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Important Facts For Prelims

Important Facts For Prelims (19th April 2019)

  • 19 Apr 2019
  • 10 min read

Bubble Boy Disease

  • As per a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, U.S. scientists used ‘HIV’ in making a gene therapy that cured eight infants of "bubble boy" disease.
    • The study details how scientists turned the enemy virus (HIV) into a saviour, altering it so it couldn’t cause disease and then using it to deliver a gene that babies with "bubble boy" disease lacked.
  • Bubble Boy Disease, also known as Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Syndrome (SCID) is caused by a genetic flaw that keeps the bone marrow from making effective versions of blood cells that comprise an immune system.
    • An immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, organs that helps the body in fighting infections and other diseases.
  • It affects 1 in 2,00,000 newborns, almost exclusively males. Without treatment, it often kills in the first year or two of life.
  • The nickname ‘bubble boy disease’ has come from a famous case in the 1970s- a Texas boy with SCID, lived for 12 years in a protective plastic bubble for isolation from germs.
  • A bone marrow transplant from a genetically matched sibling can cure SCID, but most people lack a suitable donor. Transplants are risky too; the Texas boy died after one.
  • Doctors think gene therapy could be a solution. It involves removing some of a patient’s blood cells, using the modified HIV to insert the missing gene, and returning the cells to the body.

Top U.K. honour for Indian Scientists

  • Scientist and businessman Yusuf Hamied is among a host of Indian-origin experts honoured in the 2019 list of new fellows of the U.K.’s Royal Society.
    • The Royal Society is an independent scientific academy of the U.K. and the Commonwealth, dedicated to promoting excellence in science.
    • It is the world’s oldest scientific academy, in continuous existence since the seventeenth century.
    • Cipla Chairman, Hamied is a Padma Bhushan awardee, and is known for efforts to produce low-cost drugs to treat diabetes, cancer and other diseases.
  • Among other Indian-origin scientists elected as fellows this year are microbiologist Gurdyal Besra, mathematicians Manjul Bhargava and Akshay Venkatesh and health experts Gagandeep Kang and Anant Parekh.

Bloomberg Misery Index

  • The South American nation, Venezuela has topped the rankings of Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which is calculated as the sum of a country’s inflation and unemployment rates.
    • It relies on the age-old concept that low inflation and unemployment generally illustrate how good an economy’s residents should feel.
    • This year’s scores are based on Bloomberg economist surveys, while prior years reflect actual data.
    • The index compared the median estimate of economists’ forecasts for each country’s rates in 2019 to 2018 published data. There are total 62 countries in the index.
  • Joining Venezuela in the most-distressed cuntries are Argentina, South Africa, Turkey, Greece and Ukraine -- each of which retained the same rank as last year, showing intense economic stress and scant progress in taming price growth and getting people back to work.
  • Thailand again claimed the title of the “least miserable” economy, though the government’s unique way of tallying unemployment makes it less noteworthy than Switzerland’s improvement to second-least and Singapore managing to stay in the bottom three.
  • The U.S. moved six spots toward 13th least miserable, and the U.K. improved four spots to 16th least.
  • Russia’s 17-spot deterioration in its score, to the 17th most miserable economy, is owed to projections of higher prices and stagnation in joblessness.

Nepal Launches its First Satellite 

  • Nepal has successfully launched its first satellite into space from Virginia in United States to gather detailed geographical information of the Himalayan nation.
  • Developed by the Nepalese scientists, was launched at 2:31 am (Nepal time), according to Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST).
  • NepaliSat-1 satellite has been developed by the two Nepali scientists, Aabhas Maskey and Hariram Shrestha under the BIRDS project of the Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan.
    • NAST initiated the launch of the country's own satellite under the BIRDS project of the Japanese Kyushu Institute of Technology.
    • The BIRDS project has been designed in association with the United Nations and aims at helping countries launch their first satellite.
  • NepaliSat-1 is a low orbit satellite which will be in the 400-km distance from the Earth's surface.
    • It will be stationed at the International Space Station (ISS) for a month and then it will be sent to orbit the earth.
    • It is a small satellite weighing 1.3 kilograms, with limited capability.
  • The satellite will take photographs on a regular basis to gather geographical information of Nepal.

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Vasanthotsavam

  • The annual ‘Vasantotsavam’ is being held at the temple of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala, Andhra Pradesh.
  • The Annual Vasanthotsavam is performed for 3 days of Trayodasi, Chaturdasi and Pournami in the month of Chaitra (March/April) every year.
  • It is believed to be started by King Achyutaraya in 1460's to mark the arrival of Spring Season.
  • Vasantotsavam is the combination of 2 words - "Vasantha" (Spring season in Sanskrit) and "Utsavam" (festival in Sanskrit).

Dastangoi

  • An oral Urdu storytelling tradition.
  • It has the dastango or storyteller whose voice is main artistic tool at the centre.
  • While it originated in Persia, the art form travelled to Delhi and other parts of India, with the spread of Islam.
  • It reached its pinnacle during the sepoy mutiny of 1857, when a number of Dastangos migrated to Lucknow, and popularized the art form in the city.
  • The artform died for a while with the demise of Mir Baqar Ali in 1928, and was revived in 2005 only.

Simbakubwa Kutokaafrika

  • Researchers have discovered the fossils of an enormous carnivore who lived in Kenya 22 million years ago.
  • It has been named as Simbakubwa kutokaafrika, Swahili for “big lion”. It weighed about a tonne and was 8 feet long.
  • Simbakubwa is neither a bear nor a member of the extended feline family (big cat family).
  • The massive mammal was a Hyaenodon, a now-extinct lineage of carnivores. Hyaenodon are not, by the way, related to modern hyenas, but they do have similar dentition (the arrangement or condition of the teeth in a particular species).
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