Monday, April 30, 2012

Al Qaeda's Europe attack plans found hidden in porn movie

Hundreds of internal al Qaeda documents embedded inside a pornographic movie on a memory disk have revealed plots of carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Terrorist training manuals in PDF format in German, English and Arabic were among the documents found, according to intelligence sources cited by CNN, which said it had obtained details of the documents.

The German newspaper Die Zeit was the first to report on the discovery of the documents by German cryptologists inside the memory disk found on a suspected al Qaeda operative arrested in Berlin last year, it said.
Al Qaeda's Europe attack plans found hidden in porn movie

Interrogators questioning a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin, who had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then travelled overland to Germany were surprised to find a digital storage device and memory cards hidden in his underpants.

Buried inside them was a pornographic video called 'Kick Ass' and a file marked 'Sexy Tanja'.

Several weeks later, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence - more than 100 al Qaeda documents.

One document called 'Future Works' appears to have been the product of discussions to find new targets and methods of attack, CNN said. German investigators believe it was written in 2009 and that it remains the template for al Qaeda's plans.

A year after the document was written, European intelligence agencies were scrambling to investigate a Mumbai-style plot involving German and other European militants which sparked an unprecedented US State Department travel warning for Americans in Europe.

"I think it is plausible to think that the 'Future Works' document is part of that particular project," investigative journalist Yassin Musharbash, a reporter with the German newspaper Die Zeit, who was the first to report on the documents, was quoted as saying.

"The document delivers very clearly the notion that al Qaeda knows it is being followed very closely," Musharbash told CNN.

While 'Future Works' does not include dates or places, nor specific plans, it appears to be a brainstorming exercise to seize the initiative and reinstate al Qaeda on front pages around the world, it said.

-- IBN

Microsoft invests in Nook e-books

Microsoft has invested $300m (£185m) in a digital venture with US bookseller Barnes and Noble.

The deal could make Barnes and Noble's Nook e-book reader available to millions of new customers, integrating it with the Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system.

The as-yet unnamed new company will be 82.4% owned by Barnes and Noble, with Microsoft getting a 17.6% stake.It will house the bookseller's digital and college education book businesses.

Barnes and Noble's Nook was launched in 2009

Bricks and mortar

But some industry commentators believe publishers will be "terrified" at the implications of the deal.

"This deal with Microsoft could be the saviour of its digital division but won't help the bricks and mortar business," Tim Coates, managing director of Bilbary, an e-book content provider, told the BBC. "In fact it could accelerate its decline.

"Publishers will be terrified of Barnes and Noble going digital only."

Barnes and Noble did announce at the beginning of the year that it was looking at splitting off its digital business. It said it does not yet know whether it will float the new company.

End to hostilities

The Nook e-reader was launched in 2009 to compete with Amazon's Kindle, allowing users to buy, download and read digital versions of books and magazines.

Microsoft sued Barnes and Noble in March last year, alleging the Nook, which runs on the Google Android operating system, infringed its patents.

The deal would seem to indicate an end to hostilities.

Traditonal bookseller chains have been struggling to cope with the e-book revolution and some have found it difficult to compete against Amazon's distribution of cut-price physical books.

The rise of the digital-only e-books and dedicated e-readers has only compounded their problems.

Borders closed last year, leaving Barnes and Noble as the only major US book chain, with just under 700 branches. It also has 641 specialist college bookshops.

Low production cost

Sales of e-books, with their low production and distribution costs, have now oustripped sales of print titles in many cases.

According to Juniper Research, sales of handheld e-readers have leapt from below 5 million in 2009 to nearly 25 million in 2011.

Windsor Holden, Juniper's director of research, said: "We expect the value of e-reader shipments to rise from $3.5bn (£2.16bn) to $8.7bn by 2016.

"Our belief is that there will remain a substantial market for dedicated e-readers, although to reach the widest audience companies now need to make their e-reader apps available on as many devices as possible."

Amazon's Kindle service is already available as an app on the Windows 8 operating system, due to launch this autumn.'Exciting collaboration'

The Nook's content will now be available to the growing number of people with mobile devices running Microsoft software.

"Microsoft's investment in Newco [the temporary name for the new digital and college unit], and our exciting collaboration to bring world-class digital reading technologies and content to the Windows platform and its hundreds of millions of users, will allow us to significantly expand the business," said William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble.

The Windows 8 operating system is specifically designed to work with touch screens and mobile devices like tablet computers.

Its Metro user interface can host small dedicated applications like Nook to sit on top of Windows.

"Our complementary assets will accelerate e-reading innovation across a broad range of Windows devices, enabling people to not just read stories, but to be part of them," said Andy Lees, president at Microsoft.

"We're on the cusp of a revolution in reading."

At one point during the day Barnes & Noble shares jumped 85% in early trading, reaching $25, the highest level since 2009, before falling back later in the day.

Microsoft shares were unchanged.

Australian billionaire Clive Palmer to build Titanic II

30 April 2012
Clive Palmer, one of Australia's richest men, has commissioned a Chinese state-owned company to build a 21st Century version of the Titanic.

Clive Palmer told a news conference Titanic II would be ready to set sail in 2016

The mining billionaire told Australian media that construction would start at the end of next year.

It would be ready to set sail in 2016.

The plan, he added, was for the vessel to be as similar as possible to the original Titanic in design and specifications, but with modern technology.

Mr Palmer told Australian media that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct the ship.

"It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st Century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," he said in a statement.

The announcement comes just weeks after the centenary of the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic.

The vessel, the largest luxury ship in its time, struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It went down on 15 April 1912, leaving more than 1,500 people dead.

"Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it,'' Mr Palmer said in response to questions from reporters on whether the Titanic replica would sink.

The new vessel is scheduled to sail from London to New York in late 2016, if all goes as planned.

"It is going to be designed so it won't sink,'' he added. ''But, of course, if you are superstitious like you are, you never know what could happen.''

The cost of the construction is not known, a spokesman for Mr Palmer told Australian media.

A number of events were held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking

The mining magnate from Queensland, who has strong business relations with China, has expanded into tourism. He owns a luxury resort on the Sunshine Coast and has plans to build a fleet of luxury liners.

His plan to build the Titanic replica was announced on the same day that he revealed plans, in a separate news conference, to contest the next federal election in Queensland.

He told reporters that he has expressed interest in standing for Queensland's Liberal National Party (LNP), part of the conservative opposition at federal level, in the Brisbane seat of Lilley - currently held by Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Syria unrest: Deadly blasts rock Idlib

30 April 2012
A number of people have been killed in blasts in the north-western Syrian city of Idlib, activists and state TV say.

TV reports said two suicide bombings had killed eight people, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 20 had died in attacks targeting the security forces.

The UN is currently deploying monitors to the country to oversee a fragile peace plan.

Thirty will be in place soon but the UN warns it will need many more.UN mission's plea

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group, said bombs had exploded in Idlib near the Air Force Intelligence headquarters and the Military Intelligence building. Most of the casualties were security personnel, it said.

State TV said "two terrorist suicide bombs" in Idlib had killed eight and wounded dozens - both civilians and security personnel.

It showed scenes of devastation, with buildings partially collapsed, and streets full of rubble and wrecked vehicles. It also showed pools of blood. The blasts threw debris hundreds of metres.

One activist told Associated Press news agency the blast sites were several hundred metres apart and the bombs went off within five minutes of each other shortly after daybreak.

The Observatory later added that a third bomb in Idlib had injured several people near the university.

The group also said there had been a powerful blast near the capital Damascus, causing casualties, but this has not been independently confirmed.

State TV also said there had been a rocket-propelled grenade attack by three men on the Syrian Central Bank in Damascus overnight, but again this has not been verified.

The BBC's Jim Muir in Beirut says Idlib has been known for its defiance to the government, but it has been relatively calm in recent days because there have been two UN monitors stationed there.

Activists said that one of Monday's blasts was only about 200m from the monitors' hotel, with some reports saying it sustained damage.

The state-run Sana news agency said the monitors later toured the site of the bombings.

The head of the UN observer mission to Syria, Maj Gen Robert Mood, has arrived in Syria and will be followed by another 30 observers in the coming days, doubling the size of the mission.

The UN has approved up to 300 observers under a peace plan brokered by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

At least 500 people have died since the ceasefire was agreed on 12 April, activists say.

The government and opposition have blamed each other for the violence.

The Local Co-ordination Committees - a network of anti-government activists in Syria - said the attacks were government "tricks" that "no longer fool anyone".

It said: "The regime has resorted to these escalations every time there is political movement at the Arab, regional or international level to find a political solution."

On Thursday UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned that Syrian's government was "in contravention" of the UN and Arab League peace plan, and demanded that Damascus comply with its terms without delay.

In a separate development, Lebanese officials on Monday said a group of skiers on Mount Hermon in south-eastern Lebanon had came under fire from across the border in Syria.

A security official said one member of the group - which included one Swiss and several Lebanese skiers - was wounded. One report suggested Syrian soldiers had mistaken them for smugglers.

Statement at the Conclusion of an IMF Mission to Bangladesh

Press Release No. 12/155
April 27, 2012

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) visited Dhaka April 18–26, 2012 to discuss budget developments and the near-term macroeconomic outlook. The visit came following approval by the IMF’s Executive Board of a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) in mid-April in the amount of SDR 639.96 million (US$987 million at the time of program approval).

The team met with Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister Mashiur Rahman, Finance Secretary Mohammad Tareque, Bangladesh Bank Governor Atiur Rahman, and other senior officials and development partners. It also met with civil society representatives and had good discussions on the main elements of the ECF-supported program at a Bangladesh Bank press seminar, the Policy Research Institute, and BRAC University.

At the end of the visit, Mr. David Cowen, head of the IMF mission to Bangladesh, issued the following statement:

“In view of the government’s upcoming budget, our discussions focused on fiscal performance in FY12 and budget priorities in FY13. Based on performance to date, FY12 budget outturns appear to be in line with targets agreed under the ECF-supported program. Nonetheless, fuel, electricity, and fertilizer subsidies continue to require close watch, given the pressures they have exerted on the budget over the past year.

“Looking ahead, we urged the FY13 budget aim for moderate deficit reduction in order to contain domestic bank borrowing, consistent with program targets. It would also help reinforce monetary restraint, as necessary to tame inflationary pressures and stem reserve losses, will leave ample space for private sector credit growth.

“To achieve these goals, we anticipate decisive actions in the FY13 Finance Bill to strengthen tax administration and policy in order to broaden the tax base and raise overall revenues, supported by a new VAT law and reduced tax expenditures. While we foresee subsidy costs will remain large in FY13, their containment rests on further price adjustments, as needed, and well-anchored fertilizer subsidies to avoid crowding out high impact spending. It is, of course, also necessary to have accompanying steps to strengthen social safety nets to mitigate the impact of energy and food price increases on the poor.

“While accelerating the pace of Annual Development Program (ADP) implementation remains critical to achieving medium-term growth and poverty reduction objectives, we believe the broader envelope for capital spending requires better prioritization. In this respect, more effort should be made to unlock external commitments, so as to help boost ADP spending and contain domestic bank borrowing, in keeping with program targets.”

Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose(The unsung Hero of Radio)

Acharya Bhavan, the residence of J C Bose, that built in 1902 has been turned to museum

Acharya Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, CSI, CIE,FRS (Bengali: জগদীশ চন্দ্র বসু Jôgodish Chôndro Boshu) (30 November 1858 – 23 November 1937) was an Indian polymath: a physicist, biologist, botanist, archaeologist, as well as an early writer of science fiction. He pioneered the investigation ofradio and microwave optics, made very significant contributions to plant science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent. IEEE named him one of the fathers of radio science.He is also considered the father of Bengali science fiction. He was the first person from the Indian subcontinent to receive a US patent, in 1904. He also invented the crescograph.

Born during the British Raj, Bose graduated from St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. He then went to the University of London to study medicine, but could not pursue studies in medicine due to health problems. Instead, he conducted his research with the Nobel Laureate Lord Rayleigh at Cambridge and returned to India. He then joined the Presidency College of University of Calcutta as a Professor of Physics. There, despite racial discrimination and a lack of funding and equipment, Bose carried on his scientific research. He made remarkable progress in his research of remote wireless signaling and was the first to usesemiconductor junctions to detect radio signals. However, instead of trying to gain commercial benefit from this invention, Bose made his inventions public in order to allow others to further develop his research.

Bose subsequently made a number of pioneering discoveries in plant physiology. He used his own invention, the crescograph, to measure plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues. Although Bose filed for a patent for one of his inventions due to peer pressure, his reluctance to any form of patenting was well known.

He has been recognised for his many contributions to modern science.


Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose was born in Bikrampur, Bengal, (now Munshiganj District of Bangladesh) on 30 November 1858. His father, Bhagawan Chandra Bose, was a Brahmo and leader of the Brahmo Samaj and worked as a deputy magistrate/ assistant commissioner in Faridpur, Bardhaman and other places.His family hailed from the village Rarikhal, Bikrampur, in the current day Munshiganj District of Bangladesh.

Bose’s education started in a vernacular school, because his father believed that one must know one's own mother tongue before beginning English, and that one should know also one's own people. Speaking at the Bikrampur Conference in 1915, Bose said:

“At that time, sending children to English schools was an aristocratic status symbol. In the vernacular school, to which I was sent, the son of the Muslim attendant of my father sat on my right side, and the son of a fisherman sat on my left. They were my playmates. I listened spellbound to their stories of birds, animals and aquatic creatures. Perhaps these stories created in my mind a keen interest in investigating the workings of Nature. When I returned home from school accompanied by my school fellows, my mother welcomed and fed all of us without discrimination. Although she was an orthodox old fashioned lady, she never considered herself guilty of impiety by treating these ‘untouchables’ as her own children. It was because of my childhood friendship with them that I could never feel that there were ‘creatures’ who might be labelled ‘low-caste’. I never realised that there existed a ‘problem’ common to the two communities, Hindus and Muslims.”

Bose joined the Hare School in 1869 and then St. Xavier’s School at Kolkata. In 1875, he passed the Entrance Examination (equivalent to school graduation) of University of Calcutta and was admitted to St. Xavier's College, Calcutta. At St. Xavier's, Bose came in contact with Jesuit Father Eugene Lafont, who played a significant role in developing his interest to natural science. He received a bachelor's degree from University of Calcutta in 1879.

Bose wanted to go to England to compete for the Indian Civil Service. However, his father, a civil servant himself, canceled the plan. He wished his son to be a scholar, who would “rule nobody but himself.” Bose went to England to study Medicine at the University of London. However, he had to quit because of ill health.The odour in the dissection rooms is also said to have exacerbated his illness.

Through the recommendation of Anandamohan Bose, his brother-in-law (sister's husband) and the first Indian wrangler, he secured admission in Christ's College, Cambridge to study Natural Science. He received the Natural Science Tripos from the University of Cambridge and a BSc from the University of London in 1884. Among Bose’s teachers at Cambridge were Lord Rayleigh, Michael Foster,James Dewar, Francis Darwin, Francis Balfour, and Sidney Vines. At the time when Bose was a student at Cambridge, Prafulla Chandra Roy was a student at Edinburgh. They met in London and became intimate friends.

On the second day of a two-day seminar held on the occasion of 150th anniversary of Jagadish Chandra Bose on 28–29 July at The Asiatic Society, Kolkata Professor Shibaji Raha, Director of the Bose Institute, Kolkata told in his valedictory address that he had personally checked the register of the Cambridge University to confirm the fact that in addition to Tripos he received an M.A. as well from it in 1884.


Bose returned to India in 1885, carrying a letter from Fawcett, the economist to Lord Ripon, Viceroy of India. On Lord Ripon’s request Sir Alfred Croft, the Director of Public Instruction, appointed Bose officiating professor of physics in Presidency College. The principal, C. H. Tawney, protested against the appointment but had to accept it.

Bose was not provided with facilities for research. On the contrary, he was a ‘victim of racialism’ with regard to his salary. In those days, an Indian professor was paid Rs. 200 per month, while his European counterpart received Rs. 300 per month. Since Bose was officiating, he was offered a salary of only Rs. 100 per month.With remarkable sense of self respect and national pride he decided on a new form of protest. Bose refused to accept the salary cheque. In fact, he continued his teaching assignment for three years without accepting any salary.Finally both the Director of Public Instruction and the Principal of the Presidency College fully realised the value of Bose’s skill in teaching and also his lofty character. As a result his appointment was made permanent with retrospective effect. He was given the full salary for the previous three years in a lump sum.

Presidency College lacked a proper laboratory. Bose had to conduct his research in a small 24-square-foot (2.2 m2) room. He devised equipment for the research with the help of one untrained tinsmith.Sister Nivedita wrote, “I was horrified to find the way in which a great worker could be subjected to continuous annoyance and petty difficulties ... The college routine was made as arduous as possible for him, so that he could not have the time he needed for investigation.” After his daily grind, which he of course performed with great conscientiousness, he carried out his research far into the night, in a small room in his college.

Moreover, the policy of the British government for its colonies was not conducive to attempts at original research. Bose spent his hard-earned money for making experimental equipment. Within a decade of his joining Presidency College, he emerged a pioneer in the incipient research field of wireless waves.


Microwave receiver and transmitter apparatus

Bose's 60 GHz microwave apparatus at the Bose Institute, Kolkata, India. His receiver(left) used a galena crystal detector inside a horn antenna and galvanometer to detect microwaves. Bose invented the crystal radio detector, waveguide, horn antenna, and other apparatus used at microwave frequencies.

The British theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell mathematically predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves of diverse wavelengths, but he died in 1879 before his prediction was experimentally verified. British physicist Oliver Lodge demonstrated the existence of Maxwell’s waves transmitted along wires in 1887-88. The German physicist Heinrich Hertz showed experimentally, in 1888, the existence of electromagnetic waves in free space. Subsequently, Lodge pursued Hertz’s work and delivered a commemorative lecture in June 1894 (after Hertz’s death) and published it in book form. Lodge’s work caught the attention of scientists in different countries including Bose in India.

The first remarkable aspect of Bose’s follow up microwave research was that he reduced the waves to the millimetre level (about 5 mm wavelength). He realised the disadvantages of long waves for studying their light-like properties.

In 1893, Nikola Tesla demonstrated the first public radio communication. One year later, during a November 1894 (or 1895) public demonstration at Town Hall of Kolkata, Bose ignited gunpowder and rang a bell at a distance using millimetre range wavelength microwaves. Lieutenant Governor Sir William Mackenzie witnessed Bose's demonstration in the Kolkata Town Hall. Bose wrote in a Bengali essay, Adrisya Alok (Invisible Light), “The invisible light can easily pass through brick walls, buildings etc. Therefore, messages can be transmitted by means of it without the mediation of wires.” In Russia, Popovperformed similar experiments. In December 1895, Popov's records indicate that he hoped for distant signalling with radio waves.

Bose’s first scientific paper, “On polarisation of electric rays by double-refracting crystals” was communicated to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in May 1895, within a year of Lodge’s paper. His second paper was communicated to the Royal Society of London by Lord Rayleigh in October 1895. In December 1895, the London journal the Electrician (Vol 36) published Bose’s paper, “On a new electro-polariscope”. At that time, the word ‘coherer’, coined by Lodge, was used in the English-speaking world for Hertzian wave receivers or detectors. The Electrician readily commented on Bose’s coherer. (December 1895). The Englishman (18 January 1896) quoted from the Electrician and commented as follows:

”Should Professor Bose succeed in perfecting and patenting his ‘Coherer’, we may in time see the whole system of coast lighting throughout the navigable world revolutionised by a Bengali scientist working single handed in our Presidency College Laboratory.”

Bose planned to “perfect his coherer” but never thought of patenting it.

In May 1897, two years after Bose's public demonstration in Kolkata, Marconi conducted his wireless signalling experiment on Salisbury Plain.Bose went to London on a lecture tour in 1896 and met Marconi, who was conducting wireless experiments for the British post office. In an interview, Bose expressed disinterest in commercial telegraphy and suggested others use his research work. In 1899, Bose announced the development of a "iron-mercury-iron cohererwith telephone detector" in a paper presented at the Royal Society, London.

Bose's demonstration of remote wireless signalling has priority over Marconi. He was the first to use a semiconductor junction to detect radio waves, and he invented various now commonplace microwave components. In 1954, Pearson and Brattain gave priority to Bose for the use of a semi-conducting crystal as a detector of radio waves. Further work at millimetre wavelengths was almost nonexistent for nearly 50 years. In 1897, Bose described to the Royal Institution in London his research carried out in Kolkata at millimetre wavelengths. He used waveguides, horn antennas, dielectric lenses, various polarisers and even semiconductors at frequencies as high as 60 GHz;ref name="Emerson" /> much of his original equipment is still in existence, now at theBose Institute in Kolkata. A 1.3 mm multi-beam receiver now in use on the NRAO 12 Metre Telescope, Arizona, U.S.A. incorporates concepts from his original 1897 papers.

Sir Nevill Mott, Nobel Laureate in 1977 for his own contributions to solid-state electronics, remarked that "J.C. Bose was at least 60 years ahead of his time" and "In fact, he had anticipated the existence of P-type and N-type semiconductors."ref name="Emerson" />


His major contribution in the field of biophysics was the demonstration of the electrical nature of the conduction of various stimuli (e.g., wounds, chemical agents) in plants, which were earlier thought to be of a chemical nature. These claims were later proven experimentally by Wildon et al. (Nature, 1992, 360, 62–65). He was also the first to study the action of microwaves in plant tissues and corresponding changes in the cell membrane potential. He researched the mechanism of the seasonal effect on plants, the effect of chemical inhibitors on plant stimuli, the effect of temperature etc. From the analysis of the variation of the cell membrane potential of plants under different circumstances, he hypothesised that plants can "feel pain, understand affection etc.".


In 1896, Bose wrote Niruddesher Kahini, the first major work in Bangla science fiction. Later, he added the story in the Abyakta book as Palatak Tuphan. He was the first science fiction writer in theBengali language.


The inventor of "Wireless Telecommunications", Bose was not interested in patenting his invention. In his Friday Evening Discourse at the Royal Institution, London, he made public his construction of the coherer. Thus The Electric Engineer expressed "surprise that no secret was at anytime made as to its construction, so that it has been open to all the world to adopt it for practical and possibly moneymaking purposes." Bose declined an offer from a wireless apparatus manufacturer for signing a remunerative agreement. Bose also recorded his attitude towards patents in his inaugural lecture at the foundation of the Bose Institute on 30 November 1917.


Bose’s place in history has now been re-evaluated, and he is credited with the invention of the first wireless detection device and the discovery of millimetre length electromagnetic waves and considered a pioneer in the field of biophysics.

Many of his instruments are still on display and remain largely usable now, over 100 years later. They include various antennas, polarisers, and waveguides, which remain in use in modern forms today.

To commemorate his birth centenary in 1958, the JBNSTS scholarship programme was started in West Bengal.

Alfred Nobel's Bibliography

Alfred Bernhard Nobel (21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He was the inventor of dynamite. Nobel also owned Bofors, which he had redirected from its previous role as primarily an iron and steel producer to a major manufacturer of cannon and other armaments. Nobel held 350 different patents, dynamite being the most famous. He used his fortune to posthumously institute the Nobel Prizes. The synthetic element nobelium was named after him. His name also survives in modern-day companies such as Dynamit Nobel and Akzo Nobel, which are descendents of the companies Nobel himself established.


Born in Stockholm, Alfred Nobel was the fourth son of Immanuel Nobel (1801–1872), an inventor and engineer, and Andriette Ahlsell Nobel (1805–1889).The couple married in 1827 and had eight children, although, beset by poverty, only Alfred and his three brothers survived past childhood. Through his father, Alfred Nobel was a descendant of the Swedish scientist Olaus Rudbeck (1630-1702) and the boy, in his turn, was interested in engineering, and especially explosives, from a young age, learning the basic principles from his father.

Following various business failures, Nobel's father moved to Saint Petersburg in 1837 and grew successful there as a manufacturer of machine tools and explosives. He invented modern plywood and started a "torpedo" works. In 1842, the family joined him in the city. Now prosperous, his parents were able to send Nobel to private tutors and the boy excelled in his studies, particularly in chemistry and languages, achieving fluency in English, French, German and Russian. For 18 months, during 1841–1842, Nobel went to the only school he ever attended as a child, the Jacobs Apologistic School in Stockholm.

As a young man, Nobel studied with chemist Nikolai Zinin, then in 1850 went to Paris to further the work and at 18, he went to the United States for four years to study chemistry, collaborating for a short period under inventor John Ericsson who designed the American Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. Nobel filed his first patent, for a gas meter, in 1857.

The family factory produced armaments for the Crimean War (1853 – 1856) but had difficulty switching back to regular domestic production when the fighting ended and they filed for bankruptcy. In 1859, Nobel's father left his factory in the care of the second son, Ludvig Nobel (1831–1888), who greatly improved the business. Nobel and his parents returned to Sweden from Russia and Nobel devoted himself to the study of explosives, and especially to the safe manufacture and use of nitroglycerine (discovered in 1847 by Ascanio Sobrero, one of his fellow students under Théophile-Jules Pelouze at the University of Turin). Nobel invented a detonator in 1863 and in 1865 he designed the blasting cap.

On 3 September 1864 a shed, used for the preparation of nitroglycerin, exploded at the factory in Heleneborg Stockholm, killing five people, including Nobel's younger brother Emil. Dogged by more minor accidents but unfazed, Nobel went on to build further factories, focusing on improving the stability of the explosives he was developing. Nobel invented dynamite in 1867, a substance easier and safer to handle than the more unstable nitroglycerin. Dynamite was patented in the US and the UK and was used extensively in mining and the building of transport networks internationally. In 1875 Nobel invented gelignite, more stable and powerful than dynamite, and in 1887 patented ballistite, a forerunner of cordite.

Nobel was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1884, the same institution that would later select laureates for two of the Nobel prizes, and he received an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in 1893.

Nobel's brothers Ludvig and Robert exploited oilfields along the Caspian Sea and became hugely rich in their own right. Nobel invested in these and amassed great wealth through the development of these new oil regions. During his life Nobel issued 350 patents internationally and by his death had established 90 armaments factories, despite his belief in pacifism.

In 1891, following the death of his mother and his brother Ludvig and the end of a long standing relationship, Nobel moved from Paris to San Remo, Italy. Suffering from angina, Nobel died at home, of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1896. Unbeknownst to his family, friends or colleagues, he had left most of his wealth in trust, in order to fund the awards that would become known as the Nobel Prizes. He is buried in Norra begravningsplatsen in Stockholm


Nobel travelled for much of his business life, maintaining companies in various countries in Europe and North America and keeping a permanent home in Paris from 1873 to 1891. He remained a solitary character, given to periods of depression. Though Nobel remained unmarried, his biographers note that he had at least three loves. Nobel's first love was in Russia with a girl named Alexandra, who rejected his proposal. In 1876 Austro-Bohemian Countess Bertha Kinsky became Alfred Nobel's secretary. But after only a brief stay she left him to marry her previous lover, Baron Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner. Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896, and it is believed that she was a major influence in his decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will. Bertha von Suttner was awarded the 1905 Nobel Peace prize, 'for her sincere peace activities'.

Nobel's third and longest-lasting relationship was with Sofie Hess who was from Vienna, whom he met in 1876.The liaison lasted for 18 years. After his death, according to his biographers Evlanoff, Fluor, and Fant, Nobel's letters were locked within the Nobel Institute in Stockholm. They were released only in 1955, to be included with the biographical data of Nobel.

Sri Kantha has suggested that 'the one personal trait of Nobel that helped him to sharpen his creativity include his talent for information access, via his multi-lingual skills. Despite the lack of formal secondary and tertiary level education, Nobel gained proficiency in six languages: Swedish, French, Russian, English, German and Italian. He also developed literary skills to write poetry in English.' His Nemesis, a prose tragedy in four acts about Beatrice Cenci, partly inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley's The Cenci, was printed while he was dying. The entire stock except for three copies was destroyed immediately after his death, being regarded as scandalous and blasphemous. The first surviving edition (bilingual Swedish–Esperanto) was published in Sweden in 2003. The play has been translated to Slovenianvia the Esperanto version and to French. In 2010 it was published in Russia as another bilingual (Russian–Esperanto) edition.

From Nitroglycerin to Dynamite.Alfred Nobel's Dynamite

Invented in 1866 by Alfred Nobeldynamite's cylindrical shape perfectly fit ...


Nobel found that when nitroglycerin was incorporated in an absorbent inert substance like kieselguhr (diatomaceous earth) it became safer and more convenient to handle, and this mixture he patented in 1867 as 'dynamite'. Nobel demonstrated his explosive for the first time that year, at a quarry in Redhill, Surrey, England. In order to help reestablish his name and improve the image of his business from the earlier controversies associated with the dangerous explosives, Nobel had also considered naming the highly powerful substance "Nobel's Safety Powder", but settled with Dynamite instead, referring to the Greek word for 'power'.

Nobel later on combined nitroglycerin with various nitrocellulose compounds, similar to collodion, but settled on a more efficient recipe combining another nitrate explosive, and obtained a transparent, jelly-like substance, which was a more powerful explosive than dynamite. 'Gelignite', or blasting gelatin, as it was named, was patented in 1876; and was followed by a host of similar combinations, modified by the addition of potassium nitrate and various other substances. Gelignite was more stable, transportable and conveniently formed to fit into bored holes, like those used in drilling and mining, than the previously used compounds and was adopted as the standard technology for mining in the Age of Engineering bringing Nobel a great amount of financial success, though at a significant cost to his health. An off-shoot of this research resulted in Nobel's invention of ballistite, the precursor of many modern smokeless powder explosives and still used as a rocket propellant.


In 1888 Alfred's brother Ludvig died while visiting Cannes and a French newspaper erroneously published Alfred's obituary. It condemned him for his invention of dynamite and is said to have brought about his decision to leave a better legacy after his death. The obituary stated Le marchand de la mort est mort ("The merchant of death is dead") and went on to say, "Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday." Alfred was disappointed with what he read and concerned with how he would be remembered. On 27 November 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Nobel signed his last will and testament and set aside the bulk of his estate to establish the Nobel Prizes, to be awarded annually without distinction of nationality. After taxes and bequests to individuals, Nobel's will gave 31,225,000 Swedish kronor (equivalent to about 1.8 billion kronor or 250 million US dollars in 2008) to fund the prizes.

The first three of these prizes are awarded for eminence in physical science, in chemistry and in medical science or physiology; the fourth is for literary work "in an ideal direction" and the fifth prize is to be given to the person or society that renders the greatest service to the cause of international fraternity, in the suppression or reduction of standing armies, or in the establishment or furtherance of peace congresses. There is no prize awarded for mathematics, but see Abel Prize.

The formulation for the literary prize being given for a work "in an ideal direction" (i idealisk riktning in Swedish), is cryptic and has caused much confusion. For many years, the Swedish Academy interpreted "ideal" as "idealistic" (idealistisk) and used it as a reason not to give the prize to important but less Romantic authors, such as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy. This interpretation has since been revised, and the prize has been awarded to, for example, Dario Fo and José Saramago, who do not belong to the camp of literary idealism.

There was room for interpretation by the bodies he had named for deciding on the physical sciences and chemistry prizes, given that he had not consulted them before making the will. In his one-page testament, he stipulated that the money go to discoveries or inventions in the physical sciences and to discoveries or improvements in chemistry. He had opened the door to technological awards, but had not left instructions on how to deal with the distinction between science and technology. Since the deciding bodies he had chosen were more concerned with the former, the prizes went to scientists and not to engineers, technicians or other inventors.

In 2001, Alfred Nobel's great-grandnephew, Peter Nobel (b. 1931), asked the Bank of Sweden to differentiate its award to economists given "in Alfred Nobel's memory" from the five other awards. This has caused much controversy whether the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is actually a "Nobel Prize"

Approaching its 18th year, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week is the city's most exciting fashion event

Attracting more than 100,000 people to the city every year, and with a program that features over 200 events, Melbourne Spring Fashion Week (MSFW) plays a crucial role in showcasing the collections of established designers as well as those who are new and emerging.
Visitors will see Melbourne at its best, with the city's cultural delights on show and our chic retail strips and laneways hosting fresh and stimulating fashion and design. After dark there are exciting discoveries to be made in the city's newest bars and restaurants.
Importantly, MSFW also provides many opportunities for learning about the industry and fosters innovation, education and growth in the sector.
MSFW is proudly presented by the City of Melbourne.

The Google Android Tablet: Coming Soon?

Watch out, iPad: Google may be getting into the tablet game. In a move reminiscent of its recent step into mobile phone design, Google is reportedly working on its own custom Android-powered tablet.
Most of the specifics are still unknown -- what features a Google tablet would include, for example, or who would manufacture it -- but if there's one thing we can count on, it's with whom a Google-made tablet would compete. 
Google Android Tablet: What We Know  
The Google Android tablet news comes by way of a story published in The New York Times on Sunday. The story, a piece about upcoming competition to Apple's iPad, states that Google is currently "exploring the idea" of creating its own tablet computing device. The gadget is described as "an e-reader that would function like a computer."The info, according to The Times, comes straight from the big dog's mouth: Google CEO Eric Schmidt is said to have divulged the Google tablet scoop while chatting with friends at a recent party in L.A. Other insiders supposedly confirmed the concept. "People with direct knowledge of the project -- who did not want to be named because they said they were unauthorized to speak publicly about the device -- said the company had been experimenting in 'stealth mode' with a few publishers to explore delivery of books, magazines and other content on a tablet."


Envisioning a Google Android Tablet
Knowing the principles of the Android operating system, one can make a few educated guesses about what a Google Android tablet could be and how it might compare to Apple's iPad. First and foremost, it'd likely be a far more open device in terms of customization: While Apple tends to maintain a tight grip on its user experience, Android-based devices typically allow users to configure the interface to their likings and replace stock components as they choose. The same principle applies to applications: Compared to Apple's highly controlled approach to app development and approval, Google's Android Market for apps allows anyone to submit and publish programs without scrutiny. Android-powered devices -- with the exception of those that run on AT&T -- also let users download apps from unofficial third-party sources. One would imagine these qualities would be among the basic tenets of a Google-made Android tablet.
Along those same lines, a Google Android tablet would likely provide support for Flash -- something Apple has long forbidden on its mobile computing devices. The existence of an open app marketplace could also mean immediate support for tethering, as we've seen happen via third-party utilities on Android phones. And, of course, any Android tablet would presumably provide feature-rich apps for Google services such as Gmail and Google Voice, something Apple also does not permit.As for the device's form, Google has previously published conceptual images of how a Google-centric tablet might look. Those concepts, however, revolved around the idea of a Chrome OS-based tablet, so they may or may not apply to an Android-based design.

Google Android Tablet: A Reality Check
It's fun to imagine what a Google Android tablet could do, but don't let some of the headlines out there fool you: From what we know so far, there's no reason to believe a Google-made Android tablet is an "imminent" or even a certain thing.
Read back over what the info provided by The New York Times actually states: Google is "exploring the idea" of building a tablet device. It is "experimenting" with possibilities. Despite some bloggers' tendencies to fill in the blanks with big words, there's no indication that this is a done deal, let alone something that's likely to occur at any moment.
We do know, however, that a slew of new tablets is on the way for 2010, and many of them are expected to be powered by Android. So whether or not Google ends up building its own tablet, numerous new options will soon be headed our way. The iPad may have been the first serious contender, but it won't be the only one for long.

Symptoms of Colorectal Cancer

A visit to the doctor can only make sure, if you are protected from this life threatening illness. This online search will just help you recognize the colon cancer symptoms . Symptoms of the colon cancer might not be detected in the early stages as colon cancer grows undetected for many years. Moreover many symptoms associated with the bowel cancer can also be related to other health diseases. The symptoms may also differ depending on the size and location of the cancer in the colon. However there are number of symptoms attributed to the colon cancer.
  • Skinny excretion from the digestive system for a period longer than two weeks
  • Continuous stomach ache, constipation, nausea and vomiting for over two weeks
  • Glossy blood on your feces
  • Loss of body weight without any known reasons
  • Changes in your feces routine
  • Perceiving that you abdomen does not empty completely
There are some steps you need to take immediately after the occurrence of any of these above mentioned symptoms.Consulting a doctor and having a detailed discussion regarding the changes you are going through.

Do not delay in having a screening test for colon cancer, if recommended by the doctor.
If you are experiencing symptoms like blood in stools and dark (black) stools, you should insist on having a colonoscopy. There are numerous cases of colon cancer in which these two symptoms appeared but were assumed as minor digestion problem by the doctors.

Metastatic Colon Cancer Symptoms
In colon cancer when the cancerous cells move to the other organs including liver, lungs and bones it is termed as metastatic.
This advancement of the cancer to the liver includes symptoms like pale skin,  swelling and pain in the abdominal area, loss of weight, lack of appetite, nausea and sickness. The size of the live may increase (hepatomegaly) due to numerous cancerous cells that have reached the liver. A fluid (ascites) may also be present in the live due to metastatic colon cancer. Jaundice can also be caused because of the travel of cancer to the liver which can result in yellow skin and eyes along with itching problems.
When the cancer has reached to the lungs one might experience chest pains , cough and blood in spits and exhaustion or shortness of breath.
In colon cancer the cancerous cells rarely advance to the bones, but it occurs when the cancer has attained the most advanced stage and its spread is wide. Pain, broken and fragile bones are indication of this advancement of cancer.
Causes Of Colon Cancer Symptoms
As large intestine is an empty muscular tube , so the cancerous polyps in the intestine might partially block it causing thin stools. Due to the entire blockage of colon, because of cancerous growth you might experience abdominal pain, vomiting and afterwards complete constipation. Surgical treatment is necessary in this scenario.The presence of polyps in the colon is responsible for rectal bleeding or the blood in stools. The cancerous cells inside the colon utilize the blood and nutrients from the food you consume and this utilization can not be detected easily and for the same reason one feels extremely tired and exhausted. The cancerous cells in the large intestine also give rise to the feeling of fullness and you seldom feel hungry resulting in loss of appetite.
Understanding Signs Of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer could be existing for quite a while before any colon cancer symptoms appear.The symptoms vary according to the position of cancerous cells in the large bowel.The right side of the colon is bigger and the cancerous cells on the right grow large in number before the occurrence of any symptoms.. Typically, right-sided malignancies cause anemia as a result of the sluggish loss of bloodstream over the longer period of time. Iron deficiency anemia leads to tiredness, weakness, and difficulty in breathing. The left side of digestive tract is narrow compared to the right digestive tract. Therefore, cancer cells on the left intestinal tract are usually more likely to trigger incomplete or even full colon obstruction. Cancer creating partial colon impediment may cause signs of bowel problems, thin stools, diarrhoea, abdominal aches and aches, cramps, and also bloatedness. Vibrant red blood vessels in the feces could also indicate cancer growth at the end of the colon.

Officials probe Bronx SUV accident that killed 7

Three generations of a family died in a horrifying crash just a few miles from home when the SUV they were traveling in plunged more than 50 feet off a highway overpass and into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, killing all seven aboard, including three children.
"Sometimes you come upon events that are horrific and this is one of them," FDNY deputy Chief Ronald Werner said shortly after the crash.
Authorities were trying to determine what caused Sunday's accident that killed Jacob Nunez, 85, and Ana Julia Martinez, 81, both from the Dominican Republic, their daughters, Maria Gonzalez, 45, and Maria Nunez, 39, and three grandchildren. Police say Gonzalez was driving.
The children were identified as Jocelyn Gonzalez, 10, the daughter of the driver, Niely Rosario, 7, and Marly Rosario, 3, both daughters of Nunez.

One World Trade Center will soon be West's tallest tower

Soon the iconic Empire State Building will no longer be the king of the city skyline.
By Monday, the rising steel frame of One World Trade Center is expected to surpass the 1930s vintage skyscraper, passing the title of tallest building in the city — and in the Western Hemisphere— to lower Manhattan.
Weather permitting, the heir to the title of tallest building in New York, which was held by the Twin Towers from the early 1970s until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, will change hands, said Patrick Foye, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director.
"One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in Manhattan in days," he said Thursday, after the Port Authority's board of commissioners meeting.
At 1,776-feet and 104 floors, the new tower will be 408 feet taller than the Twin Towers, according to data from the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a not-for-profit group that tracks the building industry.
Once completed, One World Trade Center would surpass the 1,451-foot Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago to become the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, according to council spokesman Kevin Brass. The tallest building in the world remains the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,717 feet.
Construction of One World Trade Center is on track and won't be completed until the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014, Foye said. He added the structure is about 55 percent leased and is "poised to be a commercial success."
Foye also reported "incredible progress" on the PATH transportation hub, which will connect with the World Financial Center and subway lines at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Fulton Street Transit Center.
"The hub is coming along nicely. It is at grade level in places," Foye said. "Steel continues to be fabricated and erected; the underground hallway from (World Financial Center) to Fulton Street is being worked on."
Bright spot
The news of One World Trade Center reclaiming the sky was a bright spot for a World Trade Center redevelopment project that has been plagued by cost overruns, delays and headaches for the agency.
A report by Navigant Consulting Inc. and Rothschild Inc. found that World Trade Center redevelopment costs grew from an estimated $11 billion in 2008 to a current estimate of some $14.8 billion. Port Authority officials reiterated that after reimbursements from third parties are factored in, the estimated net of that cost increase grew from $6 billion to approximately $7.7 billion at the site.
A second report that examines the Port Authority's $25 billion capital program is due midyear, Foye said.
"People from Navigant are stationed here and working quite hard," he said.
Another issue for the project -- getting reimbursement from third parties for work done on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and other improvements made at the WTC site -- is still under negotiation, but Foye sounded an encouraging note.
The Navigant report identified $1.57 billion in additional costs at the WTC site attributed to "add-on" projects being built by the Port Authority on behalf of other agencies, for which the authority is seeking reimbursement.
So far, the Port Authority has received $40 million from the Battery Park City Authority, $2 million from Lower Manhattan Development Council, $100 million from Durst Corporation for a minority equity interest in Tower 1 Joint Venture LLC and a $2.6 billion federal grant for the WTC Transportation Hub, officials have said.
'Money pit'?
Founders of the Twin Towers Alliance, which lobbied for reconstruction of a modern set of towers and serves as a watchdog group on the project, continued to press the Port Authority for information about redevelopment decisions that cost time and billions of dollars at the WTC site.
"You're using the money of the taxpayers and commuters of New York and New Jersey to fill this money pit with billions and billions of dollars," said Richard Hughes, a co-founder of the alliance.
He questioned whether incentives were extended to companies that have leased space in the tower, and what will happen to tolls and fees if the remaining space can't be rented.
The Port Authority's board of commissioners also approved an agreement Thursday with the Durst Organization, to partner with the Port Authority in construction, operation and leasing of the 408-foot broadcast antenna that will top One World Trade Center.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stephen Hawking's Bibliography

Stephen Hawking being presented by his daughter Lucy Hawking at the lecture he gave for NASA's 50th anniversary

Hawking in 2007, experiencing zero gravity

Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA (born 8 January 1942) is a British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author. His key scientific works to date have included providing, with Roger Penrose, theorems regarding gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity, and the theoretical prediction that black holes should emit radiation, which is today known as Hawking radiation (or sometimes as Bekenstein–Hawking radiation).

He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and in 2009 was awarded thePresidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge between 1979 and 2009. Subsequently, he became research director at the university's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology.

Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has progressed over the years. He is now almost completely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device. He has been married twice and has three children. Hawking has achieved success with works of popular science in which he discusses his own theories and cosmology in general; these include A Brief History of Time, which stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.

Early Life & Education:

Stephen Hawking was born on 8 January 1942 to Frank Hawking, a research biologist, and Isobel Hawking. He has two younger sisters, Philippa and Mary, and an adopted brother, Edward. Although Hawking's parents were living in North London, they moved to Oxford while his mother was pregnant with Stephen, desiring a safer location for the birth of their first child (London was under attack at the time by theLuftwaffe).

After Hawking was born, the family moved back to London, where his father headed the division of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research. In 1950, Hawking and his family moved to St Albans, Hertfordshire, where he attended St Albans High School for Girls from 1950 to 1953 (At that time, boys could attend the girls' school until the age of 10). From the age of 11, he attended St Albans School, where he was a good, but not exceptional, student.

Inspired by his mathematics teacher, Hawking originally wanted to study the subject at university. However, Hawking's father wanted him to apply to University College, Oxford, where his father had attended. As University College did not have a mathematics fellow at that time, applications were not accepted from students who wished to study that discipline. Hawking therefore applied to read natural sciences, in which he gained a scholarship. Once at University College, Hawking specialised in physics. His interests during this time were in thermodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. While at Oxford, he coxed a rowing team, which, he stated, helped relieve his immense boredom at the university. His physics tutor, Robert Berman, later said in The New York Times Magazine: "It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it. ... Of course, his mind was completely different from all of his contemporaries".

Hawking's unimpressive study habits resulted in a final examination score on the borderline between first and second class honours, making an "oral examination" necessary. Berman said of the oral examination: "And of course the examiners then were intelligent enough to realize they were talking to someone far more clever than most of themselves". After receiving his B.A. degree at Oxford in 1962, he left for graduate work at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He earned his Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1966 and has over a dozen honorary degrees.


Almost as soon as he arrived at Cambridge, Hawking started developing symptoms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, known colloquially in the United States as Lou Gehrig's disease), a type of motor neurone disease which would cost him almost all neuromuscular control. During his first two years at Cambridge, he did not distinguish himself, but, after the disease had stabilised and with the help of his doctoral tutor, Dennis William Sciama, he returned to working on his PhD.

In the late 1960s, he and his Cambridge friend and colleague, Roger Penrose, applied a new, complex mathematical model they had created from Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. This led, in 1970, to Hawking proving the first of many singularity theorems; such theorems provide a set of sufficient conditions for the existence of a gravitational singularity in space-time. This work showed that, far from being mathematical curiosities which appear only in special cases, singularities are a fairly generic feature of general relativity.

Hawking was elected one of the youngest Fellows of the Royal Society in 1974, and in the same year he accepted the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to work with his friend, Kip Thorne, who was a faculty member there. He continues to have ties with Caltech, spending a month each year there since 1992.

He supplied a mathematical proof, along with Brandon Carter, Werner Israel and D. Robinson, of John Wheeler's no-hair theorem – that any black hole is fully described by the three properties of mass, angular momentum, and electric charge. Following analysis of gamma ray emissions, Hawking suggested that after the Big Bang, primordial miniature black holes were formed. With Bardeen and Carter, he proposed the four laws of black hole mechanics, drawing an analogy with thermodynamics. In 1974, he calculated that black holes should thermally create and emit subatomic particles, known today as Bekenstein-Hawking radiation, until they exhaust their energy and evaporate.

In collaboration with Jim Hartle, Hawking developed a model in which the universe had no boundary in space-time, replacing the initial singularity of the classical Big Bang models with a region akin to the North Pole: one cannot travel north of the North Pole, as there is no boundary. While originally the no-boundary proposal predicted a closed universe, discussions with Neil Turok led to the realisation that the no-boundary proposal is also consistent with a universe which is not closed.

Along with Thomas Hertog at CERN, in 2006 Hawking proposed a theory of "top-down cosmology", which says that the universe had no unique initial state, and therefore it is inappropriate for physicists to attempt to formulate a theory that predicts the universe's current configuration from one particular initial state.Top-down cosmology posits that in some sense, the present "selects" the past from a superposition of many possible histories. In doing so, the theory suggests a possible resolution of the fine-tuning question.

Hawking was the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for 30 years, taking up the post in 1979 and retiring on 1 October 2009.Subsequently, he became research director at the university's Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. He is also a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, and a distinguished research chair at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.


On 19 December 2007, a statue of Hawking by artist Ian Walters was unveiled at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology, University of Cambridge. The Stephen W. Hawking Science Museum in San Salvador, El Salvador, is named in honour of Stephen Hawking, citing his scientific distinction and perseverance in dealing with adversity.The Stephen Hawking Building in Cambridge opened on 17 April 2007. The building belongs to Gonville and Caius College and is used as an undergraduate accommodation and conference facility.

Awards and honours:

1975 Eddington Medal
1976 Hughes Medal of the Royal Society
1979 Albert Einstein Medal
1981 Franklin Medal
1982 Order of the British Empire (Commander)
1985 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
1986 Member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences
1988 Wolf Prize in Physics
1989 Companion of Honour
1999 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society
2003 Michelson Morley Award of Case Western Reserve University
2006 Copley Medal of the Royal Society
2008 Fonseca Prize of the University of Santiago de Compostela
2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the United States

Personal Life:

Hawking has stated that, having been diagnosed with ALS during an early stage of his graduate work, he did not see much point in obtaining a doctorate if he were to die soon after. Hawking later said that the real turning point was his 1965 marriage to Jane Wilde, a language student. Jane cared for him until 1990 when the couple separated. They had three children: Robert, Lucy, and Timothy. Hawking married his personal care assistant, Elaine Mason, in 1995;the couple divorced In October 2006 amid claims by former nurses that she had abused him. In 1999, Jane Hawking published a memoir, Music to Move the Stars, detailing the marriage and its breakdown; in 2010 she published a revised version, Travelling to Infinity, My Life with Stephen.

Hawking supports the children's charity SOS Children's Villages UK and has stated that his view on how to live life is to "seek the greatest value of our action". He strongly opposed the Iraq War, calling it "a war crime" and "based on two lies" at a demonstration in Trafalgar Square, where he participated in a public reading of the names of Iraqi war victims.

Hawking has named his secondary school mathematics teacher Dikran Tahta as an inspiration. He maintains his connection with St Albans School, giving his name to one of the four houses and to an extracurricular science lecture series.


Hawking has a motor neurone disease that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a condition that has progressed over the years. He is now almost completely paralysed and communicates through a speech generating device. Hawking's illness has progressed more slowly than typical cases of ALS: survival for more than 10 years after diagnosis is uncommon.

Symptoms of the disorder first appeared while he was enrolled at University of Cambridge; he lost his balance and fell down a flight of stairs, hitting his head. The diagnosis of motor neurone disease came when Hawking was 21, shortly before his first marriage, and doctors said he would not survive more than two or three years. By 1974, he was unable to feed himself or get out of bed. His speech became slurred so that he could be understood only by people who knew him well. During a visit to CERN in Geneva in 1985, Hawking contracted pneumonia, which in his condition was life-threatening as it further restricted his already limited respiratory capacity. He had an emergency tracheotomy, and as a result lost what remained of his ability to speak.A speech generating device was built in Cambridge, using software from an American company, that enabled Hawking to write onto a computer with small movements of his body, and then have a voice synthesiser speak what he typed.

The particular voice synthesiser hardware he uses, which has an American English accent, is no longer being produced. Asked why he has still kept the same voice after so many years, Hawking stated that he has not heard a voice he likes better and that he identifies with it even though the synthesiser is both large and fragile by current standards. Although a mid-2009 corporate press release said that he had chosen NeoSpeech's VoiceText speech synthesiser as his new voice, a 30 December 2011 interview with Hawking's technician indicates that Hawking is still using an older synthesiser containing a card "which dates back to the 1980s" and that any upgrade would have to be the same voice, otherwise "it wouldn't be Stephen's voice any more".

For lectures and media appearances, Hawking appears to speak fluently through his synthesiser; however when preparing answers his system produces words at a rate of about one per minute. Hawking's setup uses a predictive text entry system, which requires only the first few characters in order to auto-complete the word, but as he is only able to use his cheek for data entry, constructing complete sentences takes time. During a TED Conference talk, it took him seven minutes to provide a brief answer to a question.

He describes himself as lucky, despite his disease. Its slow progression has allowed him time to make influential discoveries and has not hindered him from having, in his own words, "a very attractive family".When his wife, Jane, was asked why she decided to marry a man with a three-year life expectancy, she responded, "Those were the days of atomic gloom and doom, so we all had a rather short life expectancy".


Hawking's first popular science book, A Brief History of Time, was published on 1 April 1988. It stayed on the British Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks.A Brief History of Time was followed by The Universe in a Nutshell (2001). A collection of essays titled Black Holes and Baby Universes (1993) was also popular. His book, A Briefer History of Time (2005), co-written by Leonard Mlodinow, updated his earlier works to make them accessible to a wider audience. In 2007 Hawking and his daughter, Lucy Hawking, published George's Secret Key to the Universe, a children's book focusing on science that Lucy Hawking described as "a bit like Harry Potter but without the magic."

“The WTO is your partner in achieving your development goals”-Speech of Pascal Lamy at Dhaka University's 46th Convocation

Director-General Pascal Lamy, in receiving an honorary doctorate degree from the Dhaka University in Bangladesh on 31 March 2012, said that “trade—both imports and exports—in least developed countries can make a vital contribution to development and to poverty reduction”. He encouraged Bangladesh to “continue its leadership role on issues among LDCs”. This is what he said:

It is my very great pleasure to be here today at this premier institution in such beautiful surroundings and with such distinguished alumni.

The theme I shall address today is the World Trade Organization and Least-developed Countries and my message is a simple one: The multilateral trading system, which the WTO oversees, is integral to the development prospects of least-developed countries (LDCs).

International trade contributes significantly to growth and development in the LDCs. Trade accounts for two-thirds of the 7 per cent annual growth that LDCs have recorded over the past decade.

Bangladesh has done particularly well and is well-positioned for the future. Three of the five fastest growing markets for LDC exports are regional partners: China, India and Thailand.

Yet even though LDC trade grew twice as fast as world trade in the last decade and has doubled its share in global trade, it still accounts for only 1 per cent of world trade.

As the world’s most populous LDC, Bangladesh has a natural leadership role to play. As the coordinator of the LDC Group in 2003, 2007 and again in 2011, Bangladesh has ably advanced the interest of LDCs within the WTO. Bangladesh’s ability to translate WTO flexibilities for the world’s poorest nations into trade and development outcomes is an example for all LDCs

Of course, if Bangladesh is to continue in its leadership role, it needs leaders. This country needs an internet generation that will twitter, blog and network Bangladesh into the global economy. This institution, where noble laureates are forged, and you its students stand out even in a country of 160 million people. You are privileged to have the opportunity to be students at a time of momentous change for Bangladesh and the global economy.


The World Trade Organization celebrates its 17th birthday this year. On paper a relatively young institution, it traces its history back to the same post-war settlement from which the United Nations and Bretton Woods institutions were born. Indeed, the underlying philosophy of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the precursor body to the WTO, was that the “beggar thy neighbour” policies which contributed to the violent nationalism and aggression of the 1930s and 1940s should be consigned to the past.

It is a message that still resonates today. Protectionism is by its very nature a source of conflict and it deprives others of the benefit of their talents — their comparative advantage. And in so doing, it raises the costs for all, producers and consumers alike, while creating economic inefficiency. Protectionism impoverishes. And for the least-developed, its impact is especially pernicious given the route which trade offers out of poverty.

Through the GATT, the so-called “contracting parties” at the time set about gradually achieving substantial reductions of tariffs and other barriers to trade and the elimination of discriminatory treatment in international commerce. But this trade opening is not an end in itself. Supported by the right mix of economic and social policies, trade can be a means to raise standards of living, ensure full employment and achieve sustainable development. These are among the most important objectives set for the World Trade Organization.

Opening markets gradually under an umbrella of global rules has been a catalyst in the expansion of global trade. Trade grew 22-fold from 1950 to 2000 and the expansion has accelerated since then, with the notable exception of 2009 when the economic crisis resulted in a contraction unprecedented since the Second World War.

Over time, the organization has become broader in membership. There were 23 governments which had signed the GATT when it became operational in 1948. When the WTO opened its doors in 1995, there were 123 governments around the table. And today, once Montenegro, the Russian Federation, Samoa and Vanuatu complete the domestic ratification of their WTO accession packages, the number of members will have risen to 157. More than 97 per cent of global trade will be covered by the WTO.

Bangladesh joined the GATT in 1972 and was a founder member of the WTO. Today, 31 of the 48 LDCs are members of the WTO — with two on the verge of admission and a further ten in the process of accession. Thanks in part to Bangladeshi leadership, Ministers agreed in December to streamline the accession procedures for LDCs as a means of facilitating their membership in the WTO.

In addition to greater geographical coverage in membership, the WTO has become more complex as the spectrum of issues under consideration by members has broadened. The latest round of trade negotiations, the Doha Development Agenda, launched in 2001 includes agriculture subsidies and tariffs, market access in industrial goods, services, trade and environment, rules in such areas as subsidies and anti-dumping, rules on trade facilitation, intellectual property, and a range of issues where developing countries face challenges in implementing the present WTO agreements.

With a growing list of issues and ever more members, reaching a conclusion in our negotiations has become ever more challenging. Part of the reason for the current impasse in the global trade talks is the difficulty of striking an appropriate balance of benefits and concessions, in particular between developed and emerging countries — a balance which itself is being affected by structural changes in the global economy.

But acting as a forum for negotiation is only one of the functions of the WTO. Other key responsibilities of the organization include:
administering trade agreements
settling trade disputes
reviewing national trade policies and developments in global trade
assisting developing countries in building capacity to be active WTO citizens through technical assistance and training programmes.

WTO and LDCs — crafting rules to help LDCs enter the global trading system

A more open, transparent, non-discriminatory and rules based multilateral trading system can assist WTO members in realizing their potential in an increasingly globalized economy. For LDCs, it is a vital tool. The WTO consensus-driven decision-making gives LDCs a voice and a stake in the multilateral system which neither regional nor bilateral trade schemes can deliver. These benefits are recognized not just by the WTO, but also by the United Nation’s Programme of Action for LDCs, which under the “Istanbul Programme of Action for LDCs” provides a blueprint for international co-operation on integrating LDCs into the global economy.

Trade – both imports and exports – in LDCs can make a vital contribution to development and to poverty reduction. But LDCs also face particular difficulties arising from specific structural and capacity constraints. How does the WTO address these constraints? In essence, through negotiations to open markets and ensure a level playing field, through various forms of special and differential treatment, through trade preferences, through longer periods for implementing commitments as well as through Aid for Trade to build trade capacity.

The WTO system is built on reciprocity. If I agree to reduce my tariffs, I want my trading partners to do the same. But the system is adaptable and there is universal recognition among the members that one size cannot fit all. Special and differential treatment – the WTO code phrase for flexibilities — provides for derogations to this basic WTO principle for developing countries. These derogations can often result in lower levels of commitments or an exemption altogether from offering commitments.

For example, under the Agreement on Agriculture which came into force in 1995, LDCs were not required to undertake tariff or subsidy reduction commitments.

Another way the WTO addresses LDC concerns is through longer timeframes for implementation of commitments. Under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, LDCs have enjoyed two transition periods. The most recent transition period expires in mid-2013. One particular achievement of Bangladesh in its role as LDC coordinator at last year’s Ministerial Conference was the decision to give consideration to requests to further extend this transition period. Another decision which has benefited Bangladesh was the 2001 decision on TRIPS and Public Health, which extended this deadline on pharmaceutical patents to 2016. It has helped consolidate the emergence of national pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in Bangladesh.

Another way in which trade negotiators have sought to take into account the special needs of LDCs is through unilateral or non-reciprocal concessions. Duty-free and quota-free access in favour of LDCs is a commitment undertaken by WTO members at the launch of the Doha Round in 2001. Since then, most developed members have fully opened their markets to LDC imports, followed, more recently, by a number of emerging economies, such as China and India.

As a negotiating forum, the WTO also provides the space for LDCs to pursue their own commercial interests. Market access for industrial products is an area where Bangladesh has important interests. It is also the case in the area of services.

Services are often neglected by development practitioners who tend to concentrate their focus on manufactured goods. But in many economies, it is the services sector that is the largest employer. Improving productivity and providing market access opportunities will have many positive development spin-offs. Between 2000 and 2009, LDC merchandise exports grew at an average annual rate of 15 per cent. A lesser known fact is that LDC commercial service exports grew at the rate of 13 per cent. And by commercial services, I don’t just mean finance and insurance but also culture and entertainment. When the Bangla and English songs from the band “Miles” play on Indian Radio, this is an export — and one on which you will find an interesting story on our website. With its rich cultural heritage and impressive biodiversity, Bangladesh can also be an inviting tourist destination.

The experience of Bangladesh shows that foreign market access for services provided through temporary movements of professionals can have important positive effects in terms of improved availability of scarce foreign currency, improving the current-account balance, financing of higher levels of imports, economic growth, employment generation and poverty reduction. The value of remittances to Bangladesh’s economy is many times larger than aid or even foreign direct investment.

Last year, as coordinator of the LDC group, Bangladesh secured a waiver on services liberalization which gives legal cover to those WTO members willing to offer privileged access on a non-reciprocal basis to LDC service providers.

Another role which WTO can play is providing trade-related assistance to governmental officials, parliamentarians and civil society in developing countries to help them better understand WTO rules and to more ably defend their interest in the global trading system. Or to help academic and research institutions — such as Dhaka University — in building expertise on trade matters by educating future trade policy makers.

Trade-related assistance is part of the wider Aid for Trade initiative which the WTO co-ordinates. It aims at addressing supply-side and trade-related infrastructure constraints which often prevent developing countries from taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the multilateral trading system. Developing assistance for Aid for Trade has increased by 60 per cent since 2005 to reach some US$ 40 billion annually — of which some 30 per cent now goes to LDCs, in particular through the LDC focused “Enhanced Integrated Framework”.

From my vantage point, I can see that members are receptive to the special needs of LDCs. The challenge lies in ensuring LDCs turn these opportunities into realities. And here I return to my view that Bangladesh leads the way for other LDCs.

Turning development flexibilities into development outcomes

Let’s briefly consider the ready-made garment sector — a mainstay of Bangladesh’s economy and the source of more than 75 per cent of total exports and more than 3 million jobs, particularly for women. This sector accounts for over 10 per cent of GDP.

Between 1974 and 2004, world trade in textiles was governed by quotas limiting the amount that developing countries could export to developed countries. The phasing-out of the Multifibre Arrangement began with the debut of the WTO in 1995 and by 1 January 2005 all quotas on textiles and clothing had been eliminated. In many developing countries, including Bangladesh, there was considerable apprehension. Economists here and elsewhere issued dark predictions of doom for Bangladesh and its fledgling garment sector. The reality, I think you will agree, has been somewhat different.

Bangladesh’s garment sector has not just survived, it has thrived. Removing the quotas revealed Bangladesh’s comparative advantage. Unilateral preferences have also helped Bangladesh’s competitive edge. Simplification of the rules of origin governing duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market in 2010 has led to a surge in Bangladesh’s garment exports.

Similar achievements have also been registered in Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry, which has seen its growth consolidated by the flexibilities offered to LDCs under the WTO’s intellectual property rules. In this sense, Bangladesh is a model for other LDCs on how to use the flexibilities offered in the multilateral trading system to achieve development outcomes.

This development impact has been strikingly captured by last year’s household poverty survey, which showed a remarkable drop in rates of absolute poverty. Few countries anywhere in the world have recorded an 8.5 per cent drop in absolute poverty over a five-year period. Progressive trade opening has unquestionably helped Bangladesh reduce poverty.

Trade and LDCs: realizing the promise of the DDA

One challenge for Bangladesh is to expand the progress in the garment sector to other sectors of the economy. In short, to diversify so that economic shocks like the one we experienced with the recent crisis do not negatively affect Bangladesh’s trade and development outlook. Diversification spreads the risks.

Bangladesh’s Vision 2021 provides a compelling image of how Bangladesh sees itself going forward. The government is well on track to meet many of these time-bound targets, including achieving middle-income status by 2021.

The flexibilities in the WTO system are aiding Bangladesh’s growth and development. But as the country starts to push against the middle-income bracket, some of those flexibilities will begin to fall away as LDC graduation beckons. Managing this transition will require investing in services infrastructure, and in trade facilitation programmes, and it will require helping Bangladesh business better integrate in global value chains. In sum, it is a transformation that will require a great deal of strategic planning. In the WTO, you will find a willing and sympathetic partner.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Standing here amongst the next generation of Bangladesh’s leaders, I am struck by the opportunities which history confers on you. A vibrant private sector, active civil society and profound social transformation mean Bangladesh is poised to make the next leap to integrate into the global economy.

In 1993, only one in 500 people had access to a telephone. Not even a generation later, Bangladesh had over 56 million mobile phone subscribers.

International institutions tend to speak of development challenges. For the budding entrepreneurs amongst you, I encourage you to see development opportunities. Just think of the services which can now be run off those 56 million telephones. Consider the more than 100 million people who still need to be connected. It is evident that open markets spur innovation and change. Protectionism impoverishes and corrupts.

The WTO is your partner in achieving your development goals. In a world where regional and bilateral arrangements are growing in popularity, it offers a global forum in which members can come together on an equal footing.

I encourage Bangladesh to continue its leadership role on trade issues among LDCs. I encourage you, the students of this fine institution, to deliver on the vision of a Golden Bengal through your individual and collective efforts.

Thank you for your attention.

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