Monday, September 28, 2009


We live in a digital age where desire can be downloaded. But this is also the age of metrics — the science of measuring things. So, it's no surprise that desire is measured too. But, how does one measure something like desire or curiosity?

With the Internet, one can. Every time you type a word, phrase or query into your favorite search engine, you get a list of websites. You search, surf and forget, but unknown to all of us, the search engines keep a record. Yes, even of the last one, "how to kiss", that you furtively keyed in and thought you'd erased.

In fact, they record every page you visit, download and share. They follow the chain — the click-stream through and through. And they record your Internet Protocol (IP) Address, which is your computer's unique 32-bit number.

This has given rise to a gigantic database of human desires, intentions and anxieties. It is buried deep within the electronic circuits of servers — supercomputers owned by search-engine companies. In 2008, roughly 8.5 billion searches were carried out, up by 10 per cent since 2007. This does not include searches from computers in cyber cafes and mobile phones. This 'search factor' is driven by the exploding population of Internet users, which crossed the billion-mark in 2008. Add to this the personal histories uploaded on social networking sites and you have an enormous database, growing every second.

But for what is this super registry used? Its uses can be both innocent (to churn out yearly lists of the weirdest searches) and evil (marketing). These top searches give a glimpse into how people think. There are the predictable keywords like 'Usain Bolt' or 'George Bush + shoe' that are driven by current events. Then there is anxiety and loneliness expressed in the desire for companionship — social networking sites have increasingly made it to the most-searched lists in the past two years. The pursuit of desires and fantasies is revealed by highly popular searches for actresses and pop stars like Britney Spears or Katrina Kaif, and games like WWE or Rune Scape.

Across societies, people follow a learning curve. The largely American users of AOL and appear to be looking more for 'weather', 'maps', 'music', 'cars' and 'area codes', apart from TV channels. For them, Google or Yahoo is just a convenient tool to get to the weather forecast or to listen to music. This doesn't mean Americans are uninterested in Paris Hilton's latest tantrum — they just know where to get the latest on them, and so don't use the search engines. But in other parts of the world, they reach for Google.

An analysis of searches has to take into account the language being used. Most generalizations apply to the English-speaking, Net-using community.

This is massive, but still just a fraction of humanity. Consider this: Of the 8.5 billion searches carried out last year, 41 per cent originated in the Asia Pacific region (which includes China), 28 per cent in Europe and 18 per cent in North America. To understand Chinese desires, therefore, Google won't do. You have to go to Baidu, the most popular Chinese search engine. And, of course, you have to learn Mandarin.

Big daddy Google has over 63 per cent of market share in searches, and the largest 'desire database'. A version is available on its site where you can compare the popularity, over time, of any two products in any specified location. No absolute figures are offered — they don't tell you that X brand had 1,000 hit while Y brand had 2,000. They just give out relative shares in a graph. But, make no mistake, they have the figures.

This database is the mother lode of consumer profiling. Marketing strategies get a whole new meaning when a dossier of searches reveals the direction of people's curiosities or needs. Marketing firms have been known to purchase parts of this database. Last year, UK advertising broker Phorma bought millions of personal details from Internet service provider British Telecom to sell to companies interested in online advertising. Most big search engine operators have said that they won't be selling their database, probably because it is much more valuable if they have a monopoly over it. They can use it to charge a fee from advertisers. A watered-down version of this is already online — the subject-linked ads you see when you open an email message. Management of minds, mediated through machines, may well be at hand.

Imagine this database getting into the hands of an authoritarian government. They will spy on everybody. We will live in a closed society. You may be deleting your search history every day, but don't fool yourself. This is one eye that never blinks.

With the economy showing signs of recovery, American firms are looking to re-hire employees they laid off in the past, says a latest report.

According to a report by global career transition and coaching firm OI Partners, about 40 per cent of employers are planning to re-hire some former workers they laid off as either full-time employees or as consultants and freelancers.

The reason behind hiring former employees is that their skills are known to the employers and they consider former employees fit into the company's culture and environment. The employers think that re-hiring a former employee is less risky than recruiting a new one, the report said.

It noted that nearly half of financial services firms surveyed are planning to recruit some laid-off employees, 47 per cent of manufacturing companies and 42 per cent of services companies plan to re-hire some laid-off workers.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


In the never-ending battle to protect computer networks from intruders, security experts are deploying a new defense, modeled on one of nature's hardiest creatures - the ant.

Unlike traditional security devices, which are static, these "digital ants" wander through computer networks looking for threats, such as "computer worms" - self-replicating programmes designed to steal information or facilitate unauthorized use of machines.

When a digital ant detects a threat, it doesn't take long for an army of ants to converge at that location, drawing the attention of human operators who step in to investigate.

The concept, called "swarm intelligence", promises to transform cyber security because it adapts readily to changing threats.

"In nature, we know that ants defend against threats very successfully," explains Errin Fulp, computer science professor and expert in security and computer networks, at the Wake Forest University (WFU).

"They can ramp up their defense rapidly, and then resume routine behavior quickly after an intruder has been stopped. We were trying to achieve that same framework in a computer system," he says.

Current security devices are designed to defend against all known threats at all times, but the bad guys who write malware - software created for malicious purposes - keep introducing slight variations to evade computer defenses.

As new variations are discovered and updates issued, security programmes gobble more resources, antivirus scans take longer and machines run slower - a familiar problem for most computer users.

Glenn Fink, research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington, came up with the idea of copying ant behavior. PNNL, one of 10 Department of Energy (DoE) labs, conducts cutting-edge research in cyber security.

Fink was familiar with Fulp's expertise developing faster scans using parallel processing - dividing computer data into batches like lines of shoppers going through grocery store checkouts, where each lane is focused on certain threats.

He invited Fulp and Wake Forest graduate students Wes Featherstun and Brian Williams to join a project there this summer that tested digital ants on a network of 64 computers.

Swarm intelligence, the approach developed by PNNL and Wake Forest, divides up the process of searching for specific threats, and says a WFU release.

"Our idea is to deploy 3,000 different types of digital ants, each looking for evidence of a threat," Fulp says.

Fulp introduced a worm into the network, and the digital ants successfully found it. PNNL has extended the project this semester, and Featherstun and Williams plan to incorporate the research into their master's theses.

Capturing carbon directly from the air is the only way to prevent dangerous climate changes, says a pioneering Canadian scientist.

University of Calgary scientist David Keith says governments need to earmark more research funding for technologies to capture carbon dioxide in surrounding air to save the planet. Keith has successfully tested an air capture technology last year. The market for carbon capture technologies is estimated to reach $1 billion a year within 20 years.

In a paper published in Science journal Thursday, he says technology could efficiently reduce carbon dioxide emissions from sources such as airplanes and home furnaces.

The Canadian scientist says these "mobile" and "diffuse" sources (including homes and airplanes) account for more than half of the greenhouse gases emitted on the plant.

"Over the long run, the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air should be viewed as an essential tool in our kit for managing carbon-climate risks," says Keith, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Energy and the Environment.

"We need, at the minimum, a serious long-term exploratory research effort to develop air capture along with other direct methods for removing CO2 from the atmosphere," he adds.

According to Keith, air capture technology also offers the possibility of turning the captured carbon dioxide into carbon-neutral synthetic fuels for vehicles, to reduce vehicle emissions.

Air capture plants also might be built where the costs of construction and operation are cheap, and near the best sites for permanently storing the captured carbon dioxide underground, he says.

For the short term, he advocates efforts to limit the risks of climate change by focusing on reducing industrial and other sources of carbon emissions. For the long term, he says air capture technology offers a way to reduce carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, to manage otherwise irreversible risks of climate change.


A futuristic American scientist has predicted that man could become immortal in as little as 20 years' time through nanotechnology and better understanding of the body mechanism.
Ray Kurzweil, known to have predicted future technologies decades ahead has written in The Sun , "I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies' stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, ageing. Then nano-technology will let us live forever."

The 61-year-old, lauded by Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the smartest futurist on Earth said, "We are living through the most exciting period of human history. Computer technology and our understanding of genes -- our body's software programs -- are accelerating at an incredible rate."

The scientist says that already, blood cell-sized submarines called nanobots are being tested in animals.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Technology experts worldwide are finding it "almost impossible" to defeat the Conficker worm, which has infected more than 5 million computers and could even knock down the internet in all countries.
The worm, which was first detected in November, last year, spreads rapidly to computers through a flaw in the Windows operating system.
Infected machines are co-opted into a "botnet" army, which can be controlled and used by the hackers to launch unprecedented cyber attacks.
"The general agreement in the security world is that Conficker is the largest threat facing us from a cyber crime point of view ... it has proven to be extremely resilient. It's almost impossible to remove," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Rodney Joffe, a director of the Conficker Working Group formed to defeat the worm, as saying.
"The best minds in the world have not managed to crack the code behind this yet," he added. The threat is so dangerous that the world's largest computer security companies have joined together with government around the world in an unusual alliance to pool their resources and solve the problem.

Microsoft has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the individuals -- or rogue governments -- behind Conficker.

The creators of the worm can do anything they want with the infected machines including stealing users' banking details or flooding government servers to knock them offline.

So far the international effort to find a solution has yielded few results, and the number of infected machines has remained fairly stable at 5 million, which include home, business and Government computers.


About 40 protesters carrying guns showed up at Raymond in New Hampshire after the town refused permission to a local resident to hold yoga classes to mark the International Day of Peace.
Molly Schlangen, the yoga instructor who had planned to hold a complimentary class on Monday, held it at her studio in the neighboring town of Epping instead as the authorities refused permission.
But local residents, annoyed by the refusal of authorities, held two gatherings to demonstrate their support for freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble, the New American reported on Monday. Lack of information about the kind of crowd that might gather at classes had led the authorities to deny permission.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Doctors and medical experts warn about the disturbing trend of cyberchondriacs and pill poppers

If you Google your pill without having consulted a qualified medical practitioner, chances are that you're about to become one among the 1.5 million people worldwide, who fall ill due to wrong medication.
And if you say you've consulted the Net before downing your tablet, that reason, say docs, simply isn't good enough. There's also a term for such Net-obsessed pill-poppers: cyberchondriac.
Consultant of internal medicine Dr Rajiv Kumar Erry, remarks, "Today one can find more and more pill poppers, who lack awareness about safe medication, as well as cyberchondriacs, who misdiagnose themselves and approach me for help only after putting their health at risk. This is a disturbing trend -- one in three people today are a victim of this habit. A wrong combination of pills can be extremely harmful.
For example, an overdose of painkillers like Brufen, combined with anti-allergy drugs like cetirizine, have sedative effects that can depress the central nervous system to such an extent that the person might not be able to move."
"People should also be careful about their food habits while on medication. For instance, even an alcohol-based cough syrup or tonic, when combined with certain painkillers, can become a deadly poison."


If those hefty Internet bills have left you puzzled of late, you might want to cross-check your security settings. Chances are the wireless router you use at home is being tapped into by some free-loading whiz kid who is living off your Wi-Fi right under your nose!

With more people using wireless routers at homes, residential colonies have become havens for smart alecs who go hunting for Wi-Fi connections that are not password protected.

Owners who foot the bills of these freeloaders however, beg to differ. A coffee shop owner, says, “We have a free Wi-Fi corner for our customers, but people residing in the area too use the service due to which the speed is affected.”

Sometimes passwords too are of no use as it doesn’t take much to hack into a wireless network. A software expert say’s “My whole apartment complex is a Wi-Fi hotspot and many people use their neighbor’s wireless internet. Password-protected networks too can be hacked easily nowadays.”


Want to shed flab? Drink green coffee daily, says a new study.

Researchers have carried out the study and found that chlorogenic acid from green coffee causes significant levels of weight loss — the drink works by reducing sugar absorption from the gut and speeding up the rate at which fat is burned. In a four-week trial assessing Coffee Shape, the researchers found that those who drank one cup a day lost 3.5 pounds in two weeks, and 4.45 pounds in a month. That compares to drinkers of standard coffee, who on average lose just 0.3lb in two weeks compared to those who drink no coffee at all.

Laurent Fresnel, of ATP Life, makers of Coffee Shape, was quoted by the 'Daily Mail' as saying: "Green coffee is similar to green tea. In its raw, unroasted form, it is rich in plant molecules that speed metabolism and aid weight loss.

"These molecules of chlorogenic acid are strong antioxidants that appear to have other health benefits too. Unfortunately, they are destroyed in the roasting process, so are not found in high levels in regular coffee." The findings of this study have been published in the 'American Journal of Clinical Nutrition'

Friday, September 18, 2009


Flickr tops TIME's list of Best 50 Websites of 2009

The hottest thing on the Internet is not social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, but Flickr-the popular photo-sharing portal - and the proof is: it has topped TIME's list of the best 50 websites this year.

One of the noticeable trends in this year's list, which was released this week, was on-demand video services, like YouTube, Vimeo and US services Hulu and Netflix.

However, the top two in the list were related to photographs, with California Coastline following Flickr at the second spot.

Third in the list was bookmark website Delicious, while community weblog Metafilter stood at the fourth place.

Popurls, the mashup of the web's most visited social news sites and portals, grabbed the fifth spot in the list.

Twitter ranked sixth and Facebook came 31st in the list, while YouTube and Hulu came at 12th and 14th place in the list.

TIME's list of 50 Best Websites of 2009 is:.
1. Flickr
2. California Coastline
3. Delicious
4. Metafilter
5. Popurls
6. Twitter
7. Skype
8. Boing Boing
9. Academic Earth
10. OpenTable
11. Google
12. YouTube
13. WolframAlpha
14. Hulu
15. Vimeo
16. Fora TV
17. Craiglook
18. Shop Goodwill
19. Amazon
20. Kayak
21. Netflix
22. Etsy
24. Redfin
25. Wikipedia
26. Internet Archive
27. Kiva
28. ConsumerSearch
29. Metacritic
30. Pollster
31. Facebook
32. Pandora and
33. Musicovery
34. Spotify
35. Supercook
36. Yelp
37. Visuwords
38. CouchSurfing
39.'s NameVoyager
40. Mint
41. TripIt
42. Aardvark
44. Issuu
45. Photosynth
47. WorldWideTelescope
48. Fonolo
49. Get High Now
50. Know Your Meme


Essential oils from common spices like oregano, allspice and garlic can act as a natural barrier against bacteria like E-Coli, Salmonella and Oregano, garlic oils can prevent bacteria attack!
Oregano oil has been found to be the most effective antimicrobial, followed by allspice and garlic.
Researchers at Processed Foods Research and Produce Safety and Microbiology units of Western Regional Research Centre from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigated the effectiveness of the oils by incorporating them in thin, tomato-based antimicrobial coatings known as edible films.

In addition to its flavor properties, tomatoes are reported to possess numerous beneficial nutritional and bioactive components that may benefit human health.

Edible tomato films containing antimicrobials may protect food against contamination by pathogenic microorganisms.

The findings revealed that oregano oil consistently inhibited the growth of all three bacteria.

Although garlic oil was not effective against E. coli or Salmonella, but was effective against Listeria.

Vapor tests of oregano and allspice oils indicated that these two oils diffuse more efficiently through the air than through direct contact with the bacteria.

Listeria was less resistant to EO vapors while E. coli was more resistant.

“The results show that apple-based films with allspice, cinnamon or clove bud oils were effective against the three bacteria. The essential oils have the potential to provide multiple benefits to consumers,” said lead researcher R. J. Avena-Bustillos.

The study appears in Journal of Food Science

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Having a daily shower could be hazardous to your health, for a study says that it delivers a cloud of dangerous germs into your face and lungs.

Researchers at Colorado University have found that showerheads are breeding grounds for bacteria and when water is passed through them, they blast out the bugs, which could cause respiratory problems such as dry coughs. Lead researcher Norman Pace of said: "If you are getting a face full of water when you first turn your shower on, that means you are probably getting a particularly high load of Mycobacterium avium, which may not be too healthy. "There have been some precedents for concern regarding pathogens and shower heads. But until this study we did not know just how much concern."

For their study, the researchers tested some 45 shower heads and found 30 per cent contain high amounts of a pathogen that causes the lung infection mycobacterium avium.


Even in the "oldest old," a little physical activity goes a long way, extending life by at least a few years for people in their mid- to late 80s, Israeli researchers found.The three-year survival rate was about three times higher for active 85-yearolds compared with those who were inactive. Getting less than four hours of exercise weekly was inactive; more than that was active.
The results "clearly support the continued encouragement of physical activity, even among the oldest old. Indeed, it seems that it is never too late to start," the researchers wrote in the Archives of Internal Medicine, which published the study. They noted that exercise reaped benefits even for sedentary 85-year-olds; their three-year survival rate was double that of inactive 85-year-olds.

Oldsters didn't have to be super-athletes to live longer; walking at least four hours weekly counted, even if it a few times.


Facebook is making enough money to cover its costs and now has 300 million users, the world's largest social networking site said on Tuesday, proving the Internet's newest star industry can be a viable business.
Facebook is now generating enough cash to cover its operating expenses, as well as the capital spending needed to maintain its fast-growing service.
Analysts said this shows the financial viability of Facebook, which has faced questions about its underlying business model, despite its popularity, and was a good sign for a potential initial public offering.
"It's certainly meaningful to show that this is absolutely the real deal," said Broadpoint Amtech analyst Ben Schachter. "They are executing. People are spending money on the site."
Since its creation in a Harvard dorm room five years ago, Facebook has emerged as one of the Internet's most popular destinations and is increasingly challenging the Web's established powerhouses like Yahoo Inc and Google Inc.
Facebook unveiled a revamped search engine last month and is currently testing an online payment system. Facebook users have tripled from about 100 million a year ago.
Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on the company site on Tuesday that Facebook reached its goal of being free cash flow positive in its most recently ended quarter. The company had previously projected reaching the target sometime in 2010.
"This is important to us because it sets Facebook up to be a strong independent service for the long term," said Zuckerberg in the blog post.
Facebook spokesperson Larry Yu said the free cash flow metric does not include any cash from private investment.
In May, Facebook announced a $200 million investment from Russian investment firm Digital Sky Technologies in a deal that valued the company's preferred shares at $10 billion.
DST valued Facebook's common shares at $6.5 billion in a subsequent deal to purchase shares from Facebook employees.
Facebook's becoming cash flow positive ahead of schedule provides another nugget of data to back up the lofty valuations, and according to one analyst, makes Facebook a more attractive candidate for a potential public offering.
"They can command higher confidence from investors now," said Collins Stewart analyst Sandeep Aggarwal, who noted that he believes Facebook could go public in the second half of 2010, or in 2011.
Zuckerberg said in May that any IPO is "a few years out."
Facebook did not provide any other financial details on Tuesday. The company has previously said its revenue was on track to grow 70 percent this year.
Facebook board member Mark Andreesen told Reuters earlier this year that the company will surpass $500 million in revenue this year.
Zuckerberg said in his post that the company is exploring ways to make the service perform faster and more efficiently as the number of Facebook users continues to grow.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A Russian expert on Thursday claimed that an antidote to counter the swine flu virus was developed in Russia some 15 years back under the secret programme for protection against biological warfare.
Mr Oleg Chupakhin of Yekaterinburg-based Institute of Organic Synthesis on Thursday told a Russian TV channel that an antidote 'Triazaverin' developed under the secret programme for protection against biological warfare can destroy the (H1N1) virus at any stage of disease, including in the later stages.
"Fifteen years ago Triazaverin was found effective against all known flu virus and was classified. In recent years after the outbreak of bird flu and now swine flu, the project has been revived," Mr Oleg Chupakhin claimed.

Who says you can't buy friends? An Australian online marketing company is selling friends and fans to Facebook members after offering a similar service to Twitter users.
Advertising, marketing and promoting company uSocial ( said it was targeting social networking sites because of their huge advertising potential.
"Facebook is an extremely effective marketing tool," Leon Hill, uSocial CEO, said in a statement.
"The simple fact is that with a large following on Facebook, you have an instant and targeted group of people you can contact and promote whatever it is you want to promote," he added.
"The only problem is that it can be extremely difficult to achieve such a following, which is where we come in.
The company offers packages for Facebook, the world's number one social networking site, that start at 1,000 friends up to 10,000 friends at costs ranging from $177 to $1,167.
"All we do send them a welcome message or friend request from the client. If they decide to go ahead and add that person as a friend or a fan then they will; if not, then they won't," Hill told Australian media.
Facebook is now the world's fourth-most visited website.
The company, which counts venture capitalist Peter Thiel, Accel Partners, Microsoft Corp and Russian Internet investment firm Digital Sky Technologies among its investors, has more than 250 million registered users.
But uSocial's packages are not without controversy.
According to some Australian websites, Twitter tried to shut uSocial down, accusing it of spamming members, while the Los Angeles Times reported that, a website where people vote for their top news stories or websites, has also tried to shut down uSocial because it sells votes.

It will not only add life to your years, but a brisk walk a day can also add years to your life, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Medical Centres in Washington and Palo Alto in California have carried out the study and found that brisk walking for 20 to 40 minutes daily can halve the chance of dying for elderly men.
"The overall message is that although ageing and death are inevitable, the rate for both can be modulated by simply maintaining a physically active lifestyle at any age," said lead researcher Peter Kokkinos. For their study, the researchers compared death rates in men aged between 70 and 92 who were sedentary compared with those of varying levels of fitness.
They found that for every two minutes of exercise, the mortality rate dropped by ten per cent, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported. In fact, in the study, involving more than 3,000 men aged between 70 and 92, the researchers took medical history along with body weight and smoking history of the subjects in to consideration and then they were followed up for an average of six years with any deaths recorded during that time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Everyone from brides and grooms to movie studio execs are celebrating the upcoming calendrical anomaly in their own way.

In Florida, at least one county clerk's office is offering a one-day wedding special for $99.99.

The rarity of this Sept. 9 hasn't been lost on the creators of the iPod, who have moved their traditional Tuesday release day to Wednesday to take advantage of the special date.

Focus Features is releasing their new film "9," an animated tale about the apocalypse, on the 9th.
Not only does the date look good in marketing promotions, but it also represents the last set of repeating, single-digit dates that we'll see for almost a century (until January 1, 2101), or a millennium (mark your calendars for January 1, 3001), depending on how you want to count it.

Though technically there's nothing special about the symmetrical date, some concerned with the history and meaning of numbers ascribe powerful significance to 09/09/09.

For cultures in which the number nine is lucky, Sept. 9 is anticipated - while others might see the date as an ominous warning.

Modern numerologists - who operate outside the realm of real science - believe that mystical significance or vibrations can be assigned to each numeral one through nine, and different combinations of the digits produce tangible results in life depending on their application.
As the final numeral, the number nine holds special rank. It is associated with forgiveness, compassion and success on the positive side as well as arrogance and self-righteousness on the negative, according to numerologists.
Though usually discredited as bogus, numerologists do have a famous predecessor to look to. Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and father of the famous theorem, is also credited with popularizing numerology in ancient times.
"Pythagoras most of all seems to have honored and advanced the study concerned with numbers, having taken it away from the use of merchants and likening all things to numbers," wrote Aristoxenus, an ancient Greek historian, in the 4th century B.C.
As part of his obsession with numbers both mathematically and divine, and like many mathematicians before and since, Pythagoras noted that nine in particular had many unique properties.

Any grade-schooler could tell you, for example, that the sum of the two-digits resulting from nine multiplied by any other single-digit number will equal nine. So 9x3=27, and 2+7=9.
Multiply nine by any two, three or four-digit number and the sums of those will also break down to nine. For example: 9x62 = 558; 5+5+8=18; 1+8=9.

Sept. 9 also happens to be the 252nd day of the year (2 + 5 +2)...

Loving 9
Both China and Japan have strong feelings about the number nine. Those feelings just happen to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.
The Chinese pulled out all the stops to celebrate their lucky number eight during last year's Summer Olympics, ringing the games in at 8 p.m. on 08/08/08. What many might not realize is that nine comes in second on their list of auspicious digits and is associated with long life, due to how similar its pronunciation is to the local word for long-lasting (eight sounds like wealth).
Historically, ancient Chinese emperors associated themselves closely with the number nine, which appeared prominently in architecture and royal dress, often in the form of nine fearsome dragons. The imperial dynasties were so convinced of the power of the number nine that the palace complex at Beijing's Forbidden City is rumored to have been built with 9,999 rooms.
Japanese emperors would have never worn a robe with nine dragons, however.
In Japanese, the word for nine is a homophone for the word for suffering, so the number is considered highly unlucky - second only to four, which sounds like death.
Many Japanese will go so far as to avoid room numbers including nine at hotels or hospitals, if the building planners haven't already eliminated them altogether.

The Most Popular Myths

In Science Review: Animated "9" Destined to Be Next Great Cult Film.

World to End in 2012. A Hoax Gone Too Far?


The Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in India has taken the first step towards building up of an astro-medico preventive diagnosis alarm by setting up an astrological and Ayurvedic data base of 40 patients. A team of eight astrologers and Ayurveda experts have compiled the data which will serve as an alarm for prospective ailments.
According to Prof Yamini Bhushan Tripathi, who heads the department of medicinal chemistry, "The astrological and medical details of 40 persons have been compiled under the project and we are keen to add another 150 people to the database."
According to BHU experts, the stress is on preventive astro-medical alarm against metabolic disorder syndrome which can prevent lifestyle disorders like diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
"Through a close study of one's horoscope, we can foresee illness and adverse health and a person's medical history can easily check out the problem areas. By combining the two sciences, it becomes easy to predict the kind of ailment that is likely to confront a person in the ear future," says an expert.
The project which has been designed by the department of astrology and department of medicinal chemistry, underlines the need for developing fullfledged software, combining the essential aspects of astrology and medicinal chemistry. A further study on the curative properties of plants, representing the nine planets, on the immune system is also on the cards.
As per Hindu mythology, every organ of the body is governed by one of the nine planets - which can have positive or negative effects.The faculty of Sanskrit and Vidya Dharma Vigyan of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has already carried out a study on how the movement of planets had an effect on the body.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009



The 'Internet' turned 40 today. It may sound strange, but today it is quite impossible to think of world without the 'World Wide Web'.

On Sept 2, 1969, around about 20 people gathered in a lab at the University of California, Los Angeles and two bulky computers were used to pass test data through a 15-foot gray cable. That was the beginning of the Internet. Now, 40 years later, we take a look at the Internet timeline.

1969: On September 2, two computers at University of California, Los Angeles, exchange meaningless data in first test of Arpanet, an experimental military network. The first connection between two sites UCLA and the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California takes place on October 29, though the network crashes after the first two letters of the word "logon." UC Santa Barbara and University of Utah later join.

1970: Arpanet gets first East Coast node, at Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, Mass.

1972: Ray Tomlinson brings e-mail to the network, choosing "at" symbol as way to specify e-mail addresses belonging to other systems.

1973: Arpanet gets first international nodes, in England and Norway.

1974: Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn develop communications technique called TCP, allowing multiple networks to understand one another, creating a true Internet. Concept later splits into TCP/IP before formal adoption on January 1, 1983.

1983: Domain name system is proposed. Creation of suffixes such as ".com," ''.gov" and ".edu" comes a year later.

1988: One of the first Internet worms, Morris, cripples thousands of computers.

1989: Quantum Computer Services, now AOL, introduces America Online service for Macintosh and Apple II computers, beginning an expansion that would connect nearly 27 million Americans online by 2002.

1990: Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web while developing ways to control computers remotely at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

1993: Marc Andreessen and colleagues at University of Illinois create Mosaic, the first Web browser to combine graphics and text on a single page, opening the Web to the world with software that is easy to use.

1994: Andreessen and others on the Mosaic team form a company to develop the first commercial Web browser, Netscape, piquing the interest of Microsoft Corp. and other developers who would tap the Web's commerce potential. Two immigration lawyers introduce the world to spam, advertising their green card lottery services.

1995: Inc. opens its virtual doors.

1996: Passage of US law curbing pornography online. Although key provisions are later struck down as unconstitutional, one that remains protects online services from liability for their users' conduct, allowing information and misinformation to thrive.

1998: Google Inc. forms out of a project that began in Stanford dorm rooms. US government delegates oversight of domain name policies to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Justice Department and 20 states sue Microsoft, accusing the maker of the ubiquitous Windows operating system of abusing its market power to thwart competition from Netscape and others.

1999: Napster popularizes music file-sharing and spawns successors that have permanently changed the recording industry. World Internet population surpasses 250 million.

2000: The dot-com boom of the 1990s becomes a bust as technology companies slide., eBay and other sites are crippled in one of the first widespread uses of the denial-of-service attack, which floods a site with so much bogus traffic that legitimate users cannot visit.

2002: World Internet population surpasses 500 million.

2006: World Internet population surpasses 1 billion.

2008: World Internet population surpasses 1.5 billion. China's Internet population reaches 250 million, surpassing the United States as the world's largest. Netscape's developers pull the plug on the pioneer browser, though an offshoot, Firefox, remains strong. Major airlines intensify deployment of Internet service on flights.


Norway's Opera Software released on Tuesday a new version of its browser, Opera 10, promising faster downloads, new design and new features.

Opera battles for the spot of third-largest browser maker with Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari, but is far behind Microsoft and Mozilla Foundation.

Opera said the new browser is significantly faster on resource-intensive pages such as Gmail and Facebook, and adds features like full thumbnails of all open tabs.

Opera said its Turbo feature for slow connections, which packages web pages, makes the browser up to eight times faster than rival browsers in low connection speeds.

"We have worked a lot on Opera Turbo technology and have also made major improvements on the overall product stability. This is the most stable Opera browser yet," the company said.

The companies usually release several successive test versions of their browsers so they can incorporate user feedback in a series of improvements before their final launch. Microsoft launched its latest IE8 browser in March after a year of public beta testing.

Opera unveiled a public test version of the browser on June 3.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is used for about 60 per cent of global Internet traffic, and Mozilla's Firefox has about 30 per cent, with usage of Opera, Google and Apple all around 3 per cent each, according to Web analytics firm StatCounter.

Opera has a small share of the global desktop browser market, but its browser is the most popular in countries like Russia or Ukraine, and its mobile browser is the most widely used browser on handsets.