The viruses, notoriously known for the seasonal flu and deadly diseases like AIDS, are the smallest of all the microorganisms. As potent they may be, the intriguing part about viruses is they are inactive when outside a living cell! They become active and multiply only when they enter and infect a living cell. But, unlike how our cells replicate, cell division in viruses is a unique process.
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The beauty of nature lies in its resilience. A testament to this is Japan’s Pale Grass Blue Butterfly, Zizeeria maha. It’s ability to become radiation resistant by undergoing adaptive evolution is a metamorphosis catalysed by tragic beginnings.
“Can this wait? I haven’t had my coffee yet.”
“I have a headache, and I need some coffee.”
“You look tired! Can I get you some coffee?”
“What had that flower to do with being white
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth hither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?
If design govern a thing so small.”
--Robert Frost, in his poem Design
Long before humans arrived on this planet, elephants have been walking on Earth. Often referred to as the ‘keystone’ species by scientists, these gentle giants play a significant role in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitat.
“Ecology is boring for the same reason that destruction is fun”, said Don DeLillo, an American novelist and playwright. This saying resonates very well with road ecology. Road kills are soon forgotten till the next one happens, reckless driving in protected areas is ubiquitous and polluting ecologically sensitive area is an act of no shame. And, this is not fun!
Savitri is a cheerful 6-year old girl with twinkle in her eyes and swiftness in her feet. She is extremely delighted to pen down the curvy tip of the beak of Purple-rumped Sunbird in her note, her 100th bird species to be identified during her birding trips. The alluring plumage, swift flight, striking songs of these feathered friends fascinate not only her, but the entire mankind!
Crab spiders are a family of small, pretty spiders, some of which you could find in your own backyard or even on a potted plant. They are accomplished ambush hunters, making meals out of insects much larger than themselves – a crab spider half the size of your fingernail can easily grab a large butterfly. They are coloured to blend in remarkably with their surroundings, much like an octopus or a chameleon would. They perch on a hunting platform of their choice – usually the centre or base of a flower – and lie in waiting for their prey to venture close enough.
Henrietta Lacks was just 31 years old when she passed away in October of 1951, succumbing to a short battle with cervical cancer. A poor, African-American tobacco farmer, her life and death was a quiet affair, perhaps most felt by her five young children and the widower she left behind.
The name ‘retrovirus’ raises more questions than provide answers. The term ‘retro’ reminds us of disco balls, bouffant hairstyles and polka dots. However, a retrovirus is not merely a virus with questionable fashion sense! It is a virus belonging to a family of single-stranded RNA viruses.