Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Q: Can we remove microbes with hand washes?
Krishna: Recent studies have shown that some hospital super bugs are growing increasingly tolerant to alcohol-based disinfectants found in handwashes and sanitisers used.
Just use good soap and clean water to wash your hands. That will do.
Q: Can micro-organisms destroy pesticides and other harmful chemicals added to the soils and crops?
Krishna: Pesticides are in a sense insecticides, fungicides, bactericides, herbicides and nematicides that are used to control insects, fungi, bacteria, weeds and nematodes.
However, excessive use of these chemicals leads to the microbial imbalance, killing even good and harmless organisms, environmental pollution and health hazards. An ideal pesticide should have the ability to destroy target pest quickly and should be able to degrade non-toxic substances as quickly as possible.
From the agricultural point of view, longer persistence of pesticides leading to accumulation of residues in soil may result into the increased absorption of such toxic chemicals by plants to the level at which the consumption of plant products may prove deleterious / hazardous to human beings as well as livestock's.
Pesticides reaching the soil are acted upon by several physical, chemical, and biological forces. However, physical and chemical forces are acting upon/degrading the pesticides to some extent, microorganism’s plays major role in the degradation of pesticides. Many soil microorganisms have the ability to act upon pesticides and convert them into simpler non-toxic compounds. This process of degradation of pesticides and conversion into non-toxic compounds by microorganisms is known as “biodegradation”. Not all pesticides reaching to the soil are biodegradable and such chemicals that show complete resistance to biodegradation are called “recalcitrant”.
The chemical reactions leading to biodegradation of pesticides fall into several broad categories...
a) Detoxification: Conversion of the pesticide molecule to a non-toxic compound. Detoxification is not synonymous with degradation. Since a single chance in the side chain of a complex molecule may render the chemical non-toxic.
b) Degradation: The breaking down / transformation of a complex substrate into simpler products leading finally to mineralization. Degradation is often considered to be synonymous with mineralization, e.g. Thirum (fungicide) is degraded by a strain of Pseudomonas and the degradation products are dimethlamine, proteins, sulpholipaids, etc.
C. Conjugation (complex formation or addition reaction): In which an organism make the substrate more complex or combines the pesticide with cell metabolites. Conjugation or the formation of addition product is accomplished by those organisms catalyzing the reaction of addition of an amino acid, organic acid or methyl crown to the substrate, for e.g., in the microbial metabolism of sodium dimethly dithiocarbamate, the organism combines the fungicide with an amino acid molecule normally present in the cell and thereby inactivate the pesticides/chemical.
d) Activation: It is the conversion of non-toxic substrate into a toxic molecule, for eg. Herbicide, 4-butyric acid (2, 4-D B) and the insecticide Phorate are transformed and activated microbiologically in soil to give metabolites that are toxic to weeds and insects.
e) Changing the spectrum of toxicity: Some fungicides/pesticides are designed to control one particular group of organisms / pests, but they are metabolized to yield products inhibitory to entirely dissimilar groups of organisms, for e.g. the fungicide PCNB fungicide is converted in soil to chlorinated benzoic acids that kill plants.
Biodegradation of pesticides / herbicides is greatly influenced by the soil factors like moisture, temperature, PH and organic matter content, in addition to microbial population and pesticide solubility. Optimum temperature, moisture and organic matter in soil provide congenial environment for the break down or retention of any pesticide added in the soil. Most of the organic pesticides degrade within a short period (3-6 months) under tropical conditions. Metabolic activities of bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes have the significant role in the degradation of pesticides.
For successful biodegradation of pesticide in soil, following aspects must be taken into consideration. i) Organisms must have necessary catabolic activity required for degradation of contaminant at fast rate to bring down the concentration of contaminant, ii) the target contaminant must be bioavailability, iii) soil conditions must be congenial for microbial /plant growth and enzymatic activity and iv) cost of bioremediation must be less than other technologies of removal of contaminants.
For every naturally occurring organic compound there is a microbe / enzyme system capable its degradation.
Fungi like Aspergillus fumigatus, A. niger, A. terreus, Absidia and Rhizopus microsporus var corymberifera microsporis are noted for their ability to degrade the herbicide metribuzin in liquid medium.
Research showed that the species Botrytis cinerea could eliminate the linuron and metroburon herbicides almost com pletely, and other 31 isolated species also could eliminate metroburon. The fungi Trichoderma viridae ‘s ability in the endosulfan and methyl parathion pesticides degradation is well known. Experiments have been demonstrated the efficiency of the bacterium Rhodococcus sp. to degrade triazines to nitrate. After microbial action this compound was transformed into nitrite (30%), nitrous oxide (3.2%), ammonia (10%) and formaldehyde (27%). Several bacterial genera are adapted to grow in pesticide contaminated soils. These microorganisms have enzymes involved in the hydrolysis of P-O, P-F, P-S and P-C bonds, which are found in a wide variety of organophosphorus pesticides. Some bacteria isolated from the soil are capable of degrading pesticides as ethyl-parathion and methyl-parathion.
For more information read this paper:
Q: How can we get all the knowledge in science like you have?
Krishna: What made you think I have all the knowledge in science? I don't even have one percent of it!
Science is an infinite entity. Imagine how big this universe is! Then imagine each angstrom of it filled with science. Imagine how a small human mind can fathom this mind blowing infinity.
It is difficult to keep up with the latest innovations even in a single field because of the sheer volume of scientific research papers that is being published every year — let alone expand your knowledge across multiple fields!
Biology is easy for me to follow because it is my field. As science is becoming interdisciplinary, all the related fields too gain my attention. As a science communicator, I will have to put my fingers in all the areas of science. That is quite a difficult job, but I try to manage.
Still I try my best to keep up with latest developments in all the fields of science. By de-cluttering my brain, by finding the important things and sticking only to them, by eliminating all the misinformation and going the fact's way, I manage to get as much genuine knowledge as possible in most fields. My science training helps me a lot in the process. But it is not possible to become an expert in each and every field. You can only try and become a 'small scale pundit' in science.
Q: Why are scientists so pathetic at finding cures to some diseases?
Krishna: I object to the use of such words. If you think clinical research is easy, think again.
Solving problems by Scientists happens in several steps.
All this is rubbish and those who believe in them will believe it anyway without any evidence. This si not science but superstition.
Here is my evidence:
Go to a nice doctor who can really treat infections.
Q: How can I get rid of the thirst of learning?
Don’t you want to grow mentally and stagnate and die without achieving anything?
Q What if majority of the people refuse most of the scientific theories
Krishna Science is independent of human emotions, opinions, beliefs etc. Whether you agree or not, Earth goes around the Sun and the Earth is round, not flat. Period!
Scientific principles that run this universe don't give a damn about living beings and their opinions. Even if whole of the mankind refuses to accept it, science still persists!
You cannot take away science from this universe, no matter how much you wish it.
Q - How does a planet's magnetic field originate
Krishna - Planetary magnetism arises from electrically conductive fluids within a planet.
Planetary magnetic fields are produced by churning motions of liquids at a planet’s core that conduct electricity and have an electric charge. The magnetic fields act like giant bar magnets and can be offset from the rotation axis of a planet.
Q: Why are women considered to have low grade cognitive abilities? According to some studies women 're more likely to believe in God and the paranormal. They also base their actions more on instinct than analytical thinking.
Krishna: I am a woman, but a high grade critical thinker. I don’t believe in ghosts or other paranormal phenomena either.
That is because I am a trained scientist and can think critically. It doesn’t depend on your gender but on the right training you get. That is where this research is flawed.
Women are made to sit at home most of the time. Even if they get education, they are usually dumped in some low grade courses and don’t get chance to have high grade analysis of things they encounter.
During research such things are not taken into account. They just divide participants into men and women. Their education levels are ignored. Their training is ignored.
That is what we have been complaining about and that is what has to be rectified. Flawed researches don’t make any sense.
I am a living proof to say women can also think critically and can have high grade cognitive abilities, provided they get the right training and good education.
Q (Based on the above answer): I am not a scientist but a linguist and a man. But still I am an atheist and tend to act based upon an analysis of the situation, rather than emotional factors. How do you explain that? Why can't women be like me?
Krishna: Some learn things because they have the opportunity to learn them (that is education in a certain way). When you are made to sit at home for centuries, when you are denied all the best things in life, when your world is limited to certain things, you tend to behave in a certain way.
That has to be taken into account while conducting research. You simply can’t categorize your subjects into men and women ignoring all the other factors.
Moreover, most women are not economically, emotionally, religiously independent. They are made to depend on men in patriarchal societies. That makes them fear several things. That also makes them less confident, more chaotic mentally, and therefore they become superstitious. This is how it happens…
Q:Are most geniuses religious and/or superstitious?
Krishna : If you say a person is a genius, s/he should have high grade critical analytical mind that can deal with all spheres of life. Otherwise s/he doesn’t come under genius category.
If you say a person is superstitious or religious ( because religions are considered primitive ways of understanding this universe), s/he cannot be a genius at all!
Okay, if a person has a different definition for the word genius ( some people consider earning lots of money or doing good business or creating good music or talking wittily or playing a game and winning it are also traits of geniuses ), these different people can be religious or superstitious. But their limitations don’t make their brilliance go beyond their encircled fields.
Now tell me what is your definition of the word genius?
Q: Why do people refuse to accept scientific reasoning and facts?
Krishna: Emotions! They screw up your thought process.
A few days back I and some of my scientist friends were talking with a few common folks. One lady said she had spoken to her dead mother the night before!
Then one of my friends said, like any scientist would, "Lady, you must be hallucinating. You cannot talk with dead people".
The lady got furious, bashed my friend like hell (with words of course), cursed him and left!
We were all too shocked to say anything.
Our world is different. We see only facts, accept only evidence based ones. What others say look very unrealistic to us but if we say truth straight forwardly, we would have to face the fury of frustrated human beings.
But should we keep quiet? No, we cannot do that either and allow absurdity to rule this world.
Over the years, I have learnt to deal with it efficiently but still such situations shock us.
You really cannot talk with your dead relatives. That is a scientific fact! But when emotions rule your world, who listens?!
The lady 's either hallucinating or telling stories that denote her wishful thinking. Can we state that fact? No, we can't, atleast on her face! When others too follow her and everybody starts spreading stories like that, they become 'some sort of truth'. Superstitions and misconceptions take root. Fears follow.
We know we cannot allow this to happen. How to tackle such people efficiently is what is bothering us now.
Q: Why are women so mysterious as also told by the greatest scientist Stephen Hawking? What is the science behind it?
Krishna: Are we?! :)
In patriarchal societies that is the only weapon we have if that is really true! If we are mysterious, atleast we can confuse men, screw up their thought process, and escape.
An intelligent woman can use this weapon to her advantage. Any objections?
(Oh, you asked for scientific explanation too. That is 'emotional science' of psychology).
Q: Why is it controversial to refer to a woman by her accomplishments as opposed to her marital status?What do women scientists think of this incident?
Q: How do you feel about people with Ph.Ds demanding to be called ''doctor"?
In patriarchal societies, women are treated like cheap dirt. People ridicule her, call her ‘bimbo’, ‘stupid’, and what not. Most people don’t care about her feelings or opinions. Most people refuse to recognize her capabilities.
If any women proves all those things wrong, people ignore them. If she demands recognition, she is again ridiculed and words like ‘feminazi’, ‘arrogant’ are used.
I don’t demand to be addressed as ‘doctor’, but treat me as equal human being. Is that too much to ask for?
The truth is the word ‘doctor’ before her name protects a women from certain ‘degradation’ other women face. Well, atleast from men who treat women as cheap dirt atleast to some extent.
That is the protective barrier some women use. Pray, tell me, is it wrong to fight for your survival?
Q: Is internet and other technologies making us stupid?
Krishna: There are two views on this.
I think the way you use the technology, rather than the technology itself decides which way you are going. If you use it for your benefit, like I do, you can derive all the benefits from it. But if you think internet is all about FB, you are doomed!
Recent research shows some interesting facts ...
'Surfing Web pages makes people susceptible to a form of cognitive bias known as the primacy effect: they weight the first few pieces of information they see more heavily than the rest!' So if your information has to stick to people's minds, your work should be shown on the first page of the search engine! But this also shows why some misinformation, pseudo-science goes viral than genuine science and news!
It seems net also reduces your attention span. You jump from one page to another in no time. How much of what you read/view sticks to your mind? Very little!