Author: Sri Kanth

barmian valley

Worlds oldest oil paintings in Afganistan

In 2008 an international team of archaeologists discovered the worlds oldest known oil paintings in a cave maze in Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan. This is the same place where the Taliban’s blew up the giant stone Buddha statues in 2001. The teams work started in 2003 to start preserving Buddhist paintings in about 1000 caves. These paintings were damaged over the years, due to the harsh environment, looting and the before said explosions. In these caves, there are paintings of Lord Buddha, bodhisattvas, and female devotees. One unique painting shows solar deity Mithra, riding a chariot driven by 4 winged horses.

Their 2008 research revealed that paint samples from 12 of the caves contained “dry oils”, more likely to be walnut and poppy seed oils. According to Yoko Taniguchi the Japanese conservation scientist on the team there is evidence that the Mediterranean used dry oils for perfumes, medicines and cosmetics. But before this, discovery there was no evidence on usage of dry oil on paintings before the 12th century A.D.

These paintings and the statues which the Taliban exploded lies on the silk road. Yoko says that this is one of the most important scientific discovery on the field of archaeology. She says that it indicates that more complicated material and technical interconnections in this area than the world previously thought.


Worlds longest fingernails holder, Ayanna Williams

Would you like to have 18 feet fingernails? Probably you don’t. But Ayanna Williams maintains fingernails of more than 18 feet in length. Not due to a medical condition but purposely.

Currently, in 2020, she’s crowned as the worlds longest fingernails holder by the Guinness Book of the world records. A nail artist from Houston, all her fingernails totals for a length of 18 feet. Each measure about two feet in length.

She says that the most challenging about having long fingernails which takes up to one week to paint them is pulling up her trousers. Although she gets a lot of attention from society because of her long fingernails, her friends and family consider it normal.

To take care of the nails Ayanna uses anti-bacterial soap and a nail brush to clean them daily. She also applies a kind of hardener and acrylic to help them grow without getting damaged.

“To let my children know that anything they want to accomplish can be done. It takes courage, discipline and patience but it can be accomplished,” says Ayanna.

However, she says that applying for a Guinness record was not one of her dreams.

“I am elated and honoured. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d make it into the Guinness World Records books!”, she said.


Jessica Cox, the armless girl who achieved far more than normal people

Jessica Cox was born in 1983 in Arizona. Due to a special medical condition, Jessica was born without arms. In her childhood, she wore prosthetic arms. But using prosthetic arms were difficult for her. She was also nicknamed the “Robotic Girl” due to her appearance when wearing prosthetic arms. She stopped wearing prosthetic arms at the age of 14 and started to live with what she has rather than worrying about what she doesn’t have.

Today, she has made huge achievements regardless of her disability.

One incredible achievement is that she is the worlds first armless pilot. She flew a single-engine flight for the first time via Wright Flight in 2004. After about 3 years of training, she achieved her pilot license in 2008. Her aircraft is specially designed, so she can control the York and throttle from each of her legs. The aircraft has no rudder peddles. Instead, the rudder is interconnected with the ailerons through the yoke.

At the age of 10, she started training Taekwondo, and by the age of 14, she achieved her first black belt. She also joined the Americal Taekwondo Association. She contributed to modifying the training material in a way that suits the future students like her, who are without arms. For instance, instead of a punch, Cox introduced a knee strike.

She’s able to drive an unmodified car and has an unrestricted driving license and pumps gas into the car on her own.

She graduated from the University of Arizona in 2005 with a bachelor’s in psychology with minors in communication, can type 25 words per minute, wears and removes her contact lenses on her own, and is a certified scuba diver.

She’s a motivational speaker who took her message to more than 20 countries. In 2015 she published her autobiography book, “disarm your limits”, to motivate people on how to overcome challenges in life, based on her own experiences.


Have you heard of the Galentine’s Day?

As you all know Valentine’s day falls today on the 14 February. But have you ever heard of the Galentines day? What is Galentine’s Day?

Galentine’s day is the other half of the Valentines day, which falls on 13 February. Valentine’s day is there to celebrate with your loved ones. But Galentine’s day is there to celebrate the friendship among ladies. Unlike the valentines day which can be celebrated by exchanging cards and gifts between loved ones, Galentine’s day encourages to get out and have some great time with female friends. The Galentines events are “Ladies only”. It’s an occasion which the girls get together and have some fun.

Rather than relating to the life of a saint such as the Valentine, Galentines originated from an event which came up in the famous comedy series: Parks and Recreation. Galentine’s Day first appeared in season 2 of the cult classic.

In an episode of 2010, the protagonist Leslie Knope (actress Amy Poehler plays the role) gathers a group of women for a breakfast, a day before the valentines day. The series describes this occasion as “ladies celebrating ladies”.

The most famous gift for Galentine’s are essays describing, why each individual is important in the life of the others.


Is it OK to make phone calls while the phone is charging?

Most people say that it is dangerous to use your mobile phone while charging. Especially if you make phone calls while the phone is charging. Most people believe that the phone would explode if you use it while charging. This actually happened all around the world for a few people.

In 2013 a Chinese flight attendant’s iPhone 4 exploded when she used it while charging. The charger she used was a third party charger other than the original charger that shipped with the phone. This was the cause of the explosion.

So there is a risk of mobile phones exploding or heating if you use them while charging. But in such incidents where phones exploded during phone calls, a noticeable thing was that either the mobile phone charger was not the original or the phone parts such as the batteries were replaced with non-original parts.

So it seems to be very important that if you ever repair the mobile phone you should use original parts from the manufacturer. If you ever replace the charger please use a charger from the original manufacturer, or from a reputed charger manufacturer. And of course, the specifications of the charger should exactly match the mobile phones original charger.

If you note abnormal heat or any other abnormality on your mobile phone while using it, be careful to avoid injuries.


Eminem shocks the Oscars with a performance after 17 years

17 years back in 2003, Eminem won the Oscars for the song “Lose yourself” as the songwriter. But he was not present at the ceremony to collect the trophy. After 17 years he appeared at the Oscars today to perform the song.

“Look, if you had another shot, another opportunity… Thanks for having me @TheAcademy. Sorry, it took me 18 years to get here,” tweeted the rapper, whose real name is Marshall Mathers.

He made a little mistake in calculating the no of years though.

The audience was very excited and surprised to see him perform. The rapper got a standing ovation when he finished the performance.

daniel kish

The real world Batman, Daniel Kish

Daniel Kish (born in 1966) is an American expert in echolocation and the president of the foundation called World Access For The Blind (WAFTB). WAFTB is a non-profit organization based in California which is founded by Kish in 2000 to facilitate “the self-directed achievement of people with all forms of blindness”. Kish and his organization have trained at least 500 blind children all around the world about how to use echolocation to their benefit.

Kish’s eyes had to be removed due to eye cancer when he was 13 months old. So Daniel had to use some other form of sensitivity to learning about the surroundings around him. As a kid, he learned a way to judge the height of a tree while climbing, by making rapid click noises and studying the echo of that sound on the ground. No one taught him the technique, he just developed the ability as if a bat uses sonar to detect insects. He’s known as the real world Batman for this reason. Kish can even ride a bike down the street by using this ability.

daniel kish2 Daniel Kish teaches the technique of echolocation – not only to help the blind see but to be free in their environment

Kish is the first blind person to be a legally Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) and to hold a National Blindness Professional Certification (NOMC). He also holds master’s degrees in developmental psychology and special education from the University of California Riverside.

Kish’s work has inspired several scientific studies related to human echolocation. In a 2009 study at the University of Alcalá in Madrid, Spain, ten sighted subjects were taught basic navigation skills within a few days. The study aimed to analyze various sounds which can be used to echolocate and evaluate which were most effective. In another study, MRI brain scans were taken of Kish and another echolocation expert to identify the parts of the brain involved in echolocation, with readings suggesting “that brain structures that process visual information in sighted people process echo information in blind echolocation experts.”


Using mobile phones during lightning? Does it attract lightning?

There’s an idea among mobile users that if you use a mobile phone during lightning, it may attract the lightning and harm you. This seems to be a myth according to science.

If you use a wired line phone during a thunderstorm it is true that there’s a chance of you getting struck by lightning. This is because the phone is connected to a wide wired network outside. If some equipment in the wired network gets hit by lightning ( a pole lets say), there’s a chance that the high electricity absorbed may get distributed to the phone you are using, through the wired connection. This may result in heavy injuries.

But in the case of mobile phones, it’s not connected to anywhere other than the mobile network which is a wireless radio connection. As you all know, mobile phones radio signal is a very low powered one. Even the metal around the mobile phones casing is not a cause to attract lightning. So is there a chance of you getting struck by lightning when talking over a mobile phone?

The answer is yes. But this is not due to the mobile phone in any way. If you stay in an area where there’s a high chance of getting struck by lightning, for instance on a mountain or on a flat land area, there’s a chance of getting struck by lightning no matter if you were using the mobile phone or not. According to this same logic, it can be assumed that there’s a chance of getting attacked by a wild animal when you talk through the mobile phone. Only if you are in a wildlife area when talking of course.

One important thing to remember if you use mobile phones during lightning is that you should not connect chargers because the charger connects the phone to the main power grid which has a high risk of getting struck by lightning (Same reason in a wired landline connection ).

Reputed statements supporting the article –

Following worldwide media interest in 2006 (BBC News and British Medical Journal ), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a statement, saying lightning is not attracted to people carrying mobile phones.


Why is it prohibited to use mobile phones in a fuel station? do they cause fires?


There is a wide rumour that using mobile phones in a fuel station may cause a fire. It is said that this occurs due to radio frequencies emitted by the mobile phone. But mobile phones emit a very low-frequency radio signal which may not be enough to start a fire as the rumours say. The frequencies emitted from a standardized mobile phone are between 450 and 2700 MHz. The value of power emitted will be between 0.1 and 2 watts. So can such small energy start a fire at a fuel station?

According to science, this is not possible. The energy emitted from a mobile phone is about 1w/cm2. So how can a mobile phone start a fire at a fuel station? Well, this may be caused due to defective batteries of a mobile phone. Defective batteries can cause sparks which may start a fire at a fuel station.

Why is the usage of mobile phones banned at fuel stations then? This is because mobile phones are considered a cause of distraction. If you are distracted on a fuel station while refuelling this may cause various problems. For instance, if you get distracted and move the car while the fueling process is still ongoing, it may cause fuel leaks that may cause a fire. Or else you may collide with another vehicle in the fuel station which may cause a fire or other injuries.

So, however, using mobile phones at fuel stations is not recommended in any way, but not due to the cause explained by rumours.

Studies conducted –

Energy Institute in conjunction with Intellect, the trade association for IT, Telecomms and Electronics industries in the UK, conducted a study into the risks of ignition of flammable vapours by mobile phones.

The results of the study were presented at a technical seminar hosted by the EI in March 2003.

“The main conclusions were that: There were no confirmed ignition incidents associated with mobile phones anywhere in the world.

More supporting facts –

At present, many fuel stations have the facility of paying the fuel charge via your mobile phone (mobile wallet). So if you can not use a mobile phone in a fuel station, how can you pay via mobile phone?


The Dyatlov Pass incident. A mystery unsolved


Between 1st and 2nd February 1959, nine Russian hikers died in the Northern Ural Mountains mysteriously from unknown circumstances. The group members had a lot of experience in hiking. They were from Ural Polytechnical Institute. The campsite on the slopes of Kholat Syakhi, which they established a camp is now named after their leader, Igor Dyatlov as an honour.

After the discoveries of the bodies, Soviet authorities conducted an investigation which revealed that six of the members died from hypothermia. The other three showed signs of physical trauma. One body had a fractured skull. Other two had major chest fractures and both eyes were missing on one of the two. One body had a missing tongue. The investigation concluded by stating that a “compelling natural force” as the cause of deaths. Since then, Various theories have been proposed as the cause of death. Some of them are animal attacks, hypothermia, avalanche, katabatic winds, infrasound-induced panic, military involvement, or some combination of these.

The group was formed on the same year for a skiing expedition across the northern Urals in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Soviet Union. Igor Dyatlov was a 23-year-old radio engineer at Ural Polytechnical Institute. He is the one who assembled the group of nine others for the trip. Most of them were fellow students of the university. The group consisted of eight men and two women. The group was an experienced grade, 2 hikers, with ski tour experiences. They expected to achieve grade 3 certification upon their return. This grade 3 was the highest certification available in the soviet union at that time. The certification required the candidates to travel 300 kilometres. The goal of the expedition was to reach Gora Otorten, a mountain 10 Km north to the incident site. This route was a very difficult one which was estimated as category 3.

They began the journey on 27th January towards Gora Otorten from Vizhai. On 28th, Yuri Yudin, one of the members suffered from severe knee and joint pain and turned back discontinuing the trek. The other nine continued the journey.

Diaries and cameras were found around their last campsite. This made it possible to track the groups route up to the day of the incident.

View the camera films here from the bellow link.

31st January – Group arrived at the edge of the highland area and prepared for climbing. They cached food and equipment that would be used for the trip back in a wooded valley.

1st Feb – Hikers started to move through the pass. Seems like they planned to get over the pass and make a camp on the opposite side for the next night. But because of severe weather conditions, the journey deviated to the west towards the top of Kholat Syakhl. After realising the mistake Dyatlov and his team decided to stop and set up a camp there on the slope of the mountain. But if they move 1.5Km downhill to the forest area, that would have offered some shelter from the bad weather. Yudin stated that “Dyatlov probably did not want to lose the altitude they had gained, or he decided to practise camping on the mountain slope”.

Dyatlov had told that he would send a telegram to their sports club as soon as the group returned to Vizhai. This was expected by 12th Feb. But Dyatlov told Yudin before his departure that this would be longer than expected. So even when 12th passed without news there was no immediate panic. Delays were common with such expeditions. On 20 Feb a rescue operation was sent due to the demands made by relatives and families of travellers. This rescue operation consisted of volunteer students and teachers. The military became involved later. Planes and helicopters joined the rescue operations.

26 Feb – Searchers found the group’s abandoned tent which was highly damaged on Kholat Syakhi. The campsite confused the search party. Mikhail Sharavin the student who found the tent said. “the tent was half torn down and covered with snow. It was empty, and all the group’s belongings and shoes had been left behind”. The investigators found that the tent has been cut open from the inside. There were 8 or 9 sets of footprints left by people who were only wearing socks, only a single shoe or barefoot. These led down towards the edge of the woods on the opposite side of the pass 1.5km northeast.

However, after half a kilometre these tracks were covered with snow. At the edge of the forest, under a large Siberian pine tree, there were remains of a small fire. There were the bodies of Krivonishenko and Doroshenko, without shoes and only in their underwear. The branches of the tree were broken up to a five-meter height, indicating that one of the group climbed up to look for something. Between the pine and the camp, the corpses of Dyatlov, Kolmogorova and Slobodin were found. Their final poses implied that they were trying to return to the tent. Their distances to the tree were 300, 480 and 630 meters.

Corpses of the other four travellers took more than 2 months to be found. They were found on 4th May under 4 meters of snow in a ravine. The location was 75 metres further into the woods from the pine tree. Three of the four were better dressed than the others and there were signs that those who had died first had their clothes relinquished to others. Dubinina was wearing Krivonishenko’s burned, torn trousers and her left foot and shin were wrapped in a torn jacket.

Forensic investigations started immediately after the first 5 bodies were discovered. A medical examination found no injuries that might have led to their deaths. The conclusion was that all died of hypothermia. Slobodin had a small fracture in his skull which can not be considered a deadly wound.

Bodies found in May changed the narrative of what occurred during the incident. Three of the bodies had fatal injuries. Thibeaux-Brignolles had major skull damage. Duninina and Zolotaryov both had major chest fractures. The force required to cause such damages should be very high and equivalent to a car crash, according to Boris Vozrozhedenny. The most important thing is that the bodies had no external wounds associated with bone fractures. It seemed that they have undergone a high level of pressure.

All the four bodies which were found at the bottom of the creek in a running stream of water had soft tissue damage in their head and face. For instance, Dubininas tongue, eyes, part of lips and facial tissue were missing. Skullbone was fragmented. Zolotaryov had missing eyeballs. Aleksander Kolevatovs eyebrows were missing. The forensic expert who did the exam was V.A. Vozrozhedenny. He determined that these damages happened after death due to the location of bodies in a stream.

Initially, it was suspected that indigenous Mansi people attacked the group because they invaded the lands. Several people were interrogated. But the investigations indicated that they were not involved due to the facts that only the footprints of hikers were visible and there were no indications of a struggle.

Despite the temperatures being as low as -25 to -30 in Celcius, and a storm blowing, the dead were only partially dressed. Some of them had only one shoe, some had no shoes, some only wore socks, some were found wrapped in snips of ripped clothes that seemed to be taken from those who were already dead.

Journalists reporting on the available parts of the inquest files claim that it states:

  • Six of the group members died of hypothermia and three of fatal injuries.
  • There were no indications of other people nearby on Kholat Syakhl apart from the nine travellers.
  • The tent had been ripped open from within.
  • The victims had died six to eight hours after their last meal.
  • Traces from the camp showed that all group members left the campsite of their own accord, on foot.
  • High levels of radiation were found on only one victim’s clothing.
  • To dispel the theory of an attack by the indigenous Mansi people, Vozrozhdenny stated that the fatal injuries of the three bodies could not have been caused by another human being, “because the force of the blows had been too strong and no soft tissue had been damaged”.
  • Released documents contained no information about the condition of the skiers’ internal organs.
  • There were no survivors of the incident.

The case finally got wrapped up due to the absence of a guilty party. The verdict was that all died of natural causes. The files were sent to a secret archive.

The group’s diaries were made public in 2009.

Read them in bellow link.

In Feb 2019 Russian authorities reopened the investigation. However, the possibility of a crime is not anticipated. Only 3 possibilities are being considered: an avalanche, a snow slab avalanche or a hurricane.

Related reports

12-year-old Yury Kuntsevich, who later became the head of the Yekaterinburg-based Dyatlov Foundation (see below), attended five of the hikers’ funerals. He recalled that their skin had a “deep brown tan”.

Another group of hikers (about 50 kilometres (31 mi) south of the incident) reported that they saw strange orange spheres in the sky to the north on the night of the incident. Similar spheres were observed in Ivdel and adjacent areas continually during the period from February to March 1959, by various independent witnesses (including the meteorology service and the military). However, these sightings were not noted in the initial investigation in 1959, and these various independent witnesses only came forward years later.

Due to the public interest in the case, There’s a dedicated website for the case. Those who are interested to know more about the case in detail can visit web site provides some more interesting theories about the case. Autopsy reports and evidence such as photos and videos can be viewed through the site.

The Mikhajlov Cemetry in Yekaterinburg. The tomb of the group who had died in mysterious circumstances in the northern Ural Mountains.
Tomb of the deceased at Mikhailovskoe Cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on 26 February 1959: the tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks or barefoot

NASA’s record holder Christina Koch returns to earth

NASA’s hero female astronaut Christina Koch will return home on 6th February. She’s the one for holding the record for spending more time in space on a single mission than any other woman. She will return to earth with two of her fellow ISS crewmates.

Koch along with station Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will depart the station on Feb 6 in a Soyuz spacecraft. The spacecraft will land with the assistance of parachutes. The landing is scheduled at 4:14 a.m. EST southeast of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (3:13 p.m. Kazakhstan time).

Live coverage can be viewed at the agencies live web site –

According to NASA, the program schedule for the broadcast is as follows. (Eastern times)

Wednesday, Feb. 5:

8:30 a.m.: Space station change of command ceremony, during which Parmitano will hand over command to crewmate Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos

9 p.m.: Farewell and Soyuz hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 9:25 p.m.)

Thursday, Feb. 6:

12:15 a.m.: Soyuz undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 12:50 a.m.)

3 a.m.: Soyuz deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 3:18 a.m. and landing at 4:13 a.m.)

Watch Koch’s most memorable moments from her record-breaking mission at:

Read the previous article on Christina Koch


Photo Credits : NASA


This well is the oldest wooden structure discovered so far

A group of archaeologists in the Czech Republic has discovered a 7000-year-old well in Eastern Europe. They believe that this is the oldest known wooden structure in the world.

The well which is square-shaped was built using Oak. The structure was built around 5256 BC by the farmers. The researchers determined this after analyzing the tree rings in the wood. This scientific method is known as dendrochronology. The determined age makes it the oldest dendrochronologically dated wooden structure in the world.

“The well was only preserved because it had been underwater for centuries. Now we cannot let it dry out, or the well would be destroyed,” Karol Bayer of the University of Pardubice’s Department of Restoration said in a press release.

The researchers use sugar to dry the wood and preserve it by strengthening the cellular structure.

“It is interesting that the corner posts were made of previously felled trunks, namely from the trunk which had been cut in the autumn or winter 5259 B.C. or the winter of early 5258 B.C.,” said Michal Rybníček of the Department of Wood Science at Mendel University.

The well was discovered during the construction of the D35 motorway in the Czech Republic last year. The dimensions are 56 inches in height 32 x 32 inches square base. The findings are published in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The discovery is important because previously the researchers did not know that Neolithic people had this kind of technical skill.

“The design consists of grooved corner posts with inserted planks. This type of construction reveals advanced technical know-how and, till now, is the only known type from this region and time period,” the authors wrote.

Assuming that these people had only tools made of stone, bone, horn or wood, its wonderful how the fallen tree trunks were crafted with such highest precision.

“The shape of the individual structural elements and tool marks preserved on their surface confirm sophisticated carpentry skills,” the authors wrote.

In the past four years, 3 wells including this were discovered in the Czech Republic with a connection to the Neolithic period.

Source -CNN &  Journal of Archaeological Science

Image source – New Scientist




This is what Center for disease control (CDC) says about the Corona-virus


Reported illnesses have ranged from people being mildly sick, to people with severe illness and death.

Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The symptoms may appear within 2 to 14 days.



Coronavirus family is a large family of viruses that is common among animals such as camels, cattle, cats and bats. In rare occasions, animal coronaviruses can infect people and transmit between people in the same way as MERS and SARS viruses.

MERS and SARS spreading mainly happened through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. The spread of SARS and MERS generally occurred through close contacts. Coronavirus is believed to be spreading in the same way.


Currently there’s no vaccine to prevent the disease. The best way to prevent is to avoid contact with the virus. However CDC recommends bellow actions to prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


No specific, recommended treatment for corona-virus. People who are infected should receive supportive care till the symptoms are relieved. For severe cases the treatment should include support for vital organs which are affected.

What to do if you are infected?

  • Seek medical care right away. Before you go to a doctor’s office or
    emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and
    your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to
    avoid spreading the virus to others. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
    that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Useful Links :

For updates on Coronavirus follow the bellow link in CDC web site.

Source : CDC official web site


Spitzer Space Telescope retired

NASA decommissioned the Spitzer Space Telescope on Thursday (30th January 2020). The signals with the commands to decommission were sent to the telescope on Thursday by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“We leave behind a powerful scientific and technological legacy,” said Spitzer project manager Joseph Hunt, who declared the telescope’s end at 5:34 p.m. EST (2234 GMT) after engineers confirmed that the spacecraft was placed in safe mode, ceasing all science operations. “Everyone who has worked on this mission should be extremely proud today. There are literally hundreds of people who contributed directly to Spitzer’s success, and thousands who used its scientific capabilities to explore the universe.”

Four years back, NASA decided to decommission the Spitzer. This was based on a review of the agency’s current missions by then, and the future missions. The researches which used the telescope will continue with the James Webb Space Telescope when it’s launched in March 2021. Spitzer was originally planned to be shut down in 2018, but it got an extension of two years because the James Webb got delayed.

Spitzer was launched on 2003 August. The telescope was originally named the Space Infrared Telescope facility and was renamed Spitzer Space Telescope after the astronomer Lyman Spitzer. It was his idea to operate telescopes above earth atmosphere in space. The Spitzer was used to make discoveries inside the solar system as well as close to the edge of the universe.

“Spitzer taught us how important infrared light is to understanding our universe, both in our cosmic neighborhood and as far away as the most distant galaxies. The advances we make across many areas in astrophysics in the future will be because of Spitzer’s extraordinary legacy,” Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of astrophysics, said in a statement.

Spitzer collected data about the interstellar dust and exoplanets. Some discoveries like the exoplanets were not originally intended goals. Spitzer was used to finding many Earth-sized exoplanets in the Trappist-1 star system making it the largest batch of Earth-like planets found around a single star. It also was the first to detect molecules in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. It also provided the first measurements of wind and temperature of an exoplanet atmosphere.

“When Spitzer was being designed, scientists had not yet found a single transiting exoplanet, and by the time Spitzer launched, we still knew about only a handful,” said Sean Carey, manager of the Spitzer Science Center at IPAC at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena. “The fact that Spitzer became such a powerful exoplanet tool when that wasn’t something the original planners could have possibly prepared for, is really profound. And we generated some results that absolutely knocked our socks off”

The Spitzer was one of the four observatories of NASA. With the decommissioning of Spitzer and Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (decommissioned in 2000), only two more remain in operation. They are the Hubble Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Read more about Spitzer Space Telescope


Australian scientists replicate corona-virus in a laboratory

A group of scientists in Australia has been able to replicate the corona-virus in lab conditions. This could be a critical achievement to speed up the process of finding a vaccine to combat the deadly virus.

The team which is the first to recreate the virus outside china, is from Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne.

Cross-sectional model of a coronavirus

The virus was developed from an infected patient. The research will be shared among expert laboratories working closely with the World Health Organization in Europe and laboratories across Australia.

This will assist on accurate diagnostics across the world and to assess the effectiveness of trial vaccines.

Meanwhile there are also conspiracy theories claiming the virus initially was created in a biomedical laboratory in China and accidentally got released.

The infection cycle of coronavirus

Axiom to provide the first commercial destination module for ISS

NASA selected Axiom Space of Houston to provide at least one habitable commercial module for International Space Station. This module is to be launched in 2024 and will be attached to the ISS for commercial uses.

Axiom is led by co-founder and President/CEO Michael Suffredini, who served as NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager from 2005 to 2015 and oversaw the Station’s transition from assembly to operation and commercial utilization. Co-founder and Executive Chairman Dr. Kam Ghaffarian founded Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, which rose to become NASA’s second-largest engineering services contractor and the entity which trains NASA’s astronauts and operates the ISS.
(Source :Axiom official web page)

The leadership team also includes world-class, specialized expertise in commercial utilization of micro-gravity, on-orbit operations, astronaut training, space financing, engineering, space system architecture/design/development, space medicine, marketing, and law. (Source : Axiom official web page)

Dr_ Kam Ghaffarian_JPG


Michael T_ Suffredini


Currently Axiom provides 10 to 180 days of commercial missions to the ISS. They will also provide missions to their own module in the International Space Station after it’s launched in 2024. Their primary customers are private astronauts as well as the space agencies of various countries.

The new commercial platform will significantly increase the habitable volume of the ISS. The platform includes a node module, research & manufacturing facility, crew habitat, and large-windowed Earth observatory. The company says that when the ISS retires someday all the research and other data can be transferred to the new module to prevent any interruptions, and afterwards it can serve as the new International Space Station.

“On Monday the National Aeronautics and Space Administration selected Axiom Space

as the winner of the NextSTEP-2 Appendix I solicitation, which sought to grant access to the International Space Station’s Node 2 Forward port for a commercial space station that could ultimately serve as ISS’ replacement.” Axiom stated on their web page.

“We appreciate the bold decision on the part of NASA to open up a commercial future in Low Earth Orbit,” Suffredini said.

Read the entire story and learn more about Axiom through the below links.

Image Source : Axiom official web site


Democratic Republic of the Congo humanitarian crisis analysis

Crisis overview

The crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is very complex and there was a dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation in 2017. Also declared level 3 emergency in Kasai, Tanganyika and south Kivu provinces. Due to armed conflicts and violence, population movement, sudden onset natural disasters and human rights violations the situation is getting worse. More than 13.1 million people need humanitarian assistance. 9.9 million people are starving and 4.6 million children are malnourished. Estimated total deaths of people are approximately 5 million. Increasing food insecurity, acute malnutrition and outbreaks of epidemics such as cholera and Ebola increase the mortality and morbidity among most vulnerable groups. The cycle of the crisis ongoing nonstop during the last two decades. Therefore, emergency response intervention to prevent the severity, combined stabilization and resilience are required.

The northern province of the country is mostly affected by CAR refugee influx and south Kivu by the Burundian refugee influx. Food insecurity, malnutrition, cholera, malaria and measles are very high in eastern provinces and central provinces in the country. Gender equality is very less and ranked 147 among 152 assessed countries. Due to structural challenges and poverty the central and western provinces included a vulnerable population group. Funding and efficient development processes are the prioritized to overcome from the situation. About 10 % of the estimated population in the country are affected by the humanitarian crisis and US$ 690 million is needed to implement the humanitarian response.


Risk and threats

Bad governance, unable to ensure the rule of law and order, negative external influences, dispute over the natural resources, land and market issues are the causes of violence. Nearly 70 armed groups in eastern DRC. They have distinct capacities and many people from foreign have political agenda of their country such as Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Also, some armed groups with strong ethnic based profile, challenging each other. To secure their own profit neighboring countries, international economic operators and Congolese politicians may sponsor. Severe violation of human rights and law are characteristic of violence trends in DRC, the top major priority should be the protection of civil population. Ricing ethnic tensions and dissatisfaction with the government are the main causes of local insurgencies and violence outbursts. It is a huge challenge to provide safe access of humanitarian actors to beneficiaries and beneficiaries to humanitarian assistance. Domestic violence, sexual and gender -based violence remain factual reality girls and women live in eastern DRC. Inadequate emergency kits for rape survivors to prevent sexual transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies and lack of experts to heal trauma are the burning problems in Tanganyika province. In 2017 nearly 75 aid workers had been attacked by armed groups and insecurity of humanitarian workers also increased.

Forced internal displacements

Repeated forced displacement is a dramatic circumstance when their own village or district becomes unsafe. Approximately 1.3 million IDPs live with host families but the report explained 3000 new IDPs a day and only 20% of IDPs are on camp sites. The challenge is consolidated information and unreliable data collection which negatively effect on acute needs. Political tension, inter-ethnic violence erupted in Tanganyika and south Kivu in mid-2016 cause huge displacement. The complexity of this crisis is further increased by widespread food shortage and recent cholera and Ebola outbreaks.

Food insecurity and malnutrition

Currently, 4.4 million people are food insecure in DRC. Due to conflict seven territories are in the emergency red phase. 43% of children are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. Wasting is only 8% in national level, but it is classified under emergency level. 2 million children under 5 years are undernourished. The causes of malnutrition among children in DRC due to lack of drinkable water and sanitation facilities and health care, gender inequalities, poor diet habits with staple food cassava or maize. Central and western provinces of DRC malnutrition rates are high due to the absence of humanitarian actors.


In 2015, 36000 cholera cases were reported and 470 were deaths. Tanganyika, Katanga and Maniema provinces are the most affected area due to the Congo river pathway and the river polluted by mining activities. These provinces are not affected by major army conflicts. Nearly 10.5 million people are in need of medical assistance and 4.2 million people are at risk for epidemics. Absence of robust infrastructure is an acute challenge to humanitarian assistance organizations during cholera, measles, malaria and Ebola outbreaks.

DRC has the highest perceived level of corruption and lack of investment in key infrastructure may increase the prevalence of corruption. Majority of civilians are unable to access reliable transport, roads, waterways, bridges and air traveling also very limited. Humanitarian intervention is complex and expensive in DRC. Therefore, increasing funding is very important. Addressing basic needs and essential services and maintaining livelihood are the immediate improvement to do. Then promoting a protective environment and reducing risk of violence and established good governance are beneficial for vulnerable population. Long term structural assistance is necessary to future development of DRC.

Humanitarian ethics always make a universal claim about the profound value and radical equality of human life and the need to respect and protect it. Ethical Tensions in Humanitarian Aid are Boundary Problems that is the challenge of defining the field, Neo-Colonial Characteristics, Professionalizing Voluntarism, Individual Mixed Motives, Political Funding and Political Pressure, Collective Action and Competition.


In Conclusion, underpinning humanitarian action are several major principles of humanitarian law. They also provide some justification to relieve the civilian during conflicts, provide provisions of aid with impartiality and humanity without favoring one side of people during conflict thus strengthening neutrality. Today natural disasters and conflicts are increasing, and more humanitarian assistance is needed in future. Therefore, basic four principles become ever more important. Furthermore, to achieve 17 sustainable goals by 2030, humanitarian assistance in crises like man-made conflict or natural disasters in the most vulnerable population are very important.

By: Dt. Mayumi Gunathilake

Source: Global nutrition and active living you tube channel