Friday, October 30, 2009

The non-profit body that oversees Internet addresses has approved the use of Hebrew, Hindi, Korean and other scripts not based on the Latin alphabet in a decision that could make the Web dramatically more inclusive.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or ICANN voted on Friday to allow such scripts in so-called domain names at a meeting in South Korea's capital.

The decision was widely expected and follows years of debate and testing. It clears the way for governments or their designees to submit requests for specific names, likely beginning November.

Internet users could start seeing them in use early next year, particularly in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts in which demand has been among the highest, ICANN officials say.


A website asking people to give information on a mysterious man that thousands of people across the globe claim to have seen in dreams has become an instant hit.

The site,, says that a woman first drew the face of the mystery man during a session with her psychiatrist three years ago, after he repeatedly appeared in her dreams, reports the Sun.

The site also claims that the woman confessed to have never seen or met the man.

When another patient saw the sketch on the psychiatrist's desk, he also claimed to have dreamt of the man.

When the doctor sent the picture to his colleagues, some of their patients too recognized the man.

And now the picture that was posted on the Internet just two weeks ago has become a phenomenon - the traffic on has suddenly skyrocketed.

Although, thousands of people around the world claimed to have seen the face in their dreams, critics have dubbed it as a complete hoax.

The year 2010 will see your beloved pooches teaching you yoga, thanks to a new Yoga Dogs Calendar. Texan couple Dan and Alejandra Borris has come up with the 2010 calendar, which features dogs in various yoga positions.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


The Internet is set to undergo one of the biggest changes in its four-decade history with the expected approval this week of international domain names — or addresses — that can be written in languages other than English, an official said on Monday.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — the non-profit group that oversees domain names — is holding a meeting this week in Seoul. Domain names are the monikers behind every website, e-mail address and Twitter post, such as ".com" and other suffixes.

One of the key issues to be taken up by ICANN's board at this week's gathering is whether to allow for the first time entire internet addresses to be in scripts that are not based on Latin letters.

That could potentially open up the web to more people around the world as addresses could be in characters as diverse as Arabic, Korean, Japanese, Greek, Hindi and Cyrillic — in which Russian is written.

"This is the biggest change technically to the internet since it was invented 40 years ago," Mr Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of the ICANN board, told reporters, calling it a "fantastically complicated technical feature."

He said he expects the board to grant approval on Friday, the conference's final day.

The internet's roots are traced to experiments at a US university in 1969 but it wasn't until the early 1990s that its use began expanding beyond academia and research institutions to the public.


Kiwi fruit has been labeled as the best source of vitamin C, which can have wonderful health benefits, according to an expert.

Professor Robin Fraser, of Otago University’s Christchurch School of Medicine, has said that the furry fruit could be the key to living longer as it appears to be the perfect food for preventing all sorts of liver problems, as well as keeping white blood cells health.

Fraser, who has seen many unhealthy livers in his time as a pathologist, is a convert to the benefits of the fruit.

"It just seems as though it works. I’m so convinced that I eat kiwifruit every morning for my breakfast," quoted him as saying.

Fraser compared the liver to a sieve that when working properly effectively filtered the carrier of cholesterol.

But, he said, those holes could be closed because of excess drinking, an overly fatty diet, smoking, illicit drug use and stress, which could lead to atherosclerosis— a major killer through heart failure, strokes, gangrenous feet and aortic aneurism.

But he pointed out that a daily dose of kiwifruit, along with a healthier lifestyle, appeared to be able to reopen those holes in the liver which, in his opinion was an exciting development.

He said kiwifruit was the most efficient way of getting the recommended dose of vitamin C, the active ingredient that appeared to fix the liver.

Dr Margreet Vissers, the dean of research at Otago University in Christchurch, said that vitamin C was also needed by white blood cells to kill bacteria and ensured they did not kill off everything else in the process.

Fraser presented his findings at the annual scientific meeting of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia in Christchurch.


Cheeseburgers and fries might look tempting, but eating some broccoli or leafy greens first could help people battle obesity and heart disease, says a new study.
Eating more plant-based foods, which are rich in substances called phytochemicals, seems to prevent oxidative stress in the body, a process associated with obesity and the onset of heart disease, according to the study.
To get enough of these protective chemicals, researchers suggest eating plant-based foods such as leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes at the start of a meal. Oxidative stress occurs when the body produces too many damaging free radicals and lacks enough anti-oxidants or phytochemicals to counteract them.
Because of excess fat tissue and certain enzymes that are more active in overweight people, being obese can actually trigger the production of more free radicals, too. Using a phytochemical index, which compares calories consumed from plant-based foods with the overall number of daily calories, could remind people to get enough phyto-chemicals during meals and snacks, said Heather K. Vincent, University of Florida (UF), who led the study.
"We need to find a way to encourage people to pull back on fat and eat more foods rich in micronutrients and trace minerals from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and soy," said Vincent.
"Fill your plate with colourful, low-calorie, varied-texture foods derived from plants first. By slowly eating phytochemical-rich foods such as salads with olive oil or fresh-cut fruits before the actual meal, you are likely to reduce the overall portion size, fat content and energy intake."
"In this way, you're ensuring that you get the variety of protective, disease-fighting phytochemicals you need and controlling caloric intake," added Vincent. These findings were published online in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.


Amid stepped up efforts to curb global warming, a recent research has revealed that average temperatures have not increased for over a decade.

Average temperatures have not increased for over a decade and the warmest year recorded globally was not in 2008 or 2007, but in 1998, according to a research published by the Royal Society.

For the last 11 years we have not observed any increase in global temperatures and our climate models did not forecast it, even though man-made carbon dioxide, the gas thought to be responsible for warming our planet, has continued to rise, it said.

Climate change skeptics argue that there are natural cycles, over which we have no control, that dictate how warm the planet is. But what is the evidence for this?

During the last few decades of the 20th Century, our planet did warm quickly but a the research has ruled out solar influences on increase in temperature, a BBC report said.

"Warming in the last 20 to 40 years can't have been caused by solar activity," said Dr Piers Forster from Leeds University, a leading contributor to this year's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The scientists' main approach was simple: to look at solar output and cosmic ray intensity over the last 30-40 years, and compare those trends with the graph for global average surface temperature.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Citizens in our city wage war on CO2
In our city The Students' Sea Turtle Conservation Network will make a giant sand sculpture of a sea turtle at Beach from 3.30pm. Students from Anna University will conduct rock concerts, street plays and dance shows at Beach. The Chennai Mallakhamb Association will create a Mallakhamb pyramid at Enchanting Elves, at 11.30 am International Day of Climate Action, which is observed on October 24, will witness people from all over the city doing their bit for the planet in out-of-the box, innovative and amusing ways

With environmental awareness becoming a buzzword today, young Chennaiites are ensuring that they aren't left behind in doing their bit for the city and the planet. On the occasion of International Day of Climate Action, which is being observed on October 24, the citizens are not limiting themselves to the usual rallies and lectures but opting for interactive events like a Mallakhamb pyramid, a rock show, street plays and more.
Joining the international initiative, their aim is to help reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere -- from the alarming 390 ppm (parts per million) as of now to the acceptable 350 ppm i. e.the safe limit.
A human chain will also be formed in the shape of 350 around the sculpture.



Amid growing concern over global warming, scientists have come up with a unique scheme to cool the earth with the help of a geoengineering method that would increase cloud reflectivity over the ocean.
Under the scheme, the scientists would increase cloud reflectivity over the ocean by spraying them with an ultra-fine saltwater mist from ships, a report published in journal Scientific American said.
"The clouds, containing more particles, would cast enough sunlight back into space to at least partially offset the warming effects of all that CO2 from burning fossil fuels," the researchers said.
They added, "After all, clouds already reflect more of the sun's radiation back into space than the amount trapped by human emissions of carbon dioxide. So why not make them even more effective".
Stephen Salter, an emeritus professor of engineering design at the University of Edinburgh, who is leading the research, said "marine cloud brightening could be done by populating the world's oceans with up to 1,500 ships of a somewhat exotic design--sometimes known as albedo yachts".
"Furthermore, each vessel would be remote-controlled, wind-powered, and capable of generating (via turbines dragged through the water) the electricity required to create a mist of seawater and loft it 1,000 metres high into the atmosphere," he added.
Geoengineering schemes fall into two categories, corresponding to the two knobs you might imagine twiddling to adjust the earth's temperature.
One knob controls how much sunlight--or solar energy, to be more precise--reaches the planet's surface; the other controls how much heat escapes back into space, which depends on how much CO2 is in the atmosphere.

Schemes for removing CO2 from the atmosphere, say,by fertilizing the oceans with iron, would strike closer to the root of the problem.
But they would inevitably take decades to have much of an effect.


At five years of age, Romanian bodybuilding lad Giuliano Stroe has landed himself in record books after leaving Guinness judges stunned with his incredible stunts.
The muscle boy lives with his family in Italy where he has been training since the age of two. Earlier this year he managed to get into the Guinness Book of Records after performing a jaw-dropping handstand stunt on an Italian TV show.
In fact, the strong lad preformed the fastest ever 10m-handwalk with a weight ball between his legs in front of an astonished audience. And Giuliano has now become an Internet hit after millions of Internet users watched a clip of him performing the stunt on YouTube.
"He has been going to the gym with me ever since he was born. I always took him with me when I went training," The Sun quoted Giuliano''s dad Iulian Stroe, 33, as saying. But he added there is no danger of the youngster harming himself, saying: "I have been training hard all my life myself. He is never allowed to practice on his own, he is only a child and if he gets tired we go and play."
Giuliano, the oldest of four children, says his stardom has not gone to his head and he still enjoys normal kids stuff like painting, watching cartoons and playing in the park when he is not weightlifting. However, he likes getting filmed and when people applaud it makes him happy.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Clad in two white gloves and a black hat, the young boy talked to host Ellen DeGeneres before he danced for the audience.
The boy was unresponsive when Ellen told him "it's nice to meet you," but went on to explain the kind of dancing he does. Watch


Researchers in the United States have found another good reason to go to the local espresso bar: several cups of coffee a day could halt the progression of liver disease, a study showed.
Sufferers of chronic hepatitis C and advanced liver disease who drank three or more cups of coffee per day slashed their risk of the disease progressing by 53 percent compared to patients who drank no coffee, the study led by Neal Freedman of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) showed.
"We observed an inverse association between coffee intake and liver disease progression," meaning patients who drank three or more cups of java were less likely to see their liver disease worsen than nondrinkers, wrote the authors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Hepatology.

Microsoft Corp launched Windows 7 on Thursday in its most important release for more than a decade, aiming to win back customers after the disappointing Vista and strengthen its grip on the PC market.
The world's largest software company, which powers more than 90 per cent of personal computers, has received good reviews for the new operating system, which it hopes will grab back the impetus in new technology from rivals Apple Inc and Google Inc.


Scientists have created a revolutionary once-a-day jab that can fight obesity.
Liraglutide not only controls the symptoms of diabetes but also leads to significant weight loss. Earlier this year, the super drug was given the go-ahead by European regulators. And now, latest tests have shown it to be significantly more effective than fat pills.
In study trials, the jab has shown promise in helping people lose weight by increasing the “full” feeling after eating and by slowing the speed, at which their stomach empties, reports The Daily Express.
What’s more, it lowers blood pressure, a major factor in the development of heart disease. In the study by Professor Arne Astrup, of the University of Copenhagen, published in The Lancet, high doses of liraglutide were found to lead to greater weight loss than the prescription-only drug or listat.

The authors said: “The results indicate the potential benefit of liraglutide, in conjunction with an energy-deficit diet, in the treatment of obesity.”

Obesity expert Professor Steve Bloom, of Imperial College London, said: “At last science is providing treatments that work in obesity. As we all are dying earlier from our excessive fat, this is a breakthrough.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The ASPCA will be handing out 10 Humane Awards on October 29, reports USA Today. Among the recipients are law-enforcement agents involved in the largest dog-fighting raid ever; a couple whose ranch is now a sanctuary to about 70 animals; and, of course, Nora the Piano-Playing Cat, the ASPCA's 2009 Cat of the Year.

Wait, what? The mewing musician isn't being rewarded for her mad musical skills (although she's better at tickling the ivories than some of us here at Paw Nation), but for the way she's raised the profile of shelter pets. You see, shelter pets aren't just sad, furry faces waiting to be rescued. They're animals with lovable personalities and talents, and Nora is proof. You just never know who's going to steal your heart (and maybe the spotlight) at your local shelter or rescue!

Check out the ASPCA Website for a full list of 2009 Humane Award winners.


Here's yet another reason why you should go for a low-calorie diet -- high-protein meals can shrink your brain and cause Alzheimer's, says a new study.
An international team has carried out the study and found that a high protein diet can led to a smaller brain and may trigger the onset of dementia, the latest edition of the 'Molecular Neurodegeneration' journal reported. Researchers have based their findings on an analysis of mice which were specially bred to develop Alzheimer's. They were fed a regular diet, a high fat-low carb diet, a high protein-low carb version or a high carb-low fat option.
The researchers then looked at the brain and body weight of the mice, as well as plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer's. They were surprised by the smaller brains of those given the high protein-low carb diet. Mice on a high fat diet had raised levels of plaque proteins, but this had no effect on them, the findings showed.


A group of Indians has drawn up a $20 million plan to build a replica of the Taj Mahal in New Zealand. The miniature version of the monument to love is planned to be built at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre in the Auckland suburb of Eden Tce.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Having three meals everyday keeps us warm and protects us from any kind of fungal attack, a new study suggests.

The research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Yeshiva University has revealed that just because humans and other mammals eat a lot, they are protected from the majority of fungal pathogens.

The research, showed that the elevated body temperature of mammals - the familiar 98.6o F or 37o C in people - is too high for the vast majority of potential fungal invaders to survive.

"Fungal strains undergo a major loss of ability to grow as we move to mammalian temperatures," said Dr Arturo Casadevall, chair and professor of microbiology and immunology at Einstein.

"Our study makes the argument that our warm temperatures may have evolved to protect us against fungal diseases. And being warm-blooded and therefore largely resistant to fungal infections may help explain the dominance of mammals after the age of dinosaurs," he added.

Fungal infections in people are often the result of an impaired immune function.

The study has been published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.


Global warming will leave the Arctic Ocean ice-free during the summer within 20 years, raising sea levels and harming wildlife such as seals and polar bears, a leading British polar scientist said on Thursday.
Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge, said much of the melting will take place within a decade, although the winter ice will stay for hundreds of years.
The changes will mean the top of the Earth will appear blue rather than white when photographed from space and ships will have a new sea route north of Russia.
Scientists say evidence of melting Arctic ice is one of the clearest signs of global warming and it should send a warning to world leaders meeting in Copenhagen in December for UN talks on a new climate treaty.
"The data supports the new consensus view -based on seasonal variation of ice extent and thickness, changes in temperatures, winds and especially ice composition -- that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within about 20 years," Wadhams said in a statement. "Much of the decrease will be happening within 10 years."
Wadhams, one of the world's leading experts on sea ice cover in the North Pole region, compared ice thickness measurements taken by a Royal Navy submarine in 2007 with evidence gathered by the British explorer Pen Hadow earlier this year.

Hadow and his team on the Catlin Arctic Survey drilled 1,500 holes to gather evidence during a 280-mile walk across the Arctic. They found the average thickness of ice-floes was 1.8 metres, a depth considered too thin to survive the summer's ice melt. Sometimes referred to as the Earth's air-conditioner, the Arctic Sea plays a vital role in the world's climate. As Arctic ice melts in summer, it exposes the darker-coloured ocean water, which absorbs sunlight instead of reflecting it, accelerating the effect of global warming.
Dr Martin Sommerkorn, from WWF's Arctic program said the predicted loss of ice could have widereaching effects around the world. The changes will mean the top of the Earth will appear blue rather than white when seen from space and ships will have a new sea route north off Russia.


Watch the exclusive trailer of the most awaited Hollywood film of the year ‘Avatar’. The film is directed by James Cameron and the cast includes Michelle Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver.

Thursday, October 15, 2009



Thanks to a wildly successful (and highly unorthodox) marketing campaign and near universal acclaim, horror flick 'Paranormal Activity' is probably the hottest ticket in your town. The low-budget film -- it cost a mere $11,000 for a seven-day shoot -- was first released only in college towns, then slowly rolled out to additional markets based on an online audience demand campaign. Last weekend 'Paranormal' took in an astounding $49,379 per screen, earning $7.9 million for the weekend (compare that with the massively marketed 'Couples Retreat,' which cost Universal $60 million to make and earned $34.3 mil on 3,000 screens, making a less impressive $11,429 per screen).

Based on the success so far, Paramount has decided to take 'Paranormal' nationwide this weekend. So, should you believe the hype? Well, it's been haunting me ever since I saw it a week ago -- I'm still sleeping with all the lights on (and forcing my poor husband to escort me into the basement to do laundry), so I'm going to have to answer that question with a big YES. This is the rare scary movie that actually gets under your skin, and stays there long after the theater lights come up. And it's quite simply the most effective haunted-house movie I've ever seen.

The film follows a young couple (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat) who set up a video camera in their bedroom to capture events they believe to be otherworldly. What unfolds after that is chilling, thrilling and just downright creepy. You see just enough of the couple's mundane daily activities -- brushing teeth, reading, eating -- that you forget at times that it's scripted and, by the end of the movie, you're convinced this couple really is documenting a true-life haunting.

Unlike today's major horror franchises, the real element of fear here is inspired not by flesh-and-bone bad guys, monsters or threat of bodily harm -- it's the fear of the unknown, the unseen. It's the things that go bump late at night while you clutch your partner in bed or bolt upright from a dead sleep because you're convinced there's a shadowy figure standing at the foot of your bed. Some of the moments in the film that elicit the loudest screams in the theater are the quietest on screen.

But don't take my word for it. Sure, I may be just be a scaredy cat (well, yes, I am, actually). But critics and moviegoers share my enthusiasm for 'Paranormal Activity.' Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly called it "freaky and terrifying," while Betsy Sharkey of the L.A. Times wrote, "There will be a very tight coil of anxiety buried deep in your gut that is very hard to get rid of." And -- now this may be the real shocker here -- critics and fans seem to be in agreement on this flick. Read on to discover what some of the Moviefone readers who've seen the movie have to say.

"For those who haven't seen the film, I can assure you that you have no idea what's in store. I am not easily frightened, and I have never been scared by a movie to the point of not being able to sleep ... After watching 'Paranormal Activity' I did not fall asleep until 5am. In my opinion, it was THAT scary. I am still a bit shaken, and I left the theater practically in tears. It is worth going to see -- trust me, you will not be disappointed!" -- Ashley

"I am a film major and a true horror film enthusiast, and nothing has left me tossing and turning in bed like this film did. The film has you on the edge of your seat and biting your nails the whole time. People next to me had their eyes shut half the time, and I witnessed an audience viewer yell out, 'You're on your own! This s*** is crazy!' before he left the theater halfway through the film. Truly a fun experience if you love a thrill." -- Mary

"I'm a pretty tough and manly guy, but watching this movie was one of the scariest experiences of my life. I was glad that people were around me when the movie ended because I needed to feel safe! I was 'that guy' who screamed like a little girl and then started cussing at the movie to try and regain my manhood. Definitely a must-see movie!" -- Brett

"No joke, scariest movie I have ever seen. Ran from car to my front door and slept with all the lights on. You will love it ... You will remember it every time you hear a noise you can't explain." -- Aricela

"I went and saw the movie last night in Seattle, Wash. I'm 33 years old and have seen every new and old horror movie made, and this movie by far was the scariest thing I ever seen. My hubby doesn't believe in ghosts, but even he couldn't fall asleep last night, and today I am still terrified. Best scary movie by far. My favorite was 'The Exorcist' until now." -- Brandi

"I went to go see this movie with some friends ... one of the girls seriously didn't sleep for a week after watching this movie." -- Juan

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An online database will now allow mobile phone users to see how much radiation they may be exposed to because of their cells.
According to a report carried out in, the database, created by the Environmental Working Group in Washington, ranks more than 1000 mobiles by the amount of radiation they emit.
In terms of handsets currently on the market, manufacturer Samsung came out on top with five phones in the list of 10 lowest emitters.
However it appears the specific handset model is more important than the brand when it comes to radiation. Motorola’s RAZR V8 was ranked second in the list of lowest emitters – but there were also five Motorola phones at the other end of the scale.
Similarly, the BlackBerry Storm 9530 was ranked 12th in the list of lowest emitters, but the BlackBerry Bold 9000 and two BlackBerry Curve models were among the highest.
The handsets were ranked on a measurement called the specific absorption rate, or SAR, that gauges how much energy a person absorbs while using or wearing a phone. A handset’s SAR is expressed in watts per kilogram (W/kg).
The highest-emitting phone on the market, the Motorola MOTO VU204, had a SAR value of 1.55 W/kg. The lowest, the Samsung Impression, had a value of between 0.15 and 0.35 W/kg. The top SAR value allowed in Australia is 2 W/kg.
The Environmental Working Group said that it created the database after recent studies linked using mobile phones for more than a decade with health risks including brain tumors. “Recent research has prompted serious concerns about exposure to wireless emissions,” it said.
“We at Environmental Working Group are still using our cell phones, but we also believe that until scientists know much more about cell phone radiation, it’s smart for consumers to buy phones with the lowest emissions,” it added.


A video of a missile fired by Iran has amazingly captured a UFO flying across the sky, splitting a cloud in two.

The clip was originally intended to capture the controversial launch of the Shahab-3 rocket.

As the rocket soars into the sky, after almost 38 seconds a close cloud is surprisingly torn in two by a flying object travelling at speed.

Former UFO analyst for the Ministry of Defense Nick Pope believes that nothing man-made could rip through the cloud in that fashion.

"One theory is that it's a secret American drone. At any time there are prototype aircraft and drones being operated that won't be shown in public for years," the Sun quoted him as saying.

Stealth aircraft flew for many years before their existence was acknowledged.

"But the speed and acceleration seems phenomenal. I'm not convinced we've got anything capable of such manoeuvres," he added.


Children should not watch television until they turn two because it can hurt their language development and ability to concentrate, according to new guidelines for Australians.
The government recommendations, expected to be released next week, also say that children aged two to five should watch no more than an hour of television a day, the Australian reported. The draft guidelines, which have been designed for childcare centers but also offer advice for parents, are intended to help curb the spread of the obesity epidemic which has left Australian children heavier than ever. "It is recommended that children younger than two years of age should not spend any time watching television," they say.

Friday, October 9, 2009

US President Barack Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples", it was announced in Oslo on Friday.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

"Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play," the committee said on its website.

"Only very rarely has a person, to the same extent as Obama, captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population," the committee said.

After 3,000 years, the secrets of acupuncture have been unlocked by researchers.

Morry Silberstein, professor at Australia's Curtin University of Technology (CUT), has developed a new theory that explains, for the first time, the scientific reasons why acupuncture works.

"We have never really had a scientific explanation for how acupuncture actually works," he said. "If we can explain the process scientifically, we can open it to full scientific scrutiny and develop ways to use it as a part of medical treatments."

His research suggests that the insertion of an acupuncture needle into the skin disrupts the branching point of nerves called C-fibres, which transmit low-grade sensory information over very long distances.

"We have known for some time that acupuncture points have a much lower electrical resistance than nearby areas of skin," Silberstein said. "It is possible that this is because C-fibre nerves branch at acupuncture points."

Scientists do not know exactly what role C-fibres play in the nervous system; however, Silberstein has a theory.

"This network of nerves possibly exists to maintain our state of arousal or wakefulness, and its disruption by an acupuncture needle numbs our general sensitivity to pain," he said.

"It may provide us with new methods of treating sleep problems, pain and high blood pressure," he said, besides furthering our understanding of the autonomic nervous system.

These findings are slated for publication in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

Anti-oxidants, popularly touted for health promoting benefits, could also bring on early onset of type-2 diabetes, says a new study.

A team of scientists, led by Tony Tiganis, molecular biology professor from the Monash University, has found that molecules known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) may play a protective role in the early stages of type-2 diabetes by enhancing insulin action. Anti-oxidants prevent the beneficial effects of ROS.

The team showed that when ROS levels were elevated in muscles of genetically-modified mice, they could prevent the onset of insulin resistance and diabetes that is induced by a high-fat diet.

However, when these animals received anti-oxidants, which 'mop up' ROS, the improved insulin response was lost and the mice became more 'diabetic'.

The findings challenge the widely-held view that ROS are always harmful and that anti-oxidants are always beneficial, according to a Monash release.

"ROS molecules, such as hydrogen peroxide, are important for normal cell function. We have shown that ROS present in muscle enhance insulin action and help lower blood sugar levels," Tiganis said.

"However, our studies do not negate the role of ROS in late-stage disease. There's a 'yin and yang' relationship that takes place, wherein ROS are beneficial in the early stages of type-2 diabetes and shift to being harmful at later stages of the disease. We are now trying to find out when ROS make the switch from being 'good' to 'bad'.

"Although we need to undertake further studies in humans, our results indicate that the widespread use of anti-oxidants by the general public as a preventative measure is something that should be discouraged, particularly if you are otherwise healthy," Tiganis said.

"Eat healthy and exercise as this is a natural source of ROS that promotes insulin action."

These findings were published in Cell Metabolism.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Norway takes the number one spot in the annual United Nations human development index released Monday but China has made the biggest strides in improving the well-being of its citizens.

The index compiled by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) ranks 182 countries based on such criteria as life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Norway, Australia and Iceland took the first three spots while Niger ranks at the very bottom, just below Afghanistan.

China moved up seven places on the list to rank as the 92nd most developed country due to improvements in education as well as income levels and life expectancy.

Colombia and Peru raised five spaces to rank 77th and 78th while France -- which was not part of the top 10 last year -- returns to the upper echelons by moving up three places to number 8.

The UNDP said the index highlights the grave disparities between rich and poor countries.

A child born in Niger can expect to live to just over 50, which is 30 years less than a child born in Norway. For every dollar a person earns in Niger, 85 dollars are earned in Norway.

This year's index was based on data from 2007 and does not take into account the impact of the global economic crisis.

"Many countries have experienced setbacks over recent decades, in the face of economic downturns, conflict-related crises and the HIV and AIDS epidemic," said the UN development report's author Jeni Klugman.

"And this was even before the impact of the current global financial crisis was felt."

Afghanistan, which returns to the list for the first time since 1996, is the only Asian country among the bottom ten which also include Sierra Leone in the 180th spot, just below the Central African Republic.

The top ten countries listed on the index are: Norway, Australia, Iceland, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan.

The United States ranks 13th, down one spot from last year.


The United Nations has released a one-dollar colorful postal stamp of Mahatma Gandhi to commemorate the 140th birth anniversary of the apostle of peace observed on Friday as the International Day of Non-violence.

The stamp, released here on Friday by the UN Postal Administration, the world body's postal agency, has been designed by Miami-based artist Ferdie Pacheco, with the Father of the Nation in red, blue and gold.

First Day Covers marked with the stamp and the United Nations' seal were also put on sale.

Several UN envoys, present at a function organized by the Indian mission to celebrate his 140th birth anniversary, reiterated the influence of Mahatma Gandhi's life.

"In many ways, Mahatma Gandhi pre-visioned the UN. Much of the work that we do in the area of human rights owes its genesis in the struggle against racial discrimination, which he focused on," said Hardeep Puri, India's permanent representative to the UN.

Paying tribute to Gandhi, US envoy to the UN Susan Rice said, "Gandhi had influenced millions of Americans. Gandhi believed that physical force could be turned aside by moral forces."

All over New York City, small and big events were organized to mark the occasion. In the morning, New Yorkers gathered to sing Gandhi's favorite songs and paid floral tribute at his statue at Union Square in Manhattan.

"Gandhi has to be celebrated all over the world because his message echoes around the globe," said Prabhu Dayal, the consul general of India in New York.


Taking a step closer towards a wonder pill that could extend people’s life span by up to 25 years, scientists have claimed that over half of babies born in the new future in the UK and other wealthy nations will live to 100 years.
The drug, touted as the "elixir of life" drug, works by using a molecule called spermidine, which helps to protect the body against damaging chemicals known as free radicals.
The scientists, led by Dr Frank Madeo, of the University of Graz in Austria, hope that the findings could lead to the creation of drugs that dramatically slow down ageing, allowing people to be healthier for longer.
The findings come in line with a new study, which claims that the average life expectancy in Britain, which is currently 81 years, could jump to more than 100 years. "Ageing results from complex processes that cause programmed cell death," The Daily Express quoted Madeo as saying.
"Here, we report that administration of spermidine markedly extended the lifespan of yeast, flies and worms, and human immune cells," added the bio-scientist.
Ageing is associated with the decrease of spermidine, which is known to be necessary for cell growth and maturation.
However, it was unclear if this was the cause or consequence of ageing.
The researchers saw that when the chemical was applied to old yeast cells their lifespan increased by a factor of up to four times that of untreated cells.
Similarly, the average longevity of fruit flies and nematode worms went up by 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, according to the findings.
In another experiment, just 15 per cent of human immune blood cells cultured in the lab survived after 12 days compared with 50 per cent of those treated with spermidine. And when mice were fed the chemical for 200 days through their drinking water, the free radicals reduced by about 30 per cent, indicating "reduced age-related oxidative stress".
"One of the most widely accepted theories of ageing is the free radical theory, which attributes ageing to accumulating oxidative stress," said Madeo.
"Together, these data indicate supplementation of spermidine can retard ageing in several species," he added.
The findings suggest the chemical has this effect on cells and ultimately organisms as it provides an alternative mechanism for cellular "clean up".
The study has been published online in Nature Cell Biology .

Friday, October 2, 2009


Britain's High Court ordered its first injunction via Twitter on Thursday, saying the social website and micro-blogging service was the best way to reach an anonymous Tweeter who had been impersonating someone.

Solicitors Griffin Law sought the injunction against the micro-blog page arguing it was impersonating right-wing blogger Donal Blaney, the owner of Griffin Law.

The legal first could have widespread implications for the blogosphere.

"I think this is a landmark decision to issue a writ via Twitter," said Dr Konstantinos Komaitis of Strathclyde University's law faculty. "You are creating a precedent that people will be able to refer to. It only takes one litigant to open the path for others to follow," Komaitis, a lecturer in IT and Telecommunications told Reuters.

"The law tends to be quite cumbersome and slow, so to have a court deliberate on something like Twitter -- so hot, so relevant -- it shows quite impressive engagement.

Andre Walker at Griffin Law said the anonymous Tweeter targeted by the writ will get a message from the High Court the next time they open their online account.

"Whoever they are, they will be told to stop posting, to remove previous posts and to identify themselves to the High Court via a web link form," he said.

Matthew Richardson, the barrister who won the injunction, said the ruling was a huge step forward in preventing anonymous abuse of the Internet.

"People have to learn that they can no longer hide behind the cloak of anonymity the Internet provides and break the law with impunity," he said in a statement.

Online impersonations have become increasingly prevalent following the success of the Twitter website. Leading Tweeters like celebrities Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have hundreds of Twitter impersonators.

The problem has grown so large that Twitter earlier this year launched a system to verify the authenticity of Tweets. A seal, which appears on the top right of profile pages, is aimed for use on high profile Twitter accounts.

Impersonating people or organizations is contrary to Twitter's terms of service and Tweeters who do not wish to take out a legal writ over the problem can contact Twitter.


Just when you thought you got your Facebook habit under control, your circles of friends are moving to your phone.

Facebook's mobile team has never been busier. Sometime in the past two years, the wireless industry decided that social networking could be a killer feature for mobile phones. Facebook has been happy to oblige: 65 million people already regularly use mobile devices to access Facebook, making it one of the largest mobile services in the world. And--to Facebook's delight--those users are busy--twice as active or "engaged" on their Facebook account than its Web-only users.
"This is an unprecedented era with social networking on phones," Henri Moissinac, Facebook's director of mobile, tells Forbes. "Sharing and connecting is something everyone wants to do." Moissinac says his goal is to have some form of Facebook--whether a widget, light app or full app--on every phone in the world by Christmas. "We want to cater to all phones, countries and languages," he says.

In the past month, the company updated its application for Apple's iPhone, announced a social messaging application for Nokia phones, created long-awaited applications for handsets built with Google's mobile operating system, Android and Palm's WebOS and played a central role in the launch of Motorola's new smart phone, the Cliq.

The social-networking giant also released a mobile Web version of its Facebook Connect platform, which will allow mobile developers to integrate Facebook features into their apps. Apps for Palm's flagship phone, the Pre, and for Series 60 Nokia devices that lack a touch screen are also on the team's to-do list. All told, the company currently has relationships with 180 operators globally.

Not all mobile apps are the same--not by a long shot. The iPhone version lets users create new photo albums and respond to event invitations while the Android app sticks to basic features like posting status updates. Moissinac attributes the variations to deadlines and technology differences in the phones.

For instance, the iPhone app is packed with buzzy features such as the ability to upload a video directly to Facebook. It does not, however, mine the phone's core services--particularly its address book or calendar--the way other smart phones do.

By contrast, the Palm Pre incorporates people's Facebook profile photos and contact information into its address book. Motorola's new Cliq, meanwhile, goes even further, pulling Facebook status updates and birth dates along with profile photos and contact information onto the phone's home screen.

For Android, Facebook engineers decided to focus on building links to Android-specific features like that phone's Live Folder, which collects real-time Web updates. Moissinac says he knows people want richer functionality in the Android app itself; Facebook is already working on the next version.

Not everyone is delighted at these blossoming, busy friendships. As Facebook traffic grows, the carriers are getting deluged with data traffic. That frustrates operators since consumers equate high-quality networks with fast service.

Moissinac is sympathetic--to a point. He suggests the carriers consider developing a software tool to identify each mobile user's data plan. That information would allow Facebook to tailor its site: Someone with an unlimited data plan would get the full Facebook experience, while a person on a more limited or prepaid plan would see a more streamlined version, he says. That way, a user on a limited data plan won't feel like they have to wait forever to get the snippet of the Facebook page they want to see--something that carriers hope will help them keep customers from bolting to competitors.


Many members of Twitter could soon be thanking popular social networking site Twitter as it will allow users to call their followers for free.

The website is set to offer two-minute calls about the duration of a tweet without any cost, where members can talk for the first time without making their phone numbers public.

Users would be, however, required to first join online telephony site Jajah and call a follower, with a tweet "@call @twittername" that will make both phones ring.

"You tweet (family or friends), when you've got something really quick to say and you make a quick two-minute free call," quoted Paul Naphtali, Jajah's Melbourne-based head of marketing, as saying.

Naphtali revealed stalkers could easily be taken care of since only people whom users follow could call them. And if the calls get frantic, then people can cut the link by unfollowing them.