▼ This detector detects melamine in milk [09-30-16]
Detecting melamine in milk has become easy and cost efficient thanks to a handheld melamine detector developed by researchers at IISc Bangalore.
- Leaf extract of the weed parthenium along with silver nitrate is used for diagnosing the presence of melamine in milk
- Through change in colour, presence of melamine in milk can be detected at room temperature within a few seconds
- Sensor has sensitivity in detecting melamine to the extent of 0.5 ppm in raw milk
- Melamine content of 1 ppm/more in infant formula and more than 2.5 ppm in other milk products means it is adulterer
- Due to the presence of nitrogen, adding melamine to milk makes it look protein-rich.
- Prior to melamine detection, the milk undergoes processing to remove fat and proteins as they tend to interfere with detection.
- IISc team added silver nitrate and the leaf extract in a particular ratio and at a particular pH to the preprocessed milk to synthesise silver nanoparticles.
- The silver nanoparticles are reddish-yellow in the absence of melamine; they become nearly colourless when melamine is present.
- Light absorption at 414 nm wavelength is a signature of silver nanoparticles.
- When melamine is present, then the absorption of light is reduced as nanoparticle formation decreases.
▼ Skava - A modular and mobile first technology! [09-30-16]
Infosys on 28th Sept 2016 launched the Skava Commerce e-commerce platform
- It delivers engaging omnichannel experiences and provides a modern, mobile-first user technology
- Skava is a silicon valley based e-commerce startup acquired by Infosys
- The platform can bring brick and mortar retailers to launch new offerings, improve conversion rates and make large investments upfront
- It can integrate with existing technologies while providing a future-ready architecture that will enable next generation shopping experience leveraging AI and machine learning
- It also includes a responsive web store and native mobile shopping applications that can be managed by non-technical business users through web-based experience management tool SkavaSTUDIO
- For retailers creating their own platform, Skava has offered a source code license of its platform with the aim to accelerate retailer’s journey having full ownership through the source code license
▼ Seizures now predicted with epilepsy detecting wearable [09-30-16]
Epilepsy seizures are difficult to predict in advance so they are hard to diagnose.
- But now a group of French startups Dataiku and Bioserenity have created a wearable device to monitor patients at home in real time
- System is called neuronate
- It combines smart clothing equipped with biometric sensors, a mobile app that processes the data and a cloud platform called Medata, lab for analysing the data and sharing it with doctors.
- It also permits regular EEG recording providing neurologists with a chance to see what is happening in the brain of the patient
- Wearing a device like this generates a lot of data specifically 126 million measurements per hour resulting gigabyte of data for every device
- The cloud platform it runs on can cope with 10,000 of the devices running simultaneously up to 10 trillion daily measurements
▼ App store to get adverts for the first time [09-30-16]
First announced at Apple’s Worldwide Development Conference before being rolled out for beta testing, ads are coming to the Apple App Store from October 5
- Called Search Ads, these adverts work when the keyword is searched in the App Store search bar
- Depending on what you have searched for, ads for relevant apps appear on top of the search results
- As per Apple, over 65 percent of app downloads via the App store come from search results, so spending money to put your app on the top can be a money maker
- Setting up a search ad can be done in a few steps
- Developers retain complete control over how much money they wish to put behind the ad, the nature of the audience they are targeting and the insight into the numbers coming from placing the ad
- Small independent developers can now get their ad noticed by potential customers
- To ensure level playing field, those with larger marketing budgets cannot abuse the ad by targeting popular terms with app ads irrelevant to the user’s search.
- Relevance algorithm is being implemented for the sake of app store customers who won’t have to scroll down to see ads they actually asked for
- Apple has also put a content policy list advertisers must comply with before their app is featured
- Apple is allowing developers to set up their campaigns from now.
- US developers are being offered USD 100 credit towards their first use of the service
▼ Nanoparticle injections to cure Osteoarthritis! [09-30-16]
Injecting nanoparticles into a joint immediately after an injury may suppress inflammation, reduce the destruction of the cartilage and lower the risks associated with osteoarthritis, according to scientists.
Considering that there’s really no treatment and even when we inject steroids into the arthritic joint, the drug only remains for up to a few hours and then it’s cleared, this is a massive advancement
- Nanoparticles remain in the joint longer
- They also help prevent cartilage degeneration
- Osteoarthritic patients also suffer early injuries such as torn meniscus or anterior cruciate ligament injury
- Drugs such as ibuprofen are taken and the pain gets worse, as injections of steroids provide pain relief, but effects are short lived
- Nanoparticles were injected shortly after the injury and within 24 hours, nanoparticles were at work taming inflammation in the joint
- Unlike steroids which quickly clear, the nanoparticles remain in cartilage cells in joints for weeks
- Nanoparticles are 10 times smaller than RBC which helps them to penetrate deeply into tissues.
- Particles carry a peptide derived from natural protein melittin modified to enable it to bind a molecule called small interfering RNA (siRNA).
- siRNA then gets delivered by the melittin into the damaged joint, interfering with cell inflammation
- Nanoparticles were injected directly into the joint, and due to their size, they easily penetrate into the cartilage to enter injured cells
- Nanoparticles have previously been delivered through the bloodstream and inhibit inflammation in the model of rheumatoid arthritis
- In this study, they were locally injected into the joint and given the chance to penetrate the injured cartilage
- Nanoparticles, if given soon after joint injuries occur, could help maintain cartilage viability and prevent progression to osteoarthritis.
- Inflammatory molecule targeted not only causes problems after an injury, but it is also responsible for inflammation in advanced cases of osteoarthritis
▼ Have you heard of a three-parent baby? [09-29-16]
The world’s first three-parent baby was born in Mexico with the aid of a new fertility technique that uses DNA from three people.
- The baby is said to be healthy at 5 months of age
- The technique allows parents with rare genetic mutations to have healthy children
- Boy’s mother carries genes for Leigh syndrome, a fatal brain disorder
- The Jordanian couple had a daughter but she was born with Leigh Syndrome as was their second child
- The couple then sought out treatment at New Hope Fertility Centre in NYC
- Researcher John Zhang and his team used spindle nuclear transfer- removing the nucleus from one of the mother’s egg and inserting it into a donor egg which has its own nucleus removed
- Resulting egg- with nuclear DNA from mother and mitochondrial DNA from donor- was fertilised with the sperm of the father
- 5 embryos were created one of which developed normally and the baby was born in April 2016
- When researchers tested the boy’s mitochondria, they found that less than one percent carry the mutation; problems only start when 18 percent of the mitochondria is affected
▼ Jupiter’s Moon too has water vapour plumes! [09-29-16]
NASA scientists have found water vapour plumes on Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Europa will be the second moon in the solar system known to have water vapour plumes. In 2005, Cassini orbiter from NASA detected jets of water vapour and dust from Enceladus, a Saturnian moon.
- This latest discovery about Europa could give scientists fresh hope that a robotic spacecraft could fly past these potential plumes and learn about their contents without drilling into the icy shell of the moon
- Using UV images taken by Hubble, a space telescope launched in 1990, the plumes were seen on the southern edge of Europa and appear as dark fingers or patches of possible absorption
- This was spotted in 2014 first; finger-like projections were observed while viewing Europa’s limbs as the moon passed ahead of Jupiter
- Plumes are estimated to rise 125 miles or 200 km before, raining material into Europa’s surface
- Europa has a large global ocean that contains twice the water as against Earth’s oceans which are protected by cold and hard ice of unknown thickness
- Plumes provide an opportunity to gather samples originating from under the surface without landing or drilling through the ice.
- Earlier in 2012, a team led by Lorenz Roth of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, detected evidence of water vapour erupting from the frigid south polar region of Europa and reaching more than 100 miles (160 km) into space.
- Although both teams used Hubble's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph instrument, each used a totally independent method to arrive at the same conclusion.
- Now scientists will launch the infrared vision of the James Webb Space Telescope to confirm the venting activity on Europa
- Besides, NASA also has a mission to Europa on the cards with the payload confirming the presence of plumes and studying them from close range during multiple fly-bys.
- Hubble is a collaboration between NASA and ESA; the telescope is managed by the Greenbelt, Maryland unit of NASA
▼ India’s new species of ground dwelling lizard! [09-28-16]
A novel species of a ground-dwelling lizard has been discovered in Goregaon's Aarey Colony and Thane's Badlapur forested belts.
- The species has been named after a Bengaluru-based scientist Varad Giri and is found in Sanjay Gandhi National Park in north Mumbai, the Aarey Colony, a few localities in Nanded, Chandrapur and Amaravati districts and a few localities in Gujarat.
- Species was discovered 130 years after the last such gecko was found
- The species, of the genus Cyrtodactylus known in Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka, is a member of the subgenus Geckoella.
- Earlier, this new species was considered as Geckoella Collegalensis. However, based on morphological characters and DNA data, it has been described as a new species.
- This uncommon species is mostly seen moving among the leaf litter on the forest floor.
- Active during the night, they take refuge during the day under rocks and logs and grow to the length of 6 cm
- The new species are a widely distributed species in India- they live in human dominated landscapes
▼ India’s first Ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug [09-28-16]
Scientists at the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research were awarded for developing BGR-34, an Ayurvedic anti-diabetic drug
Senior principal scientists at CSIR said the drug has been found successful in controlling blood pressure.
- Developed around after 4 years of research at CSIR labs in Lucknow, drug was found to reduce a type of haemoglobin reflecting how well the body controls diabetes; this is called HbA1c
- Its levels reflect how well the body is controlling diabetes
- Studies on levels from 7.8 to 7.3 percent in diabetic patients given a daily dose of BGR-34 for 3 months showed that complications related to diabetes can be delayed by keeping this level below 7 percent
- Post prandial blood sugar levels reduced from 204 to 194 mg/dl
- In healthy adults, there should be less than 180 mg/dl of blood
- The drug not only controls diabetes, but also reduces the risk of co-morbidities such as hypertension and load on liver and kidney
- CSIR launched the drug late last year and it is available in pharmacies and online vendors like Amazon at the nominal cost of INR 5 per tablet
- The drug can be taken as a supplement along with allopathic medication
▼ Porichthys Notatus: The fish that sings! [09-27-16]
At San Francisco Bat, residents in houseboats are enchanted by the humming of the Porichthys Notatus, fish that sing.
- The strange singing is from male midshipman fishes while the female of the species only gruts
- What makes these noises are the swim bidders that seem like a kazoo chorus or a swarm of droning bees
- These fish only sing at night
- Researchers at Cornell University found that a possible reason why these fish sing at that time is because of the hormone melatonin
- Melatonin secretion is thought to help regulate body clocks, and also regulate the output of the neural networks in the brain to control distinct components of behaviour
- Depending on whether the species are nocturnal or diurnal, the hormone affects differently
- Scientists tested that midshipman fish sang at night and hen there was light, they never sang at all
- The scientists then fed them melatonin and this caused the singing to happen even during sunlight
▼ World’s largest single dish radio telescope by China to hunt for Aliens [09-27-16]
China on 25th September officially launched the 500m Aperture Spherical Telescope/ FAST in the mountainous region of Guizhou province.
- Telescope has been launched to hunt for extraterrestrial life and explore space
- FAST is a radio telescope located in Dawodang depression, a natural basin in Pinging County, Guizhou Province, SW China
- It comprises a fixed 500m dish constructed in a natural depression in the landscape
- This is the world’s largest filled single dish or aperture radio telescope
- It is the second largest radio telescope after Russian RATAN-600
- The final cost of the project is USD 180 million
- Construction on the FAST project began in 2011 and was completed in July 2016
- Chief scientist of this project is Nan Rendong
- It has a fixed primary reflector located in a natural hollow in the landscape, focusing radio waves on a receiver suspended 140m above it
- Reflector is composed of perforated aluminium panels supported by steel cables hanging from the rim
- Surface constitutes 4450 trinagular panels, 11 m on a side in the form of a geodesic dome
- It can point anywhere within +- 40 degrees from the zenith.
▼ World’s first zero emission train powered by hydrogen [09-26-16]
- Alstom launched the zero emission train powered by hydrogen at Innotrains Trade Fair
- The new train is CO2 emission free
- It is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell stored in a hydrogen fuel tank on the roof of the train
- Train produces water and steam as against GHG emissions and is less noisy than conventional trains
- The technology in the field of clean transportation will complete the Coradia range of regional trains according to Alstom CEO and Chairman H. Poupart Lafarge
- Hydrail technology has been developed for 25 years now, but the focus haas always only been on freight trains
- East Japan Railway Company ran its first test for the hydrail railcard in 2006
- Chinese company released the first hydrail tram
- But Coradia will be the first hydrogen passenger train to run long distances
- One full tank enables the new train to travel between 600-800 km
- Other German states have shown interest in the train, along with Denmark, Norway and The Netherlands
- The cost has not been revealed by Alstom yet
▼ Aliens may liken humans to bacteria warns Stephen Hawking’s Film [09-26-16]
- British physicist Stephen Hawking has warned against announcing the presence to alien civilisations, especially the more technologically advanced ones than humans
- Native Americans first encountered Christopher Columbus leading to their exodus, Hawking said in his new online film
- The film, "Stephen Hawking's Favourite Places", takes viewers to five significant locations across the cosmos, on his spacecraft - the SS Hawking.
- The film has Hawking performing a hypothetical flyby of Gliese 832-c a potentially habitable exoplanet located 16 light years away
- He cautioned humans against answering back to the call of aliens saying "They will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”
- Launching the Breakthrough Listen Project where Hawking aims to scan nearest million stars for signs of life, he indicated that any civilisation reading our messages would definitely be light years ahead of humans
▼ Ochotona sikimaria : A new rabbit mammal species from Sikkim [09-26-16]
- A new species of a small mammal in the rabbit family has been discovered in higher altitudes of the Himalayas in Sikkim, according to the study which has held that it is an important part of the ecosystem
- Called Ochotona sikimaria, the new pika species was found based on a study measuring genetic data and skull measurements
- Study has been published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
- Members of the rabbit family belonging to this species are tailless and have been in news in N. America where climate change and rising temperatures are driving them to extinction
- The Sikkim Pika was compared to its close relatives before the new species was discovered
- Pikas are the most fascinating mammalian species and they do not hibernate
- They prepare for winter by collecting and storing hay piles for winter food
- Their vulnerability to increasing global temperatures needs to be further studied
- New species appears limited to Sikkim
- National Centre for Biological Sciences has searched for the species in Ladakh, Spiti, Arunachal Pradesh and Central Nepal without success
- Surveys in Bhutan, Nepal and China are also to be carried out to see if this Pika species can be found there
- Study also included morphological and ecological data of the species
- The Sikkim Pika is very different from the Moupin pika from the genetic and ecological perspective
- Discordance between genetics and morphology of pikas has never been reported before to this extent
▼ 1st BRICS Scientists Conclave held in Sept 2016 in India [09-26-16]
Department of Science and Technology, GoI, under the BRICS framework is hosting a 5 day event where a group of 50 scientists and researchers from BRICS nations will meet in Bengaluru from 26-30th Sept 2016.
- It will be organised and coordinated by National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru
- Meet would provide a platform for engaging, connecting and networking among young scientists for a solution driven approach
- Participants will be drawn from science, engineering and allied disciplines
- Focus of the conclave will be on three topics or themes: Computational Intelligence, Energy Solutions and Affordable Healthcare
- BRICS young Scientists conclave takes centerstage during India’s chairmanship of BRICS in 2016 under the focal theme of “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions
- Event will be organised under the BRICS Young Scientist Forum
- It was initiated at the 2nd BRICS Science, Technology and Innovation Ministerial Meeting at Brasilia in March 2015
- Respective science and technology & innovation ministries of BRICS countries are the leading coordinating organisations for the firm on co-investment and co-ownership basis
- Conclave aims at building a BRICS Innovation Corps which individually or collectively has specialised capability to work on scientific innovations and technological solutions to accelerate change through better quality of life and higher incomes for citizens of the region
- This will pave the way for the creation of strong generation of science and technology leadership that can accelerate change collectively.
Some of the topics to be covered by the Conclave include:
- Interdisciplinary Science for Society and Humanity,
- A Scientific Identity for BRICS,
- Traditional Science and Indigenous Knowledge and Science,
- Technology and Social Equity,
- A session on ‘Talent Hunt’ is also being organised under which about 15 ideas shall be presented on 3 identified themes of the Conclave.
Two reports will be released during the Conclave, namely
- “BRICS Science and Technology Enterprise Partnership”
- The second report titled “Hampi: Splendours of a World Heritage Site”
▼ Mystery behind the origin of X-rays revealed! [09-26-16]
NASA funded sounding rocket has been used to study the origins of X-rays in the universe. It has also helped scientists to reveal a new mystery- the origins of an entire group of X-rays that don’t come from a source that is known.
- Some of this invisible light that fills space takes the form of X-rays, the source of which has been widely contended over the past few decades
- DXL or Diffuse X-ray Emission from the Local Galaxy sounding rocket was launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in 2012 to study the source of certain X-rays observed near the earth
- In a recent study, DXL’s data confirms ideas about where the X-rays come from, strengthening the understanding of the early history of the solar neighbourhood.
- The two known sources of X-ray emission are the solar wind and the Local Hot Bubble.
- The latter is a theorised area of hot interstellar material surrounding the solar system.
- X-ray contribution from the solar wind change exchange is about 40 percent in the galactic plan and even less elsewhere
- Rest of the X-rays from the Local Hot Bubble have now been traced.
- DXL however measured high-energy X-rays could not possibly have come from solar wind or Local Hot Bubble
- At higher energies, the sources contribute less than a quarter of the X-ray emission so there’s an unknown source of X-rays in this energy range
- Scientists haves said that around 10 million years ago, the supernova exploded and ionised the gas of the Local Hot Bubble
- One supernova is not enough to create such a massive cavity and each temperatures so high, so it was probably two or three supernovae
- Identifying the X-ray contribution of the Local Hot Bubble creates a deeper understanding of the structure surrounding the solar system
- This helps to build better models of the interstellar material in the solar neighbourhood
▼ World’s largest solar power plant in Tamil Nadu [09-26-16]
Adani Green Energy (Tamil Nadu) Ltd, as part of the Adani Group has dedicated the world’s largest solar power plant of 648 MW to to the nation.
- It has been set up at Kamuthi in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu.
- The plant has been set up with an investment of around Rs 4,550 crore, a company.
It is part of the state government’s target to generate 3,000 MW in line with its new solar energy policy unveiled in 2012.
- The company sourced equipment and machinery from various parts of the world to set up the 648 MW capacity within a record time of 8 months.
The massive plant comprises of
i. 3,80, 000 foundations,
ii. 25,00,000 solar modules, 2
iii. 7,000 metric tonnes of structure,
iv. 576 inverters,
v. 154 transformers and
vi. 6,000 km of cables.
- The entire 648 MW is now connected to the Kamuthi 400 KV substation of Tantransco, becoming the world’s largest solar power plant in a single location.
▼ This planet orbits two stars in the system. [09-26-16]
OGLE-2007-BLG-349 which is located 8000 light years away was found to be orbiting two stars in the system.
- This planet is located at the centre of our galaxy. Planet orbits 483 million km from the stellar duo about the distance from the asteroid belt to the sun, according to a statement issued by NASA
- This planet completes an orbit around the stars roughly every seven years.
- Two red dwarf stars are 11 million miles apart or 14 times the diameter of the moon’s orbit around the earth
- Hubble observations represent the first time a three body system has been confirmed through gravitational microlensing technique
- Gravitational microlensing is when the gravity of the foreground star bends and amplifies the light of the background star that momentarily aligns with it
- Particular character of the light magnification can show clues about the manner of the foreground star and associated planets
- Objects were discovered in 2007 by an international collaboration of 5 different groups- group based observations uncovered a star and a planet but detailed analysis also found a third body astronomers could not identify
- Group based observations suggested a Saturn mass planet orbiting a close binary star pair or Saturn and earth mass planet orbiting a single star
- Sharpness of Hubble images provided evidence for the former.
- Hubble observations revealed that starlight from the foreground lens system was too faint to be a single star. It has brightness expected for closely orbiting red dwarf stars
- These stars are fainter and less massive than the sun.
- While NASA’s kepler probe discovered 10 other planets orbiting tight binary stars, these are all much closer to the stars than the one studied by Hubble.
▼ Ice cloud over Saturn’s largest moon discovered [09-23-16]
This ice cloud goes against everything that is known about the way clouds form on Titan.
- Located in Titan's stratosphere, the cloud is made of a compound of carbon and nitrogen known as dicyanoacetylene
- This is an ingredient in the chemical cocktail that colours the giant moon's hazy, brownish-orange atmosphere.
- What has puzzled scientists ever since is that they detected less than one percent of the dicyanoacetylene gas needed for the cloud to condense.
- Researchers found a large, high-altitude cloud made of the same frozen chemical. and when it comes to the vapour form of this chemical, CIRS reported that Titan's stratosphere is as dry as a desert.
- The puzzling appearance of the ice cloud seemingly out of thin air prompted the scientists to suggest that a different process than previously thought -- possibly similar to one seen over Earth's poles could be forming clouds on Saturn's moon Titan.
- Clouds made of chlorine bearing chemicals on earth called polar stratosphere clouds have a similar mechanism by which they work
▼ World’s First Head Transplant through Frankenstein Surgery [09-23-16]
Dr. Sergio Canavero is planning the world’s first head transplant by reanimating human corpses. In what is being called Frankenstein surgery, the Italian neurosurgeon is operating on Valery Spiridonov, a 30 year old Russian.
- Surgery’s name has an interesting story behind it- In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a man named Victor Frankenstein creates a monster using body parts from the morgue and electricity
- Dr Canavero is director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and his collaborators have framed plans to test if the spinal cord of the head can be connected to another body.
- They further framed plans to check if the experiment will stimulate nervous system in fresh corpses with electrical pulses.
- Surgery aims to cut the spinal cord of the head and then repair it after which magnetic or electrical stimulation will be used to activate and reanimate the nerves leading to further movements in the corpse
- The announcement follows an experiment where Dr. Canavero and his team conduced a surgery were they successfully reconnected the spinal cord of an injured dog
- A series of research papers explain how the dog was able to walk and wag its tail in three weeks after paralysis from the neck down
- The technique called GEMINI spinal cord fusion also works in humans to fuse the endings of the spinal cord together.
▼ World’s largest and most powerful rocket under process at NASA [09-23-16]
US Space Agency NSA is building the world’s largest and most powerful rocket in Michoud Assembly Facility in the United States. Called SLS or Space Launch System, the rocket will carry 2.3 million pounds of liquid, oxygen and liquid to fuel engines.
- It is being prepared for moon missions in 2018 and other Mars and deep space explorations in the 2030s
- To power the Mars rocket, core stage carried 2.3 million pounds of liquid hydrogen and oxygen to fuel the 4 RS-25 engines
- Engineers just completed welding the largest part of the core stage
- The 130 foot tall liquid hydrogen tank will provide fuel for the first SLS flight in 2018
- SLS rocket has been designed to support missions to the moon in 2018 and house large hardware like landers, habitats, and supplies needed to travel extensive distances to explore places like Mars and other deep space destinations.
- Michoud’s Vertical Assembly Centre is welding many of the main elements of the core stage including the forward skirt, the liquid oxygen tank, liquid hydrogen tank and the engine section. Core stage’s fifth element, the interbank which is bolted is also being constructed here
- Following this, each element within the rocket will undergo extensive testing
- The wet structures including elements that hold fuel or liquid oxygen and hydrogen will be put through proof tests to ensure manufacturing quality. Hydrostatically tested and filled with water, the liquid oxygen tank will undergo pneumatical testing.
- Once tested, all the structural elements are constructed to enable engineers to assemble the “brains” rocket, as it is called
- In the SLS’s core stage, 45 miles of wire cabling carry power and data in every element powering flight computers, cameras, sensors, avionics and other electronics housed in the dry structures.
- NASA’s thermal protection system provides the rocket its signature orange colour, but more importantly, it protects the core stage from the extreme temperatures encountered during launch and maintains the fuels’ extremely low temperatures.
- The liquid hydrogen is frozen to minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit and the liquid oxygen is chilled to minus 297 degrees.
- Once testing is finished, the core stage will head to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for its first flight with Orion.
▼ Google Allo to auto suggest personality based responses to chat! [09-22-16]
Google on 21st Sept 2016 emerged in the mobile messaging market with new AI powered messaging app called Allo.
- The app messages out popular rivals like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
- App’s reliance on predictive software created a warning that it could open up user data to law enforcement.
- App includes Google Assistant, an AI program making live suggestions during chat mode
- Google held that users can opt for a safer incognito mode if they wanted
- App adjusts to user’s style as an emoji or written response and has tools for customising chat messages including changing emoji size and sticker choice.
- The Google Assistant is basically a much smarter, more chatty version of Google Now
- Google Assistant can even help settle arguments in group chats and add to your conversation.
- Alongside the end-to-end-encrypted Incognito Mode, the Allo team talked about bold new message retention practices, storing messages only transiently rather than indefinitely.
- But with the release of the app, Google is backing off on some of those features
- The version of Allo will now store all non-incognito messages by default
- This marks a clear change from Google’s earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form.
- The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app.
- Users can also avoid the logging by using Allo’s Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement.
- Like Hangouts and Gmail, Allo messages will still be encrypted between the device and Google servers, and stored on servers using encryption that leaves the messages accessible to Google’s algorithms.
- According to Google, the change was made to improve Allo's smart reply feature, which generates suggested responses to a given conversation.
- Like most machine learning systems, the smart replies work better with more data.
- The decision will also have significant consequences for law enforcement access to Allo messages. By default, Allo messages will now be accessible to lawful requests, similar to message data in Gmail and Hangouts and locational data collected by Android
- Edward Snowden has warned people to stay away from Allo to prevent data from being tampered
- Google maintains that “we believe a warrant is required by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution" for access to private information in a Google account
- The messages might not be there if the user had previously deleted them, or if the conversations took place in Incognito Mode - but in most cases, they will be.
- That leaves Google with much less danger of the kind of legal showdown faced by Apple in the famous San Bernardino case.
▼ ISRO’s SCATSAT-1 to study Ocean and Weather! [09-22-16]
Indian Space Research Organisation has indicated it will launch SCATSAT-1 for ocean and weather related studied along with 7 co-passenger satellites into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit on September 26.
- PSLV on its 37th Flight will launch the satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
- The SCATSAT-1 will be placed into a 720 km Polar SSO and 2 University as well as 5 froreign satellites will be placed in the 670 km polar orbit
- This marks the first mission of PSLV launching its payloads into 2 different orbits
- PSLV-C35 will be launched marking the 15th flight of PSLV in XL configuration
- XL configuration is with the use of solid strap-on motors
▼ Marsquake to find out if red planet had life! [09-22-16]
Rocks formed by grinding together of rocks during earthquakes are rich in trapped hydrogen.
- Scientists are now saying Marsquake may produce enough hydrogen to support life
- Scientists from Yale studied rock formations in Outer Hebrides off Scotland
- Research found enough hydrogen is produced to support the growth of micro-organisms during active fails
- Animals and humans may get their energy from oxygen and sugar but bacteria can be generated through reactions involving hydrogen gas
- Marsquakes could produce enough hydrogen to support populations of microbes for short time periods
- This is just one part of the emerging picture of habitability of the Martian surface
- Best way to find evidence of life on Mars is to examine rocks and minerals formed underground along faults and fractures brought to the surface by erosion, scientists say
- NASA will measure Marsquakes in its latest science initiative
▼ New technique to identify sediments on Mars without crushing them [09-22-16]
Scientists at MIT-US have come up with a spectroscopic technique that would help the 2020 Mars Rover to identify sediments that are unaltered and maintain much of their original composition.
- Pristine samples permit scientists to identify signs of life on the red planet
- This new technique is based on an improved version of Raman spectroscopy
- Raman spectroscopy is a common, non-destructive process used by geologists to identify chemical composition of ancient rocks
- This is used to identify if the sample contains carbonaceous matter; presence of the same suggests sample may have signs of life
- With the new improved spectroscopy, scientists can estimate the ratio of hydrogen to carbon atoms in a sample
- Hydrogen can be used to determine if a sample is pristine or not
- In case it has low hydrogen, it may experience more heating altering the organic matter and losing hydrogen in the form of methane
- The Mars 2020 Rover will also be equipped with SHERLOC or Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals
- It will acquire Raman samples from Mars and determine if life existed on this planet
- The 2020 Mars Rover will be tasked to probe the region of the planet holding ancient microbial life
- Samples will contain rock and soil from the Martian surface
▼ Can this algorithm for identifying galaxy similarities cure cancer? [09-21-16]
A detailed and complex algorithm and technique used by Jet propulsion library/JPL of NASA identifies common cancer biomarkers through an algorithm initially developed to identify similarities between galaxies.
- The algorithm checks patterns in tissue samples to find common cancer biomarkers
- Partnership between space agency and Early Detection Research Network has revolutionised biomedical engineering and the partnership has been extended
- Algorithms have helped to discover six new FDA approved chemical and genetic signatures to eliminate cancer
- NASA press release has also said 9 signatures have been approved for clinical lab use in US
- EDRN was founded in 2000
- With standardisation in place, the algorithm can take varying types of data and information to look for patterns that could indicate cancer or other types of medical issues, similar to what NASA space ships do in space to identify celestial bodies.
- Galaxies have been analysed using a machine learning algorithm taught to recognise astrophysical commonalities- the same is being applied to cancer images
- On Sept. 6, 2016, JPL and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, renewed a research partnership through 2021, extending the development of data science that originated in space exploration and is now supporting new cancer discoveries.
- "As we develop more automated methods for detecting and classifying features in images, we see great opportunities for enhancing data discovery. We have examples where algorithms for detection of features in astronomy images have been transferred to biology and vice-versa.” the press release said
▼ Studies find 59 percent of India susceptible to earthquakes! [09-21-16]
A whopping 59 percent of India’s land area is vulnerable to moderate or severe earthquakes according to the latest seismic zone map released on 20th Sept.
- It also shows how out of 304 million households in the country, about 95 percent are vulnerable to earthquakes in different degrees
- Map will soon be accessible on mobile to assess how quake proof your home or office is
- Map has been prepared by National Disaster Management Authority and Building Materials and Technology Promotion Council
- Earthquake zoning maps provide details down to block level
- The maps are colour coded. Colour coding denotes the location in 5 different zones of earthquake intensity, Map shows the boundaries of the hazard zones of numerous intensities
- Maps also help district authorities to assess which regions can be impacted by intense hazard occurrences
- Information can be basis for formulating preventive action to reducing the impact of the hazard, installation of a warning system and formulating building be laws with seismic resistant features
- Earthquake zoning maps will help to state and central authorities to identify the districts most prone to severe disaster situation and those with multi hazard situations
- Mitigation measures will also be formed on the basis of the map
▼ How do blind people solve math problems? [09-21-16]
For the first time, researchers have found that people born without sight solve math problems using visual areas of the brain.
- Humans and animals have a basic number sense that many believe evolves from seeing the world and trying to quantify all the sights
- Neuroscientists have found that the brain network behind numerical reasoning is identical in blind and sighted people
- Researchers found visual cortex in blind people is highly involved in doing math, indicating that the human brain is more adaptable than previously thought
- Blind people may not see anything in their lives, but they have the same number network as people who can see
- Researchers also found the more complicated the math problem, the greater the activity in the visual cortex
- New finding contradicts recent research
- The visual cortex is now found to respond to everything from spoken language to mathematics problems
▼ Interesting - India’s first online interactive food and diet tool! [09-21-16]
Centre for Science and Environment launched the “Know Your Diet” interactive online food and diet tool available in English and Hindi.
- It is a Hindi version of the tool known as “Apna Ahar Janein”
- India needs a clear policy to help promote good food
- Tool is for benefiting anyone of 9 years or more who can access it from computers, tablets and smartphones
- Indians can use this tool for better policy and practices on promotion of good food
- Aimed at increasing the transitioning food habits and growing burden of diet related non communicable disease in the nation, the interactive tool focuses on critical themes like awareness on food labels and connection between food and health, balanced diet and consumption of foods and beverages which are packaged, non packaged and cooked outside the home been supported by expert inputs from doctors and nutritionists. However, it does not intend to replace in-person professional consultation.
- Tool is expected to help shape food related policies in India
- The tool comprises one main survey and six mini surveys that focus on different aspects of food and health, including sections like 'food labels and you', 'fruits you eat', 'vegetables you eat', 'beverages you drink' and 'household consumption’.
- The Good Food movement has also been launched by CSE
- “KNOW YOUR DIET is a first of its kind initiative to help people of India know about their food and dietary habits. We hope that it will ignite a ‘Good Food’ movement in our country,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE, while launching the tool
Know Your Diet interactive tool focuses on the following topics:
i. Food and health
ii. Food labels and you
iii. Fruits you eat
iv. Vegetables you eat
v. Beverages you drink
vi. Household consumption
- It also comprises a specifically designed ‘School Children Survey’.
▼ Barak-8, India’s most advanced surface-to-air missile successfully test fired [09-21-16]
India on 20th September 2016 successfully test-fired the most advanced surface-to-air missile Barak 8 off the Odisha coast.
- Long range nuclear capable ballistic missile was jointly developed with Israel
- It was launched from the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, Balasore
- The 4.5 m missile is around 3 tonnes and can carry a payload of 70 kgs
- It also includes a Multi-Functional Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar for detection, tracking and missile guidance
- Several other missiles jointly developed by India-Israel partnership were tested in 2016. Three medium range surface to air missiles were successfully test fired between June 30 and July 1.
- Tested missiles will be inducted in three armed services-army, navy and air force
- Indian Navy also successfully tested long range surface to air missile in late 2015 undertaken on the western seaboard by INS Kolkata
- DRDO was formed in 1958; this defence agency headquartered in New Delhi launched Barak 8
- DRDO was formed by a merger between Technical Development Establishment and Directorate of Technical Development and Production with the Defence Science Organisation under the administrative control of GoI’s Ministry of Defence
- DRDO is India’s largest and most diverse research organisation
▼ Supercomputer Param Ishan launched at IIT Guwahati [09-20-16]
State of the art supercomputer Param Ishan was launched at IIT Guwahati on 19th Sept by MHRD Union Minister Prakash Javadekar
Several technology areas will be positively affected through this supercomputer
- While some already have supercomputers, number of institutes with computer will rise and go up to 60 as government focuses on advancing infrastructure
- Param Ishan has a power of 250 teraflops
- It has a capacity of 300 terabytes
- Super computer augments research initiatives in institute and also creates right ecosystem for research
- It will be used in following areas
- Computational Chemistry,
- Computational Fluid Dynamics,
- Computational Electromagnetic,
- Civil Engineering Structures,
- Nano-block Self Assemble,
- Weather and Climate Modelling
- Seismic data processing
▼ Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism [09-20-16]
A new study has found that blood pressure level in the human body is controlled by carotid body- small organ the size of grain of rice located between two major arteries that provide blood to the brain
- Scientists at the University of Bristol have found that removing one carotid body from some patients with high blood pressure can provide immediate and sustained fall in blood pressure.
- This indicates that the carotid bodies appear to be a cause of high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.
- The fall in blood pressure was impressive more than medication for targeting the carotid body to treat hypertension
- Carotid bodies detect oxygen levels in the blood and when this falls, an alarm is raised by them to signal the brain to increase breathing and blood pressure
- High blood pressure treatment typically tackles the symptoms targeting the end organs such as the heart, kidneys and blood vessels, and not the causes, according to the researchers
- Patients responded to resection had raised carotid body activity. These patients breathed more at rest and produced exaggerated breathing responses when the oxygen level in their blood was lowered.
- WHO has identified hypertension as a single most important risk factor for disease and death.
▼ Electricity from the movements of Ocean is a reality in US now! [09-20-16]
Waters off the coast of Hawaii in the United States are powering electricity; the rise and fall of the waves is used to generate electricity.
- Current travels through an undersea cable for a mile to a military base where it is fed into Oahu’s power grid
- This is the first wave produced electricity to go online in the US
- Ocean’s endless motion has enough power to meet a quarter of American energy needs and dramatically lower the nation’s reliance on oil, coal and gas
- Navy has established a test site in Hawaii with hopes that technology can be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fuelling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel starved placed across the world
- Hawaii is a natural site for such technology and has powerful waves
- Island state also has the highest electricity costs in the nation due to heavy reliance on oil delivered by sea
- Hawaii has a legislative mandate to get 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2045
- US has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by one-third from 2005 levels by 2030 and many states are seeking to develop more renewable energy in coming decades
- The US could get 20-28 percent of energy needs from waves off the US coasts without harming marine preserves
- The US government and military have put in USD 334 million into marine energy research while Britain and the EU have invested more than USD 1 billion as per Marine Energy Council, a trade group
- European Marine Energy Centre in Scotland has 14 grid connected berths housing dozens of wave and tidal energy devices over past 13 years
- Wave Hub in England has several such births while China has also been testing sea units
▼ Black holes burp radiation after galaxy formation! [09-19-16]
For the first time, astronomers have documented the process through which radiation is expelled from black holes- holding the key to how galaxies are formed using the WISE telescope.
- The NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) telescope studied how supermassive black holes – concentrations of mass the size of hundreds of thousands or even millions of suns, with gravity so powerful even light cannot escape – exist in the centres of most galaxies.
- When an object is absorbed by a black hole, not all of the contents are consumed – instead it emits a vast “belch” of intense radiation,
- This is a blinding bright whip of energy known as a tidal disruption flare, which wipes out everything in its path.
- Using images from the WISE telescope, launched in 2009, which can measure the infrared emissions of cosmic dust, the US scientists have found at least three black holes surrounded by the radiation-charged cosmic dust
- Chinese have found another one.
- “This is the first time we have clearly seen the infrared light echoes from multiple tidal disruption events,” say researchers
- Belches create new stars and form the shape of the galaxy
- Scientists say this is how mechanics of process operated while the universe was first formed 14 billion years ago
▼ Ophiuchus - The 13th Zodiac Sign [09-19-16]
According to reports, NASA updated the horoscope database and for the first time in 2000 years, a new Zodiac sign has been recognised.
- About 3000 years ago, the Babylonians supposedly divided the zodiac into 12 equal parts according to the 12 month calendar based on phases of the moon where each month got a slice of Zodiac to itself.
- However, the groundbreaking blog post reveals that “even according to the Babylonians’ own ancient stories, there were 13 constellations in the zodiac.”
- The 13th constellation in question here, is known as Ophiuchus.
- Unable to accommodate the extra constellation into their lunar calendar, the Babylonians left it out.
- The post explains, “When the Babylonians first invented the 12 signs of zodiac, a birthday between about July 23 and August 22 meant being born under the constellation Leo. Now, 3,000 years later, the sky has shifted because Earth’s axis (North Pole) doesn’t point in quite the same direction.”
- “The constellations are different sizes and shapes, so the Sun spends different lengths of time lined up with each one. The line from Earth through the Sun points to Virgo for 45 days, but it points to Scorpius for only 7 days. To make a tidy match with their 12-month calendar, the Babylonians ignored the fact that the Sun actually moves through 13 constellations, not 12.”
- Sun also aligns with the benched Ophiuchus for about 18 days each year.
- So, for all those born in between November 29 and December 17, this is a new sign
- TIME magazine reported in 2011 says, Ophiuchus is a “snake-holder”. Ancient illustrations “portray some sort of heavily muscled person holding on with difficulty to a veritable anaconda in the sky.”
- The sign shares “traits with Imhotep, a 27th century BCE Egyptian doctor, and biblical Joseph.”
- Ophiuchus is also considered a healer or a doctor and symbolises the hunt for higher education and enlightenment. Well, these could be the basic traits of people under the new sign.
▼ 3D lung organoids for first time [09-19-16]
A team of researchers have discovered 3D lung organoids or lab grown lung like tissue to study lung diseases like COPD and Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
- The 3D dimensional drug has been created by coating tiny gel beads with lung-derived stem cells and allowing them to self-assemble into the shape of air sacs found in human lungs.
- "While we haven't built a fully functional lung, we have been able to take lung cells and place them in the correct geometrical spacing and pattern to mimic a human lung,” say the researchers
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic lung disease caused by scarring of the lungs making them thick and stiff and resulting in breathlessness
- When scientists take cells from people with this disorder and grow them on flat culture, the cells actually appear healthy!
- Inside each well of the organoid, the lung cells grew around the beads, which linked them and formed an evenly distributed three-dimensional pattern.
- To show that these tiny organoids mimicked the structure of actual lungs, the researchers compared the lab-grown tissues with real sections of human lung.
- Moreover, when the researchers added certain molecular factors to the 3D cultures, the lungs developed scars similar to those seen in the lungs of people who have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - something that could not be accomplished using 2D cultures of these cells.
▼ Interesting facts about Mormugao! [09-19-16]
A significant milestone in indigenous warship design and construction in India was attained with the launch of the most advanced guided missile destroyer Mormugao at the MDL dock in Mumbai
- This is the second ship of Project 15B and has a launch weigh of 2844 tonnes
- It was created through a partnership between MDL, India Navy, DRDO, OFB, BEL PSUs and private industry. In ensuring force levels are made to meet India’s national strategic objectives
- Project 15B featured cutting edge advanced technology and compares to the best ships of similar class anywhere in the world
- Ships have been indigenously designed by the Directorate of Naval Design
- Each ship spans 163 metres in length and 17.4 metres in beam and displaces 7300 tonnes
- Ship will be propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots
- P15B destroyers incorporate new design concepts for stealth, sea keeping, improved survivability and ship manoeuvrability
- Shore, sea and air targets can be tracked by the ship
- These ships can truly be classified as possessing a Network of Networks, as they are equipped with Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Ship Data Network (SDN), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Combat Management System (CMS).
- While control and monitoring of machinery and auxiliaries is achieved through the IPMS, power management is done using the APMS.
- The CMS performs threat evaluation and resource allocation based on the tactical picture compiled and ammunition available onboard. The SDN is the information highway on which data from all the sensors and weapons ride.
- The ship’s “fire power” consists of sophisticated weapons-sensor suite including vertically launched Surface to Air Missiles (SAM) and Surface-to-Surface Missiles (SSM) for long distance engagement of shore and sea based targets.
▼ Do you know? - Our genes store heart attack memory [09-19-16]
Memory of a heart attack gets stored in the genes through epigenetic changes, chemical modifications of DNA that turn genes off or on according to a study.
- CVDs or cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide- these are influenced by environmental and hereditary factors
- CVD includes diseases of heart and circulation including CHD, angina, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke
- Study examined epigenetic changes leading to the development of numerous diseases, in people who have had a previous heart attack
- During the heart attack, the signals of the body are activating certain genes- mechanism protects the tissue during the acute stages of the disease and restores the body after the heart attack- epigenetic changes are also associated with a heart attack- according to Asa Johansson, researcher at Sweden’s Uppsala University
- Results of the study show many epigenetic changes in individuals who experienced a heart attack
- This points to the possibility of understanding heart attacks in a complete clinical picture and revolutionising treatment.
▼ iPhone 7 and iPhone Plus - First Phones Without Headphone Jack Launched [09-17-16]
Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will be going on sale in the first week of September in Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UAE, UK, US and Virgin Islands.
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus is already sold out; the flagship model has been out of stocks for days now
- Bring more additions to the latest iPhone lineup, Apple ipHone 7 and 7 Plus have a design that is similar to iPhone 6.
- But that is where the similarity ends; iPhone 7 and 7 Plus also have tweaked antenna line and redesigned camera module for better protection of sapphire lens.
- Apple introduced two new colour variants- jet black and black.
- Apple is also eliminating the 16GB base variant in favour of the 32GB base storage.
- Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be available in 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB storage models.
- Apple is taking a leap forward in terms of mobile storage.
- Apple iPhone 7 features the same 4.7-inch 750 x 1334 pixel display seen on iPhone 6.
- But Apple says the displays are 25 per cent brighter than its predecessors and also support wide colour gamut for more much saturated colours like iPad Pro.
- Apple iPhone 7 is powered by an A10 Fusion chipset, which is claimed to be 40 per cent faster than the A9 chip.
- Technically, the A10 Fusion pairs four cores with two low power cores and two powerful cores. The low power cores kick in when the user is doing basic stuff like browsing, messaging, etc.
- Apple iPhone 7 also features a new 12MP rear camera with wider f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilisation
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus also features a 5.5-inch full HD display and is powered by the same A10 Fusion chipset.
- Apple A10 Fusion has already been marked as the most powerful mobile processor, reveals new benchmark.
- The iPhone 7 Plus also gets an updated dual 12MP rear camera with one wide angle lens and a telephoto lens.
- With iPhone 7 Plus, Apple is promising 2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom.
- Apple has confirmed the India pricing of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus even before the device becomes available on October 7.
- Apple iPhone 7 starts at Rs 60,000 for 32GB variant, Rs 70,000 for 128GB storage option and Rs 80,000 for the 128GB model.
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus has the same starting price of iPhone 6s Plus. Apple iPhone 7 Plus starts at Rs 72,000 and goes all the way up to Rs 92,000 for 256 GB version.
- iPhone 7 is the first iPhone from Apple not to come with a headphone jack.
- Instead, the iPhone 7 comes with an adapter that will allow users to plug in their wired headphones through the smartphone’s Lightning port.
- Apple announced new AirPods at its press event last week, which are wireless headphones designed to connect to the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch.
▼ Largest collection of preserved human brains in Belgium [09-17-16]
A collection in the psychiatric hospital of Duffel in north Belgium contains 3000 preserved/pickled brains, the largest such to date.
British neuropathologist John Corsellis collected and conserved the brains over 40 years between 1951 and the middle of the nineties
- The collection is now reached Duffel; it is the largest brain collection available.
- One of the main advantages of conducting research on brains from this era is that they are not impacted by certain medications that did not exist in that time.
- Illness in its purest form can now be investigated.
- Corsellis collection was kept in bell jars and Tupperware tubs in a musty psychiatric hospital in southeastern England, a collection taken from the mentally ill, epileptics, people with Alzheimer's and even boxers.
- The original Corsellis collection numbered around 8,500 but the Belgian doctors have mainly taken those that relate to depression and schizophrenia.
- Each preserved brain comes with its own medical file till the death of the patient.
- The brains could uncover new discoveries in biological psychiatry science.
- Brains are generally the most well protected organ in the human body and therefore difficult to get to.
- Research conducted on living patients is limited by technology, explains Morrens. MRI scans cannot identify, for example, what kind of proteins or enzymes are activated by illness.
▼ Is Harvest Moon in the US a Supermoon? [09-17-16]
17th Sept marks the special occasion for those with their eyes to the sky. This year’s harvest moon, the last full moon before the 2016 autumnal equinox on Sept 22, is slated to appear.
- Controversy has also erupted over whether this should be considered a supermoon
- The term supermoon was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle
- It is used to denote a moon which is within 90 percent of its closest orbit to the earth
- Both full moons and new moons can be considered super, though full ones appear slightly bigger than usual
- NASA astrophysicist Fred Espanek has considered supermoons on the basis of average from monthly projections of the moon’s orbit while Nolle’s is based on yearly means; so while this harvest moon is called a super moon by Espanek, it does not make it to Nolle’s list.
- Harvest moon is not a scientific term; it basically came from some cultures in the Northern Hemisphere because it was seen as a prelude to fall and marked the end of the growing season
- The first full moon after the autumn equinox is sometimes called hunter’s moon
- The moon will hit full swing at 3:05 PM EDT and marks the closet full moon to the autumnal equinox or the start of the northern autumn
- In Europe, Africa and Asia the moon will appear darker on account of a penumbral lunar eclipse beginning at 10:30 pm IST
- A video by Science Mission Directorate with NASA explains how folklore gave different names for different full moons
- For each full moon that comes once every month, there are 12 interesting names. These include snow moon, worm moon, strawberry moon and sprouting grass moon
- September full moon for its name from farmers working into the night when many crops ripen and having only the light of the moon to guide them.
- Throughout the year, the moon rises on an average about one hour late each day. When it is closest to the autumnal equinox (Sept 22 in northern hemisphere and March 20 in southern), as in the case of the harvest moon, the gap lessens to thirty minutes.
▼ Largest survey of stars carried out by ESA’s Gaia [09-16-16]
The largest ever survey of stars in the Milky Way was made public on 14th Sept, 2016.
- Data on 1142 million stars was gathered by Gaia a satellite launched by ESA in July 2014
- The release features the distances and motions across the sky for more than two million stars
- Gaia is currently a million km from earth
- It is scheduled to prepare a 3D map of a billion stars
- There are 100 billion stars in the Milky Way
- Gaia is at the forefront of astrometry
- Launched 1000 days ago, it began its scientific work in July 2014
- The first release encompasses 14 months of scanning the sky up to September 2015
- Satellite is working wel
- Transforming raw information into reliable data has been entrusted to a consortium of 450 scientists and engineers called the DPAC or Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium.
▼ Asteroid 2016 RBI comes within 40,000 km of earth [09-14-16]
The newly found asteroid came within 40,000 km of earth, less than one tenth of the moon;s distance from earth.
- The 7-16 metres wide asteroid was first spotted on September 5
- Scientists have predicted it was the closest an asteroid would come to earth for the next 50 years
- Asteroid 2016 RBI was discovered on Sept 5
- It was discovered using the 60-inch Cassegrain reflector telescope of the Catalina Sky Survey, located at the summit of Mount Lemmon in the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona - a project of NASA’S NEO Observations Program in collaboration with the University of Arizona.
- NASA is an independent agency of the US federal government responsible for space research and civilian space program
- NASA was established in 1958 by President Eisenhower with a aim to encourage peaceful application of space science
- The predecessor of NASA was NACA or National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
- New agency became operational in 1958
▼ World’s first driverless bus service in Lyon, France [09-13-16]
World’s first driverless bus service began carrying passengers in the first week of September 2016 in Lyon France
- Two electric minibuses at speed of 10 km per hour were used
- Buses include features like LIDAR radar technology and motion sensors to help avoid collisions
- Equipped with a range of detectors which help to track location, these can hold up to 15 passengers
- Bus is designed by French company Navya and electric busses were tested in several French cities and Switzerland before coming to Lyon
- LIDAR is a surveying technology that measures distance by illuminating a target with a laser light
- It’s an acronym of Light Detection and Ranging.
- It was created as a portmanteau of light and radar
- The technology is used to make high resolution maps applied in geography, geology, geomatics. archaeology and other topics
▼ Read a book without opening it! [09-13-16]
Researchers have described a prototype of the system which they tested on a stack of papers, one with each letter printed on it
- The system was able to identify letters on the top 9 sheets
- It was done with the help of terahertz radiation which is a band of electromagnetic radiation between microwaves and infrared light
- New system developed by researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech uses a standard terahertz camera to emit ultra short bursts of radiation and then measure how long it takes for the radiation to be reflected back
- Algorithm then gauges the distance to each of the individual pages of the book
- Terahertz radiation can be emitted in such short bursts that the distance it has travelled can be gauged from the difference between emission time and time at which reflected radiation returns to sensor
- This gives better depth resolution than ultrasound
- System cashes in on the fact that tiny air pockets about 20 micrometers deep are trapped between the pages of the book
- Difference in refractive index and degree to which they bend light between the air and the paper means that the boundary between the two will reflect terahertz radiation back to the detector
- Terahertz radiation can differentiate between ink and blank paper in manner that X-ray or ultrasound does not, offering much better depth resolution
- Terahertz radiation has been widely researched for use in security screening because different chemicals absorb different frequencies of terahertz radiation to different degrees yielding distinctive frequency signature for each.
▼ First sky train launched in China [09-12-16]
China’s high speed railway has completed 20,000 kms of track network in the nation, becoming the world’s longest bullet train network
- A high speed railway linking Zhengzhou in China’s Henan Province and Xuzhou in eastern Jiangsu opened on 10th September 2016
- With the operation of the newline, China’s high speed railway lines have exceeded 20,000 kms in total length which is the world’s longest
- 360 km line connects the high speed railways in the west with two major north-south lines cutting travel time between west and east
- Travel time between Shanghai and Xi’an is cut to six hours from nearby 11 hours
- Line has 9 stations and runs at 300 kph in the initial period
- China’s first sky train also came out of the assembly line in Nanjing city on 10th September
- China is the third country to develop this technology after Germany and Japan
- Sky trains are lower in cost and have top climbing and turning ability as well as higher wind resistance
- The elevated railway train was rolled out by Nanjing Puzhen Company Limited affiliated to China’s largest rolling stock manufacturer CRRC Corporation Limited
- Two compartments of this sky train can hold more than 200 passengers and when compared to subways and trams, they have lower costs and better returns
- Construction period of sky trains is hotter than that of subways
- Overhauled railway is driven by batteries which can last 4 hours at a time and recharged in only two minutes
▼ Parasitic flatworm named after President Obama [09-12-16]
US scientists have discovered a new species of parasitic flatworm that infects turtles in Malaysia.
- It has been named after US President Barack Obama as Baracktrema obamai,
- It is so unusual that it merits not only a new species designation, but its own genus, too.
- This marks the first time such an action has been taken for this group of turtle parasites in 21 years
- New species was discovered by Thomas Platt, an expert on turtle parasites who retired from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana State
- He said he was inspired by the President and named the creature after him because worms face incredible obstacles in completing their journey and must content with the immune system of the host in order to mature and reproduce
- Platt also conducted research that traced the family of his ancestors and that of the US President’s to a common ancestor
- Scientists hope this discovery will improve public health by adding to research on the related flatworm that causes schistomiasis, a disease affecting 10s of millions of people around the world which can be deadly
- The NSF funded research will also create awareness about the plight of freshwater turtles increasingly vulnerable to dwindling habitat and poaching across the world
▼ OSIRIS REx sets off to explore asteroid Bennu [09-12-16]
NASA has sent a spacecraft chasing after an unexplored asteroid in hopes that it may prevent humans from being destroyed.
- OSIRIS REx robotic hunter blasted off to asteroid Bennu
- It will scoop up bits of ancient pace rock which can reveal how life originated as well as whether there is life elsewhere
- Bennu goes past Earth once every 6 years and comes so close in 150 years that it hits us eventually
- Odds are one tenth of 1 percent, but this is still considerable
- The rock itself could not destroy earth; but it will cause huge destruction
- Scientists will be able to learn more about mysterious asteroids by studying Bennu
- The spacecraft’s 10 ft (3m) arm which touch down like a pogo stick on the surface for three to give seconds. Nitrogen gas would shoot out to stir up the surface and let loose particles be sucked into the device.
- This is called the gentle high give
- There are just 3 shots at this before nitrogen gas runs out the effort is abandoned
- Team opted for touch and go procedure instead of landing to increase chances of success
- OSIRIS REx was named by 12 year old Mike Puzio of Greensboro, NC
▼ World’s first robotic operation inside the eye [09-12-16]
UK surgeons have carried out the world’s first robotic operation within the eye, potentially revolutionising the manner in which vision conditions are treated. Procedure was carried out by surgeons at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital.
- Robotic eye surgery trial involves 12 patients facing operations with increasing complexity
- This marks innovation in eye surgery in the future
- Current technology with laser scanners and microscopes permits scientists to monitor retinal diseases at microscopic level
- With a robotic system, we cross the physiological limit of what the human hand can operate on and open up a whole new chapter of eye operations that currently cannot be performed
- This marks the first time the device has become available that achieves three dimensional precision required to operate within the human eye.
▼ North Korea conducts its fifth nuclear test [09-12-16]
North Korea has conducted its fifth nuclear test on September 9, 2016 setting off a blast more powerful than a bomb triggered in Hiroshima.
- The warhead can be mounted on a ballistic missile.
- Its most powerful explosion to date follows a test in January prompting the UN Security Council to impose tightened sanctions that increased North Korea’s isolation but failed to prevent it from accelerating weapons development.
- Both South Korea and the US have criticised the move
- China, once a major diplomatic ally of North Korea, said it was opposed to the test and urged Pyongyang to stop taking actions to worsen the situation
- North Korea which labels the South and the US as its main enemies indicated scientists and technicians carried out nuclear explosion test for judgement of the power of a nuclear warhead as per a report from the official KCNA news agency
- Claims of being able to miniaturise a nuclear warhead have not been independently verified
- N.Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate and the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile is worrisome for neighbouring countries South Korea and Japan.
- Standardisation of the nuclear warhead will enable DPRK to produce at will and as many as it wants a variety of smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear warheads of higher strike power
- Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada indicated Pyongyang regime’s advances in mobile ballistic technology posed a massive threat to Japan.
- North Korea’s nuclear test coincided with the anniversary of the 1948 foundation as a republic
- The continued testing despite sanctions presents a severe challenge to Obama in the final months of his presidency.
- It could become a factor in the US Presidential election in November
- Sanctions have already been imposed on everything possible so the policy is at an impasse
- Japan’s Abe indicated that a nuclear test could not be tolerated
- China’s environment ministry began emergency radiation monitoring along its borders with North Korea in NE China according to state television
- Highest estimates of seismic magnitude indicate this was the most powerful test conducted by N.Korea so far
▼ India free from Yaws, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus [09-9-16]
India is the first country to be officially acknowledged as yaws free.
- It received certificates from WHO declaring the country Yaws, Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus free
- Certificates were presented at the 69th Session of the WHO regional committee for south-east Asia region held in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
- The elimination of tetanus as a public health problem means that in India, the annual rate of maternal and neonatal tetanus is now less than 1 per 1000 live births.
- The health ministry aims at sustaining achievements by health systems providing immunisation coverage and best healthcare practices as well as effective surveillance system
- Newer vaccines such as Rotavirus Vaccine and Measles Rubella vaccine have kept India free from preventable deaths
- Yaws is a disease caused by Treponema pallidum subspecies pertenue.
- It is one of the first diseases targeted by WHO and UNICEF for eradication in the 1950s.
- The disease affects skin, bone and cartilage.
▼ Mechanism behind preterm births unlocked [09-9-16]
Indian researchers unlocked the mechanisms by which preterm birth occurs.
- This birth is between 28 to 32 weeks of gestation.
- At present India accounts for 35 percent of preterm births in the world- the highest burden across the globe
- Researchers found that gram positive Group B Streptococcus bacterial produced small balloons called membrane vesicles which contained toxins that destroy foetal and maternal cells.
- They also kill collagen that keep the cells together
- GBS bacteria are found in the human vagina- numbers can shoot up in some pregnant women
- The GBS bacteria has been associated with premature rupture of amniotic membrane and preterm birth
- Researchers found that toxins in the vesicles fragmented the collagen of the amniotic membraneFragmentation of the collagen leads to loss in elasticity and weakening of the amniotic membrane making it susceptible to rupture due to pressure from the growing foetus
- This leads to preterm birth
▼ Indian government launches Student Registration Module [09-9-16]
In the absence of data on Indian students studying abroad, Government of India has launched a registration module for them so that they can be reached in an emergency
- Student’s Registration Module has been started on madad.gov.in/ for Indian students studying abroad
- MEA has requested students to register themselves on this module as in case of emergency, the Embassy will be able to reach them
- US remains the top destination for Indian students studying abroad with latest official data saying they number over 194,000
- According to SEVIS by the Numbers, a quarterly report from the US SEVP or Student and Exchange Visitor Programme found that number of students from India studying in the US grew from 148,360 in March 2015 to 194,438 in March 2016 marking an increase of 31.1 percent
- There are nearly 1.2 million global students with vocational or academic status studying in the US
- SEVIS is part of the US ICE or Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations
- Data extracted from SEVIS on March 7, 2016 showed that international students enrolment in US schools rose by 6.2 percent as against March 2015
- 69 percent of all students who pursue mathematics and statistics coursework however, were from China
- 40 percent of international students studying in the US equalling 479,000 individuals were enrolled in STEM coursework
- Close to 417,000 international students from Asia pursued STEM studies in the US in 2016
- Among US schools, NYU, Columbia, Southern California, NE University and University of Illinois were ranked through 5 for schools with highest international student population.
- Close to 77 percent of all international students were from Asia
- Top 10 countries of citizenship for international students included India, China, and South Korea.
▼ HAL successfully tests LUH choppers [09-8-16]
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on 6th September 2016 successfully completed test flight of indigenous Light Utility Helicopter in Bengaluru
- During the test flight, the chopper remained air borne for 15 minutes
- LUH will replace the Chetak and Cheetah helicopters flown for over three decades
- HAL LUH is a 3 tonne helicopter constricted exclusively for Indian army and IAF.
- It is a single engine light helicopter powered by Sagran HE Ariden 1U engine
- Along with two pilots, the chopper can accommodate six passengers at sea level with load capacity reducing with altitude
- The engine of this helicopter delivers 750 kw of power permitting flight operations at the height of 6500m
- Limited series production will be done in Bengaluru and production will soon be ramped up to 60 choppers in a year
- In phase II, production will be ramped up and HAL intends to speed up flight testing of the LUH by distributing it over three prototypes
- HAL will obtain initial operational certification by 2017
▼ Formation of G-waves [09-8-16]
Gravitational waves are formed around 10 million years after two galaxies collide and the central black holes merge which is around 100 times faster than previously thought, according to a new study.
- Gravitational waves were detected for the first time earlier this year, a century after Albert Einstein predicted the phenomenon in his General Theory of Relativity
- It was not possible to predict the point at which g-waves are triggered and spread through space when galaxies merge before this
- International group of astrophysicists from Zurich University, Institute of Space Technology (Pakistan) and University of Heidelberg (Germany) and Chinese Academy of Sciences have made this calculation for the first time using extensive simulation
- Galaxies have supermassive black holes in the core, which has millions or billions of solar masses
- In a realistic simulation of the universe, merging of two roughly 3 billion year old galaxies lying relatively close to one another was simulated
- Assisted by supercomputers, researchers have calculated the time two central black holes with around 100 million solar masses needed to emit strong gravitational waves after galaxies collided
- Merging of the two black holes has triggered the first gravitational waves after 10 million years- around 100 times faster than previously assumed
- Simulation study conducted required an innovative computational approach with various numerical codes on different supercomputers
- In the process, each supercomputer was responsible for calculating a certain phase of the orbital convergence of two massive black holes and their parent galaxies
- Relations between orbits of the central black holes and the realistic structure of the parent galaxies was factored into the present stimulation
▼ ISRO to launch advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR [09-6-16]
ISRO is set to launch the GSLV-FO5 carrying advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR from the spaceport of Sriharikota on September 8.
- Previous launch by ISRO on Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle was GSLV-D6 carrying communication satellite GSAT-6
- GSLV-FO5 in its 10th flight would launch the 2211 kg advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR into Geostationary Transfer Orbit
- INSAT-3DR will prove numerous meteorological services to the nation
- GSLV FO5 was developed in which the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage will be carried on board for the fourth time during a GSLV flight
- GSLV-F05 is configured in three stages including CUS similar to earlier launches GSLV-D5 and D6 which placed GSAT-14 and 6 successfully earlier
▼ Chinese scientists convert sand into fertile soil [09-6-16]
Chinese scientists have converted sand into fertile soil using a new method which can be used to fight desertification.
- Researchers from Chongqing developed a paste of plant cellulose that when added to sand helps it to retain water, nutrients and air.
- A 1.6 hectare sandy plot in Ulan Buh Desert, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, north China has been transformed into fertile land, yielding rice, corn, tomatoes, watermelon and sunflowers after being treated with a new method.
- New method will turn desert areas into ideal habitat for plants
- Plants in the sandy test plot need about the same amount of water as those grown in regular soil, but required less fertiliser and bore higher yields according to estimates by experts.
- Since 2013, scientists have been experimenting with outdoor cultivation at two sites with areas of 550 and 420 square metres in Chongqing where scientists simulated desert landform conditions.
- According to scientists, plants have survived the heavy rains and temperature, marking the typical climate conditions in Chongqing.
- Crops including rice, corn, and potatoes flourished in the newly converted soil.
▼ Oldest fossils discovered in Greenland [09-2-16]
Scientists have discovered the oldest fossils in the world aged about 3.7 billions years which pushed back the previous record by 220 million years and captures the earliest history of the planet.
- The team discovered the 3.7 billion year old stromatolite fossils in the world’s oldest sedimentary rocks in Isua Greenstone Belt along the edge of Greenland’s ice cap
- Discovery of these fossils provide deep understanding of early diversity of life on Earth which could have implications for understanding Martian life forms.
- Fossils predate the previous oldest stromatolite fossils in Western Australia by 220 million years
- Discovery pushes back the fossil record to near the start of the Earth’s geographical record and points to evidence of life on earth very early in history
- Isua stromatolites which were exposed by recent melting of a perennial snow path were laid down in shallow sea providing the first evidence of environment in which early life grew
- For much of earth’s history, life was just single cells and stromatolite fossils are mounds of carbonate constructed by communities of microbes
- This indicates that 3.7 billion years ago, microbial life was already diverse
- Diversity shows life emerged within first few 100 million years of earth’s existence in keeping with biologist calculations showing great equity of life’s genetic code
- This discovery represents a new benchmark for the oldest preserved evidence of life on earth