Here's your chance to learn science at this Mumbai bar

Oct 11, 2017, 08:24 IST | Shraddha Uchil

Sip on craft beers, as you learn more about everything from whether trees gossip to designer babies being a reality

How does Superman fly so effortlessly without the help of any gadgets? What allows Magneto to create powerful magnetic fields at will? In short, how does the science of superheroes stack up when placed under a magnifying glass? To find out, head to Doolally Taproom in Khar for a session, quirkily titled A Biologist Walks into a Bar. This is the first in the brewpub's Science Jam series, which aims to bring like-minded science enthusiasts together to discuss STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Dr Sakshi Pandit
Dr Sakshi Pandit

"Nowadays, it's so easy to spread misinformation. Someone sends a forward on WhatsApp, and within no time it has reached hundreds of people. But very few actually check the authenticity of these messages. The idea, with this session, was to have a space where citizen scientists could come together to share information that might be helpful to others in no matter how small a way," says Dr Sakshi Pandit, who will be hosting the upcoming session.

Wood wide web
Apart from discussing superheroes and their baffling superpowers, Pandit will tackle other interesting subjects. "A lot of these are things you read about in the news in brief, but you don't have the time to research them further. Take, for instance, gene editing to make designer babies. How widespread is the application, and what are the ethical and scientific dilemmas associated with it? This is something I want to touch upon, without making it too serious or dumbing it down," says the Nashik-based biologist who, after spending 15 years in the America, returned to India.

Science made fun
In the two-hour interactive session, Pandit will also talk about GM (genetically modified) foods and whether they're actually bad for us, graveyards built by ants, immunotherapy in cancer, and whether trees gossip. "Did you know that trees in a forest communicate with each other using underground networks made of fungi? For example, plants that are in the shade and fall short of food end up getting carbon from neighbouring trees," she says, adding that she will also share a list of interesting authors and/or books you can pick up to read for a better understanding of scientific concepts.

The idea behind this series — and her work — Pandit shares, is to bring the fun back into science. "Science has become about memorisation, sadly. Teachers are often overburdened and under pressure to complete the syllabus in a rush, so kids don't get to explore the concepts the way they should — through toys and puzzles."

She plans to create programmes and hold classes that help make science more approachable. "I quit my job as a project leader in a cancer genetics lab so I could become a science communicator. For the next event, I'm planning to conduct activities where both parents and children can participate together. If you want kids to understand something, it's important that they learn it through games."

ON: October 15, 2 pm to 4 pm
AT: Doolally Taproom, Khar West.

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