COVID-19: Boon or Bane for Science?

COVID-19: Boon or Bane for Science?

Hello Everyone!

The COVID-19 Pandemic has kept all of us at home for more than three months now forcing us to work from home. But, if we talk of CUBE, this duration has resulted in the CUBE STEM Home Lab Movement. In a span of 100 days, we have unravelled new innovations, bought up new ideas, Jugaads (I must say) along with hefty discussions which are taking place every day. CUBists from all parts of the country are involved in this. This is an achievement for all of us!.

All this would not have been possible on our normal days because we get busy with schools, colleges and our work!
The approach of a CUBist towards science as well the process of learning of science has changed.

If we take out a timeline since the lockdown started, we will see that every week has resulted in some or the other breakthroughs! These breakthroughs not only involve the good things but also highlight the mistakes, goof-ups which we had committed.

Be it the invention of the new Fruit fly culture medium (TRS-V: Tomato-Rava-Sugar-Vinegar), the discovery of tomato being a good attractant for fruitflies as compared to a banana, observing the colour change in Moina from colourless to a coloured one (and vice versa), finding a new species of Snails, in the process of inventing a (home-made) medium for the soil worms, studying the identification as well as the sleep-wake cycle of fruitflies and plant Phyllanthus, floral-dip method in Cardamine plant, the Tree fruitings, flowerings and mappings, Bird-calls and the latest one being Microscopy! i.e. learning to use our phone camera in the best way possible to take photographs and videos.
Not only practical experimentation, but we have figured out many concepts from the neurosciences, COVID-19 and many more. We have progressed in every aspect and shall continue this.

But before that, alongside continuing our work, each of us should summarize the work done and their understanding/learning from their respective work or the learning from others’ work. I know this seems a tedious looking thing, but it shall result in great outputs which will help us learn from each other’s mistakes, achievements and what not, collaboratively!

Isn’t it?
Let’s make a move and co-ordinate accordingly to give rise to a bhel (a Mumbai delicacy meaning mixture) of mixed thoughts, learning!

I will start with the summary of the work done by me and the learnings!
Since the lockdown started from the month of mid-March-2020, I have been maintaining Moina in my home lab in Nerul, Navi Mumbai and it’s been three months, since then and I have been culturing them successfully till date!
The culturing is not difficult, it is easy! (that’s what we Indians look for!)

Meanwhile, I have conducted the experiment in which the Moina turns into a coloured Moina (initially being a colourless one) to prove that it is due to their adaptation to the low-oxygen condition induced and then had turned those coloured Moina again into colourless Moina by keeping them in the normal condition.

Upon taking inputs from the CUBists from CUBE Kolenchery, Moina were fed with unconventional Yeast as a replacement to the conventional Milk (bacteria and nutrition).
Then, four weeks back, I had a short-interaction with uncharacterised algae growing in a couple of bottles so I had put Moina in those bottles and checked if they sustain. They did sustain for a week!

Apart from Moina, in the first week of April, I had done the Fruitfly Sleep-Wake cycle or Circadian Rhythm study.

My learnings;

  1. Never proceed in an experiment without a proper design of that experiment, our requirements, a strong hypothesis for which we are experimenting to prove or disprove it! Putting the plan of work will add a plus point as we will be getting improvisations (if any) from everyone.

  2. We should have such an approach that, even if we did/did not prove our hypothesis, we shall look for some learning from that, which can be shared with everyone and then we can apply the same next time.

  3. Lack of expectations/anticipations is not good! If we are in an experiment and there are no expectations from that, then there is no point in doing it because we won’t look for anything!

  4. Even if there is sad news or good news, we should look to present it as a BREAKING NEWS headline! Who knows that there could be a discussion hiding behind it.

  5. The Devil and the Divine is in the DETAIL! While presenting our work or even while taking observations, we shall look for details and grab hold of them as a piece of evidence to convince everyone! This evidence can be Photographs, Videos.
    Even the minutest detail will make a difference!

  6. Highlighting the mistakes! Mistakes or Goof-ups are a part of our experiment and learning to highlight them and then bringing them in front of everyone unhesitatingly is the critic here. It decides the fate of our further experiments.

  7. Science should not stop! Even if we don’t have the proper equipments (as in our labs) in our home lab, we could do it with the minimal requirements!. This thing ended up inventing a new home-made medium for the flies! This tells us that we should look for alternatives always and Sophistication is not required!

  8. While explaining our work, use of heavy words or jargons must be minimalised because neither of us will understand nor will we be able to relate things.
    Starting from the basics (very basics) is important because each and every thing in between will get cleared. For example: When we discuss the phenomenon of how the Fruit flies/Snails/Humans sense the smell (or any stimulus) and then react to it, going directly into the neuroscience aspect won’t help. Starting from what will happen at the first point, will be important because this is where it is starting from!

  9. Making bold statements (whether right/wrong will be found out later) and then being able to explain it with proper references and citations is important too.
    We should try to propose something which makes sense to us! Any reference picked up from the search engine doesn’t help that much. We should look for authentic references providing us authors, the year of publishing, the journal in which it was published, the lab where it has experimented and so on. Quoting the Nobel Prize-winning works along with the references will give us the inspiration to thrive for more! We have four models which have Nobel-Prize related studies; Drosophila (the king), C. elegans, Snails, Moina.

  10. Doing an experiment only once isn’t preferred because we won’t be able to make a proposition on the basis of the results obtained as it may be a chance-event that we have got such results. So, giving it a try is what we should look for.
    That is why I will be doing the experiment (to prove the adaptation of Moina to the low-oxygen condition) once again.

  11. Lastly, never forget learning and collaborating and let’s make this model constructive and not instructive!

Let’s continue this thread in a new topic for discussion.

Along with discussing the model organisms, we also discussed the logic and science behind washing our hands for 20 seconds and then what does soap actually do?
Why didn’t the Sars-CoV 2002, affect as many people back then as the COVID-19 is affecting in 2020?
Did the virus take one and a half-decade to evolve?
There are many myths which need to be busted.
Because the thing is, most people get carried away with some nuskhas or jugaads and who knows that it may end with something horrendous!

So we, the people from the Science Community should look forward to educating more and more people about the simple things which shall be followed.
Hope that this will work!