|Animated Collage of NewsWeek-56|
|Collage of Pictures of NewsWeek-56|
Science News This Week:
1) Antarctic waters may shelter wrecks from shipworms:
|Antarctic waters may shelter wrecks from shipworms|
Ocean currents and polar front form 'moat' that keeps destructive mollusks at bay.
Quirks of ocean currents may have turned the waters around Antarctica into a rare sanctuary for undiscovered wooden shipwrecks, free of the destructive mollusks known as shipworms.The front formed by the junction of frigid polar and warmer waters as well as a strong current circling the continent may block tiny shipworm youngsters from moving in, says Thomas Dahlgren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.Fourteen months after leaving wooden planks and whale bones underwater on western Antarctica’s continental shelf, researchers found no evidence of wood-boring mollusks. Whale remains sprouted bone-eating worms but the wood emerged “pristine,” Dahlgren and his colleagues report August 14 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.In most other ocean waters, including the Arctic, mollusks that specialize in boring into wood typically show up within months, Dahlgren says. Yet off-shore Antarctica is a terrible habitat for wood borers because the continent probably hasn’t grown trees for at least 30 million years. And research on other marine species has suggested that the Antarctic circumpolar current and the polar front can block some invaders from moving in.With the results from the sunken-plank test, Dahlgren says, “it is pretty cool that our chances to find Shackleton’s ship — the Endurance, one of the most famous ships in the history of science — untouched by shipworms have increased.”Explorer Ernest Henry Shackleton’s ship was crushed by ice and sank in 1915 during his harrowing three-year attempt to cross Antarctica.
If more exploration confirms Antarctica’s dearth of wood-boring mollusks, it would join the Black and Baltic seas as the main gaps in the world’s shipworm map — for now. “Invasive shipworms are now entering the Baltic and may well be threatening ancient shipwrecks,” says Janet Voight, a curator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.Sea-sunken timber can attract two main groups of specialized wood-eating mollusks, the teredinids, with long wormy bodies sticking out of shells, and the more depth-loving, clamish-looking xylophagains. These deeper-dwelling wood-borers live much like the Osedax worms that bore into whale bones on the ocean floor, says marine evolutionary biologist Kenneth Halanych of Auburn University in Alabama. So he was intrigued that the experiment found that bone borers flourished where wood borers didn’t.The submerged whale bones attracted Osedax worms, which really are worms. At least two kinds are species new to science, apparently living the specialized Osedax lifestyle of gutlessly relying on microbes to extract nutrients from fallen carcasses. Antarctica may not have trees, but it attracts plenty of whales.
2) News in Brief: New carnivore species found:
|News in Brief: New carnivore species found:|
Tiny olingo species dubbed 'olinguito'.
Shrouded in the mist of an Andean cloud forest, the first newly discovered carnivore in the Western Hemisphere in 35 years rarely leaves its treetop home.
Smithsonian researchers stumbled upon Bassaricyon neblina, also known as the “olinguito,” while riffling through museum specimens and old field notes in search of information about other members of the Bassaricyon genus—commonly known as olingos.
Described August 15 in ZooKeys, the olinguito weighs just 2 pounds and resides at 5,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level, making the orange-and-brown tree dweller the smallest and highest-venturing of the olingo species.
Misidentified until now, olinguito specimens have existed in museums for 100 years, and at least one olinguito lived in several U.S. zoos during the 1960s and 1970s.
3) Quantum teleportation approaches the computer chip:
|Quantum teleportation approaches the computer chip|
Quantum teleportation is on its way to becoming routine. New work demonstrates that quantum information can teleport on demand, using for the first time a device that closely resembles a computer chip.
The techniques laid out in two new studies are major steps toward developing quantum computers and ensuring secure communication over quantum networks, says physicist Eugene Polzik of the University of Copenhagen, who was not involved in either study.Unlike Star Trek’s transporters, quantum teleportation does not physically transport objects. Instead it shuttles information about the properties of an object and incorporates those properties into a new object. For a simple particle like a photon, that’s just as effective as moving it: A photon that has the same polarization, energy and other attributes as another photon might as well be the same photon.
Quantum teleportation is not easy to accomplish because the properties of quantum particles are so fragile. A sender can’t simply measure a particle and share those properties with a receiver because the act of measuring changes the particle. In 1997 physicists developed a technique that achieved quantum teleportation, at least occasionally — a very small percentage of the desired information actually got transported. Since then physicists have successfully teleported photons over increasing distances through fiber-optic cables (SN: 6/30/12, p. 10), but the process remains inconsistent.
Now physicist Andreas Wallraff at ETH Zurich and his team have created the first solid-state device, similar to a computer chip, that is capable of teleporting quantum information. The chip contains tiny circuits that each behave like an atom. The circuits are connected by millimeters-long transmission lines carrying microwave radiation, which entangles the circuits so that the properties of one affect the other. By programming a bit of quantum information into circuit A, Wallraff and his team changed the signal arriving at circuit B. They could then use that changed signal to determine the original properties of circuit A and transfer them to circuit B.
Most importantly, Wallraff’s teleportation system successfully transports information in nearly every attempt, and it can do it roughly 10,000 times per second, an unprecedented rate. The study appears in the Aug. 15 Nature.In another study in the same issue, an international team led by physicist Akira Furusawa of the University of Tokyo successfully transported information between photons with near-perfect success, or 50 times as efficient as previous experiments. Polzik says such a technique could be pivotal for quantum computers.
4) News in Brief: Magnetic field of black hole measured:
|News in Brief: Magnetic field of black hole measured|
The fortuitous discovery of a stellar beacon near the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way has provided astronomers with the first direct measurement of the magnetic field surrounding a black hole. The finding, reported August 14 in Nature, supports astronomers’ hypothesis that strong magnetic fields prevent black holes from gorging on gas and dust.
In late April, two NASA space telescopes spotted a strange X-ray outburst from the galactic center that appeared every four seconds or so. Its repetition was the telltale signal of a pulsar, a rapidly rotating stellar corpse that, like a lighthouse, emits a beam of radiation. Astronomers quickly pointed ground-based scopes, including the 100-meter Effelsberg radio telescope near Bonn, Germany, at the spot. As radio waves travel from the pulsar toward Earth, they encounter magnetic fields generated by clouds of gas getting pulled in by the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole, called Sagittarius A*. The fields twist the radio waves, which initially oscillated in one direction, into corkscrews.
By measuring this twisting effect, the researchers determined that the magnetic field around Sagittarius A* is relatively strong. Roughly 150 light-years from the black hole’s core, the field is only one-hundredth of the strength of the magnetic field around Earth. But the researchers estimate that the field likely strengthens by five orders of magnitude just outside Sagittarius A*’s core.
5) Scientists Reveal How Deadly Ebola Virus Assembles:
|Scientists Reveal How Deadly Ebola Virus Assembles|
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered the molecular mechanism by which the deadly Ebola virus assembles, providing potential new drug targets. Surprisingly, the study showed that the same molecule that assembles and releases new viruses also rearranges itself into different shapes, with each shape controlling a different step of the virus's life cycle.
"Like a 'Transformer', this protein of the Ebola virus adopts different shapes for different functions," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbial Science at TSRI. "It revises a central dogma of molecular biology -- that a protein molecule has one shape that predestines one biological function."The research was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Cell.
"These findings open doors to developing new drugs against Ebola," added Zachary Bornholdt, Ph.D., senior staff scientist and first author of the study. "Drugs to block viral replication could target any of the structures themselves or the intermediate steps in the structural transformation process."
Ebola hemorrhagic fever is one of the most virulent diseases known to humankind. Very few pathogens prove more dangerous than Ebola virus once a person is infected. There is no cure, and the case-fatality rate can be up to 90 percent, depending on which strain is involved.
Ebola virus and its cousin Marburg virus are spread when people come into contact with the bodily fluids of a person or animal who is already infected. Infection causes rapidly progressing high fever, hemorrhage and shock. No drugs or vaccines are yet available for human use. Currently, the standard treatment consists of administering fluids and taking protective measures to ensure containment, such as isolating the patient and washing sheets with bleach.
Once rare, the viruses are now reemerging with increasing frequency, and have caused at least four outbreaks among humans in the last two years. Although the viruses are found most often in Africa, they have been unintentionally imported into the United States and Europe several times, and in recent years a version of the Ebola virus has been found replicating in swine raised for human consumption in Asia.
To conduct the study, Dr. Saphire and her group at TSRI collaborated with Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ph.D., D.V.M., who holds joint appointments at the University of Wisconsin and University of Tokyo. Dr. Kawaoka's group provided cellular microscopy and critical replication experiments to complement the TSRI team's expertise in x-ray crystallography and protein biochemistry.
The results, five years in the making, revealed the Ebola VP40 protein exists as a dimer, not as a monomer as previously thought, and it rearranges its structure to assemble filaments to build the virus shell or "matrix" to release countless new viruses from infected cells. The study showed the protein also rearranges itself into rings in order to bind RNA and control the internal components of the virus copied inside infected cells.This "shape-shifting" or "transformer" behavior explains how the Ebola virus can control a multi-step viral lifecycle using only a very limited number of genes.
6) Three-Dimensional Model of Bacterium Created:
|Three-Dimensional Model of Bacterium Created|
Certain bacteria can build such complex membrane structures that, in terms of complexity and dynamics, look like eukaryotes, i.e., organisms with a distinct membrane-bound nucleus. Scientists from Heidelberg University and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) made this discovery employing new methods in electron microscopy. The research team succeeded in building a three-dimensional model of the Gemmata obscuriglobus bacterium, including the structure of its membrane system. Their studies demonstrated, however, that the G. obscuriglobus does not have a "true" nucleus. Despite this outlier characteristic, it remains classified as a bacterium and thus a so-called prokaryote.
The results of their research were published in PLoS Biology."Since the beginning of microscopy, cells of living organisms have been classified into one of two categories," explains Dr. Damien Devos, a researcher at the Centre for Organismal Studies (COS) at Heidelberg University. Eukaryotes "pack" their genetic material, their DNA, in an area enclosed in a membrane, the nucleus. Prokaryotes, however, which also include bacteria, do not have that type of cell nucleus. Several years ago, analyses using new techniques of two-dimensional imaging had suggested that the genetic material of G. obscuriglobus was surrounded by a double membrane -- this and other unique characteristics of membrane structure called into question the differentiation between prokaryotes and eukaryotes.
"The possibility that a bacterium could have a structure similar to a cell nucleus threatened to unhinge one of the central assumptions of biology on which countless other analyses and interpretations were based," explains Damien Devos. To study the unique features of the membrane structure in the G. obscuriglobus more closely, the Heidelberg researchers divided the bacterium into thin slices and examined them using an electron microscope. The slices were used to detect the membranes, track their course throughout the entire bacterium and reconstruct their organisation on the computer. This created a virtual model of G. obscuriglobus, which enabled the researchers to visualise the membrane organisation in three-dimensional space and analyse how the membranes were structured within the cell.
The studies demonstrated that the membranes within the G. obscuriglobus are only one part of the interior membrane that is present in all bacteria and that surrounds the cytoplasm. "G. obscuriglobus also evidenced additional characteristics that are found in other bacteria," explains Damien Devos. According to the researcher, these results disprove the assumption of the existence of a bacterial cell nucleus. "The cell structure and the membranes of the Gemmata obscuriglobus are simply more complex than in 'classic' bacteria.Therefore, G. obscuriglobus does not constitute a new, separate group of organisms, and it cannot be classified a eukaryote," says Dr. Devos, who collaborated with Rachel Santarella-Mellwig of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory.
Political News This Week:
1) Experts speak: Enormous damage done, but navy will set it right:
|Experts speak: Enormous damage done, but navy will set it right:|
The explosion aboard the country's frontline submarine Sindhurakshak was quite a setback, said former commanders and top naval experts, even as they expressed hope that the Indian Navy would soon be able to set things right.
Former navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar said the incident was, "quite a setback for the navy as Sindhurakshak was one of our frontline submarines which was recently modified and was operational".But Kumar said that he was confident the navy had ways to find out what went wrong."There could be many reasons why it happened; submarines do need a lot of precautions. There are many possible causes for such mishaps, but it is not the first time that such an accident has taken place," Kumar said.He recalled an incident many years ago when the President had called a board of inquiry, but added that the damage in that case had been contained."And, I am sure the navy will have the professional determination to set it right and everything will be back in order," he said.Vice Admiral (retired) AK Singh said that an internal explosion on a submarine could have been caused either through material failure or because the standard operating procedure was not followed.In submarines, the batteries are placed in the lower part while on top are the missiles, Singh said.The batteries release hydrogen and, during charging, the gas reaches a concentration level of about 4 per cent, which may form an explosive mixture.
Singh, however, added that hydrogen alone was not enough to cause an explosion of the magnitude witnessed in the 'Sindhurakshak' case."I suspect the hydrogen could have created a fire, which spread to the top where the missile compartments are and reached the warheads, (thus) causing a massive explosion. It is unfortunate it was our frontline submarine. The damage done is enormous," Singh said."This is a very major loss. Our conventional submarine fleet has been declining alarmingly and this was a frontline submarine, which had just come from Russia a couple of months back after major repairs and modernisation. It was our most important platform fitted with anti-ship and land attack missiles, torpedoes and very excellent sensors," Vice Admiral Singh said.He expressed hope that personnel on board the submarine would have survived the mishap.
"All our submarines carry secondary systems of individual escapes, oxygen for two-and-a-half hours, there are enough sets for the entire crew," he said.Singh said that submarines are divided into six or seven watertight departments in which people can be isolated. People are known to have survived submarine disasters for up to 14 days, he said.The Sindhurakshak had sunk at the naval dockyard and not at sea, Singh said, adding that, moreover, it had submerged only 2-3 metres, which means that anybody alive could come out.Singh felt that the submarine itself could be salvaged and there are means of lifting up the vessel. The personnel who are trained for such jobs, too, are there, he said.Other navies too have faced problems of battery explosions, Singh said, adding that there had been an explosion on a submarine in 1984, although the damages then were not as heavy as in the present case."The Indian Navy, I am sure, is capable of getting the submarine back, but if the damage is extensive then it will take some years," he said.
2) 2 other submarines damaged along with INS Sindhurakshak:
|2 other submarines damaged along with INS Sindhurakshak|
Sindhurakshak, there were two other submarines at the naval dockyard at the time of fire on Tuesday night. After the explosion, one has been moved to deep sea, while the other has been moved away. Both the submarines had ammunition on board.
Casualties could be high, it is feared, since there were around 35 personnel on board each submarine. Early reports indicate that while many jumped to safety, 18 submariners are trapped within the submarine.
After the explosion, the twisted hatches have made rescue difficult. At least 18 stretchers were seen being taken inside the dockyard. The rescued injured have already been taken to the naval hospital at INS Ashwini. The Mumbai fire brigade's resources have been withdrawn from the site, and only the Navy's resources are being used to tackle the fire.
The three submarines were supposed to move out on Tuesday night for operations, which was why they were fully armed and staffed, sources said. Because the submarines were fully armed, fire brigade sources fear the toll could be higher. The navy has taken over the fire-fighting and rescue operations because of the weaponry onboard, handling and defusing which would need specialised involvement.
|2 other submarines damaged along with INS Sindhurakshak|
Former chief of naval staff Vishnu Bhagwat said, "It is a very sad accident and I do not wish to comment more on this. Unfortunately the kind of speculation that is going on shows certain lobbies are working overtime, which is being linked to the proposals to make more indigenous submarines. All I can say is, the official version is out, the navy has sent out a statement, the defence minister the spoken and we must learn to respect it."
3) Heavy exchange of fire overnight at LoC in Poonch:
|Heavy exchange of fire overnight at LoC in Poonch|
Ceasefire violations by Pakistan continued as intermittent small arm fire was on through Thursday night in Balakota and Sabzian area in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir. The firing started at 9:30 pm and continued till the morning. There were reports of massive retaliatory fire by the Indian troops.
Using heavy calibre guns, the Indian Army retaliated strongly after Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked and indiscriminate firing with rocket and mortar shell attacks on the Line of Control posts in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch sector that injured three Army jawans and a civilian. This is the 11th ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the past five days, army officials said.
Defence Spokesman (Jammu) S N Acharya said in an official release that the Pakistan army started unprovoked firing at Indian forward posts in Mendhar sector from 06:30 am.
"Own troops retaliated immediately with heavy caliber weapons," he said.
Pakistani troops opened fire along the LoC on several Indian forward posts in Balakote belt of Poonch district, army officials said. They fired automatic weapons, rockets and mortar shells in which three jawans received minor injuries. The jawans have been shifted to hospital, the officials said.
A shell of 82-mm mortar fired by Pakistan troops fell in Sanjote forward area of Mendhar tehsil resulting in injury to Parvaiz, a civilian, who was shifted to GMC hospital in Jammu. A rocket fired by Pakistani troops fell and exploded on a cowshed in Basonia village of Mendhar this afternoon resulting in death of a dozen cattle.
Under attack from opposition parties over the government's response on the killing of five Indian soldiers, Defence Minister A K Antony had said the armed forces have the freedom to respond appropriately to a developing situation along the LoC.
"The armed forces have the freedom to respond to a developing situation there (along the LoC) appropriately," he said, replying to questions after the launch of 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in Kochi on August 12.
4) I-Day: Blasts in Assam, Manipur; Omar for resumption of talks:
|I-Day: Blasts in Assam, Manipur; Omar for resumption of talks|
Bomb blasts on Thursday rocked Assam and Manipur during Independence Day functions injuring one person even as chief ministers asked extremists to abjure violence and return to the mainstream.In Srinagar, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in his Independence Day address advocated resumption of dialogue with Pakistan as well as with the separatists to resolve the political issues of Jammu and Kashmir.
|Bomb blasts on Thursday rocked Assam and Manipur|
"Jammu and Kashmir is a political problem and can be resolved only through a process of dialogue. We have to start the dialogue process both internally as well as bilaterally (with Pakistan) for addressing this issue," he said at the Bakshi Stadium.
He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif should take steps for earning each other's confidence to carry forward the dialogue process between the two countries.Omar also expressed concern over the recent ceasefire violations by Pakistan, saying such incidents were not good for the dialogue process. "You violate the ceasefire, our people suffer. We retaliate, your people suffer. Guns cannot be a solution," he said.
The celebrations passed off peacefully in the state with no report of any untoward incident from anywhere in the Valley.
In Bongaigaon in Assam, the anti-talk NDFB (Sangbijit) faction triggered serial blasts injuring one person in Kokrajhar district where the outfit exploded two grenades while another was triggered in neighbouring Chirang district.Bipul Brahma (45) was injured in one of the explosions in Kokrajhar. Another unexploded bomb was recovered from the district and defused.
A powerful bomb exploded a few minutes before the celebrations of Independence day in Manipur but no casualty was reported. The bomb, planted by insurgents, went off at around 8.20 am at Moirangkhom petrol pump area, about 400 metres from the 1st Manipur rifles parade ground ahead of the I-Day function.
The site of the explosion was about one km from the residence of Chief Minister Ibobi Singh, who asked insurgents to give up violence and join the national mainstream by participating in implementation of various development programmes for the welfare of the people.In Ranchi, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced distribution of land to the landless rural population and appealed to the Naxalites to abjure violence as his government was ready for a dialogue.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said the state is marching ahead in terms of development, but at the same time, the enemies of development are also active.
Nine insurgent outfits of Tripura including the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura had given a call to observe the day as black day.
In Panaji, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar assured the citizens that his government will not allow dance bars in the state and will weed out drugs and prostitution from the tourist destination.
Maintaining that the nation is "restless" for a change, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi launched a blistering attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, challenging him for a public debate on pressing issues while accusing him of taking a 'weak' stance on Pakistan
In a veiled attack on Modi on Gujarat's industrial development model, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said in Patna that inclusive growth model being implemented in his state was a better alternative as it caters to aspirations of all people.
In Chennai, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said the Centre's move to introduce the Food Security Bill in Parliament would affect the public distribution system in the state and asserted her government would continue to implement the universal PDS.Vice Admiral (retired) Madanjit Singh said that the incident was the first of its kind in the country in peace time and the matter should be seriously investigated.He said it was possible that the hydrogen that accumulates during the charging of its batteries could have started the initial reaction through a likely spark which then caused the explosion."All these weapons have a series of safeguards: inter-locks -- electronic and mechanical -- which prevent the weapons from exploding. So, this is a matter of serious investigation as to what caused this explosion," Madanjit Singh said.Former Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses director, Commodore (retired) Uday Bhaskar, said that since the rate of induction of new platforms has not kept up with the kind of wear and tear that a submarine faces, the navy's submarine fleet was depleting while its operational load was increasing."The fact that the Sindhurakshak (incident) has happened, is going to have its own adverse impact," he averred.
5) Dawood Ibrahim's aide Iqbal Mirchi dies in UK:
|Dawood Ibrahim's aide Iqbal Mirchi dies in UK|
Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's close aide Iqbal Mirchi, an accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case, died of a heart attack in London on Wednesday night.
Mirchi, 63, the right-hand man of India's topmost terrorist, was also facing drug smuggling charges in India.
He had been living in a large six-bedroom home in an exclusive part of Hornchurch, a town in Essex, north-east of London.
Ranked among the world's top 50 drug barons, Muhammed Iqbal Memon or Iqbal Mirchi had been issued an Interpol Red Corner Notice in 1994 on Central Bureau of Investigation's request.In April 1995, officers from Scotland Yard had raided Mirchi's home and arrested him on drugs and terrorism charges in connection with the blasts in Mumbai.
However, an extradition request by India was turned down by magistrates in UK.
Scotland Yard's investigation of Mirchi, which ended in 1999, found no evidence of criminal activity and in 2001 the UK Home Office granted him indefinite leave to remain in the UK.India's most-wanted criminal Dawood Ibrahim is on FBI's list of top terrorists in the world.
6) PMO refuses to release files on Netaji's widow, daughter:
|PMO refuses to release files on Netaji's widow, daughter|
Turning down an RTI appeal, the Prime Minister's Office has said releasing secret files about Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's widow Emilie Schenkl and daughter Anita Bose may upset relations with foreign countries.
Chandrachur Ghose who runs the website www.subhaschandrabose.org had appealed under the RTI Act to provide access to letters written by Netaji's widow and daughter to the government.
"The three files in question are classified and disclosure of the documents contained in them would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries," the PMO said in its reply.
Signed by Rajeev Topno, director (PMO), the response said these files were therefore exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.
"Based on the reasons given above, no further action is called for on your appeal and the same is accordingly disposed of," it said.
Ghose, who is writing a biography on the leader, said the life and times of Netaji, who had disappeared in 1945, is a mystery since many files relating to it are held by various government departments.
In an earlier disclosure under the RTI appeal made by 'Mission Netaji', a Delhi-based research trust, the PMO had admitted that it was holding 33 secret files on Netaji.
"The only reason why the Government is able to keep files about Netaji secret in this age and time is that there is no one to apply pressure on it. No political party of consequence or a state government stands up for Netaji today, unlike other national icons such as Bhagat Singh, Sardar Patel and Babasaheb Ambedkar," said Anuj Dhar, author of two books on Netaji.
When under house arrest by the Britishers, Netaji had escaped from India in 1941 to seek international support for India's freedom struggle. After organising the Indian National Army with Japanese help he went missing in 1945, giving birth to India's most debated and puzzling mystery.
The Mukherjee Commission had rejected the opinion that he died in a plane crash in Taiwan on August 18, 1945.
Sports News This Week:
1) Usain Bolt blocks out the pain to advance in 200m:
|Usain Bolt blocks out the pain to advance in 200m|
Usain Bolt stretched, stifled a yawn and, almost apologetically, extracted his giant frame from his blocks before strolling through his heat as he began his bid for a third successive world 200 metres title on Friday.
Bolt, never a fan of morning action and slightly tentative after dropping a starting block on his foot earlier in the week, was in the last of seven first round heats and duly won it in 20.66 seconds without ever getting out of second gear.
Watched by another feeble crowd, the sport's biggest name did the minimum required to advance to the semi-finals later in the day, with the final scheduled for 1605 GMT on Saturday.
"I'm not really a morning person so I'm just happy to get through," Bolt said after advancing as the 21st-fastest qualifier.
"My foot is feeling better. It was sore but we've been working on it for four days."
Bolt, who set the current world record of 19.19 in Berlin four years ago, is the fastest in the field this season with 19.73 in Paris six weeks ago.
American Tyson Gay would probably have been his main challenger, having clocked 19.74, but the 2007 champion misses the championships after a positive drugs test.
Bolt's Jamaican team mate Warren Weir, bronze medallist in last year's Olympics and the next-fastest in the field, also progressed comfortably, as did Nickel Ashmeade, fresh from his fifth place in the 100 metres final, and Jason Livermore as Jamaica bid to match their London Olympics podium sweep.
Yohan Blake, the silver medallist in London, is absent through injury while France's Christophe Lamaitre, world bronze medallist in 2011, also withdrew after suffering an injury racing the 100m earlier in the week.
Gay's absence opened the door for Wallace Spearmon, with two bronzes and a silver from previous world championships, but the American only just went through after taking it too easy for too long and finishing third in his heat.
2) Brazil's Swiss miss:
|Brazil's Swiss miss|
Tetchy Brazil were upset 1-0 in Switzerland while Argentina beat Italy 2-1 even without Lionel Messi on a mostly successful night for South American teams in friendlies ahead of next month's World Cup qualifiers. Paraguay, bottom of their qualifying group and with almost no hope of reaching a fifth World Cup finals in a row, managed a shock 3-3 draw away to an unusually sloppy Germany side on coach Victor Genes's debut.
A largely experimental Spain team earned a 2-0 away win over Ecuador to keep the European flag flying in the steamy Pacific port city of Guayaquil with goals from Alvaro Negredo and Santi Cazorla for the world champions.
England, by no means sure of a direct berth into the World Cup finals, fought back twice for a 3-2 win over Scotland at Wembley in an enthralling first clash between the bitter rivals since 1999. In the night's only World Cup qualifier, Russia blew a chance to overtake Portugal at the top of European Group F when they were upset 1-0 by Northern Ireland in Belfast, Martin Paterson scoring the only goal two minutes before halftime.
The 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil, fresh from their Confederations Cup triumph, were disappointing in Berne where they failed to recover from a Dani Alves own goal just after the interval. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari argued that his team were less prepared than the Swiss for an international date at the end of the mid-year off-season. Argentina, missing captain Messi due to muscle fatigue, won their first meeting with Italy for 12 years with striker Gonzalo Higuain, a fine successor to Gabriel Batistuta, opening their account with his 21st goal in 34 internationals.
Substitute midfielder Ever Banega added the second before Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back in the match in Rome in honour of Argentine-born Pope Francis and preceded on Monday by the visit of both teams to the Vatican.
3) The 'big four' advance to last eight of the Western and Southern Open:
|The 'big four' advance to last eight of the Western and Southern Open|
Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all picked up third round wins at the Western and Southern Open on Thursday to set up a star-studded last eight in Cincinnati.
The ATP Tour's big four were joined in the quarter-finals by 2009 U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer all picked up third round wins at the Western and Southern Open on Thursday to set up a star-studded last eight in Cincinnati.
The ATP Tour's big four were joined in the quarter-finals by 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina, the only other man to hoist a grand slam trophy since Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open.
Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, Federer and Del Potro have accounted for the last 34 grand slams and it is just the second time this year all five have reached the last eight of a tournament.
The marquee matchup on Friday will see world number five and 17-time grand slam winner Federer take on long-time rival Nadal, the world number three.
Nadal, whose grand slam resume lists 12 titles, and Federer will clash for the 31st time, adding yet another chapter to what will go down as one of the sport's all-time great rivalries.
Nadal has been in superb form coming off a win Montreal and ran his hardcourt winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 win over Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday.
"Always play against Roger is a special feeling," said Nadal, who has reached the finals in 10-of-11 events he has entered this season, claiming eight titles.
"We have a great history behind us in our confrontations, so it's another quarter-finals.
"It's a special one because you're playing against a very special player. Our matches were very special always.
4) Indian Badminton League: Saina trumps Sindhu in top-of-table clash:
|Indian Badminton League: Saina trumps Sindhu in top-of-table clash|
Saina Nehwal weathered a barrage of early pressure from PV Sindhu before taking a convincing straight games 21-19 21-8 win to give Hyderabad Hotshots take a 2-0 lead over Awadhe Warriors on Day Two of the Indian Badminton League.
The much-awaited maiden clash between the top two women's players in the country started out evenly before petering out into a one-sided contest.
While both players scoffed at any notion of a developing rivalry, clearly there were early nerves on both sides. A net error from Sindhu followed a smash that went wide, giving Nehwal a 2-0 lead. However, with Sindhu getting her range, it was the youngster who appeared to have the edge. Mixing up her game, she wrong-footed Nehwal with a half smash and the delicate drop that subsequently clipped the line gave her a 5-3 lead. The bluff even earned a half smile from Nehwal.
With her smashes hit true from the back court, Sindhu grew in confidence close in as well. Nehwal's tricks near the net weren't catching Sindhu and as she tried to change her distance and her pace, the errors crept in with the senior trailing 10-15. But for all of Nehwal's errors, she seemed to have a plan in place. With her experience, Nehwal had seen nearly every style of play. Now instead of relying solely on deceit, Nehwal upped the pace of the game and started moving around the court. Two smashes brought the score to 14-15 in part of a sequence which saw Nehwal win seven straight points. Sindhu drew level after a smash error from her opponent but Nehwal kept coming, cutting out any breathing space. Eventually, she took the game with a smash winner.
With the first game having gone as close as it had, Taufik Hidayat, Nehwal's Hyderabad teammate who was sitting in her corner, walked up to her at the changeover and appeared to offer her a word of advice. Nehwal nodded in agreement but it seemed as if she had already worked out the puzzle.
Movie Release This week:
1) Kick-Ass 2:
Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist return for the follow-up to 2010's irreverent global hit: Kick-Ass 2. After Kick-Ass' (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) insane bravery inspires a new wave of self-made masked crusaders, led by the badass Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), our hero joins them on patrol. When these amateur superheroes are hunted down by Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)—reborn as The Mother F%&*^r—only the blade-wielding Hit Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) can prevent their annihilation.
When we last saw junior assassin Hit Girl and young vigilante Kick-Ass, they were trying to live as normal teenagers Mindy and Dave. With graduation looming and uncertain what to do, Dave decides to start the world's first superhero team with Mindy. Unfortunately, when Mindy is busted for sneaking out as Hit Girl, she's forced to retire—leaving her to navigate the terrifying world of high-school mean girls on her own. With no one left to turn to, Dave joins forces with Justice Forever, run by a born-again ex-mobster named Colonel Stars and Stripes.
Just as they start to make a real difference on the streets, the world's first super villain, The Mother F%&*^r, assembles his own evil league and puts a plan in motion to make Kick-Ass and Hit Girl pay for what they did to his dad. But there's only one problem with his scheme: If you mess with one member of Justice Forever, you mess with them all.
In this high-stakes thriller, Adam Cassidy is a regular guy trying to get ahead in his entry-level job at Wyatt Corporation. But after one costly mistake, Adam's ruthless CEO, Nicholas Wyatt, forces him to spy on corporate rival, Jock Goddard, Wyatt's old mentor. Adam soon finds himself occupying the corner office and living the life of his dreams. However, behind the scenes, he is simply a pawn in Wyatt's corporate game and realizes he must ultimately find a way out from under his boss who will stop at nothing, even murder, to win a multi-billion dollar advantage.
3) Abandoned Mine:
Follows five small-town friends who decided to celebrate Halloween with an overnight adventure into the legendary “haunted” Jarvis Mine. Local legend says that a family was murdered in the mine exactly 100 years prior, and that angry spirits have occupied the mine ever since. The group becomes trapped, and their cameras catch the mysterious occurrences that follow.
4) Justice Is Mind:
|Justice Is Mind:|
In a future where MRI technology can read your mind, the trial of the century soon begins when a defendant faces his own memory for a double murder he doesn't remember committing.
5) Ain't Them Bodies Saints:
|Ain't Them Bodies Saints:|
The film tells the story of Bob Muldoon (Affleck) and Ruth Guthrie (Mara), two young outlaws who are brought down by the law in the hills of Texas.
The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance: By David Epstein:
|The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance|
In high school, I wondered whether the Jamaican Americans who made our track team so successful might carry some special speed gene from their tiny island. In college, I ran against Kenyans, and wondered whether endurance genes might have traveled with them from East Africa. At the same time, I began to notice that a training group on my team could consist of five men who run next to one another, stride for stride, day after day, and nonetheless turn out five entirely different runners. How could this be?
We all knew a star athlete in high school. The one who made it look so easy. He was the starting quarterback and shortstop; she was the all-state point guard and high-jumper. Naturals. Or were they?
The debate is as old as physical competition. Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports? Or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through sheer force of will and obsessive training?
The truth is far messier than a simple dichotomy between nature and nurture. In the decade since the sequencing of the human genome, researchers have slowly begun to uncover how the relationship between biological endowments and a competitor’s training environment affects athleticism. Sports scientists have gradually entered the era of modern genetic research.
In this controversial and engaging exploration of athletic success, Sports Illustrated senior writer David Epstein tackles the great nature vs. nurture debate and traces how far science has come in solving this great riddle. He investigates the so-called 10,000-hour rule to uncover whether rigorous and consistent practice from a young age is the only route to athletic excellence.
Along the way, Epstein dispels many of our perceptions about why top athletes excel. He shows why some skills that we assume are innate, like the bullet-fast reactions of a baseball or cricket batter, are not, and why other characteristics that we assume are entirely voluntary, like an athlete’s will to train, might in fact have important genetic components.
This subject necessarily involves digging deep into sensitive topics like race and gender. Epstein explores controversial questions such as:
1) Are black athletes genetically predetermined to dominate both sprinting and distance running, and are their abilities influenced by Africa’s geography?
2) Are there genetic reasons to separate male and female athletes in competition?
3) Should we test the genes of young children to determine if they are destined for stardom?
4) Can genetic testing determine who is at risk of injury, brain damage, or even death on the field?
5) Through on-the-ground reporting from below the equator and above the Arctic Circle, revealing conversations with leading scientists and Olympic champions, and interviews with athletes who have rare genetic mutations or physical traits, Epstein forces us to rethink the very nature of athleticism.
Writer : David Epstein:
|Writer : David Epstein|
In “The Sports Gene,” David Epstein considers athletic greatness and the nature-versus-nurture debate from a biological perspective, collecting an impressive array of scientific studies about athletic performance. The senior writer for Sports Illustrated also introduces a wide range of champions, from a gold-medal-winning Finnish cross-country skier with a rare, advantageous gene mutation to Iditarod-winning sled dogs bred for work ethic and desire. With experts and examples culled from around the world, the book makes a compelling, yet familiar, case that athletic achievement is a combination of nature and nurture, of innate abilities and practice time, of genes and sport-specific experience. By examining how far scientists have come in understanding the impact of genes on athletic performance and what remains undiscovered, Epstein adds another layer to the ongoing debate.