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Rama Kumaraswamy Thoopal

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Mending Fences

August 19: South Africa is all set to sign an important agreement with its two neighbours - Zimbabwe and Mozambique. If all goes well, this agreement will help create the largest animal reserve or wildlife park in the world. The fences separating the national parks in the border region of each country will be removed and tourists and animals...

Birds Sing in their Sleep

Just like humans, birds too rely on sound to communicate. However, they do not have a 'language' in the true sense of the word and instead emit a variety of squawks and chirps to convey different emotions. Often, birds recognise their mates (or young) by sound rather than sight. Hungry fledglings use begging calls to let their mothers know it...

The World’s Hottest Chili

Do you like your chilies hot? For the spiciest, tongue-burning experience yet, head for Assam - that's where the hottest chilies are grown. For years, Mexico's 'Red Savina Habanero' was believed to be the hottest chili in the world. But now a chili grown in Tezpur, Assam, in northeastern India, is being touted as the hottest chili ever. And coming from a state,...

Jellyfish: Fragile Creature of the Sea

A sudden influx of jellyfish, in the Gulf of Mexico in the Atlantic Ocean is worrying both scientists and fisher folk alike. The Gulf of Mexico is bordered on the north by the United States, on the east by Cuba, and on the south and west by Mexico. Jellyfishes are invertebrates (animals without a spinal column). Some are also venomous...

Space Tourism: Ready for a Skyrocketing Holiday

Do you wish for an "unearthly " vacation? American astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin, famous for being the second man to land on the moon, is one of the few people working to promote tourism in space. But if the thought of a holiday in space is mind-boggling, the cost of that thought is even more so - almost $200...

Why do Flies have Compound Eyes?

Just like a man woos the woman he loves, takes her to nice restaurants, buys her presents, and courts her to impress her before marriage, animals too choose their mates through courtship. Since animals cannot do all these, they do it differently. Some animals put up a colourful display, while others give little gifts to their beloved - a choice...

Logging on to Aliens

Do you believe that there might be life on other planets? Would you like to be the first 'Earthling' to make contact with an alien? Well, you can start your search from home. All you need is a computer and Internet access, and you can join the project of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA launched the...

How does the Lotus Flower Clean itself?

How will you explain the meaning of purity to someone? Well, many people do it by giving the example of the lotus -- it grows in muddy waters but the flower remains spotless. It is not surprising that the lotus has a special or sacred place in world religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. It is a symbol of purity,...

The dabbawalas of Mumbai

Late every morning at Mumbai, in India, rows and rows of neatly stacked dabbas (boxes) with weird markings on the top are trundled across busy office buildings. At fifteen to one, a cloth capped man delivers one of these cylindrical boxes on my table in the Fort area. At once I open the case and find the lunch my...

Spiders and their Magical Web

Most of us have come across cobwebs that accumulate in our walls, and ceilings when we dust our homes. The webs are under tables, cellars, and sometimes across branches and leaves at the park. All these cobwebs are the work of spiders. Spider webs are fine silken threads. Originally spiders spun silk to protect their eggs and to line their...

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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...

An Organism that is visible from Space

The elephant is the largest land animal. The Blue whale is the largest sea animal. But however big these animals may be, they can...

The Adventurer

I am sure all families are interesting. But I like to think that my family is especially interesting. I have such great nephews and...

Dress like an Egyptian

I am writing this as I am travelling in my time machine. I know how important it is to keep a diary of happenings....

Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart was one of the world's most celebrated aviators. She broke records and charted new skies in the course of her short life....