Category General Knowledge


The supernova now known as SN 1181 was first observed between August 4 and August 6 in 1181! One of less than 10 supernovae in the Milky Way that was observable with the naked eye in recorded history, finding its remnant hasn’t been easy. A.S.Ganesh takes a look at SN 1181 and the mystery behind it….

A powerful and luminous explosion of a star is referred to as a supernova. In the Milky Way, there have been less than 10 instances in recorded history when a supernova has been observed with the naked eye One of those instances took place in 1181.

Between August 4 and August 6 in 1181, observers in China and Japan were able to stare up at the sky and see what they believed was an unusual bright star in the area that we now describe as the constellation Cassiopeia. They called it a “guest star as it appeared briefly for a visit in one area of the sky and then went away again.

The visitor, in fact, was visible in the night sky for over six months-185 days by popular accounts. We now know that these observers had witnessed a supernova, an event now referred to as SN 1181.

Numerous accounts

 Numerous accounts of this supernova have been found in Japanese and Chinese scriptures While a diary entry by a member of the Japanese imperial court in September 1811 calls it “a sign of abnormality.” another saw it as an “occasion for making auspicious offerings for a good harvest”

A Japanese history from the mid-1200s mentions that “A guest star was seen in the northeast. Among the Chinese. the 1345 History of the Song Dynasty states that “A guest star (ko hsing) appeared in Kuei hsiu and invading Chuan-she until the day keui-yu of the first month of the following year [Feb. 6, 1182], altogether 185 days: only then was it extinguished.”

Cosmic jigsaw puzzle

These and the various other accounts that mention this astronomical event serve as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle on a cosmic scale for today’s astronomers. This is because astronomers are tasked with the challenge of matching such historical accounts to real nebulae – the expanding cloud of gas left behind by a supernova.

For centuries, the remnant of SN 1181 remained a mystery. But over the last 50 years or so, candidates have been proposed that fit this particular puzzle.

The powerful tools and instruments at the disposal of modern astronomers were used in conjunction with the historical accounts to arrive at these results.

In 1971, 3C 58-a nebula hosting a pulsar, a type of rapidly rotating neutron star formed from the wreckage of a supernova-was proposed as the remnant of SN 1181. For more than five decades, astronomers have gathered new data and evidence, and posed more questions, but haven’t been able to prove beyond doubt that it is the remnant of the supernova observed in China and Japan in 1181.

Too old to be right?

3C 58’s candidacy has remained in question owing to a number of reasons. Observations in the past few decades estimate it to be more like 2,500 years old, as opposed to the 842-year age of SN 1181.. Additionally, 3C 58 was also found to be too static in the sky and way cooler to be linked to an event that took place in 1181.

In the last few years, another nebula called Pa 30 has emerged as a much stronger contender. Discovered in 2013 by amateur astronomer Dana Patchik while he was searching archival data from NASA’s Wide Infrared Survey Satellite (WISE), Pa 30 lies 7.500 light-years away in Cassiopeia

An interesting object

In the decade since its discovery. multiple observatories have studied it further and it has proved to be an interesting object. While a Russian team proposed that it was the remnant of a double-white dwarf Type lax supernova when revealing their results in Nature in 2019, a team from Hong Kong added further insights when publishing their results in 2021 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Pa 30’s age, as estimated by the Hong Kong team, was a much better fit for SN 1181. Further research has helped narrow down the age of Pa 30 to 844 years, plus or minus 55 years, which is nearly an exact match to the age of SN 1181. This means that Pa 30 could well be the remains of the star that the Chinese and Japanese saw in 1181 and the answer to a mystery that has remained for over eight centuries.

Picture Credit: Google

What are the benefits of puzzles in early childhood education?

Puzzles offer a wide array of cognitive educational, and personal benefits. They also help children develop patience persistence, and the ability to approach challenges methodically.

By solving puzzles, children enhance their critical thinking. problem-solving skills, creativity, and analytical abilities. Additionally, beyond their educational and cognitive advantages, mathematical puzzles have practical applications in various fields like cryptography, computer programming. engineering, and scientific research. Give yourself a challenge today and solve the two puzzles provided.

Picture Credit: Google

What parts of when we cease to understand the world are fiction?

Covering a spectrum of genres, from riveting mysteries to hitorical fiction, this article pays homage to the art of co-authorship and the remarkable stories that emerge from such dynamic creative collaborations.

Good Omens Recommended age: 12 and up                                                                        

Good Omens is a remarkable literary collaboration between two exceptional English writers. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. This imaginative novel is a labour of love that seamlessly blends their distinct narrative styles, humour, and wit into a captivating and unique story. Published in 1990, the story follows the unlikely alliance between an angel. Aziraphale, and a demon. Crowley, who have grown quite accustomed to life on Earth. As the impending apocalypse looms, the duo becomes unlikely allies in their shared goal to avert the end of the world. The novel’s charm lies in its satirical take on the forces of good and evil, exploring the complexities of human nature and the absurdities of divine intervention. Gaiman and Pratchett’s collaboration has yielded a humorous and thought-provoking narrative that delves into morality, friendship, and the cosmic battle between heaven and hell.

The Talisman Recommended age: 9-12

The Talisman stands as a shining example of collaborative literature, co-authored by two accomplished American writers, Stephen King and Peter Straub. This novel unites their distinct voices to create a mesmerising blend of fantasy and horror, offering readers a gripping narrative that showcases their combined storytelling prowess.

Set in a world that bridges reality and fantasy. The book follows the journey of a young boy named Jack Sawyer. Faced with the daunting task of saving his ailing mother. Jack embarks on a perilous quest through parallel worlds to find a magical talisman with healing properties. As he traverses dangerous landscapes and encounters both allies and adversaries, his determination is put to the test. The novel explores themes of loyalty, bravery, and the power of love.

The Personal Librarian Recommended age: 15 and up

The Personal Librarian is an interesting co-authored novel penned by American authors Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray. Based on the real-life figure Belle da Costa Greene, the novel delves into her role as the personal librarian to American financier J.P. Morgan. Against the backdrop of the Gilded Age (an era of flashy materialism in the U.S.) and the flourishing world of rare manuscripts and art, Belle navigates a world that is dominated by male power and privilege. As she expertly manages her dual identity as an African American woman passing as white, Belle must confront the complexities of her heritage, personal ambitions, and the price of secrecy.

The Personal Librarian is a rich blend of historical fiction and powerful character exploration, shedding light on a hidden figure whose contributions shaped the literary and artistic landscape of her time.

Beautiful Creatures Recommendedage: 12 and up

Beautiful Creatures authored by American writers Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, is a remarkable co-authored book that emerged from a playful dare. Friends before collaborators. Garcia and Stohl were dared by Stohl’s children to join forces SAMI GARCIA & MARGARET STORIL and write a book together. This casual challenge evolved into the creation of the beloved Beautiful Creatures series.

Set in the Southern Gothic town of Gatlin, the series follows Ethan Wate and Lena Duchannes, two teenagers caught in a web of supernatural secrets. ancient curses, and a haunting history. As their bond deepens, they uncover the mysteries of their families legacies and the magical forces that intertwine their fates. The series explores themes of love, destiny, and the struggle between light and dark. Garcia and Stohl’s collaborative effort has given birth to an engaging saga that keeps readers spellbound across four novels.

Best Night. Ever.: A Story Told From Seven Points of View

Best Night Ever A Story Told From Seven Points of View is a dynamic co-authored book that showcases the creative synergy of seven American authors Rachele Alpine. Ronni Ammo, Alison Cherry. Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone. Gail Nall, and Dee Romito. This collaborative work weaves together their distinct voices to create a multi-perspective narrative that offers readers a vibrant and engaging storytelling experience In this spirited tale, the authors skillfully interconnect the lives of seven characters who fit themselves linked through a seemingly ordinary middle school dance. As the night unfolds, readers gain unique insights into each character’s hopes, fears and aspirations. The diverse viewpoints highlight the complexities of friendship, crushes, and personal growth, all set against the backdrop of a single event that shapes their experiences. This book captures the essence of adolescence showcasing the authors ability to craft a cohesive narrative while honouring the individuality of each character’s voice.

Picture Credit: Google

What is habit 7 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People?

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers is a tailored guide that offers practical strategies to foster proactive and purpose-driven lives.


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey has been a part of our home library for as long as I can remember. During a recent trip to the bookshop, I came across The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers At first glance. I thought it was the same as Covey’s book. but upon closer inspection. I realised the differences. Since it is tailored for teenagers, I managed to convince my father to purchase it. During the last club meeting, the president shared his personal experience to highlight the importance of reading self-help books. Here are his thoughts as he expressed them

The first thing I did when we got back home was to get the book from the shelf and to look at both of them, as the title was similar. 1, then. noticed that they address two different sets of audiences and are authored by different persons. Opening the first page I saw that the latter is written by Covey’s son. Sean Covey.

Like father, like son was the idiom that crossed my mind and I remembered the fathers-and-sons duos. namely, Charles Dickens and Charles Dickens Jr., H.G. Wells and Antony West. Stephen King and Joseph Hillman King, and a few more, who take after their fathers. In fact, there aren’t many such duos, which puzzled me because we believe writing runs in the genes. If it were true, what happened to the centuries of Shakespeare’s family members or Mulk Raj Anand’s sons? There must have been a huge lineage of writers, but the reality contradicts. So, unique talents such as singing. dancing, drawing, writing. and so on, seem to be individual talents and hardly are they inherited. And even the sons listed did not parallel their fathers popularity.

The duo. Stephen Covey and Sean Covey, however almost matched each other, which compelled me to dig out the reasons for their successes. The obvious reason appears to be the son’s adherence to his father’s footprint. On the contents page. I noticed both of them are dealing with the same seven habits such as ‘Be Proactive. Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First. Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand. Synergise, and Sharpen the Saw.

Sean Covey, finding the overwhelming success of his father’s book published in 1989, realised that teenagers’ life and their challenges are varied from the grownups and decided to write this book ten years later. His father records the variations between them as. “Unlike my book on the 7 Habits, this book, by my son, speaks directly to teens in an entertaining and visually appealing style.”

Though their Paradigms and Principles exhibit similarities, they approach them differently. Let me illustrate their distinctions using Habit 1-Be Proactive as an example. Both stress its significance as it’s foundational, yet the way they explain it varies based on their audiences experiences and cognitive levels. They effectively relate the concept to their respective age groups. Sean Covey highlights the contrast between “two types of individuals in the world: the proactive, who take charge of their lives, and the reactive. who place blame.”

They, obviously, argue for being proactive, “I am the force. I am the captain of my life. I can choose my attitude. I am responsible for my happiness or unhappiness. I am in the drivers seat of my destiny, not just a passenger.” Both of them powerfully argues for becoming proactive, quoting real-life people they had come across Defining the characteristic features of being proactive Sean Covey states taking responsibility for ones own life and having a “can-do” against a “no-can-do” attitude He dismisses the misconception that proactive people are ‘pushy, aggressive, or obnoxious, but they are the ones who are ‘courageous. persistent, and smart

To transform people to become proactive they closely analyse the language that these two categories employ in their communication; the reactive people say, I’ll try and “I have to” but the other category contrarily says. “I’ll do it and choose to”. They persuade the readers to understand the meaningfulness of becoming proactive to craft a meaningful life.

I would without any hesitations state that these two books have a tremendous influence on me.

Picture Credit: Google

What are 3 interesting facts about Enid Blyton?

Enid Blyton’s birth anniversary was observed recently. Though the British author who has penned more than 600 books has been called out for racism in recent years, the magic she wielded over generations of young readers cannot be disputed. Let’s sift through the pages of six of her famous series.


The Secret Seven

The Secret Seven constitute a group of seven adventurous duldren who go about solving mysteries. They have their own set of rules. There is a shed with a door that has “SS” marked on it. This is where the children meet. One can access this space only through a password and one needs to wear badges as well. The group comprises Peter, his sister Janet, and their friends Jack, Colin, George, Pam and Barbara. They hunt for clues and solve mysteries and suspicious occurrings in their local community such as burglaries, cases of missing children and so on. All thanks to the Secret Seven, there are such societies all over the world formed by children inspired by the book series. The series consists of 15 books and the first in the series titled “The Secret Seven” was published in 1949. Time to form your own secret society, is it?

St. Clare’s series

The first St. Clare’s book “The Twins at St Clare’s” was published in 1941. Even today, the books are popular among the children. The plot of the book series revolves around the many adventures a group of girls go through as they navigate life in a boarding school. St Clare’s is a boarding-school for girls and our stories follow the twins Pat and Isobel O’Sullivan, who arrive at the school in the first book. The book follows them from first form and upwards and ends at the fifth form. Amidst midnight feasts, sports matches, exams, and fun and friendship, Enid Blyton weaves a bewitching story that can hook the young readers. Another similar series that you can check out is the “Malory Towers”.

Noddy Series

“The Noddy” series by Enid Blyton is famous to a point that Noddy is an icon. For many children. Noddy is the first character that introduces them to the author’s world. Noddy was created in wood by Old Man Carver. He then goes to Toyland and this is where the adventure starts. The many colourful characters in Toyland, a land that brims with towns and villages populated by toys, add charm to the series and makes it a wonderful read for kids. The first title “Noddy Goes To Toyland” was published in 1949.

The Wishing-Chair

Picture this. A chair which will fly you to wonderful places. The stories revolve around the adventures of Peter and Mollie. One fine day, the duo walk into an antique shop to buy a present for their mother’s birthday. But their lives change with just one visit. They acquire a wishing-chair which develops wings and flies them wherever they want to. They travel to many unique lands and interact with a multitude of vibrant characters who take the children as well as the reader on a journey laden with adventures. The first book in the series “The Adventures of the Wishing Chair’ was published in 1937. Pick up the book and traverse the Land of Dreams, Village of Slipperies and Land of Goodies, besides indulging in the exploits with the children.

The Famous Five

 The Famous Five is a mystery-solving gang of five siblings. They go about on a range of adventures. The famous five includes Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. They embark on an adventure every school holiday. The first book in the series was published in 1942 and the adventure began with the book “Five on a Treasure Island”. The book became a huge hit and Enid Blyton went on to write 20 more books in the series. Their adventures include finding hidden treasures, stumbling upon secret passageways, caves and so on as the children go about to catch the villains. Here, the children have absolute freedom as they solve mysteries, hopping on from one adventure to another.

The Naughtiest Girl series

There is a naughty girl in every classroom. The spoilt and defiant Elizabeth Allen is every bit the naughtiest girl you will encounter. Tired of her antics, her parents decide to send her off to a boarding school. That’s how the Naughtiest Girl series begins. The first book in the series “The Naughtiest Girl in the School” was published in 1940. Elizabeth hatches a plan to be very rude and disobedient so that the she will get kicked out of the school. But Elizabeth is in for a sweet surprise at the boarding school “Whyteleafe” which is unlike any boarding school one comes across. Join Elizabeth as she embarks on a whirl-wind journey and even starts to enjoy life at the school.

Picture Credit: Google

Which plastic plates are microwave safe?

Can you believe that we are swallowing plastic along with the food and drink we consume every day? But how do microplastics infiltrate our food? Read on to fund out..

Did you know that microplastics, tiny bits of plastic invisible to the naked eye are taken up by the roots of plants and eventually end up in the fruits and vegetables we eat?

Microplastics are everywhere. They have been found in Antarctica. buried in the sea ice and in the stomachs of creatures living in the deepest ocean trenches According to a recent study, there are around 24 trillion fragments of microplastics adrift in the world’s oceans.


Food front

The unpalatable truth is that not only are microplastics present in Earth’s water bodies they are on land too. in the soil in which we grow our food. In fact, we are swallowing plastic along with the food and drink we consume every day, including tra salt milk honey, sugar, vegetables fruits drut soft strides Tap water contains plastic and bottled water oven m The main reason why food crops airsorb microplastics is the use of sewage sludge as an alternative to chemical fertilizers by farmers. Sewage Since sludge contains sludge is left behind after a number of nutrients beneficial to soil it is used as organic fertilizer. wastewater is cleaned. Since it is costly to dispose of sludge and it contains a number of nutrients beneficial to soil, the sludge is used as organic fertilizer

From soil to food

Microplastics can remain in the soil for a long time. leaching harmful chemicals into it Ploughing also enables the plastic to reach areas where sludge is not applied in fact. scientists say that the amount of microplastic particles in agricultural soil is equal to what is found in surface ocean waters. Rainwater run-off containing topsoil and irrigation run-off also contribute in a big way to microplastic pollution in rivers, seas and in groundwater.

Research shows that crops absorb the particles from surrounding water and soil through tiny cracks in their roots. Most of the plastic collects in the roots with only a tiny amount travelling up to the shoots and leaves. Root vegetables such as carrots, radishes and turips may thus pose a bigger health risk when consumed. In leafy vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, the concentrations are very low.

A surprising finding is that microplastics can stunt the growth of and lead to weight loss in earthworms! Microplastics may clog up the earthworms digestive tracts, hampering their ability to absorb nutrients. It is a well-known fact that earthworms are important for soil health.

Though the impact is not fully understood yet, studies show that the chemicals added during the manufacture of plastics can disrupt the hormone-producing endocrine system and cause other health problems and diseases.

Some European countries have banned sludge on farmland, but that may not be the best solution. It may force farmers to use synthetic fertilizers. Depositing it in landfills or burning it also poses environmental hazards.

Worth of sludge

Also called biosolids, treated sewage sludge has elements such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which are essential for plant health. The U.S. and countries in Europe have used sludge for decades on farmland.

In Europe, it is part of an EU (European Union) directive to promote a circular waste economy. Around 10 million tonnes of sludge is produced annually, of which 40 per cent is spread on fields. Researchers estimate that due to this practice, 31.000-42.000 tonnes of microplastics could be contaminating European farmland every year. This works out to 86 million to 720 million particles of microplastics! About 650 million microplastic particles, measuring 1 mm to 5 mm in size. entered one wastewater treatment plant in the UK on a single day and almost all of these ended up in the sewage sludge. forming one per cent of its total weight

In the US, an analysis by an environmental non-profit group in 2022 found that sewage sludge had contaminated 20 million acres of cropland. The contaminants were PFAS in plastic products that don’t break down easily. They are termed forever chemicals

*PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances which are a group of man-made chemicals.

Picture Credit: Google

Suggested Posts