Lab instruments worth Rs 2 crore gather dust at Barkatullah University

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Barkatullah University woke up to the need of providing important equipment to physics departments after seven years of its purchase. University administration has appointed a three-member committee to understand why equipment worth Rs 2 crore was locked up in a room of physics department by the then head of department.
Surprisingly, neither the department nor the university authorities took pains to unlock the door all these years. Last month, after receiving an anonymous complaint regarding the locked expensive instruments, university administration called former HOD RK Pandey to handover the keys. Pandey refused to come to university.
Later, university authorities sent an individual to collect keys from him. University officials then handed over the keys to head of department professor Sanyal who requested university authorities to open the room when they were present.
“A committee has been asked to provide each and every detail about the instruments kept in the room,” said registrar LS Solanki. Committee will submit its report in next one month. Officials said that they couldn’t be sure about a possible scam until the report as submitted.
Sources said that after Pandey allegedly purchased the instruments against guidelines of University Grants Commission (UGC), he immediately locked it in a room. “Later, he joined a private institute and took away the keys with him,” they said.

Old toilets can be recycled into green cement: Scientists

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The Endoc
Old toilets can be recycled into green cement

Discarded toilets, along with other ceramic waste such as basins, stoneware and bricks can be recycled into an eco-friendly form of cement, scientists say.
The method involves grounding up the ceramic waste and mixing it with an activator solution and water. The resulting mixture is then poured into a mould, and subjected to a high-temperature hardening process.
Researchers conducted tests with items made from red clay brick waste, and found the cement was actually stronger than types that are currently in common use.
They are still evaluating the strength of cement made with other forms of ceramic waste. Currently, researchers are using sodium hydroxide or sodium silicate as the activators. Researchers from Spain’s Universitat Politecnica de Valencia and Universitat Jaume I de Castellon, Imperial College of London, and the Universidade Estadual Paulista of Sao Paulo in Brazil are looking into the possibility of using rice husk ash as an activator. If it could be used, then the result would be a cement made entirely from reclaimed waste materials, researchers said.

New tool predicts which photos will go viral on Facebook

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New tool predicts

Scientists have developed a computer algorithm that predicts whether a photo will go viral on Facebook by watching how fast it is shared.
Stanford researchers said the clues to predicting which of the many millions of photos on Facebook will spring from obscurity and go viral lie in ‘cascades’.
The term ‘cascades’ is used to describe photos or videos being shared multiple times. “It wasn’t clear whether information cascades could be predicted because they happen so rarely,” said Jure Leskovec, assistant professor of computer science.
According to data provided by Facebook scientists in a recent collaboration with university scientists, only 1 in 20 photos posted on the social network gets shared even once. And just 1 in 4,000 gets more than 500 shares – a lot but hardly an epidemic. In a paper to be presented at the International World Wide Web Conference in Seoul, Korea, the researchers will describe how they accurately predicted, 8 out of 10 times, when a photo cascade would double in shares; that is, if a photo got 10 shares, would it get 20? If it got 500, would it reach 1,000, and so on? The team including Leskovec, Stanford doctoral student Justin Cheng, Facebook researchers Lada Adamic and P Alex Dow, and Cornell University computer scientist Jon Kleinberg began by analysing 150,000 Facebook photos, each of which had been
shared at least five times.

The data were stripped of names and identifiers to protect privacy. A preliminary analysis of those photos revealed that, at any given point in a cascade, there was a 50-50 chance that the number of shares would double.
The scientists then looked for variables that might help them predict doubling events more accurately than a coin toss, including the rate and speed at which photos were shared, and the structure of sharing (photos re-posted in multiple networks proved to create stronger cascades).
After factoring several criteria into their analysis the computer scientists were able to accurately predict doubling events almost 80 per cent of the time. Their algorithm became more accurate the more times a photo was shared. For photos shared hundreds of times, their accuracy rate approached 88 per cent.
The speed of sharing was the best predictor of cascade growth. Simply analysing how quickly a cascade unfolded predicted doubling 78 per cent of the time. “Slow, persistent cascades don’t really double in size,” Leskovec said.
How a photo was shared – scientists call this the structure of the cascade – was the next best predictive factor. Photos that spread among different friendship networks or fan groups indicated a breadth of interest.

Satellite launches will revolutionise navigation business: ISRO scientist

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Satellite launches

The successful launch of India’s second navigation satellite using its flagship launch vehicle PSLV could be beneficial not only to the country but to its neighbouring nations as well, said John P. Zachariah, Director, research and development wing of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
On completion, the system would provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, both on the eastern and western sides. That way, this would revolutionise the location finding and visual navigation business across the entire region”, he told media persons here.
The constellation of seven satellites, the launch of which is scheduled for completion in 2015, is due for a trail run from the beginning of 2016 and will begin full-scale operation a couple of months later. “Along with that, there will be a sudden rise in wide-spread use of the application, in turn, leading to the commercial production of receiver equipment”, he said.
Regarding the progress of the GSLV MARC III project, Mr. Zachariah said that an experimental flight of the vehicles was conducted in the last week of June from Sreeharikotta. The vehicle would be carrying a dummy instead of the cryo stage but would have original structural and thermo-structural parts.
The test flight was being conducted to assess whether its structural and thermal protection systems would withstand the re-entry load, and thermo-dynamic heating.
Meanwhile, he also said that the launch of the second Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, which also marked the 25th success in a row for the PSLV, had boosted the image of the launching vehicle in the global arena. “The PSLV is going miles, as evident from the launching orders we are getting from foreign countries, thanks to its quality and dependability”, he said.

Subsurface sea found on Saturn’s moon Enceladus

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Subsurface sea found

This illustration provided by NASA and based on Cassini spacecraft measurements shows the possible interior of Saturn’s moon Enceladus  an icy outer shell and a low density, rocky core with a regional water ocean sandwiched in between the two at southern latitudes. Plumes of water vapor and ice, first detected in 2005, are depicted in the south polar region.
NASA has said the discovery furthers “scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes”.
By studying the gravitational pull exerted by Saturn’s moon Enceladus on the Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found that the moon could harbour a subsurface ocean of liquid water. NASA has said the discovery furthers “scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes”.
On three occasions between 2010 and 2012, Cassini flew by Enceladus within 100 km, twice over the southern and once over the northern hemisphere. During these flybys, Cassini’s orbit was pushed and pulled by the moon’s gravity, indicating an uneven distribution of mass inside the moon.
Though the disturbances were small  0.2-0.3 mm/second  scientists have been able to conclude that there is excessive mass about 30-40 km beneath Enceladus’s south pole, and a deficiency at the surface.
“The perturbations in the spacecraft’s motion can be most simply explained by the moon having an asymmetric internal structure, such that an ice shell overlies liquid water at a depth of around 30-40 km in the southern hemisphere,” said Luciano Iess, lead author of the results.
The scientists also noted that while the gravitational data and Enceladus’ topography does not rule out a global subsurface ocean, it is more likely that there is a regional sea that extends from underneath the south pole to the 50° south latitude.
In 2011, a Jovian moon, Europa, was shown to harbour liquid water under an ice shell that covered the body’s entire surface. NASA has planned a mission to investigate Europa and allocated $15 million earlier this year to develop a mission.
The Cassini robotic spacecraft was launched in 1997 by NASA, European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency at a cost of $3.26 billion to study the Saturnian system.