Why India’s rabies problem is especially bad

India bears the world’s heaviest rabies burden, according to a new study from the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, accounting for 35% of all deaths due to the disease. Here’s why you shouldn’t be surprised (data from GARC). 1. Vaccination coverage of dogs Among the BRICS nations, India has the highest population of dogs and … Read more

Curious Bends – a rabid burden, two caverns of oil, the death of universal marriage and more

1. Over 35% of the world’s rabies burden is borne by India “A global report on rabies has found India accounts for more than one-third of all deaths due to dog bite worldwide. Worse, the report says, most victims die at home because hospitalization provides little palliative care and death is inevitable. … According to one … Read more

Hubble at 25: My picks

For the Hubble space telescope’s 25th anniversary (April 24, 2015), NASA released a picture of the Westerlund 2 star cluster that the telescope shot. The image shows an expanding shell of gas lit up by the radiation from a cluster of 3,000 stars at its center. On the occasion of a quarter-century of operations, here are my favorite … Read more

Curious Bends – nuclear Himalayas, tiny Indians, renewables victory and more

1. 50 years ago a bomb’s worth of plutonium was lost on India’s second highest mountain. The mystery remains unanswered “In October 1965, the US’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) joined hands in a clandestine mission to install a nuclear-powered sensing device on the summit of India’s second highest peak, also one of … Read more

10 things MESSENGER will be remembered for

Later in April, one of the most successful NASA missions will come to an explosive close. Scientists and engineers at the NASA Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University will accelerate the robotic Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging spacecraft – shortened as MESSENGER – downward, like a bullet at Mercury. MESSENGER was launched in … Read more

When you crack your knuckles, you’re creating bubbles

Cracking knuckles. Credit: wikihow

The next time you crack your knuckle, know that you’re actually creating little gas-filled bubbles in the fluid that lubricates your knuckle’s joints. The cavities appear because the bones at the joints separate rapidly, creating a low-pressure volume that’s filled by gas ‘pumped’ out of the higher-pressure fluid. This is what Greg Kawchuk, a professor at … Read more

Curious Bends – expanding nuclear power, the Bombay Blood Group, doubting the tobacco-cancer link & more

1. India’s new forest laws are criminalising tribes’ once-normal livelihoods “India has forest coverage of 23% and more than 200 million live in and around these forests and depend on them for their life, livelihood and cultural identity. But under the banner (some call it “guise”) of scientific management of forests, the intended objectives of … Read more

Orbital ATK and engine-maker GenCorp disagree over cause of Antares crash

Under threat of significant financial losses, conflicting reports of what caused the October 28 (2014) Antares rocket crash have emerged – one from its manufacturer, Orbital ATK, and the other from its engine’s maker, Aerojet Rocketdyne. Reuters reports, Ronald Grabe, Orbital’s executive vice president and president of its flight systems group, told the annual Space … Read more

Crowdsourcing earthquakes is not a big deal – keeping it reliable is

This map stakes well the need for a decentralized earthquake warning system. The dark and light blue rings show where early earthquake warnings are available, while the reddish and yellow patches describe areas prone to earthquakes. There’s a readily visible disparity, which a team of scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, leverages to outline how … Read more

All goes well on LHC 2.0’s first day back in action

It finally happened! The particle-smasher known as the Large Hadron Collider is back online after more than two years, during which its various components were upgraded to make it even meaner. A team of scientists and engineers gathered at the collider’s control room at CERN over the weekend – giving up Easter celebrations at home … Read more