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July 2017 Science and Technology

  • US tests world’s first Laser Weapons System
    The United States Navy recently tested the world's first-ever active laser weapons system. Each strike travels 50,000 times the speed of an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). In the test, the system was able to destroy a drone in flight and moving targets in the Persian Gulf. With its addition, USS Ponce becomes the first ship in the world to be deployed with such an advanced weapons system. 

  • Hubble telescope spots two dozen groups of newborn stars
    Researchers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope found a new disk-shaped galaxy surrounded by clusters of newborn stars. They compared the sighting as if the universe launched fireworks. Apparently, the cosmic event took 11 billion years before reaching the Hubble’s lenses, which is just 2.7 billion years after the Big Bang. 

    The data comes from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which features the sightings made during the Hubble Telescope’s four-year mission. The sum of all image data from the survey adds up to one-fourth of the observable sky. 

    This particular discovery is the result of analyzing the much smaller Sloan Giant Arcs Survey, which comprises observations where gravitational lensing is present. 

  • National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination announced
    Union Health Minister Shri J P Nadda launches the National Strategic Plan for Malaria Elimination (2017-22). This plan focuses on the states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The strategies involve strengthening malaria surveillance, establishing a mechanism for early detection and prevention of outbreaks of malaria. National Framework for Malaria Elimination (NFME) was launched in 2016 with the aim of eliminating malaria by 2030. 

  • Indian scientists discovered Saraswati, a supercluster of galaxies
    A team of Indian scientists has reported the discovery of a previously unknown ‘supercluster’ of galaxies, some four billion light years away from Earth, and named it Saraswati. 

    Superclusters, a group of clusters of galaxies, are the largest structures of stars, planets and other heavenly bodies in the universe, and very few of them are known. 

    There are basically only four or five known superclusters of this size in the entire universe. 

    The team had scientists from Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, Newman College in Thodupuzha in Kerala, and National Institute of Technology, Jamshedpur, and was led by Joydeep Bagchi. 

    Their paper is being published in the next issue of The Astrophysical Journal, the research journal of the American Astronomical Society. 

    Galaxies are themselves made of billions of stars and planets, and a cluster typically contains several hundreds of these galaxies. 

    Superclusters are relatively recent finds, having been identified for the first time only in the 1980s. In fact, Somak Raychaudhury, director of IUCAA and a member of this team, is credited with finding one supercluster in 1989 when he was a PhD student in the UK. 

  • India successfully test-fires short-range surface-to-air missile QR-SAM
    India on 3rd July successfully test-fired its all weather tracked-chassis Quick Reaction Surface-to-Air Missile (QR-SAM) from a mobile launcher at launch complex III of the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha. It was the second developmental trial of the missile just within three months from the same test range. 

    Jointly developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Ltd, the QR-SAM weapon system is a quick reaction, network-centric missile system capable of search-on-the-move. 

    QR-SAM system can also engage multiple targets within a range of around 30 km with two vehicle configuration for area air defence. It is a truck-mounted missile with a 360 degree rotatable, electro-mechanically operated, turret-based launch unit. 

    The missile intended to defend Army formations operating in plains and semi-desert areas, was required to engage all kinds of targets, including aircraft at altitudes up to 9 kilometers, hovering helicopters, missiles up to 800 meters per second and low-flying targets, including those that suddenly appear at close range. The first test launch of the missile was conducted on June 4, 2017, from the same base. 

  • Physicists find extra charming new subatomic particle 
    Scientists have found an extra charming new subatomic particle that they hope will help further explain a key force that binds matter together. Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe announced on 7th July the fleeting discovery of a long theorized but never-before-seen type of baryon. 

    Baryons are subatomic particles made up of quarks. Protons and neutrons are the most common baryons. Quarks are even smaller particles that come in six types, two common types that are light and four heavier types. 

    The high-speed collisions at the world's biggest atom smasher created for a fraction of a second a baryon particle called Xi cc, said Oxford physicist Guy Wilkinson, who is part of the experiment. The particle has two heavy quarks — both of a type that are called "charm"— and a light one. In the natural world, baryons have at most one heavy quark. 

    The two heavy quarks are in a dance that's just like the interaction of a star system with two suns and the third lighter quark circles the dancing pair.
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