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Reading A Biography of World’s Most Famous Equation

Deepak Subedi

When we started to conduct a regular series of popular lectures on Einstein’s life and achievement to mark the World Year of Physics 2005 in connection with Einstein Centenary Year, I was looking for a book which consisted of historical description of Einstein’s monumental work in Physics. To my surprise, I found a book entitled A Biography of World’s Most Famous Equation written by David Bodanis. After going through the book, I was encouraged to write a review on its praise.  
 
The book presents a very good description of the development of basic conservation laws in Physics. The author has skillfully presented the physical theories in extremely simple and interesting way so that readers without the background of Physics and Mathematics can also grasp the theme. The book has been successful to become popular among the popular science books. The Times magazine wrote about the book: “with skill and plenty of colorful anecdotes Bodanis traces the intellectual ancestry of E=mc2 “. 
 
The book is divided into five parts. In the first part, the author introduces the birth of the equation. It gives glimpses of the childhood of the equation which surrounds around 1905 when the three revolutionary papers by Einstein were published. One of these papers was on special theory of relativity which consisted of the ever popular equation. 
 
The second part of the book discusses the development of the law of conservation of energy and highlights the contribution of Michael Faraday in this work. It says that Faraday discovered his law of Electromagnetic induction showing a link between electric and magnetic fields which once seemed totally different. An extraordinary vision of energy concept was created by Faraday’s work. It helped to formulate the law of the conservation of energy. The scientific community was more confident that every other form of energy could similarly be shown deeply inter-connected.
 
In the third part of the book, the author presents a detailed history of the development of the law of conservation of mass.  For a long time the concept of mass had been like the concept of energy before Faraday. With his meticulous experiments, Lavoisier showed that matter could convert from one form to another, yet it will not burst in and out of existence. This law of conservation of mass was as much important as Faraday’s work on energy. The substances that fill our universe can be burnt, squeezed or hammered to bits but they won’t disappear. This finding worked as building block for a more general law of conservation which was put forward by Einstein at the beginning of 20th Century.  Einstein later proved in an extraordinary way that there was a link between these two domains. So, a more general law of conservation of mass and energy taken together was formulated. The most remarkable aspect of the discovery was to show that mass and energy are equivalent. It unleashed a secret that tremendous amount of energy can be released from a very small amount of matter.
 
The next part of the book covers period around the second world war when the first experimental results of nuclear fission of heavy elements were reported. In fact these were the experimental evidences to validate the equation. 
In the final part of the book, the author switches away from war and describes several areas where the equation has been applied. This period has also been termed as the adulthood of the equation.
 
I liked this book very much. So far as I know there is also a documentary available based on this book. I recommend this book to anyone who would love to peer into the history of the amazing world of physics.
 
Works consulted
 
F. Macdonald, Albert Einstein, Orient Longman Limited, Mumbai, 1994.
D. Bodanis, A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation, Pan Books,
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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in Criticism

 

Science in Daily Life

– Pushpa Raj Adhikary

Most people in our society  take science as something strange and crazy,  which are the works of Newton, Einstein and few others persons known as scientists. The works of so-called scientists led to the invention of rockets and bombs which are threats to human civilization. Also science contradicts the age-old belief  on the existence of god, hell and heaven. Wrong notions about science and technological advancement are the main causes of our ignorance and backwardness.  As a consequence, we are suffering from poverty, shortage of food, diseases and lack of medical facilities, lack of drinking water, shortage of electricity and so many other  benefits, which people in the developed world enjoy.
We have to dispel our mistaken notion of science and technological advancement if we want to get rid of most of our problems related to underdevelopment. The history and survival of humankind is a story of the growth of science. The desire to survive led early human to learn to hunt. In that process, they devised tools. The discovery of agriculture led to the process of growing food through irrigation, farming and cropping. The curiosity to communicate with others led to the invention of language and the art of communication which continued to grow further in the form of written language, printing  and wireless communication. This was a revolution continuing still today in the development and spread of internet. The urge to go to different parts of the earth led to the growth of transportation. Now the movement of humans is not confined only on the surface of earth bu to the top of the mountain, deep inside the sea and as far as the planet mars. People are thinking about inter-space travel. There are many other fronts of developments which are the direct consequence of the development of science and technology. Notably among them is the advancement of medical science and medical technology.
Science is not something which concerns only scientists. We wake up in the morning and see that the sun rises or appears in the east. In the evening the sun sets or disappears in the west. We are all familiar with the changing seasons. Some parts of the earth have heavy rain whereas other parts have snow and very hot deserts. The nature of plants and animals, even the colour of human beings in different parts of the earth differs. We need water to drink .We don’t drink water from all sources. Water from some source may upset our stomachs. We have diseases like malaria, typhoid, and hepatitis and nowadays AIDS. Insects crawl on grounds, birds fly and animals and human beings walk on ground. Many animals live on grass and green plants but human beings need cooked food.
During winter nights, if you look at the sky, you see tiny twinkling dots known as stars. If you look more closely, you find several differences among the stars. Stars appear only in nights. Moon also appears only in nights but not at all nights. Sometimes our sun and full moon are covered by strange black shadows known as eclipse.

We all are aware of the phenomena described in the last two paragraphs. We can cite many other natural phenomena which happen in our daily life. During illness we take pills and capsules of medicine and get cured. Sometimes we do take medicine in the form of injection but how many of us and how often do we ask ourselves why and how different natural phenomena happen? Why sun always rises in the east and sets in the west? Why do we get monsoon more or less in the same time each year? Why we need medicine when we are ill and how medicines cure us? How different varieties of breads, cheese and butter which appear in our breakfast table are prepared? Very recently we have started showing concern for our environment. What has happened to our environment and how? Why the rapid industrialization has dismantled some of the natural resources?
Many of us take all things and happenings around us without any wonder. But there are persons who wonder about these things. They are curious to learn more about their surroundings and the happenings with the question “Why?” and “How?” They wonder why the sun shines and what cloud is like. They wonder why a book falls to the ground when we drop it. They wonder at the stars, planets, and the moon.They wonder as how star is born, how many stars are there, why there are patches in the full moon, how vast is the universe and so many other questions. Most discoveries came out because someone wondered.
But discoveries are not made by wondering alone. You may wonder and ask questions as “How?” and “Why?”But who answers theses questions? You observe, listen, feel and learn to satisfy your curiosity. By doing so you make some idea about something or some happening. In other words, you come out with some explanation.  If this explanation alone satisfies you, then you are not a scientist. The difference between a scientist and others lies here. A scientist likes to verify his/her understanding or explanation of something by experiment. In many cases we might have made a guess but we could not be sure. So we do the experiment and it can give us a true answer. Experiment and discovery go hand in hand.
A curious mind asks questions and comes across new riddles and puzzles. You may be bored and give up solving them. Others may come out with some valid explanations of these puzzles. But how do we know whether these explanations are correct? Those who continue to know the correct answers to these riddles and puzzles either by explanations or by experiments are scientists. Scientists have to correct their understanding or explanations and experiments again and again until they bring out the truth. Sometimes scientists discover the answers to their problems in a very short time. More often, they must experiment patiently and carefully for years before they find out what they want to know. They may do one experiment a thousand times, or a thousand different experiments just to discover one fact.
Now, if you are also intrigued to think like a scientist or think that you have a potential to be a scientist then think about the question, “Assume that the earth does not rotate around its axis. How will this affect us? Assume next that the earth does not go around the sun, what will happen?”
 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Science

 

English and Scientific Research: Some Reflections

 – Deepak Subedi

When I was asked to contribute an article on the importance of English language for scientific research, I felt I got an opportunity to express my gratitude to the language which gave me an enormous access to good books written by scholars around the world. Without the knowledge of English, I would have to rely on books written only in our native language, which would have certainly narrowed my thinking. My simple understanding is that our ability to think is proportional to the number of good books we read. Also, it is generally accepted that knowledge is for the brain as is food for the body, and that a person with knowledge of different languages has greater vision and wider horizon.

I was motivated to learn English by my revered father since my childhood. Although my father himself never had formal education, he had gained some practice of spoken English during his service in Indian army. He had a strong desire to educate his children in English medium. I think this might have been due to the influence of British officers in India. He used to tell me fascinating stories about the additional benefits he used to receive in the army unlike his colleagues by virtue of his knowledge of English, although limited. Even with this limitation, he was supposed to be superior to others, and was assigned some official tasks during the war time which avoided the risk of being deployed to the front.

In spite of a moderate income,  my father always stressed on educating children in good schools. Although our family was based on a village, my father settled in the town only to provide us good education with additional tuition in English.  So far as I remember, he was the first person in our town to arrange tuition in English from the primary level. It was during this time that I met my most favorite teacher of English, Balkrishna Shrama, who inspired me to learn. He was a noble teacher with amazing skills of delivering spellbinding lectures. With his guidance, I experienced the joy of learning new words in English and writing them nicely in four-lined papers.  Since then, I started learning English spontaneously.

I realized the real importance of knowing English when I joined I. Sc. in Amrit Science Campus in 1989. All our subjects were taught in English. Had I been poor in English, I would have certainly been discouraged from studying science.  The knowledge of English helped me in learning the major subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. I had a huge advantage over my classmates with a weaker background of English. Meanwhile, some of our teachers had just returned from US with terribly twisted tongue, and many of our friends who were from remote areas of Nepal got frustrated with the US-style pronunciation. Students who had their schooling in English medium had no difficulty in grasping the lectures in the major subjects.

Well, these were some of my recollections about my background in the English language. Let me discuss a little about the importance of the use of English in the field of science.

In 1931 Vladimir N. Ipatieff, a Russian-American chemist, had begun to take lessons in English at the age of sixty-four. He was already a well-known scientist but had to learn English in that age in order to continue his research in the USA. He probably was under the influence of the “publish or perish” dictum so common in the field of research. But his story simply highlights the necessity of knowing a language of wide international readership in order to popularize researches in science.

Michael Faraday said that any researcher has to follow three major steps: “work, analyze and publish.” All the three parts are equally important. However, the importance of the language appears in the third part — publishing. The real output of any scientific research is measured by its impact, hence the level of international journals is determined by their impact factor. How many people cited our papers is more important than how many papers we wrote. To make our papers accessible to a large number of readers, we have to publish our results in a language understood by a large population.  Thus one has to publish his/her findings in English.

Most of the world’s leading scientific journals are published in English. It has been reported that researchers from non-English speaking countries have to spend a significant portion of their time in getting their reports and research papers translated/written in English. This obviously steals their precious time from laboratory work. For example, in Japan English is becoming the language of basic science resulting in the gradual disappearance of  publications in Japanese. RIKEN, one of Japan’s most comprehensive groups of research facilities, has claimed that its scientists published about 2000 original reports in English in 2005, but only 174 in Japanese. One report shows that editing companies in Japan charge researchers $ 500 to $ 800 per manuscript. Language training can cost $2000 for a ten-week course. These costs are additional burdens and slow down scientific activities in laboratory.

In fact, this should not have been the period for spending so much time for writing the paper alone. Had their schooling been in English, as that of ours, the researchers could have devoted more time for their experiments than exercising for language. In this respect, we should feel fortunate; we learned basic sciences in English medium at school and the university. In several international conferences and seminars, I have observed the difficulty faced by scientists from the countries which are quite developed in science and technology but are non-native English users. In spite of their good research results, they are sometimes nervous during presentations due to the difficulty in expressing their ideas clearly in English.  On the other hand, researchers who studied their courses in English are more confident in presentations even if the merit of their research work is not of high standard.

Another case where proficiency in English plays a vital role is in the preparation of research grants proposals. Even a promising project proposal may be rejected because of the lack of logical reasoning. It may be argued why a researcher should worry about English when one can easily consult with professional editors to prepare a proposal. But the fact is that professional editors may not know the technical ideas of the project, and that sometimes this joint venture may lead to negative results. Considering the growing need of disseminating research results to a wider population, many Asian and European countries, which used to teach science courses in their own native languages, are gradually adopting English as the language of science.

Summing up, today no discipline can function in isolation. Since a large number of interdisciplinary subjects like environmental science, biotechnology, biomedical engineering, engineering physics etc. are emerging, people of different areas of expertise have to work together. Professionals from different disciplines find English quite comfortable to communicate among themselves. Also, professionals in the discipline of English language must also constantly update themselves because the world is changing rapidly due to the advancement in science and technology.  For the survival in this competitive and rapidly advancing world, everyone has to be able to grasp the new challenges and opportunities. Due to the latest advancement in information technology, specially with the introduction of internet services and cellular phones, the world has become like a village. Whoever gets the latest information at the earliest will come ahead and those who miss will certainly lag behind. In which language this communication is being made in a broad scale? Of course, English.

[Courtesy: http://neltachoutari.wordpress.com May 2010]

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in EXPRESSIONS, Reflections

 

On Intellectual Disuse

– Hem Raj Kafle

Some of our undergraduates show remarkable philosophical leaning when they are allowed to discuss life. The discussion sometimes involves such meaningful questions, directed to the teacher: “When do you think an academic will go out of use? Can a person remain spirited forever? Isn’t there the possibility of one’s sudden disappearance because more vibrant persons come to displace/replace?”

These questions must make a high-spirited person hold his breath for some time to envision his own future, with a feeling of slight pinch to his current usability. He should rather start with this thesis: “When I degenerate, I will disappear. To exist I should know the tricks of scooping butter with a crooked finger.” Well, it is tricky to try to find the number of such thinkers.  My assumption is that there are many under our noses. To mention some universal symptoms of atrophying is my purpose here.

I think the first striking symptom is the reluctance to being receptive. This is when a person begins to set limits to learning and teaching, which is to say, he develops a sustained sense of fullness and saturation to the extent of intolerance towards productive criticism, and displeasure for the emergence of competent young successors.  The second symptom is the fear of failure and bitterness. One’s intellectual erosion begins with the urge to avoid challenges when one has accumulated absurd experiences so much into believing that the world conspires against good people and life itself is deceptive.  But one who fears challenges will hardly teach others the remedies against hardships. And one who always falls probably fails to tell others how to rise permanently.

Perhaps the most remarkable symptom of erosion comes with the feeling of surrender when there still is a chance to confront for a good cause. I believe each learned person should develop the quality of leadership with minimum sense of positive dominance over ignorance. Someone has rightly said, “When my father stopped shouting at me, he lost his world” meaning that a powerful, competent hand is always welcome in guiding a productive individual.  Let alone sharing personal experiences, when a more matured generation begins to fear or lose control over less matured generation even in necessary cases, the channels for transmitting established socio-cultural values will gradually disappear. Each generation should develop as much the power of dominance and guidance as the readiness for reception and expansion of knowledge and values.

The old practically do not avoid being sociable and sharing experiences, but if they do, they will only contribute to backwardness or possible stagnation.  One who has lived an individualistic life, cut off from empathetic relatives during life’s most receiving phase, would finally regret saying, “I wish I could relive my elders’ lives in a new context. If only I had ever asked them how hard it was to live their times.”

People once venerated might go out of use when they literally begin to show signs of disappearance from the mainstream. Appearance is not the matter of age but of intellectual energy. Neither does it have anything to do with the matter of physical presence but of leaving a legacy.  Those who resign from the desire to become heritage allow others to lose sight of them. Visibility remains so long as others see you in terms of social presence and achievements.

An intellectual invites his own disappearance when he only revels in the past achievements but does not add any at present while competitors have already achieved newer heights. Successful people are usually narcissistic to the extent of gradual exclusion from the majority.  But they can save themselves from disappearing by transferring their achievements to upcoming generation of competitors. If human beings had the rigidity of keeping all their skills and subsequent achievements to themselves, and if they had inability to learn these from others, all of us would still be living primitively.

The power to command respect is an important quality to check early atrophying.  The respect should come with being able to become a convergence point for the majority in matters of leadership and knowledge. I believe a leader or a knowledgeable person has to be useful in the local level. Some competent people are out of use for their craze for telescopic usability, which means the ambition for a higher level, probably international, exposure without sufficient commitment to their lived surroundings.

Finally, I would exemplify three kinds of people who would rise in momentary limelight, but gradually fade away because of certain hamartia. The first type plants a tree, works hard till it grows and bears fruits, but finally, reveling on the fruits and gentle breeze atop, becomes too lazy to pluck weeds and shun insects. He rather expects someone to attend the tree merely for the sake of shade and wind-blown fruits.

Someone recently told me of a second type in an interesting metaphor about the relationship between legs and the chest. He said, “The legs move and hold the body, but the chest receives the medal.” I think, this hints at the Shakespearean sense of “bubble reputation” that someone in a leadership enjoys till the subordinates agree to work hard for him. When the legs choose not to move, perhaps because the chest cannot sustain the glory of the medals or aims to climb too high to notice the pains below, the “bubbles” begin to burst into oblivion. The chest will begin to pant in helplessness.

A third type presents a somehow oxymoronic appearance. He boasts of having got very wide eyes after having “borne a thousand blows of life,” but the vision is too clear ahead to miss seeing the filth under his feet. The filth ultimately travels to his kitchen, bedroom and worship. This happens repeatedly. He is busy cleaning the filth indoors, and ultimately becomes invisible.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Reflections

 

ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको अड्कल र साहित्यको कल्पना

– नवराज खतिवडा

ईन्जिनियरिङग विषय लिई चार वर्षे स्नातक तहको अध्ययन गर्ने प्रथम वर्षका विद्यार्थीलाई आन्तरिक परीक्षामा मैले सोधेको एक प्रश्न यस्तो थियो ।

“ तिम्रो टाउको जत्रो ढुंगाको तौल अन्दाजी कति होला ?“

विद्यार्थीहरुले यो प्रश्नको उत्तर विभिन्न किसिमले दिए । टाउको जत्रो ढुँगाको तौल १-२ किलोग्रामदेखि २५-३० किलोग्रामसम्म हुन सक्ने उनीहरुको अनुमान थियो । कसैले त त्यो उत्तर कसरी आयो भनेर हिसाब समेत गरेका थिए । त्यस मध्ये एकजना उत्तरदाताले प्रस्तुत गरेको तर्कले मेरो ध्यानाकर्षण गर्‍यो । त्यो तर्कमा गहनता मात्र थिएन, त्यहाँ अडकलसँग जोडिएको रोचक अन्तरवस्तु समेत थियो । त्यही तर्कलाई केन्द्रविन्दुमा राखेर यो लेखको रचना समेत भयो ।

“टाउको र भकुण्डोको आयतन लगभग बराबर हुन्छ । अन्तर्राष्‍ट्रिय मान्यताको भकुण्डोको व्यास २० सेन्टिमीटर जति हुन्छ । सुत्र प्रयोग गर्दा यत्रो गोलो वस्तुको आयतन ५ लिटर जति निस्कन्छ । एक लिटर पानीको तौल एक किलोग्राम हुने र पानीभन्दा ढुँगा दुई गुणा जति गह्रौँ हुने भएकोले टाउको जत्रो ढुँगाको तौल १० किलोग्रामको आसपासमा हुन्छ।“

यसरी खोजमूलक र सही उत्तर लेख्ने ती विद्यार्थीलाई मैले उत्कृष्ट अंक दिँए । उत्तर पुस्तिकामा “अति राम्रो” भनेर स्यावासी समेत लेखेँ । यो रोचक उत्तरको प्रसँग एक दुई जना समकक्षी साथीहरुलाई पनि सुनाएँ । उनीहरुले पनि “सिर्जनात्मक उत्तर” भन्ने प्रतिकृया दिए । ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विषयको मूलाधार भनेको विज्ञान नै हो । चार वर्षे स्नातक तहको अध्ययनमा पहिलो दुई वर्ष त धेरै जसो भौतिक शास्त्र, रसायन शास्त्र र गणित कै पढाइ हुन्छ । यसकारण विद्यार्थीको उत्तर यथार्थको नजिक भएता पनि त्यस तर्कमा विज्ञानकै अँश अधिक हुनु अस्वभाविक थिएन । त्यही सेमेष्टरका विद्यार्थीको एक कक्षामा केही हप्ता अघि विज्ञान र ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको फरक बुझाउनका लागि मैले एउटा रित्तो कपको प्रयोग गरेको थिँए । मैले रित्तो कप उनीहरुलाई देखाएर सोधेको थिएँ ।

“यो कप भरि छ कि खाली ? ”

आश्चर्य भयो ! उनीहरुको मत बाझियो । आधा जतिले त्यसमा हावा भएकाले “भरी” भनेका थिए । “खाली” भन्नेहरुले कपको काम तरल पदार्थ बोक्ने भएकाले हावाले भरिनुको कुनै अर्थ नभएको भन्ने जवाफ दिएका थिए । वैज्ञानिक हिसाबमा हावाले भरिनुको अर्थ भएता पनि व्यवहारिक हिसावमा थिएन । यसकारण उही तथ्यलाई विज्ञान र ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग वा अर्थशास्त्रले फरक फरक तरिकाले परिभाषित गर्न सक्छन भनेर विद्यार्थीलाई बुझाउन कपको उदाहरण सफल भएको थियो । आफ्नो अघि आईलागेको प्राविधिक समस्यालाई चिर्ने कार्यको प्रस्थान विन्दु हुन्छ- त्यस समस्याको आकार अनुमान । आकार अनुमान गर्नको लागि समस्यासँग जोडिएको भौतिक स्वरुपको मापन गर्नु पर्ने हुन्छ । उदाहरणको लागि पहाडको उचाइ, नदीको वहाव या कुनै पाईपको मोटाइ नै अन्दाज गर्ने कुरालाई लिन सकिन्छ । यसकारण एउटा ईन्जिनियरले फित्ताले ननापी वा तराजुमा नजोखी वा कुनै हिसाब नगरिकन वस्तुको आकार या तौल अनुमान गर्न सक्नुपर्छ । विद्यार्थी जीवनमा जसले यो काम निमेषभरमा नै गर्न सक्ने दक्षता हासिल गर्छ त्यसको “अन्दाज कौशलता” विशिष्ट हुन सक्छ । यही चुरोको सेरोफेरोमा मेरो मनमा एक गहन प्रश्न उब्जियो । भकुण्डोको आयतनसँग तुलना गरी पानीको घनत्वको तथ्यलाई प्रयोग गरी ढुँगोको तौल अन्दाज गर्ने तरिका वैज्ञानिक त अवश्य भयो तर के यो व्यावहारिक पनि भयो त ?  म चिन्तनको दायरालाई फराकिलो पार्न थाल्छु । विद्यार्थीहरुले समस्या समाधानका अरु तरिकाको पनि कल्पना गरेका थिए । केहीले आफ्नो शरिरको वजनको आधारमा टाउकोको तौल अनुमान गरेका थिए । केहीले ईँटा, फर्सी या तरबुजाको तौलसँग तुलना गरी ढुँगाको तौल अन्दाज गरेका थिए ।

दिइएको परिस्थितिमा वा समस्या सिर्जिएको स्थानको वरिपरि साधन र श्रोतको उपलब्धता सिमित हुनसक्छ । कतिपय अवस्थामा हातमा फित्ता वा साथमा क्यालकुलेटर समेत नहुन सक्छ । फेरि अरुले सामान्य दिमागमात्र प्रयोग गरी दिन सक्ने समाधानमा आफूले स्केल या क्यालकुलेटर खोज्दा हाँस्यपात्र पनि बन्न सकिन्छ । यस्तो बेला तन्काउन मिल्ने वा थप्दै जान सकिने वा एउटा धारको सट्टामा अर्को फेर्न सकिने भनेको चिन्तन वा कल्पना नै हो । समस्या सानै भएपनि त्यसलाई चिर्न ज्ञानको अथाह भण्डार प्रयोग गर्न सकिन्छ । विभिन्न तरिकाले सोच्न सकिन्छ । यसकारण कुनै समस्यालाई पर्गेल्नका लागि कत्रो फैलावाट भएको वा कति गहन कल्पना शक्ति खर्च गर्ने भन्ने सवाल महत्वपूर्ण हुन आउँछ ।

ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विधामा त कल्पना शक्तिको नै विशिष्ट स्थान छ । सामान्य अन्दाज गर्ने देखि लिएर वृहत संरचना समेतको नक्शा वा नमूना कल्पनाशक्तिले नै बन्छ । जसरी वास्तविक अनुहार क्यामेराले खिचेको तस्विरमा हुबहु बनेर निस्कन्छ, त्यसरी नै कागजमा कोरिएको नक्शा निर्माण पश्चात वास्तविक संरचनामा परिणत  हुन्छ । यसकारण केको आधारमा कल्पना गर्ने ? कुन विधि अपनाउने ? उत्तर कसरी पस्कने ? अर्थात् विद्यार्थीको कल्पना वा पूर्वानुमान गर्ने क्षमता कसरी अभिवृद्धि गर्ने ? स्वभाविक प्रश्नहरु उब्जिएका छन् ।

महाकवि लक्ष्मीप्रसाद देवकोटाले कल्पना शीर्षकको निबन्धमा लेखेका छन् – ……उस (कल्पना) लाई वस्तुको उपस्थितिको जरुरतै छैन, स्मृतिपटमा परेको छाया जगाएर ऊ अनुपस्थित वस्तुहरुको सूक्ष्म स्वरुप सत्यप्रदर्शन गर्दछ । ………..हामी कल्पनाद्वारा आँखा चिम्ली चिम्ली वाह्य संसारका वस्तु र तिनका सम्बन्धहरु भेट्टाउन सक्छौँ  ।………..

यसरी साहित्यको कल्पना र ईन्जिनियरिङ्गको अडकलबाजीमा समानता पाइन्छ । महाकविले लेखे जस्तै आफ्नो अघि अनुपस्थित वस्तुहरुको लम्बाइ, चौडाइ, उचाइ वा गोलाइको अनुमान गर्ने सिलसिलामा सर्वप्रथम मष्तिष्कले त्यो वस्तुको छायाँको परिकल्पना गर्दछ । समस्या त्यसबेला सिर्जना हुन्छ जव मष्तिष्कले वस्तुको छायाँको कल्पना गर्न सक्दैन । किनभने त्यहाँ तिखो दृष्टि नहुन सक्छ । या कल्पना गर्नेले कुनै आधारशिला नै फेला पार्दैन । बोधो दृष्टिकोणले निशाना लाग्दैन । सही अडकल आउँदैन । त्यसकारण बोधो दृष्टिलाई तिक्ष्ण बनाउने अर्थात् आफ्नो अडकलवाजी लाई सत्यताको नजिक पुर्‍यउने कौशलता सिर्जना गर्नु विशेषगरी ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग पढ्ने विद्यार्थीका लागि अपरिहार्य हुन आँउछ ।

केही समय अघि मेरा एक मित्रको कारमा हामी धुलिखेलबाट काठमाण्डौँतिर गइरहेका थियौ । केही समय अघि देखि परेको घनघोर पानी अझै थामिएको थिएन । हामी अकस्मात रोकियौँ । हाम्रो अघि लगभग १०० मिटर जति सडकमा फैलिएको पानीको दह थियो । ठूला गाडी त पाङ्ग्रा अग्लो भएको कारणले पानी मिचेर पास भएका थिए । तर हामीले आँट गरेनौँ । मैले वायाँतिर एक लेनको सडकलाई आफ्नो बाटो बनाएर उर्ली उर्ली बगेको पानीलाई नियालेँ । लगभग घुँडा-घुँडा आउने पानी थियो । मैले सडकको चौडाइ, पानीको औसत गहिराइ र भेलको गति अन्दाज गरी जल प्रवाहको परिमाण अनुमान गरेँ । यस विषयमा मेरा मित्रको पनि विचार जान्ने ईच्छा भयो र वहाँलाई सोधेँ ।

“ यो पानीको वहाव कति होला ? “

वहाँले वडो सामान्य र सहज हिसावमा उत्तर दिनु भयो ।

“मेरो विचारमा १.५ देखि ३ घनमिटर प्रति सेकेण्डको वीचमा हुनुपर्छ ।”

म दङ्गदास परेँ । यसका दुई कारण थिए । पहिलो: मेरो अनुमान वहाँको उत्तरसँग ठ्याक्कै मिलेको थियो । दोस्रो: वहाँको सपाट उत्तरमा जुन ओज र आत्मविश्वास थियो त्यो स्मरणीय र अतुलनीय थियो । वहाँले त्यो उत्तर दिँदा कत्तिवेर पनि नअलमलिईकन दिनु भएको थियो । मैले अर्थशास्त्रमा नोबेल पुरस्कार जित्ने अध्येता डेनियल कानेम्यानले लेखेको “थिङ्कीङ्ग फास्ट एण्ड स्लो” भन्ने पुस्तकको प्रसँग सम्झिएँ । पुस्तकमा उनले कुनै आकस्मिक परिस्थितिमा हामी कसरी विचार गर्दछौ भन्ने कुराको विश्लेषण गरेका छन् । डेनियलले परिस्थिति र सोच्ने व्यक्तिको क्षमता अनुरुप दुईवटा सोच-प्रणालीले काम गर्ने उल्लेख गरेका छन् । प्रणाली-१ ले कुनै पनि प्रश्नको सपाट जवाफ निमेषभरमा नै दिन सक्छ । तर कठिन सवाल (जस्तै: १७ × २४) को सही जवाफ दिनका लागि प्रणाली-२ को जरुरी पर्दछ । मलाई भलपानीको वहावलाई आँकलन गर्न केही वेर लागेको थियो तर मेरा मित्रले शायद प्रणाली-१ प्रयोग गरेर सपाट उत्तर दिएका थिए । मष्तिष्कले प्रणाली-२ को प्रयोग विशेष अवस्थामा मात्र गर्दछ । यसको निचोड निस्कियो — मित्रको बगेको पानीसँग सम्बन्धित अनुभव यथेष्ट छ ।

टाउको वरावरको ढुँगाको तौल आँकलन गर्दा मष्तिष्कले आयतन मात्र मिल्ने भकुण्डो स्मरण गर्छ कि तौल र आयतन दुवै मिल्ने फर्सी या तरबुजा स्मरण गर्छ त ? यो कुरा समस्यालाई मष्तिष्कले कसरी आफूले जानेको प्रसँग या अनुभुतिसँग तुलना गर्दछ भन्ने कुरामा भर पर्दछ । अर्कोतर्फ फुटबल खेलको अनुभव अधिक भएको तर फर्सी कहिले पनि नतौलेको व्यक्ति भए उस्को ध्यान फुटबलतिर जानु  स्वभाविक नै हो । अर्थात् देवकोटाले उल्लेख गरे जस्तो प्रश्न ‘मष्तिष्कले कल्पना गर्ने छायाँको स्वरुप र आकार कस्तो हुन्छ भन्ने” हो ।  यसकारण ईन्जिनियरिङ्ग विधामा कुनै समस्यालाई सपाट र सही उत्तर दिनका लागि त्यो समस्यासँग मिल्ने पृष्ठभूमि या प्रसंग निमेषभरमा नै जोड्न सक्नु पर्छ । डेनियलको विश्लेषण अनुसार कहिलेकाहीँ मष्तिष्कले गलत वा अप्रासंगिक उत्तर पनि दिनसक्छ । यसका मुख्यतया तीन कारण हुन्छन् । पहिलो: पृष्ठभूमि या आधारभूत दायरालाई महत्व नदिई प्रश्नलाई अति हलुका तवरमा लिनु । दोस्रो: उत्तर प्राप्त गर्न अल्छि गर्नु । र तेश्रो उत्तरलाई पन्छाउनु या प्रश्न नै गलत छ भन्नेतिर मन लैजानु । विद्यार्थीहरुले उत्तर लेख्न नसक्नु वा गलत उत्तर दिनुको मूल कारक यिनै हुन् । तर सही अन्दाज या पूर्वानुमान गर्नका लागि उपलब्ध विकल्पहरुलाई कुनै नजिरसँग या आधारसँग तुलना गर्न जरुरी छ । आफ्नो अन्तस्करणमा उत्पन्न भएको अड्कललाई पाए सम्मका तथ्यहरुले प्रमाणित गर्नु पनि जरुरी हुन आउँछ ।

दक्ष ईन्जिनियर बन्नका लागि पहिलो शर्त हुन्छ- कुनै परिमाणको व्यावहारिक वा अर्थपूर्ण अन्दाज गर्न सक्नु । विद्यार्थीहरुको पूर्वानुमान गर्ने क्षमता अभिवृद्धि गर्दा सिर्जना भएका यी प्रसंगहरुले हाम्रो शिक्षा प्रणालीमा कस्ता कस्ता अनुमान गर्ने तौर तरिका सिकाउने गरिएको छ र त्यसको व्यवहारिक उपयोग कस्तो रहेको छ भन्ने विषयहरुको उठान गरेका छन् । आशा गरौँ यस विषयमा विद्वत वर्गको थप ध्यानाकर्षण हुनेछ ।

[साभार: http://nawarajkhatiwada.blogspot.com/%5D

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in EXPRESSIONS

 

Dancing in the Rice Paddies

Ananda Kafle

Like in the past, this year too, National Paddy Day was celebrated on June 29. Party leaders, government officials, journalists, celebrities and common people went to rural farms, smeared mud on their clothes, brandished spades, held aloft bunches of paddy seedlings and smiled widely for the camera. Moreover, some of them even played music, danced and had a sort of a party. Rice transplantation photographs received much space in newspapers and on television. Some of these celebrators are trying to mimic traditional rice planting practices. In reality, things have changed. The interest of people towards rice cultivation itself has decreased. Shortages of fertilisers and good quality seeds, lack of irrigation facilities, the labour intensive nature of rice farming and meager productivity are some factors that have discouraged peasants from continuing this occupation. Shortage of labour is another hurdle. Nepal’s villages are being evacuated of youths. Instead of being engaged in low-paying seasonal employment, many have chosen to move abroad. Their dependents in the country are either physically unable to work in the fields or prefer to live on remittance rather than do tedious peasantry. Until a few decades ago, the domestic production of rice used to be sufficient for the country’s food needs. Now, a large portion of the demand is being fulfilled by imported grain. Flat lands in the Tarai, regarded as the grain basket of the country, frequently turn barren due to inadequate rain and other adversities. Lack of awareness on the proper use of chemical fertilisers has led to degraded productivity of the soil, which has further increased the need for chemical supplements. Invading insects and weeds have developed resistance due to excessive use of insecticides, and this has made the crops more vulnerable to diseases. Waters from big rivers like the Koshi are drained directly to India across farmlands in the bordering Tarai. Unfair treaties prevent Nepali farmers from irrigating their fields with this water. In some districts, several hectares of cultivable fields have been submerged and made unfit for farming due to embankments and riverbed structures constructed by the southern neighbour. Despite many big rivers flowing through irrigable landscapes in the Tarai, peasants are compelled to wait for the rains to plough their fields. Marking National Paddy Day is not enough to encourage farmers to produce more rice. If the government was concerned about the issue in a real sense, the issues stated above need attention. Farmers should be given greater respect so that more youths are motivated to join them. Otherwise, such celebrations will not bring any change other than providing elites with an opportunity to show off their farming hobby.

(Earlier published in The Kathmandu Post, 9 July  2014)

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in EXPRESSIONS

 

उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकता र नयाँ पुस्ताको शिक्षक

एकप्रसाद दुवाडी
म अहिले आफ्नो अफिसमा बसेर दिउसो पढाउने विषयमा पार पोइन्ट तयार पार्न दर्जनौ साइट भित्र फिलिलि कुद्‍दै छु, एकदुइटा किताब पनि छन् अगाडि। यस अलवा जिमेलमा पत्र बुझ्ने, फेसबुकमा सन्देश थप्ने, ट्वीटरमा ट्वीट गर्ने काम पनि सगै जादो छ । म विदेशमा बसेका साथीहर मात्र नभएर गाउघरका भाइबहिनीहरुसग पनि निरन्तर सम्पर्कमा छु यही बेला कानफोन घुसाएर नविन गीत संगीत पनि सुन्दैछु । हाम्रो ब्यवसायिक संजालको समूह र विश्‍वका प्रमुख अरु संस्थाहरमा के हुदैछन् त्यो पनि चियाउदै छु भने फोरसेयर्ड र टरेन्टमा कुनै नया किताब थपिए ि भनी बेलाबेलामा नियाल्दै पनि छु । एकछिनपछि बिद्यार्थीले ब्लग गरेका प्रोजेक्ट जाच्नु पर्न । भरे घरमा केहीबेर टिभीमा झुन्डिने योजना भएपनि धेरै काम गर्नुछ कम्प्युटरमै । 
उत्तरआधुनिकतामा मानिसले पढे, हेरे, सुने पहिले जस्तै । तर उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकताका मानिस फोन गर्छन्, बटन थिच्छन्, इन्टरनेट चलाउछन्, आवस्यक कुरा रोज्छन्, सार्छन् अनि डाउनलोड गर्छन् । सन १९८० र त्यसपछि जन्मिएका  मानिसिच पुस्तान्तर गहिरिएिको छ । पछिल्लो पुस्ताले आफ्ना समकक्षीहरु बढी स्वतन्त्र, निर्भीक र सिर्जनशील ठान्छन् २१ औ शताब्दीमा, त्यसकारण यो समय भनेको बौद्धिकता, सिर्जना र शक्तिको युग हो । जबकि उत्तरआधुनिक पुस्ताले यिनीहरलाई ब्रोइलर कुखुरा सिवाय केही होइन भन्छन् । 
उत्तरआधुनिकता व्यापक अर्थ बोक्ने दर्शन भए पनि यसलाई सजिलो गरेर यसरी बुझ्न सकिन्छ कि यसले ज्ञान र अर्थलाई सीमाबद्ध गर्न नसकिने कुरामा जोड दिन्छ । तर एलन कर्बी (सन २००६) र उनका समकक्षी उत्तरआधुनिकताको मृत्यु भैसकेको दावी गर्छन् । उत्तरआधनिकताको आयु सकिएर अर्को दर्शन उदाएको तथ्य सांचो हो । आजका मानिस उत्तरआधनिताले अत्यधिक विकृति ल्याएकोले यसलाई छाडेर विस्तारै आलोचनात्मक सत्यतिर आकर्षित भएका छन् अनि सचनाप्रविधिले यसलाई मलजल गरेको छ ।  
उसोभए उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकता के हो त ? मलाई यो लाग्छ कि उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकता थोरै परिवर्तित सांस्कृतिक फेसन मात्र नभएर अरु धेरै हो । तुरुन्त सदाका लागि जुन रपमा शक्ति, ज्ञान, आफ्नोपन, सत्यता र समयलाई बुझिने भन्दा फरक तबरले अर्थ्याउन थालिएको छ । आजका शिक्षक र विद्यार्थीमा पाइने फरक यही हो उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकता र उत्तरआधुनिकता बिचको खाडल । वास्तबमा उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकताले आधुनिकताको अपरिहार्यतालाई थुन्‍न सकेन सन २००० को सुरतिरदेखि नया प्रविधिहरका उदयले पुनर्सरचना गरिदियो लेखक पाठक र पाठ्यसामाग्रीको संबन्धलाई । 
उत्तरआधुनिकताले आधुनिक र स्वछन्दतावादले जस्तै लेखकहरलाई नै महत्व दिई केन्द्रमा राख्यो केहीले आफूलाई महत्व नदिएको जस्तो गरी कृति लेखेपछि लेखकको मृत्यु हुन्छ भन्‍ने अभिनय गर्दैरहे । तर आजको नया संस्कृतिले पूर्ण वा आसिकरपमा पाठकलाई नै शक्ति दिएको प्रतित हुन्छगुगल किताब अनि अन्य नि:शुल्क साटहरु जसले बिनापैसा किताब डाउनलोड गर्न दिन्छन् ।  कसैकसैले यसलाई नराम्रो भने पनि अरुको विचारमा प्रजातान्त्रिक बिँडो हो यो । 
उत्तरआधुनिकता ताका गुगल वा स्काइपको कल्पना भएको थिएन । गरब देशका नागरिकका हातहातमा पनि मोबाइल पुग्ने कल्पना थिएन । अहिलेको पुस्ताले पुराना ब्रिटीश कथाउपन्यासाका किताब नपढेर भर्खरै बजारमा आएका रोज्छन् कतिसम्म भने जे के रोलिङ पनि पुरानो भइन् । अनि एचबिओ र स्टारमुभिमा आउने फिल्मका साथै डिभिडीमा २१ औ शताब्दीका फिल्म हेर्छन् । मिटिङ सेमिनारमा जान्छन् तर डेरिडा, फुकु, बौड्रिलार्द आदिका दर्शन घोक्दैनन् । 
नेपालमा ठूला अग्ला विद्यालय भवन बनाउने प्रतिस्पर्धा चल्द गर्दा अमेरिकामा भने गाउतिरको एकान्त ठाउमा पारदर्शी पर्खालले छुट्याइएका टहरा उपयुक्त हुने ठानेर २१ औ शताब्दीका स्कूल बन्दैछन् । जतिसुकै ब्यबहारिक वातावरणको रटान गरे पनि देशविदेशमा विद्यार्थीका गुणभन्दा मार्कलाई नै प्राथमिकता दिइन्छ ।  नेपालकै कुरा गर्दा पनि हिजोआज चरम विभाजन र द्धन्द्ध नभई शान्तिको कामना गरिन्छ, युनियनले ध्वस्त भएका संस्थामा हस्तक्षेपको कामना गरिन्छ । अधिकार लिने मात्र होइन आफ्नो कर्तव्य पालन गनुपर्ने राय दिन्छ । फरक धारका राजनितिज्ञले पनि समान बिन्दुहरु पहिचान गरी सहमति गरन् भन्‍ने चाहन्छन् कोटपाइन्ट र टोपी लगान्छ, नौमतीलाई  भन्दा ब्याण्ड बाजालाई महत्व दिइन्छ महीको सट्टा कोक  न प्यारो लाग्नु अनि संघीयतामा जादा (परिधिलाई मजबुत पार्दा) केन्द्र कमजोर हुन नहुने कुरा उठ्नु, सिकारु केन्द्रित पठनपाठन गर्दा समेत शिक्षकको भूमिका पनि प्रबल खोजिनु मात्र होइन उदार संविधान र नि नियमहरुमा समेत लक्ष्मणरेखा कोरिनले उत्तरआधनिकता खोटो सिक्‍का भैसकेको प्रतित हुन्‍न ?
उत्तरआधुनिकताका पिता लायोटार्डले महाआख्यानको अन्त्य देखेका थिए भने  २१ औ शताब्दीका उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकताका दार्शनिकहर विश्व भूमण्डलीयकरण वित्त बजारले घेरेको समाजको उदय भएको ठान्छन् जहा विविधता साँघुरिदै जादैछ । दश जोड दुई नपढी ए लेभल, नेपालका सट्टा अमरेकी, बेलायती वा अष्ट्रेलियन विश्वविद्यालय रोजाईमा पर्नु यसैको उदारण होइन र ? आधुनितावाद कालमा जस्तो लगाव, र उत्तरआधुनिक समयको अहंपनाभन्दा फरक उत्तरउत्तरआधुनिकताले विस्तारै मानसिक रपमा विमार पार्ने लत बसालेकै छ धेरथोर आफैँ उपन्यास, आफै उपन्यासकार कोही छ त मात्र प्रविधिनया प्रविधि ।
धेरै विद्धानहरु उत्तरआधुनिकता मरेर गयो भन्छन् । यसको ठाउमा नया ज्ञान र यसको सामर्थ्य एवं प्रविधिले तथा वर्तमान सामाजिक तत्वहरकाकारण नया वाद विचरण गर्दै गरेको ठम्याइ छ उनीहरको । यता नेपालमा भर्खर उत्तरआधुनिकता विचरण गर्न थालेकोमा नेपालीका मात्र नभएर अग्रेजीका गुरहरु समेत भावाविभोर हुने क्रम यथावत छ,  ‘बल्ल नेपालमा उत्तरआधुनिकताको घाम उदायो, यसको छत्रछायाले शैक्षिक सामाजिक सब क्षेत्रलाई चहकिलो पार्नेछ। ऐठन भएको बेलामा कोल्टे फेरेर सुत्‍नु नै विनिर्माण हो भन्‍नेहर र अबचाहि ननिर्माण हुनथाल्यो जस्तो छ भनेर लख काट्ने म बीच उत्तरआधुनिकताको युग सकिएर अर्को समय आइसकेको दलील पेश गर्दा  लामो वाकयुद्ध नै चल्यो केही महिनासम्म उहाहर उत्तरआधुनिकता भर्खर उदाएको देख्‍ने, मचाहि अस्ताइसकेको प्रमाणित गर्न कस्सिएको थिए । 
ित कसको भयो त भन्‍ने कुराभन्दा पनि नौलौ विचरणका बारेमा बृहत बहस हुनु मत्वपूर्ण थियो । सहमति यस कुरामा रह्यो कि कुनै नया वाद भित्रदैमा पुराना दर्शन सम्पूर्णपले निष्प्रभावित हुनसक्दैनन् । हामीले प्रत्येक दर्शनका राम्रा पक्षबाट भरपुर फाइदा लिनुपर्छ ।
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Discourse