Because Science!

If you are reading this, you will relate to it when I say that the internet has made the world flat (and the grammar of the title acceptable). This in deed is the information age. There is an explosion of information, useful and otherwise, and the world’s computers are racing to keep up with the surge. As this is available to all more or less free of cost, the barriers of scholarship, money and power have crumbled. Today, one needs to know where to look; almost every known solution to every problem is available. Learning has leaped out of the four walls of classroom.

Why don’t you learn some science, then?

Everybody is dazzled by the magnificent triumphs of science; they are all convinced that ‘science works!’ Now they can, with ease, take a step forward: get educated in the nitty-gritty of anything that fascinates them. It will help to look at the world in a new perspective. Who knows, you may even contribute something substantial!

Popular science books are a great beginning, and science writers everywhere are doing an impressive job trying to explain stuff in layperson’s language.

Supplement with a healthy dose of videos on YouTube on STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) fields. Here are a few channels, to start with:

…and on and on. The best part of these videos is how little knowledge of science they assume from the viewer. There is, finally, this blog which puts up an occasional post on science, though not so periodic as the ones above.

Here is a beautiful illustration by Zen Pencils to initiate your learning.

2012-06-05-philplait1

A decade of interestingness

Today is my birthday. I turned twenty.

The jump from single-digit to double-digit age, that happened ten years ago was less eventful and was not recorded as I had no blog and no audience. But the decade that followed was power-packed and high on learning and growing up. Perhaps it is everybody’s story. Here is mine, anyway.

My enjoyment of cricket, with the company of a very leisurely grandfather (and his lovely dog, which is no more), knew no territories or time zones. (I learnt world geography from cricket.) Hitz (the highlights show) was my favourite. I remember to this day, Team India’s exploits in Australia and Pakistan (2003-04), first an Australian summer followed by our very own sub-continental heat – match after match. That was the time when Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman, Kumble were the mainstream. Most teams were at their best. MSD’s debut – and the great Tsunami that claimed thousands of lives in 2004 – were to happen in two months. Test matches in England, suited so nicely to my school timings, were a delight. The likes of Michael Vaughan, Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen pulled off a stunning Ashes win in 2005. That event sealed my fascination for the game, for its class, in particular the longer format. Thanks to ESPN and Star Sports. That was before the IPL.

Classic Cartoon Network, Toon Disney were on the decline. I was fortunate to have formed memories of the Looney Toons, Timon and Pumbaa, Tarzan, Gummy Bears, Mickey mouse and friends. Kids today miss these, I must say.

School was, until recently, very easy. I honestly believe that those were some wasted years, doing absolutely nothing of interest.

Chandamama filled my evenings with its colourful illustrations and rich language. In later years, that too went with the flow: it came printed on glossy paper, computer graphics replaced the ornate hand-made paintings, the paintings themselves encroached the text.

Everything changed suddenly in high school.

The new schools of new concept arrived. With them, they brought long hours of school, very good teaching (not many used to bother about quality earlier), personalised attention to students, and big promises of fantastic results. Before I noticed where I was going, I had gone places.

‘Young India’ was just coming of age. Technology penetration had happened before it was written about. So came e-mail, internet, reduced phone call-tarrif, Orkut, late-evening-school-bus. Oh boy, some time we had!

Growing up – a substantial part of it was to enter the best college around – was never simple. Nor was it intended to be so. But for my family’s support, it would not have been steady. Faith is a great thing. Or is it trust? Is there a difference?

Ten years is not a very long period. But this one seemed like it had been; it was so eventful. We shared some amazing stories that were similar in course and (wildly) varied in details. How is the next decade going to be? How ever it might be, it should be worth writing about.