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Indian firm wins MIT Climate CoLab awards

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Washington: Nualgi, an Indian company with wholly Indian technology in the field of nano biotechnology has for the first time won a prestigious award at the Climate CoLab of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.

Nulagi had submitted two proposals to reduce power and fuel consumption for sewage treatment and reuse of water built around their nano-scale product called Nualgi for the 2015 edition of the annual MIT contest.

The Climate CoLab organises annual contest on various issues relating to climate change, fuel consumption, energy consumption for sewage treatment and water supply.

Both the proposals were shortlisted by a panel of judges in the Top 10 category. Thereafter, they won the Popular Choice Awards in voting by general public internationally.

Nualgi was invented by T Sampath Kumar of Bangalore after 15 years of research and development in nano biotechnology.

Nualgi is used to grow diatom algae in all types and volumes of water, from aquariums to oceans.

Nualgi, is a break through product, which is marketed in USA by Nualgi America LLC based out of San Marcos, California.

In just over 1.5 years about 6000 customers in US and Canada have taken to use of this environment friendly bio remediation product for their aquariums, ponds and larger water bodies.

Nualgi mitigates harmful algal blooms, foul odour, turbidity and organic pollution in any water body ranging from aquariums to facultative ponds, lakes, rivers, coastal seas, bays and dead zones.

Moreover, it does so rapidly and very cost effectively. It can be used very effectively to control mass fish kills occurring in any water, in such cases it is effective within a couple of hours.

Sampath Kumar, inventor and CEO Nualgi Nano Biotech (India), MV Bhaskar,

CEO KCPL and Anil Nanda (President, Nualgi America LLC) received the citations in person at MIT, Cambridge Tuesday.

 

(IANS)

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Oldest recorded solar eclipse occurred 3,200 years ago

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Solar eclipse

Cambridge University researchers have pinpointed the date of what could be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded. The event, which occurred on October 30, 1207 BC, is mentioned in the Bible, and could help historians to date Egyptian pharaohs.

“Solar eclipses are often used as a fixed point to date events in the ancient world,” said Professor Colin Humphreys from University of Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy.

Using a combination of the biblical text and an ancient Egyptian text, the researchers were able to refine the dates of the Egyptian pharaohs, in particular, the dates of the reign of Ramesses the Great, according to the study published in the journal Astronomy & Geophysics.

The biblical text in question comes from the Old Testament book of Joshua and has puzzled biblical scholars for centuries.

It records that after Joshua led the people of Israel into Canaan, a region of the ancient Near East that covered modern-day Israel and Palestine – he prayed: “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon. And the Sun stood still, and the Moon stopped until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.”

“If these words are describing a real observation, then a major astronomical event was taking place – the question for us to figure out is what the text actually means,” Humphreys said.

“Modern English translations, which follow the King James translation of 1611, usually interpret this text to mean that the Sun and Moon stopped moving,” Humphreys said.

“But going back to the original Hebrew text, we determined that an alternative meaning could be that the Sun and Moon just stopped doing what they normally do: they stopped shining. In this context, the Hebrew words could be referring to a solar eclipse, when the Moon passes between the earth and the Sun, and the Sun appears to stop shining,” Humphreys said.

This interpretation is supported by the fact that the Hebrew word translated ‘stand still’ has the same root as a Babylonian word used in ancient astronomical texts to describe eclipses, he added.

Independent evidence that the Israelites were in Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC can be found in the Merneptah Stele, an Egyptian text dating from the reign of the Pharaoh Merneptah, son of the well-known Ramesses the Great, the study said.

The large granite block, held in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, says that it was carved in the fifth year of Merneptah’s reign and mentions a campaign in Canaan in which he defeated the people of Israel.

Earlier historians had used these two texts to try to date the possible eclipse, but were not successful as they were only looking at total eclipses, in which the disc of the Sun appears to be completely covered by the moon as the moon passes directly between the earth and the sun.

What the earlier historians failed to consider was that it was instead an annular eclipse, in which the Moon passes directly in front of the Sun, but is too far away to cover the disc completely, the researchers said.

In the ancient world, the same word was used for both total and annular eclipses.

The researchers developed a new eclipse code, which takes into account variations in the Earth’s rotation over time.

From their calculations, they determined that the only annular eclipse visible from Canaan between 1500 and 1050 BC was on 30 October 1207 BC, in the afternoon.

If their arguments are accepted, it would not only be the oldest solar eclipse yet recorded, it would also enable researchers to date the reigns of Ramesses the Great and his son Merneptah to within a year.

Using these new calculations, the researchers determined that Ramesses the Great reigned from 1276-1210 BC, with a precision of plus or minus one year.(IANS)

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India’s Best-performing IITs still far behind in research performance of 2 top World Universities: Study

The researchers discovered a "substantial difference" in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the "new IITs."

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IIT Kharagpur, Wikimedia

Kolkata, March 31, 2017: India’s best-performing IITs, including IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Bombay, are far behind in research performance of the two top ranking world universities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT-USA) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), a computational analysis has revealed.

The study has highlighted that for IITs to be placed high among the world institutions, “a lot of effort and support” is required.

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“Of these two, NTU established in 1991 is younger than the five older IITs, which shows that the age of an institution alone does not necessarily matter for higher performance. If a new institution like NTU can achieve research performance levels to be included among top ranking world institutions, then why not some of the Indian IITs,” asked the study’s lead author, Vivek Kumar Singh, Department of Computer Science of the Banaras Hindu University.

The observations were based on a computational analysis of research performance of 16 “relatively older” Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) in the country. There are a total of 23 IITs in India at present.

The study was carried out by parsing through research publication data indexed in Web of Science. The data was examined to identify productivity, productivity per capita, rate of growth of research output, authorship and collaboration pattern, citation impact and discipline-wise research strengths of the different IITs.

The IITs, despite being the most prestigious institutions in India, do not rank high in top universities list of the world, the study notes.

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“Further, IITs are yet to match the research performance of the IISc (the Indian Institute of Science, which is an indigenously created institution unlike many older IITs established under foreign mentorship. The comparison indicates that IITs have a long way to go if they have to become comparable to the best institutions in the world in terms of research performance,” Singh said.

The first Indian Institute of Technology was established in 1951 at Kharagpur, followed by IIT Bombay (1958), IIT Madras (1959), IIT Kanpur (1959) and IIT Delhi (1961) – all through foreign collaboratiom. In 1961, the Institutes of Technology act was passed by Parliament which declared these institutions as institutes of national importance.

Almost three decades later, IIT Guwahati was established in 1994. This was followed by converting Roorkee University to IIT Roorkee in 2001.

During 2008-2012, nine more IITs were established at Bhubaneswar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Patna, Ropar, Indore, Mandi and Varanasi).

And most recently, seven new IITs (at Palakkad, Tirupati, Dhanbad, Bhilai, Goa, Jammu and Dharwad) are proposed/established during 2015-16.

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As IITs are of different age, institutes were grouped into three different sets: old IITs (7 IITs which are at least 15 years old), new IITs (9 new IITs established during 2008-2012) and recent IITs (7 IITS established during 2015-16).

The analysis excludes the seven recent ones as they have come into existence within the last five years.

The researchers discovered a “substantial difference” in research performance levels of old IITs vis-a-vis the “new IITs.”

“This can be explained by the fact that new IITs are quite young for a research performance comparison with old IITs. Some new IITs, particularly the IITI (IIT-Indore) show promising research performance,” Singh said.

The other important conclusion is that majority of the research output from IITs is in physics, chemistry and mathematics disciplines while research in engineering disciplines lags behind substantially.

“IITs being primarily engineering and technology institutions, should produce more research work in core engineering disciplines,” Singh said.

The findings are published in March in Current Science. Sumit Kumar Banshal and Pranab Kumar Muhuri in Department of Computer Science, South Asian University, New Delhi and Aparna Basu, formerly at CSIR-NISTADS, collaborated on the study. (IANS)

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Nobel Economics Prize Awarded to Harvard Professor, MIT Educator

Last week, the committee also announced the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry and the peace prize

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Harvard University professor Oliver Hart reads congratulatory emails after winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Economics at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts, Oct. 10, 2016.(VOA)
  • The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design
  • The announcement Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work in contract theory is “valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design
  • The two will split the $924,000 prize. The laureates are set to officially receive the award on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896

October 12, 2016: Oliver Hart of Harvard University and Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

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The announcement Monday by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said their work in contract theory is “valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design.”

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“This year’s laureates have developed contract theory, a comprehensive framework for analyzing many diverse issues in contractual design, like performance-based pay for top executives, deductibles and co-pays in insurance, and the privatization of public-sector activities,” the jury said.

Finnish Professor Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology smiles as he departs a news conference after speaking to members of the media, Oct. 10, 2016, on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.(VOA)
Finnish Professor Bengt Holmstrom of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology smiles as he departs a news conference after speaking to members of the media, Oct. 10, 2016, on the campus of MIT in Cambridge, Mass.(VOA)

The committee added that they analytical work establishes an “intellectual foundation” to grasp every day contracts in areas like bankruptcy legislation to political constitutions.

“The new theoretical tools created by Hart and Holmstrom are valuable to the understanding of real-life contracts and institutions, as well as potential pitfalls in contract design,” it said.

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The two will split the $924,000 prize. The laureates are set to officially receive the award on Dec. 10, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

Last week, the committee also announced the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry and the peace prize.

The final prize, for literature, will be announced Thursday.(VOA)