Archive for December 2011

British cops sacked for comments on Facebook:

London: At least two police officers in Britain were sacked while disciplinary action has been taken against 150 others for posting inappropriate photos or comments that included racist language on social network Facebook.

Seven police officers resigned in the last four years following complaints over their use of the website, The Sun reported citing information obtained through a Freedom of Information request.

The police officers used the site to harass former partners and colleagues, to comment on others' wives, and to claim they had beaten up members of the public during protests.
Like · · Unfollow Post · December 31, 2011 at 12:49pm

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Diederik Stapel – The bad news

No year is free of scientific scandal, but 2011 saw some particularly high-profile cases. In October, prominent psychologist Diederik Stapel was fired by Tilburg University in the Netherlands after an investigation committee found extensive fraud in his work. Three months earlier, evolutionary psychologist Marc Hauser resigned from Harvard University following last year's misconduct findings, but while the US Office of Research Integrity continues to investigate the case, exact details of what he did remain remarkably scant. The scandal involving cancer geneticist Anil Potti, who resigned from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, in 2010, reached new heights in September, when patients enrolled in clinical trials based on his science brought a lawsuit against the university and the scientists involved, claiming that they had been harmed. And November saw the dramatic arrest and brief jailing of Judy Mikovits, prominent for her work (now partially retracted) linking chronic fatigue syndrome to a virus.

Dutch social psychologist Diederik Stapel had been called one of the ‘bright thrusting young stars’ of the field before his career imploded this autumn over fraudulent research. In prominent studies that explored prejudices and stereotypes, Stapel didn’t just fudge data, he fabricated entire experiments — seemingly for much of his career, according to a preliminary report issued on 31 October by the three university committees investigating his work. They are still sifting through data from approximately 150 published papers to catalogue Stapel’s misdeeds for a final report to be issued next year.

In my personal opinion, the pressure to perform has gone up so much in all the fields including science; even the greatest thinkers tend to slip down the wrong path. In my short research career so far, I have personally known so many bright guys forging data just to keep their job or funding. It’s time for the researchers as well as funding agencies to sit and analyze this situation. If the same trend continues, a day will come where we wont be able to find even a single passionate scientist.
· · · December 31, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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Lisa Jackson – The pollution Cop:

A greenhouse gas (sometimes abbreviated GHG) is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has contributed to the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These gases affect the temperature of the Earth; without them, Earth's surface would be on average about 33 °C (59 °F) colder than at present. Well, this is in simple terms what we call now global warming. USA probably is one of the highly polluted country and a major contributor to global warming.

Lisa Jackson became the head of Enivironmental Protection Agency of USA in the year 2009. A chemical engineer turned public servant, Jackson issued a scientific assessment formally declaring that greenhouse gases pose a threat to human health and welfare. That ruling set the stage for the EPA to regulate greenhouse- gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. The ruling has led to a series of decisions that have provoked the anger of the Republicans. The Republican Congress has fought these efforts, arguing that pollution regulations cost jobs and resources at a time when the country is short of both. As of November, by Jackson’s count, Republicans had brought more than 170 attacks on basic environmental protections up for vote this year, although none of their efforts to weaken existing regulations was successful. Jackson has testified before Congress 11 times this year.

The Obama administration has worked with auto- mobile makers over the past three years to establish fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas-emissions standards, the president’s signature environmental achievement thus far. The EPA has also begun rolling out requirements for major industrial facilities and, despite delays, is preparing to issue the first-ever greenhouse-gas standard for US power plants and refineries. Jackson’s EPA has also targeted smog-forming pollutants as well as mercury and other toxic chemicals from industrial facilities and power plants. In October, the agency announced plans to regulate the waste water generated by shale-gas development, which involves injecting water and chemicals at high pressure into gas-bearing rocks, an activity that many fear could pollute groundwater resources.

We have been living in an industrial town for years. I don’t know how seriously we take these environmental issues. If we don’t, then its high time we do!!! The least we can do is protect our trees. Inturn they protect our environment.
“Every time I have some moment on a seashore, or in the mountains, or sometimes in a quiet forest, I think this is why the environment has to be preserved” – Bill Bradley
· · · December 29, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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Phagophobia comes from the Greek word phago, which means “eat”; however, phagophobia is notthe fear of eating. Actually, it is the fear or swallowing. Seriously, I kid you not. Phagophobia is the fear of swallowing. People who have this phobia complain of difficulty swallowing even though there is no detectable medical reason why there should be such a difficulty. Although phagophobia is not the fear of eating, as already noted, it obviously may lead to the fear of eating (which is anorexia).

Like · · Unfollow Post · December 27, 2011 at 9:22pm

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Surah Al-An'am: Ayath#3

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Tatsuhiko Kodama : The Emotional scientist

On March 11th, this year a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 which caused widespread destruction hit Japan. But what followed was a tragedy, for which Japan was not prepared at all. A 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, causing a nuclear accident. This was the biggest nuclear accident after Chernobyl (1986).

Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Center of the University of Tokyo was trying to reach the nuclear safety commission to tell them that they are not handling the crisis properly. The Government was not ready to warn the public about the actual impact of the nuclear accident. Then, the Nuclear Safety Commission and the parliament bickered over whether safety levels should be set at 20 millisieverts or 1 millisiev- ert, delaying decontamination efforts and further confusing citizens. “While these committees were arguing, the situation was getting worse and worse. That’s another thing that makes me mad,” says Kodama.

Finally he was allowed to talk in the parliament about the issue. Tatsuhiko Kodama began his testimony calmly. But a few minutes into his speech before the Japanese parliament’s health and welfare committee on 27 July, the biologist’s tone grew sharp — and then downright angry — as he blasted the Japanese government for not accurately reporting the amount of radiation that had leaked from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the earthquake on 11 March. “This is clear negligence on the part of the government,” he shouted. “With 70,000 people wandering around, unable to go home, what is the government doing?”. The 16-minute rant has since been viewed around one million times on YouTube, and Kodama, quickly became known as the ‘emotional scientist’ spokesman for the victims of the Fukushima disaster. The academic eventually got the government’s ear. The week after his rant, Tajima visited him. The following week, Kodama met then prime minister Naoto Kan, and advised him to get more data from the worst affected areas.

On his counsel, the local government encouraged pregnant women and children, who face an increased risk from radiation exposure, to evacuate from those areas outside the exclusion zone that had elevated radiation. Later, such advisories became common in the wider affected region. Kodama also started emergency decontamination efforts in Minamisoma, teaching town administrators how to measure radiation and look for micro-hotspots.

Kodama’s frustration continues. He says that the government is still not doing enough to help the victims, and he opposes plans to build a state-of-the-art ¥100-billion hospital in Fukushima city, arguing that support should be spread out more widely. He also says that the government is still not releasing enough information. A ban on entry to the exclusion zone has kept scientists from sizing up the true situation in the area and has hampered the work of journalists. Kodama calls it a “censorship that is quite unusual in democratic countries”.

When asked what triggered his anger he said, “The specialist committee’s major mistake was trying to act as politicians rather than scientists.”Unlike · · Unfollow Post · December 27, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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DON’T follow an elephant very closely.

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Rosie Redfield : Critical Enquirer:

Life is mostly composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and phosphorus. Although these six elements make up nucleic acids, proteins, and lipids and thus the bulk of living matter, it is theoretically possible that some other elements in the periodic table could serve the same functions. Phosporous is an integral part of DNA structure. If you remove Phosporous from a living organism there will be no DNA and so no life.In 2010, a group from California claimed to have found bacteria that could incorporate arsenic into their DNA in place of phosphorus (Felisa Wolfe-Simon, Science, 2010). If true, the finding showed that life could be supported by a form of biochemistry radically different from the one we know.

This year Rosie Redfield, a Canadian microbiologist wanted to take up this question again and she started putting her results everyday on her blog. But Redfield’s blog entry on the paper pulled no punches. “Basically, it doesn’t present ANY convincing evidence that arsenic has been incorporated into DNA,” she wrote. Redfield kicked off a frenzy of criticism of the ‘arsenic-life’ paper in the blogosphere and the media. In June, Science published eight critiques of the paper. The result has been a fascinating story of open science unfolding over the year. Redfield’s blog has become a virtual lab meeting, in which scientists from around the world help to troubleshoot her attempts to grow and study the GFAJ-1 bacteria — the strain isolated by Felisa Wolfe-Simon, lead author of the Science paper. For months, Redfield could not get the GFAJ-1 bacteria to grow reproducibly on a medium containing arsenic. Finally, in November, the bacteria took off. Redfield now plans to check whether they have incorporated arsenic into their DNA, but it will take even more work to show that they can survive without any phosphorus.

I just checked her blog this morning. She is still waiting for the DNA analysis results. If these bacteria have indeed replaced phosphorous with arsenic, we will witness another revolution in the field of biochemistry. Probably, bigger than the one, which happened after the discovery of structure of DNA by Watson and Crick during the 1950s.

"கற்றது கை மண் அளவு - கல்லாதது உலகளவு"
· · · December 26, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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Repetition: The Recipe for Success

Getting good at ANYTHING requires countless hours of repetition, whether it be riding a bicycle, swimming or singing.

No matter how naturally talented you are, you need to practice to excel at something. The more you practice, the better you get. Most people fail to achieve success simply because they haven't had enough repetition. They have not practiced enough and they have not failed enough times.

If you do something for the first time and you're successful at it, you may think you're naturally gifted and there's no need to practice to get better. Having success at something new the first time can be very dangerous because it may fool you into thinking that you have skills while in fact you just got luckyLike · · Unfollow Post · December 25, 2011 at 9:53am

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Underground Houses

The South Australian town of Coober Pedy is the opal* capital of the world, but in summer the temperature can reach 104°.

So the residents moved underground. A three-bedroom cave costs about the same as a house, and you don’t need air conditioning.

*Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, which produces 97% of the world's supply

Like · · Unfollow Post · December 25, 2011 at 8:38pm

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Mountain Goats

Mountain goats can be

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