Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Interactive science series
Q:What are some recent developments, researches, discoveries and inventions that will affect evolution?
Krishna: 1. Caesarean births could be having an effect on human evolution
2. New Lizard Shows Evolution’s Predictability
3. Metabolism: Evolution retraces its steps to advance
4. Predators key to helping prey evolve with climate change
5. Watching Evolution Happen in Two Lifetimes
Q: Which invention could be considered as best?
Krishna: Choosing like that is not easy. All those contributed to some knowledge and assisted in helping the mankind are good.
Q: Why did human beings develop light skin? Why did evolution help it?
Krishna: The likely explanation for the pigmentation genes is to maximize vitamin D synthesis. People living in northern latitudes often don’t get enough UV to synthesize vitamin D in their skin so natural selection has favored two genetic solutions to that problem—evolving pale skin that absorbs UV more efficiently or favoring lactose tolerance to be able to digest the sugars and vitamin D naturally found in milk.
According to anthropologists, as modern humans spread out of Africa in the past 60,000 years, they adapted to the varying natural light they encountered, from the twilight of northern winters to the blazing sun of the equator, and their originally dark skin evolved into several shades of colour.
If lighter skinned people live near the equator, they risk skin cancer unless they use sunscreen. But what is less known is that dark-skinned people who try to live in frigid northern winters or stay indoors all day in the tropics risk vitamin D deficiency, making them susceptible to rickets, infectious diseases, heart disease, and other health problems.
But studies are still going on and we cannot say these are the last words of colours of human skin story.
Q: I am a 63 year old retired person. I don't know what they teach now in schools but when I was in school I studied both science and religious stories in our language classes. They both contradict each other. Don't immature minds get confused? What should they believe in? Solar System Formation according to science and evolution that teaches facts or religious stories that say God created Earth and living beings in the way they are?
Krishna: I think students should be first trained to think critically. That is the most important thing that can make them separate facts from fiction.
When they get that training, they learn to trust facts and only facts. At the same time, we should also respect our culture, traditions, and mythology associated with our ancestors provided they don't cause any harm to the societies we live in like spreading superstitions. They depict the thinking processes of our forefathers that reflect the conditions they lived in. Their creativity is mind-blowing. They don't know scientific facts. So each one came up with a different story to explain the world they lived in. The stories might not be true but still they have a charm to them. There is no harm in reading fiction when you treat it only in that way.
The problem arises only if you think the mythological stories are true and fight with all your might with people of science contradicting and ridiculing their views based on facts and critical thinking. Training in critical thinking stops you doing that.
Q: Shouldn't faulty and irrational beliefs be made illegal to promote scientific way of thinking and living?
Krishna: Nobody can impose things like that on others. The truth is majority of people need emotional and external support. They cannot stand only on their own mental strength and reasoning power. That is where 'beliefs' help them and they think they need them to survive. You cannot say a physically challenged person cannot use crutches to support him. He needs it. Standing on your own legs is extremely good. But if you are weak you have to take help. That is what a real scientific mind thinks.
We think that differences in rationality are responsible for moral and political distinctions between different races, genders, and species, as well as between “healthy” and “diseased” individuals. We are also not as rational as we think we are and that, rather than irrationality being the exception, it is part of who we normally are in most cases.
Why is there this difference and why most of the people are irrational? Because they use faulty and biased methods to reason.
Read here to know how and why: science-and-spirituality
These differences are also the cause of friction because 'groups' who differ in their thinking and are responsible for societal ills based on them.
Yes, we can always try to strengthen peoples' minds by making them develop critical thinking and right reasoning. Only a well trained person can have confidence in his own strength and let go the irrational beliefs. Societies enter chaotic states and collapse if you impose things on them forcibly without providing full-proof alternatives. Yes, science is a good alternative. We can make people realize it slowly. That is what various bodies working at the ground level are doing.
Q: Your article 'Why some interesting things happen in Nature' is a real eye opener. Several stories go around on the net that say science cannot explain these things despite having these explanations. Why is this so?
Krishna: Mystery! That is what attracts people and those who write on them want to keep that mystery factor intact to get more attention.
Sliding Rocks on Racetrack Playa, Death Valley National Park: First Observation of Rocks in Motion
Microbes travel long distances with wind and moisture in the atmosphere.
Several things fall from the sky instead of rain and these have been explained too: If it is raining fishes, frogs, spiders and even algae, call a scie...
Most of these have been explained or on the verge of being explained with better theories. This happens all the time in the field of science when we get better equipment and grey matter. People take examples from old articles found abundantly on the net and some sensational stories without any evidence to say they either proved scientific theories wrong or science can't explain them to malign the field.
But don't worry, science is going to prove all these people wrong.
Q: How does science prove ghost stories wrong?
Krishna: By hunting them and finding out truth about them!
Modern scientific ghost hunters use magnetic, electrical, optical and thermal sensors when they survey supposedly haunted sites. In hundreds of cases, technically trained researchers have found measurable physical anomalies when ghosts are said to be present. Although some people have claimed to see ghosts, and many have reported anomalous cold spots and described a strange chill on their skin, modern ghost hunters have shown that unusual magnetic fields and strong voltages also occur in these same haunted locations. Unusual orbs have been photographed at the same time that magnetic and electrical disturbances are measured.
Hallucinations occur in such places and people 'see' all kinds of strange things.
Read here how science is tackling these problems;
Q: Is peer-review a full-proof method?
Krishna: No! Peer-review is about making sure that the article is obviously up to the standards of the journal. That will catch some mistakes, but not all. Peer-reviewers don't repeat the experiments to reproduce the results. Therefore, reviewers can sometimes go wrong.
Q: How can science self-correct?
Krishna: There are several ways the field of science follows to correct itself.
1. Peer-review 2. Reproducibility 3. Falsifiability 4. Thorough testing and repetition and improvement of results and to catch errors 5. Discarding models that don't work 6. Evidence based reasoning 7. Rewarding scientists who can challenge, disprove old theories and come up with new ones, or find faults and errors in other's work 8. Developing new technologies and methodologies that can improve old results or completely correct them 9. Collaboration of best minds that can bring in new perspectives and right ideas 10. Above all flexibility - willingness to accept evidence and new data without any biases and egos and preparing to change the direction when data and evidence demands it.
How science is done today is well designed to filter out confirmation bias, and self-delusion, and to foster a skeptical attitude, at all times, toward all things, most particularly ones own work.
You won't find a better field that have so many filters and can do all this in order to self-correct. That is the beauty of science. And that is why I love it so much!
Q: My friend says I am wrong in believing in science. Is she right?
Krishna: In this age of internet I have found (1) that Science can be used to propagate lies and propaganda almost as easily as religion, so it is foolish to trust science blindly if you cannot distinguish fact from fiction. This is aggravated by the expropriation of “science” by ignorant journalists and cynical manipulators, especially in politics and advertising. (“Scientific tests show…!” is the basic line used by these people) You should never believe anything just because someone else says it, not even if it’s a very famous scientist… not even if it’s “all scientists”! Consensus is not evidence if it doesn't depend on evidence based data. You should not believe anything that you have not reasoned out for yourself with thorough knowledge and unbiased and neutral ways and understood fully, and even then you should remain skeptical, since new information may render your line of reasoning inapplicable or you might just make mistakes.
Having said that I want to add I trust science because I am trained to distinguish facts from fiction, bias based reasoning from neutral reasoning, knowledge from ignorance, misconceptions from reality and know that it is the best information of the moment. I might not be correct all the time, but most of the time I am. If you can do that too, yes, you can trust science.
Q: What will happen to our solar system and Earth in the future?
Krishna: According to people of Astronomy, five billion years from now, the Sun will have grown into a red giant star, more than a hundred times larger than its current size. It will also experience an intense mass loss through a very strong stellar wind. The end product of its evolution, seven billion years from now, will be a tiny white dwarf star. This will be about the size of the Earth, but much heavier: one tea spoon of white dwarf material weighs about five tonnes. This metamorphosis will have a dramatic impact on the planets of our solar system. Mercury and Venus, for instance, will be engulfed in the giant star and destroyed. We already know that our Sun will then be bigger and brighter, so that it will probably destroy any form of life on our planet. However, whether the Earth's rocky core will survive the red giant phase and continue orbiting the white dwarf remains a question as the scientists are not certain about it.
Q: If you participate in Koun Banega Carodepati', I am sure you will win a Crore with the knowledge you have. Why don't you participate in it or other regional versions of it?
Krishna: Your Q made me laugh :) and laugh:). Well I am not an expert in everything although I have some knowledge about several things. It just is a chance what questions you get in the programme. If I am asked a Q I don't know much about, like the movies - I don't have much knowledge about them - I neither watch them nor read about them - I don't even know anything about actors or actresses of recent times - I might fail in the first few rounds itself - although I can negotiate the difficult phase of it with the help of life lines. Anyway I am not interested in it.
My world is different. The fact that I am somewhat good at science or world affairs and some aspects of general knowledge doesn't mean that I am good at everything.
Maybe if some quiz is conducted in science, I might participate and win a prize.
Q: Why do people, including some scientists, still believe in God when there is no proof of him? And why do believers think atheists are stupid beings?
Q: How do scientists deal with morals when they don't believe in religion?
Krishna: Like this...
Q: I have proof of God! I had a dream yesterday in which God appeared and showed his existence. I thought it was just a dream but when I woke up I had a golden cross around my neck that I had never seen before. I was an atheist just yesterday but now fear that my ex-fellows will be going to Hell. I feel a strong desire to help. How can I convince atheists - especially the scientists - about the existence of God?
Krishna: Your story made me smile.
Your story doesn’t prove anything to anybody! Even if a ‘God’ appears in an atheist's dream he would think it is his brain trying to play some games. Even if he sees a chain with a picture of God around his neck the next day morning, he knows nothing can come out of nothing and thinks someone is trying to play games with him. So?!
This is no way to convince atheists and scientists - telling silly stories.
You better come up with more solid evidence that can withstand an atheist’s agonizing dissection.
Q: How can scientists debate with religious people and win the arguments?
Krishna: Watch how some scientists did exactly that...