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Category Archives: KUFIT MAG

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

 

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 ।
[अन्नपूर्ण पोष्‍ट दैनिकमा प्रकाशित लेख]
 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Discourse

 

अजीबको जीव मान्छे


मुकुन्दप्रसाद उपाध्याय
हामी सबैले प्राथमिक शिक्षा आर्जन गर्ने क्रममा के पढ्यौँ भने मानिस सामाजिक प्राणी हो, अर्थात् मान्छे समाजमा वा मान्छेको भीडमा रमाउने प्राणी हो, अनि घरपरिवार, इष्टमित्र, टोलछिमेक नै उसको वैचारिक धरातल हो। पछि आएर मात्र थाहा भयो यथार्थमा समाज मान्छेको वैचारिक धरातल होइन रहेछ। त्यो त उसको रक्षाकवच मात्र पो रहेछ। मान्छेलाई जङ्गली जीवजन्तुहरूबाट बच्न, बाढीपहिरो र आगजनी आदि प्राकृतिक प्रकोपबाट सुरक्षित रहन, रोगव्याधिसँग जुध्न अनि चोर, डाकु, लुटेरा आदिको भयबाट बच्नका लागि मान्छेलाई मान्छे चाहिने रहेछ । मान्छे मान्छेका लागि त्यसभन्दा बढी होइन रहेछ । जब यी विविध भय र डरत्रासबाट राज्य वा सरकारले मान्छेलाई प्रत्याभूति दिन थाल्छ, तब ऊ एक्लो जीवन जिउन पनि समर्थ हुन्छ। उत्कृष्ट राज्यव्यवस्था अन्तर्गतको युरोपीय र अमेरिकी जीवनशैली यसैको उदाहरण हो। 
जब मान्छे प्रौढ हुन्छ, दुनियाँदारी देख्छ, चौरासी हन्डर खाएर परिपक्व हुन्छ, अनि उसले मान्छेको वास्तविक स्वरूप चिन्दछ, अनि तिनको आवश्यकता र औचित्यबारे घोत्लन बाध्य हुन्छ । त्यस अवस्थामा हामी स्पष्टसँग भन्न सक्तछौँ मान्छे जबसम्म सिर्फ मान्छेमै सीमित रहन्छ, तबसम्म मात्र हामी मान्छेलाई मान्छे चाहिने रहेछ । जब हामी आम मान्छेबाट अलिकति माथि उठ्छौँ, जब मान्छे मात्र नभएर मानव कहलाउँछौँ, तब हामीलाई के लाग्न थाल्छ भने यस सृष्टिमा सबैभन्दा खराब, सबैभन्दा निकृष्ट र सङ्गत गर्न अयोग्य जन्तु नै मान्छे रहेछ । धोका, फरेब, जालझेल, तिकडम, बेइमानी, दुराचार, भ्रष्टाचार, कृतघ्नता, यी सबै चरित्र, गुण र विशेषताहरू भएको प्राणी त मान्छे मात्रै रहेछ । मान्छेबाहेक अन्य कुनै पनि जीवजन्तुहरूमा त यी दुर्गुणहरू हुँदै हुँदा रहेनछन् । मान्छेजस्तो चुत्थो, मतलबी र स्वार्थी जीव यस ब्रह्माण्डमै अर्को रहेनछ । त्यसैले त आम मान्छेभन्दा अलिकति माथि उठेका सन्त, महात्मा, सिद्धपुरुष र फकिरहरू मान्छेको भीडबाट छुट्टिएर एक्लै बस्न चाहन्छन्, मान्छेको कोलाहलबाट भाग्न चाहन्छन्, अनि घना जङ्गलबीच हिमालय क्षेत्रमा र पहाडका गुफाकन्दराहरूमा बस्न रुचाउँछन् । मान्छेको कृत्रिम लोलोपोतोका बीचबाट भागेर बरू हिंसक जङ्गली जीवजन्तुहरूसँग नै बस्न रुचाउँछन्।  त्यसैले होला सायद पश्चिममा पनि प्रौढ र परिपक्व मान्छेहरू मान्छेसँग नबसी घरमा कुकुर, बिरालो, बाँदर आदि पालेर एक्लै बस्न रुचाउँछन् । समाजमा र घरपरिवारमा बस्नुभन्दा चिडियाखाना, म्युजियम र आर्टग्यालरीमा बस्न रुचाउँछन् । उनीहरू नातिनातिनाको भ्रामक तोतेबोलीबीच आफूलाई अभ्यस्त पार्नुभन्दा एकान्तमा भ्वाइलिन र गितारको मधुर धुनबीच बस्न रुचाउँछन् ।
मान्छे भनिने यी जन्तुहरू पनि अजीवका छन् । विश्वका आश्चर्यजनक चमत्कार र आविष्कारका जनक पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । मोटर, रेल, पानीजहाज र हवाइजहाज बनाउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । प्राणघातक रोगव्याधिका विरुद्ध खोप, औषधि र सर्जिकल यन्त्रउपकरण बनाउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । रङ्गीचङ्गी र सफासुग्घर सहरहरू बसाउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । अनि यस प्रकृतिलाई बिगारेर तहसनहस पार्ने, प्रकृतिप्रदत्त हावा ग्रहण गर्न नमिल्ने, प्रकृतिप्रदत्त जल सेवन गर्न नमिल्ने गरी प्रदूषित बनाइदिने कामका जनक पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । मान्छेलाई पेट भर्न आवश्यक पर्ने अन्नबाली उमार्नका लागि खेती गर्न सिकाउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् भने विशाक्त खाद्य र विषाक्त रसायनले युक्त तरकारी र फलफूल उमार्ने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । भगवान् शिव, राम र कृष्णलाई समेत गाली गर्ने र आरोपित गर्नेहरू मान्छे नै हुन्। गुरु नानकलाई जेल हाल्ने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । ग्यासच्याम्बर बनाउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन्। अनि महात्मा गान्धीलाई गोली ठोक्ने पनि मान्छे नै हो। त्यसैले त भनिन्छ, एउटा नर नरपिशाच पनि बन्न सक्तछ अनि त्यही नर नारायण पनि बन्न सक्तछ। 
नेपालको सन्दर्भमा पनि आजका हरेक नेपालीलाई विश्वमानचित्रबीच नेपालीको पहिचान दिने राष्ट्रनिर्माता पृथ्वीनारायण शाहलाई मरणोपरान्त उनको सालिक भत्काउने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् अनि पछिल्लो दस वर्षको सशस्त्र सङ्घर्ष (जनयुद्ध) बीच मारिने निरपराध जीव पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् र मार्ने हिंसक जीव पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । विधिको शासनको बखान वा वकालत गरेर कहिल्यै नथाक्ने अनि न्यायालयको फैसलाचाहिँ नमान्ने पनि मान्छेहरू नै हुन् । नेपालको सन्दर्भमा यस्ता उदाहरणहरू मात्र प्रस्तुत गर्ने हो भने पनि महाभारतभन्दा ठूलो महाकाव्य नै बन्नेछ ।
हाम्रा वैदिक साहित्य वेद, उपनिषद् र पुराणहरूले मान्छेबाट मुमुक्षुसम्म भएका साधकहरूलाई के निर्देश गर्छन् भने एकान्तप्रिय बन, मौन बस, चाहिनेभन्दा धेरै नबोल, अपरिग्रही बन अर्थात् आवश्यकताभन्दा बढी पदार्थको सङ्ग्रह नगर आदि। श्रीमद्भगवद्गीताले पनि भक्तहरूका लागि अनि ज्ञानी र योगीहरूका लागि त्यस्तै उपदेश दिएको छ । अर्थात् सारांशमा एक साधकले, एक भक्तले अनि एक मुमुक्षुले आम मानिसहरूबाट पृथक् बस्न तिनीहरूले निर्देश गरेको पाइन्छ । आम मानिस संसारी हुने र विषयी पनि हुने भएकाले तिनीहरूबाट अलग बस्न, निर्लिप्त भएर बस्न भनिएको छ । बाध्यतावश बस्नै परेछ भने पनि हिलोका बीच कमलपुष्पझैँ भई बस्न भनिएको छ । 
संसारी मानिसहरू प्रायः परिग्रही हुन्छन्, अर्थात् पदार्थहरू सङ्ग्रह गरेर राख्छन्। ती यावत् वस्तुहरू मानिसहरू किन सङ्ग्रह गर्छन् भने आफ्नो वरिपरिका मान्छेहरूका लागि तिनीहरू काम लागुन् । ती मान्छेहरू भनेका छोराछोरी, नातिनातिना, साथीसँगाती आदि हुन्छन् । व्यक्तिगत आवश्यकता बढाउँदै लगेर सङ्ग्रह गर्नु पनि अरू मान्छेहरूलाई देखाउनका लागि मात्रै हो । मान्छेलाई चौबीस घन्टामा एक अँजुली खाद्य पदार्थ भए पुग्छ, पेय पदार्थमा शुद्ध जल भए पुग्छ । आङ ढाक्न एकसरो कपडा भए हुन्छ । सुत्नका लागि ३ देखि ६ फिटे खाट पनि चाहिँदैन, धर्तीको न्यानो काख पर्याप्त हुन्छ । जमिन कति चाहिन्छ भने अन्त्यमा ६ फिट जमिन भए जलाउन पुगिहाल्छ । त्यति जमिन किन्नुपर्दैन । तर आफूलाई सुकुम्वासी भनेर गर्व गर्ने मान्छे होस् वा पीर गर्ने मान्छे, ती सबैजना आफ्नो आवश्यकता बढाएर परिग्रही बनेका हुन्छन् । शास्त्र भन्छ तृष्णाको कुनै सीमा छैन । त्यसका खातिर सङ्ग्रह गर्नु नै दुःखको कारण हो । यस अर्थमा पनि मान्छेको दुःखको कारण र दुःखको स्रोत पनि मान्छे नै हुँदा रहेछन् ।
हामी निर्धक्कसँग के भन्न सक्छौँ भने हामी मान्छेको महान् शत्रु मान्छे नै हो, मान्छेदेखि बाहेक हाम्रो अरू कुनै शत्रु छैन ।
 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Miscellaneous

 

Face to Face with the Universe

– Pushpa Raj Adhikary

Former Dean and Controller of Examinations

We human beings live in a planetary system of a star which we call the Sun. Our sun is just one of the minor stars in the cluster of about 250 billion stars called the Milky Way. We live far from the bright and densely populated nucleus of the Milky Way. Earth is one of the nine planets which surround the Sun, and continuously revolves around the Sun in more or less a fixed path known as its orbit. The earth is surrounded by a gaseous ocean. We live on the bottom of this rather opaque gaseous ocean. The earth is also one of the billions of other planets in the universe, nothing more than a tiny speck of dust in the vast galactic island. What can we hope to learn of this universe from our galactic backwoods?

In our short history of the existence on earth we had hardly had time enough to take stock of our immediate surroundings. We have just begun to know and understand ourselves. Thousands of years of human civilization are but a fleeting instance as compared with the periods of time in which matter evolves on the universal scale. Less than 500 years have passed since man first proved that this planet is a globe by circumnavigating it.  A century has passed since we discovered, at first by speculative reasoning, some of the laws connecting space, time, and motion. We have just begun to probe the secrets of the structure of the matter. Our knowledge of the universe is scanty indeed and we still have a lot more to learn. But we are inquisitive, have learned things step by step and continue to learn many more things about our universe by the same way and in course of time will unravel more mysteries of the universe.

Apart from the terrestrial landscape of mountains, valleys, flat plain, dense forest and oceans, man has been looking up at the twinkling dots in the sky for thousands of years. Some have compared these twinkling dots, known as stars, the twinkling eyes of the universe looking down on earth. Stars appear after the Sunset and must have looked very mysterious objects for early human beings. Beginning with idle stargazing, it has now turned to systematic observations, first with naked eyes, then with the simplest of instruments, and today with the help of giant telescope with lenses several feet in diameter and other sophisticated instruments. Now we can distinguish planets and stars.

In addition, we have identified various other objects scattered around the vast void of the universe. There are very big clusters of stars like our Milky Way. These clusters of stars are known as galaxies. The galaxies have hundreds of solar systems like ours. There are huge objects made of a gaseous material known as nebulae. Some objects are not visible to us but we feel their presence by detecting the noises they emit. These noises are known as radio waves and are detected and analyzed to understand about these noisy objects. We can measure how big a star is, how far one star is from another, and measure the distance of the farthest nebulae. So the old saying “Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are” is no longer true. Today we can say “Twinkle, twinkle little star, we know exactly what you are”. Stars are no wonders today and neither are they little. Other stars are several thousands to even hundreds of millions larger than our sun and are made of materials in plasma state.

The earth is surrounded by an ocean of colorless gases which we call air. Air mainly contains nitrogen and oxygen along with different other gases in traces. This air covering of our planet earth is known as the atmosphere and is spread up to 3,000 kilometers altitude above the earth. Clouds are usually observed at an altitude of about 80 kilometres. Somewhat higher, between 100 and 120 kilometres, meteors appear as shooting stars. A flying meteor is a complex phenomenon involving the interaction of a fast moving body carrying an electrical charge with the Surrounding air. Atmosphere gradually becomes less and less dense depending on the distance from the surface of the earth. Some strange lights (Northern and Southern lights) called Aurora Polaris occur in the uppermost layers of the atmosphere as high as 1,200 kilometres.

At an altitude of 3,000 kilometres above the surface of the earth, just outside the edge of the atmosphere, electrically charged particles from the outer space counter us. Earth is a huge magnet and its magnetic influence spreads in the surrounding space known as magnetic field. The charge particles which come from outer space towards earth are trapped by the earth’s electromagnetic field. They spiral along the earth forming three radiation belts. A disturbance in this belt causes disturbances in our radio, television and other means of communication.

From the surface of the earth we see the sky is blue and the stars twinkle. These phenomena do occur due to the earth’s atmosphere. So, how does the sky look when we watch it beyond the atmosphere? Astronauts and space travelers tell us that the sky looks totally dark and stars no longer twinkle. Rather they look like dull light-emitting objects. If we recall back, on March 18, 1965 an earth man named Alexei Leonov, citizen of the then Soviet Socialist Republic, first encountered the vast void of the universe face to face. Leonov became the first person from the planet earth to push himself away from his spaceship Voskhod 2 to drift out into the bottomless void known as space. Leonov was connected with a rope-like chord to keep from losing himself in the strange, weird void surrounding him.

Man is inquisitive by nature. As soon as we discover a new law of nature, we try to exploit it for our own ends. Having discovered the secret of lightning bolts we use it to produce electric light. By learning the laws of river flow we dug irrigation canals. We have harnessed the power of nuclear fission of uranium and will soon learn to tame the thermonuclear reaction which heats the sun and stars. No sooner do we discover the laws of the universe than we surely put them to work and make them serve us. We have understood the terrestrial laws and phenomena and made them serve us. So we can hope that by becoming the master of the universe one day we may be able to reconstruct the planetary systems, move stars about and regulate their brightness at our will.
 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Science

 

Disciplinary Bias, Interdisciplinary Benignity

Hem Raj Kafle
So many people today — and even professional scientists — seem to me like somebody who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest.                                   – Albert Einstein
 
The less effective our schooling, the more limited our sense of disciplines can become. The more effective the schooling, the more specific our understanding of disciplines becomes. Both cases entail the growth of disciplinary biases. The first involves deprivation as a root of bias such as in a countryside student who ends up doing liberal arts, education or commerce because of ignorance about and inaccessibility to alternatives, or financial inability to cash opportunities. The second suggests abundance  (both of money and awareness) as a root of bias such as in a city-born child who grows through a more organized and entrenched academic route, and can choose technical and professional disciplines like engineering, medicine and other applied sciences for higher studies in a highly developed place, even including foreign institutions. 
And society in general allows the biases to flourish in our attitude towards the relation between intelligence and disciplines. To take a case, there was a time, and partly still is, when passing the tenth grade (SLC) with higher second division or first division marks marked eligibility for science studies. Being in a science college then signified an ‘outstanding’ academic history in the school. And being in other disciplines more or less meant the absence of that history. Then not being in science with that history signified other exceptional conditions: either an indelible intolerance for science, a sudden conversion from brilliance to dullness, or unavoidable domestic obligations for landing elsewhere. That one is not born for everything, or that achievements in school did not necessarily signal potential for multiple talents for later life, or that success in life was the product of manifold experiences in addition to academic achievements, did not really concern people. The subjects in schools were forced upon you as quintessential to your growth envisioned in the general educational policy. The subjects you took in the university were supposed to either compensate certain proficiency impairments, or complement your potential for higher achievements. In both cases, an individual’s realization of the need for pursuing certain disciplines was systematically underestimated. 
The biases have been replete among the academics in universities to the extent of mutual exclusion sometimes, and on other times, the unwillingness to appreciate others’ domains. Becher (1989) describes this condition as follows:
Men of the sociological tribe rarely visit the land of the physicists and have little idea what they do over there. If the sociologists were to step into the building occupied by the English department, they would encounter the cold stares if not the slingshots of the hostile natives … the disciplines exist as separate estates, with distinctive subcultures. (p. 23)
Perhaps Becher’s portrayal of academic biases rings very true about our universities also. We can sometimes ascribe this to a natural condition. For example, when we are limited/focused towards a specific course of study in a university, it seems commonplace to take that other areas of studies would never intersect our lines. We are bound to work within formal disciplinary compartments.  But, such compartmentalization lends itself to narrowing the path of scholarship. According to Lattuca (2001), growth of specializations to the extent of disciplinary biases can “limit growth of inquiries and explanations” and “delimit the way of knowing.” She further portrays such narrowing of scholarship as “the decline of the front porch from which everyone could survey their territory” (p. 1). This implies the absence of a holistic platform from where every other discipline could be viewed as significant for the creation and sustenance of broader worldviews. 
I see, however, that the decline is not finality but a temporary process. As we grow to be professionals disciplines themselves invite us to tread their territories, however shallow or deep the treading could be. Because our intellectual needs and reaches are so diverse these days, we are bound to step beyond our disciplinary compartments. In this line Lattuca (2001) suggests, “Scholars in a specialization may have a disciplinary home, but they often travel elsewhere to work.” Shin exemplifies this with a real story in which a group of scholars in geography traced an imaginary geography in the works of Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Jane Austen, among others, which they did to discuss “the possibility of organizing and constructing an ideal place to live…,” and to understand “how places are related, positively or negatively, to the social and individual life of the people living in it” (“Confessions of an Interdisciplinarian”). This travelling is what forms one of the roots for the formation of interdisciplinarity. 
Shin further asserts, “Interdisciplinarity begins when disciplinarians realize that what they are looking for is not found in their own disciplines (“Confessions”). Interdisciplinarity, however, signifies more than an individual’s realization for the need to explore knowledge in other fields. It suggests, as Moran (2003) puts, “forging connections across the different disciplines…or even attempting to transcend disciplinary boundaries altogether” (p.15). In the most general sense, interdisciplinarity can be taken to mean a form of discourse between plural fields of knowledge. The discourse, signified by the root “discipline” and the prefix “inter”, implies the expansion of precise, rigorous and focused subjects into warm, pleasant and discrete but mutually uplifting fields of scholarship (Frank, 1988). This further presents interdisciplinarity as being transformative to the direction of generating new modes of inquiries. Nissani names such character as “creative breakthrough” where productivity comes from “linking previously unrelated ideas” for a holistic perspective and “unity of knowledge” which can “readily spot a disciplinary slip up” (“Interdisciplinarity”). Interdisciplinarity thus is perceived as a representative location from where to examine multiple worldviews.  
 
Interdisciplinarity emanates from and sustains in genuine collaboration between disciplines and disciplinarians. It does not signal the end of disciplinarity, but emphasizes the widening of disciplinary horizons and mitigating disciplinary biases. The true sense of interdisciplinary lies in the fact that scholars make efforts to know many fields of use, but not that they try to know everything. Similarly, it does not necessarily take to achieve the depth of every other field of value, but to be informed about the intensity of their  value in everyday life. This should entail the awareness and skills to tackle what Nissani calls the “intellectual, social and practical problems” of life through a multi-faceted approach. 
I end this essay with a thoughtful quote about how interdisciplinarity resembles the notion of taking different routes to arrive a single destination:
We all want to make our lives more meaningful tomorrow than they are today. This is our ideal. That ideal can be understood as truth for scientists and as an ideal place for geographers, as a good society for social scientists in general, and as a good life for the people in humanities. Because this ideal is to be achieved in the future, it is open-ended, and it requires the use of intuition and imagination. Again, I want to say that intuition and imagination know no disciplinary boundaries. (Shin, “Confessions”)
Perhaps it is time for us to redefine our scholarly pursuits and preoccupations and to begin to see the world through other  people’s eyes — irrespective of how we have been schooled. Would the world look different then? Or, would it change the way we see ourselves?
References 
  • Becher, T. (1989). Academic tribes and territories: Intellectual enquiry and the cultures of disciplines. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
  • Frank, R. (1988). ‘Interdisciplinarity’: The first half century. In E.G. Stanley and T.F. Hoad (Eds.), Words: For Robert Burchfield’s sixty-fifth birthday (pp. 91–101). Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.
  • Lattuca, L. R. (2001). Creating interdisciplinarity. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
  • Moran, J. (2002). Interdisciplinarity. New York: Routledge.
 
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Posted by on September 3, 2013 in Miscellaneous