Science and Techology Current Affairs - 2020

India hosts world’s oldest algae fossil

Indian Scientists have uncovered a pair of 1.6 billion-year-old fossils that appear to contain red algae. It may be the oldest plant-like life discovered on Earth.

Until now, the oldest known red algae was 1.2 billion years old. The discovery was published in the journal PLOS Biology.

Key Facts
  • The material structurally resembles red algae was found in Chitrakoot region in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
  • It was embedded in fossil mats of cyanobacteria inside a 1.6 billion-year-old phosphorite (a kind of rock).
  • Scientists had used x-rays to observe regularly recurring platelets in each cell, which they believe are parts of chloroplasts (organelles within plant cells where photosynthesis takes place).
  • Significance of discovery: Scientists often debate the question of when complex life began on Earth. It is generally believed that that large multicellular organisms became common about 600 million years ago. This discovery could lead scientists to rewrite the tree of life.

Supercomputer Param Kanchenjunga unveiled at NIT Sikkim

Supercomputer Param Kanchenjunga was unveiled at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Sikkim. It has been named after Kangchenjunga mountain (8,586 m), the third highest mountain in the world which lies partly in Nepal and partly in Sikkim.

It was formally unveiled by Sikkim Governor Shrinvas Patil at the NIT Sikkim campus at Ravangla in South Sikkim District.

It is said that it most powerful and fastest supercomputer among all the 31 NITs and Sikkim NIT has secured a rare distinction of having such a supercomputer.

Param Kanchenjunga has been jointly developed by Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing ‘C-DAC’ and the NIT Sikkim at a cost of three crore rupees.

The supercomputer is expected to help achieve excellence in research and engineering education in the north-east region.

Supercomputer: It is a computer that can do complete tasks faster than any other computer of its generation. It has high speed and memory and is usually thousands of times faster than ordinary personal computers.