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

                                                                  Interactive science series

Q: Is silver foil used on sweets safe to eat?

Q: In some Indian sweets, there is a shiny covering on them. What is it made of and why do they have it on sweets?

Krishna: Chandi varkh on sweets?!It Should be a silver foil actually!

The Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act of India permits the use of food grade silver leaf, and requires that this shall not contain less than 99.9 per cent of silver. 

Silver is not toxic and normal day-to-day contact with solid silver coins, spoons or bowels, does not affect human health. This is because solid silver is almost completely biologically inert, and even if ingested, would pass through the human body without being absorbed into tissue.

However, the method used in making silver leaf used on sweets is very cruel. To make varkh, silver is kept in between animal intestine & is pounded to give thin foils.

Recent reports say, people are using aluminium foils on sweets now. When people consume such sweets or chocolates, there are chances of severe stomach infections which could lead to food poisoning. 

The reason why this practice is rampant is because a sheet of aluminium is much cheaper than that of silver. In February last year, the food safety authorities launched a crackdown on such foods and seized as much as 66 kilograms of sweets from across shops in the city of Hyderabad. During testing, it was confirmed that people were using aluminium foil. 

How can you find out whether what you are eating is really silver?

Easiest way to figure out the difference between the two is to touch the layer.You only need to wipe the top layer of the sweet. If the 'silver' residue sticks to your hand, it is definitely aluminium.

Q: Which ones have more knowledge - medical  doctors or scientists? Who should we trust if we have doubts  and the two give two different versions of the same story?

Krishna: As a critical thinker, my advice would be ... "Trust the one who gives you facts and evidence!"

Recently an interesting thing happened here. I met a well experienced super-speciality surgeon and we discussed a medical condition. After listening to me, the doctor was surprised and said, "Krishna, this is completely new to me. Never heard about it. Thanks for bringing this to my notice!"

Well, until a scientist does extensive research on any subject and brings it to the notice of the medical doctors, even the latter don't know what medicines work and how they work for their patients! Or how a condition develops and proliferates in a patient!

Of course, medical doctors study the content of the research work that throw light on a condition and also have first hand experience while dealing with patients. 

If the medical doctor is into clinical research too or tries to 'increase his or her knowledge' by reading extensively what scientists publish, s/he too can be as good as any scientist.

The scientist's work is specific and narrow because it is highly specialized and limited to a single aspect. A doctor's knowledge can be more broader even if s/he is a super-specialist.  But the key point here is unless the medical doctor keeps up with latest knowledge and remains unbiased, you cannot  trust his judgement. The scientist is the one who has the most recent knowledge and neutral too as s/he doesn't deal with marketing of diagnostics etc. (please read  interactive science series - part 70).

But the medical doctor is the person who  will be on the site dealing with actual patients and therefore can be more experienced in 'in vivo' practical terms. 

Now decide for yourself whom to trust.

Q: Is earth threatened by Nibiru?

Krishna: There is no evidence that Nibiru exists.  If it did exist, it would have screwed up the outer planets’ orbits long ago and space scientists  would have predicted its arrival before.

So the answer to your Q is NO! 

Q: What is the use of scientific methodology?

Krishna: Without scientific methodology people cannot avoid logical fallacies and errors in their thinking process.

Q: Does the 'gold blood' contain gold in it?

Krishna: "Gold Blood" is a rare type of blood  and that is why it is called ''gold".

 On the surface of every one of our red blood cells, we have up to 342 antigens – molecules capable of triggering the production of specialized proteins called antibodies. It is the presence or absence of particular antigens that determines someone’s blood type. Some 160 of the 342 blood group antigens are ‘high-prevalence’, which means that they are found on the red blood cells of most people. If you lack an antigen that 99 per cent of people in the world are positive for, then your blood is considered rare. If you lack one that 99.99 per cent of people are positive for, then you have very rare blood.

If a particular high-prevalence antigen is missing from your red blood cells, then you are ‘negative’ for that blood group. If you receive blood from a ‘positive’ donor, then your own antibodies may react with the incompatible donor blood cells, triggering a further response from the immune system. These transfusion reactions can be lethal.

Because so few people have it, by definition, rare blood is hardly ever needed. But when it is, finding a donor and getting the blood to a patient in crisis can become a desperate race against the clock.

There are 35 blood group systems, organised according to the genes that carry the information to produce the antigens within each system. The majority of the 342 blood group antigens belong to one of these systems. The Rh system (formerly known as ‘Rhesus’) is the largest, containing 61 antigens.

The most important of these Rh antigens, the D antigen, is quite often missing in Caucasians, of whom around 15 per cent are Rh D negative (more commonly, though inaccurately, known as Rh-negative blood). 

Some forty three people (yes just 43)  in the world seemed to be lacking all the Rh antigens. This would make their blood type Rhnull – one of the rarest in the world (1). 

Rhnull blood was first described in 1961, in an Aboriginal Australian woman. Until then, doctors had assumed that an embryo missing all Rh blood cell antigens would not survive, let alone grow into a normal, thriving adult. By 2010, nearly five decades later, some 43 people with Rhnull blood had been reported worldwide.  Because Rhnull blood can be considered ‘universal’ blood for anyone with rare blood types within the Rh system, its life-saving capability is enormous. As such, it’s also highly prized by doctors – although it will be given to patients only in extreme circumstances, and after very careful consideration, because it may be nigh on impossible to replace. “It’s the golden blood"!

Blood groups are inherited, and Rhnull is known to run in families. The tests  on golden-blood people showed that Rhnull blood was due to two completely different random mutations on both sides. Pure chance, twice over, in the face of vanishingly small odds. 

Such people are advised to 'store their own blood' in case they need it in their later years because you won't get such rare blood easily!

Q: To what extent is there order to the universe?  

Krishna: This universe is based on scientific principles. Everything that is present in the universe strictly follows those principles.

When several factors decide outcomes, they follow the interplay of scientific rules and routes and exactly fit into the reaction realities. Whatever happens here therefore, are orderly in nature.

If anybody says, it is chaotic, he or she doesn’t understand properly how scientific principles play out.

Science's rules are unyielding, they will not be bent in any way fo...

Q: Every parent has the right to refuse his or her child get vaccinated. Why do scientists and doctors object to such things?

Krishna: This is a message a pediatrician sent ( quite controversial though) to people like you...

"In my practice you will vaccinate and you will vaccinate on time. You will not get your own “spaced-out” schedule that increases your child’s risk of illness or adverse event. I will not have measles-shedding children sitting in my waiting room. I will answer all your questions about vaccine and present you with facts, but if you will not vaccinate then you will leave my practice. I will file a CPS report (not that they will do anything) for medical neglect, too.

I have patients who are premature infants with weak lungs and hearts. I have kids with complex congenital heart disease. I have kids who are on chemotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia who cannot get all of their vaccines. In short, I have patients who have true special needs and true health issues who could suffer severe injury or death because of your magical belief that your kid is somehow more special than other children and that what’s good for other children is not good for yours.

This pediatrician is not putting up with it.

Never have, never will."

If this pediatrician really said so, he did a right thing!

Well, if you refuse to get your child vaccinated, take him to a remote place. You have no right to cause harm to other children with your irresponsible behaviour.  If you say you have your right to refuse vaccinations, that right should be revisited like courts did in the US. We cannot allow a few careless and ill-informed people to hijack our societies'welfare. Period!

Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review

Q: Long ago, many scientists were also philosophers. Nowadays, most scientists and engineers tend to be dismissive of philosophy. What happened?  

Krishna: Earlier when there was no clear cut demarcation of fields, everybody dealt with everything. Renaissance period people dealt with science, art, philosophy, literature and religion simultaneously.

But now …

When you look for synonyms for philosophy, you get these words: beliefs, credo, faith, convictions, ideology, ideas, thinking, notions, theories, doctrine, tenets, values, principles, ethics, attitude, line, view, viewpoint, outlook, world view, school of thought.

Modern Scientific methodology deals with - observation, hypothesis, controlled experiments , theory , further experimentation to determine reproducibility under a variety of conditions and locations , Validation , and law

Beliefs, faith, ideology and opinions have no place in science. Therefore, deviation and dismissal is natural.

Like a renaissance person, I am into several fields. As a person of science, I know how difficult it is to deal with several clearly defined fields that contradict one another. I have many personalities and as an artist I do things differently and when in my lab, I do things differently. As a writer and poet, I do things differently and I become a different person on AL network. As a designer I do things very differently. As an activist I do things differently. Long back I had drawn the lines between various fields I work in and I don't allow myself to cross these lines now so that I can efficiently do my work in different fields. I also feel one has to completely abandon one field and its parameters to go and work efficiently into another. I used to wonder whether there are any middle grounds, but couldn't find any that don't interfere with the existing ones. Sometimes ‘acting’ becomes necessary!

However, true scientists cannot tolerate cognitive dissonance ( science doesn't allow for the holding of two contradictory positions). They must choose the facts and stick to them. While thinking critically, you have to take only facts and data into account. Your opinions and beliefs have no place in it.

I brought some new waves of thought into other fields I deal with which might not agree with the ones in those fields but basically and wholeheartedly I am a scientist and dealing with other fields is like walking on a tight rope for me. Somehow I manage it. It makes my mind a burning charcoal all the time.

Why should scientists subject themselves to such torture when they are already overburdened with lots of problems that need their immediate attention?

Q: Is there any scientific explanation for witchcraft and magic?

Nobody can do that to me. Because I don’t believe anybody has any power to harm me with witchcraft.

In magic the illusion is executed so perfectly that every step looks real, even when you're shown that it is not. Every time a magician performs a magic trick, he is engaging in experimental psychology. Magicians are fooling your mind at a very deep level by taking advantage of the cognitive illusions.

Watch a video that explains how magic works on your mind …

Researchers Reveal the Neuroscience of Magic

Q: Is eating less food good?

Krishna: Eating enough food with all the useful nutrients is good. 

When excessive food over and above what is biologically needed is consumed, a lot of free radicals are also generated during metabolism, resulting in DNA damage beyond its repair mechanisms, This accelerates the aging process and disease and death sets in much shorter than its genetic expression of 120 years for humans. This, as well as other factors dictates for longevity.

Q: What happens if you scare a ghost?

Krishna: There are no ghosts. It just is your hallucination or imagination.

If you scare your imagination, it just melts away. Keep doing that and come out of your pseudo-world! 

Q: What is hardware disease?

Krishna: Hardware disease is a common term for bovine traumatic reticuloperitonitis. It is usually caused by the ingestion of a sharp, metallic object. These pieces of metal settle in the reticulum and can irritate or penetrate the lining. It is most common in dairy cattle, but is occasionally seen in beef cattle.  It can be prevented by the oral administration of a magnet before the animal reaches the age of one.

Q: What would be the best scientific discovery in the coming times?
Krishna: My vote goes to fully understanding the process of death. Scientists are already taking first steps towards the problem.
Recently I read two research papers where scientists described ‘death dance’ at molecular level in worms. It really is fascinating. When we understand the process correctly, perhaps we can revolutionize the medical field.
Q: What is the most mind-blowing natural phenomenon that science can't explain? Krishna: We have lots of them. And most of them explained by science too unlike what people think. Read about them along with the scientific explanations here …

Why some interesting things happen in Nature according to science



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