Mallet Ferry Wharf

Mallet Ferry Wharf! I visited the place. It is a ferry terminus and fish trawlers unloading port in Bombay. Whole area smells of fish even from a distance. Hundreds of fish traders stand on the platform and fish baskets are conveyed to top from boats by ropes and mesh nets.

There are mounds of fish of every kind. Every single inch is covered with sea  fish. There are porters towing it away on the carts. Water drips from the  baskets made of the bamboo carrying the fish. Trucks and tempos  are loaded with the fish for taking it to the different parts of the city. Every boat has a flag and while standing in the parking area these boats  bob up and down in the waters.

Bhaucha Dhakka

A very popular variety of fish called “Bombay Duck” also dries on the ropes in the boats. This fish is cooked both as  fresh or dried and does not have bones. The rows of hanging fish on the ropes look like buntings.

There were fisher women, very fat and strong. The boats which have emptied their catch were parked to one side. The fishermen on them were preparing the food: lentils, rice and of course fresh fish.

Crows pecked at the fish filled in the baskets waiting to be put into the trucks. These seemed to have become bored by eating and eating in plenty. Seagulls caught the floating dead fish thrown out of the boats.

On the right side is the ferry wharf station from where ferries ply to Mora Bunder in Uran and Alibaug, and to Elephanta caves. People wait there on the benches.

Most of them are inhabitants of fishing villages. There are shops selling refreshments in the waiting area. They come here on buses from Mumbai and take ferry for crossing the sea and to avoid the torturous road journey.

The journey is thus reduced from many hours by the land route to an hour or so. In the earlier times, when British were here most of the work force belonged to people from Konkan Ghats and used the sea route for coming to Bombay. Still many people working at the docks belong to this area.

Journey of two lines

Once upon a time many years ago, a dot was born in the space at the origin and began moving forward in the time tracing a line. After sometime, another dot was born and began moving forward tracing a line like the another dot. Their traces were sloped, not parallel. So as the time passed, the lines traced by the dots began converging towards each other.

Then they met and coalesced at a point to become one. No one could discern that these were two lines overlapping each other except on a close examination.

For long years, they travelled forward more or less as a single line with some kinks here and there. Sometimes one colour and sometimes the other colour line was visible. A time came, not suddenly but gradually, they began drifting apart from one another and separated moderately from one another.

After sometime they became parallel to each other. As we know, two parallel lines however close are destined never to meet one another. How long this will continue because sometime or the other one of the dots will stop moving and vanish from the screen. Another lonely dot will continue for the time stipulated by the almighty for it and then there will be no lines. Story will come to an end.

Mass of Higgs Boson predicted by Homer Simpson!!!!!

Homer Simpson seems to have discovered the equation to calculate the weight of the elusive God Particle, Higgs Boson as back as a decade

Many of the episodes of the cult show “The Simpsons” are laced with mathematics. It is said the many people involved in the making of this show are mathematicians

In one such episode called “The Wizard of Terrace” in 1998, Homer Simpson turns into a mathematician and is shown pondering over a equation in front of the blackboard.

The equation is written as shown in the picture below.

If you put the values of all the constants in the equation, you come up with the mass as 13.8169×10-25 kilograms.

The latest value as reported in the respected magazine is of the order of 10-25 kilograms which is remarkably close to the value derived from the formula.

So is it a coincidence or something else? The observation was made by science author and presenter Simon Singh in his forthcoming book.

Benzene: The Dream of Kekule:

Continuing the subject of dreams, it is pertinent to mention that lucid dreams had helped many to make great discoveries and inventions. Since my subject is chemistry, I will touch upon one such famous dream which laid the foundation for understanding the structure and chemistry of  aromatic compounds.

As every one versed with chemistry knows, the benzene is the starting compound of aromatic compounds. Its structure was derived by Kukule’. His full name was Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz.

Kekule

Benzene was analyzed to have 6 carbon and 6 hydrogen atoms. Existing formula of all the organic compounds did not fit into the structure of benzene and explain its strange properties.

Kukule’ was working on this problem but could not find its solution. Totally engrossed, he fell into a sleep in front of fireplace. He has a dream of the atoms which he described in his own words as follows:

“...I was sitting writing on my textbook, but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation; long rows sometimes more closely fitted together all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis.”

So the snake he saw holding its own tail in its mouth was the the circular structure or closed ring structure of benzene. He immediately woke up and worked out his dream on the paper and by morning he had discovered the chemical structure of benzene.

From the chemical point, the formula of benzene is C6H6. Kekule proposed the following structure to explain the number of substitution compounds which have been synthesized  using this structure.

Still there were problems in explaining the two different compounds obtained when hydrogen atoms on adjacent carbons were substituted with two different radicals like Chloride, Nitrate, Iodide or CxHy. This is called ortho disubstituion. That is to say that C6H4XY will form two different ortho isomers depending  on whethere substitution has taken place C-C bond or C=C bond.  But such isomers have never been found. Kekule tried to explain this by saying that single and double bonds oscillate and thus become identical. Dr. Linus Pauling later on proposed resonance phenomenon, in which there are no purely single and double bonds but something in between and thus all C-C bonds are equivalent.

This has been conformed by UV analysis which shows all C-C bonds of equal strength and indistinguishable. This is like the Hindu God Shiva when He assumed ardhnarishwar or androgynous form to show that both male and female forms coexist in the body. The final outcome depends upon which of these dominate at a given time.

In the end of a lecture explaining the discovery of benzene, he said

“Let us learn to dream!”

Aloe vera

Aloe has a very long history of use. The sap was used medicinally by the Greeks and Romans, who obtained it from the island of Socotra. The Greek physician Dioscorides recorded the use of the leaves to treat wounds in the first century AD.

Aloe had reached England by the 10th century, where it appears to have been one of the drugs recommended to Alfred the Great by the Patriarch of Jerusalem. In the early part of the 17th century, the records of the East India Company show payments for aloe being made to the King of Socotra, who held a monopoly on the production of drugs from the Socotrine aloe.

Spotted forms of Aloe vera are sometimes known as Aloe vera var. chinensis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is not known whether the Socotrine aloe obtained in Greek and Roman times was from wild or cultivated populations. Today, however, African aloe (both Socotrine and Cape) is collected from wild plants, while in the West Indies, the plants are laid out in plantations like cabbages.

To prepare Aloe vera for market, the leaves are cut near the base of 24-36 year old plants. The resulting latex is collected and concentrated to the consistency of thick honey. A true concentrate produces a clear, translucent gel, which can be applied fresh, or it can be commercially converted into a more expensive ointment.

The gel can also be fermented to produce a tonic wine, to which honey and spices are added. In India, this is used to make a drink called kurmara or asava to treat anaemia and digestive and liver disorders.

The gel can also be inhaled in steam, and the powdered leaves can be used as a laxative. There is a danger that the huge tonnages of gel now sold in the developed world will mean that aloe is regarded as a cure-all for any ailment.

Versoli Beach

The coastline of India on the West side seems like the pages of book which have been chewed randomly by the termite. The water wedges deep inside the land in the form of creeks at so many places across the coast. Alongside the road to Alibaug from Panvel, one treads parallel to seacoast. There are small hillocks and the vista is full of features. The road is simply zigzag at many place. There are dense patches of vegetation on both sides of the road. Many small rivers which drain into the sea come across and there are bridges to cross them.

Monkeys can be seen right on the roadside near Karnala where a bird sanctuary exists. It is almost in the neglected state of maintenance. Only the woods are beautiful and have survived the human encroachment. Versoli beach is two three kilometers before reaching the Ali Baug town. You have to take a detour towards right hand to reach the village jutting the beach. There is a person standing at a crossing of the village charging money for entry into the town. On reaching the beach, another party of money collectors is standing. They explained that this money goes into the upkeep of the beach.

All the beaches seem alike to me except the difference in the cleanliness. People in India has typical attitude towards the enjoyment. It can be stated as “enjoy today and enjoy for yourself only”. Whosoever goes there thinks it as their right to litter the beach with polythene bags and water bottles. The aborigines are better than most city dwellers because they are not curious about the nature and think it as a part of their lives. They are not excited like the city people who start jumping and kicking and littering the place thinking that it is the authorities or other people whose duty it is to clean the house.

Anyway, we reached the beach. We took our lunch which we had packed from our home with us. We were particular about collecting the refuse into a bag and bring it back to properly dispose it. There are trees with coniferous leaves on the shore. These also are found on every beach near Mumbai. There was almost no clean place to sit. There are no benches erected on the shores to sit on and enjoy the spectacle of the sea.

It was a low tide and water has receded deep into the sea. The area exposed was almost blackish sand with clay. It is a beach formed by low energy tides. So you will see less sand more clay. The waves which were breaking at that time we went inside the sea were of very low height. They broke without causing any hissing sound. There were clumps of stones and pebbles hidden underneath the water. They are so sharp that they will cut your feet like knives. There are no warning signs. In fact, no attempts have been made to make the visit of tourist a pleasant experience.

Within half an hour, you will feel like going back. Many people because of lack any novelties resort to playing the cricket on the beach to while away the time. In my opinion, if you have visited one beach you need not to visit another one. All are same. Yes there are some interesting places like a Fort on the island near Murud Janjira beach. You have to take a boat to reach it.

Energy Saving Dye

Scientists at Oregon State University have developed a blue pigment. Mas Subramanian and his students have this to their credit. The dye is environmentally friendly and nontoxic. It is called YInMn Blue.

M. A. S. Subramanian

This is good news, because many inorganic blues are toxic or cause cancer, such as Prussian blue, cobalt blue, or ultramarine blue.

Dye

There is yet another property this dye possesses. It reflects light from sunlight especially in the infrared (heat) part of the spectrum. It is about 40% higher in reflectivity than most blue colors. This could prove to be ideal for paints used on cars, roofs, and other applications where keeping cool is desirable.

This will help in reducing the amount of energy consumption in cooling the vehicles as lesser air conditioning wil be required because it will reflect away much of the heat from the falling light. Because the paint is reflecting much of the energy, it tends to last longer as it is not broken down by the absorbed energy.

The compound was discovered by chance in the laboratory when a student heated a sample of manganese oxide (which is black) to 2,000 degree F. When it came out of the oven, it had been transformed into a bright blue color.

Subsequent analysis showed the compound had a trigonal bipyramidal structure—the shape of two pyramids pointing in opposite directions and joined at a triangular base. The central manganese atom is surrounded by five oxygen atoms. But other compounds—yttrium oxide and indium oxide—are required to stabilize the blue crystals.
Another application wil be paint the roof tops with this dye and save much energy.

Of all the predators Man is super predator!!!

Darwin, the father of evolution, had postulated that the species evolve constantly to adjust to the changing environment and climatic changes but this change is gradual in nature and takes place over thousands of years. But man is proving him wrong.

Being an expert killer backed by technical advanced equipment, man is bringing rapid changes which are perceptible within much shorter time. Man is super predator and its peculiar hunting preferences are forcing many species particularly of fish and large sized land animals to evolve at a rapid pace than the nature would have done.

There are stories of attacks by sharks on people venturing into sea and of being killed by lions or other carnivorous animals but they fade away when compared to the man. Scientists at the Victoria university at British Columbia in Canada who are studying the changes and the harm being brought upon the fauna by the man has termed the man as “Super Predator

In general the man hunts the largest of the animals. For examples adults of lions and tigers to flaunt them as the trophies of their valour and skill as opposed to the hunting animals who generally go far the weakest and younger prey.

Thus the man depletes the mature “reproduction capital” instead of the “reproductive interest” of the hunted species. For example, fish is caught in the nets and nets are so constructed as to retain the larger fish and filter out the smaller ones.

This is causing the the fish to mate early and produce the smaller broods. The size is diminishing. This is because the fish is also evolving techniques to survive and producing fish of smaller varieties which can pass through the larger net openings.

Man has hunted the sea creatures 14 times more than the sea predators and 9 times more than the land animals. Man is going for the bigger animals like sharks, tuna fish and marlin. This is changing the ecosystem at a much faster pace than nature.

Over Killing of the land predators has resulted in the increase of herbivore population. This increase is putting pressure on many resources and robbing the food from insects and birds which we cherish. And also resulting in producing the disease prone herbivorous animals.

Coconut Plant: Kalpavriksha

Coconut grow in the coastal areas. In India, whole of the coast is dotted with coconut trees. Kerala tops the list in coconut plantations. Known as Coconut in English, Narikela in Sanskrit & Nariyal in Hindi, coconuts can grow to between 15 and 30 m tall in plantations. Their trunks are ringed with scars where old leaves have fallen. The top of the trunk is crowned with a rosette of leaves.

Fruits are called coconuts. They are oval and covered with a smooth skin which can be bright green, brilliant orange or ivory coloured. Below the skin is a thick fibrous layer which is used for coir. The next layer is the shell of the seed with the three characteristic ‘eyes’.

The coconut finds so many uses. The shell may be used to make charcoal which is used in the water filters for absorbing the coloring contaminants.  The inside of the shell is lined with a white, edible layer called the meat. This is used to make chemicals, and medicinal products. The fluid inside the seed cavity is known as coconut water. This fluid contains many minerals and is taken as such to rejuvenate the body. It is recommended in case of dehydration caused by diarrhea. It has a cooling effect and removes the body heat in summers. When seeds germinate, the new shoot sprouts from one of the eyes. Due to so many uses, in India it has been called the ‘tree of heaven’ or ‘Kalpavriksha‘.

In India, it has great spiritual value. The three ‘eyes’ of the coconut represent the three eyes of the great god Shiva. An earthen pot or pitcher, called a purnakumbha is filled with water and mango leaves and a coconut is placed on top. This purnakumbha is used in the ritual of worship and adoration of the gods, called puja. It is placed as a substitute for the deity or by the side of the deity. The purnakumbha literally means a ‘full pot’ in Sanskrit. It represents Mother Earth, the water the giver of life, the leaves life itself, and the coconut divine consciousness.

In South Asia, coconuts are named Sriphala or fruit of the Gods and symbolize complete usefulness, selfless service, prosperity and generosity. The palms are believed to be the embodiment of the ancient Indian concept of kalpavriksha, or the tree which grants all wishes. It plays an essential role in many religious and social functions in South Asia.

Coconut is an integral ingredient of South Indian cuisine. It is used in one form or another in the food. It is used to make chutneys, thickened with milk and sugar to make delicious sweets. It is milk is used in many fish preparations. Its oil is used for cooking and hair dressing.

Apples

For those who are from  science stream, the Apple occupies a place of esteem. As the story goes, an apple fell on Newton,  one of the greatest physicists, mathematicians an philosophers as he was sitting under an apple tree and mulling over the gravity and suddenly the darkness was dispelled and outcome was his laws of gravity. This seems very ludicrous because the process of ideation is not  momentary. It goes on and on.

Apple is also the brand name of the revolutionary electronic products founded by Steve Jobs. Its product line includes laptops, ipods and ipads.

But one thing is true that Apple is the king of fruits. It is about apples hat doctors said “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apples are the most widely cultivated fruit trees. There are thousands of varieties of apples in the world. It is grown in the mild to cold climates. The apple has, like other fruits that has been domesticated, undergone a sea change from its original wild varieties.

Thousands of the varieties that are grown today can be divided broadly into three: Cider varieties, Cooking varieties and Eating varieties.

Cider varieties are usually more acidic, although cider can be made from any type of apple. Cyder is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruit juice, most commonly apple juice but also the juice of peaches or other fruits.

Cider Variety

Cooking varieties include the Bramley, one of the most popular and easily stored types of apple. Eating varieties include the well-known Cox’s Orange Pippin, Granny Smiths, Russets, Braemar, Golden and Red Delicious.

Cooking Variety

Eating apples have been selected for several centuries for their color, size, ‘bite’ sweetness, physical nature of the pulp revealed once bitten, and their aftertaste. The aroma of the ripe apple before consumption is also an important commercial consideration.

Eating variety

Modern selections are now so high in sugar and low in balancing Malic acid that dentists often no longer recommend apples to clean the teeth. It is same story like white rice. Rice in the natural form has a coating of brown color on the seed. This coating is rich in many vitamins especially “Vitamin B” and in the process of polishing this coating is removed and resulting rice is rich only in starch but poor in the minerals and vitamins. So the rice has to be taken with supplements like green leafy vegetables and fish to compensate for the minerals and vitamins. The famous 1930s slogan, ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away‘ extolling its value as a source of carbohydrate and dietary fiber, is no longer universally applicable as many varieties now contain so much sugar they actually cause tooth decay.