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November 2nd week 2015 current affairs
Author : uppy
Category : Science & Technology Current
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November 2nd week 2015 current affairs

1) NASA to grow flowers in space for first time

  • Current Affirs Flowers could be blooming on the International Space Station (ISS) after the New Year, thanks to NASA`s first flowering crop experiment on the orbiting laboratory. NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren activated the Veggie plant growth system and its rooting "pillows" containing Zinnia seeds on the space station on 16th November. 
  • Growing Zinnias in orbit will help provide precursory information about other flowering plants that could be grown in space. It is the first time that a flowering crop will be grown on the orbiting laboratory, NASA said. 
  • Lindgren will turn on the red, blue and green LED lights, activate the water and nutrient system to Veggie, and monitor the plant growth. 
  • The Zinnias will grow for 60 days, which is twice as long as the first and second crop of Outredgeous red romaine lettuce that grew on the space station. During the growth cycle, the LED lights will be on for 10 hours and off for 14 hours in order to stimulate the plants to flower. 
  • Researchers also hope to gather good data regarding long-duration seed stow and germination, whether pollen could be an issue, and the impacts on crew morale. Growing tomato plants on the space station is planned for 2017, NASA said. The Veggie system was developed by Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at Kennedy before flight. 
  • Veggie, along with two sets of pillows containing romaine seeds and one set of zinnias, was delivered to the station by SpaceX on the third cargo resupply mission in April 2014.
2) World`s first `porous` liquid to filter carbon emissions developed
  • In a breakthrough, scientists have developed the world`s first `porous` liquid that can potentially be used to capture harmful carbon emissions to prevent them from entering the Earth`s atmosphere. 
  • Researchers at Queen`s University Belfast in UK, along with colleagues at the University of Liverpool and other international partners, invented the new liquid and found that it can dissolve unusually large amount of gas, which are absorbed into the `holes` in the liquid.
  • The research could pave the way for many more efficient and greener chemical processes, including the procedure known as carbon capture -trapping carbon dioxide from major sources, for example a fossil-fuel power plant, and storing it to prevent its entry into the atmosphere.

3) WHO warns of confusion on superbugs

  • People across the world are confused about the major threat to public health posed by drug-resistant superbugs and do not know how to stop that risk growing, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on 16th November. 
  • Ramping up its fight against antibiotic resistance with a survey of public awareness, the United Nations health agency said 64 per cent of those asked believed wrongly that penicillin-based drugs and other antibiotics can treat colds and flu, despite the fact such medicines have no impact on viruses. Around a third of people surveyed also wrongly believed they should stop taking antibiotics when they feel better, rather than completing the prescribed treatment course, the WHO said. 
  • Antibiotic resistance happens when bacteria mutate and adapt to become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat the infections they cause. Over-use and misuse of antibiotics exacerbate the development of drug resistant bacteria, often called superbugs.
  • Superbug infections -- including multi-drug-resistant forms of tuberculosis, typhoid and gonorrhea -- kill hundreds of thousands of people a year, and the trend is growing.
  • The WHO surveyed 10,000 people across 12 countries – Barbados, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, Sudan and Vietnam -- and found many worrying misconceptions.
4) Antibiotic resistance
  • Three quarters of respondents think antibiotic resistance means the body is resistant to the drugs, for example, whereas in fact it is the bacteria themselves that become resistant to antibiotics and their spread causes hard-to-treat infections. 
  • Some 66 per cent believe individuals are not at risk of a drug-resistant infection if they personally take their antibiotics as prescribed. And nearly half of those surveyed think drug resistance is only a problem in people who take antibiotics often. In fact, anyone, anywhere, of any age, can get a superbug infection.


5) UN report cites huge positive policy potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions

  • A new report packed with best practice climate policies from across the world was released on 18th November by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), revealing a wealth of existing opportunities to immediately scale up reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while powering up ambition to keep the global average temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius 
  • Science tells that there is one path for us to be able to have a stable planet and a safe stable economy, and that is to get onto a below 2 degree path that is fundamental and policy is actually following science as it should, said Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC 
  • Less than two weeks away from the UN climate conference in Paris, widely known asCOP21, she announced that 168 countries, covering almost 90 per cent of global emissions, have now submitted their national climate targets, known as INDCs.
  • These do make a huge dent in the projected increase in temperature that we would have by the end of the century, so if these INDCs are fully implemented then we would no longer be on a track of 4 or 5 degrees, it would be on a track of anywhere between 2.7 and 3 degrees, which is a much, much better projection in temperature rise, Figueres continued, but warned that this is not yet two degrees or below 2 degrees, which is what some countries still need for their survival and safety. 
  • Introducing the new UNFCCC report Climate Action Now A Summary for Policymakers 2015, Figueres said it is a solutions guide. It explains how nations can deploy a wide range of proven policies and utilize existing initiatives to meet the common challenge of climate change and sustainable development. 
  • It also highlights both national and international cooperative actions while underling the vital role of non-State actors such as companies, cities, regions and provinces in realizing bigger reductions in current and future emissions. 
  • UNFCC further described the report as providing, at the request of governments, a straightforward, inspiring go-to-reference to assist ministers, advisors and policymakers pursuing climate actions now and over the years and decades to come. 
  • The findings spotlight how effective policies across six key thematic areas not only reduce emissions rapidly but also advance goals in 15 other critical economic, social and environmental areas. 
  • Under the UNFCCC, governments have, over the past few years, led a significant effort during a series of technical expert meetings to identify and scope out the policies that lead to effective climate action this report is the fruit of that effort 
  • It underlines the myriad of remarkable transitions that are already occurring nationally and internationally in areas ranging from renewable energy to transportation and land use.
  • In doing so it provides governments and their partners with the blueprints and tool-kits to cost-effectively catalyze action now and take the Paris agreement to the next level of long term ambition, she added. 
  • She also noted that the remarkable reality revealed in this report is that the very policies that deal most effectively with climate change also offer a ready-made portfolio of actions that can equally assist the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by UN Member States in September.
6) India test-fires nuclear-capable strategic ballistic missile Agni-IV
  • Current Affirs India on 9th November test-fired its nuclear-capable strategic ballistic missile Agni-IV, from the Integrated Test Range at Abdul Kalam Island in the Odisha coast. The indigenously developed surface-to-surface Agni-IV missile is a two-stage weapon system and is capable of hitting a target at a distance of 4,000 kilometers. It is 20 metres long and weighs 17 tonnes. The sophisticated surface-to-surface missile is equipped with modern and compact avionics to provide high level of reliability. 
  • The trial was conducted by Strategic Force Command of the Indian Army. This was the fifth trial of Agni-IV missile. The last successful trial conducted on December 2, 2014. 



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