Archives August 2013

"All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself." J. S. Bach, composer and organist (attributed) Long before the development of the pipe organ, its essential musical element—a set of pipes of different sizes that resonate at different pitches when air is passed through them—existed in the form of the syrinx. This simple instrument was used widely throughout the eastern Mediterranean region. However, in 240 B.C.E., Ktesibios (c. 285-222 B.C.E.), a Greek engineer, developed a way of supplying a steady flow of air to the pipes. He attached them to a closed box into which air was pumped using pressurized water, creating and maintaining steady air pressure in the box. The pipes were opened or closed to the air source by a simple switch system operated from a keyboard. This device was originally called hydraulis, later organum, and produced loud more...

"C'est la soupe qui fait Ie soldat. [An army marches on its stomach]." Attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte Ntcolas Appect (c. 1750-1841) was a humble Parisian candymaker when he responded to a 12,000-franc- challenge issued by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1795 to anyone who could provide the means to keep his vast armies supplied with fresh food. After experimentation, Appert realized that heating foodstuffs at boiling point for long periods of time helped prevent spoilage. After cooking his food in open kettles, it was then placed inside glass jars and heated until a seal using pitch, cork, and sealing wax was made. As the jar cooled, a vacuum was often created inside the jar removing the air necessary for bacteria to grow, and the lids were then fastened with a metallic thread. In 1806 the French Navy successfully tested Appert's preserves, which included milk, fruit, and vegetables. In 1809 he was awarded more...

The microwave oven is an invention that arrived almost entirely by accident. Its inventor, Percy Spencer (1894-1970), was an electronics whizz, working on designing radar equipment. He paused next to a "magnetron," one of the power components of the machinery, and was amazed to discover that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. Understandably curious, he tried placing other objects near the magnetron. Some unpopped popcorn popped successfully (with Spencer standing further away, so as not to start cooking himself), and the next morning an egg was cooked, demonstrating for the first time that eggs in their shells explode if cooked in the microwave. Spencer realized the potential of his discovery and set about designing a more efficient food-cooking device. He filed for a patent in 1945, and by late 1946 a prototype device was being tested in a Boston, Massachusetts, restaurant, and soon commercial models became available. These more...

This quotation from German poet and philosopher Goethe carries a valuable idea. Life is not just a reverie, a dream. It is much more than that; it is action. Without energetic action, life would stagnate. Without great deeds, life would become static and would lose much of its charm. A life of thought and reflection would be quite futile, if thought is never transformed into practical action.  It is not that contemplation has no place in life. Contemplation induces peace of mind, tranquility and contentment. Great ideals are usually a product of contemplation. Practically all the germinal ideas of the world have come from thinkers and philosophers with whom contemplation was a habit. Without mature reflection and cool deliberation nothing should be done. Meditation and silent prayer are purifying agents for soul and a sedative for nerves. But contemplation should never be regarded as the aim of human life. Great more...

Ever since science fiction first described futuristic machines that could perform unpleasant, dangerous, or boring tasks for people, inventors and designers have sought to make such dreams a reality. In Wl, following prototype trials, a robotic manipulator called Unimate heralded the dawn of this new exciting era when it began employment on a General Motors assembly line. A stationary industrial robot, Unimate spent its working day moving hot die castings from machines and welding vehicle bodies. Operating from sequential commands stored on a magnetic drum, the robot's arm, weighing around two tons, was versatile enough to perform any number of different tasks. Unimate was conceived in the late 1950s by American engineers George Devol (b. 1912) and Joseph Engelberger (b. 1925). Its development was undertaken by Engelberger's company, Unimation Inc. The fledgling industry of industrial robotics grew rapidly, and soon a variety of other mundane, tedious, or dangerous Jobs were more...

"There are... fixed boundaries, beyond and about which that which is right cannot exist." Horace, Satires, Book 1 (35 B.C.E.) Vernier callipers are a sliding, adjustable-jaw device for measuring distances of a few centimeters to an accuracy of 0.01 centimeters. A main (ruler) scale is marked off with 0.1 centimeter divisions. Sliding parallel and alongside the main scale is a much smaller vernier scale on which ten divisions are equally spaced over 0.9 centimeters of the main scale. To subdivide the 0.1 centimeter division on the main scale into ten, the user has to select the nearest vernier division that is in line with one of the main scale divisions. The scale was invented by French scientist and engineer Pierre Vernier (1580-1637), and the details were published in his 1631 book, La Construction, I'usage, et les proprietes du quadrant nouveau de mathematiques (The Construction, Uses, and Properties of a New more...

The unprecedented rise in prices of almost all the important necessities of life has posed a serious problem before us. Millions of people find it hard to earn one square meal a day, because prices of food grains, edible oils, sugar and other food articles have been rising very rapidly. This has caused great unrest among common people. The annual average of whole sale prices index always shows an increasing trend. This alarming rate of increase in prices has thrown the country's economic out of gear and made common man's life miserable. Millions in India to-day sleep without food at night. All their day's work does not even promise them sufficient to eat and drink. Everybody is complaining of increasing prices day by day.  Prices have become double in the last few years and there are many things which are now beyond the reach of common people. This phenomenal increase more...

Street quarrels are very common features of city life. They occur sometimes due to bad temper and sometimes due to greedy nature of some wicked man. Whatever may be the cause behind street quarrels, one thing is clear that most of the time people join the fight for mere joy showing off their fighting spirit and thus create an unwanted scene polluting the whole atmosphere of their surroundings.  A few days back a quarrel took an ugly turn when the persons involved in it forgot all civic sense. There is generally a great rush of traffic in the school street at 1:30 pm because it is the time when the school is over for the day. The street is not so wide. One man with a heavy load had obstructed the narrow passage. Soon a man on a scooters and an auto rickshaw driver tried to surpass but none of more...

I am a young boy enjoying every second of my life. I don't have a dull moment from the time I get up in the morning till I go to bed at night. I rise at cock-crow everyday and refresh myself in the toilet. Then I start the day with a quick run round the field to warm myself up. It makes me feel fresh for the whole day. Back home, I find my mother awake. The breakfast is served on the table. A few slices of bread and a glass of milk or a boiled egg are all that I have for breakfast. There is a lot of homework to do. By the time I finish, it is time for school. I am hungry enough to relish every single dish that Mummy cooks for me. Then I proceed to school. I feel a thrill when I learn something new. more...

Accidents are very common in big cities than in small towns Saw a bus accident yesterday. It took place in the open. I was going to Agra. The bus left Shekohabad and reached near the canal bridge. The road rises very high at the bridge from both the sides. Unfortunately a car was coming from the opposite direction. Both the drivers forgot to blow the horns, since they did not see anything ahead. The car being new made no sound. As our bus reached the bridge the car came up suddenly. The driver of our bus became nervous. He lost his presence of mind. He tried to put the brakes but there was no time. So he gave a sudden turn to the wheels. Unluckily the road was not very broad at the bridge. The canal was deep on both sides. The result was that the driver could not control more...


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