What a year it has been for Indian science! From indigenous transistors to help India's Internet of things to solutions to living in harmony with wild animals we have seen it all. Here we take a look at the highlighs of Indian research in 2017.
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A galaxy supercluster is the largest known structure in the Universe, made of dozens of galaxy clusters, themselves containing thousands of galaxies. The Saraswati Supercluster, discovered this year by a team of Indian scientists, is the largest known galaxy cluster today. It extends over 650 million light years across and weighs more than 20 billion suns would. We caught up with Prof. Joydeep Bagchi, who led the team that discovered Saraswati Supercluster, for a chat about the importance and implications of the discovery.
Transistors are the backbone of the zillion electronic devices that we use today. While development of these semiconductor devices dates back to four decades, it's applications are ever increasing. Internet of Things is the new application that is transforming the development of transistors. In view of this, scientists at IIT Bombay and SCL ISRO have developed a new kind of Bipolar Junction Transistor that is completely indigenous. The researchers believe a home made technology can see its application in strategic sectors like space and defence.
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.
Missions to the outer space always bring a sense of excitement in the scientific community and hope to find answers to one haunting question - do aliens exist? The Cassini-Huygens mission, launched to orbit Saturn and study its moon - Titan, is no different. Although it has not yet found a convincing answer to the question, it has revealed various facets about the majestic planet, its spectacular rings and the splendid moons. And of course, the possibility of finding life based on many earth-like conditions in the atmosphere of one of Saturn’s moons. Come September, the glorious journey of this spacecraft comes to an end after two eventful decades. Here is a wishing Cassini-Huygens a long goodbye.
A protective sheath covering the earth, bombarding cosmic rays, violent storms in the upper atmosphere – these are not figments of imagination from a sci-fi novel but are rather accurate descriptions of the space surrounding the earth. In fact, the space around our planet is chock full of high energy particles whizzing around, like the solar wind, a steady stream of charged particles emanating from the sun and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR), ultra high energy particles of cosmic origins travelling at nearly the speed of light. Why then don’t we have to bother about the effects of such high energy particles that can affect our electronic gadgets and damage our DNA? The answer is the geomagnetic field, the magnetic field of the earth, extending from the core out into space a distance of several earth radii, forming a region around the earth called the magnetosphere.The GMF acts as our natural shield by deflecting high energy charged particles away from the earth.