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Current Affairs Analysis

19th & 20th February 2017 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Barren Island: India’s only active volcano; Zealandia; Earth's core; First stretchable integrated circuit; ‘Year of Apple’; Archives of Confucius’ scions; Khajuraho Dance Festival 2017; 2017 Berlin International Film Festival; Mil Banche programme; Mexican Naica caves; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
February 20, 2017

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Aadhar Card Now Mandatory For School And College Students

Geophysical phenomena

  • Scientists claim discovery of drowned Pacific Ocean continent Zealandia
  • New theory explains why the Earth’s core doesn’t melt
  • India’s only volcano active again

Science & Technology

  • First stretchable integrated circuit made by using an inkjet printer

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Kashmir to observe 2017 as the ‘Year of Apple’
  • Archives of Confucius’ scions to be published
  • Khajuraho Dance Festival 2017
  • Two Indian films win award at 2017 Berlin International Film Festival
  • Mil Banche programme
  • Mexican caves, a home to life dating back 50,000 years

 

Polity & Governance

Aadhar Card Now Mandatory For School And College Students

Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry has announced that College and University students must have an Aadhar card or should have undergone Aadhar authentication in order to avail Central Sector Scholarship Scheme.

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  • The notification shall come into effect from the date of its publication in all states except Jammu and Kashmir.

Details:

  • Those receiving these scholarships but who don’t have an Aadhaar card will have to apply for enrolment by June 30 this year. However, this will not be applicable in Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Students who wish to avail the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme will also have to apply for Aadhaar by June 30, though it exempts the states of J&K, Assam and Meghalaya.

Significance of the move:

The move will bring in transparency and enable beneficiaries to get their entitlements directly in a convenient and seamless manner, and Aadhaar obviates the need for producing multiple documents to prove identity.

[Ref: Hindustan Times]

 

Geophysical phenomena

Scientists claim discovery of drowned Pacific Ocean continent Zealandia

Geologists have claimed discovery of new geological continent named Zealandia submerged beneath the south-west Pacific Ocean.

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  • Zealandia is around 4.5-million square km land mass and is 94% under water. Only its highest points — New Zealand and New Caledonia are visible.
  • While there is no formal recognition of the same by the New Zealand government, which is the major habitable administration on Zealandia; there is, however, wide interest in the media about the continent.

Why is it considered a continent?

  • High elevation relative to surrounding area
  • Unique geology
  • Definite area
  • Crust thicker than the oceanic floor

Key Facts:

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  • Zealandia is two-thirds the size of Australia and spreads out over 4.9-million-square kilometres of continental crust. It was once a part of Australia.
  • It is believed that it had broken off from Antarctica about 100 million years ago, and then from Australia about 80 million years ago as part of the breakup of super-continent Gondwanaland and sank beneath sea.
  • Compared to other continents it has much wider and deeper continental shelves.
  • Scientists identify two main portions of the continent, North Zealandia (or Western Province) and South Zealandia (or Eastern Province).
  • Sea-floor samples show that Zealandia consists of light continental crust and not the dark volcanic rocks that make up nearby underwater plateaus.
  • Volcanism is widespread across Zealandia but generally of low volume.
  • The highest point of Zealandia is Aoraki–Mount Cook at 3724 m.
  • Habitable areas currently fall under Zealandia include New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island Group.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

New theory explains why the Earth’s core doesn’t melt

Scientists have discovered why the crystallised iron core of the Earth remains solid, despite being hotter than the surface of the Sun.

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About the new theory explaining why the Earth’s core doesn’t melt?

  • Spinning within Earth’s molten core is a crystal ball — actually a mass formation of almost pure crystallised iron — nearly the size of the moon.
  • Scientists found that on the edge of the inner core, pieces of crystals’ structure continuously melt and diffuse only to be reinserted due to high pressure like “shuffling deck of cards.” This energy distribution cycle keeps the crystal stable and the core solid.
  • Here, changing atomic structure of iron crystals is mainly responsible for the solid core.
  • The core is likely composed of 96% pure iron, with the remaining four percent made up of nickel and some light elements.
  • As with all metals, the atomic-scale crystal structures of iron change depending on the temperature and pressure the metal is exposed to.
  • Atoms are packed into variations of cubic, as well as hexagonal formations. At room temperatures and normal atmospheric pressure, iron is in what is known as a body-centred cubic (BCC) phase, which is a crystal architecture with eight corner points and a centre point.
  • However, at extremely high pressure, the crystalline structures transform into 12-point hexagonal forms, or a close packed (HCP) phase.
  • At Earth’s core, where pressure is 3.5 million times higher than surface pressure — and temperatures are some 6,000 degrees higher — scientists have proposed that the atomic architecture of iron must be hexagonal.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

India’s only volcano active again

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  • According to scientists, India’s only live volcano at Barren Island in the Andaman and Nicobar has become active again.
  • After lying dormant for 150 years, Barren Island volcano had erupted in 1991 and since then it is showing sporadic activity. Now it is erupting in small episodes of five to 10 minutes.
  • Scientists from CSIR-NIO have been surveying the basin and have identified several small submerged volcanoes in a linear chain called a volcanic arc.
  • According to scientists, the active Barren island volcano is spewing smoke, ash and lava once again.
  • It is claimed that volcanoes is erupting the rising magma formed deep in the mantle due to the melting of the subducted Indian Ocean crust.
  • Scientists have sampled sediments and water and also have recovered coal-like black pyroclastic material of volcanic ejecta. These samples will help in deciphering nature of present and past volcanic activity in region.
  • The volcanic island is part of Andaman islands. Its northern part is barren and is uninhabited. It is also devoid of vegetation.

 

Science & Technology

First stretchable integrated circuit made by using an inkjet printer

Researchers from US based Michigan State University have developed the first stretchable integrated circuit (IC) made entirely using an inkjet printer.

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About the material:

  • This elastic material is made up of several materials fabricated from nanomaterials and organic compounds.
  • These compounds are dissolved in solution to produce different electronic inks, which can easily run through printer to make devices.

How It’s Made?

  • Using the ink, the researchers have successfully created the elastic material, the circuit and the organic light-emitting diode (OLED).
  • The next step is combining the circuit and OLED into a single pixel.

Significance of the material:

  • As the material is produced using a standard printer, it has a major potential cost advantage over current technologies that are expensive to manufacture.
  • Besides, stretchable electronic fabric can be easily folded and put in one’s pocket without breaking.

Potential applications:

  • The new stretchable ICs can be used in smart tablet that could be stretched in size, from small to extra-large.
  • Besides, it can be used in wearable electronics like rubber band-like wrist monitor that measures the wearer’s heartbeat, soft robotics applications and wallpaper that turns an entire wall into an electronic display.
[Ref: Indian Express]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Kashmir to observe 2017 as the ‘Year of Apple’

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  • In a major bid to promote the famed Kashmiri apples in domestic and foreign markets, J&K government has declared 2017 as ‘Year of Apple’.
  • As part of this, the Chief Minister launched the High Density Apple Plantation Scheme in Srinagar.
  • These high-density plants will be routed through J&K Bank along with the subsidy.
  • Jammu and Kashmir is the largest apple producing State in India at 11.2 metric tonnes, which accounts for 71% of national production.

 

Archives of Confucius’ scions to be published

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  • Over 2,000 copies of archived records of Chinese philosopher Confucius’s direct descendants will be published over the next four years.
  • The archived records of ‘Yanshenggong’, a hereditary title bestowed upon the eldest child of all direct descendants of Confucius, are published for the purpose of protection.
  • The Yanshenggong was a hereditary official who coordinated commemoration ceremonies for Confucius and managed the family’s internal affairs.
  • The archives, in more than 9,000 volumes spanning 2,000 years, contain content covering politics, economics, culture and thought.
  • Confucius (551-479 BC), an educator and philosopher, influenced generations of Chinese society.
  • He was the first Chinese person to set up private schools that enrolled students from all walks of life.
  • Confucius is reported to have Six lakh descendants in China.

 

Khajuraho Dance Festival 2017

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  • The 44th edition of world famous Khajuraho Dance Festival was held at in the backdrop of the famous Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh.
  • At this event, eminent Indian classical dancers had performed. It included performances of colourful and brilliant Indian dances like Kathak, Kuchipudi, Odissi, Bharatnatyam, and Mohniattam.
  • Khajuraho Temples is a group of Hindu and Jain Temples in Madhya Pradesh build by Chandela Dynasty between 950 and 1050 AD.
  • They are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

Two Indian films win award at 2017 Berlin International Film Festival

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  • Two Indian films, ‘Newton’ and ‘Aaba’ bagged top honours at the annual 67th Berlin International Film Festival.
  • Newton has won the CICAE Art Cinema Award.
  • Aaba is a short film. It has won Special Prize of Generation KPlus International Jury for Best Short Film. It is shot in Ziro Valley of Arunachal Pradesh. It is based on a tale about the bond between a grandfather and granddaughter.

 

Mil Banche programme

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  • Mil Banche (Let read together) programme was held in all the primary and middle government schools in Madhya Pradesh.
  • Under this programme, Chief Minister of State, his minister colleagues, public representatives and other dignitaries took classes in these schools to motivate children.
  • Besides them, district administrators, government officials, college students, businessmen, media persons, doctors, engineers, sports persons also took part.
  • They read out portion of Hindi book of their choice. They also motivated children to read other interested books along with textbooks.

 

Mexican caves, a home to life dating back 50,000 years

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  • Scientists have extracted long-dormant microbes from inside the famous giant crystals of the Naica mountain caves in Mexico – and revived them.
  • They have unearthed bizarre microbes trapped in crystals that survived on minerals under extremely punishing conditions in Mexican caves.
  • Scientists believe life trapped in crystals could be 50,000 years old.
  • The bizarre and ancient microbes were found dormant in caves in Naica, Mexico, and were able to exist by living on minerals such as iron and manganese.
  • The Naica caves, an abandoned lead and zinc mine, are half a mile (800 meters) deep.

 

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