ITT 2002 Cover Page
ISSN 0971-7102
Vol 21 No 3 & 4 September & December 2002





Optical fibre carries 313 signals

An optical communications system that can send optical signals of 313 different wavelengths through a single fibre optic line has been developed by NTT. The system is capable of transmitting 3.13 terabits of data per second, so the equivalent of 75 films of two-hour duration can be sent in one second. The system may reduce the cost of building a large capacity communications network to one-tenth of the current cost. Within one to two years, NTT plans to introduce the new system into its main fibre-optic network linking large cities.

The system was developed using optical wavelength division multiplexing technology, a method of sending signals of various wavelengths by overlapping them. NTT has developed the technology to multiply three to five wavelengths of light signals emitted by a single semiconductor laser to more then 300 wavelengths using the phenomenon in which light signals with various wavelengths are generated in a chain reaction when the original light passes through a very narrow space. The company has produced signal with a wide range of wavelengths by sending light through a very find fibre-optic cable. NTT has succeeded in sending signals of 313 different wavelengths to a point 160 km away at 10 gigabits per second per wavelength. This is the first time that such varied signals have been sent at the same time.

This system will help the company easily provide additional fibre-optic communication services when the demand for broadband increases. Rival companies have succeeded in transmitting many different signals at the same time by using some 300 laser emitting semiconductors based on the WDM method. But controlling so many devices is cumbersome, and they consume a large amount of power in addition to requiring high initial costs. Two NTT research units contributed to the project _ NTT Photonics developed the equipment, and Network Innovation Laboratories constructed the system.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (May): 22

Keywords for direct access to Web sites

Keywords are a product of a US company called Real Names. These are designed to work alongside domain names, making it easier for Internet users to get directly to the Website they are looking for without having to know the full uniform resource locator (URL) address or going through a search engine. Users can simply type in keyword, such as the name of a company, product or Website, into the browser address bar and they will be taken directly to the official linked Website. Keywords are easy to use and there is nothing to download or install. You can register and activate keywords to resolve your Website in 25 countries around the world.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; (Jan-June): 1

Web publishing technology: new avenues

Publishing and sharing content files with colleagues and friends is a necessity in today's environment and one of the reasons for the success of the Web. NetSpeak gives the details of a research that aims to develop a simple and easily deployable Web hosting technology for ordinary netizens. Contact:

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; (Jan-June): 1

Chandigarh Libraries Consortium

Chandigarh Libraries Consortium (CLC), a forum representing important institutional and college libraries of Chandigarh, including Mohali and Panchkula, was launched recently with its headquarter at Central State Library, Chandigarh. The libraries that have enrolled as members of the forum are Punjab University Library, Central State Library, Central Scientific Instruments Organization (CSIO) Library, Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH)Library, National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER)Library, Technical Teachers Training Institute (TTTI) Library, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration Library and British Library.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(1-2): 2

Online journals

An international group of Oxford students, including Rhodes and Chevening scholars, have founded the Journal Server Trust- a no-profit organization to enable electronic publishing of leading academic journals from emerging economies. This organization supports selected peer reviewed journals, most of which are not readily available outside their respective countries. Over 20 leading journals are expected to go online before the end of 2002. Participating journals shall undertake to make all their contents available online, free of cost, as well as improve and modernize not-for-profit publishing standards. Articles are made available in two formats: abstract and citation as searchable text, and full-length articles in pdf format. A network of leading universities spanning all continents will host the journals, coordinated by `virtual branches' of the Trust. The Bodleian Library has also offered its support. The Birla Institute of Technology and Science, India is one of the institutions supporting the project.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(1-2): 3

MRAM chip may alleviate hard disk

PCs without the floppy disc drive were forerunners but the same may not be said for those without the hard disc drive. After the processor, HDD is the most crucial component of a PC. New materials for disc and technologies like perpendicular recording have recently been developed to miniaturize it. But a recent development from a group at Osaka University could facilitate the operation of computers without HDD. This development is a step towards the replacement of the latter with a chip. The theoretical capacity of a magnetic random access memory chip has been limited to around 1 gigabit. A new ring-shaped MRAM memory cell has been designed, where the magnetic material of the chip can store 100 gigabits of data.

In an MRAM, data is stored by using an electric current to switch the magnetic direction of the material that serves as the memory cells for each bit. The bits are magnetically locked in place, so the data is not lost when the power is turned off the chip. An MRAM is thus a so-called nonvolatile type of memory. There are other types of nonvolatile memory chips, but an MRAM can read and write data as fast as a dynamic random access memory. And unlike a DRAM, an MRAM does not require a constant flow of current to retain its data, so it consumes much less power. This means notebook PCs could run far longer on their batteries. Moreover, because an MRAM does not lose its data like DRAM, it enables a PC to boot up as soon as the power to the machine is turned on. This combination of features makes the MRAM a prime contender to replace the DRAM. This combination of features makes the MRAM a prime contender to replace the DRAM as the workhorse of the PC and other applications.

But the new memory structure developed at Osaka University makes MRAMs even more attractive by boosting their ability to store data. In conventional MRAM, the memory cells have a rectangular shape and the "0" and "1" bits are differentiated by whether the magnetic direction points to the left or to the right. Because magnetism can leak from this structure, the individual memory cells must be shaped more than 0.3 micron apart, limiting the extent to which the device can be miniaturized. In the new design, the data bits are stored in small rings of magnetic material measuring 0.5 micron in diameter. The "0" and "1" are differentiated by whether the magnetic direction turns to the right or turns to the left. Because the material is shaped like a ring, magnetism does not leak and neighboring memory cells do not affect one another. This enables high integration, with memory cells spaced as close as 0.1 micron apart, or the width of a circuit wire. The Osaka group has confirmed the basic operations of this device and now plans to cooperate with semiconductor makers to manufacture actual MRAM chips.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (June): 7-9

Bioinformatics in university curriculum

The latest craze of Japanese universities is bioinformatics, a fusion of information technology and biotechnology. Bioinformatics is a nascent field of study requiring enormous computer power that is devoted to exploring biological phenomena and developing new medicines. Many universities have set up bioinformatics departments and the scientific community has developed a model curriculum in order to nurture human resources _ an area in which Japan lags the US and Europe.

Osaka University established its Graduate School of Frontier Biosciences this year to integrate studies that previously belonged to different departments, such as the schools of information science and technology with biochemical engineering. Nara Institute of Science and Technology launched a new department for information life sciences where students learn data analysis and molecular biology. Keio University has opened a department of bioscience and informatics, enrolling about 40 students. The university already offers related classes at its Advanced Biosciences, a genetic engineering training center in Tsuruoka, Yamagta Prefecture. Keio is considering allowing students who take classes at any of those faculties to transfer credits to the departments to which they belong. Another example is an intensive course for 30-40 students to be offered this summer by the School of Science, University of Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Society for Bioinformatics has developed a model curriculum for schools, giving examples of what students should learn each year. The model facilitates universities to select what they need from a systematized curriculum. The National Institute of Genetics has a database of about 18.55 billion sequenced bases of genomes and proteins. The database provides information for the development of new medicines, as well as data on disease prevention and effective medical treatment. One's ability to access the meaningful data will hold the key to success.

The universities are also aiming to complement the requirement of companies for trained experts. Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical company said it requires experts to help the company use genome analysis to develop drugs tailored to the makeup of individual patients and prevent unwanted side effects. Leading computer manufacturer Fujitsu Limited also said it needs specially trained personnel for the development of biotechnology-related software. Japan is badly lacking in bioinformatics specialists. Among some 1500 experts worldwide, about 1,000 are from the US and fewer than 50 from Japan. A professor at the University of Tokyo has warned that Japan may fall further behind unless it acts soon.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (June): 2-3

Information network for scientific research

The National Institute of Information (NII) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan has recently started operating the world's fastest information network called Super SINET, which uses optical communication technology. The Super SINET is intended for research, concentrating supercomputers through national research institutions and universities by means of a large capacity optical network for analyzing scientific data in common. It can deal with high-speed data communications up to 1GB/sec and is the fastest information network of the world. It would also be linked to other networks and would eventually integrate most of the important Japanese institutions and some of the global information highways.

There are 11 organizations participating in the network including the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University of National Astronomical Observatory, the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) and the National Institute of Genetics. Other organizations including the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI) are expected to join later. Various methods of utilizing Super SINET are being considered, such as conducting real-time analysis of data collected by radio-telescopes, enabling continuous transmission to universities. This network will facilitate various complicated calculations _ such as the analysis of protein structure, as it will allow several research institutions to split the work.

It may be noted that on March 15 Japan established the fastest supercomputer in the world - Earth Simulator Research and Development Centre. Nicknamed as Earth Simulator, it is a distributed memory parallel system featuring 5120 processors, main memory capacity of 40 tera flops and 10 tera byte. It occupies an area of 65m x 50m and has been established jointly by space, ocean and atomic energy institutions of Japan. The Earth Simulator is slated for the study of global environmental change such as global warming, EI Nino phenomenon and to understand the mechanisms of tectonic events and earthquakes. The overall purpose of SINET and Earth Simulator are to exponentially promote the expansion of computational science and engineering in Japan.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (June): 3-4

IT industry targets $77 bn by 2008

If the sell-out crowd of IT honchos at the third Nasscom IT and ITES Strategy Summit was looking for good news there was plant of it. Notwithstanding the depressed economic conditions and marked slowdown in the industry growth rate its long term potential is robust, is the message the much awaited Nasscom-McKinsey Report 2002 on "Strategies to achieve the Indian IT industry's aspirations", conveys.

So much so, the Indian IT & ITES industry would account for 7% of the country's GDP resulting in 30% of India's foreign exchange inflows employing four million people by 2008 to achieve a target aspiration of $77 billion in revenues by the year is what the report assures.

All that is required to achieve this is a compounded annual growth rate of 34%, which is definitely doable considering the past record, the experts reassure.

While IT services exports will account for $ 28-30 billion, the ITES segment will account for $21-24 billion, the products and technology services industry will contribute around $8-10 billion to overall revenues. The domestic software market will generate revenues of $13-15 billion.

Highlighting the growth opportunities for IT service companies, the study emphasizes on the need to tap new service lines, focus on less explored geographies, target high potential verticals and tapping product- centric opportunities.

As the offshoring models become more mainstream, Indian IT companies are expected to penetrate new service lines such as packaged software support and installation, IT consulting network infrastructure management, systems integration, IS outsourcing, IT education and training, hardware support and installation and network consulting.

While established markets such as the US and UK have been tapped to a marginal extent, large non-English speaking markets in Japan and Western Europe remain under-penetrated by Indian IT companies.

These two markets alone offer an export potential of over $5-6 billion. In English speaking geographies like Canada, Netherlands, Sweden and Australia, the markets represent an opportunity of $1.2 billion by 2008. Germany has the potential to emerge as high-growth geography for Indian companies in the next 2-3 years followed by France, Italy and Japan.

New verticals like retail, telecom service providers and healthcare are likely to offer the next wave of opportunities for the industry and Indian companies need to aggressively target under-penetrated verticals for the next wave of growth. On the software products side, India has only been able to capture a meager 0.2% of the $ 180 billion market.

A broader spectrum of opportunities is available in embedded software, development and delivery of specialized components, tapping offshore product development opportunities and development of shrink wrapped products.

- Reproduced from The Economic Times 2002; (11 June)

IBM rewrites data storage tech

Researchers at International Business Machine Corporation (IBM) have punched holes about 6,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair in a piece of plastic creating a novel form of data storage. After six years of work, Zurich-based researchers say they can fit one terabit of data—effectively the contents of 100-gigabyte computer hard drive—on a postage stamp-size piece of plastic.

The data takes the form of up to a trillion holes drilled by a precise and extremely hot nano-needle, researchers said. In the world of data storage, dominated by disk drives which hold bits and bytes electromagnetically and flash memory cards for palm pilots and digital cameras that use electrical charges, holding information in hole-punches seems old hat.

But the company that preceded IBM set the world on fire 110 years ago by making computer punch cards. "One of our slogans is back to the future of mechanics," said Peter Vettiger, leader of the project, called Millipede, in a telephone interview from Zurich.

His holes are 10 nanometres, or billionths of a metre and about three billion of them fit in a punch card hole.

He said consumers might be able to buy in 2005 a mechanical memory chip based on the research that would hold five to 10 gigabytes of data _ Reuters.

- Reproduced from The Economic Times 2002; (12 June).

Fine particles give boost to data storage

By storing information on fine particles, Toshiba has developed a technology to make high-density data storage media. The technology theoretically enables the storage of 1 terabit of data/in2 of the medium. The capacity is 25 times higher than available in the existing hard disks.

This company may market this storage media in two years or more, for eventual use in personal computers and cellular phones. The technology is called patterned media and does not follow the existing methods of storage, where each information unit is stored on more than 10 particles.

A 2.5 inch disk covered with magnetic material was prepared to develop this media. The disk was treated with chemicals and particles with diameter of 40 mm, with a gap of 80mm between them were thus formed. To form the particles on specific areas, a spiral groove was finely cut into the disk. The groove was filled with resin made of two different types of polymer, which prevented the chemicals from affecting the disk surface. Upon heating, fine particles of resin got formed. The disk was then treated with chemicals creating magnetic particles under the resin. To achieve a data density of 1 terabit/in2, the diameter of these particles must be reduced to one-third and the researchers are working to realize it by using existing semiconductor manufacturing technology. Toshiba plans to produce high-performance magnetic heads based on the new technique. The data density of hard disks and other magnetic media has been doubling annually, but the current method is expected to reach its limits in the near future.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (July): 11-12

Microchip for fast encryption

A microchip to quickly process the encryption codes, mainly for use in online trading has been developed by Toshiba. For the creation and certification of digital signatures, the new chip will take one tenth of the time taken by available versions. The 5.2 mm x 8.1 mm chip can perform high-speed processing of codes based on the Rivest-Shamir-Adleman (RSA) protocol. The existing computers can process 300 signatures per second and perhaps more in future. The new microchip reduces the time required to complete the necessary calculations by dividing large integers into a series of numbers that are processed simultaneously. To make parallel calculations possible, a method was devised to sidestep carrying-over of the numbers. Large integers are usually converted into the binary system for such calculations.

The importance of cryptographic technology is growing along with the spread of e-commerce. Certifying digital signatures is a vital part of online trading of securities, good and services and essential for online filing of applications with government agencies. This encryption is necessary to prevent unauthorized or criminal use of such services as well as being a key element in privacy protection. In the RSA protocol, encryption of a digital signature requires calculations involving integers of at least 300 digits up to 2,000 times in sequence. This huge volume of calculations puts a heavy burden on servers handling such processes as tax returns or ticket sales. The company aims to bring the speedy chip to market within a year.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Japan 2002; (August): 17-18

Concise encyclopedia

Encyclopaedia Britannica has shrunk the world, with its latest product of uncharacteristic brevity that packs basic information into a handy volume of 2,000 pages. The Concise Encyclopedia's 28,000 entries provide overviews, key dates, statistics and other information on subjects from art to zoology; contains a full complement of maps, flags, charts and more than 2,000 illustrations.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002, 13(3), 1

Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

The Governing Board of the SAARC Documentation Centre, in its seventh meeting held at the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC), New Delhi on 18-19 March 2002, considered the proposal of creating a SAARC Traditional Knowledge Digital Library. Also, it was decided to create a task force for detailing out aspects related to traditional medicines in respective member states and work out a Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification for the respective states.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002, 13(3), 1


Hyderabad University to digitalize library

The University of Hyderabad has entered into an agreement with Sun Microsystems, India for the digitalization of the University library over a period of two years. This will be the first university in the country to computerize its library operations with UGC support. The Sun and the University have agreed to build a network of digital libraries with other institutes in India, leading to the development of digital library info hub in India.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(3): 1

Business-card sized CD-Rs

This is a new type of mini CD-R, which has been developed out of the original 8cm mini discs. These discs are basically the shape and size of a regular business card. However, what's different about them is that, one of its sides can be used to store data. This storage space of around 185MB can be used to store pictures, resume, presentations, company's profile or any thing.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(3): 3

The magic marker of memory

Magic Marker or a sort of fat key has the power of a CD-ROM crammed with flash memory chips. On the outside, the modules have a plastic case equipped on one end with a simple, standard PC connector _ a USB connector that plugs right into the USB sockets found on every Windows PC and Macintosh made in recent years desktop or laptop. Just plug the key-chain memory module into any PC or Mac and in many cases, the computer immediately recognizes it as a disk drive. Copy whatever files you like onto the module, unplug it and put it in your pocket. You can even transfer files between Windows PCs and Macs.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(3): 3

Ballpen e-mails using Bluetooth

Anoto, an oversize ball pen, has been developed to connect people using Bluetooth technology. This digital pen automatically synchronizes everything it writes on a special patterned paper and sends it as an e-mail, fax or short message. It is equipped with Bluetooth, a low-frequency data-transmission technology enabling electronic devices to intercommunicate. A miniscule digital camera inside the pen registers 100 frames of images per second. A digital memory stores several pages of writing. The pen has a rechargeable battery and an ink cartridge.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13(3): 3

 Science journals censored against terror

Can scientific journals become cookbooks for terrorists by providing easy recipes for assembling germs that could be unleashed easily on people? In the post-September 11 world, this possibility is being seen as real with international journals being urged to censor information that could possibly be used by terrorists.

The publication of a report dealing with the synthesis of a human polio virus in the journal Science has already sparked off a major controversy. A resolution subsequently introduced in the US House of Representatives, while calling the work a "blueprint that could conceivably enable terrorists to inexpensively create human pathogen," has also asked editors to "exercise restraint" in publishing such material.

The resolution would have implications for scientists all over the world as journals publish scientific work from every country. For scientists, such censorship would imply changing the fundamental way in which science is practised.

"We mustn't censor science with the idea that it must be used for good work. Scientific and ethically sound material should be publicized," says a former editor of National Medical Journal of India, Dr Samirun Nundy, while opposing the idea of censorship. "When scientists work, they do not think whether atomic fusion or fission will make a bomb or get utilized for peaceful use. The primary job of scientists is to answer questions", he adds.

However, scientists writing in the authoritative medical journal, Lancet, do agree that an uncensored dissemination of scientific information may provide useful tips to a terrorist. "Advances in microbiology can eventually facilitate cures for diseases, but a dedicated terrorist can figure out how to use that same information for harm," Lancet says. Hence, under the new guidelines, reviewers are asked to alert the editors if they believe that the manuscripts they are reviewing contain potentially problematic information.

The editor of the National Medical Journal, Dr Srinath Reddy, disagrees. "In this day and age, you cannot seal off information. Scientists would talk about it either at a conference or at least write a paper on it.What happens if such a paper leaks out?" he asks. Access to information through legitimate agencies would be the best way out as it also helps the scientific community think of counter-measures, says Reddy.

Kalpana Jain
Reproduced from The Times of India 2002; 12 September

BMBF-Study on the future of scientific information. BMBF Press Release 16 September 2002

In Germany the requirement for digitally available information on science and technology is strong, the Federal Minister for Education and Research, Edelgard Bulmahn, wants to assure user-friendly accessing. In connection with the introduction of BMBF policy document "Networking of information-activation of knowledge" she announced on Monday in Berlin the networking of the state's information institutions and the construction of an interdisciplinary German net entrance. "The potential of information _ and communication technology has to be open for all", Bulmahn explained.

According to a current study of the management consultant Arthur D. Little and the Society for Innovative Research and Consultation mbH (done at the request of BMBF), around half a million scientists as well as 1.8 million students in Germany gather scientific information for their daily work from online offers. Also for investors, knowledge from these sources of information is becoming more relevant. The effective use of information will be hindered indeed through the historically determined fragmentation of information system in Germany. Further problems like insufficient information competence by the users, lack of rights for accessing in the case of digital publications and difficulties of distribution are identified.

The report pointed to the trend of the worldwide monopolization of information through few publishers. This can endanger the public interest of an unhindered access to science publications. In this connection Bulmahn characterized it as strategic aim of the federal govt. to guarantee the access to worldwide information on fair conditions. "The free supply of information is a central component of our education and research and optimized further" Bulmahn announced her interest, to promote future-oriented virtual information systems, which are competitive in the global market.

The results of the studies and the policy document of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research are in Internet < or>

- Reproduced from Science and Technology in Germany 2002; (Sept-Oct): 12

The mark of digital security

Each of us has a distinctive handwriting. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Publication and Information Systems (IPSI) in Darmstadt has developed a process for testing the authenticity of handwritten signatures by analyzing the vibration of the writing utensil and comparing the information with control data. Graphological recognition for access control and data protection is already feasible for touch-sensitive devices such as PDAs, touch screens and low-cost graphic tablets.

As part of the H204M project at the IPSI, researchers are investigating the possibilities of using graphological recognition to protect hardware-independent software. Biometric features integrated in the media content are used to identify the document owner or licensed user and for document control in quality management systems. The biometric data can be stored on a central computer or on PDAs.

The method is simple, cost-effective and secure. Not only signatures, but any word or sentence can be input by hand. If the security of the reference database is compromised, the handwriting will not be recognized.

- Reproduced from Science & Technology in Germany 2002: (Sept-October): 8

Electronic touch

Japanese firm NTT is developing a device that will let people exchange electronic data by handshake. The gadget would be carried in users' pockets attached to a handheld computer. It would work by harnessing the conductivity of human skin to transmit weak electrical signals without wires.

This could mean it is possible to exchange small amounts of information such as emails or phone numbers just by touch. The company spokesman Yo Takahashi confirmed that the technology is in the development stage. But he declined to give an indication of the strength of signal possible, when the technology might be commercially available or likely cost.

The technology could also be used to allow people to communicate with machines that require identification; for example tapping a door to get it to unlock or touching and desk to start a personal computer.

- Reproduced from The Times of India 2002; (13 October).

Switch to switchable 3D screens

Sharp has developed a new kind of liquid crystal display that allows 3D viewing without the need for special glasses. The technology works by controlling the path of light so that slightly different images reach the left and right eyes. Each eye sees only the image intended for it and the brain combines the images and perceives them as a 3D representation. The technology is also electrically switchable, so users will be able to use the screen for different functions.

- Reproduced from The Times of India 2002; (13 October)

A talking book for the blind

It will be a talking book that even looks like a book, although most of its users will never see it. Instead of a cassette tape, it will have no moving parts but will read a volume digitally from a card smaller than a credit card. The dull silvery cover folds on a hinge to the size of a normal book from library shelf.

When open, it looks like a book with just two thick pages, divided by a hinge. A series of differently shaped buttons along the edges will enable the blind reader to turn pages forward and backward, skip quickly, insert bookmarks, search for a remembered passage.

The wooden model will be reproduced in plastic. The principles of the hardware are known, but it will take three to four years to adapt them so that the new digital readers are no more expensive than the tape readers in today's talking books.

The section of the Library of Congress that circulates talking books for the blind exhibited on Monday the winning model among 146 entries from 28 design schools. It came from Lachezar Tsvetanov, a 23-year-old student of industrial design from Sofia, Bulgaria, studying at the University of Bridgeport, Conn. He won a $5000 first prize. "We wanted something that would look good in a living room or a dining room," said Frank Kurt Cylike, director of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

The library serves almost 730,000 readers of books and magazines with cassette tapes that are read to them by about 500,000 bulky plastic players. They look like oversized telephone answering machines. The catalogue holds more than 350,000 books and magazines in 22 million copies. This system will become obsolete as machines and tapes wear out and parts become hard to find.

An improved sound system in the new digital readers will benefit older users who cannot read Braille, the system of raised dots that enables the blind to read by touch. Over three years, the library will convert about 30,000 titles, mostly standard works and best sellers, to the new technology at a cost of about $75 million. The software already exists and is being used to start the adaptations.

After electronic details of the new system are worked out, bids will be sought for the manufacturer of 50,000 players.The goal is to put the first of them into the hands of users by 2008 and to add 50,000 a year over the following 10 years until the cassette players are replaced.

The dooks, as the library calls them, will not be on sale but will be distributed free to those who need them, as the current tape players are.

Meanwhile, scientists are exploring two promising new ways to save premature babies from blindness: strictly maintaining the babies' oxygen levels at a constant but slightly lower level than usual _ which apparently slashed blindness at one major hospital _ and giving the smallest babies an eye-important growth hormone they lack.

- Reproduced from The Times of India 2002; (23 October)

Information highway to link varsities

If access to information is the mantra for quality education, then the University Grants Commission is going all the way to provide it. The Commission is creating an information highway linking universities across the country with each other and providing them with Internet access.

With the network in place, colleges and universities located in any part of the country will have free access to information on the Internet, as well as expensive research journals placed on special digital sites. UGC chairman Arun Nigvekar said the Rs.40 crore project would provide an academic infrastructure to those who do not have the resource to create their own.

The UGC has already written to various universities informing them of the project. The connections would be functional in a couple of months. A tripartite agreement would be signed between the university, the UGC and Education and Research Network (Ernet) of the Department of Information Technology.

The project is being implemented in two phases. While the first entails the creation of the information highway, the Commission will provide VSNL connectivity to 4,900 affiliated colleges. The colleges will have 3,000 clock hours per year.

The backbone of the information highway would connect 13 cities; Delhi, Kanpur, Allahabad, Jaipur, Mumbai, Indore, Pune, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Calcutta and Guwahati. Universities in far-flung areas can gain access through the backbone. A mixed basket of technology is being used for different universities including dial-up, satellite, V-Sat and terrestrial, depending on their location.

The project may turn out to be a boon for researchers too. "We are creating 16 digital mirror sites which would be a repository of research material," Nigvekar said.

Each university spends an average of Rs. 60 to 70 lakhs on research journals. With increasing cost of journals this spending is gradually increasing. UGC wants to get around the problem by negotiating with foreign journals for "bulk electronic subscription with multiple user license".

Supercomputer from Japan tops fast list

A Japanese supercomputer that studies the climate and other aspects of the earth maintained its ranking as the world's fastest computer, according to a study released on Friday.

The Earth Simulator in Yokohama, Japan, performs 35.86 trillion calculations per second _ more than 4 times greater than the next-fastest machine.

Earth Simulator, which was installed earlier this year [2002], first appeared on the list in June. It was the first time a supercomputer outside the United States topped the list.

Two new machines, called ASCIQ, debuted in the No 2 and No3 spots. The computers, which each can run 7.73 trillion calculations per second, were built by Hewlett-Packard Co. for Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

For the first time, high-performance machines built by clustering personal computers appeared in the top 10. A system built by Linux NetworkX and Quadrics for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ranked No. 5. A system built by High Performance Technologies Inc for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Forecast Systems Laboratory was No. 8.

Hewlett-Packard Co led with 137 systems on the list, followed by International Business Machines Corp with 131 systems. Sun Microsystems Inc (ranked no. 3) built 88 of the top 500 systems.

The top 500 list, which has been released twice annually since 1993, is compiled by researchers at University of Mannheim, Germany; the Department of Energy's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Berkeley and the University of Tennessee.

- Reproduced from The Times of India 2002:

Breast cancer information network

Mammary carcinoma is a direct and brutal affront to the feminine identity _ especially when the diagnosis is made in the later stages of development, which can require a mastectomy. "We estimate that one in ten women in Germany will be confronted with this disease," says Dr Dieter Alt, who directs a nationwide education campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer. "This is a disturbing trend. With approximately 20,000 cases each year, breast cancer is the most prevalent cause of death in women over forty." The campaign, supported financially by the Frunhofer-Gasellschaft, also stresses the critical importance of screening and early diagnosis. The sooner breast cancer is detected, the higher the chances of recovery.

Several physicians and clinics are often involved in the follow-up treatment. Shared access to electronic records documenting the patient's medical history and treatment plan would optimize the therapy. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT has developed means to accomplish this. There are plans to implement the system, known as Patient Accompanying Documentation or PaDok® by the end of this year as part of the mammary carcinoma project initiated by North Rhine-Westphalian branch of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (NASHIP). Patients data will not be transferred over the public Internet. Instead, a secure private intranet will be set up with controlled access available only to the attending physicians. PaDoK will run as a communications interface in the background, allowing physicians to continue to use their normal practice software. "A gynaecologist in City A can send the relevant breast cancer patient data to surgeon in City B in seconds," explain Dr Violkers Paul, Project Manager at the IBMT Health Telematics Group. Stringent data protection requirements are met by using multiple encryption during transmission. Furthermore, as Dr Paul emphasizes: "The master key is held by the patient herself, giving her final decision on who is allowed to read the data". This upholds the patients legal right to select the physician of her choice.

Use of PaDok system will not be restricted to breast cancer treatment in one region only. "NASHIP is advocating nationwide deployment of systems such as PaDok", says NASHIP's telematics representative, Reinhold Mainz.

- Reproduced from Science and Technology in Germany 2002; (Nov.-Dec. ): 7

CD-ROM on Sanskrit teaching

The Academy of Sanskrit Research, Melkote (Mandya district) has come out with a CD-ROM Samskrta Vinodah (fun with Sanskrit), an interactive multimedia Sanskrit teaching package. "This CD follows an informal method of teaching that makes getting acquainted with Sanskrit, which has a rich vocabulary, easier," says Prof M A Lakshmithathachar, Director, Academy of Sanskrit Research.

The lessons are in the form of games, accompanied by attractive artistic images and good music. There are help menus and "tell me more sessions" to make learning less tedious and less monotonous. The Academy of Sanskrit Research also has plans to come out with Janani, a Sanskrit thesaurus. This software is based on Amarakosha. Also on the anvil, is Kriya, a lexicon containing the 100 most often used roots. The Academy is also working out a Sanskrit teaching package for schools, called Adhyapika.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4): 2

BARC makes India's fastest supercomp

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) has developed a new supercomputer for much faster solution to computation problems in a range of fields including scientific research and simulation of nuclear explosions. The computer division of BARC has developed the Anupam-PIV 64-node supercomputer with a sustained speed of 43 giga flops (floating point instructions per second). It has a speed three times more than that of its last year's version and 1000 times faster than BARC's first 4-node version of 1991. The Anupam-PIV is 30 to 40 times faster than the parallel computer developed indigenously by other institutes in the country and more than 10 times faster than the fastest supercomputers imported from abroad for various computing applications, Head of Computer Division, H K Kaura said.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4):2

Datanet's E-smart prepaid card

Bangalore-based Datanet Systems is launching a e-smart card, a prepaid rechargeable multi-application smart card, which will enable users to book tickets and make bill payments using wireless devices, cell phones and even personal computers (PCs). The company is planning to launch 1 lakh e-smart cards in Bangalore, after which it will proceed to other cities including Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai. The card has a microchip with a capacity of 4 kb to store personal and transaction data. The company is launching cards of two denominations, including Rs.200 and Rs.500. No upper limit has been set for `charging' the prepaid card.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4):2

Information centres with Internet facility

The Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University has established three information centres with Internet facility to help agriculturists, particularly dairy farmers, each in Kuzhumani in Tiruchi, Sitheri in Vellore, and Puduthamaraipatti in Madurai with financial assistance from the International Development Research Centre, Canada.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4): 3

Tonic D

WorldSpace along with Sada Sharads Medical Research and Communication (SSMRC) has unveiled 'Tonic D', the on-air information channel for doctors. Tonic D is a medical information channel targetted at the medical fraternity and would broadcast live discussions and lectures from medical experts on emerging medical trends.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4): 3

Hardware and software for the visually challenged

Webel Mediatronics Ltd. Kolkata and IIT Kharagpur have jointly developed a hardware and software, specially for the visually challenged, under a government-funded scheme called the Jai Vigyan National Mission Project. Microsoft has riposted with India's first specialized cyber café for the visually impaired in association with the National Association for the Blind. The cyber café, located at the NAB premises in Worli, Mumbai, empowers the visually impaired to surf the Internet using Jawa software, which enables both input and output commands through voice. The department of information technology under the ministry of communications has identified 30 blind schools in various parts of the country where it plans to offer its specialized hardware and software.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4):3


The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Online Computer Library Centre (OCLC) Early Career Development have jointly sponsored fellowships. Where, library and information science professionals from developing countries can benefit from early career development and continuing education. The fellowship annually selects five individuals to participate in an intensive program of lectures, seminars and mentoring which focuses on information technologies and their impact on libraries, library operations and management and global cooperative librarianship at the OCLC headquarters in Dublin, Ohio, USA.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4): 3

Text to Speech Software

Vaachak, a text to speech software (TTS) launched by Microsoft India has the capability to read electronic text in any Indian language. Currently implemented for Hindi, Vaachak is one of the first high quality text to speech synthesizers that has the capability to recognize Unicode Hindi text and render it into clear speech. Currently, the TTS is being enabled to support any Devanagri-based Indian language and efforts are on to extend it to other Indian languages like Tamil and Telugu. Microsoft is also working on developing a multilingual portal that can speak in different Indian languages.

- Reproduced from Tech News 2002; 13 (4):3

J-EAST (JST English articles of science and technology)

JST has long produced a comprehensive bibliographic database with English citation and index (called JICST-E), available at, covering the literature published in Japan on all fields of science, technology and medicine and provided it for the overseas users through JOIS as well as STN-International.

Since December 2000, JST has used the JICST-E data without an index such as keywords. Science and technology classification code has been used to make the database and got it available on the Web as J-EAST for the public free of charge. Sources include about 3000 journals and serials, conference proceedings, technical reports, etc. J-EAST is updated monthly. All bibliographic information and abstracts in this database are searchable.

J-EAST offers information on all fields of science and technology i.e. Agriculture, Architecture, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Construction, Computers, Earth Science, Electronics, Energy, Engineering, Environmental Science, Pharmacology, Physics, and System Control Engineering

- Reproduced from S & T Today 2002; 134(4):11

Informatics India Limited

Delhi office of the organization has been shifted to N-202, 1st Floor, Greater Kailash Part I, New Delhi-110048. Phone: 26467683, E-mail:

- Reported by S Grover,

Information Today & Tomorrow, Vol. 21, No. 3 & 4, September & December 2002, p.20-p.29