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Monday, April 22, 2002

NIC's artefacts digitisation plan approved
V.P. Prabhakar

A proposal for digitisation and documentation of art objects and artefacts preserved in various central and state museums, submitted by the National Information Centre (NIC) has been approved by the Department of Culture, Government of India. The IT plan for the National Museum (New Delhi) has been submitted for approval.

Indian museums and art galleries are the repository of the nation's valuable treasures. They play a positive and important role in moulding people's tastes and making them aware of the history and creative talent available in India. The emphasis in the ninth plan, therefore, is to correct the perception that museums are only store-houses of curiosities. The Department of Culture, according to the annual report of the department, is striving to change museums into multi-cultural complexes engaged in promoting art, education, research and appreciation.

At present the Department of Culture administers four general museums of national importance. viz National Museum, Delhi, Indian Museum, Kolkata, Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad, and the Allahabad Museum. In addition, the department also administers National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi, with a branch at Mumbai. The National Council of Science Museums, which is a group of 26 science centres and science museums, also falls under the department. The Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata, which is a period museum, also gets grants from the department.

The software titled "Natraj" developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) has been deployed in 20 museums in various states. Preparatory project work, according to the annual report of the Ministry of Information Technology, to bring out an integrated CD-ROM entitled National Register of Art Objects comprising of documented and digitised rare art objects, has been undertaken.


Biopsy by robots

CAN a robot perform biopsy? Well, yes, if a new study is to be believed. In fact, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions claim they have designed a robot that has successfully performed lung, liver and kidney biopsies, reports Ivanhoe.

Currently, there are two techniques used for a biopsy - the first one involving a needle that is passed through the skin into the organ in question and the other being an open surgical incision.

But the specially designed robot that looks like a large metal arm attached to the CT machine, can perform computed tomography (CT) or guided needle biopsies faster and with greater accuracy as compared to traditional methods. It is also relatively safer.

While presenting the study at the 27th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology (SCVIR) in Baltimore recently, the researchers revealed that 10 patients with tumours in the lung, liver and kidney had accurate biopsies performed by the robot in conjunction with an interventional radiologist.

According to Stephen B Solomon, MD, from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, someday the robots will be attached permanently to CT equipment and other procedure tables.

Meanwhile, researchers at other institutions are also developing their own versions of medical robots. ANI