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

Q: Is burnt food bad for health?

Krishna: Undoubtedly. View the pictures below ... 

Pictures source: Google images

I have seen with my own eyes people selling what they call "well made or cooked food" in hotels, restaurants and the like. When I refused to buy these things and eat them, they say I am too fussy and like to eat under-cooked food. 

But the fact is when food is cooked at high temperatures, apart from losing most of the vital nutrients, a molecule known as acrylamide is formed. The chemical is a known potential toxin and carcinogen in its industrial form.  Acrylamide formation was associated with carbohydrate-rich foods, rather than protein-rich ones, and with foods that had been heated above 120°C (250°F), that is food that has been fried, roasted or baked. Acrylamide is formed in reactions between the natural amino-acid asparagine and some naturally-occurring carbohydrates. You don’t find acrylamide in uncooked or boiled food. 

Experts recommend that you cook food until it goes yellow, not brown or black. This restricts acrylamide formation, though if you cook at too low a temperature you are less likely to kill off  microbes, so there is more risk of food poisoning.

Acrylamide has a modest, if not higher, association for kidney cancer, and for endometrial and ovarian cancers in people who had never smoked.

With regard to meats, there are other chemicals in meat that could be a concern. These generally fall into two classes: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs – compounds with several hexagonal “benzene rings” fused together) such as naphthalene and benzopyrene; and heterocyclic amines  (HCAs). The PAHs are formed from meat fat and juices dripping onto flames in cooking, and HCAs are generated, again in cooking, from reactions between molecules including amino-acids and sugars. Animal testing has shown exposure to high levels of chemicals such as these is linked with cancer but these are levels of exposure much higher than humans would get from eating meat. Some studies do appear to have shown that meat that has been burned, fried or barbecued is associated with higher possibilities of certain cancers.

Although several things decide health conditions of people, burnt food is definitely a cause for concern.

Yes, it is better to avoid burnt foods, if you really care about your health. I refuse to eat burnt food. I think you should too.

Q: Is the speed of evolution same for all the species?

Krishna: No, It isn't. Evolution depends on several things. Mutations, useful and harmful mutations, environment, breeding rates, natural selection, complexity of organisms affect the evolution process, each species evolves at a different speed.

Q: Does growing human population affect other living beings? If it does, how? 

Krishna: Undoubtedly. I will give two examples to show this is happening: The growing human population is occupying forest lands for their agriculture, industrial and housing purposes which belong to wild life with the result that they are coming to human inhabited areas in search of food and getting killed in the process. The big cats are getting extinct this way.

Research reports suggest that unabated fishing (to meet higher demands of growing human population) is starving sea birds and most of them are getting extinct (ref 1,2).

Ref 1:

Ref 2:

If humans finally cause the extinction of all the other animals and plants, what will they eat in the end? The situation is getting worse and if alarm bells don't ring to warn now, our planet becomes a dead one too like all other planets in the solar system. Wake up world.

Q: How can we validate the scientific method?
Krishna : Scientific method itself has inbuilt validation processes. Like repeatability and peer-reviewed scientific publications. If all the genuine steps are strictly followed in a scientific method, there is no need to validate it again as it is a time tested and science-confirmed process and highly reliable. The scientific method is validated by practical, actual results. We accepted it as it ‘s fully reasoned and the best method to avoid logical fallacies and errors in our thinking.

Like for example, we know gravity exists, through scientific method. And therefore we can use it in the process of gravity assist to accelerate space ships. Practically using an established theory itself is validation of scientific method.

Yes, some people try to manipulate it but they cannot go very far as sooner or later they get caught by the specialists in the field and the resultant humiliation in the scientific community is enough to dread such thinking.

Yes, we have full confidence in the scientific method as it is the best under present situation. Until somebody identifies a better process, we are going to stick with scientific method.

Q: As a person of science who deals with general public, what things do you think most people don't understand about science?

Krishna: Several important things that define science. Like the Scientific method that demarcates science from pseudo-science, difference between genuine data based evidence, meta-analysis (used in science) and the unreliable anecdotal evidence (used in other areas like courts), difference between evidence based facts and opinions, critical thinking, difference between scientific creativity and artistic creativity. I wrote on almost all these things in detail  and posted on this network to educate people. Now people can't give any excuses that they still don't know about these things. If they really want to know about them, the knowledge is before them to comprehend. 

Q: In what way scientists differ in thinking and approach from ordinary people?

Krishna: I cannot generalize and say all the scientists will be like this. But this in general denotes scientific thinking ...

A genuine scientist  will always be realistic.

He cannot ignore a contradictory result to his own when the scientific method that got it is correct. The scientist who just duplicated your work and got different results is not an enemy!  He is helping advance knowledge just like you are.  The scientific method requires that your results be duplicated in other labs.  If there are differences, you work to understand each other's experiments. You cannot  attack a person  just because he got different results from yours and genuinely proved you wrong. Just accept it and move on even if your whole work 's about to be thrown into dust bin. He understands he cannot argue with a mathematical theorum.  He has to be completely open to falsifiability. That is humility at its best.

You have to consider all possible arguments about a case before dismissing them for lack of genuine evidence. All the alternatives have to be disproved before establishing a fact. What survives should still be open to falsifiablity. So don't get attached to  the idea that caught your fancy.

A genuine scientist cannot cherry pick his facts. He has to account for all relevant observations. Only authentic data can establish facts. 

Genuine and repeated evidence is what establishes a fact. A scientist cannot count on anecdotal evidence. Highest form of evidence, i.e., meta-analysis is the best to depend on. 

A genuine scientist has to depend on highest form of critical thinking for everything. He has to be completely neutral and totally unbiased while dealing with science. Emotions, opinions, beliefs, and ideologies have no place in science.

A scientist thinks that just because two things happened at the same time, there need not be a connection between them. A black cat crossing your path will not be responsible in any way for the accident you caused by your reckless driving.  A  sneeze by your brother just before you started will not be responsible for your failure to meet your friend who 's busy with another important work.

Unscientific arguments don't count at all.  Confirmation of anything should come only by using scientific method.

Q: Scientists say one day science will explain everything. Can science explain love?

Krishna: Yes, why not? Science has already done that. Click on these links and read all about it …

The science of love -1

The science of love -2

Q: Why does CERN have a Nataraja statue? What is the science behind it?

CERN deals with both science and art, and has a vibrant science-art community, and deals with it with great enthusiasm like I do! Therefore, it accepted Indian Government’s gesture of installing a Shiva’s statue in its premises.

According to Indian mythology, Shiva’s dance denotes the cosmic dance. The parallel between Shiva’s dance and the dance of subatomic particles was first discussed by Fritjof Capra in an article titled “The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics”. Shiva’s cosmic dance then became a central metaphor in Capra’s international bestseller The Tao of Physics. Fritjof Capra explained that “Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter,” and that “For the modern physicists, then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter.”Capra concludes: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”

Like we all know subatomic particles, are observed and analyzed by CERN’s physicists. Whether they agree with Fritjof Capra or not, scientists who deal with science-art were open to Indian Government's suggestion and agreed to the idea.

But there really isn’t any true science behind it. It just is a belief in case of some people, a good idea and acceptance of a gift by the science-art promoting scientists at CERN.

Q: My parents have been forcing me to go for NLP. Does it really work, Dr. Krishna?

Krishna: Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a way of changing someone's thoughts and behaviors to help achieve desired outcomes for them. If you have anxieties and phobias some people say they can treat you by using NLP. But the neuro-scientists I spoke to expressed their reservations regarding NLP's efficiency.  

There is no genuine evidence that NLP works. And anecdotal evidence doesn't count in science. The lack of formal regulation and NLP's commercial value mean that claims of its effectiveness can be anecdotal or supplied by an NLP provider. NLP providers will have a financial interest in the success of NLP, so we cannot use their evidence. 

Research on NLP has produced mixed results. 

Some studies have found benefits associated with NLP. For example, a study published in the journal Counselling and Psychotherapy Research found psychotherapy patients had improved psychological symptoms and life quality after having NLP compared to a control group ( I must add here that psychology is a controversial subject and most of the results obtained in the subject were found to be not reproducible and therefore is not considered as true science by many).

However, a review published in The British Journal of General Practice of 10 available studies on NLP was less favorable. It concluded there was little evidence for the effectiveness of NLP in treating health-related conditions, including anxiety disorders, weight management, and substance misuse. This was due to the limited amount and quality of the research studies that were available, rather than evidence that showed NLP did not work.

In 2014, a report by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technology in Health found no clinical evidence for the effectiveness of NLP in the treatment of PTSD, GAD, or depression.

However, a further research review published in 2015 did find NLP therapy to have a positive impact on individuals with social or psychological problems, although the authors said more investigation was needed. 

The theoretical basis for NLP has also attracted criticism for lacking evidence-based support.

A paper published in 2009 concluded that after three decades, the theories behind NLP were still not credible, and evidence for its effectiveness was only anecdotal. 

A 2010 review paper sought to assess the research findings relating to the theories behind NLP. Of the 33 included studies, only 18 percent were found to support NLP's underlying theories.

So, despite more than 4 decades of its existence, neither the effectiveness of NLP or the validity of the theories have been clearly demonstrated by research. Also, it is worth noting, that research has mainly been conducted in therapeutic settings, with few studies into the effectiveness of NLP in commercial environments and therefore, are highly unreliable. Studying how well NLP works has several practical issues as well, adding to the lack of clarity surrounding the subject. For example, it is difficult to directly compare studies given the range of different methods, techniques, and outcomes. Human psychology differs from person to person and therefore you don't get uniform results in psychology and it is difficult to establish facts. Moreover, we cannot rely on commercial establishments' research as it would definitely biased towards their business.

Without valid scientific evidence, I will not recommend it. No genuine scientist or doctor would recommend it either. 

Now it is up to you to decide whether to go for it or not.

Q: When all individuals have the same type of brain, why do people differ in their thoughts?

Krishna: Chemical and electrical circuits and the way they interact and form connections decide our thought process. These in turn are controlled by our genes, childhood experiences, adult experiences, conditioning of minds, various biases, feelings that already made connections and stored in various areas of our brain.

You can overcome all these things if you want like I did if you develop critical thinking  .

Q: What are the common myths that science has proven wrong?

Krishna: There are several myths that science has busted.

That we use only 10 percent of our brain capacity.

That snakes have very powerful ears. Boa suffocation myth.

That One needs to drink 8 glasses of water a day myth.

Growth of Hair and Nails after death myth

The Bermuda Triangle myth

Carrot and vision myth

Moon affects our sleeping patterns myth

Intelligent people have more copper and zinc on their hairs myth

Myth of the Exploding Skull

Different regions of tongue has different sensitivity towards specific taste myth

Animals can predict weather or future or earth quakes myth

Virginity Myth

Lightening never strikes the same place twice myth

And there are several others…

Read here how they were busted: Myth Busting

Q:How do you counter the argument "scientists can not talk about astrology because they have not studied and practiced it"?

Debate between scientists and people who practice pseudo-science - ...

Several astrologers say astrology is scientific. If it really is like they brag about it, it is only scientists who can decide about it, not astrologers.

Moreover, you need not practice it to know whether it works or not. Several people have studied whether it works or not. Many scientific studies have been made, and they all show that astrology is no more accurate than chance would have it in making predictions.

This argument is like the argument - no body can practice religion or talk about God or pray to him because they didn’t study theology. How silly that sounds!

Q: I have some Qs based on your article  Science and the paranormal.

  3. Seeing a ghost may be an imagination, BUT HOW CAN IMAGINATION PRODUCE SOUND ?

Krishna: CO causes real hallucinations. According to toxicologists, 

Exogenous or External CO Poisoning occurs when mammals are exposed to higher concentration of CO in air that they already exhale.

Endogenous or internal carbon monoxide poisoning occurs when your body makes more CO per hour than your body can sequester safely or metabolize, causing the overall level of CO in your tissues to go up.

And/or when you make the same amount but something impairs or slows your body's ability to get rid of it, allowing it to build up in your tissues where it blocks oxidative metabolism by heme proteins of all kinds. (Same as external CO you inhale)

Many sufferers can’t tell the difference. See for example how CO poisoning can lead people to think they are seeing, hearing and even feeling ghosts:

A True Tale Of A Truly Haunted House

This true story also was reported in a Halloween edition of This American Life:

And the Call Was Coming from the Basement - This American Life

Do electromagnetic waves produce sound?

The waves themselves don't usually produce sound, but their effect on other objects (particularly ferromagnetic ones) can be audible. This is similar to how speakers work (except they use magnetic fields, not waves). Maybe what you are hearing is the vibration caused when the radiation hits another object.

Don't forget that you are actually "listening through your brain". The human perception is in this cases only the information given by your physiology, nervous system and your own psychology. It is not to be underestimated. I hope you don't have such a mess like tinnitus, but it is clear example of not really existing sound which is very well audible.

Can’t people imagine sounds? They can! Everything is in your mind. And a mind that is not working properly can imagine all sorts of things.

Q: How did superstitions originate?

Krishna: In ancient times, in the face of  death and despair, people turned to superstition — to see the invisible hands of evil everywhere. There was no authentic scientific explanations to enlighten people ( one person recently asked me this Q when I said this, 'Then why do people still believe in superstitions when science can come to our rescue now?'  and this 's my answer to him: Because of closed minds and fear. People cannot think or take other alternatives than those given to them for want of critical thinking abilities. Fear of the unknown because of conditioning of minds.  It meant being smitten if you blasphemed, being rewarded if you were pious. Religious figures held power over kings and peasants alike.)

In medieval times religion meant more than salvation to soul, or spiritual guidance to a mentally exhausted mind. That was exploited by several people who had authority.

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