Top 10 Science & Tech Events August – 2016


To make this compilation we have used the following sources –

  • PIB
  • AIR
  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • Economic Times
  • Other References

So be assured about quality and authenticity and just focus on preparation.

In this article, we have shared Science and Tech current affairs notes which are helpful for UPSC Mains and UPSC Prelims. These notes are also available in the form of Book and ebook.

These current events are also useful and helpful for SSC, Banking and state level PCS examination, but we have specially crafted and edited the notes for UPSC Mains and UPSC prelims.

Here we have listed the 10 most important events of Science & Tech for the month of January 2016. You may also download the full magazine here.

Here is the quick list of science and tech events for the month of June 2016, scroll down for detailed news.

  1. New areas of the brain identified

  2. World’s 1st human genetic editing trial

  3. Endosulfan causes DNA damage

  4. Habitats for Mars mission

  5. Potential site for the TMT

  6. New Earth-like planet unveiled

  7. Future climate predictions

  8. BARC develops detection kit of Cr(VI)

  9. Murray Buttes

  10. A new Goldilocks for habitable planets


1. New areas of the brain identified

For the first time novel expression sites in the brain have been identified for a gene which is associated with Motor Neuron Disease and Frontotemporal Dementia. Many people who develop Motor Neuron Disease, also called Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and/or Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) have abnormal repeats of nucleotides within a gene called C9orf72 which causes neurons to die. A team from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath discovered for the first time that the C9orf72 gene is strongly expressed in the hippocampus of the mouse brain- a region where adult stem cells reside and which is known to be important for memory.

What

  1. C9orf72 is also expressed at the olfactory bulb, involved in the sense of smell. Loss of smell is sometimes a symptom in FTD.
  2. They also found that the C9orf72 protein changes from being concentrated in the cytoplasm of cells to both the cytoplasm and nucleus as the brain cortex develops, and during the development of neurons.
  3. Dr Vasanta Subramanian, who led the study, said: “By uncovering novel sites of expression in the brain our findings provide an important resource for researchers studying animal models of C9orf72 mediated ALS and FTD.

 


2. World’s 1st human genetic editing trial

Chinese scientists will perform the world’s first genetic editing trial on humans this month, in an attempt to find a cure for lung cancer. A group of oncologist at the West China Hospital of Sichuan University, Chengdu, will inject patients with cells that have been modified using the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technique, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

What

  1. CRISPR, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, was named “2015 Breakthrough of the Year” by the US journal Science.
  2. It allows scientists to selectively edit genome parts and replace them with new DNA stretches. Cas9 is an enzyme that can edit DNA, allowing the alteration of genetic patterns by genome modification.

3. Endosulfan causes DNA damage

For the first time, researchers in India have found that mice and rats exposed to endosulphan suffer from DNA damage and genomic instability, and impaired DNA damage response. The results published on August 4 in the journal, Carcinogenesis, by a team of researchers led by Prof. Sathees Raghavan from the Department of Biochemistry, IISc, Bengaluru show that endosulfan — an organochlorine pesticide — induces breaks in DNA strands and disturbs the damage response mechanism found in cells thus leading to compromised DNA strand repair.

What

  1. The team found mice and rats exposed to endosulfan generated reactive oxygen species, a potent DNA damaging agent.
  2. The reactive oxygen species, in turn, caused DNA damage in the form of breaks in DNA strands.

4. Habitats for Mars mission

NASA has selected six US companies to help develop prototypes and concepts of deep space habitats for future manned missions to Mars. Habitation systems provide a safe place for humans to live as we move beyond Earth on our journey to Mars, NASA said.

What

  • NASA is on an ambitious expansion of human spaceflight, including the journey to Mars, and we’re utilising the innovation, skill and knowledge of the both the government and private sectors,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems.
  • The next human exploration capabilities needed beyond the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule are deep space, long duration habitation and in-space propulsion.

 


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5. Potential site for the TMT

Hanle in Ladakh has been identified as one of the potential alternate sites for the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT). The original site for TMT was Mauna Kea in Hawaii in the United States of America. The construction work for TMT at Mauna Kea was started but had to be stalled due to revocation of Permit by orders of the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

What

  1. India’s participation in the TMT project is being jointly funded and overseen by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), with DST as the Lead Agency. DST has received clearances from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of External Affairs for hosting TMT at Hanle in Ladakh.
  2. This project, led by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, visited the region and have completed measurements of the key scientific parameter, viz. ‘Atmospheric turbulence or Seeing measured in arc-second’.

6. New Earth-like planet unveiled

Scientists are preparing to unveil a new planet in our galactic neighbourhood which is “believed to be Earth-like” and orbits its star at a distance that could favour life, German weekly Der Spiegel reported. The exoplanet orbits a well-investigated star called Proxima Centauri, part of the AlphaCentauri star system, the magazine said, quoting anonymous sources.

What

  • The still nameless planet is believed to be Earth-like and orbits at a distance to Proxima Centauri that could allow it to have liquid water on its surface — an important requirement for the emergence of life.
  • Never before have scientists discovered a second Earth that is so close by.

7. Future climate predictions

A team of British climate scientists comparing today’s environment with the warm period before the last ice age has discovered a 65% reduction of Antarctic sea ice around 128,000 years ago. The finding is an important contribution towards the challenge of making robust predictions about the Earth’s future climate.

What

  1. Reporting this week in the journal Nature Communications scientists describe how by reconstructing the Earth’s climate history through analysis of Antarctic ice cores they can determine what environmental conditions were like during ice ages and past warm periods. This study focussed on sea ice conditions during the most recent warm period – known as the last interglacial– when global temperatures were similar to today.
  2. Sea ice in the Arctic and around Antarctica regulates climate as, in summer vast areas of whiteness reflect heat from the sun back into the atmosphere, whilst in winter, sea ice prevents heat from escaping from the warm ocean to the air. Current climate models forecast a reduction in Antarctic sea ice of up to about 60% by the end of the next century. Finding a 65% reduction in the climate record during a time when global climate conditions were similar to the present day is especially relevant.

 


8. BARC develops detection kit of Cr(VI)

Chromium is widely used in various industries like leather, steel, chrome plating, paint manufacturing, wood preservation etc. Untreated effluents from these industries cause widespread contamination of water has been reported in several parts of the country.

What

  1. Chromium in the environment primarily exists as Trivalent Chromium Cr(III)and Hexavalent Chromium Cr(VI). The later is toxic and the World Health Organization has classified it as carcinogenic and can cause stomach ulcers and cancers and severe damage to kidneys and liver.
  2. As per Indian standard IS10500 for drinking water, the maximum permissible concentration of Cr(VI) in drinking water is 50 micrograms per litre. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a still lower permissible concentration of 10 micrograms per liter.

9. Murray Buttes

NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has captured a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of features called ‘Murray Buttes’, combining more than 130 images taken on the fourth anniversary of probe’s landing on the red planet. The image was acquired by the Mast Camera (Mastcam) on as the rover neared on lower Mount Sharp on Mars, during the afternoon of the mission’s 1,421st Martian day.

What

  • The visual drama of Murray Buttes along Curiosity’s planned route up lower Mount Sharp was anticipated when the site was informally named nearly three years ago, NASA said.
  • A butte is an isolated hill with steep, often vertical sides and a small, relatively flat top. Mesa is an elevated area that has a top that is wider than its height, while a butte has a top that is narrower than its height.

10. A new Goldilocks for habitable planets

The search for habitable, alien worlds needs to make room for a second “Goldilocks,” according to a Yale University researcher. For decades, it has been thought that the key factor in determining whether a planet can support life was its distance from its sun. In our solar system, for instance, Venus is too close to the sun and Mars is too far, but Earth is just right. That distance is what scientists refer to as the “habitable zone,” or the “Goldilocks zone.”

What

  1. It also was thought that planets were able to self-regulate their internal temperature via mantle convection — the underground shifting of rocks caused by internal heating and cooling. A planet might start out too cold or too hot, but it would eventually settle into the right temperature.
  2. A new study, appearing in the journal Science Advances on Aug. 19, suggests that simply being in the habitable zone isn’t sufficient to support life. A planet also must start with an internal temperature that is just right.



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