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15-12-2022

12:00:AM

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Table of Content


  • GS-3 SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY
    • Understanding the fusion energy breakthrough announced by the U.S. High-speed 6-G internet
    • The Arctic Is Becoming Wetter and Stormier, Scientists Warn
  • Fact File
  • Russia replaces Iraq as top oil supplier to India in November
  • U.S. military creates space unit in S. Korea

  • RS clears Bill to move Gond community to ST list in U.P

  • Eklavya schools running with just 58% of teachers: govt.


Understanding the fusion energy breakthrough announced by the U.S.

GS-3: Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life.

 

United States government declared that National Ignition Facility (NIF) – located at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), California – has produced 153% of the energy required to trigger it through the process of Nuclear Fusion. This is the significant milestone in the nuclear fusion research and step towards “zero-carbon abundant fusion energy powering our society”.

 

Nuclear Fusion

  • Nuclear fusion is the process of heating and combining two atoms of a light element to form a single heavier element
  • According to the mass-energy equivalence, when two atoms of Hydrogens-2 nuclei are heated and combined, it produces Helium-4 nucleus, a neutron and 17.6 MeV of energy.
  • But it is very difficult to combine two identical elements as they have the positive charge that naturally repel each other.
  • Thus, tremendous amount of energy is required to overcome this resistance and for the process of nuclear fusion.
  • Naturally, this process occurs in the Sun and all other stars.
  • This process is the reason behind shining of the stars and amount of energy radiated by them.
  • This process occurs in the Sun due to extremely high temperatures (Approx. 10 million degrees Celsius) and pressure (more than 100 billion times that of the Earth's atmosphere).
  • It is very difficult to achieve and maintain such a high temperature and pressure on Earth for long time.
  • The NIF has successfully used a 192-beam laser to turn a tiny amount of hydrogen into enough energy to power about 15 - 20 kettles.
  • Though, in reality, for large-scale nuclear fusion, there is a long way to go.

 

Ways to achieve Nuclear Fusion

  • There are two popular ways to achieve nuclear fusion – Magnetic confinement and inertial confinement.
  • These methods are differ mainly in the way the input energy is supplied to create the extreme heat to enable fusion that consequently results in differences in design and capabilities. 
  • Magnetic confinement:
  • It uses bespoke reactors in which a hydrogen plasma is heated to a high temperature and the nuclei are guided by strong magnetic fields to fuse.
  • Example, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) – the international collaborative project in southern France – uses magnetic field to generate energy through nuclear fusion.
  • Inertial confinement: 
  • It uses high-energy laser beams to achieve those temperatures.
  • The technique is called inertial confinement because the nuclei’s inertia creates a short window between implosion and explosion in which nuclear forces dominate, fusing the nuclei.
  • It is relatively easier to attain break-even energy levels through inertial fusion compared to magnetic fusion. 
  • The technique is used by NIF in the recent event to generate energy through nuclear fusion.


Advantages of Nuclear Fusion 

  • Abundant energy: Does not rely on fossil fuels and releases four million times more energy than a chemical reaction such as the burning of coal, oil or gas and four times as much as nuclear fission reactions (at equal mass).
  • Help tackle climate change: Does not produce harmful greenhouse gases.
  • Sustainability: Fusion in ITER will require two elements - Deuterium and Tritium.
  • By product: Helium, which is an inert, non-toxic gas.
  • No long-lived radioactive waste: Waste decays much quickly.
  • Limited risk of proliferation: There are no enriched materials in a fusion reactor that could be exploited to make nuclear weapons.
  • No risk of meltdown: The quantity of fuel present in the vessel at any one time is enough for a few seconds only and there is no risk of a chain reaction.


Nuclear Fission

  • The process is currently in use across the world in nuclear power station, in which the nucleus of a heavier element is split into those of lighter elements in a controlled manner to generate electricity.
  • The process uses Uranium as a source generally, which produces a lot of radioactive waste, which can be dangerous and must be stored safely - potentially for hundreds of years.


Nuclear Fusion vs Nuclear Fission

  • Fusion is the joining of atomic nuclei whereas fission is the splitting of atomic nuclei.
  • Fusion produces more energy than fission.
  • Fusion does not create harmful radioactive by-products that need to be stored for thousands of years, which is essential in case of fission.


International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)

Around 35 nations are collaborating to build the world's largest tokamak – a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion based on the same principle that powers the Sun.

  • Inside a tokamak, the energy produced through the fusion of atoms is absorbed as heat in the walls of the vessel.
  • Located in Southern France.
  • Objectives: 
  • Investigation and demonstration of burning plasmas.
  • Plasmas in which the energy of the helium nuclei produced by the fusion reactions is enough to maintain the temperature of the plasma, thereby reducing or eliminating the need for external heating. 
  • To test the availability and integration of technologies essential for a fusion reactor such as – superconducting magnets, remote maintenance, and systems to exhaust power from the plasma.
  • To test the validity of tritium breeding module concepts that would lead in a future reactor to tritium self-sufficiency.
  • 1985: The idea of ITER was first launched.
  • Members: 35 including China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States.
  • 2005: India joined. 
  • Participant from Indian side: The Institute for Plasma Research in Ahmedabad, a laboratory under the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • Functions:  India is building several components of the ITER reactor, carrying out a number of experiments and R&D activities related to the project.

[Ref- TH]



The Arctic Is Becoming Wetter and Stormier, Scientists Warn

GS-3: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.


Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published the Arctic Report Card. The year of 2022 was recorded as the sixth warmest year for the Arctic, which has given plenty of signs of changing in the region. The impacts of climate change happen first in Polar Regions. With shift in climate and seasons, the frigid and frozen Arctic is becoming wetter and stormier, which forcing local communities, wildlife and ecosystems to adapt. 

 

 

Key Findings of the Report

  • Over four decades of continuous satellite monitoring, a September heat wave in Greenland caused the most severe melting of the island’s ice sheet for that time of the year.
  • In 2021, an August heat wave had caused it to rain at the ice sheet’s summit for the first time.
  • The Greenland ice sheet has lost ice for the last 25 years including this year.
  • Temperatures in the Arctic Circle have been rising faster compared to rest of the planet.
  • The region has warmed at four times the global average rate over the past four decades.
  • The arctic region is now defining less by sea ice, snow and permafrost and more by open water, rain and green landscapes.
  • The rapid melting ice, thawing permafrost, increasing heat, wildfires and other changes are threatening physical insfrastructure, livelihoods and physical safety of the community living in the Arctic.
  • Melting of ice raises sea levels around the world, changes the way heat and water circulate in the oceans, and influences extreme weather events like heat waves and rainstorms.
  • Rising temperatures have helped plants, shrubs and grasses grow in parts of the Arctic tundra.
  • In 2022, particularly in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, northern Quebec and central Siberia, levels of green vegetation that were the fourth highest since 2000.
  • Precipitation levels have increased significantly in the Arctic since the mid-20th century.
  • 2022 was the region’s third-wettest since 1950.
  • Reasons behind increased precipitation: 
  • Warmer air can hold more moisture.
  • As sea ice retreats, storms can suck up more open ocean water.
  • Storms are passing over warmer water before reaching the Arctic, feeding them with more energy.
  • Snow cover in the North American Arctic was the second-lowest and in the Eurasian Arctic was the third lowest on record in June 2022.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • NOAA is an American scientific and regulatory agency.
  • Functions of NOAA: Daily weather forecasting, severe storm warnings, climate monitoring, fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce and protection of marine mammals and endangered species in the U.S.

 

[Ref- IE]


Fact Files


Russia replaces Iraq as top oil supplier to India in November

  • Replacing Iraq, Russia has emerged as top oil supplier to India for the month of November 2022.
  • India’s oil imports from Russia rose for the 5th straight month.
  • India’s Oil Import (General/Before Russia-Ukraine war): Iraq>>Saudi Arabia>> Russia>> UAE

[Ref – ET]

U.S. military creates space unit in S. Korea

  • The U.S. military formally launched a space force unit in South Korea.
  • Aim: To better monitor its rivals – North Korea, China and Russia.

The Space Force 

  • Launched in 2019 as the new U.S. military service.
  • Objective: To more effectively organize for the defense of U.S. interests in space — especially satellites used for civilian and military navigation, intelligence and communication. 

India Internet Governance Forum 2022

  • Recently, IIGF conducted an event to discuss the roadmap to digitization and to reaffirm India's place on the global stage by emphasizing its role and importance in international policy development on internet governance.
  • Theme: ‘Leveraging TechEd for Empowering Bharat’.
  • Objectives: 
  • Connecting the unconnected ones with best internet connectivity.
  • Building laws which ensure the privacy, protection, data, security and safety of our citizens.
  • Create a trillion-dollar digital economy in the next three years.

About India Internet Government Forum (IIGF)

  • The IIGF is an initiative associated with the UN Internet Governance Forum (UN-IGF). 
  • The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a multi-stakeholder platform bringing representatives together from various groups, all at par to discuss public policy issues related to the Internet.

RS clears Bill to move Gond community to ST list in U.P

  • The Rajya Sabha passed the Constitution (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Orders (Second Amendment) Bill-2022, which seeks to give the ST status to the Gond community in four districts – Chandauli  Kushinagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and Sant Ravidas Nagar – of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The demand for inclusion of the Gond community in the ST list was first raised in the 1980s.

Eklavya schools running with just 58% of teachers: govt.

  • As per government data, the Eklavya Model Residential Schools for tribal students are functioning with just 58% of the teachers.

Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS)

  • Started in 1997-98.
  • Aim: To impart quality education to ST children in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of opportunities in high and professional educational courses and get employment in various sectors.
  • Each school has a capacity of 480 students, catering to students from Class VI to XII. 
  • Under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution, grants were given to the State Governments for construction of schools and recurring expenses.
  • Decided in 2022 that every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an EMRS.









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