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Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

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Photo credit: emma thomas

The sun worked its magic
Anti-freeze upon the frosted pile:
Across window panes
In every wink of dew
And in every thicket denuded
Of green swathes,
A new beginning.

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Take the case of flora and fauna in any region. They cannot do much to modify their surroundings. We see however from various eco-habitats that harsh conditions do not prevent their onward development. Nature is dynamic and have myriad agencies like wind rain sunshine for example to control and push forward the cause of life forms. Laws of Nature are impartial and allow life forms make the best of circumstances arising out of the cosmos within which universes follow same laws. This being the case flora and fauna must depend on itself and other life forms for their survival. If trees are impossible these must be scaled down to minimise the rigours as we shall see in the case of the Tundra biome.

The term tundra actually comes from the Finnish word ‘tunturia‘ which means ‘treeless plain’. Although most biomes on earth are covered in trees, the tundra is known for its lack of trees. The tundra has very few trees due to several factors. First, the short summer season results in a short growing season, which makes it difficult for trees to grow larger. The persistent and strong winds also make it difficult for large trees to survive due to damage caused by the wind. The high winds dry the surface of the land and create a colder environment. The winds also move dust and snow around the land.

The trees that can survive in the tundra are often small, which reduces the damage caused by wind and makes it possible for these tress to be covered in snow during the winter. Although it would seem that being covered in snow would make the trees colder, in fact, the snow acts as insulation for the trees and helps them stay warmer during the winter months.The plants that can grow here are dwarf shrubs, grasses, mosses, and lichens. 

Other plants of the tundra also have adaptations that help them survive. During winter months, many plants go dormant to tolerate the cold temperatures. When plants go dormant they are still alive, but they are not actively growing. By going dormant during the winter, plants are able to save energy and use it during more favorable conditions, like warmer summer months. During the summer, the top layer of the soil thaws slightly, and plants have adapted to take advantage of this change in soil temperature and of this short growing season. Plants grow rapidly during the short summer season and they flower more quickly.

Some plants have developed more specific adaptations for survival. The flowers of some plants increase their heat efficiency by slowly moving during the day to position themselves in a direction where they can catch the most rays from the sun. Other plants have protective coverings such as thick hairs that help protect them from wind, cold and desiccation, which is also known as extreme drying. Although in most environments, plants drop old leaves, in the tundra some plants retain old leaves to increase survival. By retaining old leaves, the plant conserves nutrients and the leaves provide protection from the elements of the environment such as wind and cold.

Additionally, the *permafrost makes it difficult for roots to penetrate the soil and create a strong support base. The cold temperature of the permafrost also makes decomposition slower, which limits the amount of nutrients being cycled through the environment.

Animals Of The Tundra

Due to the harsh conditions of the tundra biome, there are only certain animals that can survive in this environment. There are a few large species, such as musk oxen and caribou, that live in the tundra, but most animals are smaller in size. Some of the most common small animals in the tundra include lemmings, voles and shrews. Due to the large number of small rodents and mammals, predators such as arctic foxes and snowy owls also inhabit the tundra.

benny

*Due to extremely cold temperatures that last most of the year, the layer of ground just below the surface stays permanently frozen. This frozen layer of ground is called permafrost.

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One of the most distinctive physical features of the human brain is the fact that the cortex is divided into two hemispheres. The main connection between the two halves is a thick bundle of fibers called the corpus callosum. This is no quiet lane, it’s a major freeway constituting around 200 million neural tracts.

In an increasingly rare procedure, the callosum is sliced as a radical treatment for epilepsy. People who receive this treatment are referred to colloquially as split-brain patients and lab tests reveal profound effects on their mental functioning. In many ways, it’s as if the surgery leaves their mind divided in two.

A new report presents the case of an elderly gentleman, referred to as H.W., who aged 88 presented at a clinic complaining of recent intermittent problems controlling his left hand and some mild memory difficulties. Preliminary tests found him to be high functioning. But when the researchers – a team led by Natalie Brescian – scanned H.W.’s brain, they made a surprising discovery. He had no corpus callosum. The main channel between his two brain hemispheres was completely missing.

The medical name for H.W.’s rare condition is agenesis of the corpus callosum, meaning that he was born with this structure missing. Despite of this he’d led a normal, independent life – first in the military and later as a flower delivery man. Until recently, he appeared to have suffered no significant psychological or neurological effects of his unusual brain. The problems with his left hand, H.W. said, were new.

Brescian and her colleagues conducted comprehensive neuropsych tests on H.W. and on most he excelled or performed normally. He did display memory problems and also some difficulties with fine motor control, especially when using both hands at once, and drawing. These issues, especially of motor control, are likely related to his congenital [from birth] condition, but they may also result from age-related neurological changes. The main message, though, is H.W.’s remarkable high-functioning, and his apparently unaffected life.

How can such a profound brain abnormality have so little functional consequence? The corpus callosum is not the only connection between the hemispheres, but it is by far the most important. “This case study underscores the plasticity of the developing brain,” the researchers said. Their theory is that the “congenital absence of the corpus callosum stimulates early cerebral organization and the development of new or stronger stronger connections compensating for the losses.

Nature must surely play a part in repairing damages considering there are great many accidents owing to circumstances of the very planet we live in. Earliest cosmic impact that wrenched the earth a fiery ball from the Sun gives it a slight tilt. Seasons owe to it. Even here some parts are away from the Sun to be called inhospitable.

Take the case of the tundra biome It is called cold desert where the harshness of desert and coldness of Arctic region are upon any life form that must survive there. How do they still? (To be Continued)

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Malware is a software which is specifically designed to disrupt or damage a computer system. The internet Age is touted as a milestone in the march of human progress . Progress is not in one single innovation but incorporates many innovations into a coherent peak, a position from which it is impossible to come back to older way of doing things.

Once printing became possible and printing presses began churning out books on a mass scale the age of manuscripts that catered to a few had come to a close. The Age of information took the world into a level the Church had no way of controlling. Along came Reformation, Enlightenment and social upheavals in many parts of Europe. We have come far from the Age of printing and in our paperless society we have incorporated many other innovations like dispensing with carrying banknotes and emails that do away with the postal systems. Progress means so many innovations spliced together makes his going back to his old ways useless. But progress comes at a price. So does tinkering with nature. In the interactive cyberspace hacking, malware, phishing are all sad realities. How does malware in Nature works?

There are good reasons to believe that agricultural modernisation programs in Africa created the conditions for the outbreak of Ebola.

Nature fights back always. It is easy to trace direct connection in many cases. For example one may point out the cause of mudslide directly to deforestation. There exists a direct cause-effect relationship between nature and the humans.

Progress for man means more options to simplify life. Whereas nature can show its complexity in creating like a malware in its existing systems. There is oxygen cycle and other systems that Nature  works with. Ecological balance for example is brought about by Nature over a long period of time. Where nature works with long range, man’s progress is much more immediate and need based. He looks to his needs than of other species. We need to think how nature could step in to offset the harm man does to her natural process. Acid rain is a kind of malware Nature sets in motion, that shall have a bearing on what man brings into the relationship.

Let us look at the present scourge of Ebola.

Poverty in Africa means poor rural health care while the rich countries exploiting the resources contribute to their poverty in some manner. It is poverty that drives African villagers to encroach further into the forest, where they become infected with the virus.When villagers hunting and butchering wildlife, or through contact with body fluids from bats become carriers for example Nipah. The effects of land grabs and the focus on certain fruit crop species leads to an *Allee effect.

Where sudden changes in one ecological element causes the mechanisms for keeping populations – bats and viruses to shift. Equilibrium maintained by nature’s mechanisms is upset and the resulting malware make viruses seek alternative hosts than bats.

In Malaysia the introduction of fruit tree crops in cleared forests and agricultural expansion was associated with Nipah virus. Bats feeding on fruit trees infected pigs in pens, which provided a vector for the virus to humans. The Japanese Encephalitis, a virus carried by wild birds which expanded its range due to growing rice and pig farming.

Nature fights back man who can only see profits in their relationship. One might consider this as down side of progress.

*

  1. The Allee effect is a phenomenon in biology characterized by a correlation between population size or density and the mean individual fitness (often measured as per capita population growth rate) of a population or species. (wikipedia)

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What gives the flora and fauna the wherewithal to create strategies since they cannot control their environment? We see from various eco-habits* harsh conditions do not prevent their onward development. Nature is dynamic and her laws are impartial and allow life forms make the best of circumstances arising out of the cosmos within which universes follow same laws. How the Earth is positioned in relation to the Sun for an example gives us seasons. Around the equator the Sun is always overhead that makes seasons less defined than in the temperate regions. It dictates way of life of species living in any ecosystem.

Take the case of the tundra biome It is called cold desert where the harshness of desert and coldness of Arctic region are upon any life form that must survive there. How do they still?

Due to extremely cold temperatures that last most of the year, the layer of ground just below the surface stays permanently frozen. This frozen layer of ground is called permafrost. The tundra only receives between 6 to 10 inches of precipitation a year, which is less than most of the deserts on earth.

The tundra is also a very windy environment. The high winds dry the surface of the land and create a colder environment. The winds also move dust and snow around the land, which can make life more challenging in the tundra.

Plants Of The Tundra

Although most biomes on earth are covered in trees, the tundra is known for its lack of trees. The term tundra actually comes from the Finnish word ‘tunturia’ which means ‘treeless plain’. The tundra has very few trees due to several factors. First, the short summer season results in a short growing season, which makes it difficult for trees to grow larger. The persistent and strong winds also make it difficult for large trees to survive due to damage caused by the wind. Additionally, the permafrost makes it difficult for roots to penetrate the soil and create a strong support base. The cold temperature of the permafrost also makes decomposition slower, which limits the amount of nutrients being cycled through the environment.

Although there are few trees in the tundra, there is a variety of smaller vegetation that grows in this environment. Plants that are commonly found in the tundra biome include dwarf shrubs, grasses, mosses, and lichens.

Plant Adaptations

The plants and few trees that are found in the tundra have developed important adaptations that have made it possible for them to survive in this harsh environment. The trees that can survive in the tundra are often small, which reduces the damage caused by wind and makes it possible for these tress to be covered in snow during the winter. Although it would seem that being covered in snow would make the trees colder, in fact, the snow acts as insulation for the trees and helps them stay warmer during the winter months.

Other plants of the tundra also have adaptations that help them survive. During winter months, many plants go dormant to tolerate the cold temperatures. When plants go dormant they are still alive, but they are not actively growing. By going dormant during the winter, plants are able to save energy and use it during more favorable conditions, like warmer summer months. During the summer, the top layer of the soil thaws slightly, and plants have adapted to take advantage of this change in soil temperature and of this short growing season. Plants grow rapidly during the short summer season and they flower more quickly.

Some plants have developed more specific adaptations for survival. The flowers of some plants increase their heat efficiency by slowly moving during the day to position themselves in a direction where they can catch the most rays from the sun. Other plants have protective coverings such as thick hairs that help protect them from wind, cold and desiccation, which is also known as extreme drying. Although in most environments, plants drop old leaves, in the tundra some plants retain old leaves to increase survival. By retaining old leaves, the plant conserves nutrients and the leaves provide protection from the elements of the environment such as wind and cold.

Animals Of The Tundra

Due to the harsh conditions of the tundra biome, there are only certain animals that can survive in this environment. There are a few large species, such as musk oxen and caribou, that live in the tundra, but most animals are smaller in size. Some of the most common small animals in the tundra include lemmings, voles and shrews. Due to the large number of small rodents and mammals, predators such as arctic foxes and snowy owls also inhabit the tundra.

*The term eco-habit is used in the sense various components living and non living forms in Nature give and take and in this process life forms create conditions for their sustainability.(ack:Tundra Biome-Margaret Cunningham)

benny

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Eagles, especially Peregrine eagles catch with their feet.

Peregrine eagles descend at 350 km per hour.

Sustainability of Golden eagles requires a territory of 11x8miles. This is determined in terms of their nest, food resources and for brooding.

No wonder they fight each other for their territory against all other eagles.

Eagles would guards their territorial rights for generations unbroken that must be result of evolutionary legacy.

Golden eagles feed on hares, rabbits. Average I meter long beak to tail and 2m. Wing span. Diurnal hunters.

Vision is 21/2 times sharper than man’s . Eye to body ratio in a man would require eyes as big as oranges.They have binocular vision to measure the depth. Have binocular vision.

Mother warms the chicks by constant presence. Depends on males to bring food

If the female partner dies golden eagle male will find another.

*Kestrels are smaller are specialized to hunt by tracking urine of vol mouse-reflects ultray violet rays.

*Peregrine falcons wings 4 beats per second.

In the busy cities they scare away rooks and pigeons.

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1. Elephant shrews heart beats at 800 times per minute.

Humming birds 1200 beats per minute.

Size for size consumes fuel 3 times that of a fighter plane.

On the other hand a sloth has heart at 20 minutes per minute. It needs a month for digesting its food.

2.Cholesterol insoluble in blood is carried across by lipoprotein.

3. Bacteria in bodies 3 million years old are revived as permafrost in Siberia thawed.

benny

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