|City Montessori School, Lucknow|
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Let aside for days, if one is deprived of sleep even for 17 hours then one’s concentration, muscle energy, judgement, cognitive ability etc would reduce to a level that of a person under influence of alcohol. This condition is very common in present times, for which we should “blame” the inventor of light bulb, Thomas Edison. Before the invention of light bulb average person slept for 9 hours, whereas today owing to numerous factors like television, internet, 24×7 work culture etc, average person sleeps for about 7.5 hours.
Below are couple of examples of how deprivation of sleep can sometimes lead to grave consequences –
1) In 1986, at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Russia the experts conducting some important testing post-midnight were not in their best state because of their day-centric biological clock. As a result, due to their negligible inattention the nuclear plant exploded. A perfectly alert person would not have committed such an error.
2) In 1989, near the coast of Alaska state north of the US a giant oil vessel named Exxon Valdez was sailing. There was only one person operating it from the control room and he was on duty for over eighteen hours straight. Because of long stretch of wakefulness his concentration was wavering. As a result the giant vessel met with an accident and 40 million liters of oil was spilled over the ocean. For environmental harm as well as for negligence the vessel’s owner company had to pay 5.29 billion dollars in penalty.
Looking at the above two examples where hours of sleep deprivation caused gigantic disasters, one would find it hard to believe that the world record of wakefulness is in days. The record is official and unbroken for over fifty years. In the decade of 1960’s a 17-year-old youngster named Randy Gardner spent 11 days staying awake. He started the marathon by waking up at 6 AM on December 28, 1963 and went back to sleep not before January 8, 1964, going without sleep for 264 hours.
Treskilling Yellow (Wikipedia)
Longest trains (Wikipedia)
There have been many long duration Russian expeditions, mainly for studying effects of prolonged weightlessness on the human body. Weightlessness is the major problem with living in space. The space station crews have adjusted to living a weightless life without too much difficulty, but their bodies haven’t. Since the human body has evolved on Earth, it is made to work in conditions where gravity pulls on it. This is especially true in case of bones which need gravitational stress to retain their density replenishing lost minerals. During extended spaceflights, all astronauts’ bones have lost calcium and become brittle.
In the early days of manned spaceflight some American experts believed that men can not stay in weightless condition for more than nine months before their bones become so brittle that returning to Earth would be hazardous. This is because their weakened bones would not be able to support their body weight under normal gravity. The experts’ apprehension was unfounded – at least to some extent. Some Russian cosmonauts have remained in space for more than a year. They have stayed healthy on a diet of 3,000 calories a day and plenty of exercise on a cycle unit and treadmill. After coming back to Earth, however, they could not manage to walk properly for some days.
An opportunity to experience the taste and aroma of Kopi Luwak may certainly not be easily availed as its production throughout the world is hardly 230 kilograms. Moreover the cost mentioned earlier is 1000 US dollars per kilogram out of which 125 cups of coffee can be prepared. However, a single cup of Kopi Luwak is available for 50 Australian dollars (33 American dollars) in Australia and for 50 pounds (99 American dollars) at a coffee parlor in Peter Jones Departmental store in Britain. (As of year 2010)
Kopi Luwak (Wikipedia)
The construction is Osaka’s Kansai International Airport (photo, above). Japan constructed the airport within a period of five years and opened it for civil aviation in 1994. The runway, terminals and parking area as well as the approach road to Kansai airport have been constructed above the Osaka Bay on thousands of steel piles and more than 1 million concrete columns driven in the sea bed. This mega-project was taken up in order to restrict the traveling time between Osaka city and the airport to less than 30 minutes and only seaward direction was available for it. The meticulousness of planning is revealed by the fact that although there is only one runway the provision has been made for parking 41 airplanes.
Although the height of this construction is negligible, its length is 4.27 kilometers and width is 1.25 kilometers making its overall area 5.33 square kilometers. It was the most ambitious project since the construction of the pyramids besides being the most expansive – costing 15 billion dollars. In order to ensure flawless construction of the project technologically advanced Japanese did not hesitate to engage the services of the Italian architect named Renzo Piano and the British engineer Peter Rice.
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The era of high-speed trains was ushered in by electric-powered locomotives. It became possible to nearly double the speed of trains with these locomotives. Among such trains Japanese train named Shinkansen achieved legendary fame and became famous all over the world as Bullet train on account of both its shape as well as speed. When this train started playing on 500 kilometers Tokyo-Osaka route from October 1, 1964 many newspapers of the world reported the event on the front page as a revolutionary development. 208 kilometers per hour cruising speed of Bullet train was unmatched in the world and the technology that made it possible was unrivaled.
Current world record (as of January 2011) of the fastest railway train, however, belongs to state-of-the-art Japanese MAGLEV train (photo, above). MAGLEV is a short form of magnetic levitation. The speed record set up by this train is whopping 581 kilometers per hour!
Generally the life of a tungsten filament bulb is about 1,000 hour whereas this record-breaking bulb lighting up the parking area of Livermore fire brigade station still gives light (as of Jan, 2011) since it was put in the bulb holder in 1901! This bulb is kept on 24×7 and has been continuously spreading light for more than a century except for a brief interruption when it was removed and hung from another place.
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