Daily Current Affairs - 26-04-2021

The Astronomers have discovered the smallest black holes. It has been named as Unicorn. It is 1,500 light years away from the earth. It is the closest of all the black holes found so far.

About Unicorn

Tidal Distortion

Tidal Distortion occurs through gravitational interaction of an astronomical body. For instance, the tidal distortion between the Earth and the moon are higher during no moon and full moon days. The Tidal forces stretches a body along the line towards the centre of mass of another body.

Significance of Black Holes

It is highly important for the scientists to study black holes as they tell them about the way the stars form and die.

Why is a Black hole invisible?

A Black Hole is a region in space where the gravity pull is so high. The gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot get out. The gravity pull in the region is so strong as the matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This usually happens when a star is dying.

Are Black Holes the end stage of a star?

Yes. Most of the star material is blasted away into space during its final stages. However, the core implodes into a neutron star called the black hole.

The Government of India is to import 10,000 oxygen concentrators.

What is an Oxygen Concentrator?

An oxygen concentrator concentrates oxygen from the atmosphere.

Working of Oxygen Concentrator

How is oxygen from Oxygen Concentrator different from Medical Oxygen?

The Chinese born film maker Chloe Zhao has become the first Asian woman to win the Best director at the Academy Awards. She won the award for her film Nomadland.

About Chloe Zhao

Zhao was born in China and went to a boarding school in London. She then moved to Los Angeles where she completed her high school. Her debut film was Songs My Brothers Taught me. It was premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Her second film was The Rider. It received nominations at the Independent Spirit Award for the Best Film and Best Director.

Nomadland

Nomadland won three major awards namely Best Director, Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Picture. The film is about a woman who leaves town after her husband dies. She also becomes houseless as sole industry closes down. She then lives in a van and travels around the US.

Academy Awards

India at Oscars

Month: Current Affairs - April, 2021

Category: Art & Culture Current Affairs • Awards, Persons & Places in News

Topics: Academy Awards • chloe zhao • Nomadland • Oscar Awards • Oscars

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  • Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Reply

    Hearty congratulations to film maker Chloe Zhao.

    The Maui Dolphins are found only in the West Coast of New Zealand and no where else in the world. They are one of the smallest dolphin’s subspecies globally. There are only 63 Maui dolphins left in the world.

    What are recent New Zealand plans to save the Dolphins?

    The New Zealand Government along with World Wide Fund and some few fishing companies is to develop a drone that is capable of finding and tracking Maui dolphins using Artificial Intelligence.

    It will collect data on dolphins’ habitat, behaviour and population size. The data can then be used to inform the Government policy changes to stop the decline in the population. It was developed by a non-profit organisation MAUI63.

    The Artificial Intelligence based system will distinguish Maui dolphins with other species with more than 90% accuracy.

    Reasons for declining population

    • The Maui Dolphins are threatened by commercial fisheries. This includes trawling and set-netting.
    • They are affected by diseases such as Brucellosis and toxoplasmosis.
    • Low food availability
    • Climate Change
    • In 2014, the Government of New Zealand opened 3,000 square kilometres of the West Coast for oil drilling. This is the main habitat of Maui dolphins.

    IUCN

    The International Union of Conservation of Nature has listed the Maui Dolphins under Critically Endangered species.

    Toxoplasmosis

    The Toxoplasmosis disease is currently the biggest threat of Maui Dolphins. It is caused by a parasite found in cat faeces.

    The parasite survives in weathering condition and is virtually indestructible. As it enters into water, it is ingested by fish. It then reaches the dolphins when they feed on fish. The parasite causes organ failure and it attacks the brain.

    Every year Anzac Day is celebrated on April 25 in Australia and New Zealand. The day is celebrated as a national day of remembrance that commemorates all the New Zealanders and Australians who died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

    About ANZAC Day

    • ANZAC is Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.
    • The day was originally planned to honour the members of New Zealand and Australian armies who served in the Gallipoli Campaign.

    Gallipoli Campaign

    • It was the first military campaign of First World War. It took place in Gallipoli peninsula between 1915 and 1916. It is often considered as the beginning of Australian and New Zealand national consciousness.
    • In 1915, New Zealand and Australia set out to capture Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black sea for the Allied Navies. The main objective was to capture Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman empire was an ally of Germany during the war.
    • The Armies of New Zealand and Australia landed on April 25, 1915 and met fierce resistance from the Ottoman Empire. The plan to knock the Ottomans became a stalemate.
    • The Gallipoli Campaign dragged for eight months.
    • The military objectives of Gallipoli campaign were to capture Constantinople and knock the Ottoman Empire out of war.

    Australia and New Zealand Military in Afghanistan

    • Australia and New Zealand will withdraw their forces from Afghanistan following the US.
    • NATO had planned to maintain 13,000 troops in Afghanistan earlier. Recently, the US announced that it is to withdraw its forces completely from Afghanistan.
    • Australia was one of the top non-NATO troop contributors to NATO-led efforts in Afghanistan.
    • New Zealand signed partnership agreement with NATO in 2012.
    • Australia is a signatory of Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation.

    China has named its first Mars rover as Zhurong after a traditional fire god. The name signifies igniting the flame of Planetary Explorations of China.

    About Zhurong

    • Zhurong is on board Tianwen-1 Space probe.
    • It arrived at the Mars orbit in February 2021 and is due to land on the planet in May 2021.
    • With Zhurong, China will become the third country after Soviet Union and USA to achieve soft landing on Mars. Also, it will become the second country put a rover on Mars after the US.
    • Zhurong weighs 240 kilograms and is solar powered.
    • Zhurong carries multispectral cameras and instruments to analyse the composition of the rocks. It will investigate subsurface characteristics with ground penetrating radar.

    Tianwen-1

    • The main aim of Tianwen-1 is to analyse and map the Martian surface and look for water ice and study the climate and surface environment.
    • It was launched in July 2020.
    • Tianwen-1 was launched with an orbiter, camera, lander and the Zhurong rover.
    • It weighs five tonnes and is one of the heaviest probes launched to Mars.
    • It was launched in Long March 5 heavy lift launch vehicle.
    • It was the second of the three space missions sent to Mars in 2020. The other missions launched were as follows:
      • The “Hope Orbiter” by United Ara Emirates
      • Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity helicopter on Mars 2020 by US

    Recent Developments

    China recently became the first country to land a space probe on the little explored far side of the moon. It returned to the earth in December with lunar rocks for the first time since 1970s.

    The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research recently released the results of Sero Survey.

    Key Findings of the Survey

    • The survey was conducted on 10,427 persons. Of these, only 10.14% showed sero positivity.
    • The survey suggested that the neutralising antibodies have declined. This had made people prone to reinfections.
    • Around 20% of seropositive individuals lagged neutralisation activity after five to six months.
    • The scientists  conclude from the survey that this might be one of the reasons for the recurrence of outbreaks in March 2021.
    • India had large pool of recovered immune subjects in September 2020. However, the duration for which the developed immunity can withstand is not sufficient to prevent future outbreaks.

    What is sero positivity?

    It is showing a positive result for a particular antibody in a blood test.

    What is Antibody?

    It is a blood protein that is generated to fight against a virus. The antibodies are generated against specific antigen. More the antibodies higher is the immunity.

    These antibodies are generated in response to substances that body recognises as alien. It can be bacteria, virus or any other foreign substance in the blood.

    What are Neutralising Antibodies?

    They are those antibodies that are responsible for protecting cells from pathogens.

    What is the issue?

    A cured COVID-19 patient carries antibodies against COVID-19 virus. His immunity holds as long as he generates these antibodies. According to CSIR, as days pass by these antibodies are reducing in recovered patients. This means that they are again vulnerable to the virus.

    Current Scenario

    India is currently facing high surge in COVID-19 infections. The daily count increased to 3 lakhs in four consecutive days.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently announced that the Ingenuity helicopter has completed its third flight successfully.

    Third Flight of Ingenuity Helicopter

    • According to NASA, in its third flight, the Ingenuity helicopter flew faster and farther.
    • In its third flight, the helicopter rose to five metres. This is the same altitude as that of its second flight.
    • It rose at a top speed of 2 metres per second.
    • The helicopter travelled fifty metres in its third flight.

    Challenge

    The Martian Atmosphere is filled with Carbon Dioxide. This is the biggest challenge for the Ingenuity Helicopter.

    Mars 2020 mission

    • It is part of Mars Exploration Programme of NASA.
    • It includes Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter.
    • The main objective of Perseverance rover is to investigate Astro-biologically relevant ancient environment in mars. Astro-Biology was formerly known as exobiology. It is an interdisciplinary scientific field that is concerned with the origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.

    Mars Exploration Programme

    It was launched in 1993 to explore the possibilities of life on mars. In 2013, the US Government cut 40% of NASA’s budget. This delayed the projects under the programme. The main objectives of the programme are as follows:

    • To determine if life ever existed in Mars
    • To characterise the Climate of Mars
    • To characterise the geology of Mars
    • To prepare for human exploration of mars

    Recent Developments of the mission

    • The Perseverance rover of Mars 2020 carried the MOXIE and Ingenuity Helicopter.
    • The Perseverance rover of the Mars 2020 mission dropped the Ingenuity helicopter in the Martian surface.
    • The Ingenuity Helicopter became the first aircraft to fly in another planet.
    • The Ingenuity Helicopter makes historic flight.
    • The MOXIE in the Perseverance Rover makes history by converting carbon dioxide in to oxygen.

    The Indian Council of Medical Research recently reported that around two to four of the ten thousand vaccinated people tested positive for the disease. This is referred to as “Breakthrough Infection”.

    Key Findings of ICMR

    • According to ICMR, around 9.3 million have received the first dose of COVAXIN. Of this, 4,208 have tested positive, which is 0.02%. Of the 1.7 million who received the second dose, 695 tested positive, which is 0.04%.
    • Of the 100.3 million who received the first dose of COVIDSHIELD vaccine, 17,145 tested positive, which is 0.03%. Of the 15 million who received the second dose of COVISHIELD, 5,014 tested positive, which is 0.04%.

    What are Breakthrough Infections?

    • A person who has COVID-19 antigen or RNA after 14 days of taking the vaccine is said to have Breakthrough Infection. In simple words, the Breakthrough infections are those infections that occur in people who are vaccinated.
    • This is common in any vaccine. In AstraZeneca Clinical Trials, thirty out of 5,807 tested positive after fourteen days of the second shot.
    • During trials COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be between 60% and 95% effective. In actual any vaccine is less effective than what is reported in trials.

    Background

    • According to WHO, no vaccine offers 100% protection from any disease. It takes two weeks for the body to build immunity after being vaccinated.
    • In the US, around 7% got COVID-19 infections after vaccination.

    Why do Breakthrough Infections occur?

    One main reason for the occurrence of the infection after vaccination is improper vaccination. This might occur due to injecting the vaccine in the wrong place. Weak Immunity and age also cause breakthrough infection.

    The SpaceX Crew 2 is the second crewed flight of Crew Dragon spacecraft. It is the third overall crewed orbital flight. Under Crew 2 Mission, NASA and SpaceX together transported four astronauts to the International Space Station.

    About Crew 2

    • It transported four members from international space agencies and from NASA to the International Space Station.
    • It used the same capsule as Demo-2. Demo-2 is also called Endeavour. Endeavour was manufactured and operated by SpaceX. It was used for Commercial Crew Programme of NASA.
    • It also used the same booster as that of Crew-1.
    • It will dock to the International Docking Adapter on the Harmony Module. Harmony is the utility hub of the International Space Station. It connects the laboratory modules of Europe, United States and Japan.

    The firsts in Crew 2 Mission

    • It is the first commercial crew mission to fly international partners.
    • It is the first reuse of Crew Dragon Spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission.
    • It is the first time two commercial crew spacecrafts will be docked to the station at the same time.

    Crew-1

    • It was the first crewed flight of Crew Dragon spacecraft.
    • It was also the first night launch by the United States.
    • It was the first operational mission to the International Space Station in the Commercial Crew Programme of NASA.

    Russia’s central bank raised its key interest rate

    Commercial Crew Programme

    It is a human space flight programme operated by NASA. It was launched to transport astronauts to and from International Space Station.

    SpaceX Dragon

    • The Crew 2 Mission used Dragon spacecraft to transport the astronauts. The first maiden flight of Dragon was in 2010. It became the first commercially built and operated spacecraft.
    • It was first launched into the orbit by Falcon 9 rocket to resupply the International Space Station.

    The Central Bank of Russia has increased the interest rate from 4.5% to 5%.

    Why did the Bank increase the interest rates?

    This is the second time the apex bank is increasing the interest rates due to elevated inflation pressure. According to the bank, the inflation in the country will be in the range of 4.7% to 5.2% by 2021. It is expecting that Russia will return to its 4% target only in 2022.

    What caused inflation in Russia?

    Currency Depreciation caused Inflation in Russia. The Russian currency depreciated in April 2021 due to the following reasons:

    • Decrease in Russian oil prices
    • Decoupling moves in other emerging markets due to fears of US Sanctions
    • Russian military buildup near Ukraine

    Relation between Currency Depreciation and Inflation

    When the inflation rate of a country is high, then the prices of its goods will increase. This will make them less competitive in the international markets. Eventually these goods will experience less demand for exports and thus less demand for currency. This will ultimately lead to depreciation. Similarly, depreciation of currency will also lead to Inflation in the country.

    Russian Oil Prices

    Russia was producing 560 million tonnes of oil prior to the pandemic at a rate of 11.3 million barrels per day. It hit record levels in 2019. The production levels decreased for the first time as Russia agreed to cut its production level along side OPEC+ countries to stabilize oil prices. With this, Russia decreased its oil production by 9%.

    Russia is expected to increase its oil production in 2022.

    Background

    Whenever the oil prices begin to decrease in the world market, the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) will decide on how to share the burden. They will then together to increase the oil prices. However, the American shale producers who are not members of OPEC do not follow the actions taken. Thus, in 2016 oil producing countries formed a cohesive bloc outside the club. Russia plays a major role in this.

    Gambia recently became the second African country to eliminate Trachoma. Trachoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. Ghana became the first African country to eliminate Trachoma in 2018.

    What is Trachoma?

    It is a bacterial eye infection that damages the eye lids. It causes the eye lashes to turn inwards. Trachoma is one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases. It leads to irreversible vision losses and blindness if not corrected with surgery.

    Trachoma is caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

    Trachoma in Africa

    The number of people at risk from the disease decreased by more than 90% since 2000. However, more than forty countries in Africa are still affected by Trachoma.

    Success of Gambia

    Gambia eliminated Trachoma after four decades of rigorous works by NGOs, health workers and local communities. A network of eye units were created with the help of NGOs. These units identified people with Trachoma. Thousands of heath volunteers were trained to go door-to-door to find people with the disease.

    Background

    The World Health Organisation launched a roadmap of Global Targets to tackle twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases including Trachoma. The roadmap aims to eliminate all the twenty diseases by 2030.

    Trachoma in India

    India became free from Trachoma in 2017. According to the National Trachoma Survey Report, the overall prevalence of Trachoma was 0.7% in the country. This is much below the elimination criteria defined by the World Health Organisation.

    What causes Trachoma?

    Trachoma is caused due to poor environmental and personal hygiene. This mainly occurs when the person faces inadequate access to water and sanitation.

    The US President recently announced the country’s new Finance Plan at the Leader’s Summit on Climate. The Summit was hosted by the USA.

    About the Plan

    • The US has set a new goal to cut its emissions by 50% to 52% as compared to 2005 levels.
    • The US will double its climate funding by 2024. It is to triple its climate funding eventually.
    • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to release a new Climate Change Strategy in November 2021 at the COP26.
    • The United States International Development Finance Corporation is to change its development strategy to include climate in its plan. It will prioritize climate mitigation and adaption. This is the first time the US is including climate in its development strategy.
    • The Millennium Change corporation will focus on climate smart development and sustainable infrastructure. It aims to direct more than 50% of its funding towards climate-related investments.
    • The US Treasury will direct the executive directors in multilateral development banks such as World Bank to ensure that they set ambitious climate finance targets.
    • The plan will also focus on ending international investments in carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy products.

    Background

    The United States is the world’s second leading emitter after China. The country will have to contribute 800 billion USD as its share in the international climate finance.

    Millennium Change corporation

    It is a bilateral foreign US aid agency that was established in 2004. It provides financial aid to the countries with good economic growth through good policies.

    US International Development Finance Corporation

    The US International Development Finance Corporation is responsible for providing finances to private development projects in low-income and middle-income countries. It was formed in 2019.

    Every year, the World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated on April 26. The day is celebrated to highlight the importance of Intellectual Property. The day is celebrated by the World International Property and several other international organisations.

    World Intellectual Property Day

    The day was established by the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 2000. It aims to increase awareness on how copyright, patents, designs and trademarks impact on daily life.

    Why April 26?

    April 26 was chosen to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day as “Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation” entered into force.

    Celebrating World Intellectual Property Day was proposed by China.

    World Intellectual Property Organisation

    The WIPO was established in 1967. It entered into force in 1970. It is one of the fifteen specialized agencies of the United Nations. The organisation administers 26 international treaties that ranges between protection of broadcast and establishing international patent classification.

    India is a member of WIPO. India is also a member of the following WIPO administered international treaties:

    • Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate Access to Published Works by Visually Impaired Persons and Persons with Print Disabilities.
    • Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol
    • Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms
    • Washington Treaty on Intellectual Property in respect of Integrated Circuits
    • Patent Cooperation Treaty
    • Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks- Madrid Protocol
    • Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
    • Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property
    • Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization
    • Budapest Treaty on the International Recognition of the Deposit of Microorganisms for the Purposes of Patent Procedure