Sunday, April 20, 2008

Darwins - On the Origin of Species - Audio Exert....

On the Origin of Species
Darwin, C. R. 1859. On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 1st edition, 1st issue. Text Image Text & Image F373 In 21 mp3 files: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21.

They don’t know cricket, but know their business

Geoffrey Hampson doesn’t know much of the rules of cricket. But, as the CEO of the Vancouver-based Live Current Media group, he pulled off a major coup by upstaging many mainstream media companies and bagging a $50 million (Rs 200 crore) contract to host the IPL’s online content.
“I don’t understand the sport completely but I do have some good tutors,” the 50-year old Hampson said on a lighter note when asked how he got interested in his company's biggest ever single deal.
“I’m picking up the basics of the game and have some people of Indian descent in the company to help me understand the nuances,” he told the Hindustan Times in a phone interview. Until Thursday, the 22-employee company was unknown in India. It was quite a surprise when the IPL and the LCM announced they had inked a 10-year-deal on online content.

The LCM will manage and run two websites to generate revenue, and The was launched on Friday.

According to the LCM, now fans from around the world can have complete access to the 44-day long season. The site offers access to official league content including audio-visual content, photographs, live scoreboards and summaries, match results, Fantasy Cricket, player interviews, profiles, schedules, statistics, ticketing and fan interaction through polls, contests and newsletters.

As per the terms of the deal, LCM will make a guaranteed payment of $5m a year — $3m for the BCCI and a separate $2m for the IPL — for the online rights. After that, revenue will be shared between the partners based on advertising, sponsorship and merchandise sales through the two websites.

It will be a social networking site revolving around the cricket sport. It would also have a fantasy cricket application for Facebook. The video footage and pictures of the IPL fixtures will be for sale on the website, however no live streaming of games will be offered.

Hampson said that the big numbers of $5 million a year made business sense. “We are very confident of the commerce part of the deal.” He added that there was a tough bidding process involved in clinching the deal but LCM's ownership of definitely played a positive role. The LCM thrives on its assets — some of the most sought after web addresses online. The company owns about 800 web addresses, of which 30 are premium names, including,,,,,,,,,,,, and one of the largest e-commerce sites, called, which alone generates $10 million revenue a year.

Hampson said that the LCM's major focus is “building destination hubs for passionate people. When we were expanding our horizons, the passion in India about cricket led us to the country. It was at a time IPL was shaping up. We approached them and the rest is history.”

This is the company's first foray into the Indian market and it hopes to bring the North American model of e-commerce — by which online shoppers pay a premium to buy memorabilia and autographed items through a licensed vendor, to India.

Men from Mars, women from Venus? Not really

London (PTI): They say men are from Mars and women from Venus, but new research at Oxford says they may both actually be both from the same planet.

While males and females might sometimes act as though they come from different planets, the new study in flies suggests they are both equipped with a largely unisex brain.

Remote control of fruit flies' sexual behaviour has revealed that male courtship tricks lie dormant in the female brain.

Male fruit flies 'sing' to attract females, vibrating one wing to produce a distinctive sound which females react to by allowing copulation.

Professor Gero Miesenbock of Oxford University has shown that female fruit flies can be made to 'sing' too, using a revolutionary technique that he developed whilst at Yale which allows the remote control of brain circuits with light.

"You might expect that the brains of the two sexes would be built differently, but that does not seem to be the case," says Miesenbock.

"Instead, it appears there is a largely bisexual or 'unisex brain' with a few critical switches that make the difference between male and female behaviour," he adds.

Miesenbock and colleagues had previously pioneered a powerful new research method that allowed them to trigger certain actions in flies from a distance by shining a laser beam on them.
The flies were genetically engineered so that only the neurons of interest were made responsive to light. When the laser flashed it activated these neurons, thus provoking certain behaviours, such as jumping, walking, and flying away.

In the recent research, Miesenbock and colleagues used the technique to investigate the 'singing' courtship behaviour.

The set of neurons that control this behaviour make the products of the fru (or 'fruitless') gene a key sex-determining factor in the nervous system. Using the laser method, the researchers could 'switch on' the specific neuronal circuits responsible for this courtship behaviour (the fru neurons) and cause the males to go about their wooing.

Miesenbock was interested to see whether they could do the same in females. If they could, it would show that the neuronal circuitry for male behaviour exists in female brains and simply lies dormant.

The researchers could indeed produce the behaviour in females although the 'song' was not quite as good as the males.

"The fact that we could make females vibrate one wing to produce a courtship song a behaviour never before seen in female flies shows that the brain circuits for this male behaviour are present in the female brain, even though they are never used for that purpose," says Miesenbock.

"One obvious question is why females possess this brain circuitry at all. It's possible that the circuitry overlaps with circuitry used for other behaviours," he says. "But the mystery at the root of our study is the neuronal basis of differences in male and female behaviour. Anatomically, the differences are subtle. How is it that the neural equipment is so similar, but the sexes behave so differently?

"Our findings suggest that flies must harbour key nodes or 'master switches' that set the whole system to the male or female mode. Our next goal is to find those controls," he says

Interact with Microsoft Surface through AT&T

Microsoft Surface At AT&T’s Experience Store in San Bruno, the network operator has announced the availability of the latest outstanding innovation in the field of computing, called Microsoft Surface. Users can explore and interact with devices by using the sense of touch.

People in the United States are invited to interact with Microsoft surface in four different cities that includes Atlanta, San Antonio, San Francisco, and New York.

It includes a 30-inch screen embedded in an acrylic tabletop and has the ability to recognize and display the information of gadgets that are placed on the Surface. Mobile Phones, Camera and many other devices can be placed for multi-touch gestures recognition. To make it simple to understand, when you place a gadget on the place surface, it shows barcode-like tags to identify and present information about it.

With the included camera, the Surface has the capability to read gestures and also respond to different hand motions and movements like push/pull (dragging), zoom, rotate.

“We are thrilled to bring this groundbreaking new technology to our stores so we can introduce customers to their mobile worlds in a very personal and easy way. We look forward to working with Microsoft to continue developing new ways for our customers to learn about the ever-growing lineup of mobile devices and applications,” explained Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T mobility.

Interestingly, it ensures multiple users, multiple simultaneous gestures along with different viewing angles utilizing a 360-degree UI and object sensing functionality.

AT&T is the first company to present Microsoft Surface in its stores. In AT&T stores, there are 22 devices installed.

Darwin’s theory goes online - AFP

LONDON - The original version of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution has been published online among a "treasure trove" of the scientist’s papers, photographs and other documents.

Some 20,000 items contained in around 90,000 images were published on the Internet, according to a spokesman for Cambridge University, the scholar’s old academic home.

Chief among them was the first draft of Darwin’s "The Origin of Species", produced in the 1840s, which eventually led to the publication of his most well-known work in 1859.

"This release makes his private papers, mountains of notes, experiments and research behind his world-changing publications available to the world for free," said John van Wyhe, the director of The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online project.

"The release of his papers online marks a revolution in the public’s access to - and hopefully appreciation of - one of the most important collections of primary materials in the history of science," he added, describing the collection as a "treasure trove".

Along with "The Origin of Species" and other scientific papers, the collection includes photographs of him and his family, reviews of his books, newspaper clippings, as well as material revealing his home life, notably a recipe for boiling rice, inscribed in Darwin’s own handwriting.

Among the scientific papers available are notes from his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle, a five-year journey which started in 1831 and took Darwin to South America and Australia, where he collected huge numbers of samples of fossils and living organisms.

It provided the basis for much of his future work and brought him success and celebrity on his return to Britain.

Darwin produced evidence to show that mankind originated through evolutionary change effected by natural selection and his findings are now considered central to our understanding of biology.

The collection can be found at

Greenland's ice largely unmoved by melt water - By Alok Jha, science correspondent

Guardian News Service: Fears that the rapid draining of water from the top of Greenland's ice sheet may be contributing to the rise of global sea levels have been allayed by new research. Though scientists confirmed that the water can drain away faster than Niagara Falls, it did not seem to accelerate the movement of the ice sheet into the ocean as previously thought.

Receding ice sheets are of major concern to climate scientists because the melting water could lead to a rise in sea levels. In addition, the melting can encourage feedback mechanisms that amplify the warming effects of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere: ice and snow reflect sunlight, so less of them means more heat is absorbed by the Earth. Observations have already shown that the speed at which glaciers at the edge of Greenland are moving into the sea has doubled in the past two decades.

Thousands of lakes form on top of Greenland's glaciers every summer due to the increased sunlight and warmer air. Satellite observations have shown that these lakes often disappear, often in as little as a day, but no one knew where the water was going or how quickly it moved.
When these lakes were first discovered in recent years, experts became concerned that the melting water might make its way to the base of the ice and lubricate the Greenland ice sheet's passage into the sea, which would contribute to a global sea-level rise. In a warming world, more lakes are expected to form on Greenland, raising the possibility that the entire ice sheet will melt more quickly than expected.

But the new research, published today (APRIL18) in the magazine Science, has cast doubt on that theory.

Sarah Das, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, led a study that monitored the evolution of two surface lakes on Greenland in the summers of 2006 and 2007. Using aerial surveys and satellite imagery, they monitored the lakes and tracked the progress of glaciers moving toward the coast.

She said the most impressive drainage event occurred in July 2006, when most of a 5.6 sq km lake holding 11.6bn gallons of water emptied in just 90 minutes. The scientists estimated the average flow rate to be more than that of Niagara Falls. Underneath the lake, the ice sheet was raised and began moving horizontally at twice the average daily rate.
But her team also found that, when considered over the whole year, the surface meltwater was responsible for only a few per cent of the movement of the glaciers that they monitored. Even at its peak, it appeared to contribute only 15%, and often less, to the annual movement of the outlet glaciers at the edge of Greenland.

"Considered together, the new findings indicate that while surface melt plays a substantial role in ice sheet dynamics, it may not produce large instabilities leading to sea level rise," says Ian Joughin, a glaciologist at the University of Washington. "There are still other mechanisms that are contributing to the current ice loss and likely will increase this loss as climate warms."

"To influence flow, you have to change the conditions underneath the ice sheet, because what's going on beneath the ice dictates how quickly the ice is flowing," said Das. "If the ice sheet is frozen to the bedrock or has very little water available, then it will flow much more slowly than if it has a lubricating and pressurised layer of water underneath to reduce friction ... It's hard to envision how a trickle or a pool of meltwater from the surface could cut through thick, cold ice all the way to the bed.

For that reason, there has been a debate in the scientific community as to whether such processes could exist, even though some theoretical work has hypothesised this for decades."

Glacial ice is second only to the oceans as the largest reservoir of wateron the planet, and 10% of the Earth's glacial ice is found in Greenland.

The west Antarctic ice sheet is also increasing the rate at which it is losing mass. In a recent interview with the London-based Guardian, leading Nasa climate scientist Jim Hansen said the ice sheets' increased shrinking meant that the world's targets for reduction of carbon emissions were not stringent enough. "If we follow business as usual I can't see how west Antarctica could survive a century," he said.

Hansen said recently that the EU target of 550 parts per million of C02, already the most stringent in the world, should be cut to 350ppm if "humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilisation developed".

Space station astronauts land off-target, but safely

By Tariq Malik,

Smoke rises where the Soyuz capsule, carrying  South Korea's first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, astronaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko, landed in northern Kazakhstan. The capsule landed 295 miles off course, but safely.
Smoke rises where the Soyuz capsule, carrying South Korea's first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, astronaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko, landed in northern Kazakhstan. The capsule landed 295 miles off course, but safely.

The International Space Station's (ISS) first female commander and two crewmates are safely back on Earth, but landed well short of their intended landing site as they capped a marathon mission to the orbiting laboratory.

The Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft ferrying Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson, of NASA, and her crew to Earth touched down about 295 miles short of its target zone on the central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan.

"The crew is alive and well. The landing was nominal, but by a backup design," said Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia's Federal Space Agency, after the 4:30 a.m. ET landing on Saturday. "It was a ballistic descent and all the cosmonauts are feeling fine."

A ballistic re-entry is one in which a Soyuz re-enters at a steeper than normal angle that subjects astronaut crews to higher forces of gravity, NASA officials said.

Cosmonauts returning from the space station last fall also experienced a ballistic re-entry, as did the crew of Expedition 6 in 2003.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Texas Europe Japan Houston South Korea Columbus Kazakhstan Discovery International Space Station Peggy Whitson Kibo Yuri Malenchenko Expedition Garrett Reisman Steve Lindsey Federal Space Agency Anatoly Perminov Oleg Kononenko Sergei Volkov
Whitson returned home alongside Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, an Expedition 16 flight engineer, after a six-month mission that added new science and living space to the $100 billion station. South Korea's first astronaut, 29-year-old bioengineer So-yeon Yi, also accompanied the Expedition 16 crew to conclude her own 10-day spaceflight to the ISS.

Malenchenko, as Soyuz commander, used a satellite phone to contact recovery forces to relay that the crew was in good health.

"We went through the same thing on Expedition 6," said Steve Lindsey, NASA's chief astronaut who planned to greet Whitson at the original landing site. "Of course we didn't hear from them for awhile, so we were concerned. But eventually we got word that they were located so that's real good news."

Recovery teams located the Soyuz crew about 45 minutes after its scheduled landing with a complement of flight surgeons to begin traditional post-landing health checks, Lindsey added.

Back on Earth

Russian space officials promised an in-depth investigation to hunt down the source of the ballistic landing. Meanwhile, Expedition 16 crewmembers were eager to readapt to life on Earth.

"We've really had a very exciting mission," Whitson said this week. "And to have done so much, it was more than we could have asked for."

While she was not looking forward to returning to Earth's gravity after months of weightlessness, Whitson said she was eager for a wider variety of food at mealtimes and getting back to her roots, literally, at her home in Houston, Texas.

"I really like working in my garden and planting flowers," Whitson said. "It's about the right time in Houston to be doing that."

Whitson set a new spaceflight record on Expedition 16 for the most cumulative time spent in space by an American.

Today's landing ended a 192-day flight to the station, giving Whitson a career total of 377 days in space during Expedition 16 and her Expedition 5 flight in 2002. She is now 20th in the ranks of the world's most experienced spaceflyers, though Malenchenko — with 515 days across four spaceflights — now ranks ninth on the list.

"It was a wonderful time," he said of the mission.

Space station expansion

Whitson and her crew began Expedition 16 at a sprint, hosting the first of three visiting NASA shuttle crews about two weeks after their October launch. By late November, shuttle and ISS astronauts had moved a massive solar power tower, performed seven spacewalks and some tricky robotic crane work to attach a new module to space station.

Two more shuttle flights, in February and March of this year, delivered Europe's $2 billion Columbus laboratory and a storage room for Japan's massive Kibo lab, which is slated to launch May 31 aboard the shuttle Discovery. Whitson and her crew also squeezed in extra spacewalks to inspect one solar wing joint and repair another.

"It's so large that I can actually lose crewmembers at times now," Whitson said of the space station before turning it over to its new skipper, Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov. "It's so neat, and I think we're ready for a six-person crew now."

Volkov — a second-generation cosmonaut — and Expedition 17 flight engineer Oleg Kononenko are beginning their own six-month mission alongside NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman. They launched with Yi on April 8.

"I feel confident going into Expedition 17 with Sergei and Oleg," said Reisman, who joined the station's Expedition 16 crew last month and is due to return home in June. "It's going to be an all rookie station. I think that's a first."

Yi, meanwhile, flew to the space station under a reported $25 million commercial agreement between her country and Russia's Federal Space Agency and performed a series of education and science experiments.

She was selected from among 36,000 applicants to serve as backup to South Korea's first astronaut, artificial intelligence expert San Ko, but moved to the prime crew last month after Russian space officials pulled Ko from the flight due to reading rule violations.

"As a woman of Korea, and just a person of Korea, I'm so honored to be the one who flew in space," Yi told reporters this week, adding that she took special care with experiments designed to spark interest in science among Korean youth. "I want to make them dream about space."

A challenging half-year
Despite its ambitious construction work, the Expedition 16 crew was not without challenges.

Whitson, Malenchenko and their crewmates tackled a torn solar wing, damaged solar array gears and shuttle launch delays that ultimately kept one Expedition 16 astronaut — NASA spaceflyer Dan Tani — in orbit while he grieved over the unexpected death of his mother in December. Tani returned to Earth two months later, in mid-February, during NASA's first shuttle mission of this year.

"I actually think some of my proudest moments of this mission have been how we handled the problems that have come up," Whitson said.

In just the last few weeks, Expedition 16 astronauts bid farewell to last month's visiting shuttle Endeavour crew, watched over the arrival of Europe's first-ever unmanned cargo ship Jules Verne, and welcomed their relief crew before preparing for the trip home.

"I was likening it the other day to Grand Central Station," said Reisman, adding that he initially expected some bouts of down time and isolation aboard the outpost. "There hasn't been any tedium up here, it's all been action packed. It's like the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of space missions."

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Nerdic: The new language of geeks

Wimax, dongle and mashup. They might be unintelligible to technophobes, but they are just some examples of the colourful vocabulary of Europe's fastest-growing language: Nerdic.

Some call it "geek speak", others use the term "nerdic". Indeed, Pixmania, one of Europe's largest electronic internet retailers, said on Friday that nerdic is Europe's "fastest growing dialect". It claims more than 100 new words were added to the nerdic vocabulary in the past 12 months—more than three times the number the Oxford English Dictionary added to the English language. Researchers reckon it might be the next Esperanto. Remember Esperanto? The language designed to be a second "international" language for everyone never really took off.

So what is it? It's a catchy name for all that techno jargon that has bubbled up with the internet and which although once the preserve of internet boffins in their bedrooms, has now trickled down to ordinary tech-loving folk.

It's not a new notion that the geeky image of the internet and gadgetry is being eroded. Our consumer driven society has been fast to adopt the slogan "geek chic" and lust after every new iPod and camera phone available in the stores. And, as the technology is pretty new, a bunch of new terminology has sprung up to fill a vacuum in our languages.

Michael Brook, editor of T3 magazine, said: "The Technology Industry creates new words just as quickly as it comes up with new gadgets." But he said it was unlikely the nerdic dictionary was growing rapidly because many words to describe older technology had disappeared.

Stuart Miles, editor of gadget website, said: "Technology has revolutionised the way we speak. With so many words and phrases being created all the time it's created a whole new way of communicating." Ulric Jerome, managing director of, said: "It's exciting to see Nerdic bringing Europe together and by recognising Nerdic as an official language the UK will continue to help unite technology fans across Europe."

And some of the quirky terms in the Nerdictionary are—Alpha Geek: the most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group; Bandwidth: your ability to handle an excessive number of jobs at the same time. Cobweb: a website that hasn't been updated in a long, long time; Cube Farm: an office packed with cubicles full of busy workers; Doorstop: a computer no longer considered fast enough and only useful for keeping doors open.

Many Europeans reckon Nerdic has "the three core elements required to define a new language: words, phrases and pronunciation" and have applied to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to reco-gnise it as an official language.

Apple iPhone India Launch in September via Vodafone ??

The iPhone’s entry in India has been spoken about since long. And here is yet another - a speculation, a reality or just yet another run-on-the-mill story, you can make your choice!

Apple iPhone

When the Apple iPhone initially rolled out in June last year, many countries, including India, were said to be next in line to receive the official launch of the highly-anticipated next generation phone.

News about the iPhone’s launch in India is now doing the rounds of the internet. The news states that the iPhone will be out by the first week of September exclusively through Vodafone. The 8GB version of the much-awaited and hyped touch-screen phone might roll out in the country for a price ranging between Rs 27,200 and Rs 28,000.

Depending on the response of the 8GB iPhone, 16GB version of the handset would be made available in mid-2009. This news gained momentum due to Apple retail sources, which apparently stated that the iPhone is expected to launch in India through carrier Vodafone sometime in the first week of September 2008, according to a leading business daily.

When we got in touch with Apple Asia, the reply that we got was “Apple does not comment on rumors or speculation.”

Well if the iPhone officially launches in India, the illegal purchasing of the grey market unlocked version will reduce. However, the case might even get opposite as the locked version is expected to sell for 27,000, whereas the unlocked iPhone comes under Rs. 20,000.

Quote of the Day..

The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions. Our inner balance and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life - Albert Einstein