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Showing posts from March 16, 2017

Current Affairs MCQ for UPSC Exams – 12 February 2017

Q.1- Which of the following is not correct about Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme?

1. It is a three tired system consisting of air, land and sea based interceptor missiles
2. Shield should be able to intercept any incoming missile launched 5,000 kilometres away.
3. The system also includes an overlapping network of early warning and tracking radars, as well as command and control posts.
4. India became the fourth country to have successfully developed an anti-ballistic missile system, after United States, Russia, and Israel.

Q.2- Which of the following correctly describes a comet?

A. It is an icy small Solar System body that, when passing close to the Sun, warms and begins to evolve gasses, a process called outgassing.
B. It is planet sized bodies which are present outside solar system
C. It is bodies revolving around sun in between mars and jupiter.
D. None of the above

Q.3- Which of the following is not a function of SEBI?

A. regulating the business in stock exchanges and…

Yemen needs aid to tide over worst hunger crisis (downtoearth)

Severe food insecurity is threatening over 17 million people (almost 60 per cent of the country’s population) in conflict-ridden Yemen, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis released by the United Nations and other humanitarian partners. Twenty of the country’s 22 governorates are in “emergency” or “crisis” food-insecurity phases and almost two-thirds of the population is facing hunger. Without humanitarian and livelihood support, Taiz and Al Hudaydah governorates risk slipping into famine. Yemen is currently facing one of the worst hunger crises in the world. These two places have been the focus of intense violence in two years since the current crisis escalated. Conflict driving food insecurity Conflicts spell devastating impacts for food security and livelihoods. Almost 80 per cent of households in Yemen report having a worse economic situation than before the crisis. The decrease in domestic production, disruption of commercial and humanita…

Humans may have transformed the Sahara from lush paradise to barren desert (downtoearth),

Once upon a time, the Sahara was green. There were vast lakes. Hippos and giraffe lived there, and large human populations of fishers foraged for food alongside the lakeshores. The Conversation

The “African Humid Period” or “Green Sahara” was a time between 11,000 and 4,000 years ago when significantly more rain fell across the northern two-thirds of Africa than it does today.

The vegetation of the Sahara was highly diverse and included species commonly found on the margins of today’s rainforests along with desert-adapted plants. It was a highly productive and predictable ecosystem in which hunter-gatherers appear to have flourished.

These conditions stand in marked contrast to the current climate of northern Africa. Today, the Sahara is the largest hot desert in the world. It lies in the subtropical latitudes dominated by high-pressure ridges, where the atmospheric pressure at the Earth’s surface is greater than the surrounding environment. These ridges inhibit the flow of moist air…

Phosphorus is vital for life on Earth – and we’re running low (downtoearth)

Phosphorus is an essential element which is contained in many cellular compounds, such as DNA and the energy carrier ATP. All life needs phosphorus and agricultural yields are improved when phosphorus is added to growing plants and the diet of livestock. Consequently, it is used globally as a fertiliser – and plays an important role in meeting the world’s food requirements. The Conversation

In order for us to add it, however, we first need to extract it from a concentrated form – and the supply comes almost exclusively from phosphate mines in Morocco (with far smaller quantities coming from China, the US, Jordan and South Africa). Within Morocco, most of the mines are in Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony which was annexed by Morocco in 1975.

The fact that more than 70% of the global supply comes from this single location is problematic, especially as scientists are warning that we are approaching “peak phosphorous”, the point at which demand begins to outstrip supply and intens…

Indian researcher uses novel strategy to increase wheat yield (hindu,)

Besides increased yield, the treated plants also proved to be more resilient to drought-like conditions

Using a novel route, an Indian researcher has been able to increase wheat grain yield by 20% and also improve the resilience of wheat to environmental stress such as drought. By using a precursor that enhances the amount of a key sugar-signalling molecule (trehalose-6-phosphate (T6P)) produced in wheat plant, Dr. Ram Sagar Misra, from the Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford and currently with the Department of Chemistry, Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida, has been able to increase the amount of starch produced and, therefore, the yield.

The technique

The T6P molecule stimulates starch synthesis, which in turn, increases the yield. Since the pathway of T6P molecule is the same in other plants, the yield can potentially be increased by using suitable precursors. The results were published in the journal Nature. Dr. Misra is one of the authors of the paper.

Dr. Misra and …

What happens when you wring a wet towel in space? (hindu)

Water turns into jelly, that’s what.

This four-year-old video from the International Space Station has suddenly gone viral on social media for some reason.

Back in 2013, the ISS posted a video of the (now retired) Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield performing an experiment with a wet towel.

He squirts some water into a towel and then wrings it, leading to the water to just accumulate — first on the outside of the towel and then on his hand. “It’s becoming a tube of water,” says Hadfield.

The experiment was designed by two standard 10 students from Nova Scotia, Canada, who won a national science contest held by the Canadian Space Agency.

So why, exactly, is water behaving like jelly? Watch and find out.

It’s complicated (Hindu)

Turkey and the EU nations can’t afford to wait till the referendum to de-escalate tensions

Until Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan started a high-voltage campaign for next month’s referendum on constitutional reforms that give him more powers, relations between Ankara and the European Union were relatively stable, though not without glitches. Trouble started when Mr. Erdogan’s allies drew up plans to organise campaign rallies in European cities to mobilise support among the tens of thousands of Turks living in Europe who are eligible to vote in the April 16 referendum. Several European countries, including Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and some German towns, banned such rallies, raising security concerns as well as fear of domestic political repercussions. Mr. Erdogan, however, turned this into a Turkey versus West spat. When German towns blocked the rallies, Mr. Erdogan accused the country of “Nazi practices”. When the Netherlands refused landing rights to a plane c…

Gauntlet at Sukma (Hindu.)

The Maoist ambush suggests that the state has a lot more to do to establish its writ

It would be tempting, but dangerous, to see the deadly ambush by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district on Saturday as just a desperate act of a fading insurgent group. It must, instead, serve as a wake-up call for the security forces to beef up their standard operating procedures, especially intelligence-gathering capabilities, in the Maoist heartland in central India. Twelve personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed in Sunday’s attack, and four others sustained injuries. A road-opening party of the CRPF’s 219 battalion was ambushed about 450 km from the State capital Raipur. The insurgents used improvised explosive devices, country-made mortars and arrows mounted with explosive heads, and made off with some weapons and radio sets of the force. Home Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that extremist groups were restless because of the “unprecedented success of the forces agai…