Science and Technology for UPSC 2018

These the compiled science and technology notes for UPSC 2018

JANUARY 2017

  • BRIDGE

It is the Indo-Oman Air Exercise.   The fourth edition of BRIDGE is going to be held at Air Force Station at Jamnagar.   The Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) is participating with its F-16 Air defence fighters and this is the first time that RAFO F-16s are participating in an air exercise outside the Gulf Countries.

  • MEASLES-RUBELLA VACCINE TO ROLL OUT IN FEBRUARY

Three years after the national vaccine advisory body recommended the introduction of the measles-rubella vaccine (MR) in the Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP), the vaccine is all set to be introduced from next month in five states and Union territories as a part of the basket of preventive medications that every child born in India is entitled to. The UIP basket already has ten vaccines of which measles is one; once MR is introduced, monovalent measles will be discontinued.

About the disease:

Rubella, or German measles, is a contagious viral infection that causes a distinctive red rash. Though there are no statistics on its prevalence, the health ministry says the disease is endemic in India.

  • It spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes and can also be passed on from mother to the newborn.
  • Experts say more than two lakh children in India are born deaf, blind, or with heart or brain damage every year due to the congenital rubella syndrome.

THREE NEW ADDITIONS TO THE VACCINATION BASKET

The basket of vaccines in India’s Universal ImmunisationProgramme (UIP) was static for many years — until the entry of the Pentavalent vaccine [Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Hepatitis B, and Haemophilus B (HIB)], and Japanese Encephalitis vaccines.   There have been regular additions to the basket since. Two new vaccines — Measles- Rubella (MR) and Pneumococcal Conjugate — are lined up for launch in January and February respectively, and a third,Rotavirus Vaccine, will become part of the UIP in 5 states — from February.

What is Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV)?

PCV is a mix of several bacteria of the pneumococci family, which are known to cause pneumonia — hence ‘conjugate’ in the name. Pneumonia caused by the pneumococcus bacteria is supposed to be the most common.   Pneumonia and diarrhoea have long been responsible for the most child deaths in India — approximate estimates say pneumonia is responsible for about 20% of under-5 child mortality in India, of which half are of pneumococcal origin.

What is Rotavirus?

Rotavirus infections are the most common cause of diarrhoea in children. The rotavirus vaccine first became a part of UIP in April 2016.   An estimated 1 lakh children die every year of the disease.   The vaccine is currently being administered

in HP, Haryana, Odisha and AP. From February, it will be a part of UIP also in Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

  • After India, other South East Asian countries opting for fractional doses of IPV: WHO

According to a latest report by WHO, amid a global shortage of injectable inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) polio vaccine, countries in the South East Asian region have now opted for fractional doses of IPV, first adopted by India, to tackle these “challenging conditions”. WHO also observed that by introducing fractional doses of IPV, nations are not only saving vaccine cost but also not compromising on the protection that it provides to the children against polio.

  • INDIA-CERT SIGNS AN MOU WITH US-CERT

India and the US have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for close cooperation and exchange of information pertaining to cyber security. The MoU was signed between Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) and US CERT.

The MoU intends to promote closer co-operation and the exchange of information pertaining to the Cyber Security in accordance with the relevant laws, rules and regulations of each economy and this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.

Background:

Earlier United States and India signed an MoU in July, 2011 to promote a closer cooperation and timely exchange of information between the organizations of their respective Governments responsible for Cyber Security. Since, 2011 regular interactions between CERT-In and US CERT are taking place to share the information and discuss cyber security related issues. In continuation to the cooperation in cyber security areas both have renewed the MOU.

About CERT-In:

CERT-In (the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) is a government-mandated information technology (IT) security organization. CERT-In was created by the Indian Department of Information Technology in 2004 and operates under the auspices of that department.

  • The purpose of CERT-In is to respond to computer security incidents, report on vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices throughout the country.
  • According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.

INDIA BECOMES ASSOCIATE MEMBER OF CERN

India has officially become an Associate member of CERN with the Indian government completing its internal approval procedures in respect of the agreement it had signed with CERN on November 21, 2016.

An Agreement was signed in November 2016 to admit India to CERN as an Associate member. But India had to “notify CERN of its final approval for the Agreement to enter into force” and become an Associate member.

Key facts:

As an Associate member India will have full access to all data generated at CERN. As there are many experiments in CERN, there will be plenty of information available.

  • As an Associate member, India can participate in all experiments.
  • Also, whenever any CERN facilities get upgraded and go through maintenance, it will provide opportunities for Indian industries to participate. Indian industry will be entitled to bid for CERN contracts, which will allow it to work in areas of advanced technology.
  • Since Indian scientists will become eligible for staff appointments, it will also enhance the participation of young scientists and engineers in operation and maintenance of various CERN projects.

About CERN:

CERN is the world’s largest nuclear and particle physics laboratory, where scientists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the Universe by using the most sophisticated scientific instruments and advanced computing systems.

CERN is based in Geneva on the French-Swiss border. The CERN convention was signed in 1953 by the 12 founding state. India and CERN:

In 1991, India and CERN signed a Cooperation Agreement, setting priorities for scientific and technical cooperation. India and CERN have signed several other protocols since then. But India’s involvement in CERN began in the 1960s with researchers from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai participating in experiments at CERN. In the 1990s scientists from Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore too got involved in CERN experiment. Researchers from TIFR, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology and other institutes built components for an accelerator (LEP) and detectors (L3, WA93 and WA89). India was granted Observer status to the CERN Council in 2002.

  • CABINET APPROVES INDIA’S MEMBERSHIP IN THE INTERNATIONAL VACCINE INSTITUTE (IVI), SOUTH KOREA

The Union Cabinet has given its approval to the proposal for India’s taking full membership of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI) Governing Council. The move involves payment of annual contribution of US $ 5,00,000 to the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea.

Background: In the year 2007, with the approval of Cabinet, India joined IVI. India is a long-term collaborator and stake-holder of IVI. In December, 2012 the Board of Trustees (BOT) of IVI approved the formation of its new governance structure. As per the new governance structure of IVI, a member State has to contribute to the IVI by paying a portion of its core budget. Since India is classified in Group-I, it has to pay an annual contribution of US $ 50,000.

About IVI:

International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, South Korea, established in 1997 on the initiatives of the UNDP, is an international organization devoted to developing and introducing new and improved vaccines to protect the people, especially children, against deadly infectious diseases.

  • Created initially as an initiative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), IVI began formal operations as an independent international organization in 1997.
  • Currently, IVI has 40 countries and the World Health Organization (WHO) as signatories to its Establishment Agreement.
  • The Institute has a unique mandate to work exclusively on vaccine development and introduction specifically for people in developing countries, with a focus on neglected diseases affecting these regions.

GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP LAUNCHED TO PREVENT EPIDEMICS WITH NEW VACCINES

A global coalition to create new vaccines for emerging infectious diseases, designed to help give the world an insurance policy against epidemics was recently launched at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The coalition is named- Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.About CEPI:

CEPI, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, is a “public-private coalition that aims to derail epidemics by speeding development of vaccines”.

With an initial investment of US$460m, CEPI – the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will seek to outsmart epidemics by developing safe and effective vaccines against known infectious disease threats that could be deployed rapidly to contain outbreaks, before they become global health emergencies.

CEPI will initially target the MERS-CoV, Lassa and Nipah viruses, which have known potential to cause serious epidemics. It aims to develop two promising vaccine candidates against each of these diseases before any epidemic, so these are available without delay if and when an outbreak begins. CEPI will also scope out potential support for vaccines against multiple strains of the Ebola and Marburg viruses, and Zika.

To achieve all these goals, CEPI will need significant additional investment, and the initial CEPI funders are calling for other governments and philanthropic organisations to join them in helping to protect the world against future epidemics. CEPI is looking to complete its fundraising by the end of 2017.

CEPI also hopes to shorten the time it takes to develop new vaccines to protect against viruses that emerge suddenly as public health threats, as Zika did recently, by capitalising on exciting developments in adaptable vaccine technology and investing in facilities that could respond quickly to previously unknown pathogens.

  • DRUG DISCOVERY FOR GPCR SIGNALLING MADE EASY BY IIT KANPUR

Researchers have shown that the regulation of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) by new drugs can be simpler than generally thought — it can be mediated by engaging only the end of the receptor, which is called the tail of the receptor.

Significance of these findings: With this, discovering new drugs that bind to G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which are central to almost every physiological process in our body such as vision, taste, immune response and cardiovascular regulation, becomes easier.

Background: Nearly 50% of prescription drugs currently available in the market for the treatment of blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other human diseases target GPCR receptors. All these drugs bind to their respective receptors and either activate or stop their signalling.

What is G protein coupled receptor?

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse group of membrane receptors in eukaryotes. These cell surface receptors act like an inbox for messages in the form of light energy, peptides, lipids, sugars, and proteins.

How GPCRs operate?

Receptors found on the cell surface receive signals and transmit them to inside the cells. A part of the receptor is embedded in the cell membrane and the other part protrudes outside the membrane and inside of the cell.

The part of the receptor that protrudes outside the membrane changes its shape whenever a stimulus in the body binds to it. In response to this change in the outside part of the receptor, a corresponding change happens in the shape of the receptor that is positioned inside the cell.

This change in the shape of the receptor positioned inside the cell allows it bind to other proteins called effectors. These effectors cause specific effects in the cell, referred to as cell signalling, which leads to physiological changes in our body.

About the new method: General understanding is that effector proteins have to simultaneously bind at two sites — the tail of the receptor and the core of the receptor — for the drug to become effective in pulling the receptor inside the cell.

Through specific engineering of the receptor researchers basically disrupted one of the two binding sites, namely the core of receptor. They found that even without the second site, the protein was able to pull the receptor inside the cell by binding just to the tail of the receptor.

There is a key region in the core which the researchers genetically deleted thereby making the core of the receptor ineffective.

  • MESENTERY, THE NEW ORGAN DISCOVERED IN THE HUMAN BODY

Irish scientists have recently identified a new human organ that has existed in the digestive system for hundreds of years.

Key facts:

Named as the mesentery, the organ connects the intestine to the abdomen and had for hundreds of years been considered a fragmented structure made up of multiple separate parts.

Mesentery is a fold of the peritoneum which attaches the stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen.

During the initial research, the researchers have found that the mesentery, which connects the gut to the body, was one continuous organ.

Better understanding and further scientific study of the mesentery could lead to less invasive surgeries, fewer complications, faster patient recovery and lower overall costs.

  • KHANDERI – SECOND SCORPENE SUBMARINE READY

Khanderi, the second Scorpene submarine under Project-75 being built at Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai is all set to be launched.

Key facts:

Khanderi is named after the Island fort of Maratha forces, which played a vital role in ensuring their supremacy at sea in the late 17th century.

The state-of-the-art features of this Scorpene class submarine include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube-launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The stealth features will give it an invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.

The submarine is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force.

  • LIGO INDIA, MEANT TO STUDY GRAVITATIONAL WAVES, TO BE READY BY ’24

The LIGO India project is likely to be commissioned in 2024. The LIGO India centre, which will study cosmic gravitational waves, will only be the third one in the world. However, this would require Indian universities to churn out young researchers trained in the science, according to the announcement made by LIGO Laboratory.

About LIGO India:

The LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) is a massive observatory for detecting cosmic gravitational waves and for carrying out experiments. The objective is to use gravitational-wave observations in astronomical studies.

The project operates three gravitational-wave (GW) detectors. Two are at Hanford in the state of Washington, north-western US, and one is at Livingston in Louisiana, south-eastern US. The proposed LIGO India project aims to move one advanced LIGO detector from Hanford to India.

LIGO research is carried out by the international LIGO Scientific Collaboration (which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy) and the Virgo Collaboration in Europe.

LIGO India will be set up as a joint scientific collaboration between LIGO laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the US, and three lead Indian institutions, namely, the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, Institute for Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar, and Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore.

What are Gravitational Waves? Gravitational waves are the ripples in the pond of spacetime. The gravity of large objects warps space and time, or “spacetime” as physicists call it, the way a bowling ball changes the shape of a trampoline as it rolls around on it. Smaller objects will move differently as a result – like marbles spiraling toward a bowling-ball-sized dent in a trampoline instead of sitting on a flat surface.

Why they are useful? These waves will be particularly useful for studying black holes (the existence of which was first implied by Einstein’s theory) and other dark objects, because they’ll give scientists a bright beacon to search for even when objects don’t emit actual light.

With this, mapping the abundance of black holes and frequency of their mergers could get a lot easier.

Since they pass through matter without interacting with it, gravitational waves would come to Earth carrying undistorted information about their origin.

They could also improve methods for estimating the distances to other galaxies.

Why it is difficult to detect these waves?

The reason that gravitational waves have been so difficult to detect is that their effects are tinier than tiny. In fact, the signals they produce are so small that scientists struggle to remove enough background noise to confirm them.

  • WORLD’S FIRST STABLE SEMI-SYNTHETIC ORGANISM CREATED

Researchers have made a new ‘alien’ life-form with an expanded genetic code. The modified E.coli bacteria was made by scientists who introduced DNA molecules not found in nature to a common bacterium.

The E. coli bugs are able to grow and reproduce as normal despite containing two extra letters in their genetic code, paving the way for entirely new artificial life forms to be created.

The newly created bacteria now holds on to its human-created X and Y bases while it grows and divides, much like the natural A, C, G and T bases. The key, researchers say, was to tweak existing techniques.

  • GSLV’S CRYOGENIC UPPER STAGE TESTED SUCCESSFULLY

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Propulsion Research Complex has successfully conducted the stage level test of GSLV MK III’s cryogenic upper stage C-25.

The cryogenic upper stage of the GSLV is the large C-25, the most difficult component of the launch vehicle to be developed. It will be powered by the indigenously developed CE-20 engine.

  • NASA SELECTS 2 MISSIONS TO EXPLORE SOLAR SYSTEM’S ASTEROIDS

Aiming to find important clues to the earliest history of the solar system, NASA has announced two missions — one to explore Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids and the other to study a unique metal asteroid.

The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

About mission Lucy:

Lucy will visit a target-rich environment of Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids. Lucy, a robotic spacecraft, is scheduled for October 2021 launch. It is slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025. From 2027 to 2033, Lucy will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids.

These asteroids are trapped by Jupiter’s gravity in two swarms that share the planet’s orbit, one leading and one trailing Jupiter in its 12-year circuit around the sun.

The Trojans are thought to be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system, and may have formed far beyond Jupiter’s current orbit.

This is a unique opportunity because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionize the understanding of our origins.

About Psyche mission:

The Psyche mission will explore one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt – a giant metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, about three times farther away from the sun than is the Earth.

This asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core.

The mission will help scientists understand how planets and other bodies separated into their layers – including cores, mantles and crusts – early in their histories.

Psyche, also a robotic mission, is targeted to launch in October of 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, following an Earth gravity assist spacecraft maneuvre in 2024 and a Mars flyby in 2025.

  • ASTRONOMERS DISCOVER ‘POWERFUL COSMIC DOUBLE WHAMMY’ WITH HELP OF INDIA’S GMRT

By combining data from several telescopes around the world including India’s Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune, astronomers have discovered a cosmic double whammy unlike any ever seen before.

Key facts:

By combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in Pune and other telescopes, researchers found what happens when matter ejected by a giant black hole is swept up in the merger of two enormous galaxy clusters.

The two phenomenon have combined to create a stupendous cosmic particle accelerator. This cosmic double whammy is found in a pair of colliding galaxy clusters called Abell 3411 and Abell 3412 located about two billion light years from Earth.

Scientists determined that as the shock waves travel across the cluster for hundreds of millions of years, the doubly accelerated particles produce giant swirls of radio emission.

This discovery solves a long-standing mystery in galaxy cluster research about the origin of beautiful swirls of radio emission stretching for millions of light years, detected in Abell 3411 and Abell 3412 with the GMRT.

This result shows that a remarkable combination of powerful events generate these particle acceleration factories, which are the largest and most powerful in the Universe.

About GMRT:

The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), located near Pune in India, is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45 metre diameter, observing at metre wavelengths.

It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.

At the time it was built, it was the world’s largest interferometric array offering a baseline of up to 25 kilometres (16 mi).

One of the aims for the telescope during its development was to search for the highly redshifted 21-cm line radiation from primordial neutral hydrogen clouds in order to determine the epoch of galaxy formation in the universe.

  • CHINA SETTING UP HIGHEST ALTITUDE TELESCOPES CLOSE TO LAC

China is setting up the world’s highest altitude gravitational wave telescopes in a Tibet prefecture close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, with a budget of $18.8 million.

Key facts:

The telescope aims to detect the faintest of echoes resonating from the universe, which may reveal more about the Big Bang theory.

The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere.

It is expected to be operational by 2021.

The telescope will be located at Ngari. Ngari, with its high altitude, clear sky and minimal human activity is said to be one of the world’s best spots to detect tiny twists in cosmic light.

  • GM mosquito trials to control dengue, chikungunya launched

Outdoor caged trials by Oxitec to demonstrate the efficiency of genetically modified mosquitoes to suppress wild female Aedes aegypti mosquito populations that transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika were launched on January 23 in Dawalwadi, Badnapur, in Maharashtra’s Jalna district.

Background:

Dengue is estimated to infect 5.8 million people in India every year, costing the country over $1B annually. Outbreaks of chikungunya, a viral disease for which no treatment is available, have been increasingly reported in India. Both diseases are transmitted by local populations of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

  • VAMPIRE’ STAR CAUGHT IN THE ACT

India’s first dedicated space observatory, ASTROSAT, has captured the rare phenomenon of a small six-billion-year-old “vampire” star “preying” on a bigger celestial body. Scientists say the smaller star, also called a “blue straggler,” feeds off its companion star by sucking out its mass and energy, causing its eventual death.

Why is it called a vampire star?

The most popular explanation is that these are binary systems in which the smaller star sucks material out of the bigger companion star to become a blue straggler, and hence is called a vampire star.

The small star becomes bigger, hotter and bluer, which gives it the appearance of being young, while the ageing companion burns out and collapses to a stellar remnant.

About ASTROSAT:

ASTROSAT is India’s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe.

ASTROSAT is designed to observe the universe in the Visible, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum simultaneously with the help of its five payloads.

Astrosat aims at understanding the high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, to estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars, to study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond the Milky Way galaxy.

This mission has put ISRO in a very exclusive club of nations that have space-based observatories. Only the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia have such observatories in space.

  • SUCCESSFUL FLIGHT TEST OF AGNI – IV:

Agni-IV, the Long Range Surface to Surface Ballistic Missile with a range of 4,000 kms was successfully flight tested recently.

The missile is developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program.

Agni IV is nuclear capable, with a payload capacity of one tonne of high-explosive warhead.

The sophisticated surface-to-surface missile is equipped with modern and compact avionics to provide high level of reliability.

The most accurate Ring Laser Gyro based Inertial Navigation System (RINS) and supported by highly reliable redundant Micro Navigation System (MINGS), ensures the vehicle reaches the target within two digit accuracy.

The re-entry heat shield can withstand temperatures in the range of 4000 degrees centigrade and makes sure the avionics function normally.

The Agni-IV had undergone one failed and five successful tests over the last five years, with the last one being conducted in November 2015.

  • SUCCESSFUL TEST FIRING OF GUIDED PINAKA:

The Pinaka Rocket converted to a Guided Pinaka was successfully test-fired from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur recently.

The Pinaka Rocket Mark-II, which evolved from Pinaka Mark-I is equipped with a navigation, guidance and control kit and has been transformed to a Guided Pinaka. This conversion has considerably enhanced the range and accuracy of Pinaka.

The Guided Pinaka is developed jointly by ARDE Pune, RCI Hyderabad and DRDL Hyderabad. ITR Chandipur provided the range and launch support.

  • WHAT IS A ZERO-RATING PLATFORM

Zero-rating platforms offer free access to a limited number of sites through select telecom providers.

Those who wanted unrestricted access to the entire internet would still have to pay, but the poor would have access to a few useful sites offered by them.   Facebook’s Free Basics is an example.

FEBRUARY 2017

  • Blazars

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope has identified the farthest gamma-ray blazars, a type of galaxy whose intense emissions are powered by super-sized black holes.These luminous galaxies, known as blazars are the most distant ever detected and are expected to shed light on the cosmic evolution of black holes. Blazars constitute roughly half of the gamma-ray sources detected by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT).

  • Maharashtra government has decided to conduct cloud seeding experiment next three year to tackle the problem of frequent droughts in Vidarbha region.

 This programme will be coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and is part of larger

experiment of Earth Science Ministry to understand how clouds and aerosols interact and influence climate.

Cloud seeding

Cloud seeding also known as weather modification Technique, is an artificial way to induce moisture in the  clouds so as to cause a rainfall. In this process either  silver iodide, potassium iodide or dry ice (solid carbon  dioxide) is dumped onto the clouds causing rainfall.

Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune

It was formed in 1962 and is under administrative control of Ministry of Earth Sciences.

It is a premiere research Institute to generate scientific knowledge in the field of meteorology and atmospheric sciences.

  • The National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) have begun to frame  uniform guidelines on brain death  certification all over the country.

Brain death and organ donation

After being declared brain dead, a patient’s heart usually stops beating within some time.

This leaves only a small time to harvest organs.

It is at this time that the consent of the family is obtained.

  • NETRA

 First indigenously developed airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C) called NETRA, mounted on a Brazilian Embraer-145 jet has been inducted into Indian Air Force.

 NETRA has been developed by Defense Research and Development Organization.

 India has become only 4th such nation after United States, Russia and Israel that have developed such technology on their own.

 Currently Indian Air Force using 3 Israeli Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) which are mounted on Russian IL-76 heavy-lift planes. These Phalcon AWACS has a range of 400 kms and 360-degre coverage.

 Some of the important features of NETRA are:

Range of 200 kms (Capability to detect aerial threats from incoming aircraft and missiles).

240 degrees coverage (simultaneously scan the area on both sides of aircraft)

State of the art active electronically scanned radar.

Secondary surveillance radar.

Electronic and communication counter measures.

Line of sight and beyond line of sight data link.

Voice communication system and self-protection suit.

  • Ashwin

Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested its indigenously developed supersonic Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile called Ashwin from Abdul Kalam Island (also known as Wheeler Island) of the coast of Odisha.

Ashwin Missile, capable of destroying any incoming enemy ballistic missile at low altitude of 15-30 kms (endo-atmospheric), successfully destroyed the incoming missile at an altitude of 15 km.

 It is 7.5-metre long, single stage, solid rock propelled guided missile equipped with an inertial navigation system, an advanced computer and an electro-mechanical activator.

 Successful trial validates the reliability of India’s under development Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System.

 It places India in the exclusive club of USA, Russia and Israel that have full-fledged multi layered Ballistic Missile Defense  system.

  • Lagrange Points: Parking Places in Space

– A Lagrange point is a location in space where the combined gravitational forces of two large

bodies, such as Earth and the sun or Earth and the moon, equal the centrifugal force felt

by a much smaller third body.

– The interaction of the forces creates a point of equilibrium where a spacecraft may be

“parked” to make observations.

– There are five Lagrange points around major bodies such as a planet or a star. Three of

them lie along the line connecting the two large bodies.

The first point, L1, lies between Earth and the sun and gets an uninterrupted view of the

sun and free from the occurrence of eclipses.

India’s Aditya Satellite is placed at L1 point.

  • Non-fumigated wheat

– From March 31, 2017, the wheat imports to India must be fumigated with methyl bromide at the port of origin, else, the cargo would be disallowed from entering Indian shores.

What is fumigation?

– Fumigation is a method of pest control that completely fills an area with gaseous pesticides (or fumigants) that suffocates or poisons the pests within.

It is mainly used to control pests in buildings (structural fumigation), soil, grain, and produce.

– It is also used during processing of goods to be imported or exported to prevent transfer of exotic organisms.

Why is India insisting on fumigation?

– It is seen as the most effective way to kill all pests, insects and nematodes.

– Substitution is a costly proposition and a tricky one in colder climates.

– Instead of methyl bromide, aluminium phosphide can be used as a fumigant.

– But what can be done in 16 hours with methyl bromide takes three days with aluminium phosphide and the cost also increases three times.

plant quarantine order

– The Plant Quarantine (Regulation of Import into India) Order, 2003 has a stipulation that all imports of agricultural produce be fumigated with methyl bromide.

  • – However, the developed nations are agitated over this stipulation.

– The reason being Methyl bromide is forbidden in developed nations, and its use was restricted by the Montreal Protocol due to its role in ozone depletion.

– In the past, if fumigation is not done at the port of origin, the consignments can be fumigated at Indian ports on paying a penalty of around of $375 per tonne against the normal fee of $75 per tonne.

– But, from March 31, fumigation will have to be done only at the port of origin.

  • THE PSLV-C37 LAUNCHED 104 SATELLITES FROM 7 COUNTRIES.

The main payload was the Cartosat-2D, weighing over half the total weight.

The others were two Indian nanosatellites (INS-1A and INS-1B) and 101 nanosatellites

belonging to research facilities in USA, Kazakhstan, Israel, The Netherlands,

Switzerland, and the UAE.

– Most of the nanosatellites were from a California-based company, which called them “doves”.

– Russia’s Dnepr rocket carried 37 payloads in 2014. Therefore the current mission carried almost 3 times the record number of satellites launched in a single mission.

What is a Cartosat?

– Cartosat-2D is an Earth observation satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit.

– It is the fifth of the Cartosat-2 series of satellites.

– It is used to produce high-resolution images of the Indian landmass for applications like rural and urban management, coastal land use and regulation, monitoring of road networks or water pipelines, and for building various kinds of land information systems.

– A Sun-synchronous orbit is a geocentric orbit that combines altitude and inclination in such a way that the satellite passes over any given point of the planet’s surface at the same local solar time.

  • Ekuverin

– It is the joint military exercise conducted between India and Maldives. Held in  Belagavi, Karnataka.

  • Kamov 226T

– Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russian defence firms have finalized the Joint Venture agreement for collaboration in the production of light weight multi-role ‘Kamov 226T’ helicopters in India

– The Kamov 226T is a twin-engine light but multi-role chopper offers services for both military and civilian purposes.

– The helicopters will replace India’s ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak

  • ADHD

– Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neuro developmental type.

– It is characterized by problems paying attention, excessive activity, difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age.

– These symptoms begin by age six to twelve, are present for more than six months.

  • Scientists for the first time have successfully implanted world’s smallest pacemaker dubbed as Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) in a patient in United States.

The pacemaker about size of large vitamin capsule is for patients with bradycardia, a condition characterised by a slow heart rate, usually fewer than 60 beats per minute.

Key Facts

TPS provides the most advanced pacing technology. It was recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.It is one-tenth the size of a traditional pacemaker and is the only leadless (wireless) pacemaker approved for use in the US. It can be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart.Unlike traditional pacemakers, it does not require cardiac wires (leads) or a surgical pocket under the skin to deliver a pacing therapy.

  • WHEAT RUST

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), a United Nations agricultural agency has called for International collaboration on wheat rust to curb threat to global supplies.

According to studies produced by scientists in collaboration with FAO, wheat in Africa, Asia and Europe is increasingly threatened by fresh groups of wheat rust.

Key Facts

The studies have showed emergence of two new groups or races of both yellow rust and stem rust in various regions of the world.They highlight urgent need for early detection and rapid action to keep the wheat rust under control which spread rapidly over long distances by wind.

What is Wheat Rust?Yellow rust is a fungal disease which turns leaves yellowish and stops the photosynthesis. It is caused by the Magnaporthe oryzae fungus and was discovered in Brazil in 1985. The fungus attacks the leaf of the crop and eats its chlorophyll, thereby affecting the plant’s growth. It can cause up to 20% yield loss. In recent times, due to temperature rise caused by climate change has contributed to the spread of the fungus.

  • Scientists from US and India have found that consumption of litchi fruit on an empty stomach can result in very low blood glucose level and acute encephalopathy leading to seizures and coma, and causes death in Children in many cases. Litchi fruit contains the toxins hypoglycin A and methylenecyclopropyl-glycine (MCPG). Its consumption and skipping evening meals causes very low blood glucose level (less than normal 70 mg/dL) and acute encephalopathy in children.
  • Researchers from Sweden have developed world’s first heat-driven transistor, controlled by a heat signal instead of an electrical signal. This transistor has high sensitivity to heat i.e. single-degree temperature rise is sufficient to cause a detectable current variation. Its temperature sensitivity is 100 times greater than traditional thermoelectric materials.
  • Elon Musk-led electric car maker Tesla has unveiled the world’s largest battery storage plant in California. The plant consists of 396 Tesla powerpacks that can store 80 megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power over 2,500 households for a day or 15,000 households for four hours.
  • 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games medals to be made from recycled mobile phones.

Organisers of 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games have planned to make medals from recycled mobile phones to promote sustainability and reduce costs. For this Japanese public will be asked to donate old phones and small appliances to gather two tonnes of gold, silver and bronze required for making 5,000 medals.

  • India’s first dedicated space observatory, ASTROSAT has captured the rare phenomenon of a small six-billion-year-old vampire star preying on a bigger celestial body. The vampire star phenomenon is observed when smaller star sucks material (mass and energy) out of the bigger companion star, causing its eventual death. It is also called a blue straggler as small star becomes bigger, hotter and bluer, giving it the appearance of being young, while the ageing companion burns out and collapses to a stellar remnant.

About ASTROSAT

Astrosat is India’s first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory launched in September 2015. It is one of the major scientific missions of ISRO after the highly acclaimed Chandrayaan-I and Mangalyaan. It is placed at low earth equatorial orbit at altitude of 650 km. It has ability to observe celestial bodies like cosmic X-Ray sources and distant stars in different wavelengths simultaneously.

  • CRISPR/Cas9n : Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows

A team of researchers from China has successfully utilized an innovative form of the genome-editing technique CRISPR to insert a new gene into the cow genome, rendering the animals much more resistant to tuberculosis. Researchers used a novel version of the CRISPR system called CRISPR/Cas9n to successfully insert a tuberculosis resistance gene into the cow genome.

How was this done?

  1. the investigators inserted the NRAMP1 gene into the genome of bovine fetal fibroblasts—cells derived from female dairy cows—using the CRISPR/Cas9n technology.
  2. These cells were then used as donor cells in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (therapeutic cloning), where the nucleus of a donor cell carrying the new gene is inserted into an egg cell, known as an ovum, from a female cow.
  3. The ova were nurtured in the lab into embryos before being transferred into mother cows for a normal pregnancy cycle.
  • NASA’s Juno

NASA’s Juno spacecraft recently made its fourth flyby over Jupiter’s mysterious cloud tops. At the time of its closest approach (called perijove), Juno was at about 4,300 km above the planet’s cloud tops. Juno was launched in 2011 on a mission to study Jupiter’s composition and evolution. It’s the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo. Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit recently, after a five year journey. At the end of its mission, Juno will dive into Jupiter’s atmosphere and burn up — a “deorbit” maneuver that is necessary to ensure that it does not crash into and contaminate the Jovian moons Europa, Ganymede and Callisto.

  • Andhra Pradesh working on system to DNA-tag convicts

The Andhra Pradesh government plans to bring in legislation that will allow the State police and investigating agencies to collect and store DNA samples in a centralised database.

The Centre’s Human DNA Profiling Bill, 2015, was prepared by the Department of Biotechnology and the Hyderabad-based Centre for DNA-Fingerprinting and Diagnostics but is yet to be cleared by the Union Cabinet.

  • MEDICINAL PLANT:

Scientists have confirmed the multiple therapeutic properties of Neurocalyx calycinus used by the Cholanaickan tribe, one of the particularly vulnerable groups in Kerala, to treat inflammations and wounds.This medicinal plant is endemic to the southern parts of Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.

The presence of high Vitamin E content and potent cytoprotective activity in cell lines in the plant species have also enhanced the prospects of developing an anti-cancer drug.

  • Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

India and Norway have founded a Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to accelerate life-saving research and development for epidemics. CEPI has been founded by India (Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research and Department of Health) and Norway, Welcome Trust, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum in collaboration with industry, other governments, foundations regulatory bodies, civil society and the WHO. It will prioritise list of neglected diseases against which vaccines are most feasible to overcome barriers for development of vaccines.

  • E-pills

MIT scientists have developed a small battery that runs on stomach acids and could power next-generation ingestible electronic pills which may monitor patient health or treat diseases by residing in the gastrointestinal tract for extended periods of time.

  • DIGITAL TERRESTRIAL TRANSMISSION

The broadcast regulator Trai has recommended introduction of digital terrestrial transmission for broadcast services in a phased manner and complete shut down of analog transmission by end of 2023.There are a number of advantages of digital terrestrial television. The platform  can be adapted to handle new forms of content.Frequency use is much more efficient, allowing for the transmission of 20 to 30 SD channels in the spectrum occupied by a single television channel in an analog signal.DTT offers better quality of images and sound as compared to analog signals.A combination of DTT transmitters at a single location can provide consumers with a range of content options, including radio and video feeds of various qualities.The DTT transmitters have lower power requirements than traditional analog transmitters. The signals can be received easily by moving vehicles and mobile phones.Luxembourg was the first country to shift from analog TV in 2006. Countries in the Americas and Europe followed suite. China is expected to shift by 2018, and Brazil has plans to shut off analog TV towers by 2023.

  • Prithvi missile interceptor

India successfully test-fired what is hailed as a gen-next state-of-the-art interceptor missile from a defence base off Odisha coast recently, achieving a significant milestone in its ongoing Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme. The homegrown anti-ballistic missile, dubbed Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), travels at supersonic speed and is capable of destroying targets at a high altitude of more than 120 km in the exo-atmospheric region. India is the fifth nation in the world to have a robust Ballistic Missile Defence system. Other countries are US, Russia, Israel and China.

  • Scientists develop high-quality graphene from soybean

In a breakthrough, scientists have used the humble soybean to make the world’s strongest material graphene commercially more viable.

How was it developed?

Previously, graphene was grown in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases, requiring long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing.

Scientists at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have developed a novel “GraphAir” technology which eliminates the need for such a highly-controlled environment.The technology grows graphene film in ambient air with a natural precursor, making its production faster and simpler.

Graphene:

Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices.

These properties also enable thinner wire connections; providing extensive benefits for computers, solar panels, batteries, sensors and other devices. The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well. Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.

  • NASA discovers 7 Earth-like planets

US space agency NASA has announced that scientists researching outer space have found the existence of another ‘solar system’ – seven Earth-like planets orbiting a small star in galaxy 40 light years away – opening up the most promising hunting ground so far for life beyond. The Spitzer Space Telescope has found that the planets are as large as Earth and at least three of them are in a “habitable zone”. Almost all of them are rocky and three are likely to have water. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

Key facts:

This star system is less than 40 light-years from Earth, or 235 trillion miles away, in the constellation Aquarius. At the hub is a small, faint star known as Trappist-1.

MARCH 2017

  • Rossby waves,

Scientist recently discovered that large scale planetary waves that meander through the atmosphere high above Earth’s surface have been also found to exist on the Sun. From 2011 scientists had the unprecedented opportunity to see the Sun’s entire atmosphere fromNASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is placed between the Sun and the Earth.It was supplemented by measurements from NASA’s Solar TErrestrialRElations Observatory (STEREO) mission, which included two spacecraft orbiting the Sun.

  • NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have successfully located ISRO‘s Chandrayaan-1.

They used ground-based radar technology, i.e., sending microwave beams and listening to echoes, to track the lost device orbiting the moon. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost communication with Chandrayaan-1 on August 29, 2009, barely a year after it was launched on October 22, 2008.

  • The NGT has suspended the environmental clearance given to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) which was to come up in the West Bodi Hills in Theni district in Tamil Nadu. To be located 5 km below the Earth surface, this observatory would be used to detect and study neutrinos, one of the fundamental particles of the universe.

The order of the NGT has forced the INO to seek fresh environmental clearance, and approval of the National Board for Wildlife. The latest problem has been triggered by the NGT‘s assessment that the INO site lies at a distance of 4.9 km from a national park in Kerala Idduki district(Mathikettan Shola National Park), at least 100 m inside the 5 km radius beyond which projects do not need National Board for Wildlife approval. Under the guidelines laid down by the Environment Ministry, any project that falls within 5 km from an inter-State boundary or within a notified national park or a sanctuary has to be considered a Category ‘A’ project that involves a number of processes before an EC is granted.

In this case, the MoEF had called it a Category ‘B’ project, for which an Environmental Impact Assessment is not necessary, but the department processed it as an additional measure.

Neutrinos from the sun are falling on us by the trillions every second.

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said about how neutrinos could be used to recognize the signs of nuclear proliferation from a remote location. He also guessed how neutrinos could help in the search of dark matter and dark energy. 

About neutrino :Detected for the first time in 1959,

They are the second most abundant particles in the world, after photons.

These high-energy particles are produced in natural radioactive decays and all sorts of nuclear reactions happening in nuclear power reactors, particle accelerators or nuclear bombs.

But the most common source of neutrinos are celestial phenomena i.e., the birth and death of stars,

collisions and explosions happening in space.

The core of the Sun is an important source of neutrinos.

They are electrically neutral and almost massless, these neutrinos have an extremely low

tendency to interact with other objects. scientists have to go deep underground to set up special detectors in a bid to catch the faint signals of neutrinos in an environment that is relatively free from ‗noise‘ and disturbance.

  • WHO recently came out with its maiden list of antibiotic-resistant ―priority pathogens. A superbug is a strain of bacteria that has developed extreme AMR(Antimicrobial resistance) i.e become resistant to all available antibiotic drugs.

The superbug was first detected in 2008 bug was subsequently named after the Indian capital as New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase-1 (NDM-1). 

  • Leptospirosis

It is a zoonotic disease i.e spread from animals to humans, caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira.

It is commonly known a rat fever and it affects both humans as well as other animals.

The infection is generally transmitted to humans by water that has been contaminated by animal urine

which comes in contact with unhealed breaks in the skin, the eyes, or with the mucous membranes.

. Severe form of leptospirosis is known as Weil’s disease.

  • National Science Day is celebrated all over India with great enthusiasm on 28th of February every year in order to commemorate the invention of the Raman Effect in India by the Indian physicist, Sir ChandrasekharaVenkata Raman on the same day in the year 1928. For his great success in the field of science in India, ChandrasekharaVenkata Raman was awarded and honored with the Nobel Prize in the Physics in the year 1930.

Raman’s experiment:

The violet light of the solar spectrum is isolated with a violet filter and passed through the liquid sample. Most of the light emerging from the liquid sample is the same color as the incident violet beam: the so-called Rayleigh scattered light (the scattering of light by particles in a medium, without change in wavelength. It accounts, for example, for the blue colour of the sky, since blue light is scattered slightly more efficiently than red).

However, Raman, along with K S Krishnan was able to show that some of the scattered light was a different color, which they could isolate by using a green filter placed between the observer and the sample.

  • DRDO recently conducted the successful launch of the interceptor missile Advanced Area Defence (AAD) from Abdul Kalam Island, Odisha.

Key facts:

The AAD is part of the two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system developed by the DRDO, the research and development wing of the Defence Ministry, with the Hyderabad-based Research Centre Imaarat (RCI). The endo-atmospheric missile is capable of intercepting incoming targets at an altitude of 15 to 25 kms. The BMD consists of two interceptor missiles, the PrithviDefence Vehicle (PDV) for exo-atmospheric ranges and the Advanced Area Defence (AAD) missile for endo-atmosphere or lower altitudes.

  • Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory (DMRL), Hyderabad, a premier research laboratory of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Jindal Stainless (Hisar) Limited (JSHL) have signed the Licensing Agreement for Transfer of Technology of High Nitrogen Steel (HNS) for armour applications.

About High Nitrogen Steel:

High nitrogen steels (HNS) are a new class of high alloy martensitic, austenitic or duplex grades with up to 0.9 mass% of N in solid solution. They are applied e.g. to stainless tools and bearings, in chemical engineering and for high strength non-magnetic components.

HNS is not only tough but also has good strength. In addition to being non magnetic as well as corrosion resistant, the HNS cost is about 40% less compared to Rolled Homogenous Armour Steel (RHA).

  • Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently handed over three of its products for induction into the Indian Army.

The products are namely (i) Weapon Locating Radar (WLR), SWATHI, (ii) NBC Recce vehicle and (iii) NBC Drugs.

About WLR SWATHI:

Weapon Locating Radar (WLR), SWATHI, developed by DRDO’s Electronics & Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), provides fast, automatic and accurate location of all enemy weapons like mortars, shells and rockets firing within in its effective zone of coverage and simultaneously handles multiples projectiles fired from different weapons at different locations.

  • T6P

Using a novel route, an Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20% and also improve the resilience of wheat to environmental stress such as drought.

How was it done?

By using a precursor that enhances the amount of a key sugar-signalling molecule (trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P)) produced in wheat plant, the researcher has been able to increase the amount of starch produced and, therefore, the yield. The T6P molecule stimulates starch synthesis, which in turn, increases the yield. Since the pathway of T6P molecule is the same in other plants, the yield can potentially be increased by using suitable precursors.

  • Scientists have discovered a chemical in the zebra fish brain that helps reveal how it regrows its retina, a finding that can potentially cure blindness in humans. the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter, best known for its role of calming nervous activity, drop when the unique self repair process kicks in. Thus, blocking the chemical (GABA) could lead to new treatments for AMD (age-related macular degeneration), the most common cause of blindness and and retinitis pigmentosa.
  • artificial intelligence called “deep neural networks”.

These have been a major part of the game-changing technology behind self-driving cars and Go-playing bots that surpass human performance.  The deep neural network mimics the working of the mammalian visual cortex, known as convolutional neural network (CNN), which breaks the field into overlapping regions. The features found in each region are hierarchically combined by the network to build a composite understanding of the whole picture. Researchers have developed a “deep-learning” algorithm that can read the Indus script from images of artefacts such as a seal or pottery that contain Indus writing.

  • Scientists have found that a special sweet spot in the eye called ‘fovea’ plays a crucial role in humans being able to focus on computer screens and also read, an ability which is unique to Homo sapiens. Located near the optic nerve, the fovea is at its best for fine tasks like reading. Compared to the peripheral retina, however, the fovea is less able to process rapidly changing visual signals.
  • Coal Bed Methane (CBM) is an unconventional form of natural gas found in coal deposits or coal seams. CMB is formed during the process of coalification, the transformation of plant material into coal. It is considered a valuable energy resource with reserves and production having grown nearly every year since 1989. Varied methods of recovery make CBM a stable source of energy.

CBM can be recovered from underground coal before, during, or after mining operations. It can also be extracted from “unminable” coal seams that are relatively deep, thin or of poor or inconsistent quality. Vertical and horizontal wells are used to develop CBM resources. Extraction requires drilling wells into the coal seams and removing water contained in the seam to reduce hydrostatic pressure and release absorbed (and free) gas out of the coal.

India’s CBM potential:  Coalbed Methane (CBM), an unconventional source of natural gas is now considered as an alternative source for augmenting India’s energy resource. India has the fifth largest proven coal reserves in the world and thus holds significant prospects for exploration and exploitation of CBM.

In order to harness CBM potential in the country, the Government of India formulated CBM policy in 1997 . The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given its approval for marketing and pricing freedom to the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) Contractors to sell the CBM at Arm’s Length Price in the domestic market. According to the policy, while discovering the market price for Arms Length Sales, the Contractor has to ensure a fully transparent and competitive process for sale of CBM with the objective that the best possible price is realized for the gas without any restrictive commercial practices.

  • Li-Fi,

Scientists have developed a new wireless Internet based on infrared rays that is reportedly 100 times faster than existing Wi-Fi networks. A light-based system, also known as ‘Li-Fi,’ could make wireless networks much more secure.Current Wi-Fi uses radio signals with a frequency of 2.5 or five gigahertz. The new system uses infrared light with wavelengths of 1,500 nanometres and higher. The wireless network not only has a huge capacity — more than 40 Gigabits per second (Gbit/s) — but does away with the need to share Wi-Fi as every device gets its own ray of light. The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, which can be mounted on the ceiling, that are able to precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fibre. The antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’). Changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. A safe infrared wavelength is used that does not reach the retina in the eye. If a user is walking about and a smartphone or tablet moves out of the light antenna’s direction, then another light antenna takes over. The network tracks the precise location of every wireless device using its radio signal transmitted in the return direction. Different devices are assigned different wavelengths by the same light antenna and so do not have to share capacity.

  • Indigenously developed hypersonic wind tunnel and shock tunnel, the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world, have been commissioned at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).thumba Trivandrum keraLA.
  • Scientists in Germany have switched on what is being described as the world’s largest artificial sun – a device they hope will help shed light on new ways of making climate-friendly fuels.

The giant honeycomb-like set-up of 149 spotlights – officially known as Synlight– in Juelich, about 20 miles west of Cologne, uses xenon short-arc lamps.

The aim of the experiment is to come up with the optimal setup for concentrating natural sunlight to power a reaction to produce hydrogen fuel.

Trade Mark Rules 2017

The Trade Mark Rules, 2017 have been notified by the government. These Rules, which replace the erstwhile Trade Mark Rules 2002, will streamline and simplify the processing of Trade Mark applications.

Some salient features of the revamped Rules are as follows:

Number of Trade Mark (TM) Forms have been reduced from 74 to 8.

To promote e-filing of TM applications, the fee for online filing has been kept at 10% lower than that for physical filing.

Based on stakeholders feedback, the fees for Individuals, Start-ups and Small Enterprises have been reduced from that proposed in the draft Rules – i.e. only Rs 4,500 as against Rs 8,000 for e-filing of TM applications proposed at the draft stage.

Modalities for determination of well-known trademarks have been laid out for the first time.

The provisions relating to expedited processing of an application for registration of a trade mark have been extended right upto registration stage (hitherto, it was only upto examination stage).

Over all fees have been rationalized by reducing the number of entries in Schedule I from 88 to just 23.

Modalities for service of documents from applicants to the Registry and vice-versa through electronic means have been introduced to expedite the process; e-mail has been made an essential part of address for service to be provided by the applicant or any party to the proceedings so that the office communication may be sent through email.

Hearing through video conferencing has been introduced.

The Trade Marks Registry was established in India in 1940 and presently it administers the Trade Marks Act, 1999 and the rules made thereunder. It acts as a resource and information Centre and is a facilitator in matters relating to trademarks in the country.

  • NASA’s ‘Europa Clipper’ set to launch in the 2020s will probe the habitability of Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.
  • The GRAPES-3 experiment at TIFR’s Cosmic Ray Laboratory in Ootacamund in Tamil Nadu is getting upgraded. The telescope made news last year when it detected the effect of a solar storm that hit the earth in June 2015. The GRAPES-3 experiment (or Gamma Ray Astronomy PeVEnergieS phase-3) located at Ootyin India started as a collaboration of the Indian Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Japanese Osaka City University, and now also includes the Japanese Nagoya Women’s University.
  • BROWN DWARFS

Brown dwarfs are intermediate between planets and fully-fledged stars. The mass of brown dwarfs is too small for full nuclear fusion of hydrogen to helium (with a consequent release of energy) to take place, but they are usually significantly more massive than planets.

  • India generates 5 Lakh tonnes of E-waste annually and is the fifth largest producer of e-waste globally. Indian Institute of Science (IISc) researchers have found a novel way to recycle the mounting pile of electronic waste more efficiently and in an environmentally friendly manner.The new approach is based on the idea of crushing e-waste into nanosize particles using a ball mill at very low temperature ranging from -50 to -150 degree C.

 This way of recycling does not require chemicals to separate different metals.

 The crushed material when mixed with water helps to separate different metals by using gravity.

 Unlike the present techniques, it helps to segregate the metals in one phase making the recycling process much simpler.

 Although, it uses high energy, it is scalable and environment friendly.

  • In March 2017, Scientists of Large Hadron Collider accelerator at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) found five new sub-atomic particles.

 The newly discovered particles are high-energy versions of the omega-c baryon, a particle made up of two strange quarks and one charm quark

 Omega-c-zero is a part of the same family of protons and neutrons, the so-called baryons, because they have three quarks, the fundamental building blocks of matter.

 These particle states are named, according to the standard convention, Omega-c-zero (3000), Omega-c-zero (3050), Omega-c-zero (3066), Omega-c-zero (3090) and Omega-c-zero (3119). The numbers indicate their masses in megaelectronvolts (MeV).

 Characteristic numbers are used to identify the properties of a specific particle and the determination of their theoretical significance.

  • Orchid owners of Himachal Pradesh have, recently, installed the anti-hail storm gun through collective mobilisation of funds.

An anti-hail cannon is a shock wave generator intended to disrupt the formation of hailstones in the atmosphere in the beginning stage.

 An explosive charge of acetylene gas and air is fired in the lower chamber of the machine and the resulting energy passes through the neck and develops a shock wave.

 The shock wave travels at the speed of sound through cloud formations. It splits up the ice bearing layers of the cloud and it is observed that it either comes down as rain or a thin sleet that does not damage the fruit.

  • Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL)

NASA is planning to send an experimental instrument called Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) on board SpaceX CRS-12 to International space Station to create coldest spot known in the universe.

Aim of the experiment is to study matter at temperatures far below anything found naturally.

About Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL)

This ice chest-sized box has been developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The box will have lasers, a vacuum chamber and an electromagnetic “Knife” to cool atoms to 100 Pico Kelvin (one ten-billionth of a degree above absolute zero). At such low temperature all activities of atom theoretically stops.  When atoms are cooled to such low temperatures, they form a distinct form of matter called Bose-Einstein condensate. In such state matter behave less like particles and more like waves. Observing atoms in Bose-Einstein condensate form in earth is extremely difficult because of gravity which continuously pulls the atoms towards the ground. This prevents atoms from holding on to

their wavelike form for longer period to be observed.  However in space ultra-cold atoms can hold on to their wave likeforms longer because of no gravity. Studying these hyper-cold atoms will provide new insights intodark matter and gravity.  Better understanding of superfluids may help in more efficient

transfer of energy.

  • It was revealed that Uber used Greyball, a tool to systematically deceive law enforcement officials in cities where its service violated regulations.

About Greyball

 It is a software tool which Uber designed to help it identify users who violate the terms of service of its app, preventing them from securing rides.

 Uber used this tool to avoid authorities in markets where its service faced resistance by law enforcement or was banned.

 The tool allowed Uber to show images of “ghost” Uber cars on the app or show that no cars were available.

 Greyball used geolocation data, credit card information, social media accounts and other data points to identify individuals they suspected of working for city agencies and blocking their request so that they cannot fine the cab when it reaches to pick them up after booking.

  • The Delhi High court allowed generic drug manufacturers to export patented drugs for the purposes of development, clinical trials and regulatory clearances.

Background

 Bayer had moved the high court to restrain two Indian pharmaceutical companies from exporting generic versions of drugs abroad-

Against Natco Pharma from selling invention Sorafenib, used in treatment of kidney cancer

Against Alembic from selling Rivaroxaban, which is a blood thinner.

 Bayer’s argument was that the compulsory licenses granted for production of these two drugs were for sale within India only and not abroad.

Judgement

 The court noted that Section 107A of the Patents Act permitted sale of a patented product during the term of the patent but only for the purpose of obtaining regulatory approvals for making and marketing the patented product after the expiry of the patent.

 Section 107A of the Patents Act explains what will not constitute infringement of a patent, and includes selling of a patented invention for the purposes of development.

 The Court also held that absence of law in the destination country to ensure that patented drug is used for the purpose it was originally exported cannot become a ground for barring manufacturing and exporting of a drug.

 The judgement will help Indian drug companies to get regulatory approval before the end of the patent duration.

APRIL 2017

  • human papillomavirus (HPV) trial in India

A long-drawn legal battle over collusion by the Health Ministry with international NGOs to test experimental drugs onIndians has landed before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.

In 2009, a prominent international NGO had launched a $3.6 million human papillomavirus (HPV) trial in India and tested two vaccines on 16,000 tribal girls in A.P. and Gujarat, apparently without informed consent from the girls‘ parents.

After allegations were made that the girls had suffered adverse effects, the 72nd Parliamentary Standing

Committee Report, implicated the DCGI for licensing the vaccines without adequate research on safety and efficacy; the Health Ministry for not questioning violations in the licensing process; the ICMR for promoting adrug even before it was approved and the NGO for setting up a trial without following basic protocol.

The committee found commercial interests were influencing government policy, and that authoritiesacted as willing facilitators to the foreign institutions.

The committee recommended that henceforth, trials ought to be conducted only in the 330 medical colleges thathave emergency facilities.

It also sought an investigation into the illegal approval of drugs and of doctors who submitted ‗ghost letters‘recommending drugs for approval.

The NGO and the drug companies involved have dismissed the allegations as baseless and oppose the court‘sreliance on the report.

Because of a legal hurdle, the parliamentary report cannot even be looked at by the Supreme Court. Thus, the issue was referred to a Constitution Bench this week.

In 2005, an important change in the Drugs and the Cosmetics Act allowed phase II trials (where the efficacyand safety of an experimental drug is tested) for the first time in India.

It allowed drugs discovered abroad by multinational pharmac companies to be tested on Indians.

But clinical trials in India have been accompanied by large-scale criminality as doctors, officials and pharmacompanies understand well enough that India is a cesspool of corruption where clearances can be had for apittance.

While there have been many cases since, the underbelly of India‘s clinical trial industry came to the spotlight in2005 when 3,300 patients were subjected to 90 clinical trials that followed no protocols at a hospital in MadhyaPradesh.

In American law, such violations automatically attract the criminal charge of battery. In India, the poor don‘tcount at all.

Clinical trials ought to be done under calibrated statutory regimes. But, despite several crimes of enormousproportion where the poor are tested as guinea pigs, nothing has ever been done.

  • Vigyan 2030: Science and Technology as the Pivot for Jobs, Opportunities and National Transformation.

top administrators in Indian science submitted a detailed project report to Prime Minister

Narendra Modi.

The report said: that the stature of Indian science is a shadow of what it used to be because of decades ofmisguided interventions.We have lost self-confidence and ambition and the ability to recognise excellence amongst our own and we oftenchose the mediocre at every level.One of its key recommendations is to have an independent science and technology authority that will have two parallel arms.SPARK (Sustainable Progress through Application of Research and Knowledge), as the body is tentatively named,will be overarching yet have ―light touch governance.

A discovery arm: that can organise the expertise of various organisations across states and regions to solve abasic research problem.

A delivery arm: that will closely work with industry and evolve public private partnerships.

Such an authority will directly report to the Prime Minister.

 

 

  • Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract which is considered to be one of the lifethreateninginfectious diseases.The virus can be transmitted by direct contact with infected individuals, via contaminated objects. An unexpected emergence of a new and highly virulent influenza virus strains can result in a world-widepandemics with high morbidity and mortality – such as the ―avian flu‖ in 1997 and ―swine flu‖ in 2009.

the types of Influenza?

Influenza is caused by three types of RNA viruses called influenza types A, B and C (considered different genera),which all belong to the family Orthomyxoviridae.

The disease, colloquially called “flu” in humans, is generally caused by the viruses A and B.

Subtypes of influenza A and B viruses can be further characterized into strains. There is a plethora of differentstrains of influenza B viruses and of influenza A subtypes, and new strains of influenza viruses can appear andreplace older strains.

Influenza type A viruses are known to infect people, birds, pigs, horses, whales, seals and other animals, but wildbirds represent the natural hosts for these viruses.

Only a fraction influenza A subtypes (i.e. H1N1, H1N2 and H3N2) are currently in general circulation amongpeople.

Influenza B viruses are responsible the same spectrum of disease as influenza A. And, influenza B viruses donot cause pandemics.

Influenza C viruses are different in comparison to influenza A and B. They cause a mild respiratory illness and arenot thought to cause epidemics.

Why have H1N1 cases shot up?

The spread of influenza virus declines when the temperature shoots up.

But this year, despite the summer temperature crossing 40 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country, the number of H1N1 cases and occasional deaths have not stopped.

According to the WHO, since December 2016, H1N1, H3N2 and Influenza B have been circulating in

India.

During September 2016-February 2017, H3N2 has been predominant in most countries, with only ―low levels ofthe H1N1 viruses circulating in the northern hemisphere, says the WHO.

H1N1 had claimed 160 lives in the country between January 1 and March 26, 2017. The highest number of deaths was reported from Maharashtra.

 

  • Aspergillus tubingensis is a fungus, which ordinarily lives in the soil. In laboratory trials, the researchers found that it also grows on the surface of plastics. It secretes enzymes onto the surface of the plastic, and these break the chemical bonds between the plastic molecules, or polymers. The fungus was found in Pakistan.

 

  • scientists have developed ‘grassoline’ — a biofuel derived from grass that could one day power aircraft. Researchers investigated methods that can disintegrate and treat grass until it can be used as a fuel. Due to its vast abundance, grass is the perfect source of energy.

 

How was it done?

To improve its biodegradability, the grass is pre-treated at first.

Then bacteria are added which convert the sugars in the grass into lactic acid and its derivatives.

This lactic acid can serve as an intermediate chemical to produce other compounds such as biodegradable plastics (PLA) or fuels.

The lactic acid was then converted into caproic acid, which was further converted into decane. Decane can be used in aviation fuel.

 

  • The High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) has completed the much-awaited ‘rolling-in’ of the Belle-II experiment in Tsukuba, Japan.

Belle II is an upgraded detector to allow the experiment to record the enormous numbers of particle processes that are produced by the SuperKEKB accelerator.

This experiment is designed to study violations of the Standard Model and dark matter. The Belle II experiment will accumulate 50 times more data than the previous experiment, Belle, and pursue violations of the symmetry between particles and anti-particles as well as new laws of physics. It is a grand collaboration of 700 scientists from 23 countries. Belle-II has a significant Indian participation both on experimental and theoretical sides.

 

  • Oxytocin, often referred to as “the love hormone,” is involved in a broader range of social interactions than previously understood.

Key facts:

The new study pinpoints a unique way in which oxytocin alters activity in a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens, which is crucial to experiencing the pleasant sensation neuroscientists call “reward.”

Oxytocin has also been dubbed the hug hormone, cuddle chemical, moral molecule, and the bliss hormone due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and in female reproductive biological functions in reproduction.

Oxytocin is a hormone that is made in the brain, in the hypothalamus. It is transported to, and secreted by, the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. It acts both as a hormone and as a brainneurotransmitter. The release of oxytocin by the pituitary gland acts to regulate two female reproductive functions: Childbirth and Breast-feeding.

 

  • frog species-Hydrophylax bahuvistara

Researchers have found that skin mucus secreted by a colourful, tennis ball-sized frog species-Hydrophylax bahuvistara, found in Kerala can be used to develop an anti-viral drug that can treat various strains of flu.

Key facts:

The secretion from frog contains peptide, or chain of amino acids. The researchers have named the newly identified peptide “urumin” after the urumi, a sword with a flexible blade that snaps and bends like a whip. Urumin is not toxic to mammals, but “appears to only disrupt the integrity of flu virus”. It seems to work by binding to a protein that is identical across many influenza strains, and in lab experiments, it was able to neutralise dozens of flu strains.

 

  • Indian Navy recently successfully test fired BrahMos Land Attack Supersonic Cruise Missile from a ship. This variant of Long Range BrahMos Missile was fired from Indian Naval Ship Teg, a Guided Missile Frigate, on a target on land.

Key facts:

BrahMos Missile has been jointly developed by India and Russia, and its Anti Ship variant has already been inducted into Indian Navy.Land Attack variant of BrahMos Missile provides Indian Naval Ships the capability to precisely neutralise selected targets deep inland, far away from coast, from stand-off ranges at sea. The missile has a range of 400km.

 

  • carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles

Researchers have developed thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness about 50 times higher than copper films, currently being used in electronics.

How was it prepared?

Tough nano-architectured conductive textile are made by capillary splicing of Carbon nanotubes.

Beginning with catalyst deposited on a silicon oxide substrate, vertically aligned carbon nanotubes were synthesised via chemical vapour deposition in the form of parallel lines of 5 micrometre wide, 10 micrometre in length, and 20-60 micrometre in heights.

 

  • artificial womb filled with clear liquid

Scientists have successfully tested an artificial womb filled with clear liquid on pre-natal lambs.

A fluid environment is critical for foetal development. The foetus — breathing liquid, as it would in the womb — lies in a clear-plastic sack filled with a synthetic amniotic fluid. It is designed to continue what naturally occurs in the womb. The umbilical cord is attached via tubes to a machine outside the bag, which removes CO2 and adds oxygen to blood passing through it. There are no mechanical pumps — it is the foetus’ heart that keeps things moving. Sheep have long been used in experiments for prenatal treatment, especially because lung development is highly similar.

 

  • Researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) developed the nickel-zinc (Ni-Zn) batteries in which a three-dimensional Zn “sponge” replaces the powdered zinc anode, or positively charged electrode, traditionally used. Previous zinc-based rechargeable suffer from a major drawback: Repeated cycles of charging and discharging cause zinc atoms to pile up on one of the electrodes. That causes the growth of “dendrites,” tiny zinc spears that can pierce other parts of the battery, causing it to short-circuit and fail.

 

Space

v  Scientists say they have detected an atmosphere around an Earth-like planet for the first time. Scientists studied a world known as GJ 1132b, which is 4-times the size of our planet and lies 39 light years away.

 

v  NASA has made the next big announcement about Saturn: The Cassini team found evidence of hydrothermal vents on Enceladus’s ocean floor. Hydrothermal vents are fissures in the rocky core of Enceladus. They release water that has been heated by geothermal activity, and the jets of hot water carry minerals and nutrients that could support life.

v  China’s first cargo spacecraft-Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft, docked successfully with the Tiangong-2 space lab recently, marking a major step towards Beijing’s goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.

About Tiangong-2:

The Tiangong-2 space laboratory, or Heavenly Palace 2, was home to two astronauts for a month last October in China’s longest ever manned space mission.

v  The United States believes the Syrian government employed a sarin-like nerve agent in recent deadly attack in the country’s northwest. Originally conceived as a pesticide, sarin was used by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime to gas thousands of Kurds in the northern town of Halabja in 1988. Inhaled or absorbed through the skin, the gas kills by crippling the respiratory center of the central nervous system and paralysing the muscles around the lungs.

What is Space Debris/Orbital Debris?  Space debris encompasses both natural (meteoroid) and artificial (man-made) particles. Meteoroids are in orbit about the sun, while most artificial debris is in orbit about the Earth. Hence, the latter is more commonly referred to as orbital debris.

Kessler syndrome The term is associated with Space Debris, which used to describe a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris in LEO (Low Earth Orbit). In April 2017, various space agencies such as NASA, European Space Agency in Washington raised the concern regarding increasing space debris.

Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, and Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) advocates Global mitigation measures takes many forms ; including preventing the creation of new debris, designing satellites to withstand impacts by small debris, and improving operational procedures such as using orbital regimes with less debris, and predicting and avoiding collisions.

Committee on the peaceful uses of Outer space  It is an ad-hoc committee under United Nation set up by the General Assembly in 1959 to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity: for peace, security and development.  The committee encouraging space research programmes, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space

International Space debris Committee It is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space to facilitate opportunities for cooperation in space debris research, to review the progress of ongoing cooperative activities, and to identify debris mitigation options.

NASA has successfully launched its stadium sized super-pressure balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand  This is the third consecutive year when NASA launched the long-duration, heavy-lift super-pressure balloon. About Super Pressure Balloon Technology  The balloon is made from polyethylene film which is stronger and more durable with a potential to float continuously for 100 or more days in the southern hemisphere’s mid-latitude band.  It also carries a payload (cosmic ray fluorescence detector) weighing 2495 kg by International Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB).  Themain purpose of this mission is to test and validate super pressure balloon technology having long duration flight.  The detector will also help in detecting high energy cosmic rays originating from outside our galaxy system which when interact with nitrogen molecules present in earth’s atmosphere creates a UV Fluorescene lights. This will help in solving the source of these mysterious high energy particles

 

 

Defence

v  With aim to match the pace of fast changing nature of war, the ministry of defence has released the Joint Doctrine of Armed Forces stressing on the need for synergy amongst the three Services namely Army, IAF and Navy and hone strategy for inter-operability to achieve the political and military objectives in an effective manner.

This doctrine is the second in the series after its first version was released in 2007. It included the lessons learnt over the past ten years and is aligned with the doctrines of individual Services.

 

Highlights:

The Joint Doctrine will serve as a cornerstone document for application of Military Power in a synergized manner and also establish a broad framework of concepts and principles to understand approach to joint planning and conduct of operations across all the domains of conflict.

Taking the strategic scenario into account, the doctrine said India will have to have deterrent capabilities to protect its interests on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) facing China and Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan. The document noted that while conflicts the world over for gaining territorial control were diminishing, India, however, has to protect its territory as the LAC and LOC are disputed.

It also mentioned proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir and volatile situation in Af-Pak region is another major challenge for India while describing Radicalisation of youth in some states through social media was another contemporary challenge facing national security, the document said adding management of digital environment is priority area.

The doctrine also talked about the steps initiated for establishment of the “Defence Cyber Agency”, “Defence Space Agency” and “Special Operations Division”.

The doctrine has added surgical strikes, even those across the border, among the nation’s possible responses to terrorist attacks.

 

  • The Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) has developed a ‘public data office’ (PDO) technology solution to deliver low-cost Wi-Fi solutions. The mass PDO solution is priced at Rs 50,000.

Key facts:

The concept of PDO will enable vendors to sell low-cost Wi-Fi-based broadband services anywhere.

The vendor will get a tech solution pack including both software and hardware elements. It will include a Wi-Fi access point with e-KYC, one-time password authentication and a mechanism to manage service vouchers. A billing system will also accompany the package. The service will be available over a license-free ISM (industrial, scientific and medical) band.

 

  • Project Saksham

The Government has approved Rs. 2,256 crore outlay for Project Saksham to bolster the information technology network for the new GST regime.

Project Saksham is the name given to CBEC’s IT Infrastructure Project. This IT Infrastructure project will enable not just the implementation of Goods and Services tax (GST) but also support all existing services in Customs, Central Excise and Service Tax.

In addition, it will also enable extension of the Indian Customs Single Window Interface for Facilitating Trade (SWIFT) and other taxpayer-friendly initiatives under Digital Indian and Ease of Doing Business of CBEC.

It will enable setting up of an information exchange mechanism with GSTN through the use of pre-agreed Application Programming Interface (API) or other secure methods of message exchange.

 

  • Internet Service Provider (ISP) ACT Fibernet has announced the launch of 1Gbps (gigabits per second) wired broadband internet services in Hyderabad, making the `City of Pearls’ India’s first `Giga City’.

 

  • The Union Cabinet has given its approval for setting up of Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE) at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh as “an Institute of National Importance” through an Act of Parliament.

The Institute will have the governance structure as well as legal mandate to grant degrees in a manner similar to that enjoyed by IITs. A separate Act will also impart the required status to the Institute to become a “Centre of Excellence” in petroleum and energy studies.

 

  • The second spell of Hindu new year and harvest festivals falls are being celebrated across the country:

Bengalis celebrate Poila Boishakh.

Malayalis celebrate Vishu.

Tamilians celebrate Puthandu.

Assamese celebrate Rongali Bihu.

Punjabis celebrate Baisakhi.

Odia celebrates Maha Vishuba Sankranti.

 

 

  • The GBU-43/B – dubbed the ‘Mother of all bombs’ – has been dropped on an Islamic State complex in Afghanistan by the US forces.

The Moab or GBU-43/B is the world’s largest non-nuclear weapon.

 

 

  • Nepal and China are planning to hold the first-ever joint military exercise- Sagarmatha Friendship-2017, with a special focus on combating terror and disaster management.

 

 

  • Scientists have developed a novel way to 3D-print objects using glass, an advance that could be used to make very small optical components for complex computers.

The process is known as Stereolithography. Stereolithography is a form of 3D-printing technology used for creating models, prototypes, patterns and production parts in a layer by layer fashion using photopolymerisation, a process by which light causes chains of molecules to link, forming polymers.

The material, which remains a liquid, is washed out in a solvent bath, leaving only the desired cured structure. The polymer still mixed in this glass structure is subsequently removed by heating.

 

  • Survey of India launched a new web portal called ‘Nakshe’ on its 250th anniversary recently. The New Policy envisages two series of maps- the Defence Series Maps (DSMs) and the Open Series Maps (OSMs).  The DSMs will be for exclusive use for defence forces and authorized Government Departments. Their policy would be determined by the Ministry of Defence.  Policy on OSMs will be the responsibility of Survey of India/Department of Science and Technology.

Topographic maps or Open Series Maps (OSM) would be available for free download on the ‘Nakshe’ portal. Maps would be available in pdf format on 1:50000 scale through Aadhar enabled user authentication process. Aadhar is there to make sure that only Indians are able to access them.

Survey of India : It is the principal mapping agency of India formed in 1767 headquartered in Dehradun.  It prepares map for both civilian and military purposes.  It is headed by Surveyor General of India.  It is the oldest scientific department in India functioning under the Department of Science and Technology.

  • DATA EXCLUSIVITY This refers to exclusive rights, granted over the pharmaceutical test data submitted by companies to drug regulatory authorities for obtain market authorisation. It means that information concerning a drug’s safety and efficacy is kept confidential for a period of, say, five or ten years.  It is a form of legal monopoly protection for a drug, over and above the patent protections. This is given expressly to compensate for the investment made during clinical trials. It implied that regulators cannot approve a similar drug with similar data for the next five years.

TRIPS plus measures It means going beyond the TRIPS provisions. TRIPS plus provisions are frequently pushed as a part of free trade agreements between developed and developing countries. Some such provisions are:

  1. Data exclusivity – one of the most worrying demands in RCEP negotiations.
  2. Patent term extensions are given to compensate the company for delays in processing patent applications. A patent term extension will give another five-year monopoly to the innovator company.

Many developed countries have even signed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which establishes international standards for IPR enforcement outside WTO and WIPO. It is beyond the mandate of TRIPS agreement and would prevent drug regulators to use the data, submitted by Originator Company, for approving bioequivalent versions of the same drug, which would prevent generics from entering into market. It would prolong monopoly even after expiry of 20-year period and will lead to evergreening of patents negating the impact of Section 3(d) of patent act and blocking of compulsory licensing.  Even for establishing bioequivalence, clinical trials would be repeated on human subjects which is immoral and unethical.  Giving exclusivity just on the basis of money spent would set bad precedent for other industries which may now claim IP-like rights.

 

  • Scientists have developed a light-weight, paper-based device that can harvest energy from body movements to power sensors and watches.  The finding is based on triboelectricnanogenerators (TENGs) system which makes the energy through Triboelectrification. Triboelectricnanogenerator (TENG) is based on organic material to convert mechanical energy into electricity. It is a sensor that directly converts a mechanical triggering into a self-generated electric signal for detection of motion, vibration, mechanical stimuli, physical touching, and biological movement.  It can be applied to harvest all kinds of mechanical energy available in our daily life, like motion, walking, rotation, wind, automobile, flowing water, etc.
  • National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) under Ministry of Culture has set up a Science City at Kolkata and Regional Science City at Pushpa Gujral Science City at Kapurtala, Punjab andGujarat Science City at Ahmadabad, Gujarat have also been set up.

About Science Cities Scheme

It provides for setting up of Science Cities in all the states of the country. States desirous of setting up a Science City under this Scheme have to provide land, share the cost of setting up of

facilities and maintain a corpus for its upkeep and maintenance.

 

 

MAY 2017

Space

GSAT – 9

South Asia Satellite GSAT-9 was launched by GSLV-F09 on Friday, May 05, 2017 from Sriharikota. GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication satellite realised by India. The primary objective of GSAT-9 is to provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries.

Cassini

NASA has released a new movie sequence showing a close view of Saturn‘s atmosphere as the Cassini spacecraft swooped over the ringed planet during the first of its Grand Finale‘ dives. Cassini-Huygens was a joint project between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

Lunar Palace

 Chinese students will live in a laboratory simulating a lunar-like environment for up to 200 days as Beijing prepares for its long-term goal of putting humans on the moon.  The volunteers will live in the sealed lab (dubbed the “Yuegong-1”, or “Lunar Palace”) to simulate a long-term, self-contained space mission with no input from the outside world.  Human waste will be treated with a bio-fermentation process, and experimental crops and vegetables grown with the help of food and waste by products.

NASA’s  “bioregenerative life support system”

NASA scientists are developing an inflatable cylindrical greenhouse for outer space. The Prototype Lunar/Mars Greenhouse project uses what’s called “bioregenerative life support system” that mimics Earth’s environment to be able to grow plants outside our planet. The prototype involves an inflatable, deployable greenhouse to support plant and crop production for nutrition, air revitalisation, water recycling and waste recycling.

 

Kodaikanal Solar Observatory

 Every day, since 1904, staff at the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory in Tamil Nadu have aimed their telescope at the sun, freezing the images of its disc. While spectroheliograms‘ were taken at the Kodai observatory since 1902, it was in 1909 that the data was used to discover the Evershed effect – that gases in sunspots flowed radially outwards.

 

Solibacillus kalamii

 Jet Propulsion Laboratory  of NASA for work on interplanetary travel, discovered the new bacteria on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late President. Even as it orbits the earth some 400 kilometres above, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi.  These spore formers tend to withstand high radiation and also produce some useful compounds protein-wise which will be helpful for biotechnology applications.

 

 

 

 

Defence

Brahmos

The Army carried out a successful test of the advanced BrahMos Block III Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM) in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on May 3, 2017. The range of the supersonic missile was initially capped at 290 km as per the obligations of the MTCR. Since India‘s entry into the club, the range has been extended to 450 km and the plan is to increase it to 600km.

SIMBEX-17: SIMBEX is an acronym for ―Singapore-India Maritime Bilateral Exercises. This year‘s edition of SIMBEX-17 being held in the South China Sea.

 

Indo-Thailand Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Table Top Exercise 2017 is between the Indian Air Force and Royal Thailand Air Force (RTAF).

 

 

 

 

  • 3D Bio-Printer

Researchers have successfully generated cartilage tissue using a 3D bioprinter, an advance that could lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis.  Previously, Scientists have found a new bio-ink for 3D printing with stem cells that allows printing of living tissue known as bio-printing.  The new bio-ink contains two different polymer components: a natural polymer extracted from seaweed and a sacrificial synthetic polymer used in the medical industry.

 

  • Methane into Methanol

Researchers have developed a one-step process that uses water to convert methane to methanol.  Methane has been identified as a greenhouse gas. Whereas, Methanol, on the other hand, has been considered a good alternative to gasoline for use in automobile engines.

 It is currently made using a variety of techniques and basic materials including coal, natural gas and even municipal waste.  In this new effort, water is used to oxidize methane over a bed of copper containing zeolite — the unique structure of the mineral lets the water behave as an oxidant. The team claims the process is 97% efficient, emitting only methanol and hydrogen.

 

  • Immunotherapy

 Scientists have discovered a simple and practical way to kill cancer cells by using light to steer immune cells to attack the tumours. Immunotherapy is different from radiation or chemotherapy. Instead of directly killing cancer cells, immunotherapy tells the immune system to act in certain ways by stimulating T cells to attack the disease. But the problem is that immunotherapy can cause the immune system to overreact or under-react.  Recently, scientists have conducted a study to understand and develop light-sensitive molecules (channelrhodopsin) that could efficiently guide T cells towards tumours.

 

  • Combustible Ice

Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world‘s most abundant fossil fuels.  Commercial development of thisfrozen fossil fuel has now moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the sea floor off their coastlines.  Large-scale production, if not done properly, could flood the atmosphere with climate-changing greenhouse gases.  Methane hydrate has been found beneath seafloors and buried inside Arctic permafrost and beneath Antarctic ice.

 

  • Zika virus in Gujarat

 WHO has reported the first three ―laboratory-confirmed cases of Zika virus disease in India — all from Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad. Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae.It is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito (Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus).

 Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.

 It can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.  Zika infection during pregnancy can cause a birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe brain defects. It is also linked to other problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and other birth defects. There have also been increased reports of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an uncommon sickness of the nervous system, in areas affected by Zika.

 

  • Ransomware

 It is malware that encrypts the files on an infected system and then demands a ransom to decrypt them, with escalation in the demand over time. The ransom demand is in Bitcoins, the cyber cryptocurrency that is hard to trace. The Wanna Cryptor 2.0 ‗ransomware‘, aka WannaCry, spreads using a flaw in older Microsoft Windows systems.

 

 

  • RNA TECHNOLOGIES

CLUSTERED REGULARLY INTERSPACED SHORT PALINDROMIC REPEATS (Crispr) and its associated protein (Cas9) have been resulted in speculation about a new technology race between the US and China. Scientists all over the world are now able to carry out gene editing at costs much lower than ever before, and much more accurately.

 The enhanced tinkering with DNA can be used to achieve end goals as diverse as enhancing crop quality and disease resistance, treating genetic diseases, and even addressing the associated risk of antibiotic resistance through a Crispr pill that substitutes antibiotics.

India can be an attractive destination for a number of multinational pharma companies because of the advances in nanotechnology and bioinformatics in place. They can either outsource some part of their research or buy the siRNA products or nano-carriers for RNA delivery from India.

 This polymeric molecule—essential for regulation and expression of genes—has already been the subject of research, in areas such as RNA interference (RNAi) and antisense technology.

 

What are RNAi& antisense technology?

RNAi: It is a gene silencing technology that inhibits protein synthesis in target cells using double-stranded RNA. RNAi has huge significance within the Indian context, considering the deep-seated resistance over the years to Bt cotton and other GM seeds.  Recently, GM mustard received regulatory approval from the genetic engineering appraisal committee, only to get stalled later on account of a petition filed before the Supreme Court.

 So,RNA-reliant solutions could be a viable alternative.

 Also, RNAi technologies are now known to formulate drugs capable of reducing cholesterol levels by half.  This technology also finds immense importance in treating acute viral infections like AIDS.

 

Antisense Technology: It achieves the same result as RNAi, but only through single-stranded RNA.

 Antisense technology has shown promising results in producing a variety of tomato with increased shelf-life commonly known as FlavrSavr.

 

The future could potentially be witness to the use of antisense technology to target cancer.

 

 India faces two major challenges hindering progress in RNAi and antisense technologies.

1.Lack of efficient and targeted delivery vehicles: While some Indian institutes have developed drug delivery vehicles capable of delivering proteins, much less has been done to develop vehicles capable of carrying silencing reagents such as small interfering RNA (siRNA).

(India has a programme: programme on nano-biotechnology)

2.Minimal development of silencing reagents: They ensure significant, specific, consistent and lasting knockdown of the target gene.  The drug controller general of India (DCGI) has granted its nod to the first-ever clinical trial of siRNA therapy in India, in 2016.  The number of such trials is negligible when compared to the total number of clinical trials in our country.

 

JUNE 2017

 

Space

 

GSLV Mark III

• GSLV Mk III is a three-stage heavy lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. GSLV Mk III is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) of 36,000 km; or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) of up to 800 km., which is about twice the capability of GSLV Mk II.• The indigenous GSLV-Mark III will make a bid to breach a heavy-lift rocket club. The U.S., Russia, Europe, China and Japan are already there.  The success of the first full flight of Mk III will mean that soon, Indian communication satellites can be lofted into space from within the country. First developmental flight of GSLV MK III D1 successfully placed GSAT -19 in Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit on June 05 2017. Launch of GSAT-19, is perhaps ISRO’s most important mission in the last three decades. This is bigger in technological significance than even the hugely popular Chandrayaan or Mangalyaan space missions. But ever since the cancellation of the original Russian deal of cryogenic engine ( with ToT), ISRO got down to develop the cryogenic technology on its own at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Thiruvananthapuram. What is a Cryogenic engine?

Cryogenics is the science that addresses the production and effects of very low temperatures.  A cryogenic rocket engine is a rocket engine that uses a cryogenic fuel or oxidizer. That is, its fuel or oxidizer (or both) are gases liquefied and stored at very low temperatures. Amongst all rocket fuels, hydrogen is known to provide the maximum thrust. But hydrogen, in its natural gaseous form, is difficult to handle, and, therefore, not used in normal engines in rockets like PSLV. However, hydrogen can be used in liquid form. The problem is hydrogen liquefies at very low temperature, nearly 250 degrees Celsius below zero. To burn this fuel, oxygen also needs to be in liquid form, and that happens at about 90 degrees Celsius below zero. Creating such a low-temperature atmosphere in the rocket is a difficult proposition, because it creates problems for other material used in the rocket.

 

 

 

Cartosat-2E launched on 23 June.

ISRO is set to launch Cartosat – 2E along with 30 other satellites in PSLV C-38. It is  Indian remote sensing (IRS) satellite that can send pictures from an orbit 505 km above the earth.  Cartosat is a series of earth observation satellites placed in Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (PSSO). The imageries from Cartosat-2 series satellite will useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features and various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications. It will provide useful space-based data for decision makers in Smart City and AMRUTH projects. It has a resolution of 0.6 metres, which means it can spot even smaller objects within a square of 0.6 m by 0.6 m.

Once this satellite becomes operational, it would be handed over to the defence forces, which have their own infrastructure, which includes ground stations, and trained manpower to access data. The co-passenger satellites include 29 Nano satellites from 14 countries—Austria, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America—besides a nano satellite from India.

 

 

NIUSAT

It is one of the nano-satellites from India sharing space in PSLV C-38 mission which carries CARTOSAT and 29 other nano-satellites from 14 countries. NIUSAT was designed and developed by the Noorul Islam University in Tamil Nadu. This nano-satellite is built for disaster management and crop monitoring,

 

KalamSat

KalamSat, named after former president of India APJ Abdul Kalam, is the world’s smallest and lightest satellite built by students from Tamil Nadu.  This is the first time that an Indian student’s experiment has been carried out by NASA.  It weighs about 64 grams which is lighter than a smart phone and made of reinforced carbon fibre polymer.  It is 3D printed satellite and it is for the first time that 3-D printing technology is being used in space. The main role of the satellite will be to demonstrate the performance of 3D-printed carbon fibre.

 

 

NISAR

NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar satellite (NISAR) is the world’s most expensive earth imaging satellite.  NISAR is dual frequency RADAR, it is an L-band and S-band RADAR. It is the first such satellite using dual frequency RADAR.  The S-band is being built by ISRO and L-band by NASA. It is expected that the NISAR satellite will be launched in 2021 from India using the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).  One of the main purposes of the mission is to observe Earth and establish a general pathway for future joint missions for Mars exploration.  It will take weekly snapshots of earth that will provide time lapse images of the motion of tectonic plates, ice sheets and changes in vegetation over land in agriculture and forests.  NISAR will provide a means of resolving highly spatial and temporally complex processes ranging from ecosystem disturbances, to ice sheet collapse and natural hazards including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, and landslides.

 

Hottest planet in the Universe

Scientists have discovered the hottest known planet “KELT-9b” located 650 light years from Earth.

• The Jupiter-like planet orbits a massive star KELT-9 and is warmer than most stars in the universe.

• The ultraviolet radiation from the star it orbits is so brutal that the planet may be evaporating away under the intense glare, producing a glowing gas tail.  It is tidally locked to its star as the moon is to Earth. The day side of the planet is perpetually bombarded by stellar radiation, and, as a result, the planet is so hot that molecules such as water, carbon dioxide and methane cannot form there.

 

Third gravitational wave detection

• The LIGO detectors in the U.S. have detected yet another merger of two black holes.  Named GW170104, this signal marks the third confirmed detection of gravitational waves coming from a binary black hole merger.  At LIGO, the detection has revealed not merely a black hole merger, but also the alignment of the spins of the black holes. This can shed light on the way the black holes might have formed.

LIGO: The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory with the mission to directly observe gravitational waves of cosmic origin.  These waves were first predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity in 1916.  Their existence was indirectly confirmed when observations of the binary pulsar PSR 1913+16 in 1974. The Nobel Prize in Physics 1993 was awarded to Hulse and Taylor for this discovery. Two large observatories were built in the United States with the aim of detecting gravitational waves by laser interferometry.

LIGO-India

LIGO-India, or INDIGO, is a planned collaborative project between the LIGO Laboratory and the Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations (IndIGO) to create a world-class gravitational-wave detector in India. A site in the Hingoli district (Maharashtra) has been selected.

 

NASA Missions

NICER: NASA will launch the world’s first mission devoted to studying rapidly spinning neutron stars. Neutron stars are the remnants of massive stars that, after exhausting their nuclear fuel, exploded and collapsed into super-dense spheres about the size of New York City. Although neutron stars emit radiation across the spectrum, observing them in the energetic X-ray band offers the greatest insights into their structure and the high-energy phenomena that they host, including starquakes, thermonuclear explosions, and the most powerful magnetic fields known in the cosmos.

Sounding Rocket: NASA is set to launch a sounding rocket which will release blue-green and red artificial clouds.

Mazaalai

Mazaalai, named after Mongolia’s gobi bear Mazaalai, is the Mongolia’s first satellite to be sent to space. The satellite will accompany the “SpaceX Falcon 9” rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida through a project supported by UNESCO and Japan.

 

CHESS rocket Colorado High-resolution Echelle Stellar Spectrograph

NASA is launching a new CHESS sounding rocket which will study vast interstellar clouds to understand about the earliest stages of star formation. Deep in space between distant stars, vast clouds of neutral atoms and molecules, as well as charged plasma particles called the interstellar medium that may evolve into new stars and even planets. It will measure light filtering through the interstellar medium to study the atoms and molecules within, which provides crucial information for understanding the life-cycle of stars.

 

Magnetic field in Uranus

Recently scientists have found that Uranus’ magnetic field gets flipped on and off like a light switch everyday as the planet rotates.• It is based on the data from NASA’s Voyager 2 Spacecraft.This is quite different from Earth’s magnetosphere, since the alignment of Earth’s magnetosphere is always toward the sun and it is one of the reason for Earth’s auroras.

 

Progress MS-06

It’s a Russian spacecraft that was launched carrying cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). The spaceship has around 2.7 metric tons of cargo and supplies to the ISS, according to NASA.

v  A brown dwarf over 100 light years away from the Sun has been discovered using a new citizen science tool that helps astronomers pinpoint new worlds lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. These sightings were made by the Backyard Worlds volunteers. The Backyard Worlds project lets anyone with a computer and an Internet connection flip through images taken by NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft.

 

v  NASA’s Orion spacecraft – designed to take astronauts to deep space destinations such as the Moon and Mars – has successfully completed a series of tests for its critical safety systems. Researchers tested the abort motor for Orion’s launch abort system.

 The abort system:

The launch abort system is an important part of making sure crew members stay safe on the launch pad and on their way to space. The launch abort system is positioned on top of the Orion crew module and will play a critical role protecting future crews travelling to deep space destinations in Orion. The abort motor is responsible for propelling the crew module away from the Space Launch System rocket in case of an emergency, and one of three total motors that will send the crew module to a safe distance away from a failing rocket and orient it properly for a safe descent into the Atlantic Ocean if such a situation ever occurs.

 

Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA)

The Roll-Out Solar Array (ROSA) is a new type of solar panel that rolls open in space like a party favor and is more compact than current rigid panel designs. NASA’s new compact high-power solar array-the Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA)– has made its debut on the International Space Station, allowing astronauts to test the technology’s durability for deep-space missions.The Roll Out Solar Array (ROSA) is one of the options eyed by NASA that could power an advanced solar electric propulsion spacecraft that makes possible such endeavors as the agency’s Asteroid Redirect Mission—plucking a multi-ton boulder from an asteroid’s surface, and then maneuvering that object into a stable orbit around the moon for human inspection and sampling.

 

v  NASA has signed an agreement with Italian Space Agency for the launch of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission that will provide important clues about the origins of cosmic X-rays, their interactions with matter and gravity as they travel through space.

 

v  GSAT-17

With French rocket Ariane-5 successfully launching the 3,477-kg satellite from French Guiana, India has added GSAT-17 to its existing fleet of 17 communication satellites. Besides GSAT-17, Ariance-5 also put into space Hellas Sat 3-Inmarsat S EAN, a “condosat” for Inmarsat and Hellas Sat.

Key facts:

The satellite has been inducted into the Indian National Satellite (INSAT)/GSAT system. It carried payloads in the normal C, extended C and S bands, providing various communication services. It was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). GSAT-17 also has equipment for meteorological data relay and satellite-based search and rescue services being provided by earlier INSAT satellites.

 

 

DEFENCE

INS Khanderi :Second Scorpene-class submarine built under ‘Project 75’

Recently, INS Khanderi, the second of the six Scorpene class submarines has sailed out from Mumbai harbour. The first Scorpene-class submarine INS Kalvari has already undergone various trials and is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy later this year. Six Scorpene-class submarines are being built under ‘Project 75’ of the Indian Navy.

The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian navy.  Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire 6 diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.

 

Anti-tank Missile Nag

DRDO Successfully Test-fires Anti-tank Missile Nag in Rajasthan.  Nag is a third-generation, fire-and-forget, anti-tank guided missile developed by India’s state-owned DRDO to support both mechanised infantry and airborne forces of the Indian Army. The missile incorporates an advanced passive homing guidance system and possesses high single-shot kill probability. It is designed to destroy modern main battle tanks and other heavily armoured targets. Nag can be launched from land and air-based platforms (helina).

 

Prithvi II Missile

Recently, Prithvi-II missile was successfully test fired from a test range in Odisha. It is an indigenously developed nuclear-capable, surface to surface missile. Prithvi II is the first missile to have been developed by the DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. It was inducted into Indian armed forces in 2003. It has a strike range of 350 km and it is a single stage liquid fuelled engines. The Prithvi-II missile is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engines.

Indra-2017

• The eighth edition of India-Russia ‘Indra’ exercise between the armies of the two strategic partners had taken place in mountainous Vladivostok in Russia. The main focus of the joint exercise was counter-terrorism. The Indian Army and the Indian Navy has been having the military exercise ‘Indra’ with Russia separately. The Indian Air Force had participated in an exercise ‘AviaIndra‘ with Russian air force in 2014. This year will see the first ever Tri-services exercise INDRA–2017.

 

  • Bright nights

It is a phenomenon in which the night sky is bright enough to read a book even in the absence of moon light. A new theory says it is due to slow moving, high altitude atmospheric waves merging together and amplifying the light from the naturally occurring airglow. The theory says that, for every seven nights out of 100 there is a bright night somewhere on the earth.

  • Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a hormone known to trigger a wide variety of physical and psychological effects and is commonly used to facilitate childbirth. The Government of India banned retail sale of the hormone in 2014 after it was found that indiscriminate use of Oxytocin in milch animals  by farmers was causing irreversible hormone damage. The drug is used by diary owners and farmers to boost milk production and make vegetables look bigger and fresher.

 

  • Oldest Homo Sapiens

Recently, Archaeologists have unearthed the fossils of Homo Sapiens that were dated about 300,000 years old in Morocco.

 

  • BIO-REMEDIATION

 Raaginii Jaain, a national expert on the Swachh Bharat Mission, has developed a rapid bioremediation process for old dumps successfully.

  • Bioremediation is a waste management treatment that uses naturally occurring organisms to break down hazardous substances into less toxic or non toxic substances.
  • Biomining is an environment friendly technique of extracting metals from ores, other solid materials like waste using micro-organisms.

 

What are the harmful effects of garbage fills?

foul odour, emission of harmful gases which contributes global warming, leachate (a black liquid oozing from the waste) that seeps into soil polluting the ground water.

 

  • keratitis

Scientists at the Hyderabad-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) have developed a novel way to treat fungal keratitis. Treating keratitis infection is currently a challenge because it is difficult to maintain a therapeutic dose at the corneal surface for long periods as blinking and tear formation washes off the drug. To address this challenge, scientists have developed protein-based nanoparticles that encapsulate the drug.

Keratitis is the inflammation of the eye, which starts with redness and itching and might eventually lead to blindness. Keratitis can be caused by both bacteria and fungi. Fungi attach themselves to the cornea and release enzymes that break down the corneal proteins for their nutritional requirements.

In the process the cornea also gets inflamed. Corneal damage causes wound and scar formation leading to severe visual impairment. It is estimated that about 30% of keratitis cases in India lead to blindness.

 

  • China has unveiled the world’s first train that runs on virtual tracks. The new train is part of China’s attempts to develop “intelligent rail express system”.

 

  • WHO has revised antibiotics protocol to curb antibiotic resistance. This is the biggest revision of the antibiotics section in the essential medicines list (EML). WHO has divided the drugs into three categories — access, watch and reserve.

The ‘access’ category includes commonly used antibiotics. They will be available at all times as treatment for a wide range of common infections.

The ‘watch’ group covers antibiotics that are recommended as first or second choice treatment for a small number of infections. Prescription of these drugs should be reduced to avoid further development of resistance.

The ‘reserve’ category includes antibiotics that are considered last-resort options, and used only in the most severe circumstances such as for life-threatening infections due to multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Importance  The new list will help health system planners and doctors ensure that people who need antibiotics have access to them, and they get the right one, so that the problem of resistance doesn’t get worse.

 

 

  • DROUGHT STRESS

Plants have evolved to endure drought stress with morphological, physiological, and biochemical adaptations: 1. Drought resistance (DR) is a broader term applied to plant species with adaptive features which enables plants to escape, avoid and tolerate drought stress. 2. Drought escape (DE) is the ability of a plant species to complete its life cycle before the onset of drought. Thereby, plants do not experience drought stress, as they are able to modulate their vegetative and reproductive growth according to water availability. Eg rapid plant growth during wet season and little growth during the dry season. 3. Drought avoidance (DA) involves the ability of plants to maintain relatively higher tissue water content, despite the water scarcity in the soil (saving for a deficit day).

Drought tolerance (DT) involves the plant enduring low water content on its tissues through various adaptive traits.

 

  • MINIATURE EYE-LIKE ORGANS

Researchers in Hyderabad based LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) have successfully grown miniature eye-like organs that closely resemble the developing eyes of an early-stage embryo. These were produced using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Stem cells of a healthy eye have been used for restoring vision when only one eye is damaged. But when the damage is present in both eyes, the only way to restore vision is by using the healthy cells taken from a related or unrelated donor. Patients have to be on immune suppressants lifelong when cells are transplanted from donors. However, immune suppressants are not required when corneal cells grown using the patient’s own skin cells are used for restoring vision. Immuno suppressants are a class of drugs that suppress the immune response through various mechanisms. In organ transplantation, they are used to prevent the body from either recognition or attacking the foreign organ.

 

  • Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) BIO 2017

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) BIO 2017 was held in San Diego, USA in June, 2017. Details The Indian delegation was led by Shri Y S Chowdary, Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences.  The minister informed that Indian Government had several prestigious schemes like Ramalingaswamy Fellowship; DST Inspire, DBT-Welcome Trust Fellowship and IYBA etc that facilitate the re-entry of Indian researchers working abroad into India who are desirous of pursuing post-doctoral research in the country.  India Biotech Handbook 2017, showcasing the strengths of India’s fast growing $ 42 bn bio-economy was released.

 

 

JULY 2017

 

Space

OUTER SPACE TREATY

 The Outer Space Treaty came into force in October 1967 and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. It laid the foundation for an international space law. 107 countries are parties to this treaty, including India. It was formulated to bar its signatory countries from placing weapons of mass destruction in orbit of theEarth, on the Moon or any other celestial body or the outer space.The treaty aimed at making the countries use space exploration for peaceful purposes.However, the Treaty does not prohibit the placement of conventional weapons in orbit and thus some highly destructive attack strategies such as kinetic bombardment are still potentially allowable.

 

JUNO SPACECRAFT

NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot. The spacecraft was launched as part of the New Frontiers Program, in 2011. Its mission is to measure Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere. Jupiter‘s Great Spot is a 16,000-km wide storm monitored since 1830 and possibly existing for more than 350years. Recently, the spacecraft reached ―Perijove, the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter‘s centre.

 

SARASWATI– SUPERCLUSTER OF GALAXIES

 A team of Indian scientists has reported the discovery of a ‗supercluster‘ of galaxies and named it Saraswati. It is located four billion light years away from the earth. The Milky Way galaxy, of which the Earth is a very small member, is part of the Laniakea supercluster, whichwas identified only in 2014.

 

PHOBOS

 Phobos is one of the smallest moons in the solar system orbiting around the Mars. It is the only natural satellite in the solar system that encircles its planet in a time shorter than the parent

planet‘s day. Red planet Mars has another natural satellite Deimos. Phobos is the innermost and largest of the two. Recently, NASA‘s Hubble Space Telescope has beamed back images of the moon Phobos in its orbital trek around the red planet.

ISRO APPROVED USE OF LITHION-ION BATTERY

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has approved commercial use of lithium-ion battery technology. The glitch is battery makers will be required to pay Rs 1 crore as a one-time technology transfer fee to ISRO.  Commercialization of ISRO’s technology could save 10-15 per cent of the cost of e-vehicles.  It is a positive step towards the government’s ambitious project – National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020.

Advantages of lithium-ion batteries over lead acid batteries Weight: Lithium-ion batteries are one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.  Efficiency: Lithium-ion batteries are nearly 100% efficient in both charge and discharge while the lead batteries have the 70% efficiency.  Discharge: Lithium-ion batteries are discharged 100% versus less than 80% for lead acid.  Cycle Life: Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries cycle 5000 times or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.  Voltage: Lithium-ion batteries maintain their voltage throughout the entire discharge cycle. Lead acid voltage drops consistently throughout the discharge cycle.  Cost: Despite the higher upfront cost of lithium-ion batteries, the true cost of ownership is far less than lead acid when considering life span and performance.  Environmental Impact: Lithium-ion batteries are a much cleaner technology and are safer for the environment.

 

 

 

 

  • Biomarkers in Dengue treatment

 

Mumbai based study on dengue found that biomarkers can help to curb deaths caused by the disease.

 Biomarkers are indicators that help in determining the presence or severity of a disease.The idea is to establish molecular signatures for complicated cases.It is used to have a sound knowledge of the disease progression in different individuals suffering from thedisease.

What are the characteristics of Dengue?

 It is spread through the bite of an infected female AedesAegyptus mosquito. Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF) can lead to lethal complications. DHF in its severe form causes Dengue Shock Syndrome. DSS is associated with very high mortality rate as the blood pressure drops down drastically and organs startto collapse.

What is the status of dengue in India?

 The first evidence of occurrence of dengue in India was reported in 1956 from Vellore district in Tamil Nadu. A disease that was known for its presence only in urban areas gradually spread across the country. According to the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) In 2016, the number of cases were 1,29,166 and 245 deaths.

 

  • NEW STUDY ON BLOOD CANCER

A Study at DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad has come up with new insights on Leukemia.

What is Leukemia?

 Leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow which produces blood cells. A person who has leukemia suffers from an abnormal production of blood cells.Acute leukemia crowds out the good cells more quickly than chronic leukemia. Treatment requires holistic approach of financial support, psychological support and a patient trackingsystem.

What is the status of leukemia in India?

 Acute leukemia cases are recorded across India. There are nearly 25,000 children diagnosed with cancer in India every year and around 9000 of these haveleukemia. There would be 90,000 children with leukemia in a decade in India. The data of those children who are treated are missing.

What are the findings of the study?

 Mixed Lineage Leukemia (MLL) protein is closely associated with leukemia (blood cancer) in children and   adults.  The protein plays a crucial role in cell division by regulating chromosome segregation.The absence of MLL itself gives rise to genomic instability and makes the cell prone to cancer.Efforts has been made to discover the essential cellular functions of MLL.

 

Defence

SPIKE

 Spike missile is an Israeli fourth generation anti-tank guided missile. It is developed and designed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defence Systems. India is looking to purchase it, which will compete with the Nag missile, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Nag is the third generation anti-tank missile.

 

QUICK REACTION SURFACE TO AIR MISSILE (QRSAM)

 It is an indigenously developed short range surface to air missile. The missile has a strike range of 25 to 30 kms. It has an all- weather weapon system capable of tracking and firing, and it is the second developmental trial ofthe state-of-the-art missile with an aerial target. Recently, it was successfully test-fired from a test range from the launch pad Chandipur, along the Odishacoast.

 

MUNTRA

 Muntra is the country’s first unmanned tank developed by Defence Research and Development

Organisation (DRDO). Muntra is unmanned, remotely operated tank which has three variants such as Muntra-S, Muntra-M and Muntra-N. Muntra-S is the country’s first tracked unmanned ground vehicle developed for unmanned surveillancemissions.  Muntra-M is for detecting mines, andMuntra-N is for operation in areas where there is a nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk.

 

 

INS VAGLI

 It is a Submarine designed by Russia and commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1974 and decommissionedin 2010. After its decommissioning, Tamil Nadu government has decided to set it up as a maritime museum near the shore temple of Mamallapuram, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Kovvada

 Kovvada is a new nuclear plant to be set up in the State of Andhra Pradesh. It is a proposed light water nuclear reactor in Srikakulam District.  Recently, the land acquired for the construction of the nuclear power plant was handed over to Nuclear PowerCorporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

 

 

 

 

  • Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor

  Government of India has accorded approval for the construction of 10 indigenous Pressurized Heavy WaterReactors (PHWRs).  The reactors are planned at Kaiga in Karnataka, Gorakhpur in Haryana, Chutka in M.P, and MahiBanswara in Rajasthan.  A PHWR is a nuclear power reactor commonly using un-enriched natural Uranium as its fuel, and heavy water(deuterium oxide, D2O) as its coolant and moderator.Indian PHWRs: Tarapur (Maharashtra), Rawatbhata (Rajasthan), Kalpakkam (T.N), Narora (U.P), Kakrapar(Gujarat) and Kaiga (Karnataka).

 

  • Hepatitis C

  Union Health Ministry has recently announced that National Action Plan on Hepatitis C will be ready by the end of this year.   Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by blood borne Hepatitis Virus.  There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.  The most common modes of infection are through exposure to contaminated blood or blood products andinvasive medical procedures using contaminated equipments.  It can also be transmitted sexually and be passed from an infected mother to her baby.  Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood.

  The incubation period for Hepatitis C is 2 weeks to 6 months.  Currently, there is no vaccine for hepatitis C; except Hepatitis C, all other hepatitis viruses have safe andeffective vaccination to prevent them.

 Note: Hepatitis B is included in India‘s Universal ImmunisationProgramme (UIP).

 

  • Haemoglobinopathies

 Hemoglobinopathy is a kind of genetic defect that results in abnormal structure of one of the globin chains of the hemoglobin molecule.  Common hemoglobinopathies include sickle-cell disease and Thalassemia, and other variant anaemia.  Thalassemia usually results in underproduction of normal globin proteins, often through mutations inregulatory genes.Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has recently issued comprehensive guidelines for Haemoglobinopathies.  The guidelines provide for screening of every pregnant woman during ANC, pre-marital counselling at the college level and one time screening for variant anaemia for all children in class VIII.

 

  • FLUOROSIS

  Fluorosis is a slow, progressive, crippling disease which affects every organ, tissue and cell in the body.  According to WHO, the fluoride concentration in drinking water should not exceed 1.5mg/l.

  Thus, fluorosis is caused by excessive exposure to fluoride, beyond a concentration of 1.5 mg/l.

  It adversely affects the foetal cerebral function and neurotransmitters. Reduced intelligence in children isassociated with exposure to high fluoride levels. Dental fluorosis is a defect in the tooth enamel caused by excessive fluoride consumption, is not treatable andthe strains are permanent.Skeletal fluorosis is developed by the disturbance of calcium metabolism in the formation of bones in thebody. It results in the softening and weakening of bones, resulting in deformities.The main sources of fluoride in groundwater are the rocks such as charnockite, quartzite,pegamatite, laterite,etc.

 

  • AVIAN INFLUENZA

  India has declared itself free from Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1 and H5N8).  Influenza is an acute viral infection of the respiratory tract and is caused by three types of RNA virusescalled influenza types A, B and C.

  Influenza type A viruses are known to infect people, birds, pigs, horses, whales, seals and other animals, butwild birds represent the natural hosts for these viruses. Thus it is called as bird flu virus .

  H5N8 and H5N1 are subtypes of the Influenza A virus and are considered as highly pathogenic.

  H5N1 virus is transmitted from infected birds to animal species including mammals through their saliva,blood, feces. etc.

 

  • SOHUM

Sohum is the indigenously developed newborn hearing screening device .The aim is to screen two percent of hospital-born babies to check for hearing response in the first year.This innovative medical device has been developed under the School of International Biodesign (SIB)programme of Department of Biotechnology (DBT).SIB is a flagship Programme aimed to develop innovative and affordable medical devices as per clinical needs of India and to train the next generation of medical technology innovators in India. ThisProgramme is implemented jointly by AIIMS and IIT Delhi in collaboration with International partners.

 

  • M sand

The excessive mining of river bed to meet the increasing demand for sand in construction industry has led toecological imbalance. Manufactured sand (M sand) is a substitute of river bed sand for construction purposes.  M sand is produced from hard granite stone by crushing.The crushed sand is of cubical shape with grounded edges, washed and graded to as a construction material. It can be dust free and the sizes of m-sand can be controlled easily so that it meets the required grading for the given construction.

 

 

  • SHARPEST LASER

Scientists have developed the  sharpest laser with record-breaking precision that can help make optical atomic clocks more precise as well as test Einsteins theory of relativity.

Ideally, laser light has only one fixed wavelength or frequency. In practice, the spectrum of most types of lasers can, however, reach from a few kHz to a few MHz in width, which is not good enough for numerous experiments requiring high precision. Researchers have now developed a laser with a linewidth of only 10 miliHertz (mHz) — closer to the ideal laser than ever before.

Significance of this discovery: This precision is useful for various applications such as optical atomic clocks, precision spectroscopy, radioastronomy and for testing the theory of relativity.

 

  • the Indian Navy is keeping an eye on the ‘china ’ with the help of its ‘Gsat-7 also called Rukmini, the Navys own dedicated military satellite that was launched in September 2013.

 

  • COW DERIVATIVES : Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya

The government has set up a 19-member panel to carry out what it says will be scientifically validated research on cow derivatives including its urine, and their benefits. he committee will select projects that can help scientifically validate the benefits of panchgavya —the concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee in various spheres such as nutrition, health and agriculture. The government has given the project the acronym SVAROP, which stands for Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya, being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi.

 

  • Debug Fresno (California USA)

The project, called Debug Fresno, is being undertaken by Verily, a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s holding company. The goal is to cut the numbers of Aedesaegypti mosquitoes — the species responsible for spreading zika, dengue and chikungunya. For 20 weeks, the company plans to release a million of the sterile, non-biting male mosquitoes in two neighbourhoods in Fresno county. The male mosquitoes are bred and infected with Wolbachia, a bacterium that is naturally found in at least 40% of all insect species.In a phenomenon called cytoplasmic incompatibility, matings between Wolbachia-infected males and uninfected females result in embryo lethality or low hatch rates.

 

  • HUMAN ANTIBODIES IN THE LABORATORY

In a first, scientists have produced human antibodies in the laboratory using a technique that could usher the rapid development of new vaccines to treat a wide range of infectious diseases. Antibodies are produced by the body’s B cells to fight off infections by bacteria, viruses, and other invasive pathogens. When an individual B cell recognises a specific pathogen-derived “antigen” molecule, it can proliferate and develop into plasma cells that secrete large amounts of antibody capable of binding to the antigen and fending off the infection. Note: antigen is toxin.

About the new technique:

In addition to encountering a specific antigen, B cells need a second signal to start proliferating and developing into plasma cells. Researchers provided this second signal by short DNA fragments called CpG oligonucleotides, which activate a protein inside B cells named TLR9.

 

  • The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)

Is being designed and would be built and managed by the John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory is moving from concept development to preliminary design phase. DART would be NASA’s first mission to demonstrate what’s known as the kinetic impactor technique – striking the asteroid to shift its orbit – to defend against a potential future asteroid impact. The target for DART is an asteroid that will have a distant approach to Earth in October 2022, and then again in 2024. The asteroid is called Didymos– Greek for “twin” -because it is an asteroid binary system that consists of two bodies: Didymos A, about 780 metres in size, and a smaller asteroid orbiting it called Didymos B, about 160 metres in size. ART would impact only the smaller of the two bodies, Didymos B.

 

  • MOVIE IN THE DNA

Scientists have successfully encoded a movie in the DNA of a living cell, where it can be retrieved at will and multiplied indefinitely as the host divides and grows. It is the latest and perhaps most astonishing example of the genome’s potential as a vast storage device. they used a powerful new gene editing technique, Crispr, to slip this sequence into the genome of a common gut bacteria, E. coli.Despite the modification, the bacteria thrived and multiplied. The film stored in the genome was preserved intact with each new generation of progeny.

 

 

  • THE CORONA: nanoflares

The corona is heated to millions of degrees, yet the lower atmospheric layers like the photosphere – the visible surface of the Sun – are only heated to a few thousand degrees. Scientists are not sure how this inversion happens. One theory proposes micro explosions, termed nanoflares – too small and frequent to detect individually, but with a large collective effect – might release heat into the coronaThe corona is the outermost layer of the Sun, starting at about 1300 miles (2100 km) above the solar surface (the photosphere). The temperature in the corona is 500,000 K (900,000 degrees F, 500,000 degrees C) or more, up to a few million K. The corona cannot be seen with the naked eye except during a total solar eclipse, or with the use of a coronagraph. The corona does not have an upper limit.

 

  • National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI),

The umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems, has said it has received a final nod from the Reserve Bank of India to function as the Bharat Bill Payment Central Unit (BBPCU) and operate the Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS). The final clearance from RBI comes almost a year after NPCI launched the BBPS pilot project to make payment of utility bills easier. The Bharat Bill Payment System (BBPS) is an RBI conceptualised system driven by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is a one-stop payment platform for all bills, providing an interoperable and accessible “Anytime Anywhere” bill payment service to customers across the country with certainty, reliability and safety of transactions. Payments through BBPS may be made using cash, transfer cheques and electronic modes. Bill aggregators and banks, who will function as operating units, will carry out these transactions for the customers.

NPCI: NPCI has ten promoter banks.

 

  • bio-glue

Scientists have developed a super strong, flexible adhesive material inspired by the glue secreted by slugs that sticks to biological tissues – even when wet – without causing toxicity. Slugs secrete a special kind of mucus when threatened that glue it in place, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off its surface.

 

  • A HYDROPHOBIC GELATOR

Scientists developed the hydrophobic sorbent by using a cheap raw material (mannitol) and cellulose pulp as a matrix. (A hydrophobic material automatically becomes oil-loving and takes up oil when it comes in contact with it). Mannitol was converted into a hydrophobic gelator through a one-step process and a solution was made using this compound. Cellulose balls the size of marbles were then dipped in the solution and dried.

 

  • SagarVani

It is an integrated information dissemination system for the ocean information system using single central server.  It will use power of television and cable network for alert information dissemination through voice Call / Audio Advisory, Mobile Apps (User / Admin modules), Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), Email, GTS, Fax, Digital Display Boards, Radio / Television broadcast units, IVRS, Cloud Channels, etc.  It will serve the coastal community with advisory in regional languagesESSO-Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) would provide the various facilities under the system.ESSO-INCOIS  Established as an autonomous body in 1999 under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and is a unit of the Earth System Science Organization (ESSO).

 

  • NITI Ayog cleared six new proposals for public transportation system of India.

These technologies include metrino, stadler buses, hyper loop, pod taxis, hybrid buses and freight rail road.

Metrino It is fully automatic small pods travel independently suspended over an overhead network Pod Taxis  Small automated vehicles cable cars or pod cars equipped to carry a small group of passengers. Hyperloop Pod-like vehicle is propelled through a near-vacuum tube connecting cities at speeds matching that of an aircraft. Stadler Bus  Tram like high frequency bus service for end to end connectivity. Hybrid Bus  Transport system uses hybrid propulsion systems, consisting diesel and electric ones. Freight Rail System  Elevated corridors would be built with rail lines where freight trucks can be placed.  It would move on rails at high speed, reducing freight time and increasing freight quantity.

 

  • Scientists from Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata tested ancient remedy described in CharakaSamhitato fight drug-resistant kala-azar.

Thecompound called mahanine, isolated from leaves of curry plant commonly used in Indian kitchens has been found to inhibit the growth of kala-azar parasite.  The tests were very successful on the laboratory mouse and the group is in consultation with Ministry of AYUSH to have clinical trials on humans

In india : Endemic in eastern States of India namely Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal; sporadic cases are seen from other areas.

Kala -Azar OR Visceral leishmaniasis It is a vector borne disease caused by a protozoan parasite of genus Leishmania.  Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a condition when Leishmaniadonovani (parasite) invades skin cells, and manifests as dermal leisions.  Some of the kala-azar cases manifests PKDL after a few years of treatment.

 

  • JIGYASA INITIATIVE

“JIGYASA” (means curiosity) is one of the major initiatives taken up by CSIR at national level, during its Platinum Jubilee Celebration Year.  CSIR is widening and deepening its Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) further with the programme.  It is a student- scientist connect programme which will be implemented by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in collaboration with KendriyaVidyalayaSangathan (KVS).  It will connect 1151 KVs with 38 CSIR labs and benefit 1,00,000 students and 1000 teachers.

  • FIRST TISC IN INDIA

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has inked agreement with Punjab State Council of Science and Technology to establish India’s first TISC (Technology and Innovation Support Center). School of International Biodesign SIB is a flagship Program of the DBT aimed to develop innovative and affordable medical devices as per India’s unmet clinical needs and to train the next generation of medical technology innovators in India.  It is implemented jointly at AIIMS and IIT Delhi in collaboration with International partners

TISC is WIPO’s (World Intellectual Property Organisations) program that provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high quality technology information and related services.

CIPAM (Cell for IPR Promotion and Management) has been designated as the national focal point for the TISC network.  CIPAM is responsible to identify host institutions, access their capacities and host them in joining the TISC network.  CIPAM will also act as the main intermediary between WIPO and TISC host institutions and coordinate all the activities of the national TISC network.

 

  • SCHEME FOR IPR AWARENESS- CREATIVE INDIA; INNOVATIVE INDIA

Taking forward the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016, a ‘Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India; Innovative India’ has been launched by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. Raising IPR awareness amongst students, youth, authors, artists, budding inventors and professionals to inspire them to create, innovate and protect their creations and inventions across India including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas in the next 3 years.

 

AUGUST 2017

 

Space

IRNSS 1H

 _IRNSS 1A has become redundant due to failure of its rubidium atomic clocks, which are critical for providing precise time. Thus, ISRO has planned to launch a replacement navigation satellite IRNSS 1H, 8th navigation spacecraft to replace IRNSS 1A. But the Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty-first flight (PSLV-C39) carrying the IRNSS-1H has failed.

 

Venus Satellite

 _The Venus satellite (Vegetation and Environment Monitoring New Micro-Satellite) is an earth-observation micro-satellite. It is designed jointly by Israel’s agency and France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). The scientific mission will monitor Earth’s vegetation, to track climate change and aid efforts to tackle desertification, erosion, and pollution.

v  NASA’s third and final in a series of next generation communications satellites has successfully been placed into orbit. The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) was launched aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.

Background:

The Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System, or TDRSS, is a fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites that form part of NASA’s Space Network. Introduced in the 1980s to support the Space Shuttle, TDRSS continues in service today, providing a relay for communications, scientific data, telemetry and commands between operators on the ground and spacecraft in Earth orbit.

Key facts:

When ready, TDRS-M will become part of NASA’s Space Network providing navigation and high-data-rate communications to the International Space Station, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, rockets and a host of other spacecraft.

 

 

 

Defence

INS Kalvari

It is a Scorpene class submarine currently undergoing its last stages of sea trials. It is first of the six submarines developed by the French DCNS under Project 75. The submarines of Scorpene class are propelled by diesel-electric engines and Torpedo is mounted as a primary weapon. It will have both anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare. It also features an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system.

NavikaSagarParikrama

 _It is a project wherein a team of women officers of the Indian Navy would circumnavigate the globe on an Indian-built sail boat INSV Tarini. This is the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.

Mega War Games

India and Russia will hold a mega war game in October involving their armies, navies and the air forces to further ramp up military ties. It will be the first time both Russia and India carry out an integrated tri-services exercise. The armies, navies and air forces of Russia are holding bilateral exercises separately such as

1. Exercise INDRA – Joint Exercise conducted by both Armies

2. Exercise INDRA NAVY – Joint Exercise conducted by both Navies

3. Exercise AVIAINDRA-14 – Joint Exercise conducted by both Air Forces.

 

Long Range Surface to Air Missile

 LRSAM is the ship launch version of Barak-8 missile, jointly developed by India and Israel. It was recently handed to Indian Navy. Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) is the land version of Barak-8 Missile

 

ASTRA

 _The ASTRA weapon system is an indigenously developed air-to-air Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile developed by the DRDO. It comprises a launcher and a missile and it is designed as a BVR missile with a long range of 110 km and short range of 20 km. It was recently test fired from Russian-origin Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft.

 

Shekatkar Committee

The 11 member committee headed by Lt. Gen. Shekatkar was appointed by Defence Ministry to recommend reforms in Indian Army, Navy and Air Force for enhancing combat compatibility

 _They submitted the report in December, 2016. They gave 99 recommendations including, increasing the deployment of soldiers for active combat in the Indian Army and redeployment of civilian in different wings of the Armed Forces and improving efficiency of National Cadet Corps (NCC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Leptospirosis

 _Recent, Mumbai floods has created ground for spreading of Leptospirosis.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in rodents and other wild and domesticated species. It is a zoonotic disease (i.e) spread from animals to humans caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. It is transmitted to humans by exposure through water contaminated by urine from infected animals. In most of the cases, leptospirosis only causes mild flu-like symptoms, such as headache, chills and muscle pain. However, in some cases the infection is more severe and can cause life-threatening problems, including organ failure and internal bleeding.Severe form of leptospirosis is known as Weil’s disease.

 

  • Curcumin to treat cancer

Scientists have recently found that nanoparticles loaded with curcumin can target and destroy neuroblastomatumour cells.Curcumin is the bioactive component of turmeric. A bioactive compound is a compound that has an effect on a living organism, tissue /cell.

 

  • Production of Bio-Ethanol

 _Scientists from CSIR have produced ethanol from discarded cotton-stalks by using a combination of chemical and biological techniques.The cotton stalks were first treated with an acid, alkali and enzymes to convert it to glucose. Then the fermentation using a novel yeast strain was carried out to convert the glucose into ethanol.

 

  • India’s first private sector missile sub-systems manufacturing facility, a joint venture between Kalyani Group and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., was recently inaugurated near Hyderabad. Formed in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Centre and the policy to encourage private sector participation in defence production, the 51:49 joint venture will develop a wide range of advanced capabilities. To begin with, the Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) plant will make anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) Spike. Besides supplying to the Indian Army, the plan is to export to South East Asian countries.

 

  • CubeSats:

With rapid developments in miniaturisation of technologies CubeSats — which typically weigh about two kilograms — are poised to take over the sky in the future to carry out tasks like imaging and remote-sensing currently performed by heavier satellites which are expensive to build and launch. However, today’s CubeSats cannot totally replace their larger counterparts as they are incapable of changing orbit or performing complex manoeuvres.

new propulsion system:

A dedicated propulsion system that is also compact and not power hungry has been the aim of CubeSat builders in several laboratories to exploit their full potential. Called a “Film-Evaporation MEMS Tunable Array”, or FEMTA thruster, it uses capillaries thinner than human hair through which the propellant water can flow. Small heaters located near the ends of the capillaries turn the water into vapor, which, on escape from these tiny tubes, provides the thrust. The minuscule capillaries act like valves that can be turned on and off by activating the heaters.

 

  • the new state- ELECTRONIC NEMATIC STATE:

The high-magnetic-field state of the heavy fermion superconductor CeRhIn5 revealed a so-called electronic nematic state. In the new state, the material’s electrons are aligned in a way to reduce the symmetry of the original crystal, something that now appears to be universal among unconventional superconductors. The appearance of the electronic alignment, called nematic behavior, in a prototypical heavy-fermion superconductor highlights the interrelation of nematicity and unconventional superconductivity, suggesting nematicity to be common among correlated superconducting materials.

 

A nematic state is most well known in liquid crystals, wherein the molecules of the liquid are parallel but not arranged in a periodic array. Nematic-like states have been observed in transition metal systems near magnetic and superconducting phase transitions. The occurrence of this property points to nematicity’s correlation with unconventional superconductivity. The difference, however, of the new nematic state found in CeRhIn5 relative to other systems is that it can be easily rotated by the magnetic field direction.

 

  • Karnataka has launched the much-touted cloud seeding project- named Varshadhare.

 

  • Scientists have developed stretchable fuel cells that extract energy from sweat, and could power a range of wearable devices such as LEDs and Bluetooth radios. The new cells were developed using lithography and screen-printing to make 3D carbon nanotube-based cathode and anode arrays.How it operates? The biofuel cells are equipped with an enzyme that oxidises the lactic acid present in human sweat to generate current.

 

  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have successfully created an implantable bioartificial pancreas model grown within a 3D silk scaffold. The pancreas encapsulates insulin-producing cells and is capable of naturally producing insulin in a sustained manner.

How was it created?

Scientists coated the scaffold containing beta cells with a semi-permeable membrane barrier. The membrane allows insulin produced to be released into the blood stream but does not allow the immune cells to cross the membrane and kill the islet cells. To ensure that the implant is not rejected by the body’s immune system, drugs that suppress the immune system were embedded in the scaffold.

If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes arises when the body  immune system kills the insulin-producing beta cells. Since type 1 diabetes patients do not have insulin-producing beta cells, the researchers have turned to stem cells to produce beta cells.

 

 

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says it plans to launch a full-fledged niche Earth observation (EO) satellite — called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite or HySIS — using a critical chip it has developed. With this satellite, it can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 km above ground.

What is Hyspex imaging?

Hyspex’ imaging is said to enable distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on Earth by reading the spectrum for each pixel of a scene from space. ISRO first tried it out in an 83-kg IMS-1 experimental satellite in May 2008. The same year, a hyperspectral camera was put on Chandrayaan-1 and used to map lunar mineral resources. Very few space agencies have such a satellite;

A German environmental satellite called EnMAP is due to be launched on an Indian booster in 2018.

Applications:

Hyperspectral or hyspex imaging is said to be an EO trend that is being experimented globally. Adding a new dimension to plain-vanilla optical imagers, it can be used for a range of activities from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals all the way up to military surveillance — all of which need images that show a high level of differentiation of the object or scene.

 

  • China has demonstrated a world first by sending data over long distances using satellites which is potentially unhackable, laying the basis for next generation encryption based on so-called quantum cryptography. Last year, China launched a quantum satellite into space. Using this satellite, Chinese researchers at the Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) project, were now able to transmit secret messages from space to Earth at a further distance than ever before.

The technology is called quantum key distribution (QKD). Typical encryption relies on traditional mathematics and while for now it is more or less adequate and safe from hacking, the development of quantum computing threatens that. Quantum computing refers to a new era of faster and more powerful computers, and the theory goes that they would be able to break current levels of encryption. QKD works by using photons — the particles which transmit light — to transfer data.

QKD allows two distant users, who do not share a long secret key initially, to produce a common, random string of secret bits, called a secret key. Using the one-time pad encryption this key is proven to be secure to encrypt and decrypt a message, which can then be transmitted over a standard communication channel.

The encryption is “unbreakable” and that’s mainly because of the way data is carried via the photon. A photon cannot be perfectly copied and any attempt to measure it will disturb it. This means that a person trying to intercept the data will leave a trace. Any eavesdropper on the quantum channel attempting to gain information of the key will inevitably introduce disturbance to the system, and can be detected by the communicating users.

 

 

  • Project Brainwave

Software giant Microsoft has announced its Project Brainwave deep learning acceleration platform for real-time artificial intelligence (AI). The ‘Project Brainwave’ uses the massive field-programmable gate array (FPGA) infrastructure that Microsoft has been deploying over the past few years. With the help of ultra-low latency, the system processes requests as fast as it receives them. The system architecture reduces latency, since the CPU does not need to process incoming requests, and allows very high throughput, with the FPGA processing requests as fast as the network can stream them. The system has been architected to yield high actual performance across a wide range of complex models, with batch-free execution.

Real-time AI is becoming increasingly important as cloud infrastructures process live data streams, whether they be search queries, videos, sensor streams, or interactions with users.

 

  • Gobindobhog rice, a speciality from Burdwan district of West Bengal, has got the geographical indication (GI) status.

 

SEPTEMBER 2017

Space

CASSINI SPACE CRAFT

 After 20 years in Space, NASA‘s Cassini Spacecraft has made its final death plunge in Saturn recently. It is a well planned demise to prevent any damage to Saturn‘s ocean bearing moons Titan and Enceladus. Cassini was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 1997 and it arrived in Saturn in 2004.

 It is a joint NASA-European space agency mission. It is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn (pioneer 11, Voyager1, Voyager 2) and the first to enter orbit. Its design includes a Saturn Orbiter and a Lander called ―Huygens for the moon Titan. The European Huygens landed on Saturn‘s big moon Titan in 2005. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system.

Black Planet

Astronomers have discovered a black planet using hubble space telescope.

It is formally called as WASP-12b, an exoplanet that reflects almost no light, making it appear essentially pitch black. It orbits its parent star WASP-12A, about 1400 light year away.Its albedo is 0.064, whereas the albedo of earth is 0.3 and moon is 0.12.

v  Astronomers working for Stephen Hawking’s Breakthrough Listen (BL) project detected a mysterious signal in a distant galaxy and termed it a possible extra-terrestrial communication which sparked a controversy. They reportedly picked up 15 fast radio bursts (FRBs) from a source unknown and are not sure if they came from neutron stars, black holes or extraterrestrial lives across the universe.

What is a fast radio burst?

In radio astronomy, a fast radio burst (FRB) is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon of unknown origin manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds. Fast radio bursts are bright, unresolved (pointsource-like), broadband (spanning a large range of radio frequencies), millisecond flashes found in parts of the sky outside the Milky Way. Unlike many radio sources the signal from a burst is detected in a short period of time with enough strength to stand out from the noise floor.

v  Scientists are developing an ultra-thin spacecraft that can remove space debris – which potentially threaten satellites or astronauts – by enveloping junk in the Earth’s orbit and dragging it through the atmosphere, causing it to burn up. The Brane Craft, being developed by US-based Aerospace Corporation, is a flexible and less than half the thickness of a human hair.

 

v  In December 2016, Japan sent H-II Transfer Vehicle Kounotori 6 (HTV6) into space to deliver supplies to the ISS. The same cargo ship was also supposed to complete another mission during its return journey – clean up space debris. However, the experimental Japanese probe failed in its mission to clear space junk from the Earth’s orbit.

Incidents so far:

In 2013, Russian satellite, Blits, was damaged after colliding with debris created when China shot down an old weather satellite in 2007.

v  NASA’s Cassini has completed a final, distant flyby of Saturns’s giant moon Titan. This distant encounter is referred to informally as “the goodbye kiss” by mission engineers, because it provides a gravitational nudge that sends the spacecraft toward its dramatic ending in Saturn’s upper atmosphere.With this, the spacecraft’s mission is all set to when it enters the planet’s atmosphere and disintegrates. In its final hours, Cassini will relay as much data as it can back to Earth before it dies. NASA hopes the data collected from the final descent will allow scientists to understand more about the planet’s atmosphere and interior.

 

Background:

Launched in 1997, the Cassini mission — a cooperation between NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency — has sent back thousands of stunning images and made numerous discoveries about the ringed planet and its moons.

About Cassini Mission:

Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit. Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan. The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005. The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.

 

v  Over 70 years after Indian astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar predicted that rapidly rotating stars would emit polarised light, scientists in Australia have observed the phenomenon for the first time. Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and University College London in the UK used a highly sensitive piece of equipment to detect the polarised light from Regulus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky. The equipment provided unprecedented insights into the star, which is in the constellation Leo, allowing the scientists to determine its rate of spinning and the orientation in space of the star’s spin axis.

 

Background:

In 1946, Chandrasekhar predicted the emission of polarised light from the edges of stars, prompting the development of sensitive instruments called stellar polarimeters to try to detect this effect. In 1968, other researchers built on Chandrasekhar’s work to predict that the distorted, or squashed, shape of a rapidly rotating star would lead to the emission of polarised light, but its detection has eluded astronomers until now.

Polarized light:

Optical polarisation is a measure of the orientation of the oscillations of a light beam to its direction of travel.

 

 

Defence

Trawl System

 DRDO has recently undertaken the indigenous development of Trawl System.  Trawl System is employed for breaching of land mines and creating a vehicle safe lane, for the advancement of

mechanized forces in combat zone. The indigenous development is an important step towards achieving self-reliance in area of critical military equipment under ‗Make in India‘ initiative.

PralaySahayam

Ministry of Defence hosted a multi-agency exercise ―PralaySahayam on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad. The event demonstrated efforts of all central and state agencies, NDRF and the Armed Forces towards jointly tackling an urban flooding scenario in Hyderabad.

v  INS Tarasa

 INS Tarasa, a Water Jet Fast Attack Craft was commissioned into the Indian Navy.

 

v  Exercise YudhAbhyas–  2017

 It is a joint military training, being conducted at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, USA between India and USA, as part of the ongoing defence cooperation. It is one of the largest joint running military training and defence corporation endeavors between India and USA.

 

Operation Insaaniyat

 The operation is carried out by Indian Government providing humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh on account of influx of refugees from Myanmar.  As part of this operation, the Indian Air Force was tasked to airlift the relief material from India to Bangladesh.

 

ATAGS

 Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) is a indigenous artillery gun which has set a new world record in range by hitting targets at a distance of 48 km. It is being jointly developed by the DRDO and the private sector.  The development is being done through a consortium based model, similar to that adopted for the pinaka multi-barrel rocket launch system.  The Army has not inducted any new artillery gun since the Bofors in the 1980’s.  Last year, India signed a contract for 145 M-777 Ultra-Light Howitzers from the US.

 

 

 

  • EXTRINSIC INCUBATION PERIOD (EIP) OF THE DENGUE VIRUS

Recent Indian study finds that it is possible to forecast the outbreak of the dengue.  _Study focuses on changes in a factor called extrinsic incubation period (EIP) of the dengue virus, by taking into account daily and monthly mean temperatures different climatic zones.  _The EIP is the time taken for incubation of the virus in the mosquito.  _During this period, after the mosquito draws blood that is rich in viruses, it escapes the gut and passes through the mosquito‘s body and reaches its salivary glands.

 _Once this happens, the mosquito is infectious and capable of transmitting the virus to a human host.

 

What are the outcomes of the study?

 _Climatic conditions play an important role in EIP.  _Lower temperatures (17-18°C) result in longer EIPs thereby leading to decreased virus transmission.  _From 17 to 30°C, dengue transmission increases fourfold, feeding increases because of the enhanced metabolism of the mosquito, leading to shorter EIPs.  _A further increase in temperature beyond 35°C is detrimental to the mosquito‘s survival.  _There is a strong correlation between rainfall and dengue numbers, they propose an increase in breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

 

 

  • Switching over to VoLTE

With the VoLTE revolution kick started by the Reliance Jio, Indian telecom players are battling to retain their competitive position in the market.

What is VoLTE?

Voice over Long-Term Evolution (VoLTE) is a standard for high-speed wireless communication for mobile phones and data terminals. Under the earlier LTE, the infrastructure of telecom players only allows transmission of data while voice calls are routed to their older 2G or 3G networks. Thus under LTE, one cannot access the 4G data services while on a call. On the other hand, VoLTE, a technology update to the LTE protocol, allows voice calls to be packaged‘ and carried through LTE networks. This would mean 4G data accessibility even during calls.

 

What are the benefits of VoLTE?

 _VoLTE allows voice service being delivered as data flows within the LTE data bearer. VoLTE is an Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) specification. _IMS enables a variety of services

to operate seamlessly on the network rather than having to switch to different applications for voice or video. The various benefits of VoLTE thus include:

  1. high definition voice quality, superior to the previous networks.
  2. faster, better and wider data connectivity.
  3. network would pick up 2G or 3G signals when VoLTE is unavailable, ensuring connection with both voice and data.
  4. video calls directly from the mobile number; this could avoid the necessity for applications such as Skype or Viber.
  5. asVoLTE counts voice calls as data usage, billing will be in terms of data consumption rather than minutes of usage.
  6. better battery life as battery consumption due to switching and searching for a network from 4G to 3G to place a call is not required under VoLTE.
  7. VoLTE thus facilitates a range of services such as video calling, file transfer, real time language translation and voice mail services.

What are the challenges?

 _The service might be limited to mobile phones that are equipped with software to allow VoLTE function. Also, there is a possibility for call drops in the initial stages of implementation. Due to costs and complexity involved in the infrastructure, mobile phones and telecom operators may find it hard for adopting it immediately.  _Also, the incumbent operators are still dependent on revenue from voice, making them hesitant to switch over to VoLTE.  _These factors could prove them uncompetitive in the market.  _From the consumer end, the present free voice calls under VoLTE are not sure to continue with gradual change in pricing plans in future.

 

 

  • Fourth Gravitational Wave

 A fourth gravitational wave has been detected with help from Italy-based equipment Virgo detector.

 The latest space-time ripples were detected two giant black holes about 1.8 billion light-years away.

 The Virgo detector is an underground L-shaped instrument that tracks gravitational waves using the physics of laser light and space. The underground stations are known as interferometers, do not rely on light in the sky, but instead sense vibrations in space created by a gravitational wave. Previously, gravitational waves have been found using two U.S.-based detectors known as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

 

 

  • Molecular robot

 Recently scientists have created the world‘s first molecular robot‘ millionth of a millimetre in size.

 To put that size into context, a billion of these robots piled on top of each other would still only be the same size as a single grain of salt. These tiny robots can be programmed to move and build molecular cargo using a tiny robotic arm

  • Kinome

 It is the complete set of protein kinases that make up the genome of an organism.

 A protein kinase is an enzyme that modifies other proteins by chemically adding phosphate groups to them.

 It constitutes 2% of all human genes and 30% of all human proteins are modified by kinase activity.

Bio film

 Bio films are communities of microorganisms that attach to each other and to surfaces.

 They are able to act as barriers to antibiotics.

 During times of hostile conditions, such as increased temperature and presence of antibiotics, bacteria tend to

come together and form a bio film to protect them.

 The stress response pathway is crucial for bacteria to survive during hostile conditions.

 Scientists have recently found two new molecules capable of destroying bio film forming bacteria

 

  • The world’s largest X-ray laser- European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL)- is all set to open in Germany, promising to shed new light onto very small things by letting scientists penetrate the inner workings of atoms, viruses and chemical reactions.

Key facts:

The 1.5-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) facility, which took 8 years to build with funding from 11 countries, has been hailed as one of the largest and most ambitious European research projects ever. It boasts a list of superlatives: the light’s brilliance is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources. The mega-project will generate extremely intense laser flashes, at a mind-boggling rate of 27,000 per second, inside a 3.4-kilometer (2.1-mile) tunnel up to 38 meters (125 feet) below the northern city of Hamburg. This ultrafast strobe light will allow researchers for the first time to look deep inside matter and take snapshots and films at the nano-level.

Applications:

The huge laser is “like a camera and a microscope that will make it possible to see more tiny details and processes in the nano-world than ever before. Teams from around the world will be able to map the atomic details of viruses, take 3-D images of the molecular make-up of cells or film chemical reactions as they happen.

The applications are sweeping – images of biomolecules may help understand and treat illnesses, while a peek inside a building material might explain why it tears or cracks.

The light beams can also be bundled to create extreme pressure and temperatures to study process like those at the Earth’s core.

 

  • INDIA’S FIRST HYPERLOOP

The government of Andhra Pradesh has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with California-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) to develop India’s first Hyperloop route in the state.

Key facts:

The proposed route for the Hyperloop between the city centers of Vijaywada and Amaravaticould potentially turn a trip of more than one hour into a 6 minute ride. The project will use a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with funding primarily from private investors.

 

Background:

Amaravati is a state-of-the-art city being developed in Andhra Pradesh as its de facto capital. In order to boost its image and emerge as the frontier city in future technology, Amaravati is looking forward to collaborating with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. Hyperloop is a cutting-edge technological disruption in the transportation industry.

 

  • Sahara Forest Project

A new project named “Sahara Forest Project” has been launched in Jordan. It aims to turn Jordan’s sand dunes into farming land to produce food using sun and sea water.In the first stage, the project aims to produce up to 130 tonnes of organic vegetables per year from an area the size of four football pitches. It also produces fresh water. It will use solar panels to provide power and include outdoor

planting space, two saltwater-cooled greenhouses, a water desalination unit and salt ponds for salt production. The project, whose funders include Norway and the European Union, is to be expanded from three hectares to around 200 hectares of desert.

 

Need for such innovative initiatives:

According to recent United Nations estimations, deserts are expanding 30 times faster than at any time in history. In Africa, where the worst effects of climate changes are already visible, millions are on the move in search of arable land. With the world’s population expected to top 9 billion in 2050, land for food growth is growing scarce.

Way ahead:

The Sahara Forest Project demonstrates that innovative application of technology has the potential to revolutionize our land systems in a way that benefits the climate, people, and businesses.

 

  • Scientists have found a way to produce methanol — an important chemical often used as fuel in vehicles — using oxygen in the air, an advance that may lead to cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide. How was it produced?

Methanol was produced using nanoparticles of gold to initiate a chemical reaction between methane, oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. It can be done in one stage and at temperatures no higher than 50C (122F).

Significance of this discovery:

It could become an alternative to petrol. It is also believed the new system of creating methanol could be used to create chemicals and plastics.

The discovery promises to be not only cheaper, but much more environmentally friendly, as it both reduces energy consumption and conserves dwindling stocks of natural gas.

 

  • PtDeenDayalUpadhayayVigyan Gram SankulPariyojana

The government has launched “PtDeenDayalUpadhayayVigyan Gram SankulPariyojana” which will experiment and endeavour to formulate and implement appropriate S&T Interventions for Sustainable Development through cluster approach in Uttarakhand.

Key facts:

Under the scheme, the department of science and technology has conceived to adopt a few clusters of villages in Uttarakhand and transform them to become self-sustainable in a time bound manner through the tools of Science and Technology (S&T).

The key deliverable in this approach is to utilise local resources and locally available skill sets and convert them in a manner using science and technology, that substantial value addition takes place in their local produce and services which can sustain the rural population locally.

Further, the local communities are not compelled to migrate from their native places in search of jobs and livelihoods.

Areas of interventions in these selected clusters would be processing and value addition of milk, honey, mushroom, herbal tea, forest produce, horticulture and local crops, medicinal & aromatic plants and traditional craft and handloom of Uttarakhand

 

 

  • In order to facilitate the smooth roll-out of machine-to-machine (M2M) communications utilizing licence exempt airwaves, sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has recommended delicensing of a chunk of spectrum in a few bands.

Important recommendations made:

Allocation of spectrum: Spectrum allocation should be technology and service neutral and no separate spectrum band should be allocated exclusively for M2M services. However, in order to facilitate the smooth roll-out of M2M services utilizing licence exempt spectrum, 1 MHz of spectrum at 868 MHz (867-868) and a chunk of 6 MHz of spectrum at 915-935 MHz is recommended to be delicensed. Delicensng the V-band (57-64 GHz) on various occasions may be done on priority.

Composition of M2M apex body: Regulatory authorities whose sector would get impacted by M2M communications like Trai, Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, National Highways Authority of India, Inland Waterways Authority of India, Central Electricity Regulatory Commission etc and Ministry of Law and Justice should be members in M2M apex body formed by Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Registration: M2M service providers should register with DoT and all access service providers and unified licence holders using licenced spectrum shall be allowed to provide M2M services. All unified licence virtual network operators shall be accordingly be allowed to provide M2M connectivity and DoT may amend the licence condition for the same.

What is M2M?

M2M is the basis for automated information exchange between machines and can impact various industry verticals like smart city, smart grid, smart water, smart transportation, smart health etc. The government has also recognized the potential of M2M and emphasized the same in National Telecom Policy 2012.

 

 

  • The government has set up a high level forum to evaluate roadmaps and formulate a strategy to adopt 5G in the country by 2020.5G is a wireless communication technology. It is the next generation mobile networks technology after 4G LTE networks.

 The final standard for 5G will be set up by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Advantages of 5G

 As per the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Committee on Digital Economic Policy, 5G technologies rollout will help in increasing GDP, creating employment and

digitizing the economy.

 The 5G technology will offer far greater upload and download speed available today. This will help cloud systems to stream software updates, music, and navigation data to driverless cars. In other words, it will help aid incorporate Artificial Intelligence in our lives.

 It will enable Smart devices to exchange data seamlessly providing the ecosystem for Internet of Things (IoT).

Challenges

 India lacks a strong backhaul to transition to 5G. Backhaul is a network that connects cells sites to central exchange. As of now 80% of cell sites are connected through microwave backhaul, while under 20% sites are connected through fiber. The former has bandwidth issues as it uses traditional bands while the latter provides low latency and unlimited capacity (a prerequisite for 5G).

 The Indian market is yet to adapt to 4G completely and has not fully evolved to experience an AI revolution.

Way Forward

 Fiberization of Backhaul must be carried out for the smooth adoption of 5G.

 Regulatory issues must be revisited in order to overhaul the spectrum licensing regime.

 5G capable technology must be deployed on a large scale in order to prepare for its adoption.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under Ministry of Science and Technology has announced a series of new programs and missions to bring about paradigm shift in the field of biotechnology in the North Eastern Region (NER). Background  _NER is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. The unique bio-geographical conditions of the region provide huge potential to the region for development of agriculture and other activities such as biotechnological research, research in pharmaceuticals etc. thus furthering the economic development of the region.  _In this endeavour to exploit the potential of NER, DBT has been carrying out consistent efforts for biotechnological research and development work which will help to obtain highly profitable patent on endemic species.  _In 2009-10 DBT had also set up a North Eastern Region – Biotechnology Program Management Cell (NER-BPMC) for coordinating and promoting the biotechnological activities in the NER with annual investment of 180 crores. DBT also dedicated 10% of the budget to NER.  _As a result of these efforts NER has become a major hub of Biotechnological research with state of the art facility and there has also been a rise in innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

Recent Programs and Missions Launched by DBT

 _Phyto-Pharma Plant Mission o The mission would work towards conservation and cultivation of endangered and threatened species o Major objectives of the mission are: Captive cultivation of selected medicinal plants of NER which ensure supply of raw materials to user industries. Development of packaging technology for good manufacturing practice grade medicinal plant extracts for export market.Production of safe efficacious phyto-pharmaceutical drugs using modern technology following global standards.

 _Brahmaputra Biodiversity and Biology Boat (B4)  In an effort towards conservation of world’s largest riverine island and India’s first island district – Majuli, B4 program has been launched in collaboration with DONER. Majuli is under grave threat from the excessive erosion which had shrunk the 1200 square kilometre island to just 500 square kilometres at present. oUnder this program, large boats will be set up in the river which will have a well-equipped laboratory along with cold storage facility to store samples. It will also have a number of satellite boats and rafts will also venture in the river to collect samples. oThe laboratory would help to monitor all the components of the entire ecosystem thus keeping a constant check on the impact of the various environmental and anthropological factors that affect the river and mitigate their effect.

 _Human Resource Skilling Programs o Twinning R&D Program – Under this program DBT has initiated establishment of link institutes in NER with the rest of the country. This has resulted in 252 research publications and 600 junior and senior fellowship being awarded to the students in biotechnology research.

Biotechnology Labs in Senior Secondary Schools (BLiSS) Program for promoting biotechnology at school level. oBioinformatics Centre – 30 centres have established for conducting research on genomics, proteomics and data analysis.

Biotech Industrial Training Program – The program has been launched to provide industry-specific training to Biotech students for skill development and enhancing their job opportunities in biotech industry. This will help the biotech industry to raise suitable manpower and the trainees will also be given a stipend.

DBT e-Library consortium (DeLCON) – This is a unique Electronic Journal Consortium in operation since January 2009 which provides students access to world class journals and publications. At present 16 DBT institutions and 18 NER Institutions provide access to more than 900 high impact journals.  _Infrastructure and Resource binding o Infrastructural support has been provided by establishment of 126 biotech Hubs at various institutions.

Animal House facility at Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Dibrugarhhas been sanctioned a grant of 45 crore which can be accessed by the entire biomedical research facilities in NER for critical animal experiments in disease biology, molecular medicine, vaccinology and pharmacology.

Advance Animal Disease Diagnostic & Management Consortium (ADMaC) for surveillance and control of trans-boundary, exotic and zoonotic pathogens from NER is also being carried on.

DBT has also launched a major network programme on chemical ecology of NER in collaboration with IISc, NCBS, and UAS Bangalore for conservation of delicate ecology of NER. oDBT is also planning for the development of NER-Scented Rice and NER-Banana.

 

  • ARTIFICIAL LEAF

CSIR have developed an artificial leaf that absorbs sunlight to generate hydrogen fuel from water. Mechanism  _Artificial leaf is an ultra-thin wireless device that consists of semi-conductors stacked in such a manner as to simulate the natural leaf system.  _When visible light strikes the semi-conductors electrons move in single direction thus producing electric current which almost instantaneously splits water into hydrogen.  _A palm size artificial leaf can produce six litres of hydrogen fuel per hour thus making it extremely environment friendly. Significance  _Artificial leaf can help provide Sustainable solutions of Hydrogen generation, as current methods of Hydrogen generation emits a lot of carbon dioxide.  _The hydrogen produced can be used to power fuel cells which give energy and their only by-product is water.  _It will boost India’s green energy development as the only input for artificial leaf is Sunlight which is abundantly available in India.  _In future a car fuelled by hydrogen generated from the artificial leaf process can become a reality thus paving the way for Greener transport solutions in India. Bionic Leaf uses solar energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels from CO2.

 

  • Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or “monkey fever”,

Scientists have traced the source of a re-emerging disease, Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) or “monkey fever”, to cashew plantations in Goa. What is monkey fever?  _It is caused by Kyasanur forest disease virus (KFDV), a member of the virus family Flaviviridae, which also causes yellow fever and dengue.  _It was first detected in 1957 in Shimoga, Karnataka and is endemic to South Asia.  _Monkey fever is so named because it primarily affects black-faced langurs and red-faced bonnet monkeys and result in death. Even when the monkey dies still the KFD virus gets transmitted through ticks thriving on monkeys.  _The Hard ticks (Hemaphysalisspinigera) are the reservoir of KFDV. These ticks are known to thrive in the Western Ghats and transmit the disease to humans.

 

  • Singapore based marketing agency and Maharashtra based NGO developed a Vermillion (Bindi) named Jeevan- Bindiwhich contains iodine

 

 

 

OCTOBER 2017

Nobel prize 2017

Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish‘s and Kip Thorne‘s were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for physics for their contribution to the LIGO-VIRGO project and its detection of gravitational waves. What is project about?

Research – Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory – LIGO was built in the US to detect gravitational waves.In collaboration with Italy based VIRGO observatory, LIGO detected gravitational waves for the first time in 2015. Since then, the LIGO-VIRGO collaboration has detected such signals four times.

Significance – The first detection made in 2015 revealed the merger of two black holes – 1.3 billion years ago.

 Hence, gravitational wave observations could unravel many more mysteries pertaining to the early days of the universe‘s existence.

 Gravitational wave astronomy is hence a science of the near future whereby black holes, neutron stars may be mapped.

 The advantage of having multiple detectors is that the location of the source can be determined more accurately.  More observatories are in the pipeline to add to the current 3 of which 2 belongs to LIGO & 1 to VIRGOThe Japanese KAGRA detector is set to go online in 2019 and LIGO India set to join by 2024.

 

Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash & Michael W. Young are to be jointly awarded the 2017 ―Nobel Prize for Medicine. The award is for their work in discovering the mechanisms controlling the internal clocks in living organisms.

What is their research about?

 The trio‘s work was in ‗Chrono Biology‘ – A science that examines periodic phenomena in living organisms in relation to nature.  They made significant contributions in unravelling the genetic coding and protein pathways that regulate the circadian rhythm.  This rhythm is what tells us when it is time to eat, sleep or wake up – even when we have no bedside alarm.

 

What were the achievements of the trio?

 Isolation of a gene called Period

in fruit-flies that disrupted its circadian clock was the most important achievement.

PER – A protein named ‗PER‘ that serves as a functional communicator for the ‗Period Gene‘ was discovered.  PER was found to accumulate at night & diminish during the day.

Timeless – A second gene called ‗Timeless‘ that acts through its ‗TIM protein‘ in conjunction with ‗PER‘ was also identified.

 This was found to cause the seesawing of cellular protein levels.

Doubletime – A third gene called ‗Doubletime‘ was discovered to be the regulator of the frequency of the oscillations.

 

Richard.H.Thaler, an American received Nobel Prize for his behavioural Economic theory. What are the bases of economic theories?

 Most economic theories are based on a certain set of assumptions without which it would be difficult to talk in a coherent fashion about any theory; these assumptions simplify the complex everyday reality.

 So an economic model could assume that economic agents have perfect information or that the transaction costs are zero.

 In a similar vein, one of the dominant assumptions has been about economic agents being rational.

 That is to say, they only act in self-interest, but often  there are gaps between the behaviour as predicted by the model and as it is in reality.

 

What is the finding of Thaler?

 He has refined economic analysis by taking into account three psychological traits

Limited rationality – It underlines that it is not realistic to assume that individuals could be completely rational and think of all possible effects of their choices.

 Thaler built on this insight to come up with his theory of mental accounting, which describes how people organise, formulate and evaluate financial decisions.

 For instance, this tendency to create separate mental accounts for day-to-day expenses and holiday expenditure explains why individuals might not dip into their long-term savings and instead use a credit card to tide over some imbalances in daily expenses.

Perceptions about fairness – Full rationality assumption of traditional theories cannot explain behaviour when it deviates to accommodate an individual‘s sense of fairness.

 Through large experiments, Mr Thaler shown how people can set aside personal gain and concern themselves with questions of fairness.

 For instance, Consumers judge negatively a company which is seen to be unjustly raising prices in times of pressure.

Lack of self-control – Actual human behaviour has shown that people may, contrary to notions of rationality, choose something that goes against their interest.

 For instance, a smoker who chooses to yield to an immediate temptation instead of favouring better health in the longer term.

 

Why Thalers contribution is significant?

 His contribution goes to the very heart of economic modelling and has a profound impact on many areas of economic research.

 Since field of economics concerns itself with how human behaviour explains the deviations from the established theoretical model, it has wide-ranging impact.

 Studying the so-called ―irrationalities has implications for

1. Financial behaviour – Something like unjustified market volatility

2. Marketing – The ―buy two get one free schemes providing a sense of having gained.

3. Public policy making – Wherein politicians ―nudge individuals towards a societal improvement.

 

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

It was awarded for the development of technique called ―cryo-electron microscopy to Jacques dubochet( switzerland) and Jaochim Frank(usa) and Richard Henderson (uk) which helps in

determining the structure of biomolecules in solution.It takes accurate and detailed pictures of living things at atomic scales. The high-resolution, 3D images can help in cancer drug research and better understanding of the Zika virus.

Nobel Prize in Literature

It was awarded to the British novelist of Japanese origin, Kazuo Ishiguro.

According to the Swedish Academy, he is the one “who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.

He had also received four Man Booker Prize nominations and won the 1989 award for his novel The Remains of the Day.

 

 

 

  • nilavembukudineer

Tamil Nadu with one of the worst dengue epidemics it has seen.  As part of its response, the government is freely distributing a herbal concoction called nilavembukudineer.

What is nilavembu?

 One of the core ingredients of the niluvembukudineer is andrographispaniculata (AP).  It is used in herbal medicine systems across South Asia. It is recommended for fevers under the ancient Siddha system of medicine.  Even though there is no evidence of their efficacy, nilavembu along with other alternative remedies such as papaya-leaf juice and goat milk are used by many during epidemics.

 

Is it really effective?

 Some evidence exists for its potency against a range of illnesses.

 AP is known to inhibit the dengue virus in animal cells in a laboratory, and to reduce symptoms of respiratory tract infections in small human trials.  innumerable other herbal remedies also show such early promise.

 

Space

Quasi-Zenith Satellite System

Quasi-Zenith is a regional terrestrial positioning network system launched by Japan.

The satellite system consists of 4 satellites which will operate at an altitude of between 33,000 and 39,000 km above the earth in geosynchronous orbit. Its function is to improve GPS data accuracy for smartphones and vehicle navigation systems and complementary use of GPS.Japan recently launched its fourth and final quasi-zenith satellite into orbit.

 

Dawn Mission

Dawn mission was launched by NASA deploying spacecrafts to orbit extra terrestrial objects.

It is the only mission ever to orbit two extraterrestrial targets. It orbited giant asteroid Vesta for 14 months from 2011 to 2012, then continued on to Ceres, where it has been in orbit since March 2015.

Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA has recently authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before at the dwarf planet, which it has been orbiting since 2015.

 

Global Aurora

Recently, a strong solar storm hit Mars sparking a global aurora and doubling radiation levels on the red planet.This aurora is 25 times brighter than any previously seen by the MAVEN orbiter.

The event has occurred strangely during the Sun‘s 11-year sunspot and storm-activity cycle.

These events will improve the understanding the effects of solar storm on the Martian environment.

Comet Rings

NASA Scientists have spotted narrow dense rings of comets coming together to form massive planets.

It is found on the outskirts of at least 3 distant solar systems with at least the size of a few Earths.

Its mass is estimated based on the amount of light they reflect.The bright outer rings composed of comet like bodies at 75 to 200 astronomical units from their parent stars which is about 2 to 7 times the distance of Pluto from our own Sun. The composition of the material in these rings varies from ice – rich to ice- depleted but carbon rich.The scientists are especially intrigued by the red dust ring surrounding the planet ―HR 4796A‖, which shows unusually tight form for an infant solar system.

 

 

Defence

US-2 Amphibian

It is Japan’s aircraft, designed for air-sea recue work.The Indian government has been keen on acquiring the US-2i as part of their expanding bilateral strategic partnership.

The aircraft has an approximate operational range of 4500 km and a cruise speed of 480 km/hr. It does not require runway construction.

INS Chakra

INS Chakra belongs to Akula-class nuclear powered Submarine.

It was taken from Russia on a 10 year lease period.

Originally named as K-152 Nerpa, it was handed over to the Indian Navy in 2011.

Though it is a nuclear powered submarine, it carries only conventional weapons and not nuclear tipped

missiles.

It is based at INS Virbahu, the submarine base in Visakhapatnam.

It is the second nuclear submarine after the indigenously built INS Arihant.

INS Arihant is capable of launching nuclear-tipped submarine ballistic missiles.

Khanderi

It is the second Scorpene Submarine built under the Project-75, following INS Kalvari.

It was named after an island fort of Maratha ruler ChhatrapatiShivaji.

It was launched in January and sea trials have begun. It is expected to be commissioned within this year.

It is followed by third Scorpene Submarine known as ―Karanj‖.

Scorpene Submarines are class of diesel-electric attack submarine which is designed by French naval defence

and energy company DCNS and being manufactured by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

It features additional air-independent propulsion (AIP).

INS Vikramaditya

US team members of joint working group (JWG) on aircraft carrier cooperation have been allowed to visit and operate Russian built Aircraft INS Vikramaditya. INS Vikramaditya is a Kiev class aircraft carrier which was commissioned by Russian Navy in 1987 under the name Baku.It was later renamed as Admiral Gorshkov and later offered to India in 2004.It is the biggest and heaviest ship to be operated by the Indian Navy.

INS Vishal

INS Vishal is a follow up of INS Vikrant class air craft carriers.It is currently being built by Cochin Shipyard limited for the Indian Navy.It is intended to be the first supercarrier to be built in India.

It would be a 65,000-70,000 tonne, nuclear-powered vessel that launched aircraft with an “electro-magnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS)”.

EMALS uses electro-magnetic energy to catapult aircraft to launch speed.

India’s selection of EMALS would allow the US a place in the design of the ship.

INS Aridhaman

It is India‘s second strategic nuclear submarine which is going to be launched soon.

Aridhaman belongs to Arihant class submarine, carrying ballistic missiles and powered by light water nuclear water.

It will carry K-15 and K-4 ballistic missiles as does INS Arihant.

K-4 is an intermediate range ballistic missile that can hit targets as far as 3500 km.

INS Arihant was inducted into service in 2016.

It made India the only country apart from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to operate a homemade nuclear U-boat.

Nuclear submarines are those that are powered by onboard nuclear reactors whereas conventional submarines generate energy by burning diesel, which requires air.

INS Kiltan

It is the indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare stealth corvette.

It has been recently inducted into the Indian Navy.

It is the latest indigenous warship after Shivalik Class, Kolkata Class and sister ships INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt.

It is India’s first major warship to have a superstructure of carbon fibre composite material resulting in

improved stealth features.

The ship derives its name from one of the islands in Aminidivi group of the Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of islands.

INS Sukanya

The Sukanya-class patrol vessels are large, offshore patrol craft in active service with the Indian Navy.

Currently there are 3 lead ships under this class – INS Sukanya, Subhadra and Suvarna.

INS Sukanya has recently participated in the bilateral exercise CORPAT (Coordinated Patrol) between India and Indonesia.

The exercise is aimed to foster closer maritime ties with countries located on the rim of the Indian Ocean.

Vikram Class offshore Patrol Vessel

Vikram is the first of a series of seven offshore patrol vessels (OPV).

OPV are long-range surface ships capable of coastal and off-shore patrolling, policing maritime zones, control & surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations.

It is the country’s first-ever such defence craft to be built in a private shipyard (L&T).

It is likely to be inducted into the Indian Coast Guard in April 2018.

Project 28

Project 28 is a class of anti-submarine warfare corvettes currently in service with the Indian Navy.

They are the first anti-submarine warfare stealth corvettes to be built in India.

The Project was approved in 2003, with construction of the lead ship, INS Kamorta commencing on 2005. Three of the four corvettes, INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt, INS Kiltan were commissioned in 2014, 2016 and 2017 respectively.INS Kavaratti is under construction and slated to be completed by end of 2017.

Indra-2017

Indra is the joint exercise of India and Russia. Exercise INDRA in its previous 9 years has been conducted as a single service exercise alternately between the two countries.

This year, it has been upgraded to involve all the three Services of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy & Air Force). Thus it is the First Ever International Tri Service Exercise.It will be conducted in Russia and the main focus of the joint exercise will be counter-terrorism.

The Indian Air Force had participated in an exercise ‘AviaIndra’ with Russian air force in 2014.

Mitra Shakti

It is India-Sri Lanka joint military exercise.

It had started in 2012 as a response to China‘s efforts to increase its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. This year exercise, fifth in the series will be held in Pune.

The armies of India and Sri Lanka also serve together in the United Nations Peacekeeping missions.

VARUNA

Recently, India and France discussed about enhancing the scope of their joint exercises, in particular the VARUNA naval exercise scheduled in early 2018.

Both countries will also actively explore additional measures to facilitate operational level interactions between their respective armed forces.

 

 

 

 

  • Two Teams from IIT Hyderabad and IIT Bombay are working on achieving promising results on skin cancer Nanoparticle formulation of a chlorophyll-rich biomolecular extract of an Indian medicinal plant Anthocephalus cadamba combined with a near-infrared dye has been found to selectively kill skin cancer cells. The plant extract is toxic to cancer cells as there is enhanced generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) while the dye aids in the destruction of cancer cells through photothermal therapy. On being irradiated with near-infrared light, the dye gets heated up and facilitates the release of the extract from polymer membrane. After 4-5 minutes of irradiation, about 80% of cancer cells were killed

 

  • Scientists in India have discovered a 152 million-year-old fossil of an Ichthyosaur – an extinct marine reptile – in the western state of Gujarat.The fossil (5.5 m) was found inside rocks from the Mesozoic Era, which ran between 252 and 66 million years ago, in the Kutch desert.

Specimen can be identified with Ophthalmosauridae, a family of ichthyosaurs that lived in the oceans between 165 and 90 million years ago.

Ichthyosaur: Often misidentified as “swimming dinosaurs”, they first appeared in the early Triassic period. The name means fish-lizard, although the creature has been classified as a reptile since the mid-19th Century.The creature was noted for its sharp, robust teeth. Ichthyosaurs became extinct before the dinosaurs, dying out in the early part of the late Cretaceous period .

 

 

  • Parasite Leishmania donovani is believed to be responsible for the dreaded infection. People get infected when bitten by an insect called the sandfly, which harbours the disease-causing parasite.

Kala-azar:

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), also known as kala-azar, black fever, and Dumdum fever, is the most severe form of leishmaniasis and, without proper diagnosis and treatment, is associated with high fatality. Caused by protozoan parasites of the Leishmania genus migrates to the internal organs such as the liver, spleen (hence “visceral”), and bone marrow .Signs and symptoms include fever, weight loss, fatigue, anemia, and substantial swelling of the liver and spleen. Kala-azar is endemic to the Indian subcontinent in 119 districts in four countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal)

 

  • A new Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) Act 2016 which was notified on 22nd March, 2016, has been brought into force with effect from 12th October, 2017. Parliament had in March 2016 passed the law to replace the BIS Act of 1986.

Highlights of the act:

National standards body: The Act establishes the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) as the National Standards Body of India.

Compulsory certification: The Act has enabling provisions for the Government to bring under compulsory certification regime any goods or article of any scheduled industry, process, system or service which it considers necessary in the public interest or for the protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of the environment, or prevention of unfair trade practices, or national security.

Hallmarking: Enabling provisions have also been made for making hallmarking of the precious metal articles mandatory.

Simplified conformity: The new Act also allows multiple type of simplified conformity assessment schemes including self-declaration of conformity against a standard which will give simplified options to manufacturers to adhere to the standards and get certificate of conformity.

Authority for verification: The Act enables the Central Government to appoint any authority/agency, in addition to the BIS, to verify the conformity of products and services to a standard and issue certificate of conformity.

Repair or recall: There is also a provision for repair or recall, including product liability of the products bearing Standard Mark but not conforming to the relevant Indian Standard.

 

Significance of the new law:

The new Act will further help in ease of doing business in the country, give fillip to Make In India campaign and ensure availability of quality products and services to the consumers.

 

 

NOVEMBER 2017

Space

Cartosat-2 Satellite

ISRO is set to launch 28 commercial satellites along with CartoSat-2 in the upcoming month.

Cartosat is a series of Earth Observation Satellites placed in Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (PSSO).

Aditya-L1 Mission

It is the first Indian mission to study the Sun.It is expected to be launched in 2019 by the launch vehicle PSLV-XL with six payloads from Sriharikota.The main aim of the solar mission is to do coronal and near UV studies.It will be launched into the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point 1 (L1) of the Sun-Earth system.This orbit has the advantage of allowing continuous monitoring of the sun.

EcAMSat Mission

EcAMSat – E.coli Anti-Microbial Satellite Mission was scheduled to be launched to International space station. E.Coli is a common bacterial pathogen linked to urinary tract infections and foodborne illnesses. The mission is intended to investigate spaceflight effects on bacterial antibiotic resistance and its genetic basis. It aims to determine the lowest dose of antibiotic needed to inhibit the growth of E.coli.It will help to determine the appropriate dosages of antibiotics to protect astronaut health during long  duration human space flight and how antibiotic effectiveness may change as a function of stress on Earth.

Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1) Advanced Weather Satellite

NASA has recently launched a next-generation satellite Joint Polar Satellite System-1 (JPSS-1), designed to monitor weather around the world and help improve forecasts. It is a joint venture between the US space agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US scientific agency.

It will orbit the Earth 14 times each day from one pole to the other at 512 miles above the planet.

It is the first in NOAA’s series of four, next-generation operational environmental satellites used for severe weather prediction and environmental monitoring. Four smaller satellites called CubeSats, part of NASA’s educational nano-satellite program, are to be released on the same mission.

Proxima Centauri

Proxima Centauri is the closest star to Sun.

It is a faint red dwarf lying four light years away in the southern constellation of Centaurus.

It is orbited by the Earth-sized Proxima b which is the closest exoplanet to the solar system.

Scientists have recently detected dust belts around Proxima Centauri, by the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory in Chile.

ALMA -the largest astronomical project in existence- is a single telescope of revolutionary design, composed of 66 high precision antennas located on the Chajnantor plateau, 5000 meters altitude in northern Chile.

Who has built it?

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is an international partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan, together with NRC (Canada), NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile.

ASTROSAT: launched in 2015

It is India‘s first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory.

Most other scientific satellites are capable of observing only a narrow range of wavelength band.

But ASTROSAT enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite i.e it observes universe in the optical, Ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Multi-wavelength observations of ASTROSAT can be further extended with co-ordinated observations using other spacecraft and ground based observations.

The Cadmium-Zinc-Telluride Imager (CZTI) is an instrument to observe and image hard X-rays in AstroSat.The latest discovery of it is a polarization analysis of the Crab nebula pulsar.

Space Activities Bill 2017

The government of India has come up with Space Activities Bill 2017, a draft law meant to regulate the space sector.

Background

Department of Space(DoS) is the nodal agency for space activities in India which include:

o Space Infrastructure: spacecraft for various applications and associated ground infrastructure

o Space Transportation systems: various class of launch vehicles and associated ground infrastructure Space applications: for various national requirements through establishment of necessary ground infrastructure and coordination mechanisms.

 Space activities in India till now have been governed by Satellite Communication Policy, 2000 (which enacted a framework to provide licenses to private sector players to operate communication satellites over India) and the Remote Sensing Data Policy, 2011.

 However apart from these two policies, there has been no formal law in the country that provided any framework for creating a private space venture.

 Internationally, the outer space activities are governed by relevant chapters of international law in general and by United Nations’ (UN) Treaties and principles evolved under UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) in particular

 

Need for a Space Law

 There has been a growing interest of private sector in the space activities with startups like TeamIndus, Bellatrix Aerospace and Astrome Technologies planning their own space-based products and services.

 The involvement of the emerging private sector becomes crucial as the current manpower of ISRO is not sufficient to meet the increasing demands of satellite launches.

 ISRO has been trying to build the private industrial capabilities in the country to support its activities. Recently, it invited single or combined bids from private players to build up to 18 spacecraft a year.

 But apart from Satellite communication and Remote Sensing Policy, there has been no formal law in the country that provided any framework for creating a private space venture.

 The new Bill encourages the participation of private sector agencies in space activities in India under the guidance and authorisation of the government through the Department of Space.

 

Salient Features of the Draft Law

 The provisions of this Act shall apply to every citizen of India and to all sectors engaged in any space activity in India or outside India.

 A non-transferable licence shall be provided to any person carrying out commercial space activity through an appropriate mechanism.

 The government will maintain a register of all space objects (any object launched or intended to be launched around the earth).

 It will provide professional and technical support for commercial space activity and regulate the procedures for conduct and operation of space activity through a regulatory body.

 If any person undertakes any commercial space activity without authorisation they shall be punished with imprisonment up to 3 years or fined more than ₹1 crore or both.

 

Criticisms

Erroneous Definition of Space Activity – As per the definition of space activity in the bill even data companies handling satellite imagery or universities operating ground facilities for their microsatellites may also need a licence. This might adversely affect the operations of hardware and internet companies.

 

Non-specification of Regulator – As the bill hasn’t specified an independent regulator for the space sector, making DoS the regulator will amount to conflict of interest because DoS is also a service provider through ISRO as well as a commercial operator through Antrix.

One Blanket Law for All Space Activities – Space activities have not been segregated and putting them all under one blanket licence can hinder their efficient functioning.

Non-differentiation of Liabilities – The liabilities of upstream activities such as spaced operations and launch and those of downstream activities such as space-based products/services on the ground are different. However, it hasn’t been defined separately and has been passed on to the players involved.

Non-clarity on Pollution – Pollution to the environment of outer space including celestial bodies has not been defined clearly.

 

THE MOST ANCIENT SPIRAL GALAXY

Scientists have recently discovered the most ancient spiral galaxy in the universe that existed 11 billion years ago.  The discovery was made by Australian National University  (ANU) and Swinburne University of Technology using a technique that combines gravitational lensing with the Near-infrared Integral Field Spectrograph (NIFS).  The galaxy, known as A1689B11, existed just 2.6 billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only one fifth of its present age.  In a spiral galaxy, the stars, gas and dust are gathered in spiral arms that spread outward from the galaxy’s center.   Spiral galaxies are exceptionally rare in the early universe, and this discovery opens the door to investigating how galaxies transition from highly chaotic, turbulent discs to tranquil, thin discs like those of our own Milky Way galaxy

 

 

 

  • COBOTS

Small, collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India. Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.

What is a cobot?

A cobot is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance. They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.

Benefits of Cobots:

Cobots are easy to use, flexible and safe. Unlike industrial robots, cobots don’t need fencing for the protection of workers in the shop floor.

 

  • researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in the U.S. have modified an ordinary laboratory strain of human gut microbe Escherichia coli into the world’s smallest data recorder. Researchers have converted this natural bacterial immune system enabling the bacteria to not only record their interactions with the environment but also time-stamp the events.

How was it created?

Researchers created the microscopic data recorder by taking advantage of CRISPR-Cas, an immune system in many species of bacteria. CRISPR-Cas copies snippets of DNA from invading viruses so that subsequent generations of bacteria can repel these pathogens more effectively.

As a result, the CRISPR locus of the bacterial genome accumulates a chronological record of the bacterial viruses that it and its ancestors have survived. When those same viruses try to infect again, the CRISPR-Cas system can recognise and eliminate them.

Potential applications:

This discovery has formed the groundwork for a new class of technologies that use bacterial cells for everything from disease diagnosis to environmental monitoring. Such bacteria, swallowed by a patient, might be able to record the changes they experience through the whole digestive tract, yielding an unprecedented view of previously inaccessible phenomena.

Other applications could include environmental sensing and basic studies in ecology and microbiology, where bacteria could monitor otherwise invisible changes without disrupting their surroundings.

 

DEFENCE

Brahmos Missile

It is the supersonic cruise missile that can be launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air based platforms.

IAF has successfully test fired the air-launched version of the brahmos for the first time from Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet. With this launch, India has completed the cruise missile triad for land, sea and air variants. The air launched BrahMos missile is a 2.5 ton supersonic air to surface cruise missile with ranges of more than 400 kms. It marks a history as IAF is the first air force in the world to have successfully fired an air launched 2.8 Mach surface attack missile.

It is developed by a joint venture between DRDO of India and NPOM of Russia.

It is a two-stage missile with a solid propellant booster engine in its first stage and the liquid ramjet engine in the second stage. It can carry a conventional warhead weighing 200 to 300kgs.

It uses Transport Launch Canister (TLC) for transportation, storage and launch.The original range was 290 km which was further extended to 450 km after joining MTCR and expected to be

extended even up to 600 km.

Nirbhay Missile

DRDO has successfully tested Nirbhay Cruise Missile recently from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Odisha.

Nirbhay cruise missile is the India‘s first long range sub-sonic cruise missile.

It has an operational range of 1000 km (long range).

It is capable of carrying warheads of up to 300kg at a speed of 0.6 to 0.7 Mach (sub-sonic).

It is a two-stage missile powered by Solid rocket motor booster.

It is guided by a highly advanced indigenously developed inertial navigation system.

 

Smart Anti Airfield Weapon

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have successfully tested Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW).

It is an indigenously developed light weight glide bomb, capable of targeting large enemy infrastructure, like airfields.

It is a long range precision-guided anti-airfield weapon.

It is guided through precision navigation system.

It can reach the targets at greater than 70 km range with high accuracies.

Exercise Blue Flag

Blue Flag is a bi-annual multilateral exercise which aims to strengthen military cooperation amongst

participating nations. This year Indian Air Force will be a part of this exercise which is going to be conducted in Israel. This is the first time the Indian Air Force is operating with Israeli Air Force in a multilateral exercise setting. The exercise would provide a platform for sharing of knowledge, combat experience and in improving operational capability of the participating nations.

Prabal Dostyk

It is a joint training exercise between the Indian Army and the Kazakhstan Army.

It is aimed at enhancing the military ties between the two countries.

The 2017 version is going to be conducted in Bakloh, Himachal Pradesh.

SAMPRITI

It is Indo-Bangladesh Training Exercise aimed to strengthen and broaden the aspects of interoperability

and cooperation between the Indian and Bangladesh Armies.

It is the seventh such exercise in the SAMPRITI series and being organized in Mizoram this year.

 

 

  • Groundnut crop free of toxin

Researchers at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Hyderabad have recently used the gene silencing technique to keep groundnuts free of aflatoxin contamination. Aflatoxin is a toxin produced by the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Researchers deployed two strategies to prevent groundnuts being infected by the fungus.

One is inserting two alfalfa (flowering plant of pea family) genes to enhance immunity against fungal infection and growth. Another is preventing aflatoxin production even in case of any infection through a plant-induced gene silencing technique.

Gene Silencing Technique

Gene silencing is a technique that aims to reduce or eliminate the production of a protein from its corresponding gene. It generally describe the ―switching off‖ of a gene by a mechanism other than

genetic modification It occurs when RNA is unable to make a protein during translation (gene expression). In the groundnut case, the researchers designed two small RNA molecules that silence the fungal genes which produce aflatoxin. When the fungus and plant come in contact with each other the small RNA molecules from the plant enter the fungus and prevent it from producing aflatoxin (protein) by its corresponding gene.

 

 

  • Biomarker

Researchers have recently identified a peptide (biomarker) that could lead to the early detection of

Alzheimer‘s disease. Biomarkers are indicators that help in determining the presence or severity of a disease. The idea is to establish molecular signatures for complicated cases. It is used to have a sound knowledge of the disease progression in different individuals suffering from the disease.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss.

It is a progressive disease, where dementia symptoms gradually worsen over a number of years.

  • Hunters Syndrome

Researchers have recently successfully attempted gene editing inside the human body to correct a defect in the DNA that causes Hunter‘s syndrome. It is a disorder where the body can‘t break down sugar that builds bones, skin, tendons and other tissue. These sugars can build up and damage the body. It appears in children as young as 18 months. It mainly occurs in boys, although very rarely it has been observed in girls. There’s no cure for Hunter syndrome.

 

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Gardens and Research Institute ( Palode, Kerala) have come up with evidence that some carnivorous plants use carbon dioxide (CO2) to attract insects and ants to their prey traps. Carnivorous plants have been known to employ a variety of techniques like nectar, smell, colour and ultraviolet florescence to lure and capture prey.

The Indian pitcher plant (Nepenthes khasiana) uses the gas, both to attract prey and to aid the digestive process. The open Nepenthes pitchers were found to emit CO2 constantly. CO2 inside the pitchers was produced by the respiration of tissues within the cavity.

 

  • The famous Banaganapalle mangoes of Andhra Pradesh and Tulaipanji rice of West Bengal are among the seven commodities that have been granted Geographical Indication (GI) this fiscal year by the Indian patent office.

The other five products which have received the GI tag this year include Pochampally Ikat of Telangana; Gobindobhog rice of West Bengal; Durgi stone carvings and Etikoppaka toys of Andhra Pradesh; and Chakshesang shawl of Nagaland.

 

  • GLEADOVIA KONYAKIANORUM,

Recently, scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic plant and named it Gleadovia konyakianorum, after the Naga Tribe Konyak.

About the new plant

 It has been found in the semi evergreen forest of Nagaland at  an altitude of 1500-1600m above the sea level.   It grows up-to a height of 10cm and has yellow leaves and  white tubular flowers.

 It is a holoparasite which doesn’t have chlorophyll but has a  well-developed vascular system.

 It extracts nutrition with the help of haustorium (a specialised  structure with which the parasite attaches itself to the tissue of  host plant and derive nutrition) from Strobilanthes plants growing on the bank of streams.

The main threat to this species of parasitic plant is habitat destruction caused by illegal felling of trees.

The International Union for Conservation has described its status as ‘data deficient’ as the species have not been reported anywhere else.

 The other three species of Gleadovia genus are found in Manipur, Uttarakhand and China

Parasites are the organisms which live in or on other organisms and survive by deriving nutrients from the host. Types of Parasites:

Holoparasite – are those which depend completely on the host for their nutritional needs.

Hemiparasites – are those which are capable of both photosynthesis and parasitism.

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out in strong support of Net neutrality in a series of recommendations following a long process of consultations on the issue.

The recommendations assume international significance in the heated globe-spanning debate, with the United States’ Federal Communications Commission expected to remove existing guidelines ensuring net neutrality come December.

 

DECEMBER 2017

SPACE

Kepler 90i

NASA has recently announced that it found another solar system with 8 planets. The historic discovery was made by new scientific analysis of data obtained by the Kepler space telescope. Kepler 90 is the first star to host as many planets as our own solar system.

Use of Deep learning neural networks:

The new exoplanets have been discovered using a deep learning neural network — an artificial intelligence tool that mimics the workings of a human brain.

 Scientists “trained” their computer to analyse light readings made by NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, which are archived and made available for anyone to use. During its mission from 2009 to 2013, the Kepler Space Telescope surveyed nearly 200,000 stars, with 35,000 possible planet signals. The network was made to learn to identify true signals using 15,000 previously vetted signals.

 They then studied the weaker signals recorded from 670 star systems that had multiple known planets orbiting them, finally coming up with this discovery. The network also identified another Earth-sized exoplanet, Kepler 80g, orbiting the star Kepler 80. This is a very stable system in which Kepler 80g and four of its neighbours are locked together in a so-called resonant chain.

 

What is Deep Learning?

Deep learning is a machine learning technique that teaches computers to do what comes naturally to humans: learn by example. In deep learning, a computer model learns to perform classification tasks directly from images, text, or sound. Deep learning models can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy, sometimes exceeding human-level performance. Models are trained by using a large set of labeled data and neural network architectures that contain many layers.

Applications:

Deep learning is a key technology behind driverless cars, enabling them to recognize a stop sign, or to distinguish a pedestrian from a lamppost. It is the key to voice control in consumer devices like phones, tablets, TVs, and hands-free speakers. Deep learning is getting lots of attention lately and for good reason. It’s achieving results that were not possible before.

What’s the Difference Between Machine Learning and Deep Learning?

 Deep learning is a specialized form of machine learning. A machine learning workflow starts with relevant features being manually extracted from images. The features are then used to create a model that categorizes the objects in the image. With a deep learning workflow, relevant features are automatically extracted from images. In addition, deep learning performs “end-to-end learning” – where a network is given raw data and a task to perform, such as classification, and it learns how to do this automatically.

 Another key difference is deep learning algorithms scale with data, whereas shallow learning converges. Shallow learning refers to machine learning methods that plateau at a certain level of performance when you add more examples and training data to the network.

 A key advantage of deep learning networks is that they often continue to improve as the size of your data increases.

 

v  Earth in its yearly motion around the Sun passes through a debris trail left behind by a comet. The debris heats up at it enters Earth’s atmosphere and burns up in bright burst of light, it is called meteor shower.

Usually meteor shower happens due to the debris left behind by a Comet. However, it can happen due an asteroid as well such as in the case of Geminid Shower.  Geminid Meteor shower is the dust particle of constellation of Gemini. Earth passes through the path of 3200 Phaethon every year. 3200 Phaethon  is an Apollo Asteroid and has characteristics close to a comet. • Sometime the orbits of an asteroid intersect with the orbit of Mars and Earth. The earth orbiting asteroids are called Apollo Asteroids.

 

Recently government approved establishment of ITCOocean as Category-2  Centre (C2C) through an agreement to be  signed with UNESCO.  • ITCOocean is being set up under  commitment of Govt. of India in helping the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) in their capacity building efforts in areas of Operational Oceanography.

Significance of the Institute

Research and Development – The institute running from its interim facility has already trained more than 681 scientists including 576 from India and 105 from 34 other countries.

• It will provide an opportunity for India to emerge as a leader in the Indian Ocean, forging cooperation among South Asian and African countries.

• The Centre will cater to the increasing worldwide need to build technical and management capacity in marine and coastal sustainability issues as well as efficient management and response to marine natural hazards.

 

v  US government recently declassified information about ―Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATI).This has revived long subdued interests in Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) and Alien life-forms.

v  Chinese satellite which was sent to the skies to look for evidence of the annihilation or decay of dark matter particles in space has detected unexpected and mysterious signals in its measurement of high-energy cosmic rays, bringing scientists closer to proving the existence of the invisible matter. The mysterious dark matter is believed to comprise a quarter of universe.

The satellite, Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), also called Wukong or “Monkey King”, has measured more than 3.5 billion cosmic ray particles with the highest energy up to 100 tera-electron-volts (TeV), including 20 million electrons and positrons, with unprecedented high energy resolution

 

v  Sentinel- 5P, a European satellite tracking the levels air pollutants around the world has beamed back new views of the Earth’s atmosphere, including images of pollution drifting away from power plants in India. The worst of this pollution runs from north of Patna in Bihar to south of Raipur in Chhattisgarh. The Sentinel-5P satellite is designed to make daily global maps of the gases and particles that pollute the air. Sentinel-5P is the latest spacecraft in a fleet of Earth observers being commissioned by the European Union and the European Space Agency. It was launched into an 824 kilometre high orbit by a Russian rocket on October 13 this year. When fully operational, the new Sentinel will be an extremely powerful tool to monitor air quality.

It carries an instrument called Tropomi – a spectrometer that observes the reflected sunlight coming up off the Earth, analysing its many different colours. This helps detect the presence of trace gases such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere.

 

v  NASA’s flying observatory Sofia is preparing for its 2018 campaign, which will include, among others, observations of celestial magnetic fields, star-forming regions, comets and Saturn’s giant moon Titan. This will be the fourth year of full operations for Sofia, short for Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, with observations planned between February 2018 and January 2019.

Significance of the observations:

Scientists believe that the observatory’s investigations will help them understand how magnetic fields affect the rate at which interstellar clouds condense to form new stars. These observations could also help them learn whether the luminosity of these active black holes is driven by star formation or accretion of material onto the central black hole. Sofia will also conduct observations to better understand how methane levels change with seasons on Mars. Water vapor blocks infrared light energy and 99% of the world’s water vapor exists below 39,000 feet. So, the higher altitude you fly, the drier it gets and the more optimal it is for infrared observation

About Sofia:

What is it? Sofia is a Boeing 747SP jetliner modified to carry a 100-inch diameter telescope. It is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Centre, DLR. SOFIA is designed to observe the infrared universe.

 

 

DEFENCE

Akash Missile

Akash is an indigenously developed medium-range, surface-to-air missile defence system. This missile is being inducted into Army as Short Range Surface to Air Missile (SRSAM).It can target aircraft up to 30 km away, at altitudes up to 18,000 m.

Kamov 226T

India and Russia had signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) earlier this year to buy Kamov 226T

helicopters. Under the agreement, India will buy few choppers off the shelf and remaining will be fully built in India. The Kamov 226T is a twin-engine light.The helicopters will replace India’s ageing fleet of Cheetah and Chetak.

 

NETRA

Netra is the first indigenously built Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) developed by

DRDO. This radar system is mounted on Embraer aircraft which gives 240-degree coverage of airspace.

It helps to detect and track aircraft, missiles, ships and vehicles.

The other countries which have developed AEW&C are United States, Russia and Israel.

IL-78 Refueller Aircraft

It is a multi-purpose four-engine turbofan strategic airlifter designed by the Russia.The IAF is one of the few air forces in the world to operate mid-air refuellers. It now operates six Russian IL- 78 refuellers.The name of the air-to-air refuelling method is Probe and Drogue‘.

Mi-8

Mi-8, also known as Pratap, is a helicopter served the IAF since 1969.The Indian Air Force is phasing out the Mi-8 helicopters.

 

v  AAD was recently successfully test-fired from a test range in Odisha.

P-8I

It is a long-range, multimission maritime patrol aircraft manufactured by Boeing, for the Indian Navy.

The aircraft was designed to protect the vast coastline and territorial waters of India.

It can conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (AsuW), intelligence, maritime patrol, and

surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

ICGS Sujay

Samarth Class OPV is a series of six 105m offshore patrol vessel (OPV) being built by Goa Shipyard Limited for

the Indian Coast Guard.

Dhanush Artillery Gun

Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish bofors howitzers. It is a 155 mm gun with a maximum range of 40 km compared to 17 –km range of the original guns. It is expected to be inducted in the Indian Army by 2018.

Army is keen on inducting Dhanush since it has not inducted any new artillery guns since the Bofors

procured in 1980‘s form Sweden.

Exercise Ekuverin

It is the joint military exercise conducted between India and Maldives.

It is being conducted every year alternatively in India and Maldives.

This year, the 8th annual exercise will be conducted in Belagavi, Karnataka.

‘Naseem Al Bahr’

’Naseem Al Bahr’ or ‘Sea Breeze’ is India‘s bilateral naval exercise with the Omani navy conducted since 1993.

The 11th edition of the exercise was recently held off the coast of Oman.

 

 

 

Hamesha Vijayee

It is a major exercise carried out by Indian Army in the deserts of Rajasthan to evaluate the capability of the

armed forces to strike deep into enemy territory.

Mission Seven Summits

It is a unique series of mountaineering expedition launched by Indian Air Force (IAF).The mission‘s aim is to fly the tricolour and the IAF flag on the highest peaks in every continent. A team of Mountaineers recently scaled Mt Vinson in Antarctica. With this, IAF becomes the first organisation in India to achieve this unique feat.

 

  • Venezuelan has launched its own cryptocurrency, called the “Petro,” which will be backed by the country’s vast natural resource reserves. The country has also approved the creation of a Blockchain Base observatory to oversee the development and rollout of the new cryptocurrency.
  • Samsung Electronics has developed core battery technology using graphene to make lithium-ion batteries last longer and charge more quickly, a potential industry milestone if mass produced. Graphene has been touted in the global electronics industry as a “miracle material” given its strength, electrical conductivity and elasticity, and has been seen as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries since its discovery in 2004. It is a form of carbon that can be used to develop smaller, slimmer batteries but with higher capacity.
  • Trachoma

It is a chronic infective disease of the eye and a leading cause of corneal blindness in India, affecting young

children. It is caused by poor environmental and personal hygiene and inadequate access to water and sanitation. According to the National Trachoma Survey Report (2014-17), India has become free from Trachoma with an overall prevalence found to be only 0.7%, much below the criteria set by WHO.

According to WHO, active trachoma is considered eliminated if the prevalence of active infection among

children below 10 years is less than 5%.The disease is found to be affecting the population in certain pockets of north Indian states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and the Nicobar Islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Excitonium

Scientists have proved that existence of new form of matter called ―Excitonium.It is made up of particles known as ―Excitons, which are made from an escaped electron and the hole it left behind. It exhibits macroscopic quantum phenomena.

  • Womb Transplant

The first birth as a result of a womb transplant in the United States has occurred recently.A doctor in Sweden, Mats Brannstrom, is the first in the world to deliver a baby as a result of a uterus transplant.

 

  • X, a division owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet and one that deals in experimental technologies, has signed a MoU with Andhra Pradesh government to setup developmental centre in Visakhapatnam and to create a high speed internet network that doesn’t require special cabling.

About the project:

No cables will be used. Instead of cables, the X internet network will use “Free Space Optical Communications, aka FSOC, technology”. This network will power internet in 13 districts through 2 thousand FSOC links. The X centre in Visakhapatnam will be its first development centre outside the US.

What is FSOC technology?

FSFC is an optical communication technology that uses light to wirelessly transmit data to telecommunication and internet applications. The technology remained outside the commercial applications for long owing to distance, speed, and efficiency related problems.

How FSOC technology works?

FSOC links use beams of light to deliver high-speed, high-capacity connectivity over long distances, just like fiber optic cable, but without the cable. And because there’s no cable, this means there’s none of the time, cost, and hassle involved in digging trenches or stringing cable along poles. FSOC boxes can simply be placed kilometres apart on roofs or towers, with the signal beamed directly between the boxes to easily traverse common obstacles like rivers, roads and railways.

Background:

Less than 20% of people in Andhra Pradesh currently have access to broadband connectivity. The state government has committed to connecting 12 million households and thousands of government organizations and businesses by 2019 – an initiative called AP Fiber Grid.

About Google X:

Founded by Google in 2010 as Google X with an aim to work on finding solutions to the world’s large problems, this American semi-secret advanced technology lab facility became an independent Alphabet company and was renamed as X after Google was restructured into Alphabet in the year 2015. It has been working on several projects including driver-less car, product delivery through flying vehicles, Project Loon, Google glass among other technologies.

 

  • The West Bengal government is planning to introduce the blockchain technology to protect its documents from cyber attacks.

Key facts:

 The state government’s proposed Cyber Security Centre of Excellence would be entrusted to execute the new ‘blockchain’ mechanism at various departments.

 The cyber security centre will bring the best in academic, law enforcement and other sections under one roof for the best practices to counter cyber crimes.

 The centre will also conduct research and development on cyber crimes for which the state government will partner with private firms.

 

Background:

Recently, computers at some offices of the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited were crippled by ‘WannaCry’ virus, a global ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

  • Scientists have developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans. The network is called- Reservoir Computing System.

How was it created?

Researchers from University of Michigan in the US created their system using memristors, which require less space and can be integrated more easily into existing silicon-based electronics. Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data.

How it works?

 Researchers used a special memristor that memorises events only in the near history. Inspired by brains, neural networks are composed of neurons, or nodes, and synapses, the connections between nodes.

 To train a neural network for a task, a neural network takes in a large set of questions and the answers to those questions. In this process of what’s called supervised learning, the connections between nodes are weighted more heavily or lightly to minimise the amount of error in achieving the correct answer.

 Once trained, a neural network can then be tested without knowing the answer. For example, a system can process a new photo and correctly identify a human face, because it has learned the features of human faces from other photos in its training set.

 

Significance of the system:

Reservoir computing systems built with memristors can skip most of the expensive training process and still provide the network the capability to remember. This is because the most critical component of the system – the reservoir – does not require training.

When a set of data is inputted into the reservoir, the reservoir identifies important time-related features of the data, and hands it off in a simpler format to a second network. This second network then only needs training like simpler neural networks, changing weights of the features and outputs that the first network passed on until it achieves an acceptable level of error.

Applications:

The system can predict words before they are said during conversation, and help predict future outcomes based on the present.

 

  • bio-CNG

To promote the use of clean fuel, the oil ministry plans to set up bio-CNG (compressed natural gas) plants and allied infrastructure at a cost of Rs7,000 crore. The oil ministry will be working with state-run oil and gas retailers to set up the plants over the next two years. The government’s plan is to make India a gas-based economy.

What is Bio- CNG?

Bio-CNG is a purified form of biogas with over 95% pure methane gas. It is similar to natural gas in its composition (97% methane) and energy potential. While natural gas is a fossil fuel, bio-CNG is a renewable form of energy produced from agricultural and food waste. Bio-CNG is being looked at as an environment-friendly alternative to diesel.

 

  • China has constructed the country’s first solar highway, in which solar panels are placed underneath transparent concrete.

About the solar highway:

The solar highway is a 2 km (1.2 mile) stretch of road located on the Jinan City Expressway, and it’s divided into three layers. The see-through concrete shields an array of solar panels of two sizes. Beneath the solar panels is a layer that will keep them isolated from the damp ground.

The expressway can handle 10 times more pressure than the normal asphalt variety and in a year generate 1 million kWH of electricity, which will be used to power street lights and a snow-melting system on the road

 

  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

It is a viral respiratory disease of zoonotic origin caused by the SARS coronavirus.

It leads to shortness of breath and/or pneumonia.

The only symptom common to all patients appears to be a fever above 38 °C (100 °F).

There is no vaccine for SARS and no cases have been reported worldwide since 2004.

According to WHO, SARS affected regions include China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada.

Recently, Chinese virologists have found the origins of the SARS outbreak in 2003.A single population of horseshoe bats in a cave in Yunnan province in China caused the outbreak.

 

  • Flink

Functional Living Ink (Flink) is a new printing material developed by scientists from Switzerland.

Flink contains different bacteria as ink which makes it possible to print objects with biochemical properties.

  • Plants that can glow

Scientists have recently found a way to induce plants to give off dim light by embedding specialised

nanoparticles into their leaves.

Scientists embed 3 components in to a different type of nanoparticle carrier.

It includes luciferase, luciferin and co-enzyme A.

Luciferase is an enzyme. It is used by the fireflies that give their glow.

Luciferase acts on a molecule called luciferin, causing it to emit light.

Co-enzyme A molecule helps the process along by removing a reaction byproduct that can inhibit luciferase

activity.

 

  • Memristors & AI

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) are computing systems that can learn and progressively improve

performance on tasks by considering examples.

Researchers have recently developed a new type of neural network chip that can dramatically improve the

efficiency of teaching machines to think like humans.

It improves a typical neural network‘s capacity and reduces the required training time. They have been created in the past with larger optical components. Now the researchers have created their system using memristors. Memristors are a special type of resistive device that can both perform logic and store data. This contrasts with typical computer systems, where processors perform logic separate from memory modules. Hence they require less space and can be integrated more easily into silicon-based electronics.

 

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