Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lin Ostrom Wins Nobel for Economic Science

Lin Ostrom did research on community based institutions developed to manage common pool resources, specially irrigation system and forestry in Nepal in 90s. I had chance to work with her briefly, and learned at that time it is the hard work, dilligence, observation, analysis, love and human response were wrought in her heart. She woke up at 3am every morning and started writing. The below paragraph is just a copy and paste from, the link is given at the end. I will write my experience with her in another blog.

In the mean time, entire internet is flooded with the news of her geting Nobel Prize for Economic Science. Just google "Elinor Ostrom" you will get plenty!

Thank you

In 2009, Ostrom became the first woman to receive the prestigious Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences cited Ostrom "for her analysis of economic governance," saying her work had demonstrated how common property could be successfully managed by groups using it. Ostrom and Oliver E. Williamson shared the 10-million Swedish kronor (£910,000; $1.44 m) prize for their separate work in economic governance.[4]

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Ostrom's 'research brought this topic from the fringe to the forefront of scientific attention', "by showing how common resources — forests, fisheries, oil fields or grazing lands, can be managed successfully by the people who use them, rather than by governments or private companies". Ostrom's work in this regard, challenged conventional wisdom, showing that common resources can be successfully managed without government regulation or privatization

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Economist: Mapping a better world

A great article on Mapping from recent issue of The Economist
Source: The Economist

Mapping a better world
Jun 4th 2009
From The Economist print edition

Software: Interest groups around the world are using mapping tools and internet-based information sources to campaign for change

CONVINCING people about the evils of housing segregation can be tough, says Barbara Samuels, a campaigner for fair housing at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland. “People say, ‘What’s so bad about living in an all-black neighbourhood?’ ” she explains. But using a map that displays all the vacant houses in a segregated neighbourhood, how few jobs exist there and how little public transport is available, “you can show graphically how people are segregated from opportunity,” she says. “Maps help you take complex information and portray it in a clear, intuitive manner. You can show segregation in a way that talking about it doesn’t do.”

And compiling such maps is much easier than it used to be, thanks to new mapping tools and sources of information on the internet. Ms Samuels remembers, for example, the tedium of trying to draw basic data on maps by hand in the 1990s. But in 2005 she was able to use maps that displayed 14 indicators of opportunity—created for her by a mapping-technology specialist—to help win a housing-desegregation court case.

For most people it is merely a handy tool to find a nearby pizzeria or get directions to a meeting. But mapping technology has matured into a tool for social justice. Whether it is to promote health, safety, fair politics or a cleaner environment, foundations, non-profit groups and individuals around the world are finding that maps can help them make their case far more intuitively and effectively than speeches, policy papers or press releases.

“Today you are allowed to visualise data in ways you couldn’t even understand just a few years ago,” says Jeff Vining of Gartner, a consulting firm. Along with web-based resources, coalescence around more advanced tools has also helped, such as the emergence of ESRI, based in Redlands, California, as the market leader in mapping software. And the rise of open-source projects such as MapServer, PostGIS and GRASS GIS have made sophisticated mapping available to non-profit groups with limited resources.

Areas with fewer parks (lighter rather than darker green) have higher rates of childhood obesity (larger red circles)
All this has made it much easier to create maps that explain—at a glance—something that might otherwise require pages of tables or verbiage. “A percentage or a table is still abstract for people,” says Dan Newman of, a group based in Berkeley, California that charts the links between politicians and money. “With maps, you can show people how an abstract concept connects to where they live.” Wendy Brawer, founding director of, a mapping site based in New York used by people in 54 countries, says maps can make a point even if they are in a foreign language. “Maps are really helpful for that ‘Aha!’ moment,” she says.

For example, “The Grim Reaper’s Road Map: An Atlas of Mortality in Britain”, published in 2008, reveals that the places with the highest numbers of smokers also have the highest rates of death from lung cancer. No surprise there. But the collection of maps from a British publisher of public-policy books also shows that cervical cancer is more likely to strike those in the north of England, and brain cancer is more prevalent in the south of Scotland. Such revelations can lead to investigations and eventual health improvements.

The Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Columbus, Ohio, which created the maps used in Ms Samuel’s ACLU court case, has made “opportunity” maps of several American cities. The aim is to help people find neighbourhoods where jobs, health care, safety and public transport are in better supply—or to spur the creation of more such neighbourhoods. Rob Breymaier of, a non-profit group that encourages people to “move to opportunity”, recalls using Kirwan’s maps in Chicago in 2006 to help a family of eight. “They ended up finding a place in the north-west suburbs, which is a huge change from Chicago’s south side,” he says. The children ended up in better schools and stayed out of trouble, he says.

Others have used maps to expose violence. was launched by four technologists to map citizen reports of post-election violence in Kenya last year using Google Maps. “We’re building a platform that makes it easier to gather information around a crisis so that governments, or whoever is trying to hide the crisis, can’t do it anymore,” says Erik Hersman, Ushahidi’s operations director.

Sequences of maps can also be used to debunk misconceptions. Many in Los Angeles were pleased, for example, to learn that gun violence had decreased since the mid-1990s. But by developing a series of maps showing where shootings continued to happen, a local non-profit group called Healthy City was able to show that for some Los Angelenos, gun violence was as bad as ever.

MAPlight used a similar time-lapse approach to show the influence of money on congressional votes. Starting in January 2007, it tracked which states (those growing sugar-beets and sugar-cane, it turned out) were making the most generous political donations in the run-up to a vote in July 2007 on subsidies for the sugar industry. But once the vote was tallied and the subsidy granted, states that had appeared bright red with political contributions suddenly revert to tan, indicating an instant drop in donations. “We make visible and real something that is usually invisible and abstract,” says Mr Newman.

Changing the way American politics is funded is a tall order. But some map-based campaigns have already produced clear results. For example, the Food Trust, a campaign group based in Philadelphia, used maps as part of its fight to reduce diet-related disease and malnutrition in urban parts of America. “I remember the first supermarket-commission meeting,” says Jennifer Kozlowski, special assistant for the environment to David Paterson, the governor of New York. “Some of the maps in the report mapped obesity-related deaths and access to produce markets. It was as clear as day that something needed to be done.” In January Mr Paterson announced the Healthy Food/Healthy Communities Initiative, including $10m in grants and loans for supermarket projects in under-served communities.

Such examples underscore why campaigners are rushing to make the most of map technology. “We don’t just want to be about mapping,” says John Kim of Healthy City. “Maps don’t change the world—but people who use maps do.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nobel laureate Klitzing addresses International Conference on Frontiers of Physics (ICFP 2009) in Kathmandu Nepal

Physics solves problems: Nobel laureate Klitzing

German Nobel Prize winner Klaus Bohn Klitzing said has physics has been able to solve many problems world has faced and is facing today and expressed hope that international conference of physics in Nepal would ‘contribute to good international connection’ on scientific researches.
German Nobel Prize winner Klaus Bohn Klitzing addressing the conference.
German Nobel Prize winner Klaus Bohn Klitzing addressing the ...

Addressing the international conference on physics organised by Nepal Physics Society in Kathmandu Tuesday, Klitzing said moral science and education play an important role for the development of a modern country which is integrated with the international community.

In his inaugural address to the conference, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav said application of the methods of physics is essential for eradication of poverty, adding that studies of science, being interwoven with human society, cannot be isolated.

Vice chancellor of the Tribhuvan University Madhav Sharma alleged the government for not giving priority to physics education which has led to failure of Nepal in producing scientists competing at the international level.

The four-day conference is being attend by over 120 physical scientists from 30 countries including US, Japan, Germany, Pakistan, Taiwan, India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The scientists will exchange their experiences and debate on new researches.
June 02 09

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

High Altitude Forest Fires in Nepal: A Disaster

NASA Satellite Detects large scale forest fires in Nepal

On March 12, 2009, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite caught a glimpse of a relatively rare event: large–scale forest fires in the Himalaya Mountains of Nepal. Places where the sensor detected active fires are outlined in red. The numerous small fires in southern Nepal may not be wildfires, but rather agricultural or other land-management fires.
The image is centered on Nepal, and it shows the towering Himalaya Mountains arcing through the small country. Many national parks and conservation areas are located along the northern border of the country, and the fires appear to be burning in or very near some of them. Five people were killed by the forest fire southwest of Annapurna in early March; according to a news report they were overtaken while in the forest gathering firewood. According to that report, Nepal commonly experiences some small forest fires each spring, which is the end of the dry season there. However, conditions during the fall and winter of 2008 and 2009 were unusually dry, and fires set by poachers to flush game may have gotten out of control.

Nagpal, S. (2009, March 2). Forest fires kill five in Nepal. Accessed March 13, 2009.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Rebecca Lindsey.
Instrument: Aqua - MODIS


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Satellite built by Indian university to be launched in ISRO’s next flight

Satellite built by Indian university to be launched in ISRO’s next flight

Anna University becomes first Indian university to send satellite onboard ISRO PSLV
Bibhu Ranjan Mishra / Bangalore February 17, 2009, 12:35 IST

For the first time in the history of Indian space research, a satellite developed by a university in India will be launched by Indian Space Research Institute (ISRO) during the next flight of the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV). The launch vehicle tentatively scheduled for launch in March-April this year, will carry a small remote sensing satellite completely developed and fabricated by Chennai-based Anna University, sources in ISRO said.

Christened Anusat, the 35-kg micro satellite developed by the students and researchers of Anna University with some hand-holding from ISRO satellite centre in Bangalore, will be an additional payload in the PSLV flight which will launch Risat, a radar imaging satellite from the Sriharikota spaceport. The high-resolution pictures and data obtained from the IRS series of satellites are used for various applications such as drought monitoring, westland management, urban planning, mineralogical mapping, flood-risk management and management of National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) among others.

Brainchild of former Anna University vice chancellor R M Vasagam, who was also the project director of ISRO's first ever satellite 'Apple', Anusat is expected to encourage other universities and technical institutions to involve themselves in the complex process of satellite making. K S Seshadri, a retired space scientist from ISRO is playing the role of the moderator between ISRO and Anna University for this project.

Anusat carries a digital store and forward payload for amateur communication. A number of technological payloads like digital receiver and turbo coder, MEMS-based gyro and magnetic field sensor are also planned to be flown on board. ISRO has supplied the structure, solar panels, chemical battery, sensors and actuators, according to an ISRO statement.

In April last year, ISRO launched 10 satellites of which two were big satellites built by ISRO. The remaining eight were nano-satellites built by foreign universities including the Canadian University, Dutch University and one university in Japan.

"Anusat project aims at giving the students first hand knowledge about the complexities involved with building satellites. Even though it is quite novice as compared to ISRO remote sending satellites, the success of Anusat will definitely enthuse students from other universities and IITs to participate in future ISRO missions," S Satish, spokesperson of ISRO told Business Standard.

It is understood that IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kanpur are also in the process of building micro-satellites. The discussion however is in the initial stages, said the ISRO spokesperson.

Risat, the 1,780-kg remote sensing satellite planned to be launched from the Sriharikota spaceport will be a major break-through in the remote sensing project. The satellite which uses microwave payloads is capable of taking pictures in cloudy-weather and even in night.

"This will be a major breakthrough as far as remote sensing projects are concerned. So far all our previous remote sensing satellites were optical remote sensing satellites whereas the RI satellite will carry microwave payloads. It can penetrate through clouds and take photographs during night also. It has got all-weather and day-night capability," Satish added.

So far India had been procuring radar imaging data from Canadian Radarsat satellite on commercial basis. Other than being a costly proposition, the request for getting the radar imaging data of a particular place was also required to be sent well in advance.

Risat mission would have a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode. SAR has the unique capability for day-night imaging and imaging in all-weather conditions including fog and haze.

Towards the middle of the current year, ISRO is also planning to launch Oceansat, an ocean satellite using the PSLV from Sriharikota. The satellite will be an in-orbit replacement of the present version Oceansat satellite. The satellite will have an ocean colour monitor which will help identify potential areas for fishery.

Source Link: Business Standard