Sci/Tech en Wed Apr 05 14:31:59 IST 2023 explained-russia-set-to-make-historic-return-to-moon-with-luna-2 <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Russia is poised to launch its lunar lander, Luna-25, marking its first moon landing since 1976. After several delays, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, has set the launch date for this week, seeking to rekindle the country's space exploration legacy. The Luna-25 lander, weighing around 800 kilograms, is scheduled to touch down in the region of the moon's south pole.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This endeavour places Russia in direct competition with India's Chandrayaan-3 mission, which is also targeting the lunar south pole and is due to land later in August. On August 4, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that Chandrayaan-3 has completed approximately two-thirds of the journey to the Moon.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The decision to focus on the moon's south pole is strategic. Scientists believe this area contains substantial amounts of ice, potentially offering vital resources for future lunar missions, such as fuel, oxygen, and drinking water. While the rough terrain poses challenges for landing, both Russia and India are determined to unlock the potential of this prized destination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The launch will take place from the Vostochny cosmodrome, situated 5,551 kilometers east of Moscow. This launch site was chosen to replace the previous Baikonur Cosmodrome, which now resides in Kazakhstan, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Luna-25 spacecraft will take approximately five days to reach the moon, followed by five to seven days in lunar orbit before its descent. This timeline suggests that Russia's lander could match or narrowly beat India's Chandrayaan-3 to the moon's surface.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The two missions have distinct landing areas to avoid any interference. Roscosmos has assured that &quot;there is enough space for everyone on the moon.&quot; Chandrayaan-3 plans to conduct experiments for two weeks, while Luna-25 aims for a more extended stay, conducting scientific research for a year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The launch of Luna-25 is a significant milestone for Russia, marking its return to lunar exploration after a hiatus of almost five decades. It reflects the country's determination to continue its space program despite various challenges. The last lunar sample return mission conducted by the Soviet Union was the Luna-24 mission, which successfully obtained samples of lunar soil and brought them back to Earth for analysis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As both Russia and India race to explore the lunar south pole, the scientific insights gained and potential resources discovered could pave the way for humanity's sustained presence on the moon in the future.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite geopolitical challenges, Russia remains committed to its lunar program. The Luna-25 mission represents the latest step in the country's endeavors to advance its space exploration efforts. Roscosmos has stated that the primary objective of the mission is to advance the fundamental technologies necessary for achieving a gentle touchdown in the polar region and carry out detailed investigations of the lunar south pole through physical contact.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This lunar mission uses &quot;a completely Russian element base and the latest achievements in the field of space instrumentation,&quot; according to Lavochkin, the organisation behind the spacecraft's development.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This mission, however, does carry an element of risk, with the complex task of landing in the challenging terrain of the circumpolar region. The Luna-25 mission presents a unique challenge for Russian space engineers as it involves a new type of spacecraft for which they have no recent comparable experience. Furthermore, it marks the first use of the Soyuz 2 rocket for a lunar mission and the first such mission to take off from the Vostochny space complex. Combining these multiple &quot;firsts&quot; makes the mission quite a daring endeavor. Yuri Borisov, head of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, acknowledged this high-risk nature during a meeting with President Putin. The probability of successful completion is estimated at around 70 percent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Russia has plans to deploy a full-fledged scientific station on the Moon in collaboration with China, following the Luna-25 mission.</p> Tue Aug 08 15:09:25 IST 2023 the-art-and-science-of-nanoscale-tattoos-for-individual-cells <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a stunning blend of artistry and cutting-edge science, researchers have unveiled a groundbreaking advancement that combines the world of body art with the realm of cellular biology. Dubbed &quot;Cellular Couture,&quot; this innovative technique involves the creation of nanoscale tattoos that adhere to individual cells, opening up new possibilities in the realm of health monitoring and disease detection.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the marriage of art and science, the Cellular Couture movement is redefining what it means to express oneself through the medium of the human body. The fusion of nanotechnology and cellular biology is transforming the way we approach healthcare and disease prevention, one tiny tattoo at a time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Traditionally, tattoos have been associated with personal expression and cultural significance, adorning the skin's surface with intricate designs and meaningful symbols. However, a team of engineers led by Professor David Gracias at Johns Hopkins University has taken this concept to an entirely new level by introducing nanoscale tattoos that decorate individual living cells.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The essence of this groundbreaking technology lies in its ability to merge aesthetics with functionality. Imagine a world where our cells could communicate their health status through tiny, intricate patterns etched onto their surfaces. These nanoscale tattoos are essentially microscopic arrays of dots and wires that conform to the fluid outer structure of cells. Just like traditional tattoos, these nanoscale designs carry a unique identity, but their purpose extends far beyond personal style.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The implications of Cellular Couture are nothing short of remarkable. By placing optical elements and electronics on live cells, researchers are edging closer to monitoring the health of individual cells in real-time. &quot;If we had technologies to track the health of isolated cells, we could maybe diagnose and treat diseases much earlier and not wait until the entire organ is damaged,&quot; explains Professor David Gracias.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The process involves creating these nanoscale tattoos with gold, a material known for its ability to prevent signal loss or distortion in electronic wiring. The arrays are then affixed to cells that form and sustain human tissue, referred to as fibroblasts. Through a carefully orchestrated process, the arrays are treated with molecular glues and transferred onto the cells using an alginate hydrogel film. This gel-like laminate dissolves after the gold adheres to the cell, allowing the nanoscale tattoo to bond with the extracellular matrix secreted by the cells.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most remarkable aspects of this innovation is its compatibility with living cells. Unlike previous attempts to attach electronics to biological matter, Cellular Couture ensures that the cells remain alive and functional. This breakthrough overcomes the longstanding challenge of harmonizing living cells with electronic components. Moreover, the team's ability to arrange the dots and wires in specific patterns is essential, mirroring the organization found in electronic chips.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This remarkable fusion of art and science holds immense promise for the future of healthcare. Researchers envision a world where these nanoscale tattoos serve as early warning systems, communicating cellular health and potential anomalies before they manifest as full-blown diseases. The technology could revolutionize medical diagnostics, enabling earlier interventions and targeted treatments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the research team continues to refine the technique, their focus is on attaching more intricate nanocircuits that can remain in place for extended periods. The possibilities are vast, from monitoring the health of vital organs to understanding cellular responses to various treatments. Cellular Couture isn't just about adorning cells with patterns; it's about paving the way for a healthier, more informed future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Aug 08 15:37:48 IST 2023 nature-navigators-butterflies-display-astonishing-spatial-learni <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists have unveiled the hidden intelligence of Heliconius butterflies, showcasing their exceptional spatial learning abilities. This revelation challenges conventional notions about insect cognition, providing a fresh perspective on the intricate capabilities of these delicate creatures. The findings, published in the esteemed journal Current Biology, mark the first experimental evidence of spatial learning in any butterfly or moth species.</p> <p>Heliconius butterflies, renowned for their distinctive feeding behavior of pollen consumption, have long captivated the curiosity of biologists. Researchers from the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences set out to investigate whether these butterflies possess spatial learning skills akin to those observed in socially-inclined insects such as ants and bees.</p> <p>In a world where the boundaries of knowledge are constantly expanding, the discovery of Heliconius butterflies' spatial learning prowess adds yet another layer of fascination to the intricate web of life on Earth. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of the natural world, it is these unexpected revelations that remind us of the vast complexity and untapped potential that lie within even the tiniest inhabitants of our planet.</p> <p>&quot;Wild Heliconius appear to learn the location of reliable pollen sources and establish long-term 'traplines',&quot; explained Dr. Stephen Montgomery, a senior author of the study. These traplines represent foraging routes along which food sources are revisited over consecutive days, a strategy that maximizes efficiency—a behavior resembling that of certain orchid bees and bumblebees. However, the extent of the spatial learning abilities in Heliconius butterflies had remained untested until now.</p> <p>The research team conducted a series of meticulously designed spatial learning experiments spanning three ecologically-relevant scales. These scales allowed the researchers to assess the butterflies' capacity to remember locations, a skill vital for navigating their environment and optimizing their foraging strategies. The study's findings suggest that Heliconius butterflies may possess the remarkable ability to learn spatial information at large scales, indicative of the crucial role of long-range spatial learning for their traplining behavior within home ranges of a few hundred square meters.</p> <p>The significance of this discovery extends beyond the individual species, shedding light on the broader landscape of insect intelligence. &quot;Much of the research on spatial learning in insects has concentrated on ant and bee species that live socially in communal nests,&quot; noted the study's authors. The novel evidence of spatial learning in butterflies or moths highlights the potential prevalence of complex learning skills, such as the utilization of spatial information, across the insect world. This revelation has the potential to reshape our understanding of insect cognition and expand the scope of future research in this area.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The implications of this study stretch beyond the realm of scientific inquiry, touching upon the intricate tapestry of the natural world and the role that seemingly minor creatures play in its intricate balance. By uncovering the depths of intelligence within Heliconius butterflies, researchers are opening doors to further exploration of the myriad ways in which insects navigate, adapt, and thrive in their environments.</p> Tue Aug 08 11:49:53 IST 2023 symphony-of-stars-how-stars-sing-a-unique-song-in-space <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Imagine gazing up at the night sky, listening to the soft hum of stars twinkling like distant music from another realm. Well, that fantasy is now a step closer to reality! A groundbreaking study led by researchers at Northwestern University has made significant strides in understanding the innate &quot;twinkle&quot; of stars.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We all know stars appear to twinkle due to Earth's atmosphere bending starlight as it travels to us. However, stars also possess an intrinsic &quot;twinkle&quot; caused by rippling waves of gas on their surfaces, which has remained hidden from Earth-bound telescopes—until now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The symphony of stars is a testament to the boundless wonders of the cosmos and the harmonious dance of celestial bodies that captivate our imagination and inspire us to explore beyond the confines of our planet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research team embarked on an ambitious mission to create the first 3D simulations of energy rippling from a massive star's core to its outer surface. By accomplishing this feat, they were able to decipher, for the first time, the elusive mystery of how much stars should naturally twinkle.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But this remarkable study didn't stop there. In another groundbreaking move, the team transformed these rippling waves of gas into sound waves, allowing us to audibly experience the hidden symphony within stars. The results are nothing short of eerily fascinating.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So, what's causing this celestial symphony? The answer lies in the chaotic convection zones within stars, particularly massive ones, where gases churn and heat is transported outward in a turbulent process. Picture the convection within stars as similar to the process that fuels thunderstorms—cooled air drops, warms, and rises again.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These convective motions generate waves, creating subtle variations in starlight that cause the twinkle we perceive from Earth. However, because the cores of massive stars are hidden from view, the research team sought to model their concealed convection. By incorporating all relevant physics, they accurately predicted how a star's brightness changes due to the convection-generated waves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To isolate the waves that produce the twinkle effect, the team developed a &quot;soundproofing&quot; technique by building a damping layer around the star, akin to padded walls in a recording studio. This method allowed them to measure precisely how the waves from the core convection behaved.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The simulations not only provided a visual representation of how waves travel from the core to the star's surface but also enabled the researchers to generate sound based on these waves. Although the waves are outside the range of human hearing, the frequencies were adjusted to make them audible.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Depending on the size and brightness of the massive star, the waves produce different sounds. Waves emerging from the core of a large star, for instance, create sounds resembling a warped ray gun, while surface waves on a small star evoke a plaintive alert from a weather siren.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Through this mesmerizing study, the team also passed familiar songs through different stars, revealing how stars alter the music, making it sound distant and haunting—like something out of &quot;Alice in Wonderland.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>What does this research mean for the future? Not only does it offer a deeper understanding of the cosmos and the processes that forge the elements we rely on, but it also opens doors for future space telescopes to observe the central regions of stars, once shrouded in mystery. These advanced telescopes may even be able to detect the subtle twinkle caused by the waves, unraveling more of the universe's enigmatic melodies.</p> Mon Aug 07 17:13:56 IST 2023 the-legacy-of-the-nuclear-arms-race-contamination-costs-and-cult <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Christopher Nolan's film Oppenheimer has focused new attention on the legacies of the Manhattan Project the World War II programme to develop nuclear weapons. As the anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug 6 and Aug 9, 1945, approach, it's a timely moment to look further at dilemmas wrought by the creation of the atomic bomb.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Manhattan Project spawned a trinity of interconnected legacies. It initiated a global arms race that threatens the survival of humanity and the planet as we know it. It also led to widespread public health and environmental damage from nuclear weapons production and testing. And it generated a culture of governmental secrecy with troubling political consequences.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As a researcher examining communication in science, technology, energy and environmental contexts, I've studied these legacies of nuclear weapons production. From 2000 to 2005, I also served on a citizen advisory board that provides input to federal and state officials on a massive environmental cleanup program at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington state that continues today.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hanford is less well known than Los Alamos, New Mexico, where scientists designed the first atomic weapons, but it was also crucial to the Manhattan Project. There, an enormous, secret industrial facility produced the plutonium fuel for the Trinity test on July 16, 1945, and the bomb that incinerated Nagasaki a few weeks later. (The Hiroshima bomb was fuelled by uranium produced in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at another of the principal Manhattan Project sites.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Later, workers at Hanford made most of the plutonium used in the U.S. nuclear arsenal throughout the Cold War. In the process, Hanford became one of the most contaminated places on Earth. Total cleanup costs are projected to reach up to US$640 billion, and the job won't be completed for decades, if ever.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Victims of nuclear tests</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nuclear weapons production and testing have harmed public health and the environment in multiple ways. For example, a new study released in preprint form in July 2023 while awaiting scientific peer review finds that fallout from the Trinity nuclear test reached 46 US states and parts of Canada and Mexico.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dozens of families who lived near the site many of them Hispanic or Indigenous were unknowingly exposed to radioactive contamination. So far, they have not been included in the federal program to compensate uranium miners and downwinders who developed radiation-linked illnesses after exposure to later atmospheric nuclear tests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On July 27, 2023, however, the US Senate voted to extend the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and expand it to communities near the Trinity test site in New Mexico. A companion bill is under consideration in the House of Representatives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The largest above-ground U.S. tests, along with tests conducted underwater, took place in the Pacific islands. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union and other nations conducted their own testing programs. Globally through 2017, nuclear-armed nations exploded 528 weapons above ground or underwater, and an additional 1,528 underground.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Estimating how many people have suffered health effects from these tests is notoriously difficult. So is accounting for disruptions to communities that were displaced by these experiments.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Polluted soil and water</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nuclear weapons production has also exposed many people, communities and ecosystems to radiological and toxic chemical pollution. Here, Hanford offers troubling lessons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Starting in 1944, workers at the remote site in eastern Washington state irradiated uranium fuel in reactors and then dissolved it in acid to extract its plutonium content. Hanford's nine reactors, located along the Columbia River to provide a source of cooling water, discharged water contaminated with radioactive and hazardous chemicals into the river through 1987, when the last operating reactor was shut down.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Extracting plutonium from the irradiated fuel, an activity called reprocessing, generated 56 million gallons of liquid waste laced with radioactive and chemical poisons. The wastes were stored in underground tanks designed to last 25 years, based on an assumption that a disposal solution would be developed later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Seventy-eight years after the first tank was built, that solution remains elusive. A project to vitrify, or embed tank wastes in glass for permanent disposal, has been mired in technical, managerial and political difficulties, and repeatedly threatened with cancellation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, officials are considering mixing some radioactive sludges with concrete grout and shipping them elsewhere for disposal or perhaps leaving them in the tanks. Critics regard those proposals as risky compromises. Meanwhile, an estimated 1 million gallons of liquid waste have leaked from some tanks into the ground, threatening the Columbia River, a backbone of the Pacific Northwest's economy and ecology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Radioactive trash still litters parts of Hanford. Irradiated bodies of laboratory animals were buried there. The site houses radioactive debris ranging from medical waste to propulsion reactors from decommissioned submarines and parts of the reactor that partially melted down at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. Advocates for a full Hanford cleanup warn that without such a commitment, the site will become a national sacrifice zone, a place abandoned in the name of national security.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A culture of secrecy</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the movie Oppenheimer shows, government secrecy has shrouded nuclear weapons activities from their inception. Clearly, the science and technology of those weapons have dangerous potential and require careful safeguarding. But as I've argued previously, the principle of secrecy quickly expanded more broadly. Here again, Hanford provides an example.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hanford's reactor fuel was sometimes reprocessed before its most-highly radioactive isotopes had time to decay. In the 1940s and 1950s, managers knowingly released toxic gases into the air, contaminating farmlands and pastures downwind. Some releases supported an effort to monitor Soviet nuclear progress. By tracking deliberate emissions from Hanford, scientists learned better how to spot and evaluate Soviet nuclear tests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the mid-1980s, local residents grew suspicious about an apparent excess of illnesses and deaths in their community. Initially, strict secrecy reinforced by the region's economic dependence on the Hanford site made it hard for concerned citizens to get information.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Once the curtain of secrecy was partially lifted under pressure from area residents and journalists, public outrage prompted two major health effects studies that engendered fierce controversy. By the close of the decade, more than 3,500 downwinders had filed lawsuits related to illnesses they attributed to Hanford. A judge finally dismissed the case in 2016 after awarding limited compensation to a handful of plaintiffs, leaving a bitter legacy of legal disputes and personal anguish.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cautionary legacies</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently active atomic weapons facilities also have seen their share of nuclear and toxic chemical contamination. Among them, Los Alamos National Laboratory home to Oppenheimer's original compound, and now a site for both military and civilian research has contended with groundwater pollution, workplace hazards related to the toxic metal beryllium, and gaps in emergency planning and worker safety procedures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As Nolan's film recounts, J Robert Oppenheimer and many other Manhattan Project scientists had deep concerns about how their work might create unprecedented dangers. Looking at the legacies of the Trinity test, I wonder whether any of them imagined the scale and scope of those outcomes.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(The Conversation: By William J Kinsella, North Carolina State University)&nbsp;</p> Thu Aug 03 14:29:51 IST 2023 what-are-the-next-steps-for-chandrayaan-3-as-it-smoothly-heads-towards-moon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> Chandrayaan-3, India's third lunar mission, has reached a significant milestone as it completed its orbits around the Earth and is currently situated in the translunar orbit. Chandrayaan-3 is set to head towards its next destination, the Moon, with the lunar orbit insertion (LOI) planned for August 5, 2023, as per the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). <br> <br> Following its launch on July 14, the Chandrayaan-3 mission underwent a series of five sequential orbit raises to gradually elevate the spacecraft's orbit. <br> <br> The spacecraft has changed its course to reach the Moon by using its perigee engine, which acts like a rocket to accelerate the spacecraft. The perigee refers to the point in an orbit that is closest to the Earth. By firing the perigee engine, the spacecraft gains speed and energy to travel towards the moon. <br> <br> “The firing of the perigee engine is done at this specific point because it helps maximize the spacecraft's efficiency. By firing the engine at the perigee, the spacecraft can take advantage of the Earth's gravitational pull to boost its speed and propel itself towards the Moon. This is called trans-lunar injection. After the firing of the perigee engine, the spacecraft will enter into a new orbit around the moon on 5th of August and continue to orbit for a few days to further adjust its trajectory and get closer to the Moon's surface viz 100kms circular orbit above the moon surface. This allows the spacecraft to ensure a proper landing by carefully positioning itself before descending onto the lunar surface,” explained space and aerospace expert Girish Linganna. <br> <br> ISRO has set a plan to separate the landing module from the propulsion module on August 17. The landing module, named Vikram, carries the Rover called Pragyaan. ISRO will then aim to safely land Vikram on the Moon's surface on August 23. This separation is crucial as it allows the landing module to independently navigate and make a precise touchdown on the Moon.<br> <br> Approximately four hours after a successful soft landing, the Rover Pragyaan is scheduled to detach from the Lander Vikram. Both Vikram and Pragyaan will then proceed to conduct in situ experiments on the lunar surface. In situ experiments refer to conducting tests and analysis directly on the Moon's surface without bringing samples back to Earth. These experiments will provide valuable data and insights regarding the lunar environment, composition, and other scientific measurements, helping to expand our understanding of the Moon and its potential for future exploration. <br> <br> “The propulsion module, which contains scientific instruments, will continue to orbit the Moon. This means that after the successful landing of Vikram and the deployment of Pragyaan, the propulsion module will not land on the lunar surface but instead remain in the Moon's orbit. By staying in orbit, the propulsion module can continue to gather valuable data and conduct scientific experiments. It allows for a comprehensive exploration of the Moon's environment and enables further study of the lunar gravitational field, mapping of the lunar surface, and other scientific measurements. This data will contribute to our understanding of the Moon's geological composition, its evolution, and potentially aid future missions and human explorations,” said Linganna. <br> <br> Though Chandrayaan-3 is <a title="Explained: Why Chandrayaan-3 will take more than a month to reach the moon" href="">taking more than a month</a> to reach the Moon, if one has to go back in history, the Apollo 8 mission was the fastest journey to the moon, taking 69 hours and 8 minutes. Every mission after Apollo 8 took at least 74 hours to reach the moon. The Apollo 17 mission was the last mission to land on the Moon, taking 86 hours and 14 minutes. The USSR's Luna-2 craft took just 34 hours to reach the moon in 1959. <br> <br> To travel long distances in space, one needs high speeds and straight trajectories. The Apollo 11 mission used a super heavy-lift launcher called Saturn V to travel at more than 39,000 kilometres per hour. The Saturn V rocket could lift 43 tonnes, including the lunar module, service module, and command module. The third stage of the Saturn V rocket put the modules into a trans-lunar trajectory after orbiting Earth for the second time. The launcher and the lunar craft used powerful engines to reach the Moon in just four days, covering 3,80,000km. The Apollo missions between 1969 and 1971 cost NASA $185 million each, or $1.2 billion in 2016. Of this, $110 million was spent on building each Saturn V rocket. <br> <br> “Unlike previous missions that prioritised speed, Chandrayaan-3 takes a different approach, focusing on cost optimisation and safety considerations while still accomplishing its research objectives. The Apollo mission, which brought humans to the Moon, achieved faster travel times but incurred high fuel consumption costs. The specially designed Saturn 5 rockets were used to accomplish this feat, but their construction came with exorbitant expenses. In contrast, ISRO aims to strike a balance between efficiency and affordability,” remarked Srimathy Kesan, founder and CEO of Space Kidz India.<br> Wed Aug 02 17:24:06 IST 2023 chandrayaan-3-closes-in-on-moon-isro-releases-visuals-during-lunar-orbit-insertion <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday has successfully carried out the orbit reduction manoeuvre paving way for the Chandrayaan-3 mission to inch closer to the moon.</p> <p>The Chandrayaan-3 has successfully inserted into the lunar orbit on Saturday.</p> <p>The space agency said it will carry out the next operation on August 9.</p> <p>“The spacecraft successfully underwent a planned orbit reduction manoeuvre. The retrofiring of engines brought it closer to the moon's surface, now to 170 km x 4,313 km...The next operation to further reduce the orbit is scheduled for August 9, 2023, between 1300 and 1400 hrs IST,” ISRO tweeted on Sunday.</p> <p>Till August 17, there will be three more moon-bound manoeuvres before the landing module breaking away from the propulsion module.</p> <p>According to ISRO, de-orbiting manoeuvres will carried out on the lander before the final descent on the moon.</p> <p>The soft landing on the moon's surface is expected on August 23.</p> <p>Since the launch on July 14, ISRO has been lifting the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft into orbits away from the Earth in over five moves.</p> <p>Chandrayaan-3 is a follow-on mission to Chandrayaan-2 to demonstrate end-to-end capability in safe landing and roving on the lunar surface.</p> <p>The spacecraft comprises an indigenous propulsion module, a lander module and a rover to develop and demonstrate new technologies required for inter-planetary missions.</p> <p>Till 100 km of lunar orbit, the propulsion module will carry the lander and rover configuration.</p> <p>The propulsion module has a Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload to study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of the earth from the lunar orbit.</p> <p>The lander and rover have scientific payloads capable of carrying out experiments on the lunar surface.</p> <p>(With PTI inputs)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Aug 07 08:38:55 IST 2023 chandrayaan-3-successfully-inserted-into-lunar-orbit-isro <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The Chandrayaan-3 has successfully inserted into the lunar orbit, ISRO said on Saturday. The space agency said the next operation in the mission is scheduled for 11pm on Sunday.</p> <p>“<i>MOX, ISTRAC, this is Chandrayaan-3. I am feeling lunar gravity</i>,” ISRO tweeted. “Chandrayaan-3 has been successfully inserted into the lunar orbit. A retro-burning at the Perilune was commanded from the Mission Operations Complex, ISTRAC, Bengaluru. The next operation - reduction of orbit – is scheduled for Aug 6, 2023, around 23.00Hrs,” the space organisation said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The spacecraft's orbit was progressively increased five times after the Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon was launched on July 14. Chandrayaan-3 completed its orbits around the earth on August 1. According to ISRO, it would attempt soft-landing on the lunar surface on August 23.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the launch of Chandrayaan-3 on July 14, ISRO chief S. Somanath said, “We are expecting it to enter into lunar orbit by August 1 and two-three weeks from then, separation of propulsion module and lander module will happen on August 17. The final descent is currently planned for August 23, at 5.47pm IST. That is the plan if it goes as per the schedule&quot; he said.</p> Sat Aug 05 22:03:15 IST 2023 new-analysis-sheds-light-on-the-origins-of-indo-european-languag <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>New insights into the origin of Indo-European languages have been published in a study in the journal Science.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Two main theories are known to have dominated the origins debate - the 'Steppe' hypothesis and the 'Anatolian' or 'farming' hypothesis.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Steppe hypothesis proposes the origin to be in the Pontic-Caspian Steppe around 6000 years ago, while the farming one suggests an older origin tied to early agriculture around 9000 years ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Previous evolutionary analyses of Indo-European languages have come to conflicting conclusions about the age of the family, due to the combined effects of inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the datasets they used and limitations in the way that phylogenetic methods analyzed ancient languages.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany, used recently developed ancestry-enabled Bayesian phylogenetic analysis to test whether ancient written languages, such as Classical Latin and Vedic Sanskrit, were the direct ancestors of modern Romance and Indic languages, respectively.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Our chronology is robust across a wide range of alternative phylogenetic models and sensitivity analyses,&quot; said Russell Gray, senior author of the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Estimating the Indo-European family to be approximately 8100 years old, with five main branches already split off by around 7000 years ago, the analyses' results agreed entirely with neither the Steppe nor the Anatolian hypotheses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Recent ancient DNA data suggest that the Anatolian branch of Indo-European did not emerge from the Steppe, but from further south, in or near the northern arc of the Fertile Crescent as the earliest source of the Indo-European family. Our language family tree topology, and our lineage split dates, point to other early branches that may also have spread directly from there, not through the Steppe,&quot; said the study's first author, Paul Heggarty.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study authors have now proposed a new hybrid hypothesis for the origin of the Indo-European languages, with an ultimate homeland south of the Caucasus and a subsequent branch northwards onto the Steppe, as a secondary homeland for some branches of Indo-European entering Europe with the later Yamnaya and Corded Ware-associated expansions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Ancient DNA and language phylogenetics thus combine to suggest that the resolution to the 200-year-old Indo-European enigma lies in a hybrid of the farming and Steppe hypotheses,&quot; said Gray.&nbsp;</p> Wed Aug 02 14:09:20 IST 2023 amazing-journey-so-far-heres-chandrayaan-3s-message-as-it-enters-lunar-orbit-today <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India's ambitious lunar mission Chandrayaan-3 is gearing up for the next big step in its journey—entering the lunar orbit. The spacecraft has covered about two-thirds of the distance to the Moon since its launch on July 14, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said on Friday.</p> <p>The official Twitter page of the Chandrayaan-3 on Saturday shared an update on behalf of the mission. It stated: &quot;Hello! This is #Chandrayaan3 with a special update. I want to let everyone know that it has been an amazing journey for me so far and now I am going to enter the Lunar Orbit today (August 5, 2023) at around 19:00 hrs IST. To know where I am and what I'm doing, stay tuned!&quot;</p> <p>Since its launch from Sriharikota last month, the mission underwent a series of five orbit raises to gradually elevate the spacecrafts' orbit. on August 1 in a key manoeuvre—a slingshot move— the craft was sent successfully towards the moon from Earth's orbit.</p> <p>Following this trans-lunar injection, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft escaped from orbiting the Earth and began following a path that would take it to the vicinity of the moon.</p> <p>The Lunar Orbit Injection (LOI) is set for around 7 pm on Saturday. After this, the spacecraft will continue to orbit for a few days and get closer to the moon's surface, <a href="" target="_blank">experts said</a>. This allows the spacecraft to ensure it is positioned carefully before descending onto the lunar surface. </p> <p>The ISRO plans to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface on August 23.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 05 09:53:39 IST 2023 cosmic-clues-unravelled-new-map-of-the-universe-illuminates-dark <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Imagine gazing at the night sky and pondering the vastness of the cosmos. For generations, humans have looked to the heavens in awe, seeking answers to the mysteries of the universe. Today, science enthusiasts have reason to celebrate as a group of dedicated scientists has unveiled an extraordinary new map of the universe, shining light on the enigmatic forces that shape its evolution. Brace yourself for a journey through the cosmos as we delve into the captivating discoveries that challenge our understanding of the cosmos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As we venture further into the cosmos, we find that the universe is far more than meets the eye. The captivating discoveries from the cosmic map challenge our assumptions and beckon us to explore the realms of the unknown. With every precise measurement, science enthusiasts eagerly await the next chapter in this thrilling cosmic saga. Until then, we bask in the mystery of the cosmos, knowing that every secret unveiled brings us closer to understanding the grand tapestry of our universe.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Puzzling beginnings</b></p> <p>Nearly 13 billion years ago, the universe burst into existence with the Big Bang, launching all matter outward in a dazzling cosmic explosion. Gradually, this matter cooled and condensed, giving birth to stars, galaxies, and planets. Unraveling the story of the universe's early days is akin to assembling a complex puzzle, and scientists need a vast amount of data to do it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Cosmic cartography</b></p> <p>Meet the cosmic cartographers - a team of over 150 researchers, including scientists from the University of Chicago and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Their groundbreaking work combines data from two influential telescope surveys: the Dark Energy Survey and the South Pole Telescope. By blending different approaches to observe the sky, they offer a more robust and precise measurement of the universe's matter distribution.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Unveiling the hidden universe</b></p> <p>Peering deep into the cosmos, the researchers used a powerful technique known as gravitational lensing. As light travels through space, it bends when encountering massive objects like galaxies. This bending effect, called gravitational lensing, can unveil both normal matter and its mysterious sibling, dark matter. The latter makes up an astounding 85% of the universe's mass and remains invisible to traditional detection methods. Gravitational lensing, however, reveals its hidden presence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amidst the excitement of cosmic revelations, a peculiar observation emerged. The universe's matter distribution appears less &quot;clumpy&quot; than expected, challenging our current understanding. Could there be something amiss in our existing cosmological model? This tantalizing clue fuels the hunt for answers and points to the possibility of an unseen aspect of the cosmos. Scientists cautiously explore the idea, waiting for more surveys and data to solidify the puzzle pieces.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The enigma of dark matter and dark energy</b></p> <p>Cosmology's grandest enigmas are dark matter and dark energy, the elusive twins that dominate our universe's composition. Dark matter's invisible grasp on galaxies holds the cosmos together, while dark energy relentlessly propels its expansion. Together, they account for a staggering 96% of the universe, yet their identities remain shrouded in mystery.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the continued uncertainty, scientists remain steadfast in their quest for knowledge. Precision cosmology pushes forward, exploring the properties of dark matter and dark energy with unwavering dedication. Future surveys and observatories hold the promise of unlocking new cosmic secrets, propelling us closer to understanding the universe's origins and ultimate fate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Aug 02 12:26:43 IST 2023 ai-tool-gpt-3-demonstrates-undergraduate-level-reasoning-abiliti <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Researchers have found GPT-3 to possess reasoning capabilities akin to college undergraduate students. In a study, conducted by researchers at the University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA), the artificial intelligence large language model (LLM) was put to the test, solving complex reasoning problems, which are often used by colleges and universities worldwide for admission decisions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The UCLA researchers presented GPT-3 with challenging shape prediction tasks and asked it to answer SAT analogy questions, all the while ensuring that the AI had never encountered these specific problems before. To establish a fair comparison, 40 UCLA undergraduate students were also asked to solve the same problems.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In an impressive display of its prowess, GPT-3 achieved a remarkable success rate, accurately solving 80% of the shape prediction problems. This surpassed the average score of just below 60% achieved by the human participants, with some of them obtaining their highest scores. The results have left the research team astounded, highlighting the AI's ability to tackle complex reasoning tasks with exceptional efficiency.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>GPT-3's performance in the SAT analogy questions further solidified its prowess, successfully providing answers to challenges that typically measure a person's capacity for logical thinking and problem-solving. The researchers were fascinated to witness the AI's capability to adapt to new scenarios and display its reasoning abilities on par with college students.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This breakthrough discovery has significant implications for the field of artificial intelligence and education. As GPT-3 continues to prove its mettle in solving complex problems, its potential applications in various industries and academic settings are likely to expand further.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Surprisingly, not only did GPT-3 do about as well as humans but it made similar mistakes as well,&quot; said UCLA psychology professor Hongjing Lu, senior author of the study published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In solving SAT analogies, the AI tool was found to perform better than the humans' average score. Analogical reasoning is solving never-encountered problems by comparing them to familiar ones and extending those solutions to the new ones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The questions asked test-takers to select pairs of words that share the same type of relationships. For example, in the problem &quot;'Love' is to 'hate' as 'rich' is to which word?,&quot; the solution would be &quot;poor&quot;.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, in solving analogies based on short stories, the AI did less well than students. These problems involved reading one passage and then identifying a different story that conveyed the same meaning.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Language learning models are just trying to do word prediction so we're surprised they can do reasoning,&quot; Lu said. &quot;Over the past two years, the technology has taken a big jump from its previous incarnations.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Without access to GPT-3's inner workings, guarded by its creator, OpenAI, the researchers said they were not sure how its reasoning abilities worked, that whether LLMs are actually beginning to &quot;think&quot; like humans or are doing something entirely different that merely mimics human thought.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This, they said, they hope to explore.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;GPT-3 might be kind of thinking like a human. But on the other hand, people did not learn by ingesting the entire internet, so the training method is completely different.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We'd like to know if it's really doing it the way people do, or if it's something brand new - a real artificial intelligence - which would be amazing in its own right,&quot; said UCLA psychology professor Keith Holyoak, a co-author of the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With inpust from PTI)</p> Wed Aug 02 11:51:34 IST 2023 voyager-2-nasa-hears-signal-from-probe-spacecraft-after-mistakenly-cutting-contact <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>NASA's Deep Space Network has picked up signals from Voyager 2 in interstellar space billions of miles away. The space agency lost contact with the spacecraft after it was sent wrong commands, accidentally.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“NASA's Deep Space Network, giant radio antennas across the globe, picked up a heartbeat signal, meaning the 46-year-old craft is alive and operating,” project manager Suzanne Dodd said in an email Tuesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The news buoyed our spirits,” Dodd said. The antennas of Voyager 2 got tilted after flight controllers at NASA accidentally sent a wrong command. The contact got severed after the antenna tilted away from Earth. Due to this, the spacecraft has stopped receiving signals or sending data.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Flight controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California will now try to turn Voyager 2's antenna back toward Earth. If the command doesn't work and controllers doubt it will, they'll have to wait until October for an automatic spacecraft reset. The antenna is only 2 per cent off-kilter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“That is a long time to wait, so we'll try sending up commands several times&quot; before then, Dodd said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>BBC reported that Voyager 2 has been unable to receive commands or send back data to NASA's Deep Space Network since July 21. According to reports, it takes more than 18 hours for a signal to reach Earth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Voyager probes were designed to explore Jupiter and Saturn by taking advantage of the rare alignment of outer planets, which occurs about every 176 years.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Voyager 2 rocketed into space in 1977, along with its identical twin Voyager 1, on a quest to explore the outer planets. Still communicating and working fine, Voyager 1 is now 15 billion miles (24 billion kilometres) from Earth, making it the most distant spacecraft from Earth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Voyager 2 trails its twin in interstellar space at more than 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometres) from Earth. It is the only spacecraft ever to fly by Neptune and Uranus, BBC reported.</p> <p>(With PTI inputs.)</p> Tue Aug 01 20:07:47 IST 2023 stunning-double-supermoon-display-to-grace-august-skies <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <ul> <li>Two supermoons to grace August skies: Witness the moon appear up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter.</li> <li>First supermoon peaks on August 2: Watch the stunning spectacle for nearly three days.</li> <li>Rare blue moon on August 31: A second full moon in the same month, a once-in-a-blue-moon event</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Skygazers and space enthusiasts are in for a celestial treat this August as not one but two supermoons are set to light up the night sky. A supermoon is a breathtaking phenomenon that occurs when a full moon coincides with its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, resulting in a larger and brighter appearance. This rare event is expected to captivate observers around the world.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Supermoon phenomenon explained</b></p> <p>A full moon occurs when the near side of the moon is fully illuminated by the sun in the night sky, which typically happens once a month. However, not all full moons are equal. Supermoons, also known as perigean full moons, happen when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth (perigee) while being in the full phase. This unique alignment causes the moon to appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a full moon at its farthest distance from our planet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The moon's elliptical orbit is responsible for the variation in its distance from Earth, resulting in supermoons occurring several times a year. While some argue that the term &quot;supermoon&quot; is somewhat overused, it is commonly used to describe full moons that come within at least 90 percent of their perigee.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Impact of supermoons on Earth</b></p> <p>Beyond their captivating beauty, supermoons have a notable impact on Earth's oceans. The moon's physical closeness during this event can cause higher tides, known as perigean spring tides. These tides occur when the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun align, leading to stronger tidal forces. While this effect may not be directly perceptible to most people, it can have implications for coastal areas and marine life.</p> <p><b>How to observe the supermoon</b></p> <p>Witnessing the supermoon is an awe-inspiring experience, and there are various ways to enjoy this celestial show. The best time to observe the supermoon is during moonrise or moonset, when it appears larger and more striking against the horizon. Warm summer nights provide an ideal opportunity to watch the full moon rise in the eastern sky within minutes of sunset, creating an impressive sight as it towers over the landscape.</p> <p>Observing the supermoon with the naked eye is a remarkable experience, but using binoculars or a telescope can further enhance the view. Through these instruments, observers may be able to discern lunar features such as lunar maria, which are dark plains formed by ancient volcanic lava flows, and rays emanating from lunar craters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>When to watch the supermoon</b></p> <p>As August unfolds, celestial enthusiasts can look forward to witnessing the dazzling display of two supermoons, a rare and captivating event. These grand lunar spectacles, occurring at the moon's closest approach to Earth, will offer a magnificent sight for skywatchers around the globe.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The first supermoon of August will peak on August 2</b> (Wednesday) from 12:02 a.m. IST onwards. It will be visible for almost three days, beginning Monday and extending until early Thursday.</p> <p><b>The second supermoon, a rare blue moon, will appear on August 31</b> at 7:06 a.m. IST. Being the second full moon in the same calendar month, it holds a special distinction and won't occur again until January 2037.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Aug 01 14:09:44 IST 2023 earth-future-at-stake-can-we-prevent-a-rogue-planet-destiny- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In the vast expanse of space, trillions of &quot;rogue planets&quot; drift without a home, untethered to any star. Also known as interstellar, orphan, or nomad planets, these enigmatic celestial bodies roam freely through the galaxy, far outnumbering planets that orbit stars. But how are they formed, and could Earth ever face a similar fate?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What are rogue planets?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rogue planets are captivating loners that do not orbit around a star, unlike typical planets. These &quot;nomads of the galaxy&quot; were likely born around stars in the early stages of their existence but were flung away, abandoned by their parent stars. As they wander through space, they remain hidden and challenging to detect due to their constant motion and lack of light emission.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The formation of rogue planets remains a mystery, but scientists have proposed a couple of explanations. Smaller planets have weaker gravitational bonds with their parent stars, making it more likely for them to be flung out of their orbits. Another theory suggests that some of these isolated planets may have formed as failed attempts at becoming stars themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Could the Earth become a rogue planet?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In about 5 billion years, the Sun will enter its death throes, growing brighter and hotter. Roughly 500 million years from now, Earth will endure unbearable heat, making its future uncertain. However, there is a potential way to save our planet from this disastrous destiny.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our descendants could theoretically raise Earth's orbit, keeping it at a safe distance from the intensifying Sun. This process would require transferring energy from Jupiter's orbit to Earth using gravitational interactions. However, such a delicate maneuver could go awry, leading to Earth escaping the solar system and becoming a rogue planet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Earth might not transform into a rogue planet due to natural processes, its future faces potential challenges as the Sun ages.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Surviving on a rogue earth</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If the Earth were to become a rogue planet, we would face eternal darkness and plummeting temperatures. The atmosphere would chill catastrophically, endangering life as we know it. Yet, scientists believe internal heat would still be present, allowing for the possibility of volcanic activity and hot springs. Nevertheless, survival would be a formidable challenge without sunlight for sustenance.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Aug 01 12:16:35 IST 2023 why-india-can-afford-to-wait-and-watch-before-regulating-ai <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>India should not rush with a comprehensive law that might become outdated quickly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's position on regulating AI has swung between extremes from no regulation to regulation based on a risk-based, no-harm approach.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In April this year, the Indian government said it would not regulate AI to help create an enabling, pro-innovation environment which could possibly catapult India to global leadership in AI-related tech.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, just two months later the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology indicated India would regulate AI through the Digital India Act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Taking a U-turn from the earlier position of no-regulation, minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said: Our approach towards AI regulation or indeed any regulation is that we will regulate it through the prism of user harm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a labour intensive economy like India, the issue of job losses because of AI replacing people is relatively stark.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the minister claimed: While AI is disruptive, there is minimal threat to jobs as of now. The current state of development of AI is task-oriented, it cannot reason or use logic. Most jobs need reasoning and logic which currently no AI is capable of performing. AI might be able to achieve this in the next few years, but not right now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Such an assessment seems only partially correct because there are many routine, somewhat low-skill tasks that AI can perform. Given the preponderance of low-skill jobs in India, their replacement by AI can have a significant and adverse impact on employment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Drafts of the upcoming Digital Personal Data Protection Bill 2023 leaked in the media suggest that personal data of Indian citizens may be shielded from being used for training AI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It seems this position was inspired by questions US regulators have posed to Open AI about how it scraped personal data without user consent. If this becomes law though it is hard to see how this can be implemented because of the way training data is collected and used the deemed consent that allows such scraping of data in the public interest will cease to exist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Indian government's position has clearly evolved over time. In mid-2018, the government think tank, Niti Aayog, published a strategy document on AI. Its focus was on increasing India's AI capabilities, reskilling workers given the prospect of AI replacing several types of jobs and evolving policies for accelerating the adoption of AI in the country.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The document underlined India's limited capabilities in AI research. It therefore recommended incentives for core and applied research in AI through Centres of Research Excellence in AI and more application-focused, industry-led International Centre(s) for Transformational Artificial Intelligence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It also proposed reskilling of workers because of the anticipated job losses to AI, the creation of jobs that could constitute the new service industry and recognising and standardising informal training institutions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It advocated accelerating the adoption of AI by creating multi-stakeholder marketplaces. This would enable smaller firms to discover and deploy AI for their enterprises through the marketplace, thus overcoming information asymmetry tilted in favour of large companies that can capture, clean, standardise data and train AI models on their own.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It emphasised the need for compiling large, annotated, dynamic datasets, across domains possibly with state assistance which can then be readily used by industry to train specific AI.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In early 2021, the Niti Aayog published a paper outlining how AI should be used responsibly. This set out the context for AI regulation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It divided the risks of narrow AI (task-focused rather than a general artificial intelligence) into two categories: direct system impacts and the more indirect social impacts arising out of the general deployment of AI such as malicious use and targeted advertisements, including political ones.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>More recently, seven working groups were set up under the India AI programme by the government and they were to submit their reports by mid-June 2023. However, these are not available just yet.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These groups have many mandates creating a data-governance framework, setting up an India data management office, identifying regulatory issues for AI, evaluating methods for capacity building, skilling and promoting AI startups, guide moonshot (innovative) projects in AI and setting up of data labs. More centres of excellence in AI related areas are also envisaged.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Policy makers are excited about designing the India datasets programme its form and whether public and private datasets could be included. The aim is to share these datasets exclusively with Indian researchers and startups. Given the large population and its diversity, Indian datasets are expected to be unique in terms of the high range of training they could provide for AI models.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has also set up four committees on AI which submitted their reports in the latter half of 2019. These reports were focused on platforms and data on AI, leveraging AI for identifying national missions in key sectors, mapping technological capabilities, key policy enablers required across sectors, skilling and reskilling, and cyber security, safety, legal and ethical issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>India's position on regulating AI is evolving. It might, therefore, be worthwhile for the government to assess how AI regulatory mechanisms unfold elsewhere before adopting a definitive AI regulatory law.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The EU AI Act, for example, is still in the making. It gives teeth to the idea of risk-based regulation. The riskier the AI technologies, the more strictly would they be regulated.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>AI regulatory developments in the US also remain unclear. One major hurdle to AI regulation is that its evolution is so fast unanticipated issues keep arising. For instance, the earlier EU AI Bill drafts paid little attention to generative AI until ChatGPT burst on the scene.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It may be prudent for India to see how the regulatory ethos evolves in Europe and US rather than rush in with a comprehensive law that might become outdated quickly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Adopting the risk-based, no-harm approach is the right one to follow.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the most fundamental AI development is happening elsewhere. Instead of being worried about stifling innovation it might be prudent to prioritise cataloguing the specific negative AI-fallouts that India might face.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They could then be addressed either through existing agencies or develop specific regulations aimed at ameliorating the harm in question.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>( By Anurag Mehra, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)</p> Mon Jul 31 17:10:31 IST 2023 how-to-share-your-stories-using-whatsapp-s-new-video-messages-fe <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>WhatsApp, the popular messaging app owned by Meta, has introduced a brand new feature that allows users to record and share instant video messages with their friends and family. This latest addition aims to make communication more personal and engaging, letting users express themselves better by capturing their emotions in real-time videos.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>What's the buzz about?</b></p> <p>With the introduction of instant video messages, WhatsApp is taking conversations to a whole new level. Instead of just sending text or photos, you can now create short, 60-second video clips and share them directly in your chats or group conversations. It's like having a mini-movie studio right in your messaging app!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Get ready to embrace the fun!</b></p> <p>The instant video messages feature is already rolling out to WhatsApp users worldwide. If you don't see it yet, don't worry—it will be available to everyone in the coming weeks. So, get ready to capture your emotions, share your adventures, and connect with your friends and family like never before. Simply update your WhatsApp app, follow the steps, and let the video messaging magic begin!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How does it work?</b></p> <p>Using this fantastic feature is as easy as pie. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to record and share instant video messages:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Open WhatsApp: Launch the WhatsApp app on your smartphone. Make sure you have the latest version installed to access the new video messaging feature.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Choose a chat or group: Select the chat or group where you want to send your video message. It can be a one-on-one conversation or a fun group chat with your buddies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Switch to video mode: In the bottom right corner of the chat screen, you'll notice a small microphone button, usually used for sending voice messages. Tap and hold this button to switch to video mode.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Record Your Video: Hold the record button and start recording your personalized video message. You have up to 60 seconds to capture your emotions and share them with your loved ones. You can talk, laugh, sing, or simply show what's happening around you.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hands-Free Option: If you want to go hands-free, WhatsApp allows you to swipe up on the record button, locking the recording so you can record without holding the button continuously.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Send and Share: Once you're done recording, release the button. The video message will be instantly sent to your chat. Your friends will be notified about the new video, and they can watch it right away.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Why is this new feature awesome?</b></p> <p>WhatsApp's instant video messages offer a bunch of cool benefits that make chatting more fun and expressive:</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Real-Time Connection: With instant video messages, you can share your thoughts and emotions right as they happen, creating a sense of immediacy and authenticity.</p> <p>Personal Touch: By using video, you can convey emotions and expressions that might be challenging to express through text alone. Your loved ones can see your smile, hear your laughter, and feel more connected.</p> <p>No more saving to camera roll: Unlike before, you don't need to worry about saving videos to your phone's camera roll and then attaching them to messages. Now, everything is done within the app, saving you time and effort.</p> <p>End-to-end encryption: WhatsApp ensures that your video messages are protected with end-to-end encryption, making sure your private moments stay private.</p> Fri Jul 28 11:26:33 IST 2023 deep-dive-into-meta-s-algorithms-shows-that-america-s-political- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The powerful algorithms used by Facebook and Instagram to deliver content to users have increasingly been blamed for amplifying misinformation and political polarisation. But a series of groundbreaking studies published Thursday suggest addressing these challenges is not as simple as tweaking the platforms' software.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The four research papers, published in Science and Nature, also reveal the extent of political echo chambers on Facebook, where conservatives and liberals rely on divergent sources of information, interact with opposing groups and consume distinctly different amounts of misinformation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Algorithms are the automated systems that social media platforms use to suggest content for users by making assumptions based on the groups, friends, topics and headlines a user has clicked on in the past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While they excel at keeping users engaged, algorithms have been criticised for amplifying misinformation and ideological content that has worsened the country's political divisions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Proposals to regulate these systems are among the most discussed ideas for addressing social media's role in spreading misinformation and encouraging polarization. But when the researchers changed the algorithms for some users during the 2020 election, they saw little difference.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We find that algorithms are extremely influential in people's on-platform experiences and there is significant ideological segregation in political news exposure, said Talia Jomini Stroud, director of the Centre for Media Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the leaders of the studies. &quot;We also find that popular proposals to change social media algorithms did not sway political attitudes.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While political differences are a function of any healthy democracy, polarisation occurs when those differences begin to pull citizens apart from each other and the societal bonds they share. It can undermine faith in democratic institutions and the free press.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Significant division can undermine confidence in democracy or democratic institutions and lead to affective polarization, when citizens begin to view each other more as enemies than legitimate opposition. It's a situation that can lead to violence, as it did when supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To conduct the analysis, researchers obtained unprecedented access to Facebook and Instagram data from the 2020 election through a collaboration with Meta, the platforms' owners. The researchers say Meta exerted no control over their findings.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When they replaced the algorithm with a simple chronological listing of posts from friends an option Facebook recently made available to users it had no measurable impact on polarisation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>When they turned off Facebook's reshare option, which allows users to quickly share viral posts, users saw significantly less news from untrustworthy sources and less political news overall, but there were no significant changes to their political attitudes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Likewise, reducing the content that Facebook users get from accounts with the same ideological alignment had no significant effect on polarisation, susceptibility to misinformation or extremist views.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Together, the findings suggest that Facebook users seek out content that aligns with their views and that the algorithms help by making it easier for people to do what they're inclined to do,&quot; according to David Lazer, a Northeastern University professor who worked on all four papers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Eliminating the algorithm altogether drastically reduced the time users spent on either Facebook or Instagram while increasing their time on TikTok, YouTube or other sites, showing just how important these systems are to Meta in the increasingly crowded social media landscape.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In response to the papers, Meta's president for global affairs, Nick Clegg, said the findings showed there is little evidence that key features of Meta's platforms alone harmful 'affective' polarisation or has any meaningful impact on key political attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Katie Harbath, Facebook's former director of public policy, said they showed the need for greater research on social media and challenged assumptions about the role social media plays in American democracy. Harbath was not involved in the research.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People want a simple solution and what these studies show is that it's not simple, said Harbath, a fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Centre and the CEO of the tech and politics firm Anchor Change. To me, it reinforces that when it comes to polarization, or people's political beliefs, there's a lot more that goes into this than social media.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The work also revealed the extent of the ideological differences of Facebook users and the different ways that conservatives and liberals use the platform to get news and information about politics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Conservative Facebook users are more likely to consume content that has been labeled misinformation by fact-checkers. They also have more sources to choose from. The analysis found that among the websites included in political Facebook posts, far more cater to conservatives than liberals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Overall, 97 per cent of the political news sources on Facebook identified by fact-checkers as having spread misinformation were more popular with conservatives than liberals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The authors of the papers acknowledged some limitations to their work. While they found that changing Facebook's algorithms had little impact on polarization, they note that the study only covered a few months during the 2020 election, and therefore cannot assess the long-term impact that algorithms have had since their use began years ago.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They also noted that most people get their news and information from a variety of sources television, radio, the internet and word-of-mouth and that those interactions could affect people's opinions, too. Many in the United States blame the news media for worsening polarization.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To complete their analyses, the researchers pored over data from millions of users of Facebook and Instagram and surveyed specific users who agreed to participate. All identifying information about specific users was stripped out for privacy reasons.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lazer, the Northeastern professor, said he was at first sceptical that Meta would give the researchers the access they needed, but was pleasantly surprised. He said the conditions imposed by the company were related to reasonable legal and privacy concerns. More studies from the collaboration will be released in coming months.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There is no study like this, he said of the research published Thursday. There's been a lot of rhetoric about this, but in many ways the research has been quite limited.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(AP)&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 28 11:55:11 IST 2023 -genetics-uncover-the-evolution-of-human-walking <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The mystery behind how our ancient ancestors transitioned from knuckle-based scampering to upright walking has long intrigued scientists. Now, a pioneering study by researchers at Columbia University and the University of Texas has shed light on the genetic changes that paved the way for this momentous evolutionary shift. Through the innovative use of deep learning and genome-wide association studies, the researchers have created the first-ever map of the genomic regions responsible for the skeletal changes that enabled bipedalism, offering fascinating insights into our evolutionary journey.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Around 6 million years ago, a remarkable transformation occurred in the primate world when our ancestors started walking on two legs. This shift from quadrupedal to bipedal locomotion revolutionized our species, providing numerous advantages, such as increased adaptability to diverse environments and the freeing of hands to use tools. These changes eventually set the stage for the emergence of modern humans, shaping our evolution and cognitive development.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Genetic blueprint of bipedalism</b></p> <p>Thanks to cutting-edge technology, the researchers have finally deciphered the genetic blueprint behind this significant shift in locomotion. Employing a combination of deep learning and genome-wide association studies, the scientists analyzed over 30,000 full-body X-rays from the UK Biobank. This groundbreaking approach allowed them to standardize the X-rays, precisely measure skeletal features, and identify the regions of the genome responsible for the anatomical transitions that led to upright walking.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study's findings revealed that the genes driving the skeletal changes were under strong natural selection. This suggests that the transition to bipedalism offered early humans a clear evolutionary advantage, aiding in their survival and propagation. The genetic adaptations responsible for our upright posture were crucial milestones in our evolutionary history.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Beyond illuminating our past, the research also has practical implications for modern-day health. The study identified genetic variants and skeletal features associated with common arthritis conditions, such as hip, knee, and back arthritis. By understanding these associations, researchers can now work on devising new prevention and treatment strategies for these debilitating adult disabilities, potentially improving the lives of millions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Many of the genomic regions associated with skeletal development were found to be &quot;accelerated&quot; regions of the human genome, indicating that they rapidly evolved over time compared to the same regions in great apes. This intriguing revelation deepens our understanding of how genetic changes have played a pivotal role in shaping human characteristics and capabilities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study's successful integration of large-scale biobank data, advanced machine learning, and genomics showcases the power of interdisciplinary research in deciphering the mysteries of human health and evolution. This approach opens up new avenues for understanding the complex interplay between genetics and various traits, offering a broader perspective on our species' past and future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 27 16:27:11 IST 2023 chandrayaan-3-mission-isro-successfully-performs-5th-orbit-raising-manoeuvre <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ISRO on Tuesday successfully performed the fifth orbit-raising manoeuvre of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft from the ISRO facility in Bengaluru.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ISRO tweeted, “The orbit-raising manoeuvre (Earth-bound perigee firing) is performed successfully from ISTRAC/ISRO, Bengaluru.” ISTRAC is ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network of the space organization.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“ The spacecraft is expected to attain an orbit of 127609 km x 236 km. The achieved orbit will be confirmed after the observations. The next firing, the TransLunar Injection (TLI), is planned for August 1, 2023, between 12 midnight and 1am,” it tweeted.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>LVM3-M4 dubbed as 'Fat Boy' lifted off successfully carrying Chandrayaan-3 on July 14. An ISRO official told PTI that following the TLI, the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft would escape from orbiting the Earth and follow a path that would take it to the vicinity of the Moon. In other words, the spacecraft would begin its journey towards the Moon on August 1, after leaving the Earth's orbit following the TLI manoeuvre, which would place it on 'lunar transfer trajectory'. ISRO has said it would attempt soft-landing of the lander on the Moon's surface on August 23.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With PTI inputs.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 25 17:22:53 IST 2023 isro-successfully-launches-pslv-c56-places-7-singaporean-satellites-into-intended-orbit <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The ISRO successfully launched its PSLV-C56 rocket carrying seven Singaporean satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Sunday. The satellites have been placed into their intended orbits.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lift-off happened after a 25-hour countdown that commenced on Saturday. The 44.4-metre tall rocket lifted off from the first launch pad at the spaceport at 6.31 am. Twenty-three minutes after lift-off, the primary satellite got separated and it was followed by six other co-passenger satellites, which were deployed into the intended orbits sequentially, ISRO said.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&quot;PSLV-C56/DS-SAR Mission: The mission is successfully accomplished. PSLV-C56 vehicle launched all seven satellites precisely into their intended orbits. Thanks to @NSIL_India and Singapore, for the contract,&quot; a tweet by the space agency read.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&quot;After injecting all the Singapore satellites into the intended orbit at an altitude of about 536 km, the upper stage of the rocket will be placed in lower orbit to ensure its reduced orbital life at an altitude of about 300 km,&quot; ISRO said in a statement.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The PSLV-C56 / DS-SAR was the Dedicated Commercial Mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) for ST Engineering, Singapore. While DS-SAR, a Radar Imaging Earth Observation satellite, is the primary one, six other co-passenger customer satellites were also placed in orbit. The DS-SAR satellite carries a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload developed by Israel Aerospace Industries. This allows DS-SAR to provide for all-weather day-and-night coverage and is capable of imaging at 1-metre resolution.&nbsp;</p> <p>The DS-SAR satellite will be used to support the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies in Singapore.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>This is the 58th flight of PSLV and the 17th flight of PSLV in Core Alone configuration. The Core Alone version of the rocket means the vehicle would not use solid strap-on motors on its sides in the first stage as compared to other variants like PSLV-XL, QL, and DL which use six, four or two boosters, respectively.<br> </p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Co-passenger satellites</b><br> </p> <p>The co-passenger satellites are 1. VELOX-AM, a 23-kg technology demonstration microsatellite, 2. Atmospheric Coupling and Dynamics Explorer (ARCADE), an experimental satellite 3. SCOOB-II, a 3U nanosatellite flying a technology demonstrator payload, 4. NULloN by NuSpace, an advanced 3U nanosatellite enabling seamless Internet of Things connectivity in both urban and remote locations, 5. Galassia-2, a 3U nanosatellite that would be orbiting at low earth orbit and 6. ORB-12 STRIDER, a satellite developed under international collaboration.<br> </p> <p><b style="font-size: 0.8125rem;">Unique experiment</b><br> </p> <p>The ISRO said it will attempt a unique experiment using the fourth stage of the PSLV-C56 rocket. While the mission is a follow-up to the PSLV-C55 TeLEOS-2 mission launched in April this year, scientists in today's mission will try to place the fourth stage of the PSLV rocket in a lower orbit.<br> </p> <p>&quot;PS4 (fourth stage) will be de-orbited to Low Earth circular orbit in a 300x300 km, using left out propellants to reduce orbital life of spent PS4 stage,&quot; ISRO said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>In April, during the launch of PSLVC55 mission in April, scientists successfully performed another unique experiment where the fourth stage of the PSLV rocket was utilised as an orbital platform to carry out scientific experiments using the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) in the rocket.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With inputs from PTI)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sun Jul 30 08:07:57 IST 2023 gliding--not-searching--here-s-how-to-reset-your-view-of-chatgpt <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>ChatGPT has exploded in popularity, and people are using it to write articles and essays, generate marketing copy and computer code, or simply as a learning or research tool.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, most people don't understand how it works or what it can do, so they are either not happy with its results or not using it in a way that can draw out its best capabilities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I'm a human factors engineer. A core principle in my field is never blame the user.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately, the ChatGPT search-box interface elicits the wrong mental model and leads users to believe that entering a simple question should lead to a comprehensive result, but that's not how ChatGPT works.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike a search engine, with static and stored results, ChatGPT never copies, retrieves or looks up information from anywhere.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Rather, it generates every word anew. You send it a prompt, and based on its machine-learning training on massive amounts of text, it creates an original answer.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Most importantly, each chat retains context during a conversation, meaning that questions asked and answers provided earlier in the conversation will inform responses it generates later.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The answers, therefore, are malleable, and the user needs to participate in an iterative process to shape them into something useful.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Your mental model of a machine how you conceive of it is important for using it effectively.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To understand how to shape a productive session with ChatGPT, think of it as a glider that takes you on journeys through knowledge and possibilities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dimensions of knowledge</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can begin by thinking of a specific dimension or space in a topic that intrigues you. If the topic were chocolate, for example, you might ask it to write a tragic love story about Hershey's Kisses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The glider has been trained on essentially everything ever written about Kisses, and similarly it knows how to glide through all kinds of story spaces - so it will confidently take you on a flight through Hershey's Kisses space to produce the desired story.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You might instead ask it to explain five ways in which chocolate is healthy and give the response in the style of Dr. Seuss.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Your requests will launch the glider through different knowledge spaces chocolate and health toward a different destination a story in a specific style.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To unlock ChatGPT's full potential, you can learn to fly the glider through transversal spaces areas that cross multiple domains of knowledge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By guiding it through these domains, ChatGPT will learn both the scope and angle of your interest and will begin to adjust its response to provide better answers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, consider this prompt: Can you give me advice on getting healthy. In that query, ChatGPT does not know who the you is, nor who me is, nor what you mean by getting healthy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Instead, try this: Pretend you are a medical doctor, a nutritionist and a personal coach. Prepare a two-week food and exercise plan for a 56-year-old man to increase heart health.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With this, you have given the glider a more specific flight plan spanning areas of medicine, nutrition and motivation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you want something more precise, then you can activate a few more dimensions. For example, add in: And I want to lose some weight and build muscle, and I want to spend 20 minutes a day on exercise, and I cannot do pull-ups and I hate tofu.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ChatGPT will provide output taking into account all of your activated dimensions. Each dimension can be presented together or in sequence.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Flight plan</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The dimensions you add through prompts can be informed by answers ChatGPT has given along the way. Here's an example: Pretend you are an expert in cancer, nutrition and behaviour change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Propose 8 behaviour-change interventions to reduce cancer rates in rural communities. ChatGPT will dutifully present eight interventions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Let's say three of the ideas look the most promising. You can follow up with a prompt to encourage more details and start putting it in a format that could be used for public messaging: Combine concepts from ideas 4, 6 and 7 to create 4 new possibilities give each a tagline, and outline the details.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Now let's say intervention 2 seems promising. You can prompt ChatGPT to make it even better: Offer six critiques of intervention 2 and then redesign it to address the critiques.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ChatGPT does better if you first focus on and highlight dimensions you think are particularly important.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, if you really care about the behaviour-change aspect of the rural cancer rates scenario, you could force ChatGPT to get more nuanced and add more weight and depth to that dimension before you go down the path of interventions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You could do this by first prompting: Classify behaviour-change techniques into 6 named categories. Within each, describe three approaches and name two important researchers in the category.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This will better activate the behaviour-change dimension, letting ChatGPT incorporate this knowledge in subsequent explorations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>There are many categories of prompt elements you can include to activate dimensions of interest.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One is domains, like machine learning approaches. Another is expertise, like respond as an economist with Marxist leanings. And another is output style, like write it as an essay for The Economist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You can also specify audiences, like create and describe 5 clusters of our customer-types and write a product description targeted to each one.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Explorations, not answers</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>By rejecting the search engine metaphor and instead embracing a transdimensional glider metaphor, you can better understand how ChatGPT works and navigate more effectively toward valuable insights.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The interaction with ChatGPT is best performed not as a simple or undirected question-and-answer session, but as an interactive conversation that progressively builds knowledge for both the user and the chatbot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The more information you provide to it about your interests, and the more feedback it gets on its responses, the better its answers and suggestions. The richer the journey, the richer the destination.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is important, however, to use the information provided appropriately. The facts, details and references ChatGPT presents are not taken from verified sources.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>They are conjured based on its training on a vast but non-curated set of data. ChatGPT will generate a medical diagnosis the same way it writes a Harry Potter story, which is to say it is a bit of an improviser.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>You should always critically evaluate the specific information it provides and consider its output as explorations and suggestions rather than as hard facts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Treat its content as imaginative conjectures that require further verification, analysis and filtering by you, the human pilot.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(The Conversation: By James Intriligator, Professor of the Practice, Tufts University)&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 25 09:54:18 IST 2023 metals-found-to-self-heal-revolutionising-engineering-possibilit <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists from Sandia National Laboratories and Texas A&amp;M University have observed metals repairing themselves for the first time, overturning long-held scientific theories. This phenomenon, witnessed in the nanoscale cracks of copper and platinum, holds the potential to bring about an engineering revolution, where self-healing machines, bridges, and airplanes could reverse damage caused by wear and tear, significantly increasing their safety and longevity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Fatigue damage, caused by repeated stress or motion, is a major concern for industries worldwide, leading to unpredictable failures and costly replacements. However, the new research unveils that metals possess an intrinsic, natural ability to heal themselves in the nanoscale, a phenomenon known as &quot;cold welding.&quot; When subjected to repeated stress, microscopic cracks form within the metals, but under specific conditions, the crack flanks compress and weld back together, effectively healing the material.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Lead-author Brad Boyce, a materials scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, expressed his excitement, stating, &quot;This was absolutely stunning to watch first-hand. What we have confirmed is that metals have their own intrinsic, natural ability to heal themselves, at least in the case of fatigue damage at the nanoscale.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While self-healing materials, mostly plastics, have been previously developed, self-healing metals were considered a realm of science fiction until now. This discovery opens up vast possibilities, from creating self-repairing airplane wings to automotive suspensions, potentially saving billions of dollars lost to structural failures each year.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, before celebrating the prospect of Terminator-like robots, it's essential to understand that the self-healing mechanism works only on certain metals and at extremely small scales, for now. The research team observed cold welding in nano-size copper and platinum but hasn't yet explored other metals widely used in engineering applications, such as steel.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Furthermore, the process was studied within a vacuum to avoid interference from atmospheric atoms, leaving open questions about whether the self-healing would occur outside of such controlled conditions. The researchers are also uncertain if larger metals can exhibit the same self-repairing behavior as the nanoscale counterparts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite these uncertainties, the scientists remain cautiously optimistic about the potential applications of their discovery. They believe that this self-repair process might already be occurring to some extent in ordinary metals and alloys, particularly for subsurface cracks shielded from oxygen exposure.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research paper describing this groundbreaking discovery was published in the journal Nature on July 19, 2023.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The implications of this research could be far-reaching, paving the way for a new era of material engineering and design. If harnessed effectively, self-healing metals could revolutionize various industries and have a profound impact on spaceflight applications, where exposure to atmospheric particles is not a concern.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The prospect of self-healing metals has ignited excitement among engineers and scientists alike. As the researchers begin to understand the process better, they hope to explore intentional engineering approaches to implement self-healing metals in various structural applications, ushering in a future of safer, longer-lasting, and more resilient technologies.</p> Tue Jul 25 10:51:59 IST 2023 isro-successfully-conducts-tests-on-propulsion-system-for-gaganyaan-mission <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ISRO has successfully conducted two more tests on the propulsion system for the Gaganyaan mission. The &quot;hot tests&quot; on Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System (SMPS) were conducted at the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri, in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“These tests marked the second and third hot tests in the Service Module – System Demonstration model (SM-SDM) phase 2 test series,” ISRO said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Gaganyaan project envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400km for a three days mission and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters, according to ISRO. &quot;These tests will further validate and refine the performance of the propulsion system, ensuring its readiness for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission,&quot; it said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The first hot test was conducted on July 19, 2023. During the tests, the thrusters were operated in both continuous and pulse mode, in sync with the mission profile. The initial hot test which lasted for 723.6 s focussed on demonstrating Orbital Module injection and the calibration burn of 100 N thrusters and Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) engines. The calibration burn was essential to identify and isolate any non-operational engines,” it said. ISRO said that the LAM engines and reaction control system (RCS) Thrusters performed as expected.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The space agency said three more hot tests are scheduled, to demonstrate de-boosting requirements and off-nominal mission scenarios. It added, “The latter hot test, with a duration of 350 s, aimed to demonstrate the circularization of the Orbital Module to achieve the final orbit. During this test, the LAM engines operated in continuous mode, while the RCS Thrusters fired in pulse mode.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The SMPS was designed and developed by the Liquid Propulsion System Centre located at Bengaluru and Valiamala, Thiruvananthapuram. ISRO said that three more hot tests are scheduled to demonstrate de-boosting requirements and off-nominal mission scenarios. “These tests will further validate and refine the performance of the propulsion system, ensuring its readiness for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission,” it said in a statement.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With PTI inputs.)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 27 17:27:19 IST 2023 physics-of-cell-communication-scientists-decode-the-language-of- <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a groundbreaking study, researchers from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have unraveled the mysterious language of cell communication. By applying complex theoretical computer models, the interdisciplinary team led by ISTA Professor Edouard Hannezo has shed light on the intricate ways cells communicate and collaborate inside living tissues, opening up new possibilities for future applications in wound healing and beyond.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cells, it turns out, communicate through waves, much like humans exchanging signals. Imagine a bustling concert crowd; when one person moves, others nearby react, either moving in the same direction or pulling away in response. The same phenomenon occurs within a Petri dish, where cells appear static but are actually in constant motion, swirling and engaging in chaotic behaviors. This remarkable discovery was made possible through microscopic observation, revealing how information propagates and travels in waves, both mechanically and chemically.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To comprehend the mechanics of these cell interactions, Daniel Boocock, Hannezo, and long-term collaborator Tsuyoshi Hirashima devised a sophisticated theoretical model, which has been published in the prestigious journal PRX Life. The model captures the complex mechanical forces applied by cells to one another and their simultaneous biochemical activity, providing a comprehensive understanding of long-range cell-cell communication.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Through the model, the scientists sought to validate their previous theories about cell movement from one region to another. The computer simulations took into account cell motility and the material properties of the tissue, leading Boocock and Hannezo to uncover how cells communicate both mechanically and chemically while in motion. Remarkably, the model successfully replicated the observed phenomena in Petri dishes, confirming the theoretical basis of cell communication rooted in fundamental physical laws.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To test the model in real biological systems, Boocock and Hannezo collaborated with biophysicist Tsuyoshi Hirashima. They used 2D monolayers of MDCK cells, a specific type of mammalian kidney cells known for in vitro research. By inhibiting a chemical signaling pathway responsible for cells sensing and generating forces, the scientists observed that cell movement ceased, and communication waves halted. The model's versatility allows for adjustments to different components of the complex system, providing insights into tissue dynamics under varying conditions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This breakthrough research doesn't stop at understanding cell communication. Cellular tissue shares similarities with liquid crystals, combining the flow of a liquid with the ordered structure of a crystal. The researchers are eager to explore this liquid crystal-like behavior further and investigate its interplay with mechanochemical waves. Moreover, they are already optimizing the model for wound healing applications. Preliminary computer simulations have shown that by enhancing information flow within the tissue, healing processes can be accelerated, offering promising prospects for practical applications in the future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The potential of this research extends beyond Petri dishes, as the team envisions further investigations in 3D tissues or monolayers with complex shapes, akin to living organisms. By deciphering the intricate language of cell communication, this groundbreaking study paves the way for transformative advances in biology, medicine, and possibly, the treatment of various ailments within living organisms.&nbsp;</p> Mon Jul 24 12:27:44 IST 2023 why-brits-could-miss-out-on-access-to-mainstream-web-services <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Brits could potentially miss out on access to mainstream web services like FaceTime and iMessage due to proposed updates to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016 in the UK. The proposed changes would require messaging services to get approval from the Home Office for their security features before releasing them to the public. The Home Office would also have the authority to demand that certain security features be disabled without informing the public.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This has raised concerns among technology companies and privacy advocates. Apple, in particular, has threatened to remove its end-to-end encrypted communication services, FaceTime and iMessage, from the UK if the proposed changes are enforced. Other companies, such as WhatsApp and Signal, have also expressed opposition to similar measures in the past.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The main concern is that these proposed changes could lead to widespread surveillance of everyone's devices and potentially compromise data security and privacy. Critics argue that opening backdoors or weakening encryption could make users vulnerable to exploitation by adversaries, whether they are criminal or political entities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, there are fears that the proposed changes could impact the impending Online Safety Bill, leading to mandatory backdoors for end-to-end encryption, which has been strongly opposed by tech companies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The UK government has opened an eight-week consultation on the proposed amendments to the IPA. While the government claims the updates are meant to make the act more relevant to current technology and protect the public from criminals and terrorists, technology companies and privacy advocates are likely to resist the proposed measures, viewing them as intrusive and potentially harmful to user interests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 22 15:52:49 IST 2023 what-makes-aditya-l1-mission-to-sun-by-isro-special <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> India's first solar mission, ISRO's Aditya L1 spacecraft, named after one of the Sanskrit names of the Sun, will be launched by the PSLV-XL launch vehicle on August 26, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC SHAR) in Sriharikota. It will be launched into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) around 800 km from the Earth's surface. The spacecraft will perform a 'Surya Namaskar' (salutation to the Sun) as it orbits around a special point called Lagrange point 1 (L1), which is about 93 million miles or 149 million kilometers away from the Sun. <br> <br> This mission will be the first of its kind to study and research the Sun's atmosphere, its environment, and everything related to it. The 1,500 kg spacecraft will carry special equipment called payloads to study different parts of the Sun's atmosphere. <br> <br> “Out of the seven payloads the satellite carries to study different parts of the Sun, including its outer layer (the corona), four look directly at the Sun from a special position called L1, while the other three study particles and fields at the same point. These studies help us learn about how solar activity affects the space between planets. The Aditya L1 payloads' suits are expected to provide crucial information about various aspects of the Sun, like coronal heating, coronal mass ejections, pre-flare and flare activities, space weather dynamics, and the movement of particles and fields,” explained Girish Linganna, Space and Aerospace expert. <br> <br> The L1 point is one of the most important Lagrangian points, found by mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange. It is located about 1.5 million kilometers inside Earth's orbit, between the Sun and the Earth. “At these points, the gravitational forces between two objects balance out or have a neutral gravity point, making it possible for spacecraft to stay in one place without using much fuel. These spots are like parking spaces in space that spacecraft can use to stay in one place without using much fuel. It is like finding a stable spot in a river where the water flows in a way that keeps you in the same spot without paddling,” added Linganna. <br> <br> According to Linganna, out of the five Lagrange points, three are not very steady, and two are stable. The unstable ones, called L1, L2, and L3, are found along the line connecting the two big masses. The stable ones, known as L4 and L5, form the tips of two equal-sided triangles with big masses at their corners. L4 is ahead of Earth's orbit, and L5 is behind it. <br> <br> “The L1 point of the Earth-Sun system gives a clear view of the sun all the time, without any occultation/ eclipses and it is where the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Satellite (SOHO) is located,” explained Linganna. <br> <br> Aditya L1, is also known as Aditya-Lagrange Point 1. After reaching the LEO, the satellite will be maneuvred using its onboard thrusters. “A series of earth burn elliptical orbital maneuvers is conducted to raise its orbit towards the L1 Lagrange point to surpass the earth's gravitational pull. The estimated time required to reach the L1 Lagrange point is around 109 days,” said Dr. T.N. Suresh Kumar, former senior scientist at ISRO. <br> <br> Once the Aditya L1 mission reaches the L1 Lagrange point, it will be injected to a halo orbit. “A halo orbit is a type of orbit that allows the satellite to remain in a stable position between the Earth and the Sun. The satellite will use its onboard scientific instruments to study the dynamics of Sun's chromosphere and corona, its magnetic field, and its solar flares, solar wind etc. The data collected by the Aditya L1 mission will help scientists to understand better about the Sun and its impact on Earth,” Kumar told THE WEEK. <br> <br> The Aditya L1 mission will use its onboard thrusters to increase its orbital height and exit from the earth's gravitational influence, then it will cruise on a coasting path towards L1. This method is adopted to have the best propulsion efficiency to conserve the propellant. Once the spacecraft reaches a distance of approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, it will be inserted into a halo orbit. <br> The onboard thrusters on the Aditya spacecraft are small rocket engines that use its onboard computer to control the spacecraft's attitude and orbit till the end of life of the mission. The Aditya L1 mission will always be in reduced Earth gravitational pull, as it will be located in the L1 Lagrange point. The L1, L2, and L3 Lagrange points are colinear, meaning that they lie along the line connecting the Earth and the Sun. The L4 and L5 Lagrange points are 60 degrees apart, located 60 degrees ahead and behind the Earth in its orbit around the Sun. <br> <br> “The Aditya L1 mission is a complex and challenging task, but it has the potential to provide valuable insights into the Sun and its impact on Earth. The mission is expected to have a life of around 4 to 5 years,” said Kumar.&nbsp; Fri Jul 21 17:56:15 IST 2023 earth-new-chapter-scientists-unveil-evidence-of-anthropocene-epo <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A group of scientists has unveiled evidence that Earth has entered a new geological chapter known as the Anthropocene epoch. The Anthropocene Working Group, consisting of hard-rock geologists and experts from various disciplines, has been labouring since 2009 to answer a crucial question: Has human activity had a lasting impact significant enough to mark a clear geological boundary in Earth's history?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Anthropocene epoch is an unofficial unit of geological time that describes the most recent chapter in our planet's history, characterised by the profound influence of human activities on the climate and ecosystems. The epoch's defining features include increased fossil fuel consumption, nuclear weapons tests, and widespread deforestation. The proposal to formally adopt the Anthropocene must pass several stages of validation before becoming an official part of Earth's geological timeline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Anthropocene Working Group concluded that the Anthropocene epoch began in the middle of the 20th century. This period witnessed a sharp surge in greenhouse gas concentrations, microplastic pollution, invasive species, radioactive traces from atom bomb testing, and other markers of humanity's growing influence, collectively termed the &quot;Great Acceleration.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the key pieces of evidence supporting the Anthropocene is found at Crawford Lake, a deep body of water in Canada's Ontario province. The lake's layered sediments have recorded over a thousand years of environmental history, providing undeniable proof of humanity's adverse impact on the planet since the mid-20th century.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the proposal to recognise the Anthropocene as an official geological epoch faces challenges. The Anthropocene Working Group's recommendations must undergo scrutiny and validation by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Some geologists remain skeptical, and there is debate over whether the Anthropocene meets the technical criteria for inclusion in Earth's official 4.6-billion-year timeline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the resistance, the Anthropocene epoch has gained significant support among scientists. The recognition of this new chapter in Earth's history marks a paradigm shift, acknowledging that humans have not only significantly altered the planet's morphology, chemistry, and biology but are also aware of the consequences of their actions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Anthropocene Working Group's findings aim to highlight the urgent challenges humanity faces due to its environmental impact. From rising temperatures to failing ecosystems, the Anthropocene brings into sharp focus the need for immediate action to mitigate and adapt to these changes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 20 13:48:22 IST 2023 scientists-unveil-method-to-power-devices-using-air-humidity <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A groundbreaking discovery in the field of renewable energy has brought us one step closer to harnessing electricity from the air we breathe. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have successfully developed a technology called hygroelectricity, which can generate electricity from nothing but humid air. This concept, first explored by famed physicist Nikola Tesla, has been the subject of scientific inquiry for decades. Now, thanks to recent advancements, it seems that this dream of obtaining power from thin air could become a reality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The journey to discovering the potential of hygroelectricity began when a humidity sensor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst surprisingly started generating electrical signals without being plugged into a power source. Intrigued by this phenomenon, researchers led by Jun Yao decided to delve deeper into the possibilities of harnessing electricity from air humidity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The discovery of hygroelectricity marks a significant step forward in the pursuit of clean and renewable energy sources. By tapping into the vast reservoir of energy provided by air humidity, scientists may have unlocked a solution that could power our devices sustainably and continuously. As research continues, the dream of generating electricity from thin air, once envisioned by Nikola Tesla, could finally become a reality, paving the way for a greener and more sustainable future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How it Works:</b></p> <p>The key to harvesting electricity from humid air lies in a tiny device comprising two electrodes and a thin layer of material filled with nanopores. These nanopores, each less than 100 nanometers in diameter, allow water molecules from the air to pass through the device. As these molecules move from an upper chamber to a lower chamber, they interact with the edges of the nanopores, leading to a buildup of electric charge imbalances between the chambers. This process effectively transforms the device into a miniature battery, generating continuous electricity.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Researchers liken the device to a small-scale, man-made cloud. Just as clouds create electrical charges and give rise to lightning bolts during storms, this revolutionary device converts air humidity into usable electricity. The potential applications are vast, ranging from powering miniature computers and sensors to providing sustainable energy sources for remote locations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the most significant advantages of this technology is its versatility. Unlike other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, air humidity is continuously available, making it a sustainable reservoir of energy. Moreover, this technology can be applied to a wide range of materials, including wood and silicon, as long as they possess the required nanopores. This breakthrough dramatically increases its potential for broad deployment and scalability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the concept of harvesting electricity from air humidity is both promising and fascinating, some challenges lie ahead. Currently, the fingernail-sized device can only produce electricity equivalent to a fraction of a volt. Researchers acknowledge that scaling up the technology to meet practical energy demands is a significant hurdle. Investors and experts are eager to see more concrete data on power output and cost-effectiveness before fully embracing this revolutionary energy source.</p> Thu Jul 20 10:47:00 IST 2023 facebook-parent-meta-makes-public-its-chatgpt-rival-llama <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Facebook parent company Meta Platforms has built an artificial intelligence system that rivals the likes of ChatGPT and Google's Bard but it's taking a different approach: releasing it for free.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company is partnering with Microsoft to introduce the next generation of its AI large language model and making the technology, known as LLaMA 2, free for research and commercial use.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Much like tech peers Google and Microsoft, the social media company has long had a big research team of computer scientists devoted to advancing AI technology. But it's been overshadowed as the release of ChatGPT sparked a rush to profit off of generative AI tools that can create new prose, images and other media.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meta has also tried to distinguish itself by being more open than some of its Big Tech rivals about offering a peek at the data and code it uses to build AI systems. It has argued that such openness makes it easier for outside researchers to help identify and mitigate the bias and toxicity that AI systems pick up by ingesting how real people write and communicate.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Open source drives innovation because it enables many more developers to build with new technology, Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post Tuesday. It also improves safety and security because when software is open, more people can scrutinize it to identify and fix potential issues. I believe it would unlock more progress if the ecosystem were more open, which is why we're open sourcing Llama 2.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zuckerberg pointed to Meta's history of open-sourcing its AI work, such as with its development of the widely used machine-learning framework PyTorch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zuckerberg said people can download its new AI models directly or through a partnership that makes them available on Microsoft's cloud platform Azure along with Microsoft's safety and content tools.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The financial terms of that partnership were not disclosed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While Microsoft is described by Meta as a preferred partner, Meta said the models will also be available through Amazon Web Services, which is Microsoft's main cloud rival, as well as AI startup Hugging Face and others.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Microsoft is also a major funder and partner of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. Neither ChatGPT nor similar offerings from Microsoft or Google are open source.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(AP)&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jul 19 16:19:08 IST 2023 norway-becomes-first-to-restrict-meta-s-behavioral-advertising <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Norway's Data Protection Authority, known as Datatilsynet, has taken a significant step to safeguard users' privacy by temporarily banning behavioural advertising on Facebook and Instagram, both owned by Meta, the parent company. This decision comes as a response to the recent ruling by the EU's Court of Justice (CJEU), which found Meta's behavioural advertising practices to be incompatible with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ban will be in effect from August 4 for a period of three months, during which Meta's platforms will not be allowed to engage in behavioural advertising in Norway. If Meta fails to comply with the legal requirements, it could face fines of up to €88,600 per day.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Datatilsynet's head, Tobias Judin, stated that commercial surveillance for marketing purposes poses a significant threat to data protection on the internet. The ban is aimed at giving users in Norway greater control over their data and protecting their rights. With a considerable number of Norwegians using Facebook (82%) and Instagram (65%), the authority felt the need for urgent action.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>How Does the Ban Affect Users? It's important to note that the ban does not mean Facebook and Instagram will be blocked in Norway. Rather, the goal is to ensure that these services can be used securely while protecting users' privacy rights. Personalized advertising based on information provided by users in their profiles, such as location, gender, and age, will still be permitted. The decision only targets behavioural advertising, which relies on hidden tracking and profiling.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Behavioural advertising is a practice used by companies to show targeted ads to individuals based on their online behavior. It involves extensive data collection, tracking, and profiling to create detailed profiles of users, including their interests, preferences, and even personal information. Behavioural advertising has raised concerns about limited freedom of expression, potential discrimination, and interference in democratic processes. By using tracking and profiling, advertisers can manipulate what users see, leading to biased information and potentially reinforcing stereotypes. The targeting of political ads based on behavioural data is particularly worrisome from a democratic standpoint.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>With Meta's European headquarters based in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission typically oversees the company in the European Economic Area (EEA). However, Norway's Data Protection Authority can intervene directly in cases of urgency, leading to the temporary ban. The authority is also considering seeking input from the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) after the summer to decide on further measures.&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meta, previously known as Facebook, has expressed disagreement with the Norwegian Data Protection Authority's decision. The company retains the right to challenge the ban in the Oslo District Court.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The ban on behavioural advertising will serve as a precedent in Europe, and it remains to be seen how other countries and regulators will respond to Meta's data-driven business practices. Meanwhile, the Irish Data Protection Commission is also investigating Meta's advertising practices and is expected to reach a decision on the matter in mid-August.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jul 19 15:48:01 IST 2023 scientists-discover-game-changing-superconductor-for-quantum-com <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Physicists at the Macroscopic Quantum Matter Research Group, School of Physics, University College Cork, have unveiled a new type of superconductor that could pave the way for transformative advancements in quantum computing. This cutting-edge material, called uranium ditelluride (UTe2), exhibits remarkable properties that might address one of the most significant challenges in quantum computing, opening up a new frontier for future technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Understanding Superconductors: Power Without Resistance</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Before delving into the exciting breakthrough, let's grasp the concept of superconductors. Superconductors are extraordinary materials that behave remarkably at extremely low temperatures. They possess the remarkable property of zero electrical resistance, meaning electricity can flow through them without any loss of energy or heat generation. This phenomenon was discovered in 1911 by Dutch physicist Kamerling-Ohnes and has since played a crucial role in various industries and technologies, including quantum computing and energy-related applications.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Superconductors operate on a principle called Cooper pairing, where electrons bind together in pairs. These paired electrons form what is known as a macroscopic quantum mechanical fluid. The intriguing part is that, contrary to their natural repulsion, these electron pairs exhibit an attractive interaction when they become Cooper pairs, thanks to quantum mechanics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>A new frontier in quantum computing</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the long-standing challenges in quantum computing involves the stability of qubits, which are the basic units of quantum information. Unlike classical bits, which can hold either a 0 or 1 value, qubits can exist in a superposition, representing both 0 and 1 simultaneously. This property allows quantum computers to store vast amounts of data and solve complex problems with unprecedented speed.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, a major hurdle lies in the vulnerability of qubits to disturbances. In existing quantum computers, qubits are often easily disrupted, rendering them unstable and leading to errors during computation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>UTe2: The key to quantum computing's future?</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Enter uranium ditelluride (UTe2), a new superconductor that researchers believe could revolutionize quantum computing. Through the use of advanced quantum microscopy techniques, scientists at the Macroscopic Quantum Matter Group made a significant discovery: Cooper pairs in UTe2 demonstrate behavior reminiscent of classical rotation but on a quantum mechanical level.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This observation has garnered considerable excitement in the scientific community as it suggests that UTe2 may belong to a unique class of superconductors, known as topological superconductors. These materials possess special properties that enable qubits to be remarkably resilient to external disturbances, addressing the stability issue that has limited the practical application of quantum computers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The promise of topological quantum computing</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Topological quantum computing represents a promising avenue for developing highly stable and powerful quantum computers. In topological superconductors, qubits can exist for extended periods without collapsing into their lowest energy state, effectively preserving quantum states during computations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If UTe2 indeed belongs to this exclusive category of superconductors, it could become a game-changer in the world of quantum computing. The discovery has already sparked significant interest, with major players in the technology industry, like Microsoft, investing heavily in topological quantum computing research.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Unraveling the mysteries of UTe2</b></p> <p>While the discovery of UTe2's remarkable properties is a major milestone, there is still much to uncover about this extraordinary material. Scientists will continue to study its fundamental superconducting properties, laying the groundwork for the development of more practical and stable quantum computers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the world moves closer to unlocking the full potential of quantum computing, researchers at the Macroscopic Quantum Matter Research Group and beyond remain committed to solving the remaining pieces of the UTe2 puzzle. With each step forward, we inch closer to a future where quantum computers could reshape industries, revolutionize technology, and tackle challenges that have eluded classical computers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The discovery of UTe2 represents not only a triumph in fundamental science but also offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of quantum computing. As we unravel the secrets of these exotic superconductors, the future of computing might be forever transformed.</p> Wed Jul 19 09:46:16 IST 2023 urban-birds-adapt-magpies-use-anti-bird-spikes-to-build-nests <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Some birds have been spotted using anti-bird spikes to construct their nests, turning the tables on their intended purpose. A recent study led by biologist Auke-Florian Hiemstra and his team at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, Netherlands, has shed light on this fascinating behavior, highlighting how Eurasian magpies (Pica pica) repurpose the sharp bird-deterrent strips to ward off other birds and safeguard their nests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study originated when a patient in Antwerp, Belgium, captured an image of a magpie nest adorned with over 1,500 long, sharp antibird spikes. Intrigued by this peculiar sight, the photo was sent to Hiemstra, who subsequently embarked on a quest to investigate further. The team collected the nest and discovered four more similar nests across cities in the Netherlands and Scotland.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While carrion crows (Corvus corone) incorporated the spikes into the structural framework of their nests, Hiemstra believes that magpies used the spikes as a defensive measure against other birds. Magpies, known for their relatively small size, typically construct domed roofs over their nests to protect their eggs and hatchlings from avian predators. In urban environments where spiny vegetation is scarce, magpies have adapted by using available materials such as nails, screws, and now, antibird spikes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The incorporation of anti-bird spikes into magpie nests is seen as the ultimate manifestation of the Anthropocene era, where humans' creations inadvertently become part of the natural world. These spikes, originally designed to deter birds from landing on buildings, have now become a means for magpies to fortify their nests.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers' findings have generated fascination among the scientific community, with praise for their citizen science approach. However, some experts caution that further experimentation and field observations are needed to definitively establish the purpose of the spikes in magpie nests. Zuzanna Jagiełło, an ecologist at the University of Warsaw, believes that the current study is a starting point for deeper exploration of this phenomenon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hiemstra has already received reports of other nests incorporating anti-bird spikes, suggesting that this behavior may be more widespread than previously thought. The accumulation of more nests could provide an opportunity to investigate whether the spikes enhance the survival rates of young magpies residing in these uniquely fortified homes.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the scientific significance of the findings, Hiemstra can't help but find humor in the situation. He describes it as &quot;the perfect comeback of the birds,&quot; highlighting the irony of birds repurposing anti-bird defenses to protect themselves.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 18 15:16:57 IST 2023 political-apathy-spreads-from-parents-to-adolescent-children <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Political apathy is growing in democracies around the world. Political apathy, also known as political alienation, describes feelings of separation and disaffection, a sense of powerlessness and an indifference to politics and political institutions. A hallmark of political alienation is a refusal to vote or participate in political activities. Adolescents and young adults are no exception to these trends. In many countries in Europe and North America, the youngest voters have the lowest participation rates.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Why are new voters so apathetic about politics? Many factors are at play. However, a new study from researchers at Florida Atlantic University focused on one of the most salient: parent attitudes about politics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, indicates that political disaffection spreads from parents to children. Specifically, parent political alienation predicted subsequent increases in adolescent child political alienation one year later for youth who described relationships with parents as warm, but not for those who described relationships with parents as distant.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Put simply, in households where parents and adolescents are close, parents transmit political apathy to their adolescent children, which may have the unfortunate consequence of contributing to low political participation among young voters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In this study, 571 German adolescents (314 girls, 257 boys), along with their mothers and their fathers, each completed questionnaires describing their own political alienation at two time points, approximately one year apart. In addition, adolescents completed questionnaires describing their perceptions of warmth in relationships with parents. Adolescents were in grades six, eight and 10 at the outset.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Mothers and fathers did not differ in terms of influence. Both were equally important in shaping adolescent attitudes about politics. Influence was a one-way street: adolescents did not contribute to the political alienation of either parent.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The findings from this new study are important because they point to a potentially promising new avenue of raising political participation among young voters: targeting the political attitudes of those with whom they are close, particularly their parents.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The logic is straightforward,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., senior author and a psychology professor in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. “Children who are close to their parents are more likely to identify with them and are more receptive to messages from them about politics. We listen to those we like, we engage them in dialogue, we identify with them and we emulate their behaviors.”&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Political alienation reflects distrust and a lack of confidence in political systems and political figures. Political disaffection can be challenging for democracies as politically alienated citizens tend not to vote. When elections are decided by a small portion of the electorate, disaffection grows, which can further drive down turnout in a vicious cycle. It is difficult to change attitudes about politics. Many politically disaffected young adults continue to refrain from voting and political participation as they get older.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Findings from this study also are a reminder that parent influence is a double-edged sword.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The results of our study matter because despite the rising importance of friends and peers, many forms of adolescent behavior remain highly susceptible to parent influence,” said Laursen. “We like to think of parents as positive socialization agents, and typically they are. But bad habits and bad attitudes also can spread from parents to children, and parents should be alert to this possibility. Some parents underestimate their importance. Children are watching and listening, even during late adolescence. They take cues from parents, particularly in families that are close-knit and warm. Attitudes toward politics are just another example of the many ways that parents exert a profound and lasting impact on the lives of their children.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>-</p> Tue Jul 18 11:17:46 IST 2023 fusion-rocket-engine-set-to-propel-spacecraft-at-unprecedented-s <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Pulsar Fusion, a British aerospace startup, is making significant strides in the development of a groundbreaking fusion rocket engine that could revolutionise space travel. By harnessing the power of nuclear fusion, the same process that fuels the Sun, the company aims to propel spacecraft at unparalleled speeds, potentially reaching up to 800,000 km per hour. This ambitious project has the potential to cut travel time to Mars in half and open up unprecedented opportunities for human exploration of distant planets and celestial bodies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the key challenges in long-duration space missions is the detrimental impact of microgravity and cosmic radiation on astronaut health. To mitigate these risks, NASA has been striving to reduce mission durations to less than four years. However, with current rocket propulsion technology, it takes around seven months to reach Mars alone, leaving a significant portion of the mission dedicated to the arduous journey back to Earth.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pulsar Fusion's fusion rocket presents a solution to this problem. By utilizing the immense energy released during fusion reactions, the company aims to create exhaust speeds capable of propelling spacecraft at an astounding 800,000 km per hour. For comparison, the fastest a crewed rocket has ever flown is 39,897 km per hour. This tremendous acceleration could potentially enable round trips to the outer planets and facilitate expeditions to witness the rings of Saturn or explore the moons of Jupiter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The concept of fusion, which occurs when two atoms merge, has long been pursued as a clean energy solution due to its ability to generate vast amounts of energy without harmful emissions. While scientists have successfully triggered fusion reactions briefly, sustaining them has proven to be a considerable challenge.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pulsar Fusion's approach involves creating a fusion rocket that can sustain the fusion reaction. Interestingly, the vacuum of space might provide favorable conditions for maintaining the turbulent plasma at fusion temperatures. If successful, this fusion rocket could drastically reduce travel times within the solar system, potentially allowing trips to Mars and back in a matter of weeks rather than months or years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Pulsar Fusion has recently formed a partnership with aerospace R&amp;D company Princeton Satellite Systems (PSS) to leverage artificial intelligence in modeling the behavior of hot plasma in a fusion rocket engine. Additionally, the company has commenced the construction of an eight-meter fusion reaction chamber in the UK, with plans to initiate firing tests by 2025 and achieve fusion temperatures by 2027. The ultimate goal is to conduct a test firing in orbit, demonstrating the viability of fusion-powered propulsion for future space exploration.</p> Mon Jul 17 15:15:10 IST 2023 the-timekeeper-within-new-discovery-on-how-the-brain-judges-time <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>From Aristotle’s musings on the nature of time to Einstein’s theory of relativity, humanity has long pondered: how do we perceive and understand time? The theory of relativity posits that time can stretch and contract, a phenomenon known as time dilation. Just as the cosmos warps time, our neural circuits can stretch and compress our subjective experience of time. As Einstein famously quipped, “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In new work from Champalimaud Research’s Learning Lab published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists artificially slowed down, or sped up, patterns of neural activity in rats, warping their judgement of time duration and providing the most compelling causal evidence so far for how the brain’s inner clockwork guides behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In contrast to the more familiar circadian clocks that govern our 24-hour biological rhythms and shape our daily lives, from sleep-wake cycles to metabolism, much less is known about how the body measures time on the scale of seconds to minutes. The study focused precisely on this seconds-to-minutes timescale at which much of our behaviour unfolds, whether you’re waiting at a stop light or serving a tennis ball.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>The Population Clock Hypothesis</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike the exact ticking of a computer’s centralised clock, our brains maintain a decentralised and flexible sense of time, thought to be shaped by the dynamics of neuronal networks dispersed across the brain. In this “population clock” hypothesis, our brains keep time by relying on consistent patterns of activity evolving in groups of neurons during behaviour.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Joe Paton, the study’s senior author, likens this to dropping a stone into a pond. “Each time a stone is dropped, it creates ripples that radiate outward on the surface in a repeatable pattern. By examining the patterns and positions of these ripples, one can deduce when and where the stone was dropped into the water”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Just as the speed at which the ripples move can vary, the pace at which these activity patterns progress in neural populations can also shift. Our lab was one of the first to demonstrate a tight correlation between how fast or slow these neural ‘ripples’ evolve and time-dependent decisions”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers trained rats to distinguish between different intervals of time. They found that activity in the striatum, a deep brain region, follows predictable patterns that change at different speeds: when animals report a given time interval as longer, the activity evolves faster, and when they report it as shorter, the activity evolves more slowly.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, correlation does not imply causation. “We wanted to test whether variability in the speed of striatal population dynamics merely correlates with or directly regulates timing behaviour. To do that, we needed a way to experimentally manipulate these dynamics as animals reported timing judgements”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Unravelling Time with Temperature</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Never throw away old tools”, smiles Tiago Monteiro, one of the study’s lead authors. To establish causation, the team turned to an old-school technique in the neuroscientist’s toolbox: temperature. “Temperature has been used in previous studies to manipulate the temporal dynamics of behaviours, such as bird song. Cooling a specific brain region slows down the song, while warming speeds it up, without altering its structure. It’s akin to changing the tempo of a musical piece without affecting the notes themselves. We thought temperature could be ideal as it would potentially allow us to change the speed of neural dynamics without disrupting its pattern”.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>To test this tool in rats, they developed a custom thermoelectric device to warm or cool the striatum focally, while simultaneously recording neural activity. In these experiments, the rats were anaesthetised, so the researchers employed optogenetics - a technique that uses light to stimulate specific cells - to create waves of activity in the otherwise dormant striatum, much like dropping the stone into the pond. Notes co-lead author Margarida Pexirra, “We were careful not to cool the area too much, as it would shut down activity, or warm it too much, risking irreversible damage”. They found that indeed cooling dilated the pattern of activity, while warming contracted it, without perturbing the pattern itself.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Temperature then gave us a knob with which to stretch or contract neural activity in time, so we applied this manipulation in the context of behaviour”, says Filipe Rodrigues, another lead author in the study. “We trained animals to report whether the interval between two tones was shorter or longer than 1.5 seconds. When we cooled the striatum, they were more likely to say a given interval was short. When we warmed it, they were more likely to say that it was long”. For example, heating up the striatum sped up striatal population dynamics, similar to accelerating the movement of a clock’s hands, causing the rats to judge a given time interval as being longer than it really was.</p> Mon Jul 17 11:40:57 IST 2023 climate-change-us-stands-firm-declines-financial-reparations-for <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>In a recent hearing before the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, US climate envoy John Kerry unequivocally stated that the United States would not pay reparations to developing countries that have suffered from climate change-induced disasters. The announcement comes two days before Kerry holding talks Monday with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The call for major economies, particularly those responsible for the highest greenhouse gas emissions, to financially compensate developing nations affected by climate-related catastrophes has been growing louder. At the COP27 conference held in Egypt last year, over 200 countries reached an agreement to establish a loss and damage fund, primarily funded by developed nations, to provide assistance to particularly vulnerable countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the specifics of the fund, including the exact financial contributions from wealthier nations and the distribution of funds, remain unclear. Various meetings have been held throughout the year to address these outstanding issues.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Developing nations, which bear a disproportionate burden of climate change impacts, have insisted on guaranteed compensation from developed countries. They argue that historically high greenhouse gas emissions from wealthier nations are responsible for climate change and its consequences. While richer nations acknowledge the need for greater financial contributions to tackle climate change, the term &quot;reparations&quot; has been deemed contentious and divisive by some.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Critics contend that the finance targets proposed to address climate change are insufficient, exacerbating the frustration of developing countries seeking meaningful support. These nations maintain that the scale of financial assistance should reflect the extent of damage caused by climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the congressional hearing, Kerry reaffirmed the US stance, stating that the country would not, &quot;under any circumstances,&quot; provide reparations to countries affected by climate-fueled disasters. The US government, along with other developed nations, had insisted on adding a footnote to the COP27 agreement, explicitly excluding liability for past emitters and compensation for disaster-stricken countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As discussions continue and preparations are made for this year's UN climate conference, COP28, scheduled to take place in Dubai, tensions surrounding the issue of climate reparations remain high. The international community faces the challenge of finding common ground on the extent of financial responsibility owed by wealthier nations, as well as the mechanisms for distributing funds to those most in need.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the world grapples with the escalating effects of climate change, the refusal of the United States to provide climate reparations further deepens the divide on this critical issue, raising concerns about the ability to achieve meaningful global climate action.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Mon Jul 17 11:08:56 IST 2023 chandrayaan-3-first-orbit-raising-manoeuvre-successfully-performed-says-isro <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation successfully performed the first orbit raising manoeuvre of the Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on Saturday, the space agency said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The health of the spacecraft was &quot;normal&quot;, ISRO said in a social media post.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chandrayaan-3 is now in an orbit, which when closest to Earth is at 173 kilometres and farthest from Earth is at 41,762 km.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Chandrayaan-3 Mission update: The spacecraft's health is normal. The first orbit raising manoeuvre (Earthbound firing-1) was successfully performed at ISTRAC/ISRO, Bengaluru. Spacecraft is now in 41762kms x 173kms orbit,&quot; Bengaluru-headquartered ISRO said and shared the image of the spacecraft that is expected to make several manoeuvres ahead of its final descent to land on the south pole of the Moon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>ISRO, on July 14, successfully launched the third edition of its lunar exploration programme from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, aimed at making a soft landing on the unexplored south pole of the Moon that would help India achieve a rare feat.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Only three countries -- the United States, China and Russia -- have managed to land on the lunar surface so far.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Earlier in the day, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre S Unnikrishnan Nair said scientists at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru would be engaged in the firing of the onboard thrusters attached to Chandrayaan-3 from Saturday onwards, taking the spacecraft further away from Earth on a crucial 41-day phase to make the soft landing on Moon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Today onwards, the onboard thrusters will be fired and Chandrayaan-3 will be taken away from Earth for an eventful landing on Moon's surface on August 23,&quot; Nair said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The vehicle system has performed extremely well. Because of that, whatever the initial conditions the spacecraft needed, we have provided very precisely,&quot; he told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Following the successful launch of LVM3-M4 rocket carrying Chandrayaan -3, its project director P Veeramuthuvel had said on Friday that ISRO would be closely monitoring and controlling the spacecraft from ISTRAC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Many critical events are lined up, starting from Earth-bound manoeuvres, insertion into lunar orbit and separation of lander, a set of deboost manoeuvres, and finally the power descent phase for a soft landing (on the lunar surface),&quot; Veeramuthuvel said.&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 15 22:52:06 IST 2023 understanding-time-may-be-the-key-to-the-race-against-climate-ch <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Something has to change. Politicians and environmental organisations have invested millions trying to influence people's behaviour and tackle the climate crisis. But it's not working. No G20 country is on track to meet their climate goals.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>So instead, researchers are turning their attention to the link between people's perception of time and the action they take on climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>One of the main areas researchers are exploring is how people interpret the vast time scales needed to comprehend climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People represent their life experiences on a mental timeline of past, present and future. But that timeline is not as straight as you might think. The nature of an event can influence how close or far into the past or future someone perceives it to be.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Traumatic past events can seem nearer in time, or more present, than neutral events. However, people seem to take the threat of negative events they anticipate in the distant future less seriously and perceive them as less risky compared to events closer to the present.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>It's happening in your back yard</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>People who have suffered directly from climate change through floods, fires and extreme heat, often perceive the climate crisis as part of their present. However, people whose lives are just beginning to be touched by climate change perceive the time distance to be large. The crisis is still in their future.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This doesn't mean people won't act unless their homes are devastated by extreme weather. But now-focused communication strategies that are highly localised may encourage more people to act.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>We should be tailoring adverts to show how climate change is affecting people in their city, their local beauty spots, and how this is happening right now.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Warping our sense of time</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Clocks and calendars are systems to measure, record and manage time, which makes time seem like an objective concept. But research shows our experience of time is subjective, like our mental timeline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, our sense of time changes as we age, often resulting in the sensation of time passing more quickly as we get older. Thoughts, feelings and actions affect our experience of time too.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It typically passes quickly when we are busy, happy and engaged, and slowly when we are sad, bored and isolated. This means we may be more perceptive to climate messaging depending on our mood and what's going on in our lives.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Our experience of time's cadence varies too. Some of the main rhythms include linear (I'm only getting older), cyclic (it's Monday again), progressive (look how much I've learned) and degenerative (we're hurtling toward the end times).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Researchers are trying to understand whether apocalyptic talk sparks action or nihilism. It's worth considering whether people would be more engaged in climate action if we framed the present as the bottom of a cycle, that, with the right intervention, can set humanity on a new upward swing, rather than a march toward Armageddon.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Context is everything</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Culture also influences how people perceive time. Close your eyes and imagine a mental timeline of past, present and future. Is the past on the left or the right?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you grew up in a left-right reading and writing household, chances are the past is on the left and the future is on the right. If you grew up in a right-left reading and writing household the past will be on the right and the future on the left.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Similarly, while in some cultures the future is always ahead, for others the direction of the flow of time depends on the direction someone is facing. For example, Pormpuraawans', an Aboriginal Australian group, represent time as flowing from left to right if facing south, but right to left if facing north.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Metaphors for time, such as keep moving forwards, are not universal, which means you can't create a global public messaging system.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time feels different depending on who you are, where you come from and what you happen to be doing. While many people are motivated to engage in environmentally friendly behaviour, we need to frame time in a more informed and nuanced way if we want more people to change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Time is precious</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Time is scarce. Digital technology is speeding up the pace of life for many people and hustle-culture means some groups view busyness as an indicator of success.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While sorting recycling may only take a few minutes, you need to feel like you have those minutes to spare. So we need to focus on reducing the time burden associated with environmentally friendly behaviour. We should be researching how to make this behaviour take less time.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The solution may be a societal change. This may mean a switch from productivity driven models of time, in which time is money and free time is rare, to a softer relationship with time to open up space in our schedules.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A shift to a slower pace of life may also provide the time to reconnect with nature and notice the impact of the climate crisis in our own back yards.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Together, these changes may help to bring climate awareness into people's present day, increasing the urgency to act, and preserving the planet for generations to come.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(The Conversation: By Ruth Ogden, Reader in Experimental Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University)&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 15 14:09:06 IST 2023 fishing-gear-plastic-found-to-cause-most-of-coral-reef-plastic-p <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Fishing gear plastic formed nearly three-quarters of the plastic debris documented through underwater visual surveys of coral reefs across the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans, new research published in the journal Nature said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Revealing the extent of plastic pollution on coral reefs, an international team of researchers from the California Academy of Sciences (US), University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), University of Oxford (UK), and other collaborators found that debris increased with depth and is correlated with proximity to marine protected areas.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The team conducted more than 1,200 visual surveys across 84 shallow and mesophotic reef ecosystems located in 14 countries. Mesophotic, or 'twilight zone', coral reefs exist between 30 and 150 metres deep.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Of the total debris, 88 per cent was macroplastics larger than about five centimetres.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Human-derived debris was found in nearly all locations studied, including some of the planet's most remote and pristine coral reefs, such as those adjacent to uninhabited islands in the central Pacific.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The lowest density of plastic pollution was seen in the Marshall Islands, a coral island group in eastern Micronesia (Oceania), while the highest was recorded at Comoros, an island chain off the southeast coast of Africa, at nearly 84,500 items per square kilometre.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study found coral reefs to be more contaminated by plastics than other marine ecosystems that were evaluated, and that the contamination, increasing with depth, peaked in the mesophotic zone.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It was surprising to find that debris increased with depth since deeper reefs in general are farther from sources of plastic pollution,&quot; said Luiz Rocha, Academy curator of ichthyology, and senior author on the study.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Fishing gear, which even as debris continues to catch marine life through what we call ghost fishing, appears to contribute a large proportion of the plastic seen on mesophotic reefs,&quot; said co-author Lucy Woodall, associate professor in marine conservation biology and policy at University of Exeter, UK.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Unfortunately, fishing gear debris is often not reduced by general waste management interventions; therefore specific solutions related to the needs of fishers should be considered, such as no-charge disposing of damaged gear in ports or individually labelling gear to ensure fishers take responsibility for misplaced equipment,&quot; said Woodall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;From macroplastics that spread coral diseases to fishing lines that entangle and damage the structural complexity of the reef, decreasing both fish abundance and diversity, pollution negatively impacts the entire coral reef ecosystem,&quot; said Hudson Pinheiro, the study's lead author and a biologist at the University of Sao Paulo.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;As marine resources around the world dwindle, humans that rely on those resources are turning to deeper habitats and those closer to marine protected areas where fish remain abundant,&quot; said Pinheiro.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The researchers hoped that conservation efforts can be redirected to better protect and ensure a thriving future for Earth's coral reefs.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;The results of our global study shine a light on one of the many threats that deep reefs face today,&quot; said study author and University of Oxford marine biologist Paris Stefanoudis. &quot;Because these ecosystems are ecologically and biologically unique, much like their shallow-water cousins, they need to be conserved and explicitly considered in management plans.&quot;&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 15 09:03:30 IST 2023 chandrayaan-3-final-countdown-begins-why-are-countdowns-so-significant-in-rocket-launches <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>As the final countdown for the Chandrayaan-3 began today for India's third moon mission, all are eagerly waiting for the big show tomorrow when ISRO's LVM3-M4/CHANDRAYAAN-3 MOON&nbsp; MISSION takes off at 2. 35 pm. Currently, the propellant filling is in progress while the Mission Readiness Review for the launch has been completed and the board has authorised the launch.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>But why is it that the launch countdown holds such importance?&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As per space experts, the launch countdown sequence is a sequential series of tasks and procedures that occur before liftoff. These activities involve tasks like fueling, testing systems, preparing the spacecraft, allowing the crew to enter (if necessary), and the final countdown. This all leads to the ignition and liftoff of the launch vehicle.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Countdowns are implemented to decrease the likelihood of overlooking critical aspects that cannot be rectified once a rocket is launched. Additionally, the countdown serves as a vital timekeeping mechanism. They are also essential in ensuring that various sequential processes in rocket launches occur in the correct order. For instance before initiating the inertial guidance, the rocket must first undergo fueling, and before relying on its own batteries, thorough checks are necessary. Countdowns are frequently managed by computers capable of sequencing and verifying numerous events. These advanced systems can promptly notify launch controllers or halt the countdown if any critical issues arise,” explained space and aerospace expert Girish Linganna.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Experts point out that certain spacecrafts have strict time constraints for liftoff in order to reach their desired destinations. For instance, the Apollo moon landings could only take off within a narrow time frame on a specific day each month to land at their intended target. Similarly, interplanetary missions have specific launch windows as well. Even flights to the International Space Station, whether crewed or for resupply purposes, often have what is referred to as 'instantaneous launch windows'.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“If the rocket fails to launch at the exact minute, the flight is rescheduled for the next available window, usually the following day. The reason behind this is that launching outside of the designated window would require additional time and fuel for the spacecraft to rendezvous with the ISS. Besides this there are certain tasks that require additional time and preparation beyond what is indicated by the clock. For instance, the pumping and appropriate chilling of fuels or waiting for the weather to improve may be necessary. The amount of time needed for these tasks can vary, which is why countdowns often include planned breaks called &quot;built-in holds.&quot; These holds allow all controllers to complete their work before proceeding further in the countdown. The Space Shuttle serves as an example of a crewed mission that implemented built-in holds,” added Linganna.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Countdowns also serve as a precautionary measure to protect against unforeseen weather conditions or unexpected events caused by individuals. Apart from launch controllers, the involvement of a Range Safety Officer and weather officers is crucial. The Range Safety Officer consistently monitors the surroundings for any unauthorised aircraft or boats that could potentially enter the designated zone where rocket stages or a malfunctioning rocket might fall. Similarly, weather officers closely observe changes in wind patterns and cloud formations that could potentially defy launch regulations.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“The countdown also serves as a method for the launch teams to synchronize their actions, ensuring that checklists are completed and everything is verified to be in proper order. For instance the launch center computers establish communication with sensors located within the rocket, which continuously monitor crucial systems on both the launch vehicle and payload. Security personnel ensure that individuals who are not authorised are not able to enter the restricted area labeled as the 'keep-out' zone,” said Linganna.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In earlier times, a manual checklist was used that outlined the necessary steps to be completed prior to liftoff. It was a document that detailed the required actions to be taken before initiating the launch process. During that period, an individual was assigned to carry out each step of the checklist. The presence of a master countdowner was crucial since watches were not highly accurate during that time.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>From around 1960 onwards however the entire process became computer-controlled, with humans serving as backup for the ABORT buttons.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 13 20:54:48 IST 2023 isros-first-human-spaceflight-programme-receives-major-boost-with-chandrayaan-3-success <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>The historic launch of India's third Moon mission, <a href="" target="_blank">Chandrayaan-3</a> on-board LVM3-M4 rocket has given a major fillip to the country's first human spaceflight programme as the same launch vehicle with 'human rated' capability, would be used for the ambitious Gaganyaan mission.</p> <p>The Bengaluru-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation is busy working on its flagship project, Gaganyaan, which envisages the demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching a crew of three members to an orbit of 400kms for 3 days and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in sea waters.</p> <p>According to scientists at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, here, the 44.3 metre tall LVM3 rocket which carried the Chandrayaan-3 on July 14, would be the launch vehicle with 'human rated' capability.</p> <p>The heavy lift launcher of ISRO, consists of three stages—solid stage, liquid stage and cryogenic stage. For the Gaganyaan programme, LVM3 rocket is re-configured to meet the human rating requirements and has been christened as 'Human Rated LVM3', ISRO said and it would be capable of launching the Orbital Module to an Low Earth Orbit of 400kms.</p> <p>On Friday, the LVM3-rocket carrying Chandrayaan-spacecraft soared majestically and performed the operations as planned, officials said, indicating the reliability of the launch vehicle. LVM-3 is the heavy lift launch vehicle of ISRO for achieving a 4,000 kg spacecraft launching capability to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.</p> <p>The LVM3 rocket is a three-stage launch vehicle consisting of two solid propellant S200 strap-ons and core stages consisting of L110 liquid stage, C25 cryogenic stage.</p> <p>ISRO Chairman S Somanath said the first abort mission for Gaganyaan would be conducted by the end of August. ISRO has planned to launch an unmanned mission to orbit by the end of next year.</p> <p>The test vehicle is currently ready here and the scientists are engaged in the assembly work of the crew module and crew escape system.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Sat Jul 15 13:39:40 IST 2023 universe-could-be-twice-as-old-as-currently-estimated-to-be--new <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Our universe could be twice as old as current estimates, according to a model proposed by a new study from the University of Ottawa, Canada.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Our newly-devised model stretches the galaxy formation time by a several billion years, making the universe 26.7 billion years old, and not 13.7 as previously estimated,&quot; said study author Rajendra Gupta, adjunct professor of physics in the Faculty of Science at the university.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research team said that their model challenges the dominant cosmological models of calculating our universe's age, which largely involve measuring the time elapsed since the Big Bang and studying the oldest stars based on the redshift of light coming from distant galaxies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Redshift refers to an observed elongating of wavelength of light from distant galaxies, generally interpreted as evidence of the universe expanding.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2021, the current or standard cosmological model, called the Lambda-CDM concordance model, estimated the age of our universe to be 13.797 billion years old.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Lambda-CDM model assumes that the universe was created in the &quot;Big Bang&quot; from pure energy, and is now composed of about 5 per cent ordinary matter, 27 per cent dark matter, and 68 per cent dark energy.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>However, the discovery of evidence of 'early' galaxies in advanced stages of cosmological evolution by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope and the existence of stars like the Methuselah, one of the oldest stars known, has puzzled many scientists.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These 'early' galaxies, whilst surprisingly small in size and said to exist a mere 300 million years or so after the Big Bang, have been observed to possess a level of maturity and mass typically associated with billions of years of cosmic evolution, which the researchers of this study say is insufficiently explained by the standard model.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Tired light theory, proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in 1929, is a class of hypothetical redshift mechanisms proposed as an alternative explanation for the observed redshift of light from distant galaxies.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Zwicky suggested that the redshift came from photons losing their energy by means of interacting with matter or other photons as they travel vast distances through a 'static' universe. However, his theory too was found to conflict with observations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Gupta, through this study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, found that &quot;by allowing this theory to coexist with (that of) the expanding universe, it becomes possible to reinterpret the redshift as a hybrid phenomenon, rather than purely due to expansion.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Along these lines, Gupta suggested the idea of evolving &quot;coupling constants&quot;, an idea originally hypothesised by Paul Dirac, the British theoretical physicist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Coupling constants are fundamental physical constants that influence material interactions between subatomic particles.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to Dirac, these constants might have varied over time and thus, allowing them to evolve extends the timeframe for the formation of early galaxies observed by the Webb telescope from a few hundred million years to several billion years.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This provides a more feasible explanation for the advanced level of development and mass observed in these ancient galaxies, the study said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Further, Gupta suggested that the traditional interpretation of the &quot;cosmological constant&quot;, which represents the dark energy responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe, needed revision.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>He said that this modification in the cosmological model helps address the puzzle of small galaxy sizes observed in the early universe, allowing for more accurate observations.&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 13 16:11:17 IST 2023 climate-change-alters-ocean-colours-impacting-marine-life-and-hu <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Scientists have discovered that our oceans are changing colour due to the effects of climate change, and these shifts could have far-reaching consequences for marine ecosystems and human populations. In a recent study published in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers found that the changes in ocean colour over the past two decades cannot be explained solely by natural variability.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study reveals that more than half of the world's oceans have experienced subtle but significant changes in colour. Specifically, tropical ocean regions near the equator have become progressively greener. This change in colour reflects alterations in the ecosystems within the oceans, as the colour is a reflection of the organisms and materials present in the water.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the exact ways in which marine ecosystems are being affected by these colour shifts are not yet fully understood, the researchers are confident that human-induced climate change is the underlying cause. Stephanie Dutkiewicz, a senior research scientist at MIT and co-author of the study, explains that computer simulations have long predicted these changes, and now they are becoming a reality.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The colour of the oceans is closely linked to the presence of phytoplankton, which are tiny plant-like organisms that reside in the upper layers of the ocean. Phytoplankton, rich in a green pigment called chlorophyll, are vital for the marine food web. They support the survival of a wide range of organisms, from small fish and krill to marine mammals and seabirds. Additionally, phytoplankton play a crucial role in capturing and storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The repercussions of these colour changes are significant. Disruptions in phytoplankton populations can upset the delicate balance of marine ecosystems, affecting the abundance and distribution of species throughout the food chain. Furthermore, alterations in the ability of phytoplankton to capture carbon dioxide can impact the ocean's capacity to act as a carbon sink, exacerbating climate change.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The effects of these changes extend to human populations as well. Fisheries, which rely on healthy marine ecosystems, may face challenges as the availability and distribution of fish stocks shift. This can have economic implications and impact global food security. Additionally, changes in carbon uptake by the oceans can affect the overall carbon cycle, further influencing climate patterns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Understanding and monitoring these shifts in ocean colour are crucial for assessing the health of marine ecosystems and comprehending the broader impacts of climate change. It enables scientists to study how marine life responds to environmental changes, informing conservation efforts, resource management strategies, and climate change mitigation measures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Thu Jul 13 14:49:17 IST 2023 researchers-translate-thoughts-into-text-non-invasive-mind-readi <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have achieved a significant milestone in mind-reading technology. Using an AI-based decoder and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, the team has successfully translated brain activity into a continuous stream of text, providing insights into the thoughts and imagined speech of individuals. This breakthrough offers potential communication solutions for individuals who struggle to speak due to conditions like stroke or motor neuron disease.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Previous attempts at language decoding systems relied on surgical implants, making them invasive and impractical for widespread use. However, the new non-invasive method allows for the decoding of imagined speech, enabling the reconstruction of speech with remarkable accuracy. Through fMRI scans, the decoder was trained to match brain activity to the semantic meaning of speech, rather than attempting to decode activity word by word.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>During the study, three volunteers spent 16 hours each in an fMRI scanner, listening to podcasts. The decoder was then trained to correlate brain activity patterns with the meaning of specific words and phrases using a large language model. Subsequently, the participants were scanned again while listening to a new story or imagining telling a story, and the decoder generated text solely from the brain activity. The decoder successfully captured the gist of the intended meanings of the original words in approximately half of the cases.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. Alexander Huth, the lead researcher, expressed his astonishment and excitement at the success of the technology, emphasizing its potential to restore speech in patients who have lost the ability to communicate verbally. By overcoming the inherent time lag of fMRI scans, which measure blood flow response and provide a &quot;noisy, sluggish proxy for neural activity,&quot; the researchers were able to extract meaningful information about ideas and semantics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the technology holds great promise, some limitations were observed during the study. Pronouns and certain aspects of language posed challenges for the decoder, indicating room for improvement. Additionally, the decoder's effectiveness was personalized, making it unintelligible when tested on another individual. Participants also had the ability to manipulate the system by intentionally thinking of different subjects or stories, highlighting the importance of user consent and privacy considerations.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research community has hailed this achievement as technically impressive and a significant advance in the field of neuroscience. Experts anticipate a range of potential applications, including decoding thoughts during dreams and gaining insights into the generation of new ideas from background brain activity. However, concerns about privacy and potential misuse of mind-reading technology have been raised, prompting the need for careful regulation and ethical guidelines.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The research team aims to explore whether the technique can be applied to more portable brain-imaging systems, such as functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This could open up new possibilities for wider adoption and practical implementation of non-invasive mind-reading technology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jul 12 16:03:21 IST 2023 india-shoots-for-the-moon-again-key-facts-about-chandrayaan-3-launch-today <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>It is a big day for&nbsp; the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as it gears up to launch Chandrayaan-3, while eyeing a successful soft landing on the moon—a dream that was shattered when the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2 crash-landed on the lunar surface in 2019. India's ambitious third lunar exploration mission will lift off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 2:35pm on Friday.</p> <p><p>1. The Chandrayaan-3 will be launched into space by the Launch Vehicle Mark -III. ISRO's most powerful rocket, the LVM3 is often referred to as the 'Baahubali' of rockets and is equipped with two solid fuel boosters that will provide the initial thrust for takeoff. After the solid boosters separate from the launch vehicle, it will be powered by the liquid stage. Friday's mission is the fourth operational flight of LVM3 vehicle has proved its versatility to undertake complex missions including injecting multi-satellites, interplanetary missions among others.</p> <p>2. The spacecraft will carry three modules—<a href="">lander module</a>, propulsion module and rover module which is housed inside the lander. One of the most ambitious goals of the Chandrayaan-3 mission is a soft landing on the south pole of the moon using the lander. The propulsion module will carry the lander and rover to the moon, and the lander payload will be responsible for the safe landing. The rover will then be deployed to explore the lunar surface, and scientific experiments will be conducted to learn more about the moon. If successful, India will become only the fourth country—after the United States, China and Russia—to land on the surface of the moon. Landing on the moon's south pole is a challenging task owing to the uneven lunar terrain. The ISRO, equipped with learning from the previous setback, is hoping for a successful outcome this time.</p> <p>3. The propulsion module of the Chandrayaan-3 mission also carries the Spectro-polarimetry of Habitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload, which will study the spectral and polarimetric measurements of earth from the lunar orbit. This will also help scientists learn more about the earth's atmosphere and climate.</p> <p>4. If Friday's launch is successful, Chandrayaan-3 will take a month to <a href="" target="_blank">reach the lunar surface</a>. The spacecraft is expected to reach the moon by August 23-24. As ISRO aims to strike a balance between efficiency and affordability, the scientists have devised a sling-shot method, which takes advantage of the earth's gravity, to assist the launch. Instead of following a direct trajectory, Chandrayaan-3 will use an elliptical orbit using the earth's gravitational forces to gain momentum.</p> </p> <p>5. ISRO Chairman S Somanath said instead of a success-based design in Chandrayaan-2, the space agency opted for a failure-based design in Chandrayaan-3, focused on what all can fail and how to protect it and ensure a successful landing. Somnath said that Chandryaan-2 was equipped with five engines, which developed a higher thrust during the landing. The other reason for failure was the small 500m x 500m site identified for landing the spacecraft. This time, scientists have expanded the area of landing to 4km x 2.5km. It can land anywhere, so it doesn't limit you to target a specific point, Somnath said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Fri Jul 14 11:31:54 IST 2023 silence-can-be-heard-just-like-sound-say-scientists <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Johns Hopkins University researchers have conducted a groundbreaking study that provides evidence that silence can be perceived and heard, just like sounds. This study settles a long-standing debate among philosophers and psychologists regarding whether silence is something that can be truly heard. The findings challenge the conventional notion that hearing is solely concerned with sounds.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Led by Rui Zhe Goh, a graduate student in philosophy and psychology, the team devised experiments using well-known auditory illusions, typically associated with sounds, but replaced the sounds with moments of silence. They discovered that these silence-based illusions elicited the same perceptual effects as their sound-based counterparts, suggesting that the brain treats silence in a manner similar to sounds.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We typically think of our sense of hearing as being concerned with sounds. But silence, whatever it is, is not a sound — it’s the absence of sound,” said Rui Zhe Goh. “Surprisingly, what our work suggests is that nothing is also something you can hear.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Chaz Firestone, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences and the director of the Johns Hopkins Perception &amp; Mind Laboratory, explained, &quot;Our approach was to ask whether our brains treat silences the way they treat sounds. If you can get the same illusions with silences as you get with sounds, then that may be evidence that we literally hear silence after all.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In one experiment, the researchers transformed the &quot;one-is-more&quot; illusion, where one long beep appears longer than two short consecutive beeps of equal duration, into the &quot;one-silence-is-more&quot; illusion. Astonishingly, participants perceived one long moment of silence as longer than two short moments of silence, replicating the outcome observed with sound-based illusions.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study involved 1,000 participants who were exposed to various soundscapes simulating environments such as bustling restaurants, markets, and train stations. During the experiments, participants listened for moments of complete silence within these audio tracks. The team found that these silence-based illusions consistently yielded the same temporal distortions as their sound-based counterparts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Ian Phillips, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Psychological and Brain Sciences, emphasised, &quot;There's at least one thing that we hear that isn't a sound, and that's the silence that happens when sounds go away.&quot; He further added, &quot;The kinds of illusions and effects that look like they are unique to the auditory processing of a sound, we also get them with silences, suggesting we really do hear absences of sound too.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While the study used silence embedded within soundscapes, further research is planned to explore the extent to which people can perceive silence, including instances where silences are not preceded by sound. The researchers also intend to investigate other forms of absence perception, such as visual disappearances.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>This groundbreaking study not only sheds light on the perception of absence but also opens new avenues for understanding how the brain processes and perceives sensory information. Silence, once considered the absence of sound, has now been established as a unique auditory experience that deserves further exploration.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>As the sounds of silence continue to captivate the scientific community, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have shown that sometimes, in the absence of sound, there is much more to hear than meets the ear.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Wed Jul 12 16:43:28 IST 2023 neuromorphic-computing-unlocking-the-potential-of-brain-inspired <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Neuromorphic computing is an approach to computing that is inspired by the structure and function of the human brain. It involves designing computer systems and hardware that mimic the behavior of neurons and synapses in the brain, aiming to achieve higher efficiency and adaptability compared to traditional computer architectures.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In a neuromorphic computer, the hardware and software elements are designed to emulate the way neurons and synapses process and transmit information. Neurons are the fundamental units of the brain that use electrical and chemical signals to communicate with each other. Synapses are the connections between neurons through which information is transmitted.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Neuromorphic computing aims to replicate the brain's ability to store and process information in a highly parallel and energy-efficient manner. The brain's plasticity, which allows it to adapt and learn from new information, is a key inspiration for neuromorphic systems. The connections between neurons, known as synapses, can become stronger or weaker over time, enabling the brain to learn and store memories.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Unlike traditional computers that separate processing and memory, neuromorphic computers integrate these functions, leading to potentially faster and more energy-efficient computation. The hardware components of neuromorphic computers can include transistors, memristors, spintronic devices, and other specialized components that can emulate the behavior of neurons and synapses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Neuromorphic computing has the ability to learn and adjust in real-time, which sets it apart from traditional AI algorithms. Unlike traditional methods that require extensive data for effective training, neuromorphic systems can adapt and learn instantly.</p> <p>Research in neuromorphic computing is being conducted by various organizations, including universities, technology companies like Intel Labs and IBM, and government institutions. The field is still relatively new, but it holds great potential for revolutionising computer architectures and advancing AI and cognitive computing.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The potential applications of neuromorphic computing are vast. They include areas such as cognitive tasks (e.g., audio and image recognition), artificial intelligence (AI), brain-machine interfaces, robotics, sensing, healthcare, and more. Neuromorphic computing offers the promise of energy-efficient and highly adaptable computing systems that can excel in tasks where traditional computers face challenges.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Neuromorphic computers are typically programmed using artificial neural networks (ANNs), with spiking neural networks (SNNs) being particularly relevant in this context. SNNs simulate the communication between artificial neurons using electrical signals called &quot;spikes,&quot; which incorporate time into their models. Learning in a neuromorphic computer involves training the network using data to adjust the connections between artificial neurons, similar to the plasticity of biological synapses.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 11 14:26:45 IST 2023 scientists-uncover-secrets-of-honey-bees--smart-decision-making <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>A new study has shed light on the remarkable decision-making abilities of honey bees. The remarkable decision-making abilities of honey bees not only deepen our understanding of these industrious insects but also pave the way for advancements in AI and robotics.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Scientists from Macquarie University in Sydney and the University of Sheffield Researchers revealed how millions of years of evolution have finely tuned bees' brains, enabling them to make swift and accurate choices while minimising risks. By unlocking the secrets of nature's ingenuity, researchers hope to create autonomous machines capable of navigating complex environments with the speed and precision of their buzzing counterparts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Professor Andrew Barron, leading the study, emphasises the significance of decision-making, stating, &quot;Animal lives are filled with decisions, and decision-making lies at the core of cognition.&quot; Despite having brains smaller than sesame seeds, honey bees outperform humans in making quick and precise decisions. Professor Barron further explains that replicating a bee's decision-making ability would necessitate the computational power of a supercomputer for a robot.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study published in the journal eLife enhances our understanding of insect cognition and also,&nbsp; provides valuable insights into the evolution of human intelligence and the design of cutting-edge robots.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Currently, autonomous robots heavily rely on remote computing for their operations. Drones, for instance, lack inherent intelligence and require constant wireless communication with data centers. This technological approach, however, poses limitations for a drone's independent exploration, as exemplified by NASA's Mars rovers, which have covered a mere 75 kilometers over years of operation.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study highlights the crucial role of efficient decision-making for honey bees. To gather nectar while evading predators, bees must swiftly identify the most rewarding flowers. While airborne, they face aerial threats, while landing exposes them to potential predators, some of which cleverly camouflage themselves as flowers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In the experiment, researchers trained bees to recognize different-colored &quot;flower disks.&quot; Blue flowers consistently offered sugar syrup, green flowers contained bitter quinine, and other colors occasionally held glucose. By observing over 40 hours of recorded video, the team tracked the bees' flight paths and timed their decision-making process.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Dr. HaDi MaBouDi explains, &quot;Confident that a flower held food, bees decided to land within an average of 0.6 seconds. If they were confident a flower had no food, they made a similarly quick decision.&quot; However, when uncertain, bees took longer (average of 1.4 seconds), and the time invested corresponded to the probability of the flower containing food.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Using this data, the researchers constructed a computer model mirroring the bees' decision-making process. Remarkably, the structure of the model resembled the physical layout of a bee's brain.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Professor James Marshall highlights the significance of the study, stating, &quot;Our research demonstrates complex autonomous decision-making with minimal neural circuitry.&quot; He adds that the team is currently investigating how bees efficiently gather and analyze information. It is suspected that bees employ flight movements to enhance their visual system, enabling them to identify the most desirable flowers more effectively.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The study suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) researchers can gain valuable insights from simple organisms like insects. Through millions of years of evolution, these creatures have developed highly efficient brains with remarkably low power requirements. Professor Marshall, who co-founded Opteran, a company focused on reverse-engineering insect brain algorithms for autonomous machines, believes that the future of AI in industry will draw inspiration from biology.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Tue Jul 11 12:28:04 IST 2023 why-vikram-lander-of-chandrayaan-3-has-a-higher-chance-of-successful-soft-landing-on-moon <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> The Vikram lander, which was part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), lost communication less than two minutes before its scheduled moon landing. The lander was merely 2.1 km away from achieving the milestone. The lander was trying to make a controlled landing near the south pole of the Moon, where scientists expect to find water ice. It started descending at 1.38 am, on September 7, 2019, and took 10 minutes to slow down from a speed of 1,640 meters per second to 140 meters per second. However, during the final moments, when it was getting closer to the Moon's surface, communication was lost. <br> <br> As ISRO's Chandrayaan-3 mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota gets ready for launch on July 14 at 2.35 pm, it is expected that the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan-3 mission will have a higher chance of a successful landing. The lander will be called 'Vikram' in honour of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian space programme, and the rover will be named 'Pragyan'.<br> <br> The anticipated landing of the Chandrayaan-3's lander, Vikram, and rover, Pragyaan, on the Moon is expected to occur around August 23 or 24. Roughly one month after its launch, Chandrayaan-3 will enter lunar orbit. The Chandrayaan-2 mission landed near the south pole of the Moon at a latitude of 70 degrees. <br> <br> “The lander module is a really important part of Chandrayaan-3. Its job is to safely land on the Moon's surface. It will travel with the spacecraft module in a circular shape around 100 km above the Moon. Then, the propulsion module and the lander module will separate from each other. The lander module for Chandrayaan-3 is like a big box where the rover is placed. It has a large solar panel and a big cylinder on top. The lander is designed to land softly on a specific spot on the Moon and allow the rover to analyze the Moon's chemistry,” space and aerospace expert Girish Linganna told THE WEEK. <br> <br> The lander weighs 1.75 tonnes and carries a robotic rover, Pragyan. The rover weighs 26 kilograms and has six wheels. It is designed to explore the Moon for around 14 Earth days. “The lander will have equipment to measure the density of ions and electrons close to the Moon's surface and observe how it changes. It will also measure the temperature of the Moon's surface, search for moonquakes, and study the movements and behavior of the Moon system,” said Linganna. <br> <br> The lander of Chandrayaan-3 has improved capabilities. “Chandrayaan-3, taking into account what was learned from Chandrayaan-2, has improved capabilities in its lander. It includes 'lander hazard detection &amp; avoidance cameras' that help the lander coordinate with the orbiter and mission control while descending to the Moon's surface. Unlike its predecessor, Chandrayaan-3 will have two of these cameras instead of just one,” explained Linganna. <br> <br> He said for Chandrayaan-3 mission, ISRO has made several improvements, particularly for the lander thrusters, based on the issues faced during Chandrayaan-2. “ISRO has developed better sequences for a safe landing and the lander now has four thruster engines instead of five. The legs of the lander are stronger, and it has larger solar panels. Furthermore, in order to effectively deal with potential disruptions and ensure a higher level of safety for the mission, extra fuel will be included in the lander. This increased fuel capacity will enhance its ability to manage unforeseen circumstances and increase the likelihood of a successful recovery if required,” said Linganna. <br> <br> According to the ISRO, the landing velocity of Vikram has also been increased to 3m/second from 2m/second. This ensures that even at 3m/sec, the lander will not crash or break its legs. ISRO has also made enhancements to the software of Chandrayaan-3 to increase its resilience to failures such as engine disruptions, thrust disruptions, and sensor failures. Additionally, they have removed the central or fifth engine, which was added hastily during the Chandrayaan-2 mission. <br> <br> The selection of the landing site plays a pivotal role in ensuring a favourable touchdown. A carefully chosen area spanning 4 kilometers in length and 2 kilometers in width provides an optimal terrain, factoring in crucial aspects such as surface topography, illumination conditions, and potential hazards. This meticulous site selection process minimizes risks and maximizes the chances of a safe landing.<br> <br> “The Vikram lander employs a sophisticated propulsion system, featuring four throttleable engines generating 800 Newtons of thrust. This propulsion setup enables precise adjustments to the lander's velocity and trajectory during the descent phase, ensuring a controlled and gentle landing on the lunar surface. Instrumentation and sensing capabilities are paramount for a successful touchdown. Equipped with advanced sensors like accelerometers, altimeters, Doppler velocimeters, star sensors, inclinometers, and hazard detection cameras, the lander continuously collects real-time data. These sensors enable precise navigation, altitude control, and hazard avoidance, contributing to a secure landing process. The lander's landing legs and thrusters further enhance stability and control during the descent. With four landing legs and four landing thrusters, each generating 800 Newtons of thrust, the lander expertly maintains its equilibrium, mitigating potential risks as it approaches the lunar surface,” remarked Srimathy Kesan, founder and CEO of Space Kidz India. <br> <br> Kesan said Vikram lander also incorporates increased instrumentation redundancy and strengthened impact legs, bolstering reliability and resilience. “These enhancements ensure the lander's ability to withstand unexpected challenges and potential contingencies, fortifying its capability to execute a smooth and controlled descent.”<br> <br> <br> Tue Jul 11 19:06:48 IST 2023