Mimicking the energy efficient C4 photosynthesis could be a solution, but we are not there yet

Waste handling is a necessary evil. Not every bit of what we buy from shops is useful. Take fresh food for example. We separate waste matter such as vegetable skins from the useful. Some waste materials are biodegradable that we distinguish from other waste and put in compost bins. The absolute waste then goes into the council bins. All this takes our energy and time that we could better use in cooking. We don’t realise it that much in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But our efficiency of doing useful things is reduced because of such wasteful activities.

Cooperation needs to be celebrated more

Richard Dawkins once admitted that his book The Selfish Gene, arguably the most influential science book after Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, should better have had the title The Immortal Gene. He argued that genes carry the same information in copies for millions of years and hence are immortal. Another title that he thought would have worked equally well is The Cooperative Gene. Yet what we are stuck with is The Selfish Gene. Such is the power of title that some, particularly among those who haven’t read the book, might think that it is about selfishness. By Dawkins’ own…

Plans, toolkits and materials of life forms

I was watching a sixties movie last week. Halfway through the black-and-white classic I remembered having heard from my father’s mouth that this was an outstanding movie. I was surprised that I had that insignificant and meaningless (to me then) one sentence film review in my memory because I must have been under 10 then. The movie really was very well made. It wasn’t a popular movie then and isn’t remembered much now either. It suited my taste and style though. I asked myself if I had acquired that taste from my father. This could be my wishful thinking. Yet…

What happens to life when the body dies

“Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell”
- John Donne (1572–1631) on Death

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

I live in a 35 years old house. It is showing signs of ageing. Some doors do not operate as smoothly as before. Ceiling walls have layers peeling at places. Insulation is not effective anymore. The worst thing is that the house is no longer energy efficient. Something needs to be done. We discuss options. I bring up demolishing the house and building a new one. Though not the preferred option, we do not mind it either…

The big picture of megacities

A busy intersection in Tokyo

Are Cities Worth Their Existence? This was the title of one of my shelved articles. Current crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, which mainly impacted urban population, made me revisit the article. I was fired up by a friend’s social media post highlighting the irony that stoppage of non-essential businesses had started slowing down the economy. So has the economy been running mostly on non-essential activities? That’s worrisome.

I scanned my old article to see if it still was of any relevance. It was a review of pros and cons of the idea of CBD — central business district —…

Life’s long march to uninhabitable land

We are most comfortable on land. Oceans are like alien worlds that we cross to arrive at another chunk of land. To us therefore land is the real earth that is alive. We have even put a price on every piece of land around us calling it the real estate. However, not only did life not start on the land, but the continents were entirely devoid of life forms for some seven-eighth of the time life has been on our planet. Life’s invasion of continents is a geologically recent phenomenon.

Come to think of it, water being so intimately associated…

We protect ourselves by wearing clothes, sleeping inside, applying various substances on our body, following hygienic practices and taking medication. Yet these are mere additional measures. Our greatest security cover is our immunity. Because the most dreadful things that still get inside are minuscule biological entities. Viruses for instance.

Our immune system has tools to identify a biological entity as a foreign element. Basically, it knows its own molecular constituents very well and marks anything that does not match the pattern as “non-self”. Once a non-self entity is recognized, response follows and that’s when we feel the symptoms of sickness…

Avoid? Am I kidding myself? Oxygen means so much to us. Yet in the larger context of biosphere, it not only is harmful, but is rather toxic to many bacteria — the dominant life form on Earth. To survive, life must avoid any toxic substance.

The earliest bacteria lived deep in the ocean floor. The Earth was free from oxygen molecules back then. Atmosphere was a mixture of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. It was all peaceful some three billion years ago. Then some adventurous bacteria invented a machinery to harness sunlight for making stored energy. We know the process by…

Stuffed it up or not, we certainly have left prominent mark on the Earth. The human factor in shaping our planet on a global scale is now widely recognised. As a formal acknowledgement of this recent impact, scientists want baptising of a new geological time scale unit — Anthropocene epoch. The problem lies in the scale. A few hundred years don’t quite make up the thinnest of bars to properly stand out on a displayable chart depicting the Earth’s 4.6 billion years of history. There are some who want the entire Holocene (the official latest epoch starting 11,700 years ago)…

Australian biosphere has recently seen the worst of times. Unprecedented number of lives has been affected. Institutions have been shaken during the holiday season. Policy makers, administrative bodies, climate change lobbies, education institutes, healthcare providers, business houses — all had to consider the catastrophe on a scale they were not prepared for. A bit of blame game is not unexpected in the circumstances.

Many point finger at (human) arsonists. Surely they exhibited inhuman behaviour during tragic times. …

Abhijit Deonath

Writer, scientist, filmmaker, executive… basically a creative explorer; contact abhijit AT abhijitdeonath DOT com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store