Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Interactive Science Series
Q: I invented something but I can't make it due to lack of resources but I want to publish my idea in scientific papers so what can I do now?
MR: Congrats. Write a paper describing what you did and its importance and send the paper to a relevant journal. If the idea is original, has merit, it will definitely be accepted.
Q: Why are most of the great scientists men?
MR: Because we live in patriarchal societies and women will never get their true recognition as long as we don’t change.
Here are the lists of some of great women scientists: 90+ Famous Female Scientists: Which Ones Can You Name?
10 Indian women scientists you should be proud of
10 women whose passion for science is out of this world
Mention the names as much as possible and as frequently as possible and make them famous too.
Q: Can scientists create DNA in Labs?
MR: Yes! Of course! Artificial genetic material can be reliably created that not only interacts like its natural counterpart, but can even be ‘read’ by cells. Chemicals are chemicals whether they are used by Nature or human beings to create synthetic organic molecules of life’s matter.
At the very root of DNA’s structure are four letters, referring to nucleobases (or usually just called ‘bases’): A, C, G, and T. These are shorthand for adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. These four molecules are the ‘nitrogenous bases’ of nucleotides. These bases form pairs and lead to configurations that cause the classic DNA helical structure to develop.
Decades after the discovery of DNA and its implication in human genetics, in 2006, scientists developed artificial DNA bases, which have a novel bonding pattern. The artificial bases (called Z and P) bond similarly to how GC and AT (natural DNA bases) bond. In fact, using a method known as X-ray crystallography, researchers have observed that these artificial bases can be incorporated into natural strands of DNA and even show similar function to fully natural DNA bases when interacting with proteins inside of cells.
In 2014, researchers researchers announced the creation of a living cell that had two ‘foreign’ DNA building blocks in its genome. The team inserted the two into a bacterial cell, a strain of E. coli. When the cell reproduced, unwinding its double helix and reconstituting it in new cells, X and Y replicated as well, their chemical bond just as stable as the A-T and C-G pairings in DNA’s normal sequence. The leader of the Scripps research team, Floyd Romesberg, calls the organism “semi-synthetic.”
Q: How do you know if a research problem is 'interesting' in the scientific sense of the term?
MR: Well when a scientist in one field thinks his work is interesting, his colleagues in other fields might not endorse it. Then how can you say something is universally interesting in science?
When a scientist thinks and says, “this is interesting”, I think he is saying his work is significant in terms of solving a problem and adding some more knowledge to the field.
Q: Are scientific paper pay walls justifiable?
MR: Personally, I don't like selling knowledge in any form and think it should be made available to people interested in it and students who can't pay without any charges. I support "Open Access".
The reason for pay wall papers is that publishers want to make a lot of money, and scientists don't care enough or aren't united enough to oppose it. Some scientists even pay to journals to get published!
People will write long posts to defend the current system of charging either the authors or the readers but I don't agree with most of them. Access to papers could be made a lot cheaper if there was enough will on the part of scientists and supporting institutions. If you think about it, a great majority of the real work is done for free (at least to the publishers) : actual research and peer review.
For 350 years, scholars have written peer-reviewed journal articles for impact, not for money, and are free to consent to open access without losing revenue. If 'open access means losing money', many refuse to open their doors. Sometimes open access means, authors have to pay. Institutions can pay on their behalf.
Many practices don't have a sensible rationale per se, they just developed to how they are and refused to get reformed.
Q: Can we include science in 'culture'?
MR: Yes, absolutely!
The definition of Culture: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
Science is a part of human intellectual achievement, it has also become a necessary segment of our daily lives dictating everything we do.
Science is the King of art subjects. It is the art of inventions, discoveries, innovations and gaining more knowledge.
In modern terms 'culture' means science as well as art.
Q: Aren't scientists wasting time on some unnecessary theories that are about to be disproved?
MR: Science is the field where scientists venture into the unknown and the dark all the time. It is difficult to carve a good and the right path when you don't even know how it can be done properly or sometimes ignorant about where exactly it leads to. Naturally you try to imagine things based on your previous knowledge and try to test them for authenticity. Some get proved, some don't.
That's how science works. It's the very stuff of scientific progress.
Q: Why doesn't our Government do more to tackle pseudo-science and baseless beliefs effectively?
MR: We do have a science communication wing. People are working at the ground level.
But the messages are not reaching far enough and impactful enough. Maybe we lack funds, man power (people who can deal with science - not everybody can communicate it properly). Scientists don't take decisions (they only recommend). Politicians do. Majority of the latter class don't understand the importance of scientific way of doing things.
There are several issues that have to be addressed first to make science penetrate into the human minds deeply. Who will do this? The answer is blowing in the wind. Let us hope the future will be different.
Meanwhile there are some people who are passionate about the change and are going about their work relentlessly.
We had a discussion on this topic where several of my scientist friends participated. The discussion concluded that...
Baseless beliefs and pseudo-science are associated mostly with religion, culture and traditions. Our constitution gives citizens of this country a right to practice their religions. We cannot interfere with it even when some practices seem not sound. That is what some radical religious leaders say to oppose changes.
Now who has the will to bring in changes, fight for science and make constitutional amendments when power is at stake? Who will bell the cat?
We science communicators can only propose things and educate people. It is the latter who has to decide what to do with regard to science, pseudo-science and baseless beliefs.
Q: Why are ice cubes white in the middle?
MR: The white colour you observe in the middle of the ice cubes is actually due to very very tiny air bubbles. Virtually all natural water you deal with is oxygenated to some extent.
And when the water flows from your tap, it tends to be oxygenated also.
As the water freezes, it forms a regular crystalline structure (ice). That means impurities like oxygen and other dissolved gasses are pushed away from the crystallization front into the remaining liquid. This means that the last parts of the ice cube to crystallize end up with most of the impurities. If you’ll take a look at your photo of the ice cubes, you’ll note that the parts of the ice cube that were at the bottom of the tray are the milky colored bits. That’s because those were the last parts to freeze. The ice cubes in your tray froze from the top downward, which pushed the contaminant air downward until it was trapped at the bottom and had nowhere else to go.
You can, however, get bubble-free ice by first de-oxygenating it. Oxygen solubility in water decreases with increasing temperature. If you boil the water first, you remove the oxygen from it. Next, cool it and then pour it into your ice cube trays to freeze. It should be much more clear.
Q: Can we build homes under sea water and live in them?
MR: Living underwater is dangerous and expensive. Engineering, building, and maintaining livable structures that can withstand sea-floor pressures and won’t leak is way more expensive than with the regular sort. Underwater habitats require completely reliable life support, whether they draw air from the surface or some other source. A power cut can allow the air to stratify, forming pockets of lethal CO2. Leaks and corrosion will be a constant problem, and constant salt and humidity will play havoc on health and equipment. Most ocean going structures have relatively short lives for this reason.
Permanent habitation in water deeper than about 100 ft (30 m) is a bad idea owing to the biological effects of pressure, including but not limited to nitrogen narcosis and potential long term nerve damage, to say nothing of the entirely unexplored impact of such an environment on pregnancy and young children.
Very little light makes it even this far, so sea-floor communities will be dependent on the surface for food.
Q: Why is psychology science not reliable most of the time?
MR: "Reproducibility crisis" occurs in fields that are dependent on population sampling and rely on tests of statistical significance. Most of the features that psychology takes into account are unreliable - like feelings, emotions etc. Cognitive neuroscience and psychology directly impact popular culture, influencing how people interact and think of themselves. If scientists working in the field tell people outside something works for them, they usually listen eventhough there is no solid evidence to prove that it really does.
While there are certainly some flaws with how statistical analyses are performed in most disciplines that need them (the dreaded "p-hacking" is a very real phenomenon), the real culprit is the publication process itself and how it contributes to how researchers are evaluated. The traditional method for evaluating how any given researcher is doing is to count the number of publications they have and make note of how much those publications have been cited by other papers. As it takes a while for citations to accumulate, the prestige of the journal is often used as a predictor for the number of citations that a paper published in it is likely to receive in the future -- so-called "impact factors" are an ugly crutch in academia. Generally, surprising results are selected for by prestigious journals, rather than accurate results (ideally, a journal would pick both if it could, but it will always pick sensational if it can only have one.) Thus, there's a significant amount of pressure placed on researchers to generate sufficiently interesting results to keep their standing, and one of the ways this manifests is by overselling provocative, but statistically weak studies.
Due to differences in time, place, sample, cultures, and other variables in psychology studies, no replication is truly exact.
This is a particularly bad problem in psychology, because sample sizes are usually tiny and composed of diverse individuals. It's obviously difficult to conduct experiments on thousands of people if each subject requires an intervention from and interview with a member of a small clinical team -- so psychology usually has to make do with sample sizes of less than a hundred or so. This generates a lot of grey area results that can be p-hacked into significance or have happened due to random chance or poor experimental design -- and thus, are difficult to replicate. If the pressures placed on researchers to generate interesting results are lessened or removed, many of these problems wouldn't be nearly as bad -- but, then, academia would have to learn how to give credit for solid, not so sensational work, which is going to be a massive challenge.
Q: Are the Nobel prizes in science justifiable?
MR: Some win and some lose but I don't think majority of scientists bother about them not getting the prizes. One thing is striking during the process. For one whole week the world concentrates on scientific achievements and people's imagination about the subject increases several times when the prizes are announced. I think this is good for science.
Nobel prizes promote science.
Q: Do scientists who win Nobel prizes celebrate?
MR: Most of the scientists do not show any interest in Nobel Prize. I don't mean they actually looked down upon it with disinterest. They simply will be terrified of the rock-star status and the public celebrity aura.
When great physicist Paul Dirac won the prize, a reporter called him to ask him how he felt. Dirac asked the reporter whether there was a way he could actually decline the prize and avoid publicity.
Richard Feynman was woken up early in the morning by a reporter who told him about the prize. Feynman expressed irritation and asked reporter why he could not have waited a little longer to tell him than instead of interrupting his sleep.
Most of the scientists do not celebrate. They just continue with their normal schedule of research and teaching. It is not a big achievement for them. They already achieved much through their outstanding work.
Q: How many times do you need to read a research article before fully understanding it?
MR: For papers in my field of research, just once is enough. In other areas of research it takes 2-3 readings to understand them fully.
Q: Why can't we have different view points in science?
MR: Okay, go ahead and think that Earth is flat despite scientists proving that it is not! Sounds silly doesn't it?
In science it is the facts established by following strict scientific methodology that rule the arena. You cannot have two or three or many view points on established facts. Science discovers objective, absolute truths. How can you have another view point on them?
In some fields where the facts have not been established yet like Astrophysics scientists can propose different theories based on their informed imaginations and mathematically derived equations which have to be tested when they can. Until then they just remain theories and they are different from ordinary view points or wild imaginations.
Q: Why do some people fear science?
MR: Some fear it because they feel it is a difficult subject to understand. While others dread because of its enormous power, which could become a totalitarian force that crushes all its rivals. Some are afraid because they will lose their jobs of exploiting the innocent if people realize the truth brought forth by science.
Q: If I am offered a scientist job, should I accept it?
MR: Unless you are a trained scientist and you have all the qualities of becoming a scientist, nobody offers you a scientist job just like that.
Q: Are there any disadvantages of becoming a scientist?
MR: I don’t see any if you are really a committed one.
I think a scientific brain belongs to the whole world so the family it has originated from have to make a few sacrifices.
Q: Why do some scientists support 'creationism'?
MR: Yes, I agree, there are some scientists who practice religion do believe in creationism. This fact is not the same thing as scientific support for creationism. Science requires a testable hypothesis, not an opinion from an individual who has a background in science.
There are no scientific facts that support creationism. Science is an empirical methodology of testing hypotheses. Creationism is not a testable hypothesis, so science has nothing to say for or against creationism.
Those who lack qualities of good scientific reasoning, who are weak mentally to overcome various fears and weaknesses, who didn't get proper scientific training try to take external emotional support and follow irrational methods.
Q: Paranormal things do happen. How can science say they don't when we have proof in the form of eyewitnesses? If paranormal forces really do not exist, how are we to explain the widespread belief in them and the sizeable minority of the population who claim to have had direct personal experience of paranormal phenomena?
MR: There are certain events and experiences which may appear to involve paranormal phenomena but which can in fact be fully explained in non-paranormal, usually psychological, terms. This is the approach adopted by anomalistic psychologists. In general, anomalistic psychologists attempt to explain such phenomena in terms of known psychological effects such as hallucinations, false memories, the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, placebo effects, suggestibility, reasoning biases and so on. It is noteworthy that anomalistic psychologists have, in just a few decades, produced many examples of replicable effects that adequately explain a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.
Everything that occurs operates within ‘Natural Law’. Nobody can go beyond it.
People who lack critical thinking abilities fall prey to these phenomena and believe in them. They interpret easily explainable things by science in the way they want and escape into a false world.
Q: Will we continue to have groundbreaking discoveries/inventions in science now that we are so advanced?
MR: Yes, we will continue to have more and more inventions and discoveries. Because Science is still in its infancy when compared to human civilization. There is still lot of work to do, lot to understand, mysteries to unravel, challenges to deal with.
I don’t think we have even touched 10% of what needs to be done.
Q: Is it possible to have several sets of chromosomes in animals?
MR: Polyploidy! Triploid and tetraploid chromosomes are examples of polyploidy. Polyploid cells and organisms are those containing more than two paired (homologous) sets of chromosomes. Most species whose cells have nuclei (Eukaryotes) are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes—one set inherited from each parent.
An international team of scientists has recently found that the genome of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) is comprised of two different sets of chromosomes from two extinct ancestors (1). Millions of years ago, one species of frog diverged into two species; but millions of years later, the two frogs became one again, only with a few extra chromosomes due to whole genome duplication. Such is the curious case of X. laevis, a frog whose genome contains nearly double the number of chromosomes as the related Western clawed frog, X. tropicalis. Because X. laevis is a well-studied model system for cell and developmental biology, it is ideal for studying the effect of polyploidy on evolution.
Polyploidy is common in fish, amphibians and plants.
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