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June 24, 2011


About Tata Jagriti Yatra

Tata Jagriti Yatra is an annual train journey that that takes hundreds of India's highly motivated youth (with some participation of international students) between the ages of 20-25 and experienced professionals with age above 25, on a eighteen day national odyssey, introducing them to unsung heroes of India. The aim is to awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship - both social and economic - within India's youth by exposing them to individuals and institutions that are developing unique solutions to India's challenges. Through this national event we have begun to inspire the youth of India to lead and develop institutions both nationally and within their communities.


The vision of Tata Jagriti Yatra is to inspire young Indians living in the middle of the Indian demographic diamond (Rs 40-Rs 120 per day) to lead development by taking to enterprise. By doing so, they can turn from being job seekers to job creators. Apart from this economic argument, they also discover a purpose that is appropriate for their talents. Only if we create a movement around enterprise led development will India’s youth employment and development issues will be resolved.


The message of the Yatra is expressed through Jagriti Geet – 'Yaaron Chalo, Badalne Ki Rut hai' a message is of a positive change through enterprise. Instead of bemoaning what is wrong with the country, our participants and the Jagriti fraternity takes action by enterprise led development to make India better

Enterprise Led Development (Udyam Janit Vikas)

Enterprise Led Development has been applauded as a key paradigm to bring about grassroots development. India’s demography represents a diamond more than a pyramid. The middle of this diamond consists of 50 Crore Indians, who are no longer destitute but often lack the means to earn a living. Government jobs are few and far between, and for these young Indians enterprise is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Instead of relying on charitable aid or government grants, enterprise led development seeks to create sustainable and scaleable enterprises in the middle of the Indian demographic diamond. By participating in local, scaleable enterprise, these Indians, most of whom are young will not only find employment, they will create employment for others.

Tata Jagriti Yatra is one of the key strands of Jagriti to create national awareness about this program, and to build leaders who will follow the path of enterprise led development in their lives.


November 14, 2010

Blood camera to spot invisible stains at crime scenes

Call it CSI: Abracadabra. A camera that can make invisible substances reappear as if by magic could allow forensics teams to quickly scan a crime scene for blood stains without tampering with valuable evidence.
The prototype camera, developed by Stephen Morgan, Michael Myrick and colleagues at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, can detect blood stains even when the sample has been diluted to one part per 100.

At present, blood stains are detected using the chemical luminol, which is sprayed around the crime scene and reacts with the iron in any blood present to emit a blue glow that can be seen in the dark. However, luminol is toxic, can dilute blood samples to a level at which DNA is difficult to recover, and can smear blood spatter patterns that forensic experts use to help determine how the victim died. Luminol can also react with substances like bleach, rust, fizzy drink and coffee, causing it to produce false positives.

The camera, in contrast, can distinguish between blood and all four of these substances, and could be used to spot stains that require further chemical analysis without interfering with the sample.

To take an image of a scene, the camera beams pulses of infrared light onto a surface and detects the infrared that is reflected back off it. A transparent, 8-micrometre-thick layer of the protein albumin placed in front of the detector acts as a filter, making a dilute blood stain show up against its surroundings by filtering out wavelengths that aren't characteristic of blood proteins.

By modifying the chemical used for the filter, it should be possible to detect contrasts between a surface and any type of stain, says Morgan. "With the appropriate filter, it should be possible to detect [sweat and lipids] in fingerprints that are not visible to the naked eye," he says. "In the same way you could also detect drugs on a surface, or trace explosives."

November 11, 2010

New Neuronal Circuits Which Control Fear Have Been Identified

Fear is an adaptive response, essential to the survival of many species. This behavioural adaptation may be innate but can also be a consequence of conditioning, during the course of which an animal learns that a particular stimulus precedes an unpleasant event. There is a large amount of data indicating that the amygdala, a particular structure in the brain, is strongly involved during the learning of "conditioned" fear. However, until now, the underlying neuronal circuits have remained largely unknown.

Now, research involving several Swiss and German teams and a researcher from Inserm Unit 862, "Neurocentre Magendie," in Bordeaux, has been able to identify, for the first time, distinct neuronal circuits within the central nucleus of the amygdala which are specifically involved in acquisition and control of behavioural fear responses. Details of these results are published in this week's edition of the journal Nature.
In this study, laboratory mice were first subjected to a simple behavioural task which consisted of learning that an audible stimulus presaged the arrival of an unpleasant event. Following this conditioning, presentation of the audible stimulus induced a set of behavioural manifestations of fear such as freezing of the animals. Using highly innovative pharmacological and optogenetic techniques, the researchers have shown that the medial and central nuclei of the central amygdala were differentially involved in either learning or behavioural manifestation of fear responses (see the diagram on the next page). Indeed, the researchers were able to show that after inactivating the lateral subdivision of the central nucleus of the amygdala, the animals no longer learnt the association between the sound and the unpleasant event. By contrast, inactivation of the medial subdivision of this nucleus did not disrupt the learning of fear; however, the animals were now no longer able to give a behavioural manifestation to their fear, i.e. freezing.
In that second step, real-time recording of the activity of the neurons in the lateral and medial subdivisions of the central amygdala, using unique electrophysiological techniques, made it possible for the researchers to identify the specific neurons, within the structures, which were involved in conditioning and behavioural manifestation of fear responses.
These neurons are inhibitor cells belonging to very organized and strongly interconnected neuronal circuits. Modification of the activity of these circuits enables the relevant behavioural fear response to be selected as a function of the environmental situation.
Hence, our work defines the functional architecture of the neuronal circuits of the central amygdala and their role in acquisition and regulation of fear behaviours. Precise identification of the neuronal circuits which control fear is a major clinical challenge. Patients suffering from disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety problems, exhibit disruption of certain neuronal circuits which leads to unsuitable anxiety behaviour responses. The selective manipulation of neuronal circuits that we have identified, using new therapeutic approaches which need to be developed further, could make it possible to regulate the pathological manifestations of fear in these patients.
Editor's Note: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sensor on Mars Rover to Measure Radiation Environment

The Mars Science Laboratory mission's Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, will monitor naturally occurring radiation that can be unhealthful if absorbed by living organisms. It will do so on the surface of Mars, where there has never before been such an instrument, as well as during the trip between Mars and Earth.
RAD's measurements on Mars will help fulfill the mission's key goals of assessing whether Curiosity's landing region on Mars has had conditions favorable for life and for preserving evidence about life. This instrument also will do an additional job. Unlike any of the nine others in this robotic mission's science payload, RAD has a special task and funding from the part of NASA that is planning human exploration beyond Earth orbit. It will aid design of human missions by reducing uncertainty about how much shielding from radiation future astronauts will need. The measurements between Earth and Mars, as well as the measurements on Mars, will serve that purpose.
"No one has fully characterized the radiation environment on the surface of another planet. If we want to send humans there, we need to do that," said RAD Principal Investigator Don Hassler of the Boulder, Colo., branch of the Southwest Research Institute.
Whether the first destination for human exploration beyond the moon is an asteroid or Mars, the travelers will need protection from the radiation environment in interplanetary space. Hassler said, "The measurements we get during the cruise from Earth to Mars will help map the distribution of radiation throughout the solar system and be useful in mission design for wherever we send astronauts."
RAD will monitor high-energy atomic and subatomic particles coming from the sun, from distant supernovas and from other sources. These particles constitute the radiation that could be harmful to any microbes near the surface of Mars or to astronauts on a Mars mission. Galactic cosmic rays, coming from supernova explosions and other events extremely far from our own solar system, are a variable shower of charged particles. In addition, the sun itself spews electrons, protons and heavier ions in "solar particle events" fed by solar flares and ejections of matter from the sun's corona. Astronauts might need to move into havens with extra shielding on an interplanetary spacecraft or on Mars during solar particle events.
Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere provide effective shielding for our home planet against the possible deadly effects of galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events. Mars, though, lacks a global magnetic field and has only about one percent as much atmosphere as Earth. Just to find high-enough radiation levels on Earth for checking and calibrating RAD, the instrument team needed to put it inside major particle-accelerator research facilities in the United States, Europe, Japan and South Africa.
An instrument on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, which reached Mars in 2001, assessed radiation levels above the Martian atmosphere. Current estimates of the radiation environment at the planet's surface rely on modeling of how the thin atmosphere affects the energetic particles, but uncertainty in the modeling remains large. "A single energetic particle hitting the top of the atmosphere can break up into many particles -- a cascade of lower-energy particles that might be more damaging to life than a single high-energy particle," Hassler noted.
The 1.7-kilogram (3.8-pound) RAD instrument has an upward-pointing, wide-angle telescope with detectors for charged particles with masses up to that of iron. It can also detect secondary neutrons coming from both the Mars atmosphere above and Mars surface material below. Hassler's international RAD team includes experts in instrument design, astronaut safety, atmospheric science, geology and other fields.
Southwest Research Institute, in Boulder and in San Antonio, Texas, and Christian Albrechts University, in Kiel, Germany, built RAD with funding from the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and Germany's national aerospace research center: Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt. The team assembling and testing the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., installed RAD onto Curiosity last month for the late-2011 launch.
RAD measurements during the trip from Earth to Mars will enable correlations with instruments on other spacecraft that monitor solar particle events and galactic cosmic rays in Earth's neighborhood, then will yield data about the radiation environment farther from Earth.
Once on Mars, the rover's prime mission will last a full Martian year -- nearly two Earth years. A one-time set of measurements by RAD would not suffice for determining the radiation environment on the surface, because radiation levels vary on time frames both longer than a year and shorter than an hour. Operational planning for Curiosity anticipates that RAD will record measurements for 15 minutes of every hour throughout the prime mission.
Radiation levels probably make the surface of modern Mars inhospitable for microbial life. The measurements from RAD will feed calculations of how deeply a possible future robot on a life-detection mission might need to dig or drill to reach a microbial safe zone. For assessing whether the surface radiation environment could have been hospitable for microbes in Mars' distant past, researchers will combine RAD's measurements with estimates of how the activity of the sun and the atmosphere of Mars have changed in the past few billion years.
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