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Reader’s choice - Popular articles on Research Matters for 2018

Read time: 4 mins
Reader’s choice - Popular articles on Research Matters for 2018

You asked it and here we have! Wondering what was popular on Research Matters in 2018? Following are our top-ten stories that gained traction by readers like you. Thank you for your support and hope to see it continue in the years to come.

1. India’s rising population: Are we heading towards a demographic dividend or a Malthusian catastrophe?

What are the repercussions of being the most populated country on the planet? What are some of the better models to estimate the growing population based on differences in the demography? Vimal Simha writes about the study by researchers from the Shanghai University, China and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria, on a novel model that makes demographic projections taking into account the heterogenous demography.

2.  Pangolin hunting in Assam: Causes, consequences and solutions

Pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animals, thanks to the demand for their scales. In the state of Assam, cases of pangolin hunting by local tribes have been on the rise. What drives this hunt and what are the consequences of it? What are some of the solutions to stop the hunt for these endangered mammals? Paramananda Barman and Spoorthy Raman report on a study by the World Animal Protection and the University of Oxford, UK exploring these questions in Assam.

3. It’s not love, but the tension in your cells that governs life

Understanding the mechanisms inside a cell through the lens of physics reveals that life, as we know it, is governed by the forces inside our cells. What are these forces and how do they shape life? Nagashree Avabhrath writes on a study by researchers at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru that explores how cells maintain their shapes in spite of expelling material from their membrane.

4. Wi-Fi or Cellular Data? Not Your Headache Anymore!

With the advent of new cellular technologies, engineers are on the lookout for making the best of these technologies for end customers. As phones become ‘smart’ and relentlessly rely on the Internet for many of their functions, the need for providing seamless data becomes important. A study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay could have a solution on how algorithms can help phones to switch over from Wifi to cellular network for data without inconveniencing the customers, writes Arati Halbe. 

5. Kolkata may be slowly sinking, shows study

All may not be well with the City of Joy as its depleting groundwater is sinking the city due to land subsidence. A study by researchers from the Anna University, Chennai, assessed changes in Kolkata’s land subsidence for three years and found some alarming trends that could be perilous to Kolkata. Suma M captures the essence of the study and its findings in this popsci article.

6. Learning the benefits of joint families from the lives of free-ranging dogs

What are some of the most important lessons that stray dogs can teach us? Turns out, it is the art of living in a joint family! Deekshith Nevil Pinto writes about a study by researchers from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata on the family structures of free-ranging dogs and their parental care behaviour.

7. Karnataka’s rivers: The lifelines of South India

Rivers have been the cradles of civilization since history. The fertile river beds serve as the food bowl and the waters provide fish, electricity, transport and of course, water for drinking. In an article, Sudhira H S and Vignesh Kamath explore the significance of Karnataka’s rivers, their origins and some of the threats faced by them today. 

8. Wind turbines—causing more harm than good?

Hailed as ‘clean’ energy, wind energy is seen as an affordable solution to satiate the ever-growing global energy demands. However, the wind turbines may be causing creating deleterious effects on predatory birds and their prey in the Western Ghats, writes Paramananda Barman, on a study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.

9. Oneer -- CSIR’s answer to the problem of safe drinking water

Clean drinking water is an essential prerequisite for good health. Drinking contaminated water leads to diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid. A new device developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, CSIR’s Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (CSIR-IITR) may soon put an end to clean water woes and help make access to clean drinking water a reality, writes Paramananda Barman and Vijay Satokar.

10. Researchers find new species of bacteria that can degrade lignin

Lignin is a polymer found in the wood and barks of trees which gives plants mechanical strength. But, it resists degradation and poses challenges to the environment. Chandra Shekhar Misra writes about a novel work by researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, National Institute of Plant Genome Research and CSIR-Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, India, who have identified a particular strain of bacteria that can help break up lignin and decompose it.