Nellai MJ.Soorya Manirasu

March 18, 2009

Indian Scientists discover new species of Bacterium in Stratosphere



Three new species of bacteria, which are not found on Earth and which are highly resistant to ultra-violet radiation, have been discovered in the upper stratosphere by Indian scientists. One of the new species has been named as Janibacter hoylei, after the Distinguished Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, the second as Bacillus isronensis recognising the contribution of ISRO in the balloon experiments which led to its discovery and the third as Bacillus aryabhata after India’s celebrated ancient astronomer Aryabhata and also the first satellite of ISRO.

The experiment was conducted using a 26.7 million cubic feet balloon carrying a 459 kg scientific payload  soaked in 38 kg of liquid Neon, which was flown from the National Balloon Facility in Hyderabad, operated by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The payload consisted of a cryosampler containing sixteen evacuated and sterilised stainless steel probes. Throughout the flight, the probes remained immersed in liquid Neon to create a cryopump effect. These cylinders, after collecting air samples from different heights ranging from 20 km to 41 km, were parachuted down and safely retrieved. These samples were analysed by scientists at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad as well as the National Center for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune for independent examination, ensuring that both laboratories followed similar protocols to achieve homogeneity of procedure and interpretation.

The Analytical Findings are Summarised as Follows:

In all, 12 bacterial and six fungal colonies were detected, nine of which, based on 16S RNA gene sequence, showed greater than 98% similarity with reported known species on earth. Three bacterial colonies, namely, PVAS-1, B3 W22 and B8 W22 were, however, totally new species. All the three newly identified species had significantly higher UV resistance compared to their nearest phylogenetic neighbours. Of the above, PVAS-1, identified as a member of the genus Janibacter, has been named Janibacter hoylei. sp. nov. The second new species B3 W22 was named as Bacillus isronensis sp.nov. and the third new species B8 W22 as Bacillus aryabhata.

The precautionary measures and controls operating in this experiment inspire confidence that these species were picked up in the stratosphere. While the present study does not conclusively establish the extra-terrestrial origin of microorganisms, it does provide positive encouragement to continue the work in our quest to explore the origin of life.

This multi-institutional effort had Jayant Narlikar from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune as Principal Investigator and veteran Scientists U.R. Rao from ISRO and P.M. Bhargava from Anveshna supported as mentors of the experiment. S. Shivaji from CCMB and Yogesh Shouche from NCCS were the biology experts and Ravi Manchanda from TIFR was in charge of the balloon facility. C.B.S. Dutt was the Project Director from ISRO who was in charge of preparing and operating the complex payload.

This was the second such experiment conducted by ISRO, the first one being in 2001. Even though the first experiment had yielded positive results, it was decided to repeat the experiment by exercising extra care to ensure that it was totally free from any terrestrial contamination.


March 2, 2009

Lok Sabha Polls 2009 : Full Details

The term of the 14th Lok Sabha (People’s House) will end on June 1st 2009. So, in accordinance to Indian Constitution, a new Lok Sabha has to be elected before 2nd of June 2009. The Election Commission of India announced the schedule of the Lok Sabha Elections this evening. The presented the 120 page report of the election schedule. State Legislative Assembly Polls for Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Sikkim will also be conducted along with Lok Sabha Polls. It will be a 5 phase election with full electronic voting machines. This poll is estimated to cost Rs. 10,000 crores and set a record in the world.

Click below to download the 120 page pdf file released by Election Commission of India this evening.

Lok Sabha Polls 2009
(Full Details) PDF

India’s own aircraft carrier + Video

India kicked off its most ambitious warship building project on Saturday. It began the process of assembling its first indigenous aircraft carrier. This 40,000 ton carrier will also be India’s largest warship. Only three other countries have made warships of this size.

It’s a giant leap for a country, 80 per cent of whose military hardware is of foreign origin.

What is the big deal about India’s first aircraft carrier which will be built here at these docks? This will herald the arrival of India as an expeditionary power, capable of launching air strikes 8,000 nautical miles away from its shores. And all this muscle will be Swadeshi.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta said, ” Sixty more warships to be made in India over next 10 years. This will not be the last indigenous carrier. “

India’s very own carrier will be a floating airstrip, 260 metres long, 60 metres wide and as high as a 14-storeyed building. From its two take-off runways, it will be able to launch as many as 30 aircraft on the high seas, including MiG-29K fighters and the Light Combat Aircraft. Its 4 gas turbines will produce 80 MW of power, enough to light up a small city. It will need a crew of 1,600 and is expected to eventually cost about $3 billion before it is handed over to the Navy in 2014.

Call it the Lego block building approach. About 875 blocks of metal will be welded together into an aircraft carrier. The 400-odd blocks which have been built so far occupy two entire grounds at the Cochin Shipyards”

Ahead of the polls, putting his stamp on this carrier on his home turf is A K Antony’s last hurrah as Defence Minister. He also announced a major post-26/11 revamp of India’s coastal security

Six years down the line, India’s indigenous aircraft carrier could be a metaphor for national capability, perhaps the biggest brand ambassador for the made in India tag.

March 1, 2009

Week in Pictures : February 23 to March 1 2009

Kashmir : Tour Zone or War Zone (Special Photo Feature)

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