandoned decades-old plans for a controversial new airport on the west coast that became a site of resistance for environmental activists.

In a keenly awaited announcement, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the divisions unleashed by the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near the city of Nantes made it impossible to proceed.

“The project cannot go ahead in a climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size,” he said, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.

The decision ends years of debate over a project first mooted in the 1960s — but sets the stage for a possible standoff with environmental activists who have been occupying the airport site for the past decade.

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

Philippe gave them until the spring to leave voluntarily, after which they would be evicted.

“We will put a stop to the no-go zone which has flourished in this area for nearly 10 years,” he said.

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