China Upgradaing Data Collection Station, Won’t Share Info On Brahmaputra

Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo) in Tibet

China today said that it cannot share with India the hydrological data of the Brahmaputra river for the time being as the data collection station in Tibet is being upgraded.

China, however, said it is ready to “keep communication” with India to reopen the Nathu La pass in Sikkim for Indian pilgrims visiting Kailash and Manasarovar in Tibet, which it had suspended in mid June over the Doklam standoff.

“For long time we have conducted cooperation on the river data with the Indian side. But to upgrade and renovate the relevant station in the Chinese side, we do not have the conditions now to collect the relevant statistics of the river,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media in Beijing.

Asked when China will provide the data, which was reportedly suspended due to the Doklam standoff, he said, “We will consider that later.”

Asked whether India has been informed about not sharing of the hydrological data, he said according to his information the Indian side is aware of it.

On August 18, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar had said that there is an existing expert-level mechanism, established in 2006, and there are two MoUs under which China is expected to share hydrological data on rivers Sutlej and Brahmaputra with India during the flood season of May 15 to June 15.

“For this year, we have not received hydrological data from the Chinese side,” Mr Kumar had said.

The data share by upper riparian state, China, to lower riparian states, India and Bangladesh is essential every monsoon to allow anticipation of the flow of the water and take necessary measures to deal with flooding in India’s northeastern states.


On the reopening of the Nathu La Pass for the Indian pilgrims visiting Kailash and Manasarovar in Tibet which was suspended over the Doklam standoff, Mr Geng said China is ready to “keep communication” with the India.

“For a long China has made efforts against all odds to provide necessary convenience to the Indian pilgrims.

According to the agreement reached between the two leaders and based on the fact that the western section of the India-China boundary has been recognised by the two sides, China opened the pass to the Indian pilgrims,” he said, replying to a question when China will open the route to the Indian pilgrims as the Doklam standoff has been resolved.

“China stands ready to keep communication with the Indian side in regard to the opening of the pass and other issues relating to the pilgrims,” he said.

The Sikkim route to Mansarovar was opened in 2015, enabling pilgrims to travel the 1500-km long route from Nathu La to Kailash Parbat by buses.

The Yatra was being organised by External Affairs Ministry since 1981 through Lipu Pass in the Himalays connecting the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in India with the old trading town of Taklakot in Tibet.



Cows to planes: Indian ministers who rewrote scientific history

India’s junior education minister, Satyapal Singh, raised a few eyebrows on Wednesday when he said that engineering students needed to be taughtabout ancient Indian scientific discoveries, including the fact that the plane was first mentioned in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana.

Mr Singh, who was the chief guest at an engineering awards ceremony in the capital Delhi, also told the gathering that the first working plane was invented by an Indian named Shivakar Babuji Talpade eight years before the Wright brothers.

Shivakar Babuji Talpade’s alleged achievements remain unverified and Mr Singh’s comments have been ridiculed on social media. However, he is not the first Indian minister to make such claims, either about ancient India’s contribution to science or that it invented the plane.

A speaker at a prestigious science conference in 2015 told his audience that the inventor was really a sage named Bharadwaja, who lived about 7,000 years ago.

Captain Anand Bodas, a retired pilot and head of a pilot training facility, also claimed that India had interplanetary aircraft thousands of years ago, along with sophisticated radar that was superior to today’s systems.

Here are a few other dubious scientific claims that have attracted attention in the past.

The god of plastic surgery

An Indian devotees shower rose petals and coloured powder on a huge idol of elephant-headed Hindu deity Ganesha during its procession for an immersion in Mumbai on September 5, 2017.

In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a gathering of doctors and medical staff at a Mumbai hospital that the story of the Hindu god Ganesha showed cosmetic surgery existed in ancient India.

“We worship Lord Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery,” he said.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha was created when Lord Shiva attached the head of a baby elephant to the body of a child.

Divine engineering

An Indian artist dressed as Hindu God Rama performs during a production of the traditional drama 'Ramleela', narrating the life of RamaImage copyrightAFP
Image captionDid Lord Ram build a bridge across the sea to Sri Lanka?

Last month, the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, Vijay Rupani, made a speech at the Institute of Infrastructure Technology Research and Management where he praised the “engineering skills” of Lord Ram, one of Hinduism’s most popular deities and the protagonist of the epic Ramayana.

The Ramayana says that Lord Ram built a bridge from India to Sri Lanka in order to rescue his wife Seeta, after she was kidnapped by the country’s demon king.

The Palk Strait, the narrow stretch of ocean that separates India and Sri Lanka, shows signs of what may well have been a land link made of shoals between the two countries. Many Hindus believe that it is, in fact, a remnant of the bridge built by Lord Ram.

“Imagine what kind of engineers Lord Ram had to build the Ram Setu that links Sri Lanka and India… Even squirrels offered their help in building the bridge… Even today people say that remnants of Ram Setu are in the sea,” Mr Rupani was quoted as saying by Indian media.

Cows exhaling oxygen


The education minister for the western state of Rajasthan said in January that it was important to “understand the scientific significance” of the cow, as it was the only animal in the world to both inhale and exhale oxygen.

Vasudev Devnani did not present any studies that disprove current science which has established that cows do in fact exhale carbon dioxide.

He was widely ridiculed after his comments were reported in the media.

Swapping soft drinks for tea can save your child’s teeth

Extractions are now the most common reason for children aged between five and nine to be admitted to hospital.

However new research has identified a simple solution which not only protects against decay but also reduces the risk of obesity and diabetes. “We should turn back the clock and encourage children to drink more tea,” says the scientist behind it, Professor Robin Seymour, emeritus professor of restorative dentistry at Newcastle University and an adviser to the Tea Advisory Panel.

He explains: “We have come to think of tea as an adult drink but until relatively recently even very young children enjoyed tea on a regular basis. Historic data shows that in the 1950s more that half of all four-year-olds drank tea which is far more tooth-friendly than the fizzy drinks, squash or juice they often drink today.”

Studies confirm children get most of their free sugars, which are the most damaging, from soft drinks. An average 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola has 13.5 cubes of sugar, which is more than twice the recommended daily maximum for a child aged seven to 10.

Even supposedly healthier options, such as orange juice and blackcurrant squash, have about 7.5 cubes of sugar in a 300ml serving; 50 per cent more than the upper limit recommended for four to six-year-olds.

Professor Nigel Hunt, who heads the faculty of dental surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons, says: “The sweet habits of our children are having a devastating effect on their teeth. That children as young as one or two need to have teeth extracted is shocking. It’s almost certain the majority of these extractions will be down to tooth decay caused by too much sugar.”

Swapping soft drinks for tea would slash sugar consumption but Professor Seymour’s study, which has just been published in the journal Oral Health, shows that is not the only reason why tea is good for our teeth.

Fizzy drink


Children get most of their free sugars, which are the most damaging, from soft drinks

Tea is also rich in natural fluoride and among adults it provides about 70 per cent of the recommended daily intake. Unlike the fluoride in toothpaste, because the fluoride in tea is absorbed, it also begins strengthening teeth before they emerge, making it beneficial for younger children.

Professor Seymour’s study adds: “Fluoride also has benefits for bones, since at low doses it can embed in the bone matrix protecting against erosion, resulting in increased density and hardness.”

In addition to fluoride, tea also contains polyphenols with antibacterial activity which help combat bacteria associated with cavities, gum disease and bad breath. These polyphenols also suppress production of acids which contribute to erosion of dental enamel and cavities.

Concerns have been raised about the potential dangers of getting an excess of fluoride from tea but Professor Seymour says: “These are not borne out by evidence.”


Among adults flouride in tea provides about 70 per cent of the recommended daily intake

A study which suggested economy brands contained high levels had used twice the amount of tea routinely used to make a cuppa and some samples were left to “brew” for as long as 30 minutes.

European regulators have set the safe upper limit for children at 0.1mg per kilogram of bodyweight, which is one or two cups for children aged four to 10 and about four cups a day for older children.

Dr Tim Bond, an expert member of the Tea Advisory Panel, says: “Tea fell out of favour as a drink for children because of unfounded concerns around caffeine, yet many parents happily give their children cola which contains caffeine alongside large amounts of sugar.

“It doesn’t make sense. This new research confirms it is not only safe to give children unsweetened tea, it is a lot healthier than many of the drinks they are downing now.”

He adds: “Tea has an array of healthy micronutrients such as fluoride, manganese, zinc and some B vitamins but it’s the polyphenols in tea which are of enormous interest. Tea polyphenols are the biggest source of antioxidants in the British diet and they have proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A number of studies have linked tea polyphenols with a reduced risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.” 5, 2017

Use Fluoride Nilogon to have fluoride-free water


Chandan Kumar Duarah


Dengaon is a beautiful area consists green hills, plains and rivers in Brahmaputra valley. More than 50 villages and most of its inhabitants are belong to Karbi tribe. This area in border of Nagoan and Karbi Anglong districts in Assam are highly and dangerously fluoride-affected in Brahmaputra valley.

I have visited fluoride-affected villages in Nagaon- Karbi Anglong districts in Assam along with Dr. R K Dutta, a chemical scientist working in Tezpur University. We went to many families and encountered with their members some are suffering from fluorosis and some families are trying to to get rid of the demon. We delivered suggestions and demonstrated few easy methods to have fluoride-free water.

The presence of excess amount of fluorine was tested in the water from rivers, ponds, wells, tube-well and deep-wells. Villagers have been suffering from fluoride for centuries which was detected in last decade. There are no drinking water supply facilities in remote villages which are not easily accessible. Symptoms of excess fluoride induced disorders are prevalent some states of the country including Brahmaputra valley. Karbi Anglong and Hojai districts are the most fluoride-affected districts in Assam.

Flouride has been an invisible enemy contains in drinking water as chemical contaminant mostly in ground water in Brahmaputra valley. It has been a matter of grave concern that almost all districts in Assam are fluoride and arsenic affected. Villagers from different tribes and communities have been witnessing this demon with dental and skeletal flourosis. A small amount of fluoride is good for health but excess fluoride of drinking water causes various health problems including damage of tooth and bone. Fluoride is a deadly poison. A long term ingestion of fluoride in drinking water and cooking water causes to other health problems. Affected villagers had no option to minimise the presence of fluoride and only some families use to drink filtered water. Moreover, general filter cannot remove or minimise fluoride.

Fortunately villagers have found a new low-cost technology to remove fluoride and iron from water recently. Now villagers are using this fluoride removal family and community unit to have fluoride-free water. Villagers have installed fluoride Nilogon – a low-cost and simple method for removal of fluoride from contaminated groundwater. Fluoride Nilogon is a method for removal of excess fluoride from contaminated groundwater for drinking purpose through phosphoric acid and crushed limestone treatment based on precipitation-absorption developed by a team of researchers led by Dr R K Dutta. The name was coined from fluoride and Nilogon is an Assamese equivalent of ‘removal’ in English.

The method removes fluoride efficiently and selectively without leaving any toxic residual in the water at a recurring cost of ₹ 1 per 100 litre of water. The Fluoride Nilogon system can be custom designed to meet the requirements of the users ranging from small household to community. It uses a crushed limestone fixed-bed reactor where the water is treated for 3 hours in presence of a small quantity (0.00067 M) of phosphoric acid.

For small communities like school a 200 or 500 litre plastic drum can be used as the reactor and another 200 litre drum can be used as the sand gravel filter. After filling with crushed limestone, a 200 liter drum can be hold about 88 litre and a 500 litre drum can hold about 220 litre of water. The filter shuold have a 15-20 cm layer of small 2-3 cm size gravels, at the bottom, covered by a thin porous cloth, above which, there should be a 50-60 cm thick layer of clean medium size sand. People have been collecting water from a community unit set up near Dengaon Higher Secondary School for a year which was set up experimentally first.

After long sufferings and government negligence people of some villages of Dengaon region in Karbi Anglong districts have choosed to use “Flouride Nilogon” unit to get flouride-free water. “In Flouride Nilogon, the flouride containing water, mixed with a small quantity of phosphoric acid, is put into a crushed limestone bed plug-flow reactor and kept for a residence time of at least three hour. Flouride is removed in the reactor. The water is filtered using a sand-gravel filter after three hours” – Dr R K Dutta said.

The Fluoride Nilogon method has been developed by a group of researchers lead by Dr. Dutta. He is a professor in the Department of Chemical Sciences, Tezpur University. Flouride Nilogon removes the excess fluoride retaining only a small amount of fluoride (0.7 ppm) require for a good health. The treatment water does not contain any residual chemical added from outside. Its pH is about 7.5 which is very safe for drinking. However, the treated water should be consumed only after boiling.

Families can use a Flouride Nilogon unit with arrangement of minimum two big size buckets as water from upper bucket can come to lower bucket using a tap. It must be sure that the tap of the upper 40 liter bucket which contain crushed limestone container is closed. 15 liter of water is added in the bucket. Then 7 ml of the dilute phosphoric acid solution be added to it and mix. Then the amount of acid solution mixed water be poured in the first bucket containing crushed limestone and leave it for at least three hours. In a 30 liter crushed limestone bucket, 11 liter water can be treated and and 55.2 ml phosphoric acid has to be added. There is no harm if you leave it like that for longer time even for a day. Flouride is removed here along with neutralisation of the acid. Now water can be filtered using the sand gravel filter in second lower bucket.

A household unit used by common people consists of a plastic bucket of 40 litre capacity for the reactor and another 20 litre bucket for the sand-gravel filter. Both buckets are fitted with a plastic tap each towards the bottom. The 40 litre treatment bucket is kept at a level above the filter. The 40 litre bucket is filled with crushed limestone of 0.1 to 1.5 cm size. This limestone-filled bucket can hold about 15 litre of water. The filter should have an 8-10 cm thick layer of small 2-3 cm size gravel layer at the bottom. The rest of the bucket should be thin porous cloth between the sand and the gravel layer to stop sand from going to the gravel layer.

Families from Dengaon area acknowledged benefits of Fluoride Nilogon to get fluoride-free water. Some people are using water from community set up and some have installed their own set up inside their house. The solution used in the method is a dilute solution (8.5%) of an acid even though it is a weak acid, it shoul be kept carefully. It should be kept away from children. with water in case of its contact with hand, skin or eye.

It is a simple efficient and low-cost method of removing excess fluoride from water. It this method crushed limestone is used along with a very small amount of a solution of a weak acid called phosphoric acid. The use of phosphoric acid in water purification is safe. Phosphoric acid is used in packaged food and soft drinks like Pepsi, Prof. Dutta said.

Thanks to Jibon Patar, a local teacher in Dengaon has been extending helps and workin with issues for years .

Researcher from Assam Leads Black Hole Research In MIT


The last meal that the supermassive black hole of the Milky Way had was six million years ago, when it consumed a large clump of infalling gas before burping out a colossal bubble of gas weighing the equivalent of millions of suns, a new research led by an Indian scientist from here has found.

With the help of the NASA’s Hubble Space telescope, Rongmon Bordoloi and his team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge found that several distant quasars can be seen through the northern half of the Fermi Bubbles, an outflow of gas expelled by the Milky Way galaxy’s hefty black hole.

The Hubble Space Telescope probed the quasars’ light for information on the speed of the gas and whether the gas is moving toward or away from Earth. Based on the material’s speed, the research team estimated that the bubbles formed from an energetic event between 6 million and 9 million years ago.
“Six-nine million years might sound like a long time in human years. But in terms of cosmic timescale, it is like the blink of an eye. Just to give you the scale, the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years old, and the dinosaurs became extinct around 66 million years ago. So the last meal that the supermassive black hole of the Milky Way had was after the dinosaurs became extinct,” says Bordoloi.

“For the first time, we have traced the motion of cool gas throughout one of the bubbles, which allowed us to map the velocity of the gas and calculate when the bubbles formed,” he says.

“It was a very strong and energetic event. It may have been a cloud of gas flowing into the black hole, which fired off jets of matter, forming the twin lobes of hot gas seen in X-ray and gamma-ray observations. Ever since then, the black hole has just been eating snacks,” he says.

A black hole is a dense, compact region of space with a gravitational field so intense that neither matter nor light can escape. The supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy has compressed the mass of 4.5 million sun-like stars into a very small region of space.

Asked when the next meal would be, Bordoloi told PTI, “Recently a binary star called G2 (with a mass of several earth masses) came very close to falling into the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. Somehow it didn’t fall through and survived.’

“There was some increased activity in terms of X-ray flares which could be due to a change in the strength of winds from nearby massive stars that are feeding material to the black hole. But in short, we don’t know when the next big meal would be. There are stars orbiting the galactic centre, and if they fall into the black hole at some point, we might see a good light show.”

What the snacks consisted of is somewhat unclear.

“It could be a gas cloud falling in or even some stars orbiting near the galactic centre that fell in,” says Bordoloi, who has been using NASA facilities like the Hubble Space telescope since his graduate school years.

According to him, the kind of gas flow observed is called a nuclear outflow.

“Such outflows are important regulatory mechanisms in the life cycle of a galaxy that controls that gas reservoir of a galaxy. If such outflows are too vigorous, it would mean that all the gas inside a galaxy would be kicked out and that would mean no new star-formation in the galaxy would occur.

“By studying the flow of gas into and out of the galaxy, we can study the fate of the Milky Way. We can start to predict if it will keep forming stars (currently there is almost one new star born in the Milky Way every year), or whether it will run out of gas supply and become an old and dead galaxy,” he says.

On the challenges ahead, he says, “One big challenge is to actually see which theoretical predictions can explain the observations we see here. It is always fun to push our understanding of a subject by comparing the models with observation.

“Moreover, we are conducting new Hubble observations in this field, and hopefully they would also show some new surprising results.”
Tags: research, nasa, hubble space telescope, galaxy, space


New light on dark matter

Dark matter is as mysterious as it sounds – very little is known about it, save that it makes up about 85 per cent of all the matter in the universe. Now, German and Hungarian scientists have thrown some light on a type of dark matter particle that has been postulated, known as the axion. They have established that axions can have a mass between 50 and 1500 micro electron volts, making them some ten billion times lighter than the electron. This computation has been published in the journal Nature. An interesting fact is that these calculations were done numerically using a (Bluegen/Q) super computer, JuQueen, housed in the Julich Supercomputer Centre in Germany.

Dark matter is so known because it interacts weakly with matter and so is notoriously difficult to detect. Yet, indirect proof of its existence comes from observation of rapidly rotating galaxies, which cannot be held together merely by the gravitational pull of the matter they contain – there has to be a lot of invisible stuff known as “dark matter” to prevent them from flying apart with the force of their own energies. Such inferences imply that nearly 85 per cent of the universe is made of dark matter, the known matter only contributes 15 per cent.

Several candidate particles have been postulated that may constitute dark matter – both highly massive and lightweight – but none of the experiments have detected any such particle so far, directly. Axions are particles proposed by extending quantum chromodynamics (QCD) the theory that describes “strong interactions,” the way quarks and gluons bond to form matter particles such as protons, neutrons etc. Though they have been proposed and there are experiments to study them (for instance, the Axion Dark Matter Experiment, ADMX), there has been no real handle on these until now. The present work sets a mass bound on the axions, between 50 and 1500 micro electron volts, as mentioned earlier. This would require that there exist ten million such particles for every cubic centimetre of the universe. Also, because dark matter is not evenly spread out, but occurs in clumps, there should be nearly a trillion axions per cubic centimetre in the Milky Way – our galaxy.

Knowing the expected mass range of the axion not only gives a better understanding of the particle itself, but also can serve as a guideline for doing experiments. Instead of firing in the dark, ADMX, for instance, now has a definite range to study keenly.

Subashree Desikan

Monday’s supermoon extra super; closest in nearly 69 years

Monday’s supermoon will be extra super — it will be the closest the moon comes to us in almost 69 years. And it won’t happen again for another 18 years.

NASA says closest approach will occur at 6:21 am EST when the moon comes within 221,523 miles (356,508 kilometres). That’s from the center of the Earth to the center of the moon. Full moon will occur at 8:52 am EST.

NASA planetary geologist Noah Petro is urging everyone to step outside and soak in the view. At the time of closest approach, the moon will be setting and the sun rising, at least on the US East Coast, so prime viewing will be Sunday and Monday nights there.

“Ultimately, people should be more geared toward just getting outside and enjoying it,” Petro said.

Supermoons can appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter in the night sky. But it takes a real expert to notice the difference.

Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter circling the moon, said Thursday that even he won’t be able to see much difference in size and luminosity. What counts, he said, is getting people “talking, thinking and caring about the moon.”

Weather permitting, it’s a sky show the entire planet can enjoy.

“Everyone gets to see the moon,” Petro said. “It’s a great shared resource for all humanity.”

The last time the moon was so close — actually, 29 miles closer — was in January 1948. That’s the same year the Cleveland Indians last won the World Series, Petro noted, “a big year,” at least there.

In 2034, the moon will come even closer, within 221,485 miles. That, too, will be a supermoon.