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Saturday, February 26, 2011

World Cup: Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 11 runs

Misbah-ul Haq
New wicket or old, re-laid strip or not, the curse of the chasing team just refuses to leave the R Premadasa Stadium. Despite a pathetic fielding performance after the 25-over mark, Pakistan notched up an 11-run win over hosts and tournament favourites Sri Lanka in a thrilling Group A clash of the World Cup on Saturday.
The result ensured that Pakistan maintained their unbeaten run against Sri Lanka in the World Cup, winning all seven games that the two teams have contested.
Chasing 278, Sri Lanka crumbled against the spin of talismanic Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, who dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera, opposite number Kumar Sangakkara and Angelo Matthews to notch up 300 ODI wickets. Sri Lanka folded up for 266 for 9. He also took the catch of Upul Tharanga at cover to start the Lankan collapse.
Chamara Silva, who was struggling early on, was dropped by Abdul Rehman at mid-wicket and he nearly made Pakistan pay scoring a valiant 57(78 balls, 5x4). It was the first time back in Lankan colours for the middle-order batsman after his sister's death and considering the situation, it was a fine effort.
The hosts had got off to a swift start with openers Upul Tharanga and Dilshan taking them to 76 for no loss in 14 overs. However, once the spinners were introduced, wickets started to tumble. The highlight of the Pakistan effort was the captaincy and bowling of Shahid Afridi. He maintained aggressive fields and kept up the intensity.
Afridi had a hand in five of the first six dismissals and it was quite an inspiring performance. Shoaib Akhtar's vicious in-cutter to classy Lankan bat Mahela Jayawardene which pegged back his middle-stump also was vintage stuff. Sri Lanka had the heart of their batting line-up ripped out in the space of 20 runs and 30 minutes.
Sangakkara who was a beneficiary of a fluffed stumping from Kamran Akmal on 33 also tried gamely to rescue the ship, but when he holed out to Ahmed Shehzad at long-on for 49, it was effectively game, set and match. Along with Silva, Sangakkara added 73 for the 5th wicket, but the mounting run-rate proved too much to handle.
Earlier, seasoned Pakistani pros Younis Khan 72 (76 balls, 4x4) and Misbah-ul Haq 83 not out (91 balls, 6x4), put on display a batting clinic of middle-overs, sans risk after Afridi won the toss and unsurprisingly batted on a pitch that is notorious for slowing down and taking spin in the second innings. The duo rescued Pakistan after the '92 champs had pressed the self-destruct button to slump to 105 for 3.
Without fuss they put on 108 runs off 123 balls to take Pakistan to a competitive 277/7. While Younis relied on drives to long on and long off, dabs to third man and turns to short fine-leg and the occasional lofted extra cover drive, Misbah was more adventurous.
Displaying good hockey skills, he even reverse swept the spinners for four. In between both defied their 35-plus age and ran like hares between the wickets. It was skill of the highest class and took you back to the days of Javed Miandad and Asif Iqbal.
score card

Pakistan innings (50 overs maximum) R M B 4s 6s SR
Ahmed Shehzad c †Sangakkara b Perera 13 24 23 2 0 56.52
Mohammad Hafeez run out (Herath/Jayawardene/†Sangakkara) 32 63 31 4 1 103.22
Kamran Akmal† st †Sangakkara b Herath 39 68 48 5 0 81.25
Younis Khan c Jayawardene b Herath 72 108 76 4 0 94.73

Misbah-ul-Haq not out 83 118 91 6 0 91.20
Umar Akmal c Dilshan b Muralitharan 10 21 15 1 0 66.66
Shahid Afridi* c Dilshan b Mathews 16 18 12 3 0 133.33
Abdul Razzaq c sub (CK Kapugedera) b Perera 3 6 4 0 0 75.00

Extras (lb 4, w 5) 9

Total (7 wickets; 50 overs; 220 mins) 277 (5.54 runs per over)
Did not bat Umar Gul, Abdur Rehman, Shoaib Akhtar
Fall of wickets1-28 (Ahmed Shehzad, 5.3 ov), 2-76 (Mohammad Hafeez, 13.1 ov), 3-105 (Kamran Akmal, 20.2 ov), 4-213 (Younis Khan, 40.5 ov), 5-238 (Umar Akmal, 45.3 ov), 6-267 (Shahid Afridi, 48.5 ov), 7-277 (Abdul Razzaq, 49.6 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

KMDN Kulasekara 10 1 64 0 6.40 (1w)
NLTC Perera 9 0 62 2 6.88 (2w)
AD Mathews 10 0 56 1 5.60

M Muralitharan 10 0 35 1 3.50 (2w)
HMRKB Herath 10 0 46 2 4.60

TM Dilshan 1 0 10 0 10.00

Sri Lanka innings (target: 278 runs from 50 overs) R M B 4s 6s SR
WU Tharanga c Shahid Afridi b Mohammad Hafeez 33 64 43 6 0 76.74
TM Dilshan b Shahid Afridi 41 81 55 5 0 74.54
KC Sangakkara*† c Ahmed Shehzad b Shahid Afridi 49 109 61 2 1 80.32
DPMD Jayawardene b Shoaib Akhtar 2 12 10 0 0 20.00
TT Samaraweera st †Kamran Akmal b Shahid Afridi 1 6 4 0 0 25.00
LPC Silva st †Kamran Akmal b Abdur Rehman 57 115 78 5 0 73.07
AD Mathews c Ahmed Shehzad b Shahid Afridi 18 24 20 2 0 90.00
NLTC Perera b Shoaib Akhtar 8 14 6 1 0 133.33
KMDN Kulasekara c Umar Akmal b Umar Gul 24 21 14 2 1 171.42

HMRKB Herath not out 4 20 10 0 0 40.00

M Muralitharan not out 0 1 1 0 0 0.00

Extras (b 1, lb 10, w 16, nb 2) 29

Total (9 wickets; 50 overs; 238 mins) 266 (5.32 runs per over)
Fall of wickets1-76 (Tharanga, 14.2 ov), 2-88 (Dilshan, 17.3 ov), 3-95 (Jayawardene, 20.2 ov), 4-96 (Samaraweera, 21.2 ov), 5-169 (Sangakkara, 37.4 ov), 6-209 (Mathews, 43.4 ov), 7-232 (Perera, 45.5 ov), 8-233 (Silva, 46.0 ov), 9-265 (Kulasekara, 49.5 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

Shoaib Akhtar 10 0 42 2 4.20

Abdul Razzaq 5 1 23 0 4.60

Umar Gul 9 0 60 1 6.66 (1nb, 2w)
Mohammad Hafeez 6 0 33 1 5.50 (2w)
Shahid Afridi 10 0 34 4 3.40 (1w)
Abdur Rehman 10 1 63 1 6.30 (1nb, 3w)

Crude oil prices at multi-year highs on Middle East turmoil

Oil hit two-year highs in Asian trade today as turmoil continued to wrack the Middle East and threatened to spread to other bigger oil producers in the region, analysts said.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for April delivery, rose $1.00 to $99.10 per barrel after passing the $100 mark for the first time since October 2008 yesterday.
Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April was up 85 cents to $112.10.
Fears of unrest spreading throughout the region from embattled Libya was pushing crude prices up, said Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.
"The concerns go beyond Libya, which is a relatively small oil producer, to the bigger oil producers that may be affected if the revolt spread," he told AFP.
Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's pledge yesterday to crush anti-regime protesters for control over the country also added fuel to the fire, Shum added.
Libya has Africa's largest oil reserves and is the continent's fourth largest producer and is a member of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC), the cartel that produces about 40 per cent of global supplies.
Kadhafi's son Saadi said his father would be a key member of any new regime after the "positive earthquake" rocking Libya and acknowledged the need for "new blood", the Financial Times reported today.Unrest also rocked Libya, Bahrain and Yemen.

After Mubarak, Egypt fixes president's term at 8 years

Future presidents of Egypt will only be allowed to stay in office for eight years according to constitutional amendments that will open up competition for the position held for three decades by ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
The proposed amendments outlined by a judicial panel appointed by Egypt's ruling military council will be put to a referendum ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections that will hand power back to a civilian government.
Mubarak was serving in his fifth, six-year term when he was toppled on Feb 11, forced from office by a mass uprising driven in large part by demands for reform to put an end to the one-man rule.

Obama says Libyan leader Gaddafi must 'leave now': White House

US President Barack Obama said in a call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi should step down.
"The president stated that when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now," the White House said in a statement about the call.
It said Obama and Merkel reaffirmed their support for the Libyan people's demand for universal rights and agreed that Gaddafi's government "must be held accountable."

Sabotage? Iran's N-reactor runs into trouble


Tehran. Iran told atomic inspectors this week that it had run into a serious problem at a newly completed nuclear reactor that was supposed to start feeding electricity into the national grid this month, raising questions about whether the trouble was sabotage, a startup problem, or possibly the beginning of the project's end. In a report on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran told inspectors on Wednesday that it was planning to unload nuclear fuel from its Bushehr reactor — the sign of a major upset. For years, Tehran has hailed the reactor as a showcase of its peaceful nuclear intentions and its imminent startup as a sign of quickening progress. But nuclear experts said the giant reactor, Iran's first nuclear power plant, now threatens to become a major embarrassment, as engineers remove 163 fuel rods from its core. Iran gave no reason for the unexpected fuel unloading, but it has previously admitted that the Stuxnet computer worm infected the Bushehr reactor. On Friday, computer experts debated whether Stuxnet was responsible for the surprising development. Russia, which provided the fuel to Iran, said earlier this month that the worm's infection of the reactor should be investigated, arguing that it might trigger a nuclear disaster. Other experts said those fears were overblown, but noted that the full workings of the Stuxnet worm remained unclear. In interviews Friday, nuclear experts said the trouble behind the fuel unloading could range from minor safety issues and operational ineptitude to serious problems that would bring the reactor's brief operational life to a premature end. "It could be simple and embarrassing all the way to 'game over,' " said David A Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a former official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees nuclear reactors in the United States.

Nalco chief suspended, sent to CBI custody till Mar 3

National Aluminium Company Ltd (Nalco) chairman-cum-managing director AK Srivastava, his wife Chandni and two accomplices, who were arrested on Friday, were sent to CBI custody till March 3 by a local court here on Saturday. CBI arrested the navratna PSU chief and his wife on charges of allegedly accepting gold bricks as bribe for manipulating Nalco contracts. CBI sources said the arrests were made after the agency tapped three phones of Srivastava and his conduits -- Bhusan Lal Bajaj and his wife Anita.
The CBI told the court on Saturday that the Bajajs were brokering a deal between Srivastava and Bhatia International, an Indore-based coal import firm. The agency also raided the residence of the firm's owner, Gurinder Singh Bhatia, in Indore. The Bajajs were also allegedly working as a conduit for other coal suppliers.
Srivastava asked Bajaj to convert the bribe amount into gold bricks and deliver them, the CBI claimed. CBI told the court that Srivastava and Bajaj decided to deposit the gold through their spouses in lockers at Shahjahan Road branch of Bank of Maharashtra or Mayur Vihar Phase-1 branch of Bank of India. As per the deal, Anita collected the gold bricks and handed over to Chandni.
Gold worth Rs 2.13 crore and Rs 9.5 lakh in cash were recovered from locker number 127 of Bank of Maharashtra, while Rs 15 lakh was found from the Bank of India locker. CBI claimed it also found Rs five lakh in cash in Chandani's bag.
There was high drama at the Patiala House Court here on Saturday. Chandni broke down, claiming her husband was innocent. Once the proceedings began, Chandani, sobbing profusely, interrupted the court: "The bank locker is in my name. I operate it. My husband has nothing to do with it. He is innocent."
The Nalco chief, too, pleaded innocence before the judge. "I was not involved in anything. Nothing has been recovered from my house during the search. I am innocent."
The ministry of mines on Saturday suspended Srivastava. Nalco director (finance) B L Bagra has been temporarily entrusted with the responsibility of chairman-cum-MD. In Bhubaneswar, Nalco had to postpone its board meeting on Saturday following the Friday's arrest.
Srivastava took over as the Nalco chief in October, 2009. Prior to that, he was CMD of Cement Corporation of India for nearly five years.

Sadhvi Pragya arrested in Sunil Joshi murder case

Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case, has been placed under arrest by Madhya Pradesh Police in connection with the murder of Sunil Joshi, a suspect in the Samjhauta Express blast case who was killed at Dewas in December 2007.
"The MP police moved an application in the special MCOCA court here, and after taking the court's permission they placed Sadhvi under arrest in the Sunil Joshi murder case," said Rohini Salian, Special public prosecutor.
Pragya Singh, main accused in 2008 Malegaon blast case in Maharashtra, has been undergoing treatment in J J hospital here. The team of MP police went there yesterday and arrested her, sources said.
"It is just a formal arrest. She would be taken to MP after they make transportation arrangements," said Pragya's lawyer advocate Ganesh Sovani.
Joshi, a suspect in the Samjhauta Express blast case, was shot dead in Dewas in Madhya Pradesh on December 29,2007.
Sixty-eight people were killed when bombs went off in two coaches of Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore, around midnight on February 18, 2007 at Diwana near Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi.

Scientists Build the World’s First Anti-laser

New Haven (Connecticut). More than 50 years after the invention of the laser, scientists at Yale University have built the world's first anti-laser, in which incoming beams of light interfere with one another in such a way as to perfectly cancel each other out. The discovery could pave the way for a number of novel technologies with applications in everything from optical computing to radiology. Conventional lasers, which were first invented in 1960, use a so-called "gain medium," usually a semiconductor like gallium arsenide, to produce a focused beam of coherent light-light waves with the same frequency and amplitude that are in step with one another.
Last summer, Yale physicist A. Douglas Stone and his team published a study explaining the theory behind an anti-laser, demonstrating that such a device could be built using silicon, the most common semiconductor material. But it wasn't until now, after joining forces with the experimental group of his colleague Hui Cao, that the team actually built a functioning anti-laser, which they call a coherent perfect absorber (CPA).
The team, whose results appear in the Feb. 18 issue of the journal Science, focused two laser beams with a specific frequency into a cavity containing a silicon wafer that acted as a "loss medium." The wafer aligned the light waves in such a way that they became perfectly trapped, bouncing back and forth indefinitely until they were eventually absorbed and transformed into heat.
Stone believes that CPAs could one day be used as optical switches, detectors and other components in the next generation of computers, called optical computers, which will be powered by light in addition to electrons. Another application might be in radiology, where Stone said the principle of the CPA could be employed to target electromagnetic radiation to a small region within normally opaque human tissue, either for therapeutic or imaging purposes.
Theoretically, the CPA should be able to absorb 99.999 percent of the incoming light. Due to experimental limitations, the team's current CPA absorbs 99.4 percent. "But the CPA we built is just a proof of concept," Stone said. "I'm confident we will start to approach the theoretical limit as we build more sophisticated CPAs." Similarly, the team's first CPA is about one centimeter across at the moment, but Stone said that computer simulations have shown how to build one as small as six microns (about one-twentieth the width of an average human hair).
The team that built the CPA, led by Cao and another Yale physicist, Wenjie Wan, demonstrated the effect for near-infrared radiation, which is slightly "redder" than the eye can see and which is the frequency of light that the device naturally absorbs when ordinary silicon is used. But the team expects that, with some tinkering of the cavity and loss medium in future versions, the CPA will be able to absorb visible light as well as the specific infrared frequencies used in fiber optic communications.
It was while explaining the complex physics behind lasers to a visiting professor that Stone first came up with the idea of an anti-laser. When Stone suggested his colleague think about a laser working in reverse in order to help him understand how a conventional laser works, Stone began contemplating whether it was possible to actually build a laser that would work backwards, absorbing light at specific frequencies rather than emitting it.
"It went from being a useful thought experiment to having me wondering whether you could really do that," Stone said. "After some research, we found that several physicists had hinted at the concept in books and scientific papers, but no one had ever developed the idea."

Stanford researchers develop new technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells

Applying an organic layer less than a nanometer thick improves the efficiency of certain solar cells threefold. The technology could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels.

Stacey Bent, professor of chemical engineering,          
Stanford (California). The sun provides more than enough energy for all our needs, if only we could harness it cheaply and efficiently. Solar energy could provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels, but the high cost of solar cells has been a major barrier to their widespread use.Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules to a solar cell can increase its efficiency threefold and could lead to cheaper, more efficient solar panels. Their results were published online in ACS Nano on Feb. 7.
Chemical engineering Professor Stacey Bent first became interested in a new kind of solar technology two years ago. These solar cells used tiny particles of semiconductors called "quantum dots." Quantum dot solar cells are cheaper to produce than traditional ones, as they can be made using simple chemical reactions. But despite their promise, they lagged well behind existing solar cells in efficiency.
"I wondered if we could use our knowledge of chemistry to improve their efficiency," Bent said. If she could do that, the reduced cost of these solar cells could lead to mass adoption of the technology.
Bent will discuss her research on Sunday, Feb. 20, at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.
In principle, quantum dot cells can reach much higher efficiency, Bent said, because of a fundamental limitation of traditional solar cells.
Solar cells work by using energy from the sun to excite electrons. The excited electrons jump from a lower energy level to a higher one, leaving behind a "hole" where the electron used to be. Solar cells use a semiconductor to pull an electron in one direction, and another material to pull the hole in the other direction. This flow of electron and hole in different directions leads to an electric current.
But it takes a certain minimum energy to fully separate the electron and the hole. The amount of energy required is specific to different materials and affects what color, or wavelength, of light the material best absorbs. Silicon is commonly used to make solar cells because the energy required to excite its electrons corresponds closely to the wavelength of visible light.
But solar cells made of a single material have a maximum efficiency of about 31 percent, a limitation of the fixed energy level they can absorb.
Quantum dot solar cells do not share this limitation and can in theory be far more efficient. The energy levels of electrons in quantum dot semiconductors depends on their size – the smaller the quantum dot, the larger the energy needed to excite electrons to the next level.
So quantum dots can be tuned to absorb a certain wavelength of light just by changing their size. And they can be used to build more complex solar cells that have more than one size of quantum dot, allowing them to absorb multiple wavelengths of light.
Because of these advantages, Bent and her students have been investigating ways to improve the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, along with Associate Professor Michael McGehee of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
The researchers coated a titanium dioxide semiconductor in their quantum dot solar cell with a very thin single layer of organic molecules. These molecules were self-assembling, meaning that their interactions caused them to pack together in an ordered way. The quantum dots were present at the interface of this organic layer and the semiconductor. Bent's students tried several different organic molecules in an attempt to learn which ones would most increase the efficiency of the solar cells.
But she found that the exact molecule didn't matter – just having a single organic layer less than a nanometer thick was enough to triple the efficiency of the solar cells. "We were surprised. We thought it would be very sensitive to what we put down," said Bent.
But she said the result made sense in hindsight, and the researchers came up with a new model – it's the length of the molecule, and not its exact nature, that matters. Molecules that are too long don't allow the quantum dots to interact well with the semiconductor.
Bent's theory is that once the sun's energy creates an electron and a hole, the thin organic layer helps keep them apart, preventing them from recombining and being wasted. The group has yet to optimize the solar cells, and they have currently achieved an efficiency of, at most, 0.4 percent. But the group can tune several aspects of the cell, and once they do, the threefold increase caused by the organic layer would be even more significant.
Bent said the cadmium sulfide quantum dots she is currently using are not ideal for solar cells, and the group will try different materials. She said she would also try other molecules for the organic layer, and could change the design of the solar cell to try to absorb more light and produce more electrical charge. Once Bent has found a way to increase the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, she said she hopes their lower cost will lead to wider acceptance of solar energy.
(Sandeep Ravindran is a science-writing intern at the Stanford News Service)