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.
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Technology has provided the best solutions for many of our problems. One such day-to-day problem faced by civic authorities is estimating the number of people in a crowd or a gathering so that they can manage the crowd better without any incidents. A new study by researchers has proposed a novel crowd counting technique using the concepts of neural networks. This algorithm, the researchers claim, can count crowds that swell in a short period or those that have varying number of people spread out.
India’s Information and Technology industry has served as a great success story for the outsourcing model. However, in order to sustain the growing competition and provide increasing value proposition, the industry must innovate and carve a niche for domestic talent too. In the recent past, the rise of IT clusters - geographical aggregation of related companies in IT -- have emerged as a ray of hope that not only provides jobs, but also enhances the value proposition, thanks to the ample talent pool. A new study has now identified factors that have led to the growth of these IT clusters in the metropolitan cities of India and the model followed by these clusters to spread to other cities.
In a world revolutionised by technology, education is not far behind. In fact, pundits predict moder education, delivered online, will be the great equalizer in days to come. In our own backyard, looks like this is already in action in the form of virtual labs developed to better understand plant biochemistry. By giving free and online access to students across the country, the recently developed virtual labs take education to a whole new level benefiting students from all corners of the country.
This year’s National Science Day, celebrated to commemorate the discovery of Dr. C V Raman’s ‘Raman Effect’, is themed around ‘Science and Technology for Specially Abled Persons’. One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability today, and the prevalence of disability is highest in developing countries like India. A report by World Bank estimates that about 110-190 million of them experience significant disabilities. ‘Persons with disabilities’ or PwDs include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in the society.
Imagine you call a taxi using one of the numerous cab aggregating apps and you find a “ghost” driver - well actually, no driver at all! If you think it is a page out of a science fiction, think again as Autonomous Vehicles (AV) or self-driving vehicles are already in operation in some cities of the world on a small scale. Nutonomy, a Singapore-based startup, became the world’s first company to test a self-driving taxi service in Singapore on August 25, 2016. Just a few weeks later, on September 14, 2016, Uber, the biggest cab aggregator service, launched its first self-driving taxi fleet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. You will hear more such news in the days to come as AVs are expected to replace conventional driver-driven vehicles by 2020 or sooner. A study by Business Insider estimates about 10 million self-driving cars to be on roads by 2020.
In a multinational collaborative study, researchers have designed a novel mobile app that can help novice designers in converting existing artifacts or mechanical objects into abstract representations. Prof. Amaresh Chakrabarti from the Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and his team, consisting of researchers from Taiwan, have used Augmented Reality to build this tool that can aid design innovation.