No Right to Email NLRB Looks Through the Looking Glass Sees Absolutely

first_img Citation: No Right to E-mail: NLRB Looks Through the Looking Glass & Sees Absolutely No Problem (2007, December 29) retrieved 18 August 2019 from A recent decision by the National Labor Relations Board, (NLRB), has newspaper guild members grounded along the Northwest rocky shores of Cape Disappointment. As most seafarers know the cross currents and tricky passage along the rocky coast of Washington and Oregon have been the watery grave of many of fine vessels. The case decided December 16, 2007 by the NLRB, The Guard Publishing Company d/b/a, The Register Guard case, can be read at: … sions/351/V35170.pdf .The Gist of the Story:A newspaper located in Eugene, Oregon, The Register Guard disciplined an employee/president of the union, (Eugene Newspaper Guild) for using the e-mail system to disseminate union business. This issue was combined with other unfair labor practices involving the company´s refusal to withdraw its proposal to ban e-mail use for union business only, and impinging on the unions rights to communicate with its employees. The problem started with a union rally, wherein the newspaper sent e-mails to all employees that the rally posed a safety risk because there were suspected “anarchists” that would be attending. No anarchists showed and this incident began a cat and mouse game to correct the e-mail mis-reporting the safety issue and Herculean attempts to miss the jagged rocks of the company’s prohibition on non-business related e-mails. The good ship, Eugene Newspaper Guild got a pass on the first e-mail correcting the story, but the ship grounded on unfettered solicitations and hairs were split on what are basic rights to communicate by e-mail. The hair splitting really got interesting when the NLRB found that since the Guild did not formally request at the bargaining table that the newspaper withdraw the ban on union e-mails proposal, there was no bad faith in bargaining. The union had filed an unfair labor practice that was dismissed administratively. Since there was no “insistence” by management of an unlawful proposal—no problem. A real head scratcher. The fact the employer allowed United Way communications and other personal e-mails made no difference because this NLRB jumped over precedent and relied on a case in a US District Court. In order to find discrimination there must be discrimination of “like” communications. It would take the form of if one employee sent an e-mail dissuading union membership, the union would be allowed the same right to e-mail. Since the likelihood of this occurring is nil, the current criteria for finding discrimination essentially shuts down modern technology in communications. . The NLRB recently handed down a decision relating to the use of e-mail by an Oregon newspaper guild, (union) and found what is and what was, isn’t necessarily true no more. NY Times, union agree to new contract 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. Some Overall Points:As a brief primer on the subject, employees have certain rights to organize and hold elections for representation by unions. These are known as Section 7 rights under the National Labor Relations Act. A companion of these rights are sections 8 (a) 1 and 8 (a) 5 which prohibit employers from disciplining or harassing employees in exerting the right to engage in forming unions, participating in bargaining collectively for wages, hours and working conditions. The hook is managements right to keep the workplace tidy and run the everyday operations of the company. Thus, the good ship, Eugene Newspaper Guild, had a treacherous route to chart before clear skies and open water could be realized. The good ship, Eugene Newspaper Guild, had a compass, precedent set by other decisions by the NLRB which narrowed the passage way to almost stream access. I will not put the reader to sleep with selling Avon versus selling a personal car exceptions and the other rock slides that have occurred in the past decades. The basic route available to the good ship, Eugene Newspaper Guild was the basic principle that a company cannot discriminate by prohibiting only union communications. What the Guild was not prepared for was re-defining what is a rock and what is safe passage. A rock is only a rock if it is shaped like another rock. If it is not identically shaped, it is not a rock. It´s not okay to prohibit only union e-mail business, but did the company insist on the proposal. More importantly, did the Guild object in the proper manner. By filing an unfair labor practice was this an indication of a rejection of the “unlawful proposal? “No,” says the NLRB. There is a big dissent in the opinion, one Board member alludes to the Rip Van Winkle approach by the tired out of date NLRB. This is noteworthy, but the newspaper industry itself has become somewhat of an anachronism. Syndicated and local newspapers are clawing for ways to stay afloat. New Internet products including blogs, and real time news reporting from laptop reporters located in all parts of the world could care less about traditional filtered news. While there is a mainstay of loyal readers for local news, the plight of newspaper personnel or any unionized group is a hard sell. Google and Microsoft have made millionaires out of their staff without a union. For everyone else, it is the stupid economy of trying to make a livable wage. Explore furtherlast_img read more

US team creates diamond aerogel in lab by emulating Mother Nature

first_img An amorphous carbon aerogel can be transformed into a nanodiamond aerogel at pressures of 20GPa. Video credit: ChemistryWorldUK Possible applications for the new material are diverse; ranging from flat panel television screens to highly efficient thermal window coatings, to possibly being used as a component in a quantum computer. It’s also possible they could make their way towards being used as part of medical implants due to diamonds being more highly biocompatible than other materials currently in use.All of that will have to wait though, at least for a while, as the current technique was only able to produce diamond aerogel in sample sizes on the order of twice the size of a human hair’s thickness. ( — Researchers working out of Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, have devised a process whereby an ordinary carbon aerogel is used as a base to create a new type aerogel comprised of diamond, making it not only denser, but translucent. In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, (PNAS), the team describes a process where a carbon aerogel is set in a pool of neon gas, then subjected to pressure and then heat, causing diamond crystals to form, resulting in a diamond aerogel. 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. © 2010 An aerogel is a highly porous material that is created by replacing the liquid in a gel substance, with gas, which results in a solid. In the new process, carbon aerogel is used to replicate the means by which diamonds are created in a natural environment. Here the carbon aerogel is placed in a diamond cell cavity where it is infused with neon gas (to keep the pores from collapsing). The whole works is then encased in a diamond shell and pressurized to 20GPa followed by a blasting from a laser that heats it to 1200K; once again to simulate the way that diamonds are formed naturally at great geological depths. The key to the process was keeping the pores from collapsing; neon gas was used because at pressures greater than 5GPa, it becomes a solid, thereby holding the walls of the pores in place as pressure and heat are added. The result is crystalline diamond with the lowest density ever created, (approximately 40 milligrams per cubic centimeter) according to team member, Peter Pauzauskie. He also said in a recent interview that diamond aerogel could likely be made that could be molded, like plastic to form whatever shape was desired. Seeing stardust: New image shows speck of comet dust from NASA missioncenter_img More information: Synthesis and characterization of a nanocrystalline diamond aerogel, PNAS, Published online before print May 9, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1010600108AbstractAerogel materials have myriad scientific and technological applications due to their large intrinsic surface areas and ultralow densities. However, creating a nanodiamond aerogel matrix has remained an outstanding and intriguing challenge. Here we report the high-pressure, high-temperature synthesis of a diamond aerogel from an amorphous carbon aerogel precursor using a laser-heated diamond anvil cell. Neon is used as a chemically inert, near-hydrostatic pressure medium that prevents collapse of the aerogel under pressure by conformally filling the aerogel’s void volume. Electron and X-ray spectromicroscopy confirm the aerogel morphology and composition of the nanodiamond matrix. Time-resolved photoluminescence measurements of recovered material reveal the formation of both nitrogen- and silicon- vacancy point-defects, suggesting a broad range of applications for this nanocrystalline diamond aerogel. High resolution SEM image of recovered diamond aerogel showing fine grain and pore sizes. Image (c) PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1010600108 Citation: U.S. team creates diamond aerogel in lab by emulating Mother Nature (2011, May 10) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Explore furtherlast_img read more

Blue light enables genes to turn on

first_img Bright lights, not-so-big pupils Custom-designed LED arrays and LED-coupled optical fibre devices used for blue light triggered transgene expression in mammalian cells grown subcutaneously into mice. Credit: Science/AAAS 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. Explore further Citation: Blue light enables genes to turn on (2011, June 24) retrieved 18 August 2019 from (Medical Xpress) — With a combination of synthetic biology and optogenetics, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology published a paper in Science outlining their new technique which enables certain genes to be turned on simply by the switch of a light. More information: A Synthetic Optogenetic Transcription Device Enhances Blood-Glucose Homeostasis in Mice, Science 24 June 2011: Vol. 332 no. 6037 pp. 1565-1568. DOI:10.1126/science.1203535ABSTRACTSynthetic biology has advanced the design of genetic devices that can be used to reprogram metabolic activities in mammalian cells. By functionally linking the signal transduction of melanopsin to the control circuit of the nuclear factor of activated T cells, we have designed a synthetic signaling cascade enabling light-inducible transgene expression in different cell lines grown in culture or bioreactors or implanted into mice. In animals harboring intraperitoneal hollow-fiber or subcutaneous implants containing light-inducible transgenic cells, the serum levels of the human glycoprotein secreted alkaline phosphatase could be remote-controlled with fiber optics or transdermally regulated through direct illumination. Light-controlled expression of the glucagon-like peptide 1 was able to attenuate glycemic excursions in type II diabetic mice. Synthetic light-pulse–transcription converters may have applications in therapeutics and protein expression technology. © 2010 Optogenetics uses genetics and different optical methods to create and activate cells in living tissue with the use of light. Synthetic biology combines science and engineering to create new biological functions that are not found naturally.Led by synthetic biologist Martin Fussenegger, the team used melanopsin which is a molecule that is found on neurons within the retina and is light sensitive. These molecules are responsible for keeping the biological clocks synchronized with day and night. When light hits these molecules, the melanopsin stimulates a molecular change that causes in influx of calcium ions and an electrical pulse.The researchers placed the melanopsin gene into embryonic kidney cells, thus making them light sensitive. When exposed to blue light, these cells create an influx of calcium ions. However, instead of an electrical pulse, the light triggers a transcription factor known as NFAT that moves into the cells nuclei and bind to DNA sequences that are known as promoters. This binding activates certain genes within the cells.To test their technique, researchers used diabetic mice and engineered cells to create a glucagon peptide when exposed to blue light. The mice were implanted under the skin with hundreds of microcapsules that held around 10 million of these engineered cells. When the mice were exposed to the blue light, they had an increase in insulin production and more regulated glucose.While this technique is still in the early stages, there is hope that these light sensitive cells can be used for diabetic treatment and to boost the production of biological drugs which are currently used in cancer treatments.More research needs to be done on the potential side effects. The release of calcium into the cells triggered by the light exposure may have unintended side effects and it is this reasoning that kept the group from starting this project for some time. Currently they are looking at using the technique to manufacture pharmaceutical drugs.last_img read more

Power grid upgrades may cause blackouts warns Braesss paradox

first_img , Physical Review Letters Citation: Power grid upgrades may cause blackouts, warns Braess’s paradox (2012, October 23) retrieved 18 August 2019 from The underlying mechanism of the phenomenon for power grids is somewhat different than it is for traffic networks. In traffic networks, Braess’s paradox arises due to a suboptimal Nash equilibrium, in which no driver can benefit by changing their strategy while the other drivers keep theirs unchanged. As a result, the individual “selfish” strategy of each driver prevents everyone from reaching their destination sooner. In the power grid scenario, on the other hand, the paradox originates due to what the researchers call “geometric frustration.” Adding a new link creates new cycles, along which all phase differences must add up to multiples of 2π to make all the phases well-defined. When a new link doesn’t satisfy this condition, it doesn’t synchronize with the other oscillators and the grid loses its phase-locked steady state. Witthaut explained the underlying mechanism using an analogy of a motor and generator:”Consider an electric motor powered by a generator,” he said. “Both rotate with 50 or 60 Hz with a fixed difference between their rotation angles. That means: The angle or phase of the generator will always be slightly larger than that of the motor. Just like two analog clocks, one going slow by a fixed time. This phase difference determines the power flow between the generator and motor and vice versa. The transmission line thus gives rise to a constraint for the phase difference of the generator and motor.”Now consider a complex network of generators and motors. A stable operation of the power grid corresponds to a synchronous state of the generators and motors: They rotate with exactly the same frequency and fixed phase differences. Building a new transmission line introduces new possible pathways to distribute the electric power, reducing the ohmic losses, which is a desired effect. But at the same time, the new transmission line introduces a new constraint for the phases of the generators/motors it connects. In certain situations this constraint is too much – the power grid cannot satisfy all the constraints and becomes unstable.”A similar phenomenon is known in the physics of magnets, where it is called geometric frustration. Anti-ferromagnetic interactions tend to make all nearby magnetic moments anti-parallel, thus also introducing constraints for the alignment of the magnetic moments. In a ‘frustrated’ magnet, the geometry is such that all these constraints cannot be satisfied simultaneously – just as in an oscillator network subject to Braess’s paradox.”Geometric frustration occurs in most, but not all, complex networks. The researchers found that geometric frustration is more likely to occur in new power lines that are located in regions of a network where many of the existing power lines are already heavily loaded. Overloaded lines are, in general, more likely to lose synchrony and cause a power outage. By closely studying a network’s topological features, it should be possible to predict the effects of adding a new link at a certain location, and avoid potentially costly power outages.The results of this study can be viewed together with the findings of another recent study the researchers collaborated on, which demonstrated that decentralized power generation supports self-organized synchronization. This is because decentralization decreases the risk of heavily loaded lines. The finding is good news for the transition to distributed renewable energy sources, which are decentralized by nature.”In a second article published in Physical Review Letters, we have analyzed how structure affects synchronization in a complex power grid,” Timme said. “In particular, we have studied how replacing a few large, centralized power plants with many small distributed sources affects the stability of the grid. We have found three major effects: First, synchronization is easier to realize in a distributed power grid. More precisely, one needs less transmission capacity to ensure a stable synchronous operation. Second, a distributed grid is more vulnerable to dynamic perturbations, i.e., fluctuations of the power consumption. However, third, it is more robust to structural perturbations, in particular the breakdown of single transmission lines.” (—In order to meet increasing energy demands, power companies have the option of adding new power lines to the existing grid. But in a new study, researchers have found that, contrary to common intuition, adding certain new power lines may cause power outages across the grid due to desynchronization. This finding is an example of Braess’s paradox, which was originally discovered in traffic networks to show that adding a road to a congested traffic network may counterintuitively increase overall driving time. This study is the first time that Braess’s paradox has been found in oscillator networks. More information: Dirk Witthaut and Marc Timme. “Braess’s paradox in oscillator networks, desynchronization and power outage.” New Journal of Physics 14 083036 (2012). Rohden, et al. “Self-Organized Synchronization in Decentralized Power Grids.” Physical Review Letters 109, 064101 (2012). Solar and wind energy may stabilise the power grid In this power grid model, the dashed lines represent potential new links at arbitrarily chosen locations. Two of these links (dashed red) are potentially subject to Braess’s paradox and could destabilize grid operation. Braess’s paradox can be caused by a nonlocal collective effect in which links in a nearby region are prone to overload. Credit: Witthaut and Timme. ©2012 IOP Publishing Ltd and Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaftcenter_img Journal information: New Journal of Physics Copyright 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of 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. Dirk Witthaut and Marc Timme from the Network Dynamics Group at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization (MPIDS) and the University of Göttingen, both in Göttingen, Germany, have published a paper on Braess’s paradox in electric power grids in a recent issue of the New Journal of Physics.”Given the change of our energy supply from large, centralized power plants to many distributed sources of renewable energy, an extension of the power grid is inevitable,” Timme told “However, upgrading the grid in an effective way is a complex task with lots of unexpected challenges. In our paper, we show that building new transmission lines does not automatically improve the performance of the grid. Instead, some possible lines can actually destabilize it. This finding is of technical as well as economic interest: building such an inappropriate line would actually have enormous costs, but reduce grid performance and stability.”The key problem with adding certain lines is desynchronization. As the researchers explain, synchronization is essential in many networks such as electric power grids in order to ensure stability. In a power grid, synchronization means that every piece of equipment that generates or consumes power must oscillate at the same frequency (50 Hz in Europe; 60 Hz in the US). If the phase-locked synchronization is destroyed, the grid becomes unstable and power outages can occur.At first glance, it would seem that adding new transmission lines to the grid should maintain the synchronization and stability of the network. And, on average, the researchers indeed found that additional links do maintain stable operation. However, they also found that certain specific additional links can decrease the total grid capacity, which can decrease or even destroy synchronization in the entire grid. By the same token, removing certain links may increase stability, just like removing certain roads can counterintuitively decrease vehicle congestion. Explore furtherlast_img read more

Female dragonflies found to fake death to avoid male advances

first_img Explore further (—A biologist with the University of Zurich has discovered a species of dragonfly whose females play dead to avoid copulating with other males once her eggs have already been fertilized. In his paper published in the journal Ecology, Rassim Khelifa recalls his first experience with a female mooreland hawker dragonfly playing dead, and what he found after further study of the species. Journal information: Ecology Citation: Female dragonflies found to fake death to avoid male advances (2017, May 1) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2017 More information: Rassim Khelifa. Faking death to avoid male coercion: extreme sexual conflict resolution in a dragonfly, Ecology (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1781center_img Male choosiness emerges when females have multiple partners Credit: CC0 Public Domain As Khelifa describes it, he was out collecting larvae in the Swiss Alps one day, when he happened to notice one dragonfly chasing another—suddenly, the one being chased simply stopped flying and crashed to the ground, belly up. The pursuer, he notes, paused for a moment, then moved on. As Khelifa approached the dragonfly on the ground he noted it was female and then was surprised when she suddenly awoke, turned over and flew away.Intrigued, and suspecting the behavior was intentional, Khelifa initiated a study of the species in their native environment, watching 31 male/female pursuits over time. He reports that the females tried the fake death routine 27 times, and that it worked 21 times. He notes further that in each of the fake death attempts, the female had just left her eggs, or was on her way to tend to them again.After noting the fake death behavior, Khelifa reports that it makes sense for the female hawker, because unlike other species of dragonfly, the males do not quit attempting to mate once finding success, nor do males assist in protecting the eggs. He notes also that with the hawker species, the males have the ability to pull sperm from prior males out of the female reproductive tract with their penises, and perhaps even worse, can cause damage if he mates with a female that has already laid her eggs.Khelifa also notes that the females tended to hide among dense vegetation when searching for food, likely another means for warding off ardent male pursuers. He points out that the feigned death behavior is the first observed in a dragonfly, but suggests it likely occurs with other species with females that go it alone after laying their eggs. 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

In quest of the coldest possible antihydrogen

first_img More information: G. Cerchiari et al. “Ultracold Anions for High-Precision Antihydrogen Experiments.” Physical Review Letters. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.120.133205, Also at arXiv:1712.08275 [physics.atom-ph] Citation: In quest of the coldest possible antihydrogen (2018, April 11) retrieved 18 August 2019 from © 2018 Journal information: Physical Review Letters Currently, one of the major goals in ultracold science is to cool antihydrogen atoms to as close to absolute zero as possible. Ultracold antihydrogen would pave the way toward ultraprecise antimatter experiments that could help answer some of the most perplexing questions about antimatter. For example, how does gravity act on antimatter? Why don’t we see any antimatter in the universe? And could it be possible to create antiatoms of all of the elements from the periodic table in the lab? Graph showing new data of electron transitions in the lanthanum anion. Credit: G. Cerchiari et al. ©2018 American Physical Societycenter_img In a new paper published in Physical Review Letters, a team of physicists from Germany and the US has investigated one of the most promising candidates for precooling antihydrogen, which is the negatively charged lanthanum ion. The reason why lanthanum anions may play a key role in antimatter experiments is that they have just the right electronic properties to undergo laser cooling, a procedure that can cool a system down to some of the coldest possible temperatures. Once the lanthanum anions are laser-cooled, they can then be used to sympathetically cool antiprotons, which are one of the two basic constituents of antihydrogen atoms (the other is the positron, which is a positively charged electron). Ultracold antihydrogen can then be produced from the antiprotons that have been sympathetically cooled by the laser-cooled anions.In order to successfully implement this approach, however, it’s necessary to investigate several properties of the lanthanum anion as they relate to laser cooling. As the scientists explain in the new paper, the complicated electronic structure of lanthanum anions make this type of analysis very challenging, and previous efforts have resulted in large inconsistencies between theoretical and experimental data. To address these challenges, the scientists performed new experiments using cutting-edge spectroscopy techniques, and also presented a new theoretical approach. In their theoretical approach, they separated the treatment of the electronic correlations into two problems. As the lanthanum anion has 58 electrons, the researchers treated the lanthanum anion as a Xenon-like core (with 54 electrons) with four additional valence electrons. By addressing the core electrons and the valence electrons separately, they were able to calculate theoretical data that closely matched the experimental data. One of the encouraging results was that they found a stronger-than-expected cooling transition, which suggests the promising potential of lanthanum anions for producing ultracold antihydrogen.”We have now fully characterized the relevant transition in the lanthanum anion, including all its decay channels, and know that the ion can be laser-cooled. Exactly 40 years after the first laser cooling of a positive ion, the laser cooling of a negative ion is just around the corner,” coauthor Alban Kellerbauer, at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, told “To summarize, we accurately measured the transition frequency and, most importantly, the cross-section (which can be used to directly calculate the transition rate). The theoretical calculations were mostly on branching ratios and also on transition rates, including the measured one of the laser cooling transition. The calculated and measured values (of the Einstein coefficient, which is yet another way of expressing the cross-section/rate) agree well, which supports the much smaller uncertainties of the calculated values as compared with previous efforts.” Explore further Physicists zoom in on mysterious ‘missing’ antimatter 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

Studying the swimming patterns of bacteria near surfaces

first_img Explore further Bacteria often move near the surface of water or aqueous substances, which occurs for a number of reasons. First, nutrients in aqueous environments typically accumulate at their surface. In addition, host cells, which are particularly susceptible to becoming infected by pathogenic bacteria also sit on, or are part of, a surface (i.e. a cell tissue). Researchers have been investigating the near-surface swimming patterns of bacteria for several years. Past studies suggest that these patterns are determined by hydrodynamic interactions between bacteria and the surface they are navigating, which ultimately trap the bacteria in smooth circular trajectories that lead to inefficient surface exploration. Physics research into the near-surface swimming patterns of bacteria suggests that an individual bacterium experiences an attraction toward the surface, as well as an effective torque caused by the rotation of the flagellar bundle, which forces it to move in circles. This well-documented observation can be explained by fundamental physics principles. When considering the picture painted by these observations, however, it is hard to understand how bacteria are able to survive, as their hydrodynamic near-surface interactions would appear to be a serious obstacle to their survival. What makes their endurance in such unfavourable circumstances even more puzzling is the fact that in evolutionary terms, bacteria should be able to easily explore surfaces in order to find nutrients and/or to localize colonization sites. Citation: Studying the swimming patterns of bacteria near surfaces (2019, April 5) retrieved 18 August 2019 from Journal information: Nature Physics Credit: Perez Ipiña et al. Molecular characterization of the autotransport process of Yersinia adhesin A (YadA) The theory developed by Peruani and his colleagues allowed them to conclude that the frequency at which the observed ‘stops’ were occurring was far from random. Rather than hindering the bacteria’s activity, this frequency appeared to maximize their surface exploration.The study carried out by this team of researchers led to two very important observations. Firstly, the researchers realized that bacteria use transient adhesion as a mechanism to regulate surface exploration. Secondly, they observed the existence of an optimal stop frequency, which maximizes surface exploration. Enteroheamorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) and other pathogenic bacteria appear to be able to tune this frequency to its optimal value. “These two observations provide a better understanding of how bacteria explore surfaces, which is a necessary step to elucidate how they search for host cells, and how bacteria infect them,” Peruani said. “An important message from this study is that a physical understanding on how bacteria move on surfaces cannot be based exclusively on hydrodynamic interactions. Adhesion interactions also plays a crucial role. Moreover, it is the interplay between adhesion and the activity of the flagellar bundle that allows bacteria to reorient and escape from the circular traps imposed by hydrodynamic interactions.”The observations gathered by Peruani and his colleagues offer valuable new insights into the well-documented near-surface swimming patterns of bacteria. The researchers are now planning further studies aimed at understanding how pathogenic bacteria search for and infect host cells. For different species of bacteria, they expect to observe different search and colonization strategies. However, they also suspect that the number of strategies they will observe will be significantly smaller than the number of existing species of pathogenic bacteria.”A quantitative, physical understanding of bacterial infections, which is still missing, may provide hints on how to prevent bacterial infections,” Peruani added. “Our study, for instance, indicates that surface adhesion plays a crucial role in surface exploration. On the other hand, surface adhesion depends on the specific adhesins of the bacteria, as well as on the physical properties of the surface, and we will certainly try to think of ways to modify those physical properties.” A team of researchers at Université Côte d’Azur and Centre Scientifique de Monaco has recently carried out a study aimed at better understanding the near-surface swimming patterns of bacteria. Their paper, published in Nature Physics, could shed some light on how bacteria explore surfaces, how they search for host cells and how they infect these cells. “We were very intrigued by these issues and suspected that this reductionist fluid mechanics approach could not be the full story,” Fernando Peruani, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told “We thought bacteria should be able to cope with this handicap: getting trapped in a circular orbit is certainly not an efficient way to explore a surface. With this idea in mind, we decided to study how different bacterial species move on surfaces with the goal of understanding how surface exploration is actually performed.” The work of Peruani and his colleagues is part of a broader project aimed at better understanding how pathogenic bacteria infect host cells. In their recent study, they used video microscopy and tracked bacteria in a relatively large observation window, in order to obtain long bacterial trajectories. They later analyzed the statistics of these trajectories to closely observe the bacteria’s near-surface swimming patterns. “The abrupt changes in the speed displayed by the bacteria, which indicated that bacteria were intermittently stopping, immediately intrigued us,” Peruani said. “We then looked at the distribution of times bacteria were moving and not moving and understood that if a Markov chain formalism was used to describe the data, three states were required. This observation played a key role in our research.”Subsequently, the researchers revisited the data they had collected and analyzed the periods in which the bacteria had ‘stopped.’ They observed that bacteria were often tethered to the surface and were spinning around one of the tips of the cell body. “The evidence was clear: bacteria were exploring the surface by performing transient adhesion events,” Peruani said. “The next step was to construct a theory for a swimmer that has an internal state, controlled by a Markov chain, that adopts three possible values, each of them associated with a different equation of motion. This was a technical challenge, but the effort paid off.” Credit: Perez Ipiña et al. More information: Bacteria display optimal transport near surfaces. Nature Physics DOI: 10.1038/s41567-019-0460-5. Credit: Perez Ipiña et al. © 2019 Science X Network 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

A splash of Europe

first_imgThe story of a man who runs away from his girlfriend and bumps into a bride who has run away from her wedding, may sound like a typical Bollywood potboiler, but isn’t.The romantic comedy titled Committed from Cyprus is among a repertoire of 21 latest and award winning European films from as many countries, set for screening at the 20th edition of European Union Film Festival (EUFF), inaugurated on April 8  and is set to go on till April 20.The Instituto Cervantes, the India Habitat Centre and at the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre are among the venues for the EUFF organised by the delegation of European Union and embassies of EU member states with support of the Federation of Film Societies of India. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’“We have a wonderful collection of films and we decided this year that we wouldn’t have films on one particular topic, like in previous years. We decided just to bring to India the new films, the recent film that was the only criteria,” Joao Cravinho, Ambassador, European Union to India said.The films deal with subjects ranging from love, resilience, heroism, frustration and triumph. Stories of individuals and their families choosing their destinies while looming behind them is a turbulence, backdrop of history, politics also find place. Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with Netflix“In this edition, among others we have the story of a man who runs away from his girlfriend but then bumps into a bride who has run away from her wedding! We have the story of a female bullfighter from Spain who takes the country by storm, in an adaptation to Snowhite.“We have the Dutch film which brings us the character of Sophie, a happy woman with a perfect marriage who finds love or something else with a choreographer who loves her cooking.So a wide range of very exciting movies,” Cravinho said. Films provide glimpses into the life and times of people they portray and help break barriers of languages to bring people together across the world.“It is heartening to see that the EU film festival through its 20 years of journey in India has provided an ideal bridge between two vibrant cultural scenes with rich film traditions and has developed into a significant annual event in the calendar of film aficionados,” he said.Watching a movie in theatres also brings people of diverse thoughts and cultures together under one roof and makes them go through similar emotions and thus helps bring individuals together.“In Europe, just like India, we have a massive film industry. More or less the same size in terms of films produced each year. We discovered in Europe this cultural industry employs 6.7 million people and accounts for 3.5 per cent of GDP, that is not just of course the cinema but whole cultural industry. At an age when we tend to look more at economics, it is good to remember that culture is also a very much part of our economics,” Cravinho said.The festival was inaugurated by Cravinho and Aivars Groza, Ambassador of Latvia to India. Latvia currently holds the EU Presidency. The EU comprises 28 countries.Many of the films have won awards. A selection of the films set to be screened include Blancanieves (Snowhite) is a Spanish film based on the fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm and is centered on a female bullfighter.A Woman’s Revenge is a Portuguese film that captures the life of Roberto who is one of those men to whom the simulation has become the greatest art. The Last Sentence (Sweden) is based on the life of journalist Torgny Segerstedt.Shanghai Gypsy (Slovenia) is a story about four generations of a gypsy family. The Candidate (Slovak) is a cynical black humoured thriller situated in Slovakia during a presidential campaign.last_img read more

Rendezvous with Romania

first_imgRomania is a country which gives one the best option if an individual is looking for a vacation to experience inspiring places – authentic, natural.Cultural is a word that best captures the essence of Romania – a dynamic country rich in history, arts and scenic beauty. Romania offers countless unique travel experiences that are waiting to be discovered.The Embassy of Romania and Aska Tourism & Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd recently organised an event in the Capital to promote tourism exchange between Romania and India. The event took place in the presence of Secretary of State for Tourism (Romania), Cristina Ionela Tarteata, Cabinet Director, Loredana Neacsu, Ambassador of Romania to India, Radu Dobre and MD of Aska Tourism & Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, Rajbir Singh. Also Read – Add new books to your shelf It aimed to increase the awareness and attraction of Romania Tourism to encourage and support travel from India to Romania and vice versa. Tourism to Romania includes various segments like leisure tourism, health care, business, destination weddings and adventure tourism. The event included presentation about the Romanian tourism sector and the main offer in terms of tourism.”Romania itself offers countless unique travel experiences that are waiting to be discovered. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveA journey of three to four hours, by car or train, can take you from the Danube River to a beautiful, intact, medieval town; from Bucharest – Romania’s capital city – to the Black Sea; from Southern Transylvania to the historic regions of Bucovina or Maramures,” said Secretary of State for Tourism (Romania) Cristina Ionela Tarteata. “Take a step back in time as you visit one of the unique painted monasteries in Bucovina, the perfectly preserved hilltop citadel of Sighisoara or an authentic, centuries-old village in Maramures. Explore Romania’s many architectural treasures and experience its vibrant arts scene. We look forward to welcoming you to Romania!” she added. A number of century-old manor houses and residences, as well as unique hotels which stand out due to their interesting history, beautiful architecture, unique and traditional decorations, modern design, rooms with spectacular view, character and great value are presented in the section dedicated to distinctive, authentic accommodations in Romania. It is a southeastern European country known for its forested region of Transylvania, ringed by the Carpathian Mountains. Its preserved medieval towns include Sighişoara, and there are many fortified churches and castles, notably clifftop Bran Castle, long associated with the Dracula legend. Rugged stone churches and dazzling monasteries dot a pristine landscape of rocky mountains and hills.last_img read more

IIT KGP to launch 6month Artificial Intelligence course

first_imgKolkata: The Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur will launch a six-month Artificial Intelligence (AI) course at three centres in the country, a top official of the institute said Thursday. IIT-KGP, Director, Partha Pratim Chakrabarti told a press meet here that the certified programme is aimed at strengthening India’s talent pool in Machine Learning and AI. Chakrabarti said the courses, which will begin from March this year will be offered at IIT KGP’s Kolkata facility, at IIT KGP’s Kharagpur campus and at a rented premise at Bengaluru. Also Read – 3 injured, flight, train services hit as rains lash Bengal He said thousands of new jobs were being created in AI sector every year with AI growing at 10-15 per cent on annual rate and there was need to have more skilled people in the AI sector. “AI is the future which will more invade our lives in the coming days,” Chakrabarti said. Head, Centre for Artificial Intelligence, IIT KGP, Prof Sudeshna Sarkar said, the course with 300 students will consist of 16 modules – each having 12-hour duration. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killed Around 2 lakh jobs in AI are expected to be created by 2020 in India, Sarkar said. She said the classes will be taken by IIT KGP faculty, reputed academic institutions and industry experts. There will be 60 per cent from the IIT KGP faculty and academics and 40 per cent from industry who will be teaching the students in the 16 modules, Sarkar explained. She said the demand is getting higher in AI in the country than the total number of AI-skilled professionals and there was need to bridge that gap. The course modules have been carefully designed to cover mathematical and algorithmic foundations, AI fundamentals and statistical and machine learning methods. “The courses will have a blend on fundamental theoretical principles as well as hands-on component and industry use cases and students will have the opportunity to work on live projects. “Every course module will be based on assignments and exams and a certificate will be awarded based on successful completion of the modules. It will be rigorous,” she said. The students will be selected competitively from working professionals and senior students. Tools and platforms will be introduced to make the students, from working professionals and senior students, technologically competent and ready for jobs. The AI course, application for which commenced on January 2 for screening and shortlisting, will start from March 10, this year.last_img read more

Looking out for the true meaning of love

first_imgRaised in the United States, Astha Dixit – an engineer by profession – always knew that she was meant to dance. So, to continue her Kathak training, Dixit quit a lucrative career and chose to return back to India.”As a child, I learned the basics of Kathak in Los Angeles. But with increasing responsibilities and busy schedule, It was hard to pursue my passion. I took admission in engineering and went on to work in the same field for two consecutive years. But realizing that I was born to be a dancer, I moved to India and started my training with guru Harish Gangani and Malti Shyam,” stated Astha. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfA superlative performer and an artist of great calibre, Astha has performed in many top festivals including the ones held in Muscat, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and also at the world famous Baalbeck International festival in Lebanon. She has been a regular performer at Jahan-e-Khusrau every year for Muzaffar Ali.Thrilled to represent India on the international stage, Astha feels Kathak as a dance form still needs a lot of exposure.”There is a lot that we need to do to popularize this dance form. It’s sad that people still are unaware of Kathak in various parts of the world. I remember, when I performed in Baalbeck, it was the first time that people over there were introduced to Kathak. For the first time, they heard the sound of ghunghroos which left them mesmerized,” mentioned Astha who gets her inspiration from within. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveIt is her delicate art of abhinaya and natural expression on Sufi Kalaams that touch people’s heart. One such performance, where she unraveled the mysteries of love, was held in Kamani auditorium, New Delhi, on September 7.Titled ‘In search of love’, the Sufi musical was based on her journey and discoveries as a dancer, as well as her intense work on Sufi poetries. Soothing music synced with beautiful expressions and graceful gestures, the performance as a whole was a treat to watch. The main direction and choreography was by Astha Dixit whereas contemporary choreography was done by Shivam Chauhan. Music composers Ahsan Ali and Amaan Ali struck a melodious chord to make the production a complete masterpiece.Explaining Kathak is a form of story telling, Astha said, “A dancer uses her body as a vehicle to tell stories. In fact, the word Kathak is derived from ‘Katha’ – meaning story. In the ancient days, the Kathakars were story tellers who used to go from village to village narrating stories in an artistic manner.”last_img read more

A daughters search for her father

first_imgA Bengali feature film Runanubandha (the he without him) by Amartya Bhattacharyya has been officially selected as one of the three Indian films in the ‘International Competition’ at the prestigious 24th Kolkata International Film Festival 2018.’Runanubandha’ is a term used in spirituality which refers to the ‘body’s memory’ – which comprises of genetic memory and memory of intimate physical connect. It is this memory which is said to bind a parent and a child, a husband and a wife or any other intimate relationships. Also Read – Add new books to your shelfFeaturing the first time actor Priyanka Ghosh Roy as the protagonist character around which the film revolves, it unfolds the mystic journey of a daughter in pursuit of her father. in the metropolis of Kolkata. The daughter ‘Shatarupa’, finds the voice of her father in a young man who comes in her life as a director. The paternal traits draw her towards him, but she finds herself trapped elsewhere between emotional complexities and simplicity. Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveThe audience of the film will also witness the parallel drawn with the mythological tale of Lord Brahma, the universal father and creator, who was attracted to his own daughter Shatarupa (also known as Saraswati). Swastik Choudhury of Swastik Arthouse, who is also the producer of the film, plays a very interesting character. Susant Misra plays a short cameo. The music of the film is scored by Kisaloy Roy, and the renowned Rock star Rupam Islam (of Bangla Rock band Fossils) sings the title song. The film is shot in Kolkata and it captures some essential characteristics of the city in an unique way. Amartya has written, directed, captured and edited the film himself. The sound is designed by Sujoy Das of Filmstop Entertainment. This film is the third feature film of national award winner Amartya Bhattacharyya, who has earlier made two Odia films – Capital I and Khyanikaa (The Lost Idea), both critically acclaimed at various international film festivals round the world. However, Runanubandha is his first feature film in his mother tongue.last_img read more

Barista opens up to promote budding talent

first_imgNew Delhi: Barista Coffee has launched a new campaign to promote young talent by providing them a place with dedicated clientele and ambience to enable them to showcase their gift. In this endeavour, they are going to launch a young author Neel Mullick whose book Dark Blossom has been endorsed by Ruskin Bond & Rajdeep Sardesai. According to Mr. Puneet Gulati, CEO, Barista said, “We blend coffee like no one else, we would love to stimulate the minds and not just the taste buds, this is a small effort from our end to give a reliable platform where we would like to engage talent in book writing, magic, music, stand-up comedy and other forms of new age art.” Also Read – Add new books to your shelfThe pioneers of coffee culture in India who have been treating masses with their urban delights have recently moved into FMCG segment with their Choco-affair range of products and for ongoing winter season they have launched Winter treats to keep their customers delighted with their new and unique offerings. “Barista is a place to be for the people with intellectual tangent and I am glad that they are providing me a platform to promote my new book. I will be donating half of my royalties earned from Dark Blossom to IIMPACT, an NGO with the aim of breaking the cycle of illiteracy that plagues young girls from socially and economically impoverished communities” said Neel Mullick, Author. “Neel’s commitment to give back in various forms of charity, awards, opportunity to win a trip to NewYork etc had compelled us to have him on board with us to launch the book, which will be given along with the goodie bag in JLF 2019” emphasized Mr. Gulati, CEO, Baristalast_img read more

The First Leisure Canoes were Made of…Paper

first_imgThe late 19th century in the United States has been called “The Gilded Age.” The Civil War had ended, the American Industrial Revolution was in full swing, new incredibly abundant resources were being found, millionaires were being made seemingly overnight, and a new group was emerging – the American Middle Class. In New England, the Eastern Seaboard, and parts of the West, larger and larger numbers of people were escaping poverty. As people became more prosperous and labor laws began to change which gave people more “free time” or “leisure time” (two new terms at the time), industries arose which catered to the leisure activities that Americans were becoming interested in.One of these interests was boating for pleasure, and in Troy, New York, a father and son developed new types of canoes and other pleasure craft, which for a time were the most popular boats in the country – and they made the pair rich. These boats were made mostly of… paper.Troy, as viewed from across the Hudson River looking east, c. 1909.In the early 1800s a hard-working Vermonter named Elisha Waters moved to Troy and after a period of apprenticeship, opened his own pharmaceutical company. Mr. Waters made enough money to begin another business, that of box manufacturing. At the time, Troy was one of the richest and most industrial small cities in the country, and local industries and retailers needed boxes for shipment and delivery. Elisha Waters soon became quite rich.It’s hard to believe now, but in the 19th century, mass production of paper from wood pulp was a relatively new thing. Previously, sheets of paper had been made by hand — a laborious and expensive proposition. That expense was passed on to the consumer – one reason why students in most schools used to write on “slates,” not paper. Until the mid-1800s, paper was made from linen or cotton rag, but in the 1850s, inventors/chemists had developed a way to free the cellulose from wood and produce it in rolls. The Gilded Age was sometimes known as “The Age of Paper.”Canoe made from paper, France, illustration by Tilly from L’Illustration, Journal Universel, No 2272, Volume LXXXVIII, September 11, 1886.One day in the late 1860s, Waters’ teenage son George was invited to a masquerade party, but the mask he wanted (an over-sized head) was out of his price range (George being given an allowance by his prosperous father, not an expense account). Suddenly George had an idea – he talked his way into borrowing the mask for a few hours, took it home, and cleverly used it as a mold for his own paper copy, which was made from layer upon layer of thick paper made hard with a combination varnish/glue. This gave him another idea, which would make both he and his father very wealthy.George, like many other upper-class boys of the time, was involved in competitive rowing. His boat was a cast-off from a famous rower, but it had developed leaks. Fresh off his success in creating his mask with hardened paper, he used the same method to patch the holes and cracks in his boat. To his amazement, when he put the boat in water – no leaks.Competitive rowing.Fresh off that success, George went to his father with his idea. Soon, the pair were manufacturing canoes, competitive row-boats and eventually, large pleasure craft, including one model which had a seventeen passenger/six rower capacity and was forty-five feet long. The best part was that the Waters’ owned the patent for “paper boats.” By the late 1870s, father and son were quite rich.The process of making the boats was relatively simple. The Waters’ built both custom-made and mass-produced boats. The manufacturing process was essentially the same for all of the boats, however. First, a wooden frame would be made. The frame had grooves in it for a wooden keel to be fastened later, as well as grooves/spaces for the gunwales (the top edges of the hull). The frame would be placed on a building platform upside-down, and so-called “tacking strips” would be attached to the bottom (really the top) for a time – this enabled the paper to be stretched over and fastened to the mold. Enthusiasts Made A House Boat Of 100% Recycled CardboardFor most of the boats, the competitive rowing boats known as “racing shells,” the Waters’ used more expensive but high-quality manila paper, which was made from Manila hemp. Layer upon layer would be added, each of them one piece running down both the length and width of the frame, alternately. The very first sheet of paper would be slightly damp to mold exactly to the frame. Then it would be given a coat of adhesive, and another layer of paper added.Manila hemp drying on a bamboo pole.Then it would be moved to a heated room to dry. Once dry, the shell would be removed from the mold for finishing. The frame was left behind, and the keel and gunwales added. Then the father and son used a patented and secret water-proofing mixture to make their craft watertight, added a hardened paper deck and put in the proper hardware – such as oar-locks, etc. When the rowing shell was finished, it was only a foot wide, and was much much lighter than an equivalent wooden shell. The hull of this craft measured anywhere from 1/8 to 1/10 inch thick.The light weight of the craft resulted in both increased speed and portability. Within a short time the boats were accepted by competitive rowing clubs and college teams. Amateur canoeists and adventurers were soon ordering boats, and Waters & Sons (the official name of the firm) was getting free “PR” nation-wide. In 1872, one man endeavored to paddle the length of the Mississippi River in a Waters’ craft. He made it from Minnesota to St. Louis before he quit – not because of any problem with the boat, but because he was tired.RowingIn 1874, a man named Nathaniel Bishop ordered an 18-foot Waters’ craft which had a small sail, and places for two men to row. Bishop and a companion traveled from Troy via river and canal all the way to Cedar Key, Florida. He wrote a best-selling book titled The Voyage of the Paper Canoe about the journey.By the end of the century, Waters and Sons had branched out into other areas using their patented technology, which most successfully included the building of hardened, weather-proof paper domes on some of the new buildings going up throughout the Northeast and eastern Midwest. This included a dome atop the new observatory at West Point.Read another story from us:  The Flying Dutchman – The ghostly ship doomed to sail the Seven Seas foreverUnfortunately, success didn’t last forever. In 1901, George Waters was building a racing-shell and while using a blow-torch, accidentally set fire to the entire factory. It was a total loss. Within three years, both father and son died, and with them, Waters’ Paper Boats. Obviously, over time most recreational boats were (and are) made from fiberglass and other stronger and lighter materials.Matthew Gaskill holds an MA in European History and writes on a variety of topics from the Medieval World to WWII to genealogy and more. A former educator, he values curiosity and diligent research. He is the author of many best-selling Kindle works on Amazon.last_img read more

The True Story of Robert the Bruce – Scotlands Legendary King

first_imgRobert the Bruce (1274-1329) is one of the most celebrated figures of Scottish history. He united the majority of the clans and people of Scotland against the English in late 13th and early 14th centuries and re-established a fully independent Scotland, which had not been seen since before the reign of Malcolm III (r.1058-1093). Though the Scottish kingdom/nation had/has always been involved in some way or another with England, it was not until the reign of Malcolm that the English began to hold the keys to Scottish power.For the two centuries until Robert the Bruce, English monarchs controlled or influenced events in Scotland to a greater or lesser degree.Robert the Bruce.During the reign of Edward I of England, known both as “Longshanks” for his height, and “The Hammer of the Scots” for his punishing reign over and campaigns against them, Scottish politics was dominated by England.Portrait in Westminster Abbey, thought to be of Edward I.Edward’s political cunning, powerful military, and deep pockets provided the means by which he divided and controlled the Scottish nobility. However, in some circles, Edward’s involvement in Scottish affairs was welcomed, as the noble houses of the Scots were seemingly always at each others’ throats.In the last decade of the 1200s, the Scottish nobility was divided over the question of succession to the Scottish throne. Edward was invited in to settle the question, and he demanded that no matter who should be on the throne, they should recognize him as overlord.Early 14th century manuscript initial showing Edward and his wife Eleanor.Though there were as many as 14 men who claimed the throne of Scotland, the two with the most solid claims were John Balliol, a nobleman of likely Scottish and Anglo-Norman roots, and Robert the Bruce.Who was Robert the Bruce, and why is he called that? Simple. His true name was “Robert de Brus,” and he too was descended from the Anglo-Normans that resulted in the mixture of the Anglo-Saxons with the Norman invaders of England in 1066. “de Brus” has Norman-French roots. In modern English? “Robert the Bruce.” Robert was also descended from Gaelic/Scottish nobility, like Balliol.The face of Robert the Bruce by forensic sculptor Christian Corbet. Photo by S.A.Farabi CC BY-SA 4.0Robert was the 7th Earl of Annandale on his father’s side and the Earl of Carrick on his mother’s, both powerful positions and at the top of Scottish nobility. We know very little of him as a boy, but we do know that he was quite educated, having studied the Classics, philosophy, religion, history and spoke a number of languages.The remains of Turnberry Castle, Robert Bruce’s likely birthplace. Photo by Walter Baxter CC BY-SA 2.0Of course, he was also schooled in the arts of war, from planning to personal combat — like most nobles of the time. He was also familiar with politics from a young age, learning both from his parents, clergy/teachers and also from living in England, where he served in Edward I’s court for a time.In 2016, a 3D computerized rendering of Robert the Bruce’s face was done, based upon studies of what historians are sure are his bones (the bones even showed the traces of leprosy reportedly carried by the Bruce).Bruce crowned King of Scots – modern tableau at Edinburgh Castle. Photo by Kim Traynor CC BY-SA 3.0He was not handsome and not ugly, solidly built with a strong well-built bone structure, and was likely somewhere in the neighborhood of 5’9” and likely around 175-185 pounds.In 1292, the “Auditors” of Scotland chose John Balliol to be King of Scotland. This was not a surprise to most – his claim was as strong as Robert’s and his family quite powerful with ties of kinship to Edward I. In the dispute that followed the choice, Edward stepped in and declared John Balliol to be king.Robert the Bruce and his first wife Isabella of Mar, as depicted in the 1562 Forman Armorial.Soon, however, Edward was moving from being overlord in name to taking much of the power in Scotland and side-lining Balliol. Scottish politics were exceedingly Byzantine, and in what might seem a strange move, Robert the Bruce (aged 18) and his powerful father (who had renounced his claim in favor of his son) swore an oath to Edward I in 1296 – but this was more a move against their rival Balliol than for the English king.Bruce reading stories to his followers, from a 19th century Scottish history book.If the only Scottish “history” you know is from the film Braveheart, you might be confused by these events. In the film, Robert the Bruce personally strikes down his friend William Wallace in an act of treachery on behalf of Edward I – this never happened, it was done for dramatic effect. The truth is more complicated.In 1297, many of the Scots revolted against Edward I. From a personal perspective, the Bruce family was in a difficult position.The ‘Tyninghame’ copy of the Declaration of Arbroath.They had sworn for Edward, but more as rivals to John Balliol (who was now rebelling, having been pushed aside by his former ally in England) than friends to the English.Now, many of the leading families and much of the Scottish population was chafing against increasingly oppressive English rule and the presence of thousands of English troops in Scotland. The man who came to lead this rebellion was the charismatic William Wallace, the subject of the Mel Gibson film.The killing of Comyn in the Greyfriars church in Dumfries, as imagined by Felix Philippoteaux, a 19th century illustrator.After Wallace won a stunning victory at Stirling, Edward I sent the Bruce and other Scotsmen along with his army to crush the revolt. On the way, Robert had a change of heart and reportedly said: “No man holds his flesh and blood in hatred, and I am no exception. I must join my own people and the nation in whom I was born.”Unfortunately, the Scots were defeated in 1298, but though Wallace was killed, the Bruce family were allowed to keep their lands in exchange for another vow to Edward I. John Balliol had been forced into exile by Edward, and Robert the Bruce and another Scottish noble, John Comyn, were named “Guardians of Scotland” in 1299.Plaster cast of Robert I’s skull by William Scoular. Photo by Otter CC BY-SA 3.0For seven years, the Bruce and Comyn tried to rule Scotland together, but they hated each other with a passion, and both had claims to the vacant Scottish throne. In 1306, the two argued and Comyn was stabbed to death by Robert the Bruce – in church. As a result of this, the pope excommunicated Robert, and Edward I made him “outlaw.”The only alternative to a life in hiding, on the run or both was to rise up and claim his inheritance. In a separation from the pope in Rome, the Scottish clergy backed Bruce’s claims and declared him King of Scotland on March 25, 1306.Holkham Bible depiction of the Battle of Bannockburn (1314).Claiming to be king and being king are many times two different things. Edward of England marched on Scotland, defeated the armies of the Bruce family and its allies, and forced Robert to escape to northern Ireland, where he wintered and returned to Scotland the next year.Edward I died in 1307, but his son was just as determined to hold Scotland as the father. For the next seven years, Robert the Bruce and his men fought a guerrilla war against Edward II, his army and his few Scottish allies. Finally, in June of 1314, the Scots under the Bruce defeated the English at Bannockburn in Scotland.Though Bannockburn was the major engagement of the war, the English continued attempts to control Scotland, but all that was accomplished was to push the remaining Scottish nobles into the Bruce’ camp. In 1320, the nobility all swore for Robert, and he became Robert, King of Scotland.Read another story from us: The life of Mary Queen of Scots – Married 3 times, imprisoned and her untimely endRobert ruled an independent Scotland for another nine years and passed the crown to his son David II in 1329.last_img read more

Englands Most Famous Medieval Street Takes You Back in Time

first_imgThere are many cities across the UK with a street named The Shambles, such as Manchester, Worcester, Chesterfield, Whitby, and Chippenham. But no other quite resembles the uniqueness of the Shambles in York, a narrow street of authentic medieval shops and houses that used to accommodate a large amount of the city’s butchers.This magical piece of history is also renowned as J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley.Probably the most famous street in York, Shambles has been a shopping street since Tudor times and is possibly Europe’s most visited street.The word “Shamble” derives from the Old English words “sceamel” which means booth or bench.In the past, this famous street in York used to be called the Great Flesh Shambles, from the Anglo-Saxon word Fleshammels, which were shelves for butchers’ meat, writes Alan Franks in his article “What a Shambles: a walk around York’s ancient walls and alleys,” for The Guardian.The Shambles in heart of the city of York, England has changed very litle since it was first built hundreds of years ago and is visited by thousands of tourists every week of the year. Taken just after dark to show the street and window lights of the shops.York’s 900-year-old Shambles is known as “Europe’s best preserved” medieval street, as well as winning Google’s “Most Picturesque Street in Britain” in 2018.According to History of York website, many of the buildings on the street today were built between 1350 and 1475, while the long existence of the street was confirmed by its first mention in the Doomsday Book of 1086, a manuscript ordered by William the Conqueror.Early morning on the famous narrow medieval street in the historic centre of York, filled with shops, pubs and cafes.The buildings on Shambles have recognizable 15th century overhanging upper storys that lean towards each other, seemingly almost close enough to touch.York, UK – A woman walking along Shambles, one of the best known historical streets in Europe.The street would have been the place to buy meat in York; records show there were as many as 26 butchers shops, but none remain today.Much of the livestock was slaughtered on site, and the butchers would all wash out their premises twice a week, sending a river of blood and offal down the gently sloping street towards Fossgate.Shambles alley at sunset, York, England.So to make sure people could keep their feet clear of the waste, the pavements were raised on both sides, forming the cobbled channel that runs down the middle.Since the streets served for disposal of waste from the butcher’s shops, people threw their domestic garbage from the windows above the street into them as well. This only added to the unsanitary conditions.Shambles is probably the most famous street in York.Nowadays, tourists who visit the street can see original butcher’s hooks hung on the front of the shops or below the windows, even though the last butcher’s shut in 1872.Shambles — now a popular tourist destinationAnd while there is no butchers shop to buy meat, there are numerous shops to grab a bite such as an Italian bakery or the traditional Shambles Tavern.There are also cafes, pastries, handmade chocolates, jewelry shops, and various souvenir shops — Harry Potter fans will even find a place to buy themselves a new wand.The Shambles by night. Photo by Sebastian Mrozek CC BY-SA 3.0If you are ever visiting York, don’t miss the opportunity to take a walk along Shambles and examine its architecture. The street is very narrow by modern standards and one gets the impression of taking a step back in time.There is even a myth that at some sections of the street if you stretch your hands, you will be able to touch the house on the other side.Among the many charming buildings, number 35 is distinguished by its significance: the home of  Saint Margaret Clitherow, known as the Pearl of York.Read another story from us: A Walk Through History – The Ancient Pilgrimage Route from Canterbury to RomeAccording to the BBC’s The Pearl of York, written by Carole Green, Margaret was married to a prosperous Shambles butcher and in 1574, during the Protestant Reformation, she converted to Catholicism.She took to hiding Catholic priests and clergy vestments in her home but was betrayed to the authorities and arrested. Centuries later, Margert Clitherow was canonized, and in the 1970s her home was turned into a shrine.last_img read more

The Freakishly Giant Armadillos who Lived Alongside Early Humans

first_imgIf you are looking forward to the digital and DVD release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindenwald, besides digging your nose into a copy of a Harry Potter book in the meantime, you can also look back at some of the amazing life that roamed the Earth thousands or millions of years ago. One such fantastic beast was the glyptodon, a huge mammal that resembles a modern-day armadillo — its size and weight aptly amplified. This creature carried a large shell on its back, while its animated and bony tail was powerful enough to smash bones to pieces.Glyptodon. Photo by Arent CC BY SA 3.0Like a plethora of other wondrous creations of nature which coexisted side by side with humans, the glyptodon too went extinct. Though, the human factor might be only one part of the story of why this giant is no longer among us.The first fossils of glyptodon were found during the 1830s in South America. While Darwin is credited with recording the first fossil evidence of one subfamily of the species, glyptodontines, the creature’s first mention in written account is ascribed to Uruguayan botanist and naturalist, Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga.Fossil of a Glyptodon (Schistopleuron), 19th centuryIn a letter published in Georges Cuvier’s Recherches sur les ossemens fossiles de quadrupèdes in 1812, Larrañaga writes that he was lucky enough to stumble upon a femur, eight inches wide and which weighed an astonishing seven pounds. The remnants also included a portion of the tail.When other fragments of the extinct animal emerged in the region between the Amazon and Argentina, scientists initially assumed all of them belonged to a huge ground sloth. But the presence of bony plates on the fossils dissuaded scientists the creature was a sloth. More efforts were required to determine what the mysterious creature was.Vintage engraving of a Glyptodon, a genus of large, armored mammals of the subfamily Glyptodontinae that lived during the Pleistocene epoch.The question was resolved by Richard Owen, an English palaeontologist and anatomist, described by The Telegraph as “the greatest scientist you’ve never heard of,” and who besides giving the names to vast numbers of newly discovered species at the time, was also a teacher for the children of Queen Victoria.Related Video: 3,500-yr-old Prehistoric Friezes Unearthed near Lima:The Latin name Owen chose — glyptodon — means “grooved tooth”.Similarly to the armadillo, the head and tail of glyptodon extend out of the shell, which alone reached up to five feet in length. The back of the creature was armored with countless tiny scutes (bony plates) that perfectly fit together. The pattern of the scutes varied from one individual to another.Richard Owen’s 1839 reconstruction of a Glyptodon skeleton; teeth at right.All of these features made the glyptodon comparable also to turtles. However, unlike turtles, glyptodons were unable to pull back their head inside the body. Their head was still very agile and a bony cap on top of the skull additionally reinforced the creature’s defense.Glyptodon specimens normally grew up to 10 feet in length and could weigh 2,000 pounds — roughly equivalent to the size of a small car, the likes of a Volkswagen Beetle.Glyptodon skeleton and shell, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin. Photo by Dellex CC BY SA 3.0Its tail was indeed its deadliest feature. Armed with more bony growth, with it, an angry glyptodon mother would easily deter an enemy trying to attack her little ones.Further research has revealed that glyptodons roamed around South America from roughly 5.3 million years to about 10,000 years ago, enough for some of the species to migrate to North America as well. In geological epochs, this time frame matches the Pliocene and the Pleistocene.Pleistocene of South America: Restoration of Glyptodon in South American environment, alongside Megatherium and Argentavis. Photo by DiBgd CC BY-SA 3.0Somewhere at the end of their existence, glyptodons lived alongside early humans. Or at least tried to. As herbivores, they posed little danger to humans. Given their weight they were also slow to move. As more evidence suggests, the glyptodon often fell prey to our distant relatives.In glyptodons, early humans saw an abundant source of both food and shelter. Although the creature had stunning defensive capabilities, it had one startling point of weakness — its underbelly. This was the most exposed part of its body and easily prone to receive wounds from spears or other sharp antique weaponry.Armour of Glyptodon, Hungarian Natural History MuseumLionhearted early humans would confront these giants of nature, outwitting them to expose their belly and then attack. While the animal gave meat, its huge shell was used for shelter. Perhaps for protecting from any kind of malevolent weather or as a refuge from predators.Sadly, hunting is believed to have led to the decline of glyptodon populations. Some scholars also speculate that climate circumstances may have also played part in the species’ decline.GlyptodonAlthough, intriguingly enough, even in harsh weather conditions when it was hard to find any food, the glyptodon would have coped with little sustenance. Something that other megafauna at the time would hardly cope with.The last of the species would have roamed the Americas shortly after the last Ice Age. About 10,000 years ago the creature went extinct and all we have now left is fossils.Read another story from us: Earliest Brewery in Britain Discovered – And it’s Very, Very OldPerhaps one day long after we are gone, and when new creatures evolve on Earth, the glyptodon will return, either in a form resembling a huge turtle or a huge armadillo — its distant miniature relative we see in nature today.last_img read more

Presentations Made Easy With Slide Tool App

first_img This story appears in the October 2013 issue of . Subscribe » Register Now » Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Adam Tratt and Kevin Leneway didn’t set out to build a productivity app for small businesses. In 2011 the Seattle TechStars alums were busy trying to get their celebrity-driven Facebook game off the ground.Despite raising $600,000 in seed money, partnering with rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot (yes, he of “Baby Got Back” fame) and nabbing a mention on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Mix-N-Match With Sir Mix-A-Lot flopped. Nobody wanted to play.After a couple of course corrections fizzled out, Tratt and Leneway knew the jig was up. It was time to tell their investors they’d failed. Like good ‘treps, they planned to show up with a slide deck. But without their in-house designer, who had left when Mix-N-Match imploded, creating a decent deck was tear-your-hair-out frustrating. That’s when lightning struck.The duo knew they couldn’t be the only small business struggling to put together a slick presentation without a design staff. So they decided to invent a simpler way to get the job done. They built Haiku Deck, a free iPad app that can easily build spiffy slide decks.Here’s how it works: Type in a keyword, and the app searches the web for relevant images licensed via the nonprofit group Creative Commons, complete with attribution.Original photos are easy to add; charts and graphs can be created from scratch. The result is a hip, polished presentation that’s shareable on any device with a web browser. Presentations also can be shared via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, or on a blog or website.Adam Tratt of Haiku DeckHaiku Deck launched to rave reviews. “I’ve never seen such enthusiasm for a product,” says CEO Tratt, who cut his product-development teeth as an original employee of game company Cranium, bought in 2008 by Hasbro.Not wanting to waste momentum, he and Leneway, who serves as CTO, quickly began raising capital last fall. In March they closed a $3 million Series A round led by Bellevue, Wash.-based Trilogy Partnership, with contributions from Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group. (Madrona first invested in the two during their Sir-Mix-A-Lot days.)Yuval Neeman, a partner at Trilogy and a Haiku Deck board member, was attracted to the deal by the way the app democratizes presentation design and modernizes it for the mobile age. “Every business has a story to tell,” Neeman says. “Haiku Deck makes it so much easier than existing tools to do that.”Haiku Deck’s customer base of more than 600,000–who mainly use it for sales pitches or real-estate listings–have created more than 1 million slides. It’s been ranked a No. 1 productivity app in 36 international markets on the App Store.The app operates on a freemium model: The free version comes with seven slide-deck themes; additional themes cost $1.99 apiece or $14.99 for the entire 19-theme suite. Stock photos from Getty Images also are available through the app at $1.99 a pop.Tratt is using much of the $3 million raised this year to flesh out the development team (11 employees and counting), improve the product (a web-based version rolled out this summer) and offer above-and-beyond customer service (Haiku Deck employees like to surprise customers who make a support request by picking up the phone and calling them).The short-term goal is to grow the customer base. The long-term goal is to build a premium set of features–such as better analytics and the ability to capture sales leads–to sell to businesses at a subscription rate. Says Tratt: “We want to build a scalable platform that lots of people can use to create awesome presentations.” November 10, 2013 Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 3 min readlast_img read more

Consider Inventing as a Form of Investment

first_img Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Now Like any traditional business venture, inventing involves spending money to make money. Therefore, when contemplating the commercialization (and monetization) of an idea for an invention, think about all opportunities you have to spend your money and then consider whether it makes sense to invest.To make a good decision, have a clear understanding of this fascinating and exciting enterprise. Often, people are extremely passionate about their ideas. Although having passion is a good thing, don’t let it cloud your judgment. I’ve seen many lives disrupted by people going all in on a “sure thing” invention, only to have it not be as successful as they had hoped.To avoid unwanted heartbreak, think about inventing as an investment.Related: Inventing Can Be Fun, and Profitable. Here’s How to Get Started.First of all, investing in an invention is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor. Many factors can be controlled but others not as much — a scenario that can bring your invention plans to a screeching halt. Some factors are hard to detect until it’s too late.  A few years ago, I spent a full year developing a sophisticated aquarium filter for a client in a joint venture. Near the end of the project, a larger company with a similar project in the works, purchased the client’s firm. A showdown between our model and theirs was arranged to decide which one would be put into production. I had already ordered the first production samples from the factory, which had been working on the molds for four months. Then the UPS plane carrying my company’s samples burned up on the runway in Atlanta destroying everything. Rather than waiting for more samples, the client chose to cancel my project and wrecked a year’s worth of hard work.Countless other factors can’t be controlled, such as pending patents that you may be unaware of or competitive products just about to hit the market, which can crash your big plans. So no matter how smart you play your cards, be prepared to lose everything when investing in an invention. This potential for total loss raises the risk profile.Related: Eureka — a New Product Idea! Now Ask These 5 Questions.The biggest risk factor for the novice inventor is a lack of knowledge and perspective. To mitigate this risk, form a team or advisory board of experts to help you make decisions wisely.On the flip side, inventing can be a very high-reward investment. When done right, an invention can generate substantial passive income or result in the creation of a new company. I’ve witnessed investments of less than $10,000 turn into annual royalties of more than $100,000, potentially for more than than a decade.  The investment is usually complete once the idea is licensed, so the total investment is fixed and yet the money can keep coming in. This can lead to incredible return on investment of as much as 50 times the initial investment over time (much better than the return from traditional stocks or real estate investments).Plus there are numerous intangible benefits to investing in an invention. For example, the initial and imaginative stages of inventing (product designing, creative problem solving, visioneering) are inherently fun to do.Another benefit is that your invention is an exclusive investment opportunity. It’s only available to you (assuming you have an idea worth investing in and the ability to pursue it).This setup gives you, the inventor, unlimited opportunities, governed by your unique abilities, to realize a creation from a truly singular idea that you pursue with your own personal passion.Even if you fail, you’ll know you took a risk and at least tried to bring your ideas to life.Sometimes these benefits make it all to easy to ignore the telltale signs that a particular idea does not represent a good investment opportunity.Should you decide to invest in your idea (or someone else’s), follow these three simple guidelines, which I’ve culled from my personal investment advisor and finance coach, Ruben Rojas:Related: The ‘Aha!’ Moments of Famous Inventors (Infographic)1. The reward must justify the risk. Since inventing is inherently risky, make sure the idea has enough of an upside. Too many people invest heavily in ideas with small potential due to a limited market or difficult-to-navigate industry.2. Never invest more than you can afford to lose. And be prepared to lose it all. Don’t bet the farm on a risky investment. Maybe bet a few acres or a barn but never overextend yourself because despite your confidence, you may bet wrong. If your particular idea is going to cost more than you can spare, either gather other investors or try a simpler idea.3. Be prepared to spend more to make the investment work. Sometimes your first effort doesn’t result in the reaction you’ve hoped for. Evolving the product or adding more value to it can increase your chances at success. If you blow all your cash on the first pass, you’ll have no room to make adjustments later.When inventions work, they can be an extremely lucrative and exciting. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking into someone’s house and seeing one of your inventions there or on the shelves of Target or Bed Bath & Beyond.Inventing can make a lot of sense as part of a rational investment strategy if you happen to be someone with bright promising ideas. And as long as you play it smart, the risks can be managed to make the rewards worthwhile. Related: Your One-Stop Guide to Royalty Rates (Infographic) Enroll Now for Free 5 min read August 21, 2014 This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.last_img read more

Flight Cancelled Google Wants to Prevent You From Having a Meltdown

first_img 2 min read Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global August 21, 2014center_img Register Now » For business travelers, delayed or cancelled flights demolish long-anticipated meetings and can throw entire days into disarray. But new predictive technology courtesy of Google aims to stop airport meltdowns in their tracks and provide succinct alternatives with the mere tap of a smartphone.The company announced this week on its travel blog several new features for Google Now including a “Find alternate flights” link that automatically appears when flights are delayed or cancelled. The tool derives this information based on flight confirmations within users’ Gmail accounts.Additionally, the search giant is rolling out other features to diffuse a host of travel anxieties — including weather tracking, recommendations for restaurants at travel destinations, traffic estimates en route to airports and flight status information in real time.Related: Siri’s Founders Are Building Viv — the Personal Assistant Siri Should Have BeenFurthermore, Google Now can display boarding passes for certain airlines automatically. And upon arrival at one’s destination, the service provides directions to car-rental centers and hotels.In order to use these features, however, “you have to be comfortable with giving Google permission to sift through your Gmail account to get all the necessary details,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Users must also enable Google Now, which is basically a personal assistant tool within the Google Search mobile app and on Chrome.For now, the features are only available to Android users. While Google Now is available within the Google Search app for iOS, Google Now is built into the operating system of many Android devices themselves.Related: All-Knowing Google to Roll Out Geographically-Triggered Shopping Alertslast_img read more