Category Archives: Science & Technology

Repackaging 1,000-yr-old ideas to revive a system of medicine

Malegaon (Mumbai) , MAHARASHTRA :

The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity).

Dr Yusuf Ansari has authored over two dozen books which are used by Unani and MBBS students across India. Mayur Bargaje
Dr Yusuf Ansari has authored over two dozen books which are used by Unani and MBBS students across India. Mayur Bargaje

The Unani system of medicine, which was introduced by the Arabs and Persians sometime in the 11th century, is said to be dying a slow death. Though India is still one of the leading countries in Unani medicine today, with the largest number of educational, research and healthcare institutions, the number of Unani practitioners here is far less than what it was in the past. In Maharashtra, a doctor has been making efforts to make Unani medicine system more relevant and accessible in contemporary India. Dr Yusuf Ansari, a 62-year-old resident of Malegaon, has authored over two dozen books in the past two decades which are used by Unani students across the country. The books are based on the Unani medical curricula laid down by the government, but some of them, like the ones on physiology, surgery and pathology, are also referred by MBBS students.

The system’s beginnings can be traced to the teachings of ancient Greek physicians like Hippocrates, and its principle revolves around strengthening the ‘Quwwat-e-Mudabbira-e-Badan’ (immunity). The foremost book on Unani — ‘The Canon of Medicine’ — was written by Avicenna in the ninth century. While Avicenna’s works were followed by other writers as well, the content and language of these books made them a bit difficult for students to follow. “All these books are scholarly pieces, but seeing that many students found these books a little difficult to follow, I attempted to write a book which would be in tune with the contemporary times and would be lucid and understandable for students as well,” said Ansari.

Ansari’s first attempt was a book called ‘Tahafuzz-e-Tibb’, or preventive and social medicine. “The idea was to link the concept of Unani medicine with contemporary medical problems. I wrote the book to make this effective medical form understandable and more relevant. The book, however, was published only in 1996 after which I was asked to write more on the subject,” said Ansari.

Interestingly, Ansari’s primary degree has not been in Unani medicine. Coming from a very humble background, Ansari gained an MA in English, and for a time used to work for Rs 20 per week. He eventually joined a Unani college as an English language teacher to make ends meet. It was only in his 30s that Ansari’s interest in Unani medicine peaked and he decided to pursue a degree in it at the same college where he taught English.

Apart from Unani medicine, Ansari also writes in various science journals on subjects such as electronics and information technology. Ansari believes that education is the only way to empower communities in the country. His son Mohammad is the first IITian to emerge out of Malegaon. His sister Dr Zubaida Ansari was the first female scientist from Malegaon and is now a part of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Basic Sciences. His nephew Aleem Faizee runs a popular community website in Malegaon. “Today, this medicinal system is suffering because it is seen to be associated with a certain community. My attempts have been to ensure that people open their minds and see things for what they are really worth,” says Ansari.

source: http://www.indianexpress.com / The Indian Express / Home> India / by Zeeshan Shaikh , Malegaon / July 10th, 2017

Muslim doctor, Hindu compounder spread message of peace in violence-hit Basirhat

Basirat, WEST BENGAL :

Compounder Debprasad Bairagi (left) has been working for the last 35 years with Dr Kaseed Ali (right) in Basirhat.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)
Compounder Debprasad Bairagi (left) has been working for the last 35 years with Dr Kaseed Ali (right) in Basirhat.(Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Dr Kaseed Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi have been working together for nearly 35 years. Ali tells his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member.

Patients coming out of doctor Kaseed Ali’s chamber in violence-hit Trimohini area of Basirhat town are carrying, apart from the medical prescription, advice on communal harmony.

Ali and his compounder Deboprasad Boiragi are working together for nearly 35 years. Ali has made it a point to tell each of his patients that Boiragi has been no less than a family member and any loss to him would have been a personal loss to the Ali family.

“Over the last five days, I was always tense about his family’s security. I told the local leaders from my community to ensure his safety. Fortunately, since I have been practising here for the past 45 years, the leaders took my advice seriously and Debu’s family is safe,” Ali said.

“I find no difference between Debu and my two sons. I consider his wife as my own daughter-in-law and his kids as my own grandchildren,” Ali says.

Boiragi said a doctor’s chamber is the right place to spread the message of communal harmony.

“We are telling everyone how our professional engagement led to emotional bonding between two families and this was normal for Basirhat. It is not that patients are unaware of these facts. But it is time we remind each other of the true character and traditions of Basirhat,” Boiragi said.

Close to his chamber is a medicine shop run by Benoy Krishna Pal, who was horrified by the violence at Trimohini. He even planned on leaving the town with his family, until a Muslim friend, Gazi, asked him not to.

However, Gazi refused to take any credit.

“I did not do anything special to be thanked for. Anybody would have done the same to save a childhood friend. We are like brothers,” he said.

source: http://www.hindustantimes.com / Hindustan Times / Home> India / by Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri / Hindustan Tim ess, Bashirat (West Bengal) / July 10th, 2017

Ramadan on the North Dakota Prairie – Forging an American-Muslim Experience

Hyderabad, TELANGANA / North Dakota, USA :

The author, his wife and three children circa late 1970s in North Dakota.
The author, his wife and three children circa late 1970s in North Dakota.

This is Day 22 of the 2017 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series – June 17, 2017

by Syed Husain

It was in the summer of 1976, following my post-doctoral assignment at Stanford Research Institute in California, I was offered a faculty position at University of North Dakota, School of Medicine. Although it was a tempting offer, leaving San Francisco and moving to Grand Forks with three small children was a difficult thing to consider.

Recalling the Persian proverb, “Mulk-e-Khuda Tang Neest, Pa-e-mera Lung Neest” (The Kingdom of God has no limits and no broken legs do I have to limit my travel), I decided to accept this offer – though I knew a Muslim community to draw on for support in North Dakota would be virtually nil.

A leap of faith indeed, but as a Muslim, I had a firm belief in my Creator and my destiny.

As we started our journey across the country, it was full of amusement and excitement. We only had ourselves to rely on – myself, my wife, and my three children, ages seven, four and one. The passage through Yosemite with tall redwoods, the majestic Grand Tetons, the enchanting Yellowstone National Park, the amazing Mount Rushmore and the Badlands was an experience to behold.

Finally, we arrived in the small college town of Grand Forks. And, we found the people of this land of Aurora Borealis, sun-dogs, snow and tumble-weed to be friendly, hospitable and compassionate.

After settling in the faculty housing, my priority was to find out how many Muslims, including students, were on campus. As the Ramadan was approaching, I wondered if they had facilities to pray and observe Ramadan. Surprisingly, I found only one another Muslim faculty and a handful of students with no place to worship. Later, I located four more families in a radius of fifty miles from Grand Forks that became the “core group” of Muslims in the area.

In this isolation, as Ramadan arrived, we made frantic calls to Chicago, Montreal, Minneapolis and Winnipeg to confirm the sighting of the moon. To determine the duration of fast and follow the fiqh ruling, we decided to follow the times in Winnipeg, the closest city with a sizable Muslim population. Those were long days — we were fasting for 19 hours a day with the sun setting around 9:45 p.m.

The University had appointed me as Muslim Faculty Adviser, and I was able to get space in the student union for our Jummah prayers and iftars. This small community had no provision for halal meat and no place to buy spices and other ingredients to prepare our food. A good Samaritan in the community located a farmer, who helped us sacrifice a heifer or a black angus.

This farmer became the source our halal meat supply for the rest of our stay (15 years) in North Dakota. Families would share the meat and drive to Winnipeg or as far as Chicago to get condiments and other supplies. The spouses in this small core group got together and started preparing meals, iftar and sahoor for their families and for students as well on weekends. We began to feel the baraka (blessings) of Ramadan in this newly formed community.

Fasting was difficult, but we managed and grew closer as a family (and as a married couple) in doing so. When we finally made it to iftar time around 9:45 p.m. and broke our fast, my wife and I (we were the only ones fasting in our family in the ‘70s) were grateful. Our children would beg us to take them to McDonald’s for ice cream after we prayed Maghreb and ate dinner, around 10:30 p.m. at night, but it was hard to get the energy to do so.

The nights we rallied and took them were very special to all of us – small treats that meant so much to our children and to us.

The summer season in North Dakota is short, sweet and very precious. It was amazing to see farmers busy harvesting crops under floodlights into the wee hours of the night. Our neighborhood on the outskirts of Grand Forks bordered a large farming field. The rumbling noise of trucks hauling beetroot and sunflower seeds were a reminder to us to get up for our sahoor.

I recalled my childhood days back in Hyderabad, India, when at sahoor time hawkers pass through Muslim neighborhoods singing local folklore, breaking the quiet of the night as these trucks did and reminding the community that sahoor time was soon to end.

Our children (and the daughter of one other Muslim family in town) were the only Muslim students in their schools. The school authorities were kind, compassionate and understanding. They were cognizant of the Islamic principles and provided our children with a private bathing facility and a place to worship. This was back in the 1980s in an educational community that probably had never seen or interacted with Muslim kids before.

Alhamdulillah, this conducive, inclusive and inter-faith understanding of the teachers and the school district authorities nurtured a healthy, positive civic atmosphere and a sense of belonging for our children. Our children use to wait eagerly for the arrival of Ramadan and for the celebration of two Eids.

These occasions were a real source of joy to these few host Muslim families and their children and to the small group of students. We celebrated Eids in a church, in an International Students’ Home on campus and in our homes.

This was our Little Mosque on the Prairie much before the celebrated television show.

This was our forging of an American-Muslim experience in a community that sometimes didn’t understand us, but developed friendships and deep relationships with us based on love, kindness and mutual respect.

In our sojourn of 15 years (1976-1991) in North Dakota, we also saw swings in the population of Muslim students and in the community due to graduations, termination of University of North Dakota’s Pilot Training programs with Gulf Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines and faculty transfers/retirements. In recent years, the economy of North Dakota has improved greatly due to oil exploration in Williston Basin.

The city of Fargo (one of the largest cities in North Dakota, about an hour away from Grand Forks) has seen a sizeable number of Muslim immigrants arriving. The city of Grand Forks also has its share and has seen a surge in new arrivals. We wish them all a Happy Ramadan and Eid Mubarak.

Syed Husain, Ph.D. is a retired professor of Pharmacology at the School of Medicine, University of North Dakota and a retired Scientific Review Administrator at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. He now has eight grandchildren forging their own American-Muslim experience.

source:  http://www.patheos.com / Patheos / Home> altmuslim / by Syed Asif, Guest Contributor / June 17th, 2017

Carving out a space for himself

Pallapatti / Chennai , TAMIL NADU :

(From left) Zahid Husain, Alhaj A. Mohammed Ashraf, Mohamed Rifath Shaarook Raaj and Amanullah Shah | Photo Credit: special arrangement
(From left) Zahid Husain, Alhaj A. Mohammed Ashraf, Mohamed Rifath Shaarook Raaj and Amanullah Shah | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Mohamed Rifath has just joined a physics undergraduate course at New College, but his classmates and teachers are seeing him as a star scientist. Read on and find out why

Can you imagine a fresher receiving a rousing welcome at his college, on the day of joining? When Mohamed Rifath Shaarook Raaj recently joined the B.Sc Physics stream of New College, he was being accorded a reception befitting a celebrity. Not only that, the secretary and correspondent of the college, A. Mohammed Ashraf, had waived off his fee for the undergraduate course, and also promised that the college would take care of his education till he completed his Ph.D.

Rifath, 18 years old, is the Lead Scientist of Space Kidz India (SKI), a Chennai-based organisation promoting students’ research in science and working towards making science accessible to students. Rifath is part of a team that has designed a satellite, which is expected to be launched into space on 21 June, 2017 from the NASA Wallops Space Flight Facility, Virginia, at no cost.

Major Zahid Husain, principal of the college, said that fellow students should emulate this young scientist and that it was a great honour for the college to enrol him. The student scientist has not only taken the local educationalists by storm but even the judges and directors of Colorado Space Grans Consortium were awe-struck by his experiment. Thus his satellite (supported by his team-mates) is planned to be launched into space on June 21, 2017 from NASA Wallops Space Flight Felicity, Virginia at no cost.

“NASA and I doodle Learning Inc. conducted a space challenge called ‘Cubes in Space’. Students have to design an experimental satellite which will help develop space technology. The best-designed satellite will get a sub-orbital space flight to real space on a NASA Rocket. Being a member of the NASA Kids Club, I learnt about this challenge and decided to design together with my team, an experimental satellite that will fit inside a 4cm cube and weigh 64 grams with +/- 1 gram limit (neither high nor less since it may affect the centre of gravity). Apart from creating just a payload, we wanted to design, build and launch a full satellite within a 4cm cube with a mass of 64 grams,” he explains.

Rifath, who hails from Pallapatti in Tamil Nadu, completed his schooling from Crescent Matriculation School, scoring 62.5% in the higher secondary board exams, and wants to emulate former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

“It all started when I was chided for making paper rockets; so I was determined to make a real one. I participated in the first edition of Young Scientist-2013 conducted by Space Kidz India and met its director Srimathy. I participated till the third edition of Young Scientist, even though I didn’t win but she noticed my talent. Then, I joined the organisation. My initial project with SKI was making a balloon-satellite with NSLV (Near Space Launch Vehicle) which was a huge success and we got into the Limca Book of Records and became the first private company in India to launch an NSLV. After launching a balloon-satellite to near space (>40km altitude), we wanted to send a satellite or a spacecraft to true Space (>100km where the Karman line and official true space starts). At first, we concentrated on the standard one unit 10cm cube satellite of 1kg mass but as we proceeded, we realised the cost would be too high. As students we were strapped for money and therefore, reduced the size and mass of the Cube satellites (Cube Satellite itself is a Nano satellite but we wanted to reduce the size further).

“At first, we wanted to create something similar to Kicksats but they are not true satellites but just a postcard sized PCB with non-customisable electronics, which cannot work, without a big mother satellite — in other words, it’s just a Space toy. But we always wanted to create an independent full-fledged fully-customisable, scalable, low-cost satellite with new technology. Initially we designed a 125gram, 5cm cube satellite which is 1/8th of a standard cube satellite which will also reduce the cost of the launch. But later, due to NASA’s challenge guidelines we built a 3.8cm independent cube satellite. Previously, a 5cm cube satellite was the smallest satellite, but now we are about to break that record and it’s also going to be the first 3D-printed satellite to be launched into space.

“Here, we are only talking about sub-orbital spaceflight in which our satellite will go into space on a rocket, do the research and land again on surface/ocean in a capsule, so the students can get back their satellite, research more and create a better space system which can be used in orbital and interplanetary missions. Our aim is not to just send a Cube satellite, built from Off-the-shelf components previously available in space market, and launch that into space. Our invention is to create a new space platform. We are also creating a space platform where our future scientists can develop their own payloads, and, for example, we can use this kind of Femto satellite constellations as Ham Radio reflectors which we can use in disaster-like situations when all other communications may fail.

We may face solar flares which may destroy satellites outside earth’s magnetosphere (36,000 km altitude). In situations like these, these Femto satellites can be a backup; they can be quickly launched and protected by an artificial magnetosphere, since they are very small. This satellite is fully 3D-printed, other than electronics.”

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / by M.O. Badsha / June 16th, 2017

MCEME graduates make cell-controlled lighting system

Hyderabad, TELANGANA :

Appreciating efforts: JNTU Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Venugopal Reddy interacting with students who designed the street lights control system and exhibited at Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering during convocation ceremony in Hyderabad on Thursday. | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI
Appreciating efforts: JNTU Hyderabad Vice Chancellor Venugopal Reddy interacting with students who designed the street lights control system and exhibited at Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering during convocation ceremony in Hyderabad on Thursday. | Photo Credit: K.V.S. GIRI

If it were left to young engineers of Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering, Country’s street lights would be auto-operated. The 91st graduating batch of the college produced a GSM connected, cell phone-operated lighting system which can be turned on and off based on requirement.

The power-saving circuit built by Noushad M.E., Ashish Kaushik, Sumit Dhanda and Akhil A.R. cost ₹ 57,200. It could be used for both civilian and defence purposes, the innovators said. The model also allows operators to operate just one or two light bulbs in a whole series. “If the operator thinks that just a few light bulbs are enough for lighting any area, they could turn off the rest by texting the details into the circuit,” said Mr. Akhil A.R. The model displayed in MCEME contained a circuit connected to six bulbs.

“The model also detects faulty operations if there are any. If a light bulb goes off, it will alert the operator,” M.E. Noushad told The Hindu. Mr. Sumit Dhanda said the project will be useful in huge military campuses which use power. “If the model is adopted by city development corporations it could cut power costs by one third,” said Mr. Dhanda. The MCEME awarded its annual best project prize to the four officers at its Convocation Ceremony on Thursday.

The MCEME passing out batch had also come up with a simple solution – a microcontroller-based automatic ventilation system – for car interiors which get heated when parked in the open. The ventilator contains a small control unit and a solar-powered exhaust fan which runs on external battery.

The microcontroller which is programmed to check the status of temperature and humidity inside the car every two seconds, triggers the exhaust fan when needed, to clear out the heat,” said an officer Vipin Jaiswal and the team leader. Other members of the project were Mukesh Thakur, M. Hariharan and M.S. Shakhavat.

Military boost

The college displayed a solar rechargeable backpack for troopers among its exhibits. The backpack with solar panels can be used as a tracking devise when soldiers go for long treks in the field, graduates said. “In any dire circumstance if the user presses a button on the backpack it sends a Save Our Souls message to control base. It will help officers to track those who are in danger during combat situation,” said Pankaj Saini who was the syndicate leader of the team which came up with the model. The other members in the team were Harmeet Singh, Sachin Yadav and Sagar.

Speaking at the convocation, A. Venugopal Reddy, Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University asked the graduates to pay attention to new developments in cyber security and be abreast of technological innovations. “Your convocation is not like others’ passing out functions. You leave this institution to serve the motherland,” Mr. Reddy said.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by Nikhila Henry / Hyderabad – June 16th, 2017

Students go innovative, price of their drone dips

Bengaluru , KARNATAKA :

KNS Institute of Technology students display the drones designed by them at Eduverse, the ninth edition of Jnana Degula education expo organised by Deccan Herald and Prajavani, at Jayamahal Palace Hotel grounds on Sunday. DH photo
KNS Institute of Technology students display the drones designed by them at Eduverse, the ninth edition of Jnana Degula education expo organised by Deccan Herald and Prajavani, at Jayamahal Palace Hotel grounds on Sunday. DH photo

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Rs 1,500? Students of KNS Institute of Technology have done it, without much fanfare. They plan to enhance the design to customise the drones for surveillance and transporting goods.

The makers of the plane – Inayatullah, Debabrata Mondal, Premkumar Singh and Syed Junaid – represented their college along with vice principal Nayeem Ahmad at Jnana Degula-Eduverse event organised by DH and Prajavani.

Inayatullah said the plane was made of simple polymer materials (expanded polyolefin and polystyrene) and can carry 350 gm payload. “It can fly for an hour at a speed of 45 km per hour. We have used a propeller made of composite material with aluminium coating so that it can fly at a height of 500 feet and withstand force of up to 85 newtons,” he said.

The team is also working on a plane specifically designed for surveillance.“While the 45 kmph plane can be improvised to make it a delivery drone, we are working on a plane that flies slower, at 36 kmph, providing opportunities for deeper surveillance of a particular area,” Mondal said.

Inayatullah said the cost of the UAVs will come down further if produced on a large scale. “The UAVs produced by government agencies cost a lot. Our planes are disposable. The army can use the surveillance drone and does not have to worry if one of them is lost or destroyed,” he said.

The planes can be controlled by a 2.4GHz radio frequency device, which has a range of 2.5 km. “The remote controller cost us Rs 3,500. Considering that it is the plane and not the device that is susceptible to damage, we think ours is the most affordable UAV,” he said.

“The turbo is imported from China for Rs 90 and sold in India for Rs 250. The same turbo can be made in India at a cost of Rs 40. Nearly 95% of the materials were imported from China. After a detailed study, we found the cost will come down to Rs 600, if we make these materials in India,” Inayatullah said.

source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home> City / DH News Service / Bengaluru – May 29th, 2017

In tribute to Kalam, NASA names new species after him

 

Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India's first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala. DH Photo
Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India’s first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala. DH Photo

In great news for India, scientists at NASA have named a new organism discovered by them after the much-loved A P J Abdul Kalam.

Till date, the new organism — a form of a bacteria — has been found only on the International Space Station (ISS) and has not been found on earth!

Researchers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the foremost lab of NASA for work on inter-planetary travel, discovered the new bacteria on the filters of the International Space Station (ISS) and named it Solibacillus kalamii to honour the late president, who was a renowned aerospace scientist.

Kalam had his early training at NASA in 1963 before he set up India’s first rocket-launching facility in the fishing village of Thumba in Kerala.

“The name of the bacterium is Solibacillus kalamii, the species name is after Dr Abdul Kalam and genus name is Solibacillus which is a spore forming bacteria,” said Dr Kasthuri Venkateswaran, senior research scientist, Biotechnology and Planetary Protection Group at JPL.

The filter on which the new bug was found remained on board the ISS for 40 months. Called a high-efficiency particulate arrestance filter or HEPA filter, this part is the routine housekeeping and cleaning system on board the international space station.

This filter was later analysed at JPL and only this year did Venkateswaran publish his discovery in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

According to Venkateswaran, even as it orbits the earth some 400 kilometres above, the ISS is home to many types of bacteria and fungi which co-inhabit the station with the astronauts who live and work on the station.

Venkateswaran said even though Solibacillus kalamii has never been found on earth till date, it is really not an extra-terrestrial life form or ET.

“I am reasonably sure it has hitch hiked to the space station on board some cargo and then survived the hostile conditions of space,” explained Venkateswaran.

Naming the new microbe after Kalam was natural to Venkateswaran and his team.

“Being a fellow Tamilian, I am aware of the huge contributions by Dr. Kalam,” he said.
New bacteria are usually named after famous scientists.

Venkateswaran is part of a team which is asking that eternal question “are we alone in the universe?”

Towards that, his responsibilities include monitoring the bug levels on the ISS and he also has to ensure that all spacecraft that fly to other planets are free of terrestrial bugs.

One of his big jobs was to ensure that NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover — the massive car-sized almost 1000 kg buggy — was totally sterile when it left earth.

By international law, this extreme hygiene is required else other planets could get contaminated by bugs that reach the Martian or other planets hidden on human satellites.

Today the ISS is the size of a football field and its construction started with a launch in 1998 and as of now it is the largest human-made object orbiting the earth.

Weighing about 419 tonnes, it can house a maximum of six astronauts and has costs roughly USD 150 billion.

Till date, 227 astronauts have flown to the space station. This makes the space station actually a very dirty place and maintaining hygiene is critical so that humans can live on it with ease.

On the space station all the air and water is recycled, being a completely closed environment there is a rapid build- up of moulds and bacteria on the station.

These not only have to be cleaned but monitored to ensure that they do not corrode the walls of the space station and do not turn hazardous to the astronauts.

Venkateswaran’s main job is to monitor the environment of the space station so that harmful bugs do not proliferate.

He heads the ‘Microbial Observatory’ on the ISS projects to measure microorganisms associated with compartments owned by the US.

According to NASA, he also directs several research and development tasks for the JPL – Mars Program Office, which enables the cleaning, sterilisation, and validation of spacecraft components.

He directs several NASA competitive awards on the microbial monitoring of spacecraft and associated environments for the Exploration System Mission Directorate, closed habitats like ISS or its earth analogues for the Human Exploration and Operation Mission Directorate.

But is the new bug of some use.

“These spore formers tend to withstand high radiation and also produce some useful compounds protein wise which will be helpful for biotechnology applications,” Venkateswaran said.

His team has not characterised the bacteria fully but he hints that the new bug could be a key source for chemicals that can help protect against radiation damage.

source: http://www.deccanherald.com / Deccan Herald / Home / Press Trust of India, Los Angeles / May 21st, 2017

IIT-H develops biodegradable nano-particles to treat cancer

Some of the members of the IIT-H team working to make cancer treatment better, on the institute’s campus in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: Mohd Arif;Mohd Arif
Some of the members of the IIT-H team working to make cancer treatment better, on the institute’s campus in Hyderabad. | Photo Credit: Mohd Arif;Mohd Arif

Team working on finding alternative to chemotherapy

The Indian Institute of Technology-Hyderabad (IIT-H) has developed biodegradable non-particles that could be instrumental in treating cancer.

A team led by assistant professor Aravind Kumar Rengan has been working on finding alternative ways to chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment to minimise side-effects caused by these therapies. He designed a novel nano system which kills the cancer cells by photothermal therapy.

The group is currently working on making more cost-effective nano particles for photothermal therapy, integrating these particles with cancer specific drugs to have an enhanced effect in killing cancer.

The team members involved in the research are Tejaswini Appidi, Syed Basseruddin, Deepak Bharadwaj, Anil Jogdand, Sushma, Anula — all Ph.D. scholars; junior research fellow Rama Singh, and postdoctoral fellow Surya Prakash Singh.

Photo thermal therapy is a treatment procedure where light (photo) energy is supplied by means of an external laser to nano particles which absorbs this energy and converts it to heat (thermal) energy. This heat generated by irradiation of laser would increase temperature within the tumour and result in the death of cancer cells.

No side-effects

The important aspects of the research is that the treatment procedure has no side-effects, since the nano particles would be accumulated in the tumour region, and also the irradiation is specific to particles, which means the heat is generated only within the tumour and not elsewhere in the body.

Also, the laser used to provide light energy would not harm the healthy cells around the tumour region as these healthy cells would not absorb this light energy as they remain transparent to this irradiation.

The nano particulate system is very unique in its own way. The particles, after generating the heat required to kill the cancer cells, will degrade inside the body and further breakdown into much smaller particles which will be excreted from the body.

“This procedure had very good results in experiments carried out in mice, and is expected to show the same in humans too. This treatment is now under clinical trials and once the trials are completed, this would be available as an alternative treatment procedure to cancer,” Dr. Rengan told The Hindu.

Dr. Rengan was recently awarded the prestigious INSA award in the young scientist category for his outstanding research in treatment of cancer by photothermal therapy using biodegradable particles.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Hyderabad / by R. Avadhani / May 19th, 2017

Meet the 18-year-old from Tamil Nadu who designed the world’s lightest satellite

PallaPatti,  TAMIL NADU :

On June 21 this year, history will be made with the launch of the world’s smallest ever satellite — KalamSat. The launch will also hold special significance for India, with 18-year-old Rifath Sharook, a native of Tamil Nadu, being the brains behind the satellite. This will be the first time an Indian student’s experiment will be operated by NASA.

18-year-old Rifath Sharook; Source- New York Post
18-year-old Rifath Sharook; Source- New York Post

Hailing from the Tamil Nadu town of Pallapatti, Sharook has truly achieved something special with the KalamSat. The satellite will be launched by the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and weighs only 64 grams. Named after India’s former President and nuclear scientist A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the satellite is slated to be launched from a NASA facility in Wallops Island.

Facebook donation helps save life of 9-month old Maldivian baby

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

Akiyal was born with a rare heart condition known as double outlet, right ventricle

Nine-month-old Akiyal with doctor Adil Sadiq (Photo: DC)
Nine-month-old Akiyal with doctor Adil Sadiq (Photo: DC)

Bengaluru:

Nine-month-old Akiyal’s father Farhan, an engineer from the Maldives, is all praise for Facebook.

“It was very difficult for us to generate funds for our son’s operation,” he says. “We could do it only because of Facebook.” Akiyal was born with a rare heart condition known as double outlet, right ventricle (DORV), a condition in which the blood vessel that carries oxygen-rich blood from the heart, is located in the wrong place.

“It was a complex surgery in the sense that the child was born with one side of the heart not developed, undeveloped left pumping chamber and a large hole in the heart along with a blockage of the artery going to the lung. He required a complex repair job, which wasn;t being done in the Maldives,” says the child’s treating doctor, Adil Sadiq, Head Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Sakra World Hospital.

Farhan says, “It was not possible to get funds in the Maldives, so my family and I decided to go online and ask for help from the social media. We went ahead with creating a Facebook page for our son.” They started the Facebook page, ‘Help Akiyal — Save A Child’s Heart’.

“We promoted the page by paying five dollars, which implied that 20,000 Facebook users would see the page,” says Farhan. In no time, people across the world saw it and donations started pouring in. “The money that we used to promote the page time and again was less than 100 dollars, but we were able to raise Rs 8 lakh over the course of the year,” adds Farhan.

This digital media approach helped Farhan to get donations from anonymous altruists in Sri Lanka, Belgium, Maldives and even Bangalore. Those who could not donate sent Akiyal their earnest prayers and blessings. By the end of the year, the page had 4,388 likes and thousands of people had visited it.

“She is now fine and we would be taking her back home to Malidives in a few days,” says an elated Farhan.

source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home>  Nation> Current Affairs / DC / by Joyeeta Chakravorty / May 25th, 2014