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Syllabus subtopic: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life. Prelims and Mains focus: about the working of Li-ion battery: advantages and disadvantages; about India’s efforts to indigenously manufacture them Background for Lithium Ion Battery Indian manufacturers source Li-ion batteries from China, Japan and South Korea and the country is among the largest importers in the world. China dominates the Li-ion battery market. Accord
Quantum Technology Part of: GS Prelims and GS-III- S&T (Editorial plus) What is this technology? Quantum computers perform calculations based on the probability of an object's state before it is measured - instead of just 1s or 0s - which means they have the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers. Classical computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state. These are usually binary, meaning
Genes Gene is a sequence of DNA or RNA that codes for a molecule that has a function. They are made of DNA and is a subdivision of DNA. They are packed in Chromosomes. Genes contain the bio-information that defines any individual. Physical attributes like height, skin or hair colour, more subtle features and even behavioural traits can be attributed to information encoded in the genetic material. A genome is the DNA or sequence of genes in a cell. Human geno
Analysis of Indian Genes What is the news? Recently, the results from the computation analysis of the 1029 sequenced genomes from India were published in the scientific journal, Nucleic Acid Research. The analysis has found that out of 55,898,122 single nucleotide variants in India 18,016,257 (32.23%) variants are unique and found only in the samples sequenced from India. This emphasizes the need for an India centric population genomic initiative. The analysis was carried out by C
PLACID Trials Recently, the PLACID Trial, a multicentre randomized controlled trial, has shown that the use of convalescent plasma (CP) as a therapeutic for Covid-19 patients showed no positive effects and did not improve the outcome of the patients. The randomised controlled trial (RCT) is a trial in which subjects are randomly assigned to one of two groups: one (the experimental group) receiving the intervention that is being tested, and the other (the comparison group or control) rece
Would space exploration survive in the era of privatisation? Context Perhaps the most stunning instance of a collaboration between public enterprises and the private sector in recent times is that between NASA and SpaceX. It is stunning because of the sheer extent of the frontier it is trying to breach. With its reusable rockets, large capsules to carry payloads and crew and competitive pricing, SpaceX has revolutionised the space sector. The latest instances of this include th
Dry Swab RT-PCR Covid-19 Test. Recently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) has got the permission of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to commercially use the dry swab RNA-extraction free testing method for the Covid-19. Key Points About: Dry swab method has a consistency of 96.9%. The comparison of conventional (swab-VTM-RNA extraction-RT-PCR) and the si
Brain Fingerprinting The accused in Hathras rape case will undergo brain fingerprinting. Key takeaways Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) is also known as brain fingerprinting. It is a neuropsychological method of interrogation in which the accused’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying their brain’s response. The BEOSP test is carried out via a process known as an electroencephalogram, conducted to study the electrical beh
Blue Tide phenomenon observed in Maharashtra Over the last few days, visitors to beaches in Maharashtra have witnessed the fluorescent bluish glow when the waves hit the shoreline. Key takeaways The phenomenon is called ‘blue tide’. It appears when luminescent marine life makes the sea appear a deep shade of blue. It occurs when phytoplankton (microscopic marine plants), commonly known as dinoflagellates, produce light through chemical reactions in proteins. Waves
Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network The Indian government is using eVIN (Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network) in association with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to identify primary beneficiaries and vaccine distribution networks. Evin is an indigenously developed technology. It digitises vaccine stocks and monitors the temperature of the cold chain through a smartphone application. The innovative eVIN was first launched across 12 states in 2015 to suppor
Sea Guardian Drones from US Recently, two American MQ9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones have been inducted by the Indian Navy. It is the maritime variant of the Predator MQ9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).
New variant of Coronavirus in UK? Coronavirus is a highly important topic for UPSC Mains and Prelims examination 2021. It is a part of GS Paper II and GS Paper III under Science and Technology. The first Variant Under Investigation in December 2020 (VUI – 202012/01), also known as lineage B.1.1.7, is a variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The variant was first detected in the United Kingdom in October 2020 from a sample taken the previous month, and it quickly b
Analysis of Scientific publishing works What is the issue? Three scientific publishers — Elsevier, Wiley, and the American Chemical Society (ACS) — led a suit against Alexandra Elbakyan of Kazakhstan and others in the Delhi High Court on December 21, 2020. The case will reportedly be heard this wee
New strain of COVID-19 in Nigeria GS Paper III - S&T Coronavirus (PT-Mains-Interview) Context: Coronavirus is a highly important topic for UPSC Mains and Prelims examination 2021. It is a part of GS Paper II and GS Paper III under Science and Technology. Another new variant of the novel coronavirus seems to have emerged in Nigeria. The news comes after Britain and South Africa both reported new variants of the SARSCoV2 virus that appear to be more contagious
Evolution of Life Chemists have come up with a new proposition for how life may have begun. In a study published in Angewandte Chemie, the researchers showed a simple compound diamidophosphate could have knitted together the building blocks of DNA to form the primordial structures. The possibility is that DNA and RNA arose together and that the first life forms were a mixture of the two.
Nendran Banana grit or granules Scientists at the CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST) at Pappanamcode in Kerala have come up with a new product, banana grit or granules, developed from raw Nendran bananas. Billed as an ideal ingredient for a healthy diet, banana grit can be used for making a wide range of dishes, according to the NIIST. The product resembles ‘Rava’ and broken wheat. “The concept was introduced to utilis
Quantum Technology In last year’s budget session, the Finance Minister of the Government of India proposed that Rs.8,000 crore be set aside to develop quantum science and technology. The detailed project report for a National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications (NM-QTA) has been drawn out and finalised, and in the next couple of months, this mission might get approval. Recognising the importance of quantum technology, the Department of Science and Technology of the G
Identical twins are not exactly genetically the same Scientists in Iceland sequenced DNA from 387 pairs of identical twins – those derived from a single fertilized egg – as well as from their parents, children and spouses. That allowed them to find “early mutations that separate identical twins. A mutation means an alteration in a sequence of DNA – a tiny change that is not inherently good or bad, but can influence physical features or susceptibility to certain
Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) CSIR is the largest R&D organisation in India. CSIR has a pan-India presence and has a dynamic network of 38 national laboratories, 39 outreach centres, 3 Innovation Complexes and 5 units. It was established in Sep 1942 with HQ at Delhi. CSIR is funded by MoS&T and it operates as an autonomous body through the Societies Registration Act, 1860. CSIR covers a wide spectrum of strea
Draft Science Policy, 2020 On March 4, 1958, under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru, for the first time in the history of independent India, Parliament passed a resolution on science policy. The resolution stated: “Science... has provided new tools of thought and has extended man’s mental horizon. It has thus influenced even the basic values of life, and given to civilization a new vitality and a new dynamism.” The resolution said the aim of the scientific polic
How Neutrinos help in the death of massive stars? Many stars, towards the end of their lifetimes, form supernovas - massive explosions that send their outer layers shooting into the surrounding space. Most of the energy of the supernova is carried away by neutrinos – tiny particles with no charge and which interact weakly with matter. Researching the mechanisms of the so called Type II supernovas, a team from IIT Guwahati has come up with new insights into the part played by n
China’s nuclear power plant China National Nuclear Corporation said its first nuclear power unit that uses Hualong One, a third-generation reactor, started commercial operation. The reactor, located in Fuqing city in China’s southeastern Fujian province, was designed to have a 60-year lifespan, with its core equipment domestically produced. Each unit of the Hualong No. 1 has a capacity of 1.161 million kilowatts and can meet the annual domestic electricity demand of 1 million p
Raman Effect- National Science Day National Science Day National Science Day, which fell on February 28, commemorates a path-breaking discovery of Raman Effect. Three more physicists from Calcutta, namely Jagadish Chandra Bose, Satyendra Nath Bose and Meghnad Saha, had by then made major contributions that were globally acclaimed. It seems very thoughtful and rational that our National Science Day celebrates a discovery (Raman Effect) and not the birthday of its discoverer.
Development of Synthetic Flavonoids Recently, scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune have found the first synthetic route for producing flavonoid molecules related to the treatment of tuberculosis and chikungunya. Key takeaways It is for the first time that the flavonoid molecules such as rugosa flavonoids, podocare flavone and isoflavone have been synthesised in a lab. These three molecules have so far been isolated from plants only. These are par
Swadeshi Microprocessor Challenge launched Launched by: Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) Aim: To provide further impetus to the strong ecosystem of Start-up, innovation and research in the country. To realize the ambition of self-reliance. Indigenously developed microprocessors SHAKTI and VEGA have also been rolled out under the Microprocessor Development Programme. Microprocessor Development Programme Aim: Meeting Ind
About National Hydrogen Energy Mission, 2021-22 The Union Budget for 2021-22 has announced a National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM) to draw up a road map for using hydrogen as an energy source. This initiative can transform transportation. NHM initiative will capitalise on one of the most abundant elements on earth (Hydrogen) for a cleaner alternative fuel option. About NHEM: Focus on the generation of hydrogen from green power resources. To link India’s growing renew
Asteroid 2001 FO32 Asteroid 2001 FO32 is the largest asteroid that passed by Earth in 2021. It was discovered 20 years ago by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) program in Socorro, New Mexico in 2001. When it is at its closest to Earth, it is at a distance of 2 million km (Equal to 5¼ times the distance between Earth & moon). So, it has been designated as a “potentially hazardous asteroid”. The reason for the asteroid’s close appr
Green Hydrogen- India’s push through National Hydrogen Energy Mission Introduction India will soon join 15 other countries in the hydrogen club as it prepares to launch the National Hydrogen Energy Mission (NHEM). Important data The global target is to produce 1.45 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2023. Currently, India consumes around 5.5 million tonnes of hydrogen, primarily produced from imported fossil fuels. In 2030, according to an analysis by the Council
Bitcoin push by El salvador Introduction On June 9, El Salvador became the first sovereign nation to make a cryptocurrency legal tender. The law pushed by its 39-year-old President, Nayib Bukele, passed with 62 out of 84 votes. It mandates that Bitcoin should now be accepted as a valid payment by all establishments, except those that do not have the technical wherewithal to do so. This puts the digital currency that does not answer to any government monetary policies on the sam
Illegal sale of HT Bt Cotton doubled What is Genetic Engineering? Through genetic engineering, scientists are able to move desirable genes from one plant or animal to another or from a plant to an animal or vice versa. In essence, genetic engineering is a technology wherein a specific gene can be selected and implanted into the recipient organism. The process of genetic engineering involves splicing an area of a chromosome, a gene, that controls a certain characteristic of the body.
Assam planted the World's first-ever genetically modified rubber plant World’s first GM Rubber plant in Assam A Rubber Board research farm on the outskirts of Guwahati now sports the world’s first genetically modified (GM) rubber plant tailored for the climatic conditions in the Northeast. The GM rubber has additional copies of the gene MnSOD, or manganese-containing superoxide dismutase, inserted in the plant, which is expected to tide over the severe cold conditions
Cryptocurrency and China China’s central bank said all financial transactions involving cryptocurrencies are illegal, sounding the death knell for the digital trade in China after a crackdown on the volatile currencies. What is Blockchain Technology? Blockchains are a new data structure that is secure, cryptography-based, and distributed across a network. The technology supports cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and the transfer of any data or digit
Rajasthan gets genome sequencing laboratory The facility for genome sequencing to identify new variants of SARS-CoV-2 has been started at Sawai Man Singh Government Medical College here, making Rajasthan the first State in the country to have such a provision for complete sequencing at the State level. The facility had been made available in the State at a cost of ?1 crore for getting information about new variants of the virus. The samples from the State were so far being sent to the
Production Linked Incentive scheme “National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell Battery Storage” The Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Department of Heavy Industry for the implementation of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme 'National Programme on Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage’ for achieving manufacturing capacity of Fifty (50) Giga Watt Hour (GWh) of ACC and 5 GWh of "Niche" ACC with an outlay of Rs.18,100 crore. Advance
Genome sequencing in India The facility for genome sequencing to identify new variants of SARS-CoV-2 has been started at Sawai Man Singh Government Medical College here, making Rajasthan the first State in the country to have such a provision for complete sequencing at the State level. The facility had been made available in the State at a cost of ?1 crore for getting information about new variants of the virus. The samples from the State were so far being sent to the Institute of Gen
Everything about: Gravitational Waves Gravitational Waves (GW): When 2 black holes merge, it will radiate GW. GW are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. They are extremely weak so are very difficult to detect. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. These ripples travel at the sp
DBT-NIBMG creates the world’s first database of genomic variants of oral cancer DBT-National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani an Autonomous Institute funded by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India has created a database of genomic variations in oral cancer; the first of its kind in the world. NIBMG has made this database publicly-accessible. dbGENVOC is a browsable online database of GENomic Variants of Oral Cancer and is a free resou
Automated Train Toilet Sewerage Disposal System Automated Train Toilet Sewerage Disposal System: 7 times cheaper alternative to Biotoilets An automated technology for collection of toilet waste which is easy to maintain and seven times cheaper alternative to the bio-toilets, developed by an Indian scientist, can be used to maintain the toilet system of the Indian Railways. Existing Bio toilets use anaerobic bacteria for converting human waste to gas, but that bacteria can’t
Indian scientists discover materials that self-repair mechanical damages New materials may soon make it possible for damaged electronic components, such as in space crafts, to mend themselves. The materials recently developed by scientists can repair their own mechanical damages with the electrical charges generated by the mechanical impact on them. Devices that we use daily often break down due to mechanical damage, forcing us either to repair or replace them. This decreases the life of
PM's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) Govt scraps Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) and replace it with PM's Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) It has 2 functions Act as a high-level advisory body to several ministries. Execute Mission-oriented programmes. It has 9 members. Unlike the earlier SACs, Secretaries of various scientific ministries like Education, Environment and Health would be
I-STEM Web Portal: Phase II The Indian Science Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM), the national web portal for sharing R&D facilities was formally launched in January 2020. I-STEM (www.istem.gov.in) is an initiative of the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Govt. of India (PSA, GOI) under the aegis of the Prime Minister Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) mission. I-STEM project has been accorded extension for five ye
Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy, 2013 The policy seeks to focus on both STIs for people and people for STIs. It aims to bring all the benefits of STI to national development and sustainable and more inclusive growth. It seeks the right sizing of gross expenditure on R&D by encouraging private sector participation in R&D, Technology and Innovation. It also wants to bring gender parity in STI activities and gaining global competitiv
National IPR Policy, 2016 (1st IPR Policy) It came in the backdrop of the USTR Special 301 Report (on Global State of IPR Protection and Enforcement) retaining India on the 'Priority Watch List. ‘Creative India, Innovative India’ is the tagline of the policy. This is to incentivize entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and curb the manufacturing and sale of counterfeits. Objectives: IPR Awareness, outreach and promotion; Create an atmosphere of in
Genetic Engineering What is Genetic Engineering? Through genetic engineering, scientists are able to move desirable genes from one plant or animal to another or from a plant to an animal or vice versa. In essence, genetic engineering is a technology wherein a specific gene can be selected and implanted into the recipient organism. The process of genetic engineering involves splicing an area of a chromosome, a gene, that controls a certain characteristic of the body. For exampl
Nuclear Fusion Energy What is Nuclear Fusion? Fusion is the energy source of the Sun and stars. In the tremendous heat and gravity at the core of these stellar bodies, hydrogen nuclei collide, fuse into heavier helium atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy in the process. Nuclear fusion is defined as the combining of several small nuclei into one large nucleus with the subsequent release of huge amounts of energy. Nuclear fusion powers our sun and harnessing this fusion en
Mission Samudrayan – India’s first Manned Ocean Mission About Mission Samudayan Based on the experience gained over two decades in the development of unmanned robotic vehicles and systems for 6000 m operational capability, MoES-NIOT is indigenously developing a manned submersible with a depth capability of 6000 meters under the aegis of Deep Ocean Mission. The manned submersible is designed to carry three persons in 2.1-meter diameter Titanium Alloy Personnel Sphere
Jigyasa: Scientist – Student Connect Programme Since the Jigyasa program launch in 2017, Jigyasa was successful in connecting nearly 3,00,000 students and more than 5,000 teachers with CSIR and they have benefited directly through visits to CSIR labs. The majority of the CSIR labs are participating in this program and subsequently, MoU has been signed with Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya and also with Atal Tinkering Labs of NITI AAYOG. The major stakeholders for the p
ACROSS Scheme The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today gave its approval for the continuation of the umbrella scheme "Atmosphere & Climate Research-Modelling Observing Systems & Services (ACROSS)" along with its eight sub-schemes to the next finance cycle of five years i.e. 2021-2026 at an estimated cost of Rs.2,135 crore. ACROSS Scheme One of the mandates of the Ministry of Earth Sciences is to observe the weather
O SMART Scheme The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today gave its approval for the continuation of the umbrella scheme "Ocean Services, Modelling, Application, Resources, and Technology (O-SMART)" of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, for implementation during the period from 2021-26 at an overall cost of Rs. 2177 crore. What is O SMART Scheme? The scheme encompasses seven sub-schemes namely Ocean Technology, Ocean Modelli
National Initiative for Design Innovation (NIDI) The government launched the scheme “National Initiative for Design Innovation (NIDI)” in March 2014. The scheme envisaged the establishment of 20 Design Innovation Centres (DIC), One Open Design School (ODS) and One National Design Innovation Network (NDIN) across the country for promoting the culture of innovation, design and creative problem-solving. Presently, 20 DICs have been established on Hub-Spoke Model wi
Google's ‘Street View’ Recently, Google announced the launch of its popular ‘Street View’ feature in India – after failing to bring the experience to India at least twice in the past decade following security concerns raised by the government agencies over the collection of data. What is Google Street View? Google Street View is an immersive 360-degree view of a location captured using special cameras mounted on vehicles or on backpacks by dat
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Nallathamby Kalaiselvi, a senior electrochemical scientist, has been named the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research's first female Director General. Her appointment is for a period of two years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post or until further orders, whichever is earlier For more than 25 years, Kalaiselvi has been conducting research on electrochemical power systems, with a particular emphas
ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD EMISSION The Minister of State for Communications recently claimed that India's high levels of electromagnetic fields have no effect on the environment in a written response to a Rajya Sabha inquiry. What are Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Emissions? Invisible magnetic and electric fields of force combine to form electromagnetic fields. Differential voltages produce electric fields; the stronger the voltage, the stronger the resulting field. Electric c
Carbon Dating Method The District Court in Varanasi allowed a petition seeking Carbon Dating of the structure inside the Gyanvapi mosque that the Hindu side has claimed is a ‘Shivling’. What is Carbon dating? It is a widely-used method applied to establish the age of organic material, things that were once living. Living things have carbon in them in various forms. The dating method makes use of the fact that a particular isotope of carbon called C-14, with an a
Partial Solar Eclipse On October 25, various portions of India witnessed a partial solar eclipse for the first time in more than ten years. It also marks the last solar eclipse of the year. A solar eclipse is what? A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves in front of the Sun, blocking some of the Sun's light from reaching Earth. An eclipse never occurs on its own. A solar eclipse often occurs two weeks either before or after a lunar eclipse. Recent partial solar e
Rare Earth Elements The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has urged the government to encourage private mining in the sector and diversify supply sources in light of India's reliance on China for rare earth minerals imports. Despite having 6% of the world's rare earth reserves, India produces only 1% of global output and imports the majority of its rare earth minerals from China. In 2018-19, for example, China accounted for 92% of rare earth metal imports by value and 97%
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