How cow dung is very beneficial?

Cow dung has several uses - as fuel, mosquito repellent, thermal insulator, and even as a component in mud brick housing. But, its most common and popular use is perhaps as manure. As a natural agricultural fertilizer, such manure eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, keeping the soil healthy. You may also have heard of vermicomposting where the likes of earthworms consume organic waste and excrete what we can use as manure. But these aren't the only creatures whose poop have their uses. Come, let's find out more about this.

Whale poop

Whales are at the top of the food pyramid, meaning these large creatures play a huge role in keeping their marine ecosystem going. In fact, so huge that even their poop is important. Whales feed on deep sea creatures and move to the surface to breathe and And this poop is loaded with nutrients such as phosphorus. What whales do is essentially bring nutrients from the deep sea to the ocean surface. Phytoplankton and algae consume whale poop, and these organisms become food to zooplankton such as krill. Zooplankton, in turn, are food for the likes of fish and birds. And, through the latter, nutrients are carried from water to land.


The poop of birds (particularly seabirds) and bats is called guano. Just like whale poop, guano too is rich in nutrients - such as nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. Around the mid-19th Century, it was discovered that "nitrogen added to soil would drastically improve crop yields - particularly in the form of guano". Gradually over the years, its popularity spread the world over. This organic fertilizer can be used for raising vegetables, nut- and fruit-bearing trees, and even for ornamental plants and lawns.


Frass is the poop of insect larvae. Frass deposits on soil are said to have a great impact on soil fertility due to their high nutrient and labile carbon (which breaks down easily and is nutritious) content. Frass also contains "small concentrations of micronutrients", which may further be beneficial for crops. Since the world is contemplating ways to increase protein-rich insect consumption among humans, reports suggest that interest in increasing insect population is high. Which could also mean increase in frass availability.

Did you know?

Since there are "huge declines in whale, seabird and fish populations", the movement of nutrients from water and land "has slowed". Researchers "reckon that only a quarter as much phosphorus makes it to surface waters today compared with the past. And the flow of phosphorus to land has nearly stopped- at just 4 percent of historic levels". But this scenario is still reversible if we focus on restoring species, learn to share the planet with them- rather than locking them up in zoos or even confining them to protected areas and let them roam the world.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Dangle’?

Meaning: The word dangle refers to hanging or swinging loosely. It is also used to indicate offering an enticing incentive to someone.

Origin: The word has been around since the 1590s. It is probably of Scandinavian origin and can be compared to Danish dangle, Swedish dangla, Norwegian dangla. The sense of "carry suspended so as to swing or sway" is from the 1610s.

After nearly 200 years in which the word was in average use, it has enjoyed more popularity in the 21st Century, leading to greater usage of the word.

Usage: The teacher dangled some offers and got the students to work harder on her subject.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Embellish’?

Meaning: This transitive verb refers to decorating something or beautifying an object with interesting additions.

Origin: Both embellish and the French word 'bel’(meaning beautiful) originate from the same Latin root bellus. The first known use of this word can be traced back to the 14th Century.

Usage: Grandma likes to embellish her knitting by hiding secret messages in the pattern.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Ersatz’?

Meaning: An adjective, ersatz means an artificial and inferior substitute or imitation.

Origin: The word has its roots in the German word ersatz meaning a substitute or replacement. Its first known use was in 1871.

Usage: No one, not even the queen could tell the difference between the priceless stones and the ersatz jewels affixed on the crown.

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What is the point of view of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell?

As her birth anniversary approaches, let us delve into the life of the remarkable. Anna Sewell, a British wordsmith whose singular publication Black Beauty is considered to be one of the foremost works in animal welfare literature. Her magnum opus, which is a leading work in children's pony book genre, trotted onto bookshelves just five months prior to her demise in 1877 and has since been the most celebrated animal story that revolutionised the way we treat and interact with animals.

Anna Sewell was born on March 30, 1820, in Yarmouth, England. Her mother, Mary Wright Sewell, was also a writer who specialised in children's stories while her father, Isaac Sewell, worked as a shopkeeper and bank clerk, but struggled to maintain a steady income. The family's financial struggles cast a shadow over Anna's childhood, which was marked by hardship and turmoil.

 Tragically, when Anna was just 14 years old, she suffered a serious injury that would have a lasting impact on her life. While walking back from school, she broke her ankle, and the injury was not properly treated, leaving her severely disabled and in poor health for the remainder of her life.

Love for horses

Being reliant on horse-drawn carriages for any excursion beyond her home, she developed an affinity for horses that eventually grew into a deep love for them. As she spent more time around these magnificent creatures, she became increasingly troubled by the widespread mistreatment and neglect they endured at the hands of their owners. Sewell spent her final years as an invalid under the constant care of her mother. Her health had deteriorated to such an extent that she was confined to her bed, with very little mobility. However, it was during this period of confinement that she resolved to write a book that would shed light on the harsh and inhumane treatment of horses that was prevalent during the 19th Century. Her only novel, Black Beauty, was finally published when she was 57 years old, in 1877.

Sadly, Anna Sewell passed away a mere five months after the publication of her book. While the cause of her death remains uncertain, it is widely believed that she succumbed to either hepatitis or phthisis. However, in the few months that she lived after the publication of Black Beauty, she was able to witness the overwhelmingly positive response to her work. Last September, Sewell's home in Yarmouth, Norfolk, was turned into a museum open to the public.

Black Beauty

Animal tales have always captivated our imagination, with their anthropomorphic (having human characteristics) characters and magical worlds. However, it was the publication of Black Beauty in 1877 that brought about a new era of realistic animal storytelling. This novel takes us on a journey through the eyes of a horse living in 19th Century England, narrated in the first-person perspective. Despite the wide range of emotions and thoughts expressed by the horse, the story remains grounded in the animal's true nature, which is both commendable and visionary for its time.

For centuries, horses have been an essential part of society, aiding in various sectors such as agriculture, transportation, construction, and even warfare. Although steam power reduced their workload, horses still played a significant role in English society. Black Beauty revealed the cruelty inflicted upon these animals due to the vanity of the high society and the financial hardships of the working class.

Often considered a children's classic, this book was originally crafted to serve as an autobiography of a horse. Through this story, Sewell intended to raise awareness and promote kindness, sympathy, and humane treatment towards horses. The novel's vivid imagery and simple, lyrical prose facilitates the same. Black Beauty not only broke new ground in animal rights storytelling but also paved the way for more tales featuring horses. However, these works may not have been narrated from the horse's point of view.

Pony book genre

Black Beauty's success led to the rise of the Pony book genre, which gained immense popularity in the last century. These books revolve around the lives of kids and teens who share a love for horses. Such stories are an ode to the incredible bond between humans and horses, which often inspire young readers to develop a passion for equine culture. Today, the role of horses in our lives may have reduced, but the message of Black Beauty and similar works continue to inspire us to treat all living creatures with love, kindness, and respect.

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How theatre education can help a child?

Theatre is one of the oldest forms of entertainment in the world. It had its beginnings in ancient Greece when the followers of the Greek god Dionysus started indulging in festivities to honour the god. It started off as a medium for the recollection of old myths. And over time, it has turned into a performing art that sees a lot of experimentation. Learning theatre can help a child in more ways than one. As we celebrate World Theatre Day on March 27, let us take a look at how theatre education can help a child.

It all started in the 6th Century. That was the time the Greek theatre had its genesis. Its origins can be traced to the followers of the Greek god Dionysus. The devotees or Dionysians would hold ceremonies for the god which would be filled with festivities. In these ceremonies, they would sing and dance in a choral form and narrate the stories from Greek myth. The art of theatre was just evolving.

Ancient Greek port Thespis was born in the city of Icarius. Regarded as the first actor in Greek drama, he was also the inventor of tragedy and the first to stage a tragedy at Dionysia. He gave a fresh spin to drama during a chorus when he stepped out and started reciting and performing portions of the text. Thus, he became the first actor. Now you know why actors are called thespians. It is in honour of the Greek performer Thespis. Soon a structured form of drama developed.

Performing arts

It is a widely accepted fact that kids who are involved in performing arts have an edge over others in several aspects. Be it music, dance, or acting, the performing arts not only make a child acquire enhanced cognitive, motor, and social skills but empower them to tackle most of the challenges that they may encounter later in life. It is also observed that they also achieve more academically. Getting onto that stage can help you in more ways than one. Let's read up on how involving oneself in theatre is beneficial.

A multidimensional art

Theatre is one art that encompasses a range of art forms, such as dance, music, literature, fine arts and so on. The creative, intellectual, and emotional aspects of a child get developed when they indulge in theatre. Theatre also builds a new community for the kids. It is more like an extended community where participants get to meet people of varied perspectives as well as from diverse backgrounds. This helps them make a wide circle of friends.

Quick thinkers

If you are in a play, then you learn to think on your feet. If you were to forget your lines, then you learn to improvise on the go. Moreover, the trick is to ensure that the audience does not know what went wrong. A number of challenges could arise that may disrupt the flow of a play. So you learn to keep your calm in the face of chaos. This makes one a quick thinker and enhances problem-solving skills.

Theatre is a blend of music, dance, acting, and delivering of lines of speech or monologue. Being part of a play lets one experience all forms of art as well as become more expressive. It helps them communicate better and introduces them to a whole new Vocabulary and ways of communicating. Skills such as articulation, vocal projection, and emotional expressions improve with theatre. Thus a child learns to communicate better and in unique ways.

Exposure to history, art, culture

 Theatre offers an introduction to kids to art history, and new cultures. It gives them good exposure and helps them appreciate varied cultures and people of all kinds.


Confidence is a life skill. When a child learns to articulate better on stage, face a crowd, and perform, it boosts their confidence. Theatre teaches a child to be assertive, speak up, be confident, and be comfortable in n crowd. Moreover, theatre gives instant positive feedback. When the crowd cheers you on laughs at your joke, or cries with you, it can be very rewarding.

Responsibility and teamwork

A group performance, theatre would need exceptional teamwork to succeed. The kids learn the need to work together as a team to put out a great show. They also understand personal responsibility, the need to know their lines and deliver them perfectly. They learn to be responsible not just for their own act but also for the team as they move towards a common goal.

In theatre, there is space for everyone. However different you may be from the norm or your peers, theatre accepts you for who you are You may be an eccentric or a recluse, but wherever you belong in the spectrum, you will always be accepted.

Emotional intelligence

As one grows up and strides through life, one understands that it is not just the intelligence quotient that matters, but emotional quotient too. Theatre is akin to empathy training. It helps you grow and transmute into any person you want to be when you play a character. Thus you also learn to walk in other person's shoes and experience life from their perspective. Further, a child with a theatre background grows into a person who is more inclusive, tolerant, and empathetic

In a nutshell, theatre gives you the platform to express yourself in the most colourful of ways. Are you ready for the first act?

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Ambit’?

Meaning: A noun, ambit means scope, extent, bounds or limits of something.

Origin: The term ambit was borrowed from Latin noun ambitus meaning "circuit, circumference", from past participle ambire meaning "to go round”, a combination of amb "around" and -ire meaning "go". Ambitus is a noun associated with circular motion. Ambit has been in use in English since the latter part of the 15th Century.

Usage: The police said that his case doesn't fall within the ambit of their jurisdiction.

A complete discussion on Chola history was outside the ambit of one class period. So the teacher said she would try to cover it in a week's time.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Detritus’?

Meaning: This noun refers to the waste material or rubbish, especially left after a particular event.

Origin: Now obsolete, geologically, the word referred to "process of erosion”, originating from the Latin word detritus, meaning "a wearing away" from de (“away”) + terere ("to rub, wear"). The use of the word in a figurative or transferred sense of “waste material, debris” is by 1834.

Usage: The stadium was littered with the detritus of yesterday's rock concert.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Hiatus’?

Meaning: In general contexts, hiatus usually refers to a period of time when something, such as an activity or program, is suspended.

Origin: While the word now most often refers to a temporary pause, hiatus originally referred to a physical opening in something such as the mouth of a cave. This word comes from the verb hiare which is Latin for to open wide.

Usage: The band has been on hiatus for three years.

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What is the meaning, origin and usage of word ‘Bamboozle’?

Meaning: The word bamboozle denotes tricking or deceiving someone, often by confusing them.

Origin: The word, which has been around since 1703, is originally a slang word of unknown origin. Some suggest that it is perhaps of Scottish origin from bombaze, bumbaze "confound, perplex”, while others believe that it might be related to French embabouiner to make a fool.”

 Following steady usage for over a hundred years, the word has become more popular and found more usage in this century.

Usage: She bamboozled the opposition batters with her turn and bounce to help her side win the cricket match.

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What is Erich Maria Remarque's purpose for writing ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’?

Erich Maria Remarque's ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ stands tall as a paramount piece of anti-war literature, capturing the harrowing tale of a generation vanquished by World War 1. The first-ever non English adaptation of this literary masterpiece is honoured with nine Academy Award nominations this year. Let us revisit this classic and see what makes it relevant today.

About the author

Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabruck, Germany, in 1898 into a lower-middle-class family. As a young man of 18, he was pursuing higher education at the University of Munster when fate intervened and drafted him (along with a number of his classmates) into the German army. Amidst the turmoil of war, he discovered his passion for storytelling and began writing fiction.

After six months of military training, his unit was sent to the Western Front. The horrors of World War (1914-1918) cast a long shadow on Remarque's writing, shaping him into the author he would become. He found himself thrust into the trenches of Flanders. Belgium and experienced the brutal reality of trench warfare firsthand. In 1917, he was injured by the fierce barrage of British artillery, and a year later was sent back to the front lines, post-recovery. It was during his recovery that Remarque thought of writing a novel about the war. He gathered material for his book from personal stories sent by his friends from the battlefield and also interviewed wounded soldiers, to come up with authentic scenes for his story. Shortly thereafter a revolution led to the overthrow of Germany's imperial government and the establishment of a republic. On November 11, 1918, the newly- formed government signed a formal agreement with the Allies, effectively bringing an end to the fighting. These wartime events, coupled with the loss of some of his comrades, left a profound impact on Remarque, inspiring him to pen his most influential novel, ‘Im Westen Nichts Neues’. Published in Germany in 1929, Remarque's literary masterpiece sold over 1.2 million copies within a year, solidifying his place as one of Germany's most celebrated writers. The English translation of this novel, ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ was published in the same year and garnered similar success. It went on to be translated into more than 20 languages and was made into a celebrated Hollywood film in 1930.

What makes it a classic?

The horrors of war

The novel describes the physical and emotional toll that war tikes on soldiers, and highlights the senseless violence and destruction that war creates. It is the author’s attempt to highlight and document how despite dodging death in the trenches and making it back home, a soldier’s soul is irreversibly crushed by what he witnessed at the war front.

Today, as conflicts (like the Russian invasion of Ukraine) continue to occur around the world the novel serves as a reminder of the human cost of war and the need for peaceful solutions to conflicts.

Dehumanisation of soldiers

The soldiers in the novel are forced to abandon their individuality and become part of a machine-like military system. This is still relevant today, as soldiers continue to face the challenge of maintaining their own identity in the face of military discipline. One of the most striking aspects of the novel is the way it depicts the soldiers as being treated as expendable objects, rather than human beings with lives, families, and aspirations.

They are constantly reminded of their duty to the state and the importance of sacrifice. The book describes how the trauma and the unspeakable acts of violence soldiers witness on the battlefield transform them into brute tools of war, devoid of humanity.


The novel also explores the theme of disillusionment. As the war drags on, Paul and his comrades become increasingly disillusioned with the ideals of patriotism and duty that drove them to enlist in the first place. They realise that they have been fed lies and propaganda to justify a war that has only brought them suffering and death. The novel also portrays the difficulty of these soldiers in returning to civilian life after the war, as Paul struggles to reconnect with a society that does not understand or appreciate the sacrifices he and his fellow soldiers made.

In this way, this German classic highlights the devastating effects of war on both the individual and society as a whole and serves as a powerful critique of the glorification of war and how it is justified as nationalism.

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How to tackle childhood obesity?

'Cute, 'chubby' and 'healthy' are some of the euphemisms we use to refer to children and adolescents who are on the heavier side. This practice should be stopped because the statistics paint a scary picture. According to UNICEF'S World Obesity Atlas for 2022, India is predicted to have more than 27 million obese children, representing one in 10 children globally, by 2030.

What is childhood obesity?

"Childhood obesity means when the child is too overweight for his/her age and height. Being overweight is problematic as this leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and many other complex health conditions," points out Annavi Khot, a Pune-based nutritionist and personal fitness trainer. The easiest way to stay healthy is by 'moving'. Khot observes that in the last two years, the number of mothers approaching her, seeking help for their kids, has gone up. "During the lockdown, most children did nothing but eat unhealthy food and watch a lot of online shows and films. There have also been cases where playing a sport is not encouraged! This is a sad state of affairs, but kids imitate their parents and their lifestyle. It is the parent's responsibility to practise a healthy lifestyle," she says.

Children should engage in a sport that they enjoy so that they make it a part of their lifestyle. It is very important for kids to move; they should have great stamina, mobility and strength, not only for performance but also for their mental health.

Eating food minus nutrients

Junk food, packaged food, etc. appeal to the taste buds, but lack the nutrients necessary for a growing child. Medical practitioners say they are dealing with teenaged patients who are both 'under-nutritioned' and over-nutritioned. Over-nutrition results in the child becoming overweight or obese.

Healthier, tastier options

"Mothers, kids will eat healthy food if it tastes well! Please learn some healthy recipes -there are tonnes of books and videos available. Don't think that healthy food is boring!" says Khot. "You should have your nutrition comprising all the necessary vitamins and minerals, good fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Fruits and vegetables are a must every single day!"

Try experimenting with food. Instead of regular pasta, you can have ragi (finger millet) pasta with lots of veggies. You can switch to pizzas, burgers and frankies made from multigrain bread Restrict your intake of junk food to once a week.

 Talking about packaged food, Khot warns. "Watch out for different names of sugar used in the packaging. Eat home-cooked meats and healthy snacks in place of processed foods.”

 A nutritionist should be consulted before putting any diet plan into practice.

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First map of an insect brain completed

The brain is not only the most complex organ of the body but also one of the most complex things we have yet discovered in the universe. Understanding the human brain and how we think is one of the greatest challenges confronting us.

As we continue to study this wonderful organ, we are taking baby steps towards our ultimate goal. An international team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Cambridge recently produced the most detailed diagram of the brain of a larval fruit fly, tracing every neural network in it. The results were published in the journal Science early in March and serves as an archetypal scientific model with brains comparable to humans.

Creating connectomes

The idea of mapping a brain began as early as the 1970s when researchers conducted a 14-year study on roundworms. It resulted in a partial map and also a Nobel Prize. Partial connectomes (map of neural connections in the brain) of several systems, including flies mice, and even humans have since been developed, but these reconstructions usually represent only a tiny fraction of the brain. Comprehensive connectomes have been generated for small species such as roundworms and larval sea squirt.

In this research, the team produced the connectome of a baby fruit fly,’ Drosophila melanogaster larva’. With 3,016 neurons and 5,48,000 connections between them, this is the most expansive map of an entire insect brain ever completed.

Laborious process

Mapping brains is not only difficult, but also extremely time-consuming, despite the latest technology at the disposal of these researchers. To build a complete cellular-level map of the brain, the brain first needs to be sliced into thousands of tissue samples, which are imaged with electron microscopes, before- reconstructing the pieces, neuron by neuron, to create the portrait of the brain.

While the imaging alone took the team nearly a day per neuron (meaning around 3,000 days were spent on the task), the overall work took the University of Cambridge and Johns Hopkins 12 years. The team chose fruit fly larva as the species, for an insect shares a lot of its fundamental biology with humans.

The methods developed by this team for the mapping are applicable to any brain connection project. They are going to make the code used available to whoever attempts to map an even larger animal brain.

Despite the challenges involved, scientists are expected to take on the brain of the mouse, maybe even in the next decade. But as British zoologist and author of ‘The Idea of the Brain’ sums up in his book, knowing where things happen doesn't necessarily translate to knowing how it happens, and our understanding of how still has a long way to go.

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What are the oldest surviving photographs of moon?

In March 1840, English-born American John William Draper clicked what are now the oldest surviving photographs of the moon. Using the daguerreotype process that had just been invented, Draper clicked the photograph that showed lunar features.

The smartphones in our hands these days are so powerful and equipped with great cameras that all we need to do to click a photograph of the moon is to wait for the moon to make its appearance and then take a photograph. It wasn't always this easy though. In fact, the oldest surviving photographs of the moon are less than 200 years old. The credit for taking those photographs goes to English-born American scientist, philosopher, physician, chemist, historian and photographer John William Draper.

 Born in England in 1811, Draper went to the U.S. in 1832. After receiving a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, he moved to New York University in 1837 and was one of the founders of NYU’s School of Medicine in 1840. He not only taught there for most of his life, but also served as the president of the med school for 23 years.

Learns Daguerre's process

 His interest in medicine, however, didn't keep him away from dabbling with chemistry too. The chemistry of light-sensitive materials fascinated Draper and he learned about the daguerreotype process of photography after the news arrived in the U.S. from Europe. French artist and photographer Louis Daguerre had invented the process only in 1839.

Draper attempted to improve the photographic process of Daguerre and succeeded in ways to increase plate sensitivity and reduce exposure times. These advances not only allowed him to produce some of the best portrait photographs of the time, but also let him peer into the skies to try and capture the moon.

He met with failure in his first attempts over the winter of 1839-40. He tried to make daguerreotypes of the moon from his rooftop observatory at NYU, but like Daguerre before him, was unsuccessful. The images produced were either underexposed, or were mere blobs of light in a murky background at best.

Birth of astrophotography

 By springtime in March 1840, however, Draper was successful, thereby becoming the first person ever to produce photographs of an astronomical object. He was confident enough to announce the birth of astrophotography to the New York Lyceum of Natural History, which later became the Academy of Sciences. On March 23, 1840, he informed them that he had created a focussed image of the moon.

The exact date when he first achieved it isn't very clear. While the photograph on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (which cannot be shown here due to rights restrictions) is believed to have been clicked on March 16 based on his laboratory notebook, the one pictured here was by most accounts on the night of March 26, three days after he had announced his success. The fact that many of Draper's original daguerreotypes were lost in an 1865 fire at NYU, and that daguerreotype photographs themselves don't have a long shelf life unless well-preserved from the moment they were taken means that the ones remaining become all the more significant.

The moon pictured here shows an extensively degraded plate with a vertically flipped last quarter moon, meaning the lunar south is near the top. This shows that Draper used a device called the heliostat to keep light from the moon focussed for a 20-minute-long exposure on the plate. They are of the same we and same circular image area as that of his first failed attempts.

Conflict thesis

Apart from being a physician and the first astrophotographer, Draper also has other claims to fame. He was the invited opening speaker in the famous 1860 meeting at Chford University where English naturalist Charles Darwin's ‘Origin of Species’ was the subject of discussion. He is also well known for his book ‘A History of the Conflict between Religion and Science’ which was published in 1874. This book marks the origin of what is known as the "conflict thesis” about the incompatibility of science and religion.

While we will probably never know on which particular March 1840 night Draper captured the first lunar image, his pioneering achievement set the ball rolling for astronomical photography. The fact that he achieved it with a handmade telescope attached to a wooden box with a plate coated with chemicals on the back makes it all the more remarkable.

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What is the significance of celebrating water Day on 22nd March every year?

While World Water Day (March 22) is a celebration of an invaluable resource, it is also a stark reminder of the need to conserve it and ensure everyone has access to it.

Water, water everywhere, but...

Given the number of waterbodies on Earth and their vastness, water shouldn't be a concern for us, right? Well, despite covering more than two-thirds of our planet, most of these waterbodies about 97 %-are oceans, meaning it's all saltwater, which we cannot use. Not all of the remaining 3% of freshwater is available to us either because much of it is trapped in glaciers, icebergs, etc. Which is why we have very little freshwater globally from rain and rivers. While climate change-induced global warming is the cause of a lot of our water problems today, poor global water management too is a reason that many people do not have access to clean water. And it is this aspect that this year’s World Water Day seeks to draw our attention to water and sanitation crisis.

What is water and sanitation crisis?

Most of us have access to clean water-all we have to do is just open a tap (at home at school, and at most places we may travel to). But this is not a common scenario for everyone in the world. In some countries, and even in many places in our own country, people do not have access to clean water. According to the UN, 1 person out of 10 does not have access to safe water, and 1 out of 4 lacks access to a toilet. Especially in rural areas and dry regions, people-invariably women and girls - walk afar (often trudging for hours) to fetch pots of water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. This very act can steal several hours a day from them, denying women time for themselves or time that can be used for income-generating work to empower themselves. Children could end up not having time to go to school, costing them their education, and may not have time for playing either. In fact, travelling to remote places to fetch water can put women and children in unsafe places, endangering them. And, when water becomes a luxury, priority is likely to be accorded to drinking, cooking, etc., leaving very little to be used for bathing, washing, etc. When residential houses do not have toilets, people may resort to open defecation, which could lead to health concerns Also, if schools do not have toilets, girls may choose to skip school, particularly during menstruation. Further, if the water available is not safe or clean enough for use, it could lead to disease, if the only earning member of a less privileged family loses their livelihood or life to a disease, it could trigger the collapse of that entire family.

The focus this year

The focus of 2023's World Water Day is on "accelerating change to solve the water and sanitation crisis". This is also closely linked to U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal No. 6-"Clean Water and Sanitation”. To take this message across to everyone globally, the UN has launched "Be The Change", a campaign that "encourages people to take action in their own lives to change the way they use, consume and manage water”. It helps us see how small actions matter (see box below). While it is important for governments the world over to initiate steps at international and national levels to conserve water, each of us, irrespective of our age or gender, has it in us to make a difference When we are judicious with the use of our resources, including water, everyone may have access to that resource, quietly ensuring equity in our world.

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