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Race Science Article Image

There is a thin line between finding genetic differences amongst individuals (this primarily includes the research on human diversity) and constructing these genetic differences across groups (this involves our biased categorisation of the human population on basis of their colour, the shape of eyes, etc.) by making conscious choices!

“The undeniable truth is ‘Race’ does not exist biologically; human genetics does!”

In simple words, race is a social construct without any biological meaning. The differentiation categorised as “Race” does not exist in nature, it is created by human choice!

Before we proceed, let us look at how the clinical predictions based on race are wrongly used.

Across the world today, skin colour is highly variable. The study on genetics is greatly influenced by race which differentiates people as “white” and “black”. It is strongly believed that the “whites” are resistant to a few diseases which are prominent in the “blacks”. And that the “blacks” are stronger when it comes to few ancestral adaptations that make them prone to few major diseases found in the “whites”. 

The British Chinese people are known to have a higher rates of asthma. As for sickle cell, it is rare in white Americans. Similarly, cystic fibrosis is under-diagnosed in people of African ancestry because it is thought of as a ‘white’ disease. Diabetes has become an epidemic in South Asia. Hypertension, persistently high blood pressure, is strongly associated with being black according to research in the US and the UK. 

Now, for our better understanding, let us segregate and tackle the above-stated conditions understandably and smartly. 

The colour variation which is a foundation for the concept of race is just a natural adaptation. The difference in the skin tone closely correlates with latitudes. Scorching sunlight near the equator makes dark skin a useful shield against the ultraviolet radiation; towards the poles, where the problem is little sunlight, paler skin promotes the production of vitamin D. 

The mere assumption that every British Chinese patient will be predisposed to asthma cannot be the right way to diagnose or treat a health condition. Each person is different from the next. While sickle cell anaemia is rare in white Americans, it does not have a direct correlation to skin colour or ethnicity. Instead, it is related to malaria. Those with the sickle cell mutation enjoy some protection against that disease but its also true that it’s found in people of all complexions with roots in regions of the world in which malaria is common. Proceeding to diabetes, it is an adverse side effect of unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyles due to unprecedented economic growth in millions of Indian families. Living in an urban environment is associated with higher blood pressure with the most significant risk factor being high usage of salt. Most of the population facing higher blood pressure belongs to the US and the UK and is “white”. It is because their diets have traditionally been lower in fruit and vegetables and higher in fatty meat and salt. 

The framing of race as an essential genetic variable dominates the biomedical landscape. It is so woven into medical frames of understanding that it’s assumed to be the main player when it comes to rationalising racial differences! 

But it's unfair to choose somebody's race as a clinical prediction and conclude as to how different races respond in different ways to drugs and medical procedures!  Few effective drugs that do wonders in one race can be completely ineffective in another. 

Then, what when the racial concept is thrown out? What other variables should be considered in the study of ‘Race Science’? 

The research has come to a stage where it can be stated openly that under clinical settings, the heterogeneous nature of racial groups is questionable. So, despite the widespread use of race in scientific research, it is now the most controversial tool for making sense of human diversity. 

Further studies related to human genetics should use concepts like ancestry instead of the race.  Ancestry is a process-based concept that helps us understand the admixing events that lead to one’s existence. It’s also a statement about an individual's relationship to other individuals in their genealogical history. Thus, it is a very personal understanding of one's genomic heritage. 

In the past decade, the ability to sequence DNA from tumour tissue has fuelled major advances in how cancer is treated, ushering in an era of medicine known as precision oncology, in which doctors use genetic data to match cancer patients to drugs that target the specific cell mutations underlying their disease. This major advancement in the research was possible only when the study of “ancestry” was opted over “race”!  Moving ahead, someday the field of human genetic research might become independent of the race.

The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut.

WOMEN IN TRAVEL Article Image 1

Who among us has not travelled? In the world of today you will concede, not travelling, is an anomaly hardly anyone can afford. We travel to new places for study, work, and sometimes leisure. As an essential element of life we hardly devote any thought to the phenomenon of travelling, but rather plan the ends which must be achieved by it. But travel was not always such a benign act as it is today – a century ago the seemingly innocuous and natural act of traveling could make one liable for harsh social sanctions. More so if you were a woman. It would seriously diminish your reputation.

Travel and Caste Sanctions 

Travel was akin to murder for Hindus before the 20th century. Men like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi were threatened with excommunication from their community if they dared to cross the sea. Well, Gandhi did what he had to do and the rest as they say is history. If such harsh social sanctions were imposed on upper caste, educated, wealthy Indian men for travel, what chance did Indian women stand in an orthodox patriarchal society? 

The prime reluctance for high class-educated Hindus to cross the “black waters” was the fear of encountering polluting impurities that could pollute their caste. However, for the minorities in India like Parsis, Muslims, Armenians and Indo - Portuguese the reluctance to travel was far less, aided in no small measure by their cultural ties to countries west of India. However, women from all faiths and communities found it equally difficult to set foot in the open, on their own, due to their gender and financial deprivation. But where there is a will there is a way: there were women who bucked the trend and made the impossible possible by daring to dream and travel.

The following narratives tell compelling tales of courage, passion and adventure in women who turned their noses up to  patriarchy and a life of confinement. 

Pandita Ramabai (1858 - 1922)

Transgression could be her second name! Marrying a Bengali ‘lower caste’ man was the first in the line of many subversions this Maharashtrian Brahmin woman embraced all her life. In 1883, the year when most men fretted the idea of leaving shores, Ramabai packed her bags and left for England to study medicine. She practiced subversion and dissent all her life and made a profound statement for the emancipation of women. 

Cornelia Sorabjee (1866 – 1954)

If Oxford university was obstinate, Cornelia was headstrong! She went to England and appealed for an admission.  She didn’t give in till the famous university shunned its prejudice and granted admission to her. Hence Cornelia became the first ever woman to study law at Oxford. 

Atiya Fyzee (1877-1967)

Atiya did what very few women of her faith did at the time. She travelled. She travelled alone and unveiled! A scholarship took her to the very heart of the empire - London. Atiya was besotted by English fashion, the streets of London, English education and most things British. Her confidence in herself remained unflagged. She was an inspiration to thousands of her tehzibi sisters who vicariously experienced a sense of freedom and adventure through her perky  travel accounts. 

European Women in India

Circumstances weren't any better for European women. Travel was largely a male bastion. Only wealthy women with no prospects of marriage could travel. Travel was believed to violate women’s chastity and innocence which could make them unsuitable for their traditional role of the ‘angel in the house’. After the European colonial expansion when more men started taking employment in the colonies as civil servants, military men etc. women started traveling with them as wives, daughters and mothers. 

In India these women were confined to homes and their interactions with the natives were only limited to servants. They were prohibited from venturing out and mingling with the local population. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan in 1799, British snobbery and colonial superiority spiked and William Dalrymple’s world of ‘White Mughals’ faded where the British in India would slip in to native clothes, smoke the hookah and take a native wife. A strict patrolling of racial boundaries came into place that prohibited these women from intermingling with the natives. But then some of them punctured these boundaries. 

Fanny Parkes (1794 - 1875)

Her race and ethnicity never came in the way of fulfilling the wanderlust of this fiesty woman! Fanny Parkes spent 24 years in India between 1822 and 1846 and remained an Indophile all her life. She refused to be another sulking white memsahib in India. Leaving behind her husband to fulfill her wanderlust, she travelled alone extensively in North India on horseback, in boats and palanquins, befriending locals in the process. She was fluent in Persian, Urdu and Hindustani and became an ardent critic of the British Raj in India. After spending the most exciting part of her life in India, she was bored and disenchanted with life in England after her return. She spent the rest of her life writing lively accounts of her travels describing her fascination with the local customs, people, the natural beauty of Delhi and Banaras.

Emily Eden (1797 - 1869)

Emily Eden was the sister of George Eden, the Governor-General of India between 1835-1842. Unlike Fanny Parkes, she travelled in great comfort and luxury  with a huge entourage of servants, cooks, coolies, and elephants and horses. She met and mingled with the Kings and Queens and the other elite of India. Unlike Fanny Parkes, Emily Eden despised most things Indians. Her class consciousness and colonial superiority stood in the way of her perception of India apparent from her rather snooty account of her travel. Nonetheless she should be commended for traversing difficult terrains and discovering India beyond its heat and dust.

I believe travel is never a matter of money but of courage. These phenomenal women showed extraordinary courage and paved the way for  modern women to seek more, expect more and not let age old shackles hinder their personal and physical journeys. 

The author of this article Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is an avid reader and a keen traveller. 

If you are interested in medicine, yet being a doctor doesn’t appeal to you, or if you are falling short of the cut-off in NEET, a career in the ever growing Pharmaceutical sector could be a perfect choice for you. Read the article to find out more about it. 

All You Need to Know About a Career in Pharmacy

Introduction

When the din of the world gives you a headache or when you come down with a cold? What about a toothache, or a fever? What does the doctor prescribe when energy levels sag, or when some organ decides to go into overdrive? Medicine, isn’t it? From North to South, East to West, from one corner of the world to another, it is in the nature of man to fall ill. But have you ever taken a moment to think about the pill you pop or syrup you drink to alleviate your discomfort? How is the pill made, who decides how it is made? Enter, the pharmacist who makes a career out of studying medicine, examining how drugs are conceived and created, and how they interact with each other, as well as the body. 

The pharmacist studies medicine, biology, ethics, chemistry besides being trained to face patients. If you are interested in medicine, yet the nomenclature of a doctor doesn’t appeal to you, or the late hours that a nurse must keep don’t agree with you, Pharmacy career is just for you. It allows both kinds of temperaments to flourish – the one interested in applied knowledge, and the one interested in research. You can either practice as a pharmacist, or invest in research. 

What is the scope of B. Pharmacy?

With a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 15% over the last five years, the Indian Pharma industry has significant growth opportunities. Pharmacists represent the third largest health care professions in the world after Nursing and Doctors. So, there is immense scope for Pharmacy graduates to make a career in this field. 

What you’ll learn in B. Pharmacy? 

Pharmacy education in India is primarily  focused on the basic sciences. 

In B. Pharmacy you will learn all about medicines, chemicals, their effects and uses, and how to manage and dispense them. You will study what effects drugs have on human body, the origin of these drugs, the process of preparation of medicines and practices followed for quality check during the manufacture of medicines. You will also need to keep yourself updates with the new drugs that enter the market. 

The B. Pharmacy course covers a comprehensive range of major and minor subjects like Human Anatomy & Physiology, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, Pharmacology, Pharmacognosy, Biochemistry and Pharmaceutical Engineering and Technology. Minor subjects may include, Hospital Pharmacy, Clinical Pharmacy, Immunology, Marketing & Business Management, Computer Applications, Pharmaceutical Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Computational Chemistry and / or minor projects and industrial training.

Skills you should focus on developing while pursuing B.Pharmacy

Remember companies look for specific skills before they offer you an offer letter. So, along with good academic records, a good Pharmacist should also have a scientific bent of mind, good communication skills, friendly disposition, research and scientific acumen. 

What job can you get?

An obvious career choice for pharmacy graduates is in the industry, either as sales and marketing executive or in quality control departments of the pharmaceutical units. One can also work as a drug inspector, drug controller or as a hospital pharmacist. 

However, with the advent of technology the role of Pharmacists is undergoing changes. The new age pharmacy jobs require computational  and management skills along with subject knowledge. Jobs as big data scientists, computational pharmacist scientist and life cycle management scientist have started emerging. 

Contribution to the society!

Your primary contribution to the society is creating new drugs, and improving old ones to prevent and fight disease. Every year millions in the country die from lack of affordable drugs, or diseases to which cure has yet not been found. As a pharmacist you will be at the forefront of this battle against disease. Second, in a country where the medical sector is terribly understaffed, the pharmacist can help in reducing the pressure on emergency services, and contribute greatly to saving lives especially in places where access to quality medical care is a great challenge. 

 

Thursday, 13 June 2019 08:31

How to Make a Career in Music?

Beyond the shimmer that a successful career in music brings, lies years of training, persistence and a lot of soul searching. If you are planning a career in music, reading this article might help.

How to Make a Career in Music Article Image 1

Music is the elixir for the soul. Wake up early one morning and you can hear the musical chirp of birds, at night you can hear the beetles sing. On a still afternoon, you can hear the breeze whizz in the trees. But I suppose the question is : Do you enjoy music? Yes? Would you like to make a career in music? Yes. Then read on. Let me help you in choosing music as a career for yourself. 

1.       Make up your mind 

Most people are unable to decide whether they want to enjoy music as audience, or they want to learn to sing or play a musical instrument because that will make them happy or help them understand music better. Or is it that they want to carve out a career in music? While music as a hobby can be every bit enjoyable and can be pursued at will, when it comes to making a career, things get serious and require greater thought and planning. A career in music involves a lot of hard work and may require years of dedication before it can make you any money.  So, take some time out to introspect what music means to you. Once you realize that music is your life and blood and you want to pursue a career in it, the clarity will automatically make your efforts more pointed and improve your chances of getting success.  Knowing what you want is the first step towards achieving what you want.

2. Training is Useful 

There are enough singers and musicians who have taken the music world by storm without any formal training. Kishore Kumar and S. P. Balasubraemaniyam are the names that instantly come to mind.  Unfortunately not all of us are as gifted as them. A formal training in music is not a must but it helps. Training brings out your latent talent as a singer, musician or instrumentalist and gives you a strong foundation that gives you the confidence to compete and create a space for yourself in the commercial market.  It also instills a discipline towards your craft which goes a long way in determining your success. Even the most popular and accomplished musicians have Gurus to mentor them. Think of your favourite singer or musician and it is likely that behind their glittering success lies years of  hard work and training with a Guru. Enroll yourself in a University offering a comprehensive B. A or M.A course in Music. Music is not only about holding the mike and singing, there are other aspects such as music management, playback singing, sound recording, music composing, lyric writing, music production etc. Enrolling for a course will introduce you to the various aspects of music, making it easier for you to identify your true interest.

3. Networking 

Being talented and trained helps only when you meet the right people at the right time. Networking and meeting other musicians and singers can open a host of new opportunities to showcase your talent. You can team up with them to perform at events and music gigs. Don’t be shy to reach out to people who you feel can assist you and be helpful in pursuing your dream.

4. Look for Job Opportunities

It is essential to practice what you learn.  Don't wait for your music course to get over before you start looking for a job in the music industry.  It is advisable that you look for music industry jobs in whatever capacity possible to familiarize yourself with the work environment. The sooner you start the better it is. You can perform at events, do stage shows, join a radio station or if you find likeminded people, form your own band. Look out for reality shows on television and radio. Many shows like ‘Indian Idol’ or ‘India has got Talent’ are the stepping stones to getting quality exposure, and getting yourself an audience to boot.

Until you enter the commercial work space, you will not be able to move out of the practicing mode. Experience counts and each work experience will add to your confidence.

5. Harness Social Media

Social media has a reach that is beyond any medium conceived till now. Social media has the power to make you viral but even if you don’t get viral you can generate a decent audience. And the icing on the cake is that it is all free. Just upload a video of yourself on Youtube or Facebook or Instagram or whichever medium floats your boat. If you are a budding artist, and put in good work, the likes and views are sure to follow. It won’t be long before you come to the notice of those who matter, and viola you have a contract or a job.

In effect, then Music is a great opportunity to marry fun and work. And yes, you can get fame and rewards too if you cultivate a good work ethic, and hone your talents. So why dither! Look no further ahead, and plunge into the world of music.

 

Women in Science 2019

What do you see when you picture a SCIENTIST? Usually Albert Einstein, a bad hairstyle, in a white lab coat? That is something that occurs to us instantaneously!

“Scientists define sciences by pushing past the bounds of human knowledge and breaking down the thought barriers of time”.

We celebrate them as geniuses who have upended our understanding of the cosmos, the planets and of ourselves. By and large, the science and technology field is still arguably male dominated.
It’s a rare possibility that we would visualise a woman surrounded with equipment, copying notes while she closely observes the chemical reactions in a glass flask.
As a minority, scientific contributions by women are often under appreciated. It’s a sombre fact that gender inequality still remains prevalent in the science and technology fields.

A few women scientists who defied this stereotype were written out of history!

In 1903 Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, and in 1911 became the first person and only one of four others to win the Nobel Prize, twice. To this day, Marie Curie is the only person to receive a Nobel prize in two different sciences.
Some facts:

  • It was a woman, Rosalind Franklin, who discovered the structure of DNA.
  • It was a woman,  atmospheric researcher Eunice Foote, who first outlined the global greenhouse effect and worked towards measures for elimination.
  • It was a woman, Maria Mitchell, a professional astronomer who discovered the first comet which was then called “Miss Mitchell’s Comet.”

These women paved the way for future generations of women scientists and explorers. But highlighting the stories of these women in science is more than just augmenting women’s history. It's about understanding the cultural attitudes, historical forces and social realities that made science what it is today and what it will be tomorrow. 

Women in Science - Do they often feel unwelcome?
The domain of STEM has for long been a white men’s club. It’s how the history of Science is often told - we tend to think of the world in one way and then people like Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Edison come along and shake up our understanding of fundamental things. But, in this trope of ‘lone genius’ : something thats usually applied to men, a few women thriving in science involuntarily got added. Inspite of women’s roles being unfairly overlooked in major scientific discoveries, many women in science revolutionised the ‘unwelcome’ tag and have emerged as successes.

 Katie Bouman 

Recently, the world laid eyes on the first image of the black hole and it shattered our fundamentals of understanding the great scientific mysteries of the universe. The woman scientist, Katie Bouman, lead the creation of a crucial algorithm that captured the image of a supermassive black hole for the first time.
The black hole image was captured by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), a network of eight linked telescopes, which was rendered by an algorithm (an algorithm : a set of rules used to solve problems). A single telescope isn’t powerful enough to capture the black hole, so a network of eight was set up using a technique called interferometry. The data Katie Bouman captured was stored on hundreds of hard drives. She attempted a testing process with different assumptions and multiple algorithms to recover an image from this data.

Gagandeep Kang

Biologist, Gagandeep Kang, made history by becoming the first Indian woman scientist to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, Britain’s main and prestigious scientific academy. She is known for her inter-disciplinary research of infection in children and has played an important role in developing vaccines against typhoid and rotavirus. She has also worked for the last 30 years on gut infections in Indian children and what those infections do to children in terms of their nutrition and mental development.

Gagandeep Kang said, “We don’t see many women scientists around and very few in the leadership role. It’s not because women are less capable but because the system (science establishment) doesn’t provide the necessary support in terms of flexible working hours or shifting of jobs.”

Ada E. Yonath

Keeping in view the extraordinary work that these women scientists have contributed to the field of science,Vishwakarma University, Pune decided to honour them. In the recent VUIC 2019 event, Ada E. Yonath was invited as the guest of honour.

Israeli crystallographer, Ada E. Yonath, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for her pioneering discoveries on the structure and function of ribosomes, the protein synthesisers in cells. While addressing the young minds, Ada Yonath elaborated on conveying the joy of science to young people and encouraging drug companies to develop new and better antibiotics. She also keenly emphasised ‘Curiosity’ as a good quality for any budding scientist.

While women like Bouman, Kang and their countless peers, will always serve as shining examples of where the women in science stand, it may take subtler, more consistent changes to turn the tide. Having more visible women at the forefront of science will inspire thousands of other women who want to pursue their work in an environment of parity and respect!

 

Thursday, 25 April 2019 04:42

7 Career Options After 12th in Arts

Career Options After 12th in Arts

Are you an Arts student, confused about finding the right course in college? Worry not! We have curated a list of career options after 12th for you, that cash on your creative potential while promising to be financially rewarding!

Ask a child his or her aim in life, and I bet you that nine out of ten times, the aim would be to be a doctor or an engineer. It is not completely beyond understanding either – in a country where one lives forever on the edge, engineering and medicine seem a sure shot way of raking in the moolah. Who wants to be poor, after all? Humanities is often pooh-poohed, therefore, for precisely the same reason? Scope kya hai? The parents say wagging authoritative fingers at the child.

The answer is Scope hai! Gone are the days when Engineering and Medicine were considered to be the only dependable career options. Today, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences graduates have a wide range of lucrative careers to choose from. A degree in Economics, Graphic Design, Psychology, Journalism, Fashion Design, Law, in Interior Design etc. can open a plethora of opportunities to art graduates. If you have finished your exams and wondering what to do after 12th, look no further. We have curated a list of career options after 12th in Arts that can be your gateway to a bright future.

1. Journalism and Mass communication

If there’s one career that never goes out of demand, its journalism. In this era of instant communication, people constantly want to keep themselves abreast with the latest happenings around them. It will give you the satisfaction of having bylines to your credit, which you can flaunt and rub in the face of naysayers. Besides, a career in journalism gives you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. A degree in Journalism and Mass Communication makes you eligible to work as a reporter, photojournalist, and last but not the least a TV news presenter etc. Imagine all your family is huddled in the living room, and your face beams in from the television as you direct people to answer what the nation wants to know! Imagine! 

Do you draw and doodle when the teacher drones on in the class? Worry not! A sharp eye and a sharp wit can take you places as a cartoonist. In days of yore, poor cartoonists had to do the bidding of the editor. No more, no more. Post your cartoon on your social media page, get thousands of likes, and earn without the hassle of a regular job. If you can hone your writing skills to write eye-catching captions and precise stories, web journalism too opens a host of opportunities for you. An 800 word piece for Reuters alone can fetch you about 90,000 rupees.

2. Psychology

Jaanay kyun, jaanay kyun? Aamir Khan croons in a Hindi song. Have you ever wondered, how human beings think? Why someone reacts to a situation the way they do? Why some people are outgoing while others are shy? If you have more questions than answers, study Psychology. India ranks among one the unhappiest countries of the world, if a recent survey were to believed. An unhappy person is a shrink’s delight. Besides, with awareness rising about mental health in India, the demand for trained psychologist is set to rise. Corporates need psychologists to understand client behaviour, train employees in problem solving, or simply to market themselves better. As a corporate consultant, one can set up a globe-trotting career consulting with firms and businesses around the world. These are just two possibilities – you can train as a military psychologist, child psychologist, forensic psychologist, occupational psychologist…the list is a long drawn one, and you get the hint, don’t you?

3. Economics

Money makes the world go round and always will! Manmohan Singh did not become a Prime Minister for nothing. Economics as a subject is growing in popularity these days because of its widespread applicability. You could teach it, you could work at a bank or financial institution, you could work in a corporate, you could provide advice and consultancy, or you could simply help people decide their investment options. The sky is the limit. Rural studies, statistics, GDP, banking, finance and development – all can be included under its ambit. You could be the next Raghuram Rajan!

4. Law

As long as the world adheres to the contract of civilization, law will be needed. And as long as law exists, a lawyer can never be out of work. There are many fishes in the legal pond, just drop a line and Eureka, you will make a career out of it. You can work as a corporate lawyer, a criminal layer, family lawyer, a civil lawyer etc. If you can combine your legal knowledge with good interpersonal and communication skills, you can have a good number of clientele to your credit. You could sit on the bar too with a legal degree, and adjudicate at the top seats of justice in the country and the world.

5. Fashion and Apparel Design

Don’t you love the pretty clothes on show at the mall? That pair of jeans that caught your attention, that skirt that made you look at the mirror and sigh! You could be the lead force behind creating those clothes.
The fashion and apparel industry in India is currently estimated at approximately $ 70 billions and its set to grow exponentially. The fashion designing courses after 12th prepare you for the fast-paced, exciting and glamour industry. Graduates can find employment as a Brand Manager, Fashion Journalist, Costume Designer, Accessory Designer.

6. Graphic Design

Appearances may be deceptive, but they are useful. They are the first thing that catch your eye. What should a particular product look like? How should I design my website or my brochure or my proposal that it catches the eye? In steps the graphic designer. A graphic designer should have an eye for color, understanding of shapes and a creative bent of mind. A degree in graphic design can teach you the basics but like any other field most of the learning takes places 'on the job’. To succeed as a designer, you need to keep your eyes open, be observant and learn to think on your feet.

7. Interior Design and Decoration

Often times people take interior design and interior decoration to be the same thing except that they are not. Interior designers are a combination of engineer and artists. They possess a thorough knowledge of material, budget, installation, electrical safety and construction etc. This broader range of required knowledge distinguishes them from interior decorators who mostly decorate the available space according to the taste of their client. Interior design and decoration is hard work but for those who are willing to learn to balance the practical and aesthetic aspects of it can go a long way. It is a financially rewarding and creatively satisfying career. Ask Twinkle Khanna, she left films for it.

The author of this article, Richa Singh is a content writer with Investronaut. She is a voracious reader and a keen traveller.

“ Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”

This has been a cruel irony for the mariners or for a matter of fact to any thirsty person who has ever gazed upon a sparkling blue ocean.

Desalination Graphene sieves

 

The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 14% of the global population will suffer water shortage. In addition, climate change, decreased rainfall and rising temparatures is expected to wreak havoc on urban water supplies. Draught conditions exacerbates fresh water supply, and people tend to look to the oceans for answers. It is after all, a seemingly inexhaustible supply.

A growing trend?

In an attempt to overcome this global hurdle, scientists have imagined a coastal city of the future. Along with the basic infrastructure such as a port, roads, sewer lines and an electricity grid, they have proposed a Desalination Plant as part of basic infrastructure. Thanks to improved technology, turning ocean water into freshwater appears to have become a more economical and viable answer to the problem.

But can we miss the Global Implications of the Desalination Technology?

Most desalination technology follows either of the two methods: distillation through thermal energy or the use of membranes to filter salt from water.

In the distillation process, saltwater is heated to produce water vapour, which is then condensed and collected as freshwater. The other method employs reverse osmosis to pump seawater through semi-permeable membranes (paper-like filters with microscopic holes that trap the salt while allowing freshwater molecules to pass through). In both cases, the remaining salt water is then pumped back into the ocean.

But we cannot miss out on the GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS of this technology! The existing, industrial-scale desalination plants are expensive. One impact is the discharge of salt during the desalination process on coastal or marine ecosystems. This was of increasing concern in the Gulf. The Gulf states are heading for “peak salt”: the more they desalinate, the more concentrated wastewater, brine, is 

pumped back into the sea. And as the Gulf water becomes saltier, desalination becomes more expensive. The desalination technique has drawn criticism from environmentalists, who argue that it involves large amounts of energy, produces greenhouse gases and harms marine organisms.

Graphene - The nano-sized magic material was discovered in the due course. Can it fix the drawbacks of Desalination Plants?

This negative criticism by environmentalists has brought a major drop in the research and implementation of these desalination plants. It was amidst these trial and error methods when Graphene was discovered. Ever since it was discovered, graphene has been hailed as a natural wonder in the materials world, destined to transform our lives in the 21st century.

Graphene's amazing properties excite and confound in equal measure. How can something one million times thinner than a human hair be 300 times stronger than steel and 1,000 times more conductive than silicon? This two-dimensional special material is blessed with a special atomic arrangement. The one atom thick layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice is the secret behind its unmatchable potential as a material.

Researchers in the United Kingdom then put on paper a graphene-based sieve that could filter salt out of seawater, a development that could provide drinking water to millions of people around the globe. Its exceptional applications were realised as a game-changer in countries where access to safe, clean, drinkable water is severely limited. The scientists began racing to develop an inexpensive graphene-based barrier for desalination on an industrial scale.

The research has advanced to a stage whereby a compound of graphene, known as graphene oxide, can be used to create a rigid sieve that could filter out salt using less energy.

“Graphene sieves can make seawater drinkable!”.

 Overcoming hurdles

In recent years, there has been some success in water filtration using graphene oxide to sift out other smaller nanoparticles and organic molecules.

But researchers are struggling to move forward after finding that the membrane's pores swell up when immersed in water, allowing particles to continue to pass through. They have progressed in fixing this glitch and the technique to control the expansion and size of pores is developed. The pore-swelling is restricted by coating the material with an epoxy resin composite that prevents the sieve from expanding. This means that common salt crystals can continue to be filtered out, while leaving behind uncontaminated, clean, drinking water.

 Will the ultimate goal of getting freshwater from oceans with the help of graphene sieves be fulfilled?

 The ultimate goal is to create a filtration device that will produce potable water from seawater or waste water with minimal energy input

Our focus is to be able to design and produce appropriate graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes. This discovery will be a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology.

The selective separation of water molecules from ions by a physical restriction of interlayer spacing opens the door to the synthesis of inexpensive membranes for desalination. More work still needs to be done to test the durability of the barriers and to confirm that the membrane is resistant to fouling by organics, salt and biological material.

The bottom line is that water treatment with membranes that separate water molecules from ions, pathogens and pollutants will always be proposed as an energy-efficient solution to the freshwater crisis.

The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut. 

References :

https://www.printedelectronicsworld.com/articles/14384/graphene-sieve-turns-seawater-into-drinking-water

http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80858e/80858E09.htm

https://journosdiary.com/2017/04/03/desalination-graphene-sieve/

Friday, 29 March 2019 12:00

Our Oceans - A Plastic Soup

Hello there! Yes, you! You just ignored the advertisement on the television set -  the iDEA 4G commercial.  You looked past it like every other issue that is left unaddressed! Was the commercial not catchy? Was it just another beach scene where  ‘auntyji’ tosses some litter and a random girl educates and sensitives her on the issue of keeping clean?  Unless an issue costs our lives, we do not pay attention.

We fail to realise that the solution to a problem starts with awareness, research and the measures to contain it! 

OurOceansAPlasticSoup

Source:https://cbsnews1.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/r/2018/12/16/3e692fa0-da0f-400d-bf83 dcd6df8d1343/thumbnail/1200x630/0bd72f0ca5e9ef48dece036b13b5406d/plasticmain.jpg

12 year old Pune based Haaziq was moved by a documentary on the ocean pollution and decided he had to do something about it.  To visualise the magnitude of this pollution, lets stack two litre plastic bottles from here to the moon and back, TWICE! The problem is so severe that not only the bed of the ocean but a layer at the depth of 12 km below the surface of the ocean, is heavily polluted with floating plastic and pollutants.  Ocean pollution is not an oft discussed subject and we still do not understand the  exact magnitude of it. Although there is research presenting statistics on it, it is sad how we have not fully comprehended the damage we done to earth. A few days ago, there was research that stated that the salt we consume has roughly about a 92% chance of containing micro - plastics.

Our Oceans A Plastic Soup

 Source : https://img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/58fedc241400001f00a9ba05.jpeg?cache=g53kbekm0j&ops=scalefit_970_noupscale

Annually over a million birds and 1,00,000 marine animals die because of plastic in oceans.  About 66% of all fish caught across the world have ingested plastic in some way or another.  What one should realise about marine animals dying from plastic is not the number of deaths, rather the process which leads them to death.

The thing with the death of animals consuming plastic is that it’s not an instantaneous death. Lots of these birds and animals eat the plastic thinking it is food, only for the plastic to get stuck in their stomach or intestinal lining. Some creatures have downward facing spines in their throats which prevent the possibility of regurgitation. Most animals are unable to get the plastic outside their body once they swallow it. Which leads to either blockage in their stomach and intestine. This prevents them from consuming food leading to starvation. Imagine not being able to eat anything and starving to death slowly and painfully. 

Did you know many sea animals commonly deal with “bubble butts”. It makes them float as a result of trapped gas caused by harmful decomposition of marine debris. Not only does it lead to starvation it also makes them an easy target for predators. 

The plight and struggle of the aquatic life, trying to survive the waste dumped into the oceans moved 12-year-old Haaziq Kazi to come up with an innovative solution to this hazard. And that's how ERVIS was born, a futuristic-ship with saucers attached, that can 1)clean waste matter floating on the ocean surface 2) analyse the waste collected and 3) stop waste at source, prevent it from getting disposed by ships. 

How does ERVIS work?

ERVIS is a bleeding edge design of an intelligent ship. This ship is essentially powered by hydrogen and renewable natural gas with various compartments and saucers surrounding it.  The saucers, float on the surface, gravitate to create a whirlpool to pull the waste towards its centre. These saucers have a central inlet which swallows the waste and are connected via a tube to various chambers in the ship. As per design, there is a sensor or mechanism on its bottom which detects marine life, water and plastic while passing on from the ocean.  Marine life and water are left out and only the waste is sucked in.

OurOceansAPlasticSoupship

Source : https://im.indiatimes.in/content/2018/Nov/ervis_designed_by_haaziq_kazi_1543032191.jpg

There are four chambers which are for large, medium, small & micro waste respectively. These chambers include an oil chamber which collects waste oil. Based on the type of plastic it collects, ERVIS compacts and stores it. Once the waste enters the chambers, ERVIS analyses, segregates and compacts it, and pumps the filtered water back into the ocean, without harming any marine life in the process.  The waste is collected and analysed, it's then sent back to land for recycling. 

Haaziq explained,“While designing ERVIS, I was cautious and I didn’t want it to add to the problem of ocean pollution which current ships in oceans do. Around 20 percent of waste in oceans is contributed by marine ships so I wanted ERVIS not to be a contributor to it. From start, I wanted ERVIS to be powered by renewable energy sources like solar and renewable natural gas". 

He further added, "The initial design principle of ERVIS was to go in deep ocean and deal with large ocean waste problem but I realised closer to home we have 2 of the top 10 rivers in the world who contribute to the ocean waste problem – Indus and Ganga. India also has a very large coast line suffering from same waste problem. While playing with the model, I realised that it could be scaled down to man rivers and seas, essentially any water body to collect waste and clean it”. 

Long live ERVIS and its motive of cleaning the oceans and restoring the natural habitat!  Haaziq derives his inspiration from Elon Musk and has a vision of turning his dream project into a beneficial ship under Tesla.  He is also working with conservation organisations and forums to create awareness about the ill effects of ocean plastic pollution and ways to prevent it.

References - 

https://amara.org/en/videos/S10exQ2KMB5a/en/2111152/

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/jan/23/12-year-old-pune-boy-designs-ship-to-clean-oceans-save-marine-life-1929003.html

Pacemaker and X rays Accidental inventionsSometimes I feel lucky that I was born in an era where technology has brought a revolution to the whole world. And today,  technology has made our life so advanced that we can get everything at our doorstep with just a single click of our smartphones. The revolutionary tools, equipments and gadgets have completely changed the way we live our lives as compared to a decade ago. With this advancement, it has become impossible for us to imagine our life without these gadgets and equipment. 

But to really appreciate the effects of technology – both its virtues and costs – we need to examine the world of humans before technology. What were our lives like without inventions? For that we need to peek back into the Palaeolithic era when technology was scarce and humans lived primarily surrounded by things they did not make. The advancements in inventions led to discoveries that changed the human lives tremendously.  A few noted accidental inventions without which life would have been unimaginably difficult are stated here. 

(Pacemaker - The original idea)

With one of our most vital organs being the heart, conditions such as arrhythmias where the heart either beats too slow, too fast, or with an irregular rhythm can have extremely detrimental effects on one’s everyday life. People may be unable to continue an active lifestyle, suffer breathing problems, and even subsequent organ damage that can lead to terminal ailments or death. A pacemaker helps assuage the problems of arrhythmias to increase longevity and help those with heart conditions to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle. Using electrical pulses, a pacemaker can regulate heartbeats to pump blood throughout the body at a normal rate.

Notable inventor, Wilson Greatbach, invented the first implantable pacemaker by accident while he was attempting to construct an oscillator that would be utilised to record different heart sounds. Pulling one of the resistors from the wrong box led to the advent of the life-saving device that is used prominently today. A rhythmic beating sound was rendered during his flub, and it was then that Greatbach decided to scrap his original invention and create an implantable pacemaker. After two years of fine-tuning the device to perfection, the pacemaker went on to be hailed as “one of the ten greatest achievements of the last 50 years by the National Society of Professional Engineers.”

(WAND - the latest developed pacemaker)

A new Neuro stimulator developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, can listen to and stimulate electric current in the brain at the same time, potentially delivering fine-tuned treatments to patients with diseases like epilepsy and Parkinson’s.  The device, named the WAND, works like a "pacemaker for the brain," monitoring the brain's electrical activity and delivering electrical stimulation if it detects something amiss.

These devices can be extremely effective at preventing debilitating tremors or seizures in patients with a variety of neurological conditions. But the electrical signatures that precede a seizure or tremor can be extremely subtle, and the frequency and strength of electrical stimulation required to prevent them is equally touchy. It can take years of small adjustments by doctors before the devices provide optimal treatment.

WAND, which stands for Wireless Artifact -free Neuromodulation Device, is both wireless and autonomous, meaning that once it learns to recognise the signs of tremor or seizure, it can adjust the stimulation parameters on its own to prevent the unwanted movements. And because it is a closed-loop -- meaning it can stimulate and record simultaneously -- it can adjust these parameters in real-time.

(X-rays   - The original idea)

If we didn’t have X-rays, would we suddenly just assume we had (or didn’t have) a broken bone? Would surgeons need to merely guess which part of the body is fractured? And what would we be doing during this time when the pain of the broken bone gets unbearable and the doctor is still figuring out which one is broken?I digress…

X-rays are an integral part of the medical field, as they can show medical professionals if and where a broken bone or fracture has occurred, where a bullet is lodged, signs of pneumonia and they are also used to identify breast cancer with mammograms. The use of X-rays has become so standard in medical practice, it is hard to believe that the invention of the X-ray was a complete accident. 

In 1895, physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was spending time in his lab in Germany to try and figure out if cathode rays were able to pass through glass (you know, typical physics stuff). To block a majority of the radiation, Rontgen had set up thick pieces of cardboard around a fluorescent screen, but was in for a surprise when he noticed a strange glowing on the screen penetrating the cardboard barriers every time he switched on the cathode ray.

While others may have decided that level of radiation was terrifying and just scrapped the project, Rontgen investigated the glowing screen and found that the glowing permeated several objects. He even placed his hand in front of the screen only to be welcomed by the sight of the bones in his hands, thus discovering that the ray could penetrate almost anything except for things like bone and lead.

It took years to perfect X-rays, as scientists and doctors didn’t initially realise the harmful effects of radiation, which can cause fatal conditions like skin cancer. Today, X-rays are used widely in medicine and also in airports for extra security measures.

(CERN - the latest developed X-ray)

What if, instead of a black and white X-ray picture, a doctor of a cancer patient had access to colour images identifying the tissues being scanned? This colour X-ray imaging technique could produce clearer and more accurate pictures and help doctors give their patients more accurate diagnoses.

This is now a reality, thanks to a New-Zealand company that scanned, for the first time, a human body using a breakthrough colour medical scanner based on the Medipix3 technology developed at CERN. Father and son scientists Professors Phil and Anthony Butler from Canterbury and Otago Universities spent a decade building and refining their product.

Medipix is a family of read-out chips for particle imaging and detection. The original concept of Medipix is that it works like a camera, detecting and counting each individual particle hitting the pixels when its electronic shutter is open. This enables high-resolution, high-contrast, very reliable images, making it unique for imaging applications in particular in the medical field.

And ohh yes…all this while we thought science was difficult! I always pondered over the unimaginable inventions and cursed the scientists for being so smart! Now I know the secret behind unbelievable scientific inventions - it was purely accidental.

References :

  1. https://home.cern/news/news/knowledge-sharing/first-3d-colour-x-ray-human-using-cern-technology
  2. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/06/03/magazine/innovations-issue.html

AI and Improving Manufacturing Bottomline Article Image

Change is inevitable. We constantly need to adapt to changes surrounding us to be able to survive in the world and the manufacturing industry is no exception. Many companies have used artificial intelligence to improve their bottom line. Artificial intelligence helps identifying the flaws in the system, suggest purchases to new and returning customers and streamlines the supply chain process. In fact, according to the reports, supply chain is one area today that is leveraging the benefits of AI.

With the growth of manufacturing industries, the volume of data has also increased drastically. Hence, companies are looking for more sophisticated systems to make business intelligence processing more effective. This is the primary reason why manufacturing companies are ldepend on AI techniques to increase their productivity and increase revenue.

AI and Supply Chain Management

The prime responsibility of supply chain management is to respond to customer demands by providing exact supply match as efficiently as possible. There are three important factors that have led to an inability to match demand and supply: -

  • The inability to forecast the real demand
  • Production gaps leading to reduced supply
  • The difficulty in synchronization between different supply chain partners

All these factors lead to failures and losses because our current systems are incapable of providing correct information in a timely manner to manage the demand and supply equation. Any kind of information gap is detrimental to an efficient  supply chain. The big question is how does a company use artificial intelligence to better manage demand and supply.

Enhancing Demand Forecasting Accuracy

It is not easy to function in a supply chain environment if you are unable to forecast the demand. Traditional methods of forecasting included statistical techniques for forecasting. Historical sales data is used to predict demand. These techniques are unable to process large sums of data and have struggled from time to time in providing accurate information. However, with AI in place, it’s easier to provide precise data and improve demand forecast.

Bridging the Production Uncertainty Gaps

While working in the manufacturing industry, machines will break, and you will not always be able to deliver. This will further lead to low output, delayed shipments, and interruption in the supply chain. Artificial intelligence helps in maintaining equipment by continuously collecting information on equipment breakdowns.  Timely repairs can be scheduled based on this information that help in avoiding delays.

Smarter Inventory Management

Managing inventory is one of the biggest challenges for every supply chain manager. However, with AI’s predictive modelling, it’s easier to predict how much stock is needed and decrease or increase production, thereby bringing down the cost of holding inventory.

AI is the Future in Supply Chain Management

Adopting the latest technologies to meet higher consumer expectations and demands is the need of the hour. AI helps throughout the supply chain management process with faster turnarounds for better results. Artificial intelligence will not only make people’s lives easier but also streamline businesses.

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