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CURRENT AFFAIRS SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (Part-3)


Science and Technology/ IT/ VoIP

VoIP
Importance Level: important: will be asked in near future

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. It is also referred to as IP Telephony or Internet
Telephony or voice over broadband (VoBB). It is another way of making phone calls, with the
difference of making the calls cheaper or completely free. The phone part is not always present
anymore, as you can communicate without a telephone set.

Advantages:
1) There are several advantages to using voice over IP. The biggest single advantage VoIP has over
standard telephone systems is cost.
2) In addition, international calls using VoIP are usually very inexpensive.
3) One other advantage, which will become much more pronounced as VoIP use climbs, calls between
VoIP users are usually free.
4) It reduces operational cost because
a. VoIP can be a benefit for reducing communication and infrastructure costs.
b. Routing phone calls over existing data networks to avoid the need for separate voice and data
networks.
c. The ability to transmit more than one telephone call over a single broadband connection.
5) VoIP permits secure calls using standardized protocols.
6) It's portability is high.
Challenges

Communication on the IP network is inherently less reliable in contrast to the circuit-switched public
telephone network
It is susceptible to power failure.
The nature of IP makes it difficult to locate network users geographically. Emergency calls, therefore,
cannot easily be routed to a nearby call center.
When telephone service relies on IP network infrastructure such as the Internet, a network failure can
isolate users from all telephony communication. (previously Telephone worked even if broadband was
not working).

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VoIP telephone systems are susceptible to attacks as are any Internet-connected devices.
Many VoIP carriers allow callers to configure arbitrary caller ID information, thus permitting spoofing
attacks.
Support for sending faxes over VoIP implementations is still limited.
In India, it is legal to use VoIP, but it is illegal to have VoIP gateways inside India.[citation needed] This
effectively means that people who have PCs can use them to make a VoIP call to any number, but if the
remote side is a normal phone, the gateway that converts the VoIP call to a POTS call should not be
inside India.

Science and Technology/ New Technologies, Devices and Discoveries/ autonomous vehicle

Autonomous Car
Importance Level: important: will be asked in near future

An autonomous car, also known as robotic or informally as driverless or self-driving, is an autonomous


vehicle capable of fulfilling the human transportation capabilities of a traditional car. As an
autonomous vehicle, it is capable of sensing its environment and navigating on its own
A human may choose a destination, but is not required to perform any mechanical operation of the
vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles sense the world with such techniques as radar, lidar, GPS and computer vision.
Advanced control systems interpret the information to identify appropriate navigation paths, as well as
obstacles and relevant signage. Autonomous vehicles typically update their maps based on sensory
input, such that they can navigate through uncharted environments.
There have been several programs around the world.
In June 2011 the state of Nevada was the first jurisdiction in the United States to pass a law concerning
the operation of autonomous cars
The Nevada law went into effect on March 1, 2012, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles
issued the first license for a self-driven car in May 2012.
The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google's experimental driverless technology.

Benefits:

Safer roads with fewer traffic collisions and therefore a reduction road injuries and road deaths
Increased roadway capacity and reduced traffic congestion due to reduced need of safety gaps and the
ability to manage traffic flow more efficiently
Reduced journey times as fewer traffic jams.
If all cars were autonomous speed limits could possibly be increased whilst remaining safe.
Drivers would no longer have the physical and mental exertion of manual driving.

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Example projects

Google driverless car, with a test fleet of autonomous vehicles that as of August 2012 has driven
300,000 miles (480,000 km).
Marvin Car
AutoNOMOS

Science and Technology/ IT/ Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing
Importance Level: Important: Already asked
Loksabha Question:
a) whether `cloud computing` technology is in vogue in the country;
b) if so, the details along with the salient features thereof; and
c) the areas in which this technology is of immense use and the action taken in this regard so far?
Answer
MINISTER OF STATE FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (SHRI SACHIN PILOT)
a) Yes, Sir. Cloud Computing offers the advantage of optional utilization of infrastructure by utilizing
technologies like virtualization, etc. and it also paves a new way of delivering services- Software as
a service, Platform as a service and infrastructure as a service.
b) The salient features that can be leveraged under Cloud Computing are:
i. Optimum utilization of Infrastructure
ii. Elasticity and Scalability
iii. Online Provisioning of Services to various Users through Self Provisioning Portal
iv. Tracking the usage of the resources and services for different users.
c) The technology is of immense use
Where the infrastructure has to be optimally utilized
Significantly speed up design and roll out services
On demand provisioning of Compute, Storage, Platform and Applications
The proposed draft IT policy under preparation also mentions that the emerging technology like Cloud
Computing, will help in value creation and drive transformation domestically.

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Science and Technology/Defence/Boeing P-8i

Boeing P-8i
Importance Level: Important: Already asked

Boeing has successfully tested the first of the eight P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and antisubmarine warfare aircraft being built for the Indian Navy.
The aircraft is being built for India as part of a contract awarded in January 2009 and the Boeing-led
team is on track to deliver the first aircraft to the Indian Navy in 2013
P-8i is a variant of Boeing P-8 Poseidon.

[Note: Asked in UPSC:CSE 2010]

Science and Technology/ IT/ 5G

5G
Importance Level: Important

5G technology is under research and it would have some good features along with the features of 4G.
It is said that this will give high bit rate transfer with low costs.
1. High bit transfer rate2. Near about 1 GBPS speed3. Low traffic rates4. Better coverage5. Better
security for users6. High resolution7. Remote Diagnostic8. Larger bandwidth
Status of 4G in India: TRAI has released a consultation paper on 19-08-2011.

Science and Technology/ Biotech/ BT Cotton

Bollgard II Cotton
Importance Level: Good

Bollgard I, the predominantly cultivated pest tolerant cotton, contains only one gene, the Cry 1Ac, from
Bacillus thuringiensis. Bollgard II contains the Cry 2 Ab gene, in addition to Cry 1 Ac. The Bollgard II
event developed by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd, (MMBL) is technically designated as MON 15985.
BOLLGARD II IS MORE PEST TOLERANT
BOLLGARD II IS WATER EFFICIENT
In May 2006, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) approved for commercial release,
Bollgard II cotton hybrids

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Science and Technology/ New Technologies, Devices and Discoveries/ Hyalfa


Importance Level: Good

World's first fleet of hydrogen-fuelled three-wheelers almost a zero-emission vehicle while its fuel
consumption is substantially lower as compared to gasoline with 1 kg of hydrogen giving around 80 km
mileage.
The three-wheelers have been developed under a project, DelHy 3W, of the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization (UNIDO)'s International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies (UNIDOICHET) in association with Mahindra & Mahindra and IIT-Delhi, besides being supported by the Ministry
of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).
Part of a development project dubbed DelHy 3w, a fleet of 15 HyAlfa three-wheelers will run on an
experimental basis at Pragati Maidan

Science and Technology/ IT/ QR code

QR code / QRC / 2D Barcodes


Importance Level: Good

QR or Quick Response Codes are a type of two-dimensional(matrix) barcode that can be read using
smartphones and dedicated QR reading devices, that link directly to text, emails, websites, phone
numbers and more. Below is the QR code of visionias.in

QR codes are huge in Japan and across the East, and are slowly beginning to become commonplace in
the West.
Ordinarily we think of a barcode as a collection of vertical lines; 2D Barcodes or QR Codes are different
in that the data is stored in both directions and can be scanned vertically OR horizontally.
Whilst a standard 1D Barcode stores up to 30 numbers, a QR Barcode can store up to a massive 7,089!
It is this massive amount of data that enables links to such things as videos, Facebook or Twitter pages
or a plethora of other website pages.

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Popular 2D barcode

The most popular 2D barcode formats are QRC, DataMatrix, ScanLife, EZcode, and Microsoft Tag. But
the name QRC has come to stay.

In News:
RMC starts QR code for validity - Indian Express
In a first of its kind service in the country by any government body, the documents issued by Rajkot Municipal
Corporation (RMC) can now be validated by citizens or authorities through a unique Quick Response (QR) code,
an application so far used by multinationals and IT companies for the validity of the information.

Science and Technology/ Biotech/ Artificial gene synthesis

Artificial gene synthesis / Artificial Life /Artificial DNA


Importance Level: Good

Artificial gene synthesis is the process of synthesizing a gene in vitro without the need for initial
template DNA samples.
Synthesis of the first complete gene, a yeast tRNA, was demonstrated by Har Gobind Khorana and
coworkers in 1972
On May 21, 2010, J. Craig Venter and his team had successfully synthesized the genome of the
bacterium Mycoplasma mycoides from a computer record, and transplanted the synthesized genome
into the existing cell of a Mycoplasma capricolum bacterium that had had its DNA removed. The
"synthetic" bacterium was viable, i.e. capable of replicating billions of times.
The transformed bacterium is dubbed "Synthia.

Application:

safely obtain genes for vaccine research without the need to grow the full pathogens.
create artificial life forms.

Science and Technology/ Biotech/ Biopiracy

Biopiracy
Importance Level: Good
Biopiracy is a situation where indigenous knowledge of nature is exploited for commercial gain with no
compensation to the indigenous people themselves.

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Science and Technology/ Health / Biomagnification

Biomagnification
Importance Level: Good

Biomagnification, also known as bioamplification or biological magnification, is the increase in


concentration of a substance that occurs in a food chain as a consequence of:
1. Persistence (can't be broken down by environmental processes)
2. Food chain energetics Low (or nonexistent)
3. rate of internal degradation/excretion of the substance (often due to water-insolubility)

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Social issues/ Health/ ICMR

100 years of ICMR


Importance Level: Good

In 1911, the Government of India had set up the Indian Research Fund Association, as the premier
national agency for the formulation, promotion and conduct of biomedical research in India.
In 1949 it was re-designated as Indian Council of Medical Research. ICMR has since blossomed into a
vibrant network of more than 30 permanent institutes/Centers and over 70 field stations, employing
over 5000 personnel including 750 scientists.
ICMR and its nationwide network of Institutes has not only done commendable work on several vector
borne diseases, bacterial, parasitic and viral infections, nutrition related aspects, cancer, genetics,
blood disorders, human reproduction and occupational health but also maintained respect for
traditional medicine and herbal remedies.
ICMR has provided critical research support whenever the health needs of the country demanded rapid
responses e.g. SARS, HIV, influenza, and other new and emerging and remerging infections like dengue,
and co-morbidities (HIV-TB) and the emerging epidemic of life-style diseases.
In addition, the Council enjoys special relationships with international research and funding agencies as
the most favored partner in India.

Geography of India/ Ecology and Environment/ Climate Change

Carbon Sequestration
Importance Level: Somewhat Important
Carbon Sequestration

Sequestration is the carbon-capturing method which involves injecting the gas directly into
underground geological formations. Oil fields, gas fields, saline formations, unminable coal seams, and
saline-filled basalt formations have been suggested as storage sites.

Carbfix Project

It is project that aims at pumping carbon deep underground in southwest Iceland where it will mix with
minerals and become rock.
A primary goal of the CarbFix project is to imitate the natural storage process of CO2 already observed
in geothermal fields.
The projects implications for the fight against global warming may be considerable, since basaltic
bedrock susceptive of CO2 injections are widely found on the planet.

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Science and Technology/ Defence/ TAL TORPEDO

TAL TORPEDO
Importance Level: Somewhat Important
TAL TORPEDO

The Light Weight Torpedo has been indigenously developed by the National Science and Technology
Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam.
The Light Weight Torpedo (TAL) is an electrically propelled, self- homing Torpedo which can be
launched both from ships and helicopters. It can hunt submarines with a speed of 33 knots with
endurance of six minutes in shallow and deep waters. The Torpedo weighs around 220 kgs. BDL(Bharat
Dynamics Ltd) is manufacturing these Torpedoes at its Visakhapatnam Unit.
Status: Defence Minister handed over the advanced light-weight torpedo, TAL to the Indian Navy.

Science and Technology/ Other/ Hydroponics

Hydroponics
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil.
A hydroponics green fodder production unit, which can produce it faster than conventional method of
30-45 days, was inaugurated at ICAR research complex, Old Goa.

Science and Technology/Health/drug addiction

Methadone
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has launched Methadone Maintenance Treatment
(MMT) programme at its National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), which is the national
nodal centre for drug treatment recognised by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
This new medication Methadone has been launched for those who are addicted to opioids drugs
such as heroin/brown sugar on a pilot basis at five centres across India. The project is a joint effort of
AIIMS and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Regional Office for South Asia
(ROSA), among others.

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Methadone is the most extensively used medication for long-term treatment for opioid dependence.
It also provides the users with an opportunity to restore balance in psychological, social and
occupational spheres of their lives and assists in their rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

Science and Technology/ Defence/ Boeing X-51A Waverider

Boeing X-51A Waverider


Importance Level:Somewhat Important

An unmanned U.S. military jet designed to fly at hypersonic speeds and travel from London to New
York in just 45 minutes has failed during a trial as it crashed into the Pacific Ocean within seconds of its
launch.
It uses scramjet technology.
Previously, It successfully completed its first free-flight on 26 May 2010

Scramjet technology

A scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) is a variant of a ramjet airbreathing jet engine in which
combustion takes place in supersonic airflow.
As in ramjets, a scramjet relies on high vehicle speed to forcefully compress and decelerate the
incoming air before combustion (hence ramjet), but whereas a ramjet decelerates the air to subsonic
velocities before combustion, airflow in a scramjet is supersonic throughout the entire engine. This
allows the scramjet to operate efficiently at extremely high speeds.
[Note: Missile carries its oxygen inboard but jet uses atmospheric air/oxygen ]

Science and Technology/ Other/ Personal rapid transit (PRT)

Pod-cars/Personal rapid transit (PRT)


Importance Level: Somewhat Important

Personal rapid transit (PRT), also called podcar, is a public transportation mode featuring small
automated vehicles operating on a network of specially built guide ways.
PRT is a type of automated guideway transit (AGT), a class of system which also includes larger vehicles
all the way to small subway systems.
In PRT designs, vehicles are sized for individual or small group travel, typically carrying no more than 3
to 6 passengers per vehicle
The award winning ULTra PRT system began passenger trials at London Heathrow Airport, Terminal 5,
in October 2010 and opened for full passenger service 22 hours a day, 7 days a week, in May 2011.

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In News:

Indian Express: For better connectivity to airport, MSRDC(Maharashtra State Road Development
Corporation) mulls podcars

The Hindu: Pod-cars to link major work centres

Science and Technology/ IT/ DVD

DVD DL/DVD+R DL
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

DVD+R DL (DL stands for Dual Layer) also called DVD+R9, is a derivative of the DVD+R format
DVD+R DL discs employ two recordable dye layers, each capable of storing nearly the 4.7 GB capacity
of a single-layer disc, almost doubling the total disc capacity to 8.55 GB (or 7.96 GiB).

DVD+R
A DVD+R is a recordable optical disc.

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Science and Technology/ Other/ Pollution, outdoor and indoor

Management of Pollution from Metals and Minerals


Importance Level: Somewhat Important
Introduction:

The saying prevention is better than cure applies to environmental pollution as it does to
diseases.
Thus technological options should not just be confined to remediation strategies, but concentrate
on mitigation strategies through reductioneither by total replacement of heavy metals/minerals
by alternatives or refining the existing technologies for reducing the requirement.
Polluted environment in any case leads to disease and ill health

Remediation Technologies

Release within safe limits has to be through three complementary functions: 1) Technological 2)
Management (implementation) and 3) Regulatory. Once the metal is out of the earths crust, it is
difficult to put it back into earth despite efforts being made.
Technologies for reduction should be cost- effective and affordable.
Most industries use engineering technologies for remediation based on physicochemical methods.
Bioremediation methods using plant and microbial systems have also been developed for
detecting pollution as well as for remediation.
Technological functions involve development of the treatment scheme whereby the quantity and
concentration in the waste/effluent is brought within the stipulated safe limits.
The responsibility of Management is to ensure that the right technologies are adopted and monitor
the end result.
Regulations are in place to regulate the release of toxic metals in the environment to ensure safety
and health of the workers as well as the public in general.
In India, small industries in unorganised sector contribute to a great deal of pollution.

Phytotechnologies to reduce the burden of heavy metal load

The techniques in Bioremediation/Phytoremediation include the application of appropriate plants


for in-situ risk reduction through contaminant removal, detoxification or containment in
contaminated soil, sediments, and ground water. This strategy/approach can be used along with
or, in some cases, in place of mechanical cleanup methods. Cleanup can be accomplished to certain
level within the reach of plants roots.
NEERI, has developed several technologies for water and land sectors for waste management as
well as a kit for testing the quality of water.

Genetically modified plants for phytoremediation

Both microorganisms and higher plants have been genetically modified for detoxification of soils
contaminated with heavy metals or minerals.

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Following are some examples: (i) Ralstonia eutropha* (a natural inhabitant of soil) was
transformed using a mouse gene encoding metallothionein, which was expressed on the surface of
the cell surface thus helping in sequestering of cadmium from the soil; (ii) Transgenic plants of
Arabidopsis thaliana were produced for detoxification of soils contaminated with either
aluminium, or arsenic or mercury. For aluminium detoxification, a gene encoding citrate synthase
(CSb) was used, while for arsenic, genes encoding arsenic reductase (ArsC) and glutamylcysteine
synthase (gamma-ECS) were used. Similarly, for mercury detoxification, genes encoding mercury
reductase and organomercurial lyase (merA and merB) were used.
Apart from phytoremediation, plants can also be used to detect metal pollution.

Management of Natural Burden of Arsenic and Fluoride

In areas where water has high load of minerals like arsenic and fluoride, alternative sources- (canal
water, rain water harvesting) would have to be provided not only for drinking water but also for
farming. Technologies for de-fluoridation of drinking water have been developed.

Science and Technology/ Other/ Polonium

Polonium poisoning
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

Polonium is highly dangerous and has no biological role.


By mass, polonium-210 is around 250,000 times more toxic than hydrogen cyanide.
Yasser Arafats family launched legal action in France last month over claims the veteran Palestinian
leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning.

Science and Technology/ IT/ AGRISNET

AGRISNET
Importance Level:Somewhat Important

The Government has promulgated the Agriculture Information System Network (AGRISNET) in
the country.

AGRISNET envisages promotion of e-Governance by use of Information & Communication


Technology (ICT).

The objective of the programme is to provide IT enabled services to farmers and also for
computerization of various offices in the States in agriculture & allied sectors.

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Science and Technology/ IT/ Android

Android
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such
as smartphones and tablet computers, developed by Google in conjunction with the Open Handset
Alliance.
along with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance, a consortium of 86 hardware, software, and
telecommunication companies devoted to advancing open standards for mobile devices.
Android was unveiled in 2007
by the end of 2010 Android had become the world's leading smartphone platform.
It had a worldwide smartphone market share of 59% at the beginning of 2012
The user interface in Android is based on the concept of direct manipulation,[33] using single- and
multi-touch inputs like swiping, tapping, pinching and reverse pinching to manipulate on-screen
objects.
Android has a rapid release cycle, with new major versions being released every six to nine
months.
Applications are usually developed in the Java language using the Android Software Development
Kit, but other development tools are available, including a Native Development Kit for applications
or extensions in C or C++
Google Play is an online software store developed by Google for Android devices.
Android applications run in a sandbox, an isolated area of the operating system that does not have
access to the rest of the system's resources, unless access permissions are granted by the user
when the application is installed.
The source code for Android is available under free and open source software licenses. Android,
BlackBerry, iOS(Apple) and Symbian(Nokia) are the worlds best mobile operating systems.
However, there are many differences between their features and performance.

Science and Technology/ Biotech/ bionic eye

Bionic eye
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

A visual prosthesis, often referred to as a bionic eye, is an experimental visual device intended to
restore functional vision in those suffering from partial or total blindness
Argus II, manufactured by Second Sight Medical Products Inc. is the only such device to have received
marketing approval.
In News: Australian scientists said, on 30 August 2012, they had successfully implanted a "world first"
bionic eye prototype, describing it as a major breakthrough for the visually impaired.

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Science and Technology/Biotech/Biosimilar

Biosimilar
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

The term biosimilar refers to products that are marketed after expiration of patents, which are claimed
to have similar properties to existing biologic products. Due to the complexity of biologics, a product
can only be made that is similar, but not identical.
Biosimilars are generic impersonations (although not identical copies) of biotech drugs.
Manufacturing processes for biologics differ greatly from the manufacturing processes for small
molecule drugs.

Science and Technology/ Health / Microwave cooking

Microwave cooking
Importance Level: Somewhat Important

In conventional cooking, the heat is applied to the outside of the food body by conduction and then
conducted to the interior of the food. Heat generated from within the food by a series of molecular
vibrations is the basis for microwave cooking. The advantages of microwave cooking are higher
energy efficiency, greater time saving, convenience and easy cleaning. The vitamin losses during this
procedure are small and are comparable to those that occur when vegetables are cooked with little
or no water. The disadvantage is less palatability of food.

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Science and Technology/ Health / Dendritic cells (DCs)

Nobel Prize 2011


Importance Level: Somewhat Important

ON October 3rd it was announced that this year s Nobel Prize was being awarded to Bruce A.
Beutler at the Scripps Research Institute in California and Jules A. Hoffmann at the French National
Center for Scientific Research for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity and
the other half to Ralph M. Steinman at Rockefeller University in New York City for his discover y
of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity. The prize money would be divided between
Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann, who jointly shared half the 10 million-kronor ($1.5 million)
award, and Ralph Steinman would receive the other half.
Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against
infections, cancer, and inflammatory y diseases.
Unfortunately, in the rarest of events and the first in the history of the Nobel Prize, a dead person was
named the laureate. The Nobel Assembly didnt know Steinman was dead when it chose him as a
winner.
There are two lines of defense mechanism in humansinnate and adaptive immunity. The first line of
defense, innate
immunity, can destroy invading microorganisms and trigger inflammation
thus blocking their assault.
If microorganisms break through this defense
Line, adaptive immunity is called into action. With its T and B cells, it produces antibodies and killer
cells that destroy infected cells.

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Science and Technology/ IT/ TLD

gTLD
Importance Level: General Awareness

A generic top-level domain (gTLD) is one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) such as .edu,
.info .
ICANN has recently agreed to introduce new gTLDs*.
A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name
System of the Internet.
For example, in the domain name www.example.com, the top-level domain is .com.
Two types of TLDs are in operation now: gTLDs such as .com or .edu; and country code top-level
domains (ccTLDs) like .in (for India) or .uk (for the United Kingdom).

*Criticism of new TLD policy:

Allowing private (as against public) TLDs that employ full generic words may hamper the public
interest.

Science and Technology/ IT/ Blue-Fi

Blue-Fi
Importance Level: General Awareness

The Bangalore Division of the South Western Railway (SWR) is all set to launch Blue-Fi, a combination
of Bluetooth application as well as Wi-Fi connectivity at the station, facilitated by RailTel Corporation of
India, the Railway Ministry's telecom arm.
a host of information, including details of arrival and departure of trains, downloadable games,
wallpapers and so on.
While a private company is already providing Wi-Fi connectivity at the Mysore Railway Station, the
Bluetooth facility is a first for Indian Railways

Science and Technology/ New Technologies, Devices and Discoveries/ Metallic microlattice

Metallic microlattice
Importance Level: General Awareness

Scientists have developed what they claim is the world's lightest material a metal with a density of
0.9 mg/cc.

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A team from the University of California, the California Institute of Technology and the HRL
Laboratories says that the new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its
unique micro-lattice cellular architecture.
The scientists were able to make a material that consists of 99.99 per cent air by designing the 0.01 per
cent solid at the nanometre, micron and millimetre scales
Developed for the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, the novel material could be used for
battery electrodes and acoustic, vibration or shock energy absorption

Science and Technology/ Other/ Thermo-mechanical treatment(TMT)

Thermo-mechanical treatment(TMT)
Importance Level: General Awareness

Thermo-mechanical treatment(TMT) is process to produce high strength steel bars used in building
construction.
The process produces a high strength bar from inexpensive low carbon steel.

Science and Technology/ Energy/ waste to energy

RDF/SRF
Importance Level: General Awareness

Refuse-derived fuel (RDF) or solid recovered fuel/ specified recovered fuel (SRF) is a fuel produced by
shredding and dehydrating solid waste (MSW) with a Waste converter technology.
RDF consists largely of combustible components of municipal waste such as plastics and biodegradable
waste.

Science and Technology/ Health / gender test

Gender test
Importance Level:General Awareness

Gender verification in sports (also known as sex verification, or loosely as gender determination or
a sex test) is the issue of verifying the eligibility of an athlete to compete in a sporting event that is
limited to a single sex.
The issue arose a number of times in the Olympic games where it was alleged that male athletes
attempted to compete as women in order to win, or that an intersexed person competed as a
woman

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While it would seem a simple case of checking for XX vs. XY chromosomes to determine whether
an athlete is a woman or a man, it is not that simple. Fetuses start out as undifferentiated, and the
Y chromosome turns on a variety of hormones that differentiate the baby as a male. Sometimes
this does not occur, and people with two X chromosomes can develop hormonally as a male, and
people with an X and a Y can develop hormonally as a female.
Nowadays, gender verification tests typically involve evaluation by gynecologists, endocrinologists,
psychologists, and internal medicine specialists.

In News
o

o
o

In July 2012 a rape allegation by Pinki Pramanik's female friend led to medical tests to determine
her gender. Initial private tests claimed to show her to be male. Pramanik disagreed with these
results and police ordered a separate government-led test as part of the trial
The results at the SSKM Government Hospital were inconclusive.
The Court then directed a chromosome pattern test.

History
o

Indian middle-distance runner Santhi Soundarajan, who won the silver medal in 800 m at the 2006
Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, failed the gender verification test and was stripped of her medal.

Science and Technology/ Health / Thalidomide

Thalidomide
Importance Level: General Awareness

Thalidomide is a sedative drug introduced in the late 1950s that was used to treat morning sickness
and aid sleep.
It was sold from 1957 until 1961, when it was withdrawn after being found to be a cause of birth
defects.

In News:

THE HINDU: An Australian woman born without arms and legs 50 years ago after her mother took the
drug Thalidomide during pregnancy won a multi-million-dollar court settlement.

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Social issues/ Health/ HIV-AIDS

Bryologs and HAART


Importance Level:General Awareness

Compound that flushes out latent HIV created.


Researchers have created a collection of bryologs derived from a tiny marine organism, that been
shown to activate latent HIV reservoirs with equal or greater potency than the original substance. A
collection of bryologs activate hidden reservoirs of the virus that currently make the disease nearly
impossible to eradicate.

HAART

Highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, is a therapy for HIV but not a complete cure.

Science and Technology/ Energy/ Power Felt Technology

Power Felt Technology


Importance Level: General Awareness

Researchers at Wake Forest University have developed a new technology called Power Felt, which is
capable of converting body heat to electricity.
Power Felt is constructed with carbon nanotubes that integrated in plastic that feels just like fabric
The difference between room and body temperature could be enough to deliver enough charge for a
phone call, or a flashlight
Power Felt is still in its nascent stages and does not deliver enough power to make a case for mass
production.

Science and Technology/ Health / Hantavirus

Hantavirus
Importance Level: General Awareness

Hantavirus is a life-threatning disease spread to humans by rodents that has symptoms similar to
influenza.
It does not spread between humans.
The virus is found in the rodents urine and feces, but it does not make it sick.
India, East Asia strain of the virus affects kidneys while the US strain affects lungs.

In News: Hantavirus back in Andhra after 10 yrs - Indian Express


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Science and Technology/ New Technologies, Devices and Discoveries/ New Robots

'Scout robot' may soon replace CCTV camera - Indian Express


Importance Level: General Awareness

Scientists have developed a new flying robot equipped with the world's most advanced intelligence
systems which could help spy on and track down criminals easily.
The robot, called the Scout, can go up to 500ft above the ground and can zoom in to a close-up from a
300 metres away, meaning it may not even be seen while on a mission.

Social issues/ Health/ Maleria

Malaria vaccine comes closer to reality - Times Of India


Importance Level: General Awareness

Two multi-national research teams have newly sequenced malaria genomes revealing new challenges
in efforts to eradicate the parasite.
They focus on Plasmodium vivax (P. vivax), a species of malaria that afflicts humans and the most
prevalent human malaria parasite outside Africa, and Plasmodium cynomolgi (P. cynomolgi), a close
relative that infects Asian Old World monkeys.

Science and Technology/ Defence/ SQ-4 Recon

A new nanodrone developed in the UK - Economic Times


Importance Level: General Awareness

A new 'nanodrone' weighing just 198 grammes, one of the smallest unmanned aerial vehicles in the
world, has been devised in the UK and is currently being examined by the US military to take on the
Taliban.

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Science and Technology/ Other/ Aerographite

Aerographite
Importance Level: General Awareness

Aerographite is a synthetic foam consisting of a porous interconnected network of tubular carbon.


With a density of 0.18 mg/cm3 it is claimed to be the lightest structural material.
It was developed jointly by a team of researchers at the University of Kiel and the Technical University
of Hamburg in Germany, and was first reported in a scientific journal in June 2012.

Science and Technology/ Health / RhoC

RhoC
Importance Level: General Awareness

Scientists claimed to have discovered the gene that encourages the spread of breast cancer, paving
way for new treatments for the deadly disease.

Science and Technology/ IT/display technologies

Project Glass
Importance Level:General Awareness

Project Glass is a research and development program by Google to develop an augmented reality headmounted display (HMD).
The intended purpose of Project Glass products would be the hands-free displaying of information
currently available to most smartphone users.
On June 27, 2012, Sergey Brin demoed the glasses.

Science and Technology/ IT/ malware

Alureon
Importance Level:General Awareness

Alureon is a trojan and bootkit which is designed, amongst other things, to steal data by intercepting a
system's network traffic and searching it for usernames, passwords and credit card data.

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23

Science and Technology/ Space/ gaia

Gaia (spacecraft)
Importance Level: General Awareness

Gaia (originally an acronym for Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics) is a European
Space Agency (ESA) space mission in astrometry to be launched in August 2013.
Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the
process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia will provide
unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the accuracies needed to produce a
stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local
Group. This amounts to about 1 per cent of the Galactic stellar population.

Science and Technology/ Space/ Mars mission

InSight MISSION
Importance Level: General Awareness

InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is a proposed
NASA Discovery Program mission that will place a single geophysical lander on Mars to study its deep
interior.
But InSight is more than a Mars mission - it is a terrestrial planet explorer that will address one of the
most fundamental issues of planetary and solar system science - understanding the processes that
shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system (including Earth) more than four billion years ago.

Science and Technology/ New Technologies, Devices and Discoveries/ Scientists try to crack
monsoon code

SAPRISE
Importance Level: General Awareness
Is monsoon pattern changing? India-UK study will try to find out - Times Of India

The Rs 10 crore project - called South Asian Precipitation: A Seamless Assessment (SAPRISE) - is
bringing together around 35 scientists who would scrutinize all factors that impact rainfall in the
region.

The mega programme, part of a larger study of the Indian water cycle, is being jointly funded with the
ministry of earth sciences (MoES) putting in Rs 3.5 crore and the UK government 1million pounds.

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Science and Technology/ Other/ Ekso

Ekso (or eLEGS)


Importance Level: General Awareness

A wearable robot helps disabled people walk


"Exoskeleton Lower Extremity Gait System"
is another hydraulically powered exoskeleton system, and allows paraplegics to stand and walk with
crutches or a walker
Ekso is currently undergoing further development and clinical trials in rehabilitation centers.

Science and Technology/ Biotech/ designer baby

Designer baby
Importance Level: General Awareness

The word designer baby has been defined in Oxford dictionar y as a baby whose genetic makeup
has been artificially selected by genetic engineering combined with in vitro fertilisation to ensure the
presence or absence of particular genes or characteristics.

The technology behind designer babies is based on Pre-implantation Genetic Disorder (PGD). The
embryo is created through In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). A single cell is removed from the embryo within
five days, and it is then genetically tested. The parents then decide whether to discard the embryo or
implant it.

Science and Technology/ Ecology and Environment/ ug99

ug99
Importance Level: General Awareness

ug99 is a virulent strain of old crop disease Black Stem Rust that has evolved to overcome the
resistance prevalent in wheat varieties during the Green Revolution of the 1960s.
Black Stem Rust is a disease caused by a fungi Puccinia graminis in wheat.
Presently, Ug99 does not occur in India and all actions are in place to check its entry and to nip it in the
bud should it enter the country.

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25

Science and Technology/ Space/ Supernovae

Supernovae
Importance Level: General Awareness

ACCORDING to the 2011 Nobel laureates in physics, the Universe will end in ice!
it was a million dollar question whether the Universe was open (that is, keeps on expanding for
ever, probably at an accelerated pace) or closed (slows down in its expansion, ultimately
collapsing into a big crunch where all matter will end in a singularity). The first would happen if
dark energy (energy that could not be detected by conventional equipments) dominated the
Universe and the latter would happen if the so-called dark matter (matter that does not emit
radiation at observable wavelengths) filled up the Universe, causing a gravitational collapse. Most
astronomers (including the Nobel Laureates) believed in the latter scenario and they were in for
a great surprise when observations proved the contrary.
The teams reached the conclusion by observing supernova explosions at about one-third the
distance to the observable limit of the Universe (modern estimates put the limit of the
observable Universe at about 46 to 47 billion light years away!).
Supernovae are stars that undergo a cataclysmic explosion during the end of their lives. Normally,
very heavy stars (more than ten times massive than the Sun) would rapidly use their nuclear fuel
and end up in an explosion that outshines the parent galaxy.

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