Science & Technology Current Affairs Summary: Dec 2017 – May 2018
- Scientists have discovered world’s second oldest grain of magmatic zircon (a mineral that contains traces of radioactive isotopes) from Champua from Singhbhum rock sample in Odisha’s Kendujhar district. It is an estimated 4,240 million years old, making it world’s second oldest rock ever to be discovered. It is oldest magmatic zircon on earth.
- The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Delhi has installed Massive Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output (MIMO) lab on campus for standardisation, R&D and manufacturing of 5G equipment. It will be the first of its kind 5G lab in the country and has been set-up at Bharti School of Telecommunication Technology and Management.
- Researchers from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee have identified two small potent molecules Pep-I and Pep-II, for their inhibitory activity to treat Chikungunya disease.
- Researchers have discovered the world’s smallest land fern named Malvi’s adder’s-tongue fern (Ophioglossum malviae) in Ahwa forests of Western Ghats in Gujarat’s Dang district. Ferns are seasonal and mostly grow with first monsoon rains.
- Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into Technology Transfer Agreement (TTA) with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to transfer technology for manufacturing space grade Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) cells.
- Marshall Islands in Pacific Ocean is set to become first country in world to recognize cryptocurrency as its legal tender. The parliament of island passed law to create the digital currency called “Sovereign”; with symbol SOV. SOV is based on permissioned protocol, dubbed “‘Yokwe”, which requires blockchain users of this distal currency to authenticate and identify themselves, thus avoid anonymity that has kept other cryptocurrencies from gaining support from governments.
- The Chinese electronic device and smartphone maker Huawei unveiled Balong 5G01, world’s first 5G chip at Mobile World Congress 2018 held in Barcelona, Spain.
- Scientists from Botanical Survey of India (BSI) have identified new plant species named Drypetes kalamii from Buxa and Jaldapara National Parks in West Bengal. It has been named after former President of India, Dr APJ Kalam. The new species is close relative of medicinal plant known in Sanskrit as Putrajivah.
- Bharti Airtel and Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei successfully conducted India’s first 5G (fifth generation) network trial. The trial was conducted at Airtel’s network experience centre in Manesar, Gurugram (Haryana) and was able to achieve over 3 gigabit per second (Gbps) data speed.
- India’s indigenous developed light transport aircraft SARAS PT1N has successfully completed second test-flight.
- Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has signed an intent agreement with Maharashtra Government to build world’s first hyperloop transportation system. Consequently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on first day of Magnetic Maharashtra investor summit laid the foundation stone for project, to be developed between Mumbai and Pune.
- Scientists have confirmed discovery of nearly 100 new exoplanets outside our solar system based on data from second mission of NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope (K2 mission) released in 2014. With this total number of exoplanets found using NASA’s K2 mission has reached almost 300.
- Russian space agency Roskosmos successfully launched Progress MS-08, an unmanned cargo spacecraft for the International Space Station (ISS).
- Google launched ‘#SecurityCheckKiya’ campaign in India to create awareness around Internet safety. It was launched on the occasion of Safer Internet Day (6 February).
- Rotavac became first Indigenously developed vaccine from India to be pre-qualified by World Health Organisation (WHO). Rotavac protects against childhood diarrhoea caused by the rotavirus. It was developed under the joint collaboration between India and United States in area of medical research.
- India’s fastest and first multi-petaflops (PF) supercomputer named Pratyush was unveiled at Pune-based Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).
- California-based Private spaceflight company SpaceX has launched secret Zuma Mission for US government. It was launched on board of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Cape Canaveral Air For Force Station in Florida, US.
- State owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is planning to introduce carbon dioxide (CO2) injection technology in its Gandhar oil field in Gujarat. It will be first large scale CO2-injected project in Asia.
- This year, NASA will launch two missions — GOLD and ICON to explore the ionosphere, located 96 km above Earth’s surface.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has given its pre-qualification to Typbar Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine (TVC) developed by Hyderabad based Bharat Biotech. Typbar TCV is world’s first typhoid vaccine clinically proven to be administered to children from six months of age to adults, and confers long-term protection against typhoid fever.
- China’s indigenous AG600, also known as ‘Kunlong’, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft took off took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landafter roughly an hour-long flight.
- India ranked 109th out of 122 countries in the mobile internet speed and 76th out of 133 countries in broadband space in the November 2017 Speedtest Global Index. The index was released by Ookla. Norway had the highest mobile internet speed.
- Scientists from New Zealand have developed world’s first artificial intelligence politician named SAM.
- ISRO is set to launch first solar mission Aditya-L1 in 2019. It will be India’s first dedicated scientific mission to study Sun.
- AGCuTe: Researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bengaluru, have developed silver copper telluride (AgCuTe), a novel compound that exhibits poor thermal conductivity but shows good electrical conductivity.
- AYUSH QOL-2C: The Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS) has undertaken development of coded drug AYUSH QOL-2C for improving quality of life in cancer patients.
- India-United Kingdom (UK) Joint Team has won Newton-Bhabha Fund for project on Groundwater Arsenic Research in Ganga River Basin. The project was undertaken by Department of Science and Technology (DST) in collaboration with Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK to find solutions to water challenges faced in pervasively arsenic-affected Ganga River Basin.
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF’s) has given environmental clearance to India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project to be set up in Bodi West hills in Tamil Nadu.
- Prime Minister Modi inaugurated 105th session of Indian Science Congress (ISC) at Manipur Central University in Imphal. The focal theme of 5-day ISC is “Reaching the Unreached Through Science & Technology”.
- Scientists have discovered new frog species named <em>Microhyla kodial or Mangaluru narrow-mouthed frog in a small industrial region in coastal Karnataka. It is christened Microhyla kodial after city of Mangaluru (called kodial in Konkani language) from where they spotted it two years ago.
- The Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) has claimed that India’s first cloned Assamese buffalo male calf named Sach-Gaurav was born in Hisar, Haryana. It was born to Murrah buffalo, at Hi Tech Sach Dairy Farm, 100 kms from cloning laboratory, making it first buffalo calf to be born in field. This is second cloned male buffalo produced by ICAR-CIRB after Hisar-Gaurav, born in December 2015.
- India’s Department of Space (DoS) and European Union (EU) have signed cooperation agreement related to sharing of earth observation satellite data. The agreement aims to strengthen and stimulate cooperation on earth observation and mutual access to data from EU’s Sentinel series of satellites and from Indian earth observation satellites.
- The Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), an Indore-based unit of Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has developed an instrument called Fluorimeter, to measure traces of uranium in water.
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched GSAT 6A communication satellite on board of GSLV-F08 rocket from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This was overall 12th GSLV flight (and fifth successful) and sixth flight with indigenously built cryogenic upper stage engine. ISRO lost contact with the satellite 48 hours later.
- Scientists at ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) are developing environment-friendly propellant propellant blend based on hydroxylammonium nitrate (HAN) to power satellites and spacecraft. It seeks to replace conventional hydrazine fuel for future missions.
- InSingh Mission: NASA will send first-ever mission named as InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) dedicated to exploring the deep interior of Mars.
- NASA successfully conducted Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) to test supersonic parachute that will help its space exploration missions to land on Mars. The parachute was launched aboard of sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in US. It was tested in sky, mimicking conditions of entering red planet.
- NASA’s will launch humanity’s first mission Parker Solar Probe (PSP) to the Sun in July 31, 2018.
- Cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi that can take over electronic devices and use them for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
- Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a Central government body that deals with cyberattacks has so far has not issued any alert regarding Saposhi malware.
- Other similar malware are Reaper, Mirai etc.
Tiangong-1 & spacecraft cemetery
China’s out-of-control Tiangong-1 space lab landed in middle of the South Pacific Ocean near world’s ‘spacecraft cemetery or graveyard’. Most of its parts were burned up during gravity-propelled re-entry process.
Space Craft Cemetery
The spacecraft cemetery also known as Point Nemo — considered the most remote place on Earth (at about 2400 km from any spot of land). It often used to crash-land defunct satellites. Between 1971 and mid-2016, space agencies all over the world have dumped between 260 and 300 spacecraft into the region.
Floating Nuclear Power Plant
Russia unveiled world’s first floating nuclear power station at port city of Murmansk. It will be loaded with nuclear fuel at Murmansk and will be towed to port of Pevek in autonomous Chukotka region in Russia’s far northeast in Arctic Circle region.