Inner Nature: Good Vibrations – The Science of Hearing

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times A disturbance in any medium except vacuum causes vibrations whose energy is transmitted from atom to atom in all directions from the epicenter. These waves encode the amplitude (intensity) and frequency (pitch)(see Figure 1) of the disturbance thus broadcasting information to anyone who can decode the vibrations. Animals, whose very existence depends on whether...

Inner Nature: Eye see colors

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times Eyes harvest light reflected from objects. Optic nerves transmit that information to the brain. The brain turns that information into an image. Thus eyes are the intermediary between an object and its perception. Let’s look at them more carefully. Don’t shrink from anatomical detail or biochemistry – this is fun stuff. It’s fun because delving into biomechanical...

Inner Nature: The eyes have it

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times The Earth rotates once on its axis every day, with the resultant periodicity of night following day. The predictability of exposure to the energy sources of light and heat have allowed lifeforms to evolve mechanisms to harvest it during daytime and develop materials to store that energy. All energy that emanates from the Sun is in the form of electromagnetic waves....

Inner Nature: Metamorphosis – Buggy Development

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times The growth of a single cell from a fertilized egg, or zygote, to an adult composed of trillions of cells is amazing and magical. This process which scientists, with their knack for understatement, call “development” happens with most eukaryotic organisms – those that have cells with a nucleus and other membranous compartments. Nucleated eukaryotic cells are...

Inner Nature: Aposematism – Worn Warning

By Vidya Rajan, Columnist, The Times Aposematic coloration refers to the conspicuous colors some animals exhibit to advertise their unpalatability or warn of peril to potential predators. A familiar example is the black and yellow/orange stripes of bees. Black and orange aposematic coloration extends to flatworms (ex. sea slugs), reptiles (ex. coral snakes), fish (ex. lionfish) amphibians (ex. newts...