Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There is a natural body mechanism which conserves energy in response to a reduction in calories. Food is not always plentiful for humans & animals !!!

Dieting is ineffective without exercise, research suggests

Dieters won’t lose significant amounts of weight simply by regulating what they eat, research suggests

Reducing caloric intake is ineffective unless accompanied by an increase in exercise, according to researchers.

This appears to be due to a natural compensatory mechanism that prompts the body to cut back its physical activities in response to a reduction in calories.

"In the midst of America’s obesity epidemic, physicians frequently advise their patients to reduce the number of calories they are consuming on a daily basis. This research shows that simply dieting will not likely cause substantial weight loss. Instead, diet and exercise must be combined to achieve this goal," said Judy Cameron, a senior scientist at Oregon Health & Science University’s national primate research center, and a professor of behavioral neuroscience and obstetrics & gynecology in the OHSU School of Medicine.

To conduct the research, Cameron studied 18 female rhesus macaque monkeys at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. The monkeys were placed on a high-fat diet for several years. They were then returned to a lower-fat diet (standard monkey food) with a 30 percent reduction in calories. For a one-month period, the monkeys’ weight and activity levels were closely tracked. Activity was tracked through the use of an activity monitor worn on a collar.

"Surprisingly, there was no significant weight loss at the end of the month," explained Sullivan.

"However, there was a significant change in the activity levels for these monkeys. Naturally occurring levels of physical activity for the animals began to diminish soon after the reduced-calorie diet began. When caloric intake was further reduced in a second month, physical activity in the monkeys diminished even further."

A comparison group of three monkeys was fed a normal monkey diet and was trained to exercise for one hour daily on a treadmill. This comparison group did lose weight.

"This study demonstrates that there is a natural body mechanism which conserves energy in response to a reduction in calories. Food is not always plentiful for humans and animals and the body seems to have developed a strategy for responding to these fluctuations," added Cameron. "These findings will assist medical professionals in advising their patients. It may also impact the development of
community interventions to battle the childhood obesity epidemic and lead to programs that emphasize both diet and exercise."

The research is published in the April edition of the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

© The Telegraph
Group London 2010


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Ash spreads, travel chaos gets worse....!
Volcanic cloud expands across Europe,......
disrupting more flights on both sides of Atlantic:

An airline worker secures protective plastic wrap over an engine of a grounded plane at Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland Friday.

A common sight around all Europian airports.
Pic: Peter Muhly, Getty Images, Reuters

The huge ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano continued to spread out across Europe on Friday causing yet more air travel chaos and costing airlines hundreds of millions of dollars.

The plume floating through the upper atmosphere, where it could damage jet engines and airframes, threw travel plans into disarray on both sides of the Atlantic.

Severe disruption of European air traffic was expected to continue well into today, with aviation authorities in France and Britain moving their target for reopening airspace from this morning to this afternoon at the earliest. Meanwhile, the slowly drifting cloud pushed into other countries, with Switzerland, Hungary and Romania announcing closure or partial closure of their airspace overnight.

However, authorities expected some flights from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where the ash cloud was clearing, would begin operating this morning.

“The winds have become, at upper levels, more westerly and that is steering [the ash] more into Scandinavia, taking it away from Scotland and Northern Ireland,” said Mark Seltzer, a forecaster at Britain’s Met Office.

“I am furious and frustrated,” said Sara Bicoccih, stranded at Frankfurt airport on her way home to Italy from Miami.

“In terms of closure of airspace, this is worse than after 9/11. “a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, Britain’s aviation regulator, said. “The disruption is probably larger than anything we’ve probably seen.”

U.S. airspace was closed for three days after the terrorist attacks and airlines were forced to halt all transatlantic services.

Disruption from the volcanic ash eruption in Iceland is costing airlines more than $200 million a day, air industry group the International Air Transport Association said.

But unless the cloud disrupts flights for weeks, threatening factories’ supply chains, economists do not think it will significantly slow Europe’s shaky recovery from recession or affect second-quarter gross domestic product figures, said IHS Global Insight chief UK and European economist Howard Archer said.

Volcanologists say the ash could cause problems to air traffic for up to six months if the eruption continues.David Castelveter, a spokesman with the Air Transport Association of America trade group, said U.S. airlines had cancelled at least 170 flights to and from Europe Friday. Delta alone has already cancelled 35 flights to Europe scheduled for today, spokesman Anthony Black said.

Joe Sultana, head of network operations at European air control agency Eurocontrol, said the situation was unprecedented.

Eurocontrol said it was up to each country when flights were resumed, based on whether there was clear air, which depended on wind direction.

The volcano began erupting on Wednesday, hurling a plume of ash six to 11 kilometres into the atmosphere.

Officials said it was still spewing magma and although the eruption could abate in the coming days, ash would continue drifting into the skies of Europe.

European aviation control officials said some 12,000 to 13,000 flights were likely to operate in European airspace on Friday — mostly in the south - compared with about 29,500 normally.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, returning from a trip to the United States, diverted to Portugal and was expected to spend the night in Lisbon.

The air problems have proved a boon for other transport firms. All 58 Eurostar trains between Britain and Europe were operating full, carrying some 46,500 passengers, and a spokeswoman said they would consider adding more services.

- Courtesy: The Vancouver Sun

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions dating back to 1st century BCE to third century CE offer the fundamental evidence that Tamil is a classical language..!!!

april 15, 2010
Deciphering the Indus script: challenges and some headway

The Hindu Tablets depicting Indus Valley scripts. File photo: M. Karunakaran Related

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Dr. Asko Parpola, the Indologist from Finland, is Professor Emeritus of Indology, Institute of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, and one of the leading authorities on the Indus Civilisation and its script. On the basis of sustained work on the Indus script, he has concluded that the script — which is yet to be deciphered — encodes a Dravidian language. As a Sanskritist, his fields of specialisation include the Sama Veda and Vedic rituals. Excerpts from replies that Professor Parpola gave over e-mail to a set of questions sent to him by T.S. Subramanian in the context of his being chosen for the Kalaignar M. Karunanidhi Classical Tamil Award, 2009. The award, comprising Rs. 10 lakh and a citation, will be presented during the World Classical Tamil Conference to be held in Coimbatore from June 23 to 27, 2010. The award announcement said Professor Parpola was chosen for his work on the Dravidian hypothesis in interpreting the Indus script because the Dravidian, as described by him, was close to old Tamil. The award, administered by the Central Institute of Classical Tamil, Chennai, was instituted out of a donation of Rs. 1 crore made by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi:

You are a Vedic scholar. What brought you to the field of the Indus script?

As a university student of Sanskrit and ancient Greek in the early 1960s, I read John Chadwick's fascinating book on how the Mycenaean ‘Linear B' script of Bronze Age Greece was deciphered [The Decipherment of Linear B, Cambridge University Press, 1958]. Michael Ventris succeeded in doing this without the aid of any bilingual texts, which in most cases have opened up forgotten scripts. Then my childhood friend Seppo Koskenniemi, who worked for IBM, offered his help if I wanted to use the computer for some task in my field. As statistics and various indexes have been important in successful decipherments, we took up this challenging problem of Indian antiquity.

There is some criticism that the Indus script is not a writing system.

I do not agree [with that]. All those features of the Indus script which have been mentioned as proof for its not being a writing system, characterise also the Egyptian hieroglyphic script during its first 600 years of existence. For detailed counterarguments, see my papers at the website

If it is a writing system, what reasons do you adduce for it?

The script is highly standardised; the signs are as a rule written in regular lines; there are hundreds of sign sequences which recur in the same order, often at many different sites; the preserved texts are mostly seal stones, and seals in other cultures usually have writing recording the name or title of the seal owner; and the Indus people were acquainted with cuneiform writing through their trade contacts with Mesopotamia.

Indus signs are generally available on seals and tablets. It was presumed that the seals and tablets had short Indus texts because they were meant for trade and commerce. However, a 3-metre long inscription on wood inlaid with stone crystals was found at Dholavira in Gujarat. It was also presumed that Indus inscriptions would not be available in stone. Again, in Dholavira, a large slab with three big Indus signs was found recently. The Archaeological Survey of India's website says the Dholavira site “enjoys the unique distinction of yielding an inscription made up of ten large-sized signs of the Indus script and, not less in importance, is the other find of a large slab engraved with three large signs.” What, in your assessment, is the significance of Indus signs engraved on a large stone slab?

These finds show that the Indus script was used in monumental inscriptions too. It is natural to expect writing to be used in such contexts as well.

What are the impediments to deciphering the Indus script? Is the short nature of the texts a big impediment? If we get a text with about 70 signs, will we able to decipher the script?

The main impediment is the absence of such a key as the Rosetta stone, which contained the same text in different scripts and languages. Nor is there any closely similar known script of the same origin which could give clues to the sound values of the Indus signs. And not only is the script unknown, there is much controversy also about its type (alphabetic, syllabic, logo-syllabic) and about the language underlying it. Apart from the likelihood that the Greater Indus Valley was probably called Meluhha in Sumerian, there is no historical information concerning the Indus Civilisation: it was the names and genealogies of the Persian kings (known from Greek historians and the Bible) which opened up the cuneiform script. The texts are so short that they hardly contain complete sentences, probably only noun phrases. But a text some 70 signs long would not lead to a dramatic decipherment of the script, although it can be expected to throw some new light on the structure of the underlying language.

Can you explain what you mean by the “Dravidian solution of the Indus enigma?”

I mean by it obtaining certainty that the language underlying the Indus script in South Asia belongs to the Dravidian language family. For this, it is not necessary to decipher the entire script (which in any case is impossible with the present materials) but we need a sufficient number of tightly cross-checked sign interpretations.

It is 16 years since you published Deciphering the Indus Script. What is the progress you have made since then in deciphering it?

Some progress has been made, and I shall talk about it at the Classical Tamil Conference in June. Progress is very difficult, however, also because our knowledge of Proto-Dravidian vocabulary and especially phraseology is so incomplete. This knowledge is critical for reliable readings, and here Old Tamil offers precious but unfortunately limited material.

Some Indian scholars feel that the Indus Civilisation is Aryan and connected with the Rig Veda. You are a Vedic scholar and you specialise in the Indus script too. So what is your reaction to this standpoint?

Rigvedic hymns often speak of horses and horse-drawn chariots, and the horse sacrifice, ashvamedha, is among the most prestigious Vedic rites. The only wild equid native to the Indian subcontinent is the wild ass, which is known from the bone finds of the Indus Civilisation and depicted (though rarely) in its art and script. The domesticated horse is absent from South Asia until the second millennium BCE. Finds from Pirak and Swat from 1600 BCE show it was introduced from Central Asia after the Indus Civilisation. The earliest archaeological finds of horse-drawn chariot come from graves dated to around 2000 BCE in the Eurasian steppes, the natural habitat of the horse. There are also ancient Aryan loanwords in Finno-Ugric languages spoken in northeastern Europe (for example, the word for ‘hundred' in my own language Finnish is sata). Some of these Aryan loanwords represent a more archaic stage of development (that is, are phonetically closer to the older Proto-Indo-European language) than Rigvedic Sanskrit. It is very likely that these words came to Finno-Ugric languages from Proto-Aryan spoken in the Volga steppes.

You have published two volumes of Indus Seals and Inscriptions along with J.P. Joshi. Will there be a third volume?

Shri J. P. Joshi was the co-editor of the first volume of the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions, S. G. M. Shah of the second. Volume 3, Part 1 is in the press and will come out by June 2010.

Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions dating back to 1st century BCE to third century CE offer the fundamental evidence that Tamil is a classical language. Would you like to comment on the threat posed to these Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions in the hills in and around Madurai by the granite-quarrying lobby?

The Tamil-Brahmi inscriptions are important monuments, which should be adequately protected. The possibility of new finds must also not be forgotten. In my own country, Finland, the government has been much concerned about the damage caused to scenery by sand-quarrying and has passed restrictive laws.

Keywords: Indus script, Dravidian language, Classical Tamil Award, 2009, Indus Valley Civilization, Aryans

Comments to : Copyright © 2009, The Hindu

Monday, April 5, 2010

Smokers have lower IQs....!!!

Smokers have lower IQs than those who abstain, with intelligence decreasing the more one smokes, researchers have found.

A study of 18 to 21-year-old men revealed that the IQs of smokers averaged 94 – seven points lower than non-smokers on 101.

IQ scores in a healthy population of young men fall between 84 and 116, but those who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day averaged just 90 between them.

Researchers in Israel took data from more than 20,000 healthy men before, during and after they spent time in the Israeli military.

About 28 per cent of their sample smoked one or more cigarettes a day, three per cent considered themselves ex-smokers, and 68 per cent said they never smoked.

Professor Mark Weiser, of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Psychiatry, said: "In the health profession, we’ve generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighbourhoods, or who’ve been given less education at good schools.

"But because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we’ve been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor."

The study also measured effects in twin brothers – and in the case where one twin smoked, the non-smoking twin registered a higher IQ on average.

Prof Weiser said: "People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health.

"People with lower IQs are not only prone to addictions such as smoking. These same people are more likely to have obesity, nutrition and narcotics issues.

"Our study may help parents and health professionals help at-risk young people make better choices."