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

How to get bad memories out of your head

first_imgThe findings have a range of potential applications centred on enhancing desired memories, such as developing new educational tools, or diminishing harmful memories, including treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.Memory theorists have known for long that we use context or the situation we are in, including sights, sounds, smells, where we are, who we are with — to organise and retrieve our memories. But this study wanted to explore whether and how people can intentionally forget past experiences.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The researchers showed participants images of outdoor scenes, such as forests, mountains and beaches, as they studied two lists of random words.The study’s participants were told to either forget or remember the random words presented to them interspersed between scene images. “We used fMRI ( functional magnetic resonance imaging) to track how much people were thinking of scene-related things at each moment during our experiment. That allowed us to track, on a moment-by-moment basis, how those scene or context representations faded in and out of people’s thoughts over time,” said study lead author Jeremy Manning, assistant professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, US. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixRight after they were told to forget, the fMRI showed that they “flushed out” the scene-related activity from their brains.“It’s like intentionally pushing thoughts of your grandmother’s cooking out of your mind if you don’t want to think about your grandmother at that moment,” Manning said. “We were able to physically measure and quantify that process using brain data,” Manning noted.But when the researchers told participants to remember the studied list rather than forget it, this flushing out of scene-related thoughts did not occur. Further, the amount that people flushed out scene-related thoughts predicted how many of the studied words they would later remember, which shows the process is effective at facilitating forgetting.The study appeared in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.last_img read more

Goods vehicle hits minor at Nadia locals attack cops

first_imgKolkata: Tension was triggered at Palashipara in Nadia on Tuesday morning, after a school student was injured when a goods vehicle collided with his bicycle head-on. Locals allegedly manhandled the driver of the offending goods vehicle. When police went to the spot, they were attacked as well. A police van was also set on fire.According to locals, Rana Mollah, a student of class VIII was going to school on his bicycle. All of a sudden, a goods vehicle loaded with coal hit the bicycle as it came on the wrong lane. As a result, Mollah fell on the road and sustained severe injuries. He was immediately rushed to Palashipara Hospital and later shifted to Shaktinagar District Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedMeanwhile, locals allegedly detained the driver of the goods vehicle and started beating him up. Some of the agitators started vandalising the vehicle as well. Upon receiving the news, police personnel from Palashipara police station rushed to the spot and saved the accused driver from the violent mob. Following this, the agitators attacked the police. When they retaliated, locals allegedly started pelting stones at the police personnel. To save themselves, the police had to back off and taking advantage of that a police van was vandalized and then set on fire. Police personnel took shelter at a Panchayat office in the locality. Meanwhile, reinforcement arrived, rescued the police personnel and controlled the situation. Till Tuesday night, no one has been arrested.last_img read more

KMC bats for increasing green cover of Kolkata

first_imgKolkata: Mayor Firhad Hakim on Friday placed the Budget of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) for the financial year 2019-20, with an emphasis on increasing the green cover to curb pollution in the city.”We are constantly striving to promote Urban Forestry in the city, with a sharp focus on large-scale forestry on available land to make the city greener. We have made it clear that buildings can only undergo vertical expansion, so that some space can be carved out from the surrounding area. Instead of making garages for cars, it could be used for urban forestry,” the Mayor said. Also Read – Bose & Gandhi: More similar than apart, says Sugata BoseImmediately after taking oath as the city’s Mayor in December 2018, Hakim had announced that the civic body will be waiving upto 90 percent property tax, if somebody plants big trees on his/her land. The tax deduction will be on the basis of the land where the plantation programme gets taken up. The Mayor said that the civic body is drawing up a master plan for the city. “The master plan will be a map with details of every structure- mainly bridges and flyovers. The name of the agency responsible for its construction will be clearly displayed on it to fix accountability. The master plan is being prepared in consultation with Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), Hooghly River Bridge Commissioners (HRBC) and other concerned agencies,” he added. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataHe also stressed upon the simplification of deposit of tax under Unit Area Assessment (UAA) system. “We had introduced the UAA for collection of property tax but it has been observed that several citizens have still not been able to adjust to the method. We have sent officials to different states where this method prevails, to understand how it is being implemented there. I have also formed a committee comprising Deputy Mayor Atin Ghosh and Debabrata Mazumder to address the issues relating to tax assessment. Our objective is to make the procedures of property tax assessment citizen-friendly, so that people feel encouraged to get their properties assessed and pay tax on time,” the Mayor said.last_img read more

Why getting proper education is important

first_imgNew York: Parents, take note. If your child is getting proper education then it can enhance their economic decision-making quality, a new study has found.The study found that those who took part in the education intervention had higher scores of economic rationality, suggesting that education is a tool for enhancing an individual’s economic decision-making quality.”While we know that schooling has been shown in previous work to have positive effects on a wide range of outcomes, such as income and health, our work provides evidence of potentially additional benefits coming from improvements in people’s decision-making abilities,” said lead author Hyuncheol Bryant Kim, assistant professor at Cornell University. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfFor the study, published in the journal Science, the research team examined this hypothesis through a controlled trial of education support in Malawi which provided financial support for education in a sample of nearly 3,000 female ninth and 10th graders.”Using a randomised controlled trial of education support and laboratory experiments that mimic real-life examples, we established casual evidence that an education intervention increases not only educational outcomes but also economic rationality in terms of measuring how consistently people make decisions to seek their economic goals,” Kim said.Traditional economic analysis assumes that humans make rational choices. However, mounting evidence shows that people tend to make systematic errors in judgment and decision-making and that there is a high level of diversity in how rational individuals are.last_img read more

Siblings bond over trip

first_imgHow was the experience of shooting for season 2 different from season 1? At the time of season 1, web shows had just come out and nobody was willing to invest their money and take the risk. TVF was amongst the first ones to make a web series, so in that sense we were all under a bit of pressure. We got lucky as they liked the script, agreed to the concept, trusted us and gave an opportunity to make it happen. Secondly, Tripling was more like working with friends. The director was not from the company, and I had recommended Rajesh Krishnan’s name. He was sweet enough to agree and get on board. Director Sameer Saxena, who has helmed ‘Permanent Roommates’, was also involved in the first season of ‘Tripling’. So, working together with people known to me was amazing. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfOn the other hand, in season 2, the pressure had gone because season 1 did pretty well. The web series was being accepted and the audience had found some sort of connect with the characters of ‘Tripling’. In that way, it was altogether a different experience. Has the bonding with co-actors strengthened over the years. Can you share any interesting memory from the set? Yes, definitely. Not only because we have been shooting together, but also because we have seen each other grow over the years as individuals, actors and also in terms of popularity. In season 1, not many people were aware of who we are, or what our talent is. By the time we reached season 2, everyone knew about our work. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive As co-actors, we have developed a lot more trust in each other. We celebrated Diwali during the shoots of ‘Tripling’. We were in Sikkim and had no option to go home. So, we stayed together and enjoyed the celebration like one big family. You have worked in different spaces as an actor. What is one advantage and one disadvantage of working in a web series? I don’t see any disadvantage of working in a web series. The advantage is that you are a bit free as an actor and artist. You don’t feel like there is a protocol hanging on your neck. Just like our audience, who steps in with an open and relaxed mind to watch a web series; we as actors, creators, and directors also enjoy the comfort to express ourselves freely while working on that web show. This is definitely an advantage. The disadvantage earlier was that people did not want to accept actors from web series as mainstream. They weren’t considered serious about the art; but fortunately, the perception has changed now.What were your expectations from the second season? How has the response been so far? My expectations were not to disappoint the audience, and treat the story as organically as possible. I think we have achieved that. I also hoped that people would remember the characters, and it definitely happened. The response has been phenomenal. Well, there’s also a bit of criticism, which is fair and valid. We take it all, and perhaps try to make it better the next time. We wanted to make some sort of shift in the way second season moves – so that there could be a differentiating factor between the two seasons. But in the end, what matters is that the audience has really appreciated and loved the episodes. Did the success of season 1 create pressure to deliver something which could surprise your audience? Not really. There was no pressure as such. Rather, it was more like a responsibility to give them what they expected. People have shown so much love to all the characters and audience is really connected to each one of them (Chandan, Chitvan, and Chanchal). So, I was aware that I just cannot fool around with this story. One emotion you experienced while shooting for Tripling 2… I would have to say ‘Family bonding’. When we were shooting the first season, it was a very different space. During the second season, I really enjoyed the family vibe that this season so perfectly encapsulates. Even in terms of the shooting experience, it was like that. Amol, Maanvi and I were shooting together, and there was some genuine bonding happening. As I shared earlier, in the last schedule of Sikkim, we celebrated Diwali together. So, that feeling was constant throughout the season. After working in the entertainment industry for such a long time, do you feel the experience has helped you evolve as a writer? Yes, it definitely has. With time, you learn to use your experiences in life for the sake of art. Over time you become more observant than regular people – when you travel, when things happen to you. You feel and experience every bit of life. In that sense, it has really worked for me. Not just as a writer, it has helped me as an actor as well.After the success of two seasons, will the siblings be back for the third chapter? The fact that second season has done so well, I hope that third season happens sooner. We took almost 2-3 years to come up with the second season, but surely we won’t take that long to churn out the third chapter . Sameer Saxena is the right man to answer this question.CANDID TALKTurning point in your life’Permanent Roommates’One genre you wish to explore as an actor and writerActionA director you want to work withImtiaz Ali, for sureA movie/role you wanted to doAmitabh Bachchan’s part in original AgneepathIf given a chance. whose biopic would you like to be a part ofSatyajit Ray’s biopicYour childhood celebrity crushMini MathurTitle of your biography’There’s more to it than what meets the eye’Which is your favourite filmEternal sunshine of a spotless mindA superpower you wish you hadInvisibilityYour guilty pleasureDefinitely, eating!(Inputs by Sumeet Vyas)last_img read more

The Rise and Fall of the Medici – Renaissance Italys Most Powerful

first_imgThe ascent of the Medici family from poor wool farmers to vast political dynasty began with Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici. By all accounts a shrewd and innovative businessman, he started as a moneylender in Rome and used the dowry from his marriage to set up a private bank in the center of Florence.In the early 15th Century, Giovanni won the favor of the Papacy, and the Medici’s gained control of the Papal treasury, becoming the official bankers to Pope Martin V and many subsequent popes after that.Giovanni di Bicci de’ MediciThanks to its connection to the Church, the Medici bank became the most prominent and most respected in Europe, managing the money of royalty and the merchant classes.The bank was so influential that they issued their own currency, the florin, which became accepted for trade and commerce.Florence, Italy.The Medici were also at the forefront of banking innovation, which helped raise their profile among the rich of Europe.They were one of the first banks to implement double-entry bookkeeping and — thanks to the size of their banking network — they could issue credit across the continent at a time when money lending was a sin.The bank is considered one of the first multinational holding companies in Europe and at its heyday it had franchises from London to Constantinople.The Medici Wedding Tapestry of 1589. Photo by Vergil123 CC BY SA 4.0Banking not only made the Medici family rich, but it also made them extremely powerful. While Giovanni was a shrewd banker, his eldest son and heir was an even shrewder politician.Cosimo de’ Medici used his wealth and diplomacy to become the first of the Medici to rule the Republic of Florence from the shadows.Cosimo di Medici (Bronzino)Cosimo resisted having a political title but was widely known as the first among equals. An observer at the time of his rule said: “Political questions are settled in Cosimo’s house. The man he chooses holds office… He it is who decides peace and war… He is king in all but name.”The late medieval mark of the Medici Bank (Banco Medici), used for the authentication of documents. Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Ms. Panciatichi 71, fol. 1r.Under the auspices of Cosimo de’ Medici, the Palazzo Medici and the Duomo di Firenze were completed, and the first public library of Florence was built that was free for all to use. Cosimo also supported, among others, the artist Donatello and commissioned the first Latin translation of the complete works of Plato.Rich Interior of Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace) a massive Romanesque fortress palace in Florence, Italy.Cosimo’s heir, Piero de’ Medici, was a sickly man who had no love for the arts and was often in bed suffering from chronic gout.He managed to hold onto power in Florence for five years before passing it on to his son Lorenzo.Piero di Cosimo de’ MediciLorenzo de’ Medici was the last great ruler of the Medici banking dynasty, and perhaps it’s greatest patron.Unlike his father before him, but thanks to the education his wealth provided, Lorenzo was a great diplomat and became known as Lorenzo Il Magnifico (the Magnificent).Among his successes was peace between the northern principalities and a rise in the general standard of living in Florence.Lorenzo de’ MediciDuring his reign, Florence became the epicenter for arts. Great thinkers and painters of the Renaissance were welcomed and cared for at the Medici Academy, and Medici money financed almost all the greats of the era including da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo.The Angel appearing to Zacharias in the Tornabuoni Chapel in Florence contains portraits of members of the Medici Academy: Marsilio Ficino, Cristoforo Landino, Agnolo Poliziano and either Demetrios Chalkokondyles or Gentile de’ Becchi.Unfortunately, Lorenzo was not so magnificent at finances. After series of bad investments and shady dealings, the bank of the Medici fell into liquidation. By this time, the Medici dynasty was so powerful that it had branched out of politics in Florence into the Papacy of Rome.Facade of the Museo Galileo in Florence, Italy.The first of four Medici Popes was Lorenzo’s son Giovanni, who became Pope Leo X. The Papacy at the time was corrupt and power hungry; the word “nepotism” has its roots from this period of papal rule.Leo X was no different from his peers, and he seems to have ruled Rome as a kingship rather than a holy land, driving the papal states into unpopular wars and huge debts that paved the way for Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation.Pope Leo XIn keeping with Medici tradition, it was the Medici pope Clement VII who commissioned Michelangelo’s ‘The Last Judgement’ and Raphael’s ‘The Transfiguration.’He also approved of the ideas of Copernicus and was generally considered a good leader. Unfortunately for Clement, his rule coincided with the Sack of Rome and the separation of England from the Catholic Church under Henry VIII.The Last JudgmentCracks began to show during the 17th century, and the inevitable decline of the Medici dynasty had begun.They are perhaps most famous during this time for their patronage and eventual betrayal of Galileo under pressure from the Inquisition.By the 18th century, the pursuit of power had bankrupted the dynasty and infighting had decimated the line of succession. Europe was in turmoil and continued warfare threatened to overwhelm Florence.To save the centuries of artifacts the Medici had amassed, Anna Maria Luisa de’ Medici signed a pact, handing over the Republic of Florence to the Tuscan State and in return, none of the Medici property could leave Florence.Read another story from us: The Female Pope who Gave Birth in the Streets of RomeUnlike the Medici bloodline, Florence has survived the ravages of time and thanks to the art collections of the Medici, it is one of the main tourist destinations in Italy.last_img read more

A Divinity Student has Just Cracked a Baffling 200 Year Religious Code

first_imgA divinity student at Scotland’s University of St. Andrews has just cracked a religious code that mystified academics for over 200 years. Jonny Woods, a third-year undergraduate at the country’s oldest university, worked out how to read hundreds of pages of shorthand notes for sermons left by Andrew Fuller, a prominent Baptist theologian.Fuller published the hugely influential text The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, which changed the history of the Baptists.Andrew Fuller, who was born in Cambridgeshire in 1754, became a Baptist minister, and is best known for founding the Baptist Missionary Society. He was so respected that he was offered honorary doctorates by both Yale and the College of New Jersey — now Princeton — but he declined.Andrew FullerHundreds of pages of his sermons are held in the archive of Bristol Baptist College,  but until now they have been a mystery.“The 21-year-old, from Coleraine in Co Londonderry, was able to decipher the shorthand after an academic traced a longhand equivalent,” reported The Telegraph.After examining the notes, the academic, Dr. Steve Holmes, head of the School of Divinity at St. Andrews, found one headed in longhand Confessions of Faith, October 7, 1783.“Knowing this was the date of Fuller’s induction into the pastorate of a church in Kettering and that he would have been required to give a confession of faith, Dr Holmes wondered if a copy of the confession printed in a biography might help him crack the code,” according to msn.St Andrews University. Photo by rob bishop / St Andrews University / CC BY-SA 2.0Dr. Holmes recruited Woods to help him with the project. He was able to translate the notes, using the longhand version in the same way that the Rosetta Stone was used to discover the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphics.Dr. Holmes told the Irish News that when Woods told him he could read the documents “it was an astonishing moment.” Andrew Fuller was “the patron saint almost” of the Baptist church tradition, Dr. Holmes said. Woods, from Coleraine, said it was an honor to be the first person to read Fuller’s sermons and allow people to get an insight into “this incredible man and the amazing stories he has to share.”Fuller’s early sermons have only survived in shorthand form. Photo by St Andrews University“I’m excited to continue working on the vast collection of work that he has left to us, in the hope that we can understand more about his thinking and how this developed throughout his ministry,” he added.While Fuller wrote a number of important works before his death in 1815, his early sermons and other documents have survived just as shorthand notes.After just a few weeks Woods was able to translate the shorthand, allowing him to read two of the most historically significant sermons.“It is hoped that being able to finally read the documents will offer insight into Fuller’s meteoric rise within the Baptist denomination, by revealing the early development of his thought,” reported msn.Read another story from us: Famed Art Detective Finds ‘Priceless’ Spanish Religious Art in a Noble English GardenDr. Holmes said, “To be reading words of his that no-one had read since he preached them in 1782 — it’s one of those moments you live for as an academic.”The translations of two sermons are now with the Baptist Quarterly under consideration for publication. Dr Holmes is continuing to edit Fuller’s collection of sermons for a new edition of his works.Nancy Bilyeau, a former staff editor at Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, and InStyle, has written a trilogy of historical thrillers for Touchstone Books. Her new book, The Blue, is a spy story set in the 18th-century porcelain world. For more information, go to www.nancybilyeau.comlast_img read more

The Ugliest Royal Portraits in History

first_imgThe tradition of painting kings, queens, emperors, as well as their family and relatives, goes right back to the very beginnings of civilization. Art has been in the service of rulers for as long as history remembers, since ancient realms of Egypt, China, and Mesopotamia. While art flourished due to the sponsorship of various figures of power, the will of monarchs often left little space for innovation and limited the artist’s imagination within strict norms and already established standards.It was not uncommon for powerful figures to demand that their portrait showed them in the most flattering way — on the other hand, sometimes the artists’ hand produced, shall we say, awkward results. Portraits that were not so flattering in terms of ruler’s appearance, often presenting physical flaws, sometimes managed to slip through and pass as suitable.Archduchess Maria Anna of Bavaria by an Unknown Artist, c. 1600Emperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire by Benjamin von Block, c. 1670Ferdinand II of Aragon, “the Catholic”James II of ScotlandEmperor Leopold I of the Holy Roman Empire by Jan Thomas, 1667King Charles II of Spain by Luca Giordano, 1693How they continued to form a monarch’s public image is another issue altogether. While some artists simply lacked skill, others just failed to represent their subjects in a rather improved manner. Some, like 19th century Spanish painter Francisco Goya, intentionally painted their subjects to look ugly out of contempt for their disinterest in the common folk.This form of not-so-subtle critique was reserved only for court jesters and artists, as their expertise and apparent benevolence acquitted them from punishment in most cases. Sometimes it was just really hard to re-imagine a rulers image, as some of them were born with apparent deformities, often as a result of inbreeding.King George III of Great Britain by Henry Meyer, 1817King Henry VIII by Peter Isselburg and Cornelis Metsys, 1646Since the knowledge of human genetics was less than nothing until modern times, inbreeding was common for royal families, as marriage was seen only as an extended arm of diplomacy and politics. Perhaps the most famous case of such deformity is the so-called “Habsburg Jaw”, or mandibular prognathism ― a physical trait that resulted from generations of incestuous relationships.It manifested as a prominent protrusion of the lower jaw. The tradition of sitting for portraits is still maintained by royal families that continue to rule certain countries, like Great Britain.King Philip IV of Spain by Diego Velázquez, 1643King Philip IV of Spain by Gaspar de Crayer, 1627-28Queen Elizabeth I of England by an Unknown Artist, 16th centuryQueen Elizabeth I of England by an Unknown Artist, c. 1610Prince Frederik (VII) of DenmarkPortrait of the Emperor Maximilian I by Bernhard StrigelQueen Elizabeth I of England by William Rogers, 1595-1603Related Video: 24 Ultimate Shakespeare Insults and PutdownsAnd just as in the old days, debates occur once in a while in judging the portrayal of beloved royal figures.Read another story from us: Famous Royal Marriages that Famously FailedOne of the most recent of such debates was sparked in 2013 when a number of critics posed the question of whether or not a portrait of Kate Middleton was actually worthy of representing the Duchess of Cambridge. However, if you pay attention to the entries on this list, you might just cut the artist who painted the Duchess some slack.last_img read more

Fascinating Photos of Chiefs and Warriors of the Sioux Tribe

first_imgThe Sioux are one of the many Native American nations that lived in the Great Plains. There are many smaller tribes united in the Sioux tribe and are often referred to as the Seven Council Fires. They were all known for their hunting and warrior culture, and for fighting fiercely against the U.S. Army. In the past, they lived on the territory of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois, and Nebraska.Black Foot, Standing Bear, Big Eagle – photographer Frank A. Rinehart. Photo by Boston Public Library  CC BY-SA 2.0Chief Bone Necklace an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 1899Afraid Of The Bear Ma To-Ko KepaThe war for their homeland began in the 17th century when Frenchman Jean Duluth moved into their territory and occupied their land. In that fight for their land, there were some notable Indian chiefs and warriors who exceeded in their bravery and wisdom. Some of the most famous names were Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Lone Horn, Flying Hawk, Crazy Horse, and Spotted Elk.Thanks to photography, their portraits remain with us to this day, to remind us of their history, struggle, and love for their home. There are many names that deserve to be on the list, but here are some of the most essential characters in the history of the Native Americans.One of the most important leaders of the Sioux Indian Tribe was Chief Red Cloud, war leader who became an important part of history for fighting in the battle between the U.S. government and the Native Americans during the 19th century. He is most known for his two-year-long standing opposition to the Bozeman Trail through the territory of Montana, a period known as Red Cloud’s War.Lost Medicine-Wancan-Ya-Kea. Oncapapa, SiouxWhirling Hawk, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowShooting Pieces, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowSammy Lone Bear, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowSammy Lone Bear, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowKills Close to the Lodge, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowAnother famous member of the Sioux Tribe was Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota leader and medicine man who also led his people during years of resistance to United States government policies. He is remembered for defeating the federal troops under George Armstrong Custer in the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn.Crazy Horse was a celebrated warrior, the son of an Oglala Sioux shaman, known for his resistance against the planned removal to a reservation in the Black Hills.He stood in the center of many decisive battles, bringing a great victory to the Lakota tribe, and defeating Captain William J. Fetterman and his 80 men, embarrassing the U.S. military.Flying Hawk was also an Oglala Sioux warrior, philosopher, educator, and historian. Besides his courage, Flying Hawk remains known for his written records of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the Wounded Knee Massacre. Reportedly, in the period from 1898 to 1940, he traveled throughout the territory of Europe and America, presenting and spreading the authenticity of the Lakota culture.Joe Black Fox, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowJoe Black Fox, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowJoe Black Fox, a Sioux Indian from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowIron White Man, a Sioux Native American from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West ShowFlying Hawk, Sioux American IndianChief Little-Wound. Oglala Sioux photographed in Washington D.C., 1877Chief Goes To War, Chief Hollow Horn Bear, Sioux. Studio portrait photographed by Frank A. Rinehart. Photo by Boston Public Library CC BY 2.0Afraid of Eagle (Sioux). Photo by BPL CC BY 2.0Unfortunately, despite the effort and courage of all these wise and brave men, the Sioux Indian Tribe, just like most of the Native Americans, was forced away from their homelands.Related Article: 25 beautiful pictures of the ApacheHowever, to this day, this tribe shines in its glory of the past days, leaving a strong mark on American history and culture. Today there are three main groups of Sioux Indian tribe including Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota.last_img read more

VIDEO Boston fan makes Decision to burn preordered Markelle Fultz jersey after

first_imgIn the aftermath of LeBron James ‘The Decision’ to leave the Cavs for the Heat, images of Cleveland fans burning LeBron James jerseys in the streets went viral. Even though many disagreed with fans taking the torch to James’ jerseys, the visceral reaction was a product of an emotional connection formed from watching him play for 8 seasons.Following the Celtics finalizing a deal to trade the #1 pick in the upcoming draft to Philadelphia – presumed to be Markelle Fultz from Washington – one Celts fans was left with a now useless, pre-ordered Fultz jersey.He decided the best course of action wasn’t to put it on EBay, but rather to burn it. It seems a little over the top since Fultz never played a minute for Boston, but no one ever accused fans of being  rational.With Danny Ainge poised to make plenty of deals this offseason, it’s probably best to wait until the contract is signed before investing in more jerseys.Not only can you buy a Markelle Fultz Celtics jersey before the draft, you can apparently burn one as well ?? (?:GreenRunsDeep/IG) pic.twitter.com/BYZteLA3dJ— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 18, 2017last_img read more