Monday, April 4, 2011

Optical Transistor Advance: Physicists Rotate Beams of Light With Semiconductor

Physicists have managed to control the rotation of light by means of a ultra thin semiconductor. The advance could potentially be used to create a transistor that works with light instead of electrical current.

Light waves can oscillate in different directions -- much like a string that can vibrate up and down or left and right -- depending on the direction in which it is picked. This is called the polarization of light. Physicists at the Vienna University of Technology have now, together with researchers at Würzburg University, developed a method to control and manipulate the polarization of light using ultra thin layers of semiconductor material.

For future research on light and its polarization this is an important step forward -- and this breakthrough could even open up possibilities for completely new computer technology. The experiment can be viewed as the optical version of an electronic transistor. The results of the experiment have now been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Controlling light with magnetic fields

The polarization of light can change, when it passes through a material in a strong magnetic field. This phenomenon is known as the "Faraday effect." "So far, however, this effect had only been observed in materials in which it was very weak," professor Andrei Pimenov explains. He carried out the experiments at the Institute for Solid State Physics of the TU Vienna, together with his assistant Alexey Shuvaev. Using light of the right wavelength and extremely clean semiconductors, scientists in Vienna and Würzburg could achieve a Faraday effect which is orders of magnitude stronger than ever measured before.

Now light waves can be rotated into arbitrary directions -- the direction of the polarization can be tuned with an external magnetic field. Surprisingly, an ultra-thin layer of less than a thousandth of a millimeter is enough to achieve this. "Such thin layers made of other materials could only change the direction of polarization by a fraction of one degree," says professor Pimenov. If the beam of light is then sent through a polarization filter, which only allows light of a particular direction of polarization to pass, the scientists can, rotating the direction appropriately, decide whether the beam should pass or not.

The key to this astonishing effect lies in the behavior of the electrons in the semiconductor. The beam of light oscillates the electrons, and the magnetic field deflects their vibrating motion. This complicated motion of the electrons in turn affects the beam of light and changes its direction of polarization.

An optical transistor

In the experiment, a layer of the semiconductor mercury telluride was irradiated with light in the infrared spectral range. "The light has a frequency in the terahertz domain -- those are the frequencies, future generations of computers may operate with," professor Pimenov believes. "For years, the clock rates of computers have not really increased, because a domain has been reached, in which material properties just don't play along anymore." A possible solution is to complement electronic circuits with optical elements. In a transistor, the basic element of electronics, an electric current is controlled by an external signal. In the experiment at TU Vienna, a beam of light is controlled by an external magnetic field. The two systems are very much alike. "We could call our system a light-transistor," Pimenov suggests.

Before optical circuits for computers can be considered, the newly discovered effect will prove useful as a tool for further research. In optics labs, it will play an important role in research on new materials and the physics of light.

Algae That Live Inside the Cells of Salamanders Are the First Known Vertebrate Endosymbionts

A species of algae long known to associate with spotted salamanders has been discovered to live inside the cells of developing embryos, say scientists from the U.S. and Canada, who report their findings in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is the first known example of a eukaryotic algae living stably inside the cells of any vertebrate.

"It raises the possibility that more animal/algae symbioses exist that we are not aware of," said Indiana University Bloomington biologist Roger Hangarter, the PNAS report's sole American coauthor. "Since other salamanders and some frog species have similar algae/egg symbioses, it is possible that some of those will also have the type of endosymbioses we have seen in the spotted salamander."

Biologists Ryan Kerney, Eunsoo Kim, Aaron Heiss, and Brian Hall of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Cory Bishop of St. Frances Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, are the other members of the research team. Kerney was the report's lead author.

"We were particularly excited to discover this association in spotted salamander embryos, because this species was a model organism for early experimental embryology research and is a locally common salamander in eastern North America," Kerney said. "We hope that this study will highlight biodiversity research on common North American species, which can easily be overlooked or even considered over-studied."

Vertebrates are backboned animals. The group includes amphibians like the spotted salamander, as well as mammals, birds and reptiles. The rarity of vertebrate endosymbiosis, as the cell-within-a-cell association is called, has been thought to be the result of the animals' stringently xenophobic immune systems. Any foreign cell that manages to get as far as breaching a cell membrane normally triggers a number of slay-now-and-ask-questions-later gene systems.

Naturalists first noticed an association between spotted salamander eggs and green algae more than 100 years ago. This relationship was formalized by name in 1927 by Lambert Printz, who named the algal species Oophilia amblystoma. The genus name means "egg loving." The nature of that symbiosis was not known until the 1980s, when experimentation revealed the salamander embryos do not develop as quickly or as fully in the absence of the green algae. Likewise, algae grown separately from the embryos but in the presence of water exposed to the embryos also grew more robustly.

Despite decades of study, the revelation of an endosymbiosis between the amphibian and alga took many by surprise when Kereny presented preliminary information at a scientific meeting last year. The reason, Hangarter said, is that the algae cells were not easy to see by conventional light microscopy. Because the chlorophyll in the algae is highly fluorescent, the scientists were able to use modern fluorescent microscopy to probe to the salamanders.

They also used a short string of nucleic acids that targets and binds to a ribosomal RNA molecule unique to Oophilia (18S rRNA) and by a visualization technique called fluorescence in situ hybridization, they found that the algae RNA is pervasive within spotted salamander embryo cells.

"With the ability to use gene-specific probes, it is now possible to determine the presence of organisms that may not be easily visible by standard light microscopy," Hangarter said. "In the past, researchers looking with simpler light microscopy techniques than are available today failed to see any algae in the salamanders."

The symbiotic relationship between spotted salamanders and Oophilia is mutualistic because both creatures benefit. Symbiosis is a general category of species-species interaction in which the organisms share space for extended periods of time. Symbioses can benefit one organism and harm the other (parasitism), benefit both (mutualism), or benefit one creature and leave the other unaffected (commensalism).

Endosymbiosis is a special type of symbiosis, requiring one organism to live inside the cells of another. It is not yet known how the endosymbiotic infiltration of salamander embryo cells affects either the salamander or the alga. Anything is possible, despite the fact that the overall relationship between the two species is established as mutualistically beneficial.

Endosymbiosis also has special evolutionary significance, as it is presumed by biologists to have preceded the full integration of certain cell organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, special structures that perform unique functions within cells -- and possess their own chromosomes.

Kerney and Hangarter say they hope their ongoing work will inspire interest in local biology and respect for environmental protection.

"We would like this work to draw attention to a fascinating yet common backyard salamander, and hope that it will both raise awareness of the species and promote the preservation of their fragile breeding habitat," Kerney said.

Hangarter agreed, adding, "I think it is important for people to realize that you do not need to go to exotic locations to make interesting scientific discoveries. The vernal ponds that the salamanders mate in are also essential for many other amphibians and other organisms, but such ponds are often among the first things destroyed when humans develop in wooded areas. One 500 square-foot pond might service several thousand mating salamanders and frogs that might inhabit an area of a few acres of woodland."

This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Tula Foundation (Canada), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the American Association of Anatomists.

Improving our understanding of the craniofacial features

Research from North Carolina State University shows that they really don't make women like they used to, at least in Spain. The study, which examined hundreds of Spanish and Portuguese skulls spanning four centuries, shows that differences in the craniofacial features of men and women have become less pronounced.

"Improving our understanding of the craniofacial features of regional groups can help us learn more from skeletal remains, or even help us identify an individual based on his or her remains," says Dr. Ann Ross, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and principal investigator of the study. The researchers looked at more than 200 skulls dating to 20th and 16th century Spain, as well as approximately 50 skulls from 20th century Portugal.

Researchers found that craniofacial differences between contemporary men and women are less pronounced than they were in the 16th century. The researchers also found that, while craniofacial features for both sexes in Spain have changed over time, the changes have been particularly significant in females. For example, the facial structure of modern Spanish females is much larger than the structure of 16th century females. This difference may stem from improved nutrition or other environmental factors.

The researchers paid particular attention to structural differences between male and female skulls because "this can help us establish the sex of the remains based on their craniofacial features," Ross says -- which is particularly important when an incomplete skeleton is found. "Being able to tell if a skull belonged to a man or woman is useful in both criminal investigation and academic research."

Assessing the 16th century skulls was important to the researchers because it allowed them to determine how the different features of male and female skulls have changed over time. "This has applications for characterizing older remains," Ross says. "Applying 20th century standards to historical remains could be misleading, since sex differences can change over time -- as we showed in this study."

The study also found that the craniofacial sexual differences were very similar between Spanish and Portuguese populations, implying that standards developed for identifying sex in Spanish skulls could also be applied regionally.

A paper describing the research, "Implications of dimorphism, population variation, and secular change in estimating population affinity in the Iberian Peninsula," is forthcoming from the journal Forensic Science International. The paper was co-authored by Ross; Dr. D.H. Ubelaker of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History; and Dr. E.H. Kimmerle of the University of South Florida. The work was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Justice.

NC State's Department of Sociology and Anthropology is part of the university's College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Problems in Vijay’s Makkal Iyakkam

The founder of Vijay’s Makkal Iyakkam, SA Chandrasekar, in a statement, has said that the Iyakkam’s State President Jayaseelan and Thiruvellore District Secretary Lenin Prabhu have been dismissed.

Clarifying on their dismissal, SAC said that both of them were acting against the wishes of the high command. It may be mentioned here that Vijay’s Makkal Iyakkam pledged their support for the forthcoming elections to AIADMK but Jayaseelan and Lenin Prabhu were working against this order. SAC has asked all the members of the Iyakkam to refrain from associating with the two.

Karthi takes up Madhavan’s role?

The recent Hindi blockbuster, Tanu weds Manu, in which Madhavan and Kangna Ranaut played the lead role, is all set to be remade in Tamil. Sources in Kollywood say that Karthi has been approached to play the role essayed by Maddy in this romantic-comedy. Talks are on with several leading ladies and one of them will be finalized shortly to take up Kangna’s role, it is expected.

Sources in Kollywood say that either Suraj or Rajesh may be roped in to direct this film. Suraj is awaiting the release of the Dhanush starrer Mappillai and Rajesh is currently busy with Oru Kal Oru Kannadi which has Udayanidhi Stalin and Hansika Motwani as the lead pair.

Taapsee gets a call

Taapsee is on a roll with enviable projects in Tamil and Telugu. But the icing on the cake is the role she has bagged in a Hindi film to be made by David Dhawan. The director is famous for his comedies and he will be remaking one of the greatest comedies from a bygone era, Chashmee Baddoor.

David Dhawan has given the female lead to Taapsee as he feels she is something special and different from the typical assembly-line heroines. Her sex appeal lies in her freshness and innocence and that makes her perfect for the role, the director said.

The ecstatic actress is thrilled with the opportunity but has clarified that she will not be shifting base to Bollywood any time soon and will continue to work in Tamil and Telugu films. These two industries have made her and the charming actress feels there is scope for her to achieve great heights in regional as well as Hindi cinema. Good going Taapsee!

Fasting for 24 hours 'may cut your risk of heart disease and diabetes'

Regularly going a day without food may reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes, research has suggested.

Doctors studied the health and habits of more than 200 residents in the state of Utah, where fasting for at least one day a month is a way of life for many Mormons.

X-ray scans revealed narrowing of the arteries in around 75 per cent of those who didn’t fast. In contrast, clogged arteries affected 63 per cent of those who said they often skipped meals.

Fasting also appeared to more than halve the odds of diabetes, the American College of Cardiology’s conference heard.

To ensure the results were not only due to those who fast having healthier lifestyles, the researchers carried out a second study on people who were not regular fasters.

They did not eat or drink anything other than water for 24 hours and underwent a series of health checks. They were also monitored while eating normally.

The tests revealed fasting triggers a significant surge in human growth hormone, a hormone credited with speeding up metabolism and burning off fat.

Levels rose 13-fold in women and 20-fold in men. Shedding fat is known to cut the risk of diabetes and related heart problems.

The fasting caused levels of cholesterol to rise but they returned to normal after the fast was over.

Doctors stressed that more research is needed before fasting can be prescribed to patients.

Nutritionist Dr Emma Williams said: ‘I wouldn’t be in a hurry to commence fasting, as the precise nature by which the body reacts to it remains relatively unknown.’

Scientists to Make Heart Transplant Easier

At the University of Minnesota’s Heart Lab, experiments are going on which will make heart transplant easier and the patients won’t be required to tale anti-immunity drugs. The experiment is a major step towards the first ‘grow- your-own’ heart, and could be helpful in creating artificial liver, kidney and lungs.

It has come to light that British Doctors in 2007 grew a human heart valve by using stem cells taken from a patient’s bone marrow. And a year later, scientists grew a beating animal heart for the first time.

Dr Taylor’s team who is working at Minnesota’s Heart Lab., has already created beating hearts of rat and pig. At the American College of Cardiology’s annual conference in New Orleans the researchers told that they have created new organs using human hearts taken from dead bodies.

The scientists told that the cells were stripped from the dead hearts with powerful detergent, leaving ‘ghost heart’ scaffolds made from the protein collagen. The ghost hearts were then injected with millions of stem cells, which had been extracted from patients and supplied with nutrients. The stem cells ‘recognized’ the collagen heart structure and began to turn into heart muscle cells.

If the experiment proves successful it will be a ground-breaking invention in the field of science and technology. The biggest problem that scientists are facing is getting enough oxygen to the organ through a complex network of blood vessels.

HTC Desire HD unleashed in India

With the incorporation of technologies like HD and 3D in consumer electronic products, their popularity has increased invariably. Further strengthening the stance of high definition visuals, HTC expanded its Desire series with a HD option sometime last year. After alluring enthusiasts around the globe with its enriching graphical verve, the HTC Desire HD has now arrived on the Indian shore.

Flaunting its stylish aluminum sculpture, the handset sports a 4.3-inch LCD display and SRS virtual sound. The smartphone has been embedded with an 8MP dual-flash camera which is capable of freezing high quality images and 720p HD videos. Embedded with the new HTC Fast Boot, users can make quick calls or check emails at a rapid pace. This is possible as the integration slashes the time required for completing the power-up sequence.

“We have always strived to enhance and enrich the mobile phone experience and the HTC Desire HD is a true testament of HTC’s prowess, with its stylish unibody design and outstanding features,” explained Ajay Sharma, Country Head, HTC India. “We are confident that Indian mobile phone users will value this holistic approach and HTC’s innovations in the new HTC Desire HD.”

The device has been powered by the 1GHz Qualcomm 8255 Snapdragon processor for delivering a smooth performance. It also boasts of the HTC Sense which is said to refine people’s experiences by allowing them to record, create, share and access multimedia content. This software has been also been included into the smartphone for unfolding enriching online e-reading sessions.

The HTC Desire HD can be picked from authorized HTC resellers located across the country for the price of Rs. 26, 990.

Follow-up to Storm 2 will be announced by BlackBerry in May

BlackBerry gets touchy

A new range of BlackBerry handsets to be unveiled by RIM next month will include a powerful full touchscreen phone.

The handset, provisionally titled the BlackBerry Touch, will be the successor to the partly touchscreen based Storm 2 and will run OS 6.1. An intriguing development could be that users will need a BlackBerry ID to log into the system, as opposed to the classic BBM PIN, which may make it easier to back-up, restore and share data as well as contacts in the BlackBerry Messenger.

Boy Genius Report, which has leaked pictures, claims the device is: "Thinner, faster and sexier than the Storm."

Getting down to specifics

Specifications have been rumoured to include 8GB onboard memory, 1.2GH processor and 512MB of RAM with a microSD slot for extra space. It's also expected to feature Near Field Communication or touch-based interactions including mobile payments.

The US Verizon Wireless version will be codenamed Monaco, while the global GSM will be known as Monza. Both versions won't be continuing the troublesome SurePress 'innovation' which drew complaints from critics.

Recently, RIM's BlackBerry shied away from this and shifted its focus to the tablet-world in its attempt to rival Apple's iPad 2. It plans to release the first version of the PlayBook later this year. For now though, it's all about the BlackBerry Touch and RIM is expected to make it official at the BlackBerry World conference in May 2011.

Sensex up 75 points in early trade on strong FII buying

The BSE benchmark Sensex firmed up by 75 points in early trade on Monday on persistent buying in select counters, mainly IT and tech, on the back of sustained capital inflows by foreign funds, coupled with higher Asian cues.

The BSE benchmark Sensex resumed higher at 19,473.93 and shot up further to 19,566.29 before quoting at 19,495.75 at 1015 hours, showing a net gain of 75.36 points, or 0.39 per cent, from last weekend’s level.

The NSE 50-share Nifty also firmed up by 14.60 points, or 0.25 per cent, to quote at 5,840.65 at 1015 hours.

Index heavyweight Reliance Industries (RIL) was trading firm. Wipro surged by 1.50 per cent after the company said it will acquire the oil and gas information technology practice of U.S.-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Other gainers were Hero Honda (1.90 per cent), Infosys Tech (1.51 per cent), M&M (1.51 per cent), HDFC Bank (1.30 per cent), Jindalsteel (1.29 per cent) and TCS (1.21 per cent).

As per provisional figures, foreign funds bought shares worth Rs. 415.28 crore last Friday. FII inflow totalled Rs. 8,963.42 crore in the nine trading sessions from March 22 to April 1.

Most Asian stocks rose in early trade after a report showed U.S. jobs grew faster than forecast. The key benchmark indices in Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore were up by between 0.08 per cent and 1.11 per cent. However, South Korea’s Seoul Composite slipped by 0.49 per cent. The Chinese market is closed today for a local holiday.

2G scam: Telenor distances from its JV partner Unitech

Norwegian mobile operator Telenor has distanced itself from its joint venture partner –Unitech, reports CNBC-TV18.

Telenor today clarified that the CBI in its chargesheet has named Unitech Wireless and its MD Sanjay Chandra and not Telenor.

The company claimed that charges were made for a period prior to Telenor's entry and that the Norwegian made its investments after Unitech had obtained a genuine licence. It also emphasised that it has zero tolerance for corruption and will continue to fight for its rights.

Telecom investments pegged at Rs 5 lakh crore in 2012-2017

With mobile subscribers growing at the pace of over 15 million every month, the telecom sector is likely to witness huge investments to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore in the next five years plans (2012-2017).

Of this, the two telecom PSUs -- BSNL and MTNL are expected to make investments to the tune of Rs one lakh crore during the five years to ramp up their telecom infrastructure.

Private players, on the other hand, are expected to invest Rs 4 lakh crore during the same period (2012-2017) in expanding their infrastructure.

This is contained in an internal note of the Department of Telecom which says the total investment in telecom infrastructure is pegged at Rs five lakh crore (USD 110 billion) during the 12th Plan period, starting April 2012.

The total number of telecom subscribers is projected to grow from the present 780 million to 1,200 million during the 12th Plan. About 25% (roughly 300 million) would be 3G/4G subscribers, which would require scaling up the infrastructure.

About Rs 2.85 lakh crore is estimated to be invested in rolling out greenfield 2G, 3G/4G and WiMax networks, while Rs 1 lakh crore would be required to set up an extra 200,000-odd telecom towers across the country.

The total investment in the pan-India broadband rollout is expected to be Rs 75,000 crore, while another Rs 40,000 crore will be invested in augmenting the transmission network.

Libya's bright new dawn

Sitting at a cafe overlooking the second-century Roman arch of Marcus Aurelius, I am basking in the sun. In the nearby bazaar, pedlars shout their wares and customers bargain with the shopkeepers. Young Libyans sip their mint tea and the call to midday prayer beams out from several minarets.

First impressions of Tripoli can be deceiving and things aren't quite as serene as they seem. People talk of corruption, lack of opportunities, frustration and a chokehold on expression but they are wary of who may be sat on the adjacent table.

Opinions about the government or its projects are whispered in hushed voices. Officials are not mentioned by name if possible, for fear of being overheard by eavesdroppers, especially where Gaddafi and his family are concerned. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from the Harry Potter series springs to mind. Libyans, young and old, long for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of thought.

Many Libyans like myself have been fortunate enough to observe these freedoms in practice in the west and to some extent in certain other Arab countries. But many Libyans are not so fortunate.

On my countless visits to Libya I have experienced firsthand the social, civil, political, education and health "systems": they basically do not exist. During his reign in power, Gaddafi has intentionally dismantled all civil institutions. Libyans have suffered as a result, while Gaddafi and his followers have reaped the financial benefits of the country's rich natural resources in what can only be described as the most successful mafia operation of the past four decades.

I once spent two months working in the largest hospital in Libya – Tripoli Medical Centre. I can only describe my experience there as chaos. This was the so-called beacon of the revolution, the flagship hospital, the largest, most progressive hospital with all of the latest facilities that set the standards in healthcare for Libyans; the reality is of nurses unavailable to tend to patients, nonexistent daily ward rounds, multimillion dollar scanners lying unused in locked rooms.

On one occasion, as I observed operations in the operating room, a man would casually walk through in jeans, a scruffy shirt and slicked back hair with a cappuccino in his hands and start a conversation as if he was in Starbucks. No wonder those that can afford it opt for medical treatment in countries like Tunisia, Jordan or even Europe.

Driving along the main coastal highway in Tripoli, I would often visualise the untapped potential along this stretch of the Mediterranean. My friends and I would often reflect on the lack of development of the sprawling beaches. I would reminisce about places I have been fortunate enough to visit – the haute couture of Beirut, the chic of the Côte d'Azur and the buzz of Jumeirah Beach Road in Dubai.

The images of Tripoli in the 1950s, with its Italian colonnades and clean streets, could not be further from the mayhem and disorganisation that are the streets of the city today. It pains me to see that not only is there a lack of progress in Libya, but that the country is actively being decayed by the pathogen that is the regime.

Libyans are idealists. Any hopes, ambitions or aspirations that they have had for the past four decades have been systematically crushed. Dreams have been shattered. The 17 February revolution has blown a breath of fresh air into all Libyans – whether they are in Libya itself or the Libyan diaspora dotted around the world. It is the dawn of a new era. We are now realising that the Libya that our parents could not provide for us is rapidly becoming a reality.

There is a rich culture, heritage, music, history and arts that has been locked away for decades – the regime did not allow the people to freely express themselves using these valuable tools but there is a gripping realisation that these important parts of Libyan identity are even more valuable than the much-debated black gold that lies beneath its soil.

Issues of tribal allegiances, "east versus west Libya", ethnic groups and civil war have all been grossly overstated. Libya is not homogenous; Libya consists of many ethnic groups, religions, languages and tribes. Arabs, Bedouins, Tuareg, Amazigh, Muslims, Christians, Jews – we do not necessarily share the same customs and traditions but in a sick twist of fate, if there is one thing Gaddafi and his family have achieved, it is the unification of the Libyan people and the rest of the world in their desire to rid the earth of them.

Japanese Nuclear Plant Starts Pumping Millions of Gallons of Radioactive Water Into Pacific

TOKYO -- Workers were pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear power complex into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the plant's reactors.

The government has also asked Russia for a ship that is used to dispose of liquid nuclear waste as it tries to decontaminate the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11. The plant also plans to bring in a floating storage facility.

But these other storage options have been slow to materialize, so the pumping began late Monday. It was expected to take about two days to get most of the less-radioactive water out.

"It was inevitable," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference Tuesday. "The measure was to prevent highly radioactive water from spreading. But we are dumping radioactive water, and we feel very sorry about this."

Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.

But the stress of announcing more bad news appears to wearing on officials with the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Co. One official teared up and his voice began shaking as he gave details at a news conference near the plant.

The crisis has unfolded as Japan deals with the aftermath of twin natural disasters that devastated much of its northeastern coast. Up to 25,000 people are believed to have died and tens of thousands lost their homes.

Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles (20 kilometers) have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.

The pooling water has damaged systems and the radiation hazard has prevented workers from getting close enough to power up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.

On Saturday, they discovered a leak where radioactive water was pouring into the ocean.

Radiation exceeding the legal limit has been measured in seawater over the past few weeks, though calculating the exact contamination has vexed TEPCO. Japan's nuclear safety agency ordered the utility last week to reanalyze samples; new results released Monday showed unchanged or lower levels of radiation than previously reported.

The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation.

"We think releasing water with low levels of radiation is preferable to allowing water with high levels of radiation to be released into the environment," said Junichi Matsumoto, a TEPCO official.

The need to make room for the highly radioactive water became more urgent when TEPCO discovered the extent to which it was leaking into the ocean, Matsumoto said.

Workers need to get rid of the highly radioactive water, but first they need somewhere safe to put it. Much of the less-radioactive water being dumped into the sea is from the tsunami and had accumulated in a nuclear waste storage building.

The building is not meant to hold water, but it's also not leaking, so engineers decided to empty it so they can pump in the more-radioactive water. The rest of the water going into the sea is coming from a trench beneath two of the plant's six reactors.

Also Monday, a spokesman for the Russian nuclear agency Rosatom, Sergei Novikov, told reporters that Japan had requested Russia send it a vessel used to dispose of liquid nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines.

Novikov said Moscow was awaiting the answers to some questions before granting the request.

More water keeps pooling because TEPCO has been forced to rely on makeshift methods of bringing down temperatures and pressure by pumping water into the reactors and allowing it to gush out wherever it can. It is a messy process, but it is preventing a full meltdown of the fuel rods that would release even more radioactivity into the environment.

"We must keep putting water into the reactors to cool to prevent further fuel damage, even though we know that there is a side effect, which is the leakage," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency. "We want to get rid of the stagnant water and decontaminate the place so that we can return to our primary task to restore the sustainable cooling capacity as quickly as possible."

Engineers have been using unusual methods to try to stop the more highly radioactive water from leaking into the sea.

Yemenis hold largest protest yet against leader

SANAA, Yemen –  Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis packed a square in the capital and marched in villages and cities across the nation on Friday in what appeared to be the largest demonstrations in more than a month of demands the country's longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh step down.

Youth leaders said they planned a march in the direction of the heavily guarded presidential palace.

Many mosques in the capital shut down — a move unprecedented for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer — as worshippers and clerics streamed to the square outside Sanaa University.

Protesters filled the plaza and spilled out along three adjoining streets. Previous demonstrations have taken up the square and at most two of the streets that feed into it.

The demonstrators set up tents and hung up posters of young men who were fatally shot by government forces during previous protests.

In a parallel demonstration, tens of thousands of government supporters rallied to al-Sabaeen Square outside the presidential palace, where Saleh made a brief speech, telling them, "With my blood and soul, I redeem you," a common chant in the Arab world.

Saleh has ruled Yemen for 32 years. He warns that if he is ousted, Yemen will descend into chaos, boosting the al-Qaida presence already in the country.

On Friday evening, two local newspaper reporters and a television cameraman were detained by security forces, according to Gamal Anaam, member of the Yemeni journalists' union. A security official declined to comment.

Security forces also seized a close aide to Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a top military commander and longtime confidant of the president who joined the opposition. The aide, Abdul-Ghani al-Shimiri, who is al-Ahmar's political and media assistant, was detained outside his Sanaa home Friday and is being held by the National Security agency, according to a statement by al-Ahmar's office.

Al-Ahmar's was the most significant in a wave of defections from Saleh's regime by military commanders, ruling party members and others, swelling the ranks of the opposition and leaving him isolated. Al-Ahmar, commander of the powerful 1st Armored Division, deployed his troops at the central square, where demonstrators gather.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. was concerned about the situation in Yemen but insisted counterterrorism cooperation was continuing between the two countries.

"It's not something that's directed at one person," Toner said, describing counterterrorism efforts as the top U.S. priority in the country. "It's ongoing cooperation with the government of Yemen."

Still, he said the U.S. wanted resolution to the unrest in Yemen and stressed that Saleh has made concessions. Demonstrators also have made movements, "but they need to obviously come together and forge a way forward," he said.

Saleh escalated his confrontation with the rapidly expanding uprising a week ago, taking on emergency powers that give him a freer hand to quell protests. Parliament, which is packed with his supporters, passed a 30-day state of emergency that suspends the constitution, bars protests and gives security forces far-reaching powers of arrest.

In another development, plainclothes militias were seen taking up positions around the capital. An army officer said the militias are under the command of Saleh's son and are designed to be deployed quickly to trouble spots. He spoke under condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In a failed attempt to appease the protesters, Saleh offered not to run again when his current term ends in 2013. He then offered to step down by the end of this year and open a dialogue with the leaders of the demonstrators.

Protesters rejected all his offers, furious after his security forces shot dead more than 40 demonstrators in Sanaa last month.

On Friday, there were anti-Saleh protests in at least 14 other provinces around the country. Witnesses said hundreds of thousands of people attended demonstrations in the provinces of Aden, Taaz, and Hadramout.

The Sanaa crowd was supported by soldiers with anti-aircraft guns and Kalashnikov rifles, who set up half a dozen checkpoints around the square to prevent intrusions by president's loyalists.

Protesters, who have called for a "Friday of Salvation," raised black cards while chanting "Ali Leave!" Women and children, their faces painted in the colors of the Yemeni flag, or the word "Leave," joined the protests.

Cleric Taha al-Moutawkel told the crowd during afternoon prayers that Saleh's regime was already collapsing, and he vowed that the protests will remain peaceful.

"Whenever they threaten us, we will face their tanks with our bare chests," he said. "Saleh is over and he knows that, but he is betting that people will eventually run out of patience."

He said that even if the West backs Saleh, the people will keep pushing for his ouster.

"If the president's popular legitimacy plunges, no any power in the West or the East can bring him back," he said.

The demonstrators blame Saleh for mismanagement, repression and the fatal shootings of protesters. They say they will not relent until he goes.

Another pilot arrested for using forged marksheets

New Delhi:  One more pilot has been arrested in the capital for allegedly using forged marksheets to procure a licence from the country's airline regulator.

A senior Delhi police official said Abhinav Kaushik from private airline Indigo, has been arrested for using forged marksheets to procure a licence from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Delhi Police had last month arrested two pilots for the same offence while two others were apprehended in Jaipur.

The city police had arrested Parwinder Kaur Gulati of Indigo and J K Verma of Air India while their Jaipur counterparts had apprehended Anoop Choudhury and Amit Moondra of Spice Jet for the similar offence.

In the wake of the fake pilot scare, licenses of 3,000 to 4,000 pilots are being scrutinised by the DGCA.

The fake pilot licence issue assumed a worrying proportion after Gulati - a commander with IndiGo was found faking her marksheet to obtain Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), which allows a pilot to become the commander of an aircraft.

Gulati was arrested by police after the DGCA filed a complaint against her, but was later released on bail.

Moderate quake rocks India-Nepal border region

NEW DELHI - A MODERATE 5.7-magnitude earthquake shook the Nepal-India border region on Monday with tremors felt as far away as the Indian capital of New Delhi.

The epicentre of the quake was in the border region between Nepal and India, a seismologist at the Indian Meteorological Department told AFP.

The quake struck at a depth of 10km, he said.

'It was a moderate quake... with a shallow to moderate focal depth,' said the official, who asked not to be identified.

No damage or casualties were immediately reported.

The tremor was also felt in two towns in far western Nepal, Dhangadi and Mahendranagar, Nepal's private Avenues Television reported. -- AFP

Working Mother - Easing the guilt

It's not easy being working mother. Not only do you have to deal with the anxiety of being separated from your child, you also have to put up with judgement from wider society about what makes a good mum.

Then there are the (ungrounded) fears that childcare is damaging to children or that a child will love their nanny more than you.

But while mother guilt may be part and parcel of parenthood, there are ways to lessen the burden you might be feeling.

Remember why you work
Go back to the thought process you went through while making the decision to return to work. Was it to help pay the mortgage? To send the children to a good school? To keep your qualifications up-to-date? To gain some 'me time' or save up for a dream vacation? There is no 'right' answer, but the point is, at some point you made a logical decision that working was the best decision for your family. Have faith that your decision was the right one.

Are you happy with your child's current carer?
Underlying feelings of guilt may be doubt about the quality of care your child is receiving. If you feel that their current environment is not the right one, perhaps it's time to think of different options, such as the one-to-one care that a nanny provides. Or if you have some concerns about your current nanny, now is the time to book a meeting to discuss those concerns. No-one else will care for your child exactly the way you will but that's OK. They will have other skills and attributes that your child will enjoy. Even for a working parent, your child's happiness is your number one priority.

Re-evaluate your working conditions
Perhaps it's not the job but the conditions making work unenjoyable for you. Australian laws state that employers must seriously consider requests for flexible work arrangements from staff members who hold parent or carer responsibilities. Could your working day start and finish earlier, or perhaps you could work four longer days instead of five shorter ones? Many workplaces also allow an employee to work from home at least one day per week. For parents of young children, flexible work hours may be worth a small drop in income.

Make weekends fun
Many working parents find that their weekends are quickly swallowed up by an avalanche of cleaning duties, shopping errands and garden maintenance, adding further guilt about the time spent having fun with their children.

Is there some time each weekend to lock away as non-negotiable family time? Perhaps it's a special Sunday morning pancake-fest, or board games after Saturday night dinner. Having a few special rituals each week helps families to bond.

Some jobs, like watering the garden or washing the car, are activities every member of the family can join in and enjoy - especially if they end in a water fight!

Remember that it won't be forever
Whatever guilt you're feeling now won't last forever. Children grow up, careers change, family dynamics shift. The truth is you won't be there to witness every waking moment of your child's life. Focus instead on the positive things you bring to the family, and on being a happy and well-rounded mum. Surround yourself with positive people who support your working arrangements.

Final word goes to Life coach Gail Kauranen Jones, author of To Hell and Back . . . Healing Your Way Through Transition.

"I don't know one mother who doesn't feel guilty about the times she thinks she has failed her child," she writes.

"The key is to be able to acknowledge the feeling for what it is and to learn from it. When you let go of the guilt, you can actually be a better, more relaxed mother."

Land, job, car? India cashes in

TO THE 11 men who won India the Cricket World Cup comes the thanks of a grateful nation.

In the euphoria of India's win, it seems all 1.21 billion people in this massive country have a tribute in the form of a house, car, stadium, honorary degree or tens of millions of rupees.

These were already well-paid, well-cared-for men, each with lucrative endorsements and revered as semi-deities the length and breadth of the country. But the largesse of this ecstatic nation knows no bounds.

None of India's cricketers catch trains. And they have less need now every team member has been given a car by Hyundai (and man of the tournament Yuvraj Singh a second from Audi).

But in case the urge to ride the rails overwhelms, India's Railways Ministry has announced lifetime first-class rail passes for the team, pointing out in its press release that the players are entitled to travel in the airconditioned carriage.

A builder in Rajkot is giving each member of the squad a plot of land, including South African coach Gary Kirsten, even though he's leaving.

And Air India, which ''employs'' four cricketers as deputy managers of offices around the country, has announced they will now be promoted to managers.

''All of them are our regular employees and attend office regularly when they are not playing,'' an airlines spokesman said, without confirming whether they had come to work yesterday.

Meanwhile, a grateful real employer, the unimaginably wealthy Board of Control for Cricket in India, not to be outshone, announced a bonus of 10 million rupees ($A211,500) for each player. State governments across the country are shrewdly rediverting taxpayer dollars to India's most precious resource.

The Chief Minister of Karnataka has promised a residential plot in the capital Bangalore for each team member, and most state governments have offered their home-town players cash gifts of between 10 million and 20 million rupees.

The state of Uttarakhand has promised another plot of land or a house for adored batsman Sachin Tendulkar and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and a host of players have been awarded state honours and medals.

The inscrutable Dhoni, who won the final with a towering six, is the focus of much of the munificence.

He's been recommended for an honorary doctorate by a minister from his home state of Jharkhand, while the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand has promised to build a stadium in his honour.

Famously cool under pressure, and a deeply spiritual man, Dhoni has taken the victory in stride. He appeared for photos the morning after the final with his head shaved. He politely declined to explain, but it was reported that before the tournament his guru told him to cut off his hair between 2.45am and 3am after the final as an offering.

Long-term, this victory has set the players up to make more money, through endorsements. Dhoni's asking price per product is likely to nearly double to 100 million rupees a year. Tendulkar can command 60 million rupees an endorsement.

''This team has reached a different level, the emotional connect will be huge … the rates are northward bound for most of the key players,'' sports marketing consultant Mahesh Ranka told The Times of India.

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