Archive by date | April 2010

Spirit of inquiry

Reading an editorial by eminent Indian scientist Raghunath Anant Mashelkar in Science today, I wondered why asking questions of senior scientists in this country is seen as a mark of irreverence. In the recent past, I have come across some highly regarded scientists who thought it was inappropriate to question their findings. Contrary to the very spirit of science, they have chosen not to answer my queries or simply replied in monosyllables that amount to not answering. I know of colleagues who have had similar innocent questions bounced off such firewalls.  Read more

Polluting radiation

This week, questions were raised on India’s national regulations on radioactive waste disposal after a scrap dealer and six of his employees in the national capital were hospitalised with severe Cobalt-60 poisoning. The Mayapuri area of west Delhi became a ticking time bomb of sorts with new cases of radioactive poisoning being reported every day. All 800 shops in the scrap market were scanned and 10 sources of radioactive Cobalt-60 were found.  Read more

Transgenic cock-a-doodle

First we had the the transgenic mice made using a technique that eliminates the need for hundreds of mice eggs or sacrificing the rodents post-experiment. In short, a deathless technique. Scientists at the National Institute of Immunology at New Delhi made the transgenic animals inserting genes in the testicular germ cells (spermatogonia) of mice through a process called in vivo electroporation or passing mild current for a fraction of a second. The technique would help every biologist generate his own transgenic animals at low cost without the help of specialised labs.  Read more

Heart bomb ticking

A new survey — the largest ever that has tried to know what kills Indians most — has pushed communicable diseases down in the list of biggest killers. It has been reported that heart ailments are actually accountable for maximum mortality in rural and urban India put together. Cardiac diseases have emerged as the number one killer.  Read more