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When a British Geologist became "The Father of Indian Prehistory"- Robert Foote

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In the year 1858, a 24-year-old Robert Bruce Foote was brought in as a replacement for Henry Geoghegan, an employee of Geological Survey of India (who died of a sunstroke while surveying Trichy), to dig up gemstones for their treasures. But seldom did he know about the legacy he would leave...


Robert was born on 22 September 1834 in England and worked in geological surveying and delivered geology lectures in College of Engineering Guindy, Madras. It was in Madras he met his mentor and friend, Rev. Peter Percival.

Peter, a social reformer priest, missionary-turned-educator who worked with Arumuka Navalar for the translation of Bible then turned completely to linguistics and literature, initially creating friction with other Wesleyian missionaries. In 1862, Robert married Peter's daughter, Elizabeth Anne. 

In 1863, the year after his archaeological survey began, Robert struck a goldmine (figuratively) - he discovered the "first conclusive Paleoloithic stone tool in India", a …

ACHOO! is When You Sneeze at the Sun - Photic Sneeze Reflex

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If you look at the sun (hypothetically; do not do it and suffer), you are sure to look away sooner (unless you are either my man Karna, who was the Sun's son so he can stare or my other man Galileo, who was determined to look at it for, you know, Science!) to avoid discomfort (yeah the necessary comfort not like your optional 'comfort zone' comfort). 
But did you know that a third of the population sneezes at the Sun upon staring ? This is called Photic Sneeze Reflex.
SOLAR SNEEZING, SON...It is also called as Photosneezia, Autosomal Compelling Helio-Opthalmic Outburst (ACHOO : Now that's some god-tier naming : approved, sealed and delivered) and colloquially sun sneezing.
This condition is reported to affect 18 to 35 percent of the world population and its exact mechanism is unknown ( there you go, open topic for probing research ).
HISTORICALLY HAH-CHOO! Aristotle has mused about sneezing and sun being correlated in his The Book of Problems (but hey! That man literally wr…

April Fools' Fooling Around

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April fools' day is one of the weirdest, vaguest and controversial celebration(?) days that is, by some, so ceremoniously celebrated. What does it even offer? Let us dig deep...


HOW IT ALL STARTED...There are many popular, unverified and disputed claims. Some are: EARLIEST ENGLISH A disputed association between April 1 and foolishness is in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (1392). In the "Nun's Priest's Tale", a cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox on Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Readers apparently understood this line to mean "32 March", i.e. April 1. 


However, it is not clear that Chaucer was referencing April 1, since the text of the "Nun's Priest's Tale" also states that the story takes place on the day when the sun is in the signe of Taurus had y-runne Twenty degrees and one, which cannot be April 1.

 Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote,

Magnets, Magnesium and Manganese

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Have you ever wondered why are magnesium and manganese similarly named? And do they have anything to do with magnets? I have. And I went seeking for the answer and reached - Greece.


GLORY TO GREECE!
Once upon a time, two black minerals were discovered in Magnesia, Thessaly, Greece. This place is the home to a beloved Hellenic hero, Jason (the golden fleece & argonauts).



Now the problem was, both were called magnes from their place of origin, but were considered to differ in gender. 

MAGNETIC MAN...The masculine magnes attracted iron, and was the iron ore now known as lodestone or magnetite, and thus gave us the term magnet i.e. The word magnet was adopted in Middle English from Latinmagnetum "lodestone", ultimately from GreekmagnÄ“tis [lithos] meaning "[stone] from Magnesia".




METALLIC WOMAN
The feminine magnes ore did not attract iron. But was used to decolourize glass. 

This feminine magnes was later called magnesia, known now in modern times as pyrolusite.


GLASSMAKERS…

Accidental Successes #2 : Sir Bounce-A-Lot

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We have seen a case when X attempts to create A but ends up with B and Y sees a good fortune can be made out of this and promotes it. 

That is, in Accidental Succeses #1

Let us see one more such case (this has disputes of its invention but let us see someone who did indeed invent independently and is recognized by the product's marketers)...


THE WRIGHT WHO DID NOT FLYJames Wright was a Scottish-born who worked as a researcher and chemical engineer in a now-127-year-old company formed by the Wizard of Menlo park, Thomas Alva Edison, the General Electric.

MILITARY FUNDING, HONEY.During the time of World War II, the United States could not obtain natural rubber from their Asian suppliers. Cheap rubber substitute was a necessity for their military vehicles. The General Electric company was then under a contract to produce synthetic inexpensive rubber substitute for the military. 

Wright was working with silicone oil, in an attempt to create a silicon-based (instead carbon based natural) ru…

Rock of Ages : Ancient Wonders Set In Stone

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The land of Tamils is never short of wonders (even if sans recognition). One such narrow yet amazing set of nonpareils comprises of - Rocks. Yes, just rocks. 

Ancient Tamils have been ingeniously carving rocks to create spectacular sculptures and towering  temples for a very long time. Here, we will see some of the more primal wonders - more concerned with rocky structures than sculptures. 
But in the first place, how did they even manage to cut out rocks from hillocks and boulders?
SPLIT THE STONE
One way is by utilizing water. Water, when it enters any crack or crevice and freezes, it expands and continuous freeze-thaw cycles lead to rock being cleaved. 


But if you have ever lived in Tamilnadu, you would know that freezing temperatures and leprechauns are equiprobable. So, they had to innovate. And boy, they were so good at it...


What you see in the image are holes carved out in a starkly straight line. Now, wooden wedges were fitted in them and it was followed by pouring hot water on the…