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SciQs

Jul 28, 2021

What is the one thing that is common among the colourful feathers of birds, the long claws of a tiger, the prized horn of a rhinoceros, the antlers of a feer, the scales of the pangolin, the fine wool of the cashmere goat, or Rapunzel’s super long hair? Did this question get you to scratch your head or bite your nails? It’s there too! It’s the ubiquitous protein keratin found in the skin or epithelial cells of vertebrates. Keratin is one of the strongest materials in nature.

General, Science, SciQs
Jun 10, 2021

Do you recollect knowing axioms and proving theorems in your high-school mathematics class? Most theorems start as conjectures — a proposition that is believed to be true but without enough formal proof. Over time, mathematicians use the axioms to prove the conjectures. Proving or disproving conjectures can be challenging, sometimes taking centuries. ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’, which states that no three positive integers can satisfy the equation an+bn=cn where n>2, although sounds straightforward, took 350 years to prove!

Science, Technology, SciQs
Apr 15, 2021

There was a time when stars in the night sky were a simile for infinity — one could see so many spluttered across a black blanket that counting them would take a lifetime! Fast forward to today, the night sky is lit not by the moon or stars but by city lights. Indiscriminate use of artificial light — from light bulbs in buildings to sodium lamps on streets to glaring neon billboards — has killed the joy of stargazing. It is estimated that about 83% of the world’s population lives in areas contaminated by light pollution.

General, Science, SciQs
Apr 9, 2021

Atlantic horseshoe crabs in the US
[Image credits: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

General, Science, SciQs
Apr 7, 2021

Bizarre patterns, vibrant colours, heady scents — flowers present a buffet of choices to draw pollinators. In fact, studies have shown that bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects have particular preferences in the flowers they visit. What’s more, they also tweak their tastes according to the changing environment.

General, Science, Ecology, SciQs
Mar 17, 2021

Astronomers detected a planet outside our Solar System orbiting a star like our Sun, for the first time in 1995. Known as ‘exoplanets’, the theoretical understanding of the formation of stars had long pointed to the existence of such worlds. Before 1995, astronomers had claimed to discover exoplanets, but it was difficult to confirm these discoveries. Later, it turned out that one such claim, made in 1988, was indeed correct. However, the discoverers of the exoplanet in 1995, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019.

Science, SciQs
Jan 29, 2021

Image Credits: KV Gururaja

In the animal world, finding a mate, protecting territory and fending off competitors who vie for love are defining moments. Only those adept at the needed skills for these ‘do-or-die’ circumstances survive, reproduce and thrive. A few animals go the extra mile—sing a romantic song, flash their colours to scare competitors and also woo their mate, some chirp high loud to stand out in the crowd and some, like the dancing frogs, shake a leg!

General, Science, Ecology, SciQs
Dec 24, 2020

[Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0]

Science, SciQs
Nov 27, 2020

Himalayan forest thrush (Zoothera salimalii), a songbird discovered in 2016 and named after Salim Ali, the renowned Indian ornithologist. [Image Credits: Craig Brelsford, CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

Science, SciQs
Jul 25, 2020

Gold nanoparticles dispersed in water [Image Credits: Nikonianman / CC BY-SA 4.0]

Science, SciQs
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