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Music of the gods……..

Pandit Jasraj, who passed away in New Jersey aged 90, was one of the last great Hindustani classical vocalists. Birbal My Brother, a nondescript film released in 1975, has a jugalbandhi of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Jasraj. For years, admirers have argued over who fared better in this rare Malkauns: Joshi, the Kirana gharana legend or Jasraj, the Mewati gharana master who was eight years junior to Joshi? There is no conclusive answer because both the musicians refused to confine themselves in their gharanas and included what they liked in other schools to embellish their own personal styles.

Like Joshi, Jasraj too didn’t consider music an elite art. He added elements of the thumri to the khayal, giving the latter more malleability and making it more audience-friendly. This would have been considered blasphemous half a century ago, when the khayal was serious business and the bandish would be sung with a certain indifference. He brought haveli sangeet to the stage and introduced Jasrangi — the male-female duet in different ragas — in concert platforms. He also added bhajans to his repertoire, which enabled him to reach a wider audience.

His initial training was in tabla. But when a senior musician questioned his knowledge of music by saying he only “pounded dead flesh”, a hurt Jasraj decided to master vocal music. And master he did. The audience loved him. How could he, drawn to music in his childhood by the voice of the great Begum Akhtar, not be sensitive to his audience? He was friendly with them, never high strung and impatient, unlike many of his illustrious contemporaries. He would oblige their farmaish and sing popular pieces such as Mata Kalika and Mero Allah Meherbaan. His singing evoked the feeling of being in a place of worship, a space with a heightened level of energy, where God sat with us and listened to the music in admiration.

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Sketch (5)…..

By Ankit lamba
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History of Vaccines…….

Edward Jenner, born in mid-18th century England, would eventually become one of the most famous scientists in medical history and the so-named “Father of Immunology.” After observing that cowpox infection seemed to protect humans against smallpox, Jenner inoculated an eight-year-old boy with cowpox matter from a blister on the hand of an English milkmaid. He then repeatedly attempted to “challenge” the cowpox inoculation by exposing the boy to smallpox material—but the boy never fell ill. Jenner had demonstrated smallpox immunization.

Jenner’s method of vaccination against smallpox grew in popularity and eventually replaced variolation, which had been the standard before his demonstration. In the latter part of the 20th century, about 150 years after Jenner’s death in 1823, smallpox would be making its last gasps. It would eventually be eradicated after a massive surveillance and vaccination program—thanks largely to the initial efforts of the Father of Immunology.

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Saving a tree….

A community banded together to resurrect a 200-year-old Banyan in Goa, and showed the way

For decades, Class 7 students across India have been taught that “only God can make a tree”. But the poem by Joyce Kilmer, included in the NCERT textbook, forgot to add that if enough people get together, they can bring one back to life. In Goa, as this paper reported, people from across the country and the world banded together to resurrect a fallen banyan tree. The tree was uprooted during a storm and thought to be dead. After much coordination, fundraising and multiple efforts, it was put back into place earlier this week. The dendrophiles involved in reviving “The Source” (as it is called by people who dance under and near it), are a diverse group — the owner of the land on which it sits, a local construction crew, experts who flew down from as far as Hyderabad, and people who had visited the site from across the world who donated money.

There is an intrinsic value to the 200-year-old tree — by sheer virtue of its size, it is a small ecosystem unto itself. But its true value, the reason so many people from such diverse backgrounds banded together to save it, is that it had become an organic part of the community. Apart from being home to a snake, the resting place for a bull and many other insects, birds and animals, it served as a source of income for the owner: She charged a modest fee for the tourists and expats who gathered around it. The “community” that led the restoration effort was bound together by the memories, stories, dance and music — culture, really — fostered around the giant banyan.

There is a lesson in the resurrection. Too often, “nature” is seen in opposition to people. The banyan at Arambol is just one tree. But perhaps, at a time when much of the world is isolated, it can serve as an example of how to build a better world, with people, not despite them.

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Formless infinite principle……

In the tenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, the glories of the Lord that had been spoken of in the seventh and also in the ninth chapters are explained further. Repeated references are for the sake of reinforcing the mysterious and mystic aspects of the Lord’s infinite glories that are shown here to be only a mere speck of what remains unknown and unfathomable, pointed out Swamini Satyavratananda in a discourse. As one tries to meditate on the Lord’s Vibhuti, the upasana gets strengthened gradually. The most striking aspect of His glories is the inherent dual aspect, the manifest and the unmanifest forms He assumes. The manifestation is for the sake of His devotees who are keen to know more about Him. In fact, it is possible to invoke the Infinite God even in a small handmade mould of Haridra Kumkum.null

God is always available to His bhaktas in whatever form they wish. When He appears as Rama, Krishna or Devi, it is to be understood that these are forms of the one and eternal ‘changeless, formless, infinite principle.’ These forms are aids to realisation as in the case of Saint Thyagaraja’s Rama bhakti or in the case of Meera Bai who shines in her Krishna bhakti.

Their devotion makes them perceive the eternal Lord in their Ishta devata with whom they are able to converse with ease. The Purana stories are to be interpreted as symbolic of higher truths with the help of sastra knowledge even as they are storehouses of moral values for the common man to imbibe. The puranas try to capture the infinite principle in tangible terms even as a picture that captures a memorable moment is only a version of the reality. One has to seek beyond the representation that speaks of a Ravana with ten heads, or of a physical destination such as Vaikunta or Kailasa

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Nikola Tesla and Tesla Tower…..

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The tower went 187 feet up into the sky. The base was framed with wood, but the giant ball on top, 68 feet in diameter, was made of steel. In the ground below, there were said to be tunnels and an “iron root system” that went deep into earth. Nikola Tesla, the inventor and engineer who helped electrify America, believed the tower was the start of a system that could deliver electricity, without wires, to the whole world.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Tesla had become famous for his work on AC power. But he had other big ideas. At his laboratory in Colorado, he had conducted experiments with wireless transmission, trying to send electricity through the ground. His notes on this work are hard to draw conclusions from. But it seems that in at least one instance he had some success. At the very least, he came back east convinced that he could make this idea a reality, on a much larger scale.

After shopping his idea around to the some of the richest men in the world, Tesla secured backing—a solid $150,000—from J.P. Morgan. The investor was most interested in the idea of wireless communication: Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor, had recently been demonstrating his system for wireless telegraphy, sending messages from ships back to land. But Tesla had bigger ideas.Wardenclyffe wireless station shown in 1904, and a portrait of Tesla, c. 1900. 

Construction began in 1901 in Long Island on what would become known as Wardenclyffe Tower. Tesla imagined that it would be the beginning of a network of towers, 30 at least, around the world. He believed that these towers would allow him to send electricity through the atmosphere, which anyone with the correct equipment could tap into. Electric power would be ubiquitous. He would make “the whole of this globe…quiver.”

This idea was never going to work: The scientific theories that underlay Tesla’s dream would later be pulled apart. Electricity can be transmitted through the air, but the amount of power needed to send any substantial amount makes this an extremely impractical system. But even to try it, Tesla needed more money, which Morgan was unwilling to provide. There were reports of sparks flying from the tower once or twice, but for the most part it remained a hulking metal orb of mysterious purpose.

After financing dried up, Tesla mortgaged the property and eventually, as his financial troubles grew deeper, he lost it altogether. In 1917, the new owner, trying to recoup some value, had the tower dynamited down and converted into scrap metal. After the first blast, the tower listed to the side and remained tilting towards the ground, a failed experiment, until the workers pulled it down.

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How to spot an original thinker and become one……

‘Know that being quick to start but slow to finish can boost your creativity,’ says organisational psychologist Adam Grant.

Adam Grant is an organisational psychologist, and in his TED talk, he illustrates the surprising features of original thinkers, and teaches us how to be more like them. Speaking about ‘originals’, he says, “Originals are nonconformists, people who not only have new ideas but take action to champion them. They are people who stand out and speak up. Originals drive creativity and change in the world.”

Through multiple experiments and surveys as an organisational psychologist, he reveals he found three distinguishing habits of original thinkers. The first feature is that most original thinkers are procrastinators. He says, “Procrastinating is a vice when it comes to productivity, but it can be a virtue for creativity. What you see with a lot of great originals is that they are quick to start but they’re slow to finish.”

Secondly, original thinkers, too, have doubts and fears, but these help them to revise and improve upon their initial ideas. And lastly, Grant says, “If you look across fields, the greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most.” Throughout history, original thinkers are known to have thought of several different ideas, out of which a small amount were absolutely groundbreaking.

“So if you put all this together, what you see is that originals are not that different from the rest of us. They feel fear and doubt. They procrastinate. They have bad ideas. And sometimes, it’s not in spite of those qualities but because of them that they succeed.”

“Know that being quick to start but slow to finish can boost your creativity, that you can motivate yourself by doubting your ideas and embracing the fear of failing to try, and that you need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones,” he concludes

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U.N. reiterates call for global ceasefire in view of COVID-19 outbreak…..

The UN chief said support for his March 23 ceasefire appeal from governments, regional organizations, armed groups, civil society and individuals throughout the world has been encouraging – but he said in many instances challenges in implementing the ceasefire still need to be overcome.

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres. File

The United Nations secretary-general is again urging factions in conflict to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.null

In a report to the UN Security Council released on Thursday, Antonio Guterres pointed to the more than 20,000 civilians killed or injured in 2019 attacks in 10 countries – and millions more forced from their homes by fighting.

He said the pandemic is the greatest test the world has faced since the United Nations was established 75 years ago and has already had a severe impact on efforts to protect civilians, especially in conflict-affected countries where weak health care systems can be overwhelmed.

The UN chief said support for his March 23 ceasefire appeal from governments, regional organizations, armed groups, civil society and individuals throughout the world has been encouraging – but he said in many instances challenges in implementing the ceasefire still need to be overcome.null

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Einstein’s scientific legacy……….

Einstein’s legacy in physics is significant. Here are some of the key scientific principles that he pioneered:

Theory of special relativity: Einstein showed that physical laws are identical for all observers, as long as they are not under acceleration. However, the speed of light in a vacuum is always the same, no matter at what speed the observer is travelling. This work led to his realisation that space and time are linked into what we now call space-time. So, an event seen by one observer may also be seen at a different time by another observer. 

Theory of general relativity: This was a reformulation of the law of gravity. In the 1600s, Newton formulated three laws of motion, among them outlining how gravity works between two bodies. The force between them depends on how massive each object is, and how far apart the objects are. Einstein determined that when thinking about space-time, a massive object causes a distortion in space-time (like putting a heavy ball on a trampoline). Gravity is exerted when other objects fall into the “well” created by the distortion in space-time, like a marble rolling towards the large ball. General relativity passed a recent major test in 2019 in an experiment involving a supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

Photoelectric effect: Einstein’s work in 1905 proposed that light should be thought of as a stream of particles (photons) instead of just a single wave, as was commonly thought at the time. His work helped decipher curious results scientists were previously unable to explain. 

Unified field theory: Einstein spent much of his later years trying to merge the fields of electromagnetism and gravity. He was unsuccessful, but may have been ahead of his time. Other physicists are still working on this problem.

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What Was Galileo Famous For? …..

Galileo’s laws of motion, made from his measurements that all bodies accelerate at the same rate regardless of their mass or size, paved the way for the codification of classical mechanics by Isaac Newton. Galileo’s heliocentrism (with modifications by Kepler) soon became accepted scientific fact. His inventions, from compasses and balances to improved telescopes and microscopes, revolutionized astronomy and biology. Galilleo discovered craters and mountains on the moon, the phases of Venus, Jupiter’s moons and the stars of the Milky Way. His penchant for thoughtful and inventive experimentation pushed the scientific method toward its modern form.

In his conflict with the Church, Galileo was also largely vindicated. Enlightenment thinkers like Voltaire used tales of his trial (often in simplified and exaggerated form) to portray Galileo as a martyr for objectivity. Recent scholarship suggests Galileo’s actual trial and punishment were as much a matter of courtly intrigue and philosophical minutiae as of inherent tension between religion and science.

In 1744 Galileo’s “Dialogue” was removed from the Church’s list of banned books, and in the 20th century Popes Pius XII and John Paul II made official statements of regret for how the Church had treated Galileo