Friday, August 28, 2009


Remembering Hassan Fathy – Egypt’s Green Architect Of the People

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Who was Hassan Fathy, the earth based architect who inspired the Middle East?

Exactly forty years ago, Hassan Fathy published his groundbreaking book on community-inspired mud architecture in Egypt. To mark his book’s 40th anniversary and commemorate his green legacy, we spoke to Salma Samar Damluji who worked with Fathy in Cairo in 1975 and now helps preserve mud architecture in Yemen.
Hassan Fathy was an Egyptian architect who wanted to build a different world using the cheapest material the earth provides – mud. When in 1946 he was commissioned to build a new village in Luxor, he did something which many architects at the time wouldn’t even contemplate. He asked the community what they wanted and integrated the best of their traditional earthen construction techniques with his architectural expertise. What emerged was ‘New Gourna’, a stunning earthen village with natural ventilation, large bright rooms, beautiful domes – and all at low cost too.
In 1972 he published ‘To Build With The People’, a book on this experience as well as his commitment to work with the poorest people in Egypt to secure their right to decent housing. A year later his book was republished by the University of Chicago Press under the new title ‘Architecture For The Poor’ where it triggered a wider international interest in his work and ideas. Hassan Fathy died in his home in Cairo on November 30th 1989. To mark his book’s 40th anniversary, I spoke to award-winning Iraqi architect Salma Samar Damluji who worked with Hassan Fathy in 1975-6 & 1984-5 and now helps preserve mud and stone architecture in Yemen.

I understand that you were ready to end your architecture studies until you came across Hassan Fathy’s work. Is that true?
Well, yes there was a brief stint when I was home [Beirut] from my studies over the summer when I wanted to quit. And I was thinking how am I going to tell my parents, after all the money that they spent sending me to the UK to study at the most expensive school of architecture? I was wanting to break this news to them when I bumped into Hassan Fathy and that changed everything.
hassan hasan fathy 
What was it about Hassan Fathy and his architecture that fascinated you and drew back into architecture?
I think he was the first person that made me understand that Islamic architecture and vernacular architecture isn’t history. That it can be part of the present and that vernacular architecture can be developed and is an important resource particularly to people who are deprived. It created a more dignified and luxurious space for them to live than concrete matchboxes (as they call them in Cairo) that were the alternative.
Fathy’s premise was that the peasants – the falaheen – who were the rural people could teach us a lot about living well. They used to live in four/five rooms with a patio and a kitchen and a bathroom, a backroom and a shed for the livestock. But soon as the government and the bureaucracy took over housing them, they were transferred into one/two rooms in horrid multi-store buildings. So this is what he was fighting and he learnt a lot from the rural housing of Nubia and upper egypt, and from the master builders and stonemasons who worked with him.
Why do you think Hassan Fathy had such a big influence in the field of architecture in the Middle East and in vernacular (earth) architecture worldwide?
Hasan Fathy has not had a big influence on the architecture in the middle east. In fact the middle east with its bureaucracy (and contractors) has been busy constructing for profit, without any proper design, planning or thinking, and (apart from a few numbered private clients) there was no real interest in Hasan Fathy’s ideas in the region. I am not sure much has changed there since.
He was the first Arab architect (there was another French architect and a British architect who worked with vernacular architecture in Algiers and in upper Egypt) to bring to the forefront and to the contemporary if you like the importance of earth architecture. He recognised its importance across history from the pre-Islamic era to the present day. He was that astute that he could recognise the fact that in the past, people used to know how to build much better than the kind of destructive construction that has taken over now.
He was also one of the first fighters against the recolonisation of architecture which you see today. He wanted to preserve Egypt’s architectural heritage and save it from concrete. He fought relentlessly and so did we alongside him to stop the expansion of imported ideas, imported architecture and the thinking that came with it.
qurna hassan fathy
What was it like to work with Fathy and what was he like as a person?
I first went to work with Fathy in 1974-1975, on my year out at the AA (School of Architecture) in London. It was one of the beautiful periods of my life, and I still look back at it with great fondness. I still miss him to this day. He was a delightful person to be and work with, erudite, gentle and terribly entertaining. He was completely pre-occupied with the projects he was working on, and the cause, the importance of Islamic and vernacular architecture and culture, and housing the poor.
I was completely engaged in taking up my role as assistant, student and companion. He was a wonderful tutor and mentor. I don’t recall a dull or boring moment. We always had so much to do. Designing, drawing (drafting), writing, putting together documents, helping him prepare his slides at the very last minute before he left on a trip abroad…And there was the essential listening to Brahms when there were no guests, or after they had all gone or when he was feeling lonely and dejected he brought his violin out.
As close as his heart was to rural and urban Egypt, his concerns where equally universal, and regional. Fathy redefined spaces, features, pavements and walls in a refreshing architectural language, while being outspoken and critical of the bureaucracy, corruption and condition (squalor, neglect and dilapidation) of the run down urban environment of old Cairo’s buildings, (this was prior to the later conservation projects of the Aga Khan Historic Cities programme). He lifted Islamic architecture out of the orientalist, museum and archaeological status it had acquired (after the Ottoman neo-classicist and colonial architecture era, 19th C. onwards), to a living architecture and town planning to be taken up in Architecture departments, and Arab universities. He was a revolutionary and that explains why working with him was so important and compelling for me at the time. However, his battles are now our battles.


36 கி.மீ. உயரத்திலிருந்து குதித்து ஒலியை விட வேகமாக பறந்த மனிதர்!
 அக்டோபர் 16, 2012, 19:10 [IST] Posted by: Chakra

ரோஸ்வெல்: வானில் 36 கி.மீ. உயரத்தில் இருந்து தரையில் குதித்து, ஒலியை விட வேகமாக பயணித்து, தரையை பத்திரமாக வந்து அடைந்துள்ளார் ஆஸ்திரியாவைச் சேர்ந்த பெலிக்ஸ் பவும்கார்ட்னர் (வயது 43) என்ற ஸ்கை டைவர்.

ஹீலியம் பலூன்:

இது தான் இதுவரை மிக அதிகமான உயரத்தில் இருந்து குதிக்கப்பட்ட சாதனையாகும். நேற்று முன் தினம் ஹீலியம் நிரப்பப்பட்ட 55 மாடி உயரம் கொண்ட ஹாட் ஏர் பலூன் உதவியுடன் இயங்கிய ஒரு விண்கலத்தில் ஏறி 1,28,100 அடி உயரத்தை அடைந்தார்.

ஓசோன் படலம்...

பூமியில் இருந்து 6 கிலோ மீட்டருக்கு மேல் 10 கி.மீ. வரை இருப்பது Troposhere. 10வது கிலோ மீட்டரில் இருந்து 50 கி.மீ. வரை இருப்பது stratosphere (வளி மண்டலம்). இதில் 20வது கிலோ மீட்டரில் தான் ஓசோன் படலம் உள்ளது.

36 கி.மீ. உயரத்தை அடைந்தவுடன்...

விமானங்கள் பறப்பது 10 முதல் 20 கி.மீ. உயரத்தில் தான். ஹாட் ஏர் பலூன்கள் தான் 40 கி.மீ. வரை செல்லும்.

இந்த உயரத்தில் ஆக்சிஜன் கிடையாது. வெப்ப நிலை மைனர் 70 டிகிரி. சுவாசிக்க முடியாது. பாதுகாப்பான ஸ்பெஸ் சூட் அணியாவிட்டால் உடலில் உள்ள திரவம் எல்லாம், கொப்புளமாக வெடிக்க ஆரம்பித்துவிடும்.

 வேகம் 833.9 மைல்கள்....

இதனால் செயற்கை ஆக்சிஸன் உதவியோடு ஹாட் ஏர் பலூனில் இருந்த விண்கலத்தில் பயணித்த பெலிக்ஸ் 36 கி.மீ. உயரத்தை அடைந்தவுடன் அங்கிருந்து குதித்தார்.

அடுத்த சில நிமிடங்களில் இவர் அடைந்த வேகம் 833.9 மைல்கள். அதாவது மணிக்கு 1,200 கி.மீ. வேகம். இந்த வேகத்தில் தரையை நோக்கி பாயத் தொடங்கினார் பெலிக்ஸ். ஒரு கட்டத்தில் ஒலியின் வேகத்தைக் கடந்து supersonic வேகத்தில் வந்தார்.

பாலைவனத்தில் பத்திரமாக...

4 நிமிடங்கள் 20 நொடி வரை அதாவது, 119,846 அடி வரை பாராசூட்டை திறக்காமல் அப்படியே தரையை நோக்கி free fall ஆக பாய்ந்து கொண்டிருந்தார் பெலிக்ஸ். இதன் பின்னர் தனது பாராசூட்டை திறந்து கொண்டு, வேகத்தைக் குறைத்துக் கொண்டு அமெரிக்க-மெக்ஸிகோ எல்லையில் பாலைவனத்தில் பத்திரமாக தரை இறங்கினார்.

36 கி.மீ. தூரத்தை இவர் கடந்தது மொத்தமே 9 நிமிடங்களில்!

''நாம் எவ்வளவு சிறிய ஜீவிகள்'':

அங்கிருந்து பூமியை பார்த்தது எப்படி இருந்தது என்று கேட்டால், ''நாம் எவ்வளவு சிறிய ஜீவிகள் என்பதை உணர சில நேரங்களில் இவ்வளவு உயரத்துக்கு போக வேண்டியிருக்கிறது'' என்று பதில் தந்தார் பெலிக்ஸ்.

இதே நாளில் 65 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்...

முதல் முதலாக ஒலியின் வேகத்தை கடந்தது அமெரிக்க விமானியான சக் யேகர். போர் விமானத்தில் அவர் இந்த சாதனையைச் செய்தார், சரியாக இதே நாளில் 65 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு!.

ROSWELL, N M: Felix Baumgartner stood alone at the edge of space, poised in the open doorway of a capsule suspended above Earth and wondering if he would make it back alive. Twenty-four miles (39 kilometers) below him, millions of people were right there with him, watching on the Internet and marveling at the wonder of the moment.
A second later, he stepped off the capsule and barreled toward the New Mexico desert as a tiny white speck against a darkly-tinted sky. Millions watched him breathlessly as he shattered the sound barrier and then landed safely about nine minutes later, becoming the world's first supersonic skydiver.
"When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data," Baumgartner said after the jump. "The only thing you want is to come back alive."
The tightly-orchestrated jump meant primarily to entertain became much more than that in the dizzying, breathtaking moment - a collectively shared cross between Neil Armstrong's moon landing and Evel Knievel's famed motorcycle jumps.
It was part scientific wonder, part daredevil reality show, with the live-streamed event instantly capturing the world's attention. It proved, once again, the power of the Internet in a world where news travels as fast as Twitter.
The event happened without a network broadcast in the United States, though organizers said more than 40 television stations in 50 countries - including cable's Discovery Channel in the U.S. - carried the live feed. Instead, millions flocked online, drawing more than 8 million simultaneous views to a YouTube live stream at its peak, YouTube officials said.
More than 130 digital outlets carried the live feed, organizers said.
It was a last hurrah for what some have billed as a dying Space Age, as NASA's shuttle program ends and the ways humans explore space is dramatically changing. As the jump unfolded, the space shuttle Endeavor crept toward a Los Angeles museum, where it will become nothing more than an exhibit.
Baumgartner, a 43-year-old Austrian, hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph (1,342 kph), according to preliminary data, and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft. The capsule he jumped from had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet (39,000 meters) above Earth, carried by a 55-story ultra-thin helium balloon.
Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as "Fearless Felix" lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant friends and spectators who closely followed at a command center. Among them was his mother, Eva Baumgartner, who was overcome with emotion, crying.
"Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are," an exuberant Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.
About half of Baumgartner's nine-minute descent was a free fall of 119,846 feet (36,529 meters), according to Brian Utley, a jump observer from the FAI, an international group that works to determine and maintain the integrity of aviation records.
During the first part of Baumgartner's free fall, anxious onlookers at the command center held their breath as he appeared to spin uncontrollably.
"When I was spinning first 10, 20 seconds, I never thought I was going to lose my life but I was disappointed because I'm going to lose my record. I put seven years of my life into this," he said.
He added: "In that situation, when you spin around, it's like hell and you don't know if you can get out of that spin or not. Of course, it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it."
Baumgartner said traveling faster than sound is "hard to describe because you don't feel it." The pressurized suit prevented him from feeling the rushing air or even the loud noise he made when breaking the sound barrier.
With no reference points, "you don't know how fast you travel," he said.
Coincidentally, Baumgartner's accomplishment came on the 65th anniversary of the day that U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first man to officially break the sound barrier in a jet. Yeager, in fact, commemorated that feat on Sunday, flying in the back seat of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet (9,000 meters) above California's Mojave Desert.
At Baumgartner's insistence, some 30 cameras recorded his stunt. Shortly after launch early Sunday, screens at mission control showed the capsule, dangling from the massive balloon, as it rose gracefully above the New Mexico desert. Baumgartner could be seen on video, calmly checking instruments inside the capsule.
The dive was more than just a stunt. NASA is eager to improve its blueprints for future spacesuits.
Baumgartner's team included Joe Kittinger, who first tried to break the sound barrier from 19.5 miles (31 kilometers) up in 1960, reaching speeds of 614 mph (988 kph). With Kittinger inside mission control, the two men could be heard going over technical details during the ascension.
"Our guardian angel will take care of you," Kittinger radioed to Baumgartner around the 100,000-foot mark.
After Baumgartner landed, his sponsor, Red Bull, posted a picture to Facebook of him kneeling on the ground. It generated nearly 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and more than 29,000 shares in less than 40 minutes.
On Twitter, half the worldwide trending topics had something to do with the jump. Among them was this tweet from NASA: "Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner and RedBull Stratos on record-breaking leap from the edge of space!"
This attempt marked the end of a long road for Baumgartner, a record-setting high-altitude jumper. He already made two preparation jumps in the area, one from 15 miles (25 kilometers) high and another from 18 miles (29 kilometers) high. He has said that this was his final jump.
Red Bull has never said how much the long-running, complex project cost.
Although he broke the sound barrier, the highest manned-balloon flight record and became the man to jump from the highest altitude, he failed to break Kittinger's 5 minute and 35 second longest free fall record. Baumgartner's was timed at 4 minutes and 20 seconds in free fall.
He said he opened his parachute at 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) because that was the plan.
"I was putting everything out there, and hope for the best and if we left one record for Joe - hey it's fine," he said when asked if he intentionally left the record for Kittinger to hold. "We needed Joe Kittinger to help us break his own record, and that tells the story of how difficult it was and how smart they were in the 60s. He is 84 years old, and he is still so bright and intelligent and enthusiastic".
Baumgartner has said he plans to settle down with his girlfriend and fly helicopters on mountain rescue and firefighting missions in the US and Austria.
Before that, though, he said, "I'll go back to LA to chill out for a few days."


Wastewater Treatment Plant from Israel Wins UN Recognition

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Israel, wastewater management, United Nation, UN, role model, local solutions, sustainability
The Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant, known in Israel as Shafdan, is among the thirty projects from around the world chosen by the UN as global role models for how local authorities can deal with environmental problems.
Shafdan utilizes the surrounding environment, the nearby sands of Rishon Letzion and Yavne, as natural filters for part of the water purification process. There are still kinks in the system that need to be worked out. Insufficiently purified water can damage adjacent soil before it even reaches the sands. The plant, in combination with Israel’s national water company Mekorot, is working to improve its methods. Mekorot routinely pumps 130 million cubic meters of purified sewage water into the sands. The resulting water is pure enough to be used for irrigation in Israel’s southern desert region, the Negev.
Shafdan is just one of many Israeli innovations that explores how to harvest natural resources for wastewater treatment. Just a few months ago young, Israeli students designed a solar-powered water treatment system that can be used at home.
Israel hopes to use this bounty of innovation and creativity to change its public image. It recently launched an advertising campaign on CNN International to coincide with the Rio+20 United Nations Conference, seeking to brand Israel as a “green county.” The tiny nation of Israel is indeed one of the world’s biggest producers of clean technology. But calling it a green country is problematic.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank have starkly different environmental practices than communities within the green line. In May, Dr. Yousef Abu Safief, Chairman of the Environment Quality Authority of Palestine, wrote an article in Aljazeera denouncing Israeli settlers for wasting water and illegally discharging wastewater, causing massive pollution.
He cited a study by the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) that reported: “around 80 per cent of the solid waste generated by the [Israeli] colonists is dumped…within the West Bank.”
In preparing for the Rio+20 United Nations Conference, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister, Gilad Erdan, expressed concern that Palestinian and Iranian leaders would draw the focus away from Israel’s innovation and concentrate exclusively on the ongoing occupation, referred to in Israel as “the situation.”
In general, Israelis feel that the UN is biased against them, even deliberately demonizing them in front of the world. Since its creation, the UN Human Rights Council has devoted 41.12 percent of its country-specific resolutions to condemning Israel. To put that in perspective, 4.67 percent of such resolutions condemned human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 5.61 percent addressed human rights abuses in Syria.
Despite the vast amount of innovation emerging from Israel, over the past few years only a handful of Israelis have managed to pass the tests for the UN’s Young Professionals Program. Out of the UN’s 70,000 employees, only between 60-80 are Israelis.
The UN’s recognition of Israeli successes, like Shafdan, is therefore significant both for its environmental know-how and its political potential. The human rights abuses of the occupation and Israel’s environmental problem solving are not mutually exclusive conversations. But so far Israel has responded to international pressure with self-imposed isolation. Acknowledging, rewarding, and cooperating with Israel’s successes are crucial to the UN’s legitimacy and ability to influence policy in the region. Israel needs to feel humanized by the UN, acknowledged just like any other nation for both its fiascos and its accomplishments. Maybe then it would dare reconsider its public relations priorities and focus that national creativity on resolving the situation.
Palestine, Israel, water, resources, wastewater management, human rights, environment
Environmental reports like the one published by the UN, which appreciated Shafdan, maintain a global perspective because the planet is interconnected. Environmental damage in a neighboring nation will cross borders; it cannot be kept at bay with checkpoints or walls. Therefore policies that stop at the borders are a hindrance to real, sustainable solutions.
We can only hope that Israel will recognize inconsistent policies as insufficient, and see all the work it has poured into preserving natural resources as yet another reason for finding local solutions to its regional conflicts.


Iranian Architect Nader Khalili Built Earth Buildings Fit for Space

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earth architecture, earth bag construction, green building, eco building, architecture, nader khalili, hassan fathy, sustainable architectureEarth bag construction is one of the most affordable and sustainable ways to build a home that is harmonious with the earth. Nader Khalili was a big proponent of this “super adobe” style structure.
If Hassan Fathy is the father of sustainable architecture, then Nader Khalili must be his close cousin. The Egyptian and Iranian architects respectively grew up with an interest in housing poor populations and refugees with earth architecture and both made enormous contributions to the modern application of ancient building techniques. But Khalili, who spent much of his career in the United States and received awards from the Aga Khan Foundation, NASA, and the United Nations, veered down a particularly unconventional path.
earth architecture, earth bag construction, green building, eco building, architecture, nader khalili, hassan fathy, sustainable architecture
Design with Rumi
Inspired by the mystic poet Rumi, timeless principles, and timeless materials, Khalili was renowned for his fixation on creating earth-based architecture with lunar and space applications, according to Arch1Design.
In 1984, he described to scientists at a NASA symposium called ““Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century” how to build “magma structures” based on the Geltaftan earth-and-fire ceramic system he founded. He was subsequently invited to the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a visiting scientist.
earth architecture, earth bag construction, green building, eco building, architecture, nader khalili, hassan fathy, sustainable architecture
Humanitarian design
In addition to writing six books and translating over 300 Rumi poems into English, Khalili found time to initiate the Geltaftan Foundation in 1986 and the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture – CalEarth – in 1991.
He is also responsible for a host of uber-sustainable designs including a futuristic community for 5,000 people in New Cuyama, California, a 20,000 strong community in Isfahan, Iran, and several earth-bag shelters, in addition to well over 100 “normal” commercial and residential projects.
earth architecture, earth bag construction, green building, eco building, architecture, nader khalili, hassan fathy, sustainable architecture
Earth bag structures
Khalili’s earth bag constructions are incredibly simple to build and within reach of people with even the most limited resources, which was always his aim. All that is necessary is to fill bags full of earth and lay them in a circular plan. According to the Aga Khan Foundation, “these shelters serve as a prototype for temporary housing using extremely inexpensive means to provide safe homes that can be built quickly and have the high insulation values necessary in arid climates.”
Despite being made from earth, air, water, and fire – the elements so crucial to Khalili’s metaphysics – these homes also include aesthetically-pleasing domes and arches and perform well in seismic conditions. Most importantly, a 14 square meter earth bag home costs little more than $4 to construct, the Aga Khan Foundation wrote in 1995. Today they will cost more, but not much.
earth architecture, earth bag construction, green building, eco building, architecture, nader khalili, hassan fathy, sustainable architecture
Although technology has brought much progress and should not be discounted, Nader Khalili’s low cost and low-tech architecture is accessible to a greater portion of the population and may even be useful on the moon and out in space! This is what we call sustainable.

PixelOptics to launch 'world's first
electronic focusing eyewear'

We have previously reported on the development of prototype adaptive focus glasses at the University of Arizona (UA) that were able to switch focus electronically. Unlike manually adjustable focus glasses, such as TruFocals, that place a flexible liquid lens between two rigid lenses, the lenses of the prototype glasses consisted of a layer of liquid crystals sandwiched between two pieces of glass. By applying an electric charge, the orientation of the liquid crystals – and therefore the optical path length through the lens – was able to be changed, resulting in glasses that changed focus electronically. This technology is now on its way to consumers with PixelOptics showing its emPower! glasses at CES 2011.

Relying on liquid crystals, the glasses, which PixelOptics will bring to market under the brand name emPower!, are able to switch focus in the blink of an eye and with no moving parts – unless you count the reorientation of the liquid crystals. Being electronically activated also allows for a neat feature. While the wearer is able to manually activate the change of focus by touching the arm of the emPower! glasses, thanks to an accelerometer embedded in the arm, with a swipe they can also set the glasses to change focus automatically when they look down to read.

Being electronic also means batteries. The battery embedded in the glasses can be recharged in around two hours using an inductive charger and is good for two to three days, depending on usage patterns.

Calling them the “world’s first electronic focusing eyewear,” PixelOptics' emPower! glasses are based on the technology originally developed at UA, which licensed three patents to Johnson & Johnson, who then sold the patent licenses to PixelOptics to commercialize the technology. That commercialization is set to happen some time this year when PixelOptics plans to launch its emPower! glasses in around 36 different styles for around US$1,000 to $1,200.


Signs of the Day

of Judgment:

NASA confirms


of sun rising from

the West

The science of astronomy states that the speed
of planet Mars has been decreasing in its course
toward the eastern direction in the past few weeks
to the level we notice the "waver" between the east
and the west..and on Wednesday the 30th of July
the planet movement stopped going toward the
eastern direction.

Then in the months of August and September...
Mars changed its course in the opposite direction
to the West- and that until the end of September..
which means the sun will rise now from the west
on Mars!! And this weird phenomena of the
opposite movement is called "Retrograde Motion"
Most scientist state that all the planets will go
through the same once at least and our planet
Earth is one of them. Planet Earth will move in
the opposite direction some day and the sun will
rise from the west!!

This might occur soon and we are unaware!
The rise of the sun from the west is mentioned
in the hadith and this is the major sign of the
day of judgment, most if not all, the minor sign
s have occurred. Wake up.

Our beloved messenger Mohamed
(Peace Be Upon Him) said: "One of the signs
of the hour..the sun will rise from the west,
where no longer tauba (forgiveness) will be
granted" !!And the strange thing..most of our
Shariah scholars mentioned that the rise of th
e sun from the west occurs only once..on that
day..the sun will rise from the west..then again
from the east..and continues until Allah wishes
..and this is similar to what is happening to Mars stops, then it changes its course of direction
for a short period of time..then returns to way
once it was.

And Abdullah Bin Amro (R.A.) said:
(I memorized from the messenger (SAW)
a hadith I will never forget..I heard the
messenger of Allah (SAW) say: The first aya to
come the rise of the sun from the west) [Ahmad]
. And the messenger SAW "Allah places HIS hand
at night to forgive his morning sinners, and
places in the morning to forgive his night
sinners until the sun rises from the west" [Muslim].

This piece of news is very important as it
brings with it a great sign of warning and
remembrance of the coming of a new WORLD
- the world of he Hereafter When we show this
hadith that was told 1400 years ago about this will see InshaALLAH, a lot will
revert to right path...And the Muslims if they
see this phenomena happening in Mars..who
knows maybe it would bring them closer to

May Allah keep all of us in the right path and
provide us with success in this world as well
as in the hereafter.


The more kids, the lower moms' suicide risk

(Reuters Health) - Supporting the theory that
parenthood offers a buffer against suicidal
behavior, a new study finds that the more
children a woman has, the lower her suicide

There is a long-standing theory that the
historically lower suicide rates seen among
married versus unmarried women reflects a
"protective effect" of motherhood, rather
than advantages of marriage per se.

These latest findings give some support to
that theory, researcher Dr. Chun-Yuh Yang,
of Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan,
told Reuters Health by email.

Looking at 30 years' worth of data on 1.3 million
Taiwanese mothers, Yang found that women
with two children were 39 percent less likely
than those with one child to commit suicide.

That risk was 60 percent lower among women
with three or more children, Yang reports in
the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The findings are based on birth and mortality
records for Taiwanese women who had their
first child between 1978 and 1987. Yang
followed death rates for the study group
through 2007.

Suicide was uncommon regardless of the number
of children the women had. Among women with
one child, there were 11 suicides per 100,000
women per year; that rate was seven per
100,000 among women with two children,
and just under six per 100,000 among
mothers with three or more children.

When Yang factored in a number of other
variables -- including the women's age at
first birth, marital status and education level
-- the number of children a woman had
remained linked to suicide risk.

It's possible, Yang said, that women with a
large brood of children benefit from greater
emotional or material support when times are
tough. Women who have several children also
spend a larger share of their lives caring for
young children compared with mothers who
have one child; mothers who feel "needed,"
Yang noted, may be less vulnerable to suicide.

However, the researcher said, it is also likely
that women who are already more vulnerable
to suicide -- because of serious depression or
other psychiatric illnesses -- tend to have
fewer children. This is probably an "important
explanation" for the findings, according to Yang.

One previous study, Yang noted, found that
women with no children showed a higher suicide
risk than mothers in general. Again, that could
signal some sort of protective effect of motherhood,
or the fact that women with psychiatric disorders
are less likely to have children.

Although the current study included only Taiwanese
women, Yang said the findings are likely relevant
to other countries as well. Studies done in Norway,
Denmark and Finland have found a similar relationship
between a woman's number of children and her
risk of suicide.

SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal,
online March 22, 2010.


Braille Interpreter:

Braille is no

more a complicated


Introduction of the ‘Braille language’
by Louis Braille, a Frenchman, about a century
back was certainly a blessing
for the visually impaired. However,
mastering the ‘Braille’
isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, as it
requires professional
training and a lot of practice to
master the special
language. Designer Hyung Jin Lim
has come up with an
innovative device called the
‘Braille Interpreter’ that
helps in interpreting the complicated
language, making
life easier for the visually deprived.
Coming in the shape
of a single finger glove, the interpreter
is a tactile sensor,
a Bluetooth headphone and interpreting
software. Users
may simply wear the glove, which
interprets the feed by
moving the index finger over the Braille
alphabets and
transfers to the headphone as voice
data through
Bluetooth. The Braille Interpreter is
certainly an innovative
design for a noble cause.



A bird, a plane?

Puffin lets you

fly Bond-style

The American space agency, Nasa, is to unveil a
prototype of a personal flying machine capable
of propelling soldiers behind enemy

The mini aircraft, which can soar 50 miles through
the clouds or under radar, has been named the
Puffin, after the small waterbird famed for being
to land on impossible terrain.

Last week, when Nasa's dreams of returning to
the Moon were grounded by American President
Barack Obama, the agency revealed that a
prototype Puffin will fly later this year.

Looking like something out of a James Bond film,
the full-scale machine will be 12 feet high with
a 13 feet wingspan, between which a pilot will
stand up and shoot into the sky vertically.
The Puffin's stumpy feet will retract during
takeoff but spread out again on landing.

Officially called the Puffin Low Noise,
Electric VTOL Personal Air Vehicle, it can
reach 30,000ft — almost as high as a jumbo jet
— and cruise at 150mph (241kmph).

Mark Moore, head of the Puffin design team,
said in an interview that by using batteries
rather than jet engines the aircraft will be no
louder than a low-level hum.

"If you have ever seen a puffin on the ground,
it looks very awkward, with wings too small
to fly, and that's exactly what our vehicle
looks like," said Moore.

"But the bird is very environmentally friendly
it hides its poop and we are the same —
essentially have no emissions."

The device was initially designed to launch from
, carrying a Navy Seal commando across enemy
lines, but Nasa hopes to sell it to daredevil
private pilots and businesses such as bank
couriers so they can fly over congested roads.

Recent breakthroughs in lighter, tougher
composite materials have fuelled a surge in
futuristic aircraft design, including Virgin boss
Richard Branson's White Knight Two spaceship
carrier and the Terrafugia light aircraft, which
turns into a Smart car-sized road vehicle.

The Terrafugia, expected to go on sale for
$200,000 from next year, has been designed
by some of the same engineers at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
who have played a major role in
developing Puffin.


Fish oil may

bethe true

'elixir of youth'

Fish oil may be the true ‘elixir of youth'' because
of its effects on our biological ageing, according
to a new

Scientists from the University of California at
San Francisco say that omega-3 fatty acids from
fish oil extend the genetic ‘fuse’ that determines
the lifespan of cells.

According to the researchers, their finding,
made in heart disease patients, could help
confirm many of the claims made about
health benefits of omega-3.

Taking fish oil supplements is said to protect
against heart disease, improve survival after
a heart attack, reduce mental decline, and
prevent age-related changes in the eye that
can lead to blindness.

"These findings raise the possibility that
omega-3 may protect against cellular ageing
in patients with coronary heart disease,
" the Scotsman quoted
Dr Ramin Farzaneh-Far from the
University of California at
San Francisco as saying.

Hearing impaired can now

hear without hearing aids

Allahabad, Sep 29 : A latest scientific discovery brought good news for the hearing impaired as now they can hear even without a hearing-aid.

As a result of a recent research by the prestigious Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIT-A), a sensor ball has been developed.

The functioning of this sensor ball would be based on the vibration theory. The ball would send hearing signals to the brain of the person who remains in touch with it.

According to Prof M D Tiwari, director of IIIT-A, this ball is very small in size and will start functioning as soon as it touches any part of the body. ''By touching this ball to any part of the body which is directly commanded by brain, a hearing disabled person could start hearing,'' he told UNI.

He also said when the ball is touched by any sensory part of body, it would connect to sensory system of the brain and one could hear.

Mr Tiwari said a normal Hindi speaking person speaks 450-500 words in a day and some of these words would be recognised by this sensor ball. '' We have already developed more than 20 words and rest of the words would be developed within three months, he claimed.

'' Once it proves to be beneficial for the Hindi speakers, its translation to any language would not be difficult,'' he said.

Prof Radha Krishnan, head of the research team, said the sensor ball, smaller than a tennis ball in size, could be a boon to the hearing impaired.

Cameras bring vision to the blind

NYT News Service 28 September 2009, 12:16am IST
Blindness first began creeping up on Barbara Campbell when she was a teenager, and by her late 30s, her eye disease had stolen what was left of
her sight. Reliant on a talking computer for reading and a cane for navigating New York, where she lives and works, Campbell, now 56, would have been thrilled to see something. Anything.

Now, as part of a striking experiment, she can. So far, she can detect burners on her stove when making a grilled cheese, her mirror frame, and whether her computer monitor is on. She is beginning a three-year project involving electrodes surgically implanted in her eye, a camera on the bridge of her nose and a video processor strapped to her waist.

The project, involving patients in the US, Mexico and Europe, is part of a burst of recent research aimed at one of science’s most-sought-after holy grails:making the blind see. Some of the 37 other participants further along in the project can differentiate plates from cups, tell grass from sidewalk, sort white socks from dark, distinguish doors and windows, identify large letters of the alphabet, and see where people are, albeit not details about them.

Scientists involved in the project, the artificial retina, say they have plans to develop the technology to allow people to read, write and recognize faces. With the artificial retina, a sheet of electrodes is implanted in the eye. The person wears glasses with a tiny camera, which captures images that the belt-pack video processor translates into patterns of light and dark, like the “pixelized image we see on a stadium scoreboard,” said Jessy Dorn, a scientist at Second Sight Medical Products, which produces the device, collaborating with the US Department of Energy.

The video processor directs each electrode to transmit signals representing an object’s contours, brightness and contrast, which pulse along optic neurons into the brain.


Water found on the moon - and it's India's first lunar mission that detects it

By Ryan Kisiel
Last updated at 6:53 AM on 24th September 2009
Large quantities of water has been found on the Moon's surface, it has been revealed.
The scientific discovery that is due to be announced by NASA today (Thurs) makes the science fiction fantasy of man colonising the rock a possibility.
The evidence suggests that the presence of water on the surface of the Moon means that it is still being naturally formed.
Evidence of water has been found on the moon, prompting scientists at NASA to hold a news conference
Evidence of water has been found on the moon, prompting scientists at NASA to hold a news conference
The Indian lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 found detected the water as it was carrying out the country's first lunar mission.
It was fitted with a Moon Mineralogy Mapper, designed specifically to search for water by picking up the electromagnetic radiation emitted by minerals.
The machine was designed by NASA, to detect water on and just below the surface of the Moon. Unlike previous lunar water searching equipment, it was more sensitive and could detect much smaller amounts of water.
The un-manned Indian Space Research Organisation shuttle launched into orbit around the Moon in October last year.
ISRO lost control of Chandrayaan-1 last month, and aborted the mission ahead of schedule, but not before M3 and the other instruments had beamed back the vital data suggesting water is on the moon.
Experts believe the water is trapped in the Moon's surface dirt and in theory can be extracted in large quantities to support life.
India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India in October 2008
India's maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India in October 2008
Scientists have long dreamed that astronauts could be based on the Moon and use water found on the rock to drink, extract oxygen to breathe and use its hydrogen as a fuel.
Several previous studies have suggested that there could be ice in the craters around the Moon’s poles, but scientists have yet been unable to confirm the suspicions.
'It’s very satisfying,' said Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 at IRSO in Bangalore.
He added: 'This was one of the main objectives of Chandrayaan-1, to find evidence of water on the Moon.'
Another lunar scientist familiar with the findings said: 'This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.'
Dr Annadurai is due to reveal more about the discovery at a NASA press conference later today.
The announcement comes two weeks before a NASA probe will be smashed near the moon's south pole to see whether it can kick up buried ice.
Over the last decade, astronomers have found some signs of underground ice on the moon's poles. This latest discovery is quite different. It finds unexpected and pervasive water clinging to the surface of soil, not absorbed into it.

How many people
have you slept with?
2.8 million?

LONDON — The average British man or woman has slept with 2.8 million people -- albeit indirectly, according to figures released on Wednesday to promote awareness of sexual health.
A British pharmacy chain has launched an online calculator which helps you work out how many partners you have had, in the sense of exposure to risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
The "Sex Degrees of Separation" ready reckoner tots up the numbers based on your number of partners, then their previous partners, and their former lovers, and so on for six "generations" of partners.
The average British man claims to have actually slept with nine people, while women put the figure at 6.3, giving an average of 7.65.
"When we sleep with someone, we are, in effect, not only sleeping with them, but also their previous partners and their partners' previous partners, and so on," said Clare Kerr, head of sexual health at Lloydspharmacy.
"It's important that people understand how exposed they are to STIs and take appropriate precautions including using condoms and getting themselves checked out where appropriate."


Stem cell therapy for blindness under lens

Hundreds of desperate British patients have spent up to £30,000 on unproven stem cell treatments in China and elsewhere, an investigation by the

Sunday Times found.

One treatment, popular among the parents of blind babies, has been branded “child abuse” by a leading British stem cell researcher because of its possible risks. The Chinese company selling the stem cell therapy admitted this weekend that it had not yet conducted clinical trials of the treatment. The firm, Beike Biotech, also admitted that it could not say how many children had experienced improvements.

A number of British parents have resorted to launching fundraising appeals around the country to pay for the therapy abroad. The stem cell treatment offered by the Chinese company has not yet won regulatory approval in the UK.

Pete Coffey of the University College London said that there is no medical evidence that the method offered by Beike Biotech works and added that the babies’ health could be put at risk.

Coffey, who is running a trial with Pfizer to treat blindness with stem cells, said there is no medical evidence of improvement. “We don’t know if there have been any side effects,” he said.


Scientists will replicate human brain in 10 years

LONDON: Within 10 years, scientists will be able to create a model that replicates the functions of the human brain, says a neuroscientist.

"I absolutely believe it is technically and biologically possible. The only uncertainty is financial. It is an extremely expensive project and not all is yet secured," says Henry Markram, professor at the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland.

"The brain is of course extremely complex because it has trillions of synapses, billions of neurons, millions of proteins, and thousands of genes. But they are still finite in number," says Markram.

"Today's technology is already highly sophisticated and it allows us to reverse engineer the brain rapidly." An example of the capability already in place is that today's robots can do screenings and mappings tens of thousands of times faster than humans.

Another hurdle on the path to a model human brain is that 100 years of neuroscience discovery has led to millions of fragments of data and knowledge that have never been brought together and exploited fully.

"The biggest challenge is to understand how electrical-magnetic-chemical patterns in the brain convert into our perception of reality. We think we see with our eyes, but in fact most of what we 'see' is generated as a projection by your brain. So what are we actually looking at when we look at something 'outside' us?"

For Markram, the most exciting part of his research is putting together the hundreds of thousands of small pieces of data that his lab has collected over the past 15 years, and seeing what a microcircuit of the brain looks like.

"When we first switched it on it already started to display some interesting emergent properties. But this is just the beginning because we know now that it is possible to build it.

"As we progress we are learning about design secrets of our brains which were unimaginable before. In fact the brain uses some simple rules to solve highly complex problems and extracting each of these rules one by one is very exciting."

"For example, we have been surprised at finding simple design principles that allow billions of neurons to connect to each other. I think we will understand how the brain is designed and works before we have finished building it," Markram says.

The opportunities for this neuroscience research challenge are immense, explains Markram, according to an AlphaGalileo Foundation release.

"A brain model will sit on a massive supercomputer and serve as a kind of educational and diagnostic service to society. As the industrial revolution in science progresses we will generate more data than anyone can track or any computer can store, so models that can absorb it are simply unavoidable."


Supplied picture
American University of Sharjah students have designed 'green' mosques to save energy.

'Green' mosques

Staff Report
Published: June 22, 2009, 09:4


Mobile phone towers a threat to honey bees: Study

NEW DELHI: The electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phone towers and cellphones can pose a threat to honey bees, a study published in India
has concluded.

An experiment conducted in the southern state of Kerala found that a sudden fall in the bee population was caused by towers installed across the state by cellphone companies to increase their network.

The electromagnetic waves emitted by the towers crippled the "navigational skills" of the worker bees that go out to collect nectar from flowers to sustain bee colonies, said Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy, who conducted the study, said.

He found that when a cell phone was kept near a beehive, the worker bees were unable to return, leaving the hives with only the queens and eggs and resulting in the collapse of the colony within ten days.

Over 100,000 people in Kerala are engaged in apiculture and the dwindling worker bee population poses a threat to their livelihood. The bees also play a vital role in pollinating flowers to sustain vegetation.

If towers and mobile phones further increase, honey bees might be wiped out in 10 years, Pattazhy said.


India loses Moon satellite links

Chandrayaan 1 (ISRO)
All contact with Chandrayaan-1 was lost early on Saturday

All communication links with the only Indian satellite orbiting the Moon have been lost, India's space agency says.
Radio contact with the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft was lost abruptly early on Saturday, said India's Bangalore-based Space Research Organization (Isro).
The unmanned craft was launched last October in what was billed as a two-year mission of exploration.
The launch was regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.

Following its launch from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, it was hoped the robotic probe would orbit the Moon, compile a 3-D atlas of the lunar surface and map the distribution of elements and minerals.
Useful mission?
Last month the satellite experienced a technical problem when a sensor malfunctioned.

1 - Chandrayaan Energetic Neutral Analyzer (CENA)
2 - Moon Impact Probe (MIP)
3 - Radiation Dose Monitor (RADOM)
4 - Terrain Mapping Camera (TMC)
5 - Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)
6 - Chandrayaan 1 X-ray Spectrometer (C1XS)
7 - Solar Panel

An Isro spokesman said at the time that useful information had already been gathered from pictures beamed to Earth from the probe, although the picture quality had been affected by the malfunction.
Powered by a single solar panel generating about 700 watts, the Isro probe carries five Indian-built instruments and six constructed in other countries, including the US, Britain and Germany.
The mission was expected to cost 3.8bn rupees (£45m; $78m), considerably less than Japanese and Chinese probes sent to the Moon last year.
But the Indian government's space efforts have not been welcomed by all.
Some critics regard the space programme as a waste of resources in a country where millions still lack basic services.


Kalam enthrals Carmelites

BANGALORE: Hundreds of Mount Carmel College students clapped like schoolchildren during an interaction with Abdul Kalam on Saturday

"When I was given the satellite-launch vehicle project, I had very good faculty but not the courage. My professor told me I wouldn't face any problems if I did nothing, but neither would I achieve anything. So I started. Problems came, but I surpassed them," Kalam said, stressing on the importance of perseverence.

"Fix an aim in life and continuously acquire knowledge to gain it. I made mine when my elementary school teacher taught me how birds fly," he said. Citing Mother Teresa, Wangari Maathai and the book `Everyday Greatness', he said what the world needs today is leadership with compassion. "An empowered woman can create harmony at home. And a righteous heart can create peace in the world." Kalam made students take an oath to work for others and for the country.

Breast milk is highly nutritious
Health workers are keen to promote the advantages of breastfeeding.
Experts, including the World Health Organization, recommend that a baby is breast fed exclusively for at least the first six months.
However, many women still prefer to use formula milk, and campaigners argue that the government needs to do more to encourage women to breastfeed.
The benefits of breastfeeding include:
  • Nutrition: Breast milk is the ideal food for a baby. It is nutritionally balanced, with the perfect amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and iron to help the baby to grow.
  • Boosting immunity: The baby receives the mother's antibodies to help it fight infection
  • Less likelihood that the baby suffers constipation, diarrhoea and wind
  • More protection against gastroenteritis, childhood diabetes, allergies like eczema and chest and ear infections
  • Convenience: There is no need to get up in the night to sterilise bottles. Breast milk is always at the right temperature, is available immediately, is easy for the baby to digest, contains all the nutrients the baby needs and is free
  • Reduction in the risk of the mother contracting early breast or ovarian cancer and fracturing her hips
  • A speedier return to the pre-pregnancy figure for the mother as breastfeeding helps the womb to contract and also burns up calories
The benefits of bottle feeding include:

  • Convenience: The mother does not have to do all the feeding and can leave the baby with others while she catches up on sleep or gets a break from the baby. Breastfeeding mothers can express their milk into a bottle to give themselves a break, but many find this uncomfortable
  • Less anxiety: The mother can measure how much milk the baby is taking in, although breastfeeding mothers can tell if their baby is not getting enough milk through monitoring their weight gain
  • More sleep: Formula milk is more difficult to digest for the baby so they tend to sleep longer.
  • Comfort: If a breastfeeding mother misses or delays a feed, her breasts may overfill and become painful and start leaking milk. Some women develop an infection called mastitis - painful, inflamed breasts.
    Others may experience lumps in the breast caused by blocked milk ducts.
    Both conditions can be treated, for example, by changing breastfeeding position. Women with severe mastitis may need antibiotics. Although organisations exist to help breastfeeding mothers, many complain that they still do not get enough advice.
    They often, for example, experience difficulty weaning babies onto formula milk once the baby is used to breast milk and they have to go back to work.
    Women who return to work can continue to breastfeed at night and in the morning while giving their baby formula milk during the day.
    However, they will not get as much protection as a baby who is wholly breast fed.
  • =================================================================================

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