E-Newsletter - December 2012
Yoga Gives Back
For the cost of one yoga class, you can change a life.
Happy Holidays!!

SUCCESS STORY: YGB's global community's support is making a real difference in India!!
Yoga Gives Back volunteer team visited our local NGO partners and fund recipients in West Bengal and Karnataka. Here is part one of this trip's reports!!
NISHTHA: Tripuranagar Village, West Bengal

Young girls carrying back packs with “Yoga Give Back” logo and baseball caps with “Sister Aid by YGB” in these villages.
Abolish Child Marriage” campaign sign in a village wall, states YGB as a sponsor!

Mothers are making progress with their income earning work such as sari embroidery, puffed rice, mud ornaments, etc. Loan repayment rate is approximately 95%.

"This is the most innovative program," said Mina Das, Director of YGB partner NGO NISHTHA in West Bengal. In its second year, YGB's direct funding "Sister Aid" program now provides micro loans for 44 mothers in three groups in this remote agrarian area. It is innovative not only because it does not charge interest for the loans, but most importantly because it requires loan recipient mothers to save at least 50 Rupees a month for their daughters' higher education. Therefore, the ultimate goal for this loan and profit making is "girls higher education," which is unique in the field of micro loan practices.

Jala Clothing YGB T-ShirtsThis is particularly significant in this region, as it is still a common practice for girls to marry as young as 13 years of age. While walking through villages, we met many young teen mothers carrying babies who do not even know the age of their husbands.

"Sister Aid" also covers the education costs for 44 daughters' as well as the cost of private tutors to help them maintain the school standard. In addition to their studies, the girls are educated in health, hygiene, leadership and communication.

We are truly inspired to see how the support of YGB's global community is providing hope and solutions to deep rooted problems of poverty and gender discrimination.
Dr Patrice Braun (Prof. of Sustainable Development, Australia), Leslie Hendry (YGB Board, and Jane Connors (YGB Representative-North Carolina) made self-funded trip to join YGB President Kayoko Mitsumatsu in India to assess and further develop YGB programs with our local partners.

Patrice---"I found it rather difficult to pick a 'most memorable moment' of the trip as there were many moments I felt honored to join this remarkable program and group of women. There were the enlightening meetings with the village women and girls empowered by YGB, showing us both encouraging progress and overwhelming gratitude."

Leslie---"Meeting and seeing the women YGB supports first hand was special. Sitting down and listening to their stories, their hopes and dreams makes one realize we are all cut from the same cloth, different experiences and situations; but we all love and hope the best for our kids and families. In the villages, the communities are very intimate, not like suburbs in the U.S., for example. By meeting us, I feel the women experience the global community support from their friends and sisters on the other side of the world."

Check Leslie Hendry's poignant article on this topic published in Huffington "Move Over, China and India -- Meet the Third Billion"


E-Newsletter - December 2012 Yoga Gives Back 

Exciting News! "Thank You Mother India" Update

View NISHTHA View NISHTHA Over 100 events in 17 countries have taken place for this years' global campaign raising nearly $45,000!!! Help us reach our goal of $50,000 by the end of 2012!.

Host or donate from just one class or simply DONATE.

Thank you for all the generous world-wide studios and sponsors who have participated in this years' campaign. Click here for the updated listings.

YGB Ambassadors

YGB is excited to announce these Ambassadors joining our global team!

Beth Shaw
Yoga Fit,
Los Angeles

Mara Healy, YogaFlex,
North Carolina

Denise Walking
The Yoga,
Los Angeles

Jerusha Francisco,
Alberta, Canada

Ashtanga Yoga Confluence chose YGB as the sole beneficiary!!
Water Brazillian Yoga and Pilates The Confluence organizers have chosen Yoga Gives Back as a non profit beneficiary of this event and will donate 1% of its annual sales to Yoga Gives Back!!! We are truly honored and grateful for this opportunity from the global support of the Ashtanga community which has been crucial for our campaign and its growth. The confluence offers a unique opportunity for students of all levels to learn from master teachers of this profound and ancient system. February 28 and March 3, 2013 in San Diego with senior western students of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: Nancy Gilgoff, Dena Kingsberg, Tim Miller, David Swenson and Eddie Stern. THANK YOU!!
YogaFlex "Kindness Campaign", Charlotte, North Carolina
Water Brazillian Yoga and Pilates
YogaFlex has an ongoing (ALL the time, everyday) kindness campaign to support YGB! Buy a Kindness Card for $1 (every penny goes to YGB) and then use the card to buy someone a yoga class or donate time for them, or buy a book of their choice from our shelves.....Your kindness gives back to Mother India!”
What a great idea!!! Thank you YogaFlex and your community for your continued generosity which means a lot to our campaign.

YGB exclusive Tanks and T-shirts for sale at Jala
Jala Clothing YGB T-Shirts

YGB teams up with Jala to make popular Tanks and T-shirts available worldwide. Your purchase will help more mothers and children in India!!!

Morgan Stanley lists Yoga Gives Back as their Charitable Organization. Please tell your friend at Morgan Stanley as they will math 100% of an employee's donation.

Upcoming Events!

Water Brazillian Yoga and PilatesYoga Fit Mind Body Fitness Conference@Hilton Long Beach Executive Meeting Center , California

Sat. January 26th, 6:30pm; This Yoga Fit Conference will have a special hour to showcase Yoga Gives Back with video+talk, silent auction & refreshments. Proceeds will be donated for YGB.

Water Brazillian Yoga and PilatesUrban Om, Stockholm, Sweden

Every Thursday 14:30-16:30; launches Community Donation Classes for YGB, every Thursday 14:30-16:30.

Epic photographic odyssey that documented Native Americans [via Nina Reznick]

An early 1900s a photographer called Edward Curtis had a big idea: to capture on film the last remaining American-Indian tribes before they disappeared completely.

Backed by President Theodore Roosevelt and funded by financier JP Morgan, the charismatic Curtis spent the next three decades circumnavigating the United States documenting the customs of more than 80 tribes.

Ultimately Curtis took more than 40,000 photographs, preserved 10,000 audio recordings and is credited with making the world's first documentary film.

In his book Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, author Timothy Egan follows the pioneering photographer's journey.

He reveals how Curtis' obsession cost him his marriage and left him penniless.

Produced by Tracy Sutherland and David Botti

Additional photo/video: Getty Images, British Pathe, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, Edward S Curtis Collection, and courtesy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

More Food For Thought [via David Adashek]

 If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he's the famous Erudite (comic) scientist who once said:

"I woke up one morning, and all of my stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates."
His mind sees things differently than most of us do. Here are some of his gems.

16 - When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

17 - Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.

18 - Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.

19 - I intend to live forever... So far, so good.

20 - If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?

21 - Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

22 - What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

23 - My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

24 - Why do psychics have to ask you for your name.

25 - If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.

26 - A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.

27 - Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

28 - The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.

29 - To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

30 - The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.

31 - The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.

32 - The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.

33 - Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.

34 - If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

35 - If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

Dog Fetches Cat [via Katy Calhoun]

Door to Door [from Henry Harris]

History of this page: In March 2003, the MIT Synthetic Biology Working Group had brainstorming sessions to determine the potential applications of synthetic biology. The information here has been compiled from our wiki at that time.

Additions, suggestions, and improvements are very welcome!

Application Dimensions

Applications can be organized in various ways. We saw there being 2 orthogonal dimensions for categorizing applications: the level of engineering and area of interest.

Levels Of Engineering

Here are the Levels of Resolutions that a Synthetic Biologist could focus on.

    Molecular SB-1
    Pathway SB-2
    (intra)cellular SB-3
    (inter)cellular SB-4
    tissue/organ SB-5
    multicellular organisms SB-6
    multiple organism systems SB-7

Areas Of Interest

The numbers in parenthesis represent the relevant courses at MIT that we think are associated with the particular area.

    Fabrication: Synthesis (3,10) and Assembly (2,3,6)
    Computation & Signal Processing: (6)
    Energy Management: 1E,5,7
    Materials Processing: 3,5,10
    I/O And Sensing: 2, 6, 8, MAS (chemical and E/B fields)
    Mechanics 2
    Replication And Evolution: 7

Energy Production And Storage


    Humans that photosynthesize
    Photosynthetic oil factories
    Power supply
    Convert light to chemical or electrical energy
    Superefficient agriculture via altered nutrient uptake (nitrogen fixing plants, etc)
    Mechanical energy storage, in bio-molecular springs.

How do we get there?

    Use existing systems
        Plant photosynthetic genes

    What form of stored energy?
        ATP storage unit

New Devices And Assembly

    Plastic production with precise monomer order
    Carbon nanotube building/binding
    Collagen protein construction of molecular assemblies
    assemble small things
    Nanofabrication of micro and macro materials
    New biological pathways
    template independent DNA synthesis
    Biologically compatible miniature cameras

Molecular Medical Devices

    Medical Applications
    Reversal of Aging
    Disease Fighting
    Implantable living battery for medical device. out of electric eel cells.
    beneficial bacterial infections programmed to augment immunity, provide needed vitamins, etc.
    cells that circulate in the body (extension of immune system)


The number of bacterial cells in your body at this very moment is equivalent to the total population of your own cells. For the most part they are beneficial, preventing infection, aiding digestion, and perhaps even producing useful chemicals. These commensals, as they are called, have evolved with humans in a strongly symbiotic relationship. Clearly, our body is already conditioned to hold a vast army of prokaryotes to do its bidding. How can synthetic biology harness this potential?

Imagine a time in the not-too distant future. Elliott wakes up in the morning to get ready for work. After taking a shower, he examines his clean, clear face in the mirror, deciding that he can probably wait another month before re-applying the bio-spray that keeps his skin pores clean and renders shaving unnecessary. The spray contains skin surface bacteria engineered to eat dirt, oil, and dead skin, as well as dissolve the keratin in facial hair, while keeping the skin intact. They also prevent colonization by foreign bacteria that can cause infection of pores in skin, preventing acne. He looks at his old toothbrush in the medicine cabinet, and decides to throw it away. Ever since the dentist gave him the oral wash earlier in the year, he has had no use for it. The wash contained a population of bacterial cells programmed to vigorously eat and break down any stains or food residue, and dissolve plaque buildup. They also created a special biofilm which prevents other bacteria from colonizing, eliminating halitosis and gingivitis. Elliott decided to change his breath scent, and picked up a small pen light which he set to yellow and flashed in his mouth. A few minutes later he checked his breath. Faintly sweet and citrusy, very pleasant. The bacteria had been programmed to produce different aromatic compounds depending on the detection of specific pulses of light; the type Elliott had washed with gave him 7 popular scents to choose from.

Elliott walked downstairs to the table for breakfast. He had a bowl of cereal and milk, along with a spicy southwest omelette and some sausages. Eating was always an enjoyable experience. Elliott used to be wary of many foods, as he was prone to frequent indigestion, especially from spicy foods or dairy products. But since his visit to the dietician earlier this year, those problems were a thing of the past. After analyzing his symptoms, the doctor selected a digestive commensal from the Biobricks 3000 catalog which had been programmed for his needs. Now lactose and the irritating chemicals in most spicy foods were broken down with ease in his stomach, before they could cause any distress . An added benefit was that he no longer had to worry about food poisoning. The new commensals specifically targeted and killed any pathogens from a long list of possible food contaminants, and could even neutralize the toxins these bacteria produced. Elliott relished his new state of permanent gastrointestinal bliss.

Elliott then left for his exciting job at the screw factory. Little did he know that the PDKLHS (People's Democratic Republic for Lefthanded Screws) had sinister plans this very day. (to be continued)

What we need to do

Such consumer product applications require a significant amount of metabolic engineering, combined with tightly restricted control systems. The chassis for these systems are already in existance, as harmless commensal bacterial species already inhabit these areas of our bodies. Taking these as a starting point, we need to design metabolic pathways and physiology which defines a solution-specific molecular input/output. for example, the toothpaste bacteria must have a metabolism which is geared toward the "food" we designate; in this case, plaque or materials that can cause cavities. These metabolic systems need to be tightly controlled by regulatory and logic systems that allow for feasability; i.e., sufficient energy and nutrients must exist and be managed in the pathway for the bacteria to happily make its living, without the buildup of harmful intermediates or any other metabolic "dead ends". Finally, the system must be designed so that waste products are optimal for function. For example, sweet smelling molecules for fresh breath, or other harmless outputs. The thermodynamics and molecular economy of the cell will have to be tightly constrained to accomplish this.

Potential Problems

Replication is one problem that will need to be overcome. How to keep the number of organisms at an optimum, so as not to elicit immune response or get any "buildup", while still reaping the benefits? one possible solution would be incorporating quorom sensing. Other problems involve restriction of growth. You do not want an anti-shaving bacteria to start munching on your eyebrows. Therefore somehow spacial control must be strictly maintained, and I am unsure how this would be accomplished.


    Make intelligent chemical or bioreactors
    Dust eaters
    Total Material recycling to ideal output (controlled bioreactor)
    bacteria which break down waste and use it to create useful products
    break down of toxic chemicals to nontoxic components
    custom drugs
    in vivo drug regulated production

Biofilm Scrubbers

Many bacteria grow into colonies which form surfaces with specific properties, called biofilms. These films themselves can be viewed as dynamic materials which can be designed for various functions. One possible function that has been suggested is to generate a biofilm that forms an airtight sphere. The bacteria in this spherical biofilm matrix would secrete hydrogen gas into the sphere, producing a "balloon" which could float. I suggest that such free-floating biofilm spheres would be the perfect cleaners for air pollution. In highly polluted environments, the bacteria would scavenge the particulate sulfur, nitrogen, and carbon compounds out of the air, using them for energy and growth. Waste products would include hydrogen gas, which would be excreted to the inside of the sphere, keeping it afloat.

Life cycle:

These structures would start as a typical bacterial mat-like structure. As hydrogen is generated and secreted in between the layers, it will begin to swell until bouyancy takes over, and the mat floats away as a sphere. Questions:

How big will the biofilm structure have to be? it is biologically realistic? How will the spheres replicate? Is there enough energy and materials present in pollutants to power a Hydrogen producing metabolism, or will photosynthesis be required? Can a biofilm be engineered that can prevent the escape of hydrogen?

Programmable Devices And Control Logic

    Control cells
    build a molecular Turing machine
    create D/B and B/D converters (is this digital/bio?)
    signal propagation across cells
    programmable biological computers

How do we get there?

    What will be the software and user interface?

Ideas for D/B, B/D interface

    create synthetic synapses, as the wetware
        invert the config, with the voltage sensitive side at the cleft
    chip array of electrodes as the hardware

You Me Genics

    Human debugger (read/write)
    body as edit surface
    self repair bodies
    external human processing

How do we get there?

    Need to understand human genome extremely well
        How to build using compatible materials?

    What would the interface look like?
        Need a way to have inputs and outputs on cellular level
        Can we make cells that passively detect signals (like action potentials) without disturbing it?

    How do we get away from all the bad notions associated with eugenics?
        Need safeguards to prevent misuse

Programmed Organisms

    Controlled crop maturing (count days)
    chemically controlled pets
    changing behavior
    programmable pets
    biological robots
    syntho-eukaryotic cell
    consumer products

Smart Materials

    Smart paint
    living self-repairing materials (inhabited by colony of engineered cells)
    make materials (e.g. table top) that change shape on command


    smart sensors
    noise detection and manipulation
    use cells to read, process, output information
    detect arbitary substances
    self-reproducing chemical/radioactivity sensors
    detect biotoxins and encapsulate. flash when it does.
    responsive materials. oil lubricants by design/need
    specific detection of chemicals by proteins
    tools to measure concentration of protein in cell
    ecosystem debugger (read/write)
    single event/interaction detection (visualization)
    Intelligent Biosensors

Complex Assembly

    grow a house
    grow chairs like we grow corn (do we really want chairs?)
    build toys


    Take over Mars. And then Venus.
    And then Earth.

Food For Thought [via David Adashek]

If you're not familiar with the work of Steven Wright, he's the famous Erudite (comic) scientist who once said:

"I woke up one morning, and all of my stuff had been stolen and replaced by exact duplicates."
His mind sees things differently than most of us do. Here are some of his gems.

1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.

2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.

3 - Half the people you know are below average.

4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

5 - 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

6 - A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.

7 - A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.

8 - If you want the rainbow, you have got to put up with the rain.

9 - All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.

10 - The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

11 - I almost had a psychic girlfriend... But she left me before we met.

12 - OK, so what's the speed of dark?

13 - How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

14 - If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

15 - Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.

TO A KEEPER! [via Kayoko Mitsumatsu]

One day someone special will be gone.

And on that clear, cold morning,
In the warmth of your bedroom,
You might be struck with
The pain of learning that sometimes
There isn't any more.

No more hugs,
No more lucky moments to celebrate together,
No more phone calls just to chat,
No more "just one minute."

Sometimes, what we care about the most goes away.
Never to return before we can say good-bye,
Say "I Love You."

So while we have it . . it's best we love it . .
And care for it and fix it when it's broken .
And take good care of it when it's sick.

This is true for marriage .... And friendships ...

And children with bad report cards;
And dogs with bad hips;
And aging parents and grandparents.
We keep them because they are worth it,
Because we cherish them!

Some things we keep --
Like a best friend who moved away
Or a classmate we grew up with.
There are just some things that
Make us happy, No matter what.

Life is important,
And so are the people we know .

And so, we keep them close!

I received this from someone today
Who thought I was a 'KEEPER'!

Then I sent It to the people
I Think of in the same way!

Now it's your turn to send this to all those people
Who Are "keepers" in your life!

Thank you very much
For being a special part of MY Life!


Just can't give up on the 2012 apocalypse [via Nina Reznick]

A mountain looming over a French commune with a population of just 200 is being touted as a modern Noah's Ark when doomsday arrives – supposedly less than nine months from now.

A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.

As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.

For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the "upside-down mountain" – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.

Further, rumours persist that the country's late president François Mitterrand was transported by helicopter on to the peak, while the Nazis, and, later, Israel's Mossad, performed mysterious digs there. Now the nearby village is awash with New Agers, who have boosted the local economy, though their naked group climbs up to the peak have raised concerns as well as eyebrows. Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.

A grizzled man wearing a white linen smock, who calls himself Jean, set up a yurt in the forest a couple of years ago to prepare for the earth's demise. "The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another," he offers. "A new spiritual world. The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. Bugarach is one of the major chakras of the earth, a place devoted to welcoming the energies of tomorrow."

Upwards of 100,000 people are thought to be planning a trip to the mountain, 30 miles west of Perpignan, in time for 21 December, and opportunistic entrepreneurs are shamelessly cashing in on the phenomenon. While American travel agents have been offering special, one-way deals to witness the end of the world, a neighbouring village, Saint-Paul de Fenouillet, has produced a wine to celebrate the occasion.

Jean-Pierre Delord, the perplexed mayor of Bugarach, has flagged up the situation to the French authorities, requesting they scramble the army to the tiny village for fear of a mass suicide. It has also caught the attention of France's sect watchdog, Miviludes.

A genial sexagenarian, Mr Delord says: "We've seen a huge rise in visitors. Already this year more than 20,000 people have climbed right to the top, and last year we had 10,000 hikers, which was a significant rise on the previous 12 months. They think Pic de Bugarach is 'un garage à ovnis' [an alien garage]. The villagers are exasperated: the exaggerated importance of something which they see as completely removed from reality is bewildering. After 21 December, this will surely return to normal."

Masking his fears of what might happen on 21 December, Mr Delord jokes that he will throw a party and supply vin chaud and cheese. "I'm sure we'll have a little fete to celebrate that we're still alive," he smiles. "I suppose it's up to each of us to find our own way."

Color photos taken by Prokudin-Gorskii [via Nina Reznick]

Color photos taken by Prokudin-Gorskii, a Russian photographer, in the late 1800s and early1900s in several countries. (Color film was not commercially available until the 1930s.)
Prokudin-Gorskii used a three-plate camera with black and white film, each film exposed through either a red, green or blue filter. Then he printed each film on a single piece of special color paper through the  complementary filters of cyan, magenta and yellow, creating a color image on the paper. A tedious process that produces a color image that will last centuries and the B&W negatives also will last 
that long for reprinting.