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August 3rd week 2015 current affairs
Author : uppy
Category : Science & Technology Current
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August 3rd week 2015 current affairs

1) Russian tie-up to boost ISRO’s semicryogenic launcher plan.

  • The national space programme looks set to ride on a new thaw in the 40-year-old Indo Russian Space ties, as indicated by the just unveiled memorandum of understanding between the Indian Space Research Organisation and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS).
  • The MoU includes new areas such as navigation. India is building its regional fleet of navigation satellites; Russia is completing its GLONASS global navigation constellation on the lines of the U.S. GPS. The two expect to augment each other’s reference signals for sharpness through ground receivers.
  • The ISRO is working on its new-generation, Rs. 1,800 crore third rocket programme, called the semi-cryogenic launch vehicle, to beef up its current portfolio of the PSLV and the GSLV.
  • It will use space-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel and is meant to pitch spacecraft totally weighing six to ten tonnes to heights of 36,000 km.
  • This would be double the lifting power of the GSLV and triple that of the PSLV. Only the U.S. and Russia have this technology. 
2) Pluto may be geologically active.
  • Contrary to the grand old theory that Pluto is an inert mass made up of rock and ice water, data returned by NASA’s New Horizons mission hint that Pluto may well be geologically active.
  • Geological activity on Pluto has been proposed to explain how its atmosphere remains flush with nitrogen despite the gas escaping in huge quantities.
  • Based on initial data returned by New Horizons, it became clear that the surface of Pluto was not riddled with impact craters, and the dwarf planet had many smoothened surfaces. These indicated geological activity on its surface.
  • Nitrogen gas dominates Pluto’s atmosphere despite hundreds of tons of atmospheric nitrogen escaping into space every 60 minutes; the Sun’s ultraviolet light heats Pluto’s atmosphere causing the nitrogen gas to escape.

3) China successfully tests power system for largest space rocket.

  • China successfully tested the power system (engines) of its stated to be the largest space launch vehicle viz. Long March-5 carrier.
  • In the test engines of the rocket were successfully fired on the ground. This power system will be used in China’s ambitious Chang’e-5 lunar mission of 2017.
  • It should be noted that since 1970s, the Long March rocket family of China has completed more than 200 missions. China’s first satellite, Dong Fang Hong (the East is Red)-1 was successfully put into Earth orbit by Long March-1 on 24 April 1970 (after one failed attempt in November 1969).
  • About Long March-5 carrier:
  • Long March-5 has the carrying capacity twice of the payload compared to other present carriers of China.
  • It has payload capacity of 25 tonnes to low Earth orbits and 14 tonnes to geostationary transfer orbit. Thus, greatly increasing China’s ability to enter space with higher payload.
  • The launch vehicle uses non-toxic and non-polluting liquefied propellant with high trust generating capacity. 
4) Intel releases Stephen Hawking’s speech software for free.
  • Stephen Hawking’s speech system has been released by Intel to the public for free as an open source code.
  • The company is hoping that developers will use it and expand its application to a wider range of disabilities.
  • The Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit (ACAT) facilitates the use of computers by differently-abled users with very little movement and was developed to help Prof.
  • Hawking, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) communicate by translating his facial movements into text.
5) Google launches Wi-Fi router for home use.
  • Google Inc. launched a Wi-Fi router,the latest move in the company’s efforts to get ready for the connected home and draw more users to its services.
  • The cylinder-shaped router, named OnHub, can be pre-ordered for $199.99 at online retailers including the Google Store, Amazon.com Inc and Walmart.com.
  • The router comes with in-built antennas that will scan the airwaves to spot the fastest connection.
  • The router is being manufactured by network company TP-LINK. The router can be hooked up with Google’s On app, available on Android and iOS, to run network checks and keep track of bandwidth use among other things.

6) Scientists find way to take CO2 from Air and make Carbon nanofibres.

  • Scientists from United States have discovered a way to take carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air and convert it into valuable manufacturing material Carbon Nano Fibres (CNFs).
  • This method was discovered by team of researchers led by Prof Stuart Licht of Washington DC based George Washington University. They have developed a practical system.
  • CO2 from air is absorbed by this system and converted into carbon nanofibres (CNFs).
Working of the System:
  1. This solar-powered system runs on few volts of electricity. When electricity is passed through a tank filled with a hot, molten salt the atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the fluid in the tank.
  2. This absorbed CO2 is converted into tiny CNFs which are slowly deposited at one of the electrodes of the system. The small lab model of this system produces around 10 grams of nanofibres in an hour.
Carbon NanoFibers (CNFs):
  1. It is cylindric nanostructures with graphene layers arranged as stacked cones, cups or plates structure. It has high tensile strength, less distortions with changes in temperature and high electromagnetic shielding. Graphene layers of CNFs wrapped into perfect cylinders are called carbon nanotubes.
  2. They are already used in high-end applications such as electronic components and batteries. They are used as lightweight carbon composites materials in aircraft and car components. 
7) Nearly fully formed human brain grown in laboratory.
  • Scientists from United States (US) have successfully grown a replica of a human brain in a laboratory dish.
  • This medical breakthrough research was undertaken team of researchers from Ohio State University led by Professor Rene Anand.
  • The brain called ‘Organoid’ was created from reprogrammed skin cells. It is about the size of a pencil eraser.
  • In order to build the replica human brain, the research team had transformed adult skin cells by altering their genes into Induced Pluripotent Stem (IPS) cells.
  • This had resulted in artificial creation of stem cells which were then wheedled into developing different cell types and signalling circuitry of the brain including neurons and their signal-carrying projections, axons and dendrites along with blood circulation.
  • This artificially grown brain also contains support and immune cells.
8) Gene responsible for obesity in Indians identified.
  • For the first time, Indian researchers have been able to isolate a gene associated with obesity which is specific to the Indian population.
  • This is important, as identifying the genetic determinants of Body Mass Index (BMI) will go a long way in better understanding the biological basis of overweight and obesity.
  • The aim of a study undertaken by research team led by Dr. Kumarasamy Thangaraj of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) was to find a novel locus in Indian population.
  • To do that, they excluded the genes that have already been associated with obesity in other populations.
  • A total of 204 non-smoking subjects free of chronic diseases and belonging to different BMI categories underweight, normal and overweight and obese were chosen for the study. The subjects were 20-30 years old.
  • App for cardiovascular management shows promise.
  • Researchers have found a way to improve the quality of primary care and clinical outcomes cost-effectively by using a smart phone application for cardiovascular management program (SimCard).
  • A trial was conducted in India and China. The study, which is the first dual-country trial of its kind worldwide, was delivered by community health workers and is ideal in resource-constrained settings.
  • The trial carried out in 20 villages in Haryana, and 27 villages in Tibet used a mobile app that focussed on two lifestyle modifications (smoking cessation and salt reduction) and use of two medications (blood pressure lowering agents and aspirin).
  • The trial increased the adherence to anti-hypertensive medications by 25.5 per cent in the intervention group. However, the uptake of aspirin medication was more in China than in India.




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