Month: August 2019

Nochemicals solar powered bug killer seeks Europe expansion

first_img More information: Press release Explore further The company, in Denver, Colorado, has a solution that it says attracts, disorients, and in turn kills insects. Its technology consists of a light bulb and a solar panel. The solar panel charges a battery during the day that powers proprietary light bulbs which automatically come on via a light sensor and timer system at night. The bulbs are designed in such a way to attract a significant amount of bugs.The bulbs emit a special light that lures the insects. When the insects come within six to twelve inches of the light bulb. an additional light frequency wave disorients the bug and it falls into a water collection bin located below the light and then drowns. A video taken at Emery’s Berry Patch, 60-acre farm that grows blueberries, is full of praise for the product. “Our customers are walking through the fields and they pick the berries and eat them. We need to have the safest environment we can provide,” said the spokesman. He said that this year as in other years he would have had to cope with caterpillar damage but with AgriSolar he has seen a 90 percent reduction in pests. He said the solution was a no-brainer.“Nobody wants pesticide residue.”Most large, two-bulb units from the company are priced between $1,000 and $1,200. Each unit, depending on size, is designed to cover an area of between 3,000 to 6,000 square meters and to last seven to ten years, according to the company. At the time of this writing, the company’s site posted some “Testing Reports” to show the product’s efficacy. Light from a water bottle could brighten millions of poor homes (w/ video) © 2011 PhysOrg.com (PhysOrg.com) — AgriSolar this week announced an aggressive push into the European market for its no-chemicals insect killer that makes use of solar power to heat special insect-zapping light bulbs. AgriSolar said it plans to open several European sales and distribution offices with European partners. Its push is intended to capitalize on EU legislation that supports reducing the health risks of certain chemical pesticides. The AgriSolar solutions have a foothold in China. Some 40,000 units are on farms in provinces throughout China. Liang Chao Wei, AgriSolar’s Chief Executive Officer, said the insect control systems have seen great success in the Chinese agricultural market, which allowed the company to grow revenues quickly. AgriSolar Solutions is described on the company site as a Colorado Corporation. “Through our wholly-owned, China based subsidiary, we are engaged in the development, manufacture and sale of our patented solar powered insect killer products for commercial agricultural growers.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: No-chemicals solar powered bug killer seeks Europe expansion (2011, October 2) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-10-no-chemicals-solar-powered-bug-killer.htmllast_img read more

Scotland passes turbine test to harness tidal power

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further The 100 foot-high, one-megawatt Hammerfest Strom HS1000 is described as a “pre-commercial demonstrator.” The heavily instrumented turbine will continue to serve as an R&D platform and is already powering homes and businesses on Eday. The turbine can be monitored from the European Marine Energy Center base there; engineers can also operate and inspect the device from Glasgow using mobile connections and on-board camera.The HS1000 was developed by Andritz Hydro Hammerfest, as a “tidal power” turbine. As a version of a wind turbine positioned on the seabed, its blades spin in the flow of tides for generating power. A tidal turbine has shorter blades that rotate slower. The energy is converted in current directions by pitching the blades. The structure is designed as a tripod, which has a minimal footprint on the seabed and is held in place by gravity and additional ballast.Scotland, in the context of providing leadership in renewable energy, is eagerly exploring the concept of generating electricity from the natural movement of the tide. Scotland engineers consider it well placed to lead in turbine projects for clean, green electricity. Scotland is said to have superior tidal power resources, with a massive amount of power in its seas. Keith Anderson, CEO of Scottish Power Renewables, said the test gives them confidence to implement larger-scale projects. A 10MW tidal power array in the Sound of Islay is planned over the next few years Image: Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (Phys.org) — An underwater turbine being used for harnessing tidal power to generate electricity for homes and businesses has successfully completed its testing period in the island of Eday, one of Orkney’s northern isles. The machine marks the first to be used in Scotland’s ambitious tidal power project, with more turbines at more sites planned. Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) says that the completion of the test period is an encouraging step up in Scotland’s tidal power initiative. The turbine was lowered into position during winter storms as a test device to prove that the technology can operate efficiently in Scotland’s fast-flowing tides. Citation: Scotland passes turbine test to harness tidal power (2012, May 20) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-05-scotland-turbine-harness-tidal-power.html © 2012 Phys.Org Scotland surges ahead with new 10MW tidal farm While other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are in the news, proponents of tidal power say that it can be a significant part of the renewable energy mix as it carries an advantage over other alternatives. Namely, it is predictable. With its links to the lunar cycle, tidal currents can be predicted years in advance. A new Scottish Government report confirms Scotland’s commitment to generate 100 percent of its electricity needs from renewables and to “decarbonize” the electricity-generation sector by 2030.last_img read more

Plasmonic quantum size effects in silver nanoparticles are dominated by interfaces and

first_img , Physical Review A When metallic dimensions are reduced to the nanoscale, a phenomenon termed localized surface-plasmon resonance (LSPR) appears due to electron oscillations, resulting in distinct optical properties suited for advanced imaging and sensing technologies. As particles approach the quantum regime with dimensions less than 10 nm in diameter, however, the existing knowledge of their properties becomes quite hazy. The plasmonic character depends on the collective electronic excitation that can be tuned across a large spectral range by adjusting the material’s size and shape. Size dependent spectral shifts of the LSPR in small metal nanoparticles are induced by quantum effects, but the existing literature on the subject is quite controversial due to inconsistencies. In a new study, Alfredo Campos and colleagues similarly report complementary experiments on size-selected small silver nanoparticles embedded in silica that yield inconsistent results on the same system. The quantitative interpretation offered by Campos et al. in the study was based on a mixed classical/quantum model that resolved apparent contradictions in the experimental data and in the literature. In the experiments, the scientists used optical and electron spectroscopy to investigate plasmonic properties of individual silver nanoparticles with dimensions reaching the quantum regime. The comprehensive model described the local environment as a crucial parameter that controlled the manifestation or the absence of quantum size effects. The results are now published in Nature Physics.Understanding the electronic structure and optical properties of metal nanoparticles is an extremely fruitful playground to develop quantum theories for metal nanostructures. Such systems have applications in catalysis, imaging and biosensing as well as in quantum optics for quantum information transfer. Improved single-particle experimental techniques have recently revitalized the interest in size-dependent plasmonic resonances in nanoparticles (NPs). For instance, electron energy loss spectroscopy in a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM-EELS) is a particularly powerful technique that allows the mapping of spatial and spectral variations of different plasmon types at sub-nanometer resolution, where quantum effects can make the optical response more complex even for the simplest geometry. The technique can allow direct correlation between a particle’s geometry and its plasmon resonance. The experimental trends were reproduced in calculations to provide a theoretical model that could quantitatively and consistently interpret the plasmonic response of free and embedded silver NPs. Using the theoretical model, Campos et al. were also able to explain the size-dependent spectral shifts observed in several previous experiments of embedded silver NPs as well, to resolve apparent contradictions in the literature. The scientists emphasized the importance of implementing all relevant contributions of quantum-plasmonic systems as detailed in the study, paving the way for further studies of different plasmonic effects such as volume plasmons and in different systems such as nanoalloys. More information: Alfredo Campos et al. Plasmonic quantum size effects in silver nanoparticles are dominated by interfaces and local environments, Nature Physics (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41567-018-0345-z Josef Tiggesbäumker et al. Blue shift of the Mie plasma frequency in Ag clusters and particles, Physical Review A (2002). DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevA.48.R1749 A. Hilger et al. Surface and interface effects in the optical properties of silver nanoparticles, The European Physical Journal D (2002). DOI: 10.1007/s100530050531 Matthias Hillenkamp et al. Instability of Ag nanoparticles in SiO2at ambient conditions, Nanotechnology (2006). DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/18/1/015702 © 2018 Science X Network The authors first defined open questions linked to interpretations of the size-dependent shift of LSPR in small silver NPs. Then they used new, complementary experimental data to discuss experimental considerations in the study and proposed an interpretation using a quantitative theory. On this basis, they briefly addressed existing contradictions in the literature and focused on localized surface plasmons and not on the likewise observable – volume plasmons. In the study, the authors used a theory of a sophisticated electronic model in a dielectric environment to explain the trade-off that led to a red shift and a blue shift to establish a unifying approach for the optical and electronic properties of the unique system. Previous studies showed a strong blue shift of the LSPR for silver nanoparticles fabricated with decreasing size using wet-chemical methods, in which the quantum plasmonic resonances were interpreted via semiclassical methods. Such interpretations remain controversial since the fundamental aspects of electronic spill-out (leading to a red shift) or influence of the surrounding matrix substrate were not considered. The similarity between electronic and optical observations were also only assumed but never derived for such small particles. As a result, the existing literature for small metal particles and their size-dependent plasmonic properties show large discrepancies that require clarification. Journal information: Nature Physics Optical spectroscopy. Optical absorption spectra for silver NPs of varying size, embedded in silica matrices. The topmost blue curve is for a non-mass-selected ensemble centered on a dimeter of d=2.7 nm, the other curves are for mass selected distributions. The minimal and maximal number of atoms per article transmitted through the mass spectrometer and the corresponding diameters are indicated. The broad signal around 2 eV for the smallest size is an artefact due to imperfect correction of Fabry- Pérot interference. The atomic peak at 3.75 eV for small sizes was attributed to fragmentation upon deposition. Credit: Nature Physics, doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0345-z To overcome physical challenges that were previously observed with a chemically stabilized substrate and matrix effect, Campos et al. used physically prepared and size-selected pure silver particles and embedded them in a homogenous silica matrix. As a unifying approach, the researchers compared single-particle STEM-EELS measurements to ensemble-averaged optical microscopy experiments of the same system. In the study, experimental samples used for optical spectroscopy were approximately 1 µm in thickness, differing from samples used for electronic spectroscopy, approximating 30 nm in thickness. Aside from the size variation, the scientists conducted single particle STEM-EELS experiments across a large range of thin samples fabricated under identical conditions as those used for optical spectroscopy. In the STEM-EELS experiments, images of silver NPs of 6.5 and 2.0 nm diameter were viewed alongside their corresponding EEL spectra for clearly visible strong dipolar surface-plasmon peaks at the particle surface combined with blue shifts between the spectra. Closer inspection of the data revealed greater complexity as the majority of NPs did not exhibit LSPR at the start of each experiment, as they were instead surrounded by a diffuse layer of silver oxide. The diffuse layer disappeared with knock-on collisions during continuous electron irradiation, leading to the observed LSPR peak and blue shifts. Under continuous energetic electron irradiation with increasing electron dose, lighter atoms were preferably displaced from the matrix and from additional oxygen at the particle interface. More and more matrix atoms were removed at higher electron doses under the beam leading to increased local porosity in the matrix and at the interface, observed as a trend with time in the study. Values of the dose-dependent peak positions were obtained as a function of size, the LSPR data ranged between 3 eV to 3.6 eV. The results also showed consistent red shifts due to the homogenous high-index silica environment, in agreement with previous results. The evolution of the size-dependent spectral position of the LSPR thus appeared contradictory for optical and electronic spectroscopy in the study. Theoretical and experimental size dependencies. Size-dependent shift of the LSPR energy of Ag NPs in different environments. The solid squares are the calculated responses for particles in vacuum without (black) and with (red) the layer of reduced polarizability of thickness d (in bohr), compared to experimental values for bare silver clusters and silver cluster ions in the gas phase (open squares). The magenta solid circles show the theoretical values for silica-embedded Ag particles with the same layer of reduced polarization and a perfect interface (dm = 0). The intercepts at 1/R→ 0 correspond to the classical values of the dipolar mode for a sphere in the quasistatic limit. Open circles depict experimental values from optical spectroscopy for free and silica-embedded Ag particles. Dashed lines are guides to the eye. The insert at the right shows the concentric geometry used for the simulations of matrix-embedded NPs. For free particles, dielectric constant εm = 1 and thickness dm = 0. Credit: Nature Physics, doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0345-zcenter_img Explore further Plasmon peak shift. a) Experimental shift of the LSPR as a function of electron dose for a 6.5 nm particle. The shaded area corresponds to doses where no unambiguous LSPR signal was detectable in EEL spectra. After a minimal dose necessary for plasmonic activation, the peak blue-shifts by ~200 meV. The thickness of the initial oxide layer was ~1 nm. b) A qualitatively similar LSPR shift is observed in simulations as a function of vacuum layer thickness dm, here for a slightly smaller particle diameter. A value of thickness dm ≈ 5 Å results in a ~200 meV shift. c) Size dependence of the LSPR energy at high dose (like the saturated value in a), as dark blue open diamonds. For comparison are shown the calculated values for free (red) and for silica-embedded particles with either a perfect interface (dm = 0 bohr, pink) or a porous interface layer (mimicked through a vacuum layer of dm = 10 bohr (5.3 Å), light blue). Also shown are some of the data from optical spectroscopy of this work as open green circles. Dashed lines are guides to the eye. Credit: Nature Physics, doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0345-z Campos et al. resolved the apparent contradiction between optical and electronic spectroscopy to offer a comprehensive classical/quantum model framework that also clarified existing literature. The observed contradictions in the literature and in the study were not due to different experimental methods but due to different particle environments. The scientists introduced a self-consistent model to resolve existing theoretical and experimental contradictions in the study by accounting for all the important contributions in the system. These included 1) the electronic spill-out, i.e. extension of electronic density beyond particle radius in a non-infinite potential well, 2) the silver surface layer of silver nanoparticles with reduced polarizability, 3) the surrounding dielectric matrix including possible local porosity and 4) relevant finite-size quantum effects including non-locality of the electronic response.The scientists showed that the spectral position of the LSPR (red and blue shift) resulted from a delicate balance between two counteracting quantum size effects (electronic spill-out and layer reduced polarizability). They observed that embedding the NPs in silica red shifted the LSPR due to the increased refractive index of the surrounding medium. The absence of any localized chemical covalent bonds between the metal and matrix were also noted, allowing the phases to retain their intrinsic properties without interference. The scientists formed a theoretical description which correctly reproduced optical experiments that included the matrix-induced effects. They found that the different sample thickness used for optical and electronic experiments that was expected to be a minor variation dominated the spectral response instead, changing the level of protection against oxidation and responses to irradiation – leading to the observed experimental discrepancies. Researchers develop process to measure nanorods quickly and accurately , European Physical Journal D Electron spectroscopy and electron-beam-induced interface reduction. a) STEM images in high-angle annular dark-field (HAADF) mode of a 6.5 nm and a b) 2.0 nm particle embedded in silica. Bottom: EEL spectra associated with the surface signal (region of interest is between the blue circles). The contribution of the zero-loss peak is subtracted in the EEL spectra. c) STEM-HAADF images of a 7.2 nm silver particle embedded in silica at low and high electron doses. A diffuse layer related to silver oxide is visible at low electron dose and disappears at a high electron dose. The diameter of the particle remains unchanged. d) Surface plasmon evolution with the electron dose. The curves have been shifted along the y axis for clarity. The contributions of the zero-loss peak and other background contributions to the EEL spectra are in dashed lines. Credit: Nature Physics, doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0345-z Electron-dose-dependent LSPR shift. Evolution of the localized surface-plasmon peak position of silica-embedded Ag NPs as a function of exposure time, indicated in a color code. The interaction with the high energy electron beam systematically shifts the plasmon to higher energies, the values for each particle being connected by a dotted line. The central and right vertical lines depict the classical (size-independent) values for the Mie plasmon of silica-embedded and free Ag NPs, respectively, in the quasi-static limit and calculated using previously reported values. The leftmost vertical line was obtained for the Mie plasmon of the core-shell and Ag-AgxO NPs at 75% oxidation ratio. Credit: Nature Physics, doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-018-0345-z , Nanotechnology Citation: Plasmonic quantum size effects in silver nanoparticles are dominated by interfaces and local environments (2018, December 5) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-12-plasmonic-quantum-size-effects-silver.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Parental Burnout Can Lead to Harmful Outcomes for Parent and Child

first_imgFor more information about this study, please contact: at moira.mikolajczak@uclouvain.be. All data havebeen made publicly available via the Open Science Framework. This article hasreceived the badge for OpenData. Mikolajczak and coauthors James J. Gross of Stanford University and Isabelle Roskam of UCLouvain became interested in the issue through their clinical encounters with good parents who, as a result of their exhaustion, had become the opposite of what they were trying to be. Although previous research had explored the causes of parental burnout, relatively little was known about its consequences. The researchers decided to directly examine the outcomes associated with parental burnout in two studies that followed parents over time. Because many of the questionsasked about sensitive topics, the researchers also measured participants’tendency to choose the most socially desirable responses when confronted withprobing questions. In the first study, Mikolajczakand colleagues recruited parents through social networks, schools,pediatricians, and other sources to participate in research on “parentalwell-being and exhaustion.” The parents, mostly French-speaking adults inBelgium, completed three batches of online surveys spaced about 5.5 monthsapart. A second online study withmostly English-speaking parents in the UK produced similar findings. Additional studies are neededto confirm and extend these findings with broader samples and measures.Nonetheless, the robust pattern of results suggests that there are importantlessons to be learned from these findings, the researchers say. Parental burnout at the firstand second survey was associated with later parental neglect, parental violence,and escape ideation. The researchers found that parental burnout and parentalneglect had a circular relationship: Parental burnout led to increased parentalneglect, which led to increased burnout, and so on. Parental violence appearedto be a clear consequence of burnout. “In the current culturalcontext, there is a lot of pressure on parents,” says lead researcher MoïraMikolajczak of UCLouvain. “But being a perfect parent is impossible andattempting to be one can lead to exhaustion. Our research suggests that whateverallows parents to recharge their batteries, to avoid exhaustion, is good forchildren.” Together, the data suggest thatparental burnout is likely the cause of escape ideation, parental neglect, andparental violence. When the daily stress of parenting becomes chronic it can turn into parental burnout, an intense exhaustion that leads parents to feel detached from their children and unsure of their parenting abilities, according to research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. This type of burnout can have serious consequences for both parent and child, increasing parental neglect, harm, and thoughts about escape. A total of 2,068 parentsparticipated in the first survey, with 557 still participating at the thirdsurvey. Importantly, all of these patternsheld even when the researchers took participants’ tendency toward sociallydesirable responding into account. “We were a bit surprised by theirony of the results,” says Mikolajczak. “If you want to do the right thing toomuch, you can end up doing the wrong thing. Too much pressure on parents canlead them to exhaustion which can have damaging consequences for the parent andfor the children.” Participants’ data revealed astrong association between burnout and the three variables — escape ideation, parentalneglect, and parental violence — at each of the three time points. “Parents need to know that self-careis good for the child and that when they feel severely exhausted, they shouldseek help. Health and child services professionals need to be informed aboutparental burnout so that they can accurately diagnose it and provide parentswith the most appropriate care. And those engaged in policy and public healthneed to help raise awareness and lift the taboo on parental burnout, which willencourage parents to seek the help they need,” Mikolajczak concludes. The surveys included a 22-itemmeasure of parental burnout that gauged parents’ emotional exhaustion,emotional distancing, and feelings of inefficacy; a six-item measure thatgauged their thoughts about escaping their family; a 17-item measure thatgauged the degree to which they neglected their childrens’ physical, educationaland emotional needs; and a 15-item measure that gauged their tendency to engagein verbal, physical, or psychological violence.last_img read more

Put on your dancing shoes

first_imgThe dancer who has participated in reality shows such as So You Think You Can Dance was here on a five day dance workshop in the city. ‘I was invited here to coach talented young dancers and am pretty amazed at the immense potential. I believe budding dancers in India have immense potential to master western dance forms,’says Chbeeb. Chbeeb who has been invited by a city-based group Big Dance Centre, to coach students with hip-hop moves says, ‘‘What impresses me is how passionate students are about learning various dance forms. They also have good exposure here.’ Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’On his first trip to India, Chbeeb is captivated with Indian classical dance forms and bollywood dance style.‘Unlike many other classical dance forms, Indian dances are more organic; the movements aren’t linear. With broader musical range emphasis is laid on rounded steps and expressions,’ he adds.The dancer who originally belongs to Texas says he began dancing at the age of fifteen with no formal training.This self-taught dancer instantly fell in love with hip-hop dance for it seemed so unnatural to him. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHis began formal dance training began only with ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, one of the most popular dance shows in America.Previously, he had auditioned for both season 3 and 4 but it was only in season 5, auditions for which had kicked off in the year 2008, that Chbeeb excelled.Despite all odds faced in previous seasons Chbeeb made it to the top rung in season 5, which was when his popularity in the US soared leaps and bounds.‘I had never received formal training before this show which indeed helped me assimilate more and learn from the masters,’ he says. Chbeeb believes that to be a good dancer one needs a certain drive coupled with formal training.‘When a beginner who hasn’t received any formal training learns to dance, there is a greater possibility of creating new techniques,’ he says.Chbeeb’s dance crew I.aM.mE was also crowned as the champion of the show America’s Best Dance Crew (ABCD) season 6.The dancer who also made an appearance in the film Step Up 4 is open to work in the Indian film industry and perform some Bollywood dance numbers. Interestingly, Chebeeb’s wacky dance videos are streamed by a lot of people both in India and abroad.last_img read more

At the wrong end of Hindu stick

first_imgI am a Chaturvedi Brahmin born in an upper middle class family of western Uttar Pradesh. We originated from Mathura, the venerable land of Hinduism but came and resided in Qamiganj Teshil of Farrukhabad district of UP. We were pre-independence land owners and were the only Brahmin family in a town dominated by Pathans. Naturally enough, we have family ties with the kin of Dr Zakir Hussain, India’s third president as also with Dr Khurshid Alam Khan’s brood including his son and former Union minister Salman Khurshid. Never ever have we been discriminated against and the reverence which was bestowed upon my great grandfather and my grandfather was an extension of the love and respect that emanated between the sides. Also Read – Gateway of criminal justiceWe are god fearing people but we haven’t had any religious indoctrination. Maybe some of the family members in earlier times were put through it, but the presence of a Maulvi Sahab to teach Persian was always given preference back then. My family members, barring the generation I come from, are and were fluent in Persian and Urdu. We treated the language as a literary device and not a means of propaganda. Sanskrit has naturally been flowing in our veins too, but we don’t use it any more. Also Read – Turning a blind eyeIf we talk about religion and the wretched caste system in Hinduism, we stand at the top of the table. The last name Chaturvedi denotes- someone who has not only read all the four Vedas but imbibed all its values too. Vedas are religious scriptures and are considered by Hindus as sruti- something which has directly been denoted by God and has not been written by any human being. If a Hindu were to publicly desecrate them, he would earn the ire of the entire community. He may also be hacked to death. Chaturvedi’s are required to be steeped in tradition, culture, religion and an extreme form of idol worship. They are educationists and are required to abstain from eating meat, consume liquor or any other type of addictions. They are supposed to treat a Kshatriya as a Kshatriya, Vaish as a Vaish and spite at the very existence of Shudras. They are not required to mingle with Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and even Jains as these religions try to question the superiority of the Hindu religion. They are instead expected to chant in Sanskritised Hindi and in today’s times, support the Bhartiya Janta Party, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Rashtra Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Bajrang Dal and a host of other saffron outfits.If I take mine and especially my family’s case into consideration we would be ostracised from using Chaturvedi as our last name. But why is that so? It is because of the following reasons- We have had very strong ties with the Muslims, we do not support the caste system in principle, there is no restriction on eating non vegetarian food and certainly no limitation to smoke and drink and indulge in ‘vices’ as a lot of other respectable Hindu families might call them. There is also no requirement to be associated with saffron outfits as we do not support any of their antics. It is another matter though, that we have been Congress loyalists but had Netaji Subhas not died an untimely death, we would have clamoured to be associated with the Forward Bloc. We are also allowed to marry out of our religion because for us the meaning of a human life is not limited to being stoic about the faith we practice. But we detest what the BJP, RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal do in the name of religion.Detractors can have their own sense of belief but it is not necessary for us to support the elevation of a former RSS pracharak as the prime minister of the country. In my family, there is visible angst but with my grandfather having left for his heavenly abode, the oratory skills of the new PM seem to have taken over some members of the family. There is a very thin dividing line between who supports whom now. But being a man permeated in legacy, I still distrust and am naturally skeptical of the promises that have been made by the right winged coteries.  For it is true that the horrors of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition, the 2002 Godhra Riots, the Naroda Patiya and Gulbarga society massacres, Best Bakery murders, the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter, the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter still hang in sight. I thus cannot support Mr Narendra Modi and his protégé Mr Amit Shah as the supreme leaders of India. However powerful they may be, the idea of Hindutva- the theory on which they model their politics, is in itself false. There is no such thing as Hindutva and it is only the manifestation of the extremist Hindu mindset that it has its existence.Coming from Uttar Pradesh, the hotbed of Indian politics or if I may be allowed to call it, the epicenter of religious contraptions, I understand how the BJP employed its best (I beg to differ) thinking mind when the 2014 Lok Sabha elections came calling. Being the master’s man that he is, and also having the RSS background necessary for indulging in mud-slinging communally laced rhetoric at other parties, Amit Shah overturned the tables in the state. Never before had the BJP registered such a massive victory in the Lok Sabha elections in India’s largest and most populous state. But as citizens of a developing country like India why are we singing eulogies to it? Are you a believer of Hindutva? Or are you a believer of feigned counterfeit poltics where the leader of the nation just prior to him being elected as the PM was the chief minister of a state where he orchestrated one of the worst pogroms in this country? While he may be serenading billions and billions of people with his alleged display of effectiveness, don’t we all know that Amit Shah has primarily been chosen to obey the master’s orders as also keep the road ahead, free of stumbling blocks? Hasn’t he been given the position of the BJP president to launch scathing attacks with or without media glare and attention, as and when required? Emboldened by his party’s performance, he seems to have even decided to leave natural allies behind. And this is all happening in the name of the Hindu religion whereby even the spiritual heads from Mathura, Ayodhya and Benaras have come out in full support.As a Brahmin Hindu, I disapprove of divisions on communal lines. We may call India- Hindustan but we must also not forget that there is co-existence of other religions too. When the Constitution gives a free choice to practice whichever religion one wishes to, who are these political parties to dictate terms then? Where did this anathema of religious conversion or ‘Love Jihad’ suddenly come from?  Will it be possible for the RSS to negate the allegations of picking up boys as young as four and five from the poorest of families and inculcating in them religious intolerance along with drills of militarised training? Agreed that the boys are Hindu but a mind as young as that is incapable to differentiate between what is wrong and what is right? People may now question me about my stand on Madarsas, where apparently young boys and girls are given the same set of teachings. I openly abominate them too. We are not a theocratic state and neither are we aspiring to be one.  And if a Chaturvedi Brahmin is saying all this, you can very well gauge the fallibility of religious attachment and enchantment with Hinduism now.  Should I even be proud of being called a Hindu then? I should be, but not before I become instrumental in cleansing the society of Hindu extremists who have taken diabolism to another level. Well if need be, they can hack a human to death while still protesting and brandishing arms and ammunition on any instance of cow slaughter. They have blood braying eyes with savagery written all over their faces and they have the licence to kill you too. This is exactly what happened in Gujarat some years ago.It amuses me that how Indians are still a naïve bunch of people, harping on whatever the dominating class has to say all the time. How else could the HRD ministry decide to scrap German and substitute Sanskrit then? Who protested? Why should we not learn German and why should we be made to learn only Sanskrit? Does Hinduism criticise multilingualism? Or is it the subverted mindset of RSS pracharaks and their top echelons of leadership to silently keep feeding our minds with a concerted attempt at making Sanskrit the court language? To remind our worthy saffronite politicians, we do not live in a society where there is a king and there is his durbar and where only court languages are spoken. We are a modern society with the choice of professing, what we think is right and what we think is wrong. I recently read two very inspiring pieces. One of them was written by a young yet established journalist, somebody who is also the recipient of countless number of awards and other by a national and internationally acclaimed documentary filmmaker.  While the former was about the reality of the Naroda Patiya massacre, the latter was the first part of a speech, the filmmaker had given and talked about how the RSS attacks the very idea of a India as a nation. They were poignant pieces and anyone who considers himself as part and parcel of long haul journalism would have loved them. Both questioned the fanaticism of the Hindu mind and I must admit that they forced me to question my own beliefs as a Hindu Brahmin of the highest order. Till the time politics shall be played on counts of religion, such dilemmas will crop in the minds of people who think independently. It is pitiable; we always need an awakening for our conscience. We must stop the process of religious indoctrination before it becomes too late. India is a secular country but I doubt if it is going to stay that way in the times to come.last_img read more

Two incidents of fire reported in state none injured

first_imgKolkata: Two separate incidents of fire took place in the state on Sunday. No casualty or injuries have been reported in the incidents.A fire broke out inside a plastic godown in Bamanghata area of Bantala leather complex on Sunday afternoon triggering tension among locals. The other fire incident took place at a house at Ekdalia Park. According to the preliminary investigation, the city police suspect that the house might have caught fire after being struck by lightning. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsIn the first incident, locals spotted smoke coming out from the godown situated on the ground floor of a building at Bantala. Locals spotted smoke billowing out of the godown at around 2 pm and reported the matter to the fire brigade.Locals took part in the rescue operation before the fire officials reached the spot. They failed to reach the sources of the fire as the entire area soon got covered with thick black smoke. As many as ten fire tenders were pressed into action to douse the flames. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedAccording to the preliminary investigation, the fire officials suspect that a huge amount of inflammable materials were stored inside the godown that aggravated the situation.The fire officials faced difficulties to identify the source of the fire. It is suspected that an electrical short circuit might have caused the fire.Immediately after the incident, police rushed to the spot and cordoned off the entire area to check any untoward incident. The fire officials brought the situation under control within two hours. Police and the fire officials evacuated the surrounding areas to prevent any mishap. The preliminary investigation also suggests that there was no adequate fire fighting mechanism inside the godown. The exact cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are yet to be ascertained. A detailed probe has been initiated in this regard.In the other incident, a house situated at Ekdalia Park caught fire on Monday morning.Fire tenders reached the spot and douse the flames.According to the preliminary investigation, police and fire officials suspect that an air-conditioning machine might have caught fire when lightning struck the house. None was reportedly injured in the incident.The incident also triggered tension among locals. State Panchayat and rural development minister Subrata Mukherjee, who is the local MLA, reached the spot after he came to know about the incident.last_img read more

State mulls 2 rice plantation machines in each subdivision to increase farmers

first_imgKolkata: In a bid to further increase the income of the farmers, the state Agriculture department is planning to provide two rice plantation machines in each subdivision that paddy growers can use free of cost.A rice plantation machine ensures sowing of paddy seeds on a 1-bigha of land in just 15 minutes and it would help in increasing the farmers’ income by Rs 4,000 to Rs 4,500 for their production in a bigha.Asish Banerjee, the state Agriculture minister, said: “The function of the machine has been demonstrated in Birbhum on Saturday and training was also given to some farmers. Our endeavour would be to keep two such machines in each sub-division so that farmers can use it free of cost. There would be a discussion in this regard in a meeting scheduled at Nabanna on Monday so that the same can be started in all the districts.” Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeEach of the machine cost around Rs 2.90 lakh. Since it is not affordable for the farmers to procure the same, the initial plan would be to keep two such machines in the farms of the state Agriculture department in each subdivision. Farmers can take it to their agricultural land to sow paddy seeds without paying anything. They just need to bear the transportation cost of the machine from the farm to the plot of land.Banerjee, who was present in Birbhum during the demonstration of the machine on Saturday, maintained that rice plantation machines would also be kept at the Custom Hiring Centres. “The state government would give subsidy if a farmer wants to procure the same,” the minister said adding that the state government would be giving a subsidy of Rs 1.16 lakh to help farmers to buy a machine. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedOfficials of the state Agriculture department, who are posted in Birbhum, were also present at the programme, where training was given to the farmers on how to use the rice plantation machine.The farmers have also shown interest in using the machines as it would help them to complete the work of sowing seeds at much lesser time than the conventional way of doing the same.This comes at the time when the state government has taken several steps to ensure improvement of the agriculture sector and bagged Krishi Karman Award for five consecutive years and the average annual income of the farmers in Bengal has gone to Rs 2.91 lakh in the last financial year.last_img read more

Senior Forward Bloc leader joins Trinamool

first_imgKolkata: Senior All India Forward Bloc leader and former West Bengal Minister Mortaza Hossain on Thursday joined the states ruling Trinamool Congress along with his supporters. Welcoming Hossain, who served as the Disaster Management Minister during the erstwhile Left Front government, Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said his inclusion would strengthen the party. “He had applied to our North 24 Parganas district leadership. After obtaining clearance from our party supremo Mamata Banerjee, we are inducting him in our party. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “His inclusion will strengthen the party. We will use his skills not only in North 24 Parganas but also elsewhere to uphold peace, amity and integrity, and speed up development,” said Chatterjee, who handed over a Trinamool flag to Hossain, a two-term legislator. Hossain contested from the Barasat Lok Sabha constituency as an AIFB candidate in 2014. Hossain’s switching of political allegiance comes days after another senior AIFB leader and former minister Paresh Adhikari joined the Trinamool. Chatterjee said all secular persons in the state were backing Banerjee, whose role in confronting the communal forces was being lauded even at the national level.last_img read more

Want to lose weight Listen to the sound of chewing

first_imgIf you want to eat less, pull out your earbuds, stop the music system and switch off the television before heading to the dining table, and tune into the sweet sound of your food while it is being chewed.Researchers have found that the noise your food makes while you are eating can have a significant effect on how much food you eat.Therefore, watching loud TV or listening to loud music while eating can mask eating sounds that keep you in check.“If people are more focused on the sound the food makes, it could reduce consumption,” said one of the researchers Ryan Elder, assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University in Utah, US. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The study was published in the journal Food Quality and Preference.The researchers carried out three separate experiments on the effect of that “food sound salience”.In one of the experiments, the researchers discovered that people eat less when the sound of the food is more intense. In that study, the researchers compared how much participants ate while listening to loud music to those who were not disturbed by music while eating their snacks. They found that the louder noise masked the sound of chewing and that group ate more — four pretzels compared to 2.75 pretzels for the “quiet” group.The findings suggest that being more mindful of not just the taste and physical appearance of food, but also of the sound it makes can help in “nudge” consumers to eat less.last_img read more