21, November 2016

1.Novel tool to may lead to Zika vaccines

Source: Indian Express

The new Zika replicon system has deleted some of the genes that give the virus its structure.

The Zika replicon system is considered as an advance novel tool that may pave the way for development vaccine to fight Zika virus.

How it works?

  • Scientists have developed a way to replicate the Zika virus, stripping it of the genes that make the virus infectious, an advance that may lower the safety risk involved in working with it and pave the way for vaccine development.
  • Replicons are segments of viral genome that can replicate on their own, independent of the cellular chromosome. The new Zika replicon system has deleted some of the genes that give the virus its structure.
  • The replicon system was engineered by attaching genes that allow researchers to tag certain parts of the virus that they are interested in. Luciferase, the chemical that gives fireflies their signature glow, was used to make targeted viral components light up – making processes like replication much easier to observe


  • Recent Zika virus outbreak has highlighted the urgent need to establish genetic tools for studying how the virus multiplies and causes disease in order to develop countermeasures.
  • It has also become important to deal with Zika virus which is spreading rapidly and behaves differently than other viruses as it can be transmitted sexually and is associated with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

Zika no longer a world public health emergency: WHO

GENEVA: The World Health Organization the Zika virus outbreak, linked to deformations in babies heads and brains, no longer poses a world public health emergency, though it warned the epidemic remains a challenge.


  • Zika causes only mild symptoms in most people, pregnant women with the virus risk giving birth to babies with microcephaly — a deformation that leads to abnormally small brains and heads.
  • It can also cause rare adult-onset neurological problems such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which can result in paralysis and even death.

In the outbreak that began in mid-2015, more than 1.5 million people have been infected with Zika, mainly in Brazil, and more than 1,600 babies have been born with microcephaly since last year, according to the WHO.


2.Paving the way to backpack-sized gravimetry

Source: The Hindu

A high degree of precision in measuring gravity comes in useful in many contexts — from minute measurements of plate tectonics and seismology to searching for minerals underground. Gravimeters, which are used for this purpose, are often bulky.

  • They are then made to traverse different paths using lasers, and the interference pattern is observed.
  • Measurements using this process can be made more precise if the atoms are first squeezed together to form a so-called Bose-Einstein condensate .

Bose Einstein condensate

This is a state of matter where all the atoms of the substance occupy the same quantum level – in other words, they coalesce into a blob and can be described by a single wave function.

  • Using atomic interferometry to measure gravity is not new and has been around for a while. In this method, atoms are cooled to a temperature near absolute zero when their quantum nature is dominant.
  • Using a Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) instead of independent atoms contributes to the aim of miniaturisation – the BEC has a diameter which is about a hundred times smaller than a non-BEC atom cloud.


Measure  of the gravitational field researchers suggest that further miniaturisation should be possible with some modifications and that this demonstration will pave the way for small high-precision backpack-sized gravimeters to help in geodetic earth observation and exploration.

3.PM Launches “Housing for All” in Rural Areas

Source: The Hindu

Pradhan MantriAwaasYojana (Gramin)

Prime Minister formally launched “Housing for All” in rural areas under which the Government proposes to provide an environmentally safe and secure pucca house to every rural household by 2022.

In its first phase the target is to complete one crore houses by March 2019.

PMAY-G is a major step forward in bringing together Skill India, Digital India, Make In India, IT/DBT Aadhaar platform and Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY).



4.INS Chennai

Source: The Hindu

With an overall length of 164 metres and displacement of over 7,500 tonnes, ‘INS Chennai’ is one of the largest destroyers in the Indian Navy’s fleet.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar commissioned ‘INS Chennai’, the third indigenously designed guided missile destroyer in the Kolkata class.

Built at the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai, the ship’s construction also marks the end of the Project 15A to build Kolkata class guided missile destroyers.

The ship is armed with supersonic surface-to-surface BrahMos missiles and Barak-8 long range surface-to-air missiles.

The ship is to be assigned to the western fleet after completion of some additional trials of systems deployed on it.

  • The first ship of the class, ‘INS Kolkata’, was commissioned on August 16, 2014 and ‘INS Kochi’ was commissioned on September 30, 2015.
  • The third destroyer will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command.

Mother Teresa award for Dhaka cafe attack victim

Source: The Hindu

FaraazAyaaz Hossain, one of the three Bangladeshi hostages killed in the terrorist attack on the Holey Cafe in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic zone on July 1, was awarded the Mother Teresa Memorial International Award for Social Justice for 2016.

The award was conferred posthumously by the Harmony Foundation in Mumba. Faraaz’s parents received the award on his behalf at a ceremony from the Foundation’s President Abraham Mathai.

This is the first time the award has been conferred posthumously.

5.China launches world’s longest super-secure quantum communication line

Source: The Hindu

  • China has launched world’s longest super-secure quantum communication line connecting Hefei, capital of Anhui province to Shanghai, the country’s financial hub.
  • The super-secure quantum communication line is 712-km in length. It boasts of ultra-high security making it impossible to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through them.
  • The Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication line is expected to be completed at the end of the year 2016.

World’s first quantum satellite

  • Earlier in August 2016, China had successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellite.
  • The Micius quantum satellite will be connected with the Beijing-Shanghai quantum communication line through the line’s station in Beijing.
  • It will enable the space-to-Earth highly secure hack-proof quantum communication network.

6.NASA launches Next Generation Weather Satellite GOES-R

Source: The Hindu

  • The NASA has successfully launched highly advanced geostationary weather satellite Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R).
  • It was launched on board of Atlas 5 rocket which had lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
  • The satellite will boost the US’s weather observation capabilities, leading to more accurate and timely forecasts, watches and warnings.

Key Facts

  • The satellite’s primary instrument Advanced Baseline Imager, will provide images of Earth’s weather, oceans and environment with 16 different spectral bands.
  • GOES-R is also first satellite to carry a lightning mapper instrument to geostationary orbit. It will photograph lightning activity throughout Western Hemisphere about 200 times every second.
  • It also will be part of the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) System, an international satellite-based search and rescue network operated by NOAA.

7.RBI proposes ‘Islamic window’ in banks

Source: The Hindu

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed the opening of “Islamic window” in conventional banks for “gradual” introduction of Sharia-compliant or interest-free banking in the country.
  • In this regard, both the Centre and the RBI have been exploring the possibility of introduction of Islamic banking for a while now to ensure financial inclusion of those sections of society that remain excluded due to religious reasons.

Islamic banking

Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest. The charging of interest is prohibited under Islam.

  • Initially, a few simple products similar to conventional banking products may be considered for introduction through the Islamic window of conventional banks after necessary notification by the government. Introduction of full-fledged Islamic banking with profit-loss sharing complex products may be considered at a later stage on the basis of experience gained in course of time.

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