Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In classification only fittest survive

Carol Kausuk Yoon,New York Times News Service

Different groups have come out with their own classification lists for the animal and plant kingdom. A new initiative may show a way out of the confusion...

Carolus Linnaeus, 18th-century botanist and father of scientific naming, enjoyed the unusual status of international scientific hero.

Celebrated as the creator of a classification system that brought order to the flood of new species being discovered, Linnaeus was revered in his native Sweden and was so widely admired across Europe that he became one of the most frequently painted figures of the 1700s. (The 515 portraits, incidentally, did nothing to correct his already oversized ego.)

In fact, the triumph of the Linnaean method, which uses kingdoms of life and two-part Latin names for species, was so complete that it seemed he had forever solved the problem of cataloguing the world's living things.

So Linnaeus would most likely be shocked — after guessing there were fewer than 15,000 species of animals and plants on earth — to learn that more than 200 years later, scientists are far from finishing the naming of living things and are once again being overwhelmed by an explosion of new species and names.

About 1.5 million to 2 million species have been named, and a deluge of what could be many millions more appears imminent.

As a result, scientists have once again been seized by 18th-century paroxysms of fear that the field of classification could descend into Babylonian chaos with precious information lost. For while the Linnaean method for organising life is still followed and has held up well, no one oversees what has become the rapid and sometimes haphazard proliferation of species names.


Enter ZooBank, a Web-based register to compile the scientific names of all animal species.

Full Story

Asia: Spam factory of the world!

Bruce Einhorn, BusinessWeek | October 26, 2005

In the fight against spam, Asia seems to be losing. Over the past few years, servers based in China and South Korea have become major sources of unwanted e-mail as spammers take advantage of loose regulation, low costs, and lax security

Some of the spammers are locals, others are Americans who find it easy to send out junk e-mails by taking advantage of high-speed networks in Asian countries. A lot hail from Russia and elsewhere in Europe.

If spam were still largely confined to nuisance e-mails touting low-cost loans and inexpensive Viagra, it would be one thing, but more and more it's linked to hacking and phishing.

Full Story

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Human Male Pregnancy is Possible .....

Science is achieving amazing things every day. Past few years lot od news were there about clonning, and now Male Pregnancy !!!

Yes, I bumped on a website which has lot of information.

And it looks this id not a joke, but some serious stuff. It also explains the science behind it.

Do read it.

Rain turns to Bangalore now

This mansoon season we saw Mumbai suffering due to rains. Now it had turned to Bangalore. Most of the southern parts of the city, including the posh layouts, were marooned in the heavy downpour. According to the Meteorological Department, incessant rains will continue for the next three days.

October had been the 'wettest' in the history of Bangalore as the city received a record rainfall of 525 mm up to 1400 IST on Tuesday breaking the previous record of 522 mm in 1956.

Wipro office employees had to almost swim to come out of the building.

Hope the situations remains under control in days to come.

Friday, October 21, 2005

PHP catching on, vying with Java, Launches Alternative to .NET, J2EE

PHP is steadly getting into the mainstream. Couple of years back, if I mention PHP, even IT people used to ask "What is PHP?" but now the scene has changed.

Accouding to latest news:

PHP catching on at enterprises, vying with Java

Paul Krill Wed Oct 19, 5:45 PM ET

San Francisco (InfoWorld) - BURLINGAME, Calif. -- PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) has caught on in enterprise-level Web deployments and is beginning to compete with Java, according to speakers at the Zend/PHP Conference & Expo 2005 event on Wednesday. The open source scripting language for Web applications is center stage at PHP products-and-services vendor Zend Technologies' conference.

"We think PHP is ready for enterprise use," said Ken Jacobs, vice president of product strategy at Oracle.

"Java and PHP compete at some level and I think it's great," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. This should serve as a reminder within the Java community to "get over itself," he added. Milinkovich's statements are bit of a surprise, since Eclipse has always been known as primarily a Java-based open source effort.

PHP also is having an impact in the C language community.

There have been many C extensions written for PHP, said Andi Gutmans, Zend vice president of technology. There also PHP extensions for Microsoft's .Net Framework, according to Zend.

Some 50,000 sites are using PHP, Zend CEO Doron Gerstel said.

Yahoo has standardized on PHP, which has helped change the perception of the scripting language, according to Zend.

"It was no longer considered a nice toy and a nice language for simple stuff. It was evident that we could support one of the largest Internet sites in the world," said Zeev Suraski, Zend CTO.


PHP Project Launches Alternative to .NET, J2EE

October 20, 2005
By Sean Michael Kerner

Middleware is more than just .NET (define) and J2EE (define). That's the message coming from Zend Technologies, the corporate backer of the open source scripting language.

Zend and its partners announced a new PHP Collaboration Project that will build a new PHP Web application development and deployment environment.

The Zend-led effort to drive PHP (define) adoption as a middleware alternative to .NET and J2EE is not the first effort from the group.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Your job is at risk, if it's done over the wire: Nilekani

BS Bureau in Mumbai | October 15, 2005 17:21 IST

Your job is at risk if it's the type that can be done over a wire, says Nandan M Nilekani, CEO, President and Managing Director of Infosys Technologies.

Nilekani, in a interview published on the Web site of New York Times on Saturday, spoke about Infosys's success, and underlying secular trends like technology and demographics.

"You can't stop these things. They're all megatrends," Nilekani said. "If you go back to the 1830s, India and China were 50 per cent of the world's GDP (gross domestic product). Then they missed the entire revolution of industry. So, if you take a long view of this game, it's just part of the process. What's happening is pretty fundamental," Nilekani said.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Flea's giant leap for mankind

By Richard Macey
October 13, 2005

Fleas use it to perform leaps that would make Olympic high jumpers green with envy. Bees use it to flap their wings without tiring.

Now Australian scientists have achieved a world first by copying resilin, the "rubber" insects employ to accomplish such athletic feats.

Future versions of the material could be used to make resilient

spare parts, including spinal discs and artificial arteries.

Chris Elvin, from CSIRO Livestock Industries in Brisbane, spent four years reproducing nature's "near perfect rubber". Dr Elvin said yesterday: "Nature had a couple of hundred million years of evolution do it. All insects have it. It gives them almost frictionless movement.

"Fleas have a pad of it in their legs. They squeeze and compress it, storing energy in it." When they want to jump "they release all that energy in a millisecond".

If humans had such pads they could leap 100-storey buildings.

Dragonflies and bees use resilin to beat their wings all day long.

"Bees can flap their wings 720,000 times an hour," he said. "In their lifetimes they must flap their wings 500 million times." The scientists initially cloned the fruit fly gene that naturally produces the material. It was then put into bacteria, creating a biological "factory" to reproduce it as a liquid. The liquid was then cured under projector bulbs to form a workable solid. "We currently make sufficient material for research purposes, but this could be scaled up for commercial use," Dr Elvin said. "It looks a bit spaghetti [but] we can cast it in any shape."

Dr Elvin predicted the substance would lead to everything from artificial arteries to spinal parts that would not wear out despite being flexed 100 million times.

"That's how many times you move your back in 50 or 60 years," he said. It could also be used in micro electronics. "We even imagine putting it in running shoes."

However, Dr Elvin, whose work has been published in Nature, said making artificial human parts was at least a decade away.

The team he stitched together to study resilin includes three other CSIRO divisions - Textiles and Fibre Technology, Molecular and Health Technologies and Manufacturing and Infrastructure Technologies, along with Queensland University, the Australian National University, Monash University and the University of South Australia. They are seeking commercial partners to develop the material. "Some of the markets we are looking at are worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year."


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Walking on water explained

S Ananthanarayan
Insects skid on water with the help of hair on their feet which keep their feet dry.

Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found out how tiny insects use molecular forces on the surface of water to zip about like speedboats. David Hu and John Bush have reported in Nature that insects move at 30 body lengths a second when they move up the short slope that marks the edge of a pond or puddle, without even moving their legs!

Water molecules consist of two positively charged hydrogen atoms linked to one negatively charged oxygen atom, but the way the atoms are oriented is not symmetrical. Thus, at short distances, water molecules can show polarity, like magnets with N and S poles, and exert powerful electric forces.

When well within a body of water, where other molecules effectively surround a molecule in all directions, there is no net effect of these forces. But at the surface, where there is a mass on water on one side and nothing on the other, the surface molecules feel a strong inward pull. The surface of liquids, water particularly, is thus like a tight membrane, which resists anything that may create a gap in the surface.

Rigid Surface

The surface can thus support a reasonable weight and the surface of ponds or puddles supports a whole universe of tiny, millimetre-scale life-forms, which find the water surface as rigid as any other.

This is so long as the insects' feet do not get wet, with the water sticking to the feet due to molecular forces. The distinct separation between the feet and the mass of water then disappears and the feet would sink. We may have seen that a drop of water on a glass sheet that is just a little greasy does not spread out, but forms a little bubble, as it tries to pull itself into a ball, its smallest surface. But if the glass is clean, then the forces between the water molecules and the glass are as strong as the force of the water mass and the drop spreads out.

Similarly if the insects' feet are dry, the surface of water does not break and the insects can ride the surface like a sledge over snow, using the fore and rear legs as support and the middle legs as paddles. The secret of these tiny ones is that their feet are covered with the finest hair imaginable and the hair traps air, to keep the water away from the feet!


Viagra helps out endangered species

Switch to western medicine may save certain animals from slaughter.

Carina Dennis

The use of Viagra may be benefiting some endangered species. The suggestion comes from a survey showing that traditional Chinese-medicine users are switching from medicines based on animal products to 'the little blue pill' to treat erectile dysfunction.

A recent survey shows that the western treatment for this sexual problem seems to be replacing more traditional medicines, including potions made from seal penises and reindeer antler velvet. This could be having a knock-on effect on the welfare of those animals, scientists say. However, conservationists largely remain unconvinced.

When Viagra first emerged as a powerful drug in the world of pharmaceuticals, many speculated that it might help to protect certain animals. In 2002, William von Hippel, a psychologist from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and his brother Frank von Hippel, a biologist from the University of Alaska in Anchorage, reported that the trade in both seal penises and reindeer velvet had gone down1.

But others argued that this might have had more to do with the Asian economic crash of 1998 than the wonders of the little blue pill. TRAFFIC, an international wildlife conservation organization, refuted the claim that Viagra was to thank.

Switch to Viagra

Now the von Hippel brothers show that the trade in Viagra is on the rise. In a study funded by Pfizer, the manufacturer of Viagra, they surveyed 256 Chinese men, aged 50-76 years, who were receiving treatment at a clinic in Hong Kong2.

Of these men, 35 said they had previously tried, or were currently trying, traditional medicines to treat erectile dysfunction, and at least eight had switched to taking Viagra. Of the 29 men who reported trying Viagra, 16 of whom were still current users, none said they had switched (or reverted back) to using more traditional cures.

This one-way street was only observed for erectile dysfunction. For other conditions such as arthritis, indigestion and gout, traditional remedies were still favoured.

"I think there is a different response for erectile dysfunction compared with other ailments, because traditional remedies just don't work for that problem," says David Campbell, a conservation biologist at Grinnell College in Iowa.

Tradition overturned

Another reason, adds William von Hippel, may be that men are more willing to put aside millennia of belief in traditional remedies when the complaint has a larger impact on their quality of life. "Men really want to fix it quickly. If you have a headache, you care, but not to the same magnitude," he says.

But conservation groups caution against extrapolating this trend in Viagra usage to conclusions about endangered animals. "I don't see Viagra as having any effect on species conservation because endangered species are used for a wide range of products aside from treating impotence," says Glenn Sant, director of TRAFFIC Oceania. "Viagra really clouds the discussion of species conservation," he says.

He adds that conservation groups encourage traditional medicine consumers to use non-threatened species.


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