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Bangladeshi World Records

Records, we Bangladeshis have always been a record setting race. Don't believe me, well here are some records only a person from Bangladesh could accomplish.

1. Most manhole covers stolen in one day by one person a.k.a. druggie: We've all occasionally witnessed the gross scene of a gaping manhole with now cover (some of us weren't fortunate enough to witness the scene and thus were treated with a detour into the sewers). Anyone who has a heroin habit and wants his name in Guinness could give this a try.

2. Highest number of people spitting from a bus on one person: This could be a singularly unique record that no one would want to give it a try. However for us, we wouldn't even have to try. Just standing near an over stuffed bus would be enough. And the fact that no one would want to try it would make it an undisputed record.

3. Smallest university/school or highest number of universities/schools stuffed in one building: All of you people who hate your university or school, well at least be proud that it might be a record holder. No really, one building holding a university, a school and a corporate office has to be a record.

4. Highest number of people stuffed in rickshaw: Nothing much to say about this, the record explains itself. Just make sure that when you've stuffed 8 people on the rickshaw doesn't collapse. A strategy could be using kids of dwarfs. They count as people and you could probably load more them on.

5. Highest number of people pissing on one wall: This should be easy. Gather all your friends, relatives and make your way to a wall, preferably one that has a no peeing sign on it. Then start spraying. Seeing the group, bystanders are sure to chip in and empty their bladders as well.

6. Highest number of quacks (in the form of medicine men and kobirajes) practicing medicine in the city: By rounding up all the people who plod the city streets selling medicine that supposedly cure AIDS, we could set a record by coming up with cures for disease that even high paid scientists haven't found yet. The fact that whether these cures work or not is dubious is negligible, since surprisingly these cures sell.

7. The highest amount of bribes taken by a politician in one day: This could be something that the group of politicians in this country could try out for. It won't be hard for them since they're well practiced in such matters.

8. The number/variety of animals owned by a politician: This is another record that the politicians could try out for. By initiating a zoo in their backyards they could actually bag this record. Since they already have a taste for exotic animals this record should be met with a lot enthusiasm by the politicians.

9. Least amount of toxic material in one average Dhaka meal: This is a tough one since such finding such a meal would be a gargantuan task. However this would be another undisputed Bangladeshi record that won't ever be challenged.

10. We still survive: Can't figure it out? Well this is a record we already hold, each and every one of us. The fact that we still survive and the population manages to grow everyday even though we consume so many toxic materials in our food everyday is a miracle. No other race of people can claim to stomach so many different types of poison and still live to tell about it. We rule…

By Tareq Adnan

Ultra-energetic cosmic rayss

For more than a decade, physicists in Japan have been seeing cosmic rays that should not exist. Cosmic rays are particles - mostly protons but sometimes, heavy atomic nuclei - that travel through the universe at close to the speed of light. Some cosmic rays detected on Earth are produced in violent events such as supernovae, but we still don't know the origins of the highest-energy particles, which are the most energetic particles ever seen in nature. But that's not the real mystery.

As cosmic-ray particles travel through space, they lose energy in collisions with the low-energy photons that pervade the universe, such as those of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Einstein's special theory of relativity dictates that any cosmic rays reaching Earth from a source outside our galaxy will have suffered so many energy-shedding collisions that their maximum possible energy is 5 × 1019 electronvolts. This is known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin limit.

Over the past decade, however, the University of Tokyo's Akeno Giant Air Shower Array - 111 particle detectors spread out over 100 square kilometres - has detected several cosmic rays above the GZK limit. In theory, they can only have come from within our galaxy, avoiding an energy-sapping journey across the cosmos. However, astronomers can find no source for these cosmic rays in our galaxy. So what is going on?

One possibility is that there is something wrong with the Akeno results. Another is that Einstein was wrong. His special theory of relativity says that space is the same in all directions, but what if particles found it easier to move in certain directions? Then the cosmic rays could retain more of their energy, allowing them to beat the GZK limit.

Physicists at the Pierre Auger experiment in Mendoza, Argentina, are now working on this problem. Using 1600 detectors spread over 3000 square kilometres, Auger should be able to determine the energies of incoming cosmic rays and shed more light on the Akeno results.

Alan Watson, an astronomer at the University of Leeds, UK, and spokesman for the Pierre Auger project, is already convinced there is something worth following up here. "I have no doubts that events above 1020 electronvolts exist. There are sufficient examples to convince me," he says. The question now is, what are they? How many of these particles are coming in, and what direction are they coming from? Until we get that information, there's no telling how exotic the true explanation could be.

By Asifur Rahman Khan

Rain back home

A village hut. Early morning

The heavy downpour had been on ever since late last night. By now the sky looked clear white, but the rain persisted at the same constant rate. The leaves of trees seemed to sparkle a shade of green so pure it only seemed possible in paintings. Puddles had formed here and there, and one could see people running to and fro, having to work but eager not to get wet. A stray dog lay curled up under a big tree, wet and shivering. A boy in his early teens sits by the window, looking longingly at the outside world of wild breeze and hard rain. Of course, he would much rather go out in the rain, for a game of football with the other kids. But no luck there! His parents had actually allowed him to skip school today, just so he would not have an excuse to go out in the rain. When parents let you miss school, you know things are serious! Sitting in his room, by the window, the boy sighed, longing for the day he would be old enough to decide when or when not to go out.

Streets of Dhaka. Late afternoon

The young man lazily strolled along the streets of Nilkhet, seeming oblivious to the torrent from the skies that drenched him, making his shirt cling to his torso. He didn't seem to care though, only making sure that the book in his hand was carefully wrapped in the polythene. At the back of his mind, the young man knew he should not be sauntering idly in the rain, that he should rush back home and get started with all the he is supposed to get done over the weekend. Yet he couldn't bring himself to call a riksha. Life in this strange city was already mechanical enough. Memories of his childhood in the village were the one thing that kept him going in this drab world of today. He would not miss this rain this odd link to his childhood and the village he called home. When, how many days and how many miles hence would he be able to return to that small village hut, that bed by the window, those serene evenings by the pond? The young man walked on, saying a little prayer for the well-being of his folks back home.

Some First World Country. Late evening

The group of people walked down the pavements, engaged in idle chitchat. All the protective gear they had on still didn't seem enough against the chilly air, cutting through all of it and sinking down deep to the bones, making them shiver.

“Anybody else hating this rain already?” One member of the group piped up, and was immediately overwhelmed by the deluge of affirmative responses. Everyone seemed to have something to say about the horrible weather, the difficulty getting to the workplace and the absolute nuisance that this ceaseless rain was turning out to be. They talked on and on until everybody was talking to everybody else and no one was really listerning anymore. Only one person in the group didn't have anything to say. He just walked on along with the others, his mind traveling back to a faraway time and place. His college days, the streets and lanese he would frequent even in the rain, often especially in the rain. Funny, how rain never occurred as a hindrance to him, then or now. The man walked on with the others, listening to them pointing out all the problems that rain brings. The only though on his mind was about when he would get to go back home, to the narrow lanes and puddles of water that were now mementos of a mother awaiting the return of her son.

Present day Dhaka. A typical residential area

An elderly gentleman sits in the balcony, looking out towards the streets of Dhaka. Traffic was at uncannily sparse and for once Dhaka looked empty, as if on the second day of Eid or more commonly, during a hartal. Intermittent rain over the last two days has clogged the city's drainage system, flooding the streets with dirty water. No one enjoys having to go out in this terrible weather, yet of course so many must, in the unavoidable search for livelihood. Children today don't seem to enjoy the rain, or have any feel for it. They never showed the urge to go outside during the rain, jump around with the other kids, splashing the puddles and getting drenched head to toe. Some of them are busy working on today's lot of homework, while others are glued to their racing, shooting or combat games.

The elderly fellow laid back in his easy-chair, letting the wind chase away the newspaper from the table before him. He closed his eyes, shutting out the sight of submerged streets, suffering pedestrians and litter floating around in the waters. As the gust of wind carried in droplets of rainwater, sprinkling on his face, the man willed himself to recall the images of the countryside of his childhood, when rain seemed so beautiful. What happened to the home he had left years ago?

By Hammad Ali



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