Prepare Prelims 2017-Day-68-Science & Tech CA (Nov-Feb 17)

India has joined UNICEF-WHO network

  • India is among nine countries that will be part of a global health network focused on improving the quality of care for new mothers and babies and strengthen national efforts to end preventable deaths of pregnant women and newborns by 2030.
  • The nine countries are India, Bangladesh, A Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Through the new ‘Network for Improving Quality of Care for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’, supported by World Health Organisation (WHO), UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners, the countries will work to improve the quality of care mothers and babies receive in their health facilities, a statement from WHO said.
  • The Network aims to strengthen national efforts to end preventable deaths by 2030, as envisioned by the Every Woman Every Child Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health.
  • Countries will do that by strengthening capacity and motivation of health professional to plan and manage quality improvement, improving data collection and increasing access to medicines, supplies, equipment and clean water.
  • “Every mother and infant deserves to receive the highest quality of care when they access health facilities in their communities,” WHO Department of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health director Anthony Costello said.
  • The first nine countries in the Network have committed to identifying the actions they will take to improve quality of care and will work with partners to deliver the vision of quality that encompasses values of equity and dignity.
  • In order to achieve this, governments will build and strengthen their national institutions, identify quality of care focal points at all levels of the health system, accelerate and sustain the implementation of quality-of-care improvement packages for mothers, newborns and children.
  • Through a global learning platform, the Network will build a community of health practitioners from the facility level and develop evidence-based strategies to improve quality of care, harvest implementation ideas, and collect information and experiences about what is working.
  • WHO said the period around childbirth is the most critical for saving mothers and newborns, and preventing stillbirths.
  • Every year, worldwide, 3,03,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth, 2.7 million babies die during the first 28 days of life and 2.6 million babies are stillborn. Most of these deaths could be prevented with quality care during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • “Births in health facilities have increased in the past decade,” Costello said.
  • “Attention is now shifting from access to care to improving the quality of care so that countries can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals targets to end preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths by 2030.”
  • Utilising WHO’s Standards for improving quality of maternal and newborn care in health facilities, published in 2016, countries within the Network will work to improve both the provision of, and patients’ experience of health care.

The eight new standards provide a quality of care framework which will help countries ensure their services are safe, effective, timely, efficient, equitable and people-centred.

Tests for Moon Landing of Chandrayaan-2

  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started a series of ground tests for testing the performance of sensors and actuators for soft landing of the Lander on the lunar surface.  
  • Special tests for new systems in Lander have been identified and a Lander Sensors Performance Test over artificial craters created in Chitradurga district in Karnataka, has been conducted.
  • Lunar Terrain Test facility is ready for Lander drop test and Rover mobility tests.
  • ISRO is working towards the launch of Chandrayaan-2 during the first quarter of 2018.
  • The Chandrayaan-2 comprises of indigenous Orbiter, Lander and Rover.
  • After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter.
  • After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.

The instruments on the rover will collect data for analysis of the lunar soil.

Mapping dolphin proteins may benefit human health

  • Mapping all the proteins found in the dolphin genome could pave the way for finding a new way to treat some common diseases that affect humans, say researchers.
  • “Dolphins and humans are very, very similar creatures.
  • “As mammals, we share a number of proteins and our bodies function in many similar ways, even though we are terrestrial and dolphins live in the water all their lives.
  • A genome is the complete set of genetic material present in an organism.Although a detailed map of the bottlenose dolphin ( Tursiops truncatus ) genome was first compiled in 2008, recent technological breakthroughs enabled the creation of a new, more exhaustive map of all of the proteins produced by the dolphins’ DNA.


  • Studies have recently revealed a protein, known as vanin-1, may help the marine mammals protect their kidneys. Humans produce vanin-1, but in much smaller amounts.
  • Researchers would like to gather more information on whether or not elevating levels of vanin-1 may offer protection to kidneys.
  • “There’s this gap in the knowledge about genes and the proteins they make. We are missing a huge piece of the puzzle in how these animals do what they do.

Vanin-1 is just one example of how genomic information about this mammalian cousin might prove useful. There may be hundreds of other similar applications.

ISRO launches 104 satellites: How important is this ton?

  • The PSLV-C37 will inject into orbit 104 satellites from 7 countries, nearly 3 times the highest number flown by a single mission currently. A ‘flock’ of 88 will get to work to map every inch of the planet in super high resolution, creating images of limitless potential.

Why is this launch significant?

  • The rocket is carrying almost 3 times the record number of satellites launched in a single mission — Russia’s Dnepr rocket carried 37 payloads in June 2014. In January that year, American company Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares rocket flew with 34 satellites; the Dnepr had carried 32 payloads in November 2013. On June 20 last year, ISRO’s PSLV-C34 launched 20 satellites.

What challenges do so many satellites present?

  • No great technological leap is involved. Smaller and lighter satellites have made it possible for rockets to carry more of them. The number of satellites that can be loaded on a rocket is restricted only by the space available and the carrying capacity of the launch vehicle in terms of weight. But satellites have to be stacked together in certain configurations so that they can be ejected in desired orbits without disturbing the flights of others or colliding with each other. This requires lot of engineering innovations.
  • Rockets often use ‘container’ satellites for a bunch of sub-satellites. After the container is injected, it fires the sub-satellites into their respective orbits. Both the Dnepr and Antares rockets had container satellites. In the ISRO launch, however, each satellite will be ejected independently from the rocket.

Will the satellites be released in one go or one after the other?

  • The Cartosat-2 series satellite will be the first, and the two Indian nano-satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B will follow. The other satellites, including the 88 ‘Dove’ satellites, will then be released in pairs over a period of 10 minutes. At the time of separation from the rocket, the satellites will be travelling at more than 7.5 km per second.

But why do rockets need to be packed with so many satellites?

With an ever-increasing number of space-based applications, the demand for satellites is growing rapidly. The number of rocket launches, however, have remained limited. Additionally, it makes sense to pack more on a single rocket because of cost considerations.

Why India needs the rubella vaccine?

Why is the measles-rubella vaccine being administered to children?

  • Buoyed by the elimination of polio six years ago and maternal and neonatal tetanus and yaws in 2016, India has set an ambitious target of eliminating measles and controlling congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), caused by the rubella virus, by 2020.
  • While two doses of measles vaccine given at 9-12 months and 16-24 months have already been part of the national immunisation programme, it is the first time that the rubella vaccine has been included in the programme. Since the rubella vaccine will piggy-back on the measles elimination programme, there will be very little additional cost.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), “a single dose of rubella vaccine gives more than 95% long-lasting immunity.” All children aged nine months and 15 years will be administered a single dose of the combination vaccine.

Measles Statistics:

  • Measles is highly infectious and is one of the major childhood killer diseases.
  • Of the 1,34,000 measles deaths globally in 2015, an estimated 47,000 occurred in India.
  • The introduction of the second dose of the measles vaccine and an increase in vaccine coverage have led to a sharp decline in deaths in India — from an estimated 1,00,000 deaths in 2010 to 47,000 in 2015.
  • Unlike measles, rubella is a mild viral infection that mainly occurs in children.
  • But a woman infected with the rubella virus during the early stage of pregnancy has a 90% chance of transmitting it to the foetus.
  • The virus can cause hearing impairments, eye and heart defects and brain damage in newborns, and even spontaneous abortion and foetal deaths. Of the 1,10,000 children born with CRS every year globally, an estimated 40,000 cases occur in India alone.

Why opt for a campaign?

  • With the target set for 2020 to eliminate measles and control CRS, there is a compelling need to create a solid wall of immunity in all children up to 15 years in one go at the earliest.
  • That can be achieved only if immunisation is carried out in a campaign mode by targeting 410 million children nationwide within 18 months. About 465 million doses will be required. Since the Pune-based Serum Institute of India is the only manufacturer of the vaccine, the measles-rubella vaccination campaign is being introduced in phases. Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep are covered in the first phase.
  • The entire country will be covered in four phases in 18 months. Following the campaign, two doses of the combination vaccine will become a part of the national immunisation programme. All children will receive the vaccine free at 9-12 months and 16-24 months of age.

Is it possible to achieve the goal by 2020?

  • According to Dr. Jacob John, co-chairman of the India Expert Advisory Group for measles and rubella, it is eminently doable.
  • Though the goal is only to eliminate measles and control rubella by 2020, both viruses can be eliminated if their transmission can be broken.
  • For that to happen, the vaccine coverage has to be over 95% during the campaign and in the immunisation programme that follows it.
  • Now the measles vaccine coverage for the first dose is about 87% and 70% for the second dose.
  • Under the routine immunisation programme, the reach of the first dose of the measles vaccine shot up from 56% in 2000 to 87% in 2015.
  • Furthermore, India has to ramp up surveillance of both diseases, maintain outbreak preparedness, respond rapidly to outbreaks by vaccinating all children in a community and ensure effective and timely treatment of cases anywhere in the country.

According to the WHO, elimination of measles will help to achieve Sustainable Development Goal’s target 3.2, which aims to end preventable deaths of children under 5 years by 2030.

JCVI Syn-3.0:

  • It is the First Self-Replicating, Synthetic Bacterial Cell Constructed by J. Craig Venter Institute Researchers.
  • This contains just 473 genes, making it the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media.
  • The research to construct the first minimal synthetic cell at JCVI was the culmination of 20 years of research that began in 1995 after the genome sequencing of the first free-living organism.
  • Species chosen for research: Mycoplasma genitalium was choosen as it was the species with the smallest number of genes known at the time when research began.

This species is characterised by the lack of a cell wall. It is one of the
smallest genomes of free-living organisms.

Diet high in sugar linked to Alzheimer’s disease

  • A diet high in sugar could lead to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study that has found a link between sugar consumption and the brain impairment.
  • According to researchers from the University of Bath and King’s College London, the study offers the first evidence to explain why abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, have an impact on cognitive function.
  • When levels of sugar pass the threshold, they restrict the performance of a vital protein, which normally fights the brain inflammation associated with dementia, researchers said. Brain samples of 30 patients were used in the study.

What is Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Alzheimer’s disease(AD), also known as just Alzheimer’s, is a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time.
  • It is the cause of 60% to 70% of cases of dementia.
  • The most common early symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events (short-term memory loss).
  • As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation (including easily getting lost), mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self care, and behavioural issues.
  • As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society.
  • Gradually, bodily functions are lost, ultimately leading to death. 
  • Although the speed of progression can vary, the average life expectancy following diagnosis is three to nine years.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Memory problems are typically one of the first signs of cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease. Some people with memory problems have a condition called mild cognitive impairment (MCI). In MCI, people have more memory problems than normal for their age, but their symptoms do not interfere with their everyday lives. Movement difficulties and problems with the sense of smell have also been linked to MCI. Older people with MCI are at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s, but not all of them do. Some may even go back to normal cognition.

The first symptoms of Alzheimer’s vary from person to person. For many, decline in non-memory aspects of cognition, such as word-finding, vision/spatial issues, and impaired reasoning or judgment, may signal the very early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers are studying biomarkers (biological signs of disease found in brain images, cerebrospinal fluid, and blood) to see if they can detect early changes in the brains of people with MCI and in cognitively normal people who may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s. Studies indicate that such early detection may be possible, but more research is needed before these techniques can be relied upon to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in everyday medical practice.


  • For the first time, astronomers have discovered seven Earth-size planets orbiting a single nearby star – and these new worlds could hold life.
  • This cluster of planets is less than 40 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, according to NASA and the Belgian-led research team who announced the discovery.
  • The planets circle tightly around a dim dwarf star called Trappist-1, barely the size of Jupiter.
  • Three are in the so-called habitable zone, the area around a star where water and, possibly life, might exist.
  • Scientists said they need to study the atmospheres before determining whether these rocky, terrestrial planets could support some sort of life.
  • But it already shows just how many Earth-size planets could be out there – especially in a star ripe for extraterrestrial life.
  • The more planets like this, the greater the potential of finding one that’s truly habitable. Until now, only two or three Earth-size planets had been spotted around a star.
  • The potential for more Earth-size planets in the Milky Way galaxy is mind-boggling.
  • The discovery gives us a hint that finding a second Earth is not just a matter of if, but when.
  • University of Liege’s Michael Gillon and his team reported finding three planets around Trappist-1. Now the count is up to seven, and scientists said there could be more.
  • This crowded yet compact solar system – 235 trillion miles away – is reminiscent of Jupiter and its Galilean moons, according to the researchers.
  • Altogether, astronomers have confirmed close to 3,600 planets outside our solar system since the 1990s, but barely four dozen are in the potential habitable zone of their stars.
  • Of those, just 18 are approximately the size of Earth.
  • Both ground and space telescopes were used to identify and track the seven Trappist-1 planets, which they label simply by lowercase letters, “b” through “h.”
  • As is typical in these cases, the letter “A” – in upper case – is reserved for the star.
  • Planets cast shadows on their star as they pass in front of it; that’s how the scientists spotted them.
  • Tiny, cold stars like Trappist-1 were long shunned by exoplanet-hunters (exoplanets are those outside our solar system).
  • But the astronomers decided to seek them out, building a telescope in Chile to observe 60 of the closest ultracool dwarf stars.
  • Their Trappist telescope lent its name to this star.
  • While faint, the Trappist-1 star is close by cosmic standards, allowing astronomers to study the atmospheres of its seven temperate planets.
  • All seven look to be solid like Earth – mostly rocky and possibly icy, too.
  • They all appear to be tidally locked, which means the same side continually faces the star, just like the same side of our moon always faces us.
  • Life could still exist at these places, the researchers explained.

Chemical analyses should indicate life with perhaps 99 percent confidence.

What is Exoplanet:

Exoplanet refers to any planet that is outside our Solar System.
They are generally part of star systems.

There are some “rogue” exoplanets, which are not attached to any star system.
The first exoplanet was detected in 1995.

Aditya L1

Aditya L1 is an Indian solar observation satellite to be placed at the Sun-Earth Lagrangian point L1.

The major scientific objectives of the mission are to achieve a fundamental understanding of the physical processes that heat the solar corona, accelerate the solar wind and produce Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

Originally the mission design started as a small LEO satellite carrying only a coronagraph as a payload. In order to get the best science from the Sun, continuous viewing of the Sun is preferred. A Satellite placed in the halo orbit around the L1 Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system has the major advantage of continuously viewing the Sun without any occultation/ eclipses. Based on the technical studies, it was found that PSLV-XL developed at ISRO has the capability to launch a satellite which can be placed at a halo orbit around L1 point.

More Details:

  • The first point, L1, lies between Earth and the sun and gets an uninterrupted view of the sun and free from the occurrence of eclipses.
    India’s Aditya Satellite is placed at L1 point.
  • L2 with the Earth, moon and sun behind it, a spacecraft can get a clear view of deep space and it has a protection for radiation feld from
  • The James Webb Space Telescope will move into L2 point in 2018.
  • The third Lagrange point, L3, lies behind the
    sun, opposite Earth’s orbit. For now, science has not found a use for this spot.
  • Points L4 and L5 are stable and lie along
    Earth’s orbit at 60 degrees ahead of and behind Earth and dust and asteroids tend to accumulate in these regions due to its stability.
  • Asteroids that surround the L4 and L5 points
    are called Trojans and Earth’s only known Trojan asteroid, 2010 TK7 is found in the region.


  • The Andromeda Galaxy also known as
    Messier 31, is a spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years from Earth.
  • It is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky.
  • It received its name from the area of the sky
    in which it appears i.e the constellation of Andromeda.
  • It is the largest galaxy of the Local Group,
    which also contains the Milky Way, the Triangulum Galaxy, and other smaller galaxies.
  • It is visible to the naked eye on moonless nights.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:

  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD) is a mental disorder of the neurodevelopmental 
  • It is characterized byproblems paying attention, excessive activity, or difficulty controlling behavior which is not appropriate for a person’s age.
  • These symptoms begin by age six to twelve, are present for more than six months, and cause problems in at least two settings (such as school, home, or recreational activities).
  • In children, problems paying attention may result in poor school performance.
  • Although it causes impairment, particularly in modern society, many children with ADHD have a good attention span for tasks they find interesting.
  • The factors can contribute include Genes, Cigarette smoking, alcohol use, or drug use during pregnancy, Exposure to environmental toxins during pregnancy etc.
  • Though there is no cure for ADHD, currently available treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve functioning.

Secure Hash Algorithm-1

  • A collaboration between Google’s research unit and a Dutch institute cracked a widely used cryptographic technology SHA-1.
  • This technology that has been one of the key building blocks of internet security, is known as Secure Hash Algorithm 1 or currently used to verify the integrity of digital files and signatures that secure credit card transactions as well as Git open-source software repositories.
  • Researchers were able to demonstrate a “collision attack” using two different PDF files with the same SHA-1 fingerprint, but with different visible content.

Moving forward, it’s more urgent than ever for security practitioners to migrate to safer cryptographic hashes such as SHA-256 and SHA-3.

GoI has invoked emergency for manufacture of Coronary Stents

  • Moving to ensure there is no shortage of stents due to price control, the government has invoked an emergency provision making it mandatory for manufacturers to maintain production and supply of coronary stents at previous levels for at least six months.
  • Stent makers and importers have also been directed to submit a weekly report on stents production and distribution to the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), which regulates prices of drugs and medical devices.
  • Following reports of artificial shortage of stents after it imposed price caps, the NPPA had written to department of pharmaceuticals asking it to invoke the provisions.
  • After due deliberations on the current situation and alternatives available with the government to resume normal supply of the coronary stents, it has been decided to invoke the powers of Section 3 (i) of DPCO, 2013.
  • Withdrawal of any brand having got a license earlier without NOC (No objection Certificate) from NPPA shall be dealt firmly.
  • Last week, NPPA had fixed prices of bare metal stents at Rs 7,260, whereas both drug eluting stents (DES) and biodegradable stents were capped at Rs 29,600.

Section 3 of DPCO

  • Under Section 3 (i) of DPCO, 2013, the government can regulate distribution.
  • It can also direct any manufacturer to increase production and sell products to institutions, hospitals or any agency as the case may be in case of emergency.
  • This is also in circumstances of urgency or in case of non-commercial use in public interest.

Coronary stent:

  • Acoronary stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, to keep the arteries open in the treatment of coronary heart disease.
  • It is used in a procedure called percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI).
  • Stents reduce chest pain and have been shown to improve survivability in the event of an acute myocardial infarction.

Similar stents and procedures are used in non-coronary vessels e.g. in the legs in peripheral artery disease.

GSLV’s cryogenic upper stage tested successfully

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s quest for having the most powerful and world-class launch vehicle to take heavier satellites weighing about 4 tonnes to predetermined geosynchronous orbit crossed the final hurdle on Friday evening when the Propulsion Research Complex at Mahendragiri, situated about 60 km from here, successfully ground-tested indigenously developed GSLV MK III’s cryogenic upper stage C-25.
  • “The 640-second-long test of C-25 of the country’s most powerful launch vehicle that can carry heavier satellites weighing 4,000 kg was successful as it met all pre-determined parameters such as chamber pressure, propellant flow, injection pressure, temperature and other critical parameters,” 

Details on cryogenic upper stage of the GSLV:

  • The cryogenic upper stage of the GSLV is the large C-25, which is the most difficult component of the launch vehicle to be developed. It will be powered by the indigenously developed CE-20 engine.
  • The 13.50 meter-long C-25 with 4-meter diameter would contain propellant – liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen – weighing about 25 tonnes.
  • Through the successful ‘hot test’ conducted at IPRC, Mahendragiri, for 640 seconds in February last, the CE-20 engine crossed a major milestone earlier and the CE-25 was tested for a short duration of 50 seconds on last January 25.
  • “The long duration cryogenic C-25 Developmental State propellant system test is a great milestone in the country’s space history as it is capable of producing a thrust of 20 tonnes.
  • This is the endurance test of the propulsion stage to prove its capability to withstand the rigours of extreme environments in terms of vibration, shock and low temperature to qualify it for actual flight duration.
  • With this test, the ISRO has demonstrated that India has got the capability of designing, fabricating and evaluating indigenously developed GSLV through a range of test facilities.

For the upper stage alone, more than 200 multiple engine tests were conducted to validate the efficiency of C-25.

Scientists develop high-quality graphene from soybean

  • Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have made world’s strongest material graphene commercially more viable by using soybean.
  • They have developed a novel “GraphAir” technology which eliminates the need for such a highly-controlled environment.
  • Previously, graphene was grown in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases, requiring long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing. 
  • The technology grows graphene film in ambient air with a natural precursor, making its production faster and simpler. 
  • Soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units when heat is applied. It makes it essential for the synthesis of graphene films.
  • This ambient-air process for graphene fabrication is fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable, and integration friendly.

Graphene & Applications:

  • The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few.
  • Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well.

Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.

NASA’s Dawn mission has found evidence of organic material on Ceres

  • NASA’s Dawn mission has found evidence of organic material on Ceres.

About Ceres:

  • Ceres is a dwarf planet and the largest body in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.


  • Scientists discovered the material in and around a northern-hemisphere crater called Ernutet.
  • Organic molecules are novel to scientists because they are necessary, though not sufficient components of life on Earth.
  • The discovery makes it to the growing list of bodies in the solar system where organics have been found.
  • Organic compounds have been found in certain meteorites. They have also been inferred from telescopic observations of several asteroids.
  • Ceres shares many commonalities with meteorites rich in water and organics – in particular, a meteorite group referred to as carbonaceous chondrites.
  • This discovery further strengthens the connection between Ceres, these meteorites and their parent bodies.
  • This is the first clear detection of organic molecules from orbit on a main belt body.
  • Data supports the idea that organic materials are native to Ceres.
  • The carbonates and clays previously identified on Ceres provide evidence for chemical activity in the presence of water and heat.
  • This raises the chance that the organics were similarly processed in a warm water-rich environment.
  • The organics discovery makes an addition to Ceres’ attributes associated with ingredients and conditions for life in the distant past.
  • Earlier studies have found hydrated minerals, carbonates, water ice, and ammoniated clays that must have been altered by water.
  • Salts and sodium carbonate, such as those found in the bright areas of Occator Crater, are also thought to have been carried to the surface by liquid.
  • This discovery adds to scientific understanding of the possible origins of water and organics on Earth.
  • The organic materials on Ceres are mainly located in an area covering approximately 1,000 square kilometres.
  • There are other smaller organic-rich areas several kilometres west and east of the crater.
  • Organics were also found in a very small area in Inamahari Crater, about 400 kilometres away from Ernutet.
  • Having completed nearly two years of observations in orbit at Ceres, Dawn is now in a highly elliptical orbit at Ceres, going from an altitude of 7,520 kilometres up to nearly 9,350 kilometres.
  • It will create a new altitude of around 20,000 kilometres, about the height of GPS satellites above Earth, and to a different orbital plane.
  • This will put Dawn in a position to study Ceres in a new geometry.

As time advances, Dawn will view Ceres with the sun directly behind the spacecraft, such that Ceres will appear brighter than before, and perhaps reveal more clues about its nature.

Cognitive Computing

  • Cognitive computing is the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model. Cognitive computing involves self-learning systems that use data mining, pattern recognition and natural language processing to mimic the way the human brain works.
  • The goal of cognitive computing is to create automated IT systems that are capable of solving problems without requiring human assistance.
  • Cognitive computing systems use machine learning algorithms. Such systems continually acquire knowledge from the data fed into them by mining data for information.
  • The systems refine the way they look for patterns and as well as the way they process data so they become capable of anticipating new problems and modeling possible solutions.
  • Cognitive computing is used in numerous artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including expert systems, natural language programming, neural networks, robotics and virtual reality.
  • The term cognitive computing is closely associated with IBM’s cognitive computer system

Tissue of marine creatures in deepest ocean

  • Scientists for the first time have found high levels of human-made pollutants, including chemicals that were banned in the 1970s, in the tissues of marine creatures dwelling in the deepest oceans of the Earth.
  • These chemicals were discovered after sampling amphipods from the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana and Kermadec trenches, which are over 10 km deep and 7,000 km apart.
  • Scientists found presence of extremely high levels of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in the organism’s fatty tissue.
  • These POPs include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) which are commonly used as electrical insulators and flame retardants.
  • These banned pollutants are invulnerable to natural degradation and persist in the environment for decades.
  • They may have been released into the environment through industrial accidents.
  • Pollutants may have found their way to deep trenches through contaminated plastic debris and dead animals sinking to bottom of ocean.
  • Here they were consumed by amphipods and other fauna.
  • These sampled amphipods had levels of contamination similar to that found in Suruga Bay, one of the most polluted industrial zones of the north-west Pacific.

Thus, this research shows that the remote and pristine oceanic realm which was earlier considered safe from human impact is not safe.

Novel rubber like material-‘Thubber’

  • Scientists have developed novel rubber like material called ‘thubber’ which has high thermal conductivity and elasticity.

More Details on Thubber:

  • Thubber is an electrically insulating composite material that exhibits an unprecedented combination of metal-like thermal conductivity, elasticity similar to soft, biological tissue.
  • It consists of a soft elastomer with non-toxic, liquid metal micro droplets suspended within it.
  • This semi-liquid form allows the metal to deform with the surrounding rubber at room temperature.
  • When it is pre-stretched at room temperature, it stretches up to 6 times its initial length.
  • During this phase, liquid metal micro-droplets form into elongated pathways through which heat can easily travel through.
  • Alongside the material is electrically insulating.

In developing wearable computing and soft robotics, industries like athletic wear and sports medicine and in advanced manufacturing, energy, and transportation, thubber can be used.

Deadly Ebola virus using antibodies from horses

  • In a first, scientists have developed an effective, rapid and economical treatment for the deadly Ebola virus using antibodies from horses.
  • The post-exposure treatment made with antibodies from horses could be used in the next Ebola outbreak.
  • This is a cost-effective treatment that can be used in low-income countries in Africa where equine production facilities are already in operation for producing snake-bite antivenin.
  • It’s the first time that equine antibodies have been shown to work effectively against Ebola infection.
  • The largest recorded outbreak of Ebola virus occurred primarily in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, infecting 30,000 people and killing more than 11,000, with exported cases in Europe and North America.
  • The development of monoclonal antibodies were used in the UK to treat infected health workers returning from Africa.
  • The down side is that monoclonal antibodies require considerable investment for scale-up and manufacture, and are expensive.
  • Equine antibodies are a considerably cheaper alternative, with manufacturing capacity already in place in Africa.
  • Antibodies from vaccinated horses provide a low-cost alternative, and are already in use for rabies, botulism and diphtheria.

Scientists have also developed experimental Ebola vaccine made using an Australian virus called Kunjin, that might also help in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

ISRO Collaborates with Drishti Lifesaving to Study Killer Rip Tides

  • The phenomenon of ‘killer rip tides’ is being studied by ISRO in collaboration with a private lifeguard agency appointed by the Goa government to safeguard its beaches.
  • Rip tides are one of the most common causes for drowning in the shallow waters off Goa’s popular coastline.
  • The study Ripex 2017 is being conducted by a team of scientists at Space Applications Centre, ISRO Ahmedabad, along with Drishti Lifesaving, a private agency appointed by the state tourism ministry to maintain a lifeguard force.
  • “Rip currents are one of the most common problem-causing currents witnessed along Goa’s coast with a higher rate of incidents recorded at Calangute, Baga, Anjuna and Colva beaches.
  • Using a specially developed device and the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System and a navigation receiver, the team of scientists, along with the lifeguard specialists, tested the presence of active rips along some beaches on January 31 to February 1, documenting these for future research.
  • A rip tide is a strong sea current which pulls the water away from the shore, often catching unawares swimmers and people enjoying the sea in the shallows and can drag them into the sea.
  • Over the last few years, lifeguards have been instructed to direct tourists off the shore-line when such tides occur, more often than not unpredictably.
  • “Drishti’s lifeguards are trained and adept at identifying and conducting rescues in Rip currents. Warnings and studies generated by systems like Ripex are critical to augment our services and enable us to pre-empt an incident,” Somani said.

Goa’s beaches attract nearly four million tourists every year.


  • Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India is successfully implementing Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) scheme since 2010. The scheme covers students in the age group of 10-32 years and has five components. The first component, INSPIRE Award aims to motivate students, in the age group of 10-15 years and studying in classes 6 to 10, to pursue Science and a career in Research.
  • The INSPIRE Award – MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) is being revamped and executed by Department of Science & Technology and National Innovation Foundation-India to align it with the action plan for “Start-up India” initiative launched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India. The scheme aims to help build a critical human resource pool for strengthening, expand science and technology system and increase the research & development base on the same by inviting students from all government and private schools throughout the country and enabling them to send their original & creative technological ideas/innovations on the same.
  • Under the INSPIRE AWARDS – MANAK Scheme, students will be invited from all government or private schools throughout the country, irrespective of their educational boards (national and state) to send original and creative technological ideas/innovations focusing on common problems and come up with solutions on their own., be it household or for porters, labourers, society or the likes. Once the student has thought of an idea, he/she can submit their ideas to the Principal/Headmaster of their schools.

MIT researchers have developed a small battery that runs on stomach acids

  • MIT researchers have developed a small battery that runs on stomach acids and is capable of powering e-pills to monitor patient health.
  • The small system can generate enough power to run small sensors or drug delivery devices that can reside in the gastrointestinal tract for long periods of time.
  • For this battery, researchers used idea of very simple type of voltaic cell, lemon battery that produces electric current between the two electrodes stuck in a lemon due to its citric acid.
  • To replicate it, the researchers attached zinc and copper electrodes to the surface of their ingestible sensor.
  • The zinc emits ions into the acid in the stomach to power the voltaic circuit.
  • It can generate enough energy to power a commercial temperature sensor and a 900-megahertz transmitter to wirelessly transmit the data to a base station located 2 metres away, with a signal sent every 12 seconds.
  • The current prototype of the device is a cylinder about 12 millimetres in diameter and 40 millimetres in length.
  • Researchers are anticipating to make the capsule about one-third that size.
  • It offers a safer and lower-cost alternative to the traditional batteries used to power such devices.
  • It can also help in manufacturing new generation of electronic ingestible pills.
  • This could enable novel ways of monitoring patient health and treating disease.

White Dwarf Pulsar

  • Astronomers have located an elusive white dwarf pulsar.
  • This is the first of its kind to be discovered in the universe. It is housed in an exotic binary star system 380 light years away from Earth.
  • Researchers identified the star AR Scorpii (AR Sco) as the first white dwarf version of a pulsar.
  • Fresh data shows that AR Sco’s light is highly polarised, showing that the magnetic field controls the emission of the entire system.
  • This is a dead-ringer for similar behaviour seen from the more traditional neutron star pulsars.
  • The white dwarf pulsar has eluded astronomers for over five decades.
  • AR Sco contains a rapidly spinning, burnt-out stellar remnant called a white dwarf, which lashes its neighbour- a red dwarf.
  • It does so through powerful beams of electrical particles and radiation, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically twice every few minutes.
  • The lash of energy from AR Sco is a focused ‘beam’, emitting concentrated radiation in a single direction much like a particle accelerator- something which is totally unique in the known universe.
  • AR Sco lies in the constellation Scorpius, 380 light years from Earth, a close neighbour in astronomical terms.
  • The white dwarf in AR Sco is the size of Earth but 200,000 times more massive. It is in a 3.6 hour orbit with a cool star one-third the mass of the Sun, as per the study.

What is a Pulsar?

  • They are what is known as the “lighthouses” of the universe.
  • These are rotating neutron stars that emit a focused beam of electromagnetic radiation that is only visible if you’re standing in it’s path.
  • Referred to as pulsars, these stellar relics get their name because of the way their emissions appear to be “pulsating” out into space.
  • Pulsars are types of neutron stars which are the dead relics of massive stars.
  • They are highly magnetized, and rotating at enormous speeds.
  • Astronomers detect them by the radio pulses they emit at regular intervals.

Telemetry and Telecommand Processor

  • ISRO has indigenously developed Telemetry and Telecommand Processor. Its production will commence with the help of the Indian industry.
  • Processor’s indigenous development was taken as part of Make in India, replacing expensive imported equipment.
  • TTCP will be used in Integrated Spacecraft Testing of Low Earth Orbit, Geostationary Orbit and Interplanetary Spacecraft, ISRO said.
  • This system is configurable to meet uplink and downlink requirements of both CCSDS (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems) and ISRO standards.
  • Number of multiple clients can remotely access this system for data and monitoring.
  • Spacecraft Checkout Group of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) is responsible for integrated spacecraft testing to ensure the flight worthiness of the spacecraft built at ISAC.
  • Pointing out that during the testing, ground systems will communicate to spacecraft via the same uplink and downlink signals.
  • This is because as in space, the spacecraft typically use ISRO formats for telemetry and telecommand (downlink and uplink), for which indigenous equipment are being used.
  • However, the interplanetary spacecraft use an international standard known as CCSDS, and presently equipment are being imported for telemetry reception and telecommand transmission requirements.
  • This indigenously developed Processor was successfully deployed for the first time in checkout of GSAT-19, which is scheduled to be launched shortly.

All About GSAT-19

GSAT-19E is an Indian communications satellite scheduled by the Indian Space Research Organisation for launch aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III on 20 January 2017.

The GSAT-11

  • The GSAT-11 with its lift-off mass of about 5600 Kg is the heaviest communication spacecraft to be launched in the year 2017.
  • GSAT-11 is planned to be launched using Ariane-5 launch vehicle.
  • GSAT-11 is a multi-beam satellite with 32 user beams and 8 hub beams operating over India in Ka/Ku bands employing frequency reuse technique.
  • It will provide higher capacity for interactive applications using VSAT terminals compared to older generation three tonne INSAT/GSAT spacecrafts.
  • GSAT-11 will provide much faster uplinks for a host of communications and broadcasting services, including direct-to-home (DTH television).
  • With a dry mass of 2.1 tonne, the spacecraft will provide 10 GHz of bandwidth, which will be equivalent to about 220 transponders of 36 MHz.
  • The advanced satellite will employ a new I-6Ksatellite bus. It will be configured with two-sided large solar array panels generating 11 KW of power.

Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe

  • Helium is the second most abundant element in the Universe
  • It belongs to a six-member group of elements called the noble gases.
  • These are so-called because of an apparent ‘aloofness’ that prevents them from easily forming compounds with other elements.
  • Since earning their ‘noble’ reputation, some of these gases have shown signs of reactiveness under extreme conditions.
  • One can actually split the noble gases up into two groups, with krypton, xenon, and radon considered to be relatively reactive, and argon, neon, and helium considered to be very unreactive.
  • Researchers have found ways to pair up helium with other elements in the past, but until now, the result has always been less than concrete.
  • One of the most common examples of helium interacting with other elements refers to van der Waals forces – attractive or repulsive forces that don’t require conventional covalent or ionic bonds to form.
  • It’s known that very weak van der Waals forces exist between helium and other atom.
  • At extremely low temperatures, helium can form van der Waals molecules – very weakly bound clusters of atoms or molecules – but they cannot be sustained for long.
  • Helium’s staunch stability is due to its closed-shell electronic configuration – its outer shell is complete, which means there’s no room for it to bond with other atoms by sharing electrons.
  • Being one of the most abundant elements in the Universe, responsible for forming stars and gas giant planets, helium could play by very different rules out in space and deep within our planet.
  • The researchers have just found the first evidence yet of that weird behaviour.
  • The researchers used a ‘crystal structure-predicting’ computer model to predict that under extreme pressures, a stable helium-sodium compound could form.
  • They then physically created the never-before-seen compound, Na2He, in a diamond anvil cell experiment.
  • This allowed them to subject helium and sodium atoms to pressures of around 1.1 million times Earth’s atmospheric pressure.
  • “These findings were so unexpected, scientists and their colleagues struggled for more than two years to convince science reviewers and editors to publish their results.
  • Based on this, sodium will easily bond with helium gas to form a stable Na2He compound under pressures up to 10 million times higher than the level they achieved it at.
  • The compound appears to form without any chemical bonds to hold it together.
  • Helium atoms do not actually form any chemical bonds, yet their presence fundamentally changes chemical interactions between sodium atoms, forces electrons to localise inside cubic voids of the structure, and makes this material insulating.
  • Here’s the crystal structure of Na2He – a solid formation of alternating sodium and helium atoms, with electrons shared in the voids between them.
  • Chemists have made a number of these ‘rule-breaking’ discoveries recently, with separate teams creating the world’s first sample of metallic hydrogen, and a carbon molecule with six – not four – bonds last month.
  • This helium compound is a breakthrough.

Transformational technologies arise from pure science

  • If India wants to nurture the next big invention, it must ramp up support for research
  • Our lives are being transformed by technology daily. We are keenly aware of new tools like smart phones and the Internet, but much more lies under the surface.
  • Novel devices, materials and technologies have brought enormous benefits to our physical well-being in the context of medicine, housing, nutrition, security and sanitation, and to our mental well-being by transforming communication and socialisation.
  • Though we are happy to purchase smart devices and use medical equipment, we are less curious about how those technologies came into existence. This is ironic because India played a remarkable role, even under colonial rule, in planting the seeds of basic research from which they grew. For example, a currently promising breakthrough in testing for cancer, diabetes, asthma and malaria arises from ‘resonant Raman scattering’ and has its roots in C.V. Raman’s research.

Curiosity drives social benefit

  • The simple fact is that transformational technologies arise from basic science.
  • Abraham Flexner, founder of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, observed that “throughout the whole history of science, most of the really great discoveries which have ultimately proved to be beneficial to mankind have been made by men and women who were driven not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their curiosity.”
  • Like us, Flexner lived in an era when new inventions were transforming society — in his case these were radio, television, telephones and telegraphy.
  • He traced these transformations back to the path-breaking research on electromagnetism by James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz, who sought to understand the fundamental laws of nature rather than work directly for the ‘public good’.
  • The process by which fundamental research results in practical applications cannot be mapped out in advance.
  • It is well known that in the late 1890s, Wilhelm Roentgen, experimenting in his laboratory, accidentally discovered a type of ray that could penetrate the human body, the ‘X-ray’. At the time, several wars had created a stream of wounded soldiers in need of treatment. There was no easy way to locate bullets lodged in the body, so surgeons had to poke a probe into the soldier’s wound and wiggle it around to detect the bullet. This was excruciatingly painful and unsanitary.
  • Medical researchers made incremental improvements, but these were suddenly rendered obsolete by Roentgen’s discovery that one could see through the human body. Thus, his research found immediate application, and saved more lives than all the people working on diagnostics for bullet wounds.
  • In the case of lasers, the path from discovery to invention was longer, but the applications today are more wide-ranging.
  • In 1917, Albert Einstein discovered that when an atom is energised into an excited state it can radiate light in two ways: by spontaneous emission and by stimulated emission.
  • This raised the possibility that photons (tiny quanta of light) could be emitted coherently, like soldiers marching in step.
  • However, application of this concept had to wait until the late 1950s when physicists Arthur Schawlow and Charles Townes in the U.S. and Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov in the then Soviet Union suggested a mechanism to create coherent radiation — the laser, as it was eventually named.
  • Two years later, Theodore Maimanconstructed the first working prototype laser. Indian readers would be interested to know that soon thereafter, C. Kumar Naranbhai Patel, born in Baramati and educated at the College of Engineering in Pune, invented the carbon dioxide laser at Bell Laboratories. This variant has played a key role in cutting and welding and as a laser scalpel in surgery.
  • Today, the impact of lasers is incredibly wide-ranging — from dentistry, cosmetic surgery, eye surgery and tumour removal, to cutting, welding and drilling, to optical communications, guidance systems and data retrieval. None of this would have been possible without understanding the interactions of photons and atoms via relativistic quantum theory and thermodynamics.
  • It is noteworthy that the work of Schawlow and Townes was sponsored by the industrial giant Bell Telephones, yet the publication nowhere mentions any practical application. Maiman worked for another major industry, the Hughes Aircraft Company. These corporations were enlightened enough to understand that the path from basic science to application must be nourished like a garden, not engineered like a bridge.

Impact on inventions

  • Pure research in mathematics has also led to socially beneficial inventions.
  • Prime numbers, the building blocks of all numbers, play a key role in number theory — the ‘purest’ branch of mathematics and the field in which Srinivasa Ramanujan’s genius flowered.
  • Mathematician G.H. Hardy (who brought Ramanujan to England) wrote: “I have never done anything ‘useful’. No discovery of mine has made, or is likely to make, directly or indirectly, for good or ill, the least difference to the amenity of the world.”
  • But Hardy was wrong. ‘Public Key Encryption’, on which today’s password-based security systems are built, relies on the difficulty of factorising a whole number into primes.
  • Once encryption became vital in daily life, centuries of mathematical insight into prime numbers became socially relevant.
  • India’s contribution did not end with Ramanujan. In 2002, Prof. Manindra Agrawal at IIT Kanpur and two undergraduates published a breakthrough result in ‘primality testing’, with likely implications for cyber security.


  • To secure our country’s long-term future we have to generously support fundamental research, which provides the foundation and pillars on which technological applications are built.
  • Fortunately, India today has a strong intellectual base spanning all areas of fundamental science. But governmental involvement needs to increase substantially for us to be competitive.
  • Basic science in India awaits sizeable initiatives from private industry too.

The Nobel Laureate, David Gross, recently observed that if India does not dramatically ramp up support for pure science, we will soon become “a user economy, service economy, buying goods made elsewhere, buying inventions invented elsewhere.” Fortunately, we are in a good position to avoid this fate, but we must act now.

Health Ministry launches Measles-Rubella vaccination campaign

  • The Health Ministry has launched Measles-Rubellavaccination campaign in the country at a function in Bengaluru.
  • The campaign against these two diseases will start from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Goa and Lakshadweep, covering nearly 6 crore children.
  • The Minister urged parents, caregivers, community leaders, teachers, angan waadi workers and other frontline health workers to become the active part of this campaign.
  • The Measles and Rubella (MR) campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.

All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be given a single shot of MR- vaccination.

NASA telescope spots most extreme blazars yet

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has identified the farthest gamma-ray blazars, a type of galaxy whose intense emissions are powered by supersized black holes. Light from the most distant object began its journey to us when the universe was 1.4 billion years old, or nearly 10 percent of its present age.

Key Facts

  • These luminous galaxies, known as blazars are the most distant ever detected and are expected to shed light on the cosmic evolution of black holes.
  • Blazars constitute roughly half of the gamma-ray sources detected by Fermi’s Large Area Telescope (LAT).
  • Astronomers think their high-energy emissions are powered by matter heated and torn apart as it falls from a storage, or accretion, disk toward a supermassive black hole with a million or more times the sun’s mass.
  • Two of the blazars that the team detected boast black holes of a billion solar masses or more.

About Blazars 

  • Blazars are among the brightest objects in the universe thanks to emissions powered by supersized black holes.
  • The most distant of the newly discovered blazars started to emit their light when the universe was just 1.4 billion years old.
  • Previously, the most distant blazars detected by Fermi emitted their light when the universe was about 2.1 billion years old.
  • Blazars are similar to all active galaxies, acquiring energy from matter falling toward a central supermassive black hole.
  • A small part of this infalling material becomes redirected into a pair of particle jets, which blast outward in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light.


CRISPR Variant Produces Tuberculosis-Resistant Cows


  • A team of researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Northwest A&F University in Shaanxi, China, has successfully utilized an innovative form of the genome-editing technique CRISPR to insert a new gene into the cow genome, rendering the animals much more resistant to tuberculosis.  

What is CRISPR-Cas9?

  • CRISPR-Cas9 is a genome editing tool that is creating a buzz in the science world. It is faster, cheaper and more accurate than previous techniques of editing DNA and has a wide range of potential applications.

How does it work?

The CRISPR-Cas9 system consists of two key molecules that introduce a change (mutation?) into the DNA.

These are:

  1. an enzyme? called Cas9. This acts as a pair of ‘molecular scissors’ that can cut the two strands of DNA at a specific location in the genome so that bits of DNA can then be added or removed.
  2. a piece of RNA? called  guide RNA (gRNA). This consists of a small piece of pre-designed RNA sequence (about 20 bases long) located within a longer RNA scaffold. The scaffold part binds to DNA and the pre-designed sequence ‘guides’ Cas9 to the right part of the genome. This makes sure that the Cas9 enzyme cuts at the right point in the genome.

What are the applications and implications?

  • CRISPR-Cas9 has a lot of potential as a tool for treating a range of medical conditions that have a genetic component, includingcancer?, hepatitis B or even high cholesterol. 
  • Many of the proposed applications involve editing the genomes ofsomatic? (non-reproductive) cells but there has been a lot of interest in and debate about the potential to edit germline?(reproductive) cells.
  • Because any changes made in germline cells will be passed on from generation to generation it has important ethical implications. 
  • Carrying out gene editing in germline cells is currently illegal in the UK and most other countries. 
  • By contrast, the use of CRISPR-Cas9 and other gene editing technologies in somatic cells is uncontroversial. Indeed they have already been used to treat human disease on a small number of exceptional and/or life-threatening cases.

Indian children died after ‘eating lychees on empty stomach’

  • Lychees contain toxins that inhibit the body’s ability to produce glucose, which affected young children whose blood sugar levels were already low because they were not eating dinner.
  • They woke screaming in the night before suffering convulsions and losing consciousness as they suffered acute swelling of the brain.
  • Researchers examining sick children admitted to hospital in Muzaffarpur between May and July 2014 found a link to an outbreak of sickness that caused brain swelling and convulsions in children in the Caribbean.
  • That outbreak was caused by the ackee fruit, which contained hypoglycin, a toxin that prevents the body from making glucose. Tests then showed that lychees also contained 
  • This led health officials to tell parents to make sure young children got an evening meal and limit the number of lychees they were eating.

Children suffering symptoms associated with the outbreak should be rapidly treated for hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar

New technology to make data transfer 10 times faster than 5G

  • Scientists have developed a next generation system which can transmit digital data over 10 times faster than 5G mobile networks, an advance that will pave the way for faster downloads and improve in-flight network connection speeds.
  • Researchers have announced the development of a terahertz (THz) transmitter capable of transmitting digital data at a rate exceeding 100 gigabits per second over a single channel using the 300-gigahertz band.
  • The THz band is a new and vast frequency resource expected to be used for future ultrahigh-speed wireless communications. The research group has developed a transmitter that achieves a communication speed of 105 gigabits per second using the frequency range from 290 GHz to 315 GHz.
  • This range of frequencies are currently unallocated but fall within the frequency range from 275 GHz to 450 GHz.
  • Terahertz could offer ultrahigh-speed links to satellites, which can only be wireless. That could, in turn, significantly boost in-flight network connection speeds.
  • Other possible applications include fast download from contents servers to mobile devices and ultrafast wireless links between base stations.
  • Another, completely new possibility offered by terahertz wireless is high-data-rate minimum-latency communications.


Cyber Swachhta Kendra:

Extending the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign to the cyber world, the government has launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra–Botnet Cleaning and Malware Analysis Centre for analysis of malware and botnets that affect networks and systems.

  • This is a part of MeitY’s Digital India initiative aimed at creating a secure cyber space by detecting botnet infections in India and to notify, enable cleaning and securing systems of end-users to prevent further infections.
  • With the growth in digitalization and proliferation of broadband and mobile internet, security of end users’ systems is vital for enhancing their trust in ICT and online transactions.
  • User information from the computer and the mobile devices can be compromised if systems get affected with Bots.

Users therefore need to practice a rigid cyber hygiene regimen to prevent malware infections on their systems and to ensure security of their systems through suitable anti-malware tools.









Arctic vault receives new seed deposits

  • Nearly 10 years after a “doomsday” seed vault opened on an Arctic island, some 50,000 new samples from seed collections around the world, including India, have been deposited in the world’s largest repository built to safeguard against wars or natural disasters wiping out global food crops.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a gene bank built underground on the isolated island in a permafrost zone some 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole, was opened in 2008 as a master backup to the world’s other seed banks, in case their deposits are lost.

The latest specimens sent to the bank, located on the Svalbard archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, included more than 15,000 reconstituted samples from an international research centre that focuses on improving agriculture in dry zones.


Rare luminous nebula poses cosmic puzzle

  • Astronomers have spotted an enormous, glowing blob of gas in the distant universe, with no obvious source of power for the light it is emitting.
  • Enormous Lyman-alpha nebula” (ELAN), it is the brightest and among the largest of these rare objects, only a handful of which have been observed, the researchers said.
  • The newly discovered nebula was found at a distance of 10 billion light years in the middle of a region with an extraordinary concentration of galaxies.
  • Researchers found this massive overdensity of early galaxies, called a “protocluster,” through a novel survey project.

The newly discovered ELAN is known as MAMMOTH-1.

Scientists discover material that conducts electricity but no heat


  • Scientists have identified a metal that conducts electricity without conducting heat – an incredibly useful property which may pave the way for systems that convert waste heat from engines and appliances into electric power. According to researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and University of California, Berkeley in the US, electrons in vanadium dioxide can conduct electricity without conducting heat.
  • The findings could lead to a wide range of applications, such as thermoelectric systems that convert waste heat from engines and appliances into electricity, they said.
  • For most metals, the relationship between electrical and thermal conductivity is governed by the Wiedemann-Franz Law, which states that good conductors of electricity are also good conductors of heat. That is not the case for metallic vanadium dioxide, a material already noted for its unusual ability to switch from an insulator to a metal when it reaches 67 degrees Celsius.
  • The discovery is of fundamental importance to understand the basic electronic behaviour of novel conductors.
  • Using results from simulations and X-ray scattering experiments, researchers were able to tease out the proportion of thermal conductivity attributable to the vibration of the material’s crystal lattice, called phonons, and to the movement of electrons.
  • They found that the thermal conductivity attributed to the electrons is ten times smaller than what would be expected from the Wiedemann-Franz Law.
  • “For electrons, heat is a random motion.
  • Normal metals transport heat efficiently because there are so many different possible microscopic configurations that the individual electrons can jump between,”.
  • The amount of electricity and heat that vanadium dioxide can conduct is tunable by mixing it with other materials.
  • When the researchers doped single crystal vanadium dioxide samples with the metal tungsten, they lowered the phase transition temperature at which it becomes metallic.
  • At the same time, the electrons in the metallic phase became better heat conductors.
  • This enabled researchers to control the amount of heat that vanadium dioxide can dissipate by switching its phase from insulator to metal and vice versa, at tunable temperatures.
  • Such materials can be used to help scavenge or dissipate the heat in engines, or be developed into a window coating that improves the efficient use of energy in buildings, researchers said.

Scientists have created an origami shield to protect law officers

  • Scientists have created an origami-inspired, lightweight bulletproof shield that can protect law enforcement officials from gunfire.
  • The new barrier can be folded compactly when not in use, making it easier to transport and deploy.
  • When expanded – which takes only five seconds – it can provide cover for officers and stop bullets from several types of handguns.
  • Scientists wanted to create something that was compact, portable, lightweight and worked really well to protect law officers.
  • Working with law enforcement agencies, researchers learned much of what is currently used has not evolved much from medieval times: shields that are mostly flat, awkward plates that cover only one person.
  • Current barriers are so heavy and cumbersome they make it difficult for officers to move into position.
  • The barrier researchers designed is made of 12 layers of bulletproof Kevlar and weighs only 24 kg.
  • The barrier uses a Yoshimura origami crease pattern to expand around an officer, providing protection on the side in addition to protecting them in the front.
  • In testing, the barrier successfully stopped bullets from 9 mm, 0.357 Magnum and 0.44 Magnum pistols.
  • A 0.44 Magnum would actually tip it over, but that did not happen.
  • The barrier is very stable, even with large bullets hitting it.
  • Since Kevlar fabric is subject to fraying, abrasion and is sensitive to sunlight and water, the team also made a concentrated effort to reinforce it against the environment.
  • It goes from a very compact state that you can carry around in the trunk of a car to something one can take with them, open up and take cover behind to be safe from bullets.
  • Then one can easily fold it up and move it if you need to advance your position.

In addition to protecting police officers, researchers believe the barrier could be used to protect children in a school or a wounded person in an emergency situation.

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality

  • Scientists have created atomic metallic hydrogen which is the rarest material on the planet.
  • Hydrogen is squeezed at a pressure greater
    than the pressure at the centre of the earth.
  • At this extreme pressure solid molecular hydrogen breaks down and the tightly bound molecules dissociate to transform into atomic
    hydrogen, which is a metal.
  • The metallic hydrogen could act as a superconductor at room temperatures.
  • It can be used to increase the effectiveness of electric cars, energy production and storage, and transportation system by making
    magnetic levitation of high-speed trains possible, more effcient.
  • When metallic hydrogen is converted back
    to molecular hydrogen, the energy released during the process can be used as powerful rocket propellant and has high specific
    impulse among all other propellants.


NDMA prepares States to deal with Heat Wave 2017

National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

  • National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is an agency of the Ministry of Home Affairs whose primary purpose is to coordinate response to natural or man-made disasters and for capacity-building in disaster resiliency and crisis response.
  • NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India in December 2005.
  • The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairperson of NDMA. The agency is responsible for framing policies, laying down guidelines and best-practices and coordinating with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management

Heat wave:

  • A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. Heat Waves typically occur between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.
  • The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke.

Health Impacts of Heat Waves

The health impacts of Heat Waves typically involve dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke. The signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Heat Cramps: Ederna (swelling) and Syncope (Fainting) generally accompanied by fever below 39*C i.e.102*F.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps and sweating.
  • Heat Stoke: Body temperatures of 40*C i.e. 104*F or more along with delirium, seizures or coma.

This is a potential fatal condition

Reeling Under Encephalitis Outbreak:

  • The death of 19 Juang tribal children from acute malnutrition in inaccessible hamlets in the Nagada hills of Jajpur District and that of 60 undernourished children because of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) caused by Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in tribal dominated Malkangiri district is in news once again putting Odisha government in the dock.
  • Malkangiri ranks among few districts with lowest per capita income in Odisha and its share to Gross State Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the lowest.

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV) is a flavivirus related to dengue, yellow fever and West Nile Virus. It spreads through culex mosquito. The first case of JEV disease was documented in 1871 in Japan. JE is a public health problem in the South East Asian region and India. Its outbreak was reported for the first time in Rourkela, Odisha in 1989.

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