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Cyber Quiz



1. Google’s new URL-shortening service is called…?

2. Name the CIO and CTO in Barack Obama’s administration.

3. In October 2009, which company did Forbes name as the largest privately held computer-hardware company in the US?

4. Which country has topped China as the world’s most prolific spammer by being responsible for 7.7 trillion spam e-mail messages in the year through November?

5. What term used in cyber-security was coined by Jeremiah Grossman and Robert Hansen in 2008?

6. Wii Sports is on to a new trend of ‘exer-gaming’. What is it?

7. Which popular p2p file-sharing search engine was founded by Gary Fung?

8. Which pioneering online project in mass communication, brainchild of photographer Rick Smolan, took place on February 8, 1996?

9. How did Newsweek’s Dan Lyons achieve fame or infamy?

10. Who recently announced the launch of a 64 GB embedded NAND flash memory module, the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry?



2. Vivek Kundra and Aneesh Chopra.

3. Kingston Technology Company.

4. Brazil

5. ‘Clickjacking’.

6. Exercising by playing video games.

7. isoHunt.

8. ‘24 Hours in Cyberspace’.

9. As the ‘Fake Steve’ Jobs.

10. Toshiba


Courtesy: V V Ramanan, Business Line

Filed under: YW-Cyber Quiz

ipl2 :Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII)


Information you can trust

ipl2 is the result of a merger of the Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII).

"ipl2: information you can trust" was launched, merging the collections of resources from the Internet Public Library (IPL) and the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII) websites. The site is hosted by Drexel University’s College of Information Science & Technology, and a consortium of colleges and universities with programs in information science are involved in developing and maintaining the ipl2.

ipl2 is a public service organization and a learning/teaching environment. To date, thousands of students and volunteer library and information science professionals have been involved in answering reference questions for our Ask an ipl2 Librarian service and in designing, building, creating and maintaining the ipl2’s collections. It is through the efforts of these students and volunteers that the ipl2 continues to thrive to this day.

Filed under: Website of the week,

Quiz Time



1. Released in July 2009, ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich is about the founding of which popular Internet phenomenon?

2. In which state is the Maharana Pratap Sagar?

3. Who is the only player to have played and scored in every single season of the English Premier League since its inception?

4. Which unit of length, used mostly in sci-fi, is equal to just under 31 trillion kilometres or about 3.26 light-years?

5. In which Asian capital city was a statue of Barack Obama as a schoolboy unveiled recently?

6. On December 15, the world observed the 150th birthday of the inventor of Esperanto, a constructed language designed for international communication. Name him.

7. In which Indian city is Chowmahalla Palace?

8. What is the name of the dog in Jack London’s famous ‘The Call of the Wild’?

9. What is the stage name of Herschel Shmoikel Pinchas Yerucham Krustofski?

10. Who originally named the Hawaiian islands as ‘Sandwich Islands’?

11. What type of food item is ‘Gazpacho’?

12. Which letter of the Greek alphabet can also mean a very tiny amount?

13. In athletics, which is the longest track event where the competitors use a starting block?

14. Which reference book is commonly referred to as OED?

15. In which city was Princess Diana killed in an accident?


1. Facebook
2. Himachal Pradesh
3. Ryan Giggs of Manchester United
4. Parsec (parallax of one arcsecond)
5. Jakarta
6. L.L. Zamenhof
7. Hyderabad
8. Buck
9. Krusty the Clown in ‘The Simpsons’
10. Captain James Cook
11. A cold soup
12. Iota
13. 400m and the 400m hurdles
14. Oxford English Dictionary
15. Paris.

Courtesy: V V Ramanan, The Hindu

Filed under: Young World Quiz,

Passwords aplenty

Dec 18th 2009 | LOS ANGELES


How to stay sane as well as safe while surfing the web

AT THIS time of the year, your correspondent crosses the Pacific to Japan for a month or so. He repeats the trip during the summer. He considers it crucial in order to keep abreast of all the ingenious technology which, once debugged by the world’s most acquisitive consumers, will wind up in American and European shops a year or two later.

Each time he packs his bags, though, he is embarrassed by having to include a dog-eared set of notes that really ought to be locked up in a safe. This is his list of logons and passwords for all the websites he uses for doing business and staying in touch with the rest of the world. At the last count, the inch-thick list accumulated over the past decade or so—your correspondent’s sole copy—includes access details for no fewer than 174 online services and computer networks.

He admits to flouting the advice of security experts: his failings include using essentially the same logon and password for many similar sites, relying on easily remembered words—and, heaven forbid, writing them down on scraps of paper. So his new year’s resolution is to set up a proper software vault for the various passwords and ditch the dog-eared list.

Your correspondent’s one consolation is that he is not alone in using easily crackable words for most of his passwords. Indeed, the majority of online users have an understandable aversion to strong, but hard-to-remember, passwords. The most popular passwords in Britain are “123” followed by “password”. At least people in America have learned to combine letters and numbers. Their most popular ones are “password1” followed by “abc123”.

Unfortunately, the easier a password is to remember, the easier it is for thieves to guess. Ironically, the opposite—the harder it is to remember, the harder it is to crack—is often far from true. That is because, not being able to remember long, jumbled sets of alphanumeric characters interspersed with symbols, people resort to writing them down on Post-it notes left lying around the office or home for all and sundry to see.

Apart from stealing passwords from Post-it notes and the like, intruders basically use one of two hacks to gain access to other people’s computers or networks. If time and money is no problem, they can use brute-force methods that simply try every combination of letters, numbers and symbols until a match is found. That takes a lot of patience and computing power, and tends to be the sort of thing only intelligence agencies indulge in.

A more popular, though less effective, way is to use commercial software tools such as “L0phtCrack” or “John the Ripper” that can be found on the internet. These use dictionaries, lists of popular passwords and rainbow tables (lookup tools that turn long numbers computed from alphanumeric characters back into their original plain text) to recover passwords.

According to Bruce Schneier, an independent security expert, today’s password crackers “can test tens—even hundreds—of millions of passwords per second.” In short, the vast majority of passwords used in the real world can be guessed in minutes. And do not think you are being smart by replacing the letters “l” or “i” in a password with the number “1”; or the letter “s” with the number “5” or the symbol “$”. Cracking programs check all such alternatives, and more, as a matter of course.

What should you do to protect yourself? Chose passwords that are strong enough to make cracking them too time consuming for thieves to bother.

The strength of a password depends on its length, complexity and randomness. A good length is at least eight symbols. The complexity depends on the character set. Using numbers alone limits the choice to just ten symbols. Add upper- and lower-case letters and the complexity rises to 62. Use all the symbols on a standard ASCII keyboard and you have 95 to choose from.

The third component, randomness, is measured by a concept borrowed from thermodynamics—the notion of entropy (the tendency for things to become disordered). In information theory, a tossed coin has an entropy of one “bit” (binary digit). That is because it can come down randomly in one of two equally possible binary states.

At the other extreme, when you set the encryption of a Wi-Fi link, you are usually given the choice of 64-bit or even 128-bit security. Those bit-numbers represent the entropy (or randomness) of the encryption used. A password with 64 bits of entropy is as strong as a string of data comprising 64 randomly selected binary digits. Put another way, a 64-bit password would require 2 raised to the power of 64 attempts to crack it by brute force—in short, 18 billion billion attempts. A 64-bit password was finally cracked in 2002 using brute-force methods. It took a network of volunteers nearly five years to do so.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, the American government’s standards-measuring laboratory in Gaithersburg, Maryland, recommends 80-bit passwords for state secrets and the like. Such security can be achieved using passwords with 12 symbols, drawn from the full set of 95 symbols on the standard American keyboard. For ordinary purposes, that would seem overkill. A 52-bit password based on eight symbols selected from the standard keyboard is generally adequate.

How to select the eight? Best to let a computer program generate them randomly for you. Unfortunately, the result will be something like 6sDt%k&3 that probably needs to be written down. One answer, only slightly less rigorous, is to use a mnemonic constructed from the first letters (plus contractions) of an easily remembered phrase like “Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts” (MCa1otFA) or “To be or not to be: that is the question” (2Bo-2b:?).

Given a robust 52-bit password, you can then use a password manager to take care of the dozens of easily guessable ones used to access various web services. There are a number of perfectly adequate products for doing this. In an early attempt to fulfil his new year’s pledge, your correspondent has been experimenting with LastPass, a free password manager that works as an add-on to the Firefox web browser for Windows, Linux or Macintosh. Versions also exist for Internet Explorer on Windows and Safari on the Mac.

Once installed and given a strong password of its own, plus an e-mail address, LastPass encrypts all the logons and passwords stored on your computer. So, be warned: forget your master password and you could be in trouble—especially if you have let the program delete (as it urges you to let it do) all the vulnerable logons and passwords on your own computer.

Thereafter, to visit various web services, all you have to do is log into LastPass and click the website you wish to check out. The tool then automatically logs you on securely to the selected site. It will even complete all the forms needed to buy goods online if you have stored your home address, telephone number and credit-card details in the vault as well.

Your correspondent looks forward to using the service while travelling around Japan over the next month or so. To be on the safe side, however, his dog-eared list of passwords will still go with him.

Courtesy: The

Filed under: Online safety Tips, ,

‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’



Film Reviewed by

Kenneth Turan

November 19, 2009

The novel demands that Bella and Edward be kept apart, robbing the movie of the crazy love that made ‘Twilight’ such a guilty pleasure. And about the director ….

"This is the last time you’ll ever see me," Edward Cullen says to Bella Swan. As if.
Spoken early on in "New Moon," that promise is one of the least likely to be kept in movie history. With most of that film still to unfold, and two more adaptations of Stephenie Meyer’s "Twilight" series in the works, the next due out as soon as next summer, the world is going to see as much of Kristen Stewart’s melancholy Bella and Robert Pattinson’s undead Edward as it can take. Maybe more.

In the short term, however, Edward is as good as his word and "New Moon" suffers as a result. Constrained by the plot of the novel, the film keeps the two lovers apart for quite a spell, robbing the project of the crazy-in-love energy that made "Twilight," the first entry in the series, such a guilty pleasure.

"New Moon," which has been grandly titled "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" in honor of that first episode’s huge success, marks the franchise’s entrance into the self-protective, don’t rock the boat phase of its existence, which is inevitable but a bit of a shame.

In place of "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke, a filmmaker of intense, sometimes overwhelming and out of control emotionality who seemed to feel these teenage characters in her bones, "New Moon" has gone with the more polished Chris Weitz.

A smooth professional whose credits include such adaptations as "The Golden Compass" and "About a Boy," Weitz makes the vampire trains of Melissa Rosenberg’s capable script run on time, but he almost seems too rational a director for this kind of project. This lack of animating madness combined with the novel’s demands give much of "New Moon" a marking time quality.

Yes, I know, "New Moon’s" emotional energy is supposed to come through Bella’s putative attachment to newly buff best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). But though audiences gasp when Jacob uses his shirt to staunch Bella’s blood (don’t ask) and reveals a torso that would make Charles Atlas swoon, the connection between these two is so self-evidently non-romantic that it turns out not to be much of a diversion.

More interesting is Jacob’s discovery that as a member of the fierce Quileute tribe he is prone to turning into an exceptionally large wolf at a moment’s notice, a wolf whose main objective in life is to safeguard humans from vampires. In addition to pining for Edward, Bella suddenly finds herself in the middle of age-old and bitter enmities. This is one hard-luck young woman.

Before all this can happen, however, Edward has to break up with Bella. It’s not like you can’t see this coming, what with all the bickering these two do about whether she should be changed into a vampire, with Bella in the affirmative and Edward, worried, it seems, about her immortal soul, preferring she stay in human form.

Finally, weary of having family gatherings turn into howling crises whenever Bella gets a paper cut, Edward tells Bella he and his clan will be leaving town and see her no more. Given everything that passed between them in the previous film, this is a wildly unconvincing moment, but Bella is devastated and proceeds to spend much of her high school senior year sitting in her room watching the weather change.

At a certain point, Bella realizes that should she get into trouble, Edward will appear to her, much like a Bernadette of Lourdes-type glowing vision, offering sound advice (what a guy). This turns her into something of an adrenaline junkie, courting disaster after disaster just for a glimpse of the one that got away.

All this gets to be so troublesome and confusing that Edward decides to make a dramatic and possibly life-changing appearance before the Volturi and their minions, the closest thing vampires have to a they-who-must-be-obeyed ruling class. These folks are so powerful, they are played by high-profile actors like Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning. As Jimmy Durante might have said, where vampires are concerned, everybody wants to get into the act.

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Filed under: Snippets, ,

Cyber Quiz



1. In the context of MP3s, what is an ‘Artifact’?

2. What prides itself with the tagline ‘A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language.’?

3. Who is to be the CFO of Microsoft replacing Chris Liddell?

4. Chronologically, what was No. 1 in Webby Awards’ recently announced 10 most influential Internet moments of the decade (2000-2009)?

5. Simple. What is the extension for a compiled Java file?

6. Which US President was responsible for creating Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) from where we got the ARPANET?

7. Which consumer hardware company was founded by David Potter in 1980?

8. What term is Apple Computer CEO John Sculley said to have used for the first time to describe Apple Newton at its launch?

9. What is the nationality of Jarkko Oikarinen of the IRC fame?

10. In an episode of the sitcom ‘Friends’, which virus infects Ross’s laptop, when Chandler checks his, leading to Ross’s speech on archaeology being deleted?


1. An error, like a pop or a crackle, that an inferior encoder has created.


3. Peter Klein.

4. Craigslist moving outside San Francisco in 2000 to revamp the whole notion of classified ads.

5. .class

6. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

7. Psion.

8. PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).

9. Finnish.

10. Anna Kournikova virus.


Courtesy: V.V. Ramanan , Business Line

Filed under: YW-Cyber Quiz,

Are ebooks the future?




Pradeep Sebastian

Courtesy: The Hindu

Now that Kindle and other digital reading devices are hitting the mainstream, how will virtual words impact the reader and the experience of reading?

Waiting for a poetry reading to begin, Critic A can’t help eavesdropping on a conversation in progress: someone in the room can’t remember a line from a Wallace Stevens poem, and her neighbour ‘Kindles’ the quote, and in a few seconds supplies the line. All present are duly impressed except Critic A, who wonders if the Kindle has become to literature what Wikipedia is to information: “a one-stop outlet, a speedy and irresistibly efficient leveler of context”. That is, the poet Wallace Stevens had been taken out of his historical flesh and blood literary context, and his poetry turned into a piece of information.

Critic B, noting A’s dismay, observes that Blackberrying or Kindling Stevens instantly doesn’t deprive him of his historical and literary context — only forgetting him can do that. And if young people, say his 14-year-old son, can ‘call up’ a poem on his Blackberry in a matter of seconds, then a difficult poet like Wallace Stevens, always in danger of not being read enough, will actually find new readers. “Such liberation of access”, notes Critic B, “can only enrich and deepen the historical imagination — extending its nourishment to new audiences”.

It’s here now

It was perhaps several months ago that I chanced on this exchange — one resisting the Kindle, the other defending it — and thought to myself: why should we agonise over something that we don’t have in India — namely, the Kindle. But now that Amazon’s international version of this e-reading device is actually here (some Rs. 17,500 later), does it mean digital reading is finally becoming mainstream? I asked two prominent Indian publishers what they made of the eBook, and found them prepared and geared up for the revolution.

Thomas Abraham, Hachette India’s managing director is convinced (partly by how easily and frequently he uses an eReader now) that eBook conversion will happen faster than was supposed in India, but will remain a niche interest with the current device format. “The day real convergence occurs — when your phone, mp3 player and eReader are one device — is when you’ll see real mass usage. Hachette is a big believer in the future of the digital medium, both for content as well as distribution platforms. It has therefore set up a central group Digital division which will manage its whole eBook strategy.”

HarperCollins worldwide has for some years now been exploring ways to work closely with digital publishing partners including Amazon. HarperCollins India hopes to learn from their experience to create and partner similar initiatives in India. Its publisher and chief editor, V.K. Karthika is emphatic that “there is no getting away from the fact that digital publishing is the future of the written word. It could mean rethinking processes from scratch, including typesetting and design, not to mention sales and marketing. And of course, as an editor I may have to reinvent my role to adapt to the new technology.”

Neelini Sarkar, editorial assistant at HarperCollins added, “I think being part of traditional book publishing means that we tend to be somewhat skeptical of new-fangled reading formats and insist that e-books just don’t ‘feel’ the same. But they are certainly a convenience, some years down the line a necessity, and at the end of the day e-reading will probably make book-publishing a simpler process.” Listening to them, I realised what they were getting at would probably be echoed by most other publishers, and that it was time for even the fetishistic bibliophile, namely me, to recognise that the printed book and the digital book must co-exist.

But as a longtime reader of the printed book, I can tell you exactly what I’ll miss from an eBook: a particular memory of reading a book, that specific copy, in a certain way; when you return to re-read a book, the act of reading from the same wel- thumbedcopy. Of lending that edition to a friend. The smell of old ink-and not just a generic book smell but the familiar smell of thatcopy. Writing in the margins, bookmarking and shelving it. As a reader who has cared for books in their physical beauty — fine editions, memorable dust jackets, and lovely typefaces — I cannot help but feel that it will not be easy to replace the sensual ritual of feeling paper as you turn a page.


However, the digital book industry is racing to reassure us: CaféScribe, a French on-line publisher, hopes to satisfy the traditional reader by providing customers a sticker that “will give off a fusty, bookish smell when it is attached to their computers”, Amazon Kindle’s screen uses e-paper so you won’t miss white-cream paper, and the Tablet PC has the dimensions and shape of a book. From a long use of the printed book in our lives we know its aesthetics. In time, I feel that the eBook will acquire its own history, aesthetics and culture.

Robert Darnton, book historian and author of the recently published The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future describes at least one way the e-book enhances reading. “An ‘e-book’ unlike a printed codex, can contain many layers arranged in the shape of a pyramid, Readers can download the text and skim through the topmost layer…if they come upon something that especially interests them, they can click down a layer to a supplementary essay or appendix. They can continue deeper through the book, through bodies of documents, bibliography, historiography, iconography, background music…”

But Darnton also points out that there’s nothing still wrong with Movable Type — it has just lost a little to Code in speed and practicality. (Amazon’s most recent ad for Kindle is ‘In the time it takes to read this article, an entire book would have been downloaded’). Once — and for a very long time — the printed book was the fastest and most practical thing (compact, portable, no batteries required) having edged out manuscripts. Darnton believes that learning will ‘remain within the Gutenberg galaxy — though the galaxy will expand, thanks to a new source of energy, the electronic book, which will act as a supplement to, not a substitute for, Gutenberg’s great machine.’

Lingering confusion

I realised my initial skepticism — the skepticism of most traditional bibliophiles — comes from an old but lingering confusion that eBooks equal the decline of reading. We forget that reading itself is in no danger — the freedom experienced in reading is too addictive for that whether on page or screen. Besides, reading makes all forms its own. Consider: the form of the book is always morphing — from vellum manuscripts to wood pulp to pixels, from movable type to the printing press to code, and what remains constant is the experience of reading itself.

Filed under: Article of the Week, , , ,

KVS Annual Request Transfer 2010-2011 Application Form

Click here to download

Courtesy : Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, New Delhi

For further details visit KVS website

Filed under: Downloads, , , ,

Don’t miss this ‘Train of knowledge’


This is a train with a difference. It harbours a treasure trove of scientific information that young minds can feast on, ranging from the mysteries of the cosmos to the secrets of the atomic world. And it will stop at select towns and cities in India.

This 16-coach train is called the Science Express and it began its latest journey on October 2, 2009.

By the end April 2 next year, it would have traversed 18,000 kms and visited 56 cities. During its earlier trips it had already covered 100 cities across India.

Over 35 lakh visitors, mostly students, had in the past seen this science exhibition on wheels. It is now traversing Karnataka and will be in Kerala soon.

The website provides information about the current location and itinerary of the train, according to which the Kerala leg of the journey will begin at Kozhikode on December 23. Considering the global focus on climate change, of topical interest is an entire coach on ‘Climate Change-cause, effect and mitigation’.

The exhibits in the coach show how climate is changing spurred by human activity. Ways of adapting and mitigating climate change are also highlighted.

But that is not all. In the 12 exhibition coaches are displayed more than 300 large-format visual images, over 150 video clips and multimedia elements all of which go to make a travelling science exhibition.

It focuses a lot on cutting-edge research in science and technology as well.

Most of the exhibits were created by the Max Planck Society, Germany. The exhibits delve into the making of our universe – how it began, glimpses of space, black holes, galaxies, Big Bang, our home in the cosmos, spaceship Earth, simpler cold atoms, ultra-short light, biotechnology, building blocks of life from ‘gene to organism’, the world of senses, architecture of the mind, renewable energy, technologies and energy sources for future, nanocosmos, bio-engineering, genetics, cell biology, computer applications in medicine and global challenges. The exhibition, aimed mainly at high school and college students, will help them acquire a scientific temper and encourage them to pursue careers in science.

It also tries to take modern research out of the lab and reveal how science is relevant to everyday life and also to the future, in terms of enabling society to face global challenges.

Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC), Ahmedabad, is coordinating and managing ‘Science Express’ across India. VASCSC’s team comprising of science communicators aboard the train help visitors understand the exhibits better. Each of the coaches have exhibits on a specific theme – on the way to the big bang; from gene to organism; technologies of the future, nanocosmos; architecture of the mind; climate change; building blocks of life; the world of senses; global challenges; spaceship earth; our home in the cosmos; the universe; science and technology in India and the joy of science.

The Joy of science is a hands on lab where students can perform experiments and take part in various activities centered on physics, chemistry, biology, electronics and mathematics.

To know more and find the schedule of the Sceince Express visit the site here



The Exhibition topics are,

Coach 001

Why are the laws of nature the way they are?

Why did the world not disperse as light during the Big Bang, instead of forming stable matter? How did the Universe expand to its current size? What determined its speed? How constant are natural constants? And why do elementary particles have the mass that they do? Such are the questions at the core of modern physics – and at the essence of creation. Human life may never have emerged in a world with just slightly different natural constants.

In the search for answers, physicists are examining the elementary components of the material world and their interactions, the four fundamental forces: the strong interaction that binds quarks and atoms; the weak interaction important in radioactive decay; electromagnetic interaction and gravitation. The latter can still not be described by a closed theory. Physicists are thus developing a model of ‘physics beyond the standard model’ and searching for associated fields – such as the Higgs field, as the key to gravitation. They are doing this with the world’s largest accelerators: the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the future International Linear Collider and the accelerator in Brookhaven. In smaller experiments, they are determining natural constants more precisely than ever.

To this end, particle physicists, astrophysicists and cosmologists of the Max Planck Society are cooperating across the boundaries of their disciplines and internationally: with biologists at the molecular level, IT specialists in the field of quantum information, and with mathematicians on string theory.

Coach 002: NANO COSMOS

Coach 002

How can we systematically influence materials?

The nanocosmos is providing the physical, chemical and material science-related foundations for better, more compact and less-expensive future products. Technical applications are born – from the micro milling machine and ideal catalytic converter through to semiconducting polymers for optics and electronics. The targeted development of specific catalysts allows molecular designing of custom polymers.

New phenomena present challenges for scientists – the gigantic magnetoresistance (GMR) for new storage media, modern high-temperature superconductors or quantum states of matter, like Bose-Einstein condensate. The study of materials and their fabrication has long since reached the atomic level. Researchers at the Max Planck Society are breaking down chemical processes and the fundamental interactions between individual atoms chronologically. They are studying their magnetic, electrical and optical properties with new microscopy procedures and with synchrotron light. Their view of the anatomy, formation and transformation of matter has never been sharper.

Progress has also been made in material production with entirely new properties: away from the random creation of internal structures and towards targeted manipulation, even of individual atoms. Materials can now be customized, atomic layer by atomic layer, and nature has thus far assisted researchers in this through its own ordering processes. In the “ExtreMat” project, scientists from the Max Planck Society are coordinating research Europe-wide into new high-strength materials for extreme stress applications.


Coach 003

What is life?

The structures of living beings are complex and come in various shapes and forms. This holds true for the macroscopic organization of their tissues and organs as well as for microscopic interaction of their molecules, which interact with practically inconceivable dynamics. Among the highly complex macromolecules are information carriers that can be copied any number of times, tracks and engines that transport molecular loads, carriers that determine not only the statics of the cells, but also their mobility, and finally, membranes that seal the cells off from outside, while still allowing material exchange and communication with the surroundings. Thanks to new analysis and detection methods, research into the three-dimensional structures of these giant molecules and their functions in the cell is progressing rapidly. This depends on the refinement of existing methods and the development of new ones for imaging – for examinations in living cells – and on computer simulation.

To understand the processes in living cells, it is necessary to know more than the structure of macromolecules; knowledge of their interaction in groups, and temporal changes to which they are subject is also necessary. But how do enzymes ensure that chemical reactions, which are crucial for the way the cells function, take place in time and space? Can cells repair themselves? Which imbalances lead to diseases, whether developmental disturbances in childhood or signs of aging? An understanding of these processes is the potential for developing new medical agents or materials based on nature’s example.


Coach 004

Which programs control the development of life?

Like many organisms, a human being develops from a single cell. Today, the human genome has been completely decoded. Surprising discovery: our blueprint contains many molecular similarities to other living beings. But how does an organism develop from such a plan? How can completely different cells develop from one set of genetic information? Cells react with their surroundings, making use of different nutritional sources, repairing defects, and coordinating their activities in the growth and development cycle. How does the cell use the information encoded in the genome to fulfil its function? We know that an organism is not defined only by its genes. In addition to protein-encoded areas, DNA also contains regions that control the gene expression.

This explains why the number of genes does not continue to rise as the organism becomes more complex, or consequently why the same number of genes can produce a mouse or a person. But how do genes interact in networks, and what influence do external factors exert? Many afflictions, such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, result from the interactions of numerous genes and environmental factors. What is the difference between a sick and a healthy organism?

How can the natural control system be used for new therapy forms? Can we reprogram body cells? Today, researchers have the chance to study and understand life as a complex “system”. Together with new technologies, this could lead to new medicines that treat illnesses according to the individual genetic disposition.


Coach 005

How does the brain work?

The human brain is the most complex structure in the universe. It contains roughly 100 billion nerve cells, each of which has thousands of connections to other neurons. Their interaction controls each of the body’s functions, allows thoughts, perceptions, memories, feelings, and also movement and communication. Understanding just how the brain works, in health or in sickness, is one of the greatest challenges of our time. What is determined by genes, what is formed by experience? Neuroscientists are investigating all aspects of the nervous system.

Great progress can be expected in visualizing and modelling brain functions, as well as in research into their biological basis. Today, it is assumed that 30 to 50 percent of human genes exercise their function chiefly in the brain. This gives an indication of the complexity of the genetic control and development. The cause of many neurological diseases lies in defects in genes that play a role in development. Half of all genetic diseases affect the nervous system. The brain can only reach its full capability through interaction with its surroundings. Researchers are examining the interaction of genes and experiences with regard to the expression and fine–tuning of neuronal circuits in the brain. How do nerve cell processes find their goal? How do different brain areas develop? How do cognitive functions mature? Thanks to research, the prevention and cure of many brain diseases seems possible for the first time. Better knowledge of the way the brain processes information could, moreover, make new computers possible.


Coach 006

What is consciousness?

The ability to communicate using complex language and to think actively about one’s own history and future make us as humans unique. How did our brain evolve? What is the origin of language and that of cognitive and cultural human skills? Researchers want to throw light on important aspects of human evolution. Properties of individual nerve cells are already well researched today. However, when we think, smell, feel, make plans or learn, extremely complex processes are at work in our brain; they require the interaction of many neurons in different areas of the brain. New imaging methods make it possible to observe the brain as it produces cognitive results, and to trace at which times areas of the brain are activated. But how does the brain use the different information to produce an image of the world?

Research is focusing on more and more complex cognitive processes and structures: how do we recognize and distinguish faces, and how is language processed in the brain? Furthermore, what is the connection between individual differences in learning and intelligence with variations in the brain? How far can these differences be traced to a different genetic background? Additional progress should result in new integrative methods, which researchers are currently developing, to allow observation of the extensively branched neural networks and the development of functional organization in the brain. The goal is for smart agents and functional MRIs to make it possible to see changes in ion and molecular concentration, both of which are involved in signalling processes.


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Can complex systems be measured?

Extremely sensitive measuring instruments are required in order to understand what actually holds the world together and how processes occur in space or in living cells. They extend the human sensory organs that render the invisible visible. They provide the data for new theories. The technology involved is currently undergoing radical change: sensors are now of molecular proportions and can be made of polymers, coated ionic conductors or proteins. They function on the basis of atomic and quantum phenomena, and are becoming increasingly accurate at the same time. It is now already possible to measure the frequency of a hydrogen line to 14 decimal places. Consequently, the mountain of data continues to grow. Mainframe computers and distributed computing via grid computing form the basis for data handling. This results in a need for increasingly sophisticated selection strategies and new algorithms for data compression. Mathematical methods are the only way of understanding those organizational principles of nature that form the basis for the measured data, as well as the complex networks into which man is integrated – ranging from the food chain, social behaviour and chaotic irregularities during heart attacks, through to the fault susceptibility of the mains supply or mobile networks. How can this chaos be controlled? How can computers be used to recognize patterns as effectively as the brain? Or to what extent is it possible to employ computers in verifying and testing software? Such questions will have an increasing influence on research and on our lives.


How does complexity arise?

In research, questions as to ‘how’ and ‘why’ are gaining in complexity. The gap between the theoretical description of nature and current experimental questions continues to widen. Through modelling and simulation, computers aid in closing this gap. Models serve as the basis, reflecting aspects of reality. They are the foundation for simulations with which scientists imitate specific changes in individual parameters. Visual images play an important role in both cases, making the results far more comprehensible. Today, scientists can, for example, describe the behaviour of atoms and molecules on the computer and calculate not only basic chemical reactions, but – by adjusting the scale – also the macroscopic properties of solids by integrating quantum mechanics in computer models. Knowledge of biological processes has also grown enormously over the past few years. The life sciences have at their disposal an ever-increasing number of parameters to include in their models, leading to evermore detailed results. In the future, the behaviour of entire cellular signal chains and complex bioprocesses will be examined. This will require processing and analyzing greater data volumes. Researchers strive to understand networks and emergent phenomena, which result from the interaction of many individual phenomena. Data mining and computational biology will thus continue to gain in importance. Today’s genetic analysts and system biologists work together with statisticians and computer scientists, and with astrophysicists to analyze astronomical data, and physicists to conduct acceleration experiments.


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Cause, effect and mitigation

Climate change is any long-term change in the statistics of weather over periods of time that range from decades to millions of years. It may occur in a specific region, or across the whole Earth. Anthropogenic factors (human activities) have become the cause for the rapid increase in global average temperatures over the past several decades.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that increasing greenhouse gas concentrations resulting from human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation caused most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century. Climate model projections indicate that the global surface temperature will probably rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C during the 21st century. This will cause sea levels to rise, change in amount and pattern of precipitation; probably expansion of subtropical deserts; retreat of glaciers, permafrost and sea ice. Increases in the intensity of extreme weather events, species extinctions, and changes in agricultural yields are also likely.

Mitigation of global warming is accomplished through reductions in the rate of anthropogenic greenhouse gas release. This would be through individual action against global warming, as well as community and regional actions. The world’s primary international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions – the Kyoto Protocol would also serve to mitigate the effects of Climate Change.


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What constitutes sustainable development?

More than 6 billion people inhabit the earth today. Feeding them, keeping them healthy and providing them with energy are true global challenges. Fundamental research is performing ground-work for solving these challenges. In health, one aspect of the work here involves chronic diseases, which kill many millions of people each year. But work is also concentrating on the no less dangerous infectious diseases, such as AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Research is focusing on finding the molecular causes of diseases and developing targeted therapies and tailored medicines. Yet in the long run, particularly in societies with aging populations and falling birth rates, preventive measures play a leading role in avoiding illness. The foreseeable dwindling of fossil fuels and the consequences of unrestrained carbon emissions on the climate are encouraging new ideas for generating energy. This includes research into nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium, development of new technologies for generating, transporting and storing hydrogen, through to artificial photosynthesis, as well as the development of innovative materials for robust and powerful fuel and solar cells. Given the limited resources, humanity must take a new path of sustainable development. If research can understand the expression of characteristics in plants, this could provide new raw materials for the production of synthetic materials, dyes and fibres that are no longer based on limited petrochemicals. Or grains, whose cultivation require fewer pesticides and less irrigation.


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How can we preserve the earth’s protective systems?

Life on earth is only possible because of the complex coexistence among land ecosystems, oceans, atmosphere and the substances that circulate among them. Small changes can have far reaching effects. This is why scientists are looking for a unified understanding of the earth. To this purpose, they take measurements on the ground and air, and develop computer models. Micro-organisms are ubiquitous and, like plants, animals and people, sustain the biosphere. They control the circulation of life’s most important raw materials – carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous, sulphur, iron, manganese and water. Research into micro-organisms is necessary for reliable earth models. Moreover, they often contain interesting enzymes and metabolic products. The earth itself is also very active, as revealed by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This is why researchers are looking at the earth’s interior, where a gigantic dynamo generates an invisible shield that protects us on earth from deadly radiation from space. Scientists also want to explore earth’s surroundings in space, as solar weather can have serious consequences for our daily life. Only when we understand the complex interaction of all of these components can we achieve sustainable use of the earth’s resources. There are many open questions. Which regions and components are particularly sensitive to changes? What are the thresholds that, if exceeded, can result in abrupt changes on earth? And just how much influence does mankind have? Are there possibilities for long-term control of the earth’s behaviour?



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How do stars and planets originate?

Beyond the Earth’s magnetosphere lies interplanetary space. This is filled with solar wind: electromagnetic wave fields and particle showers, radiating from the Sun. This is the central star of the planetary system and thus at the centre of attention of solar system researchers. These scientists want to know how the sun works: what does its magnetic activities look like? How are the highly-charged particles heated and dispersed in powerful pulses? Which energy transformations result in the heating of the sun’s corona and emission of the solar wind? The researchers are also keeping an eye on the sun’s influence on the Earth: they are investigating the ways in which the sun affects communication and navigation systems here on earth, as well as its long-term impact on climate changes. Exploration of the sun, however, also entails studying the planets, their atmospheres and moons, as well as uncovering how they were formed and how they have developed. This early history of the solar system and the planets can also be gleaned from comets and meteorites. A prerequisite to clearing up such questions is not only powerful earth-based telescopes, but also space missions.


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How and when did the universe come into existence?

Where do we come from? This question has fascinated mankind throughout history. But today we want to know more. How did the universe come to be? Why does it have its present shape and structure? We want to understand cosmic processes. To find answers to these questions, astronomers and astro-physicists study the birth and death of stars, and the creation of galaxies and black holes. They also try to determine how “dark matter” and “dark energy” is dispersed throughout the universe. We know a great deal about the four percent of visible matter – however, about the 96 percent of invisible stuff in between, we know next to nothing. To improve their chances of shedding some light on these matters, astronomers are now, more than ever before, teaming up with nuclear physicists, particle physicists, cosmologists and mathematicians to model and simulate structures and processes, bringing together quantum mechanics and the Theory of Relativity. Their hope is to answer the burning question of how the universe originated and evolved. How did it come to have the order and structure we know today, given its apparent initial chaos? In their quest for answers, scientists rely on increasingly powerful and complex instruments. This includes telescopes set up on earth and in space designed to cover the entire radiation spectrum. Astronomy, today, has already entered a ‘golden era’, with instruments more accurate than ever before, enabling scientists to look far off into the universe. We are the first human beings to study extrasolar planets and solar systems.

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Coach 013


This coach has an exhibition on India’s Achievements in Science & Technology. The exhibition showcases the glorious legacy of India, India Today and Tomorrow in Science and Technology, India’s achievements in IT, Biotechnology, Space and Nanotechnology. Interesting video clips and models supplementing the theme are also included.

A part of this coach houses the VASCSC’s Joy of Science Hands-on Lab. This is an activity zone where children can perform hands-on activities and experiments in science and mathematics. This gives them a chance to explore and learn different concepts with an element of fun.

Sr.No Station Exhibition Dates
1A Gandhinagar 02 – 06 Oct 2009
1B Gandhinagar 14 – 15 Oct 2009
2A Ahmedabad 16 Oct 2009
2B Ahmedabad 18 – 21 Oct 2009
3 Hapa (Jamnagar) 22 – 25 Oct 2009
4 Gandhidham 26 – 29 Oct 2009
5 Anand 30 Oct – 02 Nov 09
6 Valsad 03 – 05 Nov 2009
7 Navsari 06 – 08 Nov 2009
8 Aurangabad 09 – 12 Nov 2009
9 Maltekdi (Nanded) 13 – 16 Nov 2009
10 Khadki (Pune) 18 – 21 Nov 2009
11 Miraj 22 – 25 Nov 2009
12 Belgaum 26 – 29 Nov 2009
13 Madgaon 30 Nov – 03 Dec 2009
14 Hubli 04 – 05 Dec 2009
15 Bellary 06 – 09 Dec 2009
16 Bangalore Cantt. 10  – 14 Dec 2009
17 Mysore 15 – 18 Dec 2009
18 Udupi 20 – 22 Dec 2009
19 Calicut 23 – 26 Dec 2009
20 Thrissur 27 – 30 Dec 2009
21 Kollam 31 Dec 2009-03 Jan 2010
22 Trivendrum 04 – 05 Jan 2010
23 Tirunelveli 06 – 08 Jan 2010
24 Dindigul 09 – 12 Jan 2010
25 Salem Town 13 – 15 Jan 2010
26 Cuddapah 16 – 18 Jan 2010
27 Nellore 19 – 21 Jan 2010
28 Guntur 22 – 24 Jan 2010
29 Kakinada 25 – 28 Jan 2010
30 Vizianagaram 29 – 31 Jan 2010
31 Bolangir 01 – 03 Feb 2010
32 Angul 04 – 06 Feb 2010
33 Balasore 07 – 09 Feb 2010
34 Sini 10 – 12 Feb 2010
35 Bokaro Steel City 13 – 15 Feb 2010
36 Durgapur 16 – 17 Feb 2010
37 Dimapur 19 – 20 Feb 2010
38 Mariani Jn. 21 – 24 Feb 2010
39 Kamakhya 25 – 27 Feb 2010
40 New Jalpaiguri 28 Feb – 01 Mar 2010
41 Darbhanga 02 – 04 Mar 2010
42 Chhapra 05 – 07 Mar 2010
43 Mughalsarai 08 – 10 Mar 2010
44 Amethi 11 – 14 Mar 2010
45 Najibabad 15 – 17 Mar 2010
46 Kalka 18 – 20 Mar 2010
47 Jammu Tawi 21 – 24 Mar 2010
48 R.C.F. 25 – 28 Mar 2010
49 Patiala 29 – 31 Mar 2010
50 Kurukshetra 01 – 04 Apr 2010
51 Delhi Cantt. 05 – 09 Apr 2010
52 Agra Cantt. 10 – 13 Apr 2010
53 Jhansi 14 – 17 Apr 2010
54 Kota 18 – 21 Apr 2010
55 Ujjain 22 – 25 Apr 2010
56 Gandhinagar
26-27 April 2010

Note:- Exhibition closed for public from 7 to 13 Oct and 17 Oct 2009


Visit the website for more details

Information courtesy: Science express website and The Hindu

Filed under: Snippets, ,

Quiz Time


1. What was the nationality of Alfred Nobel?

2. Why is the date November 27, 1895 important in the history of the prizes?

3. As all know, Mahatma Gandhi never became a Laureate. But in which years was the great Indian nominated?

4. Why are the recipients officially called a Nobel Laureate and not a Nobel Prize Winner?

5. What is so special about the Laureates Dag Hammarskjöld and Erik Axel Karlfeldt?

6. How many organisations have received the Nobel Peace Prize and which among those has won it an unprecedented three times?

7. Name the only siblings to have got the prestigious prize, one in Economic sciences and the other in Medicine.

8. Elinor Ostrom, a 2009 Laureate, is the first woman to get this award. Name it.

9. In which Tamil Nadu town was Venkatraman Ramakrishnan born?

10. What is the contribution of Erik Lindberg, Gustav Vigeland and Gunvor Svensson-Lundqvist to the history of the Nobel Prizes?

11. What is the prize amount for 2009 per full Nobel Prize?

12. At which specific locations are the prizes given away?

13. If Barack Obama is the latest U.S. President to become a Nobel Laureate, who was the first?

14. How many Laureates can each category have in a year?

15. What ‘dubious’ first did Richard Kuhn, the 1938 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, achieve?


1.He was Swedish
2.On that date, Nobel signed his last will and testament giving the largest share of his fortune for the prizes that bear his name (barring Economic sciences)
3.Five (1937, 1938, 1939, 1947 and 1948)
4 .According to the Nobel Foundation, “the awarding of the Nobel Prizes is not a competition or lottery, and therefore there are no winners or losers”
5.They have been the only two posthumous recipients
6.20 individual organisations with the Comité International de la Croix Rouge (Red Cross) winning in 1917, 1944 and 1963
7.The Tinbergens, Jan and Nikolaas
8.Win the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences
10.They designed the various medals
11.Swedish kronor (SEK) 10 million
12.All prizes except the Peace Prize are given away at the Stockholm Concert Hall, while Peace Prize is presented on the same day at the Oslo City Hall
13.Theodore Roosevelt in 1906
14.Maximum of three
15.He was the first to decline the Prize.

Courtesy: V V Ramanan, The Hindu

Filed under: Young World Quiz,


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