Tuesday, October 27TRUSTED FEARLESS INTERNATIONAL & NATIONAL NEWS PORTAL

Science

Moon may hold frozen water in more places than suspected – Times of India
Science

Moon may hold frozen water in more places than suspected – Times of India

CAPE CANAVERAL: The moon's shadowed, frigid nooks and crannies may hold frozen water in more places and in larger quantities than previously suspected, good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who could tap into these resources for drinking and making rocket fuel, scientists reported Monday. While previous observations have indicated millions of tons of ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the moon's poles, a pair of studies in the journal Nature Astronomy take the availability of lunar surface water to a new level. More than 15,400 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) of lunar terrain have the capability to trap water in the form of ice, according to a team led by the University of Colorado's Paul Hayne. That's 20% more area than previous estimates, he said. These ice-ri...
Designing a new digital governance framework
Science

Designing a new digital governance framework

India’s digital markets have witnessed three paradigm shifts this year. First, there has been rapid digitalisation of traditional sectors, as a response to Covid-19, leading to the phenomenal growth of markets such as edtech, healthtech, telemedicine and digital on-boarding. Second, 200 applications, which originated in China, including popular communications and entertainment platforms, have been banned due to security considerations. Finally, a growing set of voices advocate less dependence on American platforms such as Google that can single-handedly determine the market potential for digital start-ups. All these changes point to the need for a suitable policy response.Nimble-footedness is a key characteristic of competitive digital businesses, which deserves reflection...
The missing issue in the Bihar elections | HT Editorial
Science

The missing issue in the Bihar elections | HT Editorial

The first phase of the Bihar assembly election, the first major polls to be held during the Covid-19 pandemic, is scheduled for Wednesday. All political parties have released their manifestos, making a range of promises — from ensuring employment to distribution of free vaccines for Covid-19, from higher investment in education and health care to farm loan waiver. While all these are important issues, besides perfunctory references, not enough attention has been paid to a critical issue in the state — the annual cycle of floods.28 out of Bihar’s 38 districts are flood-prone, and the near-annual deluge often destroys infrastructure and the ecological wealth (farm lands and forests), leaving a deep, long-term impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people. This year, at l...
Hold big tech firms accountable
Science

Hold big tech firms accountable

Shortly after the United States (US) justice department announced it was suing Google for operating an “illegal monopoly” through its search services, a senior Google official sought to make a simple point in a blogpost. People use Google because they choose to, not because they are forced to or cannot find alternatives. The reality, however, is more complicated and explains Google’s dizzying growth over the last two decades, which began with one of the simplest, but a defining motto — don’t be evil. This journey also offers cautionary notes to countries such as India, which hope to hold big tech firms accountable. Google’s early successes stem from the sheer superiority of its first product: The search. Larry Page and Sergey Brin created computer algorithms that would go ...
At IIT Madras, There Is a People-Dog-Wildlife Conflict – The Wire Science
Science

At IIT Madras, There Is a People-Dog-Wildlife Conflict – The Wire Science

Representative photo of a dog in Jodhpur, Rajasthan: schniewmatz/pixabay. Well into the 1990s, it was possible to spot herds of deer at the IIT Madras campus, in Guindy, Chennai, from a moving bus or car, over the fence that only later became a wall. Visits to the campus usually meant closer encounters with wildlife, ranging from deer to jackals – and on one unforgettable rainy night, a crocodile at one of the ponds on campus. Nearly three decades later, the lives of wild creatures on the IIT campus in Chennai have become the subject of debate about conservation practices in our country and whether we are shortchanging our wildlife for dogs. In large wooded areas, dogs have displayed a tendency to hunt in packs at night. Susy Varughese, a professor of chemic...
There’s No Evidence Contact-Tracing Apps Are Helping Stop COVID-19 – The Wire Science
Science

There’s No Evidence Contact-Tracing Apps Are Helping Stop COVID-19 – The Wire Science

Representative image of an application used for contact tracing of COVID-19 infected persons. Photo: Unsplash During the first wave of COVID-19, researchers at Oxford University built a computer model that suggested if 56% of the UK downloaded and used a contact-tracing app (alongside other control measures) it could end the epidemic in the country. With the English app only available since September, it’s too early to tell how the system is actually doing. But even based on other countries whose apps have been available much longer, there’s still very little evidence that they can make a real difference to fighting COVID-19 – or that they can’t. While this doesn’t mean we should write off contact-tracing apps altogether, the lack of evidence is a concern gi...
COVID-19 Vaccine: Why Does the Serum Institute of India Have a Head Start? – The Wire Science
Science

COVID-19 Vaccine: Why Does the Serum Institute of India Have a Head Start? – The Wire Science

A research scientist works inside a laboratory at Serum Institute in Pune, May 2020. Photo: Reuters/Euan Rocha In the western Indian city of Pune, the sprawling headquarters of the Serum Institute of India (SII) could be ground zero in the world’s fight for a coronavirus vaccine. The massive campus houses machines that can fill 500 glass vials per minute and gleaming steel bioreactors almost two stories high that can produce millions of vaccine doses every month. The SII is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume, producing 1.5 billion vaccine doses annually mostly for countries for the developing world. Now the SII is throwing its mass production model against the coronavirus, churning out doses of the “Covishield” candidate vaccine being de...
How Palaeontologists Pieced Together the Strange Story of Whale Evolution – The Wire Science
Science

How Palaeontologists Pieced Together the Strange Story of Whale Evolution – The Wire Science

A rare humpback whale sighting off the coast of Sri Lanka, February 19, 2011. Photo: Navodya Ekanayake/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0 (horizontally flipped by The Wire Science). It was a cool November morning in 1973, and palaeontologist Vijay Prakash Mishra knocked around for fossils along the flat-topped hills in Kutch, Gujarat. “There had been reports that there were large skulls but nobody in India, in fact, had identified them,” said 78-year-old Ashok Sahni, the sensei of Indian palaeontology and Mishra’s teacher who had chalked out this detective mission. Mishra spent days trodding around the silvery, salt-crusted desert, trying to spot ancient remains. Finally, he stumbled upon some abnormally large fossils. “I kept searching and searching,” said Mis...
Hamilton wins Portuguese GP, overtakes Schumacher in record 92nd F1 victory
Science

Hamilton wins Portuguese GP, overtakes Schumacher in record 92nd F1 victory

By: AP | October 25, 2020 9:37:03 pm Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the race (Source: Reuters)British driver Lewis Hamilton made Formula One history on Sunday, winning the Portuguese Grand Prix for a 92nd career victory to move one ahead of German great Michael Schumacher. Hamilton finished nearly 25.6 seconds ahead of Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas and 34.5 clear of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen for his eighth win of another dominant season. He also took an extra point for the fastest lap to extend his huge championship lead to 77 points over Bottas with just five races left. Hamilton won his first F1 race in 2007 and first title the following y...
The Sangh-BJP interface | HT Editorial
Science

The Sangh-BJP interface | HT Editorial

The Vijayadashmi speech by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief is significant for it lays out the Sangh’s broader worldview, and its approach to contemporary issues. Given that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) derives its ideological inspiration from the RSS, and there is a close degree of coordination between the government, the party, and the larger “ideological family”, the speech has assumed even greater importance since 2014. On Sunday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat praised India’s handling of the China threat; lauded the government and society’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic; defended the Citizenship (Amendment) Act; attacked forces which he claimed wanted to weaken and divide India internally; and sought to equate Hindutva with the nation. All of this indica...
Domestic Violence Act: The Supreme Court took a progressive turn, writes Gautam Bhatia
Science

Domestic Violence Act: The Supreme Court took a progressive turn, writes Gautam Bhatia

In 2005, Parliament enacted the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence (DV) Act. The DV Act was a critically important law that recognised and codified a set of rights intended to protect women from domestic violence and domestic abuse. The Act recognised that domestic violence is triggered — and enabled — by the vast differences of power that exist within our family structures. Long-standing norms that operate to make the husband’s family home as the default matrimonial home, or create and sustain disparate earning capacities between the spouses, ensure that, in many cases, women lack the social and economic support structures that would enable them to effectively resist domestic violence, or to leave abusive relationships. To mitigate this situation, the DV Act presc...
Why Lockdowns Had Little to No Effect on Global Temperatures – The Wire Science
Science

Why Lockdowns Had Little to No Effect on Global Temperatures – The Wire Science

An aeroplane flies beneath the jet stream of another. Photo: Reuters/David Gray/File Photo Countries across the world took unprecedented action in the first few months of 2020 to control the spread of COVID-19. At its peak, one-third of the world’s population was in lockdown. Around the world, car travel fell by 50%, the number of flights plummeted by 75% and industrial activity fell by around 35%. With so many cars parked, aeroplanes grounded and factories closed, global carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions fell by around 17% compared with the same period in 2019. But greenhouse gases such as CO₂ weren’t the only emissions to fall, and not all pollution heats the planet. Some of the industrial activities that shut down – particularly heavy industry, including steel...
Near Collision of Rocket Part, Satellite in Orbit Stirs up Space Junk Worries – The Wire Science
Science

Near Collision of Rocket Part, Satellite in Orbit Stirs up Space Junk Worries – The Wire Science

An artist’s illustration of operational and defunct satellites crowding Earth’s geostationary orbit, 35,786 km above ground. Image: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO. In 1989, the Soviet Union launched a navigation satellite called Kosmos 2004 from one of its northern cosmodromes. Twenty years later, in an unrelated event, China launched a rocket called CZ-4C, to put a military reconnaissance satellite in space. Other than their military utilities, these two space-bound objects had nothing in common. But unbeknownst to anyone, their destinies were going to intersect. On October 13 this year, LeoLabs Inc., a Silicon Valley company, alerted the world to a dangerous collision event. The company employs a collection of ground-based radars that allow it t...
Paranormal Claims and Other Pseudoscience That Bedevil the Study of Language – The Wire Science
Science

Paranormal Claims and Other Pseudoscience That Bedevil the Study of Language – The Wire Science

Representative image: Isaac Chou/Unsplash. Every now and again, when historical linguist Sarah “Sally” Thomason was teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, she would receive weird calls. From people who spoke what they believed were unknown languages in their sleep and wanted her to identify them. Or others who claimed they’d discovered that the world’s original language, the one from which all other languages were descended, was Turkish, say, or Japanese. And then there was a local hypnotist who called wanting to verify that a subject talking under hypnosis was speaking a language from a past life. “His people were just producing gibberish. Interesting gibberish, but still gibberish,” says Thomason, now at the University of Michigan. Thomason’s scholarshi...
Modi Quotes Selective Data to Paint Rosy Picture of India’s COVID-19 Response – The Wire Science
Science

Modi Quotes Selective Data to Paint Rosy Picture of India’s COVID-19 Response – The Wire Science

Featured image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: PTI “Lies, damned lies and statistics.” The phrase is often used to show that numbers have a persuasive power but when presented selectively they have the power to mislead. In his recent address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi quoted some statistics to explain how India is managing the coronavirus pandemic better than many developed countries. The PM stated that India has 5,500 cases per 10 lakh (million) as compared to 25,000 cases per million in the US and Brazil. He further said that in India, the death rate at per million population is 83 whereas, in countries such as the US, UK and Brazil, the number is over 600. Modi then went on to add that we have conducted close to 10 crore tests. He u...
India Exports 3M Tonnes of Fly Ash To Bangladesh via Sundarbans Waterway a Year – The Wire Science
Science

India Exports 3M Tonnes of Fly Ash To Bangladesh via Sundarbans Waterway a Year – The Wire Science

Featured image: A vessel carrying fly ash near Kakdwip in West Bengal. Photo: Namrata Acharya/Mongabay Earlier this year, on April 9, when a ship full of fly ash collapsed in river Hooghly near Kulpi in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas area, a cloud of grey dust enveloped the nearby village of Tangrachar. For days, the nauseating smell of carbon remained infused in the air, said Bappa Dulai, a fisherman in the area. It took about ten days to clear the mound of ash floating on the river, but the shipwreck became a permanent fixture. A pool of fuel and coal dust formed at the bottom of the wreck kept polluting the water, killing fish and other aquatic creatures, said Dulai. Several fishermen lost their fishing nets, as they got entangled in the wreckage. On the...
World Polio Day: Need for uninterrupted vaccination during pandemic – Times of India
Science

World Polio Day: Need for uninterrupted vaccination during pandemic – Times of India

HYDERABAD: As the World Polio Day is observed around the globe amid the Covid-19 pandemic on Saturday, experts underlined the need for continuing the polio immunisation programme to help maintain India's polio-free status. Since March 2020, the pandemic has disrupted life-saving immunisation endeavours around the world, putting millions of children at risk of diseases like polio, diphtheria, and measles. The disruption of such routine immunisation services may be unprecedented since the inception of the expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) in the 1970s, in both government and private sectors. This may significantly decrease the immunity level of the population against polio, said Dr. Preethi Sharma, Consultant Pediatrician, KIMS Cuddles, Kondapur. "Most hospitals have a separate out...
Men produce more Covid antibodies than women: Study – Times of India
Science

Men produce more Covid antibodies than women: Study – Times of India

LISBON: On average, men produce more Covid-19 antibodies than women, say Portuguese researchers, adding that, 90 per cent of the patients have detectable antibodies up to seven months post contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The results, published in the European Journal of Immunology, also show that age is not a confounding factor in levels of antibodies produced, but disease severity is. "Our immune system recognizes the virus SARS-CoV-2 as harmful and produces antibodies in response to it, which helps to fight the virus," said study author Marc Veldhoen from Medicina Molecular Joao Lobo Antunes in Portugal. For the findings, the research team set up an in-house sensitive specific and versatile Covid-19 serology test. They started to monitor the antibody levels of over 300 Covid-19 hosp...
Bihar: What we know, and what we don’t know
Science

Bihar: What we know, and what we don’t know

From being widely seen as a straightforward contest, where the victory of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and the return of Nitish Kumar as chief minister (CM) were but certain, the Bihar election has become a far more complex, and an open contest. This is because of a range of factors — the diminished popularity of the CM, a churn in the existing social equations, uncertainty about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the possible emergence of a younger leader, and possible rifts within the ruling alliance. Any prediction would be unwise, but based on the available information, here is what we know. One, voters are angry with Kumar. After 15 years in power, with a nine- month break in 2014-15, there is a sense of fatigue in the electorate. But if it were just fa...
Nobel Prizes: Scoundrels, Saints and the Fiction of Individual Genius – The Wire Science
Science

Nobel Prizes: Scoundrels, Saints and the Fiction of Individual Genius – The Wire Science

Photo: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash. For the past several years, I have taught a seminar called The Literature of Science to a dozen or so honours students at the University of Texas. These clever undergraduates are all majoring in the hard sciences, and most of them already have some experience doing research. We read stories, both fiction and nonfiction, and discuss how authors communicate science and depict scientists, whether real or imagined. We are trying to understand, beyond our particular experiences, what science is and what scientists do. During a recent meeting, my students and I discussed what many people consider to be the greatest memoir ever written by a Nobel laureate: The Double Helix, by James Watson. During the early 1950s, Watson illuminated the...