Photo by Greg Hume
A crab bridge in Christmas Island, Australia, facilitates the safe passage for the migrating red crabs (Photo credit; Wondrous World Images via parksaustralia.gov.au)
In Christmas Island, Australia, signposts alerting passers of animal-crossing don’t suffice; traffic detours, public announcements, and permanent bridges are in need, as the island roads must make way for a sea of crabs to pass by! The spectacular annual event is a natural wonder.
It turns out the well-imprinted taste map — of the tongue divided into four specific zones for sweet, salt, sour, and bitter tastes — is all wrong. In the past few decades, scientists refuted the theory. They revealed that the concept of designated taste zones on the tongue is the outcome of misinterpretation of data leading to misrepresentation.
Venus has a hostile environment
Venus is a terrestrial planet with rocky terrain, volcanoes, and a dense atmosphere. Carbon dioxide and sulphuric acid-laden clouds dominate the atmosphere. Also, the dense atmosphere gives rise to excruciating surface pressures of 92 bars (as much as that at 1km below sea level on earth), making the planet inhospitable.
Plastics are stubborn trash and non-biodegradable. Yet, did you know our indiscriminate use of plastics has now permeated our oceans as well?
According to the United Nations, 80% of marine pollution is caused by land-based debris. Our waterways carry tonnes of waste — mainly discarded plastics and industrial waste —into the seas. Apart from that, ships and fishing boats dump discarded cargo, fishing nets and other debris into the sea.
Have you ever wondered why some of us are mosquito magnets? It is well established that only female mosquitoes bite because they need protein from our blood to nourish their eggs. And, they are picky about their blood meal; look for several factors in their target before digging their proboscis.
Science is still figuring out the complex mechanisms behind their bias, and it turns out to be no less than rocket science.
1. Asteroids are relics from the time the solar system was born
Billions of years ago, when the solar system was forming, space dust and debris fused to form rocks and rubble. As the rocks churned, they rammed into one another, merged and formed planets and moons.
Asteroids are the leftover rubble from those times. They have remained unchanged over billions of years.
What is the one thing that is common among the colourful feathers of birds, the long claws of a tiger, the prized horn of a rhinoceros, the antlers of a feer, the scales of the pangolin, the fine wool of the cashmere goat, or Rapunzel’s super long hair? Did this question get you to scratch your head or bite your nails? It’s there too! It’s the ubiquitous protein keratin found in the skin or epithelial cells of vertebrates. Keratin is one of the strongest materials in nature.
Do you recollect knowing axioms and proving theorems in your high-school mathematics class? Most theorems start as conjectures — a proposition that is believed to be true but without enough formal proof. Over time, mathematicians use the axioms to prove the conjectures. Proving or disproving conjectures can be challenging, sometimes taking centuries. ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’, which states that no three positive integers can satisfy the equation an+bn=cn where n>2, although sounds straightforward, took 350 years to prove!
There was a time when stars in the night sky were a simile for infinity — one could see so many spluttered across a black blanket that counting them would take a lifetime! Fast forward to today, the night sky is lit not by the moon or stars but by city lights. Indiscriminate use of artificial light — from light bulbs in buildings to sodium lamps on streets to glaring neon billboards — has killed the joy of stargazing. It is estimated that about 83% of the world’s population lives in areas contaminated by light pollution.