Making science popular

Prof Dr P L Koul

Some interesting facts
Author : Dr. B. L. Koul
Printed by : C.K. Printers and publishers
New Plots Jammu

In the preface the author talks about the fact that the world has shrunk to the dimensions of a global village due to the great advances in science and technology. However, he laments that this has still not changed the attitude of the common man especially with regard to the hackneyed ideas and superstitions and feels that the silver lining is the introduction of science in schools up to the secondary level. The author says that the aim of the present work is popularization of science amongst the masses.
In the first chapter “Man on the earth” the author tries to define “evolution” the descent with modification and formation of complex organisms from the simpler ones over millions of years of natural experimentation. The fossils provide an excellent proof of the process of evolution. The evolution of man is given in detail and mention is made of some of the ape men like Ramapithecus, Australopithecus, Pithecanthropus erectus and men Homo neanderthalensis Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.
The success of the humans was due to the opposable thumb , binocular vision and large brain size and as a result the capacity to modulate the environment . It is interesting that Neanderthal man had larger cranial capacity as compared to Homo sapiens the modern man and the brain was also bigger than the modern man but the life span of Neanderthal was less as compared to Homo sapiens and so he could not pass on the experience gained and this was the cause of extinction . The author also writes about the cro- magnon man the extinct representative of the present day man who is the most dominant creature on the earth
Chapter second ” our common mother ” mentions Gregor Mendel the father of Genetics and the interesting fact is that the laws of genetics developed for garden pea are universally applicable to all the animals , plants and other organisms and the genetic code has also universal application . The author talks about the mitochondrial DNA which has helped in resolving the issue of the origin and evolution of man and he laments that despite the common ancestry humans are fightging and killing one another in the conflicts of race , religion and territory .
Chapter three “out of the unknown” gives a detailed account of the development of the human from the fertilized ovum – the zygote to the formation of foetus and birth of the baby , the XX baby the girl and XY baby the boy. The author also gives a detailed account of the changes during the first year of the life of a baby.
Chapter four “Eradicating hunger: issues of population, health and nutrition” laments that despite great strides in science and technology 852 million suffer from hunger and over 2000 million people suffer from micronutrient deficiencies . The author writes about the dreaded diseases like smallpox , plague and typhus which are no longer a problem and the diseases like malaria , tuberculosis and cholera brought under control but the health for all is a distant dream as there is a high incidence of water and airborne diseases.
Chapter five ” Sanitation for a swachh Bharat ” the author writes about the need to develop efficient means of solid waste disposal as the quantum of waste has increased enormously due a steep rise in population and the consumerism .
Chapter six “Why conserve the wildlife “In this chapter the author explains the importance of the wildlife and the need to protect it and gives a detailed list of endangered and extinct species.
In Chapter seven “Insectivorous plants” the description of certain interesting insectivorous plants is given.
Chapter eight “Social organization in the Rhesus monkey” it includes the habit and the habitat of Rhesus monkeys their social organizational setup; The mating period, gestation and birth related issues are also mentioned. The author also gives a strategy to tackle the monkey menace in our cities and towns.
In Chapter nine “Incredible whales: do they have a future” the author writes about the types of whales, their habits, feeding behaviour, nature reproductive patterns and threat to these incredible creatures due to the excessive greed of man.
Chapter ten” The amazing Penguins” is very interesting. The penguins are primarily the birds of the Antarctica eventhough some are found in the warmer areas like coastal Africa, Southern America, New Zealand, Australia and other nearby areas.
In Chapter eleven ” The bird song” the author differentiates between the sound box ‘syrinx, of birds and the sound box ‘larynx ‘ of man and gives the details about the various sounds produced by the birds especially the parrots and mynas and the brain part responsible for producing the sounds. He also mentions how birds utilize their vocalization for communication and mating.
Chapter twelve “How do animals communicate.” In this chapter various methods of communications among the animals of the members of the animal kingdom are mentioned especially in mammals , birds and the bees.
Chapter thirteen “Do the fish urinate” deals with the process of osmoregulation (water regulation) in various organisms including the fish. The author describes the fish kidneys and the mechanism of waste removal in freshwater, marine and migratory fish both anadromous (sea to freshwater) and catadromous (freshwater to sea). The mechanism of osmoregulation in cartilaginous fishes is also mentioned. The author also mentions the composition of the fish urine.
In Chapter fourteen “Impact of pollution on environment ” the author gives a detailed account of the population of the country and compares it with that of China , USA , Russia and other parts of the world and gives an idea about the population increase by 2035 AD.
In Chapter fifteen “Global warming and climate change” the author tries to explain global warming and its causes, the greenhouse gases and their role, the future plan to reduce the production of green house gases and the danger of global warming to life on the earth.
In Chapter sixteen “Water for life” the importance of water for life on this planet is highlighted. The author has given a detailed account of water balance mechanisms used by various organisms. According to the author water is more precious than gold and it should be conserved.
In Chapter seventeen “Devastating effects of disturbed ecosystems “the author cites the example of Jammu and Kashmir to prove the point that the looters of the forest wealth especially the trees and the wildlife have caused a devastating effect on the ecosystem resulting in floods, silting of the water bodies and loss of the wildlife.
Chapter eighteen relates to “Eco friendly bio-fertilizers and bio- pesticide.” The author gives a detailed list of insecticide and fertilizers and their harmful effect on the ecosystem, human, animal and plant health and as such suggests the use of eco friendly bio- fertilizers and bio-insecticides and bio-pesticides.
In Chapter nineteen “Lakes and their shrinkage” the author gives an account of lake formation and types of lakes and their eutrophication. There is an urgent need to understand the importance of lakes and the ways to protect these water bodies from shrinking.
Chapter twenty “Termites the unseen destroyers” deals with termites having 4000 species, their symbiotic association with the protozoan flagellate which help in digestion of the wood and other organic material devoured by the termites. The author mentions about the termataria locally called burmi . The author describes the termite colony and it’s importance and the ways to protect our buildings from the termite attack.
The book is a laudable and welcome attempt to bring concepts of science and environment in simple and lucid language for the benefit of students and laymen alike. Furthermore simple illustrations added here and there in various chapters have enhanced value of the book. It is my ardent hope and belief that the book will be well received. It will certainly help us to popularize science among the masses both in the state and the country.


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