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Science Monitor: 17 October 2020

Science Monitor: 17 October 2020


1. MoUs for establishment of supercomputing infrastructure in India


To boost the manufacture and establishment of supercomputing infrastructure in India, CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has signed a total of 13 MoUs with the Premier academic and R and D institutions of India. The development will help in achieving goals of the national supercomputing mission which aims to make India future ready to overcome multi-disciplinary grant challenges.

About the Mission:

  • Today, supercomputing is the key to many areas like computational biology, molecular dynamics, national security, computational chemistry, cyber physical systems, big data analytics, government information systems.
  • India has been making steady progress in this direction and now to accelerate it further, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology organised an online ceremony on the 12 of October during which the CDAC signed 13 MoUs with leading academic and R and D institutions of India under the National Supercomputing Mission.National Supercomputing Mission MoU with C-DAC & Host Institutes |  Supercomputing Manufacturing & Training Capabilities
  • The Institutions will soon partner in indigenous assembling and manufacturing to establish supercomputing infrastructure in the country and make the facilities available at an affordable cost. The department of Science and Technology, CDAC under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Institute of Science, Bengaluru are operating the National Supercomputing Mission and from now on almost all the IITs of the country as well as the Institutes like NITs will also cooperate in this mission.
  • The mission aims to empower National Academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast Supercomputing Grid comprising of more than 70 high performance computing facilities. In the last 5 years, emphasis was given on design and fabrication of hardware and software of the supercomputers in India and now equipped with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.
  • The machine will empower the country to become self-reliant to overcome the multidisciplinary challenges of the future.

2. TIFR scientists discovered a distinctive signature of black hole event horizon


An International team led by astrophysicists of TATA Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai has discovered a distinctive signature of Black Hole horizon. According to the scientists, their finding is by far the strongest study signature of accreting cellar mass black hole to date as it distinguishes them unmistakably from neutron stars.

About the Event:

  • A Black Hole is a region in space which has gravity so strong that even light cannot escape from it. So if one wants to escape a black hole then it must travel faster than the speed of light or may be even that won’t be enough. Theoretically, a black hole has a boundary called Event Horizon and an extremely dense centre which is called the Singularity.
  • The scientists infer its presence by examining the behaviour of the object that surrounded it or fall intFirst ever image of Black Hole released, confirms Einstein's theoryo it. Depending upon their mass, black holes is divided into four categories though the one called Miniature Black Hole is purely theoretical with the size of an atomic particle but the mass of Mount Everest. The other types are super massive Black Holes. They can have a mass of nearly million to billion Suns.
  • Evidence suggests that such black holes exist at the Centre of most galaxies. Scientists imaged this type of black hole through Event Horizon Telescope in 2019. However, Scientists do not know how such black holes are formed although galaxies may play a role in their formation. Intermediate black holes have a mass of above 100 to 1000 solar masses.
  • It is assumed that they are created when stars or black holes collide. Stellar mass black holes are the most common ones. According to NASA, a typical stellar class of black hole has a mass between 3 to 10 solar mass and is formed when a star 10 to 20 times more massive than our sun dies and collapses upon itself.
  • Stellar mass black holes bend the space time around them in an extreme way more powerfully than a super massive black hole. Therefore, they are indispensible to prove some extreme aspects of the Universe but first we need to identify them. Gravitational waves can indicate their presence but this signature is very transient.
  • These black holes can also be recognised when they devour material from a companion star and therefore shine in X-rays when viewed through a compatible telescope but a neutron star can also shine in X-rays by accreting matter from a companion star in a similar way although it has a hard surface but may seem comparable in terms of mass and size so in an effort to distinguish stellar mass black holes from Neutron stars, scientists studied archival X-rays data from the decommissioned astronomy satellite Rossi X-ray timing explorer and identify the effect of the lack of hard surface on the observed X-ray emission by studying the change in spectrum of light due to scattering from electrons.
  • According to the scientists their study has led to an extremely strong signature of accreting stellar mass black holes and the study has been published in the monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

3. Indian researchers developed NANOCEMENT


Nanotechnology refers to the use and control of any matter at nano scales to enhance its properties for various purposes. Nowadays this technology is being used in various fields to develop extraordinary materials. In this series, Indian engineers have now developed nano modified cement based materials exhibiting remarkable strength. The work is a result of collaboration among engineers of various academic institutes and the product and its method have received patent from the Government of India.

             Synthesis of a Cementitious Material Nanocement Using Bottom-Up  Nanotechnology Concept: An Alternative Approach to Avoid CO2 Emission  during Production of Cement

About the Cement:

  • Cement paste binds the concrete and safety and durability of any construction depends heavily on the strength of this bond that is why the scientists are constantly working to enhance the properties of cement and to achieve the same goal, Jamia Milia Islamia started working on the development of nano cement in 2012. After 2 years of hardwork the team of JMI was successful in developing high strength nano cement in 2014 for which now a patent has been granted by the concerned authority of the GoI.
  • Regular cement comes in micro size and it took a lot of effort to develop an indigenous nano alternative. For grinding of fine cement particles, the institute collaborated with the lab of IIT, Kanpur. The influence of additive components such as nano cement, silica fume, nano silico fume fly ash and nano fly ash was thoroughly studied with reference to normal size cement matrix. With the addition of nano particles, a remarkable improvement in the properties of cementius matrix was observed.
  • High strength nano cement not only makes the construction strong but also reduces the weight of the construction material. The modified nano composites will be useful in strategically important structures requiring high strength like nuclear power plants, airport runways and bridges. They are also suitable for the construction of high rise buildings under the Smart City project of the GoI.
  • After the success of nano cement at the experimental level, researchers are now working to improve its quality further. They are also studying the cement industry to manufacture the product at mass level. Many other countries are using similar technology to build smart structures.

4. Old Indigenous Technology GHARAAT


There is a lot being done today to promote the use of renewable energy among the global population. Though it may seem like new found energy to many of us yet it simply refers to harnessing the energy of natural resources like the Sun, water and wind. In fact we have been using this energy for centuries in the form of local solutions like the traditional water mills found in the hilly regions of the country. These water mills have been used not only to grind grains but also to generate electricity. Undoubtedly this technique must have inspired the modern hydropower plants.

About the Technology:

  • Although the slope of mountains pose difficulties in everyday life yet the abundance of nature makes up for it unique vegetation, waterfalls and water streams cater not only to the local residents but also to the population in plains.
  • The traditional water mill known as GHARAAT is an age old technique to harness the energy of running water to grind the grains. This technique must have inspired the modern hydropower plants that are catering to our power needs.
  • The Science behind GHARAAT is quite simple, a covered structure is built near a running water streaExistence of traditional Watermill at risk in Pauri and Know how the gharat  runesm which houses two grinding stones like a traditional flour mills. The lower stone is stationary while the upper one is rotatable and connected to a shaft which has a turbine at the lower end, when the water falls over the turbine, it starts rotating and this leads to the rotation of the upper stone of the flowmen.
  • This is done by diverting the water of a running stream using a long wooden channel. The water is made to fall from a height so that it falls with the force to run the turbine. This in turn runs the stone of the flour mill. In order to stop the water mill, all one needs is a hindrance which can stop the flow of water. In this way it can be used according to one’s own will.
  • People have been using this local technique for centuries but now this traditional technique is losing its usability due to modern technology which uses electricity. However, in some hilly areas people are now generating electricity using the same water mills.


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