Monthly Archives: October 2011

Gas Hydrates: fuel trapped in ice

Unlocking fuel trapped in ice

By Kirsten Korosec | October 25, 2011, 10:04 AM PDT

Locked
within ice-like cages that are buried in the sediments below thick
Arctic permafrost and beneath the ocean floor, is an immense source of
energy that scientists have studied for more than two decades.

Methane hydrates — gas molecules trapped within a lattice of ice
— could contain more energy than all other known fossil fuels
combined.  That is, if folks figure out how to produce volumes of
methane from hydrate beyond a few small-scale field experiments.

Until then, the testing will continue.  ConocoPhillips, the Energy Department and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. are conducting the latest round of field experiments, which will focus on a production method that could create an innovative way of storing carbon dioxide.

During the initial field trial set to begin in January 2012, carbon
dioxide will be injected into the methane hydrate-bearing sandstone
formations, which can be located more than 1,500 feet beneath the ocean
floor. Carbon dioxide molecules will be swapped for methane molecules,
and aims to achieve two goals: release the methane gas and permanently
store the carbon dioxide in the formation. This field experiment will be
an extension of earlier successful tests of the technology conducted by
ConocoPhillips and its partners in a laboratory setting, the DOE said.

The tests will use the “Iġnik Sikumi” (Iñupiaq for
“fire in the ice”) gas hydrate field trial well that was installed in
Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay region by ConocoPhillips and the Office of Fossil
Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory earlier this year.

The team will spend another month evaluating an alternative method of
methane production called depressurization, which was successfully
demonstrated during a one-week test in a different location by Japan and
Canada back in 2008.

Photo: Wikicommons; DOE

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Bleached Flour Causes Diabetes?

The Little-Known Secrets about Bleached Flour


Nearly everyone knows that white flour is not healthy for

you, but most people don’t know that when white flour is bleached, it
can actually be FAR worse for you.

It’s generally understood that refining food destroys nutrients. With

the most nutritious part of the grain removed, white flour essentially
becomes a form of sugar. Consider what gets lost in the refining
process:

*Half of the beneficial unsaturated fatty acids

  • *Virtually all of the vitamin
  • *Fifty percent of the calcium
  • *Seventy percent of the phosphorus
  • *Eighty percent of the iron
  • *Ninety eight percent of the magnesium
  • *Fifty to 80 percent of the B vitamins

And many more nutrients are destroyed — simply too many to list.

The Journey of the Wheat Berry

Have you ever wondered how white flour is made?

The website Healthy Eating Politics has an interesting article about the process.

Most commercial wheat production is, unfortunately, a “study in

pesticide application,” beginning with the seeds being treated with
fungicide. Once they become wheat, they are sprayed with hormones and
pesticides. Even the bins in which the harvested wheat is stored have
been coated with insecticides. If bugs appear on the wheat in storage,
they fumigate the grain.

A whole grain of wheat, sometimes called a wheat berry, is composed of three layers:

  • *The bran
  • *The germ
  • *The endosperm

The bran is the layer where you’ll find most of the fiber, and it’s

the hard outer shell of the kernel. The germ is the nutrient-rich embryo
that will sprout into a new wheat plant. The endosperm is the largest
part of the grain (83 percent), making up most of the kernel, and it’s
mostly starch.

White flour is made from the endosperm only, whereas whole-wheat flour combines all three parts of the wheat berry.

Old time mills ground flour slowly, but today’s mills are designed
for mass-production, using high-temperature, high-speed steel rollers.
The resulting white flour is nearly all starch, and even much of today’s
commercially processed whole wheat flour has lost a fair amount of
nutritional value due to these aggressive processing methods.

White flour contains a small fraction of the nutrients of the

original grain, with the heat of the steel rollers having destroyed what
little nutrients remain. But then it is hit with another chemical
insult–a chlorine gas bath (chlorine oxide). This serves as a whitener, as well as an “aging” agent.

Flour used to be aged with time, improving the gluten and thus

improving the baking quality. Now, it is treated  with chlorine  to
instantly produce similar qualities in the flour (with a disturbing lack
of concern about adding another dose of chemicals to your food).

According to Jim Bair, Vice President of the North American Millers Association:

“Today, the US milling industry produces about 140 million pounds of
flour each day, so there is no way to store the flour to allow it to age
naturally. Plus, there is a shelf life issue.”

It has not been determined how many mills are bleaching flour with

chorine oxide, but we do know the use of chlorides for bleaching flour
is considered an industry standard.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines chlorine gas as
a flour-bleaching, aging and oxidizing agent that is a powerful
irritant, dangerous to inhale, and lethal. Other agents also used
include oxides of nitrogen, nitrosyl, and benzoyl peroxide mixed with
various chemical salts.

The chlorine gas undergoes an oxidizing chemical reaction with some
of the proteins in the flour, producing alloxan as an unintended
byproduct. Bair and other milling industry leaders claim that bleaching
and oxidizing agents don’t leave behind harmful residues in flour,
although they can cite no studies or published data to confirm this.

Why Bleaching Makes White Flour Even Worse

It has been shown that alloxan is a byproduct of the flour bleaching process, the process they use to make flour look so “clean” and — well, white. No, they are technically not adding alloxan
to the flour — although you will read this bit of misinformation on
the Internet. But, they are doing chemical treatments to the grain that
result in the formation of alloxan in the flour.

With so little food value already in a piece of white bread, now
there is potentially a chemical poison lurking in there as well.

So what is so bad about alloxan?

Alloxan, or C4 H2O4N2, is a product of the decomposition of uric
acid. It is a poison that is used to produce diabetes in healthy
experimental animals (primarily rats and mice), so that researchers can
then study diabetes “treatments” in the lab. Alloxan causes diabetes
because it spins up enormous amounts of free radicals in pancreatic beta
cells, thus destroying them.

Beta cells are the primary cell type in areas of your pancreas called
islets of Langerhans, and they produce insulin; so if those are
destroyed, you get diabetes.

There is no other commercial application for alloxan — it is used
exclusively in the medical research industry because it is so highly
toxic.

Given the raging epidemic of diabetes and other chronic diseases in
this country, can you afford to be complacent about a toxin such as this
in your bread, even if it is present in small amounts?

Just How Much is Too Much?

Similar to disinfection byproducts (DBPs) in water, alloxan is formed
when the chlorine reacts with certain proteins remaining in the white
flour after the bran and germ have been removed. Protein makes up
between 5 percent and 15 percent of white flour, depending on whether
it’s cake flour, or high-gluten flour, such as what’s used for pizza
crust or bagels.

So, this would suggest that perhaps 5 to 15 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour could be contaminated.

However, according to Professor Joe Schwarcz, Director of the McGill
University Office of Science and Society, alloxan is the byproduct of
xantophyll oxidation only. Xantophylls are yellow compounds in wheat that react with oxygen, causing flour to turn white.

According to Mr. Schwarcz:

“One of the possible minor side products of xantophyll oxidation is
alloxan. It may therefore be found in small amounts in flour. There is
no available research that shows trace amounts are a problem or that
alloxan builds up in the body. The amounts, if present at all, must be
small because xantophylls themselves only occur to the extent of 1 microgram per gram of flour.”

Alloxan has not been studied in terms of human exposure, particularly
long-term. There is just so much we don’t know, and you know what
assumptions will get you.

Alloxan in Rats vs Alloxan in Humans

Scientists have long known that alloxan produces selective
destruction of the beta cells of the pancreas, causing hyperglycemia and
ketoacidosis in laboratory animals. Alloxan is structurally similar to
glucose, which might explain why the pancreatic beta cells selectively
take it up.

According to Dr. Hari Sharma’s Freedom from Disease, alloxan causes
free radical damage to DNA in the beta cells of the pancreas, causing
them to malfunction and die. When they fail to function normally, they
no longer produce enough insulin.

Even though the toxic effect of alloxan is common scientific
knowledge in the research community, the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) still allows companies to use chemical processes in which the end
result is toxic food. Until they unequivocally prove something is toxic
by way of human deaths, severe side effects, or when the public screams
loudly enough, the FDA is not likely to protect you.

Until then, it is you who must protect yourself.

If you have diabetes, or cancer, have a compromised immune system, or
if you are in some other high-risk category as tens of millions of
North Americans are, you need to know what foods contain hazardous
ingredients so you can avoid them. But in the case of alloxan, there is no way to know, either by reading the ingredient list or by any other means, that it might be in your food!

History of Bleaching Flour — Pillsbury and the FDA

An interesting sideline to this whole flour story lies in the origins of the FDA.

Bleaching and oxidizing agents weren’t developed to produce quick
aging of wheat flour (within 48 hours) until the early 1900s. Prior to
that, it required several months for oxygen to condition flour
naturally.

When bleaching was introduced, it was vehemently opposed.

The first major consumer advocate was Harvey W. Wiley, MD, who
eventually became known as the “Father of the Pure Food and Drugs Act”
of 1906.  Mr. Wiley was head of the Bureau of Chemistry, which was the
precursor to the FDA. Wiley crusaded against benzoic acid, sulfites,
saccharin, and bleached flour, among other food additives and adulterants.

Dr. Wiley felt so strongly about preventing the bleaching of flour
that he took it all the way to the Supreme Court. They ruled that flour
could not be bleached or “adulterated” in any way. However, it was never
enforced.

Wiley believed that foods posed a greater risk to the public than
adulterated or misbranded drugs. He constantly butted heads with
Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson and President Roosevelt over food
regulation.

Soon, Wiley’s personal administrative authority was undercut when
Wilson created the Board of Food and Drug Inspection in 1907 and the
Referee Board of Consulting Scientific Experts in 1908, one of which was
reportedly headed by someone who had been working at Pillsbury,
although I have not been able to verify this addendum.

Finally, in 1912, Dr. Wiley quit as director out of frustration,
although he continued as a vocal consumer advocate for many years.

The government replaced Dr. Wiley with Dr. Elmer Nelson. Dr. Nelson was the polar opposite to Wiley , and was quoted as saying:

“It is wholly unscientific to state that a well-fed body is more able
to resist disease than a poorly fed body. My overall opinion is that
there hasn’t been enough experimentation to prove that dietary
deficiencies make one susceptible to disease.”

Therein lies the foundation of the FDA. Since Dr. Wiley resigned, the
FDA has continued to shift its focus on drugs, since Wiley was never
able to convince the government of the dangers from chemicals in our
foods. He was truly a pioneer and a century ahead of his time!

Food For Thought

The important point to take away is, beware of any processed food
because chemicals are always used. And we simply don’t know what the
long-term effects will be of ingesting chemicals, on top of chemicals,
on top of more chemicals.

Strive to stick to whole unprocessed foods that are as close to their
natural state as possible. If you’re going to eat grains, make sure
they are at the least unbleached, whole, and organic, and eat them in
the proportion that is best for your nutritional type.

Occupy Wall Street

NEW YORK — One of the richest men in the world took a stroll
among the people of the protest group called Occupy Wall Street who were
encamped like Bedouins in the Lower Broadway park named after him. Not a
soul knew or guessed that John Zuccotti, 74, was that fellow meandering
anonymously along like everyone else.

A
young woman in her late twenties with long, wavy brown hair and the
fresh innocence of a Brown University graduate stood on the sidewalk
before a congregation of hundreds of people and as a “facilitator”
helped conduct a three-hour “General Assembly” in a style dubbed
“consensus democracy.”

A hand-lettered sign on a corrugated box flap proclaimed:

“There are no leaders here. Don’t ask for them. Get used to it!”

Reporters
sought in vain for authorized representatives to answer their
questions, and many groused about not finding any. Without leaders, they
grumped, who is there to question? Who presents the group’s talking
points and expresses cogent demands?

From
the handmade signs bobbing daily in a sea of humanity, interviews with
dozens of protesters and the ongoing public exchanges among the
thousands at Occupy Wall Street emerge the questions that are beginning
to resonate across America:

» Is
it fair for a tiny splinter of the population, allegedly just 1
percent, to own and control half or more of a nation’s wealth?

» Should
corporations be granted the privileges of “personhood,” via a Supreme
Court decision on campaign finance, when corporations don’t have a
conscience?

» Why have the world’s millionaires increased by almost nine percent since 2009?

» Why are bailed-out banks allowed to hoard their cash?

» Why can’t America eliminate the corrupting and destructive links between politicians and corporations?

The
thirst for answers appears to be gaining momentum. An Associated
Press-GfK poll released Friday says 37 percent of Americans back the
people gathered here. And 58 percent of Americans say they are furious
about America’s politicians.
A slender 27-year-old man, who calls himself Kwame, sat on a granite
slab beside a pale, plump, goat-bearded college professor and they mused
about the characteristics of the crowd.

For
one thing, roughly 99 percent of everyone within sight, no matter how
they are garbed, carries a smartphone. Except for a bronze statue of a
businessman hunched over his briefcase, neckties are scarce. Almost as
scarce are people of color.

Kwame,
who’s black, is working on his Ph.D. in music at Stanford University.
The question was raised, “Why is there just one percent black people
among the 99 percenters in the park?”

“Education,”
he said. “The higher their education level, the more likely anyone is
to be here. Blacks in New York are a shrinking minority and their
schools are not up to high standards. But as this goes on, there’ll be
more.”

There are
just about as many males as females. Many people claim to hold one or
more jobs and about two out of 10 say they can’t find one. People who
haven’t showered in far too long rub elbows with well-scrubbed travelers
from abroad. There are blue-dyed mohawks, a few hippie-ish longhairs,
tattoos of all colors, labor union workers, anarchists, musicians,
hundreds of blue tarpaulins, pillars of pizza boxes, plastic bottles of
water that cost more per quart than gasoline, and wave after wave of
curious tourists and “media” who invariably ask the question:

“Why are you all here and what do you want?”

The answer is both super-simple and ultra-complicated:

“Money.”

The
primary issue for almost every soul in the park — whatever their age,
spiritual faith, political leanings, skin shade, gender, ethnicity,
hierarchical rank, IQ level or social class — is an inquiry into what
money actually is, how money truly functions, what money is worth, how
money affects the way we are governed, how money is stolen and by whom,
how money affects the law, how to get money and how to spend it.

What
so fascinates people about the month-old iCreature called Occupy Wall
Street is that the Occupiers have brilliantly directed the searchlight
of world attention on the global subject of money. Almost everybody
cares about money. As Mark Twain put it, “Some men worship rank, some
worship heroes, some worship power, some worship God, & over these
ideals they dispute & cannot unite — but they all worship money.”
n Zuccotti Park, the lefties, the righties, the middlies and the
politically perplexed have quite amazingly gathered to consider in a
unique 21st-century style the true role of money. In a wild and almost
weird collision of coincidences, Occupy has become the hottest ticket in
town.

The word “occupy” is now attached
to more than 1,000 cities (including Wilmington), states, nations and
locations globally. Plans are afoot for a massive, Internet-coordinated
“international” occupation of Central Park on the easy-to-remember date
of Friday, 11/11/11. A permit is required for large gatherings in the
city-owned park.

•°°

The
privately owned Zuccotti Park is named for a lively and thoughtful man
whose life story epitomizes the wildest American dreams of avarice.
Before becoming one of the world’s wealthiest real estate developers,
Zuccotti checked hats at a super-swanky 54th Street speakeasy with
zebra-striped decor called El Morocco, where his father, Angelo, was the
suave maitre d’.

Zuccotti
graduated from Princeton, earned his law degree at Yale and became one
of the 500 richest men in the world according to Forbes Magazine. He
served on both the National Republican Congressional Committee and with
Vice President Joe Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign. Zuccotti has paid
incognito visits to the park and friends say he was worried about the
disorder and mess, but he nonetheless smiled while strolling through the
plaza that carries his family name.

Then
there is an Estonia-born writer and documentary filmmaker named Kalle
Lasn, 69, the founder and editor of a popular Canadian magazine called
Adbusters, which probes and satirizes the ideas and consequences of
consumerism, an economic philosophy that Adbusters readers regard as
pernicious and fundamentally evil.

This
story began one day in a Vancouver supermarket. Lasn became infuriated
when he had to pay a quarter to rent a shopping cart. He jammed the coin
in the slot. It was his first act of vandalism against consumerism,
which he sees as an infernal machine that sucks coins from consumers’
pockets and seldom returns fair value. Adbusters soon became one of
Canada’s favorite magazines.
In July 2011, Lasn published an editorial in Adbusters (www.adbusters.org) that called on 20,000 people to “set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months.”

With
what aim in mind? To investigate and eventually sever unscrupulous
links between politics and money and to force the government “to choose
publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the
corporations.”

A
few dozen “activists” in New York City took note. On Sept. 17, a
Saturday, they showed up at the little–known, granite-paved Zuccotti
Park, about as big as a football field minus the end zones. It is two
blocks up Broadway from Trinity Church, at the top of Wall Street. It
is three blocks from the New York Stock Exchange and four blocks from
Federal Hall, the first capitol of the United States of America, where
George Washington was sworn in as the first president in 1789. Two
blocks to the west, the steel skeleton and glass skin of One World Trade
Center is built up to its 86th floor and will rise eventually to an
altitude of 1,776 feet above the ground on the spot where the North
Tower of the World Trade Center once stood.

Day
by day, that first encampment of vinyl tarps, overstuffed backpacks,
sleeping bags, umbrellas, guitars, drums, a seedy old sofa and
unspeakable mattresses began to grow like the gray matter in a brain
does, neuron by neuron, from person to person, from smartphone to
smartphone, from mind to mind, in a way that the iPeople have come to
call “going viral.”

By
last Monday, Oct. 17, the first month’s anniversary of Occupy Wall
Street’s un-immaculate birth, the “Occupus” had sprouted tentacles in
hundreds of cities around the globe and the number increased each day.
Boston, Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, San
Francisco and Los Angeles were “occupied” within a week or so. Within a
fortnight, the estimated numbers in marching crowds and occupied places
was greater on the West Coast than in the East, where Occupy began. Then
London, Rome and Barcelona joined in, and so on round the globe.
In the first few weeks, Occupy was paid scant attention by the media,
which is not surprising because New York City is awash in political
protests and this one seemed to many editors no more significant than
most. Then, on Oct. 6, Paul Krugman, the 2008 winner of the Nobel
Memorial Prize for economics and the “Liberal” op-ed columnist for the
New York Times, wrote:

“What can we say
about the [Occupy Wall Street] protests? First things first: The
protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force,
economically and politically, is completely right.”

It
was the equivalent of a rave theater review. Occupy Wall Street
suddenly gained momentum. A squad of uniformed police was positioned
just outside the park, unthreatened and content on overtime pay. “We’re
minding the trust fund babies,” is how one policeman put it.

Now
the more mainstream media began to show up. Reporters immediately
noticed that there are no bathroom facilities in the park and personal
hygiene for the campers is rough. The McDonald’s across Broadway allows
restroom privileges for all (most visitors pay for the kindness by
buying at least a cup of coffee first). So do Trinity Church and an
Episcopal public meeting room called Charlotte’s Place that is decorated
with fresh flowers and offers sparkling-clean bathrooms, Wi-Fi and
tables for computers, and a free conference room where Occupy working
groups meet.

Because
social communication is what Occupy is actually all about, the biggest
obstacle the Occupiers overcame was the police ban on voice
amplification. To hold General Assembly meetings for hundreds of people
alongside the noisy bustle of Broadway without megaphonic help would
have been impossible without Mike Check! Mike is a superhero of Occupy,
which may be leaderless but is not without heroes.

Mike
Check! is the non-electronic human voice amplifier. It works very
simply, and is the primary means of vocal communication among the
participants in the evening plenary sessions, when hundreds of people
form a crescent of participants and onlookers on the Broadway side of
the park. For at least two hours each night, they discuss, decide and
take parliamentary decisions with all words sung full cry in a great
collective voice.
It works this way:

A person shouts: “Mike Check!”

Everyone
who can hear the shout yells back, “Mike Check!” and the crowd even
mimics the inflection and accent of the speaker’s voice.

The person shouts: “There’s a reporter from Coney Island …”

The crowd yells at the top of its voices: “There’s a reporter from Coney Island …”

The shouter: “who wants to interview somebody from Coney Island.”

The crowd: “who wants to interview somebody from Coney Island.”

Shouter: “So if …”

Crowd: “So if …”

Shouter: “you’re from Coney Island …”

Crowd: “you’re from Coney Island …”

Shouter: “Get over here.”

Crowd (laughing): “GET OVER HERE!”

Those
who know how to use Mike Check! best cut to the chase and talk in four-
or five-word bites. If a shouter uses overly long words or too-long
phrases, the crowd garbles them, which makes everything take longer.
Long-winded speakers are warned, “We get it … enough!” by a particular
hand signal from anyone in the crowd (circling hands around each other
like a football referee when he wants to keep the game clock moving).

Occupy
etiquette makes clear that no matter what the shouter says, or how
antithetical the words might be to local or personal beliefs, the crowd
is duty bound to echo the words at top volume.

The
Mike Check! system was born of adversity and is a concept that
fascinates group dynamics people. Mike Check! actually forces people to
listen carefully to what others say and perhaps apprehend precisely what
they are saying before interrupting with a response.

Another
hero of Zuccotti Park is the sanitation volunteer. There is a
cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness attitude among most of the Occupiers
(with a few swinish exceptions), necessary because littering is a
misdemeanor and could give authorities reason to kick everyone out on
public-safety grounds. On Oct. 14, Mayor Michael Bloomberg seemed about
to evict Occupy from the park to have it steam-washed by
“professionals.” But John Zuccotti’s company, the park’s owners, backed
away from asking for a confrontation that might besmirch the name of the
park and the property.
To keep the park clean, the volunteer sanitation squads patrol
incessantly with brooms and trash pans, and warn people to put down
tarps when they paint protest signs because spilling paint on the
granite can get a person arrested.

There
are numerous hand-drawn signs that proclaim, “DON’T DO DRUGS” and “NO
ALCOHOL.” At a General Assembly, one of the volunteer security detail
men holds up a black plastic sack. He shouts Mike Check! “There are
three bottles …

The crowd echoes: “There are three bottles …”

“… of liquor in the bag.”

“… of liquor in the bag”

“Alcohol will get us all thrown out!”

“Alcohol will get us all thrown out!”

“Don’t bring it!”

“Don’t bring it!”

By
day 34 on Friday, the Occupiers were revving up for yet another weekend
of chaotic protests and teach-ins. The nightly General Assemblies
carried on under their rules of consensual democracy and the “lack of
leadership” was being criticized by Bloomberg, who prefers to deal with
an organization that has a hierarchy and a chain of command.

Nobody
knows yet what Occupy will become. Will it get kicked out of the park?
Will it survive until Thanksgiving? Will it grow into an iCreature that
eats plutocrats for lunch? Will Kalle Lasn come to Manhattan to see what
he hath wrought? Will it end well, or end ugly? Millions worldwide are
tuned in to see.

Artificially Induced Longevity can be Inherited?

Scientific American article  reports


Longevity Shown for First Time to Be Inherited via a Non-DNA Mechanism

Experiments with worms show that altering an enzyme can not only lengthen their life spans, but that the longevity effect can be carried across several generations

Research on nemotode worms is helping to illuminate ways to lengthen their lifetimes. The findings have yet to be replicated in vertebrates, including humans. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In October 2009 Stanford University geneticist Anne Brunet was sitting in her office when graduate student Eric Greer came to her with a slightly heretical question. Brunet’s lab had recently learned that they could lengthen a worm’s lifetime by manipulating levels of an enzyme called SET2. “What if extending a worm’s lifetime using SET2 can affect the life span of its descendants, even if the descendants have normal amounts of the enzyme?” he asked.

The question was unorthodox, Brunet says, “because it touches upon the Lamarckian idea that you can inherit acquired traits, which biologists have believed false for years.” The biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck theorized in 1809 that the traits exhibited by an organism during its lifetime were augmented in its offspring; a giraffe that regularly stretched its neck to eat would father calves whose necks were longer. The idea was largely discredited by Darwin’s theory of evolution, first published in 1859. More recently, scientists have begun to realize that an organism’s behavior and environment may indeed influence the genes it passes to its offspring. The heritability of those acquired traits is not based on DNA, but on alterations in the molecular packaging that surrounds a gene. When Greer approached Brunet in 2009 with his question about worms and SET2, such “epigenetic” inheritance had only been discovered for simple traits such as eye color, flower symmetry and coat color.

Brunet and Greer went ahead with the experiment. The results, published October 19 in Nature, provide the first evidence that some aspects of longevity can be passed from parent to offspring, independent of DNA’s direct influence. (Scientific American is part of Nature Publishing Group.)

“I think this is a fundamentally important finding,” says Matt Kaeberlein of the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies molecular mechanisms of aging. “It demonstrates for the first time that aging can be influenced by epigenetic changes that occurred in prior generations.”

The study used Caenorhabditis elegans worms with very low levels of SET2. The enzyme normally adds methyl molecules onto DNA’s protein packaging material. In doing so, the enzyme opens up the packaging material, allowing the genes to be copied and expressed. Some of those genes appear to be pro-aging genes, Brunet says. Her team knocked out SET2 by removing genes that code for it. This had the effect of significantly lengthening the worms’ life spans, presumably because those pro-aging genes were no longer expressed.

Next, the long-lived, enzyme-lacking worms mated with normal ones. The offspring had the regular genes for making SET2, and even expressed normal amounts of the enzyme, but they lived significantly longer than control worms whose parents both had regular life spans. The life-extending effect carried over into the third generation, but returned to normal by the fourth generation (in the great-grandchildren of the original mutant worms). For the first few generations, having a long-lived ancestor increased life expectancy from 20 days to 25, extending a worm’s longevity by 25 to 30 percent on average.

Brunet and her team have not yet determined the exact mechanism for the lifetime extension, or which molecules are at work. This is one of the study’s imperfections, says David Katz, who researches epigenetic transcriptional memory at Emory University. Regardless, “the effect is clearly epigenetic,” he says, “and it’s probably one of the most complicated traits that has been linked to epigenetic inheritance.”

The knowledge that epigenetics can impact a complex trait like life span has scientists curious to find out what other kinds of traits—such as disease susceptibility, metabolism and developmental patterns—are epigenetically heritable. Because epigenetic effects can be modified by environmental stimuli, Kaeberlein points out, it is possible that some of these traits “could be determined, at least in part, by the environment and lifestyle choices of parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents.”

The study’s results are also exciting because the genes that code for the life-lengthening SET2 enzyme exist in other species, including humans. Brunet says she wants see if the results can be replicated in vertebrates, such as fish and mammals. Those questions will not be answered for many years, because it is unknown whether the SET2 complex has the same function in other species, and because those species have longer generational time frames.

“Worms have very short lives,” Brunet says. “Will the effect apply to mammals that live thousands of times longer? We are excited to find out.”

Now this is exciting.

But there could be another reason for the longevity found in certain populations such as the Japanese and Chinese. In these cultures, ancestor worship is common, and importantly, elderly are given much more respect than in other cultures of the world. Being regarded as useful and respected could be a driving factor for the old to live on. In most other cultures world wide, the senior citizens are viewed as a spent force, with little if any possible contributions to society.

Being fawned upon by the younger generation who look to them for guidance and advice could well be a motivating factor to live on. Of course this assumes that a person can give up on life and that outlook itself shortens her lifespan. But this is a reasonable assumption.

Look around you. Most of the people who are surprisingly fit and perky at a great age are, if you study their habits, people who have some driving force behind them.

 

Iqbal

Reverse Magnetohydrodynamic (RMHD) Pump

 September 10th, 2011 

Zihong Guo built this magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) pump to prototype a possible cooling mechanism for the TerraPower nuclear reactor. Almost all nuclear reactors in use today use water as a coolant, but one thing that makes the TerraPower design special is that it will use a liquid metal as a coolant.

When an atom fissions, big chunks of the nucleus break off as new, smaller-atomic-number atoms, but extra individual neutrons
also fly out of the nucleus. If you put enough easily-fissionable atoms
close enough together and start them off by shooting some neutrons in,
you can get a self-sustaining reaction:
the first generation of atoms are fissioned, emitting enough neutrons
to fission another generation of atoms, and so on. This is what happens
in nuclear reactors.

Nuclear engineers have a choice about neutrons: do they want fast ones or slow ones? When a neutron hits a nucleus, it can either fission it or be absorbed by it. Slow neutrons
are more likely to fission a given nucleus for any given collision, but
they can only fission very high quality fuel– specifically fissile
nuclides like the uranium 235 isotope. Fast neutrons
are less likely to fission a nucleus for any given collision, but they
can split less-fissionable fuel, they produce more extra neutrons per
fission, and they don’t get absorbed by the smaller fission products as
readily. The extra neutrons produced allow the reactor to breed fissile
Plutonium-239 from typically-uninteresting Uranium-238, allowing fast
reactors to get substantially more energy out of the amount of Uranium
we have on Earth than slow (“thermal”) reactors could. 

Loading mercury into the system.

We can keep the neutrons at fast speeds by having only relatively
heavy nuclei in a reactor.  Water, the traditional coolant, is made up
of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. The oxygen atom is more massive than a neutron by 16 times (because oxygen has 16 nucleons),
but the hydrogen has about the same mass as a neutron, and there are
twice as many of them. Neutrons traveling through a water coolant hit
oxygens, which slow them down a little, and hydrogens, which (on
average) slow them down a lot (by conservation of momentum). The use of
water as a coolant is the reason most reactors today are slow (thermal) reactors
Thermal reactors can be much smaller than fast reactors because the
neutrons are more readily absorbed by the fissile nuclei.  (Imagine a
fissile nucleus as a bar magnet and a neutron as a steel ball….if the
steel ball goes very slowly past the magnet, it’s much more likely to be
attracted to the magnet than if it was zinging by at, say, Mach 3!) 

But wait! The neat thing is that there’s no rule that water has to be your coolant. Metals are much more massive than neutrons (how much more massive depends on atomic number),
so when neutrons collide with metal atoms, they retain much more of
their kinetic energy, like a ping-pong ball bouncing off of a bowling
ball. Using metals as coolants can let us build fast-neutron reactors
and use our vast “waste” reserves of depleted U238 uranium in the
reactor to be converted to Plutonium-239.

TerraPower has looked at using liquid sodium metal as a coolant. A big problem with sodium is that as an alkali metal with only one valence electron, sodium is very reactive, and the high temperatures involved would make it even more reactive.

In the pump system, any bits that could let in air or impurities
would give the sodium something to react with. This means, essentially,
that any moving parts would be hazards.

The magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) pump uses conduction to force the
liquid to circulate, so it has no moving parts at all. As a side effect,
this pump has a totally steady flow.

**Many thanks to Nick Touran from TerraPower for helping explain the
physics with the coolant to me, and to Jon McWhirter for conceiving of
the pump concept and for editorial comments.

How it works:

Moving a charged particle in a magnetic field creates a force on that charge in this way:

where is the force on the particle,

q is the charge of the particle,

is the particle’s velocity, and

is the magnetic field.

rhr diagram

In Zihong’s pump, the big red anode and black cathode wires in the picture carry current through the system. They aren’t directly connected; the two electrodes are separated by a tube full of mercury (the prototype uses mercury, not liquid sodium, because mercury is liquid under standard conditions
while sodium is not). Conventional current flows from the anode through
the mercury, which is electrically conductive, to the cathode.

On top of and beneath this segment of tube are two magnets. This
means that the mercury, while it is carrying a moving charge, is in a
strong magnetic field. Like all moving charges in magnetic fields, it
experiences a force, and that force pushes it down the tube and through
the system. As long as current flows, this force (and thus the flow of
metal coolant) are maintained. See diagram.

mhd pump drawing

MHG photo diagram

The prototype runs on 101 A at 0.3 V.

ഇത്രേയുള്ളൂ; ഇത്രമാത്രം!

                 പുതിയൊരു കുഞ്ഞ്‌ നമ്മിലേക്ക്‌ വരാനിരിക്കുന്നു എന്ന വാര്‍ത്ത എത്ര
സന്തോഷത്തോടെയാണ്‌ നാം ആസ്വദിക്കാറുള്ളത്‌! കുടുംബത്തിലേക്ക്‌ പുതിയൊരാള്‍
വരുന്നു! ആകാംക്ഷയോടെ ആ കുഞ്ഞിന്‌ നല്ലൊരു പേര്‌ കണ്ടുവെച്ച്‌ നാം
കാത്തിരിക്കുന്നു. ഉമ്മയുടെയും ഉപ്പയുടെയും മനസ്സു നിറയെ ആ
കുഞ്ഞായിരിക്കും.


                അത്രയും
ആനന്ദവും ആശ്ചര്യവും നിറഞ്ഞ കൈകളിലേക്ക്‌ വന്നുവീണവരാണ്‌
നമ്മളോരോരുത്തരും. ഇനി, അതിലേറെ വേദനയും വിഭ്രാന്തിയും ബാക്കിയാക്കി
അവരില്‍ നിന്നെല്ലാം മടങ്ങിപ്പോകേണ്ടവരുമാണ്‌ ഈ നമ്മള്‍.
ജനിക്കുന്നതിനുമുമ്പ്‌ നമ്മെക്കുറിച്ച ഓര്‍മ കൂടിക്കൂടി വരും; പക്ഷേ
മരിച്ചുകഴിഞ്ഞാല്‍ നമ്മെക്കുറിച്ച ഓര്‍മ്മ കുറഞ്ഞുകുറഞ്ഞുവരും.


                എല്ലാവരും
ജീവിക്കുന്നവരാണെങ്കിലും ജീവിതത്തെക്കുറിച്ച്‌ ചിന്തിക്കുന്നവര്‍
കുറച്ചേയുള്ളൂ. ആനന്ദത്തിന്റെ ആഘോഷം മാത്രമാക്കി ജീവിതത്തെ
പുണരുന്നവര്‍ക്ക്‌ കൊച്ചുകാര്യങ്ങളെപ്പറ്റി ചിന്തിക്കാനേ നേരം കാണൂ.
ഭക്ഷണം, വസ്‌ത്രം, സൗന്ദര്യം, സൗകര്യം അങ്ങനെ വളരെ കുറച്ചുകാര്യങ്ങളുടെ
പിന്നില്‍ അവര്‍ ചുറ്റിത്തിരിയും. ചെറിയ ചെറിയ കാര്യങ്ങളേക്കാള്‍ വലിയ
കാര്യങ്ങള്‍ നിര്‍വഹിക്കാനുള്ള സന്ദര്‍ഭമാണീ ജീവിതമെന്ന്‌ തിരിച്ചറിയാന്‍
സാധിക്കുന്നവര്‍ മഹാഭാഗ്യവാന്മാരാണ്‌.


                 സുഖമൊരു
അനുഭവമല്ല. ദു:ഖമാണ്‌ അനുഭവമെന്ന്‌ ദു:ഖിച്ചവര്‍ക്കൊക്കെ അറിയാം.
രോഗങ്ങളും വേദനകളുമൊന്നുമില്ലെങ്കിലാണ്‌ സത്യത്തില്‍ നമുക്ക്‌ ഭയം
വര്‍ധിക്കേണ്ടത്‌. ഈ ജീവിതത്തിന്റെ നിസ്സാരതയെത്രയെന്ന്‌
തിരിച്ചറിയുമ്പോള്‍ വേദനകളെയും സന്തോഷങ്ങളെയും അതിജീവിക്കാന്‍ നാം
പഠിച്ചുതുടങ്ങും. അലക്കുകല്ലിന്റെ നിയോഗം അടിക്കുക എന്നതല്ല, അടി കൊള്ളുക
എന്നതാണ്‌. ഒരര്‍ഥത്തില്‍ നമ്മുടെയും നിയോഗമതാണ്‌. മരിക്കുന്നതുവരെ
ജീവിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയും ജീവിക്കുമ്പോഴൊക്കെ
പ്രവര്‍ത്തിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയുമാണ്‌ നമ്മുടെ ദൗത്യം.


               അസഹ്യമായ
അനുഭവങ്ങള്‍ വരാനിരിക്കുന്ന ജീവിതമാണ്‌ നമ്മുടേത്‌. അനിഷ്‌ടകരമായ
വാര്‍ത്തകള്‍ കേള്‍ക്കാനിരിക്കുന്ന കാതും ഹൃദയം തകരുന്ന അലര്‍ച്ചയോടെ
കരയാനിരിക്കുന്ന കണ്ണുമാണ്‌ നമ്മുടേത്‌. അത്തരം അനുഭവങ്ങള്‍ വരുത്തരുതേ
എന്ന്‌ പ്രാര്‍ഥിക്കുന്നതോടൊപ്പം അങ്ങനെ വല്ലതും സംഭവിച്ചാല്‍
പിടിച്ചുനില്‍ക്കാനുള്ള കെല്‍പ്പു തരണേയെന്നും പ്രാര്‍ഥിക്കുന്നതിലാണ്‌
തിരുനബി(സ)യുടെ മാതൃക.


                യാഥാര്‍ഥ്യബോധത്തോടെ
ജീവിതാനുഭവങ്ങളെ നേരിടുന്നതിലാണ്‌ നമ്മള്‍ വിജയിക്കേണ്ടത്‌. കുഞ്ഞ്‌
മരിച്ചുകിടന്നപ്പോഴും മുഖത്ത്‌ സങ്കടം വിരിയാതെ, ഭര്‍ത്താവിന്‌ അത്താഴവും
ആനന്ദവും പകര്‍ന്ന സ്വഹാബി വനിതയെ കേട്ടിട്ടില്ലേ? ധീരമായ ഭക്തിയാണത്‌.
കണ്ണീരിനെ മുഴുവന്‍ കണ്ണിനു പിന്നില്‍ നിര്‍ത്തിയ അസാധാരണമായ
സത്യവിശ്വാസമാണത്‌.



              സ്വഹാബികളോടൊപ്പം
യാത്ര ചെയ്യുകയായിരുന്ന തിരുനബി(സ) അവിടെയൊരു ആള്‍ക്കൂട്ടം കണ്ടു.
എന്താണവിടെയെന്ന്‌ അന്വേഷിച്ചു. `അവിടെ ഒരു ഖബ്‌ര്‍
കുഴിച്ചുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയാണ്‌ റസൂലേ’. ഇത്‌ കേട്ടതോടെ തിരുദൂതര്‍
വിഭ്രാന്തിയുള്ള മുഖത്തോടെ ആ ഖബ്‌റിന്നരികിലേക്ക്‌ ഓടി. അവിടെ
മുട്ടുകുത്തിയിരുന്നു. താഴെയുള്ള മണ്ണ്‌ നനയുന്നത്രയും ശക്തമായി കരഞ്ഞു.
എന്നിട്ടിങ്ങനെ പറഞ്ഞു: “എന്റെ കൂട്ടുകാരേ, ഇതുപോലൊരു ദിനത്തെ നേരിടാന്‍
നിങ്ങള്‍ ഒരുക്കങ്ങള്‍ നടത്തണേ.” (ഇബ്‌നുമാജ-സുനന്‍ 4195)


               ജനങ്ങളില്‍
ഏറ്റവും ബുദ്ധിശക്തിയുള്ളവന്‍ ആരാണെന്ന ചോദ്യത്തിന്‌ തിരുനബി(സ)യുടെ
മറുമൊഴി ഇങ്ങനെയായിരുന്നു: “മരണത്തെ നിരന്തരം ഓര്‍ക്കുന്നവര്‍. അതിനായി
തയ്യാറെടുക്കുന്നവര്‍. ഇവിടെ മാന്യതയും പരലോകത്ത്‌ മഹത്വവും
നേടിയെടുക്കുന്നവരാണവര്‍.” (ബൈഹഖി-ശുഅബുല്‍ഈമാന്‍ 7993, 10550)



              മരണത്തെ
ഓര്‍ത്ത്‌ തയ്യാറെടുക്കുന്നവര്‍ക്ക്‌ അല്ലാഹു ഹൃദയത്തെ ഉണര്‍ത്തുകയും
മരണസന്ദര്‍ഭം എളുപ്പമാക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുമെന്ന്‌ അവിടുന്ന്‌ പറഞ്ഞു. (ദൈലമി:
മുസ്‌നദുല്‍ ഫിര്‍ദൗസ്‌)


             `ജീവിച്ച
വര്‍ഷങ്ങളല്ല, വര്‍ഷിച്ച ജീവിതമാണ്‌ പ്രധാനം’ എന്ന്‌ ഇംഗ്ലീഷിലൊരു
പഴമൊഴിയുണ്ട്‌. ആയുസ്സിന്റെ നീളത്തേക്കാള്‍ ആയുസിലെ കര്‍മങ്ങളിലായിരിക്കണം
നമ്മുടെ ശ്രദ്ധ. നമുക്ക്‌ ഒരു ഏകദേശ ധാരണപോലുമില്ലാത്ത നിമിഷത്തില്‍ ഈ
ജീവിതം അവസാനിക്കും.

ആരോടും
യാത്ര ചോദിക്കാതെ, ആരെയും കാത്തിരിക്കാതെ, എല്ലാവരെയും കരയിച്ച്‌,
പറയാനുള്ളതും ചെയ്യാന്‍ കരുതിയതുമെല്ലാം ബാക്കിവെച്ച്‌ സുനിശ്ചിതമായ ആ
വലിയ സത്യത്തിലേക്ക്‌ നമ്മള്‍ ഉള്‍ചേരുകതന്നെ ചെയ്യും. ഒട്ടം
പരിചിതമല്ലാത്ത മറ്റൊരു ലോകത്തെക്ക്‌ യാത്രയാകും. അതോടെ എല്ലാ രസച്ചരടുകളും
പൊട്ടിച്ചിതറും. ഒന്നിച്ചു കഴിഞ്ഞവര്‍ രണ്ടായി പിരിയും, വാക്കുകളില്‍
കണ്ണീരു കലരും. ഓര്‍മകളൊക്കെയും സങ്കടമാവും. നമ്മെ പുണര്‍ന്നിരിരുന്ന
കൈകള്‍ നമ്മുടെ നേരെ മണ്ണെറിയും; തീര്‍ന്നു!



             ജനിക്കും
മുമ്പ്‌ നമ്മെക്കുറിച്ച ഓര്‍മ കൂടിക്കൂടിവരും. മരണത്തോടെ ആ ഓര്‍മ
കുറഞ്ഞുകുറഞ്ഞുവരും. മരിക്കും വരെ ജീവിക്കുകയും ജീവിക്കുമ്പോഴൊക്കെ
പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുകയുമാണ്‌ നമ്മുടെ നിയോഗം.

ഓര്‍ക്കുക: ഞാന്‍ ചെയ്‌തതിന്റെ
ആകത്തുകയാണ്‌ ഞാന്‍. നിങ്ങളും അങ്ങനെത്തന്നെ.


ബുള്ളഷ് റാവുവിന്റെ അമ്മയോട് നാമെന്ത് പറയും?

ബുള്ളഷ് റാവുവിന്റെ അമ്മയോട് നാമെന്ത് പറയും?


കഴിഞ്ഞ ചൊവ്വാഴ്ച അത്ര
പ്രാധാന്യത്തോടെയല്ലെങ്കിലും മലയാള പത്രങ്ങളില്‍ വന്ന ഒരു
വാര്‍ത്തയിതായിരുന്നു. ആലപ്പുഴ ജില്ലയിലെ പട്ടണക്കാടിന് സമീപം ഉഴുവ തറമൂട്
റെയില്‍വേ ക്രോസിനടുത്ത ശ്രീകൃഷ്ണവിലാസം ഭജനമഠത്തിന്റെ നടപ്പന്തലിലെ
മണിക്കയറില്‍ അര്‍ധരാത്രി ഒരു മുപ്പതുകാരന്‍ പശ്ചിമ ബംഗാളിലെ ജയ്പാല്‍ഗുഡി
ജില്ലയില്‍ നിന്നുള്ള ബുള്ളഷ് റാവു തൂങ്ങി മരിച്ചു. ഇദ്ദേഹം  ഈ സമയത്ത്
എങ്ങനെ ഇവിടെയെത്തി എന്നല്ലേ? വിശദീകരിക്കാം. ചെങ്ങന്നൂരില്‍
നിര്‍മാണത്തൊഴിലില്‍ ഏര്‍പ്പെട്ടിരിക്കുന്ന ബംഗാളി സംഘത്തില്‍ പെട്ടയാളാണ്
ബുള്ളഷ്. നാട്ടില്‍നിന്നെത്തിയ രണ്ട്  തൊഴിലാളി സുഹൃത്തുക്കളോടൊപ്പം
തീവണ്ടിയില്‍ യാത്ര ചെയ്യുകയായിരുന്നു അദ്ദേഹം. ഉഴുവയില്‍ വെച്ച് ആള്‍
തീവണ്ടിയില്‍നിന്ന് പുറത്തേക്ക് തെറിച്ചുവീണ് തലക്ക് മുറിവുപറ്റി.
അര്‍ധരാത്രി, തനിച്ച്, രക്തമൊലിക്കുന്ന ശരീരവുമായി  ആ യുവാവ് അടുത്തുള്ള
വീട്ടില്‍ സഹായത്തിന് കയറി. അവര്‍ സഹായിച്ചില്ലെന്ന് മാത്രമല്ല, ബുള്ളഷിനെ
പറഞ്ഞുവിട്ടു. ഭാഷയറിയാതെ, വഴി തിരിയാതെ ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരന്‍ വീണ്ടും നിരവധി
വീടുകളില്‍ കയറി ദയ യാചിച്ചു നോക്കി. ആരും അര ഗ്ലാസ് പച്ചവെള്ളം പോലും അവന്
നേരെ നീട്ടിയില്ല. അര്‍ധരാത്രി രക്തമൊലിപ്പിച്ചു നടക്കുന്ന ബുള്ളഷിന് നേരെ
ഒരു പട്ടി കുരച്ച് വന്നപ്പോള്‍ അയാള്‍ അടുത്തുള്ള ഭജനമഠത്തില്‍ കയറി.
അവിടെ തൂങ്ങിക്കിടക്കുന്ന മണിക്കയര്‍ അപ്പോഴാണയാള്‍ കാണുന്നത്. ഈ
മനുഷ്യര്‍ക്കും പട്ടികള്‍ക്കുമിടയില്‍ ജീവിച്ചിരിക്കുന്നതില്‍
അര്‍ഥമില്ലെന്ന് കണ്ട് ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരന്‍ ഭക്തിയുടെ കയറില്‍ തന്റെ ജീവന്‍
അവസാനിപ്പിച്ചു. രംഗം നടക്കുമ്പോള്‍ മഠത്തിന് ചുറ്റും കണ്ടുനില്‍ക്കാന്‍
ആളുകളുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ആരും ‘അരുത്, ഞങ്ങളുണ്ടിവിടെ’ എന്നു പറഞ്ഞതേയില്ല.


കായംകുളത്തുനിന്ന്
ഞായറാഴ്ച ഒരു റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ടുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ടിന്‍ഷീറ്റ് ഷെഡില്‍
താമസിക്കുന്ന ബംഗാളി തൊഴിലാളികള്‍ക്കുനേരെ പ്രദേശത്തെ ചില മാന്യന്മാര്‍
മൊബൈല്‍ ഫോണ്‍ മോഷണത്തിന്റെ പേരുപറഞ്ഞ്, നിര്‍മാണ സാമഗ്രികള്‍ ഉപയോഗിച്ച്
മൃഗീയമായ ആക്രമണം അഴിച്ചുവിട്ടു. 15നും 30 വയസ്സിനുമിടയിലുള്ള 36
തൊഴിലാളികള്‍ ഇതെഴുതുമ്പോഴും ദേഹം മുഴുക്കെ മുറിവേറ്റ് വിവിധ
ആശുപത്രികളില്‍ ചികിത്സയിലാണ്. മൊബൈല്‍ ഫോണല്ല, കരാറുകാര്‍ക്കിടയിലെ
കുടിപ്പകയാണ് പാവപ്പെട്ട തൊഴിലാളികള്‍ ആക്രമിക്കപ്പെട്ടതിന്റെ യഥാര്‍ഥ
കാരണം. സ്ഥലത്തെ പ്രധാന മാന്യന്മാരാണ് ആക്രമണത്തിന് പിന്നിലെന്നത്
കൊണ്ടുതന്നെ പൊലീസ് കാര്യമായ നടപടികള്‍ ഒന്നും ഇതുവരെയും എടുത്തിട്ടില്ല.
‘അന്യസംസ്ഥാന
തൊഴിലാളികള്‍’ എന്നത് നമ്മുടെ ഭാഷയില്‍ അടുത്തിടെ വന്നുചേര്‍ന്ന ഒരു
പ്രയോഗമാണ്. നമ്മുടെ ചെറുപ്പക്കാര്‍ നല്ലൊരു ശതമാനം വിദേശത്തുപോവുകയും
ഇവിടെയുള്ളവര്‍ ശാരീരികാധ്വാനമുള്ള തൊഴില്‍ ചെയ്യുന്നത് മടിക്കുകയും
ചെയ്തപ്പോഴാണ് അന്യസംസ്ഥാന തൊഴിലാളികള്‍ നമ്മുടെ തൊഴില്‍ കമ്പോളത്തിലെ വലിയ
സാന്നിധ്യമായത്. നമ്മുടെ നിര്‍മാണമേഖല ഇന്ന് മുന്നോട്ടുപോകുന്നത്
പ്രധാനമായും ഇവരുടെ അധ്വാനശേഷിയുടെ ബലത്തിലാണ്. സാമാന്യം തരക്കേടില്ലാത്ത
കൂലികിട്ടുന്നതുകൊണ്ട് അവരും സന്തോഷത്തോടെ തൊഴില്‍ ചെയ്യുന്നു. അങ്ങനെ,
ഒഡിഷയിലെയും ബംഗാളിലെയും ബിഹാറിലെയും വിദൂര ഗ്രാമങ്ങളിലെ
പട്ടിണിപ്പാവങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് കേരളം എന്നത് അവര്‍ കണ്ടെത്തിയ ‘ഗള്‍ഫ്’ ആയി മാറി.
ഒരു കാര്യമുറപ്പ്, നാളെ അവരെല്ലാം തിരിച്ച് വണ്ടി കയറിയാല്‍ കേരളത്തിന്റെ
ഉല്‍പാദന, നിര്‍മാണമേഖല സ്തംഭിക്കും.
പക്ഷേ, ആ മനുഷ്യരെ
മനുഷ്യരായി കാണാനുള്ള മാന്യത പുരോഗമന കേരളം കാണിക്കുന്നുണ്ടോ? അര്‍ധ
മനുഷ്യരോ താഴ്ന്ന മനുഷ്യരോ ആയല്ലേ നാം പലപ്പോഴും അവരെ പരിഗണിക്കുന്നത്?
ആസ്‌ട്രേലിയയിലെ  ഇന്ത്യന്‍ വിദ്യാര്‍ഥികള്‍ക്കുനേരെയുള്ള വംശീയ
വിവേചനത്തിനെതിരെ സായാഹ്ന ധര്‍ണ നടത്തുമ്പോഴും നമ്മുടെ ഉമ്മറത്തെ
ബംഗാളിയോട് മാന്യമായി പെരുമാറാന്‍ മലയാളിക്ക് കഴിഞ്ഞില്ല. ഗര്‍വിന്റെയും
അഹങ്കാരത്തിന്റെയും വ്യാകരണവും ശരീരഭാഷയുമാണ് നാം അവരോട് കാണിച്ചത്.
ഗള്‍ഫിലും മറ്റും ഇതേപോലെ ‘അന്യരാജ്യ’ തൊഴിലാളികളായി ജീവിക്കുന്ന മലയാളി
ചെറുപ്പക്കാര്‍ അയക്കുന്ന കറന്‍സിയുടെ ബലത്തിലാണ് നമ്മളീ അഹന്തകളൊക്കെയും
കാണിക്കുന്നതെന്ന് നാം മറന്നുപോയി.
അന്യസംസ്ഥാന
തൊഴിലാളികളോടുള്ള അയിത്ത മനോഭാവം മാത്രമല്ല, മറ്റൊരാളുടെയും പ്രശ്‌നത്തില്‍
ഇടപെടാനുള്ള മലയാളിയുടെ സന്നദ്ധതയില്ലായ്മ കൂടിയാണ് ബുള്ളഷിന്റെ മരണം
വെളിവാക്കുന്നത്. വാഹനാപകടത്തില്‍ പെട്ട് നടുറോഡില്‍ രക്തമൊലിപ്പിച്ച്
പിടയുന്നവനെ കൈപിടിച്ചുയര്‍ത്തുന്നതിനുപകരം, ആ രംഗം മൊബൈല്‍ കാമറയില്‍
ഒപ്പിയെടുക്കാന്‍ വെമ്പുന്ന മനസ്സ് മലയാളിയില്‍ വികൃതമായി
വളര്‍ന്നുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ഞാന്‍, എന്റെ കാര്യം എന്ന കുടുസ്സു ചിന്തയില്‍
എന്തേ നമ്മള്‍ മലയാളികള്‍ ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ഏറ്റവും വിദ്യാസമ്പന്നരായ പുരോഗമന
സമൂഹം പെട്ടുപോയി? ഒരിറക്ക് വെള്ളംപോലും കിട്ടാതെ വേദനകൊണ്ട് പുളഞ്ഞ്,
മനോവേദനകൊണ്ട് തകര്‍ന്ന് ജീവിതമവസാനിപ്പിച്ച ബുള്ളഷിന്റെ ആത്മാവ്
നമ്മളെക്കുറിച്ച് ഇപ്പോള്‍ എന്തു വിചാരിക്കുന്നുണ്ടാവും? കുടിലിലെ
പട്ടിണിമാറ്റാന്‍ ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരനെ കണെ്ണത്താ വിദൂരതയിലേക്ക് പറഞ്ഞുവിട്ട
ബുള്ളഷിന്റെ അമ്മ നാളെ ഇങ്ങോട്ടുവന്ന് എന്റെ മകനോട് നിങ്ങളെന്തേ ഇങ്ങനെ
ചെയ്തുവെന്ന് ചോദിച്ചാല്‍, സത്യം, നമ്മളെന്താണ് മറുപടി പറയുക?
വിദൂരദേശങ്ങളില്‍ തീര്‍ത്തും അന്യമായ സാഹചര്യങ്ങളില്‍ നമുക്ക്
കഞ്ഞിയെത്തിക്കാന്‍ വേണ്ടി ചോരനീരാക്കി പണിയെടുക്കുന്ന നമ്മുടെ
മക്കളോട്/അനുജന്മാരോട് അന്നാട്ടുകാര്‍ ഈ വിധം പെരുമാറിയാല്‍ അവര്‍ക്കുനേരെ
വിരല്‍ചൂണ്ടാന്‍  നമുക്കെങ്ങനെ കഴിയും?
ബുള്ളഷിന്റെ മരണം ഒരു
ചൂണ്ടാണി മാത്രമാണ്. നാം, മലയാളികള്‍ എവിടെ എത്തിനില്‍ക്കുന്നുവെന്നതിന്റെ
ഓര്‍മപ്പെടുത്തല്‍. ഈ അപരാധത്തിന് നാം കൂട്ടമായി മാപ്പുചോദിക്കുക.
മുഖ്യമന്ത്രിതന്നെ മുഴുവന്‍ മലയാളികള്‍ക്കും വേണ്ടി ആ ചെറുപ്പക്കാരന്റെ
കുടുംബത്തോട് ഖേദപ്രകടനം നടത്തുക. എങ്കില്‍ അതൊരു അനുഭവമായിരിക്കും.
ജനങ്ങള്‍ക്കിടയില്‍ പുതിയൊരു അവബോധം സൃഷ്ടിക്കാന്‍ അതുപകരിക്കും.
പൊങ്ങച്ചബോധം കുടഞ്ഞു തെറിപ്പിക്കാന്‍, സ്വന്തത്തെയും കടന്ന്  അപരനിലേക്ക്
നീളാനുള്ള ചിന്ത അവനില്‍ കരുപ്പിടിപ്പിക്കാന്‍ അതുപകരിച്ചേക്കും.
ബുള്ളഷ്, നീ ഞങ്ങളോട് പൊറുക്കുക.