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An electronic nose to ‘sniff out’ notorious gases

India is no stranger to air pollution, with the capital, New Delhi, being identified as one of the most polluted cities in the world, several times. The harmful effects of this deteriorating air quality can be seen in the increasing number of patients with respiratory disorders. Now, a team of scientists have designed a novel gas sensor using MEMS technology that is compact, highly sensitive, consumes very little power and accurately detects gaseous pollutants like CO, CO2, NO2 & SO2.

How do TB bacteria develop resistance to common antibiotics? A new study at IISc attempts to answer this

A new study at IISc looks to uncover the secret behind the development of drug resistance in TB causing bacteria by testing the efficacy of various commonly available antibiotics. The researchers have found that a combination of commonly available antibiotics along with Augmentin, fights the development of resistance among TB bacteria. This study might throw light on developing new class of drugs that can help contain the spread of deadly tuberculosis, claim the researchers.

Scientists design Nano-carrier based treatment against Salmonella infections

Foodborne diseases, caused by Salmonella, are responsible for 1 in 10 illnesses globally. Treating Salmonella infections using traditional antibiotics is turning to be a challenge because of the development of drug resistant strains. Now, a new study at IISc has developed nanotechnology based nanocarries using silica that can deliver very small dosage of antibiotics to the affected cells, thus hitting the right target. Using laboratory experiments, the researchers found that these nanocarries performed much better than conventional antibiotics in all stages of the infection. The design of these nanocarries are generic, and can be used for delivering different antibiotics, they claim.

“Trapping” RBCs to throw light on Malaria

Malaria, a deadly mosquito borne disease, kills about half a million people around the world, every year. Developing countries face a challenge in accurately diagnosing malaria in early stages due to the need of sophisticated diagnostic devices and skill. A new study at IISc has developed a technique to test for malaria with very small quantities of blood samples using laser light. By holding a single RBC using a pair of 'optical tweezers', this technique can detect malarial parasites in the RBCs even at an early stage, say the researchers. The researchers claim this technique can help save many lives if commercialised on a larger scale. 

Could human interference be affecting a lizard’s signalling and escape behaviour?

Our lifestyles influence our behaviour in a big way -- or so we think. But did you know our activities have a major influence on other creatures living around us? In an interesting study, scientists have uncovered how urbanization has influenced the courtship behaviour among south Indian rock agamas and their escape strategies. The study found that these agamas use change of colour of their body as communication signal during courtship and aggression and human activities and urbanization have a great influence in the everyday lives of these lizards.

The Second Nose: Scientists decipher the unique egg-laying strategy of parasitic wasps

Figs and wasps have a give and take relationship where figs need wasps to pollinate while wasps lay their eggs inside the fig fruits. However, not all fig-wasp relationships are this cordial. There are a set of parasitic wasps that cause more harm to the fig plant than good! A new study has uncovered some of the fascinating abilities of such wasps, especially their ability to sense smell. Ovipositors, specialized organs developed to lay eggs in wasps, have been found to act as a ‘nose’ in sniffing out the best position to lay their eggs, say the researchers. These organs can also detect many chemicals, potentially inspiring new kind of sensors, they claim.

Yoga - The science of holistic living

Yoga is considered to be India’s gift of goodness and health to the world. With millions of people around the world having benefitted by regular practice, yoga indeed has changed several lives for the good. On this International Day of Yoga, here is all you need to know about the history, the scientific basis for Yoga and some of the benefits realised by those who practice Yoga regularly. 

Counting the crowd – Scientists design a new technique to aid crowd control

Technology has provided the best solutions for many of our problems. One such day-to-day problem faced by civic authorities is estimating the number of people in a crowd or a gathering so that they can manage the crowd better without any incidents. A new study by researchers has proposed a novel  crowd counting technique using the concepts of neural networks. This algorithm, the researchers claim, can count crowds that swell in a short period or those that have varying number of people spread out.  

Hitchhiking Parasites: A Cautionary Tale

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Migration of birds is a fascinating story. Many birds across the world travel to different locations in search of food and a warm place to breed. A new study has now found a dark side of the fascinating tale of migration -- the risk of spread of diseases. The researchers have studied two species of migratory birds and have identified the presence of two strains of parasites in them that could potentially spread the disease to the local bird population, which do not have the required immunity to fight against them. The researchers warn that their finding could put the entire local bird population at the risk of contracting the diseases.

The rise of IT service clusters in India: Growth by replication rather than innovation?

India’s Information and Technology industry has served as a great success story for the outsourcing model. However, in order to sustain the growing competition and provide increasing value proposition, the industry must innovate and carve a niche for domestic talent too. In the recent past, the rise of IT clusters - geographical aggregation of related companies in IT -- have emerged as a ray of hope that not only provides jobs, but also enhances the value proposition, thanks to the ample talent pool. A new study has now identified factors that have led to the growth of these IT clusters in the metropolitan cities of India and the model followed by these clusters to spread to other cities.

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