Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 May 2017

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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 22 May 2017


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

 

Mapping the universe with quasar positions

 

Astronomers have created the first map of the large-scale structure of the universe based entirely on the positions of quasars.

quasar position

What you need to know about quasars?

Quasars are the incredibly bright and distant points of light powered by super-massive black holes.

  • Quasars, also called quasi-stellar radio sources, are the most energetic and distant members of a class of objects called active galactic nuclei (AGN).
  • Their spectra contain very broad emission lines, unlike any known from stars, hence the name “quasi-stellar.” Their luminosity can be 100 times greater than that of the Milky Way.
  • They are very bright objects. The amazing brightness of quasars is due to the supermassive black holes found at their centres.
  • Quasars also emit visible light, ultraviolet rays, infrared waves, X-rays, and gamma-rays.

How was mapping done?

To make their map, scientists used the Sloan Foundation Telescope to observe an unprecedented number of quasars.

  • During the first two years of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), astronomers measured accurate three-dimensional positions for more than 147,000 quasars.
  • The telescope’s observations gave the team the quasars’ distances, which they used to create a three-dimensional map of where the quasars are. However, to use the map to understand the expansion history of the universe, they had to go a step further, using a clever technique involving studying “baryon acoustic oscillations” (BAOs).
  • BAOs are the present-day imprint of sound waves which travelled through the early universe, when it was much hotter and denser than the universe we see today. However, when the universe was 380,000 years old, conditions changed suddenly and the sound waves became “frozen” in place. These frozen waves are left imprinted in the three- dimensional structure of the universe.

Significance of these findings:

The results of the new study confirm the standard model of cosmology that researchers have built over the last 20 years. In this standard model, the universe follows the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity but includes components whose effects we can measure, but whose causes we do not understand.’

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Action plan for Pampa conservation

 

A seven-point action plan for the conservation of pampa has been chalked out. The document, named Pampa Declaration, delineates a comprehensive plan to be implemented with the active involvement and support of the government and the public.

pampa river

Highlights of the action plan:

  • The salient features of the declaration include bestowing living entity status to river Pampa; the constitution of a River Management Board for the governance of the river; documentation of livelihood along the river basin; publication of periodic status report of flood plains and wetlands and formation of tributaries, micro watersheds, and ponds linked to the river every five years.
  • It also calls for digitising biodiversity reports with the support of students from institutions and colleges affiliated to Mahatma Gandhi University, implementation of green protocol for containing the pollution of the river and for the conservation of the Pampa ecosystem.
  • The declaration calls upon the government to create an additional standing committee on environment at the local bodies to ensure participation of local government institutions in the governance of the river.

 

Know about pampa river:

Pampa is the third longest river in Kerala after Periyar and Bharathappuzha and the longest river in the erstwhile princely state of Travancore. Sabarimala temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is located on the banks of the river. The river is also known as ‘Dakshina Bhageerathi’ and ‘River Baris’.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

In NTD fight, the end in sight

 

Around the world, nearly 1.6 billion people are affected by a group of diseases so ignored that the term used to refer to them is called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

 

What you need to know about NTDs?

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people, costing developing economies billions of dollars every year. They mainly affect populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock.

tropical diseases

Concerns:

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect over 1.5 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 875 million children. They cause severe pain, long-term disability, and are the cause of death for over 170,000 people per year. Amongst children, infection leads to malnutrition, cognitive impairment, stunted growth, and the inability to attend school. Adults suffer from social isolation and are unable to work, and anemia caused by NTDs increases the risk of maternal mortality.

 

What needs to be done?

The Indian government has set itself the target of eliminating kala-azar and filariasis by 2017, and leprosy by 2018. With such ambitious targets, sustained research must remain an integral component of disease elimination programmes. Besides basic research — the discovery of new facts about a disease, vaccines and drugs — new strategies are needed to make an impact.

  • For programmes to succeed, it is important to maintain constant vigilance through robust surveillance and reporting mechanisms. Partnerships with diverse stakeholders including the private sector, community-based organisations, and community leaders are specifically useful in creating awareness, improving case detection, treatment completion and, most importantly, managing stigma associated with these diseases.
  • While tackling NTDs, it will be important to remember that along with timely diagnosis and treatment access in unreached areas, focussing on the fundamentals of preventive interventions, nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are essential in fast-tracking the ultimate goal of elimination.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.

 

Ecological concerns over combustible ice

 

Commercial development of the globe’s huge reserves of a frozen fossil fuel known as “combustible ice” has moved closer to reality after Japan and China successfully extracted the material from the sea floor off their coastlines.

combustible ice

What you need to know about combustible ice?

Combustible ice is a frozen mixture of water and concentrated natural gas. Technically known as methane hydrate, it can be lit on fire in its frozen state and is believed to comprise one of the world’s most abundant fossil fuels.

  • Where its found? Methane hydrate has been found beneath seafloors and buried inside Arctic permafrost and beneath Antarctic ice. Estimates of worldwide reserves range from 280 trillion cubic metres up to 2,800 trillion cubic metres, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That means methane hydrate reserves could meet global gas demands for 80 to 800 years at current consumption rates.
  • Yet efforts to successfully extract the fuel at a profit have eluded private and state-owned energy companies for decades.
  • Methane hydrate is an attractive energy source due to its high energy density: one cubic meter of combustible ice contains about 164 cubic meters of regular natural gas. This high energy density is due to the fact that methane is trapped within the hydrate crystal structure and greatly compressed.

 

Concerns:

There are environmental concerns. If methane hydrate leaks during the extraction process, it can increase greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel also could displace renewables such as solar and wind power.

 

Sources: the hindu.


 

Facts for Prelims:

 

First Tejas Express:

  • Indian Railways has introduced India’s first high speed, air-conditioned Tejas Express between Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai and Karmali.
  • Tejas Express is a state of the art train capable of running at the speed of 200 kmph with ultra modern amenities run between Mumbai and Karmali.

 

Iran’s presidential election:

Hassan Rouhani has been re-elected as the President of Iran. He was elected as president for his first term in 2013. He won 2013 elections by pledging to end Iran’s isolation and improve civil rights at home.