Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (5th to 12th November, 2018)

us exempts india - chabhar port

 

Weekly Current Affairs Prelims (5th to 12th November, 2018)

 

Topic: Global Cooling Innovation Summit

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

 global cooling summit

Why in news?

Two-day Global Cooling Innovation Summit would be inaugurated by Union Science & Technology Minister in New Delhi on 12th November 2018.

 

More about on news:

  • The Summit is a first-of-its-kind solutions-focused event that will bring together leaders from around the world to explore concrete means and pathways to address the climate threat that comes from the growing demand from room air conditioners.
  • The event is jointly organized by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, along with Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance for An Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.
  • The summit will also see the launching of Global Cooling Prize— Mission Innovation challenge that aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard.
  • The coalition will drive and support incubation, commercialization, and ultimately mass adoption of the breakthrough technology, starting in India and expanding to other countries around the world.
  • A winning technology could prevent up to 100 gigatons (GT) of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2050, and put the world on a pathway to mitigate up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100.
  • There are currently 1.2 billion room air conditioning units in service around the world.
  • It is estimated that the number of units will increase to at least 4.5 billion by 2050.
  • India alone will see over 1 billion air conditioning deployed in the market by 2050. The energy consumption associated with comfort cooling represents one of the largest end-use risks to the climate, putting the most vulnerable populations at risk.

 

Global Cooling Prize:

Global Cooling Prize is a competition with global reach and participation to achieve dramatic breakthroughs in cooling technologies.

global cooling prize

Objectives:

  • it aims to spur development of a residential cooling solution that has at least five times (5x) less climate impact than today’s standard
  • The objective of this competition would be to develop a cooling technology that requires radically less energy to operate, utilizes refrigerants with no ozone depletion potential and with low global warming potential, and has the potential to be cost-effective at scale.

 

More about on prize:

  • This awards programme will call world-wide attention to the most promising ideas across the globe.
  • This award will celebrate successes and facilitate endeavours of innovators through providing recognition, encouragement and support.
  • The award will also be able to build a collaborative platform that can utilize the potential of researchers so that public research contributes towards fostering innovation and create impact which is of social and economic good.
  • This recognition will not only recognize the eminent contributions to clean energy research development and demonstration, but would also motivate younger researchers to focus on innovations needed in clean energy domain to make world a better place to live.

 

Sample Question:

Q) The Global Cooling Innovation Summit 2018, is jointly organized by

  1. Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
  2. Rocky Mountain Institute.
  3. Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE).
  4. Conservation X Labs and CEPT University.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 1, 2 and 3 only

c) 1, 2 and 4 only

d) All of the above

Answer: d) all of the above

 


 

Topic: Cabinet apprised of India joining as Member of Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme

Topic in Syllabus: Economy

 

Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme

Why in news?

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister has been apprised of India joining as Member of Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme (AMF TCP) under International Energy Agency (IEA) on 9thMay, 2018.

 

More about on news:

  • AMF TCP works under the framework of International Energy Agency (IEA) to which India has “Association” status since 30thMarch, 2017.
  • The primary goal of joining AMF TCP by Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG) is to facilitate the market introduction of Advanced motor fuels/ Alternate fuels with an aim to bring down emissions and achieve higher fuel efficiency in transport sector.
  • AMF TCP also provides an opportunity for fuel analysis, identifying new/ alternate fuels for deployment in transport sector and allied R&D activities for reduction in emissions in fuel intensive sectors.

 

Benefits:

  • The benefits of participation in AMF TCP are shared costs and pooled technical resources.
  • The duplication of efforts is avoided and national Research and Development capabilities are strengthened.
  • There is an information exchange about best practices, network of researchers and linking research with practical implementation.
  • After becoming member, India will initiate R&D in other areas of its interest in advanced biofuels and other motor fuels in view of their crucial role in substituting fossil fuel imports.

national policy on biofuels 2018

Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme (AMF TCP):

  • AMF TCP is an international platform for co-operation among countries to promote cleaner and more energy efficient fuels & vehicle technologies.
  • The activities of AMF TCP relate to R&D, deployment and dissemination of Advanced Motor Fuels and looks upon the transport fuel issues in a systemic way taking into account the production, distribution and end use related aspects.
  • The primary goal of the AMF TCP is to facilitate the market introduction of advanced motor fuels and related vehicle technologies.
  • This TCP provides an effective platform for fuel analyses and reporting of GHG emissions tested and measured in engines.
  • Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Government of India has joined AMF TCP as its 16th member on 9th May, 2018.
  • The other member Countries of AMF TCP are USA, China, Japan, Canada, Chile, Israel, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Republic of Korea, Switzerland and Thailand.

 

ACTIVITIES:

  • Methane emissions control
  • Sustainable bus systems
  • Alcohol fuels: unregulated pollutants
  • Real driving emissions and fuel consumption
  • Methanol as motor fuel
  • Heavy duty vehicle evaluation

 

National Policy on Biofuels – 2018

  • The Government has unveiled a new National Biofuel Policy (2018) that incentivises biofuel generation through multiple measures.
  • Major steps include encouragement of biofuel generation from excess crop production and setting apart Rs 5000 crores viability gap funding to establish second generation ethanol refineries. For providing specific fiscal incentives, the policy categorises biofuels into several groups:1G (First Generation), 2G, 3G, and bio-CNG.
  • The Policy widens the range of feedstocks that can be used for producing ethanol and allows the use of damaged grains that is unusable for food purposes for ethanol production.
  • As per the policy, besides sugar molasses, beet, sorghum, corn, damaged grains etc. can be used for ethanol production. Following are the main features of the National Policy on Biofuels 2018.

 

Main features of the Policy:

  • Categorization of Biofuels: Biofuels will be categorised into ‘Basic Biofuels’ viz. First Generation (1G) bioethanol &biodiesel and ‘Advanced Biofuels’ – Second Generation (2G) ethanol, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) to drop-in fuels, Third Generation (3G) biofuels, bio-CNG etc. for providing appropriate financial and fiscal incentives under each category.
  • Expansion of the scope of raw materials for ethanol production: The Policy expands the type of bio-raw materials for ethanol production by including Sugarcane Juice, Sugar containing materials like Sugar Beet, Sweet Sorghum, Starch containing materials like Corn, Cassava, Damaged food grains like wheat, broken rice, Rotten Potatoes etc. which are unusable for human consumption.
  • Surplus food grains can be used for ethanol production: During excess production, crop prices fall. Here, the Policy allows use of surplus food grains for production of ethanol with the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee.
  • Viability Gap Funding: For the generation of Advanced Biofuels, the Policy proposes a viability gap funding scheme for 2G ethanol Bio refineries with Rs.5000 crore in 6 years. In addition to this, additional tax incentives, higher purchase price as compared to 1G biofuels will be given for 2G ethanol generation.
  • Supply chain for biodiesel production: The Policy encourages setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production from non-edible oilseeds, Used Cooking Oil, short gestation crops etc.

 

Sample Question:

Q) With respect to Advanced Motor Fuels Technology Collaboration Programme (AMF TCP) and National Policy on Biofuels 2018, consider the following stamens

  1. The primary goal of the AMF TCP is to facilitate the market introduction of advanced motor fuels and related vehicle technologies.
  2. This TCP provides an effective platform for fuel analyses and reporting of GHG emissions tested and measured in engines.
  3. As per National Policy on Biofuels 2018 besides sugar molasses, beet, sorghum, corn, damaged grains etc. can be used for ethanol production.

Choose the correct answer from the above

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 3 only

c) 1 and 3 only

d) All of the above

Answer: d) all of the above

 


 

Topic: US exempts India from certain sanctions for Chabahar port development

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

 

us exempts india - chabhar port

 

Why in news?

The United States has exempted India from the imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar port in Iran, along with the construction of the railway line connecting it with Afghanistan.

 

More about on news:

  • The decision by the Trump administration, which a day earlier imposed the toughest ever sanctions on Iran and is very restrictive in giving exemptions, is a seen as a recognition by Washington of India’s major role in the development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the reconstruction of war-torn Afghanistan.
  • After extensive consideration, the Secretary (of State) has provided for an exception from imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, with respect to the development of Chabahar Port, construction of an associated railway and for shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as the country’s continued imports of Iranian petroleum products.
  • India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey — were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil as they showed “significant reduction” in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country.
  • This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief.
  • In May 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan inked a pact which entailed establishment of Transit and Transport Corridor among the three countries using Chabahar Port as one of the regional hubs for sea transportation in Iran, besides multi-modal transport of goods and passengers across the three nations.

 

Benefits:

  • The port in the Sistan-Balochistan province on the energy-rich nation’s southern coast is easily accessible from India’s western coast and is increasingly seen as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, which is being developed with Chinese investment and is located at distance of around 80 kms from Chabahar.
  • The Chabahar Port is considered a gateway to golden opportunities for trade by India, Iran and Afghanistan with central Asian countries besides ramping up trade among the three countries after Pakistan denied transit access to India.
  • Pompeo’s decision to give India exemption from imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the port is driven by the South Asian strategy, which was announced by President Donald Trump in August. It states that India has a major role in bringing peace and development in Afghanistan.

 

india pakistan chabar port

Chabahar port:

  • It is located on the Makran coast, Chabahar in southeastern Iran. Its location lies in the Gulf of Oman.
  • This coast is a relatively underdeveloped free trade and industrial zone, especially when compared to the sprawling port of Bandar Abbas further west.
  • It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.

 

Why this port is of interest to India?

  • India believes the port is critical to its interests and wants to develop it as a counter to Pakistan’s Gwadar port which was built with Chinese assistance
  • The port will allow India to bypass Pakistan to transport goods to Afghanistan and Central Asia using a sea-land route
  • Chabahar Port lies in the Persian Gulf in Iran and will help India in expanding its maritime commerce in the region
  • It also provides opportunities to Indian companies to penetrate and enhance their footprint in the region
  • It is located 76 nautical miles (less than 150km) west of the Pakistani port of Gwadar, being developed by China. This makes it ideal for keeping track of Chinese or Pakistani military activity based out of Gwadar
  • The port will cut transport costs/time for Indian goods by a third
  • From Chabahar, the existing Iranian road network can link up to Zaranj in Afghanistan, about 883 kms from the port. The Zaranj-Delaram road constructed by India in 2009 can give access to Afghanistan’s Garland Highway, setting up road access to four major cities in Afghanistan — Herat, Kandahar, Kabul and Mazar-e-Sharif

 

Sample Question: 

Q) With respect to Chabahar port, consider the following statements

  1. This coast is a relatively underdeveloped free trade and industrial zone, especially when compared to the sprawling port of Bandar Abbas further west.
  2. It is located on the Makran coast.
  3. It is the only Iranian port with direct access to the ocean.

Choose the correct answer from the above statements

a) 2 and 3 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c) 1 and 2 only

d) All of the above

Answer: d) all of the above

 


 

Topic: ASEAN member countries of RCEP offer India concession

Topic in Syllabus: International Affairs

 

asean india

Why in news?

Several Asian member countries of the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have offered India a significant concession on the extent to which it needs to open up its markets, in a bid to encourage it to join the partnership quickly.

 

More about on news:

  • The ASEAN countries are keen to have India as part of the partnership and have made India a concessional offer of opening up only about 83% of its market, as compared to the original 92% that the RCEP agreement stipulated.
  • The RCEP is a proposed trade agreement between the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and their six free trade agreement partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand.
  • The grouping would comprise 25% of global GDP, 30% of global trade, 26% of FDI flows, and 45% of the population.
  • regarding India’s concerns about further opening its market to China and skewing the trade deficit between them further, the RCEP allows for bilateral agreements also to be made so India can perhaps open up to China gradually and not in one go.
  • Opening up its market to China has been India’s main concern about joining RCEP, a sentiment echoed by the Commerce Ministry, NITI Aayog,
  • Ahead of the November 14 RCEP summit, some of the countries led by Singapore, which holds the presidency of the ASEAN this year, have been keen to at least announce an agreement on “substantial outcomes” by December 31.
  • India would make a decision regarding this before the general elections in 2019, even though the RCEP countries have set a December 2018 internal deadline for the “substantial outcomes”.

 

What is RCEP?

  • RCEP is a proposed regional free trade agreement (FTA) comprising of ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Laos and Vietnam) and their 6 FTA partners (India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand).
  • Aim: To strengthen economic linkages and to enhance trade and investment related activities.
  • Coverage Area: trade in goods and services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other issues.

 

Importance of RCEP:

  • The RCEP member countries represent 49% of the world’s population and accounts for 30% of world GDP. It also makes up 29% of world trade and 26% of world FDI inflows. According to estimates if the RCEP is implemented it would bring large income gains to not only Asia but the world economy.
  • RCEP will also reduce the overlapping between Asian FTAs.
  • RCEP will reduce the trade barriers in Asia and the new rules will be consistent with WTO agreements.
  • RCEP will promote easier FDI flows and technology transfers by multinational corporations
  • RCEP and protectionism: With rise of protectionism, RCEP is important for promoting free trade in the region.

 

India and RCEP:

  • Under RCEP negotiations, India has been asked eliminate import duties on 92% of its traded goods with RCEP members.
  • However, India offered to eliminate tariffs on 80% of products with a margin of 6% depending on level of development of the other country. It has also asked for a longer implementation period for China.

 

Significance of RCEP for India:

  • Joining the RCEP is important for India since it is not a part of the other proposed large trade agreements like the trans-pacific partnership (TPP) and transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP). It would enable India to strengthen its trade ties with Australia, China, Japan and South Korea and thus reduce the potential negative impacts of TPP and TTIP on the Indian economy.
  • The rise in protectionism and non- tariff barriers and regulatory measures and the deadlock in WTO negotiations are also important reasons for India to join the RCEP agreement as it can increase market access.
  • RCEP also has the potential to influence India’s strategic and economic status in the Asia-Pacific region and help in fulfilment of India’s Act East Policy
  • RCEP will facilitate Indian companies to access new markets. Further, it will give a boost to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
  • RCEP will particularly boost textiles and pharma industries. It will also facilitate India in removing technical barriers to trade like sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures of these products.

 

Sample Question:

Q) Which of the following statements are correct with respect to RCEP

  1. RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2010 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
  2. RCEP potentially includes more than 3 billion people or 45% of the world’s population, and a combined GDP of about $21.3 trillion, accounting for about 40 percent of world trade.
  3. RCEP aims to strengthen economic linkages and to enhance trade and investment related activities.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a) 1 and 2 only

b) 1 and 3 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) All of the above

Answer: c) 2 and 3 only

 


 

Topic: Nuclear submarine Arihant completes first deterrence patrol mission

Topic in Syllabus : Security Issues

nuclear submarine arihant

Why in news?

Recently  India’s first nuclear armed submarine INS Arihant had successfully completed its first deterrence patrol, heralding India’s entry into an exclusive club of powers with land, air and sea-based nuclear weapons delivery platforms.

 

More about on news:

  • Arihant is now prowling the deep seas carrying ballistic missiles equipped with nuclear warheads.
  • The submarine recently returned from its first deterrence patrol, completing the establishment of the country’s survivable nuclear triad.
  • The success of INS Arihant enhances India’s security needs.
  • INS Arihant will protect the 130 crore Indians from external threats and contribute to the atmosphere of peace in the region.
  • The Arihant propels India into a club so far dominated by the US, France, Britain, China and Russia, demonstrating India’s technological capability to design, build and operate nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines or SSBNs.
  • The last two Arihant-class submarines are expected to be bigger and capable of launching longer range missiles. These boats could be armed with K-4 SLBMs capable of striking targets up to 3,500km away.

 

How long did it take to develop INS Arihant?

  • The submarine was sanctioned using secret funds in the late 1970s by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi after India conducted its first nuclear test.
  • The design and technology of INS Arihant was locked in 1984 when the formal go-ahead was given.
  • Work on the submarine started in 1998. It took the Ship Building Centre (SBC) almost 11 years to construct the country’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.
  • INS Arihant was launched on July 26, 2009 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to mark 10 years since the end of the Kargil War.
  • In August 2013, the submarine’s atomic reactor was activated.
  • In August 2016, Prime Minister Modi inducted the submarine into the Navy.

 

Composition of INS Arihant:

  • INS Arihant is a 6,000-tonne submarine with a length of 110 metres and a breadth of 11 metres.
  • The vessel will be able to carry 12 Sagarika K 15 submarine launched ballistic missiles that have a range of over 700 km.

 

india's nuclear triad

How INS Arihant is different from other submarines?

  • India has been vying to equip its naval forces with nuclear arsenal ever since it successfully conducted Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998.
  • Strategic Strike Nuclear Submarines (SSBNs) are a way forward in this direction. They are different from conventional SSK submarines, which use a diesel-electric engine as their power source, and have to surface daily to get oxygen for fuel combustion.
  • SSBNs are bigger in size and are powered by a nuclear reactor and as a result, they can function submerged for months without having to surface.
  • This feature allows them to travel further and with greater stealth. SSBNs are supposed to be the best guarantor of a second-strike capability in a nuclear exchange.
  • India has said it is committed to not using nuclear weapons first.
  • SSBNs like the INS Arihant are also different from the nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN), as they can carry ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.

 

Ballistic missile

  • A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target.
  • These weapons are only guided during relatively brief periods of flight—most of their trajectory is unpowered, being governed by gravity and air resistance if in the atmosphere.
  • Shorter range ballistic missiles stay within the Earth’s atmosphere, while longer-ranged intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), are launched on a sub-orbital flight trajectory and spend most of their flight out of the atmosphere.

 

 

Sample Question:

Q) With respect to nuclear triad capability of India, consider the following statements

  1. India is third Nation in the world to possess Nuclear Triad.
  2. Indian Navy now has its own nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a) 1 only

b) 2 only

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: Ministry of Food Processing Industries issues guidelines for OPERATION GREENS

Topic in Syllabus: Indian Economy – Agriculture

 

tomato

Why in news?

The Food Processing Ministry recently  issued guidelines for Operation Greens, an initiative announced in the Budget with an outlay of ₹500 crore.

 

More about on news:

  • Operation Greens was announced in the Budget speech of 2018-19 with an outlay of Rs 500 crores to stabilize the supply of Tomato, Onion and Potato (TOP) crops and to ensure availability of TOP crops throughout the country round the year without price volatility.
  • Approving the measures, the Minister said “Price volatility of TOP crops wreaks havoc in the households of this country.

 

The strategy will comprise of a series of measures as decided by the Ministry which include:

Short term Price Stabilisation Measures

NAFED will be the Nodal Agency to implement price stabilisation measures. MoFPI will provide 50% of the subsidy on the following two components:

  • Transportation of Tomato Onion Potato(TOP) Crops from production to storage
  • Hiring of appropriate storage facilities for TOP Crops

 

Long Term Integrated value chain development projects

  • Capacity Building of FPOs & their consortium
  • Quality production
  • Post-harvest processing facilities
  • Agri-Logistics
  • Marketing / Consumption Points
  • Creation and Management of e-platform for demand and supply management of TOP Crops.

 

Operation Greens:

In the budget speech of 2018-19, a new Scheme “Operation Greens” was announced on the line of “Operation Flood”, with an outlay of Rs.500 crore to promote Farmer Producers Organizations, agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management.

operation greens

Major objectives of “Operation Greens” are as under:

  • Enhancing value realisation of TOP farmers by targeted interventions to strengthen TOP production clusters and their FPOs, and linking/connecting them with the market.
  • Price stabilisation for producers and consumers by proper production planning in the TOP clusters and introduction of dual use varieties.
  • Reduction in post-harvest losses by creation of farm gate infrastructure, development of suitable agro-logistics, and creation of appropriate storage capacity linking consumption centres.
  • Increase in food processing capacities and value addition in TOP value chain with firm linkages with production clusters.
  • Setting up of a market intelligence network to collect and collate real time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.

 

Pattern of Assistance

  • The pattern of assistance will comprise of grants-in-aid at the rate of 50% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs. 50 crores per project.
  • However, in case where PIA is/are FPO(s), the grant-in-aid will be at the rate of 70% of the eligible project cost in all areas, subject to maximum Rs. 50 crores per project.
  • Eligible Organisation would include State Agriculture and other Marketing Federations, Farmer Producer Organizations (FPO), cooperatives, companies, Self-help groups, food processors, logistic operators, service providers, supply chain operators, retail and wholesale chains and central and state governments and their entities/organizations will be eligible to participate in the programme and to avail financial assistance.

 

Sample Question:

Q) Consider the following statements with respect Operation Greens

  1. It aims to aid farmers and help control and limit erratic fluctuations in the prices of tomatoes, onions and potatoes, cumin.
  2. It is essentially price fixation scheme that aims to ensure farmers are given the right price for their produce.
  3. It aims to double the income of farmers by the end of 2020.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a) 1 and 3 only

b) 2 only

c) 2 and 3 only

d) All of the above

Answer: b) 2 only

 


 

Topic: World’s largest brain-like supercomputer switched on for first time

Topic in Syllabus: Science and Technology

 

supercomputer

Why in news?

The world’s largest supercomputer designed to work in the same way as the human brain has been switched on for the first time.

 

More about on news:

  • The newly formed million-processor-core Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) machine is capable of completing more than 200 million actions per second, with each of its chips having 100 million transistors.
  • To reach this point it has taken £15million in funding, 20 years in conception and over 10 years in construction, with the initial build starting way back in 2006.

 

Biological neurons:

  • The SpiNNaker machine, designed and built in The University of Manchester in the UK, can model more biological neurons in real time than any other machine on the planet.
  • Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate primarily by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy.
  • Neuromorphic computing uses large scale computer systems containing electronic circuits to mimic these spikes in a machine.

 

SpiNNaker:

  • SpiNNaker is unique because, unlike traditional computers, it does not communicate by sending large amounts of information from point A to B via a standard network.
  • Instead it mimics the massively parallel communication architecture of the brain, sending billions of small amounts of information simultaneously to thousands of different destinations.
  • SpiNNaker completely re-thinks the way conventional computers work. We’ve essentially created a machine that works more like a brain than a traditional computer, which is extremely exciting.
  • The ultimate objective for the project has always been a million cores in a single computer for real time brain modelling applications, and we have now achieved it, which is fantastic.

 

How it works?

  • Researchers eventually aim to model up to a billion biological neurons in real time and are now a step closer. To give an idea of scale, a mouse brain consists of around 100 million neurons and the human brain is 1,000 times bigger than that.
  • One billion neurons is one per cent of the scale of the human brain, which consists of just under 100 billion brain cells, or neurons, which are all highly interconnected via approximately one quadrillion synapses.
  • One of the fundamental uses for the supercomputer is to help neuroscientists better understand how our own brain works. It does this by running extremely large scale real-time simulations which simply aren’t possible on other machines.
  • For example, SpiNNaker has been used to simulate high-level real-time processing in a range of isolated brain networks. This includes an 80,000 neuron model of a segment of the cortex, the outer layer of the brain that receives and processes information from the senses.

 

Applications:

  • It has massive potential for neurological breakthroughs in science such as pharmaceutical testing.
  • It can be used to harness to control robot which can interpret real-time visual information and navigate towards certain objects while ignoring others.

 

Sample Question:

Q) Which of the following statements are correct

  1. Biological neurons are basic brain cells present in the nervous system that communicate primarily by emitting ‘spikes’ of pure electro-chemical energy.
  2. Neuromorphic computing uses large scale computer systems containing electronic circuits to mimic these spikes in a machine.

Choose the correct answer from the codes given below

a) Only 1

b) Only 2

c) Both 1 and 2

d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: c) both 1 and 2