Editorial

Researchers from Indian Space Research Organisation and the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics seem to hove stumbled on to what can possibly be extraterrestrial microbes in the higher reaches of the atmosphere. If their findings ore borne out by further experiments, it will certainly be a leg-up for exobiology, the study of the possibility of life elsewhere in the cosmos (See Career-Exobiology - December 2000 issue of Biology Today). Scientist always look forward to the discovery of alien life-be it in a Martian meteorite found here on the Earth, or on some other planet in space - with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. The excitement, of course, springs from anticipating the first ever encounter with extraterrestrial life. But then there is also the very real and frightening possibility of such life fuming out to be some kind of virulent and deadly microbes. This is a major worry more...

Doctors believe they hove found o way to fertilise on egg with cells from any port of the body. rather than sperm. An Australian team has created embryos in this way with mice. The research, which complement efforts to enable infertile women to "re program me" donated eggs with their Own genetic recipe, was originally intended to help couples to have babies that ore their own genetic offspring, even when the man has no sperm or even sperm-making cells. This kind of researchers, in theory at least, can enable a lesbian couple to hove o baby, with one woman contributing an egg are the second a cell to fertilise it. There are theoretical problems lo overcome in combining the genes of two women, because aspects of development ore controlled by a paternal gene, when a maternal copy is turned off, and vice versa, as a result of a process called more...

The Sun's outer layers form the corona, and are heated to millions of degrees by a continual input of energy from the surface, where magnetic fields twist and reconnect. In a hail of millions of solar micro-flares per day, magnetic energy from these constant 'short circuits' is pumped into accelerating protons and electrons to high energy, and these then diffuse into the corona to heat it. The solar wind consists of the flow of particles from the Sun at speeds of 300-400 kilometers/sec. By the time this wind reaches the orbit of the Earth, its density is only about 5 particles (mostly hydrogen and helium nuclei) per cubic centimeter. The Sun loses about 1/100 trillionth of its mass ' every year from this wind- Other stars have much heftier winds that cause the star to lose 1/100,000 of its mass each year. High-speed wind streams arise from coronal holes. These more...

Researchers in Chicago have now built a half-living, half-robot creature, Astounding as it may sound, the breakthrough is not so much about building man-machines as. it is about investigating the way the human brain functions The experiment connects the brain of on eel- like fish to a computer and forms a closed system between the two entities — one living, the other mechanical. The robot's sensor detects when a tight is switched on and sends signals to the animal's brain which in turn returns Impulses Instruct mg the robot (and the animal attached to if) to move towards the light, In effect, the scientists have been able to infiltrate into an organism's mind. ' The exciting field of neural engineering, as the name suggests, looks at the billions of nerves that make up the human body as parts of on incredibly complex machine. With the advent of nano-technology (which Is more...

If state-run educational institutions I across India hove become a tragic travesty, many privately-owned teaching shops mushroomed to fill the lacunae of learning ore no better. In fact, the latter exploit more by charging exorbitant fees. Badly shaken by the ever Increasing criticism of tutorial Institutes as schools for scandal, the Maharashtra Govt. is trying to regularise the coaching institutes run in overcrowded cubicles or cramped classrooms. In the past these hove been embroiled in countless controversies about leaked papers, rigged examinations and misleading publicity. A recent rule that college teachers cannot simultaneously be attached to colleges and coaching institutes has flopped due  to lack of implementation. Those caught playing a double role decided to leave the cash-starved colleges for the ignoble but more lucrative option. The recent ordinance that insists that coaching institutes register themselves, also enforces 19 conditions including a strict fee structure. This has made coaching class more...

The sultan of 20th century science fiction, Arthur C Clarke, said that the only way to discover the limits of the possible is to venture beyond into the impossible. At the start of the new millennium, advances in scientific research and technology have so completely overtaken our lives that it has become impossible to fathom what else we might see and experience in our own lifetimes. Incredible journeys now extend beyond mere geography; biologically, we hove jouneyed for inside our own bodies. Biotechnology has undergone a complete transformation -from a dull, laboratory science to a vibrant and pioneering branch of science. Some of the newly evolved bio-techniques like in vitro fertilisation and genetic engineering, exotransplantation and cloning seem straight out of bizarre science fiction and hold out unimaginable future possiblities. In Japan, scientists have now 'constructed' spermatozoa in a laboratory test-tube, the draft map of the human genome was completed more...

The completion of the human genome a map of man's genetic constitution marks a scientific milestone which will transform biology from being a descriptive science to a predictive one. The recent rapid strides in genetic engineering and and biosciences hove always suggested that the day was not for off when biologists would start enumerating the genetic alphabets, And now that day Is finally here with scientists putting together o sort of periodic table of life from which one con look up the complete list and structure of all genes. No longer is it necessary for a biology student or a post-doctoral fellow to toil for months, frying to isolate genes; one can now easily look up with information on the internet. Currently the complete genome sequence of over 60 species are available. Each cell contains the genetic code in the bundles coiled chromosomes. The letters of the code As, Cs, more...

There are cinema halls in almost every town. But there is circus hall anywhere. They are possible in big cities like Bombay Calcutta and Delhi. Going to cinema has become a habit. But it is not so with circus. Once there arrived a company to my town. The company announced its arrival to the people by loud-speakers and distribution of hand-bills, t was glad because I had not seen a good circus before. I reached the circus ground in the evening before the time of the show. There were many other students of my school. We went together in a party to the manager and requested him to give us tickets at the concessional rate. He agreed. So, inspire of the great rush we bought our tickets before the start of the show. The circus hall was very big. It had been erected on beams and was covered with thick more...

Schools are neither good nor bad. Each school has its special mode of functioning. There is also a school to suit every child's needs, as parents are perceptive enough to seek out the strengths and weaknesses of the schools they want to admit their children to. Though no two schools are alike in every respect/ all schools have, and ought to have, the common educational aims. The preparation of children to be balanced, useful, good human beings, the all-round development of their abilities and potentials to the maximum possible, and preparing them in a planned manner to face life's all important challenges fearlessly. The educational aims and the philosophy in them sound too simple to be believed in by the man in the street, but not easy to achieve in a given period of time. Some educationists ore of the opinion that children should learn to cope with the stresses more...

Whether one is studying physics, chemistry or biology there are certain topics which always overlap. Statics and dynamics including projectile motion in physics sometimes overlap with mathematics. Kinetic theory of gases, nuclear and atomic physics and radioactivity ore common to physics and chemistry. But certain topics are also in different levels. Now genetics, structure of DNA, RNA, protein and their action will be common between chemistry and biology. These overlapping chapters hove one advantage. Students know that subjects cannot be put in water tight compartments. One should learn to have an overall picture of science. However, when the same topic is dealt with in two subjects with varying rigour, students are at a loss to know which one is correct. Certain portions are dealt in detail in chemistry and the calculations of the Bohr atom model is more important in physics. Now that even Nobel Prizes in Chemistry and Biology more...


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