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Showing posts with the label science blog

Its not the complex talk but the attitude that matters!

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  On a lazy Sunday evening, I stepped out of the house for some weekly chores and on my way back, saw a couple of kids play in the open. Irrespective of the size of the open space, kids in India are usually seen playing cricket, but these two 5-7 year-old kids, were doing something different! With some readily available materials like a polythene bag, a small plastic skateboard and a thin string, these kids were attempting a scaled down version of kite boarding. If you do look up kite boarding, it is an adventure sport and needs all sorts of complex safety gear. But the science behind kite boarding is quite simple. Wind that gets caught up in the kite/ sail, pushes the boarder forward.  The kids got this right; and by neatly tying up the polythene bag at its mouth it created a giant sail for a toy skateboard that was merely 5 cm long. Taking advantage of the monsoon winds, this toy skateboard tethered to the polythene sail, slowly inched forward as the winds picked up, giving

Meteor in Russia, why should I care?

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The meteor that slammed near the Ural mountains in Russia on Friday, 15th February, sent waves that not only broke some glass windows in the neighboring area but also shook news agencies that flashed amateur footage for the next day or two. Here's a an amateur footage if you missed it. While astronomers and star gazers were busy waiting  for 2012 DA14 's, a near-Earth Asteroid , fly-by our planet, the 'Russian meteor'  as it is called now, moved in swiftly into our atmosphere and made its presence felt , before hitting a frozen lake in the Chelabinysk area. So, what difference does it make to our lives, if a two-meter wide rock falls from the sky? Broadly speaking, the Russian meteor incident raises three questions: First,  of New Life! According to theory of Panspermia , life originated elsewhere (in the solar system or outer space ) and came to the Earth via meteroids and developed here. Analyses and experiments have shown that bacteria can survive

Strange laws of attraction in birds!!!

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Allergies and The Hygiene Hypothesis

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Have you ever gone to a kid’s birthday party and every time someone got up for the food table the host would go on with a list of what could be probable allergens in the dish? With kids today being allergic to perpetually everything (except junk food ), throwing a birthday party may be the worst nightmare for any host! But all jokes apart, anyone would have noticed that the list of allergies seems to be getting more and more bizarre. Our connection with microbes Our tiff with the microbial world kick starts quite early in our neonatal life. When the fetus is growing inside its mother’s womb , it is protected from this microbial world. After it is born, it gets introduced into a different environment- one abundant in microbes. These microbes rapidly colonize the gut and respiratory tract, to the extent that at the cellular level they exceed human cells by ten times! But these microbes are actually beneficial to the human body. They provide a constant stimulus for the de

Solar ship! The answer to our fuel woes!

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Flying has always been a human dream. Whether it be the Wright brothers in the past or the low-cost airlines in the present, all have worked towards making this dream come true. Luxuries of modern day flights are an added reason to take the aerial route to your destination.  However, the rising demand for fuel and shrinking supplies have taken away the 'low cost' from airlines. Increasing prices of flying not only affects flight enthusiasts but also affects activities such as large scale farming and emergency services such as air ambulances. Adapting a newer energy source will soon be a necessity in the future, but are we future ready? Well, the Solar ship is.  We often look for ways to make our day-to-day lives more eco-friendly but Canada based Solar Ship has taken 'going green' to an all new level. Inspired by the Zeppelin 's of the late 1800s, Solar Ship is developing aircraft that are powered by sunlight. Yes, sunlight powers the movement of these crafts

Animals that live on Sunlight!

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We have long since known that plants and algae are capable of using sunlight to synthesize their own energy. They essentially create their own food, and that was, by far, the clear distinction that separated plants and animals. However, nature just blurred that distinction further! Scientists have found that there are some pretty incredible animals that have been doing what we thought was a skill exclusively gifted to plants - photosynthesis . These unique animals dubbed, ‘photobionts’ are capable of surviving only with light and air. One such animal is the solar powered, sacoglossan mollusc or the sea slug . Now one would imagine that this must be some sort of symbiotic relationship being maintained between a photosynthetic plant and the slug. On the contrary, the sea slug steals the photosynthetic apparatus from the plant/algae it engulfs. It doesn’t just stop at that, it also retains the photosynthetic genes from its meal! And like all animals, the sea slug is not selfish, it als

How quickly can you spot a leader?

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We all have our 'I-told-you-so' moments with our friends and most of predictions come true. But, how good are our predictions when it comes to guessing about strangers? How quickly can we gauge people and draw conclusions about them? Less than two minutes is all it takes for us to pass judgments about people and identify them from a crowd. A study conducted by University of British Columbia, revealed that it takes lesser than 120 seconds for people to recognize a leader from a bunch of strangers. So, on what basis do we identify these individuals from the rest? Well, according to the study, there are only two factors that we take into consideration. One, the skills of the person and second, his/her dominance. So, we are likely to see an aggressive person as our leader. Very likely, your next question is How did they find this?  An initial group of 200 participants was first asked carry our certain activities in groups. After the activity, the participants were asked to rate the

The amazing underwater!

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This is a must watch! Truly breathtaking....

You are what you eat

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I’m sure all of us must have, at some time or the other, been drilled to eat our veggies, because they were undoubtedly the healthiest anything could get. But recent scientific studies say that this belief may not be entirely true. Although veggies help in improving eyesight, providing nutrition, etc. the  genomes  of these plants are believed to have a negative impact on human health . A study done by a Chinese team indicated that micro RNAs present in vegetables enter the human bloodstream after consumption. Genomes of plants were observed to have health consequences, and some bio molecules were observed to be active even after digestion! The team tested hundreds of volunteers for a study and, nearly 50 types of plant micro RNAs were found present in the blood samples of the volunteers. In the study it was also observed that the molecule MIR168a commonly found in rice, paired with human RNA led to removal of unwanted LDL cholesterol present in the bloodstream. So, al

Salt intake and Kidney Stones

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(Photo credit: Wikipedia) There are several medical mysteries that are yet to be solved but here is one mystery which was solved recently. A study conducted by University of Alberta researchers indicated the link between high salt intake leading to kidney stones and osteoporosis . The human body has a molecule which plays a dual role of regulating the levels of calcium as well as absorption of sodium . Sodium is expelled from the body when the intake is high and along with sodium, even calcium is expelled in the urine. On one hand high calcium level in urine leads to formation of kidney stones and the inadequacy of calcium can lead to osteoporosis which is a condition where the bone density is reduced. Statistics in the United States show that 10% of adults are likely to suffer from kidney stones at least once in their lifetime and about 10 million people suffer from osteoporosis. High sodium intake in the daily diet can lead to these medical consequences and henc

No more monkeying!

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Image source: www.hfsp.org Optogenetics is a method of probing neural circuits with the help of a combination of genetics and optics. In this method light-sensitive genes from microbial organisms are used along with light in order to receive a response from neurons . This is a very amusing method which is proving to be very helpful and a recent study has added a whole new dimension to this method of altering neural activities. The study used optogenetics and showed that the behaviour of monkeys can be altered using pulses of blue light which is known to activate specific brain cells. This result has provided the inspiration to develop a similar therapy for human beings . Previously this type of study was done on rodents and invertebrates but the result derived from the reaction in the brain of monkeys proved more helpful. The validation of the result was done with the use of an MRI and tests focussing on neurons responsible for specific eye movements . Both brain activit

How safe is your fridge bottle?

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In our day-to-day lives, we exercise extreme caution when it comes to drinking water. Water is treated at multiple points before it reaches your tap and even at home, we tend to use water purifiers that promise to kill 99.99% bacteria, viruses(?) and any other pathogen that might infect you. But have you ever wondered, how safe is the bottle that we store the water in? Multiple studies conducted have shown that the regular colourful fridge bottles, often made from polycarbonate (marked with a recycling code , 7) leaches Bisphenol A (BPA) into the water. BPA is the monomer that makes the polycarbonate plastic and hot or warm fluids usually result in depolymerization and release of BPA. This released chemical is very similar to estrogen and is capable of copying its function too. The Tolerable Daily Intake for BPA is 0.05 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. While this might be huge as compared to how much BPA actually leaches out, BPA has been associated with breast a

Music and the Brain

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                                 Children at N.Y. Zoo (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress) If you thought music was just a means of entertainment, you are in for a surprise. Recent studies show that there is in fact a lot to music than what meets the “ear”. In recent years many acoustic experts and researchers have carried out experiments to show a correlation between brain function , cognition and music. One such experiment studied and compared the brain responses and sound recognition of pre-school children who were being trained in music to those who were not. It was observed that children who received musical training not only had better sound recognition but their auditory cortex appeared modified in comparison to the other group. The children also demonstrated enhancement in memory and attention level in comparison to the non- musical group . Musical training is also observed to have a remarkable impact on children suffering from dyslexia. Training in