Monday, November 12, 2012

My problem with science

Even though it has been almost 5 years since I last wrote a post, something I read today really made me want to write about it. It's an adaptation of the commencement speech given by Richard Feynman at Caltech about 38 years ago! What's amazing is that it still seems so relevant, probably even more than before. I guess the timing of my reading it was pretty appropriate. I've been sitting here with my laptop, with my thesis proposal presentation half-done. I should've been working on it. Instead, I was caught up worrying about the implications of these experiments (tons of negative data and some apparently contradicting what others have published). Of course, these thoughts led to other 'bigger picture' questions:

"Do I enjoy doing experiments? Can I deal with this stress? Can I do this for a living? Can I do this for life?"

I really think you should read the lecture, especially if you're a scientist. I should admit that I haven't stated "my problem with science" as I mentioned in the title. It's just that this lecture is one the most well-written ones regarding this sensitive (if I may say so) topic and reflects my thoughts in a much better way than I could have ever done myself.

It's the last paragraph that really moved me.  It didn't answer any of my questions but it helped me realize that it's not the 'failing' experiments, the stress or the money that are the problem. It's beyond all of that. It's the way science is done. Having said that, I think I am a novice in the field and hope that my opinion is one of a pessimist's and not a realist's.

Here's the paragraph:

"So I have just one wish for you--the good luck to be somewhere
where you are free to maintain the kind of integrity I have
described, and where you do not feel forced by a need to maintain
your position in the organization, or financial support, or so on,
to lose your integrity. May you have that freedom."

Please tell me that there is some hope of finding that freedom and making science fun again.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Radio, someone still loves you

I have been in Bangalore for more than six months now. Working at a relatively small institute which is located in the outskirts of this city often gets very boring. Don't get me wrong...the people here are great and the work is stimulating (couldn't think of a milder word.) But, at the same time, it gets awfully monotonous.

I wake up at the same time to catch the same shuttle and sit among the same people who whine about lack of sleep and a sudden craving for food every single day. However, I must add here that it's the thought of a grilled cheese sandwich (with extra cheese) for breakfast that gets me out of bed. :P

BUT..within a few seconds of the bus journey, I am actually glad for having woken up early!

It's because the radio is invariably playing one of my favourite songs!! I don't know how many people would agree, but hearing an old favourite on the radio is quite exhilarating. Even though the radio often plays songs that are on my Winamp playlist, it's like getting a pleasant surprise every morning.

Radio Indigo is one of the few radio stations in India that plays international music. Any music lover who has lived in Bombay would understand the worth of having good English music on radio especially after the death of GO. The best part is that Radio Indigo plays great classics and doesn't leave the impression that most bands were one-hit wonders!

Nothing is as motivating as good music! Trust me, I feel like I can take over the world every morning :)

Thank you for the music…..

Oh, wait a second!

I need to whine about some stuff , though. I miss driving my car when I listen to great music and while I am at it, I might as well complain about the headset of my phone - one of the earphones doesn't work :(

Feel free to donate for a good cause.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Playing a guessing game with kids

My cousin went for a holiday to the U.S., this summer, with her kids. The one thing that had strikingly changed after their return was that her 2 & a 1/2 year old son (my nephew) had started talking in complete sentences. He described random events from his trip with a lot of enthusiasm. It seemed that his vocabulary had also expanded over the holidays. So, i decided to play a word guessing game with him. I would describe something to him and he would try to guess what I was hinting at.

Clue 1: What is the word for the place with all the controls for an airplane?
His answer: umm..AIRPORT! (not the word I was looking for :( )
Clue 2: No, I mean the place where the pilot sits to fly the plane...
His answer: The pilot's SEAT in the plane! (quite appropriate..but not what I had in mind!)

He could see that I was getting quite impatient and was running out of better ways to describe the, he interrupted my thought process and said this:
'Oh, you mean that place with all the FAKE switches to control a flying plane..the cockpit?!'
Yikes, where did he get that from? I don't EVER want to be on a plane with fake control switches...(Kids do say the darnest things!)

Turns out that he had seen one of those model cockpits at an airport in Baltimore and was quite fascinated by it.

This reminds me of another weird conversation that I'd had with my niece when she was around 2 years old. She was looking for something, but had no clue as to what it was called. So she decided to describe it to me, hoping that I'd understand what she was talking about. Here is what she said:
'Hey, do you know where I'd find that thing in which I can put a pencil and turn it around so that all the 'kachrapatti' (garbage) comes out?' (with appropriate gestures)

She was looking for a pencil sharpener!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Personal Chronicles

I've been sitting idle for what seems like eternity..'blogging' having been on my mind for a long while now. So, lazy me has finally gotten started on this space which will eventually feature a few digressions and occasional rantings...

What I have learned so far is that my memory is slightly unreliable and I do tend to imagine conversations and events that never really happened (rare but true).
Don't worry...I am not schizophrenic!


What I really fear is forgetting things that actually DID happen.
So I'm hoping that the Future Me will spend some time here and see the Present Me grow.

Hoping to keep blogging!