Author Archives: Ritesh R Jaiswal

Nirbheek: First Women Gun

Giving more power to women to defend themselves and as a tribute to December 2012 ganrape victim Nirbhaya, the Indian Ordnance Factory, Kanpur, has manufactured Nirbheek, a .32 bore light weight revolver, India’s first firearm designed for women. At 500 grams, it is also the first IOF handgun made of titanium alloy.

Priced at Rs 1,22,360, Nirbheek was launched on January 6 and has already received around 80 formal enquiries and over 20 bookings. At least 80% bookings are from women licensees. Described by arms experts as an Indian hybrid of a Webley & Scott and Smith & Wesson, for its simple mechanism and light frame, it is the smallest revolver made in India — an ideal to fit a purse or a small hand bag.

The revolver is capable of firing six rounds loaded in a revolving chamber, hence any misfire of a round does not affect next shot, unlike in a pistol. Keeping in mind the target clientele, the IOF Kanpur has also ordered specially designed boxes lined with velvet to make it more attractive.

[Courtesy – TOI]

Kudankulam Unit-2 by Sept’14

koodankulam

The second unit of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) will start generating electricity from September, Union Minister V Narayanasamy said on Friday, 10 Jan 2014. According to him, ninety-five per cent of the work for second unit of the plant has been completed and commercial operation of second unit will start from the unit by September 2014.

The first unit of KKNPP, built with Russian assistance, has already started generating power and is connected to the Southern grid. The first unit is currently generating 440 MW of electricity and all the power generated goes to Tamil Nadu. After taking necessary permissions from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), soon it will start production of 750 MW and, the plant will start generating 1000 MW of electricity by February 2014. 

The KKNPP units 1 and 2 are currently the largest power generating units in the country with a capacity of 1000 MW each. The plant is the result of an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed between India and erstwhile USSR in November 1988 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Construction started March 2002. Talks with Russia over Unit 3 and 4 are stuck over the liability clause of the Civil Liability Nuclear Damage Act 2010.

KKNPP reactors are VVER-1000 0r WWER-1000 (water-cooled, water-moderated power reactors) based on Uranium fuel.  This is the first time that the NPCIL is dealing with Light Water Reactor (LWR) technology.

Chandrayaan-II by 2017

Moon_2

After successful Chandrayaan-I mission which was meant to orbit the Moon, India is gearing up to launch Chandrayaan-II by 2016-17, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said on Friday, 10 January 2014.

Chandrayaan-I, India’s first unmanned lunar probe was launched using a PSLV-XL rocket by ISRO in 2008. The spacecraft was orbiting around the Moon at a height of 100 km from the lunar surface for chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic mapping of the Moon.

Chandrayaan-II is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission to Moon. ISRO’s capability to soft-land on the lunar surface will be demonstrated with this mission.

Chandrayaan-II was supposed to be an Indo-Russia joint mission, but after failed Phobos-Grunt mission (Russian Mars mission) in 2011, Russia decided to review it. The review would have put our mission on hold till 2017, so ISRO decided to go ahead on our own and build our own lander and rover. ISRO has done a feasibility study and would be able to develop a lander and rover in 2-3 years. Now Chandrayaan-II will have indigenously developed rover and a lander using the Geo-Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

Mr. Radhakrishnan, however, added that there were a few technological elements in a lander which need to be developed, like reducing the velocity of a lander as it comes for soft landing, development the mechanism involved in a lander and to locate precisely where to land by taking pictures and then steering the lander to landing place.

[Courtesy – The Hindu, HT]

IPQAT: Xpert TB Test

GBS

About IPAQT Initiative

The Initiative for Promoting Affordable and Quality TB tests (IPAQT) is a platform to bring Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) or WHO-approved tests at affordable prices to patients in the private sector. Under the Initiative, 54 private sector labs and clinics have come together with a commitment to provide quality tests for Tuberculosis (TB) at a subsidised price in India. These tests are:

  • GeneXpert test
  • Hain Genotype test
  • MGIT test
  • BacT/Alert test

This disease affects 2 million people annually in India, and each undiagnosed and falsely diagnosed case spreads the disease in their family and their community. The early diagnosis, followed by early treatment is the solution to this disease that even today, kills about 1000 Indians every 24 hours.

Objectives of the Initiative

  1. To facilitate the delivery of validated tests to the TB patient at affordable prices.
  2. To promote the use of validated TB tests through a coordinated communications and behaviour change effort to replace suboptimal tests and build awareness about the validated tests among health providers.

In eight months since the novel initiative IPAQT was launched, the number people accessing these labs for the subsidised tests has risen to 30,000. Of them, over 15,000 people have availed the geneXpert test.

But starting January 15, 2014, the cost of the subsidised geneXpert test will go up from Rs.1700 to Rs.2000. Probably the compulsion to increase the price was due to the depreciation of rupee against the U.S. dollar. Labs which are not part of the IPAQT initiative charge anywhere between Rs.3500 and Rs. 5000 for the geneXpert test.

GeneXpert Advantages

While the sensitivity of smear microscopy (a popular but suboptimal testing method) is about 50 per cent, Xpert has 90 per cent sensitivity. It can therefore diagnose more people who have TB and with a greater degree of confidence. It can turn in results in about two hours.

And unlike smear microscopy, geneXpert can also indicate resistance to rifampicin-a first-line TB drug. Almost 98 per cent of people who are resistant to rifampicin are also resistant to isoniazid, another first-line TB drug. A person is said to have Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) when he is resistant to at least two first-line TB drugs. In short, Xpert can help doctors know if a patient suffers from MDR-TB even before starting treatment.

Replacement of unreliable Serological test

A ban on the serological test by the government of India, will go a long way in correctly diagnosing TB disease on time. The serological TB test diagnoses TB disease based on the presence of antibody response. But the presence or absence of antibody response does not reflect the true TB disease status. Hence, serological test is a highly unreliable for diagnosing TB disease. This ban had created a void in the diagnostic tests that the private labs could offer. The IPAQT initiative is now successfully filling this vacuum.

While the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) uses geneXpert and other WHO-approved diagnostic tests only for retreatment cases (where the patient had earlier been successfully treated for TB), private practitioners prefer geneXpert even in the case of fresh cases.

[Courtesy – The Hindu, ipaqt.org]

Malaria Diagnosis by Light

Researchers in the U.S. have come up with a way to rapidly diagnose malaria simply by shining brief pulses of laser light through the skin. This method is distinct from all previous diagnostic approaches, which all rely upon using a needle to obtain blood, require reagents to detect the infection, and are time and labour consuming.

Mechanism

When a malaria parasite invades Red Blood Cells, it eats up the oxygen carrying molecule haemoglobin and turns the iron-containing haeme component into an insoluble pigment, haemozoin. The technique developed by Dr. Lapotko and his colleagues relies on detecting the haemozoin in red blood cells.

They achieve this by using a narrow band of near-infrared light that is strongly absorbed by haemozoin but not haemoglobin. The laser heated up the tiny particles of haemozoin, causing a formation of “vapour nanobubble” around each particle. These bubbles expand explosively and then collapse with a characteristic sound that could be picked up with an ultrasound sensor.

The scientists demonstrated the technique in animal trials using malaria-infected mice. The first trial of the technology in humans was expected to begin in early 2014.

Limitations

The method would be unable to distinguish between two species of the parasite, Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax that cause malaria in India. Treatment depended on which parasite was infecting a patient.

Moreover, haemozoin may persist in the blood even after the parasite has been cleared. With this technique, a previously-infected individual who had another bout of fever from some other cause might potentially be misdiagnosed as having malaria.

[Courtesy – The Hindu]

GSAT-14

sat

GSAT-14 is the 23rd geostationary communication satellite of India built by ISRO. It has a life span of 12 years. This satellite carries 12 transponders (6 extended C-band and 6 Ku-band transponders) and it will be useful for telecommunication, broadcasting television programmes, telemedicine and beaming tele-education programmes for college students.

It also carries two 2 Ka-band Beacons operating at 20.2 GHz and 30.5 GHz to carry out attenuation studies and research into how weather affects satellite communications.

This is the first domestic satellite to be successfully placed in orbit by the GSLV-MkII. An earlier launch attempt on 19 August 2013 was scrubbed due to second stage fuel leak in launch vehicle. Finally, the satellite was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, atop a GSLV-D5 rocket at on 5 January 2014. The significance of the GSLV-D5 mission was that it featured an indigenous upper cryogenic stage.

GSLV-MkII is 3 staged launch vehicle mighty enough to lift heavy communication satellites. Its first stage comprises solid booster with four liquid strap-ons, second stage is liquid engine and the third stage is a cryo stage.

Prithvi-II User Trial Successful

Prithvi-ii

Strategic Forces Command (SFC) on Tuesday, 7 Jan 2014 successfully conducted a user trial of surface-to-surface nuclear capable ballistic missile Prithvi-II from the integrated test range at Chandipur as a part of “a scenario-based live launch training exercise”. It has achieved single digit accuracy reaching close to zero circular error probability (CEP).

Such training launches clearly indicate India’s operational readiness to meet any eventuality and also establishes the reliability of this deterrent component of India’s Strategic arsenal.

Prithvi-II class is a single-stage liquid fuelled missile, which is capable of carrying warheads between 500 kg and 1,000 kg and has a strike range of 350 km. Inducted into the SFC in 2003, Prithvi-II was the first missile to be developed by DRDO under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP).

Prithvi was initially supposed to be a 150 km “tactical” battlefield missile with conventional warheads but later its role was expanded to include the “strategic” one as well with 500 to 1000 kg nuclear payloads. Prithvi-II was developed to succeed Prithvi-I, a tactical missile which has been phased out.

The naval version of the Prithvi-II is Dhanush, which can carry a nuclear warhead of 500 kg over 250 km.

Understanding Bitcoins

bitcoins

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a type of virtual currency, created in 2009 by an unknown person named Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions in this system are made with no middle men, banks or regulator agency. They are a completely decentralized form of money and aren’t backed by any government. People can use this digital currency for all sorts of real transactions.

Why Bitcoins?

Bitcoins can be used to buy merchandise anonymously. In addition, international payments are easy and cheap because there is no transaction fee and bitcoins are not tied to any country or subject to regulation. Some people just buy bitcoins as an investment, hoping that they’ll go up in value.

Acquiring Bitcoins

Buy on an Exchange: Several marketplaces called “bitcoin exchanges” allow people to buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies. Mt. Gox is the largest bitcoin exchange.

Transfers: People can send bitcoins to each other using mobile apps or their computers. It’s similar to sending cash digitally.

Mining: People compete to “mine” bitcoins using computers to solve complex mathematical problems. This is how bitcoins are created. Currently, a winner is rewarded with 25 bitcoins roughly every 10 minutes.

Owning Bitcoins

Bitcoins are stored in a “digital wallet,” which exists either in the cloud or on a user’s computer. The wallet is a kind of virtual account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins, pay for goods or save their money. Unlike bank accounts, bitcoin wallets are not insured.

Anonymity

Though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs. While that keeps bitcoin users’ transactions private, it also lets them buy or sell anything without easily tracing it back to them. That’s why it has become the currency of choice for people online buying drugs or other illicit activities.

Future of Bitcoins

Confidence in bitcoins has grown after a US Senate committee considered it as a legitimate financial service at a meeting in October 2013. Within the time span of 5 years the value of bitcoin rose from few cents to 1000 USD.

Still it is too early to say anything about the future of bitcoins. China has banned its banks from handling bitcoin transactions, saying they have no legal status and should not be used as a currency. The European Banking Authority has already warned about the potential risks of using Bitcoins.

Bitcoins in India

Bitcoin is catching the attention of India too. Many investors are considering it as a good investment option compared to a traditional currency because it has a limited supply. Others are downloading the software to “mine” this currency. Across India, some of the retail outlets have expressed their willingness to accept Bitcoins. The Reserve Bank of India is closely watching the growth of bitcoins but is not currently regulating the currency.

GSLV-D5: India in ‘Cryo Club’

gslvd5

Leaving behind its past failures, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) heavy rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Development 5 (GSLV-D5) cruised through the Earth’s atmosphere to successfully place GSAT-14 communications satellite into the orbit on Sunday.

GSLV-D5 with the indigenous cryogenic engine lifted-off successfully as per schedule from the spaceport at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. With the successful launch of GSLV-D5 flight India has now become the sixth nation to possess the cryogenic engine technology, and has joined the elite club of the United States, Russia, France, Japan and China. A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt. Cryogenic fuels are extremely clean as they give out only water while burning.

The Rs 356 crore mission’s success comes as a big relief for ISRO after two back-to-back failures of the GSLV flights in 2010 — the first, with an indigenous cryogenic engine, on April 15 and the next, with a Russian cryogenic engine, on December 25. The last GSLV launch on August 19, 2013 was called off minutes before the take-off due to leakage of liquid fuel from the rocket’s second stage. According to ISRO, several design changes had been incorporated in GSLV-D5 rocket after studying the past GSLV rockets and reasons behind their failure.

The successful flight of GSLV is the first step towards building rockets that can carry heavier payloads, up to four tonnes. The cryogenic engine technology will help the Indian agency save precious foreign exchange by launching communication satellites by itself than depending on foreign rockets. This success will also give a major boost to Indian Space Missions. Chadrayaan-II and many future missions are based on GSLV.

The cuboid shaped Rs. 45 crore GSAT-14 is India’s 23rd geostationary satellites built by ISRO. It has a life span of 12 years. The 1,982 kg satellite carries six extended C-band and Ku-band transponders (receivers and transmitters of signals), and two Ka-band becons.

(Courtesy: The Hindu, Zee Media)

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