Why Sleepy Cats and Falling Apples?

If you are a visitor, reader, or subscriber to this blog, chances are, you’re one of three kinds of audience:

  • The expert – individuals with a reasonable degree of familiarity with various fields of research, and fully capable of making sense of all the topics we discuss here in a highly technical, jargon-rich context
  • The greenhorn – those who have a fledgling interest, but are yet to have their minds burdened with the devil in the details
  • The layman – the ones for whom this endeavor was originally intended

This blog took off as a recourse to address a very real need – often times we were faced with immense difficulties in explaining to our parents or younger siblings what we were working at in the lab, day in day out.

Which eventually raised a more fundamental point – as researchers, was it not a moral obligation to make science accessible? To help those without a daily exposure to it be able to appreciate its sterling achievements and magnificent triumphs. To help them sympathize with its inherent hurdles and heartbreaking limitations. And above all, to develop a sense of how truly ethereal, yet unavoidably pragmatic the pursuit of curiosity is.

But why cats and apples? While the cats are a homage to one of the giants of quantum physics – Schrodinger (and his famous cat experiment), the apple is a mark of reverence for the greatest legend in all of science – the incomparable Sir Issac Newton.

The ultimate entity we pay tribute to with this title is the art of storytelling. The rich proclivity of science to effectively employ appealingly simple visual imagery to explain complex phenomena which may often be too abstract or mathematically challenging for us to even comprehend. From locking up sleepy cats in dreary boxes, to tales of how apples falling on one’s head inspired the theory of gravity, the world of science teems with such beautifully woven tales of discovery – sometimes becoming more prominent than the discovery they purportedly helped inspire!

But despite these, what we do realize in everyday life is that most of what we do as routine tasks has now proceeded to such a level of complexity, it often intimidates the general populace from attempting an appreciation of this treasure trove. Cats and Apples, hence, is an effort at breaking this artificial barrier, and encouraging open, jargon-free, yet informed discussions.

Sreepadmanabh M (Sree) is an undergrad at IISER Bhopal, who has spent the better part of all his college vacations as a research intern with the groups of Dr. Bhushan J Toley (Dept. of Chemical Engineering, IISc, India) and Dr. Ramray Bhat (MRDG, Dept. of Biological Sciences, IISc). From openly disdaining biology as a science in high school to finally embracing it as a career choice, he’s come a long way in his search for anything that’ll hold his attention for more than five minutes.

Navjot Kaur is a graduate student with Bhushan’s research group at the IISc. She works on developing affordable and accessible DNA- based diagnostic tools for infectious disease diagnostics. A chemical engineer by formal training, she has transitioned into also being a molecular biologist and her research is focused on exploring and developing the potential of paper-based microfluidic tools for clinical applications.

While Bhushan is a chemical engineer who loves to indulge in developing cutting-edge diagnostic tools, Ramray is a biologist with interests in developmental biology and cancer. Both of them were crucial in encouraging this particular endeavor from the very start.

At the moment, we’re still at a fledgling start. And we’re constantly on the lookout for more contributors – whether as guest authors, editors, designers, or even genuine suggestions for further topics to explore. Feel free to chip in with your suggestions/feedback, requests for articles on specific topics, or contributions. We’re always excited to hear from you!

Write to us at paddy97@iiserb.ac.in OR navjot@iisc.ac.in

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