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Showing posts from November, 2012

Mind controlling parasites

Nature is filled with some of the most fascinating and bizarre things. From mind controlling parasites to zombie-d animals and insects, one close look at nature and it feels like something out of sci-fi.


Image courtesy http://www.missfidget.com/?p=6650
Cordyceps
The Cordyceps fungus is probably nature’s way of keeping a check on the populations of insects. There are thousands of different types of Cordeceps fungi, with each being very specific to a particular insect species. The Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, for example, infects ants in particular. When into the ant’s system, it alters the behaviour of the ant to ensure it spreads its spores in the environment. Ants that are infected, referred to as zombie ants, wonder alone and perch themselves on branches, or leaves ensuring the viability of the fungus. Experts have witnessed that the ants generally chose a spot that is high in humidity, and have temperatures between 20-30 degrees making sure that the fungus survives. One can generall…

A Solar powered island

A small island in the South Pacific Ocean recently shot to fame by becoming the first territory on our planet to derive its energy needs from the Sun. Covering a small area of 10 square kilometers, Tokelau is a part of New Zealand and lies to the North of Samoan islands.



Funded by the government of New  Zealand, Tokelau spent about $7 million to put in place three solar grids that will now enable its 1500 residents to harness and utilize solar energy for their daily needs. Why spend $7 million for a power plant in the middle of nowhere you might ask!

While the small island generates a small sum of $ 500,000 every year by selling agricultural produce, it spends over $2.8 million, most of which is spent of food and fuel. While its 1500 residents have energy needs like us, Tokelau's new means of earning is selling Internet domain names (like .com, .co.in, .au etc. ) with a .tk extension. With a booming internet business, electrical energy had become a primary need.

Besides, Tokelau h…

Eating - from casual to compulsive

In a world where we are battling addiction of some sort or the other, food is another item that has made the list. With the rising number of obese people around, scientists are looking for answer to questions that come up with eating, and one question that has made it to the fore is; when does the habit of eating move from being casual to compulsive. 
To answer this question scientists had to dig deeper and look at the relationship that food has with not only our body, but also with our brain. What they found was nothing short of astonishing. Eating, it seems, is not very different from addiction to drugs. Our brain has opioid receptors that are receptive to opiates (substances such as heroin, morphine etc.) These molecules play an important role in motivation, emotional attachment, satisfaction etc. Our body produces similar proteins as well, which are known as endorphins or endogenous morphine. These neurotransmitters are produced during excitement, love, orgasm, exercise and surpr…