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BY- JAYA CHOUDHARY
The world’s worst civilian nuclear disaster took place when a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine, then part of the soviet union. Present-day Belarus received 60% of the initial fallout. The radioactive clouds continued to disperse through Europe, covering the majority of the continent. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant was one of the most modern facilities in the Soviet Union. The first two reactors were put into operation in the late 1970s, with the fourth reactor coming online in 1983.
Prior to the tragedy, the population of the area was estimated to be about 14,000 inhabitants and the area was the site of Ukraine’s first nuclear power plant. While the town still has a population of about 690 residents, it has become more of a ghost town, with animals occupying many of the empty houses. The number of deaths directly linked to the original blast is estimated to be about 31, although the WHO claimed that a total of 4000 deaths can be traced to radiation poisoning due to the huge exposure.
This is how it went down, according to the World Nuclear Association.
Staff at Chernobyl reactor 4 were testing if the turbines could supply enough energy to keep the coolant pumps working in the event of a power outage, and whether they could do so before the diesel generator kicked in. They had attempted this test before, but it had failed. They reduced the reactor’s output to 25% of its maximum capacity, but a concern emerged when the power dropped to 1%. They then attempted to raise the capacity, but a huge power surge resulted. The emergency restart of the reactor was unsuccessful.
One engineer tried to stop the drill, but a higher-up ordered him to keep on. The reactor got even more unreliable after that. According to one step-by-step analysis, the 1.5-tonne blocks atop the fuel channels of the upper biological shield started jumping up and down, and one engineer felt the shock through the building system. The pumps eventually failed, no water flowed, and the reactor began to make noises.
As hot fuel met cold water, a mass of steam formed that couldn’t escape, causing a lot of pressure. The radiation leak began as this pressure removed a 1000 tonne lid. A graphite fire resulted from air entering the reactor. A second blast occurred after hot steam collided with zirconium, forming hydrogen. This blast was even larger than the first, and it threw rubble all over the place.
As a result of the burning of gasoline, fires erupted all over the place, and radiation was released into the atmosphere. Thousands of tonnes of sand, boron, and dolomite were then dumped on the burning reactor by helicopter for days, not only to put out the fuel but also to attempt to avoid the transmission of radiation.
For ten days, a vast volume of toxic material was present in the air, the majority of which fell as dust into surrounding locations, but smaller fragments were carried far and wide by the wind. The Soviet Union finally created a 19-mile buffer zone around the reactor, forcing 3,35,000 residents to flee their homes.
Nonetheless, according to a UN survey, more than 6000 children and adolescents were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as a result of the incident. Furthermore, the tragedy is estimated to have cost 235 billion dollars in losses and polluted almost a fifth of modern Belarus’ farm soil. Scientists predict that the region surrounding the plant would be uninhabitable for up to 20,000 years after more than 30 years. Even now, the exact scale of the tragedy is unknown, as it is still being investigated.
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)