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The best of Indian science

If you are in Goa now, you have a chance to see more than the sandy beaches and tropical sun. You can experience a bit of science at the unique exhibition 'Ek Pradarshini 2018'. It is a creative collection showcasing the best of Indian science. The elegantly caricatured portraits, as distinguished as those portrayed, are on display at the Kala Academy, as a part of the Nobel Prize exhibition. The exhibition, which was a part of the Nobel Prize Series, is on until the February 28. Organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, the exhibition is an attempt to celebrate India's scientists.

The exhibition features the 28 scientists, whose works have impacted our lives. While names like Sir C V Raman or J C Bose may be familiar to many, the exhibition strives to bring the hidden gems like Anna Mani and Sambhu Nath Dey to the front. The scientists showcased in the exhibition have varied areas of study ranging from biology to nuclear science. With their passion for science, it is of
little wonder that their contributions have made a meaningful impact on society.

Preservative can turn harmful

Scientists from India have been studying the properties and behaviour of Methylparaben (MP), a commonly used preservative, under various circumstances. Although it is considered as safe and easily biodegradable, there have been concerns over the safety of concentration of the molecule, especially when used in cosmetic and food products.

In their new study, the scientists wanted to learn about the effects of UV light on MP as well as the effects of MP exposed to UV light, called photosensitised MP, on human cells. The study has revealed that MP not just loses its preservative properties but also turns harmful for human cells, when exposed to ambient UVB light.

The Immortalists

Is there such a thing as a cure for ageing? A pair of medical researchers,  Dr Bill Andrews and Aubrey de Grey, are betting there is, and they've dedicated their lives to finding it. The documentary, The Immortalists, follows their efforts as they work to unlock the secret to never-ending life. If such a goal were to be reached, the societal impact could potentially prove catastrophic. Yet, they remain undaunted and sincere in their ongoing quest to alter the longevity of the human race. The Immortalists, which is directed by Jason Sussberg and David Alvarado, thrills with a love of big thinking of the scientists who share a commitment to achieving the impossible. To watch the documentary, visit www.bit.ly/2sshSem.

Electronic skin that heals

Researchers from University of Colorado Boulder, USA, have developed a new type of malleable, self-healing and fully recyclable 'electronic skin' that has applications ranging from robotics and prosthetic development to better biomedical devices. Electronic skin, known as e-skin, is a thin, translucent material that can mimic the function and mechanical properties of human skin. A number of different types and sizes of wearable e-skins are now being developed in labs around the world as researchers recognise their value in diverse medical, scientific and engineering fields.

The new e-skin has sensors embedded to measure pressure, temperature, humidity and air flow, said Jianliang Xiao, the assistant professor leading the research effort. It has several distinctive properties, including a novel type of covalently bonded dynamic network polymer, known as polyimine that has been laced with silver nanoparticles to provide better mechanical strength, chemical stability and electrical conductivity. "What is unique here is that the chemical bonding of polyimine we use allows the e-skin to be both self-healing and fully recyclable at room temperature," said Jianliang. The results were published in Science Advances.

Light and fast moving objects

By hitting electrons with an ultra-intense laser, researchers have revealed dynamics that go beyond 'classical' physics and hint at quantum effects. Whenever light hits an object, some of the light scatters back from the surface of the object. However, if the object is moving extremely fast, and if the light is intense, strange things can happen. Electrons, for example, can be shaken so violently that they slow down because they radiate so much energy. Physicists call this process 'radiation reaction'. This radiation reaction is thought to occur around objects like black holes. Being able to measure radiation reaction in the lab will provide insights into processes that occur in some of the most extreme environments in the universe. The study was published in Physical Review X.

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