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

                                                                 Interactive Science Series

Q: What would the world be like today if science had stopped with Einstein?

Krishna: This universe is based on scientific principles. It is science-run. Science doesn’t depend on human beings. Whether we understand it or not in a scientific way, whether we unravel or not the mysteries this universe relies on, the scientific principles work wonderfully to run this universe and life based on science exists, and flourishes.
If scientists fail to understand the language the universe is written in and unravel the mysteries, and make technological advance, it is a big set back to only human progress. Human progress would have remained where it was during Einstein’s time. But the universe would still run and life goes on. Science goes on.

Q: I read your article science-and-the-paranormal

I had some strange experiences in the past and I want clarifications for them from you. 

 I was taking a nap in the late afternoon when I was  eighteen, and was in between sleep and non-sleep when I felt a heavy presence on my head, suffocating me, and I was unable to speak or to move any part of my body. In addition, there was a heavy invisible presence upon my chest that prevented me from moving or calling for help.

I visited a priest and bought a religious holy book  and a holy thread which I tied around my wrist with his advice and this experience never returned. Wasn't that a 'spirit' visiting me? Some people do experience paranormal activities during sleep.

Krishna: Have you heard a thing called 'sleep paralysis'? That was what you suffered. It wasn't a ghost or a paranormal activity!  

Two months back even my aunt told me she had a similar experience and she's afraid since then to sleep alone. She says even a hand rubbed her head and hair. She was sure it was a ghost visiting her. I tried to convince her it wasn't! :)

Up to as many as four out of every 10 people may have sleep paralysis. This common condition is often first noticed in the teen years. But men and women of any age can have it.
During sleep, your body alternates between REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep. One cycle of REM and NREM sleep lasts about 90 minutes. NREM sleep occurs first and takes up to 75% of your overall sleep time. During NREM sleep, your body relaxes and restores itself. At the end of NREM, your sleep shifts to REM. Your eyes move quickly and dreams occur, but the rest of your body remains very relaxed. Your muscles are "turned off" during REM sleep. If you become aware before the REM cycle has finished, you may notice that you cannot move or speak.

If you find yourself unable to move or speak for a few seconds or minutes when falling asleep or waking up, then it is likely you have isolated recurrent sleep paralysis. 

During this time, you might 'feel' your dreams are true and if they are nightmarish, you think you are dealing with ghosts. The things your priest gave you must have had some placebo effect on you and when you are 'mentally assured by a belief', your anxiousness and stress get reduced and it would have an arresting effect on your sleep paralysis. 

If you visit a doctor, if you know the truth,  then also the reassurance that no ghosts exist in this world according to science will have more realistic and permanent effect  on your mind. Hope my article has this effect on you. 

Q: Can we measure the energy ghosts are made of?

Krishna: Whole of science deals with observable and measurable things. Things that exist only in people's imagination and not in this physical world have no relevance  with regard to science. 

Ghosts and spirits are, therefore, neither observable nor measurable because they don't exist in the first place. People hallucinate different things and think they are real. Read this article that deals with this state of mind ... Science and the paranormal

Q: Why do some people experience 'supernatural things'?

Krishna: If people don’t think with clear rational minds, when fear grips them to have a closer look at strange things, when they fail to investigate and understand things properly, they attribute them to ‘supernatural’ or ‘paranormal’ experiences.

Scientists explain things in this way: Science and the paranormal

Q: Whenever I wear new clothes, I get rashes. Why is this so?

Krishna: You might be allergic to dyes, fungi ( that are transferred from person to person when they touch while stitching or packing or checking or trying new clothes),  and the chemical finishes like urea formaldehyde that manufacturers put on clothes to enhance color or texture or to prevent mildew formation. 

Some clothes have mites and dust accumulated on them even though they are enclosed in boxes and cupboards in shops.

Try washing the clothes - even if they are new - before wearing them to remove all these things that might cause allergies. The clothes you use on babies and old people should definitely be washed before using them.

I do wash my clothes, especially underwear, and iron them before trying them and my friends tease me for doing that. But science says that is the best way to follow! 

Q: Does publishing a research paper truly shows how brilliant a PhD candidate is? Is that really a necessary requirement to earn the degree?

Again if you publish peer-reviewed papers, your examiners and thesis reviewers will get impressed and you can easily convince them that your work is eligible for a Ph.D.

Q: Can we drink rain water?

Krishna: Rain picks up the contaminants of the atmosphere while falling down to the Earth. These may include pollutants in the air and microbes. I actually saw rain turning black and smell horrible in some areas of our city. So rain water  near cities is not safe. However, you can drink rain water in less polluted areas. But treating it in some way to remove the impurities or boiling to kill microbes before consuming it is a better idea!

Q: What are the scientific reasons behind the traditions we follow during eclipses?  

Krishna: There are no scientific reasons behind these traditions and rituals, only superstitions. Before the onset of the scientific era, people feared everything that happened around them because they had no way of knowing the truth.

They imagined things with their primitive understanding of the universe and weaved stories around them. These stories are highly creative. Each person who had some power over others came up with a different explanation, instead of one truth and fact. And others around him followed him blindly without questioning it. That is how these stories and beliefs originated.

Now the more creative human beings in our societies are trying to give super spins to these stories to give them a scientific twist. Others with swollen chests think their culture and traditions have a scientific origin and spread these misconceptions. The gullible will fall for them thinking that it is real science.

But when they encounter real scientific road blocks they fall flat. Realize this. Now you met one such road block! Turn around, change route and go the real scientific way.

Q: Are there any scientifical and biological depictions about icchadhari Naagins?  

Krishna: No! Snakes can live from 10 to 25 years only, not 100 years. And they definitely cannot obtain ‘powers’ by living for so long.

If they cannot bite living beings how can they survive in the first place? And no snake was found with a ‘gem’ or ‘naag mani’ till now.

These are just silly stories and wild imaginations. No such thing as icchadhari Naagin exist in reality.

Q: How can using plastic make young girls mature early?

Krishna: Xenoestrogens are a type of xenohormone that imitates estrogen. They can be either synthetic or natural chemical compounds. Synthetic xenoestrogens are widely used industrial compounds, especially in plastics such as PCBs, BPA, and phthalates, which have estrogenic effects on a living organism even though they differ chemically from the estrogenic substances produced internally by the endocrine system of any organism. Natural xenoestrogens include phytoestrogens which are plant-derived xenoestrogens. Because the primary route of exposure to these compounds is by consumption of phytoestrogenic plants, they are sometimes called "dietary estrogens". Mycoestrogens, estrogenic substances from fungi, are another type of xenoestrogen that are also considered mycotoxins ( I worked on these toxins and this is my subject).
Xenoestrogens are clinically significant because they can mimic the effects of endogenous estrogen and thus have been implicated in precocious puberty and other disorders of the reproductive system (1, 2).

Endocrine disruptors are a category of chemicals that alter the normal function of hormones.  Normally, our endocrine system releases hormones that signal different tissues telling them what to do. When chemicals from the outside get into our bodies, they have the ability to mimic our natural hormones, blocking or binding hormone receptors. This is particularly detrimental to hormone sensitive organs like the uterus and the breast, the immune and neurological systems, as well as human development.

Xenoestrogens are a sub-category of the endocrine disruptor group that specifically have estrogen-like effects. Estrogen is a natural hormone in humans that is important for bone growth, blood clotting and reproduction in men and women.

When xenoestrogens enter the body they increase the total amount of estrogen resulting in a phenomenon called, estrogen dominance. Xenoestrogens are not biodegradable so, they are stored in our fat cells. Build up of xenoestrogens have been indicated in many conditions including:  breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.

Here are some of the chemicals that are xenoestrogens:

  • Skincare:
    • 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC) ( used in sunscreen lotions)
    • Parabens (methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben commonly used as a preservative)
    • Benzophenone (sunscreen lotions)
  • Industrial products and Plastics:
    • Bisphenol A (monomer for polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin; antioxidant in plasticizers)
    • Phthalates (plasticizers)
    • DEHP (plasticizer for PVC)
    • Polybrominated biphenyl ethers (PBDEs) (flame retardants used in plastics, foams, building materials, electronics, furnishings, motor vehicles).
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  • Food:
    • Erythrosine / FD&C Red No. 3
    • Phenosulfothiazine (a red dye)
    • Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA (food preservative)
  • Building supplies:
    • Pentachlorophenol (general biocide and wood preservative)
    • Polychlorinated biphenyls / PCBs (in electrical oils, lubricants, adhesives, paints)
  • Insecticides:
    • Atrazine (weed killer)
    • DDT (insecticide, banned)
    • Dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (one of the breakdown products of DDT)
    • Dieldrin (insecticide)
    • Endosulfan (insecticide)
    • Heptachlor (insecticide)
    • Lindane / hexachlorocyclohexane (insecticide, used to treat lice and scabies)
    • Methoxychlor (insecticide)
    • Fenthion
    • Nonylphenol and derivatives (industrial surfactants; emulsifiers for emulsion polymerization; laboratory detergents; pesticides)
    • Other:
      • Propyl gallate
    • Chlorine and chlorine by-products
    • Ethinylestradiol (combined oral contraceptive pill)
    • Metalloestrogens (a class of inorganic xenoestrogens)
    • Alkylphenol (surfactant used in cleaning detergents

What you should do to avoid harm... 

  • Reduce the use of plastics whenever possible.
  • Do not microwave food in plastic containers.
  • Avoid the use of plastic wrap to cover food for storing or microwaving.
  • Use glass or ceramics whenever possible to store food.
  • Do not leave plastic containers, especially your drinking water, in the sun.
  • If a plastic water container has heated up significantly, throw it away.
  • Don’t refill plastic water bottles.
  • Avoid freezing water in plastic bottles to drink later.

Q: I am infertile because of auto-immune problems. How can would this happen in a healthy person like me?

Krishna: Testes (or testicles) are what are known as an ‘immune-privileged’ site*,  which allows sperm cells within testicles to be protected from the body’s immune system. Most cells in the body are recognized by the immune system as ‘self,’ but mature sperm are a notable exception. Since sperm cells don’t mature until puberty, the immune system doesn’t recognize sperm as ‘self,’ but rather as a foreign agent. Immune privilege prevents molecular triggers, called antigens, expressed by sperm from inciting an autoimmune attack against them. In some people this privilege gets break down.  Some 20 percent of male infertility is thought to be a result of a breakdown of immune privilege, in which sperm cells are attacked and destroyed by the body.

* But this site provides protection to certain viruses like HIV too which hide there to avoid our body immune system. Immune privilege allows foreign invaders, including viruses, to find protection from the immune system within the testes. This is because antigens from invaders also do not seem to set off an inflammatory response, unlike elsewhere in the body. Patients had been found to have Zika and Ebola viruses in their semen months after they were originally infected even though the viruses had been cleared from elsewhere in their bodies.

Q: Can high temperature cause brain damage?

Krishna: Some years back my mother had Malaria and the temperature of her body shot up to 107 degrees F every alternate day - this continued for one year and she had malaria five times in 12 months. Malaria medicines didn’t work (resistance ‘s the culprit) . The doctors didn’t believe us until they themselves checked her temperature. She went into a highly confused state of mind. We thought she would die. I tried to cool her body down quickly using all the methods I know. Fortunately, her temperature control mechanism too worked wonderfully and she came out of it without much damage within minutes of having high temperatures.
But what I noticed after that ‘s she became very irritative, forgetful, angry, unable to understand things properly. Dementia developed and she couldn’t recognize people properly. I had to understand her condition scientifically to deal with her patiently and take care of her till her dying day.
It wasn’t easy at all.
Excessive heat denatures proteins, destabilizes phospholipids and lipoproteins, and liquefies membrane lipids, leading to cardiovascular collapse, multiorgan failure, and, ultimately, death.
So in fact one's tissues, also the brain, is destroyed by the excessive heat.

Q: Do you oppose our ancient wisdom by following science?

Krishna: No, I don't,  provided it promotes true knowledge and facts. Like this...

असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥ 
                                                                    – बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् 1.3.28


From untruth lead us to Truth.
From darkness lead us to Light.
From death lead us to Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

                                                                  -- Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

That is exactly what science does.  It takes us from falsehood and misconceptions to facts. It leads us from darkness to light. Science is fighting disease and death too. It is promoting human welfare. 

Am I not following ancient wisdom by going the way of science? :)

Q: How do you deal with ignorant people who oppose you?

Krishna: Hmmm! Not only me all my friends and colleagues find this very stressful. Very often we  face these situations....

Argument from ignorance, also known as appeal to ignorance (in which ignorance represents "a lack of contrary evidence") is a fallacy in informal logic. It asserts that a proposition is true because it has not yet been proven false or a proposition is false because it has not yet been proven true. This represents a type of false dichotomy in that it excludes a third option, which is that there may have been an insufficient investigation, and therefore there is insufficient information to prove the proposition be either true or false. Nor does it allow the admission that the choices may in fact not be two (true or false), but may be as many as four: true, false, unknown between true or false, being unknowable (among the first three) (3).

In debates, appeals to ignorance are sometimes used in an attempt to shift the burden of proof.  

Arguments that appeal to ignorance rely merely on the fact that the veracity of the proposition is not disproved to arrive at a definite conclusion. These arguments fail to appreciate that the limits of one's understanding or certainty do not change what is true. They do not inform upon reality. That is, whatever the reality is, it does not "wait" upon human logic or analysis to be formulated. Reality exists at all times, and it exists independently of what is in the mind of anyone. And the true thrust of science and rational analysis is to separate preconceived notion(s) of what reality is, and to be open at all times to the observation of nature as it behaves, so as truly to discoverreality. This fallacy can be very convincing and is considered by some to be a special case of a false dilemma or false dichotomy in that they both fail to consider alternatives. A false dilemma may take the form:

  • If a proposition has not been disproved, then it cannot be considered false and must therefore be considered true.
  • If a proposition has not been proven, then it cannot be considered true and must therefore be considered false.

Such arguments attempt to exploit the facts that (a) true things can never be disproved and (b) false things can never be proved. In other words, appeals to ignorance claim that the converse of these facts are also true. Therein lies the fallacy (4).

To reiterate, these arguments ignore the fact, and difficulty, that some true things may never be proved, and some false things may never be disproved with absolute certainty. The phrase "the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence" can be used as a shorthand rebuttal to the second form of the ignorance fallacy (i.e. P has never been absolutely proved and is therefore certainly false). Most often it is directed at any conclusion derived from null results in an experiment or from the non-detection of something. In other words, where one researcher may say their experiment suggests evidence of absence, another researcher might argue that the experiment failed to detect a phenomenon for other reasons.
People bring all sorts of equations, beliefs, opinions, and emotions and attack scientists for placing facts before them. They refuse to consider what scientists say and tell them to go to hell. That's why till now scientists kept quiet.  We definitely cannot stoop to a lower level. But this is going out of control now.  
Therefore, we will have to speak and speak we will. Attack or no attack. Understanding or no understanding. Consideration or no consideration. Our effort must go on.
Q: ( Yesterday a person called me all the way from Chandigarh to ask this Q ) Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa, I recently came across one of your articles you posted on your network (link given below):
It 's of tremendous help to us. I manufacture steel drinking water pipes and am fighting a war with people who manufacture pvc pipes. I am working with the Member of Parliament of our constituency to eradicate them. We are going to prepare a report and present it to the parliamentary committee that deals with this issue. I cannot tell you how glad I am to come across your article on this. We want to base our report on your article. Can you please send me some references of the research work done on this aspect? Please do it fast as we have to submit the report next week. Thanks a lot for your help.
Krishna: WOW! Glad to hear this. a parliamentary report based on my article? Will send you the references immediately.


  1.  Aksglaede L, Juul A, Leffers H, Skakkebaek NE, Andersson AM (2006). "The sensitivity of the child to sex steroids: possible impact of exogenous estrogens". Hum. Reprod. Update. 12 (4): 341–9. doi:10.1093/humupd/dml018. PMID 16672247.
  2.  Herman-Giddens ME, Slora EJ, Wasserman RC, Bourdony CJ, Bhapkar MV, Koch GG, Hasemeier CM (April 1997). "Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network". Pediatrics. 99 (4): 505–12. doi:10.1542/peds.99.4.505. PMID 9093289.

3.  "Argumentum ad Ignorantiam". Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic. Lander University. 2004. Archived from the original on 30 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-29.

4. Duco A. Schreuder (3 December 2014). Vision and Visual Perception. Archway Publishing. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-4808-1294-9.

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