schoolchildren about aviation
by Ananda KANNANGARA
The importance of teaching aviation to school children and
introducing an aviation degree into the university curriculam was
highlighted by the Minister of Civil Aviation, Minister Priyankara
He said that as there was a severe dearth in experts in the field
today, the time has come to pave the way to produce more experts in the
industry by introducing the subject to the younger generation.
The Minister said that he has already forwarded the proposal to
introduce a degree on aviation at the universities to the Minister of
Higher Education S.B Dissanayake with the aim of educating the students
as early as possible.
Referring to the Ministry's newly launched website 'Guwansara'
Minister Jayaratne said the objective of launching the website was to
familiarise students on travel and aviation.
He added that there will be a great demand for more professionals in
the future as the Government has taken measures to upgrade the existing
airports in various ways such as by improving runways to facilitate the
landing of all types of international aircraft. Steps have also been
taken to open a second international airport at Maththala to increase
the number of flights and destinations,he said.
The Minister pointed that once the aviation degree is introduced
students could serve the country's aviation industry after they obtained
a degree at the university .
He said that the education authorities should focus special attention
on educating schoolchildren on aviation because they would be called
upon to play a key role in the industry in the future as experts.
Beware of drinking
bottled soft drinks exposed to strong sunlight
With three child deaths already reported in just two months-February
and April,following the consumption of bottled soft drinks, the Colombo
Municipal Council (CMC) has warned the public to be cautious especially
when consuming soft drinks exposed to sunlight.
The Chief Medical officer of the CMC ,Dr.Pradeep Kariyawasam has
highlighted the risk factor in drinking bottled soft drinks that have
been kept out on the pavements outside of shops by some vendors,exposed
to the strong sun.According to him there is a possibility of harmful
chemical substances forming in these soft drinks when the exposed
bottles react to the sunlight.
This could lead to health hazards which could be even fatal
especially for young children.
He said that it is against the Food Act to leave food exposed to the
elements and stern action would be taken against vendors who violate the
act in the future.
Children need to be cautious about the type of drinks they buy to
quench their thirst as some of the drinks available in the market
today,especially in wayside boutiques may not be up to required
Beetle foot pads may inspire novel
The arrays of fine adhesive hairs or 'setae' on the foot pads of many
insects, lizards and spiders give them the ability to climb almost any
natural surface. Research by James Bullock and Walter Federle from the
University of Cambridge in England found that the different forces
required to peel away these adhesive hairs from surfaces are what allows
beetles to adhere to diverse surfaces, thereby reducing the risk of
Their study, published in the Nature of Science, reports the first
adhesive force measurements from single microscopic setae in a live
animal.The adhesive hairs on the feet of leaf beetles are known to take
three distinct shapes; pointed, flat (spatula-tipped) and disk-like.
They are arranged in specific patterns across the beetle's feet,
indicating different biological functions for each hair type.
Given their small size (only 1/200th of a millimeter across), there
existed no way to determine their individual properties. Bullock and
Federle therefore devised a method for measuring the processes of
stickiness of each hair using a fine glass cantilever. By observing the
deflection of the cantilever through a microscope, the force needed to
detach each hair was calculated.
Results in male beetles showed that the disk-like hairs adhered with
the highest force, followed by spatula-tipped and then pointed hairs.
Disk-like hairs were also stiffer than either flat or pointed hairs,
likely providing stability to the pad.
Bullock and Federle suggest that it is these disk-like hairs in
particular which allow male beetles to achieve strong adhesion on smooth
Before these natural structures can be replicated as synthetic
adhesives, a better understanding of their detailed function is needed.
The authors conclude, "The question of how forces in natural adhesive
systems run from the single-hair to the whole-animal level is a central,
unresolved problem. Its understanding will be a prerequisite for the
design of bio-inspired synthetic adhesives.
Promoting dental health through art
Two drawings from the Under 5 and Under 8 years categories
With the objective of promoting dental health care among children the
doctor-in- charge of the Maharagama Oral Health Institute, Dr. Prasanna
Jayasekera had organised a special art programme for children under 10
years who come to the institute for treatment, with the assistance of a
veteran art teacher, Lalith Gunathilaka.Art therapy is the method used
at the institute not only to eliminate the fears of children who come
there for dental care, but also to educate and train them on good dental
Nearly 400 children below 10 had participated in this programme and
the best 150 drawings had been exhibited at the institute recently. All
the participants were rewarded with gifts and certificates.
Pix and text: W. Piyathilake,
Maharagama Special Corr.