SCI-ART LAB

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

Q: Is it true that plastic water bottles can cause fire in a car?

Krishna: Yes,  on a hot, summer day, the plastic can act as a lense, focusing light into a high-energy beam that's intense enough to burn material like car-seat upholstery.

Light consists of numerous photons, which are subatomic particles that travel in a straight line. Eye glass and microscope lenses direct the photons so they converge on a point. You can use that to see something better, get it in focus. Or, you can focus a lot of light onto a very small point and concentrate all that energy, and that can cause melting and burning.
Even after the sunlight passes through the car window, it hits the seat with about 600 watts per square meter of energy — about the same amount of energy from a small electric space heater — but focused on a tiny point that's smaller than a millimeter. A couple of seconds of that focused sunlight can easily heat up vinyl seat material to its decomposition temperature, thereby causing burning.
For burning to occur, the liquid in the bottle must be clear, so enough light can pass through it. Clear, sparkling water can cause fire but juices in a bottle are not clear enough to do that. For a water bottle to cause a fire, everything must line up perfectly: a smooth, spherical, transparent bottle full of a clear liquid that's placed at just the right point from both the light source and the flammable focal point. This can be  rare occurrence but plausible.
However, if the car seats are made of fire retardant or self-extinguishing material like several companies do now, it is highly unlikely that a car seat catches fire because of a water bottle kept on it. 

Q: Why do we think some faces are  ugly and some beautiful? What is the science behind it?

Krishna: Scientists think it is because of  symmetry. Faces that we deem attractive tend to be symmetrical. Attractive faces also are average.

In a symmetrical face, the left and right sides look like each other. They’re not perfect mirror images. But our eyes read faces with similar proportions on both sides as symmetrical.

People’s faces usually only differ subtly in symmetry. Everyone's face is slightly asymmetrical, but in different ways. In the end, many of these faces seem symmetrical. So symmetry looks normal to us. And we then like it. 

This averageness refers to how similar a face looks to most other faces in a population. Average, here, does not mean “so-so.” Rather, average faces are a mathematical average (or mean) of most people’s features. And, in general, people find such faces quite attractive.

Averageness includes all kinds of factors. Such as the size of the features of your face and their arrangement. For example, the distance between the centers of a woman’s eyes affects whether she is considered beautiful. People find her most attractive when that distance is just under half of the width of the face. Average faces are more attractive because they seem more familiar.

Research shows that people with more symmetrical faces don’t just look nice. They also tend to be healthier than asymmetrical people. Genes provide the instructions for how a cell is to perform. All people have the same number of genes. But people with more average faces tend to have a greater diversity in the genes they are born with. And that, research has shown, can lead to a stronger immune system and better health.

Several other factors too make men think why a woman is beautiful. The hormones a woman produces during reproductive age,  the glow of her skin. Estrogen and testosterone play important roles in finding something attractive. They denote fertility, youth, muscle build-up  and maturity.

Then cultural differences and conditioning of minds too make some faces look attractive to some people and other ugly.

Attractive, healthy faces turn on reward and pleasure centers of our brains so that we can actually experience beauty and fall in love with it. Our brains connect beauty with goodness too.

Research on birds also shows that female birds prefer good-looking guys. For example, among satin bowerbirds, females prefer males whose feathers reflect more ultraviolet (UV) light. Researchers at Auburn University in Alabama caught male bowerbirds and took blood samples. Males with blood parasites had feathers reflecting less UV light than healthy males. So when females chose males with UV-rich plumage, they weren’t just being shallow. They were using that information to find healthy males to father their young.

Healthier peacocks have more eyespots in their tails. These birds also splay their flashy tails more frequently to the females. Females get attracted to healthy things and avoid sick males as they cannot father their healthy offspring! It is important for the very survival of the group!

Simple, pretty faces simply are easier on our brains than complicated and ugly ones and that is why we get attracted to and choose them

Q: Why do clouds glow during night sometimes?

Krishna: Because of meteors, and climate change to some extent. Meteors leave a trail of dust that create the noctilucent (Nok-tih-LU-sint) cloud. The cloud’s name comes from Latin words for “night-lit.”

Smoke from the burning space rock “seed” Earth’s upper atmosphere with dust. Water vapour can condense around those dust bits to form clouds. Meteors burn up high in the atmosphere. So these noctilucent clouds also form high up.

Given the curvature of the Earth, objects high in the sky can still catch some sunlight well after the sun sets closer to the ground. Noctilucent clouds’ extreme height is what keeps them shining in the dark. And they appear blue because all of the other wavelengths of light have scattered.

Noctilucent clouds typically emerge at high latitudes, meaning near or over the poles. 

Although space rocks commonly enter Earth’s atmosphere, they seldom spawn clouds. The reason: Those rocks tend to break apart too high. The mesosphere, where the breakups typically happen, is some 81 kilometers (50 miles) above the ground. It hosts very little water.

But that could change. More water is entering the upper atmosphere as Earth’s climate warms. 

For a noctilucent cloud to form, the mesosphere must be super cold — below –40° Celsius (–40° Fahrenheit). These temps develop above Earth’s poles in the summer. Near the Arctic, that means peak noctilucent season is June through August. Peak season near Antarctica is December through February. 

At those low temperatures, the air is dry. And at such high altitudes, the air is also relatively dust-free. Without some dust particle to glom onto, any moisture here tends not to freeze; it is “supercooled.” 

But that can change with the arrival of meteor smoke. With something to freeze onto, the supercooled droplets rapidly turn to ice. Once one ice crystal forms, more join it in what becomes a chain reaction. If the process is large enough, a noctilucent cloud develops.

About 3 percent of each ice crystal in a noctilucent cloud comes from meteors. 

Today, noctilucent clouds seldom develop outside the Arctic and Antarctic. But that might not be true for long. Indeed, these clouds have already begun to creep down into the regions between the poles and the tropics. One reason seems to be the increasing presence of methane at high altitudes.

High up in the mesosphere, methane takes part in a complex chemical reaction that forms new molecules of water. Water vapor can increase if methane increases. According to experts in climate science, noctilucent clouds outside of polar skies as a potential symptom of climate change. 

Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, can be released into the sky by thawing permafrost, burping cows, biomass burning and more. Increasing methane levels may boost the amount of water in the mesosphere. In turn, that could improve chances for noctilucent clouds.

Rising levels of another greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, may also play a role. As CO2boosts air temperatures near the ground, it can cause temps in the mesosphere to drop. That cooling effect could help supercool more water — a key ingredient for noctilucent clouds.

In step with rising greenhouse gases, the breadth and frequency of glowing clouds have increased over the last few decades, climate research hints. These clouds also ventured toward Earth’s equator, beyond their normal territory. And increased methane played a key role in the clouds’ spread, according to  reports published  in 2001 in Advances in Space Research (1)

Glowing clouds are not only spreading farther across the sky. Since 1998, they have also been appearing more often and getting brighter (2). A team of German researchers reported those findings in a 2015 study.

Q: How will you explain the universal human behaviour of seeking or expecting dramatic mysteries (either supernatural or scientific) behind all unknown facts? While several unknown of past are trivial today. Why this craving for mystery? 

Which one would you be interested in? Undoubtedly, majority of the people would be interested in a hand with a closed fist. Because the open one is empty and doesn’t have anything that can harm you. You know that well and lose interest in it. But the closed one can contain something - something that can harm you or help you and you would be more interested in it - to learn more about it. Evolution-wise this knowledge can help you in your survival.

It isn't the uncertainty per se that made the hand attractive, but the thoughts it induced. Likewise people who create uncertainty about how much they like someone can increase that person's interest in them!

Human psychology thinks that the most potent forces is the allure of the unknown.

Unknown things create thrill, uncertainty, fear, and a powerful quest to solve the mystery. Known things don’t create that many chemicals that induce pleasure.

Our brains release dopamine, a chemical associated with pleasure, when we are afraid or think about strange mysteries. Exactly how much dopamine and how many receptors we have for receiving it can influence whether you are a person that enjoys being frightened or someone who would rather avoid scary movies, mysteries or rides altogether.

So for some, letting our imaginations run wild with the possibilities of cohabitating with ghosts, although scary, may also produce a bonus euphoric high. Of course, believing in ghosts also allows us to believe in an existence after death, which ultimately can be comforting. These people willfully want to imagine and believe in ghosts , mysteries and strange stories that have no evidence and try to get comfort from doing so!

Our bodies are made of chemicals. How they interact with one another, makes us what we are. Strangely, when these chemicals dictate that mystery is pleasure-inducing, we fall for it!

But I know how to hoodwink these chemicals in my body. They should listen to me, not the other way round. Mind over matter? Aha! That is why I love science so much. It made me conquer mysteries, my mind and everything I once feared! :)

Q: Can ghosts write?

Krishna: :) If you can imagine something, you can as well imagine several things about it. There is no evidence of ghosts, according to science. Now if you imagine ghosts, also imagine they can write! And imagine they can write poetry, stories, can create art, sing songs, play games, win medals and run for President. Who can stop your wild imagination?

Science and the paranormal

Q: How do paranormal investigators remove the negative entity from a haunted house?

Q: How do you explain the people possessed with spirits/ghosts?

Science and the paranormal

Q: What evidence does science need to prove that ghosts exist?

Krishna: Personal experiences don’t count in science. No matter what people say, science tried but couldn’t find any genuine evidence. Instead it found these explanations : Science and the paranormal

If anybody can give evidence strictly scientific, and can accept challenge from the scientific community, that is the real evidence. Others are just silly stories.

Q: Are ghosts real? Is there any evidence for that?

Krishna: Ghosts are not real. There is no scientific evidence. On the contrary you have real world evidence to connect them to various hallucinating agents. Read here what they are: Science and the paranormal
Q: Can I take allopathic, homeopathic and Ayurvedic treatment at the same time?

Homeopathy doesn’t work. There is no use taking homeopathic medicines.

Read these articles that give more insights into these aspects: What might happen when you take lots of medicines...

This is what a liver transplant surgeon told me recently...

Q:What is the science behind possession? How do people get possessed by demons or some evil spirits? Is possession fake or real? 

Krishna: If you say you are possessed, that means you have some mental issues and should consult a qualified medical doctor immediately. That is science.

There is no evidence of demons or evil spirits. That is what science says.

Possession by demons and spirits is fake but mental issues are real.

People who still live in ancient times don’t know the truth behind these weird behaviours of some people and think it is because of evil spirits.

Most of these things had been studied and explained by science, and can be treated using the knowledge.

Science and the paranormal

Q: Is it considered bad luck to travel on a new moon day?

All days are good, if your efforts, preparations and work are good.

Q: Who can be considered the brightest mind of science?

Don’t try to bring in the parameters of other fields to science. Science is a different ball game.

If anybody picks one scientist over the other, he or she doesn’t really know how science works. Period.

Q: What are some myths and superstitions floating around which proved to be useful?

Only knowledge and reality can provide permanent solutions.

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

Q: What does a common man know about science?

It is a common misconception that people living in urban areas and those who are literate have good knowledge in things scientific. It is nothing but an illusion.

Yes, these people are good at using technology. But they learn it by just observing others! They don't have background knowledge on how to use the things they are using properly. With the result that they either misuse or underuse it. Anyway using technology more than others doesn't mean they are science literates. And we have observed that most of the people in urban areas and literates with a degree are too highly scientifically illiterate!

Moreover, it was observed by volunteers of various science communication bodies working at ground level (like JVV, India) that people living in urban areas are highly superstitious too and follow several irrational things.

Just because somebody knows a few scientific terms doesn't mean the person is 'literate scientifically'. Majority of scientists think science literacy has an interesting meaning.

There are various criteria experts use to know how much people know about science and to what extent they are science literates. Read here what they are:

Literate people living in urban areas are too scientifically illite...

Q: I need a good research guide because I find difficulty in my research. Can you suggest one for me?

Krishna: You didn't tell me anything about your subject or present guide. 
At this stage, you yourself should be able to solve your problems. Don’t expect spoon feeding.

My guide simply refused to give any help to me. So I did everything on my own. I was just 22 when i started my Ph.D. But I didn’t panic. I just figured out how to overcome my problems.

If you can’t think for yourself, understand problems yourself, find your way out yourself, you are not good enough to enter the research field.

Guides usually like students who can do work independently and don’t depend on them for everything.

Common you are not a baby in the woods. These days even baby’s are good at overcoming problems.

A brave baby’s night out on Ker­ala for­est road

You are better equipped than a baby to overcome your problems. Aren’t you?

Q: Why does a person fear paranormal activities in his/her house?

Krishna: Fear arises if you don’t understand things around properly and when your imagination goes wild because of this.

Science (okay, it ‘s Marie Curie) says there is nothing to fear, only understood. If you don’t go the scientific way you fear everything you face, see, hear.

Science and the paranormal

Q: Do ghosts have ghost enemies? Can they touch each other? If no, how do they fight?
Krishna: What a wild imagination?! :)Ghosts don’t exist in reality, i.e., there is no evidence of ghosts according to science.Then when you can imagine something you can imagine several things about it as well. Your imagination about ghost enemies and their fighting is one of them.You don’t get fact based answers to these questions. Only imaginative, perception based strange stories.
Q: What does science say about the signs of an auspicious person?
Krishna: 

There are no auspicious persons or inauspicious ones. It just is your perception and strange interpretation.

Please don’t try to degrade people based on your misinterpretations.

Each and every person is unique based on several things like his psychology’s growth factors. Just because a person is brought up in all the right circumstances and has a - what people call - good personality, it doesn’t mean he is absolutely good and auspicious.

Just because a person’s circumstances or genetic make up makes him what people call - a person with bad vibes - doesn’t mean he is absolutely bad.

We are made of chemicals and how they interact among themselves in our bodies makes us what we are. When we try to understand this, we realize there isn’t anything auspicious or the opposite of it actually.

Come out of this illusion.

Q:The art called 'Water dowsing' in which the experts detect the underground water source using pieces of Y or V-shaped wood or metal, what could be the scientific reason behind this? 

Krishna:

Water dowsing is pseudo-science. It is not real science.

There is a trick to make things like coconut stand up and fool people. Read here why water dowsing is pseudo-science and why coconuts stand up:

Is water dowsing real science?

In the video, the man himself is using his hands to do what he 's saying 's happening  to fool people.

References:

1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0273117701800211...

2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307874917_Long-term_variat...

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