In a medical first, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported Wednesday.
The breakthrough operation, performed two years ago in Brazil, shows that such transplants are feasible and could help thousands of women unable to have children due to uterine problems, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal.The baby girl was born in September 2016 in Sao Paolo.
Until recently, the only options available to women with so-called uterine infertility were adoption or the services of a surrogate mother.The first successful childbirth following uterine transplant from a living donor took place in 2013 in Sweden, and there have been 10 others since then.But there are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors, so doctors wanted to find out if the procedure could work using the uterus of a woman who had died.
Ten attempts were made — in the United States, the Czech Republic, and Turkey — before the success reported Wednesday.Infertility affects 10- to 15 per cent of couples.Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus — due, for example, to a malformation, hysterectomy, or infection — that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term.”Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility,” said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo.He describing the procedure as a “medical milestone”.
“The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” he said in a statement.The 32-year-old recipient was born without a uterus as a result of a rare syndrome.Four months before the transplant, she had in-vitro fertilisation resulting in eight fertilised eggs, which were preserved through freezing.The donor was a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke.
Her uterus was removed and transplanted in surgery that lasted more than ten hours.The surgical team had to connect the donor’s uterus with the veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient.To prevent her body from rejecting the new organ, the woman was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments, and aspirin.After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly.
The fertilised eggs were implanted after seven months. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant.Besides a minor kidney infection — treated with antibiotics — during the 32nd week, the pregnancy was normal. After nearly 36 weeks a baby girl weighing 2.5 kilogrammes (about six pounds) was delivered via caesarean section.
Mother and baby left the hospital three days later.The transplanted uterus was removed during the C-section, allowing the woman to stop taking the immunosuppressive drugs.At age seven months and 12 days — when the manuscript reporting the findings was submitted for publication — the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2 kilogrammes.
“We must congratulate the authors,” commented Dr. Srdjan Saso, an honorary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as “extremely exciting”.Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, also welcomed the announcement but sounded a note of caution.”Uterine transplant is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental,” he said.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: beginning of a new era of technology
People have been synthesizing automatons for a long time, but artificial intelligence was first discussed in the 1950s, after Herbert Simon argued that computers could think, based on the ideas of Alan Turing. Subsequently, artificial intelligence became established. The technologies that assist in the handling of knowledge are broadly referred to as artificial intelligence (AI). A broad overview of artificial intelligence and a more detailed view of its two branches – expert systems and neural networks – are given in this chapter.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is concerned with using computers to perform tasks that would be called ‘intelligent’ if people did them. The objectives are two-fold: to improve understanding of human cognition and to improve the potential of the computer as a tool for problem-solving.
According to Holsapple and Whinston (1987), ‘artificial intelligence is the activity of providing such machines as computers with the ability to display behavior that would be regarded as intelligent if it were observed in humans.’
Another definition of artificial intelligence is: ‘A field of study that designs and develops machines capable of performing tasks that would require intelligence if performed by a human being (Rich, 1987).
HISTORY OF AI
The term AI was coined by Jhon McCarthy as the theme of a conference held at Dartmouth College. In the same year, the first AI computer program, called Logic Theorist, was announced. This program encouraged researchers to develop another program, called the General Problem Solver (GPS), that was intended for use in solving problems of all kinds.
For the past 15-20 years, there has been an increasing interest in using the computer for artificial intelligence. The idea is to develop a machine that can reason, learn, understand, recall and explain its behavior, and actions can be viewed as an intelligent machine. However, even today, three to four decades after AI was conceived, the creation of truly intelligent machines is still not quite a reality.
AREAS OF AI
The areas that influence AI and the branches of AI are expert systems, robotics, natural language, learning, computer vision, perceptive systems, AI hardware, and neural networks. These areas are illustrated in the below figure which indicates a certain amount of overlap among the areas. The overlap illustrates the way that one area can benefit others. A brief explanation of various branches of AI is given.
- Expert systems are computer programs that attempt to represent the knowledge of human experts, in the form of heuristics, in a specialized area. An expert system stores the knowledge of an expert in a specific area of studies, such as production engineering and genetic engineering. The system applies various reasoning methods to the information stored in it, in order to solve complex problems that require both knowledge and intuition. Sometimes, the problem-solving capabilities of such systems are as good as, or even better than, those of human experts.
- Perceptive systems use visual images and auditory signals to instruct computers or rather devices, such as robots.
- Computer vision is to endow computers with the ability to recognize and identify objects and the context to which they belong. Vision capabilities enhance the ability of computers to emulate human intelligence.
- Natural language processing enables users to communicate with the computer in foreign languages.
- Learning encompasses all of the activity that enables the computer to or another device to acquire knowledge in addition to what has been entered into the memory by its manufacturer or by programmers.
- AI hardware includes the physical device that aid in AI application.
- Robotics consists of computer-controlled devices that mimic the motor activities of humans.
- Neural networks are highly simplified models of the human nervous system that exhibit abilities such as learning, generalization, and abstraction. These abilities enable the models to learn human-like behavior.
Usage of AI
AI is important because it can help solve immensely difficult issues in various industries, such as entertainment, education, health, commerce, transport, and utilities. AI applications can be grouped into five categories:
- Reasoning: The ability to solve problems through logical deduction. e.g. financial asset management, legal assessment, financial application processing, autonomous weapons systems, games
- Knowledge: The ability to present knowledge about the world. e.g. financial market trading, purchase prediction, fraud prevention, drug creation, medical diagnosis, the media recommendation
- Planning: The ability to set and achieve goals. e.g. inventory management, demand forecasting, predictive maintenance, physical and digital network optimization, navigation, scheduling, logistics
- Communication: The ability to understand spoken and written the language. e.g. real-time translation of spoken and written languages, real-time transcription, intelligent assistants, voice control
- Perception: The ability to infer things about the world via sounds, images, and other sensory inputs. e.g. medical diagnosis, autonomous vehicles, surveillance.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has often been popularly envisaged in super-smart humanoid robot form. In fact, it’s more commonly implemented as behind-the-scenes algorithms that can process ‘big’ data to accomplish a range of relatively mundane tasks far more efficiently than humans can.
Prospects of AI
In the next 10 years, technologies in narrow fields such as speech recognition will continue to improve and will reach human levels. In 10 years AI will be able to communicate with humans in unstructured English using text or voice, navigate (not perfectly) in an unprepared environment and will have some rudimentary common sense (and domain-specific intelligence).
It will recreate some parts of the human (animal) brain in silicon. The feasibility of this is demonstrated by tentative hippocampus experiments in rats. There are two major projects aiming for human brain simulation, CCortex, and IBM Blue Brain.
There will be an increasing number of practical applications based on digitally recreated aspects of human intelligence, such as cognition, perception, rehearsal learning, or learning by repetitive practice. Robots take over everyone’s jobs.
The development of meaningful artificial intelligence will require that machines acquire some variant of human consciousness. Systems that do not possess self-awareness and sentience will at best always be very brittle. Without these uniquely human characteristics, truely useful and powerful assistants will remain a goal to achieve.
Challenges of AI
The foremost factor is blockchain technology (also known as Distributed Ledger Technology) and its potential seismic impact on financial transactions across the globe. Blockchain technology has started sweeping the different areas of transactional finance, such as clearing, settlement, payments. Secondly, although it is still in its infancy, we know that there are many algorithmic trading systems used around the world in different streams of asset management.
Challenges and cope up in Indian context
Indians must upskill in the IT sector to survive and this is increasingly acknowledged. But there are constraints that go beyond an over-emphasis on low-end technical services. While the country is not an entrepreneurial epicenter for artificial intelligence, many of the executives who are a part of the ecosystem of over 170 AI startups point out that they face enormous staffing challenges.
There simply is not enough AI talent in the country as only 4% of AI professionals in India have worked on emerging technologies such as deep learning and neural networks and many companies require candidates to have a Ph.D. in the field, which is even scarcer in India.
According to AI startup founders Subrat Parida and Navneet Gupta, they spend 40% of their time just looking for talented engineers and it is immensely difficult to find people with the right training and experience in AI.
India must address its shortage of engineers with training in machine learning, analytics, and robotics. However, the problems go beyond training. There is a particular mindset that is required as AI is a discovery-oriented and novel field that requires professionals with an appetite for research and experimentation.
Thus, the challenges experienced by Indian startups in AI are related to a deeper problem. But the threat posed by automation and artificial intelligence means that the greatest risk of all is not acting, not investing and not innovating in the technologies of the future.
Although we don’t know the exact future, it is quite evident that interacting with AI will soon become an everyday activity. These interactions will clearly help our society evolve, particularly in regards to automated transportation, cyborgs, handling dangerous duties, solving climate change, friendships and improving the care of our elders. Beyond these six impacts, there are even more ways that AI technology can influence our future and this very fact has professionals across multiple industries extremely excited for the ever-burgeoning future of artificial intelligence.
Chandrayan 2’s successful launch makes 130 crore Indians proud
NASA’s job offering: Rs. 6 lakh/month for staying in bed
NASA has got a new job opening, one that pays very well and only requires you to stay in bed.Yes, we know it sounds too good to be true, but the fact is, the space agency is actually offering Rs. 12 lakh (16,500 euros) for the job.
All you have to do is lie in a bed for 2 months straight.
NASA wants to investigate microgravity’s effect, potential solutions
Prolonged space travel can have side effects on the human body, including problems like muscle and bone breakdown and movement of fluids into the head.
This is why NASA and the European Space Agency are looking for 24 volunteers to investigate these problems and their countermeasures.
These participants will have to stay bed-ridden in a room for 60 days to closely simulate microgravity’s impact
Artificial Intelligence can Help Predict Premature Deaths: Study
Researchers have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system to predict the risk of early deaths due to chronic disease in middle-aged adults.
The study, published by PLOS ONE journal, found that the new AI Machine Learning models known as “random forest” and “deep learning” were very accurate in its predictions and performed better than the current standard approach to prediction developed by human experts.
Such new risk prediction models take into account demographic, biometric, clinical and lifestyle factors for each individual, and assess even their dietary consumption of fruit, vegetables and meat per day, said Stephen Weng, Assistant Professor at the University of Nottingham in Britain.
The traditionally-used “Cox regression” prediction model, based on age and gender, was found to be the least accurate at predicting mortality and also a multivariate Cox model which worked better but tended to over-predict risk.
With Gaganyaan, ISRO’s race to the top gains velocity
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has begun the year 2019 with a bang. Not only has the space agency announced a slew of missions, including the much-awaited lunar lander, Chandrayaan-2, slated for 2019, but has set its sight high with its most ambitious project — the human space mission, Gaganyaan. While announcing the timeline for the human flight targeted at the end of 2021, ISRO chief K Sivan made two important comments. In the context of setting up a new vertical within the agency — the Human Space Flight Centre — he said the agency was looking beyond the first human flight. He said, “We are going to continue this programme in terms of a space station and human to the moon.” The second noteworthy comment from the space agency head was that India would be on a par with China with the human space flight.
Taken together, the comments amount to a marked strategic shift in India’s approach to space and point to the process of maturing of ISRO as a global player in the space arena. Clearly, the agency has recognised the need for human missions as a worthwhile goal to pursue over the long-term as a logical extension of its activities till now. It has also made it apparent that it is joining the undeclared space race with China.
When India took baby steps to become a space faring nation, Yuri Gagarin had already become the first human to have travelled to space in April 1961, and by the time ISRO took birth, the first human had landed on the moon. Since India’s forays into space began against the backdrop of a bitter space race between America and the Soviet Union, the founding father of the space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, had to declare that “we do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned spaceflight”. Instead, he wanted India to use space technology to solve “real problems of man and society”.
After having followed Sarabhai’s vision for four decades during which ISRO contributed immensely to nation’s development, the agency has finally decided to turn the “fantasy” of a manned space flight into reality. This is definitely a shift because after the first Indian, Rakesh Sharma, was propelled into space aboard Soyuz T-11 in April 1984, participation in international manned missions or planning its own human flights were not on ISRO’s agenda. In fact, human flight was first discussed in India in 2004 — a year after China had sent its first human spaceflight. In 2006, ISRO formally discussed the idea with a group of external experts, and began working on some building block technologies needed for the mission as pre-project activity with seed money allocated in subsequent budgets.
India has been building its space capabilities in a step by step manner, working simultaneously on making rockets, fabricating satellites and developing applications. In parallel, it has a very strong presence in space science, having delivered successful missions to the moon, Mars and a space telescope AstroSat. The lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan, and the astronomy satellite have led to some spectacular scientific discoveries using home-made instruments. The Mars Orbiter Mission was a technology demonstrator. On the other hand, China, which began its space programme much later, went ahead more aggressively. It focused on military applications, human flight and building a space station, with an eye on projecting itself as a competitor to NASA. It has few space science achievements worth mentioning. Clearly, the Indian and Chinese programmes have grown so far with different goals and philosophies. In space applications and space science, India is ahead of China. But in human flights, China has taken a lead having demonstrated its prowess with as many as six successful missions, including operations like space walk and docking with its under-construction space station.
ISRO and its leadership are well justified in projecting their ambitions with regard to human flights vis-à-vis China, but these ambitions will need political backing beyond the first human flight planned for December 2021. Though a late entrant in human flights, ISRO may be up to some surprises up its sleeves, as it did with Chandrayaan-1 and the Mars mission. Sniffing signatures of water molecule on the moon by Chandrayaan-1 four decades after man landed there and stringing a spacecraft straight to the Red planet in first attempt are no mean achievements. For ISRO, the race may have has just begun.
ISRO Chairman on space war with China, preparations for Chandrayaan 2 and Gaganayan
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan has said when it comes to India Vs China debate in space sector, India is at par with China. This comes days after China landed Chang’e-4 lunar probe on the dark side of the moon and ahead of India’s Chandrayaan 2 mission which will be launched this year. Speaking to our correspondent Sidhant Sibal, he also spoke on Gaganayaan and ISRO’s focus for 2019.
Q: What will be your focus this year?
K Sivan: Focus this year is mainly on reaching out to children, students and we want them to be more and more aware of ISRO’s programmes. We want to bring students for young scientists programme. Student satellite is being launched-Kalamsat. Along with this outreach programme, we have incubation centres. These are for spreading the wings of ISRO. Along with this, we have priority for Gaganyaan. We have 32 missions to be completed this year.
Q: We are going to launch Chandrayaan 2 this year. Weeks ago, China landed a rover on the dark side of moon. What is the difference?
K Sivan: Chinese have landed on the dark side of the moon. We are going to land on the light side of the moon. Only thing is we are landing where nobody else has gone. Going closer to the south pole, where nobody has gone.
Q: Your reaction to China vs India space debate?
K Sivan: Regarding the tech part, we are on par with them.
Q: How are we helping the South Asian region?
K Sivan: We have one south asia satellite. We are giving one transponder free of cost to each country. Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are making use of these. We are happy to note they are using satellite for the benefit of their country
Q: On Gaganyaan, are we taking help of countries?
K Sivan: On Gaganayan, many countries are ready to help us. France, Russia is ready to help. We will make use of everybody’s expertise to our benefit. Nasa is also willing to extend cooperation. We want to make use of everyone’s help for maximum benefit
Private FM channels to be permitted to broadcast AIR news
Private FM channels will be allowed to broadcast All India Radio news in English and Hindi after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Tuesday launched the facility.
The FM channels will have to carry the AIR news in an unaltered format and the service will be available free of cost on a trial basis till May 31 this year.
Gaganyaan project: Three Indians to spend a week in space, to cost Rs 10,000 crores
The Union Cabinet Friday approved the Gaganyaan project under which a three-member crew will be sent to space for seven days, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.The project will cost Rs 10,000 crore, he said at a press conference here.
The Gaganyaan project was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech.He had said the mission will be undertaken by 2022.India has already inked agreements with Russia and France for assistance in the ambitious project.
The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved the Gaganyaan Programme with demonstration of Indian Human Spaceflight capability to low earth orbit for a mission duration ranging from one orbital period to a maximum of seven days. A human rated GSLV Mk-lll will be used to carry the orbital module which will have necessary provisions for sustaining a 3-member crew for the duration of the mission. The necessary infrastructure for crew training, realization of flight systems and ground infrastructure will be established to support the Gaganyaan Programme. ISRO will collaborate extensively with National agencies, laboratories, academia and industry to accomplish the Gaganyaan Programme objectives.
The total fund requirement for the Gaganyaan Programme is within Rs.10,000 crore and includes cost of technology development, flight hardware realization and essential infrastructure elements. Two unmanned flights and one manned flight will be undertaken as part of Gaganyaan Programme.
Good news: Noida’s Aqua Line gets go ahead from NMRC, seeks inauguration date from govt
A final and mandatory safety inspection report has given the Noida Metro Rail Corporation (NMRC) the approval to launch commercial operations of the Aqua Line, officials said Friday.
With the approval, the NMRC has now written to the Uttar Pradesh government to finalise the date of inauguration of the much-awaited Aqua Line that would run between Sector 71 station in Noida and the Depot Station in Greater Noida, covering 29.7 km through 21 stations.
“The Commissioner of Metro Rail Safety (CMRS) report has been received and it has its sanction for the commercial operations of the metro service. The report also praised the civil and track work of the metro system, NMRC Executive Director P D Upadhyay said.
NMRC’s managing director has written to the state government for finalizing the date of inauguration, said Upadhyay, who was in Lucknow Friday, handed over a letter to Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey.
He also said the fares of the Aqua Line would be decided in the NMRC Board meeting scheduled on December 28.
“Chairman Sanjay K Murthy, the additional secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will chair the meeting, he added.
Earlier, the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) approved the second phase of the Metro link from Noida Sector 71 to Knowledge Park 5 in Greater Noida.
The extension will comprise nine stations and with a project cost of cost Rs 2,602 crores.
This decision was taken at the Authority’s 113th board meeting. “NMRC would be the nodal agency for the project. The first phase of the Metro project comprising five stations from Noida Sector 71 to Greater Noida Sector 2 is expected to cost around Rs 1521 crore, officials said.
The extended line of Noida Metro’s aqua line will have a total of nine metro stations out of which two will be in Noida and seven will be in Greater Noida. The metro stations in Noida include sectors 122 and 123 and the metro stations in Greater Noida include sector 4, Ecotech 12, sectors 2, 3, 10, 12 and Knowledge Park V.
Akhilesh Yadav earlier had given its approval for construction of a 15-km Metro project.
“We have asked builders to contribute fund and generate ideas to lure investment and buyers,” said a senior official of UP government.
“We are adhering to the direction of the government. This project will change the fortune of this belt. We have decided to plan stress-free homes where we will offer facilities for all family members,” said Rahul Gupta, Director of Ace group.
“We believe that this project is crucial as it will benefit thousands of homebuyers who have shifted to the newly built apartment complexes in Greater Noida West and nearby Crossings Republik in Ghaziabad that has 36,000 housing units,” said Geetambar Anand, CMD, ATS.
Greater Noida West has around 3.5 lakh under-construction housing units of which around 40,000 are occupied.
Winter solstice 2018: Here’s everything you need to know about the shortest day of the year
Today is the shortest day of the year, also known as the winter solstice. If you are not aware, Winter solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. This time it is even more special since skywatchers will also have an opportunity to witness a Full moon and meteor shower.
What does solstice mean?
The term ‘solstice’ is derived from two Latin words “sol” which means sun, and “sistere”, meaning standstill. The Sun seems to stand still in the winter sky, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year.
What is Winter Solstice?
To talk about the science behind winter solstice, it marks the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere since the sun is positioned at its most southerly position while directly overheating at the Tropic of Capricorn. On the other hand, the winter solstice also marks the longest day of in the Southern Hemisphere.
Winter Solstice 2018 date and time?
Just like every year, Winter solstice 2018 will also take place on December 21 and the exact timing for the 2018 winter solstice is 22:23 UTC (4:53 pm IST on December 22). As mentioned above, this Winter solstice 2018 is even more special as less than the day after the solstice, we will be able to see the last Full Moon of the year.
- On December 22 at 17:49 UTC, people will be able to see the last full moon of the year. The last full moon of the year is also known as Cold Full Moon, Long Night Moon and Cold Moon around the globe.
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