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How old is Tamil ?

Without a doubt – yes. Let me elaborate on the statements being made in the question- how old is Tamil, is it classical and does it survive in a form related to the original:

  • How old is it: There is strong evidence to suggest Sanskrit was the oldest written language in India – estimates vary between 1100BC to 1700BC, based on the data from the Vedas. However Tamil works have oral tradition, which means we cannot conclusively zero in on a hard date for the origin of Tamil. Earliest estimates however, vary from 5300 BC onwards. The earliest written works are from “hero stones” – a tribute to the bravery of warriors, inscribed in stone:

 

This particular example above is estimated to be 2100-2400 years old – 400BC.
At any given time, Archeological Survey of India has at least one major new find to work on related to this area. The most recent one is a temple believed to be dating back to 300BC, a temple near Kanchipuram, Chennai:

So as per written records(with conclusive evidence), the age of Tamil literature started around 2600 years ago or 600 BC – significantly younger (1100 years) than sanskrit, if we go by written evidence. This date will change as more evidence is dug up(literally).

  • Is it a classical language: The accepted definition of a classical languages is:

 

it should be ancient, it should be an independent tradition that  arose mostly on its own, not as an offshoot of another tradition, and it  must have a large and extremely rich body of ancient literature

To back up this statement, there are thousands of works, I will cite the most important ones:
1. Independent tradition:
Tamil evolved independent of the rest of the languages of modern India derived from sanskrit. There are however, influences. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. Both Tirukkural and Tolkāppiyam have influences from sanskrit(more on this latter).  But the language tamil can be considered independent – I am basing this on the fact that its phonetics and grammatical structure are vastly different from Yaska’s Nirukta, Rigveda Pratishakya and Panini Ashtayayi(these are sanskrit grammatical works), hence the the argument that tamil borrows from sanskrit are not entirely true (most sanskrit words were adopted in middle ages, nearly 800 years later). There are hundreds of sources used for tamil grammar, sanskrit might be one of them. This might sound like an argument on patent law, but tamil grammar displays significant creativity and knowledge to be called an independent work. Another factor in its favor is that tamil has its own numerals.

2. Large and extremely rich body of ancient literature:
Tirukkural – A work on ethics and dharma (righteous living) approximately 1600-2200 years old. The dates are debatable, but the implications of the work in daily life are not. It is a collection of 1330 couplets. I do not want to elaborate on this, it is a vast topic, there are hundreds of scholars who have made interpreting and translating tirukkural their life’s work. Call it an old mans wisdom on righteousness(part 1), wealth (part 2) and pleasure (part 3). A couplet from tirukkural (No 786, which comes under Wealth):

Translated:

Friendship is not indicated by a smile on the face; It is what is felt deep within a smiling heart

My translation does not do justice to the original in terms of phonetics and placement of words. Study the picture carefully, you will realise the symmetry to it. There are 1329 other quotes like the one above which are phonetically and grammatically – beautiful. These are works of art as much as literature, as they are music to the ears too.
As I stated before, tirukkural has influences from sanskrit – the very first couplet has the words like adi, loka and bhagvan- sanskrit words.

Tolkāppiyam- A work on grammar, which is at least 1800 years old according to most estimates. It is essential high school study, even today. Even though it is quite old, it is a study in phonolgy, morphology and subject matter in tamil. Based on syllables, it even classifies alphabets into vowels and consonants.
Sanskrit influence – kāppiyam sounds like kavya from sanskrit.

Technically, tamil was “recognised” as a classical language in 2004 by Govenment of India.

  • Has it survived: This is the easy part. There are 80 million speakers of tamil. The tamil movie industry has churned out 71 movies in 2012 as of today(11th of August). Any student from the fourth grade studying tamil can decipher 40% of the writing on the stone inscription above, will know atleat 5 tirukkural couplets and what tolkāppiyam is. The form has changed vastly unlike sanskrit (which remains essentially the same 3000 years later) but the core tamil language has evolved and gained wide spread adoption with different dialects. So yeah, it has more than survived.

Consider this stone inscription from the “hero stone” age described above:

Here is the modern alphabets to the inscription above:

பஏரபணமரஞயணஞஉ

Consider a palm leaf inscription which was made before paper became popular:

The modern alphabets to the script above:
தஹவிஜகணடுக

That’s a 2200 year old stone inscription with crude tools, a palm leaf written on with a metal stylus and a ASCII coded script sharing space. Tamil Wikipedia has approximately 50K articles and 40K active users, making it 49th in usage.

In terms of native speakers today, sanskrit has about 15K native speakers compared to 80 million of tamil. André Müller has made a convincing argument for classical chinese, I have no expertise on the subject, but according to Wikipedia:

Among Chinese speakers, Classical Chinese has been largely replaced by written vernacular Chinese (“plain speech”), a style of writing that is similar to modern spoken Mandarin Chinese, while speakers of non-Chinese languages have largely abandoned Classical Chinese in favor of local vernaculars.

Classical chinese was last used widely in written form nearly a century ago.

To summarize, the year of origin of tamil and its relationship with sanskrit are inconclusive and debatable, but the statement that it is the oldest surviving classical language is a fact due to its wide spread use.

References used:
Origin estimate- 5320 BC:
http://books.google.co.in/books?…

Essential reading related to estimating a date:
These articles in Wikipedia are well moderated and accurate:
For earliest estimates:
Robert Caldwell : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob…
Most false arguments that Tamil is the mother of all languages can be traced back to works of this one man.

Tolkappiyam , the guide for tamil grammar:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dat…

Rigveda, an important work in sanskrit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rig…

For timelines related to Tamil and its derived languages:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lin…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lis…
http://books.google.co.in/books?…
http://www.jstor.org/discover/10…

Tamil and sanskrit grammar debate:
http://www.thehindu.com/news/sta…
Tamil Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tam…
Classical Chinese:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cla…

Google:
Dr.S.Rajavelu, Archeological Survey of India
Dr.Dayalan, ASI
They are involved in cataloging the “hero stones”

Disclaimer:
Due to the nature of passionate debate on these topics related to Tamil/Sanskrit, I have to clarify that I am an engineer, not a linguist or an academician/expert on tamil. However I, know 3 South Indian languages – Tamil(mother tongue), Kannada and Malayalam to various degrees and 3 languages related to Sanskrit family- Sanskrit, Hindi and Oriya. I have also studied a little German – which has relationship/similarities with sanskrit. I am not involved in the Pure Tamil movement and believe both sanskrit and tamil are to be learned,appreciated and preserved. Suggestions and criticism are welcome, please refer to reliable, neutral sources – “any information is only as reliable as its source”.

Source : Thanks to Quora, Wikipedia and all Tamil Friends.

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what you should know about the newfound TRAPPIST-1 solar system

You may have heard that astronomers made a big announcement today about a “discovery outside our solar system.”

Astronomers found a new solar system just 39 light years from ours, full of Earthlike planets. Here’s what you should know about the TRAPPIST-1 system. (Jenny Starrs, Sarah Kaplan)

It wasn’t aliens.

Instead, astronomers reported the discovery of a solar system containing seven rocky, Earth-size planets just 39 light years away. The bodies orbit an ultracool dwarf star called TRAPPIST-1 in the constellation Aquarius. Several of the planets are located in what’s known as the “habitable zone” — the Goldilocks region where it’s thought water can exist and life can thrive.

[Scientists discover 7 ‘Earthlike’ planets orbiting a nearby star]

This is the first time astronomers have discovered so many terrestrial planets orbiting a single star, and this new system could be the best target in the galaxy to search for extraterrestrial life. Even they aren’t home to aliens, TRAPPIST-1 will provide planetary scientists with an unprecedented new window on the formation of solar systems and the behavior of rocky worlds.

So, sure, this is a really cool discovery. Even if I hadn’t watched “Contact” over the weekend, I’d be daydreaming about visiting TRAPPIST-1, where transits are a daily spectacle and the star’s dim glow gives the appearance of a perpetual sunset. Just add an ocean and a few palm trees, and it’s hard to imagine a better vacation spot.

TRAPPIST-1 is 39 light years away.

Yes, that is crazy close in the scheme of the universe. The Milky Way galaxy alone is 100,000 light years across. But even if humanity had a spacecraft capable of moving at the speed of light, it would take almost four decades to get to TRAPPIST-1. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that many vacation days.

It’s kind of a wimpy star.

TRAPPIST-1 is an ultracool dwarf star, 10 times smaller and 2.5 times cooler than our own sun. In fact, it’s more comparable to Jupiter than to the sun. Even though the TRAPPIST-1 planets are Earthlike, the system is definitely an alien one. It’s not clear what the likelihood of life might be in such a system.

How close is too close?

The planets of this system orbit in super tight circles around their sun. The entire system is barely bigger than the distance between the sun and Mercury. This is what lets them stay warm by their star’s dim light, but it also puts them at risk. Solar flares could damage their atmospheres (if they have atmospheres), radiation could blast away any nascent life (if life even emerged). Michael Gillon, the lead author of the study, said that TRAPPIST-1 is a relatively quiet star, and the level of radiation the planets probably receive doesn’t look totally hostile to life. But it’s still something to worry about.

The planets don’t have days and nights. 

Because the planets are close to the sun, and to one another, the astronomers believe that they are “tidally locked.” This is what happens when the amount of time it takes a body to orbit matches the length of one rotation on its axis. The result is that the same side of the body always faces the object it orbits around. The moon is tidally locked with Earth, which is why we always see the same face of our satellite when we look up at night.

For the planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system, this means that one side of each body is constantly blasted with their sun’s heat, while the other sides are perpetually in darkness. This … doesn’t sound very homey. It could create huge temperature gradients that drive powerful winds. It could mean that half of each planet freezes while the other half burns.

No, it won’t. Sorry, Annie. (tumblr)

We can’t see the planets directly. 

Scientists were able to detect the planets using the “transiting method,” in which they use tiny dips in light from the star caused by the planets passing across its face. With the Hubble Space Telescope, the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope and ground-based observatories, astronomers can also analyze the light that passes through the atmospheres of the planets to figure out what molecules those atmospheres contain.

But we won’t be able to directly image the solar system with current technology, Gillon said. Because the planets are so close to their star, they will be impossible to distinguish amid its glare.

Just because some of the planets are in the habitable zone doesn’t mean that they’re actually habitable, let alone inhabited.

The “habitable zone” is kind of a squishy concept. Astronomers define it as the range of orbits around a given star at which planets are warm enough to sustain liquid water on their surface. But it’s all theoretical. Scientists assume that a middling distance from the sun and liquid water make a planet habitable because they’re so essential to life on Earth. But there are ways for bodies to hold water even if they’re far away from their stars. Just look at Europa, the moon of Jupiter that is thought to have a vast, salty ocean beneath its icy surface. Plus, lots of liquid water isn’t necessarily a good thing. In a paper published in the journal Science in 2013, astrophysicist Sara Seager pointed out that water is a greenhouse gas — too much of it too close to a star could trap heat on a planet and turn it into something like Venus.

Besides, a planet requires a lot more than water and light to be livable. Scientists think Mars once had water, but when its internal dynamo broke down, it lost its atmosphere and became the frozen desert we know today. Truly habitable planets probably need strong magnetic fields to protect their inhabitants from radiation and fierce solar winds.

Mars makes this landscape look lush. (tumblr)

Amy Barr Mlinar, a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, pointed out that, in some ways, life is a requirement for life. “Geology and life have worked together to make the Earth habitable,” she said. Without photosynthetic organisms to create oxygen, fungi to recycle waste products, bacteria to fix nitrogen in the soil, our planet would be unrecognizable.

 

Even with all these caveats, the planets are really, really exciting. 

“There are other worlds out there just like the Earth that have some commonalities with the Earth and we can imagine them,” NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen said at a news conference Wednesday. “The question, ‘Are we alone out here?’ is being answered as we speak.”

There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy, and it’s thought that about 15 percent of them are ultracool dwarfs like TRAPPIST-1. If even a fraction of those stars host multiple planet systems, and even a fraction of those have terrestrial planets in the habitable zone, there could potentially be millions of rocky worlds waiting for us to explore.

“The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when,” Zurbuchen said.

But we don’t need to wait to find other Earthlike exoplanets. The TRAPPIST-1 system has offered up seven such worlds, and they’re right within our sights. All scientists have to do now is point their telescopes at it and look.

 

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Jayalalitha assured that politics will not allow it to come to Shasikala – Manoj Pandian

சசிகலா அரசியலுக்கு வர அனுமதிக்க மாட்டேன் என ஜெயலலிதா உறுதியளித்தார் – மனோஜ் பாண்டியன்

பிப்ரவரி 07, 12:01 PM
சென்னை,
அதிமுக மூத்த தலைவர் மனோஜ் பாண்டியன் செய்தியாளர்களிடம் பேசுகையில், சேரன்மகா தேவி சட்டமன்ற உறுப்பினராகவும், ராஜசபா எம்.பி.யாகவும் என்னை அமர வைத்த முன்னாள் முதல்-அமைச்சர் ஜெயலலிதாவிற்கு நன்றிகடன் பட்டுஉள்ளேன். சசிகலா அவர்கள் அரசியலுக்கு வரலாமா, வேண்டாமா என்ற நிலையில் 2011-ம் ஆண்டு டிசம்பர் மாதத்திற்கு முன்னதாக தலைமை செயலகத்தில் முதல்-அமைச்சர் ஜெயலலிதா என்னிடம் தனிப்பட்ட முறையில் பேசினார், அதனை தெளிவுபடுத்த விரும்புகின்றேன். பேச்சு 45 நிமிடங்கள் நீடித்தது. என்னிடம் பேசிய ஜெயலலிதா பெரும் கூட்டம் எனுக்கு எதிராக சதிசெய்கிறது, என்னை முதல்-அமைச்சர் பதவியில் இருந்து நீக்க முயற்சி செய்கிறார்கள் என்றார்.
அவர்களை வெளியேற்ற போகின்றேன் என்றார். இதனையடுத்து சசிகலா குடும்பத்தினரை வெளியேற்றினார். அதற்கு பின்னர் முக்கியமான பணிகளை எங்களிடம் வழங்கினார், அவர்களுக்கு நாங்கள் ஆலோசனை வழங்கினோம். மார்ச் வரையில் தொடர்ந்தது. இந்நிலையில்தான் மார்ச் மாதம் மன்னிப்பு கோரி சசிகலா மீண்டும் போயஸ் கார்டன் வந்தார். போயஸ் கார்டன் வந்த சசிகலா ஜெயலலிதாவிடம் ஆசிர் வாங்கிவிட்டு சென்றுவிட்டார். அப்போது நாங்கள் வருத்தம் அடைந்தோம், அப்போது ஜெயலலிதா எங்களில் 5 பேரை மாடிக்கு அழைத்தார். நாங்கள் சென்றோம், ஒவ்வொருவரையாக பார்த்த அவர் என்னை பார்த்த போது, சசிகலா குடும்பத்தினரை அரசியலில் ஈடுபடுத்த மாட்டேன் என்று உறுதியளித்தார்.
பெங்களூருவில் இருந்து சதிசெய்து என்னை முதல்-அமைச்சர் பதவியில் இருந்து நீக்க முயற்சி செய்தார்கள். எனக்கு இப்போது ஒரு உதவியாளர் வேண்டும் என்பதினால் மட்டுமே அனுமதித்து உள்ளேன் என்று ஜெயலலிதா கூறினார் என்று மனோஜ் பாண்டியன் கூறிஉள்ளார்.
விஷம் கொடுத்து கொன்றுவிடுவார்களோ என என்னிடம் முதல்-அமைச்சர் ஜெயலலிதா கூறினார் என்றும் மனோஜ் பாண்டியன் கூறிஉள்ளார். அதிமுக தற்காலிக பொதுச்செயலாளராக தான் தற்போது சசிகலா தேர்ந்தெடுக்கப்பட்டுள்ளார், கட்சியின் விதிகள் மாற்றப்பட்டது ஏற்புடையது கிடையாது. கட்சியின் பொதுச்செயலாளரை கட்சியின் தொண்டர்கள்தான் தேர்வு செய்யவேண்டும் என்று கூறிஉள்ளார் மனோஜ் பாண்டியன்.
Thanks source to  http://www.dailythanthi.com/News/State/2017/02/07120145/Jayalalitha-assured-that-she-will-not-allow-Sasikala.vpf

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