Monday, January 10, 2005

Scian Melt #6

Welcome, one and all, to the Scian Melt #6. The Scian Melt is a carnival of science, with a heavy dose of Indian spices. For a second helping, visit the Scian Melt homepage.

The terrible tsunami is constantly on our minds: Wikipedia has much more information about how a tsunami is formed, as well as links to the latest news on the disaster itself. If you are one of the ten remaining people on the planet who hasn't visited SEA-EAT, please do so, and contribute in whatever way you can.

Tony Denmark has a page of before-and-after scenes of devastation in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. The devastation in Banda Aceh is truly horrifying.

It is a cliche (but still true) that tragedies bring out the best in people, and remind us of the worth of those that we so easily dismiss in calmer times. Anna from sepiamutiny points out that the vast majority of men working to remove bodies in the most affected areas of Tamil Nadu are Dalits, or "untouchables" as they used to be called. Considering how so many others are shying away from dealing with the vast numbers of corpses and the imminent health catastrophe, they deserve our recognition.

In the wake of the disaster, controversy raged over whether the tsunamis could have been predicted, or if anything could have been done to lessen its impact. Janaki Kremmer at the Christian Science Monitor pens an article about how mangrove forests saved hundreds of villagers by forming a natural barrier between villages and the sea.

But along with true science comes the wackos. There are numerous conspiracy theories about the cause of the tsunami, with one of the more popular ones being an Israeli-Indian joint nuclear test. Arm your falsifier guns, folks !

In other news, Atanu Dey laments as to why Indians are prone to both reflexive self-bashing and a blind pride that obscures our true failings. He asks
Does anyone ever ask the question: Why is India the way it is?... When was the last time you ever heard of a conference where serious people with lots of knowledge and understanding got together to examine that question?
Well, as it turns out, the 92nd Indian Science Congress was held last week in Ahmedabad, with discussions on Indian pharmaceuticals, stem cell research, and disease prevention. It turns out that haldi (turmeric) is really really good for you. Research now shows that curcumin (an active ingredient of haldi) can be used to design effective anti-malarial drugs. What's more, curcumin has been shown to help stave off Alzheimer's, as well reduce plaque that may have already built up in the brain. Eat Indian food often, people !

To end this melt here's a nice page summarizing the history of Indian Mathematics (I am after all a computer scientist).

The next Melt will be hosted by MadMan: please send your nominations to melt [at] thescian [dot] com or madman [at] madmanweb [dot] com


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