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Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 08 Jul 2011 03:35
by ramana

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 09 Jul 2011 02:46
by MurthyB
The Google global science competition has attracted many submissions from India, as well as NRIs, and they were well represented amongst the 60 semi-finalists (7 from India, ~13 NRIs):

Google Selects 60 Semi-finalists for Google Science Fair Competition

The 15 finalists also have a good NRI representation (5), as well as one submission from India. Only 3 other countries, other than the USA amongt the finalists

Google Announces 15 Finalists for Google Science Fair

More here

Google global science fair

Congrats to all these kids!

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 10 Aug 2011 21:15
by Bade ... ement.html

U.S.-India agreement bolsters Project X proposal
“This agreement is the latest step in the deepening cooperation between the U.S. and India on a range of clean energy and scientific fronts,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “Working together, we will be able to further our collective understanding of accelerators and high energy particles, pursue new technologies and scientific discoveries, and advance our shared clean energy goals.”

As part of the collaboration to develop a high-intensity proton accelerator, Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory is working with Indian institutions on radio-frequency power technology. The new agreement also provides the legal framework to expand research collaboration in accelerator and particle detector research and development at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 11 Aug 2011 12:42
by Hiten
National Geographic had done a series about Science & Technology Research being carried out in India some time back

Indian School kids won an award at the International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC) organised by NASA ... prize.html

a documentary about Professor PC Vaidya

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 11 Aug 2011 13:03
by Hiten

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 14 Aug 2011 11:59
by Hiten
a Doordarchan program about Professor Yash Pal

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 18 Aug 2011 04:50
by ranjbe
Intersting article on Fahad Azad's invention of a robot to clean airducts in the latest Economist magazine. Azad's company is RoboSoft Systems in Mumbai. IN and Blue Star are customers.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 02 Sep 2011 08:01
by Bharath.Subramanyam

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 06 Sep 2011 11:20
by csaurabh
IITB UG team wins ASME Design Competition/Award

Team Members - ME DD students: Anish Kulkarni, 07D10026, IIT Bombay
Kshitij Thavare, 07D10024, IIT Bombay

Competition: 2011 ASME-Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition
held during 2011 ASME International Design Engineering Technical
Conference at Washington D.C

The competition calls for submission of a paper and a working model. Selected
teams are required to present their work as well as exhibit a prototype
model at the venue of the conference. The team was one of four selected
for the
finals and bagged the first prize at the competition.

Abstract of the winning submission:

The Project involves development of a new four wheel steering mechanism
for off-road or military vehicles. The steering mechanism employs
multi-bar linkages in the form of ‘mechanical logic gates’. A
vehicle equipped with the proposed steering system shall be highly
maneuverable as compared to a vehicle with a traditional steering
mechanism. The objective of this steering mechanism is to enable a vehicle
with the following functionalities:

1. Ordinary two wheel steering: Only front wheels steered.
2. Four wheel steering: Direction of turn of rear wheels is opposite to
that of the front wheels. With all four wheels steered thus, the vehicle
has a smaller turning radius than normal front steering vehicles.
3. Crab steering: All four wheels turn in the same direction. The vehicle
should be able to move sideways without turning.
4. Zero radius turning: Front wheels turn inward; rear wheels turn
outward, enabling the vehicle to turn in its place.

Competition: 2011 ASME-Student Mechanism and Robot Design Competition
( at

Conference: 2011 ASME International Design Engineering Technical
Conference (, August 28-31,
Washington DC, USA

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 19 Sep 2011 09:32
by abhishek_sharma

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 09:52
by Yogi_G
India's contribution to CERN project

I read this article first thing in the morning when I stepped into office. This made my day.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 03 Oct 2011 10:11
by sum
^^ Thanks a ton for sharing. Really heart warming stuff...

Meanwhile, Tai also getting a lookie in CERN:

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 00:00
by Varoon Shekhar
"^^ Thanks a ton for sharing. Really heart warming stuff..."

Yes, it is. Really impressive. But none of this gets out to the mainstream international media, including the dailies of the metros in North America. India is practically invisible, where CERN is concerned. I suppose it shouldn't bother people too much. The truth is the truth, and it will come out sooner or later. And in any case, intelligent, informed people know it.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 04:52
by Amber G.
^^^ Unfortunately DDM don't do great service by such articles...
For example, just to take something random quote for Indian Express article from the link above:
...That is because whether it is colliding particles in the 27-kilometre-long Large Hadron Collider (as part of Alice Experiment) or discovering neutrons that travel faster than the speed of light, Indian scientists are at the forefront of research happening inside those massive steel and concrete structures at CERN, nestled 40 minutes from Geneva...

Neutrons faster than speed of light? huh ?

There was a big news about neutrino ... (See my post in physics dhaga and the pp slide of the original lecture..(My son was present at the lecture ... see the link .. (Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam - Dario Autier PP)

The list contains about 200 scientists as authors of the paper, OPERA had contribution from 160 physicists, 30 institutions and 11 countries but did not have India, (or any Indian Institution/scientists name on this particular contribution.,.

Why not just do a little checking/editing before publishing such articles...

I am as proud of Indian scientists as anyone but why publish such articles without basic editing?
(In the past I have seen ridiculous claims like 33% NASA scientists are Indian origin.. or
Prof so and so have found that cow-dung absorbs nuclear radiation.. all being published in reputable media without even some basic checking...)

There is much to be proud of our scientists ...I wish our media do honest reporting without silly errors and needless exaggerations.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 15:24
by sum
^^ Amber ( madam?),

Are you saying that the Indian contribution is exaggerated and we actually have nothing much to be happy about?

Genuine Q onlee...

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 16:12
by Varoon Shekhar
"Unfortunately DDM don't do great service by such articles..."

The Indian media, or sections of it, may be inaccurate with details, and that is bad, it cannot be condoned. But their fundamentals are sound- and they mean to project Indian contributions. The international, particularly the Western media, don't have their fundamentals right when it comes to India,or other developing countries. They won't mention India at all with regard to CERN, unless it is some crazy story of someone in India committing suicide because they think the world is going to end, from the 'Big Bang" experiment. Is that story something to be lauded, while ( rightly) lambasting the Indian media for inattention to detail about neutrons, neutrinos etc?

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 16:21
by gakakkad
@ SUM The answer to your question is "Its Complicated" .

CERN does have Indian contributors ... I ll let Amber G do the talking about them...

As far as Indian contribution to science is concerned , I have always said , it is way BELOW potential ... Being a Doctor/medical scientist in the making I do feel quite strongly about it ... ..

To put it briefly the same there are people who hinder India's growth ... The same reason / people are responsible for hindering scientific growth ... I don't have the time at present to give a detailed explanation .. Someday I would try to...

I want you to read what the Indian press commented when Chandrayaan1 succeeded ...

A country of xyz number of poor people (the greatly exaggerated poverty stats of the country) cannot do science stuff and should feed its poor bla bla bla bla.......was the stand some of the ddm took ...Some channel went to the extent of calling dhoti roy and putting him on debate with some ISRO GUY...

Remember the Kundakulum controversy?all of a sudden people started worrying about a group of fishermen who are so much in love with the sea right next to the powerplant that they could not find any other place to fish in the 7600 km of Indian coastline..
What would happen if someone wanted to set up a CERN size cyclotron here...

How I wish these socialist mafia that are so much for interested in keeping India a 18th century village just have an epidemic of epidemic of communist mafia specific ebola virus with 100% lethality...And I am being mild here....

But there is hope....there is always hope...

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 21:58
by Amber G.
sum wrote:^^ Amber ( madam?),

Are you saying that the Indian contribution is exaggerated and we actually have nothing much to be happy about?

Genuine Q onlee...

NO, to put it mildly, I am not saying that. I am quite proud of that. (lions' part of my charitable contribution goes as guru-dakshina to my school (in india) which gave me so much in terms of education)

What I am saying and am sad about is DDM's lack of even the basic editing/checking while reporting. It does not take much, for example, to check that it is "Nayak" (and not Naik), 'faster than light' story was about neutrinos (and not neutrons), and if one is claiming that it was "Indian scientists" involved in that, at least, name them (after checking if their names are on the paper). Let me just say, even a few silly claims in any piece prevents it from taking it seriously. This is a disservice.
(Added later: May be I am a little harsh on this particular article so let me just clarify my intention is NOT to mock this article, just saying that some editing would have made it much better hth.. More troublesome are many other pieces which get published in our main-stream media.

Take for example story pf Prof Uttam (I gave the link before, let me give it again:
'Onions, cow dung reduce radiation impact') where the claim of gamma-ray absorbing cow dung is presented without even the basic checking..(Is Prof Uttam really a professor? where? Is claim supported by others etc...)

This is not an isolated news item, but just one example of countless laughable articles (like "Indian scientist who survived on sunlight alone for last 30 years is invited by Nasa to teach them how to do it" etc..)

What is frustrating to me, is while we (Indian main stream media, even brf) lionize some obvious fakes, we actually mock, defame, throw gaalis at some of the scientist who actually deserve our gratitude. In brf scientist like Bhabha, Anik K are object of scorn and gaalis, some literary worship likes of Busby.

Talking about CERN, check out who is involved in CMS and involved at Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, (google "neutralino remnants", or CMS, or UCD's involvement at CERN, or "H1 Experiment at HERA")...A respected particle physicist who was lathi-charged and kicked out from brf.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 04 Oct 2011 22:36
by Amber G.
gakakkad wrote:CERN does have Indian contributors ... I ll let Amber G do the talking about them...

As I said above, one of the respected contributors at CERN was lathi-charged, and banned from BRF.

Does protecting a narrow narrative, and ehh-and-dee of a select few, as many say the reason for the ban is, something to be proud of?

Something for us (and our admins at brf) to think about.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 05 Oct 2011 00:25
by gakakkad
^^^ That was indeed unfortunate ... even to someone with only UG level physics knowledge , it was readily apparent that the guy was no ordinary abdul... but someone with great in depth knowledge..quite possibly research experience... he dropped a few hints about his real life identity... and g-chacha revealed the rest...

He was not at all arrogant or grumpy or anything... tried to explain scientific facts in a simple language ...was always polite...

the worst part is wild allegations like scientists being on payroll of nuclear reactor co's writing fabricated stuff in science papers ... to do what ? one of the radiation oncology articles I posted is by a nobel laureate potential guy...

sometimes people have a weird complex... it causes it to disparage genuine achievers ... And make a cult hero out of "fringe scientists" ... (though this even happens in the US , not to the extent it does in India remember that texan joker claiming to invent perpetual motion )

hopes not lost ... the next 2 decades could bring amazing transformations .... the country needs to transfer from back office number crunchers to front line reseachers...

anyway folks this reminds me of something else.....There is an interesting physics text I read as a kid...

its called motionmountains .. The author (a german physicist) gives it for free ..(search motion mountains)... the 6th volume is regularly updated ...And it monitors new research ...Useful for non-Physicist like myself who are nevertheless interested in physics... IMHO even physicists will enjoy it...

I am tempted to quote a rather philosophical passage here..

"Parmenides’ collaborator Zeno of Elea (born c. 500 bce) argued so intensely against
motion that some people still worry about it today. In one of his arguments he claims –
in simple language – that it is impossible to slap somebody, since the hand first has to
travel halfway to the face, then travel through half the distance that remains, then again
so, and so on; the hand therefore should never reach the face. Zeno’s argument focuses
on the relation between infinity and its opposite, finitude, in the description of motion.
In modern quantum theory, a related issue is a subject of research up to this day.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 05 Oct 2011 01:01
by Amber G.
Here is another good piece about India's contribution to LHC, SPL erc projects at CERN (from cern's website) .. a bit dated but still good.

Even older one:

Or a picture is worth ...

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 05 Oct 2011 08:27
by Varoon Shekhar
"Neutrons faster than speed of light? huh ?"

Amber, good fairness to the Indian Express, they did "correct" this goof-up later on in the article, on page 2 or 3, where it is expressly(ahem) written, neutrinos that travel faster than light.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 05 Oct 2011 09:01
by Satya_anveshi
Amber G. wrote:As I said above, one of the respected contributors at CERN was lathi-charged, and banned from BRF.

Amber G,
Pardon my OT but had to come out of the lurk mode to say this. Used to be on different message boards long before switching to BR where sir ji was a regular along with moi (moi was a tfta admin too for one of those). Not just Physics (this nacheez hardly understands 6th grade physics :) ), but his views, wit and sharpness, and light hearted comments, are among his other contributions. Have to say, one hardly comes across a person like him even on www. I hold N^3 too with that respect.

However, found myself arguing over over some trivial (on that blog that you refer sometimes) matter briging out despicable behaviour towards him. I think the argument was about maintaing a burka over user handle provides flexibility to opine or something like that which was my take but should have left it there. I very often recall that and feel bad. If only there was a way to ask for maafi although he may not even remember me.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 09 Oct 2011 20:02
by Vipul
India to build world's largest fridge to house fusion reactor.

NEW DELHI: Indian engineers will fabricate the world's largest high-vacuum cold storage vessel for an ambitious international project to generate energy from a process that powers the sun.

The vessel called the cryostat will be home to the International Thermornuclear Experimental Reactor, the largest and the most advanced facility of its kind being built in Cadarache, France.

Scientists and engineers at the Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar will manufacture this mammoth cryostat in segments at a cost of 100 million euros and ship it to France for being assembled at the site. India is part of a seven nation consortium that is building the fusion reactor designed to produce 500 MW of output electricity with a power input of 50 MW.

ITER-India Project, a part of the IPR an autonomous unit of the Department of Atomic Energy, will make the 'in-kind' contributions that form India's share to the ITER project.The procurement arrangement for the cryostat was signed recently by ITER-India.

"The cryostat is very crucial to the ITER experiment.It houses the fusion reactor in its entirety, including support to all internal systems," Shishir Deshpande, Project Director, ITER-India, said.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 03:54
by Amber G.
From Hilary Clinton's remarks on US-India Higher Education Cooperation:

And there are so many wonderful stories. I’m sure many of you could tell your own, but I want to end with this one because it really hits close to home in an area that I care deeply about.

A few years ago, a small group of American and Indian classmates at Stanford University decided to work together to build a better baby incubator. Four hundred and fifty premature and low-weight babies die every hour, and traditional baby incubators can cost as much as $20,000. So the students developed the Embrace baby warmer, a portable incubator for use in poor and rural areas that doesn’t require electricity and only costs around $100.

After graduating from Stanford, this Indian and American team moved to Bangalore to continue working on their idea and launched their project. And it’s now in use in hospitals in India and saving babies’ lives. Their goal is to save 100,000 babies by 2013.


Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 14 Oct 2011 20:58
by Amber G.
From an email
The IIT Kanpur Alumni Association takes pride in sharing with all that a nanosatellite 'Jugnu' designed and fabricated by the students of IIT Kanpur was launched with the latest version of India's indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on October 12, 2011. 'Jugnu' has started communicating from 12:48 hrs onward. Its signal has been tracked at ISTRAC ISRO, Bangalore. HAM operators all over the wor! ld sensed its presence by listening to the 'Beacon' signal from it.
The details of Jugnu can be read at:
News items:

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 07 Nov 2011 23:14
by Vipul
India to commission 3rd research station in Antarctica in 2012.

Almost twenty-eight years after it set up the first permanent research station in the South Polar region, India is all set to commission and occupy third such station, named as 'Bharti', in Antarctica by March next year, a senior scientist associated with the project said today.

After 'Bharti' becomes operational, India will join the league of select nations that have multiple operation stations in the region.The National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research (NCAOR) Director Rasik Ravindra stated that the new station is located almost 3,000 km away from the existing 'Maitri' station which has been serving the nation since its inception in 1988-89.

"The construction of the new station is going on at a hectic speed. The current Indian Antarctic Expedition that sailed off from Cape Town on October 26, 2011 under the leadership of Dr Rajesh Asthana will complete the project in this Antarctic summer itself, hopefully by March 2012," Ravindra told PTI.

"We will occupy it soon thereafter," he said. The scientists associated with NCAOR had earlier carried out a comprehensive environmental evaluation (CEE) of the project for the new station at Grovnes promontory in the Larsemann Hills on the eastern part of the South Pole.Indian scientists will undertake cutting-edge research on geological structures and tectonics at the centre from the next year, he added.

The setting up of this station was taken up in two phases. Phase I materialised during summer of 2010-11 and Phase II in the successive summer. As per the CEE, minor and transitory impacts on the Antarctic environment are likely due to construction of the ambitious project.

Although 'more than minor and transitory impacts on the Antarctic environment' are expected due to construction, the impacts are expected to be minimised with measures like use of combined heat and power concept for heating and renewable energy sources, low sulphur fossil fuel, optimisation of vehicle movement, efficient treatment of effluents, bringing back hazardous and sanitary wastes to mainland for disposal and others, Ravindra said quoting the CEE study.

The proposed location is of interest on account of scientific and logistic reasons, ice-free terrain and easy access from the sea. "This area, including the islands and promontories, offer an excellent scope for extensive studies on geological structures and tectonics with special reference to Gondwanaland, palaeoclimatology, solid earth geophysics, space-weather and meteorology, oceanography, marine biology, microbiology, environmental science," Javed Beg, a senior NCAOR scientist said. "To facilitate the planned scientific studies, including environmental monitoring, the station will have state-of-the-art laboratory facilities," he said.

The station is designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions prevailing at Larsemann Hills and is compliant with the environmental standards under the Madrid Protocol, Ravindra said.
The Larsemann Hills area is marked by persistent, strong katabatic winds that blow from east to southeast during austral summer. Extreme minimum temperature recorded in the region so for is -40 C, though the daytime mean monthly temperatures during summer drop to around 0 degree C.

India had in the past established Dakshin Gangotri (1983) and Maitri (1988-89) stations in Antarctica. The former has since been decommissioned after it got buried under ice and has been marked as an historic site.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 16 Nov 2011 08:04
by abhishek_sharma

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 07 Jan 2012 02:40
by ramana
Boosting Indian Science

Boosting science

The prime minister’s lament at the 99th Indian Science Congress that China has overtaken India in the field of science should not surprise anyone.

China has always been ahead of India in the spread and standards of science education, measured by the number of scientific personnel and research work force, institutions of education and research, published papers and patents.

It also has an effective system in which the fruits of education and research are made use of by the industry. India has not fared well even against some less developed countries and so comparisons with China, Japan and others do not make sense. This is when the country has the world’s largest young population and when many Indians have proved that they can match the best scientific talent in the world, but only when they go abroad.

India’s R&D expenditure is a fraction of a per cent while it is 2.5 per cent in developed countries. The hope to raise it to at least 2 per cent was always there and was set as a target in Plan documents. The prime minister has again mentioned it. The entire science education and research system will have to be overhauled for this. Infrastructure and facilities are poor, the system is bureaucratic and hierarchical and there is no fruitful connection between teaching and research and between research and industry.

Even when industry has done research it is mostly, as in the case of drug manufacturing, reverse engineering or re-engineering. Original research has been scarce and the temptation to buy products ready made has prevailed, for various reasons. Crucial areas like defence have also suffered because of this.

The best students should be attracted to research and they should be incentivised and encouraged. A recent report said 60 per cent of Indian women with a doctorate in science are unemployed. Universities and industry should be encouraged to undertake more research and the government’s research institutes should be made more accountable. Science education and research and industry should have an umbilical relationship and they should complement each other.

The prime minister rightly pointed out that western corporates have set up world class technology hubs in India, using Indian talent, while Indian industry has not. Allocation of more funds, their proper utilisation and accent on original research are the keys to getting ahead in science.

Another key is getting rid of tyrants running the places under govt patronage.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 07 Jan 2012 23:10
by member_21708
India gears up for ‘exa-scale’ supercomputing ... ng_1633885

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 07 Jan 2012 23:59
by Varoon Shekhar
Nice info.
But when did India develop a peta scale computer? That's good news! Last I read, India was in the
giga and tera flop capability. Which computer reached peta scale?

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 10 Jan 2012 19:12
by member_21708
Indian innovator harnesses sea waves for power ... 51620.html

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 20 Jan 2012 01:17
by krisna
small pox vaccination
Centuries ago, in India, inoculation to prevent smallpox with cowpox virus was practiced by the Hindoos, and an accurate description of the procedure is given in an ancient Hindoo medical work.* The art, however, like many another practiced by the ancients (erroneously termed barbarians), became lost to the world until revived many centuries later in England by Jenner, whose name will possess lasting renown so long as the present medical records endure. Jenner's discovery, the result partly of accident, but also of close observation, laid the corner stone for preventive vaccination and serum therapy as practiced to-day.

*"Take the liquid of the pustules of the cow's teat, or from the area of a human being between the shoulder and the elbow; place it upon the point of a lancet and introduce it in the area at the same place, mixing the fluid with the blood; the fever of variola will be produced. This disease will be mild like the animal from which it is derived. It need not cause fear and requires no remedies; the patient may be given the food he desires."—Sacteya Grautham (a Hindoo Book of Medicine).

got the info from shadow warrior blog.
did not know that our ancestors had done the pioneering work here.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 20 Jan 2012 06:14
by Yayavar
Yes, and so the difference between Allopathy and Ayurveda is only of degree of development. Modern medicine is not a new innovation independent of Ayurvedic thought. I had read the description of Vaids with go-chechak (cowpox) in my Hindi text (NCERT) if I'm not mistaken. This was the basis of Jenner's experiment. I read elsewhere that these Vaids were stopped by the English (possibly after Jenner's vaccine became used) and there were small pox epidemics.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 16:07
by Hiten
A documentary about Satyendra Nath Bose

Varoon Shekhar wrote:^^^
Nice info.
But when did India develop a peta scale computer? That's good news! Last I read, India was in the
giga and tera flop capability. Which computer reached peta scale?

CSIR is looking for a vendor to build them a Peta-scale facility ... r-for.html

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 16:23
by Rahul M
krisna ji, I read somewhere that as recently as 17th-18th century, every year just before the usual epidemic time a group of vaidyas would set out from the cities and travel all over bengal to carry out variolation.

you will find this article interesting.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 24 Feb 2012 21:53
by Yayavar
Rahul ji, that is the reason I asserted earlier (2 comments above yours) that the 'modern' or 'english' medicine is not a swayambhu from the west but should be seen as a progression of medical knowledge from India (Ayurveda). Just like with Mathematics where it is much more apparent.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 25 Feb 2012 04:46
by member_19686
Chikilidae, Legless Amphibian Family, Discovered In India

NEW DELHI (AP) — Since before the age of dinosaurs it has burrowed unbothered beneath the monsoon-soaked soils of remote northeast India — unknown to science and mistaken by villagers as a deadly, miniature snake.

But this legless amphibian's time in obscurity has ended, thanks to an intrepid team of biologists led by University of Delhi professor Sathyabhama Das Biju. Over five years of digging through forest beds in the rain, the team has identified an entirely new family of amphibians — called chikilidae — endemic to the region but with ancient links to Africa.

Their discovery, published Wednesday in a journal of the Royal Society of London, gives yet more evidence that India is a hotbed of amphibian life with habitats worth protecting against the country's industry-heavy development agenda.

It also gives exciting new evidence in the study of prehistoric species migration, as well as evolutionary paths influenced by continental shift.

"This is a major hotspot of biological diversity, but one of the least explored," Biju said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We hope this new family will show the importance of funding research in the area. We need to know what we have, so we can know what to save."

His first effort in conserving the chikilidae was to give it a scientific name mirroring what the locals use in their Garo language. The chikilidae is a caecilian, the most primitive of three amphibian groups that also include frogs and salamanders.

"We hope when the locals see the name, and their language, being used across the world, they will understand this animal's importance and join in trying to save it," Biju said. "India's biodiversity is fast depleting. We are destroying these habitats without mercy."

The chikilidae's home in long-ignored tropical forests now faces drastic change under programs to cut trees, plant rice paddy, build roads and generate industry as India's economic growth fuels a breakneck drive in development. More industrial pollutants, more pesticides and more people occupying more land may mean a world of trouble for a creature that can be traced to the earliest vertebrates to creep across land.

Biju — a botanist-turned-herpetologist now celebrated as India's "Frogman" — has made it his life work to find and catalog new species. There are too many cases of "nameless extinction," with animals disappearing before they are ever known, he said. "We don't even know what we're losing."

Amphibians are particularly vulnerable, and have drastically declined in recent decades. The same sensitivity to climate and water quality that makes them perfect environmental barometers also puts them at the greatest risk when ecological systems go awry.

Biju, however, is working the reverse trend. Since 2001, he has discovered 76 new species of plants, caecilians and frogs — vastly more than any other scientist in India — and estimates 30-40 percent of the country's amphibians are yet to be found.

Within the chikilidae family, the team has already identified three species, and is on its way to classing three more, he said.

The chikilidae's discovery, made along with co-researchers from London's Natural History Museum and Vrije University in Brussels, brings the number of known caecilian families in the world to 10. Three are in India and others are spread across the tropics in Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. There is debate about the classifications, however, and some scientists count even fewer caecilian families.

Because they live hidden underground, and race off at the slightest vibration, much less is known about them than their more famous — and vocal — amphibious cousins, the frogs. Only 186 of the world's known amphibious species are caecilians, compared with more than 6,000 frog species — a third of which are considered endangered or threatened.

Even people living in northeast Indians misunderstand the caecilians, and rare sightings can inspire terror and revulsion, with farmers and villagers chopping them in half out of the mistaken belief that they are poisonous snakes.

In fact, the chikilidae is harmless, and may even be the farmer's best friend — feasting on worms and insects that might harm crops, and churning the soil as it moves underground.

Much remains to be discovered in further study, Biju said, as many questions remain about how the creatures live.

So far, Biju's team has determined that an adult chikilidae will remain with its eggs until they hatch, forgoing food for some 50 days. When the eggs hatch, the young emerge as tiny adults and squirm away.

They grow to about 4 inches (10 centimeters), and can ram their hard skulls through some of the region's tougher soils, shooting off quickly at the slightest vibration. "It's like a rocket," Biju said. "If you miss it the first try, you'll never catch it again."

A possibly superfluous set of eyes is shielded under a layer of skin, and may help the chikilidae gauge light from dark as in other caecilian species.

DNA testing suggests the chikilidae's closest relative is in Africa — with the two evolutionary paths splitting some 140 million years ago when dinosaurs roamed what was then a southern supercontinent called Gondwana, since separated into today's continents of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, South America and the Indian subcontinent.

Biju's team worked best during monsoon season, when the digging is easier and chikilidae lay eggs in waterlogged soils. Gripping garden spades with blistered hands, the researchers along with locals they hired spent about 2,600 man hours digging for the elusive squigglers, usually found about 16 inches (40 centimeters) deep.

"It was backbreaking work," said research fellow Rachunliu Kamei, who even passed out in the forest once, and some days found not even one specimen.

"But there is motivation in knowing this is an uncharted frontier," said Kamei, lead researcher and main author of the study paper. ... lp00000003

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 27 Feb 2012 11:31
by BSundar
It is probably from Dharampal's book (Indian Science & Technology in the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I, Chapter VII).


Rahul M wrote:krisna ji, I read somewhere that as recently as 17th-18th century, every year just before the usual epidemic time a group of vaidyas would set out from the cities and travel all over bengal to carry out variolation.

you will find this article interesting.

Re: India's Contribution to Science & Technology

Posted: 02 Mar 2012 05:40
by krisna
Jayant Baliga's invention is a power saver
Instead, he invented something that joined two sister disciplines: Electronics engineering and electrical engineering. That device was the IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor), a switch just like the ones in any house. It is just that the one Baliga invented is super-small, can switch on and off 100,000 times a second and handle really high voltage power.

Baliga's invention has resulted in cost savings of over $15 trillion for consumers. "Because of the IGBT the world has not had to build at least 600 hydroelectric dams of the size [of the] Hoover Dam!" says Baliga.

The device was considered such a breakthrough for GE that Baliga personally briefed Jack Welch. "It wasn't a very usual practice for a scientist to brief the chairman. He came down from Connecticut to Schenectady," says Baliga. Welch decided that the discovery should be kept a secret.

"I wanted to publish about the invention, but that was embargoed for several years. But GE also rewarded me by making me a Coolidge fellow, the youngest ever in the history of GE," says Baliga.

The extent of Baliga's contribution to the world and the US Economy was recognised in 2011 when US President Barack Obama presented him with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. This is the highest form of recognition given by the US government to an engineer.