Happy New Year 2015


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Thought for Today-137: November 8, 2007

The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds - Mark Twain

A Thought for Today-136: November 7, 2007

If you restore confidence in the hearts of people, they can work wonders - Napoleon

A Thought for Today-135: November 6, 2007

A sincere, balance and kind attitude towards ourselves as well as others is the key to happiness and success in life's all avenues - Janos Selye

A Thought for Today-134: November 5, 2007

The fragrance of flowers spreads only in the direction of the wind. But the goodness of a person spreads in all directions - Chanakya

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Thought for Today-133: November 4, 2007

Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful - Dr.Samuel Johnson

Letters-3: What Progress?

"..... Impatience, impatience, impolite behaviour seems to be the order of the day. "Might is right" is followed on the roads and other public places. Though our brains have progressed, our "hearts" have not. The need of the hour is periodic refresher courses in moral science!" - From a letter from N.R.Archana (by e-mail) to the Editor, The Hindu, Madurai, April 1, 2007.
Grateful thanks to Ms Archana and The Hindu.

Facts and Figures-11: Salt and Fresh Water

97% of all the water on earth is salty. Only 3% is fresh water. Of that 3%, over 2% is frozen in ice sheets and glaciers. And that means that less than 1% of that 3% fresh water is found in lakes, rivers and underground.

Courtesy: Adyar Talk, August 18-24, 2007

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Eyecatchers-44 : Striking Back at Fear - AP

Science is getting a grip on people's fears. Scientists say they now know better what is going on inside our brains when a spook jumps out and scares us. Knowing how fear rules the brain should lead to treatments for a major medical problem: when irrational fears go haywire.
Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A Harvard Medical School study estimated the annual cost to the U.S.economy in 1999 at roughly $ 42 billion.
Fear is a basic primal emotion that is key to the evolutionary survival. It is something that human beings share with animals. Genetics plays a big role in the development of overwhelming - and needless - fear, psychologists say. But so do traumatic events.
Scientists figure they can improve the fear-dampening process by learning how fear runs through the brain and body.

The fear hot-spot is the amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the deep brain. The amygdala, an almond-shaped part of the deep brain. The amygdala is not responsible for all of people's fear response, but it is like the burglar alarm that connects to everything else, said Elizabeth Phelps, Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at New York University - AP

With grateful thanks to: AP and The Hindu (Madurai edn, November 1, 2007)

Eyecatchers-43 : The Nano-race Hots Up! - AFP

A revolution ahead in data storage, say IT experts.

The world's smallest hard drives have already shrunk to the size of a postage stamp, but nanoscale computing may soon make that achievement look elephantine, say some of the stars of information technology.

Breathtaking change is on the horizon in personal and industrial data storage, the experts say in a review of the vanguard technology, being published in the journal, NATURE MATERIALS.

The latest developments in "spintronix", for example, are poised to go beyond the electrical charge of classic electronics to harness the quantum "spin" state of electrons, writes Albert Fert, co-winner last month of the Nobel Prize for Physics. That could usher in dramatic advances in hard disk storage capacity and retrieval, says Professor Fert.

Along with Peter Gruenberg of Germany, Frenchman Professor Fert was lauded for discovering the principle called giant magnetoresistance(GMR), that lies at the heart of the past decade's most popular electronic devices, from iPods to cell phones to Blackberries.

Professor Fert's new holy grail - called Magnetic Random Access Memory(MRAM) - could essentially collapse the disk drive and computer chip into one, vastly expanding both processing power and storage capacity.

"MRAM potentially combines key advantages such as non-volatility, infinite endurance and fast random access - down to five nanoseconds read/write time - that make it a likely candidate for becoming the 'universal memory' of nanoelectronics," forecast Professor Fert and his colleagues.

Experimental engineers at IBM, which was the first company to commercialise GMR devices, are already hard at work on this new generation disk-drives, which promise to boost data storage by a factor of a hundred.

The race for space is driven by consumer hunger for data-rich formats such as on-demand television and high-definition video.

But keeping pace with demand depends on a constant stream of technological breakthroughs, and until recently it seemed that certain chokepoints - such as the size of transistors - were finally going to disprove Moore's Law.

More than forty years ago, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore said the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double roughly every 24 years, a prediction that has largely held true ever since.

"We literally got to the stage where we could not make it any smaller," Intel's chief technology officer Justin Rattner said in an interview with Nature.

The transistor, which is used as an amplifier or as an electrically controlled switch, is the fundamental building block of the circuitry in computers and most consumer electronic devices.

But an innovation in materials - a nanoscale changeover from silicon to metals inside transistor "gate" - has given rise to "the dawn of a new era," Rattner said.

Nature's review of state-of-the-art storage technology includes a survey of advances in the materials used for making rewritable optical disks, giving rise to the development of high-definition DVDs and Blu-ray.

Blu-ray is an optical disk format jointly developed by many of the world's leading consumer electronics and media manufacturers including Apple, Dell, Hitachi and a dozen others.

The format enables recording and rewriting and playback of high-definition video, as well as five times the storage capacity of traditional DVDs.

Finally, Charles Lieber and Wei Lu of Harvard University discuss the so-called "bottom up" assembly of nanotubes and nanowires in electronic circuits that could one day possibly replace silicon technology in nanoelectronics - AFP

With grateful thanks to: AFP and The Hindu (Madurai edn, Nov.1, 2007)

Eyecatchers-42 : Record-setting Black Hole - AFP

American astronomers have discovered the biggest black hole orbiting a star 1.8 million light years from earth in the constellation Cassiopeia. It has a record-setting mass 24 to 33 times that of the sun.

Stellar-mass black holes have such powerful gravity fields that not even light can escape them. Astronomers estimate their mass by measuring their gas emissions and the gravitational effect on the stars they orbit.

Excerpt from The Hindu, Madurai, November 1, 2007
Grateful thanks to: AFP and The Hindu

A Thought for Today-132: November 3, 2007

My body has been used to walking since childhood. Walking has been a source of knowledge, creativity, energy and delight to me. When you walk in the open, under the boundless expanse of the sky, your heart too becomes naturally large and expansive - Acharya Vinoba Bhave

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Thought for Today-131: November 2, 2007

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it - George Santayana

A Thought for Today-130: November 1, 2007

Some people instead of trying to drown their sorrows, take them out and give them swimming lessons - The Illustrated Weekly of India, Sep.23, 2007

A Thought for Today-129: October 31, 2007

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours and let every new year find you a better man - Benjamin Franklin

A Thought for Today-128: October 30, 2007

A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles - Washington Irving

A Thought for Today-127: October 29, 2007

You cannot teach people anything. You can only help them discover it within themselves - Galileo

A Thought for Today-126: October 28, 2007

To acquire knowledge, one must study; But to acquire wisdom, one must observe - Marilyn von Savant

Self-Improvement-7: "Anyway!"

People are unreasonable, illogical and self centred. LOVE THEM ANYWAY.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. DO GOOD ANYWAY.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. SUCCEED ANYWAY.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. DO GOOD ANYWAY.
Honesty, and frankness make you vulnerable. BE HONEST AND FRANK ANYWAY.
People favour underdogs, but follow only top dogs. FIGHT FOR SOME UNDERDOGS ANYWAY.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. BUILT ANYWAY.
People really need help but may attack you if you help them. HELP PEOPLE ANYWAY.
Give the world the best you have and you will get kicked in the teeth. GIVE THE WORLD THE BEST YOU HAVE GOT ANYWAY!
Source: Not known

Eyecatchers-41 : We have lost 9,512 Years to Unpunctuality!

Abhishek D.Shah does some quick math and says we have lost 9,512 years to unpunctuality!

"The two-minute noodle takes 10 minutes. The instant coffee takes too many instants and the 30-minute pizza hardly ever arrives before the 60th minute. And apparently time is money. I can only wonder what our economy would be like if we learnt the art of being on time.

Being in the media, 'deadline' is a word I encounter on a daily basis. "The deadline is on the 20th but you can give it to me by the 22nd," a friend from a publication tells me. I wonder if the guys compiling the dictionary should reconsider the meaning of the word.
I was invited to a friend's wedding recently. The invitation requested my gracious presence at 7.30 p.m. Not wanting to scar others, I decided to go in for a hair cut and promptly reached the salon by 6.30 p.m. The stylist was efficient and I was done and ready by 7 p.m. As I left the salon, I noticed someone I knew getting an elaborate facial done. Guess who? The bride. Her presence at the reception hall was not be felt until 9 p.m.

It is inspiring to note that in the airline industry, an "on-time" performance means being lat by a maximum of one hour. It is simply amazing how we manage to be late with such consistency. It is an art form we have mastered and are transferring to future generations.

Being five minutes late is not a crime but, consider this. We are a billion Indians. If each of us is late by just 5 minutes, we are late as a country by 5 billion minutes. I will spare the math but that is roughly 9,512 years. Just imagine all that we could do in so much time!"
With grateful thanks to: Mr.Abhishek D.Shah and The Hindu, Chennai edn ('Metropolis', Oct.27, 2007)