Showing posts with label Science & Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Science & Technology. Show all posts

15 January 2018

Parker Solar Probe mission,,,Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF)

NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds. Parker Solar Probe will travel through the sun’s atmosphere, closer to the surface than any spacecraft before it, facing brutal heat and radiation conditions — and ultimately providing humanity with the closest-ever observations of a star.

,,,,,,,,,,,,Gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) refers to the net increase in physical assets (investment minus disposals) within the measurement period. It does not account for the consumption (depreciation) of fixed capital, and also does not include land purchases. It is a component of expenditure approach to calculating GDP.
Gross fixed capital formation (net investment) is the net amount of fixed capital accumulation.
It measures the increase in the capital stock less the disposal of fixed assets.
It excludes land purchases
It excludes depreciation
Gross Fixed Capital formation is included in the expenditure approach to national income accounting.
.......Gross fixed capital formation (formerly gross domestic fixed investment) includes land improvements (fences, ditches, drains, and so on); plant, machinery, and equipment purchases; and the construction of roads, railways, and the like, including schools, offices, hospitals, private residential dwellings, and commercial and industrial buildings
Fixed investment (gross fixed capital formation) to GDP ratio (at current prices) is estimated to be 26.6% in 2016-17, vis-à-vis 29.3% in 2015-16.
In terms of GDP, the rates of GFCF at current and constant (2011-12) prices during 2016-17 are estimated at 27.1 percent and 29.5 percent, respectively, as against the corresponding rates of 29.3 percent and 30.9 percent, respectively in 2015-16.

Oceans losing oxygen, can damage marine life: study

Oceans losing oxygen, can damage marine life: study
As Earth is warming up, the ocean is losing its breath and can cause serious damage to marine life, affect livelihoods of millions and trigger release of dangerous greenhouse gases, says study
As Earth is warming up, the ocean is losing its breath and can cause serious damage to marine life, affect livelihoods of millions of people and trigger the release of dangerous greenhouse gases like nitrous oxide, said a latest study published on Thursday in noted international journal Science.
The study said that in the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold and in coastal water bodies, including estuaries and seas, low-oxygen sites have increased more than 10-fold since 1950.
Scientists expect oxygen to continue dropping even outside these zones as Earth warms up. The study said in order to halt the decline, the world needs to rein in both climate change and nutrient pollution.
“Oxygen is fundamental to life in the oceans. The decline in ocean oxygen ranks among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment,” said Denise Breitburg, lead author of study and a marine ecologist with US-based Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
“It’s a tremendous loss to all the support services that rely on recreation and tourism, hotels and restaurants and taxi drivers and everything else. The reverberations of unhealthy ecosystems in the ocean can be extensive,” said Lisa Levin, a biological oceanographer at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, US.
The study was done by a team of scientists from GO2NE (Global Ocean Oxygen Network), a new working group created in 2016 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.
It is a first such study that takes a sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, in both open ocean and coastal waters. It highlighted the biggest dangers to the ocean and society, and what it will take to keep Earth’s waters healthy and productive.
Explaining the importance of oxygen in oceans, Vladimir Ryabinin, executive secretary of the International Oceanographic Commission, which formed the GO2NE group, said, “Approximately half of the oxygen on Earth comes from the ocean.”
“However, combined effects of nutrient loading and climate change are greatly increasing the number and size of ‘dead zones’ in the open ocean and coastal waters, where oxygen is too low to support most marine life,” Ryabinin added.
The authors point out that in areas traditionally called “dead zones”, like those in Chesapeake Bay (in the US) and the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond dead zones, the authors explained in an official statement.
The danger due to low oxygen in oceans is manifold. For instance, as per the study, even small oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death.
“It also can trigger the release of dangerous chemicals such as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and toxic hydrogen sulfide. While some animals can thrive in dead zones, overall biodiversity falls,” the study warns.
To keep low oxygen in check, the scientists said the world needs to take on the issue from three angles—address the causes, nutrient pollution and climate change. “This is a problem we can solve. Halting climate change requires a global effort, but even local actions can help with nutrient-driven oxygen decline,” said Breitburg.

Eating food that is good for the brain

Eating food that is good for the brain
The brain uses up 25% of the energy we consume. Focusing more research on how to feed it seems like a no-brainer
Afew weeks ago, a scientific claim linking canola oil to Alzheimer’s disease risk raised an intriguing question: When it comes to healthy eating, do we have to choose between the head and the heart? In other words, is it possible that foods promoted as good for cardiovascular health, such as canola oil, are bad for the brain? There’s surprisingly little information out there on what to eat for brain health. The vast majority of nutrition research is aimed at the heart. Why wouldn’t scientists want to focus on maintaining the seat of consciousness, memory, creativity, love, learning and joy, as opposed to a glorified pump?
Sure, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. But disorders of the brain may cause more suffering, and the numbers are growing. According to a new report, more than six million Americans currently live with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2060, that will rise to 15 million.
Since many of us are starved for information on brain health, it’s not surprising that news outlets played up the scare factor on the canola oil study, even though the deleterious effect was found in mice and therefore may not apply to humans. The researchers, from Temple University in Philadelphia, conducted two studies, the first using olive oil and the second, canola, which is found in many processed and pre-prepared foods. They used special mice with a genetic predisposition to develop Alzheimer’s disease, and gave one group a few drops of olive oil each day. The mice given olive oil did slightly better on memory tests, and, upon dissection, had fewer plaques in their brains than did those fed a standard mouse diet. When they tried the same experiment with canola oil, they found the mice getting the extra oil did worse on memory tests and had built up more brain plaques. The results may not be sufficient to make anyone give up canola oil, but they do make an important point—food affects the brain.
Some media critics, such as Mary Chris Jaklevic at Health News Review, chastised reporters for not putting this single study into context. But what context? Not that many scientists specialize in diet and the brain, and when I sought them out, people kept pointing me back toward someone I’d interviewed in 2011—Joseph Hibbeln, a biochemist and psychiatrist working at the National Institutes of Health. His research has focused on a potential positive influence of one kind of fat—omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in seafood and some plants. He’s led studies that suggested a connection between low intake of omega-3s and a host of ills, such as suicide, violence and obesity. Drew Ramsey, a clinical psychiatrist specializing in nutrition, also notes that some controlled clinical trials have suggested omega-3 fatty acids improve symptoms of depression.
That’s the uncontroversial part, since omega-3 fatty acids are approved by the American Heart Association as part of the family known as polyunsaturated fats. Where it gets tricky is in the biochemistry, because, as Hibbeln explains, there’s a chemical competition between omega-3s and another kind of allegedly heart-healthy polyunsaturated fat: omega-6, which is found in cottonseed, sunflower, safflower and corn oils, as well as corn- and soy-fed factory-farmed poultry (canola and olive oil are in a different category called monounsaturated fats).
The problem with omega-6 fatty acids, Hibbeln says, is that the more you eat, the lower the level of omega-3 fats in your bloodstream given the same omega-3 intake. This happens because both kinds of fat compete for an enzyme that converts them to a form the body can use. So if you care about eating to keep your brain healthy, evidence would suggest keeping your omega-3 levels high, and that would mean not foiling your effort by ingesting omega-6 fats.
The ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3s has changed drastically over the last 75 years, as omega-6 fats went from about 1% to 10% of the human diet, and blood levels of omega-3 have plummeted. In the story I wrote in 2011 about Hibbeln’s work, he called it “the greatest dietary transformation in the history of Homo sapiens”.
Whether omega-6 fats are heart-healthy depends on who you talk to. The American Heart Association’s recommendations continue to promote all polyunsaturated fats as healthy, and to demonize saturated fats—the kind found in butter and other full-fat dairy products. There was one very large, controlled clinical trial comparing the effects of a typical diet to one in which most of the saturated fat was switched out for omega-6 rich corn oil. A re-analysis published last year concluded that people getting the corn oil had lower cholesterol numbers but were more likely to die.
Saturated fat is neutral in the tug of war between the omega-6 and omega-3 fats. There’s a body of studies suggesting that saturated fats are bad for the heart—but much of this was done in rabbits. The human studies—both observational and clinical—have recently been called into question and continue to generate controversy.
What’s a health-conscious person to eat when the science is in such a state of disarray? The only fats that seem to be uncontroversial are omega-3 fats and olive oil. Canola oil is chemically similar to olive oil, but these new studies suggest they’re not interchangeable. As Hibbeln told me, the brain makes up 2% of the body by weight and uses up 25% of the energy we consume. Focusing more research on how to feed it seems like a no-brainer

गूगल के डूडल में डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना

गूगल के डूडल में डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना
हमारे डीएनए के आवश्यक कार्य और प्रथम सिंथेटिक जीन के निर्माण में अहम भूमिका निभाने वाले भारतीय-अमेरिकी वैज्ञानिक डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना को गूगल ने डूडल बनाकर सम्मान दिया है
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना को उनके शोध और कार्यों के लिए अनेकों पुरस्कार और सम्मान दिए गए। इन सब में नोबेल पुरस्कार सर्वोपरि है।
सन 1968 में चिकित्सा विज्ञान का नोबेल पुरस्कार मिला
सन 1958 में उन्हें कनाडा का मर्क मैडल प्रदान किया गया
सन 1960 में कैनेडियन पब्लिक सर्विस ने उन्हें स्‍वर्ण पदक दिया
सन 1967 में डैनी हैनमैन पुरस्‍कार मिला
सन 1968 में लॉस्‍कर फेडरेशन पुरस्‍कार और लूसिया ग्रास हारी विट्ज पुरस्‍कार से सम्मानित किये गए सन 1969 में भारत सरकार ने डॉ. खुराना को पद्म भूषण से अलंकृत किया
पंजाब यूनिवर्सिटी, चंडीगढ़ ने डी.एस-सी. की मानद उपाधि दी
डॉ. हरगोविंद जीवकोशिकाओं के नाभिकों की रासायनिक संरचना के बारे में अध्ययन कर रहे थे। नाभिकों के नाभिकीय अम्लों के संबंध में खोज काफी लंबे समय से चल रही है। डॉ. खुराना के अध्ययन का विषय न्यूक्लिऔटिड नामक उपसमुच्चयों की अत्यंत जटिल, मूल, रासायनिक संरचनाएं थीं। डॉ. खुराना इन समुच्चयों का योग करके महत्वपूर्ण दो वर्गों के न्यूक्लिप्रोटिड इन्जाइम नामक यौगिकों को बनाने में सफल हुए थे। डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना ने साल 1970 में आनुवंशिकी के क्षेत्र में एक और योगदान दिया, जब वह और उनका अनुसंधान दल एक खमीर जीन की पहली कृत्रिम प्रतिलिपि संश्लेषित करने में सफल रहे। 09 नवंबर 2011 को इस महान वैज्ञानिक ने अमेरिका के मैसचूसट्स में अंतिम सांस ली। उनके पीछे परिवार में पुत्री जूलिया और पुत्र डेव हैं।
,,,,,,,,,,हरगोविंद खुराना का जन्म अविभाजित भारत के रायपुर (जिला मुल्तान, पंजाब) नामक स्थान पर 9 जनवरी 1922 में हुआ था। उनके पिता एक पटवारी थे। अपने माता-पिता के चार पुत्रों में हरगोविंद सबसे छोटे थे। गरीबी के बावजूद हरगोविंद के पिता ने अपने बच्चों की पढ़ाई पर ध्यान दिया जिसके कारण खुराना ने अपना पूरा ध्यान पढ़ाई पर लगा दिया। वह जब मात्र 12 साल के थे, तभी उनके पिता का निधन हो गया और ऐसी परिस्थिति में उनके बड़े भाई नंदलाल ने उनकी पढ़ाई-लिखाई का जिम्मा संभाला। उनकी प्रारंभिक शिक्षा स्थानिय स्कूल में ही हुई।
उन्होंने पंजाब विश्वविद्यालय से सन् 1943 में बी.एस-सी. (आनर्स) तथा सन् 1945 में एम.एस-सी. (ऑनर्स) की डिग्री प्राप्त की। पंजाब विश्वविद्यालय में महान सिंह उनके निरीक्षक थे। इसके पश्चात भारत सरकार की छात्रवृत्ति पाकर उच्च शिक्षा के लिए इंग्लैंड चले गए। इंग्लैंड में उन्होंने लिवरपूल विश्वविद्यालय में प्रफेसर रॉजर जे.एस. बियर के देख-रेख में अनुसंधान किया और डाक्टरेट की उपाधि अर्जित की। इसके उपरांत उन्हें एक बार फिर भारत सरकार से शोधवृत्ति मिलीं जिसके बाद वे जूरिख (स्विट्सरलैंड) के फेडरल इंस्टिटयूट ऑफ टेक्नॉलजी में प्रफेसर वी. प्रेलॉग के साथ शोध कार्य में लगे।
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,1952 में उन्हें वैंकोवर (कैनाडा) की कोलम्बिया विश्‍वविद्यालय से बुलावा आया जिसके बाद वह वहां चले गए और जैव रसायन विभाग के अध्‍यक्ष बना दिए गए। इस संस्थान में रहकर उन्‍होंने आनुवांशिकी के क्षेत्र में शोध कार्य प्रारंभ किया और धीरे-धीरे उनके शोधपत्र अंतरराष्‍ट्रीय पत्र-पत्रिकाओं और शोध जर्नलों में प्रकाशित होने लगे। इसके फलस्वरूप वे काफी चर्चित हो गए और उन्‍हें अनेक सम्मान और पुरस्‍कार भी प्राप्‍त हुए।
सन 1960 में उन्हें ‘प्रफेसर इंस्टीट्युट ऑफ पब्लिक सर्विस’ कनाडा में स्वर्ण पदक से सम्मानित किया गया और उन्हें ‘मर्क एवार्ड’ से भी सम्मानित किया गया। इसके पश्चात सन् 1960 में डॉ. खुराना अमेरिका के विस्कान्सिन विश्वविद्यालय के इंस्टिट्यूट ऑफ एन्ज़ाइम रिसर्च में प्रफेसर पद पर नियुक्त हुए। सन 1966 में उन्होंने अमेरिकी नागरिकता ग्रहण कर ली।
सन 1970 में डॉ. खुराना मैसचुसट्स इंस्टिट्यूट ऑफ टेक्नॉलजी (एम.आई.टी.) में रसायन और जीव विज्ञान के अल्फ्रेड स्लोअन प्रोफेसर नियुक्त हुए। तब से लेकर सन 2007 वे इस संस्थान से जुड़े रहे और बहुत ख्याति अर्जित की।
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,डॉ. खुराना ने जीन इंजिनियरिंग (बायॉ टेक्नॉलजी) विषय की बुनियाद रखने में महत्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाई। जेनेटिक कोड की भाषा समझने और उसकी प्रोटीन संश्लेषण में भूमिका प्रतिपादित करने के लिए सन 1968 में डॉ. खुराना को चिकित्सा विज्ञान का नोबल पुरस्कार प्रदान किया गया। डॉ. हरगोविंद खुराना नोबेल पुरस्कार पाने वाले भारतीय मूल के तीसरे व्यक्ति थे। यह पुरस्कार उन्हें दो और अमेरिकी वैज्ञानिकों डॉ. राबर्ट होले और डॉ. मार्शल निरेनबर्ग के साथ सम्मिलित रूप से प्रदान किया गया था। इन तीनों ने डी.एन.ए. अणु की संरचना को स्पष्ट किया था और यह भी बताया था कि डी.एन.ए. प्रोटीन्स का संश्लेषण किस प्रकार करता है।
नोबेल पुरस्कार के बाद अमेरिका ने उन्हें ‘नैशनल अकेडमी ऑफ साइंस’ की सदस्यता प्रदान की (यह सम्मान केवल विशिष्ट अमेरिका वैज्ञानिकों को ही दिया जाता है)।

SpaceX successfully launches Zuma mission for US government

SpaceX successfully launches Zuma mission for US government
Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches its Zuma mission for US government from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the US government into low-earth orbit.
The mission—referred to as code name Zuma—took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX landed the rocket’s first stage for reuse in a future launch, a key step in its goal to drive down the cost of access to space.
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was assigned to choose which company would launch the restricted payload, and it selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9, calling it a cost effective option, said Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, in an emailed statement before the launch.
“As a company, Northrop Grumman realizes this is a monumental responsibility and we have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma,” Rains said, declining to comment on the nature of the payload.

Indian Railways has decided to deploy “Drone” cameras (UAV/NETRA) for various railway activities especially project monitoring and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure. It has been given directions to Zonal Railways to procure such cameras. This is in-line with Railways’ desire to use technology to enhance safety and efficiency in train operations.
“Drone” cameras shall be deployed to undertake monitoring activities of relief and rescue operation, project monitoring, progress of important works, conditions of track and inspection related activities. It shall also be used to assess preparedness of Non-Interlocking (NI) works, crowd management during fairs and melas, to identify scrap and also for aerial survey of station yards. It is going to be instrumental in providing real time inputs related to safety and maintenance of tracks and other railway infrastructure.
Under this initiative, West Central Railways with headquarter at Jabalpur (M.P) has become the first Zonal Railway to procure “Drone” cameras in Indian Railways. West Central Railways has already done a trial-run of those cameras last week on its all the three divisions in the following locations.
Jabalpur Division – Narmada Bridge near Bhitoni
Bhopal Division – (i) Nishatpura Yard; (ii) Third Line work between HBJ – Misrod.
Kota Division – (i) Chambal Bridge near Kota; (ii) Dakania Talav Yard near Kota.

Zuma mission for US government

Central government is likely to declare Medaram’s Sammakka-Sarakka/Saralamma Jatara a national festival this year. Once declared a national festival, Jatara can be considered for ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’ tag of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
Sammakka-Sarakka Jatara held by forest dwelling Koya tribe of Telangana and surrounding States, is the biggest Tribal festival in Asia which is attended by one crore people on an average.
Medaram is a remote place in the Eturnagaram Wildlife Sanctuary, a part of Dandakaranya, the largest surviving forest belt in the Deccan.

India’s second FTII to be set up in Arunachal:
Arunachal Pradesh would get its first Film and Television Institute, being set up by the Union Government as part of tapping the potential of the Northeastern region. This would be the second such one in the country.
The first Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) was set up in Pune, an autonomous institute operating under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
SpaceX successfully launches Zuma mission for US government
Elon Musk’s SpaceX launches its Zuma mission for US government from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. successfully launched its first mission of the new year: a classified payload for the US government into low-earth orbit.
The mission—referred to as code name Zuma—took off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX landed the rocket’s first stage for reuse in a future launch, a key step in its goal to drive down the cost of access to space.
Defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. was assigned to choose which company would launch the restricted payload, and it selected SpaceX’s Falcon 9, calling it a cost effective option, said Lon Rains, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, in an emailed statement before the launch.
“As a company, Northrop Grumman realizes this is a monumental responsibility and we have taken great care to ensure the most affordable and lowest risk scenario for Zuma,” Rains said, declining to comment on the nature of the payload.

India unveils Pratyush, its fastest supercomputer yet

India unveils Pratyush, its fastest supercomputer yet
India’s supercomputing prowess moved up several notches Monday after it unveiled Pratyush, an array of computers that can deliver a peak power of 6.8 petaflops. One petaflop is a million billion floating point operations per second and is a reflection of the computing capacity of a system.
Union Minister of Earth Sciences #DrHarshVardhan dedicates India’s first multi-petaflop supercomputer '#Pratyush' to nation.
According to a statement by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pratyush is the fourth fastest supercomputer in the world dedicated for weather and climate research, and follows machines in Japan, USA and the United Kingdom. It will also move an Indian supercomputer from the 300s to the 30s in the Top500 list, a respected international tracker of the world’s fastest supercomputers.
The machines will be installed at two government institutes: 4.0 petaflops HPC facility at IITM, Pune; and 2.8 petaflops facility at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast, Noida.
,,,,,,,,,,The government had sanctioned ₹400 crore last year to put in place a 10-petaflop machine. A key function of the machine’s computing power would be monsoon forecasting using a dynamical model. This requires simulating the weather for a given month — say March — and letting a custom-built model calculate how the actual weather will play out over June, July, August and September.
With the new system, it would be possible to map regions in India at a resolution of 3 km and the globe at 12 km.
While inaugurating the facility at IITM, Pune, Union Science Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan said Pratyush would be India’s “premier" HPC (high performance computing) and was a step up from India’s current peak capacity of 1.0 PF.

Sivan K named new ISRO chairman

The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, will visit Bihar tomorrow (January 11, 2018) to inaugurate the 4th International Conference on Dharma-Dhamma at Rajgir.
The Conference is being organised by Nalanda University in collaboration with the Centre for Study of Religion and Society, India Foundation, and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, with an aim to provide an opportunity to academics and policy makers from India and abroad to share ideas and build collaboration for a better world.
Sivan K named new ISRO chairman
The government appoints renowned scientist Sivan K as the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to replace of A.S. Kiran Kumar
The announcement comes two days ahead of the proposed historic launch of the ISRO's 100th satellite along with 30 others in a single mission from Sriharikota.
The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved Sivan's appointment as secretary, Department of Space and chairman of Space Commission for a tenure of three years, an order issued by the personnel ministry said.
Sivan, at present Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, will succeed Kumar who took over as ISRO chairman on 12 January 2015.
Sivan graduated from Madras Institute of Technology in aeronautical engineering in 1980 and completed Master of Engineering in Aerospace engineering from IISc, Bangalore in 1982, according to his biodata. Subsequently, he completed his PhD in Aerospace engineering from IIT, Bombay in 2006.
Sivan joined the ISRO in 1982 in Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) project and has contributed immensely towards end to end mission planning, mission design, mission integration and analysis. He held various responsibilities during his stint in ISRO.
Sivan has numerous publications in various journals and is a fellow of Indian National Academy of Engineering, Aeronautical Society of India and Systems Society of India. He has received various awards throughout his career which includes Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Sathyabama University, Chennai in April 2014 and Shri Hari Om Ashram Prerit Dr Vikram Sarabhai Research award for 1999.

The number was discovered using a computer software called GIMPS which looks for Mersenne prime numbers.

The number was discovered using a computer software called GIMPS which looks for Mersenne prime numbers.
Last week, a very big number — over 23 million digits long — became the “largest known prime number”.
The number 277,232,917-1, having 23,249,425 digits.(power of 2), was discovered using a software called GIMPS, which allows volunteers to search for Mersenne prime numbers (more on that below). Jonathan Pace, a volunteer from Tennessee, made the discovery on December 26, and it was further confirmed using four different programs on four different pieces of hardware.
In case you want to look at the 23-million-digit number, here is the link:
What are prime numbers and why are they important?
A prime number is a number that can only be divided by itself and by 1. For example: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, and so on.
British mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, in his book The Music of the Primes, writes, “Prime numbers are the very atoms of arithmetic. The prime numbers 2, 3 and 5 are the hydrogen, helium and lithium in the mathematician's laboratory. Mastering these building blocks offers the...hope of discovering new ways...through the vast complexities of the mathematical world.”
Dr. Baskar Balasubramanyam, Assistant Professor at the Department of Mathematics, IISER Pune, explained in detail about the new discovery in an e-mail to The Hindu:
Why is the new number called a Mersenne prime number?
Mersenne prime is a prime number of the form 2n-1. For example, 7 = 23-1 and is a prime, so it is a Mersenne prime.
One the other hand 11 is a prime, but it is not of the form 2n-1. So it is not a Mersenne prime. Not all numbers of the form 2n-1 are primes either. For example, 24-1 = 15 is not a prime.
The GIMPS project looks at such numbers to figure out which of them are going to be primes.
So, through this software can we find bigger prime numbers?
One of the oldest theorems in mathematics (the Euclid theorem) says that there are infinitely many primes. So we are going to find larger and larger primes.
For number theorists, it is also important to understand if there are infinitely many primes that fit a particular pattern. For example, are there infinitely many primes of the form 4n+1? The answer is yes.
We still don't know if there are infinitely many Mersenne primes. Another 'family' that is of much interest are the Twin Primes (primes that are separated by 2 like 11 and 13).
Can you tell me about the applications of prime numbers?
One of the major applications of primality testing (testing whether a number is prime) is in cryptography (Cryptography, which is derived from the Greek word for the study of secret messaging, involves sharing information via secret codes).
This is based on the following principle: multiplying two numbers is easy, factoring a number is hard. For cryptographic applications, we need a number N that is a product of two primes p and q (N = pq). The value of N is public information, but it is very difficult to find p and q just by knowing the value of N — there are lots of possibilities for p and q.
Our credit cards, cell phones, all depend on cryptography.

A good year for Artificial Intelligence

A good year for Artificial Intelligence
Significant advances and a rise in AI’s public profile in 2017 meant that governments and policymakers started taking it seriously
The year 2017 was a seminal year for the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The buildup of research breakthroughs, academic whispers, and the occasional policy conversation burst into public consciousness. Suddenly, everyone everywhere was talking about AI, what it means, and how it will affect human societies and economies. Jobs, warfare, healthcare, film-making, even art—no area of human enterprise seemed to be immune from discussions of the coming machine onslaught.
Overall, there were three very important outcomes for the field of AI in 2017.
First, technologically, the single most important breakthrough in 2017 was the development of Google Deep Mind’s AlphaGo Zero. AlphaGo Zero built on the earlier astonishing success of the AlphaGo program, which mastered the game of Go—an East Asian game widely believed to be significantly more complex than chess. AlphaGo was taught how to play the game through a database of hundreds of thousands of videos of humans playing Go. This method of training AlphaGo is generally indicative of the process by which AI has been achieved thus far—extremely data-intensive, and dependent to a great extent on humans “teaching” the program.
AlphaGo Zero, however, attempted to move beyond such data dependence by making the program teach itself how to play the game of Go. There was minimal human support, and in Google’s own words, the program “learns to play simply by playing games against itself, starting from completely random play”. This is a significant breakthrough for the field of AI for two reasons. First, as pointed out by Demis Hassabis, the chief executive officer of Deep Mind, it means that future developments in the field need no longer be constrained by the limits of human knowledge or the quality of the data available for training. Second, the overreliance on data to fuel AI developments has increasingly concentrated new research in a handful of big tech companies: Google, Apple, Amazon, Baidu and Alibaba. AlphaGo Zero, by making potential advances less dependent on access to data, could make research more dispersed.
Second, 2017 was also the year when countries across the world began putting AI at the heart of their future plans and policy measures. China released a plan to turn itself into an AI superpower by 2030, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that “whoever becomes the leader in this sphere, will become the ruler of the world”, and India set up its own AI Task Force to study the possible effects of AI on a variety of economic and social spheres. Alongside, the military effects of AI were recognized as a question of increasing relevance for the international community. The UN held the first round of formal talks on the question of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems—weapons that can theoretically act independent of human control via AI technologies, in November. Further talks on this issue have been scheduled for February and March.
Third, an interesting facet of the conversations surrounding AI in 2017, was the climbdown in the latter half of the year from the earlier exuberance, often misinformed, of the capabilities of AI. An increasing number of AI researchers and developers began pointing out that in spite of the significant technological leaps in the last few years, AI is in fact not as smart as has been widely reported and presumed. AI as it stands right now is “dumber than a five year old, no smarter than a rat”. Historically, AI has had numerous boom- and-bust cycles. The current boom cycle started roughly in 2012 with the publication of a set of papers which showed that the then theoretical idea of “deep learning” was now practical. However, last year an increasing number of academics and researchers began arguing that current AI advancements have in fact plateaued, signalling the possibility of a new bust cycle. If so, a new generation of breakthroughs is necessary to continue powering the AI euphoria.
In 2018, it is necessary to talk about AI within the contours of the reality of the technology and its present capabilities. An honest conversation about the possible benefits and drawbacks of AI cannot be undertaken under a cloud of hype and hyperbole—no “killer robots” and no visions of a robot-ruled future. For this, it is also necessary to move past the idea of AI being a replacement for humans across the board, and begin having a deeper conversation about its effectiveness as a tool in the hands of humans.
Finally, much of the discourse on AI thus far has been very Western-centric, with possible effects being discussed in the socioeconomic context of the Western nations. However, it is very unlikely that AI will affect all countries the same way. In 2018, therefore, it becomes very important for a greater number of researchers and academics to study how AI could affect a country as unique as India, and thereby help develop multiple discourses on AI. This has already begun in China, where the state sees AI as central to its continued economic growth and future dominance of global affairs, and is developing a China-centric vision of AI that looks to harness its potential to China’s advantage. A similar effort needs to be undertaken in India in coordination between the government, the industry, and academia to concretely envision how AI might affect various facets of the economy and society, and develop policy measures to ensure a beneficial national outcome to the AI revolution.

ISRO's 42nd PSLV successfully puts 31 satellites in orbit

ISRO's 42nd PSLV successfully puts 31 satellites in orbit
Its primary payload was the fourth satellite in the advanced remote sensing Cartosat-2 series
The 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), PSLV-C40, was launched successfully on Friday by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from the First Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota and it placed 31 satellites across two orbits.
The PSLV, launched at 9.29 a.m., had as its primary payload the country's fourth satellite in the remote sensing Cartosat-2 series, weighing 710 kg. The 30 other co-passenger smaller satellites, together weigh 613 kg. Of them, 28 are from other countries.
The Cartosat-2, whose imagery will be used to develop various land and geographical information system applications, was placed in a circular polar sun synchronous orbit 505 km from the Earth. The satellite's design life is five years.
Two technology demonstrators
It is the two other Indian satellites in the payload that have generated much excitement. Both are called technology demonstrators, indicating significant strides in miniaturisation.
Of the two, one is a microsatellite of the 100 kg class. "This is a technology demonstrator and the forerunner for future satellites of this series," the ISRO said.
The other one, a nanosatellite, named Indian Nano Satellite (INS) - 1C, is the third in its series; its predecessors were part of the PSLV-C37 launch of February 2017. The INS-1C, whose mission life is six months, carries the Miniature Multispectral Technology Demonstration payload from the Space Applications Centre. "With a capability to carry up to 3 kg of payload and a total satellite mass of 11 kg, it offers immense opportunities for future use," the ISRO said.
Of the 28 foreign satellites, launched as part of deals made by ISRO's commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited, three were microsatellites and 25 nanosatellites. There were 19 satellites from the United States and five from South Korea. The United Kingdom, France, Canada and Finland had a satellite each.
The CMD of Antrix had told The Hindu that the PSLV carried three important proof-of-concept microsats.
The ISRO had seen its launch of August 31, 2017 being recorded as a failure. The heat shield of PSLV-C39 did not separate, resulting in satellite separation occurring within the shield. It was only the second total failure of the PSLV in nearly 24 years: the PSLV-D1, in its maiden flight, failed on September 20, 1993.
..........................................ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its forty second flight, successfully launched the 710 kg Cartosat-2 Series Remote Sensing Satellite along with 30 co-passenger satellites today from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This flight is designated as PSLV-C40.
The lift-off of PSLV-C40 occurred at 0929 hrs (9:29 am) IST from the First Launch Pad. After a flight lasting 16 minutes 37 seconds, the satellites achieved the polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 503 km inclined at an angle of 97.55 degree to the equator. In the succeeding seven minutes, Cartosat-2 series satellite, INS-1C and 28 customer satellites successfully separated from the PSLV in a predetermined sequence. The fourth stage of PSLV-C40 fired twice for short durations to achieve a polar orbit of 365 km height in which India’s Microsat successfully separated.
After separation, the two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite deployed automatically and ISRO's Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration following which it will begin to provide remote sensing data using its panchromatic (black and white) and multispectral (colour) cameras.
The 11 kg INS-1C and the 100 kg class Microsat, the two Indian co-passenger satellites of Cartosat-2, are also being monitored and controlled from ISTRAC, Bengaluru. The 28 international customer satellites belong to Canada, Finland, France, Republic of Korea, UK and the USA.
So far, PSLV has successfully launched 51 Indian satellites and 237 customer satellites from abroad.

Isro’s 100th satellite: Countdown begins for launch of ‘Cartosat-2’ series
Isro will launch the weather observation ‘Cartosat-2’ series satellite and 30 other satellites at 9.28 am on Friday using its trusted ‘PSLV-C40’ rocket
The 28-hour countdown for the launch of Isro’s 100th satellite along with 30 others in a single mission, from the space port of Sriharikota, about 110km from Chennai, began on Thursday.
On its 42nd mission, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) trusted workhorse ‘PSLV-C40’ will carry the weather observation ‘Cartosat-2’ series satellite and 30 co-passengers (together weighing about 613 kg) at lift-off at 9.28am tomorrow.
As the Mission Readiness Review committee and Launch Authorisation Board cleared the countdown, the space body today said, “The 28-hour countdown activity of PSLV-C40/Cartosat2 Series Satellite Mission has started at 05.29 hours IST today”.
At present, the scientists are involved in propellant filling operation to carry out various stages of the flight, it said. The 44.4 metre tall rocket is all set to lift off from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
The co-passenger satellites comprise one micro and nano satellite each from India as well as three micro and 25 nanosatellites from six countries—Canada, Finland, France, Korea, the United Kingdom and United States of America.
The total weight of all the 31 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C40 is about 1,323kg. The 28 international customer satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between ISRO and its commercial arm ‘Antrix Corporation Ltd’.
Of the total number of satellites carried by PSLV-C40, 30 satellites will be launched into a 505 kms polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). Scientists would bring down the height by twice restarting the fourth stage of the PSLV-C40 for launch of Microsat satellite, which will be placed in a 359km polar SSO, ISRO said. The entire launch of satellites is expected to happen over a period of 2 hours and 21 seconds, it said.
According to Isro, the Cartosat-2 series satellite launch is a follow-on mission with the primary objective of providing high resolution scene specific spot imageries. It carries panchromatic and multi-spectral cameras operating in Time Delay Integration mode and is capable of delivering high resolution data. It will be the third satellite in the Cartosat-2 series.
Isro had successfully launched Cartosat-2 Series satellite on 22 June 2016. It is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B. The images sent by Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps and change detection to bring out geographical Land Information Systems and Geographical Information System applications.
ISRO Satellite Centre director M. Annadurai had recently said the launch of 28 satellites from abroad and three Indian satellites during the mission would mark the roll out of the 100th satellite by the space agency.
Tomorrow’s launch also marks the first launch for Isro in 2018 following the unsuccessful mission of navigation satellite IRNSS-1H last year.
On 31 August 2017 India’s mission to launch its backup navigation satellite IRNSS-1H on board PSLV-C39 failed after the heat shield did not separate in the final leg of the launch sequence and as a result, the satellite IRNSS-1H got stuck in the fourth stage of the rocket.

IGIB discovers a protein regulating melanoma growth, pigmentation

IGIB discovers a protein regulating melanoma growth, pigmentation
Calcium entry into cells can be an attractive chemotherapy target
Researchers at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) have for the first time identified a calcium sensor protein (STIM1) that independently regulates both skin cancer and pigmentation. The STIM1 protein does so by activating two independent signalling pathways.
Interestingly, different parts of the STIM1 protein activate the two independent signalling pathways that control melanoma growth and pigmentation. This opens up the possibility of developing drug molecules that target specific sites in the STIM1 protein to control tumour growth and regulate pigmentation.
While skin cancers account for third highest number of cancer associated deaths worldwide, perturbations in pigmentation pathways result in pigmentation disorders such as solar lentigo, melasma, vitiligo, and pityriasis alba. Current therapeutic regimes are not efficient in alleviating pigmentation disorders.
Role of STIM1
“The role of STIM1 in breast cancer and prostrate cancer is already known. Based on this, we hypothesised that STIM1 might have a role in melanoma growth as well,” says Dr. Rajender K Motiani from the Systems Biology Group at IGIB who led the team of researchers.
To study the role of STIM1 protein in melanoma growth in vitro, the researchers used STIM1 knockdown mouse cells and injected them into mouse models and observed the growth of melanoma. Compared with controls, melanoma growth was reduced by as much as 75% in mice that were injected with STIM1 knockdown cells.
While trying to find novel players that could potentially regulate pigmentation, the researchers identified a few signalling pathways which were differently regulated with change in pigmentation level.
When chemicals were used to change the levels of pigmentation of melanocytes, the researchers found that along with changes in melanin levels, other signalling modules were also changing. Similarly, melanin level reduced when pigmentation decreased. A surprising finding was that when pigmentation was decreasing, the calcium signalling pathway was also decreasing. “We got a hint that the STIM1 protein, which is a key regulator of calcium signalling pathway, would be regulating pigmentation too,” says Jyoti Tanwar from IGIB and one of the authors of the paper published in The EMBO Journal.
Zebrafish embryos
To confirm the role of STIM1 protein in pigmentation, the researchers knocked down the protein in melanocytes. This resulted in a reduction in pigmentation levels. “We further validated the role of STIM1 in regulating pigmentation in zebrafish models,” Dr. Motiani says. “The knockdown of STIM1 significantly decreased pigmentation in zebrafish embryos. Both in vitro and zebrafish studies established the critical role of STIM1 protein in pigmentation.”
The protein mediates calcium entry into cells and this leads to melanoma growth. “So calcium entry into cells can be an attractive chemotherapy target for melanoma,” says Dr. Motiani.
“We will next be studying biopsy samples of human pigmentary disorders. Our research has led to identification of a novel molecular target with high translational value,” says Tanwar.

What is urban heat island effect?Chiru goat

What is urban heat island effect?
The urban heat island is a phenomenon when the heat gets trapped near the earth’s surface as a result of a decline in green cover, rapid urbanisation, energy-intensive activities, and concrete structures.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,Urban heat islands can have worse air and water quality than their rural neighbours. UHIs often have lower air quality because there are more pollutants (waste products from vehicles, industry, and people) being pumped into the air. These pollutants are blocked from scattering and becoming less toxic by the urban landscape: buildings, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots. Water quality also suffers. When warm water from the UHI ends up flowing into local streams, it stresses the native species that have adapted to life in a cooler aquatic environment.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,The urban heat island effect is so strong in Delhi, the largest city in the region, that it saw 50% less fog than surrounding areas. In Delhi, the heat island effect also appears to be suppressing the very formation of fog. Scientists found that while areas outside Delhi have seen a 20 per cent increase in fog in the period 2012-2016 compared with 2000-2004, Delhi itself did not see an increase.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,SPARCS is a new NASA-funded space telescope and will be launched in 2021. The mission, including spacecraft design, integration and resulting science, is led by Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE).
The stars that SPARCS will focus on are small, dim, and cool by comparison to the Sun. Having less than half the Sun’s size and temperature, they shine with barely one per cent its brightness.
The heart of the SPARCS spacecraft will be a telescope with a diameter of nine centimetres plus a camera with two ultraviolet-sensitive detectors to be developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Both the telescope and camera will be optimised for observations using ultraviolet light, which strongly affects the planet’s atmosphere and its potential to harbour life on the surface.

Chiru goat
India’s environment ministry has ruled out the possibility of conservation breeding of the Chiru goat, a ‘near threatened’ species whose underfur is used for making the famous Shahtoosh shawls.
Chiru goat, which is also known as the Tibetan antelope, has long been hunted for its underfur (Shahtoosh), which is renowned for its quality and has traditionally been transported to Srinagar, where it is woven into an extremely fine fabric used to make shawls.
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,India to rename Teen Murti Chowk as ‘Teen Murti Haifa Chowk’ for PM Netanyahu visit
Prime Minister Modi had indicated at the renaming during his visit to Haifa last year where he unveiled a plaque commemorating the leadership of Major Dalpat Singh who led the successful operation. 2018 marks a centenary of the end of the World War I and the Battle of Haifa.
Teen Murti War Memorial has three life-size bronze statues representing the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who participated in the Battle of Haifa for the 15 Imperial Service Cavalry Brigade. The victorious operation by the Indian soldiers carried out on 23 September 1918 targeted the fortification of the city of Haifa which was then controlled by a joint Ottoman, German and Austro-Hungarian force. The Indian soldiers fighting for the Allied Powers, captured Haifa and cleared a crucial route for the Allies. A total of 44 Indian soldiers from the three princely states died during the liberation of Haifa.
However, there was some confusion in the naming process as initial photographs from the venue suggested that both the memorial as well as the Teen Murti Marg which radiates from the roundabout will be renamed.

,,,,,,,,,,,indian harvest festivals
Various festivals across the nation:
Makar Sankranti: The festival of Makar Sankranti is being celebrated today when the Sun enters the Makar zodiac and the days begin to lengthen compared to nights.
Pongal: In South India and particularly in Tamil Nadu, it’s the festival of Pongal which is being celebrated over 4 days at harvest time.
Magha Bihu: In Assam and many parts of the North East, the festival of Magha Bihu is celebrated. It sees the first harvest of the season being offered to the gods along with prayers for peace and prosperity. People in Assam celebrate this festival wearing colourful and bright clothes.
Uttarayan: Gujarat celebrates it in the form of the convivial kite festival of Uttarayan.
Maghi: In Punjab, Makar Sankranti is celebrated as Maghi. Bathing in a river in the early hours on Maghi is important.
Saaji: In Shimla District of Himachal Pradesh, Makara Sankranti is known as Magha Saaji. Saaji is the Pahari word for Sakranti, start of the new month. Hence this day marks the start of the month of Magha.
Kicheri: The festival is known as Kicheri in Uttar Pradesh and involves ritual bathing.

6 January 2018

China to establish robot station on moon

China to establish robot station on moon
China is planning to establish a robot station on the moon to conduct bigger and more complicated experimental research on lunar geography
China is planning to establish a robot station on the moon to conduct bigger and more complicated experimental research on lunar geography, a media report said on Wednesday.
The station could slash the costs of returning rock samples to Earth, said Jiao Weixin, a Peking University space science professor.
A sustainable robot station would enhance lunar geography studies and “have better energy efficiency than lunar rovers as the station can deploy a much bigger solar power- generator,” he said.
The base can conduct bigger, more complicated research and experiments, state-run Global Times quoted space officials who announced the plan at an international symposium in Shanghai earlier.
China’s ambitious space programme included several manned missions, building permanent space station and reaching to Mars.
In support of the lunar landing programme, China will launch a carrier rocket with a 100-ton-plus payload for the first time by about 2030, the report quoted a report of the symposium published on the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the central cabinet.
The schedule for the heavy-lift rocket was disclosed by Lu Yu, director of Science and Technology Committee of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, a State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation branch institute.
China plans to land the Chang’e-4 lunar probe on the dark side of the moon in 2018, the report said.
The Chang’e-5 probe will be launched next year, the last chapter in China’s three-step - orbiti, land and return - lunar exploration programme. Chang’e-5 will collect and return rock samples to Earth. After that, China will launch three more missions to study the moon’s south pole.
China’s first Mars probe is scheduled to be launched on a Long March 5 by 2020 from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, South China’s Hainan Province. The probe will hopefully orbit, land and deploy a rover on the Red Planet, the report said

What is DNA fingerprinting and how is it done?

What is DNA fingerprinting and how is it done?
It is a technique for identification of an individual by examining their DNA.
The Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram is carrying out DNA fingerprint examination to identify the bodies of fishermen found from the sea after the Ockhi storm.
What exactly is DNA fingerprinting? And does it look like crime scene investigations in TV shows?
What is DNA fingerprinting?
It is a technique, for identification of an individual by examining their DNA.
DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic acid, is the basic building block of life. This component in cells contains all the information about an organism and it also helps transfer the characteristics to the next generation.
The DNA of each individual is composed of Bases [Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G), and Cytosine (C)], Sugar and a Phosphate. Two bases link to each other using hydrogen bonds to form base pairs.
“Every human has three billion such base pairs. Though 99.7% of the make up is similar between any two people; there is a 0.3% difference which accounts to almost 10 million different base pairs. By examining this we can identify the relation between two people. There is a 50% match between a child and his/her father or mother. Between siblings it can range anywhere between 25% to 75%. Monozygotic twins show a 100% match,” explains Dr. Madhusudan Reddy, staff scientist and in-charge at Lab of DNA Fingerprinting Services, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad.
Can DNA fingerprinting be done only with blood samples?
Blood, bones, hair with root, saliva, semen, teeth, and tissue can also be used to study the DNA.
“We have received the bone and sternum (breast bone) as reference sample for identification of the fishermen. The relatives of the missing person would be asked to come and provide blood samples for DNA study. We will compare the DNA to get a match,” says an official who wished not to be named from regional facility for DNA fingerprinting at RGCB.
How is DNA fingerprinting done?
The DNA is isolated from the available sample. Each type of sample has a specific protocol for isolation. The DNA fragments are then multiplied using a reaction called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).
One small DNA fragment can become a thousand to million copies. This amplified DNA sample then undergoes a technique called gel electrophoresis, which splits it into different visible bands. The band pattern formed by an individual’s DNA is unique. The bands of two or more DNA samples can then be compared using software.
What are its uses?
DNA fingerprinting can be used to resolve disputes of maternity/paternity.
DNA fingerprinting can be used to resolve disputes of maternity /paternity | Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
- For criminal identification
- To resolve disputes of maternity /paternity
- To identify mutilated remains
- In cases of exchange of babies in hospital wards,
- In forensic wildlife (The arrangement of the nucleotides is unique to any living form (except identical twins) be animals, plants, or microbes.)
Can anyone get their DNA checked with their parents?
The official from RGCB explained that to resolve parental disputes you need a court order and will be done in the supervision of authorities from police and court.
Are there any laws in India regarding DNA fingerprinting?
In July, 2017 the law commission of India drafted a Bill for the use and regulation of DNA-based technology called the Human DNA Profiling Bill.
As there are currently no legal mechanisms for identifying missing persons and victims of disasters, the new Bill seeks to regulate human DNA profiling and establish standard procedures for DNA testing.

Fifty years of shared space

Fifty years of shared space
In October 1967, as the heat of the Cold War radiated worldwide, the Outer Space Treaty came into force. What is its legacy?
In January 1967, the Outer Space Treaty was opened for signature by the three depository governments—the USSR, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Entering into force in October 1967, the treaty provided a basic framework of international space law.
This framework includes many principles which signatory nations need to follow. It states that the exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, and shall be the province of all mankind. It also outlines that states shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit, or on celestial bodies, or station them in outer space in any other manner.
Further, the treaty saw astronauts as envoys of all mankind. The treaty also put many restrictions on the signatories. Thus, outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means. It further cautions that states shall be liable for damage caused by their space objects and dictates that they avoid harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies.
It is, in some sense, a treaty that one wishes was in force on Earth.
To understand the context in which this treaty came into being, one needs to go back a decade before its signing. In 1957, the launch of Sputnik 1 by the USSR marked the dawn of the space age. A space race between the US and USSR followed. The whole world watched as the superpowers battled for supremacy in space just as they butted heads on Earth.
Since both superpowers were also nuclear powers, it was widely feared that a nuclear showdown between them in space was merely a matter of time. It must be kept in mind that the space rivalry between the US and USSR was not just a race to outdo one another in terms of science, technology and engineering, but also a matter of national honour and prestige. That is why explorers such as Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong were looked upon as national heroes and paraded all over the world.
Yet, for all this transformation of space into an arena of political contestation, it was also something of a lawless land. Few had foreseen man in space, let alone that space would be something nations would compete over. Space needed protecting.
In 1967, when the Outer Space Treaty was signed, the Cold War was in full swing. Both the US and USSR wanted to prevent the expansion of the nuclear arms race into a completely new territory. And as space technologies became more advanced, there was a concern that Earth’s orbit and beyond provided a whole new area from which weapons of mass destruction could be launched. That’s why an article in the treaty prohibits countries from putting nuclear weapons in orbit or on other planetary bodies.
The treaty was opened for signature in Moscow, London, and Washington on 27 January 1967. Both the US and Soviet Union signed the treaty on that day and later ratified the treaty, again on same date, on 10 October 1967. India signed the treaty in March 1967; however, it took another 15 years for the Indian Parliament to ratify it in 1982.
The treaty, which has been signed by 107 countries till date, was the outcome of a protracted process of legislation. As discussed earlier, the launch of Sputnik 1 by the Soviets had already made news headlines across the world. With the dawn of the space age, the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) was established in 1959 (shortly after the launch of Sputnik) as an ad hoc committee. In 1959, it was formally established by United Nations Resolution 1472.
The aim of COPUOS was to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity; for peace, security and development. The committee was tasked with reviewing international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, studying space-related activities that could be undertaken by the UN, encouraging space research programmes, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space.
The committee, at its inception, had only 18 member countries, including the US and USSR. With the passage of time, a few more countries joined the club, and by 1961, the committee was divided into two sub-committees. One looked into scientific and technical aspects, while the other looked into legal aspects. This was the same year that Yuri Gagarin was sent into space by the Soviets.
Just after Yuri Gagarin became the first human to enter space, the UN General Assembly adopted the “Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space”. It recognized “the common interest of all mankind in the progress of the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes”. The declaration also stated that neither outer space nor celestial bodies should be appropriated by any country.
According to the archives of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the Outer Space Treaty was largely based on the aforementioned declaration, which had been adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 1962 (XVIII) in 1963, but with a few added provisions. Further, the treaty was considered by the legal subcommittee in 1966. After much deliberation and discussion, the Outer Space Treaty was opened for signatures half-a-century ago.
Key points of the treaty
The basic idea behind the treaty was to prevent “space weaponization”. And to the merit of this treaty, no signatory nation has violated it by putting a nuclear weapon in outer space or on the Moon. At least as far as we know. The treaty remains one of the most important pieces of space-related legislation in the last half-century.
Article 1, the soul of the Outer Space Treaty, if you will, states that, “The exploration and use of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development, and shall be the province of all mankind. Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, shall be free for exploration and use by all States without discrimination of any kind, on a basis of equality and in accordance with international law, and there shall be free access to all areas of celestial bodies. There shall be freedom of scientific investigation in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and States shall facilitate and encourage international cooperation in such investigation”.
The treaty calls for peace, harmony and cooperation among states in the arena of outer space as the race for supremacy in outer space could prove destructive for Earth. Only the great powers possessed both the will and capability to explore outer space, and in this endeavor, they became much more powerful when they started tasting success.
With great power, it is said, comes great responsibility, and the idea behind the treaty was to entrust the great powers with the responsibility of using outer space for peaceful purposes.
The treaty has been successful insofar as it has been able to achieve its primary goal, which is to prevent the weaponization of space. The reason why the treaty still passes the test of the time is that both the US and USSR came together to agree upon the fact that outer space shouldn’t be used as a battleground.
This coming together, however, was far from straightforward.
As per the US department of state website, “between 1959 and 1962 the Western powers made a series of proposals to bar the use of outer space for military purposes. Their successive plans for general and complete disarmament included provisions to ban the orbiting and stationing in outer space of weapons of mass destruction”.
It further states, “Soviet plans for general and complete disarmament between 1960 and 1962 included provisions for ensuring the peaceful use of outer space. The Soviet Union, however, did not separate outer space from other disarmament issues, nor did it agree to restrict outer space to peaceful uses unless U.S. foreign bases at which short-range and medium-range missiles were stationed were eliminated also. The Western powers declined to accept the Soviet approach; the linkage, they held, would upset the military balance and weaken the security of the West.”.
The Soviet position changed when the US signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963. After that, both powers agreed that they had no intention of orbiting weapons of mass destruction, installing them on celestial bodies, or stationing them in outer space. Once that happened, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution on 17 October 1963, welcoming the Soviet and US statements and calling upon all states to refrain from introducing weapons of mass destruction into outer space.
Seeking to sustain the momentum for arms control agreements, the United States—in 1965 and 1966—pressed for a treaty that would give further substance to the UN resolution.
The US department of state finally states that “on June 16, 1966, both the United States and the Soviet Union submitted draft treaties. The U.S. draft dealt only with celestial bodies; the Soviet draft covered the whole outer space environment. The United States accepted the Soviet position on the scope of the Treaty, and by September agreement had been reached in discussions at Geneva on most Treaty provisions. Differences on the few remaining issues—chiefly involving access to facilities on celestial bodies, reporting on space activities, and the use of military equipment and personnel in space exploration—were satisfactorily resolved in private consultations during the General Assembly session by December”.
It was after all these twists and turns that the Outer Space Treaty came into being. The treaty, thus, is an example of the kind of outcomes sustained diplomacy can achieve—even when the topic in question is highly contentious.

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