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Noida school students design Mars settlement story

Supported by NASA, this is a prestigious, 22-year-old contest meant for high school students across the globe, that sets them a challenge which they must solve in conditions very like that in the actual aerospace industry.

Fifty, say, a hundred years from now, when the planet Earth is inhabitable or overcrowded or both, and we decide to live in settlements on Mars, we could be living inside an air-locked transparent dome located inside a crater on the Red Planet to keep out the dust and radiation. Inside, there would be gardens, apartment complexes, tram systems and quad cars for trans – and even a personal assistant called Alex to take your the garbage and do the laundry.This is the vision of a group of 12 class XII students of Amity International School in Noida, that has just won them the top honours at the prestigious International Space Settlement Design Competition (ISSDC). This is the first time an Indian team has won the contest, although a number of teams participate each year and even go as far as the finals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Supported by NASA, this is a prestigious, 22-year-old contest meant for high school students across the globe, that sets them a challenge which they must solve in conditions very like that in the actual aerospace industry.This year, the challenge for the students was to design a space colony in Mars that could house over 10,000 people. At the finals, which were held at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida earlier this week, the Indian students went much further. Their settlement, named Argonom, could accommodate as many as 24,000 people and a transient population of another 3,000.Grishma Purewal, the only girl on the team, says: “We had only 41 hours in which to come up with our design, which had to be 40 pages long. It was so rushed we got only a couple of hours of sleep.” Purewal worked on “business development and scheduling and costing”, a key aspect of the design the students had to consider as a Mars settlement needed to be financially viable. As per Purewal’s calculations, the actual construction phase would take 12 to 13 years and cost around $1,226 billion!”We divided the project into several core functions – structural engineering, automation engineering, operations engineering, human engineering. Each of us in a particular function then looked up the Net, searching for papers written by scientists working in the area to think of solutions,” says Chittaranjan Prasad, one of the team members. “The Amity management was also very proactive and the students had access to the aerospace department at Amity University, met Bharat Ratna Dr CNR Rao, ex-ISRO chief Madhavan Nair and K Krishnakumar of NASA for advice,” says Smita Fangaria, their physics teacher who guided the students on the project.The result, especially the attention to detail, is astounding – from waste and water recycling, power generation, security and communication systems, the Amity students’ design even makes provisions for emergencies such as fire, computer malfunction, the design of apartments and spacesuits – one for work and another for leisure activities, temperature regulation (using ammonia pipes for cooling) and maintaining the right air quality for life by planting bacteria on the Martian soil.”It was fun,” says Rishab Srivastava, a team-member whose ambition is to study physics at IIT. “The teachers were very generous and allowed us leave from unit tests and other deadlines. Now the pressure will begin.”

Dr Subhash Chandra talks about why we find more advertisements than news in our newspapers

In this week’s episode, Dr Subhash Chandra talks about why the audience is exposed to more advertisements than actual news and the competition in providing better news.
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dna Research & Archives
In this week’s episode, Dr Subhash Chandra takes the discussion on ‘paid news’ further by talking about advertisements and how the choice of reading or watching news lies with the audience. As students sitting at the session raise questions on why a newspaper reader has to go through three pages of advertisements to reach the main page, he says that newspapers are still the cheapest medium of news in India compared to any other country.”In print media particularly, the power lies in few hands, and they don’t want competition so they have naturally kept the cover price of the newspaper very low,” he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dr Subash Chandra assures the students that although there may be various platforms giving news, this increases the competition for each organization to spread better quality information. And so, “news is not different.” Watch the full episode here:The Dr Subhash Chandra airs on Saturday at 10 pm on Zee News and 7pm on Zee Business and with a repeat telecast on Sundays at 11 am on both Zee News and Zee Business. The show will also be aired on other channels of Zee Media.

Modi government announces criteria for selection of Smart Cities

Given the challenges involved in developing the proposed 100 smart cities, only the capable cities will be chosen under the programme through a two-stage competition.

Given the challenges involved in developing the proposed 100 smart cities, only the capable cities will be chosen under the programme through a two-stage competition.This was indicated in the Operation Guidelines for Smart Cities Mission released by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while launching the Mission on Thursday.The selection criteria to be used in both the stages of competition was elaborated in the guidelines.In the stage-1 of ‘City Challenge Competition’, each state and Union Territory will score all their cities based on a set of criteria and nominate the top scorers as per the indicated number of potential smart cities for participation in the stage-2 of competition.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to a senior Urban Development official, the evaluation criteria for stage-1 of competition within the state/UT involves points system, such as existing service levels (25 points), institutional systems and capacities (15 points), self-financing (30 points) and past track record (30 points).Existing service levels includes increase in service levels over Census 2011, an operational Online Grievance Redressal System, publication of at least first monthly e-newsletter and online publication of municipal budget expenditure details for the last two financial years on website.Institutional systems and capacities covers imposition of penalties for delays in service delivery and improvement in internal resource generation over the last three years.Self-financing would be reflected in payment of salaries by urban local bodies up to last month, auditing of accounts up to FY 2012-13, contribution of internal revenues to the Budget for 2014-15 and percentage of establishment and maintenance cost of water supply met through user charges during 2014-15.Past track record is percentage of JNNURM projects completed which were sanctioned till 2012, percentage of city level reforms achieved under JNNURM and extent of capital expenditure met from internal resources.The 100 potential smart cities nominated by all the states and UTs based on stage-1 criteria will prepare ‘Smart City Plans’ which will be rigorously evaluated in the stage-2 of the competition for prioritising cities for financing.In the first round of this stage, 20 top scorers will be chosen for financing during this financial year. The remaining would be asked to make up the deficiencies identified by the Apex Committee in the Ministry of Urban Development for participation in the next two rounds of competition. 40 cities each will be selected for financing during the next rounds of competition.

Ministers barred from appointing heads of autonomous bodies

Appointment of chief executives of autonomous bodies, including that of various commissions working under different ministries, will no more be done by ministers, according to an office memorandum accessed by dna.The office memorandum issued by the department of personnel and training under the prime minister has reminded all ministries and departments that appointment of heads of all such bodies will be done by the two-member appointments committee of cabinet that includes the prime minister and home minister Raj Nath Singh. Though ministers were divested of such powers way back in 2006, they continued to appoint or recommend their favourites to head these organisations which, in many cases, are considered lucrative postings.The ministers have been reminded that they can have say only in cases where additional charge of the posts are assigned for a maximum period of one year with effect the date of occurrence of the vacancy, but other than that of chief executives.Nearly 300 autonomous institutions such as National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, National Thermal Power Corporation, Central Institute of Indian Languages and 97 commissions including Atomic Energy Commission, Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, Competition Commission of India and others are working under the operational control of different central ministries.In case of additional charge arrangement for heads of organisations, the ministers have been asked to proceed in accordance with the procedures which include seeking approval of ACC for anticipated vacancies. In case of unanticipated vacancies arising out of death, resignation etc, the minister-in-charge can assign the additional charge for the initial six months, provided the officer to whom the change is to be assigned is the senior most and clear from the vigilance angle. “The minister in such cases shall ensure that the additional charge is assigned to an officer in the same station, as far as possible, in which the post has fallen vacant,” the order states. It has been observed that in many cases, ministers while making such appointments transfer these officials to work in their secretariat either in office or at their homes. That means while working for the minister’s personal staff, they draw salaries form these autonomous organisations.Even in such cases, where ministers have been given powers to assign additional charge in unanticipated vacancies, they have been directed that in case the officer is holding a post two or more scales below the pay scale of the vacant post, the department or the ministry is required to obtain the approval of the ACC, even for the initial six months of additional charge arrangement. For the extension of charge beyond six months as well, the approval of ACC has been made mandatory.Earlier soon after coming to power prime minister Narendra Modi’s office had put on hold the appointments of private secretaries to ministers. He had also directed the ministers not to appoint private secretaries who had worked under the preveious UPA Government ministers. There is an iron ring around cabinet ministers to keep tabs on them through private secretaries and the ministers of state to make them accountable.