Big Picture, Uncategorized

ISRO test firing Scramjet Rocket Engine.


The first experimental mission of ISRO’s Scramjet Engine towards realisation of Air Breathing Propulsion System was carried out successfully. It is a new technology which is not available with many countries. India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of scramjet engine. Many countries have tested a Scramjet but no country has mastered a Scramjet.

The development of a supersonic combustion Scramjet Engine is a mile stone for ISRO and India. To give a simple analogy, it is trying to light a candle when there is a super cyclone blowing through. This is what ISRO has done. Lighting the rocket engine when it is travelling six times the speed of sound and to sustain the fire for a sufficient time is a big leap forward. ISRO is continuing its Innovation spree.

How is Scramjet Rocket different from Conventional Rocket

  • Conventional rockets have to carry fuel as well as oxidising agent because no fuel can burn without oxygen and in space there is no oxygen. Scramjet rockets draw oxygen from the air and use a compressor to compress the air, ignite it and burn the fuel.
  • The uniqueness of the Scramjet Engine is that it draws oxygen from the air. Here the compression is done during the movement of the rocket itself. Therefore it moves very fast, 6 times the speed of sound.

ISRO’s scramjet engine launch

  • Scramjet was tested with Rohini Rocket, which is a conventional sounding rocket used regularly for scientific studies.
  • Scramjet was fixed to the second stage, the first being conventional rocket which fell off at 11 kms and then the Scramjet was ignited and started.
  • The test-flight is maiden short duration experimental test of ISRO’s scramjet engine with a hypersonic flight at Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound).
  • Scramjet engines designed by ISRO uses hydrogen as fuel and the oxygen from the atmospheric air as the

Uses of Scramjet Engine

  • Scramjet can be used in Rocket Engine and to make more efficient missiles. In the long run in four to five decades we can have planes powered by Scramjets which would make travel faster and cheaper.
  • Services from space will become cheaper and more people will be able to access space services. Banking industry, television broadcasting, and connectivity is dependent on satellites. Launching cost will come down. It will take a long time to have a full fledged Scramjet rocket.
  • Scramjet and Reusable launch vehicle will be of great use because the launch cost will come down.
  • Essentially the endeavour is to lower the cost of rocket launcher. Carrying oxidiser is an unnecessary weight for the rocket during atmospheric phase if we can use the oxygen around it.

Limitations of Scramjet Rocket Engine

  • Scramjet cannot be used to launch the rocket. We have to use the conventional fuel and oxidiser to launch the rocket. We know that oxygen is available till 50 kms from the ground. Scramjet will be into operation till that distance, beyond that it will not work.
  • It has a limited role. Normally in the first or the second stage is when a Scramjet can be deployed.

Scramjet Engine is different from Cryogenic Engine. Cryogenic Engine functions in the space in near vacuum condition and it provides a specific impulse which is very high.

ISRO says there was the challenge of making the right materials so that at high velocity the engine ignites. Right now it is the mastery of materials which is required for Scramjet.


  • The desire of ISRO is to place the Scramjet below the Reusable Launch Vehicle while launching. This will reduce the launch cost drastically. In Reusable Launch Vehicle 85% of the material cost is saved and by using the oxidiser from the atmosphere would further reduce the cost drastically.
  • The next step is to make it a bigger test flight, make it a prototype, then take it to an experimental flight, and finally to an operational flight. This is a matter of next 20 to 25 years of development and will be an ultra futuristic rocket engine. This is a first step towards realisation of a complex technology and a step in the right direction.
GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

China launches world’s first quantum communications satellite to develop hack-proof tech

China recently launched the first-ever quantum satellite. The satellite is named “Micius“.

  • Many countries are working on quantum communications, including fiber-optic quantum key distribution networks in the United States, Europe, and China. However, China is the first one to launch a satellite to develop the complex technology.
  • The 500 kg satellite contains a quantum key communicator, quantum entanglement emitter, entanglement source, processing unit, and a laser communicator. A rocket named the Long March-2D launched the satellite into space. The launch site was in China’s northwest Gobi Desert.
  • The satellite is built to circle Earth at an altitude of around 310 miles (500 km) and complete one lap every 90 minutes.


Aims of this mission:

  • It is a proof-of-concept mission designed to facilitate quantum optics experiments over long distances to allow the development of quantum encryption and quantum teleportation technology.
  • The satellite’s two-year mission will be to develop ‘hack-proof’ quantum communications, allowing users to send messages securely and at speeds faster than light.
  • The scientific goals are to implement a series of science missions between Quantum Science Satellite and quantum communication ground stations.


The major tasks are as follows:

Quantum Key Distribution from Satellite to Ground: To set up an ultra-long-range quantum channel between ground and satellite with the assistance of high-precision acquisition, tracking and pointing system, implement a quantum key distribution between the satellite and the ground stations, and carry out unconditional secure quantum communication experiments.

Global Scale Quantum Communication Network: To set up a real wide-area network for quantum communication using the satellite repeater and two arbitrary quantum ground stations and their auxiliary local-area fiber quantum networks.

Quantum Entanglement Distribution from Satellite to two ground stations: Distribution of quantum entangled photons from the satellite to two distant ground stations whose distance is larger than one thousand kilometers; test of the entanglement properties at a large scale and nonlocality of quantum mechanics.

Quantum Teleportation from Ground to Satellite: as a totally new way of communication, quantum teleportation is the fundamental process of quantum networks and quantum computing. A high quality quantum entanglement source on the ground will be built to achieve ground-to-satellite teleportation experiments based on photon entanglement.


Significance of this launch:

This is an attempt to develop a hack-proof communications system. During its two-year mission the space object will transmit un-hackable encryption keys from outer space to the Earth’s surface. If the experiment works it could solve the main problem of distributing encryption keys that cannot be stolen. That would result in hack-proof communications.

It will also provide new knowledge about quantum entanglement. That happens when pairs or groups of very tiny particles are made or work together so the quantum state of each particle is part of a whole system.


How the satellite operates?

QUESS will use entangled photons via a special laser to transmit messages to ground stations in China and Austria. In theory such systems are safe from hack attacks. An attempt to intercept an encryption key would cause a change in the photons’ state that could be picked up.

  • The special kind of laser has several curious properties, one of which is known as “the observer effect” – its quantum state cannot be observed without changing it.
  • So, if the satellite were to encode an encryption key in that quantum state, any interception would be obvious. It would also change the key, making it useless.
  • Highly complex attempts to build such a “hack-proof” communications network are based on the scientific principle of entanglement.


What Is Quantum Entanglement?

Quantum entanglement is one of the central principles of quantum physics. In short, quantum entanglement means that multiple particles are linked together in a way such that the measurement of one particle’s quantum state determines the possible quantum states of the other particles.

  • This connection is independent of the location of the particles in space. Even if you separate entangled particles by billions of miles, changing one particle will induce a change in the other. Even though quantum entanglement appears to transmit information instantaneously, it doesn’t actually violate the classical speed of light because there’s no “movement” through space.
  • It is hence difficult to wiretap, intercept or crack the information transmitted through it.


So what exactly is a quantum-enabled satellite?

It contains a laser that transmits a pair of entangled photons – minuscule sub-atomic particles of light – down to two separate base stations.

  • One half of the pair goes to one base station, the other to the second.
  • These photons suffer from something known as the ‘observer effect’, which means that the moment anyone tries to intercept them, their quantum state is immediately changed.

What are the applications?

In the face of ever more powerful hacking and surveillance – which could one day also include powerful quantum computers – the security of commercial communications is also increasingly important. Hence, Quantum computing is largely seen as the next big thing in communications. The technology has applications for precision in everything from healthcare to industrial production.



Cybersecurity has been a major focus in recent years for China. Quantum messaging could become a major defense against hackers and have applications ranging from military and government communications to online shopping.

GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

Cloud technology changing TV ad landscape

The Hindu


  • Geo-targeted advertising.

Geo targeting

  • Geo targeting in geomarketing and internet marketing is the method of determining the geolocation of a website visitor and delivering different content to that visitor based on his or her location, such as country, region/state, city, metro code/zip code, organization, IP address, ISP or other criteria.

Geo targeted advertisements on Television channels

  • Around 25 news and entertainment channels are beaming region-specific ads.
  • With the trend of geo-targeted advertising catching on, more companies are making use of technology to beam adverts to only areas where their products have strong presence.

How do they do it?

  • Normally, local cable operators have decoder boxes for each channel that receive and relay the programmes to households.
  • To enable geo-targeted advertising these boxes are replaced with smart boxes that not only store data but also intelligently identify the spot where the location-specific ad has to replace the nationally telecast one.
  • The trigger for the geo-targeted ad comes from a unique watermark inserted on the video, which gives the cue to the smart box to run the local ad.
  • Watermark is an invisible and inaudible identifier, like a product barcode.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a type of computing that relies on sharing computing resources rather than having local servers or personald evices to handle applications.

Cloud computing is comparable to grid computing, a type of computing where unused processing cycles of all computers in a network are harnesses to solve problems too intensive for any stand-alone machine.

In cloud computing, the word cloud (also phrased as “the cloud”) is used as a metaphor for “the Internet,” so the phrase cloud computing means “a type of Internet-based computing,” where different services — such as servers, storage and applications —are delivered to an organization’s computers and devices through the Internet.

Editorials, GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

Enter the superbug?

Article Link


Researchers have found a person in the United States carrying bacteria resistant to antibiotics of last resort. This has caused alarm among public health and infectious disease experts.

  • The person was carrying coli bearing a new gene, mcr-1, which is resistant to even colistin, the last available antibiotic that works against strains that have acquired protection against all other medication.

What’s the main concern now?

Over the long term, experts are very worried that colistin resistance, which can spread easily to other bacteria, could lead to superbugs that could cause untreatable infections. Also, mcr-1 poses a threat of an entirely different order. In this case a small piece of DNA (plasmid) found outside the chromosome carries a gene responsible for antibiotic resistance. Since the gene is found outside the chromosome, it can spread easily among different types of bacteria, as well as among patients. The mcr-1 gene has been reported in other countries, including the United Kingdom in 2008.


The mcr-1 gene was first identified in China in November 2015, following which there were similar reports from Europe and Canada. The unchecked use of antibiotics in livestock is a major reason for the development of drug resistance. Indeed, given the widespread use of colistin in animals, the connection to the drug-resistant mcr-1 gene appears quite clear.

Also, according to a report, a significantly higher proportion of mcr-1 positive samples was found in animals compared with humans, suggesting that the mcr-1 gene had emerged in animals before spreading to humans. Besides being administered for veterinary purposes, colistin is used in agriculture.

What is a superbug?

A superbug, also called multiresistant, is a bacterium that carries several resistance genes. These are resistant to multiple antibiotics and are able to survive even after exposure to one or more antibiotics.



What causes them to mutate like that?

Like any living organism, bacteria can mutate as they multiply. Also like any living organism, bacteria have a strong evolutionary drive to survive. So, over time, a select few will mutate in particular ways that make them resistant to antibiotics. Then, when antibiotics are introduced, only the bacteria that can resist that treatment can survive to multiply further, proliferating the line of drug-resistant bugs.

Why is Antibiotic Resistance a Big Deal?

The discovery of antibiotics less than a century ago was a turning point in public health that has saved countless lives. Although antibiotic resistance develops naturally with normal bacterial mutation, humans are speeding it up by using antibiotics improperly. According to a research, now, 2 million people a year in the US develop antibiotic-resistant infections, and 23,000 of them die of those infections.

Why is the medical community worried?

Basically, superbugs are becoming more powerful and widespread than ever. Medical experts are afraid that we’re one step away from deadly, untreatable infections, since the mcr-1 E.coli is resistant to that last-resort antibiotic Colistin. Antibiotic-resistance is passed relatively easily from one bacteria to the next, since it is transmitted by way of loose genetic material that most bacteria have in common.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is afraid of a post-antibiotic world, where loads of bacteria are superbugs. Already, infections like tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and pneumonia are becoming harder to treat with typical antibiotics.

What Can We Do?

First step would be to limit antibiotic use. If a patient has a virus, for instance, an antibiotic won’t work, so doctors shouldn’t prescribe antibiotics even if the patient insists. And when patients do need antibiotics, it’s important to make sure they take the full course to kill off every last infection-causing germ. Otherwise the strong survive, mutate, and spread. As a society, curbing antibiotic use in healthy animals used in human food production is another important step.

Recent developments:

According to few recent studies, nanotechnology holds the key to stopping antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the deadly infections they cause. Scientists have developed light-activated nanoparticles — each roughly 20,000 times smaller than the thickness of a single human hair and have shown in lab tests that these “quantum dots” are more than 90% effective at wiping out antibiotic-resistant germs like Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus. With the emergence of this Colistin-resistant E.coli, the medical community is going to be working harder and faster to contain superbugs and develop new treatments for infections.


The global community needs to urgently address the indiscriminate use of antibiotics in an actionable manner, and fast-track research on the next generation of drugs.


Editorials, GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

Fourth Industrial Revolution

CEOs, political leaders, social entrepreneurs, technologists and other global leaders are all at Davos to further the World Economic Forum’s mission of improving the state of the world. But, the big buzz at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this year is about the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

What is Fourth Industrial Revolution?

As described by the founder and executive chairman of WEF, Klaus Schwab, “the fourth industrial revolution is a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work and relate to one another”.


1st industrial revolution: The first Industrial Revolution began in Britain in the last quarter of the 18th century with the mechanisation of the textile industry, harnessing of steam power, and birth of the modern factory.

2nd industrial revolution: The Second Industrial Revolution, from the last third of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of World War I, was powered by developments in electricity, transportation, chemicals, steel, and mass production and consumption. Industrialization spread even further – to Japan after the Meiji Restoration and deep into Russia, which was booming at the outset of World War I. During this era, factories could produce countless numbers of identical products quickly and cheaply.

3rd industrial revolution: The third industrial revolution, beginning c. 1970, was digital — and applied electronics and information technology to processes of production. Mass customisation and additive manufacturing — the so-called ‘3D printing’ — are its key concepts, and its applications, yet to be imagined fully, are quite mind-boggling.

How different will be the 4th industrial revolution?

There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact.

  • The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.
  • Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.
  • The 4th revolution will be characterized by the advent of cyber-physical systems which, while being reliant on the technologies and infrastructure of the third industrial revolution, represent entirely new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even our human bodies. Examples include genome editing, new forms of machine intelligence, and breakthrough approaches to governance that rely on cryptographic methods such as blockchain.
  • Hence, it can be said that the 4th industrial revolution is conceptualised as an upgrade on the third revolution and is marked by a fusion of technologies straddling the physical, digital and biological worlds.

How does mankind benefit from this?

Like the revolutions that preceded it, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life for populations around the world.

  • By gaining access to the digital world, consumers will be benefited in several ways. With the advent of new technology, we get to use more and more efficient products.
  • In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity.
  • Transportation and communication costs will drop, logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish, all of which will open new markets and drive economic growth.

Challenges posed by this revolution:

Economists have pointed out that the 4th revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labor markets.

  • As automation substitutes for labor across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labor.
  • With this revolution, it is also possible that in the future, talent, more than capital, will represent the critical factor of production. This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions.
  • In addition to being a key economic concern, inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators, shareholders, and investors—which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labor.

What will be the impact on the government?

As the physical, digital, and biological worlds continue to converge, new technologies and platforms will increasingly enable citizens to engage with governments, voice their opinions, coordinate their efforts, and even circumvent the supervision of public authorities.

  • Simultaneously, governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure.
  • On the whole, however, governments will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policymaking, as their central role of conducting policy diminishes owing to new sources of competition and the redistribution and decentralization of power that new technologies make possible.
  • Ultimately, the ability of government systems and public authorities to adapt will determine their survival. If they prove capable of embracing a world of disruptive change, subjecting their structures to the levels of transparency and efficiency that will enable them to maintain their competitive edge, they will endure. If they cannot evolve, they will face increasing trouble.

Impacts on national and international security:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will also profoundly impact the nature of national and international security, affecting both the probability and the nature of conflict.

  • The history of warfare and international security is the history of technological innovation, and today is no exception.
  • Modern conflicts involving states are increasingly hybrid in nature, combining traditional battlefield techniques with elements previously associated with nonstate actors.
  • As new technologies such as autonomous or biological weapons become easier to use, individuals and small groups will increasingly join states in being capable of causing mass harm.
  • This new vulnerability will lead to new fears. But at the same time, advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection or greater precision in targeting.

The impact on people:

The Fourth Industrial Revolution will change not only what we do but also who we are. It will affect our identity and all the issues associated with it: our sense of privacy, our notions of ownership, our consumption patterns, the time we devote to work and leisure, and how we develop our careers, cultivate our skills, meet people, and nurture relationships.

  • Also, the revolutions occurring in biotechnology, which are redefining what it means to be human by pushing back the current thresholds of life span, health, cognition, and capabilities, will compel us to redefine our moral and ethical boundaries too.

How can we be prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

  • By providing universal access to affordable education and job training.
  • By continuing to ensure basic protection for workers as the changes take place. Governments have, along with the private sector, an obligation to strengthen these core protections.
  • By modernizing infrastructure. Governments have fundamental responsibilities to build roads, bridges, railways, ports, broadband. And all of this can have profound impact on economic growth, generating well-paying jobs and bringing opportunity to areas where it does not exist.
  • By having a more progressive tax code.
  • By expanding access to capital. Existing capital and the tools that support entrepreneurship should be made widely available to people who haven’t had access to it before.


In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul. But as a complement to the best parts of human nature—creativity, empathy, stewardship—it can also lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny. It is incumbent on us all to make sure the latter prevails. We should thus grasp the opportunity and power we have to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution and direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values.


Editorials, GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

Li-Fi: A green avatar of Wi-Fi

Article Link

Year 2015 has been all about the introduction of new technologies. Li-Fi has been a buzzword for a few years now and took center stage in 2015.

What is Li-Fi?

Li-Fi, or light fidelity, invented by German physicist and professor Harald Haas, is a wireless technology that makes use of visible light in place of radio waves to transmit data at terabits per second speeds—more than 100 times the speed of Wi-Fi.

  • Though it was discovered in the last decade, proofs of concept to test commercial utilization started emerging only in 2015.

How it works?

Li-Fi is a Visible Light Communications (VLC) system. This means that it accommodates a photo-detector to receive light signals and a signal processing element to convert the data into ‘stream-able’ content. Unlike Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves, Li-Fi runs on visible light.

  • Here, data is fed into an LED light bulb (with signal processing technology), it then sends data (embedded in its beam) at rapid speeds to the photo-detector (photodiode).
  • The tiny changes in the rapid dimming of LED bulbs is then converted by the ‘receiver’ into electrical signal.
  • The signal is then converted back into a binary data stream that the user would recognise as web, video and audio applications that run on internet enables devices.

An LED lightbulb is a semi-conductor light source meaning that the constant current of electricity supplied to an LED lightbulb can be dipped and dimmed, up and down at extremely high speeds, without being visible to the human eye.


  • Li-Fi could make a huge impact on the internet of things too, with data transferred at much higher levels with even more devices able to connect to one another.
  • Li-Fi offers great promise to overcome the existing limitations of Wi-Fi by providing for data-heavy communication in short ranges.
  • Due to its shorter range, Li-Fi is more secure than Wi-Fi.
  • Since it does not pollute, it can be called a green technology for device-to-device communication in the Internet of Things (IoT).
  • Li-Fi systems consume less power.

Limitations of Li-Fi:

  • As visual light can’t pass through opaque objects and needs line of sight for communication, its range will remain very restricted to start with. In order to enjoy full connectivity, more capable LED bulbs will need to be placed at various places.
  • Li-Fi requires the lightbulb is on at all times to provide connectivity, meaning that the lights will need to be on during the day.
  • Li-Fi is likely to face interference from external light sources, such as sunlight and bulbs, and obstructions in the path of transmission, and hence may cause interruptions in communication.
  • Also, initially, there will be high installation costs of visual light communication systems as an add-on to lighting systems.


  • The main challenge is to create a Li-Fi ecosystem, which will need the conversion of existing smartphones into Li-Fi enabled ones by the use of a converter/adapter.
  • Also, an integrated chip that has both light-to-electrical conversion and data-processing capability (Wi-Fi/Bluetooth) combined into one needs to be developed and manufactured in the millions.
  • lifi

Potential applications:

  • Li-Fi can be used in street and traffic lights. Traffic lights can communicate to the vehicles and with each other. Through the use of Li-Fi, traffic control can be made intelligent and real-time adaptable. And each traffic and street light post can be converted into access points to convert roadsides into wireless hot spots.
  • Vehicles having LED-based headlights and tail lamps can communicate with each other and prevent accidents by exchanging information.
  • Visible light being safer, they can also be used in places where radio waves can’t be used such as petrochemical and nuclear plants and hospitals.
  • They can also be used in aircraft, where most of the control communication is performed through radio waves.
  • Li-Fi can also easily work underwater, where Wi-Fi fails completely, thereby throwing open endless opportunities for military and navigational operations.
  • Also, it presents another unique possibility: transmitting power wirelessly, wherein the smartphone will not only receive data through Li-Fi, but will also receive power to charge itself.

Challenges and opportunity in India:

The lack of ubiquitous broadband access, which thereby restricts data access, and chaotic traffic management leading to traffic jams and pollution are just two of the many problems in India. Li-Fi has scope to help with both.

  • By converting traffic lights into LED-based access points, traffic management can be made intelligent, adaptive and real-time—and so, more efficient and effective.
  • In the same way, street lights can also be converted into Li-Fi access points, making them broadband access transmitters to mobile Li-Fi enabled smartphones, converting areas into seamless hot spots.


If Li-Fi can be put into practical use, every LED lamp (indoor as well as outdoor) can be converted into something like a hot spot to transmit data to every mobile device to achieve universal broadband communication between devices.

GS-3, Science & Tech, Uncategorized

What is the Internet of Things?

Definition: A world where physical objects are seamlessly integrated into the information network, and where the physical objects can become active participants in business processes. Services are available to interact with these ‘smart objects’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

Internet of Things is an environment of smart small hosting devices (because they get attached with any device and make them smart device) which are Always, Anywhere and Anytime (3As of IoT) connected with each other and sending some data or information which can further be processed over cloud to generate meaningful analytic result that can help a lot or to trigger an automatic action according to the analysis. These small devices are called the “THING” of Internet of Things and this environment comprises of 3 ingredients called Device, Network and Application also known as DNA of Internet of Thing.

To become a “THING” of Internet of thing anything should qualify following criteria

  1. It should send some sensory data like pressure temperature humidity
  2. It should have unique identification so that it will get identify while communicating
  3. it should communicate with similar itself and internet gateway as well like WiFi


Editorials, GS-1, GS-2, Social Issue, Uncategorized

Neuroscience and the Juvenile Legislation

Article Link

The Rajya Sabha, last week, cleared the Juvenile Justice (Amendment) Bill that allows juveniles between ages 16 and 18 years who are charged with heinous offences to be tried as adults. The popular outcry to reduce the age of criminal responsibility to 16 years had become louder post the ‘Nirbhaya’ case. Noticeably,Neuroscience was absent from this debate. Hence, many scientists, especially neurologists, have not welcomed the decision.

What is Neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behavior and cognitive functions. Not only is neuroscience concerned with the normal functioning of the nervous system, but also what happens to the nervous system when people have neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Neuroscience and Criminal Justice:

Globally, juvenile justice policies are increasingly informed by developments in brain science that probe questions of culpability and blameworthiness of adolescent offenders.

  • According to neurologists, “Capacities relevant to criminal responsibility are still developing when a person is 16 or 17 years old.” Further, neuro-scientific developments in the past decade prove that brain development continues till the person is well into his twenties.
  • A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) also reveals that brain maturation peaks around the age of 25.
  • But, as per India’s Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000, the age of understanding is fixed at 18 years. And so, legally, any individual beyond that age could be held fully responsible for his actions.

Why neurologists are against the recent Juvenile Bill?

According to them, “Part of the brain that is helping organisation, planning and strategising is still underdeveloped at the age 16.” Hence, they argue, it’s sort of unfair to expect adolescents to have adult levels of organisational skills or decision-making before their brain is finished being built.

  • According to available neuro-scientific data, the frontal lobe, especially the prefrontal cortex, is among the last parts of the brain to fully mature. The frontal lobes are responsible for impulse control, in charge of decision-making, judgment and emotions — and therefore crucial when fixing “culpability” in the case of juvenile delinquency.
  • Recent studies have also concluded that teenagers tend to be impulsive and prone to mood swings because the limbic system — which processes emotions — is still developing.
  • According to experts, adolescents get involved in risk-seeking behaviour without thinking of long-term consequences, which leads them to actually overstate rewards without fully evaluating the risks. This is because the level of dopamine production changes during adolescence. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter — a chemical produced by the brain that helps link actions to rewards and/or punishments.
  • Moreover, there is no valid, magic age which can work as a marker to define individuals as juveniles or adults. Neuroscience has shown that the brain continues to develop well into the third decade of life. The 18 years cut-off is in itself an arbitrary number. And lowering this age further does not have its basis in current science.

Hence, according to them, allowing juveniles between ages 16 and 18 years who are charged with heinous offences to be tried as adults is a bad idea and has no scientific backing.

Socio-Economic Profile of Juveniles:

Many reports have revealed that a significant proportion of juveniles committing crimes in India come from economically and socially deprived backgrounds. More than 50% of the total juveniles apprehended has either not gone to school at all, or have dropped out after primary level; and more than 75% of them belong to families with an annual income less than Rs.50000.

Some studies show that such backgrounds increase the stress level in the juveniles.

What happens if the stress level is increased?

Under conditions of chronic and severe stress, the prefrontal cortex can shrink by up to 40% resulting in brain cells in this area losing their capacity to process information properly. The hippocampus, which is crucial for forming memories of daily facts and events, is also damaged in a similar fashion.

  • Thus, the parts of the brain that is crucial for processing information about specific events, and making careful decisions based on them are severely compromised.
  • On the other hand, the same stress pushes the amygdala, the emotional hub of the brain that is involved in fear, anxiety and aggression, in the opposite direction by making its neurons grow bigger and stronger. MRI imaging also shows that similar changes take place in the brains of individuals suffering from stress disorders.
  • This means that a stressed and damaged brain may lose its ability to control impulsive and risk-seeking behaviour because of a lack of balance between the prefrontal cortex and brain areas it is supposed to control. The ability to remember and reason is also curtailed.

Can Juveniles in conflict with the law be reformed?

Juveniles in conflict with the law are more capable of change given the fact that their brains are still learning. Honest efforts made towards rehabilitation — including visits by a mental health professional three-four times a month — will have a significant positive impact on them.

What needs to be done?

  • Regular psychiatric screening in prisons.
  • Complete rehabilitation. Rehabilitation is a well-defined scientific process. The idea is to help the convict gain back his original psychological, physical and social capacity which is impaired as a result of the crime committed.


Juveniles are more susceptible to negative influences and peer pressure, are less likely to focus on future outcomes, are less risk-averse than adults, have poor impulse control, and evaluate risks and benefits differently all of which pre-dispose them to make poor decisions. The very age factor that makes them susceptible for negative influences makes their possibility for reforms as well. It is an often quoted argument that the children of present has access to information of all sorts, and know the consequences of their actions. However, what is to be noted is that information is no proof of maturity. Similarly, the brutality of a juvenile is no indicator that they cannot be reformed as responsible citizens of the nation.

Environment, GS-3, Uncategorized

Diesel vs Petrol as a pollutant


So, why is diesel the fuel of choice for bigger vehicles? Apart from the fact that it is cheaper than petrol in India, the diesel engine is more efficient. The diesel combustion cycle yields a leaner fuel-air mixture to operate at optimal efficiency as compared to petrol engines. Measured by volume, diesel is more energy-dense than petrol. The combustion cycle itself works best at leaner mixtures, and diesels deliver a torque curve that works better for bigger cars and trucks as compared to petrol.

Plus, most diesels are equipped with a turbocharger, which offers a sharp surge in power delivery after a certain RPM, a feature that is popular with customers of bigger cars and SUVs. Modern diesels also emit lesser carbon dioxide than petrols, something that has been instrumental in the spread of diesels in markets such as Europe.

Diesel engines also emit higher levels of nitrogen oxides, and over seven times more particulates as compared to petrol engines — pollutants that cause respiratory ailments.

The big reason for the higher efficiency of diesel engines boils down to the engineering design. While both petrol and diesel engines work by internal combustion, they do so in slightly different ways.

In a petrol engine, fuel and air is injected into small metal cylinders, and then a piston compresses the mixture, making it explosive. A small electric spark from a sparking plug sets fire to it, which makes the mixture explode, generating thrust. This then pushes the piston down the cylinder, and through the crankshaft, turns the wheels.

In pure design terms, diesel engines are simpler. First, air is let into the cylinder and the piston compresses it, but in this case, much more than in a petrol engine. While in a petrol engine, the fuel-air mixture is compressed to about a tenth of its original volume, in a diesel engine, the air is compressed by anything between 15 and 25 times. Compressing a gas generates heat, and once the air is compressed, a mist of fuel is sprayed into the cylinder by an electronic fuel-injection system, which works a bit like an aerosol spray. The air is so hot that the fuel instantly ignites and explodes — without the need for a spark plug. This controlled explosion pushes the piston back out of the cylinder, producing the power that drives the vehicle.

Diesel engines tend to be up to twice as efficient as petrol engines. The reasons for this include the lack of a spark-plug ignition system. As a result, the fuel is compressed much more, which makes it burn more completely in combination with the air in the cylinder, thereby releasing more power.

Also, in a petrol engine that is working at less than full power, more fuel (less air) needs to be suppled to the cylinder to keep it running, while diesel engines actually consume less fuel when they are working at lower power. This lowers fuel usage while idling.

Plus, measured by volume, diesel fuel is more energy-dense than petrol, and thereby offers more energy per litre than petrol. Diesel — which is a lower-grade, less-refined product of petroleum made from heavier hydrocarbons — is also a better lubricant than petrol, with the result being that a diesel engine runs with less friction, thereby generating better efficiency.

Diesels are also noisy, and they produce a lot of unburnt soot particles and nitrogen oxides. However, since diesel engines are more efficient, they typically use less fuel and thereby produce lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Flashing Red-  Diesel exhaust contains particulate matter and gases including benzene and nitrogen dioxide, which are agents of serious disease.

Possible Effects –

  1. Lung cancer, even for non-smokers; damage to lungs, possibly brain damage
  2.  Exacerbated allergies, asthma; shortness of breath; eye irritation; nausea
  3. Stress responses in brain; cellular damage linked to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

Thank You!