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Why don’t Birds on a wire get a shock?

Posted by in 5 Ws & H

Now how is that possible? The fact is, for a living creature to get a ‘shock’ there has to be a substantial flow of current through the body. However, there is barely any current running through the bird’s body for two reasons. Firstly, the bird not only forms a circuit with the wire, but it also offers a high resistance to current, so the current passes through the wire instead of the bird. It’s a bit like this, would you prefer going on a smooth road or a road full of potholes? The answer is obvious and just like you, the current prefers taking the easier path. All objects...

The Greek Barber

Posted by in Features for Kids

I wonder what others think of when they hear a mention of Greece. I think of the first Olympics and I think of the poison Socrates the philosopher was forced to drink. But I want to see something different today. Athens, here I come! My machine says we have reached the Athens of 2005 years ago (5th century BC). I stretch myself and walk out of the machine. There is a large group of men chatting and laughing in a shop. It’s a barber’s shop! If our Indian barber shops are any indication then these barbers’ shops must be the place where men exchange the news and gossip of...

Aristotle can’t remain Ignorant!

Posted by in Features for Kids

The Greeks were a passionately curious lot. When Alexander the Great set off in 334 BC on the famous expedition that took him over the Hindukush into Tashkent and Kashmir, he was accompanied not only by navigators, guides and surveyors, but historians and philosophers as well. Alexander had been taught by the philosopher Aristotle, and we are told that he ordered everyone throughout Greece and Asia who made their living by hunting, fowling, fishing, beekeeping and so on, to make sure that “Aristotle should not remain ignorant of any animal born anywhere.” So when Aristotle discusses elephants, it is the diet, digestive organs, teeth, age of maturity, and length...

Why do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?

Posted by in 5 Ws & H

When someone falls from the fourth or fifth floor, and survives, we call it a miracle. When a cat falls from that height, we watch astonished as it lands on all fours, pauses, then straighten up and walks away looking just a little fazed. What would you call this, a miracle or God’s grace? Any guesses why cats survive while humans don’t? Well, it all has to do with the in-built ability of a cat to adjust its position during a sudden fall, its light weight and lithe muscular body. While humans tumble uncontrollably and completely lose control over their bodies when they fall, cats are able to straighten...

The Shepherd’s Mistake

Posted by in Folktales for Kids

Early every morning, a shepherd took his flock of sheep out in the fields to graze. He would sit by watching – as the sheep lazily munched on fresh grass. After they had eaten, he would round them up and walk back home. Sometimes while watching his flock, he would curl up in a quiet corner and go off to sleep. One day, the shepherd caught a wolf which had strayed into the field, eyeing his sheep. However, it was some distance away and it made no effort to come nearer. The shepherd at first stood on guard against the wolf, as against an enemy, and kept a strict...

Toys For a Big Boy

Posted by in Stories for Kids

Ronit Subramanian was seven years old and he was the tallest student in his class. It made him feel very proud. But when he remembered some of the things he used to do as a small kid, he felt a little shy. He wished his mother would not tell those stories to her friends again and again. Last week his mother’s old school friend had come to see her. They were meeting after 10 years. Ronit was just back from school but his ears pricked up when he heard his mother say in that goofy tone, “You know what my Ronit used to do as a baby? He used...

Dolphin in the Mirror

Posted by in Science News for Kids, World News for Kids

May 3: Dolphins are much more intelligent than humans previously thought. Scientists have recently discovered that bottle-nosed dolphins can recognise themselves in the mirror – much like you and I can! When you see a zit on your face, what do you do? Go to the mirror time and again, and wonder what it is still doing there. Well, this is exactly what two male bottle-nosed dolphins, Presley and Tab, do as well. So, these lovable aquatic animals are not just seafarers’ friends, but they are also aware of their bodies – almost like humans! A Reuters news agency report in The Telegraph newspaper reports says that Presley and...

Long bony fingers

Posted by in Stories for Kids

Somu loved to read ghost stories. Every time he paid a visit to the library, he got back a teeth-chattering horror tale. It was a signal that he was getting ready to play a scary trick on his friends. He was 10 years old. His parents had learnt to recognise the signs now. The days on which the slim boy’s cocker spaniel eyes shone brighter than ever, and his brown wavy hair seemed to have a movement of their own, they knew that he must have read a ghost tale and was hatching a plot to scare someone. The problem was that Somu loved reading. And so he did...

Schoolboy’s Diary – 4000 years ago

Posted by in Features for Kids

When I was in the fourth standard, I got my first real diary as a present from a cousin. It made me feel very important because it was gifted to me in the year for which it had been printed. Until then the elders had always shoved at me, two or three-year-old diaries in which the listed holidays and Sundays made no sense. Naturally! It was a diary bound in dark brown leather and was printed by some company that must have been making a lot of money. And the first week of my life as a diary owner went by in a haze. I would keep looking at...

Venice is Sinking

Posted by in Planet Earth for Kids

Most people all over the world travel by the road. In a city in Italy however, waterways make up the primary commuting routes. The city of Venice, rich in architectural marvels, is best known for its canals. Unfortunately, this beautiful city of flat-bottomed boats (Gondolas), churches and quaint cobbled streets is sinking and sinking fast. Known as the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’, Venice is situated on 120 islands formed by canals in the lagoon between the mouths of the Po and the Piave rivers, at the northern extremity of the Adriatic Sea. And even the bits of firm ground have rather boggy foundations and all this is slowly getting...

The Secrets of the Ocean Floor

Posted by in Planet Earth for Kids

It is one question that is not a quizmasters’ favourite: which is the tallest mountain on earth? The answer is bound to come fast and snappy – Mt Everest, at a height of 29,000 feet. But that is only on land. For, if you were to measure from the bottom of the ocean, the tallest mountain in the world will probably be Mauna Kea in Hawaii. It rises more than 15,748 feet under the sea and another 13,779 feet above it. The total comes to more than 29, 527 feet. There are such deep trenches in the deep sea that a mountain like Everest could disappear into them without...

How Lizards Defy Gravity

Posted by in Science News for Kids

Lizards slithering up walls or dangling precariously from overhead lights are a common sight in tropical countries. These slimy creatures zipping up walls are called geckos. They are the only lizard species that make any sound, other than hissing — in fact they make a loud clicking noise that sounds like “gecko”, hence the name. Recent studies show that the gecko’s ability to cling on to surfaces could well lead to the creation of the world’s first non-sticky, self-cleaning adhesive! According to scientists at the University of California, gecko feet function a bit like the tape we use for sticking. Of course a gecko’s tenacious hold is far, far...