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Science Monitor: 20 March, 2021


Science Monitor: 20 March, 2021




Adopting waste to wealth strategy, Indian scientists have successfully developed an innovative technology to make lead-free radiation shielding materials utilizing the industrial waste.

About the technology:

  • To accelerate diagnosis of ailments or diseases various medical imaging techniques like X-rays, CT Scan and MRI are being used nowadays. However, all these techniques generate radiation for which anti-radiation rooms have to be constructed in hospitals. These rooms are often built using metals like lead.

  • In a bid to find an alternative, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute based in Bhopal has developed lead free and highly effective radiation shielding materials.

  • On the 13th of March 2021, the Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated a ‘Centre for Advanced Radiation Shielding and Geopolymeric Materials' at the institute.An analytical high resolution Transmission Electron Microscope Laboratory was also inaugurated on the same day.

  • Under Waste to Wealth Mission, scientists at CSIR-AMPRI have developed these radiation shielding materials using industrial waste like fly ash and red mud. These materials will be useful in building anti-radiation infrastructure. The new center at AMPRI will also reduce the cost of radiation shields by avoiding the use of metals like lead.

  • The center has also developed various geopolymeric materials using fly ash. With its research and development work, the Centre for Advanced Radiation Shielding and Geopolymeric Materials hopes to accelerate strategic applications such as the development of thermal resistant concrete for missile or rocket launching pads, bulletproof concrete for bunkers, concrete for nuclear plants along with conventional applications like constructing roads and infrastructure.

  • CSIR-AMPRI has been working on the development of state-of-the-art and advanced materials. Scientists here have developed innovative, accessible and safe solutions in various fields ranging from drinking water to agriculture, health, traditional arts and metals. The establishment of analytical high resolution transmission electron microscope laboratory will further enhance the quality of innovative research on advanced materials.



Shockwave is a well-known phenomenon in fluid dynamics and is particularly important in aerospace applications. Recently, while investigating fundamental aspects of shock waves, researchers from the Indian institute of Science, Bengaluru have uncovered new dynamics that govern unsteady shock wave motion when two geometric parameters are at play. Now, according to the researchers, the fundamental study can influence the design aspect of rockets and high-speed aircraft.

About the study:

  • Many of us have witnessed high-speed aircrafts and rockets in motion. When these vehicles move faster than the speed of sound that is when they exceed the mark number one shock waves are generated.

  • Shock waves are sharp physical boundaries across which the physical properties like temperature pressure and density of air that flows over the object undergo a rapid change.

  • Therefore, study of shock waves is important for developing better supersonic aircrafts. Now, as we are moving towards hypersonic vehicle development, the need to understand the dynamics of shock waves under different conditions has increased further.

  • Recently, researchers from the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru have uncovered new dynamics while conducting an experimental study to observe unsteady oscillations of shock waves over objects.

  • The researchers experimented with an object resembling a cone set on a cylinder. The experiments were performed in the Roddam Narasimha Hypersonic Wind Tunnel where the object was subject to air flowing at six times the speed of sound that is mark number six.

  • To visualize the flow of shock waves, schlieren imaging was employed using lenses, laser and a high speed camera. Half angle of the cone and the ratio of height of the goal and diameter of the cylinder were two parameters that governed this flow. The researchers found that altering any one parameter changed the stability and pulsation time period of shock wave system.

  • According to the researchers, this class of problems involving shock wave pulsations or oscillations with two controlling parameters is reported for the first time. The study has featured in the journal of Fluid Mechanics published by Cambridge University Press.



Kerala based healthcare startup Astrek Innovations has developed a wearable robotic suit that will work as an assistive device for people suffering from lower limb disabilities. The exoskeleton based suit can help people in wheelchairs to stand upright and walk. After three years of research and product development, the company now plans to begin user trials of its product.

Astrek Innovations plans user trial for its exoskeleton based wearable  robotic suit - Technology - Health Care Radius

About the suit:

  • According to the World Health Organization, there are about 70 million wheelchair users all over the world. People usually resort to wheelchairs or other support devices because of lower limb disabilities. However, despite using wheelchairs and other devices these people are never truly fully independent and need assistance for many day-to-day things.

  • Healthcare startup Astrek innovations from Kerala incubated at IIT, Hyderabad's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has now developed an exoskeleton-based robotic suit. With the help of this suit, people with lower limb disabilities may be able to stand easily. Developed under Astrek unique exosuit, this robotic suit will also help the disabled to walk.

  • Astrek Innovations was launched in 2018 with the aim of providing modern and accurate solutions for the disabled. During this time, the researchers at the company have been working on developing an indigenous robotic suit.

  • The device can currently carry a person weighing up to 80 kgs and can be operated with a battery or from any power source. The startup is now working on improving these numbers. These suits can help the user to stand and balance on his legs and even walk. The exoskeleton based robot suit is now ready for user trials.

  • The state-of-the-art device can be used anywhere in the home, office or outside is for people who have been left disabled due to illness or accident and help them in performing exercises and gain training. A machine learning and motion capturing system has also been added to this exosuit which will make the users’ real-time data available to physicians or caregivers.

  • This project of Astrek was funded under the Department of Science and Technology's NIDHI PRAYAS scheme and the KERALA STARTUP MISSION. Gurugram based Accelerator Huddle is supporting the development of this first of its kind exoskeleton based robotic suit in the country.

  • Astrek's exoskeleton based suit is expected to provide a low-cost new generation solution to wheelchair users with the accuracy of a robotic system soon.


1. National Vaccination Day:

National Vaccination Day: 16th March

  • National Vaccination Day is observed every year on the 16th of March with the aim of spreading awareness about the usefulness of vaccination in the country. This campaign also known as the National Immunization Day has become more relevant in current times due to the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.

  • The world's largest vaccination campaign is currently being conducted in India and more than 3 crore people have been vaccinated against covid-19.

  • As the first dose of Oral Polio Vaccine in India was given on 16 March 1995, so the day was instituted as the National Immunization Day. India succeeded in its efforts against polio when it was declared a polio free country in 2014.

2. An Extremely Elongated Cloud Over Arsia Mons Volcano on Mars:

  • ISRO's Mangalyaan has contributed to another study relating to Mars. Scientists have used data from Mangalyaan and other International missions to study a long recurring cloud on Mars which is also called Ascraeus Mons Elongated Cloud.

  • The cloud seems to be emerging from the top of a long dead volcano and scientists have been studying this cloud with the help of several Mars missions. According to the observations, the cloud can have a length of about 1800 kilometers and it can flow in the direction of its tail at a speed of about 600 km/hr.

  • The phenomenon occurs in spring or summer in the southern Martian hemisphere and can be seen for about two and a half hours but vanishes when sun is at its peak. The study used observations of various Mars orbiters including India's Mangalyaan.

3. Risk of death for men 60% higher than for women in study of 28 countries:

COVID research updates: Coronavirus antibodies last for months — if you have  them

  • A study conducted on people aged 50 years and above found that men have 60 percent higher risk of early deaths as compared to women. For this International study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers covered more than 1, 17,000 people in 28 countries with 55 percent being women. However, the study found that the difference in mortality between men and women varies from country to country.

  • The study examined the potential impact of societal, behavioral and biological factors on gender differences in mortality, it was found that different cultural traditions economic and social development can influence gender experiences in different countries thus, contributing to health status of men and women.

  • According to researchers, heavy smoking and a high rate of heart diseases contributed significantly to higher risk of early death in men above the age of 50.

4. KV teacher develops robot which speaks 38 foreign languages:

Meet Shalu, Talking Robot Made From 100% Waste Material By IIT Teacher

  • An Indian teacher has succeeded in developing India's first humanoid robot modelled on the lines of robot Sophia. The Indian version named shalu can converse in 9 Indian and 38 foreign languages.

  • Dinesh patel, a computer science teacher working at Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT, Mumbai has built this robot using discarded materials. The robot shakes hands and understands various human emotions like joy, anger, jealousy, humor, etc and behaves accordingly.

  • Shalu can recite poems and narrate stories, the humanoid robot is also adept at identifying people and remembering them. It has the ability to recognize various things and answer factual questions. According to Dinesh Patel, Shalu can provide a good company to elders and children and can help them learn new things.


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