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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

National Science Day: Talks, virtual lab tours, screenings mark celebrations

During the “Ask the Scientist” session, a student from Solapur asked eminent cosmologist Jayant Narlikar, “Why are viruses pseudo living organisms, and could life have originated from them?”

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: February 28, 2021 11:11:18 pm
Science park department of Savitribai Phule Pune University on Sunday organised Aeromodelling show for kids and all on the occasion of National Science Day. (Express photo by Ashish Kale)

As the ongoing pandemic pushed the city’s National Science Day celebrations to the virtual world, several institutions on Sunday held talks around Covid-19 and asked numerous questions about viruses to scientists and experts. National Science Day is observed to commemorate the discovery of the Raman Effect.

During the “Ask the Scientist” session, a student from Solapur asked eminent cosmologist Jayant Narlikar, “Why are viruses pseudo living organisms, and could life have originated from them?”

“We need to study how viruses emerged, attained life, the properties they are credited with and how they acquire them. These questions require our attention. We may have to compare properties of viruses and bacteria, which is best done by biologists and microbiologists,” answered Mangala and Jayant Narlikar jointly. The question and answer session was organised as part of the Science Day celebrations by the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA).

Research institutes kicked off their live-streaming sessions, including public and popular talks, demonstration sessions and virtual tours to laboratories around 9.30 am. The events lasted all through the evening.

A number of science projects by students, in the form of videos, were streamed by the TIFR-National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA). The centre also hosted special talks on the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope and Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

“Though the pandemic has restricted visitors into the GMRT, we are still able to connect to a wider audience online from across the country,” said TIFR-NCRA Director Yashwant Gupta.

Demonstration session “Toys from Trash” and “The Trials and Triumphs of GN Ramachandran”, a movie, remained the highlights of the day’s events, organised by the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Pune.

During a special session, “Let’s talk on Covid-19 vaccines”, immunologist Dr Vineeta Bal said both Covishield and Covaxin are safe to be administered.

“Due to the global urgency which the pandemic posed, the permissions to administer the vaccines, whose efficacy for a short duration has been tested, were issued. Both the vaccines are safe,” said Dr Bal, who is also a visiting faculty at IISER, Pune.

On the further rise in Covid-19 cases across India, Dr Bal said, “Since this is still an ongoing pandemic, we do not know if the herd immunity stage has reached. There is a possibility that in some pockets of Pune, where the cases were very high, it has been achieved; but it cannot be verified without ample data.”

She added: “Vaccines protect one from the disease but not from contracting the virus. So essentially, vaccines are not a cure but a prevention which means everybody must continue to wear masks. There is a need to vaccinate as many people as possible quickly.”

The India Meteorological Department streamed videos on its vast and rich history, meteorological database and services provided for the user community on the day. The aero-modelling show, hosted by Savitribai Phule Pune University, remained one of the popular shows posted by its Centre for Science Education and Communication.

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