Thursday, September 20, 2007

Karunanidhi calls Lord Ram a 'drunkard'

The war of words over the Ram Setu degenerated into a bitter slander match on Thursday with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi calling Lord Ram a ‘drunkard’ and a ‘big lie’. Karunanidhi reacted with these bitter words after senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani on Thursday asked him to withdraw his statement about Ram, saying “people at the helm of affairs do not force contempt on others as far as religious affairs are concerned.”

“I want the Tamil Nadu CM to withdraw his statement about Ram. I respect Karunanidhi for being an atheist. But people at the helm of affairs do not force contempt on others as far as religious affairs are concerned,” Advani, the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, said.

He pointed out that even the PM was upset about the Ram Setu controversy.

Karunanidhi shot back in no time, saying he remains firm on his stand. “I will not withdraw my statement."

"Ram is as big a lie as big as the truth of the existence of the Ganges and the Himalayas," he said. The TN Chief Minister even went on to call Lord Ram a 'drunkard'.

"Even Valmiki has said that Ram was a drunkard. I urge Advani to get into a debate with me after reading Valmiki's Ramayana," Karunanidhi said.

In the wake of the Ram Setu controversy, Karunanidhi had described Lord Ram as a ‘mythical hero’ and vowed to not go back on the Sethusamudram project.

“Is there any proof of Ram having built the bridge, or that he had the engineering expertise… There was no person in the name of Ram. The story of Ram is authored by Valmiki in Ramayana. There are so many things that Valmiki has said about Ram," Karunanidhi said.

On Tuesday evening, Karunanidhi daughter Selvi's house in Bangalore was attacked by unidentified miscreants in a development that was seen as a fallout of his comments. Karunanidhi slammed the attackers, saying "they showed the culture of Ram Bhaktas (worshippers). I treat these things like a speck of dust. I welcome such opposition.”

''The Ram Sevaks have proved their culture. I reiterate what I had said. There is no historical proof that Rama existed or of the bridge been built,'' he said.

Advani, who was at Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu on Thursday, described DMK as the second 'destabilising force' in the UPA Government after the Left, and alleged that the party was making its own interpretations and issuing statements on the 'Ram Setu.'

“After the Left, the DMK had become the second destabilizing force in the government,” he said and demanded Karunanidhi to withdraw his remarks on Lord Ram and the Ramayana.

He also urged the Centre to fix ministerial responsibility on those who filed the affidavit on Ram Sethu and appropriately penalise them.

Predicting mid-term elections in early 2008, Advani told a press conference that he foresaw a ‘radical political change’ in the country after the next General Elections.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Zimbra Has Been Acquired by Yahoo For $350 million

Zimbra - The leader in open source messaging and collaboration has been acquired by Yahoo!

Read the message sent out by the CEO of Zimbra - Satish Dharmaraj here and the news announcement by Zimbra here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Bird brain Alex the parrot dies

Alex, a parrot that could count to six, identify colors and even express frustration with repetitive scientific trials, has died after 30 years of helping researchers better understand the avian brain. The cause of Alex's death was unknown. The African grey parrot's average life span is 50 years, Brandeis University scientist Irene Pepperberg said. Alex was discovered dead in his cage Friday, she said, but she waited to release the news until this week so grieving researchers could get over the shock and talk about it.

"It's devastating to lose an individual you've worked with pretty much every day for 30 years," Pepperberg told The Boston Globe. "Someone was working with him eight to 12 hours every day of his life."

Alex's advanced language and recognition skills revolutionized the understanding of the avian brain. After Pepperberg bought Alex from an animal shop in 1973, the parrot learned enough English to identify 50 objects, seven colors and five shapes. He could count up to six, including zero, was able to express desires, including his frustration with the repetitive research.

He also occasionally instructed two other parrots at the lab to "talk better" if they mumbled, though it wasn't clear whether he was simply mimicking researchers.

Alex hadn't reached his full cognitive potential and was demonstrating the ability to take distinct sounds from words he knew and combine them to form new words, Pepperberg said. Just last month, he pronounced the word "seven" for the first time.

The last time Pepperberg saw Alex was Thursday, she said. They went through their back-and-forth goodnight routine, which always varied slightly and in which she told him it was time to go in the cage.

She recalls the bird said: "You be good. I love you." She responded, "I love you, too." The bird said, "You'll be in tomorrow," and she responded, "Yes, I'll be in tomorrow."
Source: CNN

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Powerful quake hits Indonesia-tsunami warning for much of the Indian Ocean region

A powerful earthquake hit Indonesia on Wednesday, causing buildings to sway in at least four countries, and authorities issued a tsunami warning for much of the Indian Ocean region.

The undersea quake had a preliminary magnitude of 7.9 and hit at about 6:10 p.m. (7:10 a.m. EDT), the U.S. Geological Survey said. It was centered 65 miles southwest of Bengkulu, on Sumatra island, at a depth of 9.7 miles, the USGS said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for wide areas of the region.

"Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Indian Ocean Basin," it said, warning that waves could hit Indonesia and Australia within an hour, and Sri Lanka and India within three hours.

Residents in Bengkulu — where at least one building was demolished — said the quake triggered panic and that people ran inland.

"Everyone is running out of their houses in every direction," according to Wati Said, who spoke by cell phone standing outside her house. "We think our neighborhood is high enough. God willing, if the water comes, it will not touch us here."

"Communication is cut, we can't call out," she added. "I don't know how you contacted us. Everyone is afraid."

The temblor could also be felt in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, 375 miles away, where office workers streamed down the stairwells of tall, swaying buildings.

Some people in high-rises in neighboring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand also felt the quake.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

In December 2004, a massive earthquake struck off Sumatra island and triggered a tsunami that killed more than 230,000 people in a dozen countries, including 160,000 people in Indonesia's westernmost province of Aceh.

Source: Yahoo! News

Fastest Cars in the World

These are the fastest cars based on acceleration (in seconds) from 0 to 60 MPH.

2.6 - 1994 Dauer 962 LeMans
2.7 - 2000 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Concept
2.7 - 2000 Dodge Hennessey Viper Venom 800TT
2.7 - 1999 Leblanc Caroline
2.7 - 1993 Dauer 962 Le Mans
2.8 - 1996 Renault Espace F1
2.9 - 1991 Audi Avus Quattro
2.9 - 1997 Callaway C7 Corvette
2.9 - 1997 Dodge Viper GTS-R
3.0 - 2003 Bugatti 16/4 Veyron
3.1 - 2006 Mosler
3.1 - 1995 Ford GT-90
3.1 - 1993 Jaguar XJR-15
3.1 - 1998 Koenigsegg CC
3.1 - 1991 Lotec C1000
3.1 - 1991 McLaren F1
3.1 - 1995 Yamaha OX99-11
3.2 - 2002 Koenigsegg CC 8S
3.2 - 1992 Bugatti EB110 SS
3.2 - 1996 Quadraduce
3.3 - 1997 McLaren F1
3.3 - 2001 Saleen S7
3.3 - 1987 Vector Avtech WX3
3.4 - 1992 Bugatti EB110 GT
3.4 - 1985 Koenig Competition Evolution
3.4 - 1994 Schuppan 962CR
3.4 - 1987 Westfield SEI
3.4 - 1997 Dodge Viper Venom 600 GTS
3.5 - 2002 Pagani Zonda C12-S 7.3
3.5 - 2002 FERRARI ENZO
3.6 - 2002 Lamborghini Murciélago
3.6 - 2003 Ferrari Enzo
3.6 - 2001 Lamborghini Diablo
3.6 - 1997 Porsche 911 GT1
3.6 - 1987 Porsche 959
3.6 - 1997 RUF Porsche CTR-2
3.7 - 1991 BMW Nazca C2
3.7 - 1996 Ferrari F 50
3.7 - 1994 Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota
3.7 - 1996 Porsche 911 GT2
3.8 - 2003 Dodge Viper SRT-10
3.8 - 2000 Porsche 911 Turbo
3.8 - 1997 Campagna T-Rex
3.8 - 1992 Jaguar XJ220
3.8 - 1996 Lamborghini Diablo SV
3.8 - 1998 Lotus GT1
3.8 - 1994 Ultima Spyder
3.9 - 2006 Dodge Viper
3.9 - 2001 B. Engineering Edonis
3.9 - 2003 Viper SRT/10
3.9 - 1987 Ferrari F 40
4.0 - 2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
4.0 - 2000 Dodge Viper ACR Coupe
4.0 - 2001 Porsche Carrera GT
4.0 - 2003 Porsche 911 GT2
4.0 - 1993 Lamborghini Diablo SE30
4.1 - 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta
4.1 - 1990 BMW Nazca M12
4.1 - 1993 Lamborghini Diablo VT
4.1 - 1996 Lamborghini Diablo Roadster
4.2 - 2000 BMW Z8
4.2 - 2000 Ferrari 360 Modena
4.2 - 2002 Ferrari 575 M Maranello
4.2 - 1994 TVR Cerbera
4.2 - 1985 Vector W8 Twin Turbo
4.3 - 2003 Porsche 911 GT3
4.3 - 1996 Bugatti EB112
4.4 - 2002 Aston Martin Vanquish
4.4 - 2002 Lotus Esprit V8
4.4 - 1988 Cizeta Moroder V16T
4.4 - 1997 Dodge Viper GTS
4.4 - 1997 Gillet Vertigo
4.4 - 1996 Mega Monté Carlo
4.4 - 1996 Porsche 911 Turbo
4.4 - 1996 Spectre R42
4.4 - 1990 TVR Griffith
4.4 - 1996 Vector Aeromotive M12
4.5 - 2003 z06 Corvette
4.6 - 1996 Dodge Viper RT/10
4.6 - 1994 Ferrari F 512 M
4.6 - 1996 Ferrari F 355 GTS
4.6 - 1996 Ferrari F 355 Spider
4.6 - 1982 Lamborghini Countach
4.7 - 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL600
4.7 - 1992 Aston Martin Vantage
4.7 - 1996 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
4.7 - 1997 Ferrari F 550 Maranello
4.7 - 1985 Isdera Commendatore
4.7 - 1996 Lotus Esprit S4S
4.7 - 1997 Rinspeed Mono Ego
4.8 - 1997 Chevrolet Corvette C5
4.8 - 1996 Lotus Esprit V8
4.8 - 1997 Panoz Roadster
4.9 - 2002 Acura NSX
4.9 - 1994 Chaterham Seven HPC
4.9 - 1989 De Tomaso Guara
4.9 - 1996 Ferrari F 355 Berlinetta
4.9 - 1996 Ford Mustang Saleen S351
4.9 - 1997 Italdesign Scighera


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New bin Laden video surfaces

A new video purportedly featuring an introduction from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was released Tuesday -- the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Although the authenticity of the video could not be confirmed, it did feature the logo of As-Sahab Media, the company that traditionally handles al Qaeda communications to the public. The 47-minute videotape was obtained by terrorism expert Laura Mansfield before it was to appear on several Islamist Web sites known for carrying statements from al Qaeda and other radical groups.

In the 14-minute introduction to the video, a voice identified as bin Laden praises 9/11 hijacker Waleed al-Shehri, from Saudi Arabia, who sat in seat 2B on American Airlines Flight 11, which crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center. The voice speaking in Arabic is heard over a still picture of bin Laden and contains English subtitles.

The balance of the recording is a video will read by al-Shehri, with 9/11 symbols in the background. He is the seventh of the 19 hijackers to appear in such a will since the terrorist attacks. The voice and picture in the video sound and appear similar to a bin Laden video released late last week. There is no indication that any part of the video was recorded recently. The only element tying it to somewhat-current events is in the introduction and the mention of the death of al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed during a U.S. raid in June 2006.

For several weeks, radical Islamist Web sites have been announcing that there would be "good news soon from Sheikh Osama bin Laden."

Source: CNN

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Ten years after her death, Mother Teresa's legacy lives on

The destitute and the diseased still gather outside MotherTeresa's clinics in this sprawling city in eastern India, where the ethnic Albanian nun, known simply as ''Mother'', dedicated her life to helping the poorest of the poor. Mother Teresa died 10 years ago on a Wednesday, and many of those who rely on her order, the Missionaries of Charity, never met the tiny, frail woman who became a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a global icon of selflessness and devotion.

But they love her just the same and her name, and her legacy, still provide inspiration, comfort and care, said volunteers as well as those who receive food, shelter, medicine, comfort and more from her group. Gopal Das, 50, was living on the streets with a malignant stomach tumor, and Ninandath, who goes by one name, had a festering leg wound when Missionaries of Charity sisters found them. 'We would have been dead if the sisters had not brought us here' said Das. He was staying at Nirmal Hriday, or ''Pure Heart,'' the first of the many clinics that MotherTeresa opened in Calcutta's ramshackle neighborhoods during her nearly seven decades in India.

Moon Moon Mondal, 17, was raised there because her parents couldn't afford to keep her at home. She thanks the nuns for taking care of her when no one else would and, just as importantly, for giving her an education and training so she could find a job and look after herself. She returns most days to visit her brother and sister, who still live at the center, and to see the nuns.

Mother Teresa came to Calcutta in 1929 as Sister Teresa after she said she heard a call from God to serve the poorest of the poor. She set up schools for street children and medical clinics for slum-dwellers.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Ultra thin, flexible 'paper' battery by Rensselaer boffins

Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed an ultra thin, lightweight and completely flexible battery that could be easily mistaken for a simple sheet of black paper.

The nanoengineered device is capable of functioning in temperatures up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and down to 100 below zero, and furthermore, it is completely integrated and can be printed like paper.

"We used ionic liquid, essentially a liquid salt, as the battery's electrolyte. It's important to note that ionic liquid contains no water, which means there's nothing in the batteries to freeze or evaporate. This lack of water allows the paper energy storage devices to withstand extreme temperatures," said postdoctoral research associate Ashavani Kumar.

According to its inventors, the device is also unique in the sense that it can function as both a high-energy battery and a high-power supercapacitor, which are generally separate components in most electrical systems.

Another key feature is capability to use human blood or sweat to help power the battery, they said.

For creating this battery, the scientists infused paper with aligned carbon nanotubes, which gave the device its black colour. The nanotubes act as electrodes and allow the storage devices to conduct electricity.

According to co-author Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering at Rensselaer, the device is engineered to function as both a lithium-ion battery and a supercapacitor, and can provide the long, steady power output comparable to a conventional battery, as well as a supercapacitor's quick burst of high energy.

The device can also be rolled, twisted, folded, or cut into any number of shapes with no loss of mechanical integrity or efficiency. The paper batteries can be stacked, like a ream of printer paper, to boost the total power output, he said.

"It's essentially a regular piece of paper, but it's made in a very intelligent way. We're not putting pieces together - it's a single, integrated device. The components are molecularly attached to each other: the carbon nanotube print is embedded in the paper, and the electrolyte is soaked into the paper. The end result is a device that looks, feels, and weighs the same as paper," said Prof. Linhardt.

Prof. Linhardt said the paper batteries' light weight could make them ideal for use in small handheld electronic gadgets, implantable medical equipment, automobiles, aircraft, and even boats.

The paper could also be moulded into different shapes, such as a car door, which would enable important new engineering innovations, he said.

These apart, the battery, is also extremely biocompatible and the high paper content and lack of toxic chemicals makes it environmentally safe, said postdoctoral research associate Shaijumon M. Manikoth.

Though the materials required to create the paper batteries are inexpensive, the team has not yet developed a way to inexpensively mass-produce the devices.

"The end goal is to print the paper using a roll-to-roll system similar to how newspapers are printed," said postdoctoral research associate Saravanababu Murugesan.

"When we get this technology down, we'll basically have the ability to print batteries and print supercapacitors. We see this as a technology that's just right for the current energy market, as well as the electronics industry, which is always looking for smaller, lighter power sources. Our device could make its way into any number of different applications," said Pulickel M. Ajayan, professor of materials science and engineering at Rensselaer.

Details of the project are outlined in the paper "Flexible Energy Storage Devices Based on Nanocomposite Paper" published Aug. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

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