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

Scientific knowledge really helps people in life. It is true. But science asks for proof. Even if you try to support it! And here are a few stories to prove how science and education in science really helps human beings:

Story No. 1

When Religion Collides with Medical Care: Who Decides What Is Right for You?

This is the dilemma one doctor had. And this is my reply to her

Doctors and science can find several ways out. I have an interesting real story to tell. Some years back when a child was brought to India from a West Asian country for an operation, her parents' religious beliefs didn't allow the doctors to transfuse "others" blood into her body. Her condition was very weak. So the doctors here found a way out - by boosting her own blood levels for several months by carefully giving all the vital nutrients required and monitoring, collecting and storing her own blood and then giving it back to her at the time of operation. In the end the child was saved.
Saving the lives and helping the needy are the main priorities. Science can find ways to do this - religion or no religion!

Story No. 2

Here is an interesting story - Physicist fights off traffic fine with science!
A US physicist came up with a rather calculative method to prove his innocence and get himself out of a traffic challan.
Mr. Dimitri Krioukov, a physicist at the University of California, San Diego, was pulled over for running a stop sign. The finewould have been $400. However, Krioukov wrote an academic paper to argue why he ought to be found not guilty. Its title: "The proof of Innocence". The judge bought it, said Mr. Krioukov. He was acquitted, the ABC News reported. According to the Huffington Post news website, in making his case, Mr. Krioukov writes that a police officer can perceive a car as not having stopped, even though it really did stop. He argues that the officer, watching at an angle about 100 feet away, confused the car's actual speed with its angular speed. Krioukov claims that he did stop the car and restart quickly, and that the officer missed it. (ANI)

Krioukov's argument is based upon the premise that three coincidences happened at the same time to make the police officer believe that he had seen the physicist run a red light, when, in fact, he hadn't. He writes: "[In this paper], we show that if a car stops at a stop sign, an observer, e.g., a police officer, located at a certain distance perpendicular to the car trajectory, must have an illusion that the car does not stop, if the following three conditions are satisfied: (1) The observer measures not the linear but angular speed of the car; (2) The car decelerates and subsequently accelerates relatively fast; and (3) There is a short-time obstruction of the observer's view of the car by an external object, e.g., another car, at the moment when both cars are near the stop sign."

As Physics Central explains, because the police officer was around 30m from the intersection where the stop sign was situated, "a car approaching the intersection with constant linear velocity will rapidly increase in angular velocity from the police officer's perspective."

The physicist even created graphs showing what would have happened to his angular velocity if he had either been driving at a constant linear velocity or had made a quick stop and then accelerated back to speed, which is what he claims happens (actually, he sneezed, causing him to brake harder than usual). It was during this sneeze stop that another vehicle obscured the police officer's view of Krioukov's car, argues the paper.

The conclusion of the paper? It isn't the police officer's fault but he/she was wrong as their "perception of reality did not properly reflect reality." Bet that's a statement the other officers loved to remind them of.

Read more details here:

Well done, Mr. Krioukov! This is what science can do. Provide proof if you believe  you are really innocent!

Story No. 3:

Another real story to prove how science could be helpful: An young boy, whose father was a sweeper in railways went to railway station one day along with his father. While his father was sweeping a railway bogie, the boy started wandering and got lost. The bogie he was playing in was attached to a Kolkatta bound train and the boy reached Kolkatta. As he was very young and didn't know how to get back home, he started wandering in the Kolkatta streets. Somebody got him admitted in an orphanage. One Australian couple adopted him and took him to Australia. There he got educated, grew up and joined a good job. But he remembered his biological mother and wanted to meet her. So he used Google maps and tried to locate his home town. Finally one day he succeeded. He came back to India and went to his home town again with the help of Google maps and found his parents and family members. His illiterate parents were speechless when their long lost son came back home again . This is what education in science does to you. It will show you the way when you are lost and desperate.

Story No. 4

Test finds fiancé is father of divorced pregnant woman

The paternity test results are out for this 40-year-old, divorced pregnant woman. The test results were released three days ago, and proved that the father of her unborn child is her fiance with whom she was living after divorce.

The woman had been married for 10 years to a person working in multinational company. The couple parted ways over the woman's perceived inability to conceive (yes, this happens in several countries where women would be blamed for everything!).

After her divorce, she continued having a relationship with her ex-husband. In the meantime, she also became involved with another man. When she conceived 20 weeks ago, she was in a fix over the paternity of her unborn child. So she underwent a DNA paternity test at Milann Fertility Centre.

In an email to TOI, the woman said, "Knowing the reality makes life easier. My parents also gain the same relief as I do. They are amazed at how technology can help in such emotionally challenging situations. In the past, when women landed in such circumstances for whatever reason, nothing could be done until the child was born. And the anxiety would take away all the joy motherhood should bring. Even today, there are hundreds of women who keep dark secrets buried because they don't know how else to come out of such situations. There are not just women who have made a mistake, but rape victims, abandoned women, exploited women.

Pinpointing the dad

The DNA paternity test that the pregnant woman underwent is called amniocentesis. 5ml of amniotic fluid which contains the baby's cells was collected from the mother. The collected sample was tested along with the blood samples of the mother and the two men.
Story No. 5

Read the story here:

Paralyzed Woman Walks Again, with the Aid of a Robot

Story No. 6

This is about a girl called Tilly Smith who fortunately for a whole lot of people (whose lives she saved by alerting them of the infamous tsunami which wreaked havoc in 2004), thought that reading and retaining stuff was useful...

Smith learned about tsunamis in a geography lesson two weeks before the tsunami from her teacher Andrew Kearney at Danes Hill School in Oxshott,Surrey. She recognised the warning signs of receding water from the shoreline and frothing bubbles on the surface of the sea and alerted her parents, who warned others on the beach and the staff at the hotel on Phuket where they were staying. The beach was evacuated before the tsunami reached shore, and was one of the few beaches on the island with no reported casualties.

Story No.7

Epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee and her husband, Thomas Patterson, went to Egypt in 2015 expecting to come home with some photos and souvenirs. Instead, Patterson was hit with his own version of the 10 plagues. 

At first, doctors in Egypt thought Patterson had pancreatitis. But his health worsened after treatment, and he started hallucinating. Once flown to Germany, he was diagnosed with a multidrug-resistant bacterial infection in his pancreas. He was then airlifted to a hospital at Strathdee’s home institution, the University of California, San Diego. There, Patterson suffered several episodes of septic shock and spent months in a coma.

The Perfect Predator (book written later by the epidemiologist) chronicles the couple’s encounter with a bacterium that was resistant to every available antibiotic, and the rush to find an alternative treatment to save Patterson’s life. 

During the ordeal, Strathdee used her scientific training to research solutions and stumbled upon phage therapy. The idea is that even the most resistant bacteria can be defeated by their natural predators, viruses called bacteriophages. The nearly century-old treatment had been all but forgotten in the United States, in large part because of the invention of antibiotics, but was being used in parts of the former Soviet Union.

Doctors needed the right phage, one capable of parasitizing the bacteria infecting Patterson. So Strathdee asked a team of scientists to drop everything and check their phage collections while also hunting for environmental samples for a virus that could be turned into an experimental treatment. Within three weeks, two sets of researchers found phages that were a match. Patterson was treated successfully, and the first phage therapy center in the United States opened last year at UC San Diego.

Story source:

Story No. 8

How Surgeons Reattached a Toddler's Head

Doctors saved a child who had been “internally decapitated” in a car accident. The inside story
Story No. 9

A colleague of mine built a device that enabled him to beat the roulette table. Impossible you may think, but no; it was based on physics.

It worked as follows: to encourage people to bet at roulette, it has been traditional to allow bets to be made after the wheel is spun and the ball is flung, but only before it begins to drop. In that second or two, there is enough information to allow a measurement and computation that will, for example, double your odds of winning. If the computation simply rules out half of the wheel as unlikely, then the odds jump up highly in your favor. Whereas before, your odds of winning might be 98:100 (so you lose), if you exclude half of the numbers, your odds become 196:100; you win big!

You don't have to predict the number where it will fall. You only have to increase your odds by 3% to go from losing on average to winning on average.

He built a device with a switch for his toe in which he tapped each time the ball spun around; with a separate switch he tapped each time the wheel turned. This provided enough information for his small pocket computer to signal him back (with a tap to his leg) where he should place his bet. (He had to calibrate each wheel, but he did that by watching and testing before he started betting.)

The casinos don't have the right to search you, so how can they guard against devices such as that? To do that, they have lobbied to make a law that they can exclude any person without cause. They choose to do that only when they see someone consistently beating the odds.  They can't get their money back, but they can stop losing.

Indeed, my friend (who was then a graduate student at Berkeley) was put on the list. His name and photo were shared by all the casinos in Nevada (and maybe world-wide), and his gambling for profit career was at an end.  He says he almost made enough money to pay for the roulette wheel he had purchased to perfect his instrument at home before going out "into the field."

(Told by a physics Professor on Quora: )

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