Science and Technology (S&T) Current Affairs 2017

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Israeli scientists create world’s first water-wave laser

Scientists from Israel have created the world’s first ‘water-wave laser’ that emits a beam through the interaction of light and water waves.

The study conducted by team of researchers from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology led by Professor Tal Carmon.

Significance of this research

A typical laser can be created when the electrons in atoms become “excited” by energy absorbed from an outside source causing them to emit radiation in the form of laser light. However, the water-wave laser for the first time showed that water wave oscillations within a liquid device can also generate laser radiation. It also successfully demonstrated nonlinear optics and water waves, two areas of research that were previously considered unrelated to one another.

How it works?
  • In this case, researchers had created a device in which an optical fibre delivers light into a tiny droplet of octane and water.
  • The energy is emitted by the droplet when light waves and water waves pass through each other many times (about one million times) inside the droplet
  • The interaction between the fibre optic light and the miniscule vibrations on surface of the droplet creates an echo i.e. interaction of sound waves causing it to emit radiation.
  • Event when minute pressure is applied by light it can cause droplet deformation that is a million times greater than in a typical optomechanical device. It may offer greater control of the laser’s emissions.
  • In order to increase this echo effect in the device, highly transparent, runny liquids was used to encourage light and droplet interactions.
Potential Applications

The ‘water-wave laser’ may be used in ‘lab-on-a-chip’ devices to study cell biology and test new drug therapies. It can be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves. It also offers scientists a playground for studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair.

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TeamIndus to launch India’s first private moon mission in 2017

TeamIndus, a private aerospace starup company is planning to send a spacecraft to the moon aboard an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket on December 28, 2017.

It will be India’s first private moon mission to be launched. It will be launched onboard of ISRO’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

Key Facts
  • TeamIndus moon mission’s aim is to land this spacecraft on the moon. It will also travel at least 500 metres and beam high- definition images, video and data back to the earth.
  • Except for the launch vehicle, all of the technology that will power the lander and rover will be developed in-house by TeamIndus.
  • For launching purpose TeamIndus has signed an agreement Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO.
  • ISRO’s workhorse PSLV will launch the TeamIndus’s spacecraft in a three-day window centred on December 28, 2017.
  • After completing a rotation around the earth, the spacecraft will land in 21 days at Mare Imbrium, a region in the North-Western hemisphere of the Moon.
  • If the mission goes successful, it would likely pip ISRO’s proposed moon-lander mission — Chandrayaan 2. Its launch date is not yet formally announced.
Background

TeamIndus is one of the four international teams (only one from India) running for the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million competition. The competition aims to encourage private companies to launch space missions. Other three international teams include two US based companies, Moon Express and Synergy Moon and one Israeli company SPACE 1 L. So far, all of them have announced agreements with space-launch-vehicle companies such as SpaceX.

About TeamIndus

  • TeamIndus is Bengaluru-based private aerospace company. It is led by Rahul Narayan.
  • It has 100-member team of engineers, space enthusiasts, former Air Force pilots and former ISRO employees.
  • It has high-profile investors, including Ratan Tata of the Tata Group; Binny and Sachin Bansal, co-founders of Flipkart and Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys

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UK scientists allow three-parent babies mitochondrial gene therapy

An independent panel of British scientists and experts has formally given nod to introduce so-called three-parent baby fertility treatments or mitochondrial gene therapy (MGT) procedures.

The panel tasked with reviewing the safety of MGT held that this practice should be cautiously adopted to prevent certain genetic diseases from being passed on to future generations. Thus, it paves the way for the country to officially introduce the procedures.

Earlier in February 2016, British Parliament voted to legalise three-parent baby fertility treatments or MGT procedures. It was first country in the world to legalise creation of In-Vitro Fertilisation babies with DNA from three people.

The world’s first three-parent baby boy was born in Mexico in April 2016 to a Jordanian couple with help of this new fertility technique which incorporates DNA from three people in embryo.

What is mitochondrial gene therapy (MGT)?

  • MGT or Mitochondrial donation is a medical technique in which defective mitochondria carried by a woman is replaced with the healthy mitochondria of a donor.
  • Through invitro fertilization technique (IVF), the egg is then fertilised with the partner’s sperm. Thus, the embryo remains free from any such genetic defects.
  • Thus, it prevents the transmission of mitochondrial (genetic) disease from one generation to the next.
  • The two most common techniques in mitochondrial donation are pronuclear transfer and maternal spindle transfer.
  • MGT proposes to give parents chance of having a child that is over 99% genetically matched to them and most importantly free of the mitochondrial disease.

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