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Old Dusty Kilogram Swapped for Something More Stable: Scientists

It has taken years of work to fine-tune the new definition to ensure the switchover will be smooth.

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Kilogram
The International Prototype of the Kilogram (IPK) is pictured in Paris, France, in this undated photo obtained from social media. VOA

After years of nursing a sometimes dusty cylinder of metal in a vault outside Paris as the global reference for modern mass, scientists are updating the definition of the kilogram.

Just as the redefinition of the second in 1967 helped to ease communication across the world via technologies like GPS and the internet, experts say the change in the kilogram will be better for technology, retail and health — though it probably won’t change the price of fish much.

The kilogram has been defined since 1889 by a shiny piece of platinum-iridium held in Paris. All modern mass measurements are traceable back to it — from micrograms of pharmaceutical medicines to kilos of apples and pears and tons of steel or cement.

kilogram, weight
Border Security Force officials showing 17 kilogram heroine.

The problem is, the “international prototype kilogram” doesn’t always weigh the same. Even inside its three glass bell jars, it gets dusty and dirty, and is affected by the atmosphere. Sometimes, it really needs a wash.

“We live in a modern world. There are pollutants in the atmosphere that can stick to the mass,” said Ian Robinson, a specialist in the engineering, materials and electrical science department at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory.

“So when you just get it out of the vault, it’s slightly dirty. But the whole process of cleaning or handling or using the mass can change its mass. So it’s not the best way, perhaps, of defining mass.”

What’s needed is something more constant.

kilogram, weight
The Kilogram. Flickr

So, at the end of a week-long meeting in the Palace of Versailles, Paris, the world’s leading measurement aficionados at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures will vote Friday to make an “electronic kilogram” the new baseline measure of mass.

Just as the meter — once the length of a bar of platinum-iridium, also kept in Paris — is now defined by the constant speed of light in a vacuum, so a kilogram will be defined by a tiny but immutable fundamental value called the “Planck constant.”

The new definition involves an apparatus called the Kibble balance, which makes use of the constant to measure the mass of an object using a precisely measured electromagnetic force.

Paris,diesel,kilogram, weight
The kilogram has been defined since 1889 by a shiny piece of platinum-iridium held in Paris.VOA

“In the present system, you have to relate small masses to large masses by subdivision. That’s very difficult — and the uncertainties build up very, very quickly,” Robinson said.

“One of the things this [new] technique allows us to do is to actually measure mass directly at whatever scale we like, and that’s a big step forward.”

Also Read: NASA to Send Organ-on-Chips to Test Human Tissue Health in Space

He said it had taken years of work to fine-tune the new definition to ensure the switchover will be smooth.

But while the extra accuracy will be a boon to scientists, Robinson said that, for the average consumer buying flour or bananas, “there will be absolutely no change whatsoever.” (VOA)

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Here’s How You Can Tackle Obesity And Stay Healthy During Lockdown

One needs to maintain good health during the time of lockdown

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Obesity
Here's how you can deal with obesity during lockdown. Pixabay

The pandemic has contributed to an increase in obesity rates as weight loss programmes (which are often delivered in groups) and referred interventions such as surgery are being severely curtailed. We bring to you some Health Tips-

Importantly, the current crisis and the need for self-isolation is prompting many to rely on processed food with longer shelf life (instead of fresh produce) and canned food (with higher quantities of sodium). One might notice an increase in weight if this pattern of lifestyle persists for a longer period of time.

So what should a person do to stay healthy and make one stronger in these times? Dr Sharad Sharma, Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi gives a few recommendations:

Proper nutrition and hydration are vital

Those who consume a well-balanced diet are healthier and are able to build stronger immune system. A healthy diet limits the risk of chronic illnesses and infectious diseases

It is recommended to eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day to accomplish the body’s requirement of necessary Vitamins, Minerals, Dietary Fiber, Proteins and Antioxidants

Consume whole grains and legumes – this also reduces the risk of Diabetes

Drink ample water � at least 5 liters per day

Avoid sugar, fat and salt to significantly lower your risk of being overweight, and obese

Do not consume sugar-sweetened beverages & limit intake of oily food

obesity
One should avoid sitting for a long time and in every 20 minutes, move around for 3-5 minutes. Pixabay

Staying active

While the stay at home order has restricted our outdoor movements, it is important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible.

Avoid sitting or slouching all the time

Every 20 minutes, move around for 3-5 minutes; walk or stretch-this will help reduce the strain on a muscle, relieve any form of mental tension and will help circulate blood to the body.

Read More: Understand Your Kids’ Perspective to Make Them Exercise

Muscle activity increases if you are physically active, reducing the risk of speedy weight gain.

More vigorous free exercises are also great ways to remain active at home.

In current times focusing on good health, food habits and maintaining some level of physical activity will go a long way in warding off obesity. (IANS)

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Scientists Identify Antibodies With Potential to Block COVID-19 Virus

Journal Science published the study of antibodies that could potentially block the virus

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Coronavirus
Scientists have found a pair of antibodies which could pottentially block the COVID-19 virus. Pixabay

From a patient who recovered from COVID-19, scientists have isolated a pair of neutralising antibodies that could potentially block the virus responsible for the pandemic from entering into host cells.

The study, published in the journal Science, suggests that a “cocktail” containing both antibodies could provide direct therapeutic benefits for COVID-19 patients.

The new information detailed in the study could also aid the development of small molecule antivirals and vaccine candidates to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19.

The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4.

The study by Yan Wu from Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues found that the two antibodies bind to the glycoprotein spike of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and thereby block the entry of the virus into host cells.

doctors
The twin antibodies identified by the researchers are named B38 and H4. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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Preliminary tests of the two antibodies in a mouse model resulted in a reduction of virus titers, suggesting that the antibodies may offer therapeutic benefits.

The researchers found that the antibodies can each bind simultaneously to different epitopes on the spike’s receptor binding domain (RBD), such that both antibodies together may confer a stronger neutralising effect than either antibody on its own — a prediction supported by in vitro experiments.

This feature also means that, should one of the viral epitopes mutate in a way that prevents the binding of one of the two antibodies, the other antibody may yet retain its neutralising activity. (IANS)

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Low Magnitude Earthquakes Are Usual in Delhi: Scientists

Scientists said that 100 such earthquakes have been witnessed in Delhi in last 10 years

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Delhi has faced 100 such earthquakes in last one decade. Pixabay

By Aakanksha Khajuria

The National Centre of Seismology, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, on Monday sought to assuage the people’s fear regarding frequent earthquakes in the national capital, asserting that tremors between two to three magnitude are usual and have hit the city 100 times in the last ten years.

The clarification came a day after a medium-intensity earthquake of magnitude 3.4 hit the city. Its epicentre was near Wazirpur in the northeast of the capital.

“Delhi has been witnessing earthquakes in the range of two to three magnitude frequently. There is nothing to worry about as they are a normal phenomenon. In the last ten years, the city has been hit by more than 100 earthquakes,” an official from the seismology centre told IANS.

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Such Delhi earthquakes are a normal phenomena, scientists said. Pixabay

Clearing the air, the founder of Live Weather of India also asserted that Delhi and its surrounding regions have always remained home to small quakes. “We just keep on releasing pressure from time to time with minor quakes,” Navdeep Dahiya assured.

Read More: Rural India Setting Example for Others Amid Lockdown

On April 12, an earthquake of magnitude 3.5 had struck the city and tremors were felt in Noida and Ghaziabad as well.

According to data collated from the National Centre of Seismology’s website by Dahiya, the NCR region has been hit by 11 earthquakes between March 23 to May 10. As all these came amidst a nation-wide lockdown, they added more to worries of the people. (IANS)