SCI-ART LAB

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

Q: What is the exact meaning of science?
Krishna : As a person of science, I feel what people explain and understand in general is just a partial picture!

Science is the process with which we try to study and understand this universe and the knowledge acquired with it. This is what people usually think when they hear the name. And people when they interpret science in this way criticize it because they really don’t think about the other half of it!

But there is science i.e., the laws that govern this universe and every millimeter and Angstrom of this universe is filled with it. This universe is science based and science run. If you remove science from it, it just collapses and it ceases to exist! Therefore, this universe, even life, you and I exist because of science that governs this universe.

If you remove religion from peoples’ minds, like atheists do, they can still exist. But remove science from a living system, it just stops to exist! So get this right: Science is the life line of this universe, life in it, and you won’t be there without it! That is the importance of science! Now, science haters go ahead and bash your own life and your very existence! :)

Q: What is the truth about cataract disappearing by using a homeopathy or ayurvedic eye drops?

Krishna: Till now surgery is the only option to remove cataracts.

However, I read a research paper in the journal Nature sometime back which says ‘ scientists found an eye drop that can effectively reverse cataracts in animal testing. ‘

Lanosterol reverses protein aggregation in cataracts

These drops are neither homeopathic nor ayurvedic in nature. Get that right first. And the drops are still at a testing stage. Not a perfect cure to use right now.

Lanosterol treatment could reduce cataract severity and increase transparency in dissected rabbit cataractous lenses in vitro and cataract severity in vivo in dogs. The study identifies lanosterol as a key molecule in the prevention of lens protein aggregation and points to a novel strategy for cataract prevention and treatment.

The work began with the cases of three children who had a severe cataract condition that ran in their family. The scientists sequenced the children's genomes and identified a genetic mutation that interfered with the production of lanosterol, a naturally occurring steroid in the body. From that clue, they decided to test whether lanosterol might have the ability to prevent or even eliminate cataracts.

They tested it first in lab cultures, then in the cataract lenses of rabbits, and finally on 7 dogs from 3 species (black Labrador, Queensland Heeler and Miniature Pinscher ) who were suffering from adult-onset cataracts, which can happen in canines as well as humans.

For the dogs' treatment, they sedated the animals and injected lanosterol (100 mg)-loaded nanoparticles into the vitreous cavity of the eye, the area behind the lens which is filled with a gel-like substance called the vitreous humor. The treatment eyes then received lanosterol in topical eye drops, one drop three times a day for 6 weeks.

"Treatment by lanosterol," the researchers write, "significantly decreased preformed protein aggregates both in vitro and in cell-transfection experiments."

The dogs who received the treatment showed notable improvement in their cataracts, graded on a scale from zero (no cataract) to 3 (extensive opacity of the entire lens).

Please note that cataract can have other origins* too. These drops don’t work for other types.

*Types of cataracts include:

  • A subcapsular cataract occurs at the back of the lens. People with diabetes or those taking high doses of steroid medications have a greater risk of developing a subcapsular cataract.
  • A nuclear cataract forms deep in the central zone (nucleus) of the lens. Nuclear cataracts usually are associated with aging.
  • A cortical cataract is characterized by white, wedge-like opacities that start in the periphery of the lens and work their way to the center in a spoke-like fashion. This type of cataract occurs in the lens cortex, which is the part of the lens that surrounds the central nucleus.

When a nuclear cataract first develops, it can bring about a temporary improvement in your near vision, called "second sight." Unfortunately, the improved vision is short-lived and will disappear as the cataract worsens. On the other hand, a subcapsular cataract may not produce any symptoms until it's well-developed.

These aspects are taken by ayurvedic and homeopathic doctors to tell patients that they can improve their vision with eye drops which is not true.

You can prevent cataracts to a large extent by following these methods…

Higher dietary intakes of vitamin E and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin

from food and supplements can significantly decrease risks of cataract.

Good food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and spinach. Good sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include spinach, kale and other green, leafy vegetables.

Antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C and foods containing omega - 3 fatty acids may reduce cataract risk.

Another step you can take to reduce your risk of cataracts is to wear protective sunglasses that block 100 percent of the sun's UV rays when you are outdoors.

And use protective computer screens too.

Q: Are there generic medicines for high chronic diseases?

Krishna: There are controversies and attempts to malign generic medicines. When talking about them, you have to put all the views before general public to help them take informed decisions. Read this article that makes one such attempt …

Q: What’s the closest thing to a superpower that actually exists?

Krishna : Science! There is no power more potent than it! Everything in this universe revolves around it, run by it and controlled by it.
Whatever happens here depends on the sum total outcomes of scientific factors occurring simultaneously.

Q:  How does creativity solve the scientific problems?

You have scientific knowledge, lots of it. Everything that is there to learn is learnt and stored in the box above your head. But just sitting there doesn’t do it any good. You have to use it to get benefited by it.

Now you have problems around you. Lots of them. Just sitting beside them and watching them with despair will not solve them. So what do you do?

Bring in creativity! Not any creativity, only scientific creativity. Knowing the difference between the creativities of art and science is extremely important now. Just because you are good at arts doesn't make you good at scientific creativity.

Artist's depend mostly on "their thoughts, ideas, beliefs and personal views" for their work whereas scientists' base their work on natural laws and facts and how to fit their informed ideas into these laws to creatively invent or discover something. The imagination of a scientist is based on reality. A scientist has to get his imagination right to succeed where as the artist need not do it right to move forward. In fact, the inadequacies of artists' imagination are what moves the art world forward!

I will give an example here. When artists, writers and poets look at the moon they see it as a silver ball in the sky and describe it or paint it in this manner. I even read some stories where the crescent moon was described as a jewel in the hair of a God! This thinking reflects in their creativity ( metaphor and fiction). Now scientists think in terms of a rocky, dusty satellite that moves in space around the earth trapped in its gravity field when they think about the moon and they use their creativity to take the help of the gravity of the moon to accelerate space ships or change their course to send them to other planets to save fuel and time - the mechanism is called "gravity assist “.

There is a fundamental difference between artistic creativity and the scientific creativity, I think artistic creativity actually creates problems while dealing with sciences because your personal emotions and views have no place in the scientific research. Everybody in the world of science have to obey natural laws and the rules of science. You have to be emotion free while doing research in science . Just because you believe in something or think it is true ( on which artistic creativity depends) it doesn't become a fact ( on which scientific creativity depends). Beliefs and facts need not agree with each other! I actually see a clash here! And I don't think artistic creativity can help scientific creativity much unless artists too base their creativity on facts and truth.

So scientists creatively connect their scientific knowledge to the problems the world (or they are) is facing and solve them and help the world. That is how new inventions come into this world - through scientific creativity.

Q: Do paranormal and people with psychic ablities fake it? Is there any scientific explaination on psychic and paranormal activities? I've heard the investigative agencies of govt use people with psychic abilities. 

I've heard the investigative agencies of govt use people with psychic abilities.

These are failed experiments and abandoned!

Q: Why almost all Indians say bread is bad for health? Is there any truth  behind it or is it just a myth?

Krishna: Refined flour bread gets absorbed easily and spike blood sugar levels fast in some people. These people can take whole wheat bread.

However, sick, very young and old people have difficulty in digesting whole wheat bread. These people can go for refined wheat flour bread.

Yes, recent research says emulsifiers – detergent-like food additives found in a variety of processed foods including breads and biscuits - have the potential to damage the intestinal barrier, leading to inflammation and increasing our risk of chronic disease. Sugars added - to some breads like the milk bread - are also not good for health in general. Preservatives added can also cause some health issues.

The digestion depends on several things including your gut bacteria. You cannot make sweeping statements like ‘bread is bad for health’ and ‘bread is bad for everybody’.

However, if you are used to whole wheat flour rotis, and you can digest them very well, don’t switch to commercial refined flour breads unless your digestive tract begs for them when you get sick or old.

Q: (After reading the above answer a person - AK - sent me this message:  

Thank you ma’am!

Your answer was very informative. I was aware that most of the processed food contain food additives which are not good for health. However, living a bachelor life away from your parents will make it easy for you to depend on noodles or breads. Anyways, I understood that taking a break from bread would be good for my health. I hope I’ll find a healthy substitute of bread, soon :Please suggest some.

Krishna: Go for whole wheat rotis or brown rice. Youngsters can digest them well. 

Q: How will I know that ghosts are around us? 

Science and the paranormal

Q: What is the worst scenario do you think we can expect when we are not scientifically literate?

Krishna: I can give you several scenarios to contemplate. But let me restrict myself to one. Science has increased your life expectancy. But if you don't make use of scientific knowledge properly, scientists warn that it might get decreased again! The reasons scientists give are ...

 smoking (if you refuse to accept clinical research that says smoking causes several health issues), body mass index (overeating unhealthy foods), clean water ( because of polluting the world ) and good sanitation conditions ( if you don't know what good sanitation is and how to protect yourself from deadly diseases), along with other variables, such as fertility measurements (it seems male fertility rate is decreasing because of -well this is only based on preliminary results, not an established fact- mobile phone use to smoking, chemicals in plastics around us and oral contraceptives [contaminating drinking water] – has been blamed for declining sperm counts). 

The top eight causes of early death in 2040 are expected to be ischemic heart disease, stroke, lower-respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a lung disease that blocks airflow), chronic kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and road injuries. Scientists warn that on the one hand, accelerating technology provides a great opportunity to push toward a "better" scenario, while an absence of policy action could thrust the world into the "worse" scenario. Under the "worse-health" scenario,  life expectancy is projected to go down in nearly half of the countries of the world. The key health drivers that can lead to early death are high blood pressure, high body-mass index, high blood sugar, poor nutrition and tobacco and alcohol use.

Now get educated in the right way to change that situation. 

Read more here: how-scientific-illiteracy-can-harm-you

Q: Is it right for scientists to criticize religion?

Krishna: People think disrespecting others’ beliefs means disrespecting the people themselves. It is ‘bad upbringing’ to criticize others’ beliefs according to them.

Not necessarily. Everybody has his or her own right to believe in what they think is right for them. Right? Right! But...there is an exception...

This right exists only till it doesn't do any harm to others around. The moment we realize some harm is being done because of these baseless beliefs, we have to negate them, fight them and try to eradicate them.

The health of a society as a whole is more important than an individual's right to have his or her beliefs.

Like we fight antivexers.

Some of them say vaccination is against religious beliefs and tell others not to get their children vaccinated. That is where we, the people of science, fight religion if it comes in the way of science and welfare of the people. Get that right.

Q: Is it possible in any way to connect science and logic with religion and souls?

But still people try and create pseudo-science in the process to authenticate their beliefs. Most people don’t know the difference between genuine science and pseudo-science and think what they found is real science and try to propagate it! And people around believe it too. Scientists don’t like that a bit and we are trying to fight this pseudo-science menace.

Sorry, no matter how much you try, evidence less imaginations can never become science. False connections can never become genuine science.

You will find the explanations here:

Science and Spirituality

Soul?! What is it according to science and scientists?

Love Science, not its impostors!

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

Q: How can people experience ghosts and spirits if they don't exist?
Krishna: People can experience something and based on their strange interpretations and perceptions come under illusions. These people believe in the paranormal.

If you are a critical thinker you genuinely investigate things, try to find out the truth, not just feel and imagine things. These people are skeptics.

There is no genuine evidence of ghosts according to science. So?!

Science and the paranormal

Q: What are the nonscientific and scientific methods?

You will find the differences here: Scientific method

here: be-alert-pseudo-science and anti-science are on the prowl

and here; love-science-not it’s impostors

Q: What is the science behind omens?

Q: Do omens really exist?

One of my aunts dropped her kumkum box sometime back, spilling the kumkum all over the place. People told her it was a bad omen and something bad would happen to her husband. The influence of movies, soap operas etc.etc. Then again she dropped haldi box. Again people told her it was a sure sign of bad things to come. My aunt got scared to death. It affected her psychologically. She stopped eating.

Then I visited her and told her, as she was becoming old, she was losing grip and therefore dropping things very frequently. There ‘s nothing to worry about common things happening.

Now after two years, she is still dropping things but my uncle is quite healthy. So?!

Stop believing in superstitions. Stop making wrong connections. Don’t spread around your irrational perceptions and beliefs and don’t scare people to death. It effects them psychologically. And the Nocebo Effect can have severe consequences too.

There is no science behind omens.

Stop, stop, stop and stop this nonsense from spreading.

Q: What is the scientific reason behind Dussehra festival? 

Oh, yes, some people try to authenticate their views, beliefs etc. using science and boast about them. They create pseudo-science in the process.

Most People don’t know the difference between genuine science and pseudo-science and think all that people give as explanations for their cultural practices are true.

We, the people of science are fighting this menace of pseudo-science.

I have answered several of these Qs. And provided links to articles that differentiate science from pseudo-science. But I still get these Qs almost every week!

Love Science, not its impostors!

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

Q: Why did supreme court impose restrictions on bursting firecrackers? They are good for insect - especially mosquito - control!

Krishna:   Read this article and then say that again!

deepavali-fireworks-cause-more-distress-than-happiness

Q: How can theoretical physicists be called scientists without doing experiments?

Krishna: The field of physics generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena.

Theoretical physicists follow scientific methods.  Theoretical frameworks like quantum mechanics, quantum field theory etc. are so successful because they allow us to compute testable predictions!

Those predictions can be tested with experiments at a later period when we acquire the ability to test them scientifically. It is common in all areas of science where a proponent of a theory suggests a hypothesis which matches the known observations, but which they currently have no way of proving it - and until such time it is proven - then it remains a hypothesis. Science is littered with instances where scientists have proposed hypothesis which have no simple way at the time of being proven directly at the time when the hypothesis was written.

Being a scientist is a state of mind. If the physicist is strictly following scientific method,  he can be called a scientist even if s/he doesn't do any experiments. Once trained as a scientist, how can you remove science from the person if s/he is totally dedicated to the field?

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You show science from  completely new angles, enhancing our understanding of the subject, Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa. Thank you.

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