Archive for June, 2013

An Extremely Inspirational Talk in Hindi by Sandeep Maheshwari (Full Video)

An Extremely Inspirational Talk in Hindi by Sandeep Maheshwari (Full Video)

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - June 27, 2013 at 3:31 am

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A chinese lession from space

For Chinese astronaut orbiting more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) above the Earth’s surface delivered a video class to children across the country on Thursday, state television showed in a live broadcast.

Wearing a blue space suit, Wang Yaping, the second Chinese woman in space, demonstrated how a variety of objects — from a bubble of water to a spinning toy — behave in zero gravity.

Wang’s class — delivered from China’s orbiting space module Tiangong-1 — was shown in classrooms across China, state broadcaster CCTV said.

The astronaut smiled as she pushed a fellow astronaut into the wall of the module with the merest touch of her finger, and went on to gulp down a drop of water as it floated in mid air.

Using a live video link, Wang fired questions at students who gathered at a school in Beijing to watch the lesson on a giant screen.

More than 60 million students and teachers were expected to watch the class, the state-run China Daily said.”In space… how can we tell if we have become thinner or fatter?” she asked students, with a red Chinese flag visible behind her.

“We can use electric scales,” one eager young boy replied, dressed in a white shirt and the red scarf of th e young pioneers, a youth organisation run by China’s ruling Communist Party. “I really envy you for being able to teach us a lesson while floating in space,” a female student said. “Have you seen any space junk?” another student asked Wang, before she replied: “We haven’t seen any, but it does exist.”

The lesson covered topics in physics including Isaac Newton’s second law of motion, and the surface tension of water.

China launched three astronauts into space on board the Shenzhou-10 craft last week. The craft later docked with the Tiangong-1 in a test intended to prepare China to build its own permanent space station. The astronauts on board went to space with specially prepared bags of lemon tea, and work out on exercise bikes, a video shown before the lesson revealed.

China first sent a human into space only in 2003 and its capabilities still lag behind the US and Russia. But its programme is highly ambitious and includes plans to build a station orbiting Earth by 2020, and land a man on the moon.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - June 23, 2013 at 9:31 am

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Chimps, Human and the genetic ‘switch’

A Cornell University study has provided further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off.

The study provides evidence for a 40-year-old hypothesis that regulation of genes must play an important role in evolution since there is little difference between humans and chimps in the proteins produced by genes.

Indeed, human and chimpanzee proteins are more than 99 per cent identical.

The researchers showed that the number of evolutionary adaptations to the part of the machinery that regulates genes, called transcription factor binding sites, might be roughly equal to adaptations to the genes themselves.

“This is the most comprehensive and most direct analysis to date of the evolution of gene regulatory sequences in humans,” said senior author Adam Siepel, Cornell associate professor of biological statistics and computational biology.

“It’s taken these 40 years to get a clear picture of what’s going on in these sequences because we haven’t had the data until very recently,” said Leonardo Arbiza, a postdoctoral researcher in Siepel’s lab and the paper’s lead author.

Less than 2 per cent of the human genome — the complete set of genetic material — contains genes that code for proteins.

In cells, these proteins are instrumental in biological pathways that affect an organism’s health, appearance and behaviour. Much less is known about the remaining 98 pc of the genome; however, in the 1960s, scientists recognized that some of the non-protein coding DNA regulates when and where genes are turned on and off, and how much protein they produce.

The regulatory machinery works when proteins called transcription factors bind to specific short sequences of DNA that flank the gene, called transcription factor binding sites, and by doing so, switch genes on and off.

Among the findings, the study reports that when compared with protein coding genes, binding site DNA shows close to three times as many “weakly deleterious mutations,” that is, mutations that may weaken or make an individual more susceptible to disease, but are generally not severe.

Weak deleterious mutations exist in low frequencies in a population and are eventually weeded out. These mutations are responsible for many inherited human diseases.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 9:26 am

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As we multiply, they could go extinct

The global growth in the human population has the potential to threaten hundreds of species with extinction within 40 years, a new research has shown.

The Ohio State University scientists determined that the average growing nation should expect at least 3.3 per cent more threatened species in next decade and an increase of 10.8 per cent species threatened with extinction by 2050.

The research showed that the US is ranked 6th in the world in the number of new species expected to be threatened by 2050. The lead researcher created a model based on 2000 data to forecast future threatened species connected to human population growth projections, and published the predictions in 2004.

In the new study, that model’s predictions were confirmed by 2010 actual figures. The scientists then used the same model, containing data on 114 countries, to extend their predictions to the middle of this century.

Jeffrey McKee, professor of anthropology at Ohio State and lead author of the study, said that the data speak loud and clear that not only human population density, but the growth of the human population, is still having an effect on extinction threats to other species. He said that their projections are based on human population density alone and doesn’t take into account climate change, industrialisation or wars, so the actual numbers that we predict for 2050 will be very different, as everything they do will only exacerbate the problem.

McKee collected data on threatened species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, and obtained human census data for 2000 and 2010 from the world database of the US Census Bureau. Overall species richness data came from the United Nations Environment Programme-World Conservation Monitoring Centre’s Animals of the World Database.

He created a model using equations to analyse relationships among these variables. After using 2010 data to confirm that the decade-old predictions came true, the researchers used the same equations to determine that between now and 2050, the nations that see the most population density growth will experience higher numbers of species facing new threats of extinction.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 9:22 am

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Eyes might miss, but brain sees everything

A new study has revealed that people can plan strategic movements to several different targets at the same time, even when they see far fewer targets than are actually present.

A team of researchers at the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario took advantage of a pictorial illusion — known as the “connectedness illusion” — that causes people to underestimate the number of targets they see.

Connecting the circles creates the illusion of fewer circles on the right. But when our brain plans actions to these targets it computes the actual number of targets. When people act on these targets, they can rapidly plan accurate reaches that reflect the actual number of targets.

Using statistical techniques to analyse participants’ responses to multiple potential targets, the researchers found that participants’ reaches to the targets were unaffected by the presence of the connecting lines.

Thus, the “connectedness illusion” seemed to influence the number of targets they perceived but did not impact their ability to plan actions related to the targets. These findings indicate that the processes in the brain that plan visually-guided actions are distinct from those that allow us to perceive the world.

“It’s as though we have a semi-autonomous robot in our brain that plans and executes actions on our behalf with only the broadest of instructions from us” said lead researcher Jennifer Milne.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 9:18 am

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scientists has developed a way to see where and how memories are stored in the brain

A team of scientists has developed a way to see where and how memories are stored in the brain.

The team, led by Don Arnold and Richard Roberts of USC, engineered microscopic probes that light up synapses in a living neuron in real time by attaching fluorescent markers onto synaptic proteins – all without affecting the neuron’s ability to function.

The fluorescent markers allow scientists to see live excitatory and inhibitory synapses for the first time – and, importantly, how they change as new memories are formed.

The synapses appear as bright spots along dendrites (the branches of a neuron that transmit electrochemical signals). As the brain processes new information, those bright spots change, visually indicating how synaptic structures in the brain have been altered by the new data.

“When you make a memory or learn something, there’s a physical change in the brain. It turns out that the thing that gets changed is the distribution of synaptic connections,” Arnold, associate professor of molecular and computational biology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and co-corresponding author, said.

The probes behave like antibodies, but bind more tightly, and are optimised to work inside the cell – something that ordinary antibodies can’t do. 

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 9:13 am

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Mars might have had an oxygen-rich atmosphere about 4000 million years ago

Mars might have had an oxygen-rich atmosphere about 4000 million years ago, well before the rise of atmospheric oxygen on earth around 2500 million years ago. This is the conclusion made by scientists from Oxford University who are investigating the compositions of Martian meteorites found on Earth and data from Nasa’s ‘Spirit’ rover that examined surface rocks in the Gusev crater on the Red Planet.

The fact that the surface rocks are five times richer in nickel than the meteorites was puzzling and had cast doubt on whether the meteorites are typical volcanic products of the red planet.

“What we have shown is that both meteorites and surface volcanic rocks are consistent with similar origins in the deep interior of Mars but that the surface rocks come from a more oxygen-rich environment, probably caused by recycling of oxygen-rich materials into the interior,” said Professor Bernard Wood, of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, who led the research reported in this week’s Nature.

“This result is surprising because while the meteorites are geologically ‘young’, around 180 million to 1400 million years old, the Spirit rover was analysing a very old part of Mars, more than 3700 million years old,” Wood added.

Whilst it is possible that the geological composition of Mars varies immensely from region to region the researchers believe that it is more likely that the differences arise through a process known as subduction — in which material is recycled into the interior.

They suggest that the Martian surface was oxidised very early in the history of the planet and that, through subduction, this oxygen-rich material was drawn into the shallow interior and recycled back to the surface during eruptions 4000 million years ago. The meteorites, by contrast, are much younger volcanic rocks that emerged from deeper within the planet and so were less influenced by this process.

As oxidation is what gives Mars its distinctive colour, Professor Wood believes that it is likely that Mars was wet, warm and rusty billions of years before Earth’s atmosphere became oxygen rich.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 9:09 am

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Move triggered by people taking appointments & not showing up

Passport to punctuality: Pay fee to apply online

Move triggered by people taking appointments & not showing up

 

You can no longer apply for passport online and not keep your appointment at the passport office. Why? Because now you have to pay upfront.
In order to stop the large number of cases wherein applicants don’t show up at the offices after taking an appointment online, the government has now made it mandatory to pay the fees when seeking appointment online.
Officials say the move will help in optimum utilisation of infrastructure at passport offices as well as in early approval of passports for genuine applicants. Also, the new system will provide applicants with the earliest possible date and time, rather than the existing method which allows the applicant to choose.
According to officials at the ministry of external affairs, the change in the process was made after careful observation and analysis over the past year. The ministry found that a huge number of online applicants would fail to turn up at the passport centre on the appointed date and time. This not only negated the efforts taken by the government in recent times to speed up the process but also caused a lot of inconvenience to the genuine applicants due to non-availability of appointment slots.
“With this, only genuine applicants will book an appointment and number of no shows will reduce,” says a note from the ministry.
Officials said that the payment can be made online by credit or debit card or through an SBI branch. Also, the applicant can use the challan option in which s/he can deposit the money with an SBI branch after generating the challan online. The payment made in this manner will get reflected in the system of the regional passport office after at least two working days. The applicant will be notified by e-mail about the actualisation of the challan.
The new system has been implemented in some cities and will be adopted in Mumbai soon, officials said.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 8:09 am

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Himalayan tsunami: Of cheers, and tears

 Himalayan tsunami: Of cheers, and tears

Although Maharashtra has sent teams to Uttarakhand to coordinate rescue operation, families of those stranded are leaving no stones unturned to trace their loved ones in the flood-ravaged state

For a moment, Chinchwad resident Nitin Gurav choked with emotion. After a nail-biting five-day wait and much uncertainty over the fate of his parents, he finally received a call from his parents – Jayshree and Jayant – from Dehra Dun.
As Nitin’s tears flowed through shut eyes, he could hear hysterical sobs at the end of the line. His parents had been separated from the group of 70 with whom they had been travelling.
“While on an organised tour from Pune, they had stopped for a bit as my mother wanted to put on socks. By the time they resumed and tried to catch up with the group, they were told that there was a landslide and the road ahead was closed down,” said Nitin.
For four days, they were stranded at Rampada near Kedarnath without food or water until they were airlifted by the army. The couple is now headed to Delhi.
The 68 members are still stranded at a camp at Gaurikhund.
Similarly, Kalyan resident Dattaray Gaikwad, 43, reached Haridwar after a three-day trip from Sonprayag much of which was done on foot. “I saw a lodge opposite ours crumble. We ran out of our lodge towards a mountain to save our lives,” said Gaikwad.
A day later, when he returned to where the lodges stood, Gaikwad saw bodies strewn around. “For two days, we survived on tea and biscuits,” he said.
From Haridwar to Dehra Dun, the roads are choc-a-bloc with traffic and shops are shut and devastation all around, said Pune resident Amol Patil. “Sanitation facilities are a nightmare. And we haven’t bathed for the last few days,” said Patil.

An unforgettable adventure
Meanwhile, a clique of 14 adventure enthusiasts from Pune got back home safe and sound on Wednesday. They had to sidestep mounds of debris, trudge 30km a day in hilly, muddy terrain and form a human chain to cross the rough Pindhari river. The group, comprising largely of students, has now reached Delhi.
Pathologist Sangeeta Kohli, who had joined the group with her son Akkash and daughter Divyaa, said they witnessed many landslides and tree-falls on Monday and Tuesday.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 8:01 am

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To save a life, MU has a plan

To save a life, MU has a plan

 

University of Mumbai is creating a unique “registry” of student blood donors. It will soon open a fully dedicated ‘call centre’ in the premises of its Lifelong Learning and Extension Department (LL&ED) to further this cause. “We will call it the ‘social call centre’,” says Dr Dilip Patil, director, LL & ED. All the donors who have joined the “blood group registry- sharing campaign” are degree college students. Already there are 3,500 of them, and more are coming forward to join the bandwagon. They have been categorised according to their blood group and location.
Patil says, “This is for the first time in India that a university is taking such a step. We are opening a call centre in our e-learning department, where we will store and also share the database. Now help is just a phone call away.”
The department passed a resolution in a recent meeting of its Board of Advisors introducing this activity as part of its extension work project called ‘population education club”, says Patil .
‘Blood group registry and sharing’ is actually the brainchild of Members of Brotherhood (MOB), an NGO from Shivaji Park. “We wanted to engage students in contributing to this cause as they are the best and more reliable source of fresh blood,” says Amit Jathar of MOB. “Now anyone with blood requirement can call the helpline number and get access to donor data and, of course, blood.”Initially, MOB representatives started the drive in four city colleges – Ruparel, Maharshi Dayanand, RA Podar and Kirti. Students were given consent forms, which has details like blood group, college, address, etc. The form carries the University of Mumbai logo. “More than 500 students filled up the form,” says Sushant Pole, a MOB volunteer and NSS coordinator with 92 colleges. “To check the feasibility of the concept we executed a pilot run with Shushrusha Hospital, Dadar. We were able to procure blood for some emergency cases with this registry.”
Dr.Rekha Bhatkhande, Dean, Sushrusha hospital, Dadar, says, “I fully endorse this project. It appealed to me for two aspects — youth and volunteering.” Bhatkhande, who is advising the MOB on this matter is happy that the university has taken up this social cause.
“The student registry concept appealed to me,” says Patil, “because here is an opportunity to make proper utilisation of blood. Earlier, we used to collect randomly and had no clue as to where it went. Perhaps some private hospitals picked up the bottles. This is methodical. If someone from Sindhudurg district wants a rare blood group, there is no need to shift the patient to Mumbai. He will get a donor in a matter seconds with just an SMS.”

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by admin - at 7:41 am

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