Today’s Current Affairs: 30th Dec 2023 for UPSC IAS exams, State PSC exams, SSC CGL, State SSC, RRB, Railways, Banking Exam & IBPS, etc
Table of Contents
European Bank For Reconstruction And Development : Approved Euro Capital
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recently approved a 4-billion-euro capital increase that will enable the bank to double its Ukraine investments.
- European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is an international financial institution with the mandate to promote transition towards a sustainable, open-market economy and to foster innovation.
- The EBRD was created in April 1991 to help Eastern European and ex-Soviet countries transition into democracies by developing free-market economies after the fall of communism.
- Headquarters: London
- It provides project financing mainly for private enterprises, usually together with other commercial lending partners, in countries that are committed to, and apply, democratic principles.
- It also works with public partners to support privatization, restructuring, and improvement of municipal services.
- It does this by financing investments, providing business services, and getting involved in high-level policy dialogue in these countries to support the private sector development.
- It prioritizes support for countries in Central and West Asia, and North Africa.
- It focuses on advancing developmental goals in finance and policy reform.
- The organization also promotes environmentally sustainable development and gender equality and promises to be fully transparent.
- The EBRD is owned by 72 countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.
James Webb Space Telescope : Look For Life On Newly Discovered Planets
After its first full calendar year of operation, astronomers are using the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to look for life on thousands of newly discovered planets.
- JWST was built in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency.
- It was launched in December 2021.
- It is the largest and most powerful space telescope to date.
- It orbits around a point in space called the L2 Lagrange point (a gravitationally stable location in space). It is approximately 1.5 million km beyond Earth’s orbit and is one of the five points in the orbital plane of the Earth-Sun system.
- It will focus on four main areas: the first light in the universe, the assembly of galaxies in the early universe, the birth of stars and protoplanetary systems, and planets (including the origins of life).
- Its instruments are designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.
- It comprises the Optical Telescope Element (OTE), the Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM), the sunshield, and the spacecraft bus.
Chameleon Trojan : Malware
Cybersecurity researchers recently identified a potent variant of the infamous ‘Chameleon Trojan’ malware, posing a substantial risk to Android device users.
- Chameleon Trojan is a malware that has the ability to disable biometric authentication methods, including fingerprint and face unlock, to sneakily access sensitive information.
- The malware strategically attaches itself to legitimate Android applications, such as the widely used Google Chrome, effectively avoiding immediate detection.
- Operating discreetly in the background, Chameleon Trojan can disable biometric security measures, specifically targeting PINs.
- The malware bundles are reportedly undetectable during runtime, enabling it to outsmart Google Protect alerts and circumvent security software on the compromised device.
- This approach allows the Trojan to operate without any worries, evading immediate countermeasures.
- Once active, Chameleon Trojan steals on-screen content, elevates its own permissions, and can even use gestures to capture PINs and passwords entered by users to unlock their devices.
- The stolen PIN is then employed to unlock the device in the background, enabling the malware to access sensitive information such as credit card passwords and login credentials.
- The malware also collects information on users’ app usage habits, launching attacks when the device is least likely to be in use.
Patriot PAC-3 : Anti-Aircraft Missiles (Russia)
Russia recently issued a stern warning to Japan, expressing concerns over its decision to export Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft missiles to the United States.
- Phased Array Tracking to Intercept of Target (PATRIOT) Advanced Capability-Three (PAC-3) program is a surface-to-air-defense guided missile system with all-weather capabilities.
- It has been built by Raytheon Technologies Corp and is considered one of the most advanced air defense systems in the U.S. arsenal.
- It entered service with the US Army in 2001 and the US Air Force in 2003.
- It has been exported to Germany, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Poland, Qatar, Romania, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.
- It is designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and advanced aircraft.
Grey Francolin : Spotted
Grey Francolin (Ortygornis pondicerianus) was reported inside the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) of Mumbai.
- Sanjay Gandhi National Park is located in the state of Maharashtra which was formerly known as Borivali National Park.
- Grey Francolin is a ground-dwelling bird known for its distinctive calls and cryptic plumage.
- They are carnivores (insectivores) and herbivores (granivores).
- Grey francolins inhabit open plains, bare or low grass-covered ground in scrub and open country. They are also found in open cultivated lands and scrub forest and are rarely found above an altitude of 500 m above sea level in India.
- Grey francolins are found in the Indian subcontinent and Iran. Their distribution is south of the foothills of the Himalayas westwards to the Indus Valley and eastwards to Bengal. They are also found in north-western Sri Lanka.
- Conservation Status
- IUCN Red List: Least Concern
eSoil : New Development
Researchers have developed a new electronic soil that was found to increase the growth of barley seedlings by 50 per cent in a new study.
- In hydroponic environments, eSoil is a low-power bioelectronic growth substrate that can electrically stimulate the root system and growth environment of plants.
- This is environmentally friendly, being derived from cellulose and a conductive polymer called PEDOT. It offers a low energy, safe alternative to previous methods that required high voltage and non-biodegradable materials.
- It uses low energy and minimizes resource consumption. Its active material is an organic mixed-ionic electronic conductor.
- When the roots of barley seedlings were electrically stimulated for 15 days, they showed a 50% increase in growth using eSoil.
- This research promotes more effective and sustainable development while increasing the variety of crops that can be grown hydroponically.
- In hydroponics, plants are grown without soil, requiring only water, nutrients and a substrate – something for their roots to attach to.
- This closed system allows water to be recirculated, ensuring that each seedling receives exactly the nutrients it needs.
- As a result, very little water is used and all the nutrients remain in the system – something that is not possible with conventional farming.
Breakthrough Prizes 2024:
The 2024 Breakthrough Prizes in the Life Sciences category recognised groundbreaking research set to change the lives of those suffering from three Rare Diseases: Parkinson’s disease, Cystic fibrosis and Cancer.
- Awards were also given in the categories of Fundamental Physics and Mathematics.
2024 Award-Winning Breakthroughs:
Life Science Category:
- Cancer Breakthrough:Carl June and Michel Sadelain genetically engineered T cells with synthetic receptors to recognize individual cancer cells, achieving remarkable success against liquid cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
- Some patients have experienced complete tumor eradication and long-term remission after treatment.
- Cystic Fibrosis Breakthroughs: Sabine Hadida, Paul Negulescu, and Fredrick Van Goor invented the first effective medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis.
- These medicines, including a triple combination medicine, enable a protein to function properly, significantly improving the quality and length of life for people with this disease.
- Parkinson’s Disease Discoveries: Thomas Gasser, Ellen Sidransky, and Andrew Singleton discovered the most common genetic causes of Parkinson’s Disease.
Fundamental Physics: Winners John Cardy and Alexander Zamolodchikov have contributed a lifetime of deep insights into quantum field theories.
Mathematics: Awardee Simon Brendle has contributed a series of remarkable leaps in differential geometry, a field that uses the tools of calculus to study curves, surfaces and spaces.
About Breakthrough Prizes:
- Founded in 2012 by prominent Silicon Valley figures including Yuri Milner, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan (from Facebook), and Sergey Brin (from Google).
- The prizes aim to honor outstanding individuals who have made transformative contributions in fundamental sciences, specifically in fields like life sciences, mathematics, and fundamental physics.
- The Breakthrough Prizes are awarded in distinct categories, including life sciences (biology, genetics, medicine), fundamental physics, and mathematics.
Indian Meteorological Department : New Logo
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) recently got a new logo ahead of the commencement of its 150th year of providing weather and climate services to the country.
- The new logo, in a mix of orange and green colours, depicts numerical 150 embedded with the present logo showing the Indian monsoon winds crossing over India.
- IMD was established in 1875. It is the National Meteorological Service of the country and the principal government agency in all matters relating to meteorology and allied subjects.
- It works as an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India.
- It is headquartered in New Delhi.
- IMD is also one of the six Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres of the World Meteorological Organization.
- Roles and Responsibilities is to take meteorological observations and to provide current and forecast meteorological information for optimum operation of weather-sensitive activities like agriculture, irrigation, shipping, aviation, offshore oil explorations, etc. and To warn against severe weather phenomena like tropical cyclones, norwesters, dust storms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., which cause destruction of life and property.
OPEC : Angola Exits
Angola, one of Africa’s two biggest oil producers, has announced it is leaving the oil producers’ organization Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) over a dispute on output quotas.
- OPEC and 10 allied nations decided to further slash oil production in 2024 to prop up volatile global prices, which Angola said goes against its policy of avoiding decline and respecting contracts.
- The OPEC (headquartered in Vienna, Austria) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization, created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.
- Angola joined the group in 2007 .
- Angola’s exit from OPEC will leave it with 12 members
Minimum Support Price For Copra:
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, has approved the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for copra for the 2024 season.
- The move aims to provide better returns to coconut growers, encourage copra production, and meet the growing demand for coconut products.
- Copra is the dried, white flesh of the coconut. It’s a major cash crop and is valued for the coconut oil that can be extracted from it.
- The MSP is a form of government intervention to protect farmers from steep declines in the prices of their goods.
- The MSP is based on a calculation of at least one-and-a-half times the cost of production incurred by the farmers.
Ammonia Gas Leak From An Underwater Supply Pipeline : Chennai
An ammonia gas leak from an underwater supply pipeline to an industrial unit in Chennai, caused hundreds of residents to complain of difficulty in breathing and burning of eyes and faces.
- The leak originated from the Coromandel International Limited fertiliser manufacturing facility, which receives ammonia shipments from Iran or Saudi Arabia.
- Ammonia is a colourless, pungent gas with the chemical formula NH3. It’s made up of hydrogen and nitrogen.
- In its aqueous form, it’s called ammonium hydroxide.
- Ammonia is a natural byproduct and respiratory stimulant.
- It’s produced naturally in the human body and in nature, including in water, soil, and air. In human health, ammonia and the ammonium ion are important components of metabolic processes.
- In its concentrated form, ammonia is dangerous and caustic.