Teach Students the ‘Value’ of Science

A dialogue on the theme ‘Restructuring Education and Research’ was held as a part of Nobel Dialogue series at Kala Academy on February 2. The session was moderated by K Vijay Raghavan and the panelists for the discussion were Tomas Lindahl (Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2015) and Serge Haroch (Nobel Prize in Physics in 2012).

Speaking on how interactions between students and researchers should take place in a country like India, Serge Haroch said that India has a good education system and students should be taught how science has the ability to solve problems of mankind and also on the universal value of science.

When asked whether scientific views are self-questioning, Lindahl stated that scientists are not the people that sit in front of the computers for hours. In fact, they interact with people and also tend to make mistakes, on which they work thoroughly and that is what eventually leads them to discoveries.

Replying to a query based on first direct detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) which won the Nobel prize in Physics in 2017, Haroch said that gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. Einstein’s mathematical illustrations showed that accelerating objects such as neutron stars or black holes would radiate energy by creating distortion in space these ripples created through distortion would travel at the speed of light through the Universe, carrying with them information about their cataclysmic origins, as well as invaluable clues to the nature of gravity itself.

To a question why only a few diseases have been eradicated or prevented through vaccination and diseases like AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis lack any such preventive measures. Lindahl replied, that when harmful strains of bacteria invade our bodies, our immune system produces antibodies that identify the intruders by the specific carbohydrate structures coating them. Some strains, however, have coatings that mimic the carbohydrate structures found in our own cells, and this disguise allows them to evade detection by antibodies.


Pic Credit: Hemant Parab