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.
You are here
Global incidences of disease outbreaks such as Ebola, SARS, Avian influenza, etc., are increasing with over sixty percent of infectious human diseases being of zoonotic or animal origin. Human infections and fatalities occur only when zoonotic pathogens spill over from animals, upon attainment of certain specific parameters. In most cases animals, including wildlife, act as reservoirs of these pathogens are are not necessarily affected by the disease. Consequently, one would feel that animals are responsible for this disease transmission.
Haven't we all drunk milk at some point in our lives; it’s one of the first foods we consume. It is ‘one of the first’ because it is, in fact, the second food that we are exposed to soon after birth. The first food looks and tastes like milk, but is, in fact, an entirely different food called colostrum.
All female mammals that are capable of producing milk are also capable of producing colostrum in their mammalian mammary glands, five days before delivering a newborn and 15 days after that.
The sunscreen lotion is supposedly a magic wand we are always advised to use when going out to protects us from sunburns. However, do we know why we get sunburns? Do we understand the science of sunburn?
They say chocolate is nature’s way of making up for Mondays and that sure justifies its reputation as comfort food. The key component in chocolates is cocoa, a bean that is found in the pods of Theobroma cacao, or the cocoa tree, a native of Central and South America. The word ‘cocoa’ literally translates to ‘Food of the Gods’ in Greek. In recent years, countries in Africa and Asia have assumed a leading role in cocoa production, with Western Africa producing almost two-thirds of the world’s cocoa.
Have you ever admired red skies or criticised early morning haze? Atmospheric aerosols, tiny solid or liquid particles suspended in air, also called Particulate Matter (PM), are responsible for the myriad hues created by the evening sky. Not just that, aerosols impact the global climate and play a role in ozone depletion. These particles generally range from about a nanometre to ten micrometre in size and are either directly emitted or formed by the conversion of a gas to particles.
How cool would it be if we could switch living cells in our bodies on and off just like all our gadgets and appliances? Well, science has made it possible, thanks to all the researchers who thought of this ingenious idea and also made it work. The science of optogenetics uses ‘light’ to play around with and manipulate living cells in tissues, specifically the nerve cells aka neurons in our brains.
Imagine you come home to your city and find no one! While it isn’t very probable in human societies, a similar phenomenon called colony collapse disorder is often found in honeybees. Here, worker bees mysteriously start disappearing from their hives, and that leaves no one to do the housekeeping, nursing and foraging. Hence, the honey bee colonies start collapsing.
I can’t swim. Imagine that you can’t either. Also, imagine that you fall into this big body of water. You are drowning. The water is slowly filling into your lungs. They say it can take from minutes to hours. But, who are ‘they’? ‘They’, who you can see and hear and are on the banks of that big body of water. ‘They’ are standing on the hard surface, while you are trying to grab onto something, or find a footrest somewhere. However, you can’t because you’re drowning, and you don’t want to. Perhaps, ‘they’ also don’t want you to die.
Have you ever chanced upon a tiny spider in your garden, or perhaps on the wall of an old building, that swiftly jumped away as soon as you noticed it? Chances are that you spotted a spider of the Salticidae family. Jumping spiders, as they are commonly termed, are known for their leaping abilities, active hunting behaviour and impressive vision. It is hard to imagine that these wee arachnids have evolved a complex system of signalling using colours.