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Science and Technology

Prof CNR Rao becomes first Indian scientist elected to Chinese Academy of Science

Screenshot_3Eminent Scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee Prof CNR Rao has become the first Indian scientist to be elected as honorary foreign member of Chinese Academy of Science (CAS).

CAS consists of several Nobel laureates and eminent scientists of the world. Prof. Rao was recently awarded the Bharat Ratna. In 2012, CAS had conferred on him the prestigious Award for International Scientific Cooperation.

About C.N.R. Rao (Chintamani Nagesa Ramachandra Rao)
  • An Indian scientist
  • One of the world’s foremost chemists in the field of Solid State, Structural and Materials Chemistry.
  • His work on transition metal oxides led to basic understanding of novel phenomena and the relationship between materials properties and the structural chemistry of metal oxides.
  • Currently, he heads the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.
  • Authored around 1500 research papers.
  • Authored and edited 45 books.
  • First Indian scientist to reach the h-index of 100.
  • One of the earliest to synthesize two-dimensional oxide materials such as La2CuO4.
  • His findings have resulted into a systematic study of compositionally controlled metal-insulator transitions. Such findings have immensely helped in fields such as colossal magneto resistance and high temperature superconductivity. His oxide semiconductors have uncommon promise.
  • Made significant contributions to nano materials, apart from his work on hybrid materials.
  • Elected to almost all scientific academies of the world including The Royal Society -London, National Academy of Science – USA, Pontifical Academy of Science, Japan Academy and Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences, among others.
  • Conferred 60 Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorates) by various universities across the globe.
What is h-index (also called the Hirsch index or Hirsch number)?
  • h-index (also called the Hirsch index or Hirsch number) is a tool that measures the productivity and impact of the published work of a scientist or scholar.
  • Based on the set of the scientist’s most cited papers and the number of citations that the individual has received in other publications.
  • Physicist Jorge Hirsch was the first one to coin it in 2005.
  • George Whitesides of Harvard University has an h-index of 169, which makes him the highest ranked living chemist.

Sukhoi-30 chosen to mount BrahMos: IAF

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to make its deep penetration Sukhoi-30 fighter jets a platform to mount the air version of supersonic BrahMos missiles, whose first test-launch will be conducted by the end of 2014.

Sukhoi-30 is being manufactured at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s Nashik facility in collaboration with the Russians. The air version of the BrahMos missile is ready, but it will take a year more for testing, simulations and aircraft modifications.

BrahMos Aerospace is bound to deliver the supersonic cruise missile to the IAF starting 2015. It has also slashed the weight of the missile to 2.5 tonne from the normal 3 tonne as demanded by the IAF as the launch at high speeds requires lesser components on propulsion.

The BrahMos has already been inducted by the Army and the Navy. However, an air platform has not been provided yet.

The Brahmos missile:
  • Project: Joint Venture of India and Russia for manufacturing the supersonic cruise missiles for use by the armed forces of both the countries.
  • BrahMos = Brahmaputra and Moskva (Rivers of India and Russia respectively)
  • Companies involved: DRDO (India) and NOPM (Russia)
  • Partnership: 50.5 (India):49.5 (Russia)
  • Speed: Mach 2.8 to 3.0. World’s fastest cruise missile in operation.
  • Range: 290 km
  • Can carry conventional warhead of 300 kg
  • Available with different versions which can be launched from submarines, ships, aircraft or land.

Still some time for ‘Voice Over LTE’ technology to arrive in India

‘Voice Over LTE’ technology, which will soon be deployed in USA shortly by some of the mobile companies, has still some time to yet arrive in India. Indian operators in due course will adopt the 4G LTE standard which will improve the carrying capacity of airwaves, furnish data at nearly 10 times the speed offered on 3G and better quality voice, etc.

What is ’Voice Over LTE’ technology?

‘Voice Over LTE’ technology is a technology for providing a unified format of voice traffic on LTE, and other systems including CSFB (Circuit Switched FallBack ), and SV-LTE (Simultaneous voice and LTE). It empowers 4G LTE operators to offer rich voice, video and messaging services as a core offering.

LTE stands for ‘Long Term Evolution’. 

LTE technology marketed as 4G LTE  is a GSMA VoLTE IR.92 specification, based on global 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) standards, for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.  LTE is optimized for data transfer and designed as a packet switched all-IP system only; it does not include any circuit switched domain currently used for regular voice and SMS services.

Dissimilar to former cellular telecommunications standards including GSM, LTE doesn’t have devoted channels for circuit switched telephony. Rather LTE is an all-IP system allowing for an end-to-end IP connection from the mobile equipment to the core network and out again.

Why a need for Voice Over LTE (VOLTE)?

The Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is a result of operators seeking a standardized system for transferring voice traffic over LTE. Initially LTE was seen as a totally IP cellular system just for carrying data, and operators would be able to carry voice either by reverting to 2G / 3G systems or by using VoIP. Operators, nevertheless saw the fact that a voice format was not defined as a key omission for the system. It was seen that the lack of standardization may provide problems with scenarios including roaming. SMS is a key necessity. As mobile operators receive much of their revenues from voice and SMS traffic, it is essential to have a feasible and standardized scheme to render these services and guard this revenue.

What is the probable problem with India in implementing Voice Over LTE (VOLTE) technology?

Once VoLTE is implemented in USA, the technology will move faster to other countries viz. India but there are some basic issues with implementing the technology in India:

  • Albeit software can be adapted in India but the underlying hardware for the 2300 MHz band is the key issue. The spectrum in the 2300 MHz band which Reliance Jio infocomm and Bharati Airtel won in order to offer 4G services emits weaks signals, which implies poor service quality. This issue is increased when it comes to transmitting voice.
  • In Europe, however the LTE operated in the 700 MHz band.
  • India and China both have opted for TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) standard which owing to lack of global scale, makes necessary hardware costly.

NASA discovers granite on Mars

As per a research team from the US space agency NASA, granite – an igneous rock common on Earth— could be found in abundance on Mars. The research backed by the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program strengthens the evidence for granite on Mars by using remote sensing techniques with infrared spectroscopy to survey a large volcano on Mars that was active for billions of years.

The ancient Martian volcano has large amounts of a mineral found in granite called feldspar. Minerals that are common in basalts rich in iron and magnesium are nearly completely absent here.

For a long time Mars was understood to be geologically simplistic consisting mostly of one type of rock as opposed to the complex geology of Earth. Most of the surface of Mars is covered by dark-coloured volcanic rocks called basalt.

How the granite could have formed on Mars?

The location of the feldspar near the volcano can explain the formation of granite Mars. It occurs by a process called fractionation in which the magma slowly cools in the subsurface and low density melt separates from dense crystals. The cycle is repeated again and again for millennia until granite is formed. Granite or its eruptive equivalent rhyolite is often found on Earth in tectonically active regions. Though this is improbable on Mars but the scientists concluded that extended magmatic activity on Mars can also produce it on a large scale.