Current Affairs Summary With Quiz 26-04-2021

Unicorn Black Hole

Tiny newfound 'Unicorn' is closest known black hole to Earth | Space
Astronomers have discovered the smallest black holes. It has been named Unicorn. It is 1,500 light-years away from the earth. It is the closest of all the black holes found so far.

About Unicorn

The Unicorn is three times the mass of the sun. Its size is tiny for a black hole.
It appears that the Unicorn accompanies a red giant star. The scientists were able to locate the Unicorn by documenting the changes in the red giant star. This is because the black holes are generally not visible.
The black hole was discovered through an effect called Tidal Distortion.

Tidal Distortion

Tidal Distortion occurs through the gravitational interaction of an astronomical body. For instance, the tidal distortion between the Earth and the moon is higher during no moon and full moon days. The Tidal forces stretch a body along the line towards the centre of mass of another body.

Significance of Black Holes

Scientists need to study black holes as they tell them about the way the stars form and die.

Why is a Blackhole invisible?

A Black Hole is a region in space where the gravitational pull is so high. The gravitational pull is so strong that even light cannot get out. The gravity pull in the region is so strong as the matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This usually happens when a star is dying.

Are Black Holes the end stage of a star?

Yes. Most of the star material is blasted away into space during its final stages. However, the core implodes into a neutron star called the black hole.

Zhao: 1st Asian woman to win the best director Oscar

The Chinese born filmmaker Chloe Zhao has become the first Asian woman to win the Best Director at the Academy Awards. She won the award for her film Nomadland.

About Chloe Zhao

Zhao was born in China and went to a boarding school in London. She then moved to Los Angeles where she completed her high school. Her debut film was Songs My Brothers Taught Me. It was premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Her second film was The Rider. It received nominations at the Independent Spirit Award for the Best Film and Best Director.

Nomadland

Nomadland won three major awards namely Best Director, Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Picture. The film is about a woman who leaves town after her husband dies. She also becomes houseless as the sole industry closes down. She then lives in a van and travels around the US.

Academy Awards

The Academy Awards is also known as Oscars. They are awarded for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. They are considered the most prestigious awards in the world.
The winners are awarded a copy of a Golden Statuette as a trophy. The trophy is officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”.
The award was designed by Cedric Gibbons and sculpted by George Stanley.
It was first presented in 1929.

India at Oscars

Bhanu Athaiya was the first Indian to win Oscar in 1982. She won the award for Best Costume Design for the movie Gandhi. As of 2021, thirteen Indians were nominated for Oscars and eight have won in the scientific and technical category.

 New Zealand’s action to save Maui dolphins


The Maui Dolphins are found only on the West Coast of New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. They are one of the smallest dolphin’s subspecies globally. There are only 63 Maui dolphins left in the world.

What are recent New Zealand plans to save the Dolphins?

The New Zealand Government along with World Wide Fund and a few fishing companies is to develop a drone that is capable of finding and tracking Maui dolphins using Artificial Intelligence.
It will collect data on dolphins’ habitat, behaviour and population size. The data can then be used to inform the Government policy changes to stop the decline in the population. It was developed by a non-profit organisation MAUI63.
The Artificial Intelligence-based system will distinguish Maui dolphins from other species with more than 90% accuracy.

Reasons for the declining population

The Maui Dolphins are threatened by commercial fisheries. This includes trawling and set-netting.
They are affected by diseases such as Brucellosis and toxoplasmosis.
Low food availability
Climate Change
In 2014, the Government of New Zealand opened 3,000 square kilometres of the West Coast for oil drilling. This is the main habitat of Maui dolphins.

IUCN

The International Union of Conservation of Nature has listed the Maui Dolphins as a Critically Endangered species.

Toxoplasmosis

The Toxoplasmosis disease is currently the biggest threat to Maui Dolphins. It is caused by a parasite found in cat faeces.
The parasite survives in weathering condition and is virtually indestructible. As it enters into water, it is ingested by fish. It then reaches the dolphins when they feed on fish. The parasite causes organ failure and attacks the brain.

 Zhurong: China’s first Mars rover


China has named its first Mars rover Zhurong after a traditional fire god. The name signifies igniting the flame of Planetary Explorations of China.

About Zhurong

Zhurong is on board the Tianwen-1 Space probe.
It arrived at the Mars orbit in February 2021 and is due to land on the planet in May 2021.
With Zhurong, China will become the third country after the Soviet Union and the USA to achieve a soft landing on Mars. Also, it will become the second country to put a rover on Mars after the US.
Zhurong weighs 240 kilograms and is solar-powered.
Zhurong carries multispectral cameras and instruments to analyse the composition of the rocks. It will investigate subsurface characteristics with ground-penetrating radar.

Tianwen-1

The main aim of Tianwen-1 is to analyse and map the Martian surface and look for water ice and study the climate and surface environment.
It was launched in July 2020.
Tianwen-1 was launched with an orbiter, camera, lander and the Zhurong rover.
It weighs five tonnes and is one of the heaviest probes launched to Mars.
It was launched in Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle.
It was the second of the three space missions sent to Mars in 2020. The other missions launched were as follows:
The “Hope Orbiter” by the United Ara Emirates
Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity helicopter on Mars 2020 by the US

Recent Developments

China recently became the first country to land a space probe on the little-explored far side of the moon. It returned to the earth in December with lunar rocks for the first time since the 1970s.

CSIR Sero survey Results


The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research recently released the results of Sero Survey.

Key Findings of the Survey

The survey was conducted on 10,427 persons. Of these, only 10.14% showed sero positivity.
The survey suggested that the neutralising antibodies have declined. This had made people prone to reinfections.
Around 20% of seropositive individuals lagged neutralisation activity after five to six months.
The scientists conclude from the survey that this might be one of the reasons for the recurrence of outbreaks in March 2021.
India had a large pool of recovered immune subjects in September 2020. However, the duration for which the developed immunity can withstand is not sufficient to prevent future outbreaks.

What is sero positivity?

It is showing a positive result for a particular antibody in a blood test.

What is Antibody?

It is a blood protein that is generated to fight against a virus. The antibodies are generated against a specific antigen. More the antibodies higher is the immunity.
These antibodies are generated in response to substances that the body recognises as alien. It can be bacteria, virus or any other foreign substance in the blood.

What are Neutralising Antibodies?

They are those antibodies that are responsible for protecting cells from pathogens.

What is the issue?

A cured COVID-19 patient carries antibodies against the COVID-19 virus. His immunity holds as long as he generates these antibodies. According to CSIR, as days pass by these antibodies are reducing in recovered patients. This means that they are again vulnerable to the virus.

Current Scenario

India is currently facing a high surge in COVID-19 infections. The daily count increased to 3 lakhs in four consecutive days.

Infections after COVID Vaccination

Covid-19 podcast: Breakthrough infections rare in India
The Indian Council of Medical Research recently reported that around two to four of the ten thousand vaccinated people tested positive for the disease. This is referred to as “Breakthrough Infection”.

Key Findings of ICMR

According to ICMR, around 9.3 million have received the first dose of COVAXIN. Of this, 4,208 have tested positive, which is 0.02%. Of the 1.7 million who received the second dose, 695 tested positive, which is 0.04%.
Of the 100.3 million who received the first dose of the COVIDSHIELD vaccine, 17,145 tested positive, which is 0.03%. Of the 15 million who received the second dose of COVISHIELD, 5,014 tested positive, which is 0.04%.

What are Breakthrough Infections?

A person who has COVID-19 antigen or RNA after 14 days of taking the vaccine is said to have a Breakthrough Infection. In simple words, Breakthrough infections are those infections that occur in people who are vaccinated.
This is common in any vaccine. In AstraZeneca Clinical Trials, thirty out of 5,807 tested positive after fourteen days of the second shot.
During trials, COVID-19 vaccines have shown to be between 60% and 95% effective. In actuality, any vaccine is less effective than what is reported in trials.

Background

According to WHO, no vaccine offers 100% protection from any disease. It takes two weeks for the body to build immunity after being vaccinated.
In the US, around 7% got COVID-19 infections after vaccination.

Why do Breakthrough Infections occur?

One main reason for the occurrence of the infection after vaccination is improper vaccination. This might occur due to injecting the vaccine in the wrong place. Weak Immunity and age also cause breakthrough infection.

 Russia’s central bank increases interest rates

Russia Raises Interest Rates to Boost Ruble - WSJ
The Central Bank of Russia has increased the interest rate from 4.5% to 5%. 

Why did the Bank increase the interest rates?

This is the second time the apex bank is increasing the interest rates due to elevated inflation pressure. According to the bank, the inflation in the country will be in the range of 4.7% to 5.2% by 2021. It is expecting that Russia will return to its 4% target only in 2022.

What caused inflation in Russia?

Currency Depreciation caused Inflation in Russia. The Russian currency depreciated in April 2021 due to the following reasons:
  • Decrease in Russian oil prices
  • Decoupling moves in other emerging markets due to fears of US Sanctions
  • Russian military buildup near Ukraine

Relation between Currency Depreciation and Inflation

When the inflation rate of a country is high, then the prices of its goods will increase. This will make them less competitive in the international markets. Eventually, these goods will experience less demand for exports and thus less demand for currency. This will ultimately lead to depreciation. Similarly, depreciation of currency will also lead to Inflation in the country.

Russian Oil Prices

Russia was producing 560 million tonnes of oil before the pandemic at a rate of 11.3 million barrels per day. It hit record levels in 2019. The production levels decreased for the first time as Russia agreed to cut its production level alongside OPEC+ countries to stabilize oil prices. With this, Russia decreased its oil production by 9%.
Russia is expected to increase its oil production in 2022.

Background

Whenever oil prices begin to decrease in the world market, the OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) will decide on how to share the burden. They will then together to increase the oil prices. However, the American shale producers who are not members of OPEC do not follow the actions taken. Thus, in 2016 oil-producing countries formed a cohesive bloc outside the club. Russia plays a major role in this.

Gambia eliminates Trachoma 

What is trachoma? | NTDs | Protecting sight | Sightsavers
The Gambia recently became the second African country to eliminate Trachoma. Trachoma is one of the leading causes of blindness. Ghana became the first African country to eliminate Trachoma in 2018.

What is Trachoma?

It is a bacterial eye infection that damages the eyelids. It causes the eyelashes to turn inwards. Trachoma is one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases. It leads to irreversible vision losses and blindness if not corrected with surgery.
Trachoma is caused by bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.

Trachoma in Africa

The number of people at risk from the disease decreased by more than 90% since 2000. However, more than forty countries in Africa are still affected by Trachoma.

Success of Gambia

Gambia eliminated Trachoma after four decades of rigorous works by NGOs, health workers and local communities. A network of eye units was created with the help of NGOs. These units identified people with Trachoma. Thousands of health volunteers were trained to go door-to-door to find people with the disease.

Background

The World Health Organisation launched a roadmap of Global Targets to tackle twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases including Trachoma. The roadmap aims to eliminate all the twenty diseases by 2030.

Trachoma in India

India became free from Trachoma in 2017. According to the National Trachoma Survey Report, the overall prevalence of Trachoma was 0.7% in the country. This is much below the elimination criteria defined by the World Health Organisation.

What causes Trachoma?

Trachoma is caused due to poor environmental and personal hygiene. This mainly occurs when the person faces inadequate access to water and sanitation.

International Climate Finance Plan of the US

US to export vaccine raw material, deploy expert team to help India after  NSA Doval's call with counterpart - Coronavirus Outbreak News
The US President recently announced the country’s new Finance Plan at the Leader’s Summit on Climate. The Summit was hosted by the USA.

About the Plan

  • The US has set a new goal to cut its emissions by 50% to 52% as compared to 2005 levels.
  • The US will double its climate funding by 2024. It is to triple its climate funding eventually.
  • The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is to release a new Climate Change Strategy in November 2021 at the COP26.
  • The United States International Development Finance Corporation is to change its development strategy to include climate in its plan. It will prioritize climate mitigation and adaptation. This is the first time the US is including climate in its development strategy.
  • The Millennium Change corporation will focus on climate-smart development and sustainable infrastructure. It aims to direct more than 50% of its funding towards climate-related investments.
  • The US Treasury will direct the executive directors in multilateral development banks such as World Bank to ensure that they set ambitious climate finance targets.
  • The plan will also focus on ending international investments in carbon-intensive fossil fuel-based energy products.

Background

The United States is the world’s second-leading emitter after China. The country will have to contribute 800 billion USD as its share in international climate finance.

Millennium Change corporation

It is a bilateral foreign US aid agency that was established in 2004. It provides financial aid to countries with good economic growth through good policies.

US International Development Finance Corporation

The US International Development Finance Corporation is responsible for providing finances to private development projects in low-income and middle-income countries. It was formed in 2019.

World Intellectual Property Day: April 26

World Intellectual Property Day: April 26, 2020 | Abou Naja IP
Every year, World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated on April 26. The day is celebrated to highlight the importance of Intellectual Property. The day is celebrated by the World International Property and several other international organisations. This year, World Intellectual Property Day is being celebrated under the following theme:
Theme: IP and SMEs: Taking your ideas to market
April 26 was chosen to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day as “Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organisation” entered into force. Celebrating World Intellectual Property Day was proposed by

Quiz

Which country proposed to celebrate World Intellectual Property Day?
  • India
  • Australia
  • China
  • Russia
When was the first Academy Awards presented?
The US has set a new goal to cut its emissions by 50% to ___.
When did India became free from Trachoma?
Maui Dolphins are indigenous to ____.
The World Health Organisation launched a roadmap of Global Targets to tackle twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases by ____.
What is the revised interest rate of The Central Bank of Russia?
  • 5%
  • 4.65%
  • 7%
  • 10%
What is the name of China’s first Mars rover?
Who is the first Indian to win Oscar?
_____ has become the first Asian woman to win the Best Director at the Academy Awards.

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