Science & Technology - General awareness questions on current affairs

1)   Sloan Digital Sky Survey has created the first map of the bigger universe based on the position of _______.
- Published on 24 May 17

a. stars
b. planets
c. moons
d. quasars
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: quasars

Astronomers using the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) have created the first map of the large-scale structure of the universe based entirely on the positions of quasars.

Quasars are incredibly bright and distant points of light.

The quasars are so bright that they can be seen all the way across the universe and that is what makes them the ideal objects to use to make the biggest map yet.

The extra brightness of the quasars is due to the super- massive black holes found at their centres.

As matter and energy fall into a quasars’ black hole, they heat up to incredibly high temperatures and begin to glow.

Scientists used the Sloan Foundation Telescope to observe the innumerable quasars in order to make the map.

During the first two years of the survey, astronomers measured accurate three-dimensional positions of more than 147,000 quasars.

The telescope observations gave the team the distances of the quasars, which were used to create a three-dimensional map of where the quasars are located.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Know More

  • The survey known as Sloan Digital Sky Survey was extended to Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS) to better understand the expansion history of the universe.
  • The process involved studying baryon acoustic oscillations, which are the present-day imprint of sound waves that travelled through the early universe, when it was much hotter and denser than today.
  • However, due to a sudden change in conditions when the universe was 380,000 years old, the sound waves became “frozen” in place.
  • These frozen waves are left imprinted in the three- dimensional structure of the present-day universe. The study confirms the standard model of cosmology that researchers have built over the last 20 years. In this standard model, the universe follows the predictions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but includes components that cannot be measured or causes not understood.

2)   What is PervasiveSUB project concerned with?
- Published on 23 May 17

a. A technique for typing braille in real time to help deaf-blind people watch YV directly
b. A method of compiling subtitles of TV channels that forwards them to smartphone apps for Braille transliteration
c. Both a and b
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both a and b

Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid have invented a technique that types Braille in real time and helps deaf-blind people “watch” television without intermediaries.

The technique developed under “PervasiveSUB Project” compiles all the subtitles of television channels and sends them to a central server which forwards them to smartphones or tablets.

The compiled data from smartphones or tablets are sent to the Braille line of the deaf-blind person through an app that makes it possible to control the speed of the subtitles that are captured directly from the TV broadcast in perfect synchronisation.

PervasiveSUB project was financed by Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider Telefonica.

The tests had great success and the technology has already been implemented on all the national and regional Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) channels in Madrid.

The research team is now providing this service free of charge to anyone who needs it.

3)   Who has won the Dan David prize from India so far?
- Published on 19 May 17

a. Shrinivas Kulkarni
b. Zubin Mehta
c. Amitav Ghosh
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: All of the above

Indian scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni has won the prestigious Dan David prize as a recognition for his contributions made in the field of astronomy.

Shrinivas Kulkarni, a professor of astrophysics and planetary science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, is a pioneer in the field of time-domain astrophysics.

He has been credited for building and conducting the Palomar Transient Factory, which is a large-area survey of the night sky that has turned up with thousands of stellar explosions.

Shrinivas Kulkarni would share the award with Andrej Udalski of the University of Warsaw and Neil Gehrels of NASA for their discoveries on time-domain astrophysics in the “Future” category of the prize.

With this award, he will join other prominent Indians who have won the Dan David prize like noted author Amitav Ghosh, music conductor Zubin Mehta and renowned chemist CNR Rao.

Dan David Prize: Know More

  • The Dan David Foundation was established in 2000 by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist.
  • Three Dan David prizes of $1 million each are awarded each year in the categories of “Past,” “Present” and “Future” to people who have made exemplary contributions to humanity in the field of sciences, humanities, or for their work in civil society.
  • The recipients in the “Past” category are chosen from the field of history, archaeology, paleontology, biography, etc;.
  • The recipients in the “Present” category are chosen from arts, media, policy, economics, etc.
  • The recipients in the “Future” category are chosen from one of the exact or natural sciences. The prize mandates the laureates to donate 10% of their prize money to provide scholarships for graduate or post-graduate researchers in their respective fields.

4)   Which armed forces signed an MOU with SAC on data sharing and scientific cooperation?
- Published on 17 May 17

a. Indian army
b. IAF
c. BSF
d. Indian navy
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Indian navy

The Indian Navy and the Space Application Centre has signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Data Sharing and Scientific cooperation in the field of Meteorology and Oceanology.

As per the MoU, the scientific advancements and expertise achieved by SAC would be synergised into the Indian Naval efforts in order to keep the Indian Navy abreast with rapid developments that has taken place in the field of Environment Sciences and Satellite Data acquisition technology.

The MoU has further enhanced the already established collaboration between the two organisations.

The broad areas of cooperation under the MoU are:

  • Sharing of non-confidential observational data for pre-launch sensor calibration and post launch satellite data validation,
  • Operational use of SAC generated weather products,
    provisioning expertise for installation of various satellite data processing modules at Naval METOC organisations,
  • Performing calibration and validation for ocean models,
  • Transfer of technology to produce weather information, training on latest technology and sharing of subject matter experts between the organisations facilitating effective knowledge transfer.
SAC: Know More
  • Space Applications Centre (SAC) is one of the major centres of ISRO.
  • It was established in the year 1972.
  • It primarily focuses on the design of space-borne instruments for ISRO missions.
  • It also develops applications of space technology and is headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat

5)   North Korea launched a medium long range missile with _____ capabilities on May 14, 2017.
- Published on 16 May 17

a. Ballistic
b. Nuclear
c. Long Range
d. Both a and b
Answer  Explanation  Related Ques

ANSWER: Both a and b

North Korea indicated the missile it launched over the weekend was a new type of “medium long-range” ballistic rocket that can carry a heavy nuclear warhead.

North Korean propaganda must be considered with wariness as Pyongyang has threatened for decades to reduce Seoul to a “sea of fire.”

This missile launch may mark another big advance toward the North’s goal of fielding a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the US mainland.

This launch tested a new type of missile in Pyongyang’s arsenal.

The test is also an immediate challenge to South Korea’s new leader, Moon Jae-in, a liberal elected last week who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea.

Pyongyang’s aggressive push to boost its weapons program also makes it one of the Trump administration’s most urgent foreign policy worries, though Washington has struggled to settle on a policy.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency called the missile a “new ground-to-ground medium long-range strategic ballistic rocket,” and indicated the “Hwasong-12” was “capable of carrying a large, heavy nuclear warhead.”

The missile flew for half-an-hour and reached an unusually high altitude before landing in the Sea of Japan, the South Korean, Japanese and US militaries said.

The rocket, “newly designed in a Korean-style,” flew 787 kilometers (490 miles) and reached a maximum altitude of 2,111.5 kilometers (1,310 miles).

North Korea “verified the homing feature of the warhead under the worst re-entry situation and accurate performance of detonation system.”

North Korea is not thought to be able yet to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile.

6)   Ministry of health and family welfare has launched a new vaccine for which disease in May 2017?
- Published on 15 May 17

a. Pneumonia
b. TB
c. Diptheria
d. Malaria
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Pneumonia

Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda has launched new Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, PCV, for Pneumonia at Lal Bahadur Shastri Medical College Hospital in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

The vaccine is a part of government’s Universal Immunization Programme (UIP).

Henceforth, the vaccine will be administered under routine immunization programme.

The vaccine would help in controlling pneumonia and reducing the child mortality rate.

In India, more than 1 lakh children die of pneumonia every year.

The vaccine will provide protection against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria which results in pneumonia.

This is the 12th disease for which the Health Ministry has launched a vaccine.

The vaccine Pneumococcal Conjugate protects against Streptococcus pneumonia and diseases such as pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and meningitis.

Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine was first introduced in 2000.

The whole of Himachal Pradesh as well as six districts of Uttar Pradesh and seventeen districts of Bihar will be covered under the first phase of the immunisation programme.

PCV: Know More

  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is a pneumococcal vaccine and a conjugate vaccine used to protect infants, young children, and adults against disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus).
  • There are currently three types of PCV available on the global market, which go by the brand names: Prevnar (called Prevenar in some countries), Synflorix and Prevnar 13.
  • PVC protects against 13 bacteria related to pneumococcal infection.

7)   What is the name of the Indian research station in Antarctica?
- Published on 12 May 17

a. Maitri
b. Mitr
c. Matri
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Maitri

India has taken the decision to replace its Maitri research station in Antarctica with a new one in the next three to four years.

India is poised to expand its research activity in the coldest continent and a new ship, with a special ice-cutting facility, will be procured for the purpose.

India is also drafting its own laws to safeguard its interest in Antarctica, as it is currently governed by international laws.

The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.

It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica.

The program gained global acceptance with India’s signing of the Antarctic Treaty and subsequent construction of the Dakshin Gangotri Antarctic research base in 1983.

Gangotri base was superseded by the Maitri research station from 1990.

Bharati is the newest base that was commissioned in 2015, constructed out of 134 shipping containers.

India has carried out over 30 scientific expeditions to the Antarctic as of 14 October 2010.

Maitri: Know More

  • Maitri is India’s second permanent research station in Antarctica as part of the Indian Antarctic Programme.
  • The name was suggested by the then PM Mrs Indira Gandhi
  • The expedition left the shores of India on 03 Dec 1984.
  • Work on the station was first started by the Indian Expedition which landed there in end Dec 1984, the team was led by Dr. B B Bhattacharya.
  • It was built and finished in 1989, shortly before the first station Dakshin Gangotri was buried in ice and abandoned in 1990–91.
  • Maitri is situated on the rocky mountainous region called Schirmacher Oasis.
  • It is only 5 km away from Russian Novolazarevskaya Station.

8)   Scientists have developed a new technology to turn any surface into a ______screen.
- Published on 10 May 17

a. LED
b. LCD
d. Touch
Answer  Explanation 


Scientists have developed a new technology that can turn any surface - including walls, furniture and steering wheels - into a touch screen using tools as simple as a can of spray paint.

The method is to apply electrically conductive coatings or materials to objects or surfaces, or to craft objects using conductive materials, researchers said.

By attaching a series of electrodes to the conductive materials, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US showed they could use a well-known technique called electric field tomography to sense the position of a finger touch.

With the new technology dubbed Electrick, conductive touch surfaces can be created by applying conductive paints, bulk plastics or carbon-loaded film.

Electrick is both accessible to hobbyists and compatible with common manufacturing methods, such as spray coating, vacuum forming and casting/moulding, as well as 3D printing.

Like many touchscreens, Electrick relies on the shunting effect — when a finger touches the touchpad, it shunts a bit of electric current to ground.

By attaching multiple electrodes to the periphery of an object or conductive coating, researchers showed they could localise where and when such shunting occurs.

Electrick can detect the location of a finger touch to an accuracy of one centimetre, which is sufficient for using the touch surface as a button or slider.

9)   Where is a major portion of the world’s biggest X-ray laser located?
- Published on 09 May 17

a. Germany
b. Italy
c. Spain
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Germany

The world’s biggest X-ray laser has generated its first beam of light, that will allow scientists to get a glimpse of new materials, drugs and chemical reactions at the atomic level.

The 3.4-kilometre-long European XFEL, most of which is located in underground tunnels in Germany, will usher a new era of European research, according to scientists.

The biggest X-ray light has a wavelength of 0.8 nanometre - about 500 times shorter than that of visible light.

At first lasing, the laser had a repetition rate of one pulse per second, which will later increase to 27,000 per second.

The achievable laser light wavelength corresponds to the size of an atom, meaning that the X-rays can be used to make pictures and films of the nanocosmos at atomic resolution - such as of biomolecules, from which better understanding of the basis of illnesses or the development of new therapies could be developed.

The facility, to which many countries around the world contributed know-how and components, has passed its first big test with flying colours.

Scientists can now begin to direct the X-ray flashes with special mirrors through the last tunnel section into the experiment hall, and then step by step start the commissioning of the experiment stations.

The first laser light produced today with the most advanced and most powerful linear accelerator in the world marks the beginning a new era of research in Europe.

The European XFEL will provide scientists with the most detailed images of the molecular structure of new materials and drugs and novel live recordings of biochemical reactions.

The facility will enable research into chemical processes and catalytic techniques, with the goal of improving their efficiency or making them more environmentally friendly; materials research; or the investigation of conditions similar to the interior of planets.

The X-ray laser light of the European XFEL was generated from an electron beam from a superconducting linear accelerator, the key component of the X-ray laser.

10)   Which is the last living dinosaur prior to the asteroid strike 66 million years back?
- Published on 08 May 17

a. Chenanisaurus barbaricus
b. Dhenanisaurus barbaricus
c. Thenanisaurus barbaricus
d. Shenanisaurus barbaricus
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Chenanisaurus barbaricus

The fossil of one of the last living African dinosaur was discovered in a phosphate mine in northern Morocco.

The species, Chenanisaurus barbaricus, is reportedly one of the last ones to have survived on Earth before an asteroid strike wiped them out 66 million years ago

The project was carried out as a part of an international scientific collaboration that aims to conserve Morocco’s rich fossil heritage by helping create and study the country’s palaeontology collections.

The fossil study is being led by Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath.

Its analysis suggests that a distinct dinosaur fauna evolved in Africa following the breakup of the Gondwana supercontinent in the middle of the Cretaceous period.

The new species is understood to be the smaller African contemporary of the North American T-Rex.

Almost nothing is known about the dinosaurs that lived in Africa at the end of the Cretaceous period 66 million years ago, just before their extinction.

Most of the fossils have been discovered from marine rocks.

The study revealed that the fragment belonged to an abelisaur, two-legged predators like T. rex and other tyrannosaurs with a shorter snout and tinier arms.

The species were known to be the top predators at the end of the Cretaceous period in Africa, South America, India, and Europe.

Unlike the abelisaurs, who had very short arms, the newly discovered dinosaur- Chenanisaurus barbaricus- stood on two legs and had stumpy arms.

The study of the fossil’s worn-out teeth reveals that it was a predator and unlike the partially feathered T. rex, Chenanisaurus had only scales and its brain was much smaller and its face, shorter and deeper.

Dinosaurs: Know More

  • Dinosaurs are known to have lived between 230 and 65 million years ago, a period that is known as the Mesozoic Era.
  • The period is many million years before the first modern humans, Homo sapiens, appeared.
  • Scientists divide the Mesozoic Era into three periods: the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous.
  • The Cretaceous Period was the last and longest period of the Mesozoic Era.
  • It began 145 million years ago and ended 66 million years ago, lasting for approximately 79 million years. It followed the Jurassic period and ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs.
  • The period may have seen more dinosaurs than ever before.
  • Some of the dinosaur species that evolved during this time include Triceratops, Centrosaurus, armoured Ankylosaurus and the large carnivore Tyrannosaurus.

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