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IIT-JEE topper becomes an experimental biologist Mr. Nitin Gupta, AIR-1 in JEE-2000, speaks exclusively to “Hello Science” on his journey from Kota to California. Today’s JEE and Medical aspirants were in their childhood when a boy from Kota provided the city and the Bansal Classes their first IIT-JEE topper. Mr. Nitin Gupta, who secured AIR-0001 in the IIT-JEE mains examination in year 2000 is now at the National Institute of Health (NIH) in US undertaking cutting edge research in biology. He took special time to speak to Hello Science (HS) about his career. ---------------------------------------HS: Welcome! Mr. Nitin. Nitin: Thank you. I will be happy if my story becomes a source of motivation for students.
Dr. Nitin Gupta
decide to go for bio-informatics. HS: What did you do the after completion of your B. Tech? Nitin: After completing my B. Tech in 2004, I joined Ph.D. in Bioinformatics and Systems biology under Prof. Pavel Pevzner at the University of California, San Diego. Meanwhile, I did summer internships at San Diego (2005) and Seattle (2006). After Ph.D. in 2009, I did post-doc at USCD in cognitive neuroscience. Currently, I am at NIH as a post-doc fellow in the Unit of Sensory Coding and Neural Ensembles. HS: Where do you find yourself in your journey today? Nitin: I started with computational projects, and slowly I moved towards experimental biology, using computers only when necessary. There is so much to learn and to find out about nature, and I am still in the very beginning of this journey.
HS: It is a trend that the successful IIT-JEE candidates prefer IITBombay. What made you go to IITKanpur? Nitin: IIT-Kanpur is known for its high academic standards world-over. My inclination for excellence and quality why, I decided to explore research. made me choose Computer Science HS: What made you finally decide that you are going to quit IAS and Engineering at IIT Kanpur. preparation for a science career? HS: What exactly did you have in Nitin: I essentially explored two your mind regarding your future fields that make use of computer science skills: bio-informatics and prospects when you joined IITK? Nitin: My parents wanted me to do artificial intelligence. I applied for a IAS. So, I started preparing for it in my month-long project position at 2nd year. After one semester, I realized National Center for Biological that I would be more happy and Sciences in Bangalore in the winter productive in a scientific career. That’s break of the third year. It was a good experience which made me finally
HS: What are your hobbies? Nitin: In free time, I ponder over Vedanta, play squash, occasionally write and go hiking. I have been involved in social work and created a web application for writing in Hindi. HS: Could you give an inspiring remark for students? Nitin: When you get into an engineering college, do not forget that it is only the beginning. If you can work there to find your field of interest and develop skills in it, life will be a lot of fun. HS: Thank you, Mr. Nitin. Nitin: Thank you. -----------------------------------------(This interview is only informative and motivational and not intended for any endorsement purpose.)
Chatur, Wangdu and IIT If IITs do not look for bookworms,..then whom? KOTA IIT-JEE is rated as the most competitive exam in the world at the UG (undergraduate) level. It can be understood from the fact IITs accept around 2% of their applicants while the Harvard University accepts 10%. It is very important to understand what IITs exactly search among the candidates. IIT professors and prominent educationists are of the opinion that JEE questions must identify the hidden talent. They must be so designed that any student having fundamental understanding of the concepts would be able to handle and perform well. IITs are also the institutes of national importance. So, they tend to make the exam as fair as possible. You must have noticed that gradually papers have been simplified and appear of NCERT level. This reform was suggested to compensate for expensive JEE training some students get. More than this, IITs look for future leaders. And they design their UG (undergraduate) courses on the same lines. But professors at the IITs are concerned about lack of genuine interests among the new entrants. It is as if successful JEE candidates vie only for IIT-stamp for high paying jobs. Consequently, the resources of IITs remain
CO2: our enemy in the 21st century If you ask someone, why there is so much hue and cry over the world about global warming then the answer would be that our earth is wa r m i n g u p. A n d t h e g a s e s responsible for it are CO2, Methane etc. Then the immediate point comes to the mind is that if these gases were always present in the surroundings so why global warming only now. The exact point here is that the amounts (concentrations) of these gases have overtaken tolerance level of earth system. These gases trap infra Red (IR) rays coming from the sun in their molecules. Infra red rays produce heating effect. It is just like a window glass of car trapping heat inside. This is measured in the form of Carbon-footprint. This would have a potential threat to our survival. Floods, droughts, crop failures, diseases etc would get more frequent and intensified.
Since we share common biosphere, the problem is global in nature. International efforts at the UN level are trying to find solution to the problem. One Nobel peace prize has been awarded to IPCC, the UN body of scientist studying global warming. What does it mean for us and what can we do to help tackle it? We should avoid wastage, minimize losses and help clean environment by being more eco-friendly. Individual efforts matter a lot in protecting our plant. This would be the most precious gift to our future generations.
What’s inside? CLASSROOM Units and Dimensions, Hybridisation, Probability,
SCIMAGINATION Thunda Ice, IIT-Lingo, 4th Dimension
LOOKING AROUND Touch-screen technology, Household Science, Bhopal Tragedy. underutilised which amounts to the loss of national wealth. So, now IITs are more seriously looking to the option of aptitude based questions in the papers by throwing surprises in the papers every year. Kota is full of students but few of them are CHATURs and very very few are WANGDUs. Majority of them only cram the formulas which concerns IITs the most.
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UNITS and DIMENSIONS Ignore at your own risk Units and dimensions are crucial. Simple and moderate level questions can be handled easily if students take care of them. Students often find it difficult when they are given any value per gram or per mole and asked to find it for some specified amount. For example, let say we are given 3 Joules of energy per particle and asked to find it for three particles. The given data can be written as 3 J/particle. Kids erroneously divide the value by the number of particles i.e., 3. It gives the answer as 1 Joule. They do it because they find particle in the denominator of the data. Now, just ask yourself-if we need energy for three particles then it has to be more than that for 1 particle. And if you multiply by the number of particle rather than dividing then you will get rid of the unit ‘particle’ in the denominator to get the answer in the units of joules only. It goes just like this: Total Energy= Energy per particle * 3 = 9 J. It appears very simple but confuses most of the kids (even very bright, sometimes) while calculations. The principle just follows from counting- “Data for more entities has to be more than that for single.”
HYBRIDISATION The saviour of the Valence Bond Theory Valence bond theory (VBT) and the VSEPR model are two important pillars in the field of Chemical bonding. However, there appears a contradiction between the two when we apply them on complex molecules. Take an example of Methane (CH4). Lewis structure tells us that Carbon is attached to 4 Hydrogen atoms through sigma bonds. According to VBT, these bonds are formed by the overlapping of pure atomic orbitals (2s, 2p x , 2p y , 2p z ) of Carbon atom and 1s orbitals of H-atoms. We know that 2s orbital does not have any direction (it is s p h e r i c a l l y symmetrical) while 2p orbitals are along the x, y, and z axes and they are mutually perpendicular. This gives the impression that three H-atoms of methane are mutually perpendicular and the fourth one is arbitrary. But we know very well that Methane is a tetrahedral molecule. Now, VSEPR suggests that all the bond pairs repel each other and orient along the vertices of a tetrahedron to minimize the repulsion. It looks as if things are
fine. But, here is the problem: if we strictly believe in VBT and overlapping of pure atomic orbitals then they can never be along a tetrahedron. And if we believe in VSEPR then we can not support the idea of pure atomic orbitals. This contradiction is resolved by the concept of hybridisation. It says that before overlapping with H-atoms, 2s and 2p orbitals of Carbon atom undergo mixing so as to give rise to new 3 hybridized (sp ) orbitals which are identical and oriented along the 3 c o r n e r s o f a sp orbital tetrahedron with Carbon at the center. Hybridization, therefore, is a hypothetical concept. This avoids paradox by providing a vital link S orbital between the Valence Bond Theory and the VSEPR model.
HEAD or TAIL: Is it always 50-50? Flip a coin 4 times. Are your sure that you will get exactly two heads?
Similarly, in any relation of formula you need to take care of unit-system. For example, while using Ideal Gas Equation, it is necessary to take the gas constant (R) in proper units. This would depend upon the choice of units of pressure (atm, pascal, bar) and volume (L, cubic meter). Sometimes, verification of the units also help recall the correct form of the formula. So folks, browse through all the units you studied in your subject.
What causes global warming? Green House Gases (GHGs) are responsible for warming of our Earth. The question is- what causes these gas molecules to absorb heat energy coming form the sun. If we look into the details, we will find that the gas molecules are always in continuous motion- translation, vibration, and rotation. These motions have fixed energy ranges. That means only certain energies can cause them to vibrate and rotate. If that energy is not available then the molecule will not absorb it. It is the rotational motion that lies in INFRA-RED range and absorbs Infra-red component of sunlight. This can be explained on the basis of quantum picture of light. A photon having energy lying in IR range will be absorbed by these molecules. Infra-Red light causes heating effect. As the concentration of these molecules in the atmosphere increases, more and more Infra-red photons will get absorbed and consequently the environment will experience warming.
What is the probability of getting ‘HEAD’ or ‘TAIL’ when you toss a coin once? All of us know it is ½. Now the question that comes to the mind (or should come to the mind) is what will be the outcome of tossing a coin twice. Do we get exactly 1 HEAD and 1 TAIL? And if we toss it for 4 times, do we get exactly 2 HEADs and 2 TAILs. If we are not sure of this outcome, then what is meaning of probability being equal to ½ for HEAD as well TAIL. The answer is very simple if we just look at the probability concept. It is a statistical result which gives average value. According to the law of large numbers, the average value becomes the actual value when
the number of cases (coin tosses) becomes very very large. If we apply it to our problem of coin toss, then getting exactly half HEADs and half TAILs is possible when we have large very number of tosses. When we toss a coin once then it is only a chance that we will get HEAD or TAIL. We can never test it in limited number of tosses. If we go on increasing the number of tosses, then the chance of getting exactly half HEADs will go on increasing. And, if the tosses increase to infinity, then the chance of getting exactly half HEADs (and TAILs) would become one (1).
Uniqueness of o u r l i f e
are features of life then what is the difference between humans and others? To answer this, we find that humans are unique on many fronts, including creativity, personality, abstract thinking, and moral judgment. Further human consciousness is a Are We just glorified animals? mystery that has evaded decades of intensive research by neurophysiologists and Evolutionary biology proposes that humans philosophers alike. evolved from No one has been a p e - l i k e able to come up ancestors. with a remotely Chimps and p l a u s i b l e humans share a explanation of how genetic make up this happens--how t h a t i s the hunk of gray suspiciously alike meat in our skull (almost up to 99 gives rise to percent). Also private Technicolor the ratio of brain experience. There weight to the is as yet no body weight in You look different- have you been neuroscience of evolving or something? humans comes personality. We closest to the h ave l i t t l e mouse. understanding of If this is true then we are nothing more than how art and history are experienced by the glorified animals. So, we ask “What is life?”. brain. If reproduction, metabolism, cellular organism
Electric fie Magnetic f
Thunda-Thunda, Ice-Ice What happens at 0º Centigrade (32 º F)? Water freezes. When the temperature outside is below freezing, for example, a rain storm may become a blizzard of snow. A cup of water left in the freezer becomes a cup of ice. The freezing point of water looks like a simple fact, but the story of how water freezes is a little more complicated. In water, at the freezing temperature, ice crystals usually form around a dust particle in the water. Without dust particles, the temperature can get even lower before the water turns to ice. In the laboratory, for example, researchers have shown that it's possible to cool water down to -40º C without producing a single ice cube. This “supercooled” water has many uses, such as playing an important part in helping frogs and fish survive low temperatures. In a more recent study, scientists showed how the temperature at which water freezes can be changed using electric charges. In this experiment, water exposed to a positive charge froze at higher temperatures than water exposed to a negative charge. Charge depends on tiny particles called
We and Science Whenever you find yourself in doubt, where do you look for your answers? Do you find Science helpful in your search? Most of us would say no. In today’s world our problems are more than solutions. When Science started with a promise t o answer everythi ng that could be asked a l l thought that bad days are o v e r and the world would be a wonderful place to live in. However, science turned out to be double edged sword. We not only produced machines and medicines but also bombs and guns. Two world wars, atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are only few of the disasters we faced in the last century. Pollution levels are very high, water sources are
electrons and protons. These particles, together with particles called neutrons, make up atoms, which are the building blocks of all matter. An electron is a negative charge and a proton is a positive charge. In atoms with the same number of protons as electrons, the positive and negative charges cancel each other out and make the atom act like it has no charge. Water already has its own kind of charge. A water molecule is made of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, and when these atoms get together they make a shape like Mickey Mouse's head, with the two hydrogen atoms being the ears. The atoms bond together by sharing their electrons. But the oxygen atom tends to hog the electrons, pulling them more toward itself. As a result, the side with the oxygen atom has a bit more negative charge. On the side with two hydrogen atoms, the protons aren't balanced out as well by electrons, so that side has a bit of positive charge. Because of this imbalance, scientists have long suspected that forces due to electric charges could change the freezing point of water. But this idea has been hard to test and harder to verify.
Pe o p l e ’s
Science paper is amazing and it would be amazing to learn about nature and natural phenomenon through shrinking, climate change HELLO SCIENCE. is bringing more floods, Pintu Kumar Jaiswal, Resonance, Kota droughts, food shortages. This is the world of science This is an excellent try to distribute whole knowledge of and technology. Are we science. more happy or more Ankit Rathore, CP, Kota
trapped today? Science has itself proved that it has in built limitation s. So, is it okay to criticize science f o r whatever problems we are f a c i n g today. Science is blind. If we are using it for bad purpose then who should be responsible. A person who kills someone with knife cannot blame the knife for crime. It is true that science has brought more benefits than harms. It is time that people become aware of problems and assume responsibility to find solutions. There is an urgent need to think over all this and plan for a better tomorrow.
Culture@IIT IIT Lingo IITs are much more than just acads. IITians have a special and a unique way of life. The most interesting element of which is their language. You can know some of it:
Hawa: All India Rank (AIR) in JEE GPL: giving bumps to show affection Faccha: a fresh student Fundu: Great Despo: desperate Dhaap: to steal Dhakkan: Idiot; closing rank of a department Chaat: to endlessly irritate App: applying to the Universities abroad Arbit: arbitrary, random Kholu: opening rank of any department Chapu: wonderful performer Insti: institute Mugga: studying Matka: M.Tech student Kela: spoiled Tel machana: spoiling something Phatta: cricket with tennis ball Undi: underwear Ulti: ultimate Vela: lazy person Zook: zero in exam
Strange facts about Scientists
Charles Darwin This is a fantastic idea. HELLO SCIENCE could prove to At age 12, Darwin confessed in a letter that he only washed his feet once a month at school, be a great invention !! due to a lack of anything with which to wash. Anonymous
Sir Isaac Newton He developed the generalized binomial theorem in 1665. He also developed infinitesimal It is well written and informative. I specially liked the calculus. PHODU MANTRA article. Albert Einstein Suvam (the footballer) He was a fat baby with large head and had Wao, really very great paper. It would be very nice to speech difficulty as a child. have science with fun. S. Chandrashekhar Saksham (Sam), Allen, Kota He first calculated the limit that a star will turn At present some science magazine full of ads of games, into white dwarf while he was on ship. mobiles but HELLO SCIENCE is full knowledge. So S. Ramanujan HELLO SCIENCE is BEST. He had no formal training in mathematics. Shubham Agrawal Hello Science would prove to be a pathfinder. Praful, Career Point, Kota
It is very very good. I think it is a revolutionary step in Rutherford He received Nobel prize in chemistry in 1908. the field of education. Dheerandra, Rise Academy Linus Pauling He received Nobel prizes in two fields: I liked your HELLO SCIENCE. Chemistry (1954); Anonymous Peace (1962) I was curious about a science paper. “HELLO SCIENCE” Neil Bohr a great media. I like it. During the Nazi occupation of Denmark in World Anil Kr. Sheoran, Resonite War II, Bohr escaped to Sweden and spent the last two years of the war in England and HELLO SCIENCE is really a helpful science paper. It America, where he became associated with the would help us in GK questions in AIIMS. Atomic Energy Project. Anonymous Mast and Zabardast newspaper hai. Ankit
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Touch Screen technology Touchscreens are becoming common in today’s electronic equipments. When we press the screen of such a device, there is a mechanism which locates the area of touch and sends the information for processing. It can happen in various ways: resistive, capacitive, acoustic, infrared, optical imaging, etc.
Household Science Q. What makes pressure cooker cook faster? A. The principal for the working of the pressure cooker is the boiling point of water. Under normal conditions, when the outside pressure is 1 atmosphere, water boils at 100 degree Celsius. So, in open container you have to heat slow to avoid boiling. Also, the steam carries a lot of heat which is just the wastage of your fuel. Pressure cooker develops higher pressure which raises the bp of water. So, you can cook fast. And the steam can be reused for cooking. Actually, the water boils when the cooker whistles. So, two or three whistles are sufficient for your pulaw. Q. Why hot days are generally followed by rains? A. During hot days, temperature remains high. This increases the vapour pressure of water. This also raises the capacity of air to hold moisture. Generally, air rejects the moisture in the form of dew as the temperature falls during the night. But after long period of hot days, air stores a lot of moisture which gets falls in the form of rain. Q. Do yellow bulbs of 60W and 100W emit different photons? A. If the bulbs are yellow, then identical photons (of equal energy, frequency or wavelength) are emitted from both the bulbs. However, 60W bulb emits less number of photons per second than 100W bulb. Therefore, the bulbs differ only in the intensity which determines the illumination that is felt by us in the form of brightness.
For example, in the case of resistive technology, the screen consists of electrically conducting layers. When we touch any portion of it, the layers get connected and it changes the electric current. This is then sent for processing. But the touchscreens do not always come as advantages. There is a common problem of ergonomics associated with the prolonged usage of touchscreens. It refers to the stress on human fingers when used for long time. Such screens can also suffer from the problems of finger-prints on the display. For that purpose, screen protectors are used to save the screens from scratches.
Q. Why does hot tea taste better than cold one? A. Hotter tea has less value of surface tension and easily sticks to our tongue and stimulate more taste sensitive parts. Colder tea does not stick more to our tongue owing to less surface tension because of low temperature. Q. Can I prepare 1 Molar solution of salt accurately? A. In 1 Molar solution, 1 mole of solute has to be present in 1 Liter solution. If we take 1 Liter water and 1 mole of salt and mix both then it may undergo change in volume either due to contraction or expansion. Due to new bond formation between the solute and the solvent particles the volume can change. Therefore, preparing 1Molar solution is only approximate. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You can send your questions and answers to: 08890753400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
oxygen species. This reaction occurrred in the bodies of a large number of people, cattle. Contamination continues in the form of water and other sources. 2002 inquiry found a number of toxins, On the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, hundreds of thousands of innocent people in including mercury, lead, 1,3,5 Bhopal died due to inhaling of toxic trichlorobenzene, dichloromethane gas Methyl Isocyanate (MIC). and chloroform, in nursing women's Official figures state close to 3700 breast milk. deaths, however other government agencies estimate 15000 deaths. Well water and groundwater tests More than that, the pollution of the conducted in the surrounding areas in leakage still haunts people in the form of disabilities of the new borns. 1999 showed mercury levels to be at It occurred from the tank 610 of the Union Carbide plant located in the city of "20,000 and 6 million times" higher Bhopal. than expected levels; heavy metals The reasons are mismanagement and organochlorines were present in and ignorance of safety the soil. standards. The runaway reaction Chemicals that have been linked to was triggered by the entry of various forms of cancer were also TIME: Covering the tragedy water into the tank which raised discovered, as well as trichloroethene, known to impair fetal development, the temperature and pressure at 50 times above safety limits specified by the United States which forced the valves open. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). MIC (CH3NCO) can be transportd What is most unfortunate is that even after more than two decades of the catastrophe the victims are still awaiting for justice despite their to the human body throught its conitnuous appeal to seek rehabilitation and compensation. reversible reaction with Glutathione, a tripeptide which An appeal for solidarity for the victims (Hello Science) prevents cells from reactive
2-3 December 1984, Bhopal: The Disaster
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