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History Of flight created . NASA's
X-43A flies at Mach 7 or 7 times the speed of sound
NASA's second X-43A hypersonic research aircraft flew
successfully on 27th March,2004 , the first time an air-breathing
scramjet powered aircraft has flown freely.
The unpiloted vehicle's supersonic combustion ramjet,
or scramjet, ignited as planned and operated for the duration
of its hydrogen fuel supply. The X-43A reached its test
speed of Mach 7, or seven times the speed of sound.
The flight originated from NASA's Dryden Flight Research
Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Taking off at
12:40 p.m. PST, NASA's B-52B launch aircraft carried the
X-43A, which was mounted on a modified Pegasus booster
rocket. The booster was launched from the B-52B just before
2 p.m. PST. The rocket boosted the X-43A up to its test
altitude of about 95,000 ft. over the Pacific Ocean, where
the X-43A separated from the booster and flew freely for
several minutes. During the free flight, the scramjet
engine operated for about 10 seconds.
Courtesy : NASA
For more information please visit NASA's
mission site for X-43 mission
Duping pests – pesticides are not
the only way.
A recent study could have broader implications for farmers’
ability to stop pests from becoming resistant to pesticides.
Scientists from US based North Carolina State University
have found that in US, cotton pests mature feeding corn
all summer before moving towards south to munch cotton in
the autumn. Therefore, if large quantities of pesticides
are used in the corn fields then pests would move to more
commercially significant cotton fields armed with resistance
to these pesticides.
A large amount of cotton grown in US is genetically modified
to contain Bt gene from a bacterium. This enables a plant
to produce toxin, which is lethal to many pests. It is estimated
that the Bt toxin kills almost 80-85 per cent of cotton
bollworms. However long term exposure to Bt can make the
pests resistant to it. Therefore, farmers grow ‘refuges’
or non-engineered crops between fields of engineered crops.
When these pesticide resistant pests mate with pests feeding
on ‘refuges’ their offspring are not immune
to Bt toxin.
The researchers used a technique called staple isotope assessment
to gauge the development patterns of pest moths during summer.
They compared the ratios of carbon isotope C13 and C12 in
moths captured from Louisiana and Texas during August to
October. Dicot plants like cotton have less of c13 as compared
to monocot plants like corn. Pests feeding on a particular
plant would have the same carbon isotope ratio as the plant.
The researchers found that a large majority of pests moths,
specifically that of cotton bollworm, had more C12 than
C13. This means they are maturing not on cotton and soyabean
plants but on corn. Knowing where the moths developed was
essential for the researchers to analyse how well ‘refuge’
function to put the brakes on the evolution of pests that
are resistant to insecticides.
Being Genius a Bane or a Boon as a 12
year old becomes a qualified doctor.
Showcasing the successes of child prodigies like Sho Yano
is more harmful than helpful for children. Bring up children
in today’s competitive world is a difficult task.
If child prodigies were to help up as role models to children
then life would become even tougher for them. The weight
of their school bags , tension of the exams and the resultant
suicides are all well documented. Childhood , not so long
ago , was a carefree part of a long and tough journey of
life. In a bid to conquer glory children will be pressured
to achieve extraordinary success at great cost to their
This is also the question of prodigy’s own childhood.
Extraordinary talent is indeed a gift , but careful handling
of it is critical. Therefore, though that gift may be evident
early on,it is imperative that the child is saved from his/her
own precocity. Having a gift which is far ahead of its time
is somewhat like putting an engine of a Formula One car
in a go-kart. The consequences can be disastrous. Prodigies
who have not had foresighted parents or guardians have suffered.
Prodigies ,their childhood stolen from them are condemned
to loneliness and emotional instability. Leading supposing
glamorous lives they are prisoners of their own talent.
The end result is that of stunted adults and unfulfilled
promises, where timeframes are reversed. Childhood becomes
a time for toil and adulthood often misspent. In an increasingly
chaotic world let children remain children. Hand the scalpel
to the next able bodied adult.
A Successful Stem-Cell Transplant
The Malignant Disease Treatment Center (MDTC) at Southern
Command Hospital in Pune has successfully performed a rare
stem cell transplant on a 36-year old suffering from chronic
myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer of blood and bone marrow.
This is the second allogenic transplant in which blood cells
are taken from the patients siblings. Out of similar 11
cases handled at MTDC it is the first case of stem cell
transplant in a patient suffering from blood cancer.
The patient Havildar Singh of Jat regiment was satisfactory.
Referred to MTDC in October last year from Gwalior, doctors
felt confident after Singh’s HLA(human leukocyte antigen)
as it matched to that of his brother, who is also serving
the army in the same regiment. The chances of a match are
remote even in a family of seven siblings. Apart from Pune
,the Delhi center is the only place within the armed forces
to have successfully performed such transplants. MTDC which
only treats patients from the armed forces gets about 500
cancer patients every year.
The number has considerably increased in the recent years,
but more due to awareness and early detection techniques.
Cancer in the lungs and the mouth is the most common among
males. In women breast cancer and malignancy of the reproductive
organs are the most common. Leukemia accounts for 12 percent
of the cases in the center. MTDC oncologists feel that there
is a serious need to maintain a database of bone marrow
donors in India. In India only All India Institute Of Medical
Sciences maintains a registry of about 3000 people.
Ways to prevent
A curtain merely treated with insecticide can help save
your life. A recent study shows that by using curtains treated
with insecticide can reduce the incidence of cutaneous leishmaniasis
(CL) – a disease that has fatal, debilitating and/or
deforming consequences in the form of skin ulcers.
The disease is caused by lieshmania parasite. At least
2 million cases of lieshmaniasis are reported annually in
India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sudan. The parasite is transmitted
to humans and other mammals through infected sandflies.
Recently researchers conducted a study to determine if curtains
treated with insecticides reduce the number of sandflies
The study was carried out of in an area of Trujillo city
of Venezuela, which records very immense transmission of
the disease. Over a period of 12 months, the researchers
assessed the efficacy of the curtains. The study area consisted
of 239 houses using polyester curtains treated with lamdacyhalothrin
insecticide. 220 houses using non treated curtains and 106
houses not using curtains at all.
The analysis showed that there was a significant reduction
in the number of sandflies in the houses using treated curtains
as compared to those that were not using treated curtains.
Moreover the treated curtains had no side effects. Therefore,
the researchers concluded that curtains treated with insecticide
provide a high degree of protection against indoor transmission
of CL by sandflies. They are also cost effective.
The results of the study were supported by another research
conducted in a Columbian village, during which bed nets
treated with insecticide were used to control sandflies.
Christudas is the face of God for leprosy patients.
Serving leprosy patients has always been a metaphor of
compassion. And the torch of that spirit continues to burn
in many hearts even today. Brother Christudas is one such
soul. He has dared to rush to Bihar which has the highest
number of leprosy patients in India. He is really an inspiring
example taking into consideration that leprosy is not merely
a disease. Its more of a social stigma compounded by the
ills of illiteracy, poverty, unhygienic environment and
malnutrition which plagues the state.
Thus Das finds himself in Raxaul on the Indo-Nepal border
treating, nursing and taking care of the leprosy patients.
Das, who was a director in Mother Teresa’s leprosy
center, realized that instead of waiting for patients to
come to the hospital in order to be treated ,he ought to
visit their place treat and cure them there and help them
to get to normal lives once again. Consequently he landed
up in Raxaul to find lepers living helplessly during the
night and begging during the day.
Initially it was difficult for Das to convince the lepers
that he was going to help them. He had no resources at all.
But Rs.2000 from a friend in Muzaffarpur brought much relief.
With this money Das began the Little Flower Leprosy Hospital
in a mud hut. Now help started pouring in from all quarters.
Mr. P.K. Derkson from Holland just within a month from its
opening with Rs. 1.8 lakh. Thus Little flower was reborn
as a 47-bed ,full concrete leprosy hospital. Today, it is
a double-storey structure with 130 beds. The hospital receives
a continuous steady stream of patients from the neighboring
areas. The Hospital has so far treated about 42,000 patients.
Helped generously by two institutions based in Canada and
in England fighting against leprosy , Das has also been
able to start a school for leprosy patients , a hostel for
leprosy afflicted parents and their children. Spinning and
weaving workshops for women suffering from leprosy and a
20-acre dairy farm with about 60 cows has also begun in
the Hospital. Most of those who have been cured but still
have not been accepted by their families and the society
,stay at the colony to work with dignity and respect.
If you want to add to their dignity , contact – Brother
Christudas at Little Flower Leprosy Welfare Association
, Sunderpur, Raxaul, Pin:843505. Telephone: 06255-22558.
An Oil Find
Threatens the Caspian Sea.
With the discovery of an extremely large offshore petroleum
reserve in the northern sector of the Caspian Sea, an environmental
disaster is in the making. Leading oil companies are poised
to start developing a field near the deposit. The extent
of the newly discovered petroleum reserve is large enough
to even surpass the size of North Sea oil reserves. But
scientists say that pumping out oil from the oil reserve
threatens the northern Caspian. Empting the oil and gas
could trigger devastating earthquakes ,this is what the
The northern basin of Caspian averages little more than
10 meters in depth. This makes it a formidable challenge
for the oil companies. The oil in Kashagan, as it is called,
is pressurized to 1,000 atmospheres and is at 100-120 degree
Celsius. Opposition to Kashagan’s exploitation also
stems from the fear that it would push the prized Caspian
sturgeon closer to extinction. It can also aggravate the
problem of air pollution.
Mouse make up – Mice are genetically similar
An international consortium of scientists has published
nearly the entire genetic make-up of the mouse. It is an
accomplishment that could give new insights about human
evolution. The working draft of the genome, which lays out
the animal’s startling similarity to humans, would
also streamline the fundamental role that mice play in the
study of human diseases.
The draft code, 2.5 billion DNA letters long, comes nearly
two years after the human genome was sequenced. Side-by-side
the comparisons of the two are also yielding new insights
into the human genome. Scientists have unraveled but not
fully deciphered this. Initial comparison of the mouse and
human genomes shows that the species are closely related
at a genetic level, even though the two last shared a common
mammal ancestor 75 million years ago.
The mouse genome is about 14 per cent smaller than its human
counterpart, but each species has about 30,000 genes. A
full 99 per cent of a mouse’s genes have counterparts
in humans, including genes that cause mice to have tails.
Researchers say that more than 90 per cent of genes associated
with diseases are identical in humans and mice, underscoring
the value of the latter in laboratory experiments.
Scientists are hoping that they would soon complete similar
blueprints of the rat, cow, chimpanzee and dog. This will
allow even more comparative genomic work. Genomic comparisons
are expected to shed more light on the evolutionary history
and biological diversity. For example, mice have more genes
related to smell and mating than humans do.