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Monday, December 11, 2017

Nobel Prize 2017 ~ the dinner and Google doodle on Robert Koch

The Robert Koch Institute,  is a German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention. It is located in Berlinand Wernigerode.  It was founded in 1891 and is named for its founding director, the founder of modern bacteriology Robert Koch.  The Institute prepares a report on cancer in Germany every two years. The institute also plays a role in advising the German government on outbreaks, such as the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

Dec 10th is an important day ~ for since  1901, the Nobel Prizes have been presented to the Laureates at ceremonies on this day, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death. As stipulated in the will of the Swedish-born inventor and international industrialist Alfred Nobel, which was opened after his death in 1896, the Nobel Prizes in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, while the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo, Norway. Since 1969 an additional prize has been awarded at the ceremony in Stockholm, The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, which was established in 1968 on the occasion of the Riksbank's 300th anniversary. The Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm has, almost without exception, taken place at the Stockholm Concert Hall (Stockholms Konserthus) since 1926.

At the Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm, presentation speeches extoll the Laureates and their discovery or work, after which His Majesty the King of Sweden hands each Laureate a diploma and a medal. The Ceremony is followed by a banquet at the Stockholm City Hall (Stockholms Stadshus) for about 1,300 people, including 250 students. In addition to the Nobel Laureates and their families, Their Majesties the King and Queen and other members of the Royal Family of Sweden are guests of honour at both the Prize Award Ceremony and the Banquet. Representatives of the Swedish Government and Parliament also participate.  In Oslo the Nobel Peace Prize is presented by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway, the Government, Storting representatives and an invited audience.

Mankind’s destruction caused by a nuclear war is just one “impulsive tantrum away”, the winners of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), warned on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over the nation’s nuclear tests. “Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?” ICAN head Beatrice Fihn (photo at the start of this post)  said in a speech after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear group. “The only rational course of action is to cease living under the conditions where our mutual destruction is only one impulsive tantrum away,” Fihn added. “[Nuclear weapons] are a madman’s gun held permanently to our temple.”

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have spiralled as Pyongyang has in recent months ramped up its number of missiles and nuclear tests. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump have taunted each other in recent months, with the US President pejoratively dubbing his rival “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”. ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs around the world, has worked for a treaty banning nuclear weapons which was adopted in July by 122 countries. The text was weakened by the absence of the nine nuclear powers among the signatories. In an apparent snub of the ICAN-backed treaty, the three western nuclear powers - the US, France and Britain - broke with tradition by sending second-ranking diplomats rather than their ambassadors to Sunday’s ceremony. Several survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings, which killed more than 220,000 people 72 years ago, attended the ceremony in Oslo. One of them, Setsuko Thurlow, received the Nobel on behalf of ICAN jointly with Fihn.

On 10th Dec 2017, Google is honoured the scientist who spent his life studying germs and how they cause infectious disease. On Sunday, Google transformed its logo into a tribute for Robert Koch, who received the Nobel Prize on this day in 1905.  As Google explains, Koch identified the bacterium for diseases including anthrax, cholera and tuberculosis. Koch is also credited with sparking a "Golden Age of bacteriology," during which scientists discovered the causes behind 21 diseases.

"Perhaps better than anyone else at the time, Koch understood that sometimes the keys to solving big problems lay in their microcosms," wrote Google in a blog post explaining Sunday's doodle. The doodle features potato slices, used by Koch as part of his research. The doodle also features a Petri dish with Koch's name. According to Google, Julius Petri, its inventor, worked as Koch's assistant. Koch died in 1910, five years after receiving the Nobel, according to a biography on the Nobel Prize website.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

11th Dec 2017.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Remembering Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar

கணிதம் பன்னிரண்டாண்டு பயில்வர்,பின் கார்கொள் வானிலோர் மீனிலை தேர்ந்திலார்;
அணிசெய் காவியம் ஆயிரங்கற்கினும்; ஆழ்ந்தி ருக்கும் கவியுளம் காண்கிலார்;

11th Dec ~  மஹாகவி சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியாரை நினைவு கூறும் இந்நாளில், நீங்கள் இந்த வரிகளை கேட்டதுண்டா ?  அற்புத கவி, தனது காலத்துக்கு முன்பே வருவன குறித்து தீர ஆலோசித்த தீர்க்கதரிசி  மகா ஞானி பாரதியார் தனது சுய சரிதையில் அன்றைய ஆங்கிலப் பள்ளிக் கல்வி முறை பற்றி  மனம் நொந்து கூறிய வார்த்தைகள் இவை.


Thiruvallikkeni ~ is the famed Divaydesam of Sri Parthasarathi – also is the place e where Mahakavi lived and breathed nationalism  – that was at Thulasinga Perumal Kovil Street ~ opp.  the entrance of Sri Azhagiya Singar sannathi on the western side of the temple.

Dec 11 – is to be eternally remembered for that iconoclastic freedom fighter - born in a small village called Ettayapuram on Dec 11' 1882 ~ the man who breathed freedom struggle.  He had a troubled existence, constantly chased by the British Govt,  was on the run – still his indomitable will and his concerted action mobilized masses, making them aware of the need for freedom in the Southern  India.

சுப்ரமணிய பாரதியார் ஒரு உன்னத பிறவி.   கவிதைகள் வாயிலாக மக்களின் மனதில் விடுதலை உணர்வை ஊட்டியவர். இவர் ஒரு கவிஞர் மட்டுமல்லாமல் ஒரு எழுத்தாளர்பத்திரிக்கை ஆசிரியர்சமூக சீர்திருத்தவாதி - தன்  காலத்துக்கு  மிகவும் பல்லாண்டுகள்  பிறகு நடக்க வல்லவை பற்றி  கூர் நோக்குடன் சிந்தித்தவர்.  குறைந்த காலமே வாழ்ந்தாலும் சாதனைகள் செய்தவர். இளமையிலேயே கவிபாடும் திறமை பெற்றிருந்த சுப்பிரமணியன்எட்டையபுர சமஸ்தானப் புலவர்கள் அவையில் பாரதி என்ற பட்டம் பெற்றார். அன்று முதல் இவர்சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதியார்என அழைக்கப்பெற்றார்.

வெள்ளிப் பனிமலையின் மீதுலவுவோம்; அடி மேலைக் கடல் முழுதும் கப்பல் விடுவோம்
பள்ளித்தலமனைத்தும் கோயில் செய்குவோம்;எங்கள் பாரததேசமென்று தோள் கொட்டுவோம்.

என தேசத்தின் பெருமை இயம்பி அதே நேரத்தில் புது சிந்தனையாக, தன்னைம்பிக்கை ஊட்டும் புது ஆத்திச்சூடியையும் தந்தவர் நம் திருவல்லிக்கேணி முண்டாசு கவிஞர்.  பாரதி, தமிழ், ஆங்கிலம், இந்தி, சமஸ்க்ருதம்,, வங்காள மொழி ஆகியவற்றில் புலமை பெற்றவர். பிற மொழி இலக்கியங்களை மொழி பெயர்க்கவும் செய்தார். இதோ புது ஆத்திச்சூடியில் இருந்து :

அச்சம் தவிர் ;  ஆண்மை தவறேல்;  இளைத்தல் இகழ்ச்சி;  ஈகை திறன்;  உடலினை உறுதிசெய்; எண்ணுவது உயர்வு;  ஏறுபோல் நட'  ஐம்பொறி ஆட்சிக்கொள்' ;  ஒற்றுமை வலிமையாம். .. .. .. 


Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi…. the greatest of modern poets  acclaimed that ‘writing poems is his profession’ – but lived the life of fighting for independence.  He was proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu, English, Hindi, Bengali  and French. He wrote with felicity in English. The poet was closely associated with many Swadeshi leaders in the south, including V.O. Chidambaram Pillai. When the British Raj clamped down on the Swadeshis, he took refuge in Pondicherry in 1908; Aurobindo and V.V.S. Iyer also sought shelter there later. In 1920, Bharati returned to Madras to rejoin Swadesamitran. He met Mahatma Gandhi and wrote an oft-quoted poem in praise of non-violence. But his last years were tragic and he died in obscurity in September 1921.

During his lifetime and after his death, his works were banned by the British Govt – following which Madras Presidency Police too issued orders confiscating his works. Opposing this in the house of Madras legislature in 1928 there was a debate in which many including Theerar Sathyamurthi participated.  However, it was a rare honour bestowed on him, as immediately after Indian Independence in 1949, his works were nationalized by the State Government; he is perhaps the First Writer to be honoured thus which eluded even Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. 

On this day, we remember the man with twirled moustache who dreamt and ignited the Nation towards Independence.

Jai Hind ~ remembering Mahakavi Subramanya Barathi.


~ S. Sampathkumar

MSD ensures that it is not India's nadir at Dharamshala

2,0,9,0,2, ** , 10,0,19,0,0 reads our scorecard and at 29/7 Indians were certainly looking at one of the worst performances ever in ODI Cricket, thanks to thala Dhoni whose 65 ensured that it did not happen as India ended at 112.  The soaring six to the 2nd tier brought some joy for the Indian fan, who otherwise felt choked in the  fresh mountain air of Dharamsala.  When the ball seamed a bit, Sri Lanka's opening bowlers - Lakmal and Angelo Mathews - repeatedly hit the perfect length: just fuller than good. On a surface with sufficient, but not exaggerated, lateral movement, that length becomes even harder to negate. Batsmen are indecisive with their footwork and therefore shot selection and that is what the scorecard reflects ..

Remember that the lowest against India was by Bangladesh, who were shot out for 58 and in that match Mohit Sharma (remember CsK) took 4/22 and .. .. and Stuart Binny had enviable figures of 4.4-2-4-6.

Some of you may know that spell by ex-coach Greg Chappel in that Benson & Hedges WS Cup match at Sydney way back on Jan 8, 1981- Chappel had figures of 9.5-5-15-5 – Indians were all out for 63 (their 2nd lowest) chased easily by Aussies losing just a solitary wicket. On that day, Gavaskar chose to play in middle order, Chetan Chauhan opened with Roger Binny, followed by Dilip Vengsarkar,  Viswanath, Gavaskar, Yashpal, Kapil Dev,  Syed Kirmani, Karsah Ghavri, Yograj Singh and Dilip Doshi.

If you are to worry of our worst performace, it came in ODI 1652 against Sri Lanka at Sharjan in Oct 2000.  Sanath Jayasuriya made 189 and Lankans made 299/5.  Chasing Indians were defeated by 254 runs, getting bowled out for 54.  That line up had Saurav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, Vinod Kambli, Hemang Badani, Robin Singh, Vijay Dahiya, Sunil Joshi, Agarkar, Zaheer Khan and Venkatesh Prasad.

Chaminda Vaas took 5/14 while Mutiah Muralitharan had figures of 6-3-6-3.  The lowest ever in ODI thus far is Zimbabwe’s 35 against Lanka at Harare in 2004; followed by Canada (36); Zimbabwe 38 again against Lanka, Sri lanka 43, Pakistan 43, and Zimbabwe 44 against Bangladesh; Canada 45 and Namibia 45 being the other totals below 50. 

The ** mark at the start represents Dhoni’s 65 which propelled India to 112.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

10th Dec 2017.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Google doodle on Dalda 13 photographer .. what is ISO ?

Today’s doodle is on a photographer born in 1913, under pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’ ~ nothing to do with the Dutch company’s vanaspathi, to which Hindustan Lever added their L making it ‘Dalda’.  People tend to take potshots at photographers whose no. is multiplying day by day .. .. .. only the numbers not the class.  Everywhere you see them wielding big equipments (or small mobile phones) station themselves trying to capture weird angles, pause moments after the ‘press’ – then rewind their equip to check whether the capture is ok – and perhaps one can click this iconic moment of their satisfaction, which may not be forthcoming easily !! – what does it take to call yourself a photographer, of course not a mere Camera ?

By capturing an object, one tries to focus on the subject - Focussing can be manual, by twisting the focus on the lens; or automatic, activated by pressing half-way on the shutter release or a dedicated AF button. To take an image, the mirror swings upwards in the direction of the arrow, the focal-plane shutter opens, and the image is projected and captured on the image sensor, after which actions, the shutter closes, the mirror returns to the 45-degree angle, and the built in drive mechanism re-tensions the shutter for the next exposure.

For those better humans using ‘DSLR’ (Digital Single Lens Reflex) – life may not be as easy as the digital cousins, who push their hand and camera inside the already waiting angle to click gleefully.  DSLR is a digital camera that uses a mirror mechanism to either reflect light from a camera lens to an optical viewfinder or let light fully pass onto the image sensor (which captures the image) by moving the mirror out of the way.  For a good photographer, there are challenges of setting up to capture perfect images and one of the all important 3 is ‘ISO’. 

In very basic terms, ISO is the level of sensitivity of your camera to available light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to the light, while a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your camera. The component within your camera that can change sensitivity is called “image sensor” or simply “sensor”. It is the most important (and most expensive) part of a camera and it is responsible for gathering light and transforming it into an image. With increased sensitivity, your camera sensor can capture images in low-light environments without having to use a flash.  One increases the ISO when there is not enough light for the camera to be able to quickly capture an image.

[real photographers, do not get angry, all the above info. is collated from some web sources and nothing of my own or to be precise not written knowing any of what is written !]

Now on the google doodle of the day ~  it is Homai Vyarawalla,  India’s first woman photojournalist whose lens earned her a reputation for the candid shots of India’s independence movement, the first tri-colour hoisting, the death of Mahatma Gandhi, and others which become a part of national archives. Today, google doodle in its portrait featured Homai Vyarawalla to mark her 104th  birth anniversary. (I still do not understand the sense behind celebrating birthdays of those who have passed away !)

Born in 1913 in a Parsi family in Navsari, Gujarat, Vyarawalla’s childhood was spent on various places as her father worked in a travelling theater company. Besides completing her education from Bombay University and Sir JJ School of Art, she started taking snaps of daily life of mumbaikers and in this way become a professional photographer. During the turbulent time of second world war in 1942, Vyarawalla was employed by the  British Information Services in New Delhi, and also started working with the Bombay-based ‘The Illustrated Weekly of India’ magazine where many of her black and white images were published that became iconic later.

The photographs that she clicked were published under the pseudonym ‘Dalda 13’. This number was symbolic as her birth year was 1913, when she was 13-years-old she met her husband and her first car’s registration number was DLD 13. A year after her husband’s death in 1973, Homai Vyarawalla quit photography and lived alone in Vadodara, Gujarat. In the year 1989, she lost her son and only child. The country honoured her with a Padma Vibhushan in 2010. The photo lady passed away on January 15, 2012.

Tailpiece : 
1.       The first known practical sensitometer, which allowed measurements of the speed of photographic materials, was invented by the Polish engineer Leon Warnerke – pseudonym of Władysław Małachowski in 1880, among the achievements for which he was awarded the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain in 1882.
2.      The current system of speed standards called ISO came into vogue in 1974. It defines  scales for speeds of black-and-white negative film and colour reversal films too alongside digital cousins.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Dec 2017.