Insights Daily Current Affairs, 11 May 2018
Topic: Issues related to health.
Context: Nigeria has announced that it is free from Lassa fever outbreak. The announcement follows the epidemiological review by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Lassa fever- key facts:
- Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness of 2-21 days duration that occurs in West Africa.
- The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items contaminated with rodent urine or faeces.
- Person-to-person infections and laboratory transmission can also occur, particularly in hospitals lacking adequate infection prevention and control measures.
- Lassa fever is known to be endemic in Benin, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria, but probably exists in other West African countries as well.
- The overall case-fatality rate is 1%. Observed case-fatality rate among patients hospitalized with severe cases of Lassa fever is 15%.
- Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.
- For Prelims: about Lassa fever.
- For Mains: International cooperation in preventing such outbreaks.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Pacific Islands Forum
Context: The Pacific Islands Forum has been granted approval to establish a Permanent Observer Office at the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).
The Permanent Observer status would entrench the presence of the Blue Pacific region in, and strengthen its links to the United Nations organisations, including its specialised agencies, programmes, fund initiatives and joint programs.
About Pacific Islands Forum:
- Pacific Islands Forum, formerly (1971–2000) South Pacific Forum, organization established in 1971 to provide a setting for heads of government to discuss common issues and problems facing the independent and self-governing states of the South Pacific.
- It comprises 18 members: Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.
- In 2000 Forum leaders adopted the Biketawa Declaration, which was a response to regional political instability and which put forward a set of principles and actions for members to take to promote open, democratic, and clean government, as well as equal rights for citizens regardless of gender, race, colour, creed, or political belief.
For Prelims and Mains: Pacific Islands Forum and its significance.
Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
National Technology Day
Context: Since 1999, May 11 is celebrated as National Technology Day to mark India’s technological advancements.
National Technology Day 2018 theme: “Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future”.
Significance of the day:
- On May 11, 1998, India detonated three nuclear bombs in the Indian Army’s Pokhran Test Range. Dr APJ Abdul Kalam lead the Indian team of scientists to successfully test-fire the Shakti-1 nuclear missile at Rajasthan’s Pokhran test range.
- Hansa 3, India’s first indigenous aircraft was first tested on the same day in 1998 in Bangalore.
- Successful test firing of Trishul, a short range missile made in India, was also done on the same day.
- Every year, on this day, the Technology Development Board of India awards various individuals with national awards for their contribution to indigenous technology.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Context: The Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission will be the first to utilize Falcon 9 Block 5, the final substantial upgrade to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle. Falcon 9 Block 5 is designed to be capable of 10 or more flights with very limited refurbishment as SpaceX continues to strive for rapid reusability and extremely high reliability.
About Bangabandhu Satellite-1:
What is it? Bangabandhu is Bangladesh’s first communications satellite. Built by Thales Alenia Space, a Franco-Italian aerospace manufacturer, it is designed to provide a wide range of broadcast and communication services throughout the country for the next 15 years. It is named after Bangladesh’s “Father of the Nation”- Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Applications: Once operational, citizens of Bangladesh will gain access to the Internet, phone services, radio, backhaul, direct-to-home TV, and other related services.
Significance of the satellite:
The satellite could open up a lot of opportunities for the country in terms of revenue generation. So far, a majority of Bangladesh’s communications was based on rented transponders from neighbouring countries and this satellite will make the country autonomous, in terms of telecommunications and broadcasting services.
For Prelims: Bangabandhu satellite and its applications.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft (MMS)
Context: In a new find, NASA scientists have discovered a new type of magnetic event in turbulent space surrounding Earth. Scientists analysed the data obtained by the NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft (MMS) to find the new magnetic event in near-Earth environment.
What is it?
Magnetic reconnection is one of the most important processes in the space — filled with charged particles known as plasma — around Earth. This fundamental process dissipates magnetic energy and propels charged particles, both of which contribute to a dynamic space weather system that scientists want to better understand, and even someday predict, as we do terrestrial weather. Reconnection occurs when crossed magnetic field lines snap, explosively flinging away nearby particles at high speeds.
What’s so special about the new discovery?
Magnetic reconnection has been observed innumerable times in the magnetosphere — the magnetic environment around Earth — but usually under calm conditions. The new event occurred in a region called the magnetosheath, just outside the outer boundary of the magnetosphere, where the solar wind is extremely turbulent. Previously, scientists didn’t know if reconnection even could occur there, as the plasma is highly chaotic in that region. MMS found it does, but on scales much smaller than previous spacecraft could probe.
About Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission:
MMS investigates how the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields connect and disconnect, explosively transferring energy from one to the other in a process that is important at the Sun, other planets, and everywhere in the universe, known as magnetic reconnection. Four identically instrumented spacecraft measure plasmas, fields, and particles in a near-equatorial orbit that will frequently encounter reconnection in action.
Why understand reconnection?
Reconnection limits the performance of fusion reactors and is the final governor of geospace weather that affects modern technological systems such as telecommunications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids.
MMS reveals, for the first time, the small-scale three-dimensional structure and dynamics of the elusively thin and fast-moving electron diffusion region. It does this in both of the key reconnection regions near Earth, where the most energetic events originate.
Significance of the mission:
By observing magnetic reconnection in nature, MMS provides access to predictive knowledge of a universal process that is the final governor of space weather, affecting modern technological systems such as communications networks, GPS navigation, and electrical power grids. MMS will establish knowledge, methods and technologies applicable to future space weather missions and the future growth and development of space weather forecasting.
Facts for Prelims:
In news- Mount Merapi:
What is it? It is an active stratovolcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, Indonesia. It is the most active volcano in Indonesia and has erupted regularly since 1548.
What is it? It is a green sea slug which can suck out an algae’s plastids that generate energy from sunlight — and incorporate them into its own biology. In doing so, it becomes an animal with the photosynthetic ability of a plant.
What makes it unique? What makes Elysia chlorotica unique is it takes only the plastids, or the organelles that contain chlorophyll and perform photosynthesis, from the algae. The slug then uses its own genome to keep the plastids operating within its own body throughout the rest of its life.
Where is it found? The sea slug Elysia chlorotica, a mollusk that can develop to a length of 2 inches has been discovered in intertidal zone between Nova Scotia, Canada, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, as well as in Florida.
Significance of the discovery: Figuring out how the slug keeps these algae-made solar panels functioning could lead to innovations in developing green machines that need only sunlight to generate energy or bioproducts that could be used as biodiesel.