Skip to main content

Scientifically Unscientific

It was my second year of engineering course and I was in the Electronics Communication Lab. The practical examination for the subject was going on and the external examiner was expected to arrive anytime to check our readings. I was sweating out to get correct readings for Amplitude vs. Frequency of a circuit but to no avail. May be the equipment was faulty. Out of ten readings, only two matched. Faced with the prospect of flunking the exam, I fudged the readings to produce a graph which resembled the expected one.  The only problem was that I noted down my first readings with a pen, so I had to cut them out to take down new readings. The examiner got suspicious at this and started querying me. After much arguments to convince him of the authenticity of the readings, which later turned to pleading, I was allowed to pass the exam with only the passing marks. Moral of the story : Always note down scientific readings with a pencil.

Circa 2010. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has tabled a report about the tests it carried out on BT Brinjals (genetically modified Brinjals). The section on protein estimation in cooked brinjal says that uncooked non-BT brinjal also tested positive for BT protein (!!) leading to speculation whether the report is fudged. The government has brushed it aside as a typo but after reading my story above, you know better.

This brings me to an important question - Why Brinjal?!!! Why not anything else? Its not like we are dying to have a genetically modified version of Baingan Ka Bhartha. It isn't even the favorite food of Indians, infact most people hate it. Now they will have a reason not eat it. It looks like a conspiracy against the humble brinjal. And the way Mr. Sharad Pawar is pushing this for approval, it will not be surprising if we hear of a Brinjal-gate in the near future.

The second big scientific mistake is the study which claimed that Himalayan glaciers will be melting by 2035. IPCC has now admitted that there was a mistake and that they were off by 300 years!! Its just another typo which made the world leaders who assembled at Copenhagen a bit ashamed on being fooled by a group of scientists.

The third big scientific mistake (and this one's revealed after 12 years) is that the Lancet report linking vaccines to autism is false. This report had led to a sharp drop in vaccination rates in both Britain and the United States and a resurgence in measles. People still are afraid to get their children vaccinated. Its now claimed that the study was conducted on only 12 children and hence not conclusive. Another case of data manipulation, if I dare say so.

What really surprises me is not that these scientists had fudged the data, but that how can they be so naive in manipulating it. May be they didn't bring a pencil with them!

My only message to these scientists is what Joey says in Friends, "If you are doing it wrong, do it right!"

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pi Hole - Ad blocking (Turbocharged!)

The entire internet is now made up of ads. To easily navigate it and find the information you are looking for, most people use ad blocking software. It improves page loading times and also uses less data (sometimes by up to 10 times!)
Google Chrome is the de facto browser of choice for most people. Google's main business is advertising. So you can see how ad-blocking software collides with Google's business objectives. When Chrome was trying to be popular, it started allowing plugins like AdBlock Plus etc. Then slowly it started partnering with them for "Acceptable Ads Program" for a lot of money. Now after cementing its position as the most popular browser, Google is now coming down hard on ad blocking software. It is turning off a Chrome API (webRequest API) which most ad blocking plug-ins use to block ads.
Enter Pi Hole. This is an amazing use of Raspberry Pi which blocks ads before they enter your network. It keeps a blacklist of most popular ad serving domains …

Centralized Configuration for .NET Core using Azure Cosmos DB and Narad

We are living in a micro services world. All these services are generally hosted in Docker container which are ephemeral. Moreover these service need to start themselves up, talk to each other, etc. All this needs configuration and there are many commercially available configuration providers like Spring Cloud Config Server, Consul etc. These are excellent tools which provide a lot more functionality than just storing configuration data. However all these have a weakness - they have a single point of failure - their storage mechanism be it a file system, database etc. There are ways to work around those but if you want a really simple place to store configuration values and at the same time make it highly available, with guaranteed global availability and millisecond reads, what can be a better tool than Azure Cosmos DB!
So I set forth on this journey for ASP.NET Core projects to talk to Cosmos DB to retrieve their configuration data. For inspiration I looked at Steeltoe Configuratio…

IoT on Google Cloud Platform

Google wants people to use its Cloud Platform for connecting and managing IoT devices through IoT Core and use other GCP components like BigQuery to analyze data produced by those devices. While these products are fantastic, they also have some real world challenges.
IoT Core provides a managed service for connecting IoT devices. It talks with both HTTP and MQTT protocols and features one-click integration with Cloud PubSub easing most of the infrastructure tasks. However there are some limitations:
You cannot use any random MQTT topic to send/receive messages as you would expect on a custom MQTT bridge. There are special topic formats to send messages and also to receive commands.IoT Core uses Public-Private Key cryptography to secure devices. All IoT devices must first authenticate using the Public Key in a JWT token and then start sending and receiving messages. While these may seem like reasonable restrictions, one has to keep in mind that hardware vendors are still stuck in the 9…