Science News This Week:
1) Egg and sperm race: Scientists create precursors to human egg and sperm:
Scientists at the University of Cambridge working with the Weizmann Institute have created primordial germ cells - cells that will go on to become egg and sperm - using human embryonic stem cells. Although this had already been done using rodent stem cells, the study, published today in the journal Cell, is the first time this has been achieved efficiently using human stem cells.
When an egg cell is fertilised by a sperm, it begins to divide into a cluster of cells known as a blastocyst, the early stage of the embryo. Within this ball of cells, some cells form the inner cell mass - which will develop into the foetus - and some form the outer wall, which becomes the placenta. Cells in the inner cell mass are 'reset' to become stem cells - cells that have the potential to develop into any type of cell within the body. A small number of these cells become primordial germ cells (PGCs) - these have the potential to become germ cells (sperm and egg), which in later life will pass on the offspring's genetic information to its own offspring.
"The creation of primordial germ cells is one of the earliest events during early mammalian development," says Dr Naoko Irie, first author of the paper from the Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge. "It's a stage we've managed to recreate using stem cells from mice and rats, but until now few researches have done this systematically using human stem cells. It has highlighted important differences between embryo development in humans and rodents that may mean findings in mice and rats may not be directly extrapolated to humans."Professor Surani at the Gurdon Institute, who led the research, and his colleagues found that a gene known as SOX17 is critical for directing human stem cells to become PGCs (a stage known as 'specification'). This was a surprise as the mouse equivalent of this gene is not involved in the process, suggesting a key difference between mouse and human development. SOX17 had previously been shown to be involved in directing stem cells to become endodermal cells, which then develop into cells including those for the lung, gut and pancreas, but this is the first time it has been seen in PGC specification.
The group showed that PGCs could also be made from reprogrammed adult cells, such as skin cells, which will allow investigations on patient-specific cells to advance knowledge of the human germline, infertility and germ cell tumours. The research also has potential implications for understanding the process of 'epigenetic' inheritance. Scientists have known for some time that our environment - for example, our diet or smoking habits - can affect our genes through a process known as methylation whereby molecules attach themselves to our DNA, acting like dimmer switches to increase or decrease the activity of genes. These methylation patterns can be passed down to the offspring.
Professor Surani and colleagues have shown that during the PGC specification stage, a programme is initiated to erase these methylation patterns, acting as a 'reset' switch. However, traces of these patterns might be inherited - it is not yet clear why this might occur."Germ cells are 'immortal' in the sense that they provide an enduring link between all generations, carrying genetic information from one generation to the next," adds Professor Surani. "The comprehensive erasure of epigenetic information ensures that most, if not all, epigenetic mutations are erased, which promotes 'rejuvenation' of the lineage and allows it to give rise to endless generations. These mechanisms are of wider interest towards understanding age-related diseases, which in part might be due to cumulative epigenetic mutations."
2) The ants that conquered the world:
out one tenth of the world's ants are close relatives; they all belong to just one genus out of 323, called Pheidole.
"If you go into any tropical forest and take a stroll, you will step on one of these ants," says Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University's Professor Evan Economo. Pheidole fill niches in ecosystems ranging from rainforests to deserts. Yet until now, researchers have never had a global perspective of how the many species of Pheidole evolved and spread across Earth. Economo, researchers in the Biodiversity and Biocomplexity Unit, and colleagues at the University of Michigan compared gene sequences from 300 species of Pheidole from around the world. They used these sequences to construct a tree that shows when and where each species evolved into new species. At the same time, in a parallel effort, they scoured the academic literature, museums around the world, and large databases to aggregate data on where all 1200 or so Pheidole species live on Earth, creating a range map for each species.
Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B, suggest that Pheidole evolved the same way twice, once to take over the New World, and then again to take over the Old World.Economo began this project by selecting sample ants to represent each Pheidole species. The team then sequenced the samples' DNA to determine genetic similarities between species, and computationally reconstruct the "family tree" of Pheidole species, providing a history of how they evolved. This may seem like a lot of effort for a group of seemingly inconsequential creatures, but in fact many ecologists use ants to better understand evolution and the terrestrial ecosystems ants inhabit. "Ants are a good test case," said Economo. Ants are abundant in most terrestrial ecosystems, often accounting for as much biomass as all vertebrates combined. They serve important roles such as soil aeration, nutrient cycling, and dispersing plant seeds. They also have economic consequences for humans; certain ant species become pests and cause billions of dollars of damage. In addition, their social behavior interests many researchers, so even if they are not as well studied as mammals or birds, there is a relatively large library of research compared to other arthropods. Because of their global ubiquity, Pheidole ants in particular offer ecologists a view into a wide range of ecosystems. Therefore, understanding Pheidole evolution impacts far more than just our understanding of ants.
Economo compared the Pheidole evolutionary tree with the range map showing where each Pheidole species lives. One might think that with hundreds of species living on almost every continent, there have been lots of movements and colonizations around the world. But if that were the case, Economo would find species that are close relatives living in different continents. Instead, Economo found that the genus was split into two main groups of evolutionary relatives: one in the New World, or the Americas, and one in the Old World, or Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia'
"The new world and the old world are almost completely independent of each other," Economo said. "Pheidole first evolved in the new world, from one species to over six hundred species." Then, one of those ants colonized the old world, where it evolved into another six hundred or so ant species.Pheidole species also show a climate pattern: there tend to be more Pheidole in warm, wet climates. "They are dominant in certain areas preferentially to others," Economo said, "and these patterns are consistent even though they evolved independently." This suggests that evolution repeated itself, and is to some extent deterministic. That is, there is likely a reason why Pheidole dominate tropical ecosystems: they didn't just become successful due to random chance. "One idea is that they have a key innovation, something that gives them an advantage over other species," said Economo. "That certainly could be true but we don't know what that advantage is at this point."Moving forward, Economo hopes to learn how so many Pheidole species can coexist by studying how they forage for food, nest, and otherwise thrive in their local environments. Knowing these habits would help understand whether Pheidole is the best at surviving, or whether its environment can simply support more ant species. "That's a big question for our field in general," Economo said, "not just in ants." But this paper constitutes a significant step forward toward understanding ant biodiversity. "This is an extremely difficult genus to work with because they are so diverse and hard to identify" Economo said, "so hopefully our work will help scientists get a better handle on these organisms that are dominant features of many of Earth's ecosystems."
3) Scientists zero in on how lung cancer spreads:
Scientists have taken microscopic images revealing that the protein ties tethering cells together are severed in lung cancer cells -- meaning they can break loose and spread, according to research published in Cell Reports December 24.
The researchers at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute discovered that the ties which lash cells together -- controlled by a protein called TIAM1 -- are chopped up when cell maintenance work goes wrong.Healthy cells routinely scrap old cell parts so they can be broken down and used again. But this process spirals out of control in lung cancer cells, which scrap too many TIAM1 ties**.
Targeting this recycling process could stop lung cancer from spreading by keeping the cells stuck firmly together.Lead researcher, Dr Angeliki Malliri, at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute at the University of Manchester, said: "This important research shows for the first time how lung cancer cells sever ties with their neighbours and start to spread around the body, by hijacking the cells' recycling process and sending it into overdrive. Targeting this flaw could help stop lung cancer from spreading."
There are almost 43,500 new cases of lung cancer in the UK each year. It is the most common cause of cancer deaths and kills more than 35,000 people in the UK each year.
Nell Barrie, Cancer Research UK's senior science information manager, said: "Lung cancer causes more than one in five of all cancer deaths in the UK and it's vital that we find effective new treatments to fight the disease and save more lives."Early-stage research like this is essential to find treatments which could one day block cancer spread -- which would be a game changer. It's also crucial that we find ways to diagnose the disease earlier, when treatment is more likely to be successful and the cancer is less likely to have spread."
4) Activating hair growth by modifying immune cells:
w to restore hair loss is a task not undertaken exclusively by beauty practitioners. The discovery, now published by a group from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), reveals a novel angle to spur hair follicle growth. This also adds new knowledge to a broader problem: how to regenerate tissues in an adult organism, especially the skin.The group has discovered an unexpected connection--a link between the body's defense system and skin regeneration. According to the authors of the study published today in PLOS Biology, cells from the immune system called macrophages-- those in charge of devouring invading pathogens, for example--are also responsible for activating skin stem cells and induce hair growth.
The regenerative ability of stem cells allows skin replenishment during a lifetime. But different factors can reduce their regenerative properties or promote their uncontrolled growth. When things go wrong, this can lead to aging and disease, including skin carcinomas. The discovery that macrophages activate skin stem cells may also have further implications beyond the possibility to develop therapeutic approaches for hair loss, but may also be relevant for cancer research.The authors of the study are Mirna Perez-Moreno and Donatello Castellana, from the Epithelial Cell Biology Group of the BBVA Foundation-CNIO Cancer Cell Biology Programme, along with Ralf Paus, a hair immunobiology expert from the University of Manchester and Münster.
"We have discovered that macrophages, cells whose main function is traditionally attributed to fight infections and wound repair, are also involved in the activation of hair follicle stem cells in non inflamed skin," says Perez-Moreno.The researchers did not investigate the relationship between macrophages and hair for fun. This work emerged more than four years ago from an observation made by Perez-Moreno while working on another research project. The mice she had been working with at that time received anti-inflammatory drugs, a treatment that also reactivated hair growth. Convinced that the explanation could reside in the existence of close communication between stem cells and immune cells --the Perez-Moreno's lab began to experiment with the different types of cells involved in the body´s defense system.After years of investigation, they discovered that when stem cells are dormant, a fraction of macrophages die, due to a process known as apoptosis. This stimulated the secretion of factors from dying and living macrophages, which in turn activated stem cells, and that is when hairs began to grow again.
Reproducing natural process
Macrophages secrete a number of factors including a class of proteins called Wnt.Researchers demonstrated the participation of macrophage-derived Wnts by artificially reproducing the natural process by treating macrophages with a Wnt inhibitor drug encapsulated in liposomes. As expected, when they used this drug, the activation of hair growth was delayed.Although this study has been completed in mice, the researchers believe their discovery "may facilitate the development of novel treatment strategies" for hair growth in humans.
The possibility of attacking one type of cell to affect another might have broader applications that go beyond "just" growing hair. Furthermore, the use of liposomes as a way of drug delivery to specific cells, is a very promising line of experimentation, which may have implications for the study of several pathologies, says Donatello Castellana.
From a more fundamental perspective, this research is an effort to understand how modifying the environment that surrounds adult skin stem cells can regulate their regenerative capabilities. "One of the current challenges in the stem cell field is to regulate the activation of endogenous stem cell pools in adult tissues to promote regeneration without the need of transplantation," says Perez-Moreno.
It is now known that macrophages are key cells involved in the biochemical dialogue that exists in the environment surrounding stem cells."Our study underlines the importance of macrophages as modulators in skin regenerative processes, going beyond their primary function as phagocytes [immune system cells]," say the authors in PLoS Biology.The researcher´s next goal is to characterise the class of macrophage(s) that are involved in the activation of skin stem cells and their implications in the regulation of stem cells under pathological conditions, including skin carcinomas.As Perez-Moreno explains, "macrophages are a very diverse cell population. It was only less that ten years ago that scientists discovered that besides from the bone marrow, macrophages originate from the yolk sac during pregnancy, and there are even other macrophages that proliferate within tissues. The diversity of the sources from which skin resident macrophages originate is not fully understood."
5) How 'microbial dark matter' might cause disease:
One of the great recent discoveries in modern biology was that the human body contains 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. But much of that bacteria is still a puzzle to scientists.It is estimated by scientists that roughly half of bacteria living in human bodies is difficult to replicate for scientific research -- which is why biologists call it "microbial dark matter." Scientists, however, have long been determined to learn more about these uncultivable bacteria, because they may contribute to the development of certain debilitating and chronic diseases.For decades, one bacteria group that has posed a particular challenge for researchers is the Candidate Phylum TM7, which has been thought to cause inflammatory mucosal diseases because it is so prevalent in people with periodontitis, an infection of the gums.
Now, a landmark discovery by scientists at the UCLA School of Dentistry, the J. Craig Venter Institute and the University of Washington School of Dentistry has revealed insights into TM7's resistance to scientific study and to its role in the progression of periodontitis and other diseases. Their findings shed new light on the biological, ecological and medical importance of TM7, and could lead to better understanding of other elusive bacteria.The team's findings are published online in the December issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."I consider this the most exciting discovery in my 30-year career," said Dr. Wenyuan Shi, a UCLA professor of oral biology. "This study provides the roadmap for us to make every uncultivable bacterium cultivable."
The researchers cultivated a specific type of TM7 called TM7x, a version of TM7 found in people's mouths, and found the first known proof of a signaling interaction between the bacterium and an infectious agent called Actinomyces odontolyticus, or XH001, which causes mucosal inflammation."Once the team grew and sequenced TM7x, we could finally piece together how it makes a living in the human body," said Dr. Jeff McLean, acting associate professor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry. "This may be the first example of a parasitic long-term attachment between two different bacteria -- where one species lives on the surface of another species gaining essential nutrients and then decides to thank its host by attacking it."To prove that TM7x needs XH001 to grow and survive, the team attempted to mix isolated TM7x cells with other strains of bacteria. Only XH001 was able to establish a physical association with TM7x, which led researchers to believe that TM7x and XH001 might have evolved together during their establishment in the mouth.What makes TM7x even more intriguing are its potential roles in chronic inflammation of the digestive tract, vaginal diseases and periodontitis. The co-cultures collected in this study allowed researchers to examine, for the first time ever, the degree to which TM7x helps cause these conditions.
"Uncultivable bacteria presents a fascinating 'final frontier' for dental microbiologists and are a high priority for the NIDCR research portfolio," said Dr. R. Dwayne Lunsford, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research's microbiology program. "This study provides a near-perfect case of how co-cultivation strategies and a thorough appreciation for interspecies signaling can facilitate the recovery of these elusive organisms. Although culture-independent studies can give us a snapshot of microbial diversity at a particular site, in order to truly understand physiology and virulence of an isolate, we must ultimately be able to grow and manipulate these bacteria in the lab."It was previously known that XH001 induces inflammation. But by infecting bone marrow cells with XH001 alone and then with the TM7x/XH001 co-culture, the researchers also found that inflammation was greatly reduced when TM7x was physically attached to XH001. This is the only known study that has provided evidence of this relationship between TM7 and XH001.
Movie Release This Week:
Into the Woods is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales in a musical format that follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel-all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them.
An attractive talk show host and his producer unwittingly get caught up in an international assassination plot.
From director Clint Eastwood comes “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history. But there was much more to him than his skill as a sharpshooter. U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is sent to Iraq with only one mission: to protect his brothers-in- arms. His pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and, as stories of his courageous exploits spread, he earns the nickname “Legend.” However, his reputation is also growing behind enemy lines, putting a price on his head and making him a prime target of insurgents. He is also facing a different kind of battle on the home front: striving to be a good husband and father from halfway around the world. Despite the danger, as well as the toll on his family at home, Chris serves through four harrowing tours of duty in Iraq, personifying the spirit of the SEAL creed to “leave no one behind.” But upon returning to his wife, Taya (Sienna Miller), and kids, Chris finds that it is the war he can’t leave behind.
The aristocratic sisters Charlotte and Caroline both fall in love with the controversial young writer and hothead Friedrich Schiller. Defying the conventions of their time, the sisters decide to share their love with Schiller. What begins playfully, almost as a game among the three of them, soon turns serious as it leads to the end of a pact.
Jim Bennett (Academy Award®-nominee Mark Wahlberg) is a risk taker. Both an English professor and a high-stakes gambler, Bennett bets it all when he borrows from a gangster (Michael Kenneth Williams) and offers his own life as collateral. Always one step ahead, Bennett pits his creditor against the operator of a gambling ring (Alvin Ing) and leaves his dysfunctional relationship with his wealthy mother (Academy Award®-winner Jessica Lange) in his wake. He plays both sides, immersing himself in an illicit, underground world while garnering the attention of Frank (John Goodman), a loan shark with a paternal interest in Bennett’s future. As his relationship with a student (Brie Larson) deepens, Bennett must take the ultimate risk for a second chance…
Political News This Week:
The National Conference has offered unconditional support to the Peoples Democratic Party for formation of a coalition government in the state which has so far stumped all major political parties following a fractured mandate in the recently held state assembly polls.“We have conveyed our support to the PDP verbally,” NC spokesman Junaid Mattu told .It was the party’s working president, Omar Abdullah who first made the offer of support to the PDP in the formation of a government in the state.
Responding to Omar’s offer, the PDP had sought a written assurance from the NC on Thursday. The Congress party has already offered its support to the PDP to form a secular coalition government in the state.However, put together the combined strength of PDP and Congress is just 40 falling short of the magic figure of 44 in the 87 member state assemblyWith NC having 15 MLA’S and claiming to have support of two independent members, the combined strength of the two parties makes it 45 and that is more the minimum number required to form the government.In case the valley centric PDP and NC forge an alliance in the formation of a government it will keep the Bharatiya Janata Party which won all its 25 seats from Jammu out of power and it will have to sit in the opposition.The two parties have, however, been at logger heads for a long time and have put up candidates against each other in the state.Senior PDP leaders are also in touch with the BJP leadership in pursuit of cobbling a coalition of the two parties.
Despite these ongoing multilateral negotiations there has been no breakthrough for formation of a government even after three days of the poll results which threw up a hung house.The BJP which emerged as the second largest party with 25 seats is, however, emerging as the most important factor in the formation of a new government in the state.The BJP has, however, left it to the party president Amit Shah to take the final call on the issue.In case the parties do not cobble up a coalition viable for government formation, the state may be headed for a spell of governor’s rule and that scenario cannot be totally ruled out.In a statement this evening, the NC said that 'its offer of support to PDP stands intact as has been expressed by the party working president, Omar Abdullah."Our offer has been conveyed first by the party working president through the public domain, followed by a statement offering such a support and the support offer has also been conveyed verbally directly to PDP through a trusted intermediary formally. It is on record. It is a serious offer and stands as it is. Now it is for PDP to approach NC for our support if they choose to seek it. The ball lies in their court, not ours", Junaid Mattu said in a statement issued from Srinagar.
2) Swine flu claims first life in Delhi this season:
The National Capital Region on Friday reported the first death due to swine flu this year with a 51-year-old woman from Ghaziabad succumbing to the HINI virus at a private hospital here in Delhi.
According to the Directorate of Health Services, six cases of swine flu have been reported in the national capital and its neighbouring region till now this month.
"This is the first death due to Swine flu this year. A total 32 positive cases of swine flu have been reported in Delhi and NCR since January 1 till date.
"However, this death will be regarded as a death of swine flu outside Delhi as the patient is from Ghaziabad and was detected with the virus there itself. So going by the records, there has been no death in the national capital so far this year," said Dr Dalveer Singh, state epidemiologist, also holding the additional charge of public health in the absence of Additional Director Dr Charan Singh.The deceased identified as Sheel Goel, a resident of East Model Town in Ghaziabad was admitted to the ICU of Ganga Ram Hospital in a serious condition on December 21.
"At the time of admission, the patient was in a critical state. She had lung failure and was on high frequency ventilator support. Her diagnosis at Ghaziabad and Sir Ganga Ram Hospital confirmed it to be a case of swine flu," Hospital Spokesperson Ajoy Sehgal said.
"In spite of the best efforts of doctors, the patient expired on the morning of December 24," he said. The woman was earlier treated at Yashoda Hospital in Ghaziabad and then shifted to Columbia Asia Hospital in Gurgaon before she was shifted to Ganga Ram hospital. According to records maintained by DHS, one case of swine flu was recorded in Jan and seven in Feb in Delhi.
3) Death toll rises to 81, operations launched against Bodo militants:
Operations were on Friday intensified against NDFB-S militants along the border with Arunachal Pradesh even as the death toll in the massacre rose to 81.
Normal life was, meanwhile, disrupted by a bandh called by several organisations in Assam.
Two persons, one each in Sonitpur and Chirang, injured in Tuesday's attack by NDFB-S militants succumbed to their injuries last night, while a charred body was recovered from Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district Friday morning, a police spokespersons said on Friday.A day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh made it clear that there will be no talks with terrorists and "zero-tolerance policy towards acts of terror", operations by security forces have been intensified along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur district, which bore the brunt of NDFB's attack.A defence spokesperson said troops along with the police and paramilitary forces had intensified counter-insurgency operations along the border with the neighbouring state to flush out militants and smash their hideouts.Aerial surveillance of the area was also carried out by Army Aviation Helicopter sorties, he said.
Army was also extending full support to the civil administration to instill confidence among the affected people and restore peace.Meanwhile, a 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Adivasi Students' Association, Assam Tea Tribes Students Association and Asom Yuva Parishad disrupted normal life across the state.The bandh was total in the affected districts of Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa along with tea garden dominated districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Upper Assam.
Hundreds of vehicles remained stranded as a large number of adivasis on Friday blocked roads in different areas of the district in protest against the massacre of adivasis by suspected NDFB-S militants in Assam.
The agitators under the banner of 'Adivasi Sengel Abhiyan' blocked the Malda-Balurghat road near 20 Mile and also Gajol-Bamungola road near Badnagra from 9 am.
"The blockades have been continuing despite repeated appeals by the district administration to lift them as hundreds of vehicles remain stranded," Gajol Block Development Officer Sauvik Mukherjee said.The agitators are also demanding compensation to families of the victims and safety for others, Mukherjee said.The organisation had blocked trains in Malda town for nearly 6 hours on Thursday.
4) Assam violence toll rises to 78 as Adivasis seek revenge:
The toll rose to 78 on Thursday in attacks by NDFB-S and retaliatory violence in lower Assam with Adivasis setting afire houses of Bodos as the backlash to Tuesday massacre continued for the second day.
In worst-affected Sonitpur district six more bodies were recovered this morning from Maitalu Basti under Zinzia police station bordering Arunachal Pradesh taking the toll in attacks by NDFB(S) to 43 in the district and overall toll to 71, a police spokesman told PTI.
Three adivasis were killed in police firing during protests against the carnage on Wednesday.
In Kokrajhar, the other severely affected district, retaliatory violence by adivasis claimed the lives of four Bodos at Manikpur and Dimapur areas.
25 people were killed by militants in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang district.
Fresh incidents of violence have been reported this morning from Gossaigaon area in Kokrajhar where several houses of Bodos have been set ablaze by adivasis despite the indefinite curfew clamped in the entire district, he said.
Curfew has been also imposed in the affected areas of Sonitpur and Chirang districts along with parts of Dhubri and Baksa districts as precautionary measure, he added.
Union Minister of Home Rajnath Singh accompanied by his deputy Kiren Rijiju today visited Bishwanath Chariali in Sonitpur district to review the prevailing situation and also held talks with different political and social organisations.They had reached Guwahati on Wednesday night and held meeting with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.
5) Meet our 45 Bharat Ratnas:
Educationist Madan Mohan Malviya and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee are the 44th and 45th distinguished personalities who have been conferred with the country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna.
1) C Rajagopalachari 1954
2) Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan 1954
3) C V Raman 1954
4) Bhagwan Das 1955
5) Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya 1955
6) Jawaharlal Nehru 1955
7) Govind Ballabh Pant 1957
8) Dhondo Keshav Karve 1958
9) Bidhan Chandra Roy 1961
10) Purushottam Das Tandon 1961
11) Rajendra Prasad 1962
12) Zakir Hussain 1963
13) Pandurang Vaman Kane 1963
14) Lal Bahadur Shastri 1966
15) Indira Gandhi 1971
16) V V Giri 1975
17) K Kamaraj 1976
18) Mother Teresa 1980
19) Acharya Vinoba Bhave 1983
20) Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan 1987
21) M G Ramachandra 1988
22) B R Ambedkar 1990
23) Nelson Mandela 1990
24) Rajiv Gandhi 1991
25) Vallabhbhai Patel 1991
26) Morarji Desai 1991
27) Maulana Abul Kalam Azad 1992
28) J R D Tata 1992
29) Satyajit Ray 1992
30) Gulzarilal Nanda 1997
31) Aruna Asaf Ali 1997
32) A P J Abdul Kalam 1997
33) M S Subbulakshmi 1998
34) Chidambaram Subramaniam 1998
35) Jayaprakash Narayan 1999
36) Amartya Sen 1999
37) Gopinath Bordoloi 1999
38) Pandit Ravi Shankar 1999
39) Lata Mangeshkar 2001
40) Ustad Bismillah Khan 2001
41) Bhimsen Joshi 2009
42) C N R Rao 2014
43) Sachin Tendulkar 2014
Sports News This Week:
1) Rahane, Kohli score centuries as India dig in:
Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli struck rousing centuries to drive India to 336-3 at tea and frustrate Australia's bowlers for an entire session on day three of the third test in Melbourne on Sunday.The pair resumed on 224-3 and their unbroken 189-run partnership ensured India would avoid the follow-on while boosting their hopes of reeling in Australia's massive first innings total of 530.Rahane was on 111 at the break, with Kohli on 104, and India only 194 runs behind with seven wickets in hand.
Australia's pacemen took two early wickets in the morning to heap pressure on India's batsmen, but squandered two chances in the middle session to break Kohli and Rahane's partnership.Having been smacked around the ground by both batsmen, Nathan Lyon somehow contrived to spill the simplest of catches when Rahane, on 70, poked a shot straight back at the spinner before the drinks break.Paceman Mitchell Johnson was left frustrated a few overs after drinks when Kohli edged a sharp chance that Shane Watson spilled at first slip and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin might better have attempted.Rahane sent a top edge high into the sky when trying to hook Johnson in the bowler's next over but the ball fell just short of a lunging Haddin.After settling down, Rahane moved to 99 and brought up his third century in his 13th test with a streaky flash over gully for four off the bowling of Watson.Kohli raised his third century of an outstanding series with a majestic off-drive to the fence off Lyon shortly before tea and blew a kiss off his bat at the India dressing room.
The flat wicket offered little for the bowlers but Cheteshwar Pujara found a way to get out on the second ball of the day, flashing at a Ryan Harris delivery to be out for 25.Haddin notched his 250th dismissal with a brilliant, diving catch to remove Pujara, having committed a terrible drop to reprieve him on 12 late on day two.Kohli joined opening batsman Murali Vijay in the middle and the pair resisted for an hour before all-rounder Watson broke their 39-run stand, luring Vijay into a poorly chosen cut shot that sent a nick flying to Shaun Marsh at first slip.Australia lead the four-match series 2-0 after wins in Adelaide and Brisbane and can seal it in Melbourne with a draw.
2) Arsenal survive Olivier Giroud twist against QPR:
Alexis Sanchez scored one goal and set up another to make up for a moment of madness from teammate Olivier Giroud and help Arsenal beat Queens Park Rangers 2-1 in the Premier League on Friday. Sanchez had a penalty saved in the ninth minute at the Emirates Stadium but responded by heading Arsenal ahead in the 37th from Kieran Gibbs’ cross.
France striker Giroud received a straight red card in the 53rd for head-butting QPR defender Nedum Onuoha directly in front of the referee, jeopardizing Arsenal’s chances of three points in a game the hosts had controlled.Yet Arsenal doubled the lead in the 65th when Sanchez went on a winding run before laying the ball off for Tomas Rosicky to side-foot home from inside the area. Charlie Austin smashed a penalty down the middle of the goal in the 79th to set up a frantic finish, but Arsenal held on and consigned QPR to a ninth straight away loss, equalling the Premier League record held by Bolton from the 1995-96 season.
Arsene Wenger’s 400th league win as Arsenal manager was more hard-earned than it should have been, and it was all down to Giroud’s recklessness.
The striker was bundled over by Onuoha on the edge of the area as they chased a long ball.Giroud scrambled to his feet to confront Onuoha, pushing his forehead into the defender’s face. Onuoha fell to the ground and referee Martin Atkinson, who was right on the spot, brandished a red card.“It was a deserved red card, Olivier didn’t control himself,” said Wenger, who stared at Giroud as he left the field. “It completely changed the dynamic of the game, we were completely in control at that stage and it was quite comfortable. Olivier is a guy who, when he makes mistakes, he stands up and admits it.”
Giroud will miss the next three games, and in the short term left Arsenal to play with 10 men for about 40 minutes at the start of a busy schedule of matches over the festive period.Rosicky’s goal gave the home side crucial breathing space but QPR came close to an equalizer on a number of occasions, with Mathieu Flamini clearing the ball from near Arsenal’s line and QPR striker Bobby Zamora denied a penalty.Sanchez, one of three Chileans on show with QPR’s Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas, again stood out and he earned the penalty after being tripped by Armand Traore. Sanchez held onto the ball, Santi Cazorla, who scored from the spot against Newcastle this month, gave way, but his spot kick was weak and goalkeeper Robert Green got down to his left to make the save.
3) LeBron James’ return to Miami ends in defeat:
The Miami Heat got the better of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 101-91 victory in the Christmas Day return of the two-time NBA champion to his former team. James, who was given a warm welcome by Miami fans, scored 30 points on nine of 16 shooting, with eight assists and four turnovers.The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player returned to Cleveland in July, reuniting with the team where he made his name before moving to Miami in 2010.
Miami, without the injured Chris Bosh, started and finished the game well, with Dwyane Wade scoring 31 points, 24 of them in the first half, and Luol Deng putting up 25. There were a few boos mixed in with cheers and applause when James’s name was announced before the opening tip-off but the true sentiment of the crowd was evident after a first quarter time-out when the Heat showed a highlight reel of his achievements during his four years in Miami. The crowd stood to applaud and James acknowledged the appreciation by waving to all four sides of the court.“It was cool, a lot of emotions come back,” said the 29-year-old. “I spent four years here with those guys. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to do the best we could.”At the end of the game, James embraced his former teammates and had a lengthy conversation with Wade, who he had spent Christmas Eve with. The duel between the two stars had been highly anticipated and James said it brought back memories of the clashes they had before becoming teammates. “It brought back old times and the battles we had. Once we put up 30 against each other, it was like old times,” he said.James also questioned why players were criticised more for switching teams than teams are for trading players away.
4) Hectic schedule taking its toll on weary Sardar Singh:
At the onset of 2014, Terry Walsh had laid out his priorities pretty clearly: An Asian Games gold and ensure the players aren’t over-worked. It was that kind of a year. With five major tournaments scheduled all within two months off each other, shuffling the squad was imperative.Add the Hockey India League (HIL) and the test series into the mix and it further cramped the schedule. “We need to be as fresh when we play the last match of the Champions Trophy as we were while playing the first match of the season,” Walsh had said. The Australian wasn’t around by the time Champions Trophy came. He had already parted ways. But he would’ve been seething had he been around.
A ConstantBy the time India took the field against Australia for the bronze medal playoff in Bhubaneswar two weeks ago, they looked mentally and physically drained. India have been playing with more or less an identical group of players throughout the year, so the tiredness was understandable. And in that weary display, one man stood out: Sardar Singh. He always does. Unlike other occasions, however, this time it was for all the wrong reasons.The national team’s composition has changed drastically post London Games. Sardar, though, has remained a constant. He was the pivot of the team before the 2012 Olympics and continues to remain so. Crucially, the 28-year-old has been playing non-stop since the 2010 World Cup, where his prowess came to the fore.In the subsequent four years, he hasn’t been rested for a single match, a single tournament. And though there is no official figure, he has spent most number of minutes on the turf compared to other Indian outfield players. When the team had a two-month break at the end of last year — their longest in some time — Sardar chose to play club hockey in Holland rather than spending time at home.
Former national team captain and selector Balbir Singh says relentless schedule has taken a toll on his game. “We all say that Sardar does not have the same impact on the field as he used to have a year or two ago. But it’s more to do with fatigue than form. Give him proper rest for one month and you’ll see his old self again,” Balbir says. “Right now, he does not look 100 per cent fit. Consequently, a lot of errors are creeping into his game.”Performance of no player is scrutinised so intensely in the current Indian hockey team than Sardar. Every yard he runs, every lunge he makes, every tackle he attempts and every pass he delivers is analysed. Unwittingly, he provided a lot of fodder during the Champions Trophy. Those beautiful long balls he fed the forwards
5) Tennis: The last days of a beautiful game:
Back in the day, the mid-1980s to early 1990s to be specific, being a Stefan Edberg fan was exhausting and expensive. You were mostly in a minority, fighting long, lonely battles trying to explain the pristine “Edberg grace” to the loudmouths who supported John McEnroe and Boris Becker — they were also hard of hearing. You knew it was futile but you still tried, like you did when you wanted to be “Edberg” on a tennis court. As teenagers, you are entitled to unrealistic dreams.Trying to pull off the Swede’s heavy top-spin serve, that too with an inwardly locked wrist, would result in the ball hitting the racket frame and the mis-hit leaping over the tall wall beyond baseline. You helplessly watched money being blown away. The precious wooden racket would crack while you foolishly rushed to the net like the fleet-footed champion to counter a speeding, dipping return with a valiant volley. Fresh tight strings would snap after a sloppy attempt to hit that one shot which defined Edberg — the single-handed backhand. Being Edberg really hurt your pocket; make that your father’s pocket.
For us amateurs, those volleys and the backhand, so easy on the eyes when the master played it, were ridiculously difficult to pull off. Settling for an easier alternative was not an option. No first-round exit at a club tournament or any other humiliation on court would lead to thoughts of giving up. You either played like him or you didn’t. With time, the obsession turned into a habit. For years now, I regularly YouTube the Edberg backhand. Back then it was to learn, these days to merely savour.Then, at the start of this year, out of the blue, Edberg returned to the sports pages and the Grand Slams. His latest assignment was to resurrect the career of his one-time fan and now the most successful tennis player of all times, Roger Federer. They were two of a kind, very similar in temperament, and they both had virtually the same backhand. With the best-ever volleyer as his coach, Federer started approaching the net more often and thus shortening the rallies. He looked charmingly vintage and his ageing limbs less tired.
As the tennis season ended last week, the Swiss with the Swede by his side would be a step away from the No.1 ranking. By finishing the year strongly, the 33-year-old, written off last year, has stayed relevant, and so has his brand of tennis. The delightfully elegant one-handed backhand might be on the verge of extinction, but two of its best exponents has extended its lifespan.For the uninitiated, or the less-obsessed, here’s a short foreword about the much-hyped Edberg backhand. It starts with a big back swing that peaks well above the head. For a brief moment, just as the racket moves down, the non-playing hand lovingly feels the racket’s neck. It’s nothing more than a quick, limp handshake, a gentle reminder to start the lazy sweep. By then the ball is within striking distance. The knees bend and the racket, held by one hand now, first flows down with the smoothness and energy of a waterfall, and after hitting the ball, climbs up in the follow-through like a rising wave. The racket swoosh can be easily imitated but not that final flick of the wrist that decides the direction and trajectory of the ball. That subtle change of position of fingers and palm can’t be captured on cameras, or seen by fans and is thus immunised to any imitation. You need to be on court to understand it, and spend years to master it. It’s something Edberg and a few of his successors, and my other favourites, seemed to be born with.
Book Of This Week:
How to be both :by Ali Smith
How to be both is a novel all about art's versatility. Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life's givens get given a second chance.
in The United Kingdom August 24, 1962
gender : female
genre : Literature & Fiction
Ali Smith is a writer, born in 1962 in Inverness, Scotland, to working-class parents. She was raised in a council house in Inverness and now lives in Cambridge. She studied at Aberdeen, and then at Cambridge, for a Ph.D. that was never finished. In a 2004 interview with writing magazine Mslexia, she talked briefly about the difficulty of becoming ill with chronic fatigue syndrome for a year and how it forced her to give up her job as a lecturer at University of Strathclyde to focus on what she really wanted to do: writing. Openly gay, she has been with her partner Sarah Wood for 17 years and dedicates all her books to her.