April 2015

ABBREVIATIONS
GIFT: Gujarat International Finance Tec-City.
NFC: Near Field Communication.

AWARDS
Laureus Sportsperson of the Year 2015
Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Ethiopian athlete Genzebe Dibaba were named the Laureus Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, respectively. The ceremony also saw the induction of Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar into the Laureus Academy.

Djokovic bagged the prestigious title ahead of world number one golfer Rory McIlroy, Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, reigning Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, MotoGP sensation Marc Marquez and French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie. He had also won the award in 2012.

Dibaba, who broke three world records in three different events of track and field in two weeks, staved off a fierce challenge from Valerie Adams (NZ), Marit Bjorgen (Norway), Tina Maze (Slovenia), Li Na (China) and Serena Williams (USA) to win the most coveted award.

Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability: Tatyana McFadden
Action Sportsperson of the Year: Alan Eustace
Spirit of Sport Award: Yao Ming
Exceptional Achievement: Li Na
Breakthrough of the Year: Daniel Ricciardo
Team of the Year: Germany national football team
Comeback of the Year: Schalk Burger
Sport for Good Award: Skateistan (an international non-governmental organization that works with youth from a range of ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds to build trust and to provide empowerment through a combination of skateboarding and educational activities)

The Laureus World Sports Awards is an annual award ceremony honouring remarkable individuals from the world of sports along with the greatest sporting achievements throughout the year. It was established in 1999 by founding patrons Daimler and Richemont and is supported by its global partners Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen. The first gala was held on 25 May 2000, in Monte Carlo.

Pulitzer Prizes, 2015
PUBLIC SERVICE – The Post and Courier, Charleston, SC
BREAKING NEWS REPORTING – The Seattle Times Staff
INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING – Two Prizes: – Eric Lipton of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Staff
EXPLANATORY REPORTING – Zachary R. Mider of Bloomberg News
LOCAL REPORTING – Rob Kuznia, Rebecca Kimitch and Frank Suraci of the Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA
NATIONAL REPORTING – Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post
INTERNATIONAL REPORTING – The New York Times Staff
FEATURE WRITING – Diana Marcum of the Los Angeles Times
COMMENTARY – Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle
CRITICISM – Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times
EDITORIAL WRITING – Kathleen Kingsbury of The Boston Globe
EDITORIAL CARTOONING – Adam Zyglis of The Buffalo News
BREAKING NEWS PHOTOGRAPHY – St. Louis Post-Dispatch Photography Staff
FEATURE PHOTOGRAPHY – Daniel Berehulak , freelance photographer, The New York Times
FICTION – “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (Scribner)
DRAMA – “Between Riverside and Crazy” by Stephen Adly Guirgis
HISTORY – “Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People” by Elizabeth A. Fenn (Hill and Wang)
BIOGRAPHY – “The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe” by David I. Kertzer (Random House)
POETRY – “Digest” by Gregory Pardlo (Four Way Books)
GENERAL NONFICTION – “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History” by Elizabeth Kolbert (Henry Holt)
MUSIC – “Anthracite Fields” by Julia Wolfe (G. Schirmer, Inc.)

Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Asia region, 2015
Srinagar-born novelist Siddhartha Gigoo has won the award for ‘The Umbrella Man’, a tale of surreal meditation on mental health and the environment. Gigoo won £2,500 and will now compete with the other four regional winners for the £5,000 grand prize.

Gigoo’s prize-winning story has been published in the book ‘A Fistful of Earth and Other Stories’. Judges praised him for “his sensitivity and perception, which made his story stand out from the rest”.

Born in Srinagar in 1974, Gigoo’s first novel ‘The Garden of Solitude’ was published in 2011. He has also written two poetry books, ‘Fall and Other Poems’ and ‘Reflections’.

Whitley Awards 2015
Panut Hadisiswoyo: for his efforts to protect Sumatran orangutans in Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem.
Pramod Patil: for community conservation of the great Indian bustard in the Thar Desert, India.
Rosamira Guillen: for cotton-top tamarin conservation in northern Colombia.
Arnaud Desbiez: for giant armadillo protection in the Brazilian Cerrado.
Inaoyom Imong: for protecting Cross River gorillas in Nigeria’s Mbe Mountains.
Jayson Ibañez: for helping protect the Philippine eagle on Mindanao Island.
Ananda Kumar: for developing communication systems to reduce human-elephant conflict in southern India.

Each award is worth £35,000 in project funding. The Whitley Fund for Nature together with other foundations, individuals, and organizations provide the prize money.

Whitely also bestowed the £50,000 Whitley Gold Award 2015 to Dino Martins for his work to encourage small farmers to adopt pollinator-friendly farming approaches in East Africa. Martins was a 2009 Whitely Award winner.

CYBER SPACE
Solar-powered internet drone completes first test flight
A Portuguese startup that aims to use solar-powered drones to provide wireless internet access to offline areas of the world claims to have successfully completed its maiden test flight.

The company, Quarkson, plans to use the SkyOrbiter drones that will stay airborne for weeks, months or even years at a time and will fly at altitudes of up to 22,000 metres.

The test flight took place on 2 April 2015 at an undisclosed location.

The drone was equipped with Wi-Fi-transmitting equipment that can provide internet access to local users on the ground via a patch antenna that receives the signal.

The drone tested was a small version of those planned for eventual use with a wingspan of 5 metres.

The drones are designed to be fully autonomous with an energy management system, autopilot and ground control software and long range communications working on different frequencies. They will be capable of transmitting via Long-Term Evolution (LTE) or W-iFi on the unlicensed spectrum or via Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G or 2G via a carrier on the licensed spectrum.

DEFENCE
First Scorpene-class submarine undocked
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar undocked the first Scorpene-class submarine on 6 April 2015, the latest addition to the Indian Navy. The launching of the submarine will take place in September 2015. Till September 2016, the submarine will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbour and at sea, while on surface and while dived.

The state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface.

It is designed to operate in all theatres including the tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a Naval task Force. It can undertake multifarious warfare, Anti-submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, mine laying, area surveillance etc.

Built using special steel, it is capable of withstanding high yield stress. It has high tensile strength, thereby allowing it to withstand high hydrostatic force and enabling to dive deeper. The Scorpene is equipped with Weapons Launching tubes (WLT) and can carry weapons on board which can be easily reloaded at sea.

INS Vishakhapatnam launched
Indian Navy’s new destroyer, INS Visakhapatnam, with enhanced capability to operate in nuclear, biological and chemical atmosphere, was launched in Mumbai on 20 April 2015. Launch of the ship means that it is being put into the sea.

The ship is the first of the four follow-up orders of the Kolkata class warships and will give a major flip to India’s maritime capabilities when it is inducted in 2018.

At 7,300 tonnes, INS Visakhapatnam is the largest destroyer commissioned by the Indian Navy and will be equipped with the Israeli Multi Function Surveillance Threat Alert Radar (MF-STAR). This will provide targeting information to 32 Barak 8 long-range surface to air missiles on-board the warship, that is being co-developed by India with Israel.

The ship will also be carrying eight BrahMos missiles.

The ship, a stealth destroyer, is 65 per cent indigenous and has a number of weapon systems which have been made at home. The total cost of the project is little over ₹29,600 crore.

RESEARCH
New magnetic alloy as an alternative to high-performance rare-earth permanent magnets
Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets.

The new alloy—a potential replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines—eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.

The result, an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron co-doped with cerium and cobalt, is a less expensive material with properties that are competitive with traditional sintered magnets containing dysprosium.

Previous attempts to use cerium in rare-earth magnets failed because it reduces the Curie temperature—the temperature above which an alloy loses its permanent magnet properties. But the research team discovered that co-doping with cobalt allowed them to substitute cerium for dysprosium without losing desired magnetic properties.

Finding a comparable substitute material is the key to reducing manufacturing reliance on dysprosium; the current demand for it far outpaces mining and recycling sources for it.

SPACE RESEARCH
Messenger spacecraft crashes into Mercury
NASA’s Mercury-orbiting spacecraft, Messenger, reached the end of its historic 11-year mission on 30 April 2015, when it crashed into Mercury—the little planet closest to the sun.

Messenger slammed into Mercury’s surface at about 14,000 kmph, according to NASA, creating a new crater on the planet’s surface. The crater is estimated to be as wide as 15 metres.

Because Messenger hit the side of Mercury facing away from the earth, ground-based telescopes were unable to capture the moment of impact. Mercury’s proximity to the Sun, which could damage optics, also meant that space-based telescopes were unable to pick up the crash.

Messenger made history in March 2011 when it became the first probe to orbit Mercury. The spacecraft undertook extensive mapping of Mercury during its journey, and sent a slew of data on the planet back to earth. Messenger, for example, found vast troves of sulfur on the planet’s surface. The probe also discovered that Mercury’s internal magnetic field is offset from the planet’s center, and verified its polar deposits are dominantly water ice.

Messenger’s original goal was to take 2,500 images of the planet, but it returned more than 270,000 to earth.

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