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PAPER 2002

Q.1 Write short notes on any two of the following : 5 each
a. Acid Rain b. pesticides c endocrine system

(a) Acid Rain

Acid Rain, form of air pollution in which airborne acids produced by electric utility plants and other sources fall to Earth in distant regions. The corrosive nature of acid rain causes widespread damage to the environment. The problem begins with the production of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides from the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas, and oil, and from certain kinds of manufacturing. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides react with water and other chemicals in the air to form sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and other pollutants. These acid pollutants reach high into the atmosphere, travel with the wind for hundreds of miles, and eventually return to the ground by way of rain, snow, or fog, and as invisible “dry” forms.

Damage from acid rain has been widespread in eastern North America and throughout Europe, and in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia. Acid rain leaches nutrients from soils, slows the growth of trees, and makes lakes uninhabitable for fish and other wildlife. In cities, acid pollutants corrode almost everything they touch, accelerating natural wear and tear on structures such as buildings and statues. Acids combine with other chemicals to form urban smog, which attacks the lungs, causing illness and premature deaths.

The process that leads to acid rain begins with the burning of fossil fuels. Burning, or combustion, is a chemical reaction in which oxygen from the air combines with carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and other elements in the substance being burned. The new compounds formed are gases called oxides. When sulfur and nitrogen are present in the fuel, their reaction with oxygen yields sulfur dioxide and various nitrogen oxide compounds. In the United States, 70 percent of sulfur dioxide pollution comes from power plants, especially those that burn coal. In Canada, industrial activities, including oil refining and metal smelting, account for 61 percent of sulfur dioxide pollution. Nitrogen oxides enter the atmosphere from many sources, with motor vehicles emitting the largest share—43 percent in the United States and 60 percent in Canada.

Once in the atmosphere, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides undergo complex reactions with water vapor and other chemicals to yield sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and other pollutants called nitrates and sulfates. The acid compounds are carried by air currents and the wind, sometimes over long distances. When clouds or fog form in acid-laden air, they too are acidic, and so is the rain or snow that falls from them.

Acid pollutants also occur as dry particles and as gases, which may reach the ground without the help of water. When these “dry” acids are washed from ground surfaces by rain, they add to the acids in the rain itself to produce a still more corrosive solution. The combination of acid rain and dry acids is known as acid deposition.


The acids in acid rain react chemically with any object they contact. Acids are corrosive chemicals that react with other chemicals by giving up hydrogen atoms. The acidity of a substance comes from the abundance of free hydrogen atoms when the substance is dissolved in water. Acidity is measured using a pH scale with units from 0 to 14. Acidic substances have pH numbers from 1 to 6—the lower the pH number, the stronger, or more corrosive, the substance. Some nonacidic substances, called bases or alkalis, are like acids in reverse—they readily accept the hydrogen atoms that the acids offer. Bases have pH numbers from 8 to 14, with the higher values indicating increased alkalinity. Pure water has a neutral pH of 7—it is not acidic or basic. Rain, snow, or fog with a pH below 5.6 is considered acid rain.

When bases mix with acids, the bases lessen the strength of an acid (see Acids and Bases). This buffering action regularly occurs in nature. Rain, snow, and fog formed in regions free of acid pollutants are slightly acidic, having a pH near 5.6. Alkaline chemicals in the environment, found in rocks, soils, lakes, and streams, regularly neutralize this precipitation. But when precipitation is highly acidic, with a pH below 5.6, naturally occurring acid buffers become depleted over time, and nature’s ability to neutralize the acids is impaired. Acid rain has been linked to widespread environmental damage, including soil and plant degradation, depleted life in lakes and streams, and erosion of human-made structures.

A Soil
In soil, acid rain dissolves and washes away nutrients needed by plants. It can also dissolve toxic substances, such as aluminum and mercury, which are naturally present in some soils, freeing these toxins to pollute water or to poison plants that absorb them. Some soils are quite alkaline and can neutralize acid deposition indefinitely; others, especially thin mountain soils derived from granite or gneiss, buffer acid only briefly.

B Trees
By removing useful nutrients from the soil, acid rain slows the growth of plants, especially trees. It also attacks trees more directly by eating holes in the waxy coating of leaves and needles, causing brown dead spots. If many such spots form, a tree loses some of its ability to make food through photosynthesis. Also, organisms that cause disease can infect the tree through its injured leaves. Once weakened, trees are more vulnerable to other stresses, such as insect infestations, drought, and cold temperatures.

Spruce and fir forests at higher elevations, where the trees literally touch the acid clouds, seem to be most at risk. Acid rain has been blamed for the decline of spruce forests on the highest ridges of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States. In the Black Forest of southwestern Germany, half of the trees are damaged from acid rain and other forms of pollution.

C Agriculture
Most farm crops are less affected by acid rain than are forests. The deep soils of many farm regions, such as those in the Midwestern United States, can absorb and neutralize large amounts of acid. Mountain farms are more at risk—the thin soils in these higher elevations cannot neutralize so much acid. Farmers can prevent acid rain damage by monitoring the condition of the soil and, when necessary, adding crushed limestone to the soil to neutralize acid. If excessive amounts of nutrients have been leached out of the soil, farmers can replace them by adding nutrient-rich fertilizer.

D Surface Waters
Acid rain falls into and drains into streams, lakes, and marshes. Where there is snow cover in winter, local waters grow suddenly more acidic when the snow melts in the spring. Most natural waters are close to chemically neutral, neither acidic nor alkaline: their pH is between 6 and 8. In the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, the water in some lakes now has a pH value of less than 5 as a result of acid rain. This means they are at least ten times more acidic than they should be. In the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, a quarter of the lakes and ponds are acidic, and many have lost their brook trout and other fish. In the middle Appalachian Mountains, over 1,300 streams are afflicted. All of Norway’s major rivers have been damaged by acid rain, severely reducing salmon and trout populations.

E Plants and Animals
The effects of acid rain on wildlife can be far-reaching. If a population of one plant or animal is adversely affected by acid rain, animals that feed on that organism may also suffer. Ultimately, an entire ecosystem may become endangered. Some species that live in water are very sensitive to acidity, some less so. Freshwater clams and mayfly young, for instance, begin dying when the water pH reaches 6.0. Frogs can generally survive more acidic water, but if their supply of mayflies is destroyed by acid rain, frog populations may also decline. Fish eggs of most species stop hatching at a pH of 5.0. Below a pH of 4.5, water is nearly sterile, unable to support any wildlife.

Land animals dependent on aquatic organisms are also affected. Scientists have found that populations of snails living in or near water polluted by acid rain are declining in some regions. In The Netherlands songbirds are finding fewer snails to eat. The eggs these birds lay have weakened shells because the birds are receiving less calcium from snail shells.

F Human-Made Structures
Acid rain and the dry deposition of acidic particles damage buildings, statues, automobiles, and other structures made of stone, metal, or any other material exposed to weather for long periods. The corrosive damage can be expensive and, in cities with very historic buildings, tragic. Both the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, are deteriorating due to acid pollution.

G Human Health
The acidification of surface waters causes little direct harm to people. It is safe to swim in even the most acidified lakes. However, toxic substances leached from soil can pollute local water supplies. In Sweden, as many as 10,000 lakes have been polluted by mercury released from soils damaged by acid rain, and residents have been warned to avoid eating fish caught in these lakes. In the air, acids join with other chemicals to produce urban smog, which can irritate the lungs and make breathing difficult, especially for people who already have asthma, bronchitis, or other respiratory diseases. Solid particles of sulfates, a class of minerals derived from sulfur dioxide, are thought to be especially damaging to the lungs.

H Acid Rain and Global Warming
Acid pollution has one surprising effect that may be beneficial. Sulfates in the upper atmosphere reflect some sunlight out into space, and thus tend to slow down global warming. Scientists believe that acid pollution may have delayed the onset of warming by several decades in the middle of the 20th century.

Acid rain can best be curtailed by reducing the amount of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released by power plants, motorized vehicles, and factories. The simplest way to cut these emissions is to use less energy from fossil fuels. Individuals can help. Every time a consumer buys an energy-efficient appliance, adds insulation to a house, or takes a bus to work, he or she conserves energy and, as a result, fights acid rain.

Another way to cut emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides is by switching to cleaner-burning fuels. For instance, coal can be high or low in sulfur, and some coal contains sulfur in a form that can be washed out easily before burning. By using more of the low-sulfur or cleanable types of coal, electric utility companies and other industries can pollute less. The gasoline and diesel oil that run most motor vehicles can also be formulated to burn more cleanly, producing less nitrogen oxide pollution. Clean-burning fuels such as natural gas are being used increasingly in vehicles. Natural gas contains almost no sulfur and produces very low nitrogen oxides. Unfortunately, natural gas and the less-polluting coals tend to be more expensive, placing them out of the reach of nations that are struggling economically.

Pollution can also be reduced at the moment the fuel is burned. Several new kinds of burners and boilers alter the burning process to produce less nitrogen oxides and more free nitrogen, which is harmless. Limestone or sandstone added to the combustion chamber can capture some of the sulfur released by burning coal.

Once sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen have been formed, there is one more chance to keep them out of the atmosphere. In smokestacks, devices called scrubbers spray a mixture of water and powdered limestone into the waste gases (flue gases), recapturing the sulfur. Pollutants can also be removed by catalytic converters. In a converter, waste gases pass over small beads coated with metals. These metals promote chemical reactions that change harmful substances to less harmful ones. In the United States and Canada, these devices are required in cars, but they are not often used in smokestacks.

Once acid rain has occurred, a few techniques can limit environmental damage. In a process known as liming, powdered limestone can be added to water or soil to neutralize the acid dropping from the sky. In Norway and Sweden, nations much afflicted with acid rain, lakes are commonly treated this way. Rural water companies may need to lime their reservoirs so that acid does not eat away water pipes. In cities, exposed surfaces vulnerable to acid rain destruction can be coated with acid-resistant paints. Delicate objects like statues can be sheltered indoors in climate-controlled rooms.
Cleaning up sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides will reduce not only acid rain but also smog, which will make the air look clearer. Based on a study of the value that visitors to national parks place on clear scenic vistas, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency thinks that improving the vistas in eastern national parks alone will be worth $1 billion in tourist revenue a year.

A National Legislation
In the United States, legislative efforts to control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides began with passage of the Clean Air Act of 1970. This act established emissions standards for pollutants from automobiles and industry. In 1990 Congress approved a set of amendments to the act that impose stricter limits on pollution emissions, particularly pollutants that cause acid rain. These amendments aim to cut the national output of sulfur dioxide from 23.5 million tons to 16 million tons by the year 2010. Although no national target is set for nitrogen oxides, the amendments require that power plants, which emit about one-third of all nitrogen oxides released to the atmosphere, reduce their emissions from 7.5 million tons to 5 million tons by 2010. These rules were applied first to selected large power plants in Eastern and Midwestern states. In the year 2000, smaller, cleaner power plants across the country came under the law.
These 1990 amendments include a novel provision for sulfur dioxide control. Each year the government gives companies permits to release a specified number of tons of sulfur dioxide. Polluters are allowed to buy and sell their emissions permits. For instance, a company can choose to reduce its sulfur dioxide emissions more than the law requires and sell its unused pollution emission allowance to another company that is further from meeting emission goals; the buyer may then pollute above the limit for a certain time. Unused pollution rights can also be "banked" and kept for later use. It is hoped that this flexible market system will clean up emissions more quickly and cheaply than a set of rigid rules.
Legislation enacted in Canada restricts the annual amount of sulfur dioxide emissions to 2.3 million tons in all of Canada’s seven easternmost provinces, where acid rain causes the most damage. A national cap for sulfur dioxide emissions has been set at 3.2 million tons per year. Legislation is currently being developed to enforce stricter pollution emissions by 2010.
Norwegian law sets the goal of reducing sulfur dioxide emission to 76 percent of 1980 levels and nitrogen oxides emissions to 70 percent of the 1986 levels. To encourage cleanup, Norway collects a hefty tax from industries that emit acid pollutants. In some cases these taxes make it more expensive to emit acid pollutants than to reduce emissions.

B International Agreements
Acid rain typically crosses national borders, making pollution control an international issue. Canada receives much of its acid pollution from the United States—by some estimates as much as 50 percent. Norway and Sweden receive acid pollutants from Britain, Germany, Poland, and Russia. The majority of acid pollution in Japan comes from China. Debates about responsibilities and cleanup costs for acid pollutants led to international cooperation. In 1988, as part of the Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Agreement sponsored by the United Nations, the United States and 24 other nations ratified a protocol promising to hold yearly nitrogen oxide emissions at or below 1987 levels. In 1991 the United States and Canada signed an Air Quality Agreement setting national limits on annual sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants and factories. In 1994 in Oslo, Norway, 12 European nations agreed to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 87 percent by 2010.

Legislative actions to prevent acid rain have results. The targets established in laws and treaties are being met, usually ahead of schedule. Sulfur emissions in Europe decreased by 40 percent from 1980 to 1994. In Norway sulfur dioxide emissions fell by 75 percent during the same period. Since 1980 annual sulfur dioxide emissions in the United States have dropped from 26 million tons to 18.3 million tons. Canada reports sulfur dioxide emissions have been reduced to 2.6 million tons, 18 percent below the proposed limit of 3.2 million tons.

Monitoring stations in several nations report that precipitation is actually becoming less acidic. In Europe, lakes and streams are now growing less acid. However, this does not seem to be the case in the United States and Canada. The reasons are not completely understood, but apparently, controls reducing nitrogen oxide emissions only began recently and their effects have yet to make a mark. In addition, soils in some areas have absorbed so much acid that they contain no more neutralizing alkaline chemicals. The weathering of rock will gradually replace the missing alkaline chemicals, but scientists fear that improvement will be very slow unless pollution controls are made even stricter.

(c)Endocrine System

Q.2 Differentiate between any five of the following pairs :

a) rotation and revolution of earth
As Earth revolves around the Sun, it rotates, or spins, on its axis, an imaginary line that runs between the North and South poles. The period of one complete rotation is defined as a day and takes 23 hr 56 min 4.1 sec. The period of one revolution around the Sun is defined as a year, or 365.2422 solar days, or 365 days 5 hr 48 min 46 sec. Earth also moves along with the Milky Way Galaxy as the Galaxy rotates and moves through space. It takes more than 200 million years for the stars in the Milky Way to complete one revolution around the Galaxy’s center.

Earth’s axis of rotation is inclined (tilted) 23.5° relative to its plane of revolution around the Sun. This inclination of the axis creates the seasons and causes the height of the Sun in the sky at noon to increase and decrease as the seasons change. The Northern Hemisphere receives the most energy from the Sun when it is tilted toward the Sun. This orientation corresponds to summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere receives maximum energy when it is tilted toward the Sun, corresponding to summer in the Southern Hemisphere and winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Fall and spring occur in between these orientations.

(b) Monocot and dicot plants

Dicots, popular name for dicotyledons, one of the two large groups of flowering plants. A number of floral and vegetative features of dicots distinguish them from the more recently evolved monocotyledons (see Monocots), the other class of flowering plants. In dicots the embryo sprouts two cotyledons, which are seed leaves that usually do not become foliage leaves but serve to provide food for the new seedling.

Flower parts of dicots are in fours or fives, and the leaves usually have veins arranged in a reticulate (netlike) pattern. The vascular tissue in the stems is arranged in a ring, and true secondary growth takes place, causing stems and roots to increase in diameter. Tree forms are common. Certain woody dicot groups (see Magnolia) exhibit characteristics such as large flowers with many unfused parts that are thought to be similar to those of early flowering plants. About 170,000 species of dicots are known, including buttercups, maples, roses, and violets.

Scientific classification: Dicots make up the class Magnoliopsida, in the phylum Magnoliophyta.

Monocots, more properly monocotyledons, one of two classes of flowering plants (see Angiosperm). They are mostly herbaceous and include such familiar plants as iris, lily, orchid, grass, and palm. Several floral and vegetative features distinguish them from dicots, the other angiosperm class. These features include flower parts in threes; one cotyledon (seed leaf); leaf veins that are usually parallel; vascular tissue in scattered bundles in the stem; and no true secondary growth.

Monocots are thought to have evolved from some early aquatic group of dicots through reduction of various flower and vegetative parts. Among living monocot groups, one order (see Water Plantain) contains the most primitive monocots. About 50,000 species of monocots are known—about one-third the number of dicot species.

Scientific classification: Monocots make up the class Liliopsida of the phylum Magnoliophyta. The most primitive living monocots belong to the order Alismatales.

(d) Umbra and penumbra

1. partial shadow: a partial outer shadow that is lighter than the darker inner shadow umbra, e.g. the area between complete darkness and complete light in an eclipse
2. indeterminate area: an indistinct area, especially a state in which something is unclear or uncertain
3. periphery: the outer region or periphery of something
4. ASTRONOMY edge of sunspot: a grayish area surrounding the dark center of a sunspot

1. PHYSICS complete shadow: an area of complete shadow caused by light from all points of a source being prevented from reaching the area, usually by an opaque object
2. ASTRONOMY darkest part on moon or Earth: the darkest portion of the shadow cast by an astronomical object during an eclipse, especially that cast on Earth during a solar eclipse
3. ASTRONOMY dark part of sunspot: the inner, darker area of a sunspot
The earth, lit by the sun, casts a long, conical shadow in space. At any point within that cone the light of the sun is wholly obscured. Surrounding the shadow cone, also called the umbra, is an area of partial shadow called the penumbra. The approximate mean length of the umbra is 1,379,200 km (857,000 mi); at a distance of 384,600 km (239,000 mi), the mean distance of the moon from the earth, it has a diameter of about 9170 km (about 5700 mi).

(e) Nucleus and nucleolus

Nucleus (atomic structure)
Nucleus (atomic structure), in atomic structure, the positively charged central mass of an atom about which the orbital electrons revolve. The nucleus is composed of nucleons, that is, protons and neutrons, and its mass accounts for nearly the entire mass of the atom.

Nucleolus, structure within the nucleus of cells, involved in the manufacture of ribosomes (cell structures where protein synthesis occurs). Each cell nucleus typically contains one or more nucleoli, which appear as irregularly shaped fibers and granules embedded in the nucleus. There is no membrane separating the nucleolus from the rest of the nucleus.

The manufacture of ribosomes requires that the components of ribosomes—ribonucleic acid (RNA) and protein—be synthesized and brought together for assembly. The ribosomes of eukaryotic cells contain four strands of RNA and from 70 to 80 proteins. Using genes that reside on regions of chromosomes located in the nucleolus, three of the four ribosomal RNA strands are synthesized in the center of the nucleolus. The fourth RNA strand is synthesized outside of the nucleolus, using genes at a different location. The fourth strand is then transported into the nucleolus to participate in ribosome assembly.

The genetic information for ribosomal proteins, found in the nucleus, is copied, or transcribed, into special chemical messengers called messenger RNA (mRNA), a different type of RNA than ribosomal RNA. The mRNA travels out of the nucleus into the cell’s cytoplasm where its information is transferred, or translated, into the ribosomal proteins. The newly created proteins enter the nucleolus and bind with the four ribosomal RNA strands to create two ribosomal structures: the large and small subunits. These two subunits leave the nucleus and enter the cytoplasm. When protein synthesis is initiated, the two subunits merge to form the completed ribosome.

The nucleolus creates the two subunits for a single ribosome in about one hour. Thousands of subunits are manufactured by each nucleolus simultaneously, however, since several hundred to several thousand copies of the ribosomal RNA genes are present in the nucleolus. Before a cell divides, the nucleolus assembles about ten million ribosomal subunits, necessary for the large-scale protein production that occurs in cell division.

(f) Heavy water and Hard water

Q#3raw a labeled diagram of human eye, indicating all essential parts, discuss its working


Eye (anatomy), light-sensitive organ of vision in animals. The eyes of various species vary from simple structures that are capable only of differentiating between light and dark to complex organs, such as those of humans and other mammals, that can distinguish minute variations of shape, color, brightness, and distance. The actual process of seeing is performed by the brain rather than by the eye. The function of the eye is to translate the electromagnetic vibrations of light into patterns of nerve impulses that are transmitted to the brain.

The entire eye, often called the eyeball, is a spherical structure approximately 2.5 cm (about 1 in) in diameter with a pronounced bulge on its forward surface. The outer part of the eye is composed of three layers of tissue. The outside layer is the sclera, a protective coating. It covers about five-sixths of the surface of the eye. At the front of the eyeball, it is continuous with the bulging, transparent cornea. The middle layer of the coating of the eye is the choroid, a vascular layer lining the posterior three-fifths of the eyeball. The choroid is continuous with the ciliary body and with the iris, which lies at the front of the eye. The innermost layer is the light-sensitive retina.

The cornea is a tough, five-layered membrane through which light is admitted to the interior of the eye. Behind the cornea is a chamber filled with clear, watery fluid, the aqueous humor, which separates the cornea from the crystalline lens. The lens itself is a flattened sphere constructed of a large number of transparent fibers arranged in layers. It is connected by ligaments to a ringlike muscle, called the ciliary muscle, which surrounds it. The ciliary muscle and its surrounding tissues form the ciliary body. This muscle, by flattening the lens or making it more nearly spherical, changes its focal length.

The pigmented iris hangs behind the cornea in front of the lens, and has a circular opening in its center. The size of its opening, the pupil, is controlled by a muscle around its edge. This muscle contracts or relaxes, making the pupil larger or smaller, to control the amount of light admitted to the eye.
Behind the lens the main body of the eye is filled with a transparent, jellylike substance, the vitreous humor, enclosed in a thin sac, the hyaloid membrane. The pressure of the vitreous humor keeps the eyeball distended.
The retina is a complex layer, composed largely of nerve cells. The light-sensitive receptor cells lie on the outer surface of the retina in front of a pigmented tissue layer. These cells take the form of rods or cones packed closely together like matches in a box. Directly behind the pupil is a small yellow-pigmented spot, the macula lutea, in the center of which is the fovea centralis, the area of greatest visual acuity of the eye. At the center of the fovea, the sensory layer is composed entirely of cone-shaped cells. Around the fovea both rod-shaped and cone-shaped cells are present, with the cone-shaped cells becoming fewer toward the periphery of the sensitive area. At the outer edges are only rod-shaped cells.

Where the optic nerve enters the eyeball, below and slightly to the inner side of the fovea, a small round area of the retina exists that has no light-sensitive cells. This optic disk forms the blind spot of the eye.

In general the eyes of all animals resemble simple cameras in that the lens of the eye forms an inverted image of objects in front of it on the sensitive retina, which corresponds to the film in a camera.

Focusing the eye, as mentioned above, is accomplished by a flattening or thickening (rounding) of the lens. The process is known as accommodation. In the normal eye accommodation is not necessary for seeing distant objects. The lens, when flattened by the suspensory ligament, brings such objects to focus on the retina. For nearer objects the lens is increasingly rounded by ciliary muscle contraction, which relaxes the suspensory ligament. A young child can see clearly at a distance as close as 6.3 cm (2.5 in), but with increasing age the lens gradually hardens, so that the limits of close seeing are approximately 15 cm (about 6 in) at the age of 30 and 40 cm (16 in) at the age of 50. In the later years of life most people lose the ability to accommodate their eyes to distances within reading or close working range. This condition, known as presbyopia, can be corrected by the use of special convex lenses for the near range.

Structural differences in the size of the eye cause the defects of hyperopia, or farsightedness, and myopia, or nearsightedness. See Eyeglasses; Vision.

As mentioned above, the eye sees with greatest clarity only in the region of the fovea; due to the neural structure of the retina. The cone-shaped cells of the retina are individually connected to other nerve fibers, so that stimuli to each individual cell are reproduced and, as a result, fine details can be distinguished. The rodshaped cells, on the other hand, are connected in groups so that they respond to stimuli over a general area. The rods, therefore, respond to small total light stimuli, but do not have the ability to separate small details of the visual image. The result of these differences in structure is that the visual field of the eye is composed of a small central area of great sharpness surrounded by an area of lesser sharpness. In the latter area, however, the sensitivity of the eye to light is great. As a result, dim objects can be seen at night on the peripheral part of the retina when they are invisible to the central part.

The mechanism of seeing at night involves the sensitization of the rod cells by means of a pigment, called visual purple or rhodopsin, that is formed within the cells. Vitamin A is necessary for the production of visual purple; a deficiency of this vitamin leads to night blindness. Visual purple is bleached by the action of light and must be reformed by the rod cells under conditions of darkness. Hence a person who steps from sunlight into a darkened room cannot see until the pigment begins to form. When the pigment has formed and the eyes are sensitive to low levels of illumination, the eyes are said to be dark-adapted.

A brownish pigment present in the outer layer of the retina serves to protect the cone cells of the retina from overexposure to light. If bright light strikes the retina, granules of this brown pigment migrate to the spaces around the cone cells, sheathing and screening them from the light. This action, called light adaptation, has the opposite effect to that of dark adaptation.

Subjectively, a person is not conscious that the visual field consists of a central zone of sharpness surrounded by an area of increasing fuzziness. The reason is that the eyes are constantly moving, bringing first one part of the visual field and then another to the foveal region as the attention is shifted from one object to another. These motions are accomplished by six muscles that move the eyeball upward, downward, to the left, to the right, and obliquely. The motions of the eye muscles are extremely precise; the estimation has been made that the eyes can be moved to focus on no less than 100,000 distinct points in the visual field. The muscles of the two eyes, working together, also serve the important function of converging the eyes on any point being observed, so that the images of the two eyes coincide. When convergence is nonexistent or faulty, double vision results. The movement of the eyes and fusion of the images also play a part in the visual estimation of size and distance.

Several structures, not parts of the eyeball, contribute to the protection of the eye. The most important of these are the eyelids, two folds of skin and tissue, upper and lower, that can be closed by means of muscles to form a protective covering over the eyeball against excessive light and mechanical injury. The eyelashes, a fringe of short hairs growing on the edge of either eyelid, act as a screen to keep dust particles and insects out of the eyes when the eyelids are partly closed. Inside the eyelids is a thin protective membrane, the conjunctiva, which doubles over to cover the visible sclera. Each eye also has a tear gland, or lacrimal organ, situated at the outside corner of the eye. The salty secretion of these glands lubricates the forward part of the eyeball when the eyelids are closed and flushes away any small dust particles or other foreign matter on the surface of the eye. Normally the eyelids of human eyes close by reflex action about every six seconds, but if dust reaches the surface of the eye and is not washed away, the eyelids blink oftener and more tears are produced. On the edges of the eyelids are a number of small glands, the Meibomian glands, which produce a fatty secretion that lubricates the eyelids themselves and the eyelashes. The eyebrows, located above each eye, also have a protective function in soaking up or deflecting perspiration or rain and preventing the moisture from running into the eyes. The hollow socket in the skull in which the eye is set is called the orbit. The bony edges of the orbit, the frontal bone, and the cheekbone protect the eye from mechanical injury by blows or collisions.

The simplest animal eyes occur in the cnidarians and ctenophores, phyla comprising the jellyfish and somewhat similar primitive animals. These eyes, known as pigment eyes, consist of groups of pigment cells associated with sensory cells and often covered with a thickened layer of cuticle that forms a kind of lens. Similar eyes, usually having a somewhat more complex structure, occur in worms, insects, and mollusks.

Two kinds of image-forming eyes are found in the animal world, single and compound eyes. The single eyes are essentially similar to the human eye, though varying from group to group in details of structure. The lowest species to develop such eyes are some of the large jellyfish. Compound eyes, confined to the arthropods (see Arthropod), consist of a faceted lens, each facet of which forms a separate image on a retinal cell, creating a moasic field. In some arthropods the structure is more sophisticated, forming a combined image.

The eyes of other vertebrates are essentially similar to human eyes, although important modifications may exist. The eyes of such nocturnal animals as cats, owls, and bats are provided only with rod cells, and the cells are both more sensitive and more numerous than in humans. The eye of a dolphin has 7000 times as many rod cells as a human eye, enabling it to see in deep water. The eyes of most fish have a flat cornea and a globular lens and are hence particularly adapted for seeing close objects. Birds’ eyes are elongated from front to back, permitting larger images of distant objects to be formed on the retina.

Eye disorders may be classified according to the part of the eye in which the disorders occur.

The most common disease of the eyelids is hordeolum, known commonly as a sty, which is an infection of the follicles of the eyelashes, usually caused by infection by staphylococci. Internal sties that occur inside the eyelid and not on its edge are similar infections of the lubricating Meibomian glands. Abscesses of the eyelids are sometimes the result of penetrating wounds. Several congenital defects of the eyelids occasionally occur, including coloboma, or cleft eyelid, and ptosis, a drooping of the upper lid. Among acquired defects are symblepharon, an adhesion of the inner surface of the eyelid to the eyeball, which is most frequently the result of burns. Entropion, the turning of the eyelid inward toward the cornea, and ectropion, the turning of the eyelid outward, can be caused by scars or by spasmodic muscular contractions resulting from chronic irritation. The eyelids also are subject to several diseases of the skin such as eczema and acne, and to both benign and malignant tumors. Another eye disease is infection of the conjunctiva, the mucous membranes covering the inside of the eyelids and the outside of the eyeball. See Conjunctivitis; Trachoma.
Disorders of the cornea, which may result in a loss of transparency and impaired sight, are usually the result of injury but may also occur as a secondary result of disease; for example, edema, or swelling, of the cornea sometimes accompanies glaucoma.

The choroid, or middle coat of the eyeball, contains most of the blood vessels of the eye; it is often the site of secondary infections from toxic conditions and bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and syphilis. Cancer may develop in the choroidal tissues or may be carried to the eye from malignancies elsewhere in the body. The light-sensitive retina, which lies just beneath the choroid, also is subject to the same type of infections. The cause of retrolental fibroplasia, however—a disease of premature infants that causes retinal detachment and partial blindness—is unknown. Retinal detachment may also follow cataract surgery. Laser beams are sometimes used to weld detached retinas back onto the eye. Another retinal condition, called macular degeneration, affects the central retina. Macular degeneration is a frequent cause of loss of vision in older persons. Juvenile forms of this condition also exist.

The optic nerve contains the retinal nerve fibers, which carry visual impulses to the brain. The retinal circulation is carried by the central artery and vein, which lie in the optic nerve. The sheath of the optic nerve communicates with the cerebral lymph spaces. Inflammation of that part of the optic nerve situated within the eye is known as optic neuritis, or papillitis; when inflammation occurs in the part of the optic nerve behind the eye, the disease is called retrobulbar neuritis. When the pressure in the skull is elevated, or increased in intracranial pressure, as in brain tumors, edema and swelling of the optic disk occur where the nerve enters the eyeball, a condition known as papilledema, or chocked disk.

Eye banks are organizations that distribute corneal tissue taken from deceased persons for eye grafts. Blindness caused by cloudiness or scarring of the cornea can sometimes be cured by surgical removal of the affected portion of the corneal tissue. With present techniques, such tissue can be kept alive for only 48 hours, but current experiments in preserving human corneas by freezing give hope of extending its useful life for months. Eye banks also preserve and distribute vitreous humor, the liquid within the larger chamber of the eye, for use in treatment of detached retinas. The first eye bank was opened in New York City in 1945. The Eye-Bank Association of America, in Rochester, New York, acts as a clearinghouse for information.

Q.5 What is the solar system ? Indicate the position of planet pluto in it. State the characteristics that classify it as : (5,1,4)
a. a planet b. an asteroid

Solar System, the Sun and everything that orbits the Sun, including the nine planets and their satellites; the asteroids and comets; and interplanetary dust and gas. The term may also refer to a group of celestial bodies orbiting another star (see Extrasolar Planets). In this article, solar system refers to the system that includes Earth and the Sun.

The dimensions of the solar system are specified in terms of the mean distance from Earth to the Sun, called the astronomical unit (AU). One AU is 150 million km (about 93 million mi). The most distant known planet, Pluto, orbits about 39 AU from the Sun. Estimates for the boundary where the Sun’s magnetic field ends and interstellar space begins—called the heliopause—range from 86 to 100 AU.

The most distant known planetoid orbiting the Sun is Sedna, whose discovery was reported in March 2004. A planetoid is an object that is too small to be a planet. At the farthest point in its orbit, Sedna is about 900 AU from the Sun. Comets known as long-period comets, however, achieve the greatest distance from the Sun; they have highly eccentric orbits ranging out to 50,000 AU or more.

The solar system was the only planetary system known to exist around a star similar to the Sun until 1995, when astronomers discovered a planet about 0.6 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting the star 51 Pegasi. Jupiter is the most massive planet in our solar system. Soon after, astronomers found a planet about 8.1 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting the star 70 Virginis, and a planet about 3.5 times the mass of Jupiter orbiting the star 47 Ursa Majoris. Since then, astronomers have found planets and disks of dust in the process of forming planets around many other stars. Most astronomers think it likely that solar systems of some sort are numerous throughout the universe. See Astronomy; Galaxy; Star.

The Sun is a typical star of intermediate size and luminosity. Sunlight and other radiation are produced by the conversion of hydrogen into helium in the Sun’s hot, dense interior (see Nuclear Energy). Although this nuclear fusion is transforming 600 million metric tons of hydrogen each second, the Sun is so massive (2 × 1030 kg, or 4.4 × 1030 lb) that it can continue to shine at its present brightness for 6 billion years. This stability has allowed life to develop and survive on Earth.

For all the Sun’s steadiness, it is an extremely active star. On its surface, dark sunspots bounded by intense magnetic fields come and go in 11-year cycles and sudden bursts of charged particles from solar flares can cause auroras and disturb radio signals on Earth. A continuous stream of protons, electrons, and ions also leaves the Sun and moves out through the solar system. This solar wind shapes the ion tails of comets and leaves its traces in the lunar soil, samples of which were brought back from the Moon’s surface by piloted United States Apollo spacecraft.

The Sun’s activity also influences the heliopause, a region of space that astronomers believe marks the boundary between the solar system and interstellar space. The heliopause is a dynamic region that expands and contracts due to the constantly changing speed and pressure of the solar wind. In November 2003 a team of astronomers reported that the Voyager 1 spacecraft appeared to have encountered the outskirts of the heliopause at about 86 AU from the Sun. They based their report on data that indicated the solar wind had slowed from 1.1 million km/h (700,000 mph) to 160,000 km/h (100,000 mph). This finding is consistent with the theory that when the solar wind meets interstellar space at a turbulent zone known as the termination shock boundary, it will slow abruptly. However, another team of astronomers disputed the finding, saying that the spacecraft had neared but had not yet reached the heliopause.

Nine major planets are currently known. They are commonly divided into two groups: the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) and the outer planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune). The inner planets are small and are composed primarily of rock and iron. The outer planets are much larger and consist mainly of hydrogen, helium, and ice. Pluto does not belong to either group, and there is an ongoing debate as to whether Pluto should be categorized as a major planet.

Mercury is surprisingly dense, apparently because it has an unusually large iron core. With only a transient atmosphere, Mercury has a surface that still bears the record of bombardment by asteroidal bodies early in its history. Venus has a carbon dioxide atmosphere 90 times thicker than that of Earth, causing an efficient greenhouse effect by which the Venusian atmosphere is heated. The resulting surface temperature is the hottest of any planet—about 477°C (about 890°F).

Earth is the only planet known to have abundant liquid water and life. However, in 2004 astronomers with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Mars Exploration Rover mission confirmed that Mars once had liquid water on its surface. Scientists had previously concluded that liquid water once existed on Mars due to the numerous surface features on the planet that resemble water erosion found on Earth. Mars’s carbon dioxide atmosphere is now so thin that the planet is dry and cold, with polar caps of frozen water and solid carbon dioxide, or dry ice. However, small jets of subcrustal water may still erupt on the surface in some places.

Jupiter is the largest of the planets. Its hydrogen and helium atmosphere contains pastel-colored clouds, and its immense magnetosphere, rings, and satellites make it a planetary system unto itself. One of Jupiter’s largest moons, Io, has volcanoes that produce the hottest surface temperatures in the solar system. At least four of Jupiter’s moons have atmospheres, and at least three show evidence that they contain liquid or partially frozen water. Jupiter’s moon Europa may have a global ocean of liquid water beneath its icy crust.

Saturn rivals Jupiter, with a much more intricate ring structure and a similar number of satellites. One of Saturn’s moons, Titan, has an atmosphere thicker than that of any other satellite in the solar system. Uranus and Neptune are deficient in hydrogen compared with Jupiter and Saturn; Uranus, also ringed, has the distinction of rotating at 98° to the plane of its orbit. Pluto seems similar to the larger, icy satellites of Jupiter or Saturn. Pluto is so distant from the Sun and so cold that methane freezes on its surface. See also Planetary Science.

The asteroids are small rocky bodies that move in orbits primarily between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Numbering in the thousands, asteroids range in size from Ceres, which has a diameter of 1,003 km (623 mi), to microscopic grains. Some asteroids are perturbed, or pulled by forces other than their attraction to the Sun, into eccentric orbits that can bring them closer to the Sun. If the orbits of such bodies intersect that of Earth, they are called meteoroids. When they appear in the night sky as streaks of light, they are known as meteors, and recovered fragments are termed meteorites. Laboratory studies of meteorites have revealed much information about primitive conditions in our solar system. The surfaces of Mercury, Mars, and several satellites of the planets (including Earth’s Moon) show the effects of an intense bombardment by asteroidal objects early in the history of the solar system. On Earth that record has eroded away, except for a few recently found impact craters.

Some meteors and interplanetary dust may also come from comets, which are basically aggregates of dust and frozen gases typically 5 to 10 km (about 3 to 6 mi) in diameter. Comets orbit the Sun at distances so great that they can be perturbed by stars into orbits that bring them into the inner solar system. As comets approach the Sun, they release their dust and gases to form a spectacular coma and tail. Under the influence of Jupiter’s strong gravitational field, comets can sometimes adopt much smaller orbits. The most famous of these is Halley’s Comet, which returns to the inner solar system at 75-year periods. Its most recent return was in 1986. In July 1994 fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 bombarded Jupiter’s dense atmosphere at speeds of about 210,000 km/h (130,000 mph). Upon impact, the tremendous kinetic energy of the fragments was released through massive explosions, some resulting in fireballs larger than Earth.

Comets circle the Sun in two main groups, within the Kuiper Belt or within the Oort cloud. The Kuiper Belt is a ring of debris that orbits the Sun beyond the planet Neptune. Many of the comets with periods of less than 500 years come from the Kuiper Belt. In 2002 astronomers discovered a planetoid in the Kuiper Belt, and they named it Quaoar.

The Oort cloud is a hypothetical region about halfway between the Sun and the heliopause. Astronomers believe that the existence of the Oort cloud, named for Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, explains why some comets have very long periods. A chunk of dust and ice may stay in the Oort cloud for thousands of years. Nearby stars sometimes pass close enough to the solar system to push an object in the Oort cloud into an orbit that takes it close to the Sun.

The first detection of the long-hypothesized Oort cloud came in March 2004 when astronomers reported the discovery of a planetoid about 1,700 km (about 1,000 mi) in diameter. They named it Sedna, after a sea goddess in Inuit mythology. Sedna was found about 13 billion km (about 8 billion mi) from the Sun. At its farthest point from the Sun, Sedna is the most distant object in the solar system and is about 130 billion km (about 84 billion mi) from the Sun.

Many of the objects that do not fall into the asteroid belts, the Kuiper Belt, or the Oort cloud may be comets that will never make it back to the Sun. The surfaces of the icy satellites of the outer planets are scarred by impacts from such bodies. The asteroid-like object Chiron, with an orbit between Saturn and Uranus, may itself be an extremely large inactive comet. Similarly, some of the asteroids that cross the path of Earth’s orbit may be the rocky remains of burned-out comets. Chiron and similar objects called the Centaurs probably escaped from the Kuiper Belt and were drawn into their irregular orbits by the gravitational pull of the giant outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus.

The Sun was also found to be encircled by rings of interplanetary dust. One of them, between Jupiter and Mars, has long been known as the cause of zodiacal light, a faint glow that appears in the east before dawn and in the west after dusk. Another ring, lying only two solar widths away from the Sun, was discovered in 1983.

If one could look down on the solar system from far above the North Pole of Earth, the planets would appear to move around the Sun in a counterclockwise direction. All of the planets except Venus and Uranus rotate on their axes in this same direction. The entire system is remarkably flat—only Mercury and Pluto have obviously inclined orbits. Pluto’s orbit is so elliptical that it is sometimes closer than Neptune to the Sun.

The satellite systems mimic the behavior of their parent planets and move in a counterclockwise direction, but many exceptions are found. Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune each have at least one satellite that moves around the planet in a retrograde orbit (clockwise instead of counterclockwise), and several satellite orbits are highly elliptical. Jupiter, moreover, has trapped two clusters of asteroids (the so-called Trojan asteroids) leading and following the planet by 60° in its orbit around the Sun. (Some satellites of Saturn have done the same with smaller bodies.) The comets exhibit a roughly spherical distribution of orbits around the Sun.

Within this maze of motions, some remarkable patterns exist: Mercury rotates on its axis three times for every two revolutions about the Sun; no asteroids exist with periods (intervals of time needed to complete one revolution) 1/2, 1/3, …, 1/n (where n is an integer) the period of Jupiter; the three inner Galilean satellites of Jupiter have periods in the ratio 4:2:1. These and other examples demonstrate the subtle balance of forces that is established in a gravitational system composed of many bodies.

Despite their differences, the members of the solar system probably form a common family. They seem to have originated at the same time; few indications exist of bodies joining the solar system, captured later from other stars or interstellar space.

Early attempts to explain the origin of this system include the nebular hypothesis of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and the French astronomer and mathematician Pierre Simon de Laplace, according to which a cloud of gas broke into rings that condensed to form planets. Doubts about the stability of such rings led some scientists to consider various catastrophic hypotheses, such as a close encounter of the Sun with another star. Such encounters are extremely rare, and the hot, tidally disrupted gases would dissipate rather than condense to form planets.

Current theories connect the formation of the solar system with the formation of the Sun itself, about 4.7 billion years ago. The fragmentation and gravitational collapse of an interstellar cloud of gas and dust, triggered perhaps by nearby supernova explosions, may have led to the formation of a primordial solar nebula. The Sun would then form in the densest, central region. It is so hot close to the Sun that even silicates, which are relatively dense, have difficulty forming there. This phenomenon may account for the presence near the Sun of a planet such as Mercury, having a relatively small silicate crust and a larger than usual, dense iron core. (It is easier for iron dust and vapor to coalesce near the central region of a solar nebula than it is for lighter silicates to do so.) At larger distances from the center of the solar nebula, gases condense into solids such as are found today from Jupiter outward. Evidence of a possible preformation supernova explosion appears as traces of anomalous isotopes in tiny inclusions in some meteorites. This association of planet formation with star formation suggests that billions of other stars in our galaxy may also have planets. The high frequency of binary and multiple stars, as well as the large satellite systems around Jupiter and Saturn, attest to the tendency of collapsing gas clouds to fragment into multibody systems.
See separate articles for most of the celestial bodies mentioned in this article. See also Exobiology.

Pluto (planet)
Pluto (planet), ninth planet from the Sun, smallest and outermost known planet of the solar system. Pluto revolves about the Sun once in 247.9 Earth years at an average distance of 5,880 million km (3,650 million mi). The planet’s orbit is so eccentric that at certain points along its path Pluto is slightly closer to the Sun than is Neptune. Pluto is about 2,360 km (1,475 mi) in diameter, about two-thirds the size of Earth's moon. Discovered in 1930, Pluto is the most recent planet in the solar system to be detected. The planet was named after the god of the underworld in Roman mythology.

Pluto is far away from Earth, and no spacecraft has yet been sent to the planet. All the information astronomers have on Pluto comes from observation through large telescopes. Pluto was discovered as the result of a telescopic search inaugurated in 1905 by American astronomer Percival Lowell, who postulated the existence of a distant planet beyond Neptune as the cause of slight irregularities in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune. Continued after Lowell’s death by members of the Lowell Observatory staff, the search ended successfully in 1930, when American astronomer Clyde William Tombaugh found Pluto.

For many years very little was known about the planet, but in 1978 astronomers discovered a relatively large moon orbiting Pluto at a distance of only about 19,600 km (about 12,180 mi) and named it Charon. The orbits of Pluto and Charon caused them to pass repeatedly in front of one another as seen from Earth between 1985 and 1990, enabling astronomers to determine their sizes accurately. Charon is about 1,200 km (750 mi) in diameter, making Pluto and Charon the planet-satellite pair closest in size to one another in the solar system. Scientists often call Pluto and Charon a double planet.

Every 248 years Pluto’s elliptical orbit brings it within the orbit of Neptune. Pluto last traded places with Neptune as the most distant planet in 1979 and crossed back outside Neptune’s orbit in 1999. No possibility of collision exists, however, because Pluto's orbit is inclined more than 17.2° to the plane of the ecliptic (the plane in which Earth and most of the other planets orbit the Sun) and is oriented such that it never actually crosses Neptune's path.

Pluto has a pinkish color. In 1988, astronomers discovered that Pluto has a thin atmosphere consisting of nitrogen with traces of carbon monoxide and methane. Atmospheric pressure on the planet's surface is about 100,000 times less than Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level. Pluto’s atmosphere is believed to freeze out as a snow on the planet’s surface for most of each Plutonian orbit. During the decades when Pluto is closest to the Sun, however, the snows sublimate (evaporate) and create the atmosphere that has been observed. In 1994 the Hubble Space Telescope imaged 85 percent of Pluto's surface, revealing polar caps and bright and dark areas of startling contrast. Astronomers believe that the bright areas are likely to be shifting fields of clean ice and that the dark areas are fields of dirty ice colored by interaction with sunlight. These images show that extensive ice caps form on Pluto's poles, especially when the planet is farthest from the Sun.

With a density about twice that of water, Pluto is apparently made of a much greater proportion of rockier material than are the giant planets of the outer solar system. This may be the result of the kind of chemical reactions that took place during the formation of the planet under cold temperatures and low pressure. Many astronomers think Pluto was growing rapidly to be a larger planet when Neptune’s gravitational influence disturbed the region where Pluto orbits (the Kuiper Belt), stopping the process of planetary growth there. The Kuiper Belt is a ring of material orbiting the Sun beyond the planet Neptune that contains millions of rocky, icy objects like Pluto and Charon. Charon could be an accumulation of the lighter materials resulting from a collision between Pluto and another large Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) in the ancient past.

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Asteroid, one of the many small or minor rocky planetoids that are members of the solar system and that move in elliptical orbits primarily between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

The largest representatives are 1 Ceres, with a diameter of about 1,003 km (about 623 mi), and 2 Pallas and 4 Vesta, with diameters of about 550 km (about 340 mi). The naming of asteroids is governed by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). After an astronomer observes a possible unknown asteroid, other astronomers confirm the discovery by observing the body over a period of several orbits and comparing the asteroid’s position and orbit to those of known asteroids. If the asteroid is indeed a newly discovered object, the IAU gives it a number according to its order of discovery, and the astronomer who discovered it chooses a name. Asteroids are usually referred to by both number and name.

About 200 asteroids have diameters of more than 97 km (60 mi), and thousands of smaller ones exist. The total mass of all asteroids in the solar system is much less than the mass of the Moon. The larger bodies are roughly spherical, but elongated and irregular shapes are common for those with diameters of less than 160 km (100 mi). Most asteroids, regardless of size, rotate on their axes every 5 to 20 hours. Certain asteroids may be binary, or have satellites of their own.

Few scientists now believe that asteroids are the remnants of a former planet. It is more likely that asteroids occupy a place in the solar system where a sizable planet could have formed but was prevented from doing so by the disruptive gravitational influences of the nearby giant planet Jupiter. Originally perhaps only a few dozen asteroids existed, which were subsequently fragmented by mutual collisions to produce the population now present. Scientists believe that asteroids move out of the asteroid belt because heat from the Sun warms them unevenly. This causes the asteroids to drift slowly away from their original orbits.

The so-called Trojan asteroids lie in two clouds, one moving 60° ahead of Jupiter in its orbit and the other 60° behind. In 1977 the asteroid 2060 Chiron was discovered in an orbit between that of Saturn and Uranus. Asteroids that intersect the orbit of Mars are called Amors; asteroids that intersect the orbit of Earth are known as Apollos; and asteroids that have orbits smaller than Earth’s orbit are called Atens. One of the largest inner asteroids is 443 Eros, an elongated body measuring 13 by 33 km (8 by 21 mi). The peculiar Apollo asteroid 3200 Phaethon, about 5 km (about 3 mi) wide, approaches the Sun more closely, at 20.9 million km (13.9 million mi), than any other known asteroid. It is also associated with the yearly return of the Geminid stream of meteors (see Geminids).

Several Earth-approaching asteroids are relatively easy targets for space missions. In 1991 the United States Galileo space probe, on its way to Jupiter, took the first close-up pictures of an asteroid. The images showed that the small, lopsided body, 951 Gaspra, is pockmarked with craters, and revealed evidence of a blanket of loose, fragmental material, or regolith, covering the asteroid’s surface. Galileo also visited an asteroid named 243 Ida and found that Ida has its own moon, a smaller asteroid subsequently named Dactyl. (Dactyl’s official designation is 243 Ida I, because it is a satellite of Ida.)

In 1996 the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) launched the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) spacecraft. NEAR was later renamed NEAR Shoemaker in honor of American scientist Eugene M. Shoemaker. NEAR Shoemaker’s goal was to go into orbit around the asteroid Eros. On its way to Eros, the spacecraft visited the asteroid 253 Mathilde in June 1997. At 60 km (37 mi) in diameter, Mathilde is larger than either of the asteroids that Galileo visited. In February 2000, NEAR Shoemaker reached Eros, moved into orbit around the asteroid, and began making observations. The spacecraft orbited the asteroid for a year, gathering data to provide astronomers with a better idea of the origin, composition, and structure of large asteroids. After NEAR Shoemaker’s original mission ended, NASA decided to attempt a “controlled crash” on the surface of Eros. NEAR Shoemaker set down safely on Eros in February 2001—the first spacecraft ever to land on an asteroid.

In 1999 Deep Space 1, a probe NASA designed to test new space technologies, flew by the tiny asteroid 9969 Braille. Measurements taken by Deep Space 1 revealed that the composition of Braille is very similar to that of 4 Vesta, the third largest asteroid known. Scientists believe that Braille may be a broken piece of Vesta or that the two asteroids may have formed under similar conditions.

With the exception of a few that have been traced to the Moon and Mars, most of the meteorites recovered on Earth are thought to be asteroid fragments. Remote observations of asteroids by telescopic spectroscopy and radar support this hypothesis. They reveal that asteroids, like meteorites, can be classified into a few distinct types.

Three-quarters of the asteroids visible from Earth, including 1 Ceres, belong to the C type, which appear to be related to a class of stony meteorites known as carbonaceous chondrites. These meteorites are considered the oldest materials in the solar system, with a composition reflecting that of the primitive solar nebula. Extremely dark in color, probably because of their hydrocarbon content, they show evidence of having adsorbed water of hydration. Thus, unlike the Earth and the Moon, they have never either melted or been reheated since they first formed.

Asteroids of the S type, related to the stony iron meteorites, make up about 15 percent of the total population. Much rarer are the M-type objects, corresponding in composition to the meteorites known as “irons.” Consisting of an iron-nickel alloy, they may represent the cores of melted, differentiated planetary bodies whose outer layers were removed by impact cratering.

A very few asteroids, notably 4 Vesta, are probably related to the rarest meteorite class of all: the achondrites. These asteroids appear to have an igneous surface composition like that of many lunar and terrestrial lava flows. Thus, astronomers are reasonably certain that Vesta was, at some time in its history, at least partly melted. Scientists are puzzled that some of the asteroids have been melted but others, such as 1 Ceres, have not. One possible explanation is that the early solar system contained certain concentrated, highly radioactive isotopes that might have generated enough heat to melt the asteroids.

Astronomers have found more than 300 asteroids with orbits that approach Earth’s orbit. Some scientists project that several thousand of these near-Earth asteroids may exist and that as many as 1,500 could be large enough to cause a global catastrophe if they collided with Earth. Still, the chances of such a collision average out to only one collision about every 300,000 years.

Many scientists believe that a collision with an asteroid or a comet may have been responsible for at least one mass extinction of life on Earth over the planet’s history. A giant crater on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico marks the spot where a comet or asteroid struck Earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period, about 65 million years ago. This is about the same time as the disappearance of the last of the dinosaurs. A collision with an asteroid large enough to cause the Yucatán crater would have sent so much dust and gas into the atmosphere that sunlight would have been dimmed for months or years. Reactions of gases from the impact with clouds in the atmosphere would have caused massive amounts of acid rain. The acid rain and the lack of sunlight would have killed off plant life and the animals in the food chain that were dependent on plants for survival.
The most recent major encounter between Earth and what may have been an asteroid was a 1908 explosion in the atmosphere above the Tunguska region of Siberia. The force of the blast flattened more than 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of pine forest and killed thousands of reindeer. The number of human casualties, if any, is unknown. The first scientific expedition went to the region two decades later. This expedition and several detailed studies following it found no evidence of an impact crater. This led scientists to believe that the heat generated by friction with the atmosphere as the object plunged toward Earth was great enough to make the object explode before it hit the ground.

If the Tunguska object had exploded in a less remote area, the loss of human life and property could have been astounding. Military satellites—in orbit around Earth watching for explosions that could signal violations of weapons testing treaties—have detected dozens of smaller asteroid explosions in the atmosphere each year. In 1995 NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the U.S. Air Force began a project called Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking (NEAT). NEAT uses an observatory in Hawaii to search for asteroids with orbits that might pose a threat to Earth. By tracking these asteroids, scientists can calculate the asteroids’ precise orbits and project these orbits into the future to determine whether the asteroids will come close to Earth.

Astronomers believe that tracking programs such as NEAT would probably give the world decades or centuries of warning time for any possible asteroid collision. Scientists have suggested several strategies for deflecting asteroids from a collision course with Earth. If the asteroid is very far away, a nuclear warhead could be used to blow it up without much danger of pieces of the asteroid causing significant damage to Earth. Another suggested strategy would be to attach a rocket engine to the asteroid and direct the asteroid off course without breaking it up. Both of these methods require that the asteroid be far from Earth. If an asteroid exploded close to Earth, chunks of it would probably cause damage. Any effort to push an asteroid off course would also require years to work. Asteroids are much too large for a rocket to push quickly. If astronomers were to discover an asteroid less than ten years away from collision with Earth, new strategies for deflecting the asteroid would probably be needed.
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Q7: What are minerals ? For most of the part minerals are constituted of eight elements, name any six of them. State the six characteristics that are used to identify minerals.

Mineral (chemistry), in general, any naturally occurring chemical element or compound, but in mineralogy and geology, chemical elements and compounds that have been formed through inorganic processes. Petroleum and coal, which are formed by the decomposition of organic matter, are not minerals in the strict sense. More than 3000 mineral species are known, most of which are characterized by definite chemical composition, crystalline structure, and physical properties. They are classified primarily by chemical composition, crystal class, hardness, and appearance (color, luster, and opacity). Mineral species are, as a rule, limited to solid substances, the only liquids being metallic mercury and water. All the rocks forming the earth's crust consist of minerals. Metalliferous minerals of economic value, which are mined for their metals, are known as ores. See Crystal.

Mineralogy, the identification of minerals and the study of their properties, origin, and classification. The properties of minerals are studied under the convenient subdivisions of chemical mineralogy, physical mineralogy, and crystallography. The properties and classification of individual minerals, their localities and modes of occurrence, and their uses are studied under descriptive mineralogy. Identification according to chemical, physical, and crystallographic properties is called determinative mineralogy.


Chemical composition is the most important property for identifying minerals and distinguishing them from one another. Mineral analysis is carried out according to standard qualitative and quantitative methods of chemical analysis. Minerals are classified on the basis of chemical composition and crystal symmetry. The chemical constituents of minerals may also be determined by electron-beam microprobe analysis.

Although chemical classification is not rigid, the various classes of chemical compounds that include a majority of minerals are as follows: (1) elements, such as gold, graphite, diamond, and sulfur, that occur in the native state, that is, in an uncombined form; (2) sulfides, which are minerals composed of various metals combined with sulfur. Many important ore minerals, such as galena and sphalerite, are in this class; (3) sulfo salts, minerals composed of lead, copper, or silver in combination with sulfur and one or more of the following: antimony, arsenic, and bismuth. Pyrargyrite, Ag3SbS3, belongs to this class; (4) oxides, minerals composed of a metal in combination with oxygen, such as hematite, Fe2O3. Mineral oxides that contain water, such as diaspore, Al2O3• H2O, or the hydroxyl (OH) group, such as bog iron ore, FeO(OH), also belong to this group; (5) halides, composed of metals in combination with chlorine, fluorine, bromine, or iodine; halite, NaCl, is the most common mineral of this class; (6) carbonates, minerals such as calcite, CaCO 3, containing a carbonate group; (7) phosphates, minerals such as apatite, Ca5(F,Cl)(PO4)3, that contain a phosphate group; (8) sulfates, minerals such as barite, BaSO4, containing a sulfate group; and (9) silicates, the largest class of minerals, containing various elements in combination with silicon and oxygen, often with complex chemical structure, and minerals composed solely of silicon and oxygen (silica). The silicates include the minerals comprising the feldspar, mica, pyroxene, quartz, and zeolite and amphibole families.


The physical properties of minerals are important aids in identifying and characterizing them. Most of the physical properties can be recognized at sight or determined by simple tests. The most important properties include powder (streak), color, cleavage, fracture, hardness, luster, specific gravity, and fluorescence or phosphorescence.

The majority of minerals occur in crystal form when conditions of formation are favorable. Crystallography is the study of the growth, shape, and geometric character of crystals. The arrangement of atoms within a crystal is determined by X-ray diffraction analysis. Crystal chemistry is the study of the relationship of chemical composition, arrangement of atoms, and the binding forces among atoms. This relationship determines minerals' chemical and physical properties. Crystals are grouped into six main classes of symmetry: isometric, hexagonal, tetragonal, orthorhombic, monoclinic, and triclinic.

The study of minerals is an important aid in understanding rock formation. Laboratory synthesis of the high-pressure varieties of minerals is helping the understanding of igneous processes deep in the lithosphere (see Earth). Because all of the inorganic materials of commerce are minerals or derivatives of minerals, mineralogy has direct economic application. Important uses of minerals and examples in each category are gem minerals (diamond, garnet, opal, zircon); ornamental objects and structural material (agate, calcite, gypsum); abrasives (corundum, diamond, kaolin); lime, cement, and plaster (calcite, gypsum); refractories (asbestos, graphite, magnesite, mica); ceramics (feldspar, quartz); chemical minerals (halite, sulfur, borax); fertilizers (phosphates); natural pigments (hematite, limonite); optical and scientific apparatus (quartz, mica, tourmaline); and the ores of metals (cassiterite, chalcopyrite, chromite, cinnabar, ilmenite, molybdenite, galena, and sphalerite).

Q.8 Define any five of the following terms using suitable examples :
a. Polymerization b. Ecosystem c. Antibiotics
d. Renewable energy resources e. Gene f. Software
Polymer, substance consisting of large molecules that are made of many small, repeating units called monomers, or mers. The number of repeating units in one large molecule is called the degree of polymerization. Materials with a very high degree of polymerization are called high polymers. Polymers consisting of only one kind of repeating unit are called homopolymers. Copolymers are formed from several different repeating units.

Most of the organic substances found in living matter, such as protein, wood, chitin, rubber, and resins, are polymers. Many synthetic materials, such as plastics, fibers (; Rayon), adhesives, glass, and porcelain, are also to a large extent polymeric substances.

Polymers can be subdivided into three, or possibly four, structural groups. The molecules in linear polymers consist of long chains of monomers joined by bonds that are rigid to a certain degree—the monomers cannot rotate freely with respect to each other. Typical examples are polyethylene, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Branched polymers have side chains that are attached to the chain molecule itself. Branching can be caused by impurities or by the presence of monomers that have several reactive groups. Chain polymers composed of monomers with side groups that are part of the monomers, such as polystyrene or polypropylene, are not considered branched polymers.

In cross-linked polymers, two or more chains are joined together by side chains. With a small degree of cross-linking, a loose network is obtained that is essentially two dimensional. High degrees of cross-linking result in a tight three-dimensional structure. Cross-linking is usually caused by chemical reactions. An example of a two-dimensional cross-linked structure is vulcanized rubber, in which cross-links are formed by sulfur atoms. Thermosetting plastics are examples of highly cross-linked polymers; their structure is so rigid that when heated they decompose or burn rather than melt.

Two general methods exist for forming large molecules from small monomers: addition polymerization and condensation polymerization. In the chemical process called addition polymerization, monomers join together without the loss of atoms from the molecules. Some examples of addition polymers are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl acetate, and polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon).

In condensation polymerization, monomers join together with the simultaneous elimination of atoms or groups of atoms. Typical condensation polymers are polyamides, polyesters, and certain polyurethanes.
In 1983 a new method of addition polymerization called group transfer polymerization was announced. An activating group within the molecule initiating the process transfers to the end of the growing polymer chain as individual monomers insert themselves in the group. The method has been used for acrylic plastics; it should prove applicable to other plastics as well.

(b)Eco System

(d) Polymer

Polymer, substance consisting of large molecules that are made of many small, repeating units called monomers, or mers. The number of repeating units in one large molecule is called the degree of polymerization. Materials with a very high degree of polymerization are called high polymers. Polymers consisting of only one kind of repeating unit are called homopolymers. Copolymers are formed from several different repeating units.

Most of the organic substances found in living matter, such as protein, wood, chitin, rubber, and resins, are polymers. Many synthetic materials, such as plastics, fibers (; Rayon), adhesives, glass, and porcelain, are also to a large extent polymeric substances.

Polymers can be subdivided into three, or possibly four, structural groups. The molecules in linear polymers consist of long chains of monomers joined by bonds that are rigid to a certain degree—the monomers cannot rotate freely with respect to each other. Typical examples are polyethylene, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Branched polymers have side chains that are attached to the chain molecule itself. Branching can be caused by impurities or by the presence of monomers that have several reactive groups. Chain polymers composed of monomers with side groups that are part of the monomers, such as polystyrene or polypropylene, are not considered branched polymers.
In cross-linked polymers, two or more chains are joined together by side chains. With a small degree of cross-linking, a loose network is obtained that is essentially two dimensional. High degrees of cross-linking result in a tight three-dimensional structure. Cross-linking is usually caused by chemical reactions. An example of a two-dimensional cross-linked structure is vulcanized rubber, in which cross-links are formed by sulfur atoms. Thermosetting plastics are examples of highly cross-linked polymers; their structure is so rigid that when heated they decompose or burn rather than melt.

Two general methods exist for forming large molecules from small monomers: addition polymerization and condensation polymerization. In the chemical process called addition polymerization, monomers join together without the loss of atoms from the molecules. Some examples of addition polymers are polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl acetate, and polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon).

In condensation polymerization, monomers join together with the simultaneous elimination of atoms or groups of atoms. Typical condensation polymers are polyamides, polyesters, and certain polyurethanes.
In 1983 a new method of addition polymerization called group transfer polymerization was announced. An activating group within the molecule initiating the process transfers to the end of the growing polymer chain as individual monomers insert themselves in the group. The method has been used for acrylic plastics; it should prove applicable to other plastics as well.

(e) Gene
Gene, basic unit of heredity found in the cells of all living organisms, from bacteria to humans. Genes determine the physical characteristics that an organism inherits, such as the shape of a tree’s leaf, the markings on a cat’s fur, and the color of a human hair.

Genes are composed of segments of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), a molecule that forms the long, threadlike structures called chromosomes. The information encoded within the DNA structure of a gene directs the manufacture of proteins, molecular workhorses that carry out all life-supporting activities within a cell (see Genetics).

Chromosomes within a cell occur in matched pairs. Each chromosome contains many genes, and each gene is located at a particular site on the chromosome, known as the locus. Like chromosomes, genes typically occur in pairs. A gene found on one chromosome in a pair usually has the same locus as another gene in the other chromosome of the pair, and these two genes are called alleles. Alleles are alternate forms of the same gene. For example, a pea plant has one gene that determines height, but that gene appears in more than one form—the gene that produces a short plant is an allele of the gene that produces a tall plant. The behavior of alleles and how they influence inherited traits follow predictable patterns. Austrian monk Gregor Mendel first identified these patterns in the 1860s.

In organisms that use sexual reproduction, offspring inherit one-half of their genes from each parent and then mix the two sets of genes together. This produces new combinations of genes, so that each individual is unique but still possesses the same genes as its parents. As a result, sexual reproduction ensures that the basic characteristics of a particular species remain largely the same for generations. However, mutations, or alterations in DNA, occur constantly. They create variations in the genes that are inherited. Some mutations may be neutral, or silent, and do not affect the function of a protein. Occasionally a mutation may benefit or harm an organism and over the course of evolutionary time, these mutations serve the crucial role of providing organisms with previously nonexistent proteins. In this way, mutations are a driving force behind genetic diversity and the rise of new or more competitive species that are better able to adapt to changes, such as climate variations, depletion of food sources, or the emergence of new types of disease .

Geneticists are scientists who study the function and behavior of genes. Since the 1970s geneticists have devised techniques, cumulatively known as genetic engineering, to alter or manipulate the DNA structure within genes. These techniques enable scientists to introduce one or more genes from one organism into a second organism. The second organism incorporates the new DNA into its own genetic material, thereby altering its own genetic characteristics by changing the types of proteins it can produce. In humans these techniques form the basis of gene therapy, a group of experimental procedures in which scientists try to substitute one or more healthy genes for defective ones in order to eliminate symptoms of disease.

Genetic engineering techniques have also enabled scientists to determine the chromosomal location and DNA structure of all the genes found within a variety of organisms. In April 2003 the Human Genome Project, a publicly funded consortium of academic scientists from around the world, identified the chromosomal locations and structure of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes found within human cells. The genetic makeup of other organisms has also been identified, including that of the bacterium Escherichia coli, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, and the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Scientists hope to use this genetic information to develop life-saving drugs for a variety of diseases, to improve agricultural crop yields, and to learn more about plant and animal physiology and evolutionary history.

(f) Software
Software, computer programs; instructions that cause the hardware—the machines—to do work. Software as a whole can be divided into a number of categories based on the types of work done by programs. The two primary software categories are operating systems (system software), which control the workings of the computer, and application software, which addresses the multitude of tasks for which people use computers. System software thus handles such essential, but often invisible, chores as maintaining disk files and managing the screen, whereas application software performs word processing, database management, and the like. Two additional categories that are neither system nor application software, although they contain elements of both, are network software, which enables groups of computers to communicate, and language software, which provides programmers with the tools they need to write programs.

Q9: what do you understand by the term “Balanced Diet ? What are its essential constituents ? state the function of each constituent.

Human Nutrition, study of how food affects the health and survival of the human body. Human beings require food to grow, reproduce, and maintain good health. Without food, our bodies could not stay warm, build or repair tissue, or maintain a heartbeat. Eating the right foods can help us avoid certain diseases or recover faster when illness occurs. These and other important functions are fueled by chemical substances in our food called nutrients. Nutrients are classified as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water.

When we eat a meal, nutrients are released from food through digestion. Digestion begins in the mouth by the action of chewing and the chemical activity of saliva, a watery fluid that contains enzymes, certain proteins that help break down food. Further digestion occurs as food travels through the stomach and the small intestine, where digestive enzymes and acids liquefy food and muscle contractions push it along the digestive tract. Nutrients are absorbed from the inside of the small intestine into the bloodstream and carried to the sites in the body where they are needed. At these sites, several chemical reactions occur that ensure the growth and function of body tissues. The parts of foods that are not absorbed continue to move down the intestinal tract and are eliminated from the body as feces.

Once digested, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide the body with the energy it needs to maintain its many functions. Scientists measure this energy in kilocalories, the amount of energy needed to raise 1 kilogram of water 1 degree Celsius. In nutrition discussions, scientists use the term calorie instead of kilocalorie as the standard unit of measure in nutrition.

Nutrients are classified as essential or nonessential. Nonessential nutrients are manufactured in the body and do not need to be obtained from food. Examples include cholesterol, a fatlike substance present in all animal cells. Essential nutrients must be obtained from food sources, because the body either does not produce them or produces them in amounts too small to maintain growth and health. Essential nutrients include water, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

An individual needs varying amounts of each essential nutrient, depending upon such factors as gender and age. Specific health conditions, such as pregnancy, breast-feeding, illness, or drug use, make unusual demands on the body and increase its need for nutrients. Dietary guidelines, which take many of these factors into account, provide general guidance in meeting daily nutritional needs.

If the importance of a nutrient is judged by how long we can do without it, water ranks as the most important. A person can survive only eight to ten days without water, whereas it takes weeks or even months to die from a lack of food. Water circulates through our blood and lymphatic system, transporting oxygen and nutrients to cells and removing wastes through urine and sweat. Water also maintains the natural balance between dissolved salts and water inside and outside of cells. Our joints and soft tissues depend on the cushioning that water provides for them. While water has no caloric value and therefore is not an energy source, without it in our diets we could not digest or absorb the foods we eat or eliminate the body’s digestive waste.

The human body is 65 percent water, and it takes an average of eight to ten cups to replenish the water our bodies lose each day. How much water a person needs depends largely on the volume of urine and sweat lost daily, and water needs are increased if a person suffers from diarrhea or vomiting or undergoes heavy physical exercise. Water is replenished by drinking liquids, preferably those without caffeine or alcohol, both of which increase the output of urine and thus dehydrate the body. Many foods are also a good source of water—fruits and vegetables, for instance, are 80 to 95 percent water; meats are made up of 50 percent water; and grains, such as oats and rice, can have as much as 35 percent water.

Carbohydrates are the human body’s key source of energy, providing 4 calories of energy per gram. When carbohydrates are broken down by the body, the sugar glucose is produced; glucose is critical to help maintain tissue protein, metabolize fat, and fuel the central nervous system.
Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall. Some of this glucose goes straight to work in our brain cells and red blood cells, while the rest makes its way to the liver and muscles, where it is stored as glycogen (animal starch), and to fat cells, where it is stored as fat. Glycogen is the body’s auxiliary energy source, tapped and converted back into glucose when we need more energy. Although stored fat can also serve as a backup source of energy, it is never converted into glucose. Fructose and galactose, other sugar products resulting from the breakdown of carbohydrates, go straight to the liver, where they are converted into glucose.

Starches and sugars are the major carbohydrates. Common starch foods include whole-grain breads and cereals, pasta, corn, beans, peas, and potatoes. Naturally occurring sugars are found in fruits and many vegetables; milk products; and honey, maple sugar, and sugar cane. Foods that contain starches and naturally occurring sugars are referred to as complex carbohydrates, because their molecular complexity requires our bodies to break them down into a simpler form to obtain the much-needed fuel, glucose. Our bodies digest and absorb complex carbohydrates at a rate that helps maintain the healthful levels of glucose already in the blood.

In contrast, simple sugars, refined from naturally occurring sugars and added to processed foods, require little digestion and are quickly absorbed by the body, triggering an unhealthy chain of events. The body’s rapid absorption of simple sugars elevates the levels of glucose in the blood, which triggers the release of the hormone insulin. Insulin reins in the body’s rising glucose levels, but at a price: Glucose levels may fall so low within one to two hours after eating foods high in simple sugars, such as candy, that the body responds by releasing chemicals known as anti-insulin hormones. This surge in chemicals, the aftermath of eating a candy bar, can leave a person feeling irritable and nervous.

Many processed foods not only contain high levels of added simple sugars, they also tend to be high in fat and lacking in the vitamins and minerals found naturally in complex carbohydrates. Nutritionists often refer to such processed foods as junk foods and say that they provide only empty calories, meaning they are loaded with calories from sugars and fats but lack the essential nutrients our bodies need.

In addition to starches and sugars, complex carbohydrates contain indigestible dietary fibers. Although such fibers provide no energy or building materials, they play a vital role in our health. Found only in plants, dietary fiber is classified as soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber, found in such foods as oats, barley, beans, peas, apples, strawberries, and citrus fruits, mixes with food in the stomach and prevents or reduces the absorption by the small intestine of potentially dangerous substances from food. Soluble fiber also binds dietary cholesterol and carries it out of the body, thus preventing it from entering the bloodstream where it can accumulate in the inner walls of arteries and set the stage for high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Insoluble fiber, found in vegetables, whole-grain products, and bran, provides roughage that speeds the elimination of feces, which decreases the time that the body is exposed to harmful substances, possibly reducing the risk of colon cancer. Studies of populations with fiber-rich diets, such as Africans and Asians, show that these populations have less risk of colon cancer compared to those who eat low-fiber diets, such as Americans. In the United States, colon cancer is the third most common cancer for both men and women, but experts believe that, with a proper diet, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer.

Nutritionists caution that most Americans need to eat more complex carbohydrates. In the typical American diet, only 40 to 50 percent of total calories come from carbohydrates—a lower percentage than found in most of the world. To make matters worse, half of the carbohydrate calories consumed by the typical American come from processed foods filled with simple sugars. Experts recommend that these foods make up no more that 10 percent of our diet, because these foods offer no nutritional value. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, which provide vitamins, minerals, some protein, and dietary fiber and are an abundant energy source, should make up roughly 50 percent of our daily calories.

Dietary proteins are powerful compounds that build and repair body tissues, from hair and fingernails to muscles. In addition to maintaining the body’s structure, proteins speed up chemical reactions in the body, serve as chemical messengers, fight infection, and transport oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues. Although protein provides 4 calories of energy per gram, the body uses protein for energy only if carbohydrate and fat intake is insufficient. When tapped as an energy source, protein is diverted from the many critical functions it performs for our bodies.

Proteins are made of smaller units called amino acids. Of the more than 20 amino acids our bodies require, eight (nine in some older adults and young children) cannot be made by the body in sufficient quantities to maintain health. These amino acids are considered essential and must be obtained from food. When we eat food high in proteins, the digestive tract breaks this dietary protein into amino acids. Absorbed into the bloodstream and sent to the cells that need them, amino acids then recombine into the functional proteins our bodies need.

Animal proteins, found in such food as eggs, milk, meat, fish, and poultry, are considered complete proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Plant proteins, found in vegetables, grains, and beans, lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However, plant proteins can be combined in the diet to provide all of the essential amino acids. A good example is rice and beans. Each of these foods lacks one or more essential amino acids, but the amino acids missing in rice are found in the beans, and vice versa. So when eaten together, these foods provide a complete source of protein. Thus, people who do not eat animal products (see Vegetarianism) can meet their protein needs with diets rich in grains, dried peas and beans, rice, nuts, and tofu, a soybean product.

Experts recommend that protein intake make up only 10 percent of our daily calorie intake. Some people, especially in the United States and other developed countries, consume more protein than the body needs. Because extra amino acids cannot be stored for later use, the body destroys these amino acids and excretes their by-products. Alternatively, deficiencies in protein consumption, seen in the diets of people in some developing nations, may result in health problems. Marasmus and kwashiorkor, both life-threatening conditions, are the two most common forms of protein malnutrition.

Some health conditions, such as illness, stress, and pregnancy and breast-feeding in women, place an enormous demand on the body as it builds tissue or fights infection, and these conditions require an increase in protein consumption. For example, a healthy woman normally needs 45 grams of protein each day. Experts recommend that a pregnant woman consume 55 grams of protein per day, and that a breast-feeding mother consume 65 grams to maintain health.

A man of average size should eat 57 grams of protein daily. To support their rapid development, infants and young children require relatively more protein than do adults. A three-month-old infant requires about 13 grams of protein daily, and a four-year-old child requires about 22 grams. Once in adolescence, sex hormone differences cause boys to develop more muscle and bone than girls; as a result, the protein needs of adolescent boys are higher than those of girls.


Fats, which provide 9 calories of energy per gram, are the most concentrated of the energy-producing nutrients, so our bodies need only very small amounts. Fats play an important role in building the membranes that surround our cells and in helping blood to clot. Once digested and absorbed, fats help the body absorb certain vitamins. Fat stored in the body cushions vital organs and protects us from extreme cold and heat.

Fat consists of fatty acids attached to a substance called glycerol. Dietary fats are classified as saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated according to the structure of their fatty acids (see Fats and Oils). Animal fats—from eggs, dairy products, and meats—are high in saturated fats and cholesterol, a chemical substance found in all animal fat. Vegetable fats—found, for example, in avocados, olives, some nuts, and certain vegetable oils—are rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. As we will see, high intake of saturated fats can be unhealthy.

To understand the problem with eating too much saturated fat, we must examine its relationship to cholesterol. High levels of cholesterol in the blood have been linked to the development of heart disease, strokes, and other health problems. Despite its bad reputation, our bodies need cholesterol, which is used to build cell membranes, to protect nerve fibers, and to produce vitamin D and some hormones, chemical messengers that help coordinate the body’s functions. We just do not need cholesterol in our diet. The liver, and to a lesser extent the small intestine, manufacture all the cholesterol we require. When we eat cholesterol from foods that contain saturated fatty acids, we increase the level of a cholesterol-carrying substance in our blood that harms our health.

Cholesterol, like fat, is a lipid—an organic compound that is not soluble in water. In order to travel through blood, cholesterol therefore must be transported through the body in special carriers, called lipoproteins. High-density lipoproteins (HDLs) remove cholesterol from the walls of arteries, return it to the liver, and help the liver excrete it as bile, a liquid acid essential to fat digestion. For this reason, HDL is called “good” cholesterol.

Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and very-low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) are considered “bad” cholesterol. Both LDLs and VLDLs transport cholesterol from the liver to the cells. As they work, LDLs and VLDLs leave plaque-forming cholesterol in the walls of the arteries, clogging the artery walls and setting the stage for heart disease. Almost 70 percent of the cholesterol in our bodies is carried by LDLs and VLDLs, and the remainder is transported by HDLs. For this reason, we need to consume dietary fats that increase our HDLs and decrease our LDL and VLDL levels.

Saturated fatty acids—found in foods ranging from beef to ice cream, to mozzarella cheese to doughnuts—should make up no more than 10 percent of a person’s total calorie intake each day. Saturated fats are considered harmful to the heart and blood vessels because they are thought to increase the level of LDLs and VLDLs and decrease the levels of HDLs.

Monounsaturated fats—found in olive, canola, and peanut oils—appear to have the best effect on blood cholesterol, decreasing the level of LDLs and VLDLs and increasing the level of HDLs. Polyunsaturated fats—found in margarine and sunflower, soybean, corn, and safflower oils—are considered more healthful than saturated fats. However, if consumed in excess (more than 10 percent of daily calories), they can decrease the blood levels of HDLs.

Most Americans obtain 15 to 50 percent of their daily calories from fats. Health experts consider diets with more than 30 percent of calories from fat to be unsafe, increasing the risk of heart disease. High-fat diets also contribute to obesity, which is linked to high blood pressure (see hypertension) and diabetes mellitus. A diet high in both saturated and unsaturated fats has also been associated with greater risk of developing cancers of the colon, prostate, breast, and uterus. Choosing a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol is critical to maintaining health and reducing the risk of life-threatening disease.


Both vitamins and minerals are needed by the body in very small amounts to trigger the thousands of chemical reactions necessary to maintain good health. Many of these chemical reactions are linked, with one triggering another. If there is a missing or deficient vitamin or mineral—or link—anywhere in this chain, this process may break down, with potentially devastating health effects. Although similar in supporting critical functions in the human body, vitamins and minerals have key differences.

Among their many functions, vitamins enhance the body’s use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They are critical in the formation of blood cells, hormones, nervous system chemicals known as neurotransmitters, and the genetic material deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Vitamins are classified into two groups: fat soluble and water soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins A, D, E, and K, are usually absorbed with the help of foods that contain fat. Fat containing these vitamins is broken down by bile, a liquid released by the liver, and the body then absorbs the breakdown products and vitamins. Excess amounts of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fat, liver, and kidneys. Because these vitamins can be stored in the body, they do not need to be consumed every day to meet the body’s needs.

Water-soluble vitamins, which include vitamins C (also known as ascorbic acid), B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, and folic acid, cannot be stored and rapidly leave the body in urine if taken in greater quantities than the body can use. Foods that contain water-soluble vitamins need to be eaten daily to replenish the body’s needs.

In addition to the roles noted in the vitamin and mineral chart accompanying this article, vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), C, and E function as antioxidants, which are vital in countering the potential harm of chemicals known as free radicals. If these chemicals remain unchecked they can make cells more vulnerable to cancer-causing substances. Free radicals can also transform chemicals in the body into cancer-causing agents. Environmental pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, are sources of free radicals.

Minerals are minute amounts of metallic elements that are vital for the healthy growth of teeth and bones. They also help in such cellular activity as enzyme action, muscle contraction, nerve reaction, and blood clotting. Mineral nutrients are classified as major elements (calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur) and trace elements (chromium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc).

Vitamins and minerals not only help the body perform its various functions, but also prevent the onset of many disorders. For example, vitamin C is important in maintaining our bones and teeth; scurvy, a disorder that attacks the gums, skin, and muscles, occurs in its absence. Diets lacking vitamin B1, which supports neuromuscular function, can result in beriberi, a disease characterized by mental confusion, muscle weakness, and inflammation of the heart. Adequate intake of folic acid by pregnant women is critical to avoid nervous system defects in the developing fetus. The mineral calcium plays a critical role in building and maintaining strong bones; without it, children develop weak bones and adults experience the progressive loss of bone mass known as osteoporosis, which increases their risk of bone fractures.

Vitamins and minerals are found in a wide variety of foods, but some foods are better sources of specific vitamins and minerals than others. For example, oranges contain large amounts of vitamin C and folic acid but very little of the other vitamins. Milk contains large amounts of calcium but no vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, but white potatoes contain almost none of this vitamin. Because of these differences in vitamin and mineral content, it is wise to eat a wide variety of foods.

When the body is not given enough of any one of the essential nutrients over a period of time, it becomes weak and less able to fight infection. The brain may become sluggish and react slowly. The body taps its stored fat for energy, and muscle is broken down to use for energy. Eventually the body withers away, the heart ceases to pump properly, and death occurs—the most extreme result of a dietary condition known as deficiency-related malnutrition.

Deficiency diseases result from inadequate intake of the major nutrients. These deficiencies can result from eating foods that lack critical vitamins and minerals, from a lack of variety of foods, or from simply not having enough food. Malnutrition can reflect conditions of poverty, war, famine, and disease. It can also result from eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Although malnutrition is more commonly associated with dietary deficiencies, it also can develop in cases where people have enough food to eat, but they choose foods low in essential nutrients. This is the more common form of malnutrition in developed countries such as the United States. When poor food choices are made, a person may be getting an adequate, or excessive, amount of calories each day, yet still be undernourished. For example, iron deficiency is a common health problem among women and young children in the United States, and low intake of calcium is directly related to poor quality bones and increased fracture risk, especially in the elderly.

A diet of excesses may also lead to other nutritional problems. Obesity is the condition of having too much body fat. It has been linked to life-threatening diseases including diabetes mellitus, heart problems, and some forms of cancer. Eating too many salty foods may contribute to high blood pressure (see hypertension), an often undiagnosed condition that causes the heart to work too hard and puts strain on the arteries. High blood pressure can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and kidney failure. A diet high in cholesterol and fat, particularly saturated fat, is the primary cause of atherosclerosis, which results when fat and cholesterol deposits build up in the arteries, causing a reduction in blood flow.

To determine healthful nutrition standards, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a nonprofit, scholarly society that advises the United States government, periodically assembles committees of national experts to update and assess nutrition guidelines. The NAS first published its Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) in 1941. An RDA reflects the amount of a nutrient in the diet that should decrease the risk of chronic disease for most healthy individuals. The NAS originally developed the RDAs to ensure that World War II soldiers stationed around the world received enough of the right kinds of foods to maintain their health. The NAS periodically has updated the RDAs to reflect new knowledge of nutrient needs.

In the late 1990s the NAS decided that the RDAs, originally developed to prevent nutrient deficiencies, needed to serve instead as a guide for optimizing health. Consequently, the NAS created Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), which incorporate the RDAs and a variety of new dietary guidelines. As part of this change, the NAS replaced some RDAs with another measure, called Adequate Intake (AI). Although the AI recommendations are often the same as those in the original RDA, use of this term reflects that there is not enough scientific evidence to set a standard for the nutrient. Calcium has an AI of 1000 to 1200 mg per day, not an RDA, because scientists do not yet know how much calcium is needed to prevent osteoporosis.
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) designates the highest recommended intake of a nutrient for good health. If intake exceeds this amount, health problems may develop. Calcium, for instance, has a UL of 2500 mg per day. Scientists know that more than this amount of calcium taken every day can interfere with the absorption of iron, zinc, and magnesium and may result in kidney stones or kidney failure.

Estimated Average Requirement (EAR) reflects the amount of a particular nutrient that meets the optimal needs of half the individuals in a specified group. For example, the NAS cites an EAR of 45 to 90 grams of protein for men aged 18 to 25. This figure means that half the men in that population need a daily intake of protein that falls within that range.

To simplify the complex standards established by the NAS, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) created the Food Guide Pyramid, a visual display of the relative importance to health of six food groups common to the American diet. The food groups are arranged in a pyramid to emphasize that it is wise to choose an abundance of foods from the category at the broad base (bread, cereal, rice, pasta) and use sparingly foods from the peak (fats, oils, sweets). The other food groups appear between these two extremes, indicating the importance of vegetables and fruits and the need for moderation in eating dairy products and meats. The pyramid recommends a range of the number of servings to choose from each group, based on the nutritional needs of males and females and different age groups. Other food pyramids have been developed based on the USDA pyramid to help people choose foods that fit a specific ethnic or cultural pattern, including Mediterranean, Asian, Latin American, Puerto Rican, and vegetarian diets.

In an effort to provide additional nutritional guidance and reduce the incidence of diet-related cancers, the National Cancer Institute developed the 5-a-Day Campaign for Better Health, a program that promotes the practice of eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Studies of populations that eat many fruits and vegetables reveal a decreased incidence of diet-related cancers. Laboratory studies have shown that many fruits and vegetables contain phytochemicals, substances that appear to limit the growth of cancer cells.

Many people obtain most of their nutrition information from a food label called the Nutrition Facts panel. This label is mandatory for most foods that contain more than one ingredient, and these foods are mostly processed foods. Labeling remains voluntary for raw meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, foods produced by small businesses, and those sold in restaurants, food stands, and local bakeries.

The Nutrition Facts panel highlights a product’s content of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and the minerals calcium and iron. The stated content of these nutrients must be based on a standard serving size, as defined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Food manufacturers may provide information about other nutrients if they choose. However, if a nutritional claim is made on a product’s package, the appropriate nutrient content must be listed. For example, if the package says “high in folic acid,” then the folic acid content in the product must be given in the Nutrition Facts panel.

The Nutrition Facts panel also includes important information in a column headed % Daily Value (DV). DVs tell how the food item meets the recommended daily intakes of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and protein necessary for nutritional health based on the total intake recommended for a person consuming 2000 calories per day. One portion from a can of soup, for example, may have less than 2 percent of the recommended daily value for cholesterol intake.

Health-conscious consumers can use the Nutrition Facts panel to guide their food choices. For example, based on a daily diet of 2000 calories, nutrition experts recommend that no more than 30 percent of those calories should be from fat, which would allow for a daily intake of around 65 grams of fat. A Nutrition Facts panel may indicate that a serving of one brand of macaroni and cheese contains 14 grams of fat, or a % DV of 25 percent. This tells the consumer that a serving of macaroni and cheese provides about one-fourth of the suggested healthy level of daily fat intake. If another brand of macaroni and cheese displays a % DRV of 10 percent fat, the nutrition-conscious consumer would opt for this brand.

Nutritionists and other health experts help consumers make good food choices. People who study nutrition in college may refer to themselves as nutritionists; often, however, the term refers to a scientist who has pursued graduate education in this field. A nutritionist may also be a dietitian. Dietitians are trained in nutrition, food chemistry, and diet planning. In the United States, dietitians typically have graduated from a college program accredited by the American Dietetic Association (ADA), completed an approved program of clinical experience, and passed the ADA’s registration examination to earn the title Registered Dietitian (RD).

Q14: What are fertilizers ? what do you understand by the term NPK fertilizer ? How do fertilizers contribute to water pollution ?

Fertilizer, natural or synthetic chemical substance or mixture used to enrich soil so as to promote plant growth. Plants do not require complex chemical compounds analogous to the vitamins and amino acids required for human nutrition, because plants are able to synthesize whatever compounds they need. They do require more than a dozen different chemical elements and these elements must be present in such forms as to allow an adequate availability for plant use. Within this restriction, nitrogen, for example, can be supplied with equal effectiveness in the form of urea, nitrates, ammonium compounds, or pure ammonia.

Virgin soil usually contains adequate amounts of all the elements required for proper plant nutrition. When a particular crop is grown on the same parcel of land year after year, however, the land may become exhausted of one or more specific nutrients. If such exhaustion occurs, nutrients in the form of fertilizers must be added to the soil. Plants can also be made to grow more lushly with suitable fertilizers.

Of the required nutrients, hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon are supplied in inexhaustible form by air and water. Sulfur, calcium, and iron are necessary nutrients that usually are present in soil in ample quantities. Lime (calcium) is often added to soil, but its function is primarily to reduce acidity and not, in the strict sense, to act as a fertilizer. Nitrogen is present in enormous quantities in the atmosphere, but plants are not able to use nitrogen in this form; bacteria provide nitrogen from the air to plants of the legume family through a process called nitrogen fixation. The three elements that most commonly must be supplied in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Certain other elements, such as boron, copper, and manganese, sometimes need to be included in small quantities.

Many fertilizers used since ancient times contain one or more of the three elements important to the soil. For example, manure and guano contain nitrogen. Bones contain small quantities of nitrogen and larger quantities of phosphorus. Wood ash contains appreciable quantities of potassium (depending considerably on the type of wood). Clover, alfalfa, and other legumes are grown as rotating crops and then plowed under, enriching the soil with nitrogen.

The term complete fertilizer often refers to any mixture containing all three important elements; such fertilizers are described by a set of three numbers. For example, 5-8-7 designates a fertilizer (usually in powder or granular form) containing 5 percent nitrogen, 8 percent phosphorus (calculated as phosphorus pentoxide), and 7 percent potassium (calculated as potassium oxide).

While fertilizers are essential to modern agriculture, their overuse can have harmful effects on plants and crops and on soil quality. In addition, the leaching of nutrients into bodies of water can lead to water pollution problems such as eutrophication, by causing excessive growth of vegetation.

The use of industrial waste materials in commercial fertilizers has been encouraged in the United States as a means of recycling waste products. The safety of this practice has recently been called into question. Its opponents argue that industrial wastes often contain elements that poison the soil and can introduce toxic chemicals into the food chain.

Last edited by Last Island; Sunday, December 30, 2007 at 08:18 PM.
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