Essential Facts (Prelims) – May 14 , 2019


Category: Sc& tech

  • As many as 110 teenagers, aspiring space scientists from all States and Union Territories, began a two-week residential training programme to learn about the national space programme first hand.
  • They are the first batch of young scientists or ‘Yuvika’ (YuvaVigyaniKaryakram) that the Indian Space Research Organisation plans to hold every year.
  • Yuvikafocusses on one such important area and would inculcate a scientific temper in the students apart from contributing to national integration and nation building.


Category: International

  • Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has invited India to be an observer in the CTBT.
  • Being an observer would give India access to data from the IMS — a network which when complete will consist of 337 facilities (321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide labs) located in 89 countries.
  • This system can detect even small nuclear explosions using seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound and radionuclide technology.
  • CTBTO is located in Vienna.

Coastal Regulation Zone

Category: Environment

  • While the CRZ Rules are made by the Union Environment Ministry, implementation is supposed to be done by state governments through their Coastal Zone Management Authorities.
  • The states are also supposed to frame their own coastal zone management plans in accordance with the central Rules.
  • CRZ Rules govern human and industrial activity close to the coastline, in order to protect the fragile ecosystems near the sea.
  • The Rules, mandated under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, were first framed in 1991.
  • They sought to restrict certain kinds of activities, like large constructions, setting up of new industries, storage or disposal of hazardous material, mining, or reclamation and bunding, within a certain distance from the coastline.
  • In all CRZ Rules, the regulation zone has been defined as the area up to 500 m from the high-tide line.
  • Despite several amendments, states found the 1991 Rules to be extremely restrictive.
  • The Centre notified fresh CRZ Rules in 2011, which addressed some concerns.
  • An exemption was made for the construction of the Navi Mumbai airport.
  • After even these Rules were found inadequate, however, the Environment Ministry in 2014 set up a committee under ShaileshNayak to give suggestions for a new set of CRZ Rules.
  • The January this year, the government notified new CRZ Rules with the stated objectives of promoting sustainable development and conserving coastal environments.
  • For the so-called CRZ-III (Rural) areas, two separate categories have been stipulated. In the densely populated rural areas (CRZ-IIIA) with a population density of 2,161 per sq km as per the 2011 Census, the no-development zone is now 50 m from the high-tide level, as against the 200 m stipulated earlier.
  • In the CRZ-IIIB category (rural areas with population density below 2,161 per sq km) continue to have a no-development zone extending up to 200 m from the high-tide line.
  • The new Rules have a no-development zone of 20 m for all islands close to the mainland coast, and for all backwater islands in the mainland.

Beluga Whale

Category: Sc& tech

  • A beluga whale swimming in the Arctic off Norway has given rise to speculation that it is a spy being used by the Russians.
  • Beluga whales generally live in the icy waters around Greenland, Norway and Russia. They can grow up to 6 m long, and are related to dolphins.
  • Other marine mammals are known to have been used for military use, including bottlenose dolphins by the US Navy since the 1960s.
  • A dolphin can identify objects underwater that would be invisible to human divers.

African Swine Fever

Category: Sc& tech

  • Around 1.2 million pigs have been culled in Vietnam due to the risk of being infected with African swine fever,
  • The outbreak spread into the country from neighbouring China.
  • The African swine fever is a highly infectious disease for pigs and is no vaccine or medical remedy available.
  • However, the virus is harmless to humans.

Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

Category:  Sc& tech

  • Scientists at Cambridge have finished designing the ‘brain’ of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s largest radio telescope.
  • When complete, the SKA will enable astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey the entire sky much faster than any system currently in existence.
  • The SKA’s Science Data Processor (SDP)’s total compute power is to be around 250 PFlops — that’s 25 per cent faster than IBM’s Summit, the current fastest supercomputer in the world.

Shrinking Moon

Category: Sc& tech

  • The Moon is steadily shrinking, causing wrinkling on its surface and earthquakes, according to an analysis of imagery captured by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
  • Lunar basin Mare Frigoris near the Moon’s north pole — one of many vast basins long assumed to be dead sites from a geological point of view — has been cracking and shifting.
  • Unlike our planet, the Moon doesn’t have tectonic plates; instead, its tectonic activity occurs as it slowly loses heat from when it was formed 4.5 billion years ago. This in turn causes its surface to wrinkle, similar to a grape that shrivels into a raisin.
  • Since the moon’s crust is brittle, these forces cause its surface to break as the interior shrinks, resulting in so-called thrust faults, where one section of crust is pushed up over an adjacent section.