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Science in daily life

Ever since a caveman rubbed two stones together and made fire, scientific discoveries have been altering the way humans live and interact with the world.

This National Science Day, we look at the focus of scientific research in India, to get an idea of where we might be headed.

The ultimate aim of science is to understand the phenomena of nature and use that understanding to devise ways of elevating our living. Let us make that process sustainable, so that there is much left of nature for future generations to explore.

National Science Day is celebrated in India on February 28, to mark the discovery of the Raman effect. The discovery was made by physicist Sir Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman in 1928.

For his discovery, Sir C.V. Raman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.

Medical research

Researchers from universities across India collaborated to develop an anti-cancer drug (Disarib) that is now ready for clinical trials. This study spanned diverse areas of research including biochemistry, molecular biophysics, pharmaceutical chemistry, genetics, computational biology, nanotechnology and bioinformatics, along with an exploration of the part that natural remedies play in the prevention of cancer.

Tuberculosis is another deadly disease that our researchers are fighting. Drug resistant strains of the TB bacteria are particularly hard to beat. Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru) have made path-breaking discoveries on how the bacteria become drug resistant. Based on this, a combination of antibiotics that can kill the TB bacteria has been formulated, that will save thousands of lives.

Astronomy and space science

Last year saw some breakthroughs in astronomy, as Indian scientists discovered a supercluster of galaxies and named it Saraswati. Estimated to contain billions of stars, planets, dark matter and much else that we do not know about, this will open up ways of understanding the mysteries of the cosmos.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)has been in the news a lot lately. Among its many achievements last year, ISRO launched the most number of satellites (104 to be precise) on a single flight. ISRO also launched its heaviest payload so far (a 3,136-kilogram communications satellite) as well as its smallest (4-gram space probes). The space probes are part of a programme aimed at exploring space beyond the solar system in search of extraterrestrial life.

Indigenous transistor

India’s technological missions are all set to get a bigger boost as researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, in collaboration with ISRO’s Semi-Conductor Labs, developed India’s first ever indigenous transistor called the BiCMOS. Expected to play a big role in the Internet of Things (IoT), this transistor will reduce our dependency on multinational semiconductor manufacturers, accelerating our defence and space programmes to a great degree.

Waste management

India has been leading the world with innovations in managing waste by segregating, composting and recycling. Prof. Rajagopalan Vasudevan was awarded the Padmashri for his patented method to use plastic for laying roads. Since plastic and tar are both derived from petroleum, they blend well. Not only does this stop plastic from polluting our land and water, it creates durable and lasting roads. However, this only takes care of existing plastic, and is not the long-term answer to plastic pollution. Just imagine, every bit of plastic that has ever been manufactured is still present on the earth in some form, as it takes hundreds of years to break down. It is up to young minds, such as yours, to stop using plastic that you will discard after a single use, like straws, disposable cutlery, carry bags, shiny gift wrap, and even balloons.

Meteorology

Monsoon is the backbone of the Indian economy, as it dictates everything from planning agriculture activities to urban water resources management. But the weather is notoriously fickle, and the Southeast monsoon, more so. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru) have developed a new technique that studies several phenomena such as atmospheric pressure, sea surface temperature, moisture content, and rainfall over a period of over 50 years. Correlating the date of the onset of the monsoon to the changes in patterns over the years, we can now predict the arrival of monsoon to an accuracy of four days!

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable technologies are not just popular right now, but critically essential, if the planet has to survive. Climate change is making its effects felt, with melting glaciers in the Himalayas, and erratic monsoon patterns. Agriculture is one of the contributors of climate change, with large forest lands making way for human habitat. Scientists at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (New Delhi), are laying the groundwork for ‘conservation agriculture’ which will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentally unfriendly practices such as crop burning will be stopped and more ‘climate-smart’ practices for soil enrichment will be in place. These include minimum soil disturbance, zero tillage, crop rotation, and retention of crop residues.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:50:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/science-in-daily-life/article22823056.ece

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