August 2014

Elephant Biodiversity threat: The planet's current biodiversity, the product of 3.5 billion years of evolutionary trial and error, is the highest in the history of life. But it may be reaching a tipping point. In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event. Read more ....

Ramesh Raskar "Visionary" technology: Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a new display technology that automatically corrects for vision defects - no glasses (or contact lenses) required. The technique could lead to dashboard-mounted GPS displays that farsighted drivers can consult without putting their glasses on, or electronic readers that eliminate the need for reading glasses, among other applications. Read more .....

Flowers Tricking plants: Copious corn growing in tiny backyard plots? Roses blooming in December? Thanks to technology that the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Richard Vierstra has been developing for years, these things may soon be possible. And now, new findings out of the genetics professor's lab promise to advance that technology even further. Read more ....

Titan Space science: Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea. The new results come from a study of gravity and topography data collected during Cassini's repeated flybys of Titan during the past 10 years. Read more ....

Doing a good turn

I was returning home from office on my motorcycle when a pedestrian hailed me for a lift.

Now, I consider myself to be a good Samaritan; in school I was a Boy Scout and it had been ingrained in my mind that I should try to do a good turn every day. On that particular day no opportunity had presented to me till that moment to do a good turn. So, when the man hailed me, I was more than happy to stop and offer him a lift. This was a decision which I regretted later!

While driving I prefer to keep my mouth shut and devote my whole-hearted attention to the road. But my pillion rider was a conversationalist who liked to talk.

Within a few minutes, on being quizzed by the man, I had told him my name, my address, where I worked, my family background, when did I purchase the motorcycle, what was its mileage, how much salary I earned, ....... almost everything about myself. The man, a complete stranger at that, found nothing improper in asking me personal questions.

His incessant questioning was irritating me; I wanted to stop the vehicle and ask him to get down. But a Boy Scout cannot leave a task unfinished; I had offered him a lift and it was my duty to convey him to his destination. So, although not wanting to, I made a supreme effort to tolerate his chatter, and rode on.

"It must be boring to drive if you don't have someone to talk to," he commented.

I thoroughly disagreed with him, but good manners required that I nod my head in agreement. I did likewise.

"It must have been a very pleasant ride for you today since you had me to give you company," he said.

Pleasant! The ride had been sheer torture for me. But, again, good manners required I nod my head in agreement, and I did so.

By then, we had almost reached the spot where he wanted to get down.

"Do you always return home at this time?" he asked me.

I was about to say "yes" when I checked myself in time, realizing the dangers that the innocent question held. I did not want the man to lie in wait for me every day. "No," I said, "I don't have regular hours of work; I managed to sneak out of office early today".

"Oh!" the man exclaimed.

I could detect a certain regret in that "Oh", but I congratulated myself for my sagacity.

"It is unfortunate for you; if only you had returned at the same hour every day I could have given you company," he said.

I feigned grief at my misfortune, and made some clucking noise to indicate my sorrow. But deep inside, I was rejoicing!

We reached the man's destination and he asked me to stop. He got down and walked away briskly without a word of thanks.

Looking at his receding back I wondered whether it was I who had done him a good turn, or was it he who had done me a good turn.

Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission -
  • IIT-Kharagpur -
  • Indian Statistical Institute -
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras -
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad -
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission -
  • IIT Bombay -
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad -
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi -
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training -
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) -
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi -
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai -

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