Thursday, August 30, 2007
It is now 59 years since we made that historic tryst with destiny. Today, most Indians can take pride in the enormous strides we have made. There is, of course, the downside. Nothing illustrates the dual face of 59 years of Independence, the gains and losses, as forcefully as numbers. Our Independence Day special is a statistical snapshot of India. When our research team started compiling the statistical bedrock for the stories in this issue, we unearthed some startling facts. To make the exercise more meaningful, we collected data to show where we stand compared to the rest of the world.
From other pages inside the same issue:
Toronto, Aug.29: In any language, Sonja Elen Kisa was depressed. The world was overwhelming, and the thoughts that swirled through her mind in French, English, German or Esperanto echoed that.
Ale li pona," she told herself, "Everything will be OK."
It is all part of a weirdly Babel-esque boom of new languages. Once the private arena practice of J.R.R.Tolkien, Esperanto speakers and grunting Klingon fanatics, invented languages have flourished on the Internet and begun creeping into the public domain.
The language inventors have, of course, created a word to describe what they do - conlang,' short for constructed languages.
Kisacreated Toki Pona as an exercise in minimalism, looking for the core vocabulary necessary to communicate. With only 120 words, a Toki Pona speaker must combine words to express more complicated ideas. For example, the Toki Pona phrase for 'friend' is jan pona (the 'j' sounds like a 'y'), literally 'good person'.
Tolkien liked to call invented language his 'secret vice.' He spent hours at this hobby, designing grammars and modifying words from Latin, Finnish, Welsh and others for his languages. Eventually, his languages needed tongues to speak them, and they needed a place to live. Thus Middle-Earth was born -LATWP
London, Aug.28: Ancient bacteria are able to survive nearly half a million years in harsh, frozen conditions, researchers said on Monday in a study that adds to arguments that permafrost environments on Mars could harbour life.
The international team, which also included researchers from US, Canada, Russia and Sweden, tested the microbes living up to 10 metres deep in permafrost collected from Northern Canada, the Yukon, Siberia and Antartica.
"These cells are active cells repairing DNA to deal with continuous degradation of the genomes, which is the genetic material that is key to life," he said in a telephone interview. "It is the same thing with humans."
This is interesting because the temperature in Mars is much colder with more stable temperatures, representing an even better environment to sustain this kind of life, he added.
Researchers had known these microbes could survive for a long time without food but until now there was little agreement on how long they could live, Willerslev said. Knowing this, and eventually pinpointing the key to the longevity, may also help scientists better understand the ageing process, he added.
The Bastoey Island low-security prison uses solar panels for energy, produces most of its own food, recycles everything it can and tries to reduce its carbon footprint. (Agencies)
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Japanese technology company Sony, seeking to project an eco-friendly image, said it has developed a prototype battery cell that generates electricity from carbohydrates and sugar.
The company said it came up with the battery essentially by studying how living creatures generate energy.
Plants regenerate through photosynthesis, "underlining the potential for sugar-based bio batteries as an ecologically friendly energy device of the future," a Sony statement said.
Sony was hit last year by the recall of millions of laptop computer batteries over fears that they could catch fire - AFP
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Leela Devi, 26, lost the battle with her brain tumour on Sunday. But showing the courage and compassion, the husband, Lance Naik GS Bisht of 26 Rashtriya Rifles, consented to donate her organs after she was pronounced brain dead.
The other kidney was handed over to AIIMS, where it was transplanted into a 45-year-old with chronic kidney failure. Organ donation after brain death is rare in India. The armed forces launched the Armed Forces Organ Retrieval and Transplantation Authority (AORTA) earlier this year to increase awareness on organ donation. According to Col. A.K.Seth, director of AORTA, hundreds of serving personnel and their families have already pledged to donate their organs following a sustained campaign.
The unusual name stands out especially in Chinese, which has no alphabet and instead uses tens of thousands of multi-stroke characters to represent words.
(Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Madurai, Aug.17, 2007)
Opened in 1897, the account still has Rs.2,650/-. Incidentally, during the last 200 years the bank has destroyed many of its old records and ledgers, but somehow 1897 and 1907 survived. "As we say, history is eternal, so is the record which informed us about the glorious past of our bank," said K.Vaidyanathan, the AGM of the Bank.
(Courtesy: The New Indian Express, Aug.17, 2007)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
The three IRRI scientists (Moroccan crop physiologist, Rachid Serraj; Chinese scientist, Peng Shaobing and Indian plant geneticist, Kumar Singh) are entrusted with ensuring that the half of mankind who depend on rice will not go hungry as rising temperatures and ocean levels threaten one of the world's most important crops.
What about the idea of getting eight of your favourite movies copied in single disc? Wondering how it is possible? The introduction of VCDs and DVDs had revolutionalised the film and music world and the industry is set for yet another revolution with the introduction of Blu-ray Discs (BD). With their high-storage capacity, Blu-ray Discs can hold and play large quantities of high-definition video and audio, as well as photos, data and other digital content.
What is Blu-ray?
Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disc (BD), is the name of a next-generation optical disc format jointly developed by the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), a group of world’s leading consumer electronics, p[ersonal computer and media manufacturers (including Apple, Dell, Hitachi, HP, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, TDK and Thomson). The format was developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of high-definition video (HD), as well as storing large amounts of data. This extra capacity combined with the use of advanced video and audio codecs will offer consumers an unprecedented HD experience.
A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold 25 GB data and a dual-layer, 50 GB. Over nine hours of high-definition (HD) video can be stored on a 50 GB - BD. BDs are more durable and less susceptible to dust, fingerprints and even scratches.
(Compiled by Edex Team)
Monday, August 13, 2007
When we light a small earthen lamp, without a question and with least hesitation it sheds its humble light. It does not look around to watch if any other lamp is shedding its lustre. It is not dismayed also if no other light is burning in the vicinity.
It is content to be given to shed its own little light. It is not worried how much more darkness need to be removed from over the world. Is it a small privilege to be given to remove even a jot of darkness?
The small is beautiful. Have you not seen a tiny grass flower? Natured needed to exercise all its talents to create that tiny flower, complete in its own size of glory. If little things had no meaning they would not be there. Scientists have by now told us how much power, mystery and glory are there in in the tiny atom.
Let us not be nervous about our smallness. For, without grains of sands, even the loftiest monuments could not be built. In fact, the ultimate brick of the greatest monuments is the sand particle.
There are people who think too highly of themselves. They have what is called a superiority complex. That abominable thing is too bad for themselves, and not good for others.
There are, again, those who think too lowly of themselves. They have an inferiority complex. This is worse than the superiority complex. They think that they are good for nothing. By continuously thinking that way, they really become so.
Such people can never become good citizens. When we discuss momentous issues concerning mankind, and the responsibility of doing our mite, they throw up their hands and dogmatically declare that small persons like them can do nothing about these great problems.
So they shy away even from discussing these problems. Taking shelter behind their so-called or supposed smallness they take an inverse pride in declaring that they have nothing to do with the ambitious scheme of solving world problems.
We should clearly understand that even a small lamp has the capacity and the privilege to give light. Often enough, these days, thanks to frequent power shortages, we are given the opportunity to appreciate the usefulness of the good old, humble candles. When proud powerhouses fail, humble candles give light. Even today the basic measure of all magnificent light is the candle power!
If thousand suns do not suddenly burst forth in our horizon, there is no reason to be disheartened. In fact that would be too tragic for our planet. Let us light thousand small lights.
Enlightened citizenship is every individual’s responsibility. That is the spirit of the times. That is the basic assumption of democracy. This is also the teaching of Vedanta. You are, whoever you may be, the centre of light, you are verily that! "Tat Tvamasi!" True enlightened citizenship cannot be worked for in lesser terms. We can gain nothing by letting go our grip on the highest truth, whereas by remaining anchored in the highest truth we can eventually enlighten ourselves and others.
Swami Vivekananda teaches: You are part of the Infinite. This is your nature. Hence you are your brother’s keeper. Not one can be happy until all are happy. When you hurt anyone, you hurt yourself, for you and your brother are one. …Each is responsible for the evil anywhere in the world. He is indeed a yogi who sees himself in the whole universe and the universe within himself.
Enlightened citizenship is very much a home-grown affair, in the sense that your home can become a light-house. The light that is within you, when that shines without also, that is enlightened citizenship.
The greatest legacy that Gandhiji has left to mankind is to have shown by his own example that each human being has a direct responsibility to world peace by the progressive day-to-day transformation of the individual soul. In fact, for all practical purposes, enlightened citizenship is a spiritual adventure.
Courtesy: “ENLIGHTENED CITIZENSHIP” - A Ramakrishna Math, Delhi, publication
2. From now onwards, I shall teach at least ten persons who cannot read and write to read and write.
3. I shall plant at least ten saplings and shall ensure their growth through constant care.
4. I shall visit rural and urban areas and permanently wean away at least five persons from addiction and gambling.
5. I shall constantly endeavour to remove the pain of my suffering brethren.
6. I shall not support any religious, caste or language differentiation.
7. I shall be honest and endeavour to make a corruption-free society.
8. I shall work for becoming an enlightened citizen and make my family righteous.
9. I shall always be a friend of the mentally and physically challenged and shall work hard to make them feel normal, like the rest of us.
About 200 teachers and students participated in a seminar on ‘R.K.Narayan – the Master Storyteller’ sponsored by the Madura College Board. Thirty papers were presented dealing with the works of Narayan, followed by a brainstorming session.
Prof.Jamuna Rani of Sri Meenakshi Govt College, Prof.Thayyalnayaki of GTN College and Prof.Padma Srinivasan chaired the paper presentation sessions. The students also presented skits based on short stories of Narayan as a part of the celebrations.
(The New Indian Express, Madurai, Aug.13, 2007)
After two years of joint research, A.Subrahmanyam of the Dept of Physics, IIT-M and consultant cardio-thoracic surgeon of the Apollo Hospitals, Dr.Paul Ramesh on Friday shared the details of their new method, ‘Photocatalytic oxygenation of human blood’ with the mediapersons.
In the acute and chronic lung diseases, often there is a need for oxygen to be supplied from external sources. Presently, ventilators or extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO) is used to provide oxygen to the patients. “However, ventilators cannot increase the amount of oxygen in tissues beyond a point. The ECMO too has many limitations,” explained Dr.Ramesh.
However, the duo have now developed an easier way to send oxygen to lungs which helps patients to make oxygen using sunlight.
Subrahmanyam explained, “Blood contains 80% of water which has oxygen and hydrogen. So, we thought of splitting the oxygen from it.” The oxygen thus formed could be sent to the blood and delivered to the tissues circumventing the lung.
The method goes like this – researchers have used a thin film technology and developed a nano porous layer of titanium-dioxide and indium tin oxide which is only 500 nano metre thick (thickness of a human hair) and used UV light to demonstrate effective oxygenation of human blood.
Soon, they will conduct tests on animals and later clinical trials. “The functional device should be ready in two years,” said Dr.Ramesh.
At present, the experiments were conducted in-vitro (laboratory) conditions. But the duo are planning to create a device which could be fixed inside the body of the patient.
According to Dr.Ramesh, this would help in treating chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases which has a prevalence of 11.6 and 8.77 per 1000 in men and women respectively.
Other findings are:
Democracy is the greatest national pride and Bribery its worst shame; the IT revolution is the one event that changed the country, while Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh riots are its greatest political blot. The NDTV poll was conducted using direct questionnaires administered at street corners in 13 cities, SMS responses, and voting on the worldwide web.
Sachin Tendulkar was voted the country’s greatest sportsperson; ‘Mother India’ the greatest film; and the patriotic ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logon’ the greatest song.
In the perception of the respondents, the Mahatma was ahead of Mother Teresa. Other personalities in the list of icons are JRD Tata, Indira Gandhi, Narayana N.R.Murthy, Amitabh Bachchan, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
The poll found that the national achievements, besides democracy, that give Indians the greatest pride are secularism, the IT industry, the armed forces, the Railways, and the judiciary. Hunger comes next only to bribery as the worst shame, followed by untouchability, dowry and manual scavenging.
(Courtesy: The Hindu, Tamil Nadu Edition, Madurai, Sunday, August 12, 2007)
Saturday, August 11, 2007
He paused. Then with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eyes, he said: "I am happy when I do the right things in life."
A few months later, as I walked into Christ College, as a lecturer in 1991, I was curious to find out how our first year Pre-University students would respond to my question. In some of the classes I went to, I asked the students to write-down-three most important things that make them happy in their life.
As I scanned through their answers I was pleasantly surprised in several respects. Is it not a familiar saying that 'getting things and having things' really make us all happy? Then how is it that most students chose family and friends as what really make them happy? Another thing that surprised me was the near absence of the mention of money in their answers. Am I to believe that they know better when the world seemingly is going after money as if nothing else matters in this life? Anyway, they seemed to think that money is something that can buy everything in this world except happiness.
Our young students seem to find happiness at home with parents who care and with brothers and sisters who share their love. They find happiness when they are with their true friends. They also find happiness when they help others. Their happiness is real. No doubt about it. If they can find happiness in so many different ways, why is it that some of the adults among us think that true happiness is like a butterfly that is always beyond our grasp?
Yet, I sadly remembered that some of these very same students will probably lose their innocence very fast as they begin to grow up in our confused world. That made me wonder whether the grown-ups could do anything to make this world a better place to grow up for our students. Then I heard the eleven-year-old boy saying with a chuckle: "By doing the right things in life!"
Everything, even the human body, is made of molecules. Although some of them are found in nature, others have to be designed and built for applications like medicines to new materials.
Apart from this, Mehta also has been building long-chain carbon atoms that have symmetries and are not found in nature. As of now these molecules do not have any marketable use.
Friday, August 10, 2007
The pictures were a revelation, and others have followed, showing that romantic love is a lot like addiction to alcohol or drugs.
Yet the chemistry between two people is not just a matter of molecules careening around the brain, dictating feelings like some game of neuro-billiards. Attraction also involves personal history. "Our parents have an effect on us," says Helen Fisher, evolutionary anthropologist at Rutgers University who studies human attraction. "So does the school system, television, timing, mystery."
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Courtesy : Science Express
The art of living makes life worth living. In the absence of such an art, man tends to be like an animal driven by instincts. Thinkers and law-givers have referred to a person devoid of such an art as an animal without horns and tail. There is a story of a dog which had saved a child from a wolf; but for that reason, nobody would gratefully garland it. This is because the dog acts in this manner not due to its intellect, but purely due to its natural instinct and inherent tendency. The art of living is directed by our intellect and not by instinct.
Man makes himself miserable by being ignorant of the art of living. A number of examples can be given, but one will suffice.
One of my friends is holding a very high position in the Indian Administrative Service. He is very honest and hardworking. But he never learnt the art of living and so he has become outspoken. Honest people become somewhat rough. Very often, those who speak the truth are short-tempered. This friend of mine is also a strict disciplinarian, and does not like to bow down before anyone. As a result, everyone curses him behind his back. When he comes to know about it, he becomes a bit depressed. Living constantly under such circumstances, he has become a victim of tension and neurosis. For example, when someone asks him to do some work, he at once shouts back at him that work would not be done. Later, however, he might even do the work, yet he has already made him an enemy right from the beginning. So, even if the work is done, the person does not think that it was possible only due to the officer, because he had already rebuffed him. So I suggested to him that whenever someone approached him for any work, let him not shout at him, or rebuke him. But instead, let him express sympathy and make him understand that although it was difficult to do that work due to some reasons, he would do his best to help him. After all, a man wants to listen to a few sweet words. We cannot always oblige everyone, but at least we can talk obligingly. This is one aspect of the art of living.
There is another aspect to it – to be ready to face anything unexpected. Let us understand very well that the world does not go on according to our wish and will. As long as life is smooth, we should thank God for it, considering it to be His grace. When the happenings are not according to our calculations, and things become topsy-turvy, we should not become depressed or hopeless but must pray to God to give us mental strength to face such difficult situations. Actually, only under such unfavourable circumstances, a man is put to real test. We must realize that prosperity and adversity, happiness and sorrow, make the warp and woof of life. Such a realization saves us from faltering and falling during such moments of adversity.
There is a third aspect of the art of living – converting the habit of fault-finding into creativity and through practice, trying to develop in us a habit of seeing virtues. The faults of others appear too tasty to us – we delight in them and go on spreading them around. We should try to convert this tendency of fault-finding into a creative activity. For example, a doctor looks at a patient’s faults, nay, he even magnifies them with the help of instruments. But his idea behind it is to remove them from the patient. This is known as creative and positive fault-finding. In order to learn such an art, we should try to develop the tendency of looking for good in others. Unfortunately, it is not our nature. We shall have to cultivate it by conscious effort. It is natural that we see others’ faults all at once. But when this tendency of finding fault in others arises, let us also try to see their virtues. There can be no one with only good or with only evil.
These three aspects of the art of living enrich us spiritually and help us to make our life meaningful.
(Excerpted from 'The Vedanta Kesari'. December 2000, A Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai Publication)
Then you will find your doubts and your self melting away.”
Courtesy: "Living Thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi" - Edited by Mulk Raj Anand
An NCERT publication
2. We must own the entire human family as our own.
3. My welfare is best guaranteed in your welfare. So I must promote your welfare to be sure about my welfare.
4. Truth is one but is called by various names.
5. You cannot judge without being judged.
6. You can claim without forgetting others’ claim.
7. You can give up without insisting on others to do likewise.
8. You can serve and never ask for return.
9. How wonderful it is to be given to immolate one’s little self and emerge in the great self of all.
Courtesy: ‘Enlightened Citizenship’ - Published by Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi
2. Make a daily and weekly time table
3. List out priorities in the order of importance.
4. Focus on the most important goal first
5. Be honest in keeping to schedule
6. Give full attention to the task on hand
7. Allot time for checking and revision
8. Balance work-time with play-time
9. Stretch yourself
10. Don’t make impractical demands on yourself
11. Allow time for mistakes, accidents
12. Finish work before starting to play
13. Complete one task before going to the next
14. Attend to details
15. Have alternatives ready in case of mishaps.
Courtesy : Signpost, The Hindu, 1.12.2000
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Similar stories, but with less transparency, may be found on the Pu contamination from the Chelyabinsk-Mayak n-plants in Russia, and the Sellfield n-facility (earlier called Windscale) in Britian. (Excerpted from the 'Open Page', The Hindu, August 5, 2007)
Inspired by Australian Juan Mann, who has earned international fame through Internet by standing in central Sydney with a sign reading "FREE HUGS," the Japanese students are determined to shake up a culture famous for its reserve.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived -
This is to have succeeded. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Bio of Emerson at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Waldo_Emerson)
(Works of Emerson at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/e#a1071)
(Complete Works of Emerson from University of Michigan Digital Library Collections and Publications: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/emerson/)
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Wednesday, August 01, 2007