Politics & the Nation
  • Why is guarding our borders a challenge?
    • Today, India is ringed by turbulent states -- Pakistan (land boundary with India 3,310 km in the northwest), Nepal (land boundary with India 1,751 km in the north), Bangladesh (land boundary with India 4,095 km in the southeast) and Myanmar (land boundary with India 1,463 km in the northeast).
    • That's a whopping 10,619 km of border to be guarded!  If you add the 3440 km border with China, what have you?  The fact that terrorists have perfected the art of infiltration, aided and abetted by state or non-state actors in our neighbourhood makes it a very complex task indeed.
Science & Technology
  • Bar codes to store video!
    • Can a song be 'downloaded' from a bar code printed on paper?
    • Researchers at the Edith Cowan University say so.  They say that this is possible with mobile phones that are equipped with a camera.  When such mobile actually scan the bar code -- Mobile Multi-Colour Composite (MMCC) 2D-Barcode -- that is printed on a paper, they will actually be 'downloading' a video or audio that is stored in the bar code.  
    • The MMCC is a colour two-dimensional barcode designed for storing high capacity data on printed media and displays, tailor made for camera mobile phone applications.  Using the MMCC, the user can retrieve digital content to their camera mobile phone directly from the barcode by capturing an image of the barcode and decoding it on their mobile.
    • Confused?  The trick appears to be the encoding of information that goes into the MMCC at the time it is printed.  Once the mobile phone scans the image, a decoding software that it possesses, can reveal the information.  This information can be anything -- voice, video, text, image etc. 
  • Research on mind reading
    • Read this interesting report.
    • Researchers at University College, London say that it is possible to read one's mind and tell whether that person is telling the truth.
    • Their research focused on an area of the brain called hippocampus, that is vital to navigation, memory recall and imagining future events.  The scientists measured blood flow related to neural activity going on there at the time the subjects were experiencing a virtual reality walk.  From these blood flow measurements, they were able to detect patterns which reflected the participants' memories.  In other words, they could read the participants' spatial memories.
    • Reportedly in about 10 years, this technique may be perfected to read human thoughts.
  • Bernie Madoff pleads guilty
    • We have noted about him a couple of times earlier in our blog.
    • He pleaded guilty to all the 11 counts of charges levelled against him by the prosecutors.
    • Because Madoff pleaded guilty as charged, without any kind of deal with prosecutors, he is under no obligation to cooperate with them. As a result, some legal experts and others have speculated that he is sacrificing himself to protect his wife, his family and friends.
    • Prosecutors gave assurances they are investigating Madoff's wife and other family members and employees to determine what role, if any, they played in the scam.
    • The 70-year-old financier who was once chairman of the Nasdaq exchange will be sentenced June 16 on 11 counts, including securities fraud and perjury. He could also be fined and ordered to pay restitution to his victims and forfeit any ill-gotten gains.
    • What is most notable about this whole affair is the speed with which the American judicial/prosecution system was able to bring him to justice.  The $65 bn scandal broke out in December.  He pleads guilty before the expiry of the third month!  Can we ever, in India, expect such speedy justice?
  • What is Anergia?
    • It is a heart condition on which researchers started shedding light of late.
    • Anergia, or lack of energy, is a newly delineated, criterion-based geriatric syndrome that is often overlooked or dismissed by doctors and patients alike as simply a natural tiredness associated with "old age".
    • Studies showed that anergia may stem from many conditions, including heart and kidney dysfunction, arthritis, lung disease, anaemia and depression.
  • The relation between blood pressure and kidneys
    • Kidneys are responsible for the genesis and maintenance of blood pressure. An enzyme called renin maintains normal blood pressure and the kidney's ability to balance salt and water level in the body. When one of them is deranged, an individual gets high blood pressure.
Language lessons:
  • dapper: adjective
    • Marked by up-to-dateness in dress and manners
  • slake: verb
    • satisfy (thirst)
  • bilk: verb
    • Cheat somebody out of what is due, especially money
    • Hinder or prevent (the efforts, plans, or desires) of
    • Evade payment to
    • Escape, either physically or mentally