Jun 6, 2012

A summer at IISc ....

I had always  dreamt of visiting the Indian Institute of Science (IISc).The premier institute of Science in India established by Jamshedji Tata ,in 1909 ,is  considered to be the mecca for science and engineering students in India.
By the grace of God, I have been selected for the Summer Research Fellowship Programme of the Indian Academies of Sciences and am at present working on a two month research project at the Centre For Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (CAOS) at the Indian Institute Of Science(IISc),Bangalore.The

the main building ..IISc,Bangalore
IAS SRFP is conducted every year to give students and teachers of various science and engineering fields , an opportunity to do some quality research work under the guidance of renowned professors working in various research institutions of India.
I am working under Dr. S.K. Satheesh ,in the field of aerosol studies. Particularly my work would be involving analysing satellite data about the surface reflectance and other related properties and studying how aerosols are affecting these properties.
Atmospheric sciences is a very important field of planetary sciences and is slowly catching up in India.I would be regularly updating about my work on this blog for the benefit of others who are interested in aerosol research. 

The statue of Jamshedji Tata at IISc

His Highness Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar

And that's me......

Feb 16, 2012

FISH as good as COLLEGE STUDENTS at evaluating numerical ratios

I personally like these kind of studies comparing humans to other animals.I had heard that goldfish has a memory of few seconds and had formed an opinion that fishes are dumb (atleast their brains are).But thanks to the researchers at   University of Padova,Italy, I have changed my opinion now.After all when it comes to evaluating numerical ratios I am no better than a fish!!!!!
A recent study led by Christian Agrillo had put both the fish and the college students in tests where they had to determine which of two collections of objects was larger. 
The results showed strong similarities between the behaviors of the two species. 
Both the creatures showed remarkable similarities in choosing the larger group when the ratio between the given groups was large. On the other hand, for smaller numbers (up to four), the ratio did not affect the participant’s ability to discriminate. 
The researchers believe that this study suggests some kind of ancient evolutionary origin for human mathematical capabilities. I think this study should be carried on further.May be they should try on dogs and cats next.Who knows dogs may be as good as high school kids in algebra!!!!

Dec 29, 2011


2011 has come to an end. Many important developments were seen in the field of science.Here is a list of the most amazing and  important scientific discoveries and developments in 2011
1.Scientists discover complex organic matter exists throughout the universe
A spectrum from the Infrared Space Observatory superimposed on an image of the Orion Nebula where these complex organics are found. (Credit: Image courtesy of The University of Hong Kong / Background: Hubble image courtesy of NASA, C.R. O'Dell and S.K. Wong (Rice University))
 Complex organic compounds like coal and petroleum have been till now thought to arise only from living organisms.But a study led by researchers from Hong Kong University has revealed that this is not entirely true.Such organic compounds can be formed even in space with no life.The researchers were working on "Unidentified Infrared Emission features"- previously unsolved mysterious spectral signatures, when they made this amazing discovery.
They also concluded that not only are stars producing this complex organic matter, they are also ejecting it into the general interstellar space, the region between stars. The work supports an earlier idea that old stars are molecular factories capable of manufacturing organic compounds. 
2. One of the earliest formed minerals of the Solar System
The "Cracked Egg" grain, in which krotite was discovered, is contained in the NWA 1934 Meteorite. (Credit: Image by Chi Ma) sciencedaily.com
 Krotite is the newest mineral to be discovered.It is one of the earliest mineral to be formed in our solar system.Krotite is the main component of a refractory inclusion found embedded in a meteorite found in North west Africa.Krotite is mostly low pressure calcium aluminium oxide.

3.First Human Heart Cells that can be paced with light created
Oscar Abilez
 Oscar Abilez and his team amazed fellow bioengineers when they created human heart cells that can be paced with light for the first time.The new  development that could lead to an era of novel, light-based pacemakers and genetically matched tissue patches that replace muscle damaged by a heart attack, has further widened the application of a lesser known field of research called optogenetics.

4.World's First Anti-Laser built
In the anti-laser, incoming light waves are trapped in a cavity where they bounce back and forth until they are eventually absorbed. Their energy is dissipated as heat. (Credit: Yidong Chong/Yale University)
 Lasers were first invented in the 1960's.Since then they have revolutionized our lives. Now researchers in the Yale university have developed the world's first anti-laser called, coherent perfect absorbers(CPA). The developers of the CPAs believe that CPAs could one day be used as optical switches, detectors and other components in the optical computers, which will be powered by light in addition to electrons.The CPAs might also find application in radiology.

5.Hydrogen Peroxide discovered in space

An international team of astronomers working with the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope (APEX), situated on the 5000-metre-high Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean And discovered molecules of hydrogen peroxide in interstellar space for the first time.Astronomers hope that the new discovery would help in enhancing our understanding the formation of water in universe.

6.First Earth Trojan

An artist's conception of the trojan .credit NASA
 NASA's WISE observatory discovered Earth's first trojan this year.
Trojans are asteroids that share an orbit with a planet near stable points in front of or behind the planet.Scientists had long ago predicted that Earth also has a trojan similar to planets like Mars,Jupiter etc.The discovery underlined the importance and utility of the NEOWISE MISSION.

7.New Class of Anti-Malarial Drugs
scientists have discovered a family of chemical compounds that could lead to a new generation of antimalarial drugs capable of not only alleviating symptoms but also preventing the deadly disease. (Credit: © demarfa / Fotolia)
 An international team led by scientists from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) and The Scripps Research Institute discovered a family of chemical compounds that could lead to a new generation of antimalarial drugs capable of not only alleviating symptoms but also preventing the deadly disease.Unlike most of the present day anti-malarial drugs,the new class of compounds identified by the team is highly effective against the parasite in both the blood and the liver.

8.Biologists discover genes that repair nerves after injury
Regrowing axons 12 hours (top) and 24 hours (bottom) after injury. (Credit: Lizhen Chen, UC San Diego)
After working for two years,analyzing 654 genes, scientists at the University of California,San Diego finally discovered the 76 genes that are responsible for regenerating nerves after injury.The discovery will provide vital clues to biomedical researchers developing new therapies to treat spinal cord injuries and nerve damages.Terming the discovery as 'the most exciting', scientists are now hoping to determine which of these genes is the most critical.

9. Scientists Achieve Optical Invisibility in Visible Light Range of Spectrum

Electron micrograph of an invisibility cloak structure. The polymer-air metamaterial (“logs”) is colored blue, the gold-coated areas are colored yellow. (Credit: CFN)
Having a diameter smaller than the human hair,the tiny invisibility cloak has been to work in the visible range of electromagnetic radiation.
A report by the Karlsruhe Institute of technology  quotes one of the lead researchers-
The invisibility cloak now developed is an attractive object demonstrating the fantastic possibilities of the rather new field of transformation optics and metamaterials. The design options that opened up during the last years had not been deemed possible before," emphasizes Ergin. "We expect dramatic improvements of light-based technologies, such as lenses, solar cells, microscopes, objectives, chip production, and data communication."

10.World's most powerful  optical microscope developed
Scientists have created a microscope which shatters the record for the smallest object the eye can see, beating the diffraction limit of light. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Manchester)
A microscope that has shattered the records for the smallest object that eye can see ,was developed this year.
 From a report by the University of Machester-
Previously, the standard optical microscope could only see items around one micrometer -- 0.001 millimeters -- clearly.
But now, by combining an optical microscope with a transparent microsphere, dubbed the 'microsphere nanoscope', the Manchester researchers can see 20 times smaller -- 50 nanometers ((5 x 10-8m) -- under normal light. This is beyond the theoretical limit of optical microscopy.This greatly-increased capacity means the scientists, led by Professor Lin Li and Dr Zengbo Wang, could potentially examine the inside of human cells, and examine live viruses in great detail for the first time.

reference: www.sciencedaily.com)

Dec 28, 2011

COCOS (KEELING)ISLANDS-A beautiful image

cocos islands credit:NASA
This beautiful image of the Cocos (Keeling )islands was captured by the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1  satellite.The Cocos Islands comprise of coral atolls and islands and include both North and South Keeling islands.
Coral atolls—which are largely composed of huge colonies of tiny animals such as cnidaria-form around islands. After the islands sink, the coral remains, generally forming complete or partial rings. (The formation of coral atolls had been a mystery till Charles Darwin came forward with his theory ,while on his voyage aboard The HMS Beagle) 
The picture looked lovely and I couldnt stop myself from posting it here!!!

Oct 8, 2011


Try this  exciting quiz!!!

1.What is the significance of this  september 18,1977 photo taken by Voyager 1 spacecraft???

The earth and the moon!!

2.Why was this U2 plane a cause of embarrassment for NASA??

uff...these spies!!!

3.Name this first- of -its- kind satellite..

Hughes' brainchild???

4.Identify this species of penguins..
majestic penguins!!!
5.Identify this species of monkeys that has an unique way of cracking coconuts. 

6.First synthesized in 1874,Paul Muller received Nobel prize for this.A 1962 book,Silent spring led to its subsequent ban in 1972 in the USA.India is the only country still manufacturing it.What are we talking about?

7.Water has the second highest specific heat capacity among all known substances.Which has the highest??

8.My atomic number is 94.I was first synthesized in 1940.Both LITTLE BOY AND FAT MAN are related to me.Who am I?

9.What are mechanical,optical and laser,inertial and gyroscopic,3d ,tactile?

10.What owes its origins to Germany's kehl radio control transmitter system,the idea later picked up by German scientists to develop Wasserfall missile?


A nice video from Spacerip.com about antimatter..

Oct 7, 2011

Gamma ray bursts:what it may mean for our planet

Ever since man began to think, two questions have been haunting him.One of them is how did it all begin ,and the other- how will it end.Though man is still searching for the answers ,it seems the answers remain ever elusive.Even today nobody knows for exact how life began on earth and how would it end.
Talking about the how-will-it- end question,I  keep coming across many theories now and then ,that suggest the possible ways .From nuclear warfare to global warming and an asteroid hitting the earth ,there are numerous possibilities of ending life on planet Earth.The most recent of these that I came across is the gamma ray burst.
A gamma ray burst is the most powerful explosion known.Discovered in the 1960's,gamma ray bursts are random ,fleeting and can occur anywhere in the sky.Locating them is an irritating task!!Gamma ray bursts can be either short or long .A long gamma ray burst usually lasts for two seconds and a short gamma ray burst for a few milliseconds.But the energy released in this short span of time is enormous.
Several studies in the past have demonstrated how longer high-energy radiation bursts, such as those caused by supernovae, and extreme solar flares can deplete stratospheric ozone, allowing the most powerful and damaging forms of ultraviolet radiation to penetrate to the Earth’s surface. The probability of an event intense enough to disrupt life on the land or in the oceans becomes large, if considered on geological timescales. So getting a handle on the rates and intensities of such events is important for efforts to connect them to extinctions in the fossil record.
According to astrophysicist Brian C.Thomas of Washburn University ,a short gamma-ray  burst is more significant than a long gamma-ray burst.And if such a burst occurs inside our galaxy the effects on our atmosphere and oceans could be enormous.
The first effect is to deplete the ozone layer by knocking free oxygen and nitrogen atoms so they can recombine into ozone-destroying nitrous oxides. These long-lived molecules keep destroying ozone until they rain out. 
Those effects are likely to have been devastating for many forms of life on the surface -- including terrestrial and marine plants which are the foundation of the food web.
Based on what is seen among other galaxies, these short bursts, it seems that they occur in any given galaxy at a rate of about once per 100 million years. If that is correct, then it’s very likely that Earth has been exposed to such events scores of times over its history. The question is whether they left a calling card in the sky or Earth’s geological record.
One probable evidence could be iron-60 ,the isotope that's often regarded as the possible proxy for radiation events.If isotopes like iron-60 can reveal the strata of the events, it then becomes a matter of looking for extinction events that correlate and seeing what died and what survived -- which could shed more light on the event itself.
 Since the idea is pretty new it hasn't found acceptance among many paleontologists. But astrophysicists are confident about their claims.