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

Q: How do doctors test whether an unborn baby has any diseases?

Krishna: The fetus is surrounded by amniotic fluid, a liquid much like water, in the mother's womb. Amniotic fluid contains live fetal cells and other substances, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). These substances provide important information about a baby's health before birth.

Amniocentesis is a prenatal test in which a small amount of amniotic fluid is removed from the sac surrounding the fetus for testing. The sample of amniotic fluid (less than one ounce) is removed through a fine needle inserted into the uterus through the abdomen, under ultrasound guidance. The fluid is then sent to a laboratory for analysis. Different tests can be performed on a sample of amniotic fluid, depending on the genetic risk and indication for the test.

A complete anatomical ultrasound will be done prior to amniocentesis. But amniocentesis is performed to look for certain types of birth defects, such as Down syndrome, a chromosomal abnormality. Because amniocentesis presents a small risk for both the mother and her baby, the prenatal test is generally offered to women who have a significant risk for genetic diseases, including those who have an abnormal ultrasound or abnormal lab screens, have a family history of certain birth defects, have previously had a child or pregnancy with a birth defect. Amniocentesis does not detect all birth defects, but it can be used to detect the some conditions if the parents have a significant genetic risk like down syndrome, sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, tay-Sachs and similar diseases. Amniocentesis can detect certain neural tube defects (diseases where the brain and spinal column don't develop properly), such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Because ultrasound is performed at the time of amniocentesis, it may detect birth defects that are not detected by amniocentesis (such as cleft palate, cleft lip, club foot, or heart defects). There are some birth defects, however, that will not be detected by either amniocentesis or ultrasound.
If you are having an amniocentesis, you may ask to find out the baby's sex; amniocentesis is the most accurate way to determine the baby's gender before birth.
An amniocentesis can also be done during the third trimester of the pregnancy to determine if the baby's lungs are mature enough for delivery, or to evaluate the amniotic fluid for infection.

Also two maternal serum (blood) tests are conducted in the first three months. The blood tests measure two substances found in the blood of all pregnant women: 

  • Pregnancy-associated plasma protein screening (PAPP-A)--a protein produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk for chromosome abnormality.

  • Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG)--a hormone produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk for chromosome abnormality.

Second trimester (3-6 moths) prenatal screening may include several blood tests, called multiple markers.  These markers provide information about a woman's risk of having a baby with certain genetic conditions or birth defects. Screening is usually performed by taking a sample of the mother's blood between the 15th and 20th weeks of pregnancy (16th to 18th is ideal).

 The multiple markers include:

  • Alpha-fetoprotein screening (AFP). This blood test measures the level of alpha-fetoprotein in the mothers' blood during pregnancy. AFP is a protein normally produced by the fetal liver and is present in the fluid surrounding the fetus (amniotic fluid), and crosses the placenta into the mother's blood. The AFP blood test is also called MSAFP (maternal serum AFP).

    Abnormal levels of AFP may signal the following: 

    Open neural tube defects (ONTD), such as spina bifida, down syndrome, other chromosomal abnormalities, defects in the abdominal wall of the fetus, twins--more than one fetus is making the protein, a miscalculated due date, as the levels vary throughout pregnancy
  • hCG. This is human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (a hormone produced by the placenta)

  • Estriol. This is a  hormone produced by the placenta

  • Inhibin. This is a hormone produced by the placenta

Abnormal test results of AFP and other markers may indicate the need for additional testing. Usually an ultrasound is performed to confirm the dates of the pregnancy and to look at the fetal spine and other body parts for defects. An amniocentesis like described above  will be done for accurate diagnosis.

Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) is a prenatal test that involves taking a sample of some of the placental tissue. This tissue contains the same genetic material as the fetus and can be tested for chromosomal abnormalities and some other genetic problems. Testing is available for other genetic defects and disorders depending on the family history and availability of laboratory testing at the time of the procedure. CVS is usually performed between the 10th and 12th weeks of pregnancy.

During late pregnancy and during labor, your doctor may want to monitor the fetal heart rate and other functions. Fetal heart rate monitoring is a method of checking the rate and rhythm of the fetal heartbeat. The average fetal heart rate is between 110 and 160 beats per minute. The fetal heart rate may change as the fetus responds to conditions in the uterus. An abnormal fetal heart rate or pattern may mean that the fetus is not getting enough oxygen or there are other problems. An abnormal pattern also may mean that an emergency or cesarean delivery is needed.

Using a fetoscope (a type of stethoscope) to listen to the fetal heart beat is the most basic type of fetal heart rate monitoring. Another type of monitoring is with a hand held Doppler device. This is often used during prenatal visits to count the fetal heart rate. During labor, continuous electronic fetal monitoring is often used.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) are bacteria found in the lower genital tract of about 25 percent of all women. GBS infection usually causes no problems in women before pregnancy, but can cause serious illness in the mother during pregnancy. GBS may cause chorioamnionitis (a severe infection of the placental tissues) and postpartum infection. Urinary tract infections caused by GBS can lead to preterm labor and birth, or pyelonephritis and sepsis.

GBS is the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborns, including pneumonia and meningitis. Newborn babies contract the infection during pregnancy or from the mother's genital tract during labor and delivery.

There are several other specific tests, but this is a brief summery of the important ones to find out the health of a fetus and how the tests are done. For more details consult your doctor.

Q: What are some common things that we do or don't do can cause cancer? 

Krishna: Getting cancer depends on several things. You cannot generalize like that but still there are some risk factors you should consider ... like ...

 Long-term exposure of white skin to UVA rays in sunlight ( which might lead to skin cancer), drinking very hot beverages can cause esophageal cancer ( over 149 degrees Fahrenheit or 65 degrees Celcius  is considered very hot), eating pepperoni on Pizza ( eating processed or red meats is bad says WHO), moving in a closed car in traffic (the WHO has uncovered that exposure to the fumes produced by burning diesel fuel can lung cause cancer in humans, but then breathing polluted air in heavy traffic is not good too! So you are doomed in both ways!), wearing dry-cleaned clothes ( WHO says the chemicals of dry-cleaning can cause certain cancers like bladder, liver, and cervical), not using condoms during sex with several partners ( besides the risk of acquiring a sexually transmitted infection, not using a barrier method such as a condom could leave you vulnerable to certain types of cancer. HPV is a cancer-causing virus that is transmitted during unprotected sex and can result in a range of conditions like cancer of the cervix, anus, penis, throat,vulva and vagina), using some plastic products that contain harmful chemicals, alcohol consumption, if you vape or smoke cigarettes (there is no safe level of smoking, aerosols used in vapes contain carcinogenic chemicals), not eating enough vegetables and fruits that contain fiber. 

I can go on like this but I think I have covered the most important ones. 

Q:Does a real life NZT pill actually exist?

Krishna : There is no pill that can make you a miracle person. Period.
It just is a fantasy based on wild imagination.

Higher levels of thought like critical thinking, neutral reasoning, planning, directing attention to information that is relevant, creatively connecting things can be obtained only through thorough training. You need lots of knowledge too to do higher levels of brain activities.

Okay, you take a pill. It improves the neural connections. To what? Blankness? When there is no proper stored knowledge, how can you retract and use information? How can you creatively connect your present problem to ‘nothingness’ in your brain and solve a problem efficiently? When there’s no information coming in from the environment to stimulate the circuits, how can they become complete?

With smart drugs, all you’re doing is taking the brain that you have and putting it in its optimal chemical state. Then how can it act in a vacuum?

These drugs won’t be enhancing cognition directly, but simply improve the user’s state of mind – making work more pleasurable and enhancing focus. But to enhance one dimension of cognition, you need to divert resources from others, which make them weak. So while improving something, you are impairing other things! According to experts, there are costs to narrowing your attention. Not only all the stuff in the periphery that might be very significant that you might be missing, but internally – if you narrow your attentional field, it also narrows the range and scope of associations you could bring into your thought process which make it very unbalanced.

Then is it really improving your brain’s capacity? No! It just is juggling the resources!

You can do that without drugs too and more efficiently with the right training process!

Q: Does microwaving of food cause cancer?

Krishna: Microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are similar to radio waves but shorter. These waves are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical—one end positively charged and the other negatively charged. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.

Radiation exposure exists on a spectrum; microwaves are on the low end, and things like x-rays, gamma rays, and UV radiation are on the high end of the scale. Microwaves don't make food radioactive. When microwave ovens are used according to instructions, there is no evidence that they pose a health risk to people. But  broken microwaves can leak a higher amount of radiation. 

WHO makes these suggestions:

  • You can reduce your exposure to microwaves by ensuring your machine works properly.
  • Neither the door nor the sealants should show signs of damage, and the sealants should be kept free of dirt and grime. 
  • The door should open and close correctly and fit securely.
  • If your microwave or any of its parts are on the fritz, you should refrain from using it until the parts are fixed, or purchase a new one.

But what is more important while using a microwave is - don't use plastic utensils in the microwave. Although many plastic containers are now labeled “microwave safe,” or “BPA free,” researchers discovered most of these plastic products leach chemicals with estrogenic activity ( in human beings). These are more dangerous than radiation of microwaves. Therefore, when you microwave plastic, it may hasten the breakdown of the container and allow the harmful chemicals to be released into your food at a faster rate. But there’s a solution to this issue—take the food out of the plastic container and use glass or ceramic dishes when microwaving instead.

Q: How can I critically evaluate the accuracy of a popular science article when I am not a scientist?

Krishna: To critically evaluate the accuracy of a science article, you need thorough knowledge. Without it you cannot analyse it properly.

However, you can find out to some extent whether an article is based on real science or a pseudo-one. This article would help you in doing that :

How to trust science stories: A guide for common man

Q: How do scientists remember so much information? How do they know which one to use to solve the problems we are facing?

Krishna: I will tell how my mind does this.

First, if I read something, I try to understand it fully. If once I understand something thoroughly and if my mind recognizes that it is very important, that gets imprinted on my mind forever! Until my death or until my brain gets some conditions like dementia, this condition stays. 

Second, your brain's space is limited. Therefore, you have to remove all the clutter from it. Recognize which information is important and which one is not. Throw away all the rubbish if it is there but it would be better if you don't even allow it to enter the box.  I don't remember most of the things I came across in my life ... read here the funny things about my brain ... how-the-brain-of-a-polymath-copes-with-all-the-things-it-does

The answer to your second Q is 'scientific creativity'. If you have this creative ability, your mind automatically connects the solutions in the form of information stored in your brain to the problems you are facing. That sounds easy, doesn't it? Yes, easy to people who 're gifted with this ability or atleast to those who developed it. For others, this sounds like magic. 

Q: Science is boring. An equation can never entertain you like Charlie Chaplin could. Science can never make you feel good. That is why scientists are not celebrities. Do you agree?

Krishna: Hmmm! Who wants to be a celebrity anyway? Not scientists! We have better things to do.

Who says science isn’t fun and entertaining? If you have the right attitude, even science can be very attractive and can make you feel good.

18 Fun Science Experiments for Kids - Spaceships and Laser Beams

Fun Science Experiments for Kids

6 Easy and Fun Science Experiments for Kids

Now say that again, the person with the wrong attitude!

Q: Why does it always happen to me that whenever I write any theory, it is already published by some other scientist or philosopher? 

Without doing your background work, you cannot directly do scientific research or publish papers.

Q: Tell me why your site is better than other ones and why people should visit it? (Q asked to just to tell other people, not to test you)

Krishna: Glad you asked me this Q. These are my points...

1. You get credible science information  here directly from the experts' PCs, papers and labs, not from journalists who try to twist or give spins to topics they present. In today’s world of increasing misinformation and pseudoscience, genuine substances are rare to find.

2. Short and simple science to digest easily in today's complex and busy world.

3. We cover rare and fascinating subjects and those that really help you to improve your living conditions.

4. You can sit at home, read leisurely without paying a single paise, yes, surprisingly, it is all free!

Isn't that interesting?

Q:Why do we find trucks, buses and few cars with a lemon hanging infront of the vehicle in India? Is it a Tradition or is there any Scientific reason hiding behind it? 

Krishna: There is no science behind it like people explained* to me. It just is superstition and pseudo-science. No matter how much people try to explain in a creative way and give spins to them to authenticate them, they don’t become science!

Hanging lemons in cars and other vehicles is a superstition. Science doesn’t endorse such irrational beliefs. Period!

(* The Scientific aspect of the Thristi Kayiru :

It was once used as First Aid material during ancient times in india , It consists of long black thread in which substances like ,

  • Lemon , Alum , Turmeric , Coconut , Chillies , Pepper bags , Small conch , Nerunji thorn/Blade/sharp needle , Coal pieces , Aloevera , Akasa garudan etc.
  • During pre-electricity period, people used to walk with their bare foot , often face with venomous snake and insect bites , and this first aid kit will be readily available in front of every house and shop in olden days.
  • Whenever a person got bitten by Venomous Snake or Scorpion or spider or by any other insects in hand or in leg , the long rope will be used to tie tightly above the bite to stop the venom getting spread to other parts of the body.
  • Alum stone will be used to scrub over to stop itching or irritation over the bitten spot.
  • Chilly or Pepper will be given to eat , if the person able to find its hot taste , then either it must be non venomous bite or venom not yet spread.
  • Nerunji thorn or Blade or sharp needle or knife will be used to diagnose the bitten spot and to slit the bitten area to remove the venom infected blood , sometimes a healthy person who does not have any wound or cut in mouth will suck the venomous blood out.
  • Coal will be used as water purifier , Lemon to hydrate , for PH and mineral balance and a source of Vit C. Conch will be used to feed water , juice and medicinal herbs.
  • For Spider / Scorpion bites Coconut water and coconut pieces will act as natural Anti venom, or if it is ordinary blood clot turmeric will be applied to it.
  • In case of burns or itches or other skin related issues Aloe Vera will be used. Garudan Kizhangu is another powerful and natural anti venom that will instantly break down the venom.)

Krishna: Sorry, this is no first aid kit. You should not use long ropes to tightly tie to stop venom from spreading.  Read here why: the-importance-of-snakes-in-our-eco-systems

Chillies cannot tell whether venom has spread or not or whether venom is there or not. You should not suck venomous blood with your mouth. 

Don't believe this. If you are bitten by any creature that has poison, seek genuine medical help immediately. Follow the things I mentioned here: the-importance-of-snakes-in-our-eco-systems

Don't resort to ancient methods that don't have any scientific backing. You will be in danger of losing your life if you trust them and quacks.

Q: You say science has better alternatives to other systems and therefore we should follow scientific way of life. I want to know what they are, especially with regard to belief  systems. Can you please explain?

Krishna: Definitely! Didn't science provide electricity as an alternative to candle light? Didn't it provide cars, buses, trains, air planes as an alternative to bullock carts and horse-riding to travel long distances?  Didn't it provide TVs, radios, cell phones as an alternative to pigeons carrying the messages? I can give you hundreds of such examples. 

Alternative to belief systems?  I have already written on that. Read about them by clicking on these links ...

Science and Spirituality


I just gave two examples but if you go through all my articles here and think about them, you will find several alternative and better methods to follow. 

Q: Are scientific theories absolute truths?

Krishna: If I say science is an absolute truth? I know other scientists might think I have gone nuts. But let me explain. 

Like I have always been saying, there are two aspects to science. 

First, This universe is based on scientific principles. These principles run this universe too. These are facts nobody can disagree with. Isn't that then absolute truth? Or is it only a relative truth? Atleast in our universe, that is an absolute truth. If these scientific principles are not absolute, our universe would have been collapsed by now and it wouldn't have existed in the first place.

Second, science is a process with which we study the universe around us. As human beings with limitations, what we study need not always be absolute facts. That is why science encourages  falsification and correction. Therefore, human-proposed scientific theories need  not be absolute truths like the scientific facts of this universe. 

Q: If no one has seen ghosts, how come they draw typical images of the ghosts?

Krishna: You need not see something to draw images of that thing! You can imagine and draw pictures too!

There is no evidence of ghosts, according to science. People hallucinate and imagine things under certain conditions. Read here what these conditions are …

Science and the paranormal

Now imagination can take several shapes. But why do people depict only certain shapes while drawing pictures of ghosts and aliens? Because they are influenced by others’ descriptions and pictures. They can’t think any other shapes!

Q: Why can't scientists accept laymen's opinion or proposals or theories?

Krishna: Scientists do accept laymen's or anybody's else's, including their colleagues' proposals - provided, and this is very important, they have had an encounter with what's known as "the scientific method", which is about maximising the quality of evidence by being objective, impartial and reproducible. 

Scientists and science don't accept anything that doesn't follow this scientific method. Most layman's theories are supported by personal or anecdotal evidence or based on opinions, lopsided arguments, biases, conditioning of minds and all other things that influence their thought processes. Scientific method is what controls all this irrationality and takes your thoughts toward the right direction. To establish genuine evidence based facts, this scientific method is extremely important.

Anything that doesn't follow scientific method is not science. It is pseudo-science or just irrationality.

Q: Is 'raining spider' true? If so how it is happening?

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