The Big B

It feels like it has been ages since I’ve updated this blog. It’s time for me to fill up loads of application forms and scholarship forms. It’s not hard to make any decisions ’cause I know where to go. I’ve applied for three scholarships so far: CAAS, Firefly and NUS Undergraduate Scholarship. I’m not so confident with the latter because it’s highly competitive and there are so many of them better than me academically and aesthetically. So, I’m trying my chances with them. I’ve applied for two of the local universities: NUS and NTU. To the faculty of science of course.

I know I’m taking a risk by choosing the field of Life Sciences. This is because there is a big biomedical debate going on in Singapore. Moreover, local graduates and PhD pursuers and holders are few compared to foreigners. Most of the local A*STAR scholars do not stay in Singapore at all. They fly off to UK or US looking out for better opportunities and better paying jobs as researchers, not having the idea of returning home. Whatmore, the government might stop funding the Biopolis research agencies and that will be the end of the research era in Singapore. While it is now being called the Biomedical Hub of Southeast Asia, I have little doubt whether the name will continue to stay.

However, I believe I’m making the right choice, by sticking towards my interests. I definitely wouldn’t want to take a measly pay of three or four thousand after my PhD. But research has become my interest. In which field is a question that would have to wait. Anything might happen in these four years’ of study.

This is a picture taken while my colleagues and I went to Swenson’s to have dinner. Fara, the one on the left wearing pink shirt, had just got her PhD. So this is a treat from her for all of us in the WH lab.

PS: Thought I was going to write about the big ‘B’? Haha:)

The gullibility of children

It has been a long time since I’ve posted. Most of the time, I was busy and even when I had the time, I was not in the mood to blog. Not to mention not having any topic at hand to discuss. But now I have.

I have always been wondering why so many scientists in our labs and other labs believe in their religions. Being so educated and having seen the scientific explanation of life in our universe, how is it possible that they can still believe (have blind faith with no irrefutable evidence) in their religion, be it christianity, islam, or hindu?

One of my colleagues is a post-doc. She is now working on a paper. I went home with her on one of the days and we talked about hindu temples. She seems to have gone to a lot of temples in the southern part of India. She also seems to be religious. She told me that she grew up in a street where there was a ‘powerful’ temple, to which she used to go to a lot. And then I understand why she is so religious despite being a scientist.

Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, explains it clearly in his hypothesis, ‘gullibility of the child mind’:

“Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them. Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival… But the flip side of trusting obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses.”

He refers to religious beliefs as viruses. So therefore, a child’s mind is like a sponge that absorbs anything and everything that they see or hear. That might have been the reason why I was so religious just until last year or so. That is the reason why so many of them today, well-educated people, are religious and have blind faith in their beliefs. My colleague falls under the same category. She was brought in a community where such religious beliefs were abundant. No wonder she is still commited to the beliefs of her religion.

Moreover, nobody wants to denounce their beliefs and later feel that they have no purpose to live, other than worshipping and praising someone. All along we have been believing in something. And now that we know that it is false, we have nowhere to lean onto. But I say why not lean onto science? Science has not totally disproved god, but if offers a better explanation than the theory of ‘intelligent design’. The explanation for how life came about in our earth. Though not everything is yet known, it will soon be.

Here’s a youtube video of Richard Dawkins, my favourite author:

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My new job as an intern

I’ve been quite busy with my new job as an intern in the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) for the past few days this week. I joined on the 3rd of January. My friends have also embarked on a journey into adulthood. Alas, bye bye for the thought “this is the end of school/education.” It’s taken me a while to realise that this is just the end of the beginning.

My job seems pretty easy at the first glance. I have to extract mouse DNA, purify it, run PCR and then run gel electrophoresis to determine the genotype of the mouse. But one single mistake anywhere in the process, i have to repeat some of the experiments again. Furthermore, there will usually be 5 to 20 replicates. So it takes some time to complete the process step-by-step for each replicate. That is the only tedious part. And there is also the waiting time for the PCR to complete. It takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes.

I really hope that this experience pays me off. I would like to embark on a career in research. There are 2 Indian women in he lab that i work. They seem to be doing their PhD. I’m not exactly sure about this. But they really encourage me to be like them. No matter what degree i take, i want to do a PhD. That will be my ambition.