Prepare Prelims-2017-Day-49-Science & Tech

India & Pneumonia, Diarrhoea epidemics

 World Pneumonia Day 2016 was observed on November 12. 2016 Theme: “Keep the Promise, Stop Pneumonia Now”.

Report on Pneumonia:

On this day, the Pneumonia and Diarrhoea Progress Report was published by the International Vaccine Access Center (IVAC.)

Highlights of the report:

The report puts India at the top of the list of 15 nations, as it did last year, and the years before.

The report also notes that India is among the 12 nations that have improved their Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (GAPPD) score this year.

Mystery behind Birth of Saturn’s Rings Solved:

  • The giant planets in our solar system have very diverse rings.
    ·Observations show that Saturn’s rings are made of more than 95 per cent icy particles, while the rings of Uranus and Neptune are darker and may have higher rock content.
    ·Planetary rings that surround Saturn, Neptune and Uranus were formed four billion years ago when large objects passed very close to planets and got destroyed.
  • It is thought that thousands of Pluto-sized objects from the Kuiper belt existed beyond Neptune.
    ·According to researchers these large objects passed close to the giant planets and were destroyed by their tidal force during the Late Heavy Bombardment.

What is Kuiper Belt:

  • It is a disc-shaped region beyond Neptune that extends from about 30 to 55 AU (astronomical units).
    ·The region is probably populated with hundreds of thousands of icy bodies larger than 100 km (62 miles) across and an estimated trillion or more comets.
    ·Dwarf planet Pluto may be the best known of the larger objects in the Kuiper Belt. Comets from the Kuiper Belt take less than 200 years to orbit the sun.
    ·Objects in the Kuiper Belt are presumed to be remnants from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.

Russia invites India to join fast reactor research project

Russia has invited India to join in developing nuclear reactors and participate in its fast reactor research project.

About the project:

The multipurpose fast research reactor project, also known as MBIR, is coming up at the International Research Center in Dimitrovgrad, located in the Ulyanovsk region. The purpose of the programme is the creation of a new technological platform for nuclear energy, which will be based on the closed fuel cycle with fast neutron reactors.

  • The closed fuel cycle, which involves recycling the nuclear waste as new fuel, in the case of the MBIR project, essentially signifies research on a sodium-cooled Generation 4 fast reactor to design an advanced fast neutron reactor for use in nuclear power plants.
  • “MBIR’s design includes three independent loops that can be used to test different coolants like gas, lead, molten salt, among others, and therefore it will be possible to conduct material testing research in those different environments.”

What is a fast neutron reactor?

  • A fast neutron reactor, also known simply as a fast reactor, is a type in which nuclear fission chain reaction is sustained by fast neutrons. Such a reactor needs no neutron moderator.

Significance of fast neutron reactors:

  • With fast-neutron reactors, it is possible to solve the major ecological problem of reprocessing and deactivation of the accumulated radioactive waste, at the same time providing society much needed energy.
  • Also, transition to the closed fuel cycle, which is based on the fast neutron reactors, will lead to the solution of the five key problems — safety, competitiveness, shortage of fuel, reprocessing and refabricating the used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste — as well as in enforcing non-proliferation of fission materials and weapons technologies.

James webb space telescope:

  • The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is the largest space telescope ever built.
  • It is an international collaboration between of about 17 countries including NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
  • When it is launched into space it will be able to peer back in time 3.5 billion years, teaching us more than ever before about the start of the universe.
  • The telescope is 100 times more potent than its predecessor, Hubble, and three times larger.
  • The telescope is set to go through a series of tests to make sure it can stand up to the conditions during lift off and the frigid conditions of space, ahead of its launch in 2018.
  • The main component of the telescope is the primary mirror, which consists of 18 hexagonal mirrors and looks like a giant puzzle piece.
  • The telescope will be used to look back to the first galaxies born in the early universe more than 13.5 billion years ago, and observe the sources of stars, exoplanets, and even the moons and planets of our solar system.

New ‘super battery’ made from junkyard metal

Researchers have developed a new high-performance, grid-scale battery made from metal scrap and common household chemicals.

  • The battery, which is no bigger than a pill bottle, could withstand the equivalent of 13 years of daily charging and discharging while retaining 90% of its capacity.

How was it developed?

  1. Researchers soaked metal pieces in a jar with a solution of water and salt or a solution of water and antifreeze.
  2. They then applied a voltage to induce a known process called anodisation, which restructures the nanoscopic composition of a metal.
  3. That exposes the metal’s interior surface and makes it more receptive to storing and releasing energy.
  4. Researchers placed a physical barrier between the two pieces of metal and submerged it in an electrolyte solution made from water and potassium hydroxide.
  5. When connected by wires to a device that generated a current, such as a solar panel, their contraption worked just like a car battery.


For this experiment, scientists drew inspiration from an ancient technology called the ‘Baghdad battery’, which dates to the first century BC. It consisted of a terracotta pot, a copper sheet and an iron rod along with some trace chemicals that could possibly have been electrolytes.


Helicobacter Pullorum:

  • Researchers in Hyderabad have isolated this bacterium in chicken that may well be the source of transmission of the drug-resistant pathogen to humans.
    ·This pathogen was found in broiler and free-range chickens from markets in the city,
  • It is untreatable and could also be cancer-causing.
    ·H. pullorum is commonly found in the liver and gut of poultry birds and is believed to co-evolve with its natural host.
  • Infected chicken, when consumed, are known to cause gastrointestinal infections in humans.
  • H. pullorum is known to produce a cancer-causing agent called cytolethal distending toxin. This toxin damages the DNA and interferes with the cell cycle. Since this bacterium also infects the liver, it increases the risk of cancer in the organ.
  • H. pullorum is also resistant to antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins, sulfonamides and macrolides.

Mycobacterium Abscessus:

  • It is a species of multidrug-resistant mycobacteria which has recently emerged as a significant global threat to individuals with cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases.
  • It can cause a severe pneumonia leading to accelerated inflammatory damage to the lungs, and may prevent safe lung transplantation.
    ·It is also extremely difficult to treat — fewer than one in three cases is treated successfully.


Water detected on metallic asteroid Psyche

 Scientists have detected the presence of water on Psyche, the largest metallic asteroid in our solar system and the target of a proposed NASA mission.

Key facts:

  • New observations from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii show evidence of water or hydroxyl on its surface.
  • While the source of these molecules on Psyche remains a mystery, scientists propose a few possible mechanisms for its formation.
  • Scientists say, water-rich minerals detected on Psyche may have been delivered by carbonaceous asteroids that impacted Psyche in the distant past.

About Psyche:

Psyche is about 300 kilometre across and is made of almost pure nickel-iron metal. Located in the asteroid belt, it is thought to be the remnant core of a budding planet that was mostly destroyed by impacts billions of years ago.

Smart India Hackathon 2017

Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar recently inaugurated the world’s largest digital national building initiative “Smart India Hackathon 2017”.

 Key facts:

  • Through Smart India Hackathon 2017, HRD ministry is keen on reaching out to all technology institutions in India and challenge students to offer innovative solutions to some of the daunting problems faced by our nation.

The Hackathon will have nearly 500 problem statements in all which will be published on

The ‘Smart India Hackathon 2017’ is a pan-India 36-hour nonstop digital programming competition which will take place in more than 20 centres simultaneously.

The Smart India Hackathon 2017 will aim to find digital solutions to problems in the areas of power, education, health, water, finance, agriculture, energy, urban & rural development, aviation & shipping, transport, sanitation, sports, law & justice, skill development & entrepreneurship, defence, textiles, tourism, etc.

The initiative will help institutionalize a model for harnessing the creativity and skills of youth for nation-building.

Combating Chromium:

  • Chromium is commonly found in two forms: Trivalent chromium (chromium III) and Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI).
    ·Chromium III is the most stable form of the element, and occurs naturally in animals, plants, rocks, and soils. Chromium VI rarely occurs in nature, and is usually the product of anthropogenic activities.
    ·Chromium III is considered to be less dangerous than chromium VI
    ·Sources of pollution: Chromium is released to air primarily by combustion
    processes and metal industries.

Effect on Human health:

oThey are reported to have toxic, genotoxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic
effect on human health.

oCr(VI) has been associated with respiratory effects and leading to lung, nasal and sinus cancers.

·Effect On Plants: It can result in severe phytotoxicity that may result in reduction of seed germination, pigmentation, nutrient imbalance and decrease in antioxidant and enzyme concentration. Bioremediation of chromium may be the best suited technology to clean up chromium
containerized sites.

China launches pulsar test satellite

China has launched a satellite into space to detect signs of pulsars, which are very high density stars formed by neutrons.

Key facts:

The X-ray pulsar navigation satellite, weighing more than 200 kilogrammes, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country’s northwest.

  • It was carried by a Long March-11 rocket, the 239th flight mission by a Long March carrier rocket series.
  • The satellite operates in a Sun-synchronous orbit and will conduct in-orbit experiments using pulsar detectors to demonstrate new technologies.

While in orbit, the satellite will undergo tests on its detector functions and space environment adaptability.

Significance of this launch:

The X-ray pulsar navigation will help reduce the spacecraft’s reliance on ground-based navigation methods and is expected to lead to autonomous spacecraft navigation in the future.

International Conference on Brucellosis 2016

International Research Conference on Brucellosis was recently inaugurated in New Delhi.

On the sidelines, the centre also launched programme of “Brucella Free Villages” for implementation on pilot scale in 50 villages covering 10 states.

About Brucellosis:

Brucellosis is a dreadful disease caused by the genus of the bacteria known as Brucella infecting various species of Brucella cows, buffalos, sheep, goats, deer, pigs, dogs and other animals as well as humans. The disease causes economic losses of about Rs. 28000.00 Crores. Brucellosis is endemic in India.

Spread of the disease:

  • Human become infected by coming in contact with animals or animal product like meat and milk contaminated with these bacteria.
  • Dairy man, veterinarians, butchers and other animal handlers are exposed to high risk of brucellosis infection.


  • In humans brucellosis can cause range of symptoms that are similar to the flu and may include fever, sweats, headache, back pain and physical weakness.
  • Severe infections of the central nervous system or lining of the heart may also occur.


Quite often brucellosis is diagnosed after ruling out all other fevers such as those caused by malaria, typhoid, dengue etc. Therefore, the disease is under reported and many medical professionals are not even aware of the problem.

Fastest supercomputer:

  • For the eighth consecutive year, China has retained the top spot in the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers for its ‘Sunway TaihuLight’ which can perform 93 million billion calculations per second.
  • This was announced in the latest edition of the semiannual Top 500 list of supercomputers released recently.
  • TaihuLight, the massive supercomputer, built entirely using processors designed and made in China has been crowned as the world’s fastest.

TaihuLight made its appearance in June, replacing the former champion, Tianhe-2, also a Chinese system but built based on Intel chips.

Pluto’s Frozen Surface May Conceal A Liquid Ocean:

According to a new research, Pluto’s frozen surface may conceal a liquid ocean lying deep beneath. The researchers suspect that the ocean is mostly water with some kind of antifreeze in it, probably ammonia.

The new research could explain why Sputnik Planitia — which forms one side of the famous heart-shaped feature seen in the first New Horizons images — is positioned directly opposite the side facing Pluto’s largest moon

Sputnik Planitia:

  • It is a high-albedo ice-covered basin on Pluto, about 1,050 by 800 km (650 by 500 mi) in size.

·The slow refreezing of the ocean would put stress on the icy shell, causing fractures consistent with features seen in the New Horizons image.

NASA Weather Satellite Promises ‘Huge Leap’ in Forecasts

NASA has successfully launched for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the first in a series of highly advanced geostationary weather satellites. The satellite is known as Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R).

Key facts:

  • After it reaches its final designated orbit in the next two weeks, GOES-R will be renamed GOES-16.
  • The new satellite will become operational within a year, after undergoing a checkout and validation of its six new instruments, including the first operational lightning mapper in geostationary orbit.

GOES-R will strengthen NOAA’s ability to issue life-saving forecasts and warnings and is aimed at make the United States an even stronger, more resilient weather-ready nation.

Beyond weather forecasting, GOES-R also will be part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System, an international satellite-based search and rescue network operated by NOAA. The satellite is carrying a special transponder that can detect distress signals from emergency beacons.


Recently, Two Prithvi-II missiles were successfully test-fired from the launch complex-III of the Integrated Test Range near Balasore in Odisha.

·It is a short-range surface-to-surface missile.
·It was Inducted into India’s armed forces in 2003.
·Prithvi II is the first missile to be developed by DRDO under India’s prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program).
·The twin-engine Prithvi-II has the ability to dodge enemy missiles.
·This missile is capable of reaching targets 350 km away, can carry a 500 kg nuclear warhead.
·Prithvi-II has been designed to operate with both liquid and solid fuels and is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells:

  • Researchers for the first time have discovered hematopoietic stem cells
    in Drosophila (fruit flies). Till date there has been no evidence of hematopoietic stem cells in fruit flies and only the progenitor cells, which are precursors to differentiated cells, were found in these flies.
    ·Hematopoietic stem cells are the stem cells that give rise to all the other blood cells.

What are stem cell
ØStem cells are mother cells that have the potential to become any

type of cell in the body.
ØStem cells have the ability to selfrenew or multiply while maintaining the potential to develop into other types of cells.
ØStem cells can become cells of the blood, heart, bones, skin, muscles,
brain etc.


Using this scientist created a novel material that can be pre-programmed with biological, chemical or optical functions, such as mechanical components that change colour with strain, deliver drugs or respond to light.

·A protein that gives silk its durability.
·It is an insoluble protein
·It has a remarkable ability to protect other materials while being fully biocompatible and biodegradable.

China launches world’s longest quantum communication line

China has launched a 712-km quantum communication line, stated to be the world’s longest secure telecommunications network, which boasts of ultra-high security making it impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them.

Significance of quantum communications:

Quantum communication lines boasts ultra-high security. It is impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them.


  • Quantum communication boasts ultra-high security as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated.
  • It is hence impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.

Quantum communications technology is nearly impossible to hack because any interference to transmission of information destroys it.

Conversion of Sea Water into Potable Water

Desalination of seawater is possible by using Thermal Desalination Technology and/or Membrane Technology like Reverse Osmosis (RO). Thermal and/or Electrical energy from Atomic Power Station or Nuclear Research Reactor/s can be used for this purpose.

A total of 63 lakh litres per day capacity seawater desalination plant has been setup as Nuclear Desalination Demonstration Project (NDDP) at Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu and is under regular operation producing 45 lakh litres of water per day by Thermal Desalination process, drawing nuclear low pressure steam from the existing and operating Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS). Also, 18 lakh litres of water per day is being produced using membrane based technology using grid electrical energy of MAPS. The plant is the largest operating hybrid nuclear desalination plant in the world. The plant produces dual quality of water – water for high-end industrial applications of quality less than 10 mg per litre of TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) and potable water of less than 500 mg per litre of TDS for drinking and other applications.

Surya Jyoti – Photo-Voltaic (PV) Integrated Micro Solar Dome (MSD)

In order to capture day light and concentrate the same inside a dark room, particularly in urban slum or rural areas which lack electricity supply, a low cost and energy efficient Micro Solar Dome has been tested and developed.

More Details:

  • The Micro Solar Dome (MSD) is a clear and green energy initiative of the Department of   Science and Technology.
  • This project will also supplement the Green Energy initiatives.
  • The Micro Solar Dome (MSD) is a day and night lighting single device unique in its features, that has a transparent semi-spherical upper dome made of acrylic material which captures the sunlight and the light passes through a sun-tube having a thin layer of highly reflective coating on the inner wall of the passage.
  • It also contains a lower dome made of acrylic. There is a shutter in the bottom of the lower dome which can be closed, if light is not required in the daytime.  It is leak proof and works throughout the day and 4 hours continuously after sunset. The entire development activities were taken up by an R&D Organisation under the aegis of the Department of Science & Technology.
  • The potential users of this device are the 10 million off-grid households in urban and rural spaces and several folds more that do not have reliable access to electricity. When these Surya Jyoti lamps, giving an illumination equivalent of a 60W incandescent lamp, are installed in 10 million households it would lead to a saving of 1750 million units of energy.

It would also lead to an Emission Reduction of about 12.5 million ton of CO2.

What is 47 Tucanae?

  • 47 Tucanae — also known as 47 Tuc — is the second brightest globular cluster in the night sky famous for spectacular sights in the constellation Tucana.

The constellation is home to a cosmic beauty called NGC 299, an open star cluster located within the Small Magellanic Cloud just under 200,000 light years away.

NASA’s MMS mission sets new Guinness World Record

  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) has broken the Guinness World record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal.
  • The four MMS flights used the GPS navigation at an altitude of 70,000 km above Earth’s surface, to stay in a tight flying formation while they surveyed the Earth’s magnetic field.

Here’s all you should know about MMS:

  • The mission investigates how the Sun and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect while transferring energy from one to another in a process known as magnetic reconnection
  • Four similar instrumented space craft measure plasmas, fields and particles in areas that face frequent reconnection
  • The mission will also help establish knowledge, methods and technologies applicable to future space weather missions and the future growth and development of space weather forecasting
  • The adjustable pyramid-like formation of the four space craft helps them to observe the three dimensional structure of magnetic reconstruction
  • It helps them to determine if the reconnection occurs in an isolated locale, everywhere within a larger region at once, or traveling across space
  • Earlier, the mission had held a separate record for being the closest flying spacecraft in a formation, with a distance of only 7 kms between two satellites

What is magnetic reconnection?

Magnetic reconnection is a process that occurs as the Sun and the Earth’s magnetic field’s interact.

Studying magnetic connections enables scientists to understand various phenomenon ranging from flares on the Sun’s surface to aurora’s in Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellites are scheduled to go higher orbit to take a look at a different area of the magnetosphere in Spring, which will commence the second phase of the mission. During the stage the satellites are expected to double their current record.

‘Andhra Pradesh tops in energy efficiency’

  • The World Bank has ranked Andhra Pradesh as number one in ‘Energy Efficiency Implementation Readiness’ with an overall score of 42.01 followed by Rajasthan (41.89), Karnataka (39.34) and Maharashtra (39.29).

The ranking figures in a study report of the World Bank titled: ‘India’s State Level Energy Efficiency Implementation Readiness’


  • ICAR-IARI, New Delhi has developed extra early maturing (120 days), semi-dwarf (95 cm to 120 cm tall), determinate, high yielding new plant type genetic material viz., Pusa Arhar 16 which is semi-erect compact plant type.
  • This plant type allows dense plant population of 3,30,000 plants/ha when planted with Row X Row spacing of 30 cm and Plant X Plant spacing of 10 cm.
  • High density planting is important to realize higher yield and mechanization.
  • Traditional varieties do not allow high density planting as their plant type is indeterminate and spreading type. Thus, suitability to high population density of this line allows uniform plant density and ultimately uniform plant stand and thereby reduces losses in yield due to seedling mortality.
  • In the form of Pusa Arhar 16 ICAR-IARI has tailored a new plant type arhar in line with semi-dwarf rice and wheat.
  • The NPT arhar requires a modified agronomy for maximizing the productivity with reduced cost of cultivation, which has been developed. All items of farm machinery used for wheat from sowing to harvesting are fully utilizable for cultivation of NPT Arhar.

Pusa Arhar 16 allows effective spraying of insecticide even with Knapsack sprayer for effective control of insects due to compactness and dwarfness. This new plant type, with synchronous maturity, is also suitable for combine harvesting and thus does not require manual laborers for harvesting and threshing.

Maharashtra becomes first state to adopt Fly Ash Utilization Policy

Maharashtra became the first state in the country to adopt the Fly Ash Utilization Policy.

The policy paves way for prosperity by generating wealth from waste and environment protection.

What is fly ash?

  • Fly ash is a fine, glass powder by-product recovered from gases of burning coal in thermal power plants during production of electricity.

They are micron sized earth elements primarily consisting silica, alumina and iron.

Scientists develop Zika replicon system to develop vaccines

  • Scientists have developed Zika replicon system, a novel tool to replicate the Zika virus by stripping it of the genes that make the virus infectious.
  • The Zika replicon system is considered as an advance novel tool that may pave the way for development vaccine to fight Zika virus.

How it works?

  • The Zika replicon system deleted some of the genes that give the Zika virus its structure.
  • The system was engineered by attaching genes that allow researchers to tag certain parts of the Zika virus for making it a powerful tool for vaccine development.
  • The system has made Zika virus no longer
    infectious and also lowered the safety risk involved in working with it.

What are Replicons?

  • Replicons are basically segments of viral genome that can replicate on their own, independent of the cellular chromosome.
  • They can be used to locate portions of the viral molecule that block or halt
    viral replication. They can also study potential antiviral agents by differentiating between when the virus is making copies of itself and when it’s altering its structure.

Thus, they can be used for making a powerful tool for vaccine development.

China Clones World’s first Goat with superfine wool

  • The world’s first cloned goat with superfine Cashmere wool was born in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
  • The goat will be raised in a center for animal husbandry research conducted by experts from agricultural universities and academies in southwest China’s Yunnan
  • Province and Inner Mongolia. Cashmere wool is obtained from Cashmere goats and few other types of goat.
  • The wool fibre is less than 13.8 micrometres thick and is finer and softer than sheep’s wool.
  • It is much finer than the average of 15.8 micrometres of the famous Erlang Mountain goats in Inner Mongolia.

Cloning is a scientific process of creating genetically identical copies of genes, cells, tissues or entire organisms.


Delhi HC quashes government ban on fixed dose combination drugs

  • Delhi high court has quashed the ban on Fixed dose combination (FDCs).  
  • The ban was imposed based on the recommendations of Kokate committee.
  • It was imposed over fears that these drugs cause anti-microbial resistance and might even cause organ-failure because of high toxicity.
  • It also aimed at curbing the misuse of medicines.
  • However, the pharmaceutical companies contend that no prior enquiry was made from them or show cause notice issued prior to ban notification by the Central Government.
  • They also held that these drugs in the same combination are being marketed in other countries. 
  • With this, the banned drugs – including D’Cold, Benadryl and Phensedyl that are widely used to treat headaches and colds – will continue be available freely in the market. 
  • The court observed that the decision was taken by the Centre without following procedure prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.
  • It noted that the government had not consulted the Drugs Technical Advisory Board or the Drugs Consultative Committee but had acted on the advice of a ‘technical committee’, which, they said, violated the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.

Combination medicines (or fixed-dose combination [FDC] medicines) are:

  • medicines containing two or more active components in fixed proportions in a single dosage form 

Several medications in fixed combination to be taken together, presented in composite packaging (co-pack).

What is interglaciation?

  • Interglaciation is the term used by geologists to refer to the alternating periods of warming and cooling in the earth’s past.
  • The cooler times are called the “glacial period” during which ice shelves from the Arctic slowly creep southward and spread across the earth.
  • Times when the earth is covered in these large ice sheets are known as glacial periods (or ice ages).
  • When the ice sheets are not spread, it is called an interglacial period.
  • The most recent glacial period occurred between about 120,000 and 11,500 years ago.
  • Since then, the earth has been in an interglacial period called the Holocene.

What is a Megamaser?

  • At core, they are cousins of lasers. Just as lasers are devices used to emit a beam of light by controlling the emission of photons from excited atoms, masers — a play on the word ‘laser’ — do the same in the microwave region.
  • They can be made in labs or can also be found naturally in galaxies such as the Milky Way.
  • Earlier this week, the Hubble telescope found a ‘Megamaser’ that was around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way.
  • This megamaser galaxy, called IRAS 16399-0937, is located over 370 million light years from Earth.
  • It hosts a double nucleus, formed of two separate cores in the process of merging.
  • The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11,000 light years apart.
  • However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure.

What is the Gibraltar Arc?

  • The Gibraltar Arc is a geological region, considered one of the most narrowest landforms on Earth.
  • A team of Andalusian scientists, led by the University of Granada (UGR), has been able to reconstruct for the first time what the Gibraltar Arc was like 9 million years ago.
  • The researchers have been able to prove that, since then, large blocks of land, with sizes about 300 kilometres long and 150 kilometres wide, have rotated clockwise (in the case of the Baetic System mountain range) and counter-clockwise (in the case of the Rif mountain range, in the north of Morocco).
  • The said movements have completely reshaped the Gibraltar Arc, since they have been carried out at a very high speed: 6° per million years (in total, 53° for the block of the Western Baetic System), and are compatible with both the opening of the Strait of Gibraltar about 5 million years ago as with the current movements measured with GPS.
  • Their research culminates with a reconstruction of the Gibraltar Arc 9 million years ago — at a key moment in the tectonic history of the collision between Africa and Iberia, shortly before the closure of the connection between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and when the Gibraltar Arc was situated more to the East than at present.

TIFR discovery challenges theory of superconductivity

  • Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai, have made a landmark discovery that challenges the conventional understanding of superconductivity.

About the discovery:

  • Researchers have discovered bismuth semi-metalin bulk form becoming a superconductor when the temperature is lowered to 530 microKelvin (about -273 degree C), which is three orders of magnitude higher than the theoretical prediction.
  • The Bardeen-Cooper-Schrieffer (BCS) theory[which explains superconductivity in most low Tc superconductors] cannot explain the superconductivity seen in bismuth.

Significance of the discovery:

  • The discovery demands a new theory and a new mechanism to understand superconductivity in bismuth. This discovery provides an alternative path for discovering new superconducting materials which are very different from the conventional superconductors.

What are superconductors?

  • Superconductors are materials that conduct electricity with no resistance whatsoever.
  • To become superconductors, the element should have mobile electrons, and these electrons should come together to form pairs, known as Cooper pairs.

About Bismuth:

  • Bismuthis a chemical element with the symbol Bi and the atomic number 83.
  • Unlike other elements in the periodic table, bismuth has unusual phenomenon — while metallic superconductors have one mobile electron per atom, bismuth has only one mobile electron per 100,000 atoms.
  • Also, bismuth’s electronic energy (Fermi energy) is comparable to the lattice (phonon) energy.

What is BCS theory?

  • The theory describes superconductivityas a microscopic effect caused by a condensation of Cooper pairs into a boson-like state.
  • The theory is also used in nuclear physics to describe the pairing interaction between nucleons in an atomic nucleus.
  • It was proposed by Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer in 1957; they received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this theory in 1972.
  • Superconductors abruptly lose all resistance to the flow of an electric current when they are cooled to temperatures near absolute zero.
  • Cooper had discovered that electrons in a superconductor are grouped in pairs, now called Cooper pairs, and that the motions of all of the Cooper pairs within a single superconductor are correlated; they constitute a system that functions as a single entity.
  • Application of an electrical voltage to the superconductor causes all Cooper pairs to move, constituting a current. When the voltage is removed, current continues to flow indefinitely because the pairs encounter no opposition. For the current to stop, all of the Cooper pairs would have to be halted at the same time, a very unlikely occurrence. As a superconductor is warmed, its Cooper pairs separate into individual electrons, and the material becomes normal, or nonsuperconducting.

Many other aspects of the behaviour of superconductors are explained by the BCS theory. The theory supplies a means by which the energy required to separate the Cooper pairs into their individual electrons can be measured experimentally. The BCS theory also explains the isotope effect, in which the temperature at which superconductivity appears is reduced if heavier atoms of the elements making up the material are introduced.

PSLV-C36 Successfully Launches RESOURCESAT-2A Remote Sensing Satellite

In its thirty eighth flight (PSLV-C36), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has successfully launched the 1,235 kg RESOURCESAT-2A Satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.


RESOURCESAT-2A is a Remote Sensing satellite intended for resource monitoring. It is a follow on mission to RESOURCESAT-1 and RESOURCESAT-2, launched in 2003 and 2011 respectively.

  • RESOURCESAT-2A is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by RESOURCESAT-1 and RESOURCESAT-2.
  • RESOURCESAT-2A carries three payloads which are similar to those of RESOURCESAT-1 and RESOURCESAT-2. They are a high resolution Linear Imaging Self Scanner (LISS-4) camera, medium resolution LISS-3 camera, and a coarse resolution Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS) camera.
  • RESOURCESAT-2A carries two Solid State Recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bits each to store the images taken by its cameras which can be read out later to ground stations.  

 The data sent by RESOURCESAT-2A will be useful for agricultural applications like crop area and crop production estimation, drought monitoring, soil mapping, cropping system analysis and farm advisories generation.

Japan Launches Magnetic Tether To Clean Up Space Junk

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched a spacecraft from the Tanegashima Space Center that carried a magnetic tether designed to move vast amounts of space junk from the Earth’s orbit.

  • The automated cargo ship – called Stork or Kounotori in Japanese – which is carrying the junk collector is bound for the International Space Station and blasted off from Tanegashima Space Center in the North Pacific.
  • The tether, made of aluminium strands and steel wire, is designed to slow the debris, pulling it out of orbit.
  • The innovative device was made with the help of a fishing net company.
  • Researchers say the lubricated, electro-dynamic tether will generate enough energy to change an object’s orbit, pushing it towards the atmosphere where it will burn up.
  • The experiment is part of an international initiative designed to make space safer for astronauts by getting rid of space junk.


China launches satellite to monitor global carbon emissions

China has launched a global carbon dioxide monitoring satellite to understand climate change.

More Details:

  • The 620-kg satellite TanSat was put into orbit by Long March-2D rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert.
  • Besides TanSat, the rocket also carried a high-resolution micro-nano satellite and two spectrum micro-nano satellites for agricultural and forestry monitoring.
  • The satellite was sent into a sun synchronous orbit about 700 kms above the earth and will monitor the concentration, distribution and flow of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
  • The satellite will help understanding climate change and provide China’s policy makers with independent data.
  • On a three-year mission, TanSat will thoroughly examine global carbon dioxide levels every 16 days, accurate to at least 4 ppm (parts per million).
  • The new satellite will enable China to obtain emissions data first-hand and share it with researchers worldwide.
  • The satellite can trace the sources of greenhouse gases and help evaluate whether countries are fulfilling their commitments.

TanSat means a louder voice for China on climate change, carbon reduction and in negotiations with a bigger say on carbon trading.


First 2G (Second Generation) Ethanol Bio-refinery in India to be set up at Bathinda (Punjab)

  • The government is planning to set up the country’s first Second Generation (2G) Ethanol Bio-refinery at village Tarkhanwala, Bathinda (Punjab), with an approximate investment of Rs 600 crores. 
  • Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), a Central Government Public Sector Undertaking, is setting up the project.


The Government of India is encouraging production of Second Generation (2G) Ethanol from agricultural residues to provide additional sources of remuneration to farmers, address the growing environmental concerns and support the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) programme for achieving 10% Ethanol Blending in Petrol.

About 2G ethanol:

Second generation (2G) ethanol draws on previously unused (ligno-) cellulosic plant parts, such as straw or corn cobs. First generation biofuels are made from the sugars and vegetable oils found in arable crops, which can be easily extracted using conventional technology.

Agni 5, India’s Longest Range Nuclear Capable Missile 

  • Agni-5, India’s longest range nuclear capable missile, was recently successfully test fired from the Kalam Island off Odisha coast by the Defence Research and Development Organisation or DRDO.
  • The intercontinental surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile, the latest in India’s “Agni” family of medium to intercontinental range missiles, has been through four trials now.
  • The Agni 5 missile, with new technology for navigation and guidance, gives India the strategic depth it needs to contain its enemies, say scientists. After a few more trials, it will soon join India’s military arsenal.
  • This was the first test of the Agni-5 missile after India became a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a 35-nation group to check the spread of unmanned delivery systems for nuclear weapons.

Key facts:

  • Agni-5 has a range of over 5,000 km and can carry about a 1,000-kg warhead. It can target almost all of Asia including Pakistan and China and Europe.
  • The solid propellant driven missile will be tested from a canister which gives it all-weather and any terrain mobile launch capability.
  • The 17-metre long Agni-5 Missile weighs about 50 tonnes and is a very agile and modern weapon system.
  • The surface-to-surface missile is a fire-and-forget system that cannot be easily detected as it follows a ballistic trajectory.
  • India describes the Agni – 5 missile system as a ‘weapon of peace’.

The first missile of the series, Agni-I was developed under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and tested in 1989.

World’s most heat resistant material found

Scientists have identified materials that can withstand temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius, an advance that may pave the way for improved heat resistant shielding for the faster-than-ever hypersonic space vehicles.

Key facts:

  • Researchers from Imperial College London in the UK discovered that the melting point of hafnium carbide is the highest ever recorded for a material.
  • Tantalum carbide (TaC) and hafnium carbide (HfC) are refractory ceramics, meaning they are extraordinarily resistant to heat.

Their ability to withstand extremely harsh environments means that refractory ceramics could be used in thermal protection systems on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.

First functional biological pacemaker developed

  • Scientists have developed the first functional pacemaker cells from human pluripotent stem cells which can regulate heart beats with electrical impulses, paving the way for an alternate, biological pacemaker therapy.

 How they were developed?

Pluripotent stem cells have the potential to differentiate into more than 200 different cell types that make up every tissue and organ in the body. These cells were coaxed in 21 days to develop into pacemaker cells by the researchers.


Sinoatrial node pacemaker cells are the heart’s primary pacemaker, controlling the heartbeat throughout life. Defects in the pacemaker can lead to heart rhythm disorders that are commonly treated by implantation of electronic pacemaker devices. 

Significance of these findings:

  • Biological pacemakers represent a promising alternative to electronic pacemakers, overcoming such drawbacks as a lack of hormonal responsiveness and the inability to adapt to changes in heart size in pediatric patients.

Learning how to generate pacemaker cells could also help in understanding disorders in pacemaker cells, and provide a cell source for developing a biological pacemaker.

Insertion of LEAP SECOND in the Indian Standard Time

This year will have an extra leap second added to the end of it, making it slightly longer than 2015.

Why is it added?

  • The Earth’s rotation around its own axis is not regular, as sometimes it speeds up and sometimes it slows down, due to various factors including the moon’s gravitational Earth-braking forces that often results in ocean tides. As a result, Astronomical Time (UT1) gradually falls out of synch with Atomic time (UTC), and as and when the difference between UTC and UT1 approaches 0.9 seconds, a “Leap Second” is added to UTC through Atomic clocks worldwide.
  • Leap seconds are needed to prevent civil time drifting away from Earth time. Although the drift is small — taking around a thousand years to accumulate a one-hour difference — if not corrected, it would eventually result in clocks showing midday before sunrise. Therefore, a “Leap Second” is added every now and then to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to synchronize clocks worldwide with the Earth’s ever slowing rotation.

Key facts:

  • Since 1972, 36 “Leap Seconds” have been added at intervals varying from six months to seven years. 37th “Leap Second”will be added to UTC at the midnight of December 31, 2016 in the countries within this time zone. However, countries in other time zones will have “Leap Second” inserted according to their longitude.
  • As the “Leap Second” is added simultaneously all over the world at UTC 23:59:59 on December 31, 2016, implying that in India the “Leap Second” will be inserted at IST 05:29:59 on January 1, 2017 (IST being five hours and thirty minutes ahead of UTC).
  • The “Leap Second” adjustment is not so relevant for normal everyday life; however this shift is critical for applications requiring of time accuracies in the nanosecond e.g. astronomy, satellite navigation, communication networks etc.

Nirbhay missile fails again, for the third time

  • The flight-test of Nirbhay, India’s subsonic cruise missile, from the Integrated Test Range, Balasore in Odisha, on Wednesday, was “an utter failure”, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said.
  • The missile veered off dangerously from its flight path leading to its destruction. This is the third failure out of the four Nirbhay missions so far.

About Nirbhay:

  • A long range, subsonic cruise missile designed and developed in India by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. 
  • Nirbhay is an all-weather, low-cost, long-range cruise missile capable of carrying conventional and nuclear war heads.
  • The missile has a range of more than 1000 km, weighs about 1500 kg and has a length of 6 metres. 
  • The missile is powered by a solid rocket booster for take off which is developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL).
  • Upon reaching the required velocity and height, Turbofan engine in the missile takes over for further propulsion.
  • The missile is guided by a highly advanced inertial navigation system indigenously developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI) and a radio altimeter for the height determination.
  • Nirbhay is able to pick out a target and attack it among multiple targets.
  • The missile has a loitering capability, i.e., it can go round a target and perform several manoeuvres and then re-engage it.
  • With two side wings, the missile is capable of flying at different altitudes ranging from 500 m to 4 km above the ground and can also fly at low altitudes (like low tree level) to avoid detection by enemy radar.
  • It is capable of delivering 24 different types of warheads depending on mission requirements and uses an inertial navigation system for guidance.

The missile supplements Brahmos by delivering warheads farther than the 290 km range of Brahmos.

Huge dead zone discovered in Bay of Bengal

The Bay of Bengal hosts a ‘dead zone’ of an estimated 60,000 square kilometres – an area that contains little or no oxygen and supports microbial processes that remove vast amounts of nitrogen from the ocean, scientists including those from India have found.

  • Dead zones are well known off the western coasts of North and South America, off the coast of Namibia and off the west coast of India in the Arabian Sea. Dead Zone is an area in water body that contains little or no oxygen (or they are hypoxic) in bottom and near-bottom water.

Study decodes how diamonds form

  • Scientists claimed to have figured out how the world’s biggest and most-valuable diamonds are formed
  • large gem-quality diamonds, like the world-famous Cullinan or Lesotho Promise, may be born in metallic liquid deep inside the Earth’s mantle

Study on Formation:

  • The research team, led by Evan Smith of the Gemological Institute of America, reached the conclusion after examining so-called “offcuts” of massive diamonds, which are the pieces left over after the gem’s facets are cut for maximum sparkle.
  • They found tiny metallic grains trapped inside in more than 30 exceptionally large stones, which are made up of a mixture of metallic iron and nickel, along with carbon, sulphur, methane, and hydrogen.
  • These inclusions led the researchers to conclude that these diamonds formed, like all diamonds, in the Earth’s mantle, but they did so under conditions in which they were saturated by liquid metal.

Most diamonds formed at depths of 150 to 200 km under the continents and shoot to the surface in volcanic eruptions. Pure carbon crystallised in this mix of molten metallic liquid in Earth’s deep mantle to form diamonds.

‘Nanoceramic’ material for safer, cheaper nuclear reactors

  • Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have created a nanoceramic material, which may be used in next-generation nuclear reactors that will operate at higher temperatures and radiation fields, producing energy more efficiently and economically.
  • Tougher under radiation
  • The material can not only withstand the harsh effects of radiation, but also becomes tougher under radiation, researchers said.
  • Traditionally, water has been used as the primary coolant in reactors, absorbing the heat released from fission reactions.
  • Though water poses fewer risks of corrosion damage to materials, there are also limits to the temperatures up to which water-cooled reactors can operate — and in advanced reactors, increasing their temperature is the best way to increase energy production.

New coolants, such as liquid metals like sodium and lead, are effective at much higher temperatures, but also are much more corrosive to the materials from which a nuclear reactor is made. “There is a preferred use of metallic materials for structural components, but many of these materials cannot withstand high-temperature corrosion in advanced reactors.

National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke

  • While health is a State subject, Government of India is implementing a comprehensive National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS).
  • The objectives of NPCDCS, being implemented under National Health Mission (NHM) for interventions up to the district level includes awareness generation for Cancer prevention, screening, early detection and referral to an appropriate level institution for treatment.  The focus of the programme is on breast, cervical and oral cancer.
  • Operational guidelines have been released for prevention, control and screening of Diabetes, Hypertension and common Cancer (Cervix, Breast and Oral) to the States for implementation.

The screening includes screening for risk factors of these diseases. Such screening will also generate awareness on risk factors of these diseases. Suspected cases are to be referred for confirmatory diagnosis by various tests including histo-pathological biopsy. Electronic and Print media is utilized for health awareness for cancer.


  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to send two nano satellites into space namely INS-1A & INS-1B, weighing 10 kg each including payload mass of 5 kg.
  • These nano satellites are meant for technology demonstration. Mission life is expected to be six months to one year.

China has successfully launched Fengyun-4 satellite

  • China has successfully launched Fengyun-4 satellite, first of its new generation weather satellitesinto geostationary orbit.
  • It was launched onboard of Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.
  • The launch marked the 242nd mission of China’s Long March series of rockets.
  • Fengyun-4 is the first of China’s second-generation weather satellitesand also the country’s first quantitative remote-sensing satellite in highest orbit.
  • The satellite will make high time, spatial and spectral resolution observations of the atmosphere, clouds and space environment of China and surrounding regions, significantly improving capabilities of weather and climate forecasts.

World’s first Water Wave Laser unveiled

  • Scientists have created the first ‘water-wave laser’ that emits a beam through the interaction of light and water waves, and may be used in ‘lab-on-a-chip’ devices to study cell biology and test new drug therapies. The laser could someday be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves.
  • For now, the water-wave laser offers a “playground” for scientists studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair, researchers said. The study conducted by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is the first bridge between two areas of research that were previously considered unrelated to one another: nonlinear optics and water waves. A typical laser can be created when the electrons in atoms become “excited” by energy absorbed from an outside source, causing them to emit radiation in the form of laser light.

National Programme for Organic Production

Ministry of Commerce has implemented the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) since 2001. The objectives of NPOP are as under:

1)            To provide the means of evaluation of certification programme for organic agriculture and products (including wild harvest, aquaculture, livestock products) as per the approved criteria.

2)            To accredit certification programmes of Certification Bodies seeking accreditation.

3)            To facilitate certification of organic products in conformity with the prescribed standards.

4)            To facilitate certification of organic products in conformity with the importing countries organic standards as per equivalence agreement between the two countries or as per importing country requirements.

5)            To encourage the development of organic farming and organic processing.

The organic pulses certified under NPOP are being cultivated in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh/Telengana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Haryana, H.P, Odisha and Punjab.

Scramjet Engine details

  • The first experimental mission of a sub-scale Scramjet engine, towards the realization of an Air Breathing Propulsion System, was successfully conducted on August 28, 2016 (at 0600 hrs IST) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. Various flight events, namely, burn out of booster rocket stage, ignition of second stage solid rocket, functioning of Scramjet engines, followed by burn out of the second stage took place exactly as planned. With this experimental flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated.
  • The total cost incurred towards carrying out the first experimental mission of the Scramjet engine is Rupees 8 Crores.
  • The Scramjet engine, used in the first experimental mission is a scaled down version to demonstrate proof-of-concept.
  • Scramjet engine technology is a complex technology which is yet to be fully proven worldwide.
  • A series of technology demonstration tests are required before inducting the engine with required thrust into future launch vehicles.

The technology will be useful only during the atmospheric phase of the flight of launch vehicle and will benefit in bringing down the cost of access to space, by reducing the need of carrying the oxidizer along with the fuel.

Advanced Heavy Water Reactor Technology

  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), a constituent unit of Department of Atomic Energy, is working on the research and development of the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR).
  • It is a thorium fuel based vertical pressure tube type, heavy water moderated and boiling light water cooled reactor.
  • The 300 MWe capacity AHWR designed by BARC is intended to serve as a technology demonstrator for a range of technologies for Thorium utilisationas well as for several advanced safety features that have been incorporated.
  • With this objective, several innovative features of the design are currently being validated through large scale engineering experiments.
  • The current status is that design of all important nuclear systems of AHWR has been completed and various associated confirmatory R&D studies, detailed engineering of AHWR, various works related to obtaining the necessary site selection approvals and associated statutory/regulatory clearances are being taken up.
  • AHWR being a technology demonstration reactor will provide impetus for development of technologies for the third stage of India’s Nuclear Power Programme.
  • It will provide experience on use of Thorium fuel on a large and industrial scale.

In addition, the research programme which is underway for development of advanced safety systems will also provide benefits for post Fukushima related improvements for other operating / under-construction reactors.

National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organisation (NOTTO)

  • As per Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 1994 (as amended) and Rules thereunder, the Central Government has been given the mandate to maintain National registry of donors and recipients of human organs and tissues.

National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO) has been set up to maintain this registry based on the information received from the transplant/retrieval hospitals and other related organizations.

Surface-to-Air Missiles

  • Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) has been jointly developed by DRDO and IAI, Israel to be launched from ship.
  • It possesses high degree of maneuverability at target interception range. LR-SAM has been developed to counter a wide variety of airborne threats, like anti-ship missiles, aircraft, helicopters, UAVs drones and supersonic missiles.
  • Successful trials of Missile have been carried out recently and the weapon systems proven end to end.
  • The deliverable have already been started.

Special Programmes for Control & Prevention of Lifestyle Diseases

The Ministry of AYUSH through its three research organizations, namely, Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH) and Central Council for Research in Unani Medicine (CCRUM) has launched a programme to integrate Ayurveda, Homoeopathy and Unani with National Programme for prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS).


  • The major objective of the programme is prevention and early diagnosis of these diseases; reduce complications; reduce drug dependency through these systems. It also aims towards capacity building for human resource development.

There is no AYUSH drug for cure of cancer. In NCPDCS, patients are motivated for lifestyle changes and recommended to take free integrated medicines along with standard care for prevention of disease and reducing complications/drug dependency. For NPCDCS, adequate space have been provided to the Research Councils.

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.


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.

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.


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