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Arctic Explorations

Demita Nambam & Anauska Dutta

Slavery in Modern Times

Prarthana Baruva & Vaani Chhetri


Ipshita Pratap

Student Indiscipline

Michelle P. Marak & Sherab Choden Bhutia

Surveillance Or Not?

Tanvi Goyal & Radhika Jalan

The Amazing Power of Music

Olivia Nambam

The Armed Forces Special Power Act

Pooja Priya & Ambika Agarwal


Udayaditya Konwar


Anushka Burman & Mahasweta Das


ARCTIC EXPLORATIONS ~Researched and Written by Anauska Dutta and Demita Nambam


xplorations are the outcomes of human tendency to look for something that’s not present in our lives. According to the Oxford dictionary, “to explore” means “to travel through a place to learn about it”. The word “Arctic” is named after the north polar constellation “Arktos”, which means “bear” in Greek. Also known as the “frozen ocean”, the Arctic Ocean is located at the top of the planet and home to the North Pole. It is also the only habitat for the polar bears. The Arctic Circle is 14.5 million sq.kms. Almost the same size as that of Antarctica, and has been inhabited by humans for almost 20,000 years. Explorations in the Arctic Circle are believed to have begun since 330B.C. However, documents reveal that the Arctic Explorations began in the Elizabethan era when English seamen sought a shortcut to the Spice Islands of the Far East by the seas north of America – the so-called Northwest Passage. The Northwest Passage was one of the famous quests. The fact that their way was frequently blocked by ice throughout the year made this quest very difficult. It is believed that Pytheas, an ancient Greek sailor, reached a “frozen sea” while attempting to find the source of the metal tin. This was one of the first steps that mankind took towards the discovery of a new world. On April 6, 1909, Robert Peary claimed to be the first person in recorded history to reach the North Pole (though this information is doubted upon by the Roman and the Greek aristocrats). The first people to have walked on the North Pole without doubt were the Soviet Party of 1948 under the command of Alexander Kuznetsov, who landed their aircraft nearby and walked to the pole. There have been a series of expeditions to the Arctic Circle in the 21 st century as well. From August 15 to September 8, 2002, an international team of 50 scientists from the United States, Canada, China and Japan undertook a project to explore the frigid depths of the Canada Basin located in the Arctic Ocean. With the help of a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), a specially designed vehicle to operate under ice and at great depth, the scientists examined the hidden world of life in these extreme conditions. They discovered that nutrients dissolved in the seawater were similar to the fertilizers used in lawns. In those extreme conditions, nitrogen, phosphorus and silicon nutrients were used by tiny single-celled plants to grow. It was also found that the nutrient concentration were useful for identifying the origin of the water.


In 2004, a Polish four-man expedition, named “Together to the Pole”, was led by Marek Kaminski, accompanied by Jan Mela, a teenage double amputee. In the same year, five members of the Ice Warrior Squad reached the Geomagnetic North Pole, including the first two women in history to do so. Year 2007 saw a Russian submersible, Arktika 2007, descending to the ocean floor below the North Pole. Later in the year, BBC’s Top Gear team became the first to reach the magnetic North Pole in a car in Top Gear’s Polar Special edition. In 2008, Alex Hibbert and George Bullard completed the Tiso Trans Greenland expedition. This was the longest, fully unsupported expedition in the history of mankind at 1374 statute miles. These expeditions were something to be cherished and proud of. However, these moments of pride and glory did not come empty-handed. They brought sorrow and hardships along with it. The successes of these daring people were recognized. However, the difficulties and hardships that they faced never came into the limelight. The Arctic Explorations were mostly successful and even today scientists are researching on various aspects of the Arctic Circle. Despite the problems that the explorers would have to face, many expeditions are still being undertaken. But the question today is..... Are the ventures worth the sacrifices?


Slavery in the Modern World ~Researched and Written by Prarthana Baruva and Vani Chhetri

As the new era had begun, the era of the 21st century, people were given the hope of a new beginning; a new life. They were led to believe in their country’s independence, their freedom and a ban on slavery. Years ago, slavery was practised in huge numbers. Even after raising the awareness level and writing various books on slavery, slavery still continues. Freedom has become a synonym for modern slavery. Everywhere we look, slavery still exists throughout the world and the condition of the people is bad, if not worse, than the pre-existing horrors of slavery. Slavery is “A condition of having to work very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation," quotes the Oxford dictionary.

Slavery is banned in most of the countries where it was practised. It is prohibited by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1956 UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices similar to slavery. Here are two shocking stories about modern-day slavery. Anyone who thinks that sex-trafficking is voluntary should look at the maimed face of a teenage girl, Long Pross. Pross was 13 when a young woman kidnapped her and sold her to a brothel in Phnom Penh. The brothel owner, a woman, beat Pross and tortured her with electric current. She was kept locked deep inside the brothel, her hands tied behind her back at all times except when with customers. Pross was painfully stitched up so she could be resold as a virgin. Pross paid savagely each time she let a potential customer slip away. It's true that prostitutes work voluntarily in many brothels in Cambodia and elsewhere. But there are also many brothels where teenage girls are slave labourers. When she tried to beg for release, the woman gouged out Pross's right eye with a piece of metal. Pross's eye grew infected and monstrous, spraying blood and pus on customers, so the owner discarded her. This story is concerning child labour at its worst. Charles became a soldier in Uganda when he was just eight years old. He was forcefully taken from his home by men from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Charles wasn’t even trained to become a soldier and he would have to stay in the army until he managed to escape or was rescued. Conditions were not good in the rebel army. Food was scarce and the children, including Charles, were badly treated. While Charles was held captive, he was poorly treated, regularly beaten and on one instance was whipped 200 times for leaving a bomb behind. Charles thinks he killed three people. Charles is now 15 and is no longer a soldier. He managed to escape but he has horrible memories of his time in the army.


Some of the characteristics of slavery are:      

-people being forced to work through mental or physical threat. -people being treated as commodity, bought and sold as "Property". -people being physically constrained or having restrictions placed on their movements. -people being poorly rested and poorly fed, leading to untimely deaths. -people being forced into marriage at an early age. -people being poorly paid or paid nothing at all, for more than 8-hours of work everyday.

Anti-Slavery International is an international non-governmental organisation in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1839, it is the world's oldest international human rights organization, and the only charity organisation in the United Kingdom to work exclusively against slavery and related abuses. Underground trade in human beings still exists in the twenty-first century. Regions heavily involved in this trade now include Eastern Europe, West Africa, South America and South Asia. Anti-Slavery International is working on a campaign in the Philippines concerning the forced labour and exploitation of domestic workers. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) works to fight against the practice and conditions that give rise to slavery. Forced labour are of various forms which include debt bondages, trafficking, and other forms of modern slavery. The ILO has worked incessantly since its foundation to tackle forced labour and the conditions that give rise to it. They have established a special action programme on forced labour to intensify this effort.


Strikes ~Researched and Written by Ipshita Pratap


trikes became important during Industrial Revolution, when mass labour became important in factories and mines. In most countries, strike actions were quickly made illegal, as factory owners had more political powers than workers. Most western countries partially legalized striking in the late 19 th or 20th centuries. Strikes have been a part of broader social movement. It has been destabilising the rule of a particular political party or ruler. A notable example is the 1980 Gdansk Shipyard strike led by Lech Walesa. This strike was significant in the long campaign of civil resistance for political change in Poland and was an important mobilized effort that contributed to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of communist party rule in Eastern Europe. The earliest account of strike action is found in The Old Testament, although the dates are uncertain. In the Genesis 11:9 workers building the tower of Babel quit their project after God Yahweh decreed that people will have many languages rather than one. Another form of strike is apparently recorded, when a Pharaoh tells Hebrew brick workers that they will not receive any more straw from him and must keep producing bricks with straw they find themselves. The first historically certain account of strike action occurred during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses III in ancient Egypt on the 14th of November, 1152 BC. The use of English word “strike” first appeared in 1768. In 1917, the Mexican Constitution was the first National Constitution that nationally guaranteed “the right to strike”. In 1937, 4,740 strikes took place in the United States of America. These outburst of strikes occurred during a period of deep depression and massive unemployment. The International Government and the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in 1967 ensured the right to strike in Article 8. Most strikes are undertaken by labour unions during collective bargaining. Generally strikes are rare. According to News Media Guild, 98% mine contracts in the US are settled each year without strikes. According to the classification of strikes, the same can be of many types, ranging from hunger-strikes to salary-strikes. Various examples can be taken from the alarming rise in the number of strikes storming the contemporary world. The recent examples can be seen in the newspapers and news channels of various countries, regarding various issues for justice and equality.


Student Indiscipline ~Researched and Written by Michelle P. Marak and Sherab Choden Bhutia


hat do we understand when we use the word “student indiscipline”? The first thing that comes to our mind is a group of uncontrolled apprentices trying to do things their way. All over the world, whether be it Japan, U.S.A., Sri Lanka or our very own country, India, the indisciplined behaviour of students is becoming an everyday occurrence and a major issue. From more than ordinary stiff question papers to corrupt regimes, anything is enough to ignite the rebellious and furious fire of aggression burning among the ill-informed student body to make them go slogan shouting on the streets like a crowd of street urchins or a bunch of hoodlums hired by a town political party. It is simply a plain lack of discipline. Maybe it is them trying to show and make the society aware of the power which they do not really possess or it is the result or the outcome of their boredom forcing them to find some unconventional outlet. It is a sign of exuberant health or a symptom of some fatal disease. It may also signify increasing political awareness in the younger generation. With the younger generation the political spirit is also increasing. As a result, the students of today’s generation are members of a rootless generation that is assailed by doubts at every step and has lost all sense of purpose and direction. It occurs in those states which are politically disturbed or unstable. Let us take an example of our very own country. The political leaders and parties have managed to corrupt young minds. These unscrupulous political organizations and politicians do not hesitate to make use of the younger generation, i.e., the student-body and they infuse in the young minds these corrupt ideals. This state of affairs, coupled with the natural propensities of youth towards revolt and adventure has served as an ideal setting for students to appear in the role of mobs of frustrated agitators not willing to listen to anybody, out to assert themselves in all their adolescent exuberance and to have a good time at any cost. We see the youth displaying their unruly acts in many ways. Nowadays we see students jeering and shouting at teachers, children throwing tantrums and yelling at parents when they don’t have it their way. Some even hit their parents. In schools and colleges they take to ragging to show their superiority; while the cowardly lot take to bullying. Newcomers to schools and colleges are bullied and have to face ragging. Many children don’t know how to behave and speak to people. At home they scream and shout and fight. They are indecent to their parents. This puts them in poor light and people start questioning their upbringing. The youth of today are indecent, independent, and revolutionary. They want to do things their way, in a different way most of the time which causes theirs and the older generations’ ideas to clash. Has anyone wondered as to why they behave thus? People question them. They call them ruthless, indisciplined and revolutionary but there are reasons behind this too. 8

Parents nowadays are so busy with their work that they don’t have time for their family. Most families have both the parents doing jobs. They go out for work in the morning and return home late in the evening, tired. All they want to do is rest their tired selves. As a result, most of the time, they can’t spend time with their families. They are busy with themselves. Lack of interest on the part of parents contributes to the breeding of indiscipline in young minds. To a certain extent, it is a sign of the times. Life is becoming so complicated and busy that there is almost no human life left. Careless and indifferent homes produce indisciplined children. There are others factors too. In the classroom they are taught the virtues of purity in public life, but outside they see the rule of corruption everywhere. They fail to understand why they would put forward an act which is not only different but also divergent to what they are being taught between the four walls of the classroom. It is not really surprising that they feel confused and really do not know what is expected of them. The result is a rootless generation cut off from the past and facing an uncertain future. Complaints about the lack of amenities in colleges and universities, and also about the poor standards of administration in most of them, are also quite frequent. This has provoked prolonged agitation on the part of students. As a result students of today are aggressive,. These days indisciplined children are turning vulgar. Some homes don’t have strict parents to control these children. And since old habits die hard, these children turn out to be indecent, ill-mannered and vulgar. One of the major components of such student indiscipline is ragging, as mentioned earlier. It involves existing students either baiting or bullying new students. New comers everywhere are often subjected to physical or psychological torture, such that sometimes these newcomers end up committing suicide or getting killed or having a very disturbed psychology. Due to ragging, sometimes these students get into depression which is beyond a therapist’s help. There have been many instances where ragging has caused tragic accidents and deaths. Satwinder Kumar, 28, ended his life on March 3, 2010. In his suicide note he named seven seniors who had ragged him so much that he left for home in Kurukshetra rather than give his mid-term exams. Before that he committed suicide by throwing himself before a goods train in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district. Aman Kachroo, a first year student of Tanda Medical College in Himachal Pradesh, succumbed to his injuries allegedly after being ragged by four seniors. A medical student of the Guwahati Medical College too had to face such an accident after which she became psychologically challenged. A school boy who had been bullied by his classmates, got into a fight and died in an accident. Many a times these victims of ragging face embarrassment and shock due to which they end up hurting or killing themselves. Although the intention is fun, the repercussions are fatal. So we must say “No” to ragging.


Surveillance, or Not? ~Researched and Written by Tanvi Goyal and Radhika Jalan


Spy camera can be any sort of camera meant to take pictures or video of a person or scene without their knowledge. Traditionally, the term spy camera was used for cameras actually used within the context of espionage, as in small cameras carried during the Cold War to take photographs of plans, buildings, or troops. In modern usage, however, it more often refers to a small, easily-concealable photo or video camera that can be purchased by consumers for their personal usage. A very small video spy camera will take videos that will show the general movement of a situation, and a broad idea of what people involved look like, but the resolution may be too poor to really see facial features or discern small details. Let us think how the Spy camera was discovered. In the past, the German Security Agency had first used this device for security purposes. Slowly, other countries followed suit. Advancements in technology have made it easier to set up and use this form of surveillance. These cameras are used in houses, roads, markets, offices, schools, rail and metro stations. This device is very helpful in busy areas. However, Spy cameras aren’t making us any safer. Team members walk through the airport, check into and out of hotels, get into and out of taxis. They make no effort to hide themselves from the cameras, sometimes seeming to stare directly into them. They obviously don't care that they're being recorded, and -- in fact -- the cameras fail to prevent the assassination. As far as we know, they have in no way helped, as yet, in identifying the killers. Pervasive security cameras don't substantially reduce crime. This fact has been demonstrated repeatedly: in San Francisco, California, public housing in a New York apartment complex, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and in Washington. They have never been instrumental in solving many crimes. There are exceptions, of course, and proponents of cameras can always cherry-pick examples to bolster their argument. These success stories are what convince us; our brains are wired to respond more strongly to anecdotes than to data. But the data are clear: CCTV cameras have minimal value in the fight against crime. Although it's comforting to imagine vigilant police monitoring every camera, the truth is very different, for a variety of reasons: technological limitations of cameras, organizational limitations of police and the adaptive abilities of criminals. No one looks at most CCTV footage until well after a crime is committed. And when the police do look at the recordings, it's very common for them to be unable to identify suspects.


Although a police officer on the street can respond to a crime in progress, someone watching a CCTV screen can only dispatch an officer to arrive much later. The important question isn't whether cameras solve past crime or deter future crime; it's whether they're a good use of resources. Their inevitable misuse is another aspect; police have spied on naked women in their own homes, shared nude images, sold best-of videos and even spied on national politicians. Though we might be willing to accept these downsides for a real increase in security, cameras haven’t been successful in providing that lately. Surveillance and surveillance cameras don't make us safer. The money spent on cameras could be much better spent on actual policing.


The Amazing Power of Music ~Researched and Written by Olivia Nambam


am sure most of us are familiar with the Pied Piper of Hamelin tale. It is fascinating how he lured the rats away from the town of Hamelin with his magic pipe. And when people of the town refused to pay him for getting rid of the rats, he led all the children away by the magic of his music. Such was the enticing power of the Pied Piper’s music. It is not only in fairytales that we come across the power of music. In Greek mythology, the greatest of all musicians was named Orpheus. Whatever he sang was so enchanting that his songs could charm even rocks and rivers as well as humans and animals. The most famous story in which Orpheus figures is that of his wife Euridice. At her wedding, Euridice was bitten by a snake and she died. Orpheus overcome with grief played such sad and mournful songs that all the nymphs and gods wept. On their advice, Orpheus travelled to the underworld, the land of the dead, to bring back his wife. With his sad sweet songs he softened the hearts of rulers of the Underworld, who agreed to allow Euridice to return with him to earth, on the condition that he should walk in front of her and not look back until they both had reached the Upper world. Unfortunately, in his anxiety, as soon as he reached the Upper world, he turned to look at her, forgetting that both needed to be in the Upper world, and she vanished for the second time, but now forever. In Greek mythology there are also stories about the Sirens. The Sirens were beautiful creatures who were part human, part bird. Their songs were so wonderful that sailors who heard the Sirens' songs would hurl themselves overboard and swim to the island of the Sirens. Lured by these strange maidens the men would die upon the jagged rocks around the island. In Hindu mythology too there are stories about the power of music. Once, a long time ago, it so happened that people took to uncivilised ways, were ruled by jealousy and greed, and evil spirits and demons swarmed over the earth. Seeing this plight, Indra and other gods approached Lord Brahma and requested him to give the people a diversion so that people gave up their bad ways. And it was then that he decided to give the celestial art of sangeet to mankind. It fell upon the great sage Narada to be the first mortal recipient of this divine art. There are also legends about Tansen, the court musician of the Moghul Emperor, Akbar. Considered to be one of the greatest musicians that ever lived, Tansen could work miracles with his singing. It is said that on occasions, he could create rain by singing the monsoon raag Megh Malhar. It is also said that he could create fire by singing raag Dipak. Fairytales and mythological stories aside, we have all experienced music's physical and mental effects on us at one time or another. After a stressful work day, classical music, certain types of jazz, or our favourite folk singer can physically relax our bodies 12

and distract our minds from the cares of the day-- at least for a while. On the other hand, loud, fast music with a strong beat can excite or bother us. Interestingly, Science is backing up our intuition and experience, showing that music really does kill pain, reduces stress, betters our brains and basically changes our experience of life. In fact, there’s a growing field of health care known as Music Therapy, which uses music to heal. Even hospitals are beginning to use music and music therapy to help with pain management, to help ward off depression, to promote movement, to calm patients. There are also schools and workplaces that use music to help students learn better, and help workers become more productive. There are so many scientific studies and explanations to confirm the amazing power of music. But without going through the clinical details, there are experiences we all go through that gives us enough reasons to believe in the magic of music. Next time you watch an action, horror or thriller movie, close your eyes and check this out. You can pretty much tell what's happening on the screen by the music alone. The music signals us when something scary, threatening or bad is about to happen. And why is that most of us learnt the alphabet through song? Scientists believe that by putting information into music, the information becomes easier to remember. There is an entire section in the brain that is stimulated by music. It is no wonder that lyrics, songs and other information in music are easier to remember than trying to recall just straight facts. And we know that mothers often sing soothing lullabies to put babies to sleep. Yes, if we just sit back and think about it, we will find that there are so many ways in which we relate to music. Think about it, can you hum or sing a happy upbeat number when you are sad or angry? I don’t think so. Indeed, if next time you catch me humming a catchy tune, you can be very sure I am in a good mood.


The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 ~Researched and Written by Pooja Priya And Ambika Agarwal


N the 1950's violence became a part of life for the survivors in the North-East States of India. State Administration failed to pacify its internal disturbance. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA was passed on September 11, 1958, by the Parliament of India granting special powers to the armed forces in, what the Act terms as the "disturbed areas". The Act allows soldiers to arrest or shoot “anyone who has committed offence or is reasonably suspected of having done so”. The Act also specifies that “Army officers have legal immunity for their actions. There can be no prosecution, suit or any other legal proceedings against anyone acting under that law. Nor is the government's judgement on why an area is found to be disturbed subject to judicial review.”In practice, the AFSPA is a license given to the soldiers to terrorize the citizens of the states where it is being applied. The soldiers’ immunity from prosecution encourages them to act brutally. With power comes certain advantages and at the end of the day it is always misused for their own narrow interest. I say this only knowing that incidents have occurred in the past and is continuing. Yes, I do come from the Northeast of India where an innocent female being raped by military forces, under the name of the Armed Forces Special Power Act, lives alone in a village which sans electricity, not being able to afford the media hype that the happening Delhi rape case has been able to create. I do come from this corner of our country where a woman from Manipur named Irom Sharmila Chanu has been on a hunger strike, protesting against the AFSPA for the past 12 years. She is still alive only because she is forcibly fed through a tube passing through her nose and down her throat. She has been kept in prison for a decade on the charge of attempting suicide. However, Sharmila's physical condition is deteriorating, and if the Act is not repealed soon, her long fast may end in death. Sharmila's fast is in the tradition of Gandhi's non-violent resistance Furthermore, she affirms that she will continue her act of bravery hoping that if not today, if not tomorrow, but someday, her quest shall be successful and the terrible act will be repealed. On 23 March, 2009, the United Nations asked India to repeal AFSPA, an act that they considered to be contrary to Article 4 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights. The UN Commissioner on Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay termed the law an “outdated and colonial-era law that breaches contemporary International Human Rights Standards.” The United Nations also questioned the constitutionality of the AFSPA under Indian law. On March 31, 2012, Christof Heyns, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, again called on India to repeal the AFSPA. “During my visit to Kashmir”, he said, “AFSPA was described to me as 'hated' and 'draconian'. It 14

clearly violates international law�. The attention of International Human Rights groups would help to hasten the repeal of the unjust Armed Forces Special Powers Act. With its repeal, the States of Northeastern India could become equal partners in a democratic India. At present they are terrorized and unwilling colonies. The Northeast maybe a forgotten corner of the country however, we foster human beings equally Indian , we too sing the National Anthem in our schools, shout Vande Mataram on Independence Day and have Mahatma Gandhi’s photo imprinted on our currency, we too feel it equally hard when our sisters are raped and our mothers scream for help. However, the question still remains unanswered, how many can hear us cry?


Done ~Researched and Written by Udayaditya Konwar


e have come a long way from the times we thought that the earth was flat. Aristotle took care of that in 340 B.C. he noticed during lunar eclipses, the shadow of the earth on the moon was actually round. Our basic outlook of the whole universe concept has been modified, many a times. Sir Issac Newton's “Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematicia� was probably the most important single work ever published in the Physical Sciences. Newton not only explained how bodies move in space and time but he also developed the complicated Mathematics needed to analyze those motions. He postulated the Law of Universal Gravitation, according to which, each body in this universe is attracted towards the other by a force that is stronger. The more massive the bodies and the closer they were to each other, proportionately increased the magnitude of the force. Newton soon realized that according to his theory of gravity the stars would attract each other and in that manner fall together at the same point. Newton argued that the universe will still be stable if infinite number of heavenly bodies were distributed more or less uniformly over infinite space. There will be no central point for the stars to collapse then. This argument is an instance of the pitfalls that one encounters when talking about infinity. In an infinite Universe, every point can be regarded as the centre, as every point has an infinite number of stars on either sides. No matter how many stars we add, it does not make any difference. The stars will still collapse. This is how we know that it is not possible to make an infinite static model of the universe with the approval of the gravitational laws. If we look at a cloudless and moonless night sky, the brightest objects we see, will be the planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury, along with the countless stars. The stars which lie close enough so that we can see them with the naked eye are mostly about a hundred light years away. In other words, light from these stars takes a hundred years to reach us. Many scientists tried to prove the existence of galaxies and a non static universe around the 18th century, but so strong was the trust in a static one that none of them were accepted until the early 1920's. The modern picture of our universe can be said to have originated back in 1920, when astronomer Edwin Hubble demonstrated that our galaxy was not the only one. There were many others with vast tracts of empty space between us. In order to prove this, he needed to calculate the distance between stars that appear so small that they do really appear fixed. Hence, he was forced to use indirect methods of measurement. There are two known ways of calculating the distance between a star and our earth. One is the triangulation method . A star is observed one day and then again 6 months later. Taking into account, the difference in the viewing angle , the distance can be easily figured out with the help of a little trigonometry. But this only works for a body 16

not further than 400 light years from us. For bodies further than that there is another solution. The apparent brightness of a star depends upon two factors. The actual amount of light it radiates (its luminosity) and the distance it is away from us. Therefore if we knew the luminosity of a star, we could work out its distance. Hubble noticed that certain type of stars always have the same luminosity when they are near enough for us to measure. Therefore, he argues that if we could find such stars in other galaxies, we could find their distance from us. In this way Hubble found out nine different galaxies. We now know that our milky way is one in a hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes. Among Newton's discoveries white light splitting into seven colours when it passes through a prism is a very known phenomenon. If we focus telescopes into distant stars their spectra can be observed. A lot of things can be determined by this spectra, including temperature of the star and gases present in the atmosphere of the stars. An interesting observation was made by the scientists viewing the spectra of various stars in the early 1920s. For that we first need to understand the concept of the Doppler Effect. A train goes past you, blowing its whistle: "eeeeeeeEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOooooooo" At first, you hear the sound of the train approaching. It is high pitched. The second sound when the train is with you, it is medium pitched. The third sound you hear of the train going away is lower pitched and it keeps decreasing. Thats the Doppler Effect in action. If the train was not moving, you would hear "AAAAAA" No change in pitch. In this case, the source is moving as it emits sound waves, just as a footballer runs as he kicks the ball forward. Distance between the ball and the player keeps decreasing as he moves forward. In the same way, the distance between two sound waves of the train decrease, as the train moves forward and with this the frequency increases. In other words, the waves get more packed and dense. As we all know that the higher the frequency of the waves, the higher is the pitch. This is why you hear a high pitched sound. When the train is moving away from you, it is emitting sound waves but simultaneously moving away from you. It means that it will emit one wave, move a little further and then emit the second one. Thus the space between two waves will keep decreasing resulting in a lower frequency, and hence a low pitch. Same is the case with light. When the source is moving away, its spectra appears to be a little shifted towards the red end of the spectrum. Meaning light from the source is


appearing to have a lower frequency. And if you see an object is blue shifted, look out- its headed for you. After discovering the new galaxies, astronomer Edwin Hubble spent his time recording their distance from us. At that time, most people expected galaxies to be moving around quite randomly across the universe. So, when Hubble discovered that most stars of those galaxies were red shifted and not blue, it was quite a surprise. This meant that all the galaxies were moving away from us and not in any random manner, but the rate at which they were moving apart was directly proportional to the distance between. Even Newton's Gravitational Law provided the same explanation. The static model was soon forgotten. This discovery led to a lot of confusion. The belief in a static model was so strong that even Einstein was modifying his theory to solve the matter. The scientist who was busy trying to explain it was a Russian physicist, Alexander Friedmann. Friedmann based his theory on two basic assumptions. Firstly, that the universe looks the same from whichever direction we look at it. Second, that the universe would look same even if we viewed it from any other galaxy. These assumptions might sound silly but using them, Friedmann predicted what Hubble found several years later. The conformation of the first assumption was accidental. Two American physicists Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were using a very sensitive microwave detector which was apparently picking up more signals than it should. The noise did not seem to come from any particular direction. After ruling out all possible malfunctions, the noise persisted. In the end they found that these microwaves originated from outside our galaxy. The remarkable thing was that no matter, whichever direction they pointed the detector at, whether during the day or night, the signals were always the same. These men had accidentally stumbled upon a solid conformation of Friedmann's first assumption. There were three different models of the universe that obeyed Friedmann's two fundamental assumptions. In the first model, the universe began from a point with the Big Bang. The expansion of the universe began here. The rate of expansion would increase the size of the universe to a maximum, but then, the gravitational attraction existing between the celestial bodies would halt the expansion and slowly the universe would start to contract. It would then become so dense that it would collapse under its own gravity. In the second model, the rate of expansion would be so high that the gravitational pull would never be able to stop the expansion and the universe would expand forever. In the third model, the universe expands and barely makes it to the critical rate of expansion that allows it to expand forever. The expansion does slow down but never quite stops.


According to Friedmann's predictions, with the approval of general theory, there must have been a time (about a thousand million years ago), when the universe must have had infinite mass-when all celestial bodies must have been in a singular point known as the singularity where the theory itself breaks down. But which one of Friedmann's models best depicts our universe? For that we need to calculate the present density of the universe. We can take an approximation of masses of all the stars in our galaxies and assume the same for the rest . We also need to know the current rate of expansion of the universe which can be determined by the Doppler Effect. Unfortunately, due to the indirect method of measurement, the distance to the galaxies is not very accurate. Even then, we can safely say that the universe is expanding by about 5% to 10% every thousand million years. In spite of taking the lowest estimate of the rate of expansion, the density of the Universe is still only one tenth the value needed to halt the expansion. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that there might be some other form of matter that is not yet detected, which might still raise the average density of the Universe up to a critical value needed to halt the expansion. Even though it looks like the Universe is going to expand forever, there is still a chance for it to re-collapse. Even if it does, it won't do so for at least another ten thousand million years. Unless we manage to colonize ourselves in another Solar System(which does not seem possible), mankind will never live to see that day because our Sun along with mankind will be extinct. This is the rough estimate of our Universe and how this theory came to be. After the possibility of the singularity was discovered, scientists began to look at the tiniest of matter, the Elementary Particles. But then again, that is a completely different story.


Materialism ~Researched and Written by Anushka Burman And Mahasweta Das


hat is materialism all about? It is something about a desire for wealth and material possessions, with little interest in ethical or spiritual matters. So, all that we care about is the next new phone and the latest laptop. You continue think that these ‘materials’ are the be-all and end-all of life. Now, for some facts on people steeped in materialistic lust. They are the kind of people who only care about materialistic gadgets rather than being interested in spiritual and intellectual pursuits. Such people often are envious of their friends or neighbours who have new jewellery or even a car for themselves. As far as relationships are concerned, people want to stay away from men who are desperately obsessed with their gadgets and not you. Some of us might not call ourselves materialistic but the fact remains that we are all materialistic to some extent. We all love to use material goods in our daily lives and we cannot simply get away from them. There is nothing wrong with this as long as we are not enslaved and as long as we do not treasure them as we treasure our loved ones. There are some positive and negative effects to materialism. Firstly, the things that you materialistically possess are only temporary. They do are prone to wear and tear. They are like non-renewable resources which cannot be used again and again. Secondly, many people think that procuring expensive and gaudy goods can earn awe and respect. In other words, they buy new clothes and gadgets with chunks of money in order to impress others, but they are greatly disappointed when others do not react. Materialism also breeds negative uprisings like lust, selfishness, jealousy and sense of hopelessness. There is also a sunny side to Materialism. It does have positive effects. It encourages enterprise and the use of resources which, in turn, increases the standard of living. Research confirms that the negative effects of materialism have overpowered the positive. If you see there are a lot of the teenagers who are very materialistic. "I want", "I need", "I must have" are the three phrases often echoed by teenagers. This makes the job of the parents really difficult. From research we have found that teenagers become very materialistic because of the influence of the celebrities and advertisements. For example, if you see the fair and lovely advertisement, half of the people buy that product because they must have seen Katrina Kaif using it, forgetting the fact that she was born fair. 20

People should know that our skin colour has something to do with the melanin content in the body and not the cream that we use. People nowadays are very techno savvy. New gadgets are created everyday and people are getting attached to it more and more. In contrast, we come across many examples of human emotions transcending human greed in short stories by famous authors. For example, The Gift of the Magi written by O’ Henry shows that sacrifice for love is way better than gaining material wealth. Leo Tolstoy also shows that being greedy and trying to acquire more material wealth ends in disaster, as seen in his short story “How Much Land Does A Man Require?” Backed by many examples and research, we have found out that materialism is not healthy for us. We have to try and control ourselves. We should also educate others to stop when they should. According to our point of view, materialism only reaps the whirlwind. So let’s help the people who are very materialistic and struggling. They need help. They need love and compassion. They are diseased. On a concluding note, we would like to quote John Lennon: “If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there'd be peace.”


Expository Writing  

A fresh initiative by the English Department of The Assam Valley School.

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