Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Predictions for 2005 - One for the thumb!

BusinessWeek Online has put up its What will drive 2005 list of predictions for the upcoming year. #19 certainly looks promising
19. The Pittsburgh Steelers will win the 2005 Super Bowl.
Big Ben's fantastic rookie year certainly seems like the one where they will bring in home One of the thumb - a reference to the 5th Super Bowl ring, always missing in Pittsburgh, the first four ofcourse going back to the glory days of the Steel Curtain defense of the 1970s.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Tsunami Relief Efforts

A series of tidal waves lashed the coasts of south asian countries causing tremendous devastation and loss of life. these were triggered by a massive earthquake near Sumatra. Nearly 22000 people are believed to have perished in one of the worst natural disasters of modern times, in nine countries, including India. About 3000 people died in India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, including personnel of the Indian Air Force and their families. Rediff's entire coverage can be found here.

Check out a comment at Selva's Scientific Indian blog. Certainly seems like some of this loss of life could have been averted by just responding to known warnings.

In the meantime, if folks want to help in relief efforts, the Association for India's Development (AID) is soliciting monetary support. They have already started helping out with efforts by grassroots partners in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. You can make a donation here.

From the Indian Express
After yesterday’s earthquake, there were 90 minutes before the first wave of the deluge crashed into the Indian coast. Within 15 minutes of the earthquake, scientists running the tsunami warning system for the Pacific had issued a cautionary from their Honolulu hub, to 26 participating countries. India was not among them.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

the chicken, the egg or the genome?

not sure whether the chicken or the egg came first, and till the announcement in today's issue of Nature, the genome of the chicken had never come. the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium has published the draft genome sequence of the red jungle fowl, Gallus gallus. Quoting from the article [International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium, "Sequence and comparative analysis of the chicken genome provide unique perspectives on vertebrate evolution", Nature, 432, 695-716 (2004)]
Because the chicken is a modern descendant of the dinosaurs and the first non-mammalian amniote to have its genome sequenced, the draft sequence of its genome—composed of approximately one billion base pairs of sequence and an estimated 20,000–23,000 genes—provides a new perspective on vertebrate genome evolution, while also improving the annotation of mammalian genomes.
Gallus gallus is an important model for biomedical research, and the primary lab model for almost 9600 species of birds. In addition to its importance in agriculture, it serves as an important link between man and other vertebrates.

Friday, December 03, 2004

The darkest night ....

today's featured article on wikipedia is on India - has some interesting links to india's economy as well india's nuclear capability

The darkest night ....

today is also the twentieth anniversary of the worst industrial disaster the world has seen - the Bhopal gas tragedy, where methyl isocyanate leaked from Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing more than 3000 (officially!) and injuring about half a million. Union Carbide got away with an out of court settlement of $470 million, most of which is still lying with the Indian government - who has shown an absolutely gutless face and an inability to stand up for the people who were affected.

according to Union Carbide Corporation's official statement on Bhopal:
A thorough investigation was conducted by the engineering consulting firm Arthur D. Little. Its conclusion: The gas leak could only have been caused by deliberate sabotage. Someone purposely put water in the gas storage tank, causing a massive chemical reaction. Process safety systems had been put in place that would have kept the water from entering into the tank by accident.
Thankfully, the issue is not yet over and done with, thanks largely to the efforts of NGOs such as the Association for India's Development (AID), Amnesty International, the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (not really an NGO by itself, but a coalition), and Greenpeace

As a chemical engineer - it certainly was the darkest days for my profession, and it my heart goes out to all those who were hit by tragedy by this accident. This post is but a small effort towards spreading awareness about the tragedy.

News Links:
BBC News