El Niño – Bringing up baby

IT IS a long way from the western Pacific Ocean to the flooded streets of Buenos Aires where, this month, the city’s Good Samaritans have been distributing food and candles by kayak after some unseasonably heavy rain. But there is a link. Its name is El Niño.

El Niño (Spanish for “The Boy”) is a Pacific-wide phenomenon that has global consequences. A Niño happens when warm water that has accumulated on the west side of the Pacific floods eastward with the abatement of the westerly trade winds which penned it up. (The long, dark equatorial streak on the map above, which shows sea-surface temperatures for August 10th-16th, indicates this.) The trade winds, and their decrease or reversal, are part of a cycle called ENSO (El Niño Southern Oscillation).

The consequences of this phase of ENSO include heavy rain in south-eastern South America, western North America and eastern Africa, and drought in Australia, India and Indonesia. Another consequence, around Christmastide, is the sudden disappearance of the food supply of the Pacific.

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via The Economist.

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Mysore tops Swachh Bharat rankings for 476 cities

Mysore city in Karnataka has topped the Swachh Bharat Rankings of 476 cities in the country with three more from the State figuring in the top 10. West Bengal does well with 25 cities/towns from the State finding a place in the top 100 cities. These rankings are based on the extent of open defecation and solid waste management practices in these cities. The city of Mysore leads the cities with minimal open defecation and extensive adoption of solid waste management practices.

39 cities from the Southern states are among the top 100 followed by 27 from the East, 15 from the West, 12 from the North and 7 from the North-Eastern States.

15 of the 27 capital cities surveyed figured among the top 100 performers while five were ranked beyond 300. Bengaluru leads the list of capitals at 7th rank while Patna came at the bottom at 429.

Among the bottom 100 cities, 74 are from the North, 21 from the East, 3 from the West and 2 from the South.

The top 10 ranked cities being : Mysore, Thiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), Navi Mumbai, Kochi (Kerala), Hassan, Mandya and Bengaluru from Karnataka, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala), Halisahar (West Bengal) and Gangtok (Sikkim) in that order.

Damoh (Madhya Pradesh) came at the bottom of 476, preceded by Bhind(MP), Palwal and Bhiwani, both in Haryana, Chittaurgarh (Rajasthan), Bulandshahar (UP), Neemuch (MP), Rewari(Haryana), Hindaun (Rajasthan) and Sambalpur in Odisha at 467th rank.

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via PTI News

Govt finalises list of new icons for postage stamps

In a departure from showcasing the Nehru-Gandhi family on the postage stamps, the BJP-led NDA government has decided to give a place of pride to other political icons including Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Ram Manohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan, B R Ambedkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. These national heroes will also now been seen on definitive stamps that are issued for daily use.

The government is also considering a commemorative stamp on legendary Communist leader Bhupesh Gupta on the occasion of his birth centenary year, following a request from the CPI leadership.

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ViaThe Times of India

Why will June 30 be one second longer?

NASA has explained that 30 June 2015 will officially be a bit longer than usual because an extra second or “leap” second will be added.

Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt said that Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that.

A day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in their daily lives, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is “atomic time,” the duration of one second is based on extremely predictable electromagnetic transitions in atoms of cesium.

These transitions are so reliable that the cesium clock is accurate to one second in 1,400,000 years.

However, the mean solar day, the average length of a day, based on how long it takes Earth to rotate, is about 86,400.002 seconds long. Scientists estimate that the mean solar day hasn’t been 86,400 seconds long since the year 1820 or so.

The leap second will be added to June 30 at 11:59:59 UTC on the dot. What this means is that, rather than switch to a brand new day, the atomic clocks that scientists rely on to keep track of time will also show 11:59:60 UTC.

The reason some days need be made to last 86,401 seconds instead of just 86,400 is because otherwise atomic clocks might become out of sync with Earth’s rotation.

But for this extra second, the Coordinated Universal Time measured by atomic clocks could over the years become so out of sync with Earth’s rotation that it would show noon instead of midday.

Computer that operates on water droplets developed

A computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets has been developed by an Indian-origin scientist and his team.

The computer incubated from an idea that struck Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford University, when he was a graduate student. The work combines his expertise in manipulating droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element of computer science – an operating clock.

Prakash and his team decided to build a rotating magnetic field that could act as clock to synchronise all the droplets. Then they carefully injected into the mix individual water droplets that had been infused with tiny magnetic nanoparticles.

Next, they turned on the magnetic field. Every time the field flips, the polarity of the bars reverses, drawing the magnetised droplets in a new, predetermined direction.

A camera records the interactions between individual droplets, allowing observation of computation as it occurs in real time.

The presence or absence of a droplet represents the 1s and 0s of binary code, and the clock ensures that all the droplets move in perfect synchrony, and thus the system can run virtually forever without any errors.

The most immediate application might involve turning the computer into a high-throughput chemistry and biology laboratory. Instead of running reactions in bulk test tubes, each droplet can carry some chemicals and become its own test tube, and the droplet computer offers unprecedented control over these interactions.

The droplet computer can theoretically perform any operation that a conventional electronic computer can crunch, although at significantly slower rates.

NASA Tool Helps You Experience ‘Pluto time’

Pluto time, as described by NASA, is a time of the day, at a particular place, with clear climatic conditions which can simulate or replicate the light levels of that of the dwarf planet billions of miles away from us. This time is usually just a short period during dawn and dusk and quite naturally, mostly ignored by us. But the researches at NASA discovered just how significant this short moment is. This ignored short period of time replicates Pluto’s light levels and thus gives you a true experience of how the horizon on Pluto will be like.

With a lot of research, NASA has recently developed a new ‘Pluto time’ website which will help space fans and enthusiasts experience Pluto’s time condition first-hand. As Pluto is over 3 billion miles away from our planet, it receives much less sunlight than here. Thus, the ‘time’ or light conditions of Pluto are something which are very interesting.

But according to NASA, there’s always Pluto time somewhere on our planet and thus you can experience your local Pluto time by using this new NASA tool. To know more about this tool and use this tool on your own, you can visit NASA HERE.

Just enter your location into this tool and know your personal Pluto time to experience the light conditions of the little dwarf. This tool generates an exact time you can step outside and experience the light levels of Pluto. NASA is actually collecting pictures from all over the world of people experiencing Pluto time everywhere. You could contribute to their album too. Just log on to their website and learn when to experience a journey to Pluto.

World’s Most Precise Quantum Thermometer

A group of scientists from University of Notingham, Washington has come up with the most accurate thermometer ever invented. The details of their study can be found in “Physical Review Letters”. This state-of-the-art invention boasts of its ability to detect the littlest change in temperature.

These minute fluctuations may not yet be named or even defined by the inventors, yet they can surely help in obtaining accurate data, especially in the field of research.

Also, what’s great about this new technology is, aside from the precision, these thermometers can also work in extreme temperatures, making them very useful in places with extremely hot or cold environments. This new development will surely help the science of meteorology and all other studies in their goal in minimizing errors in every research that has something to do with controlling the temperatures and comparing them.