President unveils life size portrait of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Parliament
• President Ram Nath Kovind on February 12, 2019 unveiled the life size portrait of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at the Central Hall of Parliament.
• Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union Ministers and leaders of various parties were present during the event.
• The former Prime Minister provided crucial leadership in challenging situations. The 1998 nuclear test in Pokhran and the 1999 Kargil war are examples of his firm decisions taken in the interest of the nation.
I&B Ministry organises first annual conference of Media Units
• The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry will organise the first annual conference of Media Units in New Delhi on February 13, 2019.
• The conference aims to give a unique platform to the officers of the Indian Information Service working in different Media Units to converge at an All-India level.
• The conference will involve discussions and deliberations upon the emerging areas of the evolving communication paradigm.
• It will be chaired by Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore.
• Through the Conference, the Ministry aims to strengthen synergy between the Media Units in order to ensure last mile delivery.
US cargo spacecraft Cygnus released from International Space Station
• The US cargo spacecraft Cygnus was released from the International Space Station (ISS) on February 8, 2019.
• The cargo spacecraft was successfully released at 4:16 GMT. The operation was controlled by US astronaut Anne McClain and her Canadian colleague David Saint-Jacques.
• It will now perform a 17-day nanosatellite deployment mission and after that, on February 25, will burn over the Pacific Ocean while entering the atmosphere.
• Cygnus, belonging to American aerospace company, Northrop Grumman, was launched on November 17, 2018, on an Antares 230 rocket from Virginia and arrived at the station on November 19 for the company’s 10th NASA-contracted commercial resupply mission to the station.
Earth may be experiencing warmest decade on record
• The decade from 2014 to 2023 could end up being the warmest in over 150 years of records.
• The figures released by the UK Met Office are based on data from a number of sources including the latest publication of provisional figures for 2018. The records for annual global average temperature extend back to 1850.
• The global average temperature between now and 2023 is predicted to remain high. For the next five years, it will be one degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
• Averaged over the five-year period 2019-2023, forecast patterns suggest enhanced warming is likely over much of the globe, especially over land and at high northern latitudes, particularly the Arctic region.
• 2018 is cited to be the fourth warmest year on record globally. It follows 2015, 2016 and 2017, which are the three warmest years in the 169-year record. The effects of climate change are not limited to surface temperature.
Abu Dhabi temple's foundation stones to be laid soon
• The Shilanyas ceremony of the Hindu temple to be built in Abu Dhabi is scheduled on the April 20, 2019.
• Mahant Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, will be making his first official visit to the UAE from April 18 to 29.
• The Shilanyas ceremony is a sacred Hindu ritual wherein the first foundation stones are sanctified and fixed in the ground as the base of the Mandir. Then the Mandir's foundations will be made on these sacred stones.
• In February 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had witnessed the Bhumipujan of the land where the historic Mandir is to be constructed in Abu Dhabi.
• The temple complex is going to be a special place which has been designed to be an architectural ode to the value of human harmony as espoused by India and the UAE.
Heated tobacco devices equally harmful as e-cigarettes, smoking: Study
• The new heated tobacco devices, marketed as a safer substitute for cigarettes, cause the same damage to human lung cells as vaping and traditional smoking, as per a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.
• The study, published in ERJ Open Research, suggests that the device, which heats solid tobacco instead of an e-liquid, is no less toxic to the cells than ordinary cigarette smoke.
• The latest addition in this emerging trend is the planned and vigorous introduction of heated tobacco devices. They are commonly called the next generation or heat-not-burn products.
• Researchers tested the effects of all three nicotine sources on two types of cells taken from the human airways: epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.
• In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defence to any foreign particles entering the airway while smooth muscle cells maintain the structure of the airway. However, smoking can lead to difficulty in breathing primarily by hampering the normal functions of these cells.
Consuming walnuts may lower prevalence of depression: Scientists
• Scientists have found out that consuming walnuts may lower the prevalence and frequency of depression and improve concentration levels.
• Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles in the United States found that depression scores were 26 per cent lower for walnut consumers and eight per cent lower for consumers of other nuts, compared to those who did not eat nuts at all.
• The study, published in the journal Nutrients, found that walnut consumption was more closely associated with higher energy levels and better concentration, compared to other nuts.
• Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which draws from a large sampling of the US population.
• According to the findings, walnut consumers were more likely to have greater interest in activities, higher energy levels, less hopelessness, better concentration and greater optimism.