Current Affairs -06 March 2023

Current News Ecology & Environment

Treaty to Protect Biodiversity in High Seas

On March 4, 2023, United Nations members have reached a historic agreement to protect marine life in the high seas, which make up nearly half of the planet's surface.

  • The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into force in 1994 provided a legal framework for the management and conservation of marine resources in national waters.
  • The treaty represents a turning point in the conservation of marine biodiversity in the high seas, where protection has been hampered by a confusing patchwork of laws.
  • The agreement applies to nearly half of the planet's surface, creating a new body to manage conservation of ocean life and establish marine protected areas in the high seas.
  • The treaty establishes ground rules for conducting environmental impact assessments for commercial activities in the oceans.
  • The UN Biodiversity Conference has also pledged to protect 30% of the planet's waters and land for conservation, and the protection of marine life in the high seas is crucial for achieving this goal.

The high seas, also known as the Open Ocean or international waters, are areas of the ocean that are beyond any country's exclusive economic zone and national jurisdiction.

Current News Science & Technology

Potential of 'Organoid Intelligence' to Create Revolutionary Bio-Computers

On March 6, 2023, it was reported that scientists from Johns Hopkins University (JHU) have introduced a new field of study called "organoid intelligence" with the aim of developing "bio-computers".

  • The purpose of the research on biocomputers and brain organoids: To compare brain organoids from healthy individuals with those from patients to understand the biological basis of cognitive disorders and neurodegenerative diseases by analyzing brain structure, connections, and signaling.
  • Other ways to study the human brain: Scientists have transplanted human brain organoids into rat brains, where they formed connections and were functionally active.
  • About the ‘bio-computer: "Bio-computers” are being developed by combining brain organoids with modern computing methods. Organoids will be grown inside flexible structures with multiple electrodes to record the firing patterns of neurons and deliver electrical stimuli.
    • Comparing brain structure of healthy and patient-derived organoids to study neurological diseases.
    • Studying neuron connections and signaling in organoids for a better understanding of brain function.
    • Using brain organoids to identify the biological basis of cognition, learning, and memory.
    • Using brain organoids for drug development and early detection/diagnosis of neurological diseases.
  • ‘Bio-computers’ suitability for commercial use: The development of 'bio-computers' using brain organoids is still in the early stages and requires scaling up and incorporating non-neuronal cells to improve computing capacity.
  • To improve the computing capacity of brain organoids, researchers need to develop micro fluidic systems for transport, use advanced techniques to analyze the data, and establish an ethics team to address emerging ethical concerns.

News Crux Defence

IMX 2023

Participating in the International Maritime Exercise/Cutlass Express 2023 from February 26 to March 16, 2023, INS Trikand aims to improve maritime security and safety in the Gulf region through collaboration with other navies to counter illicit maritime activities.

  • The exercise is one of the largest multinational maritime exercises in the world, involving a range of activities such as maritime interdiction operations, search and rescue, and counter-piracy operations.
  • INS Trikand, an Indian Naval ship, is participating in the exercise for the first time.
  • IMX/CE-23 is an important exercise as it allows participating nations and agencies to work together to enhance their capabilities in countering maritime security threats in the Gulf region, such as piracy, smuggling, and terrorism.

News Crux Summit, Seminars & Conferences

Kaushal Mahotsav

On March 4th, the Union Minister of Tribal Affairs participated in the Kaushal Mahotsav job fair held in Seraikela-Kharsawan, Jharkhand to provide job opportunities for talented tribal youth.

  • The job fair was a unique example of public-private partnership and was attended by leading automotive companies offering job opportunities to become trained technicians for two and four-wheelers.

News Crux Ecology & Environment

Kottigehar Dancing Frog

On February 26, 2023, the Jerdon's narrow-mouthed frog, which had not been observed since 1934, was rediscovered in the Western Ghats by a team of zoologists.

  • The frog has a unique longish snout and shiny brown skin with darker brown, red and golden spots on the back and head.
  • It is considered a montane species and is found in rock pools or tree holes filled with rainwater at altitudes ranging from 800-1,916 metres.
  • The tadpoles of the species are free-swimming and exotrophic, feeding on other species.
  • The frog is classified as "Near Threatened" in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, but researchers are campaigning for it to be put under the "Endangered" group to aid conservation efforts.