Black with white stripes or white with black stripes – we may never know. But a team of Hungarian and Swedish scientists have finally found why zebras evolved with stripes. It is obvious the monochromatic lines on zebras’ bodies are not for camouflage. So what are they there for? Well, to keep flies away, according to the team of scientists.
The ‘secret’ lies in ‘polarised light reflected by the striped pattern’. When hit with light, a majority of animals reflect horizontally polarised light. And for some reason, this is what attracts the flies. However, the stripe pattern on zebras’ bodies reflects light in such a way that it attracts very few flies. Now you know what to do when you are outside and want to stay clear of those annoying insects – just don a zebra suit!
Even as you sit ‘still’ reading this, the land you are sitting on is moving. Albeit just a bit. Difficult to digest? You all know about the formation of Pangea 300 million years ago, right? Now, geologists at Yale University are predicting the formation of yet another supercontinent called Amasia. Guess which two continents will come together for this? Australia and Asia!
According to experts, the Americas and Asia will drift northwards, closing off the Caribbean Ocean and the Arctic Ocean to join around the North Pole. Australia is also likely to continue moving and settle down right next to India, they say. All this would happen thanks to the plates of the Earth’s crust that are continually in motion.
Amasia formation would take some 50 to 200 million years! What a pity. Imagine having Australia as a neighbouring country!
What happens when you spend half an hour walking around in the sun? Of course, you sweat. But that is not all. You get tanned as well. This, even when you are wearing a sunscreen. But think about this, there are other organisms such as flowers that stay in the sun all day, everyday and yet, there is no sign of a tan! How is it that flowers manage to avoid the harmful effects of sunlight? Well they can manufacture their own special brand of sunscreen you see.
Scientists working with the Glasgow University claim to have cracked this mystery. It seems that plant leaves contain a protein called UVR8 which detects UV-B rays. Once it finds the presence of UV-B rays, it spurs off a chemical reaction that protects the flowers from the harsh rays. Fascinating! Now if only researchers could replicate this ‘sunscreen’ for humans too!
There are inventions. And there are inventions. But here is one interesting invention that will make green technology lovers mighty happy! Meet Kieron-Scott Woodhouse, 23, a student of product design living in London. Woodhouse is the designer of ‘ADzero’, the world’s first mobile phone made from bamboo.
Here is what happened. Woodhouse was not very happy with the choices of mobile phones available in the market. So he ended up making a ‘bamboo handset’ from four-year-old organically grown bamboo, specially treated to ensure durability. The phone runs on the Android operating system and is about half the size of an iPhone.
ADzero features a special technology called ‘ring flash’ in its camera– something not available on any other model in the market. What does it do? The circular photographic flash around the lens ensures even illumination and minimises shadows.
“Bamboo may seem like a strange material to use for a phone, but it is actually extremely strong and very durable, perfect qualities for this kind of application,” he says.
Elephant is the national symbol of Thailand. But given the present scenario, they might just get extinct soon. Why? Because consumption of elephant meat seems to the latest food fetish of the country. “The poachers take away the elephants’ organs and trunks for human consumption,” says Damrong Phidet, director-general of Thailand’s wildlife agency. Some meat is consumed without cooking, like “elephant sashimi,” he tells, adding, “The situation has come to a crisis point. The longer we allow these cruel acts to happen, the sooner they will become extinct.”
Well, consumption of elephant meat is not common in Thailand and according to investigations, the most recent ‘order’ for elephant meat came from restaurants in Phuket, a popular travel destination. For the record, hunting elephants is banned in Thailand, and trafficking or possessing poached animal parts is illegal.