Kandu geri monster

The photo below seems to have gone viral in the Maldives. The photo was snapped by someone from the police station in the island of Kulhudhuffushi in HDh. Atoll and according to the news, has caused panic and fear among some in the island and elsewhere. Haveeru Daily reported that even the police have now started to look into it. All because the black "thing" seen behind the kid in the photo is not easily discernible as being something we are familiar with. The general conclusion seems to be that it is an unknown creature. Some are calling it a "kandu geri" (hippopotamus), some consider it to be a "fureytha" (jinn) and some consider it to be a walrus or seal. Anyone who has ever seen a hippopotamus or seal or walrus will easily dismiss those claims.

Original picture

I tend to agree with the people who think it is just a woman in a black abaya and large black "buruga" (burka). The person who took the photo apparently says that he did not notice the thing at the time he took the picture and only noticed it later when he was copying the pictures from the camera to a computer. That really is clue number 1 - people tend to ignore things they are familiar with. He most certainly had seen the "thing" at the time but ignored it because he had seen a woman in the background and was not really concerned with what she was doing or how she appears frozen-in-motion in the picture.

Processed to highlight various aspects

Clue number 2 comes from processed pictures where light levels have been manipulated to show more details, as I have done in the picture above. The thin material of the burka appears against the background as being translucent. The form of the human body is also discernible with the limbs and the cloth wrapping around it. Abayas and burkas are designed to obfuscate the human form and it performs its job well for the woman in the snapshot!

Will this madness persist and a myth like the Loch Ness monster be created in the Maldives? What shall it be called? "Kandu geri" monster? I doubt the woman will be flattered.

MAAS Public stargazing: Before Jupiter disappears!

The Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science will be kicking off its public stargazing event series tonight. Like the recently launched MAAS public science lectures series, the stargazing series will also be regular events and will be held at least once a month.

Tonight's stargazing event will mainly focus on Jupiter and its Moons as the planet will start setting early in the evening in a few weeks and will not be easily visible in the waking hours of the night for the next several months. Jupiter is a beautiful planet to look at with the telescopes we have at hand; the equatorial bands are visible brightly and, depending on the time, around 3-5 of its 64 moons can also be visible.

Venue: Masveringe Park, Male' (infront of Jade Bistro, next to the Hulhule ferry departures) (map)
Time: 8pm - 10pm, 27 January 2012
Attendance: Free, open to all

If you haven't seen Jupiter up close and personal through a telescope, then do come and join us. See you there!

MAAS Public science lectures: Thalassemia Beyond Mutations

The events and activities at Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science took a break towards the end of 2011 with the start of school holidays and us taking a break. We are switching back on for the new year this coming week with a brand new monthly "Public science lectures" series.

This coming Wednesday, MAAS will be hosting a lecture by Dr. Ibrahim Mustafa, titled "Thalassemia Beyond Mutations: A Novel Approach to Treat Thalassemia". The lecture will cover the research on the novel treatment he investigated while reading for his PhD, which you may have read a bit about from local news recently. The lecture will also, as I understand it, cover the how's and why's of Thalassemia which the public might be interested in furthering their understanding. This event might be of special interest to those who deal with Thalassemia in one capacity or the other.

When: 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM, 18 January 2012
Where: Main auditorium, Faculty of Management and Computing, Sosun Magu.

As ever, the event is open to all and free to attend. We will accommodate as many people as the lecture auditorium can hold.

Special thanks goes to Cafe' Alfresco for their kind generosity in helping make this event possible.

Happy new year!

Happy new year to all!

For me, 2011 was a very mellow year. It was a good year. Very relaxed, by my standards. Got lots of thinking done. Planned things out. Developed new ideas and concepts. But the success rate on things I had hoped to achieve was a case of hit and miss:
- Started and got really good work done on a new Internet start-up - one of two reasons I had come back to Maldives - but is still not ready for launch thanks to its scale and complexity.
- Science education and popularization - the other reason I came back - didn't go so well. The two science books in Dhivehi I had planned to write and publish, I couldn't finish. An exciting science TV series I had formulated, with a bunch of others, didn't get off the ground. The science organization I formed with two others, Maldivian Association for the Advancement of Science, fared better. We had a number of events, each with an audience and participation higher than the previous. But all it had was our love and passion for science and less in the way of proper planning and and close to none in the way of external funding.
- The tinier, highly portable version of the magnetic implant interface for my man-machine interface, which I mentioned on my previous post, was completed early in the year. But the research on the effects of extended use which I had designed it for, didn't get a start and is still sitting on my desk.
- Technova, the web and software development company I had co-founded about 6 years ago had become non-functional over the years especially with me and some others involved being away from the country. So when Semicolon, a promising Maldivian software house offered me partnership towards the end of the year, I took the opportunity. Things are looking up.

I'm usually not one to make new year resolutions or such but this year, I'm making an exception. I have set goals. I have set milestones. And I bloody damn hope I achieve them without getting distracted or lazy or bored.

I hope that by the time the Earth completes its current lap around the Sun, that I and you achieve what you all desire :-) Have a good year!