Category Earth Science

What are superbugs and super resistance and why are they a major problem for human health?

In articles about infections and medicines, you may have come across words such as superbugs and drug resistance. What do they mean and what is providing superbugs (microbes resistant to medication used for treating the infections they cause) the perfect circumstances to thrive? Come, let's find out

It is common knowledge that microbes such as bacteria, virus, fungi, and parasites cause infection in humans, animals, and plants. Such infections are tackled using antibiotics (to fight bacteria), antivirals, antifungal, and antiparasitics. These medicines are collectively called antimicrobials; they prevent or treat infections by killing or inhibiting the growth of the microbes. Medicines tackle erring microbes and bring the infection under control. However, not always do antimicrobials succeed in doing what they set out to. This is because the microbes begin to resist these medicines-in essence, they continue to grow unaffected. This is called drug (medicine) resistance. Now, how do these germs develop that resistance? Most microbes – such as bacteria, fungi, and parasites – are living organisms. So they always find ways to survive by protecting themselves from anything that could harm them. One important way this happens is through change in one or more of their genes- also known as gene mutation. This can help microbes ignore the antimicrobial, block, or even destroy it. And, surviving germs pass on these genes to the subsequent generation that keeps both the resistance and itself alive.

But, what causes the resistance in the first place? Several reasons! Overuse and misuse of antimicrobials are among the most common reasons that lead to drug resistance. Of growing concern in recent times is how climate change is driving drug resistance.

Here's an example. "Higher temperatures have been found to promote the growth, infection and spread of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, both in humans and animals." Extreme weather events lead to sharing of limited resources such as water in extremely crowded places, increasing risk of infection. Drought, agricultural run-offs, pollutants, etc. exacerbate the growth and spread of drug-resistant microbes.

As drug-resistant microbes cause millions of death the world over, it is important to not just develop newer drugs to combat these microbes but also tackle the pressing issue of climate change.

Picture Credit : Google 

What is the career in the field of Earth Sciences?

Our Earth is extremely fragile, and human activities are making it more vulnerable. One of the recent examples of the impact of indiscriminate development and climate change is the shocking collapse of a portion of the Nanda Devi glacier in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district on February 7, 2021, and the ensuing floods that claimed many lives. The deadly disaster brings to light the need to rigorously study the impact of human activity on the environment. And that’s exactly what earth scientists do.

What is Earth Science?

Earth science is the study of the structure, composition, and evolution of the Earth, the life it supports, and the processes that govern the formation and behaviour of the Earth’s materials. It seeks to find answers to questions such as how ice moves, where the mineral resources are, and the rate of permafrost thaw. Understanding these phenomena is essential to the maintenance of life on the planet.

Different branches:

  • Glaciology: Glaciologists assess the impact of climate change, look for alternatives to sustain Earth’s depleting resources, and forecast avalanches.
  • Geology: Geologists study Earth and the processes that act on its materials. It also traces the history of the planet and its life forms since origin.
  • Hydrogeology: The study of water flow on and below the Earth’s surface and its chemistry.
  • Limnology: Limnology examines lake sediments to determine past climate and ecological environments.
  • Oceanography: The study of the ocean, including its water, boundaries and topography, types of currents, and marine biology.
  • Volcanology and Seismology: The scientific study of the dynamics of volcanoes and earthquakes.

What to study?

Universities in India and abroad offer a range of courses in Earth Sciences. You can pursue a Master of Science (M.Sc) and specialise in the field of your choice. A Ph.D is required to start working in the field.

Where: India

  • Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, Dehradun: Training and research programmes on Geomorphology and Environmental Geology. Geophysics, Petrology and Geochemistry
  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune: Dual degree programme Bachelor of Science and Master of Science
  • Sharada University. Noida, and Pondicherry University: M.Sc in Environmental Sciences
  • Bharatiya Vidyapeeth, Insitute of Environment Education and Research. Punes M.Sc in Environment Science and Technology
  • Annamalai University, Cuddalore: M.Sc Earth Sciences and PG diplomas in Petroleum and Remote Sensing

Abroad

  • Utrecht University, the Netherlands, M.Sc Earth Surface and Water
  • University of Helsinki, Finland: M.Sc Geology and Geophysics
  • The University of Westent Australia: Master of Geographic Information Science
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. M.SC Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate: M.Sc Geology, Geochemistry and Geobiology; Master of Environmental Policy and Planning

What are the job prospects?

Earth scientists primarily work in research organisations and environmental monitoring agencies.

These organisations could be in the private as well as the public sector.

Depending on your field of interest, you can also work with non-profit organisations and think-tanks on environment conservation and policy. If you have an academic bent of mind, then working in a university as a professor in the field of your choice could also suit you.

 

Picture Credit : Google

What is GPS map?

This accurate, up-to-date map is created using digital technology. You can view GPS maps on your phone, tablet, or computer. They can tell you exactly where you are at any time. The coordinates and position as well as atomic time obtained by a terrestrial GPS receiver from GPS satellites orbiting Earth interact together to provide the digital mapping programming with points of origin in addition to the destination points needed to calculate distance. This information is then analyzed and compiled to create a map that provides the easiest and most efficient way to reach a destination.

More technically speaking, the device operates in the following manner:

  • GPS receivers collect data from at least four GPS satellites orbiting the Earth, calculating position in three dimensions.
  • The GPS receiver then utilizes position to provide GPS coordinates, or exact points of latitudinal and longitudinal direction from GPS satellites.
  • The points, or coordinates, output an accurate range between approximately “10-20 meters” of the actual location.
  • The beginning point, entered via GPS coordinates, and the ending point, (address or coordinates) input by the user, are then entered into the digital mapping software.
  • The mapping software outputs a real-time visual representation of the route. The map then moves along the path of the driver.
  • If the driver drifts from the designated route, the navigation system will use the current coordinates to recalculate a route to the destination location.

 

Picture Credit : Google

What is political world map?

A political map shows you the countries of the world. You see where borders and cities are, including national capitals. Imaginary, numbered lines- the equator and lines of latitude and longitude – give you the exact position on Earth of places they pass through. Some of the largest independent nations in the world are the Russian Federation, People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina. While the smallest nations include Vatican City, Monaco, Andorra, and Singapore.

As represented on the world map, some countries like Brazil, Australia, the USA, and Indonesia have long coastlines, while others are completely landlocked like Bhutan, Switzerland, Mongolia, and Lesotho.

The world political map shows dependent territories such as Greenland and the Faroe Islands of Denmark, as well as the French Overseas Territories, which are geographically and culturally distinct, enjoying some degree of autonomy but are not independent states.

 

Picture Credit : Google

What is street map?

This type of map shows where the streets and roads in a town or city are. It will also show bus stops, stations, schools, hospitals, parks, and other useful and important places. The maps are of different sizes, shapes, and scales. Small maps are used to show the overview of a region’s major roads or routes while large maps give greater details and cover a large area. Highway maps give the overview of major routes within a region. Street maps mainly cover areas within a city or metropolitan area. A collection of road maps bound together in a book is referred to as road atlas. Road maps often use thin lines to indicate minor roads and thicker or bolder colors to indicate major roads.

 

Picture Credit : Google

What is physical map?

This type of map shows you the natural features in an area. These include mountains, volcanoes, rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and deserts. Different colours and symbols are used to represent these features.

Continents:

The physical land mass of the world, the planet Earth, is divided into seven continents of Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Antarctica (It being the only uninhabited continent) . Asia with 29% of the world land mass is the largest and Australia with 5.9% of landmass the smallest. Mount Everest is the highest point on earth and Dead Sea the lowest.

Deserts:

Deserts occupy about 33% of the world land mass. Deserts, places on earth which have very little rainfall, can be either hot or cold. The largest cold deserts are the polar deserts of Antarctica and Arctic Circle. The largest sub tropical or hot deserts are the Sahara and Arabian Desert. Gobi and Kalahari are other large deserts.

Mountain ranges:

Mountains cover 24% of the earth land mass and are spread over all the continents. Asia has the largest area covered with mountains and Africa the least- only 3%. Himalayas, the Earth’s youngest mountains are also the highest. These mountains are still growing. Mount Everest at 8848 meters is the highest peak and K2 at 8611 meters, the second highest. Alps are the mountain ranges in Europe and Rockies in North America.

Oceans:

Over two-third of the Earth’s surface is covered with water and more than 97% of this water is contained in the oceans. The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean in the world. The other oceans are Atlantic, Indian, Pacific, Southern and Arctic.

Lakes:

The earth is dotted with lakes-bodies of fresh or salt water surrounded by a land mass. Northern hemisphere has the majority of fresh water lakes. Aral Sea, Dead Sea, and Great Salt Lake are salt water lakes. Caspian Sea, if considered as a lake is the largest. Other large lakes are Lake Michigan in North America, Lake Victoria in Africa, and Lake Eyre in Australia.

Rivers:

Rivers are watercourses flowing towards oceans, seas, lakes or another river. The Nile River, in Africa, with a length of 6695 kilometers is the longest in the world. The Brahmaputra and the Ganges are rivers in Asia. The Colorado and the Mississippi are rivers in North America. The Amazon, the second largest river, is in South America. River Congo, in Africa is the deepest river though it is the ninth longest.

 

Picture Credit : Google

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