Tuesday, January 5, 2016

John Gurdon Compensates Kalam’s Loss

By Vinod Varshney

APJ Abdul Kalam was nostalgically remembered in the Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan, a 3-day apex national event of child scientists, which began Monday (04-01-2016) at Mysore University campus. Child scientists fondly remembered their Guru who used to seek a pledge from them to dream high and be creative. However, the loss was compensated by presence of British Nobel Laureate John B Gurdon who was as inspiring in his 82nd year as ever and resurrected the vision of Kalam.

Inaugurating the Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan, the 82-year Gurdon presented a comparative view of how life has totally changed, thanks to scientific developments during last fifty years. ‘There was a time when we used to communicate through post, but today communication has become spontaneous and almost instantaneous. Right from television to genetically modified crops, one can see enormous developments have taken place in the field of science. Science and technology has completely changed the lives of people. On the basis of the achievements in science & technology during last 50 years, one can predict what may come through science in next 50 years’, he said.

Giving a historical perspective while speaking in the inaugural session, which saw an attendance of more than 5,000 delegates from all over the country and abroad, he told how during the first world war, people died even due to flu, but now antibodies have been discovered to fight this. Cars today can be driven without drivers, and small piece of skin can be cultured to become different parts of the body. Later in the evening in a plenary session of the Indian Science Congress, a five-day event started a day before, he gave a talk on his Nobel-winning research on this very issue, showing how by a few cells taken from the skin could be used to make cardiac cells, macular cells and even brain cells, which can be transplanted to cure related incurable diseases.

Odd 200 selected child scientists would be presenting their research in the ‘Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan’ during the three days. They have been selected for that after a lengthy nation-wide exercise in which one million children of 10-17 year age group participated through their projects. They conceptualized, planned and executed projects with the help of their teacher guides to solve a select problem of their surrounding using scientific methods. Largely these projects relate to the focal theme. This spurs creative thinking and develops scientific temper in them. It has been found that they offer simple, innovative and cost-effective solutions to many unsolved problems. The focal theme this year was ‘Understanding Weather & Climate’.

Seeing the glowing faces of the child scientists, one can say, the 23rd Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan turned out a rewarding experience for them as they were thrilled at getting opportunities to interact with Nobel Laureates and other top scientists and seeking autographs and selfies.

Most of the participants have been selected through the National Children Science Congress which took place at Mohali between 27 and 31 December. The event is organised every year by National Council of Science & Technology Communication, a department of the union government. 

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