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3rd January 2023 (8 Topics)

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Environment

New tech can filter microplastics with minimal energy, says study

Scientists from South Korea have developed a new water purification system that can quickly and efficiently filter out microplastics. 

  • In an experiment, over 99.9 per cent of contaminants were taken out of the water in just 10 seconds.

Features:

  • The system uses a polymer which is relatively inexpensive with excellent adsorption performance and good photothermal properties.
  • As it requires lower levels of energy, making it ideal for solar-based use.
  • This is particularly useful for developing countries where power supply is inconsistent.
  • While some traditional carbon-based filters can filter out micro plastics, they have limitations like the adsorption rate is slow and they are not energy-efficient.

Environment

No rhinos poached in Assam in 2022

 

The Chief Minister of Assam has informed that no rhinos were poached in the state in 2022.

About Indian Rhinos :

  • The Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) is found only in the Brahmaputra valley, parts of North Bengal, and parts of southern Nepal.
  • It has a single black horn that can grow up to 60 cm, and a tough, grey-brown hide with skin folds, which gives the animal its characteristic armour-plated look.
  • Protection status:
    • IUCN Red list: The Indian rhino is listed as ‘vulnerable’ (it was earlier placed in the endangered category).
  • The WWF says the recovery of the greater one-horned rhino is among the greatest conservation success stories in Asia.

Why they are poached?

  • Rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine to cure a range of ailments.
  • It also used to treat cancer.
  • In Vietnam, a rhino horn is considered a status symbol.

Conservation efforts:

  • In 2019, the Assam government constituted a Special Rhino Protection Force to keep a check on rhino poaching and related activities at Kaziranga National Park (KNP).
  • On every September 22, World Rhino Day is celebrated.

Science and Technology

A new coronavirus variant on the block


India’s first case of the ‘XBB.1.5’ sub-variant of Omicron was confirmed in Gujarat by the national genome sequencing consortium.

About:

  • XBB.1.5 is a recombinant, which means its genome is the product of the genomes of two different strains spliced together.
  • This can happen when two strains infect a person at the same time; a recombinant variant is produced as they replicate together.
  • Recombinant strains also arise when existing recombinant strains mutate.
  • The recombinants include XD (Delta + Omicron), XE (BA.1 + BA.2), and XBB (BA.2.10.1 + BA.2.75).
  • The XBB strain is descended from BA.2.10.1.1 and BA.2.75.3.1.1.1.
  • It mutated further and became XBB.1.5. XBB.1.
  • The defining mutation of XBB.1.5 is ‘F486P’.
    • F486 is a part of the virus’s receptor-binding domain (the part of the spike protein that attaches the virus to a cell) and an important site that antibodies against the Omicron variant target. 
  • Concern for India:
  • In India, with hybrid immunity in a unique situation of natural infection followed by two shots of vaccines for adults, no sub-lineage is likely to cause a fresh wave.

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