Science & Technology Current
March 2011 Science & technology Current Affairs
Category : Science & Technology Current
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According to the 2010 tiger census, whose results were declared on 28 March, there are approximately 1,706 tigers in the country, which includes about 70 in the marshes of the Sunderbans, which have never been scientifically surveyed before. The 2006 census had estimated that there were 1,411 tigers, without including any from the Sunderbans. Thus, India`s wild tiger population has grown 12 per cent in the last four years. Thirty per cent of the tiger population lives in areas outside the government`s reserves, giving conservationists a new challenge in the effort to protect them. Tiger occupancy areas shrunk from 9 million hectares to less than 7.5 million hectares over the last four years, this means that tiger corridors are under severe threat, especially in central India… in Madhya Pradesh and northern Andhra Pradesh. These are the two States that have fared the worst in the census, with tiger populations falling to 213 in Madhya Pradesh and 65 in Andhra Pradesh. The largest number of tigers lives in Karnataka – about 280 – and conservation efforts have been successful in the entire Western Ghats area, with Tamil Nadu and Kerala also seeing good results. While Kaziranga in Assam has 100 tigers, the largest in a single reserve, there are worrying signs from the North Eastern area. These forested hills are capable of supporting far more than the number of tigers that were found in the area, but poaching and the pressure of developmental activities have kept the numbers low.
The 20th International World Wide Web conference began in Hyderabad on 28 March, bringing together researchers, technologists, practitioners, and other experts from 50 countries. With the theme ‘Web for all`, the conference would discuss the web`s future direction and help it become all-inclusive. Being jointly hosted by the International Institutes of Information Technology Bangalore and Hyderabad and the Institute of Information Technology, Mumbai, over 700 delegates were attending the five-day event. The conference would have three key-note speeches by former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, WWW inventor and director, World Wide Web Consortium, Tim Berners-Lee and Christos H. Papadimitriou, the C. Lester Hogan Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley.

The U.S. Space Agency on 25 March said, NASA spacecraft Stardust has ended a 12-year run that helped the world better understand comets and plan for future deep space missions.           
An auroral and unusually big ‘supermoon` was seen lighting up the sky on 19 March , offering a visual treat to an enthusiastic audience of curious sky-gazers.The phenomenon was special, as the moon came closest to the earth in 18 years, becoming the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. The moon was around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than the other full moons.The moon was only 3,56,577 km away. The phenomenon occurred in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005.

India on 6 March successfully test-fired an Interceptor Missile, which intercepted an incoming ‘enemy` ballistic missile at an altitude of 16 km and pulverised it in “a direct kill.” While the ‘hostile` missile took off at 9.32 a.m. from a launch complex at the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur, Orissa, the interceptor blasted off at 9.37 a.m. from the Wheeler Island, off the Orissa coast. Both the missiles were made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The attacker simulated the 600-km range of a ballistic missile and the interceptor sped up at 4.5 Mach. This is the DRDO`s sixth interceptor mission, and five have been successful including a hat-trick in the first three. ‘India is next only to the U.S., Russia, France and Israel, which have the BMD capability,” said Dr.Vijay Kumars Sarawat, who is the DRDO Director-General and architect of India`s interceptor missile programme.            
Multinational pharmaceutical drug company MSD, the fully owned subsidiary of Merck & Co, has launched a diarrhoea-prevention vaccine RotaTeq for infants and children in India.RotaTeq is a pentavalent rotavirus vaccine that helps in preventing rotavirus gastroenteritis, a leading cause of severe and life threatening diarrhoea in young children. 

NASA said the launching of Taurus XL rocket carrying an Earth-observation satellite Glory from Vandenberg air force base in California was failed on 4 February.            
Scientists at the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod, have developed an indigenous technology to extract virgin coconut oil from fresh coconut kernels. Oil extracted from fresh coconut kernels is called virgin coconut oil.            
India has applied to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) at Geneva in Switzerland for associate membership. This was stated by CERN official Rudiger Voss on 2 March. Mr. Voss said if India was granted associate membership, Indian researchers would be eligible for jobs at the CERN. Currently, researchers of institutes that collaborate with the CERN can only be deputed there for short periods of time. It will also open the gates for the private sector to the international research organisation. The CERN was established in 1954 by 12 European countries. At present, it has 20 member-States.      

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh on 2 March launched the country`s first research centre on marine bio-diversity at Jamnagar in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, for the protection of the fragile coastal eco-system. The National Centre for Marine Bio-diversity (NCBM) would promote different kinds of research activities in respect of coastal and marine eco-systems and would also impart training and education to the youth for maintaining the ecological balance in the fragile coastal areas. The Gujarat port town was selected for the centre because of its closest proximity to the country`s only National Marine Park spread over some 200 sq km area in the Gulf of Kutch. Mr. Ramesh said the centre would be his Ministry`s first public-private partnership venture with the Reliance Industries, which had a major oil refinery in Jamnagar, sharing the 50 per cent cost of the initial project sanction of Rs. 20 crore.          
NASA`s Glory spacecraft is scheduled for launch on March 4. Technical issues with ground support equipment for the Taurus XL launch vehicle led to the scrub of the original Feb. 23 launch attempt. Those issues have been resolved. Data from the Glory mission will allow scientists to better understand how the sun and tiny atmospheric particles called aerosols affect Earth`s climate. The Taurus XL also carries the first of NASA`s Educational Launch of Nano satellite missions.            
The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) along with IAVI will soon establish and operate a laboratory in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, to meet one of the biggest challenges of designing and developing an efficacious AIDS vaccine — elicitation of antibodies that are capable of neutralising a broad spectrum of HIV variants found in humans.