Science & Technology - Current Affairs Questions and Answers

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1)   Which molecule can be used as a potential drug to fight Zika?
- Published on 24 Jul 17

a. An antibiotic compound
b. An allopathic compound
c. An Ayurveda compound
d. A herbal compound
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: An antibiotic compound

Explanation:
Researchers from a southeastern Spanish university announced the discovery of a molecule that could be used as a potential drug to fight the effects of a Zika virus infection.

San Antonio Catholic University of Murcia said that scientists belonging to its Bioinformatics and High-Performance Computing research group had found that a compound previously used as an antibiotic countered the symptoms of the mosquito-borne disease.

It’s a drug that had been withdrawn from the market because it had lost its potency as an antibiotic, but we know it can be administered to humans.

The molecular structure of the proteins involved in the Zika virus’ replication process was first described only a year ago.

Zika: Know More

  • Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae.
  • It is spread by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti and A. albopictus.
  • Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947.
  • Scientific name: Zika virus
  • Higher classification: Flavivirus
  • Rank: Species
  • Did you know: Serological tests, including immunofluorescence assays and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays may indicate the presence of anti-Zika virus IgM and IgG antibodies, according to WHO.


2)   Which is the sun’s closest star neighbour?
- Published on 21 Jul 17

a. Proxima Centuari
b. Proxima Alpha
c. Proxima Astrosat
d. Andromeda
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Proxima Centuari

Explanation:
The Sun’s closest star neighbour, Proxima Centauri, a cool dwarf star situated a little over four light years away, may not be inclined to harbour habitable planets, if its temperament is anything to go by.

AstroSat, along with other space and earth-based observatories, has detected a powerful solar flare sent out by this star.

At an energy of 10-raised-to-30 ergs, this explosion is about 100 times a typical flare.

If such a flare occurs in our Sun, it might have a devastating effect on power grids, interrupt broadcasts and electricity, affect electronic instruments, and cause excess UV radiation in space.

On 31 May 2017, three space-based observatories, the Astrosat, Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope, and the ground-based High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) observatory, participated in a multi-wavelength simultaneous observation campaign.

The mission teams of all satellites agreed to point to this star and spend a whole day watching this particular star.

Also, AstroSat is sensitive enough to easily catch a flare from a star that is so close to us, if it happens during the night time of the satellite and if the telescope is pointed towards this star, as was the case here.

Last year’s discovery of Proxima Centauri b - a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri and, more importantly, lying in its habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone - had set everyone wondering if it could host life.


3)   UIDAI has launched which app that permits Aadhaar card holders to carry aadhar details in their smartphones?
- Published on 21 Jul 17

a. mAadhaar
b. eAadhaar
c. mobileAadhaar
d. onlineAadhaar
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: mAadhaar

Explanation:
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has launched the mAadhaar app, a digital tool that allows holders of Aadhaar numbers to carry their in their smartphones.

The app syncs all information available on your Aadhaar, such as demographic details, name, date of birth, gender, postal address and photograph, after you link your Aadhaar with the app.

Now that is a convenient way to carry Aadhaar everywhere, all the time.

The app also allows you to lock and unlock your biometric data–a feature that was earlier possible only through the UIDAI web portal.

For safety and security reasons, the mAadhaar app uses a two-layer authentication.

The app has a Google Authenticator-like one-time password generation tool within the app for this purpose.

The OTPs generated by the tool are read by the app automatically; there is no way to enter them manually.

The app allows you to update your profile using the app, and the change reflects in the app once they are approved.

The mAadhaar app APK file is already available for download on Google Play marketplace, and has been launched only for Android users only for now; however, it might be released for iOS soon as well.

However, the app is currently in beta stage, notes UIDAI in its announcement tweet, and some of the features will be made available post future updates.

Notably, the app allows users to lock or unlock biometrics data.

Once a resident enables Biometric Locking system their biometric remains locked till the Aadhaar Holder chose to either Unlock it (which is temporary) or Disable the Locking system.

Interestingly, the mAadhaar app also comes with "Time-based One-Time Password (TOTP)" feature that can be used instead of SMS-based OTP.

With the mAadhaar app, users will be able to get the updated view of the profile upon completion of the update request and they will even be able to share QR code and password protected eKYC data to retrieve accurate demographic information from it instead of manual entry.

To recall, a new amendment to the tax proposals in the Finance Bill for 2017-18 made it mandatory from July 1 for anyone who has a PAN card to provide their Aadhaar number to the principal director general of income tax (systems) or DGIT (systems).


4)   US Navy has fired the world’s first operational and deployed laser weapons system from which warship?
- Published on 20 Jul 17

a. USS Ponce
b. USS Smith
c. USS Enterprise
d. USS Admiral
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: USS Ponce

Explanation:
US Navy test fired the world’s first operational and deployed laser weapons from a warship in the Persian Gulf.

The world’s first active laser weapons system was fired from the Austin-class amphibious transport dock USS Ponce.

The laser successfully destroyed an unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) and moving surface targets.

The new weapon releases photons - elementary particles which transmit light - at the speed of light silently hitting their target and burning it to a temperature of thousands of degrees.

Unlike depicted in movies such as Star Wars, the laser beam, essentially a narrow beam of focused light, is entirely invisible.

It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don’t see the beam, it doesn’t make any sound, it’s completely silent and it’s incredibly effective at what it does.

Lasers are primarily intended for short-range defence (one to five miles) against aircraft, drones, and small boats.

Second-generation laser weapons systems are currently under development intended to take on faster targets such as incoming ballistic missiles.

During previous tests, lasers have taken out cruise missiles, mortars and other projectiles, according to the USDD.

The $40 million weapons system requires a crew of three and a supply of electricity (generated from its own small generator) to operate.

The 30-kilowatt, laser weapon, installed aboard the USS Ponce already in 2014, is extremely accurate and can be scaled depending on the target.

Unlike a traditional gun, a laser never runs out of bullets given that it has an infinite magazine as long as it is connected to a power source.

Furthermore, in comparison to missile-based defensive systems firing a laser is cheap at $4 million per shot.

The downside of laser weapons systems is that they consume a lot of energy on the one hand, and that they have difficulties penetrating dust, haze, and smoke on the other hand, which makes it difficult to effectively operate them under adverse weather conditions.

Possible counter-measure against laser weapons include fitting aircraft, boats and drones, with anti-laser coating or laser-deflecting mirrors.

An international agreement prohibits the targeting of human beings with laser weapons of any type.


5)   Who is the first child in the world to undergo double hand transplant successfully in July 2017?
- Published on 20 Jul 17

a. Zion Harvey
b. Bryan Harvey
c. Dion Harvey
d. Tyran Harvey
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Zion Harvey

Explanation:
The first child in the world to undergo a double hand transplant is now able to write, feed and dress himself, doctors have said, declaring the ground-breaking operation a success after 18 months.

10-year old Zion Harvey, who underwent surgery to replace both hands in July 2015 is now even able to play baseball.

Eighteen months after the surgery, the child is more independent and able to complete day-to-day activities.

He continues to improve as he undergoes daily therapy to increase his hand function, and psychosocial support to help deal with the ongoing demands of his surgery.

Harvey had his hands and feet amputated at the age of two, following a sepsis infection. He also had a kidney transplant.

Harvey was already receiving drugs to suppress any immune reaction to his kidney, which was a key factor in his selection for the 10-plus hour hand transplant surgery.

Immunosuppressive drugs must be taken continuously to prevent a patient’s body from rejecting the transplant.

These drugs carry risks, including diabetes, cancer and infections.

The child has “undergone eight rejections of the hands, including serious episodes during the fourth and seventh months of his transplant.

All of these were reversed with immunosuppression drugs without impacting the function of the child’s hands.”

Harvey continues to take four immunosuppression drugs and a steroid.

Before the double hand transplant, Harvey had limited ability to dress, feed and wash himself through adapted processes, using his residual limbs or specialist equipment.

The donor hands became available in July 2015 from a deceased child.

Within days of the surgery, Harvey discovered he could move his fingers, using the ligaments from his residual limbs.

Eight months after the operation, Harvey was using scissors and drawing with crayons.

Within a year, he could swing a baseball bat using both hands. He also threw out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game last August.

Regular meetings with a psychologist and a social worker were part of the recovery process, aimed at helping him cope with his new hands.

Scans have shown his brain is adapting to the new hands, developing new pathways to control movement and feel sensations.

The world’s first double hand transplant in a child has been successful under carefully considered circumstances.

The first successful hand transplant in an adult was carried out in 1998.


6)   What is SOHUM?
- Published on 18 Jul 17

a. A low cost hearing screening device for newborns
b. A low cost hearing screening device for elderly
c. A contraception initiative for women
d. A birth control programme for India
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: A low cost hearing screening device for newborns

Explanation:
The Union Ministry of Science and Technology has launched SOHUM, an indigenously developed low-cost hearing screening device for newborns.

The innovative medical device has been developed by the School of International Biodesign (SIB) startup Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt Ltd under Department of Biotechnology (DBT) supported (SIB).

The Sohum aims to make this battery-operated non-invasive screening device available across the country to minimise or reverse the hearing loss damage.

It is a low cost portable device which uses brain-stem auditory evoked response, a best screening choice recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics and National Health Services of UK.

It measures auditory brain waves via three electrodes placed on the baby’s head. When stimulated, electrodes detect electrical responses generated by the brain’s auditory system.

If there is no response, it indicates child cannot hear.

Once it is detected at quite an early age, measures can be taken to prevent other problems such as impaired communication skills and even possible mental illness.

It is battery operated device and is non-invasive, it doesn’t require babies to be sedated, which is risky, testing in process at present.

It has in-built algorithm that filters out ambient noise from the test signal. This is important because health clinics can be crowded and noisy.

SIB: Know More

  • School of International Biodesign SIB is a flagship Program of the DBT aimed to develop innovative and affordable medical devices as per India’s unmet clinical needs and to train the next generation of medical technology innovators in India.
  • It is implemented jointly at All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and IIT Delhi in collaboration with International partners.
  • Biotech Consortium India Limited manages techno-legal activities of the Program.
  • It serves as a valuable contribution to the Make in India campaign of the Government.


7)   Scientists have developed a strong artificial spider silk composed entirely of _______.
- Published on 18 Jul 17

a. Plastic
b. Silicone
c. Carbon
d. Water
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Water

Explanation:
Scientists from the University of Cambridge have developed super-stretchy and strong artificial (synthetic) spider silk, almost entirely composed of water.

The synthetic spider silk mimics properties of spider silk, one of nature’s strongest materials for a range of applications such as making eco-friendly textiles and sensors.

The fibres of the synthetic spider silk are spun from hydrogel, a soupy material which is 98% water.

The remaining 2% of the hydrogel is made of naturally available silica and cellulose.

These materials are held together in a network by barrel-shaped molecular “handcuffs” known as cucurbiturils.

The chemical interactions between the different components enable to pull long fibres from the gel.

The water from hydrogel evaporates after it is stretched for 30 seconds, leaving a strong fibre which is both strong and stretchy.

Spider Silk: Know More

  • The fibres of the synthetic spider silk are extremely thin threads and are of few millionths of a metre in diameter.
  • They resemble miniature bungee cords and can absorb large amounts of energy. They are sustainable, non-toxic, less energy-intensive and can be made at room temperature.
  • The fibres are capable of self-assembly at room temperature, and are held together by supramolecular host, where atoms share electrons.
  • They can support stresses in the range of 100 to 150 megapascals, which is similar to other synthetic and natural silks.


8)   GSI scientists have discovered marine resources of minerals and metals in which of the following areas?
- Published on 18 Jul 17

a. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
b. Mannar Basin
c. Lakshadweep
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: All of the above

Explanation:
Scientists from the Geological Survey of India (GSI) have discovered the presence of millions of tonnes of precious metals and minerals deep under the waters that surround peninsular India.

The huge presence of marine resources was first identified off Mangaluru, Chennai, Mannar Basin, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and around Lakshadweep in early 2014.

The amount of lime mud, phosphate-rich and calcareous sediments, hydrocarbons, metalliferous deposits and micronodules that geologists came across was a clear indication that deeper and more extensive exploration could lead to a larger treasure trove.

After three years of exploration, GSI has generated 181,025 square kilometres of high-resolution seabed morphological data and established the occurrence of more than 10,000 million tonnes of lime mud within the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.

It has also confirmed the presence of phosphate sediment off Karwar, Mangaluru and Chennai coasts, gas hydrate in the channel-levee system of Mannar Basin off the Tamil Nadu coast.

Additionally, it found cobalt-bearing ferro-manganese crust from the Andaman Sea and micro-manganese nodules around Lakshadweep Sea.

Three state-of-the-art research vessels - Samudra Ratnakar, Samudra Kaustabh and Samudra Saudikama - carried out the 'High Resolution Seabed Mapping and Natural Resource Evaluation'.

The main objectives were to identify potential zones of favourable mineralisation and evaluate marine mineral resources.

GSI: Know More

  • The GSI was established in 1851 and is one of the oldest of such organisations in the world and the second oldest survey institution in the country.
  • It is the prime provider of basic earth science information to the government, industry and the general public.
  • Its main functions is related to creation and updation of national geoscientific information and mineral resource assessment.


9)   Where has India launched the state-of-the-art Solar Electrification Project?
- Published on 17 Jul 17

a. Agaween village
b. Libya
c. Egypt
d. Both a and c
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Both a and c

Explanation:
India has launched a solar project with state-of-the-art technology to electrify a remote village in Egypt.

The Solar Electrification Project, an off-grid system that is ideal for remote locations, has been launched at Agaween village in the Western Desert in Matrouh Governorate, close to the Libyan border.

India provided all the solar panels and sub-systems, machinery, equipment and technical support, as well as training for technicians.

The Egyptian government provided the location for implementation of the project.

The project was inaugurated by India’s Ambassador to Egypt Sanjay Bhattacharyya and Major General Alla Fathi Abou Zeid, Governor of Matrouh.

The project harnesses the sun and enriches the life of the villagers.

The project is a demonstration of India’s technical capabilities, especially in renewable energy, and can be replicated at other locations in Egypt.

The total output of the project is 8.8 kilowatt. The project has the ability to electrify the whole village.

The project will not only provide electricity to Agaween village but also give training to workers on how to maintain and adjust the solar energy systems to help forming groups of well—trained workers in the governorate.

The Solar Electrification Project at Agaween will provide electricity to 40 houses, a school, a mosque and a community centre.

Indo-Egyptian Ties: Know More

  • India and Egypt have agreed to collaborate in the field of information and communications technology; agriculture; biotechnology; renewable and non-conventional energy.
  • Also on the anvil are skills development and full participation of the private sector enterprises in these endeavors.
  • There is cooperation in the field of space utilizing India's expertise in launching satellites and other advances in space technology.
  • Also in the offing are joint projects on space application under existing institutional arrangements.
  • The completion of two Indian development projects in Egypt is another achievement for bilateral ties as is the establishment of a textile vocational training centre in Shubra el-Kheima, which would benefit the people of Egypt, and the solar electrification of Agaween Village.


10)   Scientists have developed a 3D printed heart made of which material, that functions like the human organ?
- Published on 17 Jul 17

a. Soft silicone
b. Carbon
c. Plastic
d. Both a and c
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Soft silicone

Explanation:
Scientists have developed a 3D-printed soft silicone heart that closely resembles and functions like the human organ, and could help save lives of people who suffer from cardiac failure.

About 26 million people worldwide suffer from heart failure.

The soft artificial heart weighs 390 grams and has a volume of 679 cubic centimetres.

It is a silicone monoblock with complex inner structure/

The artificial heart has a right and a left ventricle, though they are not separated by a septum but by an additional chamber.

This chamber is inflated and deflated by pressurised air and is required to pump fluid from the blood chambers.


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