Showing posts with label Fact Check. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fact Check. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Strange Scientific Reasons Behind Everyday Indian Customs and Habits

India is a land of strange rituals. More strange are the reasons behind these unusual customs. Some of them are odd and hard to believe; sometimes, you have to take it with a grain of salt. However, there are some that come with proper, valid, SCIENTIFIC rationality. Like –

Greeting with a Namaskara.

This is a popular way of greeting people, especially in India. The gesture requires you to join your palms together and make a little bow in respect.  Wondering where the science is? Well, when your palms are joined, the fingertips touch each other.

Science behind namaste or namaskar - the Indian way of greeting
Namaskara; Source: Wiki
In these tips lie the pressure points associated with the sensory organs and the brain. As you press them, you activate the points. The signals are sent to the brain, which suggests that you should remember the person you are seeing for a long time. Also, if you think of it from the hygiene point of view, isn’t it a better way of greeting people than a handshake?

Serving food on banana leaves.

This is an ancient custom still followed in many parts of India. Some people hold the notion that it saves the world from pollution. Banana leaves being biodegradable can be easily disposed. However, there’s another fact which is not known to many.

Science behind food on a banana leaf
Food on a banana leaf; Source: Travel + Leisure
These leaves are a rich source of vitamins. Whenever hot food is served on them, the vitamins get added in it. A healthy custom, I’d say. And yes, the ‘biodegradable’ thing holds true as well.

Eating with your hand.

It’s not unhygienic. In fact, it energises your body, mind and soul. That particular posture, when you are holding food in your hand and about to insert it into your mouth, is a yogic ‘mudra.’ The extended fingers represent the five elements of nature – fire, water, earth, air, and space.
Science behind eating with hands
Eating with hands; Source:
Each finger is responsible for contributing to the food in one way or the other. Science as proved it that food consumed with hands stimulates a person’s sense of taste, smell, and texture better. The digestive enzymes are secreted properly and the consumption of food becomes a delightful experience.

Piercing ears.

Did you think of it only as a fashion statement? There’s more. Pierced ears contribute to a better intellect.  They strengthen a person’s reasoning and decision-making abilities. Further, they also save the ears from diseases and disorders.
Science behind piercing ears
Pierced ears; Source: Style & Fashion
You’d be surprised to know that pierced ears can minimise talkativeness. Yes, they help in disciplining speech. Interestingly, women in India have always been expected to pierce their ears. Don’t you smell a misogynist mind behind this?

Applying henna.

Think apart from the colour henna imparts on your hand. Isn’t it a herbal medicine as well? Well, this is proven. Now, here’s the scientific reason. Henna is cold; it works on the blood and lowers the body temperature.

Science behind applying mehendi or henna
Bridal mehendi (henna); Source:
Yet again, Henna also acts on the nervous system and calms down the nerves. It’s a great stress buster and is this is why it is recommended during weddings and rituals. Style goes hand in hand with health, you can say.

Wearing a silver toe ring on the second toe.

It’s beyond fashion. The second toe ring has a certain nerve which leads straight to the heart through the uterus. Science says that a silver toe ring in this finger helps in enhancing the health of the uterus. It also assists in the regulation of blood flow and helps cure irregular menstrual cycles.
Toe rings; Source: WomanDot
Silver is a great conductor and can absorb the earth’s polar energy, thereby passing it on to the human body. No wonder these rings are still recommended for married women.

Hanging chillies and lemon in the entrance of residences.

This is so damn common. We see it almost everywhere. People hand chillies and lemons believing that it can keep the evil and misfortune away from a home.

Science behind chillies and lemon tied on a thread on entrances.
Man holding chillies and lemon tied on a thread; Source: The National, UAE
Here’s the real story – the cotton thread which supports the hanging chillies and lemon, absorb the juices of the edibles. The combination is like a natural pesticide that keeps away disease causing agents. In short, ‘misfortunes’ and ‘evil’ is kept at bay.

Ringing the bell at the entrance of a temple.

This is a practice as per the Agama Sastra, which says that the bell helps in warding off the evil and keeping the grounds of the temple pious. However, science has a different explanation. It says the loud ring keeps people away from distractions.

Science behind ringing temple bells
Temple bells; Source: Alekhya Homes
It’s like a reminder to stay attentive; it helps us concentrate on the being devoted more than thinking about world outside. In short, it’s a concentration booster.

Having desserts after a meal.

People with the sweet tooth are going to love this fact. Indian meals are mostly spicy. Did you know that spices kindle the digestive enzymes in the body? And that they activate acidic substances?

Science behind having sweets after meals
A plateful of Indian sweets; Source: NineFineStuffs
Both the processes are needed so that the digestion of food occurs to the utmost. Now comes the dessert part. Sweets contain sugars (carbohydrates) that put a brake to the ongoing process of digestion. Simple, isn't it?

Consuming sesame seeds and jaggery during Makar Sankranti.

The celebrations of Makar Sankranti happen when winter is at its peak. A combination of sesame seeds (til) and jaggery (gur) when consumed help the body to keep warm. They contain carbohydrates in the form of sugar, which have heat generating properties.

Science behind consuming sesame seeds and jaggery during Makar Sankranti
Til-gur laddoo during Makar Sankranti; Source: Rediff
Did you know this sweet delicacy is also a cure for bed wetting? Indeed, when health comes in sweet packages, it is always welcome.

Chanting ‘OM.’

It’s more like Aaa-Ooo-Mmm. We all have heard it a zillion times in our lives perhaps. Ever wondered about the logic? Well, OM, the mantra is full of physics! It’s a practical example of syllables that direct to sound, resonance and vibration. The sound of ‘Aaa’ activates the nervous system in the chest and stomach via resonance.

Science behind chanting OM
The importance of chanting Om; Source: MindBodyGreen
‘Ooo’ on the other hand sensitises the chest and throat. Lastly, the sound of  ‘Mmm’ resonates in the nose as well as the brain. So, here’s a single word that’s looking after the health of your chest, stomach, throat, nose, and brain. The sound waves help in enhancing your concentration, calming the mind, and lowering mental stress. Wonderful, isn’t it?

Our ancestors had a scientific outlook which we can never possibly fathom. They were way wiser, logical and rational than we are. Let’s not question every ritual that we come across. Let’s try and understand the hidden reason first.

Do you know of any such everyday custom? Can you provide a scientific explanation for it? Kindly share.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Summer of 1816, A Casual Writing Contest and the Birth of Three Literary Masterpieces

Miracles often happen when they are least expected. Ideas pop up out of the blue and even the creators fail to assess the brilliance of the thing they have conjured up. Such was tale behind the creation of three literary works of wonder.

We’ll come to the works later. Let’s hear a little story first.

It was the year 1816 – the ‘Year There Was No Summer.’ The climate around the Northern Hemisphere was at its worse. There were extreme weather conditions everywhere and heavy rainfall doomed lives across Europe.

Year Without a Summer
Source: Celebrate Boston
The dampness and gloom had cast a dark spell that was difficult to overcome. Mount Tambora had erupted somewhere in Indonesia and the Earth was gripped in a dreadful volcanic winter in summer.

Living amidst all the chaos were two great personas – poet George Gordon Byron and writer John William Polidori, trying to orient themselves to the adverse weather changes in Villa Diodati  near Lake Geneva.

And they were not the only sufferers. Equally disheartened by the strange summer were three other people – poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, his spouse Mary Shelley, and her stepsister Claire Clairmont, who came by to give them company and enliven their own dying spirits.

Mary and Percy Shelley, Byron, Polidori
Source: Pinterest
Rain and darkness make the perfect ambiance for ghost stories, don’t they? Thus, a plan was made amongst the rendezvousing for the sake of amusement. As the rain lashed on the window pane, the five of them took turns in narrating spooky tales to each other. Included amongst the stories was Fantasmagoriana – a French anthology of German ghost stories.

Villa Diodati near Lake Geneva
Source: Wikiwand
As the action unfolded, the excitement grew more and more intense. But, can writers ever conquer their boredom merely by reading out stories? Nay. So, it was decided that they would write their own ghost stories! What happened next is history.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was created. Polidori came up with The Vampyre (in fact, this is believed to be the onset of the literary genre; Twihards can thank him). And, who doesn’t know Lord Byron’s poem – Darkness?

Of course, Frankenstein didn’t happen in an instant. Mary Shelley had a tough time creating the plot. At times, she even went blank, unable to put her thoughts into writing.

Lord Byron was no better. He began with a story and ended up writing the poem, Darkness. The story, which narrated a dying man pledging to pay his friend a visit after death, was left midway. Polidori was the cleverest amongst them. He picked up Byron’s story and created The Vampyre out of it.

Ah, the mind-boggling ways literary masterpieces are born!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Introducing Kuli: The Ultimate One-Eyed Surfer Cat

Cats hate water!

That’s like Gospel Truth. Their fur isn’t simply made for getting wet. If you have a pet cat at home, you will surely know how difficult it is to convince the animal to take a bath.

So much is this fact known that it has found its way into Literature as well! Remember the Yiddish Idiom – ‘How does a cat cross over the water?’ In India, you’ll often hear the term ‘bheegi billi,’ meaning, ‘a wet cat' that's suggestive of a coward.

But, surprise, surprise! Here’s a kitty that’s totally in love with water.

Meet Kuli – the surfer cat.
Kuli the surfing cat
Kuli - the surfing cat
He is one-eyed, but a pro in hanging ten. This orange kitty took to surfing when he was barely 6 months old. You’d love how he wears an ergonomically made life jacket during his endeavours. Kuli is full of life and enjoys riding the waves in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Presently, he surfs with his owners – Alexandra Gomez and Krista Littleton. According to them, Kuli developed this fearlessness while he was recovering from an eye surgery. Gomez and Littleton used to bathe him regularly, which made him lose the fear of water altogether.

Kuli the cat, surfing
Kuli, the wonder cat does not fear water
The roomies trained the cat by putting him on their own longboards, and later bought him a wavestorm foam board of his own. They say he loves the spongy material on such boards.

Kuli was a malnourished alley cat that was rescued from the streets of Oahu by the owners. He weighed less than a pound back then. His one eye had to be surgically removed as it was damaged due to an infection.

Kuli with her owners Gomez and Littleton
Kuli with owners Alexandra Gomez and Krista Littleton
The kitty’s name is derived from the Hawaiian word ‘Nanakuli,’ which means ‘to look blind.’ Kuli is a feline surfer of the league of adventure animals like Didga – the skateboarding cat and Ricochet – the surfer dog. You can follow the kitty on Instagram @kulithesurfingcat.


Image source: Instagram.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

17 Interesting Facts about the Oscar Statuette You Need to Know

We know it as the Academy Awards signature. It is perhaps the most recognised trophy in the entire world. But, there's more to the golden man than meets the eye.

Oscar Statuette Facts

Got some more information about the Oscar statuette? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Why Do Clocks on Display Always Show the Time As 10:10?

Ever been to a clock store? Carefully observe the timepieces on display. Each will have the default time set at 10:10. Do you know why?

Clocks showing time at 10:10
Source: King Framers (Pinterest)
Let’s come to the common beliefs.

The most stated reason suggests that this was the very time in which the first watch was invented by Peter Henlein. However, other contemporary clockmakers in Germany were already working on different types of timepieces. There’s no clear evidence that the watch of Henlein was the first one.

A 16th century watch - the earliest dated watch known
Source: Wiki
And all this happened in the 16th century, whereas there are a number of proofs that can attest to the fact that watches have been in use since time immemorial, in some form or the other.

Yet again, some say it’s a way to memorialise the time of death of Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln.

You’d be disappointed when you know that Luther King was shot at 6:01 in the evening and died at 7:05 pm on the same day. Lincoln was shot at 10:15 pm and died at 7:22 in the morning. Kennedy was shot at 12:30 in the afternoon and died at 1 pm.

Martin Luther King Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Abraham Lincoln
Another speculation is, 10:10 denotes the time of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is set as default in every timepiece to mark the tragedy that led to major casualties.

However, even this proposition fails to satiate the query as Hiroshima was bombed with ‘Little Boy’ at 8:15 am and Nagasaki with ‘Fat Man’ at 11:02 am as per local time.

Nagasaki bombing
Source: Wiki
A third hypothesis says that 10:10 shows the ‘V’ shape in the clock, which stands for victory. The factuality of this hypothesis, too, remains in doubts. In fact, ‘V’ as the victory sign only came up during World War II. Sigh!

Victory sign by Winston Churchill
Source: The Pre-Read
Here’s the real reason why:

It’s purely aesthetics! At 10:10, you can observe all the key details of a timepiece’s face. This is the position in which the seconds, minutes, and hours hands are not overlapping and so, are visible. The manufacturer logo, which is usually present under 12 or next to 3, 6, and 9, is evident as well.

10:10 is the ideal default time to be displayed in timepieces
Source: PetaPixel
Moreover, at this position, all the hands are in symmetry, which evokes a sense of pleasure in a viewer. Also, if the timepiece depicts date and other such details, 10:10 is the moment which brings everything in sight.

Did you know?

The Apple Watch always displays the default time as 10:09. This has been done intentionally so that the company can make a statement with the product line. The motto is to depict the products as being ahead of their contemporary smartwatches.

Apple Watch showing the time as 10:09
Source: Engadget
Apple is not the first company to breach the age-old tradition. Popular watchmaker firm Rolex has chosen the time to be 10:10:31. Bell & Ross keeps it at 10:10:10. Tag Heuer has chosen 10:10:37. And Timex displays it as 10:09:36.

Apparently, Apple has made a silent claim that its products are better than everyone else’s. Indeed, “time has a wonderful way of showing what really matters.”

If you were a watchmaker too, what time would you choose to display?

Go on. Pour out your suggestions in the comment section below. Time’s on your side. :)