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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - June 2020

Jun 2020

Jun 29, 2020

Scientists Trace Genes that Aid and Stem Spread of the Virus

  • Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9, scientists have traced some of the genes that either aid or stem the spread of Sars-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease, in cells that were infected with the virus.
  • The screening of such genes can help them understand how the pathogen replicates in the human body, and point them towards potential treatments and vaccines that can target specific genes and cellular processes to stop the virus.
  • In the study, scientists snipped specific genes in cultured African green monkey cells – which are susceptible to Covid-19 – and infected those gene-edited cells with Sars-CoV-2 to identify "pro viral" or "anti viral" genes.
  • Researchers also traced genes and pathways that assist the virus in replicating. These include a group of proteins that help package the DNA – called the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex – and components of the TGF-β (Transforming Growth Factor- Beta) signaling pathway, a family of proteins that plays a critical role in the growth of cells and their development.

Jun 26, 2020

Health Ministry and Indian Red Cross Jointly Launch 'eBloodServices' App

  • In order to save the needy from anemia in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has launched 'eBloodServices' mobile app developed by the ERaktkosh team of C-DAC (Development of Advanced Computing) India for easy access to blood needed for transfusion.
  • The mobile app is an initiative of the Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) with the aim of 'Safe blood saves lives' will be available in entire Delhi-NCR initially.
  • They can demand up to 4 units of blood & the blood banks of the Indian Red Cross Society will wait for them for 12 hours. The order will be diverted to the next patient only after the original recipient fails to collect it within 12 hours.
  • Red Cross blood bank had launched blood donation camps by sending mobile blood collection units to various localities in and around Delhi NCR.
  • It has also provided pick and drop facility to voluntary blood donors.

Jun 25, 2020

Cabinet Nod for Private Sector in Space

  • The Union cabinet approved the formation of a new organization, the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), seeking to open up space infrastructure to the private sector.
  • IN-SPACe will provide a level playing field for private sector companies to use Indian space infrastructure, he said. "It will also hand-hold, promote and guide the private industries in space activities.
  • The far-reaching reforms in the space sector are aimed at boosting the private sector's participation in the entire range of space activities. "This will unlock India's potential in the space sector.
  • The new organisation will play a supplementary role to the Indian Space Research Organisation, formed in 1969, to harness space technology for national development while pursuing space science research and planetary exploration.
  • The public sector New Space India Limited (NSIL) will endeavour to reorient space activities from a supply-driven to a demand-driven model, thereby ensuring optimum use of space assets.
  • The proposed reforms will enhance the socio-economic use of space assets and activities, including through improved access to space assets, data and facilities.

Jun 23, 2020

China Launches Final Satellite in Challenge to GPS

  • China successfully put into orbit the final satellite in its BeiDou-3 navigation system, further advancing the country as a major power in space.
  • This launch allows China to no longer rely on the US government-owned Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • The $10bn (£8bn) network is made up of 35 satellites and provides global navigation coverage.
  • It comes as tensions between Beijing and Washington are increasing over the coronavirus, trade and Hong Kong.
  • The launch had been scheduled for last week but was delayed after technical problems were found with the rocket in pre-launch tests.
  • The third version of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) offers an alternative to Russia's GLONASS and the European Galileo systems, as well as America's GPS.
  • Future plans promise to support a more accessible and integrated system scheduled to come online by 2035 with BDS at its core.

IIT-Bombay Develops 'Dhruva', Indian Receiver Chip for NAVIC, GPS Satellites

  • IIT-Bombay has developed a homegrown receiver chip - Dhruva – that can be used in smartphones and navigation devices to find locations and routes within the country. Dhruva will receive signals from India's NAVIC group of navigation satellites as well as the US Global Positioning System-based satellites to determine these accurately under all weather conditions.
  • The radio frequency receiver chip was designed in 18 months by students and researchers at IIT Bombay. It can receive in multiple frequency bands and handle weak signals.

Jun 21, 2020

Meteorite-like Object Falls from Sky in Rajasthan

  • A meteorite-like object weighing around 2.8 kg fell from the sky in Sanchore town of Rajasthan's Jalore district. The mysterious object, which is believed to be worth crores of rupees, created a one-foot-deep crater in the ground.
  • The object was hot when local government officials went to check it.
  • The mysterious object was tested in a private lab located at the jeweller's shop in Sanchore and after testing it was found that the piece had metallic properties of Germanium, Platinium, Nickel and Iron.
  • Geologists in the Geographical Survey of India's Ahmedabad and Jaipur office have been called to test the object.

IIT Mandi Develops Herbal Infusion Technology to Help Farmers

  • Researchers of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi have developed a herbal infusion technology, as a source of income for local marginal farmers in the mid-Himalayas.
  • The Researchers from the institute's Botanical Garden and Medicinal Plant Lab have analysed a variety of herbs growing in the mid-Himalayan region in & around the villages around IIT Mandi, Kamand region to create value added products in the form of herbal infusions known for their health benefits (mainly rich in antioxidants).
  • The technology is ready to license industries interested in working with Enabling Women of Kamand(EWOK)- a rural incubator at IIT Mandi, in the interest of empowering the Kamand Valley farmers.
  • At present the researchers have successfully formulated 9 different herbal infusions with constituents such as tulsi, mint, rose, amla, bayleaf, turmeric, rhododendron and lemongrass.
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