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Rama Kumaraswamy Thoopal

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The Big Meltdown

September 23: Earth is the only planet with an atmosphere congenial to life forms as we know of. If a blanket of air didn't surround us…our planet would have been a frozen wasteland - much too cold for human habitation. We have a lot to be thankful for. But we humans have been taking things for granted. As a...

An Octopus as Jar-opener

Try opening a bottle of jam. See how skilfully your fingers wrap around the lid and unscrew it? Now researchers at the Brighton University, United Kingdom, are carrying out an interesting study to see if the octopus, too, has the same skill. Makes sense considering it has so many 'hands' or tentacles! The scientists have even made a gigantic glass aquarium,...

No Dalmatians Please

Have you seen the movie '101 Dalmatians?' Remember the cute cuddly spotted puppies scampering around and performing tricks? Well, if you loved the movie, here's some news for you - Disney is coming out with yet another puppy-filled movie and it is going to be called '102 Dalmatians' - a sequel to the original movie. Dalmatians are believed to have...

The Truth about Zoos

Last week we carried a piece about the relevance of zoos as the last refuge of endangered species. But in India it appears that zoos should be the last place for animals of any sort, let alone the endangered variety. It is no secret that most Indian zoos are in a bad state. Although zoos claim to educate people and...

Great White Sharks Heading for Extinction

If you want a beach crowded with surfers and swimmers and other sun worshippers to empty out within a minute, cup your hands by the side of your mouth and shout loudly, 'SHARK' and wait for this miracle to happen. Because the very word conjures up images from Steven Spielberg's movie 'Jaws'. An image of a gaping mouth with rows...

Why do we Yawn?

Do you think that a great big yawn means you are really bored? Well, if you do, then you cannot possibly be further from the truth. Until recently many researchers used to think yawning is essential to increasing the oxygen intake to the lungs. A few on the other hand insisted that yawning is similar to stretching as it...

Tiger Target

October 16: A few months ago, the accidental death of a dozen Royal Bengal tigers, at an Orissa zoo, shocked the nation. The news made headlines and gradually got relegated to the inside pages of newspapers before vanishing altogether. Yes, public memory is notoriously short and people eventually forgot about the whole episode. Now, yet another tiger death has shaken...

High-tech Turtle

A few months ago, a turtle in Thailand was grievously injured when it was run over by a truck. The animal hardly seemed to have any chance of survival. However, with the immediate help of the Thai Animal Guardians Association, it did survive. The Association admitted the turtle to Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University for medical treatment. The plucky little survivor was...

Sea Turtles

Can you name an animal that returns to the place of its birth, every single year, journeying more than 1,000 km to do so? Well, here is another hint: this animal is a sea creature that originated on earth more than 200 million years ago- making the species older than the oldest ever dinosaur. Give up? They are none other...

Asia’s First Floating Museum

October 16: Wouldn't it be exciting to visit a war museum of vintage aircraft on a huge ship floating in the ocean ? And when the ship in question happens to be INS Vikrant, the experience promises to be truly memorable. INS Vikrant is India's first aircraft carrier and came into service in 1961. Once the hallmark of the Indian...

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Architectural Wonders

Today when we look at our ancient structures, we cannot help but wonder how they ever got created. Though thousands of years old they...

How does a Submarine Work?

Jules Verne in his science fiction, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, mentions a ship, Nautilus, which could dive beneath the waves and...

A Friend in Need

It happened not very long ago. But when you're a snail, days move at snail's pace, too. So, if you were to ask our...

The Great Escape

On the outskirts of a bustling city near the sea coast was a zoo named Kananvan. It was famous all over the world for...

What is the Software for Life?

We all use computers. If you use Windows on your machine, like me, you will have a small button at the the bottom of...