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

Q: Can a lean person be absolutely fit?

MR: Physical fitness is defined as 'a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity'. In other terms  it is the ability to carry out daily tasks with vigour and alertness, without undue fatigue, and with ample energy. 

The main categories of physical fitness are aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, strength, speed, power and flexibility.

These are some factors that determine the fitness of a person...

Cardiorespiratory endurance - typically measured by how long or fast a person can perform an activity and how this impacts measurements such as heart rate and oxygen consumption.
Muscular endurance - typically measured by how many repetitions of an exercise a person can perform. Common tests involve push-ups and sit ups.
Muscular strength - typically measured by how much weight can be moved in relation to repetitions. Exercises involving multiple joints and muscle groups such as squats or bench press are often used.
Muscular power - typically measured by how much force can be generated during a given activity. Advanced equipment used by biomechanists are often needed to measure muscular power.
Flexibility - typically measured by how far a muscle group can be stretched or joint can be moved. The most common tests involve the hamstrings and shoulders.
Balance - typically measured by how long a particular position can be held with or without some type of activity being performed. Simple tests such as standing on one leg can be used to assess balance. More advanced tests may involve standing on an unsteady object while trying to catch a ball.
Speed - typically measured by how quickly an individual can move from one point to another. The 40-yard dash is often used to assess speed.
Body composition - this is the amount of fat on the body versus other tissues such as muscle, bones and skin. Measured using a variety of tests and devices. Simple tests using mathematical equations or calipers are common and inexpensive. More advanced tests such as underwater weighing are far less common and much more expensive.

If a person has all the above qualities, he or she is physically fit. Being lean doesn't mean being fit like people think.

Physical fitness is generally achieved through -  physical activity and exercise,  correct nutrition,  enough rest (good quality sleep),  stress management and relaxation.

Q: Can scientists ever understand the nature of consciousness?

MR: Some pessimists say we cannot. But most scientists say this: "There is little rationale for buying into such defeatist talk and every reason to look forward to the day, not that far off, when science will come to a naturalized, quantitative and predictive understanding of consciousness and its place in the universe.”

SO?! Nobody can stop a determined scientist from finding solutions to the problems we face!

"Can?" is an irrelevant Q with regard to science. "Science can" is the reply the scientists want to give. They want to add 'It is only a matter of time'.

Q: Do intelligent people waste time too? If they do how do they do it?

MR: Intelligent people and wasting time? Sounds like oxymoronic words to me!

Intelligent people don’t waste time. Even if they want to relax sometimes, they would do it in some useful ways. 

Q: Dr. Krishna, I am a lady researcher and after reading some of your replies to others I wanted to contact you with regard to a problem I am having with my supervisor. My instincts say he is trying to get closer to me. He is a married man and has children too. He is 20 years older than me. He is intelligent and hard working. You normally don't expect people like him to behave in this way.

His messages, phone calls late at night, his behaviour while he is with me are making me very uncomfortable. I cannot say anything to him because my career is at stake. How can I deal with him without spoiling our professional relationship?

PS: Please don't mention my name or reveal my identity to anyone.

MR: Sorry to hear about your problem. As a woman I can understand it very well. If the instincts of a woman say something is wrong with a man's behaviour, she would be right most of the time! You must put an end to it before it gets out of hand.

Let us first understand that intelligence is different from intellectualism. Just because a person can make use of a few numbers and solve some problems in science with his intelligence, he need not be an intellectual with the right type of reasoning power. Your guide lacks this differentiating power and therefore, is behaving like any ordinary man. 

First slowly make him understand, by giving hints, like stopping him say words outside of your profession and trying to divert the conversation and making him stick to the research problem. Don't answer his calls at odd times or give replies to his messages. This tells him that you disapprove of his behaviour. An intelligent person should be able to understand it.

In case he doesn't - some men don't get the message so easily - even if they do get it, some just ignore it - tell him softly that you entered the university to pursue your research and want to stick to it. This will be your second stage attempt to stop him and remember you are still trying to be soft yet firmly conveying your intentions. A professor must and should be able to understand this.

If unfortunately he still chooses to go ahead with his unwanted pursuits, I am afraid, you have to complain to the higher authorities, with evidence of his messages. This might cause some friction but you have no other go now. This must put an end to his behaviour. 

Some men, with hurt egos, try to harass women at this stage. Then you must ask the Head of the Dept. or highest authorities of the University to change your supervisor. 

If they don't, you yourself must change the university. This is the last resort. You would lose some time but you don't have a choice now. You did everything you could to solve the problem but if it persists, as your peace of mind, your integrity are utmost important for upward movement of your research career, you must take this step. 

Let us hope good sense prevails and your guide gets  and understands the messages right at the initial stages itself and you would be able to go ahead with your work unhindered. 

( This is a personal message sent to me but still as some lady researchers are facing this problem, I chose to bring it into the public domain without revealing the identity of the woman so that others too can follow this method).

Q: Dr. Krishna, the advice you gave to a lady researcher prompted me to write to you, as I am one too. All my colleagues and my supervisor are good. Only problem I have is our  lab attender. 

Sometimes I work late into the night along with my male colleagues. I move with them, be with them in closed rooms/cubicles discussing things related to my research work. 

I don't know why whenever I come out of the rooms, the lab attender looks at me oddly and laughs. He follows my every move. Whenever I go inside the room of my guide to discuss my work, he comes in too with some excuses. He thinks I am a cheap character because I meet men when they are alone. He coughs and makes silly sounds whenever I pass by him. 

It might sound silly to you, but all this is making me very uncomfortable. How can I deal with this person?

MR: Messages like  yours and from those of other women scientists and researchers clearly state we have  problems in science similar to other fields. 

No, your problem doesn't sound silly to me.  You are facing a serious one and it bothers you. It is easy for me to say 'hit the ignore button and move on'. But when two eyes follow your every move, when a diseased mind  psychologically tortures you, how can I say this is silly? 

My dear, there will be people who cannot think beyond a narrow stretch. Their world is confined, controlled and conditioned by limited and  inadequate cognition. When you are way up these people, both worlds (yours and  theirs) cannot fit into a single condition/situation and friction definitely occurs and very often  the person who is up has to face the full force. 

Working women face these forces more often. It effects them most if they are sensitive. Developing a thick skin - rather - thick skinned mind - is a better option.

On the other hand  the problem can be solved if you attempt and try to change this person's way of looking at things. Can you go to him and talk to him directly? Will he be able to understand and think that in today's world, a working woman has to deal and move with men like other men do and they have no choice and this doesn't mean they deal with men in the only way he thinks they do?

Try and see if his thinking ways  can be changed. And let me know the result.

Q: Is CRISPR gene editing really helpful like you say? What is the assurance that you can give that it will not be misused?

MR: In the four years since CRISPR has been around, researchers have used it to fix genetic diseases in animals, combat viruses, sterilize mosquitoes and prepare pig organs for human transplants. Most experts think that’s just the beginning. 

The inexpensive, easy-to-use gene editor has made it possible for researchers to delve into fundamental mysteries of life in ways that had been difficult or impossible. In the next few years, you would come across amazing techniques that can use CRISPR for the benefit of humanity.

Nobody can give any assurance with regard to misuse of any scientific and technological advances. The thinking might make you uncomfortable. There will be risks. 

But these fears should not stop science from progressing. Do you  worry about accidents and stop coming out of your home? How silly that sounds? 

Q: Is zero gravity a MYTH? If this is true, how can astronauts become weightless?

MR: Yes! There is no place you could go in the entire Universe where you could be in true zero gravity! You're under the influence of gravity of every single atom in the observable Universe. 

Weightlessness is a phenomenon experienced by people during free-fall. Although the term zero gravity is often used as a synonym, weightlessness in orbit is not the result of the force of gravity being eliminated or even significantly reduced (in fact, the force of the Earth's gravity at an altitude of 100 km is only 3% less than at the Earth’s surface). Weightlessness typically occurs when an object or person is falling freely, in orbit, in deep space (far from a planet, star, or other massive body), in an airplane following a particular parabolic flight path , or in one of several other more unusual situations.

Q: You say science doesn't deal with chaos and need clarity to sustain. Then how come we find so many confusing and contradictory reports in medical science? How can we trust science if it is so confusing?

MR: I agree, we have lots of contradictory reports coming from several research institutes around the world. As a person of science I can understand why this happens. I explained the reasons too in my article ...  why-we-get-contradictory-reports-in-science

And why you should trust science despite all this? Find here: standing-up-for-science-showing-reasons-why-science-should-be-trusted

 Q: Modern medicines too have side effects. Then why are they better than traditional methods?

MR: With modern medicines we know what these effects could be because they take years to get through the research and development processes and only when the positives outweigh negatives they are brought into the public domain. When you have knowledge, either you can overcome the negative effects or reduce them to manageable levels.

But most traditional medicines are untested and therefore are not as reliable as the modern medicines.

I want to emphasize here that nearly a quarter of all modern medicines come from natural products, many of which were first used in traditional remedies. And of 121 prescription drugs used worldwide against cancer, 90 are derived from plants (1).

One of the dark sides of these traditional methods of medicine is animal poaching. Claims that rhino horns can treat cancer, tiger bones and other body parts help treat chronic ailments, cure disease and replenish the body’s essential energy are not evidence-based.

When used together, traditional and modern medicines might interact  with one another and reduce each other's potency.

We are not against traditional medicines. We only want them to get tested to prove their efficacy, safety and authenticity.

This process has already been started in India - the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has teamed up with several public and private partners to conduct clinical trials on herbal products generated through reverse pharma.... This has resulted in wider acceptance of Ayurvedic traditional medicines and promises cheaper, faster and more effective drugs (2). 

Q: Astrology is not pseudo-science like you say.  I know the modern scientists don't believe much in it but many practices were based on Shastra including astrology.

 Those scientists in ancient times were far knowledgeable than today's scientist. Many people studying astronomy in India do refer to astrology to find out the position of stars and planets as on a particular day and time. And as far as having its effect on us do try to refer the following link Yoga, Vedanta, Vedic astrology, Ayurveda, Karma, Dharma, Buddha, Jyotish, Psychology, Spirituality.

 Atleast read the last two paragraphs regarding astrology and how science is involved in it.

I know you don't like to argue much ; but telling astrology as a pseudo science is a wrong thing. By saying that you meant to say that our forefathers scientist even before vedic period were fools as compared to current scientist. No they weren't. And I have met a profound astrologer who could correctly tell the death of a person also. It's about having knowledge about astrology and people who dont have it laugh on it.

MR: Oh, my! I don't want to argue but there is no other way to defend science here. 

You must first understand that the word 'shastra' doesn't mean 'science' in modern terms. Science is evidence based and you have to show proof. Just saying something you believe in doesn't stand up to modern science. Science is about evidence, not wishful thinking.  Astrology is about 3,000 to 5,000 year old and it continues to use astrology charts that are thousands of years old.  As the earth rotates on its axis, the stars move from the East to the West around the point in the sky above the north and south poles.  If the north and south poles are moved, then the motion of the stars change.  

Thanks to Earth's wobble, astrological signs are, well, off the mark! (Or even more rubbish than you might expect.) Astrological signs are determined by the position of the sun relative to certain constellations on a person's day of birth. The problem is, the positions were determined more than 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, the stars have shifted in the night sky so much that horoscope signs are nearly a month off! Astrology tells us that the sun is in one position, whereas astronomy tells us it's in another position! The shift is caused by precession, the wobble in the Earth's axis caused by the gravitational attraction of the moon to the Earth's equator. The gap between the astrological and the astronomical view is huge. 

The Earth is like a wobbly top. As it rotates, its axis swings in a circle, pointing in different directions. As the Earth's position shifts, so does our perspective of the night sky.

Using the sky charts used by most astrologers, the sun is not where it is supposed to be.  For example, according to astrology on August 27th (my birth date), the sun is supposed to be in Virgo.  It is actually in Leo! So ancient astrology says I am a Virgo, but the new study says I am a Leo! Hah!

Even if the astrological signs were stable, there's no evidence the stars have anything to do with people's day-to-day existence. One 2006 study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences used data from more than 15,000 people and found no relationship between date of birth and personality (3). Despite the complete lack of scientific and observational evidence for astrology, several people believe in it.

Many scientific studies have been made, and they all show that astrology is no more accurate than chance would have it in making predictions. And I stick with modern science because it is more reliable.

Some Indain scientists have tried to test astrology predictions. Their experiment with twenty-seven Indian astrologers judging forty horoscopes each, and a team of astrologers judging 200 horoscopes, showed that none were able to tell bright children from mentally handicapped children better than chance. Their results contradict the claims of Indian astrologers and are consistent with the many tests of Western astrologers. In summary, their results are firmly against Indian astrology being considered as a science.

Read here what they found :

Q: How do you explain scientific methodology to laymen like me in simple terms and few words?

MR: SM is gaining knowledge by confirming, refining or falsifying hypotheses through unbiased, repeatable experiments and observations.

Q: Why don't scientists believe in the paranormal and supernatural?

MR: Science is slowly  replacing the paranormal and the supernatural with the normal and the natural.

Scientific knowledge is opening our eyes and minds to reality.

Weather events once attributed to the supernatural scheming of deities are now understood to be the product of natural forces of temperature and pressure. Plagues formerly ascribed to women dealing with the devil are currently known to be caused by bacteria and viruses. Mental illnesses previously imputed to demonic possession are today sought in genes and neuro-chemistry. Accidents,till now explained by fate, karma or providence are nowadays accredited to probabilities, statistics and risk.

Need more evidence?

Q: Can science be right every time you deal with it or say is right? Why do scientists trust science more than anything else?

MR: No. Science is not right always. But it is right most of the time whenever evidence that matches with reality  is shown. It is more closer to truth than any other system people believe in. 

Science represents a methodology to answer questions. According to some scientists, any scientific hypothesis should be falsifiable (Falsifiability ), that is, it should have the potential to be proven wrong. In other words, science welcomes it when a certain hypothesis is proven wrong, because it provides new opportunities and challenges to come up with a newer and better theory.

Science is simply a mechanism by which we attempt to make, and test, assertions about the world. Those assertions, the tests, and the conclusions can all be wrong, but the system, overall, has shown itself to be both initially effective and self-correcting over the long term.

It is because of these properties of science, it is more trust worthy than other systems.

Q: Your article science and spirituality is really wonderful. I never read anything like that in my entire life that explained scientific point of view so clearly. Now I am worried I am getting influenced by it and becoming a spiritual person in a different way. But I am still in my old body with a new mind. How can I overcome this dual existence and follow only the scientific way?

MR: :) It is at the horizon where the known meets the unknown that we are tempted to inject paranormal and supernatural forces to explain hitherto unsolved mysteries. We get highly creative. We tend to believe in stories told by our ancestors when we feel things are no longer in our control. Read my article science-s-rules-are-unyielding-they-will-not-be-bent-for-anybody- , you will find a solution.






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