Water Pollution – Types and Effects

Our mothers ask us to drink clean water and not drink water from unreliable sources. What happens when we tend to drink water from the roadside lemonade seller or from that ‘dirty’ roadside ‘gol gappe waala’ whose ‘chaat’ we find so yummy? We get an upset tummy and we have to rush to the doctor. Why so? Because the water we had was contaminated. It was dirty and had harmful bacteria in it.

What is water pollution?

Water pollution is the process which happens when pollutants contaminate water. Contamination of water bodies like lakes, rivers, oceans and groundwater occur when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without any treatment to remove harmful compounds. Water pollution has become a global concern now as many deaths and diseases are caused by drinking impure, dirty water. Many countries like India and China lack adequate amount of safe drinking water and thousands die every day due to drinking contaminated water. Even developed countries like the United States of America suffer from the issue of contaminated water. When water is affected by anthropogenic (caused by humans) contaminants, it is said to be polluted. This means that this water is not safe for drinking purposes.

Who pollutes water?

Earthquakes, volcano eruptions and natural environmental disasters add a large amount of pollution to water bodies. Human and animal waste too, pollute water and make it harmful for consumption.

Every year tonnes of industrial waste and toxic chemicals from factories and manufacturing plants are released directly into water bodies, without proper waste management or recycling, harming the balance of water bodies.

Wastes from humans and animals too pollute water and make it harmful for consumption. Toxic chemicals discharged directly into water bodies without control or contamination management, also pollute water and cause irreparable harm to marine life.

Some common ways water is polluted

  1. Oil spills from huge ships
  2. Leakage of fuel from boats
  3. Chemical waste from industries
  4. Plastics thrown in rivers
  5. Mining
  6. Dumping trash into water bodies
  7. Sewage water produced by households
  8. Burning of fossils fuels like coal and oil
  9. Chemical fertilizers

Types of water pollution

1. Nutrients pollution : Industries throw their wastes like fertilizers, waste water and sewage into river bodies. These make weed and algae grow rapidly in the water, making it unsuitable for drinking while depleting the level of oxygen in the water. This harms the organisms living in water.

2. Surface water pollution : Ground pollutants like chemical wastes, insecticides and other wastes mix with rain water run offs, dissolve and mix with water bodies like streams, rivers and lakes. This is known as surface water pollution.

3. Oxygen depletion : Water contains aerobic and anaerobic organisms, i.e., organisms which need oxygen to grow and which die in oxygen, respectively. With an increase in water pollutants, the oxygen level will deplete, leading to the death/choking of aerobic organisms.

4. Ground water pollution : Chemicals and pesticides are used in growing crops. These harmful substances enter the ground along with rainwater and cause the water table to get contaminated. This is known as groundwater pollution. They also enter lakes and rivers when groundwater spills occur.

Effects of water pollution

The accumulation of garbage in our water bodies come from human activities and neglect and total disrespect for our natural resources. The effects of water pollution are gory and have long term effects which are very difficult to undo.

It makes sea creatures like fishes, sea turtles, seals and even birds die, because materials such as plastic is mistaken as food by animals and eaten. Since it cannot be digested, it sometimes causes death in some cases.

Unclean and contaminated water causes human deaths and diseases. In many places, water comes in contact with industrial and human wastes and people drink such contaminated water. They are prone to deaths and diseases like hepatitis, cholera or typhoid. Water pollution accounts for as many as three million deaths every year, most of which are children.

Water pollution disrupts the food chain on land, water and air. Tiny animals eat toxins along with their food. Bigger animals eat smaller animals. This leads to high levels of chemical toxicity in bigger animals. Toxins accumulation from the lower level to higher level of the food chain occurs.

Things that you can do to conserve water and make it safe :

  • Water is precious, so use water wisely. Do not waste water in the shower and always close taps when not in use.
  • Do not throw paint, oil, medicines or plastic down your toilet drains. Contact your municipal corporation for help with disposing chemicals or medicines.
  • Plant lots and lots of trees around your homes to encourage clean rain water to replenish your water table/ground water and adopt rain water harvesting.
  • Farmers can be encouraged to use Integrated Pest Management techniques to control pests and reduce dependency on chemical pesticides.

Types of Motion

What is the study of mechanics?

The relationship between forces, motion and energy is known as mechanics. It is through the study of mechanics that we are able to understand and calculate various important constants and constraints in developing mechanical machinery and tools.

What is motion?

Motion maybe described as the movement of an object or body over distance in time, or it maybe described as the change in position of a body or an object in time.

A body cannot move or come to a halt, if it is already in movement, unless it is acted upon by an external force. This is known as inertia.

What are the laws of motion?

Newton’s three Laws of Motion define the frame work for motion of bodies with mass. It is defined in a 3 dimensional co-ordinate system, that states the position of the body in either a stationary state or in movement.

Newton’s First Law of Motion

Newton’s First Law of Motion states that, a body at rest or in motion, will continue to be at rest or be in movement, unless acted upon by an external force. This means that things cannot move or change direction on their own. This is known as inertia.

Newton’s Second Law of Motion

Newton’s Second Law of Motion states that a force acting on a body is equal to the mass of the body, times the acceleration of the body. It means that if the force acts on a stationary body, it will move at the speed the force has acted on it. If it is already in movement, it will either slow down, speed up, or change direction depending on the force that has been applied.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law describes that forces work in pairs. When a force acts on an object, an equal force is applied back by the object.

What are the different types of motions?

1. Translatory Motion

Translatory motion maybe described as the movement of an object in a straight line, like a vehicle travelling on a road or an object falling down due to the gravitational pull of the earth.

2. Rotational Motion

Rotational motion is the movement of an object, in a circular path along a fixed point as the appointed centre and the movement is along the circumference of the path, at a regular distance from the centre.

3. Periodic Motion

A motion repeated in equal intervals of time, like a rocking chair or the oscillation of pendulum in a clock.

Degrees of freedom

Degrees of Freedom is an important aspect in the study of mechanics, to determine the latitude/variable of movement in space of a mechanism. It is primarily used in robotics and kinematics to create simulated movements in a defined axis.

What is kinematics?

Kinematics is the science which studies motion of objects. It is used in astro-physics to study the path of celestial bodies, in mechanics to study the possible movement of a joint and assembly of creating moving objects.

Chemical Effects of Electric Current

What is electric current?

An electric current is the flow of electric charge. In electric circuits this charge is often carried by moving electrons, in a wire. It is either Direct Current (DC) or Alternating Current (AC).
Electric currents cause heating in certain metals like tungsten, which creates light in incandescent light bulbs. They also create magnetic fields, which are used in motors, inductors and generators.

The SI unit for measuring an electric current is the Ampere, which is the flow of electric charge across a surface at the rate of one coulomb per second. Electric current is measured using a device called an ammeter.

What happens when electric current is passed through a substance?

When electric current is passed through solids, it can either conduct the current, in which case, the material is a good conductor of electricity. At times, either magnetic effect, heat or light is generated.

Example : Iron, Copper, Gold, Platinum, Silver, Tungsten
Incase a solid doesn’t allow the current to pass through, it means it is a bad conductor or insulator of electricity.

Example : Wax, Wood, Plastic, Glass

When electric current passes through gases, light maybe generated.
When electric current is passed through a liquid (electrolyte), it causes a chemical reaction that separates ions. This process is known as Electrolysis.

What is electrolysis?

Electrolysis is the process when a liquid/solution of minerals, salt, etc, undergoes a chemical reaction when electrical current (Direct Current) is passed through it. A chemical reaction maybe defined as an exchange of ions. In this process ions are either absorbed or released.

Who coined the term electrolysis?

The term Electrolysis was coined by Michael Faraday, in 1832. He even discovered the two laws of Electrolysis, known as Faraday’s Law of Electrolysis.

Faraday’s 1st Law of electrolysis

According to this Law, the physical quantity of elements separated by passing electrical current through a molten or dissolved salt is proportional to the quantity of electric charge passed through the circuit.

Faraday’s 2nd Law of electrolysis

According to this Law, when the same amount of current is passed through different electrolytes/elements connected in series, the mass of substance liberated/deposited at the electrodes is directly proportional to their equivalent weight.

What are the uses of electrolysis?

Electrolysis is used in many industrial processes: separation of metals and minerals from ores and mineral salts coating of one metal with another, ie., electroplating

Prime Meridian Facts and Information

What is the Geographic Grid?

If you look at a globe, you will notice some lines drawn on it vertically as well as horizontally. These lines are imaginary lines and are known as the geographic grid. This grid system was created in order to easily describe a location on the Earth.

The geographic grid is made up of lines of latitude, also known as parallels, and lines of longitude, also known as meridians.

What is the Prime Meridian?

All of us have read that the Equator is an imaginary line that divides the Earth into two parts – Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

Similarly, we also have another imaginary line called the Prime Meridian that divides the Earth into Eastern and Western Hemispheres. At times, it is also referred to as the Greenwich Meridian.

This imaginary line passes through three continents – Europe, Africa and Antarctica and four major countries – United Kingdom, France, Spain and Western Africa.

The Prime Meridian, as it passes through Greenwich, England, is considered 0 degrees longitude.

What is Greenwich Meridian Time?

We know that the Earth is round and that it takes 24 hours to complete one rotation around the sun. The side facing the sun for half a day / half a rotation is in daylight, while the side facing away has night. People living in different parts of the world cannot have the same time.

Countries all over the world are divided into 24 time zones, based on longitudinal lines. Greenwich Mean Time or GMT is the clock time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. GMT is now-a-days also referred to as Universal Coordinated Time, or UTC.

When the sun is at its highest point over the Prime Meridian, it is 12:00 noon at Greenwich.

What is the International Date Line?

The longitude at 180 degrees from the Greenwich Time Line is known as International Date Line. It was designated in 1884. If you travel west from the International Date Line, you add a day, and if you travel east from the International Date Line, you subtract a day.

3 Fun fact about the International Date Line

  1. Ferdinand Magellan(Born 1480 – Died 1521), a famous sea explorer set out sail around the Earth. His sailors kept a careful record of time and dates as they traveled. Yet, when they came back to the place from where they had started, they noticed that their calendars were off by one day. What had happened?
  2. Well, the day was not lost at once; it was lost little by little, as they sailed across the planet.
  3. The explanation is simple; if you stay at one place, a day lasts for 24 hours, but if you travel across the Earth, you may add or lose a day in your calendar, depending on the direction in which you are travelling!

Pure Substances and Mixtures

What is matter?

Matter can be defined as any substance that has inertia, occupies space and has mass.

How is matter classified?

Scientists of the world classify matter as solid, liquid or gas, but there is one more interesting way to classify it. Matter can also be classified as pure substances and mixtures.

What is a pure substance?

A pure substance is a type of matter which exists in its most basic or purest form and cannot be broken down further. Examples of pure substances include water, gases like carbon dioxide, oxygen and metals like platinum, gold and silver.

Each pure substance has its own set of unique chemical and physical properties which helps us in identifying it.

Examples of pure substances

Water has a freezing and melting point of 0°C and a boiling point of 100°C. It is colourless, tasteless and odourless.
Gold is considered pure at 24 karat. It is yellow in color, solid at room temperature and is regarded as a good conductor of electricity. It is also malleable and ductile in nature.

Types of pure substances

Pure substances can be divided into two categories – elements and compounds.
Elements are made up of the same types of atoms. The known elements listed in the periodic table can be considered pure substances. Examples of elements include hydrogen, oxygen, gold, silver
Compounds are made up of different types of atoms joined together by chemical bonds. Examples of compounds include water, glucose, salt and carbon dioxide.

What is a mixture?

Mixture is a combination of two or more pure substances where each substance keeps its own identity upon mixing. Mixtures are present almost everywhere on Earth. Look at rocks, the ocean, rivers or even the atmosphere. All of them are mixtures! In other words, anything that you can mix together is a mixture. Even the foods you eat.

Why is it called a mixture?

It means the fundamental chemical structure of the components in a mixture does not change upon mixing.

Examples of mixtures

Although water is a pure substance, if you put sand into a glass of water, it would turn into a mixture. Each of the components of a mixture can be separated from one another. You can always separate the sand from water by filtering it.

If you take a mixture of salt and water, you can separate it by evaporating the water, to get salt in the container. Air, too, is a mixture of different gases such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen and water vapour etc. Blood is a mixture made up of different types of blood cells and plasma.

Types of mixtures

  1. Homogeneous mixture – The components of a homogeneous mixture have a uniform composition, and cannot be seen separately. The prefix ‘homo’ means same and it tells us that when two substances combine extremely well with one another, they form a uniform mixture. For example, sugar and water do not chemically react and form another compound although the water does turn sweet!
  2. Heterogeneous mixture – The components of a heterogeneous mixture do not have a uniform composition and can be viewed separately without losing their identity. For example, if you mix sulfur powder with iron dust, you can easily see the two separately. You can even separate the iron dust by using a magnet.

How do we differentiate between pure substances and mixtures?

  • A Pure Substance is matter which cannot be separated into its basic components by using a physical or a chemical process. The physical and chemical properties of pure substances are non-changing, if it is on its own without disturbing.
  • A Mixture is made up of a combination of two or more substances that are not united using a chemical reaction. The physical and chemical properties of mixtures vary.

What is Latitude and Longitude?

How can we accurately predict our position on our planet?

We can accurately know the position of any place on earth with the help of two imaginary lines running across the earth’s surface, called Latitudes and Longitudes. The meeting place where these lines cross each other is known as co-ordinates.

How are Latitudes and Longitudes measured?

  • The Greeks and various people over time, have been credited with calculating the circumference of the earth and include Plato and Archimedes. But the accepted circumference as we know today (40,075 km) has been accurately(with 1% error) calculated by Aryabhata from India(Born in 476 BC) and Eratosthenes from Greece (Born in 270 BC).
  • The imaginary line running around the middle of a spherical earth is known as the equator. Latitudes are horizontal, imaginery lines, running around parallelly and at, equal distances above and below the equator. The distance between them is calculated at degrees, minutes and seconds.
  • The equator is at 0 degrees.
  • The earth is divided into 181 latitudes.
  • Longitudes are imaginery lines running from the North Pole to the South Pole at the earth’s circumference. The lines of longitudes are often called meridians.
  • The earth is divided into 360 longitudes.
  • Greenwich is the designated 0 degrees longitude, since 1884. It was decided after a vote that involved 25 nations. The reason being the Royal Observatory was involved in generating accurate navigational information for 100s of years.

Why are Latitudes and Longitudes important?

  1. For centuries man has been venturing on journeys of discovery into the unknown seas. Latitudes and longitudes help in navigational charts, as the sea has no defined markers. Traveller and navigators through time have used the North Star or the Southern Cross Constellation to accurately pinpoint their position, depending which side of the equator they were on. Latitudes and Longitudes helped prepare maps, based on the positions of constellations.
  2. The latitudes and longitudes help us set time zones for the planet, based on earth’s rotation on it’s axis.
  3. The latitudes and longitudes help us locate an exact place on earth, based on the point where the latitudes and longitudes meet.
  4. Latitudes and longitudes help us predict weather and climatic changes, like for instance, the path of a cyclone or a storm.
  5. Our modern day Global Positioning Systems(GPS) are configured using latitudes and longitudes for satellite mapping of the earth and are used for tracking and route mapping.

Halley meridian and Bradley meridian

There are already two other meridian lines running through Greenwich, which were used before the 1884 conference, in Washington.

The Halley meridian was defined in 1721, by the English astronomer Edmond Halley, while the Bradley meridian of 1750, is still used as the standard definition of zero longitude in modern Ordnance Survey maps, which began in 1801, and have not moved onto the new system.

Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn

What is a solstice?

The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol – sun and sistere – to stand still; at the solstices, the seasonal movement of the Sun’s path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction. June 21st is the Summer Solstice and December 21st is the Winter Solstice. June 21st is the longest day and December 21st is the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere.

Why are the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn important?

The word Tropic comes from the Greek word Tropos, meaning turn; referring to the fact that the sun appears to turn back at the solstices. The Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are the two most important latitude lines made, apart from the equator.

They match the orientation of the Earth’s rotational axis to the ecliptical plane around the sun.

These are the latitudes at which the sun’s rays hit the Earth’s surface at a right angle both during Summer and Winter Solstice. At the start of winter in the northern hemisphere the sun’s rays are only hitting the Earth’s surface at a right angle (meaning the sun is directly overhead) at the Tropic of Capricorn. During the northern hemisphere’s summer the sun is directly overhead if you were standing at the Tropic of Cancer.

What is the Tropic of Cancer?

Also known as the Northern Tropic, the Tropic of Cancer is the parallel latitude that lies 23 degrees and 26′ north of the Equator. This is the exact location where the Sun is overhead on June 21st known as the June solstice. The location has been shifting and will keep changing over the years by a few minutes.

It is the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of winters in the Southern hemisphere. North of the Tropic of Cancer is the subtropics and the Northern Temperate Zones. South of the Tropic of Cancer are the Tropics. This area does not experience distinctly changing seasons because the sun is always high in the sky.

Which countries, continents and water bodies lie along the Tropic of Cancer?

There are 16 countries, 3 continents and 6 water bodies that the Tropic of Cancer passes through.
Continents : North America, Africa and Asia
Countries: Mexico, Bahamas (Archipelago), Niger, Algeria, Mauritania, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Western Sahara, Myanmar, Oman, Bangladesh, India, Saudi Arabia, China, United Arab Emirates, United States of America and Taiwan.
Water bodies: Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Taiwan Strait, Red Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

What is the Tropic of Capricorn?

Also known as the Southern Tropic, the Tropic of Capricorn lies 23 degrees 5′ south of the Equator. It is the farthest southern latitude at which the sun can reach or appear directly overhead. North of this latitude are the Tropics and below the Tropic of Capricorn are the Southern Temperate Zones. The sun appears directly over this latitude during the winter solstice, when the sun was entering the zodiac sign of Capricorn. December 21st is the day of winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Which countries, continents and water bodies lie along the Tropic of Capricorn?

There are 10 countries, 3 continents and 3 water bodies that pass through the Tropic of Capricorn.
Continents: South America, Africa, Australia
Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and Australia
Water Bodies: Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Ocean.

Parliament of India

What is a Parliament?

A Parliament is an important part of any democratic country. In modern political history, it is the elected legislative body of the country.  Generally, a modern parliament has three functions : representing the electorate, making laws, and overseeing the government via hearings and inquiries. Historically Parliaments include deliberative, consultative, and judicial assemblies.

What are the functions of the Parliament?

The Parliament in a democracy has immense powers. It is representative of the people. A country is divided into numerous constituencies and a member from each of these constituencies is elected to be representative in the Parliament.

The candidates who contest elections usually belong to different political parties. Once elected, these candidates become Members of Parliament or MPs. These MPs together make up the Parliament.

Who are the people who make the Indian Parliament?

The Indian Parliament is the supreme legislative body of the Indian Republic. The Indian Parliamentary system is a Republic, which means, that the country is not under the rule of a monarch, and the offices of state are elected or appointed and not inherited. The elected individuals represent the citizen body.

How does the Indian Parliament work?

The Indian Parliament consists of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha with the President of India acting as their head.

What is the Lok Sabha?

As conceived by the Constitution of India, the Lok Sabha or the House of People(Lower House) consists of 552 members made up by elections. 530 members represent States and 20 represent Union Territories and 2 members from the Anglo – Indian community are nominated by the President of India.

Unless dissolved, the Lok Sabha operates for five years from the date of its appointment.

What is the Rajya Sabha?

According to the Indian Constitution, the Rajya Sabha or the Council of States(Upper House) membership is restricted to 250. The members of Rajya Sabha are elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferrable votes. The members are in office for six years with one third of members retiring every two years. Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha are selected on the basis of their contribution to arts, science, literature, social science.

Unlike the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha cannot be dissolved. Although the President can prorogue the session and adjourn it. The Vice President of India is the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

What is a zero hour?

The time allocated post the Question hour, at 12 Noon, where members can raise matters of importance without the procedural 10 day notice period, is known as Zero Hour.

Where is Parliament of India located?

The Parliament House is in Sansad Bhavan, New Delhi. It was designed by the British architect Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker in 1912-1913 and construction began in 1921 and ended in 1927. The opening ceremony of the Parliament House, then called the Central Legislative Assembly, was performed on 18 January, 1927 by Lord Irwin, the then Viceroy of India.

The third session of Central Legislative Assembly was held in this house on 19 January, 1927.

What is citizenship?

What is a society?

A society is a large group of people who live together in an organised way.

What is a citizen?

A citizen maybe defined as an inhabitant of a city or town or country, entitled to the rights and privileges of a free person to engage in the society of the city, town or country.

What does citizenship really mean?

A citizenship maybe defined as a recognised/legal member of a sovereign state or nation.

What is the difference between nationality and citizenship?

The nationality of a person, reveals an individual’s place of birth, or the place of origin. A person can be a national of only one place as it is by birth or origin.
On the contrary, citizenship is granted to an individual by the government of the country, when they comply with the legal formalities of the said country. A person in some countries can have dual/multiple citizenships. The Indian Republic does not allow dual citizenship.

What is citizenship education?

Citizenship education maybe defined as educating and training individuals to be aware of their rights (human, civil, judicial), their moral and ethical behaviour towards the country. They are also educated on their social behaviour towards another citizen of the country or towards another individual from another country.
A democratic country encourages a citizen to be an important, contributing member of society.

Characteristics of a good citizen

A good citizen should be :

  • Respectful to his community and the civic rules of society
  • Give back to the community and country
  • Educate and help encourage education

Separation of Substances

What is Separation of Substances?

Many of the substances that we use every day were once a part of some or the other mixture. Separating substances from mixtures is a vital part of Chemistry and modern industry. This is done to separate the useful substances from a mixture, and also to remove non-useful or harmful components.

Methods of separation of substances

1. Filtration

Filtration is one of the most common methods used for separating substances. Filters are used everywhere. You use them in your houses to filter impurities from the water and also to filter dust out of the air you breathe.

2. Distillation?

Distillation is a technique that uses boiling to separate components of liquid solutions. Different substances in a mixture have different boiling points, and distillation just works on that. For example, if you heat salt water in a container, the water in the solution will boil way before the salt. The water will evaporate leaving behind the salt. When the substances in a solution have similar boiling points, a more complex type of distillation called fractional distillation is used. Crude oil is separated into gasoline, jet-fuel, diesel-fuel, propane and heating oil etc.

Centrifuges are mechanical devices that revolve at very high speeds and are used to separate substances. At these high speeds, the heavier particles move to the outside of the cylinder and are separated from the mixture. This technique is used for separating blood into plasma and red cells, and also for separating cream from milk.

3. Threshing

In Threshing process, bunches of crop plants are beaten against a hard thing like a stone or floor to separate the grains from the stalks. When the quantity of grains is small, threshing is done manually, and when it is large, it is either done with the help of animals or machines.

4. Sieving

In this method, particles of different sizes are run through a sieve which separates them. The bigger particles are retained by the sieve while the smaller ones easily pass through it. All of you would have seen your moms running the prepared tea from the sieve before serving. It is done to separate the tea leaves from the tea.

5. Winnowing

It is the process which uses the wind to separate the lighter particles from the heavier ones. The farmers drop the mixture of wheat and husk from a height. The blowing wind carries the husk with it and the grains fall down on the ground.

6. Sedimentation

In a given mixture, the insoluble and heavier particles settle down at the bottom. This process is known as sedimentation. For example, if you dissolve some sand in a glass of water, after some time it will settle down at the bottom of the glass. It happens because sand is insoluble in water and the particles are heavier. Decantation is the removal of the clear layer of the liquid on the top without disturbing the underlying settled solids.

7. Evaporation

Evaporation is the process of liquids turning into to a gas or vapor. This technique is used to separate salt from water. Sea water is collected in shallow pits and the water is allowed to evaporate in the heat of the sun. Once the water has evaporated, the salt crystals are left behind in the pit and collected.

8. Condensation

The process of conversion of water vapor into its liquid form is known as condensation. For example, water vapor in the clouds condenses in form of rain. If you pour cold water in a glass, you will see that water droplets will form on the outer surface of the glass. This is due to the condensation of water vapor present in the atmosphere.

9. Paper Chromatography

This method is mostly used in the food industry for identifying chemicals or coloring agents in different food items. You can think of chromatography as a race; all the runners start together from the starting line but finish the race at the different times because of their different abilities. Similarly, if you drop a mixture at a paper chromatograph, different chemicals in it would travel at different speeds over the chromatograph because of their different chemical properties and get separated from one another.

10. Magnetism

Magnetism is ideal for separating mixtures in which one component has magnetic properties. Some metals like iron, nickel and cobalt have magnetic properties whiles gold, silver and aluminum do not.

Reproduction in Plants

What is reproduction in living organisms?

Reproduction is the process by which new organisms are generated from older generations. It is a fundamental feature of all living beings. Sometimes a cell may produce another of its kind and that is also defined as reproduction. Like regenerating a part of tissue, or the healing of a wound.

Reproduction to produce another independent living organism, can either be sexual or asexual, in the plant or animal kingdom.

How do plants undergo reproduction?

Plants can undergo two kinds of reproduction. – 1. Asexual Reproduction 2. Sexual Reproduction

What is asexual reproduction?

  •  It involves one parent only
  •  No gametes are produced (Gametes – male and female, are the reproductive cell or sex cells)
  •  Parent and offspring are identical
  •  Faster with no variation from the parent plant

Example :

  • Budding in yeast cells
  • Budding in potato and other tubers, bulbs etc.
  • Runners(stem-like growths) in herbs like peppermint, strawberry etc.

What is sexual reproduction?

To reproduce sexually, plants have both male and female reproductive organs in their flowers.

What is the function of a stamen in a flower?

  • The male part is called Stamen.
  • The Stamen is the pollen producing part of the flower. It consists of an Anther and Filament. The pollen on the anther is produced by the microsporangia. Pollen grains contain the male gametophyte and are responsible for pollination.

What is the function of a carpel of a flower?

  • The female part is called Carpel.
  • A carpel is the innermost part of a flower. It is usually surrounded by male reproductive stamens. A carpel consists of a Stigma, Style and Ovary which contains the Ovule. A flower can have more than one carpel and a cluster of carpels is called a Pistil.

What is pollen and pollination?

To reproduce sexually, pollen from the male part is transferred to the female part, stigma, from where it descends into the Ovary, where fertilisation occurs to form a zygote, which eventually turns into a seed. This seed will germinate and sprout to become a new plant.

There are two types of pollination :

  1. Self Pollination – fertilisation is with the same flower
  2. Cross Pollination – pollen from one flower travels to fertilise the ovary of another flower

What are the methods of pollination?

Pollination may occur by either wind or water. This is known as Abiotic Pollination.
They may also be suitably adapted to be transferred by animals, birds and insects, including human. This is known as Biotic Pollination.

Difference between Solution Solute and Solvent

What is a solution?

A solution is a homogeneous mixture of solutes, dissolved in a solvent. A homogeneous solution is a mixture of two or more components that have a uniform appearance and composition.

Examples of solutions

  • Seawater (Solid in Liquid)
  • Vinegar (Liquid in Liquid)
  • Carbonated Drinks (Gas in Liquid)
  • Air (Gas in Gas)

What is a solute?

A solute is defined as the substance that is dissolved in a fluid to make a solution. The concentration of the solute is a deciding factor to generally determine the state of the solution; solid, liquid or gaseous.

Examples of solute

  • Almost all metallic salts
  • Sugar
  • Edible Salt

What is a solvent?

A solvent is usually a liquid used to dissolve a solute.

Classification of solvents

Solvents can be classified into Polar (example Water) and Non Polar (example Hydrocarbons).

Polar and Non-Polar Solvents

Polar solvents encourage the formation of ions. Non Polar solvents do not form ions. The capacity of a solvent to form ions is known as dielectric constant. The dielectric constant for water is very high. The large dielectric constant of water means that substances whose molecules contain ionic bonds will tend to dissociate in water yielding solutions containing ions.

What makes the Indian Parliament?

What is a Parliament in India?

The Indian Parliament consists of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha with the President of India acting as their head.

What is the Lok Sabha?

As conceived by the Constitution of India, the Lok Sabha or the House of People (Lower House) consists of 552 members made up by elections. 530 members represent States and 20 represent Union Territories and 2 members from the Anglo – Indian community are nominated by the President of India.

Unless dissolved, the Lok Sabha operates for five years from the date of its appointment.

What are the powers of Lok Sabha?

  • Motions of No Confidence can be introduced and passed. If the majority votes, the Prime Minister and the Ministers resign collectively.
  • Money Bills are passed and taken forward to the Rajya Sabha only if passed by the Lok Sabha.
  • Equal powers with Rajya Sabha in initiating and passing a Bill for Constitutional Amendment.
  • Equal powers with Rajya Sabha in initiating and passing the motion for the impeachment of the President, by a two third majority.
  • Equal powers with Rajya Sabha in initiating and passing a motion for the impeachment of the judges of the Supreme Court and the State High Courts, who are then removed by the President of India.
  • Equal Powers with Rajya Sabha in initiating and passing a resolution declaring war or national emergency, by a two third majority voting or constitutional emergency (by simple majority) at State level.
  • The Lok Sabha has almost equal powers as Rajya Sabha, though Lok Sabha has more influence due to the high number of Members.

What is the Rajya Sabha?

According to the Indian Constitution, the Rajya Sabha or the Council of States (Upper House) membership is restricted to 250. The members of Rajya Sabha are elected by state and territorial legislatures using single transferrable votes. The members are in office for six years with one third of members retiring every two years. Twelve members of the Rajya Sabha are selected on the basis of their contribution to arts, science, literature, social science.

Unlike the Lok Sabha, the Rajya Sabha cannot be dissolved. Although the President can prorogue the session and adjourn it. The Vice President of India is the ex officio Chairman of the Rajya Sabha.

What are the powers of Rajya Sabha?

  • Same as that of Lok Sabha, except some motions cannot be passed by Rajya Sabha, according to the guidelines of the Constitution of India.
  • The Rajya Sabha member cannot bring about Motion of No Confidence against the government.
  • In Indian federal structure, Rajya Sabha is a representative of the States in the Union legislature and hence is granted powers that protect the rights of States against the Union.
  • The union government cannot make a law on a matter reserved for states without any authorisation from Rajya Sabha.
  • Rajya Sabha, by a two-thirds super majority can pass a resolution empowering the Government of India to create more All-India Services common to both Union and States, including a judicial service.

Human Body Joints and Movements

What enables movement in human beings?

The human body is a complex system of various types of cells, tissues and organs.
It is made of 206 bones and this skeletal structure helps in giving it protection, support, shape and movement which is aided by attached muscles.
Living bone cells are found on the edges of bones and in small cavities inside the bone matrix. Although these cells make up very little of the total bone mass, they have several very important roles in the functions of the skeletal system. The bone cells allow bones to:

  • Grow and develop
  • Be repaired following an injury or daily wear
  • Be broken down to release their stored minerals

What are bones made of?

The skeleton makes up about 30-40% of an adult’s body mass. The skeleton’s mass is made up of non-living bone matrix and many tiny bone cells. Roughly half of the bone matrix’s mass is water, while the other half is collagen protein and solid crystals of calcium carbonate and calcium phosphate. The point where two bones meet is known as a joint.

What are the types of joints in a human body?

The human body has three main types of joints; Fibrous (immovable), Cartilaginous (partially movable) and the Synovial (freely movable) joint.

What is Fibrous Joints?

These type of joints are held by ligaments and are immoveable. They are found at :
a. teeth to their bony sockets
b. bones of the skull (sutures)
c. radioulna joints at the elbow and tibiofibula joints at the knee

What is Cartilaginous Joints?

These are partially movable. There are two types of cartilaginous joints : Primary and Secondary
a. Primary : They are found in babies and small children as epiphyseal plates and tend to ossify on adulthood.
b. Secondary : These are permanent joints and made of fibriocartilage. They allow small movements and are found at skeletal midline:
c. ribcage to sternum and manubrium
d. intervertebral discs
e. between the pubic bones

What is Synovial Joints?

These are the most movable joints of the three types. And also more susceptible to damage. There is a synovial cavity filled with synovial fluid between the adjoining bones of this joint to allow movement. The synovial fluid and cartilage tissue prevents wear and tear that these types of joints are more prone to.

There are six types of Synovial Joints.

1. Hinge Joints :

These are found at elbows and knees. They allow movement only in one direction.

Hinge Joint Movement – Flexion and Extension

a. Flexion : This movement is the bending of a body part, or decreasing the angle between two parts. You flex your elbow when you bring your forearm up toward your upper arm, and you flex your spine when you bend your body forward.
b. Extension : The opposite of flexion is extension, the straightening of a part, or increasing the angle between two parts. You extend your elbow when you move your forearm away from your arm to straighten your elbow, and you extend your back when you move from being in a flexed position back upright.

2. Pivot Joints :

These are at the top of the spine.
Pivot Joint Movement – Rotation
Rotation : It is the turning movement of a bone around its own axis. Rotation may occur toward the body midline or away from it. Like the rotation of the neck.

3. Ball and socket Joints :

These are found where the arm joins the shoulder and where the leg joins the hip.

Ball and socket Joint Movements – Adduction and Abduction

a. Adduction : It is the body part’s movement towards the body’s midline. Lowering your raised hand is known as adduction.
b. Abduction : It is the body part’s movement away from the body’s midline. If you raise your arms to your shoulder or above your shoulder or swing your hands to the side.

3. Saddle Joints :

These are found between the trapezium carpel and metacarpel of a finger. They provide support to small bones.

4. Condyloid Joints :

These are found between the radius bone and the carpel bones at the wrist. These provides multiple movements in small spaces.

5. Gliding Joints :

These are found between the tarsal bones of the feet. They provide movement along the plane of the joint ; up – down and left – right.

Combination of movements for different body parts

  • Elevation is the upward movement of structures of the body. If you raise your shoulder joint, it raises the corresponding arm as well.
  • Depression is the downward movement of the structures of the body. If you lower your shoulder joint, it lowers the corresponding arm as well.
  • Circumduction movement is found at the saddle and condyloid joints and ball and socket joints. It is the movement of limb, hand or fingers where the part that is attached to the torso is stationary and the part away from the torso is in a circular movement.

What is Topography?

What does topography mean?

Topography is the study of shape and features on the surface of the Earth. These features typically include natural formations such as mountains, rivers, lakes, and valleys, forests, glaciers etc. Manmade features such as roads, dams, and cities may also be included.

Where does the word topography originate from?

Topography is a combination of two Greek words ‘topos’ meaning ‘place’ and ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write.’ It is extremely important to chart and predict weathers, lay roads and plan other transportation means, to plan architectural constructions, study geology, farming, water body management etc.

What is a topographical map?

Mapping is a crucial part of earth science and are wonderful tools that help us find our way in a street, in a city, in a country, in fact, anywhere on the Earth. There are some maps that show different physical features of the Earth. These maps are called topographic maps. Topographic maps use a particular type of line, known as a contour line, to depict different elevations on a map.

How is information collected to make topographic maps?

There are mainly two primary methods of surveying the landforms – direct survey and indirect survey.

Direct survey –

A direct survey is when a topographer on ground, uses surveying equipment, to measure the location and elevation of the land. Have you ever seen a surveyor along the road sometime taking measurements with the help of a leveling instrument placed on a tripod? They are doing just that!

Indirect survey –

Remote or inaccessible areas on the Earth may be mapped using indirect methods. These methods include satellite images, images taken from aeroplanes, helicopters, radar, and sonar (underwater).

Topographical maps include five categories of elements as following:

  1. Toponymy which includes names of places, water bodies and highways
  2. Vegetation including wooded and non-wooded areas
  3. Reliefs including mountains, hills, valleys and plateaus
  4. Waters, including oceans, lakes, rivers and stream
  5. Culture establishments such as cities, railroads and power lines

How are different topographical features highlighted on the map?

Different colors are used in topographic maps,

  • Black shows buildings, railroads, power lines and geographical elements
  • Red shows transportation routes
  • Orange shows unconstructed roads
  • Brown is used for elevation
  • Green shows forested areas
  • Blue is used to depict different water bodies

Grizzly Bear Facts and Information

How do you identify a Grizzly Bear from other bears?

Grizzly bears have concave faces, a distinctive hump on their shoulders, and long claws about two to four inches long. Both the hump and the claws are traits associated with a grizzly bear’s exceptional digging ability.

Grizzlies are often dark brown, but can vary from very light cream to black. The long guard hairs on their backs and shoulders frequently have white tips and give the bears a ‘grizzled’ appearance, hence the name ‘grizzly.’ The correct scientific name for the species is ‘brown bear,’ but only coastal bears in Alaska and Canada are referred to as such, while inland bears and those found in the lower 48 states are called grizzly bears.

What is the average life span of a Grizzly Bear?

Grizzly bears often live to be around 20 to 25 years of age Mating occurs from May through July with a peak in mid-June. Female grizzlies begin bearing young at 3 to 8 years of age, and the litter size varies from one to four cubs, with an average litter of two.

What are the living habitats of Grizzly Bears?

Grizzly bears are normally solitary animals. They are often seen together during feeding season, when food is abundant, but are often territorial and aggressive when food is scarce. Most grizzlies become more aggressive during the season just before hibernation. They are stocking up on food for the winter and increase body fat to keep themselves warm. Before winter, other animals are trying to find food for hibernation, so the grizzly is not only competing with other grizzlies, but also with other species, gearing up for harsh winters.

They have good eyesight and excellent senses of hearing and smell. Grizzly bears are active during the day and night, but will often alter their habits to avoid humans in areas of high human use.

4 Interesting facts about Grizzly Bears

  1. The first white explorer to see grizzly bears and to record them in his journal was Henry Kelsey. On 20 August 1691, Kelsey mentioned seeing ‘a great sort of bear’ near what is now The Pas, in west-central Manitoba. Henry Kelsey was an English fur trader and an explorer to venture first on the North American Plains. But it wasn’t till 1960s, more information about grizzlies were extensively studied and recorded.
  2. When a female grizzly bear leaves her mother, she often sets up her home range quite close to their mother’s home range. Males will typically range further, but may also remain close by.
  3. Admiralty Island, in southeast Alaska, was known to early natives as Xootsnoowú, meaning ‘fortress of bears’, and is home to the densest grizzly population in North America.
  4. A major food source for grizzlies are army cutworm moths. They can consume upto 20,000 of these moths which cluster on rocks, after feeding on nectar in the early mornings.

Atacama Desert Facts and Information

What is the driest place on earth?

Not all dry places are completely dry. Rated among the three most dry places on earth, the Atacama Desert is the most driest. Situated at an altitude of about 4 km above sea level and covering an area of 40,500 sq miles, it experiences an average rainfall of 1 mm per year.

Why is the Atacama desert so dry?

Since it is a part of the Andes Mountain Ranges Volcanic Belt, ground water storage is low, due to extremely high temperatures below the ground. It is also one of the oldest deserts, probably from the Triassic period, atleast 3 million years old. The aridity of the Atacama desert occurs because of its placement between two mountain chains – The Andes and the Chilean Coast Range. These high altitude barriers prevent moisture from the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans to penetrate.

How many countries of South America does the Atacama desert cover?

The Atacama Desert spreads over Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina.

Is it possible for any life to exist in the driest place on the planet?

The Atacama Desert is sparsely populated, with pockets of inhabitations. However it is interesting to note that the oldest mummies in the world have been found in archeological sites dating back to 7020 BC. Which shows that human life has been resilient to survive such extreme conditions even so long back.

Temperatures across various parts of the desert vary and can range from around 40 degrees Celsius to -5 degrees in some places.Though temperatures are moderate, the Atacama Desert remains an extreme environment, due to water scarcity. Only cactuses and tough grasses can survive in the desert, though bromeliads flourish in zones prone to fogs.

Only a few hardy mammals live here, including the Viscacha, the South American Grey Fox and Darwin’s Leaf-Eared Mouse.
Birds are in abundance, from Humboldt Penguins along the coast to Andean Flamingos, which feed on algae and vascular plants in the salt lakes. Some rarities such as the Tamarugo Conebill, Chilean Woodstar and Slender-billed Finch can be spotted in vegetation prone areas.

6 Interesting facts about Atacama desert

  1. The Atacama Desert is so dry that there are very few bacterias which survive.
  2. The region is rich in Copper and Sodium Nitrate. It was one of the world’s largest suppliers of Sodium Nitrate in the 1940s. Some abandoned townships found around Atacama are largely due to this boom. Post the 1940s, synthetic ways of Nitrate manufacture has reduced mining requirements, though Copper is still mined.
  3. Although the Atacama Desert is the driest place in the world, it has snow on its peaks. This is due to the high altitudes.
  4. Due to an almost constant skyline through out the year, without much change in weather, also that it is uninhabited, with no air pollution, or artificial light sources, the Atacama Desert has become one of the most favoured astronomy observatories of the world. The world’s largest telescope, ALMA is situated at the Atacama Desert.
  5. The Atacama Desert plays host to three different kinds of Flamingoes at it’s fragile Soncor Ecosystem, a series of interconnected lagoons. It’s a very important ecosystem, as it is the Andean Flamingos breeding ground.
  6. The Humboldt penguins are the only penguins that live in the desert. To escape the heat, they swim in the Humboldt currents created in the coastal waters of Chile.

The Gulf of Alaska Facts

What is the Gulf of Alaska?

The Gulf of Alaska is famously known as the place where ‘two oceans meet but do not mix’. This is a strange natural phenomenon that has taken place in the Gulf of Alaska over centuries.

Map of the Gulf of Alaska

The Gulf of Alaska is a wide curve in the Pacific Ocean. This Gulf defines the south coast of Alaska. It stretches from the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island in the west to the Alexander Archipelago in the east. This is where the Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage are found.

Gulf of Alaska Marine Weather

The Gulf of Alaska is prone to heavy rains and snow storms that engulf southern and south central Alaska. There are strong surface currents and much colder Arctic air as well. This fact helps generate much of the seasonal rainfall along the coastline of British Columbia and in the states of Washington and Oregon.

The Waters of the Gulf

The Gulf of Alaska is famous for having two kinds of water – Natural blue water and heavy sediment – laden water from the side of the Glacier Bay. The cool blue water tries to merge with the dark slate-blue waters. Rivers of Alaska carry with them huge quantities of sediments. They empty themselves in the gulf that carries all the heavy clay and sediment.

The Gulf of Alaska is also said to have ocean water that meet underwater and not above. Horizontal stratification of water is very common but here we see a vertical stratification.

The Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem –

  • The entire shoreline of the Gulf is a combination of forests, mountains and numerous tidewater glaciers.
  • Many deep water corals are found in the Gulf of Alaska. It also has a highly productive marine system influenced by freshwater inputs and wind.
  • The Gulf of Alaska has a Cook Inlet which is an inlet in the Gulf stretching for 310 kilometres southwest to northeast and separates mainland Alaska from Kenai Peninsula.
  • The other feature is the Prince William Sound which is the sound off the Gulf of Alaska, on the south Coast of Alaska in the United States. A sound is a small body of water that comes in from the ocean.

The Aztec Civilization

What is Aztec civilization?

Around 1300 CE, a nomadic tribe of Indians wandered into the Valley of Mexico. These people were called the Aztecs. By 1325 CE, the Aztecs arrived and settled in present day Mexico City, and erected a big and immensely powerful city on a small island known as Tenochtitlan.

Floating islands at Aztecs

As the population of the Aztecs grew, the island became too small for them. So, they took a conscious decision to make the island bigger by building large wooden rafts. These rafts were then covered with mud and fastened to the lakebed with sturdy stakes. The people slowly started inhabiting these innovative floating pockets of land.

The Aztecs quickly adapted to their environment. They built wooden canoes and started fishing and hunting the birds that lived near the water. They fashioned floating farming areas for growing food. They created more agricultural land by filling in the marshes. The main food crops of their time were maize and beans.

Aztec’s religion and worship

Once the Aztecs were fully settled, they began to conquer the neighbouring tribes. It was mandatory for each vanquished tribe to pay tribute to the Aztecs in the form of food, precious stones, animals, clothing and of course, some men for sacrificing before the gods. In the Aztec society, a lot of emphasis was placed on religion and worship of gods. Aztecs worshipped a large number of gods, including a rain god, fire god, earth goddess and the sun. Aztecs believed that it was imperative for them to offer ‘human payment’—the sacrifice of a human being—to their gods.They constructed huge pyramid type structures for their gods and offered human sacrifices to their gods.

Important ruler for Aztec

The Aztecs called their ruler the ‘Tlatoani’. The Aztec Empire reached the acme of glory and prosperity under the rule of Tlatoani Montezuma I.

Aztecs’ currency

The Aztecs used a barter system to make their purchases; small purchases were made with cacao beans and bigger purchases were made with a special type of cotton cloth known as ‘Quachtli’.

Parenting in Aztec civilization

Aztec children were finely groomed by their parents. The children were motivated to shoulder their responsibilities and learn basic life skills by their parents. The parents warned their children to refrain from the vices of gambling, theft and drinking. If children disobeyed the parents, they were severely punished. One type of punishment was to force them to inhale the spicy smoke produced from chilly and pepper. Now, that was indeed very harsh on the part of Aztec parents!

Education and occupations in Aztec civilization

Children of the noble class of Aztecs attended ‘Calmecac’ (an educational institute) and the children of the workers’ class attended ‘Telpochcalli’ (vocational training institutes) where they were taught various occupational skills. The boys were also trained in warfare, good citizenship, culture and religion. The girls were trained to do household chores and were married at the age of fifteen. The Aztec men mainly engaged in farming, soldiering and trades like carpentry and metalwork. The womenfolk took care of the home, children, cooked food, wove cloth, and sometimes practiced medicine.

Collapse of Aztec empire

Around 1500 CE, Spanish soldiers happened to arrive in the Valley of Mexico. They were amazed to see the flourishing and prosperous Aztec civilization and decided to bring it under their command.

Though the Aztecs were fierce and valiant warriors, they had a slim chance of survival against the modern guns, cavalry and diseases that came along with the Spanish. By the mid-1500s, the Aztec Empire collapsed, and the Spanish took control over the entire region.
Even today, there are more than one million descendants of the ancient Aztecs living and working in Mexico. Thankfully, human sacrifice is no longer part of their rituals!

10 Interesting facts about Aztec civilization

  1. Aztec culture has a deep influence on the present day Mexican foods and recipes. Avocado, chocolate, chili and tomato are all Aztec words. Guacamole, tacos, and tamales that are widely used in Mexican cuisine date back to Aztec times.
  2. When a girl was born in an Aztec household, she was gifted with a small sewing kit. Baby boys were given a miniature shield and four small arrows.
  3. Aztec children played an interesting game known as ‘Tlachtli’. It was a ball game for teams much like a combination of basketball and soccer. Adult Aztecs engaged themselves in ‘Patolli’, a kind of gambling game played with pebbles and dried beans.
  4. The principle food of the Aztecs was tortillas.
  5. When a man tied the end of his dress to that of a woman, they were considered to be married. The woman could marry only once, while the men could marry a number of times.
  6. The Aztecs used to bury their dead. Women were buried with a sewing basket and men were buried with an assortment of weapons.
  7. It is believed that Aztecs sacrificed roughly 20,000 people every year. They often ate the people who were sacrificed as part of the sacrificial ritual.
  8. The Aztec calendar was divided into 18 months. Each month had 20 days. The last five days of the year, were considered as unlucky and the people preferred to stay indoors.
  9. The contemporary Aztec language is known as Nahuatl or Mexicano and is still spoken in various parts of Mexico.
  10. Aztec art is recognized as an integral part of Mexico’s heritage. Aztec painting and sculpture deeply influenced the modern Mexican artists.

Aztec civilization will always be remembered for its extensive religious life, intricate social organization, refined literature, and colossal works of sculpture.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombing

Why were the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombed by the United States of America?

In 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the forces of the United States and her Allies had been at war with Japan.

On July 26, 1945, The President of the United States, Harry S. Truman issued the Potsdam Declaration, which called for Japan’s unconditional surrender and listed peace terms. The Japanese were warned of the consequences of continued resistance by the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, signed by President Truman and by Prime Minister Clement Attlee of the United Kingdom and with the concurrence of Chiang Kai-Shek, President of the National Government of China.

Little boy explosion

On August 6, 1945, at 9:15 am, Tokyo time, a B-29 plane, the “Enola Gay” piloted by Paul W. Tibbets, dropped a uranium atomic bomb, code named “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan’s seventh largest city. In minutes, half of the city vanished. The impact was upto 40,000 ft high in air. The heat from the bomb was so intense that some people simply evaporated in thin air. The blast destroyed more than ten square kilometres of the city.

According to U.S. estimates :

  • 60,000 to 70,000 people were killed or missing
  • 140,000 were injured
  • 100,000 were affected by immediate radiation in the blast

Fat man bomb explosion

On August 9, 1945, another US bomber plane flew with the weapon of mass destruction loaded on it. The first choice target for this bombing was the Japanese city of Kokura. But, the haze over Kokura made the American authorities change their plans and shift their focus to their second target, Nagasaki. At 11:02 a.m., another atomic bomb was dropped over Nagasaki.

3 Facts about Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing

  1. A month before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing in August, in July 1945, a bomb had been tested in the New Mexico desert. The bomb was code named ‘Trinity’. It was a part of the Manhattan Project.
  2. Following the two bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was decided to replace the Quebec Agreement (1943) with a more loose form of cooperation on nuclear matters between the three governments, as well as establishing a specialized UN agency on nuclear energy. This draft agreement was approved by the Combined Policy Committee on December 4, 1945 as the basis for the revocation of the Quebec Agreement.
  3. The Quebec Agreement was an agreement that the countries of the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada would not share their knowledge of nuclear power with a third party without each other’s mutual consent, would not use the power against each other, or against a third party without each other’s consent.
    After the war, Hiroshima was resurrected as a peace memorial city and the closest surviving structure to the epicentre was christened as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. Every year people from around the world congregate to make paper cranes in memory of a two year old named Sadako, who developed leukemia from the radiation. She believed that making paper cranes would help her recover. More than 10 million cranes are offered every year.

The Bronze Age

How do you differentiate the different overlapping growth of human civilization?

The ages of human civilizations, in history, archeology and anthropology, was a methodical categorisation based on recognisable chronological events. It was initiated in the year, 1816, by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen, a Dutch Antiquarian and Curator. He classified the museum collections of the Royal Museum of Nordic Antiquities, Copenhagen. He classified the artifacts based on what materials they were made of; as Stone, Bronze and Iron Age objects. Before this, these artifacts were simply presented as objects of evolution and lacked a clear placement, in the evolution of human development with their environment.

What are the three ages of human civilization?

1. The Age of Stone

Period when weapons and implements were made of stone, wood, bone, or some such material, and during which very little or nothing at all was known of metals.

2. The Age of Bronze

Period in which weapons and cutting implements were made of copper or bronze, and nothing at all, or but very little was known of iron or silver.

3. The Age of Iron

The third and last period of the evolution of modern man, in which iron was used for those articles to which that metal is eminently suited, and in the fabrication of which it came to be employed as a substitute for bronze.

What are the other developments in the Age of Bronze?

The Bronze Age can be defined as second phase of material and human development of the modern man. It dates from :

  • Early Bronze Age (3500-2000 BC)
  • Middle Bronze Age (2000-1600 BC)
  • Late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BC)

Unsettled nomadic man from the Stone Age, started to settle into colonies which went on to form highly evolved civilizations. He started creating objects from copper and a mixture of copper and tin. Cast metal work evolved during this period. This can be deduced from clay casts of arrow heads. The organisation of mining, smelting and casting allowed the development of skilled labour and the organisation of settlements and developments in the field of farming, animal breeding, building and architecture, arts and design. The earliest writings, the cunieform writing on clay tablets, was developed by the Sumerians.

The Egyptians developed their own form of writing, the hieroglyphic and the hieratic script, soon after.

Another parallel development was transportation over long distances developed due to trading and mining. Elaborate ships were designed and built to transport materials over long distances.

Which were the great Bronze Age civilizations?

  1. Mesopotamia circa 3700 BC(end of the Neolithic period)
  2. Egypt circa 3300 BC
  3. Indus Valley circa 2500 BC
  4. India circa 1700 BC
  5. China circa 1600 BC

Shaheed Bhagat Singh

Who was Shaheed Bhagat Singh?

Shaheed Bhagat Singh, was born on the 28th of September, 1907 in the district of Lyallpur in Punjab to a Sikh family. An important person in India’s struggle movement against the British Raj, he was hanged at the age of 23, by the British.

Why is Jallianwala Bagh a significant event to Bhagat Singh?

Coming from a family of freedom fighters, Bhagat was a witness to the Jallianwala Massacre, at age 12. This violent act by the authoritites of the British Raj, where about 2000 Hindu, Muslim and Sikhs were cordoned off and open fired on, completely disturbed the young mind.

What influenced Bhagat Singh?

He was greatly attracted towards socialism. Believed to be one of India’s earliest Marxists, Bhagat Singh was one of the leaders and founders of the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Though he participated in the non-cooperation movement, he was disappointed when M K Gandhi called off the agitation after the Chauri Chaura incident. He studied at the National College in Lahore where he came into contact with other revolutionaries such as Bhagwati Charan, Sukhdev and others. He fled from home to escape early marriage and became a member of the organisation Naujawan Bharat Sabha.

What were the incidents leading to Bhagat Singh becoming a martyr?

In 1928, Bhagat Singh along with another freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad protested against the Simon Commission. In February 1928, The Simon Commission, a committee from England visited India. This commission was to decide the fate of Indians, the continuing rule of the British over India and other laws on governance and taxes and rights of Indians, without their say, including the right to living as secular people. The Indians mass boycotted and protested against this Commission.

Lala Lajpat Rai

During this protest Lala Lajpat Rai was killed in a lathi charge. This angered Bhagat Singh, who along with two other revolutionaries, Sukhdev and Rajguru decided to kill James A Scott but killed the British assistant superintendent, Saunders instead.

In April 1929, Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutt threw bombs in the Central Assembly Hall. They did not flee after bombing the assembly and were arrested. Bhagat Singh refused to hire a defence council for himself.

On the 23rd of March 1931 Bhagat Singh was sentenced to death along with Rajguru and Sukhdev. Bhagat Singh was given the title ‘Shaheed’ meaning martyr.

The Battle of Stalingrad

What is the battle of Stalingrad and who fought it?

The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August, 1942 – 2 February, 1943) was a major battle on the Eastern Front of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia, on the eastern boundary of Europe. Stalingrad was strategically situated and was where the Russian Army manufactured tanks and ammunitions.

Why is the battle of Stalingrad a turning point in world history?

It is considered by many historians to have been the turning point in World War II in Europe. The Battle of Stalingrad was a huge defeat from which the German Army never recovered. One of the ironies of the World War II, is that the German Sixth Army need not have gotten entangled in Stalingrad.The initial objectives in the region around Stalingrad were the destruction of the industrial capacity of the city and the deployment of forces to block the Volga River. The river was a key route from the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea to central Russia. Its capture would disrupt commercial river traffic. The Germans cut the pipeline from the oilfields when they captured Rostov on 23 July, 1942. The capture of Stalingrad would make the delivery of Lend Lease supplies via the Persian Corridor much more difficult.

How long did the battle of Stalingrad last?

Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians by air raids, it is often regarded as one of the single largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.7–2 million wounded, killed or captured) battles in the history of warfare.

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August, 1942, using the German 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting, and both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November,1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.

Who won the battle of Stalingrad?

On 19 November, 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army’s flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February, 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week, and three days.

Eating Habits of Animals

Do you know how and what animals eat helps to classify them in the animal kingdom?

All living organisms need food to grow and remain healthy. Food gives us energy to work and play.

What is feeding?

Feeding is the process by which an animal obtains its food. The method used and how the food is assimilated in the body after ingesting, the digestive process and the process of elimination are all extremely important processes that determine evolution of living organisms. Infact it is so important, it determines a living organism’s presence and role in the food chain and also in the ecology of the planet.

What is a food chain?

A food chain is a linear sequence or order of living things, which are dependent on the other for food. In this order one living thing depends on the other for its food. All food chains begin with a green plant or a plant like organism, which uses available atmospheric conditions to manufacture its own food. Except the first organism, every other organism is a consumer.

Grass — butterfly — frog —- snake —-eagle or any similar ones

What is the difference between herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and scavengers?

Herbivores : Animals like cows , buffaloes , sheep etc., that eat plants.
Carnivores : Animals like lions, tigers, etc., that prey on and eat other animals.
Omnivores : Animals like bears, crows etc., that eat both plants and animals.
Scavengers : Animals like vultures and jackals that eat dead and left over animals generally preyed on by carnivores.

Feeding habits of different animals

Let us enter the animal world and see how some animals eat their food.

  • Animals like squirrels, rabbits and rats feed on hard grains and nuts. They bite these hard nuts with very sharp front cutting teeth. This is called Gnawing.
  • Animals like snakes do not have chewing teeth, they do not chew their food instead they swallow their food whole.
  • Animals like frogs have a long sticky tongue to catch its prey. When a frog spots an insect, it sticks out its tongue and catches its prey, then it rolls back its tongue back into its mouth.
  • Insects like bees and butterflies have a long tube to suck nectar from plants.
  • Animals like cows and buffaloes have a special way of eating their food, they first swallow their food whole and fill their stomach, later they bring it back into their mouth and keep chewing it for hours. This is known as chewing the cud.
  • Dogs and cats use their tongue to lap up their food.
  • There are some animals like giraffe that use their long necks and the elephant that uses it trunk to take in food.

Aryabhata – The Indian mathematician

Who is Aryabhata?

Aryabhata was a great Indian mathematician and astronomer. It is believed that he was born in 476 AD in Patliputra which is now modern Patna in Bihar. It is also believed by some that he was born in Kerala, South of India, however there is no proper evidence of his place of birth.

He is said to have written his famous works the ‘Aryabhata – Siddhanta’ and ‘Aryabhatiya’ in Magadha. It is these works that gives us information about this famous Indian born scientist and mathematician.

What is Aryabhata’s contribution to mathematics and astronomy?

Aryabhata studied at the ancient University of Nalanda, now a UNESCO site, in Bihar. One of his major works is ‘Aryabhatiya’ written in 499 AD, which covers astronomical and mathematical theories. It includes topics like arithmetic, trigonometry, algebra, tables of sines and fractions and is written in verse form and consists of 108 verses divided into four chapters.

Aryabhata authored three astronomical texts and was the first to find the radius of the earth with 1% error and also find the volume of the earth along with ancient Greeks and Romans. ‘Aryabhatiya’ was translated into Latin in the 13th century.

Aryabhata’s work has been translated and adopted by the Greeks and Arabs.

What did Aryabhata discover?

  • The Place Value System
  • Concept of Zero, which was his biggest contribution in the field of mathematics.
  • He discovered that earth rotates on its axis, contrary to the belief in the olden days that it was the sky that moved while earth remained still.
  • He mentioned about the elliptical movement of the planets rather than the earlier belief of circular movement of planets.
  • Solar and lunar eclipses.
  • He discovered that the moon shines because of the reflection of the sun.

4 Interesting facts about Aryabhata

  1. The Hindu Calendar that is used today was based on Aryabhata’s calculations and is followed for the fixing of the ‘Panchangam’.
  2. India’s first satellite and the lunar crater, ‘Aryabhata’ were named after him.
  3. The Aryabhata Research Institute of Observational Sciences near Nainital, in the North of India, set up for research in astrophysics, astronomy and atmospheric sciences, has been named after him.
  4. He is considered as the greatest genius of all times and his contributions in the field of mathematics and astronomy are used world over to this day.

Ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses

List of Greek gods and goddesses of Greek mythology

The Greeks worshipped their Gods devoutly as they strongly believed that the Gods could change their lives for the better. The Gods lived on Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. Temples were built, with richly carved statues and majestic grandeur, to honor the Gods and Goddesses.

1. Zeus – God of Sky

Zeus was the King of Gods. Zeus was very powerful and could transform himself to whomever and whatever creature he wished for. He could imitate the voice of anyone he wished. Zeus would hurl lightning when he would get angry. He had married his sister Hera. Zeus had many children as he had many affairs with young women who he would come to visit on Earth. Zeus had originally married Titan Metis but feared their son would be stronger than him; so he had consumed her. Zeus punished those who broke their oaths. Zeus was the only son who was not gobbled up by his father.

2. Hera – Queen of the gods, and goddess of marriage, women, childbirth

Hera was the wife of Zeus. She was feared by all because of her terrible anger and wrath over her husband’s innumerous affairs. It is believed Hera had created the Milky Way. Hera was worshipped by women as she guarded marriage and childbirth. She was the granddaughter of Earth and Sky. She was a very beautiful woman whose chariot, throne and sandals were made of gold. Antigone had once bragged of how she was more beautiful than Hera; Hera had transformed her hair into snakes.

3. Poseidon – God of Sea

Poseidon rules one of the three realms of the universe, as king of the sea and the waters. He was very hot tempered; and would cause earthquakes and flood when he was angry. He would assume the form of a bull during these times. He had made a horse from a rock. His palace, under the sea, was lit at night by thousands of glow worms. He had a golden chariot drawn by two white horses and hooves made from brass.

4. Hades – Ruler of the Underworld.

Hades was the God of Wealth as precious metals like silver, rubies, diamonds and gold are mined from the ground. He could become invisible if he wished. Hades made sure everyone had a proper burial. The Elysian Fields, a pleasant place underground, was a place where those who led a good life on Earth, were allowed to stay.

5. Ares – God of War

The son of Zeus and Hera, Ares was always involved in bloody battles. The month of March is named after him. He possessed every weapon used in war. He was the first God to be taken to trial in a Greek court for charges of murder.

6. Aphrodite – Goddess of love and beauty

It is believed that she was born out of foam. She is depicted by the dove, swan and sparrow.

7. Apollo – God of sunlight, music and dance.

Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. Myth has it that once Apollo was defeated in a music contest and he was transformed into a mountain stream. He invented the luke, a musical instrument made of strings. He was very handsome and had golden colored hair. He brought good health to his devotees.

8. Artemis – Goddess of the hunt and wilderness

Artemis highly guarded her chastity. She carried a silver bow and arrows. She was also considered as goddess of light, as she carried a torch and guided everyone in darkness.

16 Interesting facts about other Greek gods and goddesses

  1. The Olympics were hosted in Greece to honor Zeus.
  2. Goddess Hebe could restore beauty to all who lost it.
  3. Nike was the Goddess of strength, swiftness and triumph in various sports competitions.
  4. Persephone was the Goddess of Spring.
  5. God Deimos brought horror, distress and disorder to battlefields.
  6. The God Pan was the god of shepherds, and had pointed ears and furry legs of a goat.
  7. Hecate was the Goddess and Queen of Ghosts as she spread witchcraft and magic everywhere.
  8. Hestia was the most gentlest of Gods and was the Goddess of the Fireplace.
  9. Hermes was the trickster and messenger God. He had invented the sport of boxing and gymnastics.
  10. Dionysus was the God of Wine. He had taught men on how to make wine from grapes. He would change the pirates into dolphin when they were drowning in the waters.
  11. Prometheus would steal from the Gods.
  12. At a music contest, one of the contestants had played very badly; and Apollo had changed the contestant’s ears to donkey ears.
  13. Cerberus was a dog with three heads and who guarded the entrance to Hades palace.
  14. Iris was the Goddess of Rainbow.
  15. Hephaestus was the only God who limped. People believe that his father Zeus had got angry and had thrown him off a mountain.
  16. Eros was the son of the goddess of love. If he threw an arrow towards someone, the next day the person would fall in love with the first person he/she saw.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights is the name given to the first ten amendments found in the Constitution of the United States.

When and why was the bill of rights added to the constitution?

Every country has its own Constitution. A constitution is a set of fundamental principles and rules according to which a state or any organization is to be governed.
It was on March 4, 1789 when United States was established as a free nation governed by the people. America officially adopted the United States Constitution. George Washington was the first President of the United States who served in its office from 30th April 1789 till March 4, 1797. The Bill of Rights was however adopted before he became the President.

The American Constitution however needed some changes. Many of the rights and liberties which the Americans have access to- like speech, religion, the right to trial were not listed in the original Constitution. Thus the Constitution needed some amendments and these amendments came to be known as the Bill of Rights.

What is the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. The idea of this bill was to ensure certain freedom and rights to the American citizens. It put some limits on what the government could and could not do. The freedoms protected under the Bill of Rights would be the freedom of religion, speech, assembly, the right to bear arms, unreasonable search and seizure of homes, a right to speedy trial and more. Many people were not willing to sign the constitution without a Bill of Rights.

It was James Madison, the most important architect of the Constitution, who wrote 12 amendments and presented it to the Congress in 1789. George Mason (who also wrote the Virginia’s Declaration of Rights) was also credited with the subsequent changes in the Constitution. The Bill of Rights was drafted in New York City where the Federal government was operating out of the Federal Hall. 10 out of those 12 amendments were passed and made part of the Constitution and came to be known as the Bill of Rights.

The Congress commissioned 14 copies of the bill of Rights, one for the federal Government and one for each of the 13 states.

The 10 amendments to the Constitution

  1. The first amendment states that Congress shall make no law preventing the establishment of any religion or prohibiting its free exercise. It also protects the freedom of speech, press, assembly and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievance.
  2. The second amendment protects a citizen’s right to bear arms.
  3. The third amendment prevents the government from placing troops in private homes, which was a major issue during the American Revolutionary war.
  4. The fourth amendment prevents the government from unreasonable search and seizure of property of the US citizens. The government needs to have a warrant, issued by a judge based on a probable cause.
  5. The Fifth Amendment gives people the right to choose not to testify themselves in court, if they feel their own testimony will incriminate them.
  6. The sixth amendment guarantees a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peer. An accused need to be informed of the crimes they are charged with and have the right to confront the witness bought by the government.
  7. The seventh amendment provides that the civil cases will be tried by the jury.
  8. The eighth amendment prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, cruel and unusual punishments.
  9. The ninth amendment states that the people still have all the rights that are not listed.
  10. The tenth amendment gives all powers which are not specifically given to the United States government in the Constitution to either the State or its people.

The bill of Rights officially went into effect after Virginia’s approval in 1791.

Europe Facts and Information

Where is Europe located?

Europe is the sixth largest continent in the world. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Asia to the east. The continent of Europe has varied geographical features and experiences a varied climate.

History of Europe

The continent of Europe has been the home to some of the greatest civilizations of the world—from Ancient Greece to the Roman Empire. It is also known as the birthplace of modern democracy. Europe has been the focal point of two of the biggest wars in the history: World War I and II. Recently, 27 countries of Europe joined hands and formed a common union known as the European Union. This union allows the use of one currency in all the independent European countries and it is also bestowed with the authority to combine the economic and military power of these countries.

16 Interesting Facts About Europe

  1. It is believed that the continent is named after ‘Europa’, a Phoenician Princess from Greek Mythology.
  2. The population of Europe is more than 800 million, making it the third most populated continent.
  3. Europe is made up of more than 40 different countries.
  4. The continent of Europe covers just 2% of the Earth’s surface.
  5. There are no deserts in Europe!
  6. There are three time zones in Europe: Eastern European Time Zone, Central European Time Zone and Western European Time Zone.
  7. The Vatican City of Europe is the world’s smallest country.
  8. The currency of Europe is called the Euro.
  9. London is the most densely inhabited city in Europe.
  10. The highest point in the continent is the Caucasus Mountains.
  11. The longest river on this continent is the Volga River.
  12. It is also sometimes known as ‘the cradle of Western culture’. Most of the events that shaped the modern world took place in Europe.
  13. The Industrial Revolution took birth in Europe and then spread to the whole world.
  14. Europe is connected to Asia, and together they are known as Eurasia. It is, however, separated from Asia by the Ural and Caucasus mountains and, to some degree, by the Caspian Sea and Ural River. Russia, the world’s largest country, is partly located in Europe and partly in Asia. World’s largest country, Russia, and world’s smallest country, Vatican City, are both located in Europe.
  15. There are over 60,000 different species of animals found on the European continent.
  16. Europe is the wealthiest of all continents in the world.

Cold Blooded and Warm Blooded Animals

With a few exceptions, all mammals and birds are warm-blooded while all reptiles, arachnids, insects, amphibians and fish are cold-blooded. Now, what does it mean to be warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

What are cold blooded animals?

Cold-blooded animals’ body temperature is regulated by the environment. They become ‘hot-blooded’ when their environment is hot and ‘cold-blooded’ when their environment is cold.

6 Interesting facts about cold blooded animals

  1. Cold-blooded animals remain active and alert in warm environments and become very slow and lazy in cold environments. This is because the activity of their muscles depends on chemical reactions that take place quickly when it is hot and slowly when it is cold. Most of the food that cold-blooded animals eat gets converted into body mass.
  2. Cold-blooded animals like reptiles and amphibians do not have any special adaptation mechanisms. They bank on their environment to regulate their body temperature. If their body temperature rises, they must move into the shade or into water to cool down, and if their body temperature drops down, they must move into the sun to warm up.
  3. When it becomes too cold outside, cold blooded creatures like snakes and lizards do some ‘sunbathing’ to warm themselves up. While basking, these clever reptiles lie at right angles in the direction of the sun to receive maximum amount of sunlight. Once warmed up, the metabolism of these animals accelerates, resulting in producing more energy and heat. When it is hot, these animals lie parallel to the sun’s rays, take refuge in a shady area or burrow into cool soil.
  4. In winters, fish move to deeper waters or migrate to warmer waters. Insects like honeybees stay warm by ganging up together and moving their wings to generate heat. Some fish have a special protein in their body which does not allow their blood to freeze and helps them survive very cold water temperatures.
  5. Broadly speaking, the bulk of cold-blooded animals like snakes, lizards, toads, frogs and turtles prefer to just find a cozy corner and snooze till the winters are over. This is also known as hibernation.
  6. Cold blooded animals become really sluggish and unfit to hunt, mate or reproduce, if their body temperature goes down a minimum level

What are warm blooded animals?

Warm-blooded creatures are smart enough to regulate their own body temperature. Warm-blooded animals try to keep the internal temperature of their bodies constant by either generating their own heat when they are in a cooler environment or by cooling themselves when they are in a hotter environment.

8 Interesting facts about warm blooded animals

  1. To produce heat in the body, warm-blooded animals convert the food that they eat into energy. Only a small amount of the food that a warm-blooded animal eats is converted into body mass; most of the food is used to maintain a constant body temperature.
  2. Warm-blooded animals have special organs and methods for maintaining their body temperature. If we are too hot, we can sweat to cool down, and if we are too cold, we can shiver to warm up, keeping our body temperature at a constant level. In other words, our own body has the ability to keep us at 98.6*F. The dogs that you see panting on the streets in summers are also actually busy in cooling themselves off.
  3. It is interesting to note that only mammals can sweat. Primates, such as humans and monkeys have sweat glands all over their bodies while dogs and cats have sweat glands only on their feet. But, surprisingly they never seem to have stinky feet! Some mammals do not have any sweat glands, like the whale that lives in the water. Why? Because they live in water, for heaven’s sake, why would they need sweat glands?
  4. Large mammals like elephants, however, do face difficulty in bringing their body temperature down. That is why they love to bathe in ponds and lakes for long hours. It is for this reason that hippos are extremely fond of wallowing in wet mud. Mammals that live in colder regions of the world have a thick coat of hair to help them in keeping warm. In summers, they shed their hair and maintain their body temperature.
  5. There are many advantages to being warm-blooded. Warm-blooded animals can live almost everywhere on the Earth, be it in the continent of Antarctica or the Death Valley in California.
  6. A major disadvantage of being warm-blooded is that warm-blooded bodies are more susceptible to infections and diseases. Bacteria, virus and other germs prefer living in the bodies of the warm-blooded animals rather than living in the bodies of cold-blooded animals. Cold-blooded animals are spared by most of the disease-causing germs because they constantly change their body temperatures and make it difficult for the invaders to survive.
  7. However, to combat this problem, warm-blooded animals have a strong immune system. Without it, it would really have been difficult for all the warm-blooded animals to counter the wide variety of disease-causing germs present in the environment.
  8. Both warm-blooded and cold-blooded animals have unique abilities and strategies to keep themselves alive in their environments. Neither is better than the other; it is all about surviving against all odds!

Adaptations in Plants

What is adaptations in plants?

Plants adapt or adjust to their surroundings. This helps them to live and grow. A particular place or a specific habitat calls for specific conditions and adapting to such conditions helps the plants to survive. This is the reason why certain plants are found in certain areas. You would not see a cactus growing in Iceland nor would you see tall trees in grasslands. A tree that lives in the rainforest would die in a desert area. A cactus that lives in the deserts would not survive in a water lily pad. Thus plants adapt to their surroundings and climates. If the habitat changes drastically the plant species must adapt, otherwise they would not survive.

Adaptations of plants in different habitats

1. Plant adaptations in the desert

The desert is a dry area with scarcity of waters thus the plants there have small leaves and many spines which help them to conserve water. The leaves have thick waxy skins which help to retain water for a long time. There are leafless plants that store water in their green stems. Roots are near the soil surfaces that soak up water before it evaporates. The growth is slow as the plants do not have to make much food.

Example: different types of Cactus, Joshua tree etc.

2. Plant adaptations in the tropical rainforest

Such places have hot climate but have heavy rains. So the plants here have drip tips and waxy surfaces on leaves to shed the excess water. Plants have prop roots that help support them in the shallow soils. There is abundance growth of plants and some plants grow on top of the other to reach the sunlight. These plants collect rainwater through a central reservoir and have hair on them to absorb water.

Example: Bromeliads, lianas, different rainforest trees etc.

3. Plant adaptations in the temperate forests

Such forests see four distinct seasons and have harsh winters. These forests are made of layers of plants from very tall trees to small plants carpeting the forest floors. Wild flowers grow in the forest floors during spring. Most big trees here have thick barks to protect them against the cold winters. Trees have broad leaves that capture a lot of sunlight. But these leaves can weigh down the trees in winters thus in the autumn deciduous trees drop their leaves to minimize the water loss.

Example: Lichen, moss, ferns, etc.

4. Plant adaptations in the grasslands

These are also called prairies and have hot summers and cold winters with uncertain rains and many droughts. The plants here have deep roots to survive the prairie fires. Some trees have thick barks to survive the fires. Roots extend deep into the ground to absorb water. They have narrow leaves as these lose less water. Soft stems enable the prairie grass to bend in the wind.
Example: buffalo grass, needle grass, foxtail etc.

5. Plant adaptations in water

There are some floating plants that are found in water bodies. They have floating leaves in which chlorophyll is restricted only on the top surface which is green in colour. Beneath is the reddish colour of the leaves. Underwater leaves and stems help plants to move with the current. Roots and root hair are absent as there is no need to absorb water. Underwater plants have leaves with large air pockets to absorb oxygen from water. Some plants produce floating seeds as well.

Example: water lily, lotus, duckweed, giant salvinia etc.

Related Article:  Learn more about the major types of biomes on earth.

History of the Atlas

Who doesn’t know the importance of maps and atlas in our lives? Without the atlas, the world of cartographers and geographers would come to a standstill!

What is an Atlas?

An atlas is an encyclopedia of the geographical, political and other educational information regarding each part of the world which serves a number of purposes. The world atlas that is today easily accessible in libraries and bookstores has had a very vivid history.

Story of Atlas the titan

Let us first acquaint you with an interesting ancient Greek tale. Greek mythology consists of innumerable tales about giant beings known as Titans.  One such Titan was Atlas. Once upon a time, it so happened that the Titans waged a war against the Greek gods and lost. All the Titans who participated in the war, then, had to face the gods’ wrath. Atlas’s punishment was to hold the sky on his shoulders.  Atlas had no choice but to keep holding the sky up for years and years.

One day, a hero named Hercules came to see him.  Hercules was looking for certain golden apples and only Atlas knew where they grew. So, Hercules requested Atlas to go and get the golden apples and offered to hold the sky in his absence. Atlas consented to help Hercules and went in search of the golden apples after shifting the sky on Hercules’ shoulders. He soon came back with the golden apples, but refused to take the sky back on his shoulders from Hercules.  Seriously, who would want to take back a job like that?  Hercules then thought of a trick and requested Atlas to hold the sky for a while so that he could just put some pads on his shoulders to be more comfortable. Atlas agreed to do so and as soon as Atlas took back the sky, Hercules vamoosed from there with the golden apples. And, thus, Atlas was once again forced to hold the sky on his shoulders till eternity.

About 500 years ago, in 1585, Gerardus Mercator, a renowned cartographer from Germany made a book of maps.  On the first page of the book, this famous story of Atlas was narrated.  Ever since then, a book of maps has been called an Atlas.

Story of Atlas the king

Another popular belief is that the land of Mauritania (In the continent of Africa) was once ruled by King Atlas, who was a great mathematician, philosopher and astronomer who had invented the first celestial globe. Gerardus Mercator first called his collection of maps as an ‘Atlas’ to honour this legendary king.

Whatever may be the truth, one thing is sure that the word ‘Atlas’ owes its origin to either of the above stories. Now let us proceed further to know how the ancient maps came into existence.

Story of ‘Atlas’ the book

It is said that the first printed collection of maps was produced in AD 150 by the renowned geographer of those times, Claudius Ptolemy. It contained 27 hand-drawn maps. Over a period of time, early cartographers and geographers started introducing corrections and reforms in the further reproductions of the maps. But the students of geography and cartography (art of making maps) faced a lot of problems while studying these maps because of the lack of uniformity of sizes of various maps. It was a tedious job to study maps as rolling and unrolling of large maps was very difficult.

Even in the early 1500s, the geography of the globe was rarely known to anyone. It was not clear whether America was a part of Asia, if there was a vast body of sea at the top of the world or if Australia was connected to Antarctica. The invention of airplanes was several centuries away, so there was no easy way of finding out what the world looked like from above.

Cartographers had to garner, assimilate and coordinate the geographical information provided by explorers and sailors who kept sailing around the world. They used to imagine themselves floating in the air, and looking down at the world from the heights of heaven. This earned them the ire of several religious sects. Maps were ripped apart, cartographers’ homes were vandalized and their lives were threatened. Some brave heart cartographers boldly faced such challenges and strove relentlessly to devise new ways of making maps.

Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius

Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius were two such men. They were German from origin and worked together as associates. Mercator was a mathematician and cartographer who was skilled in the art of making maps and had a penchant for creative thinking. Ortelius was a trained and highly skilled artist/craftsman. In 1554, they ventured into the business of buying and selling maps. Mercator used to collect and study the maps while Ortelius decorated their borders and mounted them on silk and rendered them in colour.

Mercator soon came up with his world map, but it had one nasty drawback. It was huge! It was meant only to be hung on a wall and was not portable. Every ancient map was more or less like that! In order to include the names of the smallest of places and make them readable as well, the map had to be large in size. It so happened that one day a client named Hooftman came to meet Mercator and Ortelius and asked them to devise a way to chop the huge silken sheets into smaller pieces and publish the map of the world in a book.

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Ortelius collected the best maps around with the help of Mercator and created the book that their client Hooftman had asked for. In 1570, Ortelius made the first Atlas. However, he did not name it ‘Atlas’ at first. He called it ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ (theatre of the round world) and it had 53 uniform-sized maps in it.

This book of maps sold like hot cakes and several improved versions of this book soon hit the market. Ortelius became famous and people started respecting him for his cartography skills.
In 1585, Mercator published the first volume of his own world map in book form and titled this new book as ‘Atlas, or Cosmographical Meditations upon the Creation of the Universe’. The story of the mythological Atlas, as mentioned before, was written on the first page of this book. Now you know how the small book of maps that you every day carry in your school bag, was born.

Difference between Algae and Fungus

What is a fungus?

A fungus is a living being, which does not contain chlorophyll, and is not green. We share a love hate relationship with fungus. The yeast we use to make pizza dough and bread is a also a fungus; so it is our hero then. Other fungi grow to huge size, right before our eyes, like mushrooms. But most mushrooms are poisonous, so now we hate fungus.

How does fungi grow?

Does your mother throw away old, stale bread? Fungi get their nourishment by feeding off decaying life matter. Have you seen your stale and forgotten bread become icky and greenish white? The fungus (mold) produces furry, thread-like, spore producing hyphae, which feed on food. They are the size of 10 micrometer and you would need a microscope to see them.

Mushrooms and toadstools are those types of fungi; which like the seeds of an apple, will generate more fungi. Fungus have been in existence since 450 million years (oldest fossil called Prototaxite and 30 feet tall).
Have you wondered what the green slimy stuff in your fish tank is?

What is algae?

Algae is the green moss that grows in your fish tank when you neglect it and don’t clean it. It’s a general term used to describe a group of simple organisms that range from being unicellular to multicellular and are photosynthetic in nature. They thrive in either water or damp environment.

Water and carbon dioxide are used by the algae to photosynthesize and produce sugar which acts as food for them and the oxygen is used by the fishes to breathe.

Types of algae

Chlamydomonas – A chlamydomonas is a single celled algae that looks like a worm, with its two flagella (legs) protruding out.

Volvox – Volvox is a multi-cellular algae that looks that a circular galaxy system filled with algal cells instead of stars.

Spirogyra – The Spirogyra, is a rectangular algae.

Macrocystis – Macrocystis algae is the largest algae, that grows to 60 meters in length; and provides a dense shelter to fishes from prey. And whales and shrimps love to feast on algae as it is loaded with protein.

Algae produces 87% of the Earth’s oxygen, as a photosynthetic biproduct.

6 Interesting fun facts about algae and fungus

  1. The red tide which is a seasonal algal bloom is kms wide and travels to coasts. Some varieties may end up choking marine life through depletion of oxygen, production of toxins which can damage nervous systems of larger marine mammals and bird life.
  2. Red squirrels hang mushrooms to dry to eat during winter.
  3. Truffles are the most expensive fungi and considered a delicacy.
  4. Fungus is used to decompose industrial wastes.
  5. The first antibiotic penicillin is extracted from fungus.
  6. Wine and cheese are fermented using fungus.

Biodegradable and Non Biodegradable Waste

Before the Industrial Revolution, waste generated by our needs was low and mainly agricultural waste. Agricultural waste was further converted to either products like ropes, baskets, mats, roofing, fencing or animal feed and soil nutrients.

Industrial revolution and its requirements caused urbanisation, birth of cities and migration to cities. Growth in population in selected areas gave rise to excessive consumption, which in turn caused excessive generation of waste from factories which churned out products to meet our needs and from the work force employed to man factories in cities.

The huge quantities of waste generated over a period of time which could not be disposed has also been the cause of several epidemics.

Which leads us to ask several questions.

What is biodegradable waste?

Materials or Objects capable of being broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).

After being broken down they are easily absorbed into the soil to become nutrients or elements.

Identifying biodegradable waste

It is generally of plant, animal or mineral origin. It can be easily disposed by the action of microorganisms or animals. It can be broken down to base elements and is easily absorbed by the environment without damaging it.

Examples of biodegradable items

  • Food Waste
  • Animal And Human Excrement
  • Manure
  • Sewage
  • Slaughterhouse waste
  • Most paper products
  • Egg shells
  • Grasss
  • Flower/brush clippings

What is non biodegradable waste?

Materials or Objects not capable of being broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).

Since they cannot be broken down or decomposed they clutter the earth’s surface and and natural resources and are termed as POLLUTANTS.

Identifying non biodegradable waste

It is not of plant or animal origin or is of plant and animal origin but is processed and modified to change it’s basic natural composition. And hence cannot be broken down or decomposed to smaller products by the action of living things (such as animals or microorganisms).

Examples of non biodegradable items

  • Plastic Cups
  • Styrofoams Cups and Plates
  • Plastic bottles

What is waste management?

Waste management is collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage, sewage and other waste products. Waste management involves the process of treating solid wastes and recycling items that don’t belong to trash. It is about how garbage can be used as a valuable resource.
Reduce Reuse Recycle plays a very important part in waste management.

These are some of the things that can be recycled and reused.

  • Cardboard
  • Cooking Oil
  • Earth and Rubble
  • Electrical Appliances
  • Small Electrical Appliances and Electronic Products
  • Garden Waste
  • Glass Bottles & Jars
  • Household Batteries
  • Lead Acid (Vehicle) Batteries
  • Mixed Recycling
  • Mobile Phones
  • Oil
  • Paper
  • Pressurised Containers (gas bottles, fire extinguishers, etc)
  • Scrap Metal
  • Textiles
  • Tyres
  • Wood

Waste that cannot be Reduced, Reused or Recycled generally becomes a part of the environment and is around for 100s of years.

Genghis Khan – Founder of Mongol Empire

Who were the Mongols?

The Mongols were illiterate, religiously shamanistic and perhaps no more than 700,000 in number. They were herdsmen on the grassy plains north of the Gobi Desert, south of Siberia’s forests. Before the year 1200 AD, the Mongols were fragmented, moving about in small bands headed by a chief, or khan, and living in portable felt dwellings. The Mongols endured frequent deprivations and sparse areas for grazing their animals. They frequently fought over turf, and during hard times they occasionally raided, interested in goods rather than bloodshed. They did not collect heads or scalps as trophies.

Who is Genghis Khan?

Genghis Khan was a nomad from a Mongol tribe, who went on to become one of the world’s greatest conquerors. He was born as Temujin, around 1162 AD in a small village near the border of Mongol and Siberia. Early childhood for young Temujin, who later grew up to be Genghis Khan was violent and unpredictable.

Temujin’s father had been a minor chieftain of a noble clan, but he was murdered (poisoned) by a tribal rival Tatar before Temujin turned 10. The family was deserted by other members of their clan/tribe and they became social outcasts. Young Temujin, one of seven siblings with their mother had to survive in the harsh Mongolian Steppes hunting and foraging for survival.

A difficult and hard childhood shaped Temujin to become a strong and formidable warrior and leader by his 20s. Between 1206 AD and his death in 1227 AD, the Mongol leader Genghis Khan conquered nearly 12 million square miles of territory—more than any individual in history. Followed by Alexander the Great.

Although known for the brutality of his campaigns and conquests, he brought the Silk Road under one cohesive political structure. The Silk Road was important in connecting the trade routes between European and Eurasian, Persian, Chinese, Indian and some African Civilisations.

5 Interesting fun facts about Genghis Khan

  1. There is no definitive record of what he looked like! Although it has been said he had red hair and green eyes, although the Mongols were of ethnic diversity.
  2. Most of his most trusted generals were former enemies he had defeated over time in conquests.
  3. While conquering he never killed skilled crafts people.
  4. He created one of the first international postal systems. A resting place was organised at regular intervals to keep horses refreshed. As they were used as modes of mobility.
  5. He issued a diplomatic passport to merchants to ensure safe passage during trading. These diplomatic passports were called paizi and were medallions issued from his empire.

Cell Structure and Function

What is a cell?

A cell is the smallest functional unit of any living organism. It is the smallest part of any organism which is capable of existing and functioning independently.
It was first discovered by Robert Hooke in 1653. Matthias Schleiden, a German botanist and Theodor Schwann, a German zoologist have been credited with The Cell Theory, 1839.

Examples of unicellular and multicellular organisms

Single – celled Organisms : Amoeba, Bacteria and Yeast.
Multi – celled Organisms : Almost all plants and animals and fungus.

Cell anatomy and physiology

The living parts of the cell:

1. The cell membrane and cell wall

A cell is surrounded by a cell membrane or plasma membrane. The cell membrane has fine pores through which it allows selective substances to pass through.
The cell wall is found in plant cells and surrounds the cell membrane. It is made up of cellulose. This cell wall gives shape and makes it rigid, it also allows the free flow of substances.

2. Cytoplasm

Cytoplasm is a colourless, semi liquid substance found within the cell membrane. Cell organelles are suspended within it. It is the site of many biochemical reactions.

The cytoplasm has the following cell organelles –

  • Endoplasmic reticulum
  • Ribosomes
  • Mitochondria
  • Golgi apparatus
  • Lysosomes
  • Centrosome and centrioles
  • Plastids

3. Nucleus

The nucleus is the largest cell organelle, it is dense and spherical present in the center of the cytoplasm. It’s main function is the regulation of cell functions and contains the chromosomes. It regulates all the hereditary activities of the cell.

It consists of

  • Nuclear Membrane
  • Nucleolus
  • Chromatin fibers.

The non – living parts of the cell:

1. Granules

These are small crystal particles present in the cytoplasm. They contain starch and glycogen.

2. Vacuoles

These are certain clear places filled with water present in the cytoplasm. The fluid in them is called cell sap. Vacuoles give turgidity to the cells.

Related Article: Do you know the difference between plant cell and animal cell?

North America Facts and Information

Where is North America located?

North America is the third largest of the seven continents. Together with South America and Oceania, North America makes up the ‘New World’. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. North America takes pride in having three of the largest and most prosperous countries in the world: the United States, Canada and Mexico. It is home to a population of over 529 million people, representing about 7.5% of the total human population of the world.

History of North America

Though Columbus is generally credited for having discovered America, there were a lot of people already living in North America much before the arrival of the Europeans. The first people to inhabit the continent of North America were the Paleoindians. In the due course of time, they branched out into a number of diverse communities and cultures across the continent. The largest and most advanced civilizations in North America were the Aztec civilization in Mexico, and the Mayans in Central America. In the 1600’s, the Europeans began to arrive in North America and took over much of the continent. The colonization by the Europeans wiped out the native populations and commenced an era of European dominance. Today, people from every corner of the globe live in the continent of North America, making it an international ‘melting pot’ of inhabitants, traditions and cultures.

15 Interesting facts about North America

  1. It is believed to have been named after an Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci.
  2. Encompassing around 4.8% of the total surface of the Earth, North America holds the reputation of being the third largest continent.
  3. North America stands fourth in terms of population.
  4. A total of 24 countries, including the United States of America, jointly form the continent of North America.
  5. Area wise, the largest country in North America is Canada.
  6. It is the sole continent that has every type of climate.
  7. The city with the maximum population in this continent is Mexico City, Mexico.
  8. The longest river on this continent is the Mississippi River.
  9. The largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior, is located in North America.
  10. The biggest island on the planet, Greenland, is also located in North America.
  11. Death Valley in California is the lowest point in the continent. Death Valley also holds the record for being the hottest and the driest region on the planet.
  12. Athletes of North America have won the maximum number of Olympic medals in the world so far.
  13. Some of the main animals found in North America are Brown Bears, Hummingbirds, Bald Eagles and Bullfrogs.
  14. It is the largest exporter of wheat in the world.
  15. Cuba, a country in North America, is the world’s largest exporter of sugar and is also known as the sugar bowl of the world.

Amphibians Facts and Characteristics

What are Amphibians?

The word ‘amphibian’ owes its origin to a Greek word that means ‘double life’. Amphibians generally spend the first part of their life in water and the latter part on land.

How are Amphibians classified?

Some members of this animal class are frogs, toads, salamanders, newts and caecilians.
Amphibians are four footed and have a bony skeleton with a backbone and are classified under vertebrates.
They are tetrapods (4 limbs) that facilitate moving about on land – these limbs evolved from the pectoral and pelvic fins.
The skin is thin, soft, glandular and lacks scales except in the caecilians; caecilians have skin with scales similar to those of fish.
Amphibians are ectothermic, which means they are unable to control or generate body heat and rely on external sources to moderate their body temperature.
They breathe usually with gills in the larval stage, replaced by lungs in the adult; and cutaneous(skin) respiration in many.
They have a three-chambered heart with two atria and one ventricle, a nervous system capable of perceiving pain and a well developed digestive and excretory system.

Why do Amphibian have thin and moist skin?

Most amphibians stay or grow near water. This is the reason their skin is moist and permeable. Their skin allows cutaneous respiration and the oxygen they receive this way allows it to travel directly to the bloodstream. This method of respiration is especially useful when the amphibian has to stay in burrows during unfavourable conditions or hibernation, generally during low water situation or seasonal changes.

What is the difference between Amphibian eggs and other vertebrates that lay eggs?

The eggs of amphibians are typically laid in water and hatch into free-living larvae that complete their development in water and later transform into either aquatic or terrestrial adults (metamorphosis). In many species of frog and in most lungless salamanders (Plethodontidae), direct development takes place, the larvae growing within the eggs and emerging as miniature adults.

7 Interesting facts about Amphibians

  1. Amphibians are a crucial link in the evolutionary chain between water dwelling fish and land dwelling vertebrates. They also have a primitive lung compared to other vertebrates, connecting them to the evolution of early vertebrates.
  2. The first amphibians appeared on earth more than 370 million years ago during the Devonian period.
  3. The Chinese giant salamander is the largest known amphibian reaching 180 cms.
  4. The smallest amphibian is a frog known as the Paedophryne amauensis measuring 7.7 mm.
  5. There are more than 6,000 species of known amphibians alive today.
  6. The branch of science that studies reptiles and amphibians is known as Herpetology.
  7. Amphibians are one of the most affected species due to water and air pollution and global warming because of their permeable skin.

Canada Facts and Information

Would you like to see thousands of red sided garter snakes slithering away in spring? Or visit an underground laboratory where you study physics? Or how about the first UFO pad? A highway exclusive for animals! Then visit Canada, the second largest country covered with 50% forests, with the largest coastline of 202,080 kilometers and boasting of 30,000 lakes; and freezing temperatures of -63 °C in winter, located in North America.

Jacques Cartier had met the Canadian natives, who had invited him to their Kanata which means a village in Iroquoian language; and he thought it meant that the country was called Canada.

What is Canada famous for?

Canada has the longest street in the world which stretches over 2,000 kilometers. It has 6 time zones. Canada has a meager population of 30 million people. Ottawa is the capital of Canada, hosting the Canadian Tulip Festival and being the cleanest city.

Quebec, the oldest city in Canada, with 95% speaking French has the beautiful Chateau Frontenac Hotel which is the most photographed hotel. It is the only walled city in North America.

The greatest Canadian invention

Canadians invented the Electric Cooking Range, Kerosene, Insulin, IMAX Film System, the Blackberry Phone, the Snow Mobile, Baseball Glove and Wood Fibers (used to make paper.)

National dish of Canada

One authentic Canadian food is French Fries covered with greasy gravy and cheese curds. Peanut Butter Nanaimo bars are chocolate bars with custard in the middle. Canada produces the most amount of maple syrup, hence maple shaped chocolate maple cookies are popular amongst kids. It also produces 3, 50,000 tons of 35 kinds of cheese every year.

Canadian National Tower

The largest tower in the world, the Canada National Tower, at 1,815 feet; prides itself of having a revolving restaurant at around 1,500 feet, giving an unobstructed 360 view of the city of Toronto. At 1,122 feet, you can stand on the highly safe glass floor and look down at the street below. Rogers Center is an attractive stadium with a retractable cover to watch events like ice hockey. Once 46 puffed up Hot Air Balloons were on display here. 743 Indian elephants can comfortably sit on the field here.

Niagara Falls

The breathtaking Niagara Falls in Canada, formed in the Ice Age, has a height of 167 feet and freezes in winter, creating an ice bridge to walk over. Superman was pictured at rescuing a boy from the Falls. The amount of water that falls every second could fill one million bathtubs in one minute. It means thundering of the water. The Falls stopped once as a massive chunk of ice was blocking its path.

10 Interesting facts about Canada

1. Montreal city has more churches than houses.
2. Quebec City has a hotel called The Hotel De Glace, made of ice every winter.
3. Thousands of red sided garter snakes emerge from underground lairs, in Narcisse, in the largest snake gathering in the world for the mating season in May, every year.
4. Canada’s national flag was formed a century after its birth.
5. Basketball game was founded by Canadian James Naismith.
6. Canada has won the maximum number of gold medals at the Winter Olympics.
7. Half of the total numbers of polar bears on Earth live in Nunavat, Canada.
8. Canada Post has a special postal code for letters to Santa Claus!
9. Canada does not own the North Pole!!
10. Canada’s only desert is a sensitive ecosystem, home to a 100 rare plants and 300 animal and birds found no where else in Canada.

The Fall of Berlin Wall

What is the Berlin Wall?

The Berlin Wall, a symbol of the Cold War, was a wall that separated the communist Eastern side of Berlin from the democratic Western side. The wall was built in 1961 and stood for nearly 28 years. It all started after the World War II, when Germany was divided into two parts – East Germany Zone and West Germany Zone, among the four allies that defeated the Nazis.

West Germany Zone

West Germany zone was controlled by France, Great Britain and America. It was known as the Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

East Germany Zone

East Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union and was known as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik. Berlin, being the capital city, was divided among the four allies. Thus, the Soviet Union controlled East Berlin, while France, Great Britain and America controlled West Berlin.

Why was the Berlin Wall built?

The conditions between the two parts of Berlin became very different. The Western part was growing as their economy began to rise and become better day by day, while in the East the Soviets had full control with limited freedom to the citizens. Thus, the people living in East Germany did not want to live under the control of the Soviets and started to move towards the Western part. These people were known as defectors. Few were stopped at the border, while other made their way to the West and kept in warehouses. By the early 1960’s, more than 2 million people had defected from the East to West. East Berlin had lost a great number of their workforce. Now, the East became desperate to stop this immigration. Citizen from the East used to commute daily to the West to look for better job opportunities. The East and the West finally had enough, and decided to build a wall around Berlin to prevent people from defecting. On August 13, 1961 the communist of the East started building the wall dividing East Berlin and West Berlin. In a matter of days a low concrete wall was created between the two sides.

What were the effects of the Berlin Wall?

The wall separated families and cut people off from their daily jobs. People from the East side peered through their dilapidated apartments into the prospering West side. Many East Germans tried to climb the wall or use the tunnels to get to the West in desperation. But they were killed by the East German guards who regarded such people as traitors. The Western side was very different. They started calling the Berlin Wall a ‘wall of shame’. The East continued to rebuild the wall and kept adding onto it, making it further long. It reached a length of 103 miles, 4 feet high and 12 feet high. Guards and dogs were then added at check points to keep a watch on anyone trying to cross the wall. Did this keep the East Germans at bay? No, they still made attempts to cross the wall- simple and planned ones. This continued till the 1970’s and 1980’s.

When was the Berlin Wall demolished?

It was on June 12, 1987, when President Ronald Reagan gave a speech in Berlin directed to the Soviet Union leader, Mikhail Gorbachev and asking him to tear down this wall of shame. By this time, the communists were also beginning to weaken and losing their hold on East Germany. It was on November 9, 1989 that an announcement was made which said that relocation on the two sides can be done through all border checkpoints. People rushed to see if the borders were opened. People from the West side celebrated the end of divided Germany by chipping off and tearing down the wall with hammers. It was only on October 3, 1990 that Germany was officially recognized as one and was unified as a single country.

5 Interesting facts about the Berlin Wall

1. The West side of the Berlin Wall was fully covered with colorful graffiti while the East side was totally barren.
2. The Berlin wall had underground subways and train stations. Many trains were not allowed to stop at the East side station. These stations were heavily guarded and dimly lit and were known as ‘ghost stations’. The Ghost stations were reopened after the wall was demolished.
3. During the 28 years when the wall stood, almost 5000 people had crossed to the Western side, either over or through the wall.
4. The most famous checkpoint was Checkpoint Charlie. After the demolition the guard house of this checkpoint is now situated in the Allied Museum in Berlin.

What is an ecosystem?

In an ecosystem, each organism has its role to play. A forest has trees, herbivorous animals, carnivorous animals, birds, reptiles and insects.

How ecosystem works?

We know that the lions feast on deer, zebras and other small animals. We also know that humans are fond of hunting lions and tigers; though hunting has been banned by law, some poachers are still out there killing lions and tigers illegally.

What will happen if we take out lions and tigers completely from the forest ecosystem?

The population of the herbivorous animals will multiply in leaps and bounds and they will plunder the grasslands for food. The lack or absence of vegetation will result in soil erosion, lowering down the quality and fertility of the soil which will eventually affect us.

How non living things affect an ecosystem?

It is not just the presence or absence of the living organisms that affects the functioning of the ecosystem, but the abiotic or the non-living factors also play an important role in the ecosystem.

Industrialization and excessive use of fossil fuels for energy has resulted in serious environmental threats like global warming, ozone hole and pollution. Because of human intervention, our environment has changed, our climate has changed. Any disturbance or disruption to an ecosystem can be fatal to all organisms within the ecosystem.

Codependency in ecosystem

All the members of an ecosystem share a unique relationship with each other and depend on one another in order to get energy to survive. The energy flow in an ecosystem starts with the sun. Plants use the sun’s energy in the process of photosynthesis for manufacturing their food. These plants are eaten by herbivorous animals and the sun’s energy, in form of carbohydrates, flows from the plants to these animals.

When the herbivorous animals become food for the carnivorous animals, the energy of the sun stored in their bodies gets transferred to the carnivorous animals. The carnivorous animals may again be eaten by larger animals and when this happens, another energy transfer takes place. This pattern continues until the living organism dies and it is time for the bacterial decomposers to do their work.

Food chain in ecosystem

This ‘who eats whom’ list that also shows the path of transfer of sun’s energy in an ecosystem is known as a food chain. In an ecosystem, multiple food chains may exist. A collection of several complex food chains is known as a food web.

Science of Chemical Bonding

You know that atoms are the basic building blocks of all types of matter. Everything around you—the food you eat, the water you drink, your pets, your toys and even your bodies—is made up of atoms. In nature, these atoms combine with other atoms through chemical bonds which are a result of the strong attractive forces that exist between the atoms.

These atoms are so very tiny that you can only see them under a microscope. Now how can a tiny thing like an atom be useful to us? Well, just like the Lego blocks, these miniscule atoms make themselves useful by combining themselves with each other.

What is chemical bonding?

When two atoms combine with each other, the chemical process that takes place is known as chemical bonding. The electrons that help in the formation of chemical bonds are known as valence electrons, the ones that are found in an atom’s outermost shell. When two atoms come close to each other, the valence electrons in their outer shell interact with each other. Though electrons repel each other, they are attracted to the protons in the nuclei of atoms. Due to the interaction of forces, some atoms form bonds with each other and stick together.

Types of chemical bonding

There are two main types of bonds formed between atoms: ionic bonds (also known as electrovalent bonds) and covalent bonds. An ionic bond is formed when one atom either accepts or donates one or more of its valence electrons to another atom. A covalent bond is formed when instead of donating or accepting electrons, the atoms share valence electrons. When the atoms do not share the electrons equally, a polar covalent bond is formed. When metallic atoms share their electrons, a metallic bond is formed.

Why do atoms form bonds?

Now that you have understood how the atoms combine together, you must also know why these atoms need to bind together. The answer is : all atoms want to be happy, just like you! And what makes them happy is having their shells full. There is a specific 2-8-8 rule that can make them happy. The first shell should be filled with 2 electrons, the second with 8 electrons, and the third one also with 8 electrons.

Some atoms have extra electrons in their shells. These atoms are very generous and always ready to give up their electrons. Some atoms have a few electrons less in their shells. These are the greedy ones, always looking to bag some electrons from other atoms.

Examples of chemical bonds

Let us study some elements, sodium and fluorine for starters, to comprehend the concept of chemical bonding better. Sodium (Na) has 3 shells and only one electron in its outer shell. Now this sodium atom can do either of the two things: it can donate one electron in its third shell to some other atom and have two complete shells, with 8 electrons in each orbit or it can can keep looking for some benevolent atom with extra electrons to meet it someday sometime and fill up its third shell. Which option sounds easier to you? Obviously, it is the first one! It is much easier for the atoms to give away the electrons rather than keep waiting to receive some extra ones.

The atom of another element, fluorine (F) has 7 electrons in its outer shell, i.e. it is one electron shy of becoming ‘happy’. So, what these two atoms do is that they give and take electrons from their outer shells and become happy. In other words, the sodium atom gives away the extra electron in its outer shell to the fluorine atom and then both have a total of 8 electrons in their outermost shell. Such a bond is known as ionic bond. When an atom gives up an electron, it develops a positive charge like sodium (Na+) and when an atom receives an extra electron, it becomes negatively charged like fluorine (F-). The positive and negative charges attract each other like magnets and this is what helps in the formation and maintenance of the bond.

Bonding of Oxygen and Fluorine

Now let us learn more about the covalent bonds with the help of oxygen (O) and fluorine (F). Oxygen has 6 electrons in its outer shell and fluorine has 7. Fluorine needs one electron and oxygen needs a couple of electrons to have a completely filled up shell. Both these elements have innermost shells that are complete with two electrons, but their second shells want to have more! If they agree to share their electrons with atoms of other elements, they can share electrons and make covalent bonds with those elements. They can also decide to make an ionic bond if they prefer to borrow electrons from some other atom rather than sharing. Whether by sharing, donating or borrowing electrons, the atoms of an element reach the happy state of having eight electrons in their outer shells by bonding with other atoms. After all, everyone wants to be happy, right?

Fun Facts about Temperature

We often say today’s temperature is 34 degree centigrade or 40 degree centigrade. But what do we mean by the terms temperature or centigrade?

What is temperature?

Temperature can be defined as an objective comparative measure of hot or cold (heat energy).

Units of temperature

Centigrade is the unit of measuring temperature. There are different scales and units which are used for measuring temperature. Among them the most common are Celsius or centigrade (°C), Fahrenheit (°F) and Kelvin (K). Kelvin is considered as the basic unit of temperature in the International System of Units (SI). Generally, Celsius scale is used widely in which 0°C and 100°C correspond the freezing and boiling points of water respectively at sea level. Temperature is measured by thermometer. In Fahrenheit scale, 32°F and 212°F correspond to the freezing and boiling points of water. This scale is mainly used in United States.

11 Interesting facts about temperature

  1. In universe temperatures range from about 3,500,000,000 Kelvin (a supernova) to 3 Kelvin (space).
  2. Sun is known to be a class G yellow star .The average surface temperature of Sun is 5,600 Kelvin.
  3. Absolute zero is the coldest theoretical temperature. Reaching this temperature substance does not possess any heat energy. It has been defined as zero Kelvin (0 Kelvin) which is found to be equivalent to -273.16 degrees Celsius and -459.69 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. The temperature of a substance has been defined as a result of the speed at which its molecules move. The theory states that faster the molecules will move, higher the temperature of the substance will be.
  5. A very notable fact is that Fahrenheit and Celsius are equal at -40 degrees.
  6. Temperature affects physical properties of materials whether it is solid, liquid, gaseous or plasma: density; solubility; vapour pressure and electrical conductivity.
  7. It affects rate and extent to which chemical reactions take place.
  8. Temperature affects the amount as well as properties of thermal radiation which emits from the surface of an object.
  9. 57.8 °C (136 °F) is the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. It was recorded on September 13, 1922 in Al ‘Aziziyah located in Libya.
  10. −89.2 °C (−128.6 °F) is the coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth. It was recorded at Vostok Station located in Antarctica on July 21, 1983.
  11. Conduction (occurs in solid), convection (occurs in liquid) and radiation (takes place through space) are the three processes of transferring heat from a substance at a higher temperature to one at a lower temperature.

Types of fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables form an important part of our daily diet. They contain essential vitamins and minerals which keep us healthy and protect us from diseases. At least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits are recommended daily.

What is a fruit?

A fruit is a seed bearing structure and develops from a flowering plant. A fruit is a sweet and fleshy product of a tree or a plant and can be eaten as food, without cooking.

  • Apples and pears
  • Citrus – oranges, grapefruits, mandarins and limes
  • Stone fruit – nectarines, apricots, peaches and plums
  • Tropical and exotic – bananas and mangoes
  • Berries – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, kiwifruit and passion fruit
  • Melons – watermelons, rock melons and honeydew melons
  • Tomatoes and avocados.

What is a vegetable?

A vegetable is any part of a plant that is eaten as food such as roots, stems, leaves and even flower buds.
Some common types of vegetable are:

  • Leafy green – lettuce, spinach and silverbeet
  • Cruciferous – cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli
  • Marrow – pumpkin, cucumber and zucchini
  • Root – potato, sweet potato and yam
  • Edible plant stem – celery and asparagus
  • Allium – onion, garlic and shallot.

Fruits example:

Apples – Red, Green, Golden…there are thousands of varieties of apples. You can have them raw and even cook them into delicious jam, sauces or a sweet dish.

Vegetables example:

Broccoli – This veggie is a close relative of cabbage and one of the essential greens in a diet. Have it steamed, stir-fried or in a salad, it is full of nutritional value.

Note – To know the difference between fruits and vegetables, click here.

Animal brain size comparison

Are humans the most intelligent species on earth?

Scientists believe that humans are the most intelligent creatures on earth. Thus, it is concluded that human brain is the largest brain among all living beings on planet earth. The human brain weighs 1.1 kg to 1.4 kg.

What animals have the biggest brains?

Let us look at the size of brains of other living creatures on earth:

  • Sperm Whale – It is the largest toothed predator and has the largest brain weighing 7 kg. Compare it with the largest whale, the blue whale which has a brain of 5 kg.
  • Elephant – It has a brain size of 4.78 kg. The brain of an elephant makes up less than 0.1% of its body weight.
  • Mountain Gorilla – They are considered to have a good amount of intelligence with a brain that weighs 430 g. Brainy than a monkey whose brain size is only 22 g.
  • Chimpanzee – Compared to its body size, a chimpanzee has a brain size of 350 g. The brains of early humans were similar to those of chimpanzees.
  • Walrus – It has a brain size of 1.1 kg. This brain size comes very close to a human brain size. One half of the walrus brain remains active while it sleeps.
  • Dolphin – Positioned next to humans, a dolphin’s brain size is 2 kg. If trained, dolphins are sufficiently intelligent to grasp and learn several tasks.
  • Octopus – It is considered as the most intelligent invertebrate as its brain is made of the largest brain cells or neurons, found in nature. Its brain is made up of 500 million large neurons. Each of the eight arms of the octopus carries, a neuron package and its intelligence can be compared to that of a chimp.
  • Cats and Dogs – The brain of a cat is only 30 g in size. But cats learn by observation and have better short term memory. Dogs though have longer memory but their brain size is 30% lighter than those of wolves.
  • Alligator – One of the most ferocious predators, the reptilian alligator’s brain weighs only 8 g. They are roughly the size of three olives!
  • Giraffe – These tall animals have a brain half the size of humans. Their brains weigh only 680 g.
  • Rat – The size of a rat brain is only 2 g, while its body weight is 400 g. Rats have the ability to predict events and avoid danger and are experts in obtaining basic resources.

Germany Facts and Information

10 Interesting facts about Germany

1. Germany is known as Deutschland in the German language.
2. The capital city of Deutschland is Berlin.
3. Germany has the largest economy in Europe.
4. Football is the most popular sport in Germany.
5. The first book was printed in the German language.
6. German is the third most commonly taught language worldwide.
7. There are around 300 varieties of bread found in Germany.
8. Instead of saying ‘Hello’, the Germans answer the phone with their surname.
9. Gummy Bears were invented by the candy maker, Hans Riegel, in Germany.
10. The biggest festival of Germany known as Oktoberfest, starts from the last week of September and is a 16 to 18 day long festival held since the Middle Ages.

Desert plants and their adaptations

What is it that sets a desert apart from other landscapes? – Desert plants

What are desert plants?

Desert plants are those which grow in the environment of arid regions where rainfall is scanty. Their beauty is very different from other plants. Desert plants are sturdily built. There are different types of plants which grow in deserts around the world.

6 Most common desert plants

1. Elephant Tree:

This plant is found to be grown in the Santa Rosa Mountains and south western part of the Arizona. It is small in size and has thick trunk .It stores water in trunk, lower limbs and wood. Elephant tree produces beautiful small and star shaped flowers which are either white or cream in colour.

2. Organ Pipe Cactus:

Organ Pipe Cactus is mainly found in the rocky deserts of Mexico and the US. This plant has narrow stems and a small trunk. This species of cactus takes 150 years to reach its mature stage. This plant produces fruits and purple or light pink tinted flowers.

3. Desert Sage:

Desert Sage is a shrub. It grows about 2-3 meters in height. Flowers of this shrub are deep blue in colour with purple bracts. This shrub is evergreen plant .It does not require water once it has set well.

4. Desert Marigold:

These plants belong to the aster family. They are mainly found in the south western parts of the US and Mexico. Desert Marigold is annual and short lived perennial plant. Their heights range between 10 and 30 inches. They possess hairy leaves which increase the reflection of light. This lowers leaf temperatures and blocks UV rays, making them to survive in extreme climate. The flowers of these plants are yellow in colour.

5. Saguaro:

The saguaro belongs to the cactus species. Its growth depends on the amount of precipitation present in the deserts. It produces ruby red fruits; white and yellow flowers.

6. Barrel Cactus:

These are the most common plant found in the deserts around the globe. Their heights vary between 1 meter to 10 meters. Barrel Cactus produces flowers of different shades such as orange, red, yellow and pink.

11 Interesting facts about desert plants

1. Desert plants are highly adaptable to the tough and extreme climate of the deserts.
2. Desert plants store water mainly in their trunk, stem and fleshy leaves.
3. Desert plants mainly the cactus group can be developed in nurseries and personal gardens.
4. They are ornamental plants which are used for home decoration.
5. Some cactus produces flowers.
6. Flowers of desert marigold are highly poisonous.
7. If the spine of barrel cactus accidentally pricks, one may need to take antibiotics to combat its effects.
8. Fruits of Organ Pipe Cactus are tastier than watermelon.
9. Fruits of Saguaro are consumed by locals.
10. Fruits of Organ Pipe Cactus serve as medicines.
11. Desert Sage has medicinal properties which cure headaches, common cold, stomach aches, influenza, pneumonia and eye problems.

11 Crazy facts about the world

The world we live in has some unknown, weird and crazy truths or facts that might just blow your mind.

Let us look at some of the crazy facts our world hides!

1. Russia is bigger than Pluto

Pluto has been deleted from the list of planets but it is the largest object in the Kuiper belt orbiting the Sun. Russia, the largest country by land mass on earth, is bigger than Pluto! Russia’s surface area is 17,075,200 square kilometres while Pluto stands at 16,647,940 square kilometres.

2. Mammoths did not extinct with dinosaurs

Woolly mammoths existed even when the pharaohs were busy building the pyramids in Egypt. So the mammoths got extinct not so long ago and man did get to see them in real, though man could not see the dinosaurs. They overlap in time with the construction of pyramids. Man exploited mammoths for their skin and tusks.

3. Lobsters are immortal or so they call

Lobsters can die of external forces but they just keep growing and growing when left on their own. Even after they attain sexual maturity lobsters keep growing. They can even regrow a limb after losing it in an accident. They cannot live forever, some scientist say, but they can grow and live an extremely long life, which might seem as eternity.

4. Holes in pen lids and Lego

Do you know why pen lids and Lego blocks have holes in them? They were created just so that if they are accidentally swallowed by someone, they would still be able to breathe due to passage of air through that hole!

5. Panda is China property

Every Panda you see is the property of China. If you see a Panda anywhere else in the world then they have rented that Panda from China. Any guesses on the rate? US $1 million a year!

6. Smelly bacteria

Rain brings with it immense joy and a slight, pleasant fragrance of the after showers. Do you know what this pleasant smell is? It is the smell of bacteria called Actinomycetes. They are of great importance because of their contribution to the soil and forests.

7. Life forms living on your skin outnumber people on the planet

There are about trillions of microbes living on your skin. 90% of our body is home to microbes. They are on our eyelashes, tongue, skin, hair follicles, teeth…everywhere!

8. An octopus that mimics

Yes, there is an octopus called the mimic octopus which is capable of impersonating or mimicking other species. They can change their skin colour and texture to blend with the surroundings. But they can change shapes and mimic flounder, lion fish or sea snakes!

9. Dead bodies on Mount Everest

There are over 200 dead bodies on Mount Everest and climbers use them as way pointers. The corpses are left there with the flags of specific countries. They die for Everest and are left there as it is difficult to carry them back.

10. Vacant houses in United States

There are more vacant houses in the United States than homeless people. Homeless has been on the rise in America but you just cannot put homeless people in any vacant house. So, empty houses end up being owned by banks rather than people.

11. A Jellyfish is 95 percent water

Only about 5 percent of the body of a jellyfish is solid. They don’t have blood, brain or even a heart, but they can sting real badly!

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was the King of Macedonia, the ancient kingdom of Northern Greece, and the conqueror of the Persian Empire. In his short life span he had conquered many empires and thus he was considered as one of the greatest military geniuses to have ever lived.

Early life

Macedonia was ruled by Alexander’s father, King Philip II. Alexander was born in July in356 B.C in Pella. Alexander was raised by a nurse and a strict tutor and learned how to read, play the lyre, ride, fight and everything that a son of a noble family would do. At the age of 13 Alexander was tutored by the famous philosopher and scientist Aristotle. He taught him medicine, philosophy, logic, morals, religion and it was through his teachings that Alexander developed a passion for the wars of Homer and the Iliad. These stories were the ones that inspired him to become a war hero.

Alexander – The soldier and king

Alexander became a soldier at the early age of 16. At that young age, Alexander helped his father in an important battle to defeat the Athenian and Theban armies. Alexander became king when his father died. He had gained support of most of the army. Though King Philip succeeded in uniting all Greek-city states, after his death the states were divided once again. Alexander worked towards getting the support of the Greek city states. With the exception of Athens, the Greek city states supported Alexander with full military power.

Alexander’s empire

Alexander now turned east to conquer more of the civilised world. First he moved and conquered Asia Minor, which is Turkey today. Next he took over Syria, defeating the Persian Army. He then set to conquer the Persian Empire, the largest kingdom to the Eats of Greece. In 334 B.C Alexander broke the power of Persia and defeated the kingdom in a series of decisive battles. After defeating the Persian King Darius III, Alexander became the king of the Persian Empire. Alexander’s empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River. He then conquered Egypt and declared Alexandria as its capital. He then moved to Babylonia, including the city of Susa.

Alexander conquered many kingdoms and even grew his empire to occupy Punjab in Northern India. He defeated King Porus in India but was very impressed by his bravery and tactics and made him an ally. He gave Porus his Kingship back and also some land that he did not own previously.

Death of Alexander

Alexander had just come to Babylon and captured it when he suddenly fell sick and died. Many people suspect he was poisoned as the reason of death is unknown. He died at the age of 32. Some say he died of a fever, maybe malaria or typhoid. He was sick for 12 days before he succumbed to his illness.

4 Facts about Alexander the Great

  1. Alexander never lost a battle, not even one.
  2. He named more than 70 cities after him and one after his horse, Bucephalus in India.
  3. After defeating the Persians Alexander started dressing like them.
  4. After his death, Alexander’s body was immersed in honey by the Babylonians to save it from decoy. Many years later it was placed in Alexandria’s communal mausoleum.

Difference between metals and non-metals

Elements on the Earth are classified into metals and non-metals based on their characteristics and physical properties. The periodic table has metals placed on the left while non-metals are placed on the right. Let us first look at what we mean by each of them.

What are metals?

Metals are solid materials and are typically hard, malleable (bendy), ductile (flexible) and heavy. They are good conductors of heat and electricity. Metals are shiny and have a high density. They can also be opaque as a thin sheet. Example: aluminium, copper, gold, silver, steel are all metals. Metals have one to three electrons in their outer shells.

What are non-metals?

Any material or substance that is not a pure metal is a non-metal. They do not have the properties of a pure metal. Non metals are dull in appearance. They are poor conductors of heat and electricity. Non-metals maybe solids, liquid or gases at room temperature. Non metals have four to eight electrons. Non metals are very good oxidising agents but they are very brittle and have low density. Example: hydrogen, helium, phosphorus, iodine, carbon are some non-metals.

Chemical properties of metals and non-metals

  • Metals are very reactive. They tend to lose electrons very easily and form positively charged ions. This allows metals to form compounds with other elements very easily.
  • Metals corrode easily. They are damaged by oxidation like rust or tarnish
  • Almost all metal combine with oxygen to form metal oxide
  • Metals like lead, copper, silver and gold do not recat with water at all
  • Metals react with acid to give salt and hydrogen
  • Non metals form oxides that are acidic in nature
  • Non metals readily gain or share valence electrons
  • Non metals gain electrons to form anions (an atom that has donated electrons, hence giving a negative charge)

Physical Properties of metals and non-metals

  • Metals are hard except Sodium and Potassium
  • The boiling and melting points of metals are high and they also have high density
  • Metals are sonorous (when a metal is beaten it produces sound) except mercury
  • Metals can be turned into thin sheets by hammering, this is called malleability
  • Metals can be changed into thin wires, this is called ductile
  • Non metals are soft- except diamond
  • Non metals are mostly found in gaseous state, except Bromine which is found in liquid state
  • Non metals have a dull surface except iodine and graphite
  • Non metals are not sonorous

South America Facts

Where is South America located?

South America is the fourth largest continent in size and is located in the Southern Hemisphere of the Earth. It is home to the majestic Andes mountain range and the mysterious Amazon River.
The continent of South America is compact and slightly triangular in shape, being broad in the north and in narrowing down at the point called Cape Horn in the south.
South America is bounded by three major water bodies from three sides: Pacific Ocean on the west, Caribbean Sea to the northwest and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.

20 Interesting facts about South America

  1. South America comprises about 12% of the earth’s land.
  2. South America is the fifth largest continent in terms of population.
  3. Andes mountain system in South America is the second highest mountain range in the world, next to the Himalayas, in Asia.
  4. The highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls, is situated in South America.
  5. World’s highest lake, Lake Titicaca, is located here
  6. World’ largest salt lake, Salar de Uyuni, is located here.
  7. Portuguese and Spanish are the main languages spoken in South America.
  8. Brazil, the largest producer of coffee in the world, is situated in South America.
  9. The highest point in this continent is Cerro Aconcagua in Andes in Argentina.
  10. The continent of South America is named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
  11. Anaconda, the heaviest snake on earth, is found in South America.
  12. It has the world’s largest river Amazon (by volume).
  13. Amazon rainforest is also the largest rainforest in the world.
  14. A total of 12 countries together constitute the continent of South America.
  15. Area wise, the largest country in South America is Brazil.
  16. Suriname is the smallest country in South America.
  17. Brazil is the most thickly populated country in South America.
  18. The Atacama Desert, Chile, is the largest desert.
  19. Some of the rare animals found in South America are ant-eaters, armadillos and llamas.
  20. It is the only continent to have wild Pink Dolphins.

Union Territories of India

What is Union Territory?

A Union Territory is a like a small state; but it is operated by the Indian government and lacks its own elected government. They are Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Lakshadweep, Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry.

The President of India chooses a Lieutenant Governor for each Union Territory.

Why does India have Union Territories?

Political tensions in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands caused the government to take over them. Before this it had been controlled by the Britishers, with prisoners being kept there. Chandigarh fell into a tug of war between Punjab and Haryana, before becoming a union territory.

7 Union Territories of India

There are seven union territories in India, which are administered by the Central government.

1. Delhi

Delhi officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi or NCT, is a city and a union territory of India. It was converted into a Union Territory in 1956. It was officially named National Capital Territory of Delhi. It is also own as National Capital Region urban area in which Noida, Gurgaon, Greater Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad are included. It is located on beautiful banks of Yamuna river, one of the holly river in India. Palika Bazaar, Lotus Temple, Jama Masjid are few of the many tourist attractions Delhi has with The India Gate being considered as The Pride of India.

2. Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Andaman and Nicobar Islands have emerged from being a prisoner’s camp to a disease stricken land, to now being the most coveted and beautiful islands. 572 small and loosely flowing islands filled with the unpolluted sun and untamed wild life, make this a breathtaking place. Fishes die from old age as commercial fishing is banned. The Dermochelys Coriacea endangered turtles, weighing 500 kilograms, flock in thousands here every year where they nest. The Robber Crabs are the only crabs who climb up coconut trees to stealthily steal the soft coconut kernels without breaking apart the coconut.

3. Chandigarh

Le Corbusier had designed the beautiful and modern city of Chandigarh. The famous Open Hand Monument symbolizes the notion of giving and taking peacefully. There are interesting places to see like the Butterfly Park, The International Doll Museum, and Topiary Park etc. The Rock Garden contains eccentrically carved rocks made from industrial wastes. Chandigarh holds the second largest museum filled with Gandhara statues; which feature a confluence of Indian and Roman art, with gold and bronze details on stone.

4. Puducherry

Puducherry or the French Riviera of India still echoes its French influence through language, majestic colonial palaces and docile boulevards. The streets are oval shaped and cut at right angles. Be careful as you walk, as a street can have one name assigned at one end, and another name at the other end! You can try an exotic dish like the bébé octopus a l’Armoricaine (baby octopus cooked in fire) here.

5. Daman and Diu

Daman and Diu feature massive Portuguese and Gujrati cultural influences. The Zampa Gateway, not only features an inscription dated to 1702; but also intricate carvings of lions and angels. The Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata had spent a couple of days in Daman. The Diu Museum was actually the St Thomas Church; as there wasn’t enough space to build a proper museum to hold the dear antiques! Diu is the only place in India to house African palm trees.

6. Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Dadra and Nagar Haveli houses 62% of the tribal population like Kokana and Dublas. The Daman Ganga River watershed flows through it. It is comprised of 70 villages. The Tarpa dance constitutes of people holding each other’s waists, and dancing to the sound made by instruments made of gourd. The Vasona is a place for all the brave people who want to go and see the ferocious lions roaming around.

7. Lakshadweep

Lakshadweep consists of 36 majestic coral reef islands filled with tall coconut trees, scenic beauty and ample places to fish. The history of Lakshadweep has been passed down mostly through word of mouth. The Pitti Island is home to the grand pelagic (who love the water more than land) birds like Brown Noddy. The territory looks like a few dots on India’s map. Fish, jaggery, rice and coconut are the ingredients found here but they give rise to a plethora of mouth watering dishes. The people of the northern part of Lakshadweep feel they were washed ashore. Lakshadweep has the largest literacy rate of 92.28%.

Kohinoor Diamond History and Facts

What is the meaning of Kohinoor?

The Koh-i-Noor in Persia means “Mountain of Light”. The name was first used by Nader Shah a Persian ruler.

Weight and Origin of Kohinoor Diamond

The Kohinoor diamond weighs 21.6 grams and is a 105.6 metric carat diamond. This diamond is believed to have been one of the largest known diamonds that originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.

Story of the Kohinoor Diamond

Legend has it that the Kohinoor diamond is about five thousand years old. It was originally known as Madnayak or the ‘King of Jewels’ before being renamed as the Kohinoor.

The Kohinoor diamond was taken away by the British East India Company and adorned the crown of Queen Victoria when she became the Empress Of India in the year 1877. Currently the diamond is set in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth and is on display at the Tower Of London.

The Kohinoor moved through various dynasties and kings in India and Persia before it reached the Queen. It belonged to various Hindu, Mughal, Afghan and Sikh rulers.

Curse of the Kohinoor Diamond

It is believed that the Koh-i-Noor diamond carries with it a curse which has caused harm to men but not to women. The men who were in possession of this diamond either lost their fortunes or life.

What is GDP?

Full form of GDP

GDP or Gross Domestic Product is a measure used in Economics for measuring a territory’s economy size.

GDP is the best measure to calculate a country’s economy. It includes everything produced by all the people and companies in a country.

Definition of GDP

GDP is the total value of all products manufactured and goods provided within that territory during a specific period, say a year.
Simply put, Gross Domestic Product is the total goods produced by a country in a specific period of time. GDP measures the health of a country. A country with a high GDP is a good economy while a country with a low GDP is poor economy.

How to find the GDP of a nation?

To find the GDP of a nation one needs to add up all consumer spending (C), investments (I), all government spending minus taxes (G) and the value of exports minus imports (X-M).

Thus, the following equation:

GDP= C+I+G+ (X—M)

GDP can be measured by three methods:

  1. Output method: It measures the market value of all goods and services produced within the borders of the country. It is known as GDP at constant price or real GDP. The formula is: GDP as per output method= Real GDP – Taxes + subsidies
  2. Expenditure method: It measures the total expenditure incurred by all entities on goods and services produced within the boundaries of a country. The above mentioned formula is used to calculate GDP by expenditure method. GDP= C+I+G+(X-M)
  3. Income method: It measures the total income earned by the factors of production, which are labour and capital within the boundaries of a country. The formula for this is GDP by income method= GDP at factor cost +Taxes – Subsidies

What is GDP per capita?

This is the total income of a country, divided by the number of people living in that country. GDP per capita shows how much money people make on an average by working in that country.

Nominal GDP is different than the real GDP. When GDP is calculated at current market prices, it is known as nominal GDP. Nominal GDP includes changes in prices which is different than the real GDP. These changes in prices could be due to inflation and price rise or price fluctuations.

Example: If price rises by 3% (everything costs 3% more) and the nominal GDP grows by 5%; the real GDP growth is only increased by 2%.
Nominal GDP is a raw measurement that leaves price increases in the estimate. Real GDP takes out the effect of inflation. It shows how much the prices have changed since the base year.

What is GDP growth rate?

This is the percent increase in an economy’s output from quarter to quarter. The growth rate tells you exactly how fast a country’s economy is growing.

In India contributions to GDP are divided into 3 main categories- agriculture and allied services, industry and service sector. India measures GDP as market prices and the base year for computation is 2017-18.

Stingrays vs Manta Rays

What are stingrays?

Stingrays are unique fish that are infamous around the world for their venomous ‘stings’ or ‘barbs’. There are around 70 species of stingrays in the world.

Stingray habitat

Stingrays thrive in shallow waters and warm climate and are found around the globe. Stingrays come in various sizes; they may be as small as a few inches or up to 5 to 7 feet long. Stingrays are carnivorous and feast on small crabs, mollusks, snails, oysters and clams.

Where do stingrays live?

Stingrays are shy creatures and they spend most of their time hiding on the ocean floor. Contrary to their notorious reputation of attacking humans, they use their stings only to defend themselves. Whenever a stingray is scared or feels threatened, it uses its tail to ‘poke’ its enemy. Ouch!

Are stingrays poisonous to humans?

Famous wildlife expert Steve Irwin, who was known for handling and studying some of the most dangerous animals on the planet, was killed in a freak accident under the water in 2006. It was a stingray that was responsible for his death! Human deaths caused by stingray venom are extremely rare, because though the venom results in excruciating pain, it is not usually fatal. Unfortunately, in Steve’s case, the stinger had pierced his heart which took his life.

7 Interesting facts about stingrays

  1. Stingrays do not have any bones! Their bodies are made up of cartilage, the same material that our ears and nose are made up of.
  2. When stingrays move their big fins up and down to move ahead in water, it seems they are flying like birds!
  3. Stingrays have a unique diamond-shaped body.
  4. If you look at stingrays from the bottom, it seems as if they are smiling.
  5. In the past, peoples used the spines of sting rays to make weapons like daggers.
  6. Ancient Greek people used the stingray venom as an anaesthetic.
  7. Stingrays do not use their eyes to find prey. They have special electro-sensors that detect electrical charges emitted from the body of a nearby potential prey, and tell them about the location of the prey.

What are manta rays?

Manta rays are the largest rays and closely related to the stingrays. Despite of being nicknamed as ‘devilrays’ and ‘devilfish’ and ‘giant manta’, they are harmless and do not have any stinging spine. They are graceful swimmers and can display interesting acrobatic tricks in the water. They may measure up to 29 feet in width and weigh as good as 1300 kgs. Whoa! That is quite a lot!

3 Interesting facts about manta rays

  1. Manta rays lose their protective mucous membrane when touched by humans.
  2. Manta rays are closely related to sharks. Ironically, it is the sharks who love to eat them the most! Relations have no value for certain creatures!!
  3. The name ‘Manta’ means ‘blanket’ because this creature resembles a blanket as it moves around in the water.

Facts about Dubai

12 Interesting facts about Dubai

  1. Dubai was formed in 1971 and is one of seven states that consist of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
  2. There are hundreds of mosques in Dubai and the call to prayer can be heard five times a day throughout the city. Hotel rooms have arrows pointing in the direction of Mecca for praying.
  3. Crime rate is virtually zero across the city. Dubai is one of the fifth safest places on earth.
  4. Dubai has no street addresses. Posts are instead delivered to PO boxes.
  5. Foreigners make up most of Dubai’s population. The local residents are called Emiratis, and are just 15% of the total population.
  6. Emiratis are provided with free education, free medical and free housing.
  7. Dubai is the fastest growing city in the world. In 1991, Dubai had just one tall building and now they have over 400 high rises.
  8. The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, is in Dubai. It has 164 floors.
  9. Arabic is the official language, but most of the locals speak English.
  10. You do not need to pay personal and income tax in Dubai.
  11. A new skyscraper is built every day in Dubai.
  12. The world’s largest horses are found in Dubai.

Turtle vs Tortoise : Difference and Facts

Turtles and Tortoises are two kinds of reptiles. They belong to the order Testudinidae. Both the species possess shells.

What is the difference between turtle and tortoise?

Turtles and tortoises have different types of feet and shells. Water turtles have flippers or webbed feet with long claws. They have more streamlined and flattered shells. Turtles live in water. Therefore, they can swim.

Types of turtles

There are different types of turtles. Some of them are African Sideneck Turtle, Alligator Snapping Turtle, Box Turtle, Musk Turtle and others.
Tortoises possess stubby, elephant-like feet and heavy dome shaped shells. They are herbivorous creatures and cannot swim. Tortoises dwell on land.

Types of tortoise

Different types of tortoises are Red-footed Tortoise, Russian Tortoise, Leopard Tortoise, Aldabra Tortoise and others.

16 Interesting facts about turtle and tortoise

  1. A group of tortoises is known as a creep.
  2. Tortoises roam around alone. Though some of the mother tortoises protect their nests but they do not take care of their babies.
  3. Tortoise divided into three main parts. The upper part is called carapace, the lower part is known as plastron. The bridge which helps these parts to merge together is considered as the third part of the tortoise shell. Turtle shells also consist of carapace and plastron.
  4. The ribs, the collar bone and the spine of a tortoise lie inside its shell.
  5. Scales present on the carapace are called scutes. They protects the bony plates of the shell from infections and injuries.
  6. The approximate age of tortoises can be determined by counting the growth rings around scutes.
  7. Tortoise living in hot places possesses light coloured shells.
  8. Tortoise can hold its breath for a long period.
  9. Shell of a tortoise is sensitive. It can feel if touched.
  10. Tortoise can smell with its throat.
  11. Sulcatas are one of the biggest tortoises. They are popular pet.
  12. Turtles are cold blooded creatures.
  13. In some species male turtles are born in low temperature. Female turtles are born in high temperature.
  14. Sea turtles possess a special kind of gland. It helps them to remove salt from water they drink.
  15. Leatherback is the largest sea turtle. It may weigh over nine hundred kilograms (2000lb)
  16. Many turtles are considered to be the endangered species.

Learn how to draw a tortoise with the help of this step-by-step drawing video guide, here: https://mocomi.com/how-to-draw-a-tortoise/

Major Biomes of the World

What is a Biome?

A biome is formed of plants and animals having common characteristics due to similar climates and can be found in different continents. Biomes comprise of variety of habitats. There are seven major biomes in this world.

What are the major types of Biomes on Earth?

1. Tropical Rain Forest:

Tropical Rain Forests provide shelter to maximum number of species in comparison to other biomes. They are found in parts of South and Central America, Southeast Asia, parts of Africa, Southern India and North eastern Australia.

Natural Vegetation:

Broad-leaved evergreen trees found. Both tall and short vegetations grow, forming two layers- Upper and lower layers.
The upper layer consists of tall trees. The leafy tree tops extend up to 70 metres above the forest floors and form a canopy. Under such canopy the shorter vegetation (trees and vines) grow, forming the second layer. Other vegetations found in these forests are fern, climbing trees, orchids and bromeliads. The soil is thin and do not contain much minerals.
Climate: Climate is hot and wet throughout the year.
Wildlife: The wildlife consists of the following species:

  • Herbivores such as tapirs, capybaras and sloths.
  • Birds such as parrots, parakeets and toucans.
  • Reptiles such as Caymans, anacondas, frogs and boa constrictors.
  • Insects such as butterflies, beetles and ants.
  • Besides, jaguars, monkeys, anteaters, piranhas and various other freshwater fishes are also found.

2. Arctic Tundra:

It is located in the north around the Arctic Ocean. It covers Lapland and Scandinavia; Siberia; Alaska and Canada; a large portion of Greenland. Apart this, there is another tundra named alpine tundra. It is a separate biome which exists at the tops of high mountains.

Natural Vegetation:

It is treeless swampy plains. Trees never grow due to the presence of permafrost (permanently frozen subsoil). However, small shrubs, cushion plants and lichens are found.
Climate: The climate remains cold throughout the year.
Wildlife: Species which live in this biome are:

  • Polar bear, caribou, grey wolves and arctic foxes.
  • Insects such as blackflies, midges and mosquitoes.

3. Coniferous Forest:

The coniferous forest is found in the south of the Arctic tundra. It covers Alaska, Atlantic Ocean and Eurasia. Taiga present in the Northern Hemisphere is considered to be the largest stretch of coniferous forest in the world. Commercial softwood timber required for making paper is available here.

Natural Vegetation:

Cone bearing tress like spruce, fir and hemlock are mainly found in these forests. Soil is fertile.
Climate: The climate is cold.
Wildlife: Species present in these forests are:

  • Snowshoe rabbit, ermine and moose.
  • Birds such as crossbill and great horned owl.

4. Deciduous Forest:

Deciduous forest is found in the mild temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. It covers eastern North America, Europe, and eastern Asia.

Natural Vegetation:

Deciduous forests are abundant in trees such as oak, beech, maple and ash. Besides, wildflower and berries also grow there. Soil is rich in minerals.
Climate: This biome has four seasons, namely, spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Wildlife: Wildlife consists of the following species:

  • American gray squirrels, deer, raccoons and rabbits.
  • Birds such as woodpeckers, cardinals and finches.
  • Insects like wood mice and others.

5. Desert:

Desert covers about one fifth land surface of the earth. It is present in all the continents except Europe. Deserts are of two types.
Hot and Dry: Arabian and Sahara deserts.
Cold and Dry: Antarctica and Gobi desert.

Natural Vegetation:

Different types of cactus are mainly found in desert regions.
Climate: The climate of the desert region is either hot or cold.
Wildlife: The species found in deserts are:

  • Camel, frogs, toads, lizards and snakes are found in hot deserts.
  • Emperor and Adélie penguins are found in Antarctic desert.

6. Grasslands:

Grasslands are called by different names throughout the world such as prairies (USA); veld (South Africa); savannas (South America and Africa); steppes (Eurasia); pampas (South America)

Natural Vegetation:

This biome is consists of grassy fields.

Climate: The climate of grasslands is hot and dry.

Wildlife: The wildlife includes the following species:

  • Prairie dog and the mule deer in North America.
  • Giraffe and the zebra in Africa.
  • Lion in Africa and Asia.

7. Mountains:

Mountains are found in all continents. The two great belts on which several mountains of the world lie are :The Circum-Pacific chain or the Ring of Fire (stretches from the west coast of the Americas through New Zealand and Australia and Japan through the Philippines) and Alpine-Himalayan belt or Tethyan system ( runs from the Pyrenees in Spain and France through the Alps and the Himalayas before ending in Indonesia)

Natural Vegetation:

Growth of plants depends on geographical location and altitude. Trees do not grow at the higher elevations .The lower elevations are covered by forests.
Climate:The climate of regions is cold and windy.
Wildlife: Species found in this biome are ibex or wild goat, sheep, puma, mountain lion, mountain goat and yak.

Types of Forces

What is force?

Force is strength or energy applied towards any object for physical action or any movement. A force is a push or pull resulting due to the interaction between two objects. Force is external and results only when there is interaction between objects.

Different types of forces and their examples

Force can be classified into two broad categories

1. Contact forces

These are those types of forces when two objects interact with each other; they have a physical contact with each other. Types of contact forces are: Frictional force; Tension force; Normal Force; Air Resistance Force, Applied Force, Spring Force.

I. Frictional force

As an object moves across a surface it causes friction. Friction force can be sliding or static. Friction depends upon the nature of the two interacting surfaces. Example: A book sliding on the table, a ball rolling on the floor.

II. Tension force

A force that is transmitted through a string, rope, cable or wire when it is pulled tightly by the object on the opposite end is a tension force. This force flows across the length of the wire or rope. Example- A cable car or climbing a mountain using a rope.

III. Normal force

This is the force exerted upon an object that is in contact with another stable object. Usually a normal force is applied horizontally between two objects in contact. Example-A book resting on a table or a person leaning on the wall.

IV. Air Resistance force

This a frictional force applied on objects when they are in air. Often the Air Resistance force opposes the movement of the object. It is noticeable for objects that travel at high speed up in the air. Example- An airplane or a parachute.

V. Applied force

A force with which an object has been pushed or pulled. Here a force is applied to an object by a person or any other object. Example- A person pushing a chair to the other side of the room

VI. Spring force

It is the force which results when a spring is stretched or compressed. A spring is a metal elastic device that returns to its original form when pulled or pressed. If the spring is stretched, spring force is attractive. If it is compressed, spring force is repulsive. Example- Trampoline, diving board etc.

2. Action at a distance forces

These types of forces happen when two interactive objects are not in physical contact with each other; yet they are able to push or pull. Types of Action at a distance forces are: Gravitational force, Electrical force and Magnetic forces.

I. Gravitational force

This is the force by which the Earth or moon or other massively huge objects attract another object towards them. All objects on the Earth experience the gravitational force, which is directed downwards towards the center of the earth. The force of gravity is always equal to the weight of the object.

II. Electrical force

It is one of the fundamental forces of the Universe. It is a force that exists between all charged particles. It is all around us. It is responsible for making our hair stand on a cold day. When the hair on the head stands and refuses to be brushed, that is static energy. It is this force which allows you to see when you turn on the lamp in a dark room.

III. Magnetic force

This is a push or pull exerted by a magnet. The force of attraction between an object and a magnet is called magnetism. All magnets have north and south poles. This force is the attraction or repulsion that arises between electrically charged particles due to their motion. Example- Iron nails when placed near a magnet.

Newton’s Laws of Motion

Motion in Physics

Motion is one of the major topics in physics. It is a part of mechanics. Scientists have set different laws or rules which explain motion and the causes of changes in motion.

Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy

The most famous laws of motion were formulated by Sir Issac Newton. The three laws of motion were compiled by him in Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (published in 1687) His laws of motion are three physical laws which actually laid the foundation for classical mechanics. Scientists have used certain basic terms to describe motion.

Terms used to describe motion

Force: It is required to act on an object to move it or to change its motion.
Velocity: It is also known as speed .Velocity of an object is influenced by forces.
Acceleration: It is a measure of how much the velocity of an object changes in a certain time (one second).
Mass: It is the amount of something present and is measured in grams or kilograms.

What are the three laws of motion?

1. Newton’s first law of motion

Every object in a state of motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. This is also known as Law of inertia.

2. Newton’s second law of motion

The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors. In this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector. This law defines how velocities change when forces are applied.

3. Newton’s third law of motion

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This happens in a situation such as if we step off a boat onto the bank of a lake. As one move in the direction of the shore, the boat tends to move in the opposite direction. If not careful, the person may fall.

Laws of motion facts

The three laws of motion are verified over years by experiments and observations. They are found to be excellent approximations at the scales and speeds of everyday life. However, these are inappropriate for use at very small scales, very high speed and strong gravitational fields.

Mount Rushmore Facts and History

Why is the Mount Rushmore famous?

Mount Rushmore is also known as the President’s Mountain is a carved sculpture mountain. It is located in South Dakota on the Black hills of Keystone in the USA. It has the sculpture of four famous Presidents of the United States– George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Mount Rushmore is a National Memorial and is visited by 3 million people every year.

History of Mount Rushmore

It was the local historian, Doane Robinson who came up with the idea of carving a sculpture mountain to attract tourists to his small town in South Dakota. He contacted Gutzon Borglum, a famous Dutch American Sculpture artist. Robinson discussed his idea with Borglum who loved it and identified Mount Rushmore as the perfect location. The height of the cliff was perfect for the project and also the fact that it faced the rising sun, thus sunrise would first fall on the cliff every day.

The work on the project started on 4th October 1927 and the mountain sculpture was completed by 31st October 1941. It took fourteen long yeas and over 400 workers who climbed almost 500 stairs everyday for this gigantic task to finish with perfection.

The four presidents depicted on Mount Rushmore depict the first 130 years of American History. It celebrates the life and achievements of these four Presidents. They represent freedom and growth of United States.

4 Interesting facts about Mount Rushmore

  1. 90% of all heads on Mount Rushmore were carved with dynamite.
  2. Thomas Jefferson was originally on the right of George Washington but after 18 months they realised it wasn’t working, so they blew it up with dynamite and carved it on the other side.
  3. Borglum died before the work on Mount Rushmore could be complete. It was then completed by his son.
  4. Initially the four Presidents were to be carved from head to waist but due to lack of funding only the faces were carved.

The Secrets of Mount Rushmore

  • There is a 50 foot tunnel behind Mount Rushmore, a secret chamber which was earlier kept as the Hall of Records where copies of important documents were stored.
  • George Washington’s nose is longer than the other’s by a foot.
  • More like an Optical illusion but a fifth face can be seen on the left of Abraham Lincoln, believed to be of a Native American.

Types of Rocks

Every day, you get to see a lot of rocks around you – on the mountains, around the riverbeds, in the parks and even on the streets. Have you ever wondered what are these rocks made of? Rocks come in many different colours, shapes, and sizes and no two rocks are exactly alike.

How are rocks classified?

Geologists have classified rocks into three basic groups on the basis of their formation in nature. Igneous, Sedimentary and Metamorphic.

1. Igneous rocks

Igneous rocks are also known as ‘fire rocks’. Igneous rocks start their life in molten form much below the surface of the earth. Whenever there is a volcanic eruption, they are shot out of a volcano as lava, and are cooled back into rocks as they hit the ground.

Types of Igneous rocks

There are two types of igneous rocks found in nature,

  1. Intrusive igneous rocks that solidify beneath the earth’s surface.
  2. Extrusive igneous rocks that solidify on the surface of the earth.

2. Sedimentary rocks

Sedimentary rocks are formed when bits of rock and material such as shells and sand get packed together. Together, all these particles are known as sediments. Very slowly, over a period of time, these sediments harden and turn into a rock.

Nature – Sedimentary rocks are generally very fragile and may break apart or crumble easily. Most of the rocks that you see on the ground like sand, pebbles, or stones are sedimentary rocks. Some examples of sedimentary rocks are limestone, sandstone and shale.

3. Metamorphic rocks

Metamorphic rocks are made out of the first two types of rocks, deep within the earth’s crust. We call these metamorphic or ‘changed’ rocks. Sometimes sedimentary and igneous rocks are subjected to pressures and heat so intense that they are completely changed. They become metamorphic rocks!

Nature – Metamorphic rocks often have ribbon-like layers and may have shiny crystals. Examples of this rock type include marble and gneiss.

What is the rock cycle?

The process of the formation of all three types of rock is called the Rock cycle.

Most delicious cuisines in the world

11 Most tasty cuisines in the world

Food binds people across the world. People from different countries, religion, culture, background are all united by food – not only a need to survive but is looked at as art, culmination of senses and various flavours. Let us take a look at some of the best and the most delicious cuisines from across the globe:

1. Italian cuisine:

Who doesn’t love pasta, pizza or cheese? It is one of the oldest cuisines in the world and is famous for using various kinds of cheese. Italy alone produces some 400 different varieties of cheese!

2. Greek cuisine:

The cuisine takes inspiration from Turkish and Italian cuisine, but is unique in its own way. Greeks use olive oil and special herbs that set them apart from their inspirational cuisines. They use a wide variety of vegetables that makes this cuisine special.

3. Thai cuisine:

Flavoursome and spicy; Thai cuisine has become very popular lately. Hot, sour, bitter and sweet- Thai flavours hit the taste buds as soon as you put the sauces in your mouth. They use lots of fresh herbs, broth and make a lot of noodle dishes.

4. French cuisine:

This is considered to be one of the haute or high quality cuisines of the world. French cooking is of a very high level and most of the gourmet restaurants serve highly professional French food. No French meal is complete without bread, cheese and wine.

5. Japanese cuisine:

One of the most unique cuisines in the world, using only fresh ingredients prepared in a meticulous manner. It is known for its fresh quality. White rice and soya bean are used in abundance. They have much more than just sushi, tofu and noodles!

6. Lebanese cuisine:

This is a mix of Mediterranean and Arabic food. They are unique in the sense that this cuisine uses less of animal meat and more of vegetable dishes, fresh fruits, fresh fish and sea food. They have a huge selection of vegetable dips, salads, pickle and Arabic bread.

7. Indian cuisine:

This is the most vast, diverse and colourful cuisine, because each region in India has different flavours and variety to offer. Varity is offered in the North, South, East or West of the country and is a paradise for food lovers. The spices used in every region are different. The cuisine uses a lot of pulse and vegetables. Meat and sea food are also a major part in various districts. Indian cuisine is more than just curries and is not complete without a sweet.

8. Chinese cuisine:

One of the world’s favourite cuisines after Indian. It is loved for its simplicity, flavour and mouth-watering taste. Chinese include a lot of rice, noodles, vegetables, sauces and lots of seasonings. They eat a variety of meat and sea food. They also boast about their 8 culinary cuisines with different flavours and style.

9. Scottish cuisine:

The only food in the UK that has an identity is the Scottish cuisine. The Scottish make full use of their local produce, whether it is veggies or meat. Raspberries and sea food make most of the cuisine. Haggis, their national dish is a pudding made from sheep’s heart, liver and lungs!

10. Mexican cuisine:

The Mexicans are known for their lavish use of spices. The cuisine has been influenced by the Aztech, Mayan and the Spanish. Burritos, chimichangas, fajitas, tortillas along with plenty of eggs and vegetables, in chilli, chocolate, tomato and cumin flavours are the main Mexican flavouring.

11. Indonesian cuisine:

Regional food varies all over Indonesia as it is an island, but the cuisine is hot, spicy, flavoursome, fresh and extremely aromatic. Rice is the stable food and found with all curries. Peanut is used widely as a tropical fruit. The cuisine is influenced by the Spanish and Dutch, while the Sumatran side is influenced by the Indian cuisine.

Do you like cooking? if yes, please explore a huge collection of recipes for kids.

Facts about Africa

Where is Africa located?

The continent of Africa is the world’s second largest continent. Africa is located to the south of Europe and southwest of Asia and covers all four hemispheres.

What was the original name of Africa?

According to a popular belief, the name ‘Africa’ comes from the name of a local African tribe called ‘Afrigami’ that lived on the Northern side of the continent.
Africa has a wide variety of geographical features and climate. It has rainforests, grasslands, deserts and a few mountain ranges like the Atlas Mountains.

What is Africa famous for?

  1. Africa is the world’s second largest continent and covers almost one fifth of Earth’s total land area. It is home to more than a billion people and is thus, also the world’s second most populous continent.
  2. The first pre-human fossils were found in Africa.
  3. Famous scientist Charles Darwin suggested that the ancestors of human beings originated on the African continent.
  4. Africa is the hottest continent!
  5. Africa touches Asia at two places and Europe at one place.
  6. The highest point in this continent is Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and the lowest point is Lake Asal.
  7. There are 54 countries in the continent. Africa has the maximum number of countries among all other continents.
  8. More than 1,000 languages are spoken in Africa. Arabic is the most common language spoken in this continent.
  9. Sudan is the largest country in Africa.
  10. Seychelles is the smallest country in the continent.
  11. Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa.
  12. Lake Victoria is the largest lake in the African continent.
  13. The continent of Africa has the world’s longest river, Nile and the world’s largest desert, Sahara.
  14. Victoria Falls holds the repute of being the largest waterfall in the African continent.
  15. Most of the people follow Islam religion in Africa.
  16. African continent is very rich in wild life including penguins, lions, seals, gorillas, giraffe, hippos and crocodiles. African elephant, the world’s largest land animal that weighs more than 6 tons, is also found in Africa. World’s tallest animal—giraffe and world’s fastest animal— cheetah, are both found here.
  17. Africa is an underdeveloped continent and also known as the poorest of all of the continents.

Types of Fruits

What are fruits?

The seed bearing structure in flowering plants or angiosperms formed from the ovary after flowering is called a fruit. They are fleshy structures associated with seeds. Fruits can be sweet or sour to taste. They are edible in raw state. There are different types of fruits such as apple, banana, guava, mango, grapes and others. Some fruits are available throughout the year (Example: Banana) and others are found in respective seasons (Example: Mango is available during summer). However, it must be noted, that in botany the term fruit includes several structures which are not commonly known as fruits. Some of them are tomatoes, wheat grains, corn kernels and bean pods. The section of a fungus which produces spores is also known as a fruiting body.

Difference between botanical and culinary fruits

In botany, any ripened ovary or carpel which contains seeds is called fruit. Here, nut is considered as a type of fruit. It is not a seed. Ripened ovule is a seed. Whereas, in culinary terminology, any sweet tasting plant part is said to be a fruit.

Classification of fruits

Fruits can be classified as simple, multiple, and accessory.

What is a simple fruit?

Simple fruits can be dry or fleshy in nature. They are produced from the ripening of a simple or compound ovary in a flower containing one pistil. There are two kinds of dry fruits. They are dehiscent and indehiscent. The difference between these fruits is that, the former open to discharge seeds and the latter do not. Epigynous berries, cranberries and blueberries are few examples of simple fruits.

What is a multiple fruit?

Multiple fruits are formed from clusters of flowers known as inflorescences. Few examples of multiple fruits are osage-orange, pineapple, mulberry, fig, and breadfruit.

What is a accessory fruit?

Accessory fruits could be simple, aggregate, or multiple in nature. They may include more than one pistil and other parts from the same flower, or of many flowers.

Related Article:

Do you know the difference between fruits and vegetables?

Hagia Sophia – Istanbul, Turkey

The Hagia Sophia is a domed monument which was built as a cathedral in Constantinople but later transformed into a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

History of Hagia Sophia

It was built in the 6th century A.D. Hagia Sophia means the Church of Holy wisdom. It was built by the Byzantine emperor Justinian the 1st and has been one of the world’s most important structures since. It was built in a short span of just 6 years, very quick for construction during that period of time. Today the Hagia Sophia is a component of the Unesco’s World Heritage site, historic areas of Istanbul.

Hagia Sophia Architecture

The Hagia Sophia contains two floors, and sits on a nave that has a huge dome shaped ceiling on top and is supported by smaller domes above. The structure is known for its strength as it is not built in steel and the design speaks of its uniqueness. In the 1400 years of Hagia Sophia, this structure has served as a cathedral, a mosque and is now a well known museum.

The original construction of Hagia Sophia was inspired by a Pagan temple. But it got destroyed in a fire created by riots. Later it was rebuilt and enlarged by the Roman emperor. This church was burnt again during the Nika insurrection, another riot. A new Hagia Sophia was built, although an earthquake had caused partial damage to the dome. It was restored again in the 14th century and served as a cathedral for more than a millennium. It was later looted by the Venetians and crusaders. After the Turkish conquest, Mehmed II had the Hagia Sophia turn into a mosque. He added the minarat (A slender tower, typically part of a mosque) for prayers, a chandelier, and a mihrab (A niche in the wall of a mosque towards which the congregation faces to pray).

3 Interesting Facts About Hagia Sophia

  1. Hagia Sophia is not only famous for its history but also its beautiful mosaics which art historians consider as the main source of knowledge.
  2. The mosaics contain images of the imperial family, Christ and different emperors. The Apse mosaic, one of the largest inside the Hagia Sophia contains the image of the Virgin Mary carrying baby Jesus. This mosaic is 13 feet tall. Each emperor that ruled the region over the years added one of his own mosaic to the Hagia Sophia.
  3. The building was secularised by the Government of Turkey in 1934 and in 1935 the Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum. Research, repair and restoration work continues till day at the Hagia Sophia.

Facts about Owls

15 Fun facts about Owls

  1. The wide eyed, round faced raptors- Owls are mysterious creatures. Famous for being night birds, owls are one of the most interesting living creatures.
  2. There are as many as 200 species of owls around the world! Most of them are found in Asia while 19 are found in the US and Canada.
  3. Many owls have asymmetrical ears. Their ears are located at different heights on their heads, so it makes it easier for them to comprehend the location of multiple sounds.
  4. Owls are found in different kinds of habitat, except in Antarctica. They are mostly found in forested regions.
  5. Have you noticed how wide an owl’s eyes are? Owls actually don’t have eyeballs. Their eyes are long and shaped more like a tube, which restricts them from moving them in their sockets. Owls have binocular vision to help them focus on their prey, perceive the depth and then swoop on it. Their close vision is not as clear which makes them farsighted.
  6. Owls can rotate their necks at 270 degrees, 135 degrees on either side.
  7. An owl has 3 eyelids- one for blinking, one for sleeping and one for keeping its eyes clean.
  8. Owls are carnivores. They eat rodents, small and medium sized mammals, insects, fish, and other birds. Sometimes they even eat smaller owls!
  9. Owls have zygodactyls feet, this means two toes point front and two point backwards. All toes have sharp, hooked claws known as talons. These give them easy grip and a powerful grasp.
  10. Female owls are larger, heavier and more aggressive than the males. They are also more richly coloured and have a higher voice.
  11. Not all species of owls are nocturnal. Many times you might just spot an owl in the day peeping out from its home on the tree. When there is a shortage of food, owls may hunt at anytime during the day.
  12. The Elf Owl which is only 5-6 inch tall is the tiniest owl in the world. The Great Gray Owl which is 32 inch tall is the largest of all owls.
  13. The colour of an owl’s feather helps him camouflage or mix with the environment.
  14. Owls have broad wings and very light bodies which makes them silent fliers.
  15. All species of Owls do not hoot. They make other sounds like screeching, whistling, growling, rattling, even barking and hissing.

Learn how to draw a owl with the help of this step-by-step drawing video guide, here: https://mocomi.com/how-to-draw-an-owl/

Jaguar Facts and Information

The word ‘Jaguar’ originated probably from the Amazonian trade language ‘Tupinambá’. The scientific name of Jaguar is ‘Panthera onca’. It is considered as the third largest feline (after tiger and lion) in the world and the largest in America. It is found in southwestern part of U.S, Mexico, south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Jaguars are descendants of Old World cats. It is believed that jaguar and spotted leopard (its closest relative) had common ancestor in Asia. The forerunners of modern jaguars crossed Beringia in early Pleistocene era and gradually moved to America. It is the largest cat in the new world.

Characteristics of Jaguar

Jaguar is a compact and well muscled animal. It varies in size and weight. The base coat of the animal is usually tawny yellow. However, colours such as reddish – brown and black are also found. The ventral areas are white in colour. It has rosettes which may include one or several dots of varying shapes. Jaguar possesses solid spots on head, neck and tail.

What does the Jaguar eat?

Jaguar is the largest carnivorous mammal found in Central and South America. Its regular diet includes adult caimans, capybaras, deer, tapirs, peccaries, zorros, dogs and anacondas. Among small species, it eats mice, frogs, birds, sloths, turtles, fish and monkeys. It also consumes roots of Banisteriopsis caapi. Jaguar takes larger prey, generally over 22kg (49lb).

Jaguar – The apex predator

An adult jaguar is known to be the apex predator. It lies at the top of food chain and is not preyed on in forest. It is also called keystone species as it maintains the structural integrity of forest system. However, all scientists have not accepted the keystone species hypothesis.

Difference between Jaguar and Leopard

Jaguar is sturdier and heavier. The animal possesses few but large and dark rosettes with thick lines and small spots in the middle. These are absent in leopard. Besides, jaguar’s head is round in shape and it has short and stockier limbs.

Why are Jaguars endangered?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has declared Jaguar as an endangered species. According to a study done by the Wildlife Conservation Society, jaguar has lost thirty seven percent of its historic range. Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, the world’s first wilderness reserve to protect and study Jaguars was established at Belize in the year 1990.

4 Interesting facts about Jaguars

  1. Jaguar is the national animal of Guyana.
  2. They sleep on tree branches.
  3. Jaguars are good swimmers.
  4. They can see well in dark.

Sahara desert facts and information

Where is the Sahara desert located?

Sahara is an Arabic word for desert. The Sahara Desert is the most expansive, hot and largest desert on Earth. It is located in Northern Africa nestled between the Mediterranean Sea in the North, the Atlantic Ocean in the West and the Red Sea in the East. To the South of Sahara is the Sahel region, in between the desert and the African Savanna. The Sahara covers a large section of eleven different countries that include Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mali, Niger, Mauritania, Chad and Sudan. The Sahara desert is more than 16 times of France!

Climate in the Sahara desert

The climate of the Sahara is consistently hot. The average temperature is 38 to 46 degree Celsius. It is hot, dry and windy throughput the year. However, nights can be cold, even freezing. The Sahara hardly experiences any rains. Regions in Sahara can have almost no drops of water. Thus, it makes it difficult for life forms to exist.

Landscapes of the Sahara desert

The Sahara’s landscape not only includes sand dunes but also mountains, plateaus, extinct volcanoes and oasis depressions. The dunes take varied forms and can be star, crescent or dome shaped. There is sparse grassland in some parts of the desert. Most of the streams and rivers in Sahara are seasonal. The Nile River however is an exception, and crosses the Sahara, then empties into the Mediterranean Sea.

What kind of animals live in the Sahara desert?

The Sahara is home to animal species that can sustain extremely warm conditions. While the most common desert animal, the camel is domesticated in Sahara, other mammals and reptiles found are: spotted hyena, jackal, Barbary sheep, oryx, ostrich, raptor, cobra, chameleon, various lizards, scorpions, numerous ants and beetles.

What plants grow in the Sahara desert?

Plants are also sparse due to lack of water but do grow near oasis and reservoirs. Date palms, tamarisks, acacia whose roots can grow deep down into the earth for water can sustain such a hot climate. Cactus is a common desert plant, though most regions in the Sahara go barren.

3 Interesting facts about Sahara desert

  1. Though the Sahara is spread across 11 countries, it is home to only 2 million people.
  2. Almost 4000 years ago Sahara used to be a fertile land growing millets and grains in many parts. But, due to the change in the tilt of the Earth’s orbit, it began to dry up and became a desert.
  3. Only 30% of the desert is sand and 70% is gravel.

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Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi : The historical city of Karnataka

The magnificent ruins that you see behind me are that of the village and temple town Hampi in Karnataka, India. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and has been on travellers’ bucket lists for many years.

History of Hampi

Hampi got its name from the Tungabhadra River, on the banks of which lay the Vijaynagar Empire. Hampi was the capital of this wealthy and grand Empire. Hampi was ruled by four dynasties from 1336 to 1565. These were Sangama, Saluva,Tuluva and Aravidu. The rulers of these dynasties built more than 500 monuments which are present even today. Hampi was a trade center as it was the capital. Trade for cotton, spices, horses and gem stones were at its peak. Rubies and diamonds were sold on the streets whereas gold and silver coins were used for trading. The architecture and grandeur of Hampi was admired by travellers like the Arabs, Portugese and Italians. It was a rich town until in 1565 when Hampi was looted by armies of Muslim rulers as the city was in constant conflict with them.

6 Facts about Hampi

  1. The village of Hampi is like an open museum adorned with beautiful architecture, most of which are religious buildings apart from Civil and Military ones.
  2. The Virupaksha temple is the most prominent and visited building in Hampi. It is believed that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati in this very temple.
  3. The Lotus Palace, Hazara Rama Temple and the Lakshmi Narasimha Temple still have beautiful Vijaynagar architectural designs and are worth a visit.
  4. Hampi is also famous for conducting the festival of Purandaradasa Aradhna, celebrated to honour the poet Purandaradasa.
  5. People also flock to the banks of the Tungabhadra River which is very famous with travel photographers as well.
  6. There is also a long line of Elephant stables, each having different tombs. It is where the Royal elephants of Vijaynagar would rest.

I am having a great time here, as I feel I am a part of this grand empire.

Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Hello friends! The picturesque castle you see behind me is the Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland, one of the most photographed castles in the country!

History behind the island of Donan

Eilean Donan means ‘the island of Donan’. The small island and castle of Donan is named after a 7th century Irish priest, Donan of Eigg, who was killed on the nearby island of Eigg. Donan, the priest, had travelled to the West coast of Scotland to try and convert the pagan inhabitants into Christianity. Though there is no evidence as to how Donan was killed, he is traditionally said to be buried in Kildonan on Arran. The island was fortified before written records existed. It was Alexander III who gave the castle to the Mackenzies. The struggle for controlling the island and the castle went on between the Mackenzies and the Earl of Ross for decades but in the end the Mackenzies gained control over it all. It was after 200 years that John Macrae-Gilstrap (descendent to the Macraes who acted as constables to the Mackenzie) restored the castle and rebuilt the beautiful bridge that linked the castle to the shore.

Inside Eilean Donan Castle and visitor centre

There is a huge parking area and a modern visitor centre on the shore as this castle is a famous tourist attraction. Inside the rooms of the castle one can find period furniture, Jacobean artefacts, displays of weapons and fine arts. There are informed guides who can give you a thorough tour of the castle.
The castle also has fun filled attractions for children. You can swing a Claymore, spy through the spy holes, lift cannon balls, explore the ancient battlements or have fun with the surrounding wildlife with regular viewings of porpoise, dolphins, otters and numerous species of birds.

Matamata Town, New Zealand

Matamata: The Real Hobbit Village

Hi children! I am at the beautiful Matamata town in New Zealand today. It is known for its industries, dairy farming heritage, historic firth tower museum and the real life Hobbit movie set!

History of Matamata

Matamata is a small agricultural town located at the base of the Kaimai ranges, in the heart of Waikato region and is a part of the Matamata Piako district. Phiilip Tapsell was the first European to have visited this town in 1830. The town was shut around 1835 when an intertribal warfare broke out. In 1865 Josia Firth leased a large area of the town and constructed a dray road to Cambridge and cleared the Waihou River so that his small boats could pass. His estates later failed and were divided into dairy farm units. It became an independent town district only in 1919. In 1989, Matamata became a part of the Matamata- Piako district.

5 Things you need to know about Matamata

Some of the must visit attractions in this beautiful town are as follows:

  1. The Hobbiton Movie Set- This is the Matamata’s main attraction from the film industry after the Alexander Brother’s farm became the Shire in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  2. The Alexander’s have made their region into a traditional New Zealand sheep and beef farm. This is the permanent set in the Hobbit movie trilogy.
  3. Firth Tower Museum- This gives an insight into the town’s history and is worth visiting with its beautiful parks and surrounding.
  4. Wairere falls- Set amidst the natural scenery this hidden gem is 153 meter high and is a perfect place for clicking lovely pictures!
  5. Opal hot springs- This is right next to the town’s golf course and one can soak a swim in the naturally hot waters.

The town has a number of places to stay and also offers a variety of food and dining options.

Ever wondered what does “Hobbit” mean?

Why is an idea mostly associated with a light bulb?

Why does a light bulb represent an idea?

  • When active, Our brain produces electrical currents due to nearly 100,000 chemical reactions occurring in it per second.
  • These chemical reactions are carried out in our brain by tiny cells called neurons.
  • Neurons process and transmit information through electrical and chemical signals that they pass on to each other.
  • They pass this information at the speed of 420 km/hr.
  • Which is faster than the speed of a race car!
  • After processing this information, when we arrive at an insight, our brain literally lights up!
  • That is why an “idea” is usually associated with a light bulb.
  • The moment when we get an idea, is also referred to as an ‘Aha’, ‘Eureka’ or ‘light bulb’ moment.

More Information –
Click here to know how a light bulb works.

Forbidden City, Beijing

Hello Children, today I am at Beijing and this large arcade of red walls and yellow glazed roof tiles you see behind me is the Forbidden City.

History of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 under the orders of the powerful Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It was built to protect the Emperor and his family. It is a micro city in its own. For 500 years this Forbidden City was the political and ritual center of china. It was home to 24 emperors, their families and servants. The city had been home to 24 Chinese Emperors. In 1925 the precinct was transformed into the Palace Museum and the last emperor, Puyi was expelled. It still remains a cultural heritage site and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in China.

Features of the Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 26 feet high wall and 170 feet wide moat. It is composed of more than 90 palace compounds and 98 buildings all aligned in a straight line from north to south. Each corner of the palace has a tall guard tower where soldiers were kept to keep a watch for enemies. The main gate of the city is the Meridian gate to the south. Each side of the city has one gate. The southern part of the palace is known as the outer court where the emperor used to conduct official ceremonies. Towards the north is the inner court where the emperor and his family lived. The emperor slept in a building called Palace of Heavenly Purity and the empress lived in a building called the Palace of Earthly Tranquillity.

3 Interesting facts about Forbidden City

  1. The Forbidden City is home to curated collection of Chinese historical artefacts. I saw an array of ancient treasures, porcelain and jade, gardens and plazas.
  2. The imperial dishes were created by the chefs at the Forbidden City. You can too enjoy and dine like an imperial ruler. Many restaurants located near the Forbidden City offer you great cuisine.
  3. You can visit the Forbidden City without a Visa and that too for 3 days! Beijing became 72 hours Visa free in 2013.

Related Articles

Holi – Festival of Colors

What is Holi Festival?

Holi, is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. It is a festival celebrated with colour, water and the exchange of sweets and is primarily observed in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and countries with a large Indian population following Hinduism.

Why do we celebrate Holi?

Holi originally, was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. In addition to celebrating the coming of spring, Hindus believed that it was a time to enjoy spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter.

Holi also celebrates many religious myths and legends. On the eve of the festival, bonfires are lit in memory of a young Prahlad’s miraculous escape from the Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu in Hindu mythology. The name Holi is derived from the demoness Holika.

Even though there have been references to a festival such as this in Sanskrit texts where people sprayed coloured water using bamboo syringes, the origin of the modern Holi festival has been traced back to ancient Bengal. During the Gaudiya Vaishnav festival, people went to Krishna temples, applied red colour to the icon and then distributed the red coloured powder along with prasad to family and friends. These customs spread across the country and now…

History of Holi

Even though Holi originated in Bengal, the festival is most celebrated in the Braj region – locations connected to Lord Krishna such as Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon and Barsana. These places see a huge surge in tourism during the Holi festival.

Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the lunar month, which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

Holi celebration in India

In most parts of India, Holi lasts about two days. One of festivals biggest attributes is that it closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus and people belonging to other religions together.

Holi today is celebrated with much fervour across the country. This festival is not just restricted to the younger ones, and you will see people of all ages, young and old participate. Just like the old times, people go visiting their friends and family and play with them. There are private parties too that are organised for the public by certain groups where a place is taken on rent, and people can come and play holi there with their friends. The organisers ensure that there is enough water, colour and sweets available. The music played at these parties get the crowds going as well.

Project –

  • What is Holi locally known as in Bihar?
  • Holi has been depicted in which famous international song. Hint : It’s by Linkin Park
  • Make your own natural Holi colours by mixing some turmeric powder and gram flour and use it to play this Holi season. Be rest assured that this colour is safe and also extremely good for the skin.

Don’t forget to check out the Story of Holi and our other Holi articles and activities.

Potala Palace Lhasa, Tibet – Facts

Legend behind Potala Palace

Legend states that the three hills of Chokpori, Marpori and Pongwari are the three protectors of Tibet. The Potala Palace, named so after the mythical abode of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, Mount Potalaka, is located on the Marpori hill. It lies between the Drepung and Sera monastaries and the old city of Lhasa, making it an ideal site for governing establishment, as pointed out by Konchong Chophel, spiritual advisor to the 5th Dalai Lama. The 5th agreed, and began construction of the palace in the year 1645. Though the external construction was completed in a quick 3 years, the interiors and furnishings took around 45 years to be completed! Since its completion, it was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama till the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the Tibetan Uprising in 1959.

Interesting facts about Potala Palace Architecture

The palace is a sturdy complex, comprising of the Red and White palaces and their ancillary buildings. The White palace is a massive 13 story building with over 1000 rooms and 10000 shrines. There are more than 200000 statues and artifacts in and around the palace. Especially noteworthy are the 698 murals on the walls and along the corridors. It also houses the main ceremonial hall and the throne of the Dalai Lama. Higher up the mountain and to the west lies the Red Palace, which contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang. This 117 m structure has copper based foundations, which help proof it against earthquakes. So spectacular is its architecture that it is regarded as one of the most beautiful architectural buildings in the world. Another feather in the cap for the palace is that not only is it a splendid feat of architecture, but also a place where you can see and learn about Tibetan culture thanks to the numerous artifacts that it houses.

Tour to Potala Palace

The tour to the palace is splendid, and I recommend you carry a coat with you, even if you visit in summer. The climb to the palace is a beautiful experience in itself, and because there’s so much to see (almost 30 sites!), the limited 1 hour viewing period flies by like a flash! Pro tip – Research beforehand to mark what you absolutely must see. My recommendation is that you do not miss the Dharma Cave.

Inside a Cricket Ball

What is a cricket ball made of?

A cricket ball is made up of layers of yarn wounded around a cork core. All this is inside a red or white colour leather shell. Cricket balls are entirely made up of organic material.

What makes the cricket ball swing?

Six rows of stitching and a raised seam gives the cricket balls unique qualities which make them spin, cut and swing.

The cork core gives the ball its shape and density. This core is then wounded with twine layers which gives flexibility to the leather surface. The leather surface provides durability but changes during the course of the game due to usage. The seam is hand stitched on the leather parts from both hemispheres. The seam on the leather surface provides the bowler with some control over the ball, helping with the swing and spin. The final ball is sprayed with nitrocellulose lacquer giving it the required colour of red or white.

Conditions of a ball

The condition of the ball is very important during the game. There are certain ways to clean the ball, polish or dry off the mud from the ball. The condition of the ball deteriorates during the course of the game. Only one ball can be used during the game. If the ball is damaged or lost then it can be replaced by a ball of the same condition.

Related Article

Anaconda – The World’s Largest Snakes

There are many reptiles on this earth. Of all the reptiles the most commonly found ones, in all shapes and size, are Snakes. Amongst them, there is one snake which is the largest in the world- the Anaconda. The name Anaconda is used to name a group of snakes, but usually it refers to only one species of Anaconda; i.e.; the common Green Anaconda or Eunectes murinus, its scientific name.

Where do Anacondas Live?

They are the largest and heaviest snakes on earth. They are usually found in damn places, commonly seen in the tropical rain forests, lakes and swamps of South America. They are found in large numbers in near the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.

Types of Anacondas

There are 4 types of Anacondas but they are difficult to find because they hide in the water. The Green Anaconda is the largest specie. The Yellow Anaconda is a small specie, found in southern Brazil, Paraguay and northeastern Argentina. Then there is the darkly spotted anaconda which is a very rare species. The Bolivian Anaconda is the most recently found species.

Special Features of Anaconda

  • Family : Anacondas belong to the Boa Constrictor family. Anacondas like to live alone. When in danger they escape beneath water- this is their defense mechanism.
  • Length and weight : Considering both- the length and weight these snakes can reach up to a length of 30 feet. They can weigh up to 227 kilograms, almost the weight of 11 children together.
  • Color and what they eat : Anacondas are usually green in color; they have white marks on their sides and two rows of black spots on their backs. They eat animals like frogs, toads, fish, birds, ducks, wild pigs, small crocodiles and turtles.
  • Face features : Anacondas have their eyes and nostrils on top of their heads. So it helps them to look out for their prey while their entire body is underneath the water. Anacondas give birth to 24-35 young ones at a time.

5 Amazing Anaconda Facts

  1. Hunting for anaconda is both- legal and illegal. They are hunted for their skin which is an illegal pet trade.
  2. Most snakes are killed because people are afraid of them or dislike them.
  3. Anacondas are difficult for scientists to study and find because they are extremely quiet snakes and leave no trails. Also because they spend most of their time under water.
  4. When anacondas get small meals they can eat up to 40 pounds of food every day.
  5. Anaconda spends most of its time underwater than on the ground, so that it is easier for it to move around, as its huge size seems less bulky under water.

Chinese New Year Facts and History

This year, Chinese New Year is falling on February 16, 2018. This day is important in Chinese culture. The holidays run for 15 days, starting from the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon. The Lantern Festival happens then, with lantern displays and a parade at night. Chinese New Year tradition- In many places, there is a dragon dance too on this day.

Facts about Chinese New Year

In Chinese New Year, the date of the new year changes every year, because the Chinese base their calendar on lunar years. The date depends on the day when a new moon rises.
The Chinese New Year calendar has a 12 years cycle. Each year is based on the name of an animal. 2018 will be the Chinese Year of the dog.

Story behind Chinese New Year

A long time ago in China, Buddha wanted a way to measure time. So he invited all the animals to race against each other in crossing a river. 12 animals could do this successfully and the Emperor rewarded these 12 animals by naming a year after each one of them, in the order in which they had crossed the river. So, Chinese New Year starts with the year of the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Chinese Zodiac Animal Years

Depending on the year that you are born in, you are supposed to have qualities of the animal representing that year. Discover your animal sign with the help of your birth year

Birth YearAnimal SignQuality Traits
1996, 2008RatImaginative, generous, observant, intelligent, secretive
1997, 2009OxLeaders, confident, disciplined, strong, impatient
1998,2010TigerSensitive, emotional, competitive, natural leaders, courageous
1999,2011RabbitWise, thoughtful, affectionate, selfish, quiet, intelligent
2000,2012DragonEnthusiastic, perfectionist, intelligent, self-confident, proud
2001,2013SnakePossessive, proud, thinker, secretive, wise
2002,2014HorseWitty, friendly, cheerful, popular, impatient, alert
2003,2015SheepIntelligent, well-mannered, creative, dependent, shy
2004,2016MonkeyIntelligent, witty, social, talkative, restless, mischievous
2005,2017RoosterHard working, courageous, dreamers, practical, bossy
2006,2018DogHonest, reliable, logical, anxious, introverts
2007,2019PigSincere, friendly, intellectual, honest, lazy, innocent

More Information:
What do you know about the Dragon Boat Festival?
To know more interesting festivals facts, click here

Chinese Dragon Art

Looking for craft ideas for kids? What about dragon art? Make a Chinese dragon for Chinese New Year!

Dragon Art for Kids

What You Need

  • 2.5 feet of colored paper(red and yellow), an inch wide
  • Card paper- orange and green
  • More colored paper- red, orange, white and yellow
  • Sequins
  • Pencil
  • Glue
  • Scissors

How to make a Chinese Dragon

  • First, take a 3 inch X 3 inch piece of red paper. Cut out the dragon’s head from this paper.
  • Next, make the dragon’s beard. Take a 3 inch X 1 inch green paper. Cut vertical lines in it. Stick it to the back of the red paper.
  • Make the eyes and teeth from white paper.
  • Use the orange paper to make more shapes and stick them on the sides.
  • Stick the sequins in the eyes and as nostrils.
  • For the body, take the two long strips of red and yellow paper and stick them at a 90 degree angle.
  • Fold the bottom strip over the top one. Next, fold the top strip over the bottom one. Keep doing this until you run out of paper. Stick the ends together properly.
  • Stick the head to the body.
  • It’s time to make the tail! Cut thin strips of red and yellow paper. Curl them with your finger. Stick them to the dragon’s end.
  • Have fun making your dragon move! Tells us how you enjoyed making these paper crafts in the comments. We’ll be back with more art projects for kids. Write to us if you have any art and craft ideas you want us to put up.

For more similar craft ideas for kids go to Craft Ideas for Kids.

Supreme Court of India

I’m in New Delhi, India, and behind me is the building of the Supreme Court, the highest judicial forum of the Republic of India!

When was the Supreme Court of India established?

The Supreme Court of India was established in January 1950, is the final court of appeal for the Republic of India, the highest constitutional court and the highest judicial forum. It primarily takes up appeals and cases against the verdicts of the various state high courts and other courts and tribunals. Its motto is “ Yato dharmas tatojayah”, a Sanskrit phrase which means “whence justice, thence victory”.

History of the Supreme Court of India

The main building of the Supreme Court of India is an impressive structure designed in an Indo – British style by architect Ganesh Bhikaji Deolalikar, who was the first Indian to head the Central Public Works Department. The building design symbolizes the scales of justice with two court halls on each side and the center-beam being the Central Wing of the building comprising the Chief Justice’s court, the largest of the courtrooms.  The building houses a total of 15 court rooms in its various wings. The Right Wing of the structure has the bar – room, the offices of the Attorney General of India and other law officers as well as the vast library of the court. The Left Wing has the offices of the court.

Another unique monument in this building is the bronze sculpture of Mother India with the young Republic of India. The symbolic statue was designed by the renowned artist Chintamoni Kar.

Justice in India

The supreme court of India has played a pivotal role in upholding justice in India, and for its purposes, engages the services of a Chief Justice and 30 judges. These judges are appointed after a careful and meticulous screening process that includes, among other factors, meeting certain eligibility criteria such as –

Qualifications for the judge of the Supreme Court

  1. They must be a citizen of India.
  2. They must be a judge of one high court or more (continuously), for at least five years.
  3. An advocate there, for at least ten years.
  4. A distinguished jurist in the opinion of the President.

Only a person who meets the above criteria earns the honor and responsibility of becoming a Supreme Court Judge and serve the country till their tenure ends at the age of 65.

The Supreme Court Museum

I’ve learned a lot about the Indian Judicial system in my visit here, especially from the Supreme Court Museum, a small, but very informative building in the Supreme Court premises. A must visit for anybody who is interested in learning about the history and development of the Indian Judicial system.

Happy Republic Day flag – Colouring Page

Learn how to draw with our Drawing for kids lessons.

Happy Republic Day Flag – Free printable online colouring page for kids. Colour online Happy Republic Day Flag using our colouring palette and download your coloured page by clicking save image.

How to colour this colouring page?

Have fun colouring our colouring pages, by following some simple instructions:

  • Go through our collection and choose an image you want to colour.
  • You can click on the “felpen” or “crayon” and use it to colour the image.
  • Click on any of the “size” and choose how big you want your stroke to be.
  • Click on the range of colours on the bottom left and go nuts!!
  • In case you don’t like what you did, you can always click the “eraser” and erase away all the strokes you don’t want. How cool is that?!?
  • Once you are done with your masterpiece, don’t forget to “Save Image” and show it off to all your friends!
  • Click on “Download Activity”, in case you want to take a print out of the activity itself.

Related links

  • To test your knowledge on the Indian flag click HERE

Republic Day of India

When did India become a Republic?

Republic Day in India is celebrated on January 26 to commemorate the day on which the Constitution of India came into effect. The Indian Constitution was put into effect in the year 1950 in place of the Government of India Act. Even though India obtained independence from British rule in 1947, it took a special Drafting Committee headed by Babasaheb Ambedkar, 166 sessions over the next 3 years to finalise the document and put it into effect.

The newly established Indian nation chose to adopt the constitution on January 26 because it is a symbol for the Indian Freedom Struggle. In 1930, well before Indian independence the Indian National Congress led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru declared Purna Swaraj or complete independence. He did this by hoisting the Indian flag on the banks of the Ravi river (now in Pakistan).

Why did they choose 26th January?

The date of 26th January was important to the Indian struggle for independence. In 1930, the Indian National Congress had declared ‘Purna Swaraj’ or complete independence on this day, by hoisting the Indian flag on the banks of the Ravi river.

Republic Day Celebrations in India

In Delhi, the seat of the Indian government, there is a grand parade to mark the importance of Republic Day. Before the parade begins the Prime Minister places a wreath at a memorial called Amar Jawan Jyoti, dedicated to the unknown soldiers that died fighting for India’s freedom. This act is followed by 2 minutes of silence in honour of these unnamed soldiers.

The Prime Minister then takes his place in the president’s box along with other Indian officials and foreign dignitaries to witness the parade. The ceremonies begin with a 21 gun salute once the flag is hoisted accompanied by the Indian National Anthem.

The Indian National Anthem

The Indian National Anthem was written in a highly Sanskritized form of Bengali called Tatsama. It is taken from the Brahmo hymn composed by Guru Rabindranath Tagore and was first sung as in a session by the Indian National Congress in Calcutta in 1911. Jana Gana Mana was only officially adopted as the national anthem years later in 1950.

Click here to listen to it!

After the national anthem is played the President gives awards for bravery and varied acts of valour to men and women in the armed forces. This is finally followed by a parade of regiments from the armed forces and floats representing the various cultures of India. The parade ends with a fly-past by Indian Air Force jets.

Ceremonies are also held in all the state capitals and flag-hoisting ceremonies are organised by all schools that are compulsory for all children to attend.

Beating of the Retreat

The words beating and retreat in the same sentence sounds very un-republic day-like but actually has nothing to do with beating or retreating. The beating of the retreat which takes place on the 29th of January at Raisina Hill and the adjacent Vijay Chork in New Delhi marks the end of the Republic day celebrations. The chief guest to the event is always the President of India who arrives with a cavalry unit. The ceremony and fanfare involves dispalys by the bands of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. There is also a drummer’s solo, followed by a solemn ceremony where the Indian national flag is taken down to the hymn Abide With Me. The procession ends with a bugle call to retreat where all other flags are taken down and the bands march out to the tune of Sare Jahan Se Achcha.

The Indian Flag

Before the British Raj, India was ruled by different princely states which all had their own symbols to represent the kingdom. However after the rebellion of 1857, which resulted in the establishment of direct imperial rule in the colony of India, the first flag reflected the fact that India was very much under British rule. It was a regular Union Jack defaced in the center with the Star of India with the image of the Tudor crown above it.

There were many variations of a flag that represented the Indian people put forth by various factions of the Indian freedom struggle. By the time of the Non-cooperation movement of the early 1920’s a full-fledged campaign had taken shape surrounding the right of Indians to hoist their own flag thereby challenging British rule and the laws that prohibited flying nationalist flags. This was a tricolour with the charkha or spinning wheel at its center.

The rendering of the Indian flag as we see it today was a modified version of the the earlier tricolour. The charkha in the center was replaced with the Chakra to borrow from the idea of law and dharma that it represents on the Lion capital of Ashoka. The chakra has 24 spokes to represent the 24 hours of progress within the day; the saffron colour represents courage and sacrifice; white – truth and purity; green – peace and prosperity.

There are rules that govern how and for what an Indian flag can be used for. Here are some of them:

  • There is currently only one licensed flag production and supply unit in India that follow the strict guidelines of producing an Indian flag. An Indian flag must be made of khadi cloth of silk or cotton and each roll of cloth that eventually turns into a flag is sent to a lab to be tested for quality.
  • The flag must never touch the ground or water, or be used as a drapery in any form.
  • The flag may not be placed intentionally upside down, dipped in anything or hold any objects other than flower petals before unfurling. When the flag is flown horizontally it must also be flipped 90 degrees so that it reads left to right, like a book.
  • The original flag code restricted private citizens to flying the flag only on national holidays such as Republic day and Independence day. In 2001 Naveen Jindal flew an Indian flag outside his office building, which was promptly foniscated and he was warned of prosecution. Mr. Jindal filed suit in the High Court of Delhi seeking to strike down the restriction on the use of the flag by private citizens, arguing that it was his right as a citizen of India to hoist his national colours.
  • No complete representation of the flag can appear below the waist on clothing, or on undergarments.
  • Damaged flags must be disposed of in private by burning or any other method consistent with the dignity of the flag.

Project

Did you know that there are many monuments dedicated to soldiers who died in battle. Can you find such monuments around the world?

How to Make a Kite

Easy Paper Kite for Kids

What You Need

  • 8.5 inches x 11 inches thick piece of paper
  • A wooden skewer/straight drinking straw
  • Kite string/ light strong string
  • Wide ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Tape

15 Steps to make a Kite

  1. Fold the paper in half
  2. Mark a point on the paper’s top, about an inch from the fold.
  3. Similarly, mark a point on the bottom of the paper, an inch from the open side.
  4. Draw a dotted line connecting these points.
  5. Fold the paper’s top corner along the line that you drew.
  6. Then, turn the paper and fold the other side down, in the same way as the side you just folded.
  7. Again, turn the paper so that it looks like it did in Step 5.
  8. Put pieces of tape on the middle crease.
  9. Put a skewer across the kite, as shown. Tape that too.
  10. Turn the kite. Straighten its ‘spine.’
  11. Mark a spot one third of the way down the spine, half an inch from the edge. Put tape over it, on both sides.
  12. With your scissors, make a hole in this spot.
  13. Tie your kite string through this hole with a strong knot.
  14. Tape an end of the ribbon at the bottom of the back of the kite.
  15. Keep the ribbon tail of the kite between six to ten feet. If it feels the kite can’t hold the ribbon’s weight, cut it shorter.

Have fun flying your kite! A light breeze will be perfect, it might not do well if it’s very windy.

To know how to fly a kite visit https://mocomi.com/kite-flying/

Makar Sankranti

What is Makar Sankranti?

Makar Sankranti or just Sankranti is celebrated in India by various groups of people for different reasons. In astrology it is day on which the sun moves into the house of Capricorn. The name of the festival comes from combination of the Hindi word for Capricorn- Makar and the word for the movement of earth from one zodiac in the sky to another- sankranti. The day is supposed to mark the winter solstice but since calculations for the lunar calendar are not made using the tropical (standard) time scheme it falls on the 14th of January, 21 days after the actual winter solstice.

Why do we celebrate Makar Sankranti?

There are many beliefs and much folk-lore behind the celebrations of this day. One is that on this day Vishnu ended the war between the Devas and Asuras which had been going on for millenia. So for some this marks the end of negativity and a start of the era of righteous living.

Another belief is that Bhishma, who was granted a boon by his father that he would die only when he willed it, decided to be released from his mortal form. Hence it is auspicious for people to begin physical and spiritual journeys on this day.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated by different names and customs in different parts of India. It is essentially a harvest festival celebrated with great fanfare. There are melas or fairs held in many regions but one of the traditions in particular is flying kites. People of all ages take to rooftops to fly kites in an act to get closer to God.

Different Celebrations of Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is one of the few festivals based on the Solar Calendar, as most Hindu festivals are based on the Lunar Calendar. Makar Sankranti is celebrated with different traditions across India.

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the festival is celebrated for four days. Families decorate their homes with ‘muggus’ or colourful rangolis. In Maharashtra, people exchange sweets (especially those made of sesame seeds and jaggery) as tokens of goodwill. Through this exchange, they hope to forget ill-will and past animosity.

Punjab

For the state of Punjab, Makar Sankranti marks the beginning of the harvest season. The evening before the festival, they light a bonfire and discard old items – a symbol of starting anew. They celebrate the festival as ‘Maghi’ and they ideally begin their day with a ritualistic bath in a river.

Assam and Bengal

The Assamese celebrate this festival as ‘Magh Bihu’ and the celebrations and feasting go on for a week. The celebrations also involve the playing of traditional games succh as ‘tekeli bhonga’ or pot breaking. In Bengal, the Goddess Lakshmi is traditionally worshipped on the day of Sankranti.

Project

Kites come in various shapes and sizes and can be made of different types of materials. The most common type of kite is the diamond shaped kite that is light-weight and easy to fly. Have you ever flown a kite? Try it!

More Facts
Click here to know a few amazing facts about the Festival of Kites.

New Year Party

New Year Party for Kids

Here are some New Year party ideas so that you can ring in the New Year in a fun way.

New Year party themes

  • New Year’s Eve parties are perfect occasions for slumber parties. You and your friends can wear pajamas. No need to wear fancy New Year dresses! Set up tents for your friends to play in. Let your friends bring their stuffed animals and pillows.
  • How about a carnival themed party with everyone dressed up in silly clothes with pirate hats ?

New Year party decorations

  • Using paper, cardboard, feathers and glitter create individual party hats.
  • Take a trash bag and fill it up with balloons. Get your guests to write their wishes on chits of paper. Add these, confetti and sweets to the bag. At 12 AM, drop the bag from the ceiling.
  • Give your guests a plethora of empty pans and pots to bang at 12 AM.
  • Place alarms on cell phones and every clock in the house, so that they all ring at 12 AM.
  • Give each guest an empty tin can and let them store something in that time capsule. Decorate it and let your friend hide it somewhere. It is meant to be opened years later.
  • Fill the house with glow sticks.

New Year party games

  • What to do on New Year’s Eve, you ask? Here are some things to do on New Year’s Eve.
  • Do a karaoke night with everyone singing and dancing.
  • Let each guest make their own game and place it inside a goody bag. Whoever picks a bag has to make everyone play that game.
  • Have a scavenger hunt where your friends write their own special memories of the year gone by, on chits. Hide them inside small boxes and place them around the house.

New Year party food

  • Popcorn is always a favorite.
  • Greeks would bake a cake with a lucky coin inside it. You could try doing that too!
  • Let your friends decorate and bake their own pizzas.
  • Hope these New Year’s Eve party ideas help you have a gala time!

For more interesting Party Ideas and Themes for kids, go to https://mocomi.com/fun/party-ideas-themes/

Why does the New Year Start on January 1st?

The history of New Year’s Day celebration

In the ancient times, people from all over the world had their own calendars. So, different countries celebrated the New Year on different dates.

Where did New Year celebrations start?

  • Celebration of the New Year started in ancient Babylon, (part of Iraq today) some 4000 years ago.
  • The Babylonians did not have a written calendar of their own. Still, they celebrated the New Year on March 23rd.
  • The month of March was considered a good month for New Year celebrations because it was when spring began and new crops were planted.

When did the New Year shift to January 1st?

The Romans celebrated their New Year on March 25 Different emperors kept adding and subtracting days to match the seasons.

In 46 B.C., came Julius Caesar, the Roman General, who synchronised the calendar with the earth’s revolution around the sun, so there were 365 and a quarter days in a year.

He established January 1 as New Year’s Day. To do so, he had to let that year go on for 445 days!

This calendar was named after Julius Caesar, so it was called the Julian calendar.

The Julian calendar had an error of 1 day in 128 years.

By the 15th century, it was a week behind the solar calendar. So, in 1582, Pope Gregory VII, Head of the Catholic Church, shifted the Julian calendar a week ahead and named it after himself.

To avoid future errors, the Gregorian calendar only counts century years as leap years if they are divisible by 400.

The Protestant church opposed the Gregorian calendar at first.

As time passed, countries around the world began using it. Now, the New Year is celebrated on January 1 around the world.

Related Article:

New Year Celebrations around the world

New Year is celebrated across the world through different festivities and is one of the most widely celebrated festivals the world over!

Did you know that Auckland, New Zealand, is the first city to celebrate the New Year and Honolulu, Hawaii is the last to celebrate it? Around the world, New Year festivities begin on 31st December, New Year’s Eve. As the clock strikes midnight, everyone bids adieu to the old year and greet each other a ‘Happy New year’. The same date but different festivities in various countries make the New Year the most celebrated holiday. Let’s take a look at the different festivities followed by people around the world:

New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world

1. Spain

Spanish people believe that eating twelve grapes, at midnight of the New Year, brings good luck. Thus, at every stroke of the clock, at midnight on New Year, they pop in a grape.

2. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Copacabana beach is famous for hosting the largest New Year celebrations worldwide! Millions of people from around the world come here to attend the huge party. Traditionally, the local Rio public honors the beach by throwing white flowers into the sea. People also dress up in white as a good luck charm. Fireworks start on New Year’s Eve and continue till the next day.

3. United States

Times Square in New York is a famous place where everyone gathers on New Year’s eve. The tradition is to drop the huge New Year’s eve ball from the Times Square flag pole when it is just 1 minute to midnight. When the ball drops, it releases thousands of confetti, messages on colored paper. These messages have been left by the local public days before the New Year celebrations.

People from Southern United States believe in eating black eyed peas and turnip greens on New Year. The peas represent coins and the turnip greens represent dollars. They believe that by doing this, the New Year will bring them good money.

4. Sydney, Australia

The world’s largest firework show on New Year’s is held here. Though the show lasts only for 12 minutes, starting at the stroke of midnight, the beautiful extravaganza attracts people to be a part of this celebration from all over the world.

5. Philippines

People here want the new year to bring in more money and prosperity. Thus, they dress up in polka dotted clothes and gather in streets and localities, throwing coins at midnight or by keeping coins in pots and shaking them in their own homes.

6. Greece

For the Greeks January 1st is also Saint Basil’s Day, one of their forefathers. It is the day for gift giving, telling stories and leaving presents at midnight in children’s shoes. Every Greek family bakes a cake on this day which has a silver or gold coin hidden inside. The cake slices are passed to everyone and whoever gets the coin is believed to have a lucky year ahead.

7. Japan

People in Japan, in the evening of December 31st, eat a bowl of a special type of noodles called ‘toshikoshisoba.’ While eating they listen to the sound of Buddhist temple bells which are rung 108 times at the midnight hour of New year and is supposed to remove all evils and sins.

New Year’s Day

Why does the year start on January 1st?

January 1st is the beginning of the new year according to the Gregorian calendar. The majority of countries across the globe follow this calendar and since in most of them it is a holiday; New Year’s Day can be considered the only global public holiday.

New Year’s pagan origins

The month of January is named after Janus, the god of gates and doors who had 2 faces- one looking back and the other looking forward. This suggests that this festival is rooted in pagan traditions. Other lunar and solar calendars have it so the new year begins on different days of the Gregorian calendar. Even in Europe the new year was celebrated during the spring equinox or the feast of the Annunciation of Jesus for many years before they adopted the new standardised calendar. However, it has come to be that people around the world accept January 1 as the beginning of the new year.

What are some New Year’s traditions?

The new year is symbolic of change and new beginnings which is why many people make personal resolutions on this day. Many people stay up till midnight of December 31 to count down to the new year and hold gatherings of friends and family to celebrate with them.

New Year’s baby

A popular symbol of the new year is a baby wearing a sash across his chest with the new year printed on it. The baby is an incarnation of Father Time ( who started as Baby New Year and has aged through the year).

Project

Have you ever made a personal resolution? You don’t have to wait till the 1st of January to do so. Make one today. Choose something that you would like to change about yourself and stick to your decision. There! You’ve made a resolution!

Plant Cell and Animal Cell: Comparison

What is a cell?

All living organisms on Earth are made of really tiny particles called cells. Cells are the basis which makes up the structure of all living beings- all animals and all plants. Cells can only be seen under a microscope. Cells join together to form tissues which join together to make organs, an organic system which makes a living organism.

Plant cell structure and functions:

  • The plants cell has a cell wall. This wall protects the contents on the cell and also limits a cell size. It is made up of chemicals like cellulose; an important sugar glucose for plants.
  • Next is the cell membrane which is a thin layer of protein and fats and allows only few substances to pass through it.
  • Chloroplast is a disc shaped organelle containing the Chlorophyll which is a molecule inside the cell that plants use to make food- the process of photosynthesis. It absorbs sunlight to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen.
  • Plant cells contain the mitochondrion which is a spherical or rod shaped organelle that converts energy stored in the form of glucose.
    In the center is the nucleus which controls all the functions of the cell and is surrounded by a nuclear membrane.
  • They also have a permanent vacuole that takes up 90% of the cell volume and it helps the cell be turgid- swollen with water.

Animal cell structure and functions:

  • The animal cell contains an external membrane which gives shape to cells and controls movement of materials like oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass in and out of cells.
  • The central part of the cell is the nucleus which has a small structure called the chromosome in it. These chromosomes carry genes which are responsible for our hereditary characters passed on from our parents and ancestors.
  • The cell contains an endoplasmic reticulum which is a tube like structure connecting different parts of a cell and helps them to carry materials.
  • The mitochondria are like a power house of a cell. They are found in large numbers and help in respiration process of a cell that helps in energy formation.
  • Cells also contain Lysosomes which have enzymes that help in digestion of food.

Difference between plant cell and animal cell

Animal cells do not have a cell wall or chloroplasts but plant cells do. Animal cells are round and irregular in shape but plants cells are rectangular and have a fixed shape. Animal cells contain lysosomes which are absent in plant cells. Animal cells have one or more small vacuoles but plant cells have only one big vacuole.

What are Cyclones?

What is a Cyclone?

Cyclones are violent storms. When we talk about storms or cyclones, the location plays an important part since there are different types of cyclones, and the location determines what to call it.

Cyclones that form near North America and the Caribbean are known as hurricanes. Cyclones formed near Philippines, Japan and China are known as typhoons and those formed near Australia and India are known as cyclones.

How are Cyclones formed?

Cyclones are generally spinning storms that rotate around a low pressure center. The center is the eye of the cyclone which watches whatever is going down. It is like the calm spinning, middle portion of a ceiling fan whereas the surrounding rotating areas are the arms which go wild.

Types of Cyclones?

Tropical Cyclones

The Tropical cyclones form over the Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian Oceans, mostly develop during summer. Hurricanes and typhoons are also types of tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones are called category 1,2,3,4, or 5. The number increases with the increase in their intensity and wind speed. A category 1 cyclone is weak and has a speed of 74-95 mph. A category 5 cyclone is above 155 mph and is extremely disastrous and dangerous.

Polar Cyclones and Mesocyclones

Other types of cyclones are Polar cyclones and mesocyclone. Polar cyclones occur in Polar Regions in winter months in Greenland, Siberia or Antarctica. A mesocyclone is when a part of a thunderstorm cloud starts to spin and forms a tornado.

Tropical Cyclones form over the warm of the tropics. When the warm, moist air over the water rises, it is replaced by cool air. This cooler air warms and starts rising. This cycle causes huge clouds to be formed. Now, these warm clouds begin to rotate with a spin of the earth. If there is enough warm water, the cycle continues and the storm clouds and the wind speed keeps growing to form a cyclone. When this occurs over the tropical ocean it is called tropical depression. When it starts spinning faster, we get a tropical storm.

The main effects of cyclones are heavy rainfall, strong winds, land falls and tornadoes. The destruction of a cyclone depends upon the intensity of the winds. The worst cyclone in Australia was in 1974 called cyclone Tracy which devastated Darwin and Northern Australia.

2 Interesting Facts about Cyclones

  1. Cyclone rotates counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere, due to earth’s rotation.
  2. When naming cyclones the letters Q,U,X,Y, Z are not used and the names are alternated between male and female names.

Inside a Hurricane

What is a Hurricane?

A hurricane is a huge storm. It is a combination of many strong winds that combine together and twirl or spiral inwards and then move upwards. Hurricanes happen over the ocean, land and can last for up to weeks.

The Hurricane is made up of the following:

1. Hurricane winds or rain bands

They are a series of dense clouds which move counter clockwise. They spiral in that direction and surround the rough wall of the hurricane eye. They give a pinwheel appearance to the hurricane. They can be 50 to 300 miles long.

2. Hurricane Eye

When the winds move together and spiral around they form a centre of the hurricane which is the eye. The eye can be 20 to 30 miles wide and is the calmest part of the hurricane with almost no rains in this area. It is also the warmest part of the storm. A hurricane eye appears in various sizes and shapes. A hurricane eye is the part which is clearly visible from space as well.

3. Eye Wall

This is a wall that surrounds the eye and is made up of many thunder clouds. It can be as small as 5 miles or as big as 30 miles. The eye wall areas have the most damaging and heaviest rainfall.

Top 7 Space Agencies in the World

Space studies and research on the outer space has always intrigued man. Mankind has a thirst to know what is beyond the earth’s atmosphere. Thus every nation has set up its own space agencies and research centres. They are numerous of them but only few are the ones who are of high quality, do extreme research, are technologically advanced and are well known around the world.

List of Top 7 Space Research Organisations in the World

1. NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA, United States, no doubt holds the first position. It was established in October 1958 and has been involved in high profile space programmes since then. Project Apollo was the first exploration mission to the moon held by NASA. Currently NASA is engaged in a number of missions which study climate changes, freshwater resources, mystery behind the development of Sun, and life on other planets and so on.

2. RFSA – Russian Federation Space Agency

RFSA is one of the partners of the ISS or the international Space station. It is one of the leading agencies actively engaged in development of space vehicles, launchers and ground based infrastructure. Founded prior to NASA in 1922, it suffered financial problems in the initial years but later managed to launch many successful missions.

3. ESA – European Space Agency

ESA are one of the best in launching vehicles for space orbits. It was established in 1975 by ten member states. It now constitutes 22 member states. Together the nations handle space programmes far behind the reach of just a single nation.

4. ISRO – Indian Space Research Organisation

The ISRO became the first Asian Space agencies to reach the orbit of Mars. It is the world’s first agency to have achieved this mission on the very first attempt. Formed in 1969, ISRO has lanuched75 spacecrafts till date. It designs, manufactures satellites and launches programmes and space missions.

5. CNSA – China National Space Administration

CNSA is currently involved in the deployment of satellites for telecommunication and Earth observations. In 2003 China joined America and Russia in the trio to make human spaceflight capabilities. Its latest unmanned lunar-lander and rover reached the moon successfully in 2013.

6. JAXA – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency was established in 2003. Its main work is to look at technological development, research work, and launch of satellites into orbits, moon research, asteroid data and many other space researches. It is also responsible for observing the rainfall and carbon dioxide monitoring.

7. SSI – Space Studies Institute in California

Space Studies Institute in California is a non profit organisation founded in 1977. It has some very important research priorities like research on non-terrestrial materials. The institute’s research on transport related mechanisms is useful to understand the orbit missions.

Merry Christmas- Decoration – Colouring Page

Learn how to draw with our Drawing for kids lessons.

Merry Christmas Decoration – Free printable online colouring page for kids. Colour online Merry Christmas Decoration using our colouring palette and download your coloured page by clicking save image.

How to colour this colouring page

Have fun colouring our colouring pages, by following some simple instructions:

  • Go through our collection and choose an image you want to colour.
  • You can click on the “felt pen” or “crayon” and use it to colour the image.
  • Click on “size” and choose how big you want your stroke to be.
  • Click on the range of colours on the bottom left and go nuts!!
  • In case you don’t like what you did, you can always click the “eraser” and erase all the strokes you don’t want. How cool is that?!?
  • Once you are done with your masterpiece, don’t forget to “Save Image” and show it off to all your friends!
  • Click on “Download Activity,” in case you want to take a print out of the activity itself.

Note: Don’t forget to check out the Christmas Story video and other Christmas articles and activities.

Decorate your Christmas Tree Game

Click on the bulbs to connect them and light up your Christmas tree! Once you’ve done that, you can use the ornaments to decorate your Christmas tree. You will want to keep playing this game, your Christmas tree will look so beautiful…Merry Christmas!

Don’t forget to check out our other free online games for kids, visit: https://mocomi.com/fun/outdoor-games/

Santa Tracker Game

Track Santa Claus

Ho ho ho! It’s that time of the year when Santa Claus pays us a visit. Have you ever thought of tracking Santa? Following him on his journey all over the world? Wouldn’t that be exciting?

So what would you have to do, exactly? Well, it’s simple. Do you have a good memory? We’re sure you do! Just have a look at Santa’s route across the world. Look at your screen for as long as you need, till you’re sure you remember the countries Santa’s going to visit!

Since you’re going to track him, you will need to be careful to remember the order of the countries he’s going to visit. Have fun seeing him drop gifts all over the world. See kids in countries across the world rejoice as they get their presents from the sky!

Santa will visit Greenland, Europe, Russia, Middle East, India, Australia, Africa, South America and North America. Can you guess what the time in each of these countries will be when he visits?

So let’s get started! Good luck! Tell us how you fared in the comments. Have fun.

For more interesting Christmas Facts for kids, visit: https://mocomi.com/issue-30/

Don’t forget to check out our other free online games for kids, visit: https://mocomi.com/fun/outdoor-games/

History of Christmas Tree

People in many ancient cultures believed that the Sun God became pale and frail during winter and that is why we had the winter solstice. Evergreen trees reminded them of the plants that would grow once more, when the sun god recovered.

Who got the idea of lighting up a Christmas Tree?

Lights are important in the history of the Christmas tree. Martin Luther, a Protestant was once walking through a forest of evergreen trees in Germany, when he saw sparkling stars lighting up the trees. Martin recreated this beautiful scene at home by lighting candles on his Christmas tree.

In 1895, Ralph Morris of the USA, got the idea of using electric lights on Christmas trees, changing Christmas celebrations forever. He helped make Christmas lights safer, as the danger of fire reduced.Earlier, a Chicago hospital had burnt down thanks to Christmas candles. Insurance companies wanted a ban on Christmas candles because they caused many fires.

Can you guess the maximum number of lights anyone has put on a Christmas tree? 194,672. This was done in Belgium in 2010.

Early Christmas Trees

Some early Christmas trees were hung upside down, from the ceiling! Chandeliers were used sometimes to do this.

What did artificial Christmas trees of that time look like? If people couldn’t afford a real tree, they would decorate pyramids of wood. They used Christmas tree decorations like candles, paper and apples.Some carried these around to show neighbors, instead of keeping the trees in their houses.

Famous Christmas Trees

Every year, Norway sends the United Kingdom a giant Christmas tree, as a thank you for help during World War II. It stands in Trafalgar Square, London.

Which is the world’s tallest Christmas tree? It is supposed to be the 122 foot tall, 91 years old Douglas fir in Washington, USA.

What Christmas ornaments do you like? Do you get your tree from a Christmas tree top or do you make one?

Note: Don’t forget to check out the Christmas Story video and other Christmas articles and activities.

Merry Christmas- Cake – Colouring Page

Learn how to draw with our Drawing for kids lessons.

Merry Christmas- Cake – Free printable online colouring page for kids. Colour online Merry Christmas – Cake using our colouring palette and download your coloured page by clicking save image.

How to colour this colouring page

Have fun colouring our colouring pages, by following some simple instructions:

  • Go through our collection and choose an image you want to colour.
  • You can click on the “felt pen” or “crayon” and use it to colour the image.
  • Click on “size” and choose how big you want your stroke to be.
  • Click on the range of colours on the bottom left and go nuts!!
  • In case you don’t like what you did, you can always click the “eraser” and erase all the strokes you don’t want. How cool is that?!?
  • Once you are done with your masterpiece, don’t forget to “Save Image” and show it off to all your friends!
  • Click on “Download Activity,” in case you want to take a print out of the activity itself.

Note: Don’t forget to check out the Christmas Story video and other Christmas articles and activities.

Who is Santa Claus?

The real Story behind Santa Claus

Did you know this jolly old figure, who has come to be a greatly celebrated symbol of Christmas, actually has a rich history?

The name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch word Sinterklaas which is a pronunciation of ‘Saint Nicholas’.

Saint Nicholas was a wealthy man and a devout Christian who used his entire inheritance to help the needy and the poor.

For his generous and selfless service to God and humanity he was made the Bishop of Myra.

This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

This tradition was passed on through the generations and is practiced by kids even today.

There are many stories that speak about this extraordinary human and why he was so loved by all.

Saint Nicholas left gifts for everyone and as his story traveled through the ages, he become known as Santa Claus

Christmas is incomplete without the plump, chubby, lovable old man, dressed in red with a sackful of presents, known to all as Santa Claus.

It is believed that he drives a sleigh pulled by 8 flying reindeer and lives on the North Pole with his company of elves.

He is especially big in the hearts of kids who write letters to him addressed “Santa Claus, North Pole” with there wishes and wait for him on the night of Christmas to come with presents.

There are many stories that speak about this extraordinary human and why he was so loved by all.

One of the famous stories is about an old man who was poor and didn’t have any money or presents to give his three daughters as dowry on the day of their wedding.

Saint Nicholas went to their house and dropped a bag of gold coins in the stockings they had left to dry by the fire place.

Note: Don’t forget to check out the Christmas Story video and other Christmas articles and activities.