Friday, January 30, 2009

Sutiambbe hill in Ranchi city of India is a treasure trove of ancient archaeological sites and geological weathering.

Sutiambe hill in Ranchi city is a treasure trove of ancient archaeological sites and geological weathering.
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Sutiambe hill is an archeological site located near Kanke in Ranchi district of Jharkhand State of India.. Formerly, it was the capital of Nagvanshi Dynasty of Chota Nagpur in the first century AD.
There is a remains of the fort of Nagvanshi Dynasty on the hill.
Different Archaeological sites have been discovered like old structures of the Sun Temple, Shiv Temple, the fort of Nagvanshi Dynasty in Sutiambe area. The caves of the first king of the Munda tribe, Maharaja Madra Munda has also been discovered. There is one cave (as shown in the picture) where the rocks inside resembles Shiva Linga and the local villagers offer prayers to these rocks. There are also other mysterious caves in the hills.
This hill not only cradles ancient archaeological remains but it also covered with spectacular geological weathering on the granite gneiss rocks of the hills. This geological weathering resembles very much with the finger prints of some giant ancient animals or a umbrella like hood structure of a hindu mythological snake(cobra or Nagas). Even the caves formed in the hill is a good example of erosional features.
In the picture a small staircase like structure having pot hole filled with water is also seen on the top of the hill. According to the local people king Madra Munda used to use the water from the pot hole for his daily uses. This hole never dries up even during peak summer season. Source of underground water filling this hole is from the hill itself.

Regarding the origin of the Nagvanshi Dynasty a interesting story is told by the historians. It doesn’t have scientific proof but still this story is mentioned several times in the history books written by eminent historians like S.C. Roy and Mangobinda Banerjee.
Though I am a geologist, my purpose of mentioning this story is that during my survey and photography in the area I encountered many erosional and weathering structures which resembles the hood of the giant snakes. From the local people I came to know about the Nagwanshi rulers who ruled this area in the ancient times. Nagvanshi means those who came from the snake family. ‘Nag’ means “cobra snake” and ‘wanshi’ means ‘family’.
Like the Romulas-Remus origin of the Romans, the Chota Nagpur Raj family has preserved an interesting tradition as to origin from the snake, which not only takes us back to the Pauranic times, but seeks to account for the name, “Nagpur”. The story refers to the time of Raja Janmejaya, who in order to destroy the entire race of serpents, celebrated a sarpa-yajna. One of the serpents, Pundarika Nag by name, managed to make good his escape, and, having assumed a human form, traveled to Benares (now Varanasi) and there succeeded in wining the hand of Parvati, the daughter of the learned Brahman. Notwithstanding his otherwise human appearance Pundarika could not, however, get rid of the serpent’s forked tongue which, not long afterwards, attracted the notice of his wife. Parvati naturally became inquisitive about it, and asked her husband what this meant. Pundarika put off answering the inquiry to some future day. And to divert her mind from the subject, he took her on a pilgrimage to the holy temple of Jagannath at Puri in Orissa State. On their way back, they passed through Jharkhand State, as Chotanagpur was then called. Arriving near the hill of Sutiambe in present Ranchi district, Parvati was found to be in the throes of child-birth. And now once more she importuned her husband to tell her the secret of his forked tongue. The explanation could be put off no longer, and Pundarika now gave out his real history and forthwith disappeared in the proper form into a pool of water close by. Parvati in the great agony of mind now began to curse her own womanly inquisitiveness, and immediately after the birth of child, immolated herself on a funeral pyre as befitted a Sati. Just in the nick of time, there turned up a Brahman carrying an idol of Surya-devata, the sungod. The Brahmin was thirsty, and placing his idol by the side of the pool he began to quench his thirst with the pool water. How great was his wonder when, about to resume his journey, he found that the idol could not be moved! He was casting about for an explanation, when, to his astonishment, he noticed a huge cobra protecting a baby from the sun with its hood expanded over the baby’s head! And now the snake revealed himself to the Brahman as Pundarika Naga, and narrated his strange story. The snake went on to prophesy that the child was destined to be Raja (king) of the country. This, child said Pundarika, was to be named Phani Mukut Rai and the country Nagpur. These revelations over, the snake once more returned to the pool and was seen no more. Phani Mukut Rai became the first ruler of Nagvanshi Dynasty.
Purpose of writing this story is not to confuse the scientific world but only to understand whether such features is related to the rulers of the snake dynasty of early first century AD? Is this features are man made or they are the outcome of geological weathering.
Sometimes it becomes essential to correlate the rock structure or rock paintings with civilization, if present at that time.
Whatever the truth is, but seeing the structures on the rocks and different caves in the Sutiambe hill I am sure that this hill will definitely reveal more hidden ancient historical, archeological and even geological facts in coming future.


S.C. Roy, 2004. The Mundas and their country. Crown Publications, Ranchi, India.

B. Mangobinda, 1993. An historical outline of Pre-British Chotanagpur [From earliest times to 1765]. Educational Publications, Ranchi, India.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Can global warming be tackled with white paint?

Can white paint reduce global warming?
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

(Above pictures shows small houses made with the help of soil as cementing material. These houses are cool even during peak summer season in Jharkhand State of India.)
In a new study, a scientist has come up with the suggestion that global warming may be tackled with white paint.
According to a report in The Guardian, the scientist in question is Hashem Akbari from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, US, who suggests painting roads and the rooftops of buildings with the color white to fight global warming.
Theory is based on the concept that white colour reflects enough of sunlight and heat back to the atmosphere which will help to delay global warming.
He wants dozens of the world's largest cities to unite in an effort to replace the dark-coloured materials used to cover roads and roofs with something a little more reflective.

Study has shown that buildings with white roofs stay cooler during the summer. The change reduces the way heat accumulates in built-up areas (known as the urban heat island effect) and allows people who live and work inside to switch off power-hungry air conditioning units.
Dark roofs reflect about 10-20 percent of sunlight, while white surfaces tend to send back at least half.

We all know that Greenhouse gases, which include water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane, warm the atmosphere by efficiently absorbing thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface by the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. As a result of its warmth, the atmosphere also radiates thermal infrared in all directions, including downward to the Earth’s surface. Thus, greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system.
The Earth receives energy from the Sun mostly in the form of visible light. The bulk of this energy is not absorbed by the atmosphere since the atmosphere is transparent to visible light. 50% of the sun's energy reaches the Earth which is absorbed by the surface as heat. Because of its temperature, the Earth's surface radiates energy in infrared range. The Greenhouse gases are not transparent to infrared radiation so they absorb infrared radiation. Infrared radiation is absorbed from all directions and is passed as heat to all gases in the atmosphere. The atmosphere also radiates in the infrared range (because of its temperature, in the same way the Earth's surface does) and does so in all directions. The surface and lower atmosphere are warmed because of the greenhouse gases and makes our life on earth possible.
Suggesting painting roads and the rooftops of the building white looks impressive and true at first glance. But the side effects may be different. According to the theory white colours reflects half of the heat from its surface. If we colour our buildings with white, chances of reflecting more heat from the white surface will be high which will ultimately increase the temperature of the surrounding atmosphere and space many folds thrusting people to leave inside the house during day time. In other words we will dump more heat into the atmosphere.

It is true that people leaving inside the house painted with white have comfortable summer. But what about the surrounding atmosphere where the temperature may rise due to reflection of the sunlight from the white paint. It will not only affect the humans but ecology too will be affected.
I have seen small hut like houses (see the above pictures) build by soils as cementing material by the tribal of the Jharkhand state of India are very comfortable from inside even during the peak summer where the temperature reaches up to 44 degree centigrade. It may be due to the roughness of the soil surface. Theoretical considerations indicate that increasing surface roughness results in greater transport of energy from the soil surface to the atmosphere.
So before implementing this research it is essential to carry more research on this topic.

Friday, January 23, 2009

NASA Radar provides first look inside Moon's shadowed craters.

Moon's shadowed Crater

Using a NASA radar flying aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, scientists are getting their first look inside the moon's coldest, darkest craters.
The images show the floors permanently-shadowed polar craters on the moon that aren’t visible from Earth. Scientists are using the instruments to map and search the insides of the craters for water ice. The image was taken on November 17, 2008.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jharkhand state of India can be the treasure trove of gemstones.

Gemstones of Jharkhand State of India.


Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Jewels and gemstones have provided an irresistible attraction to all human beings from time immemorial. They were considered as symbols of wealth and power and wearing attractive jewellery by men and women can be traced back to prehistoric times.
During historic times gemstones were in use not only as objects of adornment, but also as an investment.
A mineral is defined as a “naturally occurring homogeneous solid with a definite chemical composition and highly ordered atomic structure usually formed by inorganic processes.” Of the three thousand and odd known minerals only about a hundred species are used as gemstones. These minerals are generally characterized by pleasant colour, transparency, high refractive index, superior hardness and often by their unusual properties such as chatoyancy and iridescence. The most important qualities of gemstones are colour, brilliance, durability and rarity.

Several ancient Indian texts have described a number of varieties of gemstones. Probably in ancient days gemstones were used to cater to one’s aesthetic taste. Later, however, gemstones appear to have been used as talisman to bring in better luck and to remove the bad effects of planets positioned in the horoscope. Through the ages certain gemstones have been assigned to “nine major planets” in Hindu astrology. Possibly the sight of celestial objects as seen from the earth prompted the ancient Indians to assign certain stones to certain planets.

Gemstones of Jharkhand:

Tourmaline occurs with a full range of colours. Transparent pink-red, blue, green, yellow-brown and uncoloured varieties are used as gemstones. Black opaque stones are also often cut and worn as mourning jewellery. Tourmaline is found in schists and pegmatic rocks with cavities or in alluvial deposits.
In Jharkhand three varieties of tourmaline are found in the Koderma area. They are green tourmaline, black tourmaline and blue tourmaline (Indicolite).

Moonstone's delicate beauty and its long heritage make it perhaps the most familiar gem quality member of the feldspar group. Moonstone is a variety of orthoclase which has a blue schiller (sheen) caused by the reflection of light from the internal structure of alternate layers of albite and orthoclase feldspars. When light falls between these thin, flat layers, it scatters in many directions producing the phenomenon called adularescence.
In Jharkhand this gemstone having export quality is concentrated in Koderma area.

Amazonite (sometimes called "Amazon stone") is a green variety of microcline feldspar.
The name is taken from that of the Amazon River, from which certain green stones were formerly obtained, but it is doubtful whether green feldspar occurs in the Amazon area. Because of its bright green colour when polished, amazonite is sometimes cut and used as a gemstone, although it is easily fractured.
For many years, the source of amazonite's color was a mystery. Naturally, many people assumed the color was due to copper because copper compounds often have blue and green colors. More recent studies suggest that the blue-green color results from small quantities of lead and water in the feldspar (Hoffmeister and Rossman, 1985). This mineral is found in the Koderma area of Jharkhand.

Citrine is transparent, coarse-grained variety of the silica mineral quartz . Citrine is a semiprecious gem that is valued for its yellow to brownish color and its resemblance to the rarer topaz. Pale yellow to a madeira orange in all of its glorious golden and yellow colors. The yellow color is from the presence of iron, the darker the color - the higher the grade.Natural citrine is rare compared to amethyst or smoky quartz , both of which are often heated to turn their natural color into that of citrine. The name citrine is derived from the French word citron - lemon. The term citrine is not familiar to most Indian consumers and it is better known to them as golden topaz or quartz topaz.
Koderma area of Jharkhand state is known for citrine deposit.

Hessonite or Cinnamon Stone is a variety of grossular, a calcium aluminium mineral of the garnet group. It has a characteristic red color, inclining to orange, much like that of gem zircon.
Hessonite is mainly concentrated in Chatra district of Jharkhand.

Chrysoberyl (cat’s eye):
Like the eye of a sleek feline predator, the chrysoberyl cat's eye winks at the astonished observer – a real miracle of Nature! That's why only this attractive gemstone has the right to the short, fitting name of "cat's eye". This gem is really something special with its narrow, bright band of light on a shimmering golden background, which seems to glide magically across the surface when the stone is moved.
From a mineralogical point of view, chrysoberyls are aluminium oxide containing beryllium, and thus actually have little in common with the beryls, which belong to the silicate family. Indeed, with their excellent hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale, they are clearly superior to the beryls.
Singhbhum in Jharkhand state is known for the deposits of cat’s eye.

The garnet group includes a group of minerals that have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. Six common species of garnet are recognized based on their chemical composition. They are pyrope, almandine, spessartite, grossular (varieties of which are hessonite or cinnamon-stone and tsavorite), uvarovite and andradite.
Garnets species are found in many colors including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink and colorless. The rarest of these is the blue garnet. It changes color from blue-green in the daylight to purple in incandescent light, as a result of the relatively high amounts of vanadium.
In Jharkhand, Hazaribag district is known for garnet deposits.

Varieties of beryl have been considered gemstones since prehistoric times.Colorless beryl is called goshenite, pink beryl is morganite, red beryl is bixbite or "red emerald" or "scarlet emerald," clear bright yellow beryl is "golden beryl," yellow-green beryl is heliodor, green beryl is emerald, blue beryl is aquamarine, and deep blue beryl is maxixe. Red beryl is extremely rare.
Beryl of various colors is found most commonly in granitic pegmatites, but also occurs in mica schists in Jharkhand. Beryl is often associated with tin and tungsten ore bodies.
Koderma ,Hazaribag and Giridih are famous of its Beryl deposits. In Ranchi district light green and blue beryl are found.

Karanth, R.V. 2000. Gems and Gem Industry of India. Geological Society of India, memoir,45. Bangalore.

Hoffmeister and Rossman (1985). " ". Am. Min. 70: 794–804.

Priyadarshi, N., 1998, A Handbook of Geology of Chotanagpur. Aoyushi Publication, Ranchi, India.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How much scientific is Water Dowsing or Water Witching?

How much scientific is Water Dowsing or Water Witching?
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

Water Dowsing or Water Witching" refers in general to the practice of using a forked stick, rod, pendulum, or similar device to locate underground water, minerals, or other hidden or lost substances, and has been a subject of discussion and controversy for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of lithologic formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock become fully saturated with water is called the water table.
Ground water is an important part of the water cycle. Ground water is the part of precipitation that seeps down through the soil until it reaches rock material that is saturated with water. Water in the ground is stored in the spaces between rock particles (no, there are no underground rivers or lakes). Ground water slowly moves underground, generally at a downward angle (because of gravity), and may eventually seep into streams, lakes, and oceans.
The demand for water has increased over the years and this has led to water scarcity in many parts of the world. The situation is aggravated by the problem of water pollution or contamination. These situations has forced the humans to search for more fresh underground water. It is a common thinking that underground water is more safe than the surface water which at present days are being contaminated from different sources.
World is heading towards a freshwater crisis mainly due to improper management of water resources and environmental degradation, which has lead to a lack of access to safe water supply to millions of people. This freshwater crisis is already evident in many parts of India, varying in scale and intensity depending mainly on the time of the year.
Groundwater crisis is not the result of natural factors; it has been caused by human actions. During the past two decades, the water level in several parts of the country including Jharkhand has been falling rapidly due to an increase in extraction.

Increased demands for water have stimulated development of underground water resources. As a result, techniques for investigating the occurrence and movement of groundwater has been improved, better equipment for extracting groundwater has been developed.

Other than scientific methods Water Dowsing or Water Witching has been a very common method from the ancient periods to identify water beneath the earth surface.
In the Jharkhand State of India still today many people rely on this method.

The modus operandi of the people involved in water witching in Jharkhand is simple. They break the bamboo stick measuring about two feet into two halves from the upper portion but joined at the bottom giving it a ‘V’ shape, which starts rotating when put at a place with a high water level.

During summer and unbearable heat people call them from different places in Jharkhand to help them find suitable location to dig ponds or install tubewells in their houses.
Using a forked stick to locate water is known as water witching or water dowsing. Although lacking scientific justification for the method, water witches diligently practice the art wherever people can be persuaded of its potential value. Commonly the method consists of holding a forked stick in both hands and walking over the local area until the butt end is attracted downward- ostensibly by subsurface water.

It is amazing that the idea of supernatural powers has such a continued fascination for people. Even in the developed country like USA where the U.S. Geological Survey advises inquirers not to employ water witches, yet the practice continues and receives frequent publicity.

Witching is very common in rural areas where groundwater is difficult to find.

What does science say about dowsing?
Case histories and demonstrations of dowsers may seem convincing, but when dowsing is exposed to scientific examination, it presents a very different picture. Some water exists under the Earth's surface almost everywhere. This explains why many dowsers appear to be successful. To locate ground water accurately, however, as to depth, quantity, and quality, a number of techniques must be used. Hydrologic, geologic, and geophysical knowledge is needed to determine the depths and extent of the different water-bearing strata and the quantity and quality of water found in each. The area must be thoroughly tested and studied to determine these facts.

Ellis,A.J. 1917, The divining rod- a history of water witching. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 416, pp. 59.
Todd, D.K. 1980, Groundwater Hydrology. John Wiley & Sons, New York. pp. 425-426.