Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sajeevani again.. I have just been made aware of the obvious..... there was this one mountain in the Himalayas that had Sajeevani. But Hanuman took it to Sri Lanka. So why are they looking for it in Uttarakhand?
Like the govt of Uttarakhand, I too did not think of the obvious.
So if you believe implicitly in the Ramayana look in Sri Lanka. Give 25crores to them.
Or do we selectively believe in our mythology, sorry history?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Twenty five crores to find Sanjeevani. Wow!
What I am curious about is that after finding it, how can you prove a man would be dead, but has come back to life because of this herb? Can we also find Amrit and Som ras? There is a lot of debate about what exactly Soma was with ephedra being the top contender.
But seriously, I think it makes sense to systematise ancient knowledge specially in medicine. The money could be better spent in conducting scientific studies on many of the  Ayurvedic medicines and either prove or disprove their efficacy. It could also be used for better training of Ayurvedic practitioners since many start practicing after a 6 month postal course.
In the old system, a boy starts learning with his father or guru from when he is maybe 7 years old, progressing finally to preparation of medicines and to diagnosis, maybe 20 years later. His training would therefore be rigorous.
Now we get students who failed their MBBS and so decided to do a 6 month course in Ayurvedic medicine. That's dangerous since many Ayurvedic medicines are deadly if misused. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Prof J

My PhD guide was an exception to the usual profs at IIXs. He cared for the welfare of his students, definitely his research  students. He was understanding when personal problems overwhelmed me and did not question my lack of progress.
Instead he helped me change track that led me to a new area of research. He allowed me to pursue theoretical work when his interests lay elsewhere, even getting his friend to help me learn the basics. He showed me how to live without letting ego get in the way of good judgement. His equanimity was exemplary. I learned much more than Chemistry from him.
He passed away few weeks back.
He was a true teacher.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

gold again!

To continue from a previous post,  I see from the ET report that they used GC-MS and that the gold was in the ionic form.  I am out of touch with the modern developments in Chemistry, but from what I remember, GC with or without MS is used for volatile compounds. How did they estimate gold in the ionic form using GC-MS?
What eluting gas and what stationary phase was used for this, if it is possible?
I get these forwards on Whatsapp that proudly announce the building of a huge temple in the US or the chanting of the Bhagavad Gita by white children in the UK. It is seen as a sign of how great we are! That's really nice. But that's really nice of THEM! So we must encourage our children to chant prayers from religions other than the one they follow. That's what it means. If you think it is great that there is a huge Venkateswara temple in a country that's predominantly Christian, the equivalence would be a huge place of worship for a non predominant religion in our country.
The Whatsapp group has people of normal intelligence, but this simple equivalence seems to be beyond them!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

All that glisters is not gold

I would have thought that "scientists" working in a science department would have some knowledge of chemistry, or at least enough to know that elemental synthesis requires extraordinary conditions. If you find 3 mg/L gold in the urine of a cow, the grass you fed it must have had much more. So lets look at the wonder grass instead.  According to them, the clear indication of the presence of gold is the yellow colour of the urine. Really? "All that glisters is not gold, often have you heard that told..." or in this case all that's yellow is not gold.
What method did they use for the estimation of gold I wonder.
It reminds me of the crime-drama serials I love to watch---CSI, Bones etc where they do a GC-MS of some tissue sample and it shows sharp peaks labelled Na, CN etc. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

I have written earlier about my problem with teaching polarization of an atom or ion in class IX of the state school syllabus, when electrons are considered to be small particles with negative charge.
This post about school science is another case in point.
There was an article by Joan Mills maybe 30 or 40 years ago when she had to undergo an IQ test to join school. There was a picture of a girl with medium sized hands and palms and three gloves, one very big, one very small and the third the same size as the girl's hand. The question asked "which glove belongs to Mary?"
The little Joan was very puzzled. Maybe the small glove actually belonged to Mary but had shrunk in the wash, or maybe Mary's mother bought her large gloves thinking she will grow into them. Another aspect she thinks about is that the right size glove may fit Mary, but maybe it belonged to her friend and she stole it or borrowed it. Then it would not be Mary's, though the right size. With all these doubts in her mind, she could not answer the question.
Exam questions are simplistic and most examiners do not appreciate out-of-the ordinary answers. So a child that over-thinks is as likely to fail the exam as a child that cannot think at all.