Monthly Archives: March 2017

London attack: Muslim raises $37,000 for victims

London attack: Muslim raises over $30,000 for victims

After witnessing the car-and-knife attack from his office window, Muddassar Ahmed launched a crowdfunding campaign.

 
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A crowdfunding campaign by a British Muslim who witnessed an attack in London that killed four people has almost reached a target of $37,000, which will be donated to the victims’ families.

By the time of publishing, more than 1,000 people had donated $33,500 towards the fund.

On Wednesday, Muddassar Ahmed was barricaded in a nearby office building in Westminster at the time of the car-and-knife attack, which also wounded dozens.

“I was there and I was shocked,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because I saw what happened, I felt that had to do something for the victims … I wanted to raise money quickly so I launched the campaign late that night.”

“It was primarily to help families of the victims … it was something that could be done to offer support and empathise with the families.”

Ahmed then called his friends to help with fundraising.

Two British Muslim MPs – Naz Shah and Yasmin Qureshi – have since voiced their support for the Muslims United for London initiative.

‘Being proactive is part of the solution’

On the crowdfunding page, Ahmed wrote that he was shocked to witness “the injuries and loss of life outside my window”.

“I reflected on what it means to be a born-and-bred Londoner and found myself proud of how security and medical services responded,” he said.

The suspect behind the attack, who was killed after he stabbed a policeman to death, was named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood. Reports said he was a Muslim convert.

Some 40 people were injured in the attack, 29 of whom were being treated in hospital, according to police. Seven were still in critical condition.

“Rather than just condemning the attacks, being proactive and actually doing something is part of the solution,” said Ahmed.

While acknowledging that the campaign might help to show Muslims in a positive light, that was not his “primary goal”.

READ MORE: Seeking solace in wake of the Westminster attack

Some of Britain’s Muslim community leaders remain concerned about a possible backlash in the aftermath of the attack.

Following similar violence across Europe in recent years, Muslims have suffered collective punishment as some equate Islam with “terrorism”.

In London, police have advised several mosques to increase security.

“We’re in a very difficult position, the Muslim community,” Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park mosque, told Al Jazeera.

“We hope that there’s no reaction from some far-right extremists who may use this incident to spread fear and hate and racism among our society.”

READ MORE: On Facebook Live, emojis and distortion

Meanwhile, religious leaders from different faiths have gathered near the site of the attack to call for unity.

“To Christians, to Anglicans, who sense a great emotion of anger, that is appropriate when the innocent are killed,” said Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury. “It is not appropriate to be angry at a whole category of people, but simply at one person.”

Woman in hijab abused on social media

Following Wednesday’s attack, a photograph picturing a Muslim woman walking at the scene went viral, with many questioning her willingness to aid the wounded.

Thousands of people on Twitter shared the image, which drew a barrage of racistmessages.

The Muslim woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, later released a statement through Tell MAMA, a UK-based organisation that keeps track of Islamophobic attacks.

“My thoughts at that moment were one of sadness, fear, and concern,” the woman said. “What the image does not show is that I had talked to other witnesses to try and find out what was happening, to see if I could be of any help, even though enough people were at the scene tending to the victims.”

She added that she was “devastated” by the attack, and at the shock of finding her picture plastered all over social media “by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia”.

Additional reporting by Zineb Abdessadok, Neave Barker, Barnaby Phillips.

 

Source: Al Jazeera News

Westminster Attack United Kingdom Europe

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Cheap plastic film cools whatever it touches up to 10°C

 

Large-scale film cools objects on which it sits.

Y. Zhai et al., Science 355, 6325 (9 February 2017)

Cheap plastic film cools whatever it touches up to 10°C

If heat is not your thing, rejoice: A thin plastic sheet may soon provide some relief from the intense summer sun. The film, made from transparent plastic embedded with tiny glass spheres, absorbs almost no visible light, yet pulls in heat from any surface it touches. Already, the new material, when combined with a mirrorlike silver film, has been shown to cool whatever it sits on by as much as 10°C. And because it can be made cheaply at high volumes, it could be used to passively cool buildings and electronics such as solar cells, which work more efficiently at lower temperatures.

During the day most materials—concrete, asphalt, metals, and even people—absorb visible and near-infrared (IR) light from the sun. That added energy excites molecules, which warm up and, over time, emit the energy back out as photons with longer wavelengths, typically in the midrange of the infrared spectrum. That helps the materials cool back down, particularly at night when they are no longer absorbing visible light but are still radiating IR photons.

In recent years, researchers have tried to goose this “passive cooling” effect by making materials that absorb as little visible light as possible yet continue to emit mid-IR light. In 2014, for example, researchers led by Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineer at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, created a sandwichlike film of silicon dioxide (glass) and hafnium dioxide that reflected almost all the light that hit it while strongly emitting mid-IR light, a combination that allowed it to cool surfaces by as much as 5°C. Still, Fan and his colleagues had to use clean room technology to make their films, a costly process that doesn’t work well on a large scale.

Glass spheres in a plastic film strongly emit infrared light, cooling objects below.

Y. Zhai et al., Science 355, 6325 (9 February 2017)

When Xiaobo Yin, a materials scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, saw Fan’s paper, he noticed the material worked in part by encouraging infrared photons to bounce back and forth between the layers of the film in a manner that made it a stronger IR emitter. Yin wondered whether there was a simpler way to do this. From previous work, Yin knew that spherical objects can act like tiny resonance chambers—much as the sound box of a guitar encourages sound waves of a particular frequency to bounce back and forth inside. He and his colleagues calculated that glass beads about 8 micrometers in diameter—little bigger than a red blood cell—would make powerful IR resonators and thus strong IR emitters.

 

So they bought a batch of glass powder from a commercial supplier and mixed it with the starting material for a transparent plastic called polymethylpentene. They then formed their material into 300-millimeter-wide sheets and backed them with a thin mirrorlike coating of silver. When laid across objects in the midday sun, the bottom layer of silver reflected almost all the visible light that hit it: The film absorbed only about 4% of incoming photons. At the same time, the film sucked heat out of whatever surface it was sitting on and radiated that energy at a mid-IR frequency of 10 micrometers. Because few air molecules absorb IR at that frequency, the radiation drifts into empty space without warming the air or the surrounding materials, causing the objects below to cool by as much as 10°C. Just as important, Yin notes that the new film can be made in a roll-to-roll setup for a cost of only $0.25 to $0.50 per square meter.

“This is very nice work demonstrating a pathway toward large-scale applications of the concept of radiative cooling,” says Fan, who did not work on the current project. Yin says that he and his colleagues are already working on one such application, chilling water that could then be used to cool buildings and other large structures. That could be particularly useful in electricity-generating power plants, where cooling water even a few degrees can increase energy production efficiency by a percentage point or two, a “big gain,” Yin says. And without the silver backing, he adds, the plastic film could also increase the power generation from solar cells, which operate more efficiently at lower temperatures.

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