Three years ago, a six-foot long shark named Florence became the first of her kind to undergo an ‘out of water’ surgery to remove a rusty fish hook lodged in her gut. After recovery, she was put on exhibit at the Birmingham National Sea Life Centre in England, but she began drawing attention for altogether different reasons. Florence’s close shave with a fishing trawler left a deep imprint on her and her diet. She actually decided to turn vegetarian! To meet her nutritional requirements however, wildlife specialists at the Sea Life Centre hide pieces of fish in celery sticks and hollowed out cucumbers, when feeding Florence!
Developed in Avonmouth near Bristol, UK, by inventor Mohammed Saddiq, the Bio Bug is the latest in sustainable cars. Based on a standard Volkswagen Beetle, the Bug runs by installing scubasized tanks in the boot which are then filled with a biogas consisting mainly of methane. Methane is abundantly available as a by product from the treatment of human waste in sewage works. The gas then runs into a petrol engine, which is modified yet essentially the same in appearance and components as regular engines. But it powers the car with the same reliability and performance as a standard petrol fuelled vehicle. Moreover, the Bio Bug emits zero unpleasant odours.
Who would have thought we could teach plants to counter threats from humans? Researchers Iven Henriques and Professor Bert van Duijn have done just that, creating one which drives itself to safety, when it detects touch. The Jurema Action Plant has a robotic base with a circuit board geared to pick up variations in the electromagnetic field of the delicate Mimosa pudica, or touch-me-not. The plant, acting on its sensory reactions, immediately moves away from any source of touch. While ecologists are sceptical about setting forests on wheels, the invention bagged itself a curious crowd at the Taming Technology Exhibition 2011, that took place in Florence.
The European ride-sharing website, www.carpooling.com, has been creating 650,000 shared rides in 45 countries around the UK and Europe, with 3.6 million registered users. As against single-occupancy commuting, the carpooling website has not only reduced 775,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and 100 million gallons of petrol but ousted the need for parking and road maintenance, besides cutting down traffic snarls and pollution. In monetary terms, drivers and passengers have never had it better, saving €750 million by sharing car journeys. Making new friends is free. Also, where a passenger was expected to shell out €200 for catching a train from Paris to Munich, he/she now only pays €20 while the driver actually earns a bonus, with a minimum €20 fee! Eurotrip, anyone?
New data from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service shows that India will export roughly 1.5 million metric tonnes of beef, overtaking Australia, Brazil and the US, to become the world’s largest exporter of buffalo meat. Though exporters are careful to label their exports as non-milkproducing- water-buffalo meat, the statistics are no less daunting for a country that traditionally worships the cow. The sharp rise in exports began in 2009 and has today extended to the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. So the next time you are vacationing to one of these countries, you might be expected to feel at home for the oddest of reasons.