Friday, August 29, 2014

An Island ruled by Cats - Tashirojima, japan

A 40-minute ferry ride from Ishinomaki, near Sendai, will get you to a small island named Tashirojima. There you will find a population of 100 people and several hundred cats. In the last 50 years, the human population of the island has dwindled from 1,000 to fewer than 100.

The feline domination of Tashirojima dates back to Japan's late Edo Period—from the mid-18th to the mid-19th century. At that time, residents of the island raised silkworms for their textiles. Cats were valued because they chased away the mice that preyed on silkworms.

Tashirojima is, an island sustained by the fishing industry. The beloved silk-saving cats began to approach fishermen for food, and the workers' obliging response drew swarms of kitties to the shores. A mythology arose around the Tashirojima cats: The fishermen came to regard them as good luck and built a cat shrine in the middle of the island.

Though it was perilously close to the epicenter of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake—and therefore in the path of the ensuing tsunami—Tashirojima, its people, and its four-legged inhabitants survived the disaster. Buildings at the shore were damaged, but most houses, built on hillsides, remained intact.

An unnerving video on YouTube purports to show some of the island's cats behaving strangely right before the tsunami hit:

It's no accident that the cats who inhabit Tashirojima, or what has become known as "Cat Island," in Japan have come to be the island's primary residents. Cats have long been thought by the locals to represent luck and good fortune, and doubly so if you feed and care for them. Thus, the cats are treated like kings, and although most are feral because keeping them as "pets" is generally considered inappropriate, they are well-fed and well-cared-for.

Now known as Cat Island and on the obscure and quirky tourism trail, Tashirojima is taking advantage of its appeal to kitty-loving visitors. Cat-shaped cabins are available for overnight stays between April and November.

Despite this, luck and fortune hasn't exactly come to the human residents of "Cat Island." As more and more people have shunned the island as it became dominated by felines, the people that have remained have become ever more protective of the cats. Currently, dogs are not allowed on the island to protect the well-being of the cats – and presumably any dog foolish enough to venture onto an island full of feral cats.

The cats may end up bringing luck after all, however. Tourism has been picking up as the island has become an attraction for curious travelers, thanks to all of those cats.

For more details click here an_island_in_japan_ruled_by_cats.

San Pedro Prison,La Paz, Bolivia - Different from what we heard

Once you pass the thick walls and the security gates, any resemblance to a normal jail disappears: there are children playing, market stalls, restaurants, hairdressers and even a hotel. It looks more like the streets of El Alto, Bolivia's poorest neighbourhood that sprawls on the outskirts of La Paz, than a prison.


San Pedro prison or El penal de San Pedro (Saint Peter's Prison) is the largest prison in La Paz, Bolivia renowned for being a society within itself is home to about 1,500 inmates. The prison was originally designed to hold 250 inmates and now holds between 1,300 and 1,500.

The prison is divided into eight sectors and facilities range from miserable to luxurious.

There are no guards, no uniforms or metal bars on the cell windows. This relative freedom comes at a price: inmates have to pay for their cells, so most of them have to work inside the jail, selling groceries or working in the food stalls. Others work as hairdressers, laundry staff, carpenters, shoe-shine boys or TV and radio repairmen.

Significantly different from most correctional facilities, inmates at San Pedro have jobs inside the community, buy or rent their accommodation, and often live with their families. The sale of cocaine base to visiting tourists gives those inside a significant income and an unusual amount of freedom within the prison walls. Elected leaders enforce the laws of the community, with stabbings being commonplace. The prison is home to approximately 1,500 inmates (not including the women and children that live inside the walls with their convicted husbands), with additional guests staying in the prison hotel.

Inmates must purchase their own cells from other inmates because cells are not assigned by or run by any uniformed prison officials. The names of the housing section are Posta, Pinos, Alamos, San Martin, Prefectura, Palmar, Guanay and Cancha. Posta, Pinos, and Alamos are considered the higher end communities and act similar to gated communities. Each section has a rating that indicates its housing quality. Representatives of the higher end communities usually lock non-residents out around 9:00PM. The lower end communities are said to house the drug addicted inmates and are identified as the most dangerous at nighttime where most stabbings occur.Each section operates like a small village or neighborhood. Each has its own courtyard, restaurants, markets, and services.

"If you have money you can live like a king," an inmate told me. Money can buy you accommodation in the "posh" sections of the prison - one of the best is Los Pinos.

The wealthiest area "La Posta" provides inmates with private bathrooms, a kitchen, and cable television; such cells are sold for around $1,500-1,800 Bolivianos. Wealthier inmates can buy luxury cells, that may include 3 floors, and a hot tub. One inmate paid for a second floor extension to be built on his cell, giving him views across the city. However, most of those inside the prison live in cramped conditions with it being common for single-room cells to accommodate five people.

Almost all living sections contain market stalls and places to play games such as billiards, poker, chess, or in some, video games, kiosks selling fresh juice, and food stalls. Cells cost between $1,000 and $1,500 and are bought for the duration of an inmate's sentence.

The canteen and restaurants are owned and run by the inmates, while other places sell ingredients for those with kitchens to cook for themselves.

One of the larger open areas doubles as a small football pitch, with teams representing each sector regularly competing. Within the walls there is also a hotel for visiting guests, a hospital, and multiple churches.

In the poor areas of the prison, inmates have to share small cells.

For more details you can see here at americas_inside_a_bolivian_jail

Inventor of E-Mail

VA Shiva Ayyadurai (Tamil: சிவா அய்யாதுரை was born on 2 nd December 1963 in Mumbai, India to a Tamil family) is an Indian-American scientist, inventor and entrepreneur.

At the age of seven, he left with his family to live in the United States. In the Summer of 1978, then a sophomore in high school was accepted to a gifted students summer program at the prestigious Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences of New York University (NYU) to study computer programming, and later went on to graduate from Livingston High School in Livingston, New Jersey.

As a high school student in 1978, he was offered a position as a research fellow at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) as a research fellow, to develop the world's first Email System. He developed a full-scale emulation of the interoffice mail system, a computer program, which replicated the features of the inter-organizational paper mail system, which he called "EMAIL" and copyrighted later. That name's resemblance to the generic term "email" and the claims he later made for the program have led to controversy over Ayyadurai's place in the history of computer technology

Shiva filed an application for copyright in his program and in 1982 the United States Copyright Office issued a Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-111-775, to him on the program. He went on to be recognized by the Westinghouse Science Talent Search for this innovation, at a time when few knew of the value of email.

As required by the Regulations of the Copyright Office, he deposited portions of the original source code with the program. Prominent in the code is the name “EMAIL” that he gave to the program. He received a second Certificate of Registration, No. TXu-108-715, for the “EMAIL User’s Manual” he had prepared to accompany the program and that taught unsophisticated user’s how to use EMAIL’s features.

His undergraduate degree from MIT was in electrical engineering and computer science; he took a master's degree in visual studies from the MIT Media Laboratory on scientific visualization; concurrently, he completed another master’s degree in mechanical engineering, also from MIT; and in 2007, he obtained a Ph.D. in biological engineering from MIT in systems biology, with his thesis focusing on modeling the whole cell by integrating molecular pathway models. In 2008, he was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to study the integration of Siddha, India’s oldest system of traditional medicine, with modern systems biology in India.

As far as inventions go, none is as conflicted as Shiva's contribution to modern technology. There are many who claim that Roy Tomlinson is the inventor of email, or that the ARPANet system was the base for emails, and what Shiva did was just invent the interface. But, over the years, people like Noam Chomsky and Deepak Chopra have come forward in support of Shiva. He also graced the cover of Time magazine as the inventor of email in 2011.

Shiva, now 51 and looking a decade younger, lives in New York with his partner, actress Fran Drescher. "She's a wonderful person, and I brought my New York flat just so that I could live near her," he says.

Looking back, he remembers that it all began with his interest in medicine. "I always had a deep interest in medicine and, by the 9th grade, had studied all the math they taught till high school. I learned calculus, which was taught in college then and wanted to drop out of school. Then my mom introduced me to physicist Dr Leslie Michelson who worked at UMDNJ. I was excited at the thought of learning medicine, but was hired to work on email instead."

Shiva then went about the departments studying the mail system. Each secretary had a desk on which was an inbox for incoming mails, an outbox, a drafts folder, a trash bucket, an address book, paper clips for attachments, bond paper and a typewriter. He then wrote down 50,000 lines of coding in FORTRAN, the accepted coding language in the late 1970s, to create the user interface and the work processor of what was possibly the first email system. "FORTRAN allowed the use of only five upper-case characters for the name of a program. So I zeroed on 'email'," he says.

His invention landed him an award and the bachelors programme in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), from where he holds four degrees. He was also a Fulbright Scholar, was nominated for the Lamelson-MIT student nominees and was student body president at MIT.

When he invented the program, the US did not have a law to protect his copyright. "The Copyright Law 1976 protected only music and literature," he recalls, adding that he bagged the copyright only in 1981 after the amendment in 1980.

Shiva's first stint at MIT was cut short because he bagged the first prize in a competition held by the White House to take care of its emails. " Bill Clinton realised the power of emails at observing people's opinions and categorised emails into 147 buckets: death threats, education, public policy, healthcare etc. All these emails were sorted manually to build a statistic on what people were thinking. Clinton would get a bar graph of the number of emails under a particular subject which served as a survey," says Shiva.

"They wanted me to come up with a program to analyse these emails and I developed EchoMail, which is widely used today for analysing emails for customer feedback by corporate houses" Nike, Oprah Winfrey and Calvin Klein have been EchoMail's clients. "There have been many campaigns which have employed the analysis provided by EchoMail over the years to come up with advertising strategies," says Shiva. "Currently, we are working on a more affordable model of the programme so that small business ventures can use it."

Shiva is excited about the possibilities of studying behaviour through emails and rues that the US Postal Department, on the verge of a shutdown, did not pay heed to his advice a decade ago to adapt to email.

"I proposed that they offer an email service for a nominal fee, because it was evident that email was soon taking over. Also, no email service is free, so to speak. Ever organisation that offers you free email, ensures that they retain ownership over the emails," says Shiva.

When the announcement of its shutdown hit the headlines, an outraged Shiva tweeted that they should have listened to him. Publications took notice and he was soon contacted by the Postal Department. "I worked on a solution to turn around the finances and submitted my report, but I'm not sure if they have adapted to them," he says.

Shiva was instrumental in revolutionising communication. Maybe, he will play an equally significant role in determining the future of the US Postal Department.

Recently however, a substantial controversy has arisen as to who invented email. This controversy has resulted in an unfortunate series of attacks on Shiva. Part of the problem is that different people use to the term to mean somewhat different things.

- See more at: v.a.shiva-inventor-of-email

A Country which utilises Hydro Electric power 99 % - Norway

Hydropower is renewable, clean, reliable, flexible and produces cheap energy for generation after generation. 
The electricity sector in Norway relies predominantly on hydroelectricity. A significant share of the total electrical production is consumed by national industry.

Electricity generation in Norway is almost entirely from hydroelectric power plants. Of the total production in 2005 of 137.8 TWh, 136 TWh was from hydroelectric plants, 0.86 TWh was from thermal power, and 0.5 TWh was wind generated. In 2005 the total consumption was 125.8 TWh.

Norway was the first country to generate electricity commercially using sea-bed tidal power. A 300 kilowatt prototype underwater turbine started generation in the Kvalsund, south of Hammerfest, on November 13, 2003.

Since 6 May 2008, the Norwegian and Dutch electricity grids are interconnected by NorNed submarine HVDC (450 kilovolts) cable with a capacity of 700 megawatts.

Norway is known for its particular expertise in the developement of efficient, environment-friendly hydroelectric power plants. Nationwide installed capacity of hydropower amounted to 29 GW in 2007. In 2008, hydroelectricity generated 141 terawatt-hours (TWh) and accounted for 98.5% of the national electricity demand. This was also 4.3 percent of the worldwide generated hydropower and according to the IEA, Norway ranked 6th for that year, behind China, Canada, Brazil, the United States and Russia.

Statkraft has more than a 100 years experience with hydropower, and is the largest producer of electricity from hydro power in Europe. The majority of the Statkraft Group’s energy production is generated through hydropower.

Production takes place in 373 hydropower plants – 263 in Norway, 60 in Sweden, 10 in Germany, three in the United Kingdom, and 32 outside Europea. Statkraft is involved in other hydropower projects in the Nordic region and Southeast Europe. They are developing new production capacity in selected countries in South America and Asia alone and through the company SN Power, in which Statkraft has a 60% shareholding.

For more details visit this website norway - hydro

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bermuda Triangle Mystery - Facts and Myths

So looking for the facts behind the mystery of Bermuda Triangle? Learn more about the Bermuda Triangle mystery with the interesting facts, secrets, history and theories. Why do ships and planes seem to go missing in this region? More than 1000 ships and planes have disappeared in the triangle area over the past five centuries and continue to do so.

And all these happen when apparently there are no human errors, equipment failures or even natural disasters. Strangely, the ships and aircraft just vanish when everything seems to be okay. Many believe that Devil is at play here and therefore call the area also as Devil's Triangle.

Are the reported ship and aircraft incidents and disappearances related to some kind of supernatural force or have the mysterious stories been exaggerated? The facts however are quite far from what is generally known or believed to be true. There are many stories and myths created through sheer imagination by writers who have used them rampantly to draw publicity to their books.

Some authors suggested it may be due to a strange magnetic anomaly that affects compass readings (in fact they claim Columbus noted this when he sailed through the area in 1492). Others theorize that methane eruptions from the ocean floor may suddenly be turning the sea into a froth that can't support a ship's weight so it sinks (though there is no evidence of this type of thing happening in the Triangle for the past 15,000 years).

In many cases, the facts got blurred. But one thing which is beyond doubt is, far too many incidents have taken place in this area for it to be ignored casually or interpreted to be just another normal ocean area.

Several books have gone as far as conjecturing that the disappearances are due to an intelligent, technologically advanced race living in space or under the sea.

Perhaps science can offer some answers, maybe the Bermuda Triangle is actually no different from other parts of the ocean. Enjoy the facts and information and decide for yourself.

You won't find it on any official map and you won't know when you cross the line, but according to some people, the Bermuda Triangle is a very real place where dozen of ships, planes and people have disappeared with no good explanation. Since a magazine first coined the phrase "Bermuda Triangle" in 1964, the mystery has continued to attract attention.

What is Bermuda Triangle?

The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, is an undefined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean where a number of aircraft and ships are said to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

So the next question is why the name "Bermuda Triangle"? At the time of coining the term, the first name that came up was "Miami Triangle". But Florida objected saying that they would lose visitors to Miami with such name as people would fear to come there. So the next name taken up was "Puerto Rico Triangle". Puerto Rico too raised objections. Then it was the turn for the 21 square mile tiny island Bermuda which forms the third corner of the triangle. And no one seems to have bothered. Bermuda was then also known as the "Isle of the Devils" which fitted to the triangle concept quite well and therefore the final name "Bermuda Triangle" was coined.

Where is Bermuda Triangle ? 

So where is Bermuda Triangle located and how large is the area? Is there a map? And do you get to know when exactly you cross the line and enter the area? By the simplest of all definitions,

The Bermuda Triangle is located off the South-Eastern coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean,, with its apexes in the vicinities of Miami (in Florida); San Juan (in Puerto Rico); and Bermuda (a north-Atlantic island). It covers roughly 500,000 square miles.

The disappearances have mostly taken place near the southern boundary of the triangle between Florida and Puerto Rico. You can always argue that it's obvious because that's where the area of the triangle is widest and therefore such possibilities should be more anyway! But the area is not as simple as it appears in the picture above. In order to know more about its location, how the area is actually laid out in the Atlantic, and whether you will ever know when you are entering the dreaded Bermuda triangle area as you take a cruise or flight, Visit Triangle Location & Map.

Lost Planes & Ships in Bermuda Triangle

Here are some of the most amazing stories of planes and ships that disappeared while crossing the triangle area. As you visit the links, you will also see my findings behind such great mysteries of all times. In most cases I have discussed and explained the possible causes, in some cases I have also given excerpts from official reports that were produced by US Navy, US Air Force or US Coast Guards after completing the search operations. And in several cases, I have given updates on further findings.

Popular Disappearances:

  • Built in 1854 and that in 1880 the ship Meta was renamed Ellen Austin. There are no casualty listings for this vessel, or any vessel at that time, that would suggest a large number of missing men were placed on board a derelict that later disappeared.
  • The incident resulting in the single largest loss of life in the history of the US Navy not related to combat occurred when the collier USS Cyclops, carrying a full load of manganese ore and with one engine out of action, went missing without a trace with a crew of 309 sometime after March 4, 1918, after departing the island of Barbados. Two of Cyclops’s sister ships, Proteus and Nereus were subsequently lost in the North Atlantic during World War II.
  • A five-masted schooner built in 1919, the Carroll A. Deering was found hard aground and abandoned at Diamond Shoals, near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on January 31, 1921. Another ship, SS Hewitt, which disappeared at roughly the same time. Just hours later, an unknown steamer sailed near the lightship along the track of the Deering, and ignored all signals from the lightship. It is speculated that Hewitt may have been this mystery ship, and possibly involved in the Deering crew’s disappearance.
  • The USS Cyclops and its crew of 309 that went missing after leaving Barbados in 1918.
  • The TBM Avenger bombers that went missing in 1945 during a training flight over the Atlantic.
  • A yacht was found in 1955 that had survived three hurricanes but was missing all its crew
  • A Douglas DC-3 aircraft containing 32 people that went missing in 1958, no trace of the aircraft was ever found.
  • Flight 19: It was a training flight of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945. One of the search and rescue aircraft deployed to look for them, a PBM Mariner with a 13-man crew, also disappeared. A tanker off the coast of Florida reported seeing an explosion[44] and observing a widespread oil slick when fruitlessly searching for survivors. The weather was becoming stormy by the end of the incident.
  • PBM Martin Mariner: When all hopes for the above Flight-19 planes were quickly fading, two Martin Mariner planes (flying boats) were sent by US Navy to search them out. One came back, but the other didn't. Read the full story to know what happened.
  • Tudor Star Tiger: Star Tiger, a Tudor Mark-IV aircraft disappeared in Bermuda Triangle shortly before it was about to land at the Bermuda airport.
  • Fight DC-3: The flight DC-3 NC16002 disappeared when it was only 50 miles south of Florida and about to land in Miami.
  • Flight 441: A Super Constellation Naval Airliner disappeared in October 1954.
  • C-54 Skymaster: Apparently it seemed to be a sudden thunderstorm that had disintegrated the plane. But there was much more to the story.
  • Mary Celeste - The Ghost Ship: Known as one of the ghost ships of Bermuda Triangle, Mary Celeste had many misadventures even before her mystery voyage in 1872. But this time, although the ship could be salvaged, none on board could ever be traced.
  • Marine Sulphur Queen: This 524-foot carrier of molten sulphur started sail on Feb 2, 1963 from Beaumont, Texas with 39 crew. It was reported lost in Florida Straits on February 4, and lost for ever.
  • Ellen Austin: The Ellen Austin, an American schooner, met with another ship in Bermuda Triangle. The other ship was moving in full speed but strangely had nobody on board.
  • USS Cyclops: Disappearance of the carrier ship U.S.S. Cyclops in Bermuda Triangle has been one of the greatest mysteries of the sea.
  • USS Scorpion: USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Nuclear powered submarine of United States Navy that disappeared in Bermuda Triangle area in May 1968.
  • G-AHNP Star Tiger disappeared on January 30, 1948 on a flight from the Azores to Bermuda; G-AGRE Star Ariel disappeared on January 17, 1949, on a flight from Bermuda to Kingston, Jamaica. Both were Avro Tudor IV passenger aircraft operated by British South American Airways.[46] Both planes were operating at the very limits of their range and the slightest error or fault in the equipment could keep them from reaching the small island. One plane was not heard from long before it would have entered the Triangle.
  • On December 28, 1948, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, number NC16002, disappeared while on a flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Miami. No trace of the aircraft or the 32 people on board was ever found. From the documentation compiled by the Civil Aeronautics Board investigation, a possible key to the plane’s disappearance was found, but barely touched upon by the Triangle writers: the plane’s batteries were inspected and found to be low on charge, but ordered back into the plane without a recharge by the pilot while in San Juan. Whether or not this led to complete electrical failure will never be known. However, since piston-engined aircraft rely upon magnetos to provide spark to their cylinders rather than a battery powered ignition coil system, this theory is not strongly convincing.
  • On August 28, 1963, a pair of US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft collided and crashed into the Atlantic. The Triangle version of this story specifies that they did collide and crash, but there were two distinct crash sites, separated by over 160 miles (260 km) of water. However, Kusche’s research[15] showed that the unclassified version of the Air Force investigation report stated that the debris field defining the second “crash site” was examined by a search and rescue ship, and found to be a mass of seaweed and driftwood tangled in an old buoy.
  • A pleasure yacht was found adrift in the Atlantic south of Bermuda on September 26, 1955; it is usually stated in the stories that the crew vanished while the yacht survived being at sea during three hurricanes. The 1955 Atlantic hurricane season shows Hurricane Ione passing nearby between the 14th and 18th of that month, with Bermuda being affected by winds of almost gale force.

Those were only few cases. Check out Bermuda Triangle Incidents for a list of all the major indents in the triangle area along with fascinating stories for many.

Why is Bermuda Triangle mysterious?

Unusual disappearances in the Bermuda area appeared in a September 16, 1950. Vincent Gaddis’s article “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” argued that Flight 19 and other disappearances were part of a pattern of strange events in the region.The triangle does not exist according to the US Navy and the name is not recognized by the US Board on Geographic Names. Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings.

Stories of unexplained disappearances in the Bermuda Triangle started to reach public awareness around 1950 and have been consistently reported since then.

What is the mystery behind the Bermuda Triangle?

As an answer to this, we have many theories, like

Magnetic theory: The magnetic compass shows strange variations, this can be explained as, There are many places where magnetic North and the geographic North differ.

Gulf stream theory : The Gulf Stream is a deep ocean current that originates in the Gulf of Mexico and then flows through the Straits of Florida into the North Atlantic. In essence, it is a river within an ocean, and, like a river, it can and does carry floating objects. It has a surface velocity of up to about 2.5 metres per second (5.6 mi/h). A small plane making a water landing or a boat having engine trouble can be carried away from its reported position by the current.

Unverified supernatural explanations for Bermuda Triangle incidents have included references to UFO’s and even the mythical lost continent of Atlantis.

Other explanations have included magnetic anomalies, pirates, deliberate sinkings, hurricanes, gas deposits, rough weather, huge waves and human error.

Which theory explains it the best?

Computer studies of ocean floors around the world, particularly the area known as The Bermuda Triangle, reveal evidence of massive methane explosions in the past. For years, believers in the paranormal, aliens, and other outlandish theories pointed to the the disappearance of ships and aircraft as an indicator of mysterious forces at work in the “Devil’s triangle.” Scientists have finally pointed the rest of us to a more plausible cause.

The presence of methane hydrates indicates enormous eruptions of methane bubbles that would swamp a ship, and projected high into the air- take out flying airplanes, as well.

Any ships caught within the methane mega-bubble immediately lose all buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the ocean. If the bubbles are big enough and possess a high enough density they can also knock aircraft out of the sky with little or no warning. Aircraft falling victim to these methane bubbles will lose their engines-perhaps igniting the methane surrounding them-and immediately lose their lift as well, ending their flights by diving into the ocean and swiftly plummeting.

When you dig deeper into most cases, though, they're much less mysterious. Either they were never in the area to begin with, they were actually found, or there's a reasonable explanation for their disappearance.

Does this mean there's nothing to the claims of so many who have had odd experiences in the Bermuda Triangle? Not necessarily. Scientists have documented deviations from the norm in the area and have found some interesting formations on the seafloor within the Bermuda Triangle's boundaries. So, for those who like to believe in it, there is plenty fuel for the fire.

­Many think of the Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil's Triangle, as an "imaginary" area. The U. S. Board of Geographic Names does not recognize the Bermuda Triangle and does not maintain an official file on it. However, within this imaginary area, many real vessels and the people aboard them have seemingly disappeared without explanation.

The area may have been named after its Bermuda apex since Bermuda was once known as the "Isle of Devils." Treacherous reefs that have ensnared ships sailing too close to its shores surround Bermuda, and there are hundreds of shipwrecks in the waters that surround it.

Tallest trees of the World - Eucalyptus Regnans

Australia's mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans) is the second tallest growing tree species in the world. The tallest specimen – nicknamed 'Centurion' – stands at 99.6m in Tasmania's Arve Valley. It is the world's tallest flowering plant and known hardwood tree, most commonly found in Southeastern Australia. There are a number of different trees that use the name “mountain ash” and none of them are related. This particular tree, however, is a different species of Eucalyptus that can grow up to 230-400 feet tall. The tree is known for being the tallest flowering plant in the world. The ones pictured were seen outside of Marysville in Victoria, Australia.

Historically, the tallest recorded Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans), also known as Swamp Gum, was a 115m tree felled in 1880 at Thorpdale in Victoria. Today, the tallest living example is across Bass Strait. The tree, nicknamed Centurion, was discovered in late 2008 in state forest in the Arve Valley near Geeveston, about 60km southwest of Hobart, and is the only known standing hardwood in the world measuring 100m. It is closed to visitors in spring because of nesting eagles.

The species grows extraordinarily quickly, reaching its maximum height in 200 years, a rate five times faster than the redwoods.

"The eucalypts do not live long enough to rival the redwoods in size. However, there may have been genetic 'freaks' that may have – and could in the future – reach over 100m tall," says Brett Mifsud, a specialist in finding and measuring tall trees.

Historic records show that in 1880 a felled mountain ash was recorded at 114.5m in Thorpdale, 137km south-east of Melbourne, making it the tallest tree in the world at the time.

The Andromeda stand is still the biggest stand of the tallest flowering plants on Earth, with three of the top five biggest hardwood trees, and more than a dozen specimens over 90m. Good fortune has seen it saved from logging since it was first identified in 1959. Even in the understorey everything is of giant proportions. The tree ferns rise 5m tall before the fronds flush sky high, blocking sunlight from reaching the forest floor. On the ground, fallen moss-covered tree trunks and limbs leave an obstacle course of rotting timber.

We make the journey into the forest the next day, with the rain cascading through the canopy. Together with fellow arborist Brett Mifsud, Greenwood has climbed and measured most of the tallest trees in this forest. Climbing involves shooting an arrow with a line over a top branch of the tree using a crossbow or giant slingshot. This line is used to pull a thicker string, and then a climbing rope, which is anchored to another tree to offset the weight of the climber. Today, after a failed attempt, Greenwood gets a fix and climbs more than 90m to rig up a descent line closer to the trunk.

Greenwood, who owns The Tree Works in Melbourne, inherited a love of nature from his father. “I did a degree in forestry and always had a general interest in tall trees, which expanded in 2000 when I was asked to measure some trees for Forestry Tasmania,” he says, recalling how the process used to involve a measuring stick and a tape measure but is now more likely to involve a laser.

Greenwood says the tallest Eucalyptus regnans today are most probably much smaller than the tallest that have existed. The tallest softwood tree, the Coast Redwood of North America, grows to about 115m.

Given time, Greenwood says, it’s possible that a hardwood eucalypt could grow to challenge the biggest of the redwoods. And if it does, he says, it will most likely be in Victoria, which is considered to have more favourable growing conditions.

To get there

The Styx Valley is 90km from Hobart, near Maydena. Accommodation is available in Maydena at Giants’ Table,; for more information see

Moving stones of Death valley, California,Mojave desert.

It’s obvious that these stones are moving because of the trails, but how? No one knew. Since the 1900s researchers and casual observers were fascinated by the stones but no one could explain how they moved. And the biggest factor that kept the answer obscured over a century was that to this day, no one’s ever seen them move.

Sailing stones, sliding rocks, and moving rocks all refer to a geological phenomenon where rocks move and inscribe long tracks along a smooth valley floor without human or animal intervention. Tracks from these sliding rocks have been observed and studied in various locations, including Little Bonnie Claire Playa in Nevada, and most notably Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park, California, where the number and length of tracks are notable. At Racetrack Playa, these tracks have been studied since the early 1900s, yet the origins of stone movement are not confirmed and remain the subject of research for which several hypotheses exist.

The Racetrack Playa, or The Racetrack, is a scenic dry lake feature with "sailing stones" that inscribe linear "racetrack" imprints. It is located above the northwestern side of Death Valley, in Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California, U.S..

Located above the northwestern side of Death Valley in Eastern California's Mojave Desert, an exceptionally flat dried lake called Racetrack Playa contains a peculiar phenomenon. Dozens of large stone stabs made of dolomite and syenite - often weighing as much as 318 kilograms - move across the cracked mud, leaving a series of smooth trails behind them.

The Racetrack Playa is 3608 feet (1130 m) above sea level, and 2.8 mi (4.5 km) long (north-south) by 1.3 mi (2.1 km) wide (east-west). The playa is exceptionally flat and level with the northern end being only 1.5 inches (4 cm) higher than the southern. This occurrence is due to major influx of fine-grained sediment that accumulates at the north end.

The highest point surrounding the Racetrack is the 5,678 feet (1731 m) high Ubehebe Peak, rising 1970 feet (571 m) above the lakebed 0.85 mile (1.37 km) to the west.

The playa is in the small Racetrack Valley endorheic basin between the Cottonwood Mountains on the east and Nelson Range to the west. During periods of heavy rain, water washes down from the Racetrack mountain area draining into the playa, forming a shallow, short-lived endorheic lake. Under the hot desert sun, the thin veneer of water quickly evaporates leaving behind a surface layer of soft slick mud. As the mud dries, it shrinks and cracks into a mosaic pattern of interlocking polygons.

The shape of the shallow hydrocarbon lake Ontario Lacus on Saturn's moon Titan has been compared to that of Racetrack Playa. The Milky Way is the visible arc in the center above a sailing stone and tracks from others.

Some of these trails stretch for a whopping 250 metres. They often form a nice, lightly curved line, but sometimes they form sharp, zig-zagging angles, implying a sudden shift to the right or left. These ‘sailing stones’, as they’ve been nicknamed, are so common on the the Racetrack Playa, they make it look like a well-worn racetrack, hence the name. (Playa is another word for ‘dried lake’.)
The stones move only every two or three years and most tracks develop over three or four years. Stones with rough bottoms leave straight striated tracks while those with smooth bottoms tend to wander. Stones sometimes turn over, exposing another edge to the ground and leaving a different track in the stone's wake.

Trails differ in both direction and length. Rocks that start next to each other may travel parallel for a time, before one abruptly changes direction to the left, right, or even back to the direction from which it came. Trail length also varies – two similarly sized and shaped rocks may travel uniformly, then one could move ahead or stop in its track.

Racetrack is dry for almost the entire year and has no vegetation. When dry, its surface is covered with small but firm hexagonal mud crack polygons that are typically 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) in diameter and about an inch (2.5 cm) thick. The polygons form in sets of three mud cracks at 120º to each other. A few days after a precipitation event, small mud curls, otherwise known as “corn flakes” form on the playa surface. Absence of these indicates that wind or another object has scraped away the tiny mud curls.

During the bimodal rainy season (summer and especially winter) a shallow cover of water deposits a thin layer of fine mud on and between the polygons of Racetrack. Heavier winter precipitation temporarily erases them until spring when the dry conditions cause new mud cracks to form in the place of the old cracks. Sandblasting wind continually helps to round the edges of exposed polygons. Annual precipitation is 3 to 4 inches (75 to 100 mm) and ice cover can be 1 to 2.5 inches (2.5 to 6.5 cm) thick. Typically only part of the playa will flood in any given year.

According to Marc Lallanilla at LiveScience, while the less informed guesses included everything from aliens and magnetic fields to good old-fashioned pranksters, a popular theory among researchers was that dust devils, which are strong, relatively long-lived whirlwinds, were pushing the stones around as they swept across the playa. But this theory, and others that cropped up, were all disproved.

And then in 2006, planetary scientist Ralph Lorenz from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in the US started investigating the sailing stones. He came to the Racetrack Playa with an interest in studying its similarities to a hydrocarbon lake on Saturn’s moon, Titan, and stayed to put an end to a long-standing mystery.

To do so, all he needed was a small rock, some water, and an ordinary Tupperware container. Lorez put the small rock in the bottom of the Tupperware container and filled it with a few centimetres of water. Then he put the whole thing in the freezer.

Marc Lallanilla at LiveScience explains what happened next:

"After putting the container in the freezer, Lorenz ended up with a small slab of ice with a rock embedded in it. By placing the ice-bound rock in a large tray of water with sand at the bottom, all he had to do was gently blow on the rock to get it to move across the water.

And as the ice-embedded rock moved, it scraped a trail in the sand at the tray's bottom. Lorenz devised his clever experiment by researching how the buoyancy of ice can cause large rocks, when encased in ice, to move by floating along tidal beaches in the Arctic Sea."

Calculations by Lorenz and his colleagues of the weather conditions in Death Valley during the winter months appeared to support his theory. "Calculations show that, in this scenario, the ice causes virtually no friction on the water, so the stones are able to glide with just a slight breeze,” Joseph Stromberg reported at Smithsonian Magazine. "The team argues that their model accounts for the movement far better than any other, since it doesn’t require massive wind speeds or enormous ice sheets."

They published their research in the American Journal of Physics.

While the evidence is circumstantial because no one has actually seen it happen, Lorenz's research remains the most likely explaination for the sailing stones of Death Valley.

In this mysterious and desolate corner of the California desert, the stones move by themselves.

There is no doubt that California's Death Valley National Park is an unusual place. Situated in the Mojave Desert, it is the driest location in North America. With one spot at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level, it also has the distinction of being the lowest elevation of any place on the continent. Finally, it also known to be the hottest locale on Earth with temperatures hitting a record high of 134 °F (56.7 °C) in the Furnace Creek section of the park.

While all these features are certainly unusual, there is one more oddity about Death Valley that makes it one of the strangest places in the world. It's a place where the rocks move by themselves.

Now you might argue that there are plenty of places where rocks move without human or animal intervention. During an avalanche, tons of mud, soil and rocks can come tumbling down steep slopes. And during an earthquake, even large boulders can go bouncing around. In Death Valley, however, these stones slide across a nearly-flat, dry, lakebed called Racetrack Playa leaving long, smooth tracks. No avalanches or earthquakes needed. Not just little stones either. Some of the moving rocks are estimated to weigh as much as 700 pounds (318 kilograms).

What's even stranger is that some rocks seem to move in long straight lines, then suddenly change directions. Others look like they've taken a smooth, curved path. Some of the tracks made by the stones are just a couple of yards long, while others run hundreds of feet.

The lakebed is very isolated and rarely visited by people. Nobody has ever been there at the right time to actually see a rock in motion. Because of this, over the years a number of odd theories have been developed about what might be behind the phenomenon. Some of the ideas include magnetism, mysterious energy fields and even pranksters. Some of the more extreme solutions involve flying saucers and aliens.

Scientists Take an Interest

The strange phenomenon was first documented in 1915 when a prospector named Joseph Crook from Fallon, Nevada, visited the area. Crook observed that some of the stones sitting on the lakebed were at the end of long "tracks," giving the impression that they must have moved, scraping up a little less than an inch or so of the soil as they crept along.

In 1948 two geologists, Jim McAllister and Allen Agnew, published the first scientific report of the phenomenon in the Geologic Society of America Bulletin. The two suspected that high winds and wet, slick mud on the lakebed might be behind the odd movements. It also occurred to them that if the effect was due to conditions on the valley floor, they might find rocks that do the same thing in other locations. A similar phenomenon was found to be happening at Little Bonnie Claire Playa in Nye County, Nevada, and later on at Great Slave Lake, in Canada's Northwest Territory.

In 1955 George M. Stanley looked into the mystery. He thought that the stones were too heavy to be moved by the wind alone. He suggested that at times the dry lakebed would flood and if temperatures were low enough, the water would turn to ice. As these ice sheets moved, they would carry the rocks they trapped along with them.

Corralling the Stones

It wasn't until 1972, however, that somebody decided to test Stanley's theory. Researchers Bob Sharp and Dwight Carey went to the valley and picked thirty stones for their test which looked like they had moved in the recent past. They gave each of the stones names and placed stakes in the ground near them to mark their current locations. They then picked a few special stones and created a corral around them using metal stakes made of rebar. The idea was that if a large ice sheet was involved in moving the stones, they would be blocked or deflected by the stakes of the corral. The stones seem to take no notice of the corral, however, and one of them left it that winter only narrowly missing one of the stakes on its way out.

This seemed to indicate that if ice was involved, it was just a small collar of ice around the stone itself, not a large sheet. One of the other things that came out of the seven year study was the observation that none of the stones seemed to move in the summer. Only during the winter.

During the study 28 of the 30 stones originally selected for monitoring moved. The smallest stone (named Nancy) which was only a few inches across, moved the longest distance: 860 feet (260 m). The largest stone to move weighed about 80 pounds. One of the heaviest stones, Karen, which was estimated to weigh 700 pounds, did not move at all.

However, after the test period was over, Karen disappeared. It was rediscovered by San Jose geologist Paula Messina in 1996 about a half mile from its last known location.

In 1995 another scientist, Professor John Reid, and several of his students went to Racetrack Playa to examine the mystery. They found evidence that despite the research done in the seventies at least some of the stones were moving due to being embedded in a large sheet of ice (up to half a mile wide). They based their conclusions on the marks found on the ground after the winter of 1992-1993.

However, there is confirmation that the stones can also move individually. In 2011 a study suggested that the dry lakebed can flood, then freeze. As the water thaws, ice may cling to the stones, floating them like little icebergs. Partly floating in the water with ice to reduce the friction, a strong gust of wind can get even a very heavy stone moving. Once a stone is on the move, the energy it needs to keep going is only half of what is needed to get started, so they can continue for quite a distance even if the wind gust drops.

The Tabletop Experiment

In 2006 Ralph Lorenz, a NASA scientist, developed a tabletop experiment that seemed to confirm the idea of "ice rafts" floating and moving the stones. He was first drawn to the sailing stone mystery because he was interested in meteorological conditions on Saturn's moon of Titan and Racetrack Playa seemed to have some very similar characteristics.

Lorenz put a rock into a Tupperware container and then filled the container with water until the rock was almost covered. He then froze it and let it thaw out a bit until there was just a small raft of ice with the rock caught in it. He then put the rock with its "ice raft" into a tray of water with sand at the bottom. The ice floated the rock so that it only lightly sat on the bottom. Lorenz could then blow on the rock and it would move easily across the sand, leaving a trail behind it.

Scientists would like to confirm the stones' movements by the use of inexpensive time-lapse digital cameras, but so far it's a difficult task to catch the rocks in the act. It is believed that a single stone might not move for years and when it does, the movement might only last about 10 seconds.

Thus though there seems to be a logical mechanism for the movements of the stones, nobody has actually ever seen it happen. So we still can't disprove that it isn't just the result of a group of extraterrestrials out to play a prank on us humans after all.

Clocks also function Anticlockwise - Bolivia

As the earth turns on its axis, the sun appears to move across our sky.The shadows cast by the sun move in a clockwise (hence the definition of clockwise) direction for objects in the northern hemisphere. If the same clock is used in southern hemisphere (Eg.Australia),the shadows cast by the sun move in a anti clockwise direction. 

Circular motion can occur in two possible directions. A clockwise (typically abbreviated as CW) motion is one that proceeds in the same direction as a clock's hands: from the top to the right, then down and then to the left, and back up to the top. The opposite sense of rotation or revolution is (in North American English) counterclockwise (CCW), or (in Commonwealth English) anticlockwise (ACW). In a mathematical sense, a circle defined parametrically in a positive Cartesian plane by the equations x = cos t and y = sin t is traced counterclockwise as t increases in value.

Before clocks were commonplace, the terms "sunwise" and "deasil", "deiseil" and even "deocil" from the Scottish Gaelic language and from the same root as the Latin "dexter" ("right") were used for clockwise. "Widdershins" or "withershins" (from Middle Low German "weddersinnes", "opposite course") was used for counterclockwise.

The terms clockwise and counterclockwise can only be applied to a rotational motion once a side of the rotational plane is specified, from which the rotation is observed. For example, the daily rotation of the Earth is counterclockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, and clockwise when viewed from above the South Pole.

Clocks traditionally follow this sense of rotation because of the clock's predecessor: the sundial. Clocks with hands were first built in the Northern Hemisphere (see main article), and they were made to work like sundials. In order for a horizontal sundial to work (in the Northern Hemisphere), it must be placed looking southward. Then, when the Sun moves in the sky (east to south to west), the shadow cast on the opposite side of the sundial moves with the same sense of rotation (west to north to east). This is why hours were drawn in sundials in that manner, and why modern clocks have their numbers set in the same way. Note, however, that on a vertical sundial (such as those placed on the walls of buildings), the shadow moves in the opposite direction, and some clocks were constructed to mimic this. The best-known surviving example is the astronomical clock in the Münster Cathedral, whose hands move counterclockwise.

Occasionally, clocks whose hands revolve counterclockwise are nowadays sold as a novelty. Historically, some Jewish clocks were built that way, for example in some synagogue towers in Europe. This was done in accordance with the right-to-left reading direction of the Hebrew language. Bolivia, under the regime of Evo Morales, shifted to counterclockwise clocks in 2014, to promote indigenous values.

The clock on the facade of the building housing the Bolivian congress in La Paz has been reversed.

Its hands turn left and the numbers have been inverted to go from one to 12 anti-clockwise.

Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca dubbed it the "clock of the south".

He said the change had been made to get Bolivians to treasure their heritage and show them that they could question established norms and think creatively.

Creative approach

"Who says that the clock always has to turn one way? Why do we always have to obey? Why can't we be creative?", he asked at a news conference on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca says he has been wearing a "clock of the south" wristwatch for a while

"We don't have to complicate matters, we just have to be conscious that we live in the south, not in the north," Mr Choquehuanca added.

He also told reporters that Bolivia had presented foreign delegations attending the recent G77 summit in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz with left-turning desk clocks.

The clock given to the delegations is shaped like the map of Bolivia and includes a disputed territory which is currently located in Chile but which Bolivia claims as its own.

'Bad idea'

Asked if Bolivia's left-wing government would try to extend the use of the reversed clocks, Mr Choquehuanca said that they should not be imposed on anyone.

"If you want to buy a clock of the south, do so, but if you want to continue using a clock of the north, you can continue doing so," he said.

The new clock received a mixed reaction from La Paz's residents.

Shoe shiner Franz Galarza, who works in Murillo Square where the legislative building stands, told Efe news agency that the new clock was "a bad idea".

"If they want to send out the message that the country is heading in another direction, then they'll have to make that clear, because all the people who are walking past Murillo Square say they thought it was an error, a mistake."

Under President Evo Morales, an indigenous Aymara, Bolivia has passed a number of measures aimed at boosting its indigenous heritage.

The country has, for example, adopted the whipala, a rainbow-coloured indigenous flag, which is now flown alongside the traditional red, yellow and green banner used since the 19th Century.

The clock in Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, decorated by Paolo Uccello, travels anti-clockwise.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Srikanth Bolla of Hyderabad

Visually challenged since birth, MIT junior Srikanth Bolla is going to make a difference for disabled people everywhere. The native of Hyderabad, India, already has. But, ask the Course 15 major, who received a fellowship from the MIT Public Service Center, what he’s most proud of, and he simply says, “I’m not proud ... I have to do much, much more.”


Last year, Bolla launched a computer research and training center and digital library for visually challenged students at Samanvai, an India-based nonprofit that provides support services to children with multiple disabilities. Bolla is a board member, and is in charge of Samanvai’s web development and fundraising. He also oversees the design of new projects. “By providing computer education and accessible educational material, we can create self-confidence, increase academic potential and reduce the educational gap between mainstream and special learning,” he says.

As the son of an illiterate rice farmer and his wife, Bolla had a difficult start to life, and he faced an uncertain future as he started work in the rice paddy fields alongside his father. An uncle suggested he attend the Devnar School for the Blind, hundreds of miles away from his hometown. At the school, he struggled, but soon applied himself, learned English and went on to score high grades, and eventually acceptance to MIT.

Bolla has chosen to focus on management studies even though he has a keen aptitude for computer science. He plans to be an entrepreneur and a future leader. In fact, one of his many ambitions is to be president of India. “With management, it’s in my hands. I can use management skills however I like. If my ideas work out in the business world, I can make a lot of money and I can help others with that money,” he says. One of his ideas is to start a company that will manufacture assistive technology devices.

Once he graduates, he will pursue an MBA and a PhD in education. “I like the philosophies of MIT Sloan, which prepare students to go out into the world to solve problems. I would love to do that,” he says. “My dream is to inspire, create awareness, improve accessibility and have an inclusive society.”

His academic advisor, Lori Breslow, director of the MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory and senior lecturer at MIT Sloan, said she is impressed with Bolla’s inspiring goals. “Srikanth combines tenacity with a commitment to excellence. He isn’t afraid to take on big challenges and he doesn’t shy away from working hard. His dedication to helping others fuels everything he does,” she said.

To know more about srikanthbolla click here

Augustine Swapna - Mouth and Foot Artist from Kerala

Name: Augustine Swapna
DOB: 21-01-1975
Birth Place: Pothanicad, Kerala
Painting Style: Foot painter
Member of MFPA since: 1999
Nationality: Indian

Ms. Augustine Swapna was born without arms. Already as a child she made a habit of performing all tasks, including painting and drawing, with her feet. As her talent for art was soon discovered, her parents and teachers gave her the necessary support and encouragement to continue painting when she was only a schoolgirl. Her paintings were published in students' newsletters and youth magazines.  

Ms. Swapna has participated in several group exhibitions in India. She has been a member of MFPA since 1999.   

Formed in 1956, the MFPA is an international, for-profit association wholly owned and run by disabled artists to help them meet their financial needs. Members paint with brushes held in their mouth or feet as a result of a disability sustained at birth or through an accident or illness that prohibits them from using their hands. Over the last 50 years, MFPA has brought to the forefront, the aesthetic creations of these disabled artists by providing them a platform to express their artistic talent. Instilling a sense of freedom and dignity, the Association offers its members an opportunity to earn an independent, honest and secure livelihood through the sale of their artwork.

Stephen Hawkinng - A world renowned Scientist,Physicist & Writer

Disability: Motor Neuron disease or a variant of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Stephen William Hawking is a British theoretical physicist, whose world-renowned scientific career spans over 40 years. His books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity and he is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Stephen Hawking is severely disabled by motor neuron disease, likely a variant of the disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or ALS). Symptoms of the disorder first appeared while he was enrolled at Cambridge; he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs, hitting his head. Worried that he would lose his genius, he took the Mensa test to verify that his intellectual abilities were intact. The diagnosis of motor neuron disease came when Hawking was 21, shortly before his first marriage, and doctors said he would not survive more than two or three years. Hawking gradually lost the use of his arms, legs, and voice, and as of 2009 was almost completely paralyzed.

To know more about hawking click here

Traffic Ramasamy - A chennai based true public volunteer

City’s notable social worker, public interest litigant, whistle-blower, arbitrator — all put into one is Traffic Ramaswamy is a 75-year-old former mill worker, a founder member of Tamil Nadu's Home Guard, and a self-appointed traffic policeman, public interest litigator and social activist from Chennai.


Much of his activism relates to regulating traffic in Chennai. Initially, he started unofficially directing traffic at the city's busy Parrys Corner.The local police were pleased with his efforts and provided him with an official identity card.He acquired the nickname, Traffic Ramaswamy after that.

He has brought many public interest lawsuits in the Madras High Court.In 2007, he was attacked by his opponents' lawyers on the steps of the courthouse.This was not the first time, he has been attacked: in 2002, he was assaulted by fish sellers, after he obtained a ban on the use of motorised fish carts, damaging his sight and his family have disowned him. He has also had his office ransacked and papers were stolen.However, helped by donations from friends, he claims he will continue his fight to make Chennai the most livable and lovable city.

His activism has resulted in the demolition of some illegally constructed buildings in Chennai, restrictions on motorised fish carts, de-congestion of major bus routes by banning auto rickshaws from them, and a review of lavish state funding for a feature film (arguing the money could be more properly used for development work). He is now accompanied day and night by an armed police bodyguard.

On October 2013 he filed a PIL against the Chief Minister of the state of Tamil Nadu Jayalalithaa seeking for the removal of name Amma from the Government schemes. Jayalalithaa is called as Amma by her followers.

Talking to Asian Tribune, “Traffic” (that is how Traffic Ramaswamy is known) says he has hit more than a century with his brow-raising, controversial, yet pointed and sharp, trend-setting Public Interest Litigation petitions in Madras High Court as well as Supreme Court. For some ‘Traffic’ might be terrific; he is a ‘do-better’ for the society, in that he is a go-getter.. Heaped with bouquets and brick-bats, undaunted 76-year-old Ramaswamy goes on with his tireless social commitment. He argues his own case as ‘party in person’.

Ramaswamy has single-handedly brought many public interest law suits in the Madras High Court. In one recent case, he was attacked by his opponents’ lawyers on the steps of the courthouse. This was not the first time, in 2002, he was assaulted after he obtained a ban on the use of motorized fish carts, damaging his sight. He has also recently had his office ransacked and papers were stolen; his family has disowned him. However, helped by donations from friends, he continues his fight to make Chennai the most livable and lovable city.

‘PIL king’s first public interest litigation was in 1998 when he filed one questioning the NSC Bose road in front of the Madras High Court being kept as one way, although it was a broad road. The result, it went two way.

From then on Ramaswamy went on non stop, his almost all PILs going sure success. Even when PILs were viewed critically by the High court at a point of time, and those that were publicity-oriented and wasting courts valuable time and fined, that did not deter Traffic Ramaswamy. “I went ahead, mine were justifiable,” he says.

His PIL to cleanse the city of roadside hawkers, and make the pedestrian pathway free of congestion, found about 5000 hawkers getting covered shops at T. Nagar, Moore Market and elsewhere.

Gets police escort

His PIL to ban the fish-cart vehicle (tri-wheeler motorized rickshaws) in September 2002 earned the wrath of the fish-cart drivers and he was attacked right in front of the L & O Inspector. Ramaswamy’s PIL was to find a way to end the fish-cart connected accident that was growing in the city and many two-wheeler riders became victims. When the attack was reported to the Court, he was provided with armed police guard. Since 2002 he is with an escort police.

If T.Nagar’s Usman Road and Ranganthan street, which were bursting in seams with shopping crowds, it is because Traffic’s PILs that pulled down high raise buildings (Chennai silks, Saravana Stores, Jayachandra Textiles to name a few), removed the hawkers, regulated unauthorized constructions.

In 2007, Ramaswamy’s PIL made Motor Vehicles Act section 129 enforceable with wearing helmet made compulsory throughout the country. He brought out the dormant rule to the light that motor vehicle sellers’ package should include an helmet also. This gave way to a Government Order (G.O.) that directed RTO to register a vehicle with an helmet, like insurance papers, road tax, pollution check certificates, although ‘helmet-rule’ is followed in breach today, due to political ‘go slow, go soft’ direction.

If the city’s water bodies like Porur lake is glistening with sheet of water, again it is because of his PIL, the encroached huts and colonies were cleared, and Cooun river in front of MGR university at Maduravoyal is back to its full breadth.

In 2004 when advocates were boycotting courts in Tamil Nadu, his PIL in the Supreme Court, upheld his contention and 160 advocates were arrested. Again when the lawyers were on strike on Sri Lankan Tamils issue and on subsequent attack by police on them, with shamiana spread on full length of the road, blocking one-way traffic for more than 35 days, this ‘Traffic’ could not keep quite, he was out with his weapon—PIL. That’s all some lawyers went to ’kill’ him. There is a case against 10 lawyers, FIR filed and pending.

His PILs

Recent PIL questioned Tamil New Year change

His recent two PILs are noteworthy. His one PIL challenged the government’s move to make the first day of the Tamil month of Thai as the Tamil New year’s day on June 26, Friday. Traffic’s original petition in 2008 was dismissed with a cost of Rs. 10,000 for non-appearance of the petitioner. He went to Supreme Court and reversed the order and brought the matter back to the high court for hearing. He questioned the order of the government that it had not given any reason to alter the Tamil New Year from the existing Chithirai 1 to Thai 1. He wanted the new year day restored to the first day of Chithirai.

By another PIL he sought to restrain the authorities from collecting road toll at 15th kilometre on NH-5 Chennai-Kolkatta highway. Pointing out that the four-lane was not constructed by L&T, Ramaswamy said toilets, rooms, pedestrian underpass, service roads and bylanes too had not been completed before the toll collection was started. The toll gate near Karanodai did not have a canopy and lacked light, he said, adding that there was no uniform fee collections too. Describing it as a scandalous activity, Ramaswamy said that instead of the original 27th kilometre toll was being collected at 15th km on the highway.

Traffic Ramaswamy started his career as a mill worker He was a founder member of the state’s Home Guard, and a self-appointed traffic policeman, who slowly grew out to be a public interest litigator and social activist.

His first focus was on controlling the city’s chaotic traffic. Initially, he started unofficially directing traffic at the city’s busy Parrys Corner. The local police were so pleased with his efforts that they provided him with an official identity card. He acquired the nickname, Traffic Ramaswamy, shortly afterwards.

Ramaswamy recently unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha elections from South Chennai constituency. His wife and daughter with grand son and grand daughter are living away from him, however he visits them frequently.

When the city’s problems and administration of social rules go unwieldy, the services of such a person are need of the hour. Chennai must be thankful to him. However, he has friends and foes together.

See more about Traffic Ramaswamy by clicking here

A Rickshaw Puller's son - Today an I.A.S Officer

He has cleared the IAS toppers list this year; thus setting an example of empowerment through education. Although due credit goes also to his father who has toiled all the past years to educate his son with a dream in his eyes!


When Govind got the news of clearing the Civil Services Exam, tears ran down Govind Jaiswal's face and refused to stop. Staring him in the face was the only thing he had ever wanted, and now that he had achieved it.

He waited till the tears dried up, till the news sunk in and made that one phone call on which depended the hopes of his entire family.

Govind, the son of an illiterate rickshaw vendor in Varanasi, had grown up with cruel taunts like 'However much you study, you will still be a rickshaw puller.' He had studied with cotton stuffed in his ears to drown the noise of printing machines and generators below his window in a poor neighbourhood where small workshops existed cheek by jowl with tiny residential quarters.

He had given Math tuitions to supplement the paltry sum his father could afford to send him each month. His ailing father had sold a small plot of land to give Govind about Rs 40,000 so that he could move to Delhi which would provide him a better place to study.

Throughout his life, he had lived with only one dream -- to become an officer of the Indian Administrative Service. For him that was the only way. And when he broke the news to his family, that he was ranked 48 among 474 successful candidates in his first attempt at the exam -- it was the turn of his three sisters and father to weep with unbridled joy.

I could not afford to have any other career goal. My life would have been absolutely futile had I not made it into the civil services," says Govind, just back from his medicals in New Delhi, mandatory for the IAS.

"You must understand that my circumstances were such that besides the Civil Services, I had no option. I didn't have much of a chance with lower government jobs because they are mostly fixed, neither could I start a business because I had no money. The only thing I could do was work hard at my studies."

It was almost impossible for him to study in the one room he shared with his family. To add to his woes was the power cut that extended between 10 and 14 hours every day. The moment the lights went out, he had to shut the window to block out the deafening noise of generators in the many workshops around his home.

So in search for a quiet place to study, he briefly shared a friend's room at the Banaras Hindu University. Since that did not help him much, he did what many civil services aspirants in northern India do -- he moved to New Delhi.

For his son to make a fresh start in a city Govind had never visited before, Narayan Jaiswal, Govind's father, sold the only remaining plot of land he had saved after getting his three daughters married.

Working for ten years at the government ration shop, Narayan earned a living by weighing goods at the store. One day when the shop shut down, he bought one rickshaw and hired it out. He added three more and at one time was prosperous enough to own about 36 rickshaws.

That was a period of financial security and Narayan was prudent enough to buy three small plots of land. With three daughters to marry off, he knew he would need it in times to come. But bad times soon befell the family. His wife passed away when Govind was in school. For 10 years there was acute hardship. The rickshaws dwindled.

On his meager earnings, the uneducated rickshaw vendor with a hearing disability continued the education of his children. The girls were married after their graduation -- Narayan sold two pieces of land for the weddings, the last plot was sold to achieve his Govinda's dream.

Narayan gave his son Rs 40,000 to prepare for his Civil Services exam in New Delhi and pursue his childhood dream of becoming an IAS officer. For the next three years, he sent his son between Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,000 every month, sometimes foregoing the expense of treating the septic wound in his foot that continues to nag him till today.

Outside his narrow lane, opposite the Varanasi City railway station, where Narayan Jaiswal parks his rickshaws and spends most of his waking hours, he still walks barefooted with a bandage, one end hanging loose and scraping the dirty road.

"Beyond this year, my father could not have afforded to send Govind any more money. It was getting very tough for him. Govind was earning Rs 1,500 from tuitions, I don't know what he would have done if he didn't make it to the IAS this year. My father could not sleep for 10 days before the results came," says Govind's eldest sister Nirmala, whose son is almost the same age as her brother.

Now that he will earn Rs 8,000 as his starting salary during his two-year training period in Mussoorie, Govind says his first priority is getting good treatment for his father's wound.

"I want to look after him, I don't know if he will leave Varanasi but I will definitely move him out of this rented room that we have lived for 35 years."

If his son's new job dramatically changes things for the better, Narayan Jaiswal is quite unaffected by it. He is surprised by the scores of journalists and well wishers flocking to his house.

Until now, courier delivery boys found his house with great difficulty but now even the fruit cart-wallah, one-and-a-half kilometres away, will tell you where the 'IAS' house is.

"I like my work. I haven't decided about the future -- what could be a better place than Kashi? As long as my son looks after me, what else can one want?" he says, visibly uncomfortable with the media spotlight.

Having lived his life in Varanasi, the holy city on the banks of the Ganga, Govind has given his home state Uttar Pradesh as his preferred region of posting. If he doesn't get UP, he is open to being sent to any state in India.

"Varanasi needs a tight administration. As for me, I want to be a good officer. We are the agents of change and I as an administrator would like to inform common people about their right to know, their right to information. The benefit should finally go to the people."

His hero is President A P J Abdul Kalam. Govind is reading the Hindi translation of the President's best-selling book On Wings of Fire and takes out a nicely thumbed copy from a plastic bag.

"After Gandhiji, President Kalam has given us a dream and the power to dream. His dream is of a developed India and he is a symbol of many common people's dreams."

In a time when the Indian bureaucracy has its drawbacks like a lack of accountability, corruption and perpetuating a system that was handed down by the British to rule a subordinate population Govind's thoughts are fired by the idealism of youth. He insists his idealism will not be watered down in future years, that he will not allow himself to be influenced.

"I am a product of my circumstances that has been wrought with hardships. When I go out as an officer my character will be put to the test, and then I want to see what a real man I am."

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