Writeup by the Participants of Workshop : Science News Writing

Science News Write-Ups by Workshop Participants


  1. How we make sense from our senses


By Aarthy Tagore


Our brain works based on our previous experiences and current situations. It collects information from our sensory organs and interprets it, the key for this behaviour has been identified by group of scientists at Max Planck institute for Brain Research. Dr. Johannes Letzkus, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, has identified a key source of this experience-dependent top-down information which was published in the journal “Science”. Neocortex is the largest part of our brain and is responsible for distinguishing humans and the malfunction of this part leads to many psychiatric issues in humans. This neocortex process the information based on two types of streams of information which is ‘top – down’ and ‘bottom – up’ approach. In ‘bottom – up’ stream the information is based on the surrounding signals and in ‘top – down’ stream the information is carried from our brains pervious experiences and current aims. "Decades of investigation have elucidated how sensory inputs from the environment are processed. However, our knowledge of internally-generated information is still in its infancy. This is one of the biggest gaps in our understanding of higher brain functions like sensory perception,"

says Letzkus, concluding that this was the reason that motivated them to carry out this research. "Previous work by us and many other scientists had suggested that the top-most layer of neocortex is likely a key site that receives inputs carrying top-down information. Taking this as a starting point allowed us to identify a region of the thalamus -- a brain area embedded deep within the forebrain -- as a key candidate source of such internal information." Dr. M. Belén Pardi, the first author of the study and postdoctoral researcher in the Letzkus lab, devised an innovative approach that enabled her to measure the responses of single thalamic synapses in mouse neocortex before and after a learning paradigm. Since the mouse brain works just like human, "The results were very clear," he said stating "Whereas neutral stimuli without relevance were encoded by small and transient responses in this pathway, learning strongly boosted their activity and made the signals both faster and more sustained over time." Their result suggested that the reactions of the animals are based on their previous experiences recorded in their transient memory to give faster and strong responses. "We were really convinced that this is the case when we compared the strength of the acquired memory with the change in thalamic activity: This revealed a strong positive correlation, indicating that inputs from the thalamus prominently encode the learned behavioural relevance of stimuli," says Letzkus. They confirmed the top – down stream signals processing in the neocortex through further experiments and computational modelling on collaboration with Dr. Henning Sprekeler and his team at Technische University ät Berlin. This was mainly because human and miuse brains respond with top – down stream processes even for low level actions like hearind loud noises. But interestingly the results that turned out at the end of the other experiments provided the proof for an unknown mechanism existing in the brain because of a special neuron present in the top most layer of the neocortex. This particular neuron was responsible for the fine tune of information along the pathway of our brains. "These results reveal the thalamic inputs to sensory neocortex as a key source of information about the past experiences that have been associated with sensory stimuli. Such top-down signals are perturbed in a number of brain disorders like autism and schizophrenia, and our hope is that the present findings will also enable a deeper understanding of the maladaptive changes that underlie these severe conditions," concludes Letzkus.

  1. Seeing the most unseen part of the Universe: “Dark Matter”


By Abhishek Sorathiya


A team of astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia have found a new path to ‘see’ the mysterious dark matter haloes which surround the galaxies. This new technique is 10 times more accurate than the previous one.

Scientist estimates that about 95% part of this universe is filled with the mass which is effectively invisible in which Dark Matter consist 26%. This dark matter cannot be observed directly because it does not interact with light as ordinary matter do. Ordinary Matter like Planets, Stars, Galaxies etc,. So how do we detect which we cannot be seen? The key is to measure the effect of gravity that the dark matter produce. Gravity means the force of attraction between two objects.

Poll Gurri who led the research team at Swinburne University of Technology explains: “It's like looking at a flag to try to know how much wind there is. You cannot see the wind, but the flag's motion tells you how strongly the wind is blowing."

The important base of this research is an effect called Weak Gravitational Lensing which is a feature of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The path of light bends when some huge mass comes in between is called Gravitational Lensing. "The dark matter will very slightly distort the image of anything behind it," says Associate Professor Edward Taylor, who was also involved in the research. This effect is like reading an article through base of water glass.

Now, the research team have used the 3.2m Telescope in Australia to map how galaxies are rotating due to gravitational lensing because weak gravitational lensing is already one of the most successful way to map the dark matter of the universe. A set of hundreds of billions of stars revolving around huge mass called Galaxy. Poll Gurri said that, "Because we know how stars and gas are supposed to move inside galaxies, we know roughly what that galaxy should look like.” Therefore, by measuring how much distortion in obtained images of galaxies rather than real images, then one can figure out how much dark matter it is contained.

This new research shows that how the lensing effect enables a more specification towards way to understanding the dark matter. According to Poll Gurri, this new method of seeing the dark matter can get a clearer picture of where the dark matter is, and how it affects the galaxies to form.

There are several future missions such as NASA’s Nancy Gras Roman Space Telescope and the European Space Agency’s Euclid Space Telescope which are designed to make such measurements based on the shapes of hundreds of millions of galaxies. "We have shown that we can make a real contribution to these global efforts with a relatively small telescope built in the 1980s, just by thinking about the problem in a different way," says Taylor.

This work published in Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society on 21st September 2020. Hence, the gravitational lensing gives the more specific approach to know more about the dark matter.


Reference: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201106093016.htm







  1. Hormone to tackle excessive eating found


By Aditi Jain


Lipocalin-2, a hormone to switch off hunger could be used in treating obesity, suggests a

new study. Obesity leads to large number of deaths, worldwide. It is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke and diabetes and affects over 135 million individuals in India. The relapse rate of diet and exercise program is also high and drugs available have limited effectiveness or have safety concerns. In obese individuals, weight loss could reduce metabolism leading to weight gain. Now a new hormone discovered by US researchers, could prevent weight gain by reducing food intake and without affecting metabolism.

The hormone, called Lipocalin-2 (LCN2), that can suppress appetite by increasing the feeling of fullness in mice, showed similar results in humans and monkeys. It is found naturally in humans and is secreted by bone cells called osteoblasts.

"LCN2 acts as a signal for satiety after a meal, leading mice to limit their food intake, and it does this by acting on the hypothalamus within the brain," explains lead author Peristera-Ioanna Petropoulou, a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University, New York, US at the time of study, now is at Helmholtz Diabetes Center, Germany.

The team conducted study on people in the US and Europe who were either normal weight, overweight or obese. The participants were provided with a meal after an overnight fast. The amount of LCN2 in blood levels of the participants pre- and post-meal was measured. LCN2 levels were found to be increased in normal weight or overweight individuals post meal, coinciding with how satisfied they felt after eating, but decreased in obese participants. This shows that failure to stimulate LCN2 after meal may contribute to metabolic dysregulation.

Using brain scans, the authors showed that the hormone is able to cross the blood brain barrier in monkeys and bind to hypothalamus, the brain center that regulates appetite and energy balance.

"We wanted to see whether a dose of it would be able to cross the blood-brain barrier." says

Peristera-Ioanna

To further explore if treatment with the hormone reduced hunger, monkeys were treated with LCN2

for a week. A 28% decrease in food intake compared with the consumption before treatment, was

found. Such monkeys also ate 21% less than those who were treated only with saline. Moreover,

there was a decline in measurements of body weight, body fat and blood fat only after a week in

treated monkeys.

"We have shown that LCN2 crosses to the brain, makes its way to the hypothalamus and suppresses food intake in non-human primates," says senior author Stavroula Kousteni, Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University. "Our results show that the hormone can curb appetite with negligible toxicity and lay the groundwork for the next level of LCN2 testing for clinical use."

This study published in eLife paves way for a LCN2 to be a novel target for potential treatment of

obesity in individuals whose natural signals for feeling full no longer work.







  1. An answer to the Unexpected Characteristics of Water

Water exists in two forms in supercooled state: reveals study

By ADRIJA GANGOPADHYAY

Everyone has learnt about the ‘anomalous properties of water’ in their middle school. But what makes this universal liquid an exception? Well, scientists may have an answer to this question. A recent study published in the journal Science has revealed that water exists in two forms: separated by a thin film.





We are familiar with the liquid form of water at room temperature (around 25oC). However, at ultra-low temperature (approximately -63oC), water exists at two different structures: a low-density liquid at low pressure and a high-density liquid at high pressure. Both the layers’ density differ by 20%; a sum not to be ignored at all. “We worked so hard for several years to conduct measurements of water under such low temperature conditions without freezing and it is so rewarding to see the outcome”, says Harshad Pathak, researcher in Chemical Physics at Stockholm University, Sweden.

Nicolas Giovambattista, a professor at The Graduate Centre, City University of New York and chair for the Department of Physics at Brooklyn College, US has largely contributed to the research. He said, “The possibility that water could exist in two different liquid states was proposed approximately 30 years ago, based on results obtained from computer simulations. This counterintuitive hypothesis has been one of the most important questions in the chemistry and physics of water, and a controversial scenario since its beginnings. This is because experiments that can access the two liquid states in water have been very challenging due to the unavoidable ice formation at the condition where the two liquids should exist.”

The undertaken experiment was carried out by combining X-ray waves to heat powdered ice at about -63oC in an unimaginably fast manner in constant volume. The liquid expanded and decompressed, in a certain time interval. The observation was further noted down using computer simulations, as the test is performed in an ultra-fast way.

Other than the aforesaid three, the joint venture was carried out by POSTECH University and PAL-XEFL in Korea, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, US and St. Francis Xavier’s University in Canada.

“There has been an intense debate about the origin of the strange properties of water for over a century since the early work of Wolfgang Röntgen”, adds Anders Nilsson, Professor of Chemical Physics at Stockholm University. “Researchers studying the physics of water can now settle on the model that water can exist as two liquids in the supercooled regime. The next stage is to find if there is a critical point when the two liquids cross over to become only one liquid, as the pressure and temperature changes. A big challenge for the next few years.”

Life on Earth sustains due to water. It plays an elemental role in every field, including climate, biology, chemistry, preservation of samples at low temperatures and material sciences. In many industrial process water acts as a solvent, product, reactant or impurity.

Nevertheless, Giovambattista said, “It remains an open question how the presence of two liquids may affect the behavior of aqueous solutions in general, and in particular, how the two liquids may affect biomolecules in aqueous environments. This motivates further studies in the search for potential applications.



5. Fantastic science and where to find them

By Aiswarya PS


Science is the tool we use to interact with the world around us, hence we must understand its

potential and risks to best experience life. We may choose not to do science, but we cannot

choose to ignore it as the products of science permeate our lives and our daily decisions .

Consequentially effective science communication is essential.

The success of scientists’ communication depends on their awareness of the role that their work

plays in the public discourse, address the perspectives of interest groups, policymakers,

businesses, and other players in debates over decisions pertaining to scientific expertise

Hence emphasising to view communication as a strategic activity rather than an afterthought.

At both the individual level and the social level, the stakes are too high to rely on intuitive

theories and anecdotal observations about communication. Hence we need to learn, research

and analyse the best way to communicate.

Just as there is a science to be communicated, there is a science of communication.

1. Perceive science communication as a two way Communication with the public and the

experts .

● Public - news seekers , include all different groups of audiences receiving and

engaging in science communication.

2. Filling the gap in laypeople’s mental models

3. Understanding beliefs that individuals bring to it, such that some scientific results are

difficult to comprehend whereas others go without saying

4. Needs to overcome misconceptions, sometimes a product of clumsy communication,

Ineffective communication can be costly to science as well as to society. If experts can

communicate early enough they might also be able to improve their work or technology.

To create such links and to fill the gaps between the public and the expert and to ensure that

the people know what they need to know about science, in time to ensure its place in the

public's discourse rather than having to fight for it after the people's mind is already made up

should be the goal of science communicators .


Steps for sound scientific communication is straightforward



EVALUATE

● REPEAT AS NECESSARY


This required skills such as

● Subject matter expertise

● Risk analysing

● Social science research to understand what people know and how they learn

● Designers to make the content accessible


Even though we understand that the stakes are high, we often lack these prerequisites while

communicating majorly because our intuitions are bound to overestimate how well we

understand others and their behaviour.


Behaviour of the public follows some simple principles .

1.Are good at tracking what they see but not at detecting sample bias

2. Difficult to imagine oneself in other visceral surroundings than their own

3. Not good at detecting misinformation

4. Difficulty in visualising non-linear trends

5. Are not likely to evaluate their own knowledge ( which is very essential in forming one's own

opinions)

6.Afraid of uncertainty

7.Insensitive to opportunity costs

Keeping these behavioural traits in mind we may be successful in curating communications

which are fruitful and which don't not ignored.

Here's a rough description of a survey which followed the aforementioned multidisciplinary

necessities in science communication , done to study the effectiveness of the same in the light

COVID 19, the peak of science journalism.



( Response to “does the public find the corona virus news easy to understand?)

Find the entire survey here :

https://www.arabmediasociety.com/applying-the-four-models-of-science-journalism-to-the-public

s-interaction-with-coronavirus-news-in-egypt/


Baruch Fischhoff said that “Science provides a sense of wonder , not just by revealing the world

to us but also showing us that the world can be revealed.” Thus if we succeed in fair

communication the public will get the greatest value from our science, and science will retain its

rightful wonder .


References

National academy of science colloquia on The science of science communication

http://www.nasonline.org/programs/nas-colloquia/completed_colloquia/science-communicati

on.html

https://www.arabmediasociety.com/applying-the-four-models-of-science-journalism-to-the-p

ublics-interaction-with-coronavirus-news-in-egypt/




  1. Artificial Intelligence Machine Discovers CAMEO Algorithm Useful to Find New Material (Researchers Found CAMEO Algorithm For AI Machine which is Useful to find new material without any orders)

By Akshit Gajanan Hedau


Link for article- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201124092150.htm


Gaithersburg,(USA)November,2020, When the word AI come to mind, your first thoughts may be of super-smart computers, or robots that perform tasks without needing any help from humans. But Now, a Multi- Institutional team including researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has accomplished something Special, They developed an AI algorithm called CAMEO that discovered a potentially useful new material without requiring additional training from scientists.The AI system could help reduce the amount of trial-and-error time scientists spend in the lab, while maximizing productivity and efficiency in their research. This Discovery is very essential for future needs of automation and deep learning, Researchers found that this is the need of the hour and should be discovered as soon as possible, Despite of remembering its importance and need, they however were successful in maintaining its privacy, security and quality aspects.Beside of all these things they managed to complete this research in almost 9 years.



Machine learning is a process in which computer programs can access data and process it themselves, automatically improving on their own instead of relying on repeated training. This is the basis for CAMEO, a self-learning AI that uses prediction and uncertainty to determine which experiment to try next.The key to our experiment was that we were able to unleash CAMEO on a library where we had made a large array of materials with all different compositions," said Ichiro Takeuchi, a materials science and engineering researcher and professor at the University of Maryland. In a usual study, every material in the array would be measured sequentially to look for

the compound with the best properties. Even with a fast measurement setup, that takes a long time. With CAMEO, it took only a small fraction of the usual number of measurements to home in on the best material.

The AI is also designed to contain knowledge of key principles, including knowledge of past simulations and lab experiments, how the equipment works, and physical concepts. Understanding how atoms are arranged in a material is important in determining its properties such as how hard or how electrically insulating it is, and how well it is suited for a specific application."The AI is unsupervised. Many types of AI need to be trained or supervised.

One of the best ways to figure out the structure of a material is by bombarding it with X-rays, in a technique called X-ray diffraction. By identifying the angles at which the X-rays bounce off, scientists can determine how atoms are arranged in a material, enabling them to figure out its crystal structure. However, a single in-house X-ray diffraction experiment can take an hour or more. At a synchrotron facility where a large machine the size of a football field accelerates electrically charged particles at close to the speed of light, this process can take 10 seconds because the fast-moving particles emit large numbers of X-rays.

This is the method used in the experiments, which were performed at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light-source (SSRL).The algorithm is installed on a computer that connects to the X-ray diffraction equipment over a data network. CAMEO decides which material composition to study next by choosing which material the X-rays focus on to investigate its atomic structure. With each new iteration, CAMEO learns from past measurements and identifies the next material to study. This allows the AI to explore how a material's composition affects its structure and identify the best material for the task.The material is composed of three different elements and is a phase-change memory material, that is, it changes its atomic structure from crystalline to amorphous. .

when quickly melted by applying heat. This type of material is used in electronic memory applications such as data storage. Although there are infinite composition variations possible in the alloy system, the new material GST467 discovered by CAMEO is optimal for phase-change applications.

Researchers wanted CAMEO to find the best alloy, one that had the largest difference in "optical contrast" between the crystalline and amorphous states.

The research team published their work on CAMEO in Nature Communications.

Copyright©2020_NIST_USA_All_Rights_are_Reserved

Total-535 Words


  1. Effects of Sestrin on the life cycle of fruit flies

Researchers recognize the reaction of Sestrin by lowered food intake.

By Aleena Sosa Christopher


A group of researchers from Max Planck institute for biology of ageing, Garching, Germany, has recently found a new protein named Sestrin which has the ability to increase the life span of fruit flies by mediating the effects of dietary restriction.


By reducing the food consumption, known as dietary restriction, animals can improve their lifespan which further boost the health of human beings. However the molecular mechanisms underlying the positive effects of dietary restrictions are still unclear. No researcher have ever studied the effect of Sestrin in the organism named Drosophila melanogaster which is commonly known as fruit fly.

‘’Our results in flies revealed Sestrin as a novel potential anti ageing factor’’ , says Linda Partridge, head of the research team. Researchers found that by increasing the amount of Sestrin in flies , they will able to increase their lifespan and at the same time researchers can protect these flies from lifespan- shortening effects of a potein rich diet. The researchers further point out the key role of Sestrin in stem cells in the gut which can improve the health of the fly.


The health benefits of dietary restriction have long been known. It has become clear that restrictions of certain substances like protein, amino acids, their building blocks is a must components for organisms diet. On the molecular level TOR pathway, which is a signalling pathway integrates both internuclear and extranuclear signals and serves as a central regulator of cell metabolism , growth and survival ,is important for longevity.


When the researches increased the amount of Sestrin in stem stells the life span of flies became ten percentage longer than normal ones. And increased amount of Sestrin protein protest flies aganist negative effect of a protein rich diet. ‘’Flies with a mutated Sestrin protein unable to bind amino acids showed improved health in the presence of a protein rich diet says’’, Linda.


Researchers also tried experimenting the same effect of Sestrin in mice. The result showed the beneficial effect of exercise on the health of animal. In addition increased amount of Sestrin only in the gut shows a negative effects.


‘’We wanted to know which factor is responsible for measuring nutrients in the cell, especially amino acids, and how this factor affects the TOR pathway’’ says Linda Partridge. ‘’We focused on a protein called Sestrin , which was suggested to sense amino acid . however no one has ever demonstrated amino acid sestrin in a living being ‘’The researchers are also curious about knowing the outcome of Sestrin in human beings and to find wheather it has any advantages or not.’’ Flies with a mutated Sestrin protein unable to bind amino acids showed improved health in the presence of rich protein diet’’

The answer to challenges we face in our lives is the enhancement of the future consciousness . A drug that increase the activity of Sestrin protein might therefore be in future a novel approach to slow down the aging process. (Total words- 520)

8. CNO Cycle evidence in sun for the first time

Direct evidence of Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen Cycle (CNO) in sun detected for the first time

By Ananthapathbhanabhan M S

CNO cycle is one type of reaction that occurs in stars. This is not abundant as the proton-proton (pp) cycle, a reaction in which Helium is formed. Scientists working at Borexino detector observed traces of CNO cycle.

The way in which the sun works is a bit complex to the science community, the process involves a release of high energy. Usually these energies are carried to earth via neutrinos, which has been detected at several times, but these data only shed light on our understanding of the proton-proton cycle in the sun. However, scientists knew that there are other forms of reactions such as CNO cycle. In the case of sun this reaction is not profound as the p-p cycle, which made it harder to detect. Knowledge about these CNO cycles would reveal more data about the sun with which

further investigations can be carried on. In the C.N.O cycle, otherwise called the Bethe-Weizsacker cycle, heavier elements like Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen are involved. Usually the sun's surface showers tons of neutrinos to earth and are detected here.Since the p-p cycle dominates, hitherto, we had no direct experimental proof about the neutrinos that carried information about the CNO cycle. “However, we are able to detect these neutrinos using the Borexino experiment’s huge detector located 1400 meters underground”, said by Prof Michael wurm, a neutrino physicist at PRISMA+ cluster of excellence at Johannes Gutenberg university. Even though the scientist had predicted the existence of CNO cycles in sun theoretically, this was not supported by experimental evidence. This is the first time CNO cycles has been observed, which was in accordance with theoretical predictions about the role of CNO cycles in energy release of the sun, which is nearly one percent of its total energy production, adds Dr. Daniel Guffanti, a postdoc in Michael Wurm’s team and also a member of Borexino collaboration. All these discoveries would eventually lead us to gain more data about the exact mechanism of the sun and alike stars which would further expand our knowledge about cosmos.


9. Global nutrition and how it varies in decades:

Nov 18 2020

By Anaswara Ramachandran

Just a handful of rice and beans - a part of our world is starved. Hawaiian Pizza and ice-cream -

another part of our world is stuffed, throwing away food every day. This gap is likely to worsen,

while food waste will increase and pressure on the environment will go up, a new study shows.

From this summary itself we can understand the need for nutrition is increasing now. Studies

have been conducted to know about this.

Unhealthy diets are the world’s largest health risks," co-author Sabine Gabrysch, head of PIK’s Research Department on Climate Resilience explains. "While many countries in Asia and Africa currently still struggle with undernutrition and associated health problems, they are increasingly also faced with overweight, and as a consequence, with a rising burden of diabetes,

cardiovascular disease and cancer," she adds. The study could provide valuable orientation

about the potential development pathway of different countries and regions. It could also support

much-needed pro-active policies for a qualitative transition towards sustainable and healthy

diets.

Sabine Gabrysch concludes: "We urgently need political measures to create an environment that promotes healthy eating habits. This could include binding regulations that limit the marketing of unhealthy snacks and promote sustainable and healthy meals in schools, hospitals and canteens. A stronger focus on nutrition education is also key, from early education in kindergarten to counseling by medical doctors and nurses. What we eat is of vital importance -- both for our own health and that of our planet”.

The study focus on how to decrease poverty and how to increase global nutrition. We can hope

our world will be better if everyone get their daily nutrition.

10. Exposure to stress early in life cause early onset of puberty in girls states a US based-study

By Aneeta Jose

Girls who spend their life living with both parents in a favorable, stress-free household before the age of two, are less likely to enter early into puberty as opposed to those girls living in a hostile stressful environment. The findings were from a study conducted by a team of researchers from North California Division of Research, USA, as a step towards mitigating the emotional and mental problems caused due to early puberty, by improving the well being of these girls at a young age.


Ai Kubo, a corresponding author, said that girls who experienced stress in any form before turning two, had a high chance of entering into puberty early as compared to those who experienced stress at a much older age. In addition to that, the early onset of puberty would adversely impacts the well being of these kids by making them more susceptible to various forms of heart diseases as well as breast and ovarian cancer. He believes that his team’s findings could benefit girls by providing them the mental and emotional support that they need at an early age.


Puberty, as we all know, is a series of physical and mental changes and is marked as a transition phase between childhood and adulthood. Undergoing puberty makes the human body capable of sexual reproduction. Breast enlargement, the beginning of the menstrual cycle or commonly known as periods, and the development of pubic hair are some of the changes that are seen in girls during this phase.


This study revealed that there was a 38% increased chance of girls, who did not live with both their parents from their birth till age two, hitting puberty early. They were also more likely to start

menstruating before turning 12. In addition to that, there was only an 18% higher chance of early-onset puberty in girls who did not live with their parents from age two to age six. The latter proves the point that stress experienced post the age of two will not have as much an effect on puberty as compared to the stress experienced before the age of two.


Ai Kubo said that, in previous research, it was seen that infants who lived in single-parent households displayed attachment insecurity compared to those infants who grew up with both their parents.

Information regarding family structure and puberty onset in girls were obtained from the electronic

health record data of girls who were born between 2003 and 2010 within the Kaiser Permanente

Northern California Healthcare System. As a point of caution, only information regarding family

structure was referred to for this study. Other parameters like nutrition intake, physical activity, and the age of the mother’s first period, etc. even though being very important factors, were not considered for this study as information regarding these were not available in the official records.

Ref- Ref- https://www.biomedcentral.com/about/press-centre/science-press-releases/28-10-20


11. Researchers developed a bio-inspired solar-energy harvesting material

A prototype for the development of next-generation solar devices

By Anjali Singh


A recent research published in Nature Chemistry talks about a synthetic strategy to stabilize

bio-inspired energy harvesting materials. The integration of these artificial designed molecular assembly could be a significant breakthrough in developing the next generation solar devices.


The photosynthetic organisms have unique capabilities of capturing the light and heat that come from the sun and use it for their functional processes. These organisms show remarkable efficiency in performing this task irrespective of extreme heat or cold temperatures. Now, the researchers translated this nature’s design in creating a robust, efficient, and device ready model that over the barrier faced by earlier solar energy-based technologies.


“We address this fundamental question via a chemical, solution-based route—in situ template-directed self-assembly—to design well-defined bio-inspired supramolecular light- harvesting nanocomposites that are highly stable, robust and device ready” says the authors

of the paper.

The light-harvesting antenna complex, involved in the process of photosynthesis, consist of

self-assembled, ordered, and closely packed fragile materials called supramolecular assembly. Despite of some differences in the photosynthesis process of photosynthetic organisms, the basic design is common in all of them i.e. “supramolecular assembly” embedded within “protein on a lipid platform or scaffolding”—two-component system-- forming a cage like structure. The researchers are not clear about the role of the scaffoldings; however, they suggest their involvement in supporting the supramolecular assembly.


"Although we can't replicate the complexity of the protein scaffolds found in photosynthetic

organisms, we were able to adapt the basic concept of a protective scaffold to stabilize our

artificial light-harvesting antenna," said Dr. Kara Ng, one of the lead authors of the paper.


The application of the supramolecular assembly has not been realized yet because of their

fragile structure which is unstable and breakdown under extreme environmental stress. Thus,

translating this nature’s design to large-scale photovoltaic (conversion of light energy into

electrical energy) application has been an unsuccessful effort.


"The failure may lie in the design paradigm of current solar cell architectures," said Dorthe M.

Eisele, the co-author of the paper and professor at The City College of New York. However,

she and her research team, "do not aim to improve the solar cell designs that already exist.

But we want to learn from nature's masterpieces to inspire entirely new solar energy

harvesting architectures," she added.


Researchers tested the artificial supramolecular assembly against extreme temperature,

acidic and basic pH, and high-intensity light. And they observed the stability of the supramolecular assembly in all these conditions. They suggest that the scaffolding silica (a chemical compound) network can self-assemble to form an interlocking, stabilizing scaffold around an artificial supra-molecular light-harvesting antenna.


“Our experiments provide a proof-of-concept demonstration that these intrinsic barriers

towards the functionalization of artificial supramolecular assemblies can be largely overcome

through cage-like scaffolding of the individual assembly in solution” the authors of the paper

said. They add that the designed material “can be a breakthrough light-harvesting material

system for future photovoltaic application”.


The stability, robustness, and efficiency of the artificially designed supramolecular assembly

allows for future integration of these materials with diverse material systems to engineer

unique electronic device properties.


The authors call it “a highly promising material to bring supramolecular assemblies for solar

energy harvesting from fundamental research to real world applications.”

Link to the news release:https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/ccon-cro112320.php


12. Microplastics Scale the Everest

Plastic pollution has spread to each and every corner of the world and has managed to gain a spot at the ‘world’s highest junkyard’!

By Ankita Saha


According to an article published in the November 2020 edition of the journal One Earth, researchers have detected the presence of microplastic particles on Mount Everest. A team of scientists from National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet made this discovery by analysing samples of snow and stream at a height of 8440 meters above sea level. The highest concentration of microplastics was found at the base camp where mountaineers tend to spend the maximum time.

One group of researchers from the team climbed Mount Everest during May 2019 as part of the Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition while another group carried out the laboratory analysis of the samples. National Geographic Explorer and scientist based at University of Plymouth in United Kingdom, Imogen Napper, who carried out the laboratory analysis, says “Microplastics haven't been studied on the mountain before, but they're generally just as persistent and typically more difficult to remove than larger items of debris. I didn't know what to expect in terms of results, but it really surprised me to find microplastics in every single snow sample I analyzed. Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye- opener." She also stated that the Mount Everest has been called 'the world's highest junkyard’.

Determining the type of plastic is essential for identifying its origin which in turn may help curb its spread. The researchers assessed that the samples contained significant quantities of polyester, acrylic, nylon and polypropylene fibres – materials used in the manufacturing of high-performance mountaineering outfits and gears. They highly suspect these kind of items to be the major source of the pollutants instead of common plastic products such as containers for food and drinks.


The current environmental motto of reduce, reuse and recycle is very important, but with this discovery, the focus must also include innovative approaches to control and cure the problem, such as incorporation of biodegradable fibres instead of plastic in clothes, tents, ropes, etc. The researchers wish to throw light on the issue of microplastics that are snowballing into mega problems. Microplastics are small (<5 mm) fragments of plastic that are either formed that way, as in microfibers, or formed from the slow breakdown of larger pieces of plastic products.


Microplastics are nearly inert, are difficult to remove and take a long time to degrade thereby persisting in the environment for long periods. Owing to their smaller size, microplastics are transported to farther reaches of the planet with relative ease by the action of wind and ocean currents and its presence has even been recorded near Mariana Trench, the deepest point on Earth. Microplastics are virtually omnipresent and pose a grave threat to the planet’s ecosystem by entering the food web as these are consumed by organisms who often mistake the plastic pieces for food.


These are the highest microplastics discovered so far," says Napper, “With microplastics so

ubiquitous in our environment, it's time to focus on informing appropriate environmental solutions. We need to protect and care for our planet."

--------------------------------------------------------------

Story Source:

Journal Reference: Napper et al. Reaching new heights in plastic pollution - preliminary findings of microplastics on Mount Everest. One Earth, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2020.10.020

Reference: Cell Press. (2020, November 20). There are microplastics near the top of Mount Everest too. ScienceDaily.

Retrieved November 22, 2020 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201120113920.htm




13. NOSE AND TEETH DETERMINES WHETHER YOU ARE A VIRUS SUPER SPREADER OR NOT: A NEW STUDY

By Anoop A S


Researchers from University of Central Florida has recently found some features which could make people super spreaders of viruses. They found that blocked nose and filled teeth could increase the potential of virus transmission via cough or sneeze droplets.

The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering of University of Central Florida (UCF) used computer-generated models to numerically simulate sneezes in different types of people and determine associations between people's physiological features and how far their sneeze droplets travel and stay in the air.

Sneezes, in general, can travel up to 100 mph and can produce 100,000 microdroplets. The can travel distances up to 25 feets.

"This is the first study that aims to understand the underlying 'why' of how far sneezes travel. Knowing more about factors affecting how far these droplets travel can inform efforts to control their spread" says Michael Kinzel, an assistant professor in UCF's Department of Mechanical Engineering and the co-author of the study.

The spread of global pandemic Covid-19 is basically through the exposure to the respiratory droplets such as from sneezes and coughs. The researchers simulated three types of saliva: thin, medium and thick. They found that thinner saliva resulted in sneezes composed of smaller droplets, which created a spray and stayed in the air longer than medium and thick saliva.

The work may have a strong output because of the researchers' project to create a COVID-19 cough drop that would give people thicker saliva, which will reduce the distance droplets from a sneeze or cough would travel, and thus decrease the chances of disease transmission.


"This research potentially will provide information for more accurate safety measures and solutions to reduce pathogen transmission, giving better conditions to deal with the usual diseases or with pandemics in the future,"says Douglas Fontes, a postdoctoral researcher from the Florida Space Institute and the study's lead author.

The study found that the people's features such as blocked nose, full set of teeth could increase their potential to spread viruses on the basis how far the droplets can reach. The study also found that the people having clear nose, has the greater chance of traveling at low velocities and distances.

"Teeth create a narrowing effect in the jet that makes it stronger and more turbulent they actually appear to drive transmission. So, if you see someone without teeth, you can actually expect a weaker jet from the sneeze from them."Kinzel says.

The researchers used 3D modeling and numerical simulations to recreate four mouth and nose types: a person with teeth and a clear nose; a person with no teeth and a clear nose; a person with no teeth and a congested nose; and a person with teeth and a congested nose.

When they simulated sneezes in the different models, they found that the spray distance of droplets expelled when a person has a congested nose and a full set of teeth is about 60 percent greater than when they do not.

"The results show exposure levels are highly dependent on the fluid dynamics that can vary depending on several human features," says Kareem Ahmed, an associate professor in UCF's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the co-author of the study. "Such features may be underlying factors driving superspreading events in the COVID-19 pandemic."He adds.

The researchers say that they are wishing to move the project toward clinical studies to compare their simulation findings with real people. The research was done by Michael Kinzel, Kareem Ahmed,Douglas Fontes andJonathan Reyes. The study appeared in the journal "Physics Of Fluids".The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Source: Researchers identify features that could make someone a virus super-spreader


14. Scientists Invent Low-Cost Tests 1,00,000 times better at Detecting HIV and Other Viruses

A test as based on the latest nanotechnology - as quick and easy as a pregnancy test strip

By Santosh Sisolekar


https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/ucl-qnm112520.php


Using nanodiamonds, a group of scientists from England have developed the paper-strip based test which is lakhs of times more efficient in detecting viruses like HIV, as per their paper published in Nature.

Paper-based tests are commonly used in the detection of pregnancy and viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 which is the cause for the current pandemic. These tests work on the principle of the flow of a liquid sample across the strip of a paper. When the sample touches the special chemicals on the paper, a colour change or a fluorescent signal (glow) indicates a positive test. Extremely low number of viruses in a sample may not get detected with the current paper-based tests which use gold nanoparticles. The new developed using nanodiamond particles and can detect viruses in such samples with extremely high sensitivity.


"Our study shows how quantum technologies can be used to detect very low levels of virus in a patient sample, enabling much earlier diagnosis. We have focused on the detection of HIV, but our method can be easily adapted to other diseases including COVID-19. We believe that this transformative new technology will benefit patients and protect populations from infectious diseases." said Professor Rachel McKendry, Director of i-sense (the team of researchers from a group of universities, including the Oxford University.)


Diamonds have a very regular arrangement of atoms, but the special diamond particles used for this research were manufactured to have defects, or rather gaps called nitrogen vacancy or NV centres. The NV centres give out bright fluorescent light when they come in contact with the virus or the biological substance being tested. The light emitted by the nanodiamond particles can be controlled by using microwave radiation, which helps in detecting the viruses selectively as opposed to the excess background fluorescent light.


"Other tests currently lack the sensitivity to detect very low levels of biomarkers. By replacing commonly used gold nanoparticles with fluorescent nanodiamonds in this new design, and selectively modulating their (already bright) emission of light, we have been able to separate their signal from the unwanted background fluorescence of the test strip, dramatically improving sensitivity." said Ben Miller, the first author of the paper.


Although this test was successful the labs, the researchers want to develop this test further to be used with mobile phones or portable fluorescence readers. This can help in making the test available widely at very low costs, making it useful in detection of widespread infections like the current pandemic.

Co-author, John Morton, said: "This interdisciplinary collaboration is a fantastic illustration of how foundational work on quantum systems, such as NV centre in diamond, can evolve from the lab and play a crucial role in real-world applications in sensing and diagnostics. We are exploring and enabling the impact of these and other quantum technologies by working with industry and other academic research groups."

15. A New finding towards Bacterial Movement

By Aradhana Prusty


Researchers from the United Kingdom described how the micro-organisms spread in the body, published in the journal Nature Physics. They took Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a species of bacteria that cause deadly lung infections for the obsevartion. This bacteria moves across surfaces using tiny grappling hook-like appendages called pili. Pili can be said the locomotory organ of the microorganisms.

The researchers demonstrated that collisions between the fast-moving bacteria cause them to rotate vertically and get stuck. In contrast, slower-moving cells remain lying down, allowing them to keep moving. The slower-moving cells acquire more nutrients, and ultimately outcompete the faster moving cells. This research suggests that bacteria have evolved slow, restrained movement to benefit the group as a whole, rather than individual cells.

Scientists said: "We routinely experience gridlock in our own lives while traveling by foot or in cars. These traffic jams often occur because individuals have prioritised their own movement over that of their neighbours. In contrast, bacteria have evolved to move carefully and effectively in crowds, likely because their neighbours tend to be genetically identical, so there is no conflict of interest. Bacteria accomplish this by moving more slowly than their top speed."

To understand these phenomena, the researchers used a theory that was originally developed to study materials known as liquid crystals.

"Liquid crystals are everywhere around us, from smartphone screens to mood rings. Although we initially didn't expect that the mathematical tools developed to understand these human-made materials could be applied to living systems, our findings show that they can also shed light on the challenges faced by microbes,” said the scientists.

Patterns of collective movement that occur in flocks of birds and schools of fish have long been a source of fascination to onlookers. This new research shows that similarly spectacular forms of collective movement also occur in the microscopic world.


16. Achievement Culture - why girls are less interested in Maths than boys

By Ardhra Sivasankaran


Reference Press Release: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/f-hac112520.php


A large study of 5,00,000 high schoolers from 50 countries suggests that student-interest towards

Maths is low in achievement-centric cultures. Socially conditioned to conform to peer pressure,

girls seem more susceptible to lose interest in the subject.

Research on Mathematical prowess of different groups has been a sustained effort. Past studies

have offered much knowledge about the way students identify themselves with Mathematics.

The study by Applied Mathematics Professor Kimmo Eriksson of Mälardalen University

College, Sweden, is interesting due to its observation of cultural influences on Mathematical

interest. It says that students show higher interest toward Maths in countries that do not harbour

much inclination towards the subject, such as Egypt and Kazakhstan. And in these cases, it was

found that girls were highly likely to find Maths interesting and actively pursue it. But, the

contrary is the worrisome aspect of the study.

Prof Eriksson states in his research, “In high-achievement cultures, it would be common for

students to have a low level of interest in math schoolwork and, due to conformity, a low level of

interest would be especially common among girls. In low-achievement cultures, by contrast, it

would be common for students to have a high level of interest in math schoolwork and, again due

to conformity, a high level of interest would be especially common among girls.”

The gender disparity is one that is deeply concerning. Girls’ difficulty in enjoying Mathematics

in high school can directly lead towards fewer women entering STEM careers. STEM is a

burgeoning world and the lack of women in the field currently, is part of the problem. Girls and

boys from high-achievement cultural backgrounds tend to face Mathematics as mandatory, thus

leading to a disinterest in the subject.

Maths is the subject of interest in most studies of this kind because of its contribution to

individual success at a professional level. Students identify themselves with Maths on the basis

of several stereotypes they are subjected to. This has been termed as Math identity by Noah

Samuel Heller. Math Identity Dissonance (MID) is the distinction between a student’s view of

themselves with respect to Maths and how society perceives their Maths calibre. The highest

dissonance has been observed in female and other priority students such as those hailing from

racially or economically oppressed communities.

A famous quip about ‘Algebra-1’, the high-school Mathematics subject in the U.S., calls it a

gatekeeper subject, rather than a gateway. This is because of its importance towards student

future success while also being incredibly difficult for many students to learn.


This study aims to provide more informed solutions to improving education across the globe.

Having said this, the study hints at the need for more such surveys, especially that allow priority

students to voice their interest or disinterest toward Math, in order to identify universal systems

of pedagogy for the same. "By highlighting how girls' interest in schoolwork is especially

sensitive to high-achievement culture, perhaps my work can make researchers and policy-makers

recognize and address this challenge: How can schools promote high achievement in

mathematics without killing pupils' interest in their schoolwork?" says Eriksson.

17. Why Do Some Drugs Not Work Twice Against Same Bacteria?

By Arindam Sarkar



This illustration is original and has been created by the author


Have you ever wondered why several drugs don’t work twice, despite showing the same symptoms? While most bacteria fall prey to the drugs, some evolve through resistance against them. Unfortunately, nature has reached a stage where some bacteria show resistance to multiple drugs, which is called ‘multiple-drug resistance’ (MDR). A team of researchers at the RIKEN Centre for Biosystems Dynamics Research (BDR), Japan have proposed a new approach to studying how bacteria evolve through drug resistance, using high-throughput laboratory experiments.


Before the pandemic, combatting MDR bacteria was the biggest global challenge. It so appears that every time researchers create new antibiotic drugs, new drug-resistant strains of bacteria emerge during its clinical use. In order to win this ‘cat-and-mouse’ game, we must understand what causes the bacteria to develop resistance to a new drug. However, this process is very complex and involve numerous changes in gene sequence of the bacteria. Bacteria, like any other organism, contains a set of genes that are responsible for drug resistance. In order to completely understand the complexity, one needs to identify all the genes involved in the process.

"However, laboratory evolution is highly labour-intensive, requiring serial transfer of cultures over a long period and a large number of parallel experiments," says Tomoya Maeda, a researcher at RIKEN BDR who led this study. Conducting a naturally occurring, gradual process like evolution in a laboratory requires many experiments running simultaneously. Many genes specific to an antibiotic confer resistance to bacteria and to identify all of them, could be as challenging as separating grey hair from black at an age of 80.

To overcome such difficulties, the team at RIKEN developed an automated robotic culture system that allowed them to perform high-throughput laboratory evolution of Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common bacterium responsible for causing ‘Traveller’s diarrhoea’ and many other diseases.

They allowed the bacteria to grow for more than 250 generations, in presence of 95 different antibiotics, using the automated system. With such advanced technology, they were able to quantify the changes in bacteria’s transcriptome. The transcriptome is a record of genes which are actually expressed, stored in form of messenger RNAs and their scripts. It could be compared to an entry register, which contains the information about every person who has entered or exited an area. Similarly, transcriptome is a record which contains information on all the genes, which make proteins that are involved in antibiotic resistance. If one gains access to such a record, the information on activity of all genes involved in the process could be accessed.

"Laboratory evolution combined with genomic analyses is a promising approach for understanding antibiotic resistance dynamics," explains Maeda. The automated system was able to form resistance profiles for 192 evolved strains which differed from the original culture of bacteria. Since, the data generated by the system was too large, Maeda’s team also developed a machine learning program that could identify and differentiate between all the new as well as previously known genes, responsible for antibiotic resistance in E. coli.

By being able to identify the parameters that affect evolution of antibiotic resistance in E. coli, the team believes that, they can possibly predict and thus, prevent evolution of newer strains with resistance against drugs. "We believe that our results can be applied to the development of alternative strategies for suppressing the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria."

They were able to detect 2162 drug combinations using the system and discovered 157 pairs that can suppress emergence of drug resistance in E. coli, thus putting an end to the ‘cat-and- mouse’ game.



Word count: 590

18. A new material for targeted removal of copper from wastewater

Scientists have developed ‘ZIOS’, capable of selective extraction of the metal from

contaminated water

By Arushi Malhotra

UNITED STATES, November 24, 2020: Eliminating lethal heavy metals from industrial effluents is a difficult task.

Leaching of such toxicants into drinking water sources is of special concern.

Copper, although essential for human body, is detrimental in excess. As per the US Environmental Protection Agency, the maximum contaminant level for the metal is 1.3 milligrams per litre. A recent contraption by researchers at the US

Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, assures aid in this field. Zinc imidazole

salicylaldoxime or ZIOS as it is referred to, is a material designed in order to trap copper ions (charged atoms/molecules) from wastewater. This development is of significance in areas where abandoned copper mines have led to pollution in surrounding water bodies.

The technique employed here known as ‘adsorption’, involves a solid which holds gas or liquid molecules in the form of a thin film. The reason why ZIOS outshines other means of copper removal is because of its unmatched speed, specificity and precision. "ZIOS has a high adsorption capacity and the fastest copper adsorption kinetics of any material known so far - all in one," says senior author Jeff Urban. Borrowing from nature’s microbes, lead author Ngoc Bui explains, "And what we tried to mimic here are the sophisticated functions performed by nature," referring to the uptake of certain metals by bacteria, for metabolic processes.

Commercial methods used for elimination of copper from wastewater make use of technologies that remove not only the copper ions but also other nutrients and trace minerals that may be beneficial to human health. "Today's water treatment systems are 'bulk separation technologies' - they pull out all solutes, irrespective of their hazard or value," says co-author Peter Fiske. "ZIOS helps us to choose and remove only copper, a contaminant in water that has been linked to disease and organ failure, without removing desirable ions, such as nutrients or essential minerals," says Bui.

Scientists involved in the study stated ZIOS to last for a period of 52 days. ZIOS has been shown to work around 30-50 times faster than high-tech copper adsorbents. “Highly selective, durable materials that can capture specific trace constituents without becoming loaded down with other solutes, or falling apart with time, will be critically important in lowering the cost and energy of water treatment. They may also enable us to 'mine' wastewater for valuable metals or other trace constituents." elaborates Fiske.

Its ability to work well in acidic environments, similar to that found in mine wastewater makes ZIOS a better alternative against metal-organic frameworks in use for the purpose. This finding surprised researchers, "At first I thought it was a mistake, because the ZIOS crystals have a very low surface area, and according to conventional wisdom, a material should have a high specific surface area, like other families of adsorbents, such as metal-organic frameworks, or porous aromatic frameworks, to have a high adsorption capacity and an extremely fast adsorption kinetic," adds Bui.

Further investigation revealed that the structure of ZIOS resembles a structured sponge. In the presence of water, the miniscule pores or nanochannels in the material expand in specific directions; which allows substantial flow of copper ions. Researchers claim that ZIOS regains its original structure in less than 1 nanosecond (billionth of a second).

"In water science and the water industry, numerous families of materials have been designed for decontaminating wastewater, but few are designed for heavy metal removal from acidic mine drainage. We hope that ZIOS can help to change that," says Urban. Innovative devices like ZIOS may hopefully kick-start faster modes of water remediation.


Link to original article: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/dbnl-nm112320.php

Reason for choosing said article: Wastewater remediation is a subject that interests me, and new developments in this field are fascinating reads.


19. ARE VIRUSES THE REASON BEHIND THE FORMATION OF EUKARYOTES?

By Arya Kashettiwar


https://www.quantamagazine.org/did-viruses-create-the-nucleus-the-answer-may-be-near-20201125/#newsletter


Viruses are micro-organisms infect cells of every type of organism, from bacteria to humans, and steal their cellular mechanisms to replicate themselves in these hosts. Researchers recently refreshed their decade long hypotheses that viruses created the nucleus, a well-defined porous pouch full of genetic material.

No one knows exactly how the nucleus evolved and created that division. Growing evidence has persuaded some researchers, however, that the nucleus might have arisen through a symbiotic partnership much like the one believed to have produced mitochondria. A crucial difference, though, is that the partner responsible for the nucleus might not have been a cell at all, but a virus.

Philip Bell, the head of research for the yeast biotechnology company MicroBioGen, proposed a viral origin for the eukaryotic nucleus back in 2001 and refreshed the theory in September. “its three organisms that came together to such an extent that it became, effectively, a new life-form” he says.

He and other researchers take their confidence from findings such as the demonstration that giant viruses build “viral factories” inside prokaryotic cells — compartments that, much like the nucleus, uncouple the processes of transcription (reading genes) and translation (constructing proteins). “I think it’s now the strongest model,” he said.

There are many eukaryotic nucleus features that have to be explained while providing its origin story- nature of the structure, for starters: its nested inner and outer membranes, and the pores that connect its interior to the rest of the cell, the curious way it comaprtmentalizes the expression of genes within itself but leaves the construction of proteins outside and of course, why it exists at all.

Masaharu Takemura (then a research associate at Nagoya University, Japan) became interested in the evolution of DNA polymerases- enzymes (types of proteins) that cells use to copy DNA- when he was studying their biochemistry. “I performed a phylogenetic analysis of DNA polymerases including eukaryotic, bacterial, archaeal and viral ones,” Takemura, now a molecular biologist and virologist at Tokyo University of Science, recalled in an email. His analysis revealed that one group of viruses (the poxviruses) had DNA polymerases that were surprisingly similar to one of the major classes of polymerases from eukaryotes. He hypothesized that the eukaryotic enzyme originated as a contribution from some ancient poxvirus. Takemura also knew that poxviruses create and replicate inside compartments within the cells they infect. This combination of facts led him to theorize that the eukaryotic cell nucleus was derived from one of these ancestral poxvirus compartments — a proposal he published in the Journal of Molecular Evolution in May 2001. Meanwhile, in Australia, Bell had come to a similar conclusion for different reasons. As a graduate student in the early 1990s, he had taken an interest in theories about the origin of the nucleus, especially the idea that, like mitochondria, it might have started as an endosymbiont. “Five minutes of looking and I go, ‘Jeez, if it’s an endosymbiont, it’s not a bacterial one,’” he recalled. There were just too many differences between bacterial and eukaryotic genomes, he felt, like the fact that eukaryotes have linear chromosomes while bacteria tend to have circular ones.

Nearly two decades later, both Takemura and Bell have cited recent discoveries involving an extraordinary group of “giant viruses” as one of the main reasons for their updated hypotheses. The genomes of these viruses have more than one million base pairs and they rival those of small, free-living bacteria in size, and they carry viral versions of genes for proteins involved in essential processes in cells. these giant viruses replicate inside complex, self-constructed compartments in a host cell’s cytoplasm, which is why these viruses, like poxviruses, are classified as nucleocytoplasmic large DNA viruses (NCLDVs). For these giant viruses, the compartments they make are “viral factories which are as big as a eukaryotic nucleus,” said Patrick Forterre, an evolutionary biologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Tellingly, the viral factories made by NCLDVs that infect eukaryotes also have inner and outer membranes like the nucleus.

There are two ways in which nucleus could have come from giant viruses- either the viral factories became the nucleus, or, proto-eukaryotic cells learned from the virus in order to make themselves a kind of viral factory to protect chromosomes.

Just this year, researchers from Japan announced that after more than a decade of trying, they had finally isolated and cultured Lokiarchaeota — archaea of the type believed to have been part of the original eukaryotic partnership. That could open the door to discovering viruses that infect these distant relatives of ours and visualizing exactly what those infections actually look like.

“If you were to find a new class of viruses infecting the Lokiarchaeota, that got inside the cells and set up camp there and opened pores to facilitate rapid flow of transcripts into the cytoplasm — that would be [more] compelling” evidence that viruses gave rise to the nucleus, David Baum, am evolutionary biologist at the university of Wisconsin, Madison, said.

Bell noted that a trove of giant viruses was recently sequenced from the very same deep-sea sediments where Lokiarchaeota were discovered. He hopes someone will test whether any of these viruses can infect archaea and, if so, whether they build viral factories similar to those made by the NCLDVs that infect eukaryotes. Demonstrating that, he said, would be “game over.”


20. Astronomers witness the birth of a New Planet

By Arzoo Kathewadi


How was the universe formed? That is a question that many are no doubt curious about. Do planets suddenly just pop into existence? Or were they always there? Now thanks to recent observations made with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, scientists might have a better idea.

Using observations from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, the researchers found telltale signs of new planetary life within a dense disc of dust and gas around the young star AB Aurigae

Dr Anthony Boccaletti, who led the study from the Observatoire de Paris at the PSL University, in France, said: “Thousands of exoplanets have been identified so far, but little is known about how they form.” He added: “We need to observe very young systems to really capture the moment when planets form.”


Astronomers combined data to observe the birth of a new planet. This is first time that astronomers witness such an event. Mages used were taken by the European southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT). These images show a dense disc of dust and gas around a young star called AB Aurigae. When analyzing the data, researchers spotted a spiral structure with a “twist”, which suggests a new planet may

be forming. This particular twist in the disk of gas and dust surrounding a newly formed star usually means that a new planet is currently forming in the system. For the first few million years of their lives newly born stars are surrounded by dense disks of gas and dust. Driven by gravitational forces, these structures will not survive forever. They will quickly collapse under their own gravity to form new planets.

Researchers are now well aware of this process, but further research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms shaping the event.


Researchers believe that their discovery provides strong evidence that a new giant planet is currently forming around the AB Aurigae star. They estimate that the planet is between 4 and 13 times the mass of Jupiter. The new planet orbits its star at a distance similar to the distance between Neptune and the Sun. Recent simulations have suggested that young planets will unleash waves of densely packed gas, that

twist into spirals as they orbit their host stars. On arm of the spiral falls towards the star and the other expands outwards. These structures allow disk material to accumulate, allowing the young planet to grow. In 2017, the ALMA telescope observed 2 of these spiral arms within a large gap of the inner disk surrounding the newly formed star AB Aurigae. They appeared to be connected to the dusty spirals in

the stars outer disk.In their study, researchers combined these measurements with the newly acquired data of AB Aurigae. Using the combined data, researchers produced detailed images of AB Aurigae’s disk. They found a twisted spiral within one of the spiral arms first detected by ALMA. This observation was not possible using previous data.


21. Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna: who will be The Covid Vaccine?

By Ashley Roby

Vaccine developers Pfizer and Moderna released their vaccine trial reports yesterday, joining the Oxford vaccine in the race to be the coveted Covid vaccine. While Pfizer’s vaccine and Moderna’s vaccine, mRNA-1273, claimed 95% and 94.5% efficiency respectively, Oxford vaccine, AZD122 had shown only

70% efficiency.

The cost, efficiency, storage requisites, and access varies widely between the three and has placed these vaccine candidates in strong competition.

In their official statement, Pfizer announced that the vaccine was developed in partnership with German company BioNTech SE, and showed consistent efficiency across different age groups. They said that their vaccine requires cold storage at -75 (degree Celsius) and needs to be distributed in specifically

designed “thermal shippers”.

Moderna’s vaccine trials also announced 94.5% efficiency after their trials on 95 covid confirmed patients. The vaccine is expected to have a shelf life of 6 months if kept at standard refrigerated conditions between 2 to 8, said the company’s reports.

The vaccine developed by AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford, called AZD122 showed 70.4% efficiency in their phase 3 trials. “Positive high-level results from an interim analysis of clinical trials in the UK and Brazil showed the vaccine was highly effective in preventing COVID-19, the primary endpoint, and

no hospitalizations or severe cases of the disease were reported in participants receiving the vaccine,” AstraZeneca said in a statement.

Even though the Oxford vaccine claimed lower efficiency, closer analysis reveals different results. 70% efficiency was observed in the cases where two full doses were given a month apart. However, when the volunteers received a lower amount of vaccine in the first dose and full amount a month later, the efficiency

improved to 90%. The Astra vaccine is much cheaper than Moderna or Pfizer and will be manufactured in multiple countries, from the Serum Institute in India to Brazil. Hence, most low and middle-income countries have placed their hopeson the Astra vaccine. Unlike the others, this can be stored at normal refrigeration temperature making the distribution and administration, cheaper, faster, and efficient.


Union health minister Harsh Vardhan had spoken to the media that India will not require Pfizer’s vaccine against Covid-19, with other vaccine candidates being tested in the country showing promising results in safety trials so far. Serum institute in India has now reached phase 3 trials with the Indian Council

of Medical Research (ICMR) for the oxford vaccine. Since the storage requirements for the oxford vaccine is minimal, India can utilize its existing vaccine distribution system to deliver to its vast population.


In addition to these, Bharat Biotech-ICMR vaccine, Covaxin, Cadila health’s vaccine, ZyCovd, and Sputnik V Russian vaccines have also completed their phase 2 trials. The health ministry had announced that it is in talks with developers and manufacturers of the potential vaccines. “As for following up on the progress made on vaccine research, the government is continuously in talks with the parties involved. However, the actual procurement process will begin the day any of these vaccines gets regulatory approvals. So far, none of these vaccines has secured emergency use authorization (EUA) so there is no question

yet of vaccine procurement,” said the Union health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan.

22. Tagging RNA to Eliminate

Researchers have found a technique to tag RNAs and degrade them further, without using the Nobel winning CRISPR-Cas9

By Ashutosh Agrahari


Remember the good old trick of marking houses for robberies by robbers? Researchers at University of Cambridge have done something very similar with the ribonucleic acids, a precursor to the protein synthesis. They have successfully been able to mark RNAs for their selective degradation in a pool of billions of other nucleic acids. This method does not use the highly renowned CRISPR- Cas9 system which won the Nobel this year for genome editing. However, they have done this with the help of another enzyme and a couple of small molecules.

All the components (DNA, RNA and proteins) of the central dogma, a representation of biomolecules’ synthesis, are vital for the life. Owing to its flexible nature and instability compare to other two, RNA remains the least studied one. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important factors in the nature’s decision of protein expression. Hence, it becomes very important to track RNA molecules to study biochemical processes. In this context, Dr. G. Bernardes, chemist at University of Cambridge (UK), Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal), Dr. K. Tzelepis, geneticist at Wellcome Trust

Sanger Institute (UK), Harvard Medical School (USA), University of Cambridge (UK) and their team has hijacked a natural enzyme to tag RNA. This tag works as a recognition unit for another small

molecule degrader.

This article published in the journal ACS Central Science has been the point of attraction for the scientific community in the past couple of weeks. Prof. David Liu, a biochemist at Harvard University (USA) has told the press, “this is a creative new tool for degrading RNA sequences in living cells. It could be easily be adapted to target different types of cellular RNA”.

This discovery is based on a very fast reaction, known as Click Chemistry. For the click reaction, two moieties are required which react very fast in certain conditions. First, an alkyne group and another an azide group. For simplicity, we can consider these as carbon part and nitrogen part, respectively. At the end of the reaction, they form a cyclic moiety involving both the parts. They have used the carbon part to decorate the RNAs, which is done via exploiting naturally found enzyme called methyl transferase responsible for transfer of another moiety called methyl, not useful for click chemistry. “We trick methyl-transferase enzymes into decorating RNA strands with alkyne moieties” instead, explains Sigitas Mikutis, first author and a PhD student in the group of Dr. Bernardes, by substituting their typical methyl-adding cofactor with a version that, instead, adds an alkyne fragment.

Once, the RNA is marked with the carbon part, they send in the remaining part, azide (nitrogen part) to facilitate the click reaction. The nitrogen part has been designed in such a way that it carries a degrading group on another end. “The degrader contains a terminal imidazole fragment capable of breaking nucleosidic bonds,” adds Mikutis. Once, click reaction takes place, the RNA molecule is set to be eliminated by the degrader attached to the nitrogen part. Analyses of the fragments also help researchers to study the methylation sites in RNA.


“Our system offers a solution to degrade RNA, like CRISPR-Cas13, albeit in a completely different fashion that uses only small molecules,” Dr. Bernardes told the press. “This is a tremendous breakthrough that will help us better map RNA modifications in cells,” says Kristin S. Koutmou, an expert in translational mRNA modifications from the University of Michigan.


References:

1. Quotes have been taken from https://cen.acs.org/biological-chemistry/rna/New-system-cuts-RNA-

using/98/web/2020/11# (Retrieved on November 27, 2020)


2. Article link: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acscentsci.0c01094



23. Source-Science News for Students

Junk foods can harm a teen’s brain


By Atman Desai

Beware of your child grabbing a pizza and guzzling cold-drink next time. The researchers have found that high-fat and high-sugar diets such as burgers, fries and sweets can lead to disturbing changes in mental health. If your child is between the ages of 10 and 19, eating too much junk food can harm your body and your brain. Junk food shapes adolescent brains in ways that impair their ability to think, learn and remember. It can also make it harder to control impulsive behaviors.

Adolescents are more sensitive than any other age group to foods with a lot of processed fat and sugar. The brains of children are not yet fully formed. If junk food is consumed, it harms the parts of brain. This research has been done at Canada’s Western University in London, Ontario and has been published in journal ‘The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health’.

‘First, adolescent brains are still developing the ability to assess risks and control actions. Second, teen brains get more pleasure than adult brains do from rewarding behaviors such as eating junk food. Third, adolescent brains can be more easily influenced by their environment.

This can include any stress you’re feeling, any isolation or any drugs you may be taking. It can also be influenced by diet. Together, these all can combine to make junk food both hard to resist and extra bad for teen health’, says Amy Reichelt, a brain and nutrition specialist at the University.

The prefrontal cortex region of the brain isn’t fully mature until the humans are in our 20s. That’s a problem for adolescents. The prefrontal cortex helps us understand risk and resist bad behaviors, such as eating an entire bag of chips. The brain region tells that the individual shouldn’t eat chips all the time and helps us resist that urge is the last to mature. Called the prefrontal cortex, this region doesn’t fully develop until we are in our early 20s.

Brain imaging studies show that the prefrontal cortex turns on when humans weigh risks and make decisions about how to act. Unlike the prefrontal cortex, the parts of the brain that make us feel good when we do something pleasurable like eating tasty foods or being with friends are fully developed by the teen years.

Different parts of brains are even more sensitive when we are young. That’s because of a natural chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is sometimes called the “feel good” chemical. It lifts our mood when we experience something rewarding. And it is especially active in adolescent brains. As a neurotransmitter, it zips across the spaces between brain cells. Once it arrives at a new cell, dopamine binds to docking stations there. These molecules are known as receptors. When dopamine docks, those receptors relay the “feel good” signal from the last cell to this new one. That tells the brain that whatever it just experienced is worth getting more of. Adolescents have more dopamine receptors in the brain than do adults. So they get more good vibes from anything they find enjoyable. The teen brain, thus, has two strikes against it when it

comes to resisting junk food. “It has a heightened drive for rewards and reduced self-regulation.

24. How Effective Is The AstraZeneca Vaccine In Stopping Covid Transmission?

By Ayesha Rahmat Yadwad

https://www.wired.com/story/does-the-astrazeneca-vaccine-also-stop-covid-transmission/

We now have three apparently effective and safe vaccines against Covid-19. Amid an unprecedented peak in cases in the United States and Europe, with US deaths pushing 250,000 and the country showing uncontrolled spread of the virus, that ain’t bad news.

This week’s entrant, a vaccine from the drug company AstraZeneca and researchers at Oxford University, came with tantalizing hints of a particular capability that would, if it bears out, make a huge difference in fighting the pandemic. The researchers working on the AstraZeneca version said they had signs of reduced transmission, of people spreading the disease from one person to another.

The first two vaccines to complete their large-scale trials, one from the drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech and the other from Moderna, are a new kind of medicine. They use bits of genetic material called messenger RNA, in this case a sequence that codes for a part of the virus called a spike protein. That protein helps the SARS-CoV-2 virus attack people’s cells; the mRNA, enfolded in proprietary bubbles of fat, teaches the human immune system to fight the virus instead. Pfizer’s version has an efficacy of above 90 percent, says a company press release; a Moderna press release says its efficacy is 94.5 percent. If those results hold when more data becomes public, these vaccines would be extraordinary.

The one from AstraZeneca is a little more traditional, putting the gene for that spike protein into a sort of stealth carrier called a vector—in this case, an adenovirus that usually infects chimpanzees, modified so that it can’t replicate anymore. The company’s results—again, maddeningly, delivered via press release rather than peer-reviewed science—are a little more confusing.

The press release on the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Oxford side included this bulleted finding: “Early indication that vaccine could reduce virus transmission from an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections.” Researchers at Oxford told reporters Monday that testing showed the vaccinated group in the UK had fewer asymptomatic infections, which means they'd be less likely to unwittingly spread the disease themselves.

Lots of other respiratory viruses overlap symptoms and transmission—sometimes the symptoms themselves, like coughing, are the way the virus gets from an infected person to others. The assumption that this was also true for Covid-19 provided the stitching for a lot of pandemic protection cosplay—like temperature checks and symptom surveys. “A lot of the things we did early were based on the fact that with traditional SARS, there was not a whole lot of transmission from asymptomatic individuals,” Monto says. “Symptomatic people tend to transmit more than asymptomatic people for respiratory infections. We think that’s probably true with Covid, but it is becoming more clear that asymptomatic people are also involved in transmission.”

The problem is, a Covid-19 vaccine that only prevents illness—which is to say, symptoms—might not prevent infection with the virus or transmission of it to other people. Worst case, a vaccinated person could still be an asymptomatic carrier. Different levels of protection against transmission could make a big difference in how well a vaccine will tamp down the pandemic.

Just because the news isn’t all good doesn’t mean it isn’t actionable!

25. End or Beginning? Where is physics heading?

Is there a drought in field of physics or is it just a phase like writers' block?

By Chetan Sethi

Physics, the field that has brought the revolutionary changes to thinking of mankind. It hasgiven a precise and mathematical way of understanding matter and energy and universe. But as compared to earlier great discoveries like Relativity, it seems as if there is a partial halt in exploration of physics. Or is it just a myth that we have to wipe out and view past it?

Robbert Dijkgraaf from Princeton, New Jersey has published a paper by the name "Contemplating the End of Physics", has talked about the limits, physics has reached and what can be new possibilities for us to discover. He put out three points which argued against Physics being at the dead end. These points include discovery of Higgs particle, detection of Gravitational Waves and first image of Black Hole. These arguments make it thinkable that all the dead ends can be just another begining, if viewed from another perspective.

Physics has infinite possibilities and claiming its end is like similar to the end of mathematics after introduction of natural numbers, basic arithmetic and end of chemistry after introduction of periodic table. The 95% of universe that consist of dark matter and energy are yet to be explored. Accounting for this, discovery of something new is not the only parameter to measure progress.

Physics is considered to be self sustainable like the fictional Baron Munchausen who lifted himself out of a swamp by pulling on his own hair. In his article, Robbert gave an image of upside down view of physics. Instead of discovering anything new, we can go reverse engineer some old phenomena and discover something that was missed earlier.

Till 20th century, it was found out that atoms and molecules are basic entities of any matter. The progress was made to bits and algorithms. But this century is dedicated to artificial intelligence. "I believe that what we currently know is an absolutely negligible fraction of the physics that’s out there, waiting to be investigated", Robbert quoted.

It has been 14 billion years that universe expanding and 4 billion years that Earth has life on it. Until now, only a small fraction of nature has been explored. Biologist Richard Dawkins pointed out, "We human beings — along with every other organism that has ever lived — are all the lucky winners of a cosmic lottery".

The slow agonising progress of cosmological and biological evolution on time scale of millions is made faster in laboratory. This give rise to artificial science and create new aspects for future. The laboratory phenomena as well as phenomena made in our head, both have equa contribution to the new science that is giving new meaning to the word 'artificial'.

One could always argue that seed that leads to great discoveries is sown sometime in past years.

Maybe physics has run out of original ideas.

Maybe not.

But as Robbert said, "For a subject supposedly past its prime, the first two decades of this century have been pretty successful for physics".

Maybe there are some doors yet to be knocked.

26. A self-healing material is ready for use!

they sense the environment, respond to it, and repair any damage.

By Deepak Kapri

A study published in Composite Structures from Center for Design, Manufacturing and Materials , Skoltech claimed to manufacture a self diagnostic material by addition of carbon nanoparticles to polymer matrices. Polymer matrices are composite formed by compiling fibers, which are stronger and lighter.

The study, is part of a multiphase project designed to create self-sensing materials which can be produced using existing industrial manufacturing routes. Self-sensing material is a material, sensing its own condition , they sense the environment, respond to it, and repair any damage.

With the adequate mechanical properties of polymer matrices like : high strength, high rigidity, low density, excellent resistance to fatigue, corrosion, and expansion under the high thermal conditions , have increased its demand and attention in manufacturing industries in recent years.

Studies have shown that addition of carbon nanoparticles even in small amount increases their mechanical properties, while maintaining electrical properties like conductivity and resistivity under mechanical load i.e. piezoresistivity. However production of carbon nanoparticles in abundance would be problematic with current manufacturing machines hence need upgradation.

"This is why we decided to use masterbatches and industrially available, inexpensive manufacturing techniques. Masterbatches can be stored, transported and incorporated into large scale production routes without the necessity of expensive overhauls. Almost every facility dealing with thermoset polymers has a simple mixer," said Author, Hassaan

The study involves how the addition of carbon nanoparticles to polymer matrices changes electrical conductivity of material during mechanical loading. Study also examines how it changes or heals itself during this process, which will let us know deformation the material is experiencing. This cuts out the need for complex monitoring techniques, with a simple multimeter being able to determine the answer.

Aircrafts flying at high altitudes require properties like low solar absorption, radiation resistance, and electrical conductivity which makes this material suitable for them. Sensors that are used to detect and respond to electrical or optical signals , would be suitable to make by this material; in weight critical systems such as aircraft structures, with the material itself being able to provide measurements. The same materials and production route can be used to manufacture electrically conductive materials for applications such as electric circuit printing, electromagnetic shielding and specialized temperature and humidity sensors.

"The current materials have applications ranging from the aerospace sphere to specialized sensors. The materials are unique in the fact that they can be scaled up into structures or scaled down to attach as separate miniature sensors" said Hassaan. Their manufacture is not only limited to specific manufacturing route, they are also be used in processes like pultrusion where raw materials like glass fiber resins are combined and cured and resin infusion where the voids of porous material are filled with a liquid resin. When the resin solidifies, the solid resin matrix binds the assembly of materials into a unified rigid composite.


27. Mount Everest is no longer pristine: microplastic pollution in snow

By Devahita Ashwin Anand

https://science.thewire.in/environment/mount-everest-microplastics-pollution-global-warming/

Scientists discovered the presence of micro plastics (MP) in snow and stream water in the

Mt. Everest, says a study published in the journal One Earth. The snow samples collected from 11 locations between the base camp and the Balcony, a popular resting spot during the final summit, on the Himalayan peak by the scientists, point out that the MP is ubiquitous in the region. The highest concentration of MP was in Everest Base Camp Sample and the lowest was at the South Col.The balcony is highly polluted by the huge quantity of food waste, discarded plastic bottles, oxygen bottles and cigarette butts.

One major reason for the MP pollution in Mt Everest is the increased tourism. The number of trekkers and climbers increased from 3,600 visitors in 1979, to over 45,000 in 2016, stated in the state of conservation report, government of Nepal. Though the local economy was immensely boosted, the negative impact of the tourism on MP pollution was discovered lately. Waste, a long standing problem, began accumulating in the mountains as the tourists discarded them unscientifically. As the camp at the south Col, described as “the world’s highest junkyard” over 50 years ago and the whole mountain as “the highest trash dump in the world”.

Tiny plastic pieces(<5mm)were mainly polyester fibres, come from trekkers performance clothing and equipments, caused the pollution, created a challenge and opportunity for the manufacturers to design fabrics that use more sustainable material, either natural fibre or that shed minimum micro plastics, but not with the synthetic fibre. Nepal government banned single use plastics from January 2020, brought measures to encourage not to litter and also asking for a $4000 deposit, which is returned if they bring their waste back down with them, to reduce waste left by trekkers.

Wind might transport such plastics to the mountain.” Paul Mayewski, leader of the expedition, said in a statement. Imogen Napper, who studies marine litter at the University of Plymouth, added: “It really surprised me to find micro plastics in every single snow sample I analysed. Mount Everest is somewhere I have always considered remote and pristine. To know we are polluting near the top of the tallest mountain is a real eye-opener.”

The constantly moving stream was MP contaminated in smaller quantity compared to the more static snow, which showed a more diverse range of polymer types than the stream samples. “It was very disappointing to see obvious human contamination of the deepest point in the ocean,” Victor Vescovo, an investor and explorer who undertook the deepest dive ever made by a human inside a submarine to the trench, said in an interview. He also added about the world’s ocean, “It’s not a big garbage collection pool, even though it’s treated as such,”

Napper said in the statement that the high-elevation find was an eye opener: “We have now found it from the bottom of the deep sea, all the way to nearly the summit of the highest mountain on Earth.” He added that given how ubiquitous micro plastics had become in the environment, it was important to focus on appropriate environmental solutions.

To protect the environment, the trekkers and climbers must use the equipments of the natural fibre and encourage not to throw the waste in the mountains.They must continue to minimize their impact, mainly regarding the harmful debris.

The rising impact of anthropogenic pollution is evident. The recent studies discover that no pristine area is left on the earth.

28. Taking notes by hand may boost how well you remember new information.

By Devansh Tripathi

A new study by Van der Meer, a neuropsychologist, shows using a pen or a digital stylus can improve learning and help to even remember more as it turns on parts of brain involved in learning and memory.

Van der Meer is a neuropsychologist, someone who measures brain activity to better understand learning and behaviours. She works at the NorwegianUniversity of Science and Technology in Trondheim.

Even though keyboard activity is now often recommended as a substitute for early handwriting, she believes that, “young children should learn to write by hand successfully, and, at the same time learn to manage a keyboard”

Along the Using a pen, or a digital stylus, involves more of the brain than using a keyboard, her new findings show. This is because writing and printing involve intricate movements that activate more areas of the brain. The increased brain activity, “gives the brain more ‘hooks’ to hang your memories on,” she explains.

She explains by comparing the process of writing through keyboard and a pen. She says, “ The same movement is required to type each letter on a keyboard. In contrast, when we write, our brain needs to think about and retrieve memories of the shape of each letter. We also need to use our eyes to watch what shapes we’re writing. And we need to control our hands to press a pen or pencil to shape the different letters. All of this uses and connects more areas of the brain.”

Van der Meer also points out that taking notes by hand stimulates “visual notetaking.” Rather than typing blindly, during the process of visual notetaking one has to think about what is important to write down. Then, key words can be “interlinked by boxes, and arrows, and supplemented by small drawings.”

In the study 12 adults and 12 seventh-graders took part. All were used to writing in cursive. Researchers asked each of them to write and draw with a digital pen. Each was also asked to type on a keyboard. While performing these tasks, each volunteer wore a cap that held electrodes next to their head. It looked somewhat like a hair net fitted with 256 sensors.

Those sensors recorded the participants’ brainwaves, a type of electrical activity, as EEGs. These sensors noted which parts of the brain turned on during each task, which initially showed that the brain activity was about the same in both the kids and the adults. Writing turned on memory areas in the brain. Typing didn’t. Drawing images and writing also turned on parts of the brain involved with learning. Writing even activated language areas.

This suggests, as she says, that when we write by hand, “we both learn better and remember better.” as described her findings in Frontiers in Psychology

Keyboards are not bad

She also states that this study does not suggest banning of digital devices. Instead she says “I would use a keyboard to write an essay, but I’d take notes by hand [in class].”

Van der Meer recognizes that learning to write by hand is a slower process. She also is aware that it requires fine motor skills. But, she adds, that’s good: “If we don’t challenge our brain, it can’t reach its full potential.”


29. OUR TEAM DEVELOPMENT OF 5G AND 6G CELLULAR NETWORK

By Devendiran.V

The Basic concepts of Cellular system network and evaluation of 5G and 6G Networks developments are explained by electrical engineering at Arizona State professor Daniel Bliss. Who has been also acting as the director of the Center for Wireless Information Systems and Computational Architecture.

The Wireless system is a data transfer from one electronics device to another electronic device successful using medium of Air without any physical connection. It was a very old technique discovered by the Marconi. Which has helped to communicate one ship to another ship in the Atlantic Ocean. It has attracted to all of them. Day to day life all were used this system for

Communication between one to others with long distance communication. Finally, this system has changed to the cellular network, but this system has worked with the boundary cells. Whereas Cellular system has been working different cells without disconnecting. It has used an Automatic switching technique. Which was helping to create connections between one cell to another cell movement.

Initial stages of cellular system used for Analog system, but this system could not able to provide stability and Security of the during data transfer. It was found very big disadvantages of Analog Cellular system. Further technology evolved analog cellular system has replaced with Digital cellular system. Which has improved Communication system compare to the analog system. This digital cellular system also reduced the antenna size. But it also created some drawback when those are needed to send photos and Videos using this network. This drawback depends on the data transfer rate and speed of the network. The further cellular technology developed to high data rate and speed .Which network also called as a 5G cellular technology. We can a achieved high data rate and speed using this 5G Network.

The future research will create a new cellular system. Which will be improved again data rate, bandwidth and speed of the network. It will also called as a 6G Cellular network. The main improvement of this network is used to develop Internet of Things. Which means it will talk with one electronic device to another electronic device without the help of human being. This Internet of

Things architecture will further enhance using ML technology.ML technology could provide automatic decision making skill for the electronics devices.

We are expertise of developing a cellular network for future technology of data transfer. Which will definitely enhance human life. This technology development will improve the electronics device data transfer rate and speed of the system. It will also involve with some software and hardware algorithm for security devolvement of the system because today's world was lagging for the secure data transfer. If security will develop in the Cellular network. Which will help to improve the service of the following area in future. Such as Medical Equipment enhancement for Hospital uses, Industrial Data manipulation data transfer unit, Army navigational electronics equipment’s, Airport control unit, Airport traffic management unit, Railway traffic control unit and passenger ticket management system etc.


30. Mathematics of Sustaining Ecology !

Mathematical model explains how seed dispersal maintain savanna and forest ecology.

By Dheeraj Dhiman

Ecologists have developed many theories explaining how biomes — large communities of plants and animals that have adapted to a certain climate are distributed. The classical ‘biome theory’ says that the prevailing climatic conditions determine the distribution of plants, and the biomes track changes in the climate which are reversible. The ‘bistable theory’, on the other hand, argues that a single climatic type can support both savannas and forests, which are maintained by the occurrence of natural fires, consistent with satellite observations. However, the bistable theory cannot explain why savanna and forest are spatially clustered. In a recent study, a group of researchers used mathematical models and satellite data to understand how seed dispersal from forest trees helps in maintaining the savanna–forest boundaries.

The savannas are tropical landscapes characterised by trees and grass, serving as home to some iconic mammals such as zebras and elephants, covering nearly a fifth of the planet, marked by a unique savanna–forest transition zone.

“On one side, we have a forest with no grass. On the savanna side, there is a continuous layer of flammable grass, with sporadically distributed trees,” explains a researcher at the University of Texas.

They considered how plants spread by seed diffusion and assumed that processes like fire and rain determine the vegetation structure. They incorporated two variables; one to explain the interactions between fire, vegetation, and the climate, and another for seed dispersal.

“We developed a mathematical model to describe changes in tree populations when many patches are connected together by dispersal,” says ,one of the researchers.

A function in their model shows how forests expand into savannas until the growth rate of trees is reduced due to a decrease in rainfall. Similarly, the wind disperses seeds into the forest, causing the savannas to expand into the woods. An increase in the rainfall results in growth of trees again restoring the boundary.

“We think, at such a large spatial scale, the climate, fire, and dispersal play a dominant role in structuring plant distributions”, says one of the researchers.

The study also reveals how climate change could influence changes in savannas and forests, and that such changes may be reversible due to the role of seed dispersal. Thus, these ecosystems could be more resilient to natural and human-induced disturbances. However, such reversible shifts may be extremely slow, and if the disturbances are large enough, these ecosystems may fail to recover, caution the authors.

His research involves understanding the ecological processes in such transition zones. But how does nature maintain this boundary between the savanna and the savannas are home to many large herbivores that feed on the plants that grow here. However, their role in maintaining the savanna– forest boundary remains unexplored.

“Herbivory could play a role but there aren’t any good datasets to show that continental-scale savannas–forest boundaries are determined by herbivory,” says Nikunj.

In the current study, the researchers resorted to mathematics to address theshortcomings of the bistable theory.

31. Millions of people in costal zones are in threat

Ice melting in Greenland will affect the world climate

By Dinu Tony

https://science.thewire.in/environment/climate-change-whats-happening-on-the-largest-island-

greenland-in-the-world/

In a recent study professor Jonathan Bamber and team found that as the green- house gas emissions increases, the Greenland ice sheets start melting rapidly which affects millions of people in the coastal zones. Greenland, the largest island in the world, contains the largest ice mass in Northern Hemisphere and if it melts the sea would rise by more than seven meters.

The team conducted a study on the largest glaciers in Greenland. In order to find the possibilities of temperature change in future they compared the past behavior of ice sheets during climate change with that of model projections. Using historic aerial photographs they reconstructed how the volume of glaciers had changed over the period 1889 to 2012.Studies showed that the three glaciers -Jakobshavn Isbrae, Helheim and Kangerlussuaq- were responsible for 8.1 mm of sea level rise. The sea has risen around 20 centimeters globally over the period of their study.

Sea level rise possess a serious threat to coastal areas worldwide. Global mean sea level rose by 17 centimeters during the 20th century due to the loss of land based ice mass, thermal expansion of the oceans and changes in terrestrial water storage. This may increase to 0.7-2 meters by 2100.

In 2013, a modelling study by researcher Faezeh Nick and colleagues looked at the three glaciers and projected how they would respond in different future climate scenarios. The most extreme of these is called RCP 8.5, a representative Concentration Pathway is a greenhouse gas concentration trajectory adopted by the IPCC. RCP 8.5 refers to the concentration of carbon that delivers global warming at an average of 8.5 watts per square meter across the planet. It may result in a global mean warming of about 3.70 C above today’s temperature. According to a recent study from a group of US scientists it may be the most appropriate scene up to at least 2050.

Greenland is the home of various species and even minor changes in the environment will affect them. Such changes will inversely affect the population and growth of species living there. In fact the effects of increasing temperature are being felt in all parts of the earth system.

Professor Jonathan and team concludes that the result of their studies suggest a strong link between climate change and ice melt. We need to have meaningful plans for the future of all living beings in a sustainable way.

32. Researchers have found cooking with biomass fuel like wood may cause

lung damage

By Dr V. Vijay Kumar

A team of researchers presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) explained with an advance imaging technique that cooking with wood might lead to lung damage by breathing dangerous concentrations of pollutants and bacterial toxins.

BHUBANESWAR: A collaborative multidisciplinary research a higher level of air trapping in lungs, a collaborative multidisciplinary research team found one who cooks with wood biomass were exposed to greater concentrations of pollutants and bacterial endotoxins, having a higher level of air trapping in lungs, a condition associated with lung diseases.

The research was presented at

the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The research team led by Prof. Eric A. Hoffman from the University of Iowa, USA in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, USA and Periyar Maniammai Institute of Science and Technology, Tamilnadu, India measured the concentrations of pollutants in the homes and then studied the lung function of the individuals, using traditional tests such as spirometry.

They also used advanced Computed Tomography (CT) scanning to make quantitative measurements, they acquired one scan when the person inhaled and another after they exhaled and measured the difference between the images to see how the lungs were functioning. The researchers investigated the impact of cookstove pollutants in 23 people cooking with liquefied petroleum gas or wood biomass in Thanjavur, India.

"Air trapping happens when a part of the lung is unable to exchange air with the environment efficiently, those who cook with biomass fuel like wood breathe in, may not getting enough oxygen into that lung region and eliminating carbon dioxide," said Dr Abhilash Kizhakke Puliyakote, one of the researcher, who is currently doing postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, USA.

The researchers found a smaller subset of the biomass users who had very high levels of air trapping and abnormal tissue mechanics, even when compared to other biomass users. In about one-third of the group, more than 50% of the air they inhaled ended up trapped in their lungs. Advanced imaging with CT showed important information on smoke's effect on the lungs that was underestimated by conventional tests.

"Traditional tests do not well capture the extent of lung damage from biomass fuels, the advanced sensitive techniques like CT imaging added key advantage to detect subtle, regional changes before they progress to full-blown lung disease,” said Dr Puliyakote.

The study results underscore the importance of minimizing exposure to smoke. Even in the absence of overt symptoms or breathing difficulties, the lung may have injury and inflammation that can go undetected and potentially unresolved in some people. The study focused on cooking with biomass; the findings have important implications for exposure to biomass smoke from other sources, including wildfires.

Approximately three billion people around the world cook with biomass, such as wood or dried brush. Pollutants from cooking with biomass constitute a significant contributor to the estimated four million deaths a year from household air pollution- related illness. While public health initiatives have tried to provide support to transition from biomass fuels to cleaner-burning liquefied petroleum gas as a fuel source, a significant number of homes continue to use biomass fuels. Financial constraints and a reluctance to change established habits are factors, combined with a lack of information on the impact of biomass smoke on lung health.

Image Courtesy: Smithsonian Magazine

< 563 Words >

Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/rson-cww111920.php Title: Cooking with wood may cause lung damage

News Released on 25.11.2020

33. This is transition from childhood to adulthood in humans and other primates

During puberty, people grow very quickly and reach their final adult height.

By Dr. Milan Kumar Raul

Puberty

This is the transition between childhood and adulthood. Humans and other primates, such as chimpanzees, go through puberty as they develop and grow. At the end of puberty, they’ll be at adulthood — the stage where an organism is mentally and physically mature. But of course, we all have to get there first.

During puberty, the body experiences a surge in hormones. These chemicals enter the blood stream and cause changes in the body. For example, some hormones make a person grow very quickly. By the end of puberty, most people reach their final adult height. Puberty is also when a person grows secondary sex characteristics. These are traits such as breasts, facial hair and pubic hair. A person’s voice will also change. Reproductive organs develop during puberty. And a person becomes fertile — able to reproduce.

People born with female anatomy and hormones usually begin puberty between age eight and 14. Those born with male anatomy and hormones start a little later — between nine and 15.

Different body parts will also develop at different rates. For example, a person might reach their full adult height by the time they are 12. But someone might not develop breasts or facial hair until 16, or even later. And brains really lag behind. Most people’s brains begin to mature during puberty. But they don’t stop maturing until age 25.

Brain changes mean that many people have changes in their behavior. Someone undergoing puberty may feel emotions in new ways. They might also act on their emotions differently than when they were children.

The changes in a person’s body during puberty don’t determine who they are. Sometimes, a person’s gender identity — their sense of whether they are a boy, a girl, both or neither — doesn’t match up with the body parts they were born with. Someone’s anatomy also doesn’t determine who they might have a crush on or fall in love with.

34. Researchers Identify Potential Therapeutic Target for Osteoporosis

Dr Eva Sharma


"File:Osteoporosis Locations.png" by BruceBlaus is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0



According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania discovered cells that play a distinct role in how the bones form and maintain themselves. These cells, called bone marrow adipogenic lineage precursors (MALPs) can become a potential target for future therapies for bone disorders like osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis is the underlying condition related to more than 8.9 million fractures worldwide every year, researchers say. Due to its prevalence, osteoporosis is considered a serious public health concern. The study's senior author, Ling Qin, an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, highlighting the importance of the study said, "Discovering new cellular and molecular mechanisms to control bone production will enable fine-tuning of existing therapies or designing novel therapeutics".

Earlier in 2020, Qin's group first obtained information stored in the RNA of the mice bone cells using a technique called single-cell RNA-sequencing. This technique is used to compare differences between individual cells. To their surprise, this method revealed the abundant existence of MALPs within bone. MALPs are the precursors for adipocytes that carry fats and are present in bone marrow, the soft tissue inside bones. Through computational methods, they showed that MALPs secrete a protein essential for forming osteoclasts called RANKL at a high level.

"By identifying what appears to be the full function of MALP cells, we believe that we have uncovered an extremely promising target that would never have been considered before," Qin said. "If their RANKL secretions can be reliably disabled, it could rebalance bone remodelling in people with osteoporosis and allow for osteoblasts and osteocytes to 'catch up.'"

A bone is a dynamic tissue where a constant balance between osteoblasts and osteoclasts is responsible for the way bones remodel themselves. Osteoblasts are the cells which secrete the materials necessary for new bone formation while osteoclasts are the cells which absorb old bone material. A shift in this balance towards increased absorption of bone by osteoclasts leads to osteoporosis. It causes excessive bone loss leading to hollow and weaker bones.

The scientists conceived that osteoblasts and their descendant osteocytes were the ones that initiated the production of osteoclasts. But on the other hand, the function of MALPs in bone rebuilding was not known. Qin's co-author, Jaimo Ahn, a former faculty member at Penn Medicine, believes that "An exciting future step, with an eye toward clinical application, would be to target MALPs to test how well they decrease the bone resorption and increase bone formation,"

With the gained information, the researchers of this study including the lead author Wei Yu, working as a visiting scholar at Penn Medicine decided to confirm their findings. They studied mice in which secretion of RANKL from MAPLs was disabled. The researchers saw 60% to 100 % higher density in the spongy core of long bones (like the femur) and vertebrae in mice starting from 1 month of age. The team viewed this as "a drastic increase" compared to typical mouse bone mass. In contrast, osteoblasts and osteocytes continued to work normally.

Thus, from this study, the team concluded that rather than osteoblasts or osteocytes, MALPs are the main drivers for osteoclast formation. In future, it might be possible to regulate MALPs behaviour and potentially used in osteoporosis therapy.


PRESS RELEASE: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/uops-pct112020.php

RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLE: http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI140214

35. OXFORD UNIVERSITY VACCINE SHOWS 70% EFFECTIVENESS

By PRIYANKA A PAUNIKAR

Report published on 23 Nov by AstraZeneca stated that the AZDI1222 vaccine, also called as the Oxford University/ AstraZeneca vaccine, was 70.4% effective and met primary efficacy in preventing COVID-19 in its Phase III trial. It was also reported that there were no cases of hospitalization or severe cases of COVID-19 in participants. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90% effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply. Today’s announcement is only possible thanks to the many volunteers in our trial, and the hard working and talented team of researchers based around the world.” , said Professor Andrew Pollard, Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford. AZDI1222 vaccine Phase III interim analysis contained total 131 COVID-19 cases. The analysis was carried over two dosing regimens indicating an average of 70.4% effectiveness after combining the data of both the regimen. One dosing regimen showed 90% efficacy when the vaccine was given as half dose, followed by a full dose at least one month apart. Another regimen contained showed 62% efficacy when two full doses were given at least one month apart. The interim analysis included data from Phase II/III trail in United Kingdoms and Phase III trial in Brazil. Over 23,000 participants were being assessed over the AZDI1222 vaccine or saline. The global trials included patients from the age group 18-55 from diverse racial and geographical ethnicity. The report also stated that there were no serious effects of the vaccine and the vaccine was well tolerated among both the regimen. [1]"If a vaccine is 70 percent efficacious but offers 90 percent coverage, compared to a vaccine that is 90 percent efficacious, but offers only 50 percent coverage, I'll any day go for better coverage," said virologist Dr Shahid Jameel while decoding the various efficacy figures thrown up by the top three COVID-19 vaccines. He calls Oxford vaccine data ‘very good news’ for India and the developing world.

AZDI1222 vaccine uses a weakened version of common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infection in chimpanzees and contains genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. Spike protein is a protein on the surface of virus that helps to bind to the human cell and hence infecting that cell. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, preparing the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.

The results of Phase III trial of AZDI1222 vaccine has raised an issue among various experts in the field regarding its working which is unclear over the two dosing regimens. The trails have also not taken not account the individuals over 55 years of age which has also raised concerns. [2]

“There are a number of variables that we need to understand, and what has been the role of each one of them in achieving the differences in efficacy,” says Moncef Slaoui, chief scientist of the U.S. government’s Operation Warp Speed, which has invested heavily in the vaccine, including in an ongoing efficacy trial.

But the results have indeed given hope towards eradicating the global pandemic. “Today marks an important milestone in our fight against the pandemic. This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency. Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”, said Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca.

Reference-

• Quote [1] has been taken from- https://www.thequint.com/news/india/dont-go-by-

efficacy-oxford-vaccine-is-the-best-news-for-india-2

• Quote[2] has been taken from- https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/11/after-

dosing-mix-latest-covid-19-vaccine-success-comes-big-question-mark

https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-11-23-oxford-university-breakthrough-global-

covid-19-vaccine-0

https://www.astrazeneca.com/media-centre/press-releases/2020/azd1222hlr.html


36. Unraveling a new discovery: Microbes role in plant stress management

Recent research gives insight into the coordinated microbial community flourishment and prevention of vital nutrients loss by barrier formation in plant cells.

By Gargi

Plant-microbe interaction has been a widely explored area in the last few years. A new study performed on model plant Arabidopsis thaliana reveals a reciprocal relationship between the plant and microbial communities that colonize the plant roots. The plant fight mechanism against stress is to create a barrier that prevents the diffusion of nutrients and minerals back into the environment. This survival mechanism influences the microbial population to flourish and in turn these microbes aid in the barrier formation mechanism of plants to prevent diffusion of essential compounds. This research has been performed by a group of plant scientists at the University of Nottingham, UK, and recently published in the journal science.

The researchers said in their article,” Plant roots and animal guts have evolved specialized cell layers to control mineral nutrient homeostasis that must tolerate the resident microbiota while keeping homeostatic integrity. Whether and how the root diffusion barriers in the endodermis, critical for the mineral nutrient balance of plants, coordinates with the microbiota, is unknown.”

Similar to animal guts are plant transport systems, specialized cell check-points come to rescue the organism in the times of dire needs, that is during biotic and abiotic stresses. In animals, these gate-keepers are epithelial cells whereas in plants these are casparian strips and suberin walls. This root diffusion barrier formed in plants prevents the loss of important minerals and nutrients that helps in plant growth and reproduction.

‘To explore the interplay between the root diffusion barriers and the plant microbiome, we analyzed the microbiota’s ability to influence the deposition of root diffusion barriers in the endodermis. We determined how the deposition of the Casparian strips and suberin synthesis changes in response to a collection of hundreds of different bacterial strains. Indeed, we noticed that some bacteria have the capacity to induce changes in the endodermal lignification independently of the appearance of the first root hair, a marker of root development. These results indicate that members of the root microbiome have the capacity to modify Casparian strip formation.’

Lignin is the main component of casparian strips and suberin is another cell layer, present between the cell wall and plasma membrane. The result signifies the role of microbes in root diffusion barrier development, furthermore, this has been tried on a hundred different samples of microbial populations as well, to test the efficacy of diverse microbes individually. As an upshot, natural inhabitants of plant roots are efficient in modifying the casparian strip formation, a large experimented microbes individually in addition to being effective as a mixed community.

One of the researches says ‘We asked if the bacterially-induced changes in the root diffusion barriers function affect plant mineral nutrient homeostasis. After deep research, these findings strongly suggest that the mechanisms that influence suberin deposition mediated by members of the plant microbiota also influence mineral nutrient homeostasis in the plant.‘

Stable mineral-nutrient composition maintenance is important for the proper functioning of plants. This result marks the influence on mineral-nutrient homeostasis and suberin deposition both induced by bacteria. This study is the first one to describe the mutual relationship between plant cells and regulated microbiota growth resulting in plant homeostatic mechanisms.

With research many new avenues can be explored in the future, primarily in the agricultural sector, increasing crop production under stressful geographical conditions by modulating the host and mutualist interaction consequently increasing capacity for carbon sequestration and decreasing the toxic elements.

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/11/18/science.abd0695

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/uon-prs112020.php


37. TACKLING ANTIBIOTIC DRUG RESISTANCE WITH SIVER NANOPARTICLES

Silver nanoparticles with antibiotic can overcome drug resistance

By GERALDINE JOHN

Resource: India Science Wire

Science Story link:

https://vigyanprasar.gov.in/isw/Combining-antibiotics-with-silver-nanoparticles-may-help-

address-drug-resistance.html

Scientists at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi, have discovered that silver nanoparticles with an antibiotic, Ampicillin, a Penicillin analog, could prevent drug resistance of various bacteria by the mutual effects of ampicillin to inhibit cell wall biosynthesis and the potential of silver nanoparticles to damage the cell membrane of bacteria, in their study published in Scientific Reports.

With the discovery of Penicillin, the golden age of modern medicine has revolutionized extensively due to the natural occurrence and chemical synthesis of an array of newer antibiotics. However, for the past several decades, bacteria have developed genetic alteration and other mechanisms of drug resistance to several antibiotics despite the broad spectrum and bactericidal and bacteriostatic effects of antibiotics. Recently, the problem of multidrug resistance has been the utmost attention of microbiologists and pathologists to tackle with this dreadful condition by rediscovering more efficient drugs and antibiotics.

In a study by a team of researchers at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, the symbiotic effect of ampicillin with silver nanoparticles has been found to overcome drug resistance in six different strains of sensitive and resistant bacteria at much lower doses than with higher doses of either ampicillin or silver nanoparticles. The researchers tested the possibility of drug resistance of the bacteria to the combination of ampicillin and silver nanoparticles. These bacterial strains, however, did not develop drug resistance even up to 15 cycles of exposure to the new formulation rendering this combination quite effective against the drug resistance problem.

Ampicillin is a beta-lactam antibiotic, which contains a lactam moiety in its chemical structure similar to penicillin. Ampicillin is a derivative of penicillin, having an amino group at the benzyl carbon. These lactam antibiotics inhibit cell wall of Gram negative bacteria by interfering with peptidoglycan biosynthesis which is a structural component of the bacterial cell wall. Ampicillin in addition can act on Gram positive bacteria rendering it a broad spectrum antibiotic. However, this effect is intervened due to several mechanisms of drug resistance which may be naturally occurring in bacteria by evolution or by acquired resistance, which is caused by repeated exposure to the drug. In contrast, silver nanoparticles have emerged in the recent years to exert antibacterial activity. However, the resistance to the action of silver nanoparticles by bacteria has also become potentially harmful.

Dr. Meryam Sardar, head of the research team says, ‘The results of this study would be extended to more clinically pathogenic resistant strains. Also, modification of silver nanoparticles and other non-toxic nano-materials with different kinds of drugs would be standardized and their antimicrobial activity will be studied with superbugs which are resistant to most antibiotics,” in an interview with India Science Wire journalist.

The research team wants to extend their work to other pathogenic and clinical microbes that are drug-resistant to other types of antibiotics. Further, they also want to use more non-toxic materials for nanoformulation of silver nanoparticles.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a common hospital-acquired infection and similarly, other drug-resistant infections cause an alarming worldwide concern. The World Health Organization (WHO), based at Geneva, Switzerland, has classified antibiotic resistance as one of the major public health threats of the 21st century. This calls for serious and advanced therapeutic measures to be undertaken to overcome drug resistance, and this report of battling drug resistance can provide the fundamental basis to consider combination therapy as an effective remedy to solve this global issue.


38. Futuristic Virus Sensors in the Making

By Govind Pattila

Amidst the pandemic, it has been a game of chance when it comes to the risk of contracting viruses from public places. A recent review on biosensors to detect viruses and bacteria using advanced materials, by Japanese scientists, advances towards developing portable virus sensors. The research focusses on using materials that can change mechanical into electrical or magnetic energy, called piezoelectric or magnetostrictive materials respectively to detect the presence of viruses or bacteria. The review paper however discusses the golden opportunity for future material scientists to develop even more innovative improvements that can turn portable or wearable sensors into a reality. Fumio Narita the material engineer from Tohoku University, who is an author of the review says, "Scientists still need to develop more effective and reliable sensors for virus detection, with higher sensitivity and accuracy, smaller size and weight, and better affordability, before they can be used in home applications or smart clothing”. The materials used in current research use either a piezoelectric or magnetostrictive material. Antibodies are places attached to these materials through which electric signal or magnetic field is passed. This makes the sensor detect the presence of the virus or bacteria when the antibodies interact with them leading to a change in the mass and hence the signal. Narita says that artificial intelligence and simulation studies can help build better materials which are a lot more sensitive than piezoelectric and magnetostrictive materials in detecting pathogens and mainly viruses. In order to make it versatile enough to incorporate them in fabrics or buildings, they could even be made wireless, coil-less and soft when developing future materials for this purpose. The current sensors have been used to detect several viruses, including the cervical-cancer- causing human papilloma virus, HIV, influenza A, Ebola and hepatitis B. Some have also been used in detecting bacterial infections such as for typhoid and swine fever, and for detecting anthrax spores. Investigation to develop materials to detect the air presence of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, has been progressing recently. On speaking about the future of biosensor technology, Narita says, "This sort of virus sensor will become a reality with further developments in materials science and technological progress in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics". This kind of a sensor could be incorporated in public spaces like underground transport systems or airports for real time monitoring facilities. It can also be used on personal health technology to direct people away from dangerous places. "Research on improving the performance of virus sensors has not progressed much in recent years,” says Narita. "Our review aims to help young researchers and graduate students understand the latest progress to guide their future work for improving virus sensor sensitivity." The developments of the research were published as an Advanced Materials journal paper titled, “A Review of Piezoelectric and Magnetostrictive Biosensor Materials for Detection of COVID-19 and Other Viruses”. The publication was authored by F. Narita, Z. Wang, H. Kurita, Z. Li, Y. Shi, Y. Jia and C. Soutis.



39. Renowned Arecibo telescope to be decommisioned.

The US National Science Foundation orders dismantling of the observatory


By Hariprasad M

The Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico, which is famous for its contribution to science is

soon to meet its end. The US National Science Foundation has announced that the

dismantling of the observatory will soon take place, after two of the cables supporting the

dome of the telescope broke and damaged the reflecting dish of the telescope.


One of the world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope, the Arecibo telescope

constitutes a spherical reflector build into a natural depression like a huge dish. It has a

steerable receiver shaped like a dome which is hanging at the height of 150 m above the

reflecting surface of the dish. The receiver weighing about 900 thousand kilograms, is held

above the dish using 18 thick steel cables attached to 3 concrete towers. Each of the

towers has four main cables and auxiliary cables attached to the dome.


In August 2020 one of the auxiliary cables broke and fell onto the dish resulting in a 30 m

deep cut to the spherical dish. There was no concern regarding the safety of the dome

since it was an auxiliary cable.


Earlier this month, on November 6, one of the main cables broke from the dome and fell

on to the dish tearing a new hole in the dish and damaging nearby cables. Only 2 of these

cables is required to keep the dome afloat. But the fact that the observatory is more than

50 years old and the poor condition of the cables lead to the uncertainty about the future of

the observatory which would eventually result in the order for its dismantling.


According to an engineering firm hired by the University of Central Florida, which manages

the observatory for NSF stated, “that if an additional main cable fails, a catastrophic

collapse of the entire structure will soon follow.” The firm in its final report ruled out efforts

to repair the observatory and recommended a controlled demolition.


Speaking on the matter, Sean Jones, the assistant director of the Mathematical and

Physical Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation says, “NSF has

concluded that this recent damage to the 305-meter telescope cannot be addressed

without risking the lives and safety of work crews and staff, NSF has decided to begin the

process of planning for a controlled decommissioning of the telescope.”


The scientific community is in shock after hearing the news. Polish astronomer Alex

Wolszczan, who helped discover the first extrasolar planets and pulsar planets with the

help of Arecibo Observatory, said, “Losing it would be a really huge blow to what I think is

a very important science.”


The observatory has a long list of important discoveries under its belt. What gave it cult

status among the general public is a project named Search for the Extraterrestrial

intelligence (SETI) which aims at the search for extraterrestrial life or advanced

technologies. In 1974, a message called the Arecibo Message was sent into outer space in

the hope of communicating with the extraterrestrial Lifeforms.












40. First ever observed event of Nova is not actually Nova

By Harsha Jadhav.

First noted event of Nova is more energetic than estimated to be classified as Nova

You know the saying that visuals can be deceptive? Recently, International team of astronomers experienced this when they observed the CK- Velcapulae from GNIRS instrument and discovered that it is five times farther than previously reckoned. Study was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A program led by Dipankar Banarjee of PRL and other two scientists from US and UK, observed the whole Velcapulae nebula and light coming from CK Velcapulae including its edges. Observations revealed that event is much further and has emitted gas at higher speed than reported earlier.

As lead author and astronomer Banerjee explains, "We did not suspect that this is what we would find. It was exciting when we found some gas traveling at the unexpectedly high speed of about 7 million km/hour. This hinted at a different story about CK Vulpeculae than what had been theorized."

French monk Anthelme Voituret, in 1670 saw bright new flare in constellation Vulcapulae. Noted as first event of nova, it became bright as North star in few months and faded after a year. Nova is an astronomical event that causes sudden appearance of bright star, which eventually fades form view. There have been other attempts to solve the mystery of this event but to no avail.

The key to our discovery was the GNIRS measurements obtained at the outer edges of the nebula," elaborated Geballe. "The signature of redshifted and blueshifted iron atoms detected there shows that the nebula is expanding much more rapidly than previous observations had suggested." GNIRS is an infrared spectrograph. Its an instrument which splits light from astronomical objects into wavelengths and measures its speed along with other traits like radiation and chemical composition.


By measuring speed of expansion, how much the outer edges have moved in last 10 years and axial tilt of nebula, scientists determined that star lies approximately 10,000 light years away from Sun which is five times further away than previously estimated. This implies that the explosion observed in 1670 was much brighter than it appeared. It also suggested that event is 25 times more energetic than considered earlier. More energy indicates that the event which caused the appearance of CK Vulcapulae is too violent to be a simple Nova.

"It is difficult at this stage to offer a definitive or compelling explanation for the origin of the 1670 eruption of CK Vulpeculae," concluded Banerjee. "Even 350 years after Voituret's discovery, the nature of the explosion remains a mystery. "

Team proposed that the CK-Vulcapulae belongs to intermediate class of objects whose luminosity lies between Nova and Supernova. Visual appearance and high velocity of this event could help recognise similar astronomical events from past and might unravel other mysteries as well.

In terms of energy released, our finding places CK Vulpeculae roughly midway between a nova and a supernova," commented Evans. "It is one of a very few such objects in the Milky Way and the cause -- or causes -- of the outbursts of this intermediate class of objects remain unknown. I think we all know what CK Vulpeculae isn't, but no one knows what it is."

Source: https://www.eure!‹alert.ore/pub releases/2020-11/aou£-bIY1 12420.»ho

Research paper : httns://arxiv.ore/abs/2011.02939


41. Specific bacterium in the gut linked to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


By Harshada Pardeshi


Swedish researchers have found a link between Brachyspira, a genus of bacteria in the intestines and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as per a recent study. Although it is not yet confirmed, the study has arisen million hopes since it might lead to remedies for the suffering people.

"Unlike most other gut bacteria, Brachyspira is in direct contact with the cells and covers their surface. I was immensely surprised when we kept finding Brachyspira in more and more IBS patients, but not in healthy individuals," said Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar who is the leading researcher of the study.

The bacterium Brachyspira is pathogenic and is not usually a part of normal human gut flora. It hides under the mucus membrane covering the intestinal surface from pathogenic fecal bacteria. Researchers analyzed bacterial proteins in the mucus to analyze Brachyspira since it was difficult to analyze the bacterium from the fecal sample, a method used routinely to analyze gut flora.

"Many questions remain to be answered, but we are hopeful that we might have found a treatable cause of IBS in at least some patients," said Karolina Sjöberg Jabbar when asked about how helpful the study would be.

Approximately 5 to 10 percent of people have symptoms similar to IBS, globally. The symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain or constipation or alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. People with pronounced symptoms face deteriorated quality of life.

"The study suggests that the bacterium may be found in about a third of individuals with IBS. We want to see whether this can be confirmed in a larger study, and we're also going to investigate whether, and how, Brachyspira causes symptoms in IBS. Our findings may open up completely new opportunities for treating and perhaps even curing some IBS patients, especially those who have diarrhoea," says Magnus Simrén, Professor at the University of Gothenburg, where the study was conducted.

The study was conducted on colonic tissue samples from 62 patients with IBS and 31 healthy individuals. 19 out of the 62 patients had Brachyspira in their samples while the healthy individuals showed no trace of Brachyspira in their samples. Moreover, it was observed that Brachyspira was associated with the diarrhoeal form of IBS.

In a study carried out at pilot scale, it was found that treating IBS patients with antibiotics did not kill and eradicate the bacterium.

"Brachyspira seemed to be taking refuge inside the intestinal goblet cells, which secrete mucus. This appears to be a previously unknown way for bacteria to survive antibiotics, which could hopefully improve our understanding of other infections that are difficult to treat," Sjöberg Jabbar said.

Extensive studies must be conducted to confirm the connection between the bacterium and IBS. If the link is confirmed then various treatment strategies like probiotics, dietary changes, antibiotic regimen can be used in future. Other potential treatment options can also be developed to treat allergic symptoms caused due to gut inflammation in some cases of IBS.

Professor Gunnar C Hansson, world leading authority in research on the protective mucus layer in the intestines emphasized on the importance of free, independent basic research in association with healthcare which results in unexpected but important discoveries which benefit many patients.

The study was published in the journal Gut.


REF- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201125135140.htm


42. By Janhavi Manjule


श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता

॥ ॐ श्री परमात्मने नमः ॥


॥ अथ श्रीमद्भगवद्गीता ॥


अथ षष्ठोऽध्यायः । आत्मसंयमयोगः


श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

अनाश्रश्रतः कममफलं कायं कमम करोश्रत यः ।

स संन्यासी च योगी च न श्रनरश्रिनम चाक्रियः ॥ ६-१॥

यं संन्यासश्रमश्रत प्राहुयोगं तं श्रवश्रि पाण्डव ।

न ह्यसंन्यस्तसङ्कल्पो योगी भवश्रत कश्चन ॥ ६-२॥

आरुरुक्षोमुमनेयोगं कमम कारणमुच्यते ।

योगारूढस्य तस्यैव शमः कारणमुच्यते ॥ ६-३॥

यदा श्रि नेश्रन्ियाथेषु न कममस्वनुषज्जते ।

सवमसङ्कल्पसंन्यासी योगारूढस्तदोच्यते ॥ ६-४॥

उिरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् ।

आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो ्न्रुरात्मैव परपुरात्मनः ॥ ६-५॥

्न्रुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना श्रितः ।

अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वतेतात्मैव शत्रुवत् ॥ ६-६॥

श्रितात्मनः प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाश्रितः ।

शीतोष्णसुखदुःखेषु तथा मानापमानयोः ॥ ६-७॥

ज्ञानश्रवज्ञानतृप्तात्मा कू टस्थो श्रवश्रितेश्रन्ियः ।

युक्त इत्युच्यते योगी समलोष्टाश्मकाञ्चनः ॥ ६-८॥

सुहृश्रन्मत्रायुमदासीनमध्यस्थद्वेष्य्न्रुषु ।

सारुष्वश्रप च पापेषु सम्ुश्रिर्वमश्रशष्यते ॥ ६-९॥

योगी युञ्जीत सततमात्मानं रिश्रस श्रस्थतः ।

एकाकी यतश्रचत्तात्मा श्रनराशीरपपरग्रिः ॥ ६-१०॥

शुचौ देशे प्रश्रतष्ठाप्य श्रस्थरमासनमात्मनः ।

नात्युश्रच्ितं नाश्रतनीचं चैलाश्रिनकु शोत्तरम् ॥ ६-११॥


तत्रैकाग्रं मनः कृ त्वा यतश्रचत्तेश्रन्ियक्रियः ।

उपश्रवश्यासने युञ्ज्याद्योगमात्मश्रवशुिये ॥ ६-१२॥

समं कायश्रशरोग्रीवं रारयन्नचलं श्रस्थरः ।

सम्प्प्रेक्ष्य नाश्रसकाग्रं स्वं क्रदशश्चानवलोकयन् ॥ ६-१३॥

प्रशान्तात्मा श्रवगतभीर्ब्मह्मचापरव्रते श्रस्थतः ।

मनः संयम्प्य मश्रित्तो युक्त आसीत मत्परः ॥ ६-१४॥

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी श्रनयतमानसः ।

शानन्तं श्रनवामणपरमां मत्संस्थामश्ररगच्छश्रत ॥ ६-१५॥

नात्यश्नतस्तु योगोऽश्रस्त न चैकान्तमनश्नतः ।

न चाश्रतस्वप्नशीलस्य िाग्रतो नैव चािुमन ॥ ६-१६॥

युक्तािारश्रविारस्य युक्तचेष्टस्य कममसु ।

युक्तस्वप्नाव्ोरस्य योगो भवश्रत दुःखिा ॥ ६-१७॥

यदा श्रवश्रनयतं श्रचत्तमात्मन्येवावश्रतष्ठते ।

श्रनःस्पृिः सवमकामेभ्यो युक्त इत्युच्यते तदा ॥ ६-१८॥

यथा दीपो श्रनवातस्थो नेङ्गते सोपमा स्मृता ।

योश्रगनो यतश्रचत्तस्य युञ्जतो योगमात्मनः ॥ ६-१९॥

यत्रोपरमते श्रचत्तं श्रनरुिं योगसेवया ।

यत्र चैवात्मनात्मानं पश्यन्नात्मश्रन तुष्यश्रत ॥ ६-२०॥

सुखमात्यश्रन्तकं यत्तद् ्ुश्रिग्राह्यमतीश्रन्ियम् ।

वेश्रत्त यत्र न चैवायं श्रस्थतश्चलश्रत तत्त्वतः ॥ ६-२१॥

यं लब्धध्वा चापरं लाभं मन्यते नाश्ररकं ततः ।

यश्रस्मश्रन्स्थतो न दुःखेन गुरुणाश्रप श्रवचाल्यते ॥ ६-२२॥

तं श्रवद्याद् दुःखसंयोगश्रवयोगं योगसंश्रज्ञतम् ।

स श्रनश्चयेन योक्तव्यो योगोऽश्रनर्वमण्णचेतसा ॥ ६-२३॥

सङ्कल्पप्रभवान्कामांस्त्यक्तत्वा सवामनशेषतः ।

मनसैवेश्रन्ियग्रामं श्रवश्रनयम्प्य समन्ततः ॥ ६-२४॥


शनैः शनैरुपरमेद् ्ुद्धध्या रृश्रतगृिीतया ।

आत्मसंस्थं मनः कृ त्वा न क्रकश्रञ्चदश्रप श्रचन्तयेत् ॥ ६-२५॥

यतो यतो श्रनश्चरश्रत मनश्चञ्चलमश्रस्थरम् ।

ततस्ततो श्रनयम्प्यैतदात्मन्येव वशं नयेत् ॥ ६-२६॥

प्रशान्तमनसं ह्येनं योश्रगनं सुखमुत्तमम् ।

उपैश्रत शान्तरिसं र्ब्ह्मभूतमकल्मषम् ॥ ६-२७॥

युञ्जन्नेवं सदात्मानं योगी श्रवगतकल्मषः ।

सुखेन र्ब्ह्मसंस्पशममत्यन्तं सुखमश्नुते ॥ ६-२८॥

सवमभूतस्थमात्मानं सवमभूताश्रन चात्मश्रन ।

ईक्षते योगयुक्तात्मा सवमत्र समदशमनः ॥ ६-२९॥

यो मां पश्यश्रत सवमत्र सवं च मश्रय पश्यश्रत ।

तस्यािं न प्रणश्याश्रम स च मे न प्रणश्यश्रत ॥ ६-३०॥

सवमभूतश्रस्थतं यो मां भित्येकत्वमाश्रस्थतः ।

सवमथा वतममानोऽश्रप स योगी मश्रय वतमते ॥ ६-३१॥

आत्मौपम्प्येन सवमत्र समं पश्यश्रत योऽिुमन ।

सुखं वा यक्रद वा दुःखं स योगी परमो मतः ॥ ६-३२॥


अिुमन उवाच ।

योऽयं योगस्त्वया प्रोक्तः साम्प्येन मरुसूदन ।

एतस्यािं न पश्याश्रम चञ्चलत्वाश्रत्स्थनतं श्रस्थराम् ॥ ६-३३॥

चञ्चलं श्रि मनः कृ ष्ण प्रमाश्रथ ्लवद् दृढम् ।

तस्यािं श्रनग्रिं मन्ये वायोपरव सुदुष्करम् ॥ ६-३४॥

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

असंशयं मिा्ािो मनो दुर्नमग्रिं चलम् ।

अभ्यासेन तु कौन्तेय वैराग्येण च गृह्यते ॥ ६-३५॥

असंयतात्मना योगो दुष्प्राप इश्रत मे मश्रतः ।

वश्यात्मना तु यतता शक्तयोऽवाप्तुमुपायतः ॥ ६-३६॥


अिुमन उवाच ।

अयश्रतः श्रियोपेतो योगािश्रलतमानसः ।

अप्राप्य योगसंश्रसनिं कां गनतं कृ ष्ण गच्छश्रत ॥ ६-३७॥

कश्रिन्नोभयश्रवभ्रष्टश्रश्छन्नाभ्रश्रमव नश्यश्रत ।

अप्रश्रतष्ठो मिा्ािो श्रवमूढो र्ब्ह्मणः पश्रथ ॥ ६-३८॥

एतन्मे संशयं कृ ष्ण छेत्तुमिमस्यशेषतः ।

त्वदन्यः संशयस्यास्य छेत्ता न ह्युपपद्यते ॥ ६-३९॥

श्रीभगवानुवाच ।

पाथम नैवेि नामुत्र श्रवनाशस्तस्य श्रवद्यते ।

न श्रि कल्याणकृ त्कश्रश्चद् दुगमनतं तात गच्छश्रत ॥ ६-४०॥

प्राप्य पुण्यकृ तां लोकानुश्रषत्वा शाश्वतीः समाः ।

शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेिे योगभ्रष्टोऽश्रभिायते ॥ ६-४१॥

अथवा योश्रगनामेव कु ले भवश्रत रीमताम् ।

एतश्रि दुलमभतरं लोके िन्म यदीदृशम् ॥ ६-४२॥

तत्र तं ्ुश्रिसंयोगं लभते पौवमदेश्रिकम् ।

यतते च ततो भूयः संश्रसिौ कु रुनन्दन ॥ ६-४३॥

पूवामभ्यासेन तेनैव श्रियते ह्यवशोऽश्रप सः ।

श्रिज्ञासुरश्रप योगस्य शब्धदर्ब्ह्माश्रतवतमते ॥ ६-४४॥

प्रयत्नाद्यतमानस्तु योगी संशुिक्रकश्रल््षः ।

अनेकिन्मसंश्रसिस्ततो याश्रत परां गश्रतम् ॥ ६-४५॥

तपश्रस्वभ्योऽश्ररको योगी ज्ञाश्रनभ्योऽश्रप मतोऽश्ररकः ।

कर्ममभ्यश्चाश्ररको योगी तस्माद्योगी भवािुमन ॥ ६-४६॥

योश्रगनामश्रप सवेषां मद्गतेनान्तरात्मना ।

श्रिावान्भिते यो मां स मे युक्ततमो मतः ॥ ६-४७॥


ॐ तत्सक्रदश्रत श्रीमद्भगवद्गीतासूपश्रनषत्सु

र्ब्ह्मश्रवद्यायां योगशास्त्रे श्रीकृ ष्णािुमनसंवादे

आत्मसंयमयोगो नाम षष्ठोऽध्यायः ॥ ६॥


मराठी अथम


भगवान श्रीकृ ष्ण म्प्िणाले, िो पुरुष कममफळाचा आश्रय न घेता कतमव्य कमम करतो, तो

संन्यासी व योगी िोय. आश्रण के वळ अिीचा त्याग करणारा संन्यासी नव्िे; तसेच के वळ

क्रियांचा त्याग करणारा योगी नव्िे. ॥ ६-१ ॥

िे पांडवा (अथामत पांडुपुत्र अिुमना), ज्याला संन्यास असे म्प्िणतात, तोच योग आिे, असे तू

समि. कारण संकल्पांचा त्याग न करणारा कोणीिी पुरुष योगी िोत नािी. ॥ ६-२ ॥

योगावर आरूढ िोण्याची इच्छा करणाऱ्या मननशील पुरुषाला योगाची प्राप्ती िोण्यासाठी

श्रनष्काम कमम करणे िाच िेतू सांश्रगतला आिे आश्रण योगारूढ झाल्यावर त्या योगारूढ

पुरुषाचा िो सवम संकल्पांचा अभाव असतो, तोच कल्याणाला कारण सांश्रगतला आिे.॥६-३॥

ज्यावेळी इंक्रियांच्या भोगांत आश्रण कमामतिी पुरुष आसक्त िोत नािी, त्यावेळी सवम

संकल्पांचा त्याग करणाऱ्या पुरुषाला योगारूढ म्प्िटले िाते. ॥ ६-४ ॥

स्वतःच स्वतःचा संसारसमुिातून उिार करून घ्यावा आश्रण स्वतःला अरोगतीला िाऊ देऊ

नये. कारण िा मनुष्य स्वतःच स्वतःचा श्रमत्र आिे आश्रण स्वतःच स्वतःचा शत्रू आिे. ॥ ६-५॥

ज्या िीवात्म्प्याने मन व इंक्रियांसि शरीर निंकले, त्या िीवात्म्प्याचा तर तो स्वतःच श्रमत्र

आिे आश्रण ज्याने मन व इंक्रियांसि शरीर निंकले नािी, त्याचे तो स्वतःच शत्रूप्रमाणे शत्रुत्व

करतो. ॥ ६-६ ॥

थंड-उष्ण, सुख-दुःख इत्यादी तसेच मान-अपमान यांमध्ये ज्याच्या अंतःकरणाची वृत्ती

पूणमपणे शांत असते, अशा स्वारीन आत्मा असलेल्या पुरुषाच्या ज्ञानात सश्रिदानंदघन

परमात्मा उत्तमप्रकारे अश्ररश्रष्ठत असतो; म्प्िणिेच त्याच्या ज्ञानात परमात्म्प्याश्रशवाय दुसरे

कािी नसतेच. ॥ ६-७ ॥

ज्याचे अंतःकरण ज्ञान-श्रवज्ञानाने तृप्त आिे, ज्याची श्रस्थती श्रनर्वमकार आिे, ज्याने इंक्रिये

पूणमपणे निंकली आिेत आश्रण ज्याला दगड, माती व सोने समान आिे, तो योगी युक्त म्प्िणिे

भगवंताला प्राप्त झालेला आिे, असे म्प्िटले िाते. ॥ ६-८ ॥

सुहृद, श्रमत्र, शत्रू, उदासीन, मध्यस्थ, द्वेष करण्यािोगा, ्ांरव, सज्जन आश्रण पापी या

सवांश्रवषयी समान भाव ठेवणारा अत्यंत श्रेष्ठ आिे. ॥ ६-९ ॥

मन व इंक्रिय यांसि शरीर ताब्धयात ठेवणाऱ्या श्रनपरच्छ आश्रण संग्रि न करणाऱ्या योग्याने

एकट्यानेच एकांतात ्सून आत्म्प्याला नेिमी परमात्म्प्यात लावावे. ॥ ६-१० ॥


शुि िश्रमनीवर िमाने दभम, मृगाश्रिन आश्रण वस्त्र अंथरून तयार केलेले, िे फार उंच नािी व

िे फार सखल नािी, असे आपले आसन श्रस्थर मांडून ॥ ६-११ ॥

त्या आसनावर ्सून श्रचत्त व इंक्रिय यांच्या क्रिया ताब्धयात ठेवून मन एकाग्र करून

अंतःकरणाच्या शुिीसाठी योगाभ्यास करावा. ॥ ६-१२ ॥


शरीर, डोके आश्रण मान सरळ रेषेत अचल ठेवून श्रस्थर व्िावे. आपल्या नाकाच्या शेंड्यावर

दृष्टी ठेवून अन्य क्रदशांकडे न पािता ॥ ६-१३ ॥

र्ब्ह्मचयमव्रतात रािणाऱ्या श्रनभमय तसेच अत्यंत शांत अंतःकरण असणाऱ्या सावर योग्याने

मन आवरून श्रचत्त माझ्या पठकाणी लावून माझ्या आश्रयाने रािावे. ॥ ६-१४ ॥

मन ताब्धयात ठेवलेला योगी अशा प्रकारे आत्म्प्याला नेिमी मि परमेश्वराच्या स्वरूपाच्या

पठकाणी लावून माझ्यात असणारी परमानंदाची पराकाष्ठा अशी शांती श्रमळवतो. ॥ ६-१५ ॥

िे अिुमना, िा योग फार खाणाऱ्याला तसेच अश्रि्ात न खाणाऱ्याला, फार झोपाळूला तसेच

सदा िाग्रण करणाऱ्याला साध्य िोत नािी. ॥ ६-१६ ॥

दुःखांचा नाश करणारा योग यथायोग्य आिार-श्रविार करणाऱ्याला, कमांमध्ये यथायोग्य

व्यविार करणाऱ्याला आश्रण यथायोग्य श्रनिा-िाग्रण करणाऱ्याला साध्य िोतो. ॥ ६-१७ ॥


पूणमपणे ताब्धयात आणलेले श्रचत्त िेव्िा परमात्म्प्यात पूणमपणे श्रस्थर िोते, तेव्िा सवम भोगांची

इच्छा नािीशी झालेला पुरुष योगयुक्त म्प्िटला िातो. ॥ ६-१८ ॥

ज्याप्रमाणे वारा नसलेल्या िागी क्रदव्याची ज्योत िलत नािी, तीच उपमा परमात्म्प्याच्या

ध्यानात मि झालेल्या योग्याच्या निंकलेल्या श्रचत्ताला क्रदली गेली आिे. ॥ ६-१९ ॥


योगाच्या अभ्यासाने श्रनयमन के लेले श्रचत्त ज्या श्रस्थतीत शांत िोते आश्रण ज्या श्रस्थतीत

परमात्म्प्याच्या ध्यानाने शुि झालेल्या सूक्ष्म ्ुिीने परमात्म्प्याचा साक्षात्कार िोऊन

सश्रिदानंदघन परमात्म्प्यातच संतुष्ट रािाते ॥ ६-२० ॥

इंक्रियातीत, के वळ शुि झालेल्या सूक्ष्म ्ुिीने ग्रिण करता येणारा िो अनंत आनंद आिे, तो

ज्या अवस्थेत अनुभवाला येतो आश्रण ज्या अवस्थेत असलेला िा योगी परमात्म्प्याच्या

स्वरूपापासून मुळीच श्रवचश्रलत िोत नािी ॥ ६-२१ ॥


परमात्मप्राश्रप्तरूप िो लाभ झाल्यामुळे त्याहून अश्ररक दुसरा कोणतािी लाभ तो मानीत

नािी; आश्रण परमात्मप्राश्रप्तरूप ज्या अवस्थेत असलेला योगी फार मोठ्या दुःखानेिी

श्रवचश्रलत िोत नािी ॥ ६-२२ ॥

िो दुःखरूप संसाराच्या संयोगाने रश्रित आिे, तसेच ज्याचे नाव योग आिे, तो िाणला

पाश्रििे. तो योग न कंटाळता अथामत रैयम व उत्साि यांनी युक्त श्रचत्ताने श्रनश्चयाने के ला

पाश्रििे. ॥ ६-२३ ॥

संकल्पाने उत्पन्न िोणाऱ्या सवम कामना पूणमपणे टाकू न आश्रण मनानेच इंक्रियसमुदायाला सवम

्ािूंनी पूणमतया आवरून ॥ ६-२४ ॥

िमािमाने अभ्यास करीत उपरत व्िावे; तसेच रैयमयुक्त ्ुिीने मनाला परमात्म्प्यात श्रस्थर

करून दुसऱ्या कशाचािी श्रवचारिी करू नये. ॥ ६-२५ ॥


िे श्रस्थर न रािणारे चंचल मन ज्या ज्या शब्धदादी श्रवषयांच्या श्रनश्रमत्ताने संसारात भरकटत

असते, त्या त्या श्रवषयांपासून त्याला आवरून वारंवार परमात्म्प्यात श्रस्थर करावे. ॥ ६-२६ ॥

कारण ज्याचे मन पूणम शांत आिे, िो पापरश्रित आिे आश्रण ज्याचा रिोगुण शांत झालेला

आिे, अशा या सश्रिदानंदघन र्ब्ह्माशी ऐक्तय पावलेल्या योग्याला उत्तम आनंद श्रमळतो. ॥ ६-

२७ ॥


तो श्रनष्पाप योगी अशा प्रकारे सतत आत्म्प्याला परमात्म्प्याशी िोडून सििपणे परर्ब्ह्म

परमात्म्प्याच्या प्राप्तीच्या अपार आनंदाचा अनुभव घेतो. ॥ ६-२८ ॥

ज्याचा आत्मा सवमव्यापी अनंत चैतन्यात ऐक्तयश्रस्थश्रतरूप योगाने युक्त असून िो सवांना

समभावाने पािणारा आिे, असा योगी आत्मा सवम सिीवमात्रात श्रस्थत व सिीवमात्र

आत्म्प्यात कश्रल्पलेले पािातो. ॥ ६-२९ ॥

िो पुरुष सवम सिीवांमध्ये सवांचा आत्मा असलेल्या मला वासुदेवालाच व्यापक असलेला

पाितो आश्रण सवम सिीवांना मि वासुदेवात पाितो, त्याला मी अदृश्य असत नािी आश्रण

मला तो अदृश्य असत नािी. ॥ ६-३० ॥


िो पुरुष ऐक्तयभावाला प्राप्त िोऊन सवम सिीवमात्रात आत्मरूपाने असलेल्या मला

सश्रिदानंदघन वासुदेवाला भितो, तो योगी सवम प्रकारचे व्यविार करत असला तरी त्याचे

सवम व्यविार माझ्यातच िोत असतात. ॥ ६-३१ ॥

िे अिुमना, िो योगी आपल्याप्रमाणे सवम सिीवमात्रांना समभावाने पाितो, तसेच सवांमध्ये

सुख ककं वा दुःख समदृष्टीने पाितो, तो योगी अत्यंत श्रेष्ठ मानला गेला आिे. ॥ ६-३२ ॥

अिुमन म्प्िणाला, िे मरुसूदना (श्रीकृ ष्णा), िो िा समभावाचा योग तुम्प्िी सांश्रगतलात, तो

मन चंचल असल्यामुळे श्रनत्य श्रस्थर रािील, असे मला वाटत नािी. ॥ ६-३३ ॥


कारण िे श्रीकृ ष्णा, िे मन मोठे चंचल, क्षोभश्रवणारे, मोठे दृढ आश्रण ्लवान आिे. त्यामुळे

त्याला वश करणे मी वाऱ्याला अडश्रवण्याप्रमाणेच अत्यंत कठीण समितो. ॥ ६-३४ ॥

भगवान श्रीकृ ष्ण म्प्िणाले, िे मिा्ािो अिुमना, मन चंचल आश्रण आवरण्यास कठीण आिे,

यात शंका नािी. परंतु िे कुं तीपुत्र अिुमना, िे मन अभ्यासाने आश्रण वैराग्याने ताब्धयात येते. ॥

६-३५ ॥

ज्याने मनावर ता्ा श्रमळश्रवला नािी अशा पुरुषाला योग सारणे कठीण आिे आश्रण ज्याने

मन ताब्धयात ठेवले आिे अशा प्रयत्नीशील पुरुषाला सारनेने तो प्राप्त िोणे शक्तय आिे, असे

माझे मत आिे. ॥ ६-३६ ॥


अिुमन म्प्िणाला, िे श्रीकृ ष्णा, िो योगावर श्रिा ठेवणारा आिे; परंतु संयमी नसल्यामुळे

ज्याचे मन अंतकाळी योगापासून श्रवचश्रलत झाले, असा सारक योगश्रसिीला म्प्िणिे

भगवत्साक्षात्काराला प्राप्त न िोता कोणत्या गतीला िातो? ॥ ६-३७ ॥

िे मिा्ािो श्रीकृ ष्णा, भगवत्प्राप्तीच्या मागामत मोश्रित झालेला व आश्रयरश्रित असलेला

पुरुष श्रछन्न-श्रवश्रच्छन्न ढगाप्रमाणे दोन्िीकडून भ्रष्ट िोऊन नाश तर नािी ना पावत? ॥ ६-३८

िे श्रीकृ ष्णा, िा माझा संशय तुम्प्िीच पूणमपणे नािीसा करू शकाल. कारण तुमच्याश्रशवाय

दुसरा कोणी िा संशय दूर करणारा श्रमळण्याचा संभव नािी. ॥ ६-३९ ॥

भगवान श्रीकृ ष्ण म्प्िणाले, िे पाथाम (अथामत पृथापुत्र अिुमना), त्या पुरुषाचा इिलोकातिी

नाश िोत नािी व परलोकातिी नािी. कारण ्ा्ा रे, आत्मोिारासाठी अथामत

भगवत्प्राप्तीसाठी कमम करणारा कोणतािी पुरुष अरोगतीला िात नािी. ॥ ६-४० ॥


योगभ्रष्ट पुरुष पुण्यवानांना श्रमळणाऱ्या लोकांना अथामत स्वगामदी उत्तम लोकांना िाऊन तेथे

पुष्कळ वषे राहून नंतर शुि आचरण असणाऱ्या श्रीमंतांच्या घरात िन्म घेतो. ॥ ६-४१ ॥


ककं वा वैराग्यशील पुरुष त्या लोकांत न िाता ज्ञानी योग्यांच्या कु ळात िन्म घेतो. परंतु या

प्रकारचा िो िा िन्म आिे, तो या िगात श्रनःसंशयपणे अत्यंत दुर्ममळ आिे. ॥ ६-४२ ॥

तेथे त्या पश्रिल्या शरीरात संग्रि के लेल्या ्ुश्रिसंयोगाला म्प्िणिे समत्व्ुश्रिरूप योगाच्या

संस्कारांना अनायासे प्राप्त िोतो आश्रण िे कु रुवंशीय अिुमना, त्याच्या प्रभावाने तो पुन्िा

परमात्मप्राश्रप्तरूप श्रसिीसाठी पूवीपेक्षािी अश्ररक प्रयत्नअ करतो. ॥ ६-४३ ॥

तो श्रीमंतांच्या घरात िन्म घेणारा योगभ्रष्ट परारीन असला तरी त्या पश्रिल्या िन्मीच्या

अभ्यासामुळेच श्रनःसंशयपणे भगवंतांकडे आकर्षमला िातो. तसेच सम्ुश्रिरूप योगाचा

श्रिज्ञासूदेखील वेदाने सांश्रगतलेल्या सकाम कमांच्या फळांना ओलांडून िातो. ॥ ६-४४ ॥

परंतु प्रयत्नपूवमक अभ्यास करणारा योगी तर मागील अनेक िन्मांच्या संस्कारांच्या िोरावर

याच िन्मात पूणम श्रसिी श्रमळवून सवम पापांपासून मुक्त िोऊन तत्काळ परमगतीला प्राप्त

िोतो. ॥ ६-४५ ॥

तपस्वी लोकांपेक्षा योगी श्रेष्ठ आिे. शास्त्रज्ञानी पुरुषांपेक्षा सुिा श्रेष्ठ मानला गेला आिे.

आश्रण सकाम कमे करणाऱ्या माणसांपेक्षा सुिा योगी श्रेष्ठ आिे. म्प्िणून िे अिुमना, तू योगी

िो. ॥ ६-४६ ॥

सवम योग्यांच्यामध्ये सुिा िो श्रिावान योगी माझ्या पठकाणी लावलेल्या अंतरात्म्प्याने मला

श्रनरंतर भितो, तो योगी मला परमश्रेष्ठ म्प्िणून मान्य आिे. ॥ ६-४७ ॥


श्री सद्धगुरू रार्ममक यात्रा कं पनी,

कवेनगर, पुणे

८९८३१९४१५४ / ९७६७११८८०४



43. Curiosity rover discovers tell-tale signs of Martian megafloods

Megafloods also point to the possibility that the red planet once harboured

microbial life

By Julie Jacob

American scientists have recently discovered that the Gale Crater, situated on Mars’ equator, was the site of raging megafloods, using data from NASA’s Curiosity rover. "We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity," said Alberto G. Fairén, a visiting astrobiologist at the College of Arts and Sciences, and co-author of the research. "Deposits left behind by megafloods had not been previously identified with orbiter data."

Water and wind play a vital role in the geographical makeup of a planet. Their activities leave behind signatures in the form of geographical and topological structures, which in this case have remained frozen on the Martian surface for about four billion years.

These geographical signatures can then be reverse-engineered to tell the story of the processes that may have occurred on the Martian surface. The ripples found in the Gale Crater are geologic structures that are tell-tale signs of floods similar to that found on the Earth’s surface.

"Early Mars was an extremely active planet from a geological point of view," Fairén said.

According to the findings, there are giant wave-like features in the sedimentary layers of the Gale Crater, called antidunes. These are about 30 feet high and separated by around 450 feet. The antidunes are indicative of flowing megafloods at the bottom of the Gale Crater, which are identical to the topology observed on Earth due to melting of ice about 2 million years ago, according to Ezat Heydari, a professor of physics at Jackson State University, who was the lead author of the research.

The megafloods were likely caused by the heat from a large meteorite impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet’s ice reservoirs. The combination of water vapour and release of gases likely produced a short period of warm, wet conditions on Mars.


Then, water vapour clouds were formed by condensation, which in turn led to torrential rains, possibly all over the planet. That water then entered the Gale Crater and combined with the water flowing from the crater’s Mount Sharp to produce humongous flash floods. These floods may have also resulted in the ridge-and-trough band formations in the Striated Unit and deposited the gravel

ridges in the Hummocky Plains Unit. The findings also lead to the question of whether the red planet carried life at one point.

"The planet had the conditions needed to support the presence of liquid water on the surface—and on Earth, where there's water, there's life”. "So early Mars was a habitable planet," he said. "Was it inhabited? That's a question that the next rover Perseverance ... will help to answer."

The Curiosity rover science team has already discovered that Gale Crater once had streams as well as lakes in its ancient past. The frequent occurrences of bodies of water throughout the red planet’s history are positive signs that the crater, and Mount Sharp, may have had the necessary conditions to support microbial life. The researched was conducted by scientists from Jackson State University, University of Hawaii, Cornell University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Fairén and Heydari published the paper titled "Deposits from Giant Floods in Gale Crater and Their Implications for the Climate of Early Mars" on November 5 in the journal Scientific Reports.

44. Oldest Known Nano-Structures Discovered In Ancient Artifacts In Tamil Nadu

By Kaladevi S

Scientists have discovered the oldest known human-made nano-materials in the ‘unique black coatings’ of ancient pottery shards - dated to 600 BC - unearthed from an archeological site in Keeladi, Tamil Nadu. The research, published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, revealed that these coatings are made of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) which have enabled the layer to last

more than 2600 years, raising questions on the tools used during those periods to achieve high temperatures for making earthenwares.

According to the scientists, including those from Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) in Tamil Nadu, the coatings are the oldest nano-structures observed till now. "Until this discovery, to our knowledge, the most ancient known nanostructures in human-made artifacts are from the eighth or ninth century AD," study co-author Vijayanand Chandrasekaran from Vellore Institute of

Technology told news agency Press Trust of India. Carbon Nanotubes are tubular structures of carbon atoms arranged in an ordered manner, Mr Chandrasekaran said, adding that coatings in ancient artifacts may not usually last this long due to wear and tear caused by changing

conditions. "But the robust mechanical properties of the CNT based coating has helped the layer sustain more than 2600 years," he added. Carbon nanotubes have superlative properties, including high thermal and electrical conductivity, and very high mechanical strength, explained nano-material scientist MM Shaijumon from IISER Thiruvananthapuram. "But the people of this time may not have intentionally added CNTs, instead, during the processing at high temperatures, these would have just formed accidentally," Shaijumon told news agency PTI. "If there is some processing of the potteries, which probably would have involved some high-temperature treatment, then it will add more justification to the findings," he added. According to Mr Chandrasekaran, the closest scientific explanation for the finding is that some "vegetal fluid or extract" might have been used in the coatings of these pots which may have led to the formation of CNTs during high- temperature processing. Rajavelu S, Professor of History at Alagappa


University in Tamil Nadu, told news agency PTI that the people of this time may have added or coated something similar to plant-sap to the inside of the pots, and subject it to the nearly 1100-1400 degree Celsius high-temperature fire treatment as seen in kilns. "This fire treatment may have led to the formation of the coating which has likely strengthened the pot and made the coating durable," Mr Rajavelu said.

"Normally with high-temperature processing of carbon, they form these type of tubular nano-structures, but until about the 1990s there were no sophisticated instruments available to characterise them. So these structures are already even present in nature and only now we are observing them," explained Mr Shaijumon. Scientists are in awe on observing nanostructures in these age old artefacts in Tamilnadu. They are up to a more detailed study on it.

45. US Scientists found stellar merging event in mysterious Blue Ring Nebula

By Kartik Gokhe


A team of scientists with Princeton university fellow, investigated the mysterious Blue Ring Nebula, composed of rapidly expanding hydrogen gas from a central star, which is the remnant core of a

stellar merger, published in Nature. Blue Ring Nebula, a large nebulous blob spotted by scientists using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer in 2004, looks blue in ultraviolet wavelength (invisible to human eye), seemed to have a star at its centre. From 16 years, scientists studied it using Earth and space telescopes and they found quite rare facts about behaviour of central

star.

"We were in the middle of observing one night, with a new spectrograph that we had recently built, when we received a message from our colleagues about a peculiar object composed of a nebulous gas expanding rapidly away from a central star. How did it form? What are the properties of the central star? We were immediately excited to help solve the mystery!", said Guðmundur Stefánsson, Henry Norris Russell Postdoctoral Fellow in astrophysical sciences at Princeton University.

At some point, a stellar merging event happens between a pair of star- system orbiting each other known as binary star system, if they are close enough. During this phenomenon, one of the evolved star can engulf its orbiting companion star, which force the companion to spiral inward until the two stars collide. It will eject debris away at high speeds as the companion loses its orbital energy, to form an accretion disk, which can explain the mysterious Blue Ring Nebula.


"The spectroscopic observations were key in allowing us to understand the object further, from which we see that the central star is inflated, and we see signatures of accretion likely from a

surrounding disk of debris," Stefánsson said. Therefore, the team observed the nebula with two different spectrographs on large ground telescopes: the HIRES optical spectrograph on the 10-meter Keck Telescope on top of Mauna kea in Hawaii, and the near-infrared Habitable-zone Planet Finder on the 10- meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas, a

new near-infrared spectrograph that Stefánsson helped design, build and commission to detect exoplanets around nearby stars. "Indeed, the spectroscopic data coupled with theoretical modelling shows that the Blue Ring Nebula is consistent with the picture of a merging binary star system, suggesting that the inwards spiralling companion was likely a low-mass star," said Keri Hoadley, a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech and lead author of the published paper.

Although in most cases of binary merging events observed before, all such objects have been surrounded by opaque dust and clouds which obstructed the view of the central stellar remnant. The Blue Ring Nebula is the only object allowing an unobstructed view of the central

stellar remnant, helping to study the properties to solve this mystery. "The Blue Ring Nebula is rare," said Hoadley. "As such, it is really exciting that we were able to find it, and we are excited about the possibility of finding more such objects in the future. If so, that would allow us to gain further insights into the remnants of stellar mergers and the processes that govern them."

"A blue ring nebula from a stellar merger several thousand years old," by Keri Hoadley, Christopher Martin, Brian Metzger, Mark Seibert, Andrew McWilliam, Ken Shen, James Neill, Guðmundur Stefánsson, Andrew Monson and Bradley Schaefer, appears in the Nov. 19 issue

of Nature (DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2893-5). This research was supported by Princeton University, Caltech, the Pennsylvania State University, the Eberly College of Science and the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium.

46. ACCLAMATIZATION TO CLIMATE CHANGES: A NEW TREND IN TREES

Autumn leaf shedding at the end of growing season is an adaptation to climate changes

By Kashmira Lad

Since a decade, scientists have believed that shedding of leaves from temperate region is

delayed because of global warming. But a new study indicate something different—European

trees shed leaves sooner in response to climate change.

The availability and storage capacity of carbon of plants is limiting factor for plant growth. A

general assumption is that warm climate allows plants to fix more atmospheric carbon and

thus can persist longer in adverse conditions. However, earlier observations show that leaves

stay on trees because of global warming. This trend was observed for a decade, which seems

to getting changed. A new trend is that trees shed of their leaves to increase their productivity

in autumn. The model built by the researchers forecasted the possibility of slight advances,

instead of delays, in autumn leaf-dropping dates over the rest of the century.

"Accounting for this effect improved the accuracy of senescence predictions by 27 to 42 per

cent and reversed future predictions from a previously expected 2- to 3-week delay over the

rest of the century to an advance of three to six days," according to the scientists. This trend

has been observed in dominant species of European trees selected over a range from 1948 to

2015 by a team of researchers. They designed experiments to modify carbon uptake by trees,

followed by its impact on shedding of leaves.

Researchers used a combination of approaches such as observational, modelling, and last but

not least, experimental approach. Their results showed that in summer and spring,

productivity is increased because of high levels of carbon di oxide, temperature, and light.

“This is likely because roots and wood cease to use or store leaf-captured carbon at a point,

making leaves costly to keep,” according to the researchers.

The results “substantially lower our expectations of the extent to which longer growing

seasons will increase seasonal carbon uptake in forests,” the researchers write. They believe

that these findings can be implemented in other model trees also.

The researchers concluded that “leaf senescence will advance by 3 to 6 days by the end of the

21st century rather than lengthening by 1 to 3 weeks as current phenological models have

predicted. In turn, this predicted phenological pattern will limit the capacity of temperate

forests to mitigate climate change through carbon uptake”.

The researchers added that “the universality of this pattern in other forest types remains

unknown”. This study has been published in the well-known journal Science.

47. Indian Prime Minister reviewed preparedness for Covid-19 vaccination

By Kiran Dilip Badave



Press Release Link:

(https://www.pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1674593)


Indian Prime Minister reviewed preparedness for Covid-19 vaccination

• Five vaccines in the developmental stage

• Database for priority groups is in advance stage

• Timebound plan has set up for the regulatory process

• South Korea, Switzerland, Austria, Bhutan Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Qatar

are interested to be a co-partner


Hon. Shri Narendra Modi, Indian Prime Minister reviewed the preparedness for Covid-19 vaccination. Panning and facilities developed for the availability of the vaccine, its distribution, and vaccination planning is discussed. The meeting was held in presence of the Principal Scientific Advisor, DG of ICMR Health Secretary. PMO officers, Principal Secretary to PM, Cabinet Secretary, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, and Secretaries of related departments of the Indian

government.

In his talk, he stated that “we are keeping close eye on vaccine development across the world and government ensure that vaccine manufactured will pass all the scientific tests” Prime minister acknowledged the efforts are taken by the innovators for vaccine development belonging to pharmaceutical companies, scientists, academicians.

The increase in corona cases is a serious concern. RT-PCR lowered testing brings down the positivity rate to less than 5 percent. There is a rapid increase in coronavirus infections by 45,882 on the last day. Till now 84.28 lakh patients recovered across the country with a high recovery rate of 93.6 percent. The prime minister further added to bring seriousness “Vaccine in its place, we cannot become lax in our fight against the pandemic,”.


In India there are five vaccines are in the higher state for getting qualified for vaccination. Four vaccines are in the stage of II/III while one in the stage of I/II. Foreign countries such as South Korea, Switzerland, Austria, Bhutan Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Qatar are interested to be co-partner in the manufacturing of vaccines and their use. The Prime minister urged national and

international organizations to work collaboratively to research along with the manufacturing of global standard vaccines.

Prime minister in his talk further extends that the time-bound plan has to be set up for speedy regulatory clearance measures and rollout vaccine for vaccination drive as early as possible. PMO stated “As the results of these Phase III trials from national and international vaccines arrive, our robust and independent regulators will speedily and rigorously examine these for according

authorization for use.” PMO further added that The Indian government is committed to vaccinating each individual in India.

The government of India provided 900 crores for Covid Suraksha Mission which helps in research and development. Database preparation of healthcare and frontline workers will get the first priority in vaccination is at a high level. Cold chain facility for storage and transport of vaccine, acquirement of syringe and needles is also in an advanced stage.

In the first phase, the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration, set up by the Government of India and state governments relevant stakeholders accelerated the efforts for Covid-19 vaccination in priority groups. Medical and nursing students and faculty training for the vaccination program. Steps will be taken that the vaccine can reach all the places in the country. Stakeholders from across the country are working in the digital platform for vaccine distribution and administration, trail runs are also taken place.

The Prime minister appreciated the efforts taken for vaccine development. Use of mask. Keeping safe distance and maintaining hygiene are the ultimate solutions in this pandemic situation. Prime minister Modi on his Twitter account tweeted the meeting providing point of discussion is the progress of vaccine development, regulatory approval situation, and future initiatives.



48. Mystery revealed: How the brain forms sensory memories

By Kishor Waghmare


https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201116092246.htm


Mystery revealed: How the brain forms sensory memories

As per the recent study a region of the thalamus as a key source of signals encoding past

experiences in the neocortex which encodes information collected by our senses.

In the latest issue of Science, a team of scientists led by Dr. Johannes Letzkus, Research Group

Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research, Germany has identified the thalamic

inputs to sensory neocortex as a key source of information about the past experiences.

To perceive our environment and to constructively interact with it, these sensory signals need

to be interpreted in the context of our previous experiences and current aims. The neocortex is

the largest area of the human brain. It has expanded and differentiated enormously during

mammalian evolution, and is thought to mediate many of the capacities that distinguish humans


from their closest relatives.Moreover, dysfunctions of this area also play a central role in many psychiatric disorders. All

higher cognitive functions of the neocortex are enabled by bringing together two distinct

streams of information: a 'bottom-up' stream carrying signals from the surrounding

environment, and a 'top-down' stream that transmits internally-generated information encoding

our previous experiences and current aims.

"Decades of investigation have elucidated how sensory inputs from the environment are

processed. However, our knowledge of internally-generated information is still in its infancy.

This is one of the biggest gaps in our understanding of higher brain functions like sensory

perception," says Letzkus.

"Previous work by us and many other scientists had suggested that the top-most layer of

neocortex is likely a key site that receives inputs carrying top-down information. Taking this

as a starting point allowed us to identify a region of the thalamus a brain area embedded deep

within the forebrain as a key candidate source of such internal information."

Motivated by these observations Dr. M. Belén Pardi, the first author of the study and

postdoctoral researcher in the Letzkus lab, devised an innovative approach that enabled her to

measure the responses of single thalamic synapses in mouse neocortex before and after a

learning paradigm. "The results were very clear," Pardi remembers. "Whereas neutral stimuli

without relevance were encoded by small and transient responses in this pathway, learning

strongly boosted their activity and made the signals both faster and more sustained over time."

This suggests that the thalamic synapses in neocortex encode the previous experience of the

animal. "We were really convinced that this is the case when we compared the strength of the

acquired memory with the change in thalamic activity: This revealed a strong positive

correlation, indicating that inputs from the thalamus prominently encode the learned behavioral

relevance of stimuli," says Letzkus.


The way these signals are received in the neocortex must be tightly regulated. Pardi and co-

workers addressed this in further experiments, combined with computational modeling in


collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Henning Sprekeler and his team at Technische

Universität Berlin. The results indeed identified a previously unknown mechanism that can


finely tune the information along this pathway, identifying a specialized type of neuron in the

top-most layer of neocortex as a dynamic gatekeeper of these top-down signals.

"These results reveal the thalamic inputs to sensory neocortex as a key source of information

about the past experiences that have been associated with sensory stimuli. Such top-down

signals are perturbed in a number of brain disorders like autism and schizophrenia, and our

hope is that the present findings will also enable a deeper understanding of the maladaptive

changes that underlie these severe conditions," concludes Letzkus.



49. TREE RINGS TELL STORIES OF SUPERNOVAS


By Krishna Belraj Menon


A supernova is a powerful explosion that occurs during a star’s last stages of life. A single

supernova can release as much energy as the sun will during its entire lifetime. They are one

of the most violent events known to occur and send out radiation for years. Recently, a

scientist from the US discovered that tree rings may contain clues to these stellar blasts.

Supernovas release massive amounts of energy and send out high energy gamma rays for

years. Such an explosion near the Earth could wipe out all life. Even from a distance they

could have lasting effects on our planet. It would damage our ozone layer and expose us to

harmful radiations. Robert Brakenridge, from the University of Colorado Boulder studied the

presence of the radioactive carbon isotope C-14 in ancient tree ring records.

The C-14 isotope is only found in trace amounts on the Earth. It is formed when cosmic rays

interact with the planet’s atmosphere. "There's generally a steady amount year after year,"

Brakenridge said. "Trees pick up carbon dioxide and some of that carbon will be

radiocarbon."

Scientists have found that sometimes the level of this isotope inside tree rings spikes. There

was no terrestrial explanation for it. It was hypothesized that these spikes could be due to

solar flares and storms. But Brakenridge and other researchers believed there was another

explanation.

"We're seeing terrestrial events that are begging for an explanation," Brakenridge said.

"There are really only two possibilities: A solar flare or a supernova. I think the supernova

hypothesis has been dismissed too quickly."

To test this theory, he compared the record of C-14 spikes in tree rings with a list of known

supernovas in the last 40,000 years. He found out that 8 nearby supernovas in the last 40

millennia could explain the surge in C-14 levels. These could dated by studying the remains

of the stars called nebulas. Four of these are a perfect match. One example is a former star

in the Vela constellation that was situated about 815 light years away from the Earth. It

went supernova roughly thirteen thousand years ago and not long after, the C-14 levels on

earth jumped up by nearly 3%!

The research is still inconclusive, as scientists can only accurately date past supernovas

within errors of 1500 years. It is also unclear what effect these supernovas have had on life

at the time. But Brakenridge believes that the question is worth a lot more research.

"What keeps me going is when I look at the terrestrial record and I say, 'My God, the

predicted and modelled effects do appear to be there.’”

Brakenridge hopes we won’t have to witness the effects of supernovas on our planet

anytime soon. Some scientists think that a star – Betelguese – in the nearby Orion

constellation is showing signs of going supernova. "We can hope that's not what's about to

happen because Betelgeuse is really close," he said.


The results, published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, do not imply that solar

flares are not a probable explanation but that supernovas are also viable justifications that

requires more studies. It shows that everything in the universe is connected to one another.

50. Five new species of vine snakes is discovered by IISc scientists

By Kunal Kumar


Lead: Scientists from Indian institute of Science Bangalore discovered a 5 new species

of vine snakes .

Vine snakes are among the most common snakes in peninsular India, found even in

Many peri-urban areas wherever there is some greenery. This species was believed to be

widespread throughout the drier parts of the peninsula as well as in the Western Ghats.

New research shows that this species actually comprises several different species.

Based on extensive sampling across peninsular India, a team of researchers from the Centre for

Ecological Sciences (CES), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have now described several

New species of vine snakes from the region.


“All the vine snakes were assigned names related to the locality or based on a

Morphological character, but we named the species Ahaetulla farnsworthi after my favourite mad

Scientist who inspired me to become one, Dr. Hubert Farnsworth from [the cartoon] Futurama. In

fact, the snake also looks a lot like him,” says Achyuthan Srikanthan, a researcher at

CES who was part of the team.

The team also delineated the Travancore vine snake (Ahaetulla travancorica), separated

By morphology and a geographic barrier from the Gunther’s vine snake (Ahaetulla dispar).

Finally, they recognised morphological distinctions between the brown vine snake in the

Western Ghats and the one found in Sri Lanka, and gave the Western Ghats form a new

name (Ahaetulla sahyadrensis). There are now six species of vine snakes endemic to the

Western Ghats.

Mallik says, “Widely distributed species may comprise many cryptic species, which can only

be detected by genetic analysis. Our earlier discovery of another deeply divergent vinesnake

Proahaetulla antiqua suggests that the entire lineage of vine snakes (Ahaetulla)

evolved around 26 million years ago during the mid-Oligocene from its sister

groupProahaetulla.”

The study, published in the journal Zootaxa, was carried out in collaboration with

researchers SR Ganesh from the Chennai Snake Park.

Led by former student Ashok Mallik as part of his doctoral research, the team carried out


field visits across India to collect morphological data, tissue samples and specimens to

understand the patterns of distribution and diversification of vine snakes.



51. Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind!

By Madhura Mulye




Mental health was the most ignorant aspect of the human life. But over the past few years the awareness about mental well-being has increased. Mental health problems are like any other physical problems which can be cured. Researchers all around the world are trying to deal with such issues scientifically and throwing light on dimensions of mental well-being. Interestingly scientists are suggesting that our "moods" might be the cause of literally what our "gut" is feeling.

Our gut is home for many good and sometimes for bad bacteria. The variety of bacteria present in our gut are collectively called as gut-microbiome. Now, in a recently published research, Korean scientists have revealed that there can be a relationship between our mood and diversity of gut microbiome.

In this study, conducted at Seoul, South Korea, total 561 Korean citizens were selected randomly and their gut microbiome was obtained from stool samples. Also emotional health and clinical health of these participants were checked and recorded. Upon examination, the researchers divided the participants in two groups. People with dominant presence of Prevotella type of bacteria were in one group while people with dominant presence of Bacteroides type of bacteria formed the other group. The high Prevotella group was emotionally more attentive & responsive. On the other hand the high Bacteroides group was tending to depressive kind of emotional state. Also people from group one had more diverse gut-microbiome than the people from group two. Another remarkable finding was that there were more females in high Bacteroides group. However researchers mentioned that the factors like age, occupation or diet preferences were not significant while dividing the people suggesting that these may not be the utmost crucial factors.

The diversity and composition of gut microbiome is related to the mental well-being. "We

cannot say that the particular type of microorganism directly affects the emotional state of the person but definitely it acts as a moderator," said one of the scientists. Over the years the connection between gut and brain had been called as brain-gut axis. But now considering the increasing knowledge of gut microbiome it is called as brain-gut-microbiome axis.

The common observation from this particular study and other studies conducted all around the world is that more the diverse gut microbiome more the benefits on mental health.

According to the research team, despite of being a naïve field as compared to cancer research or diabetes research it has great potential in near future. With the progress in the field we will be able to link a particular type of microorganism to a particular psychological disorder. Once we establish this connection early diagnosis of the psychological disorders like Alzheimer's disease, Schizophrenia just by looking at the change in the gut microbiome is possible. Also as a treatment, we can give the external dose of good bacteria- probiotics, to the patient and can achieve good results.


52. A New Genetic Discovery and Nanoparticles: Kiss of death for Breast Cancer Spread?

By Madhurima Ghosh


Cancer is one of the most fatal and elusive diseases known to mankind. A leading cause of death related to cancer has to do with the rapid spread of the disease to various parts of the body, a process called metastasis . Little is known about mechanisms that drive this process. However, US based researchers, through the identification of a gene playing a key role in metastasis, may have found an answer as well as a way to stop it.

One of the predominant forms of cancer afflicting women is Breast cancer. Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive subtype that accounts for 20% of all breast cancer related deaths in the US. Data suggests that patients with TNBCs have high rates of resistance to chemotherapy, metastasis and subsequent recurrence. Surgery, followed by radiation and chemotherapy are

still the standard methods of treatment, but the success rates are decisively poor.

Hence, the correlation between aggressive metastasis, Chemoresistance and relapse was too striking to ignore. Sanchita Bhatnagar, PhD and her team, in the University of Virginia Cancer

Centre, wanted to probe this link further. In their research, they prescribe TRIM37 as a novel oncogene which helps foster the spread of cancer from its primary site to several distant organs. An oncogene is a gene which turns a normal cell cancerous and Bhatnagar’s team are the first to associate TRIM37 with its oncogenic function in breast cancer.

Bhatnagar says, "Despite metastasis being the key reason for failure of cancer therapies, it remains poorly understood." She further adds that there are several genes that are turned on in the process of tumor formation but whether targeting these genes also affects metastasis remains unknown.

Her studies in mouse models however do show that targeting TRIM37 results in a decrease in metastatic lessions in the lungs of mice, suggesting TRIM37 to be a promising candidate for cancer therapy.

With this perspective in mind, Bhatnagar was joined by her husband and fellow researcher, Tushir Singh, to develop a novel approach to inhibit the function of TRIM37 in the cell and thereby prevent or delay metastasis.

The pair used nanoparticles to deliver the effective treatment against TRIM37 to the cells. Nanoparticles are essentially microscopic globules made of fat and are coated with antibodies that specifically bind to cancer cells, sparing the normal cells in the tissue. "As soon as the antibody finds the triple negative breast cancer cell, it binds to the receptor and is taken up by the cell," Tushir Singh explains.


Bhatnagar adds, "It is a kiss of death,that selectively reduces the expression of TRIM37 in cancer cells and prevents the spread."

A challenge faced during the research however, was the delivery and sustenance of the nanoparticles at the site of tumor formation. "A problem in the field is, how will you give [a nanoparticle treatment] to the patients? Most of these nanoparticles are cleared by the liver, so they never have a chance to really do their job,"

The researchers overcame this hurdle by using the nasal route for delivery. The lung is the first site where cancer cells reach once they metastasise, hence upon nasal delivery the nanoparticles would concentrate in the lungs and selectively target the TNBC cells.

While this technique is still in its nascent stages, Bhatnagar and her team found encouraging results in their mice studies. “The lungs showed dramatic reduction in metastatic lesions after the no treatment."

Bhatnagar’s work is generating curiosity in the pharmaceutical industry too, since this method of treatment could be used for delivering any drug specifically to the affected cells. "This would not only get the treatment where it needs to be but, hopefully, help prevent unwanted side effects. Besides preventing metastases, it adds selectivity," Bhatnagar said. Bhatnagar hopes her work, in identifying a key metastatic driving gene and formulating novel therapeutic interventions against it, would lower the overall metastasis and increase the chances of survival in TNBC patients.


Link to article:

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/uovh-bcd111920.php


53. ZEBRA FINCH: A Bird with Exceptional Auditory Memory

These songbirds can memorize the signature sounds of at least other 50 birds belonging to their flock

By Magunta Rishitha


Few birds can remember the place where they store food, like Nutcrackers. Few can

remember the places, like Ravens. Carrion Crows can differentiate between human voices. In

the same way researchers found that Zebra Finches have the ability to recognize other birds

by their vocalization.

In a recent study, published in the journal Science Advances, showed that red beaked song

birds, known as Zebra Finches, which are small songbirds that originate from Australia, have

the ability to memorize the sounds produced by other members of their flock. Zebra Finches

can identify other birds with the signature sounds.

"The amazing auditory memory of zebra finches shows that birds' brains are highly adapted

for sophisticated social communication," said study lead author Frederic Theunissen, a UC

Berkeley professor of psychology, integrative biology and neuroscience.

We humans have the ability to recognize people by their voice when they call us, like humans,

Zebra Finches also have near human capacity to remember each other's unique vocalizations

for a longer period of time.

"For animals, the ability to recognize the source and meaning of a cohort member's call

requires complex mapping skills, and this is something zebra finches have clearly mastered,"

Theunissen said.

"They have what we call a 'fusion fission' society, where they split up and then come back

together," Theunissen said. "They don't want to separate from the flock, and so, if one of

them gets lost, they might call out 'Hey, Ted, we're right here.' Or, if one of them is sitting in

a nest while the other is foraging, one might call out to ask if it's safe to return to the nest."

Zebra Finches travel around in a group of 50 to 100 birds. While they fly, they go apart and

while returning back, they come together. Mostly birds songs are typically mating calls, in

addition this, these birds use their songs to locate other birds which are distant apart.

Theunissen and fellow researchers, trained 20 captive zebra finches to distinguish between

different birds based on their vocalizations. Half of the birds were tested on memorizing songs

and the other half were checked on distance or contact calls, meaning, to call the other birds.

In this training, these birds have given a challenging task of distinguishing between 56

different zebra finches. On an average zebra finches were able to recognize 42 different zebra

finches, based on their signature sounds.

"I am really impressed by the spectacular memory abilities that zebra finches possess in order

to interpret communication calls," Theunissen said. "Previous research shows that songbirds

are capable of using simple syntax to generate complex meanings and that, in many bird species, a song is learned by imitation. It is now clear that the songbird brain is wired for vocal

communication."

In addition to Theunissen, co-authors of the study are Kevin Yu and Willam Wood at UC

Berkeley. 54. New report projects severe coral bleaching globally in this century

By Mahendra Singh Rawat


Annual severe bleaching (ASB) is projected to occur within this century for 100% of the

world’s coral reefs.

Credit: Marti Colognoli, Coral Guardian | Coral Reef Image Bank

By Diana Udel 11-19-2020

Lead author is a scientist with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric

Science

MIAMI—The United Nations recently released a new report projecting future coral reef

bleaching globally. The lead author of the report, Ruben van Hooidonk, is a scientist with

NOAA’s Cooperative Institute of Marine and Atmospheric Studies based at the University of

Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

Results highlights from the report include:

• Under the fossil-fuel aggressive SSP5-8.5, annual severe bleaching (ASB) is projected to

occur within this century for 100% of the world’s coral reefs. The average projected year of

ASB is 2034, nine years earlier than was projected as a global average for RCP8.5 using

CMIP5 models. This suggests the previous CMIP5 generation of projections of

future bleaching conditions underestimated the near future threat of annual severe bleaching.

• Projected exposure to annual severe bleaching conditions varies greatly among and within

countries under SSP5-8.5. Coral reefs with relatively early and late exposure

to annual bleaching conditions occur in all of the ocean basins; however, some

countries have more temporary refugia than others. Six of the 20 countries with the greatest

reef area have >25% temporary refugia (i.e., projected ASB after 2044), including:

Indonesia (35%), western Australia (70%), The Bahamas (26%), Madagascar (30%), India

(37%), and Malaysia (47%). Thirteen of the 20 countries with the greatest reef area have

>25% of reef areas that are projected to experience annual bleaching conditions relatively

early. Some of these countries include the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fuji, Cuba, and

Saudi Arabia.

• The average year for the projected timing of ASB under SSP2-4.5 is 2045, 11 years

later than the average year projected under SSP5-8.5. Successful mitigation in line with

the Paris Agreement would do little to provide reefs with more time to adapt or

acclimate prior to severe coral bleaching conditions occurring annually.

• There are three major results from the projections that assume coral adaptation

levels between 0.25 and 2C: 1) Each quarter degree of assumed adaptation adds ~7 years

to the global average timing of projected annual severe bleaching; 2) The great majority

of coral reefs (>80%) are expected to experience ASB this century even if 2C of adaptation is

assumed; 3) There is great spatial variation in the benefits to reefs, in terms of later ASB timing, at each assumed adaption level. The extent to which corals will adapt to increasing sea temperatures is unknown, but some level of adaptation is expected. If we assume 1C of adaptation, the global average ASB timing is ~30 years later than if no adaptation is assumed.

van Hooidonk is based at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.

To view the full report, visit the UN Environment Programme

At https://wedocs.unep.org/handle/20.500.11822/34219


Last gasps for coral reefs worldwide


Report projects global destruction of coral reefs in this century


Global warming has shown its effect from time to time, the animal and plant species have been

adversely affected by it. Now the evidences are from organisms under water. Coral reefs are

projected to get irreversibly damaged worldwide in 14 years, currently there is not much left in our

hands, says report by United Nations.

Coral is a mutual benefitting relation of a polyp (tiny cylindrical sea animal related to jellyfish) and an algae, algae providing food and colour to the polyp and creating a beautiful spectacle to be seen. Corals need a specific temperature to live and multiply to create kilometres long beautiful reefs. A very large population of living organisms from microscopic to large fishes and turtles are dependent on these reefs for survival. Increase in temperature can separate algae from polyp causing polyp to turn white called coral bleaching. As temperature is increasing worldwide due to global warming the effects are easily seen on coral reefs in the form of bleaching. This can put very large population of water organisms in severe danger.

The report authored by Ruben Hooidonk projects a severe bleaching of nearly 100% of the world’s

coral reefs. The projected year of this irreversible damage is 2034. The year of this happening varies within countries, as 6 of the 20 countries like Indonesia, Western Australia, The Bahamas,

Madagascar, India and Malaysia having the greatest reef area in the world are expected to bleach

after year 2044, while 13 of the 20 countries like Philippines, Solomon Islands, Fuji, Cuba and Saudi Arabia will experience bleaching much early.

Global increase in temperature which results in increase of the ocean temperature is the main factor behind this projection. According to the report, even if corals adapt to a 0.25-2 C increase in

temperature the severe bleaching situation will be postponed for atmost 7 years. But, more than

80% of the coral reefs will get affected anyhow. This event will be 30 years late if an adaptation of 1 C takes place.

Current efforts being done in the direction of salvaging coral reefs are next to nothing. Even if we

follow and successfully implement Paris Agreement which aims to stop a global increase in

temperature below 2 C in this century, it would do nothing in terms of providing a window to

recover from the projected condition or acclimatize corals in advance to the conditions in near

future.


This current report by author Ruben van Hooidonk who works at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory and released by United Nations clearly projects the imminent doom of the beautiful coral reefs on which very huge amount of organisms in water are dependent for

survival. These corals all over the world are expected to undergo an irreversible damage in the

course of 15-20 years and there is not much that could be done even if we do our best at current

times. An out of the way thinking is needed and more than that a will to do so is the need of this

hour.


55. Role of Microbes in Plant Growth by increasing phosphorus absorption

By Manas Raikar


Study reveals that bacteria living inside plant bodies help growth by freeing phosphorus locked inside soil


Phosphorus is one of the essential micronutrients required for plant growth. However, when it is

provided to the plant in form of chemical fertilisers, phosphorus reacts and forms some mineral

compounds. These compounds cannot be absorbed by the plants and thus the phosphorus becomes inaccessible. Now, a recent study conducted by researchers at University of Washington and Pacific National Laboratory in the US has shown that microbes living inside the plant body can make the

phosphorus more accessible to plants. Endophytes are those microorganisms (usually bacteria and fungi) which live symbiotically inside the plant body for some part of their life. These endophytes can be thought of as “probiotics” for plants,

said Sharon Doty, the senior author of the paper and a professor at University of Washington.


The phosphorus, in form of inorganic phosphates is absorbed by plants from the soil. These

phosphates react with metals like calcium, aluminium and iron causing formation of unabsorbable

minerals. Moreover, if excess of fertilisers are used then other nutrients seep into the groundwater

or a nearby water body causing water pollution.


This is where the endophytic bacteria come into play. These microbes were extracted from wild

poplar trees growing on the banks of Snoqualmie river in Western Washington. The phosphorus

locked in the form of minerals, is broken down into simpler, absorbable substances by the bacteria.


“We’re harnessing a natural plant-microbe partnership,” Doty said. “This can be a tool to advance

agriculture because it’s providing this essential nutrient without damaging the environment. This is

something that can be easily be scaled up and used in agriculture.”


The study involved collection of endophytic microbes from wild poplar trees. These trees survive on rocky riverbanks, even in the scarcity of essential nutrients like phosphorus, because of the help of microbes. Next, through lab experiments, it was shown that endophytic microbes could break down mineral complexes in petri dishes. The poplar plant containing the microbes were imaged with the

use of advanced imaging technologies which gave clear evidence of absorption of the broken-down phosphorus by plant roots.


The same imaging also revealed another aspect. The phosphorus which once entered the plant

body can again form mineral complexes inside the plant itself. But the endophytes re-dissolved the

complexes and hence were able to ensure a constant supply of nutrients to the plant. This

characteristic is attributed to their unique position in the plant body.


This phenomenon is “an extra finding... and has implications that would warrant further research,”

said Tamas Varga, a co-author of the research and a material scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Agricultural crops often are unable to get the sufficient amount of essential nutrients like

phosphorus. This problem occurs due to the locking and accumulation of phosphorus in the soil.

Thus, scientists are looking forward to employ endophytes in agriculture and pave way for

sustainable agriculture.


University of Washington has already licensed a few microbial strains to a California based company named IntrinsyxBio. They are trying to commercialize the endophytic microbes. The evidence

provided by this research of endophyte-promoted phosphorus uptake is “game-changing for our

research on crops,” said John Freeman, Chief Science Officer of IntrinsyxBio. “The finding that the

solubilized phosphate may react and become insoluble once inside the plant tissue and that

endophytes may aid in the re-release of phosphate is critical to our understanding of nutrient uptake

in plants,” Freeman added.


The research paper was published in October in the journal ‘Frontiers in Plant Science’ and was

authored by many scientists from different institutions in the US.


References – (1) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/uow-mhu112420.php

(2) https://www.washington.edu/news/2020/11/24/microbes-help-unlock-phosphorus-for-plant-

growth/

(3) https://www.emsl.pnnl.gov/news/for-plants-endophytes-promote-phosphorus-uptake/1524

(4) https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2020.567918/full


P.S. - The quotes used in the story are used directly as given in the Press Releases. Please do not

consider them as Plagiarism.




56. Novel technology spearheads research on cancer cure


By Manasasri Muralidharan, Chennai, November 27, 2020


Link: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-11/ru-nfs111920.php


Scientists explain how biomaterials used in cancer gene therapy can lead to inexpensive treatments



Figure: Cancer cell (white) being attacked by two immune cells (red) Credit: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash


Despite the remarkable advances in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of cancer, combating the disease is still complicated. A research team in Australia headed by Dr.Ravi Shukla, has developed a relatively inexpensive and safer therapeutic technology targeting cancer cells, which can be employed against other human diseases also.


Each cell in our body has a designated task to perform. The code determining these tasks is written into genes, which are units of DNA (deoxy-ribonucleic acid), our genetic blueprint. When these genes undergo damage, mutations develop, which at times result in uncontrolled multiplication of cells. The diseased cells begin to ignore their initial commands and hijack certain cellular processes to benefit their growth and survival, thus causing the development of cancer.


Current cancer treatments involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormone therapy or a combination thereof, exposing patients to numerous hazardous substances resulting in severe health effects, expensive hospital bills and no guarantee of a sustained cure. Gene therapy is an alternative that generates a cure by externally supplying functional genes to replace/modify damaged genes within the cell. A roadblock to this strategy is the delivery and absorption of the cure by the diseased cells.


Current therapeutics employ viruses that carry corrective cures, as they can naturally infect cells, but a side-effect is our body’s immune response against these viruses leading to complications. “An effective non-viral method would be safer for patients and could significantly reduce the time and expense involved in bringing new treatments to market,” says Dr.Shukla, an Assistant Professor at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia.

Focusing on prostate cancer, a common disease afflicting men, the team in collaboration with Dr.Cara Doherty of The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation(CSIRO),Australia, developed and manufactured metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). “These are biocompatible, miniscule delivery systems, with the capacity to carry genetic load to their targets,” explains Dr.Shukla. The MOF is composed of metal ions that interact with organic matter to form intricate structures that act as relatively non-toxic vehicles capable of transporting genetic content and being absorbed by cells.


According to Arpita Poddar, lead author of the paper, the team used ZIF-C, a type of MOF to deliver their therapeutic cures. One of their strategies involved gene editing using CRISPR/Cas9, the technology for which the 2020 Nobel prize in Chemistry was awarded. Using Cas9, a protein that cuts through genetic material, the team attempted to shut-down their target, the RPSA gene, whose excessive function results in cells turning cancerous. The knockdown of this gene’s expression in cancerous prostate cells caused a sharp increase in their death in comparison to non-cancerous cells.


With their technology having shown visible effects on cell survival, the team tried to maximize the acceptance of these MOFs into the target. Arpita explains that since cells are usually resistant to the uptake of unverified foreign matter, they coated the MOF with epigallocatechin- gallate (EGCG), a chemical found in green tea that possesses anti-cancerous and anti-oxidant properties and is known to increase a cell’s absorption potential. To their delight, the MOFs having EGCG coating had increased entry into the cancerous cells in comparison to uncoated MOFs.


“For the first time, we show that the MOF, ZIF-C, is a successful delivery system for gene therapy,” says Arpita. Though her team’s focus was on prostate cancer cells, their work can be utilized to combat various other cancers, diabetes, heart diseases and cystic fibrosis. “Specifically, for now, we are targeting other forms of cancer such as breast, ovarian and cervical,” she adds.


This pilot study has helped cement the potential of MOF biomaterials as inexpensive, non- toxic, therapeutic partners with prospective multi-disciplinary appeal.


(Word count: 599)


# Note: In addition to the quotes sourced from the Eureka alert press release, the first author, Arpita Poddar was contacted for comments.

57. NASA Launches spaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

By Mishfa Momin


LEDE: NASA launched the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket along with the Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying international crew of astronauts into orbit to begin a six-month science mission aboard the space station from Florida.

TRANSITION 1: The crew will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory. Crew Dragon also is delivering more than 500 pounds of cargo, new science hardware and experiments inside, including Food Physiology, a study of the effects of an optimized diet on crew health and, Genes in Space-7, a student-designed experiment that aims to better understand how spaceflight affects brain function, enabling scientists to keep astronauts healthy as they prepare for long-duration missions in low-Earth orbit and beyond. They also will conduct a variety of spacewalks and welcome crews of the Russian Soyuz vehicle. The international crew of four includes Michael Hopkins as commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-1 mission, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

QUOTE 1: "This is an important mission for NASA, SpaceX and our partners at JAXA, and we look forward to watching this crew arrive at station to carry on our partnership for all of humanity", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

"It is an honor to have our Japanese astronaut launch on this Crew-1 Dragon as the first astronaut of the International Partner participating in the ISS program," said Hiroshi Sasaki, JAXA vice president.

TRANSITION 2: Falcon 9 rocket was launched on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020 at 7:27 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.

QUOTE 2: "Falcon 9 looked great, Dragon was dropped off into a beautiful orbit about 12 minutes into the mission, and we'll get more data as we go." said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.

TRANSITION 3: Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA. The Crew-1 mission is the first of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

QUOTE 3: "Watching this mission launch is a special moment for NASA and our SpaceX team," said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "We are looking forward to getting this crew to the International space station to continue our important work, and I want to thank the teams for the amazing effort to make the next generation of human space transportation possible."

TRANSITION 4: The astronauts named the Crew Dragon spacecraft ‘Resilience’, highlighting the dedication teams involved with the mission have displayed and to demonstrate that when we work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. Resilience, will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station's Harmony module about 11 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16. During flight, SpaceX commands the spacecraft from its mission control centre in Hawthorne, California, and NASA teams monitor space station operations throughout the flight from the Mission Control Centre at the agency's Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

QUOTE 4: "I could not be more proud of the work we've done here today," said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX.

TRANSITION 5: At the conclusion of the mission, the Crew-1 astronauts will board Crew Dragon, which will then autonomously undock, depart the space station, and re-enter Earth's atmosphere in spring 2021. Upon splashdown, the SpaceX recovery ship will pick up the crew and return to shore, seven splashdown sites are located off Florida's east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

QUOTE 5: "NASA is delivering on its commitment to the American people and our international partners to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective missions to the International Space Station using American private industry," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.



58. Nature’s Mechanical Marvel: Crushproof Armour of Diabolical Ironclad Beetle

By Mukulika Jana Chatterjee



Diabolical Ironclad Beetle (Scientific name: Phloeodes diabolicus or Nosoderma diabolicum), around 2.5 cm long, flightless, fungivore native insect of North America Credit: Heather Broccard-Bell Getty Images


Connecting two dissimilar materials while maintain crush resistance property is one of the ongoing material science challenges. Scientists can get some ideas to win this by looking at one of the nature’s mechanical marvel which can be found in the exoskeletal forewings called the elytra of Diabolical Ironclad Beetle (DIB). DIBs can remain undamaged while crushed or pierced by predators or vehicles or human beings due to their large force withstanding capabilities of body armour like exoskeleton.

DIBs are not able to fly away from predators because its wing cases have hardened due to desert dwelling adaptation to maintain moisture. These can also play dead and may look like rock due to rugged surface of its elytra to avoid unwanted attention by predators. Possession of a structurally versatile and complex exoskeleton designing to fend off predators due to millions of years’ evolution justifies the resilient nature of DIB.

David Kisailus, a materials scientist at the University of California, Irvine, is one of the lead scientists who conducted the force withstanding experiment of exoskeleton of DIB. What they have found out is very astounding. DIB’s maximum force withstanding capabilities could be half a million times greater than its own body weight.

Compared to other beetle species, DIBs have a longer life span. These can live for a few years.

Their work titled ‘Toughening mechanisms of the elytra of the diabolical ironclad beetle’ has been published in volume 586, 22nd October 2020 issue of Nature.


Resource: https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/diabolical-ironclad-beetle-strong- exoskeleton-nearly-unsquishable

59. Cocoa flavanols boost Oxygen in brains of healthy adults

By Naagarjun Ghosh


Living beings need oxygen has a essential component to survive. Uk based researchers found that brains of healthy adults recovered faster from mild vascular challenge and performed better in complex tasks by consumption of cocoa flavanols.

Flavanols are a small molecules found in many fruits and vegetables, and cocoa.They give fruits and vegetables their bright colours ,and they are known to benefit vascular function.

Researcher Catarina Renederio says “previous studies have shown that eating foods rich in flavanols can benefit vascular function,but this is the first to find a positive effect on vascular functions and cognitive performance in young healthy adults”. A lecturer in nutritional sciences at the university of Brimingham.

Studies proved that they are known to benefit vascular functions .The real mystery lies, wether it could have a positive impact on cognitive functions or not? In the research 14 of 18 participants saw improvement after ingestion the flavanols.

The team recruited adult non smokers with no known history of brain,heart,vascular or respiratory disease, any effect can be used as a strapping evidence that dietery flavanols can improve brain function in healthy persons. The team tested the the 18 participants in two separate trails,one in which subjects received flavanol rich cocoa and another they received processed cocoa with very low levels of flavanol.Neither the participants nor researchers knew which type of cocoa consumed in trails.

Prof Gratton says “about two hours after consuming the cocoa ,subjects breathed air 5% carbon dioxide about 100 times then the normal concentration in air,these brings in more oxygen and also allows the brain to eliminate more carbon dioxide”.

With functional near infrared spectroscopy ,a technique that uses the light to capture changes in blood flow to the brain, the team measured oxygenation in frontal cortex, a region of brain that plays a role in planning, regulating behavior and decision making.

Prof Fabiani says “this allows you to measure how well the brain defends itself from the excess carbon dioxide”.

Most of the participants had a stronger and faster brain oxygenation response after exposure to coca flavanols than they did at baseline or after consuming cocoa lacking flavanols,the researchers found.After ingesting the coca flavanols,participants also performed better on the most challenging cognitive tasks,correctly solving 11% faster than they did at baseline or when they consumed cocoa with reduced flavanols. There was no measurable difference in performance on the easier tasks.

Researcher Renedeiro says” flavanols might only be beneficial during cognitive tasks that are more challenging”.

Participants varied in their responses to cocoa flavanols.Most of them are benefitted perhaps,there was small group that did not.four of the 18 test subjects had no meaningful difference in the brain oxygenation response after consuming flavanols,nor did the performance improved.

Researcher Renedeiro says “ these four participants already had the highest oxygenation response in baseline ,this indicate they are quite fit and have little room for improvement”.

On the above research findings suggest that the improvements in vascular activity after exposure to flavanols are connected to the improvement in cognitive function.The led researcher catarina Rendeiro from Birmingham university led the research with university of Illinois at urbana-champaign psychology professors monica fabiani and Gabriel gratton led major contribution in the field of science. The article reports in journal scientific reports.

60. Tiger conservation swings uproar amid economic development survey of last

30 years.

By Nagendra Nath Das

*Center for wildlife studies, Bengaluru.


(Source and explanation: this figure is obtained from internet, for making my story eye

catching)

Tigers are categorized into endangered, vulnerable, near to extinct species as per scientific

estimations IUCN database of world...(WHO). July 29... (WHEN)... is celebrated as global tiger

day across the world, which is being celebrated to spread and generate awareness on tiger

conservation. Presently over one-third of tiger conservation sites...(WHAT)...in world are still

vulnerable and the majority of those areas are located in Southeast Asia. One hundred years

ago, there were 100,000 wild tigers in nature, but in 2010 as few as only 3,200 wild tigers

remained. The sole cause of declination in tiger population is human activity and nearly 97%


has been extinct due to rampant poaching and habitat loss...(WHY)... The borders of India-

Nepal, Indonesia-China and Russia-China are hot spots for trans-boundary smuggling of tiger


body parts. The main legislative action was undertaken by then Indian government through the

insertion of the Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006, which was also known as ‘Tiger

Amendment’...(HOW)...Therefore, the question arises that how much tigers are at present in

India? For this, Center for wildlife studies, Bengaluru... (WHERE)... conducted launched

comprehensive national tiger survey of last 30 years. was launched

Wildlife scientists, Dr. Karnath and his team examined tiger population recovery of across a

38000 km. landscape in southwestern India under the assessment program suggested that

between 1970-2015 tiger habitat occupancy remained unchanged at about 14000 km. However,

tiger numbers rose from about 70 to 391, primarily in a few wildlife reserves with long histories

of law enforcement. India now has nearly 70% of the global tiger population.


Dr. Karnath and his team published a paper in journal of biological conservation entitled

“Tigers against the odds: Applying macro-ecology to species recovery in India”. This can be

accessed by @cwsindia (Instagram) and visit: http://www.cwsindia.org/in for detail.

Dr. Karanth reported that “The key to bringing back tigers and other such threatened species

lies in apportioning the land wisely separating nature preservation and human development,

recognizing the continued need for effective law enforcement, encouraging rather than stifling

non-governmental conservation efforts and accepting the reality that wildlife conservation

must succeed under the broader societal mandate for economic and technological progress”.

Another co-author Dr. Krithi Karanth reported that “Our pioneering work at Center for wildlife

studies for more than three decades demonstrates the important role that science and

conservation play in sustaining wildlife amidst human aspirations and needs”.

Anti-poaching, illegal trade and trafficking, protection laws covered the use of technology and

unconventional media such as social media as well as setting up strong laws and

implementation, provided a strong platform for tiger conservation. The scientists also evaluated

challenges and opportunities in non-governmental conservation programs.


Note: I have undertaken this story write-up due to my city is very near Koraput district, a hill

region of Odisha, where anti-poaching squads are with other non-govt. machineries do the job

of forest animal conservation, but still black-marketing has been continuing as I observed in

different markets of different regions. This actually hurts as I love cows, buffaloes, elephants,

parrots, pigeons etc., even at OUAT, Bhubaneswar of Odisha, I have done horse-riding. My

own uncle is in army who got professional training on riding horses, which is one of my

passion.


61. Conservation principles coupled with Data driven approach can lead to

Increase in Tiger population - study

By Nandha Kumar

Centre for Wildlife Studies study highlights the effective law enforcement in Tiger reserves and integrated development can lead to increase in Tiger population.

Ever wondered how technology and smart conservation principles can change the course of dwindling Tiger population in the country!?. Well, scientists from the Centre for Wildlife Studies (CWS) (Bengaluru, India) explain it in style, the journey of 30 years through time and space.

An area of 38,000 square kilometre landscape matrix in Malenad region of Karnataka was chosen to be the area of research. The tiger population recoveries in the past 30 years across a 38,000 km2 was meticulously recorded