GT Team has told you about this already. But here’s the update. Affordable clean water, sustainable energy solutions and sequestration of greenhouse gases—these are some of the biggest challenges facing humankind today. Here’s the good news. Interaction of nanotechnology with biology has produced some exciting results and can now be used to create new materials.
At the recent 98th Indian Science Congress, Dr T Pradeep of IIT, Madras, spoke about the scope of nanochemistry. “The bionano interface could help solve problems of water, food, health and environment. Hazardous and toxic impurities like arsenic could be removed from drinking water in a cheap and effective manner using nanotechnology,” Dr Pradeep has been quoted as saying.
Nanotechnology facts: Did you know?
1. Nanotechnology can be used in fuel cells and a day might come when a car is run on water alone by separating hydrogen from water, using hydrogen fuel cells.
2. Gold nano particles could be used to detect Alzheimer’s at an early stage and in reconstructive surgery.
Did you hear they are renaming Beijing? No. What will it be called? “Honking”
This viral, widely circulated on the web, can now rest. After all, a newly announced quota would limit the number of new vehicles on Beijing roads to 20,000 a month. The announcement, effective from January 1, 2011, led to a frenzy with more than 50,000 people applying for a new Beijing license plate.
Here’s how the system will work. There would be a lucky draw on the 26th of each month and he who wins, gets to buy a car! However, the 20,000/per month year quota is not cast in stone. “Beijing will revise its car quota on a year-by-year basis, depending on road capacity and air quality,” Transportation authorities have been quoted as saying.
First, there was the Genetically Modified (GM) brinjal. Now, it’s the GM pig. Enviropig , a new project involves creation of a new breed of Yorkshire pigs that look like any other of their species, but are very different in reality. Inserted into the DNA of each pig are genes from mice and E.coli bacteria which change the way these animals digest their food.
Pigs are fed a diet rich in phosphates but their bodies can not digest it. So the body wastes contain large amounts of it, which make their way to lakes or rivers and contaminate them to toxic levels. However, the new breed called Frankeswine can easily digest phosphates thanks to the gene modification.
This translates to less pollution and cheap feeding. Yes, genetic modification is a hotbed for controversies and many GM activists have criticised this project. Although the inventors of Enviropig realise they are a long way off from approval, they hope the ever increasing population and global food woes will accelerate the process.
Sure you could use a compass, but that’s not as much fun! The ‘shoe radar’ could soon be a reality, thanks to a team of researchers from North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University. “There are situations where GPS is unavailable, such as when you are in a building, underground or in places where a satellite connection can be blocked by tall buildings or other objects,” says Dr Dan Stancil, a member of the research team.
“The radar is attached to a small navigation computer that tracks the distance between your heel and the ground. If that distance does not change within a given period of time, the navigation computer knows that your foot is stationary,” he adds. So the next time you are out for a trek, make sure you take you shoe radar along!
A recent study has found that there are some species of fish that can live on land too! What’s more, they can survive on land for up to two months, thanks to their skins.
Mangrove killifish are small fish that live in temporary pools in the coastal mangrove forests of Central and South America and Florida. During dry seasons when their pools disappear, the fish hole up in leaf litter or hollow logs. As long as they stay moist, they can survive for extended periods out of water by breathing air through their skin.
The skin on this species of fish has special cells called ionocytes. Other fish species have skin ionocytes in larval stages of development, but usually these cells disappear in the skin as the fish develops. Fancy that!