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UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 06-April-2020

Major Topics Covered :


  1. FUNDS FOR FIGHTING AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

  2. HEAT WAVE IN ANTARCTICA

  3. MARINE CREATURES FLEEING TO POLES

  4. IMPACT OF LOCKDOWN ON SEISMICITY

  5. NEW CLUES FOR HUMAN EVOLUTION

  6. EVIDENCE FOR MID SIZED BLACK HOLE

  7. BUTTERFLIES

  8. ICMR GIVES NOD FOR RAPID ANTIBODY TEST



FUNDS FOR FIGHTING AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

Why in news?

  • India is seeking as much as $6 billion of loans from multilateral institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and AIIB to bolster its efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak.


Highlights:

  • The World Bank has already committed $1 billion, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is in talks with Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and ADB.

  • India needs to rapidly scale up testing for the virus to head off the disease from infecting more people in the world’s most populated nation after China.

  • Proceeds including from the World Bank will be used to acquire testing kits and ventilators, turning hospital beds into intensive care unit beds as well as for buying personal protective equipment for health care workers.


Source : Livemint



HEAT WAVE IN ANTARCTICA

Why in news?

  • Even the world’s coldest continent is not immune to rising global temperatures, with scientists recording the first-ever heatwave event in Antarctica over the 2019-20 summer period. 


Highlights:

  • Researchers from the Australian Antarctic Program recorded the heat wave at the Casey Research Station — located on the northern part of Bailey Peninsula on the Budd Coast — between January 23 and 26, which falls in the region’s summer season. 

  • During the three days, minimum temperatures climbed above zero, and maximum temperatures reached above 7.5 degrees Celsius. On January 24, its highest maximum of 9.2°C was recorded, almost 7°C above Casey’s 30-year mean for the month. 

  • Heatwaves are classified as three consecutive days with both extreme maximum and minimum temperatures,

  • Scientists are concerned about the effect that the heatwave could have on Antarctica’s ecology — both positive and negative.

  • Most life exists in small ice-free oases in Antarctica, and largely depends on melting snow and ice for their water supply,

  • Melted ice flooding can provide additional water to these desert ecosystems, leading to increased growth and reproduction of mosses, lichens, microbes and invertebrates.

  • However excessive flooding can dislodge plants and alter the composition of communities of invertebrates and microbial mats

  • It is believed that the unusual temperatures were linked to meteorological patterns which occurred in the Southern Hemisphere during the spring and summer of 2019. These patterns were influenced in part by the early break-up of the ozone hole in late 2019, due to rapid warming in the stratosphere.


Source : Times of India



MARINE CREATURES FLEEING TO POLES

Why in news?

  • Scientists have found that Marine species are fleeing towards the earth’s poles to escape rising ocean temperatures near the equator.


Highlights:

  • Researchers made the discovery after looking at data spanning more than a century on more than 300 animals, birds and plants living in the world’s oceans.

  • Species showed growing population densities towards the poles but declines in numbers near the equator. It indicates that rising temperatures have led to widespread changes in the population size and distribution of marine species.

  • Researchers gave examples of Atlantic herring and Adelie penguins, whose populations they said were both declining in abundance near the equator but increasing in abundance towards the polar regions.

  • The trend is same across all groups of marine life from plankton to marine invertebrates, and from fish to seabirds.

  • Some marine species appear to benefit from climate change, particularly some populations at the poleward limits that are now able to thrive.

  • Some marine life suffers as it is not able to adapt fast enough to survive warming, and this is most noticeable in populations nearer the equator.

  • This is concerning as both increasing and decreasing abundances may have harmful knock-on effects for the wider ecosystem

  • The world's oceans have warmed by an average of 1C since pre-industrial times, according to the researchers.

  • With warming predicted to increase up to 1.5C over pre-industrial levels by 2050, the researchers said species are likely to undergo further shifts in population distribution in coming decades.


Source : Independent




IMPACT OF LOCKDOWN ON SEISMICITY

Why in news?

  • From a drop in air pollution to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the global coronavirus pandemic has had some surprising effects on the environment. 


Highlights:

  • A new study has revealed that the outbreak has actually changed the way the Earth physically moves. 

  • Researchers from the Royal Observatory of Belgium have reported a drop in seismic noise — the hum of vibrations in the Earth’s crust. 

  • The current mean noise level is 33% lower than before.

  • Just as all-natural occasions such as earthquakes create Planet’s crust to relocate, so do resonances caused by moving lorries and commercial machinery. Although the effects from private resources could be small, with each other they create history noise, which reduces seismologists’ capability to spot various other signals taking place at the same regularity. 

  • The fall in sound might likewise benefit seismologists who utilise normally occurring history resonances, such as those from crashing sea waves, to probe Planet’s crust.


Source : Times of India



NEW CLUES FOR HUMAN EVOLUTION

Why in news?

  • Scientists have solved a longstanding mystery over the age of a landmark skull found in 1921 in Zambia - the first fossil of an extinct human species discovered in Africa - in research with big implications for deciphering the origin of our own species.


Highlights:

  • The study involved the so-called Broken Hill skull, also called the Kabwe skull in recognition of a nearby town, discovered by a Swiss miner working in the Broken Hill lead and zinc mine in what was then Northern Rhodesia. Until now, scientists had been in the dark about how old it was, making it difficult to know its place on the human family tree. 

  • Two sophisticated dating methods have determined the skull to be about 299,000 years old plus or minus 25,000 years. Some experts had hypothesized it was 500,000 years old.

  • This indicates the species represented by the skull was unlikely to have been a direct ancestor of Homo sapiens as some had thought. Our species first appeared more than 300,000 years ago in Africa, later spreading worldwide.

  • Most scientists now assign it to the species Homo heidelbergensis, which inhabited parts of Africa and Europe starting about 600,000 years ago.

  • At least three human species inhabited Africa around 300,000 years ago:

  • Homo sapiens in places like Morocco and Ethiopia,

  • Homo heidelbergensis in south-central Africa, and

  • Homo naledi in South Africa.

  • The skull, dubbed Rhodesian Man when it was discovered, possesses primitive features such as a large face, flat forehead and huge brow ridges. Its brain size fits in the range of our species. 


Source : Reuters



EVIDENCE FOR MID SIZED BLACK HOLE

Why in news?

  • Hubble Space Telescope revealed the strongesr evidence for mid-sized black holes in the universe.


Highlights :

  • Hubble has also confirmed that this "intermediate-mass" black hole dwells inside a dense star. 

  • Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) are a long-sought 'missing link' in black hole evolution. There have been a few other IMBH candidates found to date. 

  • They are smaller than then supermassive black holes that lie at the crores of large galazies but larger than stellar-mass black holes formed by the collapse of massive stars. This news black hole is over 50,000 times the mass of our Sun. IMBHs are hard to find. 

  • Confirming one IMBH opens the door to the possibility that many more lurk undetected in the dark, waiting to be given away by a star passing too close.


Source : ANI



BUTTERFLIES

Why in news?

  • The Tropical Butterfly Conservatory Tiruchirappalli (TBCT) has been developed in Tamil Nadu's Tiruchirappali to create awareness among the public about the importance of the butterfly and its ecology.


Highlights:

  • The diversity of Indian butterflies is assessed to be about 1,501. 

  •  The major threats to butterfly diversity are destruction, degradation and fragmentation of their habitats, grazing, fires and application of pesticides and weedicides in agricultural and urban ecosystems.

  • Butterflies form an important part of nature’s food web, it is very essential to protect the species for ecological balance.

  • The Conservatory is located in the Upper Anaicut Reserve Forest, sandwiched between the Cauvery and Kollidam rivers in Tiruchirappalli.

  • This is considered to be Asia’s largest butterfly park.

  • So far, about 109 butterfly species have been observed here. Eggs of non-scheduled butterfly species are collected and bred in captivity in the in-house incubation laboratory by keeping them in ventilated plastic containers with the leaves of host plants as feed.

  • After attaining the transformation of larva (caterpillar) and pupa (transition), the adult butterfly finally comes out with gorgeous colours and at this stage they are released into the natural habitat.


Source : Down to Earth



ICMR GIVES NOD FOR RAPID ANTIBODY TEST

Why in news?

  • ICMR has issued an advisory to start rapid antibody-based blood test for Coronavirus.


Highlights:

  • The strategy for using the test includes clusters (Containment zones) and large migration gathering or evacuees centres.

  • All asymptomatic ILI(influenza like illness) will be monitored in health facilities.

  • All ILI patients will be home quarantined for 14 days.

  • At facility level, all symptomatic people with influenza-like illness having cough, cold, low-grade fever and sore throat will be tested with rapid antibody tests. 

  • If a patient tests positive after a rapid antibody test, decision will be taken based on clinical assessment and treatment in hospital will follow. As per protocol, contact tracing will also be done. 

  • In case of negative results, RT-PCR may be done if warranted. 


Diagnosis of Corona :

  • Currently, the test methods used for COVID-19 diagnostics takes more than 2-3 days to show the results. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with health problems, it can cause severe symptoms like pneumonia. 

  • The typical diagnostic tests used to diagnose COVID-19 involves testing the samples of mucus and saliva in a lab to see if it contain the coronavirus' genomic sequence. The result can take 24 to 48 hours to show whether the patient has an active infection or not. 

  • Where as an antibody test, also known as serological tests, look for the presence of a virus through a blood test and can give results in 10-15 minutes. However it is not a confirmatory test. It can be used as a pre-screening test to generate data about how many people got exposed to the virus. 

  • RT-PCR Test :

  • The COVID-19 RT-PCR test is a real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) test for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2 in upper and lower respiratory specimens collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider.

  • Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease


Source : Times of India



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