Dr Rajiv Desai

An Educational Blog

DERAILMENT

DERAILMENT: _______ _______ Prologue: A tremor was followed by a “loud sound like an earthquake”. The carriages began to shake and inside them, passengers began falling on each other. Some carriages telescoped into each other, others rose vertically, “almost standing upright”. In a major train derailment accident, at least 23 passengers were killed and over 60 injured when 14 coaches of the Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express jumped the rails in Khatauli, India at 5.45 pm on19 August 2017 as seen in the figure above. Indian Railways has had the most derailments in a decade in 2016-17: 78 derailments with 193 people dead. On September 14, 2017 (coincidentally my birthday) Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for $17 billion bullet train, the Jammu Tawi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express jumped the tracks at New Delhi station, the ninth derailment in 27 days, a consequence of […]

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SCIENCE OF TRUTH

Science of Truth: ______ _____ Prologue: I published article ‘The Lie’ on my website on June 5, 2010 wherein I showed how media lied for several decades by saying that Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe died ‘childless’ in the year 1962. “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth”, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Discussion on ‘lie’ is incomplete unless you discuss the ‘truth’. So what is truth?  The question is one of the most ancient in philosophy. It was famously posed by Plato, who asked whether there exist eternal truths or whether, to the contrary, man is the measure of all things. Diderot and d’Alembert, in their Encyclope´die (1751–1772), proposed a simple and straightforward answer: truth consists in conformity of our judgments with things. In other words, something is true when there is a fit between thought and object: This implies […]

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SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY (SYNBIO)

Synthetic Biology (synbio): _______ Scientists Elizabeth Allman and Kristin O’Brien teach a course in synthetic biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. O’Brien said that the goal of synthetic biology is not to build “better organisms” but rather to create biological machines. _______ Prologue: The advent of digital technology is considered one of the biggest revolutions of all time for how quickly and deeply it changed the world forever. Even more powerful revolution is coming, which goes under the name of synthetic biology. The potential of this discipline is very well understood in the biological scientific world. It is time I make general public aware of the impact it will have on our lives. Synthetic biology brings together a bewildering number of disciplines: biotechnology, molecular biology, systems biology, biophysics, computer engineering, genetic engineering, and more. Synthetic biology will allow scientists and engineers to create biological systems that do not occur […]

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

Artificial Intelligence (AI): _____ ______ Prologue: Mention Artificial Intelligence (AI) and most people are immediately transported into a distant future inspired by popular science fiction such as Terminator and HAL 9000. While these two artificial entities do not exist, the algorithms of AI have been able to address many real issues, from performing medical diagnoses to navigating difficult terrain to monitoring possible failures of spacecraft. In the early 20th century, Jean Piaget remarked, “Intelligence is what you use when you don’t know what to do, when neither innateness nor learning has prepared you for the particular situation.”  A 1969 McKinsey article claimed that computers were so dumb that they were not capable of making any decisions and it was human intelligence that drives the dumb machine. Alas, this claim has become a bit of a “joke” over the years, as the modern computers are gradually replacing skilled practitioners in fields […]

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ARE ORDINARY PEOPLE BAD?

Are ordinary people bad?  ________ _______ Let me start by giving 3 examples from India:  _ _ Example-1 On August 10, 2016 Matibool is on his way home from an overnight shift as a watchman, carrying a cellphone in his hand as seen in the figure above. It is dawn in Delhi. Suddenly, a speeding three-wheeled tempo barrels down on him from behind, knocking him into the air. The driver gets out, sees Matibool’s crumpled body and decides against even approaching him. In a matter of seconds, the driver is back in the truck, and away he goes. As Matibool lay bleeding for an hour, men and women riding in 140 cars and 82 rickshaws would avoid his dying body. So would 181 bikers and 45 pedestrians. At one point, an emergency response van used by the Delhi police drives by. A cycle rickshaw passes his body and stops a […]

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