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Interesting Findings And World Unfolding Through My Eyes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

What Happened?????????

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Idea Of Pleasure

Everyone desires to reach a stage of absolute happiness where he is all the time happy. This is defined as a state of NIRVANA which supposedly brings you to an ultimate state of pleasure.

But the terms pleasure and misery cannot be absolutely defined. It is because they are relative terms. To explain this through an example, let us take an example of a man who is accustomed to have stale bread as his daily meal. If his diet is suddenly changed to something like biryani which is better in taste, he will feel a pleasure. His degree of pleasure is in direct proportion to the degree of improvement in the taste of the food. If he is offered still better food, his pleasure increases further and if one day, it is suddenly continued to supply him with stale bread, he will feel misery. This is because, he has obtained a knowledge of something which enhances his pleasure.

On the other hand, if stale bread is the only available food on earth, the terms pleasure and misery will be meaningless as there is no scope for relative comparison. Even if the supply of a wonderful meal is continued over a long period, without any variation in tastes, a man will be bored, as the feeling of pleasure can be derived only through comparison.

Considering another example, if a man feels he is good looking, it is only in comparison with people who are not as good looking as he. If he is sad in this aspect, it is because of people who are better looking than him.

So, a world of absolute happiness is a world where all people are identical in appearance, have equal intelligence as difference in intelligence will again give rise to certain complexes, and in proportion to the difference, degrees of pleasure and misery will begin to surface. Also everyone should have equal power and artistic abilities. To sum up, each and every individual's tastes, behavior, appearance, intelligence and capacity of doing work must be same as each and every other individual.

As everyone will be having the same thoughts, there will be no need for speaking with each other, and as every one will have the same abilities, there will be no question of anyone getting interested in anyone. It is a world devoid of competition and initiative. In short, this world will be of the LIVING DEAD.

Posted by Ajay :: 4:45 PM :: 1 comments

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

‘Cage fights’ And Students

Dallas: A high school principal and his security staff shut feuding students in a steel cage to settle disputes with bare-knuckle fistfights, according to an internal report by the Dallas Independent School District.
The principal of South Oak Cliff High School, Donald Moten, was accused by several school employees of sanctioning the ‘cage fights’ between students in a steel equipment enclosure in a boy’s locker room, where “troubled” youth fought while a security guard watched, according to the confidential March 2008 report first obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
Such fights occurred several times over the course of two years, the report said.
Moten, who resigned from the district in 2008 while under investigation in connection with
a grade-changing scandal, denies the cage-fight accusations. “That’s barbaric,” he told The Dallas Morning News. “You can’t do that at a high school. You can’t do that anywhere. It never happened.”
But investigators with the district’s Office of Professional Responsibility gathered testimony from two employees at South Oak Cliff High who said they had witnessed students fighting in the cage from 2003 to 2005, among others who heard about the fights.
One employee overheard Moten tell a security guard to take two students who had been at each other for days and “put ’em in the cage and let them duke it out,” the report states, and the practice was so embedded in the school’s culture that one student remarked to a teacher that he was “gonna be in the cage.”
Moten is a former police officer who lied about being kidnapped at gunpoint to get out of work, for which he was given administrative leave. NYT NEWS SERVICE

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Social Change @21Cent.........

The critics of modernity, going back at least to the 19th century, have told us that modern society is hurtling forward, its social ties unraveling behind it, its citizens left unhinged and bewildered. In recent decades, disintegration has remained a persistent image in popular social criticism, from Alvin Toffler's Future Shock and Philip Slater's The Pursuit of Loneliness (both published in 1970) to more current entrants such as Judith Warner's 2005 book Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. And now comes the sociologist Dalton Conley tapping into the same trope and, like many before him, presenting the crisis of contemporary society as bearing most sharply, indeed almost exclusively, on the privileged.

The trouble with this long tradition, and particularly with Conley's rendition of it, is that the evidence doesn't support the view that modernity has disoriented all groups in society, much less that it has peculiarly shaken up the privileged. Despite the pervasive image of a postmodern self, fragmented and fractured, the educated have found new ways to knit their lives together. It is the less educated, squeezed on every front, whose lives have become more insecure and unstable in both work and family life.

A professor at New York University, Conley has important articles and books to his credit, and much of his work deals critically with social inequality. His Being Black, Living in the Red is a substantial study of the sources and consequences of racial differences in wealth. The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why is an intriguing analysis of the limited role of genes and family background in accounting for achievement, highlighting instead the role of luck, accident, and the inability of parents with many children to provide opportunities to all of them.

In contrast to his earlier work, however, Elsewhere, U.S.A. is a disjointed dervish of a book that embodies its author's diagnosis of modern life. It is frenetic, disorganized, marred by leaps of logic and digressions galore. Its saving grace is that it challenges us to understand how contemporary social transformations affect the realms of personal life: love, friendships, the sense of self. But to grasp those connections, we have to pay attention to facts that Conley dismisses or ignores.

Amid a welter of kvetchy asides (Conley hates advertisements on movie screens, logos on T-shirts, and people who yak on their cell phones in public), Elsewhere, U.S.A. offers two big concepts to diagnose modern society's ills: the "elsewhere" society, and the "intravidual." "Mrs. and Mr. Elsewhere," workaholic professionals, always feel they should be somewhere else than where they currently are, and so they betray those around them as their mind races ahead to the next encounter, or they look around for a more desirable interaction. The intravidual is the reciprocal of this dissociated society: Rather than an integrated self, the modern person is internally fragmented.

Along with these two big concepts, Conley emphasizes four forces that drive contemporary social change. New technologies create a 24/7, sped-up work life that continuously intrudes on family time. Growing income inequality makes those near the top envious and insecure, leading them to work ever harder. Women's participation in paid work erodes community life, breaks down the boundary between work and leisure, and strains families. And the networked society permits an almost infinite number of selves -- virtual and actual -- as people participate in multiple communities of varying depth and reality, from the anonymous others who "recommend" films on Netflix, to friends of friends on Facebook, to the avatars in virtual social universes.

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Posted by Ajay :: 5:12 PM :: 0 comments

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bicameral Mind--Interview With Gregory Cohran

2Blowhards: Julian Jaynes -- thoughts? Reactions? And what about that "bicameral mind" idea?

Gregory Cochran: I read Jaynes' book years ago and thought at the time that he was deeply, entertainingly crazy. Nowadays, it seems likely that people have changed enough over recorded history to generate noticeable personality differences. That doesn't mean I buy his bicameral mind model: just the idea that people now may have significantly different minds from people then.

2B: One visitor thinks that "the best way to test Jaynes' ideas would be to study some of the uncontacted tribes in the Amazon and New Guinea and see if they are still of 'bicameral' mind." Has anyone bothered to do this?

GC: If someone really believed in bicameralism -- some non-Nebraskan -- sure. I wouldn't myself.

2B: From another reader: "[You say that people will cling to the Blank Slate myth as long as it pleases them to.] The Catholic Church reluctantly stopped believing in the geocentric model of the universe long before there were important practical applications. They had an enormous investment in the geocentric model, but the empirical evidence was too strong. Are you saying that the scientific evidence against the 'Blank Slate myth' will never be strong enough, or that the motivation to cling to the myth is stronger than that for the geocentric model, or perhaps that heresies are suppressed more efficiently nowadays?"

GC: I think people -- some people -- care a lot more about this than anyone ever cared about geocentrism. There are also practical political aspects.

2B: From another reader: "Depiction of trickster gods in West Africa seems a bit positive, at worst morally neutral. In Northern Europe, Loki was a clear-cut villain. Could that contrast come from selection-induced personality differences?"

GC: And yet Bugs Bunny is our hero. I think this line of analysis is about as sound and solid as Citibank.

2B: "I have heard that the wide varieties of thalassemia are the result of reproductive isolation. If populations mixed in Italy, the best ones would be common, and the rest rare. Maybe that was from Cavalli-Sforza? But maybe malarias varied regionally, leading to regional adaptation: there is no best resistance?"

GC: There are lots of places where several hemoglobin mutations (defenses against malaria) co-exist. Modeling suggests that in some cases some variants will eventually be replaced by others, but that process can take a long time -- in some cases far longer than falciparum malaria has existed. Falciparum malaria in Italy (at least in central and northern Italy) is less than 2000 years old: there probably hasn't been time enough for the dust to settle.

2B: "An androgen receptor allele associated with male pattern baldness shows signs of strong selection in some populations. Does the difference have cognitive effects, personality affects, does it increase paternal investment, reduce intergenerational mate competition, socially-mediated personality differences? I have an uh, personal interest in this one."

GC: I have no idea. There are some interesting regional variations in the average activity of the androgen receptor, but the variant linked to baldness is different. I hadn't heard that it looks selected: do you have a reference?

2B: "You say: 'brains have shrunk about 10% over the last 30,000 years, and almost certainly changed in other ways as well.' So, why is that? Is it that we have less need for more generalized brains? Or have genes that lead to more efficient brains predominated? Can we compare brain size between hunters and gatherers (such as are left) or slash and burn types with those who live in complex societies?"

GC: Nobody knows why the human brain has shrunk. It might be increased temperature. There is some indication that the cerebellum has become relatively bigger over this period: this might be a clue. Larger populations would tend to create more mutations, and some might have led to more efficient brains: certainly any change that preserved or improved function while shrinking the brain would be highly favored. As for brain size, Eskimos have larger-than-average brains (and score higher on IQ tests than other hunter-gatherers) while Australian aborigines, Pygmies, and Bushmen have smaller-than-average brains.

2B: "So it turns out that no one has really taken a hard look at interfertility among human population groups. I can't say I'm surprised. What about interbreeding success between dogs? Are there differences? Lions can breed with tigers, but Ligers are infertile, right? So much for the interspecies question. Where intra-species breeding success is at issue, I would assume -- perhaps mistakenly -- that the question would hinge on graduated differences rather than something like on/off. This is why I wonder if there is good data regarding relatively distant dog breeds, which aren't so different from human races."

GC: Female ligers are often fertile, in accordance with Haldane's rule.

As far as I know, all human mixes ever tried have been successful, but I don't think there has been much checking of the rate of miscarriages, measurement of average fertility, etc. There might be a problem or two.

There might also be hybrid vigor. Sometimes the offspring of two particular strains of a plant or animal species are sturdier, healthier, etc than their parents: two populations that have this property with respect to each other are said to "nick." For all we know, there are ethnic groups that have never had members intermarry but would produce really formidable offspring if they ever did.

Of course, the real point of that comment was to suggest an experimental program with, say, 100 ethnic groups, that involved systematically testing interfertility (i.e. making babies) in all 10,000 possible combinations: a vast mating matrix. I would say that we know the results of only one row of that matrix; the Irish and everybody else.

2B: "Of course the elephant in the bedroom is the huge gap between average black and average white IQ. Whites had to grapple with and survive ice age conditions. Blacks didn't. That's the the thinking as to why the gap exists." In other words, is the denial of the idea that substantial differences between population groups exist finally down to people wanting to avoid the black/white IQ difference?

GC: Nobody knows the historical/prehistorical causes of the gap. As for the motivation being a desire to avoid discussing or admitting black/white differences: partly, but there are other drivers, I think.

Continue reading..

Posted by Ajay :: 5:18 PM :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What should you do if you are confronted by a terrorist?

Every citizen should be made to understand that offence is the best form of defense. A terrorist carrying a weapon will use it to bring maximum destruction. The fear factor induced primarily by ignorance is way too advantageous to the terrorist. This myth of an assault rifle being disastrous should be killed and we should realize that it is the man behind the weapon and not the weapon which needs to be addressed. If the man behind the weapon is weak, a state of art weapon is equivalent to that of a block of wood. Soldiers who have had occasion to demonstrate courage under fire would perhaps be the first to accept that almost no one is devoid of fear when bullets fly. An understanding of the real destructive power of the enemy, training, being in a ‘kill or be killed’ situation and the knowledge that ‘offense is the best form of defense’ is what allows soldiers to overcome their fear and do the seemingly impossible. I am not suggesting that we train every citizen to be a soldier, but if we can do just enough so that every citizen is aware of the basics of what is the real capability of the commonly used ‘terror weapons’ and if we can educate them on how to react in adverse situations, we may have done our bit. Well-trained, well-equipped and effective defence and law enforcement agencies are a definite need for any viable democratic society to overcome the scourge of terrorism. What is equally important is a very aware, educated and determined citizenry so that we are not being seen as easy prey in a soft state.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How your brain creates God ?

WHILE many institutions collapsed during the Great Depression that began in 1929, one kind did rather well. During this leanest of times, the strictest, most authoritarian churches saw a surge in attendance.

This anomaly was documented in the early 1970s, but only now is science beginning to tell us why. It turns out that human beings have a natural inclination for religious belief, especially during hard times. Our brains effortlessly conjure up an imaginary world of spirits, gods and monsters, and the more insecure we feel, the harder it is to resist the pull of this supernatural world. It seems that our minds are finely tuned to believe in gods.

Religious ideas are common to all cultures: like language and music, they seem to be part of what it is to be human. Until recently, science has largely shied away from asking why. "It's not that religion is not important," says Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, "it's that the taboo nature of the topic has meant there has been little progress."

The origin of religious belief is something of a mystery, but in recent years scientists have started to make suggestions. One leading idea is that religion is an evolutionary adaptation that makes people more likely to survive and pass their genes onto the next generation. In this view, shared religious belief helped our ancestors form tightly knit groups that cooperated in hunting, foraging and childcare, enabling these groups to outcompete others. In this way, the theory goes, religion was selected for by evolution, and eventually permeated every human society (New Scientist, 28 January 2006, p 30)

The religion-as-an-adaptation theory doesn't wash with everybody, however. As anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor points out, the benefits of holding such unfounded beliefs are questionable, in terms of evolutionary fitness. "I don't think the idea makes much sense, given the kinds of things you find in religion," he says. A belief in life after death, for example, is hardly compatible with surviving in the here-and-now and propagating your genes. Moreover, if there are adaptive advantages of religion, they do not explain its origin, but simply how it spread.

An alternative being put forward by Atran and others is that religion emerges as a natural by-product of the way the human mind works.

That's not to say that the human brain has a "god module" in the same way that it has a language module that evolved specifically for acquiring language. Rather, some of the unique cognitive capacities that have made us so successful as a species also work together to create a tendency for supernatural thinking. "There's now a lot of evidence that some of the foundations for our religious beliefs are hard-wired," says Bloom.

Much of that evidence comes from experiments carried out on children, who are seen as revealing a "default state" of the mind that persists, albeit in modified form, into adulthood. "Children the world over have a strong natural receptivity to believing in gods because of the way their minds work, and this early developing receptivity continues to anchor our intuitive thinking throughout life," says anthropologist Justin Barrett of the University of Oxford.

So how does the brain conjure up gods? One of the key factors, says Bloom, is the fact that our brains have separate cognitive systems for dealing with living things - things with minds, or at least volition - and inanimate objects.

This separation happens very early in life. Bloom and colleagues have shown that babies as young as five months make a distinction between inanimate objects and people. Shown a box moving in a stop-start way, babies show surprise. But a person moving in the same way elicits no surprise. To babies, objects ought to obey the laws of physics and move in a predictable way. People, on the other hand, have their own intentions and goals, and move however they choose.

Continue reading..

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Friday, February 6, 2009


Unusual blog...

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tricks Of Tears

I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m sad, I may cry when I’m sharing something that’s of great significance to me,” said Nancy Reiley, 62, who works at a women’s shelter in Tampa, Fla., “and for some reason I sometimes will cry when I’m in a public speaking situation.

“It has nothing to do with feeling sad or vulnerable. There’s no reason I can think of why it happens, but it does.”

Now, some researchers say that the common psychological wisdom about crying — crying as a healthy catharsis — is incomplete and misleading. Having a “good cry” can and usually does allow people to recover some mental balance after a loss. But not always and not for everyone, argues a review article in the current issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. Placing such high expectation on a tearful breakdown most likely sets some people up for emotional confusion afterward.

This call for a more nuanced view of crying stems partly from a critique of previous studies. Over the years, psychologists have confirmed many common observations about crying. It is infectious. Women break down more easily and more often than men, for reasons that are very likely biochemical as well as cultural. And the physical experience mirrors the psychological one: heart rate and breathing peak during the storm and taper off as the sky clears.

When asked about tearful episodes, most people, as expected, insist that the crying allowed them to absorb a blow, to feel better and even to think more clearly about something or someone they had lost.

At least that’s the way they remember it — and that’s the rub, said Jonathan Rottenberg, a psychologist at the University of South Florida and a co-author of the review paper. “A lot of the data supporting the conventional wisdom is based on people thinking back over time,” he said, “and it’s contaminated by people’s beliefs about what crying should do.”

Just as researchers have found that people tend, with time, to selectively remember the best parts of their vacations (the swim-up bars and dancing) and forget the headaches, so crying may also appear cathartic in retrospect. Memory tidies up the mixed episodes — the times when tears brought more shame than relief, more misery than company.

Read more..

Posted by Ajay :: 3:40 PM :: 2 comments

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Success And Ganesha A Superstar ....

It’s always been a mystery to me that why someone makes it in life and someone does not. It is not as simple as having talent or luck. I think it’s also a lot to do with a subconscious programming not necessarily designed or intended.

Take the example of films...Over the years I have seen umpteen examples of actors and technicians who I thought high of, who didn’t make it and who I thought were mediocre make it to the top. Not that I am an authority but at the point and time of me thinking that, everyone else around me shared the same opinion.

The most simplistic explanation for this is the S word “success”. But what does it really mean? Success is primarily an endorsement of a large number of people that so and so is very very good. But how does one know what so many people are actually thinking? A case in point is Gaddar and Lagaan. Both of them released on the same day and Gaddar is a far superior hit to Lagaan. Today years after their release I did not meet one single person who claimed Gaddar to be his favourite but you will find plenty for Lagaan. So who were the people who loved Gaddar? Did they come quietly from Mars saw the film and went back again?

Jokes apart the people who liked Gaddar most probably would be the so-called masses whose opinions would not matter to the nose-in-the-air critics and the media. So the moment they don’t endorse or keep praising the film the people who liked Gaddar also in time would slowly start being apologetic about liking Gaddar as they will be programmed to think that there is something wrong with them for liking Gaddar.

There was an aunt of mine who just accompanied someone visiting Satya Sai Baba and when she came back she put a huge portrait of his in her house and she claimed that the very fact that so many thousands believe in him is proof enough for her that he is divine. I countered her by saying that if she actually does not believe, and just because she thinks thousands others believe, she also believes, then what if each one of those thousands also were thinking the same like her. In effect this means nothing but a huge collective belief in a lie. Am not talking here about Satya Sai Baba but I am questioning the basis of their belief in him.

Also I could never understand for what reason Kartika is a lesser God than his brother Ganesha. Mythology does not say Kartika is lesser and neither did it say Ganesha is more extra-ordinary. But for some reason Heaven’s PR department propped up Ganesha and played down Kartika. So the moment they promoted Ganesha in such loud profound voices even as illogical as a story of his origin will also be looked up to by the devotees (audience) in awe (Read as in a illogical film also becoming a super-hit).

If anyone in the poor film industry were to tell a story like this the writer will be kicked out for ever. “Young Ganesha was standing guard outside when his mother Parvati is taking a bath Shiva returns and Ganesha stops him and in anger Shiva cuts off the kid’s head. (I think the world can learn a few lessons in brutality from Shiva.) And when Parvati tells him who the kid is, Shiva goes outside cuts an elephant’s head (Are the wild-life people PETA etc listening) and sticks it on his son’s head.” Apart from this and being momma’s boy I couldn’t get what else Ganesha did to get that divine status and of course we never ever bothered to ask about Kartika because we were programmed to ignore him.

For all practical purposes Kartika is better looking, seems smarter (at least he does not have any funny illogical stories around him comparable to those of Ganesha) and also there is no account in mythology of him being less powerful than Ganesha or whatever.

Then why is Ganesha a superstar and why is Kartika not?

Posted by Ajay :: 2:42 PM :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama's Speech Cut...

“Today, I say to you that the challenges we face are real,” Mr. Obama said in the address, delivered from the west front of the Capitol. “They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America, they will be met.”


"whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous."


“Now there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans,” he said. “Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.”


“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility,” he said, “a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly.”


“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.”

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Tree Frogs Are Capable Of Gravity-Defying Feats

Like wall-hugging geckos, tree frogs are capable of gravity-defying feats of the feet. But new research shows that the two species cling to surfaces in markedly different ways.

The "dry" grip of geckos relies on molecular bonds—firm but easily broken—between tiny fibers in the animal's toe pads and the surfaces on which they stand. But scientists found that frogs use a different approach to hold on.

Biologist Jon Barnes of the University of Glasgow in Scotland, who led the research, used an atomic force microscope (AFM), which can provide images on the scale of billionths of a meter, to scan the feet of White's tree frogs. To the naked eye, the frogs' toe pads appear patterned with flat-topped, hexagonal cells surrounded by grooves filled with mucus. On closer inspection, however, Barnes discovered that the tops were not flat at all but rather were covered by tightly packed "nanopillars," each with a small dimple in the end, which generate powerful friction against the surfaces they contact.

"The AFM can also be used to measure the stiffness of the outer layer of the foot," says Barnes, who published the findings in The Journal of Experimental Biology. "It turns out to be of the same order as silicone rubber. Soft materials are important, for they allow the pad to achieve close contact, following the contours of the surface to which the frog is adhering."

Although mucus can be a lubricant, for tree frogs the substance—only 1.5 times more viscous (resistant to flow) than plain water—serves as a "wet" adhesive. The reason: the nanopillars and larger structures on the toe pads come in direct contact with surfaces. As a result, the small amount of wet mucus between these protrusions provides adhesive forces.

Tree frogs can climb most surfaces, from sheer leaves to glass, with ease, although they do not fare so well on dry, rough materials—presumably because they cannot produce enough mucus to create a continuous fluid layer beneath their pads on such a surface, Barnes says. "In support of this idea is the fact that adhesion dramatically improves if the rough surface is wet," he notes.

Walter Federle, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge in England who studies adhesion, says the study sheds light on the material properties of frog toes at the microscopic level and clarifies that nanopillars play "an important role in adhesion." But he notes that the exact function of these tiny columns is still unclear.

Research on both geckos and tree frogs has tantalized materials scientists with visions of smart adhesives for human applications. For example, a paper in the March 2008 issue of the Journal of the Royal Society Interface estimated that a car brake equipped with a modest patch of synthetic gecko-grip could stop a 2,200-pound (1,000-kilogram) vehicle traveling 50 miles (80 kilometers) per hour in about 16 feet (five meters).

Barnes and his colleagues believe understanding the adhesive properties of tree frog feet could lead to better tire design, and perhaps even a nonslip shoe, although they first need to demonstrate that the adhesion—and, equally important, the rapid disengagement from the surface—is maintained on structures much larger than an amphibian's toe. Another possible application of the work, Barnes says, is the creation of a coating to protect nerves during surgery by holding them delicately out of the way of the scalpel.

Posted by Ajay :: 5:06 PM :: 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The power of happiness

Happiness is contagious, spreading among friends, neighbors, siblings and spouses like the flu, according to a large study that for the first time shows how emotion can ripple through clusters of people who may not even know each other.

The study of more than 4,700 people who were followed over 20 years found that people who are happy or become happy boost the chances that someone they know will be happy. The power of happiness, moreover, can span another degree of separation, elevating the mood of that person's husband, wife, brother, sister, friend or next-door neighbor.

"You would think that your emotional state would depend on your own choices and actions and experience," said Nicholas A. Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University who helped conduct the study published online today by BMJ, a British medical journal. "But it also depends on the choices and actions and experiences of other people, including people to whom you are not directly connected. Happiness is contagious."
One person's happiness can affect another's for as much as a year, the researchers found, and while unhappiness can also spread from person to person, the "infectiousness" of that emotion appears to be far weaker.

Previous studies have documented the common experience that one person's emotions can influence another's -- laughter can trigger guffaws in others; seeing someone smile can momentarily lift one's spirits. But the new study is the first to find that happiness can spread across groups for an extended period.

When one person in the network became happy, the chances that a friend, sibling, spouse or next-door neighbor would become happy increased between 8 percent and 34 percent, the researchers found. The effect continued through three degrees of separation, although it dropped progressively from about 15 percent to 10 percent to about 6 percent before disappearing.

The research follows previous work by Christakis and co-author James H. Fowler that found that obesity also appears to spread from person to person, as does the likelihood of quitting smoking. The researchers have been using detailed records originally collected by the Framingham Heart Study, a long-running project that has explored a host of health issues, to construct and analyze detailed maps of social networks.

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Posted by Ajay :: 5:00 PM :: 2 comments

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