Wednesday, January 16, 2008

News round-up

I understand that the orange colour of the carrot is the result of Dutch cultivation in the 17th Century, when patriotic growers turned a vegetable which was then purple into the colour of the national flag.

How terrible. Was the orange also purple in colour originally? Imagine having purple juice every morning. And, imagine if a patriotic Indian had attempted a tri-colour carrot. Having two red Karats in the CPI is bad enough.

Anyway, scientists in the US say they have created a genetically-engineered carrot that provides extra calcium.

They hope that adding the vegetable to a normal diet could help ward off conditions such as brittle bone disease and osteoporosis in older women.

However, don’t start taking calcium based on above study because calcium supplements may increase the risk of a heart attack in older women, New Zealand research suggests. The University of Auckland team followed 1,471 healthy postmenopausal women for five years. Each woman either took a daily calcium supplement, or a dummy pill. Heart attacks were more common in the group who took the supplements.

But, don’t stop taking calcium on the basis of this report. Anyone who has been advised by their doctor to take calcium supplements to protect their bones should not stop doing so in light of this study alone without medical advice, says Judy O'Sullivan, British Heart Foundation.

Good news elsewhere on the medical front. Finally, a drug has been approved for the treatment of Fibromyalgia. And now the bad news. Such a disease may not exist

India walks out of agreement ,with Australia, of trusting the fielder's word on contentious low catches. In retaliation, Australia reversed its earlier decision to sell uranium to India. (Source) as the latter had not signed the non-proliferation treaty. Should Indians try to hit back by injecting bacteria from cows into the intestines of kangaroos?

Meanwhile, the Americans are also bad-mouthing the Indians. Here is a comparison of quality of engineers from American and Indian universities. “Dozens of employers asked to compare American engineers to their much-vaunted colleagues from India and China agreed that “in education, training, quality of work, you name it, in every which way, Americans are better.” Even the best schools in those countries “don’t hold a candle to our best schools,” he continues. Newly hired American university graduates “become productive within 30 days or so. If you hire a graduate of an Indian university, it takes between 3 and 6 months for them to become productive.”

But, before recruiting Americans, bear in mind that many Americans remain ignorant about much of science,. Many are unable to answer correctly when asked whether Earth moves around the Sun (it does).


Revathi said...

I am surprised with NY times report. My daughter seems to know much more than I ever did in her age, excluding the rote memory multiplication tables. It has all been taught to her in school and never my initiative. I wonder how these reports of dumb Americans come by. Especially when I did my MBA in Univ. of Texas I could actually admire AMERICAN business intelligence.

Raj said...

Revathi,you sound so 'earnest' there, whereas I was merely sharing my amusement over the fact that, in 15 minutes of scanning of my Google Reader, I was confronted with many contradictory reports. Calcium is good, says one. Bad, says another on the same day. Americans are bright, says one. No, they don't even know that Earth goes around the Sun, says another.

I assure you that I don't subscribe to such sweeping generalisations that some of these reports make. You can't classify an entire nation as bright or dumb. And, why bring nationalism at all, in the first place?

But, about the note on your daughter. You compare yourself in India twenty years back and your daughter in the US now and state that she knows so much more than you did at her age. It will be equally true if you were to bring up your daughter in India today. I was goign through my daughter's 12th std portions, and I couldn't make head or tail of it!

Unknown said...

let me add my 20 cents to the confusion.. why add 2 when adding 20 is more fun, I say..

when I was a new grad student, I used to drink extra calcium orange juice instead of water.. the concept of a tropicana pure premium orange juice available in my fridge at all times was like being in heaven... in six months ended up in the hospital for a small kidney stone..

doc's advice "stop eating any extra calcium. you really dont need it considering you drink a lot of milk"!


Raj said...

sundar, I guess docs with either tell you to start doing what you are not doign now, or stop doing what you are doing now.

Revathi said...

ha ha ha.

it is true about that '20' years gap in education system brings sweeping changes.

Anonymous said...

Patient: This problem of mine ... still persists
Doctor : Well, have a glass of milk before you turn in every night
Patient: But doctor, it was only 2 weeks ago that u expressly forbade me from drinking milk, esp. at night.
Doctor : Yes no doubt, but please understand that we have made phenomenal progress in the last 2 weeeks.

Usha said...

You have to take all these findings and reports with a pinch of salt. On the other hand studies reveal that intake of salt can raise your BP, increase water retention etc.
So....aiyo mandai vedikum pola irukke.

Raj said...

revathy, yes, it does. I find that I am good enough only for the 8th standard now. I will definitely flunk the 9th std exams, if I were to write it today.

Sankar, good one. But since your comment, things have changed again. Now the advice is to avoid milk.

usha, good one again.