Science & Technology Current
October 2011 Science and Technology
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October 2011

 Scientists identified a new biochemical mechanism, which allows brain tumours to survive and grow. This finding will pave the way for new and effective treatments for some of the most aggressive tumours. An international team, led by the University Hospital of Heidelberg made the discovery. Scientists identified the major role played by kynurenine, in favouring the brain tumour growth and at the same time suppressing anti-tumour immune response. Kynurenine is a by-product of metabolism of essential amino acid tryptophan. 

Astronomers discovered a mysterious little dwarf planet which is believed to be covered in ice. The planet was nicknamed Snow White. It orbits the Sun as part of the Kuiper belt (the ring of the icy body that orbit the Sun beyond Neptune). The planet is located outside Neptune. Officially known as 2007 OR10, it is actually red, half of its surface is covered by water ice that probably emitted from ancient cryovolcanoes. The planet is red because of the thin layer of the methane. Snow White had broken off long ago from another dwarf planet, called Haumea. 
The union government of India decided to ban the use of infertility drug Letrozole that is mainly recommended for treating Cancer patients. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a directive to ban the use of Letrozole completely with immediate effect. While banning the drug, the Ministry stated that harmful effects were found in the use of Letrozole. Letrozole is used worldwide for cancer patients but it was being used in India as an infertility drug for a long time. 
Australian Scientists created the world’s first drug that can prevent blindness from cataracts. At present, the only treatment available to prevent the blindness from cataracts is to remove surgically the affected eye lens and replace it with a synthetic lens. Cataracts are formed when a protein, known as calpain, clouds the eye lens and impairs vision. This is for the first time that a non-surgical cure for the debilitating condition was discovered.

 A study conducted jointly by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, University of Hong Kong and the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) found that Avahan successfully slowed the transmission of HIV among the general population. Avahan managed to slow down transmission of HIV by raising the coverage of prevention interventions in high-risk groups like female sex workers, their clients and partners, men who have sex with men (MSM), intravenous drug users and truck drivers. About 100, 000 fresh HIV cases among the general population were averted in India in five years by targeting the most vulnerable section. Avahan was launched in 2003 and received $258 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It complemented the government’s own efforts on HIV prevention. The programme was implemented in four large states — Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu and 2 small northeastern states of Manipur and Nagaland. These six states were estimated to have the highest HIV prevalence in India in 2003, and a total population of 300 million. 

The World`s cheapest tablet, Aakash was launched on 5 October 2011. Aakash is a part of the Indian Government`s National Mission on Education`s Sakshat Project. It is one of the main agendas of the Mission that aimed to link all higher education institutions in India. It is designed to revolutionize the education system in the country. Open source materials from IITs are to be created by Aakash. The government`s endeavour is to ensure that every student in any part India has access to technology and they can access lectures. The Indian Institute of Technology, Rajasthan, developed the software for the tablet indigenously. The device is seven-inch touch screen, equipped with Wi-Fi Internet, media player, 3 hours battery power and several other multimedia applications. This device is to be sold only through colleges and universities.

 INS Shakti, the second of the two fleet tankers built by Fincantieri Shipyard of Italy for the Indian navy, was commissioned on 8 October. Chief of Indian naval staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma, commissioned the vessel. INS Shakti is the third tanker by the same name, with the earlier two having served the nation with pride. The induction of Shakti into naval service would enhance the reach of the navy well beyond the limits of the Indian Ocean and provides support to the expanding fleet of the Indian Navy. The ship is one of the largest in the Indian Navy as it is 175 metres in length and 32 metres in width. The vessel displaces over 27,000 tonnes and is capable of carrying over 15,000 tonnes of liquid cargo including fuels for ships and aircraft of the navy as well as fresh water.

The world’s highest webcam was installed on Kala Patthar, a smaller mountain facing the Everest. It is a solar-powered camera and set at 18618 feet (5675 metres). The Web cam will send live images of Mount Everest back to scientists studying the effect of climate change on the planet’s tallest peak. Earlier, scientists had set up a webcam at the base camp of Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. The German surveillance firm Mobotix developed the device and the mountain research group, Giampietro Kohl of EV- K2-CNR, installed it.
The World Health Organization says the Ahvaz, Iran is the world`s most polluted city. In a new study, WHO says Ahvaz has the highest measured level of airborne particles small enough to cause serious health problems in humans. Ahvaz is a heavily industrialized city known for oil fields. WHO says cities in India, Pakistan, and Bostwana are also high on the list - and Mongolia is the world`s most polluted country overall. The city with the world`s cleanest air, according to the WHO, is Whitehorse; the capital of Canada`s Yukon province. WHO says air pollution is responsible for about 1.3 million premature deaths worldwide every year.