नोबेल नगरीतील नवलस्वप्ने २००२
Author: सुधीर थत्ते
Publisher: ग्रंथाली प्रकाशन
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सुधीर थत्ते आणि नंदिनी थत्ते हे दाम्पत्य अगदी साधी उदाहरणे देऊन नोबेल पारितोषिके पटकावणार्या वैज्ञानिक शोधांची माहिती सर्वांना समजेल अशा भाषेत या पुस्तकांत देतात.
Reader Comments: Ravi Apte writes on Tue Mar 22 04:36:49 2005:
On A Sci-High
A science-loving couple use some Marathi and simple analogies to explain Nobel Prize-winning discoveries
Pairing cutting-edge scientific research with Laurel and Hardy? Or Sherlock Holmes? Surely not. But like a good scientist, Sudhir Thattey brings together the unlikeliest ingredients to create a concoction of full-throttle mystery, surprise and scientific discovery.
A scientist in the Laser and Plasmatechnology division of Bombay\x92s Bhabha Atomic Research Institute, Thattey presses new-age Detective Holmes into service to uncover a national terrorist network. Holmes gets the police to cordon off the network but the terrorists can cross through. It turns out this is an internal agent who had crossed over.
This may sound like a good potboiler but it exactly mirrors the discovery of prion or the disease-causing protein by Stanley Prusiner, which won him the 1997 Nobel Prize for Medicine. While conventional wisdom suggested that bacteria, virus and fungi caused
disease and proteins were good for the body, Prusiner, tipped by the unexplained death of a patient, found that a protein with the wrong structure can cause disease. He said that proteins could be very similar but have positive or negative neurons. While positive neurons were good for the body, negative neurons could disrupt messages from reaching the brain or cause disease.
Thattey and his economics graduate wife Nandini create such racy stories in Marathi, complete with colour illustrations, that provide the perfect analogies from everyday life for esoteric scientific research, bringing it closer to people whose lives are altered by such research but who still feel they cannot relate to it.
In a funny but apt illustration, comic character Hardy can get through a small door but Laurel cannot. This is used to show the 2003 Nobel Prize-winning discovery in chemistry by Roderick McKinnon of ion channels on the surface of nerve cells. Ion channels open and close based on different cellular signals rather than size.
In fact, Nobel Nagriche Nawal Sapne (Wonder Dreams From Nobel City), the series of books that will come out for the 10th year this year, has won three state literary awards from the Maharashtra state government and has been appreciated by the winners themselves. John Walker, the 1997 prize-winner in chemistry, wrote back saying "part of my job is to explain our complex science to the general public and to make it understandable to them. I am grateful to you for making it so".
The Thatteys, who can best be described as science junkies, are also driven by what they call "the diamond jubilee of no Indian Nobel prize". While the Indian economy is powered by its engineers and doctors, their rise has coincided with the declining interest in pure sciences. Youngsters are put off either by unimaginative science curricula at school; those interested are redirected towards engineering or medicine.
The Thatteys\x92 books, written in Marathi, reach out to children and adults, often in rural areas. So, Dr Thattey often fields calls from young readers who, inspired by the books, want to study pure sciences. One engineering student from Marathwada called in saying asking if there was any way he could still be in the sciences. Thattey patiently mentors them all and regularly does science camps all over the state. To connect with these readers, the authors regularly use very Indian analogies like using the water wheel in a well to describe the transfer of energy in the body or the split-second precision of acrobats to explain a complex area like femtochemistry (an area of physical chemistry that measures chemical reactions on the timescale of femtoseconds\x97one femtosecond is 0.000000000000001 seconds).
The Thatteys have been writing about science for many years; their works have included a series on the history of inventions and a prize-winning book on the future of science and its place in society.