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…

Problem Solving Plants

By Anupum Pant

Neurobiological research on plants, sounds absurd, right? Not at all. Stefano Mancuso from University of Florence, Italy has devoted years of his life studying plants and he firmly believes that plants can communicate.

He often uses bean plants to demonstrate their mystical ability to communicate and their amazing ability to sense the environment. He has grown bean plants in a number of conditions (lighting, temperature, humidity, magnetic field etc.), while recording their growth through a time-lapse camera.

In his time-lapse videos it’s fascinating to see bean plants shooting out and making movements, as a blind man would do with his hand to sense the environment. Every single time, irrespective of its distance, bean plants are able to find the support stick to wind on…

This remarkable ability of bean plants, lacking eyes or any other known sensing techniques, has stunned scientists. Since it is sped up, the video of this shoot moving up the support stick looks a lot like some reptile’s movement.

Here, watch the time-lapse, you’ll see how amazing this little marvel of nature is…

Like a bean plant, there is another plant (if you could call it that), whose movements have interested scientists. Exactly like a bean plant does, this plant comes out too, searches and always is able to find another plant to grow on. At the same time, it is quite different from the bean plant.

Cuscuta Pentagona, as scientists call it, is a true parasite. That means, it has no roots, nor can it make food on it’s own – no photosynthesis. So, for food, it relies on neighbouring plants. And every single time, like bean plant, after coming out from the ground, cuscuta parasite is able to sense the healthiest plant. It then sinks in its suckers to suck out food from the host plant. Now watch the serial killer in action, in the voice of Morgan Freeman.

The Sweet Tale of the Mysterious Tree Lobster

By Anupum Pant

I do realize how big our world is and the sheer number of species that live in it. Also the fact that about 86% of the species are still unknown has me in awe all the time.

Yet, after having read about so many kinds of animals that live on our planet, after having documented them on this blog, I always feel that I’ve known and written it all. The very moment I start losing hope that I would never find an interesting animal ever again, something incredible comes across. Always!

Today, that happened again when I was reading an NPR blog. This time, there’s more than the species itself. The place where it lives is pretty awesome too. The most amazing part – This six-legged giant lives only there. That means, nowhere else on Earth will you find it! First, let’s see where it lives…

This is where it lives:

balls pyramid

I know, it looks like a CG mountain done for a fantasy movie. Trust me, it’s real. It’s called the Ball’s Pyramid (named after a European named Ball who first saw it in 1788) and was formed 7 million years ago due to a volcanic eruption. It is an awkwardly tall (1,844 feet) and an extremely narrow rock sitting in the centre of the sea. To the East of Australia, the red place marker in the following picture shows where the rock is located.

 balls pyramid location

 What lives there? And how was it found?

There is an island – Lord Howe island – close to the rock. In the island lived huge “tree lobsters” (actually they were huge stick insects with a hard exoskeleton – Dryococelus australis). In the year 1918, a ship crashed on the island and brought with it some rats. The rats loved these tree lobsters and finished them off within 2 years. After 1920, these tree lobsters were thought to be extinct.

tree lobster

Of course there were stories of these insects living on a rock near the island. But no human wanted to climb the narrow rock to hunt insects at night.

Only in the year 2001 when 2 researchers David Priddel and Nicholas Carlile decided to climb up the rock to find out if these stories were real, they found something incredible. Poop of a large insect. When the came back at night to investigate, the shiny black huge tree lobsters were found! These insects had probably never been extinct.

For more than 80 years, 24 of them had been living on this rock, in a bush and no one knew how they got there. Probably they clinged on to birds or something. Also, according to the researchers, these creatures have never been seen anywhere else.

Where are they now

I’m not sure about where they are now. According to the 2012 NPR article which I read, a pair of these creatures – Adam and Eve – were brought into Australia. Eggs got laid and little Tree lobsters came into the world. Thankfully, the species was saved from going extinct. But it isn’t known if they’ll be sent back to their home island because the great-great-great grandsons of those rats must still be there waiting to finish these insects off again.

This is how the first ones hatched in the zoo…

Hit like if you learnt something from this article.