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A random walk through chemistry-related topics and the joys and pains of research

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Science is a Guessing Game

One of the students in my wife’s religious studies course wrote: If the Hindu religion were compared to Science, the Upinshads would embody core scientific principles like skepticism, an attempt to prove theories wrong, a recognition of the unknown, and individual experimentation…while the Vedas would be the current body of work, or current theory....

Microspiders

Our latest paper on designing nano/microbots has earned a lot of publicity in the last few days , . What we reported in the paper was that one can attach polymerization catalysts to microspheres and these start to move around in the presence of the monomer as a result of polymer formation. Also, they are able to “sense” and move up a gradient of the...

Magic

I have started to hate the word, magic. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as follows: The use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. While I love magic tricks, I can’t stand physical processes or operations of gizmos described as magic. To me, what it says is that we are too dumb to understand...

Why Do We Do Science? (contd.)

Wow! My last post elucidated a lot of comments! The comment by Richard Williams raises some interesting issues. The first is a lifestyle issue. As our twenty-something daughter puts it: I can’t imagine being stuck in a small college town where you mostly interact with people exactly like you; it sounds so limiting, which is exactly what this generation...

Why Do We Do Science?

Our daughter wrote to me recently: “How do scientists studying the core subjects like chemistry, physics, biology, etc., feel about the rise of Silicon Valley, in terms of taking away possible talent? I think in the cold war era, there was coolness and urgency around the core sciences that attracted bright people, which has shifted away towards websites...

Research Funding

The post-election power shift in the U. S. has led to a lot of concerns about possible cuts in science funding. Kaushik Datta’s post nicely summarizes many of the concerns. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is offering a webinar with the title: “Election 2010: What do the U.S. mid-term elections mean for science?” Similar...

Women in Science (contd.)

Several readers of my previous post on the subject, Jo Stichbury, Sarah Chow, and Jane de Lartigue brought up the issue of lack of role models for young women thinking of going into science. Girls who are academically smart are thought to be un-cool nerds. Actually, although I happen to be of the other gender, I too would hate to be considered nerdy...

Women in Science

Our daughter recently send me a blog post about how to keep girls interested in science . The comments in response to the blog were in some ways even more interesting. Many blamed bad math/science teachers for turning girls away from science. As our daughter wondered, there is no shortage of bad teachers in the liberal arts is there? Quite a few comments...

The Memory Gap

The fundamental goal of our micro/nanobots project is to uncover the set of rules that allows one to mimic some of the basic functions of living systems. Living systems are characterized by organized behavior. This requires three basic elements: Memory, individual and group; ability to move directionally, sensing and taxis; communication, collective...

Scientists are Paranoid (Continued)

When I wrote my blog Scientists are Paranoid a few months ago, I did not anticipate that I would soon be a first-hand witness to a perfect example of what I was saying. With great fanfare, the candy maker Mars and their associates announced last week the deciphering of the genome sequence of the cacao tree, the source of chocolate. Almost immediately,...

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