Ruparel College is trying to popularise science over a cup of steaming chai. To make science interesting and accessible to the general public, the college will hold informal discussions on scientific issues in the serenity of its garden, on leisurely Sunday mornings.
The college has tied up with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to start ‘Chai and Why’ sessions, commencing from January 23. Organised by TIFR’s outreach department and Prithvi Theatre, the forum brings scientists down to an informal setting to talk about things like space exploration, stem cell research, laser, global warming, and nanotechnology, which are usually considered ‘too technical’.
Based on the format of Cafe Scientifique, the informal sessions involve a speaker (usually a scientist) giving the broad picture of a pre-decided topic for 15 minutes, followed by questions from the audience. The sessions are held on the first Sunday of every month at Prithvi. From now on, they will be held on third Sundays at Ruparel at 11am.
Arnab Bhattacharya, chairman of TIFR’s public outreach committee, said, “Today, there is so much information coming our way that in order to make rational judgments, a bit of scientific thinking is a must.” Since 2011 is the Year of Chemistry, the topics will focus on the chemistry of everyday objects. “We have planned topics like chemistry of fireworks, colour, energy that will teach how batteries work, etc,” he added.
‘Chai and Why’ aims to take topics of public interest and give them a scientific spin. To woo the audience, Bhattacharya packages the sessions such that they hold the audience’s interest. For instance, a lecture on embryonic development is titled ‘Ande Ka Funda’ and a discourse on tera spectroscopy is called ‘Ab ter kya hoga? Seeing the world in a new light’.