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Monday, July 26, 2021

Cycling Gold medalist in Olympics Anna Kiesenhofer is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics

One of Tamil cinema’s heroes  cycled his way to the polling booth in Chennai to cast his vote – and people were talking about that !! .. funny, is not cycling a very easy thing !  .. .. .. in our school days, only elites had cycles and came to school in their bicycles.  In every area, there would be shops hiring cycle [it was 30 paise per hour !] – cycle was a vehicle for common man .. once a while in TV they would show the song from Pavamannippu whence Sivaji Ganesan would pedal a bicycle.

A wrong cliché those days – those who did well in Sports would not study well – rather if you show inclination towards sports, elders would scold that it would affect studies.  .. .. it was another fact that those days famed Cricketers Erapalli Prasanna, Srinivasan Venkatraghavan and later Krishnamachari Srikkanth among many others were Engineering graduates (long before the concept of Private Engineering colleges came !)

Do you remember your Maths teacher at School – I remember well, Mrs Bhagawathi at Samarao, Mr ST Padmanabhan, Mr Munuswamy, Mr V Chandrasekaran among others ..  was Maths the most difficult subject ?? 

The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a public research university located in Lausanne, Switzerland. It specializes in natural sciences and engineering. It is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology, with three main missions: education, research and technology transfer. The QS World University Rankings ranked EPFL as the 14th best university in the world across all fields in 2021.   


The women's individual road race event at the 2020 Summer Olympics was held on 25 July 2021 on a course starting at Musashinonomori Park and ending at the Fuji Speedway in Tokyo. 67 cyclists from 40 nations competed, with 48 completing the course.  The road race was a mass-start, one-day road race event.   The women's road race was 137 kilometres (85 mi) long with a total elevation gain of 2,692 metres (8,832 ft).

The race was won by Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria. Kiesenhofer was part of the original breakaway after having broken away at the very start of the race along with four other riders. She proceeded to drop her breakaway companions, soloing off the front at the Kagosaka Pass with 41 kilometres (25 mi) to go and holding off the late chase from the peloton. She won by 1' 15" over the silver medalist, Annemiek van Vleuten of Netherlands. Van Vleuten made a late attack with 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) to go, distancing the remnants of the peloton. She celebrated after crossing the line, having mistakenly thought that all the breakaway riders have been caught and that she had won gold. The bronze medal went to Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy, after unsuccessfully attempting to bridge up to van Vleuten's attack and holding off the peloton.

Anna Kiesenhofer of Austria produced the performance of a lifetime to win the women's cycling individual road race. The 30-year-old cyclist was in a race of her own, going it alone for the final 40km before coming home first in a time of 3:52:45.

By the final stretch of a gruelling 137km race, Kiesenhofer was ahead by over two minutes, with the chasing pack seemingly unaware she was out in front. Her face was filled with emotion as she crossed the line, a minute and 15 seconds ahead of silver medallist Van Vleuten, with Italy's Borghini a further 14 seconds back. Kiesenhofer has had an unconventional journey to the top echelons of the cycling world, having previously competed in triathlon and duathlon until injuries forced her to stop running. She holds  a Master's degree in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in England, and a PhD in applied mathematics at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Barcelona, Spain. However, her decision to concentrate on cycling has now paid dividends as she took home one of the ultimate prizes in sport at Tokyo 2020.

"I planned to attack at kilometre zero and I was happy I could get in front. That is something I could not take for granted because I am not good at riding in the peloton, said Kiesenhofer. "I am happy that I was not too scared and I just went for it. I attacked and with the group we worked more or less together - it was helpful to have a group. I saw I was the strongest and I knew I had the climb before the long descent.

The Austrian mathematician’s gold at the final seconds was assisted by the  veteran Dutchwoman Annemiek van Vleuten mistakenly thinking and celebrating  she had won. The 30-year-old who  holds a doctorate in applied maths from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia having also studied at Vienna and Cambridge Universities, held her nerve    

Anna Kiesenhofer  hails from Austria and is a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL).  Kiesenhofer studied mathematics at the Technical University of Vienna, completing her Master's degree at University of Cambridge. She earned her PhD at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia with her thesis on Integrable systems on b-symplectic manifolds. Kiesenhofer is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and is part of a group researching nonlinear partial differential equations which arise in mathematical physics. Truly vera level.

Five Red Tulips (Cinq tulipes rouges) is a 1949 French crime film directed by Jean Stelli and starring René Dary, Suzanne Dehelly and Raymond Bussières. The film's sets were designed by the art director Jacques Colombier. The plot was the murders of five riders during the Tour de France.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th July 2021. 

Appreciating AmbuRx Radhika Shastry - Mann ki Baat !!

The Nilgiris (Blue Montains)  district is one of the 38 districts of Tamil Nadu.   Nilgiri Hills are part of a larger mountain chain known as the Western Ghats. Their highest point is the mountain of Doddabetta, height 2,637 m. The district is contained mainly within the Nilgiri Mountains range.

Incessant rains in the Nilgiris district for more than ten days resulted in landslides at many places. The dams in the Western Tamil Nadu are filling to the brim, reported a Tamil daily on Saturday. The Nilgiris district has been receiving heavy to very heavy rains with thunderstorms for the last two days. The catchment areas like Avilanji, Upper Bhavani, and Ooty suburban areas are receiving incessant rains. Avilanji recorded 16 centimeters of rainfall while Naduvattam recorded 14 centimeters of rainfall on Friday. Farmlands at Kappathorai, Muthorai Palada, and Nanjanad areas are flooded destroying more than 50 acres of crops.

Moving away, the sirens of 108 Ambulance are heard lesser these days – a movie criticized stating  ‘pizza arrive faster than ambulance’ but that was abject lie,  sensationalism in a movie, nothing beyond.  108 is an excellent service in the State, comes much faster and the people of Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai too are to be appreciated, for in general, everyone moves out and makes way for the ambulance when they hear the siren !!  

Hyderabad Traffic Police have faced criticism following allegations that two ambulances were stopped to give passage to a VIP convoy. In the visuals of the incident that have gone viral, long queues of vehicles are seen waiting for the go-ahead at Masab Tank area in Hyderabad. Among them are the ambulances and their sirens can be heard in the videos.  The ambulances were reportedly going from Mahaveer Hospital to Virinchi Hospital when the traffic movement was allegedly stopped to let the VIP convoy pass. Local residents said traffic movement was stopped to give passage to the convoy of Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali.

People, especially those from the tribal areas of Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu have always faced difficulty reaching hospitals during emergencies. The hilly terrain and narrow roads restrict the movement of vehicles. To overcome these hurdles, a cafe owner in Coonoor purchased six-autorickshaws through crowd-funding and remodelled them into auto ambulances.

A Bengaluru resident for nearly 30 years and a senior professional in a timeshare holiday company, Radhika Shastry decided to retire to a quiet hillside one day. Years of working in Resort Condominium International had given her enough opportunities to see idyllic locales while location hunting for new resorts for her company. She homed on the Nilgiris. In 2017 - Café Diem started in Coonoor in January this year and is a cute, cosy spot with a to-die-for-view of the Nilgiris, reported Rediff at that time.  now that lady icon is in news especially with the Prime Minister making a mention of her in Mann ki baat. 

The woman entrepreneur, a cafe owner in Coonoor has crowd-funded six ‘autorickshaw ambulances’, customised for the hilly terrain and narrow roads of Tamil Nadu’s Nilgiris.  "AmbuRx has been customised in Jabalpur and it will run free of cost in Nilgiris. These will be very convenient for patients' movement, especially in the narrow hill roads. It will be very useful for non-critical patients as well as Covid patients too," it is reported.  Tamil Nadu Forest Minister K Ramachandran along with Collector J Innocent Divya inaugurated the ‘AmbuRx’ services on Saturday.

The auto ambulances have a separate driver's cabin and are fitted with a patient stretcher, attendant seating, an oxygen cylinder, drip hooks, a fire extinguisher, a first aid box, and a fan. Each of the remodelled vehicles costs Rs 3.5 lakh. In total, Shastri and her supporters, including patrons of her cafe and those who contributed to the social media campaign, spent a total amount of Rs 21 lakh to get the ambulances to the hill station. AmbuRx will be donated to the Ketti government hospital, Pushpa hospital (Coonoor), Kotagiri Medical Fellowship hospital, Hotel Federation Kinder Trust (Wellington), and 3-star ambulance services.

The cafe owner Radhika Shastri, a resident of Coonoor, told, “I came across these electric auto ambulances, a project of Vivek Tankha of Jabalpur, on social media, and thought the Nilgiris also should have such facilities. The terrain is quite difficult here and these autos would enhance mobility in the narrow hilly roads. I contacted the manufacturers in Jabalpur and asked customisation of the ambulances for the Nilgiris’ unique topography”. Then came the task of raising money for the ambulances. Shastri appealed to the patrons of her cafe, Café Diem, and also conducted social media campaigns.

The entire process of modifying the ambulances and their delivery took only 30 days. Six 470-CC Bajaj Maximas were remodeled for the purpose, with each ambulance costing Rs 3.5 lakh. Shastri spent around Rs 21 lakh to get the ambulances to Nilgiris. Once their registration process is complete, the ambulances will be deployed in public and private hospitals and NGOs in Ketti, Coonoor, and Kotagiri areas to help patients residing in remote villages.  I think AmbuRx can be very effective and deliver great services to non-critical patients,” Shastri said. Dr. Harija, Block Medical Officer in Coonoor, agreed that the AmbuRx can serve hilly areas well. “We have 108 ambulance services in all Primary Healthcare Centres. But this AmbuRx is focused on people living in tribal hamlets and remote areas, where roads are narrow and patchy. It will improve mobility in inaccessible areas,” Dr. Harija said. 

This is not the first time Shastri has helped improve medical infrastructure in the region. Last month, along with other welfare associations, she helped raise funds to build a 500-lpm oxygen generator unit in Lawly Government Hospital in Coonoor.

The auto ambulance service initiative of Smt. Radhika Shastry of Nilgiri district found a mention in Prime Minister’s monthly radio broadcast, “Mann Ki Baat” this Saturday. During the programme, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said, “Radhika Shastry has started the AmbuRx (Amburex) Project. The purpose of this project is to provide easy transport for the treatment of patients in hilly areas. Radhika runs a cafe in Coonoor. She raised funds for AmbuRx from her cafe colleagues. Today six AmbuRx are serving in the Nilgiri hills and are coming to the aid of patients in remote parts during the time of emergency.  Following the acknowledgement of the Prime Minister, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri L Murugan spoke to Smt. Radhika Shastry over the phone and congratulated her. Later, in a tweet, Shri Murugan said this compassionate gesture by her in Nilgiris will motivate others and also improve health facilities in the region.

Let us appreciate good things – hats off to Radhika Shastry.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
26th July 2021. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

PNG women lifter's unique achievement !!

Can you connect Cricketers – Wilfred Rhodes, DB Close,FE Woolley, GA Headley and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar ??

Papua New Guinea,  is a group of islands located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.  It is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world - 848 different languages are listed for the country, of which 12 have no known living speakers.  Though mining provides impetus to the economy, many people live in extreme poverty.  After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975 after Australia ceased to administer it. It became a separate Commonwealth realm with Queen Elizabeth II reigning as its Head of State.

Papua New Guinea's women weightlifter Loa Dika Toua made history on day 1 – 24.7.2021  at the Tokyo Olympics, becoming the first woman weightlifter to compete at the games five times. Her career started at 16, when she became the first-ever female Olympian lifter. At this year's games, Toua belted out a scream and smiled at the camera as she grabbed the bar weighing about 368 pounds.  "I am so proud of this moment, I hope the young girls in my country follow my footsteps," Toua told Reuters.

Her Olympic journey has taken her to Australia, Greece, China, Britain. She skipped the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, giving her position to her sister, but financial issues stopped the country from competing that year. Toua was  placed sixth in the 2004 Athens Games, her highest score.  "You can dream of attending one Olympics, and if you're lucky enough, you can make it to two. But I've made it to five Olympic Games, you don't even dream about this," Toua told Reuters.

The Tokyo Olympics will feature several trailblazing women, including Georgian shooter Nino Salukvadze, who will be the first woman at nine Olympics in any sport. Gymnast Oksana Chusovitina of Uzbekistan is defying age and odds as she continues to vault at 46.

When women's weightlifting was introduced as an Olympic sport in 2000, Papua New Guinea's then 16-year-old Loa Dika Toua became the first-ever female Olympian lifter. On Saturday in Tokyo, the now 37-year-old athlete did it for the fifth time. Wearing her country's flag colours of red and black, Toua grabbed the bar with a scream, lifted 167 kg in total and smiled in joy, making a heart gesture with her hands at the television camera that she said was for her children. "This would have been my sixth, but in 2016 Rio Olympics I pulled out from the team to give my spot to my sister. Unfortunately due to financial constraints of the country, we couldn't send our team there."

Amid coronavirus restrictions, her achievement in returning to the Games after previously lifting in Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London was witnessed live by just a handful of journalists, judges, coaches and other athletes - an achievement nearly thwarted after she contracted tuberculosis in 2013. Coming from a family of weightlifters, Toua was encouraged to get involved in the sport by her aunt. "I had just turned 16 when I attended the Sydney Olympics, and it was nerve-wrecking. It was my third international competition ever and it was an amazing experience, being called an Olympian," Toua said.

That list on top is that of Test Cricketers who had the most career span :  Wilfred Rhodes of England debuted on 1st June 1899, played across the century for 30 years 315 days playing 58 matches, followed by Close, Woolley, Headley and then fifth in the list is Sachin who played from 15.11.1989 till 16.11.2013 spanning 24 years and 1 day – playing 200 Tests !

In One dayers,  it is Sachin who tops the list 18.12.1989 to 18.3.2012 – 22 years 91 days – 463 matches in all; followed by Sanath Jayasuriya 445 matches in 21years+; Javed Miandad 233; Chris Gayle 301; Shoaib Malik 287 and P Arvinda de Silva 308 matches in 18 y 352 days.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar




Saturday, July 24, 2021

Horsemen, lake - and more !


Horsemen do interest us – Vallaravayan Vanthiyathevan was a famous horseman in Ponniyin selvan – one may not immediately recognize the other horseman at  Godavari in Andhra Pradesh – in case if you would be interested, do read this post :  


Come Summer, Chennai would be hit by water shortage – the home of millions of people coming from all parts does not have a perennial lake or river – and sadly no reservoirs to keep the rain water too. 

விஜயாலயச் சோழனின் பேரனான முதலாம் பராந்தகச் சோழன் சோழப் பேரரசுக்கு அஸ்திவாரம் அமைத்தவன். தில்லைச் சிற்றம்பலத்துக்குப் பொன்கூரை வேய்ந்து வரலாற்றுப் புகழ் பெற்றவனும் முதலாம் பராந்தகச் சோழன் தான். 

சோழசிகாமணி, சூரசிகாமணி முதலிய பெயர்களோடு விளங்கிய இவன், வீர நாராயணன் என்னும் பெயரையும் பெற்றிருந்தான்.  1011 - 1037 ஆம் ஆண்டுகளில் அமைக்கப்பட்ட இந்த ஏரி, 16 கிலோ மீட்டர் நீளமும் 4 கிலோ மீட்டர் அகலமும் கொண்டது. தொடக்கத்தில் 74 மதகுகளும் வாய்க்கால்களும் இருந்தன. இப்போது 28 வாய்க்கால்கள் மட்டுமே உள்ளன. 1445 mcft கன அடி நீரைத் தேக்கி வைக்கும் திறன் கொண்ட இந்த ஏரியில் இப்போது 935 mcft கன அடி நீரையே தேக்கி வைக்க முடிகிறது.  

அமரர் கல்கி தனது “பொன்னியின் செல்வன்” நாவலின் கதையை, அப்போதைய சோழ சாம்ராச்சியத்தின் நிலையை, சுவையோடு தொகுத்தளிக்க ‘வந்தியத்தேவன்’ என்கின்ற கதாபாத்திரத்தை கச்சிதமாகத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தார்.  அக்கதாபாத்திரத்தின் போக்கிலேயே நம்மை காஞ்சி, கடம்பூர், குடந்தை, திருவையாறு, தஞ்சை, திருப்புறம்பியம், பழையாறை, கோடிக்கரை, இலங்கை, மாதோட்டம், அனுராதபுரம், தம்பள்ளை, நாகைப்பட்டினம் என ஒவ்வொரு இடமாகத் தரிசிக்கச் செய்தார்.   இன்றைய தமிழகத்திலே, சித்திரை வெயிலிலும், வற்றிப்போன காவிரிக் கரையோரத்தில் தாமரையும் அல்லியும் மண்டிக் கிடக்கும் இரண்டு மூன்று குளங்கள் மிச்சம் இருக்கின்றனவென்றால், ஆயிரம் வருடங்களுக்கு முன்னர், நீர் மேலாண்மைக்குப் பெயர்போன சோழ தேசம் எவ்வாறு இருந்திருக்கும் என்பது ஒரு இனிமையான கற்பனை.    அதன் உண்மை பிரதிபலிப்பு தான் வீராணம் ஏரி !!  

The lake that  is referred is not within the geographical bounds of our city. But though it is 235 km away, it would be no exaggeration to state that it is Chennai’s lifeline, supplying roughly 50 to 180 million litres of water to the city every day. Nothing prepares you for its vast expanse — 11.2 km in length and 4 km in width (as per Wikipedia), and when full of water, it is an awesome sight. I allude to the Veeranam Lake, located in Cuddalore District. We need to thank the Chola prince Rajaditya for this.  – it is the Veeranam lake.

The man in the left is horseman fighter Vanthiyathevan .. .. and on the left collaged is a Britisher – the statue now stands at his museum that was  inaugurated by the then  Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Sri Nadamuri Tarakarama Rao on 25.2.1988 and is located in the building which was previously under the occupation of Executive Engineer, Godavari Head Works Division Dowleswaram.

In 1877, at the height of the Great Famine that devastated the south, a distinguished Englishman, recently knighted for services rendered to the British empire, yet again took a vociferous stand against the policies of his queen’s government in India. For years he had railed against imperial overzeal for the railways—a sophisticated scam that funnelled out Indian resources while delivering unconscionable profits to faraway investors—and now he was vindicated. For “we have before our eyes," he noted, “the sad and humiliating scene of magnificent (rail) Works that have cost poor India 160 millions, which are so utterly worthless in the respect of the first want of India, that millions are dying by the side of them." The railways certainly brought grain to starving masses, but the costs were so disproportionately high that nobody could afford to buy them—official profiteering perverted even the delivery of famine relief.

The British,  the man,  thought, brought “disgrace to (their own) civilized country" by their “grievous neglect" of India. He decided to make amends. When the Godavari project was sanctioned in 1847, he  asked for six engineers, eight juniors and 2,000 masons. Instead, he was allotted one “young hand", two surveyors, and a few odd men. Yet he persevered. “To save on masonry work," Jon Wilson writes, “he copied the method of construction" used by the Cholas. “Cotton created a loose pile of mud and stone on the riverbed, which he then covered in lime and plastered with concrete, instead of building up entirely with stone." The whole project was finished at a third of the cost initially estimated, till 370 miles of canals (339 of which were navigable) irrigated some 364,000 acres of land, transforming a dry expanse into the “rice bowl" of Andhra Pradesh.

Wonder who the man was ? - General Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton KCSI (15 May 1803 – 24 July 1899) was a British general and irrigation engineer.

Cotton devoted his life to the construction of irrigation and navigation canals throughout British India. He helped many people by building the Dowleswaram Barrage (Rajamahendravaram), the Prakasam Barrage and the Kurnool Cuddappah Canal (K. C. Canal).   Sir Arthur Cotton Museum has been built in his honour in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. The museum holds approximately one hundred images and 15 machine tools that Cotton used when constructing the barrage in Andhra Pradesh from 1847 to 1852.  

In the 1830s, (later Sir) Arthur Cotton, the engineer who later harnessed the waters of the Krishna and Godavari, studied the  veeranam tank in detail. He noted that there was no serious defect in the tank (this, 900 years after it was constructed) apart from the narrowing of the mouth of the Vadavar River that connected the lake to the Kollidam and the tendency of the bund to breach when filled to the brim. Interestingly, Cotton’s report is full of anglicised Tamil terms — totie (thotti or tank) and calingula (from kalingu or sluice) being two commonly used words.

In  1967, C.N. Annadurai, then freshly elected Chief Minister of the State, mooted the idea of supplying water to the capital city from Veeranam. He died in 1969 and it was left to his successors to execute the plan. The project, estimated at Rs. 21 crore, was then the biggest to be sanctioned in independent India. The contractor put up a plant at Tirukazhugukundram in collaboration with a Greek firm for making the pre-stressed concrete pipes. What happened next reflected no credit on any of the parties involved. There were allegations of corruption, delays in sanctioning foreign exchange and quality issues. With the DMK government being dismissed in 1976, the matter was taken to court, and in the middle of it all, the contractor suddenly died. The pipes were abandoned all along the Cuddalore-Madras route and were put to good use — entire families were raised in them and some others became latrines.

Today is Aadi Uthiradam – celebrating the birth of Acaryar Alavanthar who was born in Kattumannarkovil – veeranam lake is named after Perumal at this sthalam Sri Veeranarayanar.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th July 2021.