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Factoids for Prelims 2020


Ranyo Ashoka, Himalayan nettle, Denisovan - Who would have thought of such random questions?

Creating this thread with the sole purpose of sharing facts that can be relevant for Prelims. While there is always this thought, that there is no end to learning and mugging up facts, but if we observe closely - the options are not very close and elimination is easy. By pooling our resources here, if we give it one reading also, the probability of retaining it on the D day and eliminating options increases exponentially. 

I request the aspirants to actively contribute here and let's hope that we strike gold on 31st ;). 

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Astronomers have spotted the closest black hole to Earth ever discovered.

This triple system, called HR 6819, can be seen from Earth’s southern hemisphere with the naked eye, in the constellation Telescopium. Until now, the closest-known black hole was one perhaps three times further away.

The black hole, at least 4.2 times the mass of the sun, is gravitationally bound to two stars in a so-called triple system roughly 1,000 light years from Earth.

Black holes are extraordinarily dense objects possessing gravitational pulls so powerful that not even light can escape. Some are monstrous like the one at our galaxy’s center - 26,000 light years from Earth that is four million times the sun’s mass. 

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  • There are 1,400 species of bats around the world, and 128 in India. The most common ones that people see in India are the large Common Indian flying fox, the short-nosed fruit bat (half the size of flying fox), and pipistrelles which are very small.
  • Most of these bats feed on fruit, while the pipistrelle eats flies, mosquitos and moths. 
  • People avoid bat colonies because of the chance of fungal infections just like you would get from pigeon faeces, or from the droppings of other animals.
  • Rice plantations to mangroves to even the mahua tree — are dependent on bats. They are pollinators, seed dispersers and pest controllers.
  • Bats are not blind, they just prefer echolocation to sight because it is easier and faster in the darkness.
  • Echolocation is the process of using ultrasound and its echoes (instead of rays of light) to gauge where objects are placed and of what size they are.
  • Bats use it to navigate their routes, find foods such as insects, and even objects as fine as the human hair.
  • Chiropterologists - Someone who studies bats 
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Deep sea is characterised by high pressure, extreme temperatures and absence of light (Aphotic zone) 

3 Main sources of energy & nutrients for deep sea community:-

1) Marine Snow - Constant fall all of organic detritus from upper layers. Marine Snow consists of bits of aggregates of algae, microorganisms, etc.

2) Chemosynthesis at hydrothermal vents & cold seeps - Occurrence of biological conversion of Carbon molecules & nutrients into organic matter using oxidation of inorganic compounds in absence of sunlight. 

3) Whale falls -  when the carcass of a whale falls onto the ocean floor in the abyssal zones. On the sea floor, these carcasses can create complex localized ecosystems that supply sustenance to deep-sea organisms for decades.
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Kashmir saffron has been given the GI tag by the Geographical Indications Registry. It is grown in the highlands of Jammu and Kashmir, including in places like Pulwama, Budgam, Kishtwar and Srinagar. Kashmir saffron is cultivated and harvested in the Karewa (highlands) of Jammu and Kashmir.

Saffron cultivation is believed to have been introduced in Kashmir by Central Asian immigrants around 1st Century BCE. In ancient Sanskrit literature, saffron is referred to as ‘bahukam’. 

It is the only saffron in the world grown at an altitude of 1,600 m to 1,800 m AMSL (above mean sea level), which adds to its uniqueness and differentiates it from other saffron varieties available the world over. 

Iran is currently the largest producer of Saffron. India is a large importer of the same. 

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X-37B plane recently launched by USA likely to test this technology.

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50by50 initiative 

  • It is part of Global Fuel Economy Initiative 
  • Led by UNEP


  • Stabilize GHG emissions from global light duty vehicles through 50% improvement of vehicle fuel efficiency worldwide by 2050 & by 2030 for new vehicles.
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Epidemiological Triad

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Locusts are large herbivorous insects that can
be pests of agriculture due to their
ability to form dense and highly mobile

India has a locust control and research scheme that is being implemented through the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO), established in 1939 and amalgamated in 1946 with the Directorate of Plant Protection Quarantine and Storage (PPQS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, according to the PPQS. The LWO’s responsibility is monitoring and
control of the locust situation in Scheduled Desert Areas, mainly in Rajasthan and
Gujarat, and partly in Punjab and Haryana.
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Gujili paatu is a type of subaltern literature that existed in Tamil Nadu from the mid-19th Century to the 1950s.
Written by the common man in typical songbook that had not more than 10 pages and recorded the important news events.

Gujili paatu gets its name from the Gujili market in George Town, where the songbooks were sold.
The songs gave accurate information about events that unfolded, from a common man’s perspective. The songs were written incolloquial Tamil which makes them even more relatable.
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simply superb! Thanks for your selfless service.

Hope Spots are special places that are critical to the health of the ocean.

Hope Spots are about recognizing, empowering and supporting individuals and communities around the world in their efforts to protect the ocean.

Sylvia Earle (founder of Mission Blue, a non-profit organization) introduced the concept of Hope Spot in 2009.

Hope Spots can be Marine Protected Areas(MPA) that need attention or new sites. 

Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep islands -  The two groups of islands are the first places in India to have been added in the list of global hope spots.

This recognition was given by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Mission Blue, an organization involved in the study of oceans.

There are 76 Hope Spots worldwide.
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Permafrost is any ground that remains completely frozen—32°F (0°C) or colder—for at least two years straight. These permanently frozen grounds are most common in regions with high mountains and in Earth’s higher latitudes—near the North and South Poles. Permafrost is made of a combination of soil, rocks and sand that are held together by ice. The soil and ice in permafrost stay frozen all year long.
Near the surface, permafrost soils also contain large quantities of organic carbon—a material leftover from dead plants that couldn’t decompose, or rot away, due to the cold. Lower permafrost layers contain soils made mostly of minerals.

Thermoelectric plant at Norilsk, 3,000 km northeast of Moscow, is built entirely on permafrost, whose weakening over the years due to climate change caused the pillars supporting a fuel tank at the plant to sink, leading to loss of containment

Gochi, Thinker

Natuna Islands of Indonesia– an archipelago at the southern reaches of the South China sea – more than 60 Chinese ships trespassed in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

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Galwan river, runs 80 km westwards from its origins in Karakoram range through Aksai Chin and east Ladakh to join the Shyok river, a significant tributary of the Indus, is deemed to be of strategic significance in this region, with simmering border tensions between India and China. The valley was also a flashpoint during the 1962 India-China war.

It is named after Ghulam Rassul Galwan, a hardy Ladakhi adventurer and explorer who assisted many famed European explorers at the turn of the 19th century. 

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India joined the league of leading economies including USA, UK, EU, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore to launch the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI or Gee-Pay). GPAI is an international and multi-stakeholder initiative to guide the responsible development and use of AI, grounded in human rights, inclusion, diversity, innovation, and economic growth.
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Fixation of Minimum Support Price for the Minor Forest Produce is based on the suggestions/ input received from TRIFED & State and declaration of MSP for MFP is done by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
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The Northern Limit of Monsoon (NLM) is the northernmost boundary of India up to which Monsoon rains have advanced on any given day.

NLM is directly related to the onset and advance of Monsoon. The term NLM starts flowing right from the onset to the withdrawal of Monsoon.
GaryVee, Thinker
@upsc2020  Bhai Aap ki akele contribute kar rahe ho.Kaafi mahnati ho aap. Ab thoda mein bhi contribute karta hun.

upsc2020, Thinker
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