Science and Technology 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.

India joins quantum computing race

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to fund project to develop quantum computers in order to tap into the next big advance in computing technology.

In India, Physics departments at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, so far have only forayed into theoretical aspects of quantum computing. Experts from across country are expected to gather in Allahabad for a workshop to develop such computer.

Quantum computing

Quantum computer is computer design which uses principles of quantum physics to increase computational power beyond attainable limits of traditional computer. It employs complex principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ (quantum bit) instead of the typical binary ‘bits’ of 1 and 0.

Qubit is two-state quantum-mechanical system, such as the polarization of a single photon (either vertical polarization or horizontal polarization). Qubit allows for far greater flexibility than the binary system. It works faster because of way such circuits are designed and can do intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers.

For instance, quantum computer require 3.5 million fewer steps to sort billion numbers compared to traditional machine and it can find the solution in only 31,623 steps. Quantum Computing help in solving complex computing physics problems, which were earlier not possible on traditional computers.

Quantum computers have been built on small scale and work continues to upgrade them to more practical models. Internationally, Canada’s D-Wave Systems, is pioneer in developing quantum computers and has sold machines to Lockheed Martin and Google.

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Scientists for first time observe Optical polarisation phenomenon of fast spinning star

Scientists for first time have observed Optical polarisation phenomenon (polarised light emitted by rapidly rotating stars) after it was predicted by Indian astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 70 years ago.

Optical polarisation phenomenon is a measure of the orientation of the oscillations of a light beam to its direction of travel.

Key Facts

The phenomenon was observed using High Precision Polarimetric Instrument (HIPPI), world’s most sensitive astronomical polarimeter to detect polarised light from Regulus, one of brightest stars in night sky about 79 light years away.

The equipment provided unprecedented insights into star, which is in constellation Leo. It allowed scientists to determine its rate of spinning and orientation in space of star’s spin axis. It was observed that Regulus is rotating so quickly with a spin rate of 96.5% of angular velocity (approximately 320 kilometres per second) for break-up.

Background

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in 1946 had first predicted that some stars could be emitting polarised light from their edges. Based on his idea, Astronomers J Patrick Harrington and George W Collins II predicted in 1968 predicted that polarised light will be emitted by rapidly rotating star because its shape gets distorted into a squished oblate shape as it spins too fast.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

He was Indian American astrophysicist who was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler for his theoretical studies of physical processes of importance to structure and evolution of stars. His mathematical treatment of stellar evolution had yielded many of best current theoretical models of later evolutionary stages of massive stars and black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit (maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star) has been named after him.

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