The Lost Continent of Lemuria or Kumari Kandam

Lemuria

Have you heard of a continent that is lost from the earth beneath the ocean? Have you heard of the continent called Lemuria or Kumari Kandam? If not let’s try and understand the researcher’s perspective to this lost continent. With the advancement of technology and scientific capabilities, archeologists and scientist have proposed many new theories and existence of civilizations in the past. You can find many references of the sunken cities. One most talked city example is Dwarika in Gujarat, India. Similarly, a theory proposed in the 19th century suggests the existence of land referred to as Lemuria in south of existing India. The name comes from the lemur fossils (Lemurs are ancestral primates like monkeys, apes, and humans that are considered to have evolved from them) found in Madagascar and India but not in Middle East or Africa. This lead to the theory that India and Madagascar were once part of a larger sunken continent that was named as ‘Lemuria’ located in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Definitely sunken continents do exist – like Zealandia in the Pacific or Mauritia and the Kerguelen Plateau of Indian Ocean, but due to scarcity of data and known geological formation under the Indian or Pacific Oceans that resulted into the hypothetical Lemuria which is no longer considered a valid scientific hypothesis.

The hypothesis of existence of sunken continent Lemuria has been taken by writers involved in the mystical, magical powers, supernatural practices, or phenomena in India. References of Lemuria differ amongst them, but all agree that a continent existed in ancient times in south India and sank beneath the ocean as a result of a geological, disastrous change due to pole shift or some unknown phenomenon. Some writers have tried to associate Lemuria with Kumari Kandam (sunken land that connected Madagascar to South India and Australia that covers most part of the Indian Ocean), a legendary sunken mainland area referenced in the Tamil literature claiming that it was the foundation of civilization.

 

A group of Tamil writers who are member of the clergy and promote religious revival adapted this theory. These people perform religious revivals that travel and conduct revivals. They connected it to the Pandyan rulers and legends who were ruling the lost lands to the ocean, which is mentioned at many places in ancient Tamil and Sanskrit literature. They mention about the loss of Pandyan kingdom territory to the sea. This is found in scattered versions of Purananuru (dated between 1st century BCE and 5th century CE) and Kaliththokai (6th-7th century CE).. According to their philosophy, Kumari Kandam was the region where the initial two Tamil literary academies (referred to as Sangams) were organized during the Pandyan reign. The Tamil Sangams or Cankams according to traditional Tamil references were assemblies of Tamil scholars and poets that existed way back in past. Scholars consider that these assemblies were actually named as kootam. In all three sects or assemblies are found to have existed in descriptions in texts. It is accepted that the first two were held in cities that got submerged into sea and the third assembly was held in the present-day city of Madurai. They claimed Kumari Kandam as the cradle of civilization (a term referring to locations where according to archaeological sources civilization is considered to have emerged) to prove the history of Tamil language and culture. The words “Kumari Kandam” is seen to have appeared first in Kanda Purana which is a 15th-century Tamil version of the Skanda Purana, written by Kachiappa Sivacharyara (1350-1420).Other medieval writers also make references to the loss of ancient lands to the south of Kanyakumari, in different explanations on ancient texts such as Tolkappiyam. The Tolkappiyam is a work on the grammar of the Tamil language and the ancient and historical earliest work on Tamil literature and linguistics.

There are also various other ancient references that talks about loss of land to the sea. Many Tamil Hindu shrines have legendary references that talks on surviving the floods mentioned in Hindu mythology which could be seen in temples of Kanyakumari, Kanchipuram, Kumbakonam, Madurai, Sirkazhi and Tiruvottiyur. In addition, there are also mentions of temples submerged under the sea, such as the Seven Pagodas of Mahabalipuram. One of the most important stories as per Puranas keep the start of life at the beginning of the very popular Hindu flood story – the legend of Manu in India. The Sanskrit-language Bhagavata Purana (dated 500 BCE-1000 CE) describes Manu as the Lord of India. In another reference in Manimeghalai (dated around 6th century CE) mentions that the historical port city of Kavirippumpattinam during Chola period (modern day Puhar) was destroyed completely by a flood. It is said that this flood was created by the Hindu deity Indra because Chola king forgot to celebrate a festival dedicated to him.

 

Unfortunately none of these ancient Indian texts or their medieval explanations uses the name “Kumari Kandam” for the land supposedly lost due to rise of sea levels. These texts do not even mention that the land lost to the sea was a big mainland continent and was located in the south of Kanyakumari. In modern times according to the research work done at India’s National Institute of Oceanography, it is found that the sea level at that time was lower by 100m about 14,500 years ago. The sea level was lower by 60 m about 10,000 years ago. Hence as per modern understanding, it is very well possible that there could have been land that is lost to the see. This can very well be seen in the theory that says once a land bridge exists that connected India to Sri Lanka. Due to global warming around 10,000-12,000 years back, the rising sea levels resulted in flooding. This could be considered to have been basis for submerged prehistoric settlements that existed around the lowland coastal areas of India and Sri Lanka.

One prominent piece of evidence that partially supports the existence of Kumari Kandam is Adam’s Bridge (also known as Ram Setu). This bridge is a chain of limestone shoals located in the Palk Strait area between India and Sri Lanka. It extends around 18 miles from mainland India to Sri Lanka.  This strip of land was once considered to be a natural formation however few argue that images taken by a NASA satellite depict it as a long broken bridge under the ocean’s surface.

As with many of the proposed theories from time to time, it seems a mix of thoughts exists and that there is some truth to the ancient thoughts on the existence of land called Kumari Kandam but still more studies and evidences and proofs are needed which is yet to be determined to make a final decision.

– See more at: https://www.myind.net/lost-continent-lemuria-or-kumari-kandam

Imagecredits: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kumari_Kandam_map.png

 

Many scientific truths are, in fact, false

Source: Many scientific truths are, in fact, false

In 2005, John Ioannidis, a professor of disease prevention at Stanford University,published a paper, “Why most published research findings are false,” mathematically showing that a huge number of published papers must be incorrect. He also looked at a number of well-regarded medical research findings, and found that, of 34 that had been retested, 41% had been contradicted or found to be significantly exaggerated.

Since then, researchers in several scientific areas have consistently struggled toreproduce major results of prominent studies. By some estimates, at least 51%—and as much as 89%—of published papers are based on studies and experiments showing results that cannot be reproduced.

Researchers have recreated prominent studies from several scientific fields and come up with wildly different results. And psychology has become something of a poster child for the “reproducibility crisis” since Brian Nosek, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, coordinated a Reproducibility Initiativeproject to repeat 100 psychological experiments, and could only successfullyreplicate 40%.

Now, an attempt to replicate another key psychological concept (ego depletion: the idea that willpower is finite and can be worn down with overuse) has come up short. Martin Hagger, psychology professor at Curtin University in Australia, led researchers from 24 labs in trying to recreate a key effect, but found nothing. Their findings are due to be published in Perspectives on Psychological Science in the coming weeks.

Why are they getting it wrong?

No one is accusing the psychologists behind the initial experiments of intentionally manipulating their results. But some of them may have been tripped up by one or more of the various aspects of academic science that inadvertently encourage bias.

For example, there’s massive academic pressure to publish in journals, and these journals tend to publish exciting studies that show strong results.

“Journals favor novelty, originality, and verification of hypotheses over robustness, stringency of method, reproducibility, and falsifiability,” Hagger tells Quartz. “Therefore researchers have been driven to finding significant effects, finding things that are novel, testing them on relatively small samples.”

This has created a publication bias, where studies that show strong, positive results get published, while similar studies that come up with no significant effects sit at the bottom of researchers’ drawers.

Meanwhile, in cases where researchers have access to large amounts of data, there’s a dangerous tendency to hunt for significant correlations. Researchers can thus convince themselves that they’ve spotted a meaningful connection, when in fact such connections are totally random.

A sign of strength

The idea that papers are publishing false results might sound alarming but the recent crisis doesn’t mean that the entire scientific method is totally wrong. In fact, science’s focus on its own errors is a sign that researchers are on exactly the right path.

Ivan Oransky, producer of the blog Retraction Watch, which tracks retractions printed in journals, tells Quartz that ultimately, the alarm will lead to increased rigor.

“There’s going to be some short-term and maybe mid-term pain as all of this shakes out, but that’s how you move forward,” he says. “It’s like therapy—if you never get angry in therapy, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. If you never find mistakes, or failures to reproduce in your field, you’re probably not asking the right questions.”

For psychologists, who have seen so many results crumble in such a short space of time, the replication crisis could be disheartening. But it also presents a chance to be at the forefront of developing new policies.

Ioannidis tells Quartz that he views the most recent psychology reproducibility failures as a positive. “It shows how much effort and attention has gone towards improving the accuracy of the knowledge produced,” he says. “Psychology is a discipline that has always been very strong methodologically and was at the forefront at describing various biases and better methods. Now they are again taking the lead in improving their replication record.”

For example, there’s already widespread discussion within psychology about pre-registering trials (which would prevent researchers from shifting their methods so as to capture more eye-catching results), making data and scientific methods more open, making sample sizes larger and more representative, and promoting collaboration.

Dorothy Bishop, a professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University, tells Quartz that several funding bodies and journals seem to be receptive to these ideas and that, once one or two adopt such policies, she expects them to spread rapidly.

Doing science on science

Each scientific field must adopt its own methods of ensuring accuracy. But ultimately, this self-reflection is a key part of the scientific process.

As Bishop notes, “Science has proved itself to be an incredibly powerful method.” And yet there’s always room for further advancement.

There’s never an end point,” says Bishop. “We’re always groping towards the next thing. Sometimes science does disappear down the wrong path for a bit before it corrects itself.”

For Nosek, who led the re-testing of 100 psychology papers, the current focus on reproducibility is simply part of the scientific process.

“Science isn’t about truth and falsity, it’s about reducing uncertainty,” he says. “Really this whole project is science on science: Researchers doing what science is supposed to do, which is be skeptical of our own process, procedure, methods, and look for ways to improve.”

The Indian Railways Revamp under Suresh Prabhu

https://www.myind.net/indian-railways-revamp-under-suresh-prabhu

Indian Railways is one of the largest enterprise run and owned by the government that functions under Ministry of Railways. In this article we try to understand the progress made in the Indian railways under the railway minister Mr. Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu. Before going into the details let us understand the history of Indian railways.

Indian railways was formed in the year 1853. It is one of the largest railway networks in the world. It comprises of approximately 115,000 km (71,000 miles) of track over a route of 65,808 km (40,891 miles). It operates trains city on various gauge networks – broad, meter and narrow gauges.

It is interesting to note that in the year 1921, as per a report submitted by William Mitchell Acworth the then British railway economist who was the chairman of the committee on Indian Railways led to restructuring of Indian Railways. The committee recommended the separation of railway finances from the general government finances. This led to the creation of a separate Railway budget. This separation is still followed till date and a separate Railway budget is presented each year in parliament by the Railways minister which is telecast live on the national television. The first live telecast of railway budget was presented by Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav in 1994.

 

Suresh Prabhu is the current Railway minister of India. He was born and brought up in state of Maharashtra, India. He is member of many national and international bodies on development and progress initiatives across globe. He was a part of the Shiv Sena till 2014 and was elected four times from the Rajapur constituency to the Lok Sabha in Maharashtra. He joined the BJP in November 2014 and presently is the member of the Rajya Sabha from Haryana. He has done consistently well as union minister in past also in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

Suresh Prabhu is considered to be a task master, he has held the Ministry of Railways for last two years and has presented two budgets. We will look into the initiatives taken by him to revamp Indian railways in last two years in this article.

The 2015 Indian Railway Initiatives undertaken by Suresh Prabhu –

  • The railway budget was present on 26-Feb-2015 in Parliament. The following were the key takeaways from the Budget:
  • In a bold decision this year in the railway budget no new trains were proposed. This was the first sign from him that he wants to do the things differently
  • The second bold decision was of no passenger fare hike in his budget although there was tremendous pressure on the revenue generated by railways.
  • Passengers were allowed to book tickets up to 120 days in advance which was previously 2 months (60 days) to give more comfort to passengers to plan their trips well in advance.
  • A new initiative called “Operation 5-minutes” was started to extend help to passengers in getting tickets within 5 minutes after entering a station. This was one of major decisions that was totally dependent on technology. With this implementation he showed that he wanted to change the traditional way of ticketing.
  • Another good decision was that SMS alerts for the arrivals and the departure of trains were introduced, keeping in mind that a lot passengers have mobile phones in India with the number of users increasing daily.
  • A centrally managed “Railway Display Network” was implemented that provided train information across the country.
  • Keeping the poor in mind he made a provision to add additional general-class coaches in the highly crowded selected trains
  • To improve the overall facilities across India 200 stations are finalized and were included under “Adarsh Station Scheme” to provide basic amenities such as drinking water, toilets, waiting rooms etc.
  • External hiring of professional cleaning agencies was implemented to keep stations and trains clean. This was implemented as part of “Swachh Rail Swachh Bharat” program, which has started showing results and been appreciated by the masses.
  • To improve the sanitation facilities 17,000 existing toilets on trains were planned to be replaced with bio-toilets adding to the existing 17,388 bio-toilets. In addition to this 650 railway stations were proposed to get new toilets to improve the facilities on stations.
  • Efficient implementation of 24/7 toll-free phone numbers facilities – 138 for the helpline and 182 for security issues was done to automate the inquires of train arrival and departure across the country.
  • Keeping in mind the potential increase in mobile usage over the years mobile phone battery charging facility was introduced in general-class coaches for the first time and plans increase more in the coming years was taken. Additional charging points in sleeper-class coaches were provisioned.
  • Technology usage was proposed to be maximized for travelers with ambitious plan to provide 400 railways stations which includes B-category stations with Wi-Fi facilities.
  • Proposed installation of CCTV cameras in selected trains and inside women’s coaches of suburban trains for safety of women passengers was proposed which was much appreciated. Once implemented this will be a benchmark for coming years in area of security and monitoring.
  • To match the standards of air lines in trains Shatabdi trains facilities were proposed to be scaled by providing on-board entertainment. This is yet to be fully implemented but once done will definitely add to the overall image building of the Indian Railways.
  • Collision detection systems of the trains were proposed on selected routes to detect train collision upfront, where there are huge traffic on the routes to minimize the human errors and increase safety of passengers.
  • To facilitate ease of complete trip planning, implementation was done to increase the number of stations from where passengers can pay both train and road tickets. This was done to avoid waste of time and at the same time improve the overall trip experience.
  • To increase the facilities now the trains from which passengers are travelling can order meals and disposable bedrolls at the time of booking of tickets.
  • Provision of booking wheelchairs for differently-abled and senior citizens were provisioned.
  • In the infrastructure improvement there was a target to add new track of approximately 1,38,000 km in next 5 years, which will be an overall increase of 10% in the existing tracks
  • Special emphasis was given to remove 3,000 unmanned railway crossings. In addition it was targeted to construct 917 over or under-bridges and to replace few of them that already exist.
  • Electrification of routes is targeted for around 6608 km.
  • A feasibility study and a report was to be submitted for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad route for readiness of bullet trains
  • To scale up the speed on the existing tracks it was planned to introduce 9 semi-high speed corridors with speed up to 200 km/hr. and provision to build carriages for such trains in India. In the next few months the test run is to happen on the Delhi-Mumbai route.
  • A major target of increasing connectivity in the North-East India and Jammu and Kashmir was planned which will improve connectivity not only with the other parts of the country but will also improve business and growth of this region.
  • Another technology implementation was started by introduction of barcode and RFID tracking of parcels and freight carriages
  • Satellite stations around 10 major stations are developed to reduce congestion on the stations
  • Introduction of four railway research centers in four selected universities
  • Plan to raise funds from the market via its two companies Indian Railway Finance Corporation (IRFC) and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL) to improve the railways growth.

The 2016 Indian Railway Initiatives undertaken by Suresh Prabhu –

This year’s railway budget was presented by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu in Parliament on 25-Feb-2016.

  • There are no fare hikes proposed this year. This year’s budget is based on three key strategies – Nav Arjan – New revenues generation, Nav Manak – New norms set, and Nav Sanrachna – New Structures created
  • The vision 2020 is to fulfill desires of common man. To provide reserved accommodation on demand in trains.
  • Goods or freight trains to be run based on time tables. This is done to improve the efficiency and performance. In addition it is targeted to provide better safety using high end technology, total elimination of all unmanned level crossings, improvement in regularity and punctuality of trains, increase in average speed of goods or freight trains, to run semi high speed trains along the golden quadrilateral and ambitious target to make zero direct discharge of human waste.
  • There will be changes in freights tariffs. This will be done to make them more competitive to the cost of transportation by road.
  • There is focus on cleanliness in this budget – 17,000 bio-vacuum toilets would be installed in different identified trains this year.
  • There is a proposal to build additional toilets in 475 stations
  • There is a plan to be implemented from 11-Mar-2016 onwards for requesting cleaning service via SMS under “Clean My Coach” programme.
  • Another new initiative in this budget has been introduction of travel insurance on offerings to passengers
  • Convenience and comfort is another area of focus in this budget. New SMART (Specially Modified Aesthetic Refreshing Travel) coaches will be introduced which are supposed to be bigger and come with automatic doors, entertainment and vending machines. Various FM radio stations are proposed to be called to provide entertainment services in selected stations. In addition to it a railway magazine, Rail Bandhu will be published in all regional languages and can be purchased by reserved passengers.
  • Special focus has been given for facilities for senior citizens, women and differently-abled people. The total number of lower berths reserved for senior citizens is increased by 50%. In addition, under the reserved category, 33% are kept for women travelers.
  • Setting up of two locomotive factories with proposal to increase the current procurement of train sets by 30%.
  • A 24-hour helpline for women travelers is also going to be started. In addition women travelling with infants will get baby food, milk and hot water and diaper changing facilities on trains and stations that are part of this initiative under “Janani Seva” project
  • Differently-abled persons can now register once online to get concessions. Special Braille-enabled coaches are expected to be introduced. Wheelchairs will also be allowed to be booked online upfront. All stations under the redevelopment scheme will be made more disabled-friendly.
  • There is a proposal for starting Antyodaya Express trains which is going to be completely unreserved Superfast Express class trains and will run on highly crowded routes.
  • Few additional unreserved coaches called “Deen Dayalu” will be added to long route trains. These coaches will have the facility of potable water and mobile charging points.
  • The Mahamana Express which runs between Delhi and Varanasi was introduced with upgraded coaches. This train is much appreciated by the masses.
  • Wi-Fi is already provided in 100 stations across Indian and additionally to be implemented in 400 more stations
  • Redevelopment of stations using PPP (Public Private Partnership)
  • Bringing transparency in recruitments online since 2015-16. Now onwards online announcements for all positions will be done. Social media will be used as a tool to bring in greater transparency. All procurement including procurement of works will be moved to the e-platform.
  • Humsafar – fully air-conditioned (for reserved passengers) third AC service with an optional service for meals is going to be started
  • Tejas trains will be starting point of progress for the future of train travel in India. This train will operate at speeds of 130 km/hr. and above. It will offer onboard services such as entertainment, local food, Wi-Fi, etc. through one service provider. This is done for ensuring accountability and improved customer satisfaction.
  • UDAY trains are overnight double-decker train and Utkrisht Double-Decker Air-conditioned Yatri Express on the busiest routes, will have the potential to improve passenger carrying capacity by around 40%.
  • Sale of tickets will be possible now through hand held devices or terminals. e- Ticketing facility to foreign debit/credit cards will be started. In addition bar coded tickets generation, scanners and access control will be started on a pilot basis.
  • In coming years 32 stations and 10 coaching depots are identified for starting of water recycling plants.
  • Ahmedabad to Mumbai high speed train being undertaken with the help of the Government of Japan. SPV for implementing high speed projects will be completed in the month of March-2016.
  • Rail Mitra Sewa which is expanding Sarathi Seva in Konkan Railway will help the old and disabled passengers. This will strengthen the existing services by enabling passengers to book – battery operated cars or porter services, etc. on a paid basis. This will be in addition to the pick-up & drop and wheel chair services.
  • Pilgrimage centres will have improved provision of passenger facilities and beautification at pilgrimage centres including Ajmer, Amritsar, Bihar Sharif, Chengannur, Dwarka, Gaya, Haridwar, Mathura, Nagapattinam, Nanded, Nasik, Pali, Parasnath, Puri, Tirupati, Vailankanni, Varanasi and Vasco to be started.
  • There is plan to tie up with the Ministry of Health and Indian Railways as part of an exchange between Government hospitals & Railways hospitals.

Even with these proposals it was observed that on the day of railway budget the stock market index fell down by 113 points. The stock values of companies in the railway sector also fell down. This looks to be a quick reaction but over the period of time with the implementation of above initiatives it is expected that the current situation will improve and Indian railways will be back on track with a competitive edge, better features and a promising future.

Continue reading “The Indian Railways Revamp under Suresh Prabhu”

Researchers reconstructed the Tanzanian landscape where human ancestors once roamed

Source: Researchers reconstructed the Tanzanian landscape where human ancestors once roamed

Some 1.8 million years ago, early humans had a pretty good life in what’s now known as Tanzania. Researchers have analyzed fossils from Olduvai Gorge to create a detailed picture of the world once inhabited by human ancestors, and it seems the landscape was perfect for our predecessors.

Ancient plant biomarkers reveal a “patchwork landscape” of protective woods and wetlands, both of which were surrounded by open grassland, according to a studypublished in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last month. There was also a freshwater spring at the site.

The researchers used plant evidence together with clusters of animal bone debris and ancient human remains to establish that there was plenty of food and water in the area, while the woods were used as shady protection where humans could eat their meat.

“We were able to map out what the plants were on the landscape with respect to where the humans and their stone tools were found,” Rutgers professor Gail Ashleytold sci-news.com. “That’s never been done before.”

Ashley reconstructed the landscape together with colleagues from Pennsylvania State University, ETH Zürich, and the Complutense University. They found evidence of two hominin species, Paranthropus boisei and Homo habilis. Both had a 30-40 year lifespan, though the Homo habilis had a larger brain and is thought to be a closer relative to modern humans.

Animal bones with cut-marks, found inside what was the wooded area, show that humans used tools to butcher their food within the cover of the trees. But it’s unlikely that the animals were hunted within the woods.

“Based on the high concentration of bones, the hominins probably obtained carcasses elsewhere and ate the meat in the woods for safety,” said Ashley.

Bones of giraffes, elephants, and wildebeests were also found within the area, along with those of more dangerous carnivores, including lions, leopards, and hyenas.

Researchers don’t believe that two ancient human species camped at the site, but that they spent several decades, if not centuries, making use of its natural resources.

‘When cultural heritage is under attack, human rights are under attack’ – UN expert

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53370#.VuWczFt97IU

4 March 2016 – The destruction of cultural heritage is a violation of human rights, a United Nations-appointed expert said today, as the international criminal tribunal began a pre-trial procedure for the first-ever case in which charges were brought against the destruction of cultural and religious sites.

“It is impossible to separate a people’s cultural heritage from the people itself and their rights,” Karima Bennoune, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, said in apress statement. “Clearly, we must now understand that when cultural heritage is under attack, it is also the people and their fundamental human rights that are under attack.”

On 1 March, a pre-trial procedure, known as a confirmation of charges hearing, was opened in The Hague by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for a case related to alleged cultural destruction in Timbuktu, Mali.

While stressing that she does not want to prejudge the ongoing individual case before the ICC, Ms. Bennoune said that the destruction of cultural heritage by States and non-State actors must be urgently addressed by the international community.

“When mausoleums – as well as ancient Islamic manuscripts – were being destroyed by armed groups during their 2012 occupation of Northern Mali, various forms of cultural practice were also under attack, including music and religious practices,” she said.

The UN expert welcomed the decision of the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, for the first time, to charge the destruction of cultural and religious sites, as well as historical monuments, as a stand-alone war crime.

In a report to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday 10 March, the expert will address further the links between destruction of cultural heritage and violations of cultural rights. She will also make key recommendations, including for international cooperation and technical assistance.

She said that cultural heritage professionals on the frontlines of the struggle against destruction must be provided with the conditions necessary to complete their work, and asylum when necessary.

“We must not wait to rally to the cause of at-risk cultural heritage defenders until we are mourning their deaths,” the human rights expert said, while honouring the memory of Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, retired chief of antiquities for Palmyra, killed in 2015.

Moreover, tribute should be paid to ordinary people who step forward to defend cultural heritage, like those in Northern Mali who reportedly hid manuscripts beneath the floorboards of their homes to protect them or those in Libya who tried to peacefully protest destruction of Sufi sites, Ms. Bennoune said.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Independent human rights experts, appointed by the Council, address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.

 

Scientists have discovered that the deepest part of the ocean is unnervingly noisy

Source: Scientists have discovered that the deepest part of the ocean is unnervingly noisy

 

You might expect the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench, some 11km (7 miles) below sea level, to be an eerily quiet place. But scientists used a titanium-encased hydrophone to record sound on the ocean floor, and discovered an incessant hum of both man-made and natural noise.

Earthquakes from far away and close by, sounds of baleen whales, and a typhoon can all be distinctly heard on the recording, Robert Dziak, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research oceanographer, said in a statement. Listen for yourself:

https://soundcloud.com/alfredo-carpineti/cd-ship

“There was also a lot of noise from ship traffic, identifiable by the clear sound pattern the ship propellers make when they pass by,” he added.

https://soundcloud.com/alfredo-carpineti/sound-of-the-mariana-trench-baleen-whale-2015-195220110x5normal

Researchers from NOAA and Oregon State University worked with the US Coast Guard to conduct the experiment, which was designed to establish a baseline level of noise at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Future scientists will be able to repeat the process to establish the extent to which manmade noise is increasing.

In order to make the recording, the scientists had to take into account the massive atmospheric pressure that builds at such depth.

“We had never put a hydrophone deeper than a mile or so below the surface, so putting an instrument down some seven miles into the ocean was daunting,” said Oregon State engineer Haru Matsumoto. “We had to drop the hydrophone mooring down through the water column at no more than about five meters per second. Structures don’t like rapid change and we were afraid we would crack the ceramic housing outside the hydrophone.”

It took more than six hours for the hydrophone to reach the bottom in July 2015 and, after recording sound for 23 days, the researchers had to wait until November for passing ships and typhoons to clear so that they could retrieve the device.

Having successfully recorded sound at this depth, an Oregon State University researcher is planning to return to the Mariana Trench in 2017—this time, with a deep-ocean camera.