Physicists model how we form opinions

first_img Explore further Examining common myths about IQ Secondly, changing the connectivity parameter affects how quickly the system transitions from the segregated state to the intermixed state. For the same laggard parameter, a system with higher connectivity (10 or more connections in the model) creates a sharper transition from a segregated society to a mixed society. Systems with lower connectivity take longer to intermingle, and may never completely mix, as the system could stop evolving after fewer iterations.Because social ties fluctuate, the researchers also modified their model by randomly rewiring the connections after the system reached its final update. This rewiring represents how individuals lose and make new friends and acquaintances, resulting in a more realistic model. Overall, the researchers explain that a society’s public opinion can form one of two scenarios: segregated or coexistence of differences. But, as the team explains, even segregated societies can be versatile, with clusters of different groups – just as long as they aren’t forced to interact too much.“Our model predicts that the formation of consensus depends on how actively an issue is under debate, especially if the original sets of opinions are balanced, i.e. there is roughly the same amount of people sharing each of the two opinions,” Thurner explained. “This is, of course, the most interesting case. In societies where debate is encouraged, a group of people is more likely to find consensus on a topic than, say, in a society where active discussions are not appreciated, suppressed or even forbidden.”As the researchers explain, the model could be used as a tool to make statistical predictions in real-life scenarios.“In principle, all our model parameters can be determined in real life,” Thurner said. “Presently, large efforts are made by dozens of groups to map social networks. The outcome of these efforts can be straight forwardly taken as an input to our model. The nature of social influence that individuals exert on each other (in the model this is the laggard parameter), can be assessed through polls, behavioral surveys, etc. “However, predictions of our model are of statistical nature, and results predict most likely outcomes,” he added. “Predicting the outcome of a specific election can be compared to playing poker. Just from knowing that I hold an above average hand there is no guarantee that I will actually win this round.”More information: Klimek, P., Lambiotte, R., and Thurner, S. “Opinion formation in laggard societies.“ Europhysics Letters 82 (2008) 28008. Copyright 2008 PhysOrg.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or part without the express written permission of PhysOrg.com. In large part, a society’s image stems from its overall opinions – its political, religious, and ethical beliefs – and how much diversity it tolerates. For example, how do some areas develop images of being either liberal or conservative, and, in others, liberals and conservatives live side by side? Citation: Physicists model how we form opinions (2008, April 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2008-04-physicists-opinions.htmlcenter_img The model updates the state of a node (individual) depending on the fraction of the states of its neighbors. In this case, that fraction (“laggard parameter”) is 80%. In (a), the central node keeps its original state. In (b), the central node is updated since 80% of its neighbors are in the opposite state. Credit: P. Klimek, et al. As a team of researchers explains, our individual opinions both influence and are influenced by our surroundings. By following a set of rules, the researchers have modeled the opinion formation process in societies where individuals’ opinions are strongly influenced by others they interact with. The scientists found that, depending on two criteria – how strongly individuals are influenced by each other and how many connections individuals have – a society’s overall state can exhibit either large segregated patches of consensus, or areas with closely intermingled opinions.Peter Klimek from the Medical University of Vienna, Renaud Lambiotte from the University of Liege and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, and Stefan Thurner of the Medical University of Vienna and the Santa Fe Institute in the US have published their study in a recent issue of Europhysics Letters.In their model, individuals are represented as nodes in a network. The nodes are binary, and they display an individual’s opinion on some subject, such as yes/no, liberal/conservative, Clinton/Obama, or any other choice. Then, the society’s overall stance on a subject can be determined for the future by evolving the system. First, an algorithm checks the state of all nodes connected to the node in question. If the fraction of the state of neighboring nodes exceeds a certain threshold (which the researchers call the “laggard parameter” and must be above 50%), then the central node adopts that state. If not, the node remains in its original state. This process is iterated several times, until it can no longer be updated, and the society freezes.“The original opinions of the individuals are ‘a priori’ inclinations toward some subject,” Thurner told PhysOrg.com. “To stay within the Clinton/Obama example, although most of my peers may be democrats, some of them may consider political experience to be more important, while others think that a fresh start is needed. Given such individual initial dispositions, our work shows under which circumstances individuals will stick to them or change their mind.”Depending on the laggard parameter and the system’s average connectivity, the model produces societies with different features. For example, as the laggard parameter increases (when individuals require a greater fraction of neighbors holding the opposite opinion in order to change their opinions), the regions of consensus shrink, and the society’s diverse views intermingle. In other words, individuals stubbornly hold on to their opinions, even if many of their neighbors have the opposite view. But the more that people are influenced by others, the less likely it is that the society will ever reach such an intermixed state. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

PC BIOS soon to be replaced by UEFI

first_img More information: UEFIVia: BBC News (PhysOrg.com) — The 25 year old PC BIOS will soon be replaced by UEFI (unified extensible firmware interface) that will enable PC’s to boot up in a matter of seconds. In 2011 we will start seeing UEFI dominate new PC’s, according to BBC News. UEFI is designed to be much more flexible than the old PC BIOS that dates back to some of the first IBM PC’s since 1979. The BIOS has not changed much in the past 25 years and is one of the main reasons why a PC’s boot-up time is over 25 seconds.The original EFI specification was developed by Intel but has now evolved into a standard which is now known as UEFI. The UEFI forum, which is a non-profit corporation, is responsible for the management and promotion of the specification. Their goal is to replace the 25 year old BIOS that’s responsible for slow boot-ups.Mark Doran, head of the UEFI Forum, is quoted as saying: “With UEFI we’re getting it under a handful of seconds. In terms of boot speed, we’re not at instant-on yet but it is already a lot better than conventional BIOS can manage, and we’re getting closer to that every day.”Some PC manufactures have already started using UEFI and system administrators who oversee thousands of PC and servers have already seen the benefits of swapping old-fashioned Bios for UEFI. © 2010 PhysOrg.com UEFI is an interface that takes care of handing over the pre-boot environment to the operating system. Explore further How to choose a surge protector Citation: PC BIOS soon to be replaced by UEFI (2010, October 2) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-10-pc-bios-uefi.html This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Worlds most powerful MRI gets set to come online

first_img This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Journal information: Nature Worlds most powerful MRI. Credit: IEEE Spectrum Citation: World’s most powerful MRI gets set to come online (2013, October 24) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-10-world-powerful-mri-online.html (Phys.org) —The most powerful MRI machine in the world is nearing completion. The new instrument will be able to generate 11.75 Tesla, a field strong enough to lift 60 metric tons. Squeezing out those last few Tesla (the previous record for field strength was around 9.4) requires extraordinary precision in the design and manufacture of the superconductor magnets at its core. As a recent article in IEEE Spectrum reports, fields of this magnitude are stronger than those used in the Large Hadron Collider which famously discovered the Higgs boson. As a research tool, a machine like this would allow the brain to be imaged in unprecedented detail—a voxel size of .1mm as compared to 1 mm previously. But as medical device makers struggle to design implants that won’t move, heat up or otherwise fail in fields of that strength, the opportunity for new discovery in the brain, will by guided also by a few new challenges to be overcome. More information: spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/i … rful-mri-takes-shapewww.nature.com/news/brain-deco … eading-minds-1.13989center_img MRI machines normally image the relatively strong signals associated with the nuclei of hydrogen. With higher field strengths it is possible to image signals from sodium or potassium, the ions that are also among the most mobile in carrying the charge associated with spikes in neurons. An area of 0.1mm still might have over 1000 neurons so this technology is not going to be imaging neuron activity individually. It may however, provide recent efforts to decode the private imagery associated with our inner thoughts and dreams with much greater accuracy than current methods. While a recent paper in Nature contains an air of optimism regarding the progress of the decoding algorithms used in these kinds of studies, cautionary tales regarding the interpretations of the results still abound.The 270 million dollar scanner project, know as INUMAC (Imaging of Neuro disease Using high-field MR And Contrastophores), has been in development for the last seven years. Delivery was taken this summer of some 200 km of superconducting niobium-titanium wire. When cooled with superfluid helium to 1.8 Kelvins, this wire will be able to carry 1500 amps. The key to making a magnet that won’t melt or vibrate itself apart, is a new winding design that permits the helium to get where it needs to for cooling, and also provides for winding alignment to micrometer precision. Today electromagnetic devices, like precision servomotors, are no longer wound willy-nilly like a random spool of yarn, but rather put together so that each turn is in the proper place. The idea is that entire electromagnet hums coherently as a whole and creates a uniform field. A more expensive wire material, niobium-tin, would in theory carry enough current at the same diameter to create fields up to 20 Tesla, but it is much more brittle than niobium-titanium and difficult to wind.Pushing field strengths ever higher raises a few concerns. Implant manufacturers, like Medtronic, have a tough job to do to insure the safety of their devices inside magnet bores. One indicator of the gravity of the situation, is that they have taken to naming their devices according to their tolerance of fields strong enough to turn gas cylinders in adjacent rooms into guided missiles. Their SureScan pacemaker comes with guarantee of MRI compatibility—at least up to certain fields strengths, and their spinal cord neurostimuluators, commonly used to subvert chronic pain, come with documentation that doesn’t shy away from some hard-core physics. For example, an MRI system generates three kinds of fields, each of which have different potential for interaction with a device. The static fields are present at all times around the magnet, while the three orthogonal gradient fields kick in only during the scan. A pulsed RF field is also present during the scan, and is created by a variety of different methods. We might note here that when an airplane takes-off or lands, powering down your devices in the face of the unknown is only a nuisance. Powering down an implant, if it is advised, may have more inconvenient consequences.A final cautionary tale before leaping in to one of these new machines, is that the effects of double-digit field strength on the tissues of the body itself are not completely understood. Computer models and simulations will be invaluable in setting guidelines here, but ultimately the proof is in the pudding. Physical tests will be needed, both as reality check for the things missed by the model, and also to help indicate areas perhaps where the models might be too restrictive. Explore further © 2013 Phys.org Superconducting magnet generates world’s highest magnetic field at 24Tlast_img read more

New evidence for the vibration theory of smell

first_imgPractically speaking, having ‘clearly separated peaks’ means we must make allowance for the fact that any flesh and blood spectroscope operating in the nose would presumably be addled by background thermal fluctuations (at 37 °C) of the order of kT/hc. In terms of wavenumbers this translates to ≈ 215 cm-1. As the relevant molecular vibration spectra extend up to wavenumbers of only around 3300 cm-1, this could be a stringent limitation—particularly in the lower so-called ‘fingerprint’ region from 500-1500 where there is typically a relatively high density of bending-mode peaks. Fortunately, the higher wavenumber region for these odorants is sparser, and has well-separated bond stretching peaks. The thermal filter effect of a 215 cm-1 wide signal homogenizer proved to be a game ender only for the isoamyl acetate. This was not entirely unexpected because the molecule used was only deuterated at three positions. Correspondingly, the differential responses obtained with isoamyl acetate were much less significant than with the other odorants, both across different glomeruli and bees alike.For the benzaldehyde and octanol odorants the researchers found two iconic glomeruli with a particularly telling response; In one the normal non-deuterated form of benzaldehyde gave hardly any activation in the glomerulus, while the deuterated benzaldehyde triggered a large positive response. In the other, normal octanol caused activation of the glomerulus while the deuterated form caused inhibition. Considering the close structural correspondence between isotopomers, the experimental truths observed here would be difficult for even the most ardent adherent to the shapist receptor philosophy to sweep under the rug.The authors observe that the shape-independent discrimination capabilities they found can not be dismissed as idiosyncratic to a few peculiar olfactory receptors, rather, they are a more general feature of ligand-receptor interaction. Much of the palpable in-house derision that members of the larger olfactory and neuroscience communities routine reserve for the vibrational theory might be traced to a deeper, more insidious fear: despite exhaustively focused efforts, they have no idea how receptors actually work.In other words, an overarching predictive theory of the caliber alluded we alluded to above to guide experiments, not just for olfaction, but for all protein-based receptors, does not yet exist. In applying itself to the task of quickly (in evolutionary time) coming up with and artfully deploying ‘universal detectors’, whether it be antibodies for antigens, G-protein coupled receptors (GPRCs) to manhandle light-toggled nanolevers and tunnel electrons through air landed treasures, or transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) to personally touch everything on the spectrum from mentholic chill to capsaicin warmth or the viper’s pitted IR to our own melanocytic ultraviolet, Nature has unleashed her unbridled imagination. To unmask what we might fancy as the basic principles Nature uses in ‘biological detection’, the hard part doesn’t seem to be the problem of setting the proper parameters for passively binding familiar things, but rather that of rapidly modifying or otherwise proliferating an old generic protein hand, and then bending it to some new need. That unfamilial task might be capturing novel hint of some ray, quanta, field, or polarization, or cocking and setting itself in some new fashion to actively probe a new partner with a new jiggle. To shed light on how we might best use comparative phylogenetic methods to sort the greater olfactory receptor protein extended family, consider something we now understand quite well—the ribosome.Figuring out exactly how the ribosome evolved from a primitive nonspecific peptide synthesis jig into a finely discriminating selector that fully enforces a rigorous genetic code upon the entire biosphere took more than looking at sequence homology. That all works fine for the short run, but sequence alone quickly exhausts itself in the deep evolutionary time. 3D structural homologies, on the other hand, generally get you a bit further back. Far enough in fact to trace every key innovation in the ribosome. Those provisions include everything from powering the peptide transfer cores with GTP hydrolysis and templating instruction with geometrically-enhanced mRNAs, to full blown cofactor virtualization via a system of exchangeable tRNAs and their massive synthetase support crew.Sequence and structure analysis which worked so well for understanding ribosomes still has much to offer us in trying to crack olfactory reception. For example, the more refined deuterostomes like urchins and humans parted ways some time ago with protostomes like the honeybees and fruit flies that are conveniently used for study. Where we predominantly use GPCRs in our nose, they prefer to employ more direct-ionic receivers which lack obvious homology with our messenger systems, subunit composition, targeting methods, and terminal group positioning. Many other organisms, like the worm c. elegans, are somewhere in the middle as far as odor detection. Full qualification of their own unique receptor suites awaits.But beyond these tools, we also need to exercise comparative phylogenetic imagination, hack new theory, and hazard wanton inference. For example, in looking to related senses we know deuterostomes have a sweet spot for microtubule-based photoreceptors whereas protostomes have always gone for actin based microvillar structures in their photoreceptors. Familiarity with both sensory systems suggests and constrains ideas regarding how their respective receptors detect and then signal. Knowing for example, that a particular olfactory receptor which is normally expressed on an urchin sperm links to a cytoskeletal system more apt to creep about than swim may not constitute a theory, but it might be a critical endpiece in someone’s puzzle.In applying hard limiters to classify the protein kits we find in cells—namely as receptors, enzymes, and ion channels—we end up with quite a salad of their associated protagonists; Depending on how they act or excite we give them names like ligand, prosthetic group, substrate, or even potential. The most versatile of our enzymes typically flex tiny vitaminized nucleotide derivatives at their core. Many of these primordial ‘coenzymes’ in turn nest a single metal ion knife edge that by nature of its coordination chemistry originally had some inherent penchant for catalysis within the prevailing geochemistry of the day. This predictable progression in the complexity of enzymes precisely mirrored that of their granddaddy, the ribosome. By accreting its own product, the ribosome gradually proteinized the least RNA snippets possessing the kernel of catalytic function it needed, culminating in the most massive synthesis conglomeration we find in all phylogeny—the human ribosome. Perhaps surprisingly, the now sophisticated receptor ion channel culture in our cells similarly accrued around another fundamental nugget—the leakiness of bare membranes. The Hodgkin and Huxley models mentioned above, which work well for the describing the electrical dynamics of spikes, unfortunately have little to say about other critical aspects of pulsating membranes (like heat capacity, enthalpy, and compressibility), and nothing of the thermodynamics of the spontaneous self-assembly of their proteins and lipids. Some clues to a way forward from our current position were recently suggested by Shamit Shrivastava. Reaching back to re-examine some critical ideas from the mind of none other than the man first intuited the existence of gravity waves, Shamit recalls Einstein’s conception of a ‘complete molecular mechanical theory’. Einstein’s key practical intuition was to invert Boltzman’s principle (which he felt was meaningless lacking a microscopic distribution function), and use an experimentally obtained formulation of entropy to deduce the distribution function. These arguments appear in Einstein’s 1910 paper where he also defines a quantitative link between critical opalescence and Lord Rayleigh’s Rayleigh scattering. Explaining these two phenomena in terms of density fluctuation in a fluid mixture approaching its critical point Einstein effectively solved the question of why the sky is blue. To now solve the questions of why fish is fishy and sugar sweet we await someone with an inordinate fondness for terpenoids to imagine sitting on a molecule of carvone. Explore further Journal information: Journal of Chemical Physics Citation: New evidence for the vibration theory of smell (2016, February 22) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-02-evidence-vibration-theory.html , Scientific Reports Credit: Sang Tae Park et al. Ultrafast electron diffraction: Excited state structures and chemistries of aromatic carbonyls, The Journal of Chemical Physics (2006). DOI: 10.1063/1.2194017 More information: Scientific Reports, 6:21893. DOI: 10.1038/srep21893center_img (Phys.org)—The predictive power and galvanizing influence that theoretical models routinely enjoy in physics is only rarely replicated in biology. Lord Raleigh’s theory of sound perception, Francis Crick’s sequence and adapter hypotheses, and Hodgkin and Huxley’s model of the electrical dynamics of neurons are a few notable exceptions that have gone on to spawn entire scientific industries. Although it is hard to find comparable mechanistic drama unfolding in our current century, Luca Turin’s vibrational theory of olfaction has been a persistently fertile seed that has now ripened into a contentious fruit. One way to judge a theory is by how hard its detractors work to disembowel it. Last year, one group went so far as to express human and mouse olfactory receptors in an in-vitro kidney cell preparation to see if deuterated synthetic musks with altered vibration signatures gave different responses. That group, perhaps not surprisingly, didn’t find a whole lot to support the vibration theory. Now, a study using live honeybees did. A group at the University of Trento led by Albrecht Haase was able to prove by direct imaging of the brain that the bee olfactory system can clearly distinguish odorants with different vibration frequencies despite having identical shapes.To do this the researchers used isotopomers of four different odorants (isoamyl acetate, octanol, benzaldehyde, and acetophenone) that were variously deuterated at the hydrogen spots. How do these guys even come up with the odorants for studies like this you might ask? Given the exclusive nature of these investigations each odorant is put through a tough vetting process, the full details of which are only very rarely revealed. For example, the isoamyl acetate happens to make honeybees go bananas. As one component of the honeybee sting package, this volatile ester acts as a pheromonal attractant to recruit other bees to the cause. It also is the primary component in banana oil flavoring.The octanol is an 8-carbon long citrusy-orange alcohol which comes in no less than 89 different isomers. The researchers used the 1-octanol version which is conveniently available in full deuteration at all 17 hydrogen spots. The benzaldehyde, used for imitation almond extract among other practical things, has a special place in olfactory science as the simplest aromatic aldehyde. If you swap in a CH3 for the hydrogen on the aldehyde group you get acetophenone, the simplest aromatic ketone. This minor alteration promptly elevates the human olfactory experience to one of cherry, honeysuckle, and jasmine—a regular fruit stripe gum of a molecule.The ‘responses’ that were measured in these studies were two-photon calcium imaging signals generated in the honeybee olfactory glomeruli in the 2 seconds after the odorants were applied. A critical point (at least for the vibrational theory) was that the deuterated forms, particularly those expected to give different bee responses, should in the least have a unique, machine-measureable vibrational character. In other words, that the IR spectra of the deuterated forms, as determined true-to-life in a gaseous carrier, should have observable peaks that are clearly separated from the non-deuterated forms. © 2016 Phys.org Plausibility of the vibrational theory of smell This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

Housewife dies in Bansdroni parents allege torture by inlaws

first_imgKolkata: Mystery shrouds the death of a housewife at Bansdroni in the southern fringes of the city, who died after she complained of illness and was taken to Bijoygarh Hospital by her in-laws on Thursday night. The deceased Payel Chakraborty (32), a resident of Shyamnagar in North 24-Parganas, was married to Mriganka Roy in January 2017. The deceased’s father Swapan Chakraborty alleged that his daughter was subjected to physical and mental torture at her in-laws’ house after a few months of her marriage. Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsHer husband, brother-in-law and mother-in-law used to torture her, according to Chakraborty who had lodged a complaint with Bansdroni police station, alleging that her daughter has been murdered.”My daughter had video called me at around 8.30 pm at night. She was absolutely fine. An hour later, my son-in-law called me up, informing that my daughter had fallen sick and had been admitted at Bijoygarh Hospital. As we were preparing to go there, he again called up and told me that Payel has expired. She was tortured and that ultimately resulted in her death,” the deceased’s mother Balaka Chakraborty alleged. Payel had told her mother that she would come on the occasion of Jamai Sasthi, which is scheduled in a week’s time and had told her to purchase a dress for her husband. The police have detained Payel’s husband on the basis of the complaint, but her brother-in-law Mridul Roy is absconding. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedPayel was married to Mriganka Roy in January 2017, after contact was established through a matrimonial site. After they were introduced through the site, they had met each other on more than one occasion and both had consented to the marriage. The deceased’s husband is a teacher at an English medium school in New Town.”We are investigating the matter on the basis of a complaint lodged by the deceased’s father. We are talking to some of the neighbours and other members of the deceased’s in-laws for the sake of probe,” a senior officer of Bansdroni police station said.last_img read more

Amit Mishra arrested in assault case freed on bail

first_imgTeam India cricketer Amit Mishra was on Tuesday arrested here in connection with a complaint filed by a woman for allegedly physically assaulting and abusing her in a hotel room here last month, and later released on bail. Mishra was arrested after nearly three hours of questioning at Ashoknagar police station and released on bail later, DCP (Central) Sandeep Patil said. Complying with a summons issued by the Bengaluru police last week after he was booked for the charges based on the complaint by the woman, Mishra, who was given seven days time, appeared before them.last_img

Metro runs from Belgachia to Kavi Subhash with door ajar

first_imgKolkata: A Metro rake ran from Belgachia till Kavi Subhash on Friday morning with one of its door open, after it failed to close down due to some technical snag.An RPF personnel stood guard at the door to prevent any untoward incident. According to sources in the Metro, the snag developed after a broken portion of a pen cap somehow got stuck in the door channel.The snag came to the notice of the motorman at around 11 am in the morning, after the train reached Belgachia Station. The front door of the first compartment refused to close as the train was about to depart. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeAn RPF personnel on duty at the platform noticed a plastic object sticking out of the door channel. As he tried to remove the same, it broke with a portion of it coming off in his hands, with the rest still remaining stuck in the door channel.Within a few minutes, the decision was taken by the railway police in coordination with the Metro authorities that the rake should continue to run. An RPF constable stood guard at the door with his hands on either side of the door, as the train continued its journey. There was a change of duty at Chadni Chowk Metro Station and this time, two RPF personnel stood guard at the door till the journey ended at Kavi Subhash. The motorman tried to close the door in between as the train stopped at stations, but failed to do so.”We could have emptied the rake when the snag took place. This could have inconvenienced the passengers. So we decided on keeping the train running after ensuring the security of the passengers. When the train reached Kavi Subhash, it was sidelined to the car shed,” said a spokesperson of Kolkata Metro.The portion of the broken pen cap was removed and after proper testing of the door, it was found to be working perfectly.last_img read more

Over 90 oil extracted from illfated MV SSL Kolkata spill prevented

first_imgKolkata: The state government in collaboration with Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has been able to prevent the oil spill from the vessel MV SSL Kolkata that had emerged as a threat to the ecosystem of the Sunderbans after it caught fire in the Bay of Bengal on the night of June 13.”More than 90 percent of the oil in the ship has been successfully extracted and the remaining work will be completed within 10 days’ time,” a relieved senior official of the state Forest department who has been supervising the entire operation said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeApart from being a threat to the ecology and the river and sea creatures, if the oil had actually spilt over, it could have mingled with the water and travelled to human habitat areas of Gosaba and others. “So extracting oil out of the ill-fated vessel was our top priority,” the official added. There was 400 tonne of furnace oil loaded in the affected ship. A drill was made in the oil tanks of the affected ship and after extraction, oil was transferred through a pipeline to another vessel that was stationed at a safe distance from the affected ship. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedIt may be mentioned that the state Forest department has provided all sorts of logistics to the Singapore-based company that was roped in by KoPT for extracting oil from the affected ship. The District Magistrate of South 24-Parganas has been acting as the nodal officer for the entire operation and the district administration had also mobilised people from the adjoining villages who helped employees from the shipping company in emptying the oil barrels. State Chief Secretary Malay De organised meetings time to time with the concerned agencies like KoPT Indian Coast Guard, Indian Airforce and top officials of the Forest department to keep a stock of the progress. Initially, all the stakeholders had laid emphasis on transfer of oil with the threat of spilling looming large. Hence, the efforts to tow the ship to the bank was overlooked. “Now, the ship had sunk so deep into the sea soil that it cannot be moved from the spot. So the remains of the ship will gradually sink into the water. This will result in water pollution but the effect will be much less than the oil spill,” a senior official in the district administration said.last_img read more

CoOperation department to set 2631 Customer Service Points

first_imgKolkata: The state Co-Operation department will set up 2,631 Customer Service Points (CSP), particularly in areas lacking branches of nationalised banks to render services to the rural population.”Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has instructed us to take bank services to the areas which lack nationalised and private bank branches. We have set a target of coming up with CSPs in 2,631 Gram Panchayat (GP) areas across the state. Around 250 such CSPs have already come up,” state Co-Operation minister Arup Roy said. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal lifeSources in the department said the CSPs are being set up in the offices of the co-operative societies and will have all the facilities of a banking service branch. There will be Rs an investment of 15 lakh for each unit and the total cost of the project has been earmarked at Rs 300 crore. The employees of the co-operative societies will be trained for rendering services to the users. It may be mentioned that there are around 710 villages in the state which do not have banks. The state Co-Operation department has already set up 50 banks to cater to these villages and is gradually setting up more and more branches. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Mercedes car in Kolkata, 2 pedestrians killedThe state government is also focusing upon recovering NPAs in the co-operative banks. “We are now offering loan at a rate of 2 percent to the farmers bringing it down from 4 percent. The state government is offering subsidies to the banks in this regard so that they can offer loan at a low percentage,” an official said. The minister mentioned his department has set a target of providing farmer’s loan to the tune of Rs 7,000 crore in the 2018-19 fiscal up from Rs 5200 crore that was allocated in 2017-18. “The loan for Self-Help Groups has been set at Rs 1,200 crore in 2018-19 financial year up from Rs 1,000 crore in the last fiscal,” Roy said. The department will organise Co-Operative fair from November 19 to 22 at Netaji Indoor Stadium. State Finance and Industry minister Amit Mitra will inaugurate the fair.last_img read more

Facebook posts may offer insight into mental illness

first_imgYour Facebook status updates, ‘likes’ and even photos could help researchers better understand mental health disorders, a new study says. Social networks may even be used in future to treat mental illness, particularly among young people, the researchers said.“Facebook is hugely popular and could provide us with a wealth of data to improve our knowledge of mental health disorders such as depression and schizophrenia,” said the study’s lead-author Becky Inkster from University of Cambridge.  Also Read – Add new books to your shelfOver a billion people worldwide use Facebook daily – one in seven of the global population – and social media use is increasing at three times the rate of other internet use. “Its reach is particularly broad, too, stretching across the digital divide to traditionally hard-to-reach groups including homeless youth, immigrants, people with mental health problems, and seniors,” Inkster noted. The researchers believe that Facebook might be used to help improve the detection of mental health factors.  Also Read – Over 2 hours screen time daily will make your kids impulsiveFacebook data tends to be more reliable than offline self-reported information, while still reflecting an individual’s offline behaviours, study co-author Michal Kosinski from Stanford Graduate School of Business in the US added.It also enables researchers to measure content that is difficult to assess offline, such as conversation intensity, and to reach sample sizes previously unobtainable. Status updates, shares and likes can provide a wealth of information about users, the researchers noted in the study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry.  “Facebook relationships may help those with reduced self-esteem and provide companionship for individuals who are socially isolated,” Inkster said.“We know that socially isolated adolescents are more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, so these online stepping stones could encourage patients to reform offline social connections,” she added.These online – potentially leading to offline – social connections can provide support for vulnerable individuals such as homeless youth, a population at increased risk of mental health problems. Research has shown that this support is associated with a reduction in their alcohol intake and a decrease in depression-like symptoms. Unlike virtual patient communities, an advantage of using social networking sites, especially Facebook, is that people naturally use them in their daily lives, which addresses concerns about the limited duration of participation in virtual communities, the study said.last_img read more