Arrogance from an ignorant

In regular life arrogance from an ignorant and/or less intelligent personality is much more disastrous than the arrogance of an intelligent personality.

Rajib Sarkar

07.11.2022

অভিজ্ঞতা যেখানে হয়ে ওঠে প্রান্তিক

জীবনে একটা সময় আসে তখন মানুষ আর তোমাদেরকে শোনে না, শোনে শুধু তোমাদের অভিজ্ঞতাকে। এই কথা আগেই জেনেছি। যারা শ্রোতা এঁদের মধ্যে অনেকেই হয়ত তোমাদের বাক্যের সাথে পুরোপুরি সহমত নয়, কারণ এঁদের নতুন চিন্তা, নতুন ভাবনা, তবু তাঁরা শোনে। শোনে এই আশায়, এই ভরসায় যে এঁদের থেকে কিছু পাবার আশায়, কিছু শেখার আশায়, নতুন পথ দেখার আশায়, নতুন আলোর খোঁজে। যে মানুষগুলো অনেক ঝর-জল পেরিয়ে, বহু ওঠা-নামার মধ্য দিয়ে জীবনে অনেকটা পথ অতিক্রম করলো, দিবারাত্র পরিশ্রম করলো, বহু অভিজ্ঞতার সাক্ষী থাকলো, তাঁদের থেকে কিছু শেখার আশায় শুধু শোনে। কিন্তু সমস্যা হলো জীবনে এমন একটা সময়ও আসে, যাঁদের অভিজ্ঞ মানুষগুলোর থেকে সবথেকে বেশি শোনার আবশ্যকতা আছে বলে মনে হয়, সেখানেই সে হয়ে ওঠে প্রান্তিক। অনেক মনঃকষ্ট নিয়ে, ব্যথিত হৃদয় নিয়ে তখন শুধু চুপ করে থাকা ছাড়া আর কিছুই থাকে না সেই মানুষগুলোর। কোন আইন দিয়ে, কোন ক্ষমতা দিয়ে, কোন বল প্রয়োগে এর প্রতিকার করবে তোমরা!

রাজীব সরকার

০৪.১১.২০২২

How loyalty works!

To run something very effectively, whether one should be loyal to a system, to an organization or simply loyal to some individuals. This appears some like to be loyal to a system, and some like to be loyal to the individuals and some like to maintain a balance between them. Some still think which one to choose and to what extent is not so easy to decide.

Rajib Sarkar

02.11.2022

Your citation index largely depends on how and when your start your research career

Imagine a situation where you started your research career as a junior scientist or as a PhD student or as a postdoc in the late 80’s of the previous century after the discovery of high temperature superconductivity in a prominent group who were working on the same field. Imagine a situation where you started the similar thing in the late 10’s of this century after the discovery of pnictides superconductors in another large group. At the similar time frame your friend, both of you studied together, joined some other group which works in a less timely research field, less hot but still works on an unsolved scientific problem. After several years you want to compare their scientific output in terms of publications and citations. What do you expect! Can you even compare! Even if you compare with which parameters you will compare! This is a small part of a long story. Imagine you work in a research institute in a large group where you need to take care of a little bit of administration, other responsibilities, like teaching, no worries about managing funds and so on. At the same time your friend works in an institution which is designed to educate people, not only is doing research! How could you now even compare their productivity! Imagine a situation where your friend deals with a project which is largely development of scientific instrumentations and/or methodologies, and you work on a ready-made problem, you receive nice crystals from chemist, maybe grow single crystals whose path is known, may be lucky enough to find some nice one, and distribute them to many groups, may be not needed to maintain a lab, performs experiments in a large-scale facility. Now you want to compare their output!  But the question remains who and how to count that the former person, perhaps, has spent a significant amount of time just to develop the system to do something useful, it may even have failed several times. In such cases only field specific experts can judge your credential properly. They will always locate you. So don’t go for such a terrible rat-race. Be focused, make your mind scientific which is more important, and contribute to the society, to your field, with your knowledge, with your expertise. Enjoy experiments, do calculations, communicate results, write articles, write books, and publish, give lectures, spend time with students, educate people in different branches, in different levels as much as possible, rather than doing all the time politics, rather than doing other useless things like pretending to be the boss of your own territory, and sneaking around any individuals personal and professional life. Don’t always go for what the masses think either, because it is easy to polarize them. Judge carefully how many intellectuals/smart people follow you, listen to you. There will always be people against your ideology, against your movements, against your activities, because they have different opinions. So, be focused, ignore perturbations.

Rajib Sarkar

28.10.2022

Make regular exercises to release your stress 

Socrates once said that ‘’It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength which his body is capable of’’. So, do regular exercises. Play football, do cycling, go for running, do hiking for many kilometers, and reach close to nature by doing hard work not just watching them from far apart. Not necessarily you have to go to an indoor GYM only. For a certain period of time by doing such exercises constantly pumps your heart with higher rate, keeps you healthy, and makes you stress free, keeps you engaged. Once one avid cyclist and climber, a German colleague of mine, told me that ‘"But you don't fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill..." I personally think this is an excellent quote relevant to our life. 

Rajib Sarkar

25.10.2022

What is a scholarly article?

Those who are in the field of academics, often we ask ourselves a relevant question, that is ‘what is a scholarly article?’ The answer is not so straightforward. There is no as such strict boundary and/or well-defined terms and conditions to identify this as a scholarly article. Usually these are the following points one may consider.

1. Texts are written by experts. How do you judge a person who is expert in this field! There is also no as such straightforward answer. Who will judge this! A good checking point is to look for an author's credentials and/or affiliations. But affiliation will not help much in some cases. A person may be working in a specific field for many years, as outside from the main job, he/she can be an expert, in such cases, can we consider them as an expert.

2. They can be written for other experts or people in academia. Even a conversation, voice recording, adding some additional texts can also be considered as a scholarly article.

3. Say in condensed matter physics, we have a platform namely ‘Condensed Matter – arXiv’, running from the year 1992, where we can upload our research work, reviews or comments. There we don't need to have peer review. This we consider as a scholarly article.

3. Can we consider an article, or a book written in a vernacular language as a scholarly article! The answer is: Why not if this has been written by an expert. For technical writing, often the problem in such cases is that many technical terms do not exist in the native language. So, the author also has to invent some words. This is even more challenging. In such cases the author also must get some additional credential.

4. The text must provide reliable evidence for claims.

5. Sometimes they may be peer reviewed by the experts.

These are the points one can consider. There may be many more. Feel free to add your views.

Rajib Sarkar

23.10.2022

Alper Dodger Science Index concept: Why this is misleading!

I was checking the list of scientist rankings made by Stanford University by the Alper Dodger (AD) Science Index concept. This concept relies on the facts such as the number of citations, h index etc. But, if you check some of the scientists who are listed on the top, for example, a few of them are co-authoring articles with more than a few hundred authors. You have to use a search engine to find his/her name in the list. Often these are the highly cited papers. From this how could you judge the quality of an individual? The answer is simple. No, it is not possible. So, I would say this kind of ranking system is very random and not justifying the quality of individuals in comparison to the others. There is no uniformity in it. Even this is very much field specific. One must understand how science functions before making any judgments and identifying a specific individual as the top class of scientist. This kind of ranking can be partly misleading to the society.

Rajib Sarkar

20.10.2022

Place queries only relevant to their path breaking discoveries

There is a general misconception among the common people that a prestigious prize owner, such as Nobel Prize, Turing Prize, Fields Medal, Abel Prize, Breakthrough Prize etc., knows many things beyond their fields of specialization thoroughly. Therefore, often common people ask questions completely outside their fields of specialization and expect an answer from them. They own the prize because they made one or many outstanding contributions in their fields, which are often very specific. Of course, they are brilliant. Their outstanding intellect actually brings their outstanding achievements with a little bit of luck as well. Years after years they work on some specific problems, tireless efforts and dedication bring their success. They are very much focused. Often, they are not a 'jack of all trades, master of none'. People must understand they are specialists in some particular topics. So, give respect and ask those questions or place queries which are relevant to their work.

Rajib Sarkar

19.10.2022

Prizes are so important or otherwise!

Prizes are good. These give you recognition to the society, to the community. These certify your achievements, your quality of work, and your talent. These often make you even famous. Just because of these prizes you suddenly become outstanding. Of course, you are good, maybe even one of the best, this is why you receive a prize whereas others at the same time otherwise. But this is certainly not the whole spectrum. Often this is the case when you receive a prize because you were lucky enough to be present at the right time, right place and in the right hands. In reality there are many, talented, brighter and smarter people than you in your contemporary time, but simply for them time and place was not in favor.

Rajib Sarkar

14.10.2022

Citation inequity

Some years ago, one senior scientist commented that ‘A woman with a higher degree in physical science finds her ways and/or secures a place in the modern society as far as scientific position is concerned, anyways’. We are inclined to accept how brutally this is true in academics. Just recently even Nature physics published one article with the title ‘Citation inequity and gendered citation practices in contemporary physics’ and an editorial with the title ‘Just citations’ highlighting the facts that paper/articles authored and/or co-authored by women scientists are discriminated against and/or less cited. I personally don’t know what to comment on that.

Rajib Sarkar

12.10.2022

Some thoughts about immigrant scientists

There is a general misconception among a substantial amount of the Indian subcontinent population that those who are living temporarily or permanently in countries like Germany, USA or other European countries have their life in bed of roses. They need not to work hard, they need not be competent, they have no daily struggle, everybody lives in a big house, owns a classic car, and their life is free of trouble. Are these really true! The answer is simply no. Since I have been living in Germany for more than 14 years, I can certainly shed light on some of the important facets of our daily struggle. To begin with, in our daily life, we do all things on our own, namely, cleaning our rooms, cleaning our kitchen, preparing our food, washing our clothes, washing our dishes, cleaning our toilet, maintenance our household, drilling, fixing our cycle, fixing light, and taking care of our children and many other things that need to be taken care to live a healthy life. Yes, indeed we are independent. I do respect these. This is how it should be.

For sure Germany is rich, or to say a wealthy country, but average Germans are not rich. More than 50 % of the German population doesn’t own real estate property, not owning their own apartment or house. Significant portion of the German population do not have enough bank balance. The majority of the wealth of this country has been distributed very unevenly. The wealthiest one percent of the population owns 35 percent of Germany’s net assets. We, the first-generation immigrants, always face substantial problems to adjust. We belong to the average German society, from asset perspective, from intellectual perspectives otherwise, though.

I guess the picture is similar to many other countries for immigrants. I am a scientist and academician, a physicist, a very much respected profession in Germany. Yes, I do get respect. Indeed, we receive a moderate salary to maintain a standard and easy-going lifestyle. In conventional wisdom, to buy an apartment, to own a standard car, now and then to have foreign trips, perhaps, we can enjoy it. But we have to work hard every day. We have to be very competent to maintain our standard, the quality of our work to an international level, to say 'Made in Germany'. It is not at all a relaxing life. Even if we accept our present status, being a scientist, the path was not so easy. We have fought for that. Still, we are fighting every day. I cannot complain, Germany has given me a place to grow, the intellectual community of Germany has embraced me. Why should I then complain! No indeed not. This was my choice to be here. But I must advocate and throw a challenge to them, those who are ignorant, and rather than appreciating the relevant struggle, simply envy, and think we don’t have everyday struggles, we don’t have problems in our life. We do have.

Rajib Sarkar

08.10.2022 

বাঙালির উৎসব 

পৃথিবী ধরে বাঙালি জাতির এখন উৎসবের মরশুম। ইউরোপ, অ্যামেরিকা, এশিয়া সর্বত্র জুড়েই চলেছে সেই আনন্দের জোয়ার। সমাজ মাধ্যম যেমন ফেসবুক, মিডিয়া খুললেই পূজোকেন্দ্রিক ছবি, ভিডিও, আর তার প্রচার। বিরাট এক বাজার। প্রায় ১০ কোটির বেশি বাঙালি হিন্দু বলে কথা। ভোগের ছবি, মূর্তির ছবি, সুন্দর পোশাকে নিজেকে ঢেকে, সেজে-গুজে মুখে রঙ লাগিয়ে সিঁদুর খেলার ছবি। রীতিনীতি মেনে চলছে আরাধনা, ভক্তির জোয়ারে, আন্তরিকতার মোলায়েম স্পর্শে জাতি ধর্ম নির্বিশেষে কোটি কোটি মানুষ আজ আপ্লুত। শব্দ দূষণ, জল দূষণ কে তোয়াক্কা করে তার। কেউ নিরামিষ পাত্রে ভোগ রান্না করে নিয়ম পালন করছেন, অক্ষরে অক্ষরে মিলিয়ে মন্ত্র উচ্চারিত হচ্ছে, পান থেকে চুন খসলে ভয়ঙ্কর অমঙ্গলের আশঙ্কা। কেউ অঞ্জলি দিয়ে নিজেকে শান্তি দিচ্ছেন, কেউ প্রণাম করছেন বা নিচ্ছেন, কেউ আরতির হালকা আঁচে হাত বুলিয়ে, সেই হাত মাথায় ঠেকিয়ে নিচ্ছেন। সাধারণ, অসাধারণ, অল্পশিক্ষিত, উচ্চশিক্ষিত অসংখ্য মানুষ এই কর্মকাণ্ডে নিজেকে অসাধারণভাবে বিলিয়ে দিয়েছেন। কেউ মেনে নিচ্ছেন, কেউবা মানিয়ে নিচ্ছেন। অল্প কিছু মানুষ শুধু নীরব দর্শক হিসেবে এই মহা-কর্মকাণ্ডের যেসব রীতিনীতি তার বৈজ্ঞানিক ভিত্তি ও যুক্তি খোঁজার চেষ্টায় বিফল হয়ে শেষে উৎসবের মজাটুকু নিয়েই দৈনিক কর্মকাণ্ডে আবার ফিরে যাচ্ছেন।

রাজীব সরকার

06.10.2022 

 

সমাজ, সংসার বিষয়টি আপেক্ষিক

সমাজ, সংসার বিষয়টি আপেক্ষিক। উদাহরণ দিয়ে বলা যায়, একটা সময়ে সমাজে ট্রান্স-জেন্ডার, সমকামী, একক মাতা বা একক পিতা এঁদের কোনো জায়গা ছিলও না। এঁদেরকে দেওয়া হয়নি কোনো জায়গা। আজ তাঁরা বিভিন্ন সভ্যতায় জায়গা পেয়েছে। এখনও অনেক সভ্যতায়, তাঁদের সমাজে এদের সংসারের কোনো যথাযথ মর্যাদা নেই। কুসংস্কার, অন্ধবিশ্বাসে ভরপুর মানুষেরা, শিক্ষিত বা অশিক্ষিত, যারাই যুগ যুগ ধরে সমাজের মূল ধারার মানুষ ছিলেন, এঁদেরকে সমাজ বহির্ভূত করে রেখেছেন। অন্ধবিশ্বাস, কুসংস্কারে ভরপুর রীতিনীতি যুগ যুগ ধরে একটা বড় অংশের মানুষকে আলো থেকে করে রেখেছে বঞ্চিত। আজ সমাজ অনেকটাই বদলেছে। বদলেছে তার কারণ, তা সমাজের মূল ধারার মানুষদের জন্যে কিন্তু নয়, সমাজ বদলেছে অল্প কিছু মানুষের জন্যে। সে আমরা সকলেই জানি। মানি কিনা সে অন্য প্রশ্ন। স্রোতে গা ভাসানো সহজ, রীতিনীতি মেনে সমাজের একটি অংশ হিসেবে বেঁচে থাকাও খুব জটিল নয়। জনপ্রিয়তা অর্জনের জন্যে মূল স্রোতে নিজেকে বিকিয়ে দেওয়াও চিরাচরিত প্রথা। আসলে মৌলবাদী, চরমপন্থি মানুষ তৈরি হয় যথাযথ শিক্ষার অভাবে। সে দায়ভারও সমাজের। নীল পৃথিবীতে আজ অবধি যতো বড় অশান্তিই হয়েছে তার অধিকাংশই নিজের সংস্কার, রীতিনীতি এইসব বজায় রাখতে গিয়েই, তাও ভুলে গেলে চলে না। কোনটা সংস্কার, কোনটা কুসংস্কার, কিসে সমাজের ক্ষতি, পরিবেশের ক্ষতি, প্রজন্মের ক্ষতি তার ক্রিটিক্যাল বিশ্লেষণ সবারই করা দরকার। কিন্তু তা কি সত্যিই হয়!

 

রাজীব সরকার

 07.10.2022