Across the ages, humans have tried to explain natural phenomena, like earthquakes, through stories and myths. Indian mythology says that when the elephant that holds the world on his back gets tired, an earthquake occurs; Norse mythology describes an earthquake as Loki, the God of mischief and strife, struggling to escape his prison; and Japaneses mythology talks about the giant catfish Namazu thrashing about beneath the earth, causing earthquakes. So what does science have to say?
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Human hair texture is extremely varied—from poker straight to twistedly tangled—and although we understand some of the biology behind straight hair, curly hair is a bit of an enigma. It’s not just biology that’s involved here, but interestingly some physics too.
Ever wondered about the genes that produces blood in the human body? Haemoglobin in our blood is produced by the haemoglobin beta gene (HBB) and the haemoglobin alpha gene (HBA). These two genes are responsible for providing instructions for making the proteins, beta globin and alpha globin. Beta globin and alpha globin are an important part of the larger protein called haemoglobin, which is found in the human and mammal red blood cells.
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’?
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!