Thursday, 2 May 2013
Promised to revolutionise public transport in France, the TGV trains developed by national train carrier SNCF in collaboration with Alstom in 1981 delivered just that.
Today, the 3rd generation, the AGV (the name change is fundamentally linked to its revolutionary technology), allows for an even more efficient mode of transport. Operating at speeds of 350 km/hr and linking various Italian cities, the AGV has got rid of its engines, each wheel now having its own motor and therefore allowing the entire train to be used for carrying passenger.
Furthermore, the train can now be configured to take up 300 to 600 passengers by changing the number of rail cars attached together. There is plan to enable an even longer train with a capacity of 1200 passengers.
The train boast an incredible 2.2 gr of CO2 per passenger/km, a record when compared to other modes of transport. This is due in part to the special brakes on the train that recuperates the energy and puts it back on the electric grid.
Much research has gone into the aero-acoustic properties of the design to allow for a much quieter and comfortable journey. An interesting fact is that a train that travels at 330 km/h creates twice as much noise as one travelling at 300 km/h. The design elements of the train has allowed it to travel at 360km/h while preserving acoustic properties of trains travelling at 300km/h.
Already in operation in Italy, AGV will be introduced in France in 2014.
Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Thursday, 18 April 2013
|Hand picked cotton from India fed the English Industrial revolution... at what cost?|
It is 1740, India is under the grip of the East India Company. To tap into the economic potential of their Jewel in the Crown, rail-roads, bridges, canals and ports are developed in order to facilitate the transport of raw Cotton from India's hinterland to the ports on the west coast. The systematic plunder of the country leads to to the great famine of 1770. Towards the turn of the century, British textile mills are now so mechanised that in order to feed this mammoth industry, American cotton (cheaper and of better quality) is imported. In order to ship cotton, it has to be packed into bales, a manual process in India that requires over 600 man-hours per bale. The cotton export in India slows down, unable to compete with the Americans. The American civil-war quickly turns the tables as blockades of southern American ports by the confederates stops the supply of the raw material to the English mills. For a while the English industry turn to Egyptian cotton, eventually leading to that nation's bankruptcy.
In the mean time, India's cotton production had vastly improved and much effort was put in by the colonial rulers to reduce the price of export to a minimum with mechanised baling. The situation was aptly summarised by Gandhi,
This further ruined the country, leaving its footprint and consequences long after the English masters had departed.
- English people buy Indian cotton in the field, picked by Indian labor at seven cents a day, through an optional monopoly.
- This cotton is shipped on British ships, a three-week journey across the Indian Ocean, down the Red Sea, across the Mediterranean, through Gibraltar, across the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean to London. One hundred per cent profit on this freight is regarded as small.
- The cotton is turned into cloth in Lancashire. You pay shilling wages instead of Indian pennies to your workers. The English worker not only has the advantage of better wages, but the steel companies of England get the profit of building the factories and machines. Wages; profits; all these are spent in England.
- The finished product is sent back to India at European shipping rates, once again on British ships. The captains, officers, sailors of these ships, whose wages must be paid, are English. The only Indians who profit are a few lascars who do the dirty work on the boats for a few cents a day.
- The cloth is finally sold back to the kings and landlords of India who got the money to buy this expensive cloth out of the poor peasants of India who worked at seven cents a day. (Fisher 1932 pp 154–156)
|Cotton trucked to baling factories|
Spinning a new eraEnters Microspin, a small Chennai based start-up company that is turning the industry on its head. The concept behind Microspin's business model is simplicity and efficiency. Get rid of the baling process! Spin the cotton next to where its grown by introducing micro-spin setups using electronic controls to lower the energy cost and render the process more efficient. Not only does the model makes perfect sense in light of the history of cotton farming in India, but the greatest contribution is the value addition the farmers can leverage with this set up, allowing them to sell spun cotton at a higher cost than the raw material.
Tuesday, 9 April 2013
|Dental check up camp in action in a rural school|
|Teaching children about oral health|
A beautiful story from Tamil Nadu, south India. For the last 20 odd years, a group of intrepid dental workers have laboured to change the rural reality of their local villages. ADCERRA is a project started by French dentist, Dr. Jacques Verre, devotee of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, settled in Auroville, he has trained rural women to be health workers and disseminate the importance of oral health in surrounding villages of the Auroville bio-region. Their labour of love is beautifully illustrated in this short film that has recently being released.
Your Smile is Precious from Rakhal on Vimeo.
Friday, 5 April 2013
An interesting story picked up from geek news portal /. introduces a new AI system that will grade students essays at the click of button, enabling teachers to take break but also allowing for a more transparent grading system. This system will be accessible online through edX's free online courses portal. The system will also allow students to retake the test in order to improve their score. We can imagine a world where such scores will be taken as reference for eligibility to further education or even job applications. The work was carried out by edX, a nonprofit collaboration between MIT and Havard.
Friday, 22 March 2013
|Red Ladies-fingers/Okra/Bindi/Pottu look lovely|
|Love & consciousness are important ingredients, fertile soil is contained in small cultivable patches|
|Jagannathan, organic farmer with a passion|
|Some wonderful Keerai|
|Greens are not always green!|
Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Under a metro bridge in the capital Delhi, a few unsung heroes are changing the lives of underprivileged children, one chalk mark at a time. The story, as told by the teachers is touching and shows the potential for change that a few people with aspiration and determination can bring about.