Science & Technology - Current Affairs for August, 2016

Science & Technology Current Affairs for August, 2016

Month wise coverage of Science & Technology Current Affairs helps you improve your general knowledge and prepare for all competitive exams like IBPS, Bank PO, SBI PO, RRB, RBI, LIC, Specialist Officer, Clerk, SSC, UPSC, Railway etc. This section is updated daily with the most important events.

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▼ Orbitofrontal cortex carries out higher order thinking: Scientists   [08-30-16]

Scientists have found the brain region implicated in carrying out complex plans, learning how a setting or situation has changed since last seen

  • The area of the brain has been implicated in high order thinking
  • Findings refine the previous hypotheses since the region of the brain provides intellectual flexibility
  • It’s not just the flexibility area, it is your model of how the situation works
  • Knowing when to change that model- whether you are moving from zone to zone in a virtual safari or place to place in the habitats of their evolutionary predecessors would have given our ancestors an advantage over animals that behave by the same rules in all situations
  • There’s an adaptive advantage of having a brain that can say the world works differently in different situations but then you need to be able to figure out which area is relevant right now
  • That is what the orbitofrontal cortex is associated with

▼ China moves largest carrier rocket Long March 5 for space mission   [08-29-16]

China is moving its new largest carrier rocket which will be be used for lunar and Mars probes to its launch base in southern Hainan from northern China’s Tianjin Port.

  • Long March 5 rocket carrier by two special rocket carrying ships, Yuanwang 21 and Yuanwang 22 will arrive at Qinglan Port in Wrenching Hainan Province early next month.
  • As the country’s strongest carrier rocket, Long March 5 has a payload capacity of 25 tonnes in low Earth orbit and 14 tonnes in geostationary orbit.
  • The rocket is planned to carry the Chang’e 5 lunar probe in 2017 and will be used to launch China’s space station modules and Mars probes
  • It represents a landmark in the country’s carrier rocket upgrading and has expanded the diameter of the liquid fuel rockets to 5 metres from 3.35 metres and will improve space entering capabilities by 2.5 times.
  • Instead of highly toxic propellants, the rocket uses liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen and lox kerosene as fuel, making it eco friendly.
  • Its engines can produce a thrust of more than 1000 tonnes when taking off. It has taken the researchers 16 years to build the rocket after nearly 7000 tests
  • The rocket was developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation.
  • Completed in 2014 the Wenchang site, the court of its kind in China will form the launchpad for the mission
  • Being the closest site to the equator, Wenchang boasts many advantages when it comes to latitude
  • Satellites launched near the equator have a longer service life as they have shorter journey to make it to geostationary orbit and make fuel savings.

▼ ISRO’s first experimental mission Scramjet Engine successfully conducted   [08-29-16]

The first experimental mission of ISRO’s Scramjet Engine towards the realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System was successfully conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

  • Following a smooth countdown of 12 hours, the solid rocket booster carrying the Scramjet Engines lifted off at 6:00 am IST on 28th August 2016. The important flight events namely burnout of booster rocket stage, ignition of second stage solid rocket, functioning of Scramjet engines for 5 seconds followed by burnout of the second stage went exactly as planned.
  • Following a flight of 300 seconds, vehicle touched down in the Bay of Bengal approximately 320 km from Sriharikota.
  • The vehicle was successfully tracked during its light from the ground stations at Sriharikota.
  • With this flight, critical technologies such as ignition of air breathing engines at supersonic speed, holding the flame at supersonic speed, air intake mechanism and fuel injection systems have been successfully demonstrated.
  • Scramjet engine designed by ISRO uses hydrogen as fuel and the and O2 from the atmospheric air as the oxidiser.
  • The test conducted was a maiden short duration experimental test of the ISRO Scramjet engine with the hypersonic flight at Mach 6.
  • ISRO’s Advanced Technology vehicle which is an advanced sounding rocket was the solid rocket booster used for today’s test of Scramjet engines at supersonic conditions. ATV carrying Scramjet engines weighed 3277 kg at lift off.
  • ATV is a two stage spin stabiliser launcher with identical solid motors based on Rohini RH560 sounding rocket at the first as well as the second stage (booster and sustainer). Twin scramjet engines were mounted on the back of the second stage and once it was reached, desired conditions for engine startup necessary actions were initiated to ignite the Scramjet engines and they functioned for about 5 seconds.
  • Today’s AT flight operations were based on pre-programmed sequence.
  • Some of the technological challenges handled by ISRO during the development of the Scramjet engine include the design and development of hypersonic engine air intake, the supersonic combustor, development of materials withstanding very high temperature, computational tools to simulate hypersonic flow, ensuring performance and operability of the engine across a wide range of flight speeds, proper thermal management and ground testing of the engines.
  • India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of the Scramjet Engine. The successful technology demonstration of air breathing Scramjet Engine in flight by ISRO today is a modest yet important milestone in the endeavour to design and develop advanced air breathing engines including engines for ISRO future space transportation system.

▼ Transferring humans across spacecrafts will soon be a reality   [08-29-16]

ISRO is developing a technology for allowing humans to transfer from one vehicle or spacecraft to another in space.

  • The most immediate goal is permitting the refuelling of spacecraft to give them longer life and transfer other crucial systems to an existing spacecraft by transporting another to space.
  • Spacecraft docking will allow joining of two separate free flying space vehicles.
  • Another system called berthing will be used to transfer objects from one vehicle to another.
  • ISRO has confirmed the experiments on the technology are being done at the ISRO Space Application Centre.
  • Ground simulations are currently taking place and it will eventually be tried with two small spacecrafts launched for this purpose
  • It can also be used for orbit servicing of satellites as we operate a huge constellation of them.
  • An advantage such technology will provide ISRO is the ability to enhance lives of satellites by refuelling them.
  • India is yet to become a member of the international space station or have a human space programme in its immediate plan.

▼ Electropreneur Park at DU   [08-29-16]

Aiming to incubate 50 early stage startups and create at least 5 global companies over a period of 5 years, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has set up an Electropreneur Park at University of Delhi, South Campus

  • The park was inaugurated by the IT and electronics Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
  • Incubation has been set up through a consortium of the government, academia and industry represented by Software Technology Parks of India, Delhi University and India Electronics and Semiconductor Association.
  • Incubation centre already has on board six early stage startups with few more in the process of on-boarding
  • Startups under incubation were awarded admission certificates also
  • Initiatives like Made in India, Digital India and Design in India along with Startup India taken by GoI have injected fresh hopes in the Indian electronics system design and product development space.
  • The oncoming digital revolution can transform India into a vibrant economy.
  • Programs like Make in India, Skill India and Stand Up India will make a massive difference.
  • Entrepreneurs will invest in India and government of India has already set up fund to incentivise such initiatives.
Selected startups include:
  • Arogya Medtech Pvt. Ltd. - Cerebros®
  • Ceantra Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
  • Intutive Scientific Research & Evaluations Pvt. Ltd.
  • Resonant Electronics Pvt. Ltd.
  • Starbru Techsystems Pvt. Ltd.
  • Park will focus on IP creation and product development to result in increased domestic value addition and will witness the unique integration of academia, industry, government and other incubation ecosystem elements.
  • The platform will also boost research & development, innovation, entrepreneurship in the ESDM sector and assistance during prototyping, development and commercialisation for the products conceptualised at Electropreneur Park produced through the scheme for India and other growth markets.
  • Initiative will provide the selected entrepreneurs with state-of-the-art laboratories according to global standards, ESDM mentorship by industry veterans and academicians and facilities to the incubated companies such as taxation, legal, finance, accounting, patent search, training, interns, business counselling etc.
  • EP will also provide access to funding agencies to facilitate seed funding for the promising venture and ensure seamless transition from incubate to self sufficient electronics company.
  • Fuelled by the Ministry of Electronics & IT, Government of India, the Electropreneur Park is an incubation centre under PPP mode in the Electronic Systems Design and Manufacturing sector
  • Electropreneur Park will develop, promote, recruit, incubate, mentor and create breakthrough innovations in the ESDM sector.

▼ Google hires Airbnb executive Shaun Stewart   [08-29-16]

Alphabet Inc’s Google self driving car project has hired top executive from online vacation home rental marketplace Shaun Stewart.

  • He will be joining Google as director of the self driving car project
  • His role will be to commercialise Google’s self driving technology that has been developing more than 7 years and has seen an increased pace of activity over the past 12 months
  • Stewart’s hiring follows the departure of Chief Technical Office of the project, Chris Urmson
  • Urmson was the project’s team leader and chief public spokesman until former Hyundai executive John Karfcik was hired by Google as the CEO of the project in 2015
  • Urmson was the Google self driving car architect and he had predicated Google’s self driving technology would be ready for production by 2020 and indicates Google was actively seeking partners among global automakers.
  • Stewart is an experienced technology executive specialising in building and scaling businesses
  • He joined Google from Airbnb which was set up as a vacation rental business of the company
  • He was earlier CEO of Jetsetter, a company acquired by TripAdvisor
  • Recent hires for the project also include Kevin Vosen, project’s first general counsel and Tim Panandreou, former San Francisco city official and expert in transportation policy.
  • Over the past 12 months, Google has expanded to 4 cities
  • It has also signed a collaboration agreement with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to double the fleet of autonomous vehicles
  • The search engine major has also opened an engineering tech centre in Michigan
  • Google current has almost 60 test vehicles on the road and has driven 1.8 million miles autonomously

▼ nuTonomy gets world’s first self driving taxis   [08-26-16]

Autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy has rolled out the world’s first self driving taxis in Singapore.

  • Cab aggregator Uber plans to offer such rides in Pittsburgh.
  • Select members of the public can hail a free ride through smartphones in texts operated by nuTonomy
  • Multiple companies including Google and Volvo began testing self driving cars on public roads recently
  • But this startup is the first to offer rides to the public
  • NuTonomy is operating 6 cars currently and plans to have a fully driven taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018
  • Taxis now run only in 6.5 square kilometre business and residential district called one north.
  • Each car if fitted with six sets of detection system Lidar that uses lakers to operate like radar including one that spins constantly on the roof
  • There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights
  • This could reduce the amount of cars on the road.
  • nuTonomy is a 50 person startup with offices in Singapore and Massachusetts
  • It was formed in 2013 by Iagnemma and Emilio Frazzle
  • These MIT researchers were studying robotics and making autonomous cars for the US defence department
  • Company was the first to win approval from Singapore’s government to test self driving cars in one north
  • The startup also announced a research partnership with Singapore’s Land Transport Authority
  • Singapore is suited for self driving cars because of its suitable weather, adequate infrastructure and strict observance of traffic rules on the road
  • Singapore is a landlocked island with 5.4 million people living here
  • Auto supplier Delphi is also working on autonomous vehicle software for this nation
  • NuTonomy hopes to establish partnerships with automakers, tech companies, logistics firms and others

▼ Gymnothorax Indicus, a new species of eel discovered on West Bengal Coast   [08-23-16]

Scientists have discovered a new species of eel from the Northern Bay of Bengal.

  • The eel species called Gymnothorax Indicus from the West Bengal coast is likely to be called Indian unpatterned moray.
  • Discovery was published in international journal Zootaxia in August 2016.
  • The new eel species was discovered by scientists in Sankarpur fishing harbour in West Bengal’s Purba Medinipur district.
  • It was collected in a trawl net by fishermen in Northern Bay of Bengal around 70 km off the coast.
  • Freshly discovered species is slender bodied and one feet long.
  • This eel is edible.
  • This one foot long eel has 194 vertebrae.
  • When it is fresh the body is continuously pale brown without spots or patterns.
  • It also has a pale eye rim.

▼ Astronomers identify young star 30 times mass of sun which unveils star formation   [08-23-16]

A group of scientists have identified a young star located 11,000 light years away which provides deeper understanding of how massive stars in the universe are formed.

  • Young star already more than 30 times the mass of our Sun is in the process of gathering material from parent molecular cloud and may be more massive on reaching adulthood.
  • Average stars like the Solar System Sun formed over a few million years whereas massive stars formed in orders of magnitude faster around 100,000 years.
  • These massive stars also burn fuel more quickly resulting in shorter overall lifespan.
  • This makes them harder to catch when they are infants. Protostars identified by the research team reside in infrared dark cloud- a cold, dense region of space which is the ideal stellar nursery.
  • Using the Submilimetre Array in Hawaii and the Karl. G. Jansky Very Large Array in New Mexico, researchers were able to penetrate the cloud and see the stellar nursery.
  • The astronomers have identified a key stage in the birth of the very massive star and found these stars form in a similar way akin to smaller stars like Sun from a rotating disc of gas and dust.
  • Team was also able to determine the presence of a Keplerian disc which rates more quickly at the centre than the edge.
  • This type of rotation is also seen in the solar system- inner planets rotate around the sun more quickly than outer planets
  • Finding such a disc across a massive young star suggests they form in a manner similar to lower mass stars like the Sun.

▼ China launches first Tibetan language search engine Yongzin   [08-23-16]

China on 22nd August 2016 launched the first Tibetan language search engine that will serve as a unified portal for all Tibetan language websites. Search engine will serve as a unified portal for major Tibetan language websites in China.

  • Yongzin means “master” or “teacher” in the Tibetan language. It will also be a global major source for information in Tibetan online.
  • Search engine Yongzin has eight sections for images, videos, music, news, websites, encyclopedia, forums and literature.
  • Search engine will meet the growing needs of the Tibetan speaking population and facilitate Tibetan digital archives and database.
  • Project costs USD 8.7 million and is supported by the government. Work on the project began in April 2013
  • More than 150 people were hired for the project according to the search engine developers. People of Tibetan ethnicity made up 80 percent of the team
  • Popular search engines like Yahoo and Google enable searches in Tibetan but they mainly support searching with single characters
  • enables searches using words and phrases to yield more accurate results
  • Yongzin also leads to more web resources than competitors.
  • New function leads to more than 200 domestic Tibetan language websites in China.
  • It is expected to gain 1.2 million users in the initial stage.
  • Contents are also organised according to different local dialects such as Kamba, Amdo and U-Tsang.

▼ Scientists discover molecule targeting drug to promote easier organ transplants, develop laser from bacteria   [08-22-16]

Chinese scientists have discovered a small molecule that can regenerate the tissue and could make organ transplant much easier in the future.

  • Research was led by professors in Xiamen and Peking University.
  • The scientists have discovered a drug called XMU-MP-1 which can repair and regenerate the liver, skin and intestines.
  • Pills may do away for the need for operations for organ transplant or complex biomaterial and cell therapies.
  • A critical signalling molecule in the Hippo pathway which controls organ size is impacted by the drug.
  • XMU-MP-1 inhibits the activity of MST1/2 the central component of this pathway and promotes cell growth in four different mouse models of acute and chronic injuries.
  • This includes acetaminophen induced injury, a common cause of liver failure worldwide.
  • The Chinese have applied for the patent and are cooperating with pharma companies to produce the medicine.
  • Scientists have also developed laser from florescent jellyfish protein grown in bacteria.
  • These lasers have the potential to be fa more efficient and compact than conventional ones and could open up the research venues in quantum physics and optical computing according to researchers.
  • Breakthrough represents a major advance in polariton lasers.
  • By repurposing the fluorescent proteins revolutionising biomedical imaging and allowing scientists to monitor processes inside cells, team has created a pollution laser operating at room temperature powered by nanosecond pulses measuring a billionth of a second.
  • Picosecond pulses of suitable energy are 1000 times more difficult to make than nanosecond pulses so it simplifies making these pollution lasers quite significantly.
  • Scientists from University of Wurzburg and Dresden University of Technology in Germany genetically engineered e-coli bacterial to produce enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP).
  • Researchers filled optical micro cavities with this protein before subjecting them to optical pumping where nanosecond flashes of light are being used to bring the system up to the required energy to create laser light.
  • Once the threshold for polariton lasing has been reached, pumping resulted in conventional lasing.
  • This confirmed the first emission was due to polariton lasing

▼ Mobile app Tarang launched by Government of India   [08-22-16]

Union Minister of State (independent charge) for power, coal, new and renewable energy and mines Piyush Goyal on 17th August 2016 launched the TARANG mobile app and two web portals- e-Trans and DEEP e-bidding.

  • They were developed by Rural Electrification Corporation Transmission Projects Company Ltd, a subsidiary of REC Ltd
  • Initiatives were launched keeping in line with the Digital India initiative to promote transparency in the power sector.
  • TARANG stands for Transmission App for Real Time Monitoring and Growth.
  • It can also be utilised to monitor progress between and within states for transmission systems.
  • It helps the stakeholders- Ministry of Power, State Governments, all private sector transmission developers and PSUs like PGCIL for expeditious completion of projects.
  • Green Energy Corridors, a vital component of the renewable energy mission would also be monitored through TARANG to help meet ambitious targets in same on time.
  • This will improve ease, accountability and transparency and would boost confidence of investors in power transmission sector.
  • Better price discovery will benefit Indian power consumers.
  • E-trans was a site that was developed through the Regulated tariff mechanism and the Tariff Based Competitive Bidding Route.
  • It is a web platform for e-bidding and e-reverse auction for Tariff Based Competitive Bidding in transmission projects.
  • Till date, transmission sector providers have been participating in transmission bids through manual mode.
  • With e-trans, the interface will be electronic and on the lines of the coal sector, reverse auction is being launched in the transmission sector to facilitate better price discovery in transmission projects.

▼ MEA app launched provides common platform for over 170 Indian missions   [08-22-16]

Expanding digital presence, MEA has launched an app on 18th August 2016 providing a common platform to further public outreach.

  • App integrates websites and social media handles of over 170 Indian missions on a common platform to further public outreach
  • App developed in cooperation with social media giant Facebook has helped people to connect with Indian missions abroad and MEA through a range of social media platforms without having access to individual websites
  • App is a one stop shop to find social media handles, like Twitter and YouTube and websites of all Indian missions abroad
  • Facebook has made the app for free
  • Currently over 165 Indian missions and posts are on Twitter and 172 on FB with 124 having their websites and many having youtube channels
  • Facebook pages and Twitter handles of individual missions, people through the app can just tap on the map of the country and immediately social media platforms of the mission will appear on the screen
  • App hosted on Facebook pages of MEA and Indian diplomacy will help people in distress connect with the missions, without any hassles
  • MEA uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Plus, Instagram, Soundcloud and Flickr to reach out to people as part of its social media engagement.
  • Facebook has 100 million hours of video posted on it every day while number of average posts is 2.3 trillion
  • Facebook has over 155 million users in India

▼ BharatNet Project should have PPP model: TRAI   [08-19-16]

TRAI has indicated a public private partnership model for the ambitious BharatNet project, saying the arrangement will ensure maintenance and marketing of mega infrastructure.

  • TRAI Chairman RS Sharma made this announcement during a NASSCOM meet.
  • Government has proposed providing broadband connectivity to 2,50,000 village panchayats under the project.
  • PPP model would overcome difficulties in maintenance, marketing and usage of infrastructure for this project.
  • Without the PPP model over 1000000 panchayats only will be covered; wireless alone cannot solve the problem of data connectivity in India.
  • With respect to public Wi-Fi hotspots, TRAI has suggested Common Service Centres could be used as common hotspots for Wi-Fi connectivity.
  • BharatNet seeks to connect Indian households, particularly in the rural areas through broadband by 2017 forming the base of the Digital India programme.
  • At present BBNL or Bharat Broadband Network Ltd is handling the NOFN project executed by BSNL, Railtel and Power Grid.
  • PPP model that aligns private incentives with long term service delivery n a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer model of implementation should be the preferred means of implementation.
  • Concessionaire should be handed the task of deployment of NOFN and network infrastructure, according to the telecom regulator.

▼ Niku, a mysterious ice object orbits the Sun backwards   [08-19-16]

A mysterious 200 km wide chunk of ice discovered beyond Neptune’s orbit called Niku (which means rebellious in Chinese) has been discovered going around the sun in a backward direction and its orbit is titled by 110 degrees from the plane in which all planets stay.

  • The object has been discovered by an international team of researchers that discovered it through the Pan-STARRS-1(Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System 1 Survey)
  • Astronomers have discovered many objects such as these beyond the orbit of Neptune.
  • These objects are collectively called TNOs or Trans Neptunian Objects.
  • They orbit the sun at an average distance of 30 AU or 1.5 billion km.
  • Laws of physics dictate that when a planetary system like the Solar System forms, all bodies orbit in the same direction
  • But Niku is going clockwise meaning some unknown force is acting on it; orbit of Niku is unusual in that it is nearly perpendicular to the plane of the solar system. It is orbiting in the opposite direction of most solar system bodies
  • Scientists posit that undiscovered planet nine could be causing this but the team found the object too close to the rest of the solar system for its orbit to be effected by Planet Nine.

▼ China launched the world’s first quantum satellite   [08-18-16]

China launched the world’s first quantum satellite on 16th August according to state media; the aim was to harness the power of particle physics to build an unhackable system of encrypted communication.

  • Launch was from south-western Gobi Desert and comes at a time with countries like US and Japan also seeking to develop applications for the technology.
  • Satellite has been called Micius after a fifth century BC Chinese philosopher and scientists.
  • It will be used in experiments to prove the viability of quantum technology to communicate over massive distances.
  • Beijing has invested a lot in this research; China being the world’s second largest economy has pursued advanced scientific research in areas ranging from genetic manipulation to asteroid mining.
  • Meanwhile ISRO has begun the countdown for the launch of 20 satellites.
  • Research by China also seeks to study quantum entanglement, an unusual property of subatomic particles.
  • Term describes Albert Einstein’s description of how particles exert influence on each other at distances including ability of paired particles to mirror each other at speeds faster than light.
  • Unlike traditional secure communication systems, China’s proposed method uses photons to send the encryption keys needed to decode information.
  • Data contained in subatomic particle bursts is impossible to intercept; Why so? Because any attempt to tap them will cause them to self destruct letting users know their communication has been compromised.
  • Scientists have shown that this can be used to transmit information across as much as 300 km.
  • The satellite will also aim to send secure messages between Beijing and Urumqi and developing the new technology is a major goal for Beijing which included this in the recent 5 year plan.
  • Beijing had previously identified the development of quantum technology as a national priority.
  • China is also working on world’s first quantum computer which uses subatomic particles properties in processors to operate at speeds far higher than current technologies permit.

▼ India’s internet base to touch 730 million by 2020: NASSCOM   [08-18-16]

According to NASSCOM, web users in the country are expected to more than double to 730 million by 2020 as rural India adopts Internet in increasing numbers.

  • The NASSCOM report entitled The Future of Internet in India, compiled by NASSCOM and Akamai Technologies posits that the internet base in the country measured around 350 million towards 2015 end.
  • India has an internet user base next only to China.
  • According to the report, it will remain the fastest growing market.
  • The report also said that 75 percent of new internet users will be from rural areas.
  • A majority of the new users are going to consume data in local languages, according to the report.
  • India’s internet consumption has already exceeded US to become number two globally and internet will create more opportunities for the rural hinterland by 2020.
  • The present NASSCOM president is R Chandrashekhar.
  • NASSCOM report also says increasing internet usage is fuelling e-commerce, which accounts for two thirds of the total e-commerce market edging out travel.
  • As per the report, the overall e-commerce market in India was valued at USD 17 billion in 2015-2016.
  • By 2020, it is expected to reach USD 34 billion with 175 million individuals transacting online.
  • India will have around 702 million smartphone users by 2030; a majority will prefer mobile phones for shopping accounting for 70 percent of total online shopping.
  • Online travel bookings will also gain traction with 50 percent of the travel related transactions to be made online by 2020
  • A major beneficiary of internet growth is financial technology in the nation with the fintech market expected to grow 1.7 times between 2015-2020
  • NASSCOM also estimates funding in these startups in 2015 at USD 420 million, 10 times that of USD 40 million invested in 2014.

▼ Scientists observe Hawking radiation for the first time in a lab   [08-18-16]

Scientists who created a virtual black hole in a lab have claimed to observe the Hawking radiation predicted by English physicist Stephen Hawking more than 30 years ago.

  • According to the theory, some particles can escape black holes.
  • A virtual black hole was built in a lab by Jeff Steinhauer at the Israel Institute of Technology to prove Hawking’s theory that radiation emits from black holes was based on sound, not light.
  • The scientist observed the quantum effects of Hawking radiation in his lab as part of the virtual black hole.
  • If proven to be true, this marks the first time it has ever been achieved in a lab.
  • For many years, scientists held that nothing could escape from black holes, not even light.
  • In 1974, British physicist Stephen Hawking suggested particles called Hawking radiation could escape black holes.
  • According to him, if the particle and its antimatter appeared spontaneously at the edge of the black hole, one of the pair might be pulled into the black hole with the other escaping, taking some of the energy from the black hole with it.
  • This is a possible explanation why black holes grow smaller and eventually disappear.
  • But the paradox is that since such emissions are feeble, no one has been able to measure the Hawking radiation and scientists have been building virtual black holes in labs to test the theory.
  • The present experiment comprised an entangled pair of phonons sitting inside a bit of liquid that had been forced to move very fast and observed the action as one of the pair was pulled away while light moved faster than the speed of sound and the other escaped.
  • Fluid used was Bose-Einstein condensate of rubidium 87 atoms
  • After the experiment was repeated 4600 times, proof for the Hawking radiation came in the contention that the particles were entangled.

▼ Scientists develop new material to power wireless internet and provide efficient lighting   [08-17-16]

Scientists have developed a new material that provides efficient lighting and powers wireless internet with data speed of 2 GB per second

  • Researchers from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia developed the new nano crystalline material that makes white light out of blue light.
  • WiFi and Bluetooth are now week established technologies, but this VLC or visible light communication technology makes use of parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that are unregulated and potentially more energy efficient.
  • VLC also combines information transmission with illumination and display technologies.
  • Researchers created nanocrystals of cesium lead bromide roughly 8 nanometers in size using simple, cost effective solution based method that incorporated conventional nitride phosphor.
  • The scientists have also found a way to make transparent transistors and other essential components of electronic circuitry.
  • Indium tin oxide is the current material of choice for electronics as it combined optical transparency with electrical conductivity
  • Low cost alternative is transparent material Aluminium doped zinc oxide used for making transparent electrical circuitry..

▼ Computing giant announces world’s first supercomputer in a box   [08-17-16]

Computing group Nvidia has announced the world’s first supercomputer in a box- DGX-1.

  • It has 170 teraflops and the machine is designed to tackle deep learning and AI, research areas requiring computing power.
  • DGX-1 uses the company’s recently developed Pascal architecture which shows up in the supercomputer.
  • DGX-1 has eight Tesla GP100 GPUs with 16 gigabytes of memory.
  • The supercomputer also has 512 GB of RAM and four terabyte solid state hard drives.
  • Machine comes pre-loaded with an array of tools for developers namely Nvidia Cuda, a deep neutral network library that crated and designed said networks.
  • Alongside Cuda, an array of standard DNN frameworks including Caffee, Theano and Torch were introduced.
  • DNN networks allow computers to emulate the human mind to recognise things; DNNS can do everything from writing your mail to making the perfect music video.

▼ CFMRI identifies 74 species of fish and prawns for mariculture   [08-16-16]

To provide a flip to fish conservation and production, Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute/CFMRI visage has identified 74 species of fish and prawns endemic to Indian waters suitable for mariculture or breeding in captivity.

  • With fish production rising marginally in the past 5 years and demand exceeding supply, need for mariculture is there.
  • As certain species are becoming extinct and their numbers have dwindled, mariculture for conservation would also be taken up for 15 species.
  • Average production or catch from the wild or sea has risen by 3-4 percent according to the estimates of the research institute in the past 5 years.
  • Production can only be done through mariculture or captive breeding in ponds, creeks, estuaries, near shore water and more.
  • Marine fauna and flora for conservation mariculture include sea horse, sea urchins, sea cucumber, sea anemone and sea grass.

▼ Scientists discover earth like exoplanet orbiting Proxima Centauri   [08-16-16]

Scientists will unveil a new planet in the galactic neighbourhood said to be Earth like and capable of supporting life. The exoplanet orbits a well investigated star Proxima Centauri part of the Alpha Centauri star system according to NASA.

  • This still nameless exoplanet is believed to be Earth like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface, an important requirement for life.

▼ BARC and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology sign MoU   [08-16-16]

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, Thiruvananthapuram have signed an MoU to develop Deep Brain Stimulator/DBS.

  • DBS is currently being imported limiting its wider usage to high cost.
  • Planned joint development is targeted to provide an alternative that is affordable.
  • DBS involves implanting electrodes within certain brain areas and regular electrical pulses generated by pacemaker like device placed under the skin in upper chest regulates abnormal impulses of the brain.
  • It is used in neurological conditions of essential tremor, dystonia and Parkinson’s Disease.
  • DBS comprises implanted pulse generator, electrodes and extension cable which interface with external programmer modules and wireless battery chargers.
  • As per the MoU, BARC will develop the device as per specifications provided by SCTIMST and the latter will manage clinical trials, testing and qualifications.
  • Electronics Division Reactor Control Division and Centre for Design & Manufacture of the BARC will participate in developing various subsystems.

▼ Twin galaxies Pisces A and B give birth to stars: NASA   [08-16-16]

Two tiny galaxies drafted in cosmic wilderness for billions of years before they started giving birth to new stars which made them visible from the earth.

  • Hubble observations suggest that galaxies called Pisces A and B spent most of their existence in Local Void, a region of the universe sparsely populated with galaxies.
  • Local Void is 150 million light years across.
  • Then they moved to give birth to the stars. In a gas rich environment, star birth may have been triggered by gas raining down on the galaxies as they plow through the denser region.
  • Dwarf galaxies are building blocks from which larger galaxies were formed billions of years ago in the early universe, inhabiting a sparse desert of empty space for most of the history of the universe, these galaxies were less active than they are today.
  • Pisces A is about 19 million light years from Earth and Pisces B is 30 million light years away.
  • Each galaxy contains 20-30 bright blue stars, indicating they are very young less than 100 million years old.
  • Less than 100 million years ago, the galaxies doubled their star formation pace.

▼ Hadrosaur discovered in Inner Mongolia unearths clues for research   [08-16-16]

A rare well preserved hadrosaur also known as duck billed dinosaur has been unearthed in Inner Mongolia autonomous region and expected to be of massive value regarding how the species has evolved.

  • More than 90 percent of bones of animal were intact including the head,cervical, limbs, vertebrae and a tail bone.
  • This is the most complete dinosaur fossil unearthed in Inner Mongolia in 20 years.
  • Fossil was discovered in 2012 in Urad Back Banner in NW part of the region.
  • Chinese researchers say that the fossil structure of the hadrosaur was about 8 meters long, one meter wide and 5 meters tall.
  • Archeologists have found fossils of other plants and living organisms in the Rehe area.

▼ TMT may be set up in Hanle, Ladakh   [08-12-16]

Hanle in Ladakh has been located as an alternate site for the 30 metre telescope

  • Original site was Mauna Kea in the US which got stalled due to an SC order
  • India’s participation has been jointly funded in the TMT project by DAE and DST

▼ China launches first SAR satellite Gaofen-3   [08-12-16]

China on 10th August 2016 launched the Gaofen-3 satellite, China’s first synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province

  • Gaofen-3 is a high resolution satellite
  • It seeks to resolve maritime disputes simmering in the wake of the South China sea issue
  • This is also China’s first low orbit remote sensing satellite
  • It has a lifespan of 8 years and will also be used for disaster warning and weather forecasting
  • It was developed by China Academy of Space Technology and Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology

▼ NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered liquid hydrocarbons on Saturn’s Moon Titan   [08-12-16]

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has discovered steep sided canyons 100s of meters deep on Saturn’s moon Titan that are flooded with liquid hydrocarbons

  • This presents first evidence of liquid filled channels on Titan
  • It also represented the first observation of the deep canyons on Titan
  • Observations show that channels including the Vid Flumina are narrow. less than a km wide and with steep slopes at 40 degrees and measured 240 to 570 m from top to bottom
  • Branching channels appear in radar images much like Titan’s methane rich seas
  • Channels might also be filled with liquid but direct detection has not been made till now; earth based examples of canyon caring processes are found along Arizona’s Colorado river

▼ NASA selects 6 US companies for deep space missions   [08-11-16]

NASA has selected six US companies to develop prototypes and concepts of deep space habitats for manned missions to Mars

  • Habitation systems provide a safe place for humans to live as the movement is beyond earth
  • Next human exploration capabilities needed apart from SLS rocket and Orion capsules are deep space, long duration habitation and in space propulsion
  • Selected companies are Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corp’s Space Systems and Nano Racks
  • The six companies will have 2 years to develop ground prototypes and conduct concept studies for deep space habitats

▼ Scientists discover compound called tetraaryl cyclobutane which stops prostrate cancer   [08-10-16]

Researchers have discovered a new compound that can block testosterone from fuelling the tumours growth in the androgen receptor thereby preventing prostrate cancer

  • This CB command is called tetraaryl cyclobutane and it is studied as a option for prostrate tumours that have growth resident to current androgen drugs namely enzalutamide
  • New compound is a competitive inhibitor of androgen receptors and structurally different from current anti-androgens such as enzalutamide
  • This is one of the CB compounds which inhibits mutant forms of androgen receptors that promote resistance to enzalutamide

▼ West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee launches web portal   [08-10-16]

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee launched a new web portal Edie Bangla to boost connectivity, information sharing with people and boost e-services

  • Previous portal Banglar Mukh was primarily an information oriented platform
  • The latest portal gives out updates of various departments of the state government and also enables availing of e-services.
  • From contracts and tenders to stats, all aspects of information can be accessed through this portal
  • Government is also expanding its presence on social media such as FB, Twitter and YouTube.

▼ Genome project for newborn babies launched in China   [08-9-16]

A genome project for newborn babies was launched in China on 7th August to aid early treatment and identification of genetic diseases

  • Jointly initiated by Chinese Board of Genetic Counseling and Children's Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, the project will carry out genetic testing on 100,000 newborns over the coming five years.
  • The findings will be gathered in a database and a genetic testing standard for hereditary diseases will be developed, which will improve the identification and treatment of inherited diseases.
  • Also, the Chinese Board of Genetic Counseling and Reproductive Hospital, which is affiliated with Shandong University, jointly launched China's embryo genome project.

▼ Southern India’s first Doppler weather radar inaugurated in Kerala   [08-9-16]

South India’s first Doppler weather radar providing advanced information about severe weather conditions such as storms and cyclones was inaugurated at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram Kerala

  • This is India’s second C-Band Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radar (C-DWR)
  • First was unveiled by PM Narendra Modi in Cherrapunji, Meghalaya, in May 2015.
  • Doppler weather radar is used for forecasting storms, cyclones and other severe weather conditions so that necessary preventative steps can be taken to protect lives and homes.

▼ China launches satellite for mobile telecom Tiantong-01   [08-9-16]

China on 6th August 2016 launched the first satellite for mobile telecom Tiantong-01.

  • This is a satellite launched from SW China’s Xinchang Satellite Launch Centre with the Long March 3B carrier rocket
  • More geostationary satellites will be sent into orbit for the system
  • This is the first satellite of the homemade satellite mobile telecom system of China and it is designed by China Academy of Space Technology.
  • It will be operated by China Telecom.
  • It will establish a mobile network with ground facilities, providing services for China, the Middle East, Africa and other areas.
  • It was the 232nd flight of the Long March series carrier rockets, and the 36th launch of the Long March-3B.
  • The three-stage Long March 3B rocket is currently the most powerful Chinese booster in service.

▼ Chinese scientists discover virus specific cells which deplete infection   [08-8-16]

Chinese scientists defined a subset of a type of virus specific cells that play a vital role in control of replication in chronic viral infection, forming the way for new methods to treat chronic diseases like HIV-AIDS and cancer

  • Virus specific cells CD8+T appear to deplete during chronic viral infection according to online research.
  • Cells will be able to control viral replication in both animal models and HIV infection, as per research findings.
  • Researchers have a unique subset that offer higher anti viral potential than previously know thus showing greater therapeutic potential.

▼ Scientists create high performance, micro scale solar cells   [08-8-16]

  • Scientists have created high performance, micro scale solar cells that outshine comparable devices powering personal devices such as wearable medical sensors, smartwatches and autofocusing contact lenses.
  • Large rooftop photovoltaic arrays generate electricity from charges moving vertically.
  • Small new cells developed capture current from charges moving laterally.
  • They generate more energy than sideways solar systems.

▼ DRDO flight tests MRSAM systems at ITR Chandipur   [08-8-16]

DRDO has recently flight tested 3 Medium Range Surface to Air Missile systems at Integrated Test Range, Chandipur during 30th June-July 1 2016

  • MRSAM can detect incoming enemy aircraft at 100 km distance and destroy them at ranges up to 70 k.

▼ NASA releases mobile game to launch Curiosity Rover’s 4th anniversary   [08-8-16]

To mark Curiosity Rover’s 4th anniversary since landing on Mars, NASA has launched a mobile game called Mars Rover where users can explore the terrain of the planet while balancing the rover and going through Mars.

  • In the previous four years, Curiosity has returned more than 128,000 images and fired its laser more than 362,000 times.
  • Curiosity landed inside the Mars Gale Crater on August 6, 2012.
  • The rover examined the ancient habitable environment of the Red Planet.

▼ Geologists discover Indian subcontinent was once part of Antarctica   [08-5-16]

Geologists have found evidence supporting the hypothesis that an Indian subcontinent was part of Antarctica a billion years ago but were separated and re-united several times due to tectonic movement of plates prior to the evolution of mankind.

  • Geologists from India and Switzerland researching on evolution of the earth’s crust studied ancient rocks of the continental crust of the Eastern Ghats and discovered important clues regarding the formation of continents.
  • This marks the first time researchers have been able to prove the hypothesis that a content of Antarctica and subcontinent India were once a single large continent breaking apart 1.5 billion years ago.
  • With the movement of the two continents against each other at one billion years ago to form an Eastern Ghats mountain belt, there was yet another collision in 600 million years where another mountain range was created.
  • Following this collision, the crust broke apart again separating India from Antarctica and there is a big ocean between the two land masses that combined several times in the history of the earth.

▼ Scientists identify 20 potentially habitable planets   [08-5-16]

Scientists have identified 20 potentially habitable Earth like rocky planets from the trove of 4000 exoplanets discovered by NASA’s Kepler Mission till date.

  • New research outlines 216 Kepler planets located within the habitable zone- area around a star where the planet’s surface can hold liquid water.
  • From these, 20 were identified as the best candidates to be habitable rocky planets like earth.
  • This is the complete catalogue of all Kepler discoveries in the habitable zone of their host stars.
  • This means one can focus on the planets and perform follow up studies to learn if they are indeed habitable
  • Boundaries of the habitable zone are critical in that if the planet is too close to its star, it will experience a runaway green house gas effect like Venus. In case it is too far, any water will freeze

▼ Federal Aviation Administration licenses private US company to launch spacecraft and land on moon   [08-5-16]

In what is the first move of its kind, the Federal Aviation Administration has given license to private US company Moon Express to launch a spacecraft and land on the moon in 2017.

  • Breakthrough US policy decision provides authorisation to Moon Express for a maiden flight of its robotic spacecraft onto the surface of the Moon according to a company media release.
  • No private space missions from earth have been allowed beyond its orbit and only state agencies have carried out outer space missions.
  • The company was founded in 2010 by Dr. Bob Richard. Naveen Jain and Dr. Barney Pell.
  • Moon Express 2017 mission approval is a landmark decision by the US government and is a pathfinder for private sector commercial missions beyond the orbit of Earth.
  • Federal interagency approval of the Moon Express 2017 lunar mission establishes an important precedent for the private sector to engage in peaceful space exploration.

▼ Chinese scientists to perform world’s first genetic editing trial on human beings   [08-4-16]

Scientists from China are set to perform the world’s first gene editing trial on human brings. The notion behind using this controversial technique on cancer patients at a hospital in Chengdu city, is to find a cure for lung cancer, scientists said.

  • Trial has received ethical permission from the hospital review board and marks the first step towards creation of genetically modified babies

▼ Jupiter moon Io most volcanically active object in the solar system    [08-4-16]

Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io has a thin atmosphere collapsing in the shadow of the planet condensing as ice says NASA funded research

  • This reveals the freezing effects of its shadow during the daily eclipses on the moon’s volcanic gases.
  • Io is the most volcanically active object in the solar system.
  • This is the first time scientists have observed this phenomenon increasing understanding of the geologically active moon.
  • Volcanoes are caused by tidal heating, the result of gravitation forces from Jupiter and other moons.
  • Forces can result in geological activity such as emission of umbrella like plumes of sulphur dioxide gas which can extend to 480 km above Io and produce extensive basaltic lava fields flowing for 100s of miles.
  • Io’s atmosphere is in constant state of collapse and repair and shows a large fraction of the atmosphere is supported by sublimation of So2 ice.

▼ Telecom and postal service users to now file complaints directly, Twitter Seva launched   [08-3-16]

Telecom and postal service users can now file complaints with the government directly on social media platform Twitter.

  • Communications Minister Manoj Sinha announced the Twitter Seva for registration and resolution of complaints.
  • Platform will also address grievances against private players.
  • People can use four commands to escalate their complaints. These are #DoTSewa, #BSNLSewa, #MTNLSewa, #PostalSewa.
  • Twitter Seva is free for government departments; subscribers will be added to the service to generate revenue through this.

▼ Solar impulse completes round the world trip   [08-2-16]

The first round the world solar powered trip was completed when Solar Impulse piloted by Bertrand Picard and Andre Borschberg landed in Abu Dhabi.

  • The voyage began from Abu Dhabi in March last year.
  • 17 stage journey covered 42,000 km taking in 4 continents, 3 seas and 2 oceans.

▼ Bennu, an asteroid coming towards earth has 1 in 2700 chances of hitting the planet   [08-2-16]

According to scientists, a near Earth asteroid coming towards the planet after being pulled apart by gravity can strike and cause massive destruction and has a 1 in 2700 chance of doing so.

  • According to scientists, this event will not take place for 150 years and in 2135, people on Earth will know if the asteroid can strike us.
  • The OSIRIS-REx Mission, headed by NASA and the University of Arizona, plan to launch an unmanned spacecraft on September 8 in the efforts to reach Bennu in August 2018.

▼ Scientists have designed world’s lightest electric paraglider trike   [08-2-16]

Scientists including that of Indian origin have designed and build the world’s lightest electric paraglider trike that can take off and land with wheels while carrying a pilot.

  • Aircraft has been called Delta and has two rear-mounted propellers, horizontally arranged, each driven by a motor and is powered by lithium polymer batteries.
  • It is the lightest aircraft that can take off and land with wheels while carrying an adult pilot and may provide a safe, clean and simple way to flying.
  • It was built by the National Geographic Channel and weights 49 kgs. It can carry one person up to 75 kgs.

▼ Scientists develop ultra thin and transparent oxide thin film transistors for flexible wearable display   [08-2-16]

Scientists have developed ultra-thin and transparent oxide thin film transistors for flexible wearable display.

  • The advent of the IoT era, strong demand has grown for wearable and transparent displays applied to various fields such as augmented reality and skin like thin flexible devices.
  • Previous flexible transparent displays have posed real challenges to overcome which involve poor transparency and low electrical performance.
  • Enhancing both transparency and performance, past research efforts have tried to use inorganic based electronics, but fundamental thermal instabilities of plastic substrates have hampered high temperature process, necessary for fabrication of high performance electronic devices.
  • Research team led by professors at a Korea University developed ultra thin and transparent oxide thin film transistors for active matrix backplane of flexible display through inorganic based laser lift off method.
  • Research team has fabricated high performance oxide TFT array on top of a sacrificial laser reactive substrate.

▼ Stamp breaks Guinness World Record for travelling the longest distance in space   [08-1-16]

  • A stamp was also sent to Pluto on the New Horizon’s spacecraft; it travelled 5,250,843,896 km becoming the stamp to travel longest distance ever in history.
  • Stamp earned the Guinness World Records title for the farthest distance travelled by the postage stamp.
  • The spacecraft was launched from the US on 19th January 2006 and arrived at Pluto on 14th July 2015.
  • Stamp was from a special series which showed the planets of the solar system and vessels that had explored them.
  • The Pluto: Not Yet Explored stamp on board the New Horizons Spacecraft will journey beyond Pluto visiting a Kuiper Belt Object called 2014MU69 considered a building block of the solar system.

▼ NASA’s Juno spacecraft to reach farthest point in Jupiter orbit   [08-1-16]

Following its departure from Earth 5 years ago, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will reach the farthest point in Jupiter’s orbit to understand the science behind the giant planet which has a mass of two and half times that of other planets in the solar system combined.

  • The orbit is called apojove.
  • It is 8.1 million km from the planet; After this point, the gravitational grip of the solar system’s largest planet on Juno will lead to the spacecraft falling back for another pass.
  • Launched on August 5, 2011, Juno arrived at Jupiter on July4, 2016 and is currently executing one of two long orbits prior to the science mission.
  • Capture orbit is when the science instruments of the spacecraft are turned off to simplify operations during flawless manoeuvre allowing Jupiter’s gravity to capture Juno into the first of two 53.4 day long orbits.
  • Following orbit capture, Juno will fire the engine once more to shorten its orbital period into 14 days and commence its science mission.

▼ Gullies on the surface of Mars not formed by flowing water   [08-1-16]

Gullies on the surface of Mars were not carved out by flowing water. according to US space agency NASA.

  • Gullies on the surface of Mars are similar to gullies found on the exterior parts of the Earth.
  • Gullies found on the Earth are carved out by flowing water.
  • There is no evidence of water being the cause of gullies found on the Martian surface
  • According to NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, gullies on Mars appear to light up in different shades
  • Martian gullies are a widespread and common feature on the planet as per observations by MRO High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment camera.
  • These slopes appear in both hemispheres and occur on slopes that face towards the pole.

▼ NASA forms agreement with Elon Musk’s SpaceX   [08-1-16]

US space agency NASA has ordered a second mission from space transport services company SpaceX to take astronauts to the International Space Station/ISS.

  • Commercial crew flights from Florida’s Space Coast to the International Space Station will restore American human spaceflight launch capacity and increase the time US crews can dedicate to scientific research while helping astronauts to prepare for deep space missions including the journey to Mars.
  • Under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability, this is the fourth and final guaranteed order NASA will be making.
  • SpaceX met the criteria for this latest award after completing interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Crew Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and associated ground systems.

▼ Researchers discover mutation in gene MSH3 which can lead to hereditary colon cancer    [08-1-16]

Scientists have discovered a mutation in a gene leading to a hereditary form of colon cancer not identified earlier.

  • Researchers have discovered genetic changes in the MSH3 gene in patients and identified a new form of colon cancer.
  • Formation of large number of polyps in the colon has high chances of being developed into colon cancer, if left untreated.
  • Colon polyps form mushroom shaped growths from the mucosa and are several millimetres to centimetres in size.
  • Though generally benign, they can turn into malignant tumours or colon cancer through polyposis.