SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Albert Einstein was a smart guy. Everybody knows that. But was there something about the structure of his brain that made it special?
Scientists have been trying to answer that question ever since his death. Previously unpublished photographs of Einstein's brain taken soon after he died were analyzed last week in the journal Brain. The images and the paper provide a more complete anatomical picture and may help shed light on his genius.
Every brain has unique nooks and crannies. Aside from sheer curiosity, examining Einstein's brain could yield scientifically valuable insights. "There are strong links between variation in brain anatomy and variations in intellectual ability, period," says Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario.
The story of how the photographs turned up is interesting in itself. In the hours after Einstein's death in 1955, the autopsy pathologist, Thomas Harvey, took dozens of photographs and dissected the physicist's brain into 240 parts for preservation. Harvey's lab made slides for future study. (For more, see Jon Hamilton's "Einstein's Brain Unlocks Some Mysteries Of The Mind.")
Beginning in the 1980s, researchers started asking Harvey for samples — photos, slides and preserved blocks of the actual brain. Observations began to trickle out. In 1999, Harvey and Witelson discovered that not only did Einstein have abnormally wide parietal lobes — associated with math, vision and spatial perception — he also lacked a groove that runs through that region. Their hypothesis: No groove means more connectivity between neurons.
Over the years, researchers have tried to glean a few facts from whatever samples and photographs they could acquire. In 2009, anthropologist Dean Falk, of Florida State University in Tallahassee, noticed that Einstein had unusually patterned parietal lobes and a structural quirk in his brain common in string players and linked to musical ability. But she just had a handful of photos previously published by Witelson to go on.
Harvey died in 2007. His estate donated a special collection of slide and photo specimens and a road map of the brain to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md., in 2010. For the first time, Falk and her colleagues had access to a more complete set of evidence.
So what did they find? Well, they analyzed 14 of these photographs and compared the visible parts of Einstein's outer brain with 85 human brains previously described in scientific studies. "Einstein's brain differs from the average human brain," says Falk. "In various parts, it's more convoluted. It's bumpier, and that may be related to an increase in the neurons."
The museum released an iPad app to view the slides back in September.
Witelson says the new analysis and photos may encourage other scientists to take a crack at Einstein's brain. "Einstein's aura lives on," she says.– www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) —Antiretroviral therapy, in the past considered a miracle only available to HIV patients in the West, is no longer scarce in many of the poorest parts of the world. Pills are cheaper and easier to access, and HIV is not the same killer that once left thousands of orphaned children in sub-Saharan Africa.
But Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, remains a special case. Kept in the dark for so many decades by its reclusive ruling junta, this country of 60 million did not reap the same international aid as other needy nations. Heavy economic sanctions levied by countries such as the United States, along with virtually nonexistent government health funding, left an empty hole for medicine and services. Today, Myanmar ranks among the world's hardest places to get HIV care, and health experts warn it will take years to prop up a broken health system hobbled by decades of neglect.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — You're tired, unproductive and slowly feel your eyes and body dropping down face first onto your keyboard. It's the mid-day slump and you feel like you can't do a thing about it.
One common cause of afternoon tiredness can be eating large meals during lunch, according to Kristie Leong in an article for Yahoo News.
"When too much food is consumed during lunch hour, more blood gets diverted to the intestines to help digest your meal which can leave you feeling drained and unmotivated," she said in the article.
Other sources point to our biological clock. Just as we get increasingly tired as we get ready for bed, our biological clocks can also make us feel tired in the afternoon, according to Healthy Alberta. When it gets darker outside, our body temperatures tend to drop and a hormone called melatonin is released. This change in hormone levels also occurs around 3 p.m., making us sluggish right in the middle of the work day.
But there are quick ways to change your energy levels in a matter of minutes. Eating foods that are high in minerals and vitamins like coconut, yogurt and oranges can all help with overcoming a mid-day crash. Squeezing in a few stretches or taking a walk during your lunch break are also easy ways to keep you energized and motivated.
Change Your Socks:
This one's easy: leave an extra pair of socks in your desk. According to Greg Go, co-author of 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget, changing your socks midway through the day (like after a long walk or lunch break) will instantly make you feel more fresh.
Listen To Music:
Just think about your favourite song and how good it makes you feel. Listening to music in the middle of the day can also boost your energy levels. “Brain-imaging techniques have linked music and its effects on our nervous system to improved mood and well-being,” says Jim Karas, a co-author of The 7-Day Energy Surge for RealSimple.com.
Do A Little Venting:
Get up and walk over to the water cooler for a quick chit-chat break. Mid-day banter or venting sessions with co-workers is a good way to get your mind off being stressed at work.
Wear Bright Colours:
Take your bright oranges, yellows and neons to the office. Wearing lighter coloured clothing and accessories at work (yes, avoid the black, no matter how serious it makes you look) can give you an instant boost of energy in less than five minutes, according to Marie Claire.
Get Your Flirt On:
An innocent flirting session won't do anything but boost your energy levels. According to an article in Marie Claire,fun and harmless compliments and pick-me-ups between co-workers will get your heart pumping and brain moving again — just be careful not to cross any lines.
Play A Game:
Now, we don't want you to spend the rest of your afternoon browsing games on Facebook or playing Sudoku, but adding in a mental challenge mid-day will help you exercise your brain.
Wash Your Face:
If it works in the morning, it should work in the afternoon. If you're feeling drowsy or sleepy in the afternoon, splash some cold water onto your face for an instant energy boost.
Crack A Joke:
Laughing not only reduces stress, but it's also known to improve your immune system, according to NowLoss.com. And hey, a good joke can always put a smile on someone else's face.
Squeeze In Some Gym Time:
If your company offers a gym membership or has an in-house gym, try working out during your lunch break for an instant energy rush. If your office space doesn't include a gym space, try these 10 exercises that can keep you fit during work hours.
Roll Your Toes:
You could do this right at your desk. Take off your shoes (and socks if you wish) and roll your toes in a circular motion or use one foot to massage the other for a quick hit of energy. "Massaging your toes can stimulate your brain to produce fatigue-fighting hormones called endorphins," according to iVillage.ca.
Have Something To Look Forward To:
Got big dinner plans or a date after work? Making plans for post-work hours or having something to look forward to — even a vacation months away — are easy ways to help keep you focused and excited throughout your day.
Try sniffing a citrus-scented candle or even lotion at work for an energizing afternoon. Or you can add a slice of lemon to your water or have an orange as a snack, according to RealSimple.com
De-Clutter Your Desk:
Tired of looking at the stacks of files or newspapers on your desk? Start your afternoon by cleaning up and de-cluttering your desk will not only give you a new view, but can also help you feel better and more energized after challenging yourself to complete a task, according to writer Mary McNeil.— www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Shying away from financial services that do not conform to their faith, British Muslims are now getting a new service to help them manage their finances in line with Islamic Shari`ah.
“Many of the traditional UK financial products involve receipt or payment of interest and as such are considered Haram (unlawful) for Muslims,” Shabab Gulfraz, financial consultant with Ummah Financial Planning, told Yorkshire Post on Tuesday, August 14.
“When looking at their financial arrangements, Muslims need also to consider how their money is invested and what drives the returns they are receiving.”
A new service financial service, called Ummah Financial Planning, has been launched by the accountants and business advisers Garbutt & Elliott in Yorkshire to help Muslims manage their finances in line with Shari`ah.
“There are very few specialist intermediaries in this market,” said Simon Holt, the managing director of Ummah Financial Planning.
“We want Ummah Financial Planning to go national, but initially the business will be based in Yorkshire.
“There are between two and three million Muslims in the UK, and around 25 to 30 percent of them live in West Yorkshire.”
Holt said the idea came after seeing that many Muslims could be steered away from financial services because of the absence of Shari`ah-compliant financial services.
“I worked alongside a Muslim scholar for nearly three years, supporting him in his work to bring more ethical financial products to Muslims in the UK and overseas,” Holt said.
“During this time, I realized that Muslims need specialist financial advice firms to be established which understand the culture, values and beliefs of the faith.
“This is where the idea for Ummah Financial Planning came from.”
The new financial service was issued after months of consultations with the Muslim community.
“The Ummah team have spent time consulting with the community to seek their advice on how best to engage with Muslims and brought in a specialist Muslim consultant to lead this work for them,” said Gulfraz, the financial consultant with Ummah Financial Planning.
“Many ISA, PEP, unit trusts and pension funds invest money in a mix of different assets including equities (shares), property, gilts (loans to the Government), corporate bonds (loans to companies) and cash (gilts, corporate bonds and cash are all interest bearing).
“Although these funds are professionally managed by teams of investment managers whose aim is to maximize the returns and create profit; they are often Haram (unlawful) for Muslims as they generate some of their profits from interest or investment into un-Islamic activities,” he said.
Islam forbids Muslims from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans.
Islamic banks and finance institutions cannot receive or provide funds for anything involving alcohol, gambling, pornography, tobacco, weapons or pork.
Shari`ah-compliant financing deals resemble lease-to-own arrangements, layaway plans, joint purchase and sale agreements, or partnerships.
Investors have a right to know how their funds are being used, and the sector is overseen by dedicated supervisory boards as well as the usual national regulatory authorities.
The launch of the new financial service in Britain was timed to coincide with the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“Throughout this month, Muslims from all countries unite in a period of fasting and spiritual reflection,” Gulfraz said.
“All Muslims will spend time in this month reflecting on their individual faith and practices and reading from the Qur’an, with the aim of improving and strengthening themselves in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
“Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking. Muslims are called upon to use this month to re-evaluate their lives in light of Islamic guidance. Towards the end of this blessed month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to pay a fixed portion of their wealth to charity. When calculating the amount to pay, Muslims will take a detailed look at their financial arrangements.”
Britain is home to a Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.
Britain is the only country in the European Union to have Islamic banks. It is also developing its takaful market for Islamic insurance.
It also has a strong foothold in developing products such as commodity murabaha – Islam’s version of interbank short-term lending and syndicated loans..—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: On Islam
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — NASA's Mars rover Curiosity will spend its first weekend on Mars getting a "brain transplant," which will occur during a series of steps Aug. 10 through Aug. 13. NASA/JPL will download a new version of software on both of the rover's redundant main computers. This software for Mars surface operations was uploaded to the rover's memory during the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft's flight from Earth.
"We designed the mission from the start to be able to upgrade the software as needed for different phases of the mission," said Ben Cichy of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., chief software engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. "The flight software version Curiosity currently is using was really focused on landing the vehicle. It includes many capabilities we just don't need any more. It gives us basic capabilities for operating the rover on the surface, but we have planned all along to switch over after landing to a version of flight software that is really optimized for surface operations."
A key capability in the new version is image processing to check for obstacles. This allows for longer drives by giving the rover more autonomy to identify and avoid potential hazards and drive along a safe path the rover identifies for itself. Other new capabilities facilitate use of the tools at the end of the rover's robotic arm.
While Curiosity is completing the software transition, the mission's science team is continuing to analyze images the rover has taken of its surroundings inside Gale Crater. Researchers are discussing which features in the scene to investigate after a few weeks of initial checkouts and observations to assess equipment on the rover and characteristics of the landing site.
The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 10:31:45 p.m. PDT on Aug. 5 (1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6), which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light.
Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.
To handle this science toolkit, Curiosity is twice as long and five times as heavy as Spirit or Opportunity. The Gale Crater landing site at 4.59 degrees south, 137.44 degrees east, places the rover within driving distance of layers of the crater's interior mountain. Observations from orbit have identified clay and sulfate minerals in the lower layers, indicating a wet history.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Daily Galaxy
SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) —SHAFAQNQ (Shia News Association) - Kenneth Waltz, a professor at Columbia University in New York and at the University of California at Berkeley, has long advocated the view nuclear weapons bring stability to the world, acting as a deterrent to war.
But eyebrows were raised when his provocative essay - "Why Iran should get the bomb" - appeared as the cover story in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs, long seen as an influential establishment journal.
This week the US congress will vote to tighten dramatically economic sanctions on Iran amid growing impatience at the failure of President Barack Obama's administration to halt Tehran's nuclear program.
A leaked Pentagon assessment has warned Iran continued to "make large strides" and could be just three years from testing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking US soil. "The threat from Iran is real," John Boehner, the Republican House Speaker, said.
Professor Waltz insists that "the danger of a nuclear Iran has been grossly exaggerated" and argues allowing Iran to go nuclear "would probably be the best possible result; the one most likely to restore stability to the Middle East".
He claims Iran's leaders are not irrational, as often portrayed, and that far from being emboldened they would be less bellicose if they acquired nuclear weapons for fear of sparking a nuclear conflict.
Professor Waltz cited as an example long-time enemies India and Pakistan, which fought three wars prior to acquiring the bomb but had "both become more cautious since going nuclear".
He also rejected the argument that if Iran obtained nuclear weapons a regional arms race would follow, with Saudi Arabia seeking the bomb. When ”Israel” acquired its bomb in the 1960s, he said, it did not trigger an escalation even though it was at war with many neighbours.
It is a view with few supporters in Washington.
"If Ken Waltz were a democracy activist living in Tehran or a mother of three living in Tel Aviv or Abu Dhabi he'd probably think differently about the prudence of an Iranian bomb," said Karim Sadjadpour, Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "He has the luxury of theorising from thousands of miles away."
Michael Singh, director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, another foreign policy think tank, pointed out that the Saudis had said explicitly they would pursue a nuclear weapons program if Iran acquired one.
He also rejected the South Asian example, pointing out that the bomb, far from having restrained Pakistan, appeared to have emboldened it to support terror attacks in India.
Although Iran has repeatedly declared that its nuclear program is peaceful and it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons, it is enriching uranium to higher levels.
Most experts believe Iran has not yet made a decision on whether to go ahead and is 12-18 months away from a bomb were it to decide to pursue that option.
Source: The Sunday time