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Astronomy: More of astronomical parlance

Astronomy: More of astronomical parlance

WE shall begin from where we left off. The Big Crunch, interesting as it was, it sent us spinning through the roof! However, there is yet more to come. Einstein (1879-1955), besides being a legitimate, big time physicist of the highest order, was a philosopher of the first order. He was in his twenties when he came upon that earth-shaking paper that changed the world of thought and perception, science and technology. Thus we continue …

Binary star: A binary, as the word suggests, is a double star system where two stars, or a star and a black hole are bound together gravitationally, that is they revolve, or spin around each other. Not just two but there may be three, or even four stars locked together in an ominous gravitational embrace. In either case, a substantial amount of star material must exchange their places with one another. And the possibility of these star systems to have a planetary system (like the Solar System) of their own is faint, rather unlikely; for the conditions for their formation are denied to them by the violent activity on the surface of the parent stars.

Biodegradable: Some items in today’s world are degradable, while others are not. We shall see how.

It is the action of decaying of an item through the corrosive action of living organism. It is the ability of a compound to be absorbed by the environment by natural, or biochemical processes. An example is paper. When it is discarded to a landfill it will eventually decompose. After some time nothing would be found where once paper was, except tattered shreds at first and nothing at all a little later. Opposite to that is plastic, cellophane, PVC, in most cases iron or steel or similar material that natural processes just cannot help degrade. A thousand years later they would still be found where first placed; perhaps rusted but very much there.

You can, on your own think of such things which belong to this category or that. We ought to be very careful when throwing such material into water bodies like canals, rivers, seas, lakes etc., in fact, such refuse as has to be discarded must never be consigned into these waters. For the fish and other aquatic living beings have as much right to live as we have. In any case, water or beaches are their country.

When discarding refuse we must immediately decide whether the material is biodegradable or not. Then dispose it of accordingly.

Biological clock: The inbuilt biological mechanism guiding the periodicity, or time dependent behaviour in living organisms.

In us, humans, it is the biological clock that controls the natural rhythm of life. Plants respond to their natural clocks when they open or close their petals. All spices of life have clocks that regulate their metabolisms in a 24-hour/day-night cycle called a circadian rhythm.

A glaring example is our long distance travel; we upset our internal biological clock since we have difficulty matching our activities with those of the locals (after we have flown across many time zones).

Our internal timer dictates our bodies that it is time to be sleeping while everybody else is wide awake and working. When we go against this work of nature, our hormonal secretions do not match our activities and we feel tired and disinterested and inefficient. When this happens we say that we are suffering from jet lag.

Biomass: The weight, or volume of all living things in a given geographical (I mean, physical area occupied by it). It is a measure of abundance of life, both plant and animal, that a particular area can support. Often used in reference to organic plant matter that is available for conversion into fuel which is a measure of potential energy source available for utilisation.

In today’s rough-and-tumble world it is considered important for us humans so that body-mass is not allowed to accumulate, nor decrease in alarming proportion round the body.

More about science in the next issue. Meanwhile, think about what you have read, remember it and use the knowledge thus gained.

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