Keshav Jain

Keshav Jain

What is the history behind QR code?

“Can you please scan the code,” is one of the most common phrases used during transactions in today’s digital world. QR codes are ubiquitous these days-in cafes, bazaars, roadside fruit carts, and even at pani puri stalls. A whole range of consumer and businesses have adjusted to the digital world that has brought QR codes back, especially in the last few years with the advent of the cashless economy. However, have you ever wondered who designed the QR Code and for what purpose?

The invention of the QR Code

Similar to the evolution of several technologies, QR Codes originated from necessity. In 1994, a Japanese company called Denso Wave invented the QR code, which was used to label car parts. The idea was to replace the numerous bar-code labels that had to be scanned on each box of auto parts with a single label that contained all of the data from each label, making it easier to keep track of the different kinds and quantities of car parts. Following that, there was an increased interest in more product traceability across the world, particularly in food and pharmaceuticals.

The International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) added the QR Codes to their list in the year 2000, giving it international certification. They rapidly understood the significance of the QR code and began using them in production, shipping and transactions. Later on, with the development of smartphones, there was no slowing in increasing the utilisation of the QR codes’ popularity.

How QR Code is helping the world?

Undoubtedly, using QR Codes to access websites, networks, and payment details is the quickest method. To get started, all someone has to do is scan the code and do not need to enter any URL.

Among the numerous advantages of QR codes are their increased sustainability and the ability to update information without having to print brand-new materials. They are also utilized to communicate information on leaflets, packaging, and store displays in addition to serving as mobile menus and facilitating contactless payments. Without requiring prior knowledge or financial education to utilise them for payments, QR codes facilitate the digital shift and provide a positive user experience. The three steps of starting an app, scanning a QR code, and entering an e-PIN are easy and fast. A digital revolution is endlessly possible with QR codes’ innovative and engaging way of bridging the real and virtual worlds.

Know how to create a QR Code

Interested in making your QR Code? Follow the steps given below:

1. Visit the QR Code generator on any browser

2. Insert your URL into the space provided

3. Customise your QR code if the generator provides the service

4. After customising and creating, download your QR Code

5. Use the QR Code for advertising, marketing and promotion

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What do Carnatic music and Jazz possibly have in common?

Carnatic music is among the world’s most widely and deferentially revered forms of Classical music; Jazz rose from the depths of folksy angst with the rebellious explosiveness that only liberal music could express and emancipate. Yet, they have many core similarities. 

 Ragas and modes

Carnatic music is a predominantly raga-based form of music. The raga is the overarching mood or melodic dialect underpinning every composition or performative piece. Every piece is set in a specific raga, defined as a set or sequence of notes and constructed by a latticework of idiosyncratic melodic patterns orbiting a defined Key.

Jazz plays fast and loose with the tonality of its pieces. Its pieces are also woven around melodic scales or modes. While it is rife with Key changes, Modal interchanges, and modulation, Jazz distinctly recognises the essentiality of scalar modes, and plays around with them rather than stick to the sacred script. Borrowed chords are returned with interest.


Dorian Mode – Kharaharapriya (Herbie Hancock’s ‘Maiden Voyage’; Tyagaraja’s ‘Rama Nee Samanamevaru’)

Natural Minor (Aeolian Mode) – Natabhairavi Dave Brubeck Quarter’s Take Five’;

Muthuswami Dikshitars ‘Sreeneelotpalanayike’)

Melodic Minor – Gowrimanohari (Joseph Kosma’s ‘Autumn Leaves’; Tyagaraja’s ‘Guruleka’)

lonian mode Shankarabharanam (Muthuswami Dikshitars ‘Sri Dakshinamurthe’; The Beatles’ ‘Let It Be’)

 Melodic and rhythmic complexity polyrhythms and polymeters

Rhythm is a crucial aspect of both the art forms, and not just in a casual way aimed to make the audience tap their feet along. There are many mathematical and arithmetic calculations that go into the composition and performance. Polyrhythms and polymeters are used intensively to spice up the experience of playing and listening.

The use of polymeter, a technique where beat cycles of different number of pulses are played over the same tempo and changes in the meter are introduced in the middle of a song, more than just once, is not so common in Carnatic music except perhaps in the Ragam Tanam Pallavi, a format that explores plaintive melodic patterns, coupled with onomatopoeic syllables, and lyricism. Polyrhythms, wherein different beat cycles and time signatures are played or rendered over one another at different tempos to achieve interesting syncopations and syllabic emphasis, greet you at every concert and ensemble session.

Fundament of canon and comprehensive study of standard compositions

Both forms have a rich tapestry of standard songs and canonical compositions that are rendered faithfully and studied in depth. In fact, Carnatic music ragas are supposed to be abstract musical entities but modern-day musicians often derive them from their formulations in songs and the way in which great pastmasters have rendered them. Not all 72 Melakarta ragas have the same representation in song form. Jazz standards form the basic repertoire of any jazz musician. Popular tunes from the 19th and 20th Centuries, their treatment over time has vested them with the gamut of jazz techniques and influences from adjacent genres such as the Blues, Ragtime, Swing, West African Music, and showtunes written for Broadway musicals.

Improvisation with methodical patterns

Ad-libbing, riffing, coming up with chordal and harmonic shifts and melodic lines on the spot, spontaneously dovetailing into polymetric rhythm structures all these are as basic as they are challenging for a jazz performer. Tunes are overlaid with alternative groupings of notes and pulses to enhance intelligibility and intrigue. Manodharma, scatting Besides the copybook renditions, the Carnatic music kritis rendered in a concert are appended with pockets of improvisation – the vocalist, melodic accompanists, and percussionists each get to eke out variances and build on on the main tune, generate complex filigrees and ornamentations, independently creating permutations of notes and pulses, all the while gelling together to keep the composition’s integrity intact.

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What’s the point of giving gifts?

University of Colorado Denver’s Chip Colwell – an anthropologist – explains this ancient part of being human

Giving gifts is a curious but central part of being human. While researching my new book, So Much Stuff, on how humanity has come to depend on tools and technology over the last 3 million years, I became fascinated by the purpose of giving things away. Why would people simply hand over something precious or valuable when they could use it themselves?

To me as an anthropologist, this is an especially powerful question because giving gifts likely has ancient roots. And gifts can be found in every known culture around the world.

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When food waste piles up, who are you gonna call?

Food is one of the biggest components of garbage produced by humans. Decomposing food emits methane, a gas that contributes hugely to global warming.

One might think that food thrown away by people can be fed to livestock. However, it is shunned by farmers, because it was found to cause infection in animals.

China has found a solution. Cockroach farms! Before you go “Ugh!” consider this: almost a billion cockroaches live in a plant run by Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Company in Jinan. They munch their way through 45 metric tons of food scraps in a day, waste that would otherwise have gone to a landfill.
Food collected from restaurants is cleaned of stray plastic, glass or metal pieces and ground into a mushy paste. The paste is piped into the cockroaches living quarters, which are kept dark, damp and warm. The insects flourish on the perpetual garbage buffet.

Dead roaches, a good source of protein, are crushed into food for farm animals such as pigs. Dried roach powder is also widely used in Chinese medicine, in skin creams to treat bums and to cure gastric problems.

In fact, the biggest farm in China breeds 6 billion adult cockroaches annually. Seven years ago, the farm in Sichuan was vandalised and a million roaches escaped and ran riot in the streets, sending people scurrying for cover. Now you can go “Ugh!”

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what’s phantom electricity?

 Do you always switch off appliances when not in use? Now, do you remove these from their sockets? Did you know that even when you have switched off the appliance, some of the appliances can consume power in standby mode? The phantom electricity or vampire electricity is just that. It is the electricity that some gadgets consume when they are in standby power mode or switched off.

Note that those devices that do not have clocks and dashboards do not consume vampire energy. An example of a device that consumes vampire electricity includes water coolers.

Nowadays the water cooler is always running and will require a large amount of energy. Other examples include vending machines, coffee makers, laptop chargers, microwaves, security cameras, televisions, surround sound systems, gaming consoles, washing machines, dishwashers, photocopiers, cordless landline phones, battery chargers, mobile phones, and so on. These devices consume energy 24/7 when they are plugged into outlets. While we may have to keep some devices left on or on standby such as the fridge, most appliances need not be.           

According to experts, vampire energy consumption can be around 40% of a building’s energy use. Some studies have found that more than 100 billion kilowatt-hours get wasted due to phantom electricity every year. Further, it can also produce some 80 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Residential waste and industrial vampire energy consumption are significant contributors to these emissions. The problem is with always-on devices. So the combined effect of the phantom electricity is much higher. Further, the percentage of phantom power use has burgeoned in recent years, more so because we have more appliances in our homes and industrial spaces. So all the devices combined, the loss of power through phantom load can be a significant amount. This means higher utility bills and more carbon pollution. Identify the devices that are invisibly draining the electricity in your home and cut down on phantom power usage.

Now what can you do if you aren’t sure if the appliance consumes standby power? Well, you can prevent this wastage of energy by just unplugging the device!

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How god be with you become ‘goodbye’

‘Goodbye,’ the universal send-off that slips off our tongues effortlessly, carries a history that’s as rich as a chocolate cake!

Ever wonder why we say ‘good morning, good night’ or ‘good day? It’s all about wishing someone well during a specific time. So, wouldn’t “goodbye” be saying I hope you have a good bye? It’s a tempting thought but it’s incorrect.

Back in the 14th Century, English-speaking people were fond of bidding farewell with a hearty “God be with you” when parting ways. Over time, linguistic laziness, or perhaps convenience, condensed these well-intentioned blessings into the much shorter ‘godbwye’ by the mid-16th Century.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word ‘godbwye’ appeared in print for the first time, noted in a letter by English scholar Gabriel Harvey in 1575. His poetic sentiment roughly translates today to “reciprocating your gallon of goodbyes with a half-gallon of howdies.” This evolution of ‘God be with you’ to ‘godbwye was as chaotic as a Shakespearean comedy! From ‘God be wy you’ to ‘good b’w y’ folks spelt it as they fancied. Even the renowned playwright William Shakespeare had his own spin on the word, using multiple variations across three of his plays.

And as for how “God” morph into “good”? It’s believed that this happened because 

people were smitten by the charm of phrases like ‘good day’ and goodnight already making waves since the 13th Century. Come the early 1700s, ‘goodbye’ emerged and gained the public’s favour to become the trendy areligious farewell we are familiar with today. While ‘God be with you’ remains a familiar phrase among the religious circles, ‘goodbye took the lead in everyday conversations.

Although ‘goodbye’ forged an areligious path, the religious link remains evident in many other languages. For example, in French, “adieu,” and in Spanish, “adios,” both directly translate to “to God.”

So the next time you say ‘goodbye to someone remember this word’s labyrinthine evolution through ages, spellings, and meanings, from divine blessings to areligious send-offs.

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What is the history behind pearl of the gulf?

The journey from Dilmun to the British

 Bahrain declared nationhood in 1971, shedding the yoke of colonial rule-first by the Portuguese and then by the British. Before all that. Bahrain- along with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia-was the centre for the Dilmun civilization, a contemporary of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Bahrain established itself as a monarchy in 1971, following independence. Sheikh Isa ibn Salman Al Khalifah was the first Emir (ruler or commander) of the country. In 1999, Sheikh Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah became the Emir. In 2002, he led the country’s transition into a constitutional monarchy

In 2011, during the Arab Spring, Bahrain also witnessed a public uprising. The uprising called for more political freedom and an end to the monarchy. But it was crushed through military intervention, with support from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The country enjoys the status of being a non-NATO US. ally.

A nation that turned adversity into advantage

Located in the Persian Gulf. Bahrain is an archipelago comprising 33 islands. Its name comes from the Arabic al-Bahrayn meaning two seas. It refers to the two sources of water in the country – the freshwater springs and the surrounding seas. The springs played an important role in the development of pearl oysters.

Over 90% of Bahrain is desert. The freshwater springs, which once provided drinking water for the country, stopped flowing in the 1980s. The country has very little arable land. Interestingly, the country also has little oil wealth. Despite all of these adversities, the tiny island nation managed to develop into a major economy.

Bahrain is among the five most water-stressed countries in the world. To overcome shortage, the country invested in desalination technology in the early 1980s, when it was still in its nascent stages. Close to 60% of the country’s drinking water needs are met by desalination plants.

As most of the desert land is uncultivable, the country forged trade ties with several nations, including India. Today, 90% of food consumed in Bahrain is imported. It has also taken advantage of the sea to become a major fishing hub.

Popular spots

Al Fateh is the grand mosque in Bahrain that is capable of accommodating 7000 people, and is one of the largest mosques in the world. It was built in 1988, with marble, glass, and teak wood. The dome of the mosque is made of fibreglass so that devotees can see all the heavenly glory from there. Bab-Al-Bahrain is one of the most beautiful markets in Manama having several stalls selling veggies and fruits, clothes, and crafts, and gold and pearls. Opened in 1949, the historical building is designed by the British advisor to the emir, Charles Belgrave.

The economic boom

Bahrain is among the top 20 richest countries in the world. Currently, the Bahraini Dinar is the second-highest-valued currency unit in the world. One Bahraini Dinar is worth over 220 Indian Rupees. But that tag did not come easily.

The country did not have oil reserves, but the country took up contracts for oil processing and refining from its neighbours, which provided a big business boost. It soon diversified into other areas as well – the biggest being banking and financial sectors. Bahrain’s capital Manama is one of the fastest growing financial centres in the world.

Another backbone of the country’s economy, for centuries, is the pearl industry. Bahrain is the first country in the world to ban cultured or artificial pearls. This has been a big boost for its pure pearl market. It is believed that the nutrients carried by Bahrain’s springs into the sea gave its pearl oysters a unique environment to produce high quality gems.

The pearls are prised from seabed oysters by divers. It is said that making a single string pearl necklace could take up to five years as the pearls have to be sourced from divers in batches. A larger necklace could take even 10 years to make and would cost around *20 lakh.

There are about 3,50,000 Indian nationals in Bahrain, making them the largest expatriate group in the country. Immigration of Indians to Bahrain started right from the time of Dilmun civilization and continued through the British period. While early immigrants were traders, the current generation of Indians in Bahrain work as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, bankers, managers, and other professionals.

PIcture Credit : Google

When money becomes worthless ?

Money cannot buy happiness, goes the adage. If you were living in Zimbabwe in the early 2000s, there were a lot more things that money could not buy. In fact, the currency was so worthless at one point that using it to make crafts or as toilet paper was cheaper than using it to buy goods with it. This was the era of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. Many countries have suffered from hyperinflation in the past, pushing their citizens to the brink of starvation. What caused the hyperinflation in Zimbabwe?

Excess money can be a bad thing!

Governments decide how much money they can print based on complex calculations. One of the important factors they consider during this process is the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In simple terms. GDP means the monetary value of all finished goods and services within a country. When a country is producing more. Its GDP goes up and vice versa.

Zimbabwe was under the control of an authoritarian leader called Robert Mugabe between 1980 and 2017. In the early 2000s, the country was spending more than it was earning as revenue Mugabe’s money managers came up with the not-so-brilliant idea of printing more currency to overcome the money shortage. This backfired.

How money works

The real wealth of a nation is not the money they print but the goods they produce and the services they offer- aka the GDP. Money is only an indicator of that wealth. So, when a country prints more money and distributes it to people, it drives up purchasing power-or the demand- while the amount of goods produced- or the supply-remains the same. Ergo, the cost of goods goes up, leading to massive price rise.

People in Zimbabwe, therefore, had a lot of money which could not buy them what they wanted. The government responded by injecting more money into the country. The consequence was so drastic that the prices were doubling every 24 hours. The rate of inflation reached an astronomical level- to 89.7 sextillion per cent per month! The government had still not leamt its lesson. It kept issuing higher denominator bank notes.

In July 2008, inflation hit its crescendo when the government issued a one hundred trillion dollar note (Zimbabwean Dollar). Its value. however, was just equal to 0.40 US dollars. In fact, the only time it fetched more was when it was sold as a novelty item on the internet. When inflation hit 230,000,000% in 2009, the country’s reserve bank declared the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

Savings vaporised

Hyperinflation had devastating consequences for the people of Zimbabwe. Life became a daily struggle. as prices of essentials such food, medicine, and fuel became higher than the bills being printed. Within weeks and months, the cost of a loaf of bread went from hundreds of Zimbabwean dollars (2$) to millions At one point, it touched Z$550,000,000 in the regular market and Z$10 billion in the black market. With people being unable to afford consumption. businesses started failing. Unemployment soared. The money that people had saved in their bank accounts vaporised due to devaluation and in buying essentials.

The bubble bust

Unable to contain the inflation. Zimbabwe decided to abandon its own currency and began using foreign currencies for everyday transactions, including the US dollar, the South African rand, and the Indian rupee. This, along with government reforms. helped the country stabilise its economy to a large extent. The inflation came down to 0%, but it did not last long.

In 2019, the Central Bank of Zimbabwe abolished the multiple-currency system and replaced it with the new Zimbabwe dollar, restarting the old problem once again. Earlier this year, inflation spiked to 175% before coming down to 77% in August. Zimbabwe’s real problems are not just with the currency, but with its low economic output, social indicators, and constant conflict in the region. The African nation’s experience is a good example to understand why printing more money is not the answer.

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Which was the cancelled mission that succeeded ?

On October 28, 1971. Great Britain officially entered the space race. becoming the sixth country to place a satellite into orbit using their own launch vehicle While the Prospero satellite had been successfully launched, the project responsible for it had been scrapped months earlier. A.S.Ganesh takes a look at a cancelled mission that still succeeded….

What were you doing when Chandrayaan 3 created history by landing near the south pole of the moon? This is one question that you might keep encountering throughout your lifetime. It is human nature to link associate and talk about what we as individuals were doing when something historic pans out.

These things however, are also a by-product of how we are made to feel about a particular event. For even when something historic takes place, it might not always create waves if there isn’t enough hype around it. The successful launch of the Prospero satellite is one such event.

The second half of the 20th Century was an exciting time in the space race. While the US. and the Soviet Union were at the forefront, the UK was only third to them in the field of rocket technology. Despite having a workable satellite launch programme and plans for human-based missions, it all came apart for Great Britain in a matter of years.

No fanfare

Britain became the sixth nation to place a satellite into orbit with a carrier rocket developed indigenously on October 28, 1971. Unlike the frenzy surrounding the success of Chandrayaan-3, there was little fanfare associated with it.

Even if we are to account for the half a century in between and the way in which news is disseminated with today’s technology and social media, what happened with Prospero would still be found wanting. While the American and Soviet space programmes of the time were being celebrated, Prospero’s successful launch was a low-key affair.

Black Arrow project

Regardless of how it was received. Prospero’s launch was a triumph. The scientists and engineers at the Royal Aircraft Establishment had been involved with the British space programme from late in the 1950s and all their skills had been invested on this satellite.

The Black Arrow project programme was a continuation of the U.K.’s missile defence programme. The first attempt to launch a satellite (X-2) was a failure in September 1970 as the second stage of the rocket failed to pressurise. With this literally being their last chance, the team based at the launch site in Woomera, Australia did everything with extreme caution. The Black Arrow rocket was launched on October 28, 1971 from Woomera and within minutes the Prospero satellite, manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation and Marconi, was placed successfully in a polar orbit.

Joy and regret

 The joy that the success brought was mixed with sadness for all those involved because the British government had cancelled the Black Arrow project three months earlier owing to escalating costs and funding coming to a standstill. The government had agreed upon one final launch attempt which resulted in Prospero’s success. With the government distancing itself from the project, there was little about the mission for the consumption of the public. It took two days for the news of the successful launch to reach the U.K. and even then it did not make it to the front page of most newspapers.

Transmits for decades

The 66 kg Prospero was a tiny device designed to test systems for future launches (that never came about) and carried a single scientific instrument. While the tape recorders it carried stopped functioning in 1973. Prospero transmitted a signal for over two decades and continues to orbit the Earth Just before the age of the commercial satellites began, the British government pulled the plug after having decided that space was largely a waste of money. Prospero is not only the first, but remains so far the only British satellite launched on a British-built rocket.

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Ever wondered what the cosmos smells like?

Well, wait, can you smell in space? It is a vacuum, right? The space is empty. And if you were out in space, you cannot risk taking off your helmet and try smelling the cosmos. Our noses wouldn’t work in a vacuum and doing so can lead to a casualty. But we do know what the space smells like. It is metallic.

Astronauts who have been abroad on the ISS have said that they experienced a metallic aroma on the surface of their spacesuits. They can’t smell outer space when they are floating in it. But once the astronauts were back in their space station and removed their helmets, they always said that there was a metallic aroma. Their suit, helmet, gloves, and tools would get permeated with this distinct smell.

Most astronauts have defined the smell as that of burning metal, gunpowder, ozone, seared steak and so on. The smell of outer space is important because it can tell us a lot about the chemical composition of our galaxy. There have been many theories concerning the distinct smell. Let’s learn more about the smell.

Probable explanations

One of the explanations for the smell of space is the chemical reaction (oxidation) that occurs in the spacecraft during re-pressurisation. Oxidation happens when the atomic oxygen (single atoms) clinging onto the spacesuit of the astronaut combines with the O2 in the cabin during re-pressurisation and make ozone (O3).

The other explanation is even more intriguing. It says that the smell is that of dying stars! A lot of energy gets released when a star dies. As a result of this process. Many pungent compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are created and these float around in the universe. The PAHS when combined with air within the spacecraft may be responsible for the unique smell.

NASA’s perfume

Did you know that NASA tried to recreate the smell of space? This happened in 2008 when the space agency contacted chemist Steve Pearce to recreate the smell. It took him four years to come up with the smell. It was used for astronaut training purposes and to get the astronauts accustomed to the smell of space beforehand. Later, a perfume was released in the public domain by the chemist’s company using the formula. The perfume christened “Eau de Space” mimicked the smell of space.

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