Tuesday, March 17, 2015

With World Cup fever on, these bats are selling like hot cakes

Few can miss the sight of cricket bats arranged on the footpath of Dr. Nelson Mandela Road in Bannimantap, near the arch gate entrance to Bal Bhavan.

Many passers-by, particularly cricket-crazy youngsters, stop by, hold the bats by the rubber grip on the handle and swing them for the kick of it. For prices ranging from Rs. 50 to Rs. 250 depending on the size, these hand-made bats made out of locally-available wood are preferred by many youth for their light weight.

A group of artisans from Anand in Gujarat make their annual visit to the city to make and sell these bats to wannabe cricketers. “We make a trip once a year before the onset of summer and stay put for around five to six months to make and sell these bats,” said Rajesh, who was selling the bats on Sunday.

Though he dropped out of school after eighth standard, Rajesh is updated about the progress of matches at the ongoing Cricket World Cup. “On an average week, all of us put together manage to sell around 40 to 50 bats, which are made out of neem tree wood. During vacations, we may sell more,” he said.

Fellow artisan Ganga said her husband procures wood locally and makes the bats, while she and her mother Savitha, who was polishing the bats with a brush, sell them. “Back in Gujarat, we make tables, chairs and other furniture items,” she said.

The artisans, some accompanied by young children, are staying in sheds behind the highway to Bengaluru on a rent of Rs. 1,000 per month. Ganga said her son Deepak, who studies in a school in Gujarat, misses classes when they are here.

“The school-going children of artisans are generally left behind in Gujarat with their grandparents. But, if the grandparents also come, the children can’t be left behind. They will, however, resume classes on their return,” Rajesh added.

Meanwhile, the World Cup and approaching vacations appear to have spurred the sales of cricket bats. “I have been buying one bat a year from them for the last three years. It is lighter than the branded bats made in factories and sold in stores,” said Ahmed, a high school student.

“The bat I bought two years ago is still good enough to play. Only, I have grown taller. But, the bat I bought three years ago turned out to be made of hollow wood and broke within a week. I only hope this bat lasts long enough,” Ahmed added.
source: thehindu

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Portable microscope detects bacteria using holograms

A cheap holographic microscope capable of detecting E. coli and other bacteria has been developed by researchers in the US.
The handheld device uses a laser instead of lenses to identify bugs in water, food or blood, and costs less than $100 (£60) to build.
Images can be uploaded to remote computers for further analysis.
Scientists hope the technology will improve healthcare in areas that lack sophisticated diagnostic equipment.
Details of the microscope - created at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - were published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express.
Micro 3D
The device has two modes of operation: a "transmission" mode which can analyse liquids such as blood and water, and a "reflection" mode which produces holographic images of denser surfaces.
"Transmission mode is great for looking at optically transparent things like cells or very thin slices," explained Dr Karl Ryder of Leicester University's Advanced Microscopy Centre.
"However, if you want to look at more solid surfaces, you can't use transmission mode, because the light wouldn't get through."
In reflection mode, the microscope used holography to create a 3D image of the sample being studied.
"You take a laser and you split the beam in two using a mirror. Then you use one of these beams to illuminate your sample," said Dr Ryder.
"You can then recombine these two beams using clever mathematics to build a 3D image of your object."
Cheap chips
A key advantage of the design is that it employs cheap electrical components instead of heavy and expensive lenses.
"There are no optics at all in this system. They've made it really small, and they're looking at small sample sizes, so you don't need complex focusing," said Dr Ryder.
Instead, the microscope uses digital photo sensors commonly found in devices like iPhones and Blackberrys. These can cost less than $15 each to produce.
Despite its price, researchers claim that the microscope can help to monitor outbreaks of difficult-to-detect bacteria such as E. coli.
"It's a very challenging task to detect E. coli in low concentrations in water and food. This microscope could be part of a solution for field investigation," said Prof Aydogan Ozcan from UCLA.
The device captures raw data, but its simple design means that processing needs to be done on an external device with more computing power.
A user in the field can forward the image data to their mobile phone, a laptop PC, or even upload it to an internet server.
Prof Ozcan believes the microscope could prove invaluable for medics working in developing countries.
"With just a small amount of training, doctors could use devices like these to improve healthcare in remote areas of the world with little access to diagnostic equipment."