Monday, April 20, 2009


People in our city need not wait up to 2020 to feel the effects of global warming and temperature rising, it is already being felt in our city and other cities across India. The average temperature has increased by 1 Degree Celsius every year over the last couple of years. That is why our days in Chennai are hot even in March.

The rise in sea level and the melting of Arctic ice are issues at the macro level. But we are ignoring the fact that our own city is experiencing a heat wave and winter days have become hotter. Our city has become a concrete jungle. The buildings emit huge quantity of carbon and heat. Most buildings have air-conditioners.

“Till ‘70s Chennai summers were bearable. We never used air-conditioners or fans those days. The excessive traffic on city roads had made the city hotter” said Dr. Krishna, director CPR Environmental Foundation.

According to a study, the ever increasing concrete areas of city easily absorb the sun’s radiation. “The retention time of this radiation has gone up and the heat is released very slowly. Hence we find that humidity is high and heat persists well past midnight.” Said, Dr. Ramachandran, director, centre for climatic change and adaptation research, Anna University, Chennai.



Scientists have made a major scientific breakthrough by developing a stem cell therapy to cure blindness. A team in Britain has developed the treatment which involves replacing a layer of degenerated cells with new ones created from embryonic stem cells to cure age-related muscular degeneration, the most common cause of blindness. According to the scientists, it will become routine, one-hour procedure that will be generally available in six to seven years’ time, The Sunday Times reported.

Embryonic stem cells have the ability to develop into all types of body tissue. And under the new therapy, embryonic stem cells are transformed into replicas of the missing cells. They are then placed on an artificial membrane that’s inserted in the back of the retina.

The treatment would take less than an hour, so it really could be considered as an outpatient procedure and can become a common therapy.


Tomatoes eaten raw might not be so healthy, says a new study, because our digestive tract can only process a tiny amount of lycopene, an antioxidant found abundantly in tomatoes.

Antioxidants are dietary substances found in beta carotene, vitamins C and E and selenium. They prevent damage to the cells in our body or reverse damage after it has been done.

The study found that although around 75 percent of the total antioxidants were released, this included only four percent of the lycopene found in the raw tomato.

"Tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene in the human diet, as well as containing other antioxidants essential for health," said nutritional biochemist Carolyn Lister of Plant & Food Research (PFR).

"However, the human digestive tract is not able to release the majority of lycopene from raw tomatoes, so only a small amount would be made available for the body to use."

"Processing tomatoes has been shown to make lycopene more bioavailable, so as well as eating raw tomatoes for their nutritional value, we should eat tomato sauces to get the goodness of the lycopene," said Lister.

The study was published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


A US think tank has asked the Congress to instead raise the cap on H-1B visas to promote economic growth and generate much needed tax revenue, while rejecting that it would steal American jobs.

The Congress must raise the cap on H-1B visas coveted by Indian techies back to 195,000 visas per year……the maximum allowed as recently as 2001----- from the current 65,000. The Heritage Foundation analysts Jena Baker McNeill and Diem Nguyen said on Tuesday.

“Raising the cap for H-1B visas will not steal American jobs but will help promote growth and generate much needed tax revenue,” they said calling the notion a “popular myth”.

This notion is so widespread that the Congress recently passed an amendment barring companies receiving bailout money from hiring H-1B employees but this notion is “entirely false,” McNeill and Diem said. The researchers cited a survey by the National Foundation for American Policy to show that 65 per cent of high-tech companies employed people outside the US due to their inability to obtain H-1B visas. As shown by the survey on average, for every H-1B employee hired, an additional five American employees were also hired.

If the Congress were to increase the H-1B cap to 195,000 visas, the US Government would receive an additional $2 billion of tax revenue each year, the two researchers said.

Noting that as the US economy fluctuates through its business cycles and the demand for H-1B visas will raise and fall, McNeill and Diem suggested making the cap flexible.

The Congress should establish a quota, if met, automatically increases for next year.


An ‘uncanny’ glowing disc hovering above London has been captured by an amateur photographer in London. He plans to hand over the photographs to Nasa for further investigations.


The amendments made to the IT Act passed by Indian Parliament require internet behemoths like Google, Rediff and Microsoft — which provide free email services — to set up Indian servers. Not just that, they may also have to provide Indian email accounts for Indian nationals. This will have far-reaching ramifications for the millions of users of Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoomail in India.

Internet users will have email accounts ending with ‘.in’ instead of ‘.com’. While some like Yahoo already provide email services with this suffix, many others offer the global suffix ‘.com’.

The change is going to make a huge difference for the investigating agencies dealing with cyber crime, including data theft. Local mail IDs are a big problem across the globe, wherein the investigating agencies struggle to get personal details of account holders due to jurisdictional issues. As the servers of these accounts are generally overseas, mostly in the US, every country has to go through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty and send letters rogatory (LRs) to get the details. The process of sending LRs takes more than six months.

“For a long time, we have been asking for this, and I think there will be an automatic change once the gazette notification for IT Act amendment comes into effect. Parliament has passed the Bill, and internet domains will be bound by Indian law if they have to carry out their business here,’’ says IGP, CoD, H C Kishore Chandra.

In India, the issue assumed critical proportion after the Mumbai terror attacks, where the terrorists used BlackBerry mobiles. As the parent company initially refused to part with information critical to the investigation, there was even talk of banning BlackBerry.

“It’s a question of availability of information when we need it. When the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team director was here for discussion, we said this can’t go on forever. Most of the time, we had to plead helplessness as we could not get information in time,’’ DIG, CoD, Malini Krishnamurthy says.

The question is, will global email providers agree to the idea of hosting servers
in India to service their Indian client base?

“We don’t know how they are going to do it, but the government has decided to do it. Every domain company has their branch office here, and they are bound to pass on the information immediately, whenever investigation agency needs it,’’ Krishnamurthy says.

Monday, April 6, 2009


If you stay awake at night and counting sheep does not help you fall asleep, you may not be in for just a drowsy day ahead but also putting yourself at risk for heart disease, obesity, depression and even diabetes, says experts.

It is very important to go for a diagnosis and treatment if any one is suffering from sleep disorder. Nothing wrong in taking sleep medicine but should be taken only according to the doctor prescription.

Sleep is essential for emotional, mental and physical well-being, and any imbalance in sleep should be treated.

While many studies have linked sleep disorders to obesity, insomnia in adolescents and young adults has been linked to depression and substance abuse. Physicians also believe inadequate sleep may prompt development of insulin resistance.


From ancient explorers to modern day technology, the search for long life and eternal youth has been going on for centuries. Although no one has yet been able to find the remedy, there are many foods that contribute to the continuation of a youthful body. They may be referred to as “food for being youth”. One type of molecule responsible for maintaining youth is called anti-oxidants. It is found in many common foods and can essentially slow down the aging process.

How do anti-oxidants work? Foods which are rich in anti-oxidants, work against another molecule produced in every human body called free radicals. These naturally produced free radicals cause damage to other healthy cells throughout the body such as the skin and heart. It can cause wrinkles in the skin or damage blood vessels which can lead to heart disease or even promote cancer. In order to prevent such damage, the body fights against these using anti-oxidants. When a person consumes foods that are rich in anti-oxidants, those are absorbed into the body and bind with free radicals to inhibit further destruction. They allow the healthy cells to remain free of injury. Therefore, regular consumption of foods rich in anti-oxidants can decrease one’s risk for cancer, heart disease and a variety of other health related problems that generally accompany aging.

So, which foods are rich in anti-oxidants? A number of them contain significant amounts of anti-oxidants. Many fruits such as pomegranates, oranges, apples, grapes, and mangoes are rich in anti-oxidants. By simply adding a piece of fruit as an afternoon snack, you can improve your health. It is recommended that adults consume 2 to 4 pieces of fruit per day. In addition, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables such as spinach are good source of anti-oxidants. Sweet potatoes, beans, and various nuts are high in anti-oxidants.

Choosing these foods frequently can improve your overall diet. Lastly, you may be happy to know that tea provides a good amount of anti-oxidants and will have the same benefits as these foods. So it may be a good idea to invite a friend or neighbour over some tea, you may begin to feel younger.


In the first-ever indication of its stand on H-1B visas popular among Indian professionals, the Obama administration has informed a court that the USA needs this scheme to avoid ‘competitive disadvantage’ the American companies could face otherwise.

A submission in this regard was recently filed by Michael F. Hertz, acting assistant attorney-general, in response to a law suit filed by a group of three USA bodies, nine individuals and two students challenging government’s decision to extend from one year to 29 months the duration of foreign nationals with engineering, science and other technical degrees who can work in the USA on student visa.

This was a policy decision by the previous Bush government, which was challenged in a lower court in New Jersey in 2008 and summarily dismissed. The same petitioners approached the third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia in March. The Obama administration’s view point was expressed in its submission before the Philadelphia court on March 23, according to a copy of petition and response obtained by PTI.