Over the last few centuries, we have gained a decent understanding of nature. However, every now and then, nature plays a surprising new card to stun and intrigue. One such new observation has led to the discovery of a new behaviour operating in crystalline materials.
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Aerosols are extremely small solid or liquid particles that remain suspended in air. Examples of such aerosols include dust, smoke and deodorant sprays. Apart from causing local air pollution, these particles reflect and absorb radiation from the sun and hence affect both local and global climate. A recent study published in the International Journal of Climatology has investigated how soot aerosols accumulating in other parts of Asia influence the Indian summer monsoon.
Science aspires, not merely to understand the beauty of nature, but to also be able to predict it. The earth and its atmosphere, and the sky beyond it, have always fascinated us. In spite of the scientific understanding achieved in the last two or three centuries, they remain sources of exquisite beauty and deep mystery. The intricate processes that affect weather patterns have perplexed humans across the ages. In an article published in the Journal of the Indian Institute of Science the well-known scientist Roddam Narasimha talks of earth system science as a “strong candidate for a visionary program for the 21st century”.
Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have developed a tiny gas sensor that can detect harmful gases like toluene and acetone, gases that we encounter in our daily lives. These sensors could replace the big, expensive instruments that are currently available in the market.
A novel battery using sodium compounds has been developed, which can potentially be used to provide electricity for grid-power storage in remote areas and renewable energy generators like solar cells and wind turbines. Though scientists have been trying to use sodium in batteries for some time, this is the first time they have been able to achieve an operating voltage as high as 3.8 V.
A fig is not just a fruit, but also a live nursery for insects. Starting off as a live nursery with more than 2000 flowers, called the “syconium”, it has then played host to thousands of tiny insects. These insects are more than just casual visitors — they play a tug of war with each other inside the fig, deciding between them how long it takes for the fig fruit to develop.
Wasps lay eggs using an egg laying organ called the ovipositor. Some wasps lay eggs inside figs and need to drill through the fig fruit to do so. Researchers from IISc have unearthed the mechanism that these wasps use — they have teeth like projections on the ovipositor, like a saw. And that’s not all, these teeth are coated with zinc. Insights gained from this study may help us to build tools that aid in robot assisted surgery, and novel mechanisms to bore through hard surfaces.
Every day, from sunrise to sunset, we witness innumerable events that happen in nature. Since thousands of years, humans have been intrigued by the beauty and clock-like precision of the day and night cycle. This curiosity and the desire to know the secrets of nature resulted in a huge body of knowledge, called physics. Later, physics led to scientific and industrial revolutions in Europe and North America, which eventually spread to rest of the world. Since then, physics has continued to touch human lives in numerous ways.