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Who Invented the Photocopying Machine?

Who Invented the Photocopying Machine?

We have all used it at one time or another to copy our school documents, or parts of a book borrowed from the library, or just about anything we wanted a copy of. It’s just a matter of pressing a button of the xerox machine and hey Presto! a piece of paper comes out at one end, an exact duplicate of the document we needed copied! However, when the invention was first patented, nobody wanted anything to do with it....

The Earthworm's Good Turn

The Earthworm's Good Turn

Every day, countless dustbins are emptied in dumping grounds. A lot of this garbage ends up polluting the ground water and also the rivers and seas. Actually, a large part of this junk, especially the biodegradable waste (waste that can be decomposed) can be disposed in a more efficient manner, without polluting water bodies. Many countries are now doing it by using a cheap and eco-friendly option – the earthworm. Yes, earthworms have been in the business of decomposing waste and enriching the soil for thousands of years....

Internet in the Jungle

Internet in the Jungle

Why are you looking so sad?” Ullu, the wise old owl, asked Kabbu, the white pigeon. “You too would look sad if you were going to lose your job,” snapped Kabbu. Kabbu was the head of the Postal Department of their jungle Olango, which was the biggest and most prosperous jungle around. Kabbu and his fleet of 21 pigeons carried letters, parcels, money orders, postal orders, etc., from Olango to the other jungles and back. Their fleet was considered the smartest, fastest and easily the most efficient in all of Jungledom....

Human Robots

Human Robots

Human Robots [Illustration by Shinod AP] March 27: At one time we considered robots as machines to do our work. But now we have begun to think of them differently. We want them to be more human than humans themselves! Or else why would the Japanese have designed a new robot to help humans interact with each other? One significant feature of most industrialised societies in the developed world is the breaking-up of the family and the rise of individualism....

Simputer: The Low-cost Computer

Simputer: The Low-cost Computer

September 23: For all those who thought computers were expensive items and not in the list of “essential buys”, think again. A new computer is here, priced at an easily affordable Rs 9,000 (about $200)! And cheaper than a colour TV. Does that grab your attention? It is called Simputer. And it’s the answer to your prayers. As the name suggests, Simputer is not for the hitech geeks! It is a simple computer meant for those who think that a mouse is a small rodent and that a RAM is a male goat....

Web of Financial Scandal

Web of Financial Scandal

August 18: The recent arrest of P S Subramanyam, chairman Unit Trust of India, has sent shock waves through the country, among the 20 million people who had invested their lifetime savings in India’s oldest public mutual fund company. What exactly happened? A mutual fund company has one main function: to take in or mobilise people’s savings and invest them on their behalf, to maximise the returns. Most of us put our savings in banks. Banks are seen to be solid and safe but they do not give more than 9 per cent returns (interest)....

Counting the world in different ways

Counting the world in different ways

August 17: Counting the world’s population may seem a bit like counting the stars in the sky, but not if you know how to go about it the right way. And there are as many ways to do it as there are countries, the United Nations recently discovered at a four-day seminar attended by number-happy statisticians from 55 countries. The idea was to see how countries are using technology to make the census-taking exercises more manageable and accurate....

Smart Future

Smart Future

August 12: Do you know that there’s a possibility you may live forever? And that you will have computers that are 1,000 times more intelligent than Albert Einstein, generally known as the smartest scientist ever! That all these miracles may happen in 15 years or more? These are the predictions of Ian Pearson, a top British futurologist. A futurologist is a person who tells what life will be in the future. He is a kind of professional day-dreamer....

Illiterate Americans

Illiterate Americans

October 6: Last week we had written about Ganga, a teenaged girl who taught the women in her slum how to read and write. These women are not an isolated case. A very large percentage of the Indian population does not know how to read and write. In fact, the mass illiteracy of its citizens is one of the biggest problems staring the Indian government in its face today. Illiterate Americans [Illustration by Anup Singh] Now there’s news that the richest country in the world, the United States of America, is struggling to cope with ‘illiteracy’ too....

Report cards

Report cards

October 21: The two news reports appeared almost at once and said a lot about the state of affairs in education in the world. One was the announcement of a whopping US$210 billion Gates Scholarship set up at England’s prestigious Cambridge University by the richest man on earth, Microsoft boss Bill Gates. The scholarship fund will enable 225 youngsters from across the world to be Gates Cambridge Scholars every year, beginning 2001. Report cards [Illustration by Sudheer Nath] Graduate students from every country in the world, barring the United Kingdom, would be eligible to apply....

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