Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Breakthrough: The Chicken-Egg Conundrum

London, Jul 14 (PTI) -- It's the age-old question that has puzzled the finest minds for thousands of years -- which came first: The chicken or the egg?
Now, scientists claim to have finally discovered the answer to the conundrum -- it's the chicken which came first.
A team from University of Sheffield and University of Warwick has found that a protein called ovocleidin (OC-17) is crucial in the formation of eggshells. It is produced in the pregnant hen's ovaries so the correct reply to the egg riddle must be that the chicken came first, the scientists say.
However, the research does not come up with how the protein-producing chicken existed in the first place, the 'Daily Express' reported.
"Nature has found innovative solutions that work for all kinds of problems in materials science and technology. We learn a lot from them," said Prof John Harding, a member of the research team.
Calcite crystals are found in numerous bones and shells but chickens form them quicker than any other species, creating six grams (0.2oz) of shell every 24 hours. Once the shell has formed, the chicken expels the egg.

(Thank God for eggs!!!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

South Asian workers--mostly Muslims--face severe hardships while working in Saudi Arabia. Their Arab employers not only mistreat them, but also make them toil under extremely harsh conditions. While implemeting their strict interpretation of Wahabi Islam, the religious establishment in Saudi Arabia has forgotten about the basic humanity inherent in the religion. Islam being a religion in which a Muslim invokes a 'merciful' God many times each day. So, it’s hardly surprising that a thorough reading of Islamic scriptures should throw up this basic fact.

Forcing workers to toil in heat is anti-Islamic: Saudi scholar

Dubai, Jul 12 (PTI) A top Saudi cleric has said that forcing labourers to work in the hot summer sun is forbidden in Islam and contradicts the basic objectives of the Sharia law.
Ali bin Abbas Al Hakami, member of the Board of Senior Ulema and member of the Supreme Judicial Council in Saudi Arabia, denounced those who give scant respect to this basic philosophy of Islamic Sharia and force labourers to toil in oppressive heat.
Thousands of foreign workers, including a large number of Indians, work in Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries and have been the key component of the construction boom in the region.
Al Hakami said Islam orders everyone to be kind and considerate to labourers who are in the lowest strata of society.
"If a worker is not strong enough to carry out a given task, he should be provided with another worker to help him rather than forcing him to do the work alone," he said in a statement.
According to Al Hakami, the state has issued a regulation banning labourers from being forced to work outdoors in extreme summer temperatures and the law will be implemented next year.
He stressed the necessity for individuals, companies and establishments and all sectors to comply with the directives and implement them.
He said if a worker suffers harm due to working in unsuitable conditions, then he has the right to take his case to a court of law.
If it is proven that the employer had forced the worker to work beyond his capacity or in very high temperatures, then the judge can issue a verdict to compensate the worker. "If a worker's death is due to sunstroke as a result of being forced to work in the hot sun and there is proof of this, then the dead worker’s family can demand blood-money," he said.
Al Hakami said being considerate of labourers and the conditions in which they are forced to work is not restricted to a specific season; it should continue throughout the year.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Lovesick ? Get Help, You Junkie!

Washington, July 8 (PTI) Ever wondered why some people pine over their lost love for long? Scientists say it is because romantic rejection triggers the same effect on brain akin to kicking an addiction.
The study, the first to examine the brains of the heartbroken people, found that imagination of their former partners activate their brain region associated with addiction cravings, control of emotions, feelings of attachment and physical pain and distress.
The results provide insight into why it might be hard for some people to get over a break up and why some people take extreme steps like committing homicide and suicide, the researchers said.
"Romantic love is an addiction," said study author Helen E Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey
"It’s a very powerfully wonderful addiction when things are going well and a perfectly horrible addiction when things are going poorly," she was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
For their study, the researchers scanned the brains of 15 college-aged volunteers (10 women and 5 men) who had all recently experienced a break up, but were still in love with the person who had rejected them.
The average length of the relationship was about two years, and about two months had passed since the relationship ended.
In the experiment, participants were shown images of their former lovers and asked to recall memories of their time together. As a comparison, their brain activity was also measured when they looked at neutral images of acquaintances.
Researchers found that when shown pictures of a former loved one, the brain reacted in the the ventral tegmental area, associated with "motivation and reward."
When confronted with photos of those who had jilted them, the subjects' brains also responded in regions known as the nucleus accumbens and orbitofrontal/prefrontal cortex. These parts of the brain are typically associated with intense addiction to cocaine and addiction to cigarettes.
All participants scored high on the "Passionate Love Scale" -- a questionnaire psychologists use to measure the intensity of romantic feelings. Participants also said they spent more than 85 per cent of their waking hours thinking about their rejecter.
The researchers believe that the brain's response to romantic rejection may have an evolutionary basis.
"I think the brain circuitry for romantic love evolved millions of years ago, to enable our ancestors to focus their mating energy on just one person at a time and start that mating process," Fisher said.
"And when you've been rejected in love, you have lost life's greatest prize, which is a mating partner."
"This brain system becomes activated probably to help you try to win this person back so you focus on them and crave them and try to get them back," she said.
The results were published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurophysiology.

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