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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Acropolis... Athens... Greece... Just beautiful....


Biological mechanism passes on long-term epigenetic 'memories'


Tel Aviv University researchers discover the on/off button for inheriting responses to environmental changes



Researchers have been preoccupied with how the effects of stress, trauma, and other environmental exposures are passed from one generation to the next for years. Small RNA molecules — short sequences of RNA that regulate the expression of genes — are among the key factors involved in mediating this kind of inheritance.
According to epigenetics -- the study of inheritable changes in gene expression not directly coded in our DNA -- our life experiences may be passed on to our children and our children's children. Studies on survivors of traumatic events have suggested that exposure to stress may indeed have lasting effects on subsequent generations.
But how exactly are these genetic "memories" passed on?
A new Tel Aviv University study pinpoints the precise mechanism that turns the inheritance of environmental influences "on" and "off." The research, published last week in Cell and led by Dr. Oded Rechavi and his group from TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Sagol School of Neuroscience, reveals the rules that dictate which epigenetic responses will be inherited, and for how long.
"Until now, it has been assumed that a passive dilution or decay governs the inheritance of epigenetic responses," Dr. Rechavi said. "But we showed that there is an active process that regulates epigenetic inheritance down through generations."
Passing stress from one generation to the next
Researchers have been preoccupied with how the effects of stress, trauma, and other environmental exposures are passed from one generation to the next for years. Small RNA molecules -- short sequences of RNA that regulate the expression of genes -- are among the key factors involved in mediating this kind of inheritance. Dr. Rechavi and his team had previously identified a "small RNA inheritance" mechanism through which RNA molecules produced a response to the needs of specific cells and how they were regulated between generations.
"We previously showed that worms inherited small RNAs following the starvation and viral infections of their parents. These small RNAs helped prepare their offspring for similar hardships," Dr. Rechavi said. "We also identified a mechanism that amplified heritable small RNAs across generations, so the response was not diluted. We found that enzymes called RdRPs are required for re-creating new small RNAs to keep the response going in subsequent generations."
Most inheritable epigenetic responses in C.elegans worms were found to persist for only a few generations. This created the assumption that epigenetic effects simply "petered out" over time, through a process of dilution or decay.
"But this assumption ignored the possibility that this process doesn't simply die out but is regulated instead," said Dr. Rechavi, who in this study treated C.elegans worms with small RNAs that target the GFP (green fluorescent protein), a reporter gene commonly used in experiments. "By following heritable small RNAs that regulated GFP -- that 'silenced' its expression -- we revealed an active, tuneable inheritance mechanism that can be turned 'on' or 'off.'"
The scientists discovered that specific genes, which they named "MOTEK" (Modified Transgenerational Epigenetic Kinetics), were involved in turning on and off epigenetic transmissions.
"We discovered how to manipulate the transgenerational duration of epigenetic inheritance in worms by switching 'on' and 'off' the small RNAs that worms use to regulate genes," said Dr. Rechavi. "These switches are controlled by a feedback interaction between gene-regulating small RNAs, which are inheritable, and the MOTEK genes that are required to produce and transmit these small RNAs across generations.
"The feedback determines whether epigenetic memory will continue to the progeny or not, and how long each epigenetic response will last."
A comprehensive theory of heredity?
Although their research was conducted on worms, the team believes that understanding the principles that control the inheritance of epigenetic information is crucial for constructing a comprehensive theory of heredity for all organisms, humans included.
"We are now planning to study the MOTEK genes to know exactly how these genes affect the duration of epigenetic effects," said Leah Houri-Zeevi, a PhD student in Dr. Rechavi's lab and first author of the paper.
"Moreover, we are planning to examine whether similar mechanisms exist in humans."
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_re…/2016-03/afot-bmp032816.php
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releas…/2016/…/160328133534.htm
http://www.cell.com/cell/pdf/S0092-8674(16)30207-0.pdf
http://neurosciencenews.com/epigenetics-environmental-infl…/

Syria,Turkey ,Egypt ,Cyprus, Greece


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

அன்பிருந்தால் வறுமையும் இனிமைதான்


This flexible material turns any surface into a solar panel

video

Satyendra Nath Bose




Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose is known for working with Albert Einstein on the Bose-Einstein Condensate and as namesake of the boson, or “God particle.”
Synopsis
Physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, born on January 1, 1894, in Calcutta, India, discovered what became known as bosons and went on to work with Albert Einstein to define one of two basic classes of subatomic particles. Much of the credit for discovering the boson, or "God particle," was given to British physicist Peter Higgs, much to the chagrin of the Indian government and people.
Early Life
Physicist Satyendra Nath Bose was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), West Bengal, India, on January 1, 1894, the eldest and only male of seven children. Bose was a brainiac early on. He passed the entrance exam to the Hindu School, one of India's oldest schools, with flying colors and stood fifth in the order of merit. From there, Bose attended Presidency College, where he took an intermediate science course and studied with renowned scientists Jagadish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Ray.
Bose received a Bachelor of Science in mixed mathematics in 1913 from Presidency College and a Master of Science in the same subject in 1915 from Calcutta University. He received such high scores on the exams for each degree that not only was he in first standing, but, for the latter, he even created a new record in the annals of the University of Calcutta, which has yet to be surpassed. Fellow student Meghnad Saha, who would later work with Bose, came in second standing.
Between his two degrees, Bose married Usha Devi at age 20. After completing his master's degree, Bose became a research scholar at the University of Calcutta in 1916 and began his studies on the theory of relativity. He also set up new departments and laboratories there to teach undergraduate and graduate courses.
Research and Teaching Career
While studying at the University of Calcutta, Bose also served as a lecturer in the physics department. In 1919, he and Saha prepared the first English-language book based on German and French translations of Albert Einstein's original special and general relativity papers. The pair continued to present papers on theoretical physics and pure mathematics for several years following.
In 1921, Bose joined the physics department at the University of Dhaka, which had then been recently formed, and went on to establish new departments, laboratories and libraries in which he could teach advanced courses. He wrote a paper in 1924 in which he derived Planck's quantum radiation law without referencing classical physics—which he was able to do by counting states with identical properties. The paper would later prove seminal in creating the field of quantum statistics. Bose sent the paper to Albert Einstein in Germany, and the scientist recognized its importance, translated it into German and submitted it on Bose's behalf to the prestigious scientific journal Zeitschrift für Physik. The publication led to recognition, and Bose was granted a leave of absence to work in Europe for two years at X-ray and crystallography laboratories, where he worked alongside Einstein and Marie Curie, among others.
Einstein had adopted Bose's idea and extended it to atoms, which led to the prediction of the existence of phenomena that became known as the Bose-Einstein Condensate, a dense collection of bosons—particles with integer spin that were named for Bose.
After his stay in Europe, Bose returned to the University of Dhaka in 1926. Although he did not have a doctorate, Einstein had recommended he be made a professor, and so Bose was made head of the physics department. But upon his return, Bose did not publish for a significant period of time. According to a July 2012 New York Times article in which Bose is described as the "Father of the 'God Particle,'" the scientist's interests wandered into other fields, including philosophy, literature and the Indian independence movement. He published another physics paper in 1937 and in the early 1950s worked on unified field theories.
After 25 years in Dhaka, Bose moved back to Calcutta in 1945 and continued to research and teach there until his death in 1974.
Recognition and Honors
Several Nobel Prizes were awarded for research related to the concepts of the boson and the Bose-Einstein Condensate. Bose was never awarded a Nobel Prize, despite his work on particle statistics, which clarified the behavior of photons and "opened the door to new ideas on statistics of Microsystems that obey the rules of quantum theory," according to physicist Jayant Narlikar, who said Bose's finding was one of the top 10 achievements of 20th-century Indian science.
But Bose himself responded simply when asked how he felt about the Nobel Prize snub: "I have got all the recognition I deserve."
The Indian government honored Bose in 1954 with the title Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India. Five years later, he was appointed as the National Professor, the highest honor in the country for a scholar. Bose remained in that position for 15 years. Bose also became an adviser to the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as president of the Indian Physical Society and the National Institute of Science. He was elected general president of the Indian Science Congress and president of the Indian Statistical Institute. In 1958, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society.
About 12 years after Bose's death on February 4, 1974, the Indian parliament established the S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences in Salt Lake, Calcutta.
Regardless of the honors and recognition his own country bestowed upon Bose, the international community failed, for the most part, to regard him as a scientist who made a major discovery. When in the summer of 2012 people celebrated the international cooperation that led to a breakthrough in identifying the existence of the boson particle, they credited British physicist Peter Higgs and the Higgs boson particle.
"Many in India were smarting over what they saw as a slight against one of their greatest scientist," The Huffington Post wrote in a July 10, 2012, article. The article also quoted an editorial written earlier that week in The Economic Times, which said, "Many people in this country [India] have been perplexed, and even annoyed, that the Indian half of the now-acknowledged 'God particle' is being carried in lower case."
The editorial went on to say that what people do not realize that is the naming of all bosons after Bose "actually denotes greater importance."
http://www.biography.com/peop…/satyendra-nath-bose-20965455…
https://en.wikipedia.org/w…/Bose%E2%80%93Einstein_statistics
http://www.humantouchofchemistry.com/satyendra-nath-bose.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boson
https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson

BoseEinstein Condensate

In ordinary physics, each particle is distinct from each other. You can track each particle. This is true of all big and small things like planets, rubber balls and even grains of dust. But when we go into smaller scales, like subatomic particles (like electrons), the ordinary rules don't apply. The particles become indistinguishable, and so we cannot track them. This is the realm of quantum physics.

S.N. Bose and Albert Einstein together developed many of the principles that apply in quantum physics. These are together known as BoseEinstein Statistics. While this science is quit difficult, it makes an interesting prediction. It says that atoms, when cooled to a temperature close to absolute zero (273.15C), will collapse into a new state of matter. This is called the BoseEinstein Condensate (BEC).

An Autumn's Tale


A classic 1987 Hong Kong romantic drama film entirely shot New York City, An Autumn's Tale is directed by Mabel Cheung and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung.
Jennifer (Chung) comes to New York from Hong Kong in order to join her boyfriend, Vincent (Danny Chan), and to study. She is picked up from the airport by her distant cousin Samuel (Yun-Fat) and his buddies and taken to her new apartment, upstairs from Samuel's one. But when soon after, she is dumped unceremoniously by Vincent, who takes off for Boston, the young woman finds herself a fish out of water in New York. Samuel, however, has immediately taken a liking in her and tries his best to help her out whilst being very self-conscious about their very different backgrounds and personalities. And whilst Jennifer loves his company, she has a hard time imagining seeing them end up together. Nonetheless, the two slowly become closer until Vincent suddenly shows up again trying to win back his old flame.
A romantic drama, which careful;y avoids many of the cliches associated with the genre, An Autumn's Tale's major strength is its two great lead actors as well as their character development, which pushes the film forward as opposed to a more plot-driven approach. Chow Yun-Fat and Cherie Chung are both wonderful in their respective roles and the screenplay gives them plenty to work with whilst Mabel Cheung's direction is natural and understated. Apart from that, the New York setting, a rarity for Hong Kong productions, along with a great soundtrack really make this one stand out. Touching, down-to-earth and understated, An Autumn's Tale ranks amongst the best romantic films to ever come out of Hong Kong. The film was nominated for seven Hong Kong Film Awards, winning Best Film, Screenplay and Cinematography, and six Golden Horse Awards, winning one for Best Actor for Chow Yun-Fat. The film was also ranked number 49 on the Hong Kong Film Awards' list of Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures.

The Dark Universe at Milky Way's Galactic Center --Has Evidence Been Detected?




Understanding the ubiquitous yet mysterious substance known as dark matter is a prime goal of modern astrophysics. Some astronomers have speculated that dark matter might have another property besides gravity in common with ordinary matter: It might come in two flavors, matter and anti-matter, that annihilate and emit high energy radiation when coming into contact. The leading class of particles in this category are called weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPS). If dark matter annihilation does occur, the range of options for the theoretical nature of dark matter would be considerably narrowed.
We live in a dramatic epoch of astrophysics. Breakthrough discoveries like exoplanets, gravity waves from merging black holes, or cosmic acceleration seem to arrive every decade, or even more often. But perhaps no discovery was more unexpected, mysterious, and challenging to our grasp of the "known universe" than the recognition that the vast majority of matter in the universe cannot be directly seen.
According to the latest results from the Planck satellite, a mere 4.9% of the universe is made of ordinary matter (that is, matter composed of atoms or their constituents). The rest is dark matter, and it has been firmly detected via its gravitational influence on stars and other normal matter. Dark energy is a separate constituent.
CfA astronomer Doug Finkbeiner and a team of colleagues claim to have identified just such a signature of dark matter annihilation. They studied the spatial distribution of gamma-ray emission in the Milky Way, in particular gamma-ray emission from the Galactic Center region. This region is both relatively nearby and has a high matter density (and nominally a high dark matter density as well).
Earth is about 25,000 light years from the teeming, tumultuous Galactic Center. A Chandra X-Ray Observatory panoramic view shown below extends 400 light years by 900 light years. Even at this distance from the center of the Galaxy, conditions are getting crowded, and the energy level is increasing dramatically (Figure 24). Supernova remnants (SNR 0.9-0.1, probably the X-ray Thread, and Sagittarius A East), bright binary X-ray sources containing a black hole or a neutron star (the 1E sources), and hundreds of unnamed point-like sources due to neutron stars or white dwarfs light up the region. The massive stars in the Arches and other star clusters (the DB sources) will soon explode to produce more supernovas, neutron stars, and black holes.
If dark matter annihilation occurred, the location would be expected to be bright in gamma-rays. Indeed, a large gamma-ray signature has been seen from the area that extends over hundreds of light-years (there is also fainter emission extending outward for thousands of light-years). There are other possible explanations, however, most notably that the gamma-rays result from a large population of rapidly spinning pulsars, the nuclear ashes of some supernovae.
The scientists revisited the set of previously published gamma-ray observations, applying careful new data reduction methods in order to constrain more precisely the location of the emission, and they did so for each of the several observed energy regimes of the gamma-ray emission. Pulsars have a distinctive spatial distribution: they are located where stars are found, predominantly in the plane of the galaxy.
The team was able to show with high significance that the distribution of gamma-ray emission is in good agreement with the predictions of simple annihilating dark matter models, but less likely to be consistent with a pulsar explanation. Their result, if confirmed, would be an impressive breakthrough in the understanding of the nature of dark matter, the dominant constituent of the cosmos.
http://www.cosmos.esa.int/web/planck
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/…/the-dark-universe-at-milky-way…
https://en.wikipedia.org/…/Weakly_interacting_massive_parti…
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galactic_Center
http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~ghezgr…/…/journey/wavelength.html

Monday, March 28, 2016

Cappadocia, Turkey.

Cappadocia, Turkey is the historic area of central Anatolia bounded by the towns of Hacıbektaş, Aksaray,Niğde and Kayseri (map). It was known asCappadocia in ancient times, and is still calledKapadokya informally today.
Cappadocia is Turkey's most visually striking region, especially the "moonscape" area around the towns ofÜrgüp, Göreme, Uçhisar, Avanos and Mustafapaşa (Sinasos), where erosion has formed caves, clefts, pinnacles, "fairy chimneys" and sensuous folds in the soft volcanic rock.
Although the volcanic landscape can appear inhospitable, the mineral-rich soil is excellent for growing vegetables and fruits, making Cappadocia a rich agricultural region. It has always been one ofAnatolia's prime grape-growing areas, and still boasts many productive vineyards and wineries.
The Bible's New Testament tells of Cappadocia, but in fact this part of central Anatolia has been important since Hittite times, long before the time of Jesus.


Tungnath the highest Shiva temple in the world State-Uttarakhand




Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five and the highest Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is one of the five and the highest Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Tunganath (literal meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountains forms the Valleys of Mandakini and Alaknanda rivers. Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila, Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to be 1000 years old and is the second in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars.
It is an ancient temple built in the North Indian style of temple architecture. It is small in size and can barely accommodate ten people in the sanctum. Surrounding this temple, there are a number of small shrines (about a dozen) of several gods. The sanctum part of the temple abuts the hills where the sacred standing black rock (swayambu or self manifest linga) with tilt to the left, of 1 ft (0.3 m) height, denoting the form of arms of Lord Shiva is worshipped. The construction of this temple is credited to Arjuna, the third of the Pandava brothers, who also worshiped here.
The temples inside the enclosure are made of stones with decorations painted on the outside and they depict tall towers. The highest dome has a wooden stage at the top. The dome has sixteen openings (pictured). The temple roofs are also made of stone slabs. At the entrance to the temple there is a Nandi stone image facing towards the sanctum where Shiva’s idol is deified. The Nandi’s flank is normally sanctified for worship with flowers and with three lines (tripundra) in yellow clay, with a mark denoting Shiva’s third eye, which is symbolic to Shiva’s devotees. At the right of the temple entrance there is the mandatory image of Ganesha. In the main sanctum, ashtadhatu (made of eight metals) idols of sage Vyas and Kala Bhairav (demi-god), disciples of Shiva, are also installed in the sanctum sanctorum. The temple also houses the images of the Pandavas and silver plaques of other four Kedar shrines.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Badami Cave Temples


The cave temples date back to 600 and 700 CE. Their architecture is a blend of North Indian Nagara Style and South Indian Dravidian style. As described above each cave has a sanctum sanctorum , a mandapa , a verandah and pillars . The cave temples also bear exquisite carvings , sculptures and beautiful murals.
An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578. There are some paintings on the ceiling and the style indicates maturity but has lost its original dazzling colour. The bracket figures on thepiers here are some of the finest.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Psychology of crying. Does a good cry really help?


A good cry can often make us feel better and help us put things in perspective. Now, a new study has revealed that the benefits of crying depend entirely on the what, where and when of a particular ‘crying episode’. The University of South Florida psychologists Jonathan Rottenberg and Lauren M Bylsma, along with their colleague Ad JJM Vingerhoets of Tilburg University analyzed the detailed accounts of more than 3000 recent crying experiences (which occurred outside of the laboratory).
The researchers found that the majority of respondents reported improvements in their mood following a bout of crying. However, one third of the survey participants reported no improvement in mood and a tenth felt worse after crying. The survey also revealed that criers who received social support during their crying episode were the most likely to report improvements in mood.
Studies till date have not always produced a clear picture of the benefits of crying, in part because the results often seem to depend on how crying is studied. The researchers note several challenges in accurately studying crying behavior in a laboratory setting.
Volunteers who cry in a laboratory setting often do not describe their experiences as being cathartic or making them feel better. Rather, crying in a laboratory setting often results in the study participants feeling worse; this may be due to the stressful conditions of the study itself, such as being videotaped or watched by research assistants. This may produce negative emotions (such as embarrassment), which neutralize the positive benefits usually associated with crying.
However, these laboratory studies have provided interesting findings about the physical effects of crying. Criers do show calming effects such as slower breathing, but they also experience a lot of unpleasant stress and arousal, including increased heart rate and sweating.
What is interesting is that bodily calming usually lasts longer than the unpleasant arousal. The calming effects may occur later and overcome the stress reaction, which would account for why people tend to remember mostly the pleasant side of crying.
Research has shown that the effects of crying also depend on who is shedding the tears. For example, individuals with anxiety or mood disorders are least likely to experience the positive effects of crying. Also, the researchers found that people who lack insight into their emotional lives (a condition known as alexithymia) actually feel worse after crying. The authors suggest that for these individuals, their lack of emotional insight may prevent the kind of cognitive change required for a sad experience to be transformed into something positive.
http://1stholistic.com/…/pro…/A2007/psychology-of-crying.htm

Dark matter might be made of super-heavy particles almost as big as human cells




Usually, when a new particle is discovered or its existence hypothesised, it's on such a tiny scale that it's hard for us to imagine. But that might not be the case with dark matter, because researchers have found evidence to suggest that these mysterious, invisible particles could be about one-third the size of a human cell, and dense enough to almost create a mini black hole.
Though they reportedly make up five-sixths of all of the matter in the Universe, no one truly knows what dark matter is, how it works, or even what it could look like. Despite its mysterious nature, scientists hypothesise that dark matter has to exist in some form to account for the amount of mass needed for the Universe to exist and act in the way it does.
Knowing this, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark decided to investigate the size of these hypothetical hidden particles. According to the team, dark matter could weigh more than 10 billion billion (10^9) times more than a proton.
If this is true, a single dark matter particle could weigh about 1 microgram, which is about one-third the mass of a human cell (a typical human cell weighs about 3.5 micrograms), and right under the threshold for a particle to become a black hole.
The researchers came up with this number by creating a new model for a super-heavy particle they call the PIDM particle (Planckian Interacting Dark Matter). These supermassive particles belong to a class of particles known as 'weakly interacting massive particles', or WIMPS.
Before now, researchers have suggested that WIMPs were about 100 times the mass of a proton, Charles Q. Choi reports for LiveScience, but while the existence of WIMPS has been hypothesied for years, evidence of them is, well, extremely lacking, like everything else about dark matter. This leaves open the possibility that dark matter particles could be made of something significantly different, says Choi.
If the team from Denmark is right about the size of dark matter particles, it means dark matter is too large for researchers to recreate with particle accelerators. Instead, evidence of dark matter might exist in the Universe’s cosmic microwave background radiation, which is basically the light left around from the Big Bang.
In short, when the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the Universe grew rapidly, a time period researchers call 'inflation'. The next stage on the Universe’s development chart is called reheating, which, among many things, created particles. It's here, during reheating, that supermassive dark matter particles might have first formed.
"However, for this model to work, the heat during reheating would have
had to be significantly higher than what is typically assumed in Universal models," says Choi. "A hotter reheating would in turn leave a signature in the cosmic microwave background radiation that the next generation of cosmic microwave background experiments could detect."
Obviously, if we do eventually observe direct evidence of dark matter, it would solidify many hypotheses about how the Universe works and initially formed.
However, before that happens, we need better tools, which University of Southern Denmark cosmologist, McCullen Sandora, says we should have within the next decade.
Until then, we can only speculate how dark matter works and how it fits into longstanding hypotheses and models.
http://journals.aps.org/…/ab…/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.101302
http://arxiv.org/abs/1511.03278
http://www.sciencealert.com/dark-matter-might-actually-be-s…

All three are blind. Experience their sweet voice


Thursday, March 24, 2016

மதுரையில் ஒரு மளிகைக்கடை நூறு ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்.


Watch the real story about Christopher Columbus (what your teachers never told you).


Tips for Writing Your Research Proposal

1. Know yourself: Know your area of expertise, what are your strengths and what are your weaknesses. Play to your strengths, not to your weaknesses. If you want to get into a new area of research, learn something about the area before you write a proposal. Research previous work. Be a scholar.
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2. Know the program from which you seek support: You are responsible for finding the appropriate program for support of your research.
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3. Read the program announcement: Programs and special activities have specific goals and specific requirements. If you don’t meet those goals and requirements, you have thrown out your chance of success. Read the announcement for what it says, not for what you want it to say. If your research does not fit easily within the scope of the topic areas outlined, your chance of success is nil.
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4. Formulate an appropriate research objective: A research proposal is a proposal to conduct research, not to conduct development or design or some other activity. Research is a methodical process of building upon previous knowledge to derive or discover new knowledge, that is, something that isn’t known before the research is conducted.
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5. Develop a viable research plan: A viable research plan is a plan to accomplish your research objective that has a non-zero probability of success. The focus of the plan must be to accomplish the research objective.
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6. State your research objective clearly in your proposal: A good research proposal includes a clear statement of the research objective. Early in the proposal is better than later in the proposal. The first sentence of the proposal is a good place. A good first sentence might be, “The research objective of this proposal is...” Do not use the word “develop” in the statement of your research objective.
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7. Frame your project around the work of others: Remember that research builds on the extant knowledge base, that is, upon the work of others. Be sure to frame your project appropriately, acknowledging the current limits of knowledge and making clear your contribution to the extension of these limits. Be sure that you include references to the extant work of others.
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8. Grammar and spelling count: Proposals are not graded on grammar. But if the grammar is not perfect, the result is ambiguities left to the reviewer to resolve. Ambiguities make the proposal difficult to read and often impossible to understand, and often result in low ratings. Be sure your grammar is perfect.
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9. Format and brevity are important: Do not feel that your proposal is rated based on its weight. Use 12-point fonts, use easily legible fonts, and use generous margins. Take pity on the reviewers. Make your proposal a pleasant reading experience that puts important concepts up front and makes them clear. Use figures appropriately to make and clarify points, but not as filler.
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10. Know the review process: Know how your proposal will be reviewed before you write it. Proposals that are reviewed by panels must be written to a broader audience than proposals that will be reviewed by mail. Mail review can seek out reviewers with very specific expertise in very narrow disciplines.
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11. Proof read your proposal before it is sent: Many proposals are sent out with idiotic mistakes, omissions, and errors of all sorts. Proposals have been submitted with the list of references omitted and with the references not referred to. Proposals have been submitted to the wrong program. Proposals have been submitted with misspellings in the title. These proposals were not successful. Stupid things like this kill a proposal. It is easy to catch them with a simple, but careful, proof reading. Don’t spend six or eight weeks writing a proposal just to kill it with stupid mistakes that are easily prevented.
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12. Submit your proposal on time: Duh? Why work for two months on a proposal just to have it disqualified for being late? Remember, fairness dictates that proposal submission rules must apply to everyone. It is not up to the discretion of the program officer to grant you dispensation on deadlines. Get your proposal in two or three days before the deadline.

Microbes can play games with the mind

The bacteria in our guts may help decide who gets anxiety and depression


The 22 men took the same pill for four weeks. When interviewed, they said they felt less daily stress and their memories were sharper. The brain benefits were subtle, but the results, reported at last year’s annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, got attention. That’s because the pills were not a precise chemical formula synthesized by the pharmaceutical industry.
The capsules were brimming with bacteria.
In the ultimate PR turnaround, once-dreaded bacteria are being welcomed as health heroes. People gobble them up in probiotic yogurts, swallow pills packed with billions of bugs and recoil from hand sanitizers. Helping us nurture the microbial gardens in and on our bodies has become big business, judging by grocery store shelves.
These bacteria are possibly working at more than just keeping our bodies healthy: They may be changing our minds. Recent studies have begun turning up tantalizing hints about how the bacteria living in the gut can alter the way the brain works. These findings raise a question with profound implications for mental health: Can we soothe our brains by cultivating our bacteria?
By tinkering with the gut’s bacterial residents, scientists have changed the behavior of lab animals and small numbers of people. Microbial meddling has turned anxious mice bold and shy mice social. Rats inoculated with bacteria from depressed people develop signs of depression themselves. And small studies of people suggest that eating specific kinds of bacteria may change brain activity and ease anxiety. Because gut bacteria can make the very chemicals that brain cells use to communicate, the idea makes a certain amount of sense.
Though preliminary, such results suggest that the right bacteria in your gut could brighten mood and perhaps even combat pernicious mental disorders including anxiety and depression. The wrong microbes, however, might lead in a darker direction.
Open channels

Although the communication lines aren’t fully understood, bacteria in the gut and cells in the brain may stay in touch in several ways. Signals can move along the vagus nerve or be carried by chemical messengers, such as serotonin, and by molecules that travel via the immune system. 

Studying germ-free mice
Bacteria in the gut may help brains develop, based on studies from mice born and raised without bacteria. These mice are different from normal mice in several key brain areas.

Striatum: In mice without bacteria, the flux of the neural messengers dopamine and serotonin is altered in the striatum, a brain area involved in movement and emotional responses. New connections may form more readily in the striatum too. These changes may cause bacteria-free animals to move and explore abnormally.

Hippocampus: Involved in memory and navigation, the hippocampi of germ-free mice have reduced levels of molecules that sense serotonin and the growth factor BDNF. These mice display memory problems.

Amygdala: Germ-free mice have changes in the levels of serotonin, BDNF and other signaling molecules in the amygdala, a brain structure involved in emotions. These alterations might contribute to an increase in risk-taking behavior.

Hypothalamus: The brain’s stress responder, the hypothalamus, shows boosts in corticotropin-releasing factor and adrenocorticotropic hormone in germ-free mice. The changes might be related to the animals’ heightened stress responses.

SOURCE: S.M. COLLINS, M. SURETTE AND P. BERCIK/NAT. REV. MICROBIOL. 2012

Cecile G. Tamura