UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Check Detailed Analysis of GS Paper I (S&T Section)

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Check Detailed Analysis of GS Paper I (S&T Section): The UPSC Civil Services Prelims 2020 Exam was held on 4 October. Several questions were asked by the Science and Technology section. In this article, we have provided an analysis of S&T Section questions asked in UPSC CSE Prelims 2020.


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1. With reference to carbon nanotubes, consider the following statements:

1. They can be used as carriers of drugs and antigens in the human body.
2. They can be made into artificial blood capillaries for an injured part of the human body.
3. They can be used in biochemical sensors.
4. Carbon nanotubes are biodegradable.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2, 3, and 4 only
(c) 1, 3, and 4 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Ans. (d)
Explanation: Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are cylindrical molecules that consist of rolled-up sheets of single-layer carbon atoms (graphene). 

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be functionalised with bioactive peptides, proteins, nucleic acids, and drugs. They are also used to deliver their cargos to cells and organs. Therefore, Statement 1 is correct.

As per the research paper, Blood Compatible Carbon Nanotubes-Nano-based Neoproteoglycans, preparation of blood-compatible CNTs that potentially represent the building blocks for nanodevices having vivo applications. Therefore Statement 2 is also correct.

We didn’t find any reference for statement 3 but statement 4 is correct that is CNTs are biodegradable. Several types of microbes including bacteria and fungi have the ability to degrade CNTs, graphene, and their derivatives.
Therefore statements 1, 2, and 4 are definitely correct and as per options given 1, 2, and 4 are not asked so Answer will be (d) that is all are correct.

2. Consider the following activities:

1. Spraying pesticides on a crop field
2. Inspecting the craters of active volcanoes
3. Collecting breath samples from spouting whales for DNA analysis
At the present level of technology, which of the above activities can be successfully carried out by using drones?
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. (d)
Explanation: It was published in the news that Drone spraying and spreading becoming true. Manufacturers are pushing ahead with developments to make drone spraying and spreading practically reality. Therefore Statement 1 is correct.

Drones can capture images of erupting craters. The main factor is the safe accessibility of dangerous terrain. Researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences, known by the German abbreviation GFZ, revealed amazingly detailed data from an active volcano using drones with visual and thermal-imaging cameras. Therefore, Statement 2 is also correct.

Scientists are using drones to sample whale breath and snot. Therefore Statement 3 is also correct.

3.  “The experiment will employ a trio of spacecraft flying in formation in the shape of an equilateral triangle that has sides one million kilometres long, with lasers shining between the craft.” The experiment in question refers to

(a) Voyager-2
(b) New horizons
(c) Lisa Pathfinder
(d) Evolved LISA
Ans. (d)
Explanation: This is a tricky question. As we know that the sides of the equilateral triangle are equal. While seeing options we can ignore (a) and (b) as both the missions are very old. Voyager-2 mission was launched by NASA in 1977 and the New Horizon mission was for pluto by NASA. 

ESA announced in 2016 that LISA Pathfinder demonstrated that the LISA mission is feasible. 

According to NASA, LISA consists of three spacecraft that are separated by millions of miles and trailing tens of millions of miles, more than one hundred times the distance to the Moon, behind the Earth as we orbit the Sun. These three spacecraft relay laser beams back and forth between the different spacecraft and the signals are combined to search for gravitational wave signatures that come from distortions of spacetime. The mission is scheduled to launch in the early 2030s. Therefore option (d) is correct

4. Consider the following statements:

1. Genetic changes can be introduced in the cells that produce eggs or sperms of a prospective parent.
2. A person’s genome can be edited before birth at the early embryonic stage.
3. Human induced pluripotent stem cells can be injected into the embryo of a pig.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. (d)
Explanation: In the statements given above, statement 2 is easy that is a person’s genome can be edited before birth at the early embryonic stage. For the first-time disease gene-edited out of human embryo was published in 2017.

Scientists in the US have repaired a disease-causing mutation in the DNA of early-stage human embryos and said that taking a step closer to engineering babies free of inherited disorders. Even Chinese scientists are creating CRISPR babies. That is a daring effort is underway to create the first children whose DNA has been tailored using gene editing. And in the UK also it is used.

In a paper, it was explained that reproductive options for prospective parents in families with Huntington’s disease: clinical, psychological, and ethical reflections. So, statement 1 is also correct.

While seeing in the given options 1 and 2 statements are correct, so obvious answer is (d). 

In a research paper, it is explained that the generation of pig induced pluripotent stem cells using an extended pluripotent stem cell culture system. Seeing as a reference this paper we can say that statement 3 is also correct.

UPSC IAS Prelims 2020: Check Detailed Analysis of GS Paper I (S&T Section)

5. What is the importance of using Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines in India?

1. These vaccines are effective against pneumonia as well as meningitis and sepsis.
2. Dependence on antibiotics that are not effective against drug-resistant bacteria can be reduced.
3. These vaccines have no side effects and cause no allergic reactions.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. (b)
Explanation: Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines are also known as PCV vaccines. Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) is a leading cause of bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis in children. PCV vaccines are effective against pneumonia as well as meningitis and sepsis. Therefore, statement 1 is correct.

The additional benefits of PCV are protection against life-threatening meningitis and sepsis, tempering the threat of antibiotic resistance and overuse, and preventing of life-long disabilities. The vaccine is given in an infant stage or less than five years of children. So, statement 2 is correct.

As we know that vaccine has some sort of side effects. It is mentioned that children should not get the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine if: They have had a serious (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose. Also, if they are moderately or severely ill. Wait until your child has recovered before getting the vaccine. A minor illness like a cold is not a problem. Therefore statement 3 is incorrect

6. Which of the following statements are correct regarding the general difference between plant and animal cells?

1. Plant cells have cellulose cell walls whilst animal cells do not.
2. Plant cells do not have plasma membranes, unlike animal cells which do.
3. Mature plant cell has one large vacuole whilst an animal cell has many small vacuoles.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3
Ans. (c)
Explanation: If we see the difference between plant cell and animal cell:
A plant cell has a cell wall but the animal does not have.
Plant cells have plastids like chloroplast but the animal cell does not have plastids.
A plant cell has a larger vacuole but animal cells have temporary vacuoles.
Plant cells can store excess glucose as starch and animal cell can store excess glucose as glycogen.
A plant cell has plasmodesmata and the animal cell does not have.
Plant cells do not have centrioles but animal cells have.
Plant cells do not have cholesterol in the cell membrane but animal cells have.
Plant cell generally has a fixed and regular shape but animal cell generally have an amorphous shape.
The plasma membrane is found in both plant and animal cells.

Therefore, statements 1 and 3 are correct.

7. In the context of recent advances of human reproductive technology, “Pronuclear Transfer” is used for

(a) fertilization of egg in vitro by the donor sperm
(b) genetic modification of sperm-producing cells
(c) development of stem cells into functional embryos
(d) prevention of mitochondrial diseases in offspring
Ans. (d)
Explanation: The technique Zukin used, called pronuclear transfer, involves first creating an embryo using the parents’ egg and sperm. Then, before embryo arrest can happen, the nucleus is extracted and transferred to a donor woman’s egg that has had its own nucleus removed. That egg becomes a healthy embryo, and if all goes well, a healthy child. 

This technique Zukin used was recently legalised in the UK but only for certain cases like for people suffering from genetic conditions called mitochondrial diseases. Also, the pronuclear transfer is highly experimental and not has been properly evaluated or scientifically proven. The technique is used to give birth to a three-parent baby boy. Therefore option (d) is correct.

8. With the present state of development, Artificial Intelligence can effectively do which of the following?

1. Bring down electricity consumption in industrial units
2. Create meaningful short stories and songs
3. Disease diagnosis
4. Text-to-Speech Conversion
5. Wireless transmission of electrical energy
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2, 3 and 5 only
(b) 1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2, 4 and 5 only
(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Ans. (d)
Explanation: As we know that Artificial Intelligence helps in diagnosing diseases. AI is being tested and used in the healthcare industry for dosing drugs and different treatment in patients, and for surgical procedures in the operating room. Statement 3 is correct.

In Android phones, AI is used to test to speech conversion. Statement 4 is correct. If we see the given options (a) and (c) will not be there. Now, today, AI-written content has expanded beyond formulaic writing to more creative writing endeavors such as poetry and novels. Therefore, statement 2 is correct. So, 2, 3, and 4 are correct. The answer will be (d)

Also, AI and data-mining can reduce energy costs in the industrial sector. In the future, such types of technologies will come with AI in which wireless transmission of electrical energy will be there.

9. With reference to Visible Light Communication (VLC) technology, which of the following statements are correct?

1. VLC uses electromagnetic spectrum wavelengths 375 to 780 nm.
2. VLC is known as long-range optical wireless communication.
3. VLC can transmit large amounts of data faster than Bluetooth.
4. VLC has no electromagnetic interference.
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 3 only
(b) 1, 2 and 4 only
(c) 1, 3 and 4 only
(d) 2, 3 and 4 only
Ans. (c)
Explanation: Visible light communication (VLC) is a data communications variant that uses visible light between 400 and 800 THz (780-375 nm). Therefore, statement 1 is correct.

Optical wireless communication (OWC) can be divided into five categories based on transmission range: Ultra-short range, Short-range, Medium range, Long-range, Ultra-long range.

In Medium-range, VLC falls. Indoor IR and visible light communications (VLC) for wireless local area networks (WLANs) and inter-vehicular and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Therefore, statement 2 is incorrect.

VLC can transmit large amounts of data faster than Bluetooth is true. Also, it has no electromagnetic interference. So, statements 3 and 4 are correct.

10. With reference to “Blockchain Technology”, consider the following statements:

1. It is a public ledger that everyone can inspect, but which no single user controls.
2. The structure and design of the blockchain is such that all the data in it are about cryptocurrency only.
3. Applications that depend on basic features of blockchain can be developed without anybody’s permission.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 only
(d) 1 and 3 only
Ans. (d)
Explanation: Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) that allows data to be stored globally on thousands of servers – while letting anyone on the network see everyone else’s entries in near real-time. That makes it difficult for one user to gain control of, or game, the network. Therefore, statement 1 is correct. 

Its application is not only of cryptocurrency. Therefore, statement 2 is incorrect

As per NITI Aayog, the majority of viable use cases for blockchain will be permissioned ones, not public blockchains. “Public blockchains like Bitcoin, have no central authority and are regarded as enablers of total disruptive disintermediation. Permissioned blockchains are hosted on private computing networks, with controlled access and editing rights that is there are still central authorities with admin rights”. Therefore, statement 3 is correct.

11. With reference to solar water pumps, consider the following statements:

1. Solar power can be used for running surface pumps and not for submersible pumps.
2. Solar power can be used for running centrifugal pumps and not the ones with piston.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2
Ans. (d)
Explanation: There are two types of pumps namely submersible pumps and surface pumps. It depends on the source of water which pump is more suitable to use. In the case of a well, the pump needs to be placed underwater. Surface pumps can be placed at the side of a lake or in the case of a floating pump or on the top of the water.

Also, Surface pumps are less expensive than submersible pumps but they are not only drawing water from about 6.5 vertical meters. So, surface pumps are excellent for pushing water over long distances. Therefore, statement 1 is incorrect.
Statement 2 is also incorrect as there are two main types of solar water pump technologies namely the centrifugal pump and the positive displacement pump. The positive displacement pump usually uses a piston to transfer water.

12. In India, why are some nuclear reactors kept under “IAEA safeguards” while others are not?

(a) Some use uranium and others use thorium
(b) Some use imported uranium and others use domestic supplies
(c) Some are operated by foreign enterprises and others are operated by domestic enterprises
(d) Some are State-owned and others are privately-owned
Ans. (b)
Explanation: As per the official, new reactors under IAEA safeguards, decisions will be based on the source of uranium. It is in the current affairs news of 2019. Therefore, some are imported uranium and others use domestic supplies. Also, a senior official said that India will decide on the number of new reactors to be placed under IAEA safeguards only after assessing if these will be fuelled by uranium procured from abroad.

At present, there are around 22 operational reactors and of these 14 are under the IAEA safeguards as these use imported fuel. So, (b) is the correct answer.

13.  In India, under cyber insurance for individuals, which of the following benefits are generally covered, in addition to payment for the loss of funds and other benefits?

1. Cost of restoration of the computer system in case of malware disrupting access to one’s computer
2. Cost of a new computer if some miscreant wilfully damages it, if proved so
3. Cost of hiring a specialized consultant to minimize the loss in case of cyber extortion
4. Cost of defence in the Court of Law if any third party files a suit
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1, 2 and 4 only
(b) 1, 3 and 4 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2, 3 and 4
Ans. (b)
Explanation: Cyber insurance is provided to individuals and also to companies. But in the questions, we are talking about cyber insurance for individuals. 

In this, it is covered that the cost incurred during the prosecution process and defense costs are paid by the insurance company. Expenses incurred for counseling treatments post a cyber attack is also paid. And it also takes care of consultant fees, court expenses, and legal fees concerning the cyber attack. Therefore, statements 3 and 4 are correct.

What is not covered in this? If the attack was intentionally and deliberately done then the policy will not pay any claim. Insurers do not cover any fraudulent, dishonest, or malicious act. 

These policies don’t provide any cover for any prior actions of the attack that the policyholder has faced before buying the policy. And they don’t cover personal data or lost pictures in the policy.

The insurers also take measures to avoid any cyber-attack to their customers by prompting for backing up their data, updating anti-virus, and having a proper set of passwords. if such types of measures is not taken properly then in case of a cyber attack, your claim can be jeopardized. Therefore, statement 1 is correct but 2 is false

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