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  • Solar Power

    Tamil Nadu eyes 3,000MW solar energy by 2015

    Intent on increasing dependence on clean, climate-friendly, abundant energy resource, the state government on Saturday unveiled a new policy hoping to clock a production of 3,000MW of solar power by 2015.

  • Science and Technology

    Birla Planetarium

    B. M. Birla Planetarium is a large planetarium in Chennai providing a virtual tour of the night sky and holding cosmic shows on a specially perforated hemispherical aluminium inner dome.

Science News - All News India

  • Medicine

    India’s Ancient Medicine - Ayurveda

    Considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives.

A robotic warplane began navigating the deck of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier as a prelude to possible flight tests. The Navy's X-47B drone rolled around the deck of the USS Harry S. Truman under the guidance of human operators — going through the motions necessary for preparing to take off or taxiing around the busy flight deck. Such testing marked a historic step toward a future when the U.S. military replaces many of its manned fighter jets and bombers with robotic warplanes. "This type of innovation hasn't been seen since the first time an aircraft landed aboard a carrier, which puts us further ahead as a military," said Lt. Anthony Lee, Truman's flight deck officer.
The massive extinction that killed off the dinosaurs may have also decimated lizards and snakes, according to new research. In the past, researchers believed that the K-T extinction, which occurred around 65 million years ago, wiped out dinosaurs, but mostly spared lizards and snakes. But the new findings, published today (Dec. 10) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that about 83 percent of these reptiles went extinct. "I think it is a pretty important piece of work," said Stephen Brusatte, a paleontologist from Columbia University who was not involved in the study. "It does a nice job of showing that extinction at the end of the Cretaceous really hit lizards and snakes hard."
Merging the Elements Photograph courtesy Robert Ferguson, Boeing/NASA An experimental Boeing X-48B aircraft sports a unique design that smoothly combines its body and wings. The X-48B's "blended wing body" could become a popular template for commercial passenger planes in the coming decades because of its fuel-saving potential, according to a new report by the U.K.'s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). Entitled "Aero 2075: Flying Into A Bright Future?", the report examines game-changing concepts that could reshape air travel. The blended wing body design, for instance, merges the fuselage, wings, and engines in an airplane into a single surface, which "means you've only got one surface to lift, with increased aerodynamic efficiency," explained Philippa Oldham, head of transport at IMechE and the lead author of the new report. "With the current 'cigar tube with wings' design, which has a larger surface area, this leads to an increase in drag, and therefore the aircraft is less aerodynamically efficient."

(Image: Jay Mark Johnson)

IT'S a still image that is more about time than space. Remarkably, the picture has not been Photoshopped: it's simply a different way of looking at the world. If Doctor Who had a camera, he might take shots like this. And as it happens, the title sequence for the BBC show in the 1970s was created with a similar "slit-scan" technique.

Slit-scan cameras take many images in vertical slices, and stack them side by side. The result is that anything stationary, in the background, appears blurred, while anything passing by the slit jumps out at you, clear against the smear. This photo shows a field in Siem Reap, Cambodia, taken by photographer Jay Mark Johnson of Venice, California.

It's hard to get your head around. The camera views the world through an unmoving vertical slit, taking successive shots over time. The left side of the image here corresponds to the earlier shots and the last sliver on the far right is the most recent. It's a time-panorama. The background didn't move, so is smeared out, but the farmer and his buffalos passed by. If the farmer had stopped for a while in front of the slit he would appear elongated; had he raced past the camera, he would appear compacted.

"I make photographic time lines," Johnson says on his website. "Because the photographs seamlessly blend visual depictions of space and time into a single hybrid image they provide an altered 'spacetime' view of the world."

Fans of science fiction may like to know that in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the stretch effect of the Enterprise going to warp speed was made using the slit-scan technique, which was also used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

No, this isn't a candy forest. This is the Peruvian Amazon as seen by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO), an instrument-laden aircaft that is mapping tropical ecology in unprecedented detail. The plane carries the Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System, or AToMS, which uses an imaging spectrometer that engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, helped to build. It detects chemical signals and recognises the signatures of plant species, while a laser-ranging system draws up a 3D model of the landscape below. The CAO can reach every tropical region on the planet and scan 50,000 hectares a day. "It's like taking an X-ray of an entire landscape, plant by plant, and each tiny hill," said Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science. "We can see how just a 1- or 2-foot change in ground elevation can create a new habitat for rainforest species, with measurable effects on the rainforest biomass. AToMS consistently reveals something we didn't know, and often many things we had never considered." The new technology can measure ecosystem chemistry, biomass and biodiversity - information that can be used to help mitigate climate change, conserve forests and manage ecosystem. AToMs can even detect the water content of leaves, detecting which plants are under stress from drought, which may increase in the near future. Here, blue shows high nitrogen concentrations in canopies; purple is high nitrogen, water and cellulose; and red is high chlorophyll and photosynthetic pigments. "Probably the most profound scientific advances revolve around directly measuring biodiversity in some of the most critically endangered regions of our planet," Asner said. AToMS began work in June 2011, and the team presented their first results at the American Geophysical Union meetings in San Francisco last week.
(Image: Ed Manley & James Cheshire) Twitter has its own #language, but this map shows that in the home of the Queen's English, the Twittersphere is a polyglot place. Using an algorithm adapted from web browser Google Chrome, engineering doctorate candidate Ed Manley and spatial analysis lecturer James Cheshire, both from University College London, were able to detect the language of tweets sent from the London area over the summer. Of 3.3 million tweets, 92.5 per cent are, not surprisingly, in English. The biggest tweeting tongues after that are Spanish (grey), French (red), Turkish (dark blue), Arabic (green), Portuguese (purple), German (orange), Italian (yellow), Malay (turquoise) and Russian (pink). Arabic tweeters are busy in the strongly Middle Eastern area of Edgware Road, to the north-east of Hyde Park. They are also thick on the ground in the top-drawer shopping districts of Knightsbridge and Kensington. Turkish tweeting is spread across north London, while there are clear hotspots of Francophone activity - one in fashionable Notting Hill and another at the Institut Français. "We're just showing that people can see this pattern going on," Manley says. "I hope this helps people think about the people who use Twitter." Sixty-six languages were detected overall, and Manley said he was surprised to find a few in Basque, Haitian Creole and Swahili. Quite a few seemed to be written in the Filipino language Tagalog, but most of them turned out to be phrases like "hahahahaha" or "lolololol," and were excluded. "I don't know much about Tagalog," Manley says on his blog, "but it seems like a fun language." Manley's and Cheshire's work contrasts starkly with census information, which puts English-speakers in London at 60 per cent, leading Manley to conclude that either people tweet more in English or that English-speakers tweet more. Manley, a Twitter user himself, thinks that one of the reasons people tweet is to build communities. "I think it's a sort of democratisation of communication in a way," he says. "Because what you know have is you can communicate with anyone directly without any barrier. You can tweet Barack Obama and he might reply, though he probably won't."

(Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MIT/GSFC)

Twin spacecraft orbiting the moon have created an incredibly detailed map of our companion. In this image, the moon's normally sober appearance has been enhanced with colours to represent variations in its structure - red indicates more massive areas and blue corresponds to less mass.

The two satellites that made the map are called Ebb and Flow, and together they're known as GRAIL (Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory). Precise microwave measurements between Ebb and Flow allowed NASA to build the map from data acquired from March to May this year.

Because the moon lacks an atmosphere, the mapping satellites can orbit very close to the surface, allowing them to create the most detailed gravity map of any body in the solar system. The GOCE satellite working on a similar map of Earth has to stay 10 times further away to avoid atmospheric drag.

As seen in the video below, the far side of the moon appears far more pockmarked because it has more small craters. Researchers hope that this map could reveal whether the Earth once had two moons but lost one when it crashed onto our moon's far side, revealing why the crust is much thicker there.

Budding scientists eager to learn the importance and use of renewable energy sources can now turn to a 'renewable energy park' being set up by the government of Tamil Nadu state in south India, which will have gadgets on non-conventional energy sources and models. State-owned Periyar Science and Technology Centre (PSTC) in association with Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) will set up the park at a cost of Rs 1.2 crore. "More than 80 per cent of construction work has been completed and the park, one of the best in the country, will be commissioned on a two-and-a-half acres of land at PSTC by October 2010," PSTC Director P Iyamperumal, told PTI. Most energy devices have been received and erected in the pari, which will have aesthetic landscaping and a 120 meter long mobius ring shaped pathway, he said. Iyamperumal said the park, being set up with financial support of Rs 89 lakh from Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources and Rs 34 lakh from TEDA, would provide an opportunity to get comprehensive knowledge about solar energy, wind energy, tidal energy, geo-thermal energy and bio-gas. With interactive exhibits as a novel concept, the park provides a gateway to learn basic principles of science and technology in a "healthy, open-air and natural environment," he said. Among the energy devices and system on display would be various types of solar cookers and water heating systems,solar desalination plant and air heating systems, as also photovoltaic systems. "We are also developing solar energy without any photo voltaic, which will be showcased in the park", Iyamperumal said, adding that a canteen utilising solar energy to cook food would be among the exhibits. He said other other renewable energy sources like tidal power generation unit, water power generator, ocean thermal energy conversion system, geothermal energy and fuel cell working model would be setup. On PSTC's other initatives, he said 'Science on Wheels' - a mobile exhibition unit, has been created for those who remain physically away from facilities provided by science centres. "This tours smaller district towns and suburbs of Tamil Nadu to showcase the PSTC initiative", he added. He said PSTC also planned to open Regional Science Centre at Coimbatore in February 2011 at a cost of Rs 8.5 crore. "Construction work has been completed.We are in the process of setting up a science park in the complex", he said,adding the Centre would have galleries with state-of-art educational facilities on the topics of Hall of Discovery, Environment, Biotechnology, Science Park and Herbal Garden and Non-Conventional Energy Park. "We also plan to open a District Science Centre at Vellore at a cost of Rs 2.91 crore by October", he said. The proposed science centres will function as an extension of Tamil Nadu Science and Technology Centre, Chennai. Source: GNA
Intent on increasing dependence on clean, climate-friendly, abundant energy resource, the state government on Saturday unveiled a new policy hoping to clock a production of 3,000MW of solar power by 2015. The falling prices of solar panels coinciding with the growing cost of grid power in India prompted the government to look at solar energy as a viable option, said the policy. It has brought large-scale power consumers into the initiative by mandating 6% solar purchase obligation (SPO). The SPO will be administered by Tangedco. The high tension consumers can fulfil obligation by generating captive solar power equivalent to or more than their SPO; or by buying equivalent to or more than their SPO from third party developers; or buying renewable energy certificates (by trading solar power) generated by projects equivalent to or more than their SPO and purchasing power from Tangedco at solar tariff. However, all were not happy with the government's new move. "The rate of solar power at present is around 10 to 12 per unit. The high tension users are now going through rough patch. Some subsidies should be given and solar energy as an alternative power source should be introduced in commercial and domestic sector also," said Mahendra Ramdas, former president of Tamil Nadu Electricity Consumers Association. The initiative, with a slew of encouraging features, finds opportunity in the rapidly declining solar power costs and aims at tapping at least 1,000MW energy annually. Elaborating on how the 3,000MW would be generated, the policy said, "In utility scale, out of 1,500MW, 1,000MW will be funded through SPO and the balance 500MW through generation-based incentives." The policy also promotes solar rooftops in domestic and government buildings. The state government, in all its new buildings, will provide solar rooftops, while all existing buildings will be provided solar panels in a phased manner. The government would also energise more than one lakh street lights through solar energy by 2015-16 and water supply installations in local bodies will be energised through solar power in a phased manner. Solar parks with a capacity of 50MW each will be developed in 24 districts across the state. The government also announced a slew of incentives to solar power manufacturers, including tax concessions. An empowered committee comprising chief secretary, finance secretary, energy secretary and others will accord solar project clearances.
B. M. Birla Planetarium is a large planetarium in Chennai providing a virtual tour of the night sky and holding cosmic shows on a specially perforated hemispherical aluminium inner dome. It is located at Kotturpuram in the Periyar Science and Technology Centre campus which houses eight galleries, namely, Physical Science, Electronics and Communication, Energy, Life Science, Innovation, Transport, International Dolls and Children and Materials Science, with over 500 exhibits. Built in 1988 in the memory of the great industrialist and visionary of India B. M. Birla, it is the most modern planetarium in India.
The planetarium is equipped with a versatile opto-mechanical GOTO GM II starfield projector,[3] an accompanying special-effects projector and an X-Y table system for simulating various celestial phenomena. The GM II projector has the provision to execute the diurnal, annual, latitudinal, and precessional motions. The pierced hemispherical inner dome of the planetarium, made of aluminium, is 15 m in diameter. The air-conditioned theatre has a seating capacity of 236. The total outlay proposed for the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002–2007) for the Periyar Science and Technology Centre and B. M. Birla Planetarium was 6.4 million, including 2.6 million for the X-Y table system at the planetarium.[4] A rocket model at the Science Park In 2009, the planetarium established the 360-degree sky theatre, the first in India,[5] with the installation of a full-dome mirror projection system with a DLP projector.[6] The 360-degree effect is created with the help of Wrap, a special software that takes care of curvature correction. The projector was installed at a cost of 2.1 million. The planetarium building features a circumferential hall of fame around the main theatre with portraits and statues of scientists and photographs and models of various heavenly bodies, celestial phenomena and space missions. In 2009, the U.S. Consulate at Chennai donated portraits of Neil Armstrong, Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla for display in the hall of fame to commemorate increasing Indo-U.S. space ties.[7] The planetarium also offers courses in astronomy and night-sky observations. There is a seminar hall and a classroom studio at the planetarium, where discussions and workshops are conducted by eminent personalities in the field of astronomy. The planetarium organizes a special show on every second Saturday of month to view the night sky from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Under Part II Scheme for the year 2011-2012, the state government has sanctioned an amount of 1.5 million for the modernisation of the planetarium by providing six-segment multimedia projection system.[8] [edit] Shows The planetarium conducts sky shows every day at different times in different languages. The shows include the Solar System, sky and seasons, eclipses, Earth, Man on Moon, comets, shooting meteoroids, stellar cycle and the deep sky. As of 2007, since its inception, the planetarium has introduced 35 programmes on these topics. Audio-visual programs on various aspects of astronomy and different cosmic phenomena are also shown. Program themes are changed every 3 months.[9] Shows are conducted in English and Tamil. The planetarium and the Science and Technology Centre is open on all days except on national holidays from 10:00 am to 5:45 pm. The Science and Technology Centre, however, receives complaints on lack of maintenance of the scientific displays at the science park.[10]
India's second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2, slated for 2014, will have to wait till the country's space agency flies two of its heavy rocket - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) - successfully, a top official said Thursday. Speaking to reporters after the successful launch of indigenously built Radar Imaging Satellite I (Risat-1) from here, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan said: "We plan to fly two GSLV rockets at an interval of six months before the Chandrayaan-2 mission." India's first unmanned moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, was launched in 2008. The country has planned its second moon mission along with Russia. The one major concern for ISRO now is getting ready the GSLV rocket which failed successively in 2010, thereby setting back many of the space agency's plans. According to Radhakrishnan, the space agency is in the process of getting its cryogenic engine ready to power the GSLV. The one GSLV rocket fitted with an ISRO made cryogenic engine failed in 2010 due to the failure of an engine component. He said two major ground tests of the cryogenic engine are being done. "We are planning a GSLV launch with Indian cryogenic engine during September/October 2012," Radhakrishnan remarked. He said the space agency will revert to a smaller heat shield (3.4 metre) for the rocket as against the four-metre heat shield fitted in the GSLV rocket that failed in 2010. The Russians had earlier pointed out that the bigger heat shield was the probable reason for the GSLV's instability during its flight in December 2010. Speaking about the status of GSLV Mark III, the upgraded variant of GSLV, Radhakrishnan said the rocket would have high power cryogenic engine. The engine's various subsystems also have to be tested, which would take a couple of years. He said an experimental flight of GSLV Mark III without the cryogenic engine is planned during 2012-13 to test the rocket's other parameters. Refuting the charge that ISRO was not fully utilizing the funds allocated to it, Radhakrishnan said the agency had spent Rs.20,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan period as against Rs.13,000 crore spent during the previous plan period. But he agreed that ISRO had not utilized the amount it got last fiscal in full. "A large portion the money remaining unspent was drawn for the purchase of around six to eight cryogenic engines from Russia after failure of the indigenously built cryogenic engine during a flight," Radhakrishnan said. On cost of Risat-1 mission, he said the rocket (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the satellite cost Rs.110 crore and Rs.378 crore respectively. He said Indian users can now use Risat-1's images instead of sourcing these from Canada. IANS

What is Ayurveda?

Considered by many scholars to be the oldest healing science, Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years and has only recently became popular in Western cultures. The "contemporary" form of Ayurvedic medicine is mostly derived from several sacred Indian texts which were written in Sanskrit between 1500 BC and 400 AD. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper drinking, diet, and lifestyle, as well as herbal remedies.

There are two main types of Ayurveda: traditional and Maharishi. The latter is a version of traditional Ayurveda based on translations from the classical texts by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Both types of Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe herbs, believe that disease results from an imbalance in the doshas (see below), and use many of the same remedies for treating illness. Maharishi Ayurveda, however, stresses the role of supreme consciousness in maintaining good health, and promotes Transcendental Meditation (TM) as a method for experiencing the pure consciousness of the universe. Maharishi Ayurveda also highlights the need to express positive emotions and to attune your life to the natural rhythms of the body.

How does it work?

Just as everyone has a unique thumbprint, according to Ayurvedic beliefs, each person has a distinct pattern of energy - a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. It is also believed that there are three basic energy types called doshas, present in every person:

Vata - energy that regulates bodily functions associated with motion including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and the beating of the heart. When vata energy is balanced, there is creativity and vitality. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta - energy that governs the body's metabolic systems including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes contentment and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta can cause ulcers and arouse anger.
Kapha - energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. In balance, kapha is expressed as love and forgiveness. Out of balance, kapha leads to insecurity and envy.

All people have vata, pitta, and kapha, but usually one or two are dominant in a given individual. Many factors can disturb the dosha balance such as stress, an unhealthy diet, the weather, and strained family relationships. Such disturbance is expressed in the body as disease. Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe treatments designed to bring the doshas back into balance.

From a Western medical perspective, relief of stress appears to be one of the ways that Ayurveda works to help fight illness. For example, studies have found that Transcendental Meditation, a component of Maharishi Ayurveda, reduces anxiety. Other studies have found that Ayurveda lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, slows the aging process, and speeds recovery from illness. The herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine often have antioxidant effects, which means that they may help protect against the damage from free radicals (by-products of normal metabolism in the body) like long term illnesses such as heart disease and arthritis. Many Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend a vegetarian diet, which is believed to be better for your heart than diets containing red meat.

A NEW FRONTIER The tradition of Science and Technology (S & T) in India is over 5000 years old. A renaissance was witnessed in the first half of the 20th century. The S&T infrastructure has grown up from about Rs. 10 million at the time of independence in 1947 to Rs. 30 billion. Significant achievements have been made in the areas of nuclear and space science, electronics and defense. The government is committed to making S&T an integral part of the socio-economic development of the country. "Param", the parallel super computer developed by India India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world; 162 universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research runs 40 research laboratories which have made some significant achievements. In the field of missile launch technology, India is among the five top nations of the world. Science and technology, however, is used as an effective instrument of growth and change. It is being brought into the mainstream of economic planning in the sectors of agriculture, industry and services. The country's resources are used to derive the maximum output for the benefit of society and improvement in the quality of life. About 85 per cent of the funds for S&T come directly or indirectly from the Government. The S&T infrastructure in the country accounts for more than one per cent of the GNP. S&T in India is entering a new frontier. Atomic Energy The prime objective of India's nuclear energy program is the development and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as power generation, applications in agriculture, medicine, industry, research and other areas. India is today recognized as one of the countries most advanced in nuclear technology including production of source materials. The country is self-reliant and has mastered the expertise covering the complete nuclear cycle - from exploration and mining to power generation and waste management. Accelerators and research and power reactors are now designed and built indigenously. The sophisticated variable energy cyclotron at Calcutta and a medium energy heavy ion accelerator 'pelletron' set up recently at Mumbai are national research facilities in the frontier areas of science. As part of its program of peaceful uses of atomic energy, India has also embarked on a program of nuclear power generation. Currently eight nuclear stations are producing 8 billion kilowatt of electricity. Four more nuclear power stations are planned. The new nuclear reactors are designed in India. The peaceful nuclear program also includes producing radioisotopes for use in agriculture, medicine, industry and research. Space The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), under the Department of Space (DOS), is responsible for research, development and operationalisation of space systems in the areas of satellite communications, remote sensing for resource survey, environmental monitoring, meteorological services etc. DOS is also the nodal agency for the Physical Research Laboratory which conducts research in the areas of space science, and the National Remote Sensing Agency which deploys modern remote sensing techniques for natural resource surveys and provides operational services to user agencies. India is the only third world country to develop its own remote sensing satellite.