Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Current Affairs March 01-03-2024 to 07-03-2024.

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1. Three New Moons Discovered in our Solar System

In a thrilling advancement for space exploration, astronomers associated with the International Astronomical Union have unveiled three newly discovered moons in the outer reaches of our solar system.

Scott S. Sheppard, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science said, The three newly discovered moons are the faintest ever found around these two ice-giant planets using ground-based telescopes.

Sheppard first spotted S/2023 U1 on November 4 last year using the Magellan telescopes at Carnegie Science’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. He then made follow-up observations a month later in December at the same facility. He worked with Marina Brozovic and Bob Jacobson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and looked at months of observations to detect a possible moon orbit for the find.

They were able to locate the new member of Uranu’s moon collection in older images that were taken in 2021 and also from images taken by the Subaru telescope in Hawaii. Sheppard also used the Magellan Telescope to find the brighter of the two new moons of Neptune.

2. Google introduced Genie, an AI model that creates Virtual worlds from image prompts

According to the official Google Deep Mind blog post, Genie is a foundation world model that is trained o videos sourced from the Internet. The model can “generate an endless variety of playable (action-controllable) worlds from synthetic images, photographs, and even sketches”.

The research paper ‘Genie-Generative Interactive Environments’ states that Genie is the first generative interactive environment that has been trained in an unsupervised manner from unlabelled internet videos. When it comes to size, Genie stands at 11B parameters and consists of a spatiotemporal video tokenizer, an autoregressive dynamics model, and a simple and scalable latent action model.

Genie is a new Generative AI that enables anyone- even children-to dream up and step into generated worlds similar to human-designed simulated environments. Genie can be prompted to generate a diverse set of interactive and controllable environments although it is trained on video-only data.

The standout aspect of Genie is its ability to learn and reproduce controls for in-game characters exclusively from internet videos this is noteworthy because internet videos do not have labels about the action that is performed in the video, or even which part of the image should be controlled. Genie learns not only which parts of an observation are generally controllable, but also infers diverse latent actions that are consistent across the generated environments.

With Genie, anyone will be able to create their own entirely imaged virtual worlds. Besides, the model’s ability to learn and develop new world models signals a significant leap towards general AI agents.

3. Beijing will host 2027 World Athletics Championships

The World Athletics Council has confirmed that Beijing will be hosting the World Athletics Championships in 2027. This decision marks a significant return for the athletics world to Beijing, nearly two decades after the city’s successful orchestration of the 2008 Winter Games.

The World Athletics decided Beijing to host the World Athletics Championship during its 234th meeting in Glasgow. The President of the council Sebastian Coe Congratulated Beijing.

Beijing’s sports officials have expressed gratitude for the trust placed in them and are committed to preparing meticulously for the event. They aim to leverage the city’s unique blend of ancient charm and modern experience to athletes and fans alike. China will also be hosting the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Nanjing in 2025. They will also be hosting the two Diamond League 2024 meets in Xiamen and Shanghai in April.

4. Tawi Festival 2024

Jammu & Kashmir hosted the annual ‘Tawi Festival’ from March 1st to 4th, 2024. Centered on the banks of the river Tawi flowing through Jammu city, the event showcases the region’s vibrant cultural legacy through arts, cuisine, literature, and folk traditions.

The festival was jointly organized by the Tourism Department, Jammu Municipal Corporation, and prominent cultural institutions of the city. It provides a platform to nurture local talent and enterprises while drawing attention to Jammu’s distinct ethos. This endeavor aims to spotlight the rich tapestry of art forms and cultural heritage of the region while highlighting the skills and creativity of local artisans and preserving cultural heritage while creating avenues for sustainable livelihoods for women entrepreneurs.

The main objective of the Festival is to highlight Jammu & Kashmir’s focus on cultural regeneration under the current administration. Instill cultural pride and conversational ethics among Jammu’s youth. Boost cultural tourism footfalls beyond staple destinations like Vaishno Devi.

5. Shri Bhupender Yadav releases report on the status of Leopards in India

Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav released the report on the status of Leopards in India. The fifth cycle leopard population estimation was carried out by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India, in collaboration with state Forest Departments, as part of the quadrennial “Monitoring of Tiger, Co-Predators, prey and their habitat” exercise in tiger range states.

India’s leopard population is estimated at 13,874 (Range: 12,616 – 15,132) individuals, representing a stable population in comparison to the similar area being sampled in 2018 with 12852 (12,172 – 13,535) individuals. This estimate represents a population of 70% of leopard habitat, the Himalayas and semi-arid parts of the country which are not tiger habitat were not sampled. Central India shows a stable or slightly growing population of leopards, Shivalik hills, and Gangetic plains experienced a decline. If we look at the area that was sampled both in 2018 and 2022 across India, there is a 1.08% per annum growth. In Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains, there is a 3.4% decline per annum, while the largest growth rate was in Central India and Eastern Ghats at 1.5%.

Madhya Pradesh houses the largest population of leopards in the country – 3907, followed by Maharashtra (2022: 1985, 2018: 1690), Karnataka (2022: 1879, 2018: 1,783) and Tamil Nadu (2022: 1070, 2018: 868). Tiger Reserves or sites with the highest leopard population are, Nagarjunasagar Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), followed by Panna (Madhya Pradesh), and Satpura(Madhya Pradesh).

The fifth cycle of leopard population estimation (2022) in India focused on forested habitats within 18 tiger states covering four major tiger conservation landscapes. Non-forested habitats, arid, and high Himalayas above 2000 ms were not sampled for leopards. This cycle conducted a foot survey spanning 6,41,449 km to estimate carnivore signs and prey abundance. Camera traps were strategically placed at 32,803 locations, resulting in a total of 4,70,81,881 photographs, resulting in 85,488 photo-captures of leopards.

6. Child Burial Site Unearthened in Chengalpattu

A groundbreaking archaeological discovery has been made in Chettimedu Pathur village, approximately 77 kilometers from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Researchers from the Department of Ancient History and Archeology at the University of Madras have unearthed a child burial site dating back to the Neolithic period, around 2500 BCE to 3000 BCE, offering new insights into ancient burial rites and cultural practices in the region.

The professors involved in the excavation said it is rare to find burials dating back to the Neolithic period and it would be sent for dating to various laboratories in India to ascertain its exact age. The age of the child could be between 9 and 11 The pot beside the skeleton is typical of the Neolithic period. Many shreds of burnished red ware, burnished grey ware, and red ware having elongated necks and wide mouths belonging to the same period were also found.

7. PM Modi lays the foundation stone for India’s second spaceport in Tamilnadu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) second spaceport in Kulasekarapattinam, Tamilnadu.

This ambitious project, costing Rs 950 crore, marks a pivotal moment in India’s space exploration journey, promising to enhance the nation’s satellite launch capabilities, particularly for small satellites. The new spaceport, sprawling over 2,233 acres in the villages of Pudukkupathu, Pallakuruchi, and Mathavanakuruchi in Kulasekarapattinam and Santhankulamtaluks, is expected to be operational in two years.

It will complement the existing spaceport in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, and is strategically positioned to offer geographical advantages that promise fuel savings and more efficient satellite launches. To further leverage this new facility, the state is also setting up a Space Industrial and Propellants Park across 2,000 acres in the district, aiming to create a vibrant ecosystem for space industry players in the region.

ISRO scientists highlight that the Kulasekarapattinam spaceport will allow satellites to directly travel southwards, unlike those launched from Sriharikota, which need to manoeuvre southeast to avoid flying over Srilanka. This direct trajectory is expected to save fuel and reduce the turnaround time for launches, enhancing ISRO’s payload capability.

They also highlighted the establishment of the second spaceport and the space Industrial and Propellants Park is projected to not only boost India’s presence in the global small satellite market but also generate employment opportunities and spur development in the coastal town of Kulasekarapattinam.

8. New species of Head-shield Sea Slug discovered

Researchers of the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI have discovered a new species of head-shield sea slug from Odisha and the West Bengal coast. The new species “Melanochlamys Droupadi” named after President of India Droupadi Murmu.

The head shield sea slug with a ruby red spot was found along the 3km stretch from the low intertidal zones of Digha (West Bengal) and Udaypur (Odisha) coast. The new species, distinct from others of the same genus, inhabits wet and soft sandy beaches.

Zoologists and researchers of ZSI led by Prasad Chandra Tudu of Marine Aquarium and Regional Centre spotted the species crawling on the intertidal zone during a routine study of marine species at Hospital Ghat near Old Digha, about 50 meters away from the center. The head shield sea slug is a small invertebrate with a maximum length of up to 7mm, brownish-black in color with a ruby red spot in the hind end. It is hermaphrodite and has a shell inside the body.

9. Indian Navy Commissions INS Jatayu at Minicoy

INS Jatayu was commissioned at Minicoy Island, Lakshadweep in the presence of Adm R Hari Kumar, the Chief of Naval Staff, Hon’ble Administrator of Lakshadweep, Shri Praful K Patel, V Adm V Srinivas, Flag Officer commanding in chief, Southern Naval Command on 6 March 2024.

This milestone event strengthens the Indian Navy’s foothold in Lakshadweep Island while extending capacity building, operational reach, and sustenance in the region. The establishment of the Naval Base at Minicoy will augment connectivity with the mainland focusing towards the comprehensive development of the islands. INS Jatayu will be functioning under the operational control of the Naval Officer in Charge, Southern Naval Command.

In an impressive commissioning ceremony, the Chief of Naval Staff was presented a 50-man Guard of Honour. Commander Vrat Baghel, the first Commanding officer of the unit recited the invocation in Sanskrit followed by the reading of the commissioning warrant. After the unveiling of the commissioning plaque, the Naval Ensign was hoisted to the tune of the National Anthem the commissioning pennant was broken on the mast.

On completion of the commissioning ceremony, the Maritime Operations Centre at Minicoy was inaugurated. The chief of the naval staff interacted with the officers and men of the unit and commended them on this momentous occasion. INS Jatayu will play a significant role in the Indian Navy’s operational surveillance while embracing the vision of SAGAR (Security and Growth for all in the Region).

10. PM Modi Virtually Launches Agra Metro

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on March 6 took the priority corridor of the Agra Metro, for an inaugural ride after Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually flagged off the project earlier in the day. The 6km long priority corridor connects the iconic Taj Mahal’s eastern gate to the Mankameshwar Temple station, providing a vital transportation link for tourists and commuters alike.

The Agra Metro line comprises 6 stations, strategically located to provide easy access to major attractions such as the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Mankameshwar Temple, and Jama Masjid. Three stations are elevated, while three are underground. The station names include Taj Mahal East, Capitan Shubham Gupta, and Fatehabad Road.

11. Archaeologists discovered a 5000-year-old copper-age cemetery in Italy

Italy’s rich archaeological landscape has captured the attention of researchers, as a copper-age cemetery has been unearthed in San Giorgio Bigarello, Northern Italy. This discovery, nestled beneath the earth’s surface, offers a glimpse into an important transitional period between the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, shedding light on ancient burial customs and societal structures.

This discovery was made during the construction of a community garden. Housing 22 tombs adorned with a myriad of artifacts, including human remains and weaponry, the site’s magnitude exceeded initial expectations, leaving researchers awe-stuck at its grandeur.

The cemetery also reveals some information about the personal adornments and artistic expressions of the Copper Age people. The archaeologists discovered necklaces made of soapstone beads, pottery vessels with geometric decorations, and bone tools with engraved patterns. These artifacts show that the people had a sense of aesthetics and craftsmanship and that they used different materials and techniques to create their objects.

12. Kerala unveils first AI teacher in a school

Artificial Intelligence has become one of the most talked about trends in the field of technology in the past years and has touched all aspects of our lives, including education. As AI has made learning fun and easy, a Kerala school has introduced a humanoid as a teacher.

The humanoid teacher named Iris was unveiled at KTT Higher Secondary School in Thiruvananthapuram in collaboration with Makerlabs Edutech Private Limited. According to Makerlabs, Iris was built as part of the Atal Tinkering Lab, a 2021 NITI Aayog project to boost students’ extracurricular activities in schools.

Iris can speak three languages and also answer difficult questions, along with features including voice assistant, interactive learning, manipulation capabilities, and mobilities.

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