Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What problem to choose ?

Well.. I am in IISc banglore here. And there was a talk by Nobel Prize Winner Richard Ernst. The lecture was NOT about science, it was about what science should be about. The title of the talk was " Scientists, the caretakers of the future". This casts scientists in an amazing heroic light.. He was of the opinion that scientists should not just remain in the ivory towers. (The actual words he used was underground shafts but ivory towers is less demeaning.. :D.) He was of the opinion that science should not just be limited to advancement of science but also of society, and not just in the area of technology development or health etc. He was talking about social outlook, and social outlook in the sense of accepting responsibility for society, social welfare and thinking beyond self goals and self interests !!! He talked a lot about how the consumerist economy of the developed countries dictates the world market, companies stimulate desires for things that we don't really need, he gave examples of such products. It was an extremely interesting point of view to take about the world. It reminded me very strongly about Indian Philosophy.. :D Karma Yoga, Realisation that ones own ego and its existence is the least important. This was the first time I have a heard a western scientist talk of such things, he said that we as scientists have a responsibility to educate the young in the way of open ended thinking, thinking of science not just for science's sake but also its impact on the everyday life that we could bring about. I am of the opinion that he was NOT talking about developing more comfortable ways of spending life, but he was talking about looking at science as a tool to enhance life of everybody. He actually showed a model of social behaviour that was centred around achieving self goals, and he was talking about model where we work and I quote "We work not expecting anything in return, we work out of a sense of responsibility towards the society'. He himself confessed that he was deeply and profoundly moved with tibetian buddhist philospohy, maybe that was root of all this talk.
This led me thinking, he even touched upon this facet... What problems should a scientist choose to address ? Should we think of career when defining our area of research ? Is 'cutting edge' so necessary all of us should strive for it ? I know that we all want to work in the best of your fields, but the best of our fields should not be defined by academic inaccessibility or location of research or economic returns of the research. That is point which made the most impression on me, economic value of a piece of science to society does NOT mean that that piece of science is helping society. it might just cater a cascade of new consumerism and does not teach responsibility to the people of their actions.Look at the US, they enjoyed a very long period of economic stability and affluence for about 40 years. ( 40s - 80s this is my belief not necessarily a verified fact) and look at what nonsense they have come up with in their lives. So many things to make life 'easier and more comfortable' but what shit have they done to the environment ? more than compared to the rest of the world in the 20 years following that. A scientist should choose a problem for the following reasons :
1. It is enjoyable to solve that problem
2. That problem should not build an ivory tower around itself
3. The point is for the future of humanity, anything that can ensure survival of humanity for the next 100 years or so is a good thing.If your problem is helping this go ahead, otherwise please stop and reconsider.
Teaching is one thing, really educating is another. This is maybe to ideal and unfortunately survival and economics take the upper hand always.But that does not mean it is not doable and if it is the only way to survive it has to be done. Scientists talk a lot about noble beliefs and so on, but the all important funding comes majorly from government or private groups that obviously have expectation of some returns from their investment. But this man was talking of educating the 'society' in accepting responsibility for consequences of their actions. He believes that we as scientist could do some difference because we are privy to infrastructure and information processing many are not ( i am not talking of computing and network or journal access here) but a company of minds that can think, project, and hence make a better impact on shaping the younger generations. I mean scientists can get together and help policy makers change their minds, and people will listen because we are scientists, we are supposed 'to know' right ?
Think about what problem to choose carefully. Scientists I believe are gifted individuals who have the capacity to solve problems. The point is to use this ability not for any 'gain' but for enhancement and ensuring the survival of humanity. Enhancement does NOT mean living in affluence, it just means having a society that is made up of individuals who are responsible, open minded.
A person does not have to be intelligent to imbibe all this, just open enough to look beyond their own boundary. As scientist we often do that. giving all out for a problem without caring for food or drink ( Mr. Einstein comes to mind here ) is an an example of that. Doing phd from princeton because it will get me a good post doc is idiotic, it is practical but does not achieve anything to anyone except that person. Doing phd in solving a problem makes more sense because solving it might lead to enjoyment of science and enhancement of life. Science is career oriented, it should be problem oriented. Big lab scientists are revered as gods, they are... but only based on their achievement in science. not because they head dept. of something in harvard. Professionalism is correct, but only when conducting meetings for funding agencies, never for research, never for applying to labs, never for making personal impressions on people hoping to get selected or recommended by them. This seems ideal but that does not make it wrong. please think about this...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

to burn for something...

lately I have been feeling a little left out of life
It seems programmed you know, grow up, get a job and a wife...
but this living is not living...
what is living if I don't yearn for something ?
I am alive only If I burn for something...
consumed in passion for that one quest
I want to be washed away in that tempest
yet my anchors don't loosen so I can't give it all
I can run to the edge but am still afraid to fall
what I burn for has to be the purest of the pure
anything lower I cannot endure
The hardest journey, the darkest places
the most feared, the most cruel faces
burning my hopes, my dreams, my desires,
burning in this biggest and hottest of all fires,
being burnt beyond the last of my excuses
After that truth triumphs, everything else refuses
to exist and then there is freedom complete
engorged on infinite peace I will be replete...
After I am gone, when this image is lost
you know they might say "
yes he was a fool who yearned for something
impossibly hard to get, still he burned for something.."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The bubble that won't break....

Irridiscent colors a raging storm
all hated, all loved, all mine
had a feel of the void, so this burrowing worm
tries to crawl out, out of time
seeing it all, knowing its fake
I still am trapped..
in a bubble that won't break

Am told faith and guru is strength untold
that I should believe and I will behold
the glorious truth that is out there
everytime, everyplace, everywhere and nowhere
But how will I, who won't believe in me ?
ever believe a guru and ever be free ?
Screaming in silence, in this world so fake
I still am trapped...
in the bubble that won't break

The wrongs of me, the chains of my faults
suffering from self righteousness, unforgiving
begging for mercy, kept locked in vaults
not moving on to continue living
What do I do now, how long will it take ?
to be free of..
this bubble that won't break

If its just a bubble then why should I care ?
Just drop it all, stand naked and win ?
Why is it that I cannot dare
to drop all masks, stand happily and grin ?
contemplating death, a stupid way out
another wall within, the void still without
Is this really the way to be ?
and what really is at stake ?
that I still choose to be
in this bubble that won't break ?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

my work.. ( or a heroic representation of it.. )

i create codes.. not understood by all..
i seek language and patterns in a 4 letter universe
the information is there i can almost sense it..
the answer is there.. mocking me with time...

the 4 letters conceal the truth
lying to each other, in effect to me
some behave while others mis..
my wits against their order...

i struggle to calculate
the sense from the non-sense
the battle is won....
when the plot is deciphered..

Stranger in a Strange land...

Looking at the world
through clouded glasses
Seeing boundaires & worries,
small worlds, one for each
Worlds collide, yet none change,
Why ? I do not understand
it seems i am..
A Stranger in a Strange land

Charted territory, a patchwork of maps
No rhyme no reason but rife with gaps
people too happy or too scared to step out
of their patch and reach with their hand...

Being 'practical' is glorifying
but are just instincts of survival !!
being 'emotinal' seems horrifying
so reason begins to unravel
I see al this & I see its end
they don't heed me,
have blinkers on my friend
I say,
Step out and see, just take my hand
but .. who will follow
A Stranger in a Strange land ?

People tell me ' why look outside ?'
'just stay in your patch and prosper'
I say' building towers within walls, to see farther away,
is a rule of cowardice I will always betray'
I don't understand the world nor do I expect it to understand me
Yet I accept the world, so why does It not accept me ?

I speak of this and carry ' fool' as my brand
Inspite of being right..
I guess I really am
A Stranger in a Strange land...

About Me

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just your regular guy who dreams too much. i read a lot don't remember it all though.. swim, trek, yoga.. think and read more.. that about sums it up..