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. India had a total of 2,96,279 deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea.
- 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.
- Nearly 15 years after the introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines in 2000, five countries among those with the highest pneumonia burden — India, Indonesia, Chad, China and Somalia — are still not using the vaccine in their routine immunisation programmes, the report noted.
- In addition to thinking of vaccines, the report points out other simple proven interventions in order to prevent these deaths, including antibiotics, exclusive breastfeeding, and access to treatment and care.
- Also urging nations to go beyond business as usual, the report chronicles innovations that help speed up the process and better chase the goal of cutting down the number of preventable child deaths.
What has India been doing in this regard?
India recently announced a partial introduction of the vaccine in five states (Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh) from 2017. India introduced rotavirus vaccines in four States in 2015.
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?
- Researchers soaked metal pieces in a jar with a solution of water and salt or a solution of water and antifreeze.
- They then applied a voltage to induce a known process called anodisation, which restructures the nanoscopic composition of a metal.
- That exposes the metal’s interior surface and makes it more receptive to storing and releasing energy.
- Researchers placed a physical barrier between the two pieces of metal and submerged it in an electrolyte solution made from water and potassium hydroxide.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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”.
- 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 innovate.mygov.in.
- In this regard, the ministry has unveiled the first set of 250 problem statements received from various ministries that the students will be required to solve during the Hackathon.
About Smart India Hackathon:
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.
- Each participating college can nominate up to three teams, each having six team members, which can belong to different courses or semesters within the same college.
- Each team will need to have at least one female team member, to encourage women coders. Each team will also have the option of choosing up to two mentors, who can be faculty, alumni or any other expert in their circles.
- Each of the participating 25 ministries and government departments will give away prizes to top three teams, so 75 teams will stand a chance to win cash rewards as well as a chance to work with those ministries and departments for up to six months to execute their winning solution.
- For every ministry and department, the first prize will be of Rs.100,000, second prize of Rs.75,000 and third prize of Rs.50,000.
- Some of the ministries and departments participating in the Hackathon include Railways, External Affairs, Defence, Civil Aviation, Indian Space Research Organization, Department of Atomic Energy, etc.
- All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), University Grants Commission (UGC), i4c, MyGov, NASSCOM, Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini and Persistent Systems have joined hands to organize this ambitious ‘Smart India Hackathon 2017’ under the aegis of Ministry of Human Resource Development.
What is it for?
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.
Significance of this initiative:
- ‘Smart India Hackathon 2017’ will harness creativity & technical expertise of over 30 lakh students from technology institutes in remotest parts of India, to spark several institute-level hackathons countrywide and help build a funnel for ‘Startup India, Standup India’ campaign.
- Besides its potential to be the inflection point for impacting campaigns such as Digital India, Skill India, Make in India, Startup India and Standup India, the Smart India Hackathon can also set an example for the world on how youth power can help find digital solutions to legacy problems within a matter of hours.
- 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
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.
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.
- This programme will be supported by guidelines and standard operating practices along with an IT enabled application.
- The three day International Conference on Brucellosis is being organized by the Department of Biotechnology in collaboration with Indian Council for Agriculture Research.
- The conference is result of DBT’s network programme on Brucellosis launched in 2012 to address this epidemiology and for development of new generation of vaccines and diagnostic kits.
- The Conference provides a technical platform for scientist and experts from all over the world.
- Participants from 26 countries include USA, Belgium, Germany, Nigeria, Argentina, Spain and Turkey.
- The three days deliberations would address various issues on Brucellosis covering broad and interdisciplinary field of “One Health” concept revolving around Brucella Pathogenesis & Host-pathogen interaction; Human Brucellosis; Epidemiology and Control; Brucella research in India; Canine and Wildlife Brucellosis; Diagnostic methods; and Vaccines & Immunology.
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.
- 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
- 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).
- 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.
- Forecasters will use the lightning mapper to hone in on storms that represent the greatest threats. The satellite’s primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands, including two visible channels, four near-infrared channels, and 10 infrared channels.
- Improved space weather sensors on GOES-R will monitor the sun and relay crucial information to forecasters so they can issue space weather alerts and warnings.
- In all, data from GOES-R will result in 34 new or improved meteorological, solar and space weather products.
- 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.
There are four satellites in the GOES-R series: –R, –S, –T and –U, which will extend NOAA’s geostationary coverage through 2036.
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,
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.
- The new quantum communication line links Hefei, capital of Anhui province, to Shanghai, the country’s financial hub. It is part of a 2,000-km quantum communication line connecting Beijing and Shanghai. The 712-km line has 11 stations and it took three years of construction.
- The Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication line will be connected to the Micius satellite through the line’s station in Beijing, enabling the space-to-Earth quantum communication network. In August, China successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellite. It was nicknamed “Micius” after a fifth century BC Chinese philosopher and scientist.
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.
China successfully launches fourth data satellite
China has successfully launched its fourth data satellite to achieve global network operation that will provide data relay, measurement and control services for its manned spacecraft.
- The satellite, Tianlian I-04, was launched on a Long March-3C carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest Sichuan province. The launch marked the 241st mission of China’s Long March series of rockets.
- Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the satellite will join its three predecessors to achieve global network operation.
- The network is expected to provide data relay, measurement and control services for China’s manned spacecraft, space labs and space stations, according to the centre.
- The network will also offer data relay services for the country’s medium- and low-Earth orbiting resources satellites, as well as measurement and control support for spacecraft launches.
China launched its first data relay satellite, the Tianlian I-01, in April 2008. The second satellite was launched in July 2011, and the third was launched in July 2012.
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 Naduand 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.
- The sea water desalination plant set up at Kalpakkam is a demonstration plant. The cost of water produced depends upon many factors like cost of electricity, quality of required end product, choice of technologies, seawater quality, local infrastructure and logistics etc. On an average, the cost of conversion of seawater into desalinated water is about 10 paise per litre of water produced.
At present, there is no proposal before the Government to set up sea water Desalination plant using Atomic Energy.
Benefits of Medicines Made from Cow Urine in Chronic Diseases
- Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) through its constituent laboratories has conducted research studies in collaboration with Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra, Nagpur on cow urine distillate for its antioxidant and bio-enhancing properties on anti- infective and anti-cancer agents and nutrients. Four US Patents have been secured since 2002 and one pharmaceutical product containing cow urine distillate with anti-oxidant property is available in the market.
- Panchagavya is a classic collective name of five products obtained from cow viz milk, curd, ghee, urine and dung. Cow urine is ingredient of several Ayurvedic formulations and also used as adjuvant with medicinal formulations and for pharmaceutical processing called Shodhana (Purification) and Bhavana (Triturition) of medicinal materials.
- Panchagavya and its ingredients are part of the course curricula of Ayurvedic studies at degree and post-graduation levels. Opportunities of postgraduate and postdoctoral research as well as extramural research on Panchagavya are available to the interested scholars and scientists.
- Medicines made from Cow’s products falling within the purview of Section 3(a) and Section (h) of drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940 are regulated as in the case of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines.
- The licensing and quality control provisions for such medicines are prescribed in the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945 and the standards are given in the Pharmacopeia.
Details of cow shelter houses and other agencies engaged in the activities related to cow’s products are not maintained by the Ministry of AYUSH since the enforcement of the relevant legal provisions is done by the state authorities.
- The wastes generated at the nuclear power stations during the operation in solid, liquid and gaseous forms are of low and intermediate radioactivity level.
- These are planned to be managed at the site itself.
- In this regard waste management facilities are planned to be set up at each of the sites. These wastes are appropriately treated, concentrated and subjected to volume reduction.
- The concentrates are immobilized in inert materials like cement, bitumen, polymers etc. and stored in specially constructed structures located at the site under monitoring.
- Typically, the quantity of low and intermediate level waste to be stored at site is about 0.15 cubic meters/year/MW.
- The treated liquids and gases are diluted and discharged under continuous monitoring, ensuring that the discharges are well within the limits set by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).
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.
- 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.
- Open clusters such as this are collections of stars weakly bound by the shackles of gravity, all of which are formed from the same massive molecular cloud of gas and dust. Because of this, all the stars have the same age and composition but vary in their mass because they formed at different positions within the cloud.
This unique property not only ensures a spectacular sight when viewed through a sophisticated instrument attached to a telescope such as Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys, but also gives astronomers a cosmic laboratory in which to study the formation and evolution of stars — a process that is thought to depend strongly on a star’s mass.
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 auroraâ€™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’
- The World Bank has claimed that the index-based evaluation is not only able to benchmark the readiness of Indian States for energy efficiency implementation, but also reveals critical deficits or barriers in this respect.
‘Effective implementation of energy efficiency and energy conservation activities’ of the State, with an assessed achievement of around 650 MW of avoided capacity and about 1500 MU of Annual Energy Savings in a span of two years with adoption of emerging LED technology in domestic and urban street lighting sectors has impressed the World Bank, according to a press statement issued by the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan.
- 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.
- Harvesting and threshing in traditional varieties require more manpower and time thereby increasing the cost of cultivation and chances of losses due to damage by untimely rains. This extra early line also allows growing of mustard/potato/wheat in rabi after harvest of pigeonpea successfully.
- Moreover, as this line is extra early maturing (120 days) it allows flexibility of sowing from onset of monsoon (5th June) to even up to 1st week of July.
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.
- The policy seeks 100% use of fly ash generated from thermal power plants and biogas plants for construction activities.
- Facilitates use of fly ash to make bricks, blocks, tiles, wall panels, cement and other construction materials. The policy extends use of fly ash to 300 kms radius of power plant from earlier 100 kms radius of power plant.
- It will help in environment protection and save soil excavation. It also will make available raw material for construction at low cost to help ‘Housing for All’ projects.
- It will also help create new employment opportunities in the power plant sector and pave way for prosperity by generating Wealth from Waste.
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.
- Recent Zika virus outbreak has highlighted the urgent need to establish genetic tools for studying how the virus multiplies and causes disease in order to develop countermeasures.
It has also become important to deal with Zika virus which is spreading rapidly and behaves differently than other viruses as it can be transmitted sexually and is associated with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).