About Me

My photo
I am mad(make a different).

Friday, February 25, 2011

World Cup: Australia thump Kiwis by seven wickets

Shane Watson
Mitchell Johnson
Assuming that captain Daniel Vettori was not pulling a faster one at the toss (they would have batted first anyway), he was expecting his batsmen to put their hands up and deliver.
New Zealand's top order indeed put their hands up. But it was an act of surrender (all out 206) in overcast conditions against a varied Australian pace attack on a tricky track.
The four-time champions accepted the gift, with part of their heart sympathetic to quake victims and part of their sleeves sporting black armbands. They won by seven wickets with 4.4 overs to spare at the VCA Jamtha stadium on Friday.
Australia recorded their 25th successive win at the World Cup (starting with the 1999 final against Pakistan) and extended their unbeaten streak to 31 games.
Left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson, ICC's Player of Year in 2009, ended with 4-33 and Shaun Tait 3-35. Openers Brad Haddin (55) and Shane Watson (62) shared the top gear between them to put on 133 for the first wicket. And though they perished one after the other, the twist was not on offer.
With Aussies needing 68 runs in 31 overs, Vettori opted for the powerplay (he could have set the same field without powerplay too), clearly hinting that he was practising for powerplays for remaining group games. With injured paceman Kyle Mills and consultant Allan Donald in the dressing room, he can't be too criticised for opening the attack with a spinner either.
Ricky Ponting's decision to win the toss and field was open for debate after 13 overs. He had to remove Shaun Tait from the attack after the speed demon conceded 20 in two overs. At 40/1, the Kiwis were trying to find their bearings when drinks were taken.
They must have taken proper care while selecting their bacteria-free drink at that time. But suddenly they lost the stomach for fight.
Johnson asked a probing question to left-handed Jesse Ryder. The ball was angled in and straightened a little bit after pitching. Luck was unavailable to ride for Ryder as the keeper did his job.
James Franklin and Scott Styris got out in reckless fashion (both caught behind for blobs) while Tait castled Ross Taylor who went with the front-foot flow and played over and across. In a spell of four overs, the contest was almost decided.
Nathan McCullum (52) and skipper Vettori (44), batting at No. 9, took the tally to 206.
Some impressions from the match include Ryder's consecutive fours between deep square-leg and fine leg before his punched fours on the off side; Martin Guptill using Brett Lee's pace to guide him for four over first slip; Haddin swivelling his bat and Kiwi paceman Hamish Bennett with chest on action losing precious momentum just before his leap.
It was an easy day in the park for the defending champions. A decent crowd from the cricket-mad city gave a spirited account of themselves from the stands. But the stadium remained half-empty and so were the hearts who hoped for a good contest.
score card

New Zealand innings (50 overs maximum) R M B 4s 6s SR
MJ Guptill b Watson 10 45 25 2 0 40.00
BB McCullum† c Krejza b Tait 16 19 12 3 0 133.33
JD Ryder c †Haddin b Johnson 25 49 31 6 0 80.64
LRPL Taylor b Tait 7 45 22 1 0 31.81
JEC Franklin c †Haddin b Johnson 0 2 3 0 0 0.00
SB Styris c †Haddin b Tait 0 4 4 0 0 0.00
JM How lbw b Smith 22 60 47 1 0 46.80
NL McCullum lbw b Johnson 52 94 76 3 0 68.42
DL Vettori* c †Haddin b Lee 44 62 43 5 0 102.32
TG Southee c Ponting b Johnson 6 20 10 0 0 60.00

HK Bennett not out 0 1 0 0 0 -

Extras (b 1, lb 8, w 13, nb 2) 24

Total (all out; 45.1 overs; 207 mins) 206 (4.56 runs per over)
Fall of wickets1-20 (BB McCullum, 3.4 ov), 2-40 (Guptill, 8.5 ov), 3-66 (Ryder, 13.2 ov), 4-66 (Franklin, 13.5 ov), 5-67 (Styris, 14.4 ov), 6-73 (Taylor, 16.6 ov), 7-121 (How, 28.6 ov), 8-175 (NL McCullum, 41.2 ov), 9-206 (Vettori, 44.6 ov), 10-206 (Southee, 45.1 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

B Lee 8 2 29 1 3.62

SW Tait 7 0 35 3 5.00 (2nb, 4w)
MG Johnson 9.1 3 33 4 3.60 (2w)
SR Watson 3 1 9 1 3.00 (1w)

JJ Krejza 9 0 47 0 5.22 (1w)
SPD Smith 9 0 44 1 4.88 (1w)


Australia innings (target: 207 runs from 50 overs) R M B 4s 6s SR
SR Watson b Bennett 62 87 61 6 1 101.63
BJ Haddin† c Franklin b Bennett 55 84 50 8 0 110.00
RT Ponting* st †BB McCullum b Southee 12 39 28 1 0 42.85

MJ Clarke not out 24 77 37 4 0 64.86

CL White not out 22 39 28 3 0 78.57

Extras (lb 3, w 29) 32

Total (3 wickets; 34 overs; 167 mins) 207 (6.08 runs per over)
Did not bat DJ Hussey, SPD Smith, MG Johnson, JJ Krejza, B Lee, SW Tait
Fall of wickets1-133 (Haddin, 18.1 ov), 2-136 (Watson, 18.3 ov), 3-167 (Ponting, 26.4 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

TG Southee 10 2 45 1 4.50 (4w)

DL Vettori 7 0 39 0 5.57 (1w)
HK Bennett 7 0 63 2 9.00 (7w)

NL McCullum 3 0 22 0 7.33

JD Ryder 5 0 24 0 4.80 (3w)

JEC Franklin 2 0 11 0 5.50

World Cup : Bangladesh register dramatic win over Ireland

MIRPUR: Bangladesh spinners, so ineffective against India, rediscovered their magical touch on Friday to fashion an exciting 27-run win over Ireland in a low-scoring Group B match of the 2011 World Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here.
It was a torturous win for Bangladesh, who were bowled out for a meagre 205 after frittering away a blistering start, but it kept the co-hosts firmly in contention for a berth in the knock-out stage.
Ireland batsmen, who had no inkling about how to play the play the turning ball, were easy pickings for wily Bangla spinners, who bundled them out for 178 in 45 overs with some help from pacer Shafiul Islam, who passed a fitness test in the morning. Shafiul, who grabbed three of the last four Ireland wickets, finished with figures of 4/21.
Ironically, it was part-timer Mohammad Ashraful's innocuous off-spin that turned the match Bangladesh's way after frontline spinners Abdur Razzak, skipper Shakib Al Hasan made the initial breakthroughs. Playing in place of Mahmudullah, Ashraful, who had earlier played a horrendous shot to get out cheaply, made amends by dismissing the experienced duo of Ed Joyce (16) and Andrew White (10), fooling both with a clever variation of pace and trajectory.
Ireland's hopes of sneaking an improbable win under the lights rested on the O'Brien brothers, Niall and Kevin. While Niall, looked more compact of the two, Kevin showed he had the big shots. They contributed 38 and 37, respectively, but threw away their wickets after having played themselves in.
Joyce's soft dismissal to Ashraful showed why he failed to win an England Test cap and skipper William Porterfield's unshakable faith in gangly pacer Boyd Rankin was hard to fathom, particularly as he struggled with both length and direction right through the Bangladesh innings.
In the end, it was a crucial 23-run ninth-wicket partnership between Naeem and Razzak, that made all the difference. Bangladesh, who got off to a rousing start through their openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, ought to have posted a total in excess of 250 after Shakib elected to bat.
Tamim, who top-scored with 70 against India, looked to be in super touch as he cut, drove and flicked Rankin and Trent Johnston to log 44 off 43 balls that won him the Man-of-the-Match award. With Kayes also joining the party with a brilliantly square-driven boundary off Rankin, Bangladesh raced to 50 off 5.4 overs.
A smart leg-side stumping off a wide, effected by wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien to send Kayes packing, and Joyce scoring a direct hit from mid-off to catch Junaid Siddique short of the crease, brought Ireland back in the game.
Alarm bells started ringing in the Bangla dressing room when Tamim played a lazy cut off Andre Botha shortly afterward and was held by Porterfield at point. Shakib began with a flourish, but refused to mix caution with aggression despite being dropped by Porterfield at point off Rankin when he was on 15. He paid the price for pushing early at a Botha delivery as the ball popped up for nicely for the bowler to hold.
Mushfiqur Rahim and Rokibul Hasan rebuilt the Bangladesh innings with a sensible 61-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the former had a rush of blood and departed, top-edging an intended sweep off left-arm spinner George Dockrell. And with Mohammad Ashraful departing much in the same fashion two overs later, early 'dinner' was on cards. However, Roqibul (38), Naeem (29) and Razzak (11) ensured that Bangladesh spinners had something to bowl at.

Britain to seize Gaddafi's London assets: Report

LONDON: Britain will shortly seize billions of pounds in assets that Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi has stored in the European country, the Telegraph newspaper reported today.
Britain's finance department has set up a unit to trace Gaddafi's British assets which it believes include bank accounts, commercial property and a USD 16.1 million London home, the paper said.
"The first priority is to get British nationals out of Libya," a government source told the British daily.
"But then we are ready to move in on Gaddafi's assets, the work is under way. This is definitely on the radar at the highest levels."
Britain understands that Gaddafi owns around 20 billion pounds in liquid assets, mostly in London. According to the paper, these will be frozen "within days."
The international community has rounded on the long-serving ruler after he responded to anti-regime demonstrations with a violent crackdown that has claimed hundreds of lives.

First Indian-American elected to Chicago City Council

Thirty year old Ameya Pawar has become the first Indian-American to be elected to the Chicago City Council.
Pawar was elected Tuesday as the alderman for the 47th Ward on Chicago's North Side that has been represented by outgoing alderman Gene Schulter for over 30 years
"It is amazing. It was really amazing," Pawar, who was a virtual unknown when he entered the race, told ABC7 after the election.
Tuesday night, Pawar had not planned an Election Night party like other aldermanic candidates, the channel said. But when the numbers started coming in, he headed to Timber Lanes where the bowling alley owners were among his first supporters.
"It was a nail biter. We were nervous. We were just so hopeful. We were scared. The excitement was unbelievable," Karen Kuhn of Timber Lanes was quoted as saying.
Pawar, the son of Indian immigrants and an emergency preparedness expert working on his third master's degree, won with 50 percent of the vote.
"I don't think it mattered what my background was. They just wanted to get involved. They wanted a say in what was going on in their local government," said Pawar.
Pawar promises to have an elected ward council to guide his actions at City Hall and to give $50,000 of his salary to help offset the city's deficit or offer community grants. He says the city's budget issues motivated him to get involved.
"We have a lot of issues that we have to work through. But it's what you do in the private sector, non-profit sector when you have problems or issues, you bring in new eyes to a set of problems and you work on them together," Pawar was quoted as saying.
Pawar says he stands on the shoulders of other prominent Indian American as well as his parents and grandparents.

Catherine Zeta-Jones gets knighted by Prince Charles

  Wales-born Hollywood star Catherine Zeta-Jones has been knighted by Prince Charles for her contribution to cinema and was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in a ceremony here.
The 41-year-old actress and her husband Michael Douglas arrived at the Buckingham palace with their children Dylan and Carys for the ceremony, reported Daily Mail online.
The 'Mask of Zorro' star dressed for the occasion in a taupe skirt suit and a full hat complete with feathers.
Her 66-year-old husband, who recently overcame a cancer battle, was also suited and booted for the event. The family posed together after the ceremony, with their eight-year-old daughter Carys and 11-year-old son Dylan also dressed formally for the occasion.
The Swansea-born actress, who won an Oscar for her role as Velma Kelly in the 2002 film 'Chicago', received her award from the Prince of Wales during which they had a quick chat.
When the announcement of the award was made last summer she said, "I am absolutely thrilled with this honour. As a British subject, I feel incredibly proud, at the same time it is overwhelming and humbling."

Homeless New York father finds daughter through Twitter

Good News
(TOI)NEW YORK: A New York City homeless man has been reunited with his daughter after 11 years, thanks to Twitter.
Daniel Morales was given a prepaid cell phone to create a Twitter account as part of a project on homeless people called Underheard in New York. Three weeks into the project, the 58-year-old decided to use the social networking tool to find his 27-year-old daughter, Sarah Rivera. The New York Daily News said on Wednesday that he posted his cell phone number, her name and a photo of her at age 16. She called him the next day. Their reunion was yesterday recorded on WCBS-TV. Morales said he was overjoyed. Rivera said social networking was amazing. Morales lives at a homeless shelter. His daughter lives in Brooklyn.

Mamata's poll express: More bucks for the Bong

Rail Minister Mamta Banerjee
New Delhi.
For the last two years, Mamata Banerjee's rail budgets have followed a predictable pattern — no hikes in passenger fares or freight rates and wagonloads of goodies for the maanush from her maati, West Bengal. On Friday, with what she will hope is her last rail budget for a while, she added another arrow to her quiver. The goodies this time were almost as much for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, all poll-bound states, as for her home state.
That's not to suggest that her Bangabandhu avatar was given a rest. Singur and Nandigram, sites of obvious political significance, have been given a metro coach factory and a railway industrial park, respectively.
 As many as 21 of the new express trains begin and end in Bengal and the state is to get a couple of new lines too.
Kolkata has been promised a suburban rail network along the lines of the one in Mumbai with a Kolkata Rail Vikas Corporation (KRVC) to be set up for the purpose. Other metros will also, Mamata promised, have similar networks in the future. The KRVC is in addition to a major thrust for Kolkata Metro.
But unlike in the past, when she had manifested a single-mindedness that the legendary Arjun would have been proud of, she was willing to accommodate the interests of her allies in the UPA. Whether that comes from a confidence that Bengal is as good as sewn up or reflects a bowing to the coalition dharma that the Prime Minister recently invoked is anybody's guess.
Mamata's tenure has seen the railways finances face a severe crunch, not entirely a result of her populism, and the budget for 2011-12 suggests things aren't going to get much better. The operating ratio for the next year is projected at 91.1%, which means less than one in every ten rupees the railways earn will be available for future investments — a steep decline from just three years ago, when it could put aside about a quarter of its earnings for investments.
Despite the precarious finances, Mamata announced an Annual Plan of over Rs 57,000 crore, the largest ever. The catch is that barely a fourth of this is to be funded from the railway's own funds, the rest coming from budgetary support and borrowings.
As always, she announced scores of new trains and extension of existing ones or increases in their frequency.
Among the new trains were nine new Duranto expresses, three new Shatabdis, four Vivek Express trains to commemorate Swami Vivekananda, four Kavi Guru trains to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore and 10 Rajya Rani expresses to connect state capitals to important cities in the same states.
She also promised that AC double-decker trains would start functioning this year on the Jaipur-Delhi and Mumbai-Ahmedabad routes and that a new super AC class would be introduced. No details on this class were available except to say that it would provide improved comfort and features and greater exclusivity, clearly not targeted at the aam admi.
Passengers, she promised, would also now be able to book retiring rooms in advance and use a Go-India smart card for single-window purchase of long distance, suburban or metro tickets through booking counters, vending machines and the internet.
Senior citizen concessions on fares will now be available to those over 58 years of age instead of 60 in the case of women, whereas for men the concession will rise from 30% to 40%.
The rail budget has identified 236 more stations to be upgraded to the Adarsh station category, which implies that they will have safe drinking water, pay-and-use toilets, high-level platforms and better accessibility for the disabled.
On the safety front, Mamata boasted that the accident rate had been nearly halved in the last six years and claimed that unmanned level crossings, which are responsible for many deaths, will be eliminated in the coming year. Anti-collisions devices, she said, would be in operation in 8 of the 17 railway zones, while they are currently in use in just one.
Making a strong pitch for socially desirable projects — those that may not immediately be economically viable but are needed to connect backward areas — the rail minister said all the 114 such projects which were being surveyed would be implemented during the 12th Plan period under a to-be-established Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojna, which will have a non-lapsable fund.
Railway staff got a parting gift from the mantri. Anyone over 50 who is unable to work due to ill health can get a son or daughter a job in the railways. That's not all. As part of a major recruitment drive, the railways, already the world's largest single employer with 14 lakh people on its rolls, will fill up 1.75 lakh vacancies and in the process also give jobs to 16,000 ex-servicemen.
The rail mantri said 700-odd km of new lines are likely to be completed in the current year, a quantum jump over the average of 180 km a year since Independence. Another 1,000 km would be added in the coming year.
Many of these promises might be difficult to keep but Mamata would be hoping that the job of explaining why the targets weren't met will be someone else's and she will be safely ensconced in Writers Building, Kolkata, come February next year.

UK economy contracted by 0.6% in last three months of 2010

Office for National Statistics stuck to its view that the harsh winter weather in December - the coldest December on record - contributed 0.5 percentage points to the decline.
Julia Kollewe
Britain's economy shrank by 0.6% in the final quarter of last year, a sharper fall than previously thought.
The surprise downward revision, from a 0.5% quarterly drop reported last month, was blamed on industry and service sector firms whose performance was worse than originally estimated. Consumer spending also slipped and the economy was kept afloat by higher government spending, which will see sharp cuts in coming months.
The Office for National Statistics stuck to its view that the harsh winter weather in December – the coldest December on record – contributed 0.5 percentage points to the decline, so without the snow GDP would still have shown a slight fall.
Meanwhile the US economy grew more slowly than initially estimated in the fourth quarter as government spending contracted at a sharper rate and consumer spending was less robust than first thought. US GDP rose at an annualised rate of 2.8%, revised down from 3.2%.
Output from the UK service industries fell by 0.7% between October and December from the previous quarter, rather than 0.5% – led by a 1.1% drop in finance and business services – while industrial production was also revised lower to show growth of 0.7% compared with the earlier estimate of 0.9%. Construction slumped by 2.5%.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The government's hope of an upwards revision of growth has been dashed. It's time to wake up and smell an economy in big trouble. We need a plan B that doesn't send it over the edge with deep rapid spending cuts."
The figures highlight the dilemma faced by the Bank of England, as inflation is running at double its target while the economy remains fragile. Household spending fell by 0.1% in the fourth quarter, the first drop in 18 months. This suggests households were tightening their belts even before the VAT increase and the government's spending squeeze kicked in. A bigger trade deficit and a 2.5% slump in business investment also contributed to the overall decline. Government spending grew by 0.7% but this would not last, economists warned.
"The detail shows that government spending was the only positive growth driver," said James Knightley at ING. "This is fairly worrying given we know about the wave of fiscal austerity that is now starting to hit the UK economy, meaning that we will soon be starting to see negative figures for this component."
The Treasury said the figures did not affect its determination to tackle the country's record budget deficit. "The chancellor said that the fourth-quarter growth figures were disappointing and today's revision doesn't change that fact," said a Treasury spokesman.
"It also doesn't change the need to deal with the nation's credit card – the country is borrowing more this year than is spent on the entire NHS." He also noted that surveys, which showed the economy bounced back at the start of the year, had "exceeded expectations".
Shadow chancellor Ed Balls hit out at the government's deficit-cutting plans. "2011 should be the year when the British economy grows strongly and the recovery is secured. Yet the early signs are that the Tory-led government's reckless decision to abandon Labour's plan to halve the deficit over four years has seen the economy take a turn for the worse," Balls said.
"We now face the worst of all worlds – unemployment and inflation both rising, growth stalled and consumer confidence collapsed. And this is before the government's extreme fiscal tightening really starts to bite."There are sharp divisions on the Bank's monetary policy committee, with three members advocating higher interest rates at the February meeting while one member backed more quantitative easing to support the economy."The slight downward revision to UK GDP might give the more hawkishly inclined members of the MPC reason to pause for thought," said Vicky Redwood, senior UK economist at Capital Economics."Of course, we already know from the Cips surveys that the economy bounced back at the start of the year. But we can't tell how much of this was due to weather effects. Indeed, the other economic news of late has not been very reassuring – including the weak consumer confidence figures released overnight. We still think that the economic recovery will struggle this year and expect growth of just 1.5% or so."

Understanding the autistic mind

Neuroscientists find evidence that autistic patients have trouble understanding other people’s intentions.
(MIT News)
CAMBRIDGE (Massachusetts). A study from MIT neuroscientists reveals that high-functioning autistic adults appear to have trouble using theory of mind to make moral judgments in certain situations.
Specifically, the researchers found that autistic adults were more likely than non-autistic subjects to blame someone for accidentally causing harm to another person. This shows that their judgments rely more on the outcome of the incident than on an understanding of the person’s intentions, says Liane Young, an MIT postdoctoral associate and one of the lead authors of the study, which appears in the Jan. 31 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
For example, in one scenario, “Janet” and a friend are kayaking in a part of ocean with many jellyfish. The friend asks Janet if she should go for a swim. Janet has just read that the jellyfish in the area are harmless, and tells her friend to go for a swim. The friend is stung by a jellyfish and dies.
In this scenario, the researchers found that people with autism are more likely than non-autistic people to blame Janet for her friend’s death, even though she believed the jellyfish were harmless.
Young notes that such scenarios tend to elicit a broad range of responses even among non-autistic people. “There’s no normative truth as to whether accidents should be forgiven. The pattern with autistic patients is that they are at one end of the spectrum,” she says. Young’s co-lead author on the paper is former MIT postdoctoral associate Joseph Moran, now at Harvard.
Most children develop theory-of-mind ability around age 4 or 5, which can be demonstrated experimentally with “false-belief” tests. In the classic example, a child is shown two dolls, “Sally” and “Anne.” The experimenter puts on a skit in which Sally puts a marble in a basket and then leaves the scene. While Sally is away, Anne moves the marble from the basket to a box. The experimenter asks the child where Sally will look for the marble when she returns. Giving the correct answer — that Sally will look in the basket — requires an understanding that others have beliefs that may differ from our own knowledge of the world, and from reality.
Previous studies have shown that autistic children develop this ability later than non-autistic children, if ever, depending on the severity of the autism, says MIT Professor John Gabrieli, senior author of the study.
“High-functioning” autistic people — for example, those with a milder form of autism such as Asperger’s syndrome, often develop compensatory mechanisms to deal with their difficulties in understanding other people’s thoughts. The details of these mechanisms are unknown, says Young, but they allow autistic people to function in society and to pass simple experimental tests such as determining whether someone has committed a societal “faux pas.”
However, the scenarios used in the new MIT study were constructed in a way that there is no easy way to compensate for impaired theory of mind. The researchers tested 13 autistic adults and 13 non-autistic adults on about 50 scenarios similar to the jellyfish example.
In a 2010 study, Young used the same hypothetical scenarios to test the moral judgments of a group of patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a part of the prefrontal cortex (where planning, decision-making and other complex cognitive tasks occur).
Those patients understand other people’s intentions, but they lack the emotional outrage that usually occurs in cases where someone tries (but fails) to harm someone else. For example, they would more easily forgive someone who offers mushrooms he believes to be poisonous to an acquaintance, if the mushrooms turn out to be harmless.
“While autistic individuals are unable to process mental state information and understand that individuals can have innocent intentions, the issue with VMPC patients is that they could understand information but did not respond emotionally to that information,” says Young.
Putting these two pieces together could help neuroscientists come up with a more thorough picture of how the brain constructs morality. Previous studies by MIT assistant professor Rebecca Saxe (also an author of the new PNAS paper) have shown that theory of mind appears to be seated in a brain region called the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ). In ongoing studies, the researchers are studying whether autistic patients have irregular activity in the right TPJ while performing the moral judgment tasks used in the PNAS study.

Scientists say ocean currents cause microbes to filter light

(MIT News)
Adding particles to liquids to make currents visible is a common practice in the study of fluid mechanics, one that was adopted and perfected by artist Paul Matisse in sculptures he calls Kalliroscopes. Matisse’s glass-enclosed liquid sculptures contain an object whose movement through the liquid creates whorls that can be seen only because elongated particles trailing the object align with the direction of the current; light reflects off the particles, making the current visible to the viewer.
Researchers at MIT recently demonstrated that this same phenomenon is responsible for the swirling patterns scientists typically see when they agitate a flask containing microbes in water; many microbes are themselves elongated particles that make the whorls visible. More importantly, they say this phenomenon occurs in the ocean when elongated microbes caught in a current align horizontally with the ocean surface, affecting how much light goes into the ocean and how much bounces off as backscatter. Because many ocean microbes, like large phytoplankton, have either an elongated shape or live in communities of long chains, this orientation to ocean currents could have a substantial effect on ocean light — which in turn influences photosynthesis and phytoplankton growth rates — as well as on satellite readings of light backscatter used to inform climate models or assess algal blooms.

In a quiescent ocean, phytoplankton are randomly oriented and light filters through easily. This random arrangement is usually assumed in models of light propagation in the ocean and in satellite readings. But fluid flow can change things.
“Even small shear rates can increase backscattering from blooms of large phytoplankton by more than 30 percent,” said Roman Stocker, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT and lead author on a paper about this work. “This implies that fluid flow, which is typically neglected in models of marine optics, may exert an important control on light propagation, influencing the rates of carbon fixation and how we estimate these rates via remote sensing.”

Another consideration is microbial size. Very small microbes (less than 1 micrometer in diameter) don’t align with the ocean current no matter what their shape. “These very small things don’t align because they are too vigorously kicked around by water molecules in an effect called Brownian motion,” said Stocker, who studies the biomechanics of the movements of ocean microbes, often in his own micro-version of a Kalliroscope called microfluidics. He recreates an ocean environment in microfluidic devices about the size of a stick of gum and uses videomicroscopy to trace and record the microbes’ movements in response to food and current.
In this case, however, the research methodology was observation, followed by mathematical modeling (much of which was handled by graduate student Marcos, who created a model that coupled fluid mechanics with optics), and subsequent experimentation carried out by graduate students Mitul Luhar and William Durham using a tabletop-sized device.
But the impetus for the research was an observance of swirling microbes in a flask of water and a question posed by Justin Seymour, a former postdoctoral fellow at MIT. “Justin walked up to me with a flask of microbes in water, shook it, and asked me what the swirls were,” said Stocker. “Now we know.”
In addition to Seymour, who is now a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney, other co-authors on the paper are Marcos, Luhar and Durham; Professor James Mitchell of Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia; and Professor Andreas Macke of the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research in Germany.

The next operating system

Operating systems for multicore chips will need more information about their own performance — and more resources for addressing whatever problems arise.
(Larry Hardesty, MIT News)
Massachusetts. Computer chips’ clocks have stopped getting faster. To maintain the regular doubling of computer power that we now take for granted, chip makers have been giving chips more “cores,” or processing units. But how to distribute computations across multiple cores is a hard problem, and this five-part series of articles examines the different levels at which MIT researchers are tackling it, from hardware design up to the development of new programming languages.
At the most basic level, a computer is something that receives zeroes and ones from either memory or an input device — like a keyboard — combines them in some systematic way, and ships the results off to either memory or some output device — like a screen or speaker. An operating system, whether Windows, the Apple OS, Linux or any other, is software that mediates between applications, like word processors and Web browsers, and those rudimentary bit operations. Like everything else, operating systems will have to be reimagined for a world in which computer chips have hundreds or thousands of cores.
Project Angstrom, an ambitious initiative to create tomorrow’s computing systems from the ground up, funded by the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and drawing on the work of 19 MIT researchers and industry collaborators, is concerned with energy-efficient multicore computing at all levels, from chip architecture up to the design of programming languages. But at its heart is the development of a new operating system.
A computer with hundreds or thousands of cores tackling different aspects of a problem and exchanging data offers much more opportunity than an ordinary computer does for something to go badly wrong. At the same time, it has more resources to throw at any problems that do arise. So, says Anant Agarwal, who leads the Angstrom project, a multicore operating system needs both to be more self-aware — to have better information about the computer’s performance as a whole — and to have more control of the operations executed by the hardware.
To some extent, increasing self-awareness requires hardware: Each core in the Angstrom chip, for instance, will have its own thermometer, so that the operating system can tell if any part of the chip is overheating. But crucial to the Angstrom operating system — dubbed FOS, for factored operating system — is a software-based performance measure, which Agarwal calls “heartbeats.” Programmers writing applications to run on FOS will have the option of setting performance goals: A video player, for instance, may specify that the playback rate needs to be an industry standard 30 frames per second. Software will automatically interpret that requirement and emit a simple signal — a heartbeat — each time a frame displays.
If the heartbeat fell below 30, FOS could allocate more cores to the video player. Alternatively, if system resources are in short supply, it could adopt some computational short cuts in order to get the heartbeat back up again. Computer-science professor Martin Rinard’s group has been investigating cases where accuracy can be traded for speed and has developed a technique it calls “loop perforation.” A loop is an operation that’s repeated on successive pieces of data — like, say, pixels in a frame of video — and to perforate a loop is simply to skip some iterations of the operation. Graduate student Hank Hoffmann has been working with Agarwal to give FOS the ability to perforate loops on the fly.
Saman Amarasinghe, another computer-science professor who (unlike Rinard) is officially part of the Angstrom project, has been working on something similar. In computer science, there are usually multiple algorithms that can solve a given problem, with different performance under different circumstances; programmers select the ones that seem to best fit the anticipated uses of an application. But Amarasinghe has been developing tools that allow programmers to specify several different algorithms for each task a program performs, and the operating system automatically selects the one that works best under any given circumstances.
Dynamic response to changing circumstances has been a feature of Agarwal’s own recent work. An operating system is, essentially, a collection of smaller programs that execute rudimentary tasks. One example is the file system, which keeps track of where different chunks of data are stored, so that they can be retrieved when a core or an output device requires them. Agarwal and his research group have figured out how to break up several such rudimentary tasks so that they can run in parallel on multiple cores. If requests from application software begin to proliferate, the operating system can simply call up additional cores to handle the load. Agarwal envisions each subsystem of FOS as a “fleet of services” that can expand and contract as circumstances warrant.
In theory, a computer chip has two main components: a processor and a memory circuit. The processor retrieves data from the memory, performs an operation on it, and returns it to memory. But in practice, chips have for decades featured an additional, smaller memory circuit called a cache, which is closer to the processor, can be accessed much more rapidly than main memory, and stores frequently used data.
In a multicore chip, each core has its own cache. A core could probably access the caches of neighboring cores more efficiently than it could main memory, but current operating systems offer no way for one core to get at the cache of another. Work by Angstrom member and computer-science professor Frans Kaashoek can help redress that limitation. Kaashoek has demonstrated how the set of primitive operations executed by a computer chip can be expanded to allow cores access to each other’s caches. In order to streamline a program’s execution, an operating system with Kaashoek’s expanded instruction set could, for instance, swap the contents of two caches, so that data moves to the core that needs it without any trips to main memory; or one core could ask another whether it contains the data stored at some specific location in main memory.
Since Angstrom has the luxury of building a chip from the ground up, it’s also going to draw on work that Kaashoek has done with assistant professor Nickolai Zeldovich to secure operating systems from outside attack. An operating system must be granted some access to primitive chip-level instructions — like Kaashoek’s cache swap command and cache address request. But Kaashoek and Zeldovich have been working to minimize the number of operating-system subroutines that require that privileged access. The fewer routes there are to the chip’s most basic controls, the harder they are for attackers to exploit.
Srini Devadas
Computer-science professor Srini Devadas has done work on electrical data connections that Angstrom is adopting (and which the previous article in this series described), but outside Angstrom, he’s working on his own approach to multicore operating systems that in some sense inverts Kaashoek’s primitive cache-swap procedure. Instead of moving data to the cores that require it, Devadas’ system assigns computations to the cores with the required data in their caches. Sending a core its assignment actually consumes four times as much bandwidth as swapping the contents of caches does, so it also consumes more energy. But in multicore chips, multiple cores will frequently have cached copies of the same data. If one core modifies its copy, all the other copies have to be updated, too, which eats up both energy and time. By reducing the need for cache updates, Devadas says, a multicore system that uses his approach could outperform one that uses the traditional approach. And the disparity could grow if chips with more and more cores end up caching more copies of the same data.