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General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated

Delhi: NEW DELHI: Kick-starting the long overdue process for integration among
the Army, Navy and IAF, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat has
directed his tri-Service integrated defence staff (IDS) to prepare a plan for
the creation of an Air Defence Command (ADC) as well as “common
logistics support pools” for the armed forces.
The “proposal” for the ADC should be prepared by June 30, said General
Rawat, while also setting out “the priorities for execution of synergy”
among the armed forces in different arenas in a time-bound manner by
December 31.
“Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of
common logistics support pools in stations where two or more Services
are located. The Army and Navy, for instance, should share their logistics in Mumbai to avoid duplication and save resources.
The CDS also said efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive,” said an
official.
“While emphasising the collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three Services and the Coast Guard
must be consulted and their views obtained in a time-bound manner. Decisions, however, will be taken to ensure optimisation
of resources,” he added.
General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated Air Defence
Command and common logistics for armed forces
03/01/2020 General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated Air Defence Command and common logistics for armed forces – Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/gen-rawat-proposes-setting-up-of-an-integrated-air-defence-command-and-common-logistics-for-armed-forces/articleshowprint/73074338.cms 2/2
If and when the proposed ADC comes up, it will only be the third tri-Service or unified command in the country. The first and
the only theatre or “geographical” command till now was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in October 2001,
while the “functional” Strategic Forces Command to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal was established in January 2003.
In contrast, there are as many as 17 single-Service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3). Three new small tri-Service agencies,
not full-fledged commands, were also established last year for the critical warfare domains of space, cyberspace and special
operations.
The setting up of integrated commands and structures, by overriding the proclivity of the three Services to zealously guard
their own turfs, will lead to an integrated land-air-sea war-fighting machinery, save resources and right-size the almost 15-lakh
strong armed forces, as earlier reported by TOI.
Though IAF is primarily responsible for the country’s air defence (AD) against enemy aircraft, missiles and drones, the Army and
Navy also have their own AD weapons with individual infrastructure and logistics chains.
The wide variety of AD weapons in the armed forces include the Israeli low-level Spyder quick-reaction surface-to-air missile
(QR-SAM) systems (15-km range), the indigenous Akash area defence missile systems (25-km range) and the medium and longrange Barak-8 SAM systems (70 to 100-km range) jointly developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries and DRDO.
IAF is also slated to begin inducting five squadrons of the advanced S-400 Triumf missile systems from Russia from next year
onwards, under the $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal inked in October 2018.
With the S-400 systems, which can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, jets, spy planes, missiles and drones at
a range of 380-km, India plans to boost its air defence coverage along the unresolved borders with China and Pakistan as well
as around cities like New Del

 

Sc. & Tech.

Rhino horns created in laboratory will help conservation reducing poaching

Chandan Kumar Duarah : – Scientists are going to produce artificial rhino horns of made of exactly same components and make it available in the black market.  Actually realistic fake rhino horns made from horse hair in an attempt to reduce illegal poaching. High price of rhino horn leaves bloody trail across the globe. While a number of ways have been proposed to address the problem of poaching and to reduce the demand in international market some scientists firmly believe the artificial horns made of same componets will reduce the poaching. From stigmatising the use of rhino horn to legalising domestic trade, experts say there is another option: swamp the market with fakes, means artificial.

In India, people driven by superstitions believe in  rhino horn as a protector of evils and misfortune. They use a piece of horn with purpose of ornamental as well as astrological. In South-east Asian countries powder if rhino horn is used in traditional medicine. Rhino horn is believed to have many benefits in Chinese medicine, including working as an aphrodisiac.  So horn is in demand for a range of uses, from traditional Chinese medicine to ornamental carvings, and the illegal international trade is thriving.

In South Africa alone, 769 rhinos were poached in 2018, and there have also been attempts to steal rhino horns from museums in Europe. In Assam, rhino poaching or deaths have not been stopped and many death cases has been kept under cover. A total of 239 one-horned rhinos have been killed by poachers in Assam from 2001 to 2016, and despite high security, most were from Kaziranga National Park, which accounted for 161, the state assembly was told by the department of forest of Assam. So cientists plan to flood black market with fake rhino horn to reduce its commercial uses and it will help poaching in India(Assam) as well as in Africa.

According to the scientists from the University of Oxford and Fudan University, Shanghai, this will be done by demonstrating a way to a vastly cheaper copy that can be used to infiltrate the market. “The economists seem to think that if you flood the market with substitutes, the price will drop,” said Prof Fritz Vollrath, the co-author of the research at the University of Oxford. “If the price drops and the penalty of having rhino horn is still very high, then the value proposition changes for the trader” he said. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Now scientists say they have made a convincing fake rhino horn by gluing together the hair of a horse’s tail, stripped of its outer layer. It is exactly same with horn of rhino unlike horns of other animals like cow, buffalos, deers, goats etc. The team say they chose horse hair because the animal is a close cousin to the rhinoceros, while the hairs have similar dimensions to the keratin filaments – or hair – that the team say make up rhino horn. The team uses “glue” which is a silk-based substance they say emulates the materials that fulfil the role in real rhino horn. They used cellulose also in the artificial mix to resemble the plant material that is incorporated when the animal sharpens its horn.

It is surprising that this material developd artificially shows similar chemical properties like rhino horns. The resulting material, said Vollrath, can easily be moulded into a rhino horn shape, dried under vacuum in a hot oven and polished. The upshot is a material that shows similar mechanical properties to the real deal, feels similar and even looks similar under a microscope. Analytical studies demonstrated similarities in composition and properties between natural and faux horns.

“It appears from our investigation that it is rather easy, as well as cheap, to make a bio-inspired horn-like material that mimics the rhino’s extravagantly expensive tuft of nose hair,” the authors write. According to the researchers, it is important that plausible copies should be simple to produce while being very similar in both structure and chemical composition.

Co-author Ruixin Mi, from the Department of Macromolecular Science at Fudan University, says their study demonstrates that materials science can contribute to fundamental issues in biology and conservation. “The fundamental structure of the rhino horn is a highly evolved and tough fibre reinforced bio-composite and we hope that our attempts to copy it will not only undermine the trade in rhino horn but might also find uses as a novel bio-inspired material” he said.

The team believe the development could lead to the rhino horn market being swamped with faux horns, thereby sowing confusion and causing a price crash – making it less profitable for poachers to source the real thing. “[The idea is] any punter who wants to spend 1,000 quid on a couple of grams says, ‘Wait a minute, what is my probability that my stuff is real or that it is just horse hair?’” said Vollrath. “It is just rattling the market.” However, the team say it will be up to others to develop their idea.

The latest study is not the first to look at the possibility of producing fake horns. Among those working on the idea is the start-up Pembient, which is attempting to bioengineer fake horns that are genetically identical to the real thing. The first are reportedly expected to go on sale in 2022.

Dr Richard Thomas from the wildlife organisation Traffic said that while the latest study had good intentions, it posed considerable risks. “Pushing a synthetic alternative could help to reinforce the perception that rhino horn is a desirable commodity, thus perpetuating existing demand, while presenting consumers with a synthetic alternative may actually stimulate demand for the real thing, thus exacerbating the existing situation,” he said.  Thomas added that another problem was that unlabelled fake horn might bring legal and enforcement challenges. Fake horns may help smmuglers to tranportalthough Vollrath said experts would be able to spot the fake.

“This initiative to flood market with artificial horns, I doubt, would do more harm than any good. It would only reaffirm the faith of the users on the so called curative properties of the horn and could be a setback to the existing conservation strategies’  Mubina Akhtar, an environmentalist from Assam, India said.

Above all , it is important to reduce demand for rhino horn and scientists thik so.  Scientists believe this can be achieved through long-term consumer behavioural change interventions coupled with strong enforcement measures to deter would-be and existing consumers of rhino horn.

 

Sc. & Tech.

IBM and Google disagree on quantum computing achievement

  • Google has a new paper in Nature that shows the results of a quantum computing experiment.
  • One practical application of the technology could be a decade away, Google CEO Sundar Pichai says.

Image Google CEO Sundar Pichai stands with a quantum computer a Google laboratory in Santa Barbara, CaliforniaGoogle

Alphabet subsidiary Google on Wednesday touted a breakthrough in computing research that’s documented in the latest issue of the journal Nature. The paper was actually released online by accident last month by the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which contributed on the research alongside Google, and was quickly removed. Now the full paper is live.

There’s just one problem: IBM thinks Google has overstated its achievement.

The controversy is the latest example of major technology companies trying to one-up each other in quantum computing, a futuristic realm with no clear winner yet. Microsoft and Intel have also been working actively in the area.

Quantum computing is utterly unlike today’s computing. Our existing PCs and mobile devices express information that ultimately gets boiled down to ones and zeros. Quantum computers work in quantum bits, or qubits, which is more nuanced — information can be a one and a zero at the same time.

This technology has promise. It could come in handy to solve problems that modern computers aren’t so good at. It could improve the computing of artificial intelligence models, and it could help with materials science and chemistry work. It could even be used to break encryption one day, and Google is aware of that possibility.

Google’s Nature paper talks about an experiment that researchers conducted with a custom 54-qubit processor called Sycamore. The goal for Google was attaining quantum supremacy — essentially doing something with a quantum computer that would take an impractically long time with normal computers. Google has been focused on the challenge of quantum supremacy — a concept that dates to 2012 — for some time.

“Our Sycamore processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times — our benchmarks currently indicate that the equivalent task for a state-of-the-art classical supercomputer would take approximately 10,000 years,” the researchers wrote in the paper.

“This dramatic increase in speed compared to all known classical algorithms is an experimental realization of quantum supremacy for this specific computational task, heralding a much-anticipated computing paradigm.”

Google tapped its own computing infrastructure as well as Summit, currently the world’s most powerful supercomputer, to simulate the quantum work and then extrapolate.

IBM took issue with the 10,000-year calculation.

“We argue that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity,” IBM’s Edwin Pednault, John Gunnels and Jay Gambetta wrote in a blog post. They said quantum supremacy in the strictest terms had not in fact been accomplished.

Applications in drug discovery, climate change

Leaving aside IBM’s skepticism about how long it would take a classical computer to do what Google’s chip did, the question now becomes what Google, IBM and other companies will eventually be able to do with their quantum systems.

“We are only one creative algorithm away from valuable near-term applications,” the researchers wrote in the Nature paper.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked about this in an interview with MIT Technology Review. The answer suggests that the company at least has some clues about the possibilities.

“The real excitement about quantum is that the universe fundamentally works in a quantum way, so you will be able to understand nature better. It’s early days, but where quantum mechanics shines is the ability to simulate molecules, molecular processes, and I think that is where it will be the strongest. Drug discovery is a great example. Or fertilizers — the Haber process produces 2% of carbon [emissions] in the world. In nature the same process gets done more efficiently.”

Evolving the Haber process, he said, could be a decade away.

The IBMers also recognized that much more work lies ahead.

“For quantum to positively impact society, the task ahead is to continue to build and make widely accessible ever more powerful programmable quantum computing systems that can implement, reproducibly and reliably, a broad array of quantum demonstrations, algorithms and programs. This is the only path forward for practical solutions to be realized in quantum computers,” they wrote.

Sc. & Tech.

China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods

Flood in Assam could be minimised with the help and application of early warning system, says Chandan Kumar Duarah,  a science journalist and conservation activist in Assam. Satellite data has been playing a crucial role  which was ignored during Assam flood.  Several countries including China, Russia and France collaborated with India on sharing satellite images of the scale of inundation. As signatories to the The International Charter Space and Major Disasters, any of the 32 member countries can send a ‘request’ to activate the Charter. This would immediately trigger a request by the coordinators to space agencies of other countries whose satellites have the best eyes on the site of the disaster.

Based on an activation request by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on July 17, France’s National Centre for Space Studies, China National Space Administration and ROSCOSMOS of Russia shared satellite images of the flood situation in the districts of Dhubri, Marigaon, Barpeta, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur in Assam with ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre. ISRO’s CARTOSAT satellites too got the Indian space agency its own images.

‘Standard practice’

Ravish Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in response to a query from The Hindu that combining earth observation assets from different space agencies allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response. This was a “standard practice” and in the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests. In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province and killed 398.

Since 2000, when the Charter came into operation there have been about 600 activations and data from 61 satellites have helped with disaster operations in 125 countries.

Sc. & Tech.

‘A terrible thing’: India’s destruction of satellite threatens ISS, says Nasa

India’s destruction of one of its satellites has been labelled a “terrible thing” by the head of Nasa, who said the missile test created 400 pieces of orbital debris and posed a threat to astronauts onboard the International SpaceStation (ISS).

Jim Bridenstine was addressing employees five days after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile launch that it says elevated the country to the elite tier of space powers.

The satellite shattered into pieces, many of which are dangerously large but too small to track, Bridenstine said. “What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track – we’re talking about 10cm (six inches) or bigger – about 60 pieces have been tracked.”

Space agency chief says shooting down of satellite has created 400 pieces of orbital debris

The Indian satellite was destroyed at a relatively low altitude of 180 miles (300km), well below the ISS and most satellites in orbit.

But 24 of the pieces were going above the ISS, said Bridenstine. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said, adding: “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.”

“It’s unacceptable and Nasa needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”

The US military tracks objects in space to predict the collision risk for the ISS and for satellites. It is tracking 23,000 objects larger than 10cm. That includes about 10,000 pieces of space debris, of which nearly 3,000 were created by a single event: a Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007, 530 miles above the surface.

As a result of the Indian test, the risk of collision with the ISS has increased by 44% over 10 days, Bridenstine said. But the risk will dissipate over time as much of the debris will burn up as it enters the atmosphere.

India’s ministry of external affairs said at the time of the launch the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there was no space debris. “Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back on to the Earth within weeks,” it said.

The missile test was celebrated in India but also drew criticism because it was announced by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, while the government is supposed to be in caretaker mode before elections starting this month.

There are estimated to be about 900,000 pieces of debris larger than a marble in orbit around the Earth, according to statistical models cited by the European Space Agency. There are about 34,000 objects circulating that are larger than 10cm.

Even collisions with tiny objects can be catastrophic in space, largely due to the pace at which spacecraft are moving in orbit, a minimum of 7.8km per second.

Sc. & Tech.

US didn’t spy on India’s ASAT test: Pentagon:

  The Pentagon has strongly denied the reports that the US spied on India’s anti-satellite missile test by sending a reconnaissance aircraft from its base in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to monitor the development. It, however, said the United States was aware about India’s first test-fire of an anti-satellite missile. “No US assets were spying on India. In fact, the US continues to expand its enduring partnership with India, resulting in enhanced interoperability and stronger economic ties,” US Defense Department spokesperson Lt Col David W Eastburn said. Aircraft Spots, which monitors military air movements, had said that a US Air Force’s reconnaissance aircraft from its base in Diego Garcia went “for a mission in the Bay of Bengal to monitor India’s anti-satellite missile test”. This was interpreted by many that the US spied on Indian ASAT test. “I don’t think that it implies coordination between India and the US,” astronomer Jonathan McDowell from the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics told PTI on the Aircraft Spots report. “This implies that the US intelligence community were aware of the test in advance because to some extent they’re spying on India,” he alleged. “Everybody spies on their friends as well as their enemies. That’s the way the world works these days. It would be surprising if the US were not detecting or observing the launch site and aware of activities preparing for the test. So one assumes that they knew it was coming,” he claimed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Wednesday announced that India successfully test-fired an anti-satellite missile by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space super powers. The test made India the fourth country in the world after the US, Russia and China to acquire the strategic capability to shoot down enemy satellites. 
— PTI

Sc. & Tech.

IIT Guwahati’s bone graft aids extensive bone formation

by R Prasad

A scaffold made of silk–bone cement composite doped with silicon and zinc metal ions has been found to regenerate new bone tissue in rabbits in three months. The newly formed bone forms a seamless joint with the existing bone and has blood vessels inside it. Tests carried out on rabbits with defective thigh bone (femur) showed extensive bone formation of 73% at the end of 90 days compared with 49% in the case of scaffold made only of silk fibre. Even at the end of 30 days, there was adequate bone regeneration and new blood vessel formation.

Superior graft

The bone graft fabricated and tested by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati is superior to currently available ones, affordable and does not require external use of growth factors for bone cells to grow.

“At the end of three months, the silk fibre had completely degraded leaving behind a homogeneous bone produced by rabbit bone cells. The newly formed bone had healed the defective femur,” says Prof. Biman Mandal from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati who led the team. The bone cement made of calcium phosphate becomes a part of the bone while the biocompatible metal ions (silicon and zinc) get leached out at the end of 90 days.

The team is now validating the bone graft in large animals for clinical translation.

IIT Guwahati’s bone graft aids extensive bone formation

The scaffold is fabricated by first doping the bone cement with silicon and zinc and mixing the bone cement with chopped mulberry silk fibre. The bone cement gets adsorbed on the silk fibre. Liquid silk fibre is then added to bind the chopped fibre and bone cement; the liquid silk also makes the composite highly porous. The silk–bone cement composite has higher density and strength, more surface area and high surface roughness, closely resembling a native bone.

“The zinc and silicon ions get leached from the composite and activate bone and blood vessel cells. This leads to faster regeneration of the bone tissue and blood vessel formation,” says Prof. Mandal. “By doping with these metal ions we are doing away with external addition of growth factor and also making the graft affordable.”

“While the silk scaffold provides the physical cues, the silicon and zinc metal ions provide the chemical cues. These two synergistically mimic the biological cues which people use for tissue engineering,” explains Joseph Christakiran Moses from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati and first author of a paper published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering.

Explaining how new blood vessels are formed, Moses says: “Silicon and zinc trigger a molecular response within the bone cells which makes them feel that they are lacking oxygen (triggering hypoxia response element). So the bone cells start secreting pro-blood vessel forming (angiogenic) signals leading to vascularisation.”

Bone regeneration

The compressive strength of silk fibre is about 40 kPa, while it is nearly double in the case of the silk–bone cement composite. Though doping with the silicon and zinc metal ions reduces the mechanical properties, particularly the compressive strength, the bulk strength of the doped composite is sufficient to activate bone regeneration.

Through in vitro studies carried out prior to experimentation with rabbits, the researchers realised that incorporation of bone cement and metal ion doped bone cement enhanced the bone tissue regeneration capacity.

                    While the composite was seeded with bone cells for in vitro studies, in rabbits, the composite was used without adding any bone cells. “Bone cells from neighbouring tissue migrate and bind to the scaffold and aid in bone regeneration,” Prof. Mandal says. The high porosity allows the bone cells to migrate and occupy the insides of the composite and regenerate the tissue, while the surface roughness of the composite, which closely mimics the native bone, facilitates faster and better regeneration of the bone.(Source: The Hindu)

Sc. & Tech.

German tech firm Graforce produces fuel from wastewater

The German technology company Graforce has introduced a unique technology: Plasmalysis saves resources in its highly efficient generation of hydrogen from industrial waste water. Mixing in biogas produces hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG) – a cost-effective, environmentally friendly fuel for vehicles that also generates electricity and heat. The technology not only converts wastewater pollutants into valuable energy, but also reduces emissions (CO2, CO, HC) by 30 to 60 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions are also reduced by up to 60 percent. Graforce’s partners include carmaker Audi and Berliner Wasserbetriebe.

“The technology we’ve developed is capable of cleaning wastewater and producing a low-cost, low-emission fuel from it,” says Graforce founder Dr. Jens Hanke at today’s launch of a demonstration plant in Berlin. “This lets us contribute to solving two pressing problems at once: air pollution and wastewater treatment.”

Cost-effective fuel with lower emissions

Graforce produces hydrogen using the plasmalysis process in its demonstration plant in Berlin. The process uses electricity to split wastewater obtained from biogas, sewage treatment and industrial plants into oxygen and hydrogen. Mixing hydrogen with biogas produces HCNG, which can be used as fuel in natural gas vehicles and in block heating and gas power plants. Only purified water and oxygen remain as waste products. Hydrogen production using plasmalysis is 50-60% cheaper than with conventional processes.

Audi tests wastewater use of methane production with e-fuels

German carmaker Audi has also been committed its reliance for many years to alternative, synthetic fuels. One of the biggest challenges to e-fuel production is the wastewater produced by biogas plants. It requires very expensive cleaning or disposal. Integrating plasmalysis technology into Audi’s e-fuel plants repurposes the wastewater into hydrogen production while purifying it at the same time. This enables Audi’s systems to be used more efficiently. “Graforce’s plasmalysis is an important contribution to low-emission fuel production while boosting the economy and efficiency of biogas and power-to-gas plants,” explains Dr. Hermann Pengg, Head of Project Management for Renewable Fuels at Audi and CEO of Audi Industriegas GmbH.

By Tech Observer Desk