Let’s Draw Some Venn Diagrams!

Google Doodle today, August 4th 2014, marks 180th birthday of John Venn, the man who gave us Venn Diagrams (http://www.google.com/doodles/john-venns-180th-birthday). Anyone who has ever taken any course in statistics knows Venn Diagrams, probably as the most interesting thing they learned in the class. For those unaware of this concept, Venn Diagrams are drawn to find commonalities or, in statistical terms, intersection of two more sets.

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Even though most of the people may not have used these diagrams in a statistical or scientific environment, they have been used all over the place to come to a common decision. People use them to find common grounds or “meet in the middle” all the time. But it was a great man named John Venn who gave this technique, to pick common entities in various sets, a name and formed a concept so essential to the field of statistics. So let’s take a moment to remember this great guy who gave us this wonderful drawing system to solve statistical problems and personal disputes alike. I, for one, hope John Venn got a special place in heaven for making probability and statistics class somewhat interesting with these wonderful circles.

Humans and the Unwarranted Suffering of Animals

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/09/world/europe/denmark-zoo-giraffe/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Reading the article about the killing of a healthy giraffe in the Copenhagen zoo has deeply saddened me, as it did many other people around the world. The poor animal was killed to prevent “inbreeding”, a problem that could have been solved by transferring it to another zoo or by simply neutering it. Why it had to lose its life is a question no one can seem to find an answer to. Apparently there had been a petition going on, signed by many people to “Save Marius”, a beautiful and healthy 2 years old male giraffe but was completely ignored by those in-charge of “preventing inbreeding” of giraffes.

This recent event has made me ponder, once again, how far we- humans- going to go to play God and decide the fate of other species we share the planet with? We have already ruined the natural habitats of so many species; poached others for our selfish urge for luxury only fulfilled by the ivory decor, fur coats and animal skin handbags. Whatever was left by direct atrocities, we have covered by polluting the environment so the innocent fauna can die by slow poison. But thats not all, we are by no means satisfied by dead animals; we want them to live confined  in small tin can like areas and make them dance and entertain us. And when the frustrated creature protests and expresses rage, its definitely the animal who is at fault and is crazy; but no, the humans were only trying to help it and give it a better life by life-long imprisonment. Yes, I am talking about Tilikum, the famous orca from “Blackfish” who was blamed for injuries and deaths of its trainers.

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/cnn-films-blackfish/index.html

I had goosebumps watching the “Blackfish” documentary by CNN and was ashamed of having seen a dolphin/orca show at a different aquarium in the past. At the time I had no idea how sad the lives of these beautiful creatures were but it broke my heart to see what they have to go through. I am glad that people are taking a stand against the capture and use of such intelligent creatures for human entertainment. I only wish that the Copenhagen zoo sees a similar backlash that SeaWorld received and is still receiving at the revelation of the story of Tilikum.

But the question still remains, what makes humans make such horrible decisions to take to take or ruin the lives of innocent animals when there is no dire emergency or need to save the world by harming animals? Have we lost all compassion living in this mean-mean world or is it our desperation to have some sort of control on whatever we can, however we can? I have no answer for my own questions but I hope humans realize soon that they are not the sole inhabitants of earth and being the most intelligent of them all, we are responsible to protect them all; As Ben Parker (from Spiderman) would say “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Art of Science or Science of Art?

This world remains mysterious, but what’s more mysterious is the way one’s mind perceives the world. Every passing minute, numerous thoughts cross our mind- some colorful, some black and white, some with an element of joy and others with a dash of sorrow- but they all are a product of what we perceive. The way we convey these ideas, swirling in our minds, forms our expressions. And when these expressions reveal the inner-self and cerebration in a creative manner, they become art.

I have often found myself torn between the world of science and art, one of the first times being the moment of decision for the pursuit of my career. I loved both but, as is the truth, could not pursue both simultanously. I picked science; and now that I can call myself a scientist, I can confidently say that science is really a form of art and art is many times either science or borrows elements of science. So really, I never departed from my love of art, I made  it my profession in the form of science and didn’t realize it for a long time. If art is the expression of the internal thought process, then what better a way to express them by turning it to a material object. I would not refrain from calling a computer program or a tissue culture  or an internal combustion engine, works of art. All art gains value as it gets old, and the same goes with technology- ever tried buying old cars, first generation computers or original drawings by some famous scientist? I even came across companies, during my random web searches, that sell prints/posters of patents of popular technology as wall art. The images taken for scientific purposes- whether they are the pictures of the earth from space or a microorganism or a bright fluorescent microscope if cells- can be called artwork just because of their sheer beauty and the joy and awe they bring to the onlooker. I took the following pictures using a polarized optical microscope of liquid-crysals and while they depict some important properties of the materials I was visualizing, I would call nothing less than art that can be displayed on a large print on a wall somewhere.

150C 110H

In the same way, science lends quite a bit to to to the world of conventional art. There would not be any paintings if no one put the science of colors and pigments to practice. Whether we think about it or not, the music we enjoy so much is a product of the propagation of sound waves through various media and has been studies extensively over the years to perfect the musical instruments. The movies are the prime art form today’s generation recognizes and enjoys and all that is possible because science has been hard at work to develop the best cameras, visual effects, and the equipment for those amazing action scenes we all enjoy  among other things.

I have loved my science and art world from the jump and now I want to share my views about them with the world. I decided to begin my blog by sharing my views about art and some actual science-art that I have produced. In the coming posts, I will write about creativity and art that spurs my interest- from the world of science, nature, visual arts, performing arts, literature or any other art form I find along the way; and may be drop-in to talk about the current affairs sometimes too. Thank you for reading my premiere post and if you like where I am going, please stay tuned for more!