Scientists have said they will reanimate a 30,000-year-old giant virus unearthed in the frozen wastelands of Siberia, and warned climate change may awaken dangerous microscopic pathogens.
Reporting this week in the flagship journal of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, French researchers announced the discovery of Mollivirus sibericum , thefourth type of pre-historic virus found since 2003 — and the second by this team.
Before waking it up, researchers will have to verify that the bug cannot cause animal or human disease.
To qualify as a “giant,” a virus has to be longer than half a micron, a thousandth of a millimetre (0.00002 of an inch). Mollivirus sibericum — “soft virus from Siberia” — comes in at 0.6 microns, and was found in the permafrost of northeastern Russia. Climate change is warming the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions at more than twice the global average, which means that permafrost is not so permanent any more.
“A few viral particles that are still infectious may be enough, in the presence of a vulnerable host, to revive potentially pathogenic viruses,” one of the lead researchers, Jean-Michel Claverie, told AFP.
The regions in which these giant microbes have been found are coveted for their mineral resources, especially oil, and will become increasingly accessible for industrial exploitation as more of the ice melts away.
“If we are not careful, and we industrialise these areas without putting safeguards in place, we run the risk of one day waking up viruses such as small pox that we thought were eradicated,” he added. — AFP
Before waking up the bug, researchers will have to verify that it cannot cause animal or human disease
3.Hindi makes foray into China through AIR
For the first time, the External Services Division of All India Radio has started broadcasting Hindi lessons in China and Southeast Asia. Broadcast every Sunday, the 20-minutes programme, officials say, is aimed at countering the powerful China Radio International, which broadcasts in over 56 world languages, including Indian languages, right into India and other nations.
The teaching of Hindi in AIR’s Chinese language service started on August 15, in an attempt to project India’s image and point of view to listeners abroad.
The programme, Xue Xi Yindiyu Jie Mu(Learning Hindi programme or Aao Hindi Seekhein) , has a Chinese family learning the language from a teacher of the School of Foreign Languages at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
While officials say these are early days to measure the popularity of the programme, letters have started coming in. Buoyed by the response, the division is planning to conduct Hindi lessons in its Tibetan service, too.
At present, major broadcasters such as the BBC and Deutsche Welle offer language lessons.
The Urdu service of the division, celebrating its 50th year, has continued without interruption.
The External Services Division, which currently broadcasts in 27 languages, is planning to add Dzongkha, which is spoken in Bhutan, says an official. The languages in which AIR reaches its foreign audience are English, French, Russian, Swahili, Arabic, Persian, Tibetan, Chinese, Thai, Burmese and Bahasa Indonesia. The services in Hindi, Bangla, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Gujarat are aimed at overseas Indians, and those in Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Saraiki, Sinhala and Nepali are meant for listeners in the Indian subcontinent and immediate neighbourhood.
In a rather belated move, and to stay relevant in a swiftly developing world, AIR has taken the leap to the multimedia platform, and its services are currently available online.
The Chinese language service of the broadcaster started a language-learning programme on August 15
1.Australian panel gives conditional nod for N-deal
The Australian government says it is “examining” a report by a parliamentary committee that has recommended more safeguards to India’s nuclear programme before the government can approve uranium sales to India. The report was released by the Joint Standing committee on Treaties (JSCOT) that has been studying the Indo-Australian nuclear deal that was signed by Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Narendra Modi in September 2014.
The parliamentary report that has “in principle” approved the nuclear deal, recommended that India be encouraged to sign the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to separate its civilian and military nuclear facilities further, and appoint an “independent national regulator” to oversee the movement of Uranium, also called Australia-Obligated Nuclear Material (AONM).
The recommendations of the treaty committee are not binding on the Abbott government, but could be used by the opposition Green Party to put further obstacles in the way of uranium sales to India.
In response to a question from The Hindu, the Australian High Commission spokesperson said,” Bringing the agreement into force and making it possible for exports to go ahead are priorities for the government.
2.Godavari comes to Krishna
Farmers and elected reps took a celebratory dunking in the water as the Godavari entered, a bit notionally, Krishna district at the village of Pallerlamudi on the way to her tryst with her sister river. The interlinking of the Godavari and the Krishna, a pet project of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, is thus one step closer to reality.
However, the events of the day were a bit notional. With the Pattiseema project still to receive its pumps from China, Irrigation Department officials released about 6000 cusecs of the Godavari’s water stored in the Tadipudi Lift Irrigation Project in West Godavari into the Polavaram Right Main Canal.
The borrowed water flowed 130 km to reach the edge of Krishna district at Pellarlamudi village on Wednesday. Officials said the water will reach the Prakasam barrage on the Krishna river in three to four days via the Budameru and NTTPS canals. However, there is likely to be considerable transmission loss, normal for any irrigation project.
“A 15-20 per cent transmission loss is inevitable,” said a senior official.