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Three Indian students among 15 finalists in global science challenge

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The Indian teenagers among 15 finalists are Samay Godika, 16, and Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, from Bengaluru and Kavya Negi, 18, from Delhi. 

 

Washington | Three Indian students have made it to the finals of the prestigious annual Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global science competition for teenagers to share their passion for mathematics and science.

The three Indian students are among 15 finalists of more than 12,000 original registrants from around the world who submitted engaging and imaginative videos to demonstrate difficult scientific concepts and theories in the physical or life sciences.

The Indian teenagers are Samay Godika, 16, and Nikhiya Shamsher, 16, from Bengaluru and Kavya Negi, 18, from Delhi.

The winner will be announced on November 4 in Silicon Valley and get a USD 250,000 college scholarship. The science teacher who inspired the winning student will get USD 50,000. The winner’s school will also receive a state-of-the-art science lab worth USD 100,000.

Nikhiya was the top scorer in the popular vote contest with more than 25,000 likes, shares and positive reactions for her video on spacetime and gravity posted on the Breakthrough Facebook page. Nikhiya will receive automatic entry into the final round of judging.

Nikhiya describes herself as an inventor and an innovator. She has a patent pending on a point of care, home-based salivary diagnostic test for chronic smokers to detect the risk of oral cancer.

“I conducted my study at IISC, Bengaluru and my diagnostic test has an accuracy of 96 per cent. It’s a simple product that a person can use at home and one test costs less than 50 cents, said Nikhiya, who is also the founderpreneur of an e-commerce website, 100 per cent of the profits of which are used to set up and fund Math and Science Laboratories in schools and colleges that don’t have any.

Her project is about 4-Dimensional Space-Time and Gravity. I would love to pursue theoretical physics, simply because it reveals many secrets of the universe. And of course, an important component of theoretical physics is math. I believe math is the language by which the universe speaks to itself, she said.

Kavya from Delhi believes that her video about Hawking Radiation might stand a chance to win because it showcases in-depth dive to the concept.

Hawking Radiation is a very feeble emission of particles near the event horizon of a black hole caused when virtual particles (created near the event horizon) escape, she said.

“I have been able to explain not just Hawking Radiation but also black hole explosion in three minutes,” Kavya said. Aspiring to be physics researcher as well as a science communicator, Kavya believes that scientists should be celebrated just as much as musicians, actors or sportsmen.  My vision is to see a scientific utopia which starts with scientific communication, she said. Samay, an 11th grader, in his project has explored various aspects of Circadian Rhythm.

“I first heard about Circadian Rhythm when it was in the news as the 2017 Nobel Prize-winning topic in Medicine. I zeroed in on this topic as it seemed to impact many facets of daily lives, including things like my asthma, the difficulty I face getting up early in the morning, etc,” he said.  Samay wants to pursue a formal programme in neuroscience.

“Our brain seems to be the most complex system in this world and the least understood. I am interested in building a solid foundation in this area. In parallel, I would also like to pursue a programme that allows me to formally learn Data Sciences,” he said. “This skill will equip me to model complex problems. A combination of neuroscience and data science skills could enable me to devise solutions for some of the most debilitating diseases faced by mankind,” Samay said.

Since its launch, the Breakthrough Junior Challenge has reached 190 countries, and the 2018 instalment of the global competition attracted more than 12,000 registrants, a media release said.

The contest is designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics.

The field was reduced to 29 semifinalists, which represented the top submissions after two rounds of judging: first, a mandatory peer review, followed by an evaluation panel of judges, Breakthrough said.

The 15 finalist videos were chosen by the Selection Committee, comprising among others: Salman Khan, CEO, Founder, Khan Academy; author and educator Lucy Hawking; Mae Jemison, science literacy expert, former astronaut, and Principal, 100 Year Starship; retired NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly; Nima Arkani-Hamed, Professor of Physics, Institute for Advanced Study and Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Laureate; and Rachel Crane, Space and Science Correspondent, CNN.

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All leads in global terror attacks ultimately leads to ‘single source’, says PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday told US Vice President Mike Pence that all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, in an apparent reference to Pakistan.

Modi, who held talks with Pence on a wide range of bilateral and global issues of mutual interests on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here, also expressed concern over the participation of terrorists in the elections in Pakistan.

Briefing the reporters after the meeting, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said there was some discussion on the issue of terrorism. Pence referred to the upcoming 10th anniversary of the deadly Mumbai terror attack on November 26 and hailed cooperation between the two sides on counter-terrorism, Gokhale said.

Some 166 people were killed in the attack carried out by Pakistan-based 10 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was caught and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.

Modi thanked Pence for his words and reminded him that in one way or another all the traces and all the leads in the global terror attacks ultimately leads to a “single source and single place of origin”, without naming any country or organization.

He was apparently referring to Pakistan. A number of terrorist attacks across the world have been carried out by people of Pakistani origin. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed in a mass shooting by a Pakistani origin married couple in San Bernardino, California.

A Pakistani-origin man was among three knife-wielding militants responsible for carrying out the brutal terror attack in London that killed seven people and injured 49 in June 2017.

Prime Minister Modi also expressed concern over the Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s party contesting the July 25 elections in Pakistan.

“He (Modi) did point out that the mainstreaming of people involved in the Mumbai attacks in a political process which has taken place in the recent elections in Pakistan should be a matter of serious concern not just to the two countries – India and US – but to the international community,” Gokhale said.

Some of the dreaded Pakistani militant leaders, accused of spreading religious hatred and instigating sectarian violence, were among hundreds of candidates in the July 25 elections.

Hafiz Saeed-led banned Jamat-ud Dawah, a front for the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, had fielded its candidates from the platform of little known political entity Allah-u-Akbar Tehreek (AAT).

Another extremist outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), which was banned in Pakistan till early this year, had also fielded dozens of candidates including those who are on Pakistan’s terrorism watch list.

“There was some good understanding of the areas of how we move forward in building cooperation on counter-terrorism and both countries recognized that this is a challenge which we have to fight together and to fight along with the rest of the international community,” Gokhale said.

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PM Modi meets premiers of Australia, Thailand in Singapore

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Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

 

Singapore| Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday held bilateral meetings with the premiers of Australia and Thailand and discussed ways to further strengthen ties, including in areas of trade, defense, and security.

Prime Minister Modi began his two-day visit to Singapore Wednesday by delivering his keynote address at the prestigious Fintech Festival.

He became the first head of government to address the world’s largest event on financial technology.

The prime minister held bilateral meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison and Prime Minister of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit here.

“PM Narendra Modi met with PM of Australia Scott Morrison on the margins of East Asia Summit in Singapore. Both leaders had a good discussion on deepening ties in trade and investment, defense and security and other areas of bilateral cooperation,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

“PM Narendra Modi met PM of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha on sidelines of EAS Summit. Cooperation in trade and investment, defense and security and connectivity were discussed,” he said in another tweet.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Modi’s meeting with Morrison was “fruitful”.

Modi also held bilateral meetings with global leaders, including US Vice President Pence and Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong.

During his visit to Singapore, Modi will attend the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-India informal meet, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership summit.

Before leaving for Singapore, Modi said in New Delhi that his participation in the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolized India’s “continued commitment” to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members and with the wider Indo-Pacific region.


Modi also said he was confident that his visit to Singapore would impart fresh momentum to New Delhi’s growing partnership with ASEAN and East Asia Summit nations.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization comprising ten Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational, and sociocultural integration among its members and other Asian states.

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Sri Lanka crisis: UN chief condemns President’s decision to dissolve Parliament

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Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former president Rajapaksa.

 

United Nations, Nov 11 (PTI) UN chief Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the nation’s Parliament, underlining the “utmost importance” of respecting democratic processes and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law.

Sri Lanka’s political crisis deepened Friday as President Sirisena dissolved the Parliament and announced snap polls on January 5 after it became evident that he did not have enough support in the House for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed by him under controversial circumstances.

The Secretary-General “learned with concern” Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Sri Lanka’s parliament and move to new parliamentary elections, a statement issued on Saturday by Secretary-General Guterres’ Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Guterres underlined the “utmost importance of respecting democratic processes and institutions and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law and due process.”

He renewed his call on the Sri Lankan government to ensure peace and safety for all the countrymen and uphold its commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation.

Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former president Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe, who dubbed the move as a “constitutional coup”, has refused to vacate his official residence, saying he is the lawful prime minister and that the president has no constitutional right to replace him.

Amid the ongoing political tensions in Sri Lanka, Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer last month met the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya stressing Guterres’ message for the need to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions.

Guterres earlier said he was following Sri Lanka’s deepening political crisis with “great concern” and called on the nation’s government to respect democratic values and constitutional process.

President Sirisena signed a gazette notification to dissolve the nation’s parliament with effect from Friday midnight.

According to the Gazette notice, nominations to contest the snap election would be taken between November 19 and 26. The election will be held January 5 and the new parliament would be convened on January 17.

Sirisena issued the gazette noticing that the parliament stands dissolved some 21 months ahead of its schedule in August 2020.

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