Stalled Scientific Progress

14 10 2008

My friends often ask me what kind of research I do in IISc. And behind that, I have noticed that they expect something big, like “I am making a material that is stronger than diamond” or “I will be cloning a human being” or “I am gonna make a philosopher’s stone” or whatever that they expect. However when I answer something like, “I make some organic-inorganic hybrids that don’t have much of an application” they make that dull face, say “Oh!” and walk away. And then they probably wonder, ‘this guy is personally responsible for India lagging behind in research.’

So finally I had to write this story. It’s a story about, I’ll tell you in a while what this story is about. This is of course as you might have guessed by now, another true story. What I am going to tell you might sound like a pure fantasy, science fiction or a flat lie but that’s the truth and it had to come out.

Amongst many things that people have asked me in recent times, they have also been asking me as to why I haven’t been posting regularly on my blog or why I haven’t been home or Pune. And all the while my answer has been, “I have been busy.” tough I haven’t given any details as to what was it that I was busy with. I had to miss my family reunion and also the weddings of one of my close friends. All these days I have been busy with a secret project, here in IISc. I know it sounds very far-fetched so I better tell you what it was all about.

It started almost a couple of years ago in a meeting, which sadly very few had attended. The meeting had been called to discuss why India was so far behind in basic research. Technology wise India is improving while in IT India is incomparable. But in basic science, India is sadly below its potential. We were some thirty students and ten professors. After a lot of statistics and “dipping-down” graphs we got down to discuss the ways to make those graphs go up.

“Lets collaborate,” said one of the profs, “and do something awesome.”

“That is a great idea.” Suggested another prof.

“But what do we do exactly?,” asked one of the students who wasn’t very fond of beating around the bush.

“Any Ideas?” asked someone.

“Lets make a man…pregnant.” I quipped.

There was a sudden silence and I realized that all eyes were fixed on me. “I mean there have been movies on this and also some stories but nobody has actually reported it in any scientific journals. Wouldn’t it make a great research?”

There were lots of murmurs, protests and stifled laughters which started turning into loud noises and arguments until one of the senior professors called the meeting to order and asked how many people agreed to it. Surprisingly, everybody agreed. It was surprising because there were people from physics, mathematics and chemistry too while the problem as far as I could see was almost entirely related to biology. As for me, the only thing I knew in biology at that time was that biologically a frog was called ‘RANA TIGRINA’.

A long discussion followed and Prof. …(damn! I cant use names, so lets call him Prof. Murthy) Murthy, was made the group leader and after lots of discussions following important points were made.

1) Until the experiment is over, no one of us was supposed to go out of the city.

2) Complete secrecy. We were not supposed to tell about it to anyone (not just our loved ones but also our PhD advisors.)

3) No one could back out once the experiment started.

Two basic questions still remained.

1) How do we get funds for a project about which we could not tell to anyone?

2) Where do we find a man who’d allow himself to be impregnated?

The first question was taken care of by Prof. Unnikrishnan (name changed) who had a very close friend in the government in the form of P. Chidambaram (name unchanged) who was the finance minister then. (He is still the F.M. at the time of writing.) Readers might remember the budget session when he allocated 100 crore rupees to IISc. Now you know why he did it. It was very kind of P. Chidambaram who trusted the IISc professors. Of course our F.M. wasn’t told exactly what was it that the money was being diverted into.

The second question was more of a “who’ll bell the cate?” types viz. – who’d actually carrying the baby inside him. A few of us volunteered. Finally the profs and the docs (who had also joined the project along with a couple of psychologists) chose Anurag (name changed) – he being medically the fittest.

The research got underway, right away. It was a very exciting yet a tough time for us. Like for me, as I said before, I had to miss my family reunion, school reunion and also the marriage of one of my very close friends. Besides I also had to do my regular thesis work during the day and during the nights work on the project “MAN-AT-ARMS” as we called it. A few of my colleagues had to break up with their respective boyfriends and girlfriends because the BFs and GFs were not happy with my colleagues for the lack of quality time they spent with them. All this apart, scientifically we were moving ahead at a fantastic pace. I myself learnt so many things about organ transplant, cell growth etc. Unfortunately I still cannot give the details until the whole thing is published in a scientific journal and/or it is patented.

As a synthetic materials chemist, I was under a project where we had to develop a biocompatible material that could be used as a Uterus for holding the baby. We surprised everyone by developing such a material very early thus paving the way for the next big step. Without much details, let me just say that the biologists and doctors after a few failures succeeded in getting a zygote inside the sack that we had made and implanted it inside Anurag, the mother-guy.

Meanwhile Anurag, was the one who suffered the most. He could neither get out of the lab nor could he meet his friends or family. His family was told that he was in Honolulu for a long training. And above that, he was also the center of everybody’s jokes. Being under the constant gaze of the psychologists often irritated him. Or was it a normal thing in pregnancy? The psychologists would answer that soon in their paper titled “Some common features between male and female pregnancies.” to be published soon in the Journal of Human Psychology. The group had, as I said, expanded and it was a collaboration in a real sense. Everybody was being benefited, right from chemists and biologists to doctors. He too has written his memoirs and has agreed to allow me to post them on my blog. I will be doing that sometime.

The days went by fast and the baby grew faster than normal because this whole thing wasn’t really normal anyway. And one day, the doctors announced that the time had come to get the baby out of its mothers/fathers artificial uterus. Oh, I forgot to mention that it was a baby girl. There were some complications in removing the uterus, which I wont mention now but the surgeons did a good job. Both, the baby and father were safe. The baby was named “Kalpana” because she had been conceived from an idea. She was one of the most beautiful babies I had ever seen.

However, the real issues started after this. Firstly it wasn’t clear how we could announce our discovery/invention to the world? And secondly, the matter had somehow leaked and it had reached to the top-notch scientists and administrators in he country. A meeting was arranged hastily. There were heated discussions behind the door. The government didn’t like the fact that it had been kept in the dark about how the funds had been spent. Some senior scientists were not happy because they were not a part of the experiment. A faction of people were not in favor of the whole thing because they argued it was against nature and God and argued that the whole experiment was immoral. Finally the government decided that whole thing be kept in a wrap until further notice. Prof. Murthy and others are still waiting for the government to give a green signal and fighting to make the whole thing public.

Prof. Murthy who doesn’t have his own child, has now adopted Kalpana. Our research papers – that are bound to have a huge impact in the scientific community are ready to be sent but have to wait until the government changes it’s mind. But knowing how decisions are taken in our country, we are not sure how long will it take. We are also hopeful of Prof. Murthy getting a Nobel prize, sometime.

As for me, I am back to my lab, writing stories and doing small experiments that might fetch me a paper or two in lesser journals.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

15 responses

14 10 2008
Suresh

hi,
 
  Nice “story”.
  Why cann’t try for a script writer for Hollywood fiction movies?
 Just joking.
bye

14 10 2008
Pooja

naah didnt like it much, was funny in bits
but i guess may be coz am a girl n u simplified the whole process ………its
not that easy u know n its a whole 9 month process n trust me u guys wudnot
have any idea what its like …….. tell me what did the guys say abt it
………
the nose ringed girl was much better

14 10 2008
Anonymous

Great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i think …………there is a english
movie wth arnold playin the “mother”. btw what is cate,faction…….. is
it spelin mistake?

14 10 2008
Pallavi

This blog was simply superb. i liked it very much just bcoz of such an
innovative idea of comic. u have such a great sense of humour vikrant! i
didn’t ever realize that while in iisc. see now its peak off hr but
couldn’t resist reading ur blog. ok keep wroting such fantastic blogs.
bye. —pallavi

ya just a passing comment don’t ask us to belive its true. he he.

14 10 2008
Rahul

hi babya,
“Stalled Scietific Progress” is it scientific?

rahul

14 10 2008
Shreedhar

Hi vik….

enjoyed reading stalled scientific progress!!

14 10 2008
Shailesh

nice one! u shld be author of some science fiction
book!

14 10 2008
Anuja

sorry but this is a very boring story……I m very sorry for this….but
as usaul this is my frank opinion..

14 10 2008
Meghna

Hi Vicky,
I do enjoy reading yr blog. Have never added a
comment, but mean to do so.
Take care
Meghana

14 10 2008
Vishpala

Hi!
So now I know why you got such a blunt reply! Its an ok story but nothing
comparable to the previous ones. And especially it doesn’t have the “Vikrant
Naik” punch. Your earlier concepts were very different and well written.
This one has a different theme but its more like that Arnold movie. It looks
completely fake while all the others felt like “may be” science and fiction
was well balanced.
Anyway I’m not the right person to comment. I hardly understand literature.
I either enjoy reading or I just close the story/book.
Cheer up. It happened to Jeffery archer also… (but u r more like PGW so
cheer up)
Love
Tai

14 10 2008
Pooja

hey vikraant
 
i didnt say i didnt like the story all i said i was i liked rose ringed
girl more ………. that doesnt mean that i didnt like this one
………
 
n i guess why i didnt like it coz u simplified the whole process would
hav been hilarious if u wud have mentioned lil abt morning sickness n
bloating n stuff like that but i guess being a guy these things wud have
escaped ur notice 😛
 
hmmm passionate is good but single minded determination can be bad at
times u should be able to balance things in life or thats what i think
…………..

14 10 2008
Nicholas

Yo Vikrant,

keep up the good writing…these stories are good distractions from the
‘lab’.

how are you doing? what else is new?

14 10 2008
J

hey V,
 read ur  story. its cool..is it for real? i mean u were really into that
kind of stuff,were u? dats great … how old is dat girl now? keep us
informed abt the proceedings ..

14 10 2008
Chaitanya

Hi Vickygood job.u could have been a good gyn-obs physician.why r u
wasting ur time at iisc.chaitanya

23 12 2013
The Shameless Blogger

This one is good! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s