Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You walk through the tall weeds, stooping down. Your hind legs propel you smoothly, your fore-legs balance you correctly.

Your fur rustles in anticipation as you examine your prey from a distance. It moves slowly and sluggishly but it can be fast as needed.

You edge toward it as your father taught you, making little noise.

It doesn’t notice you.

You circle to the left, gliding out of the tall weeds and into the tall grass. The green, unshorn grass crackles and bristles beneath you as you motion forward as your keen sense of hearing alerts you to the presence of something behind you.

You glance backward; your slanted eyes take in a human visage. You pay no attention to the witless thing and move on, blinking as you readjust to the light of the field in front of you.

You circle back into the weeds, traversing slowly back and forth toward the creature.

Now you’re within ten yards of it.

You can almost taste its warm blood in your mouth as you near it. A few more yards and you’ll be ready to pounce.

You move ever forward, keeping as prostrate as possible. As you move into the next yard a manicured lawn appears beneath your feet. You dodge it because it offers you no cover and dash behind the nearest tree.

You circle around the diminutive grass and traverse into the weeds.

Now you’re behind it.

Approaching cautiously, you wait. It turns, nearly seeing you rustling behind it.
You get a slight chill as you move into the thicker weeds, just in case you aroused his suspicion.

Hunting was strenuous when you were smaller, but now you’re skilled. Your eyes absorb the light outside the dim shadows, getting a better fix on your kill.

It looks straight into your eyes and you into its. Now is the time. Your powerful hind legs thrust you forward.

Being a feline has its advantages. Your front claws now extended, you grind them into the birds body on contact.

It certainly was the time.

The bird pecks at your face as you claw and bite your dinner. It pecks you with all of it’s might, but you swat it as though it was nothing. Finally the bird gives up the fight, allowing itself to be won as a meal.

You tear at it with your teeth. The warm blood trickles down your mouth and throat.

You savor the occasion.

You gnaw at it for a few minutes and then decide to show your trophy to your owners.

As you walk into your house, you notice one of the smaller humans making grotesque noises and flees at the sight of you. You continue to the eating hall and scratch at your masters leg, dropping the bird at her feet.

You’ll never understand why they shoo you out of the house with a broom whenever this happens.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Old memories may get the boot from new brain cells ...

A new rodent study shows that newborn neurons destabilize established connections among existing brain cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in learning and memory. Clearing old memories from the hippocampus makes way for new learning, researchers from Japan suggest in the November 13 Cell.

Other researchers had proposed the idea that neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons, could disrupt existing memories, but the Cell paper is the first to show evidence supporting the idea, says Paul Frankland, a neuroscientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Scientists have known that memories first form in the hippocampus and are later transferred to long-term storage in other parts of the brain. For some amount of time the memory resides both in the hippocampus and elsewhere in the brain. What’s not been known is how, after a few months or years, the memory is gradually cleared from the hippocampus.

Researchers have also debated the role of neurogenesis in learning and memory. The hippocampus is one of only two places in the adult brain where scientists know that new neurons form. On the basis of previous studies, many researchers think new neurons stabilize memory circuits or are somehow otherwise necessary to form new memories.

The new study suggests the opposite: Newborn neurons weaken or disrupt connections that encode old memories in the hippocampus.

Kaoru Inokuchi, a neuroscientist at the University of Toyama in Japan, and his colleagues used radiation and some genetic tricks to block neurogenesis in rats and mice that had been trained to fear getting a mild electric shock when placed in a particular cage.

Control animals, with normal neurogenesis, eventually were able to bypass their hippocampi and retrieve the fear memory directly from long-term storage. But animals in which neurogenesis had been blocked still depended on the hippocampus to recall the fear memory, the researchers found.

Running on an exercise wheel, which boosts neurogenesis, also sped the rate at which old memories were cleared from the hippocampus.

But that doesn’t mean new neurons aren’t necessary to teach old brains new tricks, says Inokuchi.

“Our findings do not necessarily deny the important role of neurogenesis in memory acquisition,” Inokuchi says. “Hippocampal neurogenesis could have both of these roles, in erasing old memories and acquiring new memories.”

Essentially, the new neurons may aid formation of new memories by keeping the hippocampus from filling up with old ones.

Frankland adds, “This is about as novel as it gets in the field of neurogenesis and memory. It pretty much represents an entirely new framework that other researchers will chip away at for years to come.”

Image Courtesy: Hippocampal neuron/NIH

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Habits fascinate me. They are the compound interest of life. Over time they become powerful forces, the currents that sweep you through your life's journey. They are behind much of your luck and karma, whether good or bad.

We, as people, are really nothing more than a collection of habits. (Just try to think of some aspect of yourself that doesn't ultimately boil down to some sort of habit.)

Common examples of the power of interest...

:Most people don't realize that the average person pays for their house 3 times due to interest.

:Mathematics graphically explain why you would be a millionaire if, rather than smoke, you put the money for 2 packs a day into long term investments. (a quick check on an the first compound interest calculator I found on google shows that about $5.5 per day at 9%(average return from stocks) over 50 years adds up to $2 Million.)

That same power is working a zillion times per day in our personal habits. Every little thing we do is usually part of a habit. It can be aimed at making life better or worse, or just aimed randomly.

Mathematics can also explain why your life would tend to be set back by major accidents if you made habits out of taking little safety shortcuts. For instance, let's say that every time you jay walk you have one chance in 10,000 of an accident. If you walk to and from work and end up jay walking 5 times per work day, that's 1000 times per year. In 5 years you have a 50/50 chance of being hit by a car during a jay walk. What if you do it for 30 years?

Multiply that by the countless little habits that make up our lives and...

WOW! We really do create our own luck.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The various types...

I have come across various people in my lifetime....err..I am sinfully young!!

But those people whom I have come across in my span of life; are true gems!! Few are such glitterati types that your eye hurts; and few are such dull heads that you mistake the gem for a chalk stone. I am one among them too; so no need to panic... It is absolutely normal. I am normal!!! Am I not??

OK, lets get to the meat; its delicious!!

The Omni Potent Ones

The ever powerful ones; everything under my control types. "Uh!! No worries!! This is just a child's play you see. I'll take care. That man is just my buddy. We shall talk it out". You smile for the first time in that day when it has been a drudgery; believing this soul. Aaaah, did you smile too fast? You only realize its all words and no cake; when you see this same person sweating and shivering in front of his so called buddy!!!

These people get a high by exalting themselves and thus satisfy their ego!!!

The Ever Knowing types

Who has not come across such species? The blowing trumpet types; "Oh I know this. Its so easy. You don't know?" Oh my!! Oh my!! Did you just highlight yourself by pulling me down?? Get back and say "Oh no; how sad. Not everyone is as lucky as you to be getting knowledge like manna falling from heaven straight into your brain!!" You defer all theories of radiation, don't you!!!

And look straight into their eyes.

The Prying Eagles

Oh no!! I just ended up insulting poor eagles by personifying them. Who wants to get related to humans, huh?? After all, they are those cunning and selfish creatures.
These group of people are always interested in what others are doing. Did I hear my eyes are open, my ears could hear so how could I avoid?? These are the dangerous lots; they build a wrong impression and propagate ideas about you that when you hear them, you would feel like hanging upside down.

The Been There, Done That types

"I have been there!! I witnessed it" Mind you, literally. These sort of people seem to be there at the right place, watch the right event and meet the right people. Whats there yet that they haven't laid their hands on?? There's nothing as such, if there is; its an insult. They could yap off and go on and on and on...But I really admire them; for their talent to weave stories.

The soothsayers

These are people who always nag you with "See, I told you so. I knew this would happen. You didn't listen to me". They tend to be omnipercipience; have a perception of everything. How to deal with these people??? They are such a pest with those waste warnings all the time. Simple. Adopt their method and whenever you get a chance; just give back "I told you so!!"

The Cribbers

Nope!! This is still about people and not about horses which practices cribbing. These set of people are ever complaining; never enthusiastic; always sad. Now how many of you are wondering if its you!! :-P These people encourage negative vibes and are a deviation. Best is to avoid them; else you would find cribbing about the cribber to everyone and then you are THE cribber; cribbers' cribber; Grand father of cribber....Err I stop before you guys crib!!

The Hic!! Hic!! types

Err, naughty minds. Its not about liquor. Those people who are always on high spirits. Too much is too bad after all. A heavy thud on your back and before you realise that something like a pain was inflicted; you have "Hey man!! Wasssuppppp!!!" Just give them a weary smile and then you have "Oh man!! Cheer up; don't worry!!" Excuse me Mr, when did I ever say I was worried? And how dare you ask me to cheer up after giving me a hard knock? Get out of my sight!!!

The Always Brooding types

These are the most boring people one could come across. Always perplexed; as if trying to solve a mighty issue that could save the world. Those who feel they are facing the worse problems in the whole world and no one cares. The ones who would seriously scratche their heads when the others are celebrating the weekend with a beer bash. They tend to behave as if they are the only ones struggling with huge responsibilities while others are partying. Give them this piece of advice - "Atlas is actually waiting beside you so that he can take back the burden of the world that you seem to have on your shoulders. Care to give his property back?"

The Calm Tornadoes

Geeeez....Calm and tornadoes? Yeah you read it right. These set of people are calm but devastating. They are vicious; yet put up a all good, sorry and 'I for Peace' face. But their intentions and plan always results in tornadoes.

I am so very fond of people that I could categorise for eons if left. Before parting; one final incident. You folks decide what category must this person fall into.

An American instructor training on a technical product. Group of students out of which one's accent changed the moment he noticed that the instructor was an American. Funny part was this guy's accent got back to normal during breaks; once inside the class, his accent transformed. One such conversation -

American - "One of our customers is Lamborghini"
Guy with an accent - "Lamborghini!!? Whats that?"
American - "They manufacture tractors and cars, Italian"
Guy with an accent - "Uh oh!!! I have never heard about it. I just know HMT and Mahindra & Mahindra"

:-S The whole class was in splits.

Which category to put this unique sample into?

Anyways, enough of bashing people folks. As I said; I can segregate and go on and on. Oh by the way don't forget to count the number of "Me too" as you read :-P

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yet another day when the free slack in my activities is allowing me to diverge from my critical path.

In other words, am a bit free today. So another one of the flashes....

Talked to some old friends after 4-5 years... Orkut-facebook is Great!! Felt amazing how the distances of years can be erased in minutes.... in the same world where minutes are deemed sufficient to wipe away an era of trust and friendship...

Sometimes, I feel whether it is wise to sit back and let life take its course or to take control of it...

Though a staunch advocate of the latter, right now I seem to be favoring the former. Just to see what happens, if for nothing else.

So for a while, life itself will decide. Unless of course, I revert back to my usual self, which I trust more than life, luck or destiny. I suspect I will...

Hoping against hope, but still hoping for the best...