MTA: Multi-role Transport Aircraft.
Dada Saheb Phalke Award, 2011
Bengali cinema legend Soumitra Chatterjee, who has portrayed a versatile range of lead characters in films by Satyajit Ray,has been conferred the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, 2011, the highest honour in Indian cinema.The award consists of Swarna Kamal (Golden Lotus) medal, a cash prize of Rs.10 lakh and a shawl.
The 77-year-old actor has been compared with noted Bengali star, late Uttam Kumar, and worked with film-makers like Mrinal Sen and Tapan Sinha.
Some of his notable movies are:“Jhinder Bandi”, “Koni”, “Kaapurush”, “Akash Kusum”, “Aranyer Din Ratri”, “Joy Baba Felunath”, “Teen Bhubaner Pare”, “Ganashatru” and “Sakah Prashakha”.
India, Russia ink pact for multi-role transport aircraft
On May 30, 2012, the Indo-Russian project to develop a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) got a major boost with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) signing a tripartite general contract with Russian partner United Aircraft Corporation-Transport Aircraft (UAC-TA) and Multi-role Transport Aircraft Ltd (MTAL) for the project.
The MTA is slated to replace the AN 32 aircraft being used by the IAF.
The Russian Air Force will get 100 aircraft against IAF’s 45 out of the initial production target of 205 aircraft. The remaining 60 aircraft will be sold to friendly countries at an estimated price of $35 million apiece.
The aircraft will be used for cargo and troop transportation, para-drop and air drop of supplies, including low-altitude parachute extraction system.
HAL has been manufacturing transport aircraft such as Avros and Dorniers at TAD, Kanpur.
Single test for admission to IITs, NITs from 2013
Students aspiring for admissions to all centrally-funded technical institutes (CFTIs) in the country, including the IITs and the NITs, will be required to take only one entrance test from 2013.
The test will, for the first time, factor in the weightage of Class XII marks (normalised across State boards through an equalisation formula developed by the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata), besides the marks candidates obtained in the two components of the new single test (main and advanced), both to be held the same day in the morning and evening.
The IITs have, however, been granted special concessions on the ground that they are “different” from the rest and have initiated “experiments in technical education”.
The non-IIT technical institutes will prepare their final merit list for admissions on the basis of the following formula: 40 pc weightage to school-leaving exam marks and 30 pc weightage each to the marks obtained by candidates in the main and advanced tests of the single entrance exam.
The IITs will follow a different format under which these would be required to factor in the school board exam marks only for the purpose of screening students for admissions to the IITs and not for actual admissions. The IITs will first screen students on the basis of a merit prepared by granting weightage to them in the ratio of 50 pc for Class XII exam marks and 50 pc for marks obtained in the “main” component of the test. The top 50,000 scorers on the merit list will be eligible for admission to the IITs and their “advanced” component papers alone will be evaluated by the IITs to prepare a final merit list for admissions. This merit list won’t have any place for school exam marks.
Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra have agreed to join the new format instead of having separate exams for State engineering colleges.
Study finds permafrost thaw, glacier melt releasing methane
Methane from underground reservoirs is streaming from thawing permafrost and receding glaciers, contributing to the greenhouse gas load in the atmosphere, a study led by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has found.
The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, is the first to document leakage of deep geologic methane from warming permafrost and receding glaciers.
Release of methane into the atmosphere from any source is troubling because methane has far more potent greenhouse powers than carbon dioxide, climate scientists say. Methane has more than 20 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide.
Scientists have speculated about such methane releases and modelling has predicted that it would happen as the cryosphere—the earth’s layer of ice and frozen ground— softens and melts.
The leaking geologic methane comes from such sources as underground coal beds and conventional natural gas reservoirs. Those are fossil fuels that energy companies target in drilling operations.It, however, differs from the methane streaming from decaying plant and animal matter at the bottom of warming Alaska lakes.
ITBP team scales Mount Everest
On May 19, 2012, a six-member team of the Indo-Tibetan border Police (ITBP) scaled Mount Everest. The attempt was part of the golden jubilee celebration of the ITBP.
The ITBP had scaled the Everest three times earlier but this was the first time they plan to ski down from the Chinese side to create a world record. More than 15 attempts to ski down the Everest from the Chinese side have failed in the past owing to various reasons and in order to keep a record of this expedition, the ITBP team would be wearing camera-mounted helmets specially procured from Japan.
Manto, Saadat Hassan
A noted writer, born to a Kashmiri Muslim family of barristers, his birth centenary was observed on May 11, 2012. He received his early education in Amritsar, but remained a misfit throughout his school years.
Between his obsessive drinking and writing, he produced 22 collections of short stories, one novel, five collections of radio plays, three collections of essays, two collections of personal sketches and many scripts for films. In 1954, he wrote “Mirza Ghalib” which was the first Hindi film to win the first National award in India.
Robot fish for pollution monitoring
European scientists have developed a Robot “fish” to improve pollution monitoring.The developers hope the new technology, which reduces the time it takes to detect a pollutant from weeks to seconds, will sell to port authorities, water companies, aquariums and anyone with an interest in monitoring water quality.
It could also have spin-offs for cleaning up oil spills, underwater security, diver monitoring or search and rescue at sea.
The fish, which are 1.5 meters long and currently cost US$31,600 each, are designed to swim like real fish and are fitted with sensors to pick up pollutants leaking from ships or undersea pipelines. They swim independently, co-ordinate with each other, and transmit their readings back to a shore station up to a kilometer away.
Chemical sensors fitted to the fish permit real-time, in-situ analysis, rather than the current method of sample collection and dispatch to a shore based laboratory.
The fish can avoid obstacles, communicate with each other, map where they are and know how to return to base when their eight-hour battery life is running low.
The development project was part-funded by the EU and drew on expertise from the University of Essex and the University of Strathclyde in Britain, Ireland’s Tyndall National Institute and Thales Safare, a unit of Europe’s largest defence electronics group, Thales, which was responsible for the communication technology.
Heart Tissue from skin cells
Scientists have for the first time succeeded in taking skin cells from patients with heart failure and transforming them into healthy, beating heart tissue that could one day be used to treat the condition.
The researchers, based in Haifa, Israel, said there were still many years of testing and refining ahead. But the results meant they might eventually be able to reprogram patients' cells to repair their own damaged hearts.
Heart failure is a debilitating condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body. It has become more prevalent in recent decades as advances medical science mean many more people survive heart attacks.
At the moment, people with severe heart failure have to rely on mechanical devices or hope for a transplant.
Researchers took skin cells from two men with heart failure—aged 51 and 61—and transformed them by adding three genes and then a small molecule called valproic acid to the cell nucleus.
They found that the resulting hiPSCs were able to differentiate to become heart muscle cells, or cardiomyocytes, just as effectively as hiPSCs that had been developed from healthy, young volunteers who acted as controls for the study.
The team was then able to make the cardiomyocytes develop into heart muscle tissue, which they grew in a laboratory dish together with existing cardiac tissue.
Within 24 to 48 hours the two types of tissue were beating together, they said.
In a final step of the study, the new tissue was transplanted into healthy rat hearts and the researchers found it began to establish connections with cells in the host tissue.
First private cargo rocket
A private cargo rocket bound for the International Space Station blasted off on May 22, 2012, in what NASA hopes will mark an important step in handing routine space missions over to the private sector.
With the brilliant glare of nine engines spewing out 1 million pounds of thrust, the rocket, a Falcon 9 built by SpaceX, rose slowly off the launching pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, then shot upward into the sky.
The payload was only about 1,000 pounds of cargo, with nothing of great value. The importance is instead technical and symbolic.
The cargo capsule is the first commercial, rather than government-operated, spacecraft to dock at the station.
With success of this flight, SpaceX would begin a $1.6 billion contract to fly 12 cargo missions to the space station. SpaceX is also among the companies aiming to win NASA business for taking astronauts to the space station.
SpaceX mission caught up to the space station, which circles Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and then flew about 1.5 miles underneath the space station to demonstrate its communication and navigation systems. A robotic arm on the space station, operated by an astronaut aboard, grabbed the Dragon and swung it to a docking port.
The Dragon would remain attached until the end of May 2012 as astronauts unpack cargo and pack items to bring back. Undocking on May 31, the Dragon would land in the Pacific Ocean off California.
Sandwich turns 250
On May 13, 2012, the British town of Sandwich celebrated the 250th anniversary of the moment when its Earl invented the bread-based meal that would go on to become a global convenience snack.The first written record of the sandwich was in 1762 and the Kent town of Sandwich, which is the earldom of the Montagu family, is celebrating 250 years of the meal.The story goes that fourth Earl of Sandwich asked for beef served between slices of bread so that he could eat while continuing to play cards and his friends asked “to have the same as Sandwich”, according to the British Sandwich Association.