Do you remember poking a plant that quickly closed its leaves, seemed to droop and shy away? An introvert among plants and a favourite among all of us, the touch-me-not or chuimui in Hindi, is aptly named Mimosa pudica by scientists, where pudica is Latin for shy or chaste. We have all enjoyed seeing it fall asleep; probably wondering what happened inside the plant and perhaps waiting with curiosity for it to reopen!
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Have you ever noticed a plant on the roadside or on empty lands that’s blooming throughout the year with a colour palette of flowers? The chances are that you have spotted one of the most pervasive invasive plants in India—Lantana camara.
Water is essential in biochemical processes needed for the survival of living organisms. Humans can survive without water for about 2-7 days. However, there exists an animal so resilient that it can withstand water scarcity for decades! Tardigrades, also called water bears, are small aquatic animals that are about 1.2 mm long with a head and four pairs of clawed legs, looking like cute little gummy bears.
All of us have dutifully parroted this one sentence back in high school - ‘Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell’. Indeed, one couldn’t sum up mitochondria more succinctly, as that is their precise function in a cell. These tiny, double-layered organelles live happily inside a cell’s cytoplasm, producing energy as and when required. This energy, made in the form of a chemical compound called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate), keeps the cell up and running.
Rainbows have amazed us since the dawn of humanity—either as a divine depiction, a scientific puzzle or an epitome of beauty. These celestial arcs appear when sunlight hits airborne water droplets at some angles. For a rainbow to occur, sunlight refracts into the droplet, reflects within, and refracts out. However, what if light keeps getting reflected in a loop within the droplet?
Most of us see mosquitoes as blood-sucking pests and wonder if the world would be a better place if there were none. Do they have anything good to offer apart from giving us itchy rashes and deadly diseases? Yes, says science.
One of the greatest threats to biodiversity is the fragmentation or breaking apart of habitats. Climate change, volcanic eruptions and other geological processes can gradually modify the area in which a species finds food, shelter, and mates. By natural selection and adaptation, speciation occurs, adding to the richness of life. Conversely, human activities of deforestation, agriculture and urbanisation have accelerated habitat loss to such a degree that species are unable to adapt to the changes, leading to ecosystem decay and, ultimately, extinction.
As kids we were fascinated seeing magnets and its property of attracting iron towards it. We always had these questions in our mind - Why does iron get attracted by the magnet, unlike other materials such as wood or plastic? What is so strange about iron? To find the answer, we have to understand a bit about magnetic properties of materials.
Global incidences of disease outbreaks such as Ebola, SARS, Avian influenza, etc., are increasing with over sixty percent of infectious human diseases being of zoonotic or animal origin. Human infections and fatalities occur only when zoonotic pathogens spill over from animals, upon attainment of certain specific parameters. In most cases animals, including wildlife, act as reservoirs of these pathogens are are not necessarily affected by the disease. Consequently, one would feel that animals are responsible for this disease transmission.
Haven't we all drunk milk at some point in our lives; it’s one of the first foods we consume. It is ‘one of the first’ because it is, in fact, the second food that we are exposed to soon after birth. The first food looks and tastes like milk, but is, in fact, an entirely different food called colostrum.
All female mammals that are capable of producing milk are also capable of producing colostrum in their mammalian mammary glands, five days before delivering a newborn and 15 days after that.