March 18,2018

March 16,2018
March 16, 2018
Quiz-March 15,2018
March 18, 2018

Topics list:

  1. National and International Issues on
    1. Economic Development
    2. Social Development
    3. Industrial Development
  2. Energy and Environment
    1. Energy
    2. Environment
  3. Information and Communication Technology
    1. Technology
    2. Application
  4. Material science

Topic 1: Industrial development

Redefine ‘R&D’ as ‘Research for Development’ of nation

The Prime Minister was speaking at the inauguration of the 105th Session of Indian Science Congress in Manipur University, Imphal. The 106-year-old ISC is largest congregation of scientists in India was traditionally the first public function the Prime Minister addressed in the calendar year.

Highlights of PM’s Speech

  1. The government was committed to increasing share of non-fossil fuel based capacity in electricity mix above 40% by 2030.
  2. Technology will allow far greater penetration of services such as education, health care and banking to citizens.
  3. Government is developing city-based R&D clusters to bring together science and technology. Under this, bright minds from the best Institutions in the country, like IISc,IIT,NIT, IISER & IIIT will be offered direct admission in Ph.D in IIT & IISc.
  4. India faces major socio-economic challenges which affects us. We need science to make India clean and green. The country requires crores of new houses. 3D printing technology could meet this demand. Our rivers are polluted. We need a multi-pronged approach, clean cooking, conversion of fuels, smart grids, micro grids and bio-fuels.
  5. Research should also be conducted in yoga, sports and traditional knowledge.
  6. Our Government has already given the go-ahead to establish 3rd LIGO detector in the country. It will expand our knowledge in basic sciences in the areas of lasers, light waves & computing.

Read more at:

Topic 2:Environment

State government has banned trekking across T.N

In the aftermath of the forest fire tragedy in Kurangani Hills that has claimed 16 lives so far, the State government has temporarily banned trekking in reserve forests and protected areas.


  • The Forest Department should have been pro-active and banned trekking in Bodi Hills before March itself since the area is prone to fires. Or, it could have regulated eco-tourism better and strictly monitored the movement of visitors
  • A proper method of raising alarms in the event of a forest fire, as well as communicating those alarms down the chain of command may need to be worked out


  • The ‘Spatial and temporal analysis of decadal forest fire data (2006-2015)’ published by the Forest Department last March reveals that forest fires in Tamil Nadu start during January itself, increase during February and peak during March
  • For trekking in reserve forests, DFO permission is mandatory as per rules.
  • The locals, part of the eco-development committees formed by the department, should be there as field guides
  • In terrains where there’s no mobile network, and it takes a couple of hours to mobilize personnel and reach the particular spot.
  • A protocol is mandatory in every vulnerable beat, already pre-emptive measures like fire lining, controlled burning and patrolling were being followed

Read more at:

Warming could threaten half of species in 33 key areas

Global warming could place 25 to 50% of species in the Amazon, Madagascar and other biodiverse areas at risk of localised extinction within decades as per the conservation group WWF, which commissioned the analysis published in science journal Climatic Change.


  • The report focused on 33 so-called “Priority Places” which host some of the world’s richest and most unusual terrestrial species, including iconic, endangered, or endemic plants and animals.
  • They include southern Chile, the eastern Himalayas, South Africa’s unique Fynbos ecoregion, Borneo, Sumatra, the Namibian desert, West Africa, southwest Australia, coastal east Africa, and southern Africa’s Miombo Woodlands

Global Warming

  • The lower projection is based on a mercury rise of two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels — the warming ceiling the world’s nations agreed on in 2015. The highest is for out-of-control warming of 4.5 degrees Celsius.
  • Extinction is not simply about the disappearance of species but about profound changes to ecosystems that provide vital services to hundreds of millions of people

Read more at:

Microplastics in Drinking Water

Tests conducted at the State University of New York revealed a global average of 10.4 plastic particles per litre of packaged drinking water. These particles were confirmed as plastic using an industry standard infra-red microscope.

  • Micro plastic particles are in the 100 micron, or 0.10 millimetre size range
  • Includes polypropylene, nylon, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

Micro-plastic pollution

Scientists and governments are increasingly concerned about micro-plastic pollution.

  • Recent studies have found micro-plastic — particles smaller than 5 millimetres — in the oceans, soil, air, lakes, and rivers.
  • But plastic’s final frontier may be the human body.
  • Some plastic under 150 microns (0.15 millimetres) could enter the gut’s lymphatic system, or pass from the bloodstream to the kidneys or liver, according the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Read more at:

Topic 3:ICT

Robot solves Rubik’s cube in 0.38 seconds

Scientists have created a robot that has possibly set a new world record by solving the Rubik’s cube in 0.38 seconds. The robot was built by Ben Katz, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and software developer Jared Di Carlo

Read more at:

NASA invites citizen scientists to observe clouds

NASA has announced a global cloud observation challenge — inviting citizen scientists to observe and track clouds using their smartphones.

  • From March 15 through April 15, citizen scientists of all ages can make up to 10 cloud observations per day using the GLOBE Observer app.

Scientists at Langley work with a suite of six instruments known as the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES). Even though CERES’ instruments use advanced technology, it is not always easy for researchers to positively identify all types of clouds in their images.

Read more at:

Hi-tech conservationists fight wildlife crime

In Indonesia, illicit trade of flora and fauna is pushing some species to extinction. From cutting-edge DNA barcoding to smartphone apps that can identify illegal wildlife sales, conservationists are turning to hi-tech tools in their battle against Indonesia’s animal traffickers.


  • The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), which works with Indonesian authorities to halt wildlife crime, uses computer software to map criminal networks and extract data from seized electronic devices.
  • Conservation group International Animal Rescue Indonesia (IAR) is examining crime scene evidence with the help of DNA barcoding — a taxonomic method that relies on short genetic sequences to identify species. Tissue samples from confiscated animals can be cross-referenced with a database of stored genetic codes, helping to unambiguously differentiate between species and sub-species — not all of which may be endangered.

Read more at:

A knowledge hub for medicinal plants

Open source record of plants named IMPPAT (Indian Medicinal Plants, Phytochemistry And Therapeutics) brings together not just the Indian medicinal plants and their associated phytochemicals, but also the latter’s 2D and 3D chemical structures, the therapeutic use of the plants and the medicinal formulations.

Plants secrete various special chemicals to ward off predators, fight pathogens and survive in difficult situations. Some of these so-called phytochemicals have been used to prepare traditional medicines and also poisons.

Read more at:

Topic 4:Material Science


The 21st century seems set to become the age of graphene, a recently discovered material

About graphene

  • Is made from honeycomb sheets of carbon just one atom thick.
  • It is a two-dimensional form (allotrope) of carbon that consists of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.
  • Graphene has been described as wondrous stuff — of being the strongest material ever tested, almost 300 times stronger than steel.
  • It is also the best heat- and electricity-conducting material to be discovered.
  • It could also become a valuable aid in filtering water

Read more at:

IIT Guwahati develops superhydrophobic coating

A polymeric coating that is extremely water-repelling (superhydrophobic) and will allow water to roll off from the surface like in the case of a lotus leaf or stick to the surface as in the case of rose petals has been synthesised.

  • It can be spray-coated on various surfaces (glass, plastic, metal, wood and concrete) of diverse chemical composition, texture (smooth or rough surface), geometry (plain sheet or complex shape such as shoes), and size.
  • By modulating the functionality of the coating with small amine molecules, the coated surface was made to behave either as non-adhesive superhydrophobic coating (where water rolls off as in a lotus leaf) or adhesive superhydrophobic coating where the droplets stick to the surface like in the case of rose petals.
  • There is a fundamental difference in the way the trapped air is present at the interface between the surface and water droplets and this makes the coated surface either adhesive or non-adhesive superhydrophobic
  • The superhydrophobic coating was prepared by mixing a polymer (branched poly(ethyleneimine)) and a reactive small molecule (dipentaerythritol penta-acrylate) in different alcoholic solvents — ethanol to pentanol.


  • The superhydrophobic coating has diverse applications depending on whether it is made adhesive or non-adhesive.
  • The non-adhesive one can be used for oil-water separation and making the surface self-cleaning.
  • The adhesive coating can be used in open microfluidic devices for diagnostic purposes

Read more at:

IIT Hyderabad’s novel composite keeps tomatoes fresh for 30 days

Researchers at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad have been successful in keeping tomatoes fresh and without any microbial spoilage for as long as 30 days. This was possible thanks to the food packaging material. The food packaging material is made of bacterial cellulose impregnated with silver nanoparticles.

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