Sunday, December 23, 2012

Refreshing drink - Tender Coconut Water!

In India one can easily identify kiosks selling soft drinks by the bunches of tender coconuts hanging on the front of them. Even in winter these coconuts are available with them, since the water present in them has many other uses apart from being taken as a natural beverage. This Tender Coconut Water ('Elani thannee' in Tamil) found inside the greenish or orange tender coconuts ('Elanee') cools down the body in hot summer; so it is in much demand.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The ubiquitous foam plastic - Thermocol!

In 1970s, I went to an exhibition conducted by a Polytechnic Institute located at Madurai, South India. There at one of the stalls, students were demonstrating to the public a block of white material that they cut by a heated wire! The hot nichrome wire stretching between two poles cut the block when it was applied from above and pressed down on it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goose bumps by smaller Erector pili muscles!

We notice occasionally that we have raised pimple-like areas on our skin each with a hair in its centre, when we enter into the chillness of outdoors or when we are excited much on seeing 'hair-raising' scenes. These raised skin areas are all well known as goose bumps (or goose flesh). How they are made?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Green seed pod? No, Green Vine Snake!

In childhood, we used to talk about the exciting stories that we heard - like that of snakes and ghosts. Out of the snake stories there was one that of a green snake that strikes at eyes when one approaches it! It is the Green Vine Snake (Ahaetulla nasuta, Green whip snake, 'Patcha paamboo' or 'Kankotthi paamboo' in Tamil).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Colourful Coppersmith Barbet

One day at forenoon a curious sound was heard somewhere nearby my house. It was like this: 'tok . tok . tok' repeated for a long time. On careful search outdoors, it revealed the source of it: a bird called Coppersmith Barbet (Megalaima haemacephala, Crimson-breasted barbet). It is called so, because it has its 'call' that resembles the sound produced by a copper smith when he strikes a metal with hammer. It is seen as a small bird like a sparrow; but on closer view its bright colours are revealed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hippopotamus lives as a frog!

As school kids, we wondered about an animal that lives in water. We imagined it then as a buffalo lying in tank and taking bath. It is the Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius, 'Neer Yaanai' in Tamil meaning 'water elephant'). When we saw it in a zoo then, it resembled a large sized pig, that is lying in mud avoiding sun's heat! Submerged in water, it was also like a frog or a crocodile, showing only its nostrils, eyes and ears above the water surface.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Moon's play - Waxing and Waning!

In the past adamant children were fed by mothers at dinnertime showing the mesmerizing moon on the sky; children too stopped their crying and chewed in the food seeing the charm of the moon. Children seem to be indulging in these thoughts: why this moon is not stable and goes on changing day by day - waxing sometimes and waning sometimes! OK. Now, why there are these waxing and waning in Moon?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Playing with this Blister Beetle!

Each day one will see at least an insect where ever he is in this world. But one insect will make anyone remember about it at anytime by its peculiar habit as it is to me! This insect is a beetle that sprays pungent gas whenever one irritates it by teasing it. This is the Common Indian Red spotted Blister Beetle (Mylabris pustulata, Orange Beetle, 'Pithaan Pithaan' in Tamil).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sparkling light-show by Firefly Squids!

I have seen worms glow, and flies flash lights on and off at night. Such natural powers are also seen in deep sea creatures. Such a creature is a squid that flashes deep blue light from all of its body! It is called Firefly Squid (Watasenia scintillans). It lives in West Pacific Ocean at a depth of about 1200 feet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aromatic repellant, the Mothballs!

In my childhood, one object drew my attention much by its smell! Even at these present days I could smell and detect its presence in any other materials that had contact with it: we can detect it by its characteristic aromatic odour - even when this odour is present in its lowest concentration! This object is white and round; and is commonly seen in households. It is nothing but our Mothball. Its content chemical is either Naphthalene or Para-dichlorobenzene. Its Tamil names are 'Mannenaikundu', 'Patchaa urundai', 'Anthurundai'.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Genetic test for unborn baby!

Our world's bright future depends on the health of children born already and also on that of children unborn. Children born with Genetic disorders suffer with disabilities life long. If the genetic disorders are diagnosed in the unborn baby, we we could either prevent or treat them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Scary Brahminy blind snake

My parents, sisters and brothers were cautious in my childhood and safeguarded me in every aspect, as I had been born as a precious child to my parents, then:). They used to point to everything that might harm me and warned me about it, so that I could avoid it and hence its harm to me, by its identification in future! One such a thing was a 'worm' that is seen on the floor of the house.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird!

Earlier I had wondered and boasted about the presence of a tiniest bird in my garden. But it was not a bird and it turned out to be a moth. Now we see here the real smallest living bird found in this world. It is the
Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae). Its size is only 5cm. It is just like an insect. It can hover on a spot as a helicopter does in midair.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sweetish sour wonder in Tamarind tree!

Nowadays, whenever I look at a particular tree species my mouth waters - the past experience with tasting of its fruits influences me like this! But in my childhood days I used to look at these trees with fear - as the elders had told stories about ghosts that hang upside down on them! This tree is nothing but our
Tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica, 'Pulia maram' in Tamil). Though it is native to Africa it is found in many countries from Asia to America. Here in Tamil Nadu, India, it is found as avenue trees and all along the state roadways.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day and night cycles on Earth

We live on Earth depending mostly on daylight. After sunset we stop our main activities, take rest and go to sleep at night. This refreshes, repairs or rejuvenates us for the next day activities. These daily activities prolong our life on Earth. How these day and night are formed in a day's time?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Being alert about Honey Bee!

At my younger age, as a honey bee came near me with its buzzing sound, I withdrew back my head and shoulders fearing its stinging. But I haven't been stung by any of its species - when I remained calm without extending arm to push it away. Bees are always busy with their allotted work and ignore us unless irritated. Then my peer group alerted that when a bee stings, it leaves its stinger on the victim's skin and it dies next; to abate the harm done by this stinging one should apply slaked lime on the spot. Are these true? Yes, I find it to be true for the
Honey Bee ('Theanee' in Tamil, Apis mellifera); but not for other species!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Breeding-tie in dogs

Frequently we see dogs move in groups, as they too are social as we are
. But sometimes, especially during the monsoon season, when dogs are seen standing as a pair they are shouted at and driven away. We do not like their such pairing on the streets and dislike it. But anxious people have a quick look at them and turn their heads away. These dogs after their pairing or mating cannot separate themselves from each other. Most of the people move away pitying on them, but also with a puzzling question in their mind's corner, 'Poor things, why they cannot separate themselves now?'

Friday, June 15, 2012

Liquid metal - the element Mercury!

When I was a school student, I applied a drop of (metal) mercury on the (metal) lead found on the joint of a divider instrument of my geometry box. A greyish white material resembling holy ash kept on coming out from it like in a magic show; even when I wiped it off it continued its coming out! This is the Amalgam that is formed by such dissolving of Lead element (Pb) in Mercury element (Hg).

Friday, June 8, 2012

The tiniest muscle, Stapedius, protects hearing!

In one of my earlier blog posts I had intimated about the smallest bone in our body. Now we shall see here which one is the smallest skeletal muscle. There are two of it, one in each of our two middle ears. It is the Stapedius muscle. Its length is 1.27 mm only!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Living on the tree; a bird? No, Indian Tree Frog!

Every year I receive a leaping visitor. It alerts us about its visit by scaring us with its repeated landing-on-sounds! This brownish yellow animal is found often in moist bathroom buckets or clinging on to one of ceiling corners. On seeing me approach, it jumps, climbs on slippery walls and falls down; hastens to hide itself by cuddling in a corner. This visitor is our Tree Frog (Common Indian Tree Frog, Chunam Tree Frog, Polypedates maculatus).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Peeping into the fame of Great Hornbill!

In my childhood, I saw only sparrow, crow or mynah. Then whenever I visited a zoo, I wondered much on seeing much larger birds, naturally. One among those larger birds is our Great Hornbill (Great Indian Hornbill, 'Periya iruvayen' in Tamil, Buceros bicornis). It has a massive curved beak like elephants have their trunks.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Aromatic herbs - Holy Basil & Lime Basil

There are two different varieties of plants in my backyard that grow by themselves and have aromatic leaves in common. Both of them have medicinal properties and are very popular in India. What are they?
Holy Basil and American Lime Basil. Yes, they have also some different and distinct properties.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hide & seek by this wandering star - the Venus!

In my childhood I wondered and was also attracted towards many things. One such thing is today's topic. Before sun rise, I found often a brighter and bigger star shining on the clear dark sky. It enchanted me much. On some other days I found it missing. I wondered again where it had gone. On inquiring elders, I was informed about its name - Morning Star ('Vidi velli' in Tamil). But I could not get its whereabouts.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Worm that walks - the Millipede!

As school students we used to exclaim at 'worms that walked' with their legs that moved in a wavy pattern! We called them 'Train worms' as they resemble a train (Railvandi poochi' in Tamil).

We also poked them with a stick to see them how they coil round themselves and remain dormant! It is the Millipede (Yellow-spotted millipede, 'Maravattai' or ' Railvandi poochi' in Tamil, Harpaphe haydeniana).

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trees with different responses!

In my childhood, I have been shown the plant, ' Touch-me-not' as a wonder, whenever our family visited Courtallam (the hilly and holly tourist centre, The Spa of Southern India). Now I am able to see that the tropical trees too exhibit such response to environmental stimuli! See here how this Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) responds to the touch by rain drops:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Incandescent bulb to light up now!

A round transparent glass that produces light - yes, it is the incandescent bulb that was the wonder in my school days. I even conducted experiments with it by connecting it to a battery cell (1.5v) to get the light from it! Even if a bulb got fused out I never ceased to conduct such experiments on it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

See 'Breaking Dawn' to get Seizures!

is a disorder of the Central Nervous System where seizures (fits) are produced. Yet in most of the cases its causes are not known. But one of
the causes has been found out recently as there were fits in viewers seeing a movie! The Twilight's movie, 'Breaking Dawn' - Part One is that movie.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ice Age plant, Campion, regenerated!

Out of cloning technology we had seen Dolly rise out of its existing species; we had also seen Jurassic Dinosaurs rise out from eggs in a movie. And now we see an extinct flowering plant that was in Ice Age (30000 years back) rise out (regenerated/ resurrected) - from its own fruit tissue preserved in permafrost of Siberia!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lizard wife of snake - the Skink!

In my childhood days I was warned about a slithering lizard inhabiting wastelands. It is still believed that its presence means that there is also its 'consort' nearby - snake! That lizard has also a warning red line line on its sides extending to its tail end. It is the Common Sun Skink (
Mabuya multifasciata, 'Paambu Rani' or 'Paambaranai' in Tamil).

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Bird making a booming call - the Crow Pheasant!

When I was a child, elders told me to listen to the sounds coming out from a nearby grove and alerted me about it like this: 'it is the sound given by a snake (cobra) as it is now incubating its eggs; don't enter into the grove' For many years I was made timid by this sound as my peers were also done so - until I found out myself that it is not a snake making that sound but a bird! Yes, it is the C
row Pheasant (Southern Coucal, Centropus parroti, 'Sembotthu' in Tamil).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rats living in community - Naked mole rats!

We see ants, termites and bees live a social life sharing tasks among themselves. But a mammal too leads such a eusocial life! It is the
Naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glabra, Desert mole rat, Sand puppy). It is a burrowing rodent that lives underground in East African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia). Its adaptation to desert life is surprising.

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