Book Review

Discovered Questions

Yash Pal and Rahul Pal
Published by NCERT
Price Rs. 130/-

Discoverd-Questions Prof. Yash Pal, charismatic scientist and science popularizer, the man behind Countrywide Classroom and Turning Point, writes by way of introduction to the book, “Over the years I have been asked several questions that have been ‘discovered’ by children, young and not so young. These questions are seldom of a kind to which straight answers can be found in the normal textbooks. Often they are non-school questions and are not addressed by teachers driven by the need to ‘cover the course’. Many of these discovered questions require more than one academic discipline to understand.”

The book Discovered Questions is a compilation of such questions and their answers. Prof. Yash Pal says, “Do not take the answers as truth. I am not here to dispense truth. Let us start a process of exploration and joint understanding.”

The questions range from ‘Does sunscreen really protect the skin?’ to ‘What is Lorentzian and Euclidian space time?’ to ‘Do ghosts exist?’ to ‘How does the sun appear to a bee with compound eyes sensitive to ultra violet light?”. The answers are given in a chatty informal style, avoiding scientific jargons. The style is more like sharing an opinion and not like talking down upon. For example, the question ‘What does it take to be a Nobel Prize winner?” is answered thus: Nobel Prize winners are not demi gods……. They are often prisoners of great passion. Though some lobbying might help, it is often superfluous or counter-productive. Your work must be exposed to the scrutiny of your peers. You cannot get a Nobel Prize for doing something great and not telling anyone about it.

Every page of this 150 page book is a sheer joy to read. The questions and answers are accompanied by delightful illustrations. It is a must have book for every school library. Also, teachers should follow Prof. Yash Pal’s example and compile their own ‘discovered questions’.

vpsp Website Review

Vigyan Prasar Science Portal

Science students and teachers cannot afford to miss out on this portal. Vigyan Prasar (VP) is an autonomous organization under the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. Objectives of VP are to take up large-scale science popularization tasks/activities, to promote and propagate scientific and rational outlook, to act as a resource-cum-facility centre for S&T communication.

The Vigyan Prasar Science Portal has information about the science video serials aired on Rajya Sabha TV, information on ongoing radio serials, announcements of forthcoming workshops, a digital library, a science club and a discussion forum. For example, this portal announces the launch of a 26 episode radio serial “Atom to Star” in 19 Indian languages from 117 stations. We are also informed about the weekly science news programme on RSTV every Saturday between 10.30 am and 11 am. There is also an online quiz where anybody can log in and test his knowledge on any branch of science.

As a matter of fact, Vigyan Prasar gives authentic information about all curricular science topics in easy to understand language. It is a one stop solution for science students and teachers. The only criticism about this portal is that the interface could have been made a little more exciting.

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