Monday December 18, 2017
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New method to help decode rare fragile manuscripts

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London: Norwegian researchers are developing new high-tech tools to unlock the secrets hidden in fragile pieces of parchment that are difficult to study because of their age, rarity and susceptibility to contamination. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Gunnerus Library are using a novel technique called hyperspectral imaging to determine the chemical composition of the pigments used in ancient manuscripts.

“The technique is quite effective for examining old manuscripts and yields much better results than other methods,” said Emilio Catelli, PhD candidate at the department of chemistry, in a statement. “Whole pages can be scanned and analysed in a matter of minutes with this technology. Fragile documents are also protected from marks and rough handling,” Catelli added.

ancient Indus civilisation manuscript
ancient Indus civilisation manuscript

Ancient documents are very sensitive and fragile and should ideally not be touched or exposed to light. “Throughout history, many methods have been used that cause irreparable damage to manuscripts,” noted Victoria Juhlin, conservator at the library.

Hyperspectral imaging uses a hyperspectral camera to scan the document. Advanced cameras can differentiate between 160 colours and have 1,600 pixel sensors. These cameras are good for studying art at a macro level, where details and colour pigments that were previously impossible to see are now made visible because of the high spectral resolution.

“Hyperspectral imaging turns out to be very useful for studying art. The method is also used in medical diagnostics, food science, archaeology and environmental observation,” study co-author Lyngsnes Randeberg said.

(IANS)

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Stephen Hawking believes Technology could end Poverty and Disease, says Artificial Intelligence could be the Worst or Best things for Humanity

Hawking said everyone has a role to play in making sure that this generation and the next are fully engaged with the study of science at an early level to create “a better world for the whole human race.”

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Stephen Hawking
Cosmologist Stephen Hawking delivers a video message during the inauguration of Web Summit, Europe's biggest tech conference, in Lisbon, Portugal, Nov. 6, 2017. (VOA)

Lisbon, November 7, 2017 : Technology can hopefully reverse some of the harm caused to the planet by industrialization and help end disease and poverty, but artificial intelligence (AI) needs to be controlled, physicist Stephen Hawking said on Monday.

Hawking, a British cosmologist who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease aged 21, said technology could transform every aspect of life but cautioned that artificial intelligence poses new challenges.

He said artificial intelligence and robots are already threatening millions of jobs — but this new revolution could be used to help society and for the good of the world such as alleviating poverty and disease.

“The rise of AI could be the worst or the best thing that has happened for humanity,” Stephen Hawking said via telepresence at opening night of the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon that is attended by about 60,000 people.

“We simply need to be aware of the dangers, identify them, employ the best possible practice and management and prepare for its consequences well in advance.”

Hawking’s comments come during an escalating debate about the pro and cons of artificial intelligence, a term used to describe machines with a computer code that learns as it goes.

ALSO READ Humanity’s days are numbered, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will cause mass extinction, warns Stephen Hawking

Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, who is chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc and rocket company SpaceX, has warned that AI is a threat to humankind’s existence.

But Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, in a rare interview recently, told the WSJ Magazine that there was nothing to panic about.

Stephen Hawking said everyone has a role to play in making sure that this generation and the next are fully engaged with the study of science at an early level to create “a better world for the whole human race.”

ALSO READ Indian Origin Scientist Part of the team that Developed Nanotechnology-based Test that quickly Detects Zika Virus

“We need to take learning beyond a theoretical discussion of how AI should be, and take action to make sure we plan for how it can be,” said Stephen Hawking, who communicates via a cheek muscle linked to a sensor and computerized voice system.

“You all have the potential to push the boundaries of what is accepted, or expected, and to think big. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting — if precarious — place to be and you are the pioneers,” he said. (VOA)

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7 Most Beautiful Goddess Lakshmi Temples of India

On this Diwali Day, aware yourself of the most beautiful Goddess Laxmi Temples ensembled in India and keep up your beliefs on the almighty

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Sripuram Golden Temple.
Sripuram Golden Temple. Wikimedia

Goddess Laxmi is one of the principal deities of Hindu religion. She is the goddess of destiny, wealth, and prosperity. The goddess is also worshipped by Jains and Buddhists.

On the eve of Diwali, we bring you the most beautiful Goddess Lakshmi Temples situated all over the India.

Sripuram Golden Temple, Vellore

Goddess Lakshmi
Sripuram Golden Temple, Vellore. Wikimedia.

Sripuram Golden Temple is one of the biggest temples in India, this Lakshmi temple is dedicated to the worship of the goddess. It is situated on a hill called Malaikodi, located in Vellore of Tamil Nadu.

Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir), Delhi

Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi Narayan Temple (Birla Mandir), Delhi. Wikimedia.

Birla Mandir situated in New Delhi is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Vishnu. One popular fact about this temple is that it was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. Hundreds of devotees visit Birla Mandir during festive occasions including Diwali.

Mahalakshmi Temple, Mumbai

Goddess Lakshmi
Mahalakshmi Temple, Mumbai. Wikimedia.

Mahalakshmi Temple is an ancient temple of the goddess Lakshmi. It is situated in Mumbai. and has an interesting story behind it. After the wall of Hornby Vellard collapsed twice, the engineer dreamed of the goddess of wealth. On this very, location a statue of the goddess Lakshmi was found. Hence, the statue was put up and a temple was built.

ALSO READ: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Lakshmi Devi Temple, Hassan

Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi Devi Temple at Hassan. Wikimedia.

Goddess Lakshmi temple in Doddagaddavalli relates the period of Hoysalas in Karnataka. It is one of the earliest architectural temples of Hoysala style.

Ashtalakshmi Temple, Chennai

 

Goddess Lakshmi
Ashtalakshmi Temple Chennai. Wikimedia.

Ashtalakshmi Temple is famous for various shrines of goddess Laksmi which depict all 8  forms of Lakshmi Devi. The temple is located near Elliot’s beach of Chennai.

Kaila Devi Temple, Karauli, Rajasthan

Wikimedia
Kailadevi Temple Rajasthan. Wikimedia.

Kaila Devi is regarded as an incarnation of Mahalakshmi or the Wealth Goddess. This temple situated in Karauli District of Rajasthan.

Goravanahalli Mahalakshmi Temple

Goddess Lakshmi
Goravanahalli Mahalakshmi Temple.Wikimedia.

Goravanahalli Mahalakshmi Temple is an extremely popular Mahalakshmi temple built up in Tumkur District, Karnataka. The worshipped idol of Mahalakshmi is believed to have originated on its own.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

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Seven Wonders of the World : Ancient and Modern

The Seven Wonders of the World are a set of monuments which show the artistic and architectural excellence of humanity from history to the present times. Read more to find out about the ancient and the modern seven wonders of the world

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FILE - The silhouette of the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado hill stands out against the full moon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 19, 2016. VOA

The Seven Wonders of the World in the ancient times was a list made by the Greeks in order to honor the most magnificent piece of architecture in their known world. Sadly today other than the Pyramid of Giza, none of the other wonders have been able to survive the test of time. Since then a new list has been made in order to acknowledge the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World as per the Greeks: 

  • The Great Pyramid of Giza – The Great Pyramid of Giza is the only wonder of the ancient wonder which has survived. This pyramid erected in the year 2560 BC, is known to be the tomb of the Pharaoh Khufu. It is the oldest of all ancient wonders.
Pixabay
The Pyramids of Giza – Pixabay
  • The Hanging Garden of Babylon – There is not much to say about this wonder because of the fact that there is very little historical documentation about these gardens. They were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife in 600 BC because she was missing her hometown in the hills.
A Painting of Hanging Garden of Babylon – Wikimedia Common
  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria – The Lighthouse of Alexandria was 400ft tall in length and had kept its record for being the tallest building in the world for centuries. This was built around 280 BC. This magnificent structure was destroyed by several earthquakes. In 1480, its ruins were used to construct the Citadel of Qaitbay, which till date stands on Pharos Island.
  • The Colossus of Rhodes – The Colossus of Rhodes is a nearly 100 feet tall statue of the Greek sun god Helios. Built in the city of Rhodes in 280 BC, it was destroyed in an earthquake in 226 BC.
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus was built as the tomb of Mausoleum around 350BC. The structure was demolished by a series of earthquakes which occurred between the 12th and 15th centuries.
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia – The statue was made by the Greek sculptor Phidias, it represented Zeus seated on his golden throne. The statue itself is 40ft tall and is adorned with gold and ivory. The cause of the destruction of the statue is not clearly known but it was destroyed sometime in the  5th century.
A Painting of the Statue of Zeus at Olympia – Pixabay
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus – The temple is located in Eastern Turkey. It has been rebuilt several times following its destruction every time. One memorable incident related to the temple is the fact it once burnt down the same night when Alexander the Great was born. The third temple was acknowledged by the Greeks as a wonder. It was finally destroyed for good by the Goths in 268AD.
The Temple of Artemis Ruins – Wikimedia Commons

The List of the Modern Seven Wonders of the World

On July 7, 1997, a new set of seven wonders was developed which was based on the online voting system from all around the world. The new Seven Wonders of the World are:-

  • Chichen Itza, Mexico – The Chichen Itza is the ruins of a complex in the form of a step pyramid from the Mayan civilization.
Chichen Itza – Pixabay
  • Christ, the Redeemer, Brazil – This is a 98 ft statue of Jesus Christ located in Rio de Janeiro. This statue was built by French sculptor, Paul Landowski.
Christ the Redeemer Statue in Brazil – Pixabay
  • The Great Wall of China – The Great Wall of China is a wall that was built along the northern border of China in order to protect the Chinese empire from the nomadic attacks from the Eurasian tribes.
The Great Wall of China – Wikimedia Commons
  • Machu Picchu, Peru – Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel which is located high up on the Andes Mountains. It is famous for its age-old stone block walls. The exact nature of use of this citadel is not exactly known.
Machu Picchu – Pixabay
  • Petra, Jordan – Petra was an ancient desert in Jordan which consists of numerous temples and tombs carved in pink sandstone thus earning its nickname as the “Rose City”.
Petra – Jordan, Wikimedia Commons

 

  • The Roman Colosseum, Rome – The Colosseum as it is famously known, is a huge amphitheater located in the center of the city of Rome in Italy. It is the largest amphitheater ever built. It was used for gladiator fights, animal matches, and re-enactment of various dramas prevalent in those times.
Colosseum in Rome – Wikimedia Commons
  • The Taj Mahal, Agra – The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum which is built in pure white marble on the orders of Shah Jahan in the memory of his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is situated on the south bank of the Yamuna River and was commissioned to be built in 1632.
The Taj Mahal, India – Wikimedia Commons

The Seven Natural Wonders of the World

CNN announced a list of wonders which were not manmade but were formed naturally over a period of thousand years. This list was given in 1992.

  • Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon – Wikimedia Commons
  • The Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef – Pixabay
  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt Everest
Mount Everest – Pixabay
  • Northern Lights
Northern Lights -Pixabay
  • Paricutin Volcano

    The Crater of Paricutin Volcano – Pixabay
  • Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls Africa – Pixabay

No list of Seven Wonders is definite. These lists tell us how much the humanity has progressed and nature has evolved over the years.  These wonders are nothing but the remainder of the accomplishments of mankind from history to the present.

Prepared by Saloni Hindocha (@siatipton)