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Belle-II detector system integrated with powerful SuperKEKB accelerator

The High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) completed the ‘rolling-in’ of the Belle-II experiment in Tsukuba, Japan. With this, it moves a step forward by integrating particle detector with powerful accelerator.

The term roll-in refers to the operation of moving the entire Belle II detector system from its assembly area to the beam collision point. The Belle II detector’s total weight is about 1400 tons. 

About Belle-II experiment 

  • Belle II experiment consists of an upgraded detector to record the enormous numbers of particle processes that are produced by the SuperKEKB accelerator.
  • The experiment is designed to study violations of the Standard Model of particle physics. It is grand collaboration of 700 scientists from 23 countries including India.
  • The detector precisely measures elementary particle interactions artificially created with the upgraded SuperKEKB accelerator.
  • In the Belle II experiment, various elementary particles generated from high energy electron-positron collisions will be observed using the 8-meter tall Belle II detector consisting of seven types of subdetectors.
  • The detector will provide measurements of direction and momenta of newly produced particles. Compared to previous Belle experiment, Belle Ⅱ will allow collection of much larger data samples with much improved measurement precision.
India’s contribution

Belle-II has a significant Indian participation both on experimental and theoretical sides. The fourth layer of the six-layer i.e. highly sensitive particle detector (the heart of Belle-II) has been built by Indian scientists from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. Scientists from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) Bhubaneswar, Chennai, Guwahati and Hyderabad, Panjab University, Institute of Mathematical Sciences (Chennai), Punjab Agricultural University, Malaviya National Institute of Technology (Jaipur), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Mohali) are also participating in this research.

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Scientists discovers protein PorB that increases effectiveness of vaccines against cancer

Scientists from Boston University School of Medicine, US have discovered a protein called PorB that could help make vaccinations more effective and provide protection from diseases such as cancer.

In this study, researchers had purified this protein, found on the exterior of bacteria (neisseria meningidis). It helps to increase amount of antibody production and can stimulate cells to kill offending agent and used it as an accessory to provide a better vaccination response.

Proteins are unusually any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids. They are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.

Significance of discovery
  • Typically, vaccines can either increase the amount of antibody production or they can stimulate cells (called cytotoxic T cells) to directly kill the offending agent. But the unique protein PorB can do both.
  • In this study, researchers had used two experimental models. The first model was given a vaccination with antigen and mixed PorB, while the second model was given the antigen alone.
  • The model that received the PorB had an increase in the response to the vaccine antigen as compared to the vaccination with the antigen alone.
  • Potential applications: The discovery may lead to greater understanding of how vaccine enhancers work. It can also be used to help body identify and fight off bacterial infections and also potentially to use its own machinery to fight off other diseases like cancer, HIV, and influenza before they establish.

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Astronomers discover Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star Kepler-1649

Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler space telescope have discovered a Venus-like planet orbiting a dim star called Kepler-1649.

The newly found planet is one-fifth the diameter of our Sun and is only slightly larger than Earth. It is located 219 light years away from Earth.

Key Facts
  • The Venus-like planet tightly embraces its low-temperature star Kepler-1649 by encircling it every nine days.
  • The tight orbit around the star causes the flux of sunlight reaching it to be 2.3 times as great as the solar flux on Earth. For comparison, the solar flux on Venus is 1.9 times the terrestrial value (on earth).
  • The discovery will provide insight into the nature of planets encircling around M dwarf stars, by far the most common type in the universe.

About Venus

  • Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty.
  • It is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, mass, proximity to Sun, and bulk composition. It has no natural satellite.
  • But it is radically different from Earth in other respects. It has densest atmosphere of four terrestrial planets, consisting of more than 96% CO2. The atmospheric pressure at its planet’s surface is 92 times that of Earth.
  • Note: Venus is by far the hottest planet in the Solar System, with a mean surface temperature 462 °C even though Mercury is closer to the Sun.

About Kepler Space Telescope (KST)

  • KST is an unmanned space observatory launched in 2009 by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • It is tasked with determining how commonly, Earth-like planets occur throughout the Milky Way galaxy.
  • KST works by observing a dimming in the light of a star, known as a transit, each time an orbiting planet passes in front of it.
  • It has been designed for a statistical mission and not to probe into the environmental conditions of planets that exist in the so-called Goldilocks zone (Habitable zone) of their stars.

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