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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

giant leaf for mankind ~ cotton sprouts in moon !


A small green shoot is growing ~   it is germination of a plant, that of cotton to be specific -  and .. .. is touted as ‘giant leaf of mankind’..baffling !!

No space mission has ever explored the far side from the surface. As such, it's the first chance to explore a mysterious region of Earth's natural satellite.The "face" that's never seen from Earth has some key differences to the more familiar "near side". The far side has a thicker, older crust that is pocked with more craters. There are also very few of the "maria" (dark basaltic "seas" created by lava flows) that are evident on the near side.   If you are wondering, it is all about Moon and Chinese exploration of the darker side. Plants have been grown outside this Universe,  previously on the International Space Station, but this is the first time a seed has sprouted on the moon. The ability to grow plants in space is seen as crucial for long-term space missions and establishing human outposts elsewhere in the solar system, such as Mars.

Chinese spacecraft named Chang’e 4 braked out of lunar orbit and slowed to a controlled touchdown on the far side of the moon, a first in the history of space exploration. The spacecraft landed at 0226 GMT on Jan. 3 (9:26 p.m. EST on Jan. 2).  Chinese Chang'e-4 has reportedly landed at a site known as Von Kármán crater, a 180km depression located in the far side's southern hemisphere. But Von Kármán lies within a much bigger hole punched in the Moon - the South Pole-Aitken basin.It's the oldest, largest and deepest such basin on the Moon and formed when an asteroid - perhaps 500km across, or more - collided with it billions of years ago.This event was so powerful that it is thought to have ploughed through the Moon's outer crust layer and through into the zone known as the mantle.  

 ‘Cotton’ the soft,  fluffy staple fibre grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fibre is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fibre is to aid in seed dispersal.  The plant is a shrub native to tropical and subtropical regions around the world, including the Americas, Africa, and India.  The fibre most often is spun into yarn or thread and used to make a soft, breathable textile.  Current estimates for world production are about 25 million tonnes annually, accounting for 2.5% of the world's arable land.

It  marks the first time any biological matter has grown on the Moon, and is being seen as a significant step towards long-term space exploration. The Chang'e 4 is the first mission to land on and explore the Moon's far side, facing away from Earth. It touched down on 3 January, carrying instruments to analyse the region's geology and now comes the news of germination of cotton ! .. the  ability to grow plants on the Moon will be integral for long-term space missions, like a trip to Mars which would take about two-and-a-half years. It would mean that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space, reducing the need to come back down to Earth to resupply.

The Chinese Moon lander was carrying among its cargo soil containing cotton and potato seeds, yeast and fruit fly eggs. The plants are in a sealed container on board the lander. The crops will try to form a mini biosphere - an artificial, self-sustaining environment. On Tuesday, Chinese state media said the cotton seeds had now grown buds.  China’s  official mouthpiece the People's Daily tweeted an image of the sprouted seed, saying it marked "the completion of humankind's first biological experiment on the Moon". Fred Watson, Australian Astronomical Observatory's astronomer-at-large, told the BBC the development was "good news". "It suggests that there might not be insurmountable problems for astronauts in future trying to grow their own crops on the moon in a controlled environment."   I think there's certainly a great deal of interest in using the Moon as staging post, particularly for flights to Mars, because it's relatively near the Earth," Mr Watson said.

Prof XieGengxin, the experiment's chief designer, was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post: "We have given consideration to future survival in space. "Learning about these plants' growth in a low-gravity environment would allow us to lay the foundation for our future establishment of space base." He said cotton could eventually be used for clothing while the potatoes could be a food source for astronauts and the rapeseed for oil.   China's Xinhua news agency said that the seeds were rendered dormant using "biological technology" during the 20-day journey from Earth to the Moon. They only began growing once ground control centre sent a command to the probe to water the seeds. Xinhua said the probe had taken about 170 pictures so far which have been sent back to Earth.

On Friday, the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) released several images taken by the probe including panoramic images of the landing site as well as video of the vehicles touching down.

Really an interesting news that could have far reaching effects for the future !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Jan 2019.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Win at Adelaide fashioned by Kohli and Dhoni


Today is Pongal ~ happy celebrations in all parts of Tamil Nadu ~ in fact today celebrated as Harvest festival across the Country.  In Jan 1988, in Pongal Test against a mighty West Indies, Narendra Hirwani made a dream-debut claiming 16 wickets (8 in each innings) and handing over a big defeat for the Champion side.  Today at Adelaide, Indian bowlers had another off-day.  Bhuvi started well removing Finch and ended up 10-0-45-4;  debutant Mohammed Siraj had a match to forget with figures of 10-0-76-0 while Kuldeep Yadav who initially bamboozled Aussies, ended up 10-0-66-0.  At a time when things appeared going Aussie way, Jaddu with mercurial alertness effected a direct-hit runout of Khawaja.

In this present tour, India started with the first test on  Dec 6, 2018.  Adelaide  is the capital city of South Australia and the fifth-largest city in Australia. Adelaide is a coastal city situated on the eastern shores of Gulf St Vincent.  Port Adelaide is a suburb of Adelaide lying about 14 kilometres northwest of the City of Adelaide. It lies within the City of Port Adelaide Enfield and is the main port for the city of Adelaide.  The city was founded in 1836 and was planned as the capital for British province in Australia; named  after Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen.  Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen (Adelaide Amelia Louise Theresa Caroline; 1792 –  1849) was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and of Hanover as spouse of William IV of the United Kingdom.

Around 4.40 pm – it was the last over and the first ball of Behrendorff was fiercely hit by Dhoni – a length ball on Offstump, Dhoni leaned back, cleared his front leg, bottom hand to the fore, ball went sailing over long-on and all of us felt so elated. That was Dhoni’s 50 and more importantly brought India score equal .. .. and how many times has Dhoni done that – hitting a six of the last ball of the penultimate over or off the first ball of the last over !  MSD’s fans went berserk.   ~  that was his 221st hit over the fence – 10279 runs in 334 matches with 69 fifties and 10 tons !!

Today it was  a tale of two captains at Adelaide Oval. While Australian skipper Aaron Finch failed again, unable to overcome what cricket great Adam Gilchrist described as a "glaring issue," Indian counterpart Virat Kohli composed his 39th  one-day international century, leading his side to a series-levelling victory ahead of an MCG decider on Friday.   MSD too shone and  was instrumental too, and despite feeling the pinch late in his side's run chase on a sapping Adelaide day.

Chasing 299 runs to win on Tuesday at Adelaide Oval, Kohli struck a sublime 104 from 112 deliveries as India reached its target with four balls remaining. Kohli's 39th ODI ton was followed by a typically ice-cool finish from MS Dhoni (55 not out from 54 balls) as India set up a series decider in Melbourne on Friday.  When Dhoni arrived at the crease, the equation read 139 off 118 deliveries. He took it to the last over. He hit the first ball for a six, and made sure India won the game. MS Dhoni was in his element in Adelaide and Virat Kohli was highly appreciative of him.

"There's no doubt that he should be a part of this team. When you haven't played so much cricket [recently], you take a bit of time to get back into the groove, and tonight was an MS classic," Kohli said at the post-match presentation. "He takes the game till the end, but only knows what's going on in his mind, he calculates the game so well. He backs himself to hit those big shots when required. So hats off to him."

India had gone 0-1 down in the three-match series and that loss had put a harsh spotlight on Dhoni's role in ODIs. He made 51 off 96 deliveries - although there were mitigating circumstances, namely he had walked in with his team 3 for 4 chasing 289.  The score card reads :  India 4 for 299 (Kohli 104, Dhoni 55, Maxwell 1-16) beat Australia 9 for 298 (Marsh 131, Maxwell 48, Bhuvneshwar 4-45) by six wickets.

Australia didn't make the early inroads they did at the SCG, this time Shikhar Dhawan peppered the boundary five times in a 28-ball 32 before trying for a sixth and lofting a catch to mid-off. After the early high tempo, the chase settled into a steadier pace with Rohit Sharma and Kohli adding 54 in 10 overs followed by 59 between Kohli and Ambati Rayudu. Rohit, who made 133 in Sydney, was starting to move through his gears with sixes off Peter Siddle - a wonderful pick-up off the hip - and Lyon, when he was caught deep on the leg side by Peter Handscomb, who judged it well coming out of the setting sun. The bowler, Marcus Stoinis, celebrated in a manner not dissimilar to Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk.  Rohit 43, Shikhar Dhawan 32, Kohli 104, Dhoni 55*; KD Karthik cameo 25* ~ the failure was Ambati Rayudu who perhaps should pave way for Shubman Gill, who is there as replacement of Hardik Pandya. 

The handling of the disciplinary issue involving Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul, suspended for comments made on a TV talk show, has created another flashpoint in the differences between the two members of the Committee of Administrators. While CoA chairman Vinod Rai wants Rahul Johri, the BCCI chief executive officer, to conduct the initial inquiry, Diana Edulji has said it should be done by a committee comprising the CoA and the BCCI's office-bearers. Edulji has been firmly against Johri conducting the inquiry considering the "grave sexual allegations" against him last year. A three-member ad-hoc inquiry committee did not find him guilty of those charges and he was cleared to resume work.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Jan 2019.

Adelaide ODI starts .. .. China hits lowest ever in Women T20I


Emergency warnings have been issued as a heatwave pushes temperatures into the mid 40s in some regions across the country. Adelaide is sweltering through some of the most extreme weather conditions; parts of Adelaide hit 38C by midday, leading to the summer’s first emergency alert by South Australia’s State emergency service. The mercury rose to 37C by 10am in some suburbs, and Roseworthy on the outskirts of the city reached 41C by noon. The warning is in place for the next three days - with temperatures set to soar to 40C tomorrow and 37C on Thursday, before cooling slightly to 29C on Friday.

The extreme heat comes as the Tour Down Under cycling event starts in Adelaide today.  The Australia vs India second One Day International is also got  under way at the Adelaide Oval.  Mohammad Siraj is making debut coming in place of Khaleel.

India lost at Sydney – some blamed Dhoni for his slow innings.  India's ODI vice-captain Rohit Sharma believes No. 4 is the "ideal" position for MS Dhoni as India continue to jostle with their middle-order combinations ahead of the World Cup.
Dhoni made 51 off 96 balls in the first ODI against Australia at the SCG. He added 137 in 28 overs with Rohit to repair the early damage after India were 3 for 4, but it was an innings that could again divide opinion on Dhoni's diminishing strike rates at the twilight of his career. As such, his form has prompted much debate following a lean 2018 where he averaged 25 with a strike-rate of 71.42, without a half-century in 13 innings. These returns were comfortably his lowest in any year since his ODI debut in December 2004. However, there is little doubt over his place in India's 15-member World Cup squad.

Normally a batsman would be grateful for an extra ball in a T20 match, but not this time. A miscalculation from the on-field umpires led to Michael Klingerbeing dismissed in controversial circumstances in the BBL match against Sydney Sixers at Perth Stadium.  Facing Ben Dwarshuis in the second over of Perth Scorchers' chase, Klinger fell to the seventh legal delivery of the over when he upper cut a short ball to third man where Steve O'Keefe held a low catch. The catch went to the third umpire to confirm it was a clean take, meaning there was an extended stoppage in play, and by then the potential of it being a seven-ball over had been spotted by the host broadcaster, but the Laws stated that the dismissal had to stand. A quick tally up of the previous six deliveries confirmed there hadn't been any no-balls or wides missed.

Law 17.5.2 reads: "If the umpire miscounts the number of valid balls, the over as counted by the umpire shall stand." Cricket Australia issued a statement confirming there was no way to overturn the dismissal, but send they would address the error in their post-match review. A CA spokesperson said: "It appears there was a miscount of balls in the over, and the seventh ball was allowed by umpires. As the ball was bowled it is deemed live and consequently the decision stands. The incident will be followed up in Cricket Australia's general match review process and feedback will of course be taken on board."


There is something to read about of that Group B match on Jan 13 at Bangkok, Thailand Women's T20 Smash : the match between UAE & China.  The score card reads :____________  what is unique ?

Vijay Shankar has replaced Hardik Pandya .. in Mar 2018 in Nidahas T20 tri-series final, he was playing for the first time with India needing 69 off 40 balls. Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman was the bowler -  Vijay desperately kept swiping across the line and missed four successive balls. Then went for a leg-bye.  Critics wrote badly of him on that pressure situation as it boiled down to 12 off 6.   5th ball Vijay was out, DK hoicked Soumya Sarkar over extra-cover for a 6 winning the match – an year earlier, Dinesh Karthik had struggled to score runs in Sri Lanka.    That is the game, one day the player trolled, and after sometime, he could be back with hard work and after a good tour against  a strong New Zealand A. 

The other player who has got a chance now is Shubman Gill whose rise is nothing but meteoric. Gill's first call-up to the national squad may have come in unexpected circumstances - with India forced to replace Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul - but it's something Indian cricket watchers had expected would happen, sooner rather than later. He is a raw talent and made runs stylishly in U19 WC; he was the   Man of the Tournament in India's victorious Under-19 World Cup run.  Gill's first innings upon return from India A's tour of New Zealand in December was a monumental 268 against Tamil Nadu. In the next match, he made 148 as Punjab nearly pulled off a chase of 338 in the fourth innings.

In that match : Women's T20 Smash at Bangkok, Jan 13 2019 - China were bowled out for 14, the lowest women's T20I total ever, sinking to a 189-run defeat against UAE.  The margin of victory was the largest ever in women's T20Is, pushing Namibia's defeat of Lesotho by 179 runs in August 2018 to second place. UAE had elected to bat first in a Group B game at the ongoing Thailand Women's T20 Smash, a 10-team tournament underway in Bangkok, and put on 203 for 3. China's reply lasted only 48 minutes and 10 overs, and featured six ducks with a top score of four. The tournament, which also features other fringe women's international sides such as Nepal, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Indonesia and Myanmar, along with a Thailand A team, is to provide much-needed game-time to the countries ahead of the ICC Women's 2020 World Cup Qualifiers.   The men’s team, in October 2018, had been bundled out for 26 against Nepal in the World T20 qualifier and Nepal achieved the target in just 11 balls.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
15th Jan 2019.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Zimbabwean cash crunch ! ~ 3 accused of stealing crore of currency from Mugabe


Prescript :  1)  A couple of decades ago, the Nation was rocked by scandals -  According to a chargesheet, CBI investigations revealed that Narasimha Rao, Satish Sharma, Buta Singh, Suraj Mandal, Shibu Soren, Simon Marandi, Shailendra Mahto and other unknown persons had entered into a criminal conspiracy to defeat the no-confidence motion against the then Congress government.  In July that time, Mandal received three gunny sacks and one suitcase in the morning.  The sacks and the suitcase containing hard cash  were unloaded and taken to the flat of an employee -    and after counting the cash,  they were transferred to  four suitcases.

Years later,  former Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, `Godman' Chandraswami and his associate K.N. Agarwal alias Mamaji were  acquitted of all charges by a special CBI court here in the 15-year-old Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case. Pronouncing his verdict in a courtroom set up at the high-security Vigyan Bhavan annexe, the special judge, Dinesh Dayal, said, "I find that Lakhubhai Pathak's evidence is not reliable and it has not been corroborated. His evidence has been constantly changing and there have been contradictions on vital aspects of the case. The inordinate delay in filing the case has not been explained by the prosecution."  - those days, the Q raised was can crores of Rupees fit into a suit case !!  ~ the currency and suitcase !!!

PS 2:  June 9, 1983. In one of the biggest upsets in the history of World Cup cricket, Zimbabwe, playing their first ever match in the tournament, beat Australia by 13 runs. They were unknown. They were unheralded. They were there to make up the numbers. They had won the ICC Trophy a year earlier, but who cared? Least of all the proud Australians. After all, Test playing nations were a different order altogether. West Indies remained the giants of cricket, England and Australia still balanced the power axis. Pakistan could be considered a dark horse and no more. Even India and New Zealand were not taken seriously.  But, therein lay an unnoticed caveat. Before gaining independence in 1980, Zimbabwe existed as Rhodesia, and it was in that guise they participated in the gruelling South African Currie Cup.  Their skipper was  Duncan Fletcher. A jovial 34-year-old left handed all-rounder, he was a far cry from the unsmiling, jowly, taciturn coach that he was to turn later.  India too were in spot of bother reeling at 17/5 before that great knock by Kapil Dev [epic 175 not out] saved them. 

Miles away, this politician was 73 when child, Chatunga was born.  If nothing else, he has always been an extremely proud man. He often said he would only step down when his "revolution" was complete. He was referring to the redistribution of white-owned land but he also wanted to hand-pick his successor, who would of course have had to come from the ranks !!  Robert Mugabe, who led the country's liberation movement, was in power from independence in 1980 until he was ousted in November last year at the age of 93. His years in office, first as prime minister until the switch to a presidential system in 1987, were marked by economic turmoil and the crushing of dissent.

For some, he will always remain a hero who brought independence and an end to white-minority rule. Even those who forced him out blamed his wife and "criminals" around him. But to his growing number of critics, this highly educated, wily politician became the caricature of an African dictator, who destroyed an entire country in order to keep his job. In the end, it was the security forces, who had been instrumental in intimidating the opposition and keeping him in power, who made him go. They were incensed when he sacked his long-time ally, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for his much younger wife Grace to succeed him, fearing it meant the end for them as the powers behind the throne.

He had survived numerous previous crises and predictions of his demise but with his powers failing at the age of 93, his former comrades-in-arms turned on him, favouring Mr Mnangagwa. Before the 2008 elections, Mr Mugabe said: "If you lose an election and are rejected by the people, it is time to leave politics." But after coming second to Morgan Tsvangirai, Mr Mugabe displayed more characteristic defiance, swearing that "only God" could remove him from office. And just to be sure, violence was unleashed to preserve his grip on power.  The key to understanding Mr Mugabe is the 1970s guerrilla war where he made his name.

In modern day Zimbabwe, people are suffering. Inflation is too much. Every minute, every hour, every day, the prices are just changing," said a wholesale trader.  KFC has closed its local outlets citing "these difficult times," while supermarkets have been rationing some items, and mining companies and other key exporters are complaining about a lack of access to foreign exchange reserves. At a time, when currency crisis has hit people hard, three  people have appeared in court in Zimbabwe, accused of stealing a suitcase containing $150,000 (£117,600) (Rs.1.06 crores)  of cash from the country's ousted president, Robert Mugabe.

The suspected thieves allegedly spent the money on cars, homes and animals. A relative of the ex-president, Constantia Mugabe, is among the accused, government-owned media report. She allegedly had keys to Mr Mugabe's rural home in Zvimba, near the capital Harare, and gave the others access. The other suspects were employed as cleaners at the time of the theft, which allegedly happened some time between 1 December and early January. "Johanne Mapurisa bought a Toyota Camry... and a house for $20,000 after the incident," state prosecutor Teveraishe Zinyemba told Chinhoyi magistrates court. "Saymore Nhetekwa also bought a Honda... and livestock which included pigs and cattle for an undisclosed amount."

Mr Mugabe, now is  94, and had been in power for 37 years, first as prime minister and later as president. Once famously claiming that a country could never go bankrupt, he was accused of enjoying a lavish lifestyle while presiding over Zimbabwe's economic collapse. US dollars are highly prized in Zimbabwe. In theory, the local "bond notes" that banks dispense are equal to the US currency - but in reality they buy much less. Since retiring, Mr Mugabe has had difficulty walking and has spent several months in Singapore for medical treatment. It is unclear if he was at home while the theft took place.  The three suspects have been released on bail. The AFP news agency reports that a fourth is still at large.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Jan 2019.