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Prelim Bits 04-03-2023 | UPSC Daily Current Affairs

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March 04, 2023

Battle of Bakhmut

Bakhmut is currently in ruins, having been the focal point of Russian assaults and a site of dogged defence by the Ukrainian military.

  • Bakhmut is a small mining town in Eastern Ukraine.
  • The tiny town with a pre-war population of around 70,000 people.
  • Battle of Bakhmut is one of the bloodiest fighting in the Ukraine-Russia War.
  • The Russians have surrounded Bakhmut from 3 sides.
  • Bakhmut’s civilian population has long fled and only charred ruins remains.

bakhmut

  • Russians - They see Bakhmut as a symbol of their resolve to war.
  • Ukrainians - They are proud of holding on to the land.
  • Significance - Bakhmut does not have either militarily important industry nor is it strategically located such that its capture is vital.
  • Bakhmut have less to do with military strategy than political strategy.
  • Meat-Grinder - Battle of Bakhmut is a symbol of the bloody struggle.
  • The Battle of Bakhmut has taken on a similar character of Battle of Verdun: A meat-grinder.

The Battle of Verdun in World War I has been described by historians as a meat-grinder: where many young men succumbed to death in the war while trying to make negligible strategic gains.

References

  1. IE - Battle of Bakhmut: Ukraine-Russia War
  2. Forbes - The Bloody Battle of Bakhmut

Lewis Super Acids

Researchers at the Paderborn University, Germany have been able to make a unique class of catalysts called “Lewis super-acids”.

  • ‘Lewis super-acids are derived from Lewis acids, named after the chemist, G N Lewis.
  • Lewis super-acids’ are used as catalysts in chemistry to accelerate reactions.
  • These are compounds that add electron pairs.
  • These can be used to break strong chemical bonds and speed up reactions.
  • These are highly reactive reagents, thus difficult to produce and use.
  • Significance - It enables non-biodegradable fluorinated hydrocarbons (similar to Teflon) to be converted back into sustainable chemicals.
  • It can possibly even convert climate-damaging greenhouse gases, such as sulphur hexafluoride into sustainable ones.

Lewis acid and Lewis base

Lewis acid

Lewis base

An electron-pair acceptor

An electron-pair donor

Substances such as a Hydrogen ion (H+)

Substances such as the hydroxide (OH-) ion

References

  1. The Hindu - What are Lewis super acids?

Sisupalgarh

Land mafias have damaged a portion of the wall of the fortified ancient city of Sisupalgarh.

  • Sisupalgarh is a majestic archaeological heritage that has survived over 2,600 years.
  • It is the only fortified site in India having 8 gateways.
  • Sisupalgarh is located on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.
  • History - Sisupalgarh is believed to have been built around the 7th to 6th century BCE.
  • It served as the capital of the Kalinga kingdom.
  • It was also an important centre of trade and commerce during ancient times.
  • Excavation - The excavation of the Sisupalgarh site was first taken up in 1948.
  • Sisupalgarh, Badadhanpu Lingipur, Raghunathpur and Mahabhoisasan, was declared a Centrally Protected Monument in 1950.
  • Findings - The urban centre it was surrounded by a moat.
  • The water management system of the city was unique.
  • The fortification was carried out in the 4th to 3rd century BCE, when King Kharavela took up the repair of the city 2,100 years ago.
  • Sisupalgarh is one of very few historical references of the present capital city of Bhubaneswar.

References

  1. The Hindu - Land mafias damage rampart of Sisupalgarh

Great Pyramid of Giza

A hidden corridor has been unearthed by scientists close to the main entrance of the 4,500-year-old Great Pyramid of Giza.

  • The hidden corridor was roughly 2m wide and 9m long.
  • The discovery was made in 2016 using a non-invasive technique called cosmic-ray muon radiography.
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest of the 3 pyramids in Giza.
  • It stands roughly 147 m above the Giza plateau.
  • It was built 4,500 years ago during the reign of Khufu.
  • Khufu is often considered the greatest pharaoh of Egypt’s old kingdom.
  • The pyramid is also known as Khufu or Cheops pyramid.
  • It is estimated that the pyramid was built using 2.5 million stone blocks, each weighing between 2.5 and 15 tonnes.
  • There are 2 distinct tunnel systems inside the Great Pyramid –
    1. The Descending Passage (described by Greeks like Herodotus) and
    2. The Ascending Passage (opened by the Arabs in the 9th century).
  • Muography - Muon tomography or muography uses muons to generate three-dimensional images of such large structures.
  • Muography is conceptually similar to X-ray but capable of scanning much larger and wider structures, owing to the penetration power of muons.
  • Muon tomography was first used in the 1960s and recently found widespread utilisation especially in archaeology.
  • Applications - Examining archaeological sites, customs security, internal imaging of volcanoes.
  • Muon -Muons are subatomic particles raining from space.
  • These are high-energy particles, naturally produced and ubiquitous.
  • They are created when the particles in Earth’s atmosphere collide with cosmic rays.

References

  1. IE - Great Pyramid of Giza
  2. New Indian Express - Egypt reveals chamber inside Great Pyramid

Hallmark Unique Identification

The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs said that the sale of gold jewellery mandates a Hallmark Unique Identification (HUID) from April 1, 2023.

  • The HUID is a unique 6-digit alphanumeric code consisting of numbers and letters.
  • The HUID will be given to every piece of jewellery at the time of hallmarking and it is unique for every piece of jewellery.
  • This unique number is stamped manually, on jewellery at the Assaying & Hallmarking centres.
  • Present scenario - Earlier, the HUID used to be of 4 digits and now both 4 and 6 digit HUIDs are used in the market.
  • From April 1st 2023, only 6-digit alphanumeric code will be allowed.
  • Symbol - The BIS Hallmark consists of 3 symbols -

bismark

  • Advantages - HUID is unique to each piece of jewellery.
  • Ensures the credibility of the jewellery
  • Enables its traceability
  • Doesn’t jeopardise data privacy or security.
  • Verification - The authenticity of hallmarked jewellery can be checked by using 'verify HUID' feature on the BIS Care App.

Bureau of Indian Standards

  • The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is the national Standards Body of India established under the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.
  • BIS is working under the aegis of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Government of India.

References

  1. IE - No sale of gold jewellery without HUID from April 1
  2. ET - What is HUID number in gold jewellery
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