astrophysics, cosmology, Physics, Scicomm, science, Science Poetry

I see you

I look at the sky and I see you,

Among the darkness, black and shiny,

Among the stars, bright and dying,

Among the milky way, glistening and glowing,

I see you.

Where the laws of physics cease to exist,

You proved the existence of singularities;

Where nothing could escape from a black hole,

You proved it emits radiation;

Where the world was still debating on God,

You provided a scientific theory of creation.

You are not gone,

Just traveling through the spacetime,

To another dimension or another parallel world.

You are discovering new theories there I know,

Solving the improbable, one paradox after another.

I know you are still a fighter,

Like you fought ALS and defeated God,

Like you transformed applied mathematics and theoretical physics,

Like you explained how the Universe came into being.

I wish I could have met you, Dr. Stephen Hawking,

I wish you could have gone on in this world,

Making discoveries that would change our ideas and beliefs,

Inspiring generations to follow science and seek the truth.

My heart is heavy and the loss is immense,

I bid you Goodbye and wish you a merry interstellar journey to the other side.

But I can still see you,

Among the vastness, the darkness, and the brightness,

In the Universe above.

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astrophysics, Scicomm, science, Science Poetry

The Collision

And they collided;

Sending light and gravitational waves of a gamma-ray burst.

They were dead for a long time

From a supernova that killed all their electrons and protons,

And turned them into small, dense and heavy masses.

There are millions of them,

But these two came closer and closer,

With love as strong as their gravity,

And they collided.

The collision was spectacular,

A cosmic gold event that created real gold,

And uranium was created along with it.

Once they have been huge dazzling stars,

But they created a spectacle when they were dead.

 

Probably now we’ll have some answers,

On how the Universe was created and at what rate it is expanding,

And we’ll have no one thank other than these neutron stars,

Because they collided.

 

Microbiome, Scicomm, science, Science Poetry

Invisible

I am everywhere,

I am inside you and outside you,

I am in the dense forests, the deepest of seas,

Under the snow cover or in the hives of the honey bees.

I am in the soil, the air, and in the water,

And if you really look for me, you’ll also find me in the gutter.

 

I am in plants, and insects and even the scary spiders,

I am in the lizards and tortoise, the flying birds and the swimming fishes.

I am in mammals, big or small, helping them to live;

But for you, the humans, is the most I give.

I am in your skin, your mouth, your eyes and your hair,

I am also present inside your stomach and its layers;

I am the one who makes you stink from your armpit,

And even if it’s foul, then pardon me, but I am also in your urine, sweat, and shit.

 

But I am also there when you are born, coming into the world with a lot of woes,

And when your mother feeds you every day, it is I who help you grow.

I protect you from the nastiest of pathogens,

And provide you with all the required nutrients.

I provide you the taste of the delicious foods you eat

And if you crave for chocolate, then that’s probably me too.

But don’t mess with me, don’t give me irritation,

I can make you sick, higher your stress, and get you depression.

 

I know you can’t see me, I am invisible;

I am omnipotent and omnipresent,

I am in all life and even in the non-living

Life cannot survive without me being either inside or outside

I know you might be thinking that I am the Almighty, that I am God,

But don’t be fooled I am just the normal microbiome.

 

climate change, Scicomm, science, Science Poetry

Rain in Christmas

I saw the clouds, dark and heavy

It would pour I knew, strong and windy;

It will be hazy and bleaky and shadowy and gloomy,

It will be warm and sticky and steamy and soggy.

The streets will be drenched, watery and muddy,

The trees will be dripping and all will be muggy.

 

The lights are bright, on the streets and houses,

Everyone is happy with their family and spouses;

The decorations are done with the stars on the top,

The Christmas trees are ready and right on the spot;

It’s Christmas eve, its time to sing the carols loud,

This is the time for family with euphoria endowed.

 

I love the rain when comes in August,

It washes away the heat, the pollens, the dust;

But now its Christmas and its time to snow,

The murky clouds give the spirits a blow;

Snowflakes should come down and turn everything white,

Rudolph can’t pull the sleigh on sludge, Santa can’t bring the light.

 

They say its changing and change is formal,

But when it comes to the climate, this is abnormal;

Ice caps are melting, oceans are rising,

Calamities will come, be it hurricanes, earthquakes or flooding;

Temperatures are rising from seas to mountains,

We need to fight this before its curtains.

 

I love the rain, the summer, the spring,

I love the autumn leaves and the happiness they all bring;

But I love the snow when it falls,

Cold and shivery but serene and calm;

I love the Christmas trees, covered with the white balls,

And the roads glistening, to make Santa come.

 

I know there’s time to do things right,

We can do anything to make the future bright;

We believe in us and we believe in science,

We have fought so much with love and alliance;

I know the snow will come when its December,

Winters will be as cold as the ones we remember;

I know we’ll be kindred spirits when enjoying the festivities,

We’ll lit the fire, cuddle or do fun activities;

I know it will be cold but elation amass,

Since the last thing we need, is Rain in Christmas.

 

Education, Indian Education System, Opinions

Where do THE EXCELLENT vanish?

Students who are excellent and receive excellent grades in Board exams suddenly vanish into thin air. Nowadays we all hear stories about students who get 99% above marks in the 10th and 12th school board exams. But what happens to them afterwards is never a story. They get the limelight for a few days on social media, on paper and written media outlets and then they get lost in the oblivion. No one hears about them any further. So where to these EXCELLENT and BRILLIANT students vanish before reaching a level of true EXCELLENCE?

A Times of India article from India at the end of last year reported that 17.47 lakh (1.747 million) students took the board exams in India in the year 2015.

(Board exam takers in India)

The person who got the first position in the 10th exams got 99.4% marks. This implies that the person received 100 or close to 100 in each and every subject he/she appeared for. This in turn implies that this person knows it all about these subjects. But in reality is it possible to know everything about a subject or as such the syllabus that they have?

The possible answer is NO. It is impossible to know everything (even people working tirelessly on researching a particular research question would not claim this). But this person actually knew answers to all the questions he/she attempted in the exam. So now the question is are the exams been set in a manner that they can really test the knowledge of the students? Are 100-150 multiple choice or written answers type questions enough to test a candidate? Theoretically YES but practically NO. Because what they have learnt throughout their career is only theory and they don;t know how this theory can be applied to the practical world. Answering these exam questions correctly ensure that they receive an excellent grade but that does not imply that they can apply this knowledge to innovate, imagine and solve critical problems. The education system of India needs to revamp itself completely and need to apply for practical and situation based questions to test the candidates. But only restructuring the exam won’t help. We need to restructure the whole education system to train students in a more project and application based environment. We need to help the students in a way so that the juices in the nerves start flowing at an early age and they keep working on it throughout their career.

Now comes the main point “where do these students who show off that they are excellent at this age vanish?”. Seldom in the history of Indian education we have encountered students who took the pole positions in both the 10th and 12th board exams. Majority of the one who top the group in 10th are not even in the list of top 100 in the 12th. Most of the top students who get the pole positions in the 12th board exams set to become doctors and engineers. Now the thing is that there is no lack of doctors and engineers in India and these people are increasing the pool only. They have defined their professions and ambitions even before thinking about alternatives. These excellent grades are not getting converted into excellence and innovation. What these people really need to do is to become entrepreneurs and innovators in the future. They need to delve deep into answering the unanswered scientific questions. They need to unravel the mysteries of the past and that of the future.

There are people reaching excellence all over the world and a lot of Indians are among them. But I don’t think more than 1% of them actually topped their board exams and got 99% grades. Grades are important, specially in a country of a billion, where everyone is competing in a Rat race and everyone needs to come out on top in every race. However winning the race doesn’t guarantee excellence. Excellence is achieved by thinking out of the box, by being creative and imaginative and by thinking about new things and how you can contribute to those things.

The solution will need time and effort from a lot of people. From the education ministers to the government officers to the school authorities, to the teachers, to the parents and to the students themselves need to embrace application and method based studies. They need to explore different professions, different subjects and different ideologies. Good grades only don’t ensure excellence neither does bad grades destroy the path to achieve it.

I found this online quote on facebook and it perfectly sums up that point I was trying to make.

Indian Judiciary, Opinions, Recent Indian controversies

The Salman Conundrum

Law, legality, justice and judiciary system. What people fail to understand that most of time these are completely different things in the real world. While law and justice are in a sense more like emotions, legality and judiciary systems are the expressions of those emotions. A law may state that based on certain facts that a particular action or person is either right or wrong whereas legality is more like whether these fact add up to judge that action/person. Justice may seem to be a case where the law is followed whereas judiciary is the system that confirms that legality has been adhered to.

Over the last few weeks in India, a debate has arisen about the swinging verdict on the Salman Khan case, a case that started on 2002 and is nowhere near finished. Now the first question is who is Salman Khan? Salman Khan is a hugely celebrated and popular Indian Film Actor (i.e. to say the Bollywood film industry). His movies are generally the highest grossers of the last few years. He has a huge number of followers worldwide and immensely popular as an entertainer. He is also the main man behind a great charitable organization known as “Being Human”.

Now this seems all rosy stuff about him but then he was and still is convicted of several crimes. The most heinous of them is this one where he allegedly killed one man and injured four others while driving his car onto a footpath (a.ka. pedestrian way, walking trail, nature trail) in a drunken state. A few weeks back after 13 long years of court proceedings, the judge in the sessions court came to a conclusion that he was the man driving the vehicle that led to these death and injuries and the court ordered him for 5 years on imprisonment. As soon as this happened, India erupted. Some people were ecstatic that a celebrity like him got what he deserved and his fans and many other people were left heart broken. Three days later, he gets out on bail since it has not been proved whether he was really drunk or not and on what basis the punishment shall be dished out. His followers sighed of relief and were ecstatic now, the other half of people were angry and frustrated and social media erupted with views and opinion (albeit I am providing one here as well).

Now here is the funny part and the main reason why I am writing a blog on this. The way people started reacting on social media is as if something terribly wrong has happened that the court has allowed him bail. They are angry that he being a celebrity is using his powers and prowess and money and connections to get himself out of a tight spot. People are cursing the judiciary that has failed so horribly. But why all this nuisance on social media? Why scream about injustice now?

I must tell you here that I am not a lawyer and will not go into details of the law here. However, I am been brought up in a family of lawyers and I have a general idea about how things really go on in the courts in India. In this case the affected people are the appellant and Salman Khan is the Defendant. It means that the family of the person killed and those injured has appealed to the court that Salman Khan has committed a criminal offence and should be punished for. Now the point here is that, in this case, or for that matter in any criminal offence, it is not the defendant’s (or his lawyer’s) responsibility to prove that he is not guilty but it the responsibility of the Public prosecutor (who works for the Appellant) to prove in the court without any shred of doubt that the defendant has truly committed the crime. If there is any shred of doubt arising from the evidences that the defendant may not have committed the crime then it will and must go in favour of him. This is what has happened in this case as well, where the prosecutor could not answer to all the questions of the judge with conclusive evidences. Moreover, even a ruling from the sessions court can be overturned by the High Court, or the Supreme Court and finally if required by the International Court of Justice. So it’s a long way from getting done.

Now people may argue that evidences may be tampered, witnesses can be paid off, and money can talk. But it can be done by both sides. There is no dearth of people who will want to land Salman Khan in jail. But that is the real world my friends. My father, a lawyer himself, always used to tell me when I was young that “Justice delayed is justice denied”. It has already been delayed by 13 years. Is it too hard for people to wait further now? There are more than millions of pending cases in the High Courts with a severe lack of judges. The government needs to focus on these issues first so that in cases like this a judge can reach a verdict within a considerably faster time frame.

This case has been an eye opener. It has shown us what we need to do and what we need to do? If you really want to raise a voice, raise it for the fair selection of judges, raise it for more number of judges, raise to make the court proceedings smoother. Raise your voices to ask people not drink and drive. But I would encourage all youth and mostly all people to have faith in the Judiciary and the system in place. in Law there is already a process in place and be whom it may, he can use or misuse this process. But again legality states that these processes must be adhered to strictly to uphold law and justice. There is a reason on why the country is still progressing in spite of all this. Have faith in yourself and how you can add to that progress.

As in a parallel world Spiderman was told “With great power comes great responsibility”, however in the real world “With great power comes more power and misuse of power” (you may replace power with money if you want).

Cheerios until next time.