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Science & Technology


U.S. Hypersonic Vehicle
Fails Test
An unmanned U.S. military jet
designed to fly at hypersonic speeds
and travel from London to New York
in just 45 minutes has failed during a
trial as it crashed into the Pacific
Ocean within seconds of its launch.
The test had called for a five-minute
flight off the coast of southern
California at Mach 6- up to 7,300 kmph
six times the speed of sound. The
X-51A Waverider was dropped from

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a B-52 bomber on Wednesday and


launched by a rocket booster as
planned but the flight was over in
seconds after a control fin
malfunctioned, said the U.S. Air
Force in a statement. The faulty
control fin meant that the vehicles
flight ended before a speciallydesigned Scramjet engine could
be ignited, it said. It is unfortunate
that a problem with this subsystem
caused a termination before we
could light the Scramjet engine, said
Charlie Brink, Programme Manager for
the project. All our data
showed we had
created the right
conditions for engine
ignition and we were
very hopeful to meet our
test objectives, he said
in a statement.
The Waverider
separated from the B-52
over Point Mugu naval
sea range. However
after 16 seconds, a fault
was identified with one
of the cruiser control

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fins. One of four X-51A vehicles


remains after a series of tests with
mixed results. The Pentagon
which helped fund the project has
been
testing
hypersonic
technologies in an effort to develop
faster missiles. It has also been
suggested the research could
eventually help build a commercial
plane with the promise of London to
New York trips taking as little as less
than an hour, or Tokyo to Paris
journeys slightly more than double
that time. For now only one X-51A
vehicle remains and the Air Force has
not yet decided whether to organise
a fourth test. The air travel distance
between London and New York is
around 5570 km.
Earth might face More Heat
Waves
Scientists at NASAs Goddard
Institute for Space Studies (GISS)
warned that most of Earths land areas
might face an extreme summer heat
wave than they did between 1951 to
1980. Scientists revealed that over
the past 30 years the northern
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hemisphere has witnessed more hot


(orange), very hot (red) and
extremely hot (brown) summers.
Scientists noted that Earths northern
hemisphere, which comprises of 90
percent of the planets land has
become much more likely to
experience an extreme summer heat
wave compared to a base period
from 1951 to 1980. The researchers
described how extremely hot
summers has become a routine over
the past 30 years. Since 2006, about
10 percent of land area across the
Northern
Hemisphere
has
experienced these temperatures
each summer. Study show how heat
waves in Texas, Oklahoma and
Mexico in 2011, and in the Middle
East, Western Asia and Eastern
Europe in 2010 fall into the new
extremely hot category.
A New Strain of Rice that
could boost Crop Yields
Scientists developed a new
strain of rice that could increase crop
yields by a fifth for small farmers. It
grows well in soils lacking the nutrient
phosphorus. The gene will be now
transferred to modern varieties of rice
using classic methods of crossbreeding, not genetic engineering.
Many soil types bond tightly to
phosphorus, allowing only a small
quantity of the precious mineral to
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plant roots.To solve this


problems, farmers seek
help of phosphorus
fertilisers. But in poor
countries, this option
costs too much, which
means the plant is left
undernourished.
Ultimately, this meagre
growth affects yields.
In October 2011, the
UN Population Fund
(UNFPA) said the
global population of
seven billion could rise
to at least 10 billion by 2100.
Therefore, we need more yields.

can suffer from anaemia, episodes of


pain, serious infections and even
organ damage. Those with the
defective gene from only one parent
usually escape such health problems.
However, these individuals too get
milder forms of malaria rather than the
life-threatening kind that can afflict
people with the normal gene. This
survival advantage has resulted in the
faulty gene occurring at higher
frequencies in malaria-endemic parts
of the world.
Complex life cycle

Phosphate fertilisers are typically


extracted from layers of rock which
were ocean sediments millions of
years ago.
How sickle cell gene
protects against malaria
A team of U.S. scientists has
identified a new and surprising way
in which those with the gene that
causes sickle cell disease are
protected from the ravages of
malaria. People who develop sickle
cell disease have inherited from both
parents defective versions of a gene
for haemoglobin, the iron-containing
protein in red blood cells that
transports oxygen from the lungs to
tissues in the body. Their red blood
cells, instead of being disc-like, turn
crescent shaped. Such individuals

At one stage during their


complicated life cycle, the singlecelled Plasmodium parasites, which
cause malaria, invade red blood cells
and proliferate there, feeding on
haemoglobin. In a paper published
recently in the journal Cell Host &
Microbe , Jen-Tsan Chi and his
colleagues at the Duke University
Medical Centre in the U.S. noted that
short strips of the genetic material
RNA, known as microRNA (miRNA),
were found at enhanced levels in the
red blood cells of people with the
sickle cell gene. Like genes (which
are needed to produce proteins), the
genetic information to make miRNA
too is carried in the DNA of organisms.
The miRNA work with other
components of a cell to limit the
amounts of certain proteins that are
churned out.
Why any miRNAs are present
in mature erythrocytes [red blood
cells] is a mystery, since there is no

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ongoing protein synthesis, observed
Manoj Duraisingh of the Harvard
School of Public Health and Harvey
Lodish of the Whitehead Institute for
Biomedical Research in a commentary
on Dr. Chis paper that was published
in the same journal. Dr. Chi and his
fellow scientists found that some
kinds of miRNA from the red blood
cells were getting into Plasmodium
falciparum , the parasite that causes
the most dangerous forms of malaria.
Doing so meant that these miRNA
were getting past two membranes,
one that surrounds the parasite
(known as a parasitophorous vacuolar
membrane) as well as the parasites
own cellular covering. The papers
findings were intriguing, according
to Pushkar Sharma of the National
Institute of Immunology in Delhi who
works on the parasite. Only a few of
the various miRNA present in the red
blood cells were getting in and these
were present in the parasite at higher
levels than in the red blood cells. The
molecular mechanisms that
transported those miRNA into the
parasite were not clear. Nor was it
clear how a mutation in a gene
required for haemoglobin set off
increased production of the miRNA,
he added.
The Plasmodium parasites are
not known to have the molecular
machinery that miRNA typically uses
to interfere with protein production.
Instead, once inside, the human
miRNA got attached to one end of
some of the parasites messenger
RNA (mRNA), which shuttle genetic
information from genes to the
protein-making apparatus known as
ribosomes. Dr. Chis team found that
this fusion impaired the loading of
mRNA into ribosomes, thereby
significantly reducing synthesis of
some key proteins of the parasite. The
findings that had been published
were quite staggering and opened
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up new avenues for research,


remarked Dr. Sharma. The resistance
of sickle cell patients to malaria has
been interpreted to involve multiple
mechanisms, noted G. Padmanabhan,
former director of the Indian Institute
of Science at Bangalore, who has
studied the malaria parasites for many
years. Dr. Chi and his colleagues had
uncovered what appears to be one
more mechanism by the host to
contain parasite growth.
New Technique to reduce
the Side Effects of
Chemotherapy
Scientists developed a new
technique to reduce the harmful side
effects of chemotherapy. The new
technique blocks an oxygensensitive enzyme and streamlines the
blood flow by combining the specific
PHD2 inhibitors with the
chemotherapy. Inhibiting PHD2
results in the production of antioxidant enzymes were able to
neutralise the harmful side effects of
chemotherapy. The better formed
blood vessels ensure that the
anticancer drugs are distributed
throughout the tumour, which
increases their impact. In
Chemotherapy, anti- cancer drugs are
not easily delivered to the actual
tumour because leaking blood
vessels prevent anti-cancer drugs
from reaching tumourb cells while

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promoting metastasis. Moreover,


chemotherapy can adversely affect
healthy organs, resulting into heart
and kidney failure.
New Oxidant in the
Atmosphere
Scientists for the first time found
evidence of another oxidant named
X, which plays an important role in
the formation of gaseous sulphuric
acid in the atmosphere. Until now
there was a misconception that the
combination of OH(hydroxyl radical)
oxidant with sulphur dioxide was the
reason behind the formation of
gaseous sulphuric acid is formed in
the atmosphere. The results are
published on 9 August 2012 in
Nature. The new oxidant is capable
of oxidizing suphur dioxide.
Experiments done by Scientists
showed that the concentration of X
also does not remain constant during
the day.
Indian Project won the
World Environment Day
Challenge
An environment project made
by Hand in Hand India, a Chennai
based development organization was
named the winner of World
Environment Day Challenge 2012
organised by the UN. Projects of our
other organisations also emerged
victorious for their unique and
inspiring work. Hand in Hand India
created
a
colourful 10000
square
foot
rangoli carpet
depicting
10
environmental
themes. The awe
inspiring theme
came into being
after the tireless
efforts of nearly
500 volunteers.
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The names of a Colombian group
Fundacion Ecoprogreso, Kenyan
group Maji Mazuri Centre
International, Asutralias Sunshine
Coast Environment Council and a
Bangladeshi non-profit organization,
Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha also
figured in the list of winners. To
increase the peoples participation in
environmental activities the UN
Environment Programme (UNEP) had
come out with the innovative
competition on World Environment
Day 2012. Under the competition
people across the world were asked
to come out with an unique
environmental project in connection
with World Environment Day 2012.
The World Environment Day is
observed on 5 June every year.
China to land first moon
probe next year
China has said it will land an
exploratory craft on the moon for the
first time next year, as part of an
ambitious space programme that
includes a long-term plan to put a man
on the moon.

Chinas third lunar probe will


blast off in the second half of 2013
and attempt to land and transmit
back a survey of the moons surface,
state television reported late Monday.
If it succeeds, experts said it would
be the first craft to land on the moon
as part of a mission as opposed to
performing a controlled crash landing
at the end of one since the Soviet
space programme achieved the feat
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in the 1970s. They (China) want a


space programme that can be
considered one of the finest in the
world, said Morris Jones, an
independent space analyst based in
Sydney, Australia. If you want to be
world leader in space, then you have
to do missions like this. The landing
planned for next year would be
Chinas first on the lunar surface and
mark a new milestone in its space
development. It is part of a project to
orbit, land on and return from the
moon, the official Xinhua news
agency said.

goal, Stern acknowledged. But


insisting on a structure that would
guarantee such a goal will only lead
to deadlock. World leaders
pledged in Copenhagen to stay
below the 2C (3.6 F) temperature
increase. What leaders promised
must now be delivered, European
Commission climate spokesman Isaac
Valero Ladron said. Marlene Moses,
chair of the Association of Small Island
States (AOSIS), said Sterns speech
follows a well-established pattern of
the United States lowering ambition
at the climate talks.

U.S. stance on climate talks


spurs row

Ring-Planet Saturn and Red


Planet Mars paired in the
Sky

The United States ran into


crossfire on Wednesday after it called
for flexibility in climate talks, even if
this approach could not guarantee
meeting the UNs target on global
warming. Europe demanded that the
two-degree-Celsius (3.6-degreeFahrenheit) objective set at the
Copenhagen summit in 2009 be
honoured while small island states
accused Washington of dangerous
backsliding. In a barely-noticed
speech in New Hampshire on August
2, chief U.S. negotiator Todd Stern
said negotiations had to avoid a rigid
format that prompted
nations
to
defend their
o
w
n
interests and
avoid painful
curbs.
He
called for a
flexible
approach which
would not only be
easier to negotiate
but also encourage
deeper cuts in the
long run. This kind of
flexible,
evolving legal agreement cannot
guarantee that we meet a two-degree

The Ring-planet Saturn and Red


planet Mars came together in
Western Sky after sunset on 15 August
2012. While the two planets
appeared to be pairing in the sky,
they were in actual quite far apart and
different from each other.
Saturn, the sixth planet from sun,
is the second-largest planet in the
solar system. The planet is composed
almost entirely of gas, mostly
hydrogen, with smaller amounts of
other
gases. It has no
solid surface in
our sense of the
word, but it may
have a small
rocky core that
is surrounded
by thousands
of
miles of
highly
compressed gas
due to the
enormous gravitational
effects of Saturns large mass, which
is 95 times that of the Earth.
Mars, which is also called the
Red Planet, is fourth planet from the

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Sun in the Solar System. The planet is
made of Iron-oxide gas, that gives the
planet reddish appearance.
Genetic differences seen in
the same tree
Believe it or not, Can clones can
be genetically different, even by a
small extent, from the parent body?
For that matter, can there be genetic
differences even within the same
tree, such that tissues from the top
and bottom of a single tree are
genetically different? Ken Paige, an
evolutionary biologist at the
University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign and his team made this
startling discovery. Their finding was
based on a genome-wide analysis of
black cottonwood trees ( Populus
trichocarpa ). This could change the
classic paradigm that evolution only
happens in a population rather than
at an individual level, Brett Olds was
quoted as saying in Nature . Dr. Olds,
a biologist in Paiges laboratory,
presented the research at the 2012
Ecological Society of America
Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon.
Black cottonwood trees have
the power to clone themselves. And
by sharing the same root system, the
resulting offspring continue to remain
connected to their parents.
According to the journal, the reasons
why the scientists chose to study
black cottonwood trees are simple.
The full genome sequence is
available. Most importantly, the trees
live up to 200 years, and they grow to
30-50 metres height and thus the
spacing between individual tissues
is great both in terms of distance and
years. Moreover, the trees exhibit
connected clones, thereby providing
an ideal opportunity to study both
the parent and the offspring. Samples
were collected from 11 parent-clone
sets and the genomes sequenced
from the root to the highest buds. The
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genome results were compared with


the reference sequence.
The results were stunning
188,406 mutations were unique to
just one tissue sample and these
mutations were different from other
parts of the same tree! Some of the
mutations were seen within proteinencoding DNA sequences, and some
in the amino-acid changes in the
encoded proteins. According to
Nature , Dr. Olds found the top buds
of the parent and offspring in one tree
were genetically closer to other
tissues in the same plant. In another
instance, the differences showed up
in a peculiar manner the top bud
was closer to the reference
cottonwood genome than to any of
the other tissues from the same
individual. When people study
plants, theyll often take a cutting
from a leaf and assume that it is
representative of the plants
genome, Dr.Olds was quoted as
saying in Nature. That may not be
the case. You may need to take
multiple tissues.
Challenges of space travel
Last month Sunita Williams
entered the cosmos as part of NASAs
Expedition 32 which aims to perform
more than 240 experiments at the
International Space Station in
addition to testing a micro-satellite
deployment system and transporting
new
research
equipment.
September 17 is when the crew will
next be on terra firma after seventynine days in zero gravity. Re-adjusting
to a life restrained by gravity has its
complications particularly when
propelling ones body is achieved
merely by wiggling fingers.
Accidentally bumping into a surface
often results in the astronaut
careering through the cockpit. In his
book Do Your Ears Pop in Space?
Col. Mike Mullane, a three-time

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astronaut, indicates that even eating


in space involves slow, controlled
movements to avoid spillage, not least
because directing floating spheres of
spilled food into ones mouth is a
tiring and time-consuming exercise.
From getting accustomed to
sleeping in weightlessness like a
zombie with arms floating in front of
ones face to putting things down on
a Velcro surface and then forgetting
which of the many possible planes
the object lies on, life in space
requires adopting and adapting to a
different lifestyle. Spending
extended periods of time in zero
gravity has some adverse effects on
the body, namely muscle and bone
atrophy. According to NASA
Science, muscles can disappear at a
rate of 4 per cent per week, while
bones atrophy at 1 per cent per
month. In the absence of gravity, the
body no longer recognises a need for
the muscles (particularly those in the
calves and spine) that fight it and
help maintain posture. Periodic
exercise maintains the bodys
cardiovascular system but does not
have the same effect as exercise on
Earth because of the unnecessary
(and therefore absent) resistance to
gravity. Protracted exposure to
weightlessness causes a loss of
calcium and reduction in bone mass
for the same reason, called
osteoporosis. While post-menopausal
women on earth are more prone to
osteoporosis, both genders are
equally prone to decalcification in
space.
Furthermore, the mere act of
living in space for days on end
exposes an astronaut to a dose of
space radiation equal to the dose an
Earthling receives in a year. However
this is only a fraction of the intake that
scientists perceive as harmful. Also,
the launch of space shuttles and the
duration of expeditions are adjusted
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to avoid high solar activity. If being
bombarded by higher levels of
cosmic and neutrino radiation is the
downside of space travel, then
physical growth is one of the perks. It
certainly is true that disembarking
astronauts are taller than embarking
ones! This growth is due to zero gravity
the vertebrae of the spine spread
out. While this effect is permanent,
not every aspect of adjusting to life
in space is long-lasting. Space
Adaptation Syndrome or space
sickness, which scars the start of an
expedition for some astronauts, is
caused by a sudden change in spatial
orientation. The satisfaction of
weighing zero Newton is also
temporary, and ends once the shuttle
re-enters the Earths atmosphere and
gravity comes into play.
The Origin of the Singing
Mice Unveiled
Scientists discovered the origin
of singing mice that use songs to
communicate. The scientists stated
that this can help identify genes that
affect language in humans. The
singing mice are brown fur rodents
instead of the normal white ones, they
are found in the tropical cloud forests
in the mountains of Costa Rica.
Apparently, the song of the singing
mice is a rapid-fire string of high
pitched chirps called trills , which are
used mostly by males to attract mates.
Up to twenty chirps are squeaked out
per second, however unlike birds,
the mice generally stick to a song
made up of only a single note. Steven
Phelps the main researcher behind
the singing mice is already making
news. Phelps research on the
behavior of the mouse has appeared
in the journals Hormones and
Behaviour and Animal Behaviour.
His newest research project is
responsible for examining the
genetic components that influence
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song expression and is a special gene


called FOXP2.
Why do ripened mangos
have a strong smell?
The fruit ripening signal is the
sudden production of ethylene.
Ethylene is the simple hydrocarbon
gas produced in the ripening fruit
and released into the atmosphere.
This ethylene signal causes
developmental changes
that result in fruit
ripening.

These
developmental
changes are triggered by
the set of enzymes called hydrolases.
Ethylene apparently turns on the
genes that are transcribed and
translated to make these enzymes.
The enzymes then catalyze reactions
to alter the characteristics of the fruit.
The action of the enzymes causes the
ripening responses. Chlorophyll is
broken down and sometimes new
pigments are made so that the fruit
skin changes color to red, yellow, or
blue. Acids are broken down so that
the fruit changes from sour to neutral.
The starch is digested by
amylase to produce the simple sweet
sugars. As a result, the mealy quality
is reduced and juiciness is increased.
Finally enzymes break down large
organic molecules into smaller ones
that can be volatile (evaporate into
the air), which we can detect as an
aroma. A wide range of such
compounds has been identified,
including esters, lactones, mono- and
sesquiterpenes. Monoterpene

hydrocarbons such as cis -ocimene,


alpha and beta-pinene, myrcene and
limonene seem to be particularly
important contributors to the flavor
of the fresh fruit, depending upon the
variety. The momoterpene cis ocimene is a major flavor component
in mango cultivars Alphonso from
India and Jaffna from Srilanka, Among
the
sesquiterpenes,
betacaryophyllene and alpha-humelene
are common components in the
volatiles mixture of almost all cultivars
of mango.
The mango fruits are harvested
in any one of the three stages namely
mature green stage in which the fruits
have pale ash green colour with
smoky appearance, half-ripe stage
and ripe stage. The pulp of ripe fruit
harvested at the mature green stage
exhibited higher total amounts of the
aroma volatiles namely the
monoterpenes
and
the
sesquiterpenes. Fruit harvested at the
fully ripe stage resulted in higher
concentrations of esters, alkanes and
norisoprenoids. To achieve better
quality and greater aroma volatile
production of the ripe fruit, mango
should be harvested at the mature
green stage.
Balwan Pyaj
Seventeen years of painstaking
effort in developing and maintaining
a new onion variety by a small farmer,
Balwan Singh from Haryana, bore fruit
when the National Innovation
Foundation India (NIF) under the
leadership of Prof Anil Gupta
recognised this variety at the national
level.

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NIF honoured the farmer in its sixth
biennial award ceremony at the
Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi
recently. This onion variety named
Balwan Pyaj has a longer shelf life
as compared to other commercial
varieties due to its tightly adhered
bulb skin. The varietys yield per
hectare is over 30 tonnes, and is
believed to be resistant to pests and
diseases occurring in onion. Its dark
red coloured globular shaped bulbs
with about 50-60 gm weight, appear
more attractive than common ones
with firm, bright red coloured, bulbs
yielding about 20 tonnes per hectare.
That is the new variety developed by
the farmers yields nearly 50 tonnes.
A Web-based System
developed for advising
Farmers on Fertilizers
The Indian Institute of Soil
Science developed a web-based
system for advising farmers the right
quantity of fertilizers that they should
use in their soils for a particular type
of crop. The software takes into
account the soil type in different
districts of the country and available
nutrient in the soil. It takes into
consideration the crop and cropping
season in calculating the nutrient
requirement. In some cases, it takes
care of even different available
varieties of main crops. Finally, the
system converts the nutrient data into
the quantities of main fertilizers-urea,
MOP and SSP that are required to be
used by the farmer. This system is
presently available district-wise for
these 11 states: Andhra Pradesh,
Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana,
Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka,
Maharashtra, Orissa, Punjab, Tamil
Nadu and West Bengal.
Rover: first step to human
space programme to Mars
NASAs Jet Propulsion
Laboratory has high expectations for
62

the upcoming landing of the Curiosity


rover on Mars and is certain of great
science results, a lab engineer says.
Torsten Zorn, a robotics engineer with
JPL and a four-year veteran on the
Curiosity project team, told Xinhua in
an interview that the most interesting
part of the venture could be learning
more about the geological history of
Mars. Zorn said scientists want to find
out how Mars once wet surface dried
up, how long the process took and
what caused the changes. The
findings will be important for
scientists to determine whether Mars
is habitable for humans.
To find life, in any form, Zorn
said, is a goal of Curiosity. The rover is
equipped with a drill to gather
samples underground and send them
to a self-contained lab to determine
Mars geological conditions and
changes, and if there are any
microorganisms present on the
planet. The small lab will also test the
soil samples to see if there are signs
of life in the history of Mars. Curiosity
will test the Mars soil only with its own
equipment after it lands on the planet
on Sunday (August 5) but future
missions will bring samples back to
Earth for more study, Zorn said.
A new oxidant in the
atmosphere identified
Scientists have for the first time
found unequivocal evidence of
another oxidant playing a vital role in
the formation of gaseous sulphuric
acid in the atmosphere. Until now, it
was thought that the combination of
OH (hydroxyl radical) oxidant with
sulphur dioxide (SO{-2}) was the
dominant way by which gaseous
sulphuric acid is formed in the
atmosphere. The results are
published today (August 9) in
Nature . R.L. Mauldin from the
University of Helsinki and other coauthors are yet to identify the oxidant

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with certainty, and have named it as


X. They found the new oxidant has
significant capacity to oxidise
sulphur dioxide. The investigation
into the presence of X was
conducted in the boreal forest region
in Finland. The OH concentrations are
not constant throughout the day. The
maximum concentration is found at
noon and much lower values during
night. Measurements taken in the field
for a week showed that the
concentration of X also does not
remain constant during the day. But
its levels are much higher than the
hydroxyl radical (OH) during
evenings and nights. And the levels
of gaseous sulphuric acid measured
were also much higher than
expected if only OH were present.
Sulphuric acid originating from
this non-OH source may contribute
up to 50 per cent of the total H{-2}SO{4}budget, demonstrating the
important role of this H{-2}SO{4}formation route, they write. Since
the new oxidant was found to be
particularly abundant during the
evenings and nights, the scientists
postulate that it must be related to
reaction of surface emission, such as
naturally produced hydrocarbons,
with ozone. To confirm their
findings, the scientists carried out
laboratory experiments where SO{2}was exposed to mixtures of ozone
and various alkenes, and the resulting
atmospheric sulphuric acid levels
were measured. The experiments
were repeated using an OH
scavenger. To their surprise, sulphuric
acid was still being formed, thus
confirming the results obtained in the
field. The most efficient way of
producing atmospheric sulphuric
acid from a non-OH source could be
from monoterpenes than for other
alkenes, they note. Apparently,
monoterpenes, including limonene
and alpha pinene used in the
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experiment, are emitted by trees.
And these two were found in
abundance in the field.
They followed the next logical
step of reconfirming its actual
production by the trees. They cut
branches from different trees and
measured the amount of OH and X
produced. The amount of OH
produced was minor in comparison
to production of X. In conclusion,
they state: Our findings add to the
already substantial significance of
forests in the Earth system by
introducing a previously unknown
oxidant, probably an sCI, capable of
oxidizing at least SO{-2}and possibly
also other atmospheric trace gases
relevant to atmospheric chemistry.
The technique used by them to
measure OH is known as chemical
ionization mass spectroscopy (CIMS),
and it has been used in a range of
environments. It is therefore
surprising that the significance of
background signals has not been
recognized in previous studies,
notes a News piece in the same issue
of the journal. The forested
environment studied by the authors
emits large quantities of alkene, and
so provides ideal conditions for the
formation of X. Measurements of X
are now needed in other
environments, to determine its global
impact on the production of
atmospheric sulphuric acid.

contain their own pool of stem cells


that can multiply and keep fueling the
cancer, seeding regrowth. Studies
were published on 1 August 2012 in
the journals Nature and Science
Stem cells in healthy tissues are
known for their ability to produce any
kind of cell. The new research deals
with a different kind, cancer stem
cells. Some researchers, but not all,
believe they lurk as a persisting
feature in tumors. The three studies
used labeling techniques to trace the
ancestry of cells within mouse tumors.
Sharp drop in HIV cases in
India
India had witnessed a sharp
decline in the number of new HIV
cases a 56 per cent drop in the
past 10 years. HIV infections have
declined by 56 per cent during the
last decade from 2.7 lakh in 2000 to
1.2 lakh in 2009 in our country,
Indian Health and Family Welfare
Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the
national capital. This has been
possible due to political support at
the highest levels to the various
interventions under National AIDS
Control Programme, including
Parliamentarians and elected leaders
at the state and local levels and

Tumor Stem Cells multiply


and Fuel Cancer
In the studies conducted by
American, Belgian, British and Dutch
researchers it was found that tumors

cooperation received from NGOs,


civil society, etc the minister said at
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a symposium while addressing an


international HIV vaccine symposium.
Expressing similar sentiments,
Minister of Science and Technology
and Earth Sciences Ashwani Kumar
said that the Government believes
that the new HIV infections could be
significantly reduced if effective
prevention programs are expanded
and reach those at greatest risk of HIV
infection. In fact, HIV which
causes AIDS was detected in India
nearly 25 years back. Though more
than 2 million people are affected by
the virus, India is said to be one of
the few countries which has actually
made significant reductions in HIV
infections. The countrys HIV AIDS
prevention model has been even
lauded by United Nations Secretary
General Ban-Ki Moon.
China unveils ambitious
space projects
China will launch several space
projects, including a hard X-ray
telescope for black hole studies,
between 2014 and 2016, a Chinese
academic announced Wednesday.
Su Dingqiang, an academic at the
Chinese Academy of Sciences,
announced this at the opening
ceremony of the International
Astronomical Unions
28th General Assembly,
the China Daily
reported. Su, a former
president of the
Chinese Astronomical
Society, revealed some
details regarding the
hard x-ray modulation
telescope (HXMT),
Chinas first space
telescope. The hard Xray band is a key
waveband for highenergy astrophysics
studies. Hard X-rays originate mostly
from regions close to black holes and

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have high penetrative power, making


them important tools for studying
physical processes in extreme
conditions, such as high matter
density and high energy density, the
daily said.
Detecting gamma rays
Su said China will develop
another satellite, the dark matter
particle explorer (DAMPE), to help
detect high-energy electrons and
gamma rays, as well as a telescope to
study the solar magnetic field and a
Sino-French joint mission to study
gamma ray bursts.
An observatory
Su said Chinese scientists were
also planning to establish an Antarctic
astronomical observatory. An
Antarctic Survey Telescope (AST)
was installed there at the beginning
of the year and another AST will be
installed in 2013, said Cui Xiangqun,
an academic at the Chinese Academy
of Sciences. Chinas first Antarctic
telescope was installed in 2009.
Chinese space exploration has
developed rapidly in the past
decade, China Daily said. Some largescale astronomical projects in China,
including the Large Sky Multi-Object
Fiber Spectroscopic Telescope
(LAMOST) completed in 2008 and
the Five-hundred-metre Aperture
Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) to
be completed in 2016, have drawn
global attention. The ongoing
conference is the first of its size to be
held in China.
64

Curiosity touched the


Surface of Mars

A classic example of biased


and unscientific study

The US space agency NASA


landed Curiosity, a huge new robot
rover on Mars on 5 August 2012. The
one-tonne vehicle touched the
surface of Mars after a 345-millionmile expedition. The robot rover will
now conduct a study to find out
whether the planet was ever
hospitable to life. The robot rover,
which epitomizes the technological
wizardry of mankind, is set to spend
nearly two years for the mission. NASA
undertook the mission with an
objective to determine whether Mars
has ever had the conditions to
support life. The ambitious project
costed the US government about 2.5
billion dollar.

For the past several years, there


has been growing concern about the
health impact of radiation from
mobile towers. In 2008, Government
of India adopted the Guidelines
developed by the International
Commission on Non-Ionizing
Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for
Electromagnetic radiation from
mobile towers.The values chosen for
the permissible Power Density are 4.5
W/Sqm for 900 MHz and 9 W/Sqm.
for 1800 MHz. Based on media
reports and public concerns, the
Government set up an Inter-Ministerial
Committee (IMC) of specialists on
August 24, 2010. The Committee
examined the environmental and
health related concerns and
indicated that most of the laboratory
studies were unable to find a direct
link between exposure to radio
frequency radiation and health; and
the scientific studies as yet have not
been able to confirm a cause and
effect relationship between radio
frequency radiation and health. The
effect of emission from cell phone
towers is not known yet with
certainty. However, the IMC
recommended lowering the mobile
towers EMF exposure limits to 1/10th
of the existing prescribed limit as a
matter of abundant precaution. The
Government
accepted
the
recommendation and issued
directions making the new norms
applicable from September 1, 2012.
Among the inputs submitted to
the Department of Telecom was a
document Report on Cell Tower
Radiation authored by Prof. Girish
Kumar of the Department of
Electrical Engineering, IIT Bombay.
The report listed symptoms and
diseases allegedly caused by
electromagnetic radiation. The only

Specific Technological
Features of Curiosity
The 900 kg rover has the top
speed of about 4cm/s
Plutonium generators installed
on the rover will deliver heat and
electricity for at least 14 years
75kg science payload more than
10 times as massive as those of
earlier US Mars rovers
Equipped with tools to brush
and drill into rocks, to scoop up,
sort and sieve samples
Variety of analytical techniques
to discern chemistry in rocks,
soil and atmosphere
Even carries a laser to zap rocks;
beam will identify atomic
elements in rocks
Equipped with 17 cameras,
which will identify particular
targets, and a laser will zap
those rocks to probe their
chemistry
Findings of the mission will be
delivered to Earth through
antennas on the rover deck

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items not included in it were jealousy
and baldness! The author mined part
of the scary data from papers of
Arthur Firstenberg, the founder
director of the Cellular phone task
force which is dedicated to halting
the expansion of wireless technology
because it cannot be made safe.
Firstenberg filed and lost many suits
against the spread of wireless
technology. Wikipedia, noted his
claim that electromagnetic fields from
his neighbours cell phone are
destroying his health and that he sued
his neighbour seeking damages $
530,000 for refusing to turn off her
cell phone and other electronic
devices! Firstenberg is a symbol of
the collective schizophrenia against
RF radiation. Prof. Kumar uncritically
accepted the Bio-initiative Report
2007 (BIR), a booklet well known for
its lack of balance.
Advocacy document
The Committee on Man and
Radiation (COMAR), a technical
committee of the Engineering in
Medicine and Biology Society
(EMBS) of the Institute of Electrical
and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
noted that BIR is an advocacy
document. BIR itself conceded that
it was written to document the
reasons why current public exposure
standards for non-ionizing
electromagnetic radiation are no
longer good enough to protect
public health. Fourteen individuals
under the direction of a 4-person
organizing committee wrote BIR.
Most of its 21 sections are authored
by single individuals or (in a few
cases) pairs or trios of authors; the
section Key Scientific Evidence and
Public
Health
Policy
Recommendations was written by a
pair of individuals and appears to
reflect their views only, COMAR
clarified in a paper in Health Physics
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Journal. There is no indication of how


the members of the committee were
chosen or how balance was provided
in the group of contributors, a
majority of whom have public
records of criticism of existing
exposure standards and guidelines.
COMAR added that since
appearing on the Internet in 2007,
the BIR has received much media
attention but, more recently, has
been severely criticized by health
organizations and scientific groups
such as EMF-NET, a coordinating
committee of the European
Commission 6th Frame Work
Programme, The Netherlands Health
Council and Australian Centre for
Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research
BIR report was slammed by
these agencies thus: written in an
alarmist and emotive language and
the arguments have no scientific
support from well-conducted EMF
research; There is a lack of balance
in the report; no mention is made in
fact of reports that do not concur with
authors statements and conclusions.
It is not an objective and balanced
reflection of the current state of
scientific knowledge; and As it
stands it merely provides a set of
views that are not consistent with the
consensus of science. In May 2010,
The INTERPHONE Study concluded
that overall, no increase in risk of brain
tumours was observed with the use
of mobile phones. There were
suggestions of an increased risk of
glioma at the highest exposure levels,
but biases and error prevent a causal
interpretation. The possible effects
of long-term heavy use of mobile
phones require further investigation,
the authors added
The INTERPHONE study
supported by WHO is the largest
casecontrol study of mobile phones
and brain tumours conducted to
date, including the largest numbers

of users with at least 10 years of


exposure and the greatest
cumulative hours of use of any study.
Thirteen countries including UK,
Sweden, France and Germany
collaborated. Interphone study in
2010 mentions that excessive use of
mobile phones has doubled to
quadrupled brain tumor risk.
However, they claim that for an
average user, increase in cancer cases
is not significant, the Prof. Kumars
report says. By this assertion, the
report is misinterpreting the lucid
conclusion provided by the study
Prof. Kumar argued that the allowable
power level must be brought down
in India. A number of adverse health
effects have been documented at
levels below the FCC guidelines,
which include altered white blood
cells in children; childhood leukemia;
impaired motor function, reaction
time, and memory; headaches,
dizziness, fatigue, weakness, and
insomnia etc, the report said,
possibly based on the much criticized
Bio-initiative Report 2007 .
Prof. Kumar had cherry-picked
many references to substantiate such
claims. International agencies such as
the WHO and national agencies have
not accepted such preposterous
claims. A newspaper reported that
in a building in Mumbai four cases of
cancer were linked to radiation from
a mobile phone tower. Based on this,
Prof. Kumar estimated the power
level at the building to be about 0.1
W/ m2 and claimed that the tower was
the cause of cancer in several
people in 2-3 years time! He also
measured a power level of 7,068
microwatt/m2 in the home of a cancer
patient who allegedly developed
cancer within an year of installation
of a mobile phone tower, and links
the cancer to radiation from the
tower! Arriving at a conclusion based
on studying one or two individuals is

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not how epidemiological studies are
conducted.
First song from Mars
NASA transmitted the first song
to be broadcast from Mars on
Tuesday, by Grammy-winning US
musician will.i.am, as part of efforts to
inspire young people to get
interested in science. Reach for the
Stars was then beamed back by the
Curiosity rover, which landed on the
surface of the Red Planet earlier this
month, to NASAs Jet Propulsion
Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena,
California. It seems surreal, the US
rapper and actor said explaining how
NASA administrator Charles Bolden
had called him to suggest beaming a
song back from Mars as part of
educational outreach efforts by the
US space agency. The song with
lyrics including I know that Mars
might be far, but baby it aint really
that far involved a 40-piece
orchestra. The singer said he didnt
want to do a song that was done on
a computer,given that it was going
to be the first piece of music
broadcast back to the Earth from
Mars. I wanted to show human
collaboration and have an orchestra
there and something that would be
timeless, and translated in different
cultures, not have like a hip hop beat
or a dance beat, he said. A lot of
times people in my field arent
supposed to try to execute
something classical, or orchestral, so
I wanted to break that stigma, the
37-year-old real name William
James Adams told a student
audience. The aim was to inspire
young people like those at the NASA
event, to take a greater interest in
science.
Why does the immune system
in females not attack sperms
(foreign bodies) that enter the
female body?
The basic tenet of the human
66

immune system is that it can


differentiate self from others. This
allows the body to fight off any foreign
cells which it encounters. That is why
it is difficult to transplant organs
without suppressing the immune
system. However, when it comes to
reproduction, the human body not
only ignores the sperm, but also fails
to recognise the foetus (which has
half of its material from a foreign
donor) as a foreign body. In the
decidua the tissue surrounding
the foetus and the placenta the
immune response is switched off and
thus preventing an assault on the
developing baby.
It is obviously an evolutionary
advantage for the female body not to
recognise sperms as dangerous
foreign invaders. Studies have
confirmed the presence of markers
on the surface of the human sperm
that prevent them being attacked by
the female immune system. These
markers on the sperm are universally
recognised by any womans immune
system, and trick the immune system
into believing that the sperm is
harmless. That is why reproduction
can occur between any two people.
However, there are probably many
still unrecognised mechanisms which
allow sperm to escape the search
and destroy mission of the female
immune response.
Centre to Prepare revised
Guidelines for Tourist
Activities
The Supreme Court of India on
29 August 2012 directed the Centre
to prepare revised guidelines for
tourist activities in core areas of tiger
reserves. A bench including justices
AK Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar
ruled that the fresh guidelines should
be evolved within four weeks after
consultations with States, all stakeholders, hotel associations affected
by the ban, guides and tour operators.

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The apex courts decision came after


the Attorney General GE Vahanvati
sought permission to revise the
existing guidelines to ensure that
tigers are protected even while
tourism is promoted. The Supreme
Court once again extended the ban
imposed by the court on tourist
activities in the core areas of tiger
reserves till the 27th of September
2012. On 24 July 2012, the apex
court had banned all tourism
activities in the core areas of tiger
reserves.
Elephant impregnated with
frozen sperm
Breeders have used frozen
sperm from a wild elephant for the
first time to impregnate a female living
in captivity, the Schoenbrunn Zoo in
Vienna, Austria.
Useful for other species
The new freezing method
could also be used with other
endangered species like rhinoceros
and gorillas, said Thomas
Hildebrandt, a researcher at Berlins
Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife
Research, who was involved in the
international project. Previously,
elephant breeders could only use a
limited number of elephant bulls
living in zoos, as semen could not be
frozen and had to be used within
twelve hours.In Vienna, Austria, the
female African elephant Tonga is
now nine months pregnant and is
expected to give birth in September
2013. The father lives in South Africa.
Schoenbrunn Zoo chief Dagmar
Schratter said that the new method
was a milestone for wildlife
conservation and for breeding in
zoos.
Growing rice in soil poor in
phosphorus possible
A gene present in a specific
(aus-type) rice variety, Kasalath,
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which has its origin in eastern States
of India, holds the key to improving
yield across the world. This includes
soil deficient in natural phosphorus,
a mineral essential for food crops.
Natural reserves of the mineral in the
soil are limited in almost half of
worlds soil. About 60 per cent of
rain-fed lowland rice is cultivated in
phosphorus-poor soil. The
compulsion to use phosphorus
fertiliser therefore becomes
inevitable. But rock phosphate,
which is the source of this precious
mineral, is limited in quantity and is a
non-renewable source. But growing
rice even in such poor and
problematic soil without totally
depending on phosphorus fertiliser
can soon become a reality. Rico
Gamuyao from the International Rice
Research Institute, Manila, Philippines
and his colleagues have successfully
identified the gene that provides
phosphorus-deficiency tolerance in
rice. The results are published today
(August 23) in Nature . Though the
locus of phosphorus-deficiency
tolerance in the aus-type variety,
Kasalath was identified a decade ago,
the specific gene (PSTOL1) that
provides the tolerance remained
elusive.
Encoding
The gene encodes for a protein
kinase enzyme that vastly improves
rice yield even when the crop is
grown in soils deficient in
phosphorus. If the expression of
PSTOL1 is pronounced in the roots
of rice that have the phosphorus
uptake (Pup1) genomic region, it
becomes all the more enhanced
when the rice is grown in
phosphorus-deficient soil conditions.
This gene is absent from the rice
reference genome and other
phosphorus-starvation-intolerant
modern varieties, they write. The
absence of PSTOL1 from modern rice
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varieties underlines the


importance of conserving
and exploring traditional
germplasm.
To
understand and quantify
the effect of PSTOL1 in
rice
grown
in
phosphorus-deficient
soil, the scientists
inserted the gene into
two rice varieties that
naturally lack the gene.
The two rice varieties
chosen represent two distinctly
different types of modern irrigated
varieties. The field trials were
conducted in soil that was
phosphorus deficient.
What they observed was a truly
significant effect of the gene the
yield improvement was as high as 60
per cent. They also found that
expression of PSTOL1 above a
certain threshold was essential to
confer tolerance to phosphorus
deficiency. So how does PSTOL1
help the plants to grow in
phosphorus-deficient soil? PSTOL1
expresses itself at high levels in the
roots of the plants. This results in
these plants having a significantly
higher total root length and root
surface area. PSTOL1 expression also
leads to increased root growth and
root proliferation. Though much more
has to be known, the scientists are
already attempting to translate their
discoveries
into
improved
phosphorus efficiency in rice crops
by use of targeted inter-variety
breeding, notes a news piece in the
same issue of the journal.
Ban on Tourism Activities in
Tiger Reserves extended
The Supreme Court of India on
22 August 2012 extended the ban
on tourism activities in the core areas
of tiger reserves. A bench of Justices
A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar
asked the Union government some

searching questions as it made a fresh


plea for the review of the apex courts
July 24 order banning tourism in the
core areas of tiger reserves. The ban
extended would remain in place at
least till next hearing on 29 August
2012.
Integrated management of
sweet potato weevil
Sweet potato weevil causes
extensive damage in the field as well
as in storage. Small white legless
larvae bore tunnels in the tubers and
inside vines. The tunnels are infected
with fungi and bacteria that cause the
tuber to rot. Further, the larva feed
on the internal tissues and deposit
excreta within the tunnels rendering
the tubers unfit for consumption.
Larval period
About 165 eggs are laid in the
hollows of stem/vines or tubers and
hatching takes place with in 5-7 days.
Larval period lasts for 14 days and
pupation takes place inside the plant
lasting about a week. The entire life
cycle is completed in 6-7 weeks and
there are 7-8 generations each year.
Adult weevil measures 6-8 mm in
length and life span is for 2-3 months.
This pest is disseminated from field
to field through infested vines and
carried over every season by
breeding in damaged tubers left in
the fields after harvest. The pest is
more abundant during monsoon and

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remains active throughout the year
but population attains peak during
March to May.
Adopt crop rotation and use
resistant varieties. Select weevil free
lands for sweet potato cultivation.
Use weevil free planting materials of
early maturing varieties. Planting of
deep rooting varieties and irrigating
at 7 days interval control the
infestation. Earthing up the plants 50
days after planting reduces the weevil
attack. Closing of cracks in the field
by periodical hoeing minimizes the
weevil infestation. Mulching with
Eupatorium odoratum leaves at rate
of 3tonnes per hectare 30 days after
planting suppresses the weevil
attack. After the harvest the field
should be cleaned of trashes.
Destruction of infested crop materials
and crop residues help to lower pest
population.

Telecommunications
to
facilitate appropriate policy
formulations.
4. The location and frequencies of
cell phone towers and other
towers emitting EMR, should be
madeavailable in public
domain.
5. State governments are urged to
spread awareness among the
people about the negative
impacts of EMR using different
media.
Kinesio tape, latest musthave for injuries

Pheromone traps
Trap the adult weevils using
cross-cut sweet potato pieces of
about 6 cm diameter (100g size) kept
5metres apart during 50 to 80 days
after planting at 10 days interval. Use
pheromone traps at rate of 5 numbers
per acre to attract and kill the male
weevils. Dip the planting slips in 0.05
per cent fenthion solution for 5 to 10
minutes prior to planting .
Advisory to reduce the
Impact of Communication
Towers
The Ministry of Environment
and Forest (MoEF) on 14 August
2012 issued an advisory to reduce the
negative impact of Electro Magnetic
Radiations emanating from the
communication towers. Acting on the
recommendations made by an
expert panel, constituted to Study
the
possible
Impacts
of
Communication Towers on Wildlife
including Birds and Bees, the ministry
68

issued numerous guidelines. Some of


the major directives issued by the
MoEF are as follows:
1. Regular Electro Magnetic
Radiation (EMR) to be
conducted in urban localities
and ecologically sensitive
regions.
2. New mobile towers not to be
set up within the 1 km radius of
existing towers.
3. Any study conducted on
impact of EMR radiation on
wildlife needs to be shared with
Forest
Department
andDepartment
of

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Athletes must be falling apart


because, suddenly, everyone from
Novak Djokovic to Mario Balotelli is
taped up. Are these elaborate
weaves of coloured Kinesio tape a
genuine leap forward in the
treatment of sports injuries? Kinesio
Tex tape, a strong elasticated tape,
was developed more than 30 years
ago by a Japanese chiropractor, Dr
Kenzo Kase. He found that the
application of the tape replicated
some of the beneficial effects of
manual therapy such as massage
in reducing pain and soreness for
injured patients. First seen on Sumo
wrestlers, the tape took off when rolls
were donated to 58 countries at the
Beijing Olympics in 2008. Sportsmen
and women from Lance Armstrong to
Serena Williams have sported various
types of elastic therapeutic tape.
Its absolutely bloody brilliant,
says physiotherapist Paul Hobrough,
who uses a variety of brands to help
runners. Tape has been used to patch
up injuries for years, but Hobrough
finds Kinesio tape better than oldfashioned zinc, which prevents all
movement. A common problem for
runners is a mistracking kneecap;
Kinesio tape can stretch and contract,
inhibiting damaging movements but
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allowing the right kind, explains
Hobrough. Runners can continue to
train even when they have a problem.
Hobrough is cautious about people
attempting to apply the tape
themselves and the perception that
it is a panacea. It is a rehab tool, not
rehab, he says.
Kase has a more expansive view
of his tapes benefits. Space, flow and
cooling are, he explains, his basic
concepts. He believes the source of
many joint and muscle pains lies in
the thin layer of skin between the
epidermis and the dermis.
Conventional therapies compress
these areas. I needed to create
something to lift these layers. The
tape, he claims, opens the space
between the epidermis and dermis,
enabling a better flow of blood and
lymphatic fluids. Through this flow,
the body loses excessive heat that
can damage it.
China develops a robot that
walks on water
The first bio-inspired microbot
is capable of not just walking on water
but jumping up and down on the
waters surface like the insect, a study
shows. Qinmin Pan and colleagues
from Harbin Institute of Technology
and the National Natural Science
Foundation of China, reported a
number of advances toward tiny
robots that can walk on water.

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However, even the most advanced


designs, including one from Pans
team last year can only walk on
water. Pan noted that real water
striders actually leap, the journal
Applied
Materials
&
Interfacesreported.
Pans group looked for novel
mechanisms and materials to build a
true water-striding robot, according
to a Harbin Institute statement.
Making a jumping robot is difficult
because the downward force
needed to propel it into the air usually
pushes the legs through the waters
surface. Using porous, super waterrepellent nickel foam to fabricate the
three supporting and two jumping
legs, the group made a robot that
could leap more than 5.5 inches,
despite weighing as much as 1,100
water striders. In experiments
conducted at the institute, the robot
could jump nearly 14 inches
forward more than twice its own
length leaving the water at about
3.6 miles per hour. The study authors
report that the ability to leap will
make the bio-inspired micro robot
more agile and better able to avoid
obstacles it encounters on the waters
surface.
Cataract risk from drug
People using cholesterollowering drugs may be at an
increased risk of developing agerelated cataracts, a
new study has
claimed. Researchers
from the University of
Waterloo in Canada
found that the
additional risk of
cataracts in statin drug
users appears similar
to that associated with
type 2 diabetes. The
study involved nearly
6,400 patients, 452 of

these patients had type 2 diabetes.


Statin treatment and diabetes were
evaluated as possible risk factors for
age-related cataracts. Fifty-six per
cent of patients with type 2 diabetes
were taking statins, compared to 16
per cent of those without diabetes.
Both diabetes and statin use were
significantly associated with an
increased rate of age-related
cataracts.
Symposium on antibiotic
resistance
A first ever joint meeting of
Medical societies in India on tackling
antibiotic resistance will be held at
Chennai on August 24, 2012. The
plan is to formulate a roadmap to
tackle Indian perspective of the
global challenge of antibiotic
resistance, said Dr. Abdul Ghafur,
Consultant in infectious diseases at
Apollo Hospitals, Chennai. He is also
the co-ordinator of the symposium.
The compulsion to formulate a
roadmap arises as India does not still
have a workable national antibiotic
policy. That may partly explain why
drug resistance to many powerful
antibiotics is increasing in a short span
of time. If carbapenem resistance in
2008 was 2-3 per cent in some
hospitals in India, it has now
increased to 20-25 per cent, says Dr.
Ghafur.
Worse, resistance to colistin,
which is used for treating
carbapenem - resistant Gramnegative bacteria, is also seen in many
countries. Tackling antibiotic
resistance becomes a bigger
challenge in India due to several
reasons. The spread of drug
resistance is faster in India due to
many reasons lack of infection
control practices in hospitals,
absence of antibiotic policy,
sanitation issues in the community
etc, he said. One of the highlights of

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Engeneering Appraisal Committee
had cleared the commercialization of
Bt Brinjal on 14 October 2009, though
soon after its clearance it was caught
amidst bitter controversies ranging
from its environmental impacts to
ethical concerns such as corporate
control of the food supply and
intellectual property rights. Bt cotton
was the only GM crop before Bt
Brinjal which had got clearance for
commercialization.

In a major setback to the


production of genetically modified

(GM) foods in the country, a


parliamentary panel on agriculture
asked the government to ban all field
trials of GM crops until it develops
until it develops a better system of
monitoring and oversight. In the 389page report submitted in the
parliament on 9 August 2012, the
panel also demanded a complete
probe into how permission was
granted in 2009 for the
commercialisation of Bt brinjal (also
known as aubergine, or eggplant). Bt
Brinjal was developed by Punebased Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid
Company) in a joint venture with US
seed giant Monsanto. The Genetic

Extreme summer heat due


to global warming

Microbes, sponges and


worms add to reef woes

Climate-change sceptic
reverses stance

A new statistical analysis by NASA


scientists has found that Earths
land areas have become much more
likely to experience an extreme
summer heat wave than they were
in the middle of the 20th century.

A study in Marine Ecology


Progress Series says that pollution
and overfishing on reefs have an
ecological cascading effect the
proliferation of microbes, sponges,
and worms that further degrade
corals.

A prominent U.S. sceptic of the


human causes of climate change,
Richard Muller, now believes
human greenhouse gas emissions
are responsible.

Multiple planets orbiting a


pair of stars

Scientists in the second week of


August 2012 found a stem cell
therapy to prevent osteoarthritis
after a joint injury. Scientists used
MSCs (mesenchymal) stem cells in
mice with fractures that typically
result into developing arthritis.
This scientific finding could result
into a therapy that will be used
after joint injury. Osteoarthritis
means painful and stiff joints.

the meeting is the participation of


several medical societies. Aside from
medical societies, very senior
members from national and
international bodies like the WHO are
participating. Dr V.M. Katoch,
Secretary, Health Research,
Government of India and Director
General of ICMR, Dr. Sanjeev Singh
of NABH, Dr.G.N. Singh, Drugs
Controller General of India and others
will be present.
Ban GM Food Crops
recommended

Lotus leaf inspires fog-free


finish to glass

Inspired by the water-repellent


properties of the lotus leaf,
scientists in China have found a
way to impart a fog-free, selfcleaning finish to glass and other
transparent materials says the
journalApplied Physics Letters .

Besides finding the first


circumbinary planet, NASAs
Kepler mission has discovered
multiple transiting planets
orbiting two suns for the first time.

Cheap, most efficient solar


cells created

Oldest occurrence of
preserved arthropods

Research published in Nature


Nano technology describes a
breakthrough in the development
of colloidal quantum dot (CQD)
films, leading to the most efficient
CQD solar cell ever created out of
inexpensive materials.

Scientists have found the oldest


record of arthropods which
include insects, arachnids, and
crustaceans preserved in amber.
The specimens are 100 million
years older than any other amber
arthropod ever found.

70

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Stem Cell Therapy to


prevent Osteoarthritis

New system that could


predict solar flares

As varying decay rates of atoms


due to solar activity lead to
differences in gamma radiation,
Purdue University researchers
have found a method to predict
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solar flares more than a day before
they occur.

may still have unwanted effects on


modern populations of the species.

Releasing GM algae in the


wild may be risky

Coconut water is an
excellent sports drink

Scientists, in the journal


BioScience , say they need to know
whether some types of algae,
genetically engineered for use as
fuel, could produce toxins or
harmful algal blooms in the wild.

Coconut water is a natural drink


that has everything your average
sports drink has and more. It has
five times more potassium than
Gatorade or Powerade, the
American Chemical Society
concluded recently.

Sperms grown from skin to


treat infertility

Scientists claim to have


successfully created early-stage
sperms from human skin that could
potentially help infertile men,
including survivors of childhood
cancer.
Software simplifies dolphin
identification

A computer program simplifies


photo-identification of bottlenose
dolphins by applying computer
vision and signal processing
techniques to automate much of the
tedious manual photo-id process.
Smiling facilitates stress
recovery: study

A
study
forthcoming
in
Psychological Science , shows that
smiling during brief stressors can
help to reduce the intensity of the
bodys stress response, regardless
of whether a person actually feels
happy.
Cross-breedings effect on
American bison

Scientists writing in Conservation


Biology are exploring how the
cross-breeding of bison with
domestic cattle in the late 1800s
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Maps reduce tourisms


impact on dolphins

Preventive measures in a small


number of bays, identified by maps
created by a study, rather than
limiting access to dolphins along
the entire coast of Hawaii benefits
tourists and tourism operators as
well as the dolphins.
Role of nature parks in
saving biodiversity

Some of the tropical nature parks


are in danger of sinking, though
they are our best hope to sustain
tropical forests and their amazing
biodiversity in perpetuity, says a
study in Nature of more than 30
different categories of species.
Third of organisms live in
rocks, sediments

By some estimates, a third of the


Earths organisms by mass live in
rocks and sediments, yet their lives
and ecology are almost a complete
mystery.
Dark chocolate, cocoa may
cut blood pressure

Research in The Cochrane Library


reviewed evidence from trials in
which participants were given

dark chocolate or cocoa powder


daily and found that their blood
pressure
dropped
slightly
compared to a control group.
Nanotechnology for solar
panel efficiency

A University of Houston researcher


has developed a nanoparticle
coating for solar panels that makes
it easier to keep them clean. This
helps in keeping them efficient and
cuts maintenance costs.
Electronic nose prototype
developed

An electronic nose prototype that


can detect small quantities of
harmful airborne substances has
been developed.
Pandas are selective while
scent marking

Pandas have many ways to


communicate when they are ready
for close contact. One way is scent
marking. A study shows that
pandas clearly, specifically select
trees to use for scent marking, so
that the scent lasts longer.
Bending light waves on
surfboards

A University of Exeter scientist is


using foam from inside surfboards
to make materials that can
manipulate light.
Asian Ladybugs in Europe
turn pests

The Asian ladybug, introduced


into Europe to combat aphids, is
displacing the native European
ladybird and has become a pest
that can contaminate homes say
findings in the journal PLoS One.

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DNA sharing of modern
human, Neanderthal

Humpback whales delaying


migrations

Annihilating effects of
gamma rays

A study at the University of


Cambridge suggests that common
ancestry, not hybridisation, better
explains the average 1-4 per cent
DNA that those of European and
Asian descent (Eurasians) share
with Neanderthals.

Humpback whales are remaining


along the Western Antarctic
Peninsula to feast on krill late into
the austral autumn, long after their
migrations to distant breeding
grounds usually begin, says a
Duke University study.

Gamma-ray
photons
seen
emanating from the centre of the
Milky Way galaxy are consistent
with the possibility that darkmatter particles are annihilating
each other, say University of
California Irvine astrophysicists.

Nanoparticles in soil affect


soybean crops

In the first major study of soybeans


grown in soil contaminated by two
manufactured nanomaterials
(MNMs), it was found that crop
yield and quality are affected by
the addition of MNMs.
Soil bacteria help plant in
thwarting infection

One extinction leads to


another

When a carnivore becomes extinct,


other predatory species could
soon follow, according to new
research.
Primate study helps predict
human diseases

With the help of beneficial bacteria,


plants can slam the door on disease
pathogens, University of Delaware
researchers have discovered. Soil
bacteria at the plants roots signal
the leaf pores to close, thwarting
infection.

A new study has investigated how


diseases are shared among species
of primates with a view to
predicting what diseases may
emerge in humans in the future.
The findings aim to help in the
fight against these diseases.

Airborne technology sheds


light on tree loss

Disturbed forests, key to


greater bio-diversity

3-D mapping by Light Detection


and Ranging technology on the
Carnegie Airborne Observatory
reveals that elephants play a big
role in toppling trees in the African
savannah.

Bio-diversity of forests hammered


by windstorms, avalanches,
wildfires and volcanic eruptions
can be maximised by land
managers by altering their
practices and creating areas with
a wide variety of species.

Obesity, a risk factor in


faster cognitive decline

People who are obese and also


have high blood pressure and
other risk factors called metabolic
abnormalities may experience a
faster decline in their cognitive
skills over time than others,
according to a study in Neurology.
72

Meditation reduces
loneliness

Researchers at University of
California Los Angeles report that
a simple meditation programme
lasting just eight weeks reduced
loneliness in older adults.

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Antioxidant levels in sweet


potato raised

A simple, inexpensive electric


current treatment increases sweet
potatos content of healthful
polyphenols or antioxidants by 60
per cent, scientists said at a
conference of the American
Chemical Society.
Egg yolk almost as bad as
smoking for heart

A paper published in the journal


Atherosclerosis shows that eating
egg
yolks
accelerates
atherosclerosis in a manner similar
to smoking cigarettes, causing
build-up of carotid plaque.
Robotic hand can disable
IEDs

Researchers have developed a


cost-effective robotic hand that can
be used in disarming improvised
explosive devices, or IEDs.
Earliest modern human
fossil in SE Asia found

An ancient skull recovered in Laos


is the oldest modern human fossil
found in Southeast Asia. The
discovery pushes back the clock
on modern human migration
through the region by as much as
20,000 years.
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Objective Questions

1. Consider
the
following
statements about IMD.
1. Indian Institute of Tropical
meteorology is situated in
Panji
2. IMD has classified the
monsoon rain fall into 3
categories
Which of the above statement are
true?
(a) 1 & 2
(b) Only 1
(c) Only 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
2. Consider
the
following
Statements.
1. Curiosity rover will test the
Mars Soil after it lands on the
Planet.
2. Curiosity will help pave the
way for future named Mars
Mission.
Which of the above statements
are correct?
(a) Only 1
(b) Only 2
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
3. The condition is an autosomal
congenital disorder which leads
to narrowing of the heart value,
formation of multiple holes in the
heart and depressed breast bone.
The above symptoms is related
to which syndrome.
(a) Noonan Syndrome
(b) Vascular Syndrome
(c) Pataya Syndrome
(d) None of these
4. Which of the above statements
is/are correct?
(a) Both 1 & 2 (b) Only 1
(c) Only 2
(d) Neither 1 & 2
5. Among hepatitis viruses A, B, C,
D & E which kind of Hepatitis
present the greatest danger
through periodic outboards ?

http://upscportal.com

6.

7.

8.

9.

(a) B & C
(b) B & D
(c) D & E
(d) All of Them
The Atomic Energy Regulatory
Board (AERB) on Friday accorded
the much - awaited approval for
initial fuel loading of reactor 1 at
the Kudankulam Nuclear Power
Project. AERB is headed by
(a) S. S. Bajaj
(b) Som Mittal
(c) Anil Kakodkar
(d) C. N. Rao
An India company has recently
signed an agreement with
UNITAID promoted medicines for
Developing Countries
(a) Cipla
(b) Dr. Reddy
(c) Ranbaxy
(d) Hetero drugs
Consider
the
following
statements:
1. In 2008, Government of India
adopted the Guidelines
developed
by
the
International Commission on
Non-Ionizing
Radiation
Protection from mobile
towers.
2. The values chosen for the
permissible Power Density
(Mobile radiation) are 4.5 W/
Sqm for 900 Mhz & 9 W/Sqm
for 1800 Mhz.
Which of the above statement are/
is true ?
(a) Only 1
(b) Both 1 & 2
(c) Neither 1 nor 2
(d) Only 2
Consider
the
following
statements:
1. International Rice Research
Institute is situated in Dhaka.
2. Kasalath gene present in a
specific (aus-type) rice variety.
Which of the above statement are/
is true ?

(a) Only 2
(b) Only 1
(c) Both 1 & 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
10. Consider the following statements
about PATH (Programme for
appropriate Technology in
Health):
1. PATH is responsible for
controversial clinical trial
2. PATH has used HPV (Human
Papillama Virus) for clinical
trial.
Which of the above statement is/
are true ?
(a) Both 1 & 2
(b) Only 1
(c) Only 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
11. Consider the following
statements:
1. 10 Nuclear Power Plants of
India comes under the AERB
(Atomic Energy Regulatory
Board).
2. Meckani
Committee
recommended that the
Nuclear Regulator be created
as a statutory Body.
3. Kudankulam Nuclear Project
will operate by AERB.
Which of the above statement are/
is true ?
(a) 1 & 2
(b) 1, 2 & 3
(c) 1 & 3
(d) 1 & 2

Answers
1.
3.
5.
7.
9.
11.

(d)
(a)
(a)
(d)
(a)
(a)

2.
4.
6.
8.
10.

(c)
(d)
(a)
(b)
(a)

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