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Science Monitor: 30 January 2021

Science Monitor: 30 January 2021


1. Padma Awards 2021- Science & Technology


On the eve of a republic day the ministry of home affairs announced the Padma Awards for the year 2021. One of the highest civilian awards of the country the Padma Awards are conferred in three categories- Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri. This year the president of India has approved confirmant of 119 awards in various fields.

Image result for padma awards 2021 list

About the Awardees:

  • India showcases its strategic strength and cultural richness on the occasion of the republic day and on the eve of this day India recognizes exceptional achievements and services in the fields of art, social work, science and engineering, medicine, literature and various others by announcing one of its highest civilian honors the Padma Awards.

  • This year 119 Padma Awards were announced which includes 2 Padma Vibhushan and 11 Padma Shri in the fields related to science.

  • Dr Belle Monappa Hegde a renowned cardiologist from Karnataka has been awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his outstanding contribution to the field of medicine. He was earlier awarded with Padma Bhushan in 2010. Dr Hegde has also written several books on medical practice and ethics.

  • Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany was an Indian American physicist who passed away last month has also been honored this year with Padma Vibhushan in the field of science and engineering. Named among the unsung heroes by fortune magazine, Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany is often referred to as the father of fiber optics, it was he, who coined the term fiber optics in 1956 and his work gave a new dimension to the speed of information and communication. Dr. Kapany was known for his research on fiber optics, communication lasers, biomedical instrumentation, solar energy and pollution monitoring.

  • Among the eleven Padma Shri Awardees, one name is of renowned Indian American soil scientist Dr Rattan, who has been honoured for his exceptional achievements in the field of science and engineering. Dr Rattan Lal graduated from Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana and moved to US for higher studies after securing a master's degree from IARI Delhi. He was also honored with the World Food Award in 2020.

  • The other personalities honored with Padma Shri this year are

    • Ali Manikfan of Lakshadweep

    • Dr. Rattan Lal Mittal of Punjab recognized for his contribution to the field of medicine.

    • Dr. Chandrakant Shambhaji Pandav of Delhi

    • Dr. Krishna Mohan Pathi of Odisha

    • Dr. Dhananjay Diwakar Sagdeo of Kerala

    • Dr. Ashok Kumar Sahu of Uttar Pradesh

    • Dr. Bhupendra Kumar Singh Sanjay of Uttarakhand

    • Dr. Dilip Kumar Singh of Bihar

2. ASTROSAT-IIA-NGC 2808-rare hot UV bright stars


Indian astrophysicists have achieved another feat in the direction of discovering the deep mysteries of the universe with the help of AstroSat Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT). Scientists have discovered rare hot UV bright stars in NGC 2808 an intriguing and massive global cluster in our galaxy. This discovery can expand our knowledge about the various phases of star evolution.

Image result for Indian astrophysicists  ASTROSAT-IIA-NGC 2808-rare hot UV bright stars

About the Stars:

  • Globular clusters are spherical dense collection of stars that are found in the halo of a galaxy as such clusters are older than the open clusters, so they are thought to be excellent laboratories to understand the evolution of stars.

  • Now studying one such globular cluster called NGS 2808 in our milky way the scientists have detected rare hot ultraviolet bright stars in it.

  • While exploring the ultraviolet images of the cluster taken by AstroSat’s UVIT, scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics Deepti S Prabhu, Annapurni Subramaniam and Snehalata Sahu distinguished the hot UV bright stars of the cluster from the other stars.

  • Having its main campus in Bengaluru, Indian Institute of Astrophysics is an autonomous institute under the Department of Science and Technology. It has a network of astronomical laboratories and observatories in India and is devoted to world-class research in astronomy and astrophysics.

  • For their latest research IIA scientists combined the AstroSat’s data with the observation of Hubble Space Telescope and also with the ground-based optical observatories. Using the data, the team arrived at the surface temperatures luminosities and radii of the 34 UV bright stars identified in the cluster.

  • One of these stars was found to be about 3000 times brighter than the sun, with a surface temperature of about 1 lakh kelvin.

  • The rare hot UV bright stars identified by the Indian astronomers have their cores almost exposed making them very hot as many of these stars are not detected in the fast-evolving phases so the study of such stars is crucial to find out how these stars end their lives.

  • Such UV bright stars are also speculated to be the reason for the ultraviolet radiation coming from old stellar systems therefore it is important to observe more such stars to understand their properties the findings of this study have been accepted for publication in the journal, The Astrophysical Journal.

3. IIT MADRAS- role of Chloride rich PM2.5 in visibility reduction


Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras have made a new revelation about the visibility reduction in the national capital region during winters. According to the researchers, PM 2.5 mass over Delhi has a high concentration of chloride and this is the primary factor behind the reduced visibility in the region this study not only provides the scientific explanation for the source of high chloride in pm 2.5 but also quantifies the role in haze and fog formation.

Image result for PM 2.5

About the research:

  • Every year during peak winters the national capital region gets engulfed in thick smog leading to poor visibility this negatively affects not only the routine services like transport but also the general health and safety of the people many past studies have highlighted the role of Particulate Matter 2.5 in the smog formation over the region.

  • However, the role of PM 2.5 and the detailed chemistry of reduced visibility over the national capital was not very clear. Now an international study led by researchers of IIT, Madras has described clearly the role of chloride rich PM 2.5 particles in visibility reduction after studying the complex pollution and atmospheric chemistry of Delhi.

  • To conduct the study, the researchers measured chemical composition and other important properties of PM 2.5 along with the relative humidity and temperature in Delhi round the clock for one month.

  • The study found that complex chemical reactions involving hydrochloric acid which is directly emitted in the atmosphere from plastic contained waste burning and a few other industrial processes is primarily responsible for the high PM 2.5 chloride in Delhi.

  • High chloride in such particles increases their water uptake ability and increases their size leading to dense fog and poor visibility. Hence, the study not only unfolds the mystery of high chloride and PM 2.5 but also unravels its precise role in smog formation over Delhi.

  • The study led by IIT, Madras was carried out in collaboration with Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany, Harvard University, USA, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and Manchester University of UK, published in a peer-reviewed international journal Nature Geoscience. This study can help in framing better policies to improve air quality and visibility in the national capital.


1. Family planning 2020:Image result for Family planning 2020

  • A high-level virtual event was organized on the 26th of January under the title Family Planning 2020, celebrating progress transforming for the future Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan represented India and emphasized the country's commitment towards the program.

  • Family planning 2020 is a global partnership to empower women to decide for themselves whether when and how many children they want to have.

  • Currently, 44 countries are part of the program. During the event the Annual Progress Report for 2019-20 was also released during the event the Union Minister also highlighted India’s national Family Planning Program that was formulated way back in 1952.

2. Indian mathematician Nikhil Srivastava awarded prestigious 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize:

Image result for 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize

  • For solving long-standing questions on Ramanujan graphs and the Kadison–Singer problem, Nikhil Srivastava. Associate Professor of Mathematics, Berkeley has been named as the winner of the prestigious Michael and Sheila Held Prize for 2021.

  • He will share the prize with Adam Marcus, the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Daniel Alan Spielman from Yale University.

  • Working on the Ramanujan graphs and the Kadison–Singer problem, all three have unveiled a deep new relationship between linear algebra geometry of polynomials and graph theory. The prize is given by the National Academy of Sciences and consists of a medal and one lakh US dollars.

3. COVAXIN is effective against UK variant, shows study:

Image result for about new covid uk strain

  • A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research has found Bharat Biotech COVAXIN to be effective against the mutant UK strain.

  • According to the studies, 17 mutations have been found in the genome of the UK strain of SARS-CoV-2, out of which eight mutations have been found in the outer protein layer of the virus that is the spiked protein which plays a crucial role in infecting a person.

  • For conducting the study scientists isolated and characterized the UK strain with all signature mutations of the variant and performed plaque reduction neutralization test against the UK strain using serra collected from the recipients of COVAXIN the vaccine was found to neutralize the UK strain effectively.

4. SpaceX Launches Falcon 9 Rocket With Record 143 Satellites: