(To Separate words use + sign)
July 11, 2018(Mumbai)
Indian museums house an enviable range of collections of art and cultural objects spanning the vast history of India. Such collections, however, are poorly documented making them vulnerable to possibilities of theft or illicit culture trafficking. The recent case of the Chola Bronze of dancing Shiva which was stolen and smuggled out of India, and then sold to the National Gallery of Australia is a case in point. The statue has since been returned after India established its provenance and requested the government of Australia. Application of new technological tools to document museum collections can help a great deal in establishing art authenticity.
Improper documentation is a major concern for safety and security of cultural objects. There is an urgent need to document all the collections in multifaceted forms including the use of appropriate scientific and technological tools, so that it helps in provenance establishment. A range of technological tools which harvest the entire electromagnetic spectrum, are available to document museum objects. This is necessary because forgeries have become a menace for museums.
In India, most museums rely on domain experts for authenticity of art objects. No one is infallible. Experts can go wrong. Therefore, relying exclusively on an expert?s knowledge (mostly restricted to the physicality of what human eyes can see) in art authenticity may not be the best practice.
Multidisciplinary studies involving collaboration between art and natural sciences are helping curators, archaeologists and scientists to establish cooperation between museums, archaeology, art history and conservation-restoration on one hand and physics, chemistry and biology on the other. Scientific developments are helping to both accurately date objects and analyse their material composition and in art authentication. The Rembrandt Research Project of the Netherlands is an example of such multidisciplinary approach.
Material analysis is increasingly becoming important with the ever improving analytical tools and techniques that have resulted in introduction of new instruments for micro analysis of objects without taking original sample material and in-situ applicability for artefacts. X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) is non-destructive and non- invasive. Miniaturisation is making x-ray tubes and detectors slimmer and lighter. These small devices can be transported to museums or archaeological sites or art galleries for analytical investigations of objects.
Scientific analysis of data relating objects and their documentation can come handy if and when an investigation is necessitated. A museum curator is required to identify which properties of an artefact might yield clues to its origin and this can be done using non-destructive techniques. Many materials characterization techniques like X-ray radiography, optical microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence (ED-XRF) are highly useful in museum laboratory during such investigations.
The surface of an object often gives an indication of how it was made. An investigator can relate this information to when and where an artefact was made, since the technical processes available to various civilizations are well documented. The fabrication processes of an object provide tell-tale marks such as casting, forging, smelting or turning by lathe, which leaves concentric lines, as does a pottery wheel. If sheet metal was starting material, there may still be marks from the hammer used to beat it into shape. The surface details of objects not visible to the naked eye can be seen through optical microscope or SEM for proper attribution.
The Smithsonian Institution, which most museum professionals admire for its canonical stature, uses scientific tools in its analytical laboratories. For example, they are using the Nanoscale Scanning Electron Microscope (NanoSEM) for evaluating mineral composition of rocks and meteorites and also in determining authenticity of ancient Mesoamerican artefacts. NanoSEM has the ability to function over a range of pressures, allowing analysis of samples without the coating of electrically conductive materials like carbon, which would be impossible to remove from the specimen.
Another new technology that has made its debut in art authenticity is ?Space and Art Technology?, which is based on a technique that NASA uses for radiation detection on the International Space Station (ISS). It combines a new imaging and measuring technology with the accuracy that only robots can offer. It gives unique and unprecedented flexibility in changing between viewing and measuring at the same time, thus bringing precision to working on basis of scientific standardised repeatable protocol for condition and authentication research of art objects.
Museums across the developed world are networking with scientists and harvesting technological tools in establishing art authenticity. Most museum professionals in India do not fully subscribe to the idea of using technological tools for establishing authenticity. They feel that experts alone can handle this task. While no one can advocate replacing human experts with technological tools, it is also true that technology can very well be used to supplement and aid experts. It is just like the role diagnostic tools in aiding doctors to accurately diagnose and prove effective in improving health. Diagnostic tools have certainly not replaced doctors.
The author is Director, Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai and Director, National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.
July 9, 2018 (New Delhi)India and South Korea on Monday signed five Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) in the field of Science and Technology, an official release said here.
The MoUs were signed by the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan and his South Korean counterpart Mr You Young Min.
Three MoUs are for Programme of Cooperation 2018-21, Establishment of Future Strategy Group, and Cooperation in Biotechnology and Bio-economy.
The MoU on Establishment of Future Strategy Group was signed by Science & Technology and Commerce Ministers, while on the Korean side, it was signed by Science and ICT and Trade Ministers.
Two other MoUs were signed between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and South Korean National Research Council for Science and Technology and IIT Mumbai and Korea Institute of Science and Technology,to further accelerate future-oriented cooperation in their respective sectors.
These MoUs were signed at the conclusion of the 4th India-Korea Science and Technology Ministers Steering Committee Meeting.
Mr You Young Min is part of the official delegation accompanying South Korean President Moon Jae-in who arrived in New Delhi on Sunday on a three-day visit.India,South Korea sign five MoUs in Science & Technology
July 05, 2018 (Hyderabad)
The four-day iZIM2018 (Indian Zebrafish Investigators Meeting) now underway at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), here, has brought together all the Indian scientists who use Zebrafish as a model system for research.
More than 100 scientists and students for research institutes, universities and colleges across India are participating in he conference organized by the CCMB.
The scientific talks and presentations by participating scientists and students involved in a wide range of research fields including developmental biology, disease biology, cognition and behavioural studies, Dr Prakash Mishra, CCMB Director, told reporters on Thursday.
He said special workshops on emerging new technologies in Zebrafish biology and how Zebrafish could be used as model in biomedical were some of the highlighted sessions in the conference.
In addition, technical workshops on zebrafish imaging, housing, husbandry and colony management also formed part of the conference.
The zebrafish is widely used model organism for biological research in the fields of molecular biology, developmental biology, genetics, oncology and neurobiology, Dr Mishra said.
July 01, 2018 (Hyderabad)
With the aim to establish an active collaboration covering various areas related to industry, academics, cooperative research, to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the development of new knowledge, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR- IICT) signed an MoU with Scient Institute of Pharmacy, Ibrahimpatnam, Hyderabad, on Saturday at the CSIR-IICT campus in Hyderabad.
The objective of the MoU is to enhance high quality research acumen. The major thrust of the research on which the parties will cooperate is analytical sciences, pharmacology and pre-clinical studies, medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutics. The CSIR-IICT will provide guidance in preparing scientific proposals to government agencies for financial aid, guidance in establishing a DSIR approved research facility and guidance in upgrading the teaching skills of the junior faculty.
The MoU was signed by Dr D. Shailaja, Senior Principal Scientist, Polymers and Functional Materials Dept, CSIR-IICT and Dr K. C. Sekhar Reddy, Chairman and DrM.Purushothaman, Principal, Scient Institute of Pharmacy.
June 29, 2018
Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Samir K. Brahmachari on Sunday underscored the need for the CSIR laboratories to take technology to the common man, especially to people living in rural areas.
Speaking after opening new facilities at the Structural Engineering Research Centre (CSIR-SERC) here, he explained that such a move would go a long way in creating awareness of work undertaken by the laboratories.
While direct value creation of CSIR projects ran into several thousands of crores of rupees, what was more commendable was the resultant impact on the prices of many products.
This included vitrified tiles, whose prices came down sharply after a CSIR laboratory provided a local alternative to clay that was being imported from Ukraine. Likewise, open source drug discovery programme helped to come up with new, cost-effective medicines.
However, awareness of the work and impressive network of laboratories that CSIR had built over the years was low. He cited instances of policy makers and civil servants, without realising that the laboratory was part of the network, underscored the need for CSIR to enter into a collaboration with it.
Various measures had been initiated to spread awareness, including prefixing CSIR to the name of the laboratories.
Mr. Brahmachari also highlighted the need for CSIR bodies to come up with interesting advertisements. "Every lab is different, but the same [growth] opportunity exists for all," he said, asking the institutions to work closely. He commended the work of CSIR-SERC and - CSIR-CECRI in Karaikudi in the State.
SERC director Nagesh R. Iyer said every structure on the complex was unique and adopted technology developed by SERC.
Mr. Brahmachari opened a dining hall, training and development complex and an administrative wing besides participating in the ground breaking ceremony of a twin tower innovation complex.
June 20, 2018 (Punjab)
Any gaming aficionado would love it: A space age fighter jet cockpit with information on weapons locking systems, enemy planes and flight information flashing on the windshield.
This high-tech system is likely to be adapted soon for fighter aircraft in India with technology developed indigenously. The head-up display (HUD) has been developed by the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) in Chandigarh, a constituent unit of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
The technology, which CSIO started developing from scratch after the UK,USA, France and Israel declined to share it with India, was first adapted for the indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas, says director, CSIO, Prof RK Sinha.
Now, a plot display unit (PDU) similar to HUD is being developed for BAE Systems Hawk, a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft under licence manufacturing in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
A helmet mounted display for fighter aircraft and gun sight (enabling aiming of a gun accurately) for Dornier aircraft are also in the pipeline.
Dr Vinod Karar, chief scientist, optical devices and systems, heading the development of the PDU for the Hawk-i aircraft, said the CSIO was developing a customised low-profile unit.
Explaining why the technology developed for Tejas had an edge over its global competitors, he said it had multiple operational modes, including low visibility and standby sight mode if a mission computer failed to guide and aid the pilot, high display brightness, high contrast ratio with maximum display luminance, high degree of accuracy and precision, wide field of view and no forced air cooling or internal fan for the heat generated in the system, resulting in reduction in cockpit noise for improved pilot comfort.
A total of 68 such HUDs have been produced by CSIO Chandigarh and Bharat Electronics Limited, Panchkula.
"Since the HUD is the prime flight display viewed by the pilot from his or her seat, its technology was denied to India. Hence, CSIO made its design and customised it to multiple aircraft platforms, in the process achieving design excellence, bringing India on the select list of countries who can design and manufacture the complex technology of HUD," said the CSIO director.
The indigenous HUD is cheaper by Rs 40 lakh when compared to offerings by others.HUD variants had been developed for LCA Tejas for both the Indian Air Force and Navy and other aircraft. "Our design offers compact size, low weight and power consumption," Prof Sinha added.
Understanding head-up display
Flying a fighter aircraft at supersonic speeds is no easy task. Unlike conventional cockpits with traditional styled analog dials which diverted a pilot's attention as he had to take his eyes off the skies to monitor flight information, the glass cockpit eases his workload by providing flight, aircraft and weapon information in his line of sight.
The windshield glass has a unique coating with material or combination of materials so as to reflect green wavelength, to which human eyes are most sensitive, while allowing a clear view ahead.
Other technologies being developed
Gunsight for Dornier aircraft: CSIO is also developing a customised gunsight used for accurately aiming a weapon, for surveying and for sight setting on a particular range.
July 10, (Hyderabad)
A global platform for sharing information about the world?s biodiversity has passed a major milestone, with the publication of the one-billionth species record of where a species lives through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
GBIF is an International network and Research Infrastructure aimed at providing anyone, anywhere, open access to data about all types of life on Earth, a release said.
Records freely accessible to all through the GBIF.org platform provide researchers and policy makers with an unrivalled information resource, bringing together evidence gathered over centuries and across the whole planet on where and when species have been observed or collected.
The facility is funded by the world's governments.
Commenting on the one-billion record milestone, GBIF's Executive Secretary Donald Hobern said: "If we want to address the big challenges we face around the future of land use, conservation, climate change, food security and health, we need efficient ways to bring together all the data capable of helping us understand the changing state of the world and the essential role that biodiversity plays at all scales.
"This milestone shows that today's GBIF is prepared for continued growth and ready to handle the massive volume of data we expect to see from other new technologies and sources."
The information available about the occurrence of over one billion species through GBIF is the result of the collective efforts of more than 1,200 institutions in 123 countries that willingly share data in standard digital formats, arising from natural history collections, research projects, species monitoring programmes and citizens? observations, among many other sources.
July 05, 2018 (New Delhi)
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has joined hands with US-based chip-designer Nvidia Corp to set up a Centre of Excellence here to offer the industry a complete design and implementation environment for the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based applications.
The CSIR-Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) in Pilani, Rajasthan, on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect.
The CEERI-Nvidia Centre of Excellence (CNCoE) will be powered by a five-petaflop AI supercomputer, India's first industrial AI supercomputer, at CEERI's New Delhi campus, Nvidia said in a statement.
"This CNCoE is significant because it brings together Nvidia's cutting-edge AI platform with vast industrial scientific research expertise and capability from CSIR-CEERI," said Vishal Dhupar, Managing Director, Nvidia South Asia.
"This combination will enable researchers and industry across the country to advance their AI systems development," Dhupar said.
The centre will house a high-throughput artificial intelligence (AI) computing infrastructure that can be leveraged by CSIR laboratories, in collaboration with public and private organisations and industries across the country, to conduct research and development.
"This centre will provide a unique platform for developing AI systems to solve some of the critical problems in healthcare, natural resource management, food production, security and transportation by exploiting multi-dimensional knowledge base available with CSIR and other research organisations in the country," said Santanu Chaudhury, Director, CSIR-CEERI.
"The industry can use this facility to develop AI-based products supporting the Make in India initiative of the government, This CNCoE has the potential to usher in a culture of AI based innovations in a variety of application domains," Chaudhury added.
CSIR has 4,000-plus active scientists spread over 38 national laboratories covering a wide spectrum of specialisations in science and technology.
July 7, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Indian IT industry apex body Nasscom on Thursday opened a Centre of Excellence for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (AI) here.
The centre was set up in collaboration with the Karnataka government with an aim to nurture innovation in emerging disruptive technologies such as AI and to leverage the power of data science, Nasscom said in a statement here.
"Karnataka has led the Information Technology (IT) revolution in India and the state has also been fostering entrepreneurial spirit. The centre is the step required to propel the data sciences and AI to make India as a destination for global product solutions," Nasscom President Debjani Ghosh said on the occasion.
Nasscom has also signed an agreement with government think-tank NITI Aayog to collaboratively foster applied research, accelerating adoptions and ethics, privacy and security, the statement added.
e centre aims to support small and mid-sized businesses by fast-tracking their product developing and providing market access.
It will work with governments, and universities to provide the emerging businesses with required mentorship, talent and skills.
"The centre will create a platform for industry to academia to co-create digital solutions for Industry 4.0," the statement added.
Karnataka IT, Biotechnology and Science and Technology Minister K.J. George, Intel India's head Nivruti Rai, and Nasscom Chairman Rishad Premji were among the others present on the occasion.