Friday 19 April 2019

The "Colossus", robot firefighter that helped save Norte Dame

The French robotics manufacturer Shark Robotics created a 1,100-pound Colossus robot, which is waterproof, fireproof, and resistant to thermal radiation.
Firefighters can equip the robot with a variety of tools, including the water canon that the French firefighters used to blast the Notre Dame fire with more than 660 gallons of water per minute. It’s operated via a joystick, which can function up to 1,000 feet away from the robot.

Paedophilia Symptoms can be caused by Brain Tumours in the right orbitofrontal cortex

In 2000, a 40-year-old man was rushed to the University of Virginia Hospital emergency department while experiencing a severe headache. Perhaps he was faking it to escape the dire situation he had been in. In the previous year, he had developed an unusual increasing interest in porn, including child porn. While he had a pre-existing interest in porn dating back to his teenage years, he denied a previous attraction to children. He had been in a stable marriage for two years. He did not have a history of psychiatric disorders or prior deviant sexual behaviour.
Throughout the year 2000, he collected a large number of porn magazines and increasingly visited Internet porn sites to satisfy his obsession with child porn. He started soliciting prostitution which he had not done before.
He desperately concealed his activities but continued to act on his sexual impulses, completely unable to restrain his sexual urges. He even made subtle sexual advances toward his stepdaughter. She informed her mother and she discovered his preoccupation with child pornography.
He was removed from the home, found guilty of child molestation and was ordered to undergo rehab for sex addiction or go to jail. While in rehab, he solicited sexual favours from staff and other patients and was expelled.
Sixteen years earlier, he had had a head injury that left him unconscious for two minutes, followed by two years of migraines. During the neurologic examination, he solicited female staff for sexual favours and was unembarrassed when he peed on himself. He confessed he had had suicidal thoughts and rape fantasies. He complained of balance problems and an MRI scan was performed on him. An egg-sized brain tumour was discovered in his brain. Once it was removed, his sex obsession disappeared.[1]
The tumour was located in the right lobe of the orbitofrontal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for inhibition, judgment and impulse control. It was the first case that brain damage was linked to paedophilia. While his knowledge of right and wrong was intact, the tumour had destroyed his control of sexual impulses.
Seven months after the tumour removal and completing the rehab program, he returned home. He complained of headaches and secretly collected porn again. An MRI scan revealed that the tumour had come back and after it was removed, his behaviour disappeared.
In another similar case, a 64-year-old well-respected pediatrician was caught while enacting sexually inappropriate behaviour towards a child in a kindergarten doctor’s office. He clearly had lost all judgment because his paedophilic urges were carried out in a risky manner leaving the office door wide open. His wife observed he had gradually changed with easy frustration and irritability followed by subtle behavioural disinhibition. His MRI scan revealed a large tumour that displaced the hypothalamus, which is responsible for sexual orientation and compressed the orbitofrontal cortex. After the tumour was removed, all the abnormal behaviour including paedophilic urges, disappeared.[2]
These two cases raise an interesting question: to what extent are these two men culpable? Recent studies have estimated 25–87% of prison inmates suffered some sort of traumatic brain injury (TBI) in their life and indicated associations between TBIs and criminal-like behaviour.[3] [4] [5] TBI-related problems can complicate their management and treatment. They can experience mental health problems such as severe depression, anxiety, anger control issues, self-restraint, alcohol and substance abuse.
This makes it difficult for them to respond to disciplinary action in prison, to understand and remember rules, and anger issues can get them in dangerous incidents with other inmates. They also have a higher rate of recidivism.
The spirit of the law is that responsibility for a crime is reduced when a defendant’s cognitive ability is compromised by illness or injury. This means that people need to be tested soon after being arrested. Many people who are in prison shouldn’t be there due to this lack of diagnosis. There needs to be increased health screenings and rehab treatments and improved coordination between family, community mental health services, GPs and the school system. The justice system will have to move away from retribution and focus more on rehabilitation.
It doesn’t change the purpose of the justice system to reform their behaviour and provide safety for the rest of society. But the sentencing and treatment might have to depend on how modifiable their behaviour is. If a criminal is utterly beyond repair, brain damage or not, (s)he still needs to be locked away. But it might help many others who might benefit from treatment as the two examples in this answer.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Waking up!

When waking up is one of the hardest things to do 
And the first sound you make is a despairing groan 
When you don't want the pain of another day 
And just want to stay in bed and sleep, to tell the world to go away. 
Look outside and see the life around you 
A flower, a bird, even the tiniest insect has its own beauty 
Just sit and watch, take a moment for yourself 
Allow the wonder and magic of life to consume your mind 
Let that pretty flower, or bird, or insect become your reality 
As you sit there in awe of what you see 
Thoughts may wonder if someone will ever truly understand you 
And want to be part of your life 
At these times remember, in this world, you are the only you 
You are unique, and your wonderful qualities are ready to shine 
And somehow, at some point, probably most unexpectedly 
You will find someone out there who believes in you 
Who wants to share your pain, to take part of the burden 
And you will find joy that was once unimaginable!

Friday 12 April 2019

Life is nothing but a Dream!

Lost in tears, 
I did not notice, 
Dusk descending
Petals dropped, 
And piled up on my robe
Dull white rag 
Laid over my dreams.
The sun goes down
Behind the mountain peaks
The moonlit valley of Calder
Last night I watched its lure
From the windows of dome.
Darkening shades of trees
Falling on the walls of Church
Like shapeless ghosts, 
The acquaint myth of Dharma,
Retold stories of Fate.
Winds passing 
Through the shaded grove
The birds have gone, 
And people too are few
The One I cared for
Standing in the midst 
Sobbing softly, 
Can't hear the words…. 
There's no death, 
Just the dream 
That touches your heart
And it fades for ever
Before long, leave 
No trace behind. 


The Meaning of Life and Death !

Why do people worry about the meaning of life and what happens to them after death? 

The weakening of religious beliefs changed man’s outlook concerning his idea of death and its significance. Increasingly, the focus switched to life ‘here and now’ as man became more preoccupied with the material side of the world at the expense of the spiritual. 

I amazed how much time is spent on these two points, but no one asks or worries about pre-birth, where or what was I before my birth, everyone seems happy to accept they didn't exist before birth but can't comprehend you just stop existing after death, making room for a new crop of humans to mess up the planet, and worry about the meaning of life rather than living it.

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have - James Baldwin

Death has always been inevitable, but the idea that science will eventually conquer death has taken root—achieved through some combination of future technologies like nanotechnology, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Some think the possibility of technological immortality renders human life meaningless, others that life can only attain its full meaning if death is overcome.

But whatever view one takes about the relationship between death and meaning, the two are joined. If we had three arms or six fingers, our analysis of the meaning of life wouldn’t change; but if we didn’t die our analysis would be vastly different. If our concerns with annihilation vanished, a good part of what seems to undermine meaning would disappear. To understand the issue of the meaning of life, we must think about death. 

Imagine a number of men in chains, all under sentence of death, some of whom are each day butchered in the sight of the others; those remaining see their own condition in that of their fellows and looking at each other with grief and despair await their turn. This is an image of the human condition. – Pascal

Facing one’s own death is radically different from being concerned with the death of others. My own death means the end of my possibilities, the total disintegration and the end of my world. The fear of my own death comes from the fear of my extinction as a human being. This causes me a great deal of anxiety. I may be able to face other people’s death but may find it virtually impossible to come to terms with my own death. Death is existentially significant when one perceives one’s existence in the light of Being, not if it is merely taken as an empirical event that will happen someday. 

The aftermath narrative is not just a personal view, it is part of an organisation of power “so called RELIGION” attempting to prevent us from using our minds rationally. Denying the existence of an afterlife doesn't have to be about cowardice as opposed to courage – after all, everyone's going to make this journey one way or the other. And some of the many different visions of what the afterlife might be like may be more reasonable and more persuasive than others. 

Tuesday 9 April 2019

The “Space Nation” Warns That an Asteroid Could Wipe out Humanity

The leader of Asgardia, which styles itself as humanity’s first “space nation,” has a warning for world leaders: a life-threatening asteroid impact is “inevitable” unless we do something to stop it.

“In the last 100 years, the Earth has been hit at least three times by space objects, each with an explosive power many times greater than the Hiroshima atomic bomb,” Igor Ashurbeyli said in a press release. “Future life-threatening impacts are inevitable unless defences [defenses] are built.”

“World leaders must intensify efforts to detect and track [near-earth objects] and create ways to deflect them from a strike on earth,” he added.

Let’s be real: It’d be easy to dismiss anything that comes from Asgardia as a joke. The nation is little more than an idealistic concept at this point — it doesn’t have anywhere for its citizens to live, and its name sounds kinda silly.

However, Ashurbeyli isn’t the first person to express concerns that an asteroid could wipe out humanity — scientists and other experts have been sounding the warningfor years.

He also isn’t the only one who thinks world leaders aren’t doing enough to protect the planet from the threat — retired NASA astronaut Russell “Rusty” Schweickart recently asserted that the United States should be doing a lot more to detect potential asteroid strikes.

Thankfully, space agencies aren’t completely ignoring the threat of Earth-bound asteroids.

NASA is currently developing a probe to smash into incoming asteroids to redirect them away from the Earth, with plans to launch in 2020 or 2021. The European Space Agency, meanwhile, is developing a “self-driving” spacecraft to work in conjunction with NASA’s probe.

Whether these projects will be ready in time to prevent an asteroid from smashing into the Earth and causing humanity to go the way of the dinosaur, however, is currently impossible to predict.

READ MORE: Scientists With Asgardia Are Demanding Swift Action To Stop Threat Of Apocalyptic Asteroid Strike On Earth [Inquisitr]

Do UK political defections and BREXIT matter to financial markets?

British politics isn’t having an easy ride. Recent defections from both Labour and the  Conservatives will diminish further the power both leaders have over their parties. Is this political turmoil significant for financial markets, though?

Some Labour politicians and  Conservative politicians (at the last count) have resigned from their respective parties and are sitting as independents.

Broadly speaking they believe that their parties have been hijacked by the extremes. They are currently under no obligation to resign as MPs, although a number of them were in danger of being deselected as candidates at the next election anyway.

In the end, probably nothing – most people vote for party not candidate, anyway. In all likelihood, these MPs will disappear from view at the next election. The British political system makes it very difficult for new parties to emerge – particularly new centrist parties.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. A few of us might remember the Social Democratic Party, led by four serious politicians (David Owen, David Steele, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins) – far better known than the current crop. And they made relatively little headway.

Of course a new centrist group might prove to have more staying power in the current political environment. But history isn’t on their side. And nor, you’d guess, are the Liberal Democrats who will claim that they already occupy this particular piece of high ground.

I believe it means relatively little for financial markets. This group would probably have voted with their consciences on Brexit, so it’s not clear that resigning the whip matters much at this point.
On the fate of the next government, maybe it’s positive for Corbyn and his Labour project, but again, you’d guess that these MPs will struggle against whoever represents Labour/Conservatives against them next time.

Recent events are certainly very interesting, but the base case is that they’re not going to change the face of British politics (for better or worse) or the outlook for global markets. So we’ll stay focused on other things, for me it is the better patient experience and safer care. 

Saturday 6 April 2019

Another Facebook Data Breach confirmed today (4th April 2019) - 540 million Facebook user data points leaked by third parties

Over 540 million Facebook user data records were compromised after third-party apps and sites stored the data on unsecured servers. The huge breach comes after numerous promises by Facebook to boost security, and it may prove to be one of the most dangerous yet. Find out why.
  • Two third-party Facebook app developers – Mexico-based Cultura Colectiva and an app called At The Pool – stored a total of about 540 million Facebook user data entries on unsecured Amazon Web Services (AWS) servers.
  • The data stored by Cultura Colectiva included more than 540 million “comments, likes, reactions, account names, FB IDs and more” from Facebook users. This data may seem innocuous, but a hacker or scammer could use it to defraud thousands of users.
  • Far less data was stored by At The Pool, but their data may have been more dangerous. In addition to their names, email addresses, and other Facebook data, the data included 22,000 plaintext passwords. The researchers assume that these passwords were used for the app, not Facebook. However, anyone using the same password for their other accounts would be at high risk.
  • At The Pool’s website has apparently been defunct since 2014. It is therefore likely that the data has been left unsecured at least since then.
The cherry on top: UpGuard, the cybersecurity firm that found and reported the breach, said that even closing the breach was an ordeal. One would hope that companies would respond quickly to protect their users’ data, but this was not the case. Here’s a timeline:
  • “Our first notification email went out to Cultura Colectiva on January 10th, 2019. The second email to them went out on January 14th. To this day there has been no response.”
  • “We then notified Amazon Web Services of the situation on January 28th. AWS sent a response on February 1st informing us that the bucket’s owner was made aware of the exposure.”
  • “When February 21st rolled around and the data was still not secured, we again sent an email to Amazon Web Services.”
  • “It was not until the morning of April 3rd, 2019, after Facebook was contacted by Bloomberg for comment, that the database backup […] was finally secured.”
It took almost 3 months for Cultura Colectiva to secure its users’ data. At The Pool’s data was secured much more quickly, but this may have simply been a stroke of good fortune. Their data set was taken offline during UpGuard’s investigation and before they sent any notification emails. However, the data had already been left unsecured for about 5 years.

Some facts about KERALA, a Southern State in India.

The first state in India to reach 100% literacy rate.

The first beggar-free city (Trivandrum/Thiruvananthapuram) in India is in Kerala.

India’s first ‘Digital State’ -2015

The first state to have 100% banking inclusion - 2007

Second school for girls (1859) unprecedented in the Indian subcontinent after Pune in 1848.

First mosque in India is 629 AD( 7th oldest in the world)- 1st in Mecca, Soudi Arabia, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in Medina, Soudi Arabia, 5th in China and 6th in Somalia.

First church in India (52 AD). Christianity has been in Kerala longer than it has been in Europe. The St. Peters Basilica, Vatican built in 333AD

First synagogue in India - Kochi, Paradesi Synagogue built in 1568
(the oldest active synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations)

The first state in India to receive rain from the Southwest monsoon :)

UNICEF and the World Health Organization(WHO) designated Kerala the world's first "baby-friendly state"

Listed in world top 5 family destinations by Lonely Planet repeatedly (in 2016 as well)

UN awarded Kerala for its global leadership in creating innovative initiatives for sustainable tourism, (the first time India has ever won the recognition)

Natgeo - Ten Paradises of the world' and '50 of the world's top places to see

Highest Human Development Index in India 0.80 ( National average is 0.609) - 2015

The least corrupted state in India - 2015 survey

India’s cleanest and healthiest state and five of the ten most livable cities in India are in Kerala.

First 100% literacy city in India

The highest literacy rate in India - Male 96.2% and Female 92% (2011 survey)

The highest life expectancy (77yrs)

Forestry cover of Kerala is almost 25-30%

The highest minimum wage in India- the average wage for an unskilled worker is. INR 500per day

The sex ratio (Females more the Males) 1084 females for 1000males

The highest media exposure (99%)

Highest % of elderly (12.6 %)

Cleanest city 2016 -Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on the basis solid municipal waste management.

Kerala is the first state to implement land reform bills and education reform bills

kerala is the only state in India with the facilities of hospitals in every village

Highest hospitals beds 4 beds per 1000 population

The healthcare in Kerala is the best in India with a patient doctor ratio of 1:700 ( the ideal ratio by WHO is 1:1000) . The National ratio is 1:1700

Highest gold consumption in the World (20 % of India yrly)

Three gold loan companies in Kerala have more precious metal in their vaults than the gold reserves of Singapore, Sweden or Australia.

The highest mobile communications penetration in India

Highest road density in India (5,268.69 km per 1,000 sq km

Highest home ownership (87.5 %)

The highest rural per capita consumption per month

Highest Remittances -40% of india

Rs 1 lakh crore ($14.9 billion) in the third quarter of 2015-16.

Kerala with only 2.76 per cent of Indian population, utilises nearly 15 per cent of the consumer durables in India

The leading destination for luxury cars (13 % sales of premium cars.)

BSNL-Kerala is the highest profit making circle in the country

Ranks second as state with least poverty (Goa is 1) .7% while national average is 21.92%.

Lowest maternal mortality rate.

Lowest Infant mortality rate (12 per 1,000 ) India stands at 44!

Lowest Hunger index -17.66 (India is 23.31.)

The lowest population growth rate.

The least corrupted state.

All the 11 public services are ranked the least corrupt in the country.

25% of India's 15,000 plant species are in Kerala.

Supplies 60% of worlds white coir fibre.

Has the oldest existing martial art form, Kalaripayattu, dates back more than 2500 years

Kerala is the only state in India with specific palliative care policy (Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness)

Kerala has only 3% of India's population but It provides two-thirds of India's palliative care services.

The world's oldest teak plantation.

Worlds Longest Teaks are in Kerala.

Worlds Only Teak Museum is in Nilambur, Kerala .

The only drive in Beach in India is Muzhuppilangadi, Kannur, North Kerala

Kerala is also the first 'Open Defecation-free State' in the country.

Friday 5 April 2019

Is Homeopathy a system of alternative medicine or just an expensive placebo therapy?

I welcome your valuable comments on this topic or your own experience of using the system of Homeopathy for any ailments.
Please comments below. I may or may not be using your comments or part of your comments (ensured complete anonymity) in a book /paper that I am currently working on. I also given a couple of useful links in the comments section. (Krishna)
Following a philosophy of ‘like treats like”, German physician and chemist Samuel Hahnemann developed homeopathy in 1796. He restored health by administering highly diluted amounts of substances such as arsenic, belladonna, sepia, nutmeg or chamomile, which, in larger quantities, cause symptoms like those suffered by the patient.
He believed that the water retained a memory of the vital essence of the substance used. Scientists have long questioned the very basis of homeopathy because it seems implausible for such diluted forms of a chemical to have any medical or pharmacological action. In most cases, the final homeopathic preparation does not contain a single molecule of the original herb or mineral.
Most of the developed countries like USA, UK, Australia, Canada, France etc. doesn't approve Homeopathy as a modern system of medicine. Most of the scientific studies suggested that Homeopathy has just a placebo effects. Over the past decade, modern science has dismissed homeopathy as nothing more what it appears to be: sugar pills that do nothing more than give you empty calories.
A major nail in the coffin was an analysis of 110 homoeopathy trials and 110 matched conventional-medicine trials published in The Lancet in 2005 that concluded “the clinical effects of homoeopathy are placebo effects”. It found homoeopathic treatments were not more effective than dummy pills, but allopathic medicine were.
India is among the world’s biggest market for homeopathy in the world, pegged at Rs 1,500 crore and projected to grow by 20% each year. India has 195 homeopathic medical colleges, 51 homeopathic universities and 27 state councils, which train and register thousands of practitioners each year. Why Indian people are relying on this 'system of placebo therapy ' which has no medicinal benefits but purely works on psychological effects.
According to India’s Ministry of Ayush, it is the second most popular system of medicine after allopathy in the country with roughly 10% of the population relying soley on homeopathy for treatment.
Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan put the spotlight on homeopathy when he dismissed it as bogus science, but it’s business as usual for the 2.65 lakh registered practitioners of homeopathy in India.
“No one in chemistry believes in homoeopathy. It works because of placebo effect,” said Ramakrishnan, the India-born President of the Royal Society, who won the Nobel for Chemistry in 2009, speaking at the Panjab University at Chandigarh.
And, now Russia declares Homeopathy a Junk Science and planning to ban this system of alternative medicine.
Russia's Commission against Pseudoscience has called for the Health Ministry to ban homeopathy; however, the psychological effect of the medicine will continue to ensure its popularity (…/201702121050597972-russia-homeop…/)

My Linguistic Relativity thoughts!

I always believed that language helps or drive our thought process. But does an increased vocabulary change the way a person thinks? I'm not entirely sure about it! However it will drive for knowledge, conscious or not, that will leads to a larger vocabulary. A larger vocabulary may facilitate learning - example Nandu, my 10 year old son— he can connect ideas and information better. And knowing (and using) more words can help him communicate those ideas better.

If language can alter one's thought-paths, then certain languages constrain thought to a greater degree than other languages. The reasoning is simple: if our mother-tongue uses abstract terms to define concepts, one must first translate that abstraction to be able to parse it more effectively. This translation is, by its very definition, a constraint.

The native language we speak may determine how your brain solves mathematical puzzles, according to a new study. Brain scans have revealed that Chinese speakers rely more on visual regions than English speakers when comparing numbers and doing sums. Interesting!!  Our mother tongue may influence the way problem-solving circuits in our brains develop, suggest the researchers. But they add that different teaching methods across cultures, or genes, may also have primed the brains of Chinese and English speakers to solve equations differently.

I think most of Indian language, including my mother-tongue  Malayalam, speakers will be having more activity in the visual and spatial brain centre - visuo-premotor association network. The researches suggests that the native English speakers have more activity in the language network known as perisylvian cortices in the left half of the brain. This might be different to the first and second generation 
migrators. I particularly noticed my son's ability of visually thinking about things, but could it be a bit of hereditary 'genes " from us? My wife is pretty good at learning new languages. I speak three languages proficiently but she speaks four. However, I think I'm more of a visual person than my wife :) Unfortunately my  son speaks only 'English' though his parents are multilingual. We still trying to teach him Malayalam, our mother-tongue!

Another thought!

People who suffer some kind of brain damage that stops them using language can still think just fine. It may be that some people think more verbally and others visually; these are really just tools for the thought process;  probably even someone who was blind from birth and then suffered the additional problem of damaging the language centres of their brain, would still be able to think, although it's hard to imagine what that would be like.