Monday, November 20, 2006

Seasons- Are they the same across Planets?

It is always hot!!! this is the statement made by people who live in the zones where the variations between the highest and lowest temperatures are not felt. The weather is more equable around the equator. However, the seasonal variations can be felt as we start moving away from the equator.

The days are shorter during winter than summer. We know the climatic conditions are reversed when we consider the northern and the southern hemispheres. This is because the earth is tilted on an axis. When we take the planets other than earth, they also do have equinoxes and a few of them do have marked seasons also. The seasonal changes depends on the how much tilt each planet has about its axis.

When we take mercury and Venus the tilt on the axis is negligible so their poles remain eternally on the verge of night. The Mars had a 25 degree tilt which is close to that of earth and hence has seasons quite similar to earth but longer than ours in duration. Mars takes almost twice the time the earth takes to go around the sun.

Jupiter has minimal tilt like Venus and hence does not experience seasonal changes. Saturn has the equinoxes like Earth but the intensity of sunlight is very less hence the effect of the seasonal changes felt is minimal although one can proclaim it has seasons.

Uranus undergoes dramatic seasonal changes. As the tilt on the axis is 98 degrees its poles face the sun for directly at a time for about 21 years. So either of the poles have the summer season for 21 years each. And for some shorter period of time the entire planet bathes in sunlight for the sun is directly on its equator. This is expected to happen sometime in May’2007.

Neptune’s seasons are pretty ineffective as Saturn. But, Pluto has a tilt of 58 degrees and each season on Pluto lasts for about 62 years. So Earth has the apt seasonal and climatic conditions for humans to survive.

Monday, November 06, 2006

All About Chocolates

Over 2000 years ago the Aztec and Mayan cultures discovered the Cacao beans. This is the source from which yummy chocolates are made.

The cacao plants grows in hot regions. This plant is a shady plant and often is found growing under the coconut, lemon, banana trees. The tree has very tender fragile branches and hence the flowers and the bean pods develop directly on the trunk. The flowers are half white in color. The fruit resembles a cucumber.

The beans taken from the plant are fermented, roasted and then made into a drink. This beverage made was special and was served only to the royals. Columbus brought them to Spain from America during his last trip to America. The credit of sweetening the drink goes to the Spaniards. This recipe was kept a secret for many years. Later on the secret leaked gradually and spread across the world.

Only in the early 1800s the solid chocolates were prepared. The original Cadbury chocolate was made by and English doctor named Sir Hans Sloane. Chocolates where introduced in India by the Japanese. The Biggest Chocolate bar was made in Austria in a Chocolate Festival, it measured 5m*2m in size and about 2000 kgs in weight.
Chocolates can lift up your mood. Serotonin in released in the brain on consumption of chocolate that makes one feel good. Consumption of chocolate is effective in relieving cough. However, consumption of chocolates can cause dental problems due to the sugar content. Hence proper care has to be taken.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Who are Pearl Divers?

Pearls are known to us for a very long period of time. We would have read in our history lessons that the kings gifted their poets and court men with pearls for their achievements and the Queens adorned themselves lavishly with Pearls.

However, behind all such pomp and splendor lies the hard work of the ‘Pearl Divers’ who were responsible for collecting the Oysters from the dangerous depths of the Seas. In those days when there was no technical advancement the divers were not equipped with any protective measures. They used to hold their breath all the time from the time of plunging into the sea, drown themselves with the help of weights tied to their body, scope the oysters and return.

Theses divers had to face the grave risks of shark attacks and also attacks from other dangerous aquatic creatures. And holding the breath for such longer periods is a mammoth task by itself. A momentary negligence may lead to death. These people often faced the after effects such as acute pain in the limbs.

However gradually due to scientific growth these divers were equipped adequately with helmets and air pumps. Weight distribution was made in the suits they wore so that they could travel under water. A rope was fastened to their waist and the end of the rope was held by a man in the boat. The diver could send signals of danger by tugging the rope so the he could be pulled up by the rescuer. As science advanced aqua pumps were introduced fro safe breathing and special suits were designed to ward off attacks caused by the sea creatures.

The Sphinx of Giza

The Sphinx is the greatest monumental statue of Egypt. This historic symbol is located at Giza near Cairo. In fact it is the national symbol of the country. It is the mammoth monolith of a lion’s body with human face. This statue is about 4500 years old and measures close to 73 mts long and 20 mts tall.

The face of the statue represents the face of Khafre, the ruler of Egypt. The word Sphinx is a Greek word. This means the goddess with a female face with a body of the lion and wings of a bird. However the Sphinx of Giza is a small correction with a King’s face and a lion’s body. According to the Egyptians the Sphinx represents power and might of their king.

Egyptians had quarried large quantities of lime stones to build temples and tombs from a hill and the balance portion of the hill was itself converted to the Sphinx. The Sphinx as it is made of limestone deposit is susceptible to erosion. The Sphinx often remained buried under sand hills for longer periods and was restored every now and then. However, one can say the frequent burials are for good for it had prevented the statue from eroding away due to the sea breeze.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What are Steroids?

Steroids are very useful and potent form of drugs. Although they have side-effects if administered with proper medical advice would definitely be life-saving. These are found in the body naturally. These are secreted by the adrenal glands as hormones. The steroids are of two types one that is found naturally the other is manufactured synthetically.

Steroids are medically administered in acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. In certain cases of acute asthma which does not respond to ordinary drugs steroids are used as life saving drug. It is also administered for people suffering because of ‘Addisons disease’ . This is a condition where the human body stops secreting natural hormones. However, if the steroids are administered for longer periods the body tends to decrease the secretion of natural steroids.

Steroids although has some vital uses, it also has certain side- effects like ulceration of the stomach, swelling of the neck, weakening of bones, Increasing the body hair, the skin would tend to lose its texture, blood pressure levels would increase in some cases.

In spite of all these side-effects the steroids are being misused world-wide, the most common types of misuses are : To provide instant relief from body aches, fever, in cases of skin inflammations.

Friday, October 27, 2006


Not long ago, many people thought that comets were a sign that something bad was about to happen to them. People didn't understand how objects in the sky moved, so the sight of a comet must have been very disturbing. There are many historical records and works of art which record the appearance of comets and link them with terrible events such as wars or plagues.

One of the most famous comets is Halley's comet named after the famous astronomer Edmund Halley. Halley accurately calculated its time to orbit around sun as 76 years. This comet appeared in 1910 after which it appeared 1986 after 76 years as calculated by the great astronomer. In 1985-1986, a spacecraft called Giotto visited the most famous comet, Halley, on Halley's most recent visit to the inner solar system.

Unlike the other small bodies in the solar system, comets have been known since antiquity. Comets are sometimes called dirty snowballs or "icy mud balls". Comets are invisible except when they are near the Sun. Comets are small, fragile, irregularly shaped bodies composed of a mixture of non-volatile grains and frozen gases. They have highly elliptical orbits that bring them very close to the Sun and swing them deeply into space, often beyond the orbit of Pluto. The Comet structure consists of the nucleus, coma, hydrogen cloud and a dust tail. Comet structures are diverse and very dynamic, but they all develop a surrounding cloud of diffuse material, called a coma, that usually grows in size and brightness as the comet approaches the Sun. Usually a small, bright nucleus (less than 10 km in diameter) is visible in the middle of the coma. The coma and the nucleus together constitute the head of the comet.

As comets approach the Sun they develop enormous tails of luminous material that extend for millions of kilometers from the head, away from the Sun. When far from the Sun, the nucleus is very cold and its material is frozen solid within the nucleus. In this state comets are sometimes referred to as a "dirty iceberg" or "dirty snowball," since over half of their material is ice. When a comet approaches within a few AU of the Sun, the surface of the nucleus begins to warm, and volatiles evaporate. The evaporated molecules boil off and carry small solid particles with them, forming the comet's coma of gas and dust. When the nucleus is frozen, it can be seen only by reflected sunlight.

Meteor shower sometimes occur when the Earth passes thru the orbit of a comet. Some occur with great regularity: the Perseid meteor shower occurs every year between August 9 and 13 when the Earth passes thru the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Now we know that comets are lumps of ice and dust that periodically come into the center of the solar system from somewhere in its outer reaches, and that some comets make repeated trips. When comets get close enough to the Sun, heat makes them start to evaporate. Jets of gas and dust form long tails that we can see from Earth. These tails can sometimes be millions of miles long.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What is Paracetamol?

An individual is said to have fever if his or her body temperature exceeds 37 degree Celsius. Fever is a sign of illness. Fever causes a great deal of discomfort. Fever is usually a resultant of some viral attack. Fever is rarely complicated. Sometimes it could be accompanied by dehydration and convulsion. It is always recommended to wear light clothing and consume plenty of water when affected by fever.

Paracetamol is the most commonly used drug to treat fever. It is a mild but very effective drug. It is available in variety of names in the market. It is otherwise known as ‘Acetaminophen’. On consumption of paracetamol the body heat is reduced by sweating. Paracetamol can be used during pregnancy also as it is less toxic in nature. Sometimes high doses cause nausea, drowsiness etc., and sometimes may result in renal failure too. In such cases it is recommended to meet a doctor. Paracetamol also reduces body pain caused during fever.

It is available in the market in variety of dosages. For children it is available as syrup and in form of tablets for adults. Paracetamol injections are also available. When consumed in tablet form, on has to consume lot of water.

When being treated with paracetamol one has to restrict to the prescribed dosage. Avoid fasting while taking the tablet. Refrain from consuming alcohol during usage of paracetamol. Usage of paracetamol for children should be done only under medical advice and guidance.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

What is Pituitary Gland?

One cannot imagine how a tiny gland located at the base of our brains controls the entire growth of the body. The erratic functioning of the pituitary gland can result in abnormal growth. Sandy Allan, a young woman in the U.S.A grew to an abnormal height of 7 ft and 7 inches because of the excessive secretion of the gland. Excess secretion can also happen after full body maturity. In such cases, only the hands, head and feet overgrow. On the contrary, lack of secretion of the gland can result in stunted growth, as it happened in the case of a Dutch woman, Pauline Musters, who could grow to 23 inches only, even after full maturity.

Courtesy: Indian Express

Bears - Where can they be found

  • Bears can be found in all parts of the world except Antarctica, Africa and Australia.
  • When a bear cub is born, it is about the size of a squirrel.
  • Bears have excellent hearing capacity. Like dogs, they can hear very high pitches - far beyond anything humans can.
  • Bears see in colour and have a pretty good vision.
  • Bears have an excellent sense of smell. Their noses are extremely sensitive and they send messages to each other through airborne scent.
  • Bears run fast. They can exceed speeds of 60 kmph faster than any professional human athlete!
  • Bears are very, very strong. They can overturn massive rocks and logs and dig dens on tough mountain slopes.

Taste Buds

Anyone who is extremely fond of sweets is called sweet tooth, though the teeth does not identify the taste. Rather, its the tongue that does this function. The tongue is the most important organ which is wholly muscular and without any bones inside. It moves tactfully between the teeth without getting trapped. The granular lumps on the surface of the toungue are the taste buds having hair like fibers at the top ends. They get activated when we chew our food. They send impulses to the taste center in the brain which identifies the taste and helps us relish our food. The taste buds do not get activated if the food is dry or solid. Only when moistened wit saliva they are identified. The nose works in conjunction with the tongue in identifying the taste and relishing the food. the sensory nerves in the nose too send impulses to the brain and helps enhancing the pleasure of tasting and relishing food.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Dinosaurs lived on the earth millions of years ago even before the human life came into existence. They belong to the mezosoic era. The Dinosaurs are reptiles and most of them hhed from eggs. Predominantly the dinosaurs are herbivorous and fed on plants. Some kinds were carnivores also. Some dinosaurs were 100 ft long and abt 50 ft tall. They are land dewellers and never lived in water. There are no concrete proofs on how the dinosaurs sounded or how they mated. The fossils are found all over the world. They had thick bumpy skin. Its believed that they became extinct because of the environmental changes due to an asteroid that hit the earth. Its very difficult to acertain the sex of the dinosaur from its fossils. The oldest dinosaur is 'EORAPTOR'.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Dolphins belong to the family Delphinidae. They are very social creatures. They mainly rely on their sense of sound to understand the world around them.

Dolphins are carnivores. They feed on octopus, squids and fish. There are many varities of dolphins like Spotted Dolphin, Rough-toothed Dolphin,Bottlenose Dolphin, Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Spinner Dolphins. Dolphins are often found in small groups.

Dolphins possess a beak. The dolphin's skin is completely smooth allowing the dolphin to move easily through the water, and also reduce heat loss. Their skin may bear marks from other dolphins, due to playing or mating. Dolphins use their powerful tail in an up and down motion to move through the water. They also use their tails when hunting. Their teeth are interlocking rows of conical pegs, suitable for holding slippery fish. The dolphin's eyes produce a special slippery secretion which protects the eyes from foreign objects and water friction. Their foreheads slope almost uniformly to the tip of their beek. Dolphins breathe through their blowhole located at the top of their head.

Dolphins are mammals. Dolphins carry their young inside their womb and gestation is about 12 months for a bottlenose. The dolphin calves are born tail first and are nursed by the mother for one to two years. The mother helps the calf to catch her first breath.

The dolphin's anatomy helps it to swim very fast in water. Its smoothe slippery skin, wings and tail are desinged in a way to achieve high speeds.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lightning Arrestors

Benjamin Fraklin was fond of kite flying. One day he was flying a kite made of silk cloth mounted to a wooden cross and fastened using a steel wire. The tail of the kite was connected to a long metal string at the center. The end of the string was connected to a silk ribbon which he held in his hand. He was enjoying his kite flying and suddenly a thunderstom broke out. A severe lightening flashed across the dense clouds. Suddenly Benjamin Franklin experienced severe shock in his hands and noticed there were sparks from the metal string. He panicked and left the kite, Soon he saw the ribbon in flames.

He realised that the dark clouds were laden with electrical chargeand the subsequent lightning produced heavy electric currentwhich passed through the metal string causing sparks. fortunately for him the silk ribbon he was holding was abad conductor of electricity and he dropped the kite well in time. He also realised that when ever lightening occurs, the electric current produced has the tendency to pass down to the earth through some medium. This gave birth to the invention of the lightning arrestors that are installed in tall buildings.

He thought that if a conducting medium is installed in tall buildings, it would attact the lightning current and pass it to the ground without afecting the building. All the modern day arrestors make use of the same principle.

What is solar enrgy?

If any form of energy is available in abundance in India its solar energy. Now the concept of solar power plants is slowly catching up. The steam generated from the large sized solar heaterscan be used to actuate a steam turbine which generates electric power through generator. Recently the tourist island of Bangaram, in Laskshadweep Islands, has acquired a solar power plant. Hitherto, it had to depend solely on diesel power plants, for which diesel was being transported from the mainland at a high cost. The Bangalore based electronic division of BHEL unit had earlier installed a solar power plant of 10kw capacity. This wass upgraded recently to 50kw hybrid solar pwer plant to ensure full power supply needed for the island. BHEL has installed 8 such power plants till date.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Moon and the Gravitational force

Have you ever wondered how the moon is able to hand in the sky like a giant balloon and why it is not pulled down by the gravitational force of the earth? After all, the earth has a powerful gravitational force sufficient to pull the moon downwards towards it. Considering the fact that the gravity on the moon is only one-sixth of that of the earth, it should have come crashing towards the earth long ago. Why then has this not happened? Isn't the earth pulling the moon with all its might towards it. In which case how does the moon resist it?

Though the moon appears to be stationery, it is, in fact, revolving round the earth in a steady orbit. As per Newton's law, every revolving object gives rise to a centrifugal force which tends to push the object radially outward from the centre of the revolution. The moon is revolving at a specific speed which creates a centrifugal force exactly equal and opposite to the pull of the earth. Thus the forces are balanced and the moon neither tens to move away from the earth, nor towards it. You might then wonder why the moon appears to be motionless! Objects closer to us appear to move more swiftly than when they are away from us. For instance, an aircraft while taking off seems to move very fast in the runway, but when it flies high in a clear sky, it appears to move slowly. So, it is no wonder the moon, which is 384400 km away from us, appears to be motionless, though it is revolving around us at a high speed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What are Anagrams

Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, was also a writer. Wanting to make sure that his writings would not be appreciated solely because he was famous, he chose an alias HA Largelamb by mixing the alphabets of his name, A Graham Bell (This is called creating an anagram)

King louis XII of France was so fond of anagrams that he appointed Thomas Billon as the royal anagramatist. His full time job was to convert the names of the court nobles into funny anagrams, to amuse the king.

The Smallest Country

The Vatican is the smallest country in the world. It is an independent sovereign state within the bondaries of Rome, the capital of Italy. It became an independent state only after 1929. Right from inception, it has been the spiritual and administrative centre of the Roman Catholic Church. The city state has a daily newspaper, a railway station, and its own bank. It has an area of just 0.5 sq. km and a population of little over a thousand, though it attracts millions of visitors every year. The main attractions in the Vatican are the Michaelandgelo Frescoes in the Sistin Chapel and the imposing facade of St. Peter.