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Canada to conduct world’s first Zika vaccine test on humans

A Canadian university in July 2016 said that it will conduct the world's first Zika vaccine test on humans. The vaccine that is under development will be tested on humans in the near future. Until now, vaccines have been tested on mice.

Kobinger, a doctor of microbiology and professor of medicine at the university, is overseeing the study.
•    The disease is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by Aedes mosquitoes.
•    People with Zika virus disease can have symptoms including mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache. These symptoms normally last for 2-7 days.
•    There is scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Links to other neurological complications are also being investigated.
•    The virus is capable of causing serious birth defects and has traveled quickly through Latin America.
•    There is no existing treatment or vaccine for it.

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China inducted its largest indigenously-built transport aircraft named as Y-20

China inducted its largest indigenously-built transport aircraft named as Y-20, marking a crucial step in its Air Force history for improving its strategic power projection capability. 
•    It is also considered as a breakthrough for Chinese defence sector especially in military aviation technology which will allow the world’s largest force to transport cargo and troops over long distances in diverse weather conditions. 
•    The indigenously designed and developed Y-20 officially joined the PLA Air Force in Chengdu. 
•    It is ideal for transporting cargo and personnel over long distances in diverse weather conditions. It has a maximum take-off weight of 200 tonnes. 
•    The plane is comparable to the Russian-made IL-76 and US made C-17. 
•    It is more advance than the IL-476. 
•    Its induction will make easier for Chinese PLA to deploy troops, enable military to act more promptly and respond to emergencies in a better manner 
•    The Y-20 had undergone its maiden flight in January 2013 and since then it had undergone trials runs, including in the rugged Tibetan terrain, 
•    It had made its debut at the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in November 2014.

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(NASA) has given its approval to extend New Horizons mission to investigate a mysterious object deep in the Kuiper Belt.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the first week of July 2016 gave its approval to the New Horizons mission to investigate a mysterious object deep in the Kuiper Belt.
The mission will explore the mysterious object known as 2014 MU69.
It is expected that the New Horizons will reach 2014 MU69 on 31 December 2018 or 1 January 2019.
•    2014 MU69 is an ancient object considered one of the early building blocks of the solar system.
•    It was selected as New Horizons' target in August 2015.
•    After four course changes in October and November 2015, New Horizons is on course toward 2014 MU69.
•    2014 MU69 was initially called PT1 and 1110113Y by the New Horizons and Hubble teams respectively.
•    It was discovered on 26 June 2014 using the Hubble Space Telescope during a preliminary survey to find a suitable Kuiper belt object for the New Horizons probe to flyby.
•    2014 MU69 is the first object to be targeted for a flyby that was discovered after the spacecraft was launched.
•    New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program.
•    It is engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team led by S. Alan Stern.
•    It was launched with the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system. Its secondary mission is to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs).
•    New Horizons was launched on 19 January 2006 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
•    It was launched directly into an Earth-and-solar escape trajectory with a speed of about 16.26 kilometers per second.
•    On 14 July 2015, it flew 12500 km above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet.

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China builds World's largest radio telescope

China has finished the installation of the world's largest radio telescope, according to reports from state media. 

•    The last of the telescope's 4,450 triangular panels was fitted into the dish this weekend, ahead of the telescope's planned launch in September. 
•    The Five Hundred Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (or FAST) is the size of 30 soccer fields, and has taken over five years and $180 million to build.
•    FAST is nearly twice as big as the next largest radio telescope — the 300-meter-wide Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. 
•    One of the scientists involved in building FAST said that if it the telescope's dish was filled with wine, there would be enough to give five bottles of the stuff to each of the Earth's 7 billion inhabitants.
•    The telescope will be put to more serious uses: searching for extraterrestrial life and exotica of the Universe such as pulsars, quasars, and gravitational waves. 
•    More than 9,000 residents living within a 5 kilometer distance of FAST were relocated during the telescope's construction. 
•    Each received 12,000 yuan ($1,800) in compensation from the Chinese government.

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Rare dinosaur-era bird wings found in myanmar

Scientists have discovered specimens of complete wings of tiny, prehistoric birds that were trapped in amber 100 million years ago and preserved in exquisite detail.
•    Thousands of fossil birds from the time of the dinosaurs have been uncovered in China. However, most of these fossils are flattened in the rock, even though they commonly preserve fossils.
•    The new specimens, discovered by researchers including Xing Lida from the China University of Geosciences, and Mike Benton from the University of Bristol in the UK, come from a famous amber deposit in northeastern Myanmar, which has produced thousands of exquisite specimens of insects of all shapes and sizes, as well as spiders, scorpions, lizards, and isolated feathers.
•    This is the first time that whole portions of birds have been noted.
•    The fossil wings are tiny, only two or three centimetres long, and they contain the bones of the wing, including three long fingers armed with sharp claws, for clambering about in trees, as well as the feathers, all preserved in exquisite detail.
•    The Burmese amber deposits are producing a treasure trove of remarkable early fossils, and they document a particularly active time in the evolution of life on land, the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution.
•    Flowering plants were flourishing and diversifying, and insects that fed on the leaves and nectar of the flowers were also diversifying fasts, as too were their predators, such as spiders, lizards, mammals, and birds.
•    The research was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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CSIR has launched BGR-34, an anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug designed for type 2 Diabetes mellitus

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on 27th June launched BGR-34 - an anti-diabetic ayurvedic drug designed for type 2 Diabetes mellitus.
•    BGR-34 is developed jointly by National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) and Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP), the research units of CSIR at Lucknow.
•    BGR-34 has been economically priced at Rs. 5 per tablet as compared to latest DPP4 inhibitors globally, a joint release by NBRI and CIMAP and the manufacturer AIMIL Pharmaceuticals (India) Ltd, said.
•    A K S Rawat, Sr Principal Scientist of CSIR-NBRI said six crore of the adult Indian population had been found to be diabetic and there is no effective solution for diabetes as yet.
•    He said CSIR's premier research institutions have developed and established the efficacy of BGR-34.
•    The modern diabetes drugs are known for side-effects and toxicity while BGR-34 works by controlling blood sugar and limiting the harmful effects of other drugs, he added.
•    The scientists of NBRI and CIMAP joined hands in developing the drug and they had in-depth study of over 500 renowned ancient herbs and finally identified the six best herbs listed in Ayurvedic ancient texts to develop an anti-diabetic formulation.

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Newly renovated and expanded Panama Canal was reopened by the Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela.

Newly renovated and expanded Panama Canal reopened for bigger business on 26 June 2016.
The first ship to cross the canal using the third set of locks was a modern New Panamax vessel, the Chinese-owned container ship Cosco Shipping Panama.
The 5.25 billion US dollar project was unveiled nearly two years late after construction delays, labour strife and apparent cost overruns.
The project is expected to create demand for ports to handle New Panamax ships.
•    The Panama Canal expansion project is also called as the Third Set of Locks Project.
•    The project was formally proposed by the then-Panamanian President Martín Torrijos on 24 April 2006.
•    A national referendum approved the proposal by a 76.8 percent majority on 22 October 2006.
•    The project formally began in 2007.
•    The project has built two new sets of locks, one each on the Atlantic and Pacific sides, and excavated new channels to the new locks.
•    It also widened and deepened existing channels.
•    It also raised the maximum operating water level of Gatun Lake.
•    The expansion doubled the Canal’s capacity, and has a direct impact on economies of scale and international maritime trade.
•    The project doubled the capacity of the Panama Canal by:
•    Adding a new lane of traffic allowing for a larger number of ships
(b) Increasing the width and depth of the lanes and locks allowing larger ships to pass. The new larger size of ships is called New Panamax. They are about one and a half times the previous Panamax size and can carry over twice as much cargo.
•    The Panama Canal is a man-made 48-mile waterway in Panama.
•    It connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.
•    The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama.
•    It is a key conduit for international maritime trade.
•    France began work on the canal in 1881, but stopped due to engineering problems and a high worker mortality rate.
•    The United States took over the project in 1904, and opened the canal on 15 August 1914.
•    The Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
•    Colombia, France and later the United States controlled the territory surrounding the canal during construction.
•    The US continued to control the canal and surrounding Panama Canal Zone until the 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties provided for handover to Panama.
•    In 1999, the canal was taken over by the Panamanian government. It is now managed and operated by the government-owned Panama Canal Authority.
•    The American Society of Civil Engineers has called the Panama Canal one of the seven wonders of the modern world.

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Scientists have developed a new stem cell-containing bio-ink that allows 3D printing of complex living tissues

The new bio ink containing stem cells allows scientists to 3D print of living tissue which is also known as bio-printing. 
•    The ink contains two different polymer components: a natural polymer and a sacrificial synthetic polymer. 
•    The natural polymer was extracted from seaweed. 
•    It provides structural support when the cell nutrients are introduced. The synthetic polymer used in the medical industry helps the bio-ink to change its state from liquid to solid when the temperature is raised. 
•    The special bio-ink formulation has helped scientists to construct complex living 3D architectures after it was extruded from a retrofitted benchtop 3D printer, as a liquid that later transformed to a gel at 37°C. 
•    Stem cell is an undifferentiated cell of a multicellular organism which is capable of giving rise to indefinitely more cells (through mitosis) of the same type and from which certain other kinds of cell may be formed by the cellular differentiation. 
•    In the stem cell treatments new adult cells are introduced into the damaged tissue through the intervention strategy to treat the disease. 
•    These treatments have potential to change the face of curing human diseases and alleviate suffering.

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Chinese supercomputer TaihuLight world's fastest Computer

Chinese supercomputer Sunway TaihuLight with 93 petaflop/second speed was on 20 June 2016 declared as the world’s fastest supercomputer. 
•    It was revealed in the TOP500 list of supercomputers released at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt, Germany.
•    The list further revealed that the USA is not home to the largest number of systems. With a surge in industrial and research installations registered over the last few years, China leads with 167 systems and the USA is second with 165.
•    Asian share of 218 systems, up from 173 in November 2015, includes 8 supercomputers owned by Indian-based organizations.
•    This supercomputer can perform 93 petaflop operations per second.
•    It was developed by the National Research Center of Parallel Computer Engineering & Technology (NRCPC) and installed at the National Supercomputing Center in Wuxi.
•    It displaced the Tianhe-2, an Intel-based Chinese supercomputer that has claimed the top spot on the previous six TOP500 lists.
•    With 10649600 computing cores comprising 40960 nodes, is twice as fast and three times as efficient as Tianhe-2.
•    Sunway TaihuLight demonstrates the significant progress that China has made in the domain of designing and manufacturing large-scale computation systems as it is completely based on homegrown processors.

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India’s membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program approved

The Union Cabinet on 15 June 2016 gave its approval for Indian membership of the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP) consortium.
The approval clears the path for signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the GFZ - Helmholtz Centre Potsdam (German Research Centre for geosciences). The GFZ is a government-funded, Public Law Foundation of the State of Brandenburg, Germany.
•    The MoU, which will be in force for 5 years, will enable India in engaging internationally renowned experts with profound expertise in different aspects of scientific drilling.
•    The deep drilling and associated investigations will be conducted in Koyna region in Maharashtra.
•    As a part of the membership agreement, India will get a seat on two ICDP panels - Executive Committee (EC) and Assembly of Governors (AOG).
•    ICDP will provide technical / operational support, facilitate capacity building in terms of manpower training in key scientific areas, sample and data management
•    The ICDP will also support workshops for the Koyna scientific deep drilling project undertaken by Ministry of Earth Sciences.
•    As a member of ICDP, scientists/engineers from India would have right to submit proposals, to participate in all ICDP co-funded workshops and drilling projects.
•    They will get access to all data results from ICDP projects. This will shed new light on the genesis of seismicity and better understanding of earthquake processes.
•    It was founded in February 1996 in the German Embassy in Tokyo as a result of the German Continental Deep Drilling Program.
•    It is a multinational program to further and fund geosciences in the field of Continental Scientific Drilling.
•    The research findings will provide direct insight into Earth processes by testing geological models.
•    The GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences serves as the headquarters for the ICDP.
•    Members of ICDP: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the UK, the USA and UNESCO.

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