Trivia – Science & Technology

Blue Gene Project:

Blue Gene is a supercomputer development project at IBM for a series of high-performance system-on-a-chip (SoC) architectures with minimal power demands. The series includes Blue Gene/L, Cyclops64, (formerly Blue Gene/C), Blue Gene/P and Blue Gene/Q.

Potential applications of the Blue Gene series include the stimulation of complex processes and phenomena such as space flight, wildfire behavior, cloud formation, storm evolution, and the effects of human activity on the earth’s climate.

ACTN3 Gene:

This code encodes a member of the alpha-actin binding protein gene family. The encoded protein is primarily expressed in skeletal muscle and functions as a structural component of sarcomeric Z line. This protein is involved in crosslinking actin containing thin filaments. An allelic polymorphism in this gene results in both coding and non-coding variants; the reference genome represents the coding allele. The non-functional allele of this gene is associated with elite athlete status.

The ACTN3 gene instructs the body to produce a specific muscle protein called alpha-actinin-3, which has been shown to contribute to the muscle’s ability to generate forceful, repetitive, muscle contractions.

INSPIRE programme:

“Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)” is an innovative programme sponsored and managed by the Department of Science and Technology for attraction of talent to Science. The basic objective of INSPIRE is to communicate to the youth of the country the excitements of creative pursuit of science, attract talent to the study of science at an early age and thus build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the S&T system and R&D base.

A striking feature of the programme is that it does not believe in conducting competitive exams for identification of talent at any level. It believes in and relies on the efficacy of the existing educational structure for identification of talent.

INSPIRE has three components:

  • Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS)
  • Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE)
  • Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC)

Kessler Syndrome with reference to space debris:

The prevalence of space debris increases the likelihood of cascading collisions, creating debris belts that render many orbits effectively unusable. This cascading effect, in which debris generation outstrips debris re-entry, is known as Kessler Syndrome.

With a low enough density the addition of debris through impacts is lower than their rate of decay, and the problem does not become significant. Beyond that is a critical density where additional debris can quickly upset the system and lead to additional collision. At a high enough density the rate of production is greater than decay rates, leading to a “cascade”, or chain reaction, that quickly reduces the on-orbit population to small objects on the order of a few cm in size, making any sort of space activity potentially catastrophic. This worrying possibility was called “Kessler Syndrome”.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids in our food:

These are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for a number of functions in the body. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are found in seafood, such as fatty fish (e.g., salmon, tuna, and trout) and shellfish (e.g., crab, mussels, and oysters). A different kind of omega-3, called ALA, is found in other foods, including some vegetable oils (e.g., canola and soy). Omega-3s are also available as dietary supplements; for example, fish oil supplements contain EPA and DHA, and flaxseed oil supplements contain ALA. Moderate evidence has emerged about the health benefits of consuming seafood.

Arsenic Bug and its significance:

NASA supported researchers have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism, which lives in California’s Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorous in the backbone of its DNA and other cellular components. This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth.

Carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorous and sulfur are the six basic building blocks of all known forms of life on Earth. Phosphorous is part of the chemical backbone of DNA and RNA, the structures that carry genetic instructions for life, and is considered an essential element for all living cells.