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Monday, October 15, 2007

HUMANS will be marrying and having sex with robots by 2050, an artificial intelligence researcher has claimed.

Just think! Source :

HUMANS will be marrying and having sex with robots by 2050, an artificial intelligence researcher has claimed.

Netherlands university student David Levy, who recently completed his PhD on the subject of human-robot relationships, told LiveScience that robots would become so human-like in appearance, function and personality that many people would fall in love with them, have sex with them and even marry them.

"At first, sex with robots might be considered geeky, but once you have a story like 'I had sex with a robot and it was great!' appear in a magazine like Cosmo, I'd expect many people to jump on the bandwagon," he said.

In his thesis "Intimate Relationships with Artificial Partners", Mr Levy argued that psychologists have identified roughly a dozen basic reasons why people fall in love, and almost all of them could apply to human-robot relationships.

"For instance, one thing that prompts people to fall in love are similarities in personality and knowledge, and all of this is programmable," Mr Levy said.

"Another reason people are more likely to fall in love is if they know the other person likes them, and that's programmable too."

Mr Levy said Massachusetts would be the first jurisdiction to legalise human-robot marriage.

"Massachusetts is more liberal than most other jurisdictions in the United States and has been at the forefront of same-sex marriage," Mr Levy said.

"There's also a lot of high-tech research there."

Although roboticist Ronald Arkin at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta didn't think human-robot marriages would be legal anywhere by 2050, he said "anything's possible".

"Just because it's not legal doesn't mean people won't try it," he told LiveScience.

"Humans are very unusual creatures.

"If you ask me if every human will want to marry a robot, my answer is probably not. But will there be a subset of people? There are people ready right now to marry sex toys."

Technorati :

Asteroid is 'practice case' for potential hazards

In research that could aid decisions about future asteroids on a collision course with Earth, MIT scientists have for the first time determined the composition of a near-Earth asteroid that has a very slight possibility of someday hitting our planet.

That information could be useful in planning any future space mission to explore the asteroid, called Apophis. And if the time ever were to come when this object or another turned out to be on its way toward an impact on Earth, knowing what it's made of could be one important factor in deciding what to do about it.

"Basic characterization is the first line of defense," said Richard P. Binzel, professor of planetary sciences in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). "We've got to know the enemy."

Binzel presented the new findings Oct. 9 at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

Studying the composition of Apophis has been a useful "practice case," Binzel said, because "you never know when the real one will come along" that is on a collision with the Earth. For determining the composition of a threatening asteroid, Binzel said, "We don't know when the real test will come, but we're ready."

On April 13, 2029, Apophis will come relatively close to Earth (it will miss us by about 22,000 miles). But when it comes by again in 2036, there is a very small possibility - about one chance in 45,000 - that it could be on a collision course.

So Binzel, working with EAPS graduate students Cristina Thomas and Francesca DeMeo and others, has been using telescopes on Earth to find out as much as possible about the nature of Apophis and other asteroids. Short of putting together a space mission that would take years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, such observations are the best way to find out as much as possible about any space rock that might someday be coming our way, Binzel says.

Using the MIT Magellan telescope in Chile and NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, they have now been able to figure out exactly what Apophis is made of. "The composition, I think, is really nailed," he said.

The key to understanding the mineral makeup of an asteroid is to compare it with samples of asteroidal material that have been delivered, free of charge, to the Earth, in the form of the many thousands of meteorites that have been collected over the years.

Spectral analysis - measuring how the meteorites reflect light of different wavelengths - can be used to determine their exact mineral constituents. Similarly, a spectral analysis of the light reflected from a distant asteroid shows the same telltale lines that reveal its composition. By comparing the two kinds of spectra, an asteroid that is just a faraway pinprick of light can be correlated with a piece of a space rock in the laboratory.

Binzel and his students were able to use both visible-light and infrared spectroscopy to show that Apophis is "a good match" for a rare type of meteorite, known as a type LL chondrite. These represent just 7 percent of the known meteorite falls on Earth, and are rich in the minerals pyroxene and olivine, which are also common on Earth.

"The beauty of having found a meteorite match for Apophis is that because we have laboratory measurements for the density and strength of these meteorites, we can infer many of the same properties for the asteroid Apophis itself," Binzel said.

An object the size of Apophis (about 270 meters across) could devastate a region as large as France, or produce tsunamis over a wide area if it struck at sea. Many ideas have been proposed for how to deal with such a threat, ranging from using bombs, lasers or spacecraft to nudge it out of the way to blowing it to pieces while it is still far away. The selection of the best course of action may depend of the physical characteristics of the object, including its mineral composition.

This work was sponsored by NASA and the National Science Foundation.

Technorati :

Institute of Medicine elects Brown

Emery N. Brown, M.D., a professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine.

He is among 65 new members of the Washington, D.C.-based institute, raising its total active membership to 1,538.

The Institute of Medicine is one of the four national academies, along with the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council. It serves as a national resource for independent, scientifically informed analysis and recommendations on human health issues.

A primary focus of Brown's research is the development of statistical methods and signal-processing algorithms for neuroscience data analysis. A new research direction in his laboratory is to use a systems neuroscience approach to study how the state of general anesthesia is induced and maintained. The long-term goal of this research is to establish a neurophysiological definition of anesthesia, and to develop safer, site-specific anesthetic drugs and neurophysiologically based methods for measuring the depth of anesthesia.

Brown is also affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.

Technorati :

Event planning: new tool of Windows Live services

Is great for Microsoft user, that you are getting event planning software online for your event. we hope it will help personal and corporate affairs in vast way.

Microsoft Corp. is rolling out a new feature, an event planning, for expanding Windows Live suite of services, which is called "Windows Live Events."

This party-invitation service works like a better-know program called "Evite." It allows existing Live users to design a Web page to create online invitations using, choosing from over 100 templates, then invite guests and blog about the event on your space.

Users can choose e-mail addresses of people to invite to their event from an address book they may already have in Hotmail or Messenger. They can also type in e-mail addresses.

At first, most people will likely use it for private, invitation-only events, Greg Sterling, founder of Sterling Market Research said.

However, as the Live platform gains momentum, he expects more people will use the page as a de facto blog.

"I can see people using the page as a promotional vehicle to draw attendees to public events," he said. "One feature that is particularly interesting is the ability to post photos and have discussions after an event," according to media reports.

The service begins rolling out to the public on Thursday night and will be accessible at over the following days. It will target the same 56 markets where Spaces is available.

Microsoft also is announcing that it is doubling the free storage in its Windows Live SkyDrive hosted storage beta offering to one gigabyte. In addition, people can subscribe to RSS feeds from any public folders now.

Windows Live Events is Microsoft's latest step in its campaign to go head-to-head with Google and Yahoo in the market for online tools and services.

The company recently unveiled Office Live Workspace, Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and a host of other Web-based productivity and collaboration tools. The "Live" software-as-a-service products are aimed at consumers while the "Online" offerings are meant for enterprise use.

Technorati :

Oracle makes 6.7-bln-dollar bid for rival company

No doubt technology business is the best ranking business , So its running on big compitition. Now, Technology busineess is becoming more tuff

U.S. business software giant Oracle on Friday made an aggressive step to dominate the market of Internet operation software by announcing an unsolicited bid to buy rival BEA Systems for about 6.7 billion U.S. dollars.

It would be the Silicon Valley company's largest acquisition effort since 2004 when it bought PeopleSoft for 10.3 billion dollars.

Oracle is offering to buy BEA for 17 dollars a share -- 25 percent more than Thursday's closing stock price.

The new bid for BEA Systems is seen by many industry analysts as Oracle's attempt to pre-empt a potential acquisition by others, including big names like IBM, SAP and Hewlett-Packard.

If completed, the acquisition would add to Oracle's goal of competing with IBM and SAP in offering software that integrates computer servers and databases with applications on the Internet, or middleware.

Charles Phillips, president of Oracle, said in a statement Friday that the proposal "is the culmination of repeated conversations with BEA's management over the last several years."

He said the acquisition would accelerate Oracle's development of a "world-class suite of middleware," as the company has been trying to catch up with competitors in the lucrative business software market.

BEA Systems, a California-base business software and service company, has been courted by Oracle for years. It recently came under pressure to find a buyer from some of its shareholders.

Technorati :

A spiritual scine :Eid ul-Fitr


Its a day of joy, day of Brothership, Friendship, Human right , Its a yarly slogan also of a Happy world

Eid ul-Fitr or Id-Ul-Fitr (Arabic: عيد الفطر 'Īdu l-Fiṭr), often abbreviated ot Eid, is a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning "festivity", while Fiṭr means "to break the fast" (and can also mean "nature", from the word "fitrah") and so symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period.

Eid ul-Adha last 4 days and is called the Greater Eid (Arabic: العيد الكبير Al-eid Al-kabeer), while Eid ul-Fitr last three and is also called Lesser Eid (Arabic: العيد الصغير Al-eid Al-sagheer).

On the day of the celebration, a typical Muslim family awakes very early, does the first normal everyday prayer, and is required to eat a little, symbolizing the end of Ramadan. They then attend special congregational prayers held in mosques, large open area, stadiums and arenas. The prayer is generally short and is followed by a sermon (khuṭba). Worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace and love after the congregational prayer. After the special prayers, festivities and merriment are commonly observed with visits to the homes of relatives and friends to thank God for all blessings.

Eid ul-Fitr is a joyous occasion with important religious significance, celebrating of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory, peace of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity. Muslims celebrate not only the end of all that fasting but also thank God for the help and strength that they believe he gave them through the previous month to help everyone practice self-control. It is a time of giving and sharing, and many Muslims dress in holiday attire.

Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, the sighting can only be possible just after sunset. Many Muslims check with local mosques or other members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by authoritative parties such as knowledgeable scholars. Although many Muslims believe the Quran says that the sighting of the moon determines the start of Eid, this is written in other books. Due to the sensitive nature of this opinion, please see below for further research on this dispute.

Traditions and practices
This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unverifiable material may be challenged and removed. (tagged since October 2007)

Common greetings during this holiday are the Arabic greeting EĪd mubārak ("Blessed Eid") or 'Īd sa'īd ("Happy Eid"). In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions.

Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes (new if possible) and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. When Muslims finish their fast at the last day (29th or 30th Ramadan), they recite Takbir (Arabic audio clip with English meaning).

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر الله أكبر
la ilaha illa Allah لا إله إلا الله
Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar الله أكبر الله أكبر
wa li-illahi al-hamd ولله الحمد

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
There is no deity but Allah
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest
and to Allah goes all praise
The Takbir is recited after confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins every Muslim, if possible(man, woman or child), must pay Zakat al Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given at any time during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilize it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity.

Eid ul-Fitr 2005 at Dublin Mosque, Ireland.The Eid prayer (salah) is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer (dua') asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of oneself as well as ones relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Muslims spend the day thanking the Creator for all their blessings, as well as simply having fun and enjoying themselves. Children are normally given sweets or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconciliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.

In North America
North American Muslims typically celebrate the day in a quiet way. Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, often families are not aware that the next day will be Eid until the night before. Most check with members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by anyone. Different methods for determining the end of Ramadan and the beginning of Shawwal are used in each particular community. Because the day is determined by the natural phenomenon of sighting the crescent moon, North Americans on the eastern coast of the continent may celebrate Eid on a different day than those on the western coast.

The crescent moon can be sighted directly, or the sighting can be determined based on scientific calculations. Typically, the end of Ramadan is announced via e-mail, postings on websites, or chain phone calls to all members of a Muslim community. Working persons usually attempt to make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day, but many North American Muslims are often noted to not be able to take the entire day off.

Typically, a Muslim family in the West will wake up very early in the morning and have a small breakfast. Everyone is encouraged to dress in new and formal clothing. Many families wear traditional clothing from their respective home countries. Next the family will go to the nearest congregational prayer group to pray. The prayer may be held at the local mosque, a hotel ballroom, local arena or stadium. The Eid prayer is very important, and Muslims are encouraged to pray in a large gathering because of the rewards. After the prayer there is a Khutba (speech) in which the Imam gives some sort of advice to the Muslim community and usually Muslims are encouraged to end any past animosities they may have. After the prayer and Khutba people hug and wish each other a Happy Eid.

After the Eid prayer many people call friends and family from all over the world wishing them a Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak. The rest of Eid is spent with close family and friends. Depending on their community some Muslims have open-house parties during the day in which people exchange gifts, and wish family friends a blessed Eid. Because North American Muslims come from all parts of the world, one particular type of food cannot be identified as served on this day. Many Muslim North American families visit the homes of others to congregate on a day of celebration. Since many North American Muslims are immigrants, traditions described below may be celebrated by immigrants of these countries in their respective homes in North America.

New York's iconic Empire State Building will be lit in green in honor of Eid-al-Fitr October 12-14, 2007.[1]

In Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei
Main article: Hari Raya Aidilfitri
In Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Eid is also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Hari Raya literally means 'Grand Day' i.e. 'The Day'. Muslims in Malaysia and Singapore celebrate Eid like other Muslims throughout the world. It is the biggest holiday in Malaysia and is the most awaited one. Shopping malls and bazaars are filled with people days ahead of Hari Raya, causing a distinctive festive atmosphere throughout the country. Many banks, government and private offices are closed for this holiday, which usually lasts a week.

The night before Eid is with the takbir which is held in the mosques or musallas. In many parts of Malaysia, especially in rural areas, pelita or panjut (oil lamps) are lit up in house compounds. Eid also witnesses a huge migratory pattern of Muslims, from big metropolitan cities to rural areas. This is known as balik kampung - literally going back to home town to celebrate Eid with one's parents. Special dishes like ketupat, dodol, lemang (a type of glutinous rice cake cooked in bamboo) and other Malay delicacies are served during this day.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya" or "Salam Aidilfitri" which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "maaf zahir dan batin" which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)", due to the fact that Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their ties with relatives and friends.

It is customary for Malays to wear traditional Malay cultural outfit on the Eid. The outfit for men is called baju melayu which is worn together with kain samping (made out of songket) and songkok (a dark coloured headgear) while the women's are known as baju kurung and baju kebaya. It is also common to see non-Malay Muslims wear costumes of their culture.

Once the prayer is completed, it is also common for Muslims in Malaysia to visit the graves of loved ones. During this visit, they clean the grave, recite Ya-Seen, a chapter (surah) from the Qur'an and also perform the tahlil ceremony. All these are done to ask for God to forgive the dead and also those who are living.

The rest of the day is spent visiting relatives or serving visitors. Eid ul-Fitr is a very joyous day for children for on this day adults are especially generous. Children will be given token sums of money, also known as "duit raya," from their parents or elders [1] [2].

In Indonesia

Ketupat is traditionally eaten on Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia.In Indonesia the feast is named Hari Raya Idul Fitri or informally, Lebaran. Hari Raya literally means The Great Day of (Celebration) . Sometimes, there are different statements on when the day falls, especially between Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, because people use different techniques to determine it. Almost all of the people follow the government of Indonesia's statement and such differences do not get in the way of people celebrating. This event is recognized as a national holiday, starts a few days before Eid ul-Fitr, and lasts until days after it. Schools also have different schedules for the holiday as many Islamic schools usually make it a longer holiday.

Muslims in Indonesia usually ask forgiveness from their relatives and friends after the special prayer. Another interesting Eid ul-Fitr tradition in Indonesia is mudik that usually applies to urbanites who came to Jakarta from the other provinces of Java or other islands in Indonesia. Before Eid ul-Fitr comes, people will go back to their hometowns where their relatives, sometimes including their parents, reside. This event often causes crowding in airports, seaports, and bus stations while some who are traveling by car are trapped in the traffic jam for hours. For little children, gifts ofmoney as well as forgiveness from relatives is common to motivate them. Many, especially in the cities, also use the term angpau for the money just like Chinese people do.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya" (Indonesian) or "Salam Aidilfitri" (Malay) which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "Mohon maaf lahir dan batin" which means "Forgive my physical and emotional (wrongdoings)", due to the fact that Eid ul-Fitr is not only for celebrations, but also the time for Muslims to cleanse their sins and strengthen their silaturrahim with relatives and friends. The term "fitr" in Eid ul Fitr, coincides with the word "fitrah" of the Indonesian language which means the purity of birth, just as babies are pure when they were born. Many Indonesian Muslims acknowledge that on the day of Eid when they forgive each other, their sins with each other are cleansed and they are without sin just as they were at birth. Another term in addition to "Mohon maaf lahir dan batin" mentioned earlier, is "minal aidin wal faidzin" (Arabic: من العاءدين و الفاءيزين; alternate spelling: minal aidin wal faizin). The origin of this phrase is suspectedly Arabic and has loosed meaning of "may you be part of the people who return to purity and part of the people who are granted glory"[3]. The latter phrase is usually used in conjunction of the former; thusly, "Minal aidin wal faidzin, mohon maaf lahir dan batin."

At the night of the last day of Ramadan, Indonesians usually do 'Takbiran'. Takbiran is a big celebration where people, from little children to old men, recite the takbir with a microphone in a parade. They travel around the town and usually they hit 'beduk', a large drum, as a background music of the takbir.

In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka
At the end of the Holy month of Ramadan, in which the Muslims are asked to observe fasting from dawn to dusk and do extra prayers and observe religious values rigidly, the Muslims celebrate the sighting of the new moon (start of the new Muslim month). In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, the night before Eid is called Chand Raat, or night of the moon. People visit bazaars and shopping malls, with their families and children, for last minute Eid shopping. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others' hands with traditional "henna" and wear colourful bangles.

The popular way of greeting in Bangladesh, India & Pakistan during celebration of this festival is to say Eid Mubarak to others.Children are encouraged to meet and greet the elders. In exchange of this they also expect to obtain some cash money, called Eidi, from the elders.

On the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, after taking a fresh bath, every Muslim is encouraged to wear new clothes, if they can afford so. Alternatively, they may wear clean washed clothes.Men and boys go to mosque or open fields called Eidgah for special Eid prayers, thanking God for enabling a Muslim to observe the holy month meaningfully. The Muslims are ordained to pay Zakat al-Fitr (special charity money) or fitra to the poor and needy before the Eid prayer, so that they can also join others to celebrate the Eid.

After the prayers, the congregation is dispersed and the Muslims meet and greet each other including family members, children, elders, friends and neighbours.

Some Muslims especially go to graveyards to pray for the salvation of the departed soul. Usually, children visit elder relatives and neighbours to pay respects and greetings.

One of the special dishes in India, Pakistan and Fiji is sivayyan, a dish of fine, toasted vermicelli noodles [4]. In Bangladesh, sivayyan is called shemai, and is an integral item of Eid dishes.

After meeting the friends and relatives, many people go for attending parties, feasts, special carnivals and festivities in the parks (with picnics, fireworks, etc.). In Bangladesh and Pakistan, many bazaars, malls, and restaurants witness huge crowd & high attendance during this principal muslim festival.

Some people also avail this opportunity to distribute Zakat, the obligatory tax on one's wealth, to the needy.

In this way, the Muslims of South Asia celebrate their Eid ul-Fitr in a festive mood by thanking the Almighty and bringing their families, friends and the poor and needy people closer in a praiseworthy, egalitarian manner.

In Iran
In the predominantly Shia culture of Iran, Eid is a highly personal event, and celebrations are often more muted. Called Eyde Fetr by most Iranians, charity is important on that day. Public Eid prayers are held in every Mosque and in public places. Visiting the elderly and gathering with families and friends is also very common. Typically, each Muslim family gives food to those in need. Often meat or ghorbani (literally translated as sacrifice, for it is usually a young lamb or calf that is sacrificed for the occasion), which is an expensive food item in Iran, will be given by those in wealthier families to those who have less. Payment of fitra or fetriye is obligatory for each Muslim.

In Turkey
In Turkey, where Ramadan is infused with more national traditions (and where country-wide celebrations, religious and secular alike, are altogether referred to as Bayram), it is customary for people to greet one another with "Bayramınız Kutlu Olsun" ("May Your Bayram Be Celebrated"), "Mutlu Bayramlar" ("Happy Bayram"), or the more quaint "Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun" (May Your Bayram Be Holi", i.e. "Holy Bayram Upon You").

It is a time for people to attend services, put on their best clothes (referred to as "Bayramlık", often purchased just for the occasion) and to visit all their loved ones (such as friends, relatives and neighbors) and pay their respects to the deceased with organized visits to cemeteries, where large, temporary bazaars of flowers, water (for watering the plants adorning a grave), and prayer books are set up for the three-day occasion.

It is regarded as especially important to honor elderly citizens by kissing their right hand and placing it on one's forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. It is also customary for children to go around the neighborhood, door to door, and wish everyone a happy "Bayram", for which they are awarded candy, chocolates, traditional sweets such as Baklava and Lokum (Turkish delight), or a small amount of money at every door, almost in a Halloween-like fashion.

Municipalities all around the country organize fundraising events for the poor, in addition to public shows such as concerts or more traditional forms of entertainment such as the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow-theatre and even performences by the Mehter, the Janissary Band that was founded during the days of the Ottoman Empire.

Helping the poor, ending past animosities and making up, organizing breakfasts and dinners for loved ones and putting together neighborhood celebrations are all part of the joyous occasion, where homes and streets are decorated and lit up for the celebrations, and television and radio channels broadcast special Bayram programs.

In the Philippines
Philippines, with a majority Christian population, has recognized Eid ul-Fitr as a regular holiday by virtue of Republic Act No. 9177 and signed on November 13, 2002. The law was enacted in deference to the Filipino Muslim community and to promote peace among major religions in the Philippines. The first public holiday was set on December 6, 2002. Many non-Muslim Filipinos are still unfamiliar to the new holiday, and many calendars in the Philippines don't have this holiday listed.

In the Gregorian calendar
See also: Islamic calendar
While Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, much like Easter, due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, Eid may vary from country to country depeding on whether the moon has been sighted or not.

It should be noted that the future dates are only estimates:

2006: 21 October/25 October
2007: 12 October/16 October
2008: 2 October/5 October
2009: 21 September
2010: 10 September
2011: 31 August
2012: 19 August
2013: 8 August
2014: 28 July

Eid ul-Fitr officially begins the night before each of the above dates, at sunset.

Disagreement on Eid date and Moonsighting

Islam is widely known to be a religion of interpretation. In some cases, there are small differences between Muslims about certain topics that are not specified in the Quran. One area of interpretation that has been vague and caused opposing views has been the determination of the start and end of the holy month and what day to begin the celebration of the holy holiday.

Fiqh Council interpretation

For USA: October 13th, 2007 (After a 30 day Ramadan) [2]
For the rest of the world: October 12th, 2007 (After a 29 day Ramadan) [3]
Alternate interpretation

October 12th, 2007 for the entire world. (After a 29 day Ramadan) [4]
The conflict that arises from this disagreement is that different communities may find themselves anticipating different holiday dates, and this may cause confusion, particularly for individuals living in the western world, for example, who may need to request vacation days in advance for the sake of their holidays only to find their Eid date is pushed back or forward on the last day.

The Quran's instruction
Islam is based upon a lunar calendar, which means the month of Ramadan can be either 29 or 30 days long.

Here are citations from the Quran in reference to the lunar calendar and calculation (translated into English). The calculation for the Lunar year is emphasized in the Quran:

10:5 He is the One who rendered the sun radiant, and the moon a light, and He designed its phases that you may learn to count the years and to calculate. GOD did not create all this, except for a specific purpose. He explains the revelations for people who know. [5]

The calculation for the Solar year is emphasized in the following verse.

17:12 We rendered the night and the day two signs. We made the night dark, and the day lighted, that you may seek provisions from your Lord therein. This also establishes for you a timing system, and the means of calculation. We thus explain everything in detail. [6]

There is no mention in the Quran of a necessity to actually sight the new moon. However, Islamic law is based upon both the Quran and Sunnah, as explained by The Prophet (SAW):

I leave behind me two things. You will never go astray if you hold fast to them: The Qur'an and my Sunnah. [7]

Furthermore, it is said in the Quran:

59:7 What the Messenger teaches you, take it, and what he forbids you, avoid doing it. [8]

Fiqh Council interpretation
In North America, one of the most well known group of scholars is the organization called Fiqh Council of North America. The Fiqh Council has produced a new formula for determining the start of Ramadan and the subsequent start of Eid al fitr. It is based upon calculating the moon scientifically, but then, figuring out when it can be viewed by the naked eye. In effect, this means the start of the next holy month could possibly be one day later than the scientific start of the new holy calendar if visibility is limited on the first night.[5]

Even on their site however, the Fiqh Council does give a disclaimer as they understand their methods are not universally agreed upon:

However, the Fiqh Council does not intend to force its decision on anyone or any Muslim community. You should follow the decision of your Imam and your Masjid.

ternate interpretation
Alternate independent scholars have disputed the concept of Moonsighting. According to alternate views:

God never commanded that the moon be sighted [9] with the naked eyes to know the beginning of the new month. The Quran is very clear that any method of calculation is acceptable.

A search for Meton in any search engine or encyclopedia will demonstrate that man knew the birth of new moon by calculation since 5th century B.C. Certainly this information was available at the time of Muhammad and even Abraham, to whom all religious duties were revealed. The sighting of the new moon is alleged to be a fabrication of the scholars. A lunar calendar can be as accurate as an atomic clock for the next several hundred years.

The alternate view also argues that since most other aspects of time in Islam incorporate science and calculations, such as prayer times [11], then Ramadan should as well. So in this viewpoint, these decisions should not be made by groups who hold no Islamic power, as there is no such thing.

Technorati :

Nanotechnology Milestone for Quadrupling Terabyte (3º) Hard Drive by Hitachi

Hard Drive 15/10/2007 04:01:00 Business Wire vertically-integrated research, design and manufacturing capabilities, Hitachi GST delivers leadership technology and quality to its global customer base.
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Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, the hard drive arm of the Japanese conglomerate, has made what it says is the world's smallest read head for hard drives.

And, if it comes out in 2011 or so as expected, the head will allow Hitachi to continue to increase the density of drives, said John Best, Hitachi's CTO. Current top-of-the-line desktop drives hold a terabyte.

With the new, elegantly named current perpendicular-to-the-plane giant magneto-resistive heads (CPP-GMR heads to you laypeople), drive makers will be able to come out with 4 terabyte drives in 2011 and/or 1 terabyte notebook drives.

The CPP-GMR drive essentially changes the structure of drive heads. Current drives come with a tunnel magnetoresistance head. In these, an insulating layer sits between two magnetic layers. Electrons can tunnel through the layer. Precisely controlling the tunneling ultimately results in the 1s and 0s of data.

Unfortunately, drive heads need to be shrunk as areal density, the measure of the amount of data that can be squeezed onto a square inch of media, increases. Shrinking the heads increases electrical resistance, which in turn creates electrical noise and potential degradation in performance. Past 500 gigabits per square inch of areal density, TMR heads may not work reliably. (Current top-end drives exhibit an areal density of around 200 gigabits per square inch.)

In a CPP-GMR head, the insulator is eliminated and replaced by a conductor, usually copper. Instead of running parallel with the middle layer, the current runs at a perpendicular angle. The structure reduces resistance and thus allows the head to be shrunk.

Put another way, current drive heads can read media where the tracks are 70 nanometers apart. The CPP-GMR heads will be capable of reading media where the tracks are 50 nanometers apart or smaller. Fifty nanometer tracks hit in 2009, and 30 nanometer tracks are expected to hit in 2011.

Before TMR heads, the industry used more conventional GMR heads, but the current in the older versions ran parallel with the insulating layer.

"In a sense, it (GMR) is making a comeback in a different form," said Best.

Earlier this month, France's Albert Fert and Germany's Peter Gruenberg won the Nobel Prize in physics for their discoveries surrounding giant magneto-resistance in 1988.

The first commercial drives with CPP-GMR head will likely come in 2009 or 2010.

Hitachi will present these achievements at the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording Conference next week in Tokyo.

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Brain's attention fast to fearful looks : study

Horrified expression is a sure-fire attention getter, U.S. researchers said on Sunday, based on a study of how fast people process facial expressions.

They believe fearful facial expressions make a beeline to the alarm center of the brain known as the amygdala, cuing humans to potential threats.

Of emotional information, a horrified expression is an easy way to get others' attention because people recognize the expression faster than any other, .

The finding is based on a study of how fast people process facial expressions, namely, fearful, neutral and happy expressions.

The researchers think that a region of the brain called the amygdala, which has a primary role in processing emotional information, shortcuts the normal brain pathway for processing visual images and causes the fearful face to jump out more quickly.

"We think what is happening with fear is that this is a critical threat signal for us," said David Zald, associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. "Fear tells you something is wrong and you need to pay attention."

Zald and his colleagues think the expression of the eyes in a fearful face holds the key to its quick recognition.

"Fearful eyes are a particular shape, where you get more of the whites of the eye showing," Zald said. "That may be the sort of simple feature that the amygdala can pick up on, because it's only getting a fairly crude representation."

The fast recognition of fear may be an evolutionary survival mechanism geared to direct attention to signals of potential threats in the environment.

Happy expressions were the slowest to be recognized according to the study, which also fits into the evolutionary explanation.

"What we believe is happening is that the happy faces signal safety," Zald said. "If something is safe, you don't have to pay attention to it."

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Astronomers get their hands dirty

Astronomers get their hands dirty
Astronomers get their hands dirty as they lift veil on galactic dust

There is more to a grain of dust than meets the eye, at least for astronomers as they attempt to probe deeper into distant galaxies. Until now dust has been a nuisance because it has obscured galaxies, and the stars within them, by absorbing the radiation they emit. But more recently dust has started to present opportunities because it emits radiation itself as a consequence of being heated up by nearby stars, according to Eurekalert, the news service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

There is more to a grain of dust than meets the eye, at least for astronomers as they attempt to probe deeper into distant galaxies. Until now dust has been a nuisance because it has obscured galaxies, and the stars within them, by absorbing the radiation they emit. But more recently dust has started to present opportunities because it emits radiation itself as a consequence of being heated up by nearby stars. Aided by new observing instruments and sophisticated computer software, this radiation enables astronomers to reconstruct what lies behind the dust. Furthermore the dust itself plays a vital role in star formation within galaxies.

The stage was set for dramatic advances in the study of galactic dust in a recent workshop funded by the European Science Foundation (ESF) 's Exploratory Workshop. The big breakthrough is the ability to detect the dust at much higher resolution from its infrared radiation, according to Simone Bianchi, co-convenor of the ESF workshop. "It has been possible to do this since the eighties, but the new instruments have a higher sensitivity," said Bianchi.

At the same time new computer models are making it possible to work out the structure of the galaxy lying behind the dust, even though it cannot be observed directly at any wavelength. The key here is that the dust is acting as a relay for radiation emitted by the stars behind it. The dust absorbs high energy radiation from the stars and then heats up as a result. It then re-emits in the infra red waveband, which can now be detected with sensitive new instruments.

Plans were made at the workshop to use the European Space Agency's new infrared space telescope called Herschel, which will be launched in 2008 and be capable of detecting infrared radiation emitted by distant galactic dust. "The new instruments will allow us to detect dust associated with less dense regions of the interstellar medium," said Bianchi.

Astronomers also hope to learn more about the role played by dust in star formation. As Bianchi pointed out, there is a well established connection between the dust and the gas from which stars are formed. But the detailed relationship is unknown, and will require knowledge about the dust itself, in particular its molecular structure and lifecycle.

The ESF workshop focused mainly on spiral galaxies, because these are heavily obscured by dust. Galaxies are split into three categories by their structure, spiral, elliptical, and irregular. There is less dust in elliptical galaxies, while irregular galaxies are more difficult to model because they lack any orderly structure. "Spiral galaxies can be modelled in a more direct way because of their relatively simple geometry," said Bianchi. "However, recent comparison with observations of dust emission has shown that models may need a higher degree of complexity. This can be achieved now with the advances in computational facilities."

The ESF workshop was well timed to help Europe exploit the full potential of the data that will be obtained from the new instruments. It has already brought together the relevant European groups specialising in spiral galaxies and modelling dust, providing the platform for major advances in the field.

The workshop, held in Ghent, Belgium in May 2007, brought together 29 researchers from 10 different countries. Each year, ESF supports approximately 50 Exploratory Workshops across all scientific domains. These small, interactive group sessions are aimed at opening up new directions in research to explore new fields with a potential impact on developments in science

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Dedicated satellite

Dedicated satellite
The Dedicated Satellite

Telecom sector to get dedicated satellite

The Telecom Commission has approved the department of telecom (DoT) proposal to have an independent, dedicated satellite for telecom services. The project, which is estimated, to cost about $500 million is likely to the awarded to Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro). The Telecom Commission (TC) has now asked DoT to work out the finer details of developing the satellite.

The TEC approval came after the DoT had submitted the recommendations of its internal committee, which had said that having a custom-built satellite was a better option against leasing of transponders or launching an independent satellite.

At present, the DoT books transponder slots on multi-purpose satellites to cater the communication demands of telcos. However, this methodology has often not been able to meet the requirements of the sector. "The need for DoT to go for an independent telecom satellite was deliberated at length. Thereafter, the proposal was approved to initiate further discussions and find out detailed modalities," notes the minutes of the recent TC meet.

The launch will, however, take about 24 months because the DoT will first have to work out the modalities, after which the Isro will take 12-24 months to build the satellite. ET had first reported that the DoT was considering a dedicated satellite for telecom services.

Sources said that the DoT was looking at developing a multi-brand 24 transponder satellite, which would have a mix of C, Ku and Ka band transponders. The satellite will largely cater to public sector company BSNL, which has been entrusted with the task of executing most of the government's rural programmes.

At the same time, the DoT will also extend these facilities to public sector company MTNL and private operators. Currently, private operators lease transponder space from foreign satellites. Most operators in India have a heavy requirement for satellite bandwidth, especially as a backup to link their rural networks.

The DoT's internal committee has also pointed out that using satellite services was more cost-effective compared to terrestrial technologies. This is because, with satellites there is no additional costs for addressing each new user once the point-to-multipoint applications system is operational.

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Gmail storage limit

Gmail storage limit

Google vows to increase Gmail storage limit

People using Google's Gmail service are sucking up storage space faster than the company can add it.

People using Google's Gmail service are sucking up storage space faster than the company can add it.

Google said on Friday it is speeding up the rate at which it adds storage space for its Gmail web-based email service due to the increased storage requirements for attachments such as photos.

"A few of you are using Gmail so much that you're running out of space, so to make good on our promise, today we're announcing we are speeding up our counter and giving out more free storage," wrote Rob Siemborski, a Google engineer on the Gmail blog.

On Friday, the counter on the Gmail login page stood at more than 2,935MB, or about 2.9GB, of storage, and was rising -- but the counter is an illustration rather than a hard limit.

Google started gradually increasing Gmail storage in April 2005 when the service turned one year old. Google's Gmail gained immediately popularity when it launched in 2004, offering free accounts with 1GB of storage, but this year has been surpassed by its rivals.

Microsoft upped its free storage limit for its Windows Live Hotmail service to 5GB in August, and Yahoo started offered "unlimited" storage in May.

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A space your children can call home

A space your children can call home

A space your children can call home

Safety, comfort and changing needs as the child grows must be taken into consideration

Decorating a child's room can be one of the most enjoyable experiences for any homeowner.

It can also be one of the most challenging, considering that a child's needs change quickly as she grows from an infant to a teenager.

Interior designers suggest that for an infant up to age two, safety and comfort trump all other considerations.

But style is also important, and most children prefer a colourful environment with entertaining themes. Storage space for toys is another key consideration.

Mayuri Thammakulangkul, design director for Bareo & Isyss, says that a child's room should help him or her grow up to become an organised adult. Therefore, room designs should focus on maximising space for storage.

She noted that most Thai parents begin separating rooms for their children from the age of eight. Creating a theme and choosing colours is a starting point for a child's room. Furniture should be matched to a child's age.

''Parents have a lot to play with. The theme may be adventurous or fun, and colours can be striking or pale. The room should have roomy storage for items such as toys, cartoons and books,'' she says.

While painting offers parents a do-it-yourself option, they may need professional assistance in choosing the right furniture.

''The furniture must be practical and fit into the room plan. Its design and colour should be congruous to the room concept. Some furniture pieces look pretty, but may not match the room concept,'' Ms Mayuri says.

With small children, the most important issue is safety. Furniture must have round corners and the bed should have a high curve to prevent tots from falling off. A small child's wardrobe should have low-hanging rails so that she can help herself with clothing.

For older children, the design should maximise space in the room by utilising space under the bed or chairs as additional storage to cupboards and shelves, Ms Mayuri says.

Parents should talk to their children to find out their favourite themes and colours, using the clues as a starting point for the design. You would be surprised how much a three-year-old knows about his or her tastes.

Themes such as space, airplanes and jungles are ideal for small children aged between three and ten.

As for colours, a girlish theme doesn't need to be flowery or pink: a pale sugar tone can make the room look equally feminine.

To break away from the old pattern, lilac can substitute for pink, and a soft leafy green can substitute for the usual pale yellow.

Experts suggest that parents focus on closed-door cupboards rather than open shelves since the room should be peaceful at night with no items to tempt a child.

In a child's room, opt for painted walls rather than wallpaper. Photographs and art crafts can be used for display. Apart from design, the bed and mattress are the top priorities for pre-teen children, followed by storage.

A youngster's room also provides an opportunity for parents to try out some creative DIY approaches. For example, wrapping carved paper over a lamp could cast an interesting light to highlight a child's room

A space to call your own- creating a home office
To be a successful work at home parent, you need a space to call your own- a place that will afford the privacy needed to work effectively. .
To be successful work at home parent, one needs to have a comfortable yet functional space in which to work. It not only provides the privacy you need, it lends credibility to what you do. Others are more likely to take your job seriously if you have a home office and set work hours. The ideal situation would be to turn a spare bedroom or den into an office. Unfortunately, many of us lack a spare room. But there may be other options available if you look around and take stock of what space you do have. Erma Bombeck wrote from her utility room. Many people create office space in a corner of their basement, in a converted garage or even a shed. My writing space as a child was the crawl space attic. When my parents weren't home, I would grab the ladder, and go up to my 'office." I have no clue where my sister, who was supposed to watching me was. My dream office is in a tree fort, but that's another story.

As an adult, I started writing in a spiral bound notebook at the kitchen table. When the kids were at school, I would transfer my writings to the computer. This was better than nothing, but being in the main part of the house made it very hard for me to concentrate. There was always housework that needed doing, and it was right in my face. A friend of mine was getting a new computer. A computer repairman had said her old computer was unable to be repaired. Straight out of college with an information technology degree, I offered to take it off her hands to see what I could do with it. I dragged out all my schoolbooks, and after a few days, had it working. I put a desk in my room, and I was set to go. I worked that way for several years. It was much better than the kitchen table, but it still lacked privacy and that "office feel" that I wanted. If I felt inspired to write at night, I couldn't as the glare from the computer monitor bothered my significant other, Ron. Recently, I sectioned off an area in the bedroom, and made a small (very small) office. I love it, and get more work done than ever. It is approximately 5 x 8 feet. I used pegboard as a wall between the bedroom and my office space. My desk faces the pegboard, which holds my bulletin board, some pictures and my degree. To my left I have a shelving unit that acts as another wall, as well as storage. In back of my desk and to my right are the corner walls of the bedroom. I have another small shelf and my filing cabinet against the right hand wall. Behind me, I put shelf runners and three shelves that are 36' long x 8" wide. My desk is a whopping 6 ft long and 3 ft wide, so I have plenty of storage under that, too. I still wish I had a spare room to write in, but I don't right now. We have one graduating high school this year, and one graduating in three years. I can be patient……..

Converting a closet into an office works quite well. If it is the kind that runs the length of the room, you only need to paint the walls, put a desk and filing cabinet inside, and place shelves above the desk. You have an instant office. You can remove the doors or keep them on so you can shut them when you are done with work for the day.

If you don't have a desk, you can easily create one with a sheet of plywood placed on top of two sawhorses. You can also attach the plywood to the wall with a brace or hinges. A long, low dresser can be converted to a desk by removing the drawers and cutting away the runners. An old kitchen table can also make a nice desk.

The important thing is to make sure you have sufficient storage. Utilize wall space by hanging shelves, and don't forget the space under the desk and on top of the filing cabinets. Be sure to place the filing cabinet near the desk or filing tends to be put off. Make sure you create space for a computer and a printer. You want to be able to do everything from your office, not have to go to another room to perform a task.

It doesn't matter whether you are in a corner of a room or in a garage, if you give your space a personal touch, you will be half way to a successful career. Now all you need is some self-discipline and a way to control those children!

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Small spaces

Small spaces

Making the most of small spaces

New condos are a tight fit and a design challenge

Walking in Bangkok's hectic Silom area, one finds three buildings with signs touting ''City Condos'' designed to serve the new generation's living style.

It's no certainty that Thais want to live in small spaces like residents in other big cities across the world, as Bangkok residents prefer to spend time relaxing in a private place instead of hanging out on the street at night. But it's probably a fact of life that somewhere down the line, some Thais will be stuck with small living spaces.

Residential units in the capital are getting smaller lately. Prior to the financial crisis, the tiniest available space was 26 square metres, offered by the low-income Niran Condominium, while the average space for young homebuyers was about 50 to 60 sq m.

Now the current champion of narrow spaces is My Condo by Plus Property, a subsidiary of Sansiri Plc. It's offering a petite 24-sq-m space designed for one person only.

With land prices rising, it looks as if smaller spaces are here to stay. And to make them more comfortable, more people will need to know how to maximise the space they have.

L.P.N. Development Plc, a leader in the small-condo market, has plenty of ideas for home buyers. The property developer staged the Flexible Room Design Contest 2006 focusing on interior decorating for small spaces. Room sizes could be either 25, 28 or 30 sq m, and they had to be designed to fit two people.

The winner of the inaugural contest was 24-year-old Peerapat Sintopnumchai. He said buyers who truly buy tiny spaces are usually young graduates without much money who crave independence. ''Budget is the big word; if they have more money they have more choices,'' Mr Peerapat said.

First of all, people must plan smartly. Many buyers feel that they need to bring in all of their personal belongings, but that could be a huge mistake.

Mr Peerapat recalls one client who is a genuine collector of small electric bikes, with five in total. ''I put all my energy into finding the idea to keep all of them, but the best I could do was to fit two bikes. That's it, only two,'' he said.

The first basic design tip, then, is that owners must limit possessions to fit with their room size and personal budget.

Mr Peerapat also warned that people overlook how their lives could change in the future, which could have a direct impact on how much stuff they stick into empty spaces.

The second basic design tip is for an owner to make a list of necessities, like a bedroom, closet, washroom, washing machine, kitchen, dining room, and living and study area.

The key is to be able to work and play in your space effectively, as a usable room feels larger. You must find the natural character of the room you want to live in and draw in visitors. Look for extra space, such as under a sloping ceiling, and find ways to utilise these little treasures.

If you can afford it, some relatively simple structural changes make a small room feel larger. Things such as built-in utilities save space, and were the key to Mr Peerapat's success.

He imagines two sisters living together. They have a duplex bed that covers only a single-bed space, and the living quarters are divided by a slim built-in closet designed especially for multiple functions.

Bookcases within a wall or cabinets in a closet equal functional living space. Moveable furniture also helps, but it should be compact. When selecting furniture, consider maximising its utility. For instance, a coffee table could turn into a chair or a computer desk.

Removing or replacing doors can enhance light and airflow within small rooms. For example, a door can be a window or removed altogether.

In addition, you can remove all or part of a wall by cutting out an internal window between rooms, or you can take out the wall completely, such as between a master bedroom and a smaller bath. But beware of balancing the need for privacy with the desire for openness.

Light and airflow are also important, and maximising them is the key to making the space feel different. Furniture and decorations made of glass, metal, wood and leather all reflect the light in a way that brightens a space. A mirror is the most efficient way to maximise space and brightness.

The trick here is to place lamps near walls to reflect light across the room instead of simply increasing the number of light sources. You should also avoid hanging lights overhead as they draw the walls in.

When a space is tiny, visual simplicity helps maintain a sense of class. Too many details can quickly make things chaotic.

Paint and colour are also very helpful, as a light or cool colour amplifies reflection. It can brighten and energise life in a box.

Finally, get into the habit of using multiple-duty items. You won't need to keep opening your wallet for new pieces and you can keep your small space in the best shape at the same time. Even in a tiny box, you can enjoy home sweet home.

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Ramadan in Space

Malaysian Will Observe Ramadan in Space

A Malaysian doctor who will spend the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in space has vowed to follow the rituals of his faith even as he hurtles around Earth at 17,000 mph.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor lifted off Wednesday in a Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan, en route to the international space station where he will spend about 10 days.

The spacecraft - which also carried an American and a Russian - will take two days to reach the station, a period coinciding with the last days of Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Sheikh Muszaphar has said he will fast and pray in space, even though clerics said he could delay the fast.

"I am not sure how it would be done but I will share my experiences (with) all the Muslims all over the world when I get back," the 35-year-old Sheikh Muszaphar wrote in his Web journal. "After all, Islam is a way of life and I am quite sure I would not face much difficulties."

Sheikh Muszaphar is taking vacuum-packed Malaysian food, including skewered chicken, banana rolls, fermented soybean cakes and ginger jelly to mark the end of Ramadan.

A bachelor who has become a national heartthrob, the orthopedic surgeon will not be the first Muslim in space - Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman joined the crew of the shuttle Discovery in 1985 and there have been several others since.

Still, the mission initially presented a dilemma about fulfilling religious duties such as fasting, kneeling for prayers in zero gravity or facing Mecca to pray.

After all, praying five times daily on a craft that goes around Earth 16 times a day would have meant praying 80 times in 24 hours. Also, it is virtually impossible to face Mecca continuously in a craft traveling at such high speed.

Muslims are required to wash their hands, feet, face and hair before prayers - a luxury on the Soyuz where water is so precious that even sweat and urine are recycled.

To get around these problems, 150 Malaysian scholars, scientists, and astronauts brainstormed and published an 18-page booklet of guidelines for Muslim astronauts.

If he follows the guidelines, Sheikh Muszaphar can forgo fasting in space and make up for it when he returns to Earth. He can pray three times a day instead of five, facing any direction, and he can do without the ritual washing.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Muszaphar told reporters his trip will be an inspiration for his Southeast Asian homeland as well as to other Muslims worldwide.

"It's a small step for me, but a great leap for the Malaysian people," he said, rephrasing Neil Armstrong's words after the 1969 moon landing.

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