It's all Scientific, Uncategorized

A Cell is a Broken Radio!

I usually don’t write more than one post a day but today my brain is a fertile land on which there are sprouting thoughts of all kinds. Different categories of my still developing blog are shouting for my attention today. Maybe this thought process itself demands a separate post! But anyways…here’s what I am thinking about right now. A little Sciency…

The current model is true only till it is proven wrong. That’s just one of the very wise tings Yuri Lazebnik has to say in his famous (in the scientific community, don’t worry if you haven’t read it) article titled ‘Can a Biologist fix a Radio? – or, What I learned while Studying Apoptosis’published in Cancer Cell, 2002, Uspekhi Gerontologii, 2003, and then in Biochemistry, 2004. I read this article on recommendation and I have recommended it to tens of people since. It is a fantastic read, both for common men and scientists.

Yuri starts off by describing his fears when he started his career as an Assistant Professor about how he was ever going to discover or publish any meaningful scientific literature, given there were thousands of papers being published each year  in the field. He then talks about the various pieces of advice he was given by his mentors.

The most interesting part of the article though is when he starts comparing a biological problem to fixing a broken radio and draws out parallels in the processes and discourages the traditional approaches biologists use. From securing funds to obtain radios that are functioning (so that we can use them to compare the dysfucnctional piece) to dissecting the parts of the radio piece by piece to understand the function of each, he goes about explaining how biological problems are tackled step by step. He also subtly hints at how it is important that various groups from around the world work on this simultaneously so that different perspectives can evolve together to give pieces of information. He talks about how pharmaceutical companies jump at the mention of ‘New Targets’ that can be exploited for therapies. He wittily coins the term ‘Urea Syndrome’ to explain the shock that the scientific community faced when scientists discovered that Urea can be synthesized in labs (since it was previously thought that organic chemicals can only be synthesized by biological systems).

At the very end, he urges biologists to deal with problems with an open mind and be more receptive to learning sciences that are out of their comfort zones to give an honest try at solving any new problem comprehensively. If I have persuaded you that this article is a fun read and is worth spending a few minutes of your super busy day on, please click on this link.

Have a Sciency Day…


4 thoughts on “A Cell is a Broken Radio!”

      1. I definitely will though I loathe Kurkure and scold my nephew for eating them! Isn’t it strange that I hated ice cream and loved your post and now I hate Kurkure? Isn’t life magical?

        Liked by 1 person

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