July-September 2002 Issue
Fusion of multi
tiny specks of Pranav which pervades the Universe in the shape of OM. A
drawing by Late Radha Krishen Kaul (Kotha), retired Asstt. Engineer of
Bal Garden, Srinagar (Originally of Rainawari). Shri Kotha passed away
in September 1994 at Delhi
Castles of Mud: The towering spires,
domes and pyramids that termites build are impressive enough from the outside,
but on the inside, the architectural sophistication is truly extraordinary.
There are larders, gardens, air conditioning systems, nurseries, living
chambers cellars, wells, chimneys and royal chambers.
A Royal Kingdom: Termite colonies
are ruled by the king and the queen, which are the only fertile termites
in the colony. They remain in the royal chamber, where the queen spends
her life as an egg-laying machine. She is attended by worker termites,
who look after the eggs and larvae and also maintain the mound. Soldier
termites, with enlarged jaws, defend the entrances to the colony.
Inner-city Designs: The blind worker
termites construct their fantastic castles out of earth mixed with saliva,
which sets like concrete. The walls can be 50 cms. thick, although the
specifications vary with each species.
Living Larders: Bellicose termites
from Africa eat mainly dead wood, which is difficult to digest, so their
droppings are still rich in nutrients. To avoid waste, the termites cultivate
a fungus on their droppings, which breaks down the manure and after six
weeks, the termites can eat and digest the compost, fungal growth and all.
Air Conditioning: An active colony
produces a lot of heat, so termites have incorporated a cooling system
into their design. Hot air rises through a large central cavity into upper
porous chimneys, where hot carbon-dioxide-rich air diffuses out and fresh,
oxygenated air diffuses in. The fresh, cool air then sinks to a cellar
at the base of the nest. Sometimes termites dig a deep well down to the
water table.. The moisture helps the fungus to grow.