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Prelim Bits 07-09-2021 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

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September 07, 2021

Animal Spirits

The government has given an urgent call to action for reviving the animal spirits in the economy.

  • ‘Animal spirits’ is a term coined by the British economist, J. M. Keynes.
  • This term refers to the ways that human emotions and instincts can drive financial decision-making of investors and consumers in times of economic stress or uncertain environments and volatile times.
  • Animal spirits are used to help explain why people behave irrationally, and are the forerunner to modern behavioral economics.
  • If spirits are low, confidence levels will be low. This will drive down a promising market - even if the economy fundamentals are strong.
  • If spirits are high, confidence among participants in the economy will be high, and market prices will soar.

Wood Wide Web

  • It is the term used to describe the underground network of microbes that connects the trees.
  • Through this system, the trees exchange carbon dioxide gases between each other (for photosynthesis).
  • This system may extend through the whole forest, and help young trees that are struggling on a dry patch for carbon transfer from the luckier trees.

Mutualism is an interaction that confers benefits on both the interacting species.

E.g.: Lichens represent an intimate mutualistic relationship between a fungus and photosynthesising algae or cyanobacteria.

  • Mycorrhizae are mutualistic associations between fungi and the roots of higher plants.
    • The root-invading fungus gains energy-yielding carbohydrates and other nutrients from the plant.
    • In exchange, the plants get essential nutrients and also difficult-to-find minerals like phosphorus from the microbe.
  • Rhizobacteria are mutualistic associations between bacteria and roots, and a very wide range of these species are plant growth promoters.
    • These bacteria get sugars from the plants.
    • In exchange, the bacteria help plants ward off pathogens that cause root diseases. They may trigger systemic resistance to a pathogen throughout the plant.

Gambusia Fish to Control Dengue

Firozabad district administration has released Gambusia fish (mosquitofish) that eat dengue-breeding mosquito larvae in ponds.

  • This Insectivorous fish is known to check the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue.
  • Gambusia eats about 100 larvae daily.
  • They are bred in ponds, wells and other shallow water bodies, which are the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
  • This makes them an excellent biological tool for mosquito control as they eat the larvae before they develop into adult mosquitoes.
  • Besides Gambusia, guppy fish is used to check the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. They are bred in the same manner as Gambusia.
  • A WHO study said that this strategy of using indigenous or exotic fish species with larvivorous potential (fish that feed on larvae) is potentially safer as it doesn’t involve use of insecticides.
  • It also states that this strategy is scientifically proven to be effective in malaria control.

Biocontrol

  • Biocontrol is the management of a pest or an insect, typically invasive species, using biological agents.
  • It is defined as the reduction of pest populations by introducing a natural predator into the environment.
  • Also known as Biological Control or natural control, it is a component of an integrated pest management strategy.
  • Examples of biological control agents are predators, parasitoids, pathogens, insects, nematodes, etc.,

Vaccine Passport

  • It is a certification of the Covid-19 health status of a citizen, approved by inter-governmental bodies, which can be carried physically or digitally.
  • Covid-19 vaccine passports refer to a person’s vaccination status, recent infection record or a recent RT-PCR test result that shows no infection.
  • A version of the certification adopted by International Air Transport Association is being rolled out by all major international carriers.
  • Beneficiaries - Countries whose economies rely on tourism can look forward to improved tourist flow if there can be international standards evolved on vaccine passports.
  • Such certification can help people moving across international borders.
  • It can be a ticket to attend indoor events or restaurants in countries with high vaccination rates, to promote mobility within their economies.
  • Even in regional/domestic economies, non-travel related activities which rely on physical presence can restart, with such passports.
  • WHO’s Stand - The WHO had said that proof of vaccination not be required for movement.
  • But on presenting such proof, nations could relax measures relating to testing and quarantine for such travellers.
  • This can benefit travellers who are fully vaccinated 2 weeks prior by ‘approved vaccines’.
  • Related Links - European green pass and Emergency Use Authorization.

Inspiration4

SpaceX is going to launch ‘Inspiration4’, the world’s 1st all-civilian, non-governmental spaceflight soon.

  • This mission will take 4 private citizens into space in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will be privately operated by SpaceX.
  • This mission involves circling the Earth for 3 days at the height of 575km (low Earth orbit), and then splashing down into the Atlantic Ocean.
  • This will be the farthest distance travelled by a crewed mission since 2009, when astronauts went to repair the Hubble telescope (547km).
  • The dome window has been inspired by the Cupola, a module on the International Space Station used to make observations about our planet.
  • Significance - The journey will present an opportunity for collecting many health data that will aid in planning future crewed space missions.
  • This will help in assessing behavioural and cognitive changes over the journey.
  • The travellers will undergo balance and prescription tests just before and after their journey to assess their response to the change in gravity.

 

Source: PIB, The Hindu, The Indian Express, New Indian Express, Science, Space, News18

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