Researchers make the case that modern life sprang from early megaorganism

first_img To that end, Michael Marshall, in a piece in New Scientist has synthesized the current thinking regarding a so-called mega-organism that is thought by many scientists to have existed some 2.9 billion years ago (more than a billion years after life is first thought to have appeared on Earth) and which split into three main parts, each of which led to one of the three main types of life now in existence on the planet.Marshall spoke with Gustavo Caetano-Anollés of the University of Illinois, one of the leading authorities on the mega-organism known as LUCA, who suggests the multi-celled organism virtually filled the oceans and lived as sort of a single entity where individual cells traded useful traits back and forth rather than competing with one another. At some point, he says, LUCA split into three separate groups of celled organisms: bacteria, archaea and eukaryotes, the last of which is suspected of giving rise to all the plants and animals alive in the world today.To figure out the composition of LUCA, Caetano-Anollés studied modern proteins – going on the assumption that if one or more could be found that are common to virtually all forms of modern life, the odds would be good that it existed in LUCA as well, seeing as how research has shown that the basic structures of most proteins change little over time even as their genetic structure does. Caetano-Anollés found that five to eleven percent of those he studied appeared to be universal, which he then theorized meant that they were likely present in LUCA as well.Then, because the types of proteins that were found to be universal were the kinds that are able to break down and extract energy from nutrients, Caetano-Anollés suggests that LUCA was able to do so as well, which seems only logical as its doubtful the mega-organism would have been able to exist without such a capability.Marshall then contends that the cells that made up LUCA likely also had cell walls, and backs up his assertion with results found by previous research which has also found that the cells were likely compartmentalized, but lacked DNA; instead noting that it was likely RNA that such cells used to store information that could be passed on to offspring.What’s most notable, however, is the combined work of many researchers that suggests that the cells that made up LUCA shared information rather than competed to thwart one another, in sharp contrast to how so much of the biological world operates today. Explore further Last universal common ancestor more complex than previously thought © 2011 Citation: Researchers make the case that modern life sprang from early mega-organism (2011, November 28) retrieved 18 August 2019 from ( — A lot of work has been done over the years to nail down the origins of life, with much speculation given to whatever first bit of “life” appeared from what was before, nothing but non-living material. Unfortunately, evidence of such life has long vanished leaving researchers to try to piece together what might have happened afterwards by rewinding the genetic tape so to speak. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Humans may have helped the decline of African rainforests 3000 years ago

first_imgDaintree Rainforest. Photo taken June 2005. Image: Wikipedia. Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Geochemist Germain Bayon and colleagues from the French Research Institute for Exploration of the Sea in Plouzané, France, analyzed marine sediment cores representing the last 40,000 years, taken from the mouth of the Congo River. The team looked for geochemical markers such as hydrogen, which correspond to rainfall levels that affect natural levels of erosion, and they also looked at potassium, which erodes quickly, and aluminum, which is more immobile.The core samples revealed evidence of severe chemical weathering starting around 1,500 BCE, a time that coincided with a period in which Bantu-speaking tribes arrived in the area, having migrated from regions near what is now the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. Chemical weathering in samples dating before this era was consistent with the changes in rainfall patterns, but by 1,000 BCE the weathering seen was decoupled from the rainfall evidence.Chemical weathering can be caused naturally by rainfall and normal erosion, but it can be accelerated by deforestation and intensive agriculture. Since the climate was changing at the time and becoming drier, a reduction in chemical weathering would ordinarily be expected rather than the peak actually found.The Bantu people were farmers and had developed iron-smelting techniques. Iron-Age Bantu archaeological sites have yielded ceramics, furnaces, tools, the remains of agricultural products, and a variety of iron artifacts. Bayon and colleagues suggest, in their paper published in the journal Science, that the farmers’ clearing of land for agriculture and their iron smelters, in addition to the changing climate, would explain the collapse of the rainforest and its replacement by grasslands and savannas in the region. The researchers were unable to estimate to what extent human activities were responsible, but they suggest the evidence from the sediment core shows human influence was “already significant.”The paper’s authors say their results were unexpected, but reveal that humans can have an enormous effect on the environment. While their findings do not necessarily contradict the prevailing theories, because the changing climate enabled the farmers to practice agriculture in the region, the Buntu farming practices themselves then changed the patterns of soil erosion.The study could have implications for the current situation in the world’s largest rainforests in the Amazon, where large areas are being deforested, largely for cattle or soy bean farms, and for industrial purposes and road construction. This, together with the current changes in climate, could also result in a rapid disappearance of remaining rainforests and their replacement by grasslands, with a massive resultant loss in biodiversity, and feedback changes to the local climate. Rainfall in the Amazon is already reducing, and there have been major droughts, notably in 2005 and 2010. Journal information: Science Citation: Humans may have helped the decline of African rainforests 3000 years ago (2012, February 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from ( — Large areas of rainforests in Central Africa mysteriously disappeared over three thousand years ago, to be replaced by savannas. The prevailing theory has been that the cause was a change in climate, and the deforestation then enabled humans to increase their agricultural activities. A new study suggests that climate change alone cannot fully explain the transition and that human activities might be implicated. Deforestation reduces rainfall in Africa © 2011 More information: Intensifying Weathering and Land Use in Iron Age Central Africa, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1215400ABSTRACTAbout 3000 years ago, a major vegetation change occurred in Central Africa, when rainforest trees were abruptly replaced by savannas. The consensus is that the forest disturbance was caused by climate change. We show here that chemical weathering in Central Africa, reconstructed from geochemical analyses of a marine sediment core, intensified abruptly at the same period, departing significantly from the long-term weathering fluctuations related to the Late Quaternary climate. Evidence that this weathering event was also contemporaneous with the migration of Bantu-speaking farmers across Central Africa suggests that human land-use intensification at that time already had a significant impact on the rainforest.last_img read more

Researchers use earthworms to create quantum dots

first_img Citation: Researchers use earthworms to create quantum dots (2012, December 28) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Schematics of the earthworm used and optical characterization of the quantum dots. Credit: (c) Nature Nanotechnology 8, 57–60 (2013) doi:10.1038/nnano.2012.232 Explore further Journal information: Nature Nanotechnology New genre of sugar-coated ‘quantum dots’ for drug delivery © 2012 Phys.orgcenter_img Quantum dots are nano-sized semiconducting materials with characteristics defined by their crystal shape. They are useful because of the unique way they emit or absorb light, similar in many respects to the florescence seen in some molecules. Thus far, their creation has proved to be useful in making LEDs, photovoltaic materials and very small lasers.In this new research, the team set out to determine if common earthworms could be used to create cadmium telluride quantum dots. The thinking was that because earthworms are known for their detoxifying abilities – they do so by shuttling toxins into a special layer of their gut – they might be able to cause certain metals to combine as they are processed, creating nano-sized materials that qualified as quantum dots. In this case, they fed several earthworms soil with sodium tellurite and cadmium chloride mixed into it, for 11 days. Afterwards, they examined the material excreted by the worms in their tissue and found in detoxifying the metals, the worms had indeed created cadmium telluride quantum dots.The creation of such quantum dots as part of a biological process leads to particles that are water soluble – that means that they might be put to use in biological settings. As one example, the researchers placed the worm-created quantum dots in a Petri dish along with cultured cancer cells obtained from mice. The cancer cells immediately absorbed the dots as was evidenced by shining UV light on them and witnessing their familiar green glow. In doing the same with other types of cells, the researchers found that it took some added manipulation to get them to soak up the dots, but in the end discovered it was possible.The team notes that that their research provides two new pieces of useful information: one – it’s possible to make quantum dots using worms, and possibly other organisms, and two – it’s possible to make quantum dots that might prove useful in living tissue as part of a system of diagnostic tools. (—British researchers at King’s College in London have succeeded in creating quantum dots by feeding earthworms soil laced with certain metals and then collecting the material excreted. They describe their research in their paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. More information: Biosynthesis of luminescent quantum dots in an earthworm, Nature Nanotechnology 8, 57–60 (2013) doi:10.1038/nnano.2012.232AbstractThe synthesis of designer solid-state materials by living organisms is an emerging field in bio-nanotechnology. Key examples include the use of engineered viruses as templates for cobalt oxide (Co3O4) particles1, superparamagnetic cobalt–platinum alloy nanowires2 and gold–cobalt oxide nanowires3 for photovoltaic and battery-related applications. Here, we show that the earthworm’s metal detoxification pathway can be exploited to produce luminescent, water-soluble semiconductor cadmium telluride (CdTe) quantum dots that emit in the green region of the visible spectrum when excited in the ultraviolet region. Standard wild-type Lumbricus rubellus earthworms were exposed to soil spiked with CdCl2 and Na2TeO3 salts for 11 days. Luminescent quantum dots were isolated from chloragogenous tissues surrounding the gut of the worm, and were successfully used in live-cell imaging. The addition of polyethylene glycol on the surface of the quantum dots allowed for non-targeted, fluid-phase uptake by macrophage cells. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Physicists show selfcorrecting quantum computers are theoretically possible

first_img Journal information: New Journal of Physics ( —Using exotic components such as color codes, new phases of quantum matter, and extra dimensions, a team of physicists has shown that it’s theoretically possible to construct a quantum computer that has the ability to correct itself whenever an error occurs. © 2013 All rights reserved. Explore further The third type is internally protected (or self-correcting) quantum computers, which is the most demanding type because they can correct themselves whenever an error occurs. The standard classical computers that we use today are self-correcting, which is one of the properties that makes them so successful. But developing a self-correcting quantum computer is much more difficult. Illustrating just how difficult it is, the physicists say that the task will amount to finding a new quantum state of matter. In their paper, the physicists theoretically showed how to construct a self-correcting quantum computer using a candidate for a new quantum state of matter called color codes. Color codes are a class of topological codes, which themselves have gained attention as a new phase of quantum matter due to their topologically ordered states. The physicists explain that color codes have very special transversality properties and a mathematical structure that is “colored.” In their model, the physicists constructed a color code in six and seven dimensions and explained how the code can be used to implement universal quantum computation that provides self-correction. To demonstrate the self-protection capabilities of the quantum computer, the physicists showed that it has a stable memory which, if exposed to a local noise for a short time, can preserve its quantum information.If a self-correcting quantum computer could be built, it would have advantages over externally protected quantum computers, Bombin explained.”External correction requires complex architectures involving enormous numbers of physical qubits to operate effectively on just a few logical qubits,” he said. “If we had at hand suitable quantum phases of matter to use as quantum registers, architectures would dramatically simplify. In fact, the usual problem with conventional experimental approaches to quantum computing is scalability. In the case of self-correcting quantum computers, the problem is to find a suitable phase, but scalability should be much more straightforward.”Very recently, several other papers have been published that also address the possibility of self-correcting quantum computers. While some of these proposals are similar to the one here, the physicists note that these proposals do not work at a fixed temperature, while the one presented here does. Although each proposal has its own advantages, operating at a fixed temperature makes their model the most demanding and realistic scenario, although much more work is needed to build such a computer.Among the challenges that the researchers face is lowering the dimensionality of their model.”A major goal is to explore theoretically quantum phases of matter in two and three spatial dimensions with the goal of finding candidates for self-correcting quantum memories,” Bombin said. “The self-correcting property is related to the confinement of excitations, and this may serve as a guide for research.” Playing quantum tricks with measurements Citation: Physicists show self-correcting quantum computers are theoretically possible (2013, June 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Illustration of a cell that is part of a 3D color code lattice (or, as the physicists call them, “colexes”). In the paper, the physicists used analogous 6D color codes to design a self-correcting quantum computer. Credit: H. Bombin “The greatest significance of our work is showing that self-correcting quantum computing at a finite temperature is not impossible as a matter of principle,” physicist Héctor Bombin told Bombin was at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, while performing the study and is currently at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario. “In fact, the original motivation came from claims to the contrary by other authors. We provide explicit constructions that can be checked directly, without numerical simulations.”Bombin and his coauthors have published a paper on their proposed self-correcting quantum computer in a recent issue of the New Journal of Physics. Error correction in quantum computers cannot be performed the same way as in classical computers, where information is stored multiple times for redundancy. Since copying quantum information is impossible due to the no-cloning theorem, physicists must find other ways to protect quantum information against errors.As Bombin and his coauthors explain in their paper, quantum computers can be classified into three categories based on their protection against errors. The first type is bare quantum computers, which do not have any type of error correction. These quantum computers have already been realized with ion traps and optical lattices. The second type is externally protected quantum computers, which can be acted upon externally in order to repair errors. Although this type has not been successfully implemented yet, theoretical studies indicate that there are no fundamental obstacles to reach them when quantum technologies are fully developed. More information: H. Bombin, et al. “Self-correcting quantum computers.” New Journal of Physics. 15 (2013) 055023. DOI: 10.1088/1367-2630/15/5/055023 This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Sea slug found to track seaweed by sniffing its defensive chemicals

first_img The researchers conducted a series of lab and field experiments to monitor slug and seaweed interactions, and to gather information about the chemicals that came into play. In so doing, they discovered that the slugs were able to track down the seaweed they were looking for by detecting the chemicals that the seaweed normally uses to deflect predators, halimedatetraacetate and 4-hydroxybenzoic acid. They then learned that the slug stabs the seaweed with an appendage called the radula, which it also uses to suck out cytoplasm. Doing so allowed the slugs to obtain energy from the sun, as is normally done with plants—it also provided 60 percent of its carbon intake. As if all that were not enough, the slugs also grabbed some of the halimedatetraacetate and used it as a means for warding off prey. Tracking and preying on the seaweed, the team reports caused an increase in slug population by 12 to 18 fold even though the slugs used the plants to help with their own reproduction efforts only on average for 36 hours.The researchers report that this is the first instance of the identification of a marine organism mining chemical compounds from an herbivore. They noted that the seaweed did not submit to the invasion without putting up a fight, however, the plants dropped branches where the slugs had attached, severing the relationship between them. The move also likely helped the plant avoid fungal infection, the researchers note. Such branch dropping, they added, led to a reduction in overall growth of the seaweed plant by approximately 50 percent on average.The team also note that such behavior has been seen in terrestrial ecosystems, which they suggest is interesting because prior studies have shown that terrestrial and marine herbivores split from a common ancestor approximately 400 million years ago, implying that such abilities evolved separately. More information: Marine and terrestrial herbivores display convergent chemical ecology despite 400 million years of independent evolution, Douglas B. Rasher, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1508133112AbstractChemical cues regulate key ecological interactions in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. They are particularly important in terrestrial plant–herbivore interactions, where they mediate both herbivore foraging and plant defense. Although well described for terrestrial interactions, the identity and ecological importance of herbivore foraging cues in marine ecosystems remain unknown. Here we show that the specialist gastropod Elysia tuca hunts its seaweed prey, Halimeda incrassata, by tracking 4-hydroxybenzoic acid to find vegetative prey and the defensive metabolite halimedatetraacetate to find reproductive prey. Foraging cues were predicted to be polar compounds but instead were nonpolar secondary metabolites similar to those used by specialist terrestrial insects. Tracking halimedatetraacetate enables Elysia to increase in abundance by 12- to 18-fold on reproductive Halimeda, despite reproduction in Halimeda being rare and lasting for only ∼36 h. Elysia swarm to reproductive Halimeda where they consume the alga’s gametes, which are resource rich but are chemically defended from most consumers. Elysia sequester functional chloroplasts and halimedatetraacetate from Halimeda to become photosynthetic and chemically defended. Feeding by Elysia suppresses the growth of vegetative Halimeda by ∼50%. Halimeda responds by dropping branches occupied by Elysia, apparently to prevent fungal infection associated with Elysia feeding. Elysia is remarkably similar to some terrestrial insects, not only in its hunting strategy, but also its feeding method, defense tactics, and effects on prey behavior and performance. Such striking parallels indicate that specialist herbivores in marine and terrestrial systems can evolve convergent ecological strategies despite 400 million years of independent evolution in vastly different habitats. Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Sea slug found to track seaweed by sniffing its defensive chemicals (2015, September 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2015 Foes can become friends on the coral reef Credit: Australian Museum (—A team of researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology has found that one species of sea slug (Elysia tuca) uses chemicals produced defensively by one type of seaweed (Halimeda incrassata) to track down the seaweed. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study and other behaviors of both the slugs and seaweed they observed.last_img read more

Ancient natural fission reactor offers clues on how to store modern nuclear

first_imgA scanning electron microscope image of uranium ore from the Oklo natural nuclear reactor. Insets show fissionogenic Cs and Ba hotspots. Credit: PNAS © 2018 Trace amounts of isotope from Fukushima disaster found in California wine More information: Evan E. Groopman et al. Discovery of fissionogenic Cs and Ba capture five years after Oklo reactor shutdown, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1807267115AbstractUnderstanding the release and sequestration of specific radioactive signatures into the environment is of extreme importance for long-term nuclear waste storage and reactor accident mitigation. Recent accidents at the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear reactors released radioactive 137Cs and 134Cs into the environment, the former of which is still live today. We have studied the migration of fission products in the Oklo natural nuclear reactor using an isotope imaging capability, the NAval Ultra-Trace Isotope Laboratory’s Universal Spectrometer (NAUTILUS) at the US Naval Research Laboratory. In Oklo reactor zone (RZ) 13, we have identified the most depleted natural U of any known material with a 235U/238U ratio of 0.3655 ± 0.0007% (2σ). This sample contains the most extreme natural burnup in 149Sm, 151Eu, 155Gd, and 157Gd, which demonstrates that it was sourced from the most active Oklo reactor region. We have discovered that fissionogenic Cs and Ba were captured by Ru metal/sulfide aggregates shortly following reactor shutdown. Isochrons from the Ru aggregates place their closure time at 4.98 ± 0.56 y after the end of criticality. Most fissionogenic 135Ba and 137Ba in the Ru migrated and was incorporated as Cs over this period. Excesses in 134Ba in the Ru point to the burnup of 133Cs. Cesium and Ba were retained in the Ru despite local volcanic activity since the reactor shutdown and the high level of activity during reactor operation. A team of researchers from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and Washington University has learned more about possible ways to store modern nuclear waste by studying an ancient natural fission reactor. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes their study of cores taken from the natural Oklo nuclear reactor and what they found. Explore furthercenter_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. As scientists continue to search for new more environmentally friendly ways to produce power, the old ways continue to generate waste. One such source is waste from nuclear power plants. Various options regarding how to store it long term have been discussed, but few have panned out, leaving waste to be temporarily stored onsite. In this new effort, the researchers sought to learn more about what actually happens as nuclear waste decays over its active lifetime. To learn more, they traveled to Gabon, located in West Africa. At a location known as Oklo, there exists the remains of a natural nuclear reactor. Due to a variety of events, the site was the scene of naturally occurring fission approximately 2 billion years ago. The uranium-235 that drove the reactions has long since decayed, but the history of how that occurred remains.To learn more about what happened as the fissionable material decayed, the researchers took core samples and brought them back to their lab, which houses the Naval Ultra Trace Isotope Laboratory’s Universal Spectrometer. There, they were able to piece together the history of the radioactive material as it moved through its elemental states, some of which included isotopes. Of utmost concern was what became of the cesium that was produced as a byproduct of uranium fission. Cesium has been found to be particularly hazardous due to its high degree of radioactivity—it was released into the environment after both the Fukushima and Chernobyl accidents. The researchers found that it was absorbed by an element called ruthenium, approximately five years after the reactor ceased. It was held there in place for almost 2 billion years.The researchers suggest that discovering that cesium had been contained by ruthenium offers some ideas on possible ways to deal with waste produced in modern reactors. They further note that ruthenium is too rare to use, but something like it might do the trick. They plan to investigate further. Citation: Ancient natural fission reactor offers clues on how to store modern nuclear waste (2018, August 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Journal information: Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienceslast_img read more

Going arty in the city

first_imgAU NATURAL!Naturescapes is a solo exhibition of water color paintings by artist Bikash Poddar. The works are about expressions and evocations. They evoke memories in the viewer and these memories take the viewer directly to experiential references as well as artistic references. Bikash’s works, though predominantly naturescapes, feature human figures engaged in conversation. The nature represented is pregnant with tensions that are enshrouded in a tricky calmness. It is almost like the calm before a storm and the dialogue between these two figures, then could be nothing but the precariousness of life; caught in and between situations. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’DETAILDate: 20 March – 15 April Time: 11 am to 7 pmVenue: Pearl Art Gallery 185/k/3 basement Karan PalaceON TRANQUIL GROUNDSTranquility a group show by Shree Yash Art Gallery. This exhibition encompasses various eminent artists and brings them together by captivating a vast range of moods and moments in their respective walks of life.  Tranquility defines keeping oneself free from stress, in this show an array of art would provide you a chance to revive your instincts . The show is putting on display the picturesque landscapes of Dr. Shrotiya, the true to life depictions of Dr. R.C.Bhawsar,the well known Prithvi Soni’s vibrant coloured rajasthani folk classics, Nand Thakur’s myriad abstract forms and Harish Kumar. In the exhibition promotes the freedom from the clutches of the society and expressing art with such dexterity and proficiency that the outcome has to be nothing but tranquil. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixDETAILVenue:  Epicentre Art Gallery, Sector 44, GurgaonDate: 12 – 14 April Time: 11 am – 8 pmDE JA VIEWVisual Polyphony 2 a group exhibition showcasing works of over 32 artists from the Capital cities. Polyphony is music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together. This exhibition showcases works of artists, independent from each other, juxtaposed to create harmony, thereby calling it a Visual Polyphony. Amongst the participating artists, are Ashok Bhowmick, Charan Sharma, M F Husain, Milburn Cherian, Ramesh Gorjala, Rini Dhumal, Samir Mondal, Satish Gujral, Surya Prakash, Thota Vaikuntam, Vijender Sharma, Vrindavan Solanki and Yusuf Arakkal.DETAILDate: 19 March – 28 March Time: 11 am to 7 pmVenue: Shridharani Art Gallery, Triveni Kala Sangamlast_img read more

All performing institutes should come together to create impact

first_imgNational School of Drama (NSD) has an eventful history. How do you think it has evolved over the years?Its almost 55 years since its establishment. It is quite an eventful and glorious organisation, which has started from the scratch and has become one of the reputed institution. As far as the world is considered, in India it is a prime institute, Asia it is a leading institute and far across it is recognised as one of its kind institution.Do you feel NSD is producing the same kind of talent which it used to now? Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’You can’t compare time to time because it changes, life is changing so training is also changing. Nature of entertainment industry is changing and the requirement outside world is changing, so accordingly we modify the training module. Though we have produced great legendary actors, directors, playwrights etc. And we are still committed to the same up till now.With more commercialisation, TV and cinema taking a hold do you think people are still interested in theatre. What’s the trend? Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixSee, it is still there. If you go to states like Maharashtra and West Bengal you would see that theatre personalities are more regarded and respected as compared to TV or cinema. Its still there because the tradition of watching theatre is still alive including going and doing. Though one cant deny that TV and cinema has more reach than theatre because it can easily and freely enter your homes without costing you much. Films can be shown at a time across the world. But theatre still has its magic pertaining to performing themes and its a one to one kind of a medium. How about the Delhi theatre circuit?Delhi theatre is always a developing theatre for me. As I am an alumni of NSD so I am seeing a evolvement since 1979 in the field. It is more of a big junction because plays are coming from different languages are transcripted, adapted, transcreated in English etc. Then most of the experiments happen in Delhi theatre.How have you revitalised the curriculum of NSD including launching of new courses?Its been three months that I have taken this seat. So we are still under the process of doing that. Some of the ideas are launching courses apt with the demand of the entertainment industry. NSD started because there was dearth of training in India as far as theatre is concerned. Now the nature, demand, requirements of theatre is changing including specialisations. So we have to find that approach in future training by branching out. Also introduce courses which are not existing, for example – play writing, children theatre specialisation, art administration, theatre criticism, theatre music and choreography and we are planning to design a course in one and a half year according to primary demands with discussion with faculties and experts.Any plans to collaborate with foreign theatre groups?We want to open the doors for every collaborator who are genuinely concerned with development of theatre. Recently there was a drama troupe from France which wanted to do theatre in the country. Like wise we want to join hands with parallel institutes like Sangeet Natak Academy, Sahitya Academy, so we have to come together to bring about a change in Indian performing culture and devise a programme to bring an impact.Has society given due recognition to theatre artists who have moved to films and TV?In states like Maharashtra and West Bengal there is a sensitivity towards the medium and people have understood the real magic of theatre. There are and will be theatre stars coming into the picture, but since the focus has shifted to TV and films, it is lacking behind. But if you look at Manohar Singh, Uttara Baokar, Utpal Dutt, Shambhu Mitra, Dr Sriram Lagoo. So the basic prime concern of NSD is to promote and project artists who are doing theatre.last_img read more

Shakti Bhatt Foundation invites entries

first_imgIn the year 2012, Naresh Fernandes won the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize for Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, an account of the city’s thriving music scene between the 30s and 60s.While last year editor, critic and author Nilanjana Roy won the prize for her debut novel The Wildings, a startling narrative in which the characters are street cats in Delhi’s Nizamuddin East.The prize covers a wide range of genres, ranging from poetry, fiction (including graphic novels), creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism) to drama. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Books published between June 2013 and June 2014 are eligible to participate and publishers and individual writers should send in their books by 15 July. The winners will be announced in November and will get a cash award of one lakh and a trophy at a ceremony in Delhi in December.Authors from the subcontinent are also eligible for the award, but their books must be published in India. The publication must be in English or translated into English from an Indian language.last_img read more

Laugh and roll the Australian way

first_imgBringing the giggles and chortle all the way from Australia, Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF) presents MICF Roadshow India and Raw Comedy 2014, an All-Star Roadshow line-up that promised to brings big laughs to India.  The event is being held from 7 to 22  November in Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata and for its final phase it has come to the capital. The shows will be held on 18 and 19 November at the Fat Lulu in Vasant Vihar and on 21 and 22 November at the Delhi’s Summer House Café. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’MICF is the third largest comedy festival in the world. It has been brought to India by Teamwork Arts. In the recent years, Teamwork Arts and MICF have successfully created a renowned platform for budding Indian comics to showcase their talent in the MIFC Raw comedy. The winner of MICF Raw comedy gets a chance to perform at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in Australia on an all-expense paid trip in April 2015.  This November sees RAW Comedy India Season 3 roll out with heats in Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and is now in  Delhi. Raw Comedy Heats will be hosted by Raghav Mandava. When : 18-22 nov. Where: Fat Lulu and Summer House Cafelast_img read more

Russian Consul General speaks on IndoRussia ties

first_imgKolkata: Consul General of the Russian Federation in Kolkata, Alexey M Idamkin highlighted several areas of mutual co-operation between India and Russia while addressing a Special Session on ‘The Current and Future Perspectives of Russia-India Relations and interaction between the two Countries’ organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce at its premises on Monday.India-Russia bilateral trade exceeded US$ 8 billion in the period between January and November, 2017, registering a 21 percent increase than the trade for the same period in 2016. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flights”The bilateral trade volume is expected to reach $30 billion and investments by $15 billion by 2025″, stated Idamkin.Speaking on bilateral investments, Idamkin highlighted that Rosneft’s $12.9 billion acquisition of Essar Oil in India is by far the largest institutional investment that India has receivedfrom Russia.Sharma highlighted that the establishment of the International North-South Transport Corridor will benefit trade and investment between the two countries which do not share common land borders.last_img read more

A new answer to maths puzzle

first_imgFrom simple numeracy to category theory (the mathematics of mathematics), maths crusader Eugenia Cheng prescribes easy recipes for understanding complex arithmetic in her book Cake, Custard and Category Theory.Calling on a baker’s dozen of entertaining, puzzling examples and mathematically illuminating culinary analogies — including chocolate brownies, iterated Battenberg cakes, sandwiches, Yorkshire puddings and Mobius bagels — Cheng tells readers why everyone should love maths. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’So what on earth does a recipe have to do with maths? “You might think that rice cookers are for cooking rice. This is true, but this same piece of equipment can be used for other things as well like making clotted cream, cooking vegetables and steaming a chicken. Likewise, maths is about numbers, but it’s about many things as well like getting the right answer, putting ideas together and so on,” she says in the book, published by Hachette India.According to Cheng, a senior lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, many people are either afraid of maths, or baffled by it, or both. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“Or they were completely turned off it by their lessons at school. I understand this. I was completely turned off sport by my lessons at school, and have never really recovered. I was so bad at sport at school, my teachers were incredulous that anybody so bad at sport could exist. And yet I’m quite fit now, and I have even run the New York marathon,” she writes.She says ‘category theory’ which can be thought of as the ‘mathematics of mathematics’ is about relationships, contexts, processes, principles, structures, cakes and custard. “Yes, even custard. Because mathematics is about drawing analogies, including custard, cake, pie, pastry, doughnuts, bagels, mayonnaise, yoghurt, lasagne and sushi.” Maths, according to Cheng, like recipes, has both ingredients and method. “And just as a recipe would be a bit useless if it omitted the method, we can’t understand what maths is unless we talk about the way it is done, not just the things it studies,” she says. Citing examples of cottage, shepherd and fishermen pies, she says all these are more or less the same with the only difference being the filling that is sitting underneath the mashed potato topping. In all these cases, the recipe is not a full recipe but a blueprint and one can insert own choice of fruit or meat or fillings.“This is also how maths works. The idea of maths is to look for similarities between things so that you only need one ‘recipe’ for many different situations. The key is that when you ignore some details, the situations become easier to understand, and you can fill in the variables later,” she writes.Cheng is keen to bring mathematics to a wider audience and help reduce maths phobia. Good at explaining things in an accessible way to non-mathematicians of all ages, her first book was called How to Bake Pi, in which she provides an accessible introduction to the logic and beauty of mathematics, powered, unexpectedly, by insights from the kitchen. At the heart of How to Bake Pi also was Cheng’s work on category theory.last_img read more

Two new weekly Humsafar Express

first_imgKolkata: The city will soon get two new weekly Humsafar Express trains, increasing its rail connectivity with Pune and Jabalpur, a South Eastern Railway spokesman said here today. SER will introduce one pair of weekly superfast Humsafar Express between Santragachi and Jabalpur from August 8 and another pair between Santragachi and Pune from August 11, spokesman Sanjay Ghosh said. The 20828 Santragachi-Jabalpur Humsafar Express will leave Santragachi every Wednesday at 8.25 pm and reach Jabalpur the next day at 3.55 pm. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life In the return direction, the 20827 Humsafar Express will leave Jabalpur every Thursday at 8.55 pm and arrive at Santragachi the next day at 4.45 pm, he said. The train will consist of 16 AC three-tier coaches and two luggage vans and will stop at Kharagpur, Tatanagar, Rourkela, Jharsuguda, Raigarh, Bilaspur, Shadol and Katni South stations between Santragachi and Jabalpur. The 20822 Santragachi-Pune Humsafar Express will leave Santragachi every Saturday at 6.25 pm and will reach Pune every Monday at 02.45 am. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed In the return direction, the 20821 Humsafar Express will depart Pune every Monday at 10.30 am and will arrive at Santragachi the next day at 6.15 pm. This train will also consist of 16 AC three-tier coaches and two luggage vans and will stop at Kharagpur, Tatanagar, Chakradharpur, Jharsuguda, Bilaspur, Raipur, Durg, Gondia, Nagpur, Bhusawal, Kalyan and Panvel stations between Santragachi and Pune, Ghosh said.last_img read more

Caffeine during pregnancy not bad for babys IQ

first_imgTaking caffeine in moderate amounts during pregnancy does not cause any harm to child’s intelligence, says a study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.The research, one of the first studies to focus on how in utero caffeine exposure affects a child’s future intelligence (IQ) and behaviour later in childhood, found caffeine did not lead to a reduced IQ or increased behavioral problems. “We did not find evidence of an adverse association of maternal pregnancy caffeine consumption with child cognition or behaviour at four or seven years of age,” said principal investigator Mark A Klebanoff. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Researchers analysed a marker of caffeine in the blood of 2,197 expectant mothers who took part in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, conducted at multiple sites in the US in 1959-74. According to the researchers, this was an era when coffee consumption during pregnancy was more prevalent than today, as there was little concern regarding the safety of caffeine. Researchers looked at the association between a chemical called paraxanthine, caffeine’s primary metabolite, at two points in pregnancy. Researchers found there were no consistent patterns between maternal caffeine ingestion and the development and behaviour of those children at those points in their lives. “Taken as a whole, we consider our results to be reassuring for pregnant women who consume moderate amounts of caffeine or the equivalent to 1 or 2 cups of coffee per day,” said co-author Sarah Keim.last_img read more

Summer fruits for glowing skin hair

first_imgWhile one must be gorging on summer fruits like watermelon and papaya to beat the heat, it can also help to know that these can be used in battling skin and hair woes, say experts. Among many other nutritional benefits that these fruits offer, they are also particularly beneficial for the health of one’s skin and hair, besides being low on calories.* Watermelon: The seeds of watermelon are just as beneficial, if not more, than the fruit. Watermelon contains several antioxidants that help defy the signs of ageing on the skin and, therefore, making it look firmer, younger and healthier. Moreover, the seeds of the fruit contain unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid that keep the skin elastic and youthful. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfMost people tend to think that the benefit that fruits provide to the skin and hair is best accrued when these fruits are applied directly on to the skin/hair rather than eating them. However, it is important to clarify that the best way to reap the benefits of fruits and vegetables for good skin and hair is to incorporate them in our diet. Of course, there are many ways in which you can use fruits topically as face packs or hair masks, but do not think that that will make a good enough substitute for consuming them. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsive* Pineapple: It is a low-calorie fruit that is rich in fibre. It boosts the production of collagen. Moreover, it helps the skin to shed damaged and dead cells, thereby promoting a clear and healthy complexion. Pineapple is also beneficial for the skin as its antioxidants fight the signs of free-radical damage to the skin. Making this fruit part of your daily diet will reduce the signs of ageing and the appearance of fine lines on your skin.* Papaya: It is perhaps one of the most well-known fruits when it comes to skin care. It is a common ingredient in many skin care products as it is a rich source of Vitamin C. It also contains carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. Together, these nutrients do wonders for the skin. They help protect the skin against free-radical damage, which results in wrinkles and other signs of ageing. When used directly on the face and body, papaya helps improve the texture and the appearance of the skin. * Grapefruit: It is a great but often neglected citrus fruit for the summer season. It has the highest concentration of Vitamin C, necessary for the production of collagen in the skin. Grapefruit extracts are commonly used in skin and hair care products to help reduce conditions such as dandruff and acne.Besides fruits, there are other ways to work towards fresh and glowing skin:* Water: An increasing graph in water consumption is always healthy. Apart from keeping us hydrated internally and maintaining the skin moisture level, it also prevents wrinkle in the long run. Drink your way to a healthy skin with at least eight to nine glasses a day.* Organic ingredients: Beetroot, tamarind, sea buckthorn oil and hyaluronic acid are the top notch dry skincare ingredients that will leave your skin feeling soft and supple. Not a regular household name, the sea buckthorn extract is high in vitamin E. It penetrates deep into the layers of skin increasing water retention, regenerating skin and softening tissues at the same time. Another lesser known hydrating ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which unlike other elements works wonders on every skin type and creates fullness leading to a healthy younger looking skin.* Night cream: Nights are the best time to up your moisturising ante, as you can dab a little extra of those nourishing moisturisers without having to worry about being seen with a greasy face. Since night creams do not contain SPF, they are often heavier and hence more hydrating. Night creams are designed to battle fine lines, wrinkles and reduce skin imperfections while we snooze away.IANSlast_img read more

Dont blindly conform to rules

first_imgIn the contemporary era, where we are talking about women empowerment, feminism and gender equality, women still have to fight the stereotypes attached to the gender. Despite reaching the moon, the outlook of society has not changed towards women.Let’s know what women actually want, but end up following this ‘book of unreasonable rules’: Don’t wear short clothes: This is the most common obligation often put on women. Wearing short clothes gives a negative impression of a girl’s character, as said by many people in society. They believe that if a woman is wearing short clothes – she is inviting men around her to take advantage of her body. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfDon’t abuse/ use cuss words: If you are a girl, people would stare at you with their pupil coming off their eyes if you say any cuss word. Though men in this world can name mothers and sisters in abusive words…but an ‘f’ word can bring all the disgrace if you utter it. Don’t smoke/drink: Never ever think you can match the standards of patriarchy in this society. Certain things/zones are meant for men only, and if a women dares to enter that zone, she will always be judged. For example, smoking or drinking – it is substance abuse which normally anyone can be addicted to. But if you ask the society, they would gulp the thought and rather question you. Also, when it comes to drinking, have you followed the pattern this world tries to follow – by distinguishing between lady’s drinks and drinks for men. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveDon’t party late: What if you are a strong independent woman? You can’t stay late outside. Remember, always reach home before it is dark. Don’t travel alone: This one is my favourites on the list. When my Instagram was full of all the guys posting pictures of their solo trips – ‘discovering themselves’, My family on the other hand believed that going on a solo trip isn’t safe for a girl. So, ladies, no trips for us? Don’t find a job with odd timings: You might have often heard people saying that for girls it is best to have either a teaching job or a government job – because of its fixed timings. It is usually believed that girls working in the corporate sector or odd timings can have trouble managing work and home after they are married. Do you want to continue your job and marry a teacher rather? Besides following the above mentioned list of rules, women are usually expected to work every single day to meet the ‘standards’ set by the society. But someone rightly said that ‘Rules are meant to be broken, and especially so when they are illogical and insensible. So, cross the boundaries, set your own limits, be who you are and define your own identity. This Women’s Day, let’s question the society that why are women always asked to adjust and compromise? Why should only women be careful in what they say or do? And, most importantly, why should women follow the list of do’s and don’ts. If at all somebody needs these rules, it’s the men of our society. Don’t stare at girls wearing short clothes, Don’t make a girl uncomfortable, Don’t judge a girl if she is smoking, Don’t put unnecessary restrictions. It’s time to change the rule book!last_img read more

Be alive and get a taste of heaven through Yoga Spirituality Grand

first_imgWith a mission to bring people to a higher consciousness of living, Grand Master started his journey in the year 2011 from the Himalayan Mountains. Yoga must reach the people who are disconnected from its source in an authentic yet adaptive manner.” I understood that yoga must be given to people in such a way that it will easily settle into their everyday lives. I thus began Akshar yoga as the overview brand name for all the various forms of yoga that are provided in their true form such as Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga , Ashtanga yoga and also the innovative forms of yoga such as Power yoga, Wheel yoga, Aerial yoga, etc. Each of these formats is clearly segregated and taught separately with a completely worked out syllabus and curriculum that gives you true and accurate information, thus forming what is today, Akshar Yoga.” he explains. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfWith the training of complete knowledge in so many fields, Grand Master Akshar says, “it is a prerequisite to be entrepreneur, innovator, motivational or a Guru. I am an entrepreneur when it comes to bringing Yoga to the masses, an innovator when it comes to making yoga new, challenging and appropriate for people of this day and age, a Motivational speaker for those who need a shoulder to lean on during tough times, a Life coach to my students and others who look up to me and all these sums up to a Guru.” Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveAs an innovator Grand Master always tries to invent something new while staying true and authentic to its teachings and benefits. Few of his innovations are – Akshar Yoga Wheel: A yoga prop that helps heal the body and also enhance yoga practice with the use of a circular shaped device that supports the body during the practice of asanas. AY Aerial Yoga: It is a form of innovation where a hammock suspends the practitioner in air while they experience yoga from a completely different perspective. The body remains supported by the specially designed hammock while they are free to practice asanas and movements to further explore their bodies. Super Brain Power Yoga: An innovation based purely on tradition. It is the channelizing of various practices and teachings within yoga for the benefit and growth of the mind. It has been separately choreographed for children and adults bearing in mind the different functioning, activity, use and growth of the brain. Grand Master has also trained yoga teachers all over the world and has had the pleasure of training some exceptional beings who are each becons in their respective fields. There have been Corporate industry giants, Athletes and celebrities like Anil Valluri, Wido Manhardt, Babita Phogat, Matthew Hayden, Sunil Gavaskar to name a few. He suggests everyone to acquire knowledge and act accordingly. Once filled with the appropriate information to pursue dreams, do not wait or stand idle and wait for things to happen but charge ahead and make them happen for you.last_img read more

Your walking habits may predict future mobility problems

first_imgResearchers have found that being able to walk outside for several blocks at a leisurely pace plays an important role in living a vibrant, healthy life and may also predict future mobility problems. The recently published study shows that being able to walk at even a slow speed is essential for these benefits, but walking too slowly may foreshadow future problems that could prevent a person from being fully mobile. Researchers assessed ways to measure complex walking tasks to learn more about early, subtle changes in walking. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfIt was found that slow walking speed under both usual-pace and complex conditions was associated with greater risk for developing mobility disability. Participants who reported having mobility disability were more likely to be female, have diabetes, be obese, have knee pain and experience breathing difficulty. They also had more symptoms of depression, researchers said. Researchers analysed information from the Health Aging and Body Composition study which enrolled black and white adults in the US from 1997 to 1998. The 337 participants were 70 to 79 years old, and had no difficulty walking a quarter mile or climbing 10 steps without resting. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveDuring the course of the study, participants walked on several different paths and were given several different challenges to measure their walking speed and their ability to cope with mental and physical tasks at the same time. Researchers then followed up with participants every six months to see if they had any difficulty walking one-quarter mile due to a health or physical problem. The researchers concluded that measuring your simple walking speed may be enough to learn whether you might be at risk for future mobility problems.last_img read more

The 5 Most Famous Historical Accounts of Werewolf Sightings

first_imgSpooks, goblins, and creatures of various sorts have always been a part of human consciousness, although these days we tend to view them with both fascination and disbelief. Still, there are plenty of people who are firm believers in supernatural monsters, and centuries ago there were even more.Below are five stories dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, featuring historical accounts of one of the monsters we still love to fear – werewolves.Peter Stubbe, the werewolf farmer of Bedburg, 1589According to Peter Stubbe, a farmer in the Rhineland, lived just outside of the town of Bedburg during a time when there was a huge amount of political and religious upheaval.The part of Germany where Stubbe lived had been laid waste during the Cologne War between Catholics and Protestants.Now citizens of the town were being killed, and rumors began to circulate about a wolf-like creature roaming around killing both people and livestock.Composite woodcut print by Lukas Mayer of the execution of Peter Stumpp in 1589 at Bedburg near Cologne.It was described as “greedy… strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like unto brands of fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body and mighty paws.”People lived in increasing fear of the creature, traveling in heavily armed groups when they had to go from one town to another, and each newly discovered victim would only increase that fear.Attempts were made for several years to capture and kill the monster but with no success — until 1589 when a group of men managed to track the creature and encircle it with their dogs.When the hunters closed in they found not a wolf, but Stubbe. It’s not clear whether the townsmen actually saw Stubbe transform, or if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but he was captured.When the hunters closed in they found not a wolf, but Stubbe.Stubbe was tortured and confessed to killing one man, two pregnant women, and thirteen children. According to a pamphlet circulated in London the next year, he further told his captors that he had made a pact with the devil when he was 12-years-old, exchanging his soul for various worldly pleasures.Stubbe didn’t feel this was enough incentive on its own, so Satan gave him a belt that allowed him to turn into a wolf. He used it to commit any number of atrocities, including incest, murder, and cannibalism.Woodcut of a werewolf attack.He was executed on October 31, 1589, horribly and gruesomely. He was lashed to a wheel while the flesh was torn from him with heated pincers, all his limbs were broken, he was decapitated, and as a final step, his body was burned.His mistress and daughter were also accused of incest and were burned alive. Stubbe’s head was mounted on the body of a wolf and set in public as a warning to others who might be considering lycanthropy.Gilles Garnier, 1573, The Werewolf of reports that Gilles Garnier lived outside the French town of Dole and was essentially a hermit.A while after Garnier’s residence began, children from the town began to disappear or to turn up dead, mutilated and dissected.Drawing of a werewolf.Local law authorities concluded it must be the work of a werewolf and encouraged the citizenry to be on the lookout for, and to hunt, the wolf. A group of men from near Dole were doing just that when they spotted what appeared to be a werewolf looming over the body of a child.When they came close enough, they saw that it wasn’t a wolf, it was the hermit, Garnier. Likely after torture, he confessed at his trial, saying he had been visited by a ghost or demon which had given him an ointment that would turn him into a wolf.Werewolf. Photo by Martin Grondin CC BY SA 2.0He confessed to killing and eating several children who had ventured into the woods and said he shared the meat with his wife. Garnier was found guilty of witchcraft and lycanthropy and was burned at the stake.Jacques Roulet, 1598, The Werewolf of AngersAccording to Mental Floss, what information is known about Jacques Roulet comes from an 1865 account from Sabine Baring-Gould.Reportedly, in 1598, some men had come upon the mutilated body of a boy in the woods. Two wolves were spotted tearing at the body, but took off as the men approached.Sabine Baring-Gould, engraving published in Strand Magazine, from a photograph by Downey (died 1881).The men pursued the wolves, following their bloody tracks until they lost them. At the same time, the men spotted Roulet, bloody and half-naked, crouching in the woods nearby.Roulet was captured and arrested. He confessed to the murder and said that he had a salve that turned him into a wolf. He further said that the boy wasn’t his first such crime, and that he had killed and eaten others.Werewolf in Geneva (1580).Roulet’s confession was unusual, in that there’s no evidence that he gave it under torture.He made no claims to witchcraft or of having made a deal with the devil. He was convicted of murder, cannibalism, and lycanthropy, and was sentenced to death.His case was appealed though, and he ended up being determined feeble-minded. He was instead sentenced to undergo religious education for two years and sent to an asylum.The Werewolves of Poligny, 1521This story involved a group. According to, the story begins with a traveler passing through the French town of Poligny who was attacked by a wolf. The traveler fought the beast, wounding it and causing it to flee.The man followed the blood trail left by the injured beast, and it led him to the door of a house in which a woman was binding her husband’s injured arm. The traveler was suspicious, and he reported the entire incident to the authorities who captured the man and tortured him.The Werewolf Howls.Michel Verdun confessed that he was a shapeshifter. He also confessed to murder, cannibalism, and trafficking with the devil. Lastly, he named two other men who were also shapeshifters, Pierre Bourgot and Philibert Montot.The two named men were brought in for questioning, and Bourgot confessed also, to shapeshifting and to committing some other pretty heinous crimes.WerewolfMental Floss expands on Bourgot’s confession, saying Bourgot told of making a deal with three mysterious strangers to protect his sheep.Bourgot claimed he was told only later that the deal included renouncing God, and that he received the ointment from Verdun which allowed him to shapeshift, and the two men jointly killed at least two children. It’s not known for certain if Montot also confessed, but it is known that he was executed with other two men.The Wolf of Ansbach, 1685In 1685, Ansbach in Germany was part of the Holy Roman Empire. The district was faced with an actual wolf which was killing and eating their livestock and eventually made the step up to killing people.The terrified citizens were certain that not only was the culprit a werewolf, but that the wolf was really the town’s former mayor (who is never named in the accounts, but is clearly disliked), back from the dead, in the form of a wolf.A hunting party went after the wolf with a number of dogs and drove the wolf into a well where it was killed. The citizens, still firmly believing that the animal was a werewolf, cut off the wolf’s nose, put the mask of a human face on it, dressed it in men’s clothing, and hung it from a pole, presumably as a warning to any other werewolves who might consider that area a good hunting ground.Read another story from us: The ‘Dogman’ of Michigan: A Legend with More Sightings than BigfootThese days, we hear of werewolves primarily in movies, and they are sometimes feared, sometimes pitied. Either way, when the movie is done, the werewolf question is resolved. Long ago, in days before movies, the fear of werewolves was not so easily resolved, and being suspected of lycanthropy was a sure sentence of torture and death.last_img read more

Roller Coasters were First Invented to Distract People from Immoral Behavior

first_imgRiding roller coasters is one of the world’s most popular amusement pastimes. People will sometimes wait for hours to ride the newest thrill ride or an old classic. There are many reasons that people ride and love roller coasters: they enjoy the speed, the seeming danger, and like a little kid riding a wagon a bit too fast on a curved side-walk, they like being scared.Oddly enough, none of these things were the primary reason for the invention of the roller-coaster. The thing that motivated the inventor of the roller coaster in the late 1800s was immorality.St. Petersburg, Russia, amusement park Divo Ostrov, August 2017.Believing that America was both creating and rushing into a den of iniquity, LaMarcus Adna Thompson was on the lookout for a past-time that would draw Americans away from the taverns, gambling and dancing halls, and brothels that were becoming increasingly popular as the nation grew more and more prosperous after the Civil War.Gambling at the Orient Saloon in Bisbee, Arizona, c.1900. Photograph by C.S. Fly.Born in Ohio and later moving to Elkhart, Indiana, Thompson had invented a device to manufacture seamless ladies stockings and other hosiery. This business and his patent made Thompson a rich man. He retired early, due to poor health, earning money from his patent.LaMarcus Adna ThompsonThompson was an intensely religious man, and like many Americans of the time, he was concerned that the increasingly wealthy and urban culture developing in the country was a decidedly bad influence. He wanted to do something about it.On a pleasure trip to the relaxing hills of Pennsylvania, Thompson was inspired by something very different than women’s hosiery.At the oddly named town of Mauch Chunk in the eastern part of the state, Thompson came across people riding an old mining railway – for fun.Mauch Chunk and Summit Hill Switchback Railroad, looking down on the boat landings at Mauch Chunk.The Mauch Chunk railway had been constructed to transport coal to the nearby docks on the Lehigh River and then onto the steel mills of Bethlehem.The railway had been converted to a vacation experience when the coal mines of the area began to fade. In the early 1800s the railway was nine miles long and mules were used to pull coal carts up nearby Mt. Pisgah.Mount Pisgah with the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway.Later in the 19th century, the railway was expanded to some eighteen miles, and the mules were replaced with a steam engine. However, most of the length of the track was a gravity-powered switchback.The cars rolled down the track at speeds that sometimes far exceeded the speed of a running horse or a train – remember, these were the days before cars and planes: nothing man-made moved that fast.For the people visiting the hills around Mauch Chunk, the railway was a thrill. Some people called it “harrowing,” because at the end there was a 600-plus foot “drop.” That drop was more like a slope, but there was nothing comparable at the time. By the time LaMarcus Thompson visited, tourists paid one dollar (not cheap for the time) for a ride on the railway, which took 80 minutes to complete.Thompson’s Switchback Railway, 1884.This gave Thompson his idea. He drew up plans for a smaller version of the switchback railway he had seen.It would include a couple of features that he had seen in Pennsylvania, like the “train” cars themselves, and a ratchet system to prevent the trains from rolling backward. He designed the now familiar wooden frame structure and patented his idea.The first Thompson “roller coaster” was built in the spring of 1884, at Coney Island, New York. Established as a resort area in the first part of the 1800s, by the time the Civil War ended, Coney Island had theaters, a racetrack, restaurants, and to the delight of many who thought differently from Thompson, many taverns and bordellos.Coney Island beach, amusement park, and high rises as seen from the pier in June 2016. Photo by MusikAnimal CC BY SA 4.0While not legal, these “Houses of Pleasure” were mostly tolerated with a knowing wink, as long as things were kept properly discreet and orderly.Thompson chose Coney Island for precisely this reason.His “Switchback Railway” would keep people out in the fresh air, out of the taverns and brothels, and keep families together.Loop the Loop, Coney Island, 1903.The price of a ticket was a nickel. There is some debate about the top speed, but it was less than ten miles per hour. Again, other than a horse (which few people in Coney Island had ever ridden) and a closed-in train, ten miles an hour was fast.There were no cars, no planes, and few people at the time owned bicycles. The elevation of Thompson’s original ride was fifty feet and it was six hundred feet long.Starting at the top, the cars rode down the length of the track, which included a couple of small dips.Looping the Loop, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, 1900.At the other end, gravity carried the riders up another hill, and they then returned to their starting point. Two train cars would be operating at the same time.Within three weeks, Thompson was making some six hundred dollars a day — the equivalent of fifteen-thousand a day today! Within a short time, Thompson was making improvements and patented them. Soon others were developing their own switchback railways.Many of them increased the speed, which made them popular. Thompson’s amusements, which he began to build across the country, did gradually increase speed as well, but Thompson focused on adding novelties: tunnels, lights, fake mountains, “scenery” next to the track, etc.The interior of Space Mountain at Walt Disney World Resort’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida. Photo by WillMcC CC BY-SA 3.0The popular Space Mountain ride at Disney World with its dark tunnels and flashing lights is a direct descendant of Thompson’s first rides.The term “roller coaster” came into vogue in the late 1880s, most likely taken from the name of a type of winter ride which featured a toboggan on rollers which was pulled to the top of a snowy hill, much like Thompson’s railway.In actual fact, Thompson was not the inventor of the roller coaster. Similar gravity rides had existed for a short time in France before Thompson’s ride, but never quite took and soon were a thing of the past.Read another story from us: The Sneaky Ways America First Lured Innovative Thinkers and Industries to its ShoresBy the time he died at the age of 71 in 1919, Thompson was a very rich man. Millions of people were riding his rides and having the time of their lives – well, almost…Thompson’s rides never quite replaced bars and bordellos.last_img read more