Mumbai Diary: Thursday theme

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

When science weaves magic
Today’s doublespread feature (Pages 10-11) about the great scientist Marie Curie and her biography, translated by renowned Hindustani classical singer Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, reminded us of another great book that weaves connections between visual art, mathematics, and music).

MC Escher's work, Swans
MC Escher's work, Swans

In 1979, Douglas Hofstadter, a respected professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, wrote what is possibly one of the greatest books on art and science. He called it Godel, Escher, Bach: The Eternal Golden Braid. It uses several historical and non-fictional narratives to establish a connection between intelligence, symmetry and mathematics.

He does so by using a seemingly impossible connection between a great mathematician (Kurt Godel), a great musician (JS Bach) and a genius artist (MC Escher). The 775-page tome is not only an exposition of great writing, but also an investigation into the infinite capabilities of the human mind, so to speak.

Dr Bhide-Deshpande herself has a PhD in biochemistry, and became a well-known classical singer only after she earned her doctorate. Surely there is something that connects music with science? It is no secret that many scientists are also good musicians. The remarkable logic of the seven notes and the interplay between them perhaps also opens a window of inquiry to ask the right questions.

Scientists seem to have a knack of doing exactly that. And since Dr Bhide-Deshpande straddles both music and science, it is only natural that it is she who has paid a tribute to Dr Curie, one of the greatest scientists to have ever lived.

Rocking to the elderly beat
At a time when the elderly are getting increasingly ignored by society, a group of students from Nirmala Niketan College of Home Science showed how this could be changed.

The MSc-Part I students of the Human development specialisation, in collaboration with the Social Service committee of the college organised “Elder’s Day Out” on Sunday a recreational event in which the elderly from two institutions (Manav Sewa Sangh in Matunga and Shepherd Widows Home in Byculla) were invited to be a part of the event.

Sixty-five elderly people were a part of this event. “The Elders were welcomed with flowers and then students helped them with refreshments, which was followed by a dance performance by students, and other games,” said Payal Maheshwari, assistant professor and Convenor of the social service committee of the college.

Apart from performances by students and fun games organised for the elderly, the surprise element were performances by the elderly themselves. While two of them danced to Bollywood numbers including the “lungi dance”, another participant also sang for everybody. “Another highlight of this event was that students raised all the money by themselves.

Students from every section of the institute contributed and one of the parent also contributed to pay for refreshments. Even our principal Dr Geeta Ibrahim sponsored the tea and biscuits while others contributed for prizes, etc,” added Maheshwari. All in all, it was a day to be remembered by students as well as the elders who participated in the function.

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