Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dec., 2013: Interesting Articles & Links

Cancer patients - Carefree just for a second - http://www.utrend.tv/v/one-second/

* A graphic designers resume -- http://rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/

- now 5 of 15 petabytes (10^15bytes)! -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petabyte

* Advt - Put racism in the right place -- http://www.dnaindia.com/videos/1931595

* Nano Park in Karnataka gets Rs.100 Cr GoI funds - http://www.pharmabiz.com/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=79109&sid=1
- diagnostic sensors and lab-on-a-chip which may soon become an important part to improve global health
- Graphene holds much promise for the future and the world’s first FM radio transmitters made from it was announced by Columbia University just last week.
- state government called on scientists to come up with tangible nanotechnology-based solutions for food security, energy security, water purification, medicine and healthcare vis-à-vis waste management

Photography - girlfriend leading - http://petapixel.com/2013/03/01/photographer-captures-girlfriend-leading-him-around-the-world/

Nagarajan, Rema (2013): http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/80-of-medicines-not-covered-by-price-control-order/articleshow/26678324.cms
- government merely lifted the entire National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011, comprising 348 medicines, and placed it under price control
- The combinations not covered under NLEM account for Rs 31,866 crore or almost 45% of the total pharma market of Rs 71,246 crore in 2012
- S Srinivasan of LOCOST, a company producing drugs for use by NGOs to treat the poor
- An independent evaluation of the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy, by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development (ISID)

* Malaria Vaccine from Oxford - boosting CD8-T cells
- Nature Communications paper - http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2013/131128/ncomms3836/full/ncomms3836.html
- BS (2Dec) - http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/new-promising-malaria-vaccine-developed-113120100136_1.html
- Okairos - T-cell based vaccine company
- Genetic vaccines using modified Adenovirus vectors - http://www.okairos.com/files/file/Okairos%20Fact%20Sheet_%20Sept%20'2011(1).pdf

* Dinosaur DNA -- http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21590874-how-remnants-dinosaur-tissue-have-survived-millions-years-life?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/pe/lifeintheoldfossilyet
- "...nothing organic could possibily survive for 68 million years"
- highly reactive ions known as free radicals, which are produced by iron as it is released from the haemoglobin, interact with the organic tissue causing abnormal chemical bonds to form. These bonds effectively tie proteins in knots at the molecular level, much as the preservative formaldehyde does.
- DNA is thought to have a half-life of 521 years

- Can iron-preserved proteins retain DNA structure? ... the team used an iron-removal compound known as pyridoxal isonicotinic hydrazide to delicately pull iron away from the dinosaur tissues without damaging them. They then added four different stains that react only with either DNA itself, or with proteins closely associated with it in organisms other than microbes. Remarkably, in all cases, these specific stains lit up inside the ancient cells in the tissue samples.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

For Argument's Sake

A drunken Indian got run over by a bus. His friends vented their anger on public property, by overturning a few vehicles, torching some police cars and running amok until they got bored and exhausted.

This would have been a fairly commonplace sequence of events in most cities. Singapore was not meant to be one of them. Following the ethnic riots of the 1960s, the city-state under Lee Kuan Yew had enforced a series of measures to ensure small sparks did not lead to major conflagrations.

Unfortunately this is exactly what happened last week. Temporary migrant workers of Indian origin let loose their anger and frustration on public property. The police was at first taken aback but finally when the dust settled, 30 workers were booked, many were imprisoned or deported. While all this was going on, it was interesting to see what was happening on the sidelines.

One particular 'average singaporean' went overboard with his allegations about Indians in general, and in reply, this is what one Mogan Das had to say -

useful article.i was looking for a piece of writing for my students that will demonstrate fallacies in argument.you seem to have covered nearly all - ad hominem, burden of proof, reductive fallacy, argument from false authority,use of cliches, confusing correlation and causation, appeal to coincidence, false cause amongst many many other fallacies...in such a short article furthermore.i don't know where you were educated but it certainly paid off. i didn't know that people like you actually existed. people posting comments here may call you a degenerate and a dehumanized piece of asswipe, rightly so if i may add, but i still need to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this 'excellent' piece of analysis that will entertain my students for years to come.

Humor and sarcasm aside, I was not able to differentiate some fallacies in argument. Here is a refresher recap:

* Ad hominem - Attack on the character of a person rather than his arguments
* Burden of proof - Also known "appeal to ignorance" this fallacy places the burden of proof on the wrong side

For a full list of fallacies, please check the Nizkor Project link.



Logical fallacies - https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/659/03/

The Nizkor Project - https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/659/03/

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Biotech Meets Nanotech

In India, Nano is the name adopted for a little car which was meant to be the most affordable car in the world.

On the other side of the globe, in USA, a scientist-entrepreneur of Indian origin is ready with something on a completely different scale. Dr. Anita Goel of Nanobiosym, has created a portable device called Gene-RADAR which, for the first time, can detect deadly diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in less than an hour, using just a drop of saliva or blood.

Incredible as this may sound, it is one of the many strides that being made with 'devices' that are no bigger than some molecules. In this case, Gene-RADAR uses nano-machines to detect specific DNA and RNA bio-markers in real time.

What are these nano-machines? A nano refers to a billionth measure (1/10^9). So a nanometer is a meter divided by 1000,000,000. It is a scale on which you can describe the size of molecules, parts of a living cell and the wavelength of visible light-spectrum.

Such devices are beginning to be used to detect the presence of viruses. As of now, the most accurate form of HIV viral load testing is  based on polymerase chain reaction technology,  a technique which amplifies a few copies of a piece of DNA to generate thousands or millions of a particular sequence for testing. In the U.S., the test costs about $200, and takes at least two weeks to get results, since the equipment used is large and not found in most hospitals.

At AIIMS in India, the premier, government-subsidized tertiary hospital in New Delhi, the same test costs about Rs.6000 (~ USD 100). Even then, it is way beyond the reach of regular patients.The is some hope that Nanobiosym's innovations will help bring down the cost of these tests.

Dr. Goel is  a pioneer in the emerging field of nanobiophysics, a new science at the convergence of physics, nanotechnology, and biomedicine. Her company aims to drastically cut the time and cost involved in diagnosing diseases, especially in parts of the world where it is difficult to install cumbersome lab equipment. Gene-RADARs are going to be field-tested in Rwanda next year, and possibly in India, later.

Under the current set of laws and regulations covering clinical trials, it is difficult to test the technology in India. It would be interesting to see how the device fares in Rwanda.



* What to consider before a DNA test -- http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323308504579087103446161772

* Beikimpis, Victoria (2013) - Heal Thyself - http://mag.newsweek.com/2013/12/06/heal-thyself.html

* http://www.nanobiosym.com/our-team.html
- science & tech in society forum - http://www.stsforum.org/

* 23andMe - http://www.newsweek.com/fda-doesnt-want-you-unzip-your-genes-207358
- 23andMe - DIY genetic screening device - uses just a saliva swab
- Promised “health reports on 254 disease and conditions,” “carrier status,” “health risks” and “drug response” as a “first step in prevention…"

* http://venturebeat.com/2013/11/26/warning-letter-to-23andme-could-be-a-landmark-case-for-health-care/
- The FDA recently clamped down on a mobile medical app called uChek, pointing out that the company’s marketing was misleading.
-  Navigenics (a 23andMe rival that was acquired by Life Technologies for an unspecified sum)

* http://venturebeat.com/2012/08/13/using-a-few-drops-of-saliva-23andme-creates-a-song-out-of-your-dna/

* http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-25/a-portable-hiv-test-that-provides-results-in-minutes
- Gene-Radar uses nano-machines to detect specific DNA and RNA bio-markers in real time
- other lab-on-a-chip project - Theranos, for example, recently made its instant diagnosis technology available in some Walgreens (WAG) stores

* http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/blog/bioflash/2013/12/still-in-stealth-nanobiosym-sheds.html

* http://mag.newsweek.com/2013/10/18/cervical-cancer.html

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Squirrels on a Chinar Tree

At an IGNCA exhibition of Mughal miniature paintings this was one of my favorites. 

Painted about 500 years ago by an artist named Abu'l Hassan and titled "Squirrels on a Plane Tree", it shows a hunter attempting to climb up a lovely, lone Chinar, sending a dozen furry tails scampering into the autumn foliage.

One question remained though - are the squirrels in the upper Himalaya's different from the common striped ones you see on the plains? 

The squirrels in this painting certainly look a lot more like the ones in the Ushiku Daibutsu zoo in Japan, than any types I've seen in India so far..

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Japan's Not-so-Royal Expectations

The Emperor & Empress of Japan are now on a visit to India after 53 years. Highlighting the significance of this visit, Sanjaya Baru, in his article, "Love from Tokyo" (IE, 21 Nov., 2013), describes how a seemingly Indian-looking sculpture behind a Tokyo hotel reminded him of the ‘firm foundations of an ancient civilizational link’ between the two countries.

Even a cursory look at the recorded history of the two countries will tell you that if at all there is a civilizational link' between India and Japan, it runs through China. The iconography that so impressed Baru does indeed come in many forms, and they all have Chinese names. The six-handed figure may have been that of "Kannon", the Goddess of Mercy. At the ancient shrines in Kyoto there are also numerous icons of "Binzuru", better known as the Buddhist monk, Pindola Bharadwaja.

Tenuous historical connections aside, as we prepare to welcome the royal couple it would be useful to remind urselves that Japan's monarchy, has only been a front for alternate power centers in Japan for nearly a thousand years. Ever since the military generals - the Shoguns - usurped political power after the Warring States Periods (Sengoku Jidai), the monarchs have mostly been playing a symbolic role scripted outside their palaces.

Symbols are of course powerful instruments in nation-building.

Japan's monarchy, as it exists today, is a carefully constructed artifact of the Meiji Restoration period (1868-1912). It was in this remarkable phase of Japan's history that reformers emerging from the Samurai elite displaced the Shogun and notionally restored power to the monarchy.

Behind the scenes, a band of young, bold reformers - most of them freshly minted from foreign universities - rammed through tough reforms that made Japan what it is today. Almost overnight, they abolished Samurai class titles and distinctions; imposed free, compulsory education and established an effective national healthcare system.

The reformers also decided to replace Buddhism, which had turned 'decadent, meek and submissive', with a state-sponsored version of Shintoism, headed by the monarch himself. Thus an emperor, who could go shopping in Tokyo without being recognized by the public, was re-launched by the Meiji nationalists to play the role of a 'Living God' and foisted as the 'Symbol of Japan'.

The strategy was a runaway success. A deeply feudal, agrarian society transformed itself within just a few decades into a modern industrial powerhouse, and a shining example to the rest of the under-developed world.

It is an enduring Asian tragedy that Japan's emergence as a westernized, industrial state also turned it into yet another, relentless, exploitative colonial power. As Imperial Japan marched from one conquest to another; starting with Manchuria, Taiwan and Korea, to almost the whole of East Asia, it left in its wake, a legacy that rankles even today: Unit 731, Nanjing, Comfort Women, and a string of disputed islands.

The Japan that re-emerged from the war, and American occupation, was a very different country. Article 9 of its Constitution “renounced war forever”. Under Prime Minister Yoshida’s doctrine, it outsourced national defense to USA, and diverted all its resources towards building a strong export-oriented economy.

In many ways, the post-war economic boom also turned it into a timid, insular society which, like a rich moneylender imagines that throwing money around can solve the problems of the world. Today it is a country where the old outnumber the young, and its university graduates increasingly prefer to stay at home, in cities, rather than venture into the outside world. Japan’s lifeline of export-oriented industries is steadily losing out to other Asian economies - especially South Korea, Taiwan and China.

And yet, as we have seen in the aftermath of the 2011 'Triple Disaster', few people in the world have the disciple, stoicism and pragmatism to bounce-back, and to thrive against all odds.

In this context, as the Japan reaches out to strengthen its linkages with India, let us let us clearly recognize our own perceived weaknesses. First of all, we talk too much. The O-shaberi Indo-jin (glib-talking Indian) is a title we could do without. We prefer to indulge in sentimental tosh instead of acting on practical decisions. We tend to sacrifice long-term relationships for short-term gains.

The Japanese need a stable, predictable destination to park their investments. They need a steady source for rare earths, iron ore and other raw materials. They need greater access to our markets and human resources. Instead of swiftly bridging these demand-supply gaps, we flip-flop over many things such as the dedicated freight corridor project. After years of negotiations our finance ministry now reported to be having 'second thoughts' about accepting a US$ 4.5 billion loan for the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project.

All said and done, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are being sent here on a business trip, let us not bore them with fairy tales about civilizational linkages. It is pragmatism that brings the Japanese to India. Lets us not disappoint them with our version of business-as-usual.


* Chellany, Brahma -- http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/brahma-chellaney-analyzes-the-geopolitical-significance-of-the-japanese-emperor-s-upcoming-trip-to-india

* http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/japan-emperor-wife-to-visit-india-from-nov-30/article5375576.ece
- In the financial year 2011-12, India-Japan bilateral trade reached USD 18.43 billion.
- 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan

* Dikshit, Sandeep (10Jul13) - http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/japanese-emperor-empress-to-visit-india/article4898930.ece

* http://thediplomat.com/2013/11/india-to-host-japanese-emperor/

* http://www.independent.ie/world-news/letter-to-emperor-sparks-japan-row-29734991.html
- MP - Taro Yamamoto - letter to HH

November 2013 - Interesting Articles & Links

The Four "Cs" of Innovation -- http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/sami-mahroum-on-the-global-competition-for-the-next-new-thing

* Aravind, Indulekha (2013): A LIFESAVING WARMTH, BS 16Nov13 -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/a-life-saving-warmth-113111601151_1.html
- Rahul Panicker, Jane Chen, Naganand Murty and Linus Liang -- Embrace
-  Stanford University class titled Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability
- According to WHO, 20 million premature and low-birth-weight babies are born every year, out of which four million die in the first month
- $90,000 fellowship from Echoing Green Ventures and another $35,000 for winning the Stanford business plan competition.
- Investors and supporters include Vinod Khosla's Khosla Impact Fund and Jeff Skoll's Capricorn Investment Group, as well as Ranjan Pai of the Manipal Group and Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

* The Employee - 'best short movie ever made' - http://www.artthesystem.com/2013/11/the-best-short-movie-has-ever-made-102.html

* Geeta Govinda - Dheera Samire Yamuna Theere -- http://gitagovinda.wordpress.com/2012/11/22/ashtapadi11/
- Meaning -- http://www.sangeetasudha.org/jayadeva/j10.html

* Ram Guha on Nehru -- http://www.telegraphindia.com/1131116/jsp/opinion/story_17562525.jsp#.UofZgY2x8yp
- Great human achievements are always the result of combined endeavors in which numerous people take part. It may be that one person takes the last step, but the other persons also count and should not be forgotten.

* Tharoor on Modi -- https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/shashi-tharoor-on-india-s-main-opposition-leader--narendra-modi

* Obituary - Augusto Odone - the economist behind a medical breakthrough - http://www.economist.com/news/obituary/21589838-augusto-odone-world-bank-economist-who-derived-lorenzos-oil-treat-his-son-died-october
- ADRENOLEUKODYSTROPHY (ALD) is a rare and terrible disease. A faulty X-chromosome lets very-long-chain fatty acids accumulate, and cripple the body. They eat away at the myelin sheath which insulates the nervous system. The victims—mostly boys—become mute, deaf, blind and paralysed. Then they die, often by choking on their own saliva.
-  A mixture of oleic and erucic acids (in effect, olive and rapeseed oil) should, he reasoned, inhibit the effects of the deadly acids, soaking them up before they hurt the nervous system.
- The charity founded in Lorenzo’s name, the Myelin Project, now pays for gene therapy and stem-cell research.

* Kochi Metro gets Rs.1500 Cr loan from French agency, AFD @ 11% -- http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/kochi-metro-bags-rs1500crore-loan/article5355438.ece
- Total project cost - Rs.5537 Cr

* Biotech transforming soya oil -- "In a Bean -- a Boon to Biotech" -- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/16/business/in-a-bean-a-boon-to-biotech.html
- Despite industry promises to create better-tasting or more nutritional foods, virtually all the biotech crops introduced since 1996 have been aimed at helping farmers control weeds and insects. That has made it easier for various consumer interest groups to oppose the crops.
Monsanto’s Vistive Gold soybeans and DuPont Pioneer’s Plenish soybeans are engineered to silence the gene for an enzyme that converts oleic fatty acid into linoleic acid.

*  Raghavan, Srinath on Sri Lanka - http://www.asianage.com/columnists/choking-chogm-588

* Poem - Charles Burkowsky - Go All the Way -- http://vimeo.com/78472610

* Dance moves - http://www.edisproduction.de/2013/10/20/man-with-awesome-dance-moves-will-amaze-you/

* http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/11/typhoon-philippines?fsrc=scn/fb/wl/bl/horrorafterHaiyan

* Introverts -- http://themetapicture.com/how-to-interact-with-the-introverted/

* Two Theories about Gold Imports - http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/devesh-kapur-marla-spivack-arvind-subramanian-milan-vaishnav-two-theories-about-gold-113110500998_1.html#!
- while India claims to import large amounts of gold from Switzerland (more than $26 billion), Switzerland reports that it shipped gold worth less than $6 million (yes, million, not billion) to India
Switzerland ranked first among the major countries to which India despatched its secret tax and finance-related queries (232 in all) during the last fiscal year.

* Best coin ever spent -- http://www.edisproduction.de/2013/10/14/best-coin-ever-spent/

* Partition photos - LIFE - http://greatgameindia.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/rare-photos-of-partition-of-india-1947/

* 10 things Japan gets awesomely right - http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/11/09/10-things-japan-gets-awesome-right/

* 10 Corporations Control Almost Everything you Buy (in USA) - http://www.policymic.com/articles/71255/10-corporations-control-almost-everything-you-buy-this-chart-shows-how

* Vikramaditya and his Nava Ratnas - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikramaditya

* Wife's Cancer -- http://thefreethoughtproject.com/guys-wife-cancer-unforgettable-3-photos-destroyed-me/

* 39 Life Lessons - http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11523/39-life-lessons-ive-learned-in-39-years.html

* Why do we draw Rangolis? -- http://guruprasad.net/posts/why-do-indians-draw-rangoli-scientific-reason/

* Dale Carnegie - http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21588832-folksy-tips-father-self-help-america-how-succeed

* Yakuza -- http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21588937-japanese-bank-wrestles-lending-gangsters-loans-and-sharks

* Saar Please give me  posting -- http://www.accountabilityindia.in/raghubytes/saar-please-give-me-posting

* Tweet Technology -- http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-11-07/the-hidden-technology-that-makes-twitter-huge

* Ponnappa, Shyam (2013): BS - http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/shyam-ponappa-predictability-in-infrastructure-113110601126_1.html

* 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong -- http://en.rocketnews24.com/2013/11/06/10-things-japan-gets-horribly-wrong/

* Guha, Ramachandra (2013):  A DANGLING CONVERSATION -- http://caravanmagazine.in/essay/dangling-conversation?page=0%2C0

* WB data - GDP indicators - http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG
- net ODA flows - http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/DT.ODA.ALLD.CD/countries - India $3b (2011)

* 15 most inspirational books for entrepreneurs -- http://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/229656

* India's Middle-class Defer Dreams -- http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/economic-slowdown-inflation-cause-indias-middle-class-to-defer-dreams

* http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/looking-for-intimacy-in-the-age-of-facebook.html

* Anyone can be a polymath - http://www.aeonmagazine.com/world-views/anyone-can-learn-to-be-a-polymath/

* Venture Japan -- http://venturejapan.blogspot.jp/2013/10/2013-10-19-venture-into-japan-1-13.html

* Flight Crash Memorial -- http://www.viralnova.com/i-noticed-this-tiny-thing-on-google-maps-and-when-i-zoomed-in-well-nothing-could-prepare-me/

* Bhattacharya, Jyotirmoy (2013): INTELLIGENT DEVICES, EPW, 2Nov13 -- http://www.epw.in/postscript/intelligent-devices.html
- Arduino - pen source electronics -- http://www.epw.in/postscript/intelligent-devices.html

* Asagne, Julian (2013): GOOGLE AND THE BANALITY OF DONT BE EVIL -- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-banality-of-googles-dont-be-evil.html?_r=1&

* Doodles from Ecuador -- http://twistedsifter.com/2013/10/doodles-that-incorporate-everyday-objects-javier-perez/

* NItish Kumar vs. Modi - Repartee - http://www.telegraphindia.com/1131030/jsp/frontpage/story_17510768.jsp#.UnOaMfk_us3

* Virgin America - Airline Instructional Video - http://elitedaily.com/news/world/virgin-americas-new-flight-instruction-safety-video-amazing/

* Kashyap, Anurag (2013) - short film - THAT DAY AFTER EVERYDAY -- http://www.filmycurry.com/that-day-after-everyday-a-short-film/

* Milo Manara - illustrator - http://www.milomanara.it/

- Human history - http://redaccion.lamula.pe/2013/10/27/la-historia-de-la-humanidad-por-milo-manara/danielavila/

* CNR Rao - Bharat Ratna, BS 16Nov13 -- http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/c-n-r-rao-the-man-pioneering-the-next-wave-of-nanoscience-113111601191_1.html
- Founder of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Rao has about 50 doctorates and 1,400 research papers (!)
- JNCASR - four major areas—advanced materials, molecular biology and genetics, evolutionary biology and engineering mechanics -- among the few research institutes to specialise in areas such as biology through nano-science. The institute is also working on a host of critical areas such as cancer, malaria, epilepsy, and HIV.