Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. Presently, he is teaching Mathematics at JCRE Global College. Jugeshwor can be reached at: [email protected] Or WhatsApp’s No: 9612891339.

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By: SanjenbamJugeshwor Singh.

Faculty, JCRE Global College, Babupara,Imphal.

The interdisciplinary field of material science also commonly termed material science and engineering is the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. The intellectual origins of material science stem from the enlightenment when researchers began to use analytical thinking from chemistry, physics and engineering to understand ancient phenomenological observations in metallurgy and mineralogy. Material science still incorporates elements of physics, chemistry and engineering. As such the field was long considered by academic institutions as a sub-field of these related fields. Beginning in the 1940s, material science began to be more widely recognized as a specific and distinct field of science and engineering and major technical universities around the World created dedicated school of the study within either the science or engineering schools, hence naming.

Material science is a syncretic discipline hybridizing metallurgy, ceramic, solid state physics and chemistry. It is the first example of a new academic discipline emerging by fusion rather than fission. Many of the most pressing scientific problems that we currently face are due to the limit of the material that are available and how they are used. Thus, breakthrough in material science are likely to affect the future of technology significantly. Material scientist emphasize understanding ,how the history of a material ( in processing) influence its structure and thus the material properties and performance .The understanding of processing, structure properties relationship is called the material paradigm. This paradigm is used to advance understanding in a variety of research areas, including nanotechnology, biomaterial and metallurgy. Material science is also an important part of forensic engineering and failure analysis, investigating material, products, structure or components which fail or do not function as indicated, causing personal injury or damage to property. Such investigations are key to understanding for example, the cause of various aviation accidents and incident.

The material of choice of a given era is often a defined point. Phrases such as Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Steel age are historic, if arbitrary examples originally deriving from the manufacture of ceramic and its putative derivative metallurgy. Material science is one of the oldest forms of engineering and applied science. Modern material science evolved directly from metallurgy, which itself evolved from mining and (likely) ceramics and earlier from the use of fire. A major breakthrough in the understanding of materials occurred in the late 19th century when the American Scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs demonstrated that the thermodynamic properties related to atomic structure in various phases are related to the physical properties of a material. Important elements of modern materials science are a product of the space race: the understanding and engineering of the metallic alloys and silica and carbon materials used in building space vehicles, enabling the exploration of space material science has driven and been driven by the development of revolutionary technologies such as rubber, plastics, semiconductor and biomaterials. Before 1960s (and in some cases decades after) may eventual material science departments were metallurgy or ceramic engineering departments, reflecting the 19th and early 20th century emphasis on metal and ceramic. The growth of material science in the United States was catalyzed part by the Advance Research Project Agency ,which funded a series of university, hosted laboratories in the early 1960s to expand the National program of basic research  and training in the material science. The field has since broadened to include every class of materials including ceramic, polymers, semiconductors magnetic materials, bimetals and nanomaterials, generally classified in three distinct groups: ceramic, metals and polymers. The prominent change in material science during the recent decades is active cause of computer simulations to find new materials, products properties and understand phenomena.

A material is defined as a substance (most often a solid but other condensed phases can be included) that is intended to be used for certain applications. There are myriad of materials around us, they can be found in anything from building to spacecraft. Materials can generally be further divided into two i.e. crystalline & amorphous (non-crystalline).The traditional examples of materials are metals,semiconductor,ceramics and polymers. New and advanced materials that are being developed include, nanomaterials, biomaterials and energy materials to name a few. The basis of material science involves studying the structure of materials and relating them to their properties. Once a material scientist knows about this structure-property correlation, they can then go to study the relative performance of a material in a given application. The major determinants of the structure of a material and thus of its properties are its constituent chemical elements and the way in which it has been processed into its final form. These characteristic taken together and the related through the laws of thermodynamics and kinetics, govern the microstructure of a material and thus its application.

 Apart from the known age old materials which are of great importance in many ways, the study or research works on material science could find out new interesting and very useful materials. Some of them worth mentioned are nanomaterials, Biomaterials, Electronic, optical and magnetic materials like graphene. Nanomaterials describe in principle, the materials of which a single unit sized (in at least one dimension) between 1 and 1000 nanometers (10-9 m) but is usually 1 to 100 nm. Nanomaterial research takes a material science based approach to nanotechnology. Materials with structure at the nanoscale often have unique optical, electronic or mechanical properties. The field of nanomaterials is loosely organized, like the traditional field of chemistry into organic (Carbon-based) nanomaterials such as fullerenes and inorganic nanomaterials based on other elements such as silicon. Common examples of nanomaterials are fullerene, carbon nanotubes, nanocrystal etc. On the other hand a newly developed material is Biomaterials. A biomaterial is any matter, surface or construct that interacts with biological system. The study of biomaterials is called Bio-material science. Biomaterials can be derived either from nature or synthesized in a laboratory using a variety of chemical approach using metallic components, polymers, bio ceramics or composite materials. They are often used and /or adapted for a medical application and thus comprise whole or part of a living structure or biomedical device which performed, augments or replaces a natural function. Such functions may be benign, like being used for a heart valve or may be bioactive with a more interactive functionality such as Hydroxyapatite coated hip implants. Biomaterials are also used every day in dental applications, surgery and drug delivery. A biomaterial may also be an autograft, allograft or xenograft used as an organ transplant. Semiconductors, metals and ceramics are used today to form highly complex system such as Integrated Circuits (ICs), optoelectronic device and magnetic as well as optical mass storage media. These materials form the basis of our modern computing world and hence research into these materials is of vital importance. Semiconductors are traditional example of these types of materials. They are materials that have properties that are intermediate between conductors and insulators. Their electrical conductivities are very sensitive to impurity concentration and this allows for the use of doping to achieve desirable electronic properties. Hence semiconductors form the basis of the traditional computer. This field also include a new areas of research such as superconducting materials, spintronic,metamaterials etc. The study of these materials involve knowledge of material science and solid state physics or condensed matter physics.

The field of material science and engineering is important both from a scientific perspective as well as from  engineering one. When discovering new materials, one encounters new phenomena that may not have been observed before. Hence, there is a lot of science to be discovered when working with materials. Material science also provides a test for theories in condensed matter physics. Materials are of the utmost importance for engineers as the usage of the appropriate materials is crucial when designing systems. As a result, material science is an increasingly important part of an engineer’s education.

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Wednesday, 04 November 2020 17:32

Brain Hacking for Habit Change

Do you struggle with overcoming bad habits? Do you find it difficult to stick with an exercise routine and constantly find yourself back where you started? So much of what we do in our day-to-day lives whether it be driving, making coffee or touch-typing happens without the need for conscious thought. Unlike many of the brain’s other unconscious talents, these are skills that have had to be learned before the brain can automate them. How does this might provide a method for us to think our way out of bad habit. Take a second and think back to what you did this morning. Chances are, you woke up, got out of bad, brushed your teeth and went through your usual morning routine. How much did you think about what you were doing? Was it a result of active decision making or habit? Though we may not realize it, habits make up more than 40% of our actions. Habits are our brain’s evolutionary shortcut-they allow our mind to go on autopilot, so our bodies can take over. Here’s what happen when we do the same thing over and over again-like a morning routine –our brain takes notice. It turns this sequence of action into an automatic routine which stores the habit for later use. This happens, so we don’t have to make an infinite number of decision all day long. Habits are huge time and energy saver, except when they negatively impact our happiness, wellbeing or productivity. Whether it’s overspending, nail biting, constantly checking our phones, chronic lateness or late night snacking, it’s all too easy to allow our brains to fall into wasteful habit. But here’s the good news- since our habits are crafted by our minds, the key to breaking the bad habit is simply knowing the right way to communicate with other brains. It’s that easy.
Habit forms a crucial component of behavior. In recent years, key computational models have conceptualized habits as arising from model-free reinforcement learning mechanisms, which typically select between available actions based on the future value expected to result from each. Traditionally, however, habits have been understood as behaviors that can be triggered directly by stimulus without requiring the animal to evaluate expected outcomes. Here Scientists develop a computational model instantiating this traditional view, in which habits develop through the direct strengthening of recently taken actions rather than through the encoding of outcomes. They demonstrate that this model account for key behavioral manifestations of habits, including insensitivity to outcome devaluation and contingency degradation as well as the effect of reinforcement schedule on the rate of habit formation. The model also explains prevalent observation of preservation in repeated-choice tasks as an additional behavioral manifestation of habit system. They suggest that mapping habitual behaviors onto value –free mechanisms provides a parsimonious account of existing behavioral and neural data. This mapping may provide a new foundation for building robust and comprehensive models of the interaction of habits with other more goal-directed types of behaviors and help to better guide research into the neural mechanism underlying control of instrumental behavior more generally.
The process of habit formation in the brain involves various cells and processes that help amount our daily rituals into routines. Dartmouthresearchers recently discovered that the dorsolateral Striatum, a region of the brain, experiences a short burst of activity when new habits are formed. According to the research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, it takes as little as half of a second for this burst to occur. And as a habit become stronger, the activity burst increases. The Dartmouthresearchers found that habits can be controlled depending on how active dorsolateral striatum is. The research finding illustrate how habits can be controlled in a tiny time window when they are first set in motion. According to Kyle S.Smith ,an associate professor and Director of graduate studies in the department of Psychological and Brain Science at Dartmouth ,the strength of the brain activity in this window determines whether the full behavior becomes a habit or not. The result demonstrate how activity in the dorsolateral Striatum when habits are formed really does control how habitual animals are providing evidence of a causal relationship. The research finding showed that dorsolateral Striatum burst in brain activity correlated with a rats habit for running a maize (Rats brains are similar to human). For the new study the researchers manipulated the burst with a method called Opto-genetics, where flashing blue light excites the brain cells while a flashing yellow light inhibits the cells and shuts them down.Ann Graybielof MIT and her colleagues have shown that a region deep inside the brain called the Striatum is key to habit forming. When you undertakean action, the prefrontal Cortex, which is involved in planning complex task, communicate with the Striatum which sends the necessary signals to enact the movement. Overtime input from the prefrontal circuits fades, to be replaced by loops linking the Striatum to the sensorimotor Cortex. The loop together with the memory circuits, allows us to carry out the behavior without having to think about it or to put it another way, Practice makes perfect. No thinking required. The upside of this two –part system is that once we no longer need to focus our attention on a frequent task, the spare processing power can be used for other things. It comes with a downside, however. Similar circuitry is involved in turning all kinds of behaviors into habits. Another study out of DUKE UNIVERSITY, found that a single type of neuron in the Striatum called the fast-spiking interneuron serves as a””master controllerof habits. They found that if it’s shut down, habits can be broken. This cell is a relatively rare cell but one that is very heavily connected to the main neurons that relay the outgoing message for the brain region; according to NICOLE CALAKOS an associate Professor of neurology and neurobiology at the Duke University Medical Center.According to him, this cell is a master controller of habitual behavior and it appears to do this by re-orchestrating the message sent by the outgoing neurons. Understanding how habits are formed in the brain is critical developing strategies to change them. If there’s certain habit you’d like to change or create, say getting up earlier, drinking more water or reading more-good news, you don’t need to understand neuroscience to get going. All it takes, according to researchers from Warwick Princeton and Brown Universities in repetition. To study this, they created a model using digital ratsthat shows forming habits depend more on how often you perform an action rather than how much satisfaction you get from it. Psychologist have been trying to understand what drivers our habits for over a century and one of the recurring questions is how much habits are a product of what we want versus what we do. What we know from lab studies is that it’s never too late to break a habit. Habits are malleable throughout your entire life. But we also know that the best way to change a bad habit is to understand its structure that once you tell people about the cue and the reward and you force them to recognize what those factors are in a behavior, it become much, much easier to change. Diagnosing your bad habits will not only help you find effective alternatives, but it’ll also help you become more aware of your habit. This awareness will transfer your habit from an automatic sub-conscious routine to a deliberate conscious behavior.

Wednesday, 28 October 2020 18:07

Human Brain-Society & Culture

Human evolution is the evolutionary process that led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans beginning with the evolutionary history of primates-in particular genus Homo-and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the homid family which includes the great apes. This process involved the gradual development of traits such as human bipedalism and language as well as interbreeding with other hominins which indicate that human evolution was not linear but a web. Then when did something like us first appear on the planet? It turns out there is remarkably little agreement on this question. Fossil and DNA suggest people looking like us, anatomically modern Homo sapiens evolved around 3000,000 years ago. Surprisingly, archaeology –tools artefacts and cave art- suggest that complex technology and cultures, “behavioral modernity, evolved more recently around 50,000 -65,000 years ago. Some scientists interpret this as suggesting the earliest Homo sapiens were not entirely modern. Yet the different data tracks different things. Skulls and genes tells us about brains, artefacts about culture. Our brains probably became modern before our culture.

      For 200,000-300,000 years after Homo sapiens first appeared, tools and artefacts remained surprisingly simple, little better than Neanderthal technology and simpler than those of modern hunter-gatherers such as certain indigenous Americans. Starting about 65,000 to 50,000 years ago, more advanced technology started appearing: complex projectile weapons such as bows, spear-throwers, fishhooks, ceramic and sewing needles. People made representational art-cave paintings of horses, ivory goddesses, lion headed idols, showing artistic flair and imagination. A bird bone flute hints at music. Meanwhile, the arrival of humans in Australia 65,000 years ago shows we had mastered seafaring. Sudden flourishing of technology is called “great leap forward”, supposedly reflecting the evolution of a fully modern brain. But fossils and DNA suggest that human intelligence became modern far earlier. Bones of primitive Homo sapiens first appear 300,000 years ago in Africa with brain as larger as or larger than ours. They are followed by anatomically modern Homo sapiens at least 200,000 years ago and brain shape become essentially modern by at least 100,000 years ago. At this point humans had braincase similar in size and shape to ours.

         Assuming the brain was as modern as the box that held it, our African ancestors theoretically could have discovered relatively built space telescope, written novels and love songs. Their bones say they were just as human as we are. Because the fossil record is so much patchy, fossil provides only minimum dates. Human DNA suggests even earlier origins for modernity. Comparing genetic differences between DNA in modern people and ancient Africans, it is estimated that our ancestors lived 260,000 to 350,000 years ago. All living humans descend from those people, suggesting that we inherited the fundamental commonalities of our species, our humanity, from them. All their descendants –Bantu, Berber, Aztec, Aborigines, Tamil, San, Han, Maori, Inuit and Irish – share certain peculiar behaviors absent in other great apes. All human cultures form long term power bonds between men and women to care for children. We sing and dance. We make art, we preen our hair, adorn our bodies with ornaments, tattoos and makeup. We craft shelters, we wield fire and complex tool. We form large multigenerational social groups with dozens to thousands of people. We cooperate to wage war and help each other. We teach, tell stories, trade. We have morals, laws. We contemplate the stars, our place in cosmos, life’s meaning, what follows death.

      The details of our tools, fashions, families, morals and mythologies vary from tribe to tribe  and culture to culture  but all living humans show these behaviors-or at least the capacity for them- are innate. These shared behaviors unite all people. They are the human condition. What it means to be human and they result from shared ancestry. We inherited our human from peoples in southern Africa 300,000 years ago. The alternative- that every one, everywhere coincidentally became fully human in the same way at the same time starting 65,000 years ago- is not impossible but single origin is more likely. Archaeology and biology may seem to disagree, but they actually tell different parts of the human story. Bones and DNA tells us about brain evolution, our-hardware. Tools reflect brain power, but also culture, our hardware and software. Just as you can upgrade your old computer operating system, culture can evolve even if intelligence does not. Humans in ancient times lacked smartphones and spaceflight but we know from studying philosophers such as Buddha and Aristotle that they were just as clever. Our brain did not change, our culture did. That creates a puzzle. If Pleistocene hunter-gatherers were as smart as us, why did culture remain so primitive for so long? Why did we need hundreds of millennia to invent bows, sewing needles boats? And what changed? Probably several things. First we journeyed out of Africa, occupying more of the planet.  There were then simply more humans to invent increasing the odds of a prehistoric Steve Jobs or Leonardo da Vinci. We also faced new environments in the Middle East, the Artic, India, and Indonesia with unique climates, foods and dangers including other human species. Survival demanded innovation.

         Many of these new lands were far more habitable than Kalahari or Congo climates were milder, but Homo sapiens also left behind African diseases and parasites. That let tribes grow larger and larger tribes meant more heads to innovate and remember ideas, more manpower and better ability to specialize. Population drove innovation. This triggered feedback cycles. As new technologies appeared and spread- better weapons, clothing and shelters-human numbers could increase further accelerating cultural evolution again. Numbers drove culture, culture increased numbers, accelerating cultural evolution, on and on ultimately pushing human populations to outstrip their ecosystem, devastating the megafauna and forcing the evolution of farming. Finally, agriculture caused an explosive population increase, culminating in civilization of millions of people. Now cultural evolution kicked into hyper drive. Artefacts reflect the culture and cultural complexity is an emergent property. That is, it not just individual-level intelligence that makes cultures sophisticated but interactions between individuals in groups and between groups. Like networking millions of processors to make a supercomputer, we increased cultural complexity by increasing the number of people and the links between them. So our societies and world evolved rapidly in the past 300,000 years, while our brains evolved slowly. We expanded our numbers to almost 8 billion, spread across the globe, and reshaped the planet. We did it not by adapting our brains but by changing our cultures. And much of the difference between our ancient, simple hunter-gatherer societies and modern societies just reflects the fact that there are lots more of us and more connection between us.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020 18:19

Renewable Energy: Green & Clean Energy

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as Sunlight, Wind, Rain, Tides, Waves and Geo-thermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation. Based on REN21’s, 2017 report renewable contributed 19.3% to humans’ global energy consumption and 24.5% to their generation of electricity in 2015 & 2016 respectively. This energy consumption is divided as 8.9% coming from traditional biomass, 4.2% as heat energy (modern biomass, geothermal and solar heat), 3.9% from hydroelectricity and the remaining 2.2% is electricity from wind, Solar, geothermal and other forms biomass. Worldwide investment in renewable technologies amounted to more than 289 billion US dollars in 2015. In 2017, worldwide investment in renewable energy amounted to 279.8 billion US dollars with China accounting for 126.6 billion US dollars or 45% of the global investment, the United States invested 40.9 billion US dollar. Globally, there are an estimated 7.7 million jobs associated with the renewable energy industries, with solar photovoltaic being the largest renewable employer. Renewable energy systems are rapidly becoming more efficient and cheaper and their share of total energy consumption is increasing. As of 2019, more than two-thirds of worldwide newly installed electricity capacity was renewable. Growth in consumption of coal and oil could end up in the near future due to increased uptake of renewables and natural gas.

       At the national level, at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20% of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decades and beyond. Some places and at least two countries, Iceland and Norway, generate all their electricity using renewable energy already and many other countries have the set a goal to reach 100% renewable energy in the future. At least 47 nations around the world already have over 50% of electricity from renewable resources. In International Public Survey, there is strong support for promoting renewable sources such as solar power and wind power. While many renewable energy projects are large scale, renewable technologies are also suited to rural and remote areas and developing countries where energy is often crucial in human development. As most of renewable energy technologies provide electricity, renewable energy deployment is often applied in conjunction with further electrification which has several benefits: electricity can be converted into mechanical energy with high efficiency and is clean at the point of consumption. In addition, electrification with renewable energy is more efficient and therefore leads to significant reduction in primary energy requirements.

Renewable energy resources and significant opportunities for energy efficiency exist over wide geographical areas, in contrast to other energy sources which are concentrated in a limited number of countries. Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency and technological diversification of energy sources would result in significant energy security and economic benefits. It would also reduce environmental pollution such as air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels and improve public health, reduce premature mortalities due to pollution and save associated health cost that amounts to several hundred billion dollars annually in the United States. Renewable energy source, that derived their energy from the sun either directly or indirectly such as hydro and wind, are expected to be capable of suppressing humanity energy for at most another billion years at which point the predicted increase in heat from the sun is expected to make the surface of the Earth too hot for liquid water to exist. The climate change and the global warming concerns coupled with the continuing fall in the cost of some renewable energy equipment, such as wind turbine and solar panels, are driving increased used of renewables. New government spending, regulation and policies helped the industry, weather the global financial crisis better than many other sectors. In 2019, however , according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewables overall shares in the energy mix ( including power, heat & transport ) needs  to grow six times faster , in order to keep the rise in average global temperature “ well below” 2 degree Celsius ( 3.6 degree Fahrenheit) during present century, compared to pre-industrial levels. As of 2011, small solar PV system provides electricity to a few million households and micro-hydro configured into mini-grid serves many more. Over 44 million households use biogas made in household-scale digester for lightening and/ or cooking and more than 166 million households rely on a new generation of more-efficient bio-mass cook stoves. United Nations eight Secretary-General “Ban Ki-moon” has said that renewable energy has the ability to lift the poorest nations to a new level of prosperity. At the national level at least 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20% of energy supply.

    The mainstream renewable technologies are: wind power, the worldwide its installed capacity was 633 GW; hydropower with 1,190 GW; solar energy with 586GW capacity; geothermal energy with 14GW and Bioenergy with 124GW respectively at the end of 2019. Renewable energy production from some sources such as wind and solar is more variable and more geographically spread than technology based or fossil fuels and nuclear. While integrating it into the wider energy system is feasible, it does lead to some additional challenges. In order for the energy system to remain stable a set of measurement can be taken. Implementation of energy storage, using a wide variety of renewable energy technologies and implementing a smart grid in which energy is automatically used at the moment it produced can reduce risk and cost of renewable energy implementation. In some locations individual households can opt to purchase renewable energy through a consumer green energy program.  But where does our state stand at the moment in regard to green & clean energy generation and usages?

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