26/02: Biodegradable mobile technology

Imagine getting tired of your old mobile phone and after getting a new one, just popping the old one into a flower pot and watching it grow into a sunflower plant.

mobile sunflower
© Warwick University

I kid you not! This is true.

This unique mobile phone design has been developed by researchers from Warwick University and materials company PVAXX. It presents all kinds of interesting uses this technology can be put to use in.

It's amazing to see technology evolve to solve environmental issues facing man kind, however small the 'evolution' is.

Another such technology is a circuit board made out of lasagne.

mobile lasagne
© Jennie Hills/Science Museum

I believe the key question about this lasagne based circuit boards is the life of this new material and the circuits made on it.

For reading up more on this new technology, click here.

26/02: The myth of Muslim support for terror

by Kenneth Ballen

The common enemy is violence and terrorism, not Muslims any more than Christians or Jews.

Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.

Do these findings mean that Americans are closet terrorist sympathizers?

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14/02: The history of Valentine's day

I was going through The News site and found something interesting on the history of Valentine's day. The article seems a bit brash but it makes for a good read if read with an open mind. It is written by Shahida Ejaz and can be read here. The relevant excerpt with regards to this post is posted below.

Valentine's Day postcard, circa 1910
Valentine's Day postcard, circa 1910

The origins of Valentine's day goes back to the time of the ancient Romans and a festival called Lupercalia. Celebrated on Feb. 15 every year, this pagan feast required the offering of an animal sacrifice to the gods in return for protection from the deities. Lupercalia was named after Lupercus, the ancient Roman god of fertility and husbandry and protector of herds and crops, and a hunter, especially of wolves. The Romans believed that Lupercus would protect Rome from packs of wolves which they thought often devoured their livestock and fellow Romans.

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09/02: The Trip of a Lifetime

Carla Allen

Pakistan isn’t the most obvious choice for a school trip, but that’s exactly where four students and their teacher from Moulsham High School have been, to experience a trip of a lifetime.

Four Year 10 students, Carmel Johnson, Hannah Utting, Becky Boyd and Lucy Davis and their Geography teacher Miss Allen got the opportunity to travel to Pakistan after Moulsham High became one of five schools to win a national competition to produce a 15 minute presentation about the country.

The girls won the first prize of a ten day VIP trip to Pakistan starting in Islamabad before going on to Peshawar and then Lahore. Organised by Harlow based IT company Ahkter Computers, the purpose of the trip was to give students an insight into a country which often receives a negative press and allow them to form their own opinions.

Miss Allen and Carmel outside a Mosque.


You can read the rest of the article on the BBC UK site.

This shows that when one is allowed to form informed opinions instead of one sided biased opinions, the viewpoint is much more balanced and beneficial for all involved.

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09/02: The Theatre of War

Sydney Morning Herald
by Eleanor Limprecht

At the border between hostile neighbours India and Pakistan, the guards put on a fine show. Eleanor Limprecht reports.

From communalist violence to border disputes and threats of nuclear war, India and Pakistan have had a tumultuous history since their partition in 1947.

Though the bitter rivals have made recent inroads towards peace, their animosity can still be witnessed at the Wagah border at sunset every evening, when soldiers from each side march and shake their guns in a menacing - but bordering on ridiculous - spectacle that draws hundreds of spectators.

Both countries have built stadium seating for the crowds and taxi drivers make a lucrative business shuttling tourists from Amritsar, a border town in the Indian state of Punjab. Families bring picnics and cheer on the soldiers as they stomp their feet, puff out their chests and lower their national flags in a clearly contemptuous spectacle.

But rarely do these tourists actually cross the border, so it is with some trepidation that my friend and I walk through the six sets of gates and four passport checks to spend a few days in Lahore.

Taste of Lahore ... the exotic fare in Food Street.
Photo: Eleanor Limprecht

A week earlier we had lined up for visas at the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi and booked our train tickets to Amritsar.

Tell people in India that you are crossing the border into Pakistan and they shake their heads in horror. "Oh, no," said the dignified-looking Sikh on the train. "Why would you want to do that? India is very beautiful - much more safe. None of these terrorist sleeper cells, no Osama bin Laden."

The Indian border guards are not very encouraging, either. "I hope you come back soon," one says. "You will find it is not as nice as India." His friend adds: "They eat too much meat - it makes them violent."

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08/02: ‘Three Cups of Tea’ for Education

by Babar Bhatti

I discovered the book Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen and David Oliver Relin in my local library. Once I started reading it was hard to put it down.

The book is about a bohemian American mountain climber Greg Mortensen whose life was saved in a remote northern village of Pakistan in the 1990s. To show his gratitude, Greg decided to build a school there. What happens after that is a remarkable story of triumph against what seemed enormous odds at that time.

The name of the book comes from an anecdote where Haji Ali, the elder of village Korphe tells Greg to stop making everyone crazy during the construction of the school. Says Haji Ali, “You must make time to have three cups of tea with us. The first time you share tea with a Balti you are a stranger. The second time you take tea you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family and for our family we are prepared to do anything.”

Greg confesses that it was the most important lesson he ever learned: to slow down and build relationships is as important as building projects. “He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them”.

I absolutely loved the book. But instead of rambling on with my personal impressions, I’ll share an editorial reviews of the book, posted on, where the book is rated 5 stars based on 76 reviews. A New York Times best-seller, it was also Time Magazine’s Asian Book of The Year for 2006.

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06/02: SED displays: A possible LCD/Plasma display successor?

This article is about a new type of display technology revealed relatively recently. I have been hearing about it (rather reading about it) a lot and I thought with all the flashy LCDs and plasma screens out there, there has to be something that is a cut above the rest. Don't bother to check out availability, there is still some time until it becomes affordable and widely available.

Over the last three to four years, the computing world has witnessed a dramatic shift from the traditional CRTs to LCDs. This occurred in part due to the sleek design, low weight, less bulk and low power requirement achieved with the latter which hits snags in CRTs. Also LCD shows much greater potential to build larger and larger panels (Samsung actually introduced a 82'' panel in March 2005) without any drop in clarity.

One might think with all this LCD/plasma buzz, CRT tech is obsolete. Not really; just imagine if you had a CRT with the same dimensions of LCD, with clarity and brightness of CRT or beyond it. This thing is called a SED display with SED standing for Surface Conducting Electron Emitter Display and was first introduced by Canon Inc.

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