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.