The first animal to switch from water to land probably looked like a Salamander. To know how it did so, a team of scientists led by Auke Jan Ijspeert, Ecole Polytechnique Federale, Switzerland, built a robot with a primitive electric nervous system that mimics that change in motion.
Nearly a yard long, it is made of nine yellow plastic segments each containing a battery and micro-controller to coordinate its motion. And it moves like a Salamander. It walks across floors, and even manages to swim!
Start walking, quit smoking! Studies on tobacco addiction prove that a fiveminute walk, or other such short bouts of exercise, helps smokers to resist the urge to smoke. And they also manage withdrawal symptoms better, report researchers from the University of Exeter in the scientific journal Addiction. India has nearly 25crore smokers.
And half of them may die prematurely due to tobacco related diseases (according to the World Health Organisation projections). So, the smokers should better take walks before it is too late. And those who do not smoke, start taking walks to stay fit!
Sanjivani Booti’s miraculous power will now be scrutinised. Alive for the last 300 million years, this four-inch fern can survive without water. It just curls up and loses colour (turns brown) in the absenceof moisture. And regains its original green colour within hours of coming in contact with water! Scientists from the National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI), India, are trying to identify the gene responsible for the drought tolerance property during a five-year programme.
‘The gene, once identified, will be injected into our food crops so that similar survival properties develop within crops like rice, which need large quantities of water’, says senior scientist P V Khare of NBRI. But, the greatest fear is the over-exploitation of this wonder herb by the tribals in UP, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and West Bengal who use it to treat heat stroke, jaundice and menstrual irregularities. Seems like the Booti is booty for many people in India.
That’s right. Earth experienced its warmest December-February in 128 years! It was the highest average temperature since records began in 1880, reports the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a United States government agency. This worldwide warm January has pushed average temperatures to 0.72 degree Celsius above normal for the 20th century!
And the global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.06 degrees Celsius per decade during the past century. According to the report, the El Nino phenomenon, an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern Pacific, was one of the biggest contributors to the global land and ocean surface temperature.
Till now, it was believed that Homo sapiens emerged in Africa 200,000 years ago. And that the oldest fossils resembling modern human beings come from sites in Europe dating back to around 20,000 to 30,000 years. But, a jawbone has shaken these beliefs. Analysis of a 160,000 year-old fossilised jawbone from Jebel Irhoud, Morocco shows that Homo sapiens in the area had long childhoods, one of the hallmarks of human beings living today.
This has pushed back the date modern humans emerged by more than 100,000 years! Dr Tanya Smith of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig finds remarkable similarities of the jaw to modern humans. So, a complex human society developed much earlier than previously thought.
World population may cross nine billion by 2050. According to a United Nations report based on ‘Revision of the Official United Nations Population Estimates and Projections’, lessdeveloped countries would witness most of the increase. India would have the fastest-growing population. But, 46 countries may lose population, including Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, countries in former Soviet Union, and some small island nations.