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Science News This Week:
|Scientists Create 'Building Block' of Quantum Networks|
1) Scientists Create 'Building Block' of Quantum Networks:
A proof-of-concept device that could pave the way for on-chip optical quantum networks has been created by a group of researchers from the US.
Presenting the device February 8, in the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society's New Journal of Physics, it has been described as the "building block of future quantum networks."In an optical quantum network, information is carried between points by photons -- the basic unit of light. There is a huge potential for this type of network in the field of quantum computing and could enable computers that are millions of times faster at solving certain problems than what we are used to today.This new device, which combines a single nitrogen-vacancy centre in diamond with an optical resonator and an optical waveguide, could potentially become the memory or the processing element of such a network.
A nitrogen-vacancy centre is a defect in the lattice structure of diamond where one of the carbon atoms is replaced by a nitrogen atom and the nearest neighbour carbon atom is missing. The nitrogen-vacancy centre has the property of photoluminescence, whereby a substance absorbs photons from a source and then subsequently emits photons.The emitted photons are special in that they are correlated, or entangled, with the nitrogen-vacancy centre that they came from, which as the researchers state is crucial for future experiments that will look to examine this correlation. You cannot get these correlated photons from a normal light source.In this device, the photons are produced from a nitrogen-vacancy centre within a diamond microring resonator. The nitrogen-vacancy centre is located inside the diamond resonator as it is more likely to emit photons than when it is located in the waveguide or just in plain diamond. Moreover, the photons emitted in the resonator are easier to couple into an on-chip waveguide.The cotton bud-shaped waveguide sends the photons out into a desired direction through gratings at either end.
"One of the holy grails in quantum photonics is to develop networks where optical quantum emitters are interconnected via photons," said lead author of the study Andrei Faraon."In this work we take the first step and demonstrate that photons -- the information carriers -- from a single nitrogen-vacancy centre can be coupled to an optical resonator and then further coupled to a photonic waveguide. We hope that multiple devices of this kind will be interconnected in a photonic network on a chip."The study, undertaken by researchers from the California Institute of Technology, Hewlett Packard Laboratories and University of Washington, tested the device by cooling it to temperatures below 10K and shining a green laser onto the nitrogen vacancy to evoke photoluminescence.The entire device was etched in a diamond membrane that was around 300 nanometres thick."The whole idea of these devices is that they are able to be produced en masse. So far the procedure for mass fabrication is still at the proof-of-concept level, so there is still plenty of work to be done to make it reliable," continued Professor Faraon.
|Holographic Microscopy: Peering Into Living Cells -- With Neither Dye nor Fluophore|
2) Holographic Microscopy: Peering Into Living Cells -- With Neither Dye nor Fluophore:
In the world of microscopy, this advance is almost comparable to the leap from photography to live television. Two young EPFL researchers, Yann Cotte and Fatih Toy, have designed a device that combines holographic microscopy and computational image processing to observe living biological tissues at the nanoscale. Their research is being done under the supervision of Christian Depeursinge, head of the Microvision and Microdiagnostics Group in EPFL's School of Engineering.
Using their setup, three-dimensional images of living cells can be obtained in just a few minutes -- instantaneous operation is still in the works -- at an incredibly precise resolution of less than 100 nanometers, 1000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. And because they're able to do this without using contrast dyes or fluorescents, the experimental results don't run the risk of being distorted by the presence of foreign substances.
Being able to capture a living cell from every angle like this lays the groundwork for a whole new field of investigation. "We can observe in real time the reaction of a cell that is subjected to any kind of stimulus," explains Cotte. "This opens up all kinds of new opportunities, such as studying the effects of pharmaceutical substances at the scale of the individual cell, for example."
Watching a neuron grow
This month in Nature Photonics the researchers demonstrate the potential of their method by developing, image by image, the film of a growing neuron and the birth of a synapse, caught over the course of an hour at a rate of one image per minute. This work, which was carried out in collaboration with the Neuroenergetics and cellular dynamics laboratory in EPFL's Brain Mind Institute, directed by Pierre Magistretti, earned them an editorial in the journal. "Because we used a low-intensity laser, the influence of the light or heat on the cell is minimal," continues Cotte. "Our technique thus allows us to observe a cell while still keeping it alive for a long period of time."As the laser scans the sample, numerous images extracted by holography are captured by a digital camera, assembled by a computer and "deconvoluted" in order to eliminate noise. To develop their algorithm, the young scientists designed and built a "calibration" system in the school's clean rooms (CMI) using a thin layer of aluminum that they pierced with 70nm-diameter "nanoholes" spaced 70nm apart.
Finally, the assembled three-dimensional image of the cell, that looks as focused as a drawing in an encyclopedia, can be virtually "sliced" to expose its internal elements, such as the nucleus, genetic material and organelles.Toy and Cotte, who have already obtained an EPFL Innogrant, hope to develop a system that could deliver these kinds of observations in vivo, without the need for removing tissue, using portable devices. In parallel, they will continue to design laboratory material based on these principles.
|The Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles of the Philippine Island Luzon|
3) The Amazing Amphibians and Reptiles of the Philippine Island Luzon:
A recent study of the amphibians and reptiles of Sierra Madre Mountain Range, northeastern Luzon, reveals a preliminary enumeration of more than 100 species that contribute to the unique biodiversity of the region. At present, the Luzon region's herpetological range stands at more than 150 species. Out of these, a total of 49 amphibian species have been documented, 44 of which are native and a remarkable 32 endemic. In the world of reptiles, Luzon can boast with 106 native species, 76 of which are unique to this region.
The catalogue published in the open access journal Zookeys features a fascinating range of reptiles and amphibians, such as the beautifully coloured colubrid snake Hologerrhum philippinum, which is one of the four endemic snake genera from the region and can be recognized by the vibrant-yellow skin decoration. Another species that provokes amazement is the bizarre soft-shell turtle Pelochelys cantorii. The variety described in this study includes fascinating frogs, crocodiles, snakes, lizards and many more, offering a menagerie of shapes and colours all documented in stunning photography.
With such a great array of biodiversity, the northern Philippines has been the focus of of large numbers of new species discoveries and re-discoveries of new species in recent decades, establishing it as a major regional biodiversity hotspot. The herpetological diversity of the island may grow to as many as 90-100 (70-80% endemic) amphibian species and as many as 150-160 reptiles with the contributions of ongoing biodiversity studies in the near future. It will be a major challenge to monitor these communities through time in order to assess their responses to land use changes, climate change, resource extraction, introduced species, emerging infectious disease, and habitat degradation.
With the initial baseline information provided in the survey, tremendous opportunities exist for future studies in taxonomy, biogeography, ecology and conservation of northern Luzon's amphibians and reptiles. Conservation of Luzon's vertebrate biodiversity remains an on-going effort, challenged by rapid development,logging, mining and conversion of natural habitats into agricultural lands to provide food for a burgeoning human population.
|New Evidence Suggests Comet or Asteroid Impact Was Last Straw for Dinosaurs|
4) New Evidence Suggests Comet or Asteroid Impact Was Last Straw for Dinosaurs:
The demise of the dinosaurs is the world's ultimate whodunit. Was it a comet or asteroid impact? Volcanic eruptions? Climate change?
In an attempt to resolve the issue, scientists at the Berkeley Geochronology Center (BGC), the University of California, Berkeley, and universities in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have now determined the most precise dates yet for the dinosaur extinction 66 million years ago and for the well-known impact that occurred around the same time.The dates are so close, the researchers say, that they now believe the comet or asteroid, if not wholly responsible for the global extinction, at least dealt the dinosaurs their death blow.
"The impact was clearly the final straw that pushed Earth past the tipping point," said Paul Renne, BGC director and UC Berkeley professor in residence of earth and planetary science. "We have shown that these events are synchronous to within a gnat's eyebrow, and therefore the impact clearly played a major role in extinctions, but it probably wasn't just the impact."
The revised dates clear up lingering confusion over whether the impact actually occurred before or after the extinction, which was characterized by the almost overnight disappearance from the fossil record of land-based dinosaurs and many ocean creatures. The new date for the impact -- 66,038,000 years ago -- is the same within error limits as the date of the extinction, said Renne, making the events simultaneous.He and his colleagues will report their findings in the Feb. 8 issue of the journal Science.
The crater of doom
The extinction of the dinosaurs was first linked to a comet or asteroid impact in 1980 by the late UC Berkeley Nobel Laureate Luis Alvarez and his son, Walter, who is a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of earth and planetary science. A 110-mile-wide crater in the Caribbean off the Yucatan coast of Mexico is thought to be the result of that impact. Called Chicxulub (cheek'-she-loob), the crater is thought to have been excavated by an object six miles across that threw into the atmosphere debris still be found around the globe as glassy spheres or tektites, shocked quartz and a layer of iridium-enriched dust.Renne's quest for a more accurate dating of the extinction began three years ago when he noticed that the existing date conflicted with other estimates of the timing of the extinction and that the existing dates for the impact and the extinction did not line up within error margins.
Renne and his BGC colleagues first went to work recalibrating and improving the existing dating method, known as the argon-argon technique. They then collected volcanic ash from the Hell Creek area in Montana and analyzed them with the recalibrated argon-argon technique to determine the date of the extinction. The formation below the extinction horizon is the source of many dinosaur fossils and one of the best sites to study the change in fossils from before and after the extinction.They also gathered previously dated tektites from Haiti and analyzed them using the same technique to determine how long ago the impact had occurred. The new extinction and impact dates are precise to within 11,000 years, the researchers said.
"When I got started in the field, the error bars on these events were plus or minus a million years," said paleontologist William Clemens, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus of integrative biology who has led research in the Hell Creek area for more than 30 years, but was not directly involved in the study. "It's an exciting time right now, a lot of which we can attribute to the work that Paul and his colleagues are doing in refining the precision of the time scale with which we work. This allows us to integrate what we see from the fossil record with data on climate change and changes in flora and fauna that we see around us today."
Dinosaurs at the tipping point
Despite the synchronous impact and extinction, Renne cautions that this doesn't mean that the impact was the sole cause. Dramatic climate variation over the previous million years, including long cold snaps amidst a general Cretaceous hothouse environment, probably brought many creatures to the brink of extinction, and the impact kicked them over the edge."These precursory phenomena made the global ecosystem much more sensitive to even relatively small triggers, so that what otherwise might have been a fairly minor effect shifted the ecosystem into a new state," he said. "The impact was the coup de grace."
One cause of the climate variability could have been a sustained series of volcanic eruptions in India that produced the extensive Deccan Traps. Renne plans to re-date those volcanic rocks to get a more precise measure of their duration and onset relative to the dinosaur extinction."This study shows the power of high precision geochronology," said coauthor Darren F. Mark of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center, who conducted independent argon-argon analyses on samples provided by Renne. "Many people think precision is just about adding another decimal place to a number. But it's far more exciting than that. It's more like getting a sharper lens on a camera. It allows us to dissect the geological record at greater resolution and piece together the sequence of Earth history."
Renne's colleagues, in addition to Mark, are UC Berkeley graduate student William S. Mitchell III; BGC scientists Alan L. Deino and Roland Mundil; Leah E. Morgan of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Center in Kilbride, Scotland; Frederik J Hilgen of Utrecht University; and Klaudia F. Kuiper and Jan Smit of Vrije University in Amsterdam.
|Animal Magnetism: First Evidence That Magnetism Helps Salmon Find Home|
5) Animal Magnetism: First Evidence That Magnetism Helps Salmon Find Home:
When migrating, sockeye salmon typically swim up to 4,000 miles into the ocean and then, years later, navigate back to the upstream reaches of the rivers in which they were born to spawn their young. Scientists, the fishing community and lay people have long wondered how salmon find their way to their home rivers over such epic distances.
How do they do that?
A new study, published in this week's issue of Current Biology and partly funded by the National Science Foundation, suggests that salmon find their home rivers by sensing the rivers' unique magnetic signature.As part of the study, the research team used data from more than 56 years of catches in salmon fisheries to identify the routes that salmon had taken from their most northerly destinations, which were probably near Alaska or the Aleutian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, to the mouth of their home river--the Fraser River in British Columbia, Canada. This data was compared to the intensity of Earth's magnetic field at pivotal locations in the salmon's migratory route.Earth has a magnetic field that weakens with proximity to the equator and distance from the poles and gradually changes on a yearly basis. Therefore, the intensity of the magnetosphere in any particular location is unique and differs slightly from year to year.
Because Vancouver Island is located directly in front of the Fraser River's mouth, it blocks direct access to the river's mouth from the Pacific Ocean. However, salmon may slip behind Vancouver Island and reach the river's mouth from the north via the Queen Charlotte Strait or from the south via the Juan De Fuca Strait.Results from this study showed that the intensity of the magnetic field largely predicted which route the salmon used to detour around Vancouver Island; in any given year, the salmon were more likely to take whichever route had a magnetic signature that most closely matched that of the Fraser River years before, when the salmon initially swam from the river into the Pacific Ocean."These results are consistent with the idea that juvenile salmon imprint on (i.e. learn and remember) the magnetic signature of their home river, and then seek that same magnetic signature during their spawning migration," said Nathan Putman, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and the lead author of the study.
It has long been known that some animals use Earth's magnetic field to generally orient themselves and to follow a straight course. However, scientists have never before documented an animal's ability to "learn" the magnetic field rather than to simply inherit information about it or to use the magnetic field to find a specific location.This study provides the first empirical evidence of magnetic imprinting in animals and represents the discovery of a major new phenomenon in behavioral biology.In addition, this study suggests that it would be possible to forecast salmon movements using geomagnetic models--a development that has important implications for fisheries management.
Get out the map
Putman says scientists don't know exactly how early and how often salmon check Earth's magnetic field in order to identify their geographic locations during their trip back home. "But," he says, "for the salmon to be able to go from some location out in the middle of the Pacific 4,000 miles away, they need to make a correct migratory choice early--and they need to know which direction to start going in. For that, they would presumably use the magnetic field."Putman continues, "As the salmon travel that route, ocean currents and other forces might blow them off course. So they would probably need to check their magnetic position several times during this migration to stay on track. Once they get close to the coastline, they would need to hone in on their target, and so would presumably check in more continuously during this stage of their migration."Putman says that once the salmon reach their home river, they probably use their sense of smell to find the particular tributary in which they were born. However, over long distances, magnetism would be a more useful cue to salmon than odors because magnetism--unlike odors--can be detected across thousands of miles of open ocean.
A long, strange trip
Like other Pacific Salmon, sockeye salmon spawn in the gravel beds of rivers and streams. After the newly hatched salmon emerge from these beds, they spend one to three years in fresh water, and then they migrate downstream to the ocean.Next, the salmon travel thousands of miles from their home river to forage in the North Pacific for about two more years, and then, as well-fed adults, they migrate back to the same gravel beds in which they were born.When migrating, salmon must transition from fresh water to sea water, and then back again. During each transition, the salmon undergo a metamorphosis that Putman says is almost as dramatic as the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. Each such salmon metamorphosis involves a replacement of gill tissues that enables the fish to maintain the correct salt balance in its environment: the salmon retains salt when in fresh water and pumps out excess salt when in salt water.Salmon usually undertake their taxing, round-trip migration, which may total up to 8,000 miles, only once in their lives; they typically die soon after spawning.
|Immune Systems of Healthy Adults 'Remember' Germs to Which They've Never Been Exposed|
6) Immune Systems of Healthy Adults 'Remember' Germs to Which They've Never Been Exposed:
It's established dogma that the immune system develops a "memory" of a microbial pathogen, with a correspondingly enhanced readiness to combat that microbe, only upon exposure to it -- or to its components though a vaccine. But a discovery by Stanford University School of Medicine researchers casts doubt on that dogma.
In a path-breaking study published online Feb. 7 in Immunity, the investigators found that over the course of our lives, CD4 cells -- key players circulating in blood and lymph whose ability to kick-start the immune response to viral, bacterial, protozoan and fungal pathogens can spell the difference between life and death -- somehow acquire memory of microbes that have never entered our bodies.
Several implications flow from this discovery, said the study's senior author, Mark Davis, PhD, professor of microbiology and immunology and director of Stanford's Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. In the study, newborns' blood showed no signs of this enhanced memory, which could explain why young children are so much more vulnerable to infectious diseases than adults. Moreover, the findings suggest a possible reason why vaccination against a single pathogen, measles, appears to have reduced overall mortality among African children more than can be attributed to the drop in measles deaths alone. And researchers may have to rethink the relevance of experiments conducted in squeaky-clean facilities on mice that have never been exposed to a single germ in their lives."It may even provide an evolutionary clue about why kids eat dirt," said Davis. "The pre-existing immune memory of dangerous pathogens our immune systems have never seen before might stem from our constant exposure to ubiquitous, mostly harmless micro-organisms in soil and food and on our skin, our doorknobs, our telephones and our iPod earbuds."
CD4 cells are members of the immune club known as T cells. CD4 cells hang out in our circulatory system, on the lookout for micro-organisms that have found their way into the blood or lymph tissue.In order to be able to recognize and then coordinate a response to a particular pathogen without inciting a Midas-touch overreaction to anything a CD4 cell bumps into (including our own tissues), our bodies have to host immensely diverse inventories of CD4 cells, each with its own narrow capacity to recognize one single pathogenic "body part" or, to be more scientific, epitope -- and, it's been believed, only that epitope. Contact with that epitope can cause a CD4 to whirr into action, replicating rapidly and performing the immunological equivalent of posting bulletins, passing out bullets and bellowing attack orders through a bullhorn to other immune cells. This hyperactivity is vital to the immune response. (It is CD4 cells that are targeted and ultimately destroyed by HIV, the virus responsible for AIDS.)
In the early 1980s, Davis, now the Burt and Marion Avery Family Professor of Immunology at Stanford, unraveled the mystery of how organisms such as ourselves, equipped with only 20,000 or so genes, can possibly generate the billions of differing epitope-targeting capabilities represented in aggregate by T cells. He found that highly reshufflable "hot spots" in a rapidly dividing T cell's DNA trigger massive mix-and-match madness among these genetic components during cell division, so each resulting T cell sports its own unique variant of a crucial surface receptor and, therefore, is geared to recognizing a different epitope.That variation accounts for our ability to mount an immune response to all kinds of microbial invaders, whether familiar or previously unseen. But it doesn't account for the phenomenon of immune memory. CD4 cells, like other T cells, can be divided into two groups: so-called "naïve" CD4s randomly targeting epitopes belonging to pathogens they haven't encountered yet; and CD4s that, having had an earlier run-in with one or another bug, have never forgotten it. These latter CD4 cells are exceptionally long-lived and ultra-responsive to any new encounter with the same pathogen.
"When a naïve CD4 cell comes across its target pathogen, it takes days or even weeks before the immune system is full mobilized against that pathogen. But an activated-memory CD4 cell can cause the immune system to mount a full-blown response within hours," said William Petri, MD, PhD, chief of infectious diseases and international health at the University of Virginia.That's why Petri, who was not involved in the study, thinks the newfound abundance in healthy adults, and total absence in newborns, of memory CD4 cells targeting microbes those individuals have never encountered before is so important. For the past 20 years, he has led a team conducting medical interventions in an urban slum in Dacca, the capital of Bangladesh. There, the average infant experiences a half-dozen diarrhea-inducing infections and as many upper-respiratory-tract infections within the first year of life, many of them within the first few months. The consequence, Petri said, is rampant malnutrition, with corresponding cognitive deficits and high mortality -- this, despite the fact that Petri's group provides free health-care and education services and visits homes twice a week.
"If I had lived in such a slum as a kid, I probably would have died of infection," Petri said.A sophisticated technique invented by Davis in 1996 and since refined in his and others' laboratories permitted the Stanford team to identify a single CD4 cell targeting a particular epitope out of millions. Using this method, his team exposed immune-cell-rich blood drawn from 26 healthy adults, as well as from two newborns' umbilical cords, to various epitopes from different viral strains. They were able to fish out, from among hundreds of millions of CD4 cells per sample, those responsive to each viral epitope.
Nearly all of the 26 adult blood samples contained cells responsive to HIV; to HSV, the virus that causes herpes; and to cytomegalovirus, a common infectious agent that often produces no symptoms but can be dangerous to immune-compromised people. This wasn't surprising, given humans' exhaustive inventories of divergent CD4-cell affinities.What was surprising was that, on average, about half of the virus-responsive CD4 cells in each adult sample bore unmistakable signs of being in the "memory" state: a characteristic cell-surface marker, gene activation patterns typical of memory T cells, and rapid secretion of signature biochemical signals, called cytokines, that communicate with other immune cells -- even though highly sensitive clinical tests showed that these individuals had never been exposed to any of these viruses in real life.The newborns' blood contained similar frequencies of CD4 cells responsive to the same three viruses. However, all these cells were in the "naïve" rather than memory state. "This could explain, at least in part, why infants are so incredibly susceptible to disease," said the study's first author, Laura Su, MD, PhD, an instructor in immunology and rheumatology.
Another surprise: About one-fifth of the adult samples boasted "cross-reactive" memory CD4 cells responsive to other harmless environmental microbes. For example, CD4 cells selected specifically for their reactivity to HIV turned out to be able to recognize a large number of common environmental microbes, including three gut-colonizing bacteria, a soil-dwelling bacterial species and a species of ocean algae. Considering that the investigators tested only a negligible fraction of all the microbes a person might encounter, it's a sure bet that this measure of CD4-cell cross-reactivity was an underestimate.
Next, the researchers recruited two adults who hadn't been vaccinated for flu in five years or longer, and then vaccinated them. In these volunteers, memory CD4s proliferated and otherwise became activated in response to exposure to certain components of the influenza virus, but also to epitopes of several different bacterial and protozoan microbes.This cross-reactivity could explain why exposure to common bugs in the dirt and in our homes renders us less susceptible to dangerous infectious agents.Which raises another point. "We grow and use experimental lab mice in totally artificial, ultra-clean environments," Davis said. "That's nothing like the environment that we live in. The CD4 cells from adult mice in the lab environment are almost entirely in the naïve state. They may be more representative of newborns than of adults."Petri described the new study as paradigm-shifting. "It was one of those rare, seminal findings that changes the way I think about the immune response," he said.Davis' study offers hope that some of the immunity conferred by a vaccine extends beyond the specific microbe it targets, Petri said. "This adds support to the impetus to vaccinate infants in the developing world," he said. As many as 30 different pathogens can cause diarrhea, so vaccinating small children against all of them -- even if those vaccines existed -- would require so many separate injections as to be logistically hopeless. Understanding the mechanism by which cross-reactivity occurs might further allow immunologists to develop "wide-spectrum vaccines" that cover a number of infectious organisms.
|Movie Release Animation|
|3D Picture of Movie Release News|
Movies Release This Week:
1) The Playroom:
Four children in their attic hideaway make up a fantastic story, while downstairs their parents weave a drunken intrigue of their own.
|The Sorcerer and the White Snake|
2) The Sorcerer and the White Snake:
Action director Ching Siu-Tung helms this fantasy film based on an old Chinese legend about an herbalist who falls in love with a thousand-year-old White Snake disguised as a woman. Jet Li stars as a sorcerer who discovers her true identity and battles to save the man's soul.
Harkening back to the beloved creature features from the 50's and the 60's, Spiders centers on mutant spiders created by pieces of material from a disabled Soviet space station that crash lands on Earth. With New York City threatened to be overrun by the gigantic killer spiders who have invaded the metropolitan subway system, it's a race against time to stop the Queen Spider from uniting with her eggs before a deadly chain of events are triggered from the deadly reunion.
4) Special 26:
Special Chabbis is an upcoming Bollywood heist drama film directed by Neeraj Pandey of A Wednesday fame. The film stars Akshay Kumar and Kajal Aggarwal in the lead roles with Jimmy Shergill, Manoj Bajpai and Anupam Kher in supporting roles. The film is based on a real life group of con artists who pulled off many clever robberies during 1980's, they robbed famous businessmen & politicians by pretending to be the CBI or Income tax officers, on the pretext of conducting raids they would take away all the black money hoarded by them, the film also takes its concept from the real-life daring where the same group posing as CBI officers executed a daylight income tax raid on the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri in Mumbai, and disappeared with jewellery worth lakhs. The movie is set in the early 1980's. The film is scheduled to release on February 8, 2013.
5) Side Effects:
A provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily's psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.
is a 2013 Tamil-Hindi spy thriller film written, directed and co-produced by Kamal Haasan who also enacts the lead role. The film has Pooja Kumar, Rahul Bose, Andrea Jeremiah and Jaideep Ahlawat in supporting roles, the film features soundtrack composed by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, with lyrics by Vairamuthu and Kamal Haasan while Javed Akhtar translated them for the Hindi version titled Vishwaroop.
The ban resulted in similar decisions being made in Sri Lanka and Malaysia while release was delayed in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka. Despite the fragmented release, Vishwaroopam garnered generally favourable reviews from critics, most of whom had downplayed claims of the film being anti-Muslim. Heeding to the requests of Muslim groups, dialogues perceived as controversial were muted. Vishwaroopam finally released on 7 February 2013 in Tamil Nadu.
An Afghani Al-Qaeda Jihadi Omar (Rahul Bose), his accomplice Salim (Jaideep Ahlawat) and their international terror network, plots to attack New York with a "Cesium-bomb". Vishwanath alias Wiz (Kamal Haasan) is a Kathak teacher who lives with his wife Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), a nuclear oncologist, in New York. Nirupama confides with a psychologist that it’s a marriage of convenience that provided her a safe haven for pursuing her Ph.D in the U.S. The age gap between them notwithstanding, she is put off by Vishwanath’s effeminate traits and is attracted to her boss, Deepak (Samrat Chakrabarti). Doubting whether her husband has secrets of his own, she hires a private investigator to trail him. She learns from the private investigator that Vishwanath is not a Hindu but a Muslim. In a sudden turn of events, the investigator gets killed by a member of the terrorist outfit led by Omar. A business card on his wallet gives away Nirupama and the terror group nabs the couple. The outfit operates from a warehouse on the outskirts of the city where the couple is being interrogated.
Vishwanath is involved in a fight with the terrorists, kills them at the warehouse and escapes with Nirupama. Omar and Vishwanath have a past, one that takes the story back by almost a decade, to the Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. What follows is a maze of events that go back and forth in time, unraveling a plot where in the terrorists are accumulating cesium from oncology devices to trigger a blast in New York.
Nirupama is stunned to discover the true identity of her husband Vishwanath, his uncle (Shekhar Kapur), American accomplice Dawkins (Miles Anderson) and the young dancer Ashmita (Andrea Jeremiah) at her husband’s dance school. Vishwanath is revealed to be Wisam Ahmad Kashmiri, a Muslim RAW agent who married Nirupama to investigate Deepak and his boss Omar in connection with a bomb blast in the heart of New York. His mission is to bust the ‘sleeper-cell’ of the Jihadis in the USA, which is planning to divert the attention through "capsules" capable of emitting mild nuclear radiation tied to pigeons in New York city while enabling Black alias Abbasi, a Nigerian suicide bomber to detonate the cesium bomb in the city.
Together, the team try to counter the plans of Omar and his group that could destroy the most of the New York city. In the ensuing events, Vishwanath is arrested by the FBI before being rescued by his uncle and Dawkins is murdered by Salim. Angered by this murder, Shekhar, Wisam's boss, goes after Omar and Salim. Wisam along with the FBI, take down Abbasi and defuse the Ceasium bomb. Omar and Salim try to escape in a plane. Omar tries to activate bomb through his phone, but failed. He then called Abbasi, but call is attended by Wisam, who tells him that Abbasi is not alive, Omar is shocked to hear this. The movie ends with this, indicating that Vishwaroopam 2 will deal with Wisam going after Omar.
|3D Picture of Political News|
Political News This Week:
|We hold festivals for people, not Cuba or N.Korea: Mamata:|
1) We hold festivals for people, not Cuba or N.Korea: Mamata:
Countering criticism that her debt-strapped government was squandering funds by organising fairs and festivals, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday hit back at the Marxists, saying her regime will continue celebrations for people, not for North Korea or Cuba.
"If it's meant to be a festival, then it should be a people's festival. Instead of having (North) Korea fest or Cuba fest, it should be world festival, India's festival, artists' festival, farmer's, and student's festivals," she said while inaugurating the Yatra (folk theatre) festival.
Banerjee's barb at the Communist Party of India-Marxist-led Left Front by highlighting its fondness for the two communist nations follows gthe Marxists' stringent criticism about the large number of festivals and fairs organised in the state by her government since coming to office.
Senior CPI-M leader and former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee recently ripped apart the Banerjee dispensation for "only keeping itself busy with festivals and fairs, by neglecting industrialsation and development".
|Adhir Chowdhury `s Congress workers booked for vandalism in Murshidabad|
2) Congress workers booked for vandalism in Murshidabad:
Police Friday filed a case against Congress activists who vandalised the district magistrate's bungalow premises in West Bengal's Murshidabad district in the presence of Minister of State for Railways Adhir Chowdhury Thursday.
Angry at District Magistrate Rajeev Kumar for not personally meeting a deputation from Congress workers protesting the death of a party worker in police custody, the activists forcibly entered his official residence in Baharampur town, smashing flower pots, uprooting plants and stoning public vehicles.Chowdhury, who was leading the demonstration outside the bungalow, jumped on to a vehicle and was seen trying to pacify the workers.After the violence, the district magistrate accepted the memorandum in person.
District Superintendent of Police Humayun Kabir said the complaint has been filed against 1,200 Congress supporters. "Some of them have been named in the FIR under certain bailable and non-bailable sections."The sections include criminal trespass, rioting and attacking on-duty police personnel, he said.However, Kabir refused to answer specific queries about whether Chowdhury's name figured in the FIR."This is a secret matter. I cannot divulge this. There is a chance that they may flee if it becomes public that their names figure in the FIR," he said.But Chowdhury seemed belligerent while denying that his party workers had vandalised the DM's bungalow.
"I am a Congress worker first, and then a union minister. When my workers are being killed in custody, I cannot sit idle. There was no vandalism. But the situation could have turned really ugly. I risked my life to stop my workers who were really angry after the DM refused to accept the deputation in person.""Our state level leaders were also present. The DM was repeatedly requested to come and take the deputation. But he did not. I am stunned by his audacity. How can he behave like this with people's representatives?""In such situations things do not remain under the control of leaders. But the situation could have been avoided easily had the DM cared to show a little more courtesy to political workers and elected people's representatives," he said.Chowdhury said he was not bothered if his name was in the FIR or not. "During the previous Left Front government, lots of such baseless cases were filed against Congress workers. The Trinamool Congress regime is just carrying forward such a policy."
"If they frame us, we will start a movement in Murshidabad and across West Bengal," Chowdhury said.Meanwhile, Trinamool MP and former union minister Sultan Ahmed demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sack Chowdhury.Refering to the Feb 23 by-polls in the district's Rejinagar constituency, Ahmed urged the Election Commission to bar Chowdhury's entry in the district till the election process was over.
|Congress defends Kurien on rape charges|
3) Congress defends Kurien on rape charges:
The Congress Friday defended Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien, whose name has been dragged into the 17-year-old Suryanelli rape case, saying the charge was judicially examined and the party could not react emotionally to it.
"The charge against Kurien was judicially examined. Those who did it said in their collective wisdom that he was not involved," Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury told reporters here.
She said the party "could not react emotionally" to the issue as "none of us are in full awareness of facts".
"We can't speculate on it now," she said.
|Will stop Modi if he talks politics at Maha Kumbh: Samajwadi Party|
4) Will stop Modi if he talks politics at Maha Kumbh: Samajwadi Party:
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would be "stopped" if he indulges in politics during his visit to the ongoing Maha kumbh next week, a senior leader from the ruling Samajwadi Party said on Wednesday.
"Maha kumbh is an occasion having spiritual and religious significance. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi can come there and take a holy dip during his visit on February 13 and take the blessings of saints but if he opts to indulge in politics, he would be stopped," senior SP leader Ram Asrey Kushwaha told reporters on phone."Kumbh area is a religious place and it should remain as that it is our advice and also our request," he said. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Kalraj Misra hit back saying, "Rajnath Singh visits Kumbh every year for a holy dip. His or Narendra Modi's visit shouldn't be politicised."In case Kushwaha and SP government speak about stopping Modi from coming to Kumbh, they will be politicising it, he said.
|Pak teen activist Malala discharged from UK hospital|
5) Pak teen activist Malala discharged from UK hospital:
Almost four months since she was shot in the head, Pakistani teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai has been released from a UK hospital where she was being treated after being attacked by the Taliban.Yusufzai had made a good recovery from a five-hour operation she underwent on her skull and ear at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Medical staff said she was well enough to be discharged as an in-patient following the surgery last weekend, Sky News reported.
The hospital said the 15-year-old will now continue her rehabilitation at her family's temporary home in Birmingham and will visit occasionally for outpatient appointments.It said her family had asked for the media to respect their privacy and dignity at this time.
Malala was shot in Pakistan's conservative SwatValley on October 9 and was air-lifted to the QueenElizabethHospital on October 15 for further specialist treatment. She received bullet wounds just above her left eye.Malala had earlier this month undergone two successful operations to attach a titanium plate and cochlear implant.
The procedures carried out on her included Titanium cranioplasty which is repairing of the missing area of skull with a titanium plate that has been moulded to accurately replicate the skull.The other procedure was the Cochlear implant which is fitting a small, complex electronic device that provides a sense of sound to someone who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.
|Kashmir girl band quits after fatwa|
6) Kashmir girl band quits after fatwa:
An all-girl teenage rock band from Indian-administered Kashmir has decided to split after the region’s top Muslim cleric declared their music to be “un-Islamic”, their manager said Tuesday.Pragaash, a three-piece group whose members are still in high school, had been the target of an online hate campaign ever since winning a “Battle of the Bands” contest in December.
But after initially insisting they would continue making music, they have now called it quits after the Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir, Bashiruddin Ahmad, branded them as “indecent” and issued a fatwa calling for them to disband.“After the fatwa the girls decided to quit and disband,” Adnan Mattoo, the band’s manager, said in brief comments to AFP.
The mother of one of the girls confirmed that her daughter had decided to leave the band, saying she was staying with relatives outside Kashmir until the fuss died down.“My daughter had been depressed and irritable so we decided to send her away to another city for some time,” said the mother, who did not want to give her name.The comments by the grand mufti have been widely criticised with the state’s Chief Minister Omar Abdullah among those calling on the band not to be intimidated into giving up on music.
Kashmir is India’s only Muslim-majority state and hardline Islamists have a reputation for trying to impose Islamic law, forcing the closure of cinemas and liquor stores with the onset of an anti-India insurgency in 1990.
|Ghazal king Jagjit Singh is today’s Google doodle|
7) Ghazal king Jagjit Singh is today’s Google doodle:
It is Jagjit Singh’s 72nd birthday and though he died two years ago, you will find him sitting in his patent posture with a harmonium on Google today.
Singh was one of India’s most renowned Ghazal singers and has had hit songs like Woh Kaghaz Ki Kashti, Hothon Se Chulo and Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho that have inspired and touched generations.A Padma Bhushan recipient, Singh was admitted to the hospital on 23 September 2011 and died on 11 October the same year. His condition had deteriorated in the last few days and he was on life support.
The voice behind the timeless ghazals was inspired by singers like K L Sehgal, Talat Mahmood, Abdul Karim Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Amir Khan.
One of the most successful and loved artistes of his time, he has left behind a huge body of work in a career spanning five decades, including 80 albums.
It was his father, who first recognised his son’s talent. He sent young Jagjit to learn the nuances of music under a blind teacher, Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma. He later trained under Ustad Jamal Khan of Sainia gharana for six-years and gained knowledge in Khayal, Thumri and Dhrupad for stresssed.
|Afzal Guru hanged, buried in Tihar jail|
8) Afzal Guru hanged, buried in Tihar jail:
Afzal Guru, convicted in the audacious attack on Parliament in 2001, was on Saturday hanged in Tihar Jail, in an operation shrouded in secrecy.“Afzal Guru was hanged at 8 a.m.,” Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said shortly after the execution of the Jaish-e-Mohammad militant.
The mercy plea of the 43-year-old Guru, who was sentenced to death in 2002 by a special court and later upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004, was rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee a few days back, Rashtrapati Bhavan spokespeman Venu Rajamony said.
Reminiscent of the hanging of Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab on November 21, 2012 Guru’s execution was kept under wraps in a top secret operation.The family of Guru residing in Sopore in north Kashmir was informed about the decision of the government that his mercy petition has been rejected.
Guru was buried inside the prison complex soon after his execution.“He (Guru) was buried near jail number three,” a top Tihar Jail official told PTI.
Curfew was imposed in the Kashmir Valley in the wee hours of Saturday. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, DGP Ashok Prasad and other senior officers flew from Jammu to Srinagar early this morning to keep a close watch on the law and order situation.
Pro-Pakistan separatist groups have given a call for a three-day shut down in the Valley.
Guru was convicted on charges conspiracy in the December 2001 attack on Parliament.
On December 13, 2001, five heavily-armed gunmen stormed the Parliament complex and opened indiscriminate fire, killing nine persons.
They included five Delhi Police personnel, a woman Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) official, two Parliament watch and ward staff and a gardener.A journalist, who was injured, died later. All five terrorists were shot dead.
|3D Picture of Sports News|
Sports News This Week:
|Hundreds of world football matches fixed|
1) Hundreds of world football matches fixed
European investigators have uncovered evidence that hundreds of football matches at club and national level were fixed around the globe in a scam run from Singapore, police said on Monday.A joint inquiry by Europol, the European anti-crime agency, and national prosecutors has identified about 680 suspicious matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and for the Champions League for European club sides, Europol head Rob Wainwright said.
The matches, some of which have already been subject to successful criminal prosecutions, were played between 2008 and 2011. About 380 of the suspicious matches were played in Europe, and a further 300 were identified in Africa, Asia, and south and central America.
Football is the world's most popular sport, watched by billions live and on television around the globe and making huge profits for some clubs and broadcasters.
Last year the head of an anti-corruption watchdog estimated that $1 trillion was gambled on sport each year - or $3 billion a day - with most coming from Asia and put on football matches.A German investigator described a network involving couriers ferrying bribes around the world, paying off players and referees in the fixing which involved about 425 corrupt officials, players and serious criminals in 15 countries.
"We have evidence for 150 of these cases, and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to 100,000 euros paid per match," said Friedhelm Althans, chief investigator for police in the German city of Bochum, told a news conference.
Investigators said no names of players or clubs would be released while the investigation proceeded. However, the fixing also included top flight national league matches in several European countries, as well as two Champions League matches, including one played in Britain.
Singapore police said last month that they were helping Italian authorities to investigate alleged match fixing involving a Singaporean, but said he had not been arrested or charged with any offence there.Althans said that, though German police had concrete proof of 8 million euros ($11 million) in gambling profits from the match fixing, this was probably the tip of the iceberg.
Investigators described how gang members immediately subordinate to the Singapore-based leader of a worldwide network were each tasked with maintaining contacts with corrupt players and officials in their parts of the world.
Laszlo Angeli, a Hungarian prosecutor, gave an example of how the scam worked. "The Hungarian member, who was immediately below the Singapore head, was in touch with Hungarian referees who could then attempt to swing matches at which they officiated around the world," he said.
Accomplices would then place bets on the internet or by phone with bookmakers in Asia, where bets that would be illegal in Europe were accepted. "One fixed match might involve up to 50 suspects in 10 countries on separate continents," said Althans."Even two World Cup qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion," Althans added.
|Hundreds of world football matches fixed|
TOUGH TO FIX
World football's governing body FIFA issued a statement pointing to quotes from its Director of Security, Ralf Mutschke, before a match-fixing conference in Rome last month."World Cup qualifying matches are tough to fix as a general rule, since the World Cup is the biggest event for teams and above all players," he said. "We're obviously still keeping a very close eye on the matches, but as yet there have been no suspicions of fixing."
Althans said there was a need to coordinate match fixing legislation around Europe. "In many countries, including Germany, fixing a match only becomes a crime if you then place a bet on the outcome," he said, adding that proving a bet had been placed was often difficult.Last year Chris Eaton, who is director of Sport Integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, a Qatari-backed anti-corruption watchdog, gave the $1 trillion estimate for global sports gambling.
"Around 80 percent of that money is gambled on football, football, and most of that money is either in or to southeast Asia," said Eaton, a former head of security at FIFA, world football's governing body.
Eaton said mafia gangs were attracted to match-fixing because it was a way of laundering cash and estimated they were making hundreds of millions of dollars annually.Corruption goes beyond football. Three Pakistani test cricketers were jailed in Britain in 2011 for their part in a scam where players agree to rig a specific part of a game, so-called "spot fixing".The incidents occurred during an international match against England in the summer of 2010, at Lord's, the home of cricket and came to light as a result of an investigation by the now defunct News of the World newspaper.
|ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2013: England lose Super Six contest against Australia by two runs|
2) ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2013: England lose Super Six contest against Australia by two runs:
England Women's captain Charlotte Edwards admitted poor shots were to blame for her team's demise as they suffered a painful two-run defeat to Australia in their opening World Cup Super Sixes match.
In a low-scoring encounter at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, England looked to have put themselves in pole position when they skittled out their opponents for just 147, Anya Shrubsole doing much of the damage with three for 24.
England's reply was woeful to start with as they crumbled to 39 for six, but a battling 49 from Lydia Greenway helped get them back on track before late fireworks from Holly Colvin and Shrubsole set up an exciting finish.However, Colvin's dismissal eventually handed the honours to Australia and Edwards admitted it was a bitter pill to swallow."We're disappointed to get so close, but that's cricket and we've got to come back stronger," she said in the post-match presentation.
Shrubsole had led England's attack marvellously after Australia were sent in to bat.The Somerset player claimed career-best one-day international figures of four for 21 against West Indies in England's last group game and followed that up with three top-order scalps as Australia slumped to 32 for five.
A sixth-wicket partnership of 82 between Lisa Sthalekar (41) and Sarah Coyte (44) boosted Australia's total, but Arran Brindle and Colvin took two wickets apiece to help see off the lower order.Despite having the wind in their sails, England's reply looked precarious when they slumped to 39 for six.Edwards was the first wicket to fall for eight to a debatable lbw decision and Sarah Taylor followed just seven balls later, edging to first slip.Opener Danielle Wyatt contributed 16 before nicking to wicket-keeper and captain Jodie Fields, while Brindle and Heather Knight barely registered as the score became 38 for five.It got even worse when Jenny Gunn went for a duck, although there was little she could do with her middle stumped ripped out by a superb delivery from teenager Holly Ferling, who finished with three wickets in the match.Greenway and Laura Marsh then joined forces with a hard-fought seventh-wicket stand which resulted in a fifty partnership from 136 balls.
The stand was broken when another questionable lbw decision saw Marsh walk for 22, but Greenway continued to edge towards a half-century until she threw away her wicket one run short by driving a Ferling delivery to Sthalekar at short cover.When Katherine Brunt quickly followed, the writing looked on the wall for England but Australia had not reckoned on a defiant last-wicket stand between Colvin and Shrubsole.Colvin's impact was immediate with three fours off the first four balls she faced, while Shrubsole added two more boundaries as the tailenders set Australian nerves jangling.Indeed, England were within touching distance of the winning total but luck went Australia's way when Colvin succumbed on 16, edging the ball behind to Fields.
|Cricket: West Indies win toss and bat against Australia|
3) Cricket: West Indies win toss and bat against Australia:
West Indies captain Darren Sammy won the toss and chose to bat in the fourth one-day international against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.
Australia brought in Adam Voges in place of injured George Bailey (hamstring) and paceman Ben Cutting replaced Mitchell Starc.
The West Indies made three changes with Johnson Charles replacing the injured Chris Gayle (thigh) and Narsingh Deonarine taking over from the out-of-form Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Tino Best was called in to replace Kemar Roach in the third change.
Australia have already clinched the best of five-match series with victories in the opening three games in Perth and Sydney and are chasing a 5-0 sweep.
Australia: Shane Watson, Aaron Finch, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Cutting, Clint McKay.
West Indies: Kieran Powell, Johnson Charles, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Narsingh Deonarine, Devon Thomas, Darren Sammy (capt), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Tino Best.
|Subhaditya News Channel Present Newsweek (30)|