Archive for May, 2010


The male mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) or man-ape of equatorial West Africa has an average head and body length of 61-76 cm (24-30 in) and a tail length of 5.2-7.6 cm (2-3 in). Adult males weigh an average of 25 kg (55 lb), although specimens weighting up to 54 kg (119 lb) and measuring 50.8 cm (20 in) to the shoulder have been known. The mandrill is also one of the most colourful mammals, recognized by its naked vivid-blue rump, red-striped face and yellow beard.

Student creates self-healing concrete

Self-healing “smart building materials” have the potential to reduce structure repair costs, lower cement-production carbon emissions and even save lives.

Recently, an engineering student from the University of Rhode Island (URI) announced that she has developed a self-healing concrete that would be inexpensive to produce.

Michelle Pelletier, collaborating with URI Chemical Engineering Professor Arijit Bose, created a concrete matrix that was embedded with a micro-encapsulated sodium silicate healing agent. When cracks formed in the concrete, the capsules ruptured and released the agent into the adjacent area. The sodium silicate reacted with the calcium hydroxide already present in the concrete, and formed a calcium-silica-hydrate gel that healed the cracks and blocked the concrete’s pores. The gel hardened in about one week.

Fish scared of their own reflections

Fish get scared by looking at their own reflection and try to fight themselves in a mirror, biologists have discovered.

Researchers compared the behaviour and brain activity of fish during one-on-one encounters with a mirror and another male of about the same size.

The team from Stanford University found male African cichlid were scared when they saw their reflection, and that this fear increased when they realised it was making the same movements as them.

It’s said this means fish are actually smarter than most people give them credit for and their brains work in much the same way as humans.

I think we all know someone who gets confused by their own reflection and will pick a fight with it — especially after a few drinks on a Friday night.
“It seems like something they don’t understand,” said Julie Desjardins, a postdoctoral researcher in biology.

“But I think it indicates there is more going on cognitively than people have long assumed in fish. I think this stimulus is just so far outside their realm of experience that it results in this somewhat emotional response.”

The discovery was made by examining the fishes’ brains, which showed high activity in the amygdala, the brain region crucial to fear, in those which had encountered their reflection.

“The amygdala is a part of the brain that has been associated with fear and fear conditioning, not only in fish but across all vertebrates,” added Desjardins.

Balloon man bids for cross English Channel

A daredevil whose cluster balloon flights in office chairs made him a worldwide star has begun his attempt to cross the English Channel.

Jonathan R. Trappe is bidding to become the first person to cross the stretch of water by helium balloon.

Trappe set off from Kent Gliding Club in Challock, near Ashford, just after 5am, although where he will finish remains up in the air.

Most pieces of music performed

On 5 May 2010, a new record for the most pieces of music performed by a solo artist in 24 hours was achieved by a Japanese pianist Yukio Yokoyama at Tokyo Opera City concert hall in Tokyo, Japan. The concert was organised to celebrate the Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s 200th anniversary, and Mr Yokoyama’s aim was to perform all of his solo piano pieces, total 166, in one concert.

The concert started at 9 am on 4 May. There were already many people in the audience looking forward to the experience of the day of Chopin. Mr Yokoyama started with the Rondo op.1 and went on to play the 166 pieces chronologically.

When the last part of the concert started at 9 pm, the concert was still full and there was a special atmosphere in the concert hall – it was as if the audience and the pianist had become one. Mr Yokoyama did not show any tiredness and continued performing powerfully without looking at any musical scores as he had memorised all the pieces.

The concert finally finished at 0:45 am on 5 May. The official Guinness World Records adjudicator Kaoru Ishikawa was there to verify the record. As the guideline regulates that each piece must last over 1 min 30 sec, 27 short pieces were deducted from the total 166 performed, and the record was announced as 139. Ms Ishikawa said, ‘ I was overwhelmed by Mr Yokoyama’s performance through the day. Even though it was a long day, I had a memorable day listening to his beautiful performance.’ As the certificate was presented to Mr Yokoyama on stage, the audience all stood up and cheered the pianist for a long time.

World’s biggest football unveiled

The excitement over the 2010 World Cup taking place in South Africa rose in Lagos with the unveiling of the world’s biggest ball.

At 36 feet high, it is officially the biggest ball on the planet. The unveiling, which took place at the grounds of the Lagos Polo Club in Ikoyi, attracted a motley crowd of businessmen, artists, footballers and sundry other people.

Slowest train in Japan

Japan is known for its high speed bullet trains, but one of the most spectacular lines in the country has a top speed of only 20km/h.

It runs through a gorge in the north of the country, an area, which is so mountainous and snowy, the service, can only run in the summer.

ex hormone explains higher liver cancer risk in men

Male sex hormones may explain why men who suffer from the hepatitis B liver disease are more likely to develop liver cancer than women, researchers in Taiwan have found.

In a paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the researchers said hepatitis B viruses attach themselves to receptors of the male sex hormone androgen before going on to damage liver tissue and cause cancer.

“The findings indicate that using drugs to destroy … androgen receptors could be a new way to battle liver cancer at an early stage,” they wrote.

Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer and the third leading cause of global cancer death.

Hepatitis B virus infection, which is endemic in many Asian countries including China, is a leading cause of liver cancer and accounts for half of liver cancer cases worldwide.

Men are up to seven times more likely than women to develop liver cancer. Among hepatitis B virus carriers, men are up to three times more likely to develop liver cancer than women.

Led by Ming-Heng Wu at the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences in National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, Taiwan, researchers found that hepatitis B viruses have a special DNA sequence which draws it to androgen receptors.

“The androgen receptors in liver cells bind to this sequence and trigger a cascade of damage to liver tissue,” they explained.

In their experiment, the researchers created mice that were infected with the hepatitis B virus and could easily develop liver tumors upon exposure to cancer-causing agents.

Some of these were genetically modified to be lacking in androgen receptors in their livers.

By week 22 in the experiment, more than 90 percent of those mice with androgen receptors had developed liver tumors compared to 27 percent of the mice without androgen receptors.

Tinkering with the receptors did not change overall androgen levels or leave any obvious toxic effects in the mice.

“Targeting the androgen receptor rather an androgen could be a promising therapy for liver cancer,” the researchers said.

Wedding bells for Freida Pinto and Dev Patel

Freida Pinto and Dev Patel, the cute and sweet couple of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ were in love relationship soon after the release of movie and even accepted it publically that they are seeing each other.

Now the buzz is that the actors of Oscar-winning film are planning to get married soon.

The sources reveal that the lovebirds were seen asking for a wedding cake at a bakery and planning the needful to fly it to India for their wedding.

Both of them visited ‘Sweet Lady Jane’ bakery in Los Angeles, US. The source said, “They had one of their first dates at the bakery, so it’s special to them. It’s more than a cake!”

According to the sources, the marriage is expected to be traditional and royal.

It the rumours get true then it would be the foremost couple in industry who will give more priority to their marriage than their career that is however flying high in air these days with so many Hollywood projects in hand.

57 ancient tombs with mummies unearthed in Egypt

Archeologists have unearthed 57 ancient Egyptian tombs, most of which hold an ornately painted wooden sarcophagus with a mummy inside, Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities said.

The oldest tombs date back to around 2750 B.C. during the period of Egypt’s first and second dynasties, the council said in a statement. Twelve of the tombs belong the 18th dynasty which ruled Egypt during the second millennium B.C.

The discovery throws new light on Egypt’s ancient religions, the council said.

Egypt’s archaeology chief, Zahi Hawass, said the mummies dating to the 18th dynasty are covered in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead and scenes featuring ancient Egyptian deities.

Abdel Rahman El-Aydi, head of the archaeological mission that made the discovery, said some of the tombs are decorated with religious texts that ancient Egyptians believed would help the deceased to cross through the underworld.

El-Aydi said one of the oldest tombs is almost completely intact, with all of its funerary equipment and a wooden sarcophagus containing a mummy wrapped in linen.

In 31 tombs dating to around 2030-1840 B.C, archeologists discovered scenes of different ancient Egyptian deities, such as the falcon-headed Horus, Hathor, Khnum and Amun, decorating some of the tombs.

The council said the findings were unearthed at Lahoun, in Fayoum, some 70 miles (100 kilometers) south of Cairo.

Last year, some 53 stone tombs dating back to various ancient periods were found in the area.

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