Science & Technology Current
November 4th week 2015 current affairs
Category : Science & Technology Current
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1)  3-D printing method to make embryonic stem cells

  • Scientists have developed a 3-D printing method capable of producing highly uniform `blocks` of embryonic stem cells. These cells -- capable of generating all cell types in the body -- could be used as the `Lego bricks` to build tissue constructs, larger structures of tissues and potentially even micro-organs.
  • The researchers, based at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, and Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA, used extrusion-based 3-D printing to produce a grid-like 3-D structure to grow embryoid body that demonstrated cell viability and rapid self-renewal for 7 days while maintaining high pluripotentcy. 
  • The researchers hope that this technique can be developed to produce embryoid body at a high throughput, providing the basic building blocks for other researchers to perform experiments on tissue regeneration and/or for drug screening studies.

2)  World`s pledges to cut carbon emissions not enough to halt global warming, UN warns

  • Carbon-cutting pledges from 146 nations are "far from enough" to stave off dangerous global warming, the United Nations has warned, three weeks ahead of a crucial climate summit in Paris. Countries have submitted pledges, known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), to a UN roster that will form the backbone of an agreement to be inked at the November 30 climate talks.
  • According to Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the countries had made "an historic level of commitment" with their pledges. However, they are not sufficient to limit global temperature rise to the recommended level of 2 degrees Celsius this centur 
  • To stay within the 2C limit, which scientists say is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, global emissions levels should not exceed 42 billion tonnes in 2030.
  • Even if all countries` plans for emission cuts are implemented fully, emissions could rise to 54 billion tonnes in 2030, leaving a gap of 12 billion tonnes, an annual UNEP report said. 
  • The report analysed the difference between projected carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution and the levels required to stay under the UN`s 2C target.
  • It is the first to take into account greenhouse gas reduction promises made ahead of the Paris summit, tasked with delivering the first ever universal climate pact. 
  • Including major emitters China, the United States and the 28-member European Union, the pledges cover some 65 per cent of global emissions, and 43 per cent of the world population.
  • Australia plans to cut emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 based on emissions from the year 2005.According to the report, the submitted pledges "are far from enough, and the emissions gap in both 2025 and 2030 will be very significant". Moreover, it notes, greenhouse gas output would still be rising in 2030. 

3)  First-ever census of butterflies in India

  • India finally has its first comprehensive catalogue of butterflies since 1947. Peter Smetacek, a scientist at the Butterfly Research Centre at Bhimtal, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, spent years putting together a synoptic list of the 1,318 species found across the country. The exercise is not only to document the variety of butterflies in India, but to help save India’s rivers—a cause that Smetacek has been championing. 
  • The new catalogue is the first butterfly list compiled in India since 1932. After Independence and Partition, no one knew which butterfly species remained in Pakistan and the occupied parts of Kashmir. The Synoptic Catalogue of the Butterflies of India, which has been edited by Smetacek and RK Varshney, retired additional director of the Zoological Society of India, has filled in those information gaps. 
  • The catalogue includes remarkable varieties like the Travancore Evening Brown, a butterfly endemic to India and found only in Kerala and Karnataka. The butterfly is the only existing species in its genus and its closest relative is found in South America, indicating that it belongs to a lineage that went extinct ages ago.
4) 300 km range Brahmos missile test fired
  • Army on 7th November successfully test fired the nearly 300-km-range Brahmos supersonic land attack cruise missile at Pokhran in Jaisalmer. A mobile autonomous launcher deployed in full configuration with mobile command post at the ranges launched the missile. Senior Army and DRDO officials witnessed the launch. The Army has already inducted three regiments of Brahmos in its arsenal. The land-attack version of Brahmos has been operationalised in the Army since 2007.