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Astrophysics milestone: First ever photo of black hole expected this Wednesday

Agencies

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Washington: Scientists are expected to unveil the first-ever photograph of a black hole this week.
If they do, it will mark a major breakthrough in astrophysics and could provide new insight into the giant celestial monsters.
The US National Science Foundation says it will announce during a press conference “a groundbreaking result” from the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project.
The announcement is scheduled to take place on April 10 at 9:00am (Washington time).
Simultaneous news conferences are also scheduled in Brussels, Santiago, Shanghai, Taipei and Tokyo.
Science fiction paints black holes as all-consuming monsters but, for astronomers, there’s no cooler place to try and see. Listen as Cosmic Vertigo disappears beyond the event horizon.
Scientists from the EHT project are keeping tight-lipped about their findings, but it’s widely expected they will show at least one photo of a black hole.
The project was formed seven years ago with the aim of directly observing the immediate environment of a black hole.
“It’s a visionary project to take the first photograph of a black hole. We are a collaboration of over 200 people internationally,” the project’s director, astrophysicist Sheperd Doeleman, said at an event in March.
To do so, the scientists linked a series of radio telescope dishes across the globe to create “a virtual Earth-sized telescope”.
The researchers then targeted two supermassive black holes.
The first — called Sagittarius A* — is situated 26,000 light years from Earth at the centre of our own Milky Way galaxy, and is 4 million times the mass of our Sun.
A light year is the distance light travels in a year: 9.5 trillion kilometres.
The second — called M87 — resides 54 million light-years away from Earth at the centre of the neighbouring Virgo A galaxy, with a mass 3.5 billion times that of the Sun.
The first data was then obtained in April 2017.
Black holes aren’t the cosmic vacuum cleaners they are sometimes made out to be, but they are extremely fun to study.
Black holes form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle.
They are extraordinarily dense entities and have gravitational fields so intense no matter can escape being sucked in, including stars, planets, gas, dust and light.
The fact that black holes do not allow light to escape makes viewing them difficult.
So the scientists are instead looking for the ring of light around the black hole — the radiation and matter circling at tremendous speed around the edge of the event horizon.
The scientists behind the EHT project said they would aim to capture a razor-sharp image, but warned it wouldn’t be easy.
“The quality of the images depends on the arrangement of the telescope array, weather conditions at the telescope sites, as well as blurring of images as the light travels from the black hole toward the Earth,” the project’s website says.
The research will put to the test one of the pillars of science — physicist Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity — according to University of Arizona astrophysicist Dimitrios Psaltis, project scientist for the EHT.
That theory, put forward in 1915, was intended to explain the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces.
“The shape of the [black hole’s] shadow will be almost a perfect circle in Einstein’s theory,” Dr Psaltis said.
“If we find it to be different than what the theory predicts, then we go back to square one and we say, ‘Clearly, something is not exactly right’.”


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Pak reopens airspace

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New Delhi, Jul 16: Pakistan opened its airspace for all civilian traffic on Tuesday morning, sources said, effectively removing the ban on Indian flights that were not allowed to use majority of its airspace since the Balakot air strikes in February.

The move is expected to give a major relief to Air India, which suffered a huge financial loss of around Rs 491 crore as it had to re-route its various international flights due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

“Pakistan has permitted all airlines to fly through its airspace from around 12.41 am today. Indian airline operators will start using normal routes through Pakistan airspace soon,” the sources told PTI.

 

Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) at around 12.41 am Indian Standard Time, stating that “with immediate effect Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civil traffic on published ATS (air traffic service) routes”.

Pakistan had fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force (IAF) struck a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot in retaliation to the Pulwama attack on February 14. Since then, the neighbouring country had only opened two routes, both of them passing through the southern region, of the total 11.

On its part, the IAF had announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on the Indian airspace post the Balakot strike had been removed. However, it did not benefit most of the commercial airliners and they were waiting for Pakistan to fully open its airspace.

In India, the biggest pain was suffered by Air India that conducts various international flights from Delhi to Europe and the US.

The national carrier had lost Rs 491 crore till July 2 due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace. Private airlines SpiceJet, IndiGo and GoAir lost Rs 30.73 crore, Rs 25.1 crore and Rs 2.1 crore, respectively, according to the data presented by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in the Rajya Sabha on July 3.

Post the air strike, Air India had to re-route, merge or suspend many of its international flights that connect India with European and US cities.

IndiGo, India’s largest airline by domestic market share, was unable to start direct flights from Delhi to Istanbul due to the closure of the Pakistan airspace.

The low-cost carrier started the Delhi-Istanbul flight in March. Till date, this IndiGo flight had to take the longer route over the Arabian Sea and make a stop at Doha in Qatar for refueling.

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Uncertainty looms large over EWS quota in NEET

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jul 16:  Uncertainty looms large over the implementation of 10 per cent quota for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) in NEET for J&K students.

On June 20, Jammu and Kashmir government approved the reservation (second amendment) bill incorporating 103rd Amendment of the Indian constitution to provide 10 percent reservation to economically weaker sections in jobs and educational institutions.

The amendment will provide for 10 percent reservation to Economically Weaker Sections in educational institutions and direct recruitment in civil posts and services not covered under the scheme of the reservation for SCs, STs, and OBCs.

 

However the authorities are yet to issue a notification for its implementation in NEET. The reservation was not considered in the first round of counseling. Clouds of uncertainty looms large over the second round of counseling as well.

“Medical Council of India and Dental Council of India also granted approval for additional 85 MBBS and 26 BDS seats. However the state government is not issuing notification regarding its implementation which has put the career of students at stake,” said Malik Sujad, a NEET candidate.

Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education, Atal Dullo told The Kashmir Monitor that they have succeeded in getting additional seats allotted from the Medical Council of India.

“Amending rules for EWS has to be done by the social welfare department. After the social welfare department notifies the rules, Board of Professional Entrance Examination will consider those for counseling,” said Dullo.

“It will take time. We will consider EWS in counseling, once we get a nod from Social welfare and parliament,” he added.

Centre proposes to scrap NEET-PG

New Delhi, Jul 16: In a relief to medical students wanting to pursue post-graduate courses, the Union Health Ministry has proposed to do away with NEET-PG and instead the final MBBS examination results would be prerequisite for admission to MD and MS programmes.

The amendment has been incorporated in the revised draft National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill which would be sent to the Cabinet soon, official sources told PTI.

According to them, the changes have been incorporated in the bill on the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

“According to the amendments made in the fresh NMC Bill, entry into the PG programmes will be on the basis of the results of the National Exit Test (NEXT), which would be held as a common exam across the country. So the candidates would not have to appear in a separate exam after clearing the MBBS final exam for admission to PG courses,” the source explained.

The students would also not be required to appear in a separate exam after MBBS to obtain a license to practice.

However, for admission to PG programmes at AIIMS, clearing a separate exam will remain mandatory. Also, the NEET Super Speciality, which is a national-level entrance exam for admission in DM/MCh courses, will continue, sources said.

Every year 80,000 students take admission into MBBS courses in about 480 medical colleges in the country, while 1.5 lakh students appear for entrance exams for admission to around 50,000 PG seats.

The NMC Bill was introduced in Parliament in December 2017, but it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.

After its introduction in the lower house in 2017, the Bill, which aims to replace the Medical Council of India Act, 1956 and included the contentious provision of a “bridge course” to allow practitioners of alternative medicines to pursue allopathy, was referred to a Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee following massive protests from the medical fraternity.

The first version of the Bill also proposed a national-level licentiate exam for all MBBS graduates for getting licence to practice in India.

But it was removed following strong protests by several doctor bodies.

The provision of the ‘bridge course’ was also strongly opposed by health bodies, including the Indian Medical Association, which claimed that allowing AYUSH doctors to practice modern medicine would promote “quackery”, although the ministry had argued that the provision seeks to address the “acute shortage” of doctors in the country.

The parliamentary panel gave its recommendations in March 2018, following which the Health Ministry scrapped the provision of ‘bridge course and also made some other changes as suggested by the committee before moving the official amendments in the Lok Sabha.

“It has been left to state governments to take necessary measures for addressing and promoting primary healthcare in rural areas,” the amendment stated and also made the punishment for unauthorised practice of medicine more severe with imprisonment of up to one year along with a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh. (PTI)

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Docs remove 25 kg cyst from Kulgam woman carrying it for 2 years

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 16: In an astonishing development, doctors Tuesday managed to successfully remove a 25 kg cyst from the ovary of an elderly woman in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

The remarkable surgery was accomplished by Dr Azad Malik and his team at Al Hayat, a private nursing home in the district.

The patient, a 72-year-old woman who hails from Kulgam’s Kund area, had visited the doctor for consultation at Dr Malik’s clinic last week.

 

“She was complaining of abdomen pain, breathlessness and difficulty in walking. Ultra-sonography conducted on the patient revealed a huge mass in her ovary,” news portal The Kashmir Press quoted the doctor saying.

“The patient was operated on Monday and a giant cyst was removed from her ovary. The cyst weighted about 25 kg,” Dr Malik told The Kashmir Press.

He, as per the report, said the cyst weighed more than the weight of a five year old child.

“The cyst was spread from lower abdomen to lungs and patient was living with it for the last two years,” Dr Malik said.

“It was a tough procedure. Patient during the surgery had suffered some cardiac issues but we handled it with all the care. The patient is recovering normally,” he said.

Earlier in 2016, Dr Malik, who is considered as one of the best laparoscopic surgeon in Kashmir, had removed 22 kg ovarian cyst from 16 year girl at district hospital Anantnag.

In 2015, he had performed Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP), a rare surgery, on a male patient at district hospital Anantnag.

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