SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

                                                                          Interactive science series

Q: Do optimists have better chance of surviving a deadly disease?

Krishna: A 2015 review of 30 studies found positive outlooks were associated with both reduced mortality and reduced rate of re-hospitalization in patients who had cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, a 2013 study found those who are overoptimistic have a greater risk of death or disability, and that a little pessimism could motivate people to behave more carefully. The truth may lie somewhere in between: which outlook is most helpful may depend on individual circumstances.

It is better to be neither optimistic nor pessimistic - just be realistic. You have to understand that a deadly disease is really deadly but medical interventions can make it less deadly or curable. Take the medicines the doctors prescribed in the way they asked you to and hope that your system can overcome the difficulty while you take better food and rest or exercise to have a coordinated effect. 

That is the only way out. There are no shortcuts to a longer life.

Q: Can first impressions be best impressions?

Krishna: Although several people think they are, 'No! Definitely not' is my firm reply! When you see a person first and talk to him for some time, how do you decide what matter his brain is made of when he tries to comouflage it for a good impression? There are several articles and videos on the net that give people advises on how to impress other people in an instant. If trained well, anybody can 'become' good for a brief period for a better impression.

Intelligent people will not fall for such first impressions guided by experts.

It is my experience that people depict a different picture to their first one when you become more familiar with them. Until I analyse a person fully from close quarters several times, I never come to any conclusion about a person.

First impressions don't impress me at all!

Q: How and why do people believe in things they never saw?

Krishna: Carl Sagan explains it well in this video:

Q: Can we trust ayurveda and go for it? Some allopathic doctors too recommend it.

Krishna: Ayurveda is an old and traditional science. It doesn't match evidence based today's science in any way. 

In science, there are experts but there are no authorities. Opinions don't count in modern  day science - only data based evidence can stand here. If some allopathic doctors think alternative medicines work, that might be their views. But for the scientific community to accept their claim, they have to prove their effectiveness using the currently accepted methodologies of science. That has not been done in most cases so far. So?!

Read the articles listed below and  decide for yourself what to do next...

Herb-Induced Liver Injury in the Berlin Case-Control Surveillance S...

A rare case of acute hepatitis induced by use of Babchi seeds as an...

Luffa echinata: healer plant or potential killer.

Review article: herbal and dietary supplement hepatotoxicity.

Herbal hepatotoxicity: a tabular compilation of reported cases.

Acute renal failure secondary to ingestion of alternative medicatio...

Acute renal failure secondary to ingestion of ayurvedic medicine co...

Having said that I also want to add, I am not against Ayurveda. I only want the medicines tested for their merits and demerits in a truly scientific way. Who knows, they might have some gems that can treat the deadly diseases we don't have cures yet.

Q: Aren't there side effects for allopathic medicines too? In what way they are better than ayurvedic medicines? Consider these:

Scientists said some where around 2004 in USA  that more people die from pain killers then people who benefit from pain killers.

April 2015 meeting of scientists in USA concluded that vitamins and supplements cause cancer and heart diseases

Krishna: 

 I agree, allopathic medicines have side effects. But we know what these side effects are and how they can be controlled or minimized. Using a thoroughly researched knowledge, we can confront various cases effectively. Allopathic medicines are thoroughly tested and only when the positives outweigh the negatives, they are brought into the main system. It follows a thoroughly scientific  approach and the results can be falsifiable and correctable. You don't have that luxury with ayurvedic medicines. A known devil is better than an unknown angel!

People die of painkillers because of over dosages of addicted people and misuse as some people never follow the scientists' advice properly.

Same case with vitamins too.

You cannot blame an established science for all the negatives  brought by people upon themselves.

Q: Why is science so slow in answering some questions?

Krishna: Science is the field of highly qualified intelligent people. In science you just cannot give any answer and get away with nonsense. Science, in its pursuit of facts mostly hits a methodological wall with complexity. It has to follow several rules that can withstand the scrutiny of intellectual analyses. It has to consider several factors that can influence the outcomes. It is bounded by the limits of human brain in understanding things.

These drawbacks of science that look for perfection is ridiculed by some, but following only a scientific way is the best one even if it is an agonizingly slow process. 

Q: What is a minimal genome organism?

Krishna: An organism containing just the bare essential genes necessary to exist and reproduce.

Such “minimal genome” cells might eventually serve as templates for lab-made organisms that pump out medicines, make innovative chemicals for industry and agriculture, or churn out other molecules not yet imagined. The concept of minimal genome assumes that genomes can be reduced to a bare minimum, given that they contain many non-essential genes of limited or situational importance to the organism. Therefore, if a collection of all the essential genomes were put together, a minimum genome could be created artificially in a stable environment. 

Q: What is the science behind hypnosis?

Krishna: Watch this video that explains hypnosis...

Q: Do electric currents and shocks have any effect in curing diseases?

Krishna: 

Q: How can three people contribute to produce a single baby? Can this technique be misused?

Krishna: Anything can be misused when handled by people who don't have good reasoning power. That shouldn't make us fear science and technology.

Most of your cells actually have two genomes: one is in the nucleus (this is the genome that’s known to almost everybody who knows a little bit about genetics), with a second in each of your mitochondria. The mitochondrial genome is approximately 17,000 base pairs long, and contains 22 genes. Compare that with the nuclear genome which is 3.2 billion base pairs long, and contains at least 20,000 genes. Mitochondria are specialized parts of the cell that produce the vast majority of the cell’s energy, and they’re thought to be descendants of ancient symbiotic bacteria — which is where their genomes descend from.

Your mitochondria come exclusively from your mother, as only the mitochondria contained within fertilized eggs are retained in the child. This is where three-parent children can arise — one parent provides the paternal genome, one parent provides the maternal genome, and a third provides the mitochondrial genome. This is a lot of work, and is typically only performed when a woman with defective mitochondria is attempting to conceive. Without healthy “donor” mitochondria, women in this situation have a very high chance of passing on a range of metabolic syndromes to their children. This is essentially accomplished by collecting eggs from two mothers and sperm from a father, replacing the nuclear genome of one egg with that of the other, and then fertilizing the transplanted egg with the collected sperm.

The technique for conceiving three-parent children essentially grants us the ability to replace the mitochondrial genome with one from another donor. Mitochondria perform absolutely essential functions in cells, but they have little to no impact in the genetic basis of determining who we are. Therefore, there is no need to worry.

Q: My son doesn't go out to play. He always sits before his computer, playing games or spends his time watching TV. Is this harmful?

Krishna: Yes, in several ways.

1. If he always sits, he might gain weight and become fat.

2. If he doesn't exercise, his fitness levels will be low.

3. If he is not exposed to sunlight, his body cannot prepare vitamin D and he might face deficiency of this vitamin and the resultant calcium malabsorption..

4. He might develop myopia.

5. It effects his ability to socialize with other children.

6. He might develop high stress levels if not exposed to greenery and sunlight.

7. He might not develop substantial critical thinking skills effecting his studies, work and interaction with others. 

8. He might have low confidence levels.

These are only a few problems he might face. Make him go out as much as possible.

Q: What are the common stages that Ph.D. researchers go through with their thesis project?

Krishna: That depends on the person and the project, actually. I faced a different situation than those usually described by others.

In the beginning itself my guide told me I have to do everything myself and will have to depend on only ‘my grey matter’. So I frantically read every research paper in my field I could lay my hands on to learn how to go about it. After six months, I was confident I could deal with my work all alone and prepared a plan. I just had six months to publish a paper - my fund providers had a few rules set for us - publish atleast a paper in a year (or our funds will be withheld). I could manage it. Once or twice I felt the stress but it was manageable. I didn’t face much difficulty. Everything worked out as I planned, found out some new things and reported them for the first time. My guide was very happy with my work.

I could complete my experiments in four years, took one year to write my thesis and got my Ph.D. five-and-half years after I joined it.

Everything went according the plan and both my guide and I were very satisfied in the end. So the stages I went through were…

  1. Learning 2. Planning, 3. Implementation 4. Experimentation 5. Finding the right results 6. Publishing the papers 7. Writing the thesis 8. Defending my work 9. Getting a Ph.D.

Simple! :) 

Q: How can a non-living group of atoms become a living group of atoms?

Krishna: The group of atoms should have the power of self-replicating process that can evolve under natural selection  to become a living being. 

A thing is usually called a living one when it can display these 7 biological properties: homeostasis (maintain a constant state), growth, replication, metabolism (converting food to cellular components), adaptation, organization and response to external stimuli.

When molecules, made up of atoms, become large and complex, they can interact in the right way and possibly give rise to life. It's not the atoms that make things alive: it's how they are put together, forming organic molecules, absorbing energy, undergoing complex chemical reactions, self-organizing into complex structures that can replicate that, ultimately, qualify as "living".

Q: Which religion do you think is most compatible with science?

Krishna: Well, we find it difficult to accept the myths and silly stories associated with any religion. But different people interpret things differently and religious leaders who follow these religions say some things that really are good. For instance, the Dalai Lama once said: 

“Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation, that a certain hypothesis is verified or a certain fact emerges as a result of scientific investigation. And suppose, furthermore, that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research."

For that reason most scientists think Buddhism is the most science friendly religion! More than any other religion – Buddhism lends itself to a dialogue with science unconditionally and we like that.

 

Q: How can I have a scientific mind?
Krishna: A true scientific mind thinks only in a critical way without any biases and can overcome religious, cultural, political and emotional conditioning of minds. Scientific training is not like training in car driving - learn it on roads and forget it when you go home. But some think that it is limited to labs and are prone to various influences and biases because they cannot overcome their own weaknesses.
Once trained correctly, science has to stay with a scientist 24X30X12X60 and should influence everything he or she thinks and does. Then only he or she becomes an accurate scientist. Otherwise there is no difference between him or any ordinary mind.
Develop a scientific way of thinking and doing things.

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