Saturday, March 20, 2010
In the meet everyone expressed their own feeling on why they are interested in blogging and how this new media will help them in future. LOOK HERE FOR SOME OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN DURING THE MEET.
I enjoyed being in the meet and learned many things.
I take this opportunity to thank indiblogger.in for arranging this blogger’s meet and in particular the sponsor Univercell for providing their support to the meet. My special thanks to the press and TV media which covered the meet and later published the news today.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
In what could revolutionize healthcare for the rising diabetes population worldwide, scientists claimed to have developed a 15-minute non-surgical treatment that could lead to drastic weight loss and reverse the onset of the disease.
The breakthrough treatment, considered a cheap and safe alternative to surgery, involves a device called EndoBarrier — a plastic sleeve that is inserted into the intestine of a patient to prevent food being absorbed into the body.
The device, developed by a United States-based company, is fed through the mouth using an instrument called an endoscope while the patient is awake, the Daily Express reported.
“Obesity surgery can be risky simply because of the patient’s weight and the fact that you are giving them a general anaesthetic. That’s why it’s so good to have a non-surgical approach,” said Keith Gersin, head of obesity surgery at Carolinas Medical Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina, which has been trialing the EndoBarrier sleeve for 18 months.
“It is so quick to fit that you can get lots more patients treated. The patients loved it so much they didn’t want us to remove it at the end of the trial period. We had no significant side effects and it was easily removed.”
Extensive tests of EndoBarrier have been carried out in the US and Europe and last week the new device was given a licence for use on European patients.
In a 12-week trial in the Netherlands, patients fitted with the EndoBarrier lost an average of 16kg compared with a control group of patients who dieted and lost just 5kg.
According to its developers, the treatment, which costs £2,000, is about half the cost of the cheapest obesity operation.
“The patients who used it have continued to lose weight. It gave them the incentive to diet and eat sensibly,” said Gersin.
The EndoBarrier device is fitted to the first two feet of the small intestine where most food is absorbed.
During trials the sleeve was able to reverse Type 2 diabetes within weeks by reducing patients’ blood sugar levels so they no longer needed to take drugs. Nadey Hakim, a leading UK consultant in weight loss surgery, said: “I would love to be able to cure a patient’s obesity with a 15-minute procedure. It’s a very clever idea”.
The EndoBarrier digestive tract liner won CE Mark approval in December, 2009, clearing the way for sales to begin in the European Union this year.
Monday, January 4, 2010
THOUSANDS HELD IN CHINA FOR INTERNET MISUSE
China arrested more than 5,000 people in a crackdown on Internet pornography in 2009, officials said, vowing tougher online policing in the new year as a key element of "state security".
China maintains strict censorship of the Internet to curb what the government deems to be unhealthy content including porn and violence - an effort that has become known as the "Great Firewall of China".
Authorities in December offered rewards of up to 10,000 yuan (1,465 dollars) to Internet users who report websites that feature pornography.
According to figures published by the ministry of public security late on Thursday, 5,394 people were arrested last year under the Internet porn crackdown, and 9,000 illegal porn-related sites were shut down.
The ministry, in a statement on its website, did not specify if all of those arrested were later prosecuted.
It said it would "strengthen punishment for Internet operators that violate the laws and regulations" in the coming year.
"Purifying the Internet environment and cracking down on Internet crimes is related to long-term state security," the ministry said.
Internet use has expanded at a dizzying pace in China, which now has the world's largest online population with at least 338 million users.
The government is concerned that left unchecked, the Internet could become a means for ordinary citizens to spread information harmful to society - including ideas that are critical of the communist authorities.
China has blocked several social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Citizens can only gain access to such sites by using proxy servers.
Earlier this year Beijing threatened to sanction major websites, including search engine giants Google and Baidu, alleging that pornography and other material that could corrupt young people was turning up in search results.
Authorities effectively cut off Internet access in the far-western Xinjiang region after deadly ethnic unrest erupted there in July.
The government says terrorists, separatists and religious extremists used the Internet, telephones and mobile text messages to spread rumours and hatred as the violence broke out.
Earlier this week, limited access to state-run news websites was restored.
EARLY BEDTIME BANISHES TEEN BLUES
Earlier bedtimes may help protect adolescents against depression and suicidal thoughts, says a new study.
Published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep, the research found that adolescents with bedtimes that were set earlier by parents were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and to think about committing suicide, suggesting that earlier bedtimes could have a protective effect by lengthening sleep duration and increasing the likelihood of getting enough sleep.
Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep.
Adolescents who reported that they usually sleep for five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 48 percent more likely to think about committing suicide than those who reported getting eight hours of nightly sleep. Participants who reported that they "usually get enough sleep" were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and suicidal ideation.
Lead author James E. Gangwisch, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y., said that the results strengthen the argument that short sleep duration could play a role in the etiology of depression.
"Our results are consistent with the theory that inadequate sleep is a risk factor for depression, working with other risk and protective factors through multiple possible causal pathways to the development of this mood disorder," said Gangwisch. "Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression."
Friday, January 1, 2010
GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP IS LIFE’S ‘GREATEST PLEASURE’
Some of the little pleasures of life have no price tag on them - just like a good night’s sleep. Good night's sleep is life's 'greatest little pleasure' ``````
Curling up in bed after a long day and waking up feeling completely refreshed the following morning is so good that it has been voted life’s ‘greatest little pleasure’, reports The Telegraph.
In the study of 3,000 Brits, a tenner in your pocket came second, closely followed by cuddling up to a loved-one in bed.
Rob Stacey spokesman for Batchelors Cup-a-Soup, which carried out the poll, said: ‘You can’t beat the feeling of getting into bed after a long, hard day.
‘And that feeling gets even better when you wake up feeling great and back to your normal self the following morning. ‘We don’t always need something major to happen to brighten up our day - sometimes the little things have just as much of an effect.
‘Often the little gestures such as a quick cuddle or a compliment can really help to cheer someone up if they are having a bad day, and can even be more welcome than splashing out on expensive presents.’
Top 50 greatest little pleasures in life:
1. A good night’s sleep
2. Finding a forgotten tenner in your pocket
3. Cuddling up with a partner in bed
4. Crying with laughter
5. Having a lie-in
6. Sleeping in newly laundered bedding
7. Getting a bargain
8. Making someone smile
9. Catching up with an old friend
10. Laughing at things that have happened in the past
11. Eating a Sunday roast with your family
12. Someone saying you look nice
13. Curling up on the sofa with a good book and a hot drink or soup
14. discovering you’ve lost a few pounds
15. Breakfast in bed
16. Waking up thinking it’s a work day and then realising it’s the weekend
17. A random person smiling at you in the street
18. Looking through old photo albums
19. Eating a takeaway
20. First snow fall of the year
21. Singing your heart out to your favourite song in car
22. Having lunch with friends
23. Listening to a baby laughing
24. Having a massage
25. Reading a book or listening to your iPod on holiday by the pool
26. Playing in snow
27. Finding a pair of jeans that fit perfectly
28. Being chatted up
29. A girly-night in
30. A pampering session at home
31. The smell of freshly cut grass
32. Sitting in the pub with your friends
33. Looking at a baby asleep in a cot
34. Waking up in a room with an amazing view
35. Clothes shopping
36. Receiving a letter from a friend
37. Fitting into an old pair of jeans again after losing some weight
38. Staying up all night getting to know someone special
39. Your mum’s cooking
40. Getting dressed up for a night out
41. Watching a live band
42. Drinking a cold beer after work
43. Browsing in a secondhand book shop
44. Going to the cinema
45. Getting a new hairstyle
46. Your queue being the quickest in the supermarket
47. The cold side of the pillow
48. Watching a DVD
49. Getting tipsy
50. Popping bubble wrap.
SCIENTISTS WRITING FOOLPROOF SECURITY CODE
We often see websites asking us to key in wavy letters into a box to prevent computer robots from hacking into servers and databases. But these codes, which are becoming increasingly complex for an average person, are not immune to security breaches.
A project led by Danny Cohen-Or, computer science professor at the Tel Aviv University (TAU), shows how a new kind of video captcha code may be harder to outsmart. Captcha technology is intended to block spam e-mail and automated systems.
"Humans have a very special skill that computer bots have not yet been able to master," says Cohen-Or. "We can see what's called an 'emergence image' - an object on a computer screen that becomes recognisable only when it's moving - and identify this image in a matter of seconds."
"While a person can't 'see' the image as a stationary object on a mottled background, it becomes part of our gestalt as it moves, allowing us to recognize and process it."
The study was co-authored with colleagues in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and India. Cohen-Or describes a synthesis technique that generates pictures of 3-D objects, like a running man or a flying airplane.
This technique, he says, will allow security developers to generate an infinite number of moving "emergence" images that will be virtually impossible for any computer algorithm to decode.
'Emergence,' as defined by researchers, is a unique human ability to collect fragments of seemingly useless information, then synthesize and perceive it as an identifiable whole.
So far, computers don't have this skill. "Computer vision algorithms are completely incapable of effectively processing emergence images," says Cohen-Or's colleague and study co-author Lior Wolf.
The scientists warn that it will take some time before this research can be applied in the real world."We're not claiming in our research paper that we've developed a whole new captcha technology," says Cohen-Or.
"But we are taking a step towards that - something that could lead to a much better captcha, to highlight the big difference between men and bots," concludes Cohen-Or.
"If it were to be turned into a solution, however, we wouldn't be able to give humans a multiple choice answer or common word answer for what they see, so we'll need to develop a way to use it. We have a few ideas in the works."
The researchers are also developing methods of automatically generating "hidden" images in a natural background, like a pastoral mountain setting - a digital "Where's Waldo?" game.
"We're trying to hide images like eagles or a lion in mountainscape," says Cohen-Or. Because the moving image blends into a static background, it's hard for bots to understand what the human eye perceives with only minimal training.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A CHILLI PILL THAT CUTS AS MANY COLORIES AS 80 MINUTES WALK
Scientists claimed to have developed a slimming pill that can burn off as many calories as 80 minutes of walk or a 25-minute jog, while you sit.
The pill -- Capsiplex -- which is made from hot peppers and capsicum, utilises the weight-loss potential of red-hot peppers.
Chilli and capsicum help speed up the metabolism, thus, helping people lose weight more rapidly. However, consuming these chillies or their extract in large quantities causes irritation as these are unbearably hot.
The scientists overcame this problem while developing the capsule. The pill eats up the calories without causing any irritation, the Daily Mail reported.
"For decades, scientists have known about the weight-loss potential of red-hot peppers. The problem has been the ability to consume such a highly concentrated amount, but we have overcome this by putting a protective coating on the ingredients which stops any gastric irritation," a spokesman for Capsiplex said.
"At last we have a safe and healthy supplement to help weight loss," the spokesman added.
Trials of the pill conducted at University of Oklahoma in US showed adults taking Capsiplex burned off 278 more calories before, during and after a bout of exercise than those on placebos.
The pill is already in use in the US. Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lopez, Brad Pitt and Britney Spears are known to have used the pill.
DEC 29……PEOPLE ‘MOST GUILTY’ DAY OF INDULGENCE
Who could have thought that there would be a survey to prove people guilty of giving in to temptations! But here it is and it has marked December Dec 29 people ‘most guilty’ about their indulgences.
29 as the day when people feel most guilty about giving into their indulgences over the last 12 months.
Loan Underwood, a health expert at Fitness TV which conducted the poll, asked a panel of 2,000 adults to pinpoint a moment of maximum embarrassment over their excesses, including eating, drinking and times spent in front of the TV.
More than 40 per cent felt that the day in the middle of the festive season i.e. four days after Christmas and three days before New Year was the ‘guiltiest’ time of the year.
"This year has been a difficult one for many so Christmas has been a real opportunity for people to let their hair down and indulge,” the Telegraph quoted Underwood as saying.
"And with the festive season starting even earlier, the constant invites for post work drinks, parties and treats at home mean exercise routines go out the window.
"This has left people feeling that they have a mountain to climb to get back in shape in 2010, making December 29 the day we feel most guilty about our indulgences.
"Exercise is the perfect way to ditch those feelings of remorse and feel great again," Underwood added.
THREE H-1B SITES SHUT DOWN
A US court has ordered shutdown of three H-1B opposition Web sites -- ITgrunt.com, Endh1b.com, and Guestworkerfraud.com.
According to a news report in ComputerWorld, a New Jersey judge has also sought information about the identity of anonymous posters on the sites.
The Judge James Hurley also ordered firms that register domains and provide hosting services -- GoDaddy Inc, Network Solutions, Comcast Cable Communications and DiscountASP.Net, to disable the three sites. Facebook was also asked to disable ITgrunt's Facebook page.
Hurley's order was reportedly made in response to a libel lawsuit filed by IT services and consulting firm Apex Technology Group, based in Edison, New Jersey, against the three Web sites opposing the H-1B visa programme.
The company is seeking the identity of a person who posted an Apex employment agreement on Docstoc.com, that has since been removed. A link to the document and comments critical of it has been posted on a variety of Web sites, including at least one in India, on Desicrunch.com says the news story.
The comment is said to claim that employees will find it difficult to leave Apex because of its contract terms. Apex, in one legal filing, said the allegations by the anonymous posters are false and defamatory, and are hurting the company. In the filing, Apex is said to have mentioned that it has had three consultants refuse to report for employment as a result of these postings. Apex said it is also seeking "contact details of the individual who posted this legal agreement without permission since we are the copyright owner of the legal document."
Saturday, December 26, 2009
FASTEST RAIL LINK STARTS IN CHINA
China on Saturday started operation on its fastest rail link in the world with a high-speed train connecting the modern cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan at an average speed of 350 kilometres an hour.
The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 km journey linking Guangzhou, a business hub in southern China near Hong Kong, with the capital Beijing, to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven-and-a-half hours, Xinhua news agency said.
Test runs for the rail link began earlier in December during which it recorded a maximum speed of 394.2 km per hour and the operations officially began today, said Xu Fangliang, general engineer in charge of designing the link, according to Xinhua.
By comparison, the average for high-speed trains in Japan was 243 kilometres per hour while in France it was 277 kilometres per hour, he said. The network uses technology developed in co-operation with foreign firms such as Siemens, Bombardier and Alstom.
The work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand country's high-speed network, Xinhua added.
China unveiled its first high-speed line at the time of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
EARTH’S NORTH MAGNETIC POLE RACING TOWARDS RUSSIA DUE TO CORE FLUX
A new research has determined that Earth's north magnetic pole is racing toward Russia at almost 40 miles (64 kilometers) a year due to magnetic changes in the planet's core.
The core is too deep for scientists to directly detect its magnetic field. But researchers can infer the field's movements by tracking how Earth's magnetic field has been changing at the surface and in space. According to a report in National Geographic News, newly analyzed data suggest that there's a region of rapidly changing magnetism on the core's surface, possibly being created by a mysterious "plume" of magnetism arising from deeper in the core.
"It's this region that could be pulling the magnetic pole away from its long-time location in northern Canada," said Arnaud Chulliat, a geophysicist at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris in France.
Magnetic north, which is the place where compass needles actually point, is near but not exactly in the same place as the geographic North Pole.
Right now, magnetic north is close to Canada's Ellesmere Island.
Navigators have used magnetic north for centuries to orient themselves when they are far from recognizable landmarks.
Although global positioning systems have largely replaced such traditional techniques, many people still find compasses useful for getting around underwater and underground where GPS satellites can't communicate.
The magnetic north pole had moved little from the time scientists first located it in 1831.
Then in 1904, the pole began shifting northeastward at a steady pace of about 9 miles (15 kilometers) a year.
In 1989 it sped up again, and in 2007 scientists confirmed that the pole is now galloping toward Siberia at 34 to 37 miles (55 to 60 kilometers) a year.
A rapidly shifting magnetic pole means that magnetic-field maps need to be updated more often to allow compass users to make the crucial adjustment from magnetic north to true North.
Geologists think Earth has a magnetic field because the core is made up of a solid iron center surrounded by rapidly spinning liquid rock.
This creates a "dynamo" that drives our magnetic field. Scientists had long suspected that, since the molten core is constantly moving, changes in its magnetism might be affecting the surface location of magnetic north.
Although the new research seems to back up this idea, Chulliat is skeptical whether magnetic north will eventually cross into Russia.
"It's too difficult to forecast," Chulliat said.
GO EASY ON GLUCOSE TO LIVE LONG
Reducing caloric intake, specifically in the form of glucose, can extend the life of human cells and speed the death of pre-cancerous cells, a new study has found.
This discovery by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham could help lead to drugs and treatments that slow human aging and prevent cancer.
"Our hope is that the discovery that reduced calories extends the lifespan of normal human cells will lead to further discoveries of the causes for these effects in different cell types and facilitate the development of novel approaches to extend the lifespan of humans," said Trygve Tollefsbol, a researcher involved in the work from the Center for Aging and Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
"We would also hope for these studies to lead to improved prevention of cancer as well as many other age-related diseases through controlling calorie intake of specific cell types," Tollefsbol added.
To make this discovery, Tollefsbol and colleagues used normal human lung cells and precancerous human lung cells that were at the beginning stages of cancer formation.
Both sets of cells were grown in the laboratory and received either normal or reduced levels of glucose (sugar).
As the cells grew over a period of a few weeks, the researchers monitored their ability to divide, and kept track of how many cells survived over this period.
They found that the normal cells lived longer, and many of the precancerous cells died, when given less glucose.
Gene activity was also measured under these same conditions. The reduced glucose caused normal cells to have a higher activity of the gene that dictates the level of telomerase, an enzyme that extends their lifespan and lower activity of a gene that slows their growth.
Epigenetic effects (effects not due to gene mutations) were found to be a major cause in changing the activity of these genes as they reacted to decreased glucose levels.
The study has been published online in The FASEB Journal.
Monday, December 21, 2009
AVATAR MOONS MAY BE REAL:.... ASTRONOMER
James Cameron's science fiction Avatar may become fact in the coming years, says a leading US astronomer who believes there is every chance a real-life version of habitable alien moons like the one depicted in the movie exists and will soon is found.
The 3D blockbuster shows a race of blue skinned giants inhabits an Earth-like moon called Pandora, which orbits a gas giant planet similar to Jupiter that cannot support life. "If Pandora existed, we potentially could detect it and study its atmosphere in the next decade," said Lisa Kaltenegger, an astronomer from the Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Kaltenegger, who has conducted research showing that a planned new space telescope will be able to identify nearby "exomoons" and discover if they are habitable, said hundreds of Jupiter-sized gas giants orbiting stars have already been spotted, but none have conditions suitable for Earth-type life, The Telegraph reported.
However, a rocky moon orbiting a gas giant could harbor life if it was in the parent star's "habitable zone" -- the region where temperatures are just right for liquid water, she said.
"All of the gas giant planets in our solar system have rocky and icy moons. That raises the possibility that alien Jupiter’s will also have moons. Some of those may be Earth-sized and able to hold onto an atmosphere," she said.
A Pandora-type moon could be identified when its planet "transits" across the face of the parent star. If the moon has an atmosphere, it will absorb a tiny amount of light from the star, leaving a spectrographic fingerprint of its composition.
Dr Kaltenegger calculated that Alpha Centauri A, the star featured in Avatar, would provide an excellent target for astronomers hunting habitable moons.
Alpha Centauri is the closest star system to the Sun, being only 4.37 light years away. It consists of three stars, the largest being Alpha Centauri A, which is slightly brighter than the Sun.
2010 TO BE INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF YOUTH:...... UN
In an effort to harness the energy, imagination and initiative of the world's young denizens in overcoming the challenges facing humanity, the United Nations (UN) has declared 2010 as the International Year of Youth, starting Aug 12.
'The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society,' UN Focal Point on Youth, Nicola Shepherd, said in a statement Monday.
'We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs and concerns and to recognize the contributions that they can make to society,' she added.
The announcement was made on Dec 18.
In its resolution proclaiming the Year, the General Assembly called on governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support activities at local and international levels to mark the event.
Under the theme 'Dialogue and Mutual Understanding', the Year aims to encourage dialogue and understanding across generations and promote the ideals of peace, respect for human rights, freedom and solidarity.
It also encourages youth to dedicate them to fostering progress, including the attainment of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which seek to remove a host of social ills, ranging from extreme poverty and hunger to maternal and infant mortality to lack of access to education and health care, by 2015.
Several international events are already scheduled throughout the year, including the Fifth World Youth Congress from July 31 to Aug 13 in Istanbul, and the World Conference for Youth in Mexico City from Aug 24-27.
Both gatherings will focus on youth and sustainable development in the context of the MDGs.
From Aug 14 to 26, Singapore will hold the international Youth Olympic Games, the statement added.