Wednesday, May 26, 2010

And Craig 'Vented' Life.......

Craig Venter did it again!. After 15 years of hard work, Craig Venter and his associates created the first synthetic genome, inserted it into a cell after replacing its original DNA and created a new life form!!!!!
This is the second
time that Craig has revolutionized the Genomics field. Couple of decades back, his sequencing approach, completed the Human Genome Project many years ahead of schedule. This time I think the impact is much more. The Econo
mist had the news on the cover page of their May 22nd issue. However the May 20th issue of Science covered it only as a News item deep inside the magazine! Unfortunately the scientific world has always viewed Mr.Venter with suspicion. Agreed he is a maverick, but isn't it time to fully acknowledge the man's contribution!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Poseidon's Steed - Helen Scales

Everything you wanted to know about seahorses, but didn't know where to ask!

This is a beautiful book that anybody can enjoy!

Imagine these wonderful creatures living in the ocean- miniature horses with rolling eyes and tiny monkey's tails. It was the males that had babies - no animals do that anymore - and they changed color as if by magic and danced elegant dances every day with their faithful partners. This is how Helen Scales describes the passion of her life - seahorses; elegantly written, researched in depth, the book provides everything that one would want to know about seahorses. How did such a strange creature evolve? How does their genome look like? Not only is the biology covered in detail, Helen's researches the history starting from the Greeks, how our ancestors perceived them, covering all surviving documentation and paintings. Helen goes to the extent of looking at antiques which depict seahorses, with many interesting side stories such as the stolen seahorse brooch from the Lydian Horde in Turkey. (For more on that story see 'Loot' by Sharon Waxman)

Where would one find seahorses? What do they eat? Why is there a black market trade in seahorses? How is global warming affecting them? Find all these out in this charming and easy to read book. You wont regret buying this book.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My friend Sancho - Amit Varma

India's Erich Segal?

Amit Varma's `My friend Sancho' reminded me of Erich Segal's "Love Story' that had captivated millions during the 70's. The background setting, the time period and the story line are different, but Amit's love story also has the same depth, humor and beauty as Erich's.

For me, it is a great feeling to see a new author with talent - and Amit Varma made my day - I discovered Amit thorugh his new column in Yahoo India, which led me to his blog `India Uncut'. His writing talent is pretty obvious in his articles, and hence I had no hesitation in buying his first novel `My friend Sancho' which was highlighted in the blog.

The story is set in Mumbai, India, the hero is a journalist who meets a girl whose father was mistakenly killed by the local police. The story is developed well and the book is a truly enjoyable read!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Borobudur - an amazing Buddhist Monument

About 50 Km from Yogyakarta in Indonesia, is Borobudur - an amazing Buddhist monument that can transport the visitor to another plane. Constructed around 750 AD by an unknown king of the Cailendra dynasty, the monument was abandoned after a couple of hundred years and soon got covered with volcanic ash and the jungle. Rediscovered after about 1000 years in the early 1800s, the monument has been restored - but not to its previous glory; many of the 500 odd Buddha statues are headless!! But still the massive monument built in stone with 10 levels, offer visitors many hours of pleasure in climbing and walking on the stone paved steps. Beautiful landscaped gardens around the monument and the old volcano of Mount Merapi in the background provides a special aura to the setting

The size and beauty can be really appreciated only by a visit - I would recommend that you stay in the resort inside the Borobudur complex which allows you to see the sunrise from the monument at 4.30 AM!

Enjoy the slide show!