Uncategorized

Sanity, Vanity, FANity

On July 6, 2018, the FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals were going on and Brazil was playing Belgium. Both teams were favourites in this edition of the World Cup and it was a great match that Belgium won 2-1. At the end of the match, I had to rush to a Boutique Cake shop that was closing soon and as I entered the shop I saw the owner wearing a Brazil Jersey. I felt bad for her and after ordering the cake I offered a few words of sympathy. She said ” You know we played well and this is just a game right? We were unlucky and the other team defended really well. We had so much ball possession and just couldn’t find the net!”. I was astonished at how cool and unperturbed she was with this loss. I came back home with the cake and opened my Facebook account and there was a swarm of posts from friends in India cursing Brazil for their loss (the team and the players), cursing Belgium for winning the match, cursing the referee and putting up angry protests. I thought that might be the general reaction in Brazil and texted my Brazilian friends living in Brazil and Canada and all of them responded in the way the lady has responded.

I am still at loss at the reactions. I personally don’t have any Argentine friends but connected with a few of them on social media but the outcry of the Indian Argentine fans and the abusive languages they used towards Messi and his compatriots were shocking. There were posts, videos, memes and more targetting each team that has lost (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Argentina, Brazil) and who have a large number of followers in India and the subcontinent. I find it amusing that these fans consider themselves so involved with these teams that they behave outrageously when their team loses. But these teams are not really their teams, these players are not their own players. A long time in Indian cricket we have debated who the best player is and who the best Captain is and when fans get involved in these then it makes sense because they can easily connect with these players. But when I see on social media people from the subcontinent exchanging abuses between themselves for Real Madrid or Barcelona, Manchester United or Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal, AC Milan or Inter Milan then it makes no sense to me. I agree that you get emotionally involved with the team you follow and support but humanity should always come first, etiquette should come first, manners should come first and love should come first. Abusing players, teams and other human beings for winning or losing a game is a sign of losing one’s sanity.

I think as followers of sports, a lover of sports and an enthusiast of sports one should be careful with their fandom. There’s already too much hatred in the world, already too many fights in the name of organized religion, caste, race, colour, border, trade etc. etc. etc. Sports especially team sports like football (read soccer), hockey, rugby, cricket etc. has been shown to foster unity and kinship among people of different countries. Let’s not taint the image of fans of these great sports, let’s make a choice to show our frustration by congratulating the winning teams and not cursing them, let’s make the players and the teams proud, let’s evolve from the SANITY and  VANITY to have a different FANITY!!!!!!!!

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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.

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.