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Etcetera

Here is out take on technology and projects around the world.

T.V. Mahalingam | Print Edition: September 19, 2010

How things work
Earthquake Protection

Last fortnight, heavy rainfall followed by a minor earthquake of about 2.6 on the Richter scale killed 10 people in a Mumbai building collapse. With scientists predicting an increase in seismic activity around the megapolis in the future, isn't it time you insured your property from nasty tremors? A quick refresher on what causes the earth to quake. Simply, quakes are the earth's way of releasing stress. When the earth's tectonic plates move against each other, stress is transferred to the outer surface of the earth or the lithosphere.

Tall and short
As this stress is released, the ground shakes. Typically, tall buildings tend to shake more than shorter ones. And structurally poor buildings, tall or small, collapse. There are two ways to protect buildings from earthquakes: build them stronger (better engineering, reinforced construction material, etc.), or retrofit them with quake protection.

Shake stopper
One of the widely-accepted ways of making a building quake-proof is by installing 'dampers', which look like gigantic shock absorbers. Dampers absorb and dissipate energy generated by the tremors and release it as heat. When the building shakes, the dampers restrict the swaying and thus prevent structural damage to the beams and columns of the building.

Just wondering
Mumbai's missing BRTS

As Mumbai's lifeline, its suburban railway network, shows some serious clogging, there has been some talk of implementing a bus rapid transportation system (BRTS) in the city on the lines of Ahmedabad, Pune and Delhi. So far, just that has happened - talk. A BRTS network requires bus lanes in which 15,000-plus passengers can travel at high speeds. Initially, the planning agencies of Mumbai felt that such a network would not be feasible due to narrow roads in the city.

But the success of the BRTS network in Pune and the keenness of the Central government to implement low-ticket urban transportation systems made the city's planners rethink. However, precious little has happened on the ground for the Rs 1,300-crore project which was first mooted four years ago. Last heard, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority was rustling up a report for the Central government which, in turn, would push it to the World Bank for funds.

The timeline for the project's implementation: about three years from now. Hopefully, this won't be another bus that will be missed.

Quirky
Hic, i quit

Be it Rocky Balboa on reel or the legendary Seabiscuit in the Derby, America has always loved its underdogs. Steven Slater, a nondescript flight steward with low cost airline JetBlue, joined this select band of American sweethearts when he quit his job in style. After an abusive passenger bumped the veteran steward on his head with her suitcase, Slater walked to the intercom and launched into an invective-laced resignation speech.

Once done with the words, he punched the emergency exit button and slid down the emergency chute, swigging beer. The passengers cheered, netizens approved with over two lakh adoring members on his Facebook and an American hero was born. In comparison, rewind back to what sacked Jet Airways employees did two years ago. They ganged up and went to Maharashtra strongman Raj Thackeray, whining. Style and coolth is not a generic trait in airline staff, eh?

Snoot corner
Pouring the bubbly

Well, modern science scores one more victory. And the fizzing question the mathheads have solved is: how does one pour champagne into a glass? The correct way to pour the bubbly is to emulate the beer drinkers. Pop the bottle, tilt the glass and pour it along the side of the glass, just like beer. Fellow snoots, shed a few dignified tears. And make sure that the champagne is cooler under four degree Celsius.

In the latest issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists have reported that pouring your expensive bubbly like your Rs-100-a-bottle beer, preserves the taste, aroma and the feel of the champagne. How? Supposedly, the carbon dioxide concentration in the champagne is preserved best when poured in the manner favoured by beer guzzlers. So the next time you lay your hands on a champagne bottle, uncork it like a snoot but pour it out like a sailor.

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