We often hear or read that ‘some species of a bird or animal is going extinct’, or ‘a new species of an amphibian or reptile was discovered in the jungles of the Western Ghats’. However, what exactly do we mean by ‘species’?
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It is the 21st century, and human beings have transcended their lives far from ordinary. And yet, the origin of life on Earth is still one of the greatest mysteries of all times. Until now, biology explained the origin of life as the formation of the cell, ultimately creating every living organism on the planet. However, the plausibility of this theory has been challenged by a new one that casts the origin of life as an inevitable outcome of thermodynamics—an essential part of physics.
Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) is a free-floating perennial aquatic plant, native to the Amazon basin in South America. The beautiful, large, purple flowers make it a favourite ornamental plant. However, its beauty is only surface deep, since it has a bad reputation of being one of the worst aquatic weeds in the world.
Today, a majority of us are glued to our smartphones. In the midst of swiping and scrolling through our social media applications, little would we know about an entire community that exists right at the tip of our fingers -- the social community of bacteria on our screen that is a ‘social network’ on its own!
Physics lessons in school taught us that light is electromagnetic radiation, where electric and magnetic fields oscillate in harmony and travel perpendicular to one another. Over centuries, the properties of light have led to the greatest discoveries—from far-away galaxies to understanding the structure of atoms. What if we put the light rays to do some mechanical work? That’s what optical tweezers—scientific instruments used to manipulate microscopic objects—do!
Imagine yourself enjoying the comforts of your home when you feel a sudden change in the atmosphere, and before you find out why, your skin starts to burn and you can hardly breathe. That’s when you realise that the place you have been living since ages has suddenly become a living hell. Welcome to the world of marine animals!
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!
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.