Each pound at birth lowers risk of TB

The more a newborn weighs, the better its chances of being protected from tuberculosis (TB), according to a new study that says that every pound decreases the risk of developing the disease later in life.

University of Michigan (U-M) researchers looked at how much protection additional birth weight adds against developing TB years later.

They found that every 1.1 pound of birth weight decreases the risk of developing TB later by 46 percent among identical twins.

The findings are important because TB infects about a third of the planet’s population, and is second only to HIV in deaths caused by a single infection.

The link between birth weight and developing TB is much stronger for males than females, who are only about 16 percent less likely to develop TB for every 1.1 pound (500 grams) of birth weight, said Eduardo Villamor, study author.

Villamor, associate professor at the U-M School of Public Health, said the risk decreased by 87 percent for infant males with each pound.

Low birth weight of babies is a larger problem in developing countries, but it occurs everywhere, he said, according to a U-M release.

Villamor worked with colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and began the research while at Harvard.

The study is slated for publication in the February edition of Infectious Disease.

Nine facts about fitness

Experts have examined latest evidence and exploded some myths from several studies to put together benefits of exercise on the heart and circulation, as well as on almost every other system of the body.

Simon Marshall, a specialist in exercise and sports psychology at San Diego State University in California, furthered the fact that how getting fit helps prevent diseases such as stroke, cancer, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, osteoporosis and even brain conditions.

“We haven’t done a great job of distilling down a large number of studies and say what this means for the average person who’s trying to get in shape,” News Scientist quoted Marshall as saying.

The magazine laid out its observations after screening nine articles.

1. What counts as exercise?

The standard advice is we should aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise. The tricky question here is what “moderate” means.

Gauging the intensity of an activity by measuring how fast it makes your heart beat is old hat. These days, metabolic rate is the preferred measure. It is usually represented in units known as the metabolic equivalent, or MET. This is the metabolic rate during the activity in question divided by the rate when sitting doing nothing. Moderate exercise is defined as anything that clocks up between 3 and 6 METs.

2. How much and how often?

Half-an-hour of moderate-intensity exercise at least five days a week used to be the required regime to keep fit. Now the consensus is that exercise doesn’t have to be portioned out in daily doses. If you aim for 150 minutes per week you can divide it up however you like.

3. How do you know if you’re getting fit?

“Fitness” can refer to a number of attributes, including muscle strength and flexibility, but is usually used to refer to aerobic fitness, also known as cardio-respiratory or cardiovascular fitness.

4. Is pumping iron really necessary?

Several studies have suggested a link between muscle strength and living longer, but for a long time it was unclear whether other factors were confusing the picture. People who are muscular are more likely to be thin, aerobically fit and generally healthy – all features known to extend lifespan.

5. Can jogging kill you?

The risk of a heart attack does rise during vigorous exercise like jogging or shovelling snow. But the extent of the rise depends heavily on how accustomed you are to that exercise.

6. Is getting fit easier for some people?

While physical activity is an essential part of getting fit, it’s not the whole story. An individual’s fitness level also depends on how they respond to that activity, which is largely determined by their genes.

7. Can you be fat and fit?

No one denies that there is a negative correlation between weight and aerobic fitness: overweight people tend, as a group, to be less fit. This is partly because a sedentary lifestyle contributes to weight gain, and partly because fat people may feel discouraged from taking exercise. It can be a vicious circle.

8. Do you need to ‘push fluids’?

Everyone knows the importance of keeping hydrated. Whether it’s a water bottle or a sports drink, athletes and gym bunnies are rarely seen without a source of fluid close at hand. Common advice is to deliberately drink beyond what thirst dictates, or “push fluids”, to combat dehydration and keep performance up to scratch.

9. What if you get injured?

Pulled muscles and twisted ankles are the downside of sports and exercise. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to rest an injury, see a doctor or even push on through the pain.

Sony makes eco-friendly mini laptop

Sony unveiled a mini notebook computer aimed at the hearts of environmentalists.

 Vaio W Series notebooks have chassis made of plastic consisting of about 20 per cent recycled compact disks and will be shipped in a “stylish reusable” carrying cases made from recycled plastic bottles.

 “The W series is so green it doesn’t have a printed manual,” Sony president Stan Glasgow said while unveiling the line at the Consumer Electronics Show taking place in Las Vegas.

 “Sony is out to lower the power consumption of products and greenhouse gas emissions at its facilities.”

 Vaio W series machines were billed by Sony as ideal “secondary” personal computers for light tasks, Internet browsing, and online social networking.

 The notebooks have high-definition, 10.1-inch screens and hard drives with 250 gigabytes of storage. Vaio W notebooks come in “sugar white” but the interiors are, naturally, green.

 Vaio W notebooks were available for pre-order online yesterday at sony.com/pr/wseries at prices starting at $ 450.

A smart idea to supply power

The solution could be installation of “smart grids,” which will store excess energy whenever there is surplus and distribute it when required using information technology in power transmission and distribution networks.

A fundamental idea taught to electrical engineering students is that energy may be stored, but not power. And this has been seen as a primary obstacle to ensuring sufficient peak power supply, even when the installed power capacity can easily handle non-peak conditions.

The solution could be installation of “smart grids,” which will store excess energy whenever there is surplus and distribute it when required using information technology in power transmission and distribution networks.

A team of five, including the present and past students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, on Thursday won a business plan competition in New York, with their idea for powering large networks using their software.

Midhun Saleem, a final B. Tech (electrical engineering) student, who worked on the software as part of his project, says the team’s product ‘XEstor’ uses algorithms to store various battery parameters and interfaces with the grid to control the amount of energy supplied and stored in the network.

Saleem, Kaushik Anand, Ashish Dattani, Sriram Kalyanaraman and Vinay Shankar B.K. shared the $20,000 prize. They will set up shop in New York next year with funding from venture capitalists to commercialise their product. “We got the idea from a White Paper published by Cisco. We thought we could use the interface I was developing for my B. Tech project as our entry to the competition,” Saleem said.

The smart grid projects, for which U.S. President Obama has provided $3.4 billion as part of a stimulus package for the U.S. economy, remains largely on paper, mainly because of the complexity involved in controlling flows across huge power grids in the cities of the world. Many companies have started implementing ideas to save millions of dollars for consumers and to forestall blackouts.

So while the team will start working from its office in the Big Apple, in the long-term it is power-starved countries like India that will benefit from the “smart grid” idea.

IPL live on YouTube, no problem says Sony

In yet another audacious move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has signed a two-year exclusive deal with Internet giant Google for live streaming of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches across the world. The matches will be telecast on its popular user-generated content platform, YouTube. This is the first time a sporting event will be telecast live on the Internet.

Besides the live videos, YouTube users will have the option to see the matches the way they want through features such as the ability to choose one’s own camera positions, freezing or fast forwarding the stream, access to an archive function that allows the replay of past shots and also, a feature called Fan Feed that will give them access to entertainment around the event.

“The basic structure of the relationship is that we will place IPL live matches in this season and the next on YouTube,” said Shailesh Rao, managing director, Google India. “We will also make available on-demand broadcast, clipping, videos and so on. We will do all of this on a global basis so that users from around the world can enjoy cricket,” he said in an announcement made in Mumbai today.

In India, IPL has an exclusive 10-year broadcast deal, signed for a whopping $1.26 billion, with Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, the network that runs channels such as Sony Entertainment and Max. The matches are shown live on its movies and events channel Max.

The deal with Google, though, has not been signed for a pre-determined fee. It is, instead, a revenue-sharing arrangement under which Google will share a certain percentage of the revenue it generates with the BCCI.

Globally, YouTube has 400 million unique viewers and the Indian market comprises only 10 million of this user set. The average global traffic the site gets every day, however, is around 1 billion. In comparison, Max claims to have had 102 million and 125 million unique viewers for IPL’s first and second season, respectively. “Our cumulative reach is around 400 million,” said Sneha Rajani, executive vice president and business head, Max.

Unique viewers is a term used to denote the net number of individuals tuning in to a platform whereas the cumulative reach denotes the number of times the unique viewers visit the platform.

Rajani said the deal with Google will not impact Max’s viewership or even the advertising potential because the target universe of both the platforms is mutually exclusive. “In India, the number of people having access to broadband is limited. Also, the service that is available is patchy and may not be able to support three-hours live video streaming. Besides, the number of YouTube users is also small here. So it won’t dent our loyal viewership set.”

“Likewise, our advertisers will continue to be with us because of the mass access to people we can provide,” she said.

IPL chairman Lalit Modi said the idea behind the deal was to take IPL to the global audiences. “Distribution is key for any property. While last year, IPL’s stint at South Africa made it achieve the status of a global event, through this deal with Google we can now take this event to the global audience.”

To monetise the acquisition, Google is also primarily looking at advertisers and is talking to various advertisers in big cricket markets such as India, Australia, the UK and the US. While exploring global deals, it said it will also look at country-specific advertisers to focus on one particular territory.

Parminder Singh, business head, Google India, said: “We believe that there will be three different categories of advertisers who would look at this. One, who already have IPL as an important part of their brand strategy because with YouTube, they will have access to a new medium. Two, advertisers who have been wanting to associate with IPL but due to several reasons, such as budgets, were not able to do that. And thirdly, the advertisers who are focused on the Internet.”

‘Expired’ Tear gas shells in Hyderabad: SHRC

Hyderabad Police Commissioner A K Khan faces piquant situation immediately after assuming office with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) asking him for a report on the alleged use of teargas shells ”beyond their expiry date” on the students at the Osmania University campus.

A Group of Civil Right activists had petitioned SHRC alleging that the police on Wednesday had fired ”expired” teargas shells and rubber bullets on the processionists carrying the body of Venugopal Reddy, who had allegedly self-immolated to push the separate Telangana demand.

The activists told the SHRC that using teargas shells more than a year after its expiry date could be ”lethal’ and demanded action against the police.

SHRC Chairman B Subhashan Reddy, taking the tear gas shells and rubber bullets presented by the petitioner as a possible piece of evidence, issued notice to the Police Commissioner yesterday asking for a detailed report of the January 20 incident.

He also directed to provide adequate medical treatment to the injured students who were hospitalised.

The Police Commissioner, however, reacting to the SHRC notice disclaimed that use of tear gas shells beyond its expiry date was lethal. ”We had been using (tear gas shells) even after 10 years (after the expiry date) and their is no scientific evidence that these could be poisonous or harmful chemicals,” he told reporters here.

Violence would only delay solution to Telangana issue: Law minister

With fresh violence over Telangana statehood in Andhra Pradesh, Congress today indicated if things failed to normalise early, it would delay a solution to the vexed issue.

The party also said a solution to a complex issue like Telangana could not be encapsulated in a timeframe.

“I think there is no need to precipitate things. By precipitating things, you cannot divide a state,” Union law minister M Veerappa Moily, who is in charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh, said here.

He said it was agreed that some mechanism will have to be created.

“It is under serious consideration of the government of India. In fact, everybody was called here. Certain incidents should not ignite and ultimately it will make the entire process delayed,” he added.

His remarks came a day after the party appealed for calm and normalcy but refused to say whether any mechanism for creation of Telangana will be announced by January 28, a deadline set by those agitating for the separate state.

“Don’t try to encapsulate as important and as intricate a problem like Telangana in a time-frame….in a straightjacket of deadlines,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters adding no “quick fix” or “magic button” solution could be expected on this issue.

Violence had erupted at Osmania University campus in Hyderabad over the police refusal to allow students to stage a march with the body of a youth who committed suicide apparently due to delay in formation of Telangana.