Whether water is in a lake or a bottle, Earth’s gravity pulls the liquid downward into the shape of the container it is in. But do you believe instead of this, drops of liquid can tend to form spheres in space? Up there under microgravity, surface tension shapes water into spheres that has the lowest possible surface area for a given volume.
Did you know that long before modern refrigeration, people in Russia used to place living frogs in milk to keep it fresh? Even though many believed that this was nothing more than an old wives’ tale, by following this practice scientists have identified a wealth of new antibiotic substances secreted from certain frogs’ skins.
Foam that is formed when washing hands with soap is white in color. Even if we use soaps of different colors, it gives only white foam. But why? Dyes used for coloring soaps are highly diluted. Foam is a large collection of tiny soap bubbles. Countless surfaces of these bubbles scatter the natural light in different directions making the foam look white. However, if we happen to be in a room with single color lighting the foam might take that color!
If you have been eating manioc, it is advised not to take any form of ginger or ginger products such as ginger beer and ginger biscuits. But what’s the serious risk of mixing ginger with manioc? Linamarase enzyme in ginger catalyze the conversion of cyanide containing compounds into Hydrogen Cyanide that can be lethal to the eater. Manioc that has not been properly cooked can contain cyanide compounds.
Sitting or rolling around grass is a fantastic experience, yet sometimes it can make you itch so badly afterwards. Why does grass make us itch like this? Serrated edges on glass blades can cause minute cuts on our skin. Also the tiny hairs on grass and fluids secreted by them adds to the itchy reaction.
When it is very cold outside, the air is usually dry as well. So in order to humidify it, blood supply to the nose increases and ups its fluid production leading to excess mucous. Also a small part of every breath we exhale is water vapour. When warm air inside nostrils confronts cold temperatures it condenses forming larger droplets and that will also run out.
Sniffly noses and cold weather just seem to go together. Explain why your nose runs when the temperature outside drops.
Pigs are often mislabelled as dirty, greedy and smelly animals. The way they wallow in mud is a major reason for this. But actually pigs have few sweat glands and these mud baths help them to lower their body temperature efficiently. It also gives them sun protection and aids in removing parasites.
Touch screens have totally changed the way we use mobile phones. The most one can get with a swipe on a piece of ordinary glass is a smudge. Yet how does wiping fingers on a glass screen make things happen inside our phone? Underneath the screen there is an electric field and when touching it, a tiny electrical charge is transferred to the finger completing the circuit just like in a capacitor.
Gecko toes have the exciting ability to adhere strongly to nearly any surface and yet release with minimal effort. In an attempt to mimic these properties, engineers have designed sticky gloves that can stick to glass and support a person’s weight. In near future these handheld gecko pads will let us scale walls like Spiderman!
You too must have experienced that when climbing mountains, as we move up gradually the breathing rate increases and also we tend to take deep breaths. But why? Atmospheric pressure decreases with the increasing altitude. As a result the pressure gradient between atmosphere and lungs declines and amount of air inhaled in each breath also decreases. As such we tend to breathe more rapidly in order to gain more oxygen.
Often sea turtles look like they are crying. Is it really because they are sad? Actually their tears are not much related to emotions, instead serve a very practical purpose. Sea turtles get too much salt in their bodies by drinking salty ocean water. They get rid of these extra salts by excreting them out of special glands which are located near their eyes!
An opera singer’s piercing voice can shatter a glass wine goblet! Is this one of those skills that only cartoon characters possess, or can we mortals do it too? Physics suggests that a voice should be able to break glass. If the singing reaches the natural resonant frequency of the glass, resulting vibrations might be so strong as to break the wine glass.
At times when preparing plain tea we add some ginger because it gives several health benefits. But have you observed that if ginger is added to milk tea and kept for a while, the tea will turn to a semi solid mixture making it horrible? Do you know why? Protease enzyme in ginger which remains active at temperatures below 70°C cause the milk to coagulate.
Night vision means seeing in low light conditions. Rods are the main photoreceptors in human eye used for this. Activation of rhodopsin in rods results the nerve impulse responsible for vision. When compared to white light, longer red wavelengths slowly depletes the rhodopsin stores and save more rhodopsin pigments helping to preserve night vision. Also due to minimum deviation of red light, targets can be detected accurately.
From the days of World War II, ship and airplane captains used red light to see at night. Weapon lights and the torches used for spotting distant objects also comprise of red lights instead of normal white lights. Explain why red is ideal for night vision?
Previously we have said that chameleons change color to match their surroundings, so as to maintain their body temperature and to express feelings. But do you believe that even a blind chameleon is capable of this? Chromatophores in the skin activated by the light in the environment are the cells responsible for changing color, and eye sight has nothing to do with this.
Have you noticed when dragonflies rest during day time, they orient their body in a unique way so that the narrow tip of the abdomen points towards the sun? Ever wondered why? This is a strategy used for thermoregulation. By minimizing the surface area exposed to solar radiation they avoid overheating and dehydration.