SCI-ART LAB

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

                                                                    Interactive science series

Q: Do I need maths to be a microbiologist?
Krishna: When you do your PG in Microbiology or any life sciences subjects, the necessary math, physics, biochemistry and statistics (that deal with the specialization) will be taught as additional subjects in several universities across India.
I know some Biology students find maths difficult to deal with. But you need not fear the subject. It will be made easier for you if your professors are good. Moreover, you need maths and statistics in your Ph.D. without which you cannot deal with your data.
Q: Does becoming a Microbiologist require you to be good in all the courses you studied in university? What are all the expectations/requirements?
Krishna: Yes, It helps if you are good at all the subjects you study in the university if you want to become a good Microbiologist. But if you learn basics of maths and statistics (to deal with data), physics (to deal with microscopes and other instruments), bio-chemistry ( to deal with experiments), that would be enough to do your PG in Microbiology.
But if you want to go for Ph.D., it would be better to learn the subjects thoroughly. These days all the subjects are interlinked and you need to connect them creatively to solve the problems you face. Without thorough knowledge in several subjects, it becomes difficult to go very far in research.
But there is a solution. If you are not good at certain things, you can collaborate with people of other subjects and do group work and publish papers. In such cases you have to depend on others for everything and their co-operation limits your progress.
So my advice to you is remove mind blocks for other subjects. Learn all the related subjects thoroughly if you want to do good research in Microbiology. Depending on others is not good for creativity. Independent and original work is what is expected of good researchers.
All the best to you!

Q: What is the difference between understanding and believing in the context of scientific theories?  

Krishna: When you understand a scientific theory completely, you do your critical thinking. You analyse it from all angles, you try to test it yourself or dissect the ones done by others and accept it only when it is explained using strict scientific methodology. You just don’t blindly believe in it.

When you don’t understand a theory properly you might resort to believing in it blindly. Science doesn’t accept blind beliefs.


Q: Should I fear black magic?

Krishna: No! That is if you have a strong and critical mind!

Nobody can do black magic to you or anyone. If anybody can do that to you, you too can do that to them or stop it with your mind power. If black magic works, several people in this world would have destroyed all their enemies and countries, other ones they don’t like.

It is the fear of black magic that makes people sick, not ‘black magic’ itself. If you want to harm yourself with baseless beliefs, fear it. Otherwise, just laugh it off!

Q: Can we trust science?

Krishna: Yes, you can safely! If you can’t trust science, the alternatives people suggest are very shaky and completely untrustworthy: Consider these other sources of 'truth and advice' that place themselves as alternatives to science ... religious practices and stories that cannot show any evidence, future predictions like horoscopes/tarot/palm reading, fortune telling, witch and quack doctors who practice dubiously and use untested things to treat people, latest fad crazes, ill-informed relatives, neighbours, friends and groups, the village elders, ignorant advice columnists, cults (e.g. scientology). Now pick what you want to trust.

Standing Up For Science : Showing Reasons Why Science Should Be Tru...

Q: How does the Indian conch rise up when buried in vedic rice?  

Krishna: Empty shells cannot rise up on their own without any help. We have three conchs at home and I tried the trick. They didn’t rise up even after one hour.

I think the conch shell they used in the video has some living animal like a crab inside it. Hermit crabs make empty shells their homes. That crab made the conch rise up. They don't tell you that, do they? :)

Another reason could be the fine grains of rice may behave like a fluid medium and when the conch is placed on the inverted side, the air gets trapped in it and it floats up.
Also it may be the due to action of electro-static effects, which causes a difference in the surface tension and densities of the rice grains and the conch, when it is smooth, pushing the conch up.

I wonder why mine didn’t rise up if the second or third reasons are correct.  Mine didn't have any living animal in them! So they didn't rise at all!

There is no miracle or magic involved.

Q: You say biases screw up our thought processes and critical thinking , can you tell how?

Krishna: I will give an example here. One person asked a question on line about  - what he thought a 'miracle'. But when several people of science told him it 's not a miracle and explained it to him in a scientific way, the person got angry, refused to listen to reasoning, gave 'thumbs down' to all the answers, threatening people who gave them to delete them or else ...

He wasn't prepared to even consider them as thinking material, leave alone accepting them. His mind was conditioned so much. His biased state  of mind is an obstacle in his learning and growth process.  Only if you have an open and neutral mind, you can do critical thinking properly. Otherwise, your thought process will be screwed up by various things and you resort to motivational reasoning which is not good for science. 

Q: Is it possible that a mother might not genetically be related to her child?

Krishna: Yes! Surprised to hear this? When courts take DNA testing as proof of parentage, they should also consider chimerism. Read this article of mine to learn more about it: why-do-some mammals-have-distinct-genomes-in-their-cells (human chimeras).

Q: Why do children fathered by older parents prone to more genetic conditions?

Krishna: As we age we gather more mutations or changes to our genes. Men and women both transmit an increasing number of new mutations to their children as they age, according to  studies published (2).

In 2012,  researchers reported that the rate at which people acquire mutations and pass them down to their children increases sharply with age in men but stays level in women. The findings provide one possible explanation for the increased risk of autism among children born to older parents.

The more likely explanation for how parental age contributes to autism risk — particularly from fathers — is that, for unknown reasons, men who have children later in life tend to carry common variants that predispose their children to autism, experts say. It is also possible that the increased incidence of autism among children born to older parents is related to changes in chemical tags on the parents’ DNA, rather than in the DNA sequence.

Older dads have kids with more genetic diseases than younger dads.  This is clearest for simpler diseases like dwarfism or Apert syndrome.  But newer data is pointing towards an increased risk for more complex diseases like autism and schizophrenia too (3).

Down's syndrome, certain cancers and mental conditions. Conditions such as Apert syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, Pfeiffer syndrome, achondroplasia, thanatophoric dysplasia, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2b are all found to be related to age of the parents. The most significant effect concerns achondroplasia (a form of dwarfism), which might occur in about 1 in 1,875 children fathered by men over 50, compared to 1 in 15,000 in the general population.

Q: What is the science behind telekinesis?

Krishna:  You asked for ‘science’ behind it. Are you prepared for accepting the truth? If you are, this is what science thinks about telekinesis…

It is a hoax! People use trickery. They move objects using hidden wires and people who work as assistants and move objects by hiding somewhere.

Researchers studying psychokinesis admit that the data they collected fall far short of scientific standards of proof. There is no known mechanism by which the human mind could move or bend material objects. Even if our brain waves could somehow influence objects, the laws of physics demonstrate that the waves don't extend beyond a few millimeters from the skull. They cannot move objects or bend spoons.

Telekinesis is a myth of the past.

I hope you are not looking for confirmation bias. If you are you will be disappointed by the facts I gave.

Q: How much time the human body can endure without food, water, air or sleep?

Krishna: One medical study estimated the average adults could last from 8 to 12 week without food. There are documented cases of a few individuals lasting 25 weeks without food.

While you might die of thirst after three days without water, there are numerous reports of people lasting a week or longer. Several factors come into play, including weight, health, how much you exert yourself, temperature, and humidity. 

Without oxygen you might die within a few minutes. The brain can survive for up to about six minutes after the heart stops. If cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)  is started within six minutes of cardiac arrest, the brain may survive the lack of oxygen. After about six minutes without CPR, however, the brain begins to die.

How long can you go without sleep? Reports indicate soldiers in battle have been known to stay awake for four days and that manic patients have lasted three to four days. Experiments have documented normal people staying awake for eight to ten days, without any apparent permanent damage after a night or two of normal sleep to recover.

Q: Do you have a male brain inside a female body? Otherwise a woman cannot have so much knowledge in science! Or you must be a man pretending to be a woman with a picture of a lady to garner attention.

Krishna: I have a brain in my body. It is neither male nor female. Period.
Human brains do not belong to one of two distinct categories: male brain/female brain (1).
Female or male brain differentiation is a myth according to science. There is no such thing as a female or male brain, according to the first search for sex differences across the entire human brain. It reveals that most people have a mix of male and female brain features. And it also supports the idea that gender is non-binary, and that gender classifications in many situations are meaningless.
For centuries women were made to sit at home doing household things. They were not allowed to study, learn and think properly. They were molded in a certain way. That created a myth.
But given equal chances, the brains that reside in women too can do all that a brain in a man can do. I have seen blonds (we heard so many jokes about their stupidity) working in labs competing and collaborating with all their colleagues. Publishing good papers. Presenting papers in conferences. Becoming good scientists and professors.
I have also seen men wasting their brain power and behaving stupidly.
You cannot generalize things like that.
I was given a chance by my parents to become like this. I utilized it in the right way to the maximum extent possible and became what I am.
Why science, I am good at art and literature and several other things too! Come and meet me in person. You will die out of shock when you see me doing all that in front of you!

Q: Are we  just 'advanced apes'?

Krishna: The period before Bio-chemistry and Molecular Biology , which form basis for modern genetics, put us and apes in different family groups - Hominidae and Pongidae respectively. But now the Hominidae, whose members are known as great apes or hominids, are a taxonomic family of primates that includes seven extant species in four genera: Pongo, the Bornean and Sumatran orangutan; Gorilla, the eastern and western gorilla; Pan, the common chimpanzee and the bonobo; and Homo, which includes modern Humans and its extinct relatives (e.g., the Neanderthal), and ancestors, such as Homo erectus (Humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans and their extinct ancestors form a family of organisms known as the Hominidae ) .  

All organisms share a similar genetic machinery and certain biochemical motifs related to metabolism. It is therefore very likely that there once existed a universal ancestor and, in this sense, all things alive are related to each other. We are advanced living beings.

 Q: You say ghosts don't exist. But my grandmother says she has seen them! How is this possible?

Krishna: Okay, I am coming to your home this week. Please ask your grandmother to show the ghosts to me too :) I want to investigate this.

Your grandmother might be hallucinating things. That can happen under certain conditions. According to science, no such things as ghosts exist. 

Q: Is there any scientific explaination to the presence of ghosts?  

Krishna: You asked for a ‘scientific explanation’. And I was called in. So get ready for absorbing the facts.

According to science, there is no evidence for ghosts! Science doesn’t accept ghost stories. What science says is people hallucinate things under certain conditions. What are these conditions? Read here the whole story…and scientific explanation of these games played by your mind …

Science and the paranormal

Q: Are the antibiotics really becoming ineffective and we need a new series of medicines to save humanity?

Krishna: Yes, several of the antibiotics are ineffective now due to misuse. Recently I read the news that in some countries people are dying too because of infections. That is the reality. As long as ignorance and selfishness rules the world, even new ones discovered by scientists’ hard work might go the same way.

Read here full details: Why antibiotic resistance is increasing and how our friendly ubiqui...

Q: Do papayas cause miscarriage when eaten during pregnancy?

Krishna: Science says they don't! One person told me his wife tried the fruit as a contraceptive but her experiment failed and she got pregnant despite having lots of papayas during a period of three months! Read this research paper that gives some information on the topic ...

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12144723

CITATIONS:
1. http://www.pnas.org/content/112/50/15468

2. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature24018...

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914163

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