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Some of the most profound statements on the nature of science have come from Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time. What do you think Einstein meant when he said: "The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible"?

The physical world is complex in nature. The biological world also has its own complexities. Moreover, different orders of magnitudes in measurements are involved in space, time and mass. Inspite of this, all physical phenomena can be expressed in terms of a few basic laws. There are few fundamental laws like the conservation laws which are applicable and valid both at the macroscopic, astronomical or subatomic scales. Whether it is the complex nature of phenomena occurring, or the enormous variance in thenagnitude of measurements, the physical world with its amazing variety of different types of occurances , lends itself to be explained by few governing laws. Thus the most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.


'Every great physical theory starts as a heresay and ends as a dogma'. Give some examples from the history of science to support the validity of this incisive remark.

Dogma is an established opinion, which is questioned by only a few, while heresay means anything, which is against the established belief,few that creates ripples in the minds of the intelligent. 
For example, Thomas Young's wave theory of light started as a heresay and finally ended as a 'dogma', while Einstein and others replaced it by the quantum theory of light.


'Politics is the art of the possible'. Similarly, 'Science is the art of the soluble'. Explain this beautiful aphorism on the nature and practice of science.

Science is a systematized study of observations. A scientist critically analyses these observations and comes out with certain laws. 
For example, Tycho Brahe worked for twenty long years to make observations on planetary motions. It is from this huge reservoir of observations that Johannes Kepler formulated his three famous laws of planetary motion. 


Though India now has a large base in science and technology, which is fast expanding, it is still a long way from realizing its potential of becoming a world leader in science. Name some important factors, which in your view have hindered the advancement of science in India.

The main factors which have hindered India's march towards becoming a world leader in science and technology are:

(i) The young scientists and technologists are denied academic freedom, which is so very necessary for making advances in the areas of science and technology. 

(ii) There is excess of administrative interference in management of research and technology. 

(iii) There is practically no co-ordination between the researchers and the industrialists. The industrialists are the actual consumers of new research and technology. The industrialists of this country have little confidence in the ability of the Indian scientists. He prefers to import technology from advanced countries. 

(iv) There has been a large-scale migration of scientists and technologists to more advanced countries.

(v) There is lack of professionalism in research institutes. Research students are totally dependant on their guides for their progress and are also subject to their vagaries..

(vi) The financial compensation given to research scholar is insufficient for a decent living and hence the student tries to do something and leave the institute rather than satisfy academic challenges and curiosities.

(vii) The reservation policies of the government to please certain sections of the society has resulted in compromising quality and students with lesser qualifications and abilities enter the areas of higher studies. As a result, they are unable to cope up with the demands of research studies or end up doing sub-standard work.



No physicist has ever 'seen' an atom. Yet, all physicists believe in the existence of atoms. An intelligent but superstitious man advances this analogy to argue that 'ghosts' exist though they have not been seen no one has 'seen' one. How will you refute his argument?

The existence of atoms, though atoms can never be seen, have been proved. The trace that atoms, and subatomic particles leave have been observed in many experiments. Many phenomena, which depend upon the existence of atoms, have been predicted and actually observed in everyday life. There is no phenomenon, which can be explained on the basis that ghosts exist though they are not seen.


The shells of crabs found around a particular coastal location in Japan seem mostly seemed to resemble the legendary face of a Samurai. Given below are two explanations of this observed fact. Which of these strikes you as a scientific explanation?
(a) A tragic sea accident several centuries ago drowned a young Samurai. As a tribute to his bravery, nature through its inscrutable ways immortalized his face by imprinting it on the crab shells in    that area.
(b) After the sea tragedy, fishermen in that area, in a gesture of honour to their dead hero, let free any crab shell caught by them which accidentally had a shape resembling the face of a Samurai. Consequently, the particular shape of the crab shell survived longer and therefore in course of time the shape was genetically propagated. This is an example of evolution by artificial selection. 

After the sea tragedy, fishermen in that area, in a gesture of honour to their dead hero, let free any crab shell caught by them which accidentally had a shape resembling the face of a Samurai. Consequently, the particular shape of the crab shell survived longer and therefore in course of time the shape was genetically propagated. This is an example of evolution by artificial selection. 


The industrial revolution in England and Western Europe more than two centuries ago was triggered by some key scientific and technological advances. What were these advances?


Prior to 1759 AD when the Industrial Revolution took place, simple tools and machines were used. But the Industrial Revolution introduced the use of new machinery. Some of the outstanding contributions of the industrial revolution were: 

(i) steam engine

(ii) blast furnace, which converts low grade iron into steel

(iii) cotton jenny, which separates the seeds from cotton three hundred times faster than by hand

(iv) power loom etc.


It is often said that the world is now witnessing a second Industrial Revolution, which will transform the society as radically as it did the first time. List some key contemporary areas of science and technology, which are responsible for this revolution.

The key areas, which will transform the present society are

(i) super fast computers

(ii) internet and tremendous advancement in information technology

(iii) biotechnology

(iv) super conductors development of super-conducting materials at room temperature, etc.


Write in about 100 words, a fiction piece based on your speculation on the science and technology of the twenty-second century.


Let us imagine a spaceship moving towards a distant star, 500 light years away. Suppose this is propelled by solar power fed into the electric motor consisting of super-conducting wires. In space, suppose there is a particular region, which has such a high temperature that destroys the super-conducting property of the electric wires of the motor. At this stage, another spaceship filled with matter and anti-matter comes to the rescue of the first ship and the first ship continues on its journey.


Attempt to formulate your 'moral' views on the practice of science. Imagine yourself stumbling upon a discovery, which has great academic interest but is certain to have nothing but dangerous consequences for the human to the society. How, if at all, will you resolve your dilemma?


A scientist aims at truth. A scientific discovery reveals the truth of nature. So, any discovery, useful or dangerous to mankind, must be made public. Every discovery can be put to both positive and negative use. It is left to the mankind to use it for the betterment of the people, society, to improve the quality of living or to use it for destruction, A discovery, which appears dangerous today, may become useful to mankind sometime later. In order to prevent misuse of scientific technology, we must build up public opinion against the misuse of a scientific discovery. Scientists should in fact take up two roles - to discover truth and to prevent its misuse.


Science, like any knowledge, can be put to good or bad use, depending on the user. Given below are some of the applications of science. Formulate your views on whether the particular application is good, bad or something that cannot be so clearly categorized:

(a) Mass vaccination against small pox to curb and finally eradicate this disease from the population. (This has already been successfully done in India).

(b) Television for eradication of illiteracy and for mass communication of news and ideas.

(c) Prenatal sex determination.

(d) Computers for increase in work efficiency.

(e) Putting artificial satellites into orbits around the Earth.

(f) Development of nuclear physics.

(g) Development of new and powerful techniques for chemical and biological warfare. 

(h) Purification of water for drinking.

(i) Plastic surgery.

(j) Cloning.


(a) The smallpox virus kills many and those who survive get permanently disfigured. Therefore, mass vaccination against small pox is good.

(b) Television, for the removal of illiteracy and for mass communication of news and ideas is good.

(c) Prenatal sex determination is not good, should be legally banned.

(d) Computers increase not only the efficiency of work, but results in globalization.

(e) Launching of artificial satellites around the Earth is good. It has got a number of uses, which are never accessible by conventional methods.

(f) Nuclear weapons result in mass destruction of people, buildings and factories. They are not good and nations should be prohibited from using them.

(g) Development of new and powerful techniques for chemical and biological warfare is not good. They are generally misused.

(h) Purification of drinking water is good, essential and is the need of the hour.

(i) Plastic surgery is good.

(j) Cloning is good, with specific reference to medical application where it can be used for curing ailments.


India has had a long and unbroken tradition of great scholarship in mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, logic and ethics. Yet, in parallel with this, several superstitious and obscurantistic attitudes and practices flourished in our society and unfortunately continue even today among many educated people too. How will you use your knowledge of science to develop strategies to counter these attitudes?


(i) In order to popularize scientific explanations of everyday phenomena, mass media like radio, television and newspaper should be used.

(ii) School books should include explanations regarding day-to-day experiences in life.

(iii) Students and youngsters should be encouraged to try and offer scientific explanation for many a so-called perplexing events and beliefs.


Though the law gives women equal status in India, many people hold unscientific views on a woman's innate nature, capacity and intelligence and in practice give them a secondary status and role. Demolish this view using scientific arguments and by quoting examples of great women in science and other spheres and persuade yourself and others that given equal opportunity women are on par with men.


The women, by nature are good at multi tasking, more efficient, and committed to any job they are at. The present day society has established that be it any field, education, banking, governance, politics, medicine, IT, engineering, architecture, aerodynamics, space flights, in every walk of life, women are excellent at their jobs.

The nutrition content of pre-natal and post-natal diet contributes a lot towards the development of human mind. If equal opportunities are afforded to both men and women, then this disparity in the efficiency between the male and the female would disappear.


'It is more important to have beauty in the equations of physics than to have them agree with experiments'. The great British physicist P.A.M. Dirac held this view. Criticize this statement. Look out for some equations and results in this book, which strike you as beautiful.


P.A.M. Dirac's statement is contradicting in every sense of the word. Let us explain this with the help of a Shakespearean sonnet. Shakespeare's sonnets cannot be understood by any lay man. Hence, they are not appreciated by all. But a student of literature, who truly understands the underlying meaning behind his words, finds his sonnets beautiful. 
Similarly, an equation becomes beautiful only if it is understood. It can be understood, provided it has been proved through the scientific method of experimentation. Hence, an equation can be endowed with beauty only if it has been scientifically proved. A basic equation in physics that agrees with an experiment must necessarily be simple and therefore beautiful. 

Following are some beautiful equations from this book are:
(i) Einstein's Photoelectric equation:
                           E = mc2

(ii) Newton's second law of motion:
       or                  F = ma


What do you understand by the term "scientific method"?

The study of science in general and physics in particular is based on systematic observation, data collection and recording, logical reasoning, model-making and theoretical prediction and experimental verification. All the four steps taken together constitute the term ‘scientific method’. The scientific method helps us to understand and describe either a physical phenomenon or the behaviour of a physical system and offer an explanation in terms of laws a theory. Theory should not only be self-consistent but also consistent with all known experimental data.

(i) It was initially thought that earth has a flat surface. However, later, it was concluded that the surface of earth is not flat but spherical in shape. At a later stage, measurements of acceleration due to gravity at different places of earth led us to conclude that the shape of earth is ‘oblate spheroidal’.

(ii) Newton proposed the corpuscular theory of light to account for his observations of shadow formation. This theory led to a result that light travels faster in denser medium than in rarer medium. This result was at variance with the results of Foucault's experiments. So, this theory was discarded and followed by wave theory of light advanced by an eminent Dutch scientist Christian Huygens. Huygens theory had to be modified by Fresnel. This was followed by electromagnetic theory, quantum theory and finally the hypothesis of ‘dual nature of light’ was given.


What things are required as raw material and fuel for production of iron and steel?

The raw material and the fuel required by Iron and Steel industry are — iron ore, coal, limestone and an adequate quantity of water.


Write an essay on the role of physics in technology and in our daily lives.


Physics plays a crucial role in technology. The inventions of steam engines and electrical motors constitute the beginning of industrial revolution. This has later revolutionized the automobile industry itself. The understanding of electromagnetic waves in the longer wavelength domain has found applications in radio, television and wireless communication. The geostationary satellites help in forecasting weather and in geophysical survey such as exploration of oil wells the numerous applications in satellite communication.. The electricity that we use in our homes and industry is generated at a power plant by the conversion of heat energy into electrical energy. Nuclear energy released in a fission process is the source of energy in a nuclear reactor, which produces electricity, and therefore there are many applications of physics that have contributed to the technical advancement of society. Thus physics plays a very significant role in technology and in our daily lives. From the ordinary electric bulbs, fans to nuclear reactors to internet and computers, laser surgery to artificial transplants and artificial satellites are the contribution of physics to the society.

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