Monday, October 30

Intelligent design: aren't we the smartest species!!

Sometime back I attended this talk by Dr.Maxine Singer
I went to the talk thinking it was going to be about biochemistry, cell biology....etc etc (Mind you I did read the title, but it never occured to me for even a second that it was a talk about intelligent design mainly for undergraduates!) So, entering a room full of undergraduates who seemed totally clueless was sort of amusing, I mean you could tell that they have been forced to attend (I am sure those who attended got a few extra points!). Lecture was not that great, at least I did not find it to be one. But her talk did make me think about "ID", Dover case so on and so forth. I was astounded that a mighty good number of people want to include ID in science classes. What is scientific about creationism? I mean these are literate people arguing for ID to be taught in a science class. Now how much sense can you put such people?
What more, if you visit this organization that supported the defendants in Dover case, it is even more mysterious. What interests this society might have in order to support "intelligent design"? I cannot answer any of these questions nor can I put my thoughts down coherently about this issue.

Oh btw, I did try to read the 139-page judgement report (dover case): I guess I must have been really naive to do is a legal document, for heaven's sake!

Friday, October 27

Embarrassment- a random trivia or not!

There was interesting article in American Scientist

This piece talks about what is embarrasment and what role does it play in society. First of all, I did not even realize that there are people who actually work on something like embarrasment- I mean, come on it is sometimes so hard to share with your closest ones those very embarrasing moments, let alone think about it from a scientific stand point! Second of all, as I was reading it, it occured to me that I dont remember any embarrasing moments that I might have had (I am sure I have). Well, my friends might remember though...anything against me right people!!! Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that animals also seem to share this emotion, they get embarrassed too!! "Evolution of psychology is as conserved as biology is between species" (I read this somewhere, cant remember where..). This to me is a profound statement because a) it tells us there is something beyond our smart brains and the way we emote, that makes us distinct from other million (random number obviously) different species and b) it should humble us even more- animals are smart (we already knew this), if not smarter and they have emotions too- anger, jealousy and now embarrassment.
Anyway now I am off to try and remember at least a couple of embarrassing moments and I leave you guys smirk at your own or even share it with someone and have a good laugh
Bonne nuit!!

Saturday, October 21

Deepavali: a piece of my writing- Beware its sort of sad!

Its damn Diwali time again, she mused to herself. She could have said it aloud and the walls would have roared back in amusement as they stood still watching her go through this plight. She was going through a plethora of ambivalent emotions- should she be happy that its festive time again or should she moan and fret about the mishappenings of the past which, she cannot do anything about. There was no one who could help her (even if there was someone and they indeed wanted to help, at least that is what she told me!), after all she was living alone in a strange city. Her parents were in Agra and so were her most of her friends. She remembered that it was her choice to take up the job in this strange city and that it was not even to her liking. She wanted to continue with it just because it gave her the time she needed to think, rethink and recount many times how her life drastically changed in the summer of 2000. It gave her what she needed most- some space. As she drew closer to her friend's place for a Diwali dinner party, she resented herself for having agreed to the invitation. She needed some more time to get back to normal, she concluded and decided to turn back. She would have unless her eyes caught the joy of two small children trying to light a wet fire cracker. They were so amused that nothing could stop them enjoying the moment they were in. Suddenly they seemed invincible, larger than life figures to her- she wanted to break free and let go off the past. Neither did she turn back nor did she go over to her friend's place, but she did shove all her thoughts for another time...

We never know when or why changes happen- but they happen, for better or for worse. We, as a mere life form on this earth have to just keep on going as best as we could!

PS I know this piece of writing is strange- no beginning or an end but that is how I write!!

Wednesday, October 18

Fusion music- are you ready?

This past Saturday, my roommates and I went for Pt.Hariprasad Chaurasia's Celestial Symphony at Lisner Auditorium in DC. But for the fact that we paid $25+5.75 (Convenience charges if you buy tickets from ticketmaster), the concert was good. It was really interesting to overhear conservations about how the concert was. There were quite a few people who thought that tabla did not go well with the fusion. Surprising they would say that because the "tabla maestro" Zakhir Hussain was one of the first few musicians to do symphonies. I personally thought the symphony was very good- the compositions were well made, set to a fast beautiful rhythm. The only problem was the sound for the tabla was a little too much in the first half. A very different and interesting addition was a Kathak performance- it was good!

So I was googling about such symhponies and it was rather surprising to know that Pandit Ravi Shankar was almost the first musician to create such symphonies with jazz musicians (the first person I think was Panditji's guru), this was back in the 50's.

Whatever said, I realized any sort of music pleased my senses and I felt awkward coz I seemed the only person who kept tapping her feet, nodding her head and following the taal very energetically.

Saturday, October 14

Science was ...or!!

Sorry about this strange title, that is exactly how I feel especially now that I am far into my PhD. There was reason for me being where I am right now (doing a PhD)- I just love to understand what happens inside of us or any organism for that matter, anything to do with biology triggers an unknown emotion. Interestingly learning so, has and will continue to humble most people. Science was not professionalized until late 19th century (around the time when Darwin proposed his theories of evolution). Not suprisingly, when the one of the first research journals was established, it was ridiculed- researchers thought it was an absurd concept of having to publish their work! Now 2 centuries later, most of what a scientist wants are publications and grants ofcourse, probably there are not be fully blamed eh?! In this mad game of publishing and getting more grants, looks like PIs have lost sight of what brought them to this field. The concept of philosophizing is almost non-exisistent. What is even more disconcerting is the fact that they are passing it on their students..."Just do the experiments, get your data...we will talk about everything else later" seems to be the norm. I really hope this changes, for people like me are here to have fun and lots of it.

Friday, October 6

Acadia National Park- a visual treat!

The weekend trip to Acadia national park was worthwhile. We (6 of us) reached the park on Saturday morning and right away headed for the "Precipice trail"- well the name should have told us something. We had let the most experienced people in our group make the decision of choosing where to hike and they CHOSE precipice. Although it was amazing, I still have to complain...come on they are my roommates!! So, they knew the trail was "the most strenous" and as we started out we realized it was a vertical hike on the face of this ~1000ft mountain. And for a person like me who is just not a heights person...the first time I had to put my feet on the ladder to get on with the trail was a nightmare, after that c'rse I was the pack lead (I am quite proud of that). We also took a longer trail back to get down to the park loop. But folks, there were some amazing views of the ocean, lakes and general wilderness. It began to get cold by about 4PM. The trip to Bar Harbor town to have a decent, not-so expensive meal was just wasteful (the entres were about $20 and guess what...hurray to pizza!). Oh food reminds me of this country restaurant where we stopped for lunch (it was in East Corinth in Maine)-boy they gave us so much food, all of us lost our apetite, it was a really a lot of food for cheap price! This photograph is just so that you guys can have a depth perception- it is ledge and if I let go off the railing..... ram nam satya hai ho jata mera yaaron (for those unfortuates who dont understand Hindi- it translates to "I might die"). If you dont believe me- look at the caution sign below, the last couple of lines say "People have been seriously injured or even die".

If you get a chace folks, you should definitely visit the park, every season has something new to offer!