Sunday, 27 September 2009

Electric Vehicles

I have been without access to the internet .for sometime. Recently, I read a blog on EV also the news about Reva and GM tie up. I was talking to my son about it. Are these really as environment friendly as we make it out to be?
Like my son said, we are exchanging a more efficient fuel(petrol) for a less efficient one(coal in thermal power stations and of course the huge transmission losses of the grid power system).
Then there are the Li much Li are we going to need if most autos convert to this technology? and how are we going to dispose /recycle this after the lifeime of the battery? Compare it with existing car batteries ...has anyone got any numbers to this? or are we just joining the fashion?
Are we seriously trying to make affordable solar cars?
Are these EVs a prelim to the solar cars?
We have seen time and again that new tech carries risks. Yet we never fully and scientifically evaluate the risks and then decide the risk is worth taking. We just embrace new technology without a full analysis. Yes given the present problems, EV with all their risks, may be worthwhile, but has anyone done this analysis? any Audit?
This is like GM food and biotech. Are we honestly evaluating all the risks and then deciding that we are willing to pay the price, or are we just assuming all new tech is good tech?
We cannot go on like spoilt brats...this toy broke, so buy me a new toy. We must learn not to break toys.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Vandana Shiva

Vandana Shiva has been at MS Swaminathan in the op-ed yesterday.
The green revolution triggered in part by MSS in India had many drawbacks...but I used to think that in those times,(I am old enough to remeber the days of PL 480), the cost was justified since it made us self sufficient in food. But the same thing is now making us lose our grip on our food-self-sufficiency.
GM has always scared me. we are doing things whose long term consequences we cannot determine.
Any technology that interferes with living systems cannot be totally predictable. Biology is not physics... or even chemistry.
The case of thalidomide made a strong impression upon me (I was a kid) The horrible errors of judgement. (assuming it was not greed)..the side effect was totally unexpected. Similarly, the side effects of the transgenic organisms may not be where we are looking, but at a totally unexpected place...even more unlikely than the cattle that ate bt cotton and died.
It's like the way everyone including scientists assume ET life will have intelligence, need oxygen, need water etc....there maybe life based on S and P or on some other element .

Friday, 4 September 2009

meeting old students

A couple of days back, we had an Alumni meet --got to meet a few of my old students. Really nice to see them.

I also got really nice mails from a few old students. It is good to see that at least some of my old students remember me and my teaching with fondness.

During the course of this academic year, so far, many old students have got in touch with me...just finishing their PhD, or just starting one, or waiting for fellowships, so many of them becoming or hoping to become scientists. I hope they become good ones.