Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 8 November 2009





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

Shrimp's eye points way to better DVDs

LONDON - The amazing eyes of a giant shrimp living on Australia's Great Barrier Reef could hold the key to developing a new type of super high-quality DVD player, British scientists said on Sunday, October 25.

Mantis shrimps have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom.

Mantis shrimps, dubbed "thumb splitters" by divers because of their vicious claws, have the most complex eyes in the animal kingdom.

They can see in 12 primary colours, four times as many as humans, and can also detect different kinds of light polarisation - the direction of oscillation in light waves.

Now a team at the University of Bristol have shown how the shrimps do it, using remarkable light-sensitive cells that rotate the plane of polarisation in light as it travels through the eye.

Manmade devices do a similar thing in DVD and CD players, but they only work well for one colour, while the shrimp's eye operates almost perfectly across the whole visible spectrum from near ultra-violet to infra-red.

Transferring the same multi-colour ability into a DVD player would result in a machine capable of handling far more information than a conventional one.

"The mechanism we have found in this eye is unknown to human synthetic devices. It works much, much better than any attempts that we've made to construct a device," researcher Nicholas Roberts told Reuters.

He believes the "beautifully simple" eye system, comprising cell membranes rolled into tubes, could be mimicked in the lab using liquid crystals.

Details of the mantis shrimp research were published in the journal Nature Photonics.

Just why the mantis shrimp needs such a rarefied level of vision is unclear, although researchers suspect it is to do with food and reproduction.

Courtesy: Reuters

'Freezer plan' bid to save coral

The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples to preserve them for the future. A meeting in Denmark took evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place.

Scientists proposed storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen. That will allow them to be reintroduced to the seas in the future if global temperatures can be stabilised. Legislators from 16 major economies have been meeting in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, to try to agree the way forward on climate change. The meeting has been organised by the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment (Globe). Losing the fight.

One of the issues they have been considering is what to do with coral reefs, which make up less than a quarter of 1 per cent of the ocean's floor. Yet the reefs are a key source of food, income and coastal protection for around 500 million people worldwide. At this meeting, politicians and scientists acknowledged that global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising so fast that we are losing the fight to save coral and the world must develop an alternative plan. Freezing samples for the future may be a necessary option.

"Well it's the last ditch effort to save biodiversity from the reefs which are extremely diverse systems," said Simon Harding from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).

"It would take other work to try and reconstruct the reef so that you can start the process of building up a reef again," he said.

"That is something that needs to be looked at in detail, but we can definitely store the species and save them in that way."

According to recent research, one of the world's most important concentrations of coral - the so-called Coral Triangle in South East Asia - could be destroyed by climate change before the end of this century with significant impacts on food security and livelihoods.

Courtesy: BBC News

Pen - pal corner


Name: L.L. Sandali Suhara Alwis

Gender: Female

Age: 13

School: Pandura Balika MV,

Hobbies: Reading story books, watching TV, listening to the radio and music, playing chess

Pen-pals preferred from: Sri Lanka, America, India, Australia, Japan, France, USA, UK

Age group: 13-20

Address: 125/A, Patagiwata, Morontuduwa, Sri Lanka.


Name: Nirogini Suntharalingam

Gender: Female

Age: 12

School: J/Periyapulam Maha Vidyalam

Hobbies: Watching TV, reading books, drawing, listening to music and playing netball

Pen-pals preferred from: Any country

Age group: 12-15

Address: No. 1169 KKS Road, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.


Name:Halwala Kankanamge Prarthana Srimali

Gender: Female

Age: 16

Hobbies: Reading novels, watching TV, gardening, listening to music

Pen-pals preferred from: China, India, England or Australia

Age group: 16-18

Address: Kanahintota, Miriswaththa, Bentota, Sri Lanka.


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