Archive for May, 2012

275/365 – Bicycle Facts

In 1817, Karl von Drais, a German baron, invented a horseless carriage that would help him get around faster. The two-wheeled, pedal-less device was propelled by pushing your feet against the ground, The machine became known as the “draisine,” and led to the creation of the modern-day bicycle.

The term “bicycle” was not introduced until the 1860s, when it was coined in France to describe a new kind of two-wheeler with a mechanical drive.

Orville and Wilbur Wright, the brothers who built the first flying airplane, operated a small bike repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. They used their workshop to build the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Fred A. Birchmore, 25, circled the globe by bicycle in 1935. The entire trip, through Europe, Asia, and the United States, covered forty thousand miles. He pedaled about 25,000 miles. The rest was traveled by boat. He wore out seven sets of tires.

There are over a half billion bicycles in China. Bikes were first brought to China in the late 1800s.

About 100 million bicycles are manufactured worldwide each year.

Over the past 30 years, bicycle delivery services have developed into an important industry, especially in cities, where the couriers have earned a reputation for their high speed and traffic-weaving skills.

Americans use their bicycles for less than one percent of all urban trips. Europeans bike in cities a lot more often—in Italy 5 percent of all trips are on bicycle, 30 percent in the Netherlands, and seven out of eight Dutch people over age 15 have a bike.

The Tour de France is one of the most famous bicycle races in the world. Established in 1903, it is considered to be the biggest test of endurance out of all sports. Lance Armstrong, an American cyclist, is the only rider to have won seven titles (1999–2005) after surviving cancer.

Bicycle Moto Cross (BMX), an extreme style of bicycle track racing, became a sport in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Maris Strombergs, of Latvia, received the gold medal for Men’s BMX, and Anne-Caroline Chausson, from France, took home the gold in the first Women’s BMX Olympic event.



274/365 – cockroaches

1.There’s nothing more disgusting among the insects than cockroaches. Of the world’s 4,000 species, only 30 species live in our household. The house infesting species vary from the 3 cm (1.2 in) long American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (really nasty seeing it around the house), to the 1.5 cm (0.6 in) long German cockroach, Blattella germanica. But tropical forest cockroaches can be really huge insects, up to 9 cm (3.6 in) long! (what a relief they do not prefer our houses…). And these are pygmies compared to cockroaches that lived 250 million years ago, before the dinosaurs: 50 cm (1 ft 8 in) long!

2.Cockroaches are really persistent and so hardy that researchers found they were the only organisms that could survive in an area after atomic experiments, except for scorpions!

3.A 2007 Japanese research found that cockroaches have memory enabling them to form Pavlovian reflexes (learning)! The researchers taught cockroaches to salivate in response to neutral stimuli like the Russian scientist Pavlov did a century ago with dogs. Forming conditioned reflexes requires memory and learning capacity, abilities linked to intelligence, and this kind of salivating response was previously proven only in humans, apes, dogs and other mammals.

4.Try to catch a cockroach and you will see it is almost impossible. On their flanks cockroaches have small hairs that detect the slightest movement of the air caused by approaching animals as well as their direction. This, combined with an extremely rapid nervous system, enables the cockroaches to have reflexes and reactions measured in hundredths of seconds when running. High speed cameras revealed they can run with 1 m (3.3 ft)/s (it’s like you moving with 140 m (470 ft)/s) and can change direction 25 times per second! No animal has such well developed orientation behavior and can change direction with such a frequency!

5.Even if termites are called “white ants”, they have nothing to do with the real ants (which are in fact a type of wasps). Despite their extremely complicated social structure and behavior inside their enormous colonies and the fact that they are able to build magnificent clay nests, they are in fact related to the detested cockroaches. DNA proved it! The most primitive termites are Mastotermes in northwestern Australia and close islands. They make nests in dead wood and resemble cockroaches. Their sperm has 100 flagella, a record in the animal world!

6.A recently developed toy designed by Jose Halloy, a social ecologist at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium could get us rid of cockroaches. The toy is car-shaped, because even if cockroaches perceive light very well, they recognize each other by smell. The tiny cars were wrapped in cockroach-scented paper, but were programmed to act somehow according to the type of behavior manifested by groups of cockroaches investigated in a test arena. Cockroaches like darkness and they linger there, even longer if a few other individuals are already under this shelter.

That’s why most cockroaches usually gather under a single shelter, even when other similar shelters nearby are empty. The robots were programmed to linger under the brighter shelter and they influenced the cockroaches to do the same twice as often as they would normally do.


Categories: General Knowledge

273/365 – HAL

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) based in Bangalore, India, is one of Asia’s largest aerospace companies. Under the management of the Indian Ministry of Defence, this state-owned company is mainly involved in aerospace industry, which includes manufacturing and assembling aircraft, navigation and related communication equipment, as well as operating airports.

HAL built the first military aircraft in South Asia and is currently involved in the design, fabrication and assembly of aircraft, jet engines, and helicopters, as well as their components and spares.

It has several facilities throughout India including Nasik, Korwa, Kanpur, Koraput, Lucknow, Bangalore and Hyderabad. The German engineer Kurt Tank designed the HF-24 Marut fighter-bomber, the first fighter aircraft made in India.

Hindustan Aeronautics has a long history of collaboration with several other international and domestic aerospace agencies such as Airbus, Boeing, Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, Israel Aircraft Industries, RSK MiG, BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce plc, Dassault Aviation, Dornier Flugzeugwerke, the Indian Aeronautical Development Agency and the Indian Space Research Organisation.


HAL was established as Hindustan Aircraft in Bangalore in 1940 by Walchand Hirachand to produce military aircraft for the Royal Indian Air Force.

The initiative was actively encouraged by the Kingdom of Mysore, especially by the Diwan, Sir Mirza Ismail and it also had financial help from the Indian Government. Mysore was favoured because of the availability of cheap electricity.

The organisation and equipment for the factory at Banglore was set up by William D. Pawley of the Intercontinental Aircraft Corporation of New York, an exporter of American aircraft to the region. Pawley managed to obtain a large number of machine-tools and equipment from the United States.


HAL is one of the largest aerospace companies in Asia with its annual turnover to be running above US$2 billion. More than 40% of HAL’s revenues come from international deals to manufacture aircraft engines, spare parts, and other aircraft materials.


272/365 – S P Adithanar

Born: 27 September 1905, Kayamozhi, Tamil Nadu, India

Died: 24 May 1981 Political

party: Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party, We Tamils party and  Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

Spouse: Govindammal

Relations: K. P. Kandasamy (Son-in-Law), K. P. K. Kumaran (Grandson)

Children: Sivanthi Adithan, Ramachandra Adithan and One Daughter

Occupation: Publisher

Si. Balasubramania Adithan a.K.a. Si. Ba. Adithan , popularly called as Adithanar, was a Tamil lawyer, politician, minister and founder of the Tamil daily newspaper Dina Thanthi.

He was the founder of the We Tamils party and served as the member of the Madras Legislative Council for two terms and as the member of the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly for four terms.

He was the Speaker of the Assembly during 1967-68 and Tamil Nadu’s minister for Cooperation in the M. Karunanidhi cabinets of 1969 and 1971.

In his memory, two Tamil literary awards have been created and are awarded annually by his son, Sivanthi Adithan (the present Director of the Dina Thanthi group).

We Tamils party  

In 1958, Adithan founded the “We Tamils” (WT) party with the platform of forming a sovereign Tamil state. The party’s stand was more radical than the Dravida Nadu demand of Periyar E. V. Ramasamy’s Dravidar Kazhagam.

It wanted the creation of a homogeneous Tamil state incorporating Tamil speaking areas of India and Sri Lanka. The party’s headquarters was named as Tamiḻaṉ Illam (lit. The Home of the Tamilian).

In 1960, the party organized statewide protests for the secession of Madras and the establishment of a sovereign Tamil Nadu. The protests were marked by the burning of maps of India (with Tamil Nadu left out).

Adithanar was arrested for organizing them. The party along with M. P. Sivagnanam’s Tamil Arasu Kazhagam was also involved in the movement to change the name of the state from Madras State to Tamil Nadu.

Adithan lost the 1962 election from Tiruchendur and got himself elected to the Legislative Council in 1964. The WT contested the 1967 election as an ally of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) under the DMK’s “Rising Sun” symbol.

It elected four members to the Assembly, including Adithan, who won from Srivaikuntam. The party merged with the DMK in 1967.


271/365 – Avocado

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable.

There are more than 500 avocado varieties.

Avocados are native to Central and South America, where they have been cultivated for over 10,000 years.

Another name for the avocado is the “alligator pear,” so-called because of its alligator skin texture and pear shape.

Spanish explorers could not pronounce ahuacatl, so they called the avocado aguacate. This is the origin of the word guacamole.

The origin of guacamole is the Aztec avocado sauce called ahuaca-hulli.

The Hass is the most common avocado in the United States and is the only avocado grown year round.

The average avocado contains 300 calories and 30 grams of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat.

Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit.

Avocados contain more potassium than bananas.

One avocado contains 81 mcg of lutein, an important nutrient for healthy eyes.

Once an avocado is picked, it takes between 7 and 10 days to ripen. Keeping it in the refrigerator will slow down the ripening process, while putting it in a paper bag with a ripe apple will speed up the process.


Categories: Facts, Food

270/365 – Porcupine

The porcupine is the prickliest of rodents, though its Latin name means “quill pig.” There are about two dozen porcupine species, and all boast a coat of needle-like quills to give predators a sharp reminder that this animal is no easy meal.

Some quills, like those of Africa’s crested porcupine, are nearly a foot (30 centimeters) long.

Porcupines have soft hair, but on their back, sides, and tail it is usually mixed with sharp quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention as a persuasive deterrent.

Porcupines cannot shoot them at predators as once thought, but the quills do detach easily when touched.

Many animals come away from a porcupine encounter with quills protruding from their own snouts or bodies. Quills have sharp tips and overlapping scales or barbs that make them difficult to remove once they are stuck in another animal’s skin. Porcupines grow new quills to replace the ones they lose.

The porcupines found in North and South America are good climbers and spend much of their time in trees. Some even have prehensile (gripping) tails to aid in climbing.

The North American porcupine is the only species that lives in the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest of all porcupines. A single animal may have 30,000 or more quills.

North American porcupines use their large front teeth to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood. They eat natural bark and stems, and have been known to invade campgrounds and chew on canoe paddles.

North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds.

Other porcupine species live in Africa, Europe, and Asia. These animals usually live on the ground and can inhabit deserts, grasslands, and forests.

Female porcupines have between one and four young, depending on the species. Babies have soft quills at birth, which harden within a few days. Most young porcupines are ready to live on their own at about two months of age.


Categories: Uncategorized

269/365 – Air India

Air India is the flag carrier airline of India. It is part of the government of India owned Air India Limited (AIL). The airline operates a fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft serving Asia, Europe and North America.

Its corporate office is located at the Air India Building at Nariman Point in South Mumbai. Air India has two major domestic hubs at Indira Gandhi International Airport and Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

An international hub at Dubai International Airport is currently being planned.   Air India has the third largest share in India’s domestic air travel market, behind Jet Airways and IndiGo.

Following its merger with Indian Airlines, Air India has faced multiple problems, including escalating financial losses, discontent amongst employees, and poor customer service.

Between September 2007 and May 2011, Air India’s domestic market share declined from 19.2% to 14%, primarily due to stiff competition from private Indian carriers.

In August 2011, Air India’s invitation to join Star Alliance was suspended due to its failure to meet the minimum standards for the membership.

In October 2011, talks between the airline and Star Alliance have resumed. In April 2012, the Indian government granted another bailout package to Air India, including Rs300 billion ($5.8 billion) of subsidies.


Air India was founded by J. R. D. Tata in July 1932 as Tata Airlines, a division of Tata Sons Ltd. (now Tata Group). On 15 October 1932, J. R. D. Tata flew a single-engined De Havilland Puss Moth carrying air mail from Karachi’s Drigh Road Aerodrome to Bombay’s Juhu Airstrip via Ahmedabad.

The aircraft continued to Madras via Bellary piloted by former Royal Air Force pilot Nevill Vintcent. In 1932 Air India was based out of a hut with a palm thatched roof at Juhu Aerodrome and had 1 pilot and 2 apprentice mechanics along with 2 piston engined aircraft, one Puss Moth and one Leopard Moth aircraft.


Air India has three subsidiaries. Together Air India, Air India Cargo, Air India Express and Air India Regional form the Air India Limited.

The company’s head office is in the Air India Building in Nariman Point, Mumbai. The registered office is in the Airlines House in New Delhi.