Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why I loved being in India so much...

"My dad takes his afternoon nap on his scooter [behind] our room while mom cleans" From Atul Loke's photoessay My Chawl: One Big Family. Photo: Atul Loke

I was in India for the past five months. I just got back a week ago and am settling back into regular life in the U.S. Hopefully the blogging will also pick up, now that I have regular internet access. I have SO many thoughts running through my head about things I should write about, including where this blog is going.

Someone asked me recently why I liked being in India so much. What few knew was that my India trip was supposed to be a six week trip that turned into five months (I only returned because I ran out of money and had to start working again)!! How that happened is something I'll write about later.

India is overwhelming; but if you let it wash over you in waves, rather than be shell shocked, you'll find great comfort in her richness. I found that I could spend hours just watching life bubbling up in the alleys of any city or village I was in. I was reminded of this as I browsed through Atul Loke's excellent photoessay about Life inside his Chawl. (A "chawl" is something like a college dorm facility; a multi-family residential facility constructed to house largely labor classes and their families. A characteristic feature of the chawls is that several families share single toilet and bath facilites).

Firstly, I'm blown away by this man's talent. He is just one of the many silent geniuses spawning across the expanse of India's varied landscape (and the developing world, in general). But more importantly, notice the richness of the life just oozing out of every picture. This is why I couldn't tear myself away from the place...

[hat-tip @yoginisd for pointing me to his work]

Friday, March 26, 2010

Gates Foundation Grand Challenges

Got this in my mailbox this morning:

Just wanted to pass along this amazing opportunity from the Gates Foundation - Grand Challenges in Global Health. Applications are now being accepted through May 19th. Learn more here:

Grand Challenges Explorations Seeks Innovative Thinkers for New Round of Funding

Researchers from all fields who can offer fresh perspectives on global health problems are encouraged to apply for a Grand Challenges Explorations grant, which awards $100,000 to test their unique and largely untested ideas. Applications for Round 5 of the initiative are being accepted from March 25 to May 19, 2010.

Grand Challenges Explorations focuses on research areas where creative, unorthodox thinking is most urgently needed. In this latest round of funding, applicants will be asked to submit proposal addressing these topic areas:

  • Create Low-Cost Cell Phone-Based Applications for Priority Global Health Conditions

  • Create New Technologies for the Health of Mothers and Newborns

  • Create New Ways to Protect Against Infectious Disease

  • Create New Technologies for Contraception
Currently, more than 260 scientists from 30 countries are working to take their innovative ideas to the next level through Grand Challenges Explorations grants. Featured below are some examples of these projects. For a complete list of all research awarded to date, visit the Grand Challenges Explorations web site.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Galileoscope: The BEST Telescope Deal EVER!

If you love star-gazing and have been waiting for a super deal to buy a telescope, well, here's your chance. Its called the Galileoscope. I swear it will change astronomy for the developing world...

I just found out about it (thanks Adam!) and ordered mine just now, so I thought I would share my enthusiasm with you all, in case you don't already know about it.

What is it? Well, its a high-quality, low-cost ($30!!) telescope kit developed for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 by a team of leading astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators.

Why is it important? Well, the telescope changed everything!! Galileo's discoveries literally revolutionized our perception of the universe and Earth's place in it.

But not everyone has a telescope, especially in less developed parts of the world. To enable more people in more places to personally experience the wonders of the universe, these guys developed a remarkably inexpensive, very-high-quality, easy-to-use refractor. With this new instrument, called the Galileoscope, children and adults can learn how telescopes work and repeat for themselves the spectacular observations made by Galileo beginning in 1609.

So the Galileoscope is much more than a telescope - it's a strategic initiative to improve math, science, and technology literacy worldwide. With this easy-to-assemble kit, anyone can explore how optics work and then they can go outside at night to observe the celestial wonders first glimpsed by Galileo four hundred and one years ago!

Think of it as a "one-telescope-per-child" kind of project.

You can find out more about the project on it's website:

For proof, here's a happy Galileoscope owner (soon to be me!)