Which church was built by British in Mumbai?

One of Mumbai’s oldest and most iconic church has made headline by announcing plans to become a recycle hub. Let us find out more about it.

St. Michael Church commonly known as Mahim Church - is one of Mumbai's oldest and most iconic places of worship. Built in 1534, when the city was under the control of the Portuguese, the church now serves about 10,000 people in the Mahim area.

St. Michael's is more than a sacred place for Catholics. Its special prayer services every Wednesday, called 'novenas,' draw people of various faiths who come to seek favours from the divine (e.g. cure for a sick relative, a good job, etc.) Many of the novena devotees bring floral garlands, candles, or other offerings. The candle wax and flowers are recycled.

The church, in fact, has become a recycling hub for a wide variety of wastes: plastic, tetra pak containers, electronics and other items. The Green Cell of the church, in partnership with other local organizations, helps with the recycling. In 2021, St. Michael Church made headlines by announcing plans to become the first place of worship to achieve carbon neutrality in two years. Of considerable importance is the 2 cubic-meter biogas unit set up on the terrace of the church building that is run on flower waste. This is the only biogas unit run on flower waste in the city. Mumbai produces an estimated 200 tons of this waste, most of which winds up in landfills. The church's weekly feed of 35-50 kg of flowers into the biogas unit is tiny compared to the waste in the city, but it has shown the path for adding value to waste recycling.

Fertiliser production

The biogas that the unit produces is equivalent to three LPG cylinders per year (worth Rs 4.500). However, the real value to the church is not the gas, but the liquid slurry that oozes out of the biogas unit. The slurry arry is used to fertilise over a hundred plants in the church compound.

"We receive a lot of flowers as offerings. Especially on Wednesdays, when around 50,000 people come for novena prayers. Earlier, the flowers used to go to the trash cans and get added to the waste piles in landfills," says a church spokesman. "We thought of doing something in which the flower wastes could be used to help the environment and so we decided to install a biogas plant," he adds.

Good example

The Mahim Church's good example could be followed by other places of worship. Collectively, they can provide an excellent platform for effecting a change in thinking and followed up by action among the millions of devotees. For example, the Sri Venkateswara Swamy temple in Tirupati Andhra Pradesh generates about seven tones of floral waste, 30-50 tones of food waste, and three tonnes of animal waste from the goshala, daily. It has been estimated that if all of these organic wastes are converted into compressed biogas, this could power some 100 local buses that carry devotees from Tirupati to Tirumala, where the temple is located, a distance of 18 kilometers. The temple authorities have begun to turn cow dung and food wastes into biogas and compost as a first step. In future, they might be able to turn biogas into compressed gas for motor vehicles.

ITC Limited, one of India's corporate giants headquartered in Kolkata, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tamil Nadu government to provide technical assistance to temples in waste management. As part of its 'Green Temple Initiative', ITC is helping 182 temples in the state to turn their flower waste into organic manure. Additionally, around 400 kg of cow dung from goshalas are turned into biogas to fuel the kitchens that prepare prasadam. This also helps the temples remain clean. A management team from ITC visited the Mahim Church to study its waste management system.

Hopefully, other corporate houses will start similar initiatives, as part of their corporate social responsibility, to assist other places of worship in addressing the challenge of managing the growing waste in the country.

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How dubbing changed the world of cinema?

Many of us watch foreign and other language movies or series in our own regional language and get the same feel as the original. These movies involve an intricate process called dubbing. Let us find out.

Dubbing is a post-production process of adding sound and dialogues into a media. It also involves replacing the original voice track with a synchronised translation in another language. Unlike voiceovers, dubbing is much more nuanced and complex. It is mostly done for movies and TV series, while it is also needed for animation movies, video games and music at times.

Dubbing helps in reaching a wider audience. It is categorised into three types namely lipsynced dubbing, time-synced dubbing and non-synced dubbing.

Origin of dubbing

With the invention of photograph (a device used to record sound), cinema began transitioning from the silent era to sound. Warner Bros. of Hollywood were pioneers who made new sound movies, called Vitaphone movies. These movies had a recording of an orchestra along with some sound effects that were synchronised perfectly with the moving images. Slowly 'talkies' were made, where movies incorporated dialogues as actors started talking to one another.

In 1930, a musical talkie by name 'Applause' was made by Rouben Mamoulian that first used dubbing. The director experimented the sound mixing by interlocking 35 mm audio tracks and began the dubbing practice. Eventually, more and more films started to record actors' dialogue after shooting scenes, then synchronising the sound to the scene. When actor Louise Brooks refused to reshoot their silent scenes in the movie The Canary Murder Case', the hiring of voice actors began.

Subs Vs Dubs

The debate on subtitles versus dubbing is still on. While there are people who don't like subtitles due to their pace and complexity, dubbing is preferred as it adds more emotion. But the catch is that, the results of dubbing has to be natural and organic. If the audio is poorly mixed or if any actors’ accent is incomprehensible, subtitles come in handy. They can also be used by those with hearing difficulties.

 Varied perspectives

Though dubbing allows for a deeper understanding and connection to the storyline, it is a time consuming and critical process for filmmakers. Some filmmakers have moved to sync sound which involves reconting the is sound while on the set to make the film more realistic This helped in reducing the post production cost and efforts. But filmmakers continued to rely on dubbing as it enhances the audio quality.

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What is Creative Destruction?


The eighties and nineties were the era of VHS tapes. Invented by the Japanese company JVC, Video Home System (VHS) - or the 'deck' as it was locally known - was an instant hit around the world. Even in small towns of India, video shops that rented VHS players and cassettes were a lucrative business.

The era, however, did not last long. Along came the Compact Discs. Music, movies, data files - the flashy CDs could store anything. They could be played on TVs (hooked with CD players) and computers. Today, whatever CDs are left behind are used as reflectors on bicycles or for art-from-waste projects.

Streaming and cloud storage have made the CD obsolete, just like its predecessor. Tomorrow, the streaming system could be replaced with something else. This process of evolution of technology - from VHS tapes to streaming platforms or landline phones to smartphones - is called Creative Destruction.

The technological advancements defined above are recent, but the concept of creative destruction has been defined and debated by economists, sociologists, and political thinkers since the 19th century. The industrial revolution and colonialism were the two defining historical events that shaped its definition.

Foundational theories

 Creative Destruction is a critical component of the capitalist system of economics and politics.Yet, a first clear definition for the  process was given by the father of communism –an opposing economic and political throught Karl Marsx. Though he did not use the term Creative Destruction, he defined the concept as a ‘’contant upheaval and change within the capitalist system.’’

In his exhaustive work tirled, ‘capital; Acriyique of Political Economy; published as three volumes in 1867, 1885, and 1894. Marx writes: "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society."

This encapsulates the process of technological innovations that we see today. Take for instance the case of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It is the new "instrument of production that is replacing older technologies and even humans in some cases. As a result, the "relations of production also changes, with new skills becoming essential for upward mobility in the job market. The "relations of society" has also changed as engineers with Al skills now draw higher pay packages compared to engineers in other sectors.

Much later, in the 20th Century, German economist Joseph Schumpeter popularized the term Creative Destruction, which was coined by another.

German economist Werner Sombart. In his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democraay, published in 1942. Schumpeter extrapolates the Marxist thought to describe the destructive process of a transformation caused by innovation for instance, the slow death of landline phones.

Schumpeter says Capitalism is a method of economic change which can never be stationary. The fundamental impulse that keeps the system running is new consumer goods, new methods of producing or transporting them, new markets to sell them, and new forms of organisations that the system creates. This is a fairly accurate description of how businesses work in our world today.

Modem examples

Schumpeters work is pretty accurate in defining the current startup era. He says innovative entry by entrepreneurs is the disruptive force that sustains economic growth, even as it destroys the value of established companies that enjoyed some degree of monopoly. A classic example for this is the case of social media eating into the market control of mainstream medin

However, Schumpeter was pessimistic about the sustainability of this process. Seeing it as leading eventually to the undermining of capitalism's own institutional frameworks. The capitalist process in much the same way in which it destroyed the institutional framework of feudal society abo undermines its own, he said.

Today, most technology majors are focussed on continuous innovations that push boundaries of human imagination. As we grapple to get a grasp over the everevolving trends in technology, its important to leam about the great minds that prophesied this era.

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Which Chief Minister was arrested in India?

The Enforcement Directorate arrested the former Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on January 31 in connection with a land scam case. The arrest came as soon as he resigned as the Chief Minister. Following his arrest, which has been challenged in the court of law, tribal bodies announced protests across the State.

Meanwhile, Champai Soren took over as the new Chief Minister. He also underwent a floor test to prove his party's majority in the House. "At present we have 43 MLAs and four are in hospital. We have the support of 47 MLAs. The Governor is yet to give the time to form the government," Champai Soren told the media ahead of the trust vote last week. To form the government, the ruling alliance needs only 41 MLAs.

The newly formed government passed the confidence motion in the State Assembly. The Jharkhand Mukti CM Champai Soren (left) with Hemant Soren.

Morcha with 29 seats and its ally Congress with 17 were confident of easily sailing through the trust vote. Hemant Soren was also present in the Assembly to attend the floor test. A special court in Ranchi allowed Soren to participate in the trust-vote.

What is a trust vote?

A trust vote, also known as a confidence motion or vote of confidence, is a parliamentary procedure where members of the Legislative Assembly or Parliament vote to express their confidence or lack of confidence in the government. When a government is formed, it needs to prove that it has the support of the majority of the members of the legislative body. If the government loses a trust vote, it typically means that it no longer enjoys the majority support and is expected to resign, leading to either the formation of a new government or fresh elections.

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Who was the first person to float freely in space?

Images from space that show earth as nothing more than a blur of blue tug at our hearts in a way that can’t be put into words. The ones that you see here, while evoking such emotions, are also iconic in their own right. This is because they show the first human ever to walk untethered in space. The subject of these photographs is NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II.

Born in Boston in 1937, McCandless did his schooling at Long Beach, California and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the United States Naval Academy in 1958. He then obtained his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1965, and eventually also ended up with a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Houston in 1987.

Communicator role

A retired U.S. Navy captain, McCandless was one of 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as the mission control communicator for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during their famous 1969 Apollo 11 mission, which included the first human landing on the moon. McCandless, in fact, famously felt let down by Armstrong as the latter hadn’t revealed ahead what he had planned to say while setting foot on the moon.

McCandless flew as the mission specialist on two space shuttles, STS-41B in 1984 and STS-31 in 1990. While the 1984 mission saw him become the first human to perform an untethered spacewalk, he helped deploy the Hubble Space Telescope during the 1990 mission.

Helps develop MMU

Apart from these, McCandless also served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 14 mission and was a backup pilot for the first crewed Skylab mission. For the M-509 astronaut manoeuvring experiment that was flown in the Skylab programme, McCandless was a co-investigator. He collaborated on the development and helped design what came to be known as the MMU – manned manoeuvring unit.

The STS-41B was launched on February 3, 1984. Four days later, on February 7, McCandless stepped out of the space shuttle Challenger into nothingness. As he moved away from the spacecraft, he floated freely without any earthly anchor.

"Heck of a big leap for me"

“It may have been a small step for Neil, but it’s a heck of a big leap for me,” were McCandless’ first words. If the mood at mission control had been apprehensive before, the raucous laughter that followed this comment certainly reduced the tension - a fact that was confirmed by his wife, who was also at mission control. McCandless would later say that his comment was consciously thought out and that it was his way of saying things were going okay, apart from getting back at Armstrong for not revealing his words in 1969.

The images that were shot then, showing McCandless spacewalking without tethers, gained widespread fame. The spacewalk was the first time the MMU that he helped develop was used. These nitrogen-propelled, hand-controlled devices afforded much greater mobility to their users as opposed to restrictive tethers used by previous spacewalkers.

Fellow astronaut Robert L. Stewart later tried out the MMU that McCandless first used. Two days later, both of them tried another similar unit with success. By February 11, the STS-41B mission was complete as the Challenger safely landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.

In one of his last interviews, before his death in December 2017, McCandless told National Geographic what he had probably told countless others who wanted to know how it was out there.

Fun, but cold

While he always maintained that it was fun, he also adds that the single thing that disturbed him as he moved away from the shuttle was that he got extremely cold, with shivers and chattering teeth.

The reason for that is pretty straightforward. While he had prepared for that moment for years, he wasn’t prepared for the temperature in the suit. As the suit was designed to keep astronauts comfortable while working hard in a warm environment, even the H (hot) position on the life support system actually provided minimal cooling. Considering that McCandless wasn’t really performing strenuous labour during the first hours of his untethered spacewalk, he felt cold. That’s a small price to pay for becoming the first-ever human to walk freely in space.

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What is magical realism?

Two genres, contemporary and fantasy, have always remained popular among young adults. But what happens when you have books that are both or neither. You might be looking at a work of magical realism

Magical realism is a genre of literature that depicts the real world as having an undercurrent of magic. A combination of fantasy and realism, it explores reality in an imaginative way. while suggesting a deeper meaning.

The world of magical realism is grounded in the real world, but fantastical elements are considered to be normal there. One of the attractions of the genre is that it blurs the line between reality and fantasy. For instance, the presence of dead characters in Toni Morrison's Beloved, fluidity of time in Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time", and telepathy in Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children."

How it started

Magical realism developed as a reaction to the realism movement of the 19th Century. The term "magischer realismus." which translates to "magic realism." was first used in 1925 by German art critic Franz Roh. And, it gained popularity among Latin American writers, who explored it further.

Magic realism vs. fantasy How does it differ from fantasy novels and fairy tales? Unlike fantasy novels, authors in the magical realism genre present the incredible as normal, every-day life. These novels are based in a realistic setting and present the magical events as ordinary Occurrences.


A classic example is "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by Salman Rushdie, who is one of the prominent authors of magical realism in English literature. The novel brings together real-world elements and features of magic or the supernatural

The city of Alifbay in which Haroun lives is described as a sad city because the people there are so depressed, they have forgotten the city's actual name. Similarly, the moon is called Kahani and it's almost entirely covered in warm water. This water. Rushdie writes, is "Story Water, its colourful and Haroun can see steam rising from it. Do you see the magical realism employed here?

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Have you heard of ‘corpse flower’?

When we speak of flowers, we usually think of rose, jasmine, marigold, hibiscus, and the like. And most flowers are less than the size of our palm and sweet-smelling. What if there's a flower which is neither? Come, let's find out more about this.

It's huge and smelly!     

Rafflesia is a genus of flowering plants comprising at least 15 species found in Southeast Asia. Interestingly for a plant it has only flowers - with nothing to show for leaves or roots. Which means there's no photosynthesis either. Rafflesia is basically a parasite, living off a type of vine. Its body - essentially made of thin filaments - lies inside the stem and the root of its host for years, and the flower bud bursts forth eventually. The bud continues to swell for months before the large flower blooms. For all that wait the flower stays in bloom for just about a week. But when in bloom, it gives off its signature stench - of rotting meat - that attracts flies. These flies ensure pollination and keep the species thriving. Unfortunately, Rafflesia's forests are disappearing and it is critically endangered. It is "impossible to cultivate and "remains largely ignored", according to a media report.

The largest

The flowers of Rafflesia usually win the largest flower title, and this year has been no different. The largest single flower ever recorded was found earlier this year in Sumatra, Indonesia, with a diameter of 111 cm - that's a whopping 3.6 ft! This was a specimen of Rafflesia tuan-mudae, and beat the earlier record of 107 cm set by Rafflesia amoldii, also from the same region.

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What is fog harvesting?

In the hot and dry desert of South Africa, the Namib desert beetle survives by harvesting water from thin air. Droplets of fog accumulate on the bumpy body of the beetle and drip down its wing into its mouth. Similarly, redwood trees of California absorb as much as 40% of their water directly from the fog. Without this adaptation, the trees would not be able to move water from their roots to other parts.

Humans too view fog as an important source of water. Dry and coastal regions around the world rely on fog-filled wind to meet their water needs. They install what are called fog catchers to harvest water suspended in the air. This technique is called fog harvesting or fog catching or fog collection.

Fog catchers are usually constructed in the form of a single or double layer mesh net, stabilised between two posts that are spread out at an angle perpendicular to the wind carrying the fog. As the wind passes through the mesh, drops of freshwater collect on the mesh and run downwards and drip into a gutter at the bottom of the net from where they are channelled via pipes to a storage tank or cistern. Mesh panels can vary in size. Typical water production rates from a fog collector range from 200 to 1,000 litres per day, with variability occurring on a daily and seasonal basis.

Fog harvesting systems are typically installed in areas where the presence of fog is naturally high, typically coastal and mountainous regions. They are erected in open locations with a fairly high elevation that are exposed to wind flow. Meteorological and climatic information such as predominant wind flow direction might have to be gathered to identify optimal placement.

Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico and Namibia are some of the countries that have greatly benefited from fog harvesting.

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How do MRNA vaccines work?

A shot in the arm!

Vaccines have helped control many infectious diseases. But developing them is not easy and also takes years. With researchers working tirelessly for months together, what seemed like an endless wait for a vaccine against COMD-19 has given way to hope with the UK approving the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine for the coronavirus. COVID-19 has claimed over 1.5 million lives worldwide

Pfizer's BNT162b2, which took only 10 months from conception to approval is an MRNA vaccine approved for use in humans for the first time. The vaccine has been shown to be 95% effective in preventing COMD-19. It needs to be stored in bones containing dry ice that are capable of staying at -70 degrees Celsius, the frigid temperature needed to preserve the drug. Besides the U.K., other countries such as Bahrain Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Israel and the U.S. have approved the emergency use of the Pfizer vaccine.

What is an MRNA vaccine?           

Vaccines work by priming the body to recognise and fight the proteins produced by disease-causing organisms. Instead of using an inactivated coronavirus or viral proteins in a vaccine, an MRNA vaccine uses a messenger RNA, or MRNA, to prompt an immune response in the body. An MRNA is a synthetic genetic material, a copy of a natural component of living cells. An mRNA vaccine carries genetic instructions, which direct cells in the body to make viral proteins that prime the immune system to produce protective antibodies. If these antibodies adhere to a virus, it cannot enter the cells to replicate.

Are they safe?

MRNA vaccines are said to be safer than live vaccines, as there is a risk of the virus reverting to a dangerous form with the latter. MRNA vaccines are not likely to produce unwanted reactions. Besides, they can be made much faster than the traditional vaccines.

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What powers a spacecraft?

Scientists send spacecraft to probe objects in space. These spacecraft carry instruments that help them take pictures and collect data in space and send them back to Earth. But to do this, the spacecraft needs electricity So what powers it?

Based on the mission it is assigned, and factors such as where the spacecraft is travelling, what it plans to do there and how long it needs to work engineers choose the best way to power a spacecraft.

The Sun                     

One source of power engineers consider is energy from the Sun, or solar power. Spacecraft that orbit close to Earth are dose enough to the Sun to use solar power. These spacecraft are fitted with solar panels, which convert the Sun's energy into electricity. The electricity from the panels charges a battery in the spacecraft and can be used even when the spacecraft doesn't have direct sunlight


Sometimes, when the mission is only for a short duration, such as the Huygens probe that landed on Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and meant to work only for a few hours, engineers may power the spacecraft with batteries. These batteries are designed to be tough since they need to withstand the harsh environment of space.


An atom is a tiny building block of matter. Atoms need to store a lot of energy to hold themselves together. However, atoms such as radioisotopes are unstable and begin to fall apart. As they fall apart, they release energy as heat. A radioisotope power system uses the temperature difference between the heat from the unstable atoms and the cold of space to produce electricity. This system produces power for a very long time even in harsh environments. That's why this system has been used to power many of NASA's missions, including the two Voyager spacecraft that continue to send back information after over four decades in space.

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What does it mean if you can see your breath? Have you ever seen your own breath?

Have you ever seen your own breath? If you are from the cold climes, or if you have visited such places during one of those vacations, you might have encountered the phenomenon. Even if you haven't been to such places yourself, you might have seen the breath of sports stars and adventure seekers on TV and in photographs when they breathe out after intense efforts in cold climates.

Moisture matters       

While people are quick to see the role of temperature in this spectacle, the equally important role played by moisture doesn't seem to be that obvious. Since our bodies contain nearly 70% water, air in our lungs is saturated with water vapour that is at the same temperature as our bodies, typically 37 degrees Celsius.

When a person lets out this warm, saturated breath on a cold day, the air outside rapidly reduces the temperature of the exhaled air. As cold air cannot hold the same amount of moisture as warm air, the combination reaches dew point briefly and is saturated with water vapour.

Dew point and beyond

When cooled beyond dew point condensation takes place and the water vapour turns into liquid water. The cloud of mist that we see fleetingly when breathing out in cold weather is the liquid form of the breath as minuscule drops of water.

Thus, a combination of both temperature and humidity is required to see your breath. Atmospheric moisture and temperature together create the conditions that allow us to make breath clouds and have fun with it.


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What is the story of Marvin C. Stone and his straws?

How do you drink your beverages, irrespective of whether they are hot or cold? Do you take swigs directly off the glass or bottle, or do you take your time and sip it slowly, using a straw for good measure? If you draw straws to sip your drinks, or even just for picking lots, you are bound to like this one.

The credit for inventing the first paper straws goes to American Marvin C. Stone. Stone was born in 1842 to Chester Stone, an inventor himself, and Rachel. He started to pursue a degree after high school when the Civil War broke out in 1861.

Serves in Civil War

Stone enlisted into service and fought gallantly, but was wounded and disabled from active duty in the Battle of Lookout Mountain. He enrolled as a music major after the war, but eventually graduated in theology. Following his marriage and years as a newspaper journalist, Stone’s inventive spirit shone through when he took to business.

His business life in the late 1870s began when he invented a machine for making paper cigarette holders. His experience with making these holders and his eye for a solution to an everyday problem, led Stone to the first paper straws.

Not the “rye” way

Stone recognised that even though using natural materials such as rye grass and reeds to make straws were popular, they had serious shortcomings. When consuming beverages using these straws, they not only added an additional flavour or taste, but also some unpleasant odour. To add to this, the grass and reeds were also prone to cracking or growing musty.

By winding strips of paper around a pencil and gluing it together, Stone had his first prototypes ready. What followed was more experimenting to make his straws more conducive for drinking.

Stone used paraffin-coated manila paper to ensure that the straws didn’t become too soggy when drinking. He also settled upon 8.5 inches as the ideal length of a straw with a diameter that was just wide enough to prevent things such as lemon seeds from lodging inside and clogging the tube.

Stone received the patent for his paper straws on January 3, 1888. Within a couple of years, Stone’s factory was producing more straws than cigarette holders. By 1896, he had patents for a machine that made artificial straw from paper. He wasn’t around to see his machines go into production in 1906, however, as he died in 1899. The success of these machines brought an end to the hand-winding process.

A kind boss

Apart from being an inventor and tinkerer, Stone was seen as a benevolent boss. A kind and generous employer, Stone looked after the comfort and moral welfare of his employees, which included female workers. The factory was equipped with a singing room and a dance floor, with a library and a meeting room for debates to boot.

The winding process that Stone pioneered with his straws had implications in other industries as well. When electrical engineers employed spiral-wound tubes for radios as they were mass-produced for the first time in the 1920s, they used a similar process. From electrical motors and apparatus to aerospace, textiles and packaging for medicine and other products, the spiral-wound tubing is now found almost everywhere.

The next time you are sipping your favourite drink, spare a thought for the man who gave us the first paper straws. And in case you are doing it with your friends or family, regale them with the story of Stone.


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Is Meghalaya the wettest place on Earth?

Mawsynram in Meghalaya is the wettest place, based on rainfall in the world. Located in the Khasi Hills, it receives about 11,872mm (nearly 467 inches) of average annual rainfall According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the region received 26,000mm of rainfall in 1985. The mountainous terrain of Mawsynram and the nearby Cherrapunji, the second wettest place, are known for their lush greenery and scenic beauty The "living bridges are one of the most beautiful features of this region. These have been created by the local people by training the roots of rubber trees into natural bridges. With the root systems constantly growing, these bridges are self-sustaining.

Primarily due to the high altitude, it seldom gets truly hot in Mawsynram. Average monthly temperatures range from around 11 °C in January to just above 20 °C in August. The village also experiences a brief but noticeably drier season from December until February, when monthly precipitation on average does not exceed 30 millimetres (1.2 in). The little precipitation during the village's "low sun" season is something that is shared by many areas with this type of climate.

Three reasons can be cited for high rainfall at Mawsynram:

  • The warm moist winds of the northward-moving air from the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon, which cover an extensive area but are forced to converge into the narrower zone over the Khasi Hills, thus concentrating their moisture.
  • The alignment of the Khasi Hills (east to west) places them directly in the path of the airflow from the Bay of Bengal, producing a significant uplift (plus cooling, further condensation and thus more rain).
  • Finally, uplift over the Khasi Hills is virtually continuous in the monsoon period because the lifted air is constantly being pulled up by vigorous winds in the upper atmosphere; hence, the rainfall is more or less continuous.

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What is the Groom of the Stool?

It may sound repulsive but English kings those days had male servants to attend to their toileting needs. It was King Henry VII who created the position in the early 16th Century. These servants were called "Grooms of the Stool", who helped the king undress, provided the needed items for his toilet visits and also monitored the king's diet and meal times to ensure he had no difficulty with regard to his bowel movements. Here the term "stool" refers to the portable commode that would have been carried around at all times for the king's use. However, there are no records to suggest that the servants cleaned the king's bottom after he used the toilet. Wondering how anybody would have opted for the job? Apparently, it was a coveted position in the king's privy chamber!

Surely it is one of the most repulsive jobs in history. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the sons of noblemen or members of the gentry that were usually awarded the job. Over time, they came to act more as personal secretaries to the king and were rewarded with high pay and some great benefits such as the right to lodgings in every palace, the Sovereign’s old clothes, and the option to have any used bedchamber furnishings. Of course, one might hope to be reimbursed handsomely for such a role, especially if the Groom actually cleansed the royal posterior himself. In all fairness though, there are no historical records to suggest that the Groom went to these extremes, although he would have almost certainly helped the monarch undress for each occasion.

Quite amazingly, the role of Groom of the Stool carried on all the way until 1901 when King Edward VII decided to abolish it.

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Who is the longest-reigning british monarch in world history?

Queen Elizabeth II was the first British sovereign to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee (70 years of service) recently. She is currently the world's longest reigning monarch, having ascended the throne on February 6, 1952. However, the Queen still has some way to go to achieve the longest recorded reign-that of Louis XIV of France, also known as Louis the Great. Louis XIV was King of France for 72 years and 110 days, from 1643 to until his demise in 1715.

Elizabeth I - the last Tudor monarch - was born at Greenwich on 7 September 1533, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Her early life was full of uncertainties, and her chances of succeeding to the throne seemed very slight once her half-brother Edward was born in 1537. She was then third in line behind her Roman Catholic half-sister, Princess Mary. Roman Catholics, indeed, always considered her illegitimate and she only narrowly escaped execution in the wake of a failed rebellion against Queen Mary in 1554.

Elizabeth succeeded to the throne on her half-sister's death in November 1558. She was very well-educated (fluent in five languages), and had inherited intelligence, determination and shrewdness from both parents. Her 45-year reign is generally considered one of the most glorious in English history. During it a secure Church of England was established. Its doctrines were laid down in the 39 Articles of 1563, a compromise between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Elizabeth herself refused to 'make windows into men's souls ... there is only one Jesus Christ and all the rest is a dispute over trifles'; she asked for outward uniformity. Most of her subjects accepted the compromise as the basis of their faith, and her church settlement probably saved England from religious wars like those which France suffered in the second half of the 16th century.

Although autocratic and capricious, Elizabeth had astute political judgement and chose her ministers well; these included William Cecil, later Lord Burghley (Secretary of State), Sir Christopher Hatton (Lord Chancellor) and Sir Francis Walsingham (in charge of intelligence and also a Secretary of State).

Overall, Elizabeth's administration consisted of some 600 officials administering the great offices of state, and a similar number dealing with the Crown lands (which funded the administrative costs). Social and economic regulation and law and order remained in the hands of the sheriffs at local level, supported by unpaid justices of the peace.

 Elizabeth's reign was one of considerable danger and difficulty for many, with threats of invasion from Spain through Ireland, and from France through Scotland. Much of northern England was in rebellion in 1569-70. A papal bull of 1570 specifically released Elizabeth's subjects from their allegiance, and she passed harsh laws against Roman Catholics after plots against her life were discovered.

As a likely successor to Elizabeth, Mary spent 19 years as Elizabeth's prisoner because Mary was the focus for rebellion and possible assassination plots, such as the Babington Plot of 1586.

During Elizabeth's long reign, the nation also suffered from high prices and severe economic depression, especially in the countryside, during the 1590s. The war against Spain was not very successful after the Armada had been beaten and, together with other campaigns, it was very costly.

Despite the combination of financial strains and prolonged war after 1588, Parliament was not summoned more often. There were only 16 sittings of the Commons during Elizabeth's reign, five of which were in the period 1588-1601. Although Elizabeth freely used her power to veto legislation, she avoided confrontation and did not attempt to define Parliament's constitutional position and rights.

Overall, Elizabeth's always shrewd and, when necessary, decisive leadership brought successes during a period of great danger both at home and abroad. She died at Richmond Palace on 24 March 1603, having become a legend in her lifetime. The date of her accession was a national holiday for two hundred years.

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