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On a mission to popularise scientific research

Staff Correspondent

`Interest should be developed in students by discussing stories about scientists'

IN SERVICE OF SCIENCE: Eminent scientist C.N.R. Rao interacting with schoolchildren at the CFTRI auditorium in Mysore on Saturday. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

MYSORE: Interest in basic science may have seen a decline among the present generation. But eminent scientist and Linus Pauling Research Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) C.N.R. Rao is on a mission to woo children to the realm of scientific research.

Addressing children from various schools at Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) auditorium here on Saturday, the internationally renowned scientist highlighted the importance of undertaking research in science. He spoke about the evolution of modern science and its impact on society.

The lecture was organised by the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science, CFTRI, JNCASR, Bharath Gyan Vignan Samiti, Department of State Education Research and Training, and Department of Education. The lecture, "Learning Science", was an eye opener about the facets of scientific research for many children.

Human endeavour

Introducing science through stories, examples of scientists and their discoveries, Prof. Rao's lecture emphasised how science is a human endeavour. Delving on the growth of science, he termed the 1920s as the Golden Age of Science when many outstanding contributions were made to the field of science.

Taking children through interesting stories of scientists and their inventions, he said, awareness on new specialized fields such as rocket science and x-ray was created in India in the 20th century.

Giving an illustration, he said while only 10 elements were known to people during 16th century, it was 20 in 18th century. By 20th century, 114 elements had been discovered. In fact, he said, "Modern chemistry really started with the understanding of chemical bonds." Explaining the hypothesis on the origin of life on earth, he said scientists believe that lightning transformed inorganic molecules to the simplest single form of life in the ocean.

On the reasons for decline in interest in pure sciences, he said the interest should be ingrained by teachers in students by discussing interesting stories about scientists and their contributions.

Children on their part should be dedicated, curious, and inquisitive to undertake scientific research. Research, he pointed out, was not restricted by age barrier.

Prof. Rao felt that the country was spending excessively on fuels.

Across the world, serious research was being undertaken on hydrogen as an element for converting to automobile fuel. The nearly hour long lecture held hundreds of children in rapt attention as Prof. Rao explained path-breaking research and the scientists behind them. The CFTRI Director V. Prakash was present.

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