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Knowledge Update

Introduction & Purpose
Knowledge update and Industry update at Skyline University College (SUC) is an online platform for communicating knowledge with SUC stakeholders, industry, and the outside world about the current trends of business development, technology, and social changes. The platform helps in branding SUC as a leading institution of updated knowledge base and in encouraging faculties, students, and others to create and contribute under different streams of domain and application. The platform also acts as a catalyst for learning and sharing knowledge in various areas.

NASA cargo spacecraft begins delivering key science to ISS

Washington, March 27 (IANS) The Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo ship from NASA was finally bolted into place on the International Space Station's (ISS) Earth-facing port on Sunday.

The spacecraft's arrival will support the crew members' research off the Earth to benefit the Earth.

The spacecraft was delivering more than 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of nearly 250 science and research investigations that will be carried out during Expeditions 47 and 48.

Beginning with this mission, Cygnus is equipped with a NanoRacks External Cygnus Deployer for CubeSats that will provide opportunities for small satellites to be deployed from Cygnus after the vehicle departs from the ISS.

The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before separating from the station.

After completion of its primary ISS resupply mission, Cygnus depart a safe distance from the station before deploying the satellites, and begin its destructive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in May 2016, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

The flight was delivering investigations to the space station to study fire, meteors, regolith, adhesion and 3D printing in microgravity.

The "Saffire-I" investigation will provide a new way to study a realistic fire on an exploration vehicle, which has not been possible in the past because the risks for performing such studies on manned spacecraft are too high.

Instruments on the returning Cygnus will measure flame growth, oxygen use and more.

Results could determine microgravity flammability limits for several spacecraft materials, help to validate NASA's material selection criteria, and help scientists understand how microgravity and limited oxygen affect flame size.

A less heated investigation called "Meteor Composition Determination" will enable the first space-based observations of meteors entering Earth's atmosphere from space, the US space agency said in a statement.

A more "grounded" Strata-1 probe will study the properties and behaviour of regolith - the impact-shattered "soil" found on asteroids, comets, the Moon and other airless worlds.

From grounded to gripping, another investigation launching takes its inspiration from small lizards. The "Gecko Gripper" investigation tests a gecko-adhesive gripping device that can stick on command in the harsh environment of space.

Once adhered, the gripper can bear loads up to 20 pounds. The gripper can remain in place indefinitely and can also be easily removed and reused.

From adhesion to additive, the new Additive Manufacturing Facility (AMF) will also be part of the cargo. Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is the process of building a part layer-by-layer, with an efficient use of the material.

The facility is capable of producing parts out of a wide variety of space-rated composites, including engineered plastics.

The ability to manufacture on the orbiting laboratory enables on-demand repair and production capability, as well as essential research for manufacturing on long-term missions.​

Young smartphone users stream 6.2 GB of video each month

New York, March 25 (IANS) Young smartphone users under the age of 25 use a whopping 6.2 GB of mobile and Wi-Fi data each month for mobile video streaming, according to a study.

The study, 'Connected Intelligence Smartphone and Tablet Usage Report', was recently carried out by the multi-national market research company NPD Group, reported. 

It also found the average smartphone user eats up nearly 3 GB of mobile data per month, with video streaming as the top driver of that consumption.

Smartphone users under the age of 25 are also outpacing their peers in terms of time spent watching streamed video content.

"Users are spending more time watching videos on their smartphones than ever before, as the adoption of smartphones that boast larger displays increases," said NPD Connected Intelligence Mobility practice research director Brad Akyuz. 

But while younger users may lead in terms of consumption, they are far from the only ones streaming video.

According to the study, more than 80 percent of all smartphone users in the US now stream video on their devices.

"This mobile streaming behaviour is further bolstered by the new offerings of wireless operators, such as T-Mobile's Binge On and Verizon Wireless' go90, which run on free sponsored data," Akyuz said.​

Our moon tilted by five degrees, lunar ice reveals

Washington, March 24 (IANS) New NASA-funded research provides evidence that the spin axis of Earth's moon shifted by about five degrees roughly three billion years ago.

The evidence of this motion is recorded in the distribution of ancient lunar ice, evidence of delivery of water to the early solar system."The same face of the moon has not always pointed towards Earth," said Matthew Siegler of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona."As the axis moved, so did the face of the 'man in the moon'. He sort of turned his nose up at the Earth," Siegler noted in a paper appeared in the journal Nature.

Water ice can exist on Earth's moon in areas of permanent shadow.If ice on the moon is exposed to direct sunlight it evaporates into space.

The team show evidence that a shift of the lunar spin axis billions of years ago enabled sunlight to creep into areas that were once shadowed and likely previously contained ice. 

The researchers found that the ice that survived this shift effectively "paints" a path along which the axis moved.

They matched the path with models predicting where the ice could remain stable and inferred the moon's axis had moved by approximately five degrees.

This is the first physical evidence that the moon underwent such a dramatic change in orientation and implies that much of the polar ice on the moon is billions of years old.

"The new findings are a compelling view of the moon's dynamic past," added Yvonne Pendleton, director of NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) in California.

"It is wonderful to see the results of several missions pointing to these insights," he said.

These findings may open the door to further discoveries on the interior evolution of the moon, as well as the origin of water on the moon and early Earth.​

Japan begins test run of gravity wave detector

Tokyo, March 25 (IANS) Japanese scientists on Friday began a test run of an underground telescope to detect gravitational waves and gain a better understanding of the universe through their observations.

The test run, which will continue until March 31, comes a month after a US-led team of scientists said it had identified the gravitational waves, theorised 100 years ago by Albert Einstein, EFE news reported.

The KAGRA telescope is installed inside a tunnel located more than 200 metres underground at the Kamioka mine site in the Gifu prefecture to minimise seismic noise.

The facility uses laser beams moving back and forth inside vacuum pipes that have mirrors placed at each end to detect the very small waves.

The Japanese efforts to detect gravitational waves are being led by 2015 Physics Nobel laureate Takaaki Kajita from the University of Tokyo.

After checking the telescope's performance with another test run in April, the Japanese team plans to make modifications to boost its sensitivity and start full-fledged operation between 2017 and 2018.

"We want to join the international network of gravitational wave observation as soon as possible," Kajita said in a statement.

Gravitational waves GW150914 were discovered on September 14, 2015, by twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in the USA's Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington.​

Humble haldi can help fight deadly TB

New York, March 25 (IANS) Turmeric, an essential ingredient that spices up an Indian curry, may help fight drug-resistant tuberculosis, new research has found.

In Asia, turmeric is already used to treat many health conditions and it has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and perhaps even anticancer properties, the study pointed out.

Researchers have now found that by stimulating human immune cells called macrophages, curcumin - a substance in turmeric -- was able to successfully remove Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative bacterium of tuberculosis (TB), from experimentally infected cells in culture. 

The process relied on inhibiting the activation of a cellular molecule called nuclear factor-kappa B.

"Our study has provided basic evidence that curcumin protects against Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in human cells," said lead author of the study Xiyuan Bai from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in the US.

The findings appeared in the journal Respirology. 

The ability of curcumin to modulate the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis points to a potential new tuberculosis treatment that would be less prone to the development of drug resistance.

"The protective role of curcumin to fight drug-resistant tuberculosis still needs confirmation, but if validated, curcumin may become a novel treatment to modulate the host immune response to overcome drug-resistant tuberculosis," Bai noted.​

Cassini reveals tallest peak on Saturn's moon Titan

Washington, March 25 (IANS) In a nod to extraterrestrial mountaineers of the future, scientists working on NASA's Cassini mission have identified the highest point on Saturn's largest moon Titan.

Titan's tallest peak is 10,948 feet high and is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes.

The researchers found that all of Titan's highest peaks are about 10,000 feet in elevation.

The study used images and other data from Cassini's radar instrument, which can peer through the obscuring smog of Titan's atmosphere to reveal the surface in detail.

"It's not only the highest point we've found so far on Titan, but we think it's the highest point we're likely to find," said Stephen Wall, deputy lead of the Cassini radar team at NASA.

Most of Titan's tallest mountains appear to be close to the equator.

The researchers identified other peaks of similar height within the Mithrim Montes, as well as in the rugged region known as Xanadu.

"As explorers, we're motivated to find the highest or deepest places partly because it's exciting. But Titan's extremes also tell us important things about forces affecting its evolution," added Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University in Utah.

Mountains and cliffs on Earth usually are found in locations where forces have shoved the surface upward from underneath.

The Himalaya and Andes Mountains are examples of places where interior forces are at work today.

Cassini has found that Titan also has rain and rivers that erode its landscape.

According to Radebaugh, the process probably proceeds much more slowly on Titan than on the Earth because, at 10 times Earth's distance from the sun, there is less energy to power erosive processes in the moon's atmosphere.

The fact that Titan has significant mountains suggests that some active tectonic forces could be affecting the surface, for example, related to Titan's rotation, tidal forces from Saturn or cooling of the crust.

The next step for the researchers will be trying to figure out what could produce such tall peaks on an icy ocean world.

"There is lot of value in examining the topography of Titan in a broad, global sense, since it tells us about forces acting on the surface from below as well as above," said Radebaugh.

The results were presented at the 47th annual lunar and planetary science conference in Texas on Thursday.​

Vitamin C rich diet may slow down cataracts

London, March 25 (IANS) Eating a diet rich in vitamin C may slow the progression of cataract -- a condition that may lead to blindness, reveals a study, adding that environmental factors and diet also influence cataract more than genetic factors.

The findings showed that those participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33 percent risk reduction of cataract progression and had "clearer" lenses 10 years after the study than those who had consumed less vitamin C as part of their diet.

"The findings of this study could have significant impact, particularly for the ageing population globally, by suggesting that simple dietary changes such as increased intake of fruit and vegetables as part of a healthier diet could help protect them from cataracts," said lead study author Chris Hammond from the Kings College London.

"While we cannot avoid getting older, diabetes and smoking are also risk factors for this type of cataract, and so a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle generally should reduce the risk of needing a cataract operation," Hammond added.

Cataract is a common condition in which the lens of the eye becomes cloudy as a result of oxidation over time. 

The study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, looked at the progression of cataracts in the eyes of 324 pairs of female twins over 10 years by examining photographs of the participant's lenses that allowed them to analyse the level of opacity of the lens in detail. 

Participant intake of vitamin C was also measured using a food questionnaire.

The study found that environmental factors -- including diet -- influenced cataract more than genetic factors, which only explained a third of the change in lens opacity.

It is thought that increased intake of vitamin C has a protective effect on cataract progression by increasing the vitamin C available in the eye fluid.

"The human body cannot manufacture vitamin C, so we depend on vitamins in the food we eat. We did not find a significantly reduced risk in people who took vitamin tablets, so it seems that a healthy diet is better than supplements,” added study's first author Kate Yonova-Doing.​

Not just pancreas, brain too regulates glucose metabolism

New York, March 25 (IANS) What has brain to do with glucose metabolism? A lot, say researchers, suggesting that not just your pancreas, a group of neurons in the hypothalamus area also plays a vital role in maintaining blood glucose levels.

The team from Rockefeller University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have used magnetic forces to remotely control the flow of ions into specifically targeted cells in mice.

Jeffrey Friedman, head of the laboratory of molecular genetics, and colleagues successfully employed this system to study the role of the central nervous system in glucose metabolism.

“These results are exciting because they provide a broader view of how blood glucose is regulated -- they emphasize how crucial the brain is in this process," Friedman said.

“Having a new means for controlling neural activity, one that doesn't require an implant and allows you to elicit rapid responses, fills a useful niche between the methods that are already available,” added the scientist in a paper which appeared in the journal Nature.

The new study is the first to turn neurons on and off remotely with radio waves and magnetic fields.

Using this novel method, the researchers investigated the role these glucose sensing neurons play in blood glucose metabolism.

Hormones released by the pancreas, including insulin, maintain stable levels of glucose in the blood.

A region of the brain called the ventromedial hypothalamus was thought to play a role in regulating blood glucose.

Friedman and colleagues found that when they switched these neurons on with magnetic forces, blood glucose increased, insulin levels decreased, and behaviourally, the mice ate more.

When they inhibited the neurons, on the other hand, the opposite occurred, and blood glucose decreased.

“We tend to think about blood glucose being under the control of the pancreas, so it was surprising that the brain can affect blood glucose in either direction to the extent that it can," Friedman noted.

The system has several advantages that make it ideal for studies on other circuits in the brain or elsewhere.

It can be applied to any circuit, including dispersed cells like those involved in the immune system.

In addition to its utility as a research tool, the technique may also have clinical applications.

“Depending on the type of cell we target and the activity we enhance or decrease within that cell, this approach holds potential in development therapies for metabolic and neurologic diseases,” explained Jonathan Dordick from Rensselaer.​

Prolonged daily sitting causes four percent of deaths globally: Study

New York, March 25 (IANS) Sitting for more than three hours per day is responsible for nearly four percent of deaths in the world, shows an analysis of surveys from 54 countries around the world.Reducing sitting time to less than three hours per day would increase life expectancy by an average of 0.2 years, the researchers estimated.
In order to properly assess the damaging effects of sitting, the study analysed behavioural surveys from 54 countries around the world and matched them with statistics on population size, actuarial table and overall deaths

Researchers found that sitting time significantly impacted all-cause mortality, accounting for approximately 433,000, or 3.8 percent, of all deaths across the 54 nations in the study. 

They also found that sitting had higher impact on mortality rates in the Western Pacific region, followed by European, Eastern Mediterranean, American, and Southeast Asian countries, respectively.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

While researchers found that sitting contributed to all-cause mortality, they also estimated the impact from reduced sitting time independent of moderate to vigorous physical activity. 

"It was observed that even modest reductions, such as a 10 percent reduction in the mean sitting time or a 30-minute absolute decrease of sitting time per day, could have an instant impact in all-cause mortality in the 54 evaluated countries, whereas bolder changes (for instance, 50 percent decrease or two hours fewer) would represent at least three times fewer deaths versus the 10 percent or 30-minute reduction scenarios," explained lead investigator Leandro Rezende from the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil.​

Yeast diversity may explain difference in chocolate taste

New York, March 25 (IANS) Do you love Swiss chocolates more than those from Indonesia? You may thank diverse yeast population for that particular taste as researchers have found that those differences may play an important role in the characteristics of chocolate and coffee from different parts of the world.

In comparison to the yeasts found in vineyards around the world, those associated with coffee and cacao beans show much greater diversity, the findings showed.

"Our study suggests a complex interplay between human activity and microbes involved in the production of coffee and chocolate," said Aimee Dudley of the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute in Seattle, US. 

"Humans have transported and cultivated the plants, but at least for one important species, their associated microbes have arisen from transport and mingling in events that are independent of the transport of the plants themselves," Dudley noted.

Coffee and cacao trees originally grew in Ethiopia and the Amazon rain forest. They are now widely cultivated across the "bean belt" that surrounds the equator. 

After they are picked, both cacao and coffee beans are fermented for a period of days to break down the surrounding pulp. 

This microbe-driven process also has an important influence on the character and flavour of the beans.

To explore further, the researchers bought unroasted coffee and cacao beans grown in Central and South America, Africa, Indonesia or the Middle East and isolated the associated yeast in their Seattle laboratory. 

Genetic analysis of those yeast strains revealed that yeasts from coffee and cacao beans were substantially more diverse than the wine yeasts. 

Interestingly, the genetic signatures of the yeast strains strongly clustered according to the geographic origin of the beans, the study said.

In fact, this association was so strong that they were able to accurately determine the origin of the beans solely from the DNA sequences of their associated yeasts, Dudley said.

The findings appeared in the journal Current Biology.

The findings showed that the yeast strains associated with coffee and cacao have multiple, independent origins. 

The researchers believe that the findings could lead to improvements in chocolate and coffee. ​