Large Hadron Collider restarts

The world’s biggest particle smasher, Large Hadron Collider has restarted experiments with nearly doubled energy levels in a key breakthrough.

  • The tests at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) came after a sweeping two-year revamp of the collider and will help scientists to study fundamental particles, the building blocks of all matter, and the forces that control them.
  • During its next run, researchers will look for evidence of new physics and probe supersymmetry — a theoretical concept informally dubbed Susy; seek explanations for enigmatic dark matter and look for signs of extra dimensions.

Large Hadron Collider:

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.

  • Built by: European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
  • Aim: to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics, and particularly prove or disprove the existence of the theorized Higgs boson and of the large family of new particles predicted by supersymmetric theories.
  • The LHC consists of a 27-kilometre ring of superconducting magnets with a number of accelerating structures to boost the energy of the particles along the way.

Details:

  • Inside the accelerator, two high-energy particle beams travel at close to the speed of light before they are made to collide.
  • The beams travel in opposite directions in separate beam pipes – two tubes kept at ultrahigh vacuum. They are guided around the accelerator ring by a strong magnetic field maintained by superconducting electromagnets.
  • The electromagnets are built from coils of special electric cable that operates in a superconducting state, efficiently conducting electricity without resistance or loss of energy. This requires chilling the magnets to ‑3°C – a temperature colder than outer space. For this reason, much of the accelerator is connected to a distribution system of liquid helium, which cools the magnets, as well as to other supply services.
  • Just prior to collision, another type of magnet is used to “squeeze” the particles closer together to increase the chances of collisions. The particles are so tiny that the task of making them collide is akin to firing two needles 10 kilometres apart with such precision that they meet halfway.

The LHC tunnel is located 100 metres underground, in the region between the Geneva International Airport and the nearby Jura mountains.

Sources: The Hindu, http://home.web.cern.ch/, Wiki.

India signs pact on automatic exchange of tax information

India has finally signed the Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement (MCAA) on Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information. The declaration to comply with the provisions of the agreement was signed in Paris.

  • 54 countries have already joined the MCAA.
  • India is among six countries that joined this pact in Paris, taking the number to 60.
  • The target is to reach 94 countries by 2017.

Details:

  • The new system, also known as the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) on Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), is very wide in scope and obliges the treaty partners to exchange a wide range of financial information, including that about the ultimate controlling persons and beneficial owners of entities.
  • To be able to comply with the new system, amendments have been made to section 285BA of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Necessary rules and guidelines are being formulated in consultation with financial institutions.
  • Previously, information was exchanged between countries on the basis of specific requests relating to cases of tax evasion and other financial crimes.
  • AEOI, when fully implemented, sets up a system wherein bulk taxpayer information will periodically be sent by the source country of income to the country of residence of the taxpayer.

Benefits of the Agreement:

  • This would be the key to prevent international tax evasion and avoidance and would be instrumental in getting information about assets of Indians held abroad including through entities in which Indians are beneficial owners.
  • This will help the Government to curb tax evasion and deal with the problem of black money.

Sources: PIB, BS.

India scores a mixed bag

According to a new study that ranks countries on how the rule of law is experienced by citizens, India figures in the top 50 countries in the world for an effective criminal justice system.

  • The study is named “The Rule of Law Index 2015” and is released by the U.S.-based World Justice project. It analysed 102 countries worldwide using a survey of over a 1,000 respondents from three big cities, along with local legal experts, in each country.
  • It measures how the rule of law is experienced in practical, everyday situations using 47 indicators across eight categories — constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.

Details of the Study:

  • According to the Index, India’s overall rule of law performance places it in the third position out of six countries in the South Asian region, 10th out of 25 among lower middle income countries, and 59th out of 102 countries worldwide.
  • The top overall performer in Index 2015 was Denmark while in the South Asia region, the top performer was Nepal.
  • India’s performance for criminal justice places it at 44 rank globally, Number 1 in South Asia and number 4 among lower middle income countries.
  • The ranking in civil justice for India is 88 globally, third in South Asia and 19th among lower middle income countries.
  • India ranks high in the category of Open Government, placing it 37th globally and at three among lower middle income countries.
  • In the category of order and security, India is placed at 90 worldwide, fourth in South Asia and 20 among lower middle income countries.

Sources: The Hindu.

India tops world hunger list with 194 million people

According to United Nations annual hunger report, India is home to the highest number of hungry people in the world, at 194 million, surpassing China. The Report is titled ‘The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015.’

The Report says:

  • At the global level, the corresponding figure dropped to 795 million in 2014-15, from 1 billion in 1990-92, with East Asia led by China accounting for most of the reductions.
  • India too saw a reduction between 1990 and 2015. In 1990-92, those who were starved of food in India numbered 210.1 million, which came down to 194.6 million in 2014-15.
  • India has made great strides in reducing the proportion of food insecure persons in the overall population, but according to FAO, it still has over 194 million hungry persons. India’s numerous social programmes are expected to continue to fight hunger and poverty.
  • However, China stood out as the reduction in the number of hungry people was much higher than in India, which came down to 133.8 million in 2014-15 from 289 million in 1990-92.
  • A majority — 72 out of 129 — of the countries monitored by FAO have achieved the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment by 2015, with developing regions as a whole missing the target by a small margin.

Talking of noticeable progress, the report made a specific mention of Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast and central Asia as well as some parts of Africa. The overall analysis suggested that inclusive economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, along with political stability, can eradicate hunger.

Sources: The Hindu.

Republican Nebraska bans death penalty

Nebraska has become the first ‘red State’ since 1973 to abolish the death penalty after state legislators banded together to overrule a veto by Governor Pete Ricketts.

  • With this decision, Nebraska becomes the 19th US state to abolish capital punishment.
  • Capital Punishment is still legal in 31 states, but there are about 10 in which a moratorium on executions has been imposed.

nebraska location

The abolition of capital punishment in Nebraska is especially significant given that it is the first conservative state to do so in more than 40 years and it comes at a moment in which the appropriateness of the death penalty is being increasingly questioned.

Nebraska lies in both the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. Its largest city is Omaha, which is on the Missouri River. The state has more underground water reserves than any other state in the continental U.S.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

Four Indians among world’s 100 most powerful women

According to the Forbes’ 12th annual list, four Indians are among the world’s 100 most powerful women who are “transforming the world”.

  • The list is topped by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The top 10 include:

  1. German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  2. S. presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
  3. Philanthriopist Melinda Gates. (wife of bill gates)
  4. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
  5. GM CEO Mary Barra.
  6. IMF Chief Christine Lagarde.
  7. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
  8. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
  9. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
  10. S. First Lady Michelle Obama.

Indians in the list:

  • SBI Chief Arundhati Bhattacharya.

  • ICICI bank head Chanda Kochhar.

  • Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

https://i2.wp.com/economictimes.indiatimes.com/thumb/msid-25821383,width-640,resizemode-4/kiran-mazumdar-shaw-biocon.jpg

  • HT Media Chair Shobhana Bhartia.

https://i2.wp.com/images.idiva.com/media/photogallery/2012/Apr/women_billionaires_shobhana_600x450.jpg

Merkel has made it to the list 10 times over the past 12 years — nine times as No 1.

Sources: The Hindu.

John Nash

John Nash, the Princeton University mathematician and Nobel laureate whose towering intellect and descent into paranoid schizophrenia formed the basis of the Academy Award-winning movie A Beautiful Mind,” has died. He was 86.

john nashContributions:

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in economics to Nash, John Harsanyi of the University of California-Berkeley and Reinhard Selten of the University of Bonn in Germany for their work in game theory, which seeks to understand how people, governments and companies cooperate and compete.

Nash was honoured for his early insights, still widely used in economics, into how rivals shift or maintain strategies and allegiances. The Nash Equilibrium describes the moment when all parties are pursuing their best-case scenario and wouldn’t change course even if a rival does. It has been widely applied to matters including military face-offs, industrial price wars and labour negotiations.

Sources: The Hindu, BS.