Monday, March 29, 2010

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

All it takes is for the earth to have an atmosphere and the sun to eject ions at speeds up to 1200 km/second then BAM! You’ve got some unbelievable mother nature action. Imagine what people must have thought, thousands of years ago, when they saw these streams and swirls of light and color in the evening sky. Watching this spectacular celestial phenomena today, for that matter, is beyond spectacular.

[ Warning: Lots of images. Please allow for images to load. ]

Aurora happens in both the southern and northern hemispheres, particularly in the polar zone. It is called Aurora Borealis (also known as Northern Lights) in the Artic region and Aurora Australis in the Antartic region. Streaming plasma clouds, composed of fast moving charged particles, form a solar wind. It is the tangential interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field that traps some of these charged particles. These trapped particles then flow along the magnetic field lines of the earth into the upper most regions of our planet’s atmosphere. That’s when the lights become manifest and their dance begins.

Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere


Aurora australis captured from space by NASA's IMAGE satellite.

Aurora australis as seen from a Space Shuttle

Aurora Borealis seen from the International Space Station (ISS)

The Northern Lights shine above Bear Lake, Alaska, US

Panoramic photograph from Edison, New Jersey, US

Red and green Aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska, US

Aurora Australis appearing in Swifts Creek, Australia

Green Aurora Over Lake Superior, Canada

Aurora Borealis as seen over Canada at 11,000m (36,000 feet)

Aurora sightings in Oklahoma City, US

Northern Lights over a house in Iceland

Aurora seen at night in Scotland, UK

Aurora over Arena, Wisconsin, US

View of the Aurora and Comet Hale-Bopp over Boston, US

Purple Aurora in Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Another one from Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Aurora Borealis with Orion, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Northern Lights - Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Navaratri: The 9 Divine Nights

"Nava-ratri" literally means "nine nights." This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.

What's the Significance of Navratri?

During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as "Devi" (goddess) or "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.

Why Worship the Mother Goddess?

We think this energy is only a form of the Divine Mother, who is the mother of all, and all of us are her children. "Why mother; why not father?", you may ask. Let me just say that we believe that God's glory, his cosmic energy, his greatness and supremacy can best be depicted as the motherhood aspect of God. Just as a child finds all these qualities in his or her mother, similarly, all of us look upon God as mother. In fact, Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which gives so much importance to the mother aspect of God because we believe that mother is the creative aspect of the absolute.

Why Twice a Year?

Every year the beginning of summer and the beginning of winter are two very important junctures of climatic change and solar influence. These two junctions have been chosen as the sacred opportunities for the worship of the divine power because:

(1) We believe that it is the divine power that provides energy for the earth to move around the sun, causing the changes in the outer nature and that this divine power must be thanked for maintaining the correct balance of the universe.

(2) Due to the changes in the nature, the bodies and minds of people undergo a considerable change, and hence, we worship the divine power to bestow upon all of us enough potent powers to maintain our physical and mental balance.

Why Nine Nights & Days?

Navaratri is divided into sets of three days to adore different aspects of the supreme goddess. On the first three days, the Mother is invoked as powerful force called Durga in order to destroy all our impurities, vices and defects. The next three days, the Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees the inexhaustible wealth. The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the mother as the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. In order have all-round success in life, we need the blessings of all three aspects of the divine mother; hence, the worship for nine nights.

Why Do You Need the Power?

Thus, I suggest you join your parents in worshipping "Ma Durga" during the Navaratri. She will bestow on you wealth, auspiciousness, prosperity, knowledge, and other potent powers to cross every hurdle of life. Remember, everyone in this world worships power, i.e., Durga, because there is no one who does not love and long for power in some form or the other.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


News Item: IIM-B creams the best paid jobs


$193,000. That’s how much 29-year-old Gaurav Agarwal of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, will make once he joins Barclays Capital, a British Bank, to work on Global financial risk management.

‘‘I attribute the increasing salaries to the economy. I also feel that many Indian salaries being offered now are much more when compared relatively,’’ said Agarwal, an electrical engineer from IIT Kanpur. ‘‘I joined IIM Bangalore as I wanted to change what I was doing,’’ says Agarwal, who plans to return to India after a few years.

IIM-B also saw the highest offer for a domestic position by an international firm — at Rs. 30 lakh per annum. ‘‘This has been a historic event for us. Of the 182 students that opted for placements, 65 have already been recruited,’’ said placement committee member Saurav Bansal.

While it may be stale news that Indians are making unprecedented success in many fields and that too in global arena, maybe you’ve not noticed something between the lines: the success of typical middle class in general-- and Baniya class in particular-- in professional fields; the success of Baniya clan in business is already well-established. Baniyas have shown their mettle in business and be it Gujarati, UP or Marwari, the Baniya has the will and the capabilities to make money in any adverse situation.

Let me explain why.

You go to any IIT, IIM, Engineering, Medical, Management, Architecture or any other knowledge- based institution, you’ll come across many Bansals, Aggarwals, Jains, Guptas, Mittals at every level of these institutions and organizations. Have you wondered why?

1.       Family Values: Baniyas are conservative, conventional, and enterprising. But, most of all, they are family people who respect family values. Which means, they respect their women and elders and inculcate good values in their children. I think the divorce rate in Baniyas might be the lowest, but I’ve no figures to substantiate this. Yes, the curse of dowry is there in Baniyas but then, it is there in the whole of Indian class.

2.       Pragmatic and Progressive: Baniyas value progress and are extremely practical and adaptable. They realize that the only way to climb up the stair in the society is by education. No wonder, Baniyas are willing to sell their house to finance the education of their children and pay through their noses for making the best possible education available to their wards. They are also God fearing and religious, but liberal towards other religions.

3.       Law abiding and conservative: Baniyas are the most conservative and believe in being law abiding. In US, the crime rate of Indians is the lowest and being highly educated expatriate and immigrants; they respect education, merit and are useful to their society they live in. Yes, they’re somewhatdabboo and cowardly, but being in interface with the general and sometimes envious public, they have learnt to be low profile and simple/ austere in their conduct.

4.       Money-wiseThe credit card companies in US are extremely angry with Indians for taking their credit card and paying the bills on them in time, unlike Americans; this means these companies make no money from them and this they don’t like. Baniyas like me take the cards, use it to the minimum and pay on time, much to the consternation of the card companies. Baniyas are the least defaulters of banks, loan companies and live within their means. They save money and use it for education, marriages and building properties. No wonder, most Baniyas die rich. They believe in living within their means.

5.       Genetic Disposition: Baniyas are good at maths and they’re genetically inclined towards engineering, business and hisaab-kitaab. It is in their ghuttithat they get maths and science from their mothers and fathers.

In such a scenario, you will come across only two other sets of people who can compete with Baniyas in education:

1.       Tamil Brahmins, who have been the back-bone of Indian bureaucracy and are extremely intelligent, honest and hard-working

2.       Biharis, who thanks to Lalloos, have to run away from Bihar due to lack of infra-structure, law and order and some backing in the society for education are the next largest group who puts extreme premium for education and jobs in the govt.

So, no wonder if you come across a Baniya at every level of management in any organization.

Incidentally, the richest Indian is also a Baniya.

His name is Lakshmi Mittal.


The "Eye of God" in Outer Space

Emailed NASA photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope has been labeled 'The Eye of God' by frequent forwarders.

Description: Emailed photo
Circulating since: May 2003
Status: Authentic NASA image

Email example contributed by A. Lieb, July 27, 2003:

Subject: Fw: Eye of God

This is a picture taken by NASA with the Hubble telescope. They are referring to it as the "Eye of God". I thought it was beautiful and worth sharing.

The Eye of God

Analysis: This is an authentic photograph (actually, a composite of images) taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. It was featured on NASA's website as an Astronomy Picture of the Day in May 2003 and thereafter reproduced on a number of websites under the title "The Eye of God" (though I have found no evidence that NASA has ever referred to it as such). The awe-inspiring image has also been featured on magazine covers and in articles about space imagery.

What it actually depicts is the so-called Helix Nebula, described by astronomers as "a trillion-mile-long tunnel of glowing gases." At its center is dying star which has ejected masses of dust and gas to form tentacle-like filaments stretching toward an outer rim composed of the same material. Our own sun may look like this in several billion years.

Update: Another giant "eye in space" was photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope on May 4, 2009. In this case the image, one of the last taken with the Hubble's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, captured the Kohoutek 4-55 planetary nebula in the constellation Cygnus.

Image Credit: NASA, WIYN, NOAO, ESA, Hubble Helix Nebula Team, M. Meixner (STScI), & T. A. Rector (NRAO).