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Current Affairs for UPSC Civil Services Exam – July 10, 2024

Table of contents

{GS1 – A&C – Architecture} Ratna Bhandar of Jagannath Temple

  • Context (IE | TH): Ratna Bhandar (treasure trove) of Puri’s famed Jagannath Temple is likely to be opened after a gap of four decades. The last inventory of Ratna Bhandar was made 46 years ago in 1978.
  • The Ratna Bhandar, measuring close to 60 sq metre area, is situated on the northern side of the Jagamohana (assembly hall) within the Shri Jagannath temple complex.
  • It has two chambers — the Bahara Bhandar (outer chamber) and the Bhitara Bhandar (inner chamber). The northern wall of the Ratna Bhandar connects it to the main temple.
  • The Ratna Bhandar stores the precious ornaments of sibling deities—Hindu gods Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Goddess Subhadra — donated by devotees and erstwhile kings over centuries.
  • The Record of Rights prepared under the Puri Sri Jagannath Temple Act, 1952, contains a list of Lord Jagannath’s valuable jewels, gold ornaments, etc.
  • The jewellery in the Bhandar falls into three categories:
    • Category 1: Permanently unusable ornaments and jewels that are kept in the Bhitara Bhandar,
    • Category 2: Ones only used during ceremonies or festive occasions and
    • Category 3: Ornaments that are of daily use to the Trinity.
    • Categories 2 and 3 jewellery are kept in the outer enclosure, which is opened year-round.
  • According to the Sri Jagannath Temple Act, 1954 (Orissa Act II of 1955), the safe custody of the Ratna Bhandar is vested with the Sri Jagannath Temple Managing Committee.

{GS1 – Geo – PG – Climatology} Hurricane Beryl

  • Context (IE | DTE): Hurricane Beryl tore through the Caribbean islands and made landfall in Texas, US.
  • It became the earliest storm on record to reach Category 5 during the Atlantic hurricane season.

How are Hurricanes Formed?

  • Hurricanes, or tropical storms, form over warm ocean waters near the equator.
  • Warm, moist air from the ocean surface rises upward, and a lower air pressure area is formed below.
  • Then, air from the surrounding higher air-pressure area rushes into this low-pressure area, which eventually rises and becomes warm and moist.
  • As warm, moist air rises, it cools down, and the water in the air forms clouds and thunderstorms.
  • Storm systems with 119 kmph and above wind speeds are classified as hurricanes.

Classification of Hurricanes

  • Hurricanes are classified using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale into five categories (Category 1 to Category 5) based on their sustained wind speeds.

Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

Category

Wind Speed

m/s knots mph km/h
Five ≥ 70 ≥ 137 ≥ 157 ≥ 252
Four 58-70 113-136 130-156 209-251
Three 50-58 96-112 111-129 178-208
Two 43-49 83-95 96-110 154-177
One 33-42 64-82 74-95 119-153

Why did Beryl Become a Category 5 Hurricane So Early?

  • The hurricane season in the Atlantic begins in June and lasts until November.
  • Generally, the first major hurricanes do not form until September. This is because the ocean isn’t warm enough until then to fuel strong storms.
  • The main reason behind Beryl turning into a powerful storm this early in the season is global warming.
  • Since last year, ocean temperatures in the Atlantic and globally have been record-breaking.
  • Not only are sea surface temperatures (SST) rising, but ocean heat content (OHC), the total amount of heat stored by the oceans, is also soaring, which is a bigger worry.

{GS2 – IR – India-Russia} Indian PM’s Russia visit **

  • Context (IE) | (IE): The Indian PM was in Russia for a two-day visit. The meeting coincides with a NATO meeting in Washington DC, celebrating 75 years of alliance.
  • Earlier, the PM visited Italy for a multilateral meeting of G7 leaders. Indian PM’s visit is the first bilateral visit after being sworn in and the first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine.
  • Underlining a priority: Contrary to the tradition of the first bilateral visit to a neighbour (Bhutan 2014, Maldives & Sri Lanka 2019), the PM prioritised Russia.
  • From India’s perspective, the visit is part of a series of annual bilateral summits between the two countries’ leaders (since 2000).

Highlights of visit

  • Expedite delivery: Both agreed to encourage joint manufacturing of “spare parts & other products” in India to maintain Russian-origin arms and defence equipment under the Make-in-India programme.
    • Spare parts and maintenance support for Mi-17 V5 choppers, the Su-30 MKI fighters, and the RD-33 engines of MiG-29 jets for the IAF and its naval variant MiG-29 K fighters would likely face delays.
  • New Working Group on Technological Cooperation: To be discussed during the meeting of IRIGC-M&MTC (Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation) in Moscow.
  • Reiteration of friendship: While addressing the Indian diaspora in Moscow, the PM called Russia an ‘all-weather friend’.
  • Indians in the Russian army: Russia has broadly heeded India’s call to end the recruitment of Indians as support staff to the Russian military and return the already working.
  • Order of St Andrew the Apostle: PM Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to be honoured with Russia’s highest honour.
  • Focus areas of Bilateral Economic Cooperation:
    • Eliminating non-tariff trade barriers related to bilateral trade.
    • Continuation of dialogue in liberalising bilateral trade.
    • Discuss the possibility of establishing the EAEU-India Free Trade Area.
    • Achieve a mutual trade volume of more than $100 billion by 2030 (as mutually agreed).
    • Increased supplies of goods from India to achieve balanced bilateral trade.
    • Reinvigoration of investment activities, i.e., within the framework of special investment regimes.
    • Development of a bilateral settlement system using national currencies.
    • Develop cooperation in key energy sectors, including nuclear energy, oil refining, and petrochemicals, and facilitate mutual and international energy security.

Importance of Russia for India

  • Critical defence supply: With 60-70 per cent of Indian defence equipment sourced from Russia, defence cooperation has evolved from a buyer-seller framework to one involving joint R&D & co-development.
    • Examples: S-400 Triumf systems, MiG-29 fighter aircraft, Su-30MKI fighters, Kamov helicopters, licensed production of T-90 tanks, AK-203 assault rifles, BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier (former Soviet and Russian warship Admiral Gorshkov).
  • Technology sharing: India must constantly verify the weaponry and technologies that Moscow supplies to Beijing and the nature of their intelligence-sharing arrangements.
    • In 2022, President Putin assured India that Russia would not transfer the military technologies it had shared with India to any other country.
  • Oil trade: Since the Ukraine war, India has been buying large amounts of Russian oil at a discount to cushion the inflationary impact of rising crude prices.
    • Overall bilateral trade reached an all-time high of $65.70 billion in FY 2023-24.
    • India’s $61.44 billion imports comprise Russian oil and petroleum products, fertilisers, mineral resources, precious stones and metals, and vegetable oils.
  • Diplomatic tightrope: According to its official position, India supports “peace, respect for international law and support for the UN Charter” and “strongly advocates a return to dialogue and diplomacy.”
    • To balance, India reiterated that respect for states’ sovereignty and territorial integrity is essential to the international order.

India’s role in Russia-Ukraine Peace process

  • India is positioning itself as a neutral player that could mediate between the two sides.
  • In 2022, India weighed in with Russia on grain shipment from ports on the Black Sea.
  • Ukraine invited the Indian PM to visit during their meeting at the G7 in Italy.
  • India did not sign the joint communique of the peace summit on Ukraine hosted by Switzerland.
  • India had also conveyed to Moscow global concerns about the safety of nuclear plants in Ukraine.

{GS2 – IR – India-US} Challenges in Implementing the iCET Initiative

iCET

  • iCET is a strategic partnership initiative launched between India and the United States to enhance cooperation in critical and emerging technologies.
  • Its primary goal is strengthening technological collaboration, fostering innovation, and addressing global challenges through joint efforts in key technological areas.

Current Focus of iCET’s Defence Component

  • The iCET’s defence component currently centres on two main projects.
  • The first involves India’s local manufacturing of General Electric GE F-414INS6 after burning turbofan engines for the Tejas Mk-II light combat aircraft.
  • The second project concerns the local assembly of 31 armed MQ-9 Reaper/Predator-B unmanned aerial vehicles for India’s three military services, which is estimated to cost around $3 billion.

Obstacles to iCET Success

  • American defence companies are reluctant to transfer critical technology because of IPR.
  • US export control regulations restrict technology transfer through joint ventures.
  • U.S. defence companies, driven by commercial interests and shareholder accountability, may limit technology transfers, potentially restricting collaboration under the iCET.
  • General Electric has concluded negotiations to transfer approximately 80% of the technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for F-414 engine production. However, critical know-how related to forging metallurgy discs for the power pack turbines remains off-limits.
  • The iCET emerged following the failure of the 2012 Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) between India and the U.S., hampered by similar technology transfer issues.
  • Augustine’s Laws warn against excessive talks leading to inaction.

{GS3 – DM – Floods} Glacial Lake Vulnerability Surveys

  • Context (IE): Four states and a Union territory in the Himalayan region are set to begin ground surveys after the monsoon season to assess the vulnerability of glacial lakes.
  • It is in response to the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Sikkim in 2023.
  • In addition to the surveys, officials have announced plans to establish monitoring systems. These systems will provide crucial information about GLOFs, enhancing the region’s preparedness for such events.
  • Teams comprising experts from various agencies (National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Army, Geological Survey of India) will be deployed for ground surveys.
  • The surveys to target select high-risk glacial lakes, primarily located above 5,000 m altitudes.
  • According to ISRO, 676 of the 2,431 glacial lakes larger than 10 hectares in the Himalayas have notably expanded since 1984, and Climate Change is the major driver.

{GS3 – Envi – Conservation} Reptiles and Cacti Species Closer to Extinction

  • Context (DTE): An IUCN Red List update has highlighted that invasive species and illegal trade are pushing several reptiles and cacti species closer to extinction.

Reptile Species

  • Island reptiles are facing competition and predation from introduced snakes.

Ibiza Wall Lizard

  • Ibiza wall lizard is a species native to the Balearic Islands in Spain.
  • 50% of the population has declined since 2010, attributed to the invasive horseshoe whip snake.
  • IUCN Conservation Status: Reclassified as endangered from near threatened.

A lizard on the ground
Description automatically generated

Gran Canaria Giant Lizard

  • Gran Canaria giant lizard is an endemic to Gran Canaria, an island of the Canary Islands (Spain).
  • 50% of the population has declined since 2014 due to invasive California kingsnake introduced in 1998.
  • IUCN Conservation Status: Reclassified as critically endangered from least concern.

A lizard on a rock
Description automatically generated

Gran Canaria Skink

  • Gran Canaria skink is an endemic to Gran Canaria, an island of the Canary Islands (Spain).
  • 50% of the population has declined since 2014 due to invasive California kingsnake introduced in 1998.
  • IUCN Conservation Status: Reclassified as endangered from least concern.

A lizard on the ground
Description automatically generated

Cacti

  • Cacti and succulents worldwide are currently in exceptionally high demand as ornamental species. This is fuelling their illegal trade.

Copiapoa Cacti Species

  • Copiapoa cacti species are endemic to Chile’s Atacama desert.
  • 82% of Copiapoa cacti species are now critically endangered.

{GS3 – IE – Employment} RBI Data Shows Significant Job Growth in FY2024

  • Context (IE): According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), employment growth in India saw a substantial increase of nearly 6 per cent in the fiscal year 2023-24.
  • It adds 4.67 crore new jobs, bringing the total workforce to 64.33 crore in FY2024 (up from 59.67 crore).
  • The RBI’s Measuring Productivity at the Industry Level-The India KLEMS database, provides comprehensive insights into the country’s employment landscape.

Citigroup Report and Government Response

  • A recent report by Citigroup expressed doubts about India’s ability to generate enough jobs, even with a 7% GDP growth rate over the next ten years.
  • The Labour Ministry criticised the Citigroup report for failing to account for comprehensive employment data from official sources like the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) and the RBI’s KLEMS data.
  • The Ministry highlighted that the RBI’s KLEMS data indicates the creation of over 8 crore employment opportunities between 2017-18 and 2021-22, averaging more than 2 crore jobs per year.

Highlights of Citigroup Report

  • The report questions job quality and potential underemployment.
  • Sectoral imbalances: Agriculture employs a large share (46%) but contributes less to GDP (20%). Manufacturing and services absorb fewer workers than their GDP share.
  • Limited formalisation: Only around 25% of non-agricultural jobs are formal, and salaried positions remain low (21%) compared to pre-pandemic levels.
  • The report suggests a stagnation in rural-to-urban migration, which could impact job creation.
  • The latest PLFS data (May 2024) indicates a slight decrease in urban unemployment rates (from 6.8% to 6.7%) and a decline in female unemployment rates (from 9.2% to 8.5%).
  • Positive trends include an increase in the urban labour force participation rate (from 48.5% to 50.2%) and worker population ratio (from 45.2% to 46.9%).
  • Notably, the female worker population ratio in urban areas rose significantly (from 20.6% to 23.4%).

India KLEMS Database

  • The India KLEMS Database is a comprehensive economic research project supported by the RBI that aims to analyse productivity performance in the Indian economy at a disaggregated industry level.
  • It covers 27 industries comprising the entire Indian economy, with data from 1980-81 onwards.
  • The industries are aggregated into six broad sectors: Agriculture, Mining and Quarrying, Manufacturing, Electricity/Gas/Water supply, Construction, and Services.
  • It includes measures of economic growth, employment creation, capital formation, and productivity.
  • The database incorporates various categories of inputs, including Capital (K), Labour (L), Energy (E), Material (M), and Services (S) – hence the name KLEMS.
  • The database is constructed using data from National Accounts Statistics (NAS), Annual Survey of Industries (ASI), NSSO rounds, and Input-Output Tables.

For More Details: Visit > India Employment Report 2024

{GS3 – IE – Inclusive Growth} India’s Financial Inclusion on the Rise

  • Context (TH): The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Financial Inclusion Index (FI-Index) indicates positive progress towards financial inclusion across the country.
  • It reached 64.2 in March 2024 (60.1 in March 2023), indicating improvements across all parameters.
  • The RBI attributes the main driver of this improvement to the “usage dimension” of the FI-Index. This suggests a deepening of FI, with people actively utilising financial services more than before.

FI-Index

  • RBI introduced the FI-Index in 2021 to monitor the progress of ensuring access to financial services, particularly for vulnerable groups such as weaker sections and low-income groups, at an affordable cost.
  • It is a comprehensive measure incorporating details from various financial sectors, including banking, investment, insurance, postal services, and pensions.
  • The primary purpose of the FI-Index is to quantify the extent of financial inclusion across India.
  • It provides a single value ranging from 0 to 100, where 0 indicates complete financial exclusion, and 100 represents full financial inclusion.
  • The FI-Index is built on three main parameters:
    • Access (35% weightage): Measures the accessibility of financial institutions.
    • Usage (45% weightage): Evaluate the utilisation of financial services.
    • Quality (20% weightage): Assesses the quality of financial services provided.
  • These parameters are divided into various dimensions and calculated based on 97 indicators.
  • The quality component captures the qualitative aspects of financial inclusion, including financial literacy, consumer protection, and inequalities in service provision.
  • It is published annually (July).

{GS3 – Infra – Ports} Vizhinjam Port to Commence Trial Operations

  • Context (TH): The Vizhinjam International Seaport in India is on the verge of commencing trial operations with commercial ships and container vessels.
  • The port has secured all necessary infrastructure, clearances, and approvals to proceed with the trial.
  • It is India’s first semi-automated container port, primarily designed to handle transhipment containers.
  • The inaugural shipment from the San Fernando container vessel will be transshipped to ports along India’s east coast, showcasing the port’s strategic role in regional maritime logistics.
  • Vizhinjam Port aims to meet global standards in key performance indicators such as dwell times, vessel turnaround, berth productivity, and crane efficiency.
  • Transhipment is the process of transferring containers between vessels.

For More Details: Visit > Vizhinjam International Seaport Project

{GS3 – S&T – BioTech} Mitochondrial donation therapy

  • Context (BS): Understanding Mitochondrial Donation.
  • Mitochondrial donation is an IVF-based technique that replaces the faulty mitochondrial DNA in the patient’s eggs with healthy mitochondrial DNA from a donor egg.
  • Mitochondrial donation techniques allow a reproductive clinic to create an embryo which contains the:
    • nuclear DNA from a man and a woman (the prospective mother)
    • mitochondria in an egg donated by another woman (the mitochondrial donor).

A diagram of mitochondria
Description automatically generated

Credits: Science News

  • It minimises the risk of a prospective mother transmitting mitochondrial disease to her child.
  • It cannot cure people with existing mitochondrial disease or prevent mitochondrial disease caused by a mutation in nuclear DNA.

Mitochondria

  • Mitochondria are a type of membrane-bound organelle found in a cell’s cytoplasm, often nicknamed the “powerhouse” or “battery” of a cell due to their critical role in energy production.
  • While much of our DNA is stored in the cell nucleus, mitochondria are unique organelles in that their DNA is stored in a circular chromosome, which is inherited through the maternal line. This genetic material is essential for mitochondria to function properly.

Mitochondrial disease

  • Mitochondrial disease (or Mito) is a group of diseases that affect mitochondria’s capacity to produce the energy organs need to function properly.
  • There are two kinds of mitochondrial disease:
    1. One is brought by faulty genes in the nuclear DNA, which makes us who we are and is passed down from one parent to another.
    2. The other is brought on by faulty genes in the mitochondrial DNA. Mito caused by faulty mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the mother.
  • Faulty mitochondria can cause inherited conditions such as fatal heart problems, liver failure, brain disorders, blindness and muscular dystrophy. It is a progressive condition that gets worse over time.
  • Currently, there is no effective treatment for mitochondrial diseases, though the symptoms are treated to improve the patient’s quality of life.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Regenerative Braking*

  • Context (TH): Regenerative braking is an important mechanism in electric vehicles that increases their energy use efficiency.

What is Braking?

  • Braking is the mechanism by which an automotive vehicle in motion slows down.
  • A faster vehicle has more kinetic energy than a slower one, so braking primarily removes this kinetic energy from the vehicle.
  • The law of energy conservation means this removed energy must go somewhere.
  • For example,
    • Disc brakes (a type of mechanical brake) press pads against a spinning disc and use the friction to convert kinetic energy into heat, which is dissipated through holes in the discs.
    • Induction brakes use magnets to induce electric currents in a spinning metal wheel. These currents create opposing magnetic fields, slowing the wheel and dissipating energy as heat.

What is Regenerative Braking?

  • Regenerative braking is a type of dynamic braking that converts the wheels’ kinetic energy into a form that can be stored and reused.
  • In electric vehicles, a battery powers a traction motor that propels the vehicle by converting electrical to mechanical energy.
  • During regenerative braking, this motor acts as a generator. It converts mechanical energy back into electrical energy, stored separately in a battery or fed back into the traction motor.
  • Rheostatic braking is another type of dynamic braking.
  • It sends current to resistors that dissipate energy as heat.
  • A vehicle must often have both regenerative and rheostatic braking in case the recovered electrical energy can’t be stored or used immediately.

How does a Motor Become a Generator?

  • A motor has two essential parts: a rotating rotor and a stationary stator. In a rudimentary design, the stator with permanent magnets or electromagnets surrounds the rotor with current-carrying wire coils.
  • When a charged particle, such as an electron, moves in a magnetic field, it experiences a force known as the Lorentz force. The direction of this force depends on the direction of electric current in the wire.
  • This is when the coiling helps. The coiled wire in the motor has currents flowing in opposite directions at its ends, creating magnetic fields in the stator that push and pull the rotor.
  • These opposing forces act until the voltage stabilises, enabling the motor to convert electrical energy into rotary motion.
  • In a generator, mechanical energy from an external source can be fed to the rotor to induce a current in the stator.
  • Simply speaking, an electric (or hybrid) vehicle can implement regenerative braking by switching the traction motor between these two configurations.

Downsides of Regenerative Braking

  • Regenerative braking alone isn’t sufficient to stop an electric vehicle; it must be combined with a conventional system that dissipates kinetic energy as heat.
  • Regenerative braking systems alone often cannot prevent vehicles from rolling back downhill. Therefore, it must also have a conventional braking system.
  • Regenerative brakes recover less energy as the vehicle’s speed decreases.

Flywheels: Another Way to Recover Energy

  • Flywheels can be used to store energy by increasing their rotational speed.
  • Flywheels are efficient because they can quickly absorb and release energy.
  • Advanced carbon-composite flywheels can spin up to 50,000 rpm in a vacuum.
  • These flywheels can be connected to engines to manage power output, such as in Formula One racing, or to gyroscopes to help submarines and satellites navigate.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech} Responsible quantum technologies movement **

  • Context (TH): The United Nations would observe 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technology. Focusing on quantum technologies urges responsible quantum technologies.

Responsible quantum S&T

  • It aims to harness the value of quantum S&T while maintaining public trust. Risks of misuse and potential for dual use, like weakening digital security, must be addressed effectively.
    • For example, the U.K.’s ‘National Quantum Strategy’ commits to responsible innovation while developing quantum capabilities.

Quantum governance

  • The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Quantum Governance framework is based on transparency, inclusiveness, accessibility, non-maleficence, equitability, accountability, and the common good.
  • The WEF’s objective here is to accelerate the development of responsible quantum computing by building trust in the technology during its development to pre-empt and mitigate potential risks.
    • For example, IBM bars using its quantum products in potentially harmful applications.
  • Another framework adheres to ‘RRI’ (‘responsible research and information’)values, a concept and practice endorsed by the European Commission.
    • It emphasises ‘anticipation’, ‘reflection’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion’ while foregrounding public engagement and ethical considerations.

Challenges

  • Disparity in capabilities: Gaps between countries in terms of quantum S&T capacities.
  • Lack of talent: Lack of access to talent and technologies could widen the gaps further.
  • Poor understanding of issues: Inflated expectations and overestimating our knowledge of ethical issues result in poor understanding.
  • National Policies: While global frameworks and initiatives urge openness, national policies prefer greater and stronger intellectual property rights protections vis-à-vis quantum technologies.
    • For example, the U.S. National Quantum Strategy favours government safeguarding to address the security implications of quantum S&T.
  • Private sector: Not likely to favour sharing & openness for responsible quantum technologies.

Way forward

  • A 2021 study by the University of Oxford researchers highlighted the need for a more granular understanding of governments’ responsibilities.

{Prelims – Awards} Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

  • Context (IE): PM Narendra Modi has become the first Indian leader honoured with Russia’s highest state decoration, the ‘Order of St Andrew the Apostle’.
  • In 2019, Russia announced this award for the Indian PM, citing his “exceptional services” in promoting the special and privileged strategic partnership between Russia and India.

History and significance of the award

  • It was established by Peter the Great, the first Emperor of Russia, around 1699. It is the oldest of Russia’s state decorations. It was discontinued in 1918 (Russian Revolution).
  • In 1998, it was re-established by an Executive Order of the President of Russia).
  • It can be awarded to
    • Russians for exceptional services contributing to the country’s prosperity, might, and glory.
    • Heads of foreign states and governments for distinguished merits to the Russian Federation.
  • Includes: Badge, a star, a light blue silk moire ribbon and a sword for combat distinction.
  • Notable recipients: Heydar Aliyev (Former President of Azerbaijan), Nursultan Nazarbayev (first President of Kazakhstan), and China President Xi Jinping.

{Prelims – Envi – Species} Super Moss able to survive on Mars

  • Context (TH): Scientists have identified a super resilient desert moss speciesSyntrichia Caninervis, in China’s western region of Xinjiang that could help sustain possible colonies on Mars.
  • The moss is found in Xinjiang, Tibet, a Californian desert, the Middle East and polar regions.
  • The moss could serve as the basis for the establishment and maintenance of the ecosystem by contributing to oxygen production, carbon sequestration, and soil fertility.
  • It can help drive the atmospheric, geological, and ecological processes required for other higher plants and animals while facilitating the creation of new habitable environments conducive to long-term human settlement.
  • Even after losing more than 98% of its cellular water content, the moss could recover photosynthetic and physiological activities within seconds after being hydrated.
  • It can also tolerate ultra-low temperatures and regenerate after being stored in a freezer at minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 112 Fahrenheit) for five years or in liquid nitrogen for a month.

{Prelims – In News} Hydrogen sulfide on exoplanet

  • Context (TH): First time traces of hydrogen sulfide were detected in the atmosphere of any exoplanet.
  • James Webb telescope data shows that exoplanet HD189733b also has water and carbon dioxide.
  • The Webb observations also ruled out the presence of methane in the planet’s atmosphere.
  • It was discovered in 2005 and is an extreme place larger than Jupiter (which also has hydrogen sulfide).
  • It is strikingly cobalt blue and has molten glass rain that blows sideways in its fierce atmospheric winds.
  • It is a rare “hot Jupitergas giant. Such planets are much hotter due to their proximity to host stars.
  • HD 189733b planet orbits 170 times closer to its host star than Jupiter does to the sun. Its orbit is 13 times nearer to its host star than our innermost planet, Mercury.
  • This results in a temperature of around 1,700 °F (930 °C) on the star-facing side of it.
  • Orbital period: Two days instead of the 12 years of Jupiter.
  • Location: 64 light-years from Earth within the Milky Way galaxy, in the constellation Vulpecula.
  • Its host star is smaller & cooler than the sun, only about a third as luminous, and part of a binary system.
  • A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, 5.9 trillion miles (9.5 trillion km).

{Prelims – In News} INCOIS Enhances Indian Ocean Monitoring System

  • Context (IE): The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), based in Hyderabad, has significantly upgraded its system for monitoring the health of the Indian Ocean.
  • The improved version of the Regional Analysis of Indian Ocean, a data assimilation system developed by INCOIS, now incorporates Sea Surface Height Anomaly (SSHA) data.
  • The previous version relied solely on salinity and sea surface temperature data, not SSHA data.
  • The new system gathers observations from the ocean surface and depths ranging from 3 to 2,000 meters, allowing for more accurate ocean current analysis within the models.
  • The inclusion of sea surface height data has led to improvements in temperature and salinity structure analysis and has resulted in a more accurate geostrophic circulation model of the ocean.

{Prelims – In News} Indo-French Liver and Metabolic Disease Network

  • Context (PIB): The Union Minister of Science and Technology launched the Indo-French Liver and Metabolic Disease Network (InFLiMeN).

About Indo-French Liver and Metabolic Disease Network (InFLiMeN)

  • InFLiMeN is a collaborative initiative between India and France that focuses on research and development in the field of liver and metabolic diseases.
  • The joint research programme is being supported under the aegis of the Department of Science and Technology, GoI, and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, Government of France
  • It aims to address non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can progress to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer.
  • It focuses on developing low-cost diagnostic tests and India-specific solutions to manage liver diseases.

{Prelims – Sci – Bio – Diseases} Dutch Elm Disease

  • Context (DTE): The Dutch Elm disease has adversely impacted the Elm trees in the UK.
  • Dutch elm disease is caused by two closely related fungi, Ophiostoma ulmi and Ophiostoma novo-ulmi.
  • It is known as vascular wilt disease because the fungus blocks the vascular (water transport) system, causing the branches to wilt and die.
  • Transmission: It is spread by elm bark beetles.
  • Symptoms: Trees infected by root grafts wilt, their leaves turn brown, and the trees die rapidly, usually in the spring.

Dutch Elm Disease | Preston Lab

Credit: Preston

{Prelims – Sci – Bio} Sexual Dimorphism in Nociceptors

  • Context (TH): A study for the first time functional sexual dimorphism in nociceptors.
  • Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the sexes of the same species exhibit different morphological characteristics.

Nociceptors

 

  • Nociceptors are the nerve cells responsible for perceiving pain.
  • Nociceptor cells have bare nerve endings and are found across our skin, bones, joints, and muscles.
  • The receptors detect extreme pressure, temperature, and chemical signals released by the body when injured, turn them into electrical signals, and relay them to the brain via the spinal cord.
  • The brain finally reads the message and perceives pain.

Why Nociceptors are Exhibiting Sexual Dimorphism?

  • Nociceptors in males and females can be sensitised differently, affecting how they respond to pain. For instance, female nociceptors often have a lower activation threshold than males.
  • The reasons behind this difference in sensitisation are:
    • Peripheral nociceptor sensitisation: A phenomenon in which the threshold for pain is lowered by external factors, causing the receptors to respond to stimuli that they’d otherwise ignore.
    • Biological factors: Hormonal influences such as prolactin (a hormone responsible for breast tissue growth) and orexin-B (a neurotransmitter that regulates wakefulness).

Impact of the Finding

  • Understanding sexual dimorphism in nociceptors is crucial for developing sex-specific pain therapies.
  • Currently, pain management often overlooks sex differences, despite conditions like migraines and endometriosis being more prevalent in women and cluster headaches and gout more common in men.
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