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Now, a Planet Named Vishyanand

Here’s a question for the nerds... what do Roger Federer, Jesse Owens, Arsene Wenger, Donald Bradman and India’s Viswanathan Anand have in common?

Well, apart from all of them being connected to some sport, they all have minor planets named after them. The former World Chess Champion joined this unique club when a minor planet (4538), located roughly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, was named after him.

The newly-named minor planet, (4538 Vishyanand), was discovered by Kenzo Suzuki of Toyota, Japan, on October 10, 1988.

A staff member of Minor Planet Center, Michael Rudenko, was invited to name the object as it remained unnamed for more than 10 years. “The idea of naming a minor planet for Anand was entirely my own,” Rudenko told the media. “After careful consideration I selected him because in addition to being a great chess player he is also a gentlemen and astronomy enthusiast,” Rudenko said.

Source: The New Indian Express

Saina is World No. 1

Saina Nehwal never fails to surprise. In this cricket-crazy country, this young Hyderabadi has done what no other Indian could. On Saturday afternoon, India cheered at the news that Saina has become the numero uno of world badminton. "I can't believe it...," she said in an interview minutes after her semifinal victory at the India Open here in Delhi, which brought her the World No. 1 crown.

While India hailed the new queen, Saina said her focus was on the final (which she later won). "I want to keep doing well," she said. Focused she may be, but Saina knows what she has achieved is no mean feat. And that too at 25 (Saina celebrated her birthday just before the India Open). "It's a great day for me... It's a big day... It's an awesome day... I am the first woman from India to become World No. 1... Wow!" Saina said excitedly.

A few years ago, after three back-to-back tournaments wins that put her in the World No. 3 slot, she had told us, "I am not perfect, but if I can be World No. 3, I can become World No. 1 as well."

Source: The Times of India

Despite decades of deforestation, the Earth is getting greener

While the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, research published in Nature Climate Change shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.

Despite ongoing deforestation in South America and Southeast Asia, it was found that the decline in these regions has been offset by recovering forests outside the tropics, and new growth in the drier savannas and shrublands of Africa and Australia.

Plants absorb around a quarter of the carbon dioxide that people release into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. With a greening globe, more plants may mean more absorption of carbon dioxide. If so, this will slow but not stop climate change.

Questions remain over how long plants can keep pace with our increasing emissions in a warmer climate.


Biocontrol fungus may aid cancer fight

Scientists from the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) and the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) are preparing to join hands to establish the anti-cancer properties of a rare genus of medicinal fungus that acts as a biocontrol agent against an agricultural pest.

The fungus was first reported from Kerala by T. Santhosh Kumar, Assistant Professor, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pilicode, in 2013 while conducting research on managing the coconut root grub ( Leucopholis coneophora ) attacking trees in Kannur, Kozhikode, and Kasaragod districts. It was later confirmed as a species belonging to the Cordyceps genus also known as caterpillar fungus.

Preliminary studies conducted at the RCC showed that the species is capable of suppressing tumour cells and inhibiting the proliferation of lung cancer (adenocarcinoma) cells.

“We will also explore the possibility of using the species to develop nutraceuticals with immunity-enhancement, anti-aging, and anti-fatigue properties,” KAU Vice Chancellor P. Rajendran said.

Source: The Hindu

Oh irony! Journal pulls down paper on plagiarism because it was plagiarised

The Indian Journal of Dermatology has retracted a paper presenting guidelines to handle plagiarism in the Indian scenario because the author plagiarised it.

A statement posted on the journal’s website said: “The article ‘Development of a guideline to approach plagiarism in Indian scenario’ is being retracted as the manuscript has been found to be copied from the first round questionnaire of the dissertation entitled 'Developing a comprehensive guideline for overcoming and preventing plagiarism at the international level based on expert opinion with the Delphi method' by Dr Mehdi Mokhtari.”

Ironically, the author of the retracted paper, Thorakkal Shamim, a dental surgeon based in Tamil Nadu, had himself been a victim of plagiarism and had urged the scientific community to take a hard line on plagiarism, according to Retraction Watch, a blog that tracks plagiarism in academic papers.

Shamim’s paper in the journal included definitions and strategies to prevent and detect plagiarism.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology, the official publication of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists that was established in 1940, too has taken a tough position on plagiarism in the past and banned at least three groups of authors.

Source: Hindustan Times

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