What do we think of when we hear the word 'microbes'? The flu, a stomach bug or something more severe? The truth is that there are millions of species of microbes with an overwhelming majority being benign. However, it is the pathogenic and virulent minority that generally commands our attention. In this episode, Prof Balaram enters the normally unseen world of microbiology, and the connection between humans and microbes.
Veteran scientists have encountered carbon dioxide (CO2) in many discussions for much of their scientific career, but have scarcely thought of CO2 as a molecule that would one day occupy the attention of the world's politicians, a molecule that today stands charged with almost single-handedly being responsible for global warming and climate change. Prof Balaram takes us through the scientific history of climate change discovery.
In the late 1990s, a petition by a school student in the US to ban the chemical dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO) received 43 out of 50 signatures. This chemical that can cause death by inhalation is simply, water, and the petition, a social experiment.
P Balaram talks about chemophobia, or the fear of chemistry and chemicals, and its prevalence in today's times, where consumers are chasing products labelled 'herbal' and 'chemical-free'.
Sambhu Nath De went largely unrecognised by the Indian scientific community, for his discovery of cholera toxin in the 1950s. In this episode, Prof Balaram speaks about Dr De, his life and his contribution to the field of microbiology.
Is there a need for society to have an appreciation for science? Should governments support science education and research with public funds? What is the return on investment from science?