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Showing posts from January 24, 2017

NASA wants you to pick picture sites for Jupiter probe(the hindu )

NASA has invited people to vote on which parts of Jupiter should be photographed by the Juno spacecraft during its next close flyby on February 2.

“We are looking forward to people visiting our website and becoming part of the JunoCam imaging team,” said Candy Hansen, investigator in the Juno probe from the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, Arizona.

“It’s up to the public to determine the best locations in Jupiter’s atmosphere for JunoCam to capture during this flyby,” Ms. Hansen added. JunoCam is a colour, visible-light camera designed to capture detailed pictures of Jupiter’s poles and cloud tops.

Juno will make its closest approach to Jupiter when the spacecraft is about 4,300 kms above the planet’s swirling clouds. Two hours later, the imaging will conclude as the spacecraft completes its close flyby, departing from below the gas giant’s south pole.

Juno is now on its fourth orbit around Jupiter. — IANS

Investment in walking, cycling must to prevent road accidents, fight climate change(downtoearth,)

A UN Environment report says people are at great risk every time they travel due to the lack of investment in safe transport options. Some 1.3 million people die each year on the roads and almost half of them are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Investment in walking and cycling infrastructure can save lives, reverse pollution and reduce carbon emissions, the report adds.

“People are risking their lives every time they leave their homes,” Erik Solheim, the head of UN Environment, said. “But it isn’t just about accidents. Designing transport systems around cars puts more vehicles on the road, increasing both greenhouse gas emissions and deadly air pollution. We must put people, not cars, first in transport systems.”

Compared to high-income countries, more people die in low-to middle-income countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America due to road accidents. As the global population is heading towards nine billion, there is a need to design mobility for people instead of mobi…

Assuring tenure rights to pastoralists can ensure food security(downtoearth)

In developing countries, one of the ways to ensure food security is by assuring adequate tenure rights to land. However, safeguarding tenure is not an easy task when it comes to the way land is used by pastoralists.

Over 500 million people in the world rely on livestock herding in the rangelands. They move from one place to another in search of pasture and also to avoid drought, animal diseases and civil conflicts.

To address the needs of pastoralists, the Food and Agriculture Organization, along with other organisations, has come up with a guide on how to establish tenure arrangements for this marginalised group of people.

“Pastoralism is a system of livestock production that takes advantage of both the diversity and the seasonality of natural resources in the rangelands. It is based on large-scale, carefully planned movements of livestock, which demands high levels of coordination between multiple users. This has led to the emergence of customs and institutions that enable decision…

Most poor people in Asia-Pacific region live in rural areas(downtoearth,)

Poverty remains a largely rural phenomenon in Asia and Pacific region (APR), despite strong economic growth in the past decades, says a new report by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The report titled “Rural Development Report 2016” released in November says that APR is home to the largest number of poor in the world with about 560 million (55 per cent of the global total) living below the US $1.25-a-day poverty line in 2011. Of these, 76 per cent live in rural areas.

Rapid economic growth, driven by China and India, has lifted APR’s share in global GDP from 18.1 per cent in 1980 to 27.8 per cent in 2013.

Agriculture sector—a major part of rural economy—has grown in the region. The average annual growth rate of agricultural GDP accelerated from 3.4 per cent in the 1980s and 1990s to 3.8 per cent in the 2000s. But these increases were accompanied by a decline in the share of agricultural value added in GDP, a sign typical of economies undergoing transformation, …

After US, rising sea level may soon gobble up an entire island in Canada (downtoearth)

Lennox Island, on the east coast of Canada, is drastically changing its character as the place has started seeing warmer winter and rising sea level. Between 1880 and 2015, the area of the island shrunk from 1,520 acres to 1,100 acres, indicating more than 300 football fields worth of land have been gobbled up by the sea within the span of a few generations. While the island is experiencing fiercer and more frequent storms, the warmer winters are gnawing at the ice cover that has traditionally protected the shores for months.

Is the Canadian island going to suffer the same fate as the vanishing island in Louisiana in the US? The possibility can’t be ruled out.

Layers of concern

It is to be noted that Lennox Island is vulnerable to coastal erosion because it’s made of sand and sandstone and lacks hard bedrock. In this low-lying island, sacred burial grounds have started getting washed away and baseball courts are already under the water. Homes, which were once comfortably elevated, no…

Scientists develop new molecule to fight antibiotic resistance(downtoearth)

In a collaborative study, scientists in the US and Switzerland have developed a new molecule, which restores the function of a carbapenem – meropenem. Carbapenems are last-resort antibiotics which are used to treat diseases when no other antibiotic is known to function.

The study was published earlier this month in Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. The molecule, which is essentially a strand of synthetic DNA, is termed as peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PPMO) that inhibits the expression of the New Delhi metallo-β- lactamase (NDM1) gene in any bacteria that carries it. Hence, PPMO is not bacteria-specific but gene-specific. Thus, the presence of PPMO in any bacteria (that carries the NDM1 gene) would restore its susceptibility to meropenem.

The study was conducted in vivo (tested in whole organisms, in this case mouse models was used) and in vitro (tested outside a living organism) models.

In a press release by the Oregon State University, the lead aut…

The price of fiscal folly()Hindu.

Borrowing to distribute for consumption is to be guarded against. When — as now — the government has debt outstanding, launching the universal basic income would amount precisely to that.

With the annual Budget of the Central government to be presented soon, exhortations have appeared in public on what it should contain. Two of these are somewhat extreme in their implications for the general population. One concerns borrowing by the government while the other amounts to a proposal on how best the government should allocate its expenditure.

In a recent speech made in Gandhinagar, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India is reported to have cautioned the government against increasing its borrowing. This brought him instant praise from sections of the media including this newspaper. He is reported as stating that “the government should desist from borrowing even more and pre-empting resources from future generations”. Not only did these remarks receive laudatory support in The Hindu bu…

Art outside comfort zones(Hindu.)

To stir and shake the classical environment, the Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha this year brings the non-classical and marginalised art traditions into classically tagged spaces.

For long we have believed that the arts bring people together; that those belonging to different sides of the fence, with opposite world views, merge in the presence of beauty. On the face of it this seems like a reasonable proposition. And in continuance of this line of thought, we have had umpteen performances that brought diverse artists together on a shared stage. These have been, at times, evenings of great art and pleasure, but rarely have they nudged us to find a new window through which we could see the world afresh. We are not looking for earth-shattering, radical shifts, but cumulative subtle movements that allow for a discourse. The problem probably lies with the presumption that the art world and artists come together in wonderment of aesthetic beauty, irrespective of its originating social and cultura…

Media in the time of Trump(Hindu.)

There’s already a whiff of Russia’s hand in the U.S. President’s win, and the crisis in the American media is playing out as a Cold War plot.

Behind the black-and-white contrast of the Cold War conflict, we always knew there was a cloak-and-dagger world that only had shades of grey. Assassinations, betrayals, coups d’état, espionage and proxy wars went on, so that our brightly-lit world of freedom and democracy could thrive.

The news media provided us with sober reports of political leaders doing their public duty. In our spare time we indulged ourselves with spy thrillers about heroes undertaking wet jobs on Manchurian candidates and other wrong-doers. The media industry helped keep these worlds apart, treating the one as news and the other as entertainment. We knew that wasn’t quite so, but we all behaved as if it was.

Russia hand in the U.S. poll

That compact has been blown apart amid recent accusations against Russia around U.S. President Donald Trump’s electoral victory. Allegat…

Globalisation’s new spokesman(Hindu)

President Xi Jinping’s message to the World Economic Forum in Davos was timely and perhaps visionary as well, in this time of extraordinary global uncertainty. It is no surprise if, as in the case of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s potential leadership of the Western alliance, questions have arisen at this juncture about Mr. Xi’s willingness to take up cudgels on behalf of broader internationalism and against the rising tide of inward-looking nationalism. His address at the opening plenary before captains of business and industry could not have been a more robust and reassuring defence of the current world economic order, perceived to be at its most fragile in the post-War era with the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President. Foremost is Mr. Xi’s caution against attempts to prevent the free flow of goods, services, capital and people as running counter to the historical trend. It is tempting to interpret this remark as a pointed rebuke to growing calls for economic protectionism…