Wednesday, February 27, 2008

'India's undersea missile test may trigger arms race' says Pakistan

Pakistan on Wednesday said that India's test launch of a nuclear-capable undersea ballistic missile could trigger a fresh arms race ain the region.

A day after India tested the new missile from waters off its Vishakahpatnam coast , Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Muhammad Afzal Tahir described the development as a "very serious issue" as it was aimed at deploying nuclear weapons at sea.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function at the shipyard here, Tahir said: "Well my reaction is that this is going to start a new arms race in the region. We are aware of these developments (which) are taking place with a view to putting nuclear weapons at sea and this is a very serious issue."

He said that the testing of the new missile would have an impact on the entire region.

The Pakistan Navy is tracking India's missile development programme and will take steps to counter the impact of the testing of the undersea missile, he said.

The Indian undersea missile, codenamed K-15, has a range of 700 km and was fired from a pontoon immersed in the sea as India did not have a submarine for such an exercise.

India is the fifth country after the US, Russia, France and China to possess such a capability. The launch of the K-15 will enhance India's nuclear deterrence, as sea-launched missiles will be a crucial part of the country's second-strike capability.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

India test fires undersea nuclear missile successfully

India has successfully test fired its first-ever undersea nuclear capable ballistic missile off the eastern coast of Vishakhapatnam, catapulting it to the select band of five countries equipped with the technology.

The missile K-15, with a range of 700 kms, was test fired from a pontoon immersed in the sea at 1258 hours.

"The test firing was successful," sources said, as DRDO (Defence Research Organisation) awaited the final evaluations from warships in the sea.

The test was done from a submerged pontoon as India does not have a submarine capable of firing such missiles, official sources said.

Chief Controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) S Prahlada had said recently that it would need just one test to ratify the missile, which would form the main armament of the country's indigenously made nuclear submarine.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Pakistan blocks YouTube over anti-Islamic content

Pakistan's government has banned access to the video-sharing website YouTube because of anti-Islamic movies that users have posted on the site, an official said.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority told the country's 70 Internet service providers on Friday that the popular website would be blocked until further notice.

The authority did not specify what the offensive material was, but a PTA official said on Sunday that the ban concerned a movie trailer for an upcoming film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who has said he plans to release an anti-Quran movie portraying the religion as fascist and prone to inciting violence against women and homosexuals.

The PTA official, who asked not to be identified because he was not an official spokesman, said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority also blocks Web sites that show controversial drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. The drawings were originally printed in European newspapers in 2006 and were reprinted by some papers last week.

The PTA urged Web users to write to YouTube and request the removal of the objectionable movies, saying authorities would stop blocking the site once that happened.

Pakistan is not the only country to have blocked access to YouTube .

In January, a court in Turkey blocked the Web site because some video clips allegedly insulted the country's founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal to insult Ataturk in Turkey.

Last spring the Thai government banned YouTube for about four months because of clips seen as offensive to Thailand's revered monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Moroccans last year were unable to access YouTube after users posted videos critical of Morocco's treatment of the people of Western Sahara, a territory that Morocco took control of in 1975.

A robot displaying your dreams!

Sleep waking' is an unusual artwork that combines recorded brainwave activity and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep with robot behaviours.

The sleep waking robot plays back your dreams, or, if you will, presents an interpretive dance of your dreams, reports

The robot is the result of a collaboration between Fernando Orellana and Brendan Burns. Orellana spent a night in The Albany Regional Sleep Disorder Center in New York. The staff wired him up and collected data of every conceivable kind: EEG, EKG, REM — you name it.

Orellana describes the use of the data to animate the robot in this way:
"The eye position data we simply apply to the position the robot’s heads is looking. So if my eye was looking left, the robot looks left.

"The use of the EEG data is a bit more complex. Running it through a machine learning algorithm, we identified several patterns from a sample of the data set.

We then associated pre-programmed robot behaviours to these patterns.

"Using the patterns like filters, we process the entire data set, letting the robot act out each behaviour as each pattern surfaces in the signal. Periods of high activity (REM) where associated with dynamic behaviours (flying, scared, etc) and low activity with more subtle ones (gesturing, looking around, etc).

"The "behaviours" the robot demonstrates are some of the actions I might do (along with everyone else) in a dream."

Orellana and Burns used a Kondo KHR-2HV humanoid robot for their project.

Orellana believes that the sleep waking robot is a metaphor in which the robot is allowed to augment or act out human experience. The robot becomes an extension of the person.

Sun will vapourise Earth

Astronomers at the University of Sussex claim to have calculated that the Sun will vapourise Earth in about 7.6 billion years unless our planet’s orbit is altered.

According to them, the Sun’s slow expansion will cause the temperature on the surface of the Earth to rise — oceans will evaporate and the atmosphere will become laden with water vapour, which is a very effective greenhouse gas.

Eventually, the oceans will boil dry and the water vapour will escape into space. In a billion years from now the Earth will be a very hot, dry and uninhabitable ball.

The team previously calculated that the Earth would escape ultimate destruction, although be battered and burnt to a cinder. But they did not take into account the effect of the drag caused by the outer atmosphere of the dying Sun.

"We showed previously that, as the Sun expanded, it would lose mass in the form of a strong wind, much more powerful than the current solar wind. This would reduce the gravitational pull of the Sun on the Earth, allowing the Earth’s orbit to move outwards, ahead of the expanding Sun.

"If that were the only effect the Earth would indeed escape final destruction. However, the tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun extends a long way beyond its visible surface, and it turns out the Earth would actually be orbiting within these very low density outer layers.

"The drag caused by this low-density gas is enough to cause the Earth to drift inwards, and finally to be captured and vaporised by the Sun," lead astronomer Dr Robert Smith was quoted by the ‘ScienceDaily’ as saying.

But, can anything be done to prevent this fate? By altering the orbit of our planet, according to Dr Smith.

He pointed to a remarkable scheme proposed by Santa Cruz University astronomers who suggest harnessing the gravitational effects of a close passage by a large asteroid to "nudge" the Earth’s orbit gradually outwards away from the encroaching Sun.

A suitable passage every 6,000 years or so would be enough to keep the Earth out of trouble and allow life to survive for at least five billion years, and possibly even to survive the Sun’s red giant phase.

"This sounds like science fiction. But it seems that the energy requirements are just about possible and the technology could be developed over the next few centuries," Dr Smith said.

However, it is a high-risk strategy — a slight miscalculation, and the asteroid could actually hit the Earth, with catastrophic consequences.

"A safer solution may be to build a fleet of interplanetary ‘life rafts’ that could manoeuvre themselves always out of reach of the Sun, but close enough to use its energy," he said.

Belgrade smash 'n' grab

Quoting the camera man
"Dear viewers, seeing how this video has become hugely popular I think that is my duty to explain the whole situation.
The first part of the video is happening in a store at Slavija square in Belgrade, Serbia at the time of the torching of a McDonalds restaurant near by, when I by accident recorded these two girls. Two hours later, at Terazije square, I recorded two other girls ("Jesi li nasla broj?"), and shortly after I ran into the blondes from earlier who were emptying a store in Sremska Street. Astonished by their persistence on getting new clothes on a 100% off sale, I decided to further record them.
I would like to thank everyone for their support, and to Albanians, Croatians, Muslims, Germans... Martians and all others who are gloating after this happened, I would like to say that these are only marginal appearances, and that the huge majority of citizens of Serbia are normal and honest people, and I am proud to be one
of them.

Postovani gledaoci, uvidevsi da je ovaj video za kratko vreme postigao ogromnu popularnost smatram da mi je duznost da celu situaciju objasnim.
Prvi deo snimka se desava u prodavnici na Slaviji za vreme paljenja Mc Donalds-a i tada sam sasvim slucajno snimio ove dve devojke. Dva sata kasnije na Terazijama sam snimio druge dve devojke ("jesi li nasla broj?"), a nedugo zatim pononovo srecem plavuse sa pocetka koje pustose lokal u Sremskoj ulici. Zaprepasten njihovom upornoscu da dodju do novih krpica na popustu od 100% resio sam da ih detaljnije snimim. Zahvaljujem svima na podrsci, a Albancima, Hrvatima, Muslimanima, Nemcima, ... Marsovcima i svima ostalim koji likuju nakon ovoga zelim da kazem da su ovo ipak samo marginalne pojave, a da su gradjani Srbije u ogromnoj vecini normalni i posteni ljudi i ponosim se sto sam jedan od njih."

Private race to the Moon takes off

Google and X Prize officials have unveiled nine new privately funded teams that will compete for $30 million in the Google Lunar X Prize challenge, a race to the moon.

"It’s not just a new mission,” Peter Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, said. "It’s a new way of doing business."

The Google Lunar X Prize, unveiled last September, aims to encourage privately funded lunar exploration—just as the $10 million Ansari X Prize provided a jump start for space tourism three years ago.

Private-sector moonshots could open the way to commercial ventures ranging from robotic mining operations to lunar hotels and virtual reality-TV expeditions.

The competition offers a multimillion-dollar prize for the first team to send an unmanned rover safely to the moon, and then get it to beam imagery and data back to Earth. Nine new teams join the Odyssey Moon team, which was the first group to take up the challenge.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said he was amazed that so many competitors had signed up so soon after the prize’s announcement.

"I was floored," Brin told the team members and reporters on Thursday. "We had no such expectation."

The Google Lunar X Prize organisers also announced their partnership with Space Florida, a group vested in drawing the Sunshine State onto the commercial spaceflight map.

Voted into creation in 2006, the local organisation is offering launch site services and $2 million in extra prize money to the winning team if they blast off from Florida.

According to Google Lunar X Prize rules, 90% of a winning team’s funding must come from the private sector to qualify for a piece of $30 million in total prize money.

The first team to land their robot on the moon and complete a gauntlet of tasks with it by December 31, 2012, will snatch the $20 million grand prize. In 2013, the first-place purse drops to $15 million, and the programme will expire on December 31, 2014.

The second team to achieve lunar victory by 2014 will take $5 million in prize money, and another $5 million is on the table for difficult bonus objectives.

Such challenges include moving a robot an extra 1,600 feet, photographing human-made objects on the moon such as the Apollo 11 flag, and surviving more than two weeks in frigid lunar darkness.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What's your 'aH' of laughter?

Japanese professor Yoji Kimura believes laughter is a weapon that in healthy doses can end the world's wars. To measure it, the expert on communications has invented a machine to chart out laughter - and a new unit of "aH" to calculate it.

"We have found that children laugh more freely, releasing 10 aH per second, which is about twice as much as an adult," Kimura, a professor at Kansai University in the western city of Osaka, said on Friday.

"Adults tend to calculate whether it's appropriate to laugh and under those restraints they eventually forget how," he said.

"Laughing is like a restart function on a computer. Laughing freely is very important in the course of human evolution," he said.

Kimura, who believes in "a shift from a century of wars to a century of humour and tolerance," has studied the science of laughter for decades in Osaka, the hub of Japan's stand-up comedy scene.

In his theory, human laughter is produced in four successive emotional stages - letting loose, then deviating from the norm, followed by freely laughing and then having the laughter overflow.

"I believe there is a circuit in the human brain that creates laughter through these steps to the stage of overflowing," Kimura said confidently. "Understanding this mechanism is the door to resolving one secret of human beings."

To measure laughter, he attaches sensors on the skin of a tested subject's stomach, particularly the diaphragm, and detects muscle movements. The machine looks 3,000 times a second at electric elements normally produced in the body.

"I have a theory that humour detected in the brain gets directly discharged through the movement of diaphragm," he said.

By checking the movement of the diaphragm and other parts of the body, it will be possible to see if a person is only pretending to laugh while also distinguishing different types of laughter such as derision and cynicism, Kimura said.

Kimura wants to make the measuring device as small as a mobile phone and possibly market it as a health and amusement gadget.

Kimura said he planned to present his findings this summer to the US-based International Society for Humor Studies, adding that he looked forward to looking at differences in laughter internationally.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Saturn closest to Earth on Feb 24

Get ready for a weekend packed with celestial activities as sky gazers can watch for Saturn being bright and close to Earth on Sunday.

Look with naked eyes for the brightest object in the eastern skies one hour after sunset on February 24 and you will find Saturn glowing on the horizon. Best observation would be between 10 PM and 2 AM. This celestial positioning would not be seen again till 2015.

The view has become possible as Saturn reaches opposition, a position when Sun is on one side of the Earth and Saturn on the opposite side. The result is that the object is fully illuminated by the Sun and appears disk-like.
Saturn will reach the position on February 24. This means it is at its closest and brightest. This also means it will rise at sunset and set at dawn, he said.

The phenomenon would be thrilling for telescopic observers.

Saturn remains an evening object until it is at conjunction with the Sun on September 4. It will be too close to the Sun for observing from about the beginning of August. After conjunction Saturn will become visible in the morning sky from early October.

Saturn oppositions occur every one year and two weeks (378.1 days), or 29 times every 30 years. Last opposition occurred on February 10, 2007 and the next one will happen on March 9, 2009.

Ghosts exist, but only in mind

Do ghosts really exist? Well, if scientists are to be believed, they do but "in the mind" only.

The researchers at the University College in London have found that that when people gaze around in a poorly lit context, it can fool their brains into seeing things that are not really there.

"The context surrounding what we see is all important - sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things.

"Illusionists have been alive to this phenomenon for years. When you see them throw a ball into the air, followed by a second ball, and then a third ball which 'magically' disappears, you wonder how they did it.

"In truth, there's often no third ball - it's just our brain being deceived by the context, telling us that we really did see three balls launched into the air, one after the other."

"This could also be why monsters tend to lurk in the shadows. In shadows many things are seen vaguely (rather than clearly), thus tending to trigger the filling in," 'The Daily Telegraph' quoted lead researcher Prof Li Zhaoping as saying.

Tonnes of dead fish wash up on Taiwan beaches

Tonnes of fish, from carp to exotic tropical specimens, have washed up dead along 320 km of beach on Taiwan's outlying islands because of cold temperatures, a local official said on Friday.

About 45 tonnes of fish, some wild and some farmed, appeared on the tourism-dependent Penghu Island archipelago in the Taiwan Strait from February 14 following a cold snap, county environmental staffer Hsu Ching-fang said.

Local media said on Friday that 10 times that amount of dead fish was still in the water, adding it was the worst mass killing off Penghu in 30 years.

"Every beach in Penghu has been hit with fish in varying amounts," Hsu said. "This is something we haven't seen before."

Temperatures dipped below 9 degrees Celsius for three days in early February, unusually low for subtropical Penghu.

Penghu residents help to clear beaches of dead fish

Penghu County officials joined with residents in a campaign to remove dead fish yesterday. Penghu’s fish culture industry also suffered its heaviest losses in 30 years as a result of the cold spell over the past two weeks. Officials said ...

That weather came along with snow storms in nearby China.

Government agencies have allocated T$1.06 million ($34,000) for daily beach cleanups, Hsu said.

Tourists can still use the beaches, which are normally known for their windswept expanses of white sand and offshore coral.

Officials and residents joined in a campaign yesterday to remove dead fish washed ashore by the ton on the outlying island chain as a result of the recent cold spell.

Penghu Magistrate Wang Chien-fa led the campaign, supported by members of the public and officials from the county government's Environmental Protection Bureau, Agriculture and Fishery Bureau, Public Works Bureau and Economic Affairs Bureau.

Wang launched the drive after massive numbers of dead fish kept washing up on Penghu's scenic beaches, although environmental protection officials had been using heavy equipment to remove 17 metric tons of fish carcasses over the past two days.

The Penghu island group lies about 50 km west of Taiwan proper. The four most seriously affected beaches are located in Huhsi township and Baisha township.

"This ecological disaster will have a serious impact on Penghu's fishery industry," Wang said.

"The dead fish on the beaches are from shallow waters," Wang continued, adding that more dead fish from deeper waters might wash ashore in the next few days.

Wang expressed concern that the abnormal cold weather might have broken the food chain, making it difficult for Penghu's fishermen to make a living.

He said it is important that the county government step up marine conservation programs to allow the release large amounts of young fish into the ocean.

When the fish first started washing ashore, some local residents picked them up and made "a small fortune." But as more carcasses kept piling up on the beaches, county government officials began to worry about sanitation problems as the fish began to rot.

Penghu's fish culture industry also suffered its heaviest losses in 30 years -- estimated at NT$181.86 million -- as a result of the cold spell over the past two weeks, according to statistics released by the Council of Agriculture (COA).

County government statistics show that fish farms in Penghu lost over 1,500 metric tons, or 80 percent of their fish, including cobia and grouper, which experts say cannot survive temperatures below 15 degrees Celsius.

The COA is working on a relief program to provide low-interest loans to help Penghu's fish farmers get back on their feet.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Domain name for Asia up for grabs

The so-called landrush for the latest domain name suffix - .asia - has begun.

DotAsia, the organisation overseeing the registration, is expecting huge demand for the first domain name extension for the Asia Pacific region.

But some in the industry are concerned about the proliferation of domain name suffixes in recent years.

While others think that the business of buying domain names has become more about protecting brands than promoting them.


Work to create the .asia domain began in 2000 with the DotAsia Organisation winning official approval to set up the domain in 2006.

A so-called sunrise period, where companies can reserve domains to match their trademarks, has been ongoing since October.

Now the process has been opened up for anyone to register and the first .asia domains will go live on the internet in March.

Thomas Herbert, a product manager from UK registry Hostway, believes the nature of buying domain names has changed, largely due to the lucrative businesses of cybersquatting.

"People are willing to pay big money for a domain and with domain name reselling on the increase, it has become a matter of protecting your trademark," he said.

As well as cybersquatting there can be legitimate battles over suffixes.

For example, in the sunrise period for the .eu domain, there were some 95,000 conflicting claims for domains.

The domain was applied for by car maker Volkswagen, fashion house Ralph Lauren and sweet manufacturer Nestle.

To limit squabbles and cybersquatting this time around, the DotAsia Organisation, has put in place certain rules.

Companies must be already registered in the Asia/Pacific region to qualify and if there are any conflicts of interest, the domain will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Such restrictions are likely to increase as more domain names come online, thinks Mr Herbert.

Leona Chen, spokeswoman for the DotAsia Organisation, anticipated plenty of interest and hoped the suffix could have as significant an impact in Asia as .com has globally.

"We are ready for something big. All of our people and systems are in place and we look forward to the commencement of the .asia landrush," she said.

Too many?

UK domain name registry NetNames pointed out that the number of firms registering interest is considerably lower than for the sell-off of the eu domain in April 2006.

"Only 30,780 applications have been filed for .asia domain names so far compared with 330,000 at the same point in the launch of the .eu domain name," said Jonathan Robinson, chief operating officer of NetNames.

He advised firms to get onboard quickly.

"Once it starts, there's far less protection for companies' trademarks and its open season on the .asia domain name for cybersquatters, online speculators and competitors," he said.

According to a report from Nominet, another UK registry, there is an active market in buying, selling and storing domain names, with sales regularly exceeding £100,000 and peak values reaching more than £1m.

While some of these resales are legitimate there was also a big market for speculators, said Nominet chief executive Lesley Cowley.

She was concerned that a sudden leap in the number of domain names could leave companies confused as to which ones they need to register for.

"The current process being developed by Icann (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) means there could be a couple of hundred or even thousands of new suffixes to bid for by the end of the year," she said.

The .asia domain name extends to some 70 countries, from the Middle East to Australia. 60% of the world's population lives within the Asia-Pacific region and there are 400 million internet users.

Other regional suffixes for Africa and Latin America are expected to follow.

Fate of a tiger in china (Weak hearted persons dont watch this)

There is nothing quite so magical as a tiger in the wild. Perhaps it is this very reason that has made people covet the animal for centuries.

From its skin to all of its body parts, tigers have been hunted and poached to near extinction across the world.

One of the biggest consumers of tiger skins and parts is China.

In 1993, the plight of wild tigers had reached such a critical stage that China joined international efforts to protect the tiger by banning trade in tiger skin and parts.

But now a plan to legalise the trade through tigers raised and bred on farms in China has outraged conservationists across the globe.

Facing extinction

Twelve NGOs from around the world have issued a joint statement to express their concern about the present tiger crisis and have urged President Hu Jintao not to reopen the tiger trade.

The Chinese point of view is that legalising the trade through captive bred tigers will protect wild tigers, but conservationists say that it will only further the illegal poaching.

The tiger is the symbol of all that is wild. It is not meant to be some other form of cattle in mass production.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Experts create mother of all lasers

Scientists have developed the mother of all laser beams — one that has focussed power equal to all the sunlight heading Earth's way.

Researchers at the University of Michigan recently created the record-setting beam, which measures 20 billion trillion watts per square centimetre, Sciencedaily reported. "I don't know of another place in the universe that would have this intensity of light. We believe this is a record," said Karl Krushelnick, who was part of the team that created the laser.

The laser contains 300 terawatts of power, or 300 times the capacity of the entire US electricity grid, and its power is concentrated in a 1.3-micron speck — about one-100th the diameter of a human hair.

Of course, a beam like this cannot be sustained for long. This one lasted just 30 femtoseconds. A femtosecond is a millionth of a billionth of a second, the researchers said in a paper published in the online edition of the journal Optics Express.

Such intense beams could help scientists develop better proton and electron beams for radiation treatment of cancer, among other applications. The laser can produce this intense beam once every 10 seconds, whereas other powerful lasers can take an hour to recharge.

The team managed to get such high power by putting a moderate amount of energy into a very, very short time period. In addition to medical uses, intense laser beams like these could help researchers explore new frontiers in science.

US missile successfully hits defunct spy satellite

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) is launched from the Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie in Kauai, Hawaii during a Missile Defense Agency Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) test. (US Navy)
The Pentagon used a missile to shoot down the satellite
The US has successfully struck a disabled spy satellite with a missile fired from a warship in waters west of Hawaii, military officials say.

Military operatives had only a 10-second window to hit the satellite - USA 193 - which lost control shortly after it was launched in December 2006.

Officials said they were worried fuel on board could pose a threat to humans.

But Russia suspects the operation was a cover to test anti-satellite technology under the US missile defence programme.

The US denies the operation was a response to an anti-satellite test carried out by China last year, which prompted fears of a space arms race.

The SM-3 missile was fired from the USS Lake Erie in the Pacific at about 10:26 EST and hit the bus-sized satellite about 133 nautical miles above the ocean, the Pentagon said in a statement.

"A network of land, air, sea and space-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the earth's atmosphere," it said.

"Confirmation that the fuel tank has been fragmented should be available within 24 hours," the statement said.

"Due to the relatively low altitude of the satellite at the time of the engagement, debris will begin to reenter the earth's atmosphere immediately," it added.

"Nearly all of the debris will burn up on reentry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should reenter within 40 days."

Infographic (BBC)
1 SM-3 missile launched from a US Navy cruiser in Pacific Ocean
2 The three-stage missile heads for collision location, where the relative "closing" speed will be 10km/s (22,000mph)
3 Satellite reaches desired altitude of 240km (130 nautical miles), close to edge of atmosphere
4 Missile makes contact and breaks fuel tank, freeing hydrazine into space
5 Debris scattered over hundreds of kilometres

watch: US shoots down spy satellite

India gears up for wars of future

India is launching a futuristic programme to develop sophisticated NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) defence technology to counter the threats posed by hostile armies or terrorists resorting to such warfare.

The new programme, being spearheaded by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), comes after the Army has already inducted Rs 700 crore worth of NBC defence equipment, with another Rs 2,000 crore worth of it in the pipeline after being approved by the defence ministry recently.

''The new programme, initially pegged at Rs 300 crore, will include unmanned aerial and ground vehicles fitted with NBC detection sensors. The first prototypes are already being developed," DRDO chief controller Dr W Selvamurthy told TOI . Other thrust areas include nanotechnology-based biosensors, laser-based detection for chemical clouds, self-contained inflatable NBC shelters and a 'model' hospital to handle NBC victims.

''We are also developing smart vests, impregnated with silver nano particles, for decontamination of biological agents and monitoring of vital signs. Also in the pipeline are more sophisticated NBC suits, with thermo-electric cooling," said Selvamurthy. With early detection and protection being of critical importance when faced with NBC attacks, DRDO, Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Biotechnology have also developed 'standard operating protocols' to handle such emergencies.

The 1.13-million Army, on its part, says NBC protection equipment is being given 'in the desired numbers' to troops to counter any eventuality, even though NBC weapons are 'not war-fighting weapons' and only 'mad persons' would even think of using them. ''Lot of our equipment like T-72 tanks and BMP infantry combat vehicles are being equipped with advanced NBC protection suites," an officer said.

The Army, in fact, has evolved a long-term perspective plan designed to address NBC threats to India's national security. ''In consonance with it, formations and units are being trained and equipped to protect themselves and fight successfully in an NBC environment," he added. The broad areas on which DRDO is working are early detection, personal and collective protection, decontamination and medical management to equip soldiers to fight in all kinds of battlefield scenarios. While both Pakistan and China possess the entire spectrum of NBC warfare capabilities, the threat from non-state actors is more in the field of chemical or biological agents as of now.

The NBC equipment already developed by DRDO includes as many as 60 products, which have been handed over to either the ordnance factories or the private sector for bulk production.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Facts About Places


Buckingham Palace has over six hundred rooms.


Central Park located in New York has 125 drinking fountains.


Cimeti?re du P?re Lachaise located in Paris is the most visited cemetery in the world. The cemetery opened in 1805 and has over one million people buried there, including rock star Jim Morrison.


Every year, an igloo hotel is built in Sweden that has the capacity to sleep 100 people.


Frank Wathernam was the last prisoner to leave Alcatraz prison on March 21, 1963.


From 1939 to 1942, there was a undersea post office in the Bahamas.


Hawaii's Mount Waialeale is the wettest place in the world - it rains throughout the year and about 460 inches per annum.


Ho-Ho-Kus, a small town in New Jersey, is the only town in the United States of America that has two dashes in its name.


Honolulu, Hawaii boasts the only royal palace in the United States of America.


In 1785, the city of Paris removed bones from cemeteries to ease the overflow of dead people. They took these bones and stacked them in tunnels now known as the Catacombs. You can visit these tunnel attractions and work your way along long corridors, which are stacked with skulls and bones.


In Czechoslovakia, there is a church that has a chandelier made out of human bones.


In Las Vegas, casinos do not have any clocks.


In Las Vegas, the busiest and two most popular days chosen for couples to get married are St. Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve.


Levan, which is located in Utah, got its name from "navel" which is levan spelt backwards. It was named this because it is in the center of Utah.


One of the steepest main streets in Canada is located in Saint John, New Brunswick. Over a distance of two blocks the street rises about 80 feet.


Tacoma Narrows Bridge which was located in Washington was nicknamed "Galloping Gertie" because of the unusual way it twisted and swayed with even with the slightest winds when people would drive on it. The bridge collapsed on November 7, 1940, fortunately no humans died, except for a dog.


The American Airlines Center in Dallas has more toilets per capita than any other sports and entertainment venue in the country


The Golden Gate Bridge was first opened in 1937.


The Great Wall stretches for about 4,500 miles across North China.


The Hollywood sign was first erected in 1923. It was first erected as "Hollywoodland."


The Library of Congress, located in Washington D.C., is the largest library in the world.


The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota is so big that it can hold 24,336 school buses.


The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum which is located in Wisconsin has the biggest collection of prepared mustards. They have approximately 4,000 different jars and tubes from all over the world.


The North of Scotland's oldest inhabited castle is Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye.


The Sears Tower consists of nine framed tubes, which connects nine skyscrapers as one building.


The Sears Tower in Chicago contains enough steel to build 50,000 automobiles.


The Sears Tower located in Chicago, Illinois is made up 76,000 tons of steel.


The average stay for a prisoner on Alcatraz, when it was used as a prison, was five years.


The city of Chicago has the only post office in the world where you can drive your car through.


The deepest cave in the world is the "Lamprechtsofen-Vogelshacht" cave which can be found in Salzburg, Austria. The cave is 5,354 feet deep.


The first ice hotel was built in Swedish Lapland.


The largest ketchup bottle in the world is a 170 feet tall and is located in Collinsville, Illinois, USA. It was built in 1949 by the W.E. Caldwell Company as a water tower.


The largest school in the world is City Montessori School in India and has over 25,000 students in grade levels ranging from kindergarten to college.


The largest wedding chapel in Las Vegas is the Viva Las Vegas Chapel, which can seat 100 people.


The most famous movie theatre is the "Chinese Theatre" located in Los Angeles, USA.


The most popular vacation destinations for Americans in 1956 was Niagara Falls.


The names of the two stone lions in front of the New York Public Library are Patience and Fortitude. They were named by then-mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.


The oldest inhabited house in Scotland is the Traquair Castle. The castle has had 27 kings as visitors.


The only flying saucer launch pad in the world is located in St. Paul, Alberta, Canada.


The steepest street in the world is Baldwin Street located in Dunedin, New Zealand. It has an incline of 38%.


The tallest freestanding sculpture in the world is Chief Crazy Horse in South Dakota, USA.


The term "the Big Apple" came into common usage in the 1930s when touring jazz musicians referred to a town or city as an apple, making New York the Big Apple.


The world's largest bullfighting ring is in Mexico City. The "Plaza de Toros" opened in 1946 and has a seating capacity of about fifty thousand people.


The world's only museum of Phallology is in Reykjavik, Iceland. Phallology is the the science of the penis.


The world's tallest roller coaster is located in England and reaches a peak height of 72 meters.


The worlds tallest free fall rollercoaster is The Giant Drop located in Australia. The drops is 120 meters which is equivalent to a 39 storey building.


There are places in Saskatchewan called Elbow, Eyebrow, and Drinkwater.


There is enough concrete in the Hoover Dam to pave a two lane highway from San Francisco to New York.


There was a post office on the Russian space station Mir. Visiting cosmonauts would use unique postal "markers" to stamp envelopes and other items as having flown aboard the Mir space station.


Tomatina is the legendary Spanish tomato-throwing festival held in Bunol, Spain.

Monday, February 11, 2008

How to get rich quickly

Need to make a few bucks? Want to maximize profits on your seed investment? This is how you do it:

  • If your canteen stuff sucks, cook and sell. You can make up to Rs 11,000 in profits in a week.
  • If your professor feels too lazy to come and eat at your stall, pack it and deliver to the staff room. Charge an additional Rs 10 for the trip.
  • Valentine's Day round the corner? Put those trinket trivia on sale. Overprice your goods.
  • If your friends bunk class, open gaming kiosks. Attendance is guaranteed.
  • Have an artistic hand? Use it. Most money earned from the cards you sell will count as profit.
  • And, in general, look for opportunities where you can get a monopoly. Then enjoy being the market leader.

Ok, fine. This is not my own gyan. It is duly borrowed from the students of NSHM, who used the above tricks to post a profit of Rs 20,000 against an investment of Rs 850, in six days flat.

Now don't you think these strategies are worth a copy-paste?

Solar Activity Diminishes; Researchers Predict Another Ice Age

Global Cooling comes back in a big way

Dr. Kenneth Tapping is worried about the sun. Solar activity comes in regular cycles, but the latest one is refusing to start. Sunspots have all but vanished, and activity is suspiciously quiet. The last time this happened was 400 years ago -- and it signaled a solar event known as a "Maunder Minimum," along with the start of what we now call the "Little Ice Age."

Tapping, a solar researcher and project director for Canada's National Research Council, says it may be happening again. Overseeing a giant radio telescope he calls a "stethoscope for the sun," Tapping says, if the pattern doesn't change quickly, the earth is in for some very chilly weather.

A typical sunspot compared to the size of the earth. Sunspots have all but vanished in recent years.

Henrik Svensmark explains the SKY experiment

During the Little Ice Age, global temperatures dropped sharply. New York Harbor froze hard enough to allow people to walk from Manhattan to Staten Island, and in Britain, people reported sighting eskimos paddling canoes off the coast. Glaciers in Norway grew up to 100 meters a year, destroying farms and villages.

But will it happen again?

In2005, Russian astronomer Khabibullo Abdusamatov predicted the sun would soon peak, triggering a rapid decline in world temperatures. Only last month, the view was echoed by Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, a fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences. who advised the world to "stock up on fur coats." Sorokhtin, who calls man's contribution to climate change "a drop in the bucket," predicts the solar minimum to occur by the year 2040, with icy weather lasting till 2100 or beyond.

Observational data seems to support the claims -- or doesn't contradict it, at least. According to data from Britain's Met Office, the earth has cooled very slightly since 1998. The Met Office says global warming "will pick up again shortly." Others aren't so sure.

Researcher Dr. Timothy Patterson, director of the Geoscience Center at Carleton University, shares the concern. Patterson is finding "excellent correlations" between solar fluctuations, a relationship that historically, he says doesn't exist between CO2 and past climate changes. According to Patterson. we shouldn't be surprised by a solar link. "The sun [is] the ultimate source of energy on this planet," he says.

Such research dates back to 1991, when the Danish Meteorological Institute released a study showing that world temperatures over the past several centuries correlated very closely with solar cycles. A 2004 study by the Max Planck Institute found a similar correlation, but concluded the timing was only coincidental, as the solar variance seemed too small to explain temperature changes.

However, researchers at DMI continued to work, eventually discovering what they believe to be the link. The key factor isn't changes in solar output, but rather changes in the sun's magnetosphere A stronger field shields the earth more from cosmic rays, which act as "seeds" for cloud formation. The result is less cloud cover, and a warming planet. When the field weakens, clouds increases, reflecting more light back to space, and the earth cools off.

Recently, lead researcher Henrik Svensmark was able to experimentally verify the link between cosmic rays and cloud formation, in a cloud chamber experiment called "SKY" at the Danish National Space Center. CERN plans a similar experiment this year.

Even NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies -- long the nation's most ardent champion of anthropogenic global warming -- is getting in on the act. Drew Shindell, a researcher at GISS, says there are some "interesting relationships we don't fully understand" between solar activity and climate.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Israel helped India turn around Kargil war?

In a startling revelation, the Israeli Ambassador in New Delhi, Mark Sofer, has said that his country had assisted India in 'turning around' the situation during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.

In an interview with a weekly, the envoy disclosed how defence ties between the two countries got a boost after Kargil when Israel came to India's rescue at a critical time, helping turn around the situation on the ground.

'I think we proved to the Indian government that you can rely on us, that we have the wherewithal. A friend in need is a friend indeed,' he said.

He also disclosed that Indo-Israeli defence ties would go beyond mere selling-buying of arms.

'We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. What is secret is what the defence relationship is? And with all due respect, the secret part will remain secret,' he said in the interview to Outlook weekly magazine.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Australia tries to single India out to appease China

The US-Japan-Australia-India quadrilateral has hit a new hurdle. During the first strategic dialogue between Australia and China this week, the new Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith assured Beijing that Canberra would pull out of the "quad".

Australia will keep the dialogue going with Washington and Tokyo but wants to keep India out. Australian media quoted Smith as saying that during his recent visit to China and Japan, he informed both countries that Australia would not be attending any more of the four-way security meetings.

"I indicated when I was in Japan that Australia would not be proposing to have a dialogue of that nature," Smith said.

The opposition to the "quadrilateral", a grouping that was enthusiastically embraced by former prime ministers Shinzo Abe and John Howard, was expected to heighten under both Yasuo Fukuda and the Mandarin-speaking Kevin Rudd.

The Australian decision to tilt openly towards Beijing will have inevitable consequences in New Delhi, said sources, refusing to be named.

Recently, Smith reversed the Howard government's decision to sell uranium to India by denying any such move in the new dispensation.

He made this amply clear to Shyam Saran, India's special envoy on the nuclear deal, during their recent talks when Saran was in Australia to lobby for support at the Nuclear Supplier's Group.

Sources, however, said it was likely that Australia would not stop India's exemption by the NSG, because the government had recently tried to separate the two issues of uranium sales to India and NSG support.

Stratfor, the international affairs forecaster, said, "Canberra is currently in the midst of plans to cast itself as the middle power, or geopolitical broker, between Washington and Beijing... This is not the first time that Canberra has tried to sweeten up relations with Beijing in order to alleviate Chinese concerns about Washington's plans to expand its influence in the region - namely the US-Japan-Australia trilateral security alliance."

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Nokia starts gaming, networking sites

Nokia, the world's largest cellphone maker, started on Tuesday to roll-out of its online gaming service N-Gage, a spokesman for the company said.

Nokia also opened on Tuesday its social networking site, "Share on Ovi," which it built on technology acquired with the US firm Twango as it expands into mobile Internet services.

This allows people to share photos and videos and is built on technology acquired with the US firm Twango, a spokesman for the company said. The gaming service and the media sharing site are among the cornerstones of Nokia's big push into mobile services under its new "Ovi" brand.

Nokia is the first handset maker to move strongly into the content space with services like music or filing sharing site Mosh, where millions have downloaded audio or video files, programmes or documents.

Nokia delayed the gaming service twice last year due to delays in software testing and starts to roll out to owners of its N81 multimedia phones around the world. "It's the most gaming-optimised device," said Nokia spokesman Damian Stathonikos.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

600 suicide bombers waiting to strike in Karachi: Report

As many as 600 suicide bombers are present in the Pakistani port city of Karachi where they are planning to carry out a major attack, arrested militants of an al-Qaeda linked banned outfit have told the police.

"Around 600 Jundullah militants are present in Karachi. They are mentally prepared and trained to commit suicide attacks," Qasim Toori and Danish alias Talha, arrested on January 29, were quoted as saying by a source privy to the interrogation.

Most of the suicide bombers were former students of Islamabad's Lal Masjid which was stormed by the military last July to flush out extremists, the source told the Daily Times.

The militants confessed that they had robbed foreign banks and dispatched the money to their headquarters in Wana, from where their needs for weapons, explosives and other necessities were being met.

The source added that law-enforcement personnel had also taken into custody two disabled brothers, Abu Abdullah and Gohar Muhammad, who, authorities suspect, were going to carry out suicide attacks.

The militants "confessed" that they were planning to target several key leaders of Altaf Hussein-led MQM and some high-profile government officials before the Feb 18 general elections, the Nation daily reported.

Sources told paper that the militants wanted to target top leadership of MQM and its workers as the party had supported the military crackdown on Lal Masjid.

Toori was wanted in connection with a June 2004 gun attack on Karachi Corps Commander General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, which killed 11 people dead. Hayat survived the attack, for which 11 Jundullah activists were later sentenced to death.

Never, ever answer a cell phone while it is being RECHARGED!!

Do not charge your mobile phone the whole night and DON'T keep it near you while charging. IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ IMMEDIATELY!

I HOPE YOU'RE NOT DOING THIS!!! Never, ever answer a cell phone while it is being RECHARGED!! A few days ago, a person was recharging his cell phone at home. Just at that time, a call came in and he answered it with the instrument still connected to the outlet. After a few seconds,
electricity flowed into the cell phone unrestrained and the young man was thrown to the ground with a heavy thud. His parents rushed to the
room only to find him unconscious, with a weak heartbeat and burnt fingers.

He was rushed to the nearby hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival. Cell phones are a very useful modern invention. However, we must be aware that it can also be an instrument of death. Never use the cell phone while it is hooked to the electrical outlet!

An interesting insight into Decision Making

Read and think:
A group of children were playing near two railway tracks, one still in use while the other disused. Only one child played on the disused track, the rest on the operational track.

The train is coming, and you are just beside the track interchange. You can make the train change its course to the disused track and save most of the kids. However, that would also mean the lone child playing by the disused track would be sacrificed. Or would you rather let the train go its way?

Let's take a pause to think what kind of decision we could make................

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Most people might choose to divert the course of the train, and sacrifice only one child. You might think the same way, I guess. Exactly, I thought the same way initially because to save most of the children at the expense of only one child was rational decision most people would make, morally and emotionally. But, have you ever thought that the child choosing to play on the disused track had in fact made the right decision to play at a safe place?

Nevertheless, he had to be sacrificed because of his ignorant friends who chose to play where the danger was. This kind of dilemma happens around us everyday. In the office, community, in politics and especially in a democratic society, the minority is often sacrificed for the interest of the majority, no matter how foolish or ignorant the majority are, and how farsightedhe child who chose not to play with the rest on the operational track was sidelined. And in the case he was sacrificed, no one would shed a tear for him.

The great critic Leo Velski Julian who told the story said he would not try to change the course of the train because he believed that the kids playing on the operational track should have known very well that track was still in use, and that they should have run away if they heard the train's sirens. If the train was diverted, that lone child would definitely die because he never thought the train could come over to that track! Moreover, that track was not in use probably because it was not safe. If the train was diverted to the track, we could put the lives of all passengers on board at stake! And in your attempt to save a few kids by sacrificing one child, you might end up sacrificing hundreds of people to save these few kids.

While we are all aware that life is full of tough decisions that need to be made, we may not realize that hasty decisions may not always be the right one.

"Remember that what's right isn't always popular... and what's popular isn't always right."

Everybody makes mistakes; that's why they put erasers on pencils.