Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gecko 'begs' insect for honeydew

A bizarre relationship between a gecko and a sap-sucking insect has been caught on camera for the first time.

The day gecko, which lives in the forests of Madagascar, has been recorded begging a bug for its dinner.

The lizard repeatedly nods its head at the insect, called a plant hopper, until it flicks over small balls of honeydew for the gecko to dine upon.

It is not yet understood why the insect so willingly offers up honeydew at the lizard's behest.

Some believe that the presence of the hungry geckos may keep other predators away from the insect.

The footage was recorded for the BBC One series Life In Cold Blood.

It took the crew several attempts to capture this strange behaviour on camera as plant hoppers are very well camouflaged.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Indian law 'strangling' biodiversity research

T. V. Padma
5 February 2008
Source: SciDev.Net

[NEW DELHI] A group of Indian botanists say that the country's stringent biodiversity laws are stifling research.

In an article in the latest issue of Current Science (25 January), published by the Indian Academy of Sciences, the scientists say India's "draconian" rules on free exchange of biological samples could "totally isolate Indian biodiversity researchers and is akin to a self-imposed siege on scientists in the country".

India's biodiversity rules, established in 2002, do not permit Indian scientists to deposit their specimens in international museums and stipulate that specimens must be kept in selected national repositories.

The scientists, including K. D. Prathapan from Kerala Agriculture University and Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bangalore, say that while preventing biopiracy and commercial exploitation of biological resources is a legitimate concern, it is equally important to protect the interests of scientists engaged in fundamental research.

They add that fears that India's intellectual property rights might be compromised if the samples are used commercially are "baseless and irrational".

Quality research involves extensive collaboration among specialists and institutions across continents, argue Prathapan and colleagues. And in taxonomy, which involves classifying samples, accurate identification of a plant or animal often requires comparison with closely related specimens that may be present in different countries.

They further argue that depositing specimens in different international institutions would act as "an insurance against loss of specimens in India".

But M. Sanjappa, director of the Botanical Survey of India in Kolkata, told SciDev.Net that stringency is required to fight biopiracy in the country.

"The law itself need not be changed [for research]. Instead one can enter into memoranda of understanding with individual countries of scientific groups," Sanjappa says.

He says several Indian institutes are already engaged in the exchange of plant specimens with the international network of herbaria developed by the Vienna-based International Association of Plant Taxonomy.

The scientists hope the Indian government will follow the example of Brazil, which repealed its initially tough rules for biological specimens after protests by scientists (see New system to boost biodiversity access in Brazil).

Link to article in Current Science [33kB]


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Monday, February 04, 2008

Microsoft + Yahoo! vs Google ?

The news in Tech circle for last few days is about merging of Microsoft and Yahoo! and the main motive seen behind this is to counter Google growing market share. For few month it is believed that Yahoo! is not doing so well. And Microsoft has been struggling to get a larger piece of the Internet market pie, which is growing in terms of reach internationally and in cash turnovers n eCom.

Microsoft is the largest software company and Yahoo! was the largest internet company. But now Yahoo! has lost that spot to Google, which Microsoft has been eying for some time. Also over past few months Google has released an array of Free software tools and internet tools which are probably alarming Microsoft.

Now we have to wait and watch if the Microsoft and Yahoo! merger happens or not, and are they combined together able to check Google's growth.

I personally feel, in the end users will benifit, since both Microsoft and Google will put their best to offer diverse, user friendly and robust services for free or at competitive rates.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

The Life Cycle of a Blog Post

Came accross a very interesting diagram and writeup on The Life Cycle of a Blog Post. Do check it out.

You have a blog. You compose a new post. You click Publish and lean back to admire your work. Imperceptibly and all but instantaneously, your post slips into a vast and recursive network of software agents, where it is crawled, indexed, mined, scraped, republished, and propagated throughout the Web. Within minutes, if you've written about a timely and noteworthy topic, a small army of bots will get the word out to anyone remotely interested, from fellow bloggers to corporate marketers. Let's say it's Super Bowl Sunday and you're blogging about beer. You see Budweiser's blockbuster commercial and have a reaction you'd like to share. Thanks to search engines and aggregators that compile lists of interesting posts, you can reach a lot of people — and Budweiser, its competitors, beer lovers, ad critics, and your ex-boyfriend can listen in. "You just need to know how to type," says Matthew Hurst, an artificial intelligence researcher who studies this ecosystem at Microsoft Live Labs. Here's how the whole process goes down during the big game.

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