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

Q: What is the difference between anti-oxidant and antibiotic?

Krishna: Anti-oxidant is the one that inhibits oxidation (in an oxidation-reduction, or redox, reaction, one atom or compound will steal electrons from another atom or compound.  For instance, when rusting happens, oxygen steals electrons from iron). Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, thereby leading to chain reactions that may damage the cells of organisms. In biological systems this can cause oxidative stress which is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body.

 Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. They can be beneficial or harmful. Everyone produces some free radicals naturally in their body through processes like exercise or inflammation. This is normal and part of the body’s intricate system of keeping itself healthy.

You may also be exposed to free radicals in the environment. Some sources include: ozone, certain pesticides and cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation, pollution. A diet high in sugar, fat, and alcohol may also contribute to free radical production.

Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.

Examples of antioxidants: Beta-carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Selenium, Vitamins A, C, E

When functioning properly, free radicals can help fight off pathogens. Pathogens lead to infections.

When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so that damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time. These diseases include diabetes, hardening of blood vessels, high BP, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's or alzheimer's, early aging (biological)  and cancer. 

To avoid such damage you have to take anti oxidants through your diet. Like colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish and nuts, vitamins C and E containing foods, onions, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon.

Antibiotic is a medicine (Example:  penicillin or its derivatives) that inhibits the growth of or destroys microorganisms. Therefore, they are used in the treatment of infections.

Q: It is often said that women who share a room/flat, mostly get their monthly cycle synced in few months. Is it just a myth or is there any scientific reason behind it? 

Krishna: Recent research (1,2) has proved that it is a total myth.

1. No evidence for menstrual synchrony in lesbian couples.

2. Women do not synchronize their menstrual cycles.

Earlier work on this aspect was found to have several statistical errors but the damage it caused still stays.

Q: What is the meaning of black magic? Does black magic really exist according to science?

You can give any definition for things that don’t exist! However, people consider it BM when ‘magic’ or ‘supernatural powers’ are used for selfish and evil purposes. And mentally weak people get psychologically effected because they think they are under some ‘bad influence’. That makes them worry and sick, not because of actual black magic but because of a thing called Nocebo Effect .

Some leaves, chillies, kumkum, turmeric powder, a doll cannot do any harm to any one. Some chanting of silly mantras cannot effect anybody just like that. Stop believing in it and it won’t effect you in any way!

Q: A Tunisian PhD student, after 5 yrs of work, submitted a thesis declaring Earth to be flat, unmoving, young and the center of the universe. What are your views on it?

Krishna: Oh, my! What a waste of time and energy!

Although the thesis passed initial stages of approval, I am glad it was rejected in the end (1). Good sense prevailed. But the attention it gathered and the papers published on the aspect in dubious journals has caused some damage already. 

And I am worried about the student and also the professor who guided her. The professor is not fit to be a professor at all. He is not fit to be in the field of science in the first place. Disregarding hundreds of years of scientific work, all the evidence it gathered and bringing religious beliefs into science is pure insanity!  

Q: Why does the Earth rotate to form day and night? What made our solar system to spin?

Krishna: The Earth formed out of a disk of gas and dust that swirled around the newborn sun. In this spinning disk, bits of dust and rock stuck together to form the Earth, according to scientists. As it grew, space rocks continued colliding with the nascent planet, exerting forces that sent it spinning. Because all the debris in the early solar system was rotating around the sun in roughly the same direction, the collisions also spun the Earth — and most everything else in the solar system — in that direction.

The sun and the solar system was formed when a cloud of dust and gas collapsed due to its own weight. Most of the gas condensed to become the sun, while the remaining material went into the surrounding, planet-forming disk. Before it collapsed, the gas molecules and dust particles were moving all over the place, but at a certain point, some gas and dust happened to shift a bit more in one particular direction, setting its spin in motion. When the gas cloud then collapsed, the cloud's rotation sped up — just as figure skaters spin faster when they tuck their arms and legs in. Because there isn't much in space to slow things down, once something starts rotating, it usually keeps going. The rotating baby solar system in this case had lots of what's called angular momentum, a quantity that describes the object's tendency to keep spinning. As a result, all the planets likely spun in the same direction when the solar system formed. Collisions between heavenly bodies changed the direction of spin of some of the planets.

Q: Why does Earth wobble?

Krishna: Recent research answers  the reasons why and finds that a third is due to melting ice and rising sea levels, particularly in Greenland — placing the blame on the doorstep of anthropogenic climate change.

Another third of the wobble is due to land masses expanding upward as the glaciers retreat and lighten their load. The final portion is the fault of the slow churn of the mantle, the viscous middle layer of the planet.

Q: Do superstitious beliefs have a scientific basis?

You become superstitious when you lose control over your life and the situations you are in and in utter chaos. You try to gain the lost confidence through some sort of external emotional support which is highly unlikely to get. But you think any straw would do to clutch and overcome the tide and trouble.

Instead, why don’t you try to gain full control over your life and situations you are in to get maximum success and benefits? Consider these things …

Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Science and superstitions : How rational thinking can make you work...



Q: Why is anecdotal evidence is not evidence in science when courts accept it? 

Krishna: Anecdotal evidence is evidence alright but it can be manipulated to suit you and therefore, highly unreliable. 

The other day we were discussing about paranormal activities. People told so many stories which I felt very difficult to believe! They gave 'evidence' of You Tube videos, stories written in books, magazines, depicted in movies, and things they experienced!

Not one convinced me because I could explain them in terms of their imaginations, hallucinations, hoaxes to convince people the wrong way, and scientific phenomena!

Not one 'evidence' withstood my scientific scrutiny and critical thinking! 

Sorry folks, science doesn't accept anything just like that. We need genuine evidence based on scientific facts. 

We refuse to get tricked and fooled!

Science and the paranormal

Q: What is the difference between philosophy and science?

Krishna: This is the explanation given by a wise man ...

Philosophy is like looking for a black cat in a dark room which isn’t there, and then shouting I found it!

Science is like looking for a black cat in a dark room using a flashlight.

Q: We differentiate between moral and immoral through our critical thoughts and societies' standards. How can science help in distinguishing between the two like you say it does?

Krishna: When it comes to questions of morality and meaning, the way we go about deciding what is right and wrong, and meaningful or not, is not the same as the way we discover what is true and false or facts. Some emotions like kindness and empathy will be involved. Controlling them is highly important to arrive at a good decision. Just because a criminal cries and acts funnily, you cannot support him. Oh yes, his brain could be differently wired! You try to analyze what could make any person behave so differently from others. On the other hand you can empathize with a poor thief  when he steals food. But if you are a logical thinker you will try to understand what circumstances made him stole the food and try to correct them. Critical thinking helps here.

Unlike what several people think, science deals with moral ( derived from reasoning related to...empirical evidence) issues too and can be a good guide to life's journey through the  checkerboard of blacks and whites!

To think critically you need knowledge, facts and all aspects of the issue. That is where science provides the missing knowledge and facts. Without science’s assistance, your thoughts and conclusions will be lopsided and you will be blinded by the inadequacies. Take for example, forensic science. It helps police and courts in deciding what is right and what is wrong and punish the culprits for their wrong doings. Isn’t science assisting in deciding what is right and wrong and the related morality of the communities we live in?

As a person of science, I know exactly the way a tortured physical entity suffers. I know the neural actions, the brain’s interpretation of pain and suffering more than others around. I have a full view ( not a partial one like laymen have) of it before me. Therefore, I think the thing that is causing this suffering is immoral. That is how immoral is ‘correctly defined’ for me by science.

Science defines morality better than other ways of doing it. And that is a fact.

Critical Thinking


Q: Doesn't your bias towards science make you ignore its inadequacies? Is science without flaws?

Krishna: If the scientific principles this universe is based on are flawed, it would have collapsed by now! It would have ceased to exist! The fact that it is running wonderfully shows it 's near perfect!

Inadequacies lie only in our understanding of the working of the universe and the principles it 's based on, not in the science this universe 's made of.  Get that right first.

We are not adequately equipped to unravel the mysteries this universe 's made of correctly. Therefore, our understanding can sometimes go wrong. I accept that. But the methods and methodologies we are following at present to understand the science are the best we have right now. If anybody proposes a better one, we would definitely consider it. 

Until the day our way of understanding is fine tuned to get the correct picture, we have to deal with the current model and keep on improving on it. We accept that too.

Now tell me  - is my thinking really flawed? Do you have a better understanding of the situation? If you have, let me hear it! 

Q: What is more important, intelligence or emotion? 

Krishna: As a person trained in critical thinking, I would choose intellectualism, neither intelligence nor emotion.

Emotions completely screw up your thought processes. When emotionally charged, you cannot think clearly and rationally. Your feelings like love, respect, fear, hope etc. affects your behaviour. Then your motivational reasoning can derail your thinking. Biases meddle with your cognition too.

There is a distinct difference between intellect and intelligence. Intellect is considered to be related to "facts" in contrast to intelligence concerning "feelings". Feelings can sometimes screw up your mind and that is why even intelligent people make mistakes. Intellect refers to the cognition and rational mental processes gained through external input rather than internal. Intellect refers to the ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true. Intellect is often considered to be a branch of intelligence reflecting mainly its logical and rational side. Because of the lack of emotional and sensitive engagement, intellect is sometimes considered to be strictly limited to facts and not going beyond mere raw knowledge. You have to defeat your conditioning of mind by religion, emotions, culture, politics etc. and strictly depend on facts and genuine evidence to do critical thinking and come to a conclusion to become an intellectual. Intellectuals rarely make mistakes while thinking. So intellectualism is a better and higher form of mind matters.

An intellectual is more intelligent than an intelligent person!

Q: Why is it a sign of maturity to give up on the paranormal?

If you are a critical thinker, you will understand why believing in something that has no evidence doesn’t make sense at all.

Science and the paranormal

Q: Are still some people involved in black magic?

Krishna: There isn’t anything called black magic according to science. Nobody can do any harm to others just like that without ‘your consent’. Your consent hear means ‘your mental weakness’.

Black magic doesn’t effect mentally strong people because it doesn’t exist in the first place. And mentally weak people get psychologically effected because they think they are under some ‘bad influence’. That makes them worry and sick, not because of actual black magic but because of a thing called Nocebo Effect .

Some leaves, chillies, kumkum, turmeric powder, a doll cannot do any harm to any one. Some chanting of silly mantras cannot effect anybody just like that. Stop believing in it and it won’t effect you in any way!

So stop believing in it in the first place.

Krishna: Homeopathy doesn’t work. There is tons and tons of scientific evidence.

Q: Do scientists dream about science?

Krishna: Yes, they do! I myself have dreamt several times that I was searching for new microbes in remote places, identifying new microbes, working in a lab with all the equipment around, discussing science with my friends and colleagues and all the things scientists do in a lab!

Our dreams are made of this wonderful thing called science. Yes, we do science even in our dreams! :)

 Q: Should scientists retire?

Krishna: A genuine scientist never retires! A mind that is drunk on science will never think of doing anything else. I have heard/read about some Nobel laureates  working even at the ages of 90 and above. They say they don't want to retire! And that only death can stop them from doing their work.

Unless and until s/he her/him/self decides s/he can no longer work, scientists should be allowed to work as long as they want. The world needs Great Minds. Asking them to retire at some age is doing great injustice to their intellectualism.

Q: Is there science behind Indian traditions?  

Krishna: I have answered this Q several times here on this network. But still people keep asking it.

No, there is no modern science behind Indian traditions. There is pseudo-science and in some areas primitive science which don’t stand upto modern day scientific scrutiny. Modern day science needs to follow strict scientific methods to get established. None of Indian traditions went through this process and therefore the explanations people give for following some traditions qualifiy for the tag ‘pseudo-science’.

What is pseudo-science? Read here and try to distinguish between genuine science and pseudo-science:

Love Science, not its impostors!

Be alert - Pseudo-Science and Anti-Science are on the Prowl!

Q: How does scientific knowledge bring confidence?

Krishna: Not just confidence, a lot of confidence! Because the entire picture will be before you. You just have to view it, try to figure out what leads to where, choose the correct path, execute it and bingo, you reach your goal with ease!

Without it, you can get into trouble, suffer a lot and failure, why you can even put your life in danger. Read here how:

Q: What is there in science for scientists to  choose the field? 

Q: Why are scientists, scientists? 

Krishna: Can you tell what Neil Armstrong experienced when he first landed on the moon?

Or how Alexander Fleming felt when he discovered Penicillin?

Or how Benjamin Franklin felt when he found that lightening is electrical?

Or how Hanaoka Seishu felt when he developed general anesthesia ?

Or how the scientists at CERN felt when they discovered Higgs boson (confirmed to 99.999% certainty)?

Nothing, nothing, nothing and nothing compares to the thrill a scientist feels when s/he first discovers, invents, or reports something new. No place in the world is as exciting as a lab.

Thrill, authentic knowledge, facts, mind blowing experiences, everyday challenges, sweet success after a lot of struggle, Eureka/ This’s funny/Wow moments, encounters with some of the great minds in the world, conquering the final frontiers, answering the most difficult Qs, helping the humanity in the process , you name all the intoxicating things, we have them!

Well, of course it depends on the person, how s/he faces/lives his/her lab life. For me that is the best. I am drunk on it and won’t trade my work with all the money in the world. Even if I am given a hundred births, I will choose a lab to work in all of them!

Q: When all the important things have been discovered and invented, what more can the present day scientists do?

Krishna: There is still a lot of work to do. The universe is such a large entity, you will never run out things yet to be understood.

Moreover, invention is not the only thing which brings about changes in technology, modifications do that too. Not everything is perfect so you need to constantly endure in modifying those to one day achieve a perfect result. We need to improve our current knowledge. That is how science progresses.



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Replies to This Discussion


Your answers and articles are awesome, Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa! You convert high standard stuff into grandma's bed time stories with ease. My children and I love to read them and get inspired by them. You are my children's role model. There isn't anything you touched here that didn't influence us in one way or the other. Why aren't all scientists in India like you?

This site needs to be advertised and promoted vigorously. Everybody in India should read what you write to develop their personalities in the scientific way. Hope you would continue doing this work for many more years. India needs you.

Wishing you all the best

Swaroop C

Thank you so much!


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