A smoker walking in front of you throws the cigarette butt on the sidewalk. The teenager seated on the park bench crumbles the chocolate wrapper and throws it on the grass. The satiated taxi driver throws the parcel of leftover food through the window of his cab for the stray dogs, creating a mess on the street.
These are incidents we see daily around us.
Now, what will you or I do? Usually, we just ignore these litterbugs and will let the tossed items accumulate as garbage for the municipal garbage workers to pick them up the following day.
Omar Faruk, a 20-year-old Bahraini youth produced the video I have included here titled “Millionaire Garbage Man” and uploaded it on YouTube. The video which has received an overwhelming response online shows that “actions speak louder than words.” It features a Korean picking up trash in the suburban neighborhood of Seef in Manama, the capital of Bahrain.
The Korean do-gooder identifies himself thus:
“I have two names. My first name is Yo. My second name is ‘The Boss of Cleaning‘.”
Korean-born Yo, a millionaire investor living in Bahrain for the past 11 years is not only interested in keeping the streets clean, but also strives to keep it so. He wants everyone to enjoy living in a clean and healthy neighborhood devoid of litter. Every morning he wakes up before dawn. His first task of the day is clean up the streets in his neighbourhood. He also sorts out the garbage he collects, making it easier for recycling.
Yo is a simple, modest person and is a true role model for the present day youth to follow.
“There is a lot of garbage and this makes people sick. It causes problems,” explains Yo.
The recycling bags Yo uses are from Korea.
Yo speaks Arabic. He says:
“I’m just cleaning the place I’m living in. It’s my right...”
The modern fight against environmental pollution around the world owes much to the tragedy that befell Greater London, about 63 years ago. The haphazard use of coal brought the country to the brink of a frightening black disaster on December 5, 1952.
During the Industrial Revolution, from about 1760 to around 1840, there was a transition to new manufacturing processes. The main factor in this transition was the change from wood and other biofuels to coal.
Indiscriminate use of coal drove Britain, the most powerful empire in the world. Tall smokestacks became the symbols of the industrial age in Britain. The appalling use of coal in industries, for generating electricity, heating homes, for cooking, etc., was frightening. Trains, boats, iron, steel, everyday items used coal. In London, it was like millions of micro-volcanoes erupting all at once. It was as if London was eating coal to survive.
People were burning large quantities of poor quality coal and emitting pollution at low elevations. The pollution from home chimneys was double the amount of the industries.
In the Victorian era, London was well known for its romantic fog that covered the city for 90 days each year for decades. But as the years passed by, this romantic fog and the smoke and fog turned into a poisonous cloud of smog (smoky fog) during each winter. In his book “Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) wrote:
In the third week of November, in the year 1895, a dense yellow fog settled down upon London. From the Monday to the Thursday I doubt whether it was ever possible from our windows in Baker Street to see the loom of the opposite houses. … But when, for the fourth time, after pushing back our chairs from breakfast we saw the greasy, heavy brown swirl still drifting past us and condensing in oily drops upon the windowpanes, my comrade’s impatient and active nature could endure this drab existence no longer. He paced restlessly about our sitting- room in a fever of suppressed energy, biting his nails, tapping the furniture, and chafing against inaction.
Construction of the first phase, the A Station of the Battersea Power Station, began in March 1929. It first generated electricity in 1933, but was not completed until 1935. The total cost of its construction was £2,141,550. It burned approximately 10,000 tons of coal each week to supply one fifth of the electricity for the entire city of London.
Slowly, with time, London became completely covered in soot.
In late 1952 an unusual cold cinch had gripped London for weeks. On December 5, 1952, the day the disaster began, Londoners awoke to find a clear sky, but coal fireplaces worked overtime to fight the chill in the air. As the day progressed, a light veil of fog began to blanket the city. In the afternoon, the fog mixed with the thousands of tons of soot being pumped into the skies of London by million or more coal stoves, home chimneys, from local factories and industrial smokestacks began to turn a sickly shade of yellow and settled in the London basin.
Smog was nothing new for Londoners, but on that day, this thick sulfurous yellow “pea souper” quickly thickened into a poisonous brew, unlike anything the city had ever experienced before. A high-pressure system parked over London caused a temperature inversion. The air about a thousand feet above the surface, warmer than that at ground level kept the smog under the clouds and prevented it from rising. And, there was no breeze to disperse and dissipate the soot-laden soup.
For five days from Friday, December 5 to Tuesday, December 9, 1952, the Great Smog paralyzed life in London. Poisonous smog closed down all establishments. Day became as dark as night.
People found it difficult to breathe the murky air. The smog was so dense that residents of the Isle of Dogs section of the city reported they were unable to see their feet as they walked. It was as if they needed a blind person to lead them home.
The dense smog crippled all transportation. Boat traffic on the Thames came to a halt. Bus conductors holding flashlights and torches walked in front of the double-deckers to guide drivers. Flights were grounded, and trains canceled. Only the Underground was in service.
London was completely silent. Only sirens of ambulances which brought those whose lives were in danger to the hospitals was heard. The ambulance drivers had to rely on the police and people holding live burning torches to show them the way.
Even at mid-noon, automobile drivers and motorcyclists turned on their headlights. They hung their heads out the windows in a futile attempt to inch ahead through the yellow gloom. Many abandoned their vehicles.
Traffic police used large lamps to light themselves up to avoid getting hit by vehicles.
A greasy grime covered exposed surfaces. Pedestrians with their faces and noses blackened by the smog tried not to slip on the greasy black ooze that coated the sidewalks.
People wore face masks to go to shopping, to walk their dogs. Students wore face masks to go to school.
People wore face masks even to kiss.
Fearing the children might get lost in the smog, authorities advised parents not to send their children to school.
Fearing the children might get lost in the smog, authorities advised parents not to send their children to school.
Criminals emboldened by the thick dark smog resorted to purse snatching and burglaries and then vanished into the cloaking darkness.
Birds lost in the fog crashed into buildings.
Breeders fashioned improvised gas masks for their cattle by soaking grain sacks in whiskey. Eleven prize heifers brought to Earls Court for the famed Smithfield Show choked to death.
All weekend soccer matches were canceled. However, Oxford and Cambridge, carried on with their annual cross-country competition at Wimbledon Common. As runners materialized out of the thick haze, the track marshals shouted continually, “This way, this way, Oxford and Cambridge.”
Since the smog seeped even inside closed buildings, movie theaters closed down as the yellow haze made it impossible for the audience to see the screen. The opera houses too put up their shutters as the audience could no longer see the performers on the stage due to the acrid smog.
The unparalleled admissions to hospitals and the great number of pneumonia reports overwhelmed the medical authorities.
Sadly, the Great Smog was not only a nuisance, it was also lethal for those with respiratory and cardiovascular problems, the elderly, the babies and the infants. Amidst coughing and the wheezing, death came silently to London. The smog literally choked thousands to death. Deaths from bronchitis and pneumonia increased more than sevenfold and the death rate in the East End increased ninefold.
Eventually, the siege abated on December 9, 1952 when cold winds from the west swept the toxic smog away from London and carried out to the North Sea. Yet, the detrimental effects lingered on, and death rates remained above normal into the summer.
Initial reports estimated that upwards of 4,000 died prematurely in the first week of the Great Smog. The mortality rate remained high for a couple of months after the Great Smog. People realized the impact of the deadly Smog when the undertakers ran out of caskets and the florists out of flowers and bouquets.
There were 12,000 unexplained deaths and additional deaths during the episode and in the two months after the abatement of the peak smog.
A preliminary report not finalized yet attributed these later deaths to an influenza epidemic. New evidence shows that only a fraction of the deaths could be from influenza.
The lungs of the dead confirmed that they died due to prolonged exposure to black carbon.
Thorough examination of the lungs of the dead confirmed that they died due to prolonged exposure to black carbon, a by-product of burning coal and a short-term overexposure to a high concentration of fine particulate matter containing heavy metals.
Initially, the British government was reluctant to act in the wake of the Great Smog.
The Coalition for Clean Air calculated the concentration of pollution in London at the time. They concluded that it might have surpassed the current pollution in China by a large margin even though PM2.5 was not measured at the time. During the Great Smog, the concentration of sulfur dioxide was 190 times higher than the WHO standard.
Following the investigation, the British Parliament passed the Clean Air Act of 1956, which restricted the burning of coal in urban areas. The Act authorized local councils to set up smoke-free zones.
The public received grants to convert from coal stoves to alternative heating systems.
It took years, for London to transit from its primary source of heating coal to gas, oil, and electricity. During the transition period, deadly smogs occurred periodically, such as one that killed 750 people in 1962. But none of them reached the scale of the Great Smog that descended upon London on December 5, 1952.
In the 1960s, after the Great Smog in London, other countries began to reduce and control their use of coal.
Now, India, a country suffering from severe air pollution is also on a similar footing. Soon, India will become the world’s second largest consumer of coal. Yet, as of today, India has not yet set standards for emissions of important pollutants in its industries.
Woman is the companion of man, gifted with equal mental capacity… If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior… If non-violence is the law of our being, the future is with women… – Mahatma Gandhi
On March 8th every year, the day originally known as the International Working Women’s Day, people around the world celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD).
In 1975, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. Two years later, in December 1977, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the role of women in peace efforts and development and urged an end to discrimination and increase support for women’s full and equal participation. To this to effect, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women Rights and International Peace observed on any day of the year according to their historical and national traditions by Member States.
The International Women’s Day 2015 celebrated globally today will highlight the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a historic roadmap signed by 189 governments 20 years ago that sets the agenda for realizing women’s rights. While there have been many achievements since then, many serious gaps remain.
On this day, the focus is on upholding women’s achievements, recognize challenges, and pay greater attention to women’s rights and gender equality to mobilize all people to do their part. The Beijing Platform for Action focuses on 12 critical areas of concern, and envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
To this end, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is the clarion call of UN Women’s Beijing+20 campaign “Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture it!”
The controversial BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” directed by the British filmmaker, Ms. Leslee Udwin, banned in India, made it to the World Wide Web.
The documentary focuses on the horrific case of the brutally beaten and gang-raped Jyoti Singh on December 16, 2012 in New Delhi. The incident sent shock waves around the world and led to protests all over India demanding changes in attitudes towards women.
Mukesh Singh, the Delhi rapist says victim shouldn’t have fought back (Source: bbc.com)
Mukesh Singh, one of the four rapists, now facing the death penalty, recounts his crime by talking to the camera. He does not show the slightest regret. He does not seem to have understood the gravity of his actions, nor the actions of his criminal companions. He just says:
The 15 or 20 minutes of the incident, I was driving the bus. They switched off the lights. My brother was the main guy. They hit the boy and he just hid between the seats. The girl was screaming, “Help me! Help me!“
My brother said, “Don’t stop the bus. Keep driving!“
They hit her and dragged her to the back. Then they went in turns. First the juvenile and Ram Singh. After that, Akshay and the rest went. Someone put his hand inside her and pulled out something long. It was her intestines.
He said, “She’s dead. Throw her out quickly.“
First, they tried the back door, but it didn’t open. So, they dragged her to the front. They threw her out.
My drunk state wore off completely. I couldn’t even control the steering. I only drove the bus. It’s lies that my brother or Akshay
took the steering. Only I drove.
People say this happened, that happened, that the driver was changed. Show me how we changed drivers, and I’ll accept I also
went to the back and killed her.
We went straight home. They were saying, “Where’s their stuff?“
It was in the front. The mobile, the watch.
Pawan put the shoes on, Akshay put the jacket on. They wore the stuff. They had no fear.
And on the way, the juvenile said: “Sir, I threw it away… What I pulled out of her body I threw it away. I wrapped it in cloth and threw it out.”
We reached home in about 10 minutes.
We agreed no one would say anything, and if the police got involved, no one would name names.
There was a lot of blood. Blood on the seats, blood on the floor. Akshay and the juvenile both cleaned the bus.
Vinay had a lot of blood on his hands. He washed them at my house.
I went to sleep.
I can’t say why this incident – this accident – happened. Mainly to teach them a lesson.
My brother had done such things before, but this time his intention was not to rape or fight. He had the right to explain to them. He asked the boy why he was out with a girl so late at night.
The boy said, “It’s none of your business,” and slapped him.
There was fighting, beating. Those who raped, raped.
They thought that if they do “wrong things” with them, then they won’t tell anyone out of shame. They’d learn a lesson.
When being raped, she shouldn’t fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they’d have dropped her off after doing her, and only hit the boy.
People say, when you hang, they put this on your neck. The eyes pop out, the tongue sticks out, that’s what they say. They’ve made this such a big issue. People have committed bigger crimes, and nothing had happened to them. In Barabanki after the rape, her eyes were taken out. Sometimes they put acid on girls. There was another rape where they burnt her alive. Wasn’t that wrong? If ours is wrong, then that was wrong too.
The death penalty will make things even more dangerous for girls. Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Before, they would rape and say, “Leave her, she won’t tell anyone.” Now when they rape, especially the criminal types, they will just kill the girl. Death.
In the film, the convict Mukesh Singh’s comments are not the only ones that shock the audience. Despicable and disturbing are the warped misogynistic ideas and comments voiced with great flourish by M.L. Sharma and A.P. Singh, the two lawyers representing the rapists..
Lawyer M.L. Sharma says in the film:
“That girl was with some unknown boy who took her on a date. In our society, we never allow our girls to come out from the house after 6:30 or 7:30 or 8:30 in the evening with any unknown person.”
“They left our Indian culture. They were under the imagination of the filmy culture, in which they can do anything. “
“She should not be put on the streets just like food. The ‘lady’, on the other hand, you can say the ‘girl’ or ‘woman’, are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop it.”
“You are talking about man and woman as friends. Sorry, that doesn’t have any place in our society. A woman means I immediately put the sex in his eyes. We have the best culture. In our culture, there is no place for a woman.”
“He would like to create a damage. He will put his hand… Insert, hit! It is just like that kind of action. Beat him. Putting his hand forcefully inside. “
Lawyer A.P. Singh says in the film:
“If very important or very necessary, she should go outside, but she should go with their family member like uncle, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, etc., etc. She should not go in night hours with her boyfriend… “
“If my daughter or sister engaged in pre-marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight. This is my stand. I still today stand by that reply.”
“A number of criminal cases of murder, robbery, rape are pending against approximately 250 members of parliament. Sitting members of parliament. But their cases are not being tried in fast-track courts. Their cases are not being tried based on day-to-day hearings. Why? If you want to give a message to society against rape, against robbery, against murder, then you should start from your own neck.”
In one scene Puneeta Devi, wife of Akshay Thakur asks:
“Am I not a daughter of this country? Don’t I have the right to live? Will there be no more rapes in Delhi? Will you hang all rapists? A woman is protected by her husband. If he’s dead, who will protect her and for whom will she live? I also don’t want to live. Priyanshu, my son, is a child. He understands nothing. I will strangle him to death. what else can I do?”
These and other scenes showing force used by the Delhi Police while trying to quell the protests by students and the public has led to the ban of this documentary film in India.
Director Ms. Leslee Udwin said:
“I have constantly stressed this is not an Indian problem, it is a global problem. I remain confident that this film will be a powerful tool for change.”
Each year the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8th. The film was due to be aired in the United Kingdom on Sunday, March 8, 2015 to coincide with IWD. In the wake of attempts by the Indian government to block the release of the film worldwide BBC brought its broadcast forward. BBC Four broadcast it on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 3:30 am IST.
The BBC said that nearly 300,000 viewers tuned in to watch the film and received only 32 complaints against it.
“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
– Mother Teresa
Born in 1981, Narayanan Krishnan, a former award-winning chef hails from Madurai, Tamilnadu, India.
In 2002, while working at Taj Hotels, Bengaluru, India, he secured a job as a chef in a five-star hotel in Switzerland. Before heading for Europe, he went to his birthplace to see his parents. There, on his way to a temple, he saw a distressing scene. Narayanan recalls:
“I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idli [rice cake], which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”
Narayanan forfeited the job in Switzerland. From June 2002 onwards, using his savings of about $2500, he started distributing around 30 food packets a day for the destitute in and around Madurai City.
Narayanan Krishnan action reminds me of an incident in the Gospel of Mark:
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)
In 2003, Narayanan Krishnan founded the nonprofit Akshaya Trust. In Sanskrit, Akshaya means “non-depleting.” In Hindu mythology, Goddess Annapoorani fed the hungry with the never depleting “Akshaya bowl”. Krishnan said that he chose the name Akshaya “to signify that human compassion should never decay or perish … The spirit of helping others must prevail forever.”
Narayanan Krishnan wakes up every day at 4 am and with his team, prepares a simple hot meal. After loading the cooked food in a donated van, the team goes out to feed around 400 destitute, mentally disabled, and elderly people in Madurai. He provides them breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Narayanan Krishnan shaves a destitute.
He not only feeds the needy, he has also acquired the skills of a barber. With the comb, scissors and razor he carries along with him, he cuts hair and shaves those he serves, transforming them into dignified persona. Krishnan says:
“I cut their hair, I give them a shave, I give them a bath. For them to feel, psychologically, that they are also human beings, that there are people to care for them, that they have a hand to hold, and a hope to live. Food is one part, and love is another part. So, the food will give them physical nutrition, and the love and affection which you show will give them mental nutrition.”
Narayanan Krishnan, born into the Brahmin caste says:
“Brahmins are not supposed to touch these people, clean these people, hug these people, feed these people. Everybody has got 5.5 liters of blood. I am just a human being. For me, everybody is the same. “
Many destitute people do not know their names or where they come from. Some, because of their conditions, are paranoid and hostile. They do not beg, ask for help or offer thanks. Even then, their attitude only helps strengthen Krishnan’s steadfast resolve to help them.
“The panic, suffering of the human hunger is the driving force in me and my team members of Akshaya,” he said. “I get this energy from the people. The food which I cook … the enjoyment which they get is the energy. I see the soul. I want to save my people.”
In 2010, Narayanan Krishnan was in “CNN heroes 2010″ list. He was selected among the top 10 out of 10,000 nominations from more than 100 countries.
Narayanan Krishnan summarizes his goal:
“What is the ultimate purpose of life? It is to give! Start giving. See the joy in giving.“
In her book “EFFECTIVE LIVING,” Lois Smith Murray says on page 154:
Tolstoy wrote, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
In his book “A FOR ARTEMIS,” Sutton Wodfield says on page 44:
Over Goldie’s bed, tacked on the wall, was one of those mottoes you can buy at Woolworths for a bob. This one said, “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.”
However, the most common claim points to the Persian poet Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī (Persian: ابومحمد الدین بن عبدالله شیرازی), better known by his pen-name Saʿdī (Persian: سعدی) or Saadi Shirazi or simply Saadi. Born in Shiraz, Iran, c. 1210, he was one of the major Persian poet and prose writer of the medieval period.
His best-known works are Bustan (The Orchard) completed in 1257 and Gulistan (The Rose Garden) in 1258.
Saʿdī composed his didactic work Gulistan in both prose and verse. It contains many moralizing stories like the fables of the French writer Jean de La Fontaine (1621-95), and personal anecdotes. The text interspersed with a variety of short poems contains aphorisms, advice, and humorous reflections. It demonstrates Saʿdī ‘s profound awareness of the absurdity of human existence.
In Persian lands, his maxims were highly valued and manuscripts of his work were widely copied and illustrated. Saʿdī wrote that he composed Gulistan to teach the rules of conduct in life to both kings and dervishes.
In Chapter III – On the Excellence of Contentment, story 19, Saʿdī wrote:
I never lamented about the vicissitudes of time or complained of the turns of fortune except on the occasion when I was barefooted and unable to procure slippers. But when I entered the great mosque of Kufah with a sore heart and beheld a man without feet I offered thanks to the bounty of God, consoled myself for my want of shoes and recited:
‘A roast fowl is to the sight of a satiated man Less valuable than a blade of fresh grass on the table And to him who has no means nor power A burnt turnip is a roasted fowl.‘
Saʿdī died on December 9, 1291, in Shiraz, Iran.
Modern versions of his story are often cited erroneously as Arabian proverbs, with wordings such as:
“I thought I was abused because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet,”
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet,“
“I felt sorry because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.“
In the case of Helen Keller the quote “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” derived from Saʿdī ‘s story had been her credo. It helped her overcome self-pity and to be of service to others.
Recently I saw this quote on Facebook that cited the author as William Shakespeare. Facebook is a notorious medium where people post quotes without verifying who said it in the first instance. And people like lambs copy those quotes believing in the false axiom that “whatever is in print must be true.” So, soon someone might post this quote with the picture of Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and claim that this was said by him.
My article “Actions speak louder than words!” has evoked a good response from my readers. One person after reading the article has asked: “So what is your action?”
This is my reply:
Look at this (sinful) woman. She has come to Jesus and found in him her Saviour. She wetted his feet with her tears and then wiped them with her hair. Look at verse Luke 7:50, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
It is our faith that saves us. We either look at this woman and say, “Thank you Lord, I am not like her,” then the question becomes, “Has your faith saved you?”
But if our response is “Lord, have mercy on me,” then the good news is mercy is freely given.
Jesus is here and He will always be wherever we are or who or whatever we choose to be. This woman knew Jesus was there to forgive her and she loved Him for that. In the same way, I know Jesus is forever here to forgive me, no matter who I am or what I have done. I know he will forgive me.
Most of us do not get over our afflictions and then go to Jesus, rather we approach Him and He removes them, and He also gives us something else to live for.
My action in life has always been “do more than what I am paid for,” like the woman wiping the feet of Jesus with her tears, wiping it with her hair, and anointing it with perfumed ointment.
There is nothing in this world we could ever do to make up for the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Yet, most of us are not called to do anything. So, most of us forget that it is easy after being Christians for a while to become a Pharisee and point a “holier than thou” finger at others.
Hugh Herr, an American, born October 25, 1964, a double amputee is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr is a rock climber, engineer, and biophysicist.
Herr grew up in rural Pennsylvania, and his only dream was becoming a mountaineer. By the time he was 8, being a prodigy rock climber, he scaled the face of the 11,627-foot (3,544 m) Mount Temple in the Canadian Rockies.
In January 1982, the 17-year-old Hugh Herr, acknowledged as one of the best climbers in the United States, and a fellow climber 20-year-old Jeff Batzer ascended a difficult technical ice route in Huntington Ravine on Mount Washington in New Hampshire. They were caught in a blizzard. Disoriented, they wandered through the frozen wilderness. Eventually, they descended into the Great Gulf and spent three nights in −20 °F (−29 °C) degree temperatures. When rescued, both the climbers had suffered severe frostbite and hypothermia. During the rescue attempt, an avalanche killed a volunteer named Albert Dow.
Months of surgeries followed. Unfortunately, both legs of Hugh Herr were amputated below the knee. His companion, Jeff Batzer lost his lower left leg, all the toes on his right foot, and the fingers of his right hand. He did not climb again. He joined the clergy and is now the director of pastoral care at the Lancaster Evangelical Free Church.
After the amputation and rehabilitation, Hugh Herr focused on academics. He earned an undergraduate degree in physics at the Millersville University, and then a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, followed by a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University.
Soon, an undaunted Hugh Herr using specialized prostheses that he himself designed, was climbing once again, a feat his doctors told him was unthinkable.
Hugh Herr designed and created prosthetic feet with high toe stiffness that made it possible for him to stand on small rock edges the width of a coin. He designed titanium-spiked feet to assist him in ascending steep ice walls. He used the prostheses to alter his height that could range from five to eight feet, to avoid awkward body positions and to grab hand and footholds that were previously out of reach. He created robotic powered ankles because that was the only way for smooth walking.
Using the prostheses, Herr climbed rock cliffs at a more advanced level than he had before the amputation. He became the first person with a major amputation to perform in a sport on par with able-bodied sportsmen.
At present, Hugh Herr is an associate professor in MIT’s Program in Media Arts and Sciences and at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. As the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, Herr focuses on the designing of the next generation of bionic limbs and robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. He is developing wearable robotic systems that serve to augment the human physical capability. He is rewriting the laws of physiology by redefining what it means to be human.
TED is a nonprofit group devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today it covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.
TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world’s leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less on Technology, Entertainment and Design — plus science, business, global issues, the arts and much more.
In the following video, Dr. Hugh Herr shows his incredible technology in a talk that is both technically and deeply personal. He demonstrates the Biometric technology developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group with the help of the ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.
Looking deeply inside nature through the magnifying glass of science, designers extract principles, processes and materials that are forming the very basis of design methodology, from synthetic constructs that resemble biological materials to computational methods that emulate neural processes, nature is driving design. Design is also driving nature. In realms of genetics, regenerative medicine and synthetic biology, designers are growing novel technologies not foreseen or anticipated by nature.
Bionics explores the interplay between biology and design. As you can see, my legs are bionic. Today I will tell human stories of bionic integration, how electromechanics attached to the body and implanted inside the body are beginning to bridge the gap between disability and ability, between human limitation and human potential.
Bionics has defined my physicality. In 1982, both of my legs were amputated due to tissue damage from frostbite incurred during a mountain climbing accident. At that time, I didn’t view my body as broken. I reasoned that a human being can never be broken. Technology is broken. Technology is inadequate. This simple but powerful idea was a call to arms to advance technology for the elimination of my own disability and ultimately the disability of others. I began by developing specialized limbs that allowed me to return to the vertical world of rock and ice climbing. I quickly realized that the artificial part of my body is malleable, able to take on any form, any function, a blank slate through which to create perhaps structures that could extend beyond biological capability. I made my height adjustable. I could be as short as five feet or as tall as I’d like. (Laughter) So when I was feeling badly about myself, insecure, I would jack my height up, but when I was feeling confident and suave, I would knock my height down a notch just to give the competition a chance. (Laughter) (Applause) Narrow, wedged feet allowed me to climb steep rock fissures where the human foot cannot penetrate, and spiked feet enabled me to climb vertical ice walls without ever experiencing muscle leg fatigue. Through technological innovation, I returned to my sport stronger and better. Technology had eliminated my disability and allowed me a new climbing prowess. As a young man, I imagined a future world where technology so advanced could rid the world of disability, a world in which neural implants would allow the visually impaired to see, a world in which the paralyzed could walk via body exoskeletons.
Sadly, because of deficiencies in technology, disability is rampant in the world. This gentleman is missing three limbs. As a testimony to current technology, he is out of the wheelchair, but we need to do a better job in bionics to allow one day full rehabilitation for a person with this level of injury. At the MIT Media Lab, we’ve established the Center for Extreme Bionics. The mission of the center is to put forth fundamental science and technological capability that will allow the biomechatronic and regenerative repair of humans across a broad range of brain and body disabilities.
Today, I’m going to tell you how my legs function, how they work, as a case in point for this center. Now, I made sure to shave my legs last night, because I knew I’d be showing them off.
Bionics entails the engineering of extreme interfaces. There’s three extreme interfaces in my bionic limbs: mechanical, how my limbs are attached to my biological body; dynamic, how they move like flesh and bone; and electrical, how they communicate with my nervous system.
I’ll begin with mechanical interface. In the area of design, we still do not understand how to attach devices to the body mechanically. It’s
extraordinary to me that in this day and age, one of the most mature, oldest technologies in the human timeline, the shoe, still gives us blisters. How can this be? We have no idea how to attach things to our bodies. This is the beautifully lyrical design work of Professor Neri Oxman at the MIT Media Lab, showing spatially varying exoskeletal impedances, shown here by color variation in this 3D-printed model. Imagine a future where clothing is stiff and soft where you need it, when you need it, for optimal support and flexibility, without ever causing discomfort.
My bionic limbs are attached to my biological body via synthetic skins with stiffness variations that mirror my underlying tissue biomechanics. To achieve that mirroring, we first developed a mathematical model of my biological limb. To that end, we used imaging tools such as MRI to look inside my body to figure out the geometries and locations of various tissues. We also took robotic tools. Here’s a 14-actuator circle that goes around the biological limb. The actuators come in, find the surface of the limb, measure its unloaded shape, and then they push on the tissues to measure tissue
compliances at each anatomical point. We combine these imaging and robotic data to build a mathematical description of my biological limb, shown on the left. You see a bunch of points, or nodes. At each node, there’s a color that represents tissue compliance. We then do a mathematical transformation to the design of the synthetic skin shown on the right, and we’ve discovered optimality is where the body is stiff, the synthetic skin should be soft, where the body is soft, the synthetic skin is stiff, and this mirroring occurs across all tissue compliances. With this framework, we produced bionic limbs that are the most comfortable limbs I’ve ever worn. Clearly in the future, our clothing, our shoes, our braces, our prostheses, will no longer be designed and manufactured using artisan strategies, but rather data-driven quantitative frameworks. In that future, our shoes will no longer give us blisters.
We’re also embedding sensing and smart materials into the synthetic skins. This is a material developed by SRI International, California. Under electrostatic effect, it changes stiffness. So under zero voltage, the material is compliant. It’s floppy like paper. Then the button’s pushed, a voltage is applied, and it becomes stiff as a board. We embed this material into the synthetic skin that attaches my bionic limb to my biological body. When I walk here, it’s no voltage. My interface is soft and compliant. The button’s pushed, voltage is applied, and it stiffens, offering me a greater maneuverability of the bionic limb.
We’re also building exoskeletons. This exoskeleton becomes stiff and soft in just the right areas of the running cycle to protect the biological joints from high impacts and degradation. In the future, we’ll all be wearing exoskeletons in common activities such as running.
Next, dynamic interface. How do my bionic limbs move like flesh and bone? At my MIT lab, we study how humans with normal physiologies stand, walk and run. What are the muscles doing, and how are they controlled by the spinal cord? This basic science motivates what we build. We’re building bionic ankles, knees and hips. We’re building body parts from the ground up. The bionic limbs that I’m wearing are called BiOMs. They’ve been fitted to nearly 1,000 patients, 400 of which have been U.S. wounded soldiers.
How does it work? At heel strike, under computer control, the system controls stiffness to attenuate the shock of the limb hitting the ground. Then at mid-stance, the bionic limb outputs high torques and powers to lift the person into the walking stride, comparable to how muscles work in the calf region. This bionic propulsion is very important clinically to patients. So, on the left you see the bionic device worn by a lady — on the right a passive device worn by the same lady that fails to emulate normal muscle function — enabling her to do something everyone should be able to do, go up and down their steps at home. Bionics also allows for extraordinary athletic feats. Here’s a gentleman running up a rocky pathway. This is Steve Martin, not the comedian, who lost his legs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan.
We’re also building exoskeletal structures using these same principles that wrap around a biological limb. This gentleman does not have any leg condition, any disability. He has a normal physiology, so these exoskeletons are applying muscle-like torques and powers so that his own muscles need not apply those torques and powers. This is the first exoskeleton in history that actually augments human walking. It significantly reduces metabolic cost. It’s so profound in its augmentation that when a normal, healthy person wears the device for 40 minutes and then takes it off, their own biological legs feel ridiculously heavy and awkward. We’re beginning the age in which machines attached to our bodies will make us stronger and faster and more efficient.
Moving on to electrical interface, how do my bionic limbs communicate with my nervous system? Across my residual limb are electrodes that measure the electrical pulse of my muscles. That’s communicated to the bionic limb, so when I think about moving my phantom limb, the robot tracks those movement desires. This diagram shows fundamentally how the bionic limb is controlled, so we model the missing biological limb, and we’ve discovered what reflexes occurred, how the reflexes of the spinal cord are controlling the muscles, and that capability is embedded in the chips of the bionic limb. What we’ve done, then, is we modulate the sensitivity of the reflex, the modeled spinal reflex, with the neural signal, so when I relax my muscles in my residual limb, I get very little torque and power, but the more I fire my muscles, the more torque I get, and I can even run. And that was the first demonstration of a running gait under neural command. Feels great. (Applause)
We want to go a step further. We want to actually close the loop between the human and the bionic external limb. We’re doing experiments where we’re growing nerves, transected nerves, through channels or microchannel arrays. On the other side of the channel, the nerve then attaches to cells, skin cells and muscle cells. In the motor channels, we can sense how the person wishes to move. That can be sent out wirelessly to the bionic limb, then sensors on the bionic limb can be converted to stimulations in adjacent channels, sensory channels. So, when this is fully developed and for human use, persons like myself will not only have synthetic limbs that move like flesh and bone, but actually feel like flesh and bone.
This video shows Lisa Mallette shortly after being fitted with two bionic limbs. Indeed, bionics is making a profound difference in people’s lives.
(Video) Lisa Mallette: Oh my God. Oh my God, I can’t believe it. It’s just like I’ve got a real leg. Now, don’t start running.
Man: Now turn around, and do the same thing walking up. Walk up, get on your heel to toe, like you would normally just walk on level ground. Try to walk right up the hill. LM: Oh my God. Man: Is it pushing you up? LM: Yes! I’m not even — I can’t even describe it. Man: It’s pushing you right up.
Hugh Herr: Next week, I’m visiting the center’s —
(Applause) Thank you, thank you.
Thank you. Next week I’m visiting the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and I’m going to try to convince CMS to grant appropriate code language and pricing so this technology can be made available to the patients that need it.
Thank you. (Applause)
It’s not well appreciated, but over half of the world’s population suffers from some form of cognitive, emotional, sensory or motor condition, and because of poor technology, too often, conditions result in disability and a poorer quality of life. Basic levels of physiological function should be a part of our human rights. Every person should have the right to live life without disability if they so choose — the right to live life without severe depression; the right to see a loved one in the case of seeing impaired; or the right to walk or to dance, in the case of limb paralysis or limb amputation. As a society, we can achieve these human rights if we accept the proposition that humans are not disabled. A person can never be broken. Our built environment, our technologies, are broken and disabled. We the people need not accept our limitations, but can transcend disability through technological innovation. Indeed, through fundamental advances in bionics in this century, we will set the technological foundation for an enhanced human experience, and we will end disability.
I’d like to finish up with one more story, a beautiful story, the story of Adrianne Haslet-Davis. Adrianne lost her left leg in the Boston terrorist attack. I met Adrianne when this photo was taken at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Adrianne is a dancer, a ballroom dancer.
Adrianne breathes and lives dance. It is her expression. It is her art form. Naturally, when she lost her limb in the Boston terrorist attack, she wanted to return to the dance floor.
After meeting her and driving home in my car, I thought, I’m an MIT professor. I have resources. Let’s build her a bionic limb to enable her to go back to her life of dance. I brought in MIT scientists with expertise in prosthetics, robotics, machine learning and biomechanics, and over a 200-day research period, we studied dance. We brought in dancers with biological limbs, and we studied how do they move, what forces do they apply on the dance floor, and we took those data and we put forth fundamental principles of dance, reflexive dance capability, and we embedded that intelligence into the bionic limb. Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster. Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics.
It was 3.5 seconds between the bomb blasts in the Boston terrorist attack. In 3.5 seconds, the criminals and cowards took Adrianne off the dance floor. In 200 days, we put her back. We will not be intimidated, brought down, diminished, conquered or stopped by acts of violence. (Applause)
Ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to introduce Adrianne Haslet-Davis, her first performance since the attack. She’s dancing with Christian Lightner. (Applause)
(Music: “Ring My Bell” performed by Enrique Iglesias)
Ladies and gentlemen, members of the research team, Elliott Rouse and Nathan Villagaray-Carski. Elliott and Nathan.
A number in mathematics is an object used to count and measure. 1, 2, 3, and so forth are examples of natural numbers. In common usage, the term number may refer to a symbol, a word, or a mathematical abstraction.
The English names for the cardinal numbers were derived ultimately from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, the supposed proto-language that existed anywhere between 4000 and 8000 years ago. PIE was the first proposed proto-language to be widely accepted by linguists. With time, the pronunciation shifted and changed.
(originally meaning one, unique)originally meaning one, unique)
(þ here is the orthography for “th” as in “thing”)
eahta or æhta
nigen (the /g/ here is pronounced lije the y in “young”.
A numeral is a notational symbol that represents a number. We use the Hindu-Arabic numerals 0 to 9 every day. But how did these Hindu-Arabic numerals derive their form? It is a puzzle to me.
Some folk etymologies have argued that the original forms of these symbols indicated their value through the number of angles they contained, but no evidence exists of any such origin.
Recently I came across a statement that elaborated on the folk etymologies. It said:
“Numbers were named after the number of angles they represented, and each angle represented a quantity. For example, the number one has one angle, number two has two angles and so on. They have to be written with straight lines (not curved).”
I found the following image on Facebook.
Many have copied and propagated this image – the concept of angles associated with numbers. One can find them on Facebook and on many websites, explaining that this is how the numerals obtained their values.
But this claim seems to be spurious like many other urban legends. For example, 0 (zero) would have four angles if it is written with straight lines like the other numerals. So, here lies the fallacy.
So, I am still in a quandary.
Are there any authentic, rational explanation for how the present form of the Hindu-Arabic numerals we use today was derived?
Many people feel that urine is not a proper subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.
For most people, urine is not a subject for discussion. Normally, men do not give their urine more than a passing glance as it swirls out of sight down the toilet bowl, and women in all probability might not even see the urine they excrete.
Yet, since the earliest days of medicine, urine has been a useful tool for diagnosis of diseases. Changes in its color, consistency, and odor can provide important clues about the health status of our body. Urine can reveal what we have been eating, drinking, and also what diseases we have.
In Ayurveda system of Hindu traditional medicine, there are eight ways to diagnose illness: Nadi (pulse), Moothra (urine), Mala (stool), Jihva (tongue), Shabda (speech), Sparsha (touch), Druk (vision), and Aakruti (appearance). Ayurvedic practitioners approach diagnosis by using the five senses.
Tibetan medicine approaches the diagnosis of illness through three methods: questioning (asking the patient), feeling (pulse diagnosis), and seeing (observing urine, tongue, eyes, and skin). The first urine of the morning gives indications of the hot or cold nature of a disease and nyepa imbalances. Urine is analyzed for its smell, steam, bubbles, color, and a sediment known as kuya, formed in the production of bile, appears as sediment in healthy urine.
In modern western medicine, the color, density, and smell of urine can reveal much about the state of our health.
Today I came across a humorous video on Facebook titled “How Yellow is Your Urine?” posted by my Taiwanese friend Angel Chen. I have included that video below.
The video is funny and at the same time educative. It stresses that the Taiwanese are “truly a ‘good’ bunch of workers.” It says that one of Taiwan’s wealthiest entrepreneurs often asks his employees: “How Yellow is Your Urine?” because he thinks that if an employee is truly hard at work, he would not have time to drink water, leaving more time to focus on his work. As a result, his urine would simmer inside his bladder to a beautiful amber color. And, he believes that a worker with potential bladder problems would be a good employee.