Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration held in the United States and in other western nations celebrating with African communities.  Every year Kwanzaa is celebrated from December 26 – January 1st honoring the African custom in African- American Community.

Kwanzaa Celebration

People light a Kinara – which is a candle holder with seven candles and distribute gifts to each other.  It was first celebrated in 1966-67 by its creator Maulana Karenga.

Kwanzaa means “first Fruits”, Karenga said the word Kwanzaa is extracted from the Swahili phrase.  Swahili is a Bantu language and the phrase he denoted is “matunda ya kwanza” which means “first fruits of the harvest".

People celebrate Kwanzaa in their own way but they often include singing and dancing.  Everyone gathers at one place and celebrate this day by telling stories, poetry, playing African drums, and having a large traditional meal.  Given by its creator Maulana Karenga (generally called as Nguza Saba) Karenga mentioned that Nguza Saga or the seven principles of Kwanzaa are the best African practices and thoughts in continual give-and-take with the world.

The Seven Principles

  • Umoja (Unity): To do your best for and to preserve unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination):  To describe and label ourselves, in addition, to producing and voice for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility):  To shape and preserve our community composed and craft our brothers' and sisters' difficulties problems our difficulties and to resolve them collectively.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics):  To maintain and construct our own businesses and to attain revenue from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose):  To make vocations collectively the constructing and rising of our community in order to reestablish traditional prominence.
  • Kuumba (Creativity):  Always do whatever you can, in order to make our tradition more gorgeous and valuable.
  • Imani (Faith):  To trust with all our hearts in our parents, our leaders, our teachers, our people,  and the morality and triumph of our struggle.

The symbols of Kwanzaa include mat (Mkeka), Mishumaa Saba (seven candles), a Kinara (candle holder), Muhindi (corn), mazao (crops), a Kikombe cha Umoja (unity cup) and giving shukrani (thanks) to African Ancestors, and Zawadi (gifts).  Other symbols include black, red and green flags (bendera), books and other African artwork which resemble the African culture unity and reinforcement.

How to Observe

Families, who observe Kwanzaa wear African cloths (kente), decorate their houses with African artifacts and fresh fruits,  which represent African tradition and culture.  Parents make their children to participate in the celebration to honor their ancestors.

The ceremony also includes music such as playing drums, performances by various artist, candle-lighting rituals, reading the African pledge and a feast (karamu).

Cultural exhibitions held at the John F. Kennedy Center include the Spirit of Kwanzaa, interpretive dance, songs and poetry and African dance.

Kwanzaa and its Popularity

According to the survey done by the National Retail foundation USA in 2004, it is found that 4.7 million people had planned to celebrate Kwanzaa.  In a 2006 speech Maulana Karenga mentioned 28 million celebrate Kwanzaa.  In 2009 the African-American cultural center had claimed 30 million people celebrated Kwanzaa.

Celebration has also spread across Canada, where their black Canadian population started celebrating Kwanzaa.  Similar celebration is also observed in Brazil.


Rosetta Spacecraft Mission Ends

The Rosetta is a spacecraft built by the European Agency. It was launched on March 2, 2004.  Along with Philae, its Lander performed a detailed study of comet 67P- Churyumov Gerasimenko (67P). During its journey to the comet, it flew by Mars and the asteroids 21 Lutetia and 2867 Steins.

The spacecraft reached the comet on August 6, 2014, and performed a sequence of maneuvers to be captured in its path. While on November 12, its Lander section Philae performed was the first successful landing on a comet, although its battery power was low and ran out two days later. However the communications with Philae were briefly restored in June and July 2015, but due to diminishing solar power, Rosetta's communications module with the Lander was turned off on July 27, 2016. On September 30, 2016 the Rosetta finished its mission by landing on the comet in its Ma'at region.

The probe is named after the Rosetta Stone, a stele of Egyptian source featuring a declaration in three scripts. While the Lander was named after the Philae obelisk, that bears a bilingual Greek and Egyptian hieroglyphic inscription.

The Mission

Rosetta Spacecraft Mission Ends

Rosetta was launched on March 2, 2004, from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket and it successfully landed on Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko on August 6, 2014; which became the primary spacecraft to orbit a comet. There were many missions conducted successful flybys of seven other comets, but this was the one of ESA's Horizon 2000 keystone missions. This spacecraft consisted of the Rosetta orbiter, which featured 12 instruments, and a Philae Lander, with nine added instruments. The Rosetta mission orbited Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko for seventeen months and was designed to complete the most thorough study of a comet ever attempted. This spacecraft was controlled by the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC), in Darmstadt, Germany. The planning for the mission of the scientific payload, jointly with the data recovery, calibration, archiving and sharing, was also performed by the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC), in Villanueva de la Cañada, near Madrid, Spain. It was estimated that in the decade proceeding of 2014, around 2,000 people assisted in this mission in some capacity.

While in 2007, the Rosetta made a Mars gravity assist (flyby) on its way to Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko, and also performed two asteroid flybys. The craft finished its flyby of asteroid 2867 Steins in September 2008 and 21 Lutetia in July 2010. Later on January 20, 2014, Rosetta was taken out from the 31-month hibernation mode as it approached Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

Rosetta's Philae Lander effectively made its first soft landing on a comet nucleus when it touched down on Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 12, 2014. On September 5, 2016, ESA announced that the Lander was exposed by the narrow-angle camera onboard Rosetta as the orbiter made a low, 2.7 km (1.7 mi) to pass over the comet; and the Lander sits on its surface wedged into a dark gap of the comet, clearing up the require of electrical power to set up proper communication with the orbiter.


During the 1986 approach of Halley's Comet, many international space probes were sent to discover the comet, and most prominent amongst them being ESA's Giotto. After these probes came back with valuable scientific information, they became obvious to follow-on and were needed to shed up more light on commentary opus and answer new questions.

The European space Agency and NASA have started cooperatively developing new probes; among them the NASAs project was the Comet Rendezvous Asteroid Flyby (CRAF) mission and was the follow-on Comet Nucleus Sample Return (CNSR) mission by the ESA. Both missions were to share the Mariner Mark II spacecraft design, thus minimizing costs. In 1992, after NASA canceled CRAF due to budgetary limitations, ESA decided to develop a CRAF-style project on its own. By 1993 it was evident that the ambitious trial return mission was infeasible with the existing European agency budget, that is the reason the mission was redesigned and subsequently approved by the ESA, with the final journey plan similar to the canceled CRAF duty: an asteroid flyby follow by a comet rendezvous with an in-situ examination, including a Lander. After the spacecraft launch, Gerhard Schwehm was named mission manager; he retired in March 2014.

We will learn more on this blog in our next part. 


Human Rights

Human Rights Day is observed every year across the world on December 10.  This date was chosen to honor the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation. On December 10 of 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted and the first global elocution of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations was also declared on this day. The recognized establishment of Human Rights Day occurred at the time of the 317th Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on December 4, 1950. This is the day when the General Assembly confirmed resolution 423(V), inviting all member states and other organizations who are interested in celebrating the day as they saw fit.

While the High Commissioner office of the Human Rights was awarded by the Guinness World Record for the gathering, translation of 380 languages and sharing of the worldwide proclamation of the Human Rights. At this event, a global discussion on the human rights was also hosted by the High Commissioner with the help of social media sharing and the websites.

How it is celebrated

This day is celebrated by organizing the supporting conferences, meetings and meet-ups, exhibitions, cultural proceedings, debates and many more programs to talk about all the issues of human rights. Several governmental organizations, nongovernmental and civil associations will actively participate in the human rights event celebrations.

Human Rights

This day is celebrated by deciding a particular theme to make this celebration more effectual and winning. Human poverty in any country is the most challenging human rights challenge. One of the major goals of celebrating this day is to eradicate the poverty from the life of human being and assist them in receiving the well-being life. Many other programs including music, drama, dance, fine art, etc are also held to encourage and help the people to learn their rights.

Most of the events are held at this day are meant to teach people, children as well as teenagers about their human rights. Some of the demonstration actions are also held in order to aware the people from areas where the human rights are unrecognized or disrespected.

Let us stand for someone’s rights today!!!


Presidential Debate Schedule — 2016

The United States presidential election debates of 2016 were a series of debates. These series were held for the 2016 U.S. presidential general elections. However, The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), a bipartisan organization was formed in 1987, and from then it structured three debates amongst the major presidential candidates.

The presidential debate series were divided into 2 series, while the first series was on the presidential debate for the 2016 election which took place on September 26, 2016. This was the first set which created the record break as the majority of the people watched this debate in American history, was more than 84 million.

The second series were on the vice-presidential debate were divided into four sets, the first set  was help on October 4, while the second set was in the presidential debate on October 9, and the final debate took place on October 19. All Commission Presidential Debates start from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. EDT and 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. PDT.

However, the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump met the criteria for the debates, and therefore they only appeared in the debates; where Hillary Clinton was one who was considered to have won all the three presidential debates by scientific opinion polls.

The Organizers of the Debat

The CPD - Commission on Presidential Debates specifies three criteria on the eligibility for the presidential debates:  constitutional eligibility to serve as president, form on sufficient ballots to potentially reach 270 electoral votes, and on average the nominee should at least have 15% on five selected national polls. The nominees for the vice-presidential debate, the running mates of the presidential candidates qualifying for the first presidential debate were also been invited. By mid-September Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein were standing on the enough ballots to reach 270 electoral votes; however, Clinton and Trump have only reached 15% of the polling entrance, but by August 2016, Johnson and Stein have polled as high as 13% and 7%, and have an average of 8.3% and 3%, correspondingly.

While by August 15, the Commission on Presidential Debates decided that they are going to use the most recent social news broadcasting channels like CBS, New York Times, CNN/Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, NBC- Wall Street Journal, and ABC- Washington to post the polls. However, for the debate criteria, the candidates must reach an average of 15% in these polls.

Clinton and Trump received the official invitation On September 16, from the Commission, which also announced both of them to participate in the first debate going to be held on September 26 at Hofstra University. However as Johnson and Stein did not meet the reputable criteria, they were not presented in the debate. The commission announced that Mike Pence and Tim Kaine will participate the first vice presidential debate, which is going to take place at Longwood University on October 4. 15% will be reapplied with polling numbers for the first debate in order to judge the participants in the second debate which is going to be held on October 9. While the moderators for the four debates were announced on September 2, 2016.

Topics Addressed & Not Addressed

The six hours combined debate for the three presidential debates and once vice presidential debate were the most exciting debates which covered the issues that were raised during the moderators’; the six questions on Syrian Civil war and four questions on Terrorism were also raised.

Other topics on the U.S. and Russia relations, Job creation, immigration, Trump’s Taxes, and Trump molestations were asked in three questions each. Other topics like Clinton’s emails, social security, the Supreme Court, taxation of the wealthy, Iraq, the national debt, uniting the country, Nuclear Weapons and the legitimacy of the elections were the subjects of the two questions each.

There were number of issues which were asked in single subject questions; like expectations of police conduct, abortion, race relations, Birtherism, gun policy, jobs in energy industry, Islamophobia, the Clinton’s foundation, the strengths of the candidates,  the Donald J. Trump Foundation, the skills of the vice presidential nominees, the low favorability ratings of both candidates, the candidate's faith, the paid speeches given by Clinton, Clinton's "basket of deplorable" remark, Clinton's "look," Trump's Twitter posts, the candidates' behavior, and many more.

The debate moderators missed to ask a question about the climate changes, though Clinton tried to touch on one of the issues twice, the  moderators' failed to address the issues which were prompted complaints by the commentators.

Seal of the President of The United States

Seal of the President of The United States

We will be learning on this topic with more information on our next blog.



Diwali - 2016

Diwali – the festival of lights is near to us. This festival is celebrated in various ways across different customs. While the followers of, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism observe various customs related to Diwali.This year Diwali is on Sunday, October 30th. As per the position of the moon, the Diwali date changes every year.

As per the Hindu calendar, the date of Diwali falls on the fifteenth day of the lunar phase in a month in the auspicious Hindu month of Kartika; which usually falls in the month of October or November as per the English calendar. However, Diwali falls on the Amavasya day which is also known as no moon day. Another way to know the exact date of Diwali is it comes 20 days after the popular festival of Dussehra, Durga Puja, or Vijaya Dashmi.

In India this is one of the most awaited festivals, in fact, people of every age waits for this auspicious day to celebrate.

How to People celebrate?

The Festival of Lights

On average Diwali is celebrated for five days in many places and a day or two in some. The dates vary as per the regions of India and the date of Diwali comes on various dates; this is because of the traditional lunar calendars which they follow, and this can be interpreted in different ways.

People decorate their homes and workplaces with tiny electric lights or get small clay lamps; they fill the lamps with oil and light them. Every house will be decorated with bowls of water filled with floating candles and flowers on the surface with popular decorations.

Before the day occurs, people make a special effort to clean their homes and yards and paint them new.The day starts with taking bath with fragrant oils and water, wear new clothes, pamper everyone in the family with gifts and sweets. Sweets will be distributed to close friends and business associates. In the evening fireworks will be all set to crackle. You can see kids blowing fireworks which they are allowed to blow up in the guidance of their family.

Declared as public holiday

In India, Diwali is declared as public holiday. Everything remains closed. But you will find sweets shops, firework stores and other businesses shops open. Transport will usually stay unaffected as many locals travel for religious celebrations. However, those who wish to use public transport facilitates on the day should ensure with the local transport establishments on public transit schedules.


Diwali is known as the festival of lights. This day mainly symbolize the victory of morality and the lifting of spiritual darkness.  The word “Deepawali” refers to rows of diyas or clay lamps. This is one of the most popular festivals of the Hindu calendar and signifies that this day brings light into our lives sending the darkness away.There is another recall on this festival; that is Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after finishing his 14-year exile. The myths between Rama and Ravana are told during another holiday, which is Dussehra, Durga Puja, or Vijaya Dashami. On Diwali, people will pray to Goddess Lakshmi who is the lord Vishnu’s consort as she symbolizes wealth and prosperity. In West Bengal, this festival is celebrated as Kali Puja, and Kali is Shiva's consort.

While Diwali festival in southern India; often commemorates the conquering of the Naraka, he is the king of Assam who caged many people. It is assumed that later Krishna freed all the prisoners.In many Buddhist places in India, it is marked as the anniversary of the Emperor Ashoka’s conversion to Buddhism around the time of Diwali. People who observe Jainism mark this day as the anniversary of Mahavira's (or Lord Mahavir) attainment of nirvana on October 15, 527 BCE. Mahavir also established the central religious ideas of Jainism.

Sikhs celebrate Diwali as BandiChhorh Divas, which is the sixth Nanak's (Guru Hargobind) return from imprisonment in the Gwalior Fort. This concurrence has resulted in the resemblance of celebrating the day among many Sikhs and Hindus.

Wish you a happy and safest Diwali, mark this day in your personal calendar and start planning for cheerful celebrations!!!!


Yoshinori Ohsumi - Best Brains

The 2016 Nobel Laureate discovered the mechanism of Autophagy, which is a fundamental process for humiliating and recycling cellular components.

Yoshinori Ohsumi is a Biologist from Tokyo Institute of Technology. Yoshinori has been awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for his discoveries of mechanisms for Autophagy. Autophagy is a process where a cell recycles of its own contents.

The researchers and scientists are aware of Autophagy since the 1960s, but they knew little about how it works. While Ohsumi's revolutionary experiments with baker's yeast in the 1990s gave them the complete picture. The study on Autophagy has become important; as Autophagy can abolish invading intracellular bacteria, whereas disrupted Autophagy is linked to Parkinson's disease, this is type 2 diabetes and like other disorders which may particularly affect the elderly.

History of Autophagy

The word autophagy originates from the Greek words auto which means self and phagein — to eat. Hence, Autophagy means self-eating. This concept came to be known since from the 1960's, when scientists first observed that a cell could destroy its own contents by enclosing it in layers, forming sack-like vesicles that were related to a recycling section, called the lysosome, for degradation. Thus there were difficulties in understanding and studying this phenomenon as very little was known until the series of brilliant experiments of Yoshinori’s came out in the early 1990's. Yoshinori Ohsumi used baker's yeast to classify genes that are essential for Autophagy. He then went on to clarify the fundamental mechanisms of Autophagy in yeast and showed that similar machinery can be used in our cells.

Ohsumi's experiments and discoveries led to a new prototype in everyone’s understanding on how the cell recycles its own contents. While the discovery of Autophagy has opened the path of understanding the fundamentals of Autophagy and its importance with the help of many physiological processes; such adaptation will strive to starvation or response to infection. However, the process of mutating Autophagy genes may cause disease, or the process will involve in quite a few conditions including cancer and neurological disease.

During the period of the 1970's and 1980's the researchers focused on explaining other systems used to degrade proteins, specifically the "proteasome". The other researchers who were also awarded within this field are Aaron Ciechanover, Avram Hershko, and Irwin Rose; these researchers were awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation. The proteasome efficiently degrades proteins slowly, and this mechanism did not tell how the cell will get rid in larger protein complexes and worn-out the organelles. Let us look the process of Autophagy and what were the mechanisms?

About the revolutionary experiment

Yoshinori Ohsumi stayed always active in various do research areas, but when he planned to lead his own lab in 1988, he started focusing on protein degradation methods in the vacuole, an organelle that corresponds to the lysosome in human cells. Through his discovery, he learned that Yeast cells are comparatively easy to study and as a result, they are often used as a model for human cells. These are mainly helpful for the identification of genes that are significant in difficult cellular pathways. However, Ohsumi faced the most important challenge in identifying the yeast cells which are small as their inner structures are not easily eminent in the microscope and hence he was unsure whether Autophagy still exists in this organism. Yoshinori reasoned that if he could reverse the degradation process in the vacuole while the process of Autophagy was active, then Autophagosomes may accumulate within the vacuole and turn out to be visible under the microscope. As a result; he then cultured mutated yeast lacking vacuolar degradation enzymes and simultaneously moved Autophagy by starving the cells. As we all know the result was striking; and in few hours the vacuoles were filled with small vesicles which had not been degraded. These vesicles are Autophagosomes, and Ohsumi's discovery proved that Autophagy exists in yeast cells. But even more significantly, now he had a method to categorize and characterize key genes caught up this process. However, this is a major breakthrough and you can see the results are published in 1992.

How Autophagy genes are discovered

After identifying Autophagy in yeast cells, Ohsumi took advantage of his engineered yeast strain in which Autophagosomes accumulated throughout starvation. This accumulation process should not arise if genes significant for Autophagy were inactivated. He then exposed the yeast cells into a chemical which randomly introduced mutations in many genes, and then he induced Autophagy. Thus, this strategy worked and within a year of his discovery of Autophagy in yeast, Yoshinori identified the first genes necessary for Autophagy.

Why Autophagy is essential mechanism in our cells

Soon after identifying the machinery for Autophagy in yeast, a key question raised; was there any corresponding mechanism to manage this process with the help of any other organisms?

When it became clear that virtually identification of mechanisms operates in our own cells; the research tools required to investigate further on the importance of Autophagy in humans was now available.

We have to thank the great researchers like Ohsumi and others; who helped us to understand how Autophagy controls vital physiological functions of cellular components that need to be degraded and recycled. While Autophagy can quickly provide fuel for energy and building blocks for regeneration of cellular components and it is, therefore, essential for the cellular reaction to starvation and other types of stress. The experiments proved that after infection, Autophagy can get rid of invading intracellular bacteria and viruses; and contributes to embryo progress and cell separation. Cells also use Autophagy to eradicate the damaged proteins and organelles, a quality control method that are serious for counteracting the negative consequences of aging.


October 15 — The Sweetest Day

To do the sweetest thing, you really don’t need the sweetest day. However, we celebrate random holidays, which come every another day. The sweetest day is a holiday which apparently started in 1922, but came to be known very recently.  This is a special day to celebrate with your loved ones.

Significance of Sweetest Day

2017, Sweetest Day is a general holiday celebrated in some parts of the United States. It is a day of dreamy actions or expressions. This day is to remember the less fortunate and has also been referred to as an "imaginary promotion" formed by a famous candy industry exclusively to increase sales of sweets and cards from 2017. The Sweetest Day is observed on the third Saturday of October.


The origin of 2017 Sweetest Day is unclear; as a widely established theory on the first Sweetest Day was on October 10, 1921, in Cleveland. This was when a commission of 12 candy makers led by C.C. Hartzell, gathered jointly in 1921 to deliver 20,000 boxes of chocolates and candies to the less-privileged in the city. The top film stars then Theda Bara and Ann Pennington assisted this program.

There is another theory as of 1922, a candy-store owner in Cleveland by name Herbert Birch Kingston wanted to memorize the people in the city who were underprivileged, he started distributing candies and chocolates as many as he can. He selected hospitals and orphanages in the area as the people in these places will be happier. While as per some people’s opinion, this holiday was created to greet people and share their love. So greeting card companies took advantage and sold more candies and cards, but this anyway widely rejected based on no evidence.

There were also many attempts to start this Day in New York City, including an affirmation of a Candy Day all over the United States by candy makers on October 8, 1922.  But, in 1927, it was decreed that the week will begin on October 10, 1927, and be addressed as Sweetest Week.

While in 1940, one more Sweetest Day was proclaimed on October 19. This Sweetest Day is only celebrated in 11 states and parts of two states Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan,  North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin and areas of both Pennsylvania west and New York of the spine of the Appalachian Mountains.


Sweetest Day traditions are alike to Valentine's Day in many locations, you can enjoy this day as you wish. Celebrate this day by giving gifts, candies, chocolates, cards, flowers, and whatever you wish to give. Make this day the happiest by spending your time with your family, friends and your beloved ones. But remember there shouldn’t be a day to make it sweetest but it is upon you how you start your day and coming days. Express your love and care to everyone that will surely make all your days sweetest.

Happy Sweetest Days!!!!!


Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th has been an unlucky day for many people since long and why we choose this day, in particular, to fear for our lives is what we will learn in this blog today.

In 1993, some scientists found that there is a general increase in hospital admissions on Friday 13th.  From then it is just like a superstition or is there something more touchable at play?


Superstitions around this day have come from the Middle Ages, and have Biblical origins.

While some historians have claimed that on Friday 13th Eve bit the apple from the Tree of Knowledge and the great floods begin and the builders of the Tower of Babel.

Jesus's last supper

According to the New Testament; the day before Christ's crucifixion there were 13 people who attended Jesus's last supper with his 12 Apostles and the other myth is God Odin invited 11 of his friends to Valhalla. When they had to dine the god of evil and turmoil LOKI appeared at that place and caused the death of a demigod in the group.

On October 13, 1307, Friday Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar. In the novel Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown cites about the 14th century carrying out of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay, which again took place on Friday the 13th; he cursed the Pope and the King of France, and this spread bad luck down the ages.

The fear of Friday the 13th has a name called “Paraskevidekatriaphobia” – which is derived from the Greek words paraskeví means Friday and dekatreís are thirteen. The fear of the number 13 itself is called triskaidekaphobia.

How repeatedly does Friday the 13th occur in 2016 and 2017?

In 2016, we will have it only one which is already done on May 13, and in 2016 we will see it twice on January Friday 13; and again on October, Friday 13. Most years have just once or twice the Friday the 13ths.

In addition, all three months - February, March, and November - must start on a Sunday. Thus any month that starts on a Sunday will have a Friday the 13th in it.

The next February, March and November trilogy occur in 2026, and following that, it will have to wait for 11 more years till 2037 to roll around.


Columbus Day in the United States

Columbus Day is an annual federal American holiday which is celebrated on the second Monday in October every year. However, it is not a public legal holiday in some of the states such as California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii. The day commemorates when Italian navigator Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World and discovered America on October 12, 1492.  The Columbus Day was first proclaimed as the holiday in 1937 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The President was then requested to issue a proclamation designating the second Monday of each year as the Columbus Day, as per the Presidential Proclamation.

While Christopher Columbus is the son of Genoa, born in Italy, who set a sail across the Atlantic, no one imagined about the profound and lasting impact he would have on the world. In search of the westward route towards Asia, Columbus instead covered the Bahamas. As daylight broke on October 12, 1492, his team set foot on a Caribbean island and untouched the course of history. More on Europe, this marked the innovation of the New World, which has set in motion for more than five centuries that have followed. However, Columbus's historic expedition ushered in a new age as because the world has in no way been the same. His voyage opened the doors for many generations of Italian immigrants who followed his trail across the ocean in chase of the promise of America. Same like Columbus, these immigrants, and their descendants have bent the place where they landed.


People all out the world, celebrate Columbus's voyage ever since the colonial phase. Historically, this Italian-born explorer has set sail in August 1492. He planned the chart towards the western sea route to China, India and then to the renowned gold and Spice Islands of Asia; as an unusual, he landed in the Bahamas and became the first European who discovered the Americas; since the Vikings set up colonies in Newfoundland and Greenland’s during the tenth century. Thus, this is how Columbus Day was officially declared as the state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and later on, it was declared as the federal holiday in the United States by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 as per the Presidential Act.

The date Columbus arrived in the Americas is also known as the Day of the Race (Día de la Raza) in Latin America and some Latino communities in the United States. In Hawaii, Columbus day is celebrated as Discoverers’ Day, but it is not a state holiday. Columbus Day celebrations are also known to be controversial in some places because of the settlement of Europeans in the America, which lead to deaths of a huge ratio of the Native American people.

Customs of Columbus Day

Columbus Day celebrations include lessons about Christopher Columbus and his journey at schools. All through the United States, Columbus Day will evolve into a celebration of Italian and American heritage. Many communities host parades and street fairs with bright costumes, music, and Italian food feasts will be more of attractions. Many cities and towns honor native peoples hold activities such as traditional dance and lessons on Native American culture.


Stanford’s Robotic Mermaid

Stanford created "Robotic Mermaid" to help with Deep Sea Exploration Missions.

Remotely Operated Vehicles and Artificial intelligent walk side by side these days. Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are used to conduct undersea tasks, which are considered unsafe for humans, for many years. While, these machines are very useful to tackle projects like oil rigging repairs, vehicles that lack the refinement and agility required to handle delicate missions like monitoring the coral reefs.  The traditional boxy shape also created difficulties for the robots to penetrate the tiny areas without damaging the surrounding flora. Now it’s time for the Stanford universities to grab the appreciations for the latest creature which is the high-end version mermaid robot, named as OceanOne.

The idea behind creating this humanoid robot was conceptualized three years ago by the King Abdullah University of science and Technology (KAUST) researchers in Saudi Arabia. They believe that such robots would help monitor coral reefs and under ocean activities in the Red Sea. To elaborate and bring the vision to life the Associate professor Khaled Salama turned to his colleagues at California’s Stanford University for further help.

Professor Oussama Khatib, and the Director of Stanford’s Robotics Lab along with his team of graduate and undergraduate students were fascinated by the idea of creating an underwater robot and instantly agreed. While it took a few years to get the first prototype of OceanOne, and it was released in April 2016, is everything Salama and his team had hoped for, and more.

OceanOne was about five feet from head to tail, and it has stereoscopic eyes, which helps to allow the pilot to view deep down views into the ocean without entering the ocean. It has the fins which provide ample storage space to fit computers, batteries, and even 8 multi-directional thrusters to help and keep the robot stable in confused waters.

Unlike other traditional ROV’s; the OceanOne’s electronics are waterproofed with oil rather than covering the inside parts with a rigid case. The OceanOne is designed simply to prevent the electronics from buckling under the water pressure and enable the robot mermaid to reach depths of up to 2,000 meters without collapsing.

Smart algorithms enable the humanoid robot to avoid collisions under the water and help from the pilot, even it can use its hands to swim when it is stuck in a tight spot; when it cannot avoid a crash then the robot can alleviate the impact by stretching out its arm. Since it can also communicate with human pilots through hand-gestures, it can also be a useful diving companion when needed.

However, when the waters are very uneven, the robot can turn on the thrusters which are stored in its fin to stabilize itself. Sensors are affixed to the robot’s arms and wrists which will help enable the pilot to touch the undersea objects and determine them clearly on the weight and texture. It was very crucial to decide on the amount of force that is required to lift the object without damaging it. There were additional sensors fixed around the robotic mermaid’s body to keep track on the currents and ocean’s turbulence.

Although, the OceanOne is originally created to monitor the coral reefs, but the first mission was a tad more exciting. In April, the robotic mermaid was first sent to investigate the wreckage of King Louis XIV’s flagship, La Lune, which sank off the coast of France in 1664; but the robotic mermaid did not dissatisfy. Later with the help of Professor Khatib guidance, OceanOne made its way 100-meters beneath the surface of the Mediterranean, and it carefully picked up a preserved grapefruit-sized vase and placed it in the recovery basket.

The OceanOne, however, stood up to all the expectations and high-fived all the archaeologists and engineers who had accompanied it on this significant journey. With the achievement of the first under sea’s mission, it will be all exciting to see what coming in the future.