Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vaaranam Aayiram

What a wonderful tamil name for the movie - The director (to an extent) justifies the title towards the end of the movie. It is a story narrated by a son on the occasion of his father's death, on how his father inspired and influenced his life. There were many good emotional points that can be applauded. Nevertheless, this Tamil movie is no exception to logical fallacies. Despite the logical fallacies, the story is too good and remains green in the memory, perhaps because the emotional factor is too high. Nice movie - one that lingers in the mind even after you leave the theatre hall.

I am being forced to believe that there are only a few 'true' scientists left in the world. Professors who (probably) did good science during their 'younger' life, no longer keep up with the current trends and lack the current knowledge. Hence they depend on their students and trust their understanding and summaries of research work. But students, sometimes, take advantage of this, presenting the professor with only what is needed, so that their argument APPEARS cogent. Especially when the research group is working on diverse areas, there is no one else to pinpoint out the mistake. It is the moral responsibility of the grad scholar to read and understand the literature *correctly* and think how to progress that field of research. When a mistake is pointed out, it is simply ridiculous if the grad scholar says " I am sorry, I messed up"! Science is no fun (and, especially you can say this to a reviewer)! It ought to be correct and that only is Science. I don't know why these hell creatures who *cannot* awe at Nature come to do Science. Admission should NOT be offered to anyone who wants to do a PhD just because it promises higher salary. A master degree would be sufficient for that! Infact, surveys have shown that master students earn more than a PhD graduate.
And it is the professor's moral responsibility to keep themselves updated of what is happening in the field and direct the grad student in more appropriate ways.
The professor should also NOT float a project if he doesn't know anything about it. Sometime ago, I had a chat with my friend, and we thought : Any professor who floats a project should first write a detailed proposal and submit it to the department for approval - which would ensure that the professor knows enough about the subject.

Well, life has to move on, whatever happens. :-(

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Philosophy of a PhD

Since time immemorial, I have always been wondering why a PhD is called a PhD - Why 'Doctor of Philosophy' and not 'Doctor of Physics/Maths/Chemistry/etc...
It has taken great wisdom from my part to actually type 'Philosophy' in google to really find its meaning. I found 8 meanings - all related to explaining philosophy as a way of thinking leading to wisdom. I give one of it here: "Love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means and moral self-discipline".
Not being satisfied by the meaning found through google, I became curious about the etymology of the word and found its origin to two Greek words : 'phil' meaning love and 'sophy' meaning wisdom - but where did 'moral self-discipline' pop in??
So, a PhD, I understand,denotes that the holder of the degree has a love for wisdom and knows how to pursue his love. Still, the meaning of PhD is incomplete without defining what 'wisdom' is!