Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Geography [Paper-I]: Major Landforms and their features
Andhra Pradesh Government will be hosting the Belum Caves festival in January 2020 to popularise the Belum caves.
About Belum Caves
- Belum Caves, also known as Belum Guhalu is located in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh.
- The cave is known for its speleothems, such as stalactite and stalagmite formations.
- This cave system was formed over the course of tens of thousands of years by the constant flow of underground water from the now-disappeared river Chitravathi.
- The caves were occupied by Jain and Buddhist monks many centuries ago. The presence of 4500 years old vessels from the pre-Buddhism era ensures the same.
- A stalactite is an icicle-shaped formation that hangs from the ceiling of a cave and is produced by precipitation of minerals from water dripping through the cave ceiling. Most stalactites have pointed tips.
- A stalagmite is an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave. Most stalagmites have rounded or flattened tips.
- Stalactites hang from the ceiling of a cave while stalagmites grow from the cave floor.
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Environment [Paper-II]: Issues and concerns related to environment, policies and treaties for the protection of environment at the National and the International level, Pollution
- Gautam Gambhir, former cricketer and MP from East Delhi recently inaugurated New Delhi’s first-ever prototype air purifier at Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi.
- In November 2019, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre and the Delhi government to prepare a plan to install ‘smog towers’ across the capital to deal with air pollution.
What is a smog tower?
- Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers.
- They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them.
Smog Tower at Lajpat Nagar
- The smog tower installed at Lajpat Nagar is capable of treating 6,00,000 cubic metres of air per day and can collect more than 75 per cent of particulate matters (PM) 2.5 and 10.
- After the cleaning, the tower releases clean air.
- The filters installed in the tower will use carbon nanofibres as a major component and will be fitted along its peripheries. The tower will focus on reducing particulate matter load.
- The project is a collaboration between the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, IIT-Delhi and the University of Minnesota.
Smog Tower at China
- China, which has been battling air pollution for years, has two smog towers in its capital Beijing and in the northern city of Xi’an.
- The Xi’an tower is dubbed the world’s largest, and has reportedly brought down PM 2.5 by 19% in an area of around 6 sq km in its vicinity.
- The 100-metre (328 feet) high tower has produced 10 million cubic metres of clean air every day since its launch, and on severely polluted days, is able to bring down smog close to moderate levels.
- The tower in Beijing, built by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, has been able to compress the carbon waste generated during purification to produce gemstones.
- Upon compression for 30 minutes, the smog particles turn into dark gems, which are used for rings and cufflinks.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Related Topic in KAS Prelims Syllabus:
Science and Technology [Paper-II]:
- PM Modi inaugurated the 107th Indian Science Congress (ISC) at University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru.
- Indian Science Congress is organised by the Indian Science Congress Association every year in the first week of January.
- PM also launched the I-STEM Portal on the occasion.
Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA)
- It is a premier scientific organisation of India with headquarters at Kolkata, West Bengal.
- ISCA owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two Chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P.S. MacMahon.
107th Indian Science Congress (ISC)
- 107th ISC is being held from January 3 to 7, 2020.
- The major events of ISC are the Science Communicators Meet, Children Science Congress, Science Exhibition and Women’s Science Congress.
- The theme of the 2020 meet is ‘Science and Technology: Rural Development’. It will also be hosting a Farmer’s Science Congress for the very first time.
- The Congress is a major focal point for scientists, researchers and academicians interested in various aspects of science discoveries and technologies.
- The five-day long event aims to bring together science fraternity across the world to discuss scientific innovation and research.
Indian Scientific, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) Portal
- The Portal was initiated by the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the GoI as an important national program to build a unique ‘One Nation One Research Web Portal’ for scientific community.
- I-STEM will hold the database of all the R&D facilities established in institutions around the country, and enable their sharing in a transparent manner.
- The IP protected Portal has been built and managed by, Nanoscience Centre of Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.
- All academic institutions, national research labs, and aided/affiliated institutions with R&D facilities funded by agencies of the GoI, will be required to list them on the I-STEM Portal.
- It is designed to be the gateway for users/researchers to locate the specific type of facility they need for their R&D work and to identify the one that is either located closest to them or available the soonest.
- I-STEM is expected to greatly enhance utilization of R&D equipment nationwide, thereby reducing duplication and saving precious public funds.
- It is also expected to enhance collaboration among academics, and between industry and the academia.
[Source: PIB, Down To Earth]
FACTS OF THE DAY
HIM DARSHAN EXPRESS
- Indian Railways unveiled Him Darshan Express comprising all-new Vistadome coaches.
- This special train will commute between the Kalka and Shimla station for the next one year till December 24, 2020.
- Commuters travelling in Him Darshan Express will enjoy the beautiful scenic view of the Himalayas as the train will have swanky Vistadome AC coaches with glass roof.
- Modified in carriage and wagon depot at Kalka, this is a first-of-its-kind train on the Kalka-Shimla route.
- With the new modern design, the Vistadome coaches will feature top modified windows and air conditioning system, modern windows and LED bulbs.
- Each Vistadome coach will have a seating capacity of 15 persons, including five window seats on both sides. The first-class coach can accommodate 14 passengers.
- Him Darshan Express will be the first-ever train with Vistadome coaches by the Indian Railways that will run on a regular basis.
- The train will follow the concept of individual seat charter services via Passenger Reservation System (PRS) and various other online modes.
WORD OF THE DECADE
- Neutral pronoun ‘they‘ has been voted word of the decade by US language experts.
- “They“ is used in English by a growing number of non-binary individuals, people who do not identify as either male or female.
- They prefer the plural neutral pronoun to bypass using the pronouns “he” or “she”.
- Selection of “they” is an indication that how a personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse.
- The recognition comes after US dictionary Merriam-Webster named “they” as word of the year 2019.
- The American Dialect Society had previously named “they“ as word of the year in 2015.
ISRO ASTRONAUT TRAINING HUB
- India’s world-class facility for training astronauts will be established at Challakere, on the Bengaluru-Pune NH4, in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.
- Its ‘Science City’ campus already houses ISRO facilities and those of the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Advanced Aeronautical Test Range, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Indian Institute of Science.
- ISRO has proposed a 2,700-crore master plan to create top infrastructure that will house its young Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC).
- Challakere is also known as the ‘oil city‘ or “second Mumbai” of India because it is the second largest producer/supplier of edible oil after Mumbai.
- The sixth edition of Poopoli will be held at the Regional Agricultural Research Station at Ambalavayal, Wayanad from January 1 to 12, 2020.
- Poopoli is an international flower show and agri fest organised jointly by the Kerala Agricultural University and the Department of Agriculture Development and Farmers’ Welfare, Kerala.
MUNNAR WINTER CARNIVAL
- The Munnar Winter Carnival will be held from January 10 to 26, 2020.
- The carnival organised by the District Tourism Promotion Council, Idukki will have flower show, food festival, photo exhibition, and various art programmes.
- The main highlight of the winter carnival will be the Munnar Marathon 2020. The Marathon in its fourth edition would be carbon-neutral event.
- The income generated from the carnival will be utilised for beautification of Munnar.
- Kerala Agriculture Department will implement a novel programme titled ‘Jeevani’ for revitalising the organic farming sector.
- The programme aims at helping the state achieve self-sufficiency in vegetable farming and promoting pesticide-free organic vegetable production by aiding people in setting up kitchen gardens in available spaces on the premises of their houses.
- As part of the programme, the department will organise awareness campaigns with the help of the health, education and cooperative departments, along with seminars, debates, campaigns and agriculture tutorials for the public.
- Farming will be launched at vacant land and plots owned by the government, anganwadis and religious institutions.