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A new evidence suggests air pollution is not just associated with asthma and respiratory diseases, but may also impact metabolic and neurological development of children, putting them at an increased risk of anxiety and depression, says a study.
“Recent evidence suggests the central nervous system is particularly vulnerable to air pollution, suggesting a role in etiology of mental disorders, like anxiety or depression,” said study lead author Kelly Brunst, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the US.
“This is the first study to use neuro-imaging to evaluate exposure to traffic-related air pollution, metabolite dysregulation in brain and generalised anxiety symptoms among otherwise healthy children,” Brunst said.
For the study, published in the journal Environmental Research, the researchers evaluated imaging of 145 children at an average age of 12 years, looking specifically at levels of myo-inositol in brain through a specialised MRI technique, magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Myo-inositol is a naturally-occurring metabolite, mainly found in specialised brain cells known as glial cells, which assists in maintaining cell volume and fluid balance in brain and serves as a regulator for hormones and insulin in the body. Rise in myo-inositol levels correlate with increased population of glial cells, which often occurs in states of inflammation.
Among those exposed to higher levels of traffic-related air pollution, there were significant increases of myo-inositol in brain compared with those with lower pollution exposure, researchers said.
They also observed rise in myo-inositol to be associated with more generalised anxiety symptoms. “In the higher, recent exposure group, we saw a 12 per cent increase in anxiety symptoms,” said Brunst.
Brunst, however, noted that the observed increase in reported generalised anxiety symptoms in this cohort of typically developing children was relatively small and were not likely to result in a clinical diagnosis of an anxiety disorder. (IANS)
In a global-first move, ride-hailing major Uber and Meta-owned messaging platform WhatsApp on Thursday announced that people in India can now book an Uber ride via the company's official WhatsApp chatbot. The service is being rolled out on a pilot basis in Lucknow first, and will soon be expanded to other cities in the country.
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"We want to make it as easy as possible for all Indians to take an Uber trip. We are thrilled at this global-first integration for Uber, and look forward to rolling it out across India," said Nandini Maheshwari, Senior Director, Business Development, Uber APAC.
Built on WhatsApp Business Platform, the partnership will expand access to Uber's mobility services in one of the company's largest international markets.
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Currently, the option to book a ride via WhatsApp will only be available in English but it will be expanded to other Indian languages soon. "The Uber experience on WhatsApp is simple, familiar, and relatable for users and has the potential to accelerate adoption of Uber with a new category of riders in India," said Abhijit Bose, Head of WhatsApp India.
With this integration, riders will no longer need to download or use the Uber app. WhatsApp users can book an Uber ride through three simple ways: messaging to Uber's business account number; scanning a QR code; or clicking a link directly to open an Uber WhatsApp chat.
Built on WhatsApp Business Platform, the partnership will expand access to Uber's mobility services in one of the company's largest international markets.Unsplash
They will be asked to provide pickup and drop off locations. Users will receive upfront fare information and the driver's expected time of arrival. "Riders get the same safety features and insurance protections as those who book trips via the Uber app directly," the company said.
They will be informed of the name of the driver and license plate of the driver on booking; be able to track the location of the driver en route to the pickup point and be able to speak to the driver anonymously using a masked number.
If the user selects the "emergency" option while on the trip, they will receive an inbound call from Uber's customer support team. Uber riders will also have access to its safety line number to call, if needed, until 30 mins after the trip ends. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : WhatsApp, Uber, India, Lucknow, languages, rider, driver, cab, booking.)
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Australia's national science agency has opened a purpose-built facility to test technology before it is sent to the Moon.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Thursday opened the In-situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) Facility in Brisbane. The facility provides a Moon-like environment to test rovers and related equipment before it is sent into space, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Our ability to simulate the lunar terrain at this scale is an exciting advancement for the development of space technology in Australia," CSIRO Space Programme Director Kimberley Clayfield said in a media release.
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"This facility is the latest example of our commitment to stimulating innovation, supporting industry and solving the greatest challenges through space science, technology and exploration.
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"We're looking forward to working with researchers and businesses from across the space sector to test their technology and systems for future space missions."
The ISRU Facility, which is located at CSIRO's Queensland Center for Advanced Technologies, contains a sealed dust area to simulate various types of Moon dust, smaller pits for small-scale tests and a mission control room to monitor rovers and payloads.
"The challenge is the Moon dust is powdery, sharp and electrostatically charged so it sticks to everything and has the potential to damage the technology sent to investigate it," he said.Unsplash
The Australian Space Agency (ASA) in October signed a landmark deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US to send an Australian-built rover to the Moon for the first time as early as 2026.
ISRU Project Leader Jonathon Ralston said the new facility would be key to solving major challenges for the rover.
"The challenge is the Moon dust is powdery, sharp and electrostatically charged so it sticks to everything and has the potential to damage the technology sent to investigate it," he said.
"Our facility offers technology developers the opportunity to test their equipment closer to home, in a safe environment to find solutions to this dusty problem."
(Keywords : Australia, Brisbane, resource, scientific, research, simulate, lunar, innovation, project, moon, challenge, facility, opportunity, environment.)
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As digital transformation enters top gear amid the pandemic, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a solution to overcome language, literacy barrier in India, experts said here on Wednesday.
Speaking at a panel discussion titled 'Use of Emerging Technologies for Social Empowerment Blockchain, AR/VR, Drone, IoT, GIS' organised by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), experts highlighted the importance and role of emerging technologies in digital transformation.
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"AI has immense possibilities and huge potential. During the Covid-19 pandemic, when government officials were not available, we made chatbots using AI for anyone to procure the required information," said Dr Neeta Verma, DG, NIC. There are 20-30 crore people in India who either do not have smartphones or face language and literacy barriers to use the technology, according to Verma.
Also Read : AI now buzzword for humanity
Abhishek Singh, President and CEO, NeGD (National eGovernance Division) highlighted the importance and role of emerging technologies for digital transformational and effective implementation of Digital India initiatives for social benefit.
Professor Manindra Agrawal from department of computer science and engineering, IIT Kanpur talked about the common misconception that Blockchain is exclusively for cryptocurrency.
As digital transformation enters top gear amid the pandemic, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a solution to overcome language, literacy barrier in India.Unsplash
"Blockchain technology provides the ability to create and maintain unalterable ledgers. There are a number of domains, especially when delivering services to citizens, where maintaining records that cannot be altered is of great importance. For example, land ownership records, database of criminals, and supply-chain logistics," he said.
The 75th 'Azadi Ka Digital Mahotsav' is a week-long celebration from November 29 - December 5. Meanwhile, Samsung India Electronics, the country's No 1 smartphones exporter, was awarded for outstanding contribution in promotion of electronics in the export performance category during one of the events at the Mahotsav. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Ai, language, barrier, India, experts, digital, pandemic, solution, technology, implementation.)
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