Science & Technology Current
December 3rd week 2015 current affairs
Category : Science & Technology Current
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1) Scientists isolate genes that delay Alzheimer`s disease.

  • A team of researchers have identified a network of nine genes that play a key role in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and these findings could help scientists develop new treatments to delay the onset of the disease in a study of a family of 5,000 people in Columbia, scientists identified genes that delayed the disease and others that accelerated it, and by how much.
  • Arcos-Burgos at the John Curtin School of Medical Research revealed that if they could work out how to decelerate the disease, then they could have a profound impact.
  • Mr. Burgos revealed that it would be more successful to delay the onset of the disease than to prevent it completely, adding that even if they delay the onset by on average one year, that would mean nine million fewer people, will have the disease in 2050.
  • The team was able to isolate the nine genes involved in Alzheimer’s, some of which delay the onset by up to 17 years, while others advance its progress.
2) Scientists find new role of a protein in regulating immune response.
  • A novel mechanism of a protein secreted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), inhibiting the infected host’s immune response by modulating certain genes has been discovered, giving rise to hopes of a targeted drug therapy.
  • With identification of suitable drug targets and candidate vaccines to control TB remaining a challenge and most of the studies focusing on strategies to prevent TB infection, scientists from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) here have looked at the interaction between pathogenic mycobacteria and the human cell during infection.
  • The study which was published in the prestigious journal `Nature Communications`, CDFD Director G.R. Chandak along with the team of scientists led by Sanjeev Khosla revealed that the finding could not only be a potential drug target against mycobacterial infections but also help in developing a new biomarker for identification of M. Tuberculosis infection in humans.

3) A Vega rocket bearing a European prototype satellite blasted.

  • A Vega rocket bearing a European prototype satellite blasted into space on a mission to search for ripples in space and across time, a phenomenon predicted but never proven by physicist Albert Einstein 100 years ago.
  • The trailblazing Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, or LISA, spacecraft will spend about six months testing a technique to detect ripples in space and across time.
  • The ripples, known as gravitational waves, are caused by massive celestial bodies warping space, similar to a bowling ball rolling across a trampoline.
  • LISA Pathfinder is also expected to pave the way for an even more ambitious project that would set up an observatory in space, a gravitational wave detector that would be the world’s largest man-made structure ever.
About Laser Interferometer Space Antenna:
  1. The LISA Pathfinder mission, which costs about 400 million euros ($423.7 million), will send the spacecraft about 1.5 million km (932,000 miles) toward the sun over about six weeks, where it will assume an orbit that keeps it right between the sun and Earth.
  2. Once it is in place, it will collect data for six months that scientists hope will reveal gravitational waves.
  3. ESA expects around 50 scientists to visit ESA’s European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany, next year to work with LISA. LISA Pathfinder was the sixth launch for the four-stage Vega European rocket, which made its debut in 2012.
4) Six more fast-breeder reactors planned in the country.
  • With the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (500 MWe) at Kalpak am set to go critical by March-April 2016, plans are afoot to set up six more Fast Breeder Reactors in the country in a phased manner over the next 15 years.
  • This was stated by P. Chellapandi, CMD of BHAVINI (Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited), the public sector undertaking responsible for constructing, commissioning and operating FBRs in the country.
  • The reporters on the sidelines of an international conference on ``Characterisation and Quality Control of Nuclear Fuels``, he revealed that based on the performance of Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor for one year, two more 600 MWe reactors were being planned at Kalpakam and the government would be approached for sanctioning them.
  • Chairman of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), S.A. Bhardwaj revealed that world was looking for other energy alternatives to limit global warming and nuclear was gaining wider recognition. 437 nuclear reactors were operating world over currently and they met 11 per cent of the electricity by producing 2,400 billion units.
5) World`s first washable smartphone to debut in Japan.
  • A Japanese firm revealed that it has the solution with what it describes the world’s first smartphone that can be washed with soap and water.
  • Pakistan to have 40 million smartphones by end of 2016:
  • Waterproof smartphones have been on the market for a while. But telecom company KDDI reveals that its new ``Digno rafre`` phone to be launched in Japan is the only one that can withstand a soapy bath.
  • ``Our development team washed the smartphone more than 700 times to test its durability``, a company spokesman revealed.
  • An online commercial aimed at proving its credentials features a child dropping the phone onto a plate of food topped with ketchup.
  • His mother assures her shocked family that those red globs are nothing to worry about as she soaps up the phone under a running tap.

6) The eighth edition of India-Russia joint naval exercise-INDRA NAVY-15 begins.

  • The eighth edition of India-Russia joint naval exercise-INDRA NAVY-15 has begun in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.
  • INDRA NAVY-15 is a bilateral maritime joint naval exercise between the Indian and Russian navies for epitomising the strategic relationship between the two countries.
About INDRA NAVY-15:
  1. The primary aim is to increase interoperability between the navies of two countries and develop common understanding of procedures for maritime security operations.
  2. The scope includes wide- ranging professional interactions during the Harbour phase and spectrum of maritime operations during the Sea Phase.
  3. The Harbour Phase encompasses planning conferences ashore and table-top exercises prior to progressing to sea. The Sea Phase would include various facets of fleet operations.
Indian Navy will be represented by:
  • INS Sahyadri an indigenous frigate, INS Ranvijay a guided missile destroyer and INS Shakti-a Fleet Support Ship.
  • It also is represented by INS Sindhuvir a submarine, P81 Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Dornier Short Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer.
  • Russian Federation Navy (RFN) will be represented by: 4 ships from Vladivostok based Pacific Fleet. They are Bystry-a destroyer, Varyag-a cruiser, Alatau-a rescue ocean going tug and Boris Butoma-a fleet tanker.
7) Genetically modified mosquitoes to help fight malaria.
  • Scientists have genetically modified malaria-causing mosquito Anopheles gambiae species to fight the deadly disease of malaria.
  • The research was successfully carried by team of researchers led by London based Imperial College and was published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
Key facts:
  1. Scientists have genetically modified Anopheles gambiae mosquito species so that they carry a modified gene disrupting egg production in female mosquitoes.
  2. For this they had used a technology called gene drive which uses the technique of recessive genes, so that many mosquitoes will inherit only one copy of the gene.
  3. Usually two copies in female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are needed for fertility. But the one copy of the gene makes female infertile by disrupting egg production.
  4. The genes were modified with the help of CRISPR/ Cas9 endonuclease which is a type of DNA cutting tool that modify the very specific parts of the genetic code.
  5. The trait of modified gene can be passed through a population of mosquitoes over time and can help to drastically reduce or eliminate the malaria-carrying mosquito species.
  6. The findings represent an important scientific step in the ability to develop novel methods of vector control.