Table of Contents
- How semiconductors became the flashpoint in the US-China rivalry
Facts for Prelims
- Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR)
- Naegleria fowleri
- Gravity hole
How semiconductors became the flashpoint in the US-China rivalry
The global ‘chip war’ between China and the West revolves around the critical importance of semiconductors in modern technology. Recent restrictions on exports and geopolitical tensions have heightened the conflict.
Semiconductors: The New Oil:
- Semiconductors, made from silicon, are essential components used in almost all electronic devices.
- China and the West vie for control of semiconductor manufacturing and supply chains due to their significant economic and strategic value.
How Did Semiconductors Become a Flashpoint?
- The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the world’s reliance on semiconductors as supply chains were disrupted.
- The US-China trade and technological conflict further intensified tensions.
- Dependency on Taiwan, the leading semiconductor manufacturer, raised concerns about supply chain vulnerabilities.
Geopolitical Interests and Concerns:
- China’s aim to become a world-class military relies heavily on advanced microchips.
- The US worries about China’s advancement in data centers and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
- Washington imposed restrictions and increased investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
Taiwan’s Rise as a Semiconductor Leader:
- The US offshored manufacturing to Taiwan in the 1990s to regain competitiveness.
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) emerged as a global leader, producing advanced processor chips.
- The Netherlands-based ASML is a key player in advanced lithography tools for semiconductor manufacturing.
Current Status of the Chip War:
- China’s recent export restrictions on germanium and gallium serve as a warning and retaliatory measure.
- The conflict may escalate with more tit-for-tat restrictions on semiconductor access and technology.
- Taiwan’s future hangs in the balance, with efforts to diversify trade and deepen ties with the US and Western nations.
The ‘chip war’ between China and the West highlights the geopolitical significance of semiconductors. Tensions over supply chains, advanced technology, and Taiwan’s status could have far-reaching global consequences.
Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR)
With a view to augmenting the local fish wealth, the Forest department is launching a project to plant chosen varieties of trees by the lakeside at the Periyar Tiger Reserve (PTR).
- Situated in the Western Ghats of Kerala.
- Declared a Tiger Reserve in 1978.
- Named after the River Periyar that originates within the reserve.
- Drained by two main rivers, Pamba and Periyar.
- Home to various tribal communities, including Mannans and Palians.
- Characterized by hilly and undulating landscapes.
- Maximum altitude reaches 2016 meters.
- Encompasses tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, and moist deciduous forests.
- Boasts a diverse range of flora.
- More than 171 species of grasses.
- Prominent flora includes teak, mangoes, rosewood, jamun, jacarandas, terminalias, tamarind, royal ponciana, and bamboo.
- Abundance of wildlife species.
- Elephants, Wild Pigs, Sambar, Gaur, Mouse Deer, Dole or Barking Deer, Indian Wild Dog, and Tigers roam the reserve.
- Four primate species reside in PTR, including the rare lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri Langur, Gee’s Golden Langur, Common Langur, and Bonnet Macaque.
- Believed to be a habitat for the elusive Nilgiri Tahr.
Recently, a 15-year-old boy in Kerala recently died due to a rare infection caused by Naegleria fowleri, or “brain-eating amoeba”.
- Naegleria fowleri is a single-celled organism (amoeba) found in warm freshwater and soil.
- It is commonly known as the “brain-eating amoeba.”
Habitat and Characteristics:
- Thrives in warm freshwater environments like lakes, rivers, and hot springs.
- Prefers high temperatures up to 115°F (46°C) and can survive briefly at even higher temperatures.
- Enters the body through the nose when contaminated water is inhaled.
- Commonly occurs during activities like swimming, diving, or immersing the head in fresh water.
- Travels from the nose to the brain, causing a severe infection called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM).
- PAM is a life-threatening infection of the central nervous system.
- Fatality rate exceeds 97%, even with treatment.
- The infection destroys brain tissue, leading to brain swelling and death.
Modes of Transmission:
- Infection can also occur when using contaminated tap water for religious nasal cleansing or sinus rinsing.
- No evidence suggests transmission through water vapor or aerosol droplets.
- Drinking contaminated water does not lead to Naegleria fowleri infection.
- The amoeba does not spread from person to person or cause symptoms in other forms of contact.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a combination of drugs for treatment, including amphotericin B, azithromycin, fluconazole, rifampin, miltefosine, and dexamethasone.
- These drugs have been used to treat surviving patients.
According to researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Ocean harbours a colossal and enigmatic phenomenon known as the “Gravity Hole,” may be the remnants of an ancient sea that vanished millions of years ago.
- A gravity hole refers to a region in the ocean where gravity has a weaker effect compared to normal.
- It occurs at the ocean’s bottom due to gravitational anomalies.
- Gravitational anomalies are caused by variations in Earth’s gravitational pull due to differences in the density of materials in the Earth’s crust.
Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL):
- The Indian Ocean is home to a significant gravitational anomaly called the Indian Ocean Geoid Low (IOGL).
- Discovered in 1948 by Dutch geophysicist Felix Andries Vening Meinesz during a ship-based gravity survey.
- It spans a vast area of over three million sq. km in the Indian Ocean, around 1,200 km southwest of India’s southern tip.
- Believed to have formed approximately 20 million years ago.
IOGL and the Tethys Ocean:
- Researchers suggest that the IOGL consists of slabs from the Tethys Ocean, an ancient sea that submerged into the Earth’s depths millions of years ago.
- The Tethys Ocean once separated the supercontinents of Gondwana and Laurasia.
- Its subduction may have disrupted the African Large Low Shear Velocity province