Thursday, March 09, 2006

Science Today - Can you understand it?

Politics, Cricket and religion - I thought these were the only topics Indians could talk and argue about in public. I therefore perked up my ears when I heard a discussion on a bus on, hold your breath, "How understandable is today's science?"

I got interested and decided to join the conversation. The key message that I could understand was that science and the society were growing apart from each other and we no longer have true scientific greats who can bridge the two worlds. Men like Richard Feynman, Bohr and our own Bose. Another point that disturbed me was that scientists are no longer considered above reproach, morally speaking. There have been numerous instances where scientists have made false claims or supporting unscrupulous companies and governments that their credibility has become eroded.

Adding to the confusion are the raging debates on some of the cutting edge tools of science - Human cloning, genetically modified crops, stem-cell research. Are these valuable tools to aid humanity or marketing conspiracies by influential organizations? A case in point is the recent Avian Flu panic. While governments have chosen to spend millions buying vaccines and cures from a few companies, many human rights activitists are claiming that this is a big hoax to mint money (see "THE SCARE OF EPIDEMICS: What is the reality of the avian flu?" at

Who will speak for science and humanity? Does our education system churn out people who can think of nothing beyond neutrons and betablockers or people who beileve that science is a way to help humanity progress?

We need answers to these questions and we need them fast.


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