Thursday, July 30, 2009


THE CLAIM Drinking tea can lower your levels of iron. THE FACTS With its bounty of antioxidants and relatively moderate levels of caffeine, tea is one of the healthiest beverages around. But drinking tea is said to block the body’s absorption of dietary iron, potentially causing a deficiency. Studies have shown that there is some truth to the idea. Compounds in tea called tannins can act as chelators, binding to minerals and inhibiting the body’s ability to absorb them. Although that can reduce a person’s levels of iron, studies have also found that it is unlikely to have much of an impact.In one study, scientists examined the effect by having people eat a typical meal – a hamburger, string beans and mashed potatoes – and then measuring their iron levels after the meal was combined with various drinks. When the subjects ate the meal with tea, there was a 62 per cent reduction in iron absorption. Drinking coffee resulted in a 35 per cent reduction. Orange juice increased iron absorption by about 85 per cent.But there was a twist. Coffee and tea affected only the levels of non-heme iron, the kind found in grains and vegetables. Heme iron, found in meat, fish and poultry, was unaffected. Because most Americans generally get more iron from their diets than needed, a daily cup or two of coffee or tea is unlikely to lead to low levels of iron.

Feeling stressed or fretful? Try savouring the scent of lemon, mango, lavender or other fragrant plants to calm yourself.

Scientists in Japan are presenting the first scientific evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels.
Akio Nakamura, of Saitama University, Japan and colleagues note that people have inhaled the scent of certain plants since ancient times to help reduce stress, fight inflammation and depression, and induce sleep.
Aromatherapy, the use of fragrant plant oils to improve mood and health, has become a popular form of alternative medicine today.
And linalool is one of the most widely used substances to soothe away emotional stress. Until now, however, linalool's exact effects on the body have been a deep mystery.
The scientists exposed lab rats to stressful conditions while inhaling and not inhaling linalool.
Linalool returned stress-elevated levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes - key parts of the immune system - to near-normal levels.
Inhaling linalool also reduced the activity of more than 100 genes that go into overdrive in stressful situations. The findings could form the basis of new blood tests for identifying fragrances that can soothe stress, the researchers say.
These findings were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Beware, emails or Facebook posts or pictures can resurface months after they are deleted -- in the wrong hands or at the wrong time, according to researchers.
'If you care about privacy, the internet today is a very scary place,' said University of Washington (UW) computer scientist Tadayoshi Kohno. 'If people understood the implications of where and how their email is stored, they might be more careful or not use it as often.'
For instance, a lost cell phone can expose personal photos or text messages. A legal investigation can subpoena the entire contents of a home or work computer, uncovering incriminating, inconvenient or just embarrassing details from the past.
The team of UW computer scientists developed a prototype system called Vanish that can place a time limit on text uploaded to any web service through a web browser. After a set time text written using Vanish will, in essence, self-destruct.
Study co-authors include Roxana Geambasu, Tadayoshi Kohno, Hank Levy and Amit Levy, all with UW's department of computer science and engineering.
'When you send out a sensitive email to a few friends you have no idea where that email is going to end up,' Geambasu said.
'For instance, your friend could lose her laptop or cell phone, her data could be exposed by a hacker, or a subpoena could require your e-mail service to reveal your messages. If you want to ensure that your message never gets out, how do you do that?'
Many people believe that pressing the 'delete' button will make their data go away. 'The reality is that many web services archive data indefinitely, well after you've pressed delete,' Geambasu said.
Simply encrypting the data can be risky in the long term, the researchers say. The data can be exposed years later, for example, by legal actions that force an individual or company to reveal the encryption key.
'In today's world, private information is scattered all over the internet, and we can't control the lifetime of that data,' said Levy.
'And as we transition to a future based on cloud computing, where enormous, anonymous data centres run the vast majority of our applications and store nearly all of our data, we will lose even more control.'
Researchers compare using Vanish to writing a message in the sand at low tide, where it can be read for only a few hours before the tide comes in and permanently washes it away.
Erasing the data doesn't require any special action by the sender, the recipient or any third party service.
A paper about the project went public on Tuesday and will be presented at the Usenix Security Symposium Aug 10-14 in Montreal, Canada.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009



The project aims to recreate neurons which are used by human brain to process information by sending signals.
A functional artificial human brain will be possible in the next 10 years, according to neuroscientist Henry Markram, who made the announcement at TED Global 2009 at Oxford. Dr Markram is director of Blue Brain Project, a supercomputing project that can model components of the mammalian brain to precise cellular detail and simulate their activity in 3D. He has already created parts of a fully functioning rat brain.
The project, which was started in 2005, aims to recreate neurons, which are used by human brain to process information by sending electrical signals from neuron to neuron. In the cerebral cortex, neurons are organised into basic functional units, like microcircuits in a computer. This microcircuit, known as the neocortical column (NCC), is repeated millions of times across the cortex.
The Blue Brain project aims to re-create this fundamental microcircuit, down to the level of biologically accurate individual neurons, and this can then be used in simulations.
The difference between the brain of a mouse and the brain of a human is basically just volume -- humans have many more neocortical columns and thus more neurons than mice. "It is not impossible to build a human brain and we can do it in 10 years. And if we do succeed, we will send a hologram to TED to talk,"said Dr Markram at the conference. The artificial brain would help understand the mysteries of human brain and help find treatments for mental disorders, which afflict about two billion people in the world.
Neurons are so complicated that one laptop is needed to do all the calculations for one neuron, said Dr Markram.
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a multi-disciplinary academic group which promotes ideas.


Since Michael Jackson's sudden death on June 25, the rumour mill over details of his bizarre personal life has ground away nearly non-stop, and on Friday, one company said it was turning his hair into diamonds. That one is true. The claims this week included a report in Rolling Stone magazine that a prosthetic nose he wore apparently went missing when he was taken to the morgue, and a British tabloid trumpeted a headline that he fathered a secret love-child.
In one by-product of the "Thriller" singer's death, a Chicago company said on Friday it had obtained some of the hair Jackson burned while filming a 1984 Pepsi commercial and planned to create a limited edition of diamonds from it.
"This is for real," said Dean Vanden Biesen, founder of LifeGem, which has a patent on a process that extracts carbon from hair, turns it into crystals , and then into high-quality laboratory diamonds.
Vanden Biesen told Reuters he thought the company could make about 10 diamonds. No sale price has been set but Vanden Biesen said LifeGem created three diamonds from locks of Beethoven's hair in 2007, and sold one of them for around $200,000. Separately, the August 6 issue of Rolling Stone magazine reported that not only was the left arm of Jackson's dead body "scored with needle marks" but his nose was also missing.


The average worker uses it for 15 minutes a day, and most couldn't come up with a legitimate "business reason" for logging on.
FACEBOOK LOVERS, here is another survey showing how employee productivity is robbed at workplaces. So put a limit on its usage before employers and the bosses put a stop on its usage at work.While it won't make employers popular, restricting Facebook can reclaim lost productivity.
A new study by Boston IT advisory firm, Nucleus Research finds that, company that allow users to access Facebook in the workplace lose an average 1.5 per cent in total worker productivity.
Nearly half of employees in the recent "social networking" study use Facebook during work hours some as much as two hours per day. The average worker uses it for 15 minutes a day, and most couldn't come up with a legitimate "business reason" for logging on.
The survey says about 77 per cent of workers who have a Facebook account use it during work hours.
And "some" employees use the social networking site as much as two hours a day at work, the study found. Nucleus Research did not say how many workers fit into that category, but did note that one in 33 workers surveyed only used Facebook at work.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Internet giant Google has invited people to store "end-of-life" wishes on its free online health records management service.Google Health made available "advance directive" forms on which people can specify what they want doctors to do or not do in the event they are too ill or injured to express their wishes.
Forms created with collaboration from an organisation specialising in elder care are available free for download online and can be customised to the laws in the United States, according to Roni Zeiger and Julie Wilner of the Google Health team. "An advance directive allows you to determine your end-of-life wishes so that your family and doctor can honour them if you get sick and are unable to communicate," Wilner and Zeiger said in a message at Google's official blog.
"The decision to sign an advance directive is an important and personal one, and Google Health now makes it a little bit easier."
The service recently added a feature that lets people upload scanned medical records to profiles for storage or selective sharing.
"We would like to reduce the unnecessary use of paper in patient care,"Zeiger and Wilner wrote.
"We hope someday we'll move beyond paper, but until then Google Health can help you store your paper medical records electronically, including an advance directive, in one safe place.


Is Yahoo-Microsoft deal finally happening? Yes almost, says a report in All Things Digital. According to the news report, the two companies are very close to entering a search and online advertising deal.
The report adds that top Microsoft executives, including SVP of the Online Audience Business Group Yusuf Mehdi, search head Satya Nadella and top digital exec Qi Lu, and many others, have flown down to Silicon Valley from their Redmond, HQ to iron out the remaining issues. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer though not part of the entourage is also said to be involved in the talks.
Though there are different versions of the deal, the report says that they all include Microsoft paying Yahoo several billion dollars upfront to take over its search advertising business and guarantee certain payments back. The deal is also reported to have a display advertising element which would likely have Yahoo take the lead in selling premium advertising for the companies.
If all goes well, a deal could be announced within the next week itself, says the news report quoting sources at both the companies.

The global obsession with losing weight was never more apparent as it is this week. A clutch of new studies showed how some of the world's best research centres are spending millions in the hunt for the elusive no-pain, no-sweat weight-reduction pill. The Excercise pill.
The most different slimming solution came from scientists from the Harvard Medical School, which reported that they were a close to developing a pill to help people exercise. Their study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, showed that physical activity in very overweight mice doubled when a hormone called leptin was switched on in their brain. Leptin was identified 15 years ago as a hormone that curbed appetite and led to weight loss. Harvard scientists now hope to build on the research to create pills to help people get more active without realising it. Next came the July 13 study in Nature Chemical Biology, which reported how new fat-busting pill led fat mice losing one-fourth of their body weight. The drug reduced the body weight of mice by a quarter and fat mass by 42 per cent after a week, with follow-up experiments over the month showing even more dramatic loss of up to 62.9 per cent! The fat-burners.
There's more. On July 17, the journal Diabetes reported that a pill derived from naringenin, which gives grapefuit its bitter flavour, caused weight loss by prodding the liver to burn fat after a meal instead of storing it. Simply put, the pill causes weight loss without a change in diet. The bad news is that these wonder drugs are still in the pipeline and will take some years to hit the chemists. Till then, you have to fall back on the tried-and-tested weight-loss mantra of diet and exercise.For a one kilogram loss in a week, you have to survive on a near-starvation diet of 400 calories (one masala dosa or one large McDonald's Fries) a day if you are a sedentary women (recommended intake is 1,500 calories a day) and 700 calories if you are a man (recommended intake is 1,800). Only aerobic exercise and weight training, not yoga - can help you lose weight and keep it off.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


It’s often said that the spark of genius lurks hidden within all of us. And now, scientists have claimed that a “thinking cap” which could enhance the brain’s ability to learn has moved a step closer. Ateam at the University of British Columbia came to this conclusion after it carried out a study which found that magnets could boost brain power.In fact, the scientists discovered that the ability of the brain to learn a task and remember was greatly enhanced when a magnetic pulse was applied to the premotor cortex i.e., the area of the brain just behind the forehead. According to lead scientist Lara Boyd, the technique could be used to enhance intellectual capacity and help those with learning difficulties and eventually lead to a “thinking cap”. The Daily Telegraph reported. “With this tool we hope to be able to promote learning in patient populations who otherwise have great difficulty in acquiring new motor skills. We are actively investigating this possibility right now in my lab,” she said.

The G8 summit wound up here on Friday with a wary acknowledgement of its growing irrelevance as the world's premier power block. The G14 is rising from its ashes, a much more inclusive body, with developed and developing countries on an equal footing.
The intimation of G-8's impending loss came from the host of the summit, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. ``We saw that G8 is no longer a suitable format to show a global economic way of doing. Instead, a consolidated G-14 representing 80% of the world economy could help create a real dialogue. We want to see if the G14 is the best solution for debates which will bring to us unique results.''
Berlusconi was merely echoing the creeping realisation among the G-8 countries that the steady decline of the developed nations, coupled with the rapid rise of developing countries like India and China, had rendered the rich club irrelevant.
The deliberations of the G8 and G5 saw even French President Nicholas Sarkozy making a strong case for the G14 to deal with issues of global governance after President Lula of Brazil spoke about the idea of a new group. .
Many seemed to feel it was a matter of time before the G8 was replaced by a G14 comprising India, the US, China, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Canada, the UK, Italy and one more country, possibly Egypt.
Italian newspapers headlined their report on Berlusconi's remarks thus: `The G8 is over, now we need a G14'. It's been a while since rapid changes in the global balance of economic power have turned the G8--which started as a fireside chat among seven industrialised countries (Russia came in after the end of the Cold War)--into an anachronism.
Recognising that their diminution in the global power stakes made their swagger on the global stage seem unreal, the rich countries were forced to reach out to India, China and other developing countries five years ago.
The grudging effort termed ``outreach'' to make the group more representative was half-hearted, with the invitees being denied voting rights--their contributions were limited to endorsing the professed pious intentions of the developed world towards the rest of the world and to turning up for the photo-ops. In fact, the G8 declarations were published even before the outreach countries had a chance to meet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

It’s a fantastic privilege to be given a chance to live, think and learn, feels eminent scientist and educationist. Eyes are filled with a thousand questions. you can still see them dance with a hint of mischief.

Children must be understood by listening to their curious questions. Education should allow children to ask questions that transcend the limits prescribed by school examinations. One must love answering their curious questions — earthworms, which fertilise the soil thereby balancing the ecosystem. Children are the stem cells of society and they make life a marvellous Life — they keep you thinking about precious gift. It’s a fantastic privilege to be given a chance to live, think and learn — to get to know people and to understand the universe. You must be engaged with problems, having issues with nature and asking why the universe exists, is the stuff life’s made of! while for most of us, hobbies are activities which we do in our free time. Life is a hobby and retirement from your vocation is by no means an excuse for free time. In your mind, you must as busy as you were whilst you was working full time.Even though you are old now, you must be an active contributor to society. It’s great to be born a human being, it’s fun, you must be always been happy and engaged … the biggest joy of life is to understand.

Triglycerides are a form of fat that floats in our bloodstream. If you have high triglycerides and VLDL values, you need to get these back to normal. Their main function is to supply fuel to the body so that it may do its chores. Unchecked, they can jam the arteries and set up the negative process of atherosclerosis thus increasing the risk of angina, heart attacks and stroke. Why not cut their untidy levels? Eat less. Keep a watch on your calories as all excess calories turn into fat and triglycerides.Curtail dairy fats. Saturated dairy fats, which are basically “hard” animal fats like butter, malai, desi ghee,and cheese, should be reduced to 10 per cent of calories or less.Take plenty of fibre. Water-soluble fibre, found in fruits, green leafy vegetables, oat bran, legumes, whole grains etc., binds cholesterol to it in the intestines and causes it to be excreted from the body. This lowers our LDL levels and causes an increase in the healthy HDL levels. Use a sensible cooking medium. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils can actually help decrease levels of both cholesterol and triglycerides. Good oils include safflower,sunflower,wheat germ, corn, canola and mustard oil. Too much sugar is bad. Table sugar and desserts by the sheer load of their calories can burden you with increasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There are many foods that may lower blood cholesterol, lower triglycerides, raise HDL levels, or make platelets less likely to clump. Garlic, onions, and ginger are good. Natural vitamins and minerals are useful. Foods that are naturally rich in vitamins C, E, B6, niacin, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper,chromium, selenium, carnitine and lecithin may play a role in decreasing the risk of fatty plaque formation in the arteries.Exercise is a must. Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise four or five times per week may lower cholesterol and raise HDL levels.If these measures do not yield expected results, talk to your doctor. He can start you on medicines that can lower the triglycerides.


Hardship builds character. One can never become a person of extraordinary character just by leading an ordinary life and avoiding difficulties. you may be experiencing great pain because of deeprooted problems. This will rise anger in you. You must not feel defeated, learning to laugh off defeat and encouraging yourself will strengthen you. Don,t give up. Remember they can segragate you. But they con't control your mind. Your mind is still yours. If there’s one thing you’ve got to hold onto, it’s the courage to fight. As long as we are alive we cannot be free of difficulties nor spared from problems. The question is how to overcome and resolve them. And there is only one answer: to confront and challenge life’s trials head on. In doing so we can actually change them into sources of joy.Hardship builds character. One can never become a person of extraordinary character just by leading an ordinary and peaceful life and avoiding difficulties. Life involves scaling one mountain, then the next, then the one after that. The person who keeps on going, one step at a time, and finally conquers the highest mountain, will have a real sense of victory in life. But someone who avoids challenges will gradually descend into the valleys. Such a person, when faced with a problem, tends to think, “I know I should take action, but it will be very difficult.”When it is time to act, this kind of person tends to turn away. Someone who perseveres will rise to the challenge however, determining, “It will be very difficult, but I must take action.” A diamond, the king of jewels, is the hardest and brightest of minerals. Just as diamonds crystallise when carbon buried deep underground is subjected to extremely high pressure and temperatures, so, when we forge our lives under the intense pressure of difficulties and in the severe heat of hardship, we can develop a beautiful and strong sense of self. Often the biggest obstacle in meeting life’s challenges is actually our own fear of failure. But it is not failure that we should fear.The only failure comes when we allow our fear to prevent us from taking on new and unknown challenges. Just about every important figure in history has in fact lived a life marked by one mishap after another. But these people rose up again after every setback, prodded on by a spirit that refused to concede defeat.Even if you have problems, even if you have done things you regret, or have made mistakes, your whole future still lies ahead of you. If you can just keep moving forward, telling yourself, “I’ll start from today,” “I’ll start afresh from now, from this moment,” then a whole new world of possibilities will open up before you.