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The Top 500 list and India's HPC stable

India has consistently had an odd entry or two in the Top 500 supercomputers lists over the last decade or so. In the recently released list for June 2012, this number has increased to five entries and comprises the following:

Aadhaar and the uniqueness of fingerprints

About a month ago, there was a report on potential issues with iris scans. This week's Frontline contends that fingerprints are not infallible either and the related ramifications for the UID/Aadhar project. It also mentions that Nilekani has publicly stated that iris scans are "not a mature technology" and has questioned its accuracy.

India's RC aircraft & aeromodelling scene

India appears to have a burgeoning radio-controlled aircraft scene with plenty of hobbyists as well as vendors across the country. The following is a video of a 2010 event held around a 100 km out of Madras by the RCPA (Radio Control Pilots Association) in an area dedicated to this pursuit. As you can see, the field sports a full-fledged runway and associated amenities.

BSNL mobile number auction

BSNL - may it live long and prosper (even though its "corporate" site has been down for at least three hours today) - is holding a public auction of what it has dubbed "vanity"/"premium"/"fancy" mobile numbers. It has placed numbers with formats such as 8300000000, 8300001234, 8300010001, 8300081000 etc. under the gavel with starting prices ranging from Rs. 50000 down to Rs. 2000.

Fancy calling Sachin Tendulkar or Mukesh Ambani?

Apparently, you now can. TrueCaller is a mobile phone app available for all major platforms which enables the user to identify unknown phone numbers. It identifies the Caller ID by performing a search against a database that it maintains cataloguing phone numbers across the world. The company behind this software is True Software Scandinavia AB which is based in Stockholm, Sweden.

Microsoft awarded damages in pirated Windows case

Business Standard is carrying a PTI report on a judgement in the Delhi High Court [PDF] in favour of Microsoft in a suit against a Mumbai firm which was preloading pirated versions of Windows on the computers it sold.

IIT-Bombay's electric race car

IIT Bombay has unveiled a custom designed electric car named EVo1 to take part in the Formula Student competition to be held at the Silverstone circuit in the UK in July.

The competition is a testing ground for the next generation of world-class engineers and it challenges university students from around the world to design and build a single-seat racing car.

Altruistic behaviour observed at a cellular level

Altruism has long been a contentious issue in evolutionary biology as it is a counter-intuitive fit in the Darwinian theory of natural selection. While altruistic behaviour has been studied in colonies of bacteria, a recently published paper indicates that it can also occur at a cellular level. Bikul Das, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown that certain human embryonic stem cells, in times of stress, produce molecules that not only benefit themselves, but also help nearby cells survive.

China's Shenzhou-9 launched successfully

China's Shenzhou-9 has blasted off successfully from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert aboard a Long March rocket. Here are a couple of videos of the launch:

Thunkpack: backpack with solar powered rechargers

A Coimbatore based company named Thunk has come up with a rather novel backpack which features a strip of solar cells on the front which can be used to charge devices on the go. The backpack itself is apparently "upcycled" which sounds like a marketing spin for recycled into something better. The backpack looks nifty and their promotional video is charming.