In 1948, celebrated physicist and Nobel laureate, Richard Feynman introduced what came to be called Feynman diagrams. These were a pictorial representation of mathematical equations and served as a powerful tool in understanding and visualizing complex interactions between sub-atomic particles like protons and electrons. But this simplistic tool could not handle complex problems, where particles underwent many interactions, but instead produced incomprehensible and confounding answers, like infinities.
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This year’s National Science Day, celebrated to commemorate the discovery of Dr. C V Raman’s ‘Raman Effect’, is themed around ‘Science and Technology for Specially Abled Persons’. One billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability today, and the prevalence of disability is highest in developing countries like India. A report by World Bank estimates that about 110-190 million of them experience significant disabilities. ‘Persons with disabilities’ or PwDs include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in the society.
Many lifesaving medical devices such as urinary catheters, pacemakers, intrauterine devices and voice prosthesis, which are usually inserted into some part of the body, are plagued by a common problem – ‘bacterial biofilms’. These ‘biofilms’ grow on the surfaces of these devices and may cause infections. They are harder to treat than individual bacteria and need about 1000 – 10000 times stronger dose of antibiotics. But this may no longer be the case, as a group of scientists led by Prof. Dipshikha Chakravortty and Prof. Jagadeesh Gopalan from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, have found a novel method to fight biofilm infections.