Photosynthesis- Earth's Life Support System

According to the geological history, photosynthesis is thought have occurred roughly 3.5 billion years ago.

Dead Zone

Death of fisheries due to uncontrolled algal growth leads to 'dead zones'. U.S. waters have the largest dead zones off the Mississippi delta.

Gingko: a not-so-safe herbal medicine for Epilepsy

Scientific evidences show that G. biloba may increase the risk of seizures in people with epilepsy.

The Science behind weight loss

You can add 20-plus great years to your life by making simple lifestyle changes.

Dealing with public toddler tantrumms

Tips which will help you lower down the frequency of such mortifying episodes.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Benefits of Turfgrass

Turfgrass, also known as sod is a type of grass that is produced through an intensive agricultural operation and is removed intact with a minimum amount of soil. It is further transplanted to another location to form an instant turf cover. Turfgrass sod is used to produce a quick and easy weed-free turfgrass area. It is made from fields in the form of rolls that is nearly 2 to 3 m long and have a width of 0.5 m. Turfgrass is an environmental asset and its market mainly caters to the housing industry. It is used to create soccer fields, golf courses, parks and lawns.

Benefits of Turfgrass- Aesthetic, Functional and Recreational

Turfgrass sod offers many environmental, economic, health and social benefits. It enhances the property value by adding to the visual appeal, improves community pride and provides a good and comfortable living space.
Environmental Benefits-
  • Soil Erosion Control-
Turfgrass sod is the most durable and inexpensive ground cover and prevents the natural and non-renewable soil resource from getting eroded by water and wind. A sodded field has greater absorption and retention ability and can therefore hold the rainwater more effectively than any other seeded lawn, even after years of growth. It acts as a natural filter and allows greater protection against water percolation through the soil turfgrass ecosystem.
  • Pollution control-
Turfgrass traps and removes dirt and dust which are released per year into the atmosphere. It also absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. Dead or living turfgrass debris containing bacterial populations can produce billions of colonies of organisms. Turfgrass can then degrade trapped organic chemicals and pesticides.
  • Natural Coolant-
Turfgrass has tremendous cooling effect. It cools the air on hot summer days more efficiently than other grass fields, and even cleans the air. Additionally, the cooling effect of watered turfgrass field outside the house reduces the amount of fuel needed to provide electricity that is used for air conditioners. When irrigated, turfgrass utilizes every drop of water very efficiently and effectively.
Recreational Benefits-
Aside from aesthetics, turf provides a natural and resilient setting for both recreational activities as well as a peaceful relaxing space. It is an ideal place for playing, organizing picnic or for relaxing.
Health Benefits-
Turfgrass also has an impact on our physical and mental health. It adds to the beauty of our surroundings. Research shows that patient recovery is enhanced if they are exposed to landscape view, rather than the walls of the hospital.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Alternatives to Pool Chemicals

Chemicals that help in keeping pools clean and transparent can also cause serious damage or injury to both human beings and the environment, if used improperly. Substituting hazardous chemicals with less toxic alternatives for cleaning the water in pools helps in reducing or eliminating our exposure of these chemicals. However, extreme care should be taken while choosing the right alternatives for the swimming pool. One must always check for the risks of the alternative to the employees, environment and for the damage to equipment and facilities.
Natural Alternatives to Pool Chemicals
Water when oxidized, produces ozone, which is a strong disinfectant. Ozone is one of the safest purifier that is extensively used in many drinking water systems. For oxidation, a generator is installed outside the pool that utilizes either ultraviolet light or electricity.
The process of gaining or losing electrons from an atom is called ionization. An ionic water purifier unleashes copper and silver to kill bacteria and stop algae growth. During the process, water molecules are converted into ions from the infusion of small amounts of these natural minerals. Copper and silver ions dispense from cartridges that are put into the filter of the pool or solar devices that float on the water. It eliminates the need to use pool chemicals and could turn out to be cheaper than chemical alternatives in the long run. It is also an automated system and therefore does not require to be tested for chemicals on a regular basis.
Salt water
Using common salt in swimming pools is not a new practice, though its use as a water purifier is only now starting to gain recognition. Here, table salt is to be used in very negligible proportions. When electrolyzed, it breaks down, resulting in a more natural, bacteria, virus and algae-free water. The process repeats itself and the chlorine present in the salt reconverts back to salt. Given the self-cleaning property of saltwater, it needs no other purifier or chemicals. Also, it is one of the most eco-friendly alternatives available.
Sonic waves
Particular sound waves have the ability to kill harmful algae and contaminants. A relatively new concept, sonic wave cleaning system works by placing a device under water that emits a complex system of sound waves resulting in breaking of algae cells.
Purifying Plants
Some plants can purify the pool water by creating a natural filter. They enrich the water with oxygen and supporting beneficial bacteria, which in turn feed on the potentially harmful organisms and deprive algae of nutrition. One can convert a traditional swimming pool to this natural alternative by landscaping around the pool.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Commercial Electrical Tools

Electricity is an essential commodity supporting the modern lifestyle. Many types of electrical tools and appliances are available in the market today, which help people become more effective in their work or make lives more comfortable. However, while using any such equipment, whether at home or commercially, care should be taken that direct exposure to electricity be avoided, lest it may harm or even potentially become fatal. A repository of toolkit that is available to an electrical worker today therefore necessarily has to be safe and insulated, while also helping in the realization of productivity and efficiency gains. Some such commercial electrical tools (such as an insulated screwdriver, multi-purpose electrical wiring tool, wire stripper or cable ripper) are discussed in further detail below.
Examples of commercial electrical tools
1. Insulated screwdriver
Insulated screwdriver, also sometimes referred to as electrician insulated screwdrivers, are used for insertion and tightening of screws. An insulated screwdriver typically will have a dielectric substance that separates the tip of the screwdriver from its handle. Being a bad conductor of electricity, this dielectric substance protects the worker from getting an electric shock. OSHA standards ensure that these insulated screwdrivers when exposed to an electrical alternating current of 1000 volts- and may even rise to 10,000 volts- are safe to handle.
Typically, insulated screwdriver handles have two layers of insulation, each with a different color, so that they can easily be recognized. These handles are both inflammable and shock-proof.
2. Multi-purpose electrical wiring tool
As the name suggests, this tool was invented with the objective of making a multi-purpose hand tool, which can be used for gripping, bending, pulling, stripping, shearing and cutting electrical wires. This compact equipment contains needle-nose pliers-like jaws, handles and other tool elements which are arranged in such a manner that the size of the tool can be reduced when it is not in use.
3. Wire stripper
A wire stripper is a hand held electrical device which is used for cutting the insulation (plastic coating) from the electrical wires. The end portions of the opened wire need to be stripped when the electrical work is done. The wire stripper consists of holes which are smaller in size than the diameter of the wire (of the same size as the wire gauze). This ensures cutting the insulation without damaging the core of the wire. Therefore, a wire stripper cannot work on too thick or too thin wires. There are two types of strippers available in the market- manual and automatic.
4. Cable ripper
A low-tech tool, cable ripper is a simple U-shaped metal tool which has a cutting head for cutting through the heavy plastic casing that holds several wires within it. These wires, in turn, are coated with another thin layer of insulator. When there are several wires within the plastic insulator (cable), the individual wires need to be loosened and separated from each other so that they can be attached to an electric outlet.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chemicals to terminate Pond Chemicals

Water bodies support life to a large number of creatures and microorganisms. Different types of chemicals are used to keep them clean and free from contaminants. Water “features” such as swimming pools and fish ponds harbor a lot of harmful organisms and chemicals, like pond algae and pond weed, organic matter and sludge, ammonia, chlorine and phosphates. Algae are very small organisms that can turn the water cloudy and can form scum over the surface, thus blocking sunlight to penetrate through the water. They may also release certain toxins which can pose serious threat to humans, fish and plants. Cloudy, turbid and unhygienic water may harbor disease-causing bacteria (E. coli and giardia), virus and chlorine-resistant germs such as cryptosporidium. These invaders can cause severe illness outbreak.
Chemicals used to clean pond water
Algaecide is a very fast and efficient way to get rid of algae and cynobacteria (red/green slime) from the pond water and swimming pools. Regular use of these algaecides lessens the deposition of plant material that may clog the filter and pump of the pond, thus increasing the lifespan of the pond filter system. Three types of algaecides are available in the market-
  • Copper salts- are very effective algaecides and used in ponds to prevent and kill algae formation. However, regular copper usage can precipitate pool water, thus staining the walls of the pond.
  • Quats- are one of the cheapest and largest selling algaecide. They are quaternary ammonium salts that act as surfactants by lowering the surface tension of water resulting in algae cell wall rupture, and finally death. Quats cause foaming on pond surface and are generally used as a preventative measure for algal growth.
  • Polyquats- are non-foaming algaecides. They are very effective against green algae, chlorine-resistant mustard algae and black algae.
However, there are certain limitations to the use of algaecide. Most algaecides require them to be added to water at specific concentrations and may cause serious harm to fishes, swimmers and aquatic livestock, if used improperly. Ponds with high flow-through rate can rapidly dilute or flush away the algicide, thus rendering it ineffective. Also, algaecide is a much expensive option than other environment-friendly pond chemical alternatives.
Water clarifiers
Water clarifiers, sometimes also referred to as water polishers, work on particulates such as silt, organic matter, algae, oils, lotions and metals. They are a type of polymer (large molecule composed of repeating structural units connected by covalent bonds) with a positive ionic charge. Suspended particulates are mostly negatively charged and therefore, get attracted to the positive ends of the polymers (Coagulation). This leads to formation of large, filterable particles. Accumulation of these large filterable particles results in the formation of much larger aggregated clusters (Flocculation). A water clarifier must be able to remove both oil and the organic matter from the water, by working through a complete process of coagulation and flocculation. This unique combined action helps in exceptional filtering of these particles, leaving the pool or pond water clean and transparent.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Harmful effects of Ionic Silver Hydrosol

Silver has been known to have magical antibacterial action since the days of yore. Ability of the biologically active silver ion (Ag+) to irreversibly damage key enzyme systems in the cell membranes of the pathogens, gives it its antiseptic properties. Ionic Silver Hydrosol (also known as colloidal silver), as the name suggests, is a suspension of silver ions in distilled water; and is used as herbicide for effectively eliminating bacteria as well as viruses.
However, many consumers and physicians are concerned about the potential side effects and drug interactions of this increasingly popular supplement.
Adverse Reactions of Ionic Silver Hydrosol
Dermatological Reactions
Large accumulation of colloidal silver in the skin and mucous membranes leads to an irreversible condition called argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin.
Neurological Reactions
Application of silver nitrate gels on burns can cause methemoglobinemia. Further, its high concentration can also lead to systemic toxicity; and in some other cases may also cause seizures and severe kidney damage.
Reactions with other antibiotics
Colloidal silver can also react with sulfhydryl groups of certain enzymes (to form hemisilver sulfides), thus rendering them ineffective. When taken orally, silver interacts with and reduces the potency of certain antibiotics like tetracycline, quinolone, and penicillamine.
Other effects
Development abnormalities in the foetus have also been reported in cases when colloidal silver was administered during pregnancy. It is also believed to cause arteriosclerosis (hardening of arteries), and may eventually lead to myocardial infarction.
How unsafe is Ionic Silver Hydrosol?
Even while we talk about the possible adverse effects of Ionic Silver Hydrosol consumption, it may be prudent to point out that small doses – that can mostly be taken as supplements - are not necessarily bad for health, but as pointed earlier, may even be beneficial given the antiseptic and healing properties of silver. Infact, body reacts appropriately to even marginally higher dosage by excreting the excess silver and it is only beyond a certain level of accumulation that the harmful effects start appearing.
How much is too much?
In the above context, it may be useful to note what the acceptable level of silver dosage is, when administered orally. This stands at between 5 to 14 µ-gm/day per kg weight of an adult (as published by EPA). Based on this estimate, an average person (weighing about 70 kg) and drinking 2 lt of water in a day is likely to intake about 200 µ-gm of silver, while her typical daily diet would have another 90 µ-gm.
As can therefore be easily concluded, the daily requirement of silver dosage is nearly met through water intake and a normal diet consisting of natural resources. Given this, one should take into account that while silver is not necessarily bad for health if consumed in moderation, the case for taking Colloidal Silver supplements may be a weak one – and infact may even have adverse effects, if taken in excess!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Health Hazards of Plastic Bottles

For years, plastic bottles have been an integral part of our daily life. However, it is only recently that the scientific community has started deliberating over the side-effects of chemicals used in their manufacture; and in turn study the effects of how they may interfere with the liquids they carry. This has led to scientific evidence that suggests that ingredients such as bisphenol A (also known as BPA) in these plastic containers mimics the female sex hormone, estradiol.
What is BPA?
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a high production volume chemical used in manufacturing polycarbonate plastic and several types of resins. It is widely used in synthesis of a variety of products; such as food and drink containers, CDs, DVDs, electrical and electronic equipment, automobiles, sports safety equipment, etc. BPA can be found everywhere - from printer ink and recycled paper to the lining of soda cans and dental sealants. It is infact so pervasive that it is present in thousands of products other than plastic bottles.

Why are Plastic Bottles a health threat?

Sexual Disorders
BPA is often clinically classified as a xenoestrogen, as it is believed to be mimicking the naturally occurring estrogen hormone in females. BPA thus poses a potent health threat as it upsets the natural hormonal balance in humans. This can lead to sexual disorders like early puberty, breast tumor and fertility problems related to generation of non-viable eggs or low motility sperms.
Physiological Disorders
Recent research suggests that even low levels of exposure to BPA can cause serious health problems such as obesity, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities, and also impairing the natural growth of humans and in certain cases, even having carcinogenic effects.
Effect on Child Health
The health risks posed by BPA do not however stop there! Certain other studies suggest that bisphenol A can lead to neurological problem in children. From having adverse effects on pregnancy to causing disorders and impaired growth in the developing foetus, BPA can have a lasting health impact on our future generations as well!

How to protect yourself from BPA?

While it may be quite difficult to show BPA the door, one can try to be more cautious by avoiding it in containers used for food and drink. Plastic water bottles are infact the biggest source of BPA. If one is really wondering about how to avoid exposure to these chemicals, invest in a simple filter and voilá – you get a healthy drinking water solution without being exposed to BPA. Also, one should avoid using plastic food containers marked on the bottom with the recycling (a triangle) label No. 7; they may contain bisphenol A. Also, plastics with recycling labels No. 1, 2 and 4 do not contain BPA.
Therefore, to be on the safer side, you may do well by banning the following:
· Plastic baby bottles and dishes
· Plastic containers in microwave ovens
· Old, scratched plastic dishes and containers
· Canned food and drinks
· Plastic wraps

Monday, October 7, 2013

Horse Show Jumping / Equestrian Sports

Horse jumping (also known as show jumping, stadium or jumpers) is an equestrian sport. Show jumping classes are very popular worldwide, and are also included in the Olympics (first incorporated in 1912). Over these years, show jumping has emerged as a graceful and entertaining equestrian sport and is also an excellent test of fitness, training and courage in a partnership between horse and rider.
Types of horse jumping competitions
Grand Prix
It is the highest level of show jumping, most challenging and has the maximum money at stake. The exhibitor clears 10-16 consecutive hurdles, running under FEI rules (Fédération Equestre Internationale). Grand Prix-level show jumping competitions are included in the Olympics, the World Equestrian Games, the World Cup Series and the Nations Cup Series. Grand Prix show jumping is also referred to as five-star Concours de Saut International (CSI) rules.
Steeplechase has got its name from 18th century Ireland, where it began as an addition to cross-country races that ran from one church steeple to another. In 1810 in Bedlam, UK, the first steeplechase was held over a prepared track with fences.
Puissance is a high- jump competition where obstacles consist of a short row of fences and ending in a final puissance wall, which may be taller than 7 feet. After the course of fences in completed, the horse and rider pair moves to the next round where the wall is raised further.
Six bar
In this type of show jumping, the rider has to jump 6 bars set in a straight line. After each level, the heights of the bars are raised, making subsequent runs even more difficult for the rider and the horse. Horses get penalized or dropped out from the competition, if they knock down a bar.
Gambler’s choice / Accumulator
It is a show jumping competition where horse riders choose their course, and are rewarded with points based on the levels of the difficulty. The pair that earns the maximum number of points in the allocated time wins the competition.
Calcutta is a jumping event where the viewers can bet on the winning odds of their chosen horses. The highest bidding has an exclusive bet on a specific horse.
Maiden, novice and limit
For horses that have had relatively lesser number of wins, an easier jumping event may be conducted with lenient time limits and lower fences. These events are called maiden, novice and limit for lesser than one, three and six wins respectively.
Match race or double slalom
Here, two parallel courses are prepared so that two studs can compete against each other.
Touch class
This is a similar event to the normal show jumping competition, with one exception being a severe penalty (of counting four faults for each time the horse touches the hurdle).
False converted
False converted is a type of competition where any fault is converted into seconds on the clock (generally at the rate of 1 second per fault).

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Disadvantages of Flash BIOS

BIOS is an acronym for the ‘Basic Input Output System’, and it resides on the motherboard of a computer, therefore persisting even when the computer is turned off. It is one of the most crucial components in the system, giving instructions regarding all the actions that a computer can perform, without accessing any other file or program. Without the BIOS, or if the BIOS is corrupted, a computer will not start (or ‘boot’, as it is technically called).
Why Flash BIOS?
When manufacturers launch a new motherboard, it is also generally accompanied with a new BIOS version. However, since technology advancements are relatively quick and new products could be launching every few weeks, upgrading to a new system as quickly is not feasible. An alternative to this is to upgrade the BIOS instead, so as to enhance system capabilities and improve stability. This process of upgrading is called flashing the BIOS. As the BIOS program is written on the persisted memory of the computer, it will however not be possible to flash the BIOS unless it is an EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable Read Only Memory).
While the utility of flash BIOS is its ability to easily get upgraded, without opening or discarding the computer system, there are clear disadvantages in using this method of update and should be avoided to the extent possible.
Disadvantages of Flash BIOS
Susceptibility to malware
Flash BIOS can be susceptible to computer virus attacks that are extremely damaging, as the malicious code can potentially exploit the feature of flashing the BIOS to install malicious software and irreversibly damage the system. Further, BIOS malware can spread through platforms and motherboards of many different makes and even has the potential to spread not only via various operating systems but also by different hardware. This makes it a very serious security threat, and also as much more difficult, although not impossible, to guard against them.
Vulnerability of the flash process
However, by far the biggest risk of using the flash BIOS for upgrading the computer system is the vulnerability of the process itself. Even if no deliberate harm is intended, but an unprecedented event like a power outage occurs while the BIOS is being flashed, it can still get corrupted. System can also be corrupted if an incorrect update (or BIOS image, as it is technically called) is flashed onto the motherboard. In either of these scenarios, the computer system in all likelihood will not even boot, and is therefore rendered useless with a very remote possibility of any recovery.
More recent versions of BIOS have however started to include warnings or even self-recovery procedures in case of some such eventualities. This gives some respite from the above issues but it is strongly advised in most technical documentation to not flash the system BIOS unless it is absolutely unavoidable, and to still do it under expert technical supervision.