The Blog

Curious Case of The Sex Reversed Insects

Curious Case of The Sex Reversed Insects

They say there is nothing new under the sun. But consider this newly discovered genus Neotrogla with four insect species, in the caves of Brazil. The females have the equivalent of the penis; the males have a cavity like the vagina.   Now, wait a minute. Did the researchers simply mislabel the specimens you ask? In biological terms, the female has the bigger gametes — larger, more expensive to produce energy-wise, stationary eggs vs small motile sperm — and is almost always the one who […]



An Avian Villain Does Good — Sometimes

An Avian Villain Does Good — Sometimes

Great spotted cuckoos, found all along southern Europe during breeding season, are notoriously lazy parents. They lay eggs in the nests of unsuspecting carrion crows, which raise them alongside their own, and at their expense — or so we believed. Researchers in Spain report an unexpected finding in Science this week: cuckoo hatchlings, in fact, confer protection on the entire brood. Each spring, on average, the crow lays five eggs and doesn’t seem to worry about an egg or two the cuckoo might’ve snuck in. […]



The Odd Couple

In 1963, the first of these novels featuring an old married couple was serialized in the Tamil weekly Kumudham and has entertained fans ever since. The writer was Bhagyam Ramasami and the  illustrator Jayraj. Sita Patti [full name: Sitalakshmi Appusamy], the madisar-clad sixty-plus bombshell, is the president of a ladies club called PMK (Patti Munetra Kazhagam). “Sita, the trouble-shooter” is the agony-aunt, columnist for a glossy periodical. Patti cracks the daily The Hindu crossword well before noon. She peppers every sentence with English words, in true Madras socialite-style. Gita Patti, the “ugly rustic” down the street, is […]



Women Sharing Space

Women Sharing Space

This is of Ajay Palvayanteeswaran’s pet theories:  No two Indian girl graduate students can get along as roommates. Sometimes, he would extrapolate it to all Indians in general or any two women. “It is not a sexist statement,” he would add. “In fact, it works in favor of all males. We should divide and conquer.” Sylvia Earle The stereotype about women being not being able to live amicably under one roof brings me to the story of  an oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle. In 1969, […]



Three Smart Bras

Three Smart Bras

Did the Wonder Woman’s bra confer any special protection on her? Was it good for anything more than, you know, the usual? I am not well up enough on my superhero comics  to know the answer to this question, but here are three added-values bras I heard of recently. Smart Bra for Early Cancer Detection Turn 40 and mammographs will become a part of your annual physical — if you are a woman on a decent healthcare plan. One hates to complain about a medical […]



An Interpreter of Interesting Research

An Interpreter of Interesting Research

No news story has written itself for me, thus far. This is not a complaint, it is a boast. As a science journalist, I work hard to file good articles, or copy as we say in the business. I translate jargon into narrative for a living.  I have to coax intelligible sentences out of some very smart scientists, so I, in turn, can make sense to my readers. Even in a short news item, I hope to convey: why the research is being done, what […]



First Female Desi Grad Student ?

First Female Desi Grad Student ?

                              In ‘lot 216-A’ of the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, New York, there is a tombstone with the inscription.”Anandibai Joshee 1865 — 1887. First Brahmin woman to leave India to obtain an education.” Joshee earned a medical degree to serve her people but died before putting her training in America to use. Still, she was the first Indian woman to enter the American higher education system. In 1883, she sailed from Calcutta […]