Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Interactive Science Series
Q: Your article why-some-interesting-things-happen-in-nature clearly shows that several things that happen in Nature have been very well explained by science. But still why do people say they are mysteries science couldn't unravel until now?
MR: There are several reasons for this suppression of truth.
1. Ignorance. People read old and outdated articles written long back and think the mysteries are still unresolved problems. And they refuse to get updated.
2. Commercial purposes. Unless you tell tourists the phenomena are still puzzles that science couldn't solve and keep the enigmas surrounding them going, they might not have any interest in visiting them.
3. Games played by the media. To get traffic, media people sometimes either suppress the truth or say it still is a controversy.
4. Plot of Religious people to exploit innocent people by spreading the fear of the unknown.
But all this is belittling science and keeping people still in an ignorant state. That is why I chose to write on them explaining the scientific facts behind these natural phenomena.
The bottom line is you cannot keep the public in a backward state forever by suppressing the truth.
Q: Some people like Elon Musk believe we are probably characters in some advanced civilization's video game. What is your take on this view?
MR: I find these views funny. Some physicists and philosophers think we are living in a computer simulation!
There is a reason to think we might be virtual. The more we learn about the universe, the more it appears to be based on mathematical laws. Perhaps that is not a given, but a function of the nature of the universe we are living in. If we were characters in a computer game, we would also discover eventually that the rules seemed completely rigid and mathematical. That just reflects the computer code in which it was written.
Proving the opposite—that the universe is real—might be hard. You’re not going to get proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence that we get could be simulated too if this is really a simulation!
But without any evidence, how can you come to any conclusion? Just a hypothesis of crazy minds. Imagining that everything in our lives is just a creation of some other entity for their entertainment sounds like religious people saying we are dolls in the hands of a God!
Why, Our Creator in that case could be just some teenage hacker in the next universe up in the sky!
Fad of the moment in scientific history? Maybe!
I prefer to smile and move on.
But at least two of Silicon Valley’s tech billionaires are pouring money into efforts to break humans out of the simulation that they believe that it is living in, according to a recent report.
Q: Is there any truth behind blood group personality theory and blood-type diet theory?
MR: There are magazines and television shows that give Blood Group horoscopes and personality types. And there are people who believe in this pseudo-science.
The ‘Blood-Type’ diet advises individuals to eat according to their ABO blood group to improve their health and decrease risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Adherence to certain ‘Blood-Type’ diets is associated with favorable effects on some cardiometabolic risk factors, but these associations were independent of an individual's ABO genotype, so the findings of research do not support the ‘Blood-Type’ diet hypothesis (1). Researchers from the University of Toronto (U of T) have found that the theory behind the popular blood type diet--which claims an individual's nutritional needs vary by blood type--is not valid. Based on the data of 1,455 study participants, scientists found no evidence to support the 'blood-type' diet theory.
As far as the scientific research is concerned, there is no proven correlation between blood group and personality of human beings.
Q: What is the purpose of dragon flies?
MR: Do you mean their role in eco-systems?
Dragonflies and damselflies are predatory both in the aquatic nymphal and adult stages. Nymphs feed on a range of freshwater invertebrates and larger ones can prey on tadpoles and small fish. Adults capture insect prey in the air, making use of their acute vision and highly controlled flight. They like to eat gnats, mayflies, flies, mosquitoes and other small flying insects. They sometimes eat butterflies, moths and bees too.
Well, they help somewhat in the control of mosquitoes and flies and of course the destructive caterpillars. But they are considered a pest by apiaries because they can eat off a good chunk of the bee population before one can realize the threat.
Q: How do wild fires start?
MR: Wildfires, also known as forest fires, grass fires, or even bush fires are uncontrolled fires that usually happen in so-called “wild” areas uninhabited by people. However, they spread quickly, especially in times of drought, and can extend into areas where there are houses and other agricultural resources.
Wildfires are most commonly caused by reckless people, but can also be ignited by lightning or even volcanic eruptions. To grow, wildfires need fuel in the form of trees or other vegetation, so the climate must be moist enough to support plant growth but also involve long, dry heat waves. They are most common in wooded areas in the United States and Canada, as well as Australia and the Western Cape in South Africa.
Wildfires are often accelerated by winds, hot, dry air that blows in from the deserts around. These powerful, fast-moving winds can help wildfires cover 40 miles in a single day.
If the conditions are right, wildfires can also produce what is called a fire tornado or a fire devil or sometimes even a firenado. This weather phenomenon appears to be just what it sounds like: a tornado made of fire, although its formation is more similar to that of a dust devil than an actual tornado.
When hot, dry air rises quickly from the ground it forms a column within which the density of the air decreases with height. The less dense air at the top will cool and dissipate, leaving the column, while more, hotter air gets pulled in from the bottom. Thanks to angular momentum, this creates a vertical vortex where the spinning hot air picks up fire debris like embers, ashes, and hot gases. Although at heights of hundreds of feet they can be terrifying looking, firenados usually only last a few minutes. However, they are fast moving, and so can cause wildfires to spread while causing their own significant damage in their short lifetimes.
Q: Do scientists think harder than ordinary people?
MR: Scientists think differently from other people. "Critical Thinking" ( variously defined as: "the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion", "disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence") is what drives the world of science.
People outside of labs don't do critical thinking as much as the scientists do. The former's thinking process can be hap hazard, directed by various biases and conditioning of minds.
There lies the difference.
Q: What is the greatest invention in the entire history of science?
MR: The greatest invention of the human mind is the scientific method - the systematic, rational and skeptical approach to claims about the way the world works.
Without it other inventions, discoveries, answers to our curious questions, solutions to our highly challenging problems wouldn't have been possible so frequently and relatively accurately.
Q: Which factor decides success? Hard work or Intelligence?
MR: A bit of both are essential for success!
There is a saying...
Hard work will always beat intelligence, only if intelligence doesn’t work hard enough.
But still a realistic answer would be ... Intelligence is much superior to hard work. If you keep working hard without knowing the right way, you hardly reach anywhere.
Q: How can a dimpled surface on a golf ball reduce drag?
MR: The reason the dimples reduce drag is because they trip the boundary layer in the region where the flow separates, and that causes the wake to be smaller and have less pressure drag.
Q: Are human beings so important in Earth's history that an era has to be dedicated to them?
MR: Anthropocene, the era in which one species—human beings—so utterly dominates the planet that all of the driving forces of climate, oceans, geology, air and every other life form on Earth are controlled by the activities of humanity.
Yes, we are actually - knowingly or unknowingly - sculpting the Earth's present and future. No other living being that ever existed/existing on this planet has ever done this.
Q: Don't you think science destroys mystery and wonder?
MR: ''Thirst and hunger for knowledge", have you heard these words before?
Do you want to be in a dreamland and pseudo-world forever?
Scientific arena is where “reason” begins to get clearly distinguished from 'imagination'. To see science as robbing us of wonder when it explains beauty and mystery of this world is a misconception that has to be discorded. Scientists are people who can very well balance their awe and respect of Natural things with finding facts about elements, brains, music, auroras, etc. and in knowing more than many about how all these wonders worked, their fascination for them grows more and more .
Science tries to understand things in the way it should be understood and wakes you up to reality. In the process it creates more wonder and more hunger for knowledge.
So if you really and whole-heartedly are engaging with science, you answer your question with a big 'NO' like scientists do!
Q: What are some inventions that were found due to error?
MR: I think although some discoveries are termed as accidental, without the observations, thinking, reasoning and conclusions of the scientists they wouldn't have happened. Would they have happened with ordinary people? Laymen would have seen them and ignored them! That is the difference between a scientist ( science) and the ordinary people (world).
For all the discoveries to happen, a scientific process still will be at play.
Journalists say several things to increase the selling capacity of their journals to make stories interesting. But at the same time, I think, we should not forget to give credit to the scientists and their hard work.
Discovery is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought - Albert Von SzentGyorgi
In the field of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind - Louis Pasteur
Q: How can human activity cause earth quakes?
MR: For several people it is difficult to believe that human activity too can cause earth quakes. 'How can a humble man shake and move the mighty Earth'? I encountered this Q a few times. But there are a few activities of human beings that can cause earth quakes.
1. Natural oil and gas exploration. Earthquakes can be induced by the effects of pumping waste water from oil and gas operations deep underground. The injections can alter stresses that hold geologic faults together, letting them slip, unleashing an earthquake. Quakes could continue even if injections were stopped because pressure changes already induced in deep rock can migrate for years, possibly encountering faults.
The rise in quakes in some parts of the world because of natural gas extraction coincides with an increase in drilling activity. Companies start drilling these underground deposit using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping millions of gallons of water, plus sand and chemicals, into the ground at high pressure to crack the rock and release the gas. As the gas comes up the well so does the fracking fluid, along with volumes of brine so salty it is hazardous. The fluids are pumped back down a different hole drilled far below the shale into porous rock for permanent disposal. As more and more fluid is injected into these waste water wells, pressure can start to build up on deep geologic faults. Eventually one can slip, causing an earthquake. Evidence suggests that earthquake risks can spread for miles beyond the original disposal sites and can persist for a decade or more after drilling stops.
2. Dams. The column of water in a large and deep artificial lake alters in-situ stress along an existing fault or fracture. In these reservoirs, the weight of the water column can significantly change the stress on an underlying fault or fracture by increasing the total stress through direct loading, or decreasing the effective stress through the increased pore water pressure. This significant change in stress can lead to sudden movement along the fault or fracture, resulting in an earthquake. Reservoir-induced seismic events can be relatively large compared to other forms of induced seismicity. Though understanding of reservoir-induced seismic activity is very limited, it has been noted that seismicity appears to occur on dams with heights larger than 330 feet (100 m). The extra water pressure created by large reservoirs is the most accepted explanation for the seismic activity. When the reservoirs are filled or drained, induced seismicity can occur immediately or with a small time lag.
3. Excessive exploitation of ground water. We extract underground water through bore wells. When this becomes unrestricted, the changes in crustal stress patterns caused by the large scale extraction of groundwater has been shown to trigger earthquakes.
4. Fossil fuel extraction. Large-scale fossil fuel extraction can generate earthquakes like ground water exploitation-induced earth quakes.
5. Mining. Mining leaves voids that generally alter the balance of forces in the rock, many times causing rock bursts These voids may collapse producing seismic waves and in some cases reactivate existing faults causing minor earthquakes. Natural cavern collapse forming sinkholes would produce an essentially identical local seismic event.
6. Geothermal Energy systems. Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a new type of geothermal power technologies that do not require natural convective hydrothermal resources, are known to be associated with induced seismicity. EGS involves pumping fluids at pressure to enhance or create permeability through the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques. Hot dry rock (HDR) EGS actively creates geothermal resources through hydraulic stimulation. Depending on the rock properties, and on injection pressures and fluid volume, the reservoir rock may respond with tensile failure, as is common in the oil and gas industry, or with shear failure of the rock's existing joint set.
Q: Why is the iron pillar of Qutub complex important?
MR: The iron pillar is unique because of its Corrosion Resistance property which according to researchers is due to: (i) the purity of its iron (ii) high phosphorus (iii) low sulphur (iv) absence of any other metal (v) cinder coating formed on the surface (vi) better forge welding (vii) drier and uncontaminated atmospheric condition and (viii) mass metal effect.
Q: What do you think Bermuda Triangle is?
MR: Nothing more important than promoting myths to attract traffic and eyeballs.
Q: Are scientists like Einstein and Hawking really great like people say?
MR: There are several scientists who deserve to be in the same list as Einstein and Hawking. But I think these two have been considered as the best by common people because of the hype media created. Ask men on the street to name the most famous scientists. Most of them cannot go beyond these two because they don't know about the work others did.
Hawking and Einstein get idolised as some kind of weird-messiahs of modern physics. People assume that because they've heard of them, they must be the best! “I-know-that-name-so-they-must-be-the-best” logic applies here. The “public image” and the “scientific image” are going to be wildly out of sync, due to this effect. The public perceives them and their work as way more important than the physics or scientific community actually does.
All these famous images are created by media and the promotion techniques used by them and their supporters.
There are several other scientists who did great work - especially in the field of Biology - saving lives and protecting health of the people. But nobody knows about them. They are unsung heroes and heroines but they don't care anyway.
So I think all the scientists who contributed in some way to our knowledge are great.