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Cabinet condoles Kalam’s death, says India lost a great son

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New Delhi: The union cabinet on Tuesday expressed sorrow at the death of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and in a resolution passed at a special cabinet meeting said “in his passing away the country has lost a visionary scientist, a true nationalist and a great son”. 56762-1654557

The cabinet met under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and extended its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family on behalf of the government and the entire nation.

“Kalam made significant contribution in developing India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle and made India an exclusive member of Space Club. Popularly known as the ‘Missile Man of India’, Kalam was responsible for the development and operationalisation of AGNI and PRITHVI Missiles. He gave thrust to self-reliance in defence systems by introducing Light Combat Aircraft,” the resolution said.

It said that he was the scientific adviser to defence minister and secretary, department of defence research and development during 1992-99.

“During this period, strategic missile systems were developed and the Pokhran-II nuclear tests were conducted. Kalam had served as the principal scientific advisor to the government, from 1999 to 2001 and was responsible for evolving policies, strategies and missions for many development applications and piloted India Millennium Mission 2020,” it added.

The former president died in Shillong on Monday evening after collapsing during a lecture at the IIM-Shillong.

He was born on October 15, 1931 at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, and specialized in aeronautical engineering from Madras Institute of Technology.

In his literary pursuit, his books – “Wings of Fire”, “India 2020 – A Vision for the New Millennium”, “My journey” and “Ignited Minds – Unleashing the power within India” became household names in India and abroad, the resolution said.

It added that Kalam was passionate about transforming society through technology, in particular by inspiring the youth of India to harness science and technology for human welfare.

Kalam was the recipient of many national and international awards including honorary doctorates from 48 universities from India and abroad. He received the country’s highest civilian award, Bharat Ratna, in 1997.

“Eventually, from a very humble beginning, he rose to the highest office of the country and served as the 11th president of India from 2002 to 2007. During his tenure, he was affectionately known as the People’s President,” it said.

(IANS)

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Indian-origin Scientist part of the team that discovered natural Human Antibodies to fight Ebola viruses

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A health worker takes the temperature of people to see whether they might be infected by the Ebola virus inside the Ignace Deen government hospital in Conakry, Guinea, March 18, 2016. VOA

New York, May 23, 2017: In a first, scientists led by one of Indian-origin have discovered natural human antibodies that can neutralise and protect animals against three virulent ebola viruses, an advance that could lead to vaccines against the deadly disease.

The broadly neutralising natural human antibodies were discovered in the blood of a survivor of the 2013-16 ebola outbreak in Western Africa, which caused more than 11,000 deaths and infected over 29,000 people.

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The blood was found to contain remarkable antibodies that block not just one strain of Ebola from infecting animal cells, but all five known strains — Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Tai Forest, the researchers said.

Our discovery and characterisation of broadly neutralising human antibodies is an important step toward a single therapy that could treat or prevent infection caused by any known ebolavirus, said Kartik Chandran, professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York.

Previously, monoclonal antibodies — which bind to and neutralide specific pathogens and toxins — emerged as one of the most promising treatments for Ebola patients. However, the therapy targetted just one of the specific ebola virus and could not work against the others.

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In the study, published in the journal Cell, the team found that two of the 349 monoclonal antibodies — ADI-15878 and ADI-15742 — from the Ebola survivor, potently neutralised infection by all five known ebolaviruses in tissue culture.

Both the antibodies were able to protect animals (mice and ferrets) that had been exposed to a lethal dose of the three major agents: ebola virus, Bundibugyo virus and Sudan virus.

The study also pinpointed the human genes that are the likely source of the immune cells that produce the two antibodies.

“We’d like to synthesise vaccine immunogens [proteins that trigger antibody production] that can elicit the same types of broadly protective antibodies in people,” Chandran added. (IANS)

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‘Sensory skin’ to help astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged: NASA

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NASA Headquarter in USA, VOA

Washington, March 26, 2017: Scientists at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida are developing a system that acts like a sensory skin to help astronauts to know exactly when the outside of their spacecraft has been damaged.

The “Flexible Damage Detection System” technology may offer a possible solution to NASA’s problem of figuring out in real-time where a spacecraft is damaged and how seriously.

“I kind of look at it like a sensory skin,” said Martha Williams, the scientist leading the development team.

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“It’s a sensory system that tells us where we are damaged and the level of intensity,” Williams said in a statement.

Micrometeoroids and orbital debris pose threats to spacecraft as they move at speeds of 17,500 mph or 28,000 km per hour in low-Earth orbit, and at over 24,000 mph or 38,400 kmph on trips to the Moon and deep space.

As space shuttle windows revealed, something as small as a paint chip moving at that velocity can punch through several layers of glass.

If something pierces a spacecraft’s hull — or the first layer or two — there are very limited ways for astronauts aboard a spacecraft to know there might be damage.

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An impact that goes all the way through and causes a leak would set off alarms, but otherwise the current methods to detect damage require either a camera inspection or a spacewalking astronaut.

Nor is there a precise way to pinpoint exactly in real-time where the damage occurred if not visible to the eye or camera so that astronauts can assess it.

The new invention uses a series of several technologies to create circuits printed on thin layers and that can be embedded in a spacecraft’s structure, scientists behind the invention said.

The researchers believe that if successfully incorporated, the innovation could also be applied to a host of satellites and aircraft. (IANS)

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Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s Birthday declared as ‘Maharashtra Reading Day’

Maharashtra will be celebrating the birthday of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as "Maharashra Reading Day"

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APJ Abdul Kalam
The Missile Man of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia

October 15, 2016: The birthday of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will be celebrated as “Maharashtra Reading Day” in the state, Education Minister Vinod Tawde announced here on Saturday. ”Kalam’s writings had vision… He always mentioned that India is going to be a super power, visualised it and wrote in his books which have inspired an entire generation,” Tawde said at function in Crossword bookstore to mark the event.

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Hundreds of colleges in the state organised their own reading day programmes, literary and poetry meetings, reading corners and other events to mark the scientist-turned-politician Kalam’s 85th birthday anniversary. Tawde said that “Maharashtra Reading Day” would inspire children and the younger generation to make reading a habit which is getting challenged with the advent of cellphones and other devices at an early age.

“The children tend to emulate their parents, and it leads to cellphone addiction as early as two years of age… We must now think of declaring a ‘no-gadget day’ as well,” Tawde said in a lighter vein, while appreciating Crossword’s “ILoveReading” initiative. Earlier today, in a state government programme, Tawde distributed 100 “talking book” volumes to 21 schools for the visually-handicapped in Maharashtra, prepared in collaboration with National Association for Blind (NAB).

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Later, he presented sets of 100 books to 21 readers’ groups at a function in Gokhale Education Society College in Borivali to mark the day. The first-ever Maharashtra Reading Day was commemorated by reading sessions in 100 colleges across the state conducted by top writers and public figures and they took part in lively literary debates conducted with the students. Kalam, revered as the peoples’ President passed away after a cardiac arrest on July 27, 2015, in Shillong. (IANS)