Friday, December 25, 2009

Making History through Time Capsules!

In the ancient civilizations human beings were eager to communicate with their future generations of the world about their deeds and history. For that they stored goods and information inside Pyramids or wrote the information on
stones or metals as inscriptions. These all objects still exist as wonders, and continue to be wonders. Present day human beings are also eager to communicate like this but in different ways. We bury Time Capsules down inside the Earth. These capsules

Friday, December 18, 2009

Unresistible sweet Madras Thorn!

There is a tree that is liked by many animals, humans and insects. It is the Madras Thorn (Manila Tamarind, Sweet Tamarind, Pithecellobium dulce, 'Kodukkapuli' in Tamil). Goats are attracted by its leaves as they are tasty to them. Parrots, crows and squirrels find its pod as a sweet fruit. Children and adults too eat the pods as snacks. The pods that hang

Monday, December 14, 2009

Insects evolving to the world of fame!

Curious creatures are these ants, bees, wasps and termites. In and near every household of the world we meet one or more of them at any given time. All these come under one Order, Hymenoptera. There are much similarities than some dissimilarities among them.
They are mostly social in nature and build colonies for themselves to dwell. Basically, in common (for example, ants) they have Workers, Soldiers, Kings (Drones) and Queens as members in their colonies. The Workers and Soldiers are sterile, wingless and are females; they develop from unfertilized eggs as diploid members. Winged males (kings or drones) are haploid and fertile!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Desiccants protect and preserve!

I had wondered earlier about a small packet found inside the bottle containing Vitamin capsules.
It was made of cotton cloth with some sand-like contents inside it. It also bore the printed words: THROW AWAY. DO NOT EAT. It is the Desiccant packet that keeps the bottle

Friday, November 20, 2009

Saffron for Fair Complexion!

In marriage market
girls with fair complexion are in demand here, than the boys. But pregnant mothers expect their baby to be fair complexioned whether it is male or female! For that they take additives in their diet

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Orienting to the Garden Lizard!

As a child I came to know about a wonder thing that kept on raising itself above the ground
and dropping down to the ground. When there was a disturbance I was able to identify it to be a living thing - it ran away using its legs! It is the Oriental Garden Lizard ( known also as Crested Tree Lizard, Calotes versicolor, 'Onaan' in

Friday, November 6, 2009

Koel is to sing its song here!

A bird falls down from the roof of the building onto its floor. It does not fly or run away. But simply sits down as if it is brooding with fluffed up feathers. This happened in the Physics
Laboratory of my college
in the year 1971! This white streaked bird is a chick of the Asian Koel (Cuckoo, Eudynamys scolopaceus, 'Kuil' in Tamil). At first I thought it to be a sick bird of prey. But later on I

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Magic Golden bangles of Chemistry!

In my college Chemistry laboratory there are racks and racks of small reagent bottles containing various chemical solutions. As a curious chemistry student then, I used to see the reactions as when a reagent is added to another one or multiple reagents added to a single one in a test tube. It was really adventurous to note the various chemical reactions taking place - change of color, production of colored solution from colorless one, precipitation of solids as a magic from a solution and colored vapors coming out with specific odors! A wonderful reaction to which one of our lecturers

Friday, October 23, 2009

The mute FM Pocket Radio Receiver!

In the year 1970, I tried to tune in a new Pocket radio
receiver. But I could not hear any voice or music with it as there was no radio station found in its band. The radio was a present from a German penfriend to my brother - in- law. But how can a receiver produce sound if ...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Spider Pill to cut Medical Bill!

Excitement awaits for doctors whenever something disturbs patient from within his abdomen. If his abdomen is cut open and viewed they could stop the disturbance; but the procedure is both invasive and risky. Now a less invasive and novel way to view the inner wall of intestine has been devised by the Italian Scientists using a small device
called 'Spider Pill.'

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wonderful Peacock Flower Tree!

As a school going boy I know about a tree that bears beautiful flowers. This tree that was present in my school had its ground all strewn with its reddish yellow flowers.
We used to chew these flower petals to get the sour taste out of them! ...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sleeping Rhythm set by Biological Clock!

Every day we maintain our body and mind to stay fresh, alert and healthy by subjecting or submitting ourselves to this activity (of inactivity)! I mean here our Sleeping! We sleep in about one third of our lifetime – to do our best and clever activities, when we are awake. This wonderful sleeping mechanism is essential to all animals including birds, reptiles and fish. Sleep deprivation makes both the body and mind activities dull and makes all susceptible to accidents, and also to illnesses.

This sleeping time is set by the Biological Clock present inside the brain (Hypothalamus). It is maintained by the Circadian Rhythm that is governed by the light and darkness cycles found in the Earth. But the subtle mechanism of this clock is altered by our activities, desires, excitement and drugs! But even after these alterations this clock reminds (warns) us always about sleeping, and succeeds in making us fall asleep in the next possible instant. If we ignore it repeatedly and put this clock in ‘Snooze,’ we will surely land up in problems such as memory loss, irritability, tremors, headache, mental illnesses, Diabetes and Heart diseases.

There are two types of stages in a sleeping time: Non-Rapid Eye Movement and Rapid Eye Movement stages (NREM & REM). These two stages follow one another and are repeated in about five cycles. The NREM sleep lasts for about 90 minutes and the REM for 20 minutes. NREM sleep is the deeper sleep in which all the systems slow down, and bed-wetting and sleep talking also occur! But in REM, there are rapid movements of eyeballs from side to side and dreams that we remember at morning!
Mechanical engines perform well when given maintenance such as dust removing, giving rest and oiling. Similarly, our body and mind are also maintained daily by the sleep by itself: we need not take any effort in it ourselves!
This wonderful sleeping mu
st be desired and undergone by each one of us, and should not be ignored by each one of us for the health of all of us! 


Saturday, September 26, 2009

The inspiring Joey of Kangaroo!

Usually we see a big baby delivered from a huge animal. But in 1980s I read about an animal of six feet height,
that delivers its bean like baby having only two inches as length! ...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Killifish eggs adapt to environment!

We see many adaptations
in animals to their environment . Do you know that the eggs of a fish adapt to its environment? This fish is the Killifish (Cynolebias constanciae). It lives in rivers and streams in Brazil, South America. When there is a dry season, the pond in which it lives dries up and so, it dies in it. But its eggs escape from the season's effects, as they are preserved inside the moist mud of the pond. When the rainy season starts, these eggs sense the change in the environment and hatch out into fry (young fish)!

This Killifish is also kept as pet in aquarium. It is five centimeter in length. In aquarium, to breed this fish a dry season and a rainy season are mimicked to trick its eggs into hatching out! The life span of this fish is about two years and it is also used in controlling mosquito breeding, as it feeds on mosquito larvae also.

We have seen earlier in one of my older posts about the Lung Fish that estivates inside the mud. Here we have now seen the intelligent and wonderful adaptation of these eggs of Killifish too!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Keep cool yourself with Refrigerator!

Being in the tropical region the 'ice' has been a wonder matter since my childhood. Then I tasted the sweetness and the coldness of the 'ice fruit' purchased from cart man . We used to peep into the ice factory with much enthusiasm how this wonder is being made. Then came the 'ice-making chest' in the medical shops. I had placed the water inside the ice tray of its freezer compartment and later opened the freezer with amazement to see the water frozen into ice cubes. This 'ice chest' was nothing but our Refrigerator! It works on the principle of compressed gas on being released out, produces coolness at the site of its release. At school we were explained this with an example: 'while releasing the air from the bicycle tube by taking out the tube valve, place your finger tip on the mouth of the air releasing tube. You shall now feel the coolness!' Yet another example was also given: 'a drop of spirit put on the skin produces coolness by its evaporation into the air!' Similarly, inside the refrigerator (fridge) a gas like Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) is used. It is first compressed to its liquid state and then released into in its gaseous state, when it cools down our food kept in the fridge, taking out the heat from them!

Every place we go, we see this fridge being used. It preserves food preventing wastage by decay and enables us to store our food purchased in bulk quantity. It also gives us cool drinks that are inevitably preferred in summer to keep ourselves cool. Can we now imagine a life without this wonderful refrigerator?!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sandgrouse has special care!

Sometimes, even at rain fed
areas farmers have to bear with patience, and adapt to the lesser rainfall in their area. It is needless to say then about the desert-like 'no rain area.' Out of many adaptations made by animals in such areas, a wonderful parental care is noteworthy here. Sandgrouse (Pteroclididae) flies miles to find out a water hole, dips in it, and flies back with its water-soaked feathers. The thirsty and waiting chicks suck water from its feathers and quench their thirst! For this activity the sand grouse has feathers in its belly that are specially adapted to absorb water and retain it. It has also got its legs feathered!

This sand grouse that has a pigeon-like small head, is a seed eater. It is monogamous. Both the male and the female share incubating duties. Chicks that hatch out from the eggs begin to feed for themselves at once.

This sand grouse is a wonder bird with its wonder and special parental care!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Burns cured by cool water magic!

Burns cause damage to the skin and disfigure the person if it is severe. But in a milder degree of burns I achieved quickly the restoration of my skin to its normalcy without taking any medicine or applying any ointment! I had a small burns on the outer skin of my index finger giving me much pain and burning sensation. I immediately inserted the finger in the cool water falling down from a water tap. I did this for more than fifteen minutes ( I adjusted the water flow to a thin stream). When I removed the finger and examined it, I found that there was no sign of a burn or the pain! Yes, it is a cool water magic to cure or prevent any skin damage that could be sustained due to burns!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Phyllanthus niruri - Treating fruit under leaf!

We see that flowers and fruits are usually found on a separate stalk (peduncle) of a plant. There is a plant that bears its flowers and fruits underneath its leaves! This plant is also a renowned medicinal plant used in Indian Medicine. It is the Carry Me Seed (Phyllanthus niruri, 'Keezhl vaa nelli' in Tamil). It bears green flowers and fruits (tiny capsules with seeds) under its compound leaves in rows - and hence its Tamil name. This tropical plant is seen in Southern India almost at all its plains. Whenever a person has the disease, Jaundice ('Manja Kaamaalai' in Tamil), people collect this plant and give its extract to cure it. This type of treatment (Siddha) is also given with the allopathic treatment for a speedy recovery from the illness. The plant is also said to possess anti -hepatotoxic (removing liver toxins) and many other medicinal properties.

A wonder medicinal plant that is within the reach of hand - in backyard waiting to treat human illnesses!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Migrating Wonder, the Dragonfly!

I find each year that the flying wonder, the Dragonfly (Pantala flavescens, 'Tattam Poochi' in Tamil) appears just before the North East monsoon, when dark clouds are here (in South India) on the sky, masking the sun.It heralds the onset of monsoon. I wonder how this insect can migrate from South India to South East Africa via Maldives, and then return back to South India! It is said that the dragonflies cover up a distance of about 12000 miles in this sojourn! You can read about this wonderful feat clicking on here -> Dragonfly could be greatest migrator.
In this ensuing autumn I think I will attend a 'Send Off' for greeting the dragonflies "Bon voyage!" and 'Receive' them back after their cruise on the seas!

Related Post:
Flying Wonder since the ages!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Unique respiration in birds

Flying birds have unique, efficient and special respiration in them as one of their flight adaptations. Unlike human lungs, their lungs are connected to the Air spaces in bones through the Posterior air sacs. During inspiration the fresh air enters their lungs, Posterior air sacs and then the Bone air spaces. During expiration the used air comes out of the lungs; but at the same time the fresh air from the air sacs and the bone spaces enters the lungs (again). Thus there is a constant supply of fresh air to the birds' lungs in both inspiration and expiration!

Birds have this special and wonderful mechanism in their respiration to keep them all active through out their flight.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Flying Fish bypasses Evolution period!

It is said that land living, airborne birds developed from aquatic fish by evolution. Some present day fish surpass with the reptiles, and compete over birds to take to air by themselves from the seas as if they are birds now! Yes, the fish I refer to here is the Flying Fish (Exocoetus volitans). It is found in warm oceans such as Indian, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This fish 'flies' away to escape from its predators. Actually in doing so, it leaps out of the sea water and glides above the water surface for a short distance of about sixty meters. For this, first it uses its tail fin to leap out of water and then spreads its strong pectoral fins to glide through in the air!

It is a wonder fish that bypasses or skips even the Evolution (period) to take off to the air!

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Horned Treehopper to remember about!

In our boyhood days, between our studies we used to explore the environment in the school play ground. We were examining the branches of Mesquite trees (Prosopis juliflora): ants were crawling up and down busily. There were also some black insects sitting on the path of these ants. They had a queer appearance with horn - like extensions on their heads. In side view, they appeared like a bull (student community called it as 'Yerrumbu Maaddu' in Tamil, meaning ant's cow!). This insect is the Horned Treehopper (Centrotus cornutus, Thorn bug). It feeds on the sap of the plants. This sap on digestion is converted into sweet honeydew and excreted out. Ants are attracted towards this honeydew naturally and they extract it for themselves. In exchange ants provide the hopper the protection from its predators.

As I approach this treehopper to hold it between my fingers it runs around the branch and hides itself behind it or flies away. Even if I get it and hold, its thorn - like horns do not injure me, even nowadays! A wonder insect to remember about and show it to the younger generations!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Fats determine your health!

Consuming fats in excess in any form whether it is oil, animal fat or dairy products, it surely adds the fats to the body increasing its weight. Apart from this fat deposition, the fats are also seen in blood, causing clogging in the blood vessels and hence, blocking the free blood flow to the organs of action such as heart, kidney, brain and muscles etc. This not only impairs the action of these organs but also makes them to strain at work producing all the illnesses such as Heart attack and Stroke. There are many types of fats among which some are good to the health and others are not - bad. From where do they come into the body?

Saturated fatty acids:Dairy products, Lard, Butter, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Chocolates .... Bad, when you take routinely.
Poly unsaturated fatty acids - cis (PUFA): Sunflower oil, Safflower oil, Fish oil .... Good.
Poly unsaturated fatty acids - trans (Transfats): Artificially hydrogenated oils - Margarine .... Bad.
Mono saturated fatty acids: Nuts, Olive oil, Groundnut oil, Sesame oil .... Good.
Triglycerides: Coconut oil, Palm oil, Animal fats .... Bad, if these raise this fat to 150 mg/dL and above in blood.
Low density Lipoprotein (LDL): Animal fats, Plant oils, Chocolates, Margarine .... Bad, if LDL is 100 mg/dL & above.
High density Lipoprotein (HDL): Fish oil, Sunflower oil, safflower oil ... Good, if HDL is 60 mg/dL and above.
Cholesterol: Animal fats, Cheese, Egg yolk, Chocolates, Palm oil, Coconut oil .... Bad, if it is 240 mg/dL and above.

In addition to choosing the good and the best fat diet for the prevention of Heart disease and the Stroke, we should also add the following:
1) Doing Aerobic exercises
2) Taking Anti-oxidants
3) Weight losing

Let us live a
wonderful and healthy life by lowering these fats in our diet, and the body!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Love Sign, Taj Mahal!

One's childhood days are precious. Children love all the things they come across with immaculate mind. It is needless to say about their love towards humans - their parents, peer groups, friends and ..... the boy/girl they see or meet! Family functions, festivals unite such tender hearts at such a tender age: one such a love in an Emperor's palace was continued into adult life, then into marriage and then even after death in a tomb or monument, The Taj Mahal of Agra! This monument is seen till today as the wonderful expression of Love to be seen by the whole world - all the races of mankind and its descendants, century after century.

Taj Mahal as seen in pictures convey you nothing spectacular. Only when you see it in front of you - as you walk towards it at Agra, its architectural magnificence and hence, the magnitude of its creator's intention can be felt in your mind!
Taj Mahal, the wonder of the world was built by the Mughal Emperor,
Shah Jahan (from 1632 AD, and completed in 1653 AD) - as a sign of his love towards his dead wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Now it houses the tombs containing bodies of both these lovers. It has been built with white marble entirely! On full moon days, at night it enthralls all who see it in the shower of moonlight, and makes them feel the 'wonder' about this Wonder of the World!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wonders in Indian Coral Tree and in its seeds!

The Indian Coral Tree (Erythrina variegata, ‘Mul Murungai’ or ‘Sudukaai Maram’ in Tamil) blooms in the cool winter months of February and March, here in India. The flowers are bright red in color. They are seen grouped as bananas are seen. They are rich with nectar. Both their color and nectar attract many birds, like Humming birds and many insects like Honey bees. Whenever my Coral tree blooms, I find the honey bees build their hive even inside scooter’s exhaust pipe! These bees have colonized near the bountiful tree:

The tree is seen blooming even on the hills (for example, the nearby ‘Mahalinga malai’). It’s trunk is studded with short thorns that nobody climbs on it. Even wood cutters are reluctant to cut its wood for fuel!
Though I know about this Coral tree only in the recent years, I know well about its seeds in my early childhood itself:

Our group of children used to take out these seeds from the pods of this tree and brush hard one of it against the rough ground surface once or twice and press it on one another’s skin unwarily – to give the intense burning heat sensation that it produces!

This wonder tree with its seeds enchants me throughout my life! 

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cut Coral tree grows!

If you sow a seed, water and see tiny plant coming out, you get limitless bliss and pat yourself having done a wonderful job – as a child and also as an adult. You could also have imagined a tree coming out of a seed, as I did! Yes, I saw my tree in three years, as I imagined:

It was in full bloom and its flowers appeared like ’flames in the forest.” My tree is The Indian Coral Tree (Erythrina variegata, ‘Mul Murungai’ or ‘Sudukaai Maram’ in Tamil). But one day in its third year of bloom its canopy was cut down – for its growing up towards the sky (!), to avoid its touching the overhead electric lines:

I felt so sad about it for about two months till I saw tender leaves coming out of the stump:

You see here as it appears now:

I hope to see the wonderful reddish bloom once again on it in a year. Let us see!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Black Drongo chases Crows!

Still I remember the song (call) given by this bird about forty years ago! It is so melodious that it is pleasant to hear it every time. This bird’s monotonous call can be heard first at dawn before any bird could start calling. This bird is our Black Drongo (King Crow, Dicrurus macrocercus, ‘Karichaan Kuruvi or ‘Rettaivaal Kuruvi’ in Tamil). Anyone can identify this small black bird with its longer and forked tail. It sits higher on perches like electric lines, or rides on cow’s back, darting down now and then to catch insects and grasshoppers seen on the ground. Its delicacies are the Flying Termites at Monsoon season. And at summer time it is also seen near burning grasslands catching flies that escape out of fire.
This bird lays small eggs in cup like nest in April and the eggs hatch out in fifteen days, and the young ones fly out on the sixteenth day!
The bird chases away in flight even crows or mynahs that come near its nest! In doing so it makes a lot of noise alerting other birds.
I have seen this wonder black bird sitting on electric lines even at dusk, and near street lights catching insects at night!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Laminated Glass prevents injury!

Each time a glass cup or a plate is broken into pieces I take care that these do not injure the person handling them to dispose off. Still I see persons getting glass piece pricks into their feet as they walk on the rural roads. Nowadays there is also a change: I see smaller, regular and similar glass pieces (that resemble large sugarcane crystals) lying on the road when there is an accident, or on the fight scene in movie pictures! These pieces come out of Laminated Safety Glass (also called Automotive Glass). This special glass is a toughened and high strength glass. When shattered it holds together its broken pieces. It also prevents itself from breaking down into large sharp pieces even when it falls down from a height. Inside this glass there is an interlayer of Polyvinyl butyral (PVP). When it is broken the two outer layers of (broken) glass sheets are kept bonded only by this inner layer!

It is a wonder glass that doesn’t injure any one even when it is broken – unlike our heart!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bagworms with jerky movements!

I often see some tiny spindle-shaped objects move on the floor of my room near the wall. They move in jerks. If I touch them they stop and restart to move on, as I take off my hand. They have the grey flattened casing around them with the head peeping out. (Here they resemble a just born human baby encircled with clothes all around!). These are the Bagworms (larvae of Bagworm Moths, Clania crameri). They have this bag or the case made of silk, and often have leaves or sticks stuck all around it. This nest-like encasing is said to be a protective mechanism against predators or the unfavorable environment (That’s why they have moved into my room escaping the hotness of summer!).

Hatching out from the eggs these larvae feast on the leaves voraciously. Male larvae grow up and attach to the twigs of trees and remain suspended pupating till winged adult moth comes out of it. But the female larvae stay as such inside their bags throughout their lives without developing into a winged adult!

It is a wonder larva of Bagworm Moths lurking inside its bag to grow and live!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Investigate this Toad Mystery!

I was wondering the other day at morning: what creature’s scat (animal dropping) could it be! It was black, shiny, smooth and of light weight in the shape of a capsule, lying on the garden. Could it be that of a snake or a bandicoot? I saw the scats each morning and was bewildered.

One day I crushed a scat into pieces with a stick: I found the shiny black heads of ants of various sizes in a brownish matrix! I was astonished. Could it be that of a toad?

Connecting the places where the trails of scats were found led me to the junk room where the toads usually lurk at daytime. Yes, those scats were those of Toads only (Bufo fowleri, ‘Theaurai’ in Tamil). Here in Tamil Nadu, there is a belief that if one kills a toad the person will be contracting the disease, Leprosy! I had tried to kill these toads: but I am often cheated by them. After an hour of beating and ‘killing,’ when I turn up to see the toad’s body it would have disappeared! Toads cannot be killed: they escape by playing dead. But they have to be beaten to pieces for that – as they attract snakes into the garden. Toads have been described in Puranic Tamil songs that they are seen even inside stones! They easily burrow into the sand and aestivate – to escape the unbearable hot and dry summer; their extra moist skin saves them from being dried up. They emerge out of the sand as soon as the monsoon starts.
This wonder toad camouflages to merge with the surrounding – with its brownish skin coloration!

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