Thursday, December 01, 2005

Nature of science and its practice!

Dr. D Balasubramanian writes in today's Hindu about the changing identity of the scientist. Naturally, the topic has led him to observe that in the Indian scenario
The few prominent heroes had given way to an army of anonymous workers. In India, this came to be felt in an unforeseen, and unfortunate, way. The government invested money in large projects, missions and new research labs that a single department or researcher could not acquire. Resources available to individual scientists in universities were far less and university research could not keep pace. They produced quality students but these had to often learn sophisticated research methods and approaches elsewhere, outside their university. It is only now that this asymmetry is being addressed in some manner.
And, he ends the essay with this reiteration of the need of individual scientist:
All of these are possible only through ideas — ideas that need to be thought of, that need to be tested, found working and then applied to achieve the ends. And ideas come from individuals; this cannot change. Therefore the individual scientist cannot be replaced. It is him that we need to make more and more of.

And a sure way to do so is through schools, colleges and universities. It is these that we need to sow, nourish and multiply.
Irrespective of whether universities and colleges support individual scientists or not (since, for example, nothing stops university professors from coming together and carrying out research on some topic in a co-ordinated manner), the call to nourish and multiply these institutions of schools, colleges and universities is very sane and sensible.


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