A Tough DECISION

Today I wanted to write about something, but did not have enough examples to substantiate my opinion so I decided to drop the topic. The itch to write was still there, so I started thinking about things that I could write about. Environment was a pretty good contender but I had missed the opportunity by almost a week, the Environment Day was on 5th of june and half of the world was busy writing something or the other about environmental protection that day. Moreover I felt ashamed of the fact that I had not planted even a single tree myself,whats the point in motivating others. I dropped the idea. It was Birsa Munda’s 115th death anniversary a few days ago,so I started writing about him. To my dismay I could not write more than a hundred words about him. Most the information that I could share was already in the news or wikipedia. As I could not pay him proper respects I decided to abandon this topic too. It would have been pointless to hover about the theme saying he was a ‘Santhal Rebel’ and a ‘martyr’. Everyone knows about it. Almost everyone. I am pretty sure. The way an idea gives birth another is really interesting. While I was pondering about Birsa Munda, his statue flashed in my memory, I had seen that statue several times on my way to school. It was a established to commemorate his sarifice for the nation. Suddenly I realised I could write about the great things that are available in my home town, Giridih. I started recollecting the names of all great men who were associated with Giridih. It was an enriching experience. It was like looking out for my own roots, almost Like BOURNE ULTIMATUM. The Harappans used to buy zinc from this region to convert copper into brass. 20 out of 24 Jain Tirthankaras have attained Moksha in Parasnath hills of Giridih. Later day great personalities have also lived here. Rabindranath tagore wrote his “Shivaji Utsav” while residing in Giridih, his house “Dawasika Bhawan” is still there. Sir J.C.Bose spent his last days in giridih while on the contrary Satyajit Ray spent his childhood in  Giridih. His hangover of this small town was so strong that one of his characters in his science fiction novels was made a resident of this town. His name was professor “Shonku” I hope I am not mistaken. I decided to leave this topic because of reasons that I have not discussed yet. The kind of image the reader would have conceptualized would have been far from true in the absence of proper photographs. The house of Rabindranath Tagore is ruined, school named after J.C.Bose is in tatters, there is not trace of Satyajit Ray in any form whether in culture or in writings,one of the oldest municipalities of India now has tons of muck infront of it. The apathy clearly visible. The sacred Parasnath Hills are infested with ‘Maoists’. Non-Violence is least expected there. It was not proper to make a flowery image of a far away land. Nor was it correct to say ill about something without any proof. the bottomline, I left this topic. Finally in lack of any option I decided to try my hands at creative writing. I thought of writing an essay with every sentence having only five words. Every sentence with five words. It was really very difficult. But I tried real hard. I was a bit successful. But repetition made it boring. The readers would have quit. Much before finishing the paragraph. I wanted them to read it. To make it interesting I couldn’t find any better way than to use longer sentences,with a few commas; a semi colon and finally a full stop. This was not strong enough to hold the readers so I decided to use words like bumfoozle,bamboozle and bimbo, they all have different tones and they strike a chord with the funny bones. I felt quite successful in my endeavour but on reading other’s blogs, I decided not to write again. The world is full of creative,intelligent and funny people,painfully some are a combination  of all these in one. I am not good enough to write and so I won’t write. It was a difficult decision but before I could notice I had finished writing almost 700 words.

HOMOSEXUALITY: The Debate Is Still On

Whenever a discussion starts on this topic we see stands ranging from mild to extremes. Some don’t care what the fuss is about, some are tolerant enough to accomodate everyone and others are Gay- Bashers who just can’t withstand a rainbow in the blue sky. I don’t know where do I lie in this spectrum, for I always need enough information before I make an opinion and I think as of now I do not have much knowledge in this context. Anyone who reads this post is free to comment and enlighten me at the bottom of this page. 

The gay bashers consider homosexuality as a disease or an anomaly, an abnormal behaviour. Their normal is narrow, very close to the line of hetero-sexuality and long standing social stigmas. The pro-homosexuals consider this as normal and postulate that in every animal population we have at least 20% of gays. What I feel here is that, we need a lot more of research in this area as it is full of arbitrariness. We all can easily see that definition of normal is arbitrary, definition of aberration is arbitrary, and the 20% hypothesis is arbitrary.

There is a question that whether homosexuality is genetic, physiological or environmental? If it is genetic, then what genes are responsible for this, can gene therapy convert a Homo into a Heterosexual, and should that therapy be called a “therapy” at all? If it is genetic then how is it transferred from one generation to another? We all know Homosexuals can’t reproduce! If it is a mutation then it is impossible to have a mutation rate as high as 20% in every population, if the rate of mutation is normal, then shouldn’t it be called a genetic aberration like we call Down’s syndrome or Klinefelter’s and look out for therapy?

If it is Physiological then where does this drive come from? Is it related to brain functioning? Or a hormonal imbalance? Or perhaps an inability to sniff out proper pheromones? Or is it due to environmental factors? If it is environmental then why does it affect the selected few? Or is because of the awareness about homosexuality; people are accepting it? Is it like tasting coffee which is bitter when you drink it the first time but makes your head spin once you are addicted to it?

We need to give equal weightage to all the parties and allay their respective fears through a dialogue based on scientific arguments. 

 

Delhi-ism

Once ‘Bihari’ meant ‘a fool’ in Delhi and that was the time when I came to delhi. Although, Bihar is a full fledged state with a historical past and bright culture, it had a very different connotation in Delhi. Probably it was because of the labourers who came to Delhi out of pauperism were unable to retaliate to the mockery. Instead of digging deep into the culture and history of a far away land an average delhiite prefers stereotyping. I always had to clarify that Jharkhand is not Bihar. The focus of Delhi has now shifted from Bihari, or Madrasi, to Chinki, and the North-Easterners are now facing the brunt. Nido Taniyam lost his life because of his unconventional hair style, a girl was molested at DU metro station I don’t know why, an ex-army man and his wife were beaten in their apartment in Munrika. All this happened, not because there is anything wrong in the north easterners, its because of lack of ability to accept something different.
Delhi has its own composite culture but I think it should be a little more accomodative and less sterotyping. Every outsider has to acclimatise to Delhi’s mannerisms. Shouldn’t then Delhi be a bit more flexible? In the next paragraph I would like to point out some of the Delhisms-i.e. things that you are going to find commonly in delhi but they may be a rarity elsewhere.

1. Mutter paneer chowmein- I bet even Xi Jinping didn’t know about it, until he visited Delhi. People love cheeze here,so they put it in everything from dosas to chole-bhature.
2. Socks with sandals- Its not a faux pas in Delhi,its rather a fashion statement. Some prefer white socks under black sandals. Isn’t that some style statement. The fashion police here beats to death a boy with an uneven haircut.
3. Seedha-Ulta haath: Right hand is straight hand and left one is inverted hand( or wrong hand according to some) in Delhi. If thats not enough, we have many other misleading directions here
4. Takkar pe=at the point of strike or at the site of hit…but in Delhi it means an intersection.
5. saath me= with, but here it means by the side of something
6. Laal batti= red light, in delhi it means all the three colors of traffic signal, imagine telling a bus driver” take a right turn, when you see a red light”
7. Then there is a special diction here, bulb is balab, park is parak, red is rad, bed is bad… definitely the accent is as dead as “Dad” here.

Now lets suppose an outsider asks a Delhiite for directions to the nearest eatery, he would get direction somewhat like this:

Walk “with” the trees, soon you will reach a “hitting spot”, take a turn to the side of your “wrong/inverted hand” after walking for a few “saconds” you will find a “rad light”, you can eat “mutter paneer chowmein” there.
Just think what would happen to someone who doesn’t know hindi well- a North Easterner or a South-Indian, they become a reverse laughing stock here.

Please Delhi please! Before making fun of someone, always remember ” Big brother is watching you”.

Today a quarter of a century ago

4th June 1989, does it ring a bell? 25 years ago, in china some youth were protesting against rampant corruption in the government. The protest was more or less peaceful, but government answered it with bombs and guns. When the parents of the protesters wanted to collect the bodies, they were stopped, and with tanks. People were crushed while sleeping in their tents. The location of this killing was Tiananmen square, so the the event is known all over the world as “Tiananmen Square massacre”.
There is only one place where this event is not talked about; and that is China. The propagandist state media changed the color of the protests as counter revolutionary agitation in which the the soldiers fought bravely against armed Anti-State extremists. I used to think that the new generation perhaps would never even know about it,for the chinese firewall has blocked everything related to 4th June 1989. The hysteria in the government against any such movement is to such an extent that once they concealed the fall in the index of Shanghai Stock Exchange, because it was at a low of 64.89, a number similar to 6th month 4th day of the year 1989.
Fortunately I was proven wrong, as its very difficult to silence intelligent people, who truly believe in higher ideals, they have come up with new code words for the protests like IVVI, i.e., 4th June in roman numerals.

May God save freedom of expression, everywhere ( atheists please help yourselves).

Dry wit

Two events full of wit that I find  worth sharing:

Our college fine arts society was having fun in the canteen when suddenly one junior made a triangle out of a straw. He asked me to describe a girl sitting infront of me, the only catch was that she should be described using triangle as the motif. It was very abstract. But I tried.
I said, if she would have been a triangle, “she must have been A-CUTE triangle”. To this she promptly replied, ya “He is RIGHT…..Triangle.”

Another funny incident was when my pocket money got over before the end of the month. Instead of asking my friend for money I said to him,” I despise my deplorable destitution”. To this he replied, ” I Prescribe you proactive prostitution”, indicating his disinclination towards lending money at the end of the month.

Physics is stranger than Meta-physics.

For some “reality is stranger than fiction”, but for me “Physics is stranger than metaphysics” . It seems incredulous to think about a situation in real life where our height fluctuates with every slight change in our vicinity. We never see ourselves, and for that matter someone else expanding and shrinking whenever a cricket ball is hit past us, which according to cosmic inflation hypothesis holds true. Oh, I forgot to mention, its not a hypothesis anymore, because scientists have already got a proof for that. Its a theory now.

According to this theory, the gravitational waves from the ball disturb the space-time continuum and cause fluctuations,but this can’t be seen or measured due to the small size of the ball. If we assume the ball to be made up of matter that makes the whole universe, the quantum of change would certainly be measurable. This is what the scientists have proved using the BICEP2 telescope. It was hypothesised that 10^-36 seconds after the big bang the universe was of the size of a proton but soon after( about 10^-33 seconds later) it was of the size of an orange. During this rapid expansion a lot of microwave(a type of electro-magnetic wave) was released and so were gravity waves. The microwaves due to their large quantity form the background, the gravitational waves interfere with the magnetic component of these miceowaves. (Recollect that microwaves are electeomagnetic wave with electric and magnetic fields attached to them).
This interaction between the two waves has already been registerd, providing us with a strong proof for cosmic inflation. This theory now holds a very important place in physics and astrophysics as it has established a link between quantum mechanics(microwaves) and special theory of relativity(gravitational waves). This makes it a great contender for next Nobel Prize in physics.
Now, coming back to the first paragraph,guys do you seriously believe it is really possible? Truthfully I can’t. Its so boring. Yawwwnnn!

Playing God

I distinctly remember the e-mail that my genome biology teacher ‘Dr.Vani’ sent us when I was in my Masters’ final semester . We were supposed to make a Minimum-Human-Genome, the e-mail ended with the phrase, “Enjoy playing God!” The whole class was divided into 4 groups, all of us worked independently and thus different group came up with different conclusions. One group said we can’t play God, the other said we don’t have enough information to play God, and one even came up with a prospective minimum-genome. I consider that project the most enriching experience of my 16 years of education.

Recently, I read in the newspaper that scientists in John Hopkins university tried something similar to what we had tried, and they were successful in it. They created a synthetic yeast chromosome. Why I am I considering yeast as something similar to humans? Because just like humans they are also a Eukaryote- an organism with bound cell organelles and an enclosed nucleus. The  synthetic chromosome is being called DIY chromosome and it was first created in-silico, which means its structure was first synthesized inside a computer. We all know that computer chips are made up of silicon,this is where the term in-silico has been derived from.

The Scientists at John Hopkins applied almost similar approach that we were using in our little project, they removed the unnecessary Introns, the repeating sequence at the ends-the telomere as well as some of the genes that were coding for Transfer-RNAs. It was because the yeast need only about 45 transfer RNA’s but they have them in an excess of approximately  400. The most pleasing thing for me was that, the yeast survived with the Chromosome that the team created. It has lived for almost 150 generations now. This is a proof that DIY chromosome is stable, and that we were on the right track.  Please don’t misunderstand that the discovery happened long ago, 150 generations have passed because of the short life span of yeast.

The success of this project has now made DIY chromosome project scientist-Jeff Boeke,the head of upcoming Synthetic Yeast genome Project. And its not very far away that similar Synthetic human genome project will be underway. But,till then all the best for playing  ” God of small things”.