Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Science, Research and Conclusions: It Can Happen Like this Too !

The biology professor was instigating the scientific curiosity in his research student.

He wanted the young researcher to give an in depth study on the ants.

The focus now could be the ability of the ants in recognizing sounds.

The PhD aspirant thought it a good idea. She was hopeful of getting her doctorate in biology.

That would make her much qualified to teach the tiny tots in the public schools.

Or the future generations of researchers in the government funded universities.

Or to become an environmental expert who can decide what Pepsi should make and market.

The initial months went in preparations.

The literature surveys, collection and collation of existing scientific information needed much time.

Though google helped in collecting all the material required to fill her voluminous thesis, she has to collect and sort.

That is a big work indeed.

Google helped in digging out even century old research papers like this.

The researcher was now much satisfied with her project. Not much has been done in this research yet.

There is ample scope for her.

Another few months went in planning her experiments.

Some more in procuring some instruments and gadgets for her experiment through her department.

Budget is required for the procurements. It is not that easy.

The purchase department of the university has to follow the rules. And it is bound to take months.

Finally she and her guide were satisfied. They got all the gadgets for their experiments.

That included a microphone, sound amplifier, drawing board, measuring tapes, nail cutter and the like.

The lab attendant brought the live ants for the experiments.

One each in ten small glass ampules.

Then came the due day for conducting the experiment.

One ant was placed at the centre circle on the drawing board.

A decibel adjusted instruction " run " was shouted to the live specimen.

The ant moved out of the centre circle to escape.

The researcher allowed it ten seconds.

Then the distance moved by the ant got duly measured and noted as 10 cm.

The poor ant was caught again.

Its two legs were carefully cut with the nail cutter.

Then the experiment repeated. This time the ant moved only 5 cm.

Then another two of its legs got plucked.

Again it was given the audio command. This time the it ran 2 cm.

Then its last pair of legs got removed.

This time the ant moved little. It registered zero.

The experiment got repeated on the other specimens.

All records of experiments got duly noted.

The researchers were fully satisfied. There is a trend.

Enough data for a good regression analysis.

Finally the voluminous thesis work got printed and bound.

It was ready now for presentation and review.

Do you want to know what the researchers concluded ?

It read something like this :

" The hearing power of an ant is proportional to the number of legs it has. "

This is a small adaptation of a story what I heard from a speaker who made a lively speech to us teenagers in a youth camp some decades ago. He was trying to make us understand the follies of life. What we see, hear and apparently understand may not be true. It depends much on our level of understanding.

We live in an era of information explosion. You get all kinds of information on almost everything.

There are researchers like the ones of the story above who come out with their logic and analyses which appear as true for most people.

There are scientists who convince you with their experimental findings and conclusions.

There are medical researchers who come out with various kinds of 'proven' remedies.

They also have 'proven' treatments for various kinds of diseases.

There are health and hygiene researchers who can theorise on the ill effects of the foods you eat .

There is also the media who drumbeats on all kinds of researches and findings.

There is no harm in knowing about all these.

But there could be some, if you lose your ability to discern the right from the wrong !

[Read more blogs of the author here ]

1 comment:

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