The Underwater Vacuum Cleaners

By Anupum Pant

If you didn’t know, most white sand you see on some beaches around the world, has at some point in time, passed through a fish called the parrot fish. It’s an amazing ecological role the parrot fish plays.

An interestingly similar ecological role is served by a marine animal with a very leathery skin called the sea cucumber. Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg explains why these organisms have such an important role in the marine environment.

Basically, while scavenging for algae or minute aquatic animals, sea cucumbers ingest a lot of sand. As it passes through their bodies, the digestive system increases the pH of the sand, making it more basic. When this comes out, the sand is clean and turned basic. This way it plays a chief role in countering the negative effects of ocean acidification.

It also helps coral reefs survive by supplying them with calcium carbonate (a by product of its digestion process) and helping them maintain a net inflow of calcium carbonate.

The ammonia that comes out also makes the bed more fertile, making it much more suitable for coral reefs to grow.

Watch these underwater vacuum cleaners in action below.

Faking Sleep Affects Performance

By Anupum Pant

A couple of days back I talked about how standing for a few seconds in a superman position could increase your level of confidence and could help you ace interviews. Today it’s time again to look at a technique to increase performance by fooling your body.

First of all, you need to stop thinking you didn’t sleep well today. That is because the mere act of thinking you slept well makes you perform well. It’s been proven.

In a group where everyone got equal sleep, half of the people were just told by “experts” that they had 29% REM sleep (which is better) and the other half were told that they had only 16% REM sleep (that actually decreases performance). The catch was, they all had slept for equal times and everyone would have had more or less equal percentages of REM cycles. Only, they were told wrong things by “experts”.

This word of mouth coming from the “experts” actually affected the performance of these two groups. The group that was told they had a greater percentage of REM sleep performed well. And the group that was told they did sleep as well as the first group didn’t perform as good. I’m assuming both the groups were first informed about how the percentage of REM sleep affects performance.

So, stop cribbing about how tired and sleepy you  are.

Galileo’s Paradox

By Anupum Pant

Here’s an image of a contraption. It is basically a long stick hinged at one end and is free to move about the other. At the end of it rests a ball. Near the ball there’s also a cup fastened to the stick. The big stick is lifted up high and is temporarily supported by a small stick.

galileo paradox

Now, what do you think would happen when the temporary support is removed? Normally, it would be very intuitive to think that the cup and the ball would fall at the same speed. In other words, nothing fascinating would happen. Both would fall and the ball would roll away…no?

However, something very unexpected happens when the support is removed. Something that, in a jiffy demonstrates some very important concepts of physics like centre of mass, torque and acceleration.

The big wooden stick (with the fastened cup) falls and it falls faster than the ball. Actually it falls and also rotates. As a result of the swing, the cup comes under the ball just before ball reaches it and the ball ends up inside it.

Under the influence of the same gravitational force, irrespective of the mass, the cup and the ball must have fallen at the same rate, as predicted by Galileo? What really happens? The video explains…