Haven’t we all read about how our ‘genes’ make up who we are— many traits like the colours of our hair and how we look depends on the genes. However, where exactly are these genes? They are in the coiled ‘chromosomes’ found in our DNA. So where exactly in the chromosomes are these genes that decide our height or our eye colour? Well, you then have to zoom the gene locus—the exact physical address of the gene on the chromosome.
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If you have noticed a young child draw clouds, you might observe that irrespective of the size of these clouds, they have the same distinctive shape. Surprisingly, there is a scientific basis for this observation and is said to be because of the ‘fractal’ or self-similar nature of clouds.
Cloud seeding is the technology of introducing artificial nuclei or “seeds” (silver iodide, salt, dry ice), into clouds from either the air or ground to increase the chances of rain. The popular belief is that cloud seeding is done only to bring rain in a particular place. But did you know that the same technique is used to disperse rain?
Kopi Luwak, a coffee variant believed to be of Indonesian origin, has gained popularity all over the world over the last few years. The reason for its popularity is attributed to the factors such as flavour and texture which is achieved through a unique process—digestion of the coffee beans by Asian palm civet.
If ever the Beatles were to be formed again, they would definitely agree to rope in field crickets, the distant rockstar relatives of grasshoppers, into their influential band. The male members of the Gryllidae family are noted in the animal world for the music they make with their forewings. As the sun goes down and the dark is welcome, the musical concert of adult male field crickets goes live. Some sing continuous trills, the others produce periodic chirps to enchant the ladies of their own species for mating.
Dolphins ‘see’ using sound, like bats. Each individual has a signature whistle that is unique to them, sort of like a name. They sleep with half their brain awake, and their eyes operate independently of each other. Oh, and they have an infanticidal streak.
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.
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