Science and Technology (S&T) Current Affairs 2017

Latest Science & Technology Current Affairs 2015-2016; current developments in Science and Technology 2015-2016 all important national / international updates in science and tech and events for the year 2015-2016.

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Scientists develop solar-powered skin for prosthetic limbs

Researchers including Indian origin from University of Glasgow have developed new prototype prosthetic limbs having solar-powered skin.

The solar-powered skin will give amputees with prosthetic limbs a better sense capabilities of touch, temperature and texture compared to battery powered prosthetics.

Key Facts
  • The new technology involves installing a thin layer of pure carbon around a prosthetic arm, hand or leg. This allows light to pass through it and be easily used as solar energy.
  • The sun can provide up to 15 times more energy than is usually needed to power a prosthetic limb. This extra and renewable energy can be used to power sensors.
  • These sensors can increase sense and feeling in a limb, so much so that the prosthetic can feel pressure, temperature and texture like natural skin.
  • The technology also has potential to increase the functionality of robots, allowing them to have a better understanding of what they touch.

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ISRO commissions world’s third-largest hypersonic wind tunnel

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created history by commissioning the world’s third-largest hypersonic wind tunnel at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 

In this regard, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar commissioned two facilities – a 1-m Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and a 1-m Shock Tunnel.

Key Facts
  • These facilities are the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world next only to the ones in the United States (US) and Russia.
  • They have been indigenously designed, developed and made in India with the support of Indian Industries.
  • Few critical technologies of these tunnels which are under embargo were also indigenously developed.
  • These facilities together are quite complex with 500 valves, 2 km of pipelines, 41 electric motors, 35 pumps, 320 instruments and 10 km of cables.
  • These tunnels have wide spectrum of simulation capabilities in terms of Mach number, Reynolds number and re-entry velocities.
  • Applications: These wind tunnels will be used to study the effects of air flowing past a solid object and in ISRO’s case, space vehicles.
  • These new facilities will help aerodynamic characterisation of advanced space transportation systems in a hypersonic environment.
  • Significance: Such facilities will provide adequate data for design and development of current and future space transportation systems in the country.
  • Commissioning of these facilities also symbolises the country’s capability in establishing such world-class facilities wherein technology from outside is restricted or not available.

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NGT suspends Green nod for Neutrino project

The Southern Bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) suspended the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO). It has asked the project proponent to make a fresh application.

NGT suspended the EC after petitioner submitted that the INO project was just 4.5 km away from Mathikettan Shola National Park in Idukki district (Kerala) and one kilometre from Kerala-Tamil Nadu border and falls under category ‘A’ project in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). 

What is the issue?
  • The Union Environment Ministry had categorised INO project as a Category ‘B’ project, for which an EIA is not necessary.
  • But, as per EIA Notification, 2006, any project specified in category ‘B’ will be treated as category A, if it is located in whole or in part within 10 km from the boundary of protected areas notified under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 and inter-State boundaries.
What NGT says?

INO is a category ‘A’ project, which meant EIA study has to be done by an accredited agency. Since the project was near a national park, INO needs to get a clearance from the National Board for Wildlife. It also needs to get necessary clearance from the Kerala government as well.

About India-Based Neutrino Observatory (INO)

  • It country’s most ambitious basic science project proposed to come up in Bodi west hills of Theni district of Tamil Nadu.
  • It aims at building a world-class underground laboratory with a rock cover of approximately 1200 meter. Its mandate is to conduct basic research on the elementary particle called neutrino.
  • It is jointly supported by Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and Department of Science & Technology (DST), with DAE acting as the nodal agency.
  • The observatory will be located underground in order to provide adequate shielding to the neutrino detector from cosmic background radiation.
  • It will comprise a complex of caverns which will house detector which is 130 metres long, 26 metres wide and 30 metre high.

INO

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