Current Affairs Oct 12

Hydrogen Fuel Cell fitted car

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and KPIT successfully ran trials of India’s first Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) prototype car running on an indigenously developed fuel cell stack at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.
  • The fuel cell is a low temperature PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) type Fuel Cell that operates at 65-75 degree centigrade, which is suitable for vehicular applications.
  • The proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell consists of a cathode, an anode and an electrolyte membrane.
  • Hydrogen is oxidized at the anode and the oxygen is reduced at the cathode.
  • Protons are transported from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte membrane and the electrons are carried over an external circuit load.
  • On the cathode, oxygen reacts with protons and electrons producing heat and forming water as a by-product.
  • CSIR and KPIT have successfully developed a 10 kWe automotive grade LT-PEMFC fuel cell stack.
  • The heart of the PEM fuel cell technology includes the membrane electrode assembly.
  • KPIT brought in their expertise in stack engineering which included light-weight metal bipolar plate and gasket design, development of the balance of plant (BoP),
  • system integration, control software and electric powertrain that enabled running the fuel cell vehicle.
  • The fuel cell stack uses extremely thin metal bipolar plates, thus reducing the stack weight by about two-thirds.
  • In 2016, CSIR-NCL and CSIR-CECRI as part of the Industry Originated Project (IOP) category of the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) scheme partnered with KPIT for the development of an automotive grade PEM Fuel Cell technology.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell (HFC) technology uses chemical reactions between hydrogen and oxygen (from air) to generate electrical energy, eliminating the use of fossil fuels.
  • Further, the fuel cell technology emits only water, thus cutting down the emission of harmful greenhouse gases along with other air pollutants.
  • The technology, with further adoption and use, is poised to make the world a cleaner place with reduced air pollution levels.
  • It is expected that the technology is more suited for commercial vehicles (CV) such as buses and trucks.
  • Battery electric buses/ trucks require a large battery to achieve the desired operating range.
  • In comparison, HFC technology requires a much smaller battery for a very large operating range.
  • Hence, HFC technology offers more promise for the CV segment.




Satark Nagrik Sangathan and the Centre for Equity Studies Report

  • Fifteen years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act came into force, more than 2.2 lakh cases are pending at the Central and State Information Commissions, which are the final courts of appeal under the transparency law.
  • The increasing backlog is exacerbated by the fact that most Commissions are functioning at reduced capacity, including the Central Information Commission (CIC) which has been headless since August.
  • Maharashtra had the highest number of pending appeals, with over 59,000 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (47,923) and the CIC (35,653).
  • At the current rate of disposal, the Odisha Commission would take more than seven years to dispose of all pending complaints, while the CIC would take more than two years.
  • Odisha is functioning with just four commissioners, while Rajasthan has only three.
  • Jharkhand and Tripura have no commissioners at all, and have been defunct for months.
  • The analysis also found that government officials face hardly any punishment for violating the law.
  • Penalties were imposed in only 2.2% of cases that were disposed of, despite previous analysis showing a rate of about 59% violations which should have triggered the process of penalty imposition.
  • This destroys the basic framework of incentives built into the RTI law and promotes a culture of impunity.
  • The need to scrutinise the functioning of information commissions now is perhaps greater than ever before, given the unprecedented crisis gripping the nation due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said the report,
  • Noting that relief and welfare programmes funded through public money are the sole lifeline for millions who have suddenly lost income-earning opportunities after the lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of the disease.
  • At a time when incentives for secrecy are great, and the scope for discretionary actions wide, the role of information commissions is crucial
  • to ensure that people can obtain information on healthcare facilities, social security programs and delivery of essential goods and services meant for those in distress.


 SVAMITVA scheme aims to transform rural India

  • Prime Minister launched the physical distribution of property cards under the ‘Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas’ (SVAMITVA) scheme, calling it a ‘historic move’ set to transform rural India.
  • It will enable nearly one lakh property holders to download their property cards through SMS on their mobile phones and pave the way for villagers to use property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
  • According to the PMO, 763 villages across six states are beneficiaries of this scheme.
  • ­­The six states had signed a MoU with Survey of India for drone survey of rural areas and implementation of the scheme.
  • The physical distribution of the property cards will also be undertaken by the respective state governments.

About Scheme

  • SVAMITVA Scheme is a Central Sector scheme launched by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on National Panchayat Day i.e 24th April 2020.
  • The Ministry of Panchayati Raj (MoPR) is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of the scheme.
  • In the States, the Revenue Department / Land Records Department will be the Nodal Department and shall carry out the scheme with support of State Panchayati Raj Department.
  • Survey of India shall work as the technology partner for implementation.
  • The scheme aims to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India.
  • The demarcation of rural abadi areas would be done using Drone Surveying technology.
  • This would provide the ‘record of rights’ to village household owners possessing houses in inhabited rural areas in villages which, in turn,
  • would enable them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits from Bank.

The scheme seeks to achieve the following objectives: –

  • To bring financial stability to the citizens in rural India by enabling them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits.
  • Creation of accurate land records for rural planning.
  • Determination of property tax, which would accrue to the GPs directly in States where it is devolved or else, add to the State exchequer.
  • Creation of survey infrastructure and GIS maps that can be leveraged by any department for their use.
  • To support in preparation of better-quality Gram Panchayat Development Plan (GPDP) by making use of GIS maps.
  • To reduce property related disputes and legal cases.





8 Indian beaches get coveted Blue Flag certification

  • Eight beaches in India have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag certification.
  • The certification is a global recognition of India’s conservation and sustainable development efforts.
  • The Blue Flag certification is a globally recognised eco-label accorded by “Foundation for Environment Education, Denmark” based on 33 stringent criteria under four major heads —
  • environmental education and information, bathing water quality, environment management and conservation, and safety and services at the beaches.
  • Blue Flag certification has been awarded to eight beaches spread across five states and two union territories by an international jury comprising of
  • Eminent members of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
  • The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO),
  • Denmark-based NGO Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
  • The beaches which have been awarded the certification are Shivrajpur in Gujarat, Ghoghla in Diu, Kasarkod and Padubidri in Karnataka, Kappad in Kerala, Rushikonda in Andhra Pradesh, Golden in Odisha and Radhanagar in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • India has also been awarded the third prize by the jury under the “International Best Practices” for pollution control in coastal regions.
  • India is also the first country in Asia-Pacific region which has achieved this feat in just about 2 years’ time.
  • Japan, South Korea and the UAE are the only other Asian nations who have been conferred with a couple of Blue Flag beaches, however, in a time frame of about five to six years.
  • A Blue Flag beach is an eco-tourism model endeavouring to provide the tourists or beachgoers clean and hygienic bathing water, facilities, safe and healthy environment and sustainable development of the area.
  • The recommendations are made by an independent national jury composed of eminent environmentalists and scientists.
  • Blue Flag beaches are considered the cleanest beaches of the world.





Antimicrobial resistance

  • Health experts at the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) warned that the increased use of antibiotics and the widespread use of hand sanitisers and antimicrobial soaps, which has especially increased multi-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic, can worsen the situation of antimicrobial resistance.
  • Antibiotic resistant organisms have become rigidly established in our environment with many infections failing to respond to available antimicrobials.
  • Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest challenges of modern medicine.
  • This antimicrobial resistance mounts problems beyond the geographical as well as species barriers and can transmit from animals to humans.
  • AMR needs to be addressed in totality by all sectors including healthcare, veterinary and agricultural domains.



1,200-year-old pagan temple

  • Some 1,200 years ago, an ancient civilization would visit a large wooden temple on what is now Norway to pray and make sacrifices to Norse gods such as Odin and Thor – and archaeologists have found evidence of the pagan structure.
  • Archaeologists from the University Museum of Bergen have been excavating a site in the western region of the country and recently uncovered the ‘god house’ that was once a wooden structure and dates to the Viking Age.
  • They say the building was about 45 feet long, 26 feet wide and stood nearly 40 feet high, and was used for worship by seafaring men and women during the midsummer and midwinter solstices.
  • A religious feast or blot as it was called in the Viking Age meant that animals were sacrificed and the meat would be prepared for the gods and ancestors.
  • But, as the gods could not eat the meat and drink the beer, the tribe would do on behalf of them.
  • On the most important days of the year people would meet up at the god house and the priest ‘gode’ would perform rituals and prayers to gods (wooden statues of the gods).
  • Experts have uncovered signs of pagan worship in the region over the years, typically artifacts, but this is the first Old Norse temple discovered.


  • The Viking age in European history was from about 700 to 1,100 AD.
  • During this period many Vikings left their homelands in Scandinavia and travelled by longboat to other countries, like Britain and Ireland.
  • When the people of Britain first saw the Viking longboats they came down to the shore to welcome them.
  • However, the Vikings fought the local people, stealing from churches and burning buildings to the ground.
  • The people of Britain called the invaders ‘Danes’, but they came from Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark.
  • The name ‘Viking’ comes from a language called ‘Old Norse’ and means ‘a pirate raid’.
  • The first Viking raid recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was around 787 AD.
  • It was the start of a fierce struggle between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings.


 Fastest possible speed of sound

  • The fastest possible speed of sound —4 miles per second, nearly twice its speed in air at the Earth’s surface — has been calculated for the first time.
  • British researchers found that such speeds are only possible, however, when passing though metallic hydrogen, as found in the core of the giant planet Jupiter.
  • Sound moves quicker through solids than air because of its higher density.
  • Einstein’s theory of special relativity set the absolute maximum speed at which an electromagnetic wave can travel as 186,282 miles a second — the speed of light.
  • But it was not known whether sound waves also had an upper speed limit, until now.
  • Sound Waves in solids are already hugely important across many fields.
  • For example, seismologists use sound waves initiated by earthquakes deep in the Earth interior to understand the nature of seismic events and the properties of Earth composition.
  • They are also of interest to materials scientists because sound waves are related to important elastic properties including the ability to resist stress.
  • Sound waves are disturbances that move energy from one place to another through different mediums — such as air or water.
  • They move much more rapidly through solids than liquids or gases.
  • This is why, for instance, we are able to hear an approaching train much earlier by listening to the sounds passing down the rail track.
  • By using standard models of physics along with state of the art mechanical calculations, the researchers showed that sound waves can move the fastest in solid atomic hydrogen.
  • This state of the gas is only found at very high pressures — those above 1 million atmospheres — comparable to those found in the core of gas giants like Jupiter.
  • In such conditions, hydrogen becomes a metal with unusual properties conducting electricity just like copper.
  • Findings of this study could have further scientific applications by helping us to find and understand limits of different properties.
  • These properties, include ‘viscosity and thermal conductivity’ — and are ‘relevant for high-temperature superconductivity, quark-gluon plasma and even black hole physics.’



Grímsvötn Volcano

  • A volcano in rural Iceland may be gearing up for an eruption
  • The volcano, called Grímsvötn, is the most active on the island and is almost completely covered by ice.
  • It last erupted in 2011 and spewed an ash cloud 12 miles (20km) into the air, causing the cancellation of 900 flights.
  • Another Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, erupted in 2010 and this caused far more unrest, grounding around 100,000 flights.
  • This is despite Eyjafjallajökull being considerably smaller than Grímsvö
  • Scientists have recorded signs of unrest in the area, with seismic activity indicating magma is swelling in the plumbing of the volcano.
  • All these signs point to an imminent eruption and the next signal which experts are watching for is ‘an intense swarm of earthquakes lasting a few hours’.
  • This will indicate magma is moving upwards and getting primed to blow.
  • The icy roof of Grímsvötn means its eruptions are not as catastrophic as those of other volcanoes.
  • The ash spewed out by the blast collides with a wall of ice, which can be up to 850 feet (260 metres) thick, and clumps up.
  • Instead of being a fine debris that lingers in the atmosphere, it becomes wet and sticky and plummets from the air quickly, limiting disruption and damage.
  • Ash clouds therefore only travel a few tens of kilometres from the eruption site.

What is the Grímsvötn volcano? 

  • Grímsvötn is encased in ice, which absorbs a huge amount of the energy from an eruption. 
  • Instead of the classic image of lava spewing out of a single peak, a Grímsvötn eruption is often stymied by the icy roof.
  • Under normal conditions, intense heat from the volcano melts ice and creates an underground reservoir of meltwater.
  • As ice continues to fall into the hot water, it melts and adds to the volume of the lake.
  • It has a tendency to suddenly escape, and flows downhill to the south, under the ice the entire time.
  • This emerges at a point where the ice ends and has historically been so powerful it can wipe out entire toads.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak

  • Biologists have found a rare Rose-breasted Grosbeak, a bird with both female and male plumage colours, in the United States’
  • The Rose-breasted Grosbeak derives its name from the male of the species who have a ruby-red triangular marking on a white chest and dark black wings with pink wing pits.
  • The females are much less showy, with no patches on its beige body, brown wings and yellow wing pits.
  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks are sexually dimorphic, meaning they have both males and females have different colour plumage.
  • Researchers said the condition is called bilateral gynandromorphism, means the bird is both male and female, with one ovary and one testis.
  • This occurs when two sperm fertilize an egg that has two nuclei instead of one, which results in the egg to develop a chromosome from each sex.
  • Since these birds have left functional ovaries, they could potentially lay eggs.
  • However, it’s survival may depend on whether it makes male mating calls and risk getting attacked by other competitor males in the future.

What is a gynandromorph?

  • A gynandromorph is an organism that has both male and female characteristics – or, a male-female chimaera.
  • It is often seen in insects, though gynandromorphic birds, snakes, lobsters and other animals have been observed, too.
  • The extremely rare phenomenon occurs when two sperm fertilize an egg that has two nuclei instead of one.
  • The egg can develop male sex chromosomes on one side and female on the other, leading to a bird with testis and other male characteristics on one half of its body and an ovary and other female characteristics on the other.
  • Gynandromorphs are not all that uncommon in the wild, though the colouration or markings of some species make the results more striking than others.




Murder Hornets And Furry Puss Caterpillars

  • Months after the Asian giant hornet — a vicious predatory insect popularly dubbed the ‘murder hornet’ —
  • was first spotted in the US state of Washington,
  • health officials in Virginia are now warning residents to watch out for another dangerous critter — the highly venomous furry puss caterpillar.
  • Ever since the first murder hornet was spotted in the Washington state late last year, these insects have destroyed entire beehives and decapitated tens of thousands of bees, threatening crops that rely on pollination.
  • These ferocious creatures have also been known to kill about 50 people in Japan every year, mostly as a result of allergic reactions.

But what are these insects and what has led to their sudden resurgence in the United States?

  • The furry puss caterpillar, named after the far less vicious house cat, is essentially a southern flannel moth in its larva stage.
  • According to experts, after metamorphosis, the insect no longer poses a threat.
  • Closely resembling a wig or toupée, the caterpillar is widely regarded as one of the most poisonous of its kind in the United States.
  • Touching or accidentally brushing against the hairy coat of these insects could cause a painful reaction and trigger symptoms such as fever, muscle cramps or swollen glands.
  • The bristly hair that coats it, hides small and toxic spikes that can get lodged in a person’s skin and cause immediate and intensely burning pain.
  • The severity of the sting depends on its location as well as how many spines get embedded in the skin.
  • The caterpillar can also sometimes leave its victim with an itchy rash that appears in a red grid-like pattern.
  • The caterpillars, which subsist solely on oak and elm leaves, are commonly found in parks and near structures.

What is the murder hornet and what is the threat it poses to agriculture?

  • In November last year, two unusual hornets were spotted near Blaine, Washington.
  • After studying the insects closely, scientists identified them as the Asian giant hornets, the world’s largest wasps, which are known to grow up to nearly two inches in length.
  • Native to East Asia and Japan, these predators are infamous for ruthlessly ripping apart honeybees and decimating their hives.
  • However, they also pose a threat to human beings.
  • Their potent stingers deliver venom that has killed hundreds of people across the world.
  • Researchers and foresters fear the impact of these insects on the country’s agriculture that is dependent on honey bee pollination.
  • Pollination is a very significant part of the agricultural process and a vast number of crops are dependent on honeybees, which serve as primary pollinators.
  • European honey bees, commonly found in North America, are no match for the Asian giant hornet.
  • A small group of hornets can destroy an entire colony of bees in less than 90 minutes with their shark-fin shaped mandibles.

What has led to a rise in the population of both insects in the United States?

  • According to experts, climate change has a significant role to play in the sudden appearance and subsequent rise in population of several different insects over the last decade.
  • Scientists believe that the population of the furry puss caterpillar will be kept in check by its natural predators.
  • But they will be forced to intervene if the numbers surge suddenly and dramatically.
  • Meanwhile, in the case of the ‘murder hornets’, many believe that they spread across the western parts of Washington due to the expansive wooded landscapes and mild, wet climate that the state offers.



Gateway Programme

  • European space officials will this week unveil detailed plans for a series of ambitious missions aimed at returning humans to the moon in the next few years.
  • Projects will include construction of crew quarters for an orbiting lunar space station, making the power and propulsion units for America’s Orion spacecraft, and designing and building a sophisticated communication and refuelling unit, known as Esprit, to serve astronauts on the lunar surface.
  • These missions will be carried out jointly with Nasa and the Japanese and Canadian space agencies.
  • Planning for the programme – known as Gateway – has been going on for years, but now final contracts with European aerospace companies are about to be signed and will be announced at International Astronautical Congress.
  • The aim of the programme was to get the first astronauts to the moon by 2024.
  • The first sets of astronauts who will fly to the moon were very likely to include a European.
  • The aim of the Gateway programme is to open up the moon to scientific scrutiny in the same way that Antarctica was opened up in the second half of the last century.
  • One key aim of Gateway will be to explore the moon’s south pole for the presence of frozen water.
  • Evidence from robot probes suggest that ice exists there and finding it would have a crucial bearing on the construction of future lunar colonies.
  • Separating water into its constituent elements of oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis could then provide fuel and air for astronauts.
  • The main vehicle used to ferry astronauts to the moon will be the Orion spacecraft, which is scheduled to make its uncrewed maiden flight on Nasa’s giant Space Launch System (SLS) rocket next year.
  • Esa has already provided the power and propulsion units for the first Orion flight and is set to build a further five units.





Dust causing rapid snow and ice melt in western Himalayas

  • Dust blowing in from the Thar desert in northwestern India, from Saudi Arabia and the Sahara desert in north Africa is causing a rapid melting of snow in the western Himalayas, according to a new study.
  • The researchers found that due to climate change, wind patterns had changed, which were blowing dust in the direction of the Himalayas.
  • Due to human-induced land use changes, there were no longer enough trees in the area that could stop the dust as there used to be.
  • Pure white snow reflects all heat. However, that is not the case with ‘dirty snow’.
  • This is called the ‘albedo effect’, which is the measure of an object to reflect sunlight.
  • Because the dust travelling to the Himalayas deposits on the snow and ice, it causes it to reflect sunlight poorly. This, in turn, causes it to melt.
  • The increase in dust in the Himalayas could have catastrophic consequences for people living in parts of India, China and southeast Asia, who depend on Himalayan glacial melt for their water needs.



Worlds oldest tropical peatland found in Indonesia

  • A team of researchers claimed to have discovered what could possibly be the oldest tropical peatland in the world.
  • Peatlands are a type of soil made from organic matter such as wood and leaves.
  • The site was found near the city of Putussibau, on the Indonesian-administered area of the island of Borneo.
  • It was dated to be formed at least 47,800 years ago, according to radiocarbon dating.
  • The discovery of the site suggested that the region had remained sufficiently wet and warm enough during the last ice age to support the growth of peat.
  • The site was found to be 17 to 18 metres deep. The average peat depth in Indonesia is 5 to 6 metres.
  • Peatlands store a lot of carbon and play an important role in the carbon cycle.
  • Indonesia’s ancient peatlands are increasingly becoming threatened due to changes in land use.



Two relatives of the Rubella virus found

  • Two teams of scientists have discovered two new relatives of the Rubella virus.
  • The Rubella virus was first described by George Maton in 1814.
  • Henry Veale gave it the name ‘Rubella’ in 1866. However, it was only in 1962 that its full impact was identified.
  • An airborne, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and fetal development defects during pregnancy. It is not known in animals.
  • It has largely been eradicated due to an effective vaccine.
  • Till now, it was thought the Rubella virus was the sole member in its family Matonaviridae.
  • A team of African and American scientists discovered the ‘ruhugu’ virus in insect-eating, cyclops leaf-nosed bats in the Ruteete Sub County in Uganda.
  • Meanwhile, another team of researchers discovered the ‘rustrela’ virus in mice in Germany.
  • It was at Kibale that one of the two new viral relatives was found in the aptly named cyclops leaf-nosed bat.
  • The bat virus has been named ruhugu.
  • Rustrela was found at an unidentified German zoo in three animals — a donkey, a Bennett’s tree-kangaroo and a capybara, the largest rodent in the world. All three zoo animals died after suffering severe neurological disease.
  • The virus also was found in yellow-necked field mice in and around the zoo. The mice appear to have remained healthy.
  • The discovery of the two rubella relatives may also aid efforts to develop treatment for more than 100,000 babies around the world stricken each year with congenital rubella syndrome.
  • The syndrome, in which the virus passes from mother to fetus during pregnancy, can result in the baby suffering loss of hearing, loss of sight, heart disease or other birth defects.
  • Many cases of congenital rubella syndrome result in stillbirths, miscarriages and fetal malformations.
  • The rubella vaccine was approved for widespread use in 1969, and infections then declined rapidly.


 Delhi girl is British high commissioner for a day

  • Delhi girl Chaitanya Venkateswaran recently became the British high commissioner to India for a day.
  • The 18-year-old won the ‘High Commissioner for the Day’ contest organised by the mission in the run-up to the International Day of the Girl Child, which is on October 11.
  • A student of international studies and economics at Washington’s American University, Venkateswaran has been an active volunteer in the field of disability, working with visually challenged students, acid attack survivors and marginalised LGBT groups.
  • The contest has been organised annually by the British high commission since 2017.
  • The annual competition is open to Indian women aged 18 to 23.
  • This year, entrants were invited to submit a one-minute video on social media on the question – ‘What global challenges and opportunities do you see for gender equality in the age of Covid-19?’


Blocking key protein may guard against severe Covid-19

  • A new study suggests that blocking a human protein may curtail the potentially deadly inflammatory reactions that many patients have to the novel coronavirus.
  • The protein is known as factor D, and the researchers say there may already be drugs in development for other diseases that can block this protein.
  • Scientists already know that spike proteins on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 are the means by which it attaches to cells targeted for infection.
  • The spikes first grab hold of a molecule called heparan sulfate, then uses the human protein ACE2 as its doorway into the attacked cell.
  • In a series of experiments, researchers in the new study used normal human blood serum and three subunits of the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to discover exactly how the virus hijacks the immune system and endangers normal cells.
  • The team found that by blocking factor D, they were able to stop the destructive chain of events triggered by SARS-CoV-2.



‘Asteroid’ hurtling towards Earth may be a piece of rocket

  • Back in 1966, the Nasa team behind an attempted Moon landing thought they would never see their rocket again after it was swept into the Sun’s orbit.
  • Now, however, it would appear to be hurtling back towards Earth at 1,500mph.
  • A telescope in Hawaii discovered the mystery object last month.
  • It’s estimated to be about 26ft long – roughly the length of a bus.
  • It was initially thought to be an asteroid and was given the name ‘Asteroid 2020 SO’, but it is now believed to be part of a Centaur rocket that propelled America’s Surveyor 2 lander to the Moon 54 years ago.
  • After releasing its payload, the rocket swept past the Moon and went into orbit around the Sun.
  • The lander, meanwhile, ended up crashing into the Moon after one of its thrusters failed to ignite.



Healing touch of Homoeopathy for Skin Diseases

  • There are many who certify that Homoeopathy can do wonders in cases of skin related viral diseases.
  • Treatment of five patients suffering with five different skin diseases with Homoeopathy has given notable results which give a boost to the conviction of the positive effects of Homoeopathic medicine on such skin disorders.
  • Skin diseases are numerous and frequently occurring health problem affecting all ages not only India, but globally also.
  • The Global Burden of Disease project has shown the skin diseases continue to be the 4th leading cause of non-fatal disease burden world-wide.
  • Experts engaged with Homoeopathy treatment opine that Homeopathic approach to common viral skin diseases can be a game changer in offering affordable and effective solutions to a large number of people.
  • The case study was done on five patients with Wart, Herpes Zoster and Molluscan Contagiosum.
  • Skin warts are benign tumours caused by infection of keratinocytes. Herpes Zoster results from reactivation of varicella-zoster virus (that also causes chickenpox).
  • On the other hand, Molluscan contagiosum is a viral skin infection caused by closely related types of Pox Virus, and is common with children worldwide, especially in warm climates.
  • It is known that Homoeopathy treats the patient, not the disease.
  • Thus, the skin manifestations were treated by the means of internal medication following the principles of Homoeopathy, in these cases.
  • It has come out that the medicines were able to not only remove or dissolute the skin lesion efficiently, but also to provide relief to the associated symptoms of the patient.
  • Not only that, none of the patients complained about any adverse effect during the treatment.


Nobel Prize in Economics

  • The Nobel prize for economics was awarded to two US game theory specialists, 26 years after John Nash – the Princeton academic depicted by Russell Crowe in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind – won for his groundbreaking work on the same subject.
  • Americans Paul R Milgrom and Robert B Wilson won for the designs of mathematical models that promote “improvements to auction theory and inventions of new auction formats.
  • The discoveries of Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson “have benefitted sellers, buyers and taxpayers around the world.
  • The auction formats developed by the winners have been used to sell radio frequencies, fishing quotas and airport landing slots.
  • Auction theory, which is a branch of game theory, was developed during the late 1970s and early 1980s
  • after a group of researchers set about building mathematical models
  • that could introduce incentives and information into the auction bidding process
  • to maintain a fair market and prevent collusion among the bidders.


  • John Nash developed the Nash equilibrium to analyse situations of conflict and co-operation and produce predictions about how people will behave.
  • Nash’s famous equilibrium has found application in fields as diverse as computing, evolutionary biology and artificial intelligence.
  • The award, which comes with 10m krona (£850,000) cash prize and a gold medal, caps a week of Nobel prizes and is technically known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
  • Since its establishment in 1969, it has been awarded 51 times and is widely considered one of the Nobel prizes.
  • Last year’s award went to two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a third from Harvard University for pioneering on-the-ground experiments to discover the most effective ways to tackle poverty in the developing world.
  • There was speculation ahead of the award that American Claudia Goldin, whose research has focused on inequality and the female labour force, would become the third woman to receive the prize.

The Guardian


Nirbhay Missile

  • The Nirbhay subsonic cruise missile, having a range of around 1,000 km, developed a technical snag during a test firing at a facility in Odisha, forcing its developer DRDO to abort the trial.
  • The missile was test-fired by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from an integrated test range in Balasore in Odisha.
  • The DRDO has already carried out several successful trials of the ‘Nirbhay’ missile since October 2014.
  • The state-of-the-art missile, which can be deployed from multiple platforms, has a speed less than that of sound (Mach 0.8).
  • Powered by a solid rocket motor booster developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL), the missile has an operational range of 1000 km.
  • India has test-fired a number of missiles including a new version of the surface-to-surface supersonic cruise missile BrahMos and anti-radiation missile Rudram-1.
  • India also carried out successful test-firing of a laser-guided anti-tank missile and nuclear-capable hypersonic missile ‘Shaurya’.
  • The successful test firing of Rudram-1 is seen as a major milestone as it is India’s first indigenously developed anti-radiation weapon.
  • The flight testing of the missiles comes in the midst of India’s bitter border row with China in eastern Ladakh.

The Hindu