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A Times of India publication Volume 4 Issue 3

April 2014 `125

SCIENCE • HISTORY • NATURE • FOR THE CURIOUS MIND

PREPARING FOR

Your guide to survive on the Red Planet p26

R.N.I.MAHENG/2010/35422
contents
Cover story
26 Preparing For Mars
We look at what you need to pack in your bag
for a journey to Mars

features
32 Portfolio: Nocturnal Animals
The animals all come out to play at night; Eric Médard
captures the nocturnal wildlife in an array of photographs
corbis x2, OEWF/KATJA Zanella-kux, hdwallpapers.in, science photo library, wiki, 123rf.com x2, sameer pawar

40 10 Things You Didn't Know About Sleep


Ever wonder what your body does while you are sleeping

42 The Shadow Universe


Making sense of the Universe and what lies within it

50 NASA’s Craziest Ideas


NASA is synonymous with space technology.
Take a look at 10 projects that border on the bizzare

58 Origins Of Islam regulars


Historian Meenakshi Jain talks about the genesis
and the formation of Islam as a religion 6 Q&A
Our panel of experts answer the
62 How Smart Are Dolphins? questions you’ve always wanted to ask
Find out whether the large brain size of the dolphins
equates to them having higher intelligence 14 Snapshot
Outstanding photographs to inform
68 India's Border Wars and engage
The cloak and dagger circumstances that led
India to defend its borders post independence 20 Update
The latest intelligence - A nano drug delivery
70 How Do We Know: breakthrough and how scientists can now detect
The Structure Of The Periodic Table water vapour on exo-planets
The periodic table is a familiar classroom affair.
Find out what led to the discovery of the elements 82 Inside The Pages
An excerpt from The Great Speeches of Modern India,
76 Ye Olde Travel Guide: Madrid, 1621 edited by Rudrangshu Mukherjee, which recounts
Pretend you are taking a trip through Madrid in former PM Indira Gandhi's speech declaring a state of
the year 1621 emergency on 12 June 1975

78 Killed By Their Own Inventions 84 Resorce


The stories behind the ironic demise of scientists Our picks offer the best of science, history and nature
killed by their own inventions on the web

2 April 2014
42

68

62
50

86 Edu Talk
Interview with Kiran Bir Sethi,
Director of Riverside School, 90 78
Ahmedabad
82
87 Games Review
We review the latest video games
released in the market

88 Gadgets
Lowdown on gadgets riding the new
green technological wave

90 Puzzle Pit
A veritable buffet of brain teasers
guaranteed to test your mind

94 In Focus
Elon Musk, billionaire visionary,
engineer, and entrepreneur who is
transforming the way we travel

58
from the editor
The great Jocelyn Bell-Burnell was
in the country recently and BBC experts this issue
Knowledge got the rare opportunity
to speak with her. For those Jocelyn Bell-Burnell discovered radio
unacquainted with Burnell, she pulsars. She is an astrophysicist who
was the one who discovered radio has worked in areas of the
electromagnetic spectrum, and
pulsars in the late 60s. Hers’ is a
observing new sources from radio frequencies to
very intriguing story. There was an
high energy gamma rays. See page 24
outrage in the scientific circles as
Burnell was left out when the Sean Blair is a freelance writer, a
Nobel Prize in Physics in 1974 was space expert, science journalist and
given to her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish and Martin currently is the web editor for the
Ryle for the discovery. Of the episode, she said, “I believe European Space Agency website. In
it would demean the Nobel Prizes if they were awarded to this issue, he talks about how to make the journey
research students, except in very exceptional cases, and to Mars and how to live the Martian way of life.
I do not believe this is one of them.” Read Burnell’s See page 26
interview on page 24.
Meenakshi Jain is a former Fellow of
The discovery of radio pulsars has affected fascinating areas the Nehru Memorial Museum and
of research in astronomy, such as black holes and dark matter. Library. She is currently the associate
professor of History at Delhi
Another feature inside, The Shadow Universe, (pg 42) is
University. In this issue, she takes us through the
about the enigma of dark matter – a phenomenon suggested
conception and formation of Islam as a religion.
to explain some wonky behaviour of the Universe, such as See page 58
the whizzing stars (faster than usual) circling on the outskirts
of spiral galaxies like ours. What is keeping them in check Justin Gregg is a science writer and
from flinging themselves into far off space? the author of the book Are Dolphins
Really Smart? A background interest
But questionable behaviour is not only some stars’ in linguistics and the evolution of
prerogative. NASA has laid claim to some of that too. language, his research focuses on the dolphin's
Audacious and insane, these ideas are set to change how we social cognition. In this issue, he talks about what
will explore space (pg 50). Exploring Mars on the other is intelligence and how animals use their grey
hand is on the cards sometime very soon. A TV show plans matter. See page 62
to send manned-missions from 2024 every two years. And
over 200,000 people globally have applied to travel one way.
Read the cover story on page 26.

This issue is not only about space and astronomy. Find out
Send us your letters
about scientists who died while testing their own inventions.
And the real story about dolphins’ intelligence. And the Has something you’ve read in BBC Knowledge Magazine
intrigued or excited you? Write in and share it with us. We’d
Origins of Islam, along with the 10 Things You Didn’t love to hear from you and we’ll publish a selection of your
Know About Sleep. Starting with this edition, we comments in the forthcoming issues.
introduce Ye Olde Travel Guide – a witty informative Email us at : edit.bbcknowledge@wwm.co.in
walk around a city of the world from a time that is not the We welcome your letters, while reserving the right to edit
present. We start with Madrid of the 1620s. On page 76. them for length and clarity. By sending us your letter you
Mrigank sharma (India Sutra)

permit us to publish it in the magazine. We regret that we


Enjoy. cannot always reply personally to letters.

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&
Your Questions Answered

What is the maximum number of names a person can remember? p8


Why do cold drinks give me 'brain freeze' and how do I avoid it? p9 How
did the goldilocks zone move from Mars? p11 What makes Google so
much more successful than other search engines? p12

Expert PANEL
Stuart Blackman
A zoologist-turned-science
writer, Stuart is a contributor Molecules of lactic acid will be
to BBC Wildlife Magazine. the bane of everyone trying to
shed the festive season pounds
Susan Blackmore (SB) in the New Year
A visiting professor at the
University of Plymouth, UK,
Susan is an expert on
psychology and evolution.

Alastair Gunn
Alastair is a radio astronomer
at Jodrell Bank Centre for
Astrophysics at the University
of Manchester, UK. Why does lactic
Robert Matthews
Robert is a writer and researcher.
acid build up in
He is a Visiting Reader in Science
at Aston University, UK.
our muscles?
Gareth Mitchell During aerobic exercise our muscles ‘burn’
As well as lecturing at Imperial glucose with oxygen to produce carbon
College London, Gareth is a dioxide, water and energy. But when we are
presenter of Click on the BBC exercising hard, the lungs can’t keep up with
World Service.
the muscles’ demand for oxygen. Rather
Luis Villazon than just giving up, our muscles switch to an
Luis has a BSc in computing and anaerobic chemical reaction that doesn’t
an MSc in zoology from Oxford. need oxygen.
His works include How Cows This is less efficient because it doesn’t
Reach The Ground.
produce as much energy per molecule of
glucose burned, but it’s better than nothing.
Ask the Experts? Unfortunately, instead of water and carbon
Email our panel at dioxide, anaerobic respiration produces
bbcknowledge@wwm.co.in lactic acid as one of its waste products. If
We’re sorry, but we cannot reply you exercise hard, this will be produced
to questions individually.
faster than your bloodstream can transport
it away to your liver where it is processed
and broken down.
STATS
VITAL
As the level of acid builds up in your
muscles, you feel a burning sensation that
348is the fuel acts as a warning that your muscles are
er gallo
n
’s first almost out of energy. Like other sorts of
miles p at the world g
econo m y th u in
built s ill pain, the ‘purpose’ is to signal that your
ady car ,w
road-re g, the Urbee 2 body needs to rest. So, next time you go for
tin
3D prin efully achieve
hop a run bear your overworked body a thought
and maybe catch your breath. LV

6 April 2014
Why can’t we trace the
sender of an email?
Each email has an invisible header containing information
like time stamps and routing information. It does not contain
personal details like the sender’s street name or phone
number. However, the header does contain the originating
IP address. That can narrow the origin down to a city or
The appendix (pictured on the district, but seldom anything more specific and certainly
left in this X-ray image) could not to an individual.
be a safe-haven for friendly Online webmail services like Gmail are even more
bacteria in emergency situations anonymous. A Gmail message, for instance, can only be
traced back to a Google IP address. GM

What is the function of


the human appendix? Does your body’s level of
The appendix was classically Being able to get along
hydration affect your
regarded as unnecessary – without something doesn’t
mean it’s entirely useless.
blood’s viscosity?
even its name implies that it
is a leftover bit. It’s a thin Recent research that
tube, about the size of half a compared the intestines
pencil, that sticks out of the of 361 mammals found
cecum, which is a pouch at that 50 different, quite
the start of the large unrelated, species have an
intestine. Charles Darwin appendix. This means that
thought that our ancestors the appendix must have
ate a lot more plant roughage evolved independently at
than us and needed a larger least 32 times, which
cecum to digest it, so the suggests it must be doing
appendix was originally a something useful.
useful compartment of the It’s now thought that the
intestine that had dwindled appendix acts as an
science photo library, getty, thinkstock X2
through millions of years emergency bunker for your Keep your blood running
of disuse. Koalas, which gut bacteria to shelter in. Its smoothly by staying hydrated
eat very indigestible leaves narrow opening and out-of-
have a two-metre-long the-way position mean that Blood viscosity, or how thick your blood is, is partly
cecum that is essentially a bacterial infections don’t determined by the number and size of your red blood cells.
giant appendix. normally get inside it. So These make up 41-53 per cent of the blood volume in men
Certainly it’s true that you after diarrhoea has flushed and 36-46 per cent in women. This value is higher if you are
can amputate the appendix the last of any bad bacteria obese, which can increase blood viscosity by as much as 15
without any obvious long- out of your intestines, the per cent and can cause a heart attack. But being dehydrated
term consequences for the good guys can emerge from can also have an impact. One study found that just sitting in
patient. But that same the appendix and re-colonise a warm room for four hours without drinking was enough to
argument applies to a toe. your colon. LV increase blood viscosity by 10 per cent. LV
Q&A
What is the Why do
maximum number goats have The ultimate
of names a person such good rock climber:
the humble goat
can remember? balance?
There’s no known limit! If you ask a
mnemonist or memory savant to learn a
list of names they may remember
thousands, tens of thousands or even
hundreds of thousands with no trouble,
just as they can learn lists of thousands Goats are adapted to living and soft and the rough pads under each
of digits. Some people, who have a feeding on steep, rugged slopes. toe provide extra grip. They also have
neurological condition called Their slim bodies help them creep two vestigial toes higher up their
‘hyperthymesia’, remember everything along next to near-vertical walls and legs, called dewclaws. These are
that happens to them every day, their cloven hooves have two toes found on other species, including
including the name of every person they which can spread out wide, improving cats and dogs, but goats’ dewclaws
have ever met. their balance and allowing them to are much stronger and stubbier and
The rest of us evolved to cope with grip onto rocks or even the branches help them clamber up branches, or
no more than about 150 social of trees. The soles of their feet are scramble down sheer cliff faces. SB
relationships. This is known as Dunbar’s
number after the anthropologist Robin
Dunbar. He discovered that groups of
hunter-gatherers, units in armies,
divisions in businesses and many other
Can dogs laugh?
groups tend towards a limit of 150. And They make a sort of
it seems that social media do not breathy, panting sound
change our basic nature. Even people when they are playing.
who have thousands of ‘friends’ on If you record this and play Dogs don’t laugh? Tell
Facebook rarely maintain more than 150 it back to other dogs, it that to Scooby-Doo
meaningful relationships. SB appears to reduce their
stress behaviours, such as
Some people don’t need name tags barking and pacing,
and can put a name to thousands
and increase their social
behaviours, such as lip
licking. Is that the same
thing as laughter? Or is it
just the dog equivalent of a
broad smile? It’s hard to
thinkstock x3, getty, alamy, thinkstock

say. Humans mostly laugh


at verbal jokes and seeing
other people fall over,
neither of which have
much effect on dogs. SB

KNOW SPOT
The air around a lightning
strike is the hottest place on
Earth. For a split second temperatures hit
30,000°C; hotter than the surface of the Sun.

8 April 2014
Q&A
Why do cold What gives substances their scent?
drinks give me Substances generate a smell when their molecules land on so-called
‘brain freeze’ and olfactory neurones in our noses (which, for some things, is a pretty
unpleasant thought). But the exact nature of the interaction is somewhat
how do I avoid it? controversial. Until recently, it was believed it took the form of molecules
physically docking with protein receptor molecules in the walls of the
Anything cold against the roof of your olfactory neurones, like keys fitting into locks. This in turn implied that
mouth cools the brain, which is right molecular shape is what determines a specific smell. But this fails to
above it. To maintain temperature, the explain why some molecules with similar shapes can smell completely
anterior cerebral artery dilates to different, while others with quite different shapes can have a similar scent.
bring more warm blood to the brain. If These conundrums have led Dr Luca Turin of the Alexander Fleming
the cooling is very sudden, the artery Research Centre, Athens, to suggest that molecular vibrations are critical.
dilates too quickly and the pressure in He’s recently published intriguing evidence that molecular shape is not
the brain jumps up, which gives you a everything by showing that two molecules with identical shape but
headache. Drinking more slowly, with different vibrational properties can have a different smell. RM
pauses to warm your mouth back up,
is normally all you need to do to avoid
it, but brain freeze is worse in people
who are prone to migraines. LV

Next time you smell


something interesting,
think about the substance’s
molecules jiggling around
inside your nose

Walt Disney was delighted


to be offered the chance to
appear in Focus Magazine

Are some plants better than others


at sucking up carbon dioxide?
Plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) during fast-growing plants tend not to live long
photosynthesis to make glucose. It takes and when a plant dies, all the carbon in the
six molecules of CO2 to make every plant is broken down by insects, fungi and
molecule of glucose, and this basic building microbes and released as CO2 again.
block is then used for energy and to make So the plants that are considered the
getty, alamy, thinkstock

the structure of the plant itself. This most adept at locking away carbon dioxide
biochemical reaction is the same for all from the atmosphere are the longest-living
plants, but the faster a plant grows, the ones, with the most mass – hardwood trees.
Hardwood trees will happily
more carbon dioxide it will use up per It’s all temporary though. Eventually every
feast on your exhaust fumes,
second. By that measure, bamboo might be plant returns all the carbon dioxide it uses but you probably don’t
the best at sucking up CO2. However, back to the atmosphere. LV need to go to these lengths
Q&A
How long can a structure
last in a desert before being
swamped by sand?
Buildings don’t actually sink into the sand, they are covered
as it’s blown sideways by the wind. Without any plants to
hold the sand in place, it is blown into horseshoe-shaped
dunes, called barchans. Each grain gets blown from the
What’s better: one
bottom of the dune up to the crest and then tumbles down big bet, or lots of
the steeper slope on the leeward side. This means that the
barchan as a whole gradually creeps downwind at about small ones?
15m per year. In Tunisia, the set of Anakin Skywalker’s home,
used for Star Wars Episode I, is currently being engulfed. In For many people, the best advice is probably not
another five or six years it will be completely covered. LV to have a bet at all, as gambling is notorious for
messing with people’s minds. But if you insist on
doing so, it’s vital to use probability theory. This
shows that how you bet depends on the odds,
and in a casino they’re stacked against you.
The best advice is surprising: the biggest
hope of, say, doubling your money lies in putting
all your money on a single spin of the roulette
wheel. The reason is partly because the payout
on a simple red or black bet in roulette is twice
your stake. The odds of achieving this outcome
are, however, slightly less than 50 per cent, the
difference being the casino’s profit margin. And
that’s why you should make just one big bet. If
you split up your funds into lots of small bets,
you’re effectively giving the casino more
opportunities to nibble away at your funds. That
said, it’s a brave person who can follow this
mathematical advice. But one person who did is
The home of Anakin British gambler Ashley Revell, who in 2004 put all
Skywalker is slowly being
his personal wealth – then around £100,000 – on
consumed by the desert
a single roulette spin. He won. RM
alamy, thinkstock, nasa x10, science photo library

top ten biggest moons in our solar system

10. Oberon 9. Rhea 8. Titania 7. Triton 6. Europa 5. Moon


Radius: 761km Radius: 764km Radius: 788km Radius: 1,353km Radius: 1,561km Radius: 1,737km
Location: Uranus Location: Saturn Location: Uranus Location: Neptune Location: Jupiter Location: Earth

10 April 2014
Where can you find the fastest
broadband speed in the world? Hong Kong: a city in
the internet fast lane

And the winner is… Hong Kong! Internet


users there enjoy top speeds of 63
megabits per second, according to the
most recent figures from the internet firm
Akamai. Hong Kong’s blistering
broadband speeds compare to a
worldwide average of 18.4Mbps. The UK
is number 12 on the list with average
speeds of 36Mbps. GM

How did the goldilocks zone move from Mars?

A couple of billion years ago


you could have rolled out a
towel on a Martian beach

The ‘goldilocks’ zone is a region around a star (such as the gravitational field, seeped away into space. Furthermore,
Sun) where planets are able to retain surface liquid water the Red Planet has lost its magnetic field and so has no
– and therefore be suitable sites for life to develop. The protection from harmful radiation. So, while the position of
young Mars probably had a dense atmosphere necessary the goldilocks zone can change due to changes in the
for liquid water to exist on its surface. But once it became Sun’s energy output, this isn’t why Mars is no longer
volcanically inactive early in its history the atmosphere was habitable. Changes in Mars itself have turned a once warm,
no longer replenished and, thanks to Mars’s small moist world into a cold, dry one. AG

4. Io 3. Callisto 2. Titan 1. Ganymede


Radius: 1,821km Radius: 2,410km Radius: 2,576km Radius: 2,631km
Location: Jupiter Location: Jupiter Location: Saturn Location: Jupiter
Q&A
What’s the secret to
Google’s success?
Just google it!

What makes Google so much more


successful than other search engines?
Before Google, search results were less the results so that a few big pages
to do with relevance than who was linking to a site had more prominence
paying for prominent listings. Early than many small ones. Google’s
tools also matched search terms to commercial advance was fuelled by
sites based on a textual analysis of AdWords, where advertisers pay for
their pages. Websites often their websites to appear above the
manipulated that by littering pages with search results for the relevant
Astronaut Mark C irrelevant words inserted for the benefit keywords. The profits from advertising
Lee tests NASA’s of the search bots. The breakthrough drove a huge research and
SAFER back pack for Google was Larry Page’s development operation at Google,
high above Earth eponymous PageRank algorithm. It feeding back into an ever further
listed pages according to the number refined engine, ever more targeted ads
of sites linking to them. It also weighted and more and more services. GM

Could an astronaut
be rescued if he/she
Does a brainwave equate to a
became untethered
on a space walk? mental state?
No. The term ‘brainwave’ comes If you mean to ask whether any kind of
NASA has developed a sort of from the patterns detected by an brain process equates to a mental state
jetpack called SAFER (Simplified apparatus called the then you are in the realms of seriously
Aid For EVA Rescue), which fires ‘electroencephalogram’ (EEG) that difficult philosophical questions. ‘Identity
compressed nitrogen from 24
nasa, science photo library X2, google, nasa, thinkstock x2

measures electrical signals from theorists’ say yes – mental states really
thrusters to steer the astronaut electrodes on the scalp. The overall are brain states. ‘Functionalists’ argue
back to safety if they become frequency gives an indication of a that the function being carried out
detached. Theoretically, astronauts person’s mental state. For example, equates to mental states. For instance,
could also vent some gas from ‘alpha waves’ (8-13 per second) are if a human brain and a computer were
their suits or even throw a tool in associated with a relaxed state. But both trying to solve the same chess
the opposite direction to push these surface waves are created problem they would be in the same
themselves forward. But the from millions of small electrical mental state. SB
problem is that unless the thrust is signals in the underlying brain,
exactly in line with the astronaut’s so they are a very crude measure
centre of mass, they will start that could not equate to a precise
spinning uncontrollably and very mental state.
quickly become disorientated.
SAFER automatically detects

STATS
rotation and uses its jets to keep
the astronaut oriented the same
VITAL The relaxed signature of alpha waves, which are
lioonk for
way. LV

3 .1 b il
1 rs is the time itmtothe most
enhanced when we close our eyes to chill out

yea s fro t
reach u The ligh
light to alaxy known. illion
g m
distant itted only 700 ang
12 April 2014 was em fter the Big B
years a
nature | Snapshot

snapshot
Daniel Kariko/bnps
Snug as a bug
Unwanted roommates
This odd-looking character is a weevil, which was
found on a doormat in Greensville, North Carolina.
It was taken by Daniel Kariko as part of a collection
of ‘portraits of our often-overlooked housemates’.
It shows the weevil’s head, antennae and long
snout. The full insect is 7mm long.
The image was created by combining details
taken using a scanning electron microscope
with the colours seen under a regular optical
microscope. “It takes 5-10 hours of post-
production to apply the colour,” says Kariko.
Vine weevils, a common garden pest, are all
asexually reproducing females, says Tom Pope,
an entomologist at Harper Adams University,
Shropshire. “When alarmed, an adult vine weevil
will often feign death,” he says, adding that
researchers are looking for ways to exploit this to
control them.

April 2014 15
Science | Snapshot

Jet flight
water way to travel
Seen in action is Belgium’s Ludovic Lucas,
demonstrating the latest extreme sport: flyboarding.
Invented by Francky Zapata, the Flyboard was
developed in the spring of 2011 and is inspired by jet-
skiing and acrobatic diving.
The device consists of a board attached to a pair
of shoes on one side and a jet-ski turbine on the
other. This provides 90 per cent of the propulsion,
with the last 10 per cent coming from two water
jets on the user’s forearms that are attached to
the turbine by pipes. This allows additional stability
and manoeuvrability, although according to Lucas,
improvements to the technology are planned “to
make it lighter, less bulky and more manoeuvrable.”
“It requires a lot of power to lift a man,” says
Lucas. Indeed, to keep the rider seemingly flying over
the surface, the machine delivers 300 horsepower to
move up to half a tonne of water a second.
corbis

16 April 2014
Science | Snapshot

Fluoro flyer
upwards and onwards
In a darkened wind tunnel a model of a prototype
aircraft glows as it is buffeted by gusts. Fluorescent
oil shows up turbulent air as psychedelic
swirls, which enables engineers to study the
craft’s aerodynamics.
The flyer is a 5.8 per cent scale model of the
X-48C aircraft created by NASA and Boeing to
investigate Blended Wing Body (BWB) technology.
BWB planes have wings smoothly merged with
the body of the aircraft, resulting in greater fuel
efficiency. The whole body of the plane generates
uplift rather than just the wing. They are harder to
control than conventional planes, hence the need
for extensive testing. BWB planes are also quieter
because the engines are mounted on the top.
“The remotely piloted research vehicle was
flown 122 times between July 2007 and April
2013 to explore its basic handling qualities. The
project was extremely successful but it is really
just the beginning for the hybrid blended wing
body concept,” explained Peter W Merlin of NASA’s
Dryden Flight Research Center.
nasa

18 April 2014
update the latest intelligence

information at room temperature for 39


minutes, smashing the previous record of 2

A quantum leap seconds. It’s a step towards the holy grail of


quantum computing, explains Simon Fraser
University’s Prof Mike Thewalt.
“It would have a huge impact on
Superfast computing takes a step forward security, code breaking and the transmission
with a record-breaking experiment and storage of secure information. It would
solve problems that are impossible on any
conceivable normal computer and could
lead to the development of new drugs by
a deeper understanding of interactions
between molecules,” says Prof Thewalt.
The quantum computer exploits a
property of subatomic particles known as
‘spin’. The idea is that an atomic nucleus
acts like a tiny bar magnet when placed
in a magnetic field. The spin can be
manipulated to point up or down. If the
spin is up, it represents zero; if down, a one.
This is the equivalent of the familiar ‘bit’.
But a quantum computer deals in ‘qubits’
– these can be in a ‘superposition’ state to
represent ones and zeros at the same time.
It’s why a quantum computer would be so
fast – it would perform multiple calculations
simultaneously.
Until now, quantum systems have
been unable to reliably store data unless
they’ve been first cooled down to incredibly
low temperatures. So storing quantum
information at room temperature for as
long as 39 minutes is a major breakthrough,
says the University of Oxford’s Stephanie
Simmons, who collaborated on the project.
“Thirty-nine minutes may not seem very
long, but in theory, this means that over
20 million operations could be performed
in the time it takes for the superposition
to decay by one per cent,” she explains.
However, there’s still a way to go before
you’ll be turning on a quantum computer
at home. The spins of the 10 billion
phosphorus ions used in this experiment
Two particles exhibit quantum
spin; a quantum computer takes were all in the same quantum state. To run
advantage of this property calculations, the qubits would need to be
in different states.
“Having such robust, as well as long-

W
e’ve all been there. You’re happily of death... lived, qubits could prove very helpful
working away on your computer Well, today’s lacklustre laptops have for anyone trying to build a quantum
when, without warning, the taken a small step closer to obsolescence. computer. To have them talking to one
processor grinds to a halt, leaving you to Researchers at Canada’s Simon Fraser another controllably would address the last
look on in frustration as the spinning wheel University have managed to store quantum big remaining challenge,” says Simmons.
xxx

20 April 2014
Medicine

Nano drug breakthrough


Nanoparticle drug delivery has hit upon a novel solution The hope is that we will
systems have proved to be a that may see the cutting edge soon be able to swallow a
huge success in the targeted treatments reaching more pill of nanoparticles to fight
disease more effectively
treatment of everything from patients. “The key challenge
arthritis to cancer. However, is how to make a nanoparticle
nanoparticles have had to be get through this barrier of
injected into patients – when cells. Whenever cells want to For inspiration, Farokhzad By coating the nanoparticles
taken orally they are unable to form a barrier, they make these looked at how babies absorb with antibodies, they were able
break through the barrier of attachments from cell to cell. antibodies from their mothers’ to reproduce this effect.
cells lining the intestine. Being It’s a bit like a brick wall where milk. The antibodies act as a So far the technique has only
able to take them in pill form the bricks are the cells and the key to unlock receptors found been used for the oral delivery of
would make it easier for patients mortar is the attachments, on the surfaces of cells that line insulin in mice, but researchers
to manage their own treatment. and nothing can penetrate the intestine. This allows them say it could be used to carry
Now a team based at that wall,” said team leader to break through the intestinal any kind of drug that can be
Brigham & Women’s Hospital Omid Farokhzad. walls and enter the bloodstream. encapsulated in a nanoparticle.

Astronomy Meteorology

science photo library x2, mpi for evolutionary anthropology, ikg.uni-hannover.de/daniel fitzner
Water found on alien worlds Cars to drive rainfall research
For some people cars are an GPS-enabled vehicles that tour
outward expression of their German towns and cities to
personality, for others they’re record levels of precipitation.
simply a means of getting from Being mobile gives the
A to B. But researchers at the RainCars an advantage over
University of Hannover have conventional rain gauges.
a different take: they want While accurate, they are often
motorists to measure rainfall. too sparsely distributed to
We can detect water vapour on a Inspired by the observation capture the intricate regional
planet by studying the starlight that that drivers put their wipers variations in weather patterns.
has passed through its atmosphere on faster in torrential rain and The team is also hoping to
slower in light showers, the collaborate with taxi drivers
The Hubble Space Telescope in atmospheres on different team has devised RainCars, in the near future.
has detected water in the kinds of exoplanets, for example
atmospheres surrounding five hotter versus cooler ones.”
distant worlds. The planets The studies were part of a
are all massive Jupiter-sized census of exoplanet atmospheres
bodies that orbit close to using Hubble’s Wide Field
their host stars. But thanks Camera 3. The researchers
to their blazing hot surface can identify the gases that
temperatures they are unlikely are present on a planet by
to host life as we know it. determining which wavelengths
“We’re very confident that of the parent star’s light are
we see a water signature for transmitted and which are
multiple planets,” said NASA’s partially absorbed.
Avi Mandell. “This work really The study also revealed a
opens the door for comparing layer of haze or dust around A RainCar undergoes tests in
how much water is present the planets. the team’s rain simulator
update the latest intelligence

Biology Food science

Life from Earth Patties without the podge


It’s surely one of the biggest spaces could have carried out It’s every meat lover’s dream,
mysteries of all time: how did the complex reactions that a nice juicy burger that
life originate on Earth? Now, formed proteins, DNA and can be enjoyed without the
scientists may be a step closer eventually all the machinery accompanying risk of an
to finding out after the chance that makes a living cell work. expanding waistline. Well,
discovery that clay may have Clay hydrogels could have that dream may soon be
acted as a breeding ground for confined and protected those realised as researchers have
the chemicals that form the chemical processes until the found a way to pack reduced-
building blocks of life. membrane that surrounds living fat mince with meaty flavour.
Mmmmm… mince. And now with
Researchers from New cells developed.” According to a study the added benefit of helping you keep
York’s Cornell University Earlier experiments have published in the journal the pounds at bay
stumbled upon the idea after shown that amino acids and Meat Science, plasma proteins
using clay hydrogels in the other biomolecules could have taken from beef can be used to concoction was then added
production of proteins. The been formed in primordial replace fat in mince without to reduced-fat mince and fed to
team noticed that the clay oceans, drawing energy from adversely affecting the taste. a group of taste testers.
boosted protein production, lightning or volcanic vents. The proteins were obtained The process had no observable
leading them to think it might But it was uncertain how these from the meat through ultra- effect on colour, flavour, taste
provide the answer to a long- molecules could go on to form filtration and freeze-drying and or texture and fared well when
standing question concerning more complex structures, and then combined with inulin, pitted against full-fat mince
the evolution of biomolecules. how they were able to survive a type of carbohydrate often despite containing 20 to 35 per
“In simulated ancient the harsh conditions. Clay is found in chicory. The resulting cent less fat, the paper says.
seawater, clay forms a hydrogel a promising possibility because
– a mass of microscopic spaces biomolecules tend to attach
capable of soaking up liquids to its surface. The hydrogel Zoology
like a sponge,” the paper’s structure helps to protect
author Dan Luo explained.
“Over billions of years,
the delicate contents from
damaging enzymes that might
Nasal navigation
chemicals confined in those strip down and destroy DNA. Ever wondered how pigeons the bird smells that the ratio of
getty, thinkstock x2, jamie yang/icecube collaboration, thinkstock

can find their way home having the compound is above what it
Where it all started? Clay cliffs like these on been released hundreds of is on average at its loft and flies
an island off the coast of Massachusetts in kilometres away? It turns out north,” Wallraff explains.
the US could be a cradle for life they may be simply following In order to test his theory
their noses. Hans Wallraff of Wallraff made a computer
the Max Planck Institute for model based on atmospheric
Ornithology in Seewiesen, data. In this simulation,
Germany, has developed a virtual pigeons were able to
theory that pigeons are able to navigate successfully armed
smell their way by accurately only with knowledge of
perceiving the ratios of various winds and odours.
scents given off by organic
compounds. The pigeon is The humble pigeon follows its
then able to find its way by nose to find its way home
associating certain smells with
wind directions.
“If the percentage of a
compound increases with
southerly winds, a pigeon
learns this wind-correlated
increase. If released at a site
some 100km south of home,

22 April 2014
round up Keeping abreast of the top science, history and nature research from around the world

Particle physics The IceCube Neutrino


Observatory uses

Neutrinos on ice thousands of sensors


beneath the Antarctic ice
to catch fleeting neutrinos

If neutrinos were people their reactions in the Sun or from cosmic rays IceCube. “It is gratifying to finally see
neighbours would describe them as hitting the Earth’s atmosphere. However, what we have been looking for. This is
‘keeping themselves to themselves’. after three years of searching the skies, the dawn of a new age of astronomy.”
Billions of the near-massless subatomic the Antarctic-based IceCube Neutrino The neutrinos may carry information
particles pass through the Earth every Observatory has detected a group of all the way from supernovae, black
second, but as they rarely interact with neutrinos likely to originate from much holes and pulsars. Occurring in the
anything they are incredibly difficult further afield. “This is the first indication farthest reaches of the Milky Way and
to detect. of very high-energy neutrinos coming beyond, astronomers would be able
The overwhelming majority we have from outside our Solar System,” says to examine these events by studying
spotted originate from either the nuclear Francis Halzen, principal investigator of the neutrinos.

News in brief
Keep fit for smarter babies Fire and ice Maven headed for Mars
Calling all pregnant ladies. If you want your The effects of global warming are well NASA’S Maven spacecraft has embarked
child to win a Nobel Prize then you’d better documented, but things could really heat upon its 10-month journey to the Red Planet
put on your trainers. Just 20 minutes of up in Antarctica if a newly found volcano following a successful launch from Florida’s
moderate exercise taken three times a week erupts. Researchers spotted the volcano Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Assuming
during pregnancy can speed up the newborn buried beneath 1km (half a mile) of ice while that all goes to plan, the $671 million (£410
child’s brain development, say researchers investigating earthquakes in West Antarctica. million) probe will gather data about the
at the University of Montreal. The team While an eruption would be unlikely to Martian climate in an attempt to understand
found the brains of newborns aged eight breach the surface, the heat could create a how the planet was deprived of most of
to 12 days displayed greater activity when significant amount of meltwater, scientists its atmosphere, turning it from warm and
they were exposed to new sounds if their from Washington University in St Louis claim. wet into the cold, dry and hostile world we
mothers took regular exercise. see today.
Mount Sidley is part of a
range in West Antarctica
where the new volcano
was found
comment & analysis
Amanda Peters talks to (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the astrophysicist who discovered
pulsars and created a whole new subfield of astronomy

What were the key developments


that contributed to your research in
finding pulsars?
At the time, the work that we were meant to
be doing involved looking at things, which
fluctuated rapidly in brightness. And nobody
had done that systematically before, so that
was pretty important. The other factor that led
to the discovery was the ‘Impostor Syndrome’.
The Impostor Syndrome is something
known in Europe and the US, which affects
people who have less confidence. For example,
these people find themselves in college
surrounded by lots of brilliant people. And then
they think, “Oooh! I’m not as clever as these
people and the college has admitted me by
mistake.” This is the impostor effect. They
believe that they are going to be made out and
some go as far as quitting.
Before going to Cambridge for my PhD, I
had been on the fringes of Britain. I suddenly
found myself in this Mecca of learning
The radiation from a pulsar star amongst the best and brightest. And I
can only be observed when thought to myself, "Aahh I shouldn’t be here,
the beam is pointing towards I’m not that bright." But instead of leaving
the Earth, much like in the before ‘they threw me out’, I decided I
functioning of a lighthouse would work as hard as I could, be as
careful as I could, so that when they threw
me out I would not have a guilty conscience. I

H
ow was school life while growing up? When you were growing up, was it rare was being very thorough, checking everything
I started life in Northern Ireland and was to find women in science, especially in from this new radio telescope, this new
schooled there till the age of 13. I then astronomy? What drew you to the field? wave of operation and that’s what led to
went to boarding school in England, where I There were more women in astronomy than the pulsars’ discovery.
was first introduced to science. While I found in other areas, than in physics actually. I
biology boring, I was good at physics and knew when I started science that I was good What fascinates you most about a pulsar?
chemistry. From then on it looked like I would at physics. My father was very widely read Pulsars have helped test Einstein’s Theory of
become a physicist. and brought home a lot of books from public Relativity, forced us to learn about materials
123rf.com, cupc2012.phasubc.ca

At that time in Northern Ireland, the general libraries. One day he brought home some that are extremely compact and have a high
assumption was that when girls moved into astronomy books and I read them cover to density. They are quite hard to understand
high school they would opt for domestic cover. Looking back they were quite a tough because of their huge magnetic fields, electric
science like needlework and cookery, while read. I was completely hooked and realised that fields, and huge gravitational fields. They are
the boys went into the field of science. But I the physics I was learning at school level could extreme in every sense of the word, so there
was keen to get into the field. So my parents be applied to these big galaxies and stars. So are a lot of fascinating things there that I yet
and those of two other girls made a big fuss that’s how I wanted to be an astronomer. My don’t understand.
and managed to break the general norm. We classmates remembered it because not a lot of
ended up being the only three girls in class and people at the age of 15 knew what they wanted How high was the probability of finding
I topped the science exam in the first term. to be but I knew. ‘Little Green Men’ as opposed to detecting

24 April 2014
Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell, as a post

“the discovery of pulsars made the graduate student in Cambridge University, UK, first
discovered the existence of radio pulsars in 1967.

existence of black holes more likely”


Her discovery led to the branch of radio astronomy,
significant in understanding the celestial bodies
in the Universe using radio frequencies. She is
currently a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics, Oxford
stars that emitted electromagnetic radiation? galaxy in spaceships. They are beginning to be University, and Professorial Fellow of Mansfield
It was a bit of a joke. It would have been a very important in understanding how materials react College, Oxford. Burnell is currently on a visit to
unintelligent group of Little Green Men because under very high density. One study suggests several scientific institutions in India including Tata
why would they signal planet Earth? Why would that the stars have so much density that they Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai.
they signal at 81.5 mega hertz? That’s not have quarks in it.
sensible and why would they use amplitude
changers, changing the height of the pulsars. Has there been a recent discovery in the
Why would multiple different groups of Little field of pulsars as significant as yours?
Green Men use the same signal at the same Probably not in that sort of a field but in
time to contact Earth? astronomy there are all sorts of things going on.
One of the things that excite me are fast radio
How has the discovery of pulsars changed bursts, one was discovered several years ago
the understanding of the Universe? and now suddenly in the last 12 months they
One big change at the time of the discovery of have started finding more. We now know of
pulsars was that it made the existence of black about 25 of them. Do you know of the principle
holes more likely. Until then people weren’t that of dispersion? It’s a single sharp radio blast
sure about black holes. with different frequencies. Radio waves travel
at different speeds and different frequencies.
Does the Universe still surprise you? The high frequencies come first followed by the
There has been a huge change in the Universe lower ones. These new pulsars have turned out
since I started studying astronomy. When I to have much greater dispersions, which means
started, we more or less thought we understood they encompass a lot of electrons far more than
the Universe and subsequently we found out what is in our galaxy. They come from beyond
that there is something we call dark matter, and the galaxy, so they are probably at a red shift
recently we found something we know as dark of one, which is when the Universe was half
energy. The net result is that all that we thought its present size. They last about a millisecond.
we understood about the Universe actually There has not been a repeat burst from any of
makes up only five per cent. So we went from them and there is nothing when you look at the
thinking we understand 95 per cent to knowing same spot after the burst. So what they are is a
it was only five per cent, which may not be very interesting issue at the moment. Now we
progress, but it is a step further. know they exist and know what to look for. We
are now going to find them faster and faster
What do you think has been the most even though they are all over the sky and not
significant development in another area due confined to the galactic plane.
to your discovery?
Well... NASA is launching a satellite fairly soon, What are you currently working on?
which is going to see if we can use pulsars as I’m 70 now and retired from the field. I am
navigating beacons. But pulsars are lighthouses, no longer doing active research, but I do
so my thesis advisor Antony Hewish, patented travel to give talks. Doing interesting high
the idea that they could be used as navigation level committee work, judging prizes
beacons when we start travelling through the make for a very interesting life.
PREPARING FOR

In some of the most remote corners of the world,


researchers are flocking to try out the Martian
way of life. Sean Blair reveals why the quest to
conquer the Red Planet starts on Earth
corbis

26 / FOCUS / FEBRUA RY 2014


Planetary exploration | Science

U
pwards of 200,000 people from missions from 2024, with four-strong
140-odd countries have applied crews setting off every two years.
for one-way tickets to the Red But do Mars One’s applicants
Planet from Holland’s Mars One have any idea what they’re letting
television project. Producers are now themselves in for? They’d be
starting a two-year selection process, spending their lives on a cold,
seeking participants suitable for both radiation-blasted and dust-shrouded
Rock samples are colonising Mars and becoming reality world, 225 million kilometres from
collected in Utah before TV stars. In December 2013, Mars One home on average. Any unprotected
being taken back to the announced it would send an unmanned exposure to the outdoors would make
Mars Desert Research
Station in Utah; how long rover and communications satellite to their blood boil, while the merest
before a similar scene is the Red Planet, to arrive in 2018. It contact with bleach-like surface dust
played out on Mars itself? hopes to follow this with manned might risk chemical burns.

April 2014 27

FEBRUA RY 2014 FOCUS / 27


Science | Planetary exploration

“I was attracted by the advert,


offering: ‘Hard work, no pay,
eternal glory!’”
Vladimir Pletser of the European Space Agency

Thankfully, by the time they launch, Ashley adds. “The same is true of people.”
they may know what to expect. This year The University of Bristol is also working
is shaping up to be the busiest yet for dress on some specially designed gloves that will
rehearsals on Earth. For the whole year, feed information from the outside surface
a succession of crews are living in a habitat through to the user’s fingertips using
in the Utah desert – a desolate environment ultrasonic pulses. The hope is that the gloves
resembling Mars. And from August 2014, will allow astronauts to be more aware of
a crew of six will simulate a Mars mission the environment as well as helping them
for 12 months in the Arctic chill of with manual tasks when gripping tools.
northern Canada. Human confinement studies, mimicking
It’s the scientific pull of the Red Planet the isolation of long-term space missions,
that’s attracting researchers to the bleakest started in the 1960s. The major ‘Biosphere
corners of our world. They live as if they are 2’ experiment began in 1991 in the Arizona
on Mars: toiling within confined modules, desert, with eight ‘bionauts’ sealed away for
their power, food and water rationed. Just two years, growing their own food and
to step outside means donning a realistic generating their own oxygen.Veteran
spacesuit and passing through a simulated bionauts are now advising Mars One on life
airlock.Even radioing the outside world support technologies.
involves a 20-minute time delay. Interest in ‘planetary analogues’ – locations
“The analogue suit makes you feel on Earth with similarities to aspects of other
isolated,” recalls Ashley Dale, an aerospace worlds – arose more recently. “Analogues
PhD student at the University of Bristol, have become more sought after as planetary
who in 2011 spent two weeks at the Mars science becomes more interdisciplinary,” says
Desert Research Station (MDRS) in western Anita Heyward of Europlanet, a European
Utah. “The gloves are bulky and there’s an air network of planetary scientists that supports
circulation system – you can’t hear a thing field trips to analogue sites from Tunisia to
except through the radio. The high altitude Siberia. “It’s not just geology these days,
puts strain on your cardiovascular system, and but areas like astrobiology – studying life in
the suit weighs more than 10kg. The helmet extreme environments.”
limits your view too – you don’t normally
realise how seeing your feet helps you walk.”

ANATOMY OF A
During one ‘Extra Vehicular Activity’
Ashley and his crewmates heard blood-
curdling screams from back in the ‘Hab’.
They sped back, still observing the standard
re-pressurisation protocol: “We didn’t know
mars SPACESUIT
if it was some kind of test.” It wasn’t –
a mouse had snuck inside, surprising Aouda.X is designed to give wearers a feel for
the occupants. Martian gravity
January sees Ashley returning to the Utah
OEWF/KATJA Zanella-kux x2

station for another fortnight, leading its first The Austrian Space Forum’s ‘Aouda.X’ is designed to let
UK crew. Plans include trying out a new wearers feel what it would be like to take a stroll in Mars’s
suit with inbuilt air supplies, testing how light gravity, powerful radiation and toxic atmosphere.
‘extremophile’ bacteria take to the Utah Costing around £1 million, it’s not a true spacesuit but
desert and operating the Canadian Space instead is designed to simulate the same stresses and
Agency’s Artemis Jr. rover, a prototype lunar limitations astronauts would experience if they were to
explorer: “You need to take systems like this wear a suit while walking on Mars.
out of the lab to really put them to the test,”

28 April 2014

28 / FOCUS / FEBRUA RY 2014


A researcher conducts a field test
of the Aouda.X spacesuit as part
of a simulated Mars mission in the
Moroccan desert

There’s no on-board oxygen supply;


ambient air is circulated with fans.
Sensors check temperature, humidity
and build-up of CO2 to warn of
overheating or stale air.

Like current spacesuits, Aouda.X


combines a ‘hard upper torso’ with
pressurised hinged limbs, incorporating
fireproof and bulletproof layers, and
an outer aluminum covering. It can be
safely worn between temperatures of
-110°C and +35°C.

A 12-volt battery powers an


on-board wireless connection
enabling biomedical and
engineering data to be
transmitted, including glove
accelerometers that check
energy expended. There’s also
a heads-up display.

Moving inside a spacesuit has been


likened to folding a balloon. An adjustable
exoskeleton submits the wearer to the
equivalent forces of various pressure
regimes for all joints, including fingers.

With average temperatures on Mars


at –63°C, heated boots will keep
astronauts’ feet warm. The suit
weighs 45kg – much less than current
145kg spacesuits but their equivalent
in one-third Martian gravity.

FEBRUA RY 2014 FOCUS / 29


Science | Planetary exploration

Alien worlds on earth


It was the Mars Society – advocating
manned missions to the Red Planet
How to feed a mission to Mars
– that began combining confinement
and analogue studies. “The society took pack veggie
advantage of the fact that NASA already Hawaii’s HI-SEAS project proposed
had a research presence on Devon Island spam-fried rice for its crew. But tinned
in the Canadian Arctic. In 2000 the society meat takes up too much space so Tofu
received permission to site the Flashline offers a lighter, easier to store, protein-
Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) rich alternative. Martian explorers may
there,” explains Vladimir Pletser of the have to be veggie.
European Space Agency, veteran of both
FMARS and MDRS. Nearly twice the
size of Belgium, uninhabited Devon Island grow your own
is the site of the 23km (14-mile) diameter Astronauts cultivating their own food
Haughton Crater, formed about 39 million would not only reduce the monotony
years ago but largely intact, offering but provide an oxygen bonus too. In
intriguing geology. fact, soybeans are already cultivated on
The MDRS next took shape in Utah. the International Space Station so
“I was attracted by the advert, offering: there’s already a precedent.
‘Hard work, no pay, eternal glory!’” recalls
Vladimir, who oversees ESA zero-G flights
as his day job. 3D print it
This year saw a new Mars base arise, Cornell University is working on
the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and 3D-printed food. Layers of edible gels
Simulation (HI-SEAS), on the volcanic build the desired dish and can be given
slopes of Mauna Loa. During an initial various textures, tastes and nutrients by
four-month stay, the eight occupants of the printer. Cheese (pictured) and
HI-SEAS undertook various experiments. chocolate are among the successes so far.
These included charting links between food
freshness and preparation with crew well-
being, as well as modelling anti-microbial
clothes – one participant wore a single
unwashed T-shirt for the duration.
“Does it help the experiments generally
for us to be located here?” asks Kim
Binsted, overseeing HI-SEAS experiments. dinner together, often followed by a movie, this,” says Forum’s Alexander Soucek.
“Well, the participants benefit from having usually sci-fi. For World Space Week last October the
genuinely meaningful work. HI-SEAS is Not that simulating Mars demands a Forum’s timing tests went one step further,
near a lava field with unexplored lava tubes; habitat: last February, non-profit research with synchronised testing of three different
there is the chance to do actual science group the Austrian Space Forum undertook analogue Mars suits: their own, in Austria,
each time they go out.” HI-SEAS has a a four-week field study near Erfoud, in the Mars Society suit at MDRS, and another
novel geodesic dome design compared to Morocco’s northern Sahara. More than a from the University of North Dakota. This
the cylindrical Mars Society Habs. tonne of equipment was shipped out to the networked ‘World Space Walk’ was a first
OEWF/KATJA Zanella-kux, nasa, jeffrey lipton

Days start early, at about 5 to 6am, with desert, assisted by the Moroccan authorities step towards setting a common standard for
plenty to do, from scientific research to who also provided security. suit evaluation.
maintenance. That includes a typical two Camping by night, they evaluated Next year FMARS and HI-SEAS both
to three EVAs per day, with quad bikes various European space hardware, including plan year-long tours, paralleling the scheduled
in the Arctic and Utah for geological a Hungarian lunar rover, a prototype year-long crew stay on the International
surveying further afield. “With the suits, planetary lander and weather station, and Space Station. And if Mars One does go
there are all kinds of problems you can’t their own Aouda.X simulated Mars suit, and forward, the concept of analogue tours should
anticipate,” explains Vladimir. “I needed to performed geological retrieval amid other come into the mainstream. TV viewers will
fix computer equipment, but my gloves mock experiments inspired by the Apollo play their part in history as they choose the
were so big I was tapping four keys at once. moonwalkers’ tasks. The suit performed first humans to walk on Mars for real.
I didn’t get permission to take my glove well, although fine Saharan sand got
off, so I taped a screw to my finger, letting everywhere, including backpack electronics. Sean Blair is a space expert, science
me press what I wanted.” Evenings are for “Eventually it had to be taken apart for journalist and editor for the European
rest: crews typically make the effort to eat cleaning, though we were well prepared for Space Agency.

30 April 2014

30 / FOCUS / FEBRUA RY 2014


A Hungarian concept for a Martian lander
that collects weather data is installed
in the Moroccan desert by a researcher
wearing the Aouda.X spacesuit

HOW TO get to MARS Reaching the Red Planet is a long and perilous journey –
at least with current rocket technology

Mars at its most distant is a thousand landing on the surface. Either way,
times further than the Moon, which is after three to four months, the return
itself a thousand times further than launch window would open, unless
the International Space Station. This this is a long-term (or one-way) trip.
is a major reason why more than half Cruising between worlds spells
of all Mars probes have failed. A danger from cosmic radiation. Food
manned mission would need some and water (plus waste) packed around
redundancy, including twin the hull would double as radiation
spacecraft. A suitable ‘launch shielding. But the best way to cut
window’ opens every two years and a exposure is to slash travel time. NASA
chemical rocket trip might take seven hopes to do this with the VASIMIR
to nine months. The main spacecraft plasma rocket – due for ISS testing in
would remain in orbit while landers 2015. This could take a crew to Mars
dropped to the surface. Alternatively, in 39 days, but to power the rocket for
‘docking’ with Martian moon Phobos this length of time would require a
might be simpler than immediately yet-to-be developed fusion reactor.

FEBRUA RY 2014 FOCUS / 31


Nature | Portfolio

portfolio
The night has always fascinated Eric Médard. “It’s when our senses are
awakened,” he explains. “Our focus naturally shifts to sounds, smells and
the feel of the wind. During the day many mammals take refuge, and it’s
only at night that they really become active. There is so much to learn
then, but we’re not equipped to see everything that’s going on. Infra-red
cameras have allowed me to unlock a few of these secrets. ”

32 April 2014
WHAT A MOUTHFUL
Nocturnal photography requires good
naturalist skills and detective work to decide
where to place your cameras and sensors.
You can use data from websites to work out
where you’ll see wildlife in the daytime. But at
night you need to create your own data by
looking for tracks and droppings to
determine the paths animals use. I often
position a camera along this track near my
house, and it’s pretty common to see roe
deer, badgers, pine martens and foxes. So
this image was no great surprise.
But what did catch my attention was the
size of the prey that the fox had captured.
I zoomed in and saw that it was carrying
kittens. I assume that they were the offspring
of a feral domestic cat that lives nearby.
Nature | Portfolio

BRIDGE OF BATS
 While I was out
researching locations to
photograph otters (see p39),
I came across this beautiful
ivy-covered bridge and
realised that it would be the
perfect setting for a picture of
bats in flight. However, I had
no idea whether these
nocturnal aeronauts actually
did come through here.
I got my answer on the first
night, though they were in
only one photo. My second
attempt was more promising
with a lot of images, but
nothing that was sufficiently
sharp. It was only on the third
night that I captured this
picture. I shot it with a single
exposure and five flashes,
because I wanted to fill the
space underneath the arch
with a number of bats.
A DREAM SUBJECT
 If there is a single animal that
represents the night for me, it is
the genet. Photographing one had
always been something of a
dream, but I live above the Loire
Valley north of the river, where the
species is very rare. So to get this
shot I had to head south.
A friend of mine knew a rock
where a genet marked its territory,
and showed me the location. This
was a great place to position a
camera-trap, particularly because
the surroundings were so
photogenic. I set up two flashes,
one above the camera and the
other to the side. I was lucky that
the genet looked up at just the
right time to allow me to get
this photograph.

WINGED WONDER
This little owl is a daily visitor to my
garden – it’s good practice to get to
know the habits of animals on your
patch. I’ve found that owls are loyal
to a perch for weeks at a time before
suddenly moving on to another. This
means that, as a photographer, you
have to be very vigilant, constantly
looking for clues as to their preferred
spot. Fresh droppings in one
location several mornings in a row
are a clear indicator, and when you
think that you have managed to find
their perch, you just position the
camera and hope for the best.

April 2014 35
Nature | Portfolio

36 April 2014
tiny NOise-makers
 I visited this forest in Slovenia
several times, mostly to photograph
bears, before I realised it was full
of edible dormice. In autumn
they make a lot of noise all night,
and since they are attracted to
fresh fruit they are pretty easy
to photograph.
HAPPY ACCIDENT
Otters are very rare in my part of France – there
are only 10 or so in all the rivers of Mayenne. So
it is not surprising that nobody had managed to
photograph one where I live, though we knew
they were here from the evidence: spraints,
tracks and three dead bodies.
I set up a camera in this location after finding
spraints here, telling me that an otter was
marking its territory. Photography excites me but
this kind of detective work, when you really have
to understand animals and their behaviour, is
even more fascinating. In this shot I clearly didn’t
capture the otter I was looking for, but I did get
this beautiful grey heron. The bird visits this
location to fish every night.
Portfolio | Nature

BLACK-AND-WHITE
PHOTOGRAPHY
 My interest in documenting
nocturnal wildlife began 25 years
ago with an image of a badger
outside his set, but my approach
to photography has developed
enormously since then. This shot
was taken on a path through the
woods that gets a lot of night-
time traffic.
It was a single badger track
that indicated this was a suitable
spot, and by positioning a sensor
here I knew I could use the large
oak to give a sense of scale in
the image – and to show the
animal’s quirky charm.

Otter MAGIC
It took me several weeks to find
enough evidence to identify a
spot that this male otter visited
regularly. Even then I had to wait
for two months to get a photo of
him, though I made sure that my
equipment was totally
soundproofed so I wouldn’t
cause any disturbance. Once I
missed my chance because the
camera failed to work after
getting soaked in the rain!
Sometimes the otter passed The photographer
here five or six times in the
same evening. In this photo he Eric Médard is part nature
detective and part optical
has just got out of the river and
technician. He has spent 25
is leaving a spraint on a rock.
years developing soundproofed
infra-red equipment. His
photography covers Europe but focuses
on his native France.

find out more


You can see more of Eric’s spectacular
photos, including shots of his resident
tawny and barn owls, in a gallery on
E www.discoverwildlife.com

April 2014 39
10
Science | The science of sleep

THINGS YOU
DIDN’T KNOW
ABOUT SLEEP
Ever wondered what your body’s doing while you’re off in the land
of nod? David K Randall delves into the science of snoozing
 264 hours is
the longest
documented
stretch that anyone
has stayed awake

In 1964, a San Diego  Some animals only send


 Artificial lights have student named Randy
changed our natural half their brain to sleep
Gardner stayed awake
sleeping patterns without any kind of In dolphins and whales, for instance,
Without them, we would sleep in stimulants for 11 days, this gives them the ability to surface
two blocks each night. We would fall experiencing phantom for air and be on the lookout
asleep around 10pm and wake up a sounds and visions the for danger while still technically
few hours later, going back to sleep longer he went without sleeping. Ducks are also able to
after an hour. Psychologist Thomas sleep. When he finally fell sleep with one eye shut and one-half
Wehr found people revert to sleeping asleep, he slept for nearly of their brains asleep, allowing some
this way if isolated from artificial 15 hours. No long-term ill of the birds to stand watch while
lights for more than a few weeks. effects were reported. others in the group rest.

 Dreams tend
to follow well-
defined patterns
In his lifetime, Calvin Hall,
a psychology professor
at Case Western Reserve
University in Cleveland,  Sleep may help us
 Children around collected more than
the world have vastly 50,000 dream reports
to learn new skills
different sleep patterns from anyone who’d After having people play the
Jodi Mindell of the Children’s share them. Using Hall’s video game Tetris before they
Hospital of Philadelphia and database, researchers went to sleep, Robert Stickgold
Avi Sadeh of Tel Aviv University identified that we tend to of Harvard Medical School found
found that 95 per cent of babies dream about the things that test subjects tended to dream
in Vietnam sleep in their parents’ that make us anxious. about the game that night. Those
bed, compared to 15 per cent in Adults tend to dream subjects who dreamed about the
Australia. In New Zealand, the about other adults, while game showed the most dramatic
average bedtime for an infant is children are more likely improvement once they played it
7.30pm; in Hong Kong, it’s 10.30pm. to dream of animals. again the next day.

alamy, thinkstock, getty x5, Press Association Images, NaturePL.com, superstock


 Sleeping
rhythms can
affect sports
performance
Researchers at Stanford
University and the
University of Maine found
 Therapy may be a better that circadian rhythms  Female sleep is the
treatment for insomnia – the natural cycles that key to a happy marriage
than sleeping pills govern when we’re awake
and when we’re sleepy – Psychiatrist Wendy Troxel of the
Psychologist Charles Morin of have an ‘outsized effect’ University of Pittsburgh recently
Laval University in Quebec found on professional sports: found that a woman’s ability to
that people who used cognitive athletes at their peak fall and stay asleep had a greater
behavioural therapy to deal with circadian rhythms have an impact on marital satisfaction
sleepless nights reported much unseen advantage over than her daily interactions with her
better overall sleep quality than those their opponents. husband. The same effect was not
treated with sleeping pills alone. found for men in relationships.

 16-19°C is the ideal


temperature for a
good night’s sleep
Research in Lille, France
arrived at this figure for
someone sleeping in pyjamas David K Randall is the author
and covered by sheets. If of the book Dreamland:
they sleep naked, the ideal Adventures In The Strange
temperature jumps to 30-32ºC.
Science Of Sleep.

April 2014 41
It makes up the vast majority of
the matter in the Universe, but we
have no idea what it is. Now, as
Marcus Chown reveals, a hidden
realm of dark matter could exist
right under our noses
hdwallpapers.in
Dark matter | Science

T
he idea of a shadow Milky faster and became ever denser.
Way may sound crazy, but it But this process is too slow to
is a serious suggestion from build a galaxy as big as the Milky
physicists in the US trying to make Way in the 13.8-billion-year age
sense of our Universe’s invisible, or of the Universe. To explain our
‘dark’, matter. “We think it’s worth existence it is necessary to postulate
exploring because it might explain a large amount of dark matter whose
some puzzling observations and it is extra gravity greatly speeded up
testable,” says Matthew McCullough, galaxy formation.
from the Center for Theoretical
Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Dark matter theories
Technology near Boston. Dark matter accounts for 26.8 per
Dark matter has been postulated to cent of the mass-energy of the
explain several baffling astronomical Universe. It outweighs the normal
observations. One is that stars in stuff – the 4.9 per cent atomic
the outer regions of spiral galaxies matter that makes up you, me and
like our own are orbiting too fast. everything else – five times over. The
Like children on a speeded-up question is: what is it? There have
roundabout, they should be flung off been scores of suggestions, from
into interstellar space. They are not, fridge-sized black holes left over
astronomers reason, thanks to the from the Big Bang to relics from the
gravitational grip of a huge amount future whose ‘arrow of time’ runs
of matter, which gives out no backwards. But the most popular
detectable light. idea is that dark matter is made
A second observation, which of a hitherto undiscovered
dark matter is used to explain is subatomic particle.
the fact that you are reading these There are many candidates – for
words. Observations of the cosmic example axions, which might fix a
background radiation, the ‘afterglow’ problem with nature’s ‘strong’ force,
of the Big Bang fireball, show that and Weakly Interacting Massive
matter in the beginning was spread Particles. WIMPs are predicted by
very evenly throughout space. There theories such as supersymmetry
were, however, places where it was (SUSY), which attempts to show
slightly denser than average. These that one set of nature’s fundamental
regions, having stronger gravity than particles – fermions – are simply the
their surroundings, dragged in matter flip-side of its other set, bosons.

April 2014 43
Science | Dark matter

SO WHAT IS DARK
Many different theories
have been put forward
Particles
called
regarding the Universe’s WIMPS
‘missing mass’ – here’s
a step-by-step guide to There is a vast amount
of ‘dark’ matter, whose
some of the most popular
extra gravity explains the
anomalous orbital motion of stars
in spiral galaxies and galaxies in
galaxy clusters. This dark matter
There are
invisible outweighs the normal matter The dark
Particles
particles in the Universe by a factor called matter is made
of about 5.5. So what axions of ‘axions’. These have
exactly is it? very small masses but there
are huge numbers of them. The
motivation for their existence has to
START HERE do with nature’s strong nuclear force,
The gravitational Mini black which holds together atomic nuclei.
pull of the visible matter in holes Axions could have been produced
the Universe fails to explain the in prodigious numbers during
motion of stars observed in galaxies the earliest moments of
and galaxies in galaxy clusters. For the Big Bang.
instance, the stars in the outer regions They are
of spiral galaxies like our own Milky made of fridge-sized
Way are orbiting so fast they ought black holes, each the mass
to fly off into interstellar space. of Jupiter. These would have
The question is, why been created in the first millionth
don’t they? of a second of the Big Bang and
survived. The nearest would be 30
light-years from the Earth, almost
science photo library x2, cern, nasa/spitzer, alan r/wikipedia

10 times farther away than the


nearest star, Alpha Centauri. So
they would pose no danger
to the Earth!
Gravity is
wrong

Some think our


theory of gravity
is wrong. It’s far stronger Modified
than Newton would have Newtonian Dynamics How could we
predicted in the outer theorises that gravity acts more detect black
holes?
regions of spiral galaxies, which is strongly than predicted by classical
preventing the stars there from Modify physics below a critical acceleration
flying off into gravity (10-10m/s2). Such tiny values exist in the
interstellar space. So outer reaches of spiral galaxies, which
what’s the answer? is why stars there whirl around faster
than expected. Another version
compatible with Relativity is
known as TeVeS.

44 April 2014
Direct

MATTER?
detectors use a large
mass of a single element
such as silicon or xenon. The
idea is that, if a dark matter particle
slams into an atomic nucleus,
the nucleus will recoil violently.
The detectors tend not to observe
the recoil itself, but rather a
Weakly secondary effect such the
Interacting Massive Detect emission of light by
WIMPS
Particles (WIMPS) are particles directly
the material.
predicted by supersymmetry and by
theories that claim there are more than
three dimensions of space. In the latter
case, ‘echoes’ in the extra dimensions
manifest as so-called ‘Kaluza-Klein’
particles, which are super-heavy
versions of standard subatomic Detect
WIMPS
particles. How could we indirectly
detect them?
Make our
own Indirect detectors
look for the gamma
rays expected when a dark
matter particle in space meets its
How could antiparticle and annihilates. No-one
we detect
axions? knows the mass of any dark matter
The way to particle and so the energy of the
detect a passing axion gamma rays they should expect to see.
is by placing a ‘microwave Collider However, a characteristic of such
cavity’ – a closed metal structure detectors, such as gamma rays is that they should
used to amplify certain frequencies the Large Hadron Collider all be at pretty much the
of microwave – in a magnetic field. in Geneva, use the energy of same energy.
An axion is expected to interact with colliding particles to create new
such a magnetic field to create particles. Obviously, the energy of the
microwaves, which can then be incoming particles must equal that
easily detected within of the outgoing particles. If it does
the cavity. not, this missing mass would be
the tell-tale sign that a dark
matter particle had also
been created.

Evidence
for fridge-sized
black holes left over from
the Big Bang is the flickering of
the light from quasars – super-bright
distant galaxies. Some astronomers
suggest this might be caused when a
black hole passes between
Earth and the quasar and its gravity
magnifies the quasar’s light, an
effect called ‘gravitational
microlensing’.
Science | Dark matter

The particles come in the guise of a whole set


of ‘superpartners’ of the known subatomic
particles. The lightest stable superpartner, “The everyday world is complex. What if
the dark matter is like that as well?”
the neutralino, is a popular candidate for the
dark matter.
But there is a problem. No neutralino
or any other dark matter particle has yet Professor Lisa Randall, Department of Physics, Harvard University
been conjured up by the super-high-energy
collisions at the Large Hadron Collider near fragmented into stars. This was only possible of dark matter spread thinly in a spherical
Geneva. “It’s possible one will turn up when because the normal matter was able to shed ‘halo’ doesn’t yield a high enough density of
the accelerator is restarted at an even higher its heat – heat that was pushing outwards and such particles to explain such a gamma-ray
collision energy in 2015,” says McCullough. preventing gravity shrinking the cloud – by feature. But “with a double disc, the new
“But what if it does not?” emitting that heat energy as electromagnetic component of dark matter could be denser
This has got some physicists wondering waves, or light. Crucially, however, the dark and so find other particles to annihilate with
whether our model of dark matter needs to matter could not give out light. Unable more often,” says Randall.
be tweaked. “The everyday world is complex to lose energy and shrink into a disc, it
– built not out of a single Lego brick remained in a spherical cloud. This has led to Detecting dark matter
particle but a whole multitude of them,” says a picture of our Galaxy as a flattened spiral Most experiments to detect dark matter
McCullough. “What if the dark matter is like disc of stars embedded in a spherical cloud of have seen nothing, even though the Sun is
that as well?” dark matter. orbiting the centre of the Galaxy at 220km/s
McCullough has been working with Lisa But Randall and her colleagues say the relative to the dark matter halo. “If some of
Randall of Harvard University, author of kind of dark matter they envisage might the dark matter is in a second disc which is
Warped Passages and the first tenured female interact with itself via a force analogous turning with the visible galaxy, this is what
theoretical physicist at both Harvard and to our electromagnetic force. So it might we would expect,” says McCullough. “The
MIT. She and her colleagues have proposed be able to lose energy by giving out dark relative motion between the dark and normal
a new form of matter that would interact electromagnetic waves, or ‘dark light’. “The discs will be zero, so dark matter will hit the
with itself while shunning normal matter. dark matter could then collapse into a thin detectors too softly to be noticed.”
Consequently, we would not know that it disc just like normal matter,” she says. “We Critics might say that dark matter does
is there. call it double disc dark matter.” not explain what we see, and that Randall
Most importantly, such self-interacting The idea of a double disc might explain and her colleagues are simply adding bells
dark stuff would behave very differently some observational anomalies. For instance, and whistles. They might say it is reminiscent
from conventional dark matter. Our Milky NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope of the Greeks, who on discovering their
Way is believed to have formed from a giant has detected gamma rays of energy 130 theory that planets orbit in circles did not
spherical, rotating cloud of dark matter gigaelectronvolts (GeV) coming from the fit the data, added circles within circles, or
intermingled with a little normal matter. The centre of our Galaxy. This could be explained ‘epicycles’, until it did.
normal stuff began to shrink under gravity. if there exists a dark matter particle of mass “I think it’s even worse than adding
This happened faster between the poles 130 GeV – about 130 times the mass of the epicycles,” says Mordehai Milgrom of the
than around the equator, where the outward proton. The gamma rays might then come Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. “It’s
‘centrifugal force’ opposed gravity. The end from the annihilation of such dark matter adding epicycles just for the heck of it.”
result was a thin, flattened disc which then particles and their antiparticles. The picture Milgrom is the originator of the idea of

The cosmic microwave background reveals The Fermi telescope’s gamma-ray view of the Milky Way (gamma-ray
the uneven distribution of matter in the early Universe emissions are shown in bright red). It has detected radiation that the
traditional view of a dark matter halo can’t explain

46 April 2014
The LUX detector, located in
a former gold mine in South
Dakota, has so far failed to
find any evidence of the dark
matter particles it is looking for

Modified Newtonian Dynamics, or MOND, no choice but to take what nature gives us.” The existence of a dark electromagnetic
which contends that the anomalous orbital So how could we find evidence of our force would enable a subcomponent of dark
motion of stars in spiral galaxies is explained Milky Way’s second disc? “It will influence matter to settle into a shadow disc. That disc
not by the gravity of a vast amount of the gravitational field experienced by stars might then fragment into star-sized clumps
invisible dark matter, but by the fact that in the solar neighbourhood,” says Randall. thanks to dark equivalents of the known
gravity is stronger than Newton would “Precision observations of their motion forces. “Whether dark stars might ignite in
have predicted. might therefore reveal the disc.” these clumps would depend on the existence
matt kapust X3, nasa

McCullough concedes that the double The second disc might not have the same of dark strong and weak nuclear forces to
disc dark matter idea does not satisfy the thickness or extent as ours. “But even if they ignite nuclear reactions,” says Randall.
old addage of Occam’s razor, which says didn’t start out aligned,” says Randall, “the
that if there are two competing theories, the gravitational tug between the dark disc Marcus Chown is a former radio
simplest is usually true. “But what if dark and the normal disc would long ago have astronomer, and author of several books
including We Need To Talk About Kelvin.
matter truly is complex?” he says. “We have aligned them.”
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Science | Space Technology

a d but
s o u nd m jects
y m ay i n g pro ure
Th e
p i o nee very nat e
r
e
thes ange the tion as w o
h ra g
will c ce explo ATER is
a G
of sp it. WILL
know nch...
u
for la

50 / FOCUS / DECEMBER 2013


W
hen it comes to cutting-edge
space technology it’s easy to
think that nothing much has happened
since the Moon landings over four decades ago.
But if you want an idea of how space exploration
might evolve in the coming decades, look no further than
the work of the little-known NASA Innovative Advanced
Concepts programme, or NIAC. It’s responsible for “We
funding forward-thinking studies that the US space agency receive
believes could open up whole new ways of exploring the hundreds of
Solar System. proposals every
“NIAC is all about giving revolutionary concepts a chance, year, and every time
especially the visionary or unusual ones that would normally there are some fascinating
be considered too risky,” says NIAC Program Executive Dr concepts none of us have seen
Jay Falker. Every year since 2011, the programme has given before,” says Falker.
substantial funding to projects it thinks could make these big We’ve picked 10 projects recently
technological advances. And there are few limits on the kind awarded NIAC grants that we think should
of concepts that are considered. The ideas currently funded get the green light. It may be many years before
cover many fields – everything from pioneering robotics to any of them make it into space, but read on to
the advanced engineering needed to send humans to Mars. discover our favourites in reverse order...

April 2014 51
10 springy
Sensors could be bounced
on to a planet by a springy
ball-like structure

rovers
Rockets, parachutes and airbags have
helped land several rovers on Mars, but the
next generation of robotic planetary
explorers may use a totally new technology.
Dr Vytas SunSpiral and his colleagues at
NASA are looking to send a robot to
Saturn’s moon Titan that will be constructed
entirely of a set of rods held in place by
cables under tension. This ‘tensegrity
structure’ would be equipped with scientific “Imagine going to
instruments and wouldn’t need a parachute
or airbag. “The structure itself is compliant
sleep and waking up on
and can absorb strong impact shocks, so it Mars six months later,
no worse for wear!”
can land safely while protecting a payload,”
explains SunSpiral. Not only that but it
will be mobile too, he says. “Once
landed, it can shorten and Dr John E Bradford, president of
SpaceWorks Engineering
lengthen its cables to
induce rolling and
explore the six to nine-month transfer periods Bradford. “With the crew in this state,
planet.” between Earth and Mars,” he explains. we believe we can reduce the mass
The ‘deep-sleep’ method the and volume of the in-space habitat
SpaceWorks team is investigating is significantly. This ultimately reduces
known as hypothermia therapy. “It’s the entire launch mass. The habitat

9
used regularly to treat traumatic itself will be a very small module

astronaut
injuries,” says Bradford. “Inducing this containing four to six crew members,
torpor state requires reducing the core each in their own sleep chamber. By
body temperature by 5 to 10°F [up to contrast, a typical habitat for an active
6°C] and providing some mild crew is required to have space for food

hibernation sedatives.” It’s a very different process


to the ‘freezing’ of astronauts often
preparation and eating, exercise,
science stations, bathrooms, sleeping
photo: adrian Agogino, esa, foster & Partners, science photo library

seen on the big screen, says Bradford. quarters and entertainment.”


“We’re not attempting ‘cryo- It may even be better for the
The concept of putting astronauts into preservation’ and the cessation of all astronauts’ well-being. “On a Mars
hibernation during a long mission into molecular activity. Our goal is to be mission, you can expect to have a
interplanetary space is ever-present in able to keep the crew in an inactive small group of people confined to a
science-fiction. From Avatar to 2001: A state and limited to a confined space very small space for an extended
Space Odyssey, complex life-support during certain parts of the mission.” period of time, under a lot of stress
systems have become a visual To keep the astronauts alive the and with no way to abort if there’s a
synonym for the advanced space team envisage using technology that’s problem,” explains Bradford. “A lot of
technology of the future. Now, as we already in use in medicine. “They will these issues are solved if the crew is
look to Mars as a place to explore, be fed and hydrated through an asleep during peak periods of stress
there are some who are working to intravenous line using an aqueous and likely boredom.”
make the science fiction of hibernating solution called ‘total parenteral Nevertheless, there’s still much
astronauts a reality. Dr John E nutrition’ or TPN. This method of more research to be done before the
Bradford is president of SpaceWorks providing sustenance for humans is technology makes it into space.
Engineering, a US-based company that routinely used for extended durations “Ultimately, I think it will be the
was awarded funds to investigate the with cancer patients,” says Bradford. preferred way to travel,” says
pioneering technology. “In short, we The are several benefits to be had Bradford. “Just imagine going to sleep
are attempting to put a Mars-bound from having a crew sleep their way and waking up on Mars six months
crew in a deep-sleep stasis during the through a long space voyage, argues later, no worse for wear!”
Space Technology | Science

To make the trip to the Red


Planet a more comfortable
experience, future explorers may
have to be put into a state of
suspended animation

3D printers could
be put to work
building habitats
8 Off-planet
3d printing
The first astronauts to explore Mars
face a dangerous mission. they’ll have
to contend with living on a distant
on the Moon outpost with little chance of a speedy
re-supply if something goes wrong. If a
vital component of their spacecraft
breaks, there’ll be no mechanic on hand
to bring them a spare. The ‘Biomaterials
out of thin air’ NIAC project could be
“We know dark energy exists, but how this the solution. It’s examining how living
cells could be used, in conjunction with
substance changes with time and location 3D-printing, to create spacecraft parts,

remains unclear” construction materials and, potentially,


even human tissue.
Dr David Bacon of the University of
Portsmouth

April 2014 53

DECEMBER 2013 / FOCUS / 53


7 Flat
We could one day Dimensional Planetary Surface Landers
simply scatter sheets of project is looking into the technology
sensors onto planets
needed to build numerous wafer-thin

landers
‘landers’ that could be scattered onto
a planet, moon or asteroid. Each lander
would be only a few millimetres deep
and would cover about one square
The tense landing of NASA’s Mars metre; on-board would be solar panels
Science Laboratory, Curiosity, back and communications electronics
in 2012 took years of planning and as well as radiation, wind and
advanced engineering, and it all rested temperature sensors.
on the perfect performance of the They may even carry thin scientific
mission’s landing systems. Today, instruments for studying their
Curiosity is giving us a unique view of surroundings. Tens of landers would
one of the most scientifically interesting be sent to the target in one go, with the
places on the Red Planet. But there may possibility of sending up to 50. “When
be a much simpler way to explore many a number of 2D landers are deployed,
more of these tantalising environments some may make it and others may not. It
throughout the Solar System. is still acceptable,” says the project’s
The Two- lead Dr Hamid Hemmati. “It also enables
landing at highly risky, but geologically
much more interesting, locations.”

“Enabling material to be
launched as spools or fibre will
enable us to use smaller rockets” Spider bots could be set
to work building large
Dr Robert Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited structures in space

54 / FOCUS / DECEMBER 2013


X xxx
Space Technology | Science

6 Smash
Winglee at the University of Washington tens of kilometres for moons,” explains
is investigating the feasibility of a Winglee. As the penetrators smash
planetary ‘smash and grab’ sample- into the surface they will pick up some

and grab
return technique. The idea is to have a material in an on-board sample-return
probe drop penetrators into the surface capsule. This capsule will then be reeled
of an asteroid or a moon as it flies past. all the way back to the probe, using the
The penetrators would be attached to tether, before being sent on the long trip

spacecraft
the spacecraft by a long tether. “For home to Earth. “It will provide a huge
asteroids, only a few kilometres of step towards understanding the origins
tether are needed, and maybe a few of the Solar System,” says Winglee.

Robotic rovers and orbiting spacecraft


are all well and good for exploring the 2. Spacecraft thrusts to
decelerate and to spin up tether
Solar System, but what planetary
scientists everywhere dream of are
samples of these distant worlds. Getting
material back to Earth is not easy,
though. If your probe does manage to
launch without a hitch it still has to fly all
1. Spacecraft
the way to its destination, carry out a
deploys
risky landing, take-off and then return sampler at
through Earth’s atmosphere in one the end of
piece. Just ask the team that worked on a tether
NASA’s Genesis mission.
Genesis successfully sampled the solar
wind during a 32-million-km journey
through space, only to embed itself at
320km/h in the Utah desert, when
parachutes failed to open. 3. Tether sets
Now a team led by 5. The tether the sampler
Prof Robert tosses the sampler down on the
towards an Earth- surface and
return trajectory then picks it

5
back up

robot
builders in orbit Science fiction has long depicted materials in the form of a spool of yarn
visions of vast structures looming or tape, and then process that material
in orbit and spaceships with huge to create the desired structure,” explains
solar arrays gliding through the Solar Hoyt. By blending advanced robotics
System. Launching such enormous with 3D printing technology, the team
structures into space is astronomically hopes to start making basic orbiting
expensive though and, as we’ve seen structures before progressing on to
with the International Space Station, construct parts for the next generation
Hamid Hemmati/nasa, robert hoyt

you need astronauts to do much of the of spacecraft. “Manned missions to


construction work. Mars or other planetary bodies will need
One method to get around this, now large structures to support solar arrays,
being studied by Dr Robert Hoyt and radiation shields and other critical
his colleagues at Tethers Unlimited, components,” says Hoyt. “Enabling the
is to launch something that is able to material to be launched in a compact
construct itself once in orbit – they call form, such as spools of fibre or tanks of
their idea ‘SpiderFab’. “We’re developing polymer, will enable us to use smaller,
a process where we can launch less expensive rockets.”

April 2014 55

DECEMBER 2013 / FOCUS / 55


Science | Space Technology

NASA wants
to go
sailing on
Venus with a
solar-powered
4 sail-powered rover
The planet Venus has a truly fearsome reputation, and a well-deserved one at that. Its
sulphuric acid rain, extreme atmospheric pressure and a searing surface temperature
of around 460°C make it a rather hostile place. In fact, it’s probably the last place you’d
think that planetary scientists would want to send a rover. But they do. And they even
want to give it a sail. Yes, a sail. As part of the NIAC programme, NASA scientists
are researching the practicalities of sending a ‘land-sailing rover’ to the
vehicle like this second closest planet to the Sun. The rover would be swept along
Venus’s relatively flat lava plains by a light breeze, say the
scientists. If all went well, the team reckons the
rover could survive for a month or so.

Crater Shackleton’s
depths are revealed
by a topographic
view (left-hand side)
courtesy of the Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter’s
Laser Altimeter

3 sunlight reflectors
If humans ever return to the Moon, one of the places we’ll likely visit is the
region around the crater Shackleton. The crater’s interior is cloaked in permanent
photo: NASA x2, david allen

shadow while its rim is lit up by almost constant sunlight. The soil within may
contain ice that can be used by a future Moon base and the rim would be an ideal
place to put solar panels. But exploring the depths of Shackleton, and features like
it on other bodies, would be difficult due to the darkness. The Transformers for
Extreme Environments project aims to change all that by developing lightweight,
autonomous machines capable of reflecting sunlight down into the dark. The
origami-like structures could be used for illuminating the crater floor, warming a
patch of ground and for communications.

56 / FOCUS / DECEMBER 2013


The huge 100m-wide radiation will pass through the
LBR could look like balloon material largely unhindered,
this space balloon
but not the ‘mirror’. “This wavelength
provides clues to our cosmic origins,
from the Big Bang to the Earth itself,”
says the project’s lead, Prof Christopher
Walker from the University of Arizona.
“The largest terrahertz/far-infrared

1
telescope to fly was the Herschel

robot
2
Space Observatory. LBR will be

balloon
three times larger and have
about an order of magnitude

submarines
greater collecting area,
allowing it to probe this

telescope
important wavelength
deeper than ever before.”
The LBR team hope Hidden beneath the surface of
to use the huge Jupiter’s moon Europa is a vast ocean
Sending telescopes into orbit can be a balloon-borne of liquid water. It’s an astrobiologist’s
very costly way to study the Universe. telescope to study dream. Now a NIAC project, led by
One way astronomers have got objects such Professor Leigh McCue at Virginia
around this is by attaching telescopes as stars and Jupiter’s moon Tech University, has laid out what’s
Europa has a thick
to enormous helium balloons and planets in the ice-sheet that needed to explore it.
letting them drift high up into the sky. process of covers a potentially The team’s concept involves
life-friendly ocean
These floating observatories can then forming. sending three landers to the surface of
view the cosmos largely unimpeded Europa. Each will be equipped with a
by the gases in our atmosphere that ‘cryobot’ that will melt its way through
absorb many of the wavelengths of the icy crust before breaking out
celestial radiation that are interesting into the subsurface ocean. The three
to astronomers. cryobots will then release ‘gliders’ that
The Large Balloon Reflector will swim through the ocean, studying
(or LBR) takes this concept one it in detail. “Europa’s ocean offers our
step further. It will incorporate two most likely prospect for finding some
balloons; the first 100m-wide ‘carrier form of extraterrestrial life within our
balloon’ will take the telescope to Solar System,” says McCue. “That is
roughly 130,000ft (39km) in altitude. what is most exciting to me; under-ice
Fixed inside this balloon will be a exploration of Europa could change
second, smaller one measuring our very understanding of life.”
20m in diameter. A 10m-wide
patch of this balloon will THE GLIDER
be metallised to create a Once a cryobot melts its way
mirror-like surface, which through Europa’s surface
will collect light from ice, it releases a glider like
the stars. this to swim and explore the
The LBR will study subsurface ocean
celestial objects at
wavelengths of Tail provides Sensor
forward motion
between 100 and 300 compartment
microns – what
is known as
‘terrahertz’
radiation.
Pectoral fins
Crucially, enable precise
Computers,
this power storage
control
and control
Will Gater is an astronomy journalist
and author.

April 2014 57

DECEMBER 2013 / FOCUS / 57


history | origins of islam

origins of islam
Meenakshi Jain writes on the
historical context of the origins,
formation, and expansion on one of
the world’s oldest religions - Islam
123rf.com X5

58 April 2014
T
he Arabs call the pre-Islamic period of their history residents of Medina (280miles north of Mecca) accepted
the jahiliyyah - the Age of Ignorance. Not much is his teachings. His followers in Mecca then began to
known about the early religious beliefs of the Arabs. migrate secretly to Medina. Informed of Quraysh plans to
They worshipped many deities, among them Allah taalah, slay him, Muhammad himself reached Medina by a
the name by which they still address the Almighty. circuitous route in CE 622. This migration is known as the
The religion of Islam, founded by Muhammad in hijra and the Muslim calendar commences from this year.
Arabia in the seventh century CE, is the third major While at Medina, Muhammad organised razzias (raids)
Semitic faith after Judaism and Christianity. It accepts the on Meccan caravans en route to Syria. These led to
Prophets of the Jews and Jesus Christ but states that battles with the Quraysh in CE 624-627. In each instance
Muhammad is the Final Messenger of God. military success was followed by attacks on the Jews and
Muhammad was born in Mecca in CE 570, in the Christians of Medina, who were charged with falsifying
Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe. An orphan, he the scriptures to conceal prophesies of Muhammad’s
was raised by his relatives. He accompanied his uncle on advent. In CE 630, Muhammad made a triumphal entry
trading journeys to Syria and himself assumed charge of into Mecca. He circumambulated Kaaba seven times (an
the merchandise of a rich widow, Khadijah, whom he ancient ritual) and ordered the removal of all the 360
subsequently married. idols (in the pre-Islamic era, the Kabba housed many idols
Muhammad had his first vision around CE 610, when and holy stones, popularly numbered at 360, which were
he heard a voice telling him, “You are the Messenger of worshipped by the Arabs) barring one, known as the
God.” He received several such messages. His teachings Black Stone installed there. The people of Mecca
were perceived as critical of the idolatrous practices in submitted to Muhammad, and gradually the various
Mecca and opposition to him grew among the Quraysh. tribes of Arabia acknowledged his spiritual and
The small Muslim community got a reprieve when some temporal supremacy.
Muhammad’s Expansion of Islam
successors Within a hundred years of
Muhammad’s death, the Arabs had
After the death of Muhammad in CE
established an empire greater than that
632, the leadership of the community
of Rome at the pinnacle of its power.
devolved, in succession, on Abu Bakr,
The Arabs conquered Baghdad in CE
Umar, Uthman and Ali. Known as
634, Syria in 636, Persia between 636
the Patriarchal Caliphs, they were
and 650, Egypt in 642, and Carthage
all close companions and relatives of
on the North African coast in 698. The
Muhammad. The first major schism
Central Asian regions were also quickly
in Islam dates from this period. Ali’s
subdued. In 711, the Arabs crossed
followers held that he should have
the Gulf of Gibraltar and entered the
been declared the immediate successor
Iberian Peninsula. In 712 Sindh also
of Muhammad as he was married to
came under their control. The string
Muhammad’s eldest daughter, Fatimah
of conquests from Spain to India
this new community and none of the Prophet’s male
heirs had survived infancy. Ali was
enabled the Arabs to link the two major
economic units of the Mediterranean
The polity that Muhammad created subsequently murdered and his son and
and the Indian Ocean and dominate all
was based on the twin concepts of family members perished in the battle
the major maritime and caravan routes.
ummah (the Muslim community of of Karbala. Ali’s followers are called
The Islamic threat became a matter
believers) and jihad. It had a religious Shi’is, while Muslims who accept the
of concern for Europe, which fought
basis and all its members had to be correctness of the order of succession
nine Crusades between CE 1096 and
Muslims. The ummah has remained and comprise the majority, are known
1291, albeit with no notable success.
a potent reality throughout Muslim as Sunnis. A third group, the Kharijites,
From around CE 1220, the Islamic
history. There has been no occasion rejected both positions and upheld the
world also faced a grave threat from the
when ideas and movements originating right of the Community to elect and,
Mongols who sacked Baghdad in 1258
in one area have not resonated in the if need be, depose its leader. [Over
and ended the Abbasid Caliphate.
rest of the Islamic world. time many other sects also developed
The upsurge of the Turks, however,
Islam incorporated the revered in Islam like the Ismailis, Bahais
culminated in the establishment of the
symbols of the Arabs and distanced (Iran) Ahmadiyahs (India) and “Black
Ottoman Empire. In 1453, Ottoman
itself from Judaism and Christianity, the Muslims” (US)].
Turks wrested the prized city of
two religions it had to contend with in The reign of the Patriarchal Caliphs
Constantinople from the Christians
its homeland. As part of this process, (CE 632-661) was followed by that of
and renamed it Istanbul. The great age
Friday was substituted for Sabbath, the Umayyads (661-750) and Abbasids
of the Ottomans then commenced.
azaan (call to prayer) for trumpets and (750-1258). The seat of the Caliphs
The Ottomans proclaimed a Turkish
gongs, and the direction of prayer shifted under Ali from Medina to
Caliphate and, with it, leadership of the
changed from Jerusalem to Mecca. Kufah. In the time of the Umayyads
Muslim world.
The ancient practice of pilgrimage to it moved to Damascus and under the
From the sixteenth century, Muslim
Kaaba was integrated in the Islamic Abbasids to Baghdad. A new class
control of the Mediterranean-Indian
rituals. Islam was the first attempt in of specially trained white slaves, the
Ocean trade steadily declined. This
Arab history at a social formation based Mamluks (mostly Central Asian Turks),
weakened the Ottoman Empire in its
on religious rather than blood ties. now began to dominate the polity.
encounter with the rising West. In
Scholars have therefore viewed it as a Independent Muslim rulers (sultans)
1688, the Turks had to retreat from the
manifestation of Arab nationalism. emerged in several regions. The Caliphs
gates of Vienna following defeat at the
sanctioned their rule and became titular
hands of the Habsburgs. The events
heads of the Islamic realm.
culminated in the replacement of the
Islamic by the European civilisation as
the dominant world power.

60 April 2014
MOdern Islam The Quran
Since the eighteenth century, Muslim Muslims regard the Quran the true word of God as revealed
thinkers and leaders have tried various to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel over a period of 20
strategies to innaugrate a new era in their years. The authoritative text of the Quran was prepared
history and meet Western challenge. around CE 650 on the basis the revelations that many
Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Muslims had learnt by heart and others had written down.
(1703- 1787), in Saudi Arabia, started the The Quran consists of 114 chapters (Surahs). The first
Wahhabi movement, calling for a return chapter, called the fatihah, is a short prayer. Muslims
to the pristine Islam of the ‘ancestors’ regard the Quran as the final authority on all religious and
(salaf). Al-Wahhab married the daughter of legal matters.
Muhammad ibn Saud, Emir in the Riyadh
region. This alliance of religious and
political leaders strengthened the Wahhabi
movement, which steadily extended its
Sources of Islamic law
influence to other Islamic lands.
Hadith: The records of the sayings of the Prophet are
In the nineteenth century, Jamal al-Din
known as the Hadith. They are ranked, after the Quran, as
al-Afghani (d.1897) and his disciple Shaikh the second major source of Islamic law and guidance. The
Muhammad Abduh of Egypt (d.1905) led most authoritative compilation is the Kitab al-Jami as-Sahih
a vigorous campaign for the ‘purification of by Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (CE 810-870).
Islam.’ Al-Afghani was an advocate of Pan-
Islamism, the political union of all Muslim The Sunnah: The spoken and acted examples of the
countries under the Ottoman Caliphate. Prophet are an important complement to the Quran as a
The British, then a major colonial power, source of Islamic law and practice.
viewed the Caliphate as a threat to the
The Shariah: The canonical law of Islam as stated in
stability of their Muslim possessions. The
the Quran and the Sunnah is known as the Shariah. It is
Caliphate was abolished in 1924 as Turkey elaborated by four schools – the Shafi, Hanbali, Hanafi, and
embarked on the path of modernisation Maliki; along with the Jafari of the Shi’is.
under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In the twentieth century, Maulana Ijma: The doctrine of consensus of the community (ijma)
al-Mawdidi fathered what is now called was introduced in the eighth century to regulate regional
‘Islamic fundamentalism’. The desire to differences of views and practices. It eventually became a
consolidate Islam against Western ideas and conservative mechanism to thwart change in the Islamic
influence has ensured the longevity way of life.
of orthodox revivalism. It has also led to
Ijtihad: This meant ‘to endeavour’ to find legal solutions
the rise of new brotherhoods, which focus
to new problems. However, the acceptance of a definitive
on dissemination activities in Africa, India body of Hadith virtually closed the “gate of ijtihad.”
and Indonesia.
At the same time, ordinary Muslims
have attempted to seek relief from
tyrannical and corrupt rulers, leading The Five Pillars of Islam
to popular upsurges like the Arab Spring
of 2011. The five fundamental observances for Muslims are:

• Profession of the faith by repetition of the shahadah, -


Meenakshi Jain is a former Fellow “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet.”
of Nehru Memorial Museum and
Library, and is currently the associate • Regular performance of the ritual of prayer (salat) five
professor of History at Delhi University. times a day facing the direction (qibla) of Mecca; with
special congregational noon prayers on Friday when a
sermon (khutbah) is delivered by the preacher (khatib).

• Payment of zakat or obligatory tax for the welfare of


poor Muslims.

• Fasting during the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of


the Muslim lunar calendar.

• Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca in the twelfth month of the


123rf.com X6

lunar year at least once in a lifetime for those with


the means and physical capacity. Hajj is a powerful means
of reinforcing the sense of community as Muslims from all
over the world join in common rituals and prayers.
getty
Dolphin intelligence | Science

Ever since Ancient Greece, these marine predators


have been held in high esteem for their friendliness
and intelligence. But are they as clever as we think?
Justin Gregg investigates

M
oments after John Lilly cracked has since shown that the dolphin’s
open the dolphin’s skull, a claim to fame as the smartest non-
bulging pink mass emerged. human isn’t that clear-cut. Crows,
Instantly he knew he’d made an octopuses, even insects have all
important discovery. This animal’s demonstrated feats of brain power to
brain was huge: even bigger than a rival the dolphin, and they don’t pos-
human brain. The year was 1955, and sess nearly as much grey matter.
after examining the freshly harvested So are dolphins really as smart as
brains of half a dozen bottlenose we think?
dolphins, Lilly, a neuroanatomist,
concluded that these fish-shaped The EQ test
aquatic mammals must possess an The Encephalization Quotient (EQ) is
intelligence to rival our own. a measure of how large an animal’s
When Lilly made his discovery, brain is compared to what we’d ex-
the link between intelligence and pect to see for its body size. Accord-
brain size seemed simple: the big- ing to some calculations, humans
ger the brain, the smarter the animal. have the largest EQ (7), with brains
Humans, with our enormous brains seven times larger than you’d expect
stuffed into our swollen craniums, for our bodies. Dolphins are in the
were obviously the smartest species, number two spot, with species like
so it followed that dolphins must also the rough-toothed dolphin having an
be pretty darned clever. But research EQ of about 5.

April 2014 63
Science | Dolphin intelligence

But when attempting to match EQ ratings


to intelligent behaviour in animals, results
are mixed. Large EQs correlate with the
“Simply having a big
ability to cope with novel environments or
the production of diverse behaviour, but not brain is no guarantee
with tool use or imitative ability. To further
muddy the picture, the calculation of EQ that an animal will
itself has come under criticism in recent
years. Depending on the data that’s fed
into the model, humans have normal-sized
display intelligence”
brains for our bodies, whereas gorillas and Dr John E Bradford, president of
orangutans have abnormally large bodies for SpaceWorks Engineering
their standard-sized brains.

Grey matter of their skull, leaving the front of their brain


Simply having a big brain – or a large EQ oddly concave. And since magpies, which can
– is by no means a guarantee that an animal also recognise themselves in mirrors, don’t
will display intelligence. But it wasn’t just have a cortex at all, we’re still left scratching
brain size that intrigued Lilly. Inside the our heads as to which parts of dolphins’
dolphin skull he found an outer layer of and magpies’ brains are involved in self-
brain tissues that, much like the human recognition. Maybe, like magpies, dolphins
brain, was folded in on itself, like crumpled rely on non-cortical structures to recognise
paper stuffed into a thimble. themselves in mirrors. What exactly the
This outer layer of the mammalian brain, dolphin cortex is doing and why it’s so large
called the cortex, is involved in complex is an unsolved mystery.
cognition in humans, including our language
skills and self-awareness. As it turns out, the Name that whistle
dolphin cortex is larger than the human This isn’t the only enigma surrounding
cortex. So what might this mean? dolphin intelligence. Over the years the
Many species that pass tests for self- debate about how dolphins’ brains relate to
awareness (like the mirror self-recognition their behaviour has been so exasperating
test) have a relatively large cortical structure that marine mammal expert Lance Barrett-
in the front of their heads. It’s this ‘frontal Lennard was forced to conclude that “a
cortex’ that is likely responsible for the dolphin could have a brain the size of a
mirror self-recognition skills of chimpanzees, walnut and it wouldn’t affect the observations
In this experiment at Hawaii’s Dolphin Institute, gorillas, and elephants. Dolphins pass this that they live very complex and social lives.”
dolphins demonstrated an ability to remember test too. But therein lies the rub: dolphins Although Lilly might have objected to
which of two shapes they’d been shown previously, don’t have a frontal cortex. Their oversized the walnut comment, the idea of dolphins
indicating their choice by hitting a paddle cortex is squished into areas around the sides as socially complex beings is a sentiment

the eq factor The relationship between body and brain size can
indicate some (but not all) forms of intelligence
photo: science photo library x3, getty x2

The Encephalization
Quotient (EQ) is a measure
of how large an animal’s
brain is compared to what
you’d expect for its body
size. A cat has an EQ of 1:
its brain is exactly the size 1.8
you’d expect to see given 1.3
1.0 1.2
its body size. Humans have 0.9
brains that are almost eight 0.5
times larger than you’d
expect for our body size. Mouse Horse Cat Dog African elephant Gorilla

64 April 2014
What is intelligence?
Is it really possible to compare the cognitive
abilities of completely different species?
DOLPHIN BRAIN HUMAN BRAIN
Most scientists studying animal produce and understand language.
Larger than human brains, dolphin brains also
behaviour don’t like We’ve learned a lot about dolphin
have a larger cortex, although in dolphins
to offer a definition of intelligence. cognition by testing their ability to
the cortical ‘grey matter’ is at the sides of the
We simply cannot reduce the use symbols in the lab, but focusing
brain rather than at the front
diversity of animal cognitive skills to too much on factors like symbol use
a single standard that allows us to – which is so important to human
compare different species. If intelligence – does not tell us much
with which he would have agreed. While pressed, some scientists will cite about the kind of cognition that is
performing rather unpleasant invasive the ability to produce flexible, likely to be relevant to dolphins.
experiments on the brains of living dolphins, adaptive behaviour in the face of Their own cognitive worlds have
he noted that the dolphins would often novel problems as the mark of developed to cope with the complex
call out to each other (using whistles), and intelligence. But ask the general nature of their unique societies, and
would seek comfort from one another. He public about animal behaviour that rely on sensory-perceptual systems
believed that this was evidence that dolphins could be seen as intelligent, and we like echolocation; something
were both socially complex animals, and that name properties that do not fit this completely foreign to humans.
their communication system might be as narrow definition: things like self- In order to answer the question
complex as human language. awareness, having complex of how intelligent dolphins might be,
Fifty years later, there is evidence to emotions, understanding language, we should try to learn how their
suggest that Lilly was not too far off the tool use, the ability to count or minds evolved to solve dolphin –
mark. In experiments, dolphins perform playful behaviour. not human – challenges.
nearly as well as the great apes when it There is one factor that
comes to understanding the meaning all of these things have in common:
of symbols, and how these symbols they are all cognitive and
can be combined to create sentences. behavioural skills at which humans
While attempts to establish two-way excel. This human-centric view of
communication with dolphins have not intelligence has long been used to
been as successful as similar work with apes, evaluate the intelligence of other
their ability to comprehend symbols in the species. In trying to figure out if
lab is remarkable. dolphins are intelligent animals,
Lilly’s suggestion that dolphins possess a early researchers spent decades
communication system as sophisticated as trying to teach them to both
our own, however, is probably not correct.

7.8

4
5.3
4.8 3

2.1 2.5
1

Rhesus monkey Chimpanzee White-fronted capuchin Bottlenose dolphin Human


CLEVER
Corvids
Crows aren’t as bird-brained
as you might think…

When it comes to intelligence, corvids


– the crow family – give dolphins a run
for their money, with a number of
species proving adept at skills that Unlike great apes,
have traditionally only been seen in dolphins understand
primates and dolphins. pointing gestures
New Caledonian Crows have been made by humans
observed using and manufacturing
tools in the wild, tearing leaves off
branches and forming them into
hooked probes to retrieve hard-to- “Navigating a social world filled with political
reach food items. Jackdaws can use
human gaze and pointing to locate a
reward. In captivity Western Scrub
intrigue requires serious brainpower”
Jays appear to plan their behaviour,
caching their favourite foods To be fair, scientists understand next to there is no evidence that dolphins fully
strategically so they’ll always be able nothing about how dolphin communication understand the inner thoughts and beliefs of
to access them regardless of which works. They have, however, discovered that others (something called theory of mind),
enclosure they’re kept in for the night. dolphins possess a skill that is otherwise dolphins do point with their heads to direct
Crows remember the faces of unknown in the animal kingdom – except humans’ attention towards objects they want
humans that have bothered them in for among humans. In some dolphin species, them to look at.
the past, and this information is each individual has its own signature whistle Having some awareness of their own –
passed on to others in the group, that it will use throughout its life, and that and of others’ – thought processes is perhaps
resulting in crows who’ve had no might serve as a ‘name’. what allows dolphins to devise solutions
contact with the threatening human We know that dolphins can remember to complex problems, as they have done
attacking them out of the blue. the signature whistles of their relatives and in experimental settings. In the wild, a
Ravens, like dolphins, live in complex playmates, even whistles that they’ve not female Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin was
societies and might be one of the only heard in over 20 years. And recent research observed removing the cuttlebone from
species that uses gestures (with their suggests that dolphins also respond when a cuttlefish to make it easier to eat – a
beaks) to direct each other’s focus of hearing their own signature whistle, which long process that would have required
attention. In the lab, ravens appear to means it’s possible that dolphins call each some planning.
use logic in order to solve puzzles other by name on occasion. Hunting can be similarly ingenious.
involving pulling a series of strings Although Lilly could not have known it at Wild bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay,
to retrieve a food reward. the time, he might well have been witnessing Australia use marine sponges as tools to
this very behaviour during his experiments flush out fish, a skill that is passed down
half a century ago. through the generations. A number of
dolphin populations appear to learn hunting
Thinking outside the box: a Dolphin learning techniques from their peers, with bottlenose
New Caledonian Crow uses If dolphins are trying to get each other’s dolphins stranding themselves as a group on
a stick to try and find food
attention by calling each other’s names, it the mudflats of South Carolina in order to
might mean that they have some awareness trap fish, and orcas teaming up to produce
of the minds of others around them. waves to wash seals off ice floes in Antarctica.
Unlike most great apes, dolphins seem to This social learning is integral to the idea
be able to spontaneously understand the of culture in animals, defined as knowledge
human pointing gesture. This suggests they passed on from animal to animal. It’s perhaps
might attribute mental states like seeing or the best explanation as to how young orcas
intending to the pointing humans. How an can learn their family’s dialect.
animal that has no arms can understand a There is one hypothesis as to why
human pointing is a real mystery. And while dolphins have big brains that might yet
Dolphin intelligence | Science

neurones by numbers
= 10 million
cortical neurones
Horse
1,200 million
Cells in the brain that transmit nerve impulses
are called neurones, and we have more of
them in an area called the cortex than any White-fronted
other animal. The jury is still out, however, capuchin
as to how this relates to intelligence. 610 million

Human Rhesus monkey


11,500 million 480 million

African elephant Cat


11,000 million 300 million

Chimpanzee Dog
6,200 million 160 million

Bottlenose dolphin Rat


5,800 million 15 million

Gorilla Mouse
4,800 million 4 million

vindicate Lilly’s original ideas, and it involves a soap opera plotline. Navigating a world social learning, including predator defence
the kind of social intelligence that makes filled with political intrigue requires serious and foraging. And ants display a behaviour
problem-solving, culture and self-awareness brainpower in order to remember who owes called tandem running that is perhaps
possible. Many dolphin species live in you a favour and which friends you can rely the best example of teaching in any non-
complex societies, with the intricate and on. The leading theory as to why dolphin human animal.
ever-changing social alliances between male brains grew so large is that extra cognitive Lars Chittka, a scientist studying insect
dolphin groups in Shark Bay resembling muscle was required to keep track of these behaviour and a staunch proponent of the
tricky social relationships, something called idea that small-brained insects are far more
the social brain hypothesis. intelligent than we give them credit for, asks,
“If these insects can do these things with
Brainy beasts such little brains, what does anything need a
This might explain why other species that big brain for?”
live complicated social lives also have big-ish The more we understand about
brains (like chimpanzees, ravens and humans). neurobiology, the more we realise that the
But don’t write off those small-brained, tiny link between brain size and intelligence is
EQ species quite yet. Much of the complex a tenuous one at best. Although there is no
behaviour we observe in dolphins is also doubt that dolphins display a rich tapestry
seen in species that do not live in complex of intelligent behaviour, just what the
social groups. Chaser the border collie knows oversized walnut is doing inside that
over 1000 symbols representing objects – a dolphin skull is a bigger mystery now than
‘vocabulary’ that dwarfs that of the dolphins it has ever been.
or great apes tested under similar conditions.
Octopuses use coconut shells as tools to
Justin Gregg is a researcher at the Dolphin
protect themselves from predators. Goats Communication Project, and the author of
Australian bottlenose dolphins use sponges to can follow the human pointing gesture. Are Dolphins Really Smart?
protect their noses while hunting for fish Fish are able to acquire a long list of skills via

April 2014 67
history | border wars

1
5
3

4
2

india’s

Border
wars
Moshita Prajapati looks at the wars independent
India’s fought to defend its borders
sameer pawar

Date Location Combatants Outcome

68 April 2014
Indo–Pak The Sino-Indian Indo–Pak Indo–Pak
War of 1947 War of 1962 War of 1965 War of 1971
1 Kashmir 2 Aksai Chin and North East 3 Kashmir 4 East Pakistan, India – West Pakistan
Frontier Agency border, the Line of Control, Arabian Sea,
and Bay of Bengal
22 October 1947 – 1 January 1948 20 October 1962 – 21 November 5 August 1965 – 23 September 1965
(2 months, 1 week, and 3 days) 1962 (1 month, and 1 day) (1 month, 2 weeks, and 4 days)
3 - 16 December 1971 (13 days)
Dominion of India, and Jammu
and Kashmir against Dominion of India against China India against Pakistan
Pakistan, The Furqan Force, and India, and Provisional Government of
Tribla Militias Bangladesh against Pakistan

An insurgent attack by tribal militia forces in This war was triggered by multiple points of Pakistan launched and executed Operation
Kashmir led to the first of the three wars fought disputes - The Tibetan Uprising of 1959 and Gibraltar, a covert operation to initiate a Operation Searchlight was a planned
between India and Pakistan over the state the welcome given to 14th Dalai Lama by India, rebellion against India’s rule in the disputed military operation launched by Pakistani
of Jammu & Kashmir. Maharaja Hari Singh, which irked the Chinese government. Following Indian administered state of Jammu & Kashmir. Army in the region of East Pakistan to
then ruler of the state, appealed to India for these, border conflicts were recorded along While the operation wasn’t successful, it did curb the Bengali nationalist movement
assistance in suppressing the rebellion. India the Himalayan border. In a bid to avert war, lead to a significant military engagement on 26 March 1971. India entered the
agreed to, but only if he signed the Instrument India initiated the Forward Policy. This act of between the nations. Indian forces crossed the battleground only after the Pakistani army
of Accession to the Union of India, which he diplomacy failed as the Chinese army launched international border and entered Lahore, with in a preemptive strike, bombarded India’s
did (this is again debatable), which would a military attack simultaneously in Ladakh the armed, air, and naval forces called in for airbases, and radar equipment on the
accede the now dissolved princely state into and across the MacMohan Line. India woefully further support. eastern seaboard. While this military attack
India. War was declared and the two armed under prepared suffered substantial damages. failed, India formally entered the
forces marched to the border fronts, which The war ended after a month, only when China war on 3 December backed by then
Following the UN mandated PM Indira Gandhi.
eventually would serve as the de facto border declared ceasefire. ceasefire the war was called off. The
(Line of Control) between the nations. governments of India and Pakistan
met at Tashkent and signed the The independent nation of
A ceasefire was announced at Aksai Chin is completely Tashkent Declaration committing Bangladesh is formed.
midnight of 1 January 1949 as under the control of China. them to solve their disputes in a
mandated by the United Nations. peaceful manner. Both countries also
Pakistan conquered 35 per cent of withdrew their forces to positions
Kashmir (Azad Kashmir and Gilgit- they held before the war.
Baltistan) and India gained control of
Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh.

Kargil War

5 Kargil District, Kashmir

3 May 1999 - 26 July 1999


(2 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days)

India against Pakistan

After a relatively quiet period between the warring


neighbours, barring few border skirmishes and
conflicts, war erupted again. Pakistani backed forces 4
and Kashmiri militants in a covert plan hatched by Gen
Pervez Musharraf, infiltrated into Indian administered
Kashmir. They occupied the posts held by the Indian
army in the region of Kargil. Indian forces retaliated
by launching air strikes, about 30,000 thousand shells
were fired daily. Operation Vijay was executed, where
armed forces battled to regain control of Kargil sector
from the infiltrators.

Under military pressure from India, and


diplomatic pressure from the international
community, Pakistani forces retreated and
India regained control of its occupied territory.
Science | How do we know

How Do We Know?

the Structure of the


periodic table
By Andrew Robinson
The periodic table is familiar in classrooms all over the world, but
it took a century of scientific endeavour to be fully realised

T
the great physicist Ernest The concept of an element goes back themselves in attempting to transform
Rutherford is famously reported to the ancient Greek philosophers. the naturally occurring ‘base’ metals,
to have said, “All science is They recognised just four terrestrial such as iron and lead, into the ‘noble’
either physics or stamp collecting”, to elements: earth, water, air and fire. metals, gold and silver, without
the irritation of subsequent These corresponded with the shapes success. In the scornful words of the
generations of scientists who were not of the four Platonic solids known influential natural philosopher Francis
physicists. Yet when Rutherford was to mathematicians: the cube, the Bacon, writing in the 1620s: “All
awarded a Nobel prize in 1908 for a icosahedron, the octahedron and the philosophy of nature, which is
physics experiment, the prize was the tetrahedron. Thus, the liquidity now received is either the philosophy
given for chemistry. Rutherford took of water was thought to parallel of the Grecians, or the other of the
it with good humour, referring to the relatively smooth shape of the alchemists. The one never faileth to
his “instant transmutation from physicist 20-faced icosahedron, while the multiply words, and the other ever
to chemist”. pain caused by touching fire was faileth to multiply gold.”
Rutherford played a key part in explained by the sharp corners of the
developing a periodic law governing tetrahedron. When a fifth Platonic Modern matter
the chemical elements in the 20th solid, the 12-faced dodecahedron, was The modern concept of the chemical
Century, and our understanding later discovered, Aristotle proposed element began to emerge only in
of elements today is down to both the existence of a fifth element. It was the late 18th Century with the work
chemistry and physics. The law was ‘quintessence’, the celestial aether. of the French chemist, Antoine-
discovered 145 years ago this month, Of course, some of the 90 or so Laurent de Lavoisier. He is generally
in February 1869, by Dmitri naturally occurring substances we regarded as the founder of modern
Mendeleev and other chemists. recognise today as elements have chemistry from the 1770s until his
Although he’s regarded as a chemist, been known since antiquity or even death under the guillotine in 1794.
science photo library

Mendeleev spent almost no time earlier – for example, carbon, copper, Using quantitative experiments,
searching for the elements in gold, iron, lead, mercury, silver, Lavoisier defined an element
his laboratory. tin and sulphur. These substances empirically as a material substance
What constitutes a chemical were found in an uncombined form that was yet to be decomposed into
element has long been debated, and or were easily separable from the any more fundamental substances.
is still unresolved to some extent. minerals in which they occurred. For In 1789, the year of the French
many centuries, alchemists occupied Revolution, Lavoisier published his

70 April 2014
There are currently 118
known elements, but not
> IN a nutshell
all of them occur naturally Two millennia after the Ancient Greeks wrongly
classified the four elements as fire, water, wind
and earth, Dmitri Mendeleev uncovered underlying
patterns in nature – leading to one of the most
powerful tools in science.
Science | How do we know

Elementary Treatise On Chemistry, in relative atomic weights (see ‘Need had the respective atomic weights 7,
which he listed 33 simple substances to know’, p75) of several important 23 and 39. Sodium’s atomic weight
or elements. Many of these are elements by analysing simple chemical must therefore lie midway between
accepted as elements today – the compounds. Water appeared to be that of lithium and potassium. (7 +
gases hydrogen and oxygen and about one-eighth hydrogen and 39 = 46; 46 ÷ 2 = 23.) The same
the metals known since antiquity seven-eighths oxygen by weight. This relationship held for the alkaline-
plus manganese, molybdenum and led Dalton to assign an atomic weight earth metals calcium, strontium and
tungsten, and the non-metals carbon, of 1 to hydrogen and 7 to oxygen, by barium, and for the halogens chlorine,
sulphur and phosphorus. But other assuming water’s molecular formula bromine and iodine. Between 1827
supposed chemical elements in to be HO. Although Lavoisier’s and 1858, other chemists extended
Lavoisier’s list included lime and measured proportions were somewhat Döbereiner’s observations beyond
baryta, which are now known to inaccurate, and Dalton’s molecular these triads by adding magnesium to
be chemical compounds, and light formula in this particular case was the alkaline-earth metals and fluorine
and heat, which belong in physics, erroneous (as everyone now knows), to the halogens. Oxygen, sulphur,
not chemistry. However, Lavoisier his approach was sound. The relative selenium and tellurium were classified
correctly rejected the ancient Greek atomic weights of the elements as a family; nitrogen, phosphorus,
elements of earth, water, fire and air, would prove crucial, after further arsenic, antimony and bismuth as yet
on the grounds that they had been refinement, to the construction of another family.
shown to be composed of more periodic tables in the 1860s.
fundamental substances. A German chemist, Johann Multiple approaches
The next step towards classifying Wolfgang Döbereiner, began the In 1858 an Italian chemist, Stanislao
the elements was taken by an English process. From 1817, over several years Cannizzaro, published a standardised
chemist, John Dalton, around 1803. he noticed that triads of elements list of atomic and molecular weights.
Dalton assumed that each element sharing similar chemical properties He did so by reviving the 1811
consisted of a particular type of also shared a pattern in their atomic hypothesis of his compatriot, chemist-
atom – an indivisible entity. Using weights. For instance, the alkali cum-physicist Amedeo Avogadro,
Lavoisier’s data, Dalton estimated the metals lithium, sodium and potassium concerning gases. Avogadro, unlike

the Key EXPERIMENT


It was the genius of Dmitri Mendeleev that placed the elements in a logical,
periodic table, arranging them by atomic weight and subsequently spotting
similar chemical properties
science & Society x2, Science photo library, getty, corbis x2

Dmitri Mendeleev’s early periodic


table, devised in 1869, categorised
the known elements in order of
Dmitri Mendeleev may have atomic weight (small numbers).
arranged the elements like a game Scandium (bottom row) was
of solitaire to create his famous table discovered as the missing element
in the table in 1879

The periodic table struck Mendeleev while he was writing an immensely he used two classifying tools simultaneously. He wrote out the elements in rows
successful textbook. In January 1869, he completed volume one. However, it by increasing atomic weight, thereby spotting periodic repetitions of chemical
discussed only eight out of the 63 known elements. Volume two, he knew, properties. And he listed several ‘natural groups’, like alkali metals and halogens,
required a less rambling structure to fit the publisher’s format and deadline. So, in columns, thereby spotting patterns of increasing atomic weight.
on 17 February 1869, (1 March in the Gregorian calendar), he concentrated on This generated what he called his ‘first try’ (see above). The missing element
shuffling the elements, both on paper and in his mind. Indeed he may have was Sc, scandium — unknown in 1869 but discovered in 1879, with an atomic
played a form of solitaire (patience) with ‘element’ cards. Virtually certain is that weight of 45.

72 April 2014
Dalton, had guessed that gases such as
hydrogen and oxygen were composed
of molecules, which were themselves
cast of characters The greatest scientific minds of the past two
centuries unlocked the order of the elements
composed of atoms. This meant
that the molecular weight of the gas John Dalton
(1766-1844), the son of a
must be different from the atomic
poor country weaver and the
weight of its constituent element.
father of the modern atomic
The molecular weight depends on
theory, was a schoolmaster
how many atoms of the element are in Manchester. He
contained in the molecule: two atoms controversially maintained
in the case of oxygen. Cannizzaro’s that the chemical elements
analysis formed the basis for discussion were composed of atoms,
at the first international congress of and in 1803 compiled a list
chemists, held in Karlsruhe, Germany, of relative atomic weights
in 1860. Johann Wolfgang covering some of the most
Among those attending were Döbereiner (1780-1849) important known elements.
Dmitri Mendeleev from Russia, was a German chemist who
Julius Lothar Meyer from Germany started as an apothecary’s
and William Odling from Great apprentice. He became a
professor at the University
Britain. All three chemists, along
of Jena, where his lectures
with two others, John Newlands
were attended by his
and Gustavus Hinrichs and a French
lifelong friend Goethe. In
geologist, Alexandre-Émile Béguyer 1817, he spotted a pattern
de Chancourtois, proposed different in the atomic weights of
versions of the periodic table triads of elements with
during the 1860s. They investigated Dmitri Mendeleev
similar chemical properties.
patterns in atomic weights, chemical (1834-1907), the leading
properties and, in the case of Russian scientist, was the
Hinrichs, atomic spectra of the 63 youngest of 14 children.
He lost both parents in his
elements known at this time.
teens but managed to obtain
Mendeleev’s proposal, which
some scientific training in St
occurred to him while writing a
Petersburg and then went to
Russian chemistry textbook, was Germany, before returning to
the last of these six. It was published Russia. By analysing atomic
in draft form in 1869 and more weights and chemical
fully in 1871, although it appears properties, he devised his
not to have been influenced by periodic table in 1869.
the five earlier proposals. All the
proposals had considerable merit, but Ernest Rutherford
only Mendeleev’s would become (1871-1937) is probably
the greatest modern
established. The main reason it
physicist after Einstein.
succeeded was that in 1869-71
Born in New Zealand,
Mendeleev had made a number
he carried out most of
of predictions of the existence of his research in Britain,
unknown elements. He labelled them at Manchester and Henry Moseley (1887-1915)
with the Sanskrit word, eka, meaning Cambridge, where he was an English physicist.
‘one’. They included eka-aluminium, directed the Cavendish After training under
eka-boron and eka-silicon, which Laboratory. This work Rutherford at Manchester, he
he predicted would have the atomic included revealing the returned to Oxford University
weights 68, 44 and 72, respectively. structure of the atomic in 1913 for research work.
The first of them was discovered in nucleus, which There he discovered the key
1875 and named gallium (atomic led to the concept of relationship between an
weight 69.7), the second in 1879 atomic number. element’s atomic number
and named scandium (atomic weight and its chemical behaviour.
45.0), the third in 1886 and named He was killed by a sniper’s
germanium (atomic weight 72.6). bullet at Gallipoli, during the
Moreover, Mendeleev predicted First World War.
almost all of the chemical properties
Science | How do we know

of the new elements correctly.


They make up the Universe, but it’s taken nearly a
timeline century to discover and categorise the elements
Not all his predictions were so
successful. Well before his death in
1907, new discoveries challenged his
theory. In fact, current versions of the
In triads of chemically periodic table ignore three cardinal
similar elements, such as principles dear to Mendeleev: the
chlorine, bromine (pictured) valency, the indivisibility, and the
and iodine, Wolfgang immutability of the atom.

1817
Döbereiner observes the The valency is the number of
second element’s atomic
chemical bonds an atom can form
weight to lie midway
with other atoms. The noble (inert)
between that of the first
gases helium, neon, argon, krypton,
and third elements.
radon and xenon – discovered in
the 1890s by the chemist William
Atomic weights are Ramsay and the physicist Lord
standardised by Stanislao Rayleigh – appeared totally
Cannizzaro, using Amedeo unreactive, with a ‘forbidden’ valency
1858 Avogadro’s 1811 hypothesis,
that equal volumes of any
of zero. Today, we know some do
form a few chemical compounds. The
gas at the same temperature discovery of the electron in 1897 by
and pressure contain equal the physicist JJ Thomson disproved
numbers of molecules. indivisibility – the atom plainly had
an inner structure. And radioactivity,
discovered by the physicist Henri
After partially successful attempts by Becquerel in 1896 and named by the

1869
several chemists to detect periodicity physicists-cum-chemists Marie and
in the atomic weights of the elements, Pierre Curie in 1898, showed that
Dmitri Mendeleev, while writing a transmutation of elements does occur.
textbook, introduces the basis of a Elements like uranium, polonium and
successful periodic table. radium all undergo radioactive decay.

By the numbers
1875 Gallium, the first of three
hitherto unknown chemical
Most serious of all the objections,
though, was Mendeleev’s unyielding
science photo library x2, Science & Society, alamy, thinkstock, corbis

elements predicted by reliance on increasing atomic weight


Mendeleev from his periodic as the chief ordering principle of his
table, is discovered by Paul- periodic table. The higher the atomic
Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. weight of an element, the later should
Scandium is discovered in be its position in the periodic table,
1879, germanium in 1886. he maintained. Mendeleev himself
was aware of this difficulty, because
he allowed one or two exceptions
After bombarding gold foil with
to this rule – notably for tellurium,
alpha particles, Ernest Rutherford
which he placed earlier than iodine
1911
and collaborators establish
the nuclear model of the atom.
despite an atomic weight of 127.6
Antonius van den Broek theorises for tellurium versus 126.9 for iodine.
that an element’s nuclear charge He justified this reversal on the
determines its atomic number. grounds that the atomic weights for
one or both of these elements had
been incorrectly determined. But his
By examining elements’ X-ray spectra, Henry reasoning turned out to be wrong.
Moseley demonstrates that nuclear charge While tellurium does indeed have a
and atomic number are connected; chemical higher atomic weight than iodine, its
1913 properties — and hence periodicity — are
determined by this number; and only around
atomic number, 52, is now known to
be smaller than the atomic number of
90 elements occur naturally. iodine, 53.
Atomic number was a concept

74 April 2014
need to know
Terms you’ll need to understand
the periodic table

1 Atomic number
The atomic number of an element
is the number of protons in its atomic nucleus.
Oxygen’s atomic number is 8, gold’s 79. Many
elements occur in more than one form, known as
isotopes, with equal numbers of protons but
different numbers of neutrons. Carbon has two
stable isotopes, carbon-12 (the most common) and
carbon-13, and one radioactive isotope, carbon-14.

2 Atomic weight
Also known as relative atomic mass, the
atomic weight of an element is the ratio of the
average mass of one atom of the element to
one-twelfth the mass of an atom of carbon,
which has an atomic weight of approximately 12.
Oxygen’s atomic weight is 16, gold’s 197.

3 Element
A chemical element, such as oxygen or gold, is
a substance that cannot be resolved into simpler
substances by chemical means. The atoms of a
given element all have the same atomic number.
The atomic number of each element is different. Ernest Rutherford (right) in his laboratory at Cambridge University was awarded the Nobel Prize in
chemistry in 1908 for his work that helped shed light on patterns in the periodic table

unknown to Mendeleev. In some It is atomic number, not atomic the almost-the-same’. Even potassium
19th-Century periodic tables, weight, which is the ordering principle and sodium, nearest neighbours as
elements were simply numbered of the many versions of the modern alkali metals in the periodic table,
according to increasing atomic periodic table. The reason why atomic can behave very differently under the
weight. The concept owes its weight nevertheless remains a good same circumstances: one causing an
existence to physicists, notably the guide to an element’s properties is that explosion, the other not. Alluding
work of Rutherford and Henry increasing atomic weight generally to his own narrow escape from
Moseley in 1911-14. Rutherford parallels increasing atomic number, death in the Holocaust, Levi added:
discovered the atomic nucleus, with because atomic weight is determined “The differences can be small, but
its positively charged protons, around by the protons and the neutrons in they can lead to radically different
which negatively charged electrons the nucleus. As the number of protons consequences, like a railroad’s switch
orbit in a kind of ‘Solar System’. rises through the periodic table so, points”. It’s an appropriate conclusion
Moseley followed a suggestion by as a general rule, does the number to the convoluted history of the most
an economist and amateur physicist, of neutrons. Therefore rising atomic profound discovery in chemistry.
Antonius van den Broek, that number and increasing atomic weight
the number of an element should roughly correspond.
correspond to its nuclear charge, in That said, the physics of the atom Andrew Robinson is the editor of
The Scientists: An Epic Of Discovery
other words to its number of protons. will never completely predict its
and the author of The Story Of
By measuring the wavelengths of chemical behaviour as an element. Measurement.
characteristic X-ray spectral lines In the words of The Periodic Table, a
of many elements, Moseley showed celebrated collection of short stories find out more
that the wavelengths depended in by Primo Levi, the Italian-Jewish View an interactive periodic table, compiled by
a regular way on the element’s chemist who evaded being gassed at the Royal Society of Chemistry
atomic number. Auschwitz in 1944, ‘one must distrust E www.rsc.org/periodic-table
History | ye olde travel guide

Historical Holidays: guidebooks from the past

Madrid
1621
Jules Stewart invites visitors to
Europe’s literary and arts capital,
home to a new king, afternoon
bullfights and the ultimate nightlife

When to go a small pouch of reales can be useful for


Madrid’s climate has turned quite extreme shopping at the handicraft and tailors’ stalls
since 1561, the year when thousands of clustered around the city’s Plaza Mayor.
acres of woodlands were felled to provide Madrid lies at the crossroads of the
timber and firewood for the court, which Iberian trade routes, so expect to find
had just been moved from Toledo. bargains in almost everything: from Toledo
Travellers should heed the Madrid swords and dried salt cod from the Basque
proverb:‘Nine months of winter and three Country, to flagons of fine wine from
months of hell.’ Spring is usually the best Rioja and embroidered lace mantillas (a
time to visit; if you go in May, you’ll be veil or shawl) from Andalusia.
in time to catch the best bullfights of
the season. Sights and activities
Madrileños are a theatre-mad lot, and even
What to take with you the young King Felipe IV, who has
At 2000 feet above sea level, Madrid is just this year ascended the throne of
Europe’s highest capital city.While the Spain, is given to late-night escapades
abundance of sunlight is a source of in disguise, frequenting the city’s outdoor
energy for keeping up with late-night theatres to see, among others,
Madrileños (those from Madrid), it is not Félix Lope de Vega’s celebrated
without its perils, so stay in the shade. play Fuenteovejuna.
Sensible footwear is another must and, Culture vultures could not choose a
given the almost total absence of paved better time to visit the city. Basking in the
streets, a pair of knee-length cavalry boots splendour of a ‘golden age’, Madrid is
will come in handy. Camillo Borghese, the Europe’s literary and arts capital.
former papal nuncio, points out to visitors Miguel de Cervantes’ second volume Dangers and annoyances
bridgeman art library / illustrated map: www.jontyclark.com

that Madrid’s houses are almost all made of Don Quixote is already on sale in the Madrid is a far safer place today than was
of mud and timber, and have neither bookshops, Francisco de Quevedo the case a few years ago, when street
doorsteps nor water closets. Keep an ear and Luis de Góngora are slugging it brawling and general riotous behaviour
open for shouts of ‘Agua va!’, the cry that out in their satirical sonnets and Diego was so out of hand that the authorities
precedes the emptying of chamber pots Velázquez’s recently completed banned innkeepers from providing chairs
into the street. masterpiece, The Adoration of the Magi, and tables in their establishments, and
hangs in the Royal Alcázar Palace. prohibited patrons from consuming food
Costs and money The new Plaza Mayor offers a brought in from outside.The rationale was
The official currency is the Spanish gold venuefor afternoon bullfights and to discourage people from spending
ducat. Silver is accepted in most places and jousting tournaments. excessive time in these watering holes.
Visitors no longer run the risk of being
served wine diluted with water, for as part

Felipe IV, who has just this year of the general crackdown anyone
convicted of selling adulterated wine

ascended the throne, is given to receives a hundred lashes.

late-night escapades in disguise


Sleeping/accommodation
Madrid suffers from a lack of tourist
Madrid today
With no risk of falling dung for today’s
tourists, a visit to Madrid is irresistible. Still
Spain’s capital, Madrid has retained its own
identity, a sense of centrality and solidity.
As in 1621, the altitude and location
ensure that the climate is extreme, cold
enough to require heaters to be installed in
the upper tiers of Real Madrid’s Bernabeu
Stadium for chilly night matches, and hot
enough to go into shutdown during July and
August. Don’t despair if you’re here in high
summer, or if you feel the need to seek shade
on hot afternoons – this is the best time to hit
the Prado gallery or retire to the Retiro Park
for a picnic and a doze.
Visitors will need their energy: Madrid is
one of the world’s greatest destinations once
the sun goes down. There are districts for
every mood and orientation, all getting started
late and finishing in the small hours. Most
visitors will settle for a tapas bar or two and
a taste of the atmosphere – just stray a little
into Huertas, for example, a short walk from
the main tourist centre around Puerto del Sol,
to get a flavour of things.

If you like this…


For another wonderful Spanish-speaking
capital, try Buenos Aires, Argentina. Another
Iberian hotspot mixing history by day with
late-night fun is Lisbon, Portugal.

Diego Velázquez’s Adoration


of the Magi, 1619. The
painting now hangs in
Madrid’s Prado Museum
accommodation. However, there is a if you turn up for dinner before 10pm.
scattering of inns near the Moorish The vast majority of these inns are frequented
Quarter, such as the Posada del León de by a smattering of civil servants and honest wage
Oro and the Posada del Dragón, offering earners, but at night they are a haunt for
unheated and open-plan sleeping facilities. swashbuckling soldiers, freshly returned from
These places are not for the faint-hearted fighting Dutch insurrectionists in Flanders.
and tend to be rather insalubrious. It’s a
good idea to sleep with your shoes tied Getting around
round your neck. Madrid is highly walkable, and it is only a short
stroll from the central Puerta del Sol to any of
Eating and drinking the city’s major attractions. However, the town
You’ll need a lot of energy to cope with hall has yet to post street signs or house numbers
Madrid’s hectic nightlife.The city boasts on the buildings so an oil lantern is vital for
more taverns between Plaza Tirso de getting around after dark.
Molina and Plaza Santa Ana than in all of
Norway. Try the roast suckling pig, a
Jules Stewart is a freelance journalist
Castilian speciality, at one of the taverns in and author. His latest book, Madrid: The
the winding streets adjacent to the Puerta History, is published by IB Taurus.
del Sol. Be warned: you will feel very lonely

April 2014 77
history | killed by their own inventions

killed
 Jean-François Pilâtre
de Rozier – Death by Hot Air
De Rozier and his companion Pierre Romain
were not only the first human passengers to fly
a hot-air balloon, but also were the first known
fatalities of an air crash. The world’s first

by their own
untethered balloon flight, manned by them, took
place on 21 November 1783 from the Château
de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne, flying a
distance of 9kms over 25 minutes and landing

inventions
on the outskirts of Paris. On their now final
flight, they attempted to cross the English
Channel on 15 June 1785, when the hot air
balloon suddenly collapsed and crashed from a
height of 1500ft, killing them both.
Fate is a fickle mistress and these great
inventors have the dubious honour
of dying by the very inventions and
discoveries that brought them accolades.
Moshita Prajapati lists the untimely and
unnecessary demise of these scientists

Carl Wilhelm Scheele – Death by Taste


Scheele was a Swedish-German pharmaceutical chemist who is
credited with discovering a number of chemicals, such as oxygen,
manganese, chlorine, and compounds like arsenic acids, hydrogen
fluoride, etc. His untimely death was brought about by his long-
standing habit of either sniffing out or taste testing his discoveries;
he managed to stave off death when he tasted hydrogen cyanide,
an extremely poisonous liquid, also one of his discoveries.
Alas! His peculiar habit was his downfall and he died on 21 May
1786, of what doctors now confirm as mercury poisoning.
wiki x3, 123rf.com, modern mechanix.com

William Bullock – Death by Kick


Bullock’s invention of the web rotary press revolutionised the printing
industry. His invention allowed for a continuous feed of rolls of paper
thereby increasing speed and efficiency. Whilst making adjustments
on one of his machines, Bullock tried to kick a diving belt onto a pulley
when his foot got caught in the machine and was crushed by the
mechanism. His foot developed gangrene and on 12 April 1867, as he
was being operated upon to amputate the foot, he died.

78 April 2014
 Max Valier – Death by Fuel
Valier was a rocketry pioneer, who wanted to realise the
reality of space flight in the 20th Century. He invented
liquid-fueled rocket engines under the patronage of Fritz
von Opel. On 25 January 1930, he successfully tested a car
that was powered by liquid rocket fuel and on 19 April that
year, he executed the first test drive of a rocket car powered
by liquid propulsion. He died not in a crash car, as one
would expect, but sitting by his workbench, when the
alcohol-fueled rocket engine he was devising exploded,
killing him.

 Franz Reichelt – Death by Cloth


Reichelt was an Austrian-born French tailor, who invented a
mix between the modern-day parachute and an overcoat,
which he was confident would allow pilots to safely land
when jumping from damaged planes. Flying high on the
success of the tests he conducted using dummies, he
decided to jump off the first deck of the Eiffel Tower to test
the invention himself. The result: he fell 187ft (57m) to his
death on the icy ground in front of a gathered crowd. If you
aren’t the queasy kind, watch his jump here -
www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_
embedded&v=FBN3xfGrx_U (Death Jump – Franz Reichet)

 Otto Lilienthal –
Death by Flight
Lilienthal was a German aviation
pioneer, who specialised in gliding
flights, earning the moniker of the
Glider King. His inventions without
doubt are seen as important work in
the field of manned aviation before the
Wright Brothers. With over 2000
successful flights under his belt, he
took his final flight on 9 August 1896,
when his glider stalled mid flight and
crashed, resulting in injuries that
eventually led to his death.
history | killed by their own inventions

James Douglas 4th Earl of


Morton – Death by Beheading Thomas Midgley Jr. –
The Earl of Morton was a Regent of King James VI to Death by Suffocation
Scotland. To punish crimes committed against the
Crown, he introduced Maiden, an early form of the Midgley, a mechanical engineer, and celebrated
guillotine, which was an improvement from the chemist is known for creating no-leaded
primitive Hailfax Gibbet guillotine implemented in gasoline (fuel), and the greenhouse gas Freon
England. Accused by his peers of his part in the murder (CFC’s). But his death wasn’t caused by either
of Lord Darnley, the King Consort of Scotland, he was of these products. After contacting polio and
executed on 2 June 1581, by the very guillotine he suffering from lead poisoning, he was confined
introduced, having been “impressed by its clean work.” to his bed. To help in ease of movements for
his limbs, he invented a rope and pulley system
attached to his bed. And on 2 November 1944,
as is with the fate of all scientists in this
article, he got entangled in the ropes and died
 Marie Curie – Death by Radiation as a result of suffocation.
Two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie is credited with the
discovery of two highly radioactive elements; radium and
polonium. Curie always carried around isotopes of the
elements in test tubes in her pocket, and had them stored in Horace Lawson Hunley –
her desk drawer, remarking on the faint light they gave off.
After spending all her time studying the elements, without the
Death by Water
safety procedures required today when exposed to radioactive Hunley, a marine engineer helped and designed
elements, Curie eventually succumbed to aplastic anemia, a three hand-powered submarines for the
condition caused due to exposure to radiation, on 4 July 1934. Confederacy Government during America’s Civil
Because of the high levels of radioactivity, her papers from War. Though the safety record of his submarines
1890s are kept in lead-lined boxes and individuals must wear was questionable, they played a large role in naval
protective gloves if they wish to consult them. warfare. While his first and second submarine sank
as part of collateral damage, the third submarine
named H. L. Hunley, which has the distinction of
being the first combat ship to sink an enemy
warship, sank during a routine exercise
commanded by Hunley, along with a crew of seven.
wiki, 123rf.com

80 April 2014
buzz
Quark 2014
A snippet on what we are upto

This year BBC Knowledge participated as the knowledge


partner for Quark, Techno Management Fest, organised by Birla
Institute of Technology and Science at BITS Goa Campus,
Goa from 7-9 February 2014. The
three day festival showcased an
array of original concepts towards
innovative and effective design
in multiple categories broadly
based on Core Engineering, Pure
Sciences and Business. BBC
Knowledge also partnered with
the Quark National Quiz where
it witnessed an overwhelming
number of participants, and the
Goa Institute of Management
emerged as the winner.
inside the pages An excerpt from a book you should read

Thought Summar
prov y:
facts, The oking and full of s
G re a t Speech urpris ing
India, exe es
test of tim mplies that word of Modern
e s
Jinnah's . The selection of stand the
parliame o pe n in g speech
nt, nathu speech for Pakis es;
in court e ram tan
xplaining Godse's stateme i
to Manm w hy he sh nt
Finance M ohan Singh's first ot Gandhi
inister in speech a
India '91, wh s
global ec 's economy to be ich allowed
o
passiona nomic reforms, a in tune with
te effusio ll capture
the grow n
th and sh of orators that le the
aping of
modern In d to
dia.

Ramchandra Guha,
historian and author says,
“This is an absorbing and
richly educative book.
Ranging from Nehru
to Vajpayee and from
Tagore to Vikram Seth, the
speechmakers represented
here cover all shades
of social and political
opinion. Guided by a sure
editorial hand, they take
us evocatively through
the highs and lows of our
modern history.”

82 April 2014
History

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her speech explains that to safeguard the security of India from
internal disturbance an emergency is imposed.

Proclamation of emergency following the verdict. But she chose to heed the advice of her
(New Delhi, June 1975) youngest son, Sanjay Gandhi and the chief minister of West
Bengal, Siddhartha Sankar Ray. On June 25, Ray helped her
INDIRA GANDHI (1917-1984) draft an ordinance declaring a state of internal emergency.
June 12, 1975, as the historian Ramchandra Guha has noted, The President, Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed signed it without any
was a bad day for Indira Gandhi. Early in the morning, she protest. Armed with the ordinance, Indira Gandhi switched
was informed that her old associate D. P. Dhar had died. off the power supply to all Delhi’s newspaper offices so that
Later in the morning came news that Congress was taking a there would be no issue the next day. At 6 o’clock in the
beating in the polls in Gujarat. And then came the judgement morning of June 26, a meeting of the union cabinet was
from the Allahabad High Court declaring her 1971 election summoned, the members informed of the emergency and
to the Lok Sabha from Rae Bareli null and void for misuse their formal consent obtained. Indira Gandhi proceeded to
of government machinery for election purpose. Many senior the studio of the All India Radio to announce the state of
Congressmen felt that she should step down as prime minister emergency to the nation.

INDIRA GANDHI (1917 – 1984) few are endangering the rights of the vast majority.
The President has proclaimed the emergency. This is nothing to Any situation, which weakens the capacity of the national
panic about. Government to act decisively inside the country, is bound to
I am sure you are all conscious of the deep and widespread encourage dangers from outside.
conspiracy, which has been brewing ever since I began to introduce It is our paramount duty to safeguard
certain progressive measures of benefit to the common man and unity and stability. The nation’s
woman of India. In the name of democracy, it has been sought to integrity demands firm action.
negate the very functioning of democracy. Duly elected governments The threat to internal
have not been allowed to function and in some cases, force has been
used to compel members to resign in order to dissolve lawfully elected
stability also affects
production and prospects The President
assemblies. Agitations have surcharged the atmosphere, leading
to violent incidents. The whole country was shocked at the brutal
of economic improvement.
In the last few months
has proclaimed
murder of my Cabinet colleague, Shri L. N. Mishra. We also
deeply deplore the dastardly attack on the Chief Justice of India.
the determined action we
have taken has succeeded
the emergency.
Certain persons have gone to the length of inciting our armed in largely checking the This is nothing
forces to mutiny and our police to rebel. The fact that our defence
forces and the police are disciplined and deeply patriotic and,
price rise. We have been
actively considering further to panic about.
therefore, will not be taken in, does not mitigate the seriousness of measures to strengthen
the provocation. the economy and to relieve
The forces of disintegration are in full play and communal the hardship of various
passions are being aroused, threatening our unity. sections, particularly the poor
All manners of false allegations have been hurled at me. The and vulnerable and those with fixed
Indian people have known me since my childhood. All my life has incomes. I shall announce them soon.
been in the service of our people. This is not a personal matter. It is I should like to assure you that the new emergency proclamation
123rf.com X3, random house india

not important whether I remain Prime Minister or not. However, will in no way affect the rights of law-abiding citizens. I am
the institution of the Prime Minister is important and the deliberate sure that internal conditions will speedily improve to enable us to
political attempts to denigrate it is not in the interest of democracy or dispense with this proclamation as soon as possible. I have been
of the nation. overwhelmed by the messages of goodwill from all parts of India
We have watched these developments with utmost patience for and all sections of the people. May I appeal for your continued
long. Now we learn of a new programme challenging law and co-operation and trust in the days ahead?
order throughout the country with a view to disrupting normal
functioning. How can any Government worth the name stand by The Great Speeches of Modern India published by Random House
and allow the country’s stability to be imperilled? The actions of a India, `299.
resource the latest science books reviewed

Our Mathematical Universe The Last Alchemist In Paris The Long And The Short Of It
My Quest For The Ultimate Nature Of Reality And Other Curious Tales From Chemistry The Science Of Life Span & Aging
Max Tegmark Allen Lane `2,547 Lars Öhrström Oxford University Press `695 J Silvertown The University of Chicago Press `1,625

K Max Tegmark is a K My four-year K Here’s an


professor of physics at chemistry degree extraordinary
MIT and a leading course made little statistic: over the last
expert on theories of reference to history. two centuries, human
the Universe. But he’s We learnt nothing of life expectancy has
also arguably the nearest acetone’s vital roughly doubled. Since
we have to a successor to contribution as a solvent 1840, the average
Richard Feynman, the of nitroglycerine to the lifespan of our species has
bongo-playing, wise-cracking production of cordite in been increasing by around
physicist who proved it is possible to be the First World War, or of the 19th Century three months every year. Or, to put it
smart, savvy and subversive at the same time. discovery that iodine deficiency in the another way, by 15 minutes per hour. What is
Tegmark has carved out a career as a thyroid gland caused goitre. Nor did anyone to stop us living longer and longer, perhaps
physicist willing to ponder mind-boggling inform us how to tell a diamond from a even forever? It’s a question that has
issues like the existence of multiple zirconia: hold it to your upper lip. Diamond, occupied plenty of human minds and it’s
universes, yet without being dismissed as a as a good conductor of heat, will cool your one that now takes centre stage in this
crackpot by his peers. As he admits in this skin, whereas zirconia, as an insulator, will provocative book.
engrossing account of his career and make no difference. Ecologist Jonathan Silvertown tackles the
thinking, this has enabled him to stay under Such stories form Lars Öhrström’s subject of lifespan and ageing as ‘a series of
the radar of the scientific establishment. beguiling book. He’s a Swedish chemical linked puzzles’. Why is it, for instance, that
But now ‘Mad Max’ has been given the engineer with a talent for dramatising the bacteria only live for a matter of hours when
freedom of an entire book. And he hasn’t unfamiliar role of chemistry in historical the ocean quahog (a kind of clam) can reach
wasted it. Around half of it is a lucid tour events. In his finest chapter, ‘Bonaparte’s 400 years? How come conifers can live more
d’horizon of what we know about the Bursting Buttons’, he deconstructs a famous than 10 times that long? Why do some
Universe. The rest is an exhilarating anecdote that Napoleon’s soldiers, retreating species breed year in year out their entire
expedition far beyond conventional from Moscow in 1812, suffered dreadfully adult lives while others throw everything
thinking, in search of the true meaning of because the tin buttons on their clothing they’ve got into one monumental
reality. Don’t be fooled: Tegmark is a very disintegrated. The white tin had changed into reproductive effort? As Silvertown resolves
smart physicist, not a hand-waving less dense, non-metallic grey tin under these conundrums, he throws in plenty of
philosopher, so the going gets tough in parts. sub-zero conditions. fascinating facts, refers to dozens of
But his insights and conclusions are Not every chapter is as focused, however, plants and animals, and boasts an eclectic
staggering – and perhaps even crazy enough and astonishingly chemist Primo Levi’s 1980s cast of human actors from Darwin to Bob
to be true. classic, The Periodic Table, goes unmentioned. Dylan and Dr Seuss.

Robert Matthews is a Visiting Reader in Science at Andrew Robinson is the editor of The Scientist: An Epic Henry Nicholls is a journalist and the author of The Way
Aston University. Of Discovery. Of The Panda.

Alien Universe Whether or not intelligent alien life exists, Don


Lincoln argues, one of the biggest questions of all
newfound capability for self annihilation in a
nuclear holocaust.
Extraterrestrial Life In Our Minds time. Looking for an answer he delves into the rich The book is a level-headed fusion of pop culture
And In The Cosmos history of the alien phenomenon from the 1835 and the latest scientific advances in the field of
‘Moon Hoax’, through the reported sightings of astrobiology, discussing the requirements for life on
Don Lincoln ‘Foo Fighters’ by World War II pilots, to more Earth. But while the efforts of SETI (the Search for
Johns Hopkins recent claims of abductions. Popular films and TV Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to detect radio signals
University Press shows, such as Star Trek and The X-Files, are also from advanced civilisations are praised, Lincoln
`1,498 discussed, and Lincoln points out that our changing professes that he believes the likelihood of an alien
concept of the ‘alien’ often mirrors the hopes and visitation is extremely unlikely.
fears of society at the time. For example, the 1951
film The Day The Earth Stood Still reflects the Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiologist and the author of Life In
anxiety in coming to terms with our species’ The Universe.

84 April 2014
get your clicks Our pick of internet highlights to explore

H WEBSITE H WEBSITE H WEBSITE


All eyes on paris Project euler Real scientists

www.alleyesonparis.com www.projecteuler.net www.realscientists.wordpress.


See what your cat sees as it wanders Ever fancied learning how to code? com
around Paris. Okay, so your cat Project Euler will give you something to This is for anyone who’s ever
probably doesn’t wander around aim towards. The site contains a series wondered what ‘real’ scientists do all
Paris. But the familiar landmarks will of problems to attempt, starting off day. Each week a different scientist
provide a useful backdrop to compare relatively easy and getting harder. If or science communicator takes the
a human’s world with a cats – or a you’re not sure whether you want to reigns of the Twitter handle @
bee’s, or even a falcon’s. Sadly the make the commitment, you can preview realscientists and tweets about
site is not yet up and running for OSX the problems first before your grey their life. They’re a diverse lot,
users, but the creators promise matter is fried. including field biologists tweeting
they’re working on it. from the forest.

H WEBSITE H WEBSITE H WEBSITE


Digitised diseases Chromoscope Nobel prize inspiration initiative

www.digitiseddiseases.org www.chromoscope.net www.nobelprizeii.org


Here you’ll find images and details of Explore our Galaxy and the distant Whether you’re a scientist or not, these
1600 human bone specimens, Universe across the electromagnetic videos will let you get inside the head
including the deformed skull of a spectrum. From high-energy gamma of some Nobel prize winners, and
young woman who died of syphilis rays all the way down to radio waves, hopefully give you a bit of inspiration. If
hundreds of years ago. They’ve been eight different telescopes provided the things are not going your way, the
made available for doctors and curious images for Chromoscope. Use your ‘Surprises and Setbacks’ section
members of the public to study for free cursor to grab and zoom in and get to shows that even failed experiments
on this newly launched site. It’s pretty know the all-sky images that make up have value and Nobel prize winners are
gruesome stuff, but fascinating. this open-source project in full. mistake-making humans too.

If you have a favourite website, blog or podcast that you’d like to share with other readers, email bbcknowledge@wwm.co.in
edu talk
Kiran Bir Sethi, Director of Riverside School, Ahmedabad, talks to Moshita Prajapati about the
need for a student-centred learning

You set up Riverside because you were not will learn how to conduct a research, understand
happy with the education your son was about physical height, weight, check the survey
receiving in his previous school. What does of under-weight children, and raise money. They
Riverside offer that is different? also look at daily nutrition intake and all of this
I think the single point of reference is that learning is a part of their research. This is a part
Riverside is user-centred, which makes all the and parcel of the school learning, and not done
difference to the whole system. Now the user as an after school activity.
here is the student rather than the parent.The
focal point of the school is not the needs of Design for Change is an initiative, which
the parent. We have shifted the focus back to is now a global movement. What led to its
students, which basically means that conception?
everything we design and create We have people visiting our school
is to ensure that the student has a who said, “We want to do what you
pleasurable learning experience. I ‘The curriculum is designed are doing here.” We realised it is the
think this elementary shift is what such that the students get to practice of teaching and learning at
see the value in what they
sets Riverside apart. Riverside, which was creating an
impact. So we started documenting
Could you elaborate? are learning’ everything we undertook, and
We really understand who the user started giving it an online presence.
is. The Riverside model is based We embraced the idea of sharing the
on the three stages of development practice because we realised that
– the younger years are about awareness, the You believe children to be catalysts of teachers and schools are inspired not by what you
middle years are for enablement and the older change. How do you empower children on a say but by what you do.
years are to empower the child, and students daily basis in school?
unfailingly go through these three phases. The No child is born fearful. It is their 15 years spent How did your design background from
world is complex and you have to make this in school that often makes them this way. So National Institute of Design (NID) help?
simpler for the younger user to get it right. So all what’s really important is to recognise what Design means you take something from the
the opportunities are designed to ensure that the do children really believe. That they can make current scenario to make it better. I’ll give you
young users get the right experience at the right anything better, and they have the solution. You a small example. You see the garbage thrown
time as they navigate through. can’t tell children, “No you can’t, you’re too outside your house and you say, “Oh my God!
young, you’re too alone, it’s too dangerous.” It’s full of garbage.” You’ve never been in this
How is this learning inculcated in the That makes them believe that is right. This was situation before, and you clean up
classrooms? my basis to evolve the belief in them that they the garbage. But the next day, it is there back
It is not difficult to do. It is to do with what you’re can, by creating a design model where they can again. This has happened because you have
learning towards, and what is the value of that see the world and have the ability to engage. not been able to look at the human centre of
learning. That is the primary template. It is in that engagement that they get a sense this situation. Humans place the garbage there.
So the curriculum is designed such that the that they can make something better. And that Garbage is not the problem, the people putting
students get to see value in what they are became a very important programme when we the garbage out there is the problem. So
learning, even if it is about, say, the circulatory started Riverside. you study how far the garbage dump is. Is
system. Why should a student learn about the it too far from the society? Do poeple
circulatory system? Students need to know why What does a school programme look like, find it more convenient to put garbage in this
it adds value. So students take a blood test and which tries to achieve this? particular place? Design thinking asks you to
then we get to core of this experience when each From Grade 3 to Grade 7, every year, each grade understand and empathise with human behaviour
student is reading his/her blood report, which engages with a cause for five years as part of and their patterns. That will tell you what needs
helps them understand their system. The report the course, which is real and a social concern. It to be solved. This is the very basis of how design
gives them clues on who they are, and how healthy could be about hunger for instance, and they will influenced in creating learning and teaching
they are. This is adding value to their learning. associate themselves with a particular NGO. They methods in Riverside.

86 April 2014
games review
Take On Mars FIFA 14
also out

PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, EA Sports, `3,999


The undisputed king of football
games is back, and this year it’s
making a surprisingly strong
claim to genuine innovation. The
new Player Chemistry feature
lets you fiddle with the playing
styles of individual team
members, tailoring their
approach to each match. You
might give your striker added
defensive capabilities, perhaps, or make your
defender more aggressive so he’s more useful when
pushing forward. It’s probably best to avoid any
settings that encourage biting other players.

Metal Gear Solid:


Scratching your new motor
won’t just mean a polish job The Legacy Collection
in Take On Mars; it means PlayStation 3, Konami, `4,299
billions of wasted dollars
and funding pulled from
future missions at the cost of
Blimey, how does one
thousands of jobs summarise the importance of
Hideo Kojima’s epic series in
just 80 words? It’s not possible,
PC, Bohemia Interactive, ` 3,200
but suffice to say that this
Have you heard of the Mars Curse? No, trickles in. Provided that you don’t prang compendium houses some of
sadly it has nothing to do with people your billion-dollar craft on a rock, that is. the best video games ever
made. Imagine James Bond
choking to death on chocolate bars. It’s a Czech developer Bohemia Interactive
meets Bear Grylls in a self-aware soap opera, filled
term that was coined to describe the is best known for its terrifyingly realistic with robots, ninjas and edible snakes. Oh, and Metal
awkward history of our attempts to military simulations - back in 2011, Gear Solid 3 has an incredible bit where you simply
explore the mysterious Red Planet. footage from ARMA 2 was mistakenly climb a ladder for two minutes. It’s brilliant, honestly.
Almost 60 per cent of our missions to used in a TV documentary. While its
Mars have resulted in failure: the batteries efforts here are certainly less violent than
went flat on the satellite Mariner 3; usual, there’s still something quite eerie Disney Infinity
Phobos 1 was lost in space; and, of course, about your slow progress across PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii U, 3DS,
there are British physicists who still weep the amber dunes, especially when viewed Disney, `1,299
into their tea at the mere mention of the through the warped perspective of a If you’re familiar with Activision’s
word ‘Beagle’. Stupid craters. Rover’s fish-eye lens. wildly lucrative Skylanders
Now, thanks to Take On Mars, you The vehicles are constructed from up brand, you’ll understand the gist
can try to succeed where others have to 50 separately modelled components, of Disney Infinity. It’s a platform
failed. Assuming the role of a sweaty- any of which might fail on you at a game where players can scan
palmed operator back on Earth, you’ll crucial moment: if a wheel gets jammed, real-world toys to import them into their virtual
worlds. There are also franchise-specific playsets
assume control of your own Rover as for example, you’ll have to find a way to
that unlock famous Disney locales like Monsters
you explore the Martian surface. Players compensate for your wonky steering. University or the tropics of Pirates Of The
can jump straight into a series of missions This kind of problem-solving gameplay Caribbean, while Toy Box mode lets you blend
or otherwise elect to manage an entire might not appeal to everyone, but hey characters and settings to create your own
space programme from scratch, - you can’t have a Rover sim without the mash-ups - like The Incredibles battling Davy
researching new tech as the funding Mars Curse. Jones in Radiator Springs.
Gadgets charge on the go

Power Trekk
The Power Trekk is made up of three components; a
water reservoir, a puck, which is an internal battery, and a
green plastic fuel cell top. Based on a Swedish Fuel Cell
technology, the Power Trekk just needs to be filled with
water and salt and the technology then converts the
hydrogen, which produces electricity, to
provide instant power anywhere.
Price: `10,146 • www.amazon.com

Ecoxpower
EcoXPower is a compact handler, which can be strapped to
your cycle, and with every pedal you can charge your phone.
The attached dynamo engages the wheels moving spokes and
converts kinetic energy into electricity. The energy produced
also powers the bikes head and tail light. The lithium-ion battery
also stores power to light up the headlights without pedalling
for two hours.
Price: `12,276 • www.amazon.com

Window socket
The Window Socket is a renewable energy generator in shape
of a round button, which can stick onto any surface. It sticks
to a window with a suction plate that encircles the solar
panel, and a basic outlet feeds the converted solar power to
a device placed for charge. It can provide 10 continuous
hours of power on a full charge; it
presently takes about five-eight
hours to fully charge.
Price: TBA
• www.yankodesign.com

Spin
The 'SPIN' eco media player allows you to play music without the
need to charge. One minute of winding the rotator by hand
provides 45 mins of playtime. A fully charged device can last up to
55 hours. It also enables you to charge your mobile through the
device. The media player is powered by the neodymium magnets,
which is twice more effective than charging with electricity.
Price: `9,058 • www.amazon.co.uk
riding the wave of green technology

Re-Feed | 
You should feel bad about throwing
away leftovers from last night’s dinner.
Be a proactive environmentalist and
invest in this Re-feeder - your
personal compost and waste
processor. The canister-like device
comes with a blade, which shreds and
converts organic waste into instant
fertilising liquid for your plants. An
attached tube feeds and nourishes
your plant from the roots up.
Price: T.B.A •
www.yankodesign.com

Rukus Xtreme
This eco-powered, Bluetooth-enabled
music machine has five speakers and  | WakaWaka Light
solar panels, which can fully charge the WakaWaka light is a solar powered LED lamp that is
speakers in five hours flat. It also reserves twice as efficient as the other solar lamps in the
the energy in an inbuilt 6600mAh battery, market. The size of a tablet, it’s backed with solar
which enables you to charge any mobile panels on the back, which provides 16 hrs of safe
phones or tablets. light on a single day of solar charge. Weighing up to
Price:`4,698 • www.amazon.com 200g, it’s also incredibly light.
Price: `1,566 • www.waka-waka.com

LifeStraw | 
LifeStraw is a personal water filter, which allows
you to drink water safely from any water source you
come across while travelling. This light-weight gadget is
capable of purifying up to 1000 litres of water, without the use
of chemicals and wipes out 99.9 % of harmful bacteria.
Price: `1,253 • www.amazon.com

Eolic
The Eolic is a
portable windmill,
beneficial when
no power is
available. It
converts wind
energy into
electric energy  | Soccket ball
and stores it, How does a 17 ounce, airless,
which can be deflation proof, and
used to power water-resistant ball harness
your gadgets clean green energy? By being
when needed. kicked. This action allows for
This sleek and the pendulum inside the
portable wind socket ball to swing when the
turbine made of ball moves, generating energy
carbon fibres and for a rechargeable battery
aluminium makes stored inside. Thirty minutes
it a lightweight of play translates into three
gadget, but also hours of light from its
tough enough to companion LED lamp.
not get blown Price: `6,200
away by the wind. • www.unchartedplay.com
Price: TBA
• www.inhabitat.
com

Have suggestions for any gadget/application?


- Compiled by Sanaa Nalawalla email bbcknowledge@wwm.co.in
in exciting
Solve & W e hampers
chocolat 550 from
worth `

puzzle pit
Questions and challenges guaranteed
to give your brain a workout

Crossword NO.20
Across
1 Relating to milk (6)
5 Crave, want or wish (6)
10 Blueprint, plan or sketch (7)
11 The English ___ : it separates Dover from Calais (7)
12 Discovers, tracks down (6)
15 Mounts, ascends (6)
16 Proclaim, attest or announce (7)
17 A kind of ceremony (4)
18 Scandinavian books (4)
19 Succeed, do well (7)
20 Snatch or seize (4)
22 Egyptian goddess (4)
25 Participated or enrolled in (7)
27 ____ one's views: expressing oneself openly? (6)
28 Area or locality? (6)
31 Thoughtful (7)
32 Condense, curtail, or lessen (7)
33 Overcome in a contest (6)
34 Core of a nut (6)

Down
2 Captivate or charm (7)
3 Worked hard, struggled (6)
4 Masticate (4) Your Details
5 Pal of Harry and Tom? (4)
Name:
6 Horse's accommodation (6)

7 Changed the title (7)
8 Medical practitioner (6) Age:

9 Clear part of the blood (6) Address:


13 Burning or inflamed (7)
14 Spectacles (7)
15 A climbing plant (7) PinCode:
20 Understands or realises the significance or meaning of (6)
Tel:
21 Put in order (7)
23 Tool used in spinning (7)
24 Burnt slightly (6) School/Institution/Occupation:

25 Complete or whole (6)


26 More costly or more beloved? (6) Email:
29 Abandoned (4)
30 Giant killer from the fairy tales (4)

How to enter for the country to country. Novices should note Announcing the winners of Solution of crossword NO. 19
crossword: Post your entries to BBC that the idea is to fill the white squares with Crossword No. 19
Knowledge Editorial, Crossword No.20 letters to make words determined by the
Worldwide Media, The Times of India sometimes cryptic clues to the right. The Swaraj Kasar, Maharashtra
Bldg, 4th floor, Dr Dadabhai Navroji Road, numbers after each clue tell you how many
Mumbai 400001 or email bbcknowledge@ letters are in the answer. All spellings are •
wwm.co.in by 10 April 2014. UK. Good luck! Rizza A. N., Chennai
Entrants must supply their name, address •
and phone number. Terms and conditions: Only Jayanth Gunda, Andhra Pradesh
residents of India are eligible to participate. •
How it’s done: The puzzle will be Employees of Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.
familiar to crossword enthusiasts already, are not eligible to participate. The winners
Amogha Lakshmi HS, Bangalore
although the British style may be unusual will be selected in a lucky draw. The
as crossword grids vary in appearance from decision of the judges will be final.
zl e
Me n s a Puz
Q2
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ITUDE once.
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Q4 Chain words O
Form a continuous path of words from START to
FINISH by connecting the word parts given in the
boxes. There are two parts to each word and the
second part of one word is the first part of the next.
You won’t necessarily need to visit every box to
achieve your aim. Tail
5 Head and er in the
form
Q a n s w
lve t h e he next
clue to so part of t
Start MORT AL TER ST OCK
the e second
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o u n d the next
DER LAR MED ROOM mate
of a c o m p p a r t o f
the first
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Become ill
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pensation
Type of com
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bl ove o s.
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h e f our a form fo ked Vacation b
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EILNK alities April 2014 91
in gener
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Puzzle Pit t
Find your way ou
of the maze.

Q7 Hidato

Q8 PICTURE SEARCH

In the jumble below, the words


represented by each of the 16 pictures
are hidden either horizontally, vertically
or diagonally forward or backwards
but always in a straight line. See how
many of them you can find? Look out for
descriptive names.

Q9 Enigma Code
Each colour in our code represents a letter. When you
have cracked the code you will be able to make up
seven words. The clue to the first word is given to help
you get started. The Clue: Exploit, control
Choo se
Q 11 Pick and
combination of
e si x clu es by choosing the right set can be used
Solve th e letter
below. Each of th the end
letter sets given e or de r giv en . The number at
on ly in th e us ed in
re only once and ers ar
Q10 Go Figu of the clues sp ec ifies ho w many sets of lett
, third, fifth,
th e fo ur nu m bers in the first erators the solution.
Place ver op
xes and whate h
and seventh bo the second, fourth, and sixt
us e in er . Rajasthan (3)
you care to get the answ 1. Bird sanctuary in
rrect order to
boxes in the co only once
rs )
Use the numbe 2. 2014 Australian
Open Champion (3
+ –
The operators:
X enir (2)
3. Keepsake or souv
÷
=2
arded (4)
Easy
5 7 4. Stockpiled or ho
2 2

=7 5. Ancestors (4)
)
Medium and Herzegovina (2
3 3 5 7 6. Capital of Bosnia
= 47 FO ED PUR
ACC SARA
WAW
Hard 7 RIN JEVO RE KA
3 4 MEM LAT
2 FAT ENTO
HERS RAT
UMU BHA

Q13 O
ne le
Q12 Today's Teaser tter
Use th cro
e pictu
res du ss wo
1) An elderly man is going for a walk. Two youn e to fi rd
g men ll in th
in excellent physical condition are directly behin e pizz
d les.
him, sprinting toward him. No matter how fast
they
run, they do not catch up with the man. Why canít
the
men catch up with the elderly man and where
are all
three people?
2) Oscar sold 2 glasses of milk for every 5 soda
s he
sold. If he sold 10 glasses of milk, how many soda
s
did he sell?
3) How many flowers do I have if all of them
are roses
except two, all of them are tulips except two, and
all
of them are daisies except two?
4) What's the rebus, here:
J, ____ & Titanic 1. H, 2. K, 3. A , 4. C.
Q13 One Letter Crossword:

5) What three rhyming words can be associate


d with
(Billy goat); CHILLY (cold).
the following three words:
sinker. 5) The words are: SILLY (Absurd); BILLY Q7 Hidato:
flowers: rose, tulip, daisy. 4) Hook, line and
ABSURD on treadmills in a gym. 2) 25 sodas. 3) Three
Q12 Today's Teaser: 1) The three people are
in detail.
Kelvin - We think in generalities, but we live
GOAT Memento, Accumulated, Forefathers, Sarajevo.
Q6 Scramble: Words: Ivied, Flute, Launch,

COLD Q11 Pick and Choose: Bharatpur, Wawrinka, Get-Sick-Pay-Dirt-Road-Trip-Wire-Gauge.


Q5 Head & Tail:
Hard: 3 + 4 x 7 - 2 = 47
Medium: 7 + 5 / 3 + 3 = 7 Roommate, Material, Rialto, Toward.
Easy: 2 x 2 + 5 - 7 = 2 Rateable, Ablest, Stand, Andante, Anteroom,
Q10 Go Figure: Medlar, Larder, Dermal, Malign, Ignite, Iterate,
Q4 Chain Words: Mortal, Alter, Termed,
Panther, Sharpen, Another, Shorten.
Q9 Enigma Code: Harness, Hastens, Trashes, Q3 Deduction: Contend, Audit, Log.
Tuba. steps of 7, 8, 9 and 10.
Magnet, Mask, Rose, Rupee, Speaker, Swan, Q2 Mensa Puzzle: 35. Numbers advance in
Chair, Fish, France, Gear, Hammer, Hourglass,
Q8 Picture Search: Bottle, Burglar, Cat, Q1 Double Barrelled: Side.
Solutions:
in focus
“You will be able to
travel for free, forever,
on pure sunlight”
- Musk, during the announcement of opening Tesla
Supercharger stations, where owners of Tesla’s Model S
cars will be able to charge their cars using solar energy
at stations spread across US and Europe. This is part of
Tesla’s move towards recognising a more sustainable
Elon Musk future for automotive transit.

Legacy Did you know Space X’s Falcon 9 rocket

Elon Musk is not your average self-made • Musk was the inspiration for Robert
billionaire; he is an engineer, inventor and Downey’s interpretation of Tony Stark’s
an entrepreneur. He is part of the new-age character for the Iron Man movies. Musk
breed of intellectuals who want to map out did a cameo in Iron Man 2 and the Tesla
the future of transport and energy usage Motors Palo Alto factory was used for much
of the world. He is CEO and Chief product of the filming.
Architect of Tesla Motors; the company
business insider, spacenews.com, washigton post, motortrend.com

manufactures fully electric vehicles for • Musk taught himself to programme code
mainstream consumers, the latest being the at age ten. He made his first sale, a video
award-winning Tesla Model S, a full-sized game he had written called Blastar, to a
electric five-door hatchback. His current magazine at 12 for $500.
project Hyperloop, is a rapid transport • In an interview Musk stated that he never
plan, which would allow travellers to cover takes a vacation.
the trip between Los Angeles and San
Francisco in under 30 minutes as opposed
to the 10 hour drive by road, the 13-hour
drive by train or the one hour flight, while
travelling at a speed of 700 miles per hour.
But his ambition extends far beyond
Tesla. As the CEO and CTO of Space X,
he earmarked a significant landmark in
reducing the cost of space travel to develop The future of our transport:
new technologies for orbital launches with The Tesla Model S (left)
a reusable quality of that of a commercial and a computer generated
aircraft. Testing for the same has begun in image of the Hyperloop
February 2014.

94 April 2014
SCIENCE • HISTORY • NATURE • FOR THE CURIOUS MIND