Current Affairs 2017 - April

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UNESCO to screen Indian short film as part of World Press Freedom Day celebrations

UNESCO to screen Rahul V. Chittella’s short film “Azaad” as a part of World Press Freedom Day event that is scheduled to be held from May 1-4 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The movie is about the dysfunctional relationship between a father and his son. World Press Freedom Day is celebrated by UNESCO to celebrate the principle of freedom of the press.

The theme for this year’s edition of World Press Freedom Day is “Critical Minds for Critical Times: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies“.

World Press Freedom Day

May 3 is celebrated as World Press Freedom Day every year to celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom as well as to evaluate the freedom of press around the world. It serves as an occasion to defend the media from attacks on their independence and to pay tribute to journalists who died while doing their profession.
In 1993, World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. It was proclaimed following the recommendation of UNESCO at its twenty-sixth General Conference in 1991. It is a day of support for media around the world and serves as a reminder that still in many countries publications are censored, fined, suspended and closed down, while journalists, editors and publishers are harassed, attacked, detained and even murdered. This day is celebrated to act as a reminder to the governments of the need to protect the freedom of press.

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Scientists create ‘Artificial Womb’

Researchers have created a fluid-filled transparent container called the Biobag to simulate how foetuses float in amniotic fluid inside the uterus of their mothers.

Researchers tested five lambs with a biological age corresponding to 23-week human premature babies in the artificially created womb like device. The premature lambs were delivered by C-section and were immediately placed into the womb-like device. To mimic a womb, researchers created a temperature-controlled bag filled with a substitute for amniotic fluid. They used an electrolyte solution to mimic amniotic fluid that the lambs swallow and take into their lungs. The researchers then attached the umbilical cord to the device that exchanges carbon dioxide in blood with oxygen. In early-stage animal testing, all the lambs appeared to grow normally inside the system for three to four weeks. After four weeks, the lambs were seen opening their eyes, started growing wool, breathe and swim. In a sum, the results were found very promising.

Significance

The artificial wombs can facilitate development of premature babies in a uterus-like environment. The womb-like environment will offer them a better chance of healthy survival. At present, the premature babies are hooked to ventilators and other machines inside incubators. Premature babies have high risk factor for getting serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy. One of the biggest risks the premature babies face is that their lungs are not ready to breathe air. When they are hooked to ventilators there is a high risk of lifelong lung damage.

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NASA’s Cassini spacecraft successfully travels between Saturn and its rings

Recently, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft completed its final close flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan and has now started its final set of 22 orbits before plunging into Saturn on September 15, 2017, and thus completing its 20-year long journey. Already, Cassini has dived successfully through the space between Saturn and its rings, a region no spacecraft has been before. It will perform another 21 dives through the same gap and will send more detailed information about Saturn and its rings. These series of 22 manoeuvres that brings Cassini closer to Saturn’s surface before plunging into it is called as the spacecraft’s “grand finale.”

The spacecraft will provide the radar team with the final set of new images of the hydrocarbon seas and lakes that are present in Titan’s North Polar Region.

Cassini

Cassini spacecraft was named after the 17th-century astronomer Giovanni Cassini. It was launched into space in October 1997. It is a joint endeavour of NASA, European Space Agency (ESA) and Italian space agency, Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI).

Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit. The Robotic spacecraft included a Saturn orbiter and an atmospheric probe/lander called Huygens for the Saturn’s moon Titan which entered and landed on Titan in 2005.

Sixteen European countries and the United States make up the team responsible for designing, building, flying and collecting data from the Cassini orbiter and Huygens probe. Huygens was developed by the European Space Research and Technology Centre.

Findings of Cassini

Cassini and Huygens have revealed the existence of earth-like geographic features, great lakes of liquid nitrogen gas on Titan’s surface. Cassini also found evidence for the existence of Underground Ocean on the moon Enceladus. In April, NASA announced that the spacecraft has found evidence that the underground ocean could sustain some form of life. Cassini has generated a rich volume of data that will fuel scientific study for decades to come.

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