(GS-III: Awareness in space)
Recently, an international team of researchers made the first direct detection of dark energy.
They noticed certain unexpected results in the XENON1T experiment and write that dark energy may be responsible for it.
What is Dark Energy?
More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It makes up about 68% of the universe.
Dark Energy is a hypothetical form of energy that exerts a negative, repulsive pressure, behaving like the opposite of gravity.
It is causing the rate of expansion of our universe to accelerate over time, rather than to slow down. That’s contrary to what one might expect from a universe that began in a Big Bang.
How is dark energy different from dark matter?
Everything we see – the planets, moons, massive galaxies – makes up less than 5% of the universe. About 27% is dark matter and 68% is dark energy.
While dark matter attracts and holds galaxies together, dark energy repels and causes the expansion of our universe.
The existence of dark matter was suggested as early as the 1920s, while dark energy wasn’t discovered until 1998.
About the XENON1T experiment:
It is the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment and was operated deep underground at the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso in Italy.
It uses the dual-phase (liquid/gas) xenon technique and is located underground at the Laboratory Nazionali del Gran Sasso of INFN, Italy.
The theory of general relativity:
The leading theory, however, considers dark energy a property of space. Albert Einstein was the first to understand that space was not simply empty. He also understood that more space could continue to come into existence. In his theory of general relativity, Einstein included a cosmological constant to account for the stationary universe scientists thought existed.
After Hubble announced the expanding universe, Einstein called his constant his “biggest blunder.”
But Einstein’s blunder may be the best fit for dark energy. Predicting that empty space can have its own energy, the constant indicates that as more space emerges, more energy would be added to the universe, increasing its expansion.
Competition Commission of India and Cartelisation
(GS-II: Statutory organizations)
Last week, the Competition Commission of India found that three beer companies had colluded to fix beer prices for a full decade — between 2009 and 2018.
As a result, the CCI slapped a penalty of Rs 873 crore on the companies for cartelisation in the sale and supply of beer in 10 states and Union Territories.
What is a cartel?
According to CCI, a “Cartel includes an association of producers, sellers, distributors, traders or service providers who, by agreement amongst themselves, limit, control or attempt to control the production, distribution, sale or price of, or, trade in goods or provision of services”.
The three common components of a cartel are:
Features of a cartel:
The agreement that forms a cartel need not be formal or written.
Cartels almost invariably involve secret conspiracies.
Here, competitors refers to companies at the same level of the economy (manufacturers, distributors, or retailers) in direct competition with each other to sell goods or provide services.
What do these cartels do?
In simple terms, “participants in hard-core cartels agree to insulate themselves from the rigours of a competitive marketplace, substituting cooperation for competition”.
Challenges posed by cartels:
Hurt not only the consumers but also, indirectly, undermine overall economic efficiency and innovations.
By artificially holding back the supply or raising prices in a coordinated manner, companies either force some consumers out of the market by making the commodity (say, beer) more scarce or by earning profits that free competition would not have allowed.
A cartel shelters its members from full exposure to market forces, reducing pressures on them to control costs and to innovate.
Why do companies resort to Cartelisation?
The companies blamed government rules, which require them to seek approvals from state authorities for any price revisions, as the main reason for forming a cartel.
About the Competition Commission Of India:
The Competition Commission of India (CCI) was established under the Competition Act, 2002 for the administration, implementation and enforcement of the Act, and was duly constituted in March 2009. Chairman and members are appointed by the central government.
Functions of the commission:
It is the duty of the Commission to eliminate practices having adverse effects on competition, promote and sustain competition, protect the interests of consumers and ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
The Commission is also required to give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
The Competition Act:
The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 (MRTP Act) was repealed and replaced by the Competition Act, 2002, on the recommendations of the Raghavan committee.
The Competition Act, 2002, as amended by the Competition (Amendment) Act, 2007, prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and M&A), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
(GS-II: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)
Recently, the Central government informed the Delhi High Court that the PM CARES Fund is “not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India”.
The Centre’s affidavit came in response to a petition filed before the high court seeking to declare PM CARES as a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
What has the government said?
Irrespective of whether the trust is a “State” or other authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India and or whether it is a ‘public authority’ within the meaning of section 2[h] of Right to Information Act, Section 8 in general and that of provisions contained in sub section [e] and [j], in particular, of the Right to Information Act, it is not permissible to disclose third party information.
And, to ensure transparency, the audited report is put on the official website of the trust along with the details of utilisation of funds received by the trust.
The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund was set up to accept donations and provide relief during the Covid-19 pandemic, and other similar emergencies.
PM-CARES was set up as a public charitable trust with the trust deed registered on March 27, 2020.
It can avail donations from the foreign contribution and donations to fund can also avail 100% tax exemption.
PM-CARES is different from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
Who administers the fund?
Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, Government of India are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc)
Cyclone ‘Gulab’ is likely to hit east coast of India. It is formed in the Bay of Bengal Region.
The name was given by?
Gulab was suggested by Pakistan.
How are cyclones formed?
Cyclones are formed over the oceanic water in the tropical region.
In this region, the sunlight is highest which results in warming of land and water surface. Due to warming of the surface, the warm moist air over the ocean rises upwards following which cool air rushes in to fill the void, they too get warm and rise — the cycle continues.
But what creates the spin?
Wind always blows from high pressure to low pressure areas. High pressure areas are created in the cold region while low is created in the warm regions. Polar regions are high pressure areas as the amount of sunlight here is less than the tropical region. So, wind blows from polar regions to tropical regions.
Then comes the Earth’s movement, which is west to east. The Earth’s rotation on its axis causes deflection of the wind (in the tropical region as the speed of spinning of Earth is higher compared to polar sides due to its spherical shape — blowing from both the polar regions. Wind coming from the Arctic is deflected to the right while Antarctic wind deflects to the left side.
So, wind is already blowing in a direction. But when it reaches the warmer place, cool air starts getting attracted to the centre to fill the gap. So while moving to the centre, cool air keeps getting deflected resulting in circulation of wind movement — this process continues until the cyclone hits the land.
What happens when a cyclone hits the land?
Cyclone dissipates when it hits the land as the warm water that rises and creates space for cool water is no longer available on land. Also, the moist air that rises up forms clouds leading to rains that accompany gusting winds during cyclones.