Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He writes about Science and Technology and Environmental issues. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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Scientists have discovered a new material that could be set to change the entire world. The fact that the conductivity of the material is successful in practical conditions further glorifies the discovery. When a material is superconductive, electricity flows through it with zero resistance, which means none of the energy involved is lost as heat. But every superconductor made so far has required extraordinary high pressures, and most have required very low temperatures. Researchers say they have created a superconducting material that works at both a temperature and a pressure low enough to actually use it in practical situations. It reaches a breakthrough that scientists have been chasing for more than a century, in making a material that is able to transmit electricity without resistance, and pass magnetic fields around the material. The world of energy and electronics may transform as a result of the discovery of a new superconductor material, according to a team of scientists. Its discovery could lead to power grids that are able to seamlessly transmit energy, saving up to 200 million megawatt hours that are currently lost to resistance. It could also contribute to nuclear fusion, a long-awaited process that could create unlimited power. The breakthrough might pave the way for hovering trains and ultra-efficient electrical grids and new kinds of medical equipment and highly efficient MRI machines for diagnostic purposes.
According to the New Scientist, an assistant professor named Ranga Dias at the University of Rochester in New York and his colleagues claim to have made a material from hydrogen (99%), nitrogen (1%), and lutetium that becomes superconductive at a temperature of just 69 degrees Fahrenheit and a pressure of 1 gigapascal. That is nearly 10,000 times the atmospheric pressure on Earth’s surface, but still a far lower pressure than any previous superconducting material. In a paper published in scientific journalNature , the researchers describe how they combined the three components to create the material by pressing it between two diamond anvils, a device that compresses materials to extremely high pressures. Its colour shifted from blue to red when the substance was crushed. The material has been nicknamed “reddmatter”, after its colour and as a nod to a material from Star Trek. It found that name during the process of creating it, when scientists found that it surprisingly switched to become a “very bright red” while it was being created. Professor Dias and the team made the material by taking a rare earth metal named lutetium and mixed it with hydrogen and a small part of nitrogen. They were then left to react for two or three days, at high temperatures. The compound came out a as a rich blue, according to the paper. But it was then pressed at very high pressure, when it turned from blue to pink as it reached superconductivity, and then again became a rich red at its non-superconducting metallic state.
To work, the material still requires being heated to 20.5 degrees Celsius and compressed to about 145,000 psi. But that is vastly less intense than other, similar materials – including those announced in 2020 by Professor Dias that brought excitement and skepticism from scientists.Hydrides created by combining rare earth metals with hydrogen, and then adding nitrogen or carbon, have provided researchers a tantalizing “working recipe” for creating superconducting materials in recent years. In technical terms, rare earth metal hydrides form clathrate-like cage structures, where the rare earth metal ions act as carrier donors, providing sufficient electrons that would enhance the dissociation of the H2 molecules. Nitrogen and carbon help stabilize materials. Bottom line: less pressure is required for superconductivity to occur.Lutetium has highly localized fully-filled 14 electrons in its f orbital configuration that suppress the phonon softening and provide enhancement to the electron-phonon coupling needed for superconductivity to take place at ambient temperatures. “The key question was, how are we going to stabilize this to lower the required pressure? And that’s where nitrogen came into the picture. “Nitrogen, like carbon, has a rigid atomic structure that can be used to create a more stable, cage-like lattice within a material and it hardens the low-frequency optical phonons. This structure provides the stability for superconductivity to occur at lower pressure.
“With this material, the dawn of ambient superconductivity and applied technologies has arrived,” according to a team led by Ranga Dias, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and physics. “A pathway to superconducting consumer electronics, energy transfer lines, transportation, and significant improvements of magnetic confinement for fusion are now a reality,” said Professor Dias in a statement. “We believe we are now at the modern superconducting era. “According to these scientists, this miracle material has superconducting properties that could enable:(i)Power grids that transmit electricity without the loss of up to 200 million megawatt hours (MWh) of the energy that now occurs due to resistance in the wires (ii) Frictionless, levitating high-speed trains (iii)More affordable medical imaging and scanning techniques such as MRI and magnetocardiography (iv)Faster, more efficient electronics for digital logic and memory device technology (v)Tokamak machines that use magnetic fields to confine plasmas to achieve fusion as a source of unlimited power.Dias predicts that nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride will greatly accelerate progress in the development of tokamak machines to achieve fusion. According to him, tokamaks, another method of trapping plasma instead of lasers, could produce an enormous magnetic field when combined with the material he discovered. According to him, this is exactly the “game changer”.
The new material is described in a paper, ‘Evidence of near-ambient superconductivity in an N-doped lutetium hydride’, published in Nature today. It found name’’ reddmatter’’ during the process of creating it, when scientists found that it surprisingly switched to become a “very bright red” while it was being created. And it is practical enough that the scientists involved in the paper say that it will mark a new era for the practical use of superconducting materials. “We believe we are now at the modern superconducting era. “Those practical applications might include using the material to accelerate the development of “tokamak machines” that are being developed to achieve nuclear fusion. The world of energy and electronics may transform drastically and efficiently as a result of the discovery of thisnew superconductor material.And it is practical enough that the scientists involved in the paper say that it will mark a new era for the practical use of superconducting materials.

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Tuesday, 07 March 2023 16:28

Yaoshang (Holi) in Manipur

It is said that Holi, an ancient festival of India, existed several centuries before Christ. Holi is originally known as Holika. The full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season. Holi marks the end of the winter gloom and rejoice the bloom of the spring time. It is the best time and season to celebrate. The legend has it that a famous Muslim tourist ULBARUNI has mentioned about Holikosav in his memories. Other Muslim writers of that period mentioned that Holikosav were not only celebrated by the Hindu but also by the Muslims. In Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is also celebrated as the birthday of Cheitanya Mahaprabhu(1486-1533 AD). However the literal meaning of Holi is burning. In Manipur, Holi is celebrated as Yaoshang. Instead of fire, a hut is built and then set ablaze. The most prominent legend to explain the meaning of Holi is the legend associated with the demon King Hiranyakshyap. He wanted everybody in his kingdom to worship only him but to his great disappointment his son Prahald became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana. Hiranyakashap commanded his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahald in her lap.Holika had a boon whereby she could enter fire without any damage on herself. However she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result she paid a price for her sinister desires, while Prahald was saved by grace of God for his extreme devotion. The festival therefore, celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion. Lord Krishna also started tradition of play with colours by applying on his beloved Radha and other Gopis. Gradually the play gained popularity with the people and become a tradition.

       For the last 300 years, Manipur has been celebrating a unique form of the Holi festival that incorporates old traditions of local Meitei people who dominated the state and the deep influence of Vaishnavism in the region. The Yaosang as the festival is called in Manipur, not only connects the past with the present, it also seems to have cracked the code on how to stay relevant forever. The Meitei are the dominant ethnic group of Manipur and the community occupies the central plains in the state. Though mostly in Manipur, the Meitei are also spread, albeit in smaller numbers across the neighbouring states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura and further afield in Bangladesh and Myanmar.Vaishnavism took centres stage in Manipur during the reign of KingMeidingu Pamheiba(1690- 1751) of the Ningthouja dynasty. During the early 18thcentury, Hindu preacher from Syllet (in present day Bangladesh) arrived in Manipur to spread Gauriya Vaishnavism founded by the 15th century saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The King made Hinduism the official religion and converted a large majority of the Meitei people to it. The celebration of Yaoshang as a Hindu festival dedicated to Krishna began during this time. Before this, the Yaoshang was a harvest festival. The way the festival is celebrated also, harks back to its ancient roots. Celebrated over 5 days, the very Yaoshang indicates the agrarian origin of the festival. The word Yaoshang literally translated in Manipuri refers to a small hut used for keeping sheep (Yao= Sheep, Shang=shed/hut). Like ancient spring festival across the world, the Yaoshang too pivots around the full moon day of Lamta(in February/March) from when the festival starts.

       Yaoshang is indigenous traditions of the Meitei people. It is considered the most important festival in Manipur. Like Holi, the Hindu Meitei of Manipur play with colours during the festival. It is interesting how this old festival changed with the influence of Vaishnavism. Now, to begin the festival, worshipers collect bamboo and construct a thatched hut (still called Yaoshang). An image of Cheitanya Mahaprabhu is placed in the hut and offerings are made to the image accompanied by Kirtans of hymns. At dusk, after all the rituals are completed the image is removed and the hut is set on fire. The burnt embers of the hut are considered to be very auspicious. Yaoshang begins just after sunset in every village of Meitei community with the Yaoshang Meithaba or burning the straw hut. Then the children ask at every houses for monetary donations called “Nakatheng. On the secondday, groups of local bands perform sankritan in the Govidagee Temple in Imphal East district of Manipur. On the second and third days, boys and girls go to their relatives for their nakatheng and block roads with ropes for collecting money from the passer-by. On 4th and 5th days, people pour or splash water on one another. Pichkari or syringes are also used by children to drench themselves. Abeer (colours) is of different bright shades of pink, red, yellow and green. Abeer is made of small crystal or paper like chips of mica. In some area it is also seen that groups of boys visit house to house asking donation in the form of rice or vegetables which will be used by them for their group feast after yaoshang is over on a suitable day.

      The festival of Yaoshang is celebrated with singing, dancing and other traditional performance by the residents of Manipur, celebrated by the young and old of the place. One of the highlights of the festival is the “Thabal Chongba” dance, a traditional folk dance of the region. Thabal Chongba can be translated to “Moonlight Dance” which is thus performed several folk songs being sung with Dholakar(a drum). Males from various places will come to the site of the thabal chongba and dance in circles with females holding their hands. In earlier time, this dance was performed in the moonlight accompanied by folk songs with dholakar. Up to the last one century, this folk dance was performed only in the moonlight. Later, lanterns were introduced in the thabal chongba, back in 1950s. Besides dholak, even dishes and metal tubs were also used as drums during that time. Gaslight (Patromax) were also brought into use in the thabal chongba as a source of light. But now a day’s dholakar are replaced by the modern electronics drums and instruments and diesel generators (Electric generators) for the source of light. In those days boys wore Pheijom (dhoti) and girls wore Phanek( Loin cloth worn by female) in the thabal chongba but that is not seen these days as boys wear Jeans and any kind of trouser and few girls of course wear phnek but many wears sari. The Yaoshang festival also includes preparation of great local food and sharing them. It is celebrated by everyone in Manipuri Meitei irrespective of their age and gender. It is a colourful festival and a lot of merrymaking is done during these existing days. Of late, there has been a trends of channelling the festive energy towards sporting events to spot out talents at the grassroots level which is in line with the sporting spirit of Meitei. From an ancient tribal festival to a celebration of Vaishnavism and modern sporting, all the characteristic of a modern day campus youth festival, the popularity of the Yaoshang remains unabated. This is probably thanks to how adaptive it has been for millennia.However, the present day way of celebrating YaoshangFestival is deplorable as we all witness the ugly scene in the name of this festival.

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Science brings about solutions for everyday problems and provides answers to the greatest mysteries of the universe. Science is thus one of the most important channels of knowledge. It has a specific role, yet has various functions, for our society’s benefit, i.e. improving knowledge and education, and enhancing the quality of life. A country can evolve thanks to scientists who find new approaches to problems and prove new scientific laws. In this regard, National Science Day (NSD) is observed on 28th February each year in India, to honour the revered physicist Dr Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman’s contributions.
From this special day’s origins to how to celebrate it, here’s everything you need to know about National Science Day. National Science Day commemorates the discovery of the Raman Effect by Dr C.V. Raman, for which he won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Every year, on this particular day, the Government of India felicitates scientists from various fields for their valuable contribution to science. National Science Day’s main objective is to increase awareness among people about the importance of science and technology in their lives. Dr C.V. Raman officially declared on 28th February, 1928 that he had invented the Raman Effect. He was then awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for his findings. The National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) put forward a proposal for the National Science Day to be celebrated on 28th February every year to pay tribute to this achievement. Following this, the Government of India accepted the proposal, and the first-ever National Science Day was celebrated on 28th February, 1987.
The Raman Effect states that when a light wave emerges out of a liquid, a portion of this light wave is distributed in a direction that’s different from the direction of the incoming light wave. Most of this scattered light is of an unchanged wavelength. This research by Dr C.V. Raman thus explains certain phenomena like why seawater looks blue in colour. The Raman Effect is all about the flexible distribution of photon particles. Infact it is an inelastic collision of a photon with molecules, which means that there is an exchange of energy and a change in light direction. This effect was named Raman scattering or Raman Effect. This phenomenon is also known as “Raman Spectroscopy”, which is used by chemists and physicists to analyze materials.
National Science Day’s primary objective is to ignite an interest in science, inspire people, especially students, to perform new experiments, and make them aware of the latest developments in science and technology. Several scientific activities and programs are organised on this day. Every year, National Science Day is celebrated with a concept or theme that focuses on the importance of science, and the Department of Science and Technology selects the theme. This year’s theme is ‘Global Science for Global Wellbeing’. The motive of the year’s theme is to encourage talented Indian minds to come out from silos working culture and take part in theme-based projects. Today, National Science Day gives people an opportunity to learn more about how science affects their everyday lives and contributes to societal development. Many scientific centers and institutions organize scientific debates, competitions, lectures, and public speaking events to mark the occasion.
Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman was born on November 7, 1888 in the city of Trichinopoly, Madras Presidency, British India. Today the city is known as Tiruchirappalli and sits in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.Raman’s father was Chandrasekaran Ramanathan Iyer, a teacher of mathematics and physics. His mother was Parvathi Ammal, who was taught to read and write by her husband. Lokasundari Ammal was his spouse and Vikram Sarabhai, Venkataraman Radhakrishna and Chandrasekhar Raman were his children. He was the uncle of Subramanyam Chandrasekhar who won 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics. At the time of Raman’s birth, the family lived on a low income. Raman was the second of eight children. Raman’s families were Brahmins, the Hindu caste of priests and scholars. His father, however, paid little attention to religious matters: Raman grew up to share his father’s casual attitude to religion, but he did observe some Hindu rituals culturally and respected traditions such as vegetarianism. When Raman was four years old his father got a better job, becoming a college lecturer, and the family moved to Waltair (now Visakhapatnam).From a very young age Raman was interested in science, reading the books his father had used as a student. As he grew older, he started borrowing mathematics and physics books from his father’s college library. Entering his teenage years, he began learning from books his father had bought when he had intended taking a master’s degree in physics.
Chandrasekhara aka CV Raman was exceptional in studies, he cleared his matriculation exam at the early age of 11. Two years later he got passed through the intermediate-level exam and later joined the Presidency College in 1902.  In the year 1904, Raman got his bachelor’s degree. He was the first rank holder and a gold medalist in Physics. After three years, he completed his Master’s Degree as well. He was also selected for the government service job in the Finance Department of Colonial government which he later quit after he got his hands on the position as the Palit Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta in the year 1917. While carrying out experiments on the scattering of light which later ended up in discovering the Raman Effect in the year 1928. Sir CV Raman won the Knight Bachelor award a year later discovering the scattering of light and became a Fellow of the Royal Society. In the year 1932, Raman and Suri Bhagavantam discovered the quantum photon spin which further confirmed the light’s quantum nature. Raman was also interested in Music so became the first person to study the harmonic nature of mridangam and tabla. CV Raman was honoured and appointed as the first Indian director of Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in 1933. After India got independence in 1947, Raman became the first National Professor of the Country. This day commemorates the achievements and efforts that have brought science to its current state, as well as highlights its importance in our daily lives. National Science Day is observed as an opportunity to discuss important issues in science. It emphasizes how important it is to be informed on scientific issues and debates that affect our daily lives. It is an opportunity to celebrate the many ways that science advances human progress, and it’s important for people of all ages to be aware of how scientific discoveries can improve our lives. It is celebrated for discussing all the issues and implementing new technologies for the development of science in India. It gives an opportunity to scientific-minded citizens, encourages people as well as popularizes science and technology.CV Raman died on 21st November 1970 at Bangalore.
The Department of Science and Technology in India presented the National Award for Science and Communication to five institutions on February 28, 2009. These awards are presented to recognize the efforts of government and non-government bodies, as well as individuals who make science popular in the country. In 2009, the Vikram Sarabhai Community Science Center was awarded the highest award for its contribution to science-related learning material and training programs that promote science education. This event celebrates Sir CV Raman’s outstanding contributions to research and discovery, inspiring future generations. To not stop after making one breakthrough in any area, but to continue seeking the nation’s credit in every possible way. We celebrate National Science Day to recognize science’s greatness, intending to eliminate taboos and accept that environment is mostly about science—as scientific research is mostly about environmental factors, no matter what shape they take on.
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Wednesday, 22 February 2023 17:43

Human Wellbeing and Global Science Teaching

“Education is the most powerful path to sustainability. Economic and technological solutions, political regulations or financial incentives are not enough. We need a fundamental change in the way we think and act.” Ethics is, according to Savater (1995), the art of living well, of knowing how to live. To have, practice, and manage the art of living well is ought to provide a good life. A good life implies choosing, which for those with less academic resources is more difficult. Our well-being depends on the existent biodiversity and on ecosystems’ prosperity. However, people still choose to deplete natural resources, affecting other species, hence reducing biodiversity, and even annihilating it.
The 2000-2010 decade was productive in ideas, congresses and documents about how the loss of biodiversity jeopardizes our future. It is the decade of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and of the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MEA). The MEA (2005)  highlights the fact that society does not understand completely how biodiversity and well-being are linked. Most people recognize that their lives depend on natural functions, which provide fresh water, food, shelter, fibers; but people take the benefits they take from Nature for granted. In developed countries, schools teach how important it is to preserve biodiversity. Of course, in these countries, native biodiversity has been deeply affected by the development of societies through centuries. We became aware of the importance of preserving forests, dealing with waste, and purifying water to drink. Schools in developed countries have projects like ECOSCHOOLS, and most (if not all) subjects (English, Geography, History, Informatics, Mathematics, Natural Sciences, etc.) incorporate themes related with the Brundtland Report (1987)  and the Agenda 21(1992)  themes. Whereas developed countries have been improving their school systems and acquiring experience in teaching and creating experiences related with biodiversity and sustainability, debating about science and ecology, which are complex issues for kids, teenagers and even adults, developing countries are struggling to bring more children to school, to build better schools, to train more teachers and to improve subjects’ curricula (see “progress of goal 4 in 2017” at SDG 4 (2015). Because people’s future will depend on how they relate to ecosystems, it is urgent to provide strategies to empower teachers and learners on a global basis.
“Biodiversity change is inextricably linked to poverty, the largest threat to the future of humanity identified by the United Nations”. The contribution done here addresses the concern of empowering society to understand the link between biodiversity and human well-being in such a way that almost every aspect of people’s lives could be conducted by a better philosophy of choosing healthier ways of relating to ecosystems’ functions, services and species. Our way of living is not yet oriented towards sustainability, and the only way to improve it is by reaching as many people as possible through education. “Education is a public good, a fundamental human right and a basis for guaranteeing the realization of other rights. It is essential for peace, tolerance, human fulfillment and sustainable development.” Science, as an institution, has been concerned with these issues and debates a way to “translate economic and socio-cultural values of ecosystems services into monetary values”  to make people understand better its importance. Science is still deciphering how biodiversity is linked to ecosystem services, while the United Nations (UN) assesses governments on their efforts to reach Sustainable Development targets related to climate (SDG 13), biodiversity on land (SDG 15) and sea (SDG 14) goals, among others).
Education through life is also an ambitious goal, and, perhaps, still far from reach in many parts of our world. But, the effort of providing information to adults will help people ask more questions and search for answers.
A basic curriculum for children can be used and adapted to adult’s need of learning more about science. “Education transforms lives and is at the heart of UNESCO’s (2017) mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development’. Education about conservation ecology is important to improve human relation with natural goods and benefits. Only through education will it be possible to improve the human relationship with ecosystems. The public and governments’ interest in reverting the pressures on wild species is increasing, as Rands etal (2010) emphasize, but not effectively to halt biodiversity loss .Perhaps due to the fact that, like climate change, ecology’s complexity demands more understanding and compliance from governance and policy, sponsors, markets, education systems, and from common people. “Education systems must be relevant and respond to rapidly changing labour markets, technological advances, urbanization, migration, political instability, environmental degradation, natural hazards and disasters, competition for natural resources, demographic challenges, increasing global unemployment, persistent poverty, widening inequality and expanding threats to peace and safety.” 
Human-wildlife conflicts another example show the complexity of the human need to use ecosystems and compete with other species. For humans, other species have different value. Some are just to contemplate, while others provide material goods (many of which have been prohibited to collect).Elephants are poached because of their ivory, and though it is prohibited to hunt them, many poachers still take the risk, because of the profit generated in the market. Many elephants are also killed because they are feared and destroy goods. But in all cultures they are seen as symbols of nature, used as flagship species. Beyond the problems they cause, elephant’s species are gardeners of the ecosystems, and they are classified as keystone species, hence, they play an important role in the ecosystems, which humans cannot afford to lose. Conservation ecology is a multidisciplinary field that depends on understanding peoples’ beliefs and needs (sociology, anthropology), how ecosystems function (ecology, biology), and how society experiences their time and space (economics, political science, communication science, education science). What can we do, as a global society, to help preserve species like elephants, and people? A general science curriculum for the first nine years of school that emphasizes themes related with human well-being and ecosystems conservation, that enables the debate of complex questions like “what can we do to mitigate ivory poaching?” Poor countries need to be creative in finding solutions. Rich countries need to be supportive and share know-how. For now, our concern is delivering a curriculum for seven years of schooling that conjugates Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology in one single subject: Natural Sciences.
To make a difference in a child’s life is to empower that child to become free to choose and act, feel and seek security in the environment, have access to basic materials, healthcare and information in a society that enables good social relations among people and that respects ecosystems and other species (MEA, 2005) . Educating children from an early age in Science themes will increase their capacity to ask important questions, and to seek answers through their adult life. The Incheon Declaration has the goal of providing nine years of quality education to every child in the World. Whereas some countries have the means and the experience of good practices, underdeveloped countries struggle with many problems, including having a task force which is either unprepared or not large enough to guarantee nine years of studying for every girl and boy.
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