October 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 ....


(This is a feeble translation of a story by Sukumar Ray)

One of Jaladhar's uncles works in the police department, and another uncle is a novelist who pens detective stories. Jaladhar therefore believes he knows all the methods required to trap a criminal - such ingenius methods which are unknown to everybody else excepting his two uncles!

If there is a theft in the neighbourhood, Jaladhar is the first to reach the victim's house. He, then, proceeds to offer some expert advice to the victim - who could have committed the theft, how the theft was committed, what would he have done to prevent the theft, and so on.

When thieves struck at Jogeshbabu's house and carried away his utensils, Jaladhar told him, "You have been very lax in taking precautions; your house is an easy target for thieves. There is a dark lane just opposite your house, and yet the windows of your kitchen don't have grills. It is an easy matter for thieves to carry away your utensils."

Having thus pointed out Jogeshbabu's mistakes, Jaladhar told him of the precautions he had taken in his own home. "Such thefts cannot happen in our house," he said. "I have told our servant, Ramdin, to stack the utensils against the window in such a manner that when anybody tries to open the window the utensils will fall to the floor with a violent clatter waking up the entire household. You must know of such tricks if you want to be one up on the thieves."

This simple strategy had impressed us very much and we were eloquent in our praises for Jaladhar. But the next day when we learned that thieves had struck at Jaladhar's own house that very night and made away with valuables, we realised we should not have been so liberal with our praises. But Jaladhar was unshaken; he put the blame on Ramdin. "It has been owing to Ramdin's foolishness," he said. "Anyway, the thief cannot hope to enjoy the goods stolen from my house. Just wait for a few days.

But two months passed and then four months, the thief was never caught. We had almost forgotten about the incident. However, all of a sudden there was again a spurt in thieving activities in our own school. Most of the boys carried lunch boxes to school; the food from the lunch boxes began to be stolen. Ramapoda was the first victim. He had left his opened lunch box on a bench and had gone to wash his hands; on returning he found that someone in the meanwhile had surreptitiously eaten the food. Thereafter, few other boys reported similar theft of their food.

We accosted Jaladhar and taunted him, "Mr Detective! What has happened to the super-duper brain of yours this time?" Jaladhar said, "Do you think I am not working on the problem? Have patience." Then he lowered his voice to a whisper and said he suspected the new footman, a young fellow, of the misdeeds. It is after the arival of the new footman that the lunch-lifting incidents had begun, he pointed out.

We started keeping a close watch on the footman; but the food pilferage continued. Crazy Dashu had brought mutton chops from home, and had hidden the tiffin box under a bench in the lunch room. Someone had opened the box and eaten away half the contents while scattering the remaining half on the floor. Dashu raised Cain in rage and created a scene in the school. We tried to hush him. "Don't make so much noise; it will only caution the thief and he will never be caught," we reasoned. But Crazy Dashu was not willing to see reason. Jaladhar tried to pacify him, "Just wait for two days; I will catch the new footman red-handed - it is definitely his doing." This assurance failed to calm Dashu; he became all the more angry. "You and your rusted intelligence! The footman belongs to a community which does not eat non-vegetarian food. Ask the watchman," he told Jaladhar. It was true; the fact had escaped us. We had seen the fellow cook his own food; not once had he cooked non-vegetarian food. Although we usually dismissed Dashu as eccentric, we had to accept this simple logic.

Jaladhar was not a boy who easily accepted defeat. He made a bold attempt to smile and said, "I, purposely, lied to you. A true detective never reveals his secrets until the thief is caught. I have kept the identity of the thief a secret."


Some useful links for
your career:

  • Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
  • IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
  • Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
  • Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
  • Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
  • IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
  • Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
  • Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
  • Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
  • Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
  • Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
  • Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu

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