It was not long before Lightning McQueen both exasperated and endeared himself, like most Hollywood heroes, to diehard fans of animation movies. In his second outing, he has pleased the environmentalists as well. McQueen and his buddy Mater (the tow truck) replaced fossil fuels with greener fuels in Cars 2, which released recently. John Lasseter of Pixar Animation, the gigantic animation producers, says that he was not driven to it by any commitment to environmental causes but wanted to exploit the ‘eco-mindedness’ of people by engaging in the fossil fuels versus cleaner alternatives debate. “With ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and alternative fuels and all the things going on, I kept thinking, well, in their world, it could be neat to have sort of big oil vs. alternative fuel,” Lasseter says.
Though Lasseter insists that he is not fighting for a cause, three of Pixar’s movies have, in the recent past, tackled such themes. While a robot in WALL-E cleans up the earth after humans leave for the stars, Monsters, Inc metaphorically portrays the energy crisis and pushes for the use of less harmful fuels. In Toy Story 3, the once treasured play things narrowly escape an incinerator and are eventually recycled. And yet Lasseter says, “We don't make message movies.” Picture that!
THE CAUSE? JELLYFISH!
Close on heels of the nuclear disaster in Japan, an English nuclear reactor had to be shut down because of … well, jellyfish! Two advanced gas cooled reactors of the Torness Nuclear Power Station (near Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland) were force shut after large numbers of jellyfish entered the cooling filters along with the sea water – the reactors rely on sea water for their operation. Scientists suspect that abnormally high temperatures in the North Sea may have caused the rise in the numbers of jellyfish in the area. The plant's operator, EDF, sought the help of fishermen on three trawlers to clear the jellyfish from around the station.
Would you imagine a short, chubby person winning the Olympics' 100 metre race? Possible but unlikely, right? But a tiny, stocky shorebird has managed to defy its anatomical limitations and, smash the record for the fastest long-distance, non-stop flight in the animal kingdom! According to a study, great snipes can fly from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa in just about two days, without stopping anywhere for rest. The birds travelled up to 7,000 kilometres at about 100 kilometres an hour. Phew! What baffled the scientists is that great snipes don't appear to be designed for speed. Their bodies are not aerodynamically shaped and their plumpness in autumn, the time of their intercontinental journey, doesn't help. But apparently, it is this extra fat that ensures that they can fly such long distances without stopping for food or rest. And as with humans, the strenuous exercise makes them shed the extra pounds and appear slim and trim for their new home in Africa. What is bizarre though is that the birds make several stops during their return flight to Sweden in springtime. Figure that one out!