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Science Wrap: Jeff Bezos's rocket crashes, Zinetac poses cancer risk, NASA makes music out of images

Shaurya Thapa
Shaurya ThapaSep 17, 2022 | 10:00

Science Wrap: Jeff Bezos's rocket crashes, Zinetac poses cancer risk, NASA makes music out of images

This week in science musical space images, new omicron subvariants, Jeff Bezos's ill-fated rocket and antacids pills that might cause cancer (photo-DailyO)

The disastrous launch of Jeff Bezos's unmanned rocket Blue Origin was not the only science news to make headlines this week. Other science updates that you might have missed include the spread of a deadly cattle disease in India, the discovery of a new omicron subvariant in the UK, and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope achieving yet another breakthrough.

1. Blue Origin rocket crashes, capsule parachuted safely

Amazon head honcho Jeff Bezos is one of the several billionaires obssessed with space. So, hopes were high when a rocket of his aerospace company Blue Origin was all set for a vertical takeoff from Texas, US on Monday, September 12. But within a minute of its launch, the rocket crashed even though a capsule carrying experiment material was parachuted to safety. 

A booster failure was the reason behind the mishap, and the New Shepard rockets have been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the time being. What's concerning is that the same rocket model is proposed for Blue Origin's passenger-carrying flights. Bezos himself was part of a New Shepard rocket crew during a trip to space last year. 

2. Omicron subvariant found in the UK 

The UK Health Security Agency recently released details regarding a new subvariant of Omicron that was discovered in the country last month. Referred to as BA 4.6, the research around it is still in the formative stage and scientists are yet to understand the exact source behind the strain. 

From BA 1 to BA 4.6, new omicron subvariants don't even come as a surprise in the post-pandemic world (photo-DailyO)
From BA 1 to BA 4.6, new omicron subvariants don't even come as a surprise in the post-pandemic world (photo-DailyO)

In early August, 3.1% of all samples showed signs of BA 4.6 in the UK. In US, the subvariant has been found in 9% of the cases. As of now, no cases of this subvariant have been reported in India. 

3. Lumpy Skin Disease kills cattle in India, milk production affected

With over 57,000 cattle dead in India, the Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD) has become a major bovine threat. The disease is a viral outbreak caused by a virus from the Poxviridae family, the same viral grouping that includes the monkeypox and cowpox viruses.

Ever since the first case of lumpy skin disease was reported in Gujarat's Kutch region in April this year, the disease has been transmitted through contaminated water and food along with insects like mosquitoes, flies, and lice. Nodules in the skin are the most obvious signs of the disease along with conditions such as anorexia (leaving the cattle severely undernourished), loss of fertility, and even death. Milk collection has been affected heavily in Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Jharkhand. While PM Modi claims that a vaccine for the disease has been developed, the Delhi Government plans on buying 60,000 doses of goat pox vaccine for the same. 

4. NASA aims to convert James Webb Telescope’s images into sound

For the past few weeks, the James Webb Space Telescope has been obtaining high-quality images of planets within the Solar System as well as heavenly bodies from other planetary systems. Now, NASA plans on converting these images into sound. But how does this process work? 

In the first full-colour infrared images obtained by the telescope, a team of musicians assigned specific notes to specific regions depending upon the density. So, if the top half's gas and dust (appearing in bluish hues) has windy sounds, the bottom's orangish red skies have a more melodic soundscape. Brightness is another factor, with brighter areas being louder and the dimmer regions denoted by lower frequencies. The unique composition is available on NASA's YouTube and Soundcloud profiles.

5. Aciditity pills Rantac, Zinetac removed from Essential Medicines List in India

Ranitidine, the pharmaceutical salt sold as Rantac and Zinetac (also known as Zantac in the US) tablets, has been removed from the list of Essential Medicines by the Indian Health Ministry. This decision comes in the light of global concerns with even American health agencies investigating Ranitidine.

For the unacquainted, Ranitidine is usually prescribed for acidity and gastric issues. However, US reflected concerns ever since the drug began showing traces of contamination, particularly due to the organic compound N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA). Even though low levels of NDMA are normally ingested by humans through food and water, the higher levels in Ranitidine might increase risks of cancer. This is why Rantac and Zinetac join the list of 26 medicines that have been removed by the Health Ministry in its revised National List of Essential Medicines.

Last updated: September 17, 2022 | 10:00
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