Showing posts with the label environment

Why do whales wash ashore?

The following post was accepted as our guest post at theScience Log, the English version of the  popular Hindi Science website, Scientific World. Below is the introduction to this post. 

Last month, about 100 whales were washed ashore along the coastline of Tiruchendur, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. While locals in the area were successful in pushing back 36 of these whales using various methods, 45 of these creatures succumbed on the shore. Just a couple of weeks after this incident, a 30 foot whale was washed ashore on the western coast. Although,  we still await formal reasons for these incidents, you might have come across a lot of theories put out by experts as well on non-experts through various media channels as to why these whales might have reached the shores. Through this post, however, we will look at well investigated reasons why these sea creatures might leave the sanctity of their homes and travel to shallow waters.
To read the complete post, please click here to go…

Survival of the smallest!

In a billion years from now, the Earth will be inhabited just by microbes. Not animals, not cockroaches but microbes. This conclusion is a result of a computer model used by researchers to predict the status of life on Earth after a few billion years.

As years pass by, the augmenting luminosity of the Sun will create an unfavourable rather intolerable environment for humans, plants and animals alike on our planet. The increased temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius  will lead to the evaporation of oceans which in turn will lead to increased salinity of large water bodies, high atmospheric pressure and a drastic reduction in oxygen and carbon dioxide content. The poisonous, high pressure, high salinity and zero-oxygen condition will only be withstood by organisms that already survive under such extreme conditions and are called “extremophiles”.
Desert ants sprinting on scorching sand, spiders in snowy areas and beetles with antifreeze blood are some of the creatures identified as ext…

Does lack of plants mean End of Photosynthesis on Earth?

Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and a few other organisms to make their own food by harnessing the energy from the sun’s light and converting it to chemical energy. The process of photosynthesis is dependent on a lot of factors and a change in any of these could actually prevent it from occurring normally, as we would like it. Major factors which could stop the process of photosynthesis include- absence of sunlight, carbon dioxide or water, since these are basic requirements for the process. While you might be aware that the process occurs in a small organelle inside the plant’s cells known as chloroplast, chlorophyll is an important pigment for the process. Any loss of this pigment due to genetic or biochemical factors would also prevent photosynthesis. Also, the end result is photosynthesis is the production of glucose. So, if a plant has enough glucose, there will be a halt in the process.

Of more interest is the optimum temperature range in which photosynthesis occurs-…

No Mate? No Worries!

Early life on Earth consisted of single-celled organisms that reproduced by dividing into half or what is formally known as asexual reproduction. As life evolved and more complex and multi-cellular organisms were created, two sexes became distinguished- the male and the female, which were both required in the process of sexual reproduction. It is believed that nature promotes sexual reproduction since it provides an opportunity of recombination of genetic material in a given population.
There is evidence for sexual production in plants as well and distinct male and female plants do exist. Usually a female produces an egg which is then fertilized by a male gamete to give rise to an embryo, which grows into an adult organism. So, when we were busy considering ‘Dioecy’ (species have distinct male and female organisms) as one proof of our evolution, scientists have found that certain females can reproduce without the need of a male. Offspring produced in such a manner are often females a…

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,, .au etc. ) with a .tk extension. With a booming internet business, electrical energy had become a primary need.

Besides, Tokelau h…