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You can’t eat this Pongal

because it’s a type of rock found on Mars!

What I cannot understand is why, when one of the rocks was named Kohinoor, after the famed diamond, and another Nalanda, after the country’s oldest university, the third was named Pongal, a dish made and eaten during the eponymous harvest festival. If the namers were driven by a need to use a ‘South Indian’ name, they could have used something more inclusive, like Kaveri, the river around which South Indian civilisation developed. Why food? read more

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A Cool Moon animation and orbital periods

Reading more about moons, I came across this cool moon animation.

That led me to look up lunation, which Wikipedia says is “the mean time for one lunar phase cycle (i.e., the synodic period of the Moon). It is on average 29.530589 days, or 29 d 12 h 44 min 3 s.” This made me look up what a synodic period was, and that opened a whole new can of worms! Here it is, excerpted from Wikipedia:

The orbital period is the time it takes a planet (or another object) to make one full orbit.

There are several kinds of orbital periods for objects around the Sun: read more

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Abu Ghraib, beleaguered aid and Bulging Iapetus

Lynndie England and Charles Graner have a baby. Their lawyer has argued that tethers are not abuse and that it is commonly used by parents on their children in malls and airports. One wonders at the plight of baby England-Graner – will it grow up on a leash?

I was talking to Prabhakar yesterday – he had visited some of the tsunami-hit villages and had spent time talking to many of the affected people. He said that now that the initial wave of sympathy had died down, local quations had come into play, totally influencing relief work and determining who got what. He also spoke of a village where the traditional village committee had taken upon itself the task of rebuilding their village. They took charge of determining who was the most affected and who needed what. They have also fixed a two-month timeline for getting back to their normal lives, saying that after that, they would not require any help from outside. The only bottleneck they now face is getting their boats ready – an expensive affair where the Govt. has promised help. But this has run into rough weather because the local MLA wants them to get him a few boats. read more

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