Archive for the ‘Science and Society’ Category

Teach religiously neutral math

Friday, October 24th, 2014

My article published today in The Hindu, was heavily abbreviated. The more detailed original article in about 1200 words is easier to understand. The petition to teach religiously neutral math, and related material is already on this blog. A draft of a more detailed paper on “Eternity and Infinity” delineating how the West misunderstood Indian math, and its consequences for science today is also posted online for those who want to go into depth about the connections of present-day formal math to church theology on the one hand, and its failures in present-day science on the other. Imitating the West in mathematics is bad idea.

Hindu article 24 October 2014

As for actual alternatives in math education, my experiments with my decolonised course on calculus have already been reported in scholarly articles such as

Teaching math with a different philosophy 1 and

Teaching math with a different philosophy 2

Nothing Vedic in Vedic maths: response to comments

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

My article in The Hindu, 3 Sep 2014, received 214 comments and 4.3k Facebook Likes.
Hindu article thumbnail

Here are my responses. (A separate response in Hindi to Dinanath Batra’s associate’s comments on my Jansatta article in Hindi of 10 Aug 2014 is given below.)

  1. Abuse. Some people have turned abusive and chanted abuses like mantras! Funnily, their abuses are always the same, no matter what the critique! After working on decolonisation for the last 4 years, and mentioning the use of Indian ganita in the above articles, it is excessively funny to be accused of being a follower of Macaulay! Pathetic. These abusers have an equally pathetic knowledge of Hinduism, and hence are its worst enemies, not its owners, as they claim, for they confuse the fakes for the real stuff. (Incidentally, I have also given what is possibly the strongest possible scientific basis for Upanishadic philosophy, relating it to scientific and refutable notions of time,[1] but it is beyond even their leaders.) Anyway, such ignorance of the purva paksa (the critique) permanently disqualifies these abusers from being taken seriously, according to the Nyaya sutra.
  2. It is ancient hence it is Vedic.
    1. Wrong! Ancient does not mean Vedic. Buddhism, Jainism, and Lokayata are also ancient, but all reject the Veda as a means of knowledge. Lokayata said that Brahmins are hypocrites. Is that also Vedic knowledge!? If not, the claim “vedic = ancient” is just a second lie invented to “save” the first (claim of “Vedic” math). A third lie is now needed to “save” the second one! (Note that Lokayata are Hindus on present-day tax laws, or the Indian census.)
    2. Besides, how do we know it is ancient? What is the pramana? Our source (Krishna Tirtha) is recent. He hid his real sources, obviously for a good reason. If they were really ancient, why did no one else mention them in so many thousands of years? How do we even know this system is Indian in origin?
    3. The article pointed out that the usual algorithms are Indian in origin (unknown to Krishna Tirtha and his followers), and based on the place value system which can be traced to the Veda. They are definitely Vedic. Why abandon the real Vedic for the fake Vedic?
  3. It is useful for CAT etc.It is a very narrow and colonial vision of education that imagines that education is intended only to pass competitive exams The real social use of mathematics is on the frontiers of science and technology, where the mental arithmetic of “Vedic” math is irrelevant.
  4. Caste and Shakuntala Devi. (more…)

MH 370: My take

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

MH 370 has been in the news for some time, so I expressed my views on a visit to Penang, and this led to a press conference the next day.

The press has been harping on human factors, terrorists, hijacking by hacking, pilot suicide and all sorts of exotic theories. The terrorist theory was clearly wrong from day one: why should someone intending to kill himself want a fake passport? Hijacking or hacking also does not fit the facts: else there should have been some related demands by now. It is important to understand the correct causes to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.

The most likely possibility is a failure of technology, not human error. Very likely there was structural failure and an explosive decompression. What would the pilot do in that case? He would turn back to Malaysia (hoping to land), and would dive down (aiming to get oxygen back in the cabin, not to evade radar). [Why would a pilot intent on suicide turn back and fly across Malaysia, that too while trying to avoid radar?] Clearly, despite his heroic attempts, the pilot and passengers must have succumbed to hypoxia and hypothermia very quickly.

At this stage some people with pitiful faith in technology ask  what about the oxygen masks? Obviously they also failed. If the plane cracks open, the oxygen tank and pipelines too can get torn apart. A known example where the oxygen supply failed is the case of Helios flight 522 of 14 Aug 2005  (a Boeing 737), in which all passengers and crew died, and which continued its zombie flight until crash, despite jets being scrambled to intercept it.

There is a wrong expectation that the plane would have disintegrated into bits and fallen on the spot. Even if the aircraft suffers explosive decompression, the plane can continue to fly and may even land safely as demonstrated by Aloha Airlines flight of 28 April 1988 in which explosive decompression tore out an 18 foot hole.

Obviously, in this case of MH-370 (a Boeing 777-200ER) after the failure of the oxygen supply and the quick onset of hypoxia, the plane presumably continued on auto pilot mode, like a ghost flight, like the Helios flight, until it ran out of fuel and fell into the sea.

Clearly, this theory explains all the known facts, and as of now, this is the only theory which explains all the facts.

Further, structural defects are a common occurrence. In fact, the Consumer Association Penang had complained in 2011 when the Southwest Airlines flight 812 of 1 April 2011 (again a Boeing 737)  was forced to make an emergency landing at a military airport, after suffering mid-air decompression. In a subsequent inspection a large number of aircraft showed up with cracks and metal fatigue.

Structural failure is  a common occurrence just because the aircraft body is designed to be as light as possible, and that is obviously not the same as saying it is as strong as possible or that it is as safe as possible. Further, an aircraft being expensive, airlines continue to use it for as long as possible, increasing the chances of corrosion and structural failure. Clearly consumers ought be informed about these compromises and by how much they increase the likelihood of sudden death in the air. They can then make an informed choice.

Given the above long list of demonstrated structural failures of Boeing aircraft, this possibility ought to be vigorously investigated as the lead possibility. Instead,  we are being offered all sorts of exotic explanations through the press, explanations which don’t at all fit the facts. What is being examined by the FBI is the computer of the pilot (who had a long and unblemished record), not the computers of the Boeing company. A colonised mentality? or something else?

There is a relation to the previous blog post. Many people felt outraged when a bomoh appeared at the airport to divine the location of the crash site. However, so many people blindly believe in experts. They do not see that in our present-day society experts are mostly caught in a conflict of interests which they rarely publicly declare. Therefore, there is no guarantee that aviation experts would tell the whole truth, especially if that truth hurts the very aviation industry to which their livelihood may be tied.  And if one is not oneself an expert how does one know that the expert is telling the whole truth (or even that he really is an expert)?  So, in a situation like this, blind belief in the unbiasedness of “experts”is just another superstition.

Here are the reports of the press conference.

Press conference

English

  1. http://www.fz.com/content/mh370-scientist-urges-checks-planes-metal-fatigue-technical-safety
  2. http://www.theantdaily.com/news/2014/03/31/mh370-indian-scientist-dismisses-hijacking-or-pilot-suicide-theory
  3. http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/258645
  4. A video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V8gthtuGys&feature=youtube_gdata

Chinese

  1. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-1.jpg
  2. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-2.jpg
  3. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-3.jpg
  4. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-4.jpg
  5. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-5.jpg
  6. http://ckraju.net/press/2014/MH370-Chinese-6.jpg

Press release

http://ckraju.net/press/2014/press-release-MH-370.html

Mathematics in refugee camps

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Of what use is mathematics in refugee camps? And its history and philosophy? Explaining this was a tough challenge.

P.S. Here is a video summary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPWNL5YL2ds&list=UUTUs46gzu-mvO9hDIzzMfBg&index=1,

and on the Campus in Camps website: http://www.campusincamps.ps/en/projects/c-k-raju/

Talk in Campus in camps

The talk at Campus in Camps

https://www.facebook.com/CampusinCamps

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The “God” particle and creationism

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Wow, the reports makes people believe that scientists have experimentally demonstrated the existence of God and the church notion of creation! Discount those people (who believe this) as gullible idiots if you like, but that is the constituency.Article on god particle

National year of mathematics and delayed monsoon

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

But why a year on the Christian calendar? That calendar embodies the European ignorance of elementary arithmetic and simple fractions (hence their persistent inability to determine Easter correctly until the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582 when they got the length of the year from Indian books). Click the image for the text version. This newspaper has a circulation of 40 million.

Even so, the Gregorian calendar retains the unscientifc chaos about months. This is a disaster for Indian agriculture. (More details of the monsoon mess in my book Cultural Foundations of Mathematics, or an early preliminary article at http://www.indianscience.org/essays/t_es_raju_monsoon.shtml.)

More recent newspaper clips on the “delayed monsoon” effect are at http://ckraju.net/papers/Monsoon-pages-from-calclnm.pdf.

 

 

Islam and the Philosophy of Science

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

The Pusat Islam organized a talk on Islam and the philosophy of science. (Click the image for the paper. But the paper does not cover the queston of ethics of science, taken up during the talk.)

New curriculum for history and philosophy of science

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

A workshop was held at Al-Bukhari International University to formulate a new curriculum for the history and philosophy of science. Scholars from 3 countries participated. Here is the announcement for the workshop, and an earlier one on the Multiversity site.

The issue is part of the decolonisation agenda, but was precipitated when a person who trained as a missionary in Singapore Bible College, and never acquired any knowledge of science or philosophy, but got a PhD from Cambridge in the philosophy of science, started trying to use the classroom as a pulpit. See the minutes of the discussion, and the draft syllabus.

Here is a group photo

and a press report in Alef (Iran). (Click image to go to site, and use Google translate for hilarious results.)

Reimagining science teaching

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

To teach science one needs to know the right stories of how science developed. That is one needs a truthful history of science, not the trash history one gets from the West. Strange that all those who talk of teaching students to innovate  can only blindly imitate the syllabus from Western universities!

 

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Swaraj in thought

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

Colonialism used church propaganda to inculcate the myth of Western superiority among the colonised. It is high time to break this dirty and evil myth, which is still propagated by our schools and universities.  Had the British not got Mahatma Gandhi assassinated (through Savarkar), to ensure Nehru’s supremacy, we would have got real freedom, real swaraj. Not Hind Swaraj, not Swaraj in Ideas, but swaraj in thought

My paper on swaraj in thought was presented at the 35th Indian Social Science Congress, Wardha in Dec 2011. What a pity that the vice chancellor of the Mahatma Gandhi University is a police official.