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

Q: What is the difference between MDR -TB and XDR-TB?

Krishna: First let us understand what TB is. It is a disease caused by bacteria (organism called Mycobacterium tuberculosis)  that are spread from person to person through the air. TB usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. In most cases, TB is treatable and curable. However, persons with TB can die if they do not get proper treatment.

Resistance to anti-TB drugs can occur when these drugs are misused or mismanaged. Examples include when patients do not complete their full course of treatment; when health-care providers prescribe the wrong treatment, the wrong dose, or length of time for taking the drugs; when the supply of drugs is not always available; or when the drugs are of poor quality.

MDR TB is multi drug resistance  tuberculosis which is caused by an organism that is resistant to at least isoniazid and rifampin, the two most potent TB drugs. These drugs are used to treat all persons with TB disease.

XDR TB is extensively drug resistant tuberculosis is a rare type of MDR TB that is resistant to isoniazid and rifampin, plus any fluoroquinolone and at least one of three injectable second-line drugs (i.e., amikacin, kanamycin, or capreomycin).

As XDR TB is resistant to the most potent TB drugs, patients are left with treatment options that are much less effective.

XDR TB is of special concern for persons with HIV infection or other conditions that can weaken the immune system. These persons are more likely to develop TB disease once they are infected, and also have a higher risk of death once they develop TB.

Drug-susceptible TB and drug-resistant TB are spread the same way. TB bacteria get into the air when a person with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. These bacteria can float in the air for several hours, depending on the environment. Persons who breathe in the air containing these TB bacteria can become infected.

Q: I like science, but I have no idea what to do with my life. As a scientist, how did you find direction? 

I think this realization of scientific principles based running of this universe and everything in it, got me hooked to it in the first place. I can’t see anything else but science every millimeter or Angstrom of it! And I can’t eat, sleep, drink, think or work without finding answers to how, when, what, where, who, why! Nothing else matters to me at all!

I myself don’t understand why science’s hold on me is so complete because I never found anybody among my colleagues who fell so much in love with science!

Q: I get very scared whenever I read about cancer. What can  we do to avoid it and how can we know what treatment is better when we get it?

Krishna: Most people do get scared when they hear stories about cancer.  What is the better way  to deal with it? Being positive? Or being realistic?

As a person of science, I think being realistic makes you more strong than being positive. What is this thing called being realistic?

Well, first learn all about what causes cancer. And the symptoms you should be able to identify when you get it. Yes, you should, even if it scares you. Then avoid as much as possible all the trouble-causing things.  Adopt a healthy life style.

But still people might get it despite being careful. Because you cannot avoid old age related or genetic issues. Early diagnosis at stage one by identifying the symptoms helps a lot in managing it efficiently.

How can we know what treatment is better when we get it? Let specialists in the field decide it. Ask them to explain.  When they do that, try to understand with a calm mind. They will also tell you why you should go for the specific treatment based on several factors. 

There is no use in panicking. Cancer will take root when conditions favour it. All that you can do is to see those conditions are not available. But still if something goes wrong, you have to face it - with the help of experts you have to fight it with all your might and send it into remission. 

I saw/am seeing several people around who fought/are fighting cancer bravely. Life is life. You have to face both positivity and negativity that comes with it in a realistic way. 

The best way not to get scared is enter your 'uncomfortable zone' and face it directly. When I was young I used to faint at the sight of blood, hospital ICUs, people suffering, and death. To overcome my problem I entered the hospital ICUs, faced all these things  over and over again and now I no longer faint and can tolerate these things efficiently although they still make be feel very low mentally. That is because I empathise with people, feel - I myself am suffering when they are feeling the pain. That is really strange but I can't avoid it but can manage it well now because I dealt with it in a realistic way. 

Q: Is it wrong to say Moon goes around Earth?

Krishna: That is what we learn in schools here. But the actual fact is  when we say that the Moon revolves around the Earth, it's really a less pedantic way of saying that Earth and Moon orbit around two shared orbital foci. That is, the two points inside an ellipse where the gravitational forces working on the Earth and Moon are centered.

Because the Moon is in a nearly circular orbit, these foci are very close together, and because the Earth is much more massive than the Moon, the foci are almost where the center of the Earth is situated. This means that the Moon orbits the Earth, while the Earth's contribution is a bit of a wobble.

This happens in a system where a very large body has a much smaller one orbiting it. But if both bodies are of nearly equal size then the foci of their orbit sit in empty space, with neither body acting as the center. 

Q: Why aren't scientists offended just like religious followers?

If somebody provides evidence and show your work is false in the field of science, you have no other go but to accept your inadequacies and mistakes in tackling a problem. Why should you get offended if you are proven wrong? Why should you get offended if truth ‘s found or a problem ‘s solved in the right way helping the world?

Science is ruthless and its uncompromising methods make it so reliable and takes you towards correct understanding of the universe around you. That is progress. Why should you get offended by progress, knowledge gathering and helping the world?

The moment we enter the world of science, we are made to understand the rules here. We know we have to strictly follow them otherwise we get thrown out. We accept them. That teaches you discipline. If you try to hoodwink experts around, you will get caught sooner or later and humiliation follows.

Science is the field where emotions, opinions, ideologies and beliefs have no place. You cannot say that is your opinion/view and this is mine. There will be only data based facts and everybody has to accept them whether one likes it or not. Consensus is reached based on data and evidence.

Ofcourse when there isn’t enough data, several theories are proposed by several individuals backed by prior knowledge in the subject, but they will have to pass through several filters and only one will be accepted if it adheres to scientific method based fact establishment. Rest will have to go to thrash can and if people who proposed them feel bad about it, there is nothing they can do. You have to swallow your ego and bend your head and submit yourself to your science master’s harsh realities. You swallow your pride and learn being humble.

That makes science very special and unparallel and that is why we trust science so much. Nothing compares to it.

Religion works in a completely opposite way, and therefore, has its own drawbacks, whether anybody accepts it or not.

Q: How can a belief be scientific?

We prefer to use the word ‘trust’ based on evidence.

However, people use the word ‘belief’ without realizing that genuine scientists don’t approve it.

Q: Why do people keep insisting that the Intelligent Design scientists at the Discovery Institute are not “Real Scientists”? Most have a master’s and Ph.Ds. from secular universities. 

Krishna: Being a scientist is a state of mind, not a profession. Just because you have a Ph.D. in science, it doesn’t make you a scientist if your training is not good. If you don’t follow the scientific method correctly and if your thinking is not critical, you are doomed as a scientist.

In science what decides truth and falsehood is scientific method, genuine data based evidence, not your opinion, belief, ideology or emotion. Just because you speculate something based on your beliefs, it doesn’t make you a scientist, even if you are practicing in your lab and publishing papers (by producing some cooked up data) in dubious journals and writing popular articles in magazines.

Q: What can a scientifically-inclined person with super-diverse scientific interests do? 

If you have such super-diverse interests, just go ahead and pursue them. The world really needs people like you.

Q : Would an extraterrestrial species have the same math, and science theories as we do, but just in a different language, and different symbols?

Krishna: Very interesting Q. We know that science is universal. Therefore, it can be expected that their understanding of the working of the universe should be the same as ours.  However, there can be several aspects that sculpt this 'understanding' by various living beings.

For example in what state of evolution they are. If they are still in a primitive stage, they don't understand science at all. If they are as evolved as we are, their understanding will be similar to us. If they are more advanced than us, they will have more advanced theories that describe the working of our universe much better than ours. They might have already understood dark energy and matter well and might be utilizing them efficiently!

Their physics and chemistry might be similar to ours but their biology can be totally different. We know how diverse life on Earth is. We have organisms with different metabolic pathways. We have organisms with different bio-chemistry from one another. Aliens from extraterrestrial planets could have a completely different bio-chemistry from us  and therefore, their knowledge on life could be different! But still it will be based on the same bio-chemistry!

Different  people in different regions on Earth can solve maths problems in different ways. But they arrive at a single and same solution!

That is the beauty of science. As it is same everywhere, all roads lead to the same understanding.  Similarly different life forms can understand science in different ways but their understanding is  same!

Science can't be different from one alien to another, one planet to another, one star to another and one galaxy to another in our universe.

But at the scale of one universe to another? What if science works in completely different parameters in different universes if multiverses exist ( we have no way of knowing whether they exist right now) and what if other universes have different physical laws, or even have vastly different physical laws? Then the aliens from other universes understand their universes completely different from us!

Yes,  it is possible! 

 Q: Can Science explain in one day in one page, what philosophy, religion and Spirituality together haven't been able to explain in thousands of years and pages?

Krishna: If you are looking for some sort of magic, sorry, human limitations don’t allow comprehension of this universe based on science in such a sort span of time and within limited space. Science is not all the other three fields you mentioned to provide creative proof-less answers without evidence established facts.

One thing is for sure. This universe is based on scientific principles. To understand it and provide correct answers, you have no other go but to follow scientific methods. And it takes lots of time to establish facts.

Scientists have in their mind a project of being able to definitively answer the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. That's not a project to approach lightly. It involves a lot of very careful distinction between truth and falsehood, between reality and perception, between logic and epistemology and ontology.

This universe originated some 13.772 billion years (approximately) ago. The field of Science is just a few hundred years old. It still is in its infancy. It has to grow a lot, experiment a lot, learn a lot, understand a lot and then only it can answer all your Qs. How can you expect a child to answer all the Qs posed by its fathers, grand fathers, great, great great, great grandfathers? Is it even appropriate to expect such a thing?

If you want fact based scientific answers, you must also have patience to get them. If you don’t have that, just weave a story in your mind in ten seconds and believe it is true.

Science and Spirituality

Q: What are some mysteries that, if solved, would drastically change life as we know it? 

Q: How does salt kill bacteria?

Krishna: Osmosis! 

Salt  in fairly high concentrations can kill only cells, not bacterial spores though. Salt in high concentrations, will draw the cellular free water ( due to osmotic effect). Free water is extremely important for the vital functions of the living systems. Similar antibacterial effect is produced by high concentrations of sugar type materials. In addition, specially at lower concentrations, salt can interfere with ionic balance to affect cellular functions that ultimately can cause cell death.

Some bacteria are known as “Halophiles” which mean that they like salt. Some are Halotolerant and can withstand salt assault. 

A lot of bacteria, especially the ones in the mouth like Streptococci and some of the other mouth-dwelling organisms, are quite salt-sensitive.

For them, a big dose of salt is a bit like putting salt on a slug. It pulls the water out of the bacteria and dehydrates them, which can damage or disable them.

But some other bacteria, like Staphylococcus aureus, actually like salt; so if you have a wound on your finger it might not actually be so good for that because it will kill the bugs in there which are not Staphs, removing the competition for Staphylococci that are there; so you might end up with your wound being colonised entirely by Staph!

Overall, salt is quite good in very high concentrations because it stops a range of bugs growing, which is why meats and produce are salted to preserve them. But, the likelihood of you getting enough concentration of salt into a wound to kill the bugs is quite unlikely. It does have a soothing effect though, especially on mouth ulcers!

A word of caution : Please don’t put salt, hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol in any wound. It’s true that peroxide, alcohol, and concentrated salt kill germs, but they also kills mammalian cells. That means you, human.  Doctors say, “don’t put anything in a wound that you wouldn’t put in your eye.” If something you put in a wound hurts, it’s doing damage.

Q: How did science help Thai cave rescue?

Krishna: Understanding any  problem properly and scientifically is the first step for success. Scientific knowledge  decides whether a mission will be successful or not. This is exactly what happened in case of this magical rescue of the boys and their coach.  

First they understood the cave origins and their environment. 

The Tham Luang cave where the boys have been trapped is a six-mile long network of channels carved into the Doi Nang Non mountain range. The main rock surrounding the cave is limestone with a mixture of other sedimentary rocks. Thailand’s coastline is mainly formed of limestone which make up the spectacular columns and cliffs along the country’s famous beaches. Rainwater is the cause of the karst structures in coastal Thailand and the complex cave systems in northern Thailand. As rain is naturally slightly acidic, it reacts with limestone, made up of calcium carbonate and the same material used in chalk. The rain dissolves away the limestone and this chemical reaction is the reason why six miles of the Tham Lunag cave has been dissolved. This has created a network of channels and pathways in the limestone rock. As rainwater has eroded away the stone, this has led to both negative and positive outcomes for the trapped boys. The erosion has created cracks in the mountain above the caves which means water can travel down into the cave.

This rainwater has ultimately trapped the football team inside the cave, as it flooded the passage, cutting off their only escape route.

Rain has not stopped for several days and rescue teams have been desperately pumping water out of the cave which had made it possible for the rescued boys to make the final leg of the journey on foot.

However, the cracks in the limestone has made it possible to supply vital oxygen to the cave, which has been at a dangerously low level since the boys entered the cave on June 23rd, 2018. 

Unfortunately, the speed the water percolates through the cracks is much faster than air.

And the oxygen levels cannon be replenished fast enough to counterbalance the football team’s use of oxygen. Therefore, immediate rescue became necessary and a decision was taken in this regard.

Before that the experts had to handle their food and energy problems. They didn't had food for 10 days before they were found! So there would be changes in their digestive track functioning and this had to be considered.  So their diet started with water, then liquid foods and then semi solids before going for solid foods.

Then some oxygen pumping took place to enhance their breathing capabilities.

Then when the experts decided they will have to be evacuated immediately because of falling oxygen levels that are becoming dangerous, the divers taught the boys how to dive, use the equipment, handle darkness and negotiate narrow passages,  and several other things that boosted their psychological morale. 

The diving rescue team was comprised of 13 foreign divers and five members of the Thai Navy SEALs. A team of 90 expert divers - 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas - has been working in the cave system to help them. A massive pumping operation is said to have helped lower the water level inside the cave system, making the journey in and out easier than it was earlier.

The team began its first attempt on Sunday, 8th july, 2018 pairing each boy with two divers. The rescue operation is complicated by sections in the cave involving diving - sometimes in very confined spaces - and climbing.  The boys were divided into three groups and each group was brought on different days because of the risks involved. The boys were equipped with full-face masks, which are specifically designed for beginner divers. And the pros who accompanied them carried the boys’ oxygen tanks. They are forced to do something that no kid has ever done before. They 're diving in something considered an extremely hazardous environment in zero visibility. The only light that 's in there 's the torch light provided.  It seems they were 'drugged' a little bit so that they don't panic and cause trouble to the rescuers. They were dosed with an anti-anxiety drug, Ketamine that made them semi-conscious. They were fully guided and pulled along by their rescuers, sometimes on stretches, throughout the two-and -half mile journey back!  

The first part of the 2.5-mile journey required wading and diving through the flooded passages. Next came a 1-mile climb over slippery rock, with ropes for assistance.

Some of these channels were too small for the boys to swim through while wearing their tanks, so they had to take them off and pass them to a diver ahead of them. The toughest part 's about halfway out at a section named "T-Junction", which 's so tight the divers have to take off their air tanks to get through.

The most dangerous part of the journey was traversing a pinch point that is only 15 inches wide. Because it’s so narrow, the boys had to separate from their chaperones there. This was risky, given that the section was nearly pitch black.

Overall it took about nine hours for divers to get the first group of four boys out of the cave.

Beyond that a cavern - called Chamber 3 - has been turned into a forward base for the divers.There the boys could rest before making the last, easier walk out to the entrance. The second day of the operation had gone more smoothly than the first, taking two hours less as the procedure became more refined.

They 're then taken to hospital form the cave entrance to treat any infections they caught in the cave, to asses their psychological condition, to make them regain their normal bodily functions after this ordeal. Therefore, they will be kept under observation and quarantine for some days. In addition to treating the boys for potential dehydration, malnutrition and oxygen depravation, their doctors also plan to closely monitor them for symptoms of diseases that may have been transmitted by animals living in the cave system.  It's more likely the boys would have been exposed to infection-causing bacteria when they swam through the dirty water with cuts and scrapes. 

Now tell me without the help of science and tech would this success have been achievable? The answer would be a big, NO! Thank science and tech for that!

Q: Why do we sometimes forget the names of people, places while talking but can be recalled easily later?

Krishna: This is called tip of the tongue phenomenon. The Bushes ( former American Presidents) were famous for this. Political pundits used to make fun of former President George H. Bush because of his frequent word-finding failures. Despite his obvious depth of knowledge and expertise, his speech was sometimes characterized by pauses suggesting a failure to recall a known word. His deficit was usually attributed to absent-mindedness, rather than a lack of clear thinking. In other words, it was dismissed as a language-production failure, not a more consequential memory failure. His son, President George W. Bush, suffers from a similar affliction. However, the son's speech errors (e.g., 'Kosovarians,' 'subliminable') are often interpreted as a lack of knowledge, and therefore, a learning deficit; a more consequential one for a president.

In psycholinguistics, the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon is that feeling that a name, word, or phrase—though momentarily unrecallable—is known and will soon be recalled. It mainly occurs with uncommon words and names. Speakers generally have an accurate phonological outline of the word, can get the initial sound correct and mostly know the number of syllables in the word. 

The tip of the tongue state demonstrates that it is possible to hold the meaning of a word in one's mind without necessarily being able to retrieve its form. This has suggested to commentators that a lexical entry  falls into two distinct parts, one relating to form and one to meaning, and that one may be accessed without the other. In assembling speech, we first identify a given word by some kind of abstract meaning code and only later insert its actual phonological form into the utterance we are planning.

Shall I reveal a secret now? I too face this phenomenon very frequently because of the cognitive load on my brain!  

Q: People say this world is an illusion. Can science remove that illusion and construct reality as it is for us?

Krishna: Science can do many things you can't even imagine! But the results depend on how well you can use science to do those things!! Science can detect and explain these illusions very well if you are capable of using science to perfection!!!

For instance, human beings can only see visible (for us) light. Other animals can see other lights too and therefore their world perception will definitely be different! For instance, the colors and patterns that a butterfly sees are invisible to man. Butterflies have extreme vision (1). The colors of flowers, the patterns of color on its own wings appear much different to a butterfly. This is because, the butterfly can see ultraviolet light

Snakes like vipers, pythons and boas have holes on their faces called pit organs, which contain a membrane that can detect infrared radiation from warm bodies up to one metre away. At night, the pit organs allow snakes to 'see' an image of their predator or prey — as an infrared camera does — giving them a unique extra sense (2).

So these animals' world will be somewhat different from that of ours. Then who is seeing an illusionary world and who is seeing reality here?  If your world was real, it should be independent from perceptions of any kind of creatures. That is every creature exists on earth should share their similar view of the world but in fact each of these animal share only some part of reality and other parts are beyond their cognitive ability.

Reality should be independent from our view and this is why your world you see now is just an illusion created by your brain. Science clearly shows that! 

 If our senses don't provide the correct information about the world, we can use scientific tools and methods to get that. Yes, absolutely. Science is the most reliable way to seek out the truth. But it has its limits because it is still being developed by humans. If a tool is not fully developed, it only tells you some parts are correct and the rest is still being questionable. How can you be sure if our next humankind’s discovery won’t tell you a totally different story from everything we’ve ever known?
Even with the aids of science, we still can get into numerous illusions all the time because of our limitations in using science right now.

We cannot get rid of our own perception and therefore everything that hasn’t got a satisfactory explanation by science is some kind of illusion. But don't worry, a day comes when science can construct the exact reality for us. Have patience and wait till that day arrives.

Q: Why does our shoe size change as we age?

Krishna:  Yes, as the years go by, people notice that their shoe size or foot shape changes. It's not uncommon for someone to experience an increase in shoe size by a half-size or more as they age. This happens because of the changes that occur in the body's ligaments and tendons through the aging process. Tendons and ligaments gradually lose strength and their ability to "spring back," which can amount to a decrease in arch height of the feet, increasing foot length slightly and requiring an increase in shoe size. Age-related tendon and ligament changes may also increase the risk of injuries such as tendonitis, tendon tears, or muscle strains.




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