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The Science & Technology Weekly – 13 June – 19 June, 2016


Starting 4th April, 2016 we have a started a new initiative to post Science and Technology Compilation of all articles coming in leading news daily on a weekly basis. We look forward to simplify the preparation of aspirants by easing out their task in one of the most vague topics in UPSC preparation. The compilation will make aspirants aware with day to day happenings in the field of science and technology as well list out basics in brief.

  1. First complex organic molecule discovered in space
  2. PSLV-C34 with 20 satellites all set for new experiments
  3. NASA spots methane leak from space for the first time
  4. ISRO resuming launch of earth observation satellites after 3 years
  5. Ebola, Zika can be predicted using environmental changes
  6. No threat to polio-free status of India: WHO
  7. Space technology to safeguard thatched roofs
  8. Scientists to use underwater robots to study monsoon
  9. Can coffee cause cancer? Only if it’s very hot, says WHO agency
  10. Living bone grown in lab for the first time

[1] First complex organic molecule discovered in space


  • A complex organic molecule essential for biology has been discovered for the first time in interstellar space, a finding that may help understand how life originated in the universe.


  • Like a pair of human hands, certain organic molecules have mirror-image versions of themselves, a chemical property known as chirality.
  • These molecules are essential for biology and have been found in meteorites on Earth and comets in our Solar System.
  • However, none has been detected in the vast reaches of interstellar space, until now.


  • The molecule, propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2), was found near the centre of our Galaxy in an enormous star-forming cloud of dust and gas known as Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2).
  • Propylene oxide is among the most complex and structurally intricate molecules detected so far in space.


[2] PSLV-C34 with 20 satellites all set for new experiments


  • The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34), which will lift off on June 22 from Sriharikota, is an important mission for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Significance of this

  • The vehicle will not only put 20 satellites into the same orbit — the highest number of satellites to be put into orbit by a PSLV — but it will perform two tricky experiments of the same nature.
  • Fifty minutes after the satellites are injected into the orbit from the fourth stage of the vehicle, its engine will be re-ignited for five seconds.
  • Then it will be shut down for 50 minutes and re-ignited for another five seconds

Complex manoeuvre

  • The ISRO wants to master this complex manoeuvre so that it can put multiple satellites into different orbits using the same rocket.
  • A forthcoming PSLV launch will put the ISRO’s SCATSAT-1, meant for forecasting weather and cyclone detection, and a foreign satellite in two different orbits.


[3] NASA spots methane leak from space for the first time


  • In a first, an instrument onboard an orbiting spacecraft has measured the methane emissions from a specific leaking facility on Earth’s surface.


  • The observation is an important breakthrough in our ability to eventually measure and monitor emissions of this potent greenhouse gas from space.
  • This is the first time the methane emissions from a single facility have been observed from space.
  • The percentage of atmospheric methane produced through human activities remains poorly understood.
  • Future instruments with much greater sensitivity on orbiting satellites can help resolve this question by surveying the biggest sources around the world, so that we can better understand and address this unknown factor in greenhouse gas emissions.


[4] ISRO resuming launch of earth observation satellites after 3 years


  • Next week’s satellite launch will see the Indian Space Research Organisation’s resuming its Earth Observation (EO) satellite activity after a gap of around three years.


  • The space agency has scheduled to fly Cartosat-2C, an Earth imaging satellite of sub-metre resolution and meant purely for the Armed Forces, on board the PSLV launcher on the morning of June 22. It will also launch 19 other smaller external satellites, including two from Indian universities.
  • In the period since 2013, seven navigation spacecraft and a few communication satellites dominated the domestic space scene, with the exception of the Indo-French SARAL and the weather satellite INSAT-3D of 2013.
  • The next four or five launches will be EO-based satellites. In the next one year, there will be three more in the Cartosat-2 series and one of them will be for civil use. Then you have Scatsat-1, Resourcesat-2A and Oceansat-3 [on the PSLV], Insat-3DR on the GSLV around August and others.” GISAT, a geo-imaging spacecraft of very high resolution and a higher orbit, is slated for 2018.
  • The upcoming EO (or remote sensing) satellites would be thee to four times more efficient than the older ones, providing sharper images of larger areas from about 600 km in space and repeat the view faster. They would provide far more data of ground situations than the older ones, as they would re-visit a location more frequently than before.

Technology edge

  • This was possible with the use of high-speed detection electronics components such as time delay integration devices, which would help to do continuous imaging of land areas. This was required for the country’s crop forecasting and monitoring activities that need frequent observation and sharp images.


[5] Ebola, Zika can be predicted using environmental changes


  • Scientists have successfully developed a model that can predict the outbreak of diseases that spread from animals to humans such as Ebola and Zika — based on changes in climate, population growth and land use.


  • This model is a major improvement in our understanding of the spread of diseases from animals to people.
  • We hope it can be used to help communities prepare and respond to disease outbreaks, as well as to make decisions about environmental change factors that may be within their control.
  • More than 60 per cent of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic(A zoonotic disease is a disease that can be spread between animals and humans) and although Ebola and Zika are well-known, there are many other diseases including Rift Valley fever and Lassa fever which affect thousands already and are predicted to spread with changing environmental factors.

About Lassa fever

  • Lassa fever is endemic across West Africa and is caused by Lassa virus passing to people from rats.
  • Like Ebola virus, Lassa virus causes haemorrhagic fever and can be fatal. The number of people are affected by Lassa fever each year is unclear as many do not have severe symptoms and those that do are often misdiagnosed with malaria.

How it is predicted

  • The new approach successfully predicts outbreaks of individual diseases by pairing the changes in the host’s distribution as the environment changes with the mechanics of how that disease spreads from animals to people, which has not been done before.
  • Importantly, the model also has the potential to look at the impact of global change on many diseases at once, to understand any trade-offs that decision-makers may have to be make.

Way forward

  • Researchers say the model could be refined to consider zoonotic disease transmission within human populations by including the impact of travel infrastructure, human-to-human contact rates and poverty – something that would have been of enormous use in the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks.


[6] No threat to polio-free status of India: WHO


  • Amidst concerns over resurfacing of polio cases in India, the WHO has said there is “no threat” to the polio-free status of all South East Asian region countries, including India.

What WHO said

  • The detection of a rare strain of the crippling disease is “not unusual.
  • Noting that all the countries, including India, maintain a ‘’high vigil” for the detection of the disease, the World Health Organisation’s South-East Asia Regional Office (WHO SEARO) said that no child has been afflicted by wild poliovirus since the last case was reported from West Bengal in January, 2011.
  • The statement comes after a six-year-old child of Padrauna village in Gaisdi in Balrampur district in Uttar Pradesh was admitted to a hospital on suspicion of polio, following which the State health officials have sent a report to the WHO.


  • As part of high vigil for poliovirus detection, environmental surveillance — collection of samples from sewage — is being conducted regularly from 30 sites across seven States in India.
  • Prior to recent case of UP, vaccine-derived polio virus (VDPV) type 2 was detected in a sewage sample collected from a site in Hyderabad.


[7] Space technology to safeguard thatched roofs


  • The technology that protects rocket launch vehicles from high-temperature fire could protect the thatched roofs and even prevent water seepage in concrete buildings


  • The scientists of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, have showcased the ceramic-polymer hybrid (CASPOL), a spin-off product that could protect public transport systems and poor men residing in thatched homes from fire accidents.
  • Technology transfer is yet to be concluded.
  • Caspol is an indigenously developed, easy-to-use flame-proof coating, from the VSSC stable.
  • The water-based ready-to-coat product was originally developed to protect the rockets from high temperature and fire to which they are exposed during the initial moments of launch.
  • Seats in automobiles, public transport system and seat cushions of railway coaches can be made fireproof when Caspol is applied.

Advantage of caspol

  • Besides its ability to protect against fire and high temperature, Caspol can also make surfaces waterproof.
  • When applied over the concrete surface of buildings, fill up the micro cracks and holes on concrete to prevent water from seeping in.
  • When applied over concrete surface of buildings, the high emissivity of the product reduces the temperature inside the building by at least 5 to 6 degree Celsius.
  • It can be used on a variety of substrates such as masonry surfaces, textiles, paper, thatched leaves and wood to advanced materials like polyurethane and phenolic-based thermal insulation foam pads.
  • The centre has described the product as one which is eco-friendly as it is free of toxic materials. It could be applied either by brushing or spraying on the desired surface.
  • The economic, water-based formulation with self-extinguishing properties could cure in room temperature and has good adhesion and water repellent characteristics.
  • The materials coated with Caspol will be self-extinguished within four seconds after removal of flame.


[8] Scientists to use underwater robots to study monsoon


  • Scientists from Britain and India will release underwater robots into the Bay of Bengal in a bid to more accurately predict the Indian monsoon critical to millions of farmers.
  • Researchers will also fly a plane carrying scientific equipment over the bay to measure the atmosphere as part of the multi-million pound study of the monsoon which hit southern India last week.

Significance of this

  • Better forecasting will improve the livelihoods of India’s more than 200 million farmers and agricultural labourers, who are reeling from devastating drought.


  • The robots, which have computers onboard and look like miniature yellow submarines, will spend a month moving through a southern section of the bay, to measure temperature, salinity and currents.
  • The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science.
  • Nobody has ever made observations on this scale during the monsoon season itself so this is a truly groundbreaking project.
  • Beamed backed to scientists via satellite signals, the information will be used to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather and rainfall over India.


[9] Can coffee cause cancer? Only if it’s very hot, says WHO agency


  • Drinking very hot coffee and other drinks “probably” causes cancer of the oesophagus, an agency of the UN’s World Health Organisation but lifted suspicion from a cup of joe at “normal serving temperatures”.

Other findings

  • There were hints that coffee may even lower the risk of liver, breast and uterine cancer, said the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — but not if consumed hotter than 65 degrees Celsius.
  • A review of over 1,000 studies concluded that drinking “very hot” beverages was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
  • Studies in places such as China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Turkey and South America, where tea or mate(a South American herbal infusion that is also popular in the Middle East) is drunk very hot (at about 70 degrees Celsius) found that the risk of oesophageal cancer increased with the temperature at which the beverage was drunk


[10] Living bone grown in lab for the first time


  • In a first, scientists have grown a living bone in the lab to repair large defects in the head and face of patient, taking a step forward in improving treatments for people with craniofacial defects.

How it is done

  • A new technique developed by professor at Columbia University, uses autologous stem cells derived from a small sample of the recipient’s fat and precisely replicates the original anatomical structure of the bone.
  • The quality of the regenerated tissue, including vascularisation with blood perfusion, exceeds what has been achieved using other approaches.


  • An unexpected outcome was that the lab-grown bone, when implanted, was gradually replaced by new bone formed by the body, a result not seen with the implantation of a scaffold alone, without cells.
  • Lab-grown living bone serves as an ‘instructive’ template for active bone remodelling rather than as a definitive implant.
  • This feature is what makes this implant an integral part of the patient’s own bone, allowing it to actively adapt to changes in the body throughout its life.
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  • ibuji

    Thank you Very much..!! These compilations are really useful..!