Daily Current Affairs : 13th and 14th November 2023

Topics Covered

  1. Big Bounce
  2. Euclid Space Telescope
  3. Forest Conservation Amendment Act
  4. Facts for Prelims

    1 . Big Bounce

    Context: Carlo Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist who has written several popular-science books. In his latest work, White Holes: Inside the Horizon, Mr. Rovelli explains the theoretical existence of white holes – the converse of black holes. 

    About Big Bounce

    • The Big Bounce hypothesis is a cosmological model for the origin of the known universe. 
    • It was originally suggested as a phase of the cyclic model or oscillatory universe interpretation of the Big Bang, where the first cosmological event was the result of the collapse of a previous universe. 
    • It receded from serious consideration in the early 1980s after inflation theory emerged as a solution to the horizon problem, which had arisen from advances in observations revealing the large-scale structure of the universe. 
    • The concept of the Big Bounce envisions the Big Bang as the beginning of a period of expansion that followed a period of contraction. 
    • In this view, one could talk of a Big Crunch followed by a Big Bang or, more simply, a Big Bounce. This suggests that we could live at any point in an infinite sequence of universes, or conversely, the current universe could be the very first iteration. 
    • However, if the condition of the interval phase “between bounces”, considered the ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’, is taken into full contingency, such enumeration may be meaningless because that condition could represent a singularity in time at each instance if such perpetual repeats (cycles) were absolute and undifferentiated. 
    • The main idea behind the quantum theory of a Big Bounce is that, as density approaches infinity, the behavior of the quantum foam changes. All the so-called fundamental physical constants, including the speed of light in vacuum, need not remain constant during a Big Crunch, especially in the time interval smaller than that in which measurement may never be possible (one unit of Planck time, roughly 10−43 seconds) spanning or bracketing the point of inflection. 

    Big Bang vs Big Bounce

    • The Big Bang Theory proposes that the universe originated from an extremely hot and dense state around 13.8 billion years ago and has been expanding ever since. It suggests that all matter and energy were concentrated in a singularity and then rapidly expanded, leading to the formation of galaxies, stars, and other cosmic structures. 
    • On the other hand, the Big Bounce Theory offers an alternative perspective. Instead of a singular event of expansion from a hot, dense state, this theory posits that the current expanding universe is a result of a previous contracting phase. According to the Big Bounce Theory, the universe undergoes cycles of contraction and expansion, with each cycle preceding the next. 
    • The Big Bang Theory suggests a singular, explosive origin, while the Big Bounce Theory proposes a cyclic process of contraction and expansion. 

    2 . Euclid Space Telescope  

    Context: European astronomers have released the first images from the newly launched Euclid space telescope, designed to unlock the secrets of dark matter and dark energy, hidden forces thought to make up 95% of the universe. 

    About the news

    • The images captured by the telescope spanned four areas of the relatively nearby universe, including 1,000 galaxies belonging to the massive Perseus cluster just 240 million light-years away, and more than 100,000 galaxies spread out in the background. 
    • Scientists believe vast, seemingly organised structures such as Perseus could only have formed if dark matter exists. 
    • Other images released by ESA included an irregular galaxy thought to resemble building blocks of the universe and a spiral formation known as the “Hidden Galaxy”: a lookalike of our home galaxy usually obscured by light and dust within the Milky Way. 

    About the Euclid Space Telescope

    • The Euclid Space Telescope is a space mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) designed for investigating dark energy and dark matter.  
    • The telescope is named after the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid, known for his work in geometry. 
    • The primary goal of Euclid is to study the nature of dark energy and dark matter, which together constitute the majority of the universe but remain poorly understood. 
    • To achieve this, the Korsch- type telescope will measure the shapes of galaxies at varying distances from Earth and investigate the relationship between distance and redshift.  
    • ‘Red shift’ is a key concept for astronomers. The term can be understood literally – the wavelength of the light is stretched, so the light is seen as ‘shifted’ towards the red part of the spectrum.
    • Euclid will conduct a large-scale survey of the sky, mapping the three-dimensional distribution of galaxies and galaxy clusters. This survey aims to provide insights into the cosmic acceleration driven by dark energy. 

    What is Dark Energy?  

    • Dark energy is a term used in astrophysics and cosmology to describe a hypothetical form of energy that is thought to permeate all of space and accelerate the expansion of the universe. 
    • It represents one of the most significant and mysterious components of the cosmos. 
    • Despite its significant influence on the large-scale structure of the universe, the nature of dark energy remains one of the most profound mysteries in physics. It has not been directly observed, and its properties are not well understood. 

    About Dark Matter  

    • Dark matter is a mysterious form of matter that does not emit, absorb, or reflect light, making it invisible and undetectable through electromagnetic observations.  
    • It is one of the major constituents of the universe, alongside ordinary matter (atoms) and dark energy. 
    • Dark matter does not interact with electromagnetic forces, such as light. It neither emits nor scatters light, making it transparent and invisible to telescopes that detect electromagnetic radiation. 
    • Although dark matter doesn’t emit light, its presence is inferred through its gravitational effects. It interacts with ordinary matter and radiation through gravity, influencing the large-scale structure of the universe. 

    3 . Forest Conservation Amendment Act

    Context: From the colonial forest law in 1865 to the Forest Conservation Amendment Act, 2023, more than fifteen laws, Acts, and policies have been formulated interlinking forests with legal and policy frameworks. However, there is little to no recognition of the rights of indigenous communities in these Acts, who are the rightful inhabitants of forest lands.  

    About the new amendment :  

    • The amendment primarily aims to tackle the critical issues of climate change and deforestation’s adverse effects, focusing on effective management and afforestation. 
    • The law further aims to determine how forests can be utilised for economic gain, and the manner in which it seeks to achieve this goal is outlined in the legislation. 
    • As per the amendment, the forest law will now apply exclusively to areas categorised under the 1927 Forest Act and those designated as such on or after October 25, 1980. 
    • The Act will not be applicable to forests that were converted for non-forest use on or after December 12, 1996 and land which falls under 100 kilometres from the China and Pakistan border where the central government can build linear projects. 
    • the central government is authorised to construct security measures in areas up to ten hectares to establish security infrastructure and facilities for surveillance. This provision also applies to areas (up to five hectares) which are designated as vulnerable. Within these regions, the government, with the necessary approvals, can implement security protocols. 
    • Initiatives like ecotourism, safari, environmental entertainment, and more may be implemented in these areas. 

    Why was the amendment brought in? 

    • The Godavarman Thirumulkpad case, a prominent legal dispute that came before the Supreme Court in 1996, led to an interpretation of forest land in accordance with its ‘dictionary meaning’. 
    • Subsequently, all private forests were brought under the ambit of the 1980 law. This has been a subject of debate as it was argued that the legislation primarily aims to restrict forest land from being used for various non-forest purposes, including the conversion of land for large-scale industries. 
    •  The law has faced significant opposition, especially from private landowners, individuals, and organisations involved in forest conservation, for its perceived adverse impact on the country’s industrial progress. 
    • Concerns regarding the Forest Conservation Act tend to resurface periodically, echoing the apprehensions of indigenous communities and human rights activist.  
    • These factors came to the forefront again when the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Bill was introduced in Parliament , triggering extensive discussions and debates. The Parliament then referred the Bill to a 31-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). 

    Issues with the act:  

    • The law when put into practice, presents substantial challenges to forest dwelling communities and government agencies. 
    • The concept of afforestation, which offers considerable financial incentives to private individuals and institutions for afforestation projects, fundamentally clashes with the idea of forest governance. 
    • It contradicts the concept of decentralised forest governance as forests in the country fall under the concurrent list. 
    • Defining strategic linear projects becomes exceptionally complex and vague. 
    • Unlike external security threats like border disputes and cross-border skirmishes, internal environmental security should also be considered a significant concern, especially in States that consistently face natural disasters. The new amendment falls short of considering it. 

    4 . Facts for Prelims

    PM-Kisan Bhai (Bhandaran Incentive) scheme:  

    • The objective of this initiative is to encourage farmers to store their harvest for at least three months after collecting it, providing them the freedom to choose when and where to sell their crops.  
    • The intention is to challenge the dominance of traders in determining crop prices, empowering farmers with increased authority over their agricultural yield. 
    •  This program allows farmers the flexibility to decide the timing of their sales, diverging from the conventional approach where the majority of crops are sold immediately after harvest, typically within a span of two to three months. 
    • The initiative might be tested in states like Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh on a pilot basis.   
      •  Two Main Components: Warehousing Rental Subsidy (WRS): Small-scale farmers and farmer producer organizations (FPOs) are eligible for a WRS benefit of ₹4 per quintal per month for up to three months, regardless of warehousing charges. 
      • Prompt Repayment Incentive (PRI): The government plans to offer an additional 3% interest subvention under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme for farmers who store their produce and secure loans at subsidized interest rates.  
    • The storage incentive is proposed to be provided for a maximum of three months, and crops stored for 15 days or less won’t qualify for the subsidy. The incentive will be calculated on a daily basis. 

    GPS Anklet

    • A GPS tracker is a small, wearable device like the GPS collars that have long been used to monitor the movements of animals. The device provides the exact location of the wearer at all times, and allows law enforcement and security agencies to monitor his/ her movement in real time. 
    • The device is tamper-proof, and any attempt at tampering with it sets off an alarm. It can also not be removed by the wearer or any unauthorised person without damaging it. 
    • GPS devices are very common these days, and some people put them on pets. The movements of wild animals such as rogue elephants in Kerala or the cheetahs in Kuno are monitored using these devices. 
    •  Many new automobiles are equipped with trackers to ensure they can be traced if stolen; owners can also have them installed separately. 

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