Facts in News

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    Facts in News

    Statehood Day of Sikkim

    Recently, Prime Minister Narendra greeted the people of Sikkim on their Statehood Day.

     

    Historical Background

    • Sikkim was founded by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century.
      • The Namgyal dynasty ruled Sikkim until 1975.
    • It became a princely state of British India in 1890.
    • Declared as Protectorate of India in 1950 following the Indo-Sikkimese Treaty
      • Under this treaty, India is responsible for the external relations, defence, and strategic communications of Sikkim.
    • Became the 22nd state of India on 16th May 1975.

     

    Key Points

    • Location: Northeast India (mainly eastern Himalayas).
    • Capital: Gangtok
    • Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest Indian state.
    • Borders:
      • North and Northeast: Tibet (China)
      • Southeast: Bhutan.
      • South: West Bengal.
      • West: Nepal
    • Geography:
      • Mount Kanchenjunga (India’s highest peak and the world’s third-highest mountain) is situated here.
      • Kanchenjunga National Park (KNP) is India’s high-elevation conservation area.
        • In 2016, UNESCO declared KNP as a World Heritage Site under the ‘mixed’ category (sites containing elements of both natural and cultural significance).
      • Major Rivers: Teesta River and its tributaries such as the Rangit, Lhonak, Talung, and Lachung.

    Image Courtesy: Sikkim Tourism

    Winchcombe Meteorite

    A piece of Winchcombe meteorite will be displayed at the National History Museum, Gloucestershire (UK).

    • The Winchcombe meteorite is known as a carbonaceous meteorite.
      • This kind of meteorite can’t be modified, by either melting or differentiation of the parent body.

    Meteorite

    • Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
      • Also known as “space rocks”. 
    • When meteoroids enter the Earth’s atmosphere they are called meteors
    • But if a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and hits the ground, it is called a meteorite.

     

    Significance

    • It dates back to the birth of the solar system nearly 4.5 billion years ago.
    • Provide clues to scientists and researchers about the beginning of the solar system and Earth. 
    • Space missions to Asteroids:
      • NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission (2018) for asteroid Bennu.
      • Japan’s Hayabusa 2 mission for asteroid Ryugu (2014).

    Image Courtesy: BBC

    Zhurong Rover

    China’s uncrewed ‘Tianwen-1’ spacecraft landed safely on the northern hemisphere of Mars (also known as Utopia Planitia), with ‘Zhurong’ rover, the onboard lander.

    • Aim: Study the Martian atmosphere and geology.
    • China became the 2nd country after the USA send a rover to explore the mysterious Red Planet.
    • If ‘Zhurong’ is deployed successfully then China will become the first country to successfully orbit, land and offload a rover during its maiden Mars mission.

     

    Other Mars missions

    • United States: Viking 1, Viking 2, Opportunity & Spirit and Perseverance rovers to explore Mars.
    • Soviet Union (present Russia): Launched Mars probe in 1971, but communication was lost.
    • India: Launched Mangalyaan (Mars Orbiter Mission) in 2014 and became the 1st Asian nation to reach Martian orbit (in 1st attempt) in the world.

    Image Courtesy: Bangkok Post

    Zeolite Cargo Flights

    Air India has started the first of its “zeolite cargo flights” to import zeolite for use in medical oxygen plants.

    • Zeolites are crystalline solid structures made of silicon, aluminium and oxygen.
    • Zeolites occur naturally and are also produced industrially on a large scale. 
    • They are often also referred to as molecular sieves.

     

    Key Points

    • Administered under: Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
      • DRDO will utilize the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, to set up these medical oxygen plants.
    • Significance:
      • These oxygen plants will help in supplementing oxygen supplies for COVID-19 patients.
      • The technology uses the pressure swing adsorption process and molecular sieve zeolite in oxygen generation.
        • The pressure swing adsorption process is a cyclic process that uses beds of solid adsorbent to remove impurities from the gas and generally produces higher-purity hydrogen
      • The technology will be especially useful in urban, remote and rural settings with the on-site generation of medical oxygen in a cost-effective manner.

    Asian Gracile Skink

    Recently, an Asian gracile skink species have been discovered from the Western Ghats.

     

    Key Points

    • Scientific name: Subdoluseps nilgiriensis.
    • They are non-venomous and their inconspicuous limbs make them resemble snakes.
      • It also looks like Subdoluseps pruthi that is found in parts of the Eastern Ghats.
    • Size: 7 cm
    • Colour: Sandy Brown
    • Diet: Not known
    • IUCN Status: Vulnerable
    • Threats: Forest Fires, construction activities, afforestation, rapid urbanisation etc.

    Image Courtesy: The Hindu

    Mice Rain in Australia

    Recently, New South Wales (Southern Australia) has faced mouse plague due to sudden Mice Rain.

    • This sudden mice rain happens due to unusually abundant grain harvest this year.
    • To control the plague, the government has now authorised the use of a poison called bromadiolone.
    • Plague: 
      • It is an infectious disease caused by Yersinia pestis bacteria, usually found in small mammals and their fleas. 
      • The disease is transmitted between animals via their fleas and, as it is a zoonotic bacteria, it can also transmit from animals to humans.

    Key Points

    • The mice have a short breeding cycle (a pair of breeding mice can give birth to a new litter every 21 days or so) and are not very choosy about food. 
      • The rodents (which includes rats and mice) are the second most successful mammals on the planet after humans.
    • Impact:
      • Rodents can cause damage to food grains, domestic households, commercial businesses, farms, manufacturers and livestock. 
      • They can not only gnaw through materials but can also ruin supplies by excreting them. 
      • Spread diseases such as leptospirosis and typhus fever. 
      • They can also carry fleas or ticks that can harm pets and humans.

    Bogs

    Recently, a pair of cranes were spotted last year on a restored peat bog in Ireland.

     

    Key Points

    • Bogs (also called quagmires) are soft, spongy wetlands that accumulate peat– a fossil fuel that is used for heating homes and businesses in northern Europe. 
    • Bogs also act as carbon sinks, sequestering around 200 million tons of carbon from the environment in Siberia and Scandinavia. 
    • Threats:
      • The extraction of peat or for development activities, the ecosystem got destroyed including damage to species such as cranes. 
    • Restoration: 
      • Rewetting and reintroducing bog plants.

    Image Courtesy: Science Mag

    MS Narasimhan

    Recently, a famous mathematician Professor MS Narasimhan passed away.

     

    Key Points

    • Along with C.S. Seshdhari, he introduced the Narasimhan–Seshadri theorem.
      • This theorem is related to geometry, in which stable holomorphic vector bundles lie over a compact Riemann surface.
    • He was also elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society, United Kingdom
    • He has been the only Indian to receive the King Faisal International Prize in the field of science.