Quartz : The ambitious plan to make India the new center of the experimental physics world

In 2016, a week after scientists in the US clinked champagne glasses to celebrate the monumental discovery of gravitational waves in February, an Indian physicist slowly paced across his office in Bangalore, sitting at his desk then standing back, bouncing around with nervous energy. Bala Iyer’s eyes flickered between his phone and computer, cycling between news sites, searching for the announcement he’d been waiting for over the past two decades. A few minutes later, an online alert finally put an end to his wait. The Narendra Modi government had given the green light for a massive project: the construction of a gravitational wave observatory in India.

Iyer couldn’t believe it at first. “I was still dazed, so I got my younger colleagues to reconfirm the news,” he says. But it was true: the Indian government “in principle” approved an estimated budget of $201 million for building an advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) on home soil.

Iyer’s dream to bring the experiment to his motherland began in the 1980s, when a small group of Indian physicists led by Sanjeev Dhurandhar first made the case for a gravitational wave observatory. The arguments were met with silence from the government and other organizations that might have had the power or deep pockets to make such a project happen. Without support or funding, Dhurandhar and Iyer went back to their research. In 1989, Iyer spent a sabbatical interning with renowned French theorists Thibault Damour and Luc Blanchet, working on calculating the nature of gravitational waves using Einstein’s theory of general relativity. He eventually became a part of the scientific group that, in 2016, detected the first gravitational waves on earth, an experimental proof of Einstein’s century-old equations.


Read more : https://qz.com/773335/ligo-india-plans/

Esquire Singapore : A Story Of Indian Girls Who Rose Past Their Scars After Being Defaced By Acid


"My attacker told the police that he still loved me and would marry me if I agreed. Why would I want to spend my life with someone who has cursed my will to live?"

On a sunny April afternoon, 28-year-old Archana Thakur shuffles her feet nervously while draping on a pink sari for a photoshoot. “I’m not really used to getting dolled up so much,” she mumbles, looking down at the ironed pleats. “My appearance has never really been my friend.” After a brief moment of hesitation, she turns around to look at herself in the mirror.  “It’s hard every day when you don’t know what you look like,” she says, touching her charred face gently. “But somewhere between the fear and the hatred, you learn to love yourself.”

Seven years ago, on a cold November day in her village in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Thakur was attacked in her own home by her neighbour. “He used to constantly harass me,” she says. “He kept asking me to marry him, but I kept refusing. I thought that he would stop eventually, but he didn’t. One day, he entered through the kitchen while I was working and threw acid all over me.” On hearing Thakur’s bloodcurdling screams, her father rushed to her aid, only to find her lying on the floor, writhing in agony. By the time she made it to the hospital, the attack had left her blind in one eye, partially deaf, with a melted face and skull, and arms that could only move slightly. “There was so much pus and blood everywhere,” she sighs. “I felt as if something was eating me alive.”

Read the web version here : http://www.esq.sg/lifestyle/culture/feature/acid-victims-in-india

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Olympic Review Spread : Leaping Forward (Women and Sport edition)

Sonali Prasad examines the ongoing fight for gender equality in sport.

When Great Britain’s Nicola Adams landed her final punch to win the first ever Olympic gold medal in women’s boxing at the London 2012 Olympic Games, it was a significant moment not only for the then 29-year-old, but also for many girls and young women across the globe. The inclusion of women’s boxing on the programme for London meant that, for the first time in the history of the modern Olympic Games, women were able to compete in every sport on the Olympic roster.

Two years later, at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, another milestone was reached when the IOC included a women’s ski jumping event for the first time. These were the latest in a long list of gender equality breakthroughs at the Games over the last century, with women’s participation on the Olympic stage growing steadily thanks to the continuous efforts of the IOC, in cooperation with International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). When women first took part in the Olympic Games – in Paris in 1900 – just 22 women competed out of a total of 997 athletes. Female participation has increased steadily since then. The Nanjing Youth Olympic Games set a new record with a 49 per cent women athletes’ participation level , a giant step that shows that parity is very close. The percentages of women Olympians at the London Games and Sochi Games – 44 per cent and over 40 per cent respectively – are also promising and the result of determined work over more than a century as the world moves to recognise the importance of providing sport to all. Over the years, the success of legendary female athletes at the Olympic Games – such as Babe Didrikson, Sonja Henie, Nadia Comaneci and Jackie Joyner-Kersee – have provided inspirational stories for women all over the globe, while the likes of Nawal El Moutawakel have helped break down barriers for girls across the world.

Read more of the print spread here : http://touchline.digipage.net/olympicreview/issue93/#46-1