Science & Technology Current
January 4th week 2015 current affairs
Category : Science & Technology Current
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1) Centre approves Neutrino project

  • Centre has given its nod to launch a project for experiments in high-energy physics. India will join the global high-end scientific Neutrino Club
  • The Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the project, which is to come up at Pottipuram village in Tamil Nadu. The investment for this is Rs 1, 500 crore.
  • The project will be funded jointly by the Department of Science and Technology and Atomic Energy, while the infrastructure will be created with the help of the Tamil Nadu government.
  • The underground project, which will come up near Pottipuram village in Theni district on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border, will comprise a complex of caverns — the main cavern, which will house the current detector, will be 130 metres long, 26 metres wide and 30 metres high.
  • There will be two smaller caverns that will be used for setting up experiments for neutrino double detector and dark matters, Mondal said. The complex will be approached by a 2-km-long tunnel.
  • The Inter Institutional Centre for High Energy Physics will come up in Madurai, about 110 km from the Observatory.
  • India will also seek international participation in the project, so that it turns out to be an international hub for high-end research such as CERN in Geneva, Mondal said. He however, added, Indian participation in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project will continue.


2) Efficient e-waste management programme launched

  • International Finance Corporation (IFC), in partnership with e-waste asset management and recycling company Attero, had launched the Clean-E-India initiative to collect and responsibly recycle e-waste through an inclusive approach that integrates informal waste collectors in an organised network.
  • As part of the initiative, franchisees will partner in the project and work with informal last mile collectors (scrap collectors) who will also get trained in efficient e-waste collection and disposal. Simultaneously, collection centers are being established and public awareness is being raised about in proper disposal of electronic and electrical assets. The integrated programme has been launched in four cities - Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad and is being supported by leading producers including Wipro, Samsung, Voltas, Acer, Videocon, and Haier.
  • Since 95 per cent of the e-waste collected in India is handled by the informal sector, the initiative is strategically designed to work in tandem with local implementation partners who have identified franchisees in these cities. The franchisees will work with the last mile collectors and the entire collection would be sent to Attero’s plant for processing and recycling.

3) House panel discusses report on changes in green laws

  • Though the government is still to take a view on the recommendations of the T S R Subramanian panel on changes in environmental laws, the Parliamentary Standing Committee related to the ministries of Science and Technology and Environment has taken up the panel’s report for discussions and begun hearing views of various stakeholders.
  • On 9th January, the Standing Committee, headed by former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar invited eight environmental experts to know about their opinion on the Subramanian committee recommendations.
  • The committee was constituted by the Environment Ministry last year to suggest changes in six existing environmental laws with the objective of bringing them in line with current requirements. But the committee recommended the creation of a new environmental governance architecture.
  • The government is still to accept or reject the recommendations. But Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said amendments to many green laws would be brought in the budget session of Parliament and these would broadly be based on the recommendations made by the Subramanian Committee.


5) Reactors under IAEA safeguards

  • Paving the way for import of fuel for its nuclear reactors, India will complete the process of placing its civilian reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in the next two days. The last two reactors — units 1 and 2 of the Narora Atomic Power Station in Bulandshahar in Uttar Pradesh — will come under the safeguards of the international atomic energy body in the next two days and the necessary paper work is underway.
  • So far 20 facilities have been placed under IAEA safeguards. These reactors are now eligible to use imported uranium.
  • This includes unit 1 and 2 of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), units 1 to 6 of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, units 1 and 2 of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, and units 1 and 2 of Kakrapar Atomic Power Station.

6) About International Atomic Energy Agency

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organization on 29 July 1957. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

7) IPCC future not tied to Paris Climate Deal

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading UN body for the assessment of climate change, is continuing its work for the betterment of environment, according to it’s Chairman RK Pachauri. He said that the IPCC would continue its work, no matter whether countries arrive at a global climate deal next year in Paris or not. Its successive science-based reports had always been key inputs for negotiators in the past over two decades.
  • The IPCC had come out with its last (fifth) assessment report in November ahead of the Lima climate talks. It is also most likely to come out with its sixth assessment report in future, bringing more scientific information to the table for policy-makers and general public on causes and impact of climate-damaging greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.
  • Amid speculation over the future of the IPCC once it submitted its `synthesis` report, its chairman R K Pachauri said his expectation was that the body would also come out with the sixth assessment report (AR6) and a decision in this regard would hopefully be taken by member countries in February, 2015.
  • The IPCC is a scientific body which reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It was established in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.
  • The body has since then come out with five successive assessment reports, telling the global community how human activities are playing havoc with environment and how it led to extreme weather events, melting of glaciers and acidification of oceans due to global warming.
  • It was the IPCC second assessment report (AR2) of 1995 that had provided important material and key inputs to negotiators in the run-up to adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

8) Sri Lankan flying snake, spotted

  • A flying snake, known to be endemic to Sri Lanka, has been sighted in Andhra Pradesh`s Seshachalam forests, forest officials and researchers said.
  • According to researchers, this is the first time that Chrysopelea taprobanica has been sighted outside the island nation.
  • The species, known to be found in dry zone lowlands and parts of the intermediate climatic zones in Sri Lanka, was spotted at the Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve in Chittoor district.
  • It was about a year ago that the species was seen in Chalama, a core forest area about 25 km from the hill shrine of Tirumala.
  • Morphological studies and DNA tests proved that it was indeed Chrysopelea taprobanica, which glides by stretching its body into a flattened strip.However, the researchers have revealed this now after Checklist, a journal of biodiversity data, mentioned it in its latest issue.

9) Low-cost phone launched by ICRISAT

  • A customised `low-cost` phone cum tablet has been launched for farmers by Hyderabad-based International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). The device will allow information to be precisely targeted at individual farmers who own small plots of land to help them purchase inputs at lower prices, get a better price for their produce and link them to markets, to put them on the path to prosperity, ICRISAT Director General William Dar said, while launching the device on 29th December.
  • The device priced at USD 299, has been developed by ICRISAT`s Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovations for Agriculture in collaboration with NUNC Systems, a city-based company.
  • Apart from regular phone services, developing world farmers would receive free messages about weather and pest problems while sharing the most competitive agricultural inputs and crop prices.

10) Modi pitches for greater autonomy to Universities

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 3rd January pitched for greater academic freedom and autonomy to universities and said educational institutions “must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures”. Speaking at the 102nd session of the Indian Science Congress at the University of Mumbai, Modi said these were required to place the university system at the “cutting edge of the research and development activities in the country”.
  • Saying ease of doing research was as important as ease of doing business, Modi promised the scientific community he would cut red tape.
  • He stressed the need to make investment in science and technology a part of corporate social responsibility and said digital connectivity must be “as much a basic right” as access to schools. He sought efforts to “revive the romance” of science in society and “rekindle” the love for it in children.

Indian Science Congress:

  1. The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British Chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMahon. It occurred to them that scientific research in India might be stimulated if an annual meeting of research workers somewhat on the lines of the British Association for the Advancement of Science could be arranged.
  2. From this modest beginning with hundred and five members and thirty five papers communicated for reading at the first session, ISCA has grown into a strong fraternity with more than ten thousand members till to date.
  3. The Association was formed with the following objectives:
  4. To advance and promote the cause of science in India
  5. To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India
  6. To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications as may be considered desirable.
  7. To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science including the rights of disposing of or selling all or any portion of the properties of the Association.
  8. To do and perform any or all other acts, matters and things as are conductive to, or incidental to, or necessary for, the above objects.
  9. The first meeting of the Congress was held from January 15-17, 1914 at the premises of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, with the Honourable Justice Sir Asutosh Mukherjee, the then Vice-Chancellor of the Calcutta University, as President. One hundred and five scientists from different parts of India and abroad attended and the papers numbering 35 were divided into six sections-Botany, Chemistry, Ethnography, Geology, Physics, Zoology under six Sectional Presidents.