Physics lessons in school taught us that light is electromagnetic radiation, where electric and magnetic fields oscillate in harmony and travel perpendicular to one another. Over centuries, the properties of light have led to the greatest discoveries—from far-away galaxies to understanding the structure of atoms. What if we put the light rays to do some mechanical work? That’s what optical tweezers—scientific instruments used to manipulate microscopic objects—do!
You are here
Imagine yourself enjoying the comforts of your home when you feel a sudden change in the atmosphere, and before you find out why, your skin starts to burn and you can hardly breathe. That’s when you realise that the place you have been living since ages has suddenly become a living hell. Welcome to the world of marine animals!
Do you remember poking a plant that quickly closed its leaves, seemed to droop and shy away? An introvert among plants and a favourite among all of us, the touch-me-not or chuimui in Hindi, is aptly named Mimosa pudica by scientists, where pudica is Latin for shy or chaste. We have all enjoyed seeing it fall asleep; probably wondering what happened inside the plant and perhaps waiting with curiosity for it to reopen!
Have you ever noticed a plant on the roadside or on empty lands that’s blooming throughout the year with a colour palette of flowers? The chances are that you have spotted one of the most pervasive invasive plants in India—Lantana camara.
Water is essential in biochemical processes needed for the survival of living organisms. Humans can survive without water for about 2-7 days. However, there exists an animal so resilient that it can withstand water scarcity for decades! Tardigrades, also called water bears, are small aquatic animals that are about 1.2 mm long with a head and four pairs of clawed legs, looking like cute little gummy bears.
All of us have dutifully parroted this one sentence back in high school - ‘Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell’. Indeed, one couldn’t sum up mitochondria more succinctly, as that is their precise function in a cell. These tiny, double-layered organelles live happily inside a cell’s cytoplasm, producing energy as and when required. This energy, made in the form of a chemical compound called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), keeps the cell up and running.
Rainbows have amazed us since the dawn of humanity—either as a divine depiction, a scientific puzzle or an epitome of beauty. These celestial arcs appear when sunlight hits airborne water droplets at some angles. For a rainbow to occur, sunlight refracts into the droplet, reflects within, and refracts out. However, what if light keeps getting reflected in a loop within the droplet?
Most of us see mosquitoes as blood-sucking pests and wonder if the world would be a better place if there were none. Do they have anything good to offer apart from giving us itchy rashes and deadly diseases? Yes, says science.
One of the greatest threats to biodiversity is the fragmentation or breaking apart of habitats. Climate change, volcanic eruptions and other geological processes can gradually modify the area in which a species finds food, shelter, and mates. By natural selection and adaptation, speciation occurs, adding to the richness of life. Conversely, human activities of deforestation, agriculture and urbanisation have accelerated habitat loss to such a degree that species are unable to adapt to the changes, leading to ecosystem decay and, ultimately, extinction.
As kids we were fascinated seeing magnets and its property of attracting iron towards it. We always had these questions in our mind - Why does iron get attracted by the magnet, unlike other materials such as wood or plastic? What is so strange about iron? To find the answer, we have to understand a bit about magnetic properties of materials.