Saturday, 30 April, 2011

Which "gut type" do you have, and what does it say about you?

We all have flourishing bacterial ecosystems in our intestines filled with thousands of microbes. But these gut ecosystems only come in three types. And the type you have may influence the kind of life you lead.

Bacteria are a crucial part of human digestion. Hundreds of billions of them live in our stomachs and intestines, many helping us digest food. With the many different kinds of bacteria, and the many different types and habits of people, it would seem like each stomach and intestines would be unique - a less poetic metaphor for human individuality than a snowflake, but a more apt one. This, however, is not the case. We're far more uniform inside than we are outside. Human gut bacteria ecosystems fall into three different types: Bacteroides, Prevotella and Ruminococcus, each named for the bacteria that rules the roost.

Scientists believe that the reason for this conformity is that our guts can only configure themselves into a limited number of habitats for bacteria. In one habitat, one type of bacteria can dominate - in another, they are forced into a more niche group. Three different gut types is all that humanity can muster.

The ruling bacteria may influence our bodies, too. Gut types have been associated with different physical and medical conditions in people. A recent study found some bacteria process food more efficiently than others - this leaves more calories for their human hosts, and so they may have trouble losing weight. Another study found a correlation between certain bacterial strains and diabetes.

So do our stomachs create us or do we create them? Scientists aren't sure yet. All they've found is correlation - with no word on cause. They also don't know if people could change their gut ecosystems through diet, exercise, or medication.

Friday, 29 April, 2011

The most disgusting flower in the world is about to bloom

The amorphophallus titanum has perhaps the least charming nickname of any flower: it's known as the corpse flower because it smells like rotting flesh. And yet its latest bloom this weekend is expected to bring over 10,000 eager admirers.

It's a generally remarkable flower, standing well over six feet tall, and this particular one has been steadily growing more than two inches a day since it first emerged from the soil in March. Switzerland's Basel Botanical Gardens is the latest to bring the flower to bloom in captivity, the first time in 75 years the country has seen such a bloom. In fact, there have been just 134 recorded artificial blooms since the first one in 1889, making the corpse flower a relatively rare treat - if you can call the smell of rotting flesh a "treat" - for botany enthusiasts.

The species is native to the tropical rainforests of Sumatra, and any attempts to make the flower bloom in captivity require precise simulation of its natural humid climate. Even then, it's rare for the plant to grow and blossom, whether it's in the wild or in a greenhouse. Its corpse-like odor is thought to attract certain insects for pollination purposes.

Thursday, 28 April, 2011

The physics of bubble bath

Why does soapy water bubble up in baths and dishwashers, while regular water stays flat? It's all connected to the foam in root beer.

Everyone knows that, when the bubble solution runs out, there's a quick fix. Just put a little dish soap in the jar, add a little soap, de-slime the wand so it doesn't fall out of a kid's chubby fingers, and start all over again. Although regular water is drinkable, only soapy water makes bubbles. But why? What is it about soap that makes the water suds-up? In fact, what makes water-based liquids bubble up in general?

The origin of soapy water's bubbling ability is the same as the origin as soap's cleaning ability. It's a surfactant. A surfactant is something that lowers the surface tension and cohesion of water - the properties of water that make one water molecule stick to another water molecule. These allow water molecules to interact more strongly with other molecules like dirt and grime - lifting them away when regular water won't do the job.

Regular water can form bubbles, or course, but only when a lot of air (or some other gas) is mixed into it harshly. Even then, these bubbles tend to only be half-bubbles, floating on the surface of the water. Any attempt to plump them up further generally results in the bubble breaking. This is because of the high surface tension of the water. The layer of water molecules need to pull together enough to keep the bubble of air trapped inside them from pushing free. If they pull together too much, though, they rip the bubble apart. Soap lowers the surface tension of water enough to let it relax around a bubble.

Soap isn't the only material to use surfactants. Some commercial root beers do, to make the root beer foamy enough to have a 'head' like regular beer. Note: The surfactant that root beer manufacturers uses probably isn't soap. Probably.

Wednesday, 27 April, 2011

Obama Is Sending Predator Drones to Libya

Robert Gates, the US Secretary of Defense, just said that Obama has authorized the use of of Predator Drones in Libya against Gaddafi's forces. In fact, the first mission of the Predator Drones in Libya had taken place earlier this week.

They've already used drones for gathering intelligence in Libya, but sending in Drones armed with Hellfire missiles would mark a significant growth in USA's contribution to the now NATO led effort in Libya. These unmanned predator drones pack a punch but more importantly mean that by sending these drones, USA is not sending its troops there. Hopefully, that won't change.

Tuesday, 26 April, 2011

FDA Gives Robots Permission to Sew Hair On Your Scalp

Balding sucks. But will you trust the machines to repair your scalp? The FDA does, which is why they approved this piece of robotery to perform hair transplants. It's name is ARTAS, and it lives in your dermatologist's office.

If you have straight hair that's brown or black and you want more if it, you can sit in ARTAS' lap, at which point it will massage your scalp (along with a few "dermal punches" thrown in for good measure). A year later, you'll have a scalp full of healthy hair, or so the story goes. But if we can't trust a robot to throw a damn baseball, should we trust them with our precious hair?

Monday, 25 April, 2011

Mumbai surgeons perform knee surgery replacements using an iPod touch

The newest winner in the "there's an app for that" sweepstakes has to go to the DASH app and its supporting system. It's putting the iPod touch at the heart of a system that allows surgeons to make it easier to do hip and knee replacement surgery. This medical system, developed by Smith & Nephew along with Brainlab, has allowed doctors at the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai to effectively perform three knee replacement surgeries.

The system comes in a rolling box with a precision camera and everything needed to take exact measurements and landmark registrations critical to such an operation. The iPod touch is slipped into a case and the software does the measuring and computing. Without this assistance, highly trained surgeons would have to "eyeball" measurements that the DASH does for them. This is said to reduce the learning curve and, at least in India, lessens the certification process for surgeons performing replacement procedures. Operating times are also reduced. This system is currently awaiting FDA approval in the US.

You can download the free DASH iOS app, which provides movies covering specific functions and operations of the DASH system, or watch the remarkable video on the next page that demonstrates the entire process.

Sunday, 24 April, 2011

French Skiers Parachute off Cliff to Avoid Avalanche

TWO BIG CAVEATS HERE: This video is an advertisement for GoPro. It also might be a fake viral video, because 99.99% of everything on the internet is a fake viral video. With that in mind, this is still awesome. AVALANCHE!

Saturday, 23 April, 2011

This Stripper Broke Into Google Headquarters

Strippers are people too! And just like people, some of them are batshit crazy. Take Vera Svechina

, a stripper who recently followed a blind Google employee into Google headquarters to leave a Russian book and "non-threatening" note for co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. A little weird, no? Turns out, Svechina has a bizarre history with Silicon Valley.

The Business Insider reported on how she allegedly stalked Mark Pincus, CEO of Zynga, so much and threatened his family that he had to file a restraining order. Her voicemails, emails and blog posts were filled with borderline insane behavior, such as:

Svechina allegedly says many bizarre things, including that Zynga was her Russian family's idea, that Google's cofounders killed her father, that Pincus's children are "ugly babies" and that "I wish them all the worst." She also goes after Steve Jobs.

Even nuttier? Back in May 2010, she went to the Mountain View Police Deparment to report Google of a crime. The crime? That Google was sending messages to her brain, ordering her to kill herself. Come on, Google is at least two to twenty years away from developing that sort of technology.

Bad jokes aside, hopefully Vera Svechina can find the professional help that she seems to need.

Thursday, 21 April, 2011

Three-parent IVF needs more research, review says

More research is needed into a controversial fertility treatment, known as three-parent IVF, before it can be considered safe for clinical use, a review has concluded.

Mitochondrial transfer aims to replace a faulty part of a mother's egg with healthy material from a donor.

This means a baby would have a small amount of the donor's genetic material, and therefore three biological parents.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) carried out the study.

The HFEA is the UK's independent fertility treatment regulator and its conclusions are published in a scientific review of the technique commissioned by the Department for Health.

Inherited disorders
The proposed treatment is designed to help families with rare inherited disorders.

These disorders are due to faulty energy-generating components of cells called mitochondria. Mothers carrying these faulty mitochondria in their eggs are at risk of having children with the inherited disorder.

Under the transfer treatment, the idea is to replace the faulty mitochondria in the eggs or fertilised embryos with those from eggs or early embryos from a healthy, unaffected donor.

The hope is these methods will enable couples to have healthy children and eliminate the disease for subsequent generations, but the technique is controversial because mitochondria carry their own genetic material (DNA).

Although this is very small and only carries a few genes, the resulting child will have this genetic material from the donor, in addition to the majority of maternally- and paternally-inherited genes present, in the nucleus of the cell.

The scientific review has concluded the two main ways of carrying out mitochondrial transplants appear safe, but a little more research is needed before it can be tried out on people.

Legislation call
Medical charities and research organisations are to press the government to prepare the legislation that would make this procedure legal so the technique can be used in the clinic as soon as it gets the go-ahead from the research community.

Dr Evan Harris, who campaigns for medical research, said: "Without regulations making clinical work legal, it will be difficult to ensure the laboratory research is funded and done in this country and that trials on affected families can be planned.

"Until the government makes clinical research and eventual treatment legal, subject to strict regulation on safety, this country risks losing its world-leading status."

Dr Harris argued for the legalisation of mitochondrial transplantation during the passage of the 2008 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act when he was science spokesman for the Liberal Democrats.

He has now called on the government to provide a timetable for consultation and the publication of the regulations.

The report, called scientific review of the safety and efficacy of methods to avoid mitochondrial disease through assisted conception, examines three approaches to treating mitochondrial disorders.

The first, which is permitted under current regulations, is known as pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.

This involves testing very early stage embryos from the affected couple and implanting only those that seem unaffected by the genetic disorder.

The report authors concluded the technique was unreliable for some disorders and could not guarantee the resulting child would be healthy.

Pro-life groups
The two other techniques are not permitted and would require a change in legislation for its use in the clinic.

Research on human embryonic material however is permitted, provided it is not implanted into a woman's womb.

One technique, known as maternal spindle transfer, involves transplanting the nuclear genetic material (in the form of chromosomes) from an unfertilised egg carrying the abnormal mitochondria obtained from the "patient" (the mother) into an empty donor egg, which is then fertilised.

The other, known as pro-nuclear transfer, involves transplanting the genetic material from a fertilised egg from the patient into a healthy "empty" fertilised egg from a donor, which has had its nuclear genetic material removed.

Some pro-life groups object more to this technique as it involves the creation and destruction of embryos.

Experiments with monkeys and work with embryonic material show promise.

But the HFEA's scientific review says more work needs to be carried out to show that embryos produced by either technique will develop normally.

The report authors also want research that compares the effectiveness of each technique before clinical trials are given the go-ahead.

By Pallab Ghosh
Science correspondent, BBC News

Tuesday, 19 April, 2011

Ferrari Quiz

A question that is often asked of someone with a new car is
"what will it do?"

The answer is usually something like "zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds," or something along those lines.

Well, here's the brand new 2011 Ferrari "458 Italia"

First, here's what it looks like:

And here is what it can do...

Monday, 18 April, 2011

Pig & Pork Facts - A Christian Viewpoint

The pig or swine is a very popular food item with most Christians. Yet Christians are unaware that the God they profess to believe in had condemned the eating of swine's flesh. The condemnation was based on some very sound biological principles. Here are some facts on pork that prove it to be a very unhealthy food to eat:
A pig is a real garbage gut. It will eat anything including urine, excrement, dirt, decaying animal flesh, maggots, or decaying vegetables. They will even eat the cancerous growths off other pigs or animals.

The meat and fat of a pig absorbs toxins like a sponge. Their meat can be 30 times more toxic than beef or venison.
When eating beef or venison, it takes 8 to 9 hours to digest the meat so what little toxins are in the meat are slowly put into our system and can be filtered by the liver. But when pork is eaten, it takes only 4 hours to digest the meat. We thus get a much higher level of toxins within a shorter time.

Unlike other mammals, a pig does not sweat or perspire. Perspiration is a means by which toxins are removed from the body. Since a pig does not sweat, the toxins remain within its body and in the meat.
Pigs and swine are so poisonous that you can hardly kill them with strychnine or other poisons.
Farmers will often pen up pigs within a rattlesnake nest because the pigs will eat the snakes, and if bitten they will not be harmed by the venom.
When a pig is butchered, worms and insects take to its flesh sooner and faster than to other animal's flesh. In a few days the swine flesh is full of worms.
Swine and pigs have over a dozen parasites within them, such as tapeworms, flukes, worms, and trichinae. There is no safe temperature at which pork can be cooked to ensure that all these parasites, their cysts,and eggs will be killed.
Pig meat has twice as much fat as beef. A 3 oz T bone steak contains 8.5 grams of fat; a 3 oz pork chop contains 18 grams of fat. A 3 oz beef rib has 11.1 grams of fat; a 3 oz pork spare rib has 23.2 grams of fat.
Cows have a complex digestive system, having four stomachs. It thus takes over 24 hours to digest their vegetarian diet causing its food to be purified of toxins. In contrast, the swine's one stomach takes only about 4 hours to digest its foul diet, turning its toxic food into flesh.
The swine carries about 30 diseases which can be easily passed to humans. This is why God commanded that we are not even to touch their carcase (Leviticus 11:8).
The trichinae worm of the swine is microscopically small, and once ingested can lodge itself in our intestines, muscles, spinal cord or the brain. This results in the disease trichinosis. The symptoms are sometimes lacking, but when present they are mistaken for other diseases, such as typhoid, arthritis, rheumatism, gastritis, MS, meningitis, gall bladder trouble, or acute alcoholism.

The pig is so poisonous and filthy, that nature had to prepare him a sewer line or canal running down each leg with an outlet in the bottom of the foot. Out of this hole oozes pus and filth his body cannot pass into its system fast enough. Some of this pus gets into the meat of the pig.
There are other reasons grounded in biological facts that could be listed to show why pigs and swine should not be eaten. But a true Christian should only need one reason why not to eat this type of food because God prohibited it.
"And the swine, because it divides the hoof, yet does not chew the cud, it is unclean unto you: you shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase." - Leviticus 11:7,8; Deuteronomy 14:8
Those who say Christ abolished the law condemning pork are motivated by their stomach not scripture. The problems with pork are biological, and Christ never changed the laws of biology.

Sunday, 17 April, 2011

Emperor Sukhoi

This is like ballet in the air….takes about 3 minutes to watch….

The red smoke coming from the wingtips is only there to demonstrate to spectators on the ground the direction the plane is actually moving through the air. Normally the smoke wouldn't be there. When the smoke is streaming behind, the airplane is moving fast forward etc. When the airplane is engulfed in smoke, it means the airplane is almost stopped in mid-air. The maneuverability of this plane is incredible. This plane would be nearly impossible to defeat in a dogfight.

Russia may now have the #1 fighter plane in the world ...SU-30-Vectored Thrust with Canards. As you watch this airplane, look at the canards moving along side of, and just below the canopy rail. The "canards" are the small wings forward of the main wings. The smoke and contrails provide a sense of the actual flight path, sometimes in reverse direction. This video is of an in-flight demonstration flown by the Russian's-30MK fighter aircraft.

The fighter can stall from high speed, stopping forward motion in seconds(full stall).

Then it demonstrates an ability to descend tail first without causing a compressor stall. It can also recover from a flat spin in less than a minute. These maneuver capabilities don't exist in any other aircraft in the world today.

Take a look at the video with the sound up. This aircraft is of concern to U.S. And the NATO planners. We don't know which nations will soon be flying the SU-30MK, hopefully China isn't one of them.

King Sukhoi by drallah
Friends worked with advanced aircraft flight control systems and concepts for many years as an extension of stability control and means of control. Canards and vectored thrust were among many concepts examined to extend our fighter aircraft performance. Neither our current or next generation aircraft now poised for funding & production can in any way match the performance of this Russian aircraft.

Somehow the bankrupt Russian aircraft industry has out produced our complex politically tainted aerospace industry with this technology marvel.Scratch any ideas of close in air-to-air combat with this aircraft in the future.

Friday, 15 April, 2011

Are we heading towards a Christian India ?

I am a westerner and a born Christian. I was mainly brought up in catholic schools, my uncle, Father Guy Gautier, a gem of a man, was the parish head of the beautiful Saint Jean de Montmartre church in Paris; my father,Jacques Gautier, a famous artist in France, and a truly good person if there ever was one, was a fervent catholic all his life, went to church nearly
every day and lived by his Christian values. There are certain concepts in Christianity I am proud of : charity for others, the equality of system in many western countries, Christ’s message of love and compassion….
Yet, I am a little uneasy when I see how much Christianity is taking over India under the reign of Sonia Gandhi : according to a 2001 census, there are about 2.34 million Christians in India ; not even 2,5% of the nation, a negligible amount.Yet there are today five Christian chief ministers in Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

One should add that the majority of politicians in Sonia Gandhi’s closed circle are either Christians or Muslims. She seems to have no confidence in Hindus.Ambika Soni, a Christian, is General Secretary of the Congress and a very powerful person, with close access to Sonia Gandhi. Oscar Fernandes is Union Programme Implementation Minister. Margaret Alwa is the eminence grise
of Maharasthra. Karnataka is virtually controlled by AK Anthony, whose secretaries are all from the Southern Christian association. Valson Thampu,a Hindu hater, is Chairman NCERT curriculum Review Committee, John Dayal,another known Hindu baiter, has been named by Sonia Gandhi in the National Integration Council; and Kancha Ilaya, who hates Hindus, is being allowed by the Indian Government to lobby with the UN and US Congress so that caste discrimination in India is taken-up by these bodies. **( One can also add to list Ajit jogi, and Digvijay Singh both christian converts & also Pranoy Roy, his niece Arundhati 'Suzanna' Roy ).

I have nothing personnally against Sonia Gandhi, in fact she probably is a good person to win the alliegance of so many and certainly a loving mother.I share with her a love for India, like her I have lived in this country for over 30 years and like her I have married an Indian. But nevertheless, since she is at the top, Christian conversions in India seem to have gone in
overdrive. More than 4,000 foreign Christian missionaries are involved in conversion activities across different states.

In Tripura, there were Christians at independence, there are 120.000 today, a 90% increase since 1991.The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but 1,2 million today, as well as 780 churches! In Andhra Pradesh, churches are coming-up every day in far flung villages and there was even an attempt to set-up one near Tirupati. Many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not
only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionaries. In Kerala, particularly in the poor coastal districts, you find “miracle boxes” put in local churches: the gullible villager writes out a paper mentionning his wish: a fishing boat, a loan for a pukka house, fees for the son’s schooling… And lo, a few weeks later, the
miracle happens ! And of course the whole family converts, making others in the village follow suit. During the Tsunami, entire dalit villages in Tamil Nadu were converted to Christianity with the lure of money.

It is true that there have been a few backlashes against missionnaries and nuns, particularly the gruesome muder of Staines and his two sons. But Belgium historian Konenraad Elst laments that « When over a thousand Hindus are killed and a quarter million Hindus ethnically cleansed in Kashmir, the world media doesn't even notice, but watch the worldwide hue and cry when a
few local riots take place and a few missionaries are killed by unidentified tribal miscreants. Christian Naga terrorists have been killing non-Christians for decades on end, and this has never been an issue with the world media, except to bewail the "oppression" of the Nagas by "Hindu India". More than 20,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Assam and
Manipur in the past two decades. As recently as last week, four paramilitary Assam Rifles soldiers were killed in an ambush yesterday by the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF).

The other day I was at the Madras Medical center, the foremost heart hospital in Madras. Right when you enter the lobby, you find a chapel,inviting everybody to pray, there are pictures and quotations of Christ everywhere and a priest visits all the patients, without being invited at
all. Educational institutes and orphanages run by Christian organisations have become big business in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other states. In Pondichery, where I am often, schools run by Adventists force their pupils,mostly Hindus, to say Christian prayers every day and attend mass. They are constantly fed anti Hindu slogans and biases under different forms, whether it is in history books, or discourses by priests during religious classes.Even in the elite schools or colleges, such as Saint Stephen in Delhi, Saint Xavier in Calcutta or Loyola college in Madras, where no direct proletization is attempted, Hindu pupils are subtly encouraged towards skepticism of their own religion, and admiration of whatever is Western. One
should also say that it’s a one way traffic : remember the furor when MM Joshi wanted the Saraswati hymn to be sung at a Chief Ministers’ meet on education ? And imagine the uproar in secular India if portions of the Bhagavad Gita, this Bible for all humanity, were read at the beginning of the day in public schools ?

Sonia Gandhi said during the last National Integration Council meeting : « We are committed to ideological battle against communal forces which seek to destroy our diversity and polarise us. Certain parties promote polarization and confrontation. And there are certain regimes in India which promote communalism ». But is not actually the Congress under Mrs Gandhi, which is promoting communalism, by insidiously installing Christians and Muslims (and Marxists) everywhere, propping up Christian states, allowing a free hand too missionaries and pressing for reservations for Christian Dalits and Muslims, as recently done in AP, in a nation of 850 million Hindus ?

In my country, France, a Christian majority nation , it would be unthinkable to have Hindus – or even Indian born French for that matter – in so many positions of power. Impossible also to find a non-elected, non French,non-Christian person being the absolute ruler of the country behind the scene as Sonia Gandhi is in India. Indians like to say that the greatness of India is that it accepts a foreigner and a Christian like Sonia Gandhi. But is’nt it rather a weakness, and an aberration ? Can’t we find a worthy leader amongst one billion Indians ? This is an India where you see today Swami Avimukteshwarananda Saraswati of Dwarka Peeth, made to disembark from
an Indian Airlines flight for carrying his holy dand, a thin bamboo stick which is a symbol of their spiritual designation, inside the aircraft cabin.

Are we heading then towards a Christian India under Sonia Gandhi’s helm? It would be a tremendous loss not only to India, but also to the world. For in India, you find the only living spirituality left on this planet.

by - Francois Gautier