Current Events September 2016 – Research

• SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket has exploded in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The explosion comes ahead of SpaceX’s plans to launch Israeli-based Spacecom’s Amos 6 satellite with the Falcon 9. The satellite is a joint effort between Facebook & France’s Eutelsat to provide internet connectivity to 14 African countries. SpaceX is aiming to create a new era of reusable rockets and affordable private space travel.
• Sundar Elevated as D’guished Scientist
Noted Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Director R S Sundar was elevated to the post of Distinguished Scientist. He was elevated in honour for his meritorious service. He graduated from the Coimbatore Institute of Technology as a Mechanical Engineer & joined the Department of Atomic Energy in 1980. He was then elevated as KKNPP Site Director in 2014.
• Toxic Particles Discovered in Brain
Scientists have for the first time discovered tiny magnetic particles from air pollution lodged in human brains. Researchers at Lancaster University found abundant magnetite nano particles in the brain tissue from 37 individuals aged three to 92-years-old. Particles smaller than 200nm enter the brain directly through the olfactory nerve after breathing air pollution through the nose.
• Asteroid-Analysing Explorer Launched
The US space agency NASA has launched a mission to retrieve a rock sample from a 500m-wide asteroid called Bennu. Scientists hope the material will reveal details about the formation of the planets. The probe, dubbed Osiris-Rex, blasted away from Florida on an Atlas rocket. The Japanese brought back a tiny amount of dust from asteroid Itokawa in 2010.
• ISRO Launches INSAT-3DR Satellite
The ISRO’s GSLV-F05 rocket has successfully placed INSAT-3DR advanced weather satellite in the intended orbit. The satellite is expected to provide a variety of meteorological services to the country. The launch from Sriharikota is the first operational flight of GSLV with indigenous cryogenic technology. GSLV-F05 is the tenth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
• Govt Approves 6 Start-up Centres
The govt has approved six proposals to set up centres of excellence to promote & fund start-ups. Under the National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovation (NIDHI), a programme steered by the Dept of Science & Tech. The proposals for six centres of excellence that were approved include SINE-IIT Bombay, Venture Center-NCL Pune, CIIE-IIM Ahmedabad & a research park at IIT-Gandhinagar.
• 212 million years old reptile found
Scientists have identified a new species of extinct reptiles that lived 212 million years ago. The found reptile was about 12 to 18 feet long carnivores related to crocodiles. The fossils of the reptile named Vivaron haydeni was found in Ghost Ranch of New Mexico during an excavation in 2009.
• ISRO successfully lifts up INSAT-3DR
ISRO has completed another milestone by successfully lifting the GSLV-F05 rocket from Sriharikota. Indian space agency used indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine to successfully locate the heavy weather satellite INSAT-3DR weighing 2800 kg into the orbit. The successful launch has given India another rocket after PSLV which India’s most successful rocket.
• Naik’s NGO on ‘prior permission’ list
Islamic preacher Zakir Naik’s NGO, Islamic Research Foundation, has been put under the ‘prior permission category’ by the Home Ministry. This bars it from receiving foreign funds directly into its account. The decision has been taken after a preliminary inquiry found that the NGO was carrying out activities contrary to the FCRA norms.
• Uber launches self-driving car trial
Uber rolls out its very first self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. A fleet of 14 Ford Fusions self-driving cars drove through the streets of Pittsburgh in the first-ever customer trial research exercise in autonomous technology. The exercise was conducted by the Pennsylvania-based Advanced Technologies Center. The vehicles can be summoned with a phone call.
• Scientists Successfully Grow 3D Lungs
Scientists in the United States, including those of Indian origin, have successfully grown three-dimensional lungs in the lab, using stem cells. The laboratory-grown tissue can be used to study diseases including Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), which has been difficult to study using conventional methods. IPF is a chronic lung disease in which lungs become thick & stiff.
• Origin of Pluto’s Huge Icy Heart Found
Scientists have unveiled the origin of the large heart-shaped nitrogen glacier on Pluto spotted by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. Researchers show that Pluto’s peculiar insolation & atmosphere favour nitrogen condensation near the equator, leading to an accumulation of ice at the bottom. One of the most unexpected observations showed that this reservoir of solid nitrogen is extremely massive.
• UN Agrees to Fight Antibiotic Resistance
The 193 countries of the United Nations have signed a declaration to rid the world of drug-resistant infections or superbugs. The commitment could prevent 700,000 deaths a year. It is the fourth time a UN declaration has been reached on a health issue – following HIV in 2001, non-communicable diseases in 2011 & Ebola in 2013. The signatories now have two years to report back with an action plan.
• Facebook Hires Anand Chandrasekaran
Facebook has roped in former chief product officer at Snapdeal, Anand Chandrasekaran, for a strategic role for its Messenger app. He served as chief product officer at Bharti where he launched mobile application & popular music-streaming app. He also served as the senior director of mobile & search products at Yahoo. FB has been trying to position Messenger as the de-facto text messaging app.
• GlaxoSmithKline Names Walmsley as CEO
GlaxoSmithKline had chosen its head of consumer healthcare, Emma Walmsley, as its new chief executive (CEO). She will become the first woman to head a top global pharmaceutical company. She joined Britain’s biggest drugmaker in 2010 from L’Oreal & will replace Andrew Witty. GSK had market-leading positions in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare.
• Jabong Launches Social Intranet Platform
Jabong has announced its collaboration with Facebook at Work to launch a social intranet on mobile devices for its employees. The platform Destination is an endeavour by the e-tailer to provide a one-stop solution for its employees. It will ensure workplace collaboration through on-the-go access to all company policies, workflows, polls, project updates & team discussions.
• India to Host BRICS Scientists Conclave
India would be hosting the BRICS Young Scientist Conclave 2016 as a coordinating country. Scientists/ researchers from BRICS countries will meet in Bengaluru from 26-30th September, 2016. The conclave aims at promoting opportunities to engage and network young scientists of BRICS countries. The conclave would be organized and coordinated by the National Institute of Advanced Studies,Bengaluru.
• ISRO Successfully Launches SCATSAT-1
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its satellite SCATSAT-1 for ocean and weather-related studies. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C35) carrying eight satellites took off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.ISRO’s SCATSAT-1 can generate accurate data on wind patterns over the ocean surface. The co-passenger satellites were from the US, Canada & Algeria.
• Florida’s univ gave money for Zika study
The University of Florida announced on September 15 that it has been awarded a US grant of roughly $1.7 million to research the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Haiti. The university’s Emerging Pathogens Institute said that the US National Institutes of Health grant will be allocated over four years. Director Dr. Glenn Morris said it will fund work identifying Zika cases in the Caribbean nation.
• First Cargo Truck from Dhaka Reach Delhi
The first cargo truck under the Bangladesh,Bhutan,India & Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicle Agreement for cross border movement reached. The cargo truck was dispatched from Dhaka as part of a trial run. The trial was organised to develop the protocols for implementing the agreement. The BBIN agreement was signed last year in Bhutan to facilitate cross border movement of both passengers & cargo vehicles.

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