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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spain's Xabi Alonso Keen To Avoid Brazil

Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso has declared that he fears no team at the World Cup finals in South Africa but noted that he would like to avoid Brazil until the latter stages of the tournament.

Alonso echoed coach Vicente del Bosque's sentiments by declaring that Germany look good after their four goal demolition of Australia on Sunday night but the Real Madrid star is confident la Furia Roja have what it takes to go all the way.

I have no fear of anyone, but if we can avoid to Brazil, all the better. If we avoid them now we could face them in the final. We believe in ourselves but the title is far away.

"We should go slowly, first Switzerland and then two games of the first phase and then there is still a long way to go ... I hope we do not fail as in World Cup's of the past," he is quoted as saying by AS.

We're here a few days now, soaking up the atmosphere of the World Cup and we can't wait to get started. We're seeing almost every game. I liked Germany, they have versatility and balanced players that know how to score."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Header shot

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Header shot

This is among the most common of goal-scoring techniques when the ball's airborne. It looks simple to watch on TV, but it's not as a header can be mistimed, missed totally or the contact could made on the wrong side of the head.

How to head the ball right? - Focus & ensure you hit the centre on the ball with the front part of your forehead (above the eyeline and below the hairline, i.e. with a typical hairline & not a receding one :P)

Other points to be kept in mind while heading include: keeping the eyes open, having the arms out and one foot forward for balance.

An offensive header needs power, will need one to stand-up tall & timed to perfection for a goal. Christiano Ronaldo gets it right on most occasions - here's a compilation

Dummying or Fake kick

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Dummying or Fake kick

When you can fake everything else and still score, why not a 'fake kick'. A fake kick or dummying in football is one where you trick your opponent into thinking that the ball is going one way but it actually goes the other way.

While one may not see such scoring shots too often but a 'fake' kick can be an extremely rewarding goal-scoring shot. Here, the goal-keeper and the defenders are most often sold to the dummy and hence it becomes difficult for them to recover in-time for the next shot.

Let's go back to soccer school and see how professionals do it. Watch the video closely

Bicycle (or) Scissor kick

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Bicycle (or) Scissor kick

The 'bicycle' or 'scissor' kick is arguably one of the most breathtaking kicks of all, visually that is. The legendary Pele was one of the pioneers of this 'extremely difficult to imitate' kick.

It's not just the tough, rugged Africans or Latinos who execute the shot well, even a 6ft 7in Peter Crouch can do it How to Scissor kick? - With your back to the goal, leap up in the air and extend your kicking foot to meet the ball airborne and fall backwards. Please don't try this at home, try it on a lush green football field. Know of any here?

Back Heel kick

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Back Heel kick

The 'back heel' kick may not look as spectacular as the 'bicycle' one but the result can surprise many including the player himself, i.e. if its executed well. Thierry Henry's back heel jab during his prime at Arsenal is one goal he will cherish forever.

Want to try the back hell? - For this you need to be well-balanced and be on the look for an opportune time to have a go at the ball with the powerful heel.

Be warned, if this kick's not executed successfully you could look foolish and may even be pulled up for a foul

Banana (or) Bend the ball kick

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Banana (or) Bend the ball kick

There are many players like Ronaldinho, Christiano Ronaldo & Steven Gerrard who excel in bending the ball or the banana scoring shot. But the one who is most popular and even has a flick named of after this kick is David Beckham.

How to bend it like Beckham? - For this particular kick, apart from the direction and the skill of the player concerned, you also need gravitational forces and the wind to plays its part. Also remember to try kicking the ball at an angle off the centre.

This kick, as Beckham would say, can only mastered by continuous practice.

Chip (or) Boom ball kick

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Chip (or) Boom ball kick
This kick requires exceptional power, skill, timing and precision - yes, all of these along with some good luck. Many players aimlessly kick the ball long but there are very few who score with such kicks.
We have a good boom ball kicker in Xabi Alonso, who has time and again proved that his kicks aren't a flash in the pan but brilliantly executed ones.
What is the 'boom ball' kick? - This is a long distance kick (can be as long as 70-80 meters away from the goal). To try the kick, you need to keep an eye on the goal-keeper's movement and when he's out-of-position surprise him by lobbing the ball into the goal.
If you're a physics student, there's a good chance you might be able to convert this.

Unlock the secrets of your brain

Friendly limits:

Friends are few, and that's true for the brain too. Even if you gather 5,000 friends on Facebook, your brain is only capable of managing only 150 friendships, say evolutionary anthropologists at Oxford University, UK. Blame it on the neocortex, the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language. It limits people to managing about 150 friends, no matter how sociable one is.

Age makes you smarter:

If you thought your brain stops growing after 25, think again. In fact, as you reach midlife-between age 40 and 65-you become better at things that you couldn't do when you were in your 20s. For instance, inductive reasoning and problem solving, arguments, sizing up a situation and reaching a creative solution. Social expertise also peaks and so does one's financial judgement, says a Harvard University study.

Water is good for grey matter:

Drink enough water and save your brain. That's the call from scientists at King's College, London. They have found that just 90 minutes of steady sweating can shrink the brain by as much as a year of ageing. Starved of water, grey matter is also forced to work harder to process the same information. But don't panic just yet; drink a glass of water or two and your brain will return to normal, say the researchers after scanning the brains of teenagers after an hour-and-half of cycling. The sweaty teens did just as well when asked to play a computer game that tests the ability to plan and solve problems. But the scans showed they had to use more of their brains to do it.

Sound of music:

Stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak can be trained to speak by singing first, say neuroscientists at the Harvard Medical School. Patients who responded with incoherent sounds were found to sing-recite addresses, communicate if they were thirsty and even moved beyond simple phrases, after the therapy. The underdeveloped systems on the right side of the brain that responds to music became enhanced and changed structures, say researchers.

Coping with MS at the workplace:

To mark the World Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Day on May 26, Multiple Sclerosis International Federation released a survey of MS patients in 125 countries: only 59 per cent of respondents were employed; 85 per cent mentioned fatigue as the most common problem; 75 per cent had mobility and nearly 50 per cent cognitive issues. It is clear that many with MS suffer at the workplace and, in some cases, because they do not receive the right information and support. The most common, if little understood, neurological disorder still eludes a total cure but proper treatment can reduce its severity. For more details, contact: Multiple Sclerosis Society of India, S-56, Panchshila Park, New Delhi-110 017; Tel: 011-41745069/ 26490087;

Indian-origin scientist has solution for oil spill

As BP struggles to contain the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an Indian-origin scientist from Texas University has created a special cotton fabric that can clean up crude oil up to 40 times its weight and help in cleaning efforts.

Seshadri Ramkumar, associate professor of the Texas Tech Institute of Environmental and Human Health, has created a non- oven environment-friendly cotton carbon absorbent wipes, Fibertect.

"Cotton fibre contains 0.5 per cent wax, which enables it to soak up 40 times its weight," Ramkumar said.

"The chemistry of cotton makes it the ideal material for oil absorption with its waxiness, strength when wet, absorption capacity and ability to biodegrade," explained Professor Ramkumar, who described his discovery as "a blessing in an ironic situation."

"The synthetic booms soak up only a third of what cotton absorbs and are not biodegradable. You take those plastics and where do you put them? In landfills. They will stay put forever," he added.

"Add chemicals and it could absorb up to 70 times its weight," he said.

Through his research with nonwoven cotton, Ramkumar may have found an all-natural way to absorb oil from spills.

Rather than spending money and effort on containment structures and synthetic materials, he recommends utilising cotton.

Ramkumar is surprised that why cotton had not been considered earlier, reported the A-J's Alyssa Dizon.

"We are the only my knowledge...focused on taking cotton to oil absorption using nonwoven technology," he said. Unlike apparel production, there is no need to go through the expensive processes of dyeing, bleaching and weaving the cotton.

Since the explosion of an offshore rig more than a month ago, scientists and London-based BP oil company have been trying various methods to contain or soak up as much oil as possible, largely with limited or no success.

One cotton product Professor Ramkumar invented last year was Fibertect, a commercially sold nonwoven decontamination wipe that absorbs toxic chemical substances.

This is significant because now that the oil has reached the coastline, the nonwoven cotton technologies potentially could be doubly beneficial.

"Any wildlife rehabilitation that will occur we believe could be assisted with the Fibertect invention as well as other nonwoven applications from his lab," said Ronald Kendall, founding director of Tech's environmental institute.

"There are just so many applications of Dr Ramkumar's technology to take cotton and turn into products that we never even thought of before," he added.

The potential benefits of Dr Ramkumar's research stretch far beyond helping preserve the environment from natural and man- ade disasters and raising Texas Tech's reputation in the higher education community nationally and internationally.

New opportunities for cotton are always good news for producers, especially if it will help them sell low-quality cotton, said Shawn Wade, director of communications for Plains Cotton Growers.

Several million feet of booms, lightweight tubes used to recover oil, have already been tossed into the ocean, according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.

What makes Fibertect different from other cotton absorption technologies, however, is its combination with carbon.

It is a three-layer design consisting of a top and bottom layer of cotton to absorb oil and a middle layer of carbon that absorbs hydrocarbons and harmful carcinogenic vapours released from the oil.

Ramkumar said his unique use of activated carbon fabric in oil clean-up is extremely beneficial because the toxic vapours could potentially destroy ecosystems and cause cancer in humans if they are not absorbed.

Ramkumar said he and other researchers are simply taking what nature provides and applying it in new ways.

"Mother Nature has given cotton wax to protect it," said Ramkumar.

"The natural wax on the cotton helps to hold the oil together. So, wax has affinity towards oil, and then the carbon has affinity towards vapour, it holds the vapour." Because Fibertect is all- atural, unlike synthetic plastic booms previously used to clean oil spills, it is 100 per cent biodegradable and one sheet can be wrung and reused up to five times.

According to, the only cleaning method currently being used by BP is dispersants, which is an aerial spraying technique.

The dispersant most commonly being used is Corexit EC9500A, which the Environmental Protection Agency has shown to be more toxic and less effective than other methods.

Ramkumar said the problem with Corexit EC9500A, besides the fact that it itself is toxic, is that it simply breaks down the oil into tiny particles which remain in the water and can be harmful to marine life and humans.

He said Fibertect eliminates this problem because it absorbs the oil rather than break it down.

Samples of Fibertect have been sent to be BP but no decision has been made on whether or not to use it.

Haldenby and Ramkumar said if they do decide to use it, this could be a big step towards a National Research University status for Texas Tech.