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SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
In this chapter we shall discuss two
destructive natural phenomena. These
are lightning and earthquakes. We shall
also discuss what steps we can take to
minimise destruction caused by
these phenomena.
12.1Lightning
You might have seen sparks on a
electric pole when wires become loose.
This phenomenon is quite common
when wind is blowing and shaking the
wires. You might also have seen sparks
when a plug is loose in its socket.
Lightning is also an electric spark, but
on a huge scale.
In ancient times, people did not
understand the cause of these sparks.
They were, therefore, afraid of lightning
and thought that the wrath of gods was
visiting them. Now, of course, we
understand that lightning is caused by
the accumulation of charges in the
clouds. We need not be afraid of
lightning, but we have to take
precautions to protect ourselves from
the deadly sparks.
The Sparks that the Greeks Knew
About
The ancient Greeks knew as early as
600 B.C. that when amber (amber is a
kind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it
attracted light objects such as hair. You
might have seen that when you take
off woollen or polyester clothes, your
hair stands on end. If you take off these
clothes in the dark, you even see a
spark and hear a crackling sound. In
1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American
scientist, showed that lightning and the
spark from your clothes are essentially
the same phenomena. However, it took
2000 years for this realisation to occur.
We shall now study some properties
of electric charges. We shall also see how
they are related to the lightning in the
sky.
Let us perform some activities to
understand the nature of electric
charges. But recall first what you might
have played as a game. When you rub
I wonder why they took so
many years to realise the
similarity.
Scientific discoveries are a
result of hardwork by many
people. It can sometimes take
a long time.
Rationalised-2023-24
Page 2


SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
In this chapter we shall discuss two
destructive natural phenomena. These
are lightning and earthquakes. We shall
also discuss what steps we can take to
minimise destruction caused by
these phenomena.
12.1Lightning
You might have seen sparks on a
electric pole when wires become loose.
This phenomenon is quite common
when wind is blowing and shaking the
wires. You might also have seen sparks
when a plug is loose in its socket.
Lightning is also an electric spark, but
on a huge scale.
In ancient times, people did not
understand the cause of these sparks.
They were, therefore, afraid of lightning
and thought that the wrath of gods was
visiting them. Now, of course, we
understand that lightning is caused by
the accumulation of charges in the
clouds. We need not be afraid of
lightning, but we have to take
precautions to protect ourselves from
the deadly sparks.
The Sparks that the Greeks Knew
About
The ancient Greeks knew as early as
600 B.C. that when amber (amber is a
kind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it
attracted light objects such as hair. You
might have seen that when you take
off woollen or polyester clothes, your
hair stands on end. If you take off these
clothes in the dark, you even see a
spark and hear a crackling sound. In
1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American
scientist, showed that lightning and the
spark from your clothes are essentially
the same phenomena. However, it took
2000 years for this realisation to occur.
We shall now study some properties
of electric charges. We shall also see how
they are related to the lightning in the
sky.
Let us perform some activities to
understand the nature of electric
charges. But recall first what you might
have played as a game. When you rub
I wonder why they took so
many years to realise the
similarity.
Scientific discoveries are a
result of hardwork by many
people. It can sometimes take
a long time.
Rationalised-2023-24
a plastic scale on your dry hair, the
scale can attract very small pieces of
paper.
12.2 Charging by Rubbing
Activity 12.1
Take a used ballpen refill and rub
it vigorously with a piece of
polythene. Bring it close to small
pieces of paper. Take care not to
touch the rubbed end of the refill
with your hand or with a metallic
object. Repeat the activity with
small pieces of dry leaf, husk and
mustard seeds. Record your
observations.
When a plastic refill is rubbed with
polythene, it acquires a small electric
charge. Similarly, when a plastic comb
is rubbed with dry hair, it acquires a
small charge. These objects are called
charged objects. In the process of
charging the refill and the plastic comb,
polythene and hair also get charged.
Let’s try to charge some other
objects  that are familiar to you.
Table 12.1
Objects Rubbed Materials Attracts/does not Charged/
Used for Rubbing Attract Pieces Not Charged
of Paper
Refill Polythene,
woollen cloth
Balloon Polythene, woollen
cloth, dry hair
Eraser Wool
Steel spoon Polythene,
woollen cloth
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 151
Activity 12.2
Collect the objects and the materials listed in Table 12.1. Try to charge each
by rubbing with the materials mentioned in the Table. Record your findings.
You can add more items to the Table.
Rationalised-2023-24
Page 3


SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
In this chapter we shall discuss two
destructive natural phenomena. These
are lightning and earthquakes. We shall
also discuss what steps we can take to
minimise destruction caused by
these phenomena.
12.1Lightning
You might have seen sparks on a
electric pole when wires become loose.
This phenomenon is quite common
when wind is blowing and shaking the
wires. You might also have seen sparks
when a plug is loose in its socket.
Lightning is also an electric spark, but
on a huge scale.
In ancient times, people did not
understand the cause of these sparks.
They were, therefore, afraid of lightning
and thought that the wrath of gods was
visiting them. Now, of course, we
understand that lightning is caused by
the accumulation of charges in the
clouds. We need not be afraid of
lightning, but we have to take
precautions to protect ourselves from
the deadly sparks.
The Sparks that the Greeks Knew
About
The ancient Greeks knew as early as
600 B.C. that when amber (amber is a
kind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it
attracted light objects such as hair. You
might have seen that when you take
off woollen or polyester clothes, your
hair stands on end. If you take off these
clothes in the dark, you even see a
spark and hear a crackling sound. In
1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American
scientist, showed that lightning and the
spark from your clothes are essentially
the same phenomena. However, it took
2000 years for this realisation to occur.
We shall now study some properties
of electric charges. We shall also see how
they are related to the lightning in the
sky.
Let us perform some activities to
understand the nature of electric
charges. But recall first what you might
have played as a game. When you rub
I wonder why they took so
many years to realise the
similarity.
Scientific discoveries are a
result of hardwork by many
people. It can sometimes take
a long time.
Rationalised-2023-24
a plastic scale on your dry hair, the
scale can attract very small pieces of
paper.
12.2 Charging by Rubbing
Activity 12.1
Take a used ballpen refill and rub
it vigorously with a piece of
polythene. Bring it close to small
pieces of paper. Take care not to
touch the rubbed end of the refill
with your hand or with a metallic
object. Repeat the activity with
small pieces of dry leaf, husk and
mustard seeds. Record your
observations.
When a plastic refill is rubbed with
polythene, it acquires a small electric
charge. Similarly, when a plastic comb
is rubbed with dry hair, it acquires a
small charge. These objects are called
charged objects. In the process of
charging the refill and the plastic comb,
polythene and hair also get charged.
Let’s try to charge some other
objects  that are familiar to you.
Table 12.1
Objects Rubbed Materials Attracts/does not Charged/
Used for Rubbing Attract Pieces Not Charged
of Paper
Refill Polythene,
woollen cloth
Balloon Polythene, woollen
cloth, dry hair
Eraser Wool
Steel spoon Polythene,
woollen cloth
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 151
Activity 12.2
Collect the objects and the materials listed in Table 12.1. Try to charge each
by rubbing with the materials mentioned in the Table. Record your findings.
You can add more items to the Table.
Rationalised-2023-24
SCIENCE 152
12.3 Types of Charges and
Their Interaction
We will select some objects from
Table 12.1 for the next activity.
Activity 12.3
(a) Inflate two balloons. Hang them
in such a way that they do not touch
each other (Fig. 15.1). Rub both the
balloons with a woollen cloth and
release them. What do you observe?
Rub the other refill also with
polythene. Bring it close to the
charged refill. Be careful not to
touch the charged end with your
hand. Is there any effect on the refill
in the tumbler? Do the two attract
each other, or repel each other?
In this activity we have brought
close together the charged objects
that were made of the same
material. What happens if two
charged objects made of different
materials are brought close to each
other? Let’s find out.
(b) Rub a refill and place it gently in
a glass tumbler as before
(Fig. 12.3). Bring an inflated charged
balloon near the refill and observe.
Fig. 12.1 : Like charges repel each other
Fig. 12.2 : Interaction between like charges
Now let us repeat this activity
with the used pen refills. Rub one
refill with polythene. Place it
carefully in a glass tumbler using
the tumbler as a stand (Fig. 12.2).
Fig. 12.3 : Unlike charges attract each other
Let’s summarise the observations:
l A charged balloon repelled a charged
balloon.
l A charged refill repelled a charged
refill.
l But a charged balloon attracted a
charged refill.
Does it indicate that the charge on
the balloon is of a different kind from
the charge on the refill? Can we say
then, that there are two kinds of
       
                   
       
Rationalised-2023-24
Page 4


SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
In this chapter we shall discuss two
destructive natural phenomena. These
are lightning and earthquakes. We shall
also discuss what steps we can take to
minimise destruction caused by
these phenomena.
12.1Lightning
You might have seen sparks on a
electric pole when wires become loose.
This phenomenon is quite common
when wind is blowing and shaking the
wires. You might also have seen sparks
when a plug is loose in its socket.
Lightning is also an electric spark, but
on a huge scale.
In ancient times, people did not
understand the cause of these sparks.
They were, therefore, afraid of lightning
and thought that the wrath of gods was
visiting them. Now, of course, we
understand that lightning is caused by
the accumulation of charges in the
clouds. We need not be afraid of
lightning, but we have to take
precautions to protect ourselves from
the deadly sparks.
The Sparks that the Greeks Knew
About
The ancient Greeks knew as early as
600 B.C. that when amber (amber is a
kind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it
attracted light objects such as hair. You
might have seen that when you take
off woollen or polyester clothes, your
hair stands on end. If you take off these
clothes in the dark, you even see a
spark and hear a crackling sound. In
1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American
scientist, showed that lightning and the
spark from your clothes are essentially
the same phenomena. However, it took
2000 years for this realisation to occur.
We shall now study some properties
of electric charges. We shall also see how
they are related to the lightning in the
sky.
Let us perform some activities to
understand the nature of electric
charges. But recall first what you might
have played as a game. When you rub
I wonder why they took so
many years to realise the
similarity.
Scientific discoveries are a
result of hardwork by many
people. It can sometimes take
a long time.
Rationalised-2023-24
a plastic scale on your dry hair, the
scale can attract very small pieces of
paper.
12.2 Charging by Rubbing
Activity 12.1
Take a used ballpen refill and rub
it vigorously with a piece of
polythene. Bring it close to small
pieces of paper. Take care not to
touch the rubbed end of the refill
with your hand or with a metallic
object. Repeat the activity with
small pieces of dry leaf, husk and
mustard seeds. Record your
observations.
When a plastic refill is rubbed with
polythene, it acquires a small electric
charge. Similarly, when a plastic comb
is rubbed with dry hair, it acquires a
small charge. These objects are called
charged objects. In the process of
charging the refill and the plastic comb,
polythene and hair also get charged.
Let’s try to charge some other
objects  that are familiar to you.
Table 12.1
Objects Rubbed Materials Attracts/does not Charged/
Used for Rubbing Attract Pieces Not Charged
of Paper
Refill Polythene,
woollen cloth
Balloon Polythene, woollen
cloth, dry hair
Eraser Wool
Steel spoon Polythene,
woollen cloth
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 151
Activity 12.2
Collect the objects and the materials listed in Table 12.1. Try to charge each
by rubbing with the materials mentioned in the Table. Record your findings.
You can add more items to the Table.
Rationalised-2023-24
SCIENCE 152
12.3 Types of Charges and
Their Interaction
We will select some objects from
Table 12.1 for the next activity.
Activity 12.3
(a) Inflate two balloons. Hang them
in such a way that they do not touch
each other (Fig. 15.1). Rub both the
balloons with a woollen cloth and
release them. What do you observe?
Rub the other refill also with
polythene. Bring it close to the
charged refill. Be careful not to
touch the charged end with your
hand. Is there any effect on the refill
in the tumbler? Do the two attract
each other, or repel each other?
In this activity we have brought
close together the charged objects
that were made of the same
material. What happens if two
charged objects made of different
materials are brought close to each
other? Let’s find out.
(b) Rub a refill and place it gently in
a glass tumbler as before
(Fig. 12.3). Bring an inflated charged
balloon near the refill and observe.
Fig. 12.1 : Like charges repel each other
Fig. 12.2 : Interaction between like charges
Now let us repeat this activity
with the used pen refills. Rub one
refill with polythene. Place it
carefully in a glass tumbler using
the tumbler as a stand (Fig. 12.2).
Fig. 12.3 : Unlike charges attract each other
Let’s summarise the observations:
l A charged balloon repelled a charged
balloon.
l A charged refill repelled a charged
refill.
l But a charged balloon attracted a
charged refill.
Does it indicate that the charge on
the balloon is of a different kind from
the charge on the refill? Can we say
then, that there are two kinds of
       
                   
       
Rationalised-2023-24
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 153
charges? Can we also say that the
charges of the same kind repel each
other, while charges of different kind
attract each other?
It is a convention to call  the charge
acquired by a glass rod when it is
rubbed with silk as positive.  The
other kind of charge is said to be
negative.
It is observed that when a charged
glass rod is brought near a charged
plastic straw rubbed with polythene
there is attraction between the two.
What do you think would be the kind
of charge on the plastic straw? Your
guess, that the plastic straw would carry
a negative charge is correct.
The electrical charges generated by
rubbing are static. They do not move by
themselves. When charges move, they
constitute an electric current. You have
been reading about electric current since
Class VI.  The current in a circuit which
makes a bulb glow, or the current that
makes a wire hot, is nothing but a
motion of charges.
12.4Transfer of Charge
Activity 12.4
Take an empty jam bottle. Take a
piece of cardboard slightly bigger in
size than the mouth of the bottle.
Pierce a hole in it so that a metal
paper clip can be inserted. Open out
the paper clip as shown in Fig. 12.4.
Cut two strips of aluminium foil
about 4 cm × 1 cm each. Hang them
on the paper clip as shown. Insert
the paper clip in the cardboard lid
so that it is perpendicular to it
(Fig. 12.4). Charge a refill and touch
Fig 12.4 : A simple electroscope
it with the end of the paper clip.
Observe what happens. Is there any
effect on the foil strips? Do they
repel each other or attract each
other? Now, touch other charged
bodies with the end of the paper clip.
Do foil strips behave in the same
way in all cases? Can this apparatus
be used to detect whether a body is
charged or not? Can you explain
why the foil strips repel each other?
The aluminium foil strips receive the
same charge from the charged refill
through the paper clip (remember that
metals are good conductors of
electricity). The strips carrying similar
charges repel each other and they
become wide open. Such a device can
be used to test whether an object is
carrying charge or not. This device is
known as electroscope.
Thus, we find that electrical charge
can be transferred from a charged object
to another through a metal conductor.
Touch the end of the paper clip gently
with hand and you will find a change in
Rationalised-2023-24
Page 5


SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA
In this chapter we shall discuss two
destructive natural phenomena. These
are lightning and earthquakes. We shall
also discuss what steps we can take to
minimise destruction caused by
these phenomena.
12.1Lightning
You might have seen sparks on a
electric pole when wires become loose.
This phenomenon is quite common
when wind is blowing and shaking the
wires. You might also have seen sparks
when a plug is loose in its socket.
Lightning is also an electric spark, but
on a huge scale.
In ancient times, people did not
understand the cause of these sparks.
They were, therefore, afraid of lightning
and thought that the wrath of gods was
visiting them. Now, of course, we
understand that lightning is caused by
the accumulation of charges in the
clouds. We need not be afraid of
lightning, but we have to take
precautions to protect ourselves from
the deadly sparks.
The Sparks that the Greeks Knew
About
The ancient Greeks knew as early as
600 B.C. that when amber (amber is a
kind of resin) was rubbed with fur, it
attracted light objects such as hair. You
might have seen that when you take
off woollen or polyester clothes, your
hair stands on end. If you take off these
clothes in the dark, you even see a
spark and hear a crackling sound. In
1752 Benjamin Franklin, an American
scientist, showed that lightning and the
spark from your clothes are essentially
the same phenomena. However, it took
2000 years for this realisation to occur.
We shall now study some properties
of electric charges. We shall also see how
they are related to the lightning in the
sky.
Let us perform some activities to
understand the nature of electric
charges. But recall first what you might
have played as a game. When you rub
I wonder why they took so
many years to realise the
similarity.
Scientific discoveries are a
result of hardwork by many
people. It can sometimes take
a long time.
Rationalised-2023-24
a plastic scale on your dry hair, the
scale can attract very small pieces of
paper.
12.2 Charging by Rubbing
Activity 12.1
Take a used ballpen refill and rub
it vigorously with a piece of
polythene. Bring it close to small
pieces of paper. Take care not to
touch the rubbed end of the refill
with your hand or with a metallic
object. Repeat the activity with
small pieces of dry leaf, husk and
mustard seeds. Record your
observations.
When a plastic refill is rubbed with
polythene, it acquires a small electric
charge. Similarly, when a plastic comb
is rubbed with dry hair, it acquires a
small charge. These objects are called
charged objects. In the process of
charging the refill and the plastic comb,
polythene and hair also get charged.
Let’s try to charge some other
objects  that are familiar to you.
Table 12.1
Objects Rubbed Materials Attracts/does not Charged/
Used for Rubbing Attract Pieces Not Charged
of Paper
Refill Polythene,
woollen cloth
Balloon Polythene, woollen
cloth, dry hair
Eraser Wool
Steel spoon Polythene,
woollen cloth
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 151
Activity 12.2
Collect the objects and the materials listed in Table 12.1. Try to charge each
by rubbing with the materials mentioned in the Table. Record your findings.
You can add more items to the Table.
Rationalised-2023-24
SCIENCE 152
12.3 Types of Charges and
Their Interaction
We will select some objects from
Table 12.1 for the next activity.
Activity 12.3
(a) Inflate two balloons. Hang them
in such a way that they do not touch
each other (Fig. 15.1). Rub both the
balloons with a woollen cloth and
release them. What do you observe?
Rub the other refill also with
polythene. Bring it close to the
charged refill. Be careful not to
touch the charged end with your
hand. Is there any effect on the refill
in the tumbler? Do the two attract
each other, or repel each other?
In this activity we have brought
close together the charged objects
that were made of the same
material. What happens if two
charged objects made of different
materials are brought close to each
other? Let’s find out.
(b) Rub a refill and place it gently in
a glass tumbler as before
(Fig. 12.3). Bring an inflated charged
balloon near the refill and observe.
Fig. 12.1 : Like charges repel each other
Fig. 12.2 : Interaction between like charges
Now let us repeat this activity
with the used pen refills. Rub one
refill with polythene. Place it
carefully in a glass tumbler using
the tumbler as a stand (Fig. 12.2).
Fig. 12.3 : Unlike charges attract each other
Let’s summarise the observations:
l A charged balloon repelled a charged
balloon.
l A charged refill repelled a charged
refill.
l But a charged balloon attracted a
charged refill.
Does it indicate that the charge on
the balloon is of a different kind from
the charge on the refill? Can we say
then, that there are two kinds of
       
                   
       
Rationalised-2023-24
SOME NATURAL PHENOMENA 153
charges? Can we also say that the
charges of the same kind repel each
other, while charges of different kind
attract each other?
It is a convention to call  the charge
acquired by a glass rod when it is
rubbed with silk as positive.  The
other kind of charge is said to be
negative.
It is observed that when a charged
glass rod is brought near a charged
plastic straw rubbed with polythene
there is attraction between the two.
What do you think would be the kind
of charge on the plastic straw? Your
guess, that the plastic straw would carry
a negative charge is correct.
The electrical charges generated by
rubbing are static. They do not move by
themselves. When charges move, they
constitute an electric current. You have
been reading about electric current since
Class VI.  The current in a circuit which
makes a bulb glow, or the current that
makes a wire hot, is nothing but a
motion of charges.
12.4Transfer of Charge
Activity 12.4
Take an empty jam bottle. Take a
piece of cardboard slightly bigger in
size than the mouth of the bottle.
Pierce a hole in it so that a metal
paper clip can be inserted. Open out
the paper clip as shown in Fig. 12.4.
Cut two strips of aluminium foil
about 4 cm × 1 cm each. Hang them
on the paper clip as shown. Insert
the paper clip in the cardboard lid
so that it is perpendicular to it
(Fig. 12.4). Charge a refill and touch
Fig 12.4 : A simple electroscope
it with the end of the paper clip.
Observe what happens. Is there any
effect on the foil strips? Do they
repel each other or attract each
other? Now, touch other charged
bodies with the end of the paper clip.
Do foil strips behave in the same
way in all cases? Can this apparatus
be used to detect whether a body is
charged or not? Can you explain
why the foil strips repel each other?
The aluminium foil strips receive the
same charge from the charged refill
through the paper clip (remember that
metals are good conductors of
electricity). The strips carrying similar
charges repel each other and they
become wide open. Such a device can
be used to test whether an object is
carrying charge or not. This device is
known as electroscope.
Thus, we find that electrical charge
can be transferred from a charged object
to another through a metal conductor.
Touch the end of the paper clip gently
with hand and you will find a change in
Rationalised-2023-24
SCIENCE 154
the foil strips. They come back to their
original state. Repeat charging of foil
strips and touching the paper clip. Every
time you will find that the foil strips
collapse as soon as you touch the
paperclip with hand. Why does it
happen? The reason is that the foil strips
lose charge to the earth through your
body. We say that the foil strips are
discharged. The process of transferring
of charge from a charged object to the
earth is called earthing.
Earthing is provided in buildings to
protect us from electrical shocks due
to any leakage of electrical current.
12.5 The Story of Lightning
It is now possible to explain lightning
in terms of the charges produced by
rubbing.
During the development of a
thunderstorm, the air currents move
upward while the water droplets move
downward. These vigorous movements
cause separation of charges. By a
process, not yet completely understood,
the positive charges collect near the
upper edges of the clouds and the
negative charges accumulate near the
lower edges. There is accumulation of
positive charges near the ground also.
When the magnitude of the
accumulated charges becomes very
large, the air which is normally a poor
conductor of electricity, is no longer able
to resist their flow. Negative and positive
charges meet, producing streaks of
bright light and sound. We see streaks
as lightning (Fig. 12.5). The process is
called an electric discharge.
Fig. 12.5 : Accumulation of charges leading to lightning.
Rationalised-2023-24
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FAQs on NCERT Textbook: Some Natural Phenomena - Science & Technology for UPSC CSE

1. What are natural phenomena?
Ans. Natural phenomena refer to occurrences in nature that can be observed and studied. These can include events such as thunderstorms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and the formation of rainbows.
2. How are lightning and thunder related?
Ans. Lightning and thunder are closely related. When a lightning bolt occurs, it heats up the air around it rapidly, causing the air to expand. This rapid expansion of air creates a shockwave, which we hear as thunder. Therefore, thunder is the sound produced by the rapid expansion and contraction of air caused by a lightning bolt.
3. What causes earthquakes?
Ans. Earthquakes are caused by the sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust. This release of energy occurs due to the movement and interaction of tectonic plates. When these plates rub against each other or collide, they can build up enormous stress. Eventually, this stress becomes too great, and the rocks break or slip along a fault line, causing an earthquake.
4. How are tsunamis formed?
Ans. Tsunamis are formed by underwater earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or landslides. When an undersea earthquake occurs, it causes the ocean floor to move, displacing a large amount of water above it. This displacement of water creates a series of powerful waves that travel across the ocean, eventually reaching coastal areas as tsunamis.
5. What causes the formation of rainbows?
Ans. Rainbows are formed when sunlight passes through raindrops in the atmosphere. As the sunlight enters the raindrop, it bends or refracts, and then reflects off the inner surface of the droplet. This reflection causes the different colors of light to separate and form a circle of colors. When the reflected light exits the raindrop, it refracts again, causing the rainbow to appear in the sky.
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NCERT Textbook: Some Natural Phenomena | Science & Technology for UPSC CSE

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NCERT Textbook: Some Natural Phenomena | Science & Technology for UPSC CSE

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NCERT Textbook: Some Natural Phenomena | Science & Technology for UPSC CSE

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