Le Grand K
- Scientists have changed the way the kilogram is defined. The decision was made at the General Conference on Weights and Measures. The new definitions will come into force on 20 May 2019.
- Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called “Le Grand K” which is locked away in a safe in Paris.
- Le Grand K has been at the forefront of the international system of measuring weights since 1889. Several close replicas were made and distributed around the globe. But the master kilogram and its copies were seen to change – ever so slightly – as they deteriorated.
- In a world where accurate measurement is now critical in many areas, such as in drug development, nanotechnology and precision engineering – those responsible for maintaining the international system had no option but to move beyond Le Grand K to a more robust definition.
- The fluctuation is about 50 parts in a billion, less than the weight of a single eyelash. But although it is tiny, the change can have important consequences.
- Electromagnets generate a force. Scrap-yards use them on cranes to lift and move large metal objects, such as old cars. The pull of the electromagnet, the force it exerts, is directly related to the amount of electrical current going through its coils. There is, therefore, a direct relationship between electricity and weight.
- So, in principle, scientists can define a kilogram, or any other weight, in terms of the amount of electricity needed to counteract the weight (gravitational force acting on a mass).
- General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) is the highest international body of the world for accurate and precise measurements and comprises of 60 countries including India and 42 Associate Members.
My Son temple complex
- President Kovind has visited the My Son temple complex in Kwangnan province in Vietnam.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the My Son temple complex is among Vietnam’s most cherished cultural treasures.
Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development
- Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the New Delhi (India)-based independent research and advocacy think tank, has been named the recipient of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2018.
- CSE was established in the year 1980 under the leadership of late Anil Aggarwal and presently headed by Sunita Narain CSE has been working for the last four decades to incorporate environmental sustainability into development policies.
- It has worked on extending awareness and education about environmental issues, on air and water pollution, waste water management and industrial pollution, food safety and energy, climate change and above all in influencing official policy and public actions for sustainable development.
The Shri Ramayana Express
- A special tourist train to run on the Ramayana circuit to cover major spots related to the Hindu epic was recently flagged off from Safdarjung Railway Station in Delhi. The train will complete its journey till Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, in 16 days covering all important destinations associated with the life of Lord Ram.
- Ramayana Circuit is one of the fifteen thematic circuits identified for development under Swadesh Darshan scheme of Ministry of Tourism. Sitamarhi, Buxar, Darbhanga in Bihar are among the fifteen sites identified initially for development under this circuit in the country.
- The destinations are chosen according to the places where Lord Ram is believed to have travelled across India.
- The 15 destinations are — Ayodhya, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh, Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga in Bihar, Chitrakoot in Madhya Pradesh, Nandigram in West Bengal, Mahendragiri in Odisha, Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, Hampi in Karnataka and Nashik and Nagpur in Maharashtra.
Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM
- For the first time in more than two years, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has unfurled its robotic arm and put it through a series of maneuvers to ensure its space-worthiness after being packed away for launch and a long flight to the asteroid Bennu.
- This arm and its sampler head, known as the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM, is critical to the mission’s goal of retrieving at least 60 grams of material from the surface of Bennu and returning this sample to Earth by 2023. The collection device will act something like a reverse vacuum cleaner.
- The launch of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission took place on September 8, 2016. Since then, the spacecraft has been two years travelling through space to reach its target, primitive asteroid Bennu, in October, 2018.
- OSIRIS-Rex stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.
- OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers program, which previously sent the New Horizons spacecraft zooming by Pluto and the Juno spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter.
- Bennu was selected for a the OSIRIS-REx mission from over 500,000 known asteroids, due to it fitting a number of key criteria.
Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST)
- China has announced that its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor — an “artificial sun” designed to replicate the process our natural Sun uses to generate energy — just hit a new temperature milestone: 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees Fahrenheit).
- For comparison, the core of our real Sun only reaches about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit — meaning the EAST reactor was, briefly, more than six times hotter than the closest star.
- It is an experimental superconducting tokamak magnetic fusion energy reactor in Hefei, China. The Hefei-based Institute of Plasma Physics is conducting the experiment for the Chinese Academy of Sciences. It has operated since 2006. It was later put under control of Hefei Institutes of Physical Science.
Swadesh Darshan Scheme
- The Tourism Ministry had launched ‘Swadesh Darshan’ scheme with an objective to develop theme-based tourist circuits in the country. These tourist circuits will be developed on the principles of high tourist value, competitiveness and sustainability in an integrated manner.
- The scheme is 100% centrally funded for the project components undertaken for public funding.
- To leverage the voluntary funding available for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of Central Public Sector Undertakings and corporate sector.
- Funding of individual project will vary from state to state and will be finalised on the basis of detailed project reports prepared by PMC (Programme Management Consultant).
- A National Steering Committee (NSC) will be constituted with Minister in charge of M/O Tourism as Chairman, to steer the mission objectives and vision of the scheme.
- A Mission Directorate headed by the Member Secretary, NSC as a nodal officer will help in identification of projects in consultation with the States/ UTs governments and other stake holders.
- PMC will be a national level consultant to be appointed by the Mission Directorate.
13th East Asia Summit
- India has been participating in the EAS since its very inception in 2005.
- The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of, initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions. Membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.
- EAS meetings are held after annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.
- EAS is an initiative of ASEAN and is based on the premise of the centrality of ASEAN.
- EAS has evolved as a forum for strategic dialogue and cooperation on political, security and economic issues of common regional concern and plays an important role in the regional architecture.
- There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are – Environment and Energy, Education, Finance, Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases, Natural Disaster Management, and ASEAN Connectivity. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.
World Customs Organisation (WCO)
- WCO is independent intergovernmental body whose mission is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency of Customs administrations. It was established in 1952 as Customs Co-operation Council (CCC). It is the only international organization with competence in Customs matters and is considered as voice of international Customs community.
- It is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.
- It represents 182 Customs administrations across the globe that collectively process approximately 98% of world trade.
- It plays leading role in discussion, development, promotion and implementation of modern customs systems and procedures. It offers range of Conventions and other international instruments, as well as technical assistance and training services to its members. It also actively supports its members in their endeavours to modernize and build capacity within their national Customs administrations.
- It aims to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of member customs administrations and assist them to contribute successfully to national development goals, particularly revenue collection, national security, trade facilitation, community protection, and collection of trade statistics.
- Recently a regional meeting of World Customs Organisation (WCO) was held recently in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific(NEDAC)
- Recently a meeting of General Assembly of Network for Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific(NEDAC) is being held in New Delhi.
- The general assembly of 22 prominent cooperative organizations from eight countries unanimously decided to focus on C2C and capacity development to meet challenges of climate change as transformative cooperatives.
- NEDAC was set up in 1991 by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). NEDAC sensitises Governments in the region on the role of agricultural cooperatives in promoting agricultural and rural development to ensure rural food and livelihood security for millions of people in Asia and Pacific.
Barnard’s star b
- Recently astronomers have discovered a frozen planet with a mass over three times that of the Earth, orbiting the closest solitary star to the Sun.
- The potentially rocky planet is a ‘super-Earth’ and orbits around its host star once every 233 days, said researchers from Queen Mary University of London.
- The planet lies at a distant region from the star known as the ‘snow line’ This is well beyond the habitable zone in which liquid water, and possibly life, could exist.
- The planet’s surface temperature is estimated to be around -170°C, they said. However, if the planet has a substantial atmosphere the temperature could be higher and conditions potentially more hospitable.
- Barnard’s star b is the second closest known exoplanet to our Sun. The closest lies just over four light-years from Earth. That exoplanet, Proxima b, orbits around the red dwarf Proxima Centauri.