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Top 10: Crazy Theories About The Universe That Were Proved True

No.10 - Round Earth
This is an idea that is fully accepted by most people, but it was not always held with such certainty. While it is a misconception to think that most people believed in a flat earth well into the early modern period, it was certainly a commonly held belief in early Chinese thought, and it was not until the great Greek mathematicians that Europeans started to accept the spherical earth theory. Pythagoras is the man most commonly associated with the idea, but it was really only in the Renaissance, and the beginning of voyages that circumnavigated the earth, that his ideas became proved beyond all doubt.

No.9 - Perturbation theory and the existence of Neptune
Sir Isaac Newton’s laws on gravity allowed him to calculate the orbital paths of the planets of our solar system. We won’t try to explain the math; it's way over our heads, but when Newton’s theory was tested, the orbit for Uranus was inaccurate. It was proposed in 1843 that an invisible planet was causing this disturbance -- or perturbation -- of Uranus’s orbit. Only in 1846 was Neptune finally recognized, within one degree of the mathematical predictions for its location. To suggest an extra planet which no one had ever noticed before may have seemed far-fetched, but turned out to be remarkably precise.

No.8 - Comets being a celestial phenomenon
For centuries, comets were seen as dire predictions of things to come. Halley’s Comet appeared before the Battle of Hastings in 1066. But what they actually were was again the work of Aristotle, who suggested that they were spontaneous combustions of gas in the upper atmosphere. While this view was popular among many, the Roman writer Seneca the Younger was the first to challenge this view, suggesting that they were a celestial phenomenon. It was Tycho Brahe, the preeminent observational astronomer, who proved that they must in fact exist way beyond the moon, in space.

No.7 - The expanding universe
The size of the universe is one question that, as of yet, has no answer. It was suggested by no less a figure than Albert Einstein that the universe was of fixed dimensions, and became known as the Cosmological Constant. In 1929, a man named Edwin Hubble (you may have heard of him) observed that the universe was expanding, due to the fact that objects moving away from earth appeared in the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Hubble’s Law, as it became known, transformed the perception of the universe as being static, and blew the question of its size wide open.

No.6 - Atoms
The word atom derives from a Greek term meaning something that cannot be divided, and therefore reckoned to be the smallest particle possible. It was undoubtedly strange, going against the widely accepted notion that all things were made up of the four elements -- earth, wind, water, and fire. The likes of Leucippus and Democritus held that all things had the same building blocks, which were simply rearranged to form different objects. While it took centuries for the scientific community to prove the idea, it is now a cornerstone of scientific thought.

No.5 - Quarks
If the idea of an atom seemed crazy -- being so minute it was undetectable for centuries -- imagine how it would seem to then talk about an even smaller, subatomic particle. Described as an “elementary particle,” quarks are believed to be constituent parts of atomic particles (i.e., protons, neutrons and electrons). When the idea was introduced in the 1960s, it was seen by some as merely an abstract concept to help explain things we didn’t understand. Over the following decade, further research and mounting evidence supported the quark model, finally convincing people of its validity.

No.4 - Tycho Brahe and the "stella nova"
Since antiquity, men believed that the universe beyond the moon was fixed and unchangeable (a theory known as celestial immutability). In 1572, a very bright star suddenly appeared in the sky. Because of this notion of celestial immutability, it was believed by many observers to be something happening in the atmosphere, or somewhere between the earth and the moon. Tycho Brahe went against the accepted wisdom of his age, believing it to be a new star. We now know that what he witnessed was a supernova, and his assertion that the universe was in fact mutable is now beyond doubt.

No.3 - Black holes
Imagine being the first person to hear the idea that in space there were these objects that were so dense and had such a strong gravitational pull, that nothing could escape from them, not even light. The idea was first proposed in 1783, by a geologist no less, which made it seem even less plausible. Over the years, the mathematics gradually reached a point where the idea of black holes is widely accepted. Astronomical observation has also added weight to the argument, with phenomena such as gravitational lensing and gamma ray bursts seeming to indicate their presence.

No.2 - Heloicentric solar system
Narrowly missing out on the top spot, the idea that the earth revolved around the sun, rather than vice versa, was one of the most controversial astronomical theories ever. First espoused by Nicolas Copernicus, who knew how controversial the idea was, it was echoed by Galileo Galilei, who spent 10 years under house arrest because of his beliefs. Seen as heretical and “contrary to scripture” the heliocentric solar system went against the geocentric view that held sway at the time. Only in the 18th century were texts in support of heliocentricism finally removed from the church list of banned books.

No.1 - The Big Bang
Appropriately, the biggest question of all, the birth of the universe, claims the top spot. No one knows for certain how the universe started, but this theory built upon the expanding universe idea, which suggested that at some point everything was much closer together. It is now supported by the majority of scientists, and there is a huge body of evidence to support it.

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Think Before Selecting Toys For Your Kids

What is the most dangerous non-edible consumer product in Europe today? Look in your child's playroom. According to a 2007 European Commission report, the number of notifications for 'toys' were more than double that for 'motor vehicles' or 'electrical appliances'.

Toys can be risky because some of them contain toxic chemicals like lead and have unsafe design and bad finishing, like sharp edges. Most of these come from China - the largest global producer of toys.

In January, Newsweek reported China and India as the world's leading economies. However, both countries face compelling systemic problems when it comes to product quality.

China was also involved in a contaminated milk case. Around the same time, the US Food and Drug Administration decided to ban import of over 30 medicines produced by Ranbaxy India.

The reason: unsafe manufacturing conditions. How is it that Indian inespectors can never find any fault with such products? Perhaps we need to accept that emerging economies like China and India cannot adopt the standards of advanced economies overnight.

So, while Japan could refuse Chinese food imports and the US could reject drugs manufactured in India, what can India do about Chinese toy imports? Ban them? India did exactly that on January 23. But the six-month ban wilted under China's threat to drag India to the World Trade Organisation.

As a countermeasure, India has put in place international safeguards. Now toys entering India will require certification from accredited laboratories.

As a macroeconomic measure, this is fine. This will help China to conform to international standards.

However, this tactic is of limited strategic use. China's true competitive advantage lies in producing toys cheap (it has 70 per cent share of the global toy market).

India must consider microeconomic countermeasures, firm by firm. A positive engagement with Chinese toy manufacturers will be the most mutually beneficial.

Indian businessmen should start diversifying their toys suppliers within China. Competition among them will generate better quality.

Then, an association of Indian toy importers could take charge of the supply chain by forming joint ventures or starting toy factories in China. This way, India could help China grow and also ensure the health of our children.


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The Best Pet for Your Sign

With spring in bloom, it's a great time to get that special pet with whom to forge a unique bond. All astrological signs get along with most pets, but if you want to find the ideal pet that suits your sign the best, read on.

These bold and energetic ones of the Zodiac need a pet that can keep up with them through all their adrenaline-pumping activities. An Irish Terrier fits the bill perfectly. They are courageous and active dogs, affectionately referred to as "the daredevils of the dog world" by fanciers of the breed. Serving as messengers and sentinels during World War I, these dogs will fearlessly accompany an Aries on adventurous treks.

Aesthetically aware and highly tactile, Taureans will enjoy a pet that is cute and oh-so-cuddly. Pomeranian dogs are sure to delight. Their soft, fluffy coats need regular brushing and grooming, something a Taurus, who appreciates beautiful hair, will enjoy. Poms are highly intelligent, easily trained, and very friendly - all traits that will appeal to a sensible Taurus. Poms will get attached to their owners and may follow them everywhere, which suits steadfast Taurus.

What better companion for these chatty intellects than a pet with cognitive abilities that can chatter? An African Grey Parrot is sure to inspire the Gemini mind. These birds belong to one of the most intelligent parrot species and possess the ability to develop a large vocabulary and communicate efficiently with their owner. They become easily bored and thrive in a stimulating, interactive environment. Geminians will find no lack of intellectual stimulation with these clever birds.

Cancers feel their way through life and, for emotional gratification, prefer a small pet they can hold, caress, and care for. Hamsters are cute, clean, and a joy to take care of. Like a Cancer, a hamster is happiest in a comfy, spacious home. Hamsters eat a variety of foods, and Cancers will have no trouble feeding them from their well-stocked kitchen. A litter of baby hamsters will satisfy a Cancer's maternal and nurturing instincts.

A superb yet playful pet would melt the heart of a Leo because Leos are regal at heart and lovers of extravagant beauty. Siamese cats are sleek, lively, and entertaining, which allows them to capture the interest of a Leo easily. Ownership of a Siamese cat was restricted to the members of the royal family in ancient times, making the cats quite fitting for Leos today. Above all, they are loving cats who like to be at the center of attention. A Leo will never become bored with one of these magnificent pets.

Virgos, who are very clean and often picky perfectionists, demand the best. The Bernese Mountain Dog satisfies all of a Virgo's high standards. These dogs are remarkably clean and are bred to be friendly and obedient servants. They are very easy to train and want to please as much as possible. This dog will gladly accompany a Virgo who donates time and services to a worthy cause and happily pitch in. Virgos will love working side-by-side with these diligent, loving dogs.

Charming and poised, Librans with their refined tastes are happiest surrounded by exquisite beauty and harmony. The Peach-faced Lovebirds would make a lovely addition to a Libran home. The name "Lovebird" stems from these parrots' strong, monogamous pair-bonding, which Libra will appreciate. They are very social birds and are sure to be a hit at the many parties thrown by a Libra. With lots of love and attention, Lovebirds can become cherished companions, often snuggling up to or preening their owners, thus keeping Libra enamored.

Intense and inquisitive, Scorpios are fascinated by the darker side of life and often prefer quiet companionship from a pet. Spiders are a pet sure to thrill. Since a spider is a relatively low-maintenance pet, a Scorpio owner can spend hours enthralled watching the interesting existence of a spider. Spiders require little to no socialization, which suits typically introverted Scorpio just fine. A sensual spider housed in a stimulating terrarium will provide a striking scene in a Scorpio's life.

Sagittarians are warm, enthusiastic, and vigorous, and they are looking for similar traits in a large, noble pet. Great Danes hit the mark with flying colors. The Great Dane's substantial and imposing appearance belies its friendly nature, and the dog is often referred to as a gentle giant. As pets, they are full of energy and need regular walking, which fits in well with the sporty lifestyle of Sagittarius. Robust, alert, and agile, a Great Dane will keep a Sagittarius owner active and in high spirits.

Ambitious and practical, Capricorns thrive with a pet that is a disciplined over-achiever. The German Shepherd's strength, intelligence, and obedience will allow it easily to meet Capricorn's goals. With a willingness to learn and an eagerness to have a purpose, the German Shepherd will flourish in the training of Capricorn's firm hand. Self-assuredness and loyalty are traits that will solidify its stature in a Capricorn's life.

With a unconventional, cool, and detached nature, Aquarians want a pet that is unique and not too demanding. Iguanas are right up their alley. They're stunning to view, show distinct personalities, eat greens (which are generally easier to provide than live food), and are very popular. A well-handled iguana is friendly and can keep itself amused for hours with plenty of sun and areas to climb. An iguana and an Aquarius will be best mates for years to come.

Pisceans are often looking to escape the daily grind of life with a magical and captivating experience. Tropical, colorful fish in a scenic aquarium are the pets to provide Pisces with such an encounter. Tropical fish come in an assortment of bizarre shapes and colors that are sure to enchant the treasured space of a Pisces. The bubbling water, luminous colors, and swimming fish all combine to give a Pisces a wonderful getaway within the home.


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Why We Celebrate Republic Day

We know that we celebrate Republic Day on January 26. But sometimes, we may forget why.

It is the birthday of the supreme law of our nation, the Constitution of India, which was passed by the Constituent Assembly on January 26, 1949, and came into effect on January 26, 1950. It contains our self-image, our worldview and our intentions towards one another and non-Indian people.

It's profoundly moving to read the Preamble and the Articles that detail our fundamental rights and duties and the directive principles of our nationhood. Though salted by now in scripture, I find that my heart leaps with a special thrill each time I happen to read something in the Constitution.

I truly rate it as all the scripture we ever need, for leading our lives with goodwill and a sound work ethic. Essentially, the Constitution seems to be about space and responsibility.

We are meant to give each other plenty of space and ensure a fair availability of skillsets and life-enabling facilities. Beyond that, there has to be room for individual merit.

The Constitution says we're to have physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual space, by which we are empowered to take a fair shot at making our lives happen. If I had to pick a mudra or coded handsign to represent the Constitution, I'd do a Namaste.

A Namaste, says, "I salute the Me in You, which both spring from the One." We're acknowledging our connectedness as human beings and also our space in the vaster scheme of things.

The old ones sensed a greater Energy everywhere and in themselves, but couldn't get a fix on it. "Neti, neti, neti" (Not this, Not this, Not this,") they said in a process of elimination.

So what was 'It'? The Constitution does a good job of trying to answer that question. It gathers up much that is good and worth keeping in the history of thought and tells us what our lives as modern Indians should be like.

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