Science & Technology Current
Science & Technology Current Affairs March 1st Week 2016
Category : Science & Technology Current
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1) Zika virus linked to debilitating neurological disorder Guillain-Barre syndrome.
  • Researchers from France have found the Zika virus may cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the body`s immune system attacks part of the nervous system.
  • GBS is a rare condition in which the body’s immune system attacks a part of the nervous system that controls muscle strength leading to muscle weakness in the legs and arms.
  • The syndrome is also be caused by bacterial infections as well as the dengue and chikungunya viruses transmitted by be vector Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.
  • The study was carried out using blood samples from 42 patients who became ill in a previous outbreak of virus.
  • It was found that patients developed the neurological problems around six days after Zika infection making the virus main culprit of severe neurological disorder.
  • The biological mechanism by which Zika virus triggers the Guillain-Barré syndrome has yet to be identified.
2) NASA announces plans to build supersonic passenger jet.
  • US space agency NASA announced that it is planning to build a supersonic passenger jet which will be as quiet and efficient as possible.
  • It has awarded a $20 million contract to Lockheed Martin to develop a preliminary design for a quiet demonstration passenger aircraft designed to fly faster than the speed of sound.
  • The piloted test aircraft would use so-called Quiet Supersonic Technology, or QueSST, to create a supersonic “heartbeat”.
  • Lockheed Martin will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning.
  • The new design would also meet the requirements for reduction of pollution as it would optimize fuel consumption.
3) Delhi launches country`s first HPV vaccination programme to fight cervical cancer.
  • Delhi has become the first state in India to launch the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) – a common sexually transmitted infection.
  • Which causes cervical cancer – vaccination programme in schools to protect teenage girls against cervical cancer.Health Minister Satyendar launched this programme.
  • The vaccination programme will be completed in the current academic year 2015-16 over two phases.
  • In the first year, girls studying in Class VI in government schools will be targeted and in the next year girls between the age of 9 and 13 will be targeted.
About Human Papillomavirus (HPV) :
  1. HPV is a DNA virus from the papillomavirus family which is mainly a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that causes genital warts and cervical cancer.
  2. The infection can be prevented through routine screening and vaccines that are safe and effective.
4) WhatsApp will end support for BlackBerry, Windows, Symbian platforms.
  • Messaging service WhatsApp end its support by the end of 2016 to BlackBerry phones and those powered by Nokia`s Symbian operating system.
  • Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which is used by a billion people worldwide, will stop working on the named operating systems.
  • It further said mobile operating systems offered by Google, Apple and Microsoft, which account for 99.5 per cent of sales at present, were less than 25 per cent of mobile devices sold at the time.
  • This is a "tough decision" but the "right one" in order to give people better ways to keep in touch.
  • Blackberry itself has dropped BB10 in favour of Android and this move from WhatsApp just makes it clear that there is no life for BB10 devices.
5) Flipkart launches online wallet to take on rivals like Freecharge and PayTM.
  • Flipkart has silently launched its wallet Flipkart Money powered by payments firm FX Mart on its Android app.
  • The launch of Flipkart Money comes at a time when online wallet providers Paytm, Freecharge and MobiKwik are raking up millions of users, enticing them with cashbacks and discounts.
  • It aims to have a more organized method of payment and cutting significant costs related to handling cash on product returns.
  • Flipkart Money was launched on the company`s Android app, where users can hold a balance of 10000 rupees at a time.
  • Cash can be withdrawn from the wallet to the cards or the bank account.
  • Money is part of Flipkart Wallet, which includes the biggest seller on Flipkart, WS Retail Credit, gift cards and other bank cards saved on the online retailer`s platform. 
6) Drug combination slows breast cancer spread.
  • A new treatment for breast cancer has been hailed a “game changer” after it was found to slow the progression of aggressive breast cancer by nine months.
  • By combining an established hormone drug called fulvestrant with a new treatment called palbociclib.
  • Doctors found they could slow the cancer growth in around two thirds of women with advanced forms of the most common type of breast cancer, thereby delaying the need for chemotherapy.
  • Women who took the new combination of drugs saw the progression of their cancer slow by an average of 9.5 months, compared with 4.6 months in the placebo group.
  • A total of 67 per cent of women in the group taking palbociclib plus fulvestrant either saw a reduction in the size of tumour or control of disease for at least six months.
  • Delaying the need for chemotherapy would be a huge boost for cancer patients, as its toxic side effects can be highly destructive.
  • Not only does it lead to hair loss, but it also causes nausea, extreme fatigue, and cripples the body’s immune system. 
7) ASEAN-Plus military drill begins in Pune.
  • Military personnel of adversarial world powers converged upon the Aundh Military Station in Pune to thrall spectators with the largest Multinational Field Training Exercise (FTX) ever conducted on Indian soil.
  • In this military exercise over 300 participants from 18 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Plus countries are participating.
  • ASEAN countries along with ASEAN Plus nations viz. India, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Russia and US.
  • 10 ASEAN countries from South East Asia are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Exercise Force Eighteen is the largest multinational ground forces exercise to be conducted on Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) and Peace Keeping Operations (PKO).
  • The exercise will allow the armies of these countries to develop a common understanding in handling any complex situation.
  • The exercise is part of a concerted attempt by India towards constructive joint efforts of ASEAN Plus militaries to enhance the peace and security of the region.
8) Scientists have developed the world’s first living, breathing supercomputer.
  • Researchers from the EU-funded ABACUS project have created a model biological supercomputer that is both sustainable and highly energy efficient.
  • The model bio-supercomputer is powered by adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the substance that provides energy to all of the cells in a human body.
  • It was developed by international team of researchers led by Prof. Nicolau, the Chair of the Department of Bioengineering at McGill, believe.
  • The circuit created by the researchers is around 1.5 cm square and instead of electrons being propelled by an electrical charge, as is the case with a traditional microchip, short strings of proteins (called `biological agents` by the project team) travel around the circuit in a controlled way.
  • The researchers recognize that there is still a lot of work ahead to move from the model they have created to a full-scale functional computer.
9) China plans mission to land a probe on Mars in 2021.
  • China plans to land a probe on Mars in 2021 to coincide with 100th anniversary of founding of the ruling-Communist party of China.
  • The probe is expected to reach Mars in 2021 after a flight of seven to ten months.
  • China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the main contractor of China’s space missions, the Mars exploration is among the 10 major orders and the country’s next-generation heavy lift rocket, has received so far.
  • Other orders include the Chang’e-5 lunar probe mission that is expected to bring back soil from the moon around 2017, and the much-anticipated space station’s core module that will be launched around 2020.
  1. In November 2015, China unveiled a model of its orbiter and landing rover at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai.
  2. China’s earlier mission to send a probe to the Red Planet in a joint mission with Russia failed in 2011.
  3. So far, only the US, the former Soviet Union, the European Space Agency and India have successfully carried out Mars exploration missions. 
10) Zika breakthrough as scientists detail how virus attacks foetal brain.
  • Scientists claimed that they had found the first evidence of a biological link between the deadly mosquito-borne disease and microcephaly, a birth defect in which the infants` brains fail to grow properly.
  • Working with lab-grown human stem cells, scientists found that the virus selectively infected cells forming the brain’s cortex, the thin outer layer of folded gray matter.
  • Its attack made those cells more likely to die and less likely to divide normally and make new brain cells.
  • The experts at Johns Hopkins, Florida State and Emory universities believe that while the breakthrough does not prove a definitive link between Zika and microcephaly.
  • Zika virus attacked the human neural progenitor cells. Within three days of exposure, 90 percent were infected, and nearly a third had died.
11) Indian scientists develop Dengue drug.
  • Scientists have claimed to have developed a herbal medicine against dengue.
  • Which accounts for 50 per cent of the global population estimated to be at risk from the disease.
  • The herbal dengue medicine was developed using alcoholic extract of Cissampelos pariera Linn (Cipa extract) derived from velvetleaf, a species of flowering plant.
  • The drug has proved to be potent inhibitor to all four types (strains) of dengue virus.
  • The project was undertaken jointly by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), under the Ministry of Science and Technology, the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology and Ranbaxy Research Laboratory, and employed Ayurveda in devising the drug.
  • Scientists are now seeking to hold clinical trials and toxicity studies of the drug after approval from Union Ministry of Ayush and Drug Controller of India (DCI) for commercial production.
12) MIT researchers make waste gas-to-liquid fuel technology breakthrough.
  • The MIT Researchers have turned the emissions of power stations, steel mills and garbage dumps into liquid fuels.
  • The process has been successfully trialled at a pilot plant in China and a much bigger facility is now planned.
  • Biofuels have been seen as possible replacement, but current biofuels compete with food production and have been blamed for driving up food prices.
  • Using waste gases to create low-carbon liquid fuels would be a major advance in the battle against global warming if they could be made at low cost and large scale.
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) process uses bacteria to convert the waste gases into acetic acid – vinegar – then an engineered yeast to produce an oil.
13) Indo-Indonesia Joint Training Exercise Garuda Shakti IV begins.
  • The fourth edition of the India-Indonesia Joint Training Exercise Garuda Shakti has begun at Magelang in Indonesia.
  • Bilateral exercise aims at Building and promoting positive relations between the Armies of India and Indonesia.
  • And also Enhancing their abilities to undertake joint tactical level operations in a counter insurgency environment under United Nations Charter.
  • In the 4th edition of the joint exercise Indian Army platoon strength contingent will carry out cross training with a platoon from the Airborne battalion of the Indonesian Army.
  • The Indian Contingent has been trained for combat conditioning, firing, tactical operations, tactical skills and special heliborne operations training.
  • Selected Indian unit has had varied operational experience in Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist operations in the Northern, Western and Eastern theatres.
  • The exercise will be conducted as joint Counter Insurgency operations exercise in urban and rural scenario and various facets of tactical Counter Insurgency operations (CIO). 
14) Iran shows it`s deterent power by conducting ballistic missile test.
  • Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has successfully test-fired several ballistic missiles from silos across the country.
  • The test was intended "to show Iran`s deterrent power and also the Islamic Republic`s ability to confront any threat against the (Islamic) Revolution, the state and the sovereignty of the country.
  • With this Iran has breached United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions that compel it to refrain from any work on ballistic missiles for 8 years.
  • About Ballistic Missile:
  • It is a missile with a high, arching trajectory which is initially powered and guided but falls under gravity on to its target.
  • Most of its trajectory is unpowered and governed by gravity and air resistance if it is in the atmosphere. In contrasts, cruise missiles are aerodynamically guided in powered flight.