Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Arunima Sinha: Indian is first woman amputee to climb Everest

In 2011, 26-year-old Arunima Sinha lost one of her legs after she said she was thrown off a moving train when she resisted a group of robbers.
On 21 May, she stood on top of the world, defying all conceivable odds, and achieved what was unthinkable to many.
"I turned my artificial leg into my strength and stubbornly chose the most difficult sport for myself," says Ms Sinha, a former national-level volleyball player.
There are inspiring words from an extraordinary woman. Also, a stunning demonstration of how she turned her supposed weakness into a winning force.
"When I reached the summit, I felt like screaming at the top of my voice. I wanted to tell the world: here I am. I have saved that moment inside me," she says.
"Actually, my screaming did not last long. You see, I didn't have much energy left. Had I been a painter, I would have tried to capture that image on a canvas," she adds.
'Darkest hour'
Just two years ago, Ms Sinha says it was her "darkest hour".
Her life changed when she was "pushed out of the train" after she refused to hand over her gold chain to robbers.
Police disputed her version - they said she was either attempting suicide or had jumped out to evade arrest for travelling without a valid ticket. The fate of the case is unknown.
Ms Sinha was admitted to hospital with serious leg and pelvic injuries. Doctors had to amputate her left leg below the knee to save her life. A rod had to be inserted inside her leg to provide support to the damaged limb.
"I was shattered. Here was someone who was totally independent, and now I was dependent on others for support. Visitors who came to see me at the hospital showed sympathy. But then I decided to do something that would inspire others."
She says her family's support gave her immense confidence.
"I decided to challenge myself with the toughest sport. And I chased my dream with passion."
Equipped with a prosthetic leg and an iron will, Ms Sinha rang up Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to scale Mount Everest in 1984, as soon as the hospital discharged her four months later.
She had read about Pal but did not know her personally. Pal heads an adventure foundation, supported by India's Tata Steel company, in the city of Jamshedpur in the eastern state of Jharkhand.
Sinha underwent a year of rigorous training in Uttarkashi in the northern state of Uttarakhand which demanded toughness - both physical and mental.
"I felt low when I couldn't catch up with other 'normal' able-bodied people. But I was determined to outpace them. And I did," she says.
It took her 52 days of torturous climbing on the snowy peaks to conquer the 8,850m (29,000 ft) summit.
At one point, fearing that her energy and oxygen levels were depleting fast, her team leader suggested that she return. But she refused.
While descending, she began to sweat so profusely that at one point she felt the prosthetic leg would slip out.
"I couldn't take off my gloves to support the leg for fear of frostbite, so I dragged myself till the camp," she says.
Ms Sinha has dedicated her achievement "to those who lose hope".
She is now busy with plans to open a sports academy for the poor and physically challenged children. For this purpose, she has already bought a piece of land in Unnao district in Uttar Pradesh.
"I want to train these children so that they achieve their dream. This is my dream too," she says.

Oldest man in history Jiroemon Kimura dies at 116

A Japanese man recognised as the world's oldest living person, and the oldest man recorded in history, has died aged 116, local officials say.
Jiroemon Kimura died of natural causes on Wednesday in a hospital in Kyotango, Kyoto, a government statement said.
In December, Guinness World Records recorded Mr Kimura as the oldest man ever verified to have lived.
He reportedly had seven children, 14 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and 13 great-great-grandchildren.
Mr Kimura was born on 19 April 1897, the same year as aviator Amelia Earhart.
He worked in his local post office until retiring and was said to have helped his son with his farming until he was around 90 years old.
He became the world's oldest living person in December, when the previous title-holder died.
'Eat light to live long'
In an interview in December, his nephew, Tamotsu Miyake, said Kimura had "an amazingly strong will to live".
"He is strongly confident that he lives right and well."
In an interview on his 115th birthday, Mr Kimura said he was not sure why he was able to live so long.
"Maybe it's all thanks to the sun above me," he said. "I am always looking up towards the sky, that is how I am."
Journalist Kanoko Matsuyama of Bloomberg News met Mr Kimura at his home last year.
"He said his secret to his longevity was eating light to live long," Ms Matsuyama told the BBC.
"At the same time, his main carer and grand-daughter-in-law, Aiko, said his positivity helped him to live so long."
Japanese woman Misao Okawa from Osaka, who is 115 years old, will most probably inherit the title of world's oldest living person, reports say.
She is already considered the world's oldest living woman.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pagani Zonda Revolucion delivers 800 hp and F1 technology for a mere $2.9 million

The playbook for automakers updating its model lineup remains simple: increase power; add technology. But when you take Italian supercar builder Pagani and its wildly insane Zonda R, you'd think the limits have perhaps been met. Apparently, however, they have not, as the Zonda Revolucion arrives weighing just 2,358 lbs. and packing 800 hp. That's 50 more than the already ridiculous Zonda R, making the Revolucion now boast an unfathomable 748 hp per ton. That's absolute madness.
But as Horacio Pagani himself says: "Limits are made to be overcome."
Torque figures are equally impressive, as the 6.0 liter V-12, constructed for Pagani by Mercedes AMG, now coaxes 538 lb-ft. Technology? Yep, they added that too, offering a Formula One style two-mode DRS (drag reduction system). The system adjusts the rear wing's position between maximum and minimum downforce, at a lateral acceleration of 0.8 g. Alternatively, holding down the DRS button for two seconds places the system in automatic mode, adjusting the wing based upon the algorithms set by the Pagani engineers. The car must be traveling above 60 mph for the DRS to remain operable. The transmission is a six-speed magnesium transversal and sequential box that shifts in 20 ms, and the traction control sports a whopping 12 different settings, perfectly suited for the indecisive track-day warrior.
As with everything, when power figures increase and radical technology comes equipped, the price tag tends to inflate. If you want a Zonda Revolucion (and who wouldn't?) be prepared to drop $2.9 million dollars. Plus tax. What you get for the money remains a track-ready monster that looks wilder than the Batmobile and possesses more gadgets than James Bond's DB5. If you put it like that, it's not a bad deal at all.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Angelina Jolie Makes First Public Appearance Since Mastectomy Reveal

Angelina Jolie accompanied Brad Pitt to the London premiere of World War Z today.

But what would have been a typical event in the life of these A-listers took on a different meaning because it was the star's first public appearance since revealing to the world that she has undergone a double mastectomy.
Angelina Jolie on the Red Carpet

The inspiring star told Us Weekly she feels "wonderful," adding that it's "Brad's night" and she was just on hand for support.

But Jolie's partner could not help but gush over his date.

"I think the world of her, she is an amazing woman," Pitt told People. "She wasn't really nervous about coming to support me tonight, she was so moved – we were all so moved – by how much it meant to others."

Added Angelina in a few words to the BBC before going inside to screen the film:

Jolie told the BBC she's "feeling fine" and she's grateful for all the support.

"I've been very happy just to see the discussion about women's health expanded and that means the world to me. After losing my mom to these issues, I'm very grateful for it and I've been very moved by the support from people."

Chemist Hopes 'Artificial Leaf' Can Power Civilization Using Photosynthesis

Imagine an artificial leaf that mimics photosynthesis, which lets plants harness energy from the sun. But this leaf would have the ability to power your homes and cars with clean energy using only sunlight and water.
This is not some far-off idea of the future. It's reality, and the subject of a jury-prize-winning film in the GE Focus Forward Film Competition.
Jared P. Scott and Kelly Nyks' short film, " The Artificial Leaf," showcases chemist Daniel Nocera, the inventor of the artificial leaf, a device that he says can power the world.
"The truth is stranger than fiction," Kelly Nyks, a partner at PF Pictures, told ABC News. "What I think is so exciting is that Dan has taken this science and applied it in a way that makes bringing it to scale to solve the energy crisis for the planet real and possible."
Nocera's leaf is simply a silicon wafer coated with catalysts that use sunlight to split water to into hydrogen and oxygen components.
"Essentially, it mimics photosynthesis," Nocera told ABC News.
The gases that bubble up from the water can be turned into a fuel to produce electricity in the form of fuel cells. The device may sound like science fiction fantasy, but Nocera said he hopes one day it will provide an alternative to the centralized energy system - the grid.
Worldwide, more than 1.6 billion people live without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people live without access to clean sources of fuel for cooking.
"This is the model: We're going to have a very distributed energy system," Nocera told ABC News. With the leaf, "using just sunlight and water, you can be off the grid. If you're poor, you don't have a grid, so this gives them a way to have energy in the day and at night."
With just the artificial leaf, 1.5 bottles of drinking water and sunlight, you could have enough electricity to power a small home, but the cost is still a problem, though Nocera said he believes that will come down with time and research.
The artificial leaf is cheaper than solar panels but still expensive. Hydrogen from a solar panel and electrolysis unit can currently be made for about $7 per kilogram; the artificial leaf would come in at $6.50.
Nocera is looking for ways to drive down the costs make these devices more widely available. He recently replaced the platinum catalyst that produces hydrogen gas with a less-expensive nickel-molybdenum-zinc compound. He's also looking for ways to reduce the amount of silicon needed.
In 2009, Nocera's artificial leaf was selected as a recipient of funding by the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), which supports energy technologies that could create a more secure and affordable American future.
Nyks and Scott said they hope "The Artificial Leaf" will bring awareness to the public that sustainable energy solutions do exist.
"We make films for social action," Scott, also a partner at PF Pictures, told ABC News. "We see films as a tool for social change. And what I think Dan sketches out is that we start with energy. And if we solve the energy crisis, we'll solve the climate crisis, and then we'll solve the water crisis, and then we'll solve the food crisis. But it starts with energy."
The directors were one of 30 filmmaking teams asked to make a movie that could highlight an innovation that could change the world as part of GE Focus Forward, a series of three-minute films created by award-winning documentary makers including Alex Gibney, Lucy Walker, Albert Maysles and Morgan Spurlock.
Anyone with an Internet connection has access to the videos online. The winning entries are featured at
So far, total media impressions for GE Focus Forward have exceeded 1.5 billion. In addition, the films are screening at all the major film festivals around the world and have played on every continent, including Antarctica.
Nyks and Scott said they hope to take the success of the short and turn it into a feature-length documentary.

3-D printing goes from sci-fi fantasy to reality

SAN MATEO, Calif. (AP) — Invisalign, a San Jose company, uses 3-D printing to make each mouthful of customized, transparent braces. Mackenzies Chocolates, a confectioner in Santa Cruz, uses a 3-D printer to pump out chocolate molds. And earlier this year, Cornell University researchers used a 3-D printer, along with injections of a special collagen gel, to create a human-shaped ear.
Once a science-fiction fantasy, three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere from the desks of home hobbyists to Air Force drone research centers. The machines, generally the size of a microwave oven and costing $400 to more than $500,000, extrude layer upon layer of plastics or other materials, including metal, to create 3-D objects with moving parts.
Users are able to make just about anything they like: iPad stands, guitars, jewelry, even guns. But experts warn this cool innovation could soon turn controversial — because of safety concerns but also the potential for the technology to alter economies that rely onmanufacturing.
"We believe that 3-D printing is fundamentally changing the manufacturing ecosystem in its entirety — how and where products are made and by whom," said Peter Weijmarshausen, CEO of New York-based Shapeways, an online company that makes and sells 3-D printed products designed by individuals. Products include a delicate, twig-like egg cup (cost: $8.10) and a lamp that looks like a nuclear mushroom cloud (cost: $1,388.66).
"We're on the verge of the next industrial revolution, no doubt about it," added Dartmouth College business professor Richard D'Aveni. "In 25 years, entire industries are going to disappear. Countries relying on mass manufacturing are going to find themselves with no revenues and no jobs."
On ground, sea or air, when parts break, new ones can be made on the spot, and even the tools to install them can be made, eliminating the need for staging parts in warehouses around the world, said Jeff DeGrange, vice president of Direct Digital Manufacturing at Stratasys Inc., currently the industry leader in a field of about 50 3-D printer companies.
"We're going to see innovation happening at a much higher rate, introduction of products at a much higher rate," said DeGrange. "We live in an on-demand world now, and we'll see production schedules are going to be greatly compressed."
Airplane mechanics could print a replacement part on the runway. A dishwasher repairman could make a new gasket in his service truck. A surgeon could print a knee implant custom-designed to fit a patient's body.
But the military, D'Aveni said, is likely to be among the first major users of 3-D printers, because of the urgency of warfare.
"Imagine a soldier on a firebase in the mountains of Afghanistan. A squad is attacked by insurgents. The ammunition starts to run out. Is it worth waiting hours and risking the lives of helicopter pilots to drop it near you, or is it worth a more expensive system that can manufacture weapons and ammunition on the spot?" he said.
In the past two years, the U.S. Defense Department has spent more than $2 million on 3-D printers, supplies and upkeep, according to federal contract records. Their uses range from medical research to weapons development. In addition, the Obama administration has launched a $30 million pilot program that includes researching how to use 3-D printing to build weapons parts.
NASA is also wading into this arena, spending $500,000 in the past two years on 3-D printing. Its Lunar Science Institute has published descriptions of how it is exploring the possibility of using the printers to build everything from spacecraft parts while in orbit to a lunar base.
While the U.S. is pursuing the military advantages of 3-D printing, it's also dealing with the potential dangers of the technology. On May 9, the State Department ordered a group to take down online blueprints for a 3-D printable handgun, and federal lawmakers and some state legislatures are contemplating proposals to restrict posting weapons plans in the future.
Since 2007, when these printers first entered the mainstream marketplace, sales have grown by 7.2 percent each year, according to IBIS World, a company that tracks the industry. Sales are projected to jump from about $1.7 billion in 2011 to $3.7 billion in 2015.
Cliff Waldman, a senior economist at the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, a group that promotes the role of manufacturing in global economies, said it's still too soon to know exactly what impact this 3-D technology could have on more traditional manufacturing. However, he doesn't envision it changing the "fundamental shape" of manufacturing, as others suggest.
"I think 3-D has the capacity to impact both products and processes," he said. "I am not ready to say that it is completely disruptive, however. It might be in a few narrow industries."
Starting in June, office supply chain Staples plans to be the first major retailer to supply 3-D printers with "the Cube," a plug-in device that uses 16 colors and costs $1,299. And in September the smallest and cheapest 3-D printer on the market — a printing pen priced from $50 — is due to start shipping. Similar to a glue gun, the 3Doodler plugs into the wall and is filled with cylinders of plastic that come out of a 518-degree Fahrenheit tip. Once the plastic leaves the pen it cools and hardens.
Makers Peter Dilworth, an inventor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Maxwell Bogue, a toy maker, first pitched their pens earlier this year on a website for startup projects. They sought $30,000 and wound up collecting $2.3 million from more than 26,000 investors, who each got one of the 3-D pens. Four artists who teamed up with the men have used the pens to make a mini Eiffel Tower, earrings and butterfly pendants.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Sri Lanka – Thailand focus on enhancing defence and security ties

Sri Lanka – Thailand focus on enhancing defence and security ties

Enhancing defence and security relations between Sri Lanka and Thailand was emphasised when Prime Minister of Thailand Yingluck Shinawatra called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo this morning.
“Sharing our experience and expertise in these fields will no doubt contribute to eradicate terrorism and other security threats in the region,” President Rajapaksa said emphasising the close co-operation between the two countries in security related information and intelligence sharing.
As maritime nations, we should work towards strengthening our maritime security capabilities, President Rajapaksa said while Prime Minister Shinawatra agreed by saying maritime cooperation between nations is necessary to maintain the peace and security in the region.
Thailand will have better connectivity with Myanmar leading to a corridor for better association for ASEAN and India which can benefit Sri Lanka too, the Prime Minister added.
President said Sri Lanka much appreciate the Thailand government’s firm support for us, at both the 19th and 22nd Sessions of the UN Human Rights Council.
In the context of the complex issues Sri Lanka had to deal with, we should be entitled to have time and space to proceed with a dedicated process of national reconciliation. We also seek the assistance and understanding of Thailand in mitigating undue pressure directed at Sri Lanka in both international and regional fora, the President added.
President Rajapaksa pledged Sri Lanka’s assistance for Thailand’s candidacy to the Human Rights Council in the period, 2015 – 2017.
Sri Lanka is now emerging as a competitive and vibrant destination for trade and investment. There are many opportunities in the area since May 2009. It is the right time to consider joint investments between our investors and invite the Thai government to invest in our government debentures, President further said.
Thai Prime Minister said her government will encourage Thai investors to make use of the opportunities that Sri Lanka has to offer.
We also should work closely in promoting more business opportunities in the small and medium industrial sector.
“We share same cultural and religious values and also the commitment to peace and democracy,” Prime Minister Shinawatra said.
Sri Lanka had made great strides under your able leadership, she told President.
Thailand will always extend support to maintain peace and stability in Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister added.
The Thai Prime Minister offered 260 scholarships to Sri Lanka to mark the 260th anniversary of the establishment of Siyam Nikaya in the areas of development close to the people.
Following bilateral discussions, Sri Lanka and Thailand signed four Memorandum of Understandings on visa exemption for diplomats and official passport holders, tourism cooperation, scientific and technological cooperation and commerce and banking cooperation.