Thursday, July 26, 2012

Google launches scientific calculator

Next time, you need to do a quick calculation, you can head to Google. The search giant has added a scientific calculator to its varied array of features. 

The company's new 34-button calculator appears the moment you type in the word "calculator" or a mathematical expression say "4x5" into the search box. 

The calculator gives users ability to do everything from arithmetic to trigonometric calculations. The calculator has functions for calculating sines, cosines, square roots and tangents as well as also dedicated buttons for Pi and Euler's number. 

Not just this, Users can also use Google's voice search feature -- found in mobile version and in Chrome browser -- to do calculations without actually touching keyboard. 

The search giant has also announced its Panda algorithm update (version 3.9) via its official Twitter account. 

Launched in February 2011, Panda is aimed to lower the ranks of low-quality websites and list high-quality sites close to the top of the search results.

World's most powerful dam opens in China

The giant and controversial Three Gorges Dam in China has launched the last of its generators, just as it hits its annual flood peak.
The final 32 generators went into operation this week, making it the world's largest hydropower project, built on the Yangtze River in the Hubei Province.
It is designed to decrease the risk of flooding during the current peak rainfall season, as well as store and distribute water during the dry periods.
A series of incredible photos show the sheer force of the flood water released from seven spillways after heavy downpours in the upper reaches of the dam caused the highest flood peak of the year.
Water from the Yangtze River upper gushed at up 70,000 cubic metres per second into the dam's reservoir yesterday.

The dam is working to take the edge off the fierce flood and reduce its impact on the river's lower reaches by storing at least 26,000 cubic meters of flood water every second, the Yangtze River flood control and drought relief, according to the Global Times.
Water outflow from the dam currently measures 43,000 cubic meters per second.
So far the forces of flood has been been the highest in recent memory, worse that the devastating 1998 Yangtze flood which cause a large amount of damage with a flow rate of 50,000 cubic meters per second.

The dam, which first went into operation in 2003 at a cost of $22.5 billion, has a combined generating capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts (22,500 megawatts), the equivalent of fifteen nuclear reactors.
The construction of the dam, which forced the relocation of 1.4 million people, has been heavily criticised by experts worldwide, and residents of nearby areas.
Beijing has long held up the dam as a symbol of its engineering prowess, a solution to the frequent floods of China's longest river and a source of badly-needed electricity.
But in May last year Beijing admitted the dam had spawned a range of problems.
The project began in 1993 despite warnings the weight of the reservoir would dangerously alter central China's geology, uproot millions of people, poison water supplies by trapping pollution and disrupt the Yangtze watershed.
The dam has created a reservoir stretching up to 600 kilometres (370 miles) through the scenic Three Gorges region, which is criss-crossed by geological faultlines.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Set of Godzilla in 1954

10 Things You Never Knew About: NATO

It's a massive alliance of 28 countries in North America and Europe, and its members are signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty, which commits each member to a collective defense. Any organization with this much power, regularly attempting to handle international situations and crises will always have a colourful background. 

These contrasting quotes highlight just how differently people percieve this massive organization: 

- "I think that NATO is itself a war criminal," said Harold Pinter while Pierre Trudeau backed him up by saying, "I bear solemn witness to the fact that NATO heads of state and of government meet only to go through the tedious motions of reading speeches, drafted by others, with the principal objective of not rocking the boat." 

- Of course, the heads of the organization itself beg to differ with diplomatic statements such as "Commitment and co-operation to overcome barriers and difficulties, and determination to achieve the standards of the EU as well as NATO membership, are and have always been the principal target."

These 10 interesting facts about NATO are bound to come as a surprise to many: 

Fact One:
 NATO's relevance was strictly political until the end of the Cold War. Since all its efforts were directed towards decreasing hostility in this period, when it was finally over, it acquired a much greater 'out-of-area' role. Today, it has a much larger military role and considers threats like piracy, cyber attacks and terrorism, as opposed to just hostility between nations. 

Fact Two:
 Considering NATO 'ganged up' against Russia in its initial years, it was hugely surprising when they actually gave the nation a formal role in discussing matters of mutual interest in 1997. In 2002, they even expanded their relationship, but it quickly deteriorated when Russia was angered by the NATO expansion up to its borders in 2004. A simple case of 'Old Habits Die Hard' perhaps? Still, things have improved slightly thanks to the United States and Russia's current engagement.

Fact Three:
 Nothing about running a massive organization like this comes cheap. NATO has an official annual budget of 200 billion Euros, but it's common knowledge that they run another few hundred million euros in the red as well. 

This budget has come under a lot of fire and they are planning major cutbacks. However, NATO still insists that it needs new equipment like helicopters and cargo planes to support deployments in Afghanistan. 

Fact Four:
 NATO has its very own phonetic alphabet. It's also known as the ICAO phonetic or spelling alphabet, and it is the most widely used spelling alphabet. Basically, what these special 'linguistics' do is assign code words to digits so that critical combinations of letters and numbers can be pronounced (and understood) by the people who are sending and receiving messages. Common words include Bravo, Echo, Hotel, Whiskey and Zulu!

Fact Five:
 Israel was the first non-European countries to be offered membership in NATO. They figured since they had a common enemy--the jihadists. However, even after many talks, the two proposed allies could not come to a mutual agreement and Israel backed out. As such, the organization still does not have any non-European or non-American states as its members.

Fact Six:
 Iceland is the only member nation of NATO that does not have its own standing army. It has not had one since 1869. But like most other countries without defense forces, they did have an agreement with the United States, which maintained an Iceland Defense Force and even amilitary base within the country from 1951-1956. However, soon after the US announced that they would continue to provide for their defense without maintaining active forces on the island itself. 

Fact Seven:
 One of NATO's most successful achievements till date is the 'Operation Essential Harvest.' Officially launched on 22nd August, this 30-day-long mission involved sending over 3,500 NATO troops to disarm ethnic Albanian groups and destroying their weapons. The operational plan was drawn up in response to President Trajkovski's personal request for assistance. As such, it was only approved on the condition that the political dialogue between various parties was deemed successful.

Fact Eight:
 Gladio is a term that has come to be very closely associated with the NATO. In actuality, it is a code name for any clandestine 'stay-behind' NATO operation, the first of which was in Italy after World War II. Its sole purpose was to continue anti-communist actions in the event of any country shifting to a communist government. It went far enough to extend these operations to non-member countries as well. 

Fact Nine:
 NATO has only ever invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, applicable to member countries, once in its entire history. It was for the September 11 terrorist attacks against the U.S.

This particular treaty states that if the parties agreed that the armed attack against one of them came from abroad, then it would be considered as an act against them all. As such, even unaffected parties would be forced to offer their armed forces, and whatever else was necessary to restore and maintain security in the region. This was one of the most significant decisions undertaken by the NATO in its history.

Fact Ten:
 The latest and most exciting system to come into play in the organization is the ACCS--otherwise known as the Air Command and Control System. This system is intended to combine and automate all air operations at a very tactical level. This includes planning, tasking and execution.

The system was conceived in the 1980s to replace existing air defense systems, but it was only in 1992 that the North Atlantic Council--NATO's premier decision-making body--agreed to the implementation of ACCS.

Flatworm with 60 eyes discovered

London: Scientists in the UK have discovered an entirely new species of flatworm which has 60 eyes in a body just 12 mm long.

The creature was found in grassland near Cambridge, with biologists believing it was a "completely new, undescribed species", a newspaper reported.

The peculiar invertebrate is thought to be of antipodean descent, often used to refer to Australia and New Zealand, but also a close relative of a species found in Northern Ireland called Kontikia Andersoni. 

Biologist Dr Hugh Jones, a scientific associate of the Natural History Museum, said he had only seen one other example of a similar worm, a single specimen discovered in the Netherlands in April.

The 60-eyed worm was discovered by Brian Eversham, chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

"It is likely to be a close relative of a species found in Northern Ireland called Kontikia andersoni," Eversham said.

"Britain is one of the best countries for documenting wildlife so it's quite unusual to find a species here which has not been seen before," he was quoted by the paper as saying.

"New Zealand seems to be the centre of diversity for land flatworms worldwide, and its climate is very similar to Britain," he added.

`Bath salts` act in the brain like cocaine

Washington: Results of a new study have for the first time provided compelling evidence that use of the synthetic stimulants collectively known as “bath salts” does have potential for abuse and addiction like cocaine.

“Bath salts” use have gained popularity among recreational drug users over the last five years, largely because they were readily available and unrestricted via the Internet and at convenience stores, and were virtually unregulated.

Recent studies point to compulsive drug taking among bath salts users, and several deaths have been blamed on the bath salt mephedrone (4-methylmethcathinone or “meow-meow”). This has led several countries to ban the production, possession, and sale of mephedrone and other cathinone derivative drugs.

In October 2011, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration placed mephedrone on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act for one year, pending further study.

“Basically, the DEA was saying we don`t know enough about these drugs to know how potentially dangerous they could be, so we`re going to make them maximally restricted, gather more data, and then come to a more reasoned decision as to how we should classify these compounds,” said C.J. Malanga, MD, PhD, associate professor of neurology, pediatrics and psychology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Malanga who led the new study is also a member of the UNC``s Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies.

“The effects of mephedrone on the brain`s reward circuits are comparable to similar doses of cocaine. As expected our research shows that mephedrone likely has significant abuse liability,” he said.

The study`s first author and MD/PhD student at UNC J. Elliott Robinson pointed out that mephedrone and other potentially addictive stimulants “inappropriately activate brain reward circuits that are involved in positive reinforcement. These play a role in the drug ``high`` and compulsive drug taking.”

The study of laboratory mice used intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS), a technique developed in the 1950s that can measure a drug``s ability to activate reward circuits. In ICSS studies, animals are trained to perform a behavioural task (pressing a lever or a button with their nose or, as in this study, spinning a wheel) to receive a reward: direct stimulation of the brain pathways involved in reward perception.

During the study, adult animals were implanted with brain stimulating electrodes. Measures of their wheel spinning effort were made before, during and after they received various doses of either mephedrone or cocaine.

“One of the unique features of ICSS is that all drugs of abuse, regardless of how they work pharmacologically, do very similar things to ICSS: they make ICSS more rewarding. Animals work harder to get less of it [ICSS] when we give them these drugs,” Malanga said.

Indeed, as was expected, cocaine increased the ability of mice to be rewarded by self-stimulation. “And what we found, which is new, is that mephedrone does the same thing. It increases the rewarding potency of ICSS just like cocaine does,” he stated.

Malanga said the study supports the idea that mephedrone and drugs like it may have significant addiction potential, “and justifies the recent legislation to maintain maximum restriction to their access by the Food and Drug Administration.”

On July 9 President Obama signed into law legislation passed by Congress to permanently ban the sale of bath salts in the U.S.

A report of the study was published online on June 21, 2012 by the journal Behavioural Brain Research.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

8 Countries Don't Pay Personal Income Tax

Come July, everyone is rushing to file their last minute tax returns. But, there are some nations, where people don't struggle with tax returns or any hassles related to taxes. That's right.

According to CNBC's list based on KPMG's 2011 survey of 96 countries, these eight nations don't have to pay any income tax to their government.

Here's a list of countries with no personal income tax.
United Arab Emirates
UAE, which is the third-biggest exporter of crude globally, largely depends on taxes from oil companies. This accounts for 55 per cent in corporate taxes.


The country levies no taxes on personal incomes, dividends, royalties, profits, capital gains and property. However, people in Qatar have to pay 5 per cent of their social security benefits, while employers contribute 10 per cent.

Majority of Oman's revenue come from crude oil. According to CNBC report, the country's oil revenues increased 35 per cent in April to $8.49 billion compared to the same month last year and accounted for over 71 per cent of the sultanate's total revenues.

Though there is no income tax in the country, Kuwait nationals have to contribute 7.5 per cent of their salary for social security, while their employers pay 11 per cent additional on their behalf.

Cayman Islands
If you are working in Cayman Islands, you needn't worry about a pension plan. Here, employers pay towards a pension plan. This rule also applies to expat employees, who have been working Cayman Islands for a period of nine months.


Here as well, people contribute 7 per cent of their total income towards social security benefits, while employers make a contribution of 12 per cent.


Bermuda is considered as one of the world's most affluent countries. However, employees have to pay $30.40 per week toward social security insurance, which is matched by the employer.

The Bahamas

Bahamas is the wealthiest Caribbean country. Even then, employees give away 3.9 per cent of their salary for social security, while employers contribute 5.9 per cent of a employee's salary.

World`s first computer model of organism created

Washington: Scientists have created the world`s first ever computer model of an organism -- a breakthrough which would catalyse radically new approaches to diagnostics and treatment.

A team led by Markus Covert, assistant professor of bioengineering at the Stanford University, used data from more than 900 scientific papers to account for every molecular interaction that takes place in the life cycle of Mycoplasma genitalium.

M. genitalium, the world`s smallest free-living bacterium, shows up uninvited in human urogenital and respiratory tracts. 

The pathogen also contains the smallest genome of any free-living organism, only 525 genes, as opposed to the 4,288 of E. coli, a more traditional lab bug, the journal Cell reports.

Even at this small scale, the quantity of data that the Stanford researchers incorporated into the virtual cell`s code was enormous. 

The final model made use of more than 1,900 experimentally determined parameters, according to a Stanford statement.

"Comprehensive computer models of entire cells have the potential to advance our understanding of cellular function and, ultimately, to inform new approaches for the diagnosis and treatment of disease," said James M. Anderson, director of the National Institutes of Health Division of Programme Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, which had part funded the research.

Most biological experiments, however, still take a reductionist approach to this vast array of data: knocking out a single gene and seeing what happens. 

"Many of the issues we`re interested in aren`t single-gene problems," said Covert. "They`re the complex result of hundreds or thousands of genes interacting."

"You don`t really understand how something works until you can reproduce it yourself," said Jayodita Sanghvi, Stanford bioengineering graduate student and study co-author.

"The goal hasn`t only been to understand M. genitalium better. It`s to understand biology generally," said study co-author and Stanford biophysics graduate student Jonathan Karr.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

YouTube offering ways to blur faces in video uploads

California: Video-sharing website YouTube is now adding an amazing feature with the help of which people can blur faces in a submitted video.

The new tool is designed keeping in mind to protect a person’s privacy. The tool when applied before submitting the video, simply blurs faces.

The feature will be available from late Wednesday and will appear under the “Additional features” editing enhancements.

Google Inc., which owns YouTube, is warning that blurring faces by itself may not guarantee anonymity. Background scenery or a license plate might give away someone’s identity, as might a recognisable voice. The software also might miss a face or two, though people will have a chance to review the blurring before submitting it.

YouTube was quoted saying to a news agency that “the feature allows people to share personal footage more widely and to speak out when they otherwise may not.”

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eat melons to keep BP under control

Nutrition experts say
there is no better way to lower blood pressure (BP)
than by indulging in some of the season`s potassium-rich
fruit and vegetables.
"Melons like cantaloupe and watermelon are particularly high in potassium,"
says Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition
at University of Texas-Southwestern (UTS) and spokesperson
for the American Dietetic Association.

"One-fourth of a cantaloupe contains 800 to 900 mg of
potassium, roughly 20 percent of the recommended daily value."

Two cups of watermelon contains nearly 10 percent of the daily recommended value, says a UTS release.

Sandon said dried apricots, avocados, figs, kiwi, oranges,
raisins, dates, beans, potatoes, tomatoes and even grapefruit
are other good sources of potassium.

The US department of agriculture recommends that most
adults get 4,044 milligrams of potassium from food and
beverages each day.

Man Has Donated 40 Gallons of Blood

Man Has Donated 40 Gallons of Blood

Good deeds come in different forms: Some people give their time, others donate money. Al Fischer prefers to give blood.

The print shop operator from Massapequa, affectionately known as Albee, has been donating blood every year since 1951, when Harry S. Truman was in the White House - 11 presidents ago.So far, Fischer has given 319 pints of blood and he will do it again Tuesday in Woodbury, bringing his lifetime donation to a total of 40 gallons.

"I'm too cheap to give money, so I give blood," Fischer, 75, said jokingly.Only one other person in the United States has given more blood, according to a New York Blood Center official - Maurice Wood, 83, a retired federal railroad inspector from St. Louis.

Fischer, who last spoke to Wood a few months ago, said he and Wood are engaged in a friendly rivalry."He's about six or seven pints ahead of me," said Fischer.

The remarkable thing, said Harvey Schaffler, executive director of Long Island Blood Services, isn't the fact that Fischer donates blood at his age but that he does it every eight weeks, about six times a year. Fischer donates whole blood, which is then split into three components.

"He's a one-man army, who has helped almost a thousand people," said Schaffler, who met Fischer more than two decades ago at a blood drive in Manhattan. "It was a breeze and I was helping people," Fischer said.

Fischer kept record of his blood donations years before the New York Blood Center started to record blood donation in 1964. Fischer said he received a letter from the Red Cross in 1954 congratulating him for donating a total of 2 gallons, the first of many milestones.

To encourage others to give blood, Fischer got a vanity license plate - "O BLOOD" - as an advertisement."The take-away message is that you don't have to be Al Fischer," said Schaffler. "You can donate once or twice a year and it will make an impact on the blood supply."

This sexual healer slept with 1500 men

This sexual healer slept with 1500 men

THIS woman has had sex with more than a thousand men - and most of them are the husbands or boyfriends of other women. Mare Simone, 54, calls herself a "sex surrogate" and has devoted her working life to helping men, women and couples overcome problems in the bedroom.

As a qualified sex therapist, she has given lessons in love to more than 10,000 clients over the past 23 years. And while she estimates she has had penetrative sex with 1,500 of them, she insists there is nothing illegal about what she does.

Mare says: "I earn my living by sleeping with other women's husbands or boyfriends. But I am in no way a prostitute as sex surrogacy is legal, as long as it is done in a therapeutic and healing atmosphere.

"People are paying for counselling and to cure their problems - not sex. "I am helping improve and change the sex lives of thousands of men, which means I am also helping improve the sex lives of their wives and girlfriends.

Single Mare, from Chelsea, West London, holds around five sessions A DAY and sees people from all walks of life.

107 year old woman seeks 23rd husband

107 year old woman seeks 23rd husband

A 107-year-old Malaysian woman is looking to marry for the 23rd time because she fears her current husband will leave her for a younger woman, AFP reported.

Wook Kundor has been married to her husband, Muhammad Noor Che Musa, a man 70 years younger than her, for four years. The couple made headlines across regional newspapers when they got married, AOL News reported.

Kundor is seeking a new marriage because she fears that Musa, who is undergoing voluntary drug rehabilitation treatment in the capital Kuala Lumpur, will leave her once his program is over, Press TV added.

"Lately, there is this kind of insecurity in me," Kundor told The Star in Malaysia."I realize I am an aged woman... My intention to re-marry is to fill my forlornness, and nothing more than that."

Wook said that she hopes to visit Musa soon and tell him that she is lonely without him. She said she would wait for him if he reciprocates her feelings, The Star added.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012