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Why can t we bounce radar signal off the sun and determine 1 au directly

 

On April 7, 1959, a three-member team led by Stanford electrical engineer Von R. Eshleman recorded the first distinguishable echo of a radar signal bounced off the sun. A.S.Ganesh tells you more about Eshleman and how his team achieved this success…

When we generally say “reach for the stars,” we use it as a phrase to convey having high or ambitious aims. Some people, however, reach for the stars in the real sense. Stanford electrical engineer Von R. Eshleman was one of them and the star he reached out for was our sun.

Born into a farming community in Ohio, U.S. on September 17, 1924, Eshleman attended the General Motors Institute of Technology in Flint, Michigan, while still being a high school student. Similarly, even before earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University in 1949, he started attending Ohio State University.

Intrigued by wave science

Before this, he had a stint with the navy during World War II, working as an electrical technician from 1943-46. It was during this period that he was drawn towards wave science. Intrigued by both sonar and radar, Eshleman had the idea that he could bounce radio signals off the surfaces of the sun and the moon, in order to study their hidden structures. While his own ship-based experiments of the time weren’t successful, they paved the way for his future research.

Having received his master’s degree from Stanford in 1950, he went on to earn his Ph.D. in 1952. He was recruited by Stanford to be a research professor, a position he held until 1957, when he was promoted to the teaching faculty as an Assistant Professor (Associate Professor back then). By 1962, he had not only managed to bounce radar off the sun, but also became a full professor at Stanford.

The same war that had planted the idea in Eshleman’s mind for bouncing radar off surfaces also saw the rapid development of radar. Bouncing radar off distant surfaces wasn’t an idea exclusive to Eshleman. Radar was successfully bounced off the moon in the 1940s itself and the first attempts to bounce radar off Venus were made in the late 1950s, albeit with mixed results.

16-minute round-trip

Eshleman’s three-member team, including Lt. Col. Robert C. Barthle and Dr. Philip Gallagher, achieved success in bouncing radar off the sun on April 7, 1959. The tests, in fact, were run on April 7, 10 and 12, with an average time of 16 minutes and 32 seconds spent for the signals to travel the 149 million km distance between the Earth and the sun and back again.

The researchers needed many months to confirm that they had indeed succeeded and when they finally made their announcement public with a press conference in February 1960, it was with 99.999% certainty.

Coded pulse

Eshleman had explained to the gathered media persons that the radar antenna consisted of 5 miles of wire that was spread out across over 10 acres of land, and a 40,000 watt transformer.

Every time the test was conducted, a coded pulse was beamed at the sun in 30-second bursts. This was done to enable identification once it returned after bouncing off the sun.

While 40,000 watts were sent out, atmospheric and spatial dissipation meant that only about 100 watts reached the sun. Similar losses during the return journey meant that only a miniscule amount of energy returned, making detection difficult. The task was further complicated by the fact that this small amount of energy was now part of the vast amounts of similar energy that the sun itself radiates. The other wavelengths. By spending over six months with some of the best computers of the time, they were able to conclude that the coded pulse that they sent out was among the radio emissions of the sun.

In 1962, Eshleman, along with Stanford colleagues, founded the Stanford Center for Radar Astronomy to oversee radio experiments. Even though he began his career in radar astronomy, Eshleman is now best remembered for his pioneering work using spacecraft radio signals for precise measurements in planetary exploration. While he briefly served as Deputy Director of the Office of Technology Policy and Space Affairs in the U.S. Department of State, he was most comfortable among academic circles and hence returned to Stanford, where he flourished. Eshleman died in Palo Alto on September 22, 2017, five days after turning 93.

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What is the Pandemic Accord

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: When the world was shaken by Covul-19 which shredded economies. Overturned societies, crippled health systems, and killed millions of people-many countries came together and decided to build a framework of binding commitments to stop such such trauma from ever happening again. This happened in 2021

Since then, countries have been holding talks to make this happen but the talks have been caught in many issues. The final round of talks is happening this week, but countries are not even close to maching a deal that is acceptable to all parties.

World Health Organization [3:50 pm, 8/4/2024] IIFL: chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has repeatedly warned nations that “everyone will have to give something, or no one will get anything.”

 

Who wants what?

European countries – who led calls for a pandemic treaty want more money invested in pandemic prevention, while African nations want the knowledge and financing to make that work, plus proper access to pandemic “counter-measures” like vaccines and treatments.

The United States wants to ensure all countries share data and samples from emerging outbreaks quickly and transparently, while developing countries are holding out firm for guaranteed equity to stop them getting left behind.

According to the roadmap, a finalised accord on pandemic preparedness, prevention and response would be adopted at the May 27 to June 1 World Health Assembly of the WHO’S 194 member states

Issues at hand

The main topics still in play include access to emerging pathogens, better prevention and monitoring of disease outbreaks, reliable financing and transferring technology to poorer countries. The talks are being conducted by an Intergovemmental Negotiating Body.

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Where did Homo sapiens go after leaving Africa?

WASHINGTON us. Human beings first emerged in Africa more than 3;00.000 years ago they began migrating out of the continent about 60,000- 70.000 years ago. But, where did they go after they left Africa? After years of debate a new study has some answers to offer. According to it these hunter-gatherers appear to have lingered for thousands of years as a homogenous population in a geographic hub that spanned Iran, parts of Iraq. And Saudi Arabia before going to settle in all of Asia and Europe about 45,000 years ago.

 

These findings are based on genomic datasets drawn from ancient DNA and modern gene pools, combined with palaeoecological evidence that showed that this region would have represented an ideal habitat. The researchers called this region, part of what is called the Persian Plateau, a “hub” for these people who numbered perhaps only in the thousands before they continued onwant to more distant locales.

“Our results provule the first full picture of the whereabouts of the ancestors of all present-day non-Africans.” said Luca Pagani, senior author of the study. The combination of genetic and pale ecological models allowed us to predict the location where early human populations first resided as soon as they eated Africa,” said co-author Michael Petraglia.

How they lived

These people lived in small mobile bands of huntergatherers, the researchen said. The hub location offered a variety of ecological settings. From forests to grasslands and savannahs, fluctuating over time between arid and wet intervals. There would have been ample resources available with evidence showing the hunting of wild gazelle, sheep and goat Petraglia said.

Their diet would have been composed of edible plants and small to large-sized game

Hunter-gatherer groups seemed to have practised a seasonal lifestyle laing in the lowlands in the cooler months and in the mountainous regions in the warmer months.” Petraglia said. The people inhabiting the hub at the time apparently had dark skin and dark hair, Pagani said their eventual dispersal in different directions set the basis for the genetic divergence between present-day East Asians and Europeans, the researchers said

Homo sapiens was not the first human species to live outside of Africa-induding the area encompassing the hub Neanderthals are attested in the area before the armsal of Homo sapiens. The hub may have been where the two species met.

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What is Charles Dickens famous for?

Discover the spellbinding world of Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolvers award-winning novel that echoes Dickens’ timeless themes of poverty, survival, and the transformative power of storytelling.

 

About the author

parban Kingsolver o an American writer and political activist renowned for her powerful novels that delve into the resilience of individuals navigating challenging environments and finding beauty amidst hunh drcumstances in 2000, she founded the Bellwether Prize, a literary award aimed at proinoting works that drive social change. Having grown up in rural Kentucky US, and briefly livest in Africa during her early childhood, Kingsolver draws inspiration from diverse backgrounds

Becoming a writer

Her writing journey began in the mid-1980s when she worked as a science writer for a university, eventually transitioning into freelance feature writing It was a timing point when she won a local Phoenix newspapers short stong contest, leading her to pursue a full-time career in fiction writing.

Throughout her career. Kingsolver has produced influential works that have captivated readers worldwide. Some of her notable novels include The Bean Trees (1988) The Poisonwood Bible (1998). The Laqura (2009), and Demon Copperhead (2022) Vintage engraving of a scene from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield llustration by Fred Bamard GETTY IMAGES

Making history

Kingsolver recentlig auded more feathers to her literary cap with Do prestigious awards celebrating her novel Demon Copperhead Notably she became the first author to win the Women’s Prize for Fiction bvice having previously receives the honour in 2010 for her autaimest work. The Lacuna. This modem reimagining of Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield is set in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where the protagonist. a lroy bom in a trailer park embarks on a journey filled with foster care, labour exploitation, addiction, love. and heartache. Speaking about the book, she shared that much Like Dickens, the crafted her novel to shed light on the hardships of poverty and its impact on children, issues that have plagued our society for centures The Women’s Prize for Fiction recognises outstanding. ambitious original fiction” written in English by female writers from around the world. Continuing her winning streak, Kingsolvers modem reimagining of English author Charles Dickens’s classic won the fiction category of the James Tait Black Prize this year. This illustrious literary award. established in 1919 and presented by the University of Edinburgh, holds the distinction of being one of the UK’s longest-running and most esteemed accolades. What sets this prize apart is its unique judging panel, consisting of literature scholars and students. ensuring a deep appreciation for the art of writing.

When inspiration strikes

During an interview Kingsolver shared the story behind the inception of her Latest novel She recounted a moment four years ago when she had just finished a book tour in the UK for her previous work Unsheltered and had a few days before her return flight home Seizing the opportunity, she and her husband decided to stay at Bleak House, a clifftop retreat perched above Viking Bay in Broadstairs, the very place where Charles Dickens had penned David Copperfield As fate would have it, they arrived during a hailstormy weekend in November, and the location was deserted. As she wandered through the rooms, curiosity led her to explore Dickens’s desk and gaze out over the saune magnificent coastline he once beheld in this atmospheric setting the spint of the great author seemed to reach out to her She recousted “Anil tvars when he said. Look to the child. Let the child tell the Inspired by this serendipitous encounter, the author entbarked on her literary journey, giving life to the novel Demon Copperhead Demon Copperhead Set in the mountains of southern Appaladin, Demon Copperhead follows the gripping story of a boy bom to a struggling teenage single mother facing the harsh realities of foster care, child labour, and heartbreak Written in the protagonists raw and unyielding voice. the novel addresses the invisibility of rural communities in a world fixated on urban glamour. Drawing inspiration from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield Kingsolver weaves a tale of anger, compassion, and the transformative power of storytelling The journey of this titular character gives voice to a new generation of lost souls born into beautiful yet challenging places they can not fathom leaving behind.

David Copperfield

David Copperficial was first palaketa serial from 1840 to 1850 and later compiled its
it holds the distinction of bring English author Charles Dickens’s favourite anong his works
The novel u nimated in the first person by the protagonist, a Copperfield reflecting on his lifes journey Bons in Blunderstone Suffolk LIK, shortly after his fathers death Davul is raised by his mather and the caring housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. The story takes readers through David’s difficult upbringing under the cruel Mr Edward Mundstone (his stepfather) and his eventual adventures and self-discovery on the path to becoming a successful novelist. It is a poignant coming-of-age tale depicting a young man’s transformation from a challenging childhood to finding his purpose in life.

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What are the 5 types of diaspora according to Cohen?

Get ready to embark on a journey into the world of diasporic writing. What are its origins, influences and themes? Let’s retrace the steps of those who left their homeland for new horizons and contributed significantly to literature.

 

Agenre of literature we wanted become familiar with was sporic writings. We had and the term on several asions but were unsure of its weaning. So, we decided to te a professor from the literature department of a nearby college and what follows is the report on some of the key ideas he presented. He started by explaining the meaning of the term diaspora: it refers to the people who move away from their homeland to live in other Countries- mostly for better prospects. Today, in our Country, many young people wish to leave the country for education, job, and business.” Diaspora is not a new happening: even in the distant past as early as the first Century AD, Indians had migrated to other places primarily for their livelihoods and economic needs. There was also involuntary migration Across the seas due to forced labour, those who were displaced ultimately settled in those areas. However, from the 19th Century onwards. people started voluntarily shifting to other countries in great numbers for multiple reasons.

India’s diaspora is the largest in the world: it is estimated to be about 32 million, and they are settled in almost all the countries around the globe. They are referred to by terms such as NRIS (Non-Resident Indians), PIOS (Persons of Indian Origins), and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI). However, NRI is the term used most commonly. The largest number of members of Indian diasporas in a single city are living in Durban in South Africa for generations, and UAE hosts the maximum number of this community. Many educated youths aspire to settle down in the U.S., where they constitute the second-largest immigrant group, with four million Indians living there.

Interestingly, the Indian diaspora maintains close ties with the country, which cannot be guaranteed in the days to come. The speaker cited the well-known novel, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, wherein the children of the Ganguli family – Gogol and his sister, Sonali don’t enjoy their visits to India. In their quest for identity, they prefer to be Americans rather than Indians. Gogol’s marriage with Moushumi, an Indian, ends in a disaster, and Sonali marries Ben, a Jewish Chinese. Both, unlike their parents, attempt to delink themselves from their homeland.

The Indian diaspora has made significant contributions to different walks of life, and among them, their writings deserve special mention. The Indian diasporic literature has emerged with its distinctive characteristics from the mid-20th Century onwards from different parts of the globe but centred in English-speaking countries. Some of the established contributors to this genre include Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, Bharati Mukherjee, Amitav Ghosh, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Uma Parmesvaran, A.K. Ramanujan, Rupi Kaur, and VS. Naipaul Additionally, diasporic writings exist in most of the regional languages as well.

Most of these writers are novelists, who dealt with their own life experiences, exploring the themes like existential anxieties, culture shock, displacement, rootlessness, disorientation, nostalgia for their motherland, search for identity, challenges of integrating with the dominant culture and so on. However, the second and third generations of diasporic writers now portray different perspectives of their life: digressing from the first generation, they are celebrating their double identity and belonging to both cultures. The image of a ‘melting pot is replaced with a ‘salad bowl’ as they retain both of their identities and no longer feel like aliens occupying foreign lands. These writers have become an integral part of Indian Writing in English and the courses taught in our universities include many of them. The professor then proceeded to focus on VS. Naipaul and highlighted two significant details about him he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001, the only one to win the honour among the Indian diaspora so far. Three of his non-fiction works, namely, An Area of Darkness: An Experience of India, India: A Wounded Civilization, and India: A Million Mutinies Now. along with the novel A House for Mr Biswas, deal explicitly with the country. Naipaul makes a scathing attack on India in his trilogy: he finds. the unhealable wound in modern India in terms of ignorance, illiteracy, poverty, corruption, low standard of living, unhygienic conditions, and the fall of old values.” The speaker recommended we read these books to find out how far we concur with his portrayal of our country.

He wrapped up his talk stating that his favourite writer is Rohinton Mistry, an Indian-Canadian writer, and he would speak about him in detail the next time.

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Is there anything that people can do to save the planet?

We depend on nature for everything from air, water, food and shelter to sources of energy to run our factories and businesses. So, conserving nature and preserving its biodiversity must be our priority. Here are ten simple tips to do your bit for the planet.

1. Plant trees

Trees are carbon sequesters and increasing the tree cover is perhaps one of the easiest ways to conserve nature. A tree can absorb approximately 25kg of CO2 per year. So, plant a tree to mark this day. Make it a tradition to plant a tree during prominent or celebratory occasions of your life. It can be your birthday or when you finish your academic year or any moment you feel is worth celebrating. If you do not have enough space in your home, see if you can adopt your friend’s yard or make use of the space managed by your area’s residents’ association. Where you do it, make sure that the plant is taken care of Encourage friends and family to take up the practice as well.

2. Conserve energy

 We derive our energy from nature. Everything that is manmade runs on energy obtained from nature. Quite often, a lot of energy also goes to waste. By changing a few habits you can help save energy at home. These include small actions such as turning off the lights (when not in use or when you can depend on daylight), unplugging appliances when not in use, not charging your phone overnight, turning off your faucet when you aren’t using water, taking less time in the shower, reusing waste water in the kitchen gardens and so on. This will help reduce carbon footprint and in turn help in conserving nature. PHOTO: UNSPLASH IMAGES

3.3Rs

The 3Rs of “Reduce”, “Reuse”, “Recycle” is perhaps one of the ultimate mantras for nature conservation. These three small words will help manage waste, save the ecosystem, prevent marine animal casualties and address climate change. The first step is to reduce the waste you generate. This will ensure that less waste ends up in landfills or oceans. Effective waste segregation is the key to this. This helps recover materials for recycling and composting. Reuse articles that you can. And lastly, recycle. This helps prevent soil and water pollution. PHOTO: UNSPLASH IMAGES

4. Use public transport

 One of the major polluters is the global transport sector. It is responsible for approximately one-quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, according to experts. And 95% of the world’s transport energy is still obtained from fossil fuels. Personal transportation adds to the probelm, adding to the greenhouse emissions. The easiest way to avoid this is by switching to public transport. If this is not a practical solution every time, you can still choose public transport twice or thrice a week or during specific hours. This, when done on a regular basis, can significantly help reduce carbon emissions. Alternately, switching to green modes of travel such as a bicycle can help prevent your carbon footprint.

5. Stop using single-use plastics and disposables

 Single-use plastics and disposable cups and utensils have infiltrated our day-to-day life and upended it. Those disposable grocery bags and disposable utensils you use eventually ends up on the earth, polluting our soil. oceans, and marine life. These disposables can easily be replaced with environmentally responsible counterparts. Make a commitment to take out at least one disposable article from your lifestyle. Perhaps. carry a cloth bag to the supermarket instead of asking them for a plastic one. Maybe switch out your lunch box for one made of metal. This can be a good start. And slowly you can make a lifestyle switch by eschewing other disposables. PHOTO: UNSPLASH IMAGES

6. Eat less meat

It is estimated that 80% of forest loss is caused by the conversion of forest land to agricultural land. It leads to habitat destruction and loss of our green cover. Eating less meat can help prevent this and preserve biodiversity and the ecosystem. Since we all have our food preferences, it may not be easy to switch to vegetarianism or veganism. But you can be more aware and mindful of the food on your plate and choose to eat less meat. For instance. you can limit meat consumption to one or two days a week or reduce the number of meals with meat. PHOTO: UNSPLASH IMAGES

7. Use windows and not AC

 Our world is heating up and the surging heat has made us all dependent on air conditioning, the demand for which is increasing by the day. Did you know that air conditioners are also a contributor to the climate crisis? They consume more electricity than any other appliance in your home and consume about 10% of global electricity (along with electric fans). So next time, when possible, open the windows and let the cool breeze in.

8. Explore thrifting

 Fast fashion is one of the greatest threats to the environment. Did you know that it takes about 2,700 litres of water to make just one t-shirt. Or that a pair of jeans requires 7,600 litres of water? With a consumer base that updates its wardrobe according to trends in the fashion industry, the damage to the planet has been exponential. This trend depletes natural resources and harms the planet. This is where thrift shopping comes in. Anyone who has had an older sibling would be no stranger to using their toys, books, or school paraphernalia, thus giving the article a fresh lease of life. This is the concept of thrift shopping. It means using hand-me-downs or second-hand articles. It applies to all forms of merchandise such as clothes, games, toys, shoes, books, appliances, furniture, and so on. It’s time to break the cycle of single-use apparel or appliances and shop at thrift stores. Also, remember to let your friends and family know you are using a thrifted article and the positive impact your move has on nature’s conservation.

9. Embrace minimalism

 Minimalism is a lifestyle choice where you make mindful, deliberate choices of buying only what you truly need. As such you make do with less and avoid overconsumption, which is one of the major contributors to the exploitation and depletion of natural resources. By consuming only what’s essential for your living, your ecological footprint gets reduced. Thereby, the individual environmental impact is limited. Replace consumerism with eco-minimalism. PHOTO: UNSPLASH IMAGES

10. Spend time volunteering

 One way to help conserve nature is to help organisations that are working in the field directly. You can do this by volunteering your time and services at non-profit environmental organisations. These organisations run on donations and they are always on the lookout for people who can help them. Here you may get to actively participate in the community and work on projects aimed at conserving nature and get on-field experience.

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What is the mimicry of nature?

Nature has many sustainable solutions to numerous pressing problems that man is struggling to cope with today. Scientists and engineers study these unique models and systems of nature while designing new technologies. This biologically-inspired engineering, called biomimicry, biomimetics or bionics, is fast gaining popularity in many parts of the world.

American biologist Janine M. Benyus, who wrote the book. Biomimicry Innovation Inspired by Nature was the first to propose that learning from nature would be the perfect tool for eco-design

The leaf of the lotus plant has a way surface that is covered with tiny bumps or ridges. These ridges cause water droplets to roll off carrying away dust and dirt. This unique ability of the plant to clean itself called the Lotus Effect, was the inspiration behind self-cleaning paint coatings

Besides paints, roof tiles and optical sensors in public places like toll bridges also use innovations based on the Lotus Effect Research is also underway to create self-cleaning textiles. plastic and metals.

 

Inspired by insects

The Eastgate Centre, an office complex in Harare. Zimbabwe, has been designed to mimic the mounds of the African tower building termites (Macrotermes Michaelseni) which use a unique system to keep their homes cool. The insects have developed a method which involves opening and closing air vents in the mound in such a way that cool air is drawn inside while hot air escapes through the chimney. The Eastgate Centre uses 10 per cent less energy than conventional structures of the same size. by adopting the design and ventilation system of the termites.

Sportswear manufacturer Speedo’s swimsuit. the Fastskin LZR Racer, has been fashioned from fabric that mimics the shape and rough texture of sharkskin. This ‘sharkskin’ swimsuit reduces drag, enabling competitive swimmers to shave a few crucial seconds off their race timings. This technology is also being used to develop coatings for ship hulls, submarines and aircraft fuselage.

The tropical boxfish, a reef-dwelling amphibian, inspired Daimler Chryslers concept car. The Bionic Car, as the automobile is called, mimics the fish’s aerodynamic shape and the structure of its rigid protective skin. This innovation consumes 20 per cent less fuel and emits 80 per cent less nitrogen oxide than conventional automobiles. Researchers at the University of California have created two prototype glues after studying the way geckos move across ceilings and cling to polished glass. The soles of Tokay geckos have sticky ridges which contain half a million microscopic hairs. These tiny hairs which exert an attractive force on the wall or floor are responsible for the lizard’s superb grip. The stickiness of gecko adhesive never wears off. The scientists cast two sets of imitation gecko toe hairs and then tipped the hairs with silicon rubber or polyester. In the lab, both materials adhered as well to most surfaces as gecko’s feet.

Fire-extinguisher

Scientists at the Leeds University in England have built an experimental contraption that can shoot a spray of chemicals up to a distance of four metres. The device mimics the behaviour of the bombardier beetle, which squirts a hot explosive stream of venom to ward off predators. The chemical concoction is mixed in a sort of ‘combustion chamber in the insect’s abdomen, with inlet and exit valves determining the precise blend.

Researchers are utilising this technology to build pharmaceutical inhalers and long-range fire extinguishers.

Bullet train

The world’s fastest train, the Japanese shinkansen bullet train includes a number of biomimetic innovations. The trains, which zip between cities at a speed of close to 321 km per hour, have serrations similar to those that allow owls to fly stealthily through the night. This feature is incorporated in the overhead wire collectors to reduce noise. The train’s nose, which mimics the aerodynamic beak of the kingfisher, enables the train to exit tunnels without emitting sonic booms.

Velcro plants

It was only recently that man discovered the touch and close tape. Velcro. This discovery was inspired by nature, since seeds, fruits and even whole plants stowaway on the coats of animals by gripping on in the same manner as Velcro: and have been doing so since time immemorial.

It was in the 1950s that George de Mestral of Switzerland observed the burdock fruit which led him to develop Velcro. This fruit has barbed hooks that enable it to fasten itself to an animal’s fur. And when the burr is brushed off the coat of the animal the casing splits open. The seeds of the burdock are thus spread over a wide area and do not have to germinate in one place

Stowaways like the burdock can be counted in the hundreds in the plant world

Froggy tape

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IT) Kanpur, who were working on creating a reusable sticky tape, received inspiration from an unusual source- the humble tree frog.

It was observed that the sticky toe pads of tree frogs have a patter of tiny channels that increase their adhesion to a surface and prevent the spread of cracks when the frog moves away.

Based on this study, scientists designed a novel sticky tape by placing elastic layers embedded with air or fluid-filled micro channels beneath the authesive layer. This new reusable tape is 30 times stickier than other adhesive tapes.

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How old is Portugal in years?

Portugal a country on the west coast of the Iberian peninsula. has a rich history of seafaring and discovery. The name Portugal is derived from the Roman Portus Cale, meaning Port of Cale Cale was an Ancient Celtic town and port in present day northem Portugal Lisbon is one of Europe’s oldest cities (the second oldest capital city after Athens) Let us find out more about this country

History

Portugal was founded in 1143 as part of a treaty signed by D Afonso Henriques, the first King of Portugal and Alphonse the VII of Kingdom of Leon and Castile (now the largest autonomous community in Spain). The treaty recognised Portugal as an independent kingdom. The status was confirmed by Pope Alexander the Ill. then head of the Catholic Church, in 1179.

However, the earliest human remains found in Portugal are Neanderthal-type bones from Furminhas also known as Dominique’s cave. It is a natural cave on the southern slope of the Peniche peninsula in Portugal.

According to national legend. Lisbon was founded not by Celts (early Indo-European people) but by Odysseus, a mythical Greek warrior and king of Ithaca (a small island on the lonian Sea).

Portugal was a global maritime power during the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 15th Century, Portuguese explorers such as Vasco da Gama discovered the maritime route to India. By the 16th Century, they had established a huge empire in Brazil as well as swathes of Africa and Asia.

For almost half of the 20th Century, the country was under the dictatorship in which for decades Antonio de Oliveira Salazar was the key figure. The country lost most of its wealth and status with the destruction of Lisbon in a 1755 earthquake, and the independence of Brazil, its wealthiest colony, in 1822.

In 1974, the country witnessed a bloodless coup, known as the Revolution of the Carnations, which ushered in a new democracy. Only then, in 1975, it granted independence to all of its African colonies.

Geography

The country occupies one-sixth of the Iberian peninsula in Europe’s southwestern area. It is bound by Spain, the Atlantic Ocean, and Azores and the Madeira Islands. Though it is not a large country, Portugal beholds great diversity in terms of physical geography.

The northern part of the country comprises the mountainous border of the Meseta, which is the block of ancient rock that forms the core of the Iberian Peninsula. Southern Portugal contains extensive areas of limestone. The Estrela Mountains (lying in between the Tagus and Mondego rivers) is the highest point of mainland Portugal. The capital, Lisbon, is on the steep hills situated on the right bank of the Tagus. The city was designated a European City of Culture in 1994.

Flora and fauna

The vegetation here is a mix of Atlantic, or European, and Mediterranean (with some African) species. Over the years, the forests in the country have diminished.

While one-fourth of its area is under woodland, the remaining parts feature two types of Mediterranean scrublands – maquis and matorral, or steppe. Mixed deciduous trees can be found only in the north and northern interior. Around 100 plants are native to Madeira.

Two-thirds of the region is a conservation area. The Laurisilva of Madeira, the largest surviving area of laurel forest, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. It contains unique plants and animals, including many endemic species such as the Madeiran long-toed pigeon.

The country has a mixture of European and north African types of fauna. Like Spain, wild goats, wild pigs, and deer can be found in the countryside of Portugal. Its far north and northeast are home to wolves, while lynx inhabit the Malcata mountains

A variety of bird species can be found as the peninsula lies on the winter migration route of western and central European species. The highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal is native to Madeira’s Desertas Islands, which were classified as Nature Reserve by the Council of Europe in 1990.

People

Over nine-tenth of the population is ethnic Portuguese; the rest includes small numbers of Brazilians, Han Chinese, and people from Portugal’s former colonised countries in Africa and Asia. The country’s Roma (gypsy) population lives primarily in the Algarve

The country has a long tradition of dancing and singing. Interestingly, almost every village here has its own terreiro, or dance floor. These dance floors are usually constructed of concrete, though in some places, it is still made of beaten earth. Small accordions and gaitas, or bagpipes, are some of the instruments that accompany the dances

Though Portugal gets a good supply of fresh fish, the dried salted codfish known as bacalhau, is considered the national dish.

The country has a rich legacy of archaeological remains such as prehistoric cave paintings at Escoural, the Roman township of Conimbriga, the Roman temple (known as the Temple of Diana) in Evora, and the typical Moorish architecture of southern towns such as Olhao and Tavira

Some of the famous Portuguese explorers were Ferdinand Magellan, the first to circumnavigate the globe, and Vasco da Gama, who opened up the sea route from Western Europe to the East by way of the Cape of Good Hope. These explorations opened the country to Asian influences. The city centres of Evora, Sintra, Porto, and, in the Azores, Angra do Heroismo are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Politics

During the colonial era, Portugal was the world’s richest country. However, the wealth was not used to develop domestic industrial infrastructure. This resulted in the country becoming one of Western Europe’s poorest countries in the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1986, Portugal joined the European Economic Community (predecessor of the European Union). Now, 21 members of the European Parliament are from Portugal.

Portugal is a semi-presidential republic with the Prime Minister as the head of the government and the President as the head of the State. The President has the power to appoint the PM and other government members.

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How do plants transport their seeds for propagation? Do you know that they employ different ways to spread their seeds widely? Let’s look at some of them today

Plants have various ways to ensure that their seeds are spread widely and have a chance to grow. Some employ animals and birds, others wind and water, while still others use their own power to transport their seeds.

 

Dodo tree

The tambalacoque tree grows only in Mauritius and is valued for its timber. In the 17th century, all of a sudden, the tambalacoque lost the ability to grow from seeds. Existing trees continued to live, but not one of the seeds they produced would germinate. By the 1970s, there were only 13 sickly trees left.

An American ecologist. Stanley Temple, observed in 1977 that the tree had stopped growing from seed at about the same time that the DID YOU KNOW? The seeds of a type of tomato plant that grows in the Galapagos Island germinate only when they are eaten by a tortoise and pass through its digestive system! flightless bird of Mauritius, the dodo, became extinct. Temple concluded that the seeds, which had a thick hard covering, would germinate only if they were eaten by the dodo and passed through its digestive system! Without the grinding in the dodo’s gizzard, the seed could not break through the tough exterior and sprout.

He force-fed the seeds to wild turkeys and some of them germinated- the first tambalacoque saplings seen in 300 years!

Launch pad

The squirting cucumber of the Mediterranean fills with a slimy juice as it ripens. Soon, the pressure within increases so much that the cucumber is launched off its stalk like a miniature rocket. The seeds stream out from a hole in its base and land as far away as six metres from the parent plant!

The Brazilian hura tree or monkey’s dinner-bell has a more dramatic way of sending off its seeds. It has a detonating seed container. After it dries out fully, it explodes with a deafening bang, hurling its seeds over a distance of 12 metres! The pods of the broom plant become hot and dry and split open down the middle, catapulting is tiny black seeds in all directions.

Wind and water

Some plants fuave seents so tiny, that they are easily carried away by the wind. Kapok trees auf cotton bushes provide their seeds with a convenient tuft of threads that are long and durable. They catch the wind and float many miles before they land in fertile soil and germinate Dandelion seeds have a tiny parachute and are attached to the top of a stem like a fragile globe. The merest breath of wind can cause millions to take off and sail high into the sky.

The coconut palm on the other hand, sends its seed by sen packed in a fibrous waterproof shell containing water and a supply of rich food in the form of the kernel to nourish it on its long journey.

Winging their way

Many tall trees have winged seeds that travel some distance before falling on the ground to germinate, thus avoiding their shade.

The Anisoptera and Alsomitra are two of the tallest trees in Asia. Their seeds come equipped with a pair of wings. Anisoptera seeds are spear-shaped and spin like the rotors of a helicopter when released. Alsomitra seeds are fitted with paper-thin wings. They descend very slowly and travel over nine metres before falling to the ground.

Critters as couriers

Plants use animals as seed carriers. Some have thomy, stick-on seeds which attach to the fur of the animal as it brushes past. The South African grapple plant has seeds with hooks that embed in the soles of a rhino or elephant’s feet and fall off after the animal has walked some distance.

The best advertisement for most plants are their delicious fruits! if the animal swallows the seed with the fruit, the coating ensures the seed passes out undamaged.

It wouldn’t do if the seed is eaten before it matures, so the plant craftily makes the fruit hard and sour. Once the seed is ready, the fruit tums sweet and aromatic inviting animals to have a feast!

Picture Credit: Google

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