Rainfall extremes have had devastating effects in the country, including floods in Gujarat and landslides in Darjeeling, both of which claimed many lives. With a warming climate, such extreme rainfall events are only going to increase.
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Today, India’s space programs command the world’s respect for a multitude of things -- our Mangalyaan mission was the cheapest ever, we recently launched about 108 satellites into space with a single rocket, our Chandrayaan mission is making fantastic discoveries on the Moon, we launched our own space based observatory with Astrosat...the list goes on. But when the country started its space program, it had very humble beginnings that are hard to believe. It required the courage and determination of many intellectuals and Prof. U R Rao is one of those who scripted a new chapter in India’s history of space research. Here is an orbituary piece dedicated to the life of a great visionary that we just lost amongst us.
Getting stuck in a huge traffic jam is a tragedy, especially if you live in cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai or Delhi. The rising number of vehicles are increasingly adding to this problem, depriving us of our time, money and health. A new research now attempts to reduce traffic pileups in cities by using videos of surveillance cameras. Using Artificial Intelligence and Convolutional Neural Networks, the researcher have built TraCount, a system that can count the number of vehicles in a traffic jam and help authorities manage the congestion in a smart and informed way.
A visit to a doctor for minor ailments may soon be a thing of the past, with rapid rise in medical technologies. Nowadays, a smartphone can help with disease diagnosis and contacting the relevant specialists from around the world, all from the comfort of one’s home. Mobile Healthcare or mHealth has been significantly advanced with the advent of Internet of Things, where sensors can feed live data to specialists, who can monitor patients from miles away. This rapid rise of mHealth has some worried about the security aspects of the software.
What if a shoe could save your life when you are stuck in a building that is burning down? Though it sounds like a science fiction, the OpenShoe project aims to do exactly that! Built on a novel navigation technology called Inertial Navigation System (INS), researchers have built a minute navigation module that can be plugged into a shoe to track every step to the accuracy of a centimeter! Such foot-mounted systems help in tracking objects in the absence of satellite based navigation and would complement the widely used satellite based navigation systems, say the researchers.
Ever since its emergence as a field of science in the 1980’s, Nanotechnology has seeped into every aspect of our lives. From embedded in toothpaste to materials space shuttles are made of, nanoparticles can be found on earth, on the surface and floating in the atmosphere. Accidentally consuming a few nanoparticles either while breathing or eating is all but unavoidable. But the effects of these nanoparticles on the human body haven’t yet been been fully understood.
Nanotechnology is the study of objects whose size varies in the range of nanometers--that is a billion times smaller than a meter. Although humans have been known to use nanotechnology since the ninth century, its role became prominent with the rise of information technology, with most of our current technologies like the smart phones, satellites and rovers on mars, depending on nanotechnology. We have just started uncovering the properties of the different elements and molecules at this scale, giving rise to new technologies as we do.
Ever since Einstein’s theory predicted their existence, Black holes have captivated our imaginations. They are formed when sufficient mass collapses, whether through a supernova explosion or gravitational influence, to form a compact object, with gravity so high that not even light can escape its pull. Supermassive black holes are found at the center of most of the currently known galaxies and can weigh as much as a billion times more than our Sun.
While open defecation has well known health risks, toilets with sewage pits come with their own drawbacks. One of them is the contamination of ground water due to sewage leachate -- the water that seeps into the soil from the pit and has extremely toxic levels of nitrates, ammonium and organic carbon. These toxins are known to contaminate ground water making it unfit for drinking. Now scientists have designed a twin-pit toilet system that reduces the levels of nitrates, ammonium and organic carbon in the sewage water before it is being absorbed by the ground. This treated water, the researchers say, have low levels of toxins, making it safe and saving water bodies from contamination due to sewage.
Zirconium is a hard and ductile metal with high resistance to corrosion and low absorption of thermal neutrons, like the ones produced in a nuclear reactor, making them extremely useful as cladding for fuel rods in nuclear reactors. Zr-1Nb is an alloy of Zirconium and Niobium, which is one of the common alloys used as cladding. Processing of Zr-1Nb usually takes place in two phases to get the right microstructure of the alloy and perform optimally as a cladding agent.