Friday, January 22, 2010

Solar Eclipse report from Pakistan

Judging by the news reporting here in the US, Pakistanis spend most of their time praying, dodging or making bombs, chanting anti-American slogans, and thinking about ways how to con the US into giving them money without having to really fight the Taliban. So it may come as a surprise to see several members of the Pakistani public, armed with telescopes and solar filters, gather outside on January 15th simply to look at the the dimming of the light from the Sun. Here is a news report in English and then below that in Urdu about event organized by Khwarizmi Science Society (KSS) (see my earlier posts about their events here, here, here, and here):

And if you are fluent in Urdu, you can check out this one (for those familiar with the 80s TV serial, "Aangan Taerah", 'zara zabaan per uboor daikhiyay'):

I'm glad the bit about superstitions is brought out clearly. After the July solar eclipse in Pakistan, I had seen this heartbreaking picture on Pakistaniat:

Here is the caption that goes with the picture:
A physically paralyzed girl lies half-buried in sand at the banks of river Indus. Local mythology suggests burying paralyzed children in sand and exposing them to solar eclipse helps overcome paralysis.
It is the job of educators and science communicators to prevent these unfortunate incidences from happening - a particularly challenging, but necessary, task in a country with a literacy rate hovering around 50%.

Great job, Sabieh, Umair and others, for addressing this issue explicitly in the report.


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