Science & Technology - 2017 AUGUST

August 1

Typhoon Haitang strikes China, two lakh people evacuated
Over 2 lakh people have been evacuated after Typhoon Haitang struck China’s eastern Fujian Province with incessant rain battering different parts of the region. Typhoon Haitang, the 10th typhoon in 2017, made landfall in Pingtung on the island of Taiwan.
Wind hit with a maximum speed of 18 meters per second, the tropical cyclone followed Typhoon Nesat which landed in the same city according to the provincial meteorological observatory.
The two typhoons brought heavy rainstorms to the province, with rainfall exceeding 50 mm in 64 counties, cities or districts over the past 24 hours. Maximum rainfall reached 172.4 mm at Yunshan Village of Yongtai County.

August 2

Curcumin: Chemical from turmeric treats cancer in children
A group of scientists in the U.S. discovered that curcumin, the bioactive component of turmeric, holds the power to treat cancer in children.
Researchers at Nemours Children’s Hospital and the University of Central Florida (UCF) found that nanoparticles loaded with curcumin can target and destroy neuroblastoma tumour cells.
In the study conducted by the researchers, curcumin was attached to cerium oxide nanoparticles and then tested the nano-curcumin formulation in cell lines of a high-risk form of neuroblastoma.
The report was published recently in Nanoscale.
As per the research, the nano-curcumin formulation induced substantial cell death in neuroblastoma cells while producing no or only minor toxicity in healthy cells.
The study demonstrates a treatment method “without the toxicity of agressive therapy” and shows that nanoparticles can be “an effective delivery vehicle” for cancer drugs.
Curcumin has been shown to have substantial anti-cancer ability; however, its low solubility and poor stability have restricted its use in therapeutic applications.

August 3

Indian Army develops Humraaz app for soldiers to track promotions, postings.
Mobile application humraaz was developed by the Indian Army. The purpose of this mobile app is to facilitate the army personnel.
With the help of Humaraaz, the soldiers can trace the real state of their posting and promotion. According to the media report, 'Humaraaz' will see the troops also be able to see their monthly salary slip and form 16 and download it whenever they need it.
This mobile app was developed by the Indian Army in the August 2017. This mobile app will provide the right to instant communication of information to junior commissioned officers and other personnel.
For security reasons, it is mandatory to perform a base verification for downloading an app in mobile.
After putting information related to the application into the app, it will be confirmed by the National Information Center with the database of the army. After this, the Army personnel will be given a one-time password, which will be able to run the application to register with their registered mobile number. Apart from this, it is mandatory for the user to use this mobile application to link with their mobile number base number

Israel launches first environmental research satellite Venus
Venus, the first Israeli satellite for environmental research was launched from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
The satellite is a joint effort by the Israel Space Agency and the French Space Agency (CNES). The satellite was built in Israel by the Israel Aerospace Industries.
Venus is considered the smallest satellite of its kind in the world. It is crafted to survey and monitor large areas to study soil, vegetation, forests, agriculture, water and air quality and other aspects of the environment.
It will circle the earth 29 times in each 48-hour period and will stay in commission for 4.5 years. The mini-satellite is equipped with a special camera that can visualize details on Earth that are not visible to the naked eye.
Venus satellite will help to obtain high-resolution photographs of specific sites to track environmental issues such as erosion, desertication, pollution, natural disasters, and other phenomena linked to climate change.

August 4

Sun’s Core rotates four times faster than its surface
A team of researchers have discovered solar seismic waves which revealed that Sun’s core is rotating four times faster than its surface. Earlier it was assumed that sun’s core rotate at same speed as the surface.
The discovery was made using 16 years of observations from GOLF (Global Oscillations at Low Frequency) instrument on Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft, a joint project of ESA and NASA.
Researchers had use ‘Helioseismology’ to probe the solar interior by studying sound waves reverberating through it. They had studied surface acoustic waves in the Sun’s atmosphere, some of which penetrate to the Sun’s core, where they interact with low frequency gravity waves (g-waves) known as g-modes that have a sloshing motion.
From those observations, they detected the sloshing motions of the solar core. By carefully measuring the acoustic waves, the researchers precisely determined the time it takes an acoustic wave to travel from the surface to the centre of the Sun and back again.
On the basis of the signature of the g-waves, researchers determined that the g-waves are shaking the structure of the sun’s core. The signature of the imprinted g-waves suggested that the inner core of the Sun is rotating, nearly four times faster than the observed surface and intermediate layers.

August 5

ISRO and CSIR-NPL sign MoU for time and frequency traceability services
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) and CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (NPL) signed Memorandum of understanding (MOU) to make indigenous regional position.
The MoU will help the NAVIC to get formally synchronized with the Indian Standard Time (IST) which is being maintained by the Delhi-based NPL Company.
Until now, the satellites on NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) managed by the ISRO relied on the US GPS to ensure that the clocks aboard.
The NPL is part of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CISR). It is the measurement standards laboratory of India.
NAVIC Formally called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is designed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary. NAVIC System consists of constellation of seven satellites (namely IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 1F and 1G) of which three are geostationary and four are non-geostationary.

August 6

NASA’s Curiosity rover marks 5 years of mars exploration
NASA’s Curiosity rover which found evidence that ancient Mars had the right conditions to support microbial life has marked five years of exploring the red planet.
Curiosity, which landed near Mount Sharp five years ago, is examining clues on that mountain about long—ago lakes on Mars.
The mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, exalted at radio confirmation and first images from Curiosity after the rover’s touchdown using a new “sky crane” landing method.
Transmissions at the speed of light took nearly 14 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, which that day was about 248 million kilometers apart.
Those first images included a view of Mount Sharp. The mission accomplished its main goal in less than a year, before reaching the mountain.
It determined that an ancient lake environment on this part of Mars offered the conditions needed for life — fresh water, other key chemical ingredients and an energy source.
On Mount Sharp since 2014, Curiosity has examined environments where both water and wind have left their marks.

Indian Navy band joins historic Edinburgh Military Tattoo
A 66-member Indian Navy band has joined the historic Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in the UK for 2017 musical event where they will mark the 70th year of India’s Independence.
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos performance of music by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands and artistic performance teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.
It was first staged in 1950 and since then British and international musicians and acts from over 50 countries have entertained audiences.
The Indian Band, appearing with an array of colourful dancers, comprises one officer and 65 musician sailors, performing under the baton of Commander Vijay Charles D’Cruz, Director of Music (Navy) and the principal conductor at the event.
More than 1,200 performers from around the world will take part in 2017 military musical extravaganza, with the Indian band invited to mark the 70th year of Indian independence and the India—UK Year of Culture.
The theme for 2017 is titled ‘Splash of Tartan’, celebrating Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

August 7

Astronomers found WASP-121b exoplanet with glowing water atmosphere
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the strongest evidence for a stratosphere on an enormous planet outside our solar system, WASP-121b.
The discovery shows that a common trait of most of the atmospheres in solar system, which is a warm stratosphere, can also be found in the atmospheres of exoplanets WASP-121b with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
The program has been awarded 800 hours to study and compare 20 different exoplanets, representing one of the largest time allocations for a single program in the entire 27 year history of Hubble.
Scientists had used spectroscopy in order to study the exoplanet’s stratosphere and to analyse how the planet’s brightness changed at different wavelengths of light.
The WASP-121b exoplanet is gas giant commonly referred to as a ‘hot Jupiter’. It has 1.2 times greater mass and 1.9 times greater radius than Jupiter. It is located approximately 900 light years from Earth. It orbits around its host star every 1.3 days in very close proximity.

IIT Delhi researchers develops new nanotechnology-based drug delivery system
An all-women team of researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has developed a new drug delivery platform using nanoparticles.
The nanotechnology-based drug delivery system has ability to boost the efficacy of antibiotics at the cellular level and improve chances of recovery from cancer-related bacterial infections.
In traditional drug delivery system, if the bacterial infection in cancer remains untreated, it can infect the host even after the cancer cells are killed by chemotherapy.
Similarly antibiotics used in most conventional therapeutics has several issues such as improper biodistribution, lack of target specificity, poor water solubility and loss of efficacy over time due to the emergence of drug resistance in pathogenic bacteria. Moreover, 50% of these antibodies prescribed to humans are either not needed or not effectively utilised as prescribed.
In the nanotechnology-based drug delivery system, a peptide called sushi-peptide was conjugated [bound] to gold nanoparticles. It was found that this peptide bound to gold nanoparticles was able to kill E. coli and Salmonella typhi bacteria more efficiently at lower dosages at much lower concentration than free peptides. The nanoconjugate was able to kill 50% of bacteria at much lower concentration (400 nM) while the free peptide’s antibacterial activity was not significant at the same concentration.

August 8

Two new species of Cycas discovered
Research conducted on a tree found in the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden in West Bengal the tree had, for years, been a puzzle to botanists and scientists has revealed two new species of Cycas to the world.
Cycas are one of the most ancient plants whose fossils date to the Jurassic period and are often referred to as “living fossils”. They have evolved on the earth as the first seeded plants and they grow very slowly, adding only a few centimetres every year. Nearly 65% of Cycas are threatened. There are over 100 species of Cycas found across the globe.
While initial studies on the lone tree revealed that it was Cycas, a gymnosperm, further research based on its morphological and anatomical characters led to the discovery of new species of Cycas pschannae and, later, Cycas dharmrajii in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The species were named after scientists Paramjit Singh Channa and Dharmraj S. Mishra.
This discovery takes the number of Cycas species found in the country to 14.

August 9

New species of non-toxic grass snake identified in Europe
Scientists have identified a new type of barred snakes, taking the number of European grass snakes species to four.
The grass snake is among the most common and widespread snakes in Europe - yet relatively little is known to date about the genetic identity of these non-toxic reptiles, which can reach a length of up to one metre.
The barred grass snake is widely distributed throughout Great Britain, Switzerland, Italy and France, and also occurs in the western part of Germany.
Researchers examined the genetic identity of more than 1,600 grass snakes – many of them scientific museum specimens.
Two “contact zones” of grass snakes were examined closely. One of the zones is located in the Rhine region, the other extends from Central Germany down to the southern Balkans.
The two contact zones examined in this study represent different stages in the speciation process.
The eastern contact zone reveals a complete mixing of the involved genetic lineages over hundreds of kilometres (km).

August 10

New ISRO to develop full-fledged Hyperspectral Imaging Earth observation satellite
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that it will soon launch a full-edged niche Earth Observation (EO) satellite using a critical chip that it has developed.
The chip is technically called an “optical imaging detector array.” The EO satellite will be called the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS). However, the ISRO also announced that no specific time frame is yet decided for the launch.
As per the ISRO, the Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite can see in 55 spectral or colour bands from 630 kilometres above ground
Hyperspectral imaging is said to be an EO trend that is being experimented globally. Adding a new dimension to plain-vanilla optical images, it can be used for a range of activities from monitoring the environment, crops, looking for oil and minerals all the way up to military surveillance.
Hyperspectral imaging collects and processes information from across the electromagnetic spectrum.
The goal of hyperspectral imaging is to obtain the spectrum for each pixel in the image of a scene, with the purpose of finding objects, identifying materials or detecting processes.
There are two general branches of spectral imagers. There are push broom scanners and the related whisk broom scanners, which read images over time, and snapshot hyperspectral imaging, which uses a staring array to generate an image in an instance.