A nest of the Asian dwarf honey bee (Apis florea) on the IISc Bangalore campus. Right here’s an odd species that dances on a horizontal in preference to a vertical dance ground. Portray: Thresiamma Varghese.
This article is the introductory version of a brand recent column by Prof Raghavendra Gadagkar, in which he objects the theme. In this column itself, Prof Gadagkar will explore attention-grabbing research papers or books and, while placing them in context, fetch them accessible to a huge readership.
Sir Noël Peirce Coward, an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, acknowledged, “Work is extra fun than fun”. I rep the same is correct, or ought to clean be right, of science as smartly. But that is no longer the long-established perception of the final public, nor of many scientists, I’m sorry to claim. Now, why ought to clean this be so? One reason I rep is that we outline science and scientists too narrowly, and the scientific plan great extra narrowly. And we capture a in point of fact minute peek of who can, and ought to clean, originate science, when and for what cause. If easiest we took a extra gargantuan peek of science and scientists, I rep science will certainly be extra fun than fun. To originate that, scientists comprise to explore in every single put. Now we comprise to capture inspiration from the monumental stores of info and records from start air the slender confines of science.
Right here’s no longer so straightforward, but I are attempting. I’m, as an instance, an avid listener of the Novel York Times Book Evaluation Podcast. No longer technique benefit Stephen Fry came on it and blew my strategies away. He made me creep and rewatch his [Oscar] Wilde and be all ears to a total lot of of his inimitable narrations of audiobooks. Two things struck me in particular. First, he praised Stephen King’s On Writing (2000) and his advice on spare writing, to strip away all adverbs… but then he acknowledged, “I comprise tried to originate that with my writing, but no, it’s no right… here’s the creator [I am] and if folks rep it’s overwritten… over florid, then so be it, they’ll comprise to place the book down and flip to anyone [else]”.
No shock he begins the 2nd volume of his autobiography asserting: “The total right artists I do know are bored stiff within the conception of the world and wholly unconcerned with self-rationalization. Self-revelation, yes, and in overall, but by no technique self-rationalization. Artists are sturdy, bloody-minded, complicated and unhealthy.”
Sooner or later I was switching channels on my tv and I came all by Raj Kapoor being interviewed by Simi Garewal. She asked Raj Kapoor to name his most well-liked among his many movies. He hesitated, acknowledged it was very complicated, but at closing named the film Mera Naam Joker (1970). “But that film was a total box space of business flop,” she protested. Raj Kapoor acknowledged with a smile that every his movies were incredible, they were esteem his kids and he loved them all but when he was compelled to steal a fave, he would steal the person who failed to originate so smartly within the world.
The English creator, actor and comedian Stephen Fry, 2011. Portray: Maurice ([email protected])/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0I no longer too prolonged ago watched the crude Argentinian film The Famed Citizen (2016) in which the protagonist says in his speech, when accepting the Nobel Prize in literature:
“I’m convinced that this plan of unanimous recognition is circuitously and unmistakably connected to the decline of an artist. This prize proves … that my work agrees with the tastes and wants of judges, specialists, lecturers and kings. Clearly, I’m the most pleased artist for you. And that comfort … has minute or no to originate with the spirit that every inventive work ought to clean comprise. Artists are supposed to quiz, to shock. That’s why I rep remorse about my closing canonisation as an artist. On the other hand, the most chronic feeling, mere pleasure, hypocritically drives me to thank you for deciding the pause of my ingenious adventure.”
It is this paradoxical mixture of self-self belief and modesty, which in actuality amounts to ‘zero hypocrisy’, that we scientists comprise to cultivate.
The 2nd the rationalization why Stephen Fry impressed me was because he spoke about his retelling of the Greek myths. I was at once led to his first volume on the enviornment, Mythos (2017). I watch the social lifestyles of ants, bees and wasps and any mention of these phrases, in particular start air the realm of science, makes me sit up. In Mythos, Stephen Fry tells the marvellous memoir of how the honey bee grew to turn out to be social and how she bought her sting. On the occasion of his marriage ceremony with Hera, “Zeus issued a scenario: whoever would per chance well devise one of the best and most odd marriage ceremony dish would per chance well expect any favour of him… The winner was the reputedly modest submission of a alarmed minute creature named Melissa [whose] name for it was honey”. And the reward? “Zeus acknowledged, ‘from this moment forward the gathering of your honey will doubtless be made more straightforward by my decree that you shall no longer labour alone. You are going to be queen of a total colony, a total swarm of productive issues. Furthermore, I shall grant you a fatal and painful sting.’ … ‘But,’ Zeus persisted, ‘while this would per chance well bring a tantalizing distress to the one you sting, it is some distance to you and your form that this would per chance well bring death.”
Fry continues: “Meliss is clean the Greek notice for the honeybee, … science calls the narrate of insects to which the honeybee belongs Hymenoptera, which is Greek for ‘marriage ceremony wings’.” I secure it outstanding how many names for animals and plant life, and dazzling bodies are derived from Greek mythology.
Stylish science has realized great regarding the honey bee. Everyone knows a monumental deal about how bees fetch honey, gathering nectar from endless plant life, with scouts recruiting naïve bees the exhaust of a dance language. Now we comprise uncovered many secrets and ways about how bees navigate to search out their food and return house. Now we comprise understood how they exhaust decentralised self-organisation to compose duties smartly past the attain of any individual bee, or human. Now we comprise additionally gained appreciable info regarding the composition and medicinal properties of honey. Everyone knows that the bee’s sting is armed with barbs pointing backwards, making it no longer ability to withdraw, once deployed. Every act of stinging is certainly an act of suicide. Now we comprise created a total business in attempting to mark how evolution by natural selection would per chance well per chance comprise shaped such reputedly maladaptive behaviour.
IISc scientists having fun digging up a queen-less ant colony of the genus Diacamma, come Triambakapura, Karnataka. Inset: how they’ll tradition the ants within the lab and mark them with coloured paints for individual identification. In these ants, the staff comprise stopped making queens and put collectively each domestic and royal duties by themselves – an bright invent of stand up. Portray: Thresiamma VargheseBut why ought to clean we eavesdrop on Greek myths, or any myths? I imagine that we must the least bit times clean wonder as great at what the Greeks and assorted ancients knew and guessed about honey bees, or one thing else, and what they bought ineffective contaminated, as we originate at our delight in discoveries; the honey bee queen was a king in their creativeness, as an instance. Only then would we win a total science of info production and it would per chance well per chance in actuality be great extra fun. But we must additionally be warned that it is some distance easy to transfer astray.
As literal interpretations of myths and crassly invoking them to magnify the glory of our past comprise turn out to be the narrate of the day, enable us to peek what Stephen Fry needed to claim about Greek myths:
“Basic as a pearl is fashioned round grit, so a story is taken to had been constructed up round a grain of truth… Myths … are imaginative, symbolic constructs… No one believes that Hephaestus ever in actuality existed. He stands as a representation of the humanities of metalwork, form and craftsmanship… Symbolical in preference to historical in origin as myths and mythical figures will doubtless be, … Most of folks who suggested and retold the myths would had been mindful, I rep, at some stage of their consciousness, that they were telling fictional tales.”
But why did they tell them? What feature did the tales attend, and how is
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