This year we are celebrating 150 years of the Periodic Table of Elements. It is a landmark considering the pivotal and stellar position that this wonderful piece of scientific art or artistic science — whichever way you prefer to look at it — occupies in the progress, growth and development of science, especially modern science. The Periodic Table is the one entity which binds the two different branches of science — Physics and Chemistry together. It is also the first encounter of any school student with the fascinating world of science. If in doubt, consider how the study of Chemistry would look like had there been no such periodic classification of elements. That this classification exists, implies that you do not have to study and rote learn the properties of each individual element, instead just understanding the properties of a ‘group’ would suffice. It made the life of chemists and modern physicists so much easier! And not just that, the Periodic Table had provision (’empty slots’) for yet undiscovered elements. This way, it revealed the pattern in the nature around us and at the same time opened doors to the ingredients of the nature which were not yet known. Several names like Lothar Mayer, Dimitri Mendeleev and Moseley are associated with the history of the Periodic Table. While reading this history, every student participates in the logical reasoning and scientific thinking which went into the development of this process of classification. In a way it was all about observing and noting the pattern in the properties of elements found in nature. That everything fell into such an elegant piece of art must have been really exhilarating for the scientists of that time. Continue reading
As a researcher working in the field of atmospheric and climate science, nothing gave me more pleasure than the recent awareness and interest among general public about the climate crisis in front of us. It was indeed very frustrating to see the work of fellow researchers going down the drain because nobody apparently cares. It doesn’t matter how important or how serious the results are, it seems that nobody else is concerned about the state of the planet. General public doesn’t care; of course, they have more important and relevant issues to take care of, instead of addressing climate change which anyhow can wait. When we talk about climate, our discussion involves large time scales extending from hundreds to thousands of years. This creates an impression on general mind that climate issues are far off and their resolution can wait. Continue reading
This post is about NDTV journalist Pallava Bagla who is in news for last few days for all the wrong reasons. A lot has already been said on this episode; in fact, Twitter is on the verge of explosion considering the number of tweets shared on this news. It really brings delight to see the fervour and passion that my countrymen are carrying in their hearts. I am particularly happy to note that we have started looking beyond Tendulkar and Shahrukh Khan for people and institutions that bring us together. In the response given to Pallava Bagla, we have at least found something which is not controversial and everyone — barring a few — thinks in the same way. It is a rare sight these days. Continue reading
Ab Tak Chhappan is an important movie in filmography of Nana Patekar. In this movie he is depicted as an honest and tough police officer. The dramatic turn of events and Nana Patekar’s handling of them demonstrate the extent he could go to uphold his values and sense of duty. Given the success of this movie, no one was surprised when its sequel Ab Tak Chhappan 2 was released. In this movie, he was called by the state home minister Vikram Gokhale to ‘clean’ the city of its criminal elements. However, all is not what it seems; Nana Patekar has his moment of disillusionment, and he decides to set things right in his own way. I am not going to write a review of either of these movies. My interest is in a particular scene where Vikram Gokhale tells Nana Patekar how the latter was used for Gokhale’s political ambitions. This scene was a turning point in the movie and built up the climax of Ab Tak Chhappan 2. Continue reading
You may call me a slow reader; after all I took about three months for writing my last book review. But I am satisfied with my reading speed. In my opinion, it is highly improper not to give non-fiction books the effort and careful reading they demand and deserve. Non-fiction books, especially science books, are not meant for speed reading, and active involvement of the reader is essential to derive maximum benefit from the work. Following this argument, I am completely satisfied at having taken two full months in going through the book Your Brain, Explained: What Neuroscience Reveals About Your Brain and its Quirks by Marc Dingman. The title of the book speaks for itself and honestly speaking, I expected nothing less than 6 months of drudgery and mental torture while undertaking this seemingly Himalayan task. The book itself is not lengthy, being 256 pages long; however, it was the subject which scared me to death. But all my apprehensions turned out to be baseless fears of an empty mind. The book is educational in nature and far easier to follow than I had anticipated. The language of the book is neither too dull nor too exciting; it is simply modest and polite, and very easy to understand. Continue reading
Despite callousness of society and political apathy, you continue your work with dedication, sincerity and determination. You endure hardships and make sacrifices for the sake of your work, simply because you are convinced that the only way to social betterment and nation building is through scientific knowledge and spirit. Heartfelt regards and salutations to all my friends who are striving hard to build a scientific India. Best compliments to all of you on the occasion of Vikram Jayanti!
Today I would share my views on the book Infinity In The Palm Of Your Hand by Marcus Chown. This is the first popular science book that I am reviewing on this blog and the second book by Marcus Chown that I have read. I got acquainted with Marcus Chown through his book We Need To Talk About Kelvin, which explained the scientific concepts behind everyday events and processes that we take for granted. I was so impressed with that book that when Infinity In The Palm Of Your Hand was offered to me for review, I grabbed it with both hands. Continue reading