High gold prices dampen wedding demand

Gold ornaments displayed at a jewellery shop in Hyderabad

The ongoing volatility is also keeping the prospective buyers at bay as they are unable to decide whether its the right time to invest in jewellery or not.

The wedding season is considered the best time for gold jewellers but with the yellow metal soaring to a record nearly Rs 18,000 per ten gm, city jewellers have reported a 25 per cent drop in demand.

Even those reaching out to jewellery showrooms at the peak of the marriage season are putting a cap on their purchases, jewellers rued.

They said soaring prices have adversely affected their business as demand for ornaments has witnessed a fall by at least 25 per cent this season.

During the course of the year, the marriage season tends to be at its peak from mid-November to February, barring a few weeks in December with over 25,000 marriages scheduled during the period in Delhi only.

On the recent hike in gold prices, an official at state-run trading firm MMTC said, “While jewellery buying is low, there is a positive influence in buying of gold coins and bars. People are investing more in solid gold expecting the market will rise further and they would be able to get good returns for their investments.”

Market watchers believe that high prices are due to an unprecedented rush of investors into the bullion market, as also high global prices.

The city’s leading gold retailers in Chandni Chowk and Karol Bagh said they are flooded with requests for cheaper necklaces, rings, earrings and bangles.

“Till last year, people used to give 10 or 15 tolas (100 or 150 gm) of jewellery to the prospective brides, but now they are buying only after deciding the amount of money they will spend on ornaments,” said Nitin Malik, owner of Malik Jewellers Pvt Ltd, an MMTC franchise here.

Atul Jain, a jeweller from Chandni Chowk said, “Sale has gone down by almost 25 per cent. People are buying only for brides and grooms,” adding a gold ring now costs around Rs 9,000 as against Rs 5,000 last year.

The ongoing volatility is also keeping the prospective buyers at bay as they are unable to decide whether its the right time to invest in jewellery or not. Families are cutting costs and buying new sets only for the bride. The others are just getting old jewellery polished, Mr. Jain said.

According to a shop manager at a Tanishq outlet, the trend of using gold in smaller quantities picked up after 2004, when the price of the precious metal began rising.

“We are now trying to satisfy customers by showing big pieces with less gold and a low price tag,” he said.

Karan Kriplani, owner of Girdhari Lal Co in Connaught Place here said, “A mild sentiment exists among customers.

They are hesitant in buying over the counter.”

A K Chhabra, sales manager with Phulkari in Connaught Place, said people might be buying less jewellery but they are investing in solid gold — bars and coins

“Jail broken” iPhones hacked by new virus

Hackers have built a virus that attacks Apple Inc’s iPhone by secretly taking control of the devices via their Internet connections, security experts said.

The virus has been detected in the Netherlands and can only attack iPhones whose users have disabled some pre-installed security features, according to analysts monitoring the progress of the virus.

The hackers are trying to use the virus to obtain passwords to banking sites, according to Graham Cluley, a researcher with anti-virus software maker Sophos. When an iPhone user tries to access a bank website, the Duh Worm directs the browser to a look-a-like site controlled by the hackers, Cluley said.

A spokeswoman for ING Group said the Dutch banking giant discovered a criminal network that attempted to steal banking credentials via hacked iPhones. Dutch clients of ING have been targeted, but there was no indication that clients outside the Netherlands have to worry, she said.

ING has not received any reports from clients that their credentials have been lost, but the bank was monitoring client accounts for suspicious transactions, the spokeswoman said.

The only iPhones that are vulnerable to the Duh Worm are “jail broken” phones, where users disable key Apple security features to get around the terms of usage agreement that they are designed to enforce, analysts said.

For example, Apple prevents users from switching service providers to unauthorized carriers and limits users to the approximately 100,000 programs that the company has vetted for installation on the device. There are thousands of unauthorized programs covering areas including Internet phone calls, WiFi access and pornography.

“The vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhones, and for good reason. These hacks not only violate the warranty, they will also cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison.

Three independent security experts said that it is best for iPhone users not to jail break their devices because the security risks are greater than the benefits.

“They’re leaving their back door open. Every one else knows what the key is to open that door,” Cluley said.

The ING spokeswoman said: “People who use their iPhones in a regular way have nothing to fear.”

The case, which was widely reported by security experts on Monday, is the first in which iPhones have been recruited into a “botnet,” or army of infected devices that hackers can control from a central “command and control center.”

Early this year an unknown criminal gang built a botnet with millions of PCs using a worm known as Conficker. Security researchers feared that it might wreak havoc on April 1 based on code in the worm’s software, but that date passed with little fanfare.

Since then, security researchers say that a limited number of Conficker-infected PCs have been used to spread spam, sell fake anti-virus software and perpetrate identity theft.

Mikko Hypponen, an expert on Conficker and chief research officer for security software maker F-Secure, said that Duh could spread from the Netherlands to other countries.

Like the authors of Conficker, the hackers who wrote Duh are motivated to spread the worm because they too are looking for a payoff from their work, he said.

“It’s clearly written to make money. That’s a first on the mobile side,” Hypponen said.

To be sure, iPhones that have not been jail broken face their own security challenges. Yet so far Apple has been able to stay ahead of the hackers.

In July the company issued a software patch to fix a critical bug uncovered by two researchers that made the device susceptible to secret attacks using the SMS system, which mobile devices use to send text messages.

Apple shares rose 3 percent on Monday to $205.88 on the Nasdaq.

Murdoch courts trouble if he blocks Google on news

Rupert Murdoch has spent months complaining that Google is ruining the newspaper business, and now he wants to do something about it.

But, his proposal is a gamble, and one that could hurt News Corp instead of helping it.

Murdoch is considering removing News Corp’s news from Google’s Web search results, and is talking to Microsoft Corp about listing the stories with its Bing search engine instead. Microsoft would pay for the privilege, sources have told Reuters, but it was not clear how much.

If Murdoch pulled this off, he will likely be followed by other newspaper publishers looking for ways to make money when all the old ones are waning in the digital age.

Newspaper owners resent Google because the Internet company makes money from the advertisements that it displays next to news search results.

News Corp’s proposal is a way to get a cut of the action. Risks include destroying ad revenue most news websites depend on if traffic goes down because Google users can’t find the stories. It’s also not clear how regulators would feel about such a move.

“You’re immediately cutting off audience,” said Jeff Jarvis, media blogger and author of the book “What Would Google Do?”

Google brings as much as 14 percent of incoming traffic to News Corp’s U.S. news websites, including the New York Post and Fox News, Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay estimated.

If News Corp blocked access to Google, he wrote in a note to investors, it would hurt only News Corp.

Many people find their news on Google, which has 65 percent of the U.S. search market according to comScore. Newspaper publishers whose websites depend on advertising sales want lots of visitors, and need Google to supply them.

Google provides news organizations about 100,000 clicks a minute, said company spokesman Gabriel Stricker. “Each of those visits offers a business opportunity for the publishers to show ads, win loyal readers and sell subscriptions,” he said.

Making Microsoft’s Bing search engine the only way to look for news would slice away visitors and lower the amount of money news websites could charge advertisers.

There is little chance people will abandon Google, which has become such a giant that its name is also a verb.

“Consumers do not expect search engines to be exclusive,” Forrester analyst Shar VanBoskirk wrote. “If they can’t find something through search, it may as well not exist.”


Sambhavi’s caretaker Usha probed

Kurnool: Government officials have interrogated Sambhavi’s caretaker Usharani in the Nandyal revenue divisional office in the Kurnool district on Tuesday, after some atheists complained to the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) over denial of child rights to Sambhavi, by propagating her as a goddess.
Sambhavi did not attend the enquiry team on medical grounds and her caretaker attended on her behalf.
A tense environment prevailed for a while during the enquiry when supporters of Sambhavi and the atheists argued in front of the RDO’s office.
The enquiry team comprising the Nan-dyal revenue divisional officer, Ms Madhavi Latha, the deputy superintendent of police, Mr Samayjohn Rao and the Integrated Child Development Scheme project director, Ms Zubeida Begum questioned Usharani for four hours from 11 am to 3 pm. After enquiry, Ms Usharani spoke to mediamen and said that some jealous persons had complained against them to the SHRC. She said that she was teaching Sambhavi in Suryanandi.
Speaking on the occasion, the Nandyal RDO said that entire enquire episode had been recorded on video camera.
She said that it was not possible to disclose details of the enquiry which would be submitted to the district collector. She said that they would enquire with Sambhavi in two days.
Meanwhile, some activists raised slogans in
favour of Sambhavi and some others raised slogans against Ms Usharani.
The police arrested the activists and send them to the police station. The RDO took memorandums from both groups.

“India a key player in international biomedical research”


MoU exchange between Sri Ramachandra University and CITI, University of Miami, USA at Indo-US CITI workshop at the University auditorium on Tuesday

 Melody Lin, deputy director of National Institutes of Health – Office for Human Research Protection, US, said that training research teams on basic ethical practices in research followed globally within the country will increase the world’s interest in India as a venue for clinical trials

India has become one of the key players in international biomedical research, with its IT capabilities, willingness of the government to start reforms and trained technicians, Melody Lin, deputy director, National Institutes of Health – Office for Human Research Protection, U.S., said.

Training research teams on basic ethical practices in research followed globally within the country will increase the world’s interest in India as a venue for clinical trials, she said. Dr. Lin was speaking at the inauguration of Indo-US CITI workshop on ‘Promoting Research Ethics Education in India’ organised at Sri Ramachandra University (SRU), here, on Tuesday.

Talking about the varsity’s partnership with University of Miami, U.S., its Pro-Chancellor (research) S.P. Thyagarajan said it was significant that these two institutions had come together to launch the ‘Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)’ Research Ethics programme in the country. It will fulfil a great need, even as India emerges as a hot destination for clinical research involving human subjects and patients.

He added that clinical trials in India were growing at an annual aggregated growth ratio of 60 per cent. In 2004, the budget for clinical trials in India had crossed USD 100 million and it is being predicted that by 2010, the industry will spend USD 300 million or more. At present there are over 150 research organisations that are co-ordinating and conducting clinical trials on behalf of and in association with multinationals.

The reasons why India’s popularity in the circuit included a comparative cost advantage, the availability of a huge pool of trained manpower, a large population base with a diverse disease spectrum, he added. “While it is definitely an opportunity for India, we should be extremely careful to ensure that we do no harm,” Prof. Thyagarajan explained. It was in this context that an orientation on the ethics governing bio medical research would be timely.

SRU also hopes to emerge as a CITI centre of excellence, taking the training to other medical and research institutions. Paul Braunschweiger, director, Office of Research Education, University of Miami, said most funding for scientific research is being supported by public funding by the government. Therefore, without public trust, there will be no research on public health and consequently, no prosperity. Stressing on didactic training on ethics for the entire research team, he said that the CITI programme’s online modules would provide high quality of research ethics education.

V.Kumaraswami, director, Tuberculosis Research Centre and National Institute of Epidemiology, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) institutions, said the ICMR has tried to address the issues relating to medical research as early as in the 1980’s. A more formal guide was published in 2000 and it was followed up by a revised set of guidelines in 2006. These guidelines govern social sciences research, stem cell research and animal research.

The ICMR was also interested in capacity building at all levels for medical research in partnership with the NIH. There was also a partnership with the Indira Gandhi National Open University for distance learning modules for ethics, he added.

V.K.Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health, said the State government and its research institutions would be keen on participating in such training programmes for medical research ethics. S.Thanikachalam, chairman and director, Cardiac Care Centre, SRU, released the ethics education material on the occasion.

Blood samples yield clues to help fight cancers

FIGHTING CANCER: Blood samples from bone marrow transplant patients have yielded clues that could help fight cancer

A study of blood samples from patients of bone marrow transplants has yielded clues that could help fight cancers and auto-immune diseases.

B cells, the immune cells that produce antibodies, start their development in the bone marrow and complete it in blood and tissues.

The developmental process in humans can be studied in those who have had their bone marrow destroyed and then reconstituted from donors, because clinical samples are collected at defined periods of time following the transplant.

Doctoral student Santi Suryani and Stuart Tangye from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research (GIMC) have identified the process where the body gets rid of rogue B cells which see ‘self’ as the enemy and so allow the body to attack itself – as in autoimmune diseases such as lupus.

“By identifying exactly where B cells are in their stage of development, you can better understand and target specific B cell diseases,” said Tangye, according to a GIMC release.

These findings are online in the journal Blood.

Friends go online at Foursquare to meet offline

Laura Fitton’s ascent has been staggering: In less than a year, she’s become mayor of nine different places in several different states, all without giving any speeches or kissing any babies.

Instead, Fitton has gone out. A lot. And that’s allowed her to build an empire in the world of a rapidly growing Internet startup called Foursquare, which rewards users with points and virtual “mayorships” for checking in on their cell phones when they’re out and about.

Foursquare is the brainchild of Dennis Crowley, 33, and Naveen Selvadurai, 27. The two friends decided to roll out their service after learning in January that Google was shutting down Dodgeball — a similar tool for connecting with friends through text messages. Crowley had started Dodgeball in 2000 and sold it to Google in 2005 for an undisclosed amount.

Released in March, Foursquare lets you share your whereabouts with friends, no matter if you’re at a hot bar or a neighborhood pet store. Once you’ve checked in somewhere — through Foursquare’s Web site or its applications for the iPhone or Android phones — your friends can see where you are and decide whether to meet up with you.

If you want to check in on an iPhone, for example, you’d see a main tab showing your favorite and nearby businesses, and another tab showing where your friends have recently checked in. You can search for venues, leave tips for other users about things they might want to try at a bar or restaurant, or send a “shout” — a message that goes to all your friends.

Checking in is done on the honor system, so technically you can check in at dessert destination Serendipity 3 in Manhattan even if you’re really sitting in an office in San Francisco.

There are plenty of applications that let you share your location with friends, such as Loopt, Glympse and Google Latitude. What’s different about Foursquare — and what users say keeps them coming back — is that it includes a reward system familiar to video gamers.

You get five points for checking in somewhere for the first time, for example, and if you visit a place three times in a week you’ll earn a “local” badge that appears on your Foursquare profile. Check in somewhere more than others do and Foursquare will dub you the mayor. (You’ll have to keep visiting, though, or you might be overthrown by somebody else). A leaderboard lets you see how you stack up against your friends and other users in your area.

Since Foursquare launched, it has gained more than 100,000 users and added more than 100 cities worldwide to its roster (New York has the most Foursquare users, followed by San Francisco.) It recently launched in such European cities as Berlin, Paris and Madrid.

Foursquare isn’t yet harnessing its users to make money, but Crowley says it plans to eventually. It might ask businesses to pay to display specials to users (some are doing this for free) or let the businesses sponsor site badges that users get for, say, going to a concert.

Some users attribute Foursquare’s popularity partly to the success of Twitter and Facebook. The constant sharing with friends that is encouraged on these sites has trained people to be open to doing so elsewhere.

But while the definition of a friend on Facebook or Twitter can range from your grandmother to a guy you once spoke with at a party, Foursquare users tend to use it to connect with their actual friends.

“My rule there is that these are people I’d let sleep on my couch,” says Patrick Reilly, a software architect in San Francisco whose mayoral holdings include a local Best Buy store and a bar.

This attitude makes sense to Robbie Blinkoff, a cultural anthropologist and managing partner at Context-Based Research Group in Baltimore. He believes people are itching for more in-person meet-ups, while social sites like Facebook are geared more toward connecting on the Web.

Reilly says Foursquare has led him to hang out more with his friends.

“It definitely creates more connectiveness,” he says.


Pervez Musharraf joins Facebook

Net-savvy: Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf

Social networking website Facebook has a new member — former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who has signed up to “connect” with the youth of his country.

Musharraf’s page, which was created a month ago but made public recently, already has over 27,000 fans.

The former military ruler, currently living outside Pakistan, has posted a video, in which he says why he chose Facebook to interact with youth.

“Welcome to my Facebook page, which I launched about one month back. I am extremely encouraged by the positive, enthusiastic response that I received.

It is my pleasure to be interacting with all of you,” Musharraf said in the video message.

“The youth is extremely concerned, I may even say extremely disturbed about what is happening in Pakistan, what has happened in Pakistan in the past, and why it has happened that way and also what is the future of Pakistan.

“The page has several little-known details about Musharraf — such as the fact that India Today magazine ranks alongside Economist, Newsweek and Time among his favourite journals.

Or that westerns, World War II films and historical epics like Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, Spartacus and Gladiator are among his favourite movies.

Musharraf lists ghazals and pre-Partition film songs as his favourite music and Noor Jehan, Mehdi Hasan, K L Saigal and Mukesh as his favourite singers.

He has also uploaded photos on his page, including one taken at the Taj Mahal during his summit at Agra with former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

His favourite quotations include Napoleon’s strategic decision-making philosophy, that every decision is “two-thirds analysis, and one-third leap in the dark.

He wrote: “I feel trying to expand the two-thirds analysis leads to ‘paralysis through analysis’ (Nixon’s quote), and expanding the one-third leap in the dark leads to recklessness, endangering oneself and others.

Striking the right balance is the true art of decision-making. His other favourite quote is by historian Stanley Wolpert: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history.

Fewer still modify the map of the world.

Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.

“In his video message, Musharraf explained he chose Facebook to air his views because he was “thinking how I could contribute my bit towards quenching.

“The thirst of (the) youth, especially on their concerns about Pakistan. The only way I thought possible was to develop a connectivity with all of you.

I need to collectivise this, collectivise so that I can answer to all of them through one medium, which is the connectivity of Facebook.”

Members have been asked to “engage constructively” and have been warned that “uncivil posts will be removed or edited.”

Political observers believe Musharraf has chosen not to return to Pakistan since mid-April as he is worried by a raft of legal and police cases registered against him.

However, in the “personal information section”, Musharraf wrote: “Since my retirement as President of Pakistan in August 2008, I have been keeping myself busy with a global lecture series.

“Besides the lectures, I find time to meet well wishers and friends. After many years of a regimented daily routine, I am able to spend quality time with my family. I also find time to play golf, tennis and bridge.

Comments are piling up on Musharraf’s page.

Amin Bhaila, a Facebooker, wants to know “of all the things that you had done in your tenure, which thing still bothers you the most?”

Waseem Akhter says, “We all love you, the young generation (is) waiting for you to join the politics of Pakistan in order to change it and kick out all these corrupt politicians.

Upgrade makes supercomputer work faster

Washington, Nov. Reports indicate that an upgrade to a Cray XT5 high-performance computing system deployed by the US department of energy has made the “Jaguar” supercomputer the world’s fastest.
Located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Jaguar is the scientific research community’s most powerful computational tool for exploring solutions to some of today’s most difficult problems.
The upgrade, funded with $19.9 million under the Recovery Act, will enable scientific simulations for exploring solutions to climate change and the development of new energy technologies.
To net the number-one spot on the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, Jaguar’s Cray XT5 component was upgraded this fall from four-core to six-core processors and ran a benchmark program called High-Performance Linpack (HPL) at a speed of 1.759 petaflop/s (quadrillion floating point operations, or calculations, per second).
Jaguar began service in 2005 with a peak speed of 26-teraflop/s (trillion calculations per second) and through a series of upgrades in the ensuing years gained 100 times the computational performance.
The upgrade of Jaguar XT5 to 37,376 six-core AMD Istanbul processors in 2009 increased performance 70 percent over that of its quad-core predecessor.
Researchers anticipate that this unprecedented growth in computing capacity may help facilitate improved climate predictions, fuel-efficient engine designs, better understandings of the origin of the universe and the underpinnings of health and disease, and creation of advanced materials for energy production, transmission, and storage.
Simulations on Jaguar have primarily focused on energy technologies and climate change resulting from global energy use.
Scientists have explored the causes and impacts of climate change, the enzymatic breakdown of cellulose to improve biofuels production, coal gasification processes to help industry design near-zero-emission plants, fuel combustion to aid development of engines that are clean and efficient, and radio waves that heat and control fuel in a fusion reactor.
“The early petascale results indicate that Jaguar will continue to accelerate the Department of Energy’s mission of breakthrough science,” said Jeff Nichols, ORNL’s associate laboratory director for computing and computational sciences.
“With increased computational capability, the scientific research community is able to obtain results faster, understand better the complexities involved, and provide critical information to policy-makers,” he added.
Equipped with unprecedented computer power, materials scientists can simulate superconducting materials and magnetic nanoparticles with greater realism.
Climate scientists can improve accuracy, resolution, and complexity of Earth system models, and physicists can simulate quarks and explore masses, decays, and other properties of the fundamental constituents of matter

Red power

Want to stay trim? Just eat lots of tomatoes, says a new study. Previous studies have shown tomatoes, rich in vitamin C, can help heart health, with regular helpings of ketchup and tomato juice sending cholesterol levels plummeting in a matter of weeks.

Now, a team at Reading University has found that eating the fruit leaves one feel satisfied, suppressing the urge to snack, and also help one shed the excess weight, the ‘Daily Mail’ reported. According to researchers, it could be because tomatoes are rich in compounds that alter levels of appetite hormones, making them an easy — and cheap — way to keep hunger pangs at bay. In fact, the study is based on findings from research into the benefits of enriching white bread with fruit as well as vegetables.

A small group of normal weight women aged between 18 and 35 were offered cream cheese sandwiches that had been made with either white bread or bread enriched with carrots or tomatoes. It was thought that the extra fibre provided by the carrot would make the carrot-bread lunches the most filling. Instead, the tomato bread was the most satisfying.

According to the researchers, further research will focus on whether eating tomatoes alters levels of appetite- regulating hormones, including ghrelin. A lower level of ghrelin makes people feel full. However, it is not known which part of the tomato dulls the appetite, but it may be lycopene, the pigment that gives tomatoes their red colour.

Lycopene is already credited with a host of health benefits, from warding off cancer to boosting fertility. It is thought to be particularly effective at combating prostate cancer, protecting against the disease and slowing its progress when it does develop

Is climate change real? Hackers expose research centre

CLIMATE CHANGE HACKED: A cyclist riding past the cooling tower of a coal-fired power plant. Hackers posted controvercial e-mails of climate change researchers on the Internet, sparking a fresh debate on whether human action is responsible for the phenomenon

Computer hackers have broken into a server at a well respected climate change research centre in Britain and posted hundreds of private e-mails and documents online stoking debate over whether some scientists have overstated the case for man-made climate change.

The University of East Anglia, in eastern England, said in a statement Saturday that the hackers had entered the server and stolen data at its Climatic Research Unit, a leading global research centre on climate change. The university said police are investigating the theft of the information, but could not confirm if all the materials posted online are genuine.

More than a decade of correspondence between leading British and U.S. scientists is included in about 1,000 e-mails and 3,000 documents posted on Web sites following the security breach last week.

Some climate change sceptics and bloggers claim the information shows scientists have overstated the case for global warming, and allege the documents contain proof that some researchers have attempted to manipulate data.

The furore over the leaked data comes weeks before the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen, when 192 nations will seek to reach a binding treaty to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases worldwide. Many officials including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon regard the prospects of a pact being sealed at the meeting as bleak.

In one leaked e-mail, the research centre’s director, Phil Jones, writes to colleagues about graphs showing climate statistics over the last millennium. He alludes to a technique used by a fellow scientist to “hide the decline” in recent global temperatures. Some evidence appears to show a halt in a rise of global temperatures from about 1960, but is contradicted by other evidence which appears to show a rise in temperatures is continuing.

Jones wrote that, in compiling new data, he had “just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i.e., from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline,” according to a leaked e-mail, which the author confirmed was genuine.

One of the colleague referred to by Jones Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University did not immediately respond to requests for comment via telephone and e-mail.

The use of the word “trick” by Jones has been seized on by sceptics who say his e-mail offers proof of collusion between scientists to distort evidence to support their assertion that human activity is influencing climate change.

“Words fail me,” Stephen McIntyre a blogger whose climateaudit.org Web site challenges popular thinking on climate change wrote on the site following the leak of the messages.

However, Jones denied manipulating evidence and insisted his comment had been taken out of context. “The word ‘trick’ was used here colloquially, as in a clever thing to do. It is ludicrous to suggest that it refers to anything untoward,” he said in a statement Saturday.

Jones did not indicate who “Keith” was in his e-mail. Two other American scientists named in leaked e-mails Gavin Schmidt of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and Kevin Trenberth, of the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research, in Colorado did not immediately return requests for comment.

The University of East Anglica said that information published on the Internet had been selected deliberately to undermine “the strong consensus that human activity is affecting the world’s climate in ways that are potentially dangerous.”

“The selective publication of some stolen e-mails and other papers taken out of context is mischievous and cannot be considered a genuine attempt to engage with this issue in a responsible way,” the university said in a statement.

Associated Press Writer Meera Selva in London contributed to this report

Airwaves can power plane, car batteries

Researchers are turning to airwaves to power batteries in airplanes and automobiles.
About half-inch by an inch in size, these devices might be mounted on the roof or tail of a car or on a plane fuselage where they would vibrate inside a flow, producing an output voltage.
The power generated would be enough to run a subsystem, such as batteries to charge control panels and mobile phones.
Led by Yiannis Andreopoulos, professor at the City College of New York (CCNY), researchers are attempting to optimise these peizo-electronic devices by modelling the physical forces to which they are subjected.
When the device is placed in the wake of a cylinder — such as on the back of a truck — the flow of air will cause the devices to vibrate in resonance, says Andreopoulos.
On the roof of car, they will shake in a much more unsteady flow known as a turbulent boundary layer, says a CCNY release.
“These devices open the possibility to continuously scavenge otherwise wasted energy from the environment,” says Andreopoulos.
These findings were presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics

Will hard disk drives soon be a thing of past?

A file picture of Chrome creators

Google believes that the Chrome OS will effectively act as a gateway to the web, allowing users to store their filed and documents on remote servers rather than storing in hard disks.

Ever imagined a computer system without a hard disk drive? Well, soon there will be such systems that will need just a few gigabytes of storage, allowing users to store their documents, photos and videos on remote servers through Internet.

At least, that seems the vision of Internet giant Google, which recently demonstrated its new operating system — Chrome OS.

The operating system, which Google believes will revolutionise computing, effectively acts as a gateway to the web, allowing users to store their filed and documents on remote servers rather than storing in hard disks.

Users can access their emails, documents or social networking sites by clicking on application tabs in the browser— like interface and use panels at the bottom of the desktop to send an instant message or view a video, The Telegraph reported.

Computers can boot up faster and get connected with web in just seven seconds through the operating system, termed the “cloud computing” approach, it said.

“We want Chrome to be blazingly fast,” said Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president of product management. “We want it to be like a TV — turn it on and it’s booted up.”

“Chrome will run only on computers that use flash memory solid state drives instead of conventional hard drives.”

“Over the past few years, people have been spending more and more of their time online doing more and more powerful things, and we wanted to build a fundamentally different computing experience built for the way we use the web today,” says Mr. Pichai.

“With Google Chrome OS, we’ve made computing faster, easier and safer than ever before.”

But some experts say Google could find it difficult to persuade consumers. Users will not be able to install their own software or applications on Chrome OS devices — so that means no iTunes, no Skype and no Tweetdeck.

“There’s no doubt that Chrome OS looks fast, but it’s fairly limited in terms of its functionality,” says Annette Jump, an analyst with Gartner. “A lot of work needs to be done to convince consumers that this operating system will be useful to them.”

Another problem Chrome OS faces is its reliance on always-on web connectivity, which might be possible in large cities, with good mobile phone network coverage and plenty of Wi—Fi hotspots, but in rural areas, or on a flight, Chrome will be hobbled.

Google has also released the code to the operating system in the hope that developers would build new products, services and applications, in much the same way as they build apps for the iPhone, or Google’s mobile phone operating system, Android.

Clicker.com aims to become Internet’s TV guide

Web surfing is becoming more like channel surfing as television shows, movies and music videos pour onto the Internet.

That’s why pointing people to their favourite TV episodes and flicks may be the next big opportunity in web navigation.

Former Ask.com CEO Jim Lanzone hopes to lead the way with Clicker.com, a free service debuting on Thursday.

Clicker scours through an index that includes 400,000 TV episodes, 50,000 music videos and roughly 30,000 movies that are part of Netflix’s streaming library or Amazon.com’s video store.

It will vie against at least two similar sites as well as video search services offered by Internet heavyweights Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL.

Six new films and good times ahead for cineastes


Threesome: A still from ‘Arya 2’.

HYDERABAD: For lovers of cinema, the next few weeks mean a lot of activity because six films are lined up for release. And big names associated with all of them.

They include a stylish Nagarjuna in ‘Rummy’, Allu Arjun in ‘Arya 2’ and NTR in a mass entertainer ‘Adurs’. Shekar Kammula will come out with his ‘Leader’, a socio-political film, while Madan, with ‘Pravarakhyudu’ starring Jagapati Babu is touted as ‘re-defining the understanding of love’.

Then there is Y.V.S. Chowdary’s ‘Saleem’. The business is valued at over a whopping Rs. 100 crore. ‘Arya 2’, a sequel to an earlier film, is slated for release on November 27, followed by ‘Pravarakhyudu’. Director Chowdary says ‘Saleem’ was showcased as a slick and snazzy film, while ‘Arya 2’ is all about finding love in its purest form, with hero Allu Arjun sporting a ‘classy look’, according to its director Sukumar.

NTR must have his fingers crossed, hoping that ‘Adurs’ will become a hit and shake the box office, repeating the Adikesava Reddy magic. Director V.V. Vinayak too has not tasted success for a while now and he must be desperate too. ‘Saleem’ stars Manchu Vishnu and produced by Manchu Mohan Babu. “Ileana really sizzles”, a fan says, of this very romantic love story.

There were several innovations in the promotion of this film with a Hyderabad city-centric stance too. People were bombarded with short messages on their phones and emails, not to talk of the filmmakers utilising ‘Facebook’ the social networking site to its best.

In Mr. Kammula’s ‘Leader’, people are waiting to see a tall debutant Rana Daggupati as the hero. Though it is produced under the prestigious AVM banner, it would not have generated attention in the print and electronic attention if it did not have the hotshot director of ‘Happy Days’ fame wielding the megaphone.

Interestingly, everyone associated with ‘Leader’ has been tight-lipped about what the film is all about. Only during the release of its music on Sunday, the director said it was a film with a political backdrop. “There will not be a single fight in the movie and yet there will be heroism, sans a single drop of blood”, he declared.

Daggupati’s ‘Leader’ is expected to compete with Akkineni’s ‘Rummy’ and people who know the industry well confirm that there will be some competition!

Don’t shy away from spine surgery

Spine surgery in the realm of medical care is poorly understood by many in the medical field and more so by the lay person. The picture of a patient paralysed after spine surgery is all too familiar. This picture is carried by many and further reinforced by well meaning, but ill informed friends and relatives, who are eager to offer medical advice.
Unfortunately, some of the medical providers also happen to convey the same message. It is imperative for the patients to be empowered with the knowledge of what’s fact and what’s myth, so they can choose the best option available.
Today, there are few spinal conditions that cannot be treated appropriately and safely with surgical and non-surgical means. Orthopaedic and neuro surgeons can undergo special training in spine surgery which is essential to be able to perform these treatments with safety and accuracy.
These are some of the prevalent myths about spine surgery:
* Never undergo spine surgery: When spine surgery is recommended, it is usually essential and urgent. It is seldom done as a cosmetic procedure.
* You get paralysed after surgery: Paralysis after spine surgery in experienced hands is extremely rare. For comparison, the risk of mortality in an accident is probably greater.
* It is better to bear the pain than have spine surgery: It is not fun being a martyr and if someone has significant pain, it can mostly be fixed with surgery with minimum risk. Besides, surgery is recommended for weakness and numbness, which if untreated can progress to full paralysis.
* Spine surgery should only be done as a last resort: In most instances, surgery is offered as a last resort after all options are tried, however, in some, time is of the essence and a delay can lead to irreversible consequences.
* Surgery never helps spine problems: On the contrary, in the right hands, spine surgery is just as successful as any other surgery.
* Surgery leaves large scars: With recent advances of minimally invasive, microscopic and laproscopic spine surgery, most major surgeries can be performed with small incisions and minimal risk, but this requires special training.
* You need a series of surgeries: The risk of revision surgery is no different in spine than any other surgery.
The prevalence of these myths leaves patients extremely vulnerable and at the mercy of fraudsters who are all too willing to offer magic treatments for a price. This leads them to financial disarray, which further compromises their appropriate treatment.
The writer, an alumnus of John Hopkins Hospital, is a consultant spine surgeon at Yashoda Hospital.

One in four ‘coma patients’ may be conscious

The doctor who discovered a Belgian patient presumed to have been in a deep coma for 23 years while being conscious all along has said the breakthrough highlights a ‘locked-in syndrome’.
The condition is described as one where patients are unable to show that they are conscious.
Steven Laureys, head of the Coma Science Group and neurology department at the University of Liege in Belgium, has this week spoken about a case where a car-crash victim was diagnosed as being in a coma for 23 years although he was conscious all along.
Rom Houben’s case was discovered three years ago with the help of new brain scanning technology that was not available at the time of his accident. He is able to communicate with the help of a computer and read books.
After a 16-month study of coma patients in the light of the Houben case, Laureys and his team found that 41 percent of those diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state showed signs of consciousness.
Many doctors were not aware of a new diagnosis of those who are “minimally conscious”, which reflects occasional signs of life such as eyebrow flickers.
The difference can determine whether life support machines are switched off or patients allowed to live.
“Misdiagnosis can lead to grave consequences, especially in the end-of-life decision-making,” Laureys said.
Laureys and his team examined 44 patients believed to be in a coma, and found that 18 of them responded to communication.
Laureys, a world expert in coma, said patients suspected of being in a non-reversible coma should be “tested 10 times” and that comas, like sleep, have different stages that need to be monitored.
Houben, now 46, could hear every word said around him but was unable to communicate the fact.
“I meditated – I dreamt myself away,” he told the German magazine Der Spiegel, adding: “I shall never forget the day when they discovered what was truly wrong with me – it was my second birth.”

Circumcision cuts HIV risk

Circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in men, but this link cannot be explained by a reduction in sores from conditions such as herpes, according to a new research.
Two clinical trials including more than 5,000 men in rural Uganda had shown that circumcision reduced the risk of HIV infection in men by about 60 per cent.
In further analyses of this data Ron Gray of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and colleagues investigated factors associated with that reduction in risk.
The specifically investigated whether infection with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes, and whether genital ulcers of any cause, could account for the lower rates of HIV infection in the circumcised study participants.
The researchers found that reduction in symptomatic genital ulcer disease accounted for only about 10 percent of the protective effect associated with circumcision, and did not find any consistent role for HSV-2 in counteracting protection.
The results indicate that most of the reduction in HIV acquisition provided by male circumcision may be explained by the removal of vulnerable foreskin tissue containing HIV target cells.
They also suggest that circumcision reduces genital ulcer disease primarily by reducing the rate of ulceration due to causes other than herpes, including sores caused by mild trauma during intercourse.
The study has been published in PLoS Medicine

Common pain relief drugs promote cancer growth

A new study has revealed that common pain relief medication such as morphine can actually encourage the growth and spread of cancer cells.
Opiate-based painkillers have been shown to stimulate cancer growth. Two new studies have shown how shielding lung cancer cells from opiates reduce cell proliferation, invasion and migration in both cell-culture and mouse models.
The researchers focussed on the mu opiate receptor, where morphine works, as a potential therapeutic target.
“If confirmed clinically, this could change how we do surgical anesthesia for our cancer patients,” said Dr Patrick A. Singleton, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Medical Center and principal author of both studies.
“It also suggests potential new applications for this novel class of drugs which should be explored,” he added.
A 2002 palliative-care trial showed that patients who received spinal rather than systemic pain relief survived longer. Soon after that, Singleton’s colleague, anesthesiologist Jonathan Moss, noticed that several cancer patients receiving a selective opiate blocker in a compassionate-use protocol lived longer than expected.
Moss’s palliative-care patients were taking methylnaltrexone (MNTX), developed in the 1980s for opiate-induced constipation by the late University of Chicago pharmacologist Leon Goldberg. He modified an established drug that blocks morphine so that it could no longer cross the protective barrier that surrounds the brain.
So MNTX blocks morphine’s peripheral side effects but does not interfere with its effect on pain, which is centered in the brain.
“These were patients with advanced cancer and a life expectancy of one to two months,” Moss recalled, “yet several lived for another five or six. It made us wonder whether this was just a consequence of better GI function or could there possibly be an effect on the tumours.”
The study was presented at “Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics,” a joint meeting in Boston of the American Association for Cancer Research, the National Cancer Institute, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer.

Bacteria vital for healthy skin

Bacteria living on the surface of the skin helps in maintaining its healthy texture, says a new study.
“These germs are actually good for us,” said Richard L. Gallo, professor of medicine and paediatrics, who also heads the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) dermatology division.
The study was done on mice and in human cell cultures, primarily performed by post-doctoral fellow Yu Ping Lai.
“The exciting implications of Lai’s work is that it provides a molecular basis to understand the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ and has uncovered elements of the wound repair response that were previously unknown,” said Gallo.
“This may help us devise new therapeutic approaches for inflammatory skin diseases,” he added.
The so-called hygiene hypothesis suggests that a lack of childhood exposure to infectious agents and germs increases our susceptibility to disease by changing how the immune system reacts to such bacterial invaders.
The hypothesis was first developed to explain why allergies like hay fever and eczema were less common in children from large families, who were presumably exposed to more infectious agents than others.
It is also used to explain the higher incidence of allergic diseases in industrialised countries, said an UCSD release.
The skin’s normal microflora – the microscopic and usually harmless bacteria that live on the skin – includes certain staphylococcal bacterial species that will induce an inflammatory response when they are introduced below the skin’s surface, but do not initiate inflammation when present on the epidermis, or outer layer of skin.
These findings were published online in Nature Medicine.