Atoms are the smallest units of matter which are independent and have a definite address. Atoms of different elements are different in many aspects but size and atomic weight are the main attributes. I think there is no such thing as color of things.
Color exists only when there is light. When the darkness falls, the color of things begins to dissolve and black color takes over everything. Black color thus obliterate all the differences due to colors.
May be this is the reason why in Hindu mythology many Gods are dark complexioned. Take for example Rama, Krishna and Draupadi, all of them are dark in complexion. Although it is strange to explain why so many of Hindus prefer the fair color.
So how can a thing have red color and black color at two instances of time? Light a bulb and again colors come back but there is different between the colors of things in different kinds of lights.
Sunlight is a mixture of many colors which are different waves. All the waves are the part of what is called light spectrum. Our eyes can see limited spectrum of light called visible spectrum which is from violet to red.
Violet and beyond region called ultra violet have higher energy. On the opposite end is the red color and lower energy infra red. Birds and bees are endowed with more complex eyes and are capable of seeing into the infrared and ultra violet ranges also. The plants have exploited this capability and deposit substances on the flower strategically on flowers so that bees reach the target directly.
Our eyes have light receptors called cones and rods. They gather light from the target and send to the brain for generating a composite picture. The rods are more numerous than cones.
The rods are meant for collecting the faint lights and operate when the light is dim like the sailors panning the stars in sky or when we are out in remote village on a clear night. Due to the plenty of light during the nights also these days, the services of the rods are seldom impressed upon. Now the main role is played by the cones. It is not known why these rods have not been traded with cones during the evolution.
When the light falls upon a substance, different energy centers in the substance become excited. These centers are electrons, atoms or molecules rotation, vibration of atoms joined with different kinds of bonds like single, double or triple.
Depending upon the available spectrum of rays falling on the substance, those matching these centers are absorbed. This match is very much defined depending on the structure of the molecules.
From the visible spectrum, some of the wave length rays are absorbed. Those which does not match any center is not absorbed and reflected back. This is the color which reaches our eye and is responsible for the color which we attribute to the substance.
Most of the optical analytical instruments use monochromatic light beams to shine on the atoms and molecules. Monochromatic light is pure light beam of single energy and generally matches a particular wavelength emitted by an excited atoms of single elements. Thus they are able to determine the concentration of a particular element in a solution.
There was a time when things started rolling on with advent of photosynthesis by cyano-bacteria or green algae which began preparing its food from carbon dioxide and water which were the only substances available in plenty. They paved the way for introduction of oxygen into the atmosphere and for beginning of life dependent on oxygen.
In fact, both the products made by photosynthesis namely sugar and oxygen are used by animals including humans for sustaining their life. We animals are thus the species who learned to make use of the leg work of others to our own advantage. Of course, in today’s world, human beings who do this are termed smarter than the others.
So what the plants and algae used for making their food is being recycled back to the atmosphere in the form of green house gases. Plants use CO2 and H2O and take energy from the Sun to convert these to sugars and animals extract that energy from the food synthesized by plants and algae and return the CO2 and H2O back to the atmosphere.
CO2 is in fact one of the end products of burning the fossil fuels like coal and petroleum which are the preserved forms of energy of Sun due to being buried away from the reach of oxygen. Since all industrial activities use extensively these fuels, levels of CO2 are rising in the atmosphere to alarming levels.
Trees breathe in the CO2 through the stomatal pores present in their leaves. They also lose the water through these pores during the day. They are smart enough to adjust the size of their leaves so as to optimize the intake of CO2 and loss of H2O for proper growth.
One such tree was born in 1948 in a isolated place on the edge of a pit 30 kilometers from Dutch city called Eindhoven. By 1990 it was a big majestic tree as most of the Birch family trees are. Scientists from the laboratory of Paleo-botany and Palynology named it fondly “Big Betty”.
During each autumn, the tree will shed a carpet of dry leaves into the pit. So layer after layer is deposited inside the pit. But scientists noticed a peculiar thing about the leave size. Each year the leave size began becoming smaller thus reducing the stomatal index. This was due to the fact that as levels of CO2 rose, the tree needed fewer number of stomata to inhale the same quantity as required and thus avoided the undue loss of moisture from the leaves. In fact when the levels of CO2 were plotted against the stomatal indices of leaves over these years, they matched the patterns of levels of CO2 variations. So the stomatal index was used to calibrate and interpolate the results to guess the levels of CO2 in the past.
In the beginning there was carbon dioxide, water and sunlight on our Earth and its environment. The same carbon dioxide which is the end product of today’s industrial processes. The factories spew carbon dioxide.
Scientists are finding ways to fix this carbon dioxide which is the major cause of greenhouse effect and results in trapping the heat and disallows it dissipate and result in Global warming.
Whereas in the present climate living beings mostly use oxygen to breakup the food and convert it to glucose and energy, in the beginning only organism that thrived on carbon dioxide was called green algae.
It mastered the art of harvesting sunlight by a process called photosynthesis in which it converted the freely available carbon dioxide and water into glucose which it used as food. But along with the glucose, another product was formed which we call oxygen and cannot live without.
Now the families of these algae, again seem to be rescuing us from the crisis of energy. The mineral oil and coal, major sources of energy are not inexhaustible and considering there rate of consumption, there is a concern to find the alternate sources of energy. One example is ethanol manufacturing from the corn.
Algae is holding the promise to save us again. The green covering on the ponds looks very unattractive but these tiny globules contain lipids which can be converted into the biofuels.
Some of these also contain hydrocarbons. These algae sequester the carbon dioxide infused into the environment and helps cleaning the atmosphere.
At this stage, efforts are on to increase the yield of biomass and make it commercially viable. For this favorable conditions are being created to grow the algae into the open ponds where yield shall be more due to availability of sunlight also.
Algae is attacked by some aquatic species called rotifers. Efforts are on to create the media which shall do away with all these problems.
Besides the energy in the form of lipids, there are algae which are excellent diet supplement because they contain a myriad number of minerals and proteins.
One such algae is spirulina which is very popular among the people who want to become slim by shedding the weight.
Hinduism is very difficult to define. It cannot be confined to strict rules and regulations. It can be amended to suit certain needs. So it is a dynamic system. It is continually evolving. One of the beautiful feature of the system is that both animate and inanimate things are given equal status and thought to be the extension of the supreme one.
The tenet that energy is the supreme cosmic entity has been proved to be true in the scientific experiments. Einstein’s famous equation states it in beautiful short equation which tells us the energy and matter are interconvertible.
Thus the material things which we see are energy condensed into a small space. Atoms with higher atomic weight have large amounts of energy locked inside them. The sum of weights of their individual parts exceed the actual mass, a property called mass defect.
Where is that mass gone? It is there in the atom itself in the form of binding energy. This tremendous amount of the energy had been used as nuclear weapons which cause the devastation on a scale unimaginable.
Plants are very smart, efficient and unforgiving in the energy management. Unlike the animals, who cannot regrow their limbs, plants see to it that inefficient leaves are cast off and replaced by new efficient one’s so that the food making machine continue to run smoothly. The leaves make the food by combining carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll which shepherds the energy from sun and store it in the plant. Animals make use of this energy by eating the plant parts. This pigment imparts green color to the leaves and masks the faint colors of other chemicals like carotenoids.
As soon as, the plant know that the a given leaf is underperforming, it gradually withdraws the supply of chlorophyll to it and also reclaims whatever it can of the other components. Gradually the color of leaf begins to become yellowish and it looses it strength and fall off the branch. Older leaves are constantly replenished and plant continues to make its food.
When the winter comes, the Sun is hardly visible because sky is mostly overcast. So the plants plan to shut down the food making factories. Plant leaves have chlorophyll which is green. There are Xanthophylls which are yellow pigments, and carotenoids which give leaves an orange color. As the plants withdraw the chlorophyll from the leaves and like polar bears go into a state of hibernation. Due to deficiency of overpowering chlorophyll, leaves acquire beautiful brown, reddish and yellowish hues as the other pigments now dominate. Trees look even more beautiful due to this as the leaves acquire mixtures of colors due to the varying proportions of yellow and orange pigments. As the winter recedes, Sun comes out, the food making is resumed.
Sugar has become a dreaded word in the modern world. The term is used for the diabetes disease which is acquiring the epidemic proportions in the world. Although sugar alone cannot be blamed for this disease. Sugar is the major energy source along with fats on which our bodies run. Even the carbohydrates which we take in the form of bread and rice are ultimately broken down to simpler sucrose and then glucose compounds and are assimilated by our bodies. It is a matter of living style like stressful life, overeating and sedentary habits. So let us not blame sugar and know about it.
Sugar cane is a form of grass and the source of 70% of the world’s sugar which is extracted from the sweet, juicy stems. In many South Asian countries like India and Pakistan, when the stalks of sugarcane mature, they are chewed for their sugary syrup. The stalk is divided into pieces like the bamboo stalk and sweetness of the stalks decreases from bottom towards upper stalks. Of course, green portion at the top is only grassy. It is eaten as small pieces by the children.
This was the original use of sugar cane. Afterwards the sugar extraction processes began and it became the most important source of sugar followed by the beetroots and palms. The juice is extracted by pressing the sugarcane in a press consisting of rollers of steel and operated by bullocks or nowadays with engines. Area of West Maharashtra near Nashik are famous for the sugarcane production. Uttar Pradesh also produced lots of sugarcane. There are many mills for large scale production of sugar and molasses.
Sugarcane originated in New Guinea where it has been known since about 6000 BC. From about 1000 BC its cultivation gradually spread along human migration routes to Southeast Asia and India and East into the Pacific. It is thought to have been hybridized with wild sugarcanes of India and China, to produce the ‘thin’ canes. It spread westwards to the Mediterranean between 600-1400 AD.
Arabs were responsible for much of its spread as they took it to Egypt around 640 AD, during their conquests. They carried it with them as they advanced around the Mediterranean. Sugarcane spread by this means to Syria, Cyprus, and Crete, eventually reaching Spain around 715 AD.
Around 1420 the Portuguese introduced sugar cane into Madeira, from where it soon reached the Canary Islands, the Azores, and West Africa. Columbus transported sugarcane from the Canary Islands to what is now the Dominican Republic in 1493. The crop was taken to Central and South America from the 1520s onwards, and later to the British and French West Indies.
Sugarcane has a very long history of cultivation in the Indian sub-continent. The earliest reference to it is in the Atharva Veda (c. 1500-800 BC) where it is called ikshu and mentioned as an offering in sacrificial rites. The Atharva Veda uses it as a symbol of sweet attractiveness.
The word ‘sugar’ is thought to derive from the ancient Sanskrit sharkara. By the 6th century BC sharkara was frequently referred to in Sanskrit texts which even distinguished superior and inferior varieties of sugarcane. The Susrutha Samhita listed 12 varieties; the best types were supposed to be the vamshika with thin reeds and the paundraka of Bengal. It was also being called guda, a term which is still used in India to denote jaggery. A Persian account from the 6th century BC gives the first account of solid sugar and describes it as coming from the Indus Valley. This early sugar would have resembled what is known as ‘raw’ sugar: Indian dark brown sugar or Gur.
At this time honey was the only sweetener in the countries beyond Asia and all visitors to India were much taken with the ‘reed which produced honey without bees’. The Greek historian Herodotus knew of the sugarcane in the 5th century BC and Alexander is said to have sent some home when he came to the Punjab region in 326 BC. Practically every traveler to India over the centuries mentions sugarcane; the Moroccan Ibn Battuta wrote of the sugarcanes of Kerala which excelled every other in the 14th century; Francois Bernier, in India from 1658-59, wrote of the extensive fields of sugarcane in Bengal.
Raw and refined sugars in simple terms are produced by heating, removing impurities and crystallizing sugar cane juice. Sucrose is the main constituent in this juice. Raw and refined sugars are exported all over the world for use in pretty much everything from sweet and savoury dishes to processed foods and drinks and preserving fruits and meat. These sugars are also compressed into sugar cubes or made into syrup. White sugar can be further processed into icing sugar to be used in desserts, baking and confectionery. It is a dark, syrupy product and is used for the preparation of edible syrups and for numerous industrial products. In Brazil alcohol is prepared from the sugarcane juice and is used as a fuel for the automobiles. Its end products after burning are carbondioxide and water which are completely pollution free.
As the sugar cane juice contains energy giving sugar as well many minerals, it is used in the treatment of certain illnesses. Both the roots and stems of sugar cane are used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin and urinary tract infections, as well as for bronchitis, heart conditions, loss of milk production, cough, anaemia, constipation as well as general debility. Some texts advise its use for jaundice and low blood pressure.
A very surprising use of sugar is for removing body hair. A warm paste of sugar, water and lemon juice is applied to the skin. Strips of cloth are then pressed over the paste and are then quickly torn off, taking the hair with them. Enthusiasts claim that this procedure becomes less painful with time. The practice of sugaring may date to ancient times in South Asia.
Sugar is also used to exfoliate skin and in soap-making. It has been claimed that application of sugar cane extracts can benefit the skin, but there is no evidence for this.
In Indian Literature
Indian literature abounds in references to the sugarcane: early Tamil literature describes sugarcane along the banks of the River Kaveri, and indeed sugarcane was usually cultivated in river valleys. Early Indian kings set aside land for pleasure gardens, groves and public parks, and gardens were attached to palaces and grand mansions. The Kamasutra, an early erotic treatise written by Vatsyayana (c. 2nd century AD – c.4th century AD), recommended that a cultivated and wealthy man should surround his house with a garden.
The garden would be under the care of his wife who would dictate the layout of the garden and its planting, while the physical labour was left to professional gardeners. The Kamasutra spoke of pleasure gardens and practical gardens and was specific about what should be planted in the gardens. The practical garden had to include beds of green vegetables, sugarcane, fig trees, mustard, parsley and fennel. The great goddess Kamakshi of Tamil Nadu is portrayed in art holding in her four hands lotus blossom, sugar cane stalks, elephant goad and noose.
Chocolates have been found good for health in moderation. They contain cocoa which is storehouse of thousands of chemicals which are good for human health.
It contains organic chemicals called poly-phenols. These chemicals have been proven to reduce the bad LDL Cholesterol and boosts HDL Cholesterol. This is good for our heart and arteries.
The benefits of these poly-phenols do not stop here. They are very active compounds and catch the free radicals which are very harmful to our body. Free radicals are atoms, compounds which have free unpaired electrons on them and are very reactive and can oxidize many useful compounds in the body and cause diseases like cancer, Alzheimer and other deadly diseases. These phenols render them ineffective and harmless.
Similarly chocolates contain a chemical called “Anadamide” which boost the mood and removes the gloominess. The name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Ananda” which means bliss.
Chocolate acts as a stimulant. It contains two compounds namely Caffeine and Theobromine which are stimulants. They also contain poly-phenols a class of chemicals called Catechins. These compounds help in reducing the risk of stroke in humans.
It contains Cortisol a chemical which boost the morale and reduces the stress levels. 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of chocolate per day for two weeks have been found to do the trick.
But chocolates have a downside to health. They contain a lot of sugar which is bad for health. Many other foods also contain many of these useful compounds but not as many are present in this single packaged. So in moderation chocolates are good for health.
Rice is the staple diet of majority of world’s population. Asian people mostly eat rice with vegetables and lentils. Annapurna is the Hindu god of rice. Her name comes from the Sanskrit word for rice, “anna”. She is often depicted with a rice spoon in her hand.
What is the rice? It’s white part is the carbohydrates: precursor of sugar of the energy. The colour of rice comes from its outer shell or ‘bran’ which holds much of its nutritional value. It’s the bran or the coating which contains minerals and other micronutrients.
When rice is processed (milled) much of the nutritional value is lost when the bran is removed. The result is pure white rice which is high in energy(starch) and low in micronutrients. Polished rice are not good for the diabetic people.
Because milled rice has lots of energy but few vitamins and minerals, it must be eaten with other foods to get a proper people balanced diet.
At present there are 118 elements listed in the periodic table. Some of these elements are commonly found on the earth in the form of ores. Some are radioactive and have very short half lives. Many such elements have been synthesized in the laboratory and live for a very short time.
Human body like other things existing is made of compounds which are made from the elements. Out of these 118 only some elements are connected with the human body. Although elements as such don’t make up the body it is the combined form that is molecules constitute the human body. But elemental composition is as follows by mass.
Other elements: 4%
Other elements include Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Sodium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Boron, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Fluorine, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Selenium, Silicon, Tin, Vanadium and Zinc. Although these elements are used in very minor amount, they are crucial to some body processes. These are micronutrients.
An element can perform one or many functions in the body. Elements roles are defined as follows:
The main building blocks of the body are proteins which are synthesized from amino acids. For these elements used are Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Phosphorus and Sulphur. DNA also contains these elements except Sulphur. DNA is the genetic code which encodes the instructions.
Enzymes are chemicals which are catalysts for carrying out chemical reactions like breakdown of sugars and other macro molecules. Such enzymes use some elements like Magnesium, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Molybdenum. Enzymes play role in respiration, digestion, metabolism and immune system.
Nerves and Control
Brain sends messages to different parts of the body and this is a two way communication. Electrical signals are carried through electrolytic solutions like brines. Sodium, Potassium and Calcium ions this play the role of transmitting the signals. Similarly Chloride ions regulate the water in and out of cells. Iodine is used to make hormones which regulate metabolism.
Bones and Teeth
Bones make the template on which our body is hoisted. Strong bones and teeth are essential for the healthy body. Bones and Teeth are made of Calcium and phosphate. Phosphate contains Phosphorus and Oxygen. Manganese element makes more stronger and resistance to breaking.
Blood is the lifeline of the body. Blood carries oxygen to the cells and removes the carbon-dioxide gas which is the byproduct of combustion reaction. Oxygen is carried by blood due to the presence of iron which binds the Oxygen. Other elements which are constituents of blood are Carbon, Oxygen, Iron and Cobalt. Cobalt is essential to make red blood cells.
Respiration and Energy
Respiration is inhalation of Oxygen. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is formed during respiration which is the compound used by body as energy. Main elements involved here are Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Oxygen. Most prominent sources of energy are Carbohydrates and Fats which contain Carbon, hydrogen and Oxygen elements.
Source: c&en magazine of American Chemical Society (ACS)
Annus mirabilis is a Latin phrase that means “wonderful year”, “miraculous year” or “amazing year”. This term was originally used to refer to the year 1666, and today is used to refer to several years during which events of major importance are remembered.
Albert Einstein singlehandedly added 1905 as another Annus Mirabilis. In this year, his creativity peaked and he made the revolutionary scientific discoveries. He was just 26 years old. During that year he did:
March: Proved that the light consists of photons thus proving the quantum nature of the light.
May: Proved the existence of the atom.
June: Special Theory of Relativity, which forced the laws of motion by another great physicist Newton as the corollary with the objects moving at lower speeds.
November: The most conscise and beautiful equation relating mass and energy. Proving that mass and energy are two names of the same thing. That enormous amounts of energy are condensed to make small amounts of mass. In other words, enormous amounts of energy are contained in the mass.