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Science Monitor: 18 July 2020

Science Monitor: 18.07.2020

Topics covered in this Gist are

  1. India’s tiger census sets a NEW GUINNESS RECORD
  3. Hearing Loss
  4. IIT MADRAS-research shows positive use of turmeric in cancer treatment
  5. Comet New Wise C/2020 F3
  6. Von Karman Award

1. India’s tiger census sets a NEW GUINNESS RECORD

Context: 2018-2019 report on the status of tigers in India has led to a world record for the largest camera trap wildlife survey in the world.

About the survey:

  • The survey covered an area of 1,21,3378 square kilometers using the camera traps at 26,838 locations across 141 sites.
  • It captures 3, 48, 58,623 photographs of wildlife. Apart from capturing the other wildlife, the devices captured 76,651 photos of tigers and 51, 777 of leopards.MP-tops-country-with-526-tigers-as-per-All-India-Tiger-Estimation-2018.jpg
  • Using these photos 2461 adult tigers were identified by the Stripes pattern recognition software.
  • The fourth cycle of the All India Tiger Estimation 2018 entered the Guinness World Record for using the world’s largest camera trap wildlife survey.
    • The Guinness book declared the survey to be the world's most comprehensive by live survey both in terms of data and resources used.
  • Under the survey, large scale unprecedented data was gathered by camera traps that were placed across the country.
    • Camera traps are photographic devices with motion sensors to record the movement of any animal that passes by.
  • The assessment also carried out the extensive foot survey. According to the estimate, there are 2967 tigers in India and this figures account for nearly 75 percent of the global tiger population.
  • The country has also fulfilled its resolve of doubling tiger numbers, made at St. Petersburg in 2010, much before the target year of 2022.

Project Tiger

  • The Government of India has taken a pioneering initiative for conserving its national animal, the tiger, by launching the ‘Project Tiger’ in 1973.
  • Under this tiger, census is conducted every four years by the National Tiger Conservation Authority with the technical support from Wildlife Institute of India.
  • From 9 tiger reserves since its formative years, the Project Tiger coverage has increased to 50 at present, spread out in 18 of our tiger range states.  This amounts to around 2.21% of the geographical area of our country.
  • The tiger reserves are constituted on a core/buffer strategy. The core areas have the legal status of a national park or a sanctuary, whereas the buffer or peripheral areas are a mix of forest and non-forest land, managed as a multiple-use area.
  • Project Tiger is an ongoing Centrally Sponsored Scheme of the Ministry of Environment, Forests? , and Climate Change? providing central assistance to the tiger States for tiger conservation in designated tiger reserves.


Context: Recently, HRD Minister launched the test kit named ‘Corosure’.

About the Kit

  • Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi developed the world's most affordable diagnostic kit for coronavirus, a low-cost test kit.
  • It is approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)) and the Drug Control General of India (DCGI).
  • Most of the kits in the market are required Fluorescent Probes which needs to be imported but Corosure is probe free and single gene RT-PCR kit.
  • It makes the Corosure a low price range diagnostic kit, which can be manufactured quickly on a large scale.
  • It has three components, first is the collection of the nasal swab, then the Corosure kit, RTPCR kit, and RNA extraction kit is installed in the machine and a graph is drawn within 85 minutes.
  • Usually, the other kits in the market give results in 3 hours but corosure gives the result of the test in 85 minutes, which is further aimed to reduce to 60 minutes.
  • The kit is affordable, scalable without comprising the accuracy, and by next month 20 lakh kits will be available in the market.

3. Hearing Loss

Context: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), deafness is increasing very rapidly due to the modern lifestyle.

About the Reports:

  • Deafness is increasing due to loud speakers, traffic noise, and using ear phones for a major part of our day.
  • Such habits are harming the sense of hearing and giving rise to deafness even in small children.
  • Deafness can also lead to depression.
  • Humans can hear sound waves having a frequency of 20 HZ to 20,000 HZ only.
  • Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss (1), and 34 million of these are children.
  • It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people will have disabling hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.
  • 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.
  • 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12–35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.
  • Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$ 750 billion. Interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefit to individuals.

How Ear works?

  • Ear has three parts- 1) Outer ear 2) Middle ear 3) Inner ear.ear.jpg
  • The outer ear collects the sound waves from the surrounding and these reach the ear drums and produce vibration in the middle ear.
    • The vibrations reach the inner ear and from here the electrical signal are sent to the brain through the auditory nerve.
    • We hear these signals in the form of buds or sounds.

Causes of hearing loss and deafness:

The causes of hearing loss and deafness can be congenital or acquired.

Congenital causes

  • Congenital causes may lead to hearing loss being present at or acquired soon after birth.
  • Hearing loss can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors or by certain complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
    • maternal rubella, syphilis or certain other infections during pregnancy;
    • low birth weight;
    • birth asphyxia

Acquired causes

  • Acquired causes may lead to hearing loss at any age, such as:
    • infectious diseases including meningitis, measles, and mumps;
    • chronic ear infections;
    • collection of fluid in the ear (otitis media);
    • use of certain medicines, such as those used in the treatment of neonatal infections, malaria, drugresistant tuberculosis, and cancers;
    • injury to the head or ear;
    • excessive noise.

4. Research shows positive use of turmeric in cancer treatment

cancer.gifContext: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) researchers have shown that curcumin, the active principle from turmeric, may enhance cancer cell death.

About the research

  • There are many attempts to develop therapeutic agents that trigger apoptotic death (or programmed self-destruction) of cancer cells.
    • One such agent that has reportedly been found promising is a protein called TNF-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand or TRAIL.
    • In cancer treatment, it is important to induce the death of the cancer cells preferably without extensive damage to healthy cells.
  • Programmed cell death is generally preferred over the more aggressive and premature process called ‘necrosis’ (unprogrammed cell death) because it releases fewer cellular components that trigger inflammation than the latter.
  • I.I.T M has shown that turmeric can increase the performance of therapeutic agents that drive the cancer cells towards suicide cells.
    • Researchers found that using TRAIL along with curcumin leads to more efficient programmed cell deaths of Melanoma cells.

5. Comet NEOWISE C/2020 F3

Context: NASA telescope discovered comet called C/2020 F3, also known as NEOWISE.

About C/2020 F3

  • India is also witnessing the amazing sight of comet NEOWISE.
  • This comet can be seen with naked eyes after the sunset for around 20 minutes.
  • Comet will be visible till the beginning of August and will be the closest to the earth on 22 July.
  • It is the third comet discovered after the ATLAS and SWAN in 2020.

6. von Karman Award

Context: ISRO Chief K Sivan has been named for Von Karman Award 2020 by the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

About the Award

  • The award was established in 1982 and is the highest honor of the academy.
  • It is named after Theodore Von Karman who was the first President of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).
  • The award is given every year to a person with remarkable achievements in ay field of science.
  • In the year 2005, Prof U R Rao became the first Indian to receive this award.
  • In 2007, Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan received the Von Karman award.

The International Academy of Astronautics (IAA)

  • It is a non-governmental organization of experts committed to expanding the frontiers of space.
  • It was established in Stockholm (Sweden) on August 16, 1960.
  • The IAA works towards promoting the development of astronautics for peaceful purposes, recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in a related branch of science or technology, and provides a program through which members may contribute to international endeavors for the advancement of aerospace science.
  • The Academy's beginning was led by Theodore von Kármán, one of the most important figures in the evolution of rocketry, and the IAA's first president.


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