Developing co-operative system in schools
You have already read of many programmes which are to be implemented
during this year by the government for the benefit of the education
The programme will teach the younger generation to associate with
each other in co-operation.
The co-operative system, which is to be jointly implemented by the
Co-operative Development Ministry and the Education Ministry, is yet
another such initiative.
Accordingly, arrangements will be made to establish and develop the
co-operative system as a new approach in schools. Education Ministry
sources described the goals of the programme as cultivating social
values which are gradually vanishing from society and teaching the
younger generation to associate with each other in co-operation.
The assistance of the Co-operative Development Officers will be
provided to the Provincial Education Directors to ensure the smooth
operation of the programme. The Co-operative Development Ministry and
its subsidiary institutes will also lend their support to the Education
Ministry to further this goal.
Bacteria don't follow '5-second-rule'
New questions have been raised about the "5-second-rule" regarding
the safety of picking up dropped food before bacteria latches on to it.
The first attempt to verify or debunk the theory was done three years
ago by US high school senior Jillian Clarke during a six-week internship
in the food science and nutrition department at the University of
Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
No wet foods were used in the experiment - just cookies and gummi
bears, and they did pick up bacteria before five seconds had
elapsed.Clarke's work was supervised by Meredith Agle, then a doctoral
She told WebMD she still uses the 5-second-rule."I still pick up food
off the floor," she said, "but I'm not in the susceptible (easily
affected) population," referring to the high risk of infection among the
very young, elderly or those with compromised (exposed) immune systems.
Clarke also conducted a survey in which people said they are more
likely to eat dropped cookies and candy than dropped broccoli and
First tsunami warning centre set up
There has been a lot of talk about the setting up of tsunami warning
centres after the December 26, 2004 tsunami which led to death and
destruction on a massive scale. The first of 100 such coastal early
warning towers was installed recently, on the second anniversary of the
Boxing Day tsunami.
The tower came up at Hikkaduwa, a popular tourist area that faced a
lot of damages in the tsunami. The 11.5-metre steel tower will have 16
loud-speakers connected by telephone with the country's main disaster
management centre in Colombo. In case of a looming disaster, these
loud-speakers will broadcast warnings.
The planned warning towers will be used not only to warn about
tsunamis, but also for other disasters, such as floods and landslides.
The opening of the tower coincided with the National Safety Day, an
effort launched by the government to promote safety by educating people
Rehabilitating former child jockeys
You may have heard of the issue of child jockeys. Although this
doesn't happen in Sri Lanka, it was widely prevalent in some Middle
Eastern countries where children forcibly brought in from poor countries
were forced to perform as camel jockeys during camel races. Not long
ago, there were reports of many Sri Lankan children too being abducted
to perform in these countries as camel jockeys.
The United Arab Emirates recently made the announcement that it has
set aside more than eight million dollars for the rehabilitation of such
children, under an accord with the UN children's fund, UNICEF.
The UAE Government has allocated 30 million dirhams (8.3 million
dollars) "to assure that all underage jockeys who were employed in the
UAE receive salaries and severance compensation," an official statement
Most cases involve children from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
It said the funds would also be used "for health care, education and
other services as appropriate through partners in their home
communities" over a two-year period to allow their reintegration into
the family and society.
More than 1,000 underage camel jockeys have been repatriated since an
accord was signed with UNICEF in May 2005 that has been extended to May
2009, according to the statement.
The accord banned the use of children under 16 or weighing less than
45 kilograms (100 pounds) for camel racing, a national sport in the
oil-rich Gulf states. The UAE now plans to use robots to race camels
rather than children.
European scientists to launch "planet hunter"
Paris, France: A French-led satellite project will be launched to
seek out new Earth-like planets beyond the solar system and to explore
the interior of stars, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.
The COROT project will send into orbit a telescope capable of
detecting planets smaller than is currently known - some maybe just a
few times the size of Earth and rocky, rather than the larger, gaseous
types, ESA said.
"COROT will be able to find extra-solar planets of all sizes and
natures, contrary to what we can do from the ground at the moment,"
Claude Catala, one of the researchers associated with the project, told
France Info radio.
"We expect to obtain a better vision of planet systems beyond the
solar system, about the distribution of planet sizes," she said. "And
finally, it will allow us to estimate the likelihood of there existing
planets resembling the Earth in the neighbourhood of the sun or further
away in the galaxy."
Planets have been found orbiting stars other than the sun, but they
have never been seen. Instead, scientists have deduced they are there,
based on the stars' "wobble", the result of the gravitational pull of
planets revolving around them. COROT, a project of the French National
Space Studies Centre in which ESA is participating, will be able to
detect smaller, rocky planets by using a different method.
It will measure the light emitted by a star and detect the drop in
brightness caused when a planet passes in front of it.
"Such planets would represent a new, as yet undiscovered, class of
world that astronomers believe exists. With COROT, astronomers expect to
find between 10-40 of them, together with tens of new gas giants," ESA
ESA said COROT would also be used to track sound waves that resonate
through a star, creating changes in brightness that should give
scientists a glimpse into the interior of the stars themselves. "These
create a 'starquake' hat sends ripples across the star's surface,
altering its brightness, it said.