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June 21, 2018 (Hyderabad)
India's largest provider of tailor-made, flexible workspace, Smartworks, has unveiled its new facility in Hyderabad's Hitech City. The center has deployed the much talked about 'Made in India' human robot 'Mitra' at its facility.
The humanoid will streamline the visitor management system, allowing the workspace to do away with paperwork and enforce a more environment friendly approach. The installation of Mitra is first of its kind in the shared office industry.
With this launch, Smartworks is taking its total number of centres in India to 15 across nine cities namely, Delhi, Gurugram, Noida, Kolkata, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai and Hyderabad. Central to this ambition is the company's motto 'Workspaces that work for you', with the vision of creating the perfect environment for a highly motivated and productive workforce.
Smartworks' Hyderabad center was 70% pre-booked by 8 companies, owing to the increasing demand for shared workspaces in the city.
Speaking at the launch in HiTech City, Smartworks Founder, Neetish Sarda said, "With our new facility, we aim to cater to the rising demand for office spaces in an emerging business hub like Hyderabad. Smartworks aspires to be the preferred partner of choice for businesses here that wish to create productive, innovative and dynamic workplaces for their employees. We aim to cater to the needs of the Indian workforce via personalized services, employee happiness quotient, ensuring safe and congenial work environment, uplifting and serving a collaborative platform for businesses. Across the globe, shared workspaces like Smartworks are the key contributors in reducing carbon footprint today."
June 22, 2018 (Bengaluru)
Researchers from National Institute of Oceanography, Goa have studied seasonal distribution of single celled organisms with shells known as forams or foraminifera, in the mudbanks of Allepy, Kerala. The study was conducted to understand the response of forams to physical and chemical changes in the environment associated with the mudbank formation.
Mudbanks are the calm, turbid regions adjoining sea coasts. These unique formations are distinct to the coasts of Kerala at Cochin and Alleppy. Many processes, like seasonal winds and coastal tides, are associated with it. The present study is a first-of-its-kind in trying to document the effect of the associated processes of mudbank formation on forams living at the bottom of a sea.
Why forams? Forams -in their fossilised form are an important indicator of the age of marine rocks, acting as an evidence of past environment. It is also helpful in oil exploration, indicating the presence of oil wells.
In the new study, the team of researchers studied the seasonal changes in total carbon, calcium carbonate, organic carbon, and organic nitrogen to understand the effect of mudbank formation on capture of carbon in the sea. Carbon capture in the sea is one of the major factors responsible for the receding global warming.
The study reported a low abundance and low diversity of forams in the mudbank, both during pre monsoon and monsoon seasons, suggesting a stressed environment. ?The higher percentage of organic carbon and constant organic nitrogen suggest that food availability and its source is not a major factor affecting forams living in the bottom of the sea in the mudbank. Instead, increased turbidity and low bottom water salinity are the main cause of seasonally stressed environment in the mudbank? remark the researchers.
Forams living at the bottom of the sea can be distinguished into many types. According to study, Agglutinated forams (These forams build their shell of foreign particles held together by organic cement) dominate the bottom living foram population in the mudbank and there is reduction in calcareous forams (forams that produce their own shells). The domination of agglutinated forams suggests that the area has less carbonate and also is under freshwater influence.
According to the study, one of the reasons for the low foram population in mudbank regions in all the seasons is due to degradation of organic carbon coupled with fresh water influx inducing a drop in bottom water pH. But the reduced calcareous foram abundance in the bottom of the sea, however, does not affect the carbon capture in the mudbank, due to higher percentage of organic carbon.
The study highlight the crucial links between the biodiversity and geological processes involved in the mudbanks of Allepy.
June 20, 2018
The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Prakash Javadekar has launched the new digital initiative of HRD Ministry ?National Digital Library of India?on the occasion of National Reading Dayin New Delhi today. This National Digital Library of India (NDLI) is a project of the Ministry of Human Resource Development under the aegis of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). The objective of NDL is to make digital educational resources available to all citizens of the country to empower, inspire and encourage learning. National Digital Library of India is developed by IIT Kharagpur.
NDL is the Single Window Platform that collects and collates metadata from premier learning institutions in India and abroad, as well as other relevant sources. It is a digital repository containing textbooks, articles, videos, audio books, lectures, simulations, fiction and all other kinds of learning media.
Speaking on the occasion Minister said that a new era of Digital India has begun as we dedicate this Digital Library to the Nation. He said that the National Digital Library is a 24×7 ubiquitous knowledge resource that is accessible to anyone with internet access and it is built to enable the rise of Digital India. The Minister said that anybody can access the digital library anytime and anywhere absolutely free of cost and will contribute greatly to the Government's commitment towards "Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat".
The Minister explained that NDLI is a digital library that makes quality learning resources available to all learners and has 1.7 Crore content from more than 160 sources, in over 200 languages, everywhere and 30 lakh users are registered on NDL as on date and our target is to increase the users 10 times in a year. He said that NDLI platform is collaborative in nature and extended his regards to contributing institutions which have made available their digital repositories for integration with NDLI.
Prakash Javadekar added that apart from website, NDL is also available on the Mobile app. NDLI Mobile app is enabling access to rich digital content of libraries across the country and even foreign repositories to users even in the remotest of areas. He further said that the App, which has been downloaded over 6.70 lakh times, is currently available for both iPhone and Android users. Users can search for content using various parameters like subject matter, source, content type and more. Right Now the app is available in three languages - English, Hindi and Bengali.
Speaking at the launch function today, the Minister of State for Culture (I/c) Dr. Mahesh Sharma, narrated the difficulties faced by him as a student in gaining access to books, and fondly thanked the NDL initiative of Human Resource Development Ministry that would help lakhs of students in the country. He added that National Digital Library initiative by MHRD together with National virtual Library of India platform by Ministry of Culture will enable India leave an indelible mark on the World stage. He said Education and Culture are the cornerstones in the concept of India's 'Unity in Diversity' and National Digital Library is a path breaking initiative by MHRD in this direction.
Dr Mahesh Sharma also gave details about the National virtual Library of India as a massive online library with resources covering tens and hundreds of fields, ranging from arts, music, dance, culture, theatre, science and technology to education, archaeology, literature, museums, cartography maps, e-papers and manuscripts, among others , in all possible forms collated and made available on a single online platform. This programme is a part of the National Mission on Libraries of the Ministry of Culture.
While addressing the gathering, the Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shri Satya Pal Singh said that it is a very important day in the history of India as the nation gets its own National Digital Library. The Minister said that in earlier times students had to struggle because of non-availability of books and other study materials, but now this initiative will make the educational resources easily accessible. He further said that NDLaims to make a paradigm shift in education and research in India by enabling every citizen with the knowledge resources they need to empower themselves.
Shri R. Subrahmanyam, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, MHRD; Prof. Partha Pratim Chakrabarti, Director, IIT Kharagpur; Dr. N. Saravana Kumar, Joint Secretary, MHRD;Shri N. Balagopala, Vice-Chairman, P.N Panicker Foundation, Kerala were also present on the occasion.
June 20, 2018 (Pune)
Scientists at the city?s National Institute of Virology said Nipah virus did not spread through fruits.
"Viruses are obligatory parasites. They cannot multiply in fruits. Like any other virus, Nipah virus needs animal or human cells to survive and multiply," National Institute of Virology (NIV) director and senior scientist Devendra Mourya told TOI.
The country's fruit exports dipped after the outbreak of Nipah in Kerala. The deadly virus claimed 17 lives in the southern state, following which India?s fruit exports and consumption within the country went down significantly.
The NIV scientists urged citizens not to shy away from eating fruits because they did not provide the virus with the mechanism to survive and spread. "Misleading posts circulating on social media have created this misconception among the masses about not eating fruits. Nipah virus is spread by fruit bats (Pteropus giganteus). A very small proportion of these bats secrete the virus. But the posts on social media brazenly say without any scientific basis about not eating fruits. This has adversely impacted the sales and badly affected the country's farmers," Mourya said.
Fruit bats (Pteropus giganteus) are the only known reservoir for the virus till date. "Not all fruit-eating bats carry the virus. A small proportion of them secretes the virus. Human beings rarely come into contact of the infected secretion and develop the disease," he said.
Mourya said the citizens should stay away from eating fruits nibbled by birds, including bats. "This is a precautionary measure. Otherwise, viruses cannot survive in fruits," Mourya said.
Explaining the dynamics, Mourya said, "The virus may infect a human through fruits only when an individual consumes a fruit nibbled by an infected bat immediately after the fruit came in contact with its infected saliva. In this case, the virus which has got on to the fruit surface through its saliva gets human cells to survive. Any time gap in between kills the virus then and there. The virus cannot survive in fruits."
The fruit bats make colonies mainly on trees. "It is the biggest in size among other bat species. Their flight range is also way beyond the regular bats," NIV medical scientist and epidemiologist Rima Sahay said.
Besides low export, union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh expressed concern over plummeting sales of fruits in India. "The fruit consumption within the country has gone down significantly. This affected the fruit growers and farmers," Singh said.
An official of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority confirmed the drop in fruits? export after Nipah virus outbreak. "Mainly, consumption and sales of mangoes, bananas, pomegranates and grapes went down," he said.
June 20, 2018 (Mumbai)
Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) have developed a new life-saving device that can detect heart attacks early on using a smartphone. The innovative sensor, conceptualised by students Debasmita Mondal and Sourabh Agrawal, and guided by Prof. Soumyo Mukherji, won the recently presented 2018 Gandhian Young Technological Innovation award recently.
The device can detect cardiac biomarkers-chemicals released during a heart attack-using a tiny sensor, whose values can be read with a smartphone. The researchers hope that this breakthrough could potentially save many lives in our country where cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death.
In India, the number of deaths from heart-related diseases has jumped from 17% to 23% in just a decade (between 2003 and 2013) and is predicted to increase in the coming years. While an early diagnosis of heart-related ailments can help, it is difficult as symptoms of chest pain are qualitative. Devices like electrocardiograms, though are promising, are not sensitive enough to measure small changes in the heartbeat. Hence, testing for biomarker proteins like myoglobin and myeloperoxidase in patient's blood is thought to be the more reliable.
Myoglobin is an iron-containing protein released into the bloodstream soon after myocardial infarction?the sudden reduction or blockage of blood flow to the heart that leads to cardiac arrest. While a healthy person has about 25-72 ng/mL of myoglobin in blood, this level could shoot up 4-8 times (to 200 ng/ml), and sometimes as high as 100 times (to 900 ng/ml), within an hour of myocardial infarction, thus indicating a cardiac arrest.
Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme produced in our white blood cells and released when blood vessels are injured or become inflamed. It is now recognised as an indicator of an acute coronary syndrome (ACS)-a condition where there is decreased blood flow to the heart. Higher levels of this enzyme indicate a higher risk of cardiac diseases.
The device developed by the researchers contains a filter paper sensor coated with a conducting polymer called polyaniline. Antibodies that can bind to myoglobin and myeloperoxidase are embedded on its surface. When the blood of a patient who has suffered a cardiac arrest comes in contact with the sensor, these two proteins bind to the sensor, they hinder the flow of current through the sensor, and the impedance is measured across different frequencies of the input voltage.
The best part about the device is that the sensor connects to a module in the smartphone through the audio jack (where you put in the headphones) that stores the measured impedance data on the phone. It is powered by the phone, making it portable and small enough to be carried in the pocket for use. It sends the impedance data as a function of frequency from the sensor to the smartphone in the audio range of 10Hz to 10kHz. These results are then displayed on the smartphone screen, making the device easy to use without the help of a trained technician.
So how does one use this device? The device needs only the sensor cartridge to be changed after every use. A small needle-prick extracts a drop of blood (a few microliters) which is then used for testing. The device can detect the concentration of the two cardiac biomarkers within a time span of twenty minutes and can also accurately diagnose cardiac disease in an early stage. It might end the queues at the ECG machines in hospitals and increase the survival chances of cardiac arrest patients by speeding up the prognosis time, say the researchers.
"A quick measurement of the myeloperoxidase levels in a person's blood would provide them with ample time for taking precautionary steps regarding their lifestyle, medications, etc. to prevent suffering from myocardial infarction in future. Chances of having a heart attack can be predicted almost 3 to 6 months in advance. Increased levels of myoglobin indicate the onset of a heart attack and early diagnosis would help in contacting a professional for the proper course of treatment", explains Ms. Mondal.
Since the researchers have used inexpensive materials, the device costs about INR 5,500 at the research level. The researchers hope that when the device is produced at a commercial scale, the cost could come down to just Rs 1500, making it affordable for countries where access to medical amenities is challenging to come by and medical aid hard to reach. Also, since the sensor is biodegradable, it can also be disposed of without harming the environment.
June 18, 2018 (New Delhi)
Army to acquire 114 in four years
The indigenously upgraded artillery gun Dhanush has successfully completed final user trials and is ready for induction into the Army. Dhanush is an upgraded version of the Swedish Bofors gun procured by India in the mid-1980s.
"This was the third and final phase of user exploitation firings in which six Dhanush guns were fired in battery formation from May 31 to June 7, 2018 at the Pokhran field firing range. A total of 301 rounds were fired from the six guns, including burst fire," said Dr. Uddipan Mukherjee, public relations officer of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), in response to a questionnaire from this newspaper.
The first phase of trials were conducted between July and September 2016 at the Pokhran and Babina ranges and the second phase was conducted between October and December 2016 at the Siachen base camp with three guns. A total of 1,520 rounds have been fired in all the three phases.
Tested in all terrains
During the trials, the guns travelled extensively in towed/ self-propelled mode in desert and high-altitude terrains with each gun clocking over 1,000 km demonstrating their mobility.
Dr. Mukherjee said the next step was completion of general staff (GS) evaluation after which Bulk Production Clearance (BPC) will be accorded. The OFB already has an indent from the Army for 114 guns and will start supplying the guns on receipt of the BPC. "The OFB has already supplied six guns for battery firing during the user trials. Another 12 guns will be issued within a year on receipt of the BPC," he stated.
The entire order of 114 guns is to be delivered within four years. To meet the requirement, the Board has undertaken capacity augmentation to manufacture over 400 barrels and 250 ordnances for large-calibre weapon systems, Dr. Mukherjee said, adding that the OFB was confident of producing eight to 10 guns per month within two to three years. As of now, the gun has over 80% indigenous content. The imported systems include the power pack, parts of the electronic suite, and some seals and bearings.
June 18, 2018
Proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, a tree native to India can help effectively purify water in developing nations at a low cost, say scientists.
The plant commonly known as the drumstick tree is cultivated for food and natural oils, and the seeds are already used for a type of rudimentary water purification. However, this traditional means of purification leaves behind high amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from the seeds, allowing bacteria to regrow after just 24 hours. This leaves only a short window in which the water is drinkable.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US used sand and plant materials to create a cheap and effective water filtration medium, termed "f-sand."
F-sand was created by extracting the seed proteins from the Moringa oleifera plant, and adhering them to the surface of silica particles, the principal component of sand.
It kills microorganisms and reduces turbidity, adhering to particulate and organic matter. These undesirable contaminants and DOC can then be washed out, leaving the water clean for longer, and the f-sand ready for reuse.
According to the United Nations, 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services, the majority of whom live in developing nations. The Moringa oleifera plant tree is native to India and grows well in tropical and subtropical climates.
June 13, 2018
Continuing towards digitalization and moving towards becoming a cashless economy, the initiative of faster and more techno-advanced transactions in Indian Railways is being taken up, the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIS) has developed a mobile based application 'utsonmobile'. This application has the following features:
June 13, 2018 (New Delhi)
The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was signed in March, 2018 between the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Institut National de la Santeet de la RechercheMedicale (INSERM), France.
The MoU aims at cooperation in areas of common interest within the medical, life sciences and health research fields. Based on scientific excellence on both sides, the parties have agreed to have a specific focus upon:
Any other areas of mutual interest can be considered after discussions between the two sides.
The MoU will further strengthen relations between ICMR and INSERM within the framework of international scientific and technological cooperation in fields of mutual interest. The scientific excellence on two sides will help to successfully work on health research in specified areas.