Saturday, December 31, 2016

Regulator Urged to Stop Monopoly Licensing of New HIV Drug Divya Rajagopal

Only one co can sell drug in India, while other Indian cos can sell it in 50 countries
Doctors and aid organisations have called upon the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the drug price regulator to step in to ward off the monopoly over a new HIV drug, dolutegravir, which received the approval of the Indian drug controller last month.
Dolutegravir -sold by GlaxoSmithKline's Viiv Healthcare unit under the Trivicay brand -is considered the best-in-class HIV drug as it reduces virus levels faster and has a high barrier to resistance compared to the previous line of drugs.
However, only one Indian drug maker, Emcure, will be allowed to sell the medicine in the Indian private market, because of a licensing agreement with Viiv Healthcare under the Medicine Patent Pool.
This is despite Indian generic makers like Cipla, Aurobindo Pharma, Hetero and Strides Arcolab having licence to sell this drug in nearly 50 other lowand middle-income countries. However, these companies can sell the drug through public sector tenders or through NGOs in India. Activists call this condition restrictive and anti-competitive.
“It is such an irony that Indian drug makers who are known to pro vide affordable medicines to the world will not be able to sell the drug in India, as ViiV has effectively blocked access to the drug through licence conditions that limit its supply to public sector entities and NGOs in India with prior permission from the company -and not through private sales,“ said Leena Menghaney of Doctors Without Borders, an aid organisation. “The Competition Commission or the pricing regulator (the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority) should step in to make sure that this drug doesn't become monopoly .“
GSK and Emcure did not respond to emails asking them about price at which they will be selling this drug in India.
Some doctors are concerned about how the drug would be priced.
“If priced premium, many patients would lose out on benefit of a good drug,“ said Dr Mandar Kubal, director of Mumbai-based Infectious Diseases & Pulmonary Care Pvt Ltd. If the licence was not restrictive, the presence of more companies in the market would have driven the price lower, like it happened in the case of new class of Hepatitis-C drugs, Kubal added.
“If you position it as first line, then pricing is key, and I don't un derstand this licensing agreement so I expect eventually other drug companies too would get licence,“ said Dr Sanjay Pujari, an HIV specialist.
In India, about 2 million patients are under anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and almost 90% of the public requirement for ARVs is procured by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO). However, HIV patients say NACO is far behind when it comes to adding new therapy lines to its treatment guidelines, which makes patients to depend on private markets. The antiHIV market in India is estimated to be `300 crore, with an 11 % growth rate, according to research firm AWACS. The cost of treatment for raltegravir, which is the second best in line treatment for HIV , is around `8,000 per month.
Boost Supplies:
We need proactive policy to ward off monopoly rent-seeking. What's required is stepped-up output of the drug to better cope with demand.What's also needed is largescale sourcing by government and other public agencies, so that supply gets a healthy boost. In parallel, we need to update norms for pricing of patented imported drugs.

 Source: 27th December,2016

The man who invented VR Goggles, 50 years ago

American author and inventor Hugo Gernsback is said to have created the first entertainment eyewear device - the closest predecessor to current VR goggles
At the moment, the world is going gaga over virtual reality, allowing us to completely immerse ourselves in a technology which creates a simulated environment -You could visit The Taj Mahal right from your hall room. Even though concepts like Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR and others have been going mainstream and commercial over the past few years, a man named Hugo Gernsback might have invented virtual reality glasses around half a century too soon! Hugo Gernsback is the gentleman responsible for coining the term, ‘science fiction'. He created the imaginative fiction magazine Amazing Stories in 1926, which later on was made into a TV series by Steven Spielberg. The Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy are named after him as well.
Among these things, he was known to be an inventor with some crazy ideas. Some of them include, combined electric hair brush and comb, a battery-powered handheld illuminated mirror, and a wax-impregnated fabric strip for removing excess hair. But, his most interesting invention was the teleyeglasses -a pocket-sized, battery-operated portable TV with a separate screen for each eye, which are similar to the 3D glasses we have today.
These glasses were built around small cathode-ray tubes that ran on low-voltage current from tiny batteries. Weighing about 140 grams, it could display stereoscopic images. They had a V-type antenna protruding from the teleyeglasses, which were described as ‘neo-Martian'.

In July 1963, when Hugo Gernsback was 78 years old, Life Magazine described his television eyeglasses as, “He now invents only in broad outline, leaving the actual mechanics of the thing to others. His television eyeglasses-a device for which he feels millions yearn constitute a case in point. When the idea for this handy, pocket-size portable TV set occurred to him in 1936, he was forced to dismiss it as impractical. But a few weeks ago, feeling that the electronics industry was catching up with his New Deal-era concepts, he orders some of his employees to build a mock-up.” As an inventor, he had many futuristic ideas that are now a reality-radar, microfilm, telemedicine, computer matchmaking, wireless spectrum regulation, bone-conduction hearing aids, tape recorders, electronic newspapers, and personal health trackers.

Source: DNA -27th December,2016

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Technology that can transform education in 2017: From Artificial Intelligence to Augmented Reality, here are top changes to watch

Over the years, there has been concerted effort of government and EdTech firms to promote information communication technology in schools, and colleges in India.

By:  | Updated: December 27, 2016 2:28 PM

Use of technology is not new to education sector. Over the years, there has been concerted effort of government and EdTech firms to promote information communication technology (ICT) in schools, and colleges in India. Though the technology intervention in the form of smart classes or self-learning tools have made progress but the advancement in the technology itself like emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality are yet to take noticeable inroads into the schools and colleges in the country. However, with the proliferation of EduTech firms and traditional publishing houses like MBD focusing on these technology, possibility of big breakthroughs is quite high. Here are couple of breakthroughs technology that companies like Next Education says can change the EdTech in 2017.
Adaptive Learning: Artificial Intelligence (AI), the instillation of human intelligence in machines, has facilitated adaptive learning. A teaching methodology, adaptive learning provides computer-mediated personalised learning solutions to learners as per their needs. In a traditional teaching methodology, a learner will have to choose a linear path in their learning process, but adaptive learning might allow them to skip a few concepts if the learning progress supports the jump. As opposed to sequential learners who gain knowledge linearly, there are learners who learn almost randomly, suddenly establishing the connection and understanding the details.
A student who is already proficient in a particular topic would not need as much practice as others. Adaptive learning rescues students from dreaded situations where teachers fail to recognise the different learning requirements of individuals. Hence, it is also called intelligent tutoring. Every learner has specific requirements, and hence the need for human tutoring. Since it is not as effective as computer tutoring, educators are resorting to AI to address the issue.
Gamification of Education: Educators have attempted to gamify education with the motive of encouraging students to complete the task at hand better. Gamification supplements the learning process. Contrary to the deferred gratification obtained through end-term exams, gratification on a gaming platform is instant. In addition to incentivising the learning progress, gamification frees students from boredom. While a teacher may not be able to set practice papers as per the varying needs of each learner, gamification of learning can provide activities as per the potential of each learner.
Augmented Reality: In a classroom ecosystem, it is essential to draw reference to a physical object in order to establish a socially-shared meaning. When physical affordance is hard to establish, Augmented Reality (AR) can come to the rescue. AR involves integrating digital information and technology with the user’s physical environment. Interactive sequences integrated with storybooks are meant for pre-primary and primary sections. As compared to Virtual Reality (VR), AR is a more effective solution for the education sector. Contrary to its kin VR, which is a new artificial environment altogether, AR overlays new information on the existing environment. Moreover, AR is more cost-effective than VR. Providing a supplementary video may not be enough anymore. The declining interest in using textbooks as the sole medium for teaching is nudging educators to explore new means of boosting learners’ motivation., The AR technology has the potential for meeting the growing demands of the education sector.
Tech for special kids: India for long has turned a blind eye to the learning requirements of special kids. Technologically-aided education can cater to the special learning needs of such students. While adaptive learning can provide tailored lessons and practice papers for students with dyslexia and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), Augmented Reality included in the curriculum can hold their attention span for longer.

After a big 2016, next year may be A.I. tipping point

For artificial intelligence, 2016 has been a big year.
After years of researchers saying artificial intelligence (A.I.) was on the cusp of a revolution, the technology has made major advances this past year.
And now, finally, the beginnings of that major A.I. revolution seem to be here.
"It's been a huge year in A.I.," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "We've seen industry giants -- like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia -- either make A.I. their company 'north star' or add and advance the craft with new offerings to democratize A.I."
In this past year, the land grab for anything A.I. was one of the most noticeable aspects of this industry.
For instance, in this past year alone, at least 20 artificial intelligence companies have been acquired, according to CB Insights, a tech market analysis company.
In 2016, Apple acquired Emotient, Tuplejump, and Turi, while Salesforce bought PredictionIQ and MetaMind; Google picked up and Moodstocks; and Intel acquired Itseez, Nervana Systems and Movidius.
Twitter, eBay, Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft, and GE also acquired A.I. companies.
Some of the companies getting scooped up were startups, meaning the big companies were often as interested in the A.I. researchers as much as the technology they were working on.
That's because big players in, and out, of the tech industry see the writing on the wall. A.I. is going to be a big player, whether it's being used to help customers pick out the perfect jacket online, or give them directions around an accident on their commute home, find fraudulent action on client accounts, or interact with clients and customers using voice commands, text, and chat apps.
Executives at online retailer 1-800-Flowers, for instance, say artificial intelligence technology is so important that it will completely change their business.
"We are on the cusp of a change as big as when e-commerce hit," said Chris McCann, president and CEO of, in an interview this fall. "It's giving us the opportunity to have such deep relationships with our customers that it'll be like the company hasn't existed before."
This past May, Google showed how focused it is on A.I. during its annual Google I/O developers conference, unveiling A.I.-powered products like Google Assistant, its Google Home device, the Allo chat app and the Duovideo chat app.
And this past October, IBM president and CEO Ginni Rometty said during a keynote at the company's World of Watson conference that in the next five years, every major decision -- personal or business -- will be made with the help of IBM's Watson A.I. system.
A statement like that takes a lot of confidence in advances coming in the technology.
"We are about where I expected we'd be in the industry but, be aware, this is a moving bar and one big breakthrough could change this dynamic dramatically. And there are a lot of people in the hunt for that breakthrough," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group. "Next year, we'll see a lot more smart systems, an increasingly capable group of smart assistants and far more self-driving, and even self-flying, vehicles being tested."
In other words, in the coming year artificial intelligence advances may begin to cascade, instead of simply inch forward.
And A.I. itself could begin to fuel that progress.
"Right now, A.I. is largely being created by humans," said Enderle. "The big wave will likely come when A.I. systems are more aggressively used to create future A.I. systems. When that happens, the speed of advancement will likely follow less of a linear scale and more of an algorithmic one."
For Moorhead, he thinks 2017 will see an increasing number of companies using artificial intelligence-based platforms in their apps and services.
"I also think we will start to see enterprises jumping onto the A.I. bandwagon," he added. "I expect the Tesla full autonomous car capabilities will be close to be turned on... I don't believe we're yet at the tipping point [with A.I.] but we are close. The tipping point will likely happen next year as A.I. makes its way into more apps."
Dave Schubmehl, an analyst with IDC, said he too expects to see more enterprises adopting A.I. technologies in the coming year.
"I think we'll see a significant increase in the distribution and use of A.I. that is embedded within enterprise applications, providing guidance, recommendations, and predictions," he said. "I think we're on track as far as what we're seeing in the marketplace."
Schubmehl, however, said while there have been strong advances in conversational A.I. systems, he's disappointed there haven't been more advances in consumer-focused digital assistants.
Moorhead, agreed, adding, "Intelligent agents, like Alexa and Siri, are behind where I thought they'd be."

Apple publishes its first paper on artificial intelligence

NEW YORK: Breaking with its tradition of keeping research topics a secret, Apple has come out in the open, publishing its first artificial intelligence (AI) research paper that focuses on advanced image recognition. 

Apple's first public research paper on AI was penned by vision expert Ashish Shrivastava and a team of engineers including Tomas Pfister, Oncel Tuzel, Wenda Wang, Russ Webb and Apple Director of Artificial Intelligence Research Josh Susskind, reported on Tuesday. 

Shrivastava holds a PhD in computer vision from the University of Maryland. 

Titled 'Learning from Simulated and Unsupervised Images through Adversarial Training', the paper describes techniques of training computer vision algorithms to recognise objects using synthetic, or computer generated, images. 

However, learning from synthetic images may not achieve the desired performance owing to a gap between synthetic and real image distributions. 

The company has developed a method for S+U learning that uses an adversarial network similar to Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), but with synthetic images as inputs instead of random vectors. 

The improved realism enables the training of better machine-learning models on large datasets without any data collection or human annotation effort. 

Moreover, since machine learning models can be sensitive to artifacts in the synthetic data, S+U learning should generate ima .. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New system to help ‘see' electrical signals in brain

     Scientists have developed a highly sensitive camera system with graphene film that can help map tiny electric fields in a liquid - an advance that will allow more extensive and precise imaging of electrical signals in the human heart and brain.
The ability to visually depict the strength and motion of very faint electrical fields may also aid in the development of ‘lab-on-a-chip' devices that use very small quantities of fluids on a microchip-like platform to diagnose disease or aid in drug development.
The set-up could potentially be adapted for sensing or trapping specific chemicals and for studies of light-based electronics. “The basic concept was how graphene could be used as a very general and scalable method for resolving very small changes in the magnitude, position, and timing pattern of a local electric field, such as the electrical impulses produced by a single nerve cell,” said Halleh B Balch, a PhD student at UC Berkeley. “One of the outstanding problems in studying a large network of cells is understanding how information propagates between them,” she added.
Other techniques developed to measure electrical signals from small arrays of cells can be difficult to scale up to larger arrays and in some cases cannot trace individual electrical impulses to a specific cell.
“This new method does not perturb cells in any way, which is fundamentally different from existing methods that use either genetic or chemical modifications of the cell membrane,” said Bianxiao Cui, from Stanford University. The new platform should more easily permit single-cell measurements of electrical impulses traveling across networks containing 100 or more living cells, researchers said.
Researchers first used infrared light to understand the effects of an electric field on graphene's absorption of infrared light. In the experiment, they aimed an infrared laser through a prism to a thin layer called a waveguide. The waveguide was designed to precisely match graphene's light-absorbing properties. Researchers then fired tiny electrical pulses in a liquid solution above the graphene layer that very slightly disrupted the graphene layer's light absorption, allowing some light to escape in a way that carried a precise signature of the electrical field.
They captured a sequence of images of this escaping light in thousandths-of-a-second intervals which provided a direct visualisation of the electrical field's strength and location along the surface of the graphene. -PTI

Source: DNA-21st-December-2016

Oral vaccine against salmonella developed

Houston: Scientists, including one of Indian origin, have developed an oral vaccine against Salmonella - the deadly bacteria responsible for one of the most common food-borne illnesses in the world.
“In the current study, we analysed the immune responses of mice that received the vaccination by mouth as well as how they responded to a lethal dose of salmonella,” said Ashok Chopra, professor at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) in the US. “We found that the orally administered vaccines produced strong immunity against salmonella, showing their potential for future use in people,” said Chopra.
Salmonella is responsible for one of the most common food-borne illnesses in the world. In the US alone, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are about 1.4 million cases with 15,000 hospitalisations and 400 deaths each year.
It is thought that for every reported case, there are about 39 undiagnosed infections. Salmonella infection in people with compromised immune systems and children under the age of three are at increased risk of invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis, which causes systemic infection. There are about one million cases globally per year, with a 25 per cent fatality rate.
In earlier studies, UTMB researchers developed potential vaccines from three genetically mutated versions of the salmonella bacteria, that is Salmonella Typhimurium, that were shown to protect mice against a lethal dose of salmonella. In these studies, the vaccines were given as an injection.
The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology. -PTI
Source: DNA-22nd-December-2016

Sci-fi comes to life as scientists trap antimatter

Scientists at CERN have measured the optical spectrum of an antimatter atom for the first time, opening up a completely new era in high-precision research of the material composed of antiparticles. Antiparticles have the same mass as particles of ordinary matter, but opposite charges, lepton and baryon numbers. The work is a result of over 20 years of research by the antimatter community at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Switzerland. “Using a laser to observe a transition in antihydrogen and comparing it to hydrogen to see if they obey the same laws of physics has always been a key goal of antimatter research,” said Jeffrey Hangst, Spokesperson of the ALPHA collaboration, a unique experiment at CERN's Antiproton Decelerator facility. ALPHA is able to produce antihydrogen atoms and hold them in a specially-designed magnetic trap, manipulating antiatoms a few at a time. Trapping antihydrogen atoms allows them to be studied using lasers or other radiation sources. With its single proton and single electron, hydrogen is the most abundant and well-understood atom in the universe. Its spectrum has been measured to very high precision.
Antihydrogen atoms, on the other hand are poorly understood. Since the universe appears to consist entirely of matter, the constituents of antihydrogen atoms - antiprotons and positrons - have to be produced and assembled into atoms before the antihydrogen spectrum can be measured. Any measurable difference between the spectra of hydrogen and antihydrogen would break basic principles of physics and possibly help understand the puzzle of the matter-antimatter imbalance in the universe. ALPHA result is the first observation of a spectral line in an antihydrogen atom, allowing the light spectrum of matter and antimatter to be compared for the first time. Within experimental limits, the result shows no difference compared to the equivalent spectral line in hydrogen.
This is consistent with the Standard Model of particle physics, which best describes particles and the forces at work between them and predicts that hydrogen and antihydrogen should have identical spectroscopic characteristics. Measuring the antihydrogen spectrum with high-precision offers an extraordinary new tool to test whether matter behaves differently from antimatter and thus to further test the robustness of the Standard Model.
Antihydrogen is made by mixing plasmas of about 90,000 antiprotons from the Antiproton Decelerator with positrons, resulting in the production of about 25,000 antihydrogen atoms per attempt. They can be trapped if they are moving slowly enough when they are created. Using a new technique in which the collaboration stacks anti-atoms resulting from two successive mixing cycles, it is possible to trap on average 14 anti-atoms per trial, compared to just 1.2 with earlier methods.

By illuminating the trapped atoms with a laser beam at a precisely tuned frequency, scientists can observe interaction of the beam with the internal states of antihydrogen. The study was published in the journal Nature. -PTI

Source: DNA-22nd- December-2016

Monday, December 26, 2016

First chikungunya vaccine developed

Researchers Use Virus That Only Hits Insects, Has No Effect On Humans
Scientists have developed the first vaccine for chikungunya fever, made from an insectspecific virus that does not have any effect on people and is thus safe and effective.
The vaccine quickly produces a strong immune defence and completely protects mice and nonhuman primates from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus, researchers said.
“This vaccine offers efficient, safe and affordable protection against chikungunya and builds the foundation for using viruses that only infect insects to develop vaccines against other insectborne diseases,“ said Scott Weaver, professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) in the US. Chikungunya is a mosquitoborne virus that causes a disease characterised by fever and severe joint pain, and may trigger headaches, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rashes. Some patients feel better within a week, but many develop longer-term joint pain that can last up to years. Death is rare but can occur.
Traditionally , vaccine development involves trade-offs between how quickly the vaccine works and its safety. Live-attenuated vaccines that are made from weakened versions of a live pathogen typically offer rapid and durable immunity but reduced safety . On the other hand, the inability of inactivated vaccines to replicate enhances safety at the expense of effectiveness, often requiring several doses and boosters to work properly. There may be a risk of disease with both types of vaccines.
To overcome these trade-offs, the researchers used the Eilat virus as a vaccine platform since it only infects insects and has no impact on people. The UTMB researchers used an Eilat virus clone to design a hybrid vaccine containing chikungunya structural proteins. The vaccine was found to be structurally identical to the natural chikungunya virus.The difference is that although the hybrid virus replicates very well in mosquito cells, it cannot replicate in mammals.

Within four days of a single dose, the EilatChikungunya candidate vaccine induced neutralising antibodies that lasted for more than 290 days. The antibodies provided complete protection against chikungunya in two different mouse models. In nonhuman primates, EilatChikungunya elicited rapid and robust immunity -there was neither evidence of the virus in the blood nor signs of illness, the researchers said.

Source: The Times Of India-21st-December-2016

Laser therapy with deep-sea drug kills prostate cancer cells

A non-surgical treatment for lowrisk prostate cancer, in which doctors inject a light-sensitive drug derived from deep-sea bacteria into a patient's bloodstream, was shown in a trial to kill cancer cells without destroying healthy tissue.
Results of a trial in 413 patients showed that the drug, which is activated with a laser to destroy tumour tissue in the prostate, was so effective that half the patients went into remission, compared with 13.5% in a control group.“These results are excellent news for men with early localised prostate cancer, offering a treatment that can kill cancer without removing or destroying the prostate,“ said Mark Emberton, a University College London consultant urologist who led the trial, “This is truly a huge leap forward.“
The treatment, called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy or VTP, was developed by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in collaboration with the privately owned STEBA Biotech.
The light-sensitive drug used, called WST11, is derived from bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean. To survive with very little sunlight, they have evolved to convert light into energy with incredible efficiency , Emberton's team said in a study published in the journal `Lancet Oncology'.

The Weizmann scientists exploited this feature to develop WST11, a compound that releases free radicals to kill surrounding cells when activated by laser light.

Source: Times Of India-21st-December-2016


CHARLES BABBAGE:   Father of the computer (26 December 1791 AD-18 October 1871 AD)
Charles Babbage ( 26 December 1791 – 18 October 1871) was an English polymath. A mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer, Babbage is best remembered for originating the concept of a programmable computer.
Considered by some to be a "father of the computer", Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs. His varied work in other fields has led him to be described as "pre-eminent" among the many polymaths of his century.
Parts of Babbage's uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the Science Museum in London. In 1991, a perfectly functioning difference engine was constructed from Babbage's original plans. Built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, the success of the finished engine indicated that Babbage's machine would have worked.

JOHN JACOB CREW BRADFIELD: Designer of Sydney Harbour Bridge (26 December 1867 – 23 September 1943)

Dr. John Jacob "Job" Crew Bradfield CMG (26 December 1867 – 23 September 1943) was a prominent Australian engineer who is best known for his work overseeing the design and building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Bradfield was the designer and consulting engineer for the Story BridgeBrisbane. He also designed the Cataract and Burrinjuck Dams.
In October 1938 Bradfield published a proposal (known as the Bradfield Scheme) for diverting some coastal rivers of Queensland onto the western side of the Great Dividing Range. However, it was never implemented. Bradfield designed the Circular Quay railway station. but it was not built until many years after his death.
To view Bridges, viaducts and other infrastructures -visit:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

HACK PROOF YOUR ACCOUNTS - How to Navigate Safely Online

“If you want to stay safe, throw away all your connected devices,“ is an oft repeated advice you will come across in response to the    question of how to make yourself “un hackable“. The sad truth is that anything that has been made, especially involving software, can be broken into. What we can do as users and consumers of technology is ensure that we follow some basic principles and precautions. ET spoke to experts from several cyber security firms including Inte Fortinet, Symantec, Fire Eye, Bugs and Force point, and here is what they had to say about the various points or devices that could be hacked into or compromised in a connected world:

Source:Dec 21 2016 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

8 tiny NASA satellites launched to study hurricanes

     NASA launched a constellation of eight small satellites designed to aid weather forecasters in understanding and predicting hurricane intensity. A rocket propelled into orbit eight tiny NASA satellites meant to peer deeply into hurricanes and help scientists better understand how they gain force, the US space agency said. NASA's Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System mission, or CYGNSS, was launched aboard Orbital ATK's Pegasus rocket XL. The rocket was carried on the underside of the company's Stargazer L-1011 aircraft which deploys the Pegasus XL rocket in mid-flight. “All CYGNSS satellites have been successfully deployed,” Orbital ATK tweeted at 8:53 am (local time). The $157 million satellites “will probe the inner core of hurricanes to learn about their rapid intensification,” a NASA spokesperson said. Current remote sensing technology is unable to peer past heavy rain into the eye of a hurricane. Recently, NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of tropical cyclone Vardah that showed strongest storms expanding west of the center. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi NPP satellite captured a visible image of tropical cyclone Vardah in the central Bay of Bengal, Northern Indian Ocean. The VIIRS image showed thunderstorms wrapping around the low level center and expanding and becoming more persistent just to the northwest of the low-level circulation center. Moderate vertical wind shear is the reason for the displacement of the strongest storms. Despite the wind shear Vardah has become more organised over the previous 24 hours and had strengthened. The deployment of these new satellites should help deliver greater clarity to meteorological scientists in both predicting the development of impending hurricanes and the impact of their passing.
Source: DNA-17th-December-2016

Flying high at 12, Jaipur boy scores big at Tech Fest

    In a sea of first, second, and even final year engineering students, cheers and requests for Arnav Sharma to stand up could be heard, as the winners of Round 1 of the Boeing IIT National Aeromodelling Competition were announced at IIT Bombay's ongoing Tech Fest. ‘You deserve to win,' came a few encouraging calls. And why not? At age 12, Sharma's scale model pretty much ruled the sky.
“We had to give power to our planes in 20 seconds, then once they were in the air, we had to cut off the throttle and let them glide. The more glide time, the better. There are three rounds and I've been selected to go on to round 2, which will be held tomorrow (Saturday). Those who win the second round will go on to nationals at IIT Delhi,” says Sharma, who participated in three events on Friday, the other two being Full Throttle and Skylark, the winners for which are yet to be announced. He will also be participating in two additional events. “I've participated thrice each at the IIT Kanpur and IIT Bombay tech fests and I always get selected for the second round in aeromodelling and full throttle. It's a tough competition and while my aim earlier was to participate and learn, this year I am hoping to win,” says the Class 7 student, who has already won several tech competitions.
In Full Throttle, a competition in which participants had to build their own IC car and race it with other racers, Sharma was “the only boy who completed the minimum two laps in 40 seconds without any check point (if the car stalled in the middle of the track, racers would have to restart from the nearest checkpoint)”.
His father, who is an engineer tells us that his son's skills are in his DNA. That and a lot of YouTubing is what works for him. “Instead of watching Pogo and other cartoons, Arnav spends his time watching aeromodelling YouTube videos. He started learning at a very young age, he's got hurt many times, but we encourage him,” says Dr (Prof) Ashish Dutt Sharma, Arnav's father.
Sharma's interest and curiosity in aeromodelling began nearly five years ago when his father told him about some models that his students had made. “It took me a year to build my own model. I've been trying for three years. The first time I participated at an IIT tech fest was when I was in Class 4; I took part in robotics. I started participating in flying only when I was in Class 6 shares Sharma, who studies at Neerja Modi School, in Jaipur.
Sharma started off by watching videos on ‘Flying for Beginners', which opened him to a world of transmitters, motors, turbos, propellers, and a whole lot more, including making models of corrugated sheets that “are used in advertisements”. While his father showed him the ropes, it wasn't long until Sharma started creating designs based on ideas and prototypes from the Internet, and soon after, tried to design his own models.
Sharma tries to finish his homework in school and spends his time before and after school playing sports-table tennis, swimming, and tennis. “He stood first in class,” adds his father. And on Saturdays and Sundays, “when I'm free I spend time flying my aeromodels,” says Sharma, who attends coaching classes for two hours a day, three days in a week at Allen Career Institute, which prepares studentsfor the IIT JEE entrance exams.

As if that's not enough, Sharma is also going to attempt making a Guinness World Record for the largest periodic table in January 2017, where “each element of the periodic table will measure 10ft X15 ft. And there are a total 117 elements”. Kudos to this kid!

Source: DNA-17th-December-2016

Top 5 free Google Chrome Extensions

Bees inspire swarm-based AI

If you look at social species, they always tend to work better and more efficiently whilst in large numbers. This is the reason why certain creatures, such as bees, flock together - it allows them to react in favourable ways by combining all the information the group has as a whole, rather than each member's individual knowledge. Researchers are now applying this approach to AI. However, can humans better use collective intelligence in a similar manner? Louis Rosenberg, who manages a Silicon Valley startup called Unanimous AI, believes they can.
The company has built a ‘hiveminds' platform that supports human decision-making by crowd-sourcing opinions online. It is described as a human swarming, a real-time method for parallel-distributed intelligence. Breaking that down, it means that inputs come from real humans, where the computation is done as it happens with all inputs coming in simultaneously. Rosenberg's platform has, in a series of recent tests, made numerous predictions that are surprisingly accurate, including the winners of the 2015 Oscars and the winners of the 2016 National Hockey League's Stanley Cup for example.

These results aren't based on a single person's opinion but instead derives an average that is gleaned from the wisdom of the crowd. Also, it was observed that small swarms consistently outperform much larger crowds. Also, the system indicated better conclusions when people picked an answer all at once, because we tend to make better decisions as a group than as individuals. Rosenberg believes that this hybrid human-computer approach, which until now was either human based or all-out artificial intelligence, could someday help us attain solutions to some of the world's most pressing challenges. Rosenberg says, “Swarms will outperform votes and polls and surveys because it's allowing the group to converge on the best answer, rather than simply finding the average sentiment.” His team successes have led to them receiving interest from a wide range of groups.
Source: DNA-17th-December-2016

Multi drug-resistant fungus sets alarm bells ringing

New Delhi: Since a global alert on pathogenic fungus Candida auris in 2009, Indian scientists have been actively engaged in research on the strains of this fungi. A recent report of the study indicates that the strains found in Indian hospitals are multi-drug resistant.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research–Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), New Delhi, and Department of Medical Mycology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute, Delhi University, conducted a full genome sequencing on six strains of Candida auris, and have published their findings in the latest issue of the UK journal Elsevier.
“A full genome sequencing analysis of Candida Auris isolates from four Indian hospitals - three in Delhi and one in Kochi - revealed a clonal transmission, that is the same strains were circulating in Indian hospitals. All C. auris isolates analysed originated from cases of fungaemia (fatal fungal infection, a form of sepsis) and were resistant to fluconazole (a broad-spectrum antifungal medication),” said Dr Anuradha Choudhary, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Medical Mycology, Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute.
“This emerging multi-drug resistant yeast causes acute hospital-acquired infections. The emergence of this yeast is alarming doctors, as it also exhibits resistance to azoles, amphotericin B and caspofungin, all anti-fungal drugs,” she said.
Molecular identification are not part of routine testing in diagnostic laboratories, and C. auris can only be identified by genome sequencing. Doctors insist that due to this, fungaemia is likely to be much more prevalent than reports indicate. As per IGIB and Delhi's Chest Institute reports, about 40 cases have been documents until 2015.
C. auris infection has been reported to occur in all age groups, and bloodstream infections have a 60 per cent mortality rate.
Hospitalised patients are at high risk. “Recent surgery, diabetes, broad-spectrum antibiotic and anti-fungal drugs, and central venous catheter use are all risk factors,” said Dr Anoop Misra, Chairman, Fortis-C-DOC, Centre for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology.
“Fungus infections, especially multiple drug-resistant ones, are difficult to treat and C. auris in particular carries a high mortality rate. With prevalence of suppressed immune response among patients, including those with uncontrolled diabetes, this is a big concern. Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial,” said Dr Misra.
As part of standard procedure, ICMR is already looking into this. Director General, ICMR and Secretary, Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, said, “We have a network of tertiary hospitals looking at fungal infections and their drug resistance. We are also looking at how common Candida auris is.” Frequent use of antibiotics or anti-fungals is supposed to be a cause of origin for any multi-drug resistant fungi. Doctors have urged for the need for new antibiotics.

At least a dozen countries have reported drug-resistant Candida Auris, in the last five years. C. auris was first reported in 2009 after being isolated from the external ear canal discharge of a patient in Japan. In the same year, about 15 isolates of C. auris were reported in South Korea.
Source: DNA-15th-December-2016