Improved method of imaging objects through fog
Why in News?
- Imaging of objects in foggy weather conditions may now be clearer. Researchers have found a method that can improve the images captured on such days.
- The technique involves modulating the light source and demodulating them at the observer’s end.
- The team modulated the light source and demodulated them at the observer’s end to achieve sharper images.
- Researchers chose ten red LED lights as the source of light. Then, they modulated this source of light by varying the current flowing through the LEDs at a rate of about 15 cycles per second.
- The researchers kept a camera at a distance of 150 metres from the LEDs. The camera captured the image and transmitted it to a desktop computer.
- Then, computer algorithms used the knowledge of the modulation frequency to extract the characteristics of the source. This process is called ‘demodulation’.
- The demodulation of the image had to be done at a rate that was equal to the rate of modulation of the source of light to get a clear image.
- The team saw a marked improvement in the image quality using the modulation-demodulation technique.
- The cost of the technique is low, requiring only a few LEDs and an ordinary desktop computer, which can execute the technique within a second.
- The method can improve the landing techniques of aeroplanes by providing the pilot with a good view of beacons on the runway, significantly better than relying only on reflected radio waves as is presently the case.
- The technique can help reveal obstacles in the path that would otherwise be hidden by fog in rail, sea, and road transportation and would also help spotting lighthouse beacons.
Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC) Industrial Fellowship programme
Why in News?
- The Indo-German Science & Technology Centre (IGSTC) Industrial Fellowship programme was launched by Department of Science and Technology, on the occasion of IGSTC’s 11th Foundation day on 14th June 2021.
- The IGSTC Industrial Fellowship shall support young Indian PhD students and Post-Doctoral researchers in Science & Engineering for industrial exposure at German industries and industrial R&D institutions.
- Supported by an attractive grant for a maximum of one year, the fellowship aims to motivate young Indian researchers towards applied research and build capacity to foster innovation and technology development through exposure at advanced German industrial ecosystems.
- IGSTC was established by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Govt. of India & Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Govt. of Germany to facilitate Indo-German R&D networking with emphasis on industry participation, applied research and technology development.
- IGSTC, through its flagship program ‘2+2 Projects’, has been supporting innovation-centric R&D projects by synergising the strength of research and academic institutions and public/private industries from India and Germany.
Sea Plane Services
Why in News?
- A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and Ministry of Civil Aviation for development of Sea Plane services in India was signed.
- This MoU envisages development of Non Scheduled/Scheduled operation of seaplane services within territorial jurisdiction of India under RCS-UDAN scheme of government of India.
- As per MoU, a Co-ordination Committee with officials of Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) and Ministry of Tourism (MoT) is to be set up for timely completion of operationalisation of Seaplane services at various locations.
- MoPSW would identify and develop water front infrastructure of Aerodromes/locations and obtain required statutory clearances /approvals in coordination with MoCA, DGCA and AAI by defining the timelines for all activities involved in the development of facilities for starting seaplanes operations.
- MoCA would carry out bidding and select potential airlines operators based on their commercial consideration through bidding process, incorporate the locations/routes as identified by MoPSW & routes identified through bidding process in UDAN scheme.
- MoCA is also obliged to provide funds/financial support in respect of water aerodromes awarded under RCS-UDAN scheme and coordinate with Chief Secretaries of all States for the Seaplanes operations.
- RCS-UDAN, “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik” is a Government of India’s flagship program which aims to provide affordable, economically viable and profitable air travel on regional routes.
- This Regional Connectivity Scheme offers unique opportunity to a common man to fly at an affordable price.
Mandatory Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery
Why in News?
- Mandatory Hallmarking of Gold Jewellery is going to come into force from 16th June, 2021.
Based on extensive consultations with stakeholders, following decisions were taken-
- Hallmarking will be initially be starting from.256 districts of the country which have Assaying marking centres.
- Jewellers with annual turnover upto Rs. 40 lac will be exempted from mandatory Hall Marking.
- Export and re-import of jewelry as per Trade Policy of Government of India – Jewellery for international exhibitions, jewellery for government approved B2B domestic exhibitions will be exempted from mandatory Hall Marking.
- Gold of Additional carats 20, 23 and 24 will also be allowed for Hall Marking.
- Watches, fountain pens and special types of jewellery viz. Kundan, Polki and Jadau will be exempted from Hall Marking.
- Jewellers can continue to buy back old gold jewellery without hallmark from consumer.
- In order to give adequate time to the manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers of Gold Jewellery, there would be No penalties till August end.
- Old jewellery can be got hallmarked as it is, if feasible by the jeweller or after melting and making new jewellery.
- Under Hallmarking scheme of Bureau of Indian Standards, Jewellers are registered for selling hallmarked jewellery and recognise testing and Hallmarking centres. BIS (Hallmarking) Regulations, were implemented w.e.f. 14.06.2018.
- Hallmarking will enable Consumers/Jewellery buyers to make a right choice and save them from any unnecessary confusion while buying gold. At present, only 30% of Indian Gold Jewellery is hallmarked.
- The Hallmarking of jewellery/artefacts is required to enhance the credibility of gold Jewellry and Customer satisfaction through third party assurance for the marked purity/fineness of gold , consumer protection. This step will also help to develop India as a leading gold market center in the World.
Fortified Rice Bran Oil
Why in News?
- Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution launched “Nafed Fortified Rice Bran Oil”.
- This initiative by Nafed will significantly reduce the country’s consumption dependence on imported edible oil in future.
- This Rice bran oil will be marketed by Nafed (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd).
About Rice Bran Oil
- Rice Bran oil has multiple health benefits, including lowering cholesterol level due to its low trans-fat content and high mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fat contents.
- It also acts as a booster and reduces the risk of cancer due to the high amount of Vitamin E it contains.
- This oil is recommended by The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the best substitutes for other edible oils.
- Rice Bran oil from Nafed will be fortified and it will be ensured that it will contain additional nutrients and vitamins.
- According to the FSSAI, fortified oil can help a person fulfil 25-30% of the recommended dietary intake for vitamins A and D.
Employee’s Compensation under the Code on Social Security, 2020
Why in News?
- Ministry of Labour and Employment, has notified the draft rules relating to Employee’s Compensation under the Code on Social Security, 2020 for inviting objections and suggestions, if any, from the stakeholders.
- The Code on Social Security, 2020 amends and consolidates the laws relating to social security with the goal to extend social security to employees and workers in the organised as well as unorganised sectors.
- Chapter VII (Employee’s Compensation) of the Social Security Code, 2020 envisages, inter-alia, provisions relating to employer’s liability for compensation in case of fatal accidents, serious bodily injuries or occupational diseases.
- The draft Employee’s Compensation rules provide for the provisions relating to manner of application for claim or settlement, rate of interest for delayed payment of compensation, venue of proceedings and transfer of matters, notice and manner of transmitting money from one competent authority to another and arrangements with other countries for the transfer of money paid as compensation.
Machine learning, blockchain emerge as top online courses in India
Why in News?
- Emerging topics like machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer programming, and deep learning have become the top online courses taken up by Indians, according to a report.
- About 10.6 million Indians have registered on the platform to date, falling behind only the U.S.
- These courses are also popular in other countries such as Germany, Russia, China, Australia, and Saudi Arabia.
- However, India stood in the 67th position among 104 nations in terms of digital skills. It ranked ahead of Myanmar, Uzbekistan, and Bhutan, but could not match countries like Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan, indicating a lack of digital and data skills.
- India showed only 38% proficiency in technology and data science, falling behind countries including Republic of Korea, Nepal, Malaysia and Sri Lanka. It showed 13% proficiency in computer programming, 14% in mobile development, and 25% in data analysis.
- The pace of skills transformation is slower than the pace of digital transformation in India and learners must invest in soft and technical skills to prepare for jobs of the future.
‘Divine Vessel’ to mark China’s first human spaceflight since 2016
Why in News?
- A Chinese spacecraft will blast off from the Gobi Desert on a Long March rocket in the coming days, ferrying three men to an orbiting space module for a three-month stay, the first time China has sent humans into space for nearly five years.
- Shenzhou-12, meaning “Divine Vessel”, will be the third of 11 missions needed to complete China’s space station by 2022. Among them, four will be missions with people on board,potentially propelling up to 12 Chinese astronauts into space -more than the 11 men and women that China has sent since 2003.
- Chinese astronauts have had a relatively low international profile. A U.S. law banning NASA from any connection with China means its astronauts have not been to the more than two-decade-old International Space Station, visited by more than 240 men and women of various nationalities.
- China, which aims to become a major space faring power by2030, in May became the second country to put a rover on Mars,two years after landing the first spacecraft on the far side of the moon.
- China began building its space station in April with the launch of Tianhe, the first and largest of its three modules.
- This year it aims to send a robotic cargo resupply spacecraft and three more astronauts, this time for a six-month stay.
World’s first wooden satellite
Why in News?
- The European Space Agency (ESA) has planned to put the world’s first wooden satellite, WISA Woodsat, on Earth’s orbit by the end of this year.
- The mission of the satellite is to test the applicability of wooden materials like plywood in spacecraft structures and expose it to extreme space conditions, such as heat, cold, vacuum and radiation, for an extended period of time.
- It will be launched to space by the end of 2021 with a Rocket Lab Electron rocket from the Mahia Peninsula launch complex in New Zealand.
- The satellite, designed and built in Finland will orbit at around 500-600 km altitude in a roughly polar Sun-synchronous orbit.
- WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm nano satellite built up from standardised boxes and surface panels made from plywood, the same material that is found in a hardware store or to make furniture.
- Designers have placed the wood in a thermal vacuum chamber to keep dry when its in space. They have also added a very thin aluminium oxide layer to minimise vapour coming from the wood and to protect it from erosive effects of atomic oxygen.
Scientists convert used plastic bottles into vanilla flavouring
Why in News?
- Plastic bottles have been converted into vanilla flavouring using genetically engineered bacteria, the first time a valuable chemical has been brewed from waste plastic.
- Upcycling plastic bottles into more lucrative materials could make the recycling process far more attractive and effective. Currently plastics lose about 95% of their value as a material after a single use. Encouraging better collection and use of such waste is key to tackling the global plastic pollution problem.
- Researchers have already developed mutant enzymes to break down the polyethylene terephthalate polymer used for drinks bottles into its basic units, terephthalic acid (TA). Scientists have now used bugs to convert TA into vanillin.
- Vanillin is used widely in the food and cosmetics industries and is an important bulk chemical used to make pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and herbicides.
- Global demand is growing and in 2018 was 37,000 tonnes, far exceeding the supply from natural vanilla beans. About 85% of vanillin is currently synthesised from chemicals derived from fossil fuels.
- About 1m plastic bottles are sold every minute around the world and just 14% are recycled. Currently even those bottles that are recycled can only be turned into opaque fibres for clothing or carpets.
- The research used engineered E coli bacteria to transform TA into vanillin. The scientists warmed a microbial broth to 37C for a day. This converted 79% of the TA into vanillin.
- Recent research showed bottles are the second most common type of plastic pollution in the oceans, after plastic bags. In 2018, scientists accidentally created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles, and subsequent work produced a super-enzyme that eats plastic bottles even faster.
New precision iodine value analyser
- In one of its initiatives to encourage the manufacturing industry in India, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIR-CSIO) has developed and transferred the technology of Precision Iodine Value Analyzer (PIVA), an instrument for the measurement of the degree of unsaturation (iodine value) in vegetable oils.
- This indigenous food testing equipment was recognized by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on World Food Safety Day June 7, 2021.
- Iodine value is conventionally determined using manual titration and a few analytical instruments based on automated titration. However, these methods take a longer time to analyse, are costly and use toxic chemicals.
- Researchers at CSIR-CSIO developed a rapid analysis technique that takes just three minutes to carry out the same analysis.
- The technology has applications in oil extraction units, quality control and assurance labs, food regulatory authorities, soaps and cosmetics, bakeries, meat industry, paint industry, biodiesel analysis, and charcoal industry.
- The technology is also useful in determining adulteration in edible oils and fats.
Why in News?
- The National Geographic magazine has recognised the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean.
- The Southern Ocean is the only ocean ‘to touch three other oceans and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them’.
- Its northern limit is a latitude of 60 degrees south. It is also defined by its Antarctic Circumpolar Current that was formed 34 million years ago. The current flows from west to east around Antarctica.
- The Southern Ocean is home to large populations of whales, penguins and seals. But industrial fishing on species like krill and Patagonian toothfish had been a concern for decades.
Chennai’s Olive Ridley turtles
Why in News?
- Hundreds of Olive Ridley turtles die along the eastern coastline of India every year, mostly due to fishing activities.
- Around 75 per cent of the dead turtles had clear signs of injury by fishing gears, according to a 2015 report on Olive Ridley turtle mortalities along the Tamil Nadu coastline.
- Other stated reasons were habitat loss, pollution, unsustainable development in the coastal areas and climate change.
- The government bans trawling beyond five nautical miles of the coast from January to May, the turtle nesting season. This move has helped conserve the Schedule I species under the Wildlife (Protection) Act (WPA), 1972.
Mandating Turtle Excluder Device (TED)
- The Marine Fishing Regulation Rules, 1983 were amended following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Madras High Court in 2015, and using TEDs in every trawl net became mandatory.
- TEDs are mostly effective in temperate regions that practice targeted fishing.
- In tropical countries like India, where multi-species fishing is done, commercially important big fish will also escape if TEDs are used.
- Harming animals listed in Schedule I of WPA is a punishable offence.
May 2021 was the sixth-warmest May on record
- May 2021 has tied with 2018 as the world’s sixth-warmest May on record, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA).
- The average global temperature in May 2021 was 1.46 degrees Fahrenheit (0.81 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average.
- The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration rated May 2021 the seventh-warmest May on record.
- The average global temperature for March through May was 1.48 degrees F (0.82 degree Celsius) above average.
- It was the eighth-warmest such season for the world on record.
- Going by the regions, Asia had its second-warmest May on record behind May 2020; Africa had its sixth-warmest. Europe and North America experienced their coolest May since 2004 and 2011 respectively.
- Temperatures were much above average across parts of northern, western and southeastern Asia, Africa, northern South America and across parts of the Pacific, Atlantic, and the Indian Oceans.
- Temperatures were cooler than average across parts of North America, the eastern Pacific Ocean, central Europe, central Asia and India.