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Archives – November, 2010

Picture of The Day: Mt. Merapi- When Nature Strikes

Mt Merapi in Indonesia continues to spew lava, ashes and gases disrupting lives of hundreds and thousands of people. Here are few breathtaking pictures of the volcano.

Image credit: Boston.con/Bigpicture/REUTERS/Beawiharta/Dwi Oblo/BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images

Leave a Comment November 9, 2010

Weekend Video: Facts About Projection

This weekend’s video edition is a short 3 minute documentary about a profession which might soon become extinct, the profession of 35mm film projectionist. I remember how I used to enjoy watching movies during my undergrad days at IIT Kanpur, India when Student Film Society used to screen movies during the weekend using 35 mm film projections. Later they replaced it with digital projectors and I quickly realized that I was missing the magic. I hope you enjoy this short created by Temujin Doran who himself is a projectionist. Keep up the good work! Have a nice weekend!!

Leave a Comment November 7, 2010

Mt Merapi Erupts Again

In one of my previous post, I mentioned about twin disasters of earthquake/Tsunami and volcanic eruption which Indonesia has been facing. Mt Merapi first erupted recently on Oct 26th killing about 44 people. Since then the volcano has been active on and off. On Nov3rd, it erupted again but this time it was 5 times stronger than Oct 26th eruption killing more people and spewing out gases and ashes farther than expected. Till now total number of reported deaths have been 144 and about 160,000 people have been evacuated. Indonesian govt has declared the event as a national emergency and danger zone has been extended to 12 miles from the location of the volcano.In the image above you can see thermal images from NASA’s Terra satellite taken on Oct 30. The thermal data has been then overlaid on the map of the mountain to give an idea of extent of the flow of material from the eruption.

While Mt Merapi has been an active volcano, but this hasn’t deterred people from living on its slopes and fothills. On various occasions volcano activity has disrupted the lives of the villagers. Some might ask why the villagers go and live on the slopes of killer mountain. Well, volcanic activity results in making the surrounding lands very fertile which is good for cultivation and helps in supporting a large population. Indonesia is a very densely populated country and land availability is scarce. So I guess villagers chose to live in the shadow of this killer volcano knowing the fact that it might erupt anytime, but atleast till that time, they will be able to grow food and feed their family and survive and hope that in future if it erupts, they might be lucky enough to survive and continue with their lives.It’s a very very tough choice they have to make.

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Leave a Comment November 6, 2010

The Great Migration

Migration of animals is such an interesting phenomenon where animals and birds and insects, big and small all over the earth move around in huge numbers to optimize their chances of survival. If you are interested in this topic you might want to catch up with a new series on National Geographic titled ” Great Migrations“. First episode of seven part series airs on  Nov 7th, 8 PM. The series is aptly subtitled as “Move as Millions. Survive as One” and you can preview first 15 minutes of the show here:

Coming back to above picture, you can see zebras amidst wildebeest herd and this is quite a common sighting in East African jungles where both the species migrate together and benefit from each others company. If you ask, what are the benefits they get from each other, I will try to enlist some of them which I gathered from the net.

  1. Wildebeest and zebras can migrate in harmony as they both prefer different parts of the grass when grazing and so there is no conflict of interest in terms of food. Wildebeests are short grass grazers while zebras have long front teeth which facilitates them in feeding upon longer grass. So when the herd enters a new area, zebras basically mow the whole area which helps wildebeest to feed upon soft parts of the grass, and then zebras feed upon the leftover parts. So the feeding pattern works out for both of them.
  2. Zebras have good memories and the are good travelers as they can remember the directions and they watch carefully when and where to cross places before jumping in. Wildebeest on the other hand move in herd without much thought which many of the times lead to their peril as well. So being with zebras gives wildebeest better navigating capabilities.
  3. Wildebeests are good in sensing water and this feature is very helpful to both the species when they are migrating in dry lands of Eastern African jungles.
  4. Zebras have better hearing and seeing capabilities which helps them in sensing danger better.
  5. There is also a hypothesis that lions prefer eating wildebeest meat, or maybe they are easy to hunt, so being with a weak prey such as a wildebeest is a good thing for zebra, quite clever. [Source:]

In the picture below, you can see a young zebra following it’s mother while migrating. Baby zebra stays with it’s mother and recognizes her by voice, smell and stripe patterns. It’s interesting to note that no two zebras look exactly the same and baby zebras can figure out that pretty easily.

Picture credit: Geographic/Marc Moritsch/Mitsuaki Iwago/ Minden Pictures

Leave a Comment November 6, 2010

Haiti:Earthquake, Cholera and Now Tropical Storm

Haiti needs a break, break from natural calamities. First it was earthquake in January which shook the whole country and took away more than 300,000 lives. The country is still in rebuilding mode and much is needed to be done. Adding to the misery of people who are already facing hardships, there has been cholera outbreak which has resulted in more than 300 deaths. As of Oct 27th, 4722 cases have been reported and efforts are being made to control the epidemic. The tragedy can’t get worse with tropical storm Tomas looming upon which might get converted to Hurricane strength during the weekend. It’s a sad situation out there and Haitians need a break from natural calamities. In the above picture by Spencer Platt , a young Haitian is crying after loss of her mother to cholera. The picture below was taken by Ramon Espinosa at one of the many camps built for rehabilitation of people displaced after January 2010 earthquake.

Image Credit: Spencer Platt/ Ramon Espinosa/ AP Photo/Getty Images

Leave a Comment November 5, 2010

What’s Your Formula, Equation, Algorithm?

Continuing with the series of interesting take by various researchers, scientists, writers on how they view the world in terms of equations and algorithms, here is another one by Stewart Brand describing pace layering of a healthy civilization. Stewart is Founder of Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder of Global Business Network, and author of How Buildings Learn.

Image Credit: 

Leave a Comment November 2, 2010

Indonesia Struck by Tsunami And Volcanic Eruption

Indonesia was struck by two natural disasters during last week resulting in loss of more than 400 lives and large-scale displacement of people. On 25th October, a 7.7 scale earthquake triggered Tsunami in western parts of the country which resulted in loss of about 393 lives. Barely a day after, Mt Merapi, located in central Java, erupted multiple times and covered many neighboring villages in ashes. As of now about 33 people have been reported dead due to these eruptions. Many of the affected villages are in very remote areas and occurrence of these two events in quick succession has complicated the relief efforts. Tsunami warning system was put in place but it’s not clear why it couldn’t respond to the earthquake.

Officials say a multimillion-dollar tsunami warning system that uses buoys to detect sudden changes in water levels broke down a month ago because it was not being properly maintained. The system was installed after a monster 2004 quake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. A German official at the project disputed there was a breakdown, saying Monday’s 7.7-magnitude quake’s epicenter was too close to the Mentawai islands for residents to get the warning before the killer wave hit. “The early warning system worked very well — it can be verified,” said Joern Lauterjung, head of the German-Indonesia Tsunami Early Warning Project for the Potsdam-based GeoForschungs Zentrum. He added that only one sensor of 300 had not been working and said that had no effect on the system’s operation. [AP]

Image credit: 1) Mt Merapi on Aug 8,2010 | Flickr user Bernard Tey| Used under creative commons license

2) Evacuated villagers | Ifansasti/Getty Images

1 Comment November 1, 2010

Weekend Video: Rapture

I am back from week long AAAR conference in Portland and I promise to make up for lack of posts during the past week. So expect large dosage of interesting posts today onwards. To get started with, here is a breathtaking timelapse video by Tom Lowe titled “Rapture”. The video is just a glimpse of his new upcoming film “Timescapes” which is a modern potrait of American Southwest. If the trailer is so amazing, you can just imagine how awesome the movie is going to be. So sit back, turn on the volume, click on the fullscreen and HD options and enjoy this beautiful video.

Leave a Comment November 1, 2010


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