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Archives – September, 2010

Dot:Technology, Creativity And Guinness World Record


What can you achieve if you use technology creatively and intelligently? You can solve many of the world’s problems, make world a better place to live and can also break few Guinness world records on the way. Animators at Aardman used three very innovative technologies to come up with the world’s smallest stop-motion video and broke the Guinness World record for smallest stop-motion character.

The video is about a girl Dot who is just 9 mm tall and as she wakes up she sees the whole world around her unravelling and she runs across all kinds of stuff: coins, nails, threads and in the end knits a blanket and saves herself. So that’s about the film.

Coming to technology, animators used a Nokia N8 smartphone to create the video connected to another very smart and life-saving technology, Cellscope, which is a high quality microscope with capability of attaching it to a smartphone. Cellscope combined with phone camera can be used to take images of blood samples which can be then transmitted to any part of the world for further analysis. The technology can be very helpful in countries where diagnostic facility is not available in the vicinity and by taking images, samples can be sent anywhere to specialists instantly for quick and further analysis and many precious lives can be saved. Pretty cool! The third technology which animators used is 3-D printing. Usually when creating stop-motion videos, clay models are used. But in this video due to size limitation clay models were not feasible. Instead 3-D printing was used which prints out solid objects made of some kind of plastic. Overall, pretty smart and creative video!! Now after watching the video and reading about all these cool technologies, you might be intested in watching “Making of Dot” video, so here it goes:

Leave a Comment September 28, 2010

The Girl Effect


Give a girl a chance and she can change the world, that’s The Girl Effect. The conditions of girl child living in poverty in developing countries is miserable. It’s hard for most of us to even imagine what they have to go through just becase they were born in a poor family. I am glad various organizations have taken up the cause of focusing on girl child, but still a lot need to be done which calls for collective action from not-for-profit organizations, policy makers and individuals. A girl child if given a chance can change the whole scenario drastically, what she needs is just an opportunity. So spread the word and do your bit. Here are some facts compiled by girleffect.org .

  • Approximately one-quarter of girls in developing countries are not in school.
  • Out of the world’s 130 million out-of-school youth, 70 percent are girls.
  • When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
  • Research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers.
  • When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percentof it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.
  • One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15.
  • One-quarter to one-half of girls in developing countries become mothers before age 18; 14 million girls aged 15 to 19 give birth in developing countries each year.
  • A survey in India found that girls who married before age18 were twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped, or threatened by their husbands as were girls who married later.
  • Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide. Compared with women ages 20 to 24, girls ages 10 to 14 are five times more likely to die from childbirth, and girls 15 to 19 are up to twice as likely, worldwide.
  • 75 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds living with HIV in Africa are female, up from 62 percent in 2001.

 Video: girleffect.org | Patty| Mighty Nice

1 Comment September 27, 2010

Nobel Prize 2010 Predictions

After two week long hiatus from blogging, I am back. During this time, I attended LIBS 2010 conference in Memphis and had a great time meeting fellow researchers. I will be a bit busy in coming month, so frequency of posts will be less but I will try to write from time to time. So, without any further delay, let’s get started, shall we :).

Nobel prizes are going to be announced on Oct 6th during Oct 4th- 11th. Any guesses who are top contenders this year for different fields? Well, Thomson Reuters has predicted possible winners based on it’s data from Web of Knowledge. The prediction is based upon citation counts over past two decades and number of high impact papers in certain identified fields and research themes which might be worthy of Nobel prize in current year or in future. Since 2002, Thomson Reuters have been able to predict 19 such Nobel prize winners.

“We choose our Citation Laureates by assessing citation counts and the number of high-impact papers while identifying discoveries or themes that may be considered worthy of recognition by the Nobel Committee,” said David Pendlebury, Citation Analyst, Research Services, Thomson Reuters. “A strong correlation exists between citations in literature and peer esteem.  Professional awards, like the Nobel Prize, are a reflection of this peer esteem. [Thomson Reuters]

So who are possible contenders this year? [Source: Thomson Reuters]

Chemistry: Winner Richard F. Heck, Ei-ichi Negishi and Akira Suzuki for “palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”

Patrick O. Brown
Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., USA and Investigator,
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Chevy Chase, Md.,USA

  • For the invention and application of DNA microarrays, a revolutionary tool in the study of variation in gene expression.
Susumu Kitagawa
Deputy Director, Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences and Professor, Department of Synthetic Chemistry and Biological Chemistry, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
-and-Omar M. Yaghi
Jean Stone Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif.,USA

  • For the design and development of porous metal-organic frameworks, whose applications include hydrogen and methane storage, gas purification, and gas separation, among others.
Stephen J. Lippard
Arthur Amos Noyes Professor, Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.,USA

  • For pioneering research in bioinorganic chemistry, including the discovery of metallointercalators to disrupt DNA replication, an important contribution to improved cancer therapy.

 

Physics: Winner Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for pathbreaking work in graphene. They were predicted to win Nobel Prize in 2008 by Thomson Reuters predicitons.

Charles L. Bennett
Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.,USA and Senior Scientist for Experimental Cosmology, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., USA
-and-Lyman A. Page
Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics, Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ., USA
-and-David N. Spergel
Charles Young Professor of the Class of 1897 Foundation and Chair, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., USA

  • For discoveries deriving from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), including the age of the universe, its topography, and its composition.
Thomas W. Ebbesen
Professor, University of Strasbourg, and Director, ISIS (Institute of Science and Supramolecular Engineering), Strasbourg, France

  • For observation and explanation of the transmission of light through subwavelength holes, which ignited the field of surfaceplasmon photonics.
Saul Perlmutter
Professor, Department of Physics, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, Calif., USA and Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif., USA
-and-Adam G. Riess
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., USA and Senior Member, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md., USA
-and-Brian P. Schmidt
Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Weston Creek, Australia

  • For discoveries of the accelerating rate of the expansion of the universe, and its implications for the existence of dark energy.

 

Physiology or Medicine: Winner Robert G Edwards for in vitro fertilization

Douglas L. Coleman
Senior Staff Scientist Emeritus, Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine, USA
-and-Jeffrey M. Friedman
Marilyn M. Simpson Professor, Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y., USA and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Chevy Chase, Md., USA

  • For the discovery of leptin, a hormone regulating appetite and metabolism.
Ernest A. McCulloch
Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
-and-James E. Till
Senior Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
-and-Shinya Yamanaka
Professor, Department of Stem Cell Biology, Institute of Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan and Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, San Franscisco, Calif., USA and Professor of Anatomy, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, Calif., USA

  • For the discovery of stem cells and the development of induced pluripotent stem cells.
Ralph M. Steinman
Henry G. Kunkel Professor and Senior Physician, Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, Rockefeller University, New York, N.Y., USA

  • For the discovery of dendritic cells, key regulators of immune response.

 

Economics: Oct 11th

Albert Alesina
Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economics, Department of Economics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass., USA

  • For theoretical and empirical studies on the relationship between politics and macroeconomics, and specifically for research on politico-economic cycles.
Nobuhiro Kiyotaki
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Princeton University, Princeton N.J., USA
-and-John H. Moore
George Watson’s and Daniel Stewart’s Professor of Political Economics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, London School of Economics, London, England

  • For formulation of the Kiyotaki-Moore model, which describes how small shocks to an economy may lead to a cycle of lower output resulting from a decline in collateral values that create a restrictive credit environment.
Kevin M. Murphy
George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago, Il., USA, and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford, Calif., USA

  • For pioneering empirical research in social economics, including wage inequality and labor demand, unemployment, addiction, and the economic return on investment in medical research among other topics.

1 Comment September 26, 2010

Weekend Video: Something Left, Something Taken

Enjoy this beautiful animation short ” Something Left, Something Taken” by very talented duo Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata. The animation is a dark comedy about a vacationing couple’s encounter with a man they believe to be the Zodiac Killer. You can visit their website to know more details about how this movie was made along with their other work. Enjoy and have a nice weekend!!

Leave a Comment September 11, 2010

SouthPark Takes On Facebook


Hillarious take by SouthPark kids on Facebook mania. The clip is from last season’s episode titled “You have got 0 friends”. I did not have time today to upload a full post, so bypassing that by uploading a quick video. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment September 7, 2010

Hurricane Earl From Space

This serene looking picture of Hurricane Earl was taken by an astronaut on-board International Space Station using digital SLR camera on Aug 30. It’s amazing how from space category 4 hurricane looks so placid. The eye of the storm is clearly visible while most of the turbulent effects have been smoothened out in the image. Some turbulence can be seen forming at the bottom edge of the image.

Cool picture!

Picture credit: NASA Earth Observatory

1 Comment September 5, 2010

Empowered By The Bicycle

Link Tv is running ViewChange Online Film contest for short films which showcases strong and powerful stories of empowerment, progress and development in developing countries. There are many amazing movies; you can vote for them till Sep 15. This particular  film is a part of feature length documentary ” With My Own Two wheels” which tells stories of individuals who have been empowered by humble bicycle, the same bicycle which for many of us is a choice of lifestyle , while for some it can be a tool for empowerment.  The film shows that for empowering people large amounts of funds are not required, what is required is a group of dedicated people and proper vision and good things will happen. Dedication and motivation of Bharati is incredible and I wish her all the best. Such kids need our help and support and they will achieve great heights in life. Such stories make me feel how lucky I am to have to all the opportunities in life and I should stop complaining about little things I don’t have.

Leave a Comment September 5, 2010

Maharashtra’s Solution to Famine Woes- Abolish The Word ‘Famine’

How to solve the problems such as illiteracy, malnutrition, hunger, famine etc. ? Ask legislators of Maharasthra of the year 1963 and chances are that you might get a very interesting answer– abolish the use of word, problem solved! That’s what exactly happened in 1963 when the state of Maharasthra ended famine for ever by passing an Act called as Maharashtra Deletion of the term “Famine” Act, 1963.  The act replaced the word famine with scarcity and here is the rational behind the Act:

WHEREAS the agricultural situation in the State is constantly watched by the State Government, and relief measures as warranted by the situation are provided as soon as signs of scarcity conditions are apparent, so that there is no scope for famine conditions to develop [You can read the full Act here]

That’s the height of absurdity. I came to know about this absurd Act while reading Magsaysay Award winning journalist and activist P Sainath’s article. Here is an excerpt from the article but you should read it completely.

In 1963, the government of Maharashtra ended famine forever in the State. It did this without adding a morsel to anyone’s diet. It did so simply by passing an Act in the Legislature that deleted the word ‘famine’ from all laws of the State. No kidding. This was called ‘The Maharashtra Deletion Of The Term “Famine” Act, 1963” (And was dug up after decades by an independent researcher from Bangalore.)

The basis for this? Let the Act explain itself. It asserts that “there is now no scope for famine conditions to develop.” Why so? Because “the agricultural situation in the State is constantly watched by the State government.” And “relief measures as warranted by the situation are provided as soon as signs of scarcity conditions are apparent.” Goodbye Famine.

The next para says the term ‘famine’ “ has now become obsolete, and requires therefore to be deleted” (emphasis added) from “other laws on the subject in their application to the State.” It decrees that “for the words ‘famine or acute scarcity’ the word ‘scarcity’ shall be substituted,” in all laws of the State. Lucky Maharashtra — it can’t ever have acute scarcity either. [P. Sainath, The Hindu]

Picture credit: Flickr user Austin Yoder| Used under Creative Commons License

P Sainath Article: The Hindu and Counterpunch.org


Leave a Comment September 5, 2010

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