Category Archives: Science

Best Science Learning Apps Available on iOS

Looking for ways to make science more accessible and easier to learn on mobile apps? There are many excellent smartphone apps that are designed to exactly to do this. With almost everyone these days having iOS and Android devices, practically everyone has access to these excellent science mobile apps.

We tested and played around with these thoroughly with an input from excellent mobile app sites like AppAnnie. Our top picks are as follows.

Bill Bye the Science Guy

Everyone’s favorite science television personality now has a mobile app, making him accessible to new generations of aspiring scientists. BIll Bye has a knack for making science easy to understand for everyone and this iOS app is no slouch in that department. With games and expriements overflowing, this is one app that you can trust and play with full confidence.

Essential Anatomy

For anyone needing to learn anatomy or just curious about how are body is composed, look no further. Essential Anatomy is a visual experience that is easily the best anatomy reference that you can download and use on mobile devices. One downside is that it is expensive compared to other apps at $25.

The Elements

Want a periodic table on your phone and tablet? This is actually more than periodic table that you would normally encounter. This is one amazing app that teaches you the history behind it, and the people who discovered the elements. Beautifully illustrated, The Elements is also the top interactive science app you can enjoy.

5 Best Science Learning Kits on Amazon.com for Kids


Science kits are a great way to teach your children about science and give them a fun and effective learning experience. You can easily find different types of science kits online; however your best bet is Amazon.com where you can get great prices on all science kits.

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

Scientific Explorer My First Mind Blowing Science Kit

It a Chemistry science kit and has 20 pieces that will engage your kids and make learning easy and fun for them. It will allow your children to learn and explore the basics and help them learn a great deal about science tools and chemical reactions. The kit is based on the principle of STEM, which is a short for Science; Technology; Engineering & Math.

The kit has many chemicals which will help children learn about their properties and carry out their own chemical reactions. You will also get step-by-step instructions on how to use the available chemicals. This science kit can be used by children over the age of four and must be used under the supervision of adults.

Learning Resources Primary Science Lat Set

This kit has ten different double-sided cards for activities and includes other real tools for science such as beakers, eyedropper, magnifying glass, goodies, funnel, test tubes of different sizes, tweezers and flask. You will also find a guide for activities which will make the learning even easier. It is a great way to get your children to explore, observe and discover wonderful things about basic science.

Scientific Explorer Magic Science for Wizards Only

If your children are fans of Harry Potter then they will love this kit. It offers your children activities that seem impossible at first. It will allow your young ones to explore the science which drives magic and help the create wonderful items such as Hocus Pocus Powder, Magic Wands, Test Tube Crystal Ball, Magic Hat, Bubbling Potion that will glow in the dark and many other fun things. The kit includes a few useful chemicals and other tools such as purple paper, test tubes and their stand, measuring scoops etc. You will also find a guide that will help you use the kit effectively.

Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit

Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit

As the name suggests your children will be able to taste their scientific creations, which is makes all the more fun for them. The kit will help them understand basic culinary facts such as why the cake rises and why there is fizzle in soda pops. Scientific Explorer Tasty Science Kit contains baking soda, fruit flavorings, sprinkles, citric acid, Bouillon cube, labels, spoons for measuring and scoop. You will also find other tools such as a dozen baking cups, test tubes and their stand, cap and a plastic vial etc. You will also find the guide to use the kit.

Be Amazing Lab-in-a-Bag Test Tube Wonders

Be Amazing Lab-in-a-Bag Test Tube Wonders

This kit offers 15 different activities which allow your children to do fun things such as make snow (of course fake) and grow Crystal Comes of different colors. The great thing about this kit is that it comes with its own bag so you do not have to worry about where to store all the items. All the tools and other elements in the bag have been tested for safety and are non-toxic. The kit contains items such as magic sand, super absorbent crystals, water gel, energy beads and color tablets. You will also find a guide inside the kit, which will make the kit much more fun and easy to use.

Free Microsoft Office Templates for Scientists

powerpoint-template-for-scientists
If you are working in the field of science and you happen to have a symposium to administer, PowerPoint slides are a must. And it is not enough to have slides. You need to have interesting slides to make sure that your audience would listen to you attentively. Remember, no matter how good your topic may be, it is extremely important to have a vivid and attractive design.

There are a lot of websites offering free office templates for science-related presentations. They range from PowerPoint slides to academic templates and even scientific poster templates. With most templates available online, you are good to go with your presentation. Easily create your science and research presentations in a small amount of time. Most templates available have the places where you could put your topic’s title, agenda, tables, diagrams, timetables, text, graphics, and conclusion. Stay away from those boring presentations which make your effort to share your knowledge worthless.

We have listed some websites where you could download free office templates. For PowerPoint, try visiting these websites:

  • Office.com
  • http://blog.presentationload.com/download-free-powerpoint-templates-science-research/
  • http://www.free-power-point-templates.com/scientific-powerpoint-template/
  • http://www.skilledup.com/articles/best-powerpoint-templates-for-free/

Microsoft’s very own Office.com is of course the first place to look at for all your needs. Other sites listed above usually have their templates arranged into categories so all you have to do is choose which template you would use for your presentation. Make sure you pick something visually aesthetic and classy at the same time.

Then of course, aside from PowerPoint presentations, scientists also need academic paper templates for their scientific documents or researches. A lot are also available online. Among the sites to look at are:

  • Office.com
  • http://www.stocklayouts.com/Templates/Free-Templates/Free-Sample-Microsoft-Word-Template-Design.aspx
  • http://www.word.poweredtemplate.com/word-templates/free/0/index.html
  • http://www.layoutready.com/Free-Word-Templates/Free-Sample-Microsoft-Word-Template.aspx
  • http://www.smiletemplates.com/free/word-templates/0.html
  • http://www.wordtemplates.org/

Like most websites, the templates are already arranged by category. Just pick which one among them best suits your study.

scientific-templates-for-ms-powerpoint
Meanwhile, another frequently needed template in the field of science and technology are poster templates. Scientific poster templates for Microsoft Word are widely available online. Sometimes, PowerPoint and Publisher is also use but it depends on your preference which one is easy for you to use. Among the websites where scientific poster templates are available are:

  • Office.com
  • http://www.layoutready.com/Free-Word-Templates/Free-Word-Poster-Templates-Download.aspx
  • http://www.posterpresentations.com/html/free_poster_templates.html
  • http://blog.postersession.com/2011/10/03/word-poster-templates/
  • http://www.mywordtemplates.org/templates/poster

With all those websites where you could download different Office templates for free, doing that presentation or passing that paper becomes a lot less difficult and time-consuming. Deviate from those boring and too basic presentations and papers. Download the free templates online that are available and ready to use.

2013’s Biggest Discoveries by Science That You Should Know About

2013 proved to be an exceptional year for science, and the following scientific discoveries are the best science had to offer.

King Richard III’s remains
Although the discovery of the famous monarch’s skeleton was made in late 2012, scientists were able to confirm in February 2013 that the remains they found did indeed belong to Kind Richard III.

The English monarch, according to historical evidence, died on the battlefield, fighting the Battle of Bosworth in the year 1485. The monarch was 32 at the time. After his death, he was buried without any official gravestone or marker, around 20 miles from the battlefield, by friars. Many years on, a parking lot was built over the famous Monarch’s clandestine grave.

However, scientists, with the help of skeletal evidence, mitochondrial DNA matches, radiocarbon dating and archeologists, concluded that the remains were that of King Richard III.

Miniscule Li-Ion battery
Harvard University has done it again, this time creating a Li-ion battery so small that it can balance on a pin if you put it on the head. The first of its kind, the battery paves way for miniscule robots and devices, as it can be used in them as an efficient power source. Scientists at Harvard University were able to accomplish this feat using a 3D printer, using it to print the Li-ion battery.

Even smaller than a millimeter, the battery can store just as much energy per gram as full-sized Li-ion batteries which are traditionally used in laptops etc.

Bionic Eye
In Australia, 2013 proved to be a very innovative year for science, as Australian researchers and engineers came up with the first ever Bionic Eye the world has ever had. The Bionic Eye has been developed for all those individuals who are blind in the legal context, and cannot even make outlines of their surroundings.

The technology works by implanting a chip at the back of the brain of individuals who opt for it, which cooperates with a sensor installed on a pair of glasses. The sensor transmits whatever is being seen through the camera which is installed at the center of the glasses to the chip. The chip then sends necessary electrical signals to the ‘vision’ part of the brain, portraying outlines of the reality in front of the wearer.
Voyager 1 entered Interstellar space
Though this magnificent peace of space-adventurer was launched in 1977 for space missions, it was not until 2013 that scientists became absolutely certain the spacecraft had entered the interstellar space, thereby rendering the operation initiated by NASA successful. According to NASA scientists, the spacecraft had entered Interstellar space by the end of 2012. The Voyager 1 took over 36 years to build.
Higgs Boson particle has been confirmed
Existence of the Higgs Boson particle was confirmed in the year 2013 after extraordinary research done by scientists from various fields. The particle was theorized to exist in 1964 by Peter Higgs, a British physicist. The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs bosons paves way for better explanations through scientific research of how the universe works.

What is Rationalism?

rationalistsRationalism is the belief that reason, not experience, is the most important source of knowledge. It is a direct contrast to empiricism, which is a theory that experience is the most important source of knowledge in the world. From this belief, there are three distinct types of knowledge that a rationalist could use as supporting his beliefs.

Rationalists may argue that humans posses a form of innate knowledge. As opposed to the belief that humans are born with minds like blank slates, rationalists believe that we are born with certain basic instincts. It is also believed that we are born with the ability for certain concepts, such as the faculty for language.

Secondly, rationalists also argue that there are some truths that can be figured out without world experience. Some examples of this are mathematics, logic, or ethical truth. They believe that we have the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong without having to base that knowledge in experience.

The rationalists also argue there are some truths that, although grounded in experience, cannot be derived from experience alone. One example of this is aesthetic truths. For example, two people can observe the same object and conclude contradictory opinions of its existence. This proves that aesthetic qualities do not present themselves to our senses, but instead are born from experience by reason. Also, we do not see causation, we only observe one event and then another. Rationalists believe it is the mind, not the world, that gives us the idea that the former causes the latter.

Rationalism is not a modern basis of philosophy; rather, rationalist thought dates back to 570 BCE. Pythagorus was discovered to be one of the first philosophers to stress rationalism. Although he was a great mystic, mathematician, and scientist, it has been said that he was one of the first men known in history to call himself a philosopher. Other rationalists throughout history were Plato and Aristotle.

René DescartesModern rationalists, such as René Descartes, developed popular rationalist thought that is used today. Descartes held the belief that only knowledge of eternal truths, are attained by reason alone. Some other knowledge, such as physics, is aided by scientific method. Other modern rationalists include Baruch Spinoza, Gottfried Leibniz, and Immanual Kant.

Even though rationalism has roots that date back to the dawn of recorded history, many of its beliefs and theories still hold true today. The basis of rationalism is still taught in many philosophy classes throughout the world.

Relationships Between Science and Pseudoscience

First of all, what is the difference between science and pseudoscience? Science is an organized body of knowledge. On the other hand, what happens when “pseudo” is inserted in it? “Pseudo” means fake so therefore, pseudoscience is a system of beliefs that one may mistake as being based on a scientific method.

One must be wary enough to distinguish between the two. Pseudoscience is very evident nowadays in reflexology, iridology, medical astrology, therapeutic touch, meridian therapy, subluxation-based chiropractic, and other health-related aspects. Do not believe anything that the media tells you. Always search for the truthfulness and scientific bases of things.

In science, the findings are often lifted out from scientific journals that have already been reviewed by a lot of people. Their accuracy and honesty are already proven, most of the time. While in pseudoscience, the facts they present are often just aimed at the general public without any review given by notable people. This lack of verification makes its precision and accuracy questionable.

In terms of results, science delivers results which can be duplicated in the future through experiments. A precise description of the methodology would allow one to do so. On the other hand, pseudoscience results usually cannot be reproduced. How could you verify it then if it cannot be reproduced? Also, methodology is usually vaguely described and one would just be confused how it was done.

In case there are failures, science makes sure that these are carefully scrutinized to know what went wrong and what could be done right in the next time. With science, it is a practice that incorrect theories may make correct predictions by accident but no correct theory can every make incorrect predictions. In the side of pseudoscience, failures are often ignored, hidden, and lied about. If not, it tries to rationalize illogically or just avoid the matter.

As time progresses, you still continue to learn with science. In pseudoscience, learning just seemingly stops because no concrete and physical phenomena can actually be observed.

Science is purely evidence-based and anchors on logical and mathematical reasoning most of the time. New evidence that contradicts old ideas are welcome. Meanwhile, pseudoscience merely convinces people by appeal to belief and faith. Therefore, it primarily tries to convert and not to convince. You are made to believe in spite of the facts, and not because of them. If sticks to the idea it promotes, whatever happens, despite the evidences.

Finally, science do not make you buy products that are not tested or proven to be effective. Pseudoscience on the other hand, aims to profit by making you buy different products that are supposed to be helpful. These are usually in the form of books, dietary supplements, courses, and even services such as character readings, spirit messages, horoscopes, and predictions.

Know how to distinguish between the two and do not be fooled. It is important that you do a careful scrutiny of things first before jumping into conclusions. Always do your own research as it would not hurt to know more. Be wary of pseudoscientific beliefs cloaking themselves as legitimate scientific beliefs.

Pseudoscience in America: How bad is it?

Pseudoscience has been known to be rampant across different practices such as reflexology, iridology, medical astrology, therapeutic touch, meridian therapy, subluxation-based chiropractic, and other health-related aspects. The question is, how bad has pseudoscience been affecting America? Read on and find out.

Just last July 2013, propagandist Jenny McCarthy became a co-host at the popular daily time show “The View”. This irked some because back in 2007, McCarthy campaigned for anti-vaccine campaign when she said in the famous talk show Oprah that her son’s autism was caused by MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccination. In this interview, she described how she noticed changes in her son. She even said that it was like the soul was gone from her child’s eyes. But the truth of the matter is, whatever affected her son was certainly not because of the MMR vaccine as extensive research showed.

Since McCarthy was famous, a lot of parents believed in her claim which is scientifically bogus. As a result, some parents did not allow their children to be administered with vaccines. A measles outbreak occurred at the time she was promoting her advocacy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even said that was the most widespread whooping cough outbreak so far since 1955. 18 children even died of the disease. Still, parents would not let their children be vaccinated because they were misled by the claims of McCarthy.

In 2011, experts from the Institute of Medicine analyzed a lot of research articles about vaccines, and not only the MMR vaccine. They discovered that very few health problems were associated with vaccines and that certainly, the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Vaccines are guaranteed to be safe and effective in providing immunity for the body.

This is just one example of a case of pseudoscience that has become successful in proliferating in America. How bad is it? It is very bad indeed. Here, you can see the impact of baseless and pointless beliefs that are not even based from scientific evidence, and yet, people believe it just because a prominent person tells it. So while you’re still at it, make sure that you do not believe immediately anything that you see or hear from the media. Whether it’s your favorite superstar or somebody dressed as a doctor explaining something, do your own research on different things. Pseudoscience should not be taken lightly as it continues to grow in a wider scale. See the effect McCarthy’s belief caused? Well death of children and the spread of disease is nothing to be disregarded. Be vigilant and keep yourself informed.

Why I Am a Skeptic

“I want to say to young people…go to church,” President Clinton said, and my attention was arrested. I was listening to the president’s state of the Union address with my usual admiration. The president was talking about the high crime rate and how the government alone would be unable to stem it unless parents inculcated humanitarian values in their children. It was in keeping with this sentiment that he said:”…young people… go to church.”

This particular statement so bothered me that I have no recollection of what the president said after that. My first thought was that the president was confusing the practice of religion with the practice of moral, ethical and just plain humanitarian values. Prayer and worship do not necessarily augment any of them. History is replete with so many examples that I will not elaborate. However, I will jog the reader’s memory with two names…Jim Bakker and Jerry Falwell. (More like jolting than jogging the memory.)

As I pondered the consequences of the statement “go to church” from such an influential person as the president of our nation, I became a little despondent. I felt that once people realize that the president backs going to church, it will gain prestige. Evangelical cult leaders will make hay. Human nature being what it is, gradually and quite automatically church goers will feel superior to temple goers or mosque goers who were not mentioned in the presidential address. Problems due to differences in religious doctrines will surface causing unnecessary friction and yes, superstition will regain its lost ground, bringing to naught the painstaking work of science educators.

This scenario may seem far fetched, but it is not. The words or the language used to foster an idea make a considerable difference in its application. In time those words shape the nature of things to come. This is exactly why feminists resent “male” words such as “fireman,” “chairman,” etc. and rightly so. Educators need to point out that people, especially those wielding social influence, need to use terms that are not associated with any given religion if they are to make reference to an all-pervading being. If President Clinton had instead said, “I want to say to young people, go to any place of worship,” I would not have been disappointed in him. If he had said, “Keep going until you have gone to mosques, temples, synagogues and universities so you may discover the fundamental principles with which to guide your life;” I would have been ecstatic. It is not the existence or otherwise of God that matters, but the discovery of life-sustaining principles that does.

As I pondered the president’s words, my mind wandered to one of my favorite interests; i.e., introducing a healthy dose of skepticism in myself and my students. I try to make my students think about the profound issues that face our society so they can make rational, life-sustaining decisions. I do not wish to make them atheistic or agnostic, but a little skeptical.

Several months ago, a fellow KASES member (Dan Phelps, if my memory serves me) requested other members to express their thoughts as to why they are skeptics. He said (and I am wildly paraphrasing here) that he can see why we would want to stop people who are minting money by selling false hopes, but he could not see why we would want to debunk the supernatural stories told by small guys who do no harm and make no money.

While I understand the sentiments which prompted the questions, I am of the opinion that fraudulent stories of miraculous happenings distort thinking and foster inappropriate belief systems. Especially if the miracle-mongers claim that their god is the only true god and their way of belief is the only recourse. There is no such thing as a “harmless” false belief. False beliefs do immeasurable harm. Often not only to the individual who clings to them but to a large segment of the society due to ripple effects.

Often, people do not understand the impact a belief has on life-events and life-choices made by the individual. I could give any number of examples from belief-mediated Voodoo deaths and conversion disorders (Hysterical illnesses) to suicide pacts between forbidden lovers who anticipate a joint life in the glorious hereafter. Beliefs are guidelines that individuals use to steer themselves through life’s conflicts. Belief systems affect everyday trivial choices as well as life’s major goals, such as the choice of career, mating, and reproduction. Society as a whole suffers because false beliefs lead its members to making incorrect life choices which seem logical from the perspective of the choice –maker.

Even bright people who very readily see the flaws in the belief systems of others and who actively challenge and pressure others to change still maintain their own idiosyncratic beliefs which hamper their lives. The following anecdote exemplifies this point.

About eight years ago, I was at a graduation party. I was introduced to a Catholic nun, a high school teacher, who said she had just returned from India, the country of my origin. In the course of the conversation, she talked of a very bright young scheduled caste (an underprivileged ethnic group) village girl. Apparently, this girl was removed from a school a little before she turned 16, even though she was an excellent student. Her father feared that if she got further education he might be unable to find her a suitable husband…a real fear in his social circle.

He simply wanted her to stay home and help with chores until it was time to give her away in marriage. The nun tried everything she could do to pressure these people into continuing the girl’s education, but to no avail. The girl herself refused to come back to school because she wanted to marry, and this the nun could not accept.

The nun complained bitterly that the girl’s “Hindu belief system” was ruining he life and that she was wearing “blinders”. I was annoyed by the nun’s tactless statements. However, I gently pointed out that if the girl wanted marriage, then it was hardly ruining her life, and since her father was going to see that she got a respectable husband, she might actually be better off than many American teen-age single mothers who think they are in love only to find themselves in deep trouble. The nun changed the subject.

I must have been more offended than I let on at the party. On my way home, I was imagining the following retort instead of the mild answer I actually gave. It went something like this: “So, the Hindu girl wore blinders. What about the blinders you wear, Sister? You have not even met your wired-in sexual drive, let alone experienced the joys of giving birth, suckling, holding and comforting your off-spring! Nature meant for us to have those pleasures. You gave up all those wired-in motivations and remained celibate in the hope of pleasing God the Father, who as far as my knowledge goes, is supposed to have commanded you to ‘go forth and multiply.’ Yes?”

Ever since that time I found that I actually started feeling sorry for nuns, not just Catholic nuns but Buddhist and Hindu celibates as well. What is life if you live it without meeting your basic instincts? Life is a success if you meet your requirements in style and then some! What “Almighty” is going to fault you for seeking what you were designed to seek?

The nuns and monks are one extreme; at the other are many who hold that because the Good Book says that God wants you to “go forth and multiply,” not only does He banish those who abort to eternal hell, he frowns even on the prevention of pregnancy. This belief has not only caused stress in the lives of women who bear unwanted children year after year, but also in the lives of the many children they produce. It is near impossible for a mother or a father to give each child its due attention in over-sized families.

Neglected and uncared for children not only suffer emotionally, but often grow up to be problematic to society. The only way to nip such problems in the bud is to ensure that families are of manageable size and all those who are born are wanted by their parents.

This philosophy sounds like a reasonable, practical perspective on life. But, alas, it is not necessarily so. Just take a look at the new monster produced by modern science, the above ideology, and the remnants of an ancient belief system in India.

As a woman, I cannot help but make observations on the bizarre consequences of the behaviors of a group of people who accept some modern ideologies while still hanging on to age-old, baseless beliefs. The case in point is a belief that a son, i.e., “Putra,” saves one from going to a specific state of misery known as “Pu.” Though today’s “educated” Indians do not admit holding this belief, they still hang on to it emotionally by their strong desire to have more sons than daughters.

Mingled with new ultrasound technology and the drive to have small families, the drive for sons has led many Indians to check the gender of the fetus and keep it if male but abort it if female. What about the “hell” they will have to pay for aborting? Eternal Hell is not part of the Hindu belief system. The traditional literature of India contains references to abortions and infanticides without condemning the perpetrators to eternal hell.

Mental states fraught with pain, or rebirth to a lower status in life, are thought to be the punishments. Also, one can mitigate such punishments by performing meritorious acts, penance or worship. There are several myths which explain the tortured lives of otherwise righteous women in terms of the wrongs they had committed in their pervious lives— their torturers being the souls they had wronged previously. Hindu epics recount an almost unending saga of vengeance and rebirth. But then again, today’s Hindu hardly admits to a belief in reincarnation. So the modern Hindu is punished neither by society nor by his Gods for either the prevention of pregnancy or for the abortion of female fetuses.

Abortion is legal in India; small families are desirable. So what’s my beef with selective abortion?

What bugs me is that the evolutionary machinery took millions of years to produce a primate like us and to keep the numbers of the two sexes in balance. To keep our species from extinction, we must reproduce. To reproduce and raise our offspring with proper care and nurture, we need both a man and a woman devoted to that child. Any behavior that throws off the balanced numbers of our species, takes us one step closer in the direction of the breakdown of family and the extinction of our species. Even alligators know enough to lay some eggs in a warm place and some in a cooler one so they can produce both male and female offspring!

To me, being a skeptic who favors practical and thorough reasoning before making major life decisions does not automatically mean being an atheist. Granted that frequenting a place of worship means believing in a God and seeking His/Her grace by various means. Who is to say that there is a God and what evidence do we have that this being benefits us in any way? Not much and we all know it.

Why, then, do I say it would have been wonderful if President Clinton had said “go to church, temple or mosque?” Why do I believe in any Higher Power at all?

First, in learning everything I could about the functioning of the human brain, I learned that we are wired-in to seek spiritual enlightenment and adhere to moral values. Wow. This is a strong statement. I can already see several “Cerebral Primates” with advanced language skills getting ruffled and outright violent because of this statement. Let me explain.

Twelve or thirteen years ago, while I was doing my course work in neurosciences, I came upon the real-life story of a Mr. Ed, who suffered from Geschwind Syndrome due to a massive brain tumor in the temporal lobe, and became a religious fanatic as a result. In general, a person with this syndrome suffers from hyper-phagia, hypersexuality, hyper-graphia and hyper-religiosity.

When reading the biographies of mystics, saints and the like, I often wondered how many of them suffered from temporal lobe malfunction. Although hyperphagic and hypersexual saints are uncommon, hypophagic and hyposexual saints are quite the norm. Nonetheless, the point remains that our brain has a region called the temporal lobe which seems to mediate spirituality or thirst for that being we call God. We also know there are “moral emotions” such as guilt, shame, compassion, and so on, which children experience by age three. This is relatively early in a life span of 100 years, and is not likely to be totally experiential. If so, there must be some reason as to why this particular brain function exists.

There are two possible reasons: One is that it exists because there is a God and He/She/It wants us to discover that.

The second possible reason is the argument William James forwarded for the existence of what we call the Mind. James professed that the mind itself evolved because it aided survival. In other words, we have areas of the brain reserved to seek an almighty being, or become righteous and moralistic, because there is survival value in it.

In any case, why wait until you die to find out that there is a being which expects you to seek it and do the “right thing”? Why not do both? At best it will help you negotiate turbulent times; at worst, it will be another interesting and fun thing to do as you live your life.

Why go around saying there are no “supernatural” phenomena? After all, not every claim of divine intervention can be a total falsehood. Where there’s smoke, there must be fire.

Unless once experiences paranormal phenomena and seeks alternate explanations, one should neither accept nor reject the supernatural. It is very easy to dismiss someone else’s subjective experience, but not all that easy to dismiss one’s own.

The incident I want to relate here happened sometime in 1983. I had at this point severed my ties with my temple going friends and had openly become an agnostic, and was at times an outspoken atheist. At this time it so happened that a certain close friend betrayed my confidence in her. A certain other person at work was also causing me grief. The stress of an assistantship, course work, raising children, house work, and lack of financial stability, all caused me —and no wonder—to be extremely irritable. I went around doing my normal tasks, but at the slightest lack of active involvement, my cortex would latch on to the broken record of my anger and disappointment with my “friend”.

In all honesty, I would now describe my mental state as on of “mixed anxiety depression” with a tinge of “obsession”.

The following week, my husband had some work out of state and suggested we make it a family trip. Since he was not agnostic, he suggested we visit a famous temple enroute. After much argument, I reluctantly agreed because the architecture would be worth seeing. As we drove to the temple, I carried on a one-way conversation with “God”. I said, in effect, “If you exist, give me a sign, something to show me that you exist.” I remember being intense about this.

The temple was crowded. A throng of devotees had lined up to see the deity, and we joined the line. Suddenly, one of the officiating priests came out of the sanctuary in a great rush carrying a crown in his hand. There were several people in the queue in front of me, a queue not in single file but three or four people wide. The priest stopped a foot or so past me, leaned past the others and placed the crown on my head!

At that moment, all my anxiety, depression, anger and hate vanished. I was tranquil. As quickly as he placed the crown on my head, he removed it and went to someone else in the line.

I wondered at the time if this was a random event, and if it was the crowning that calmed me, or it was the camphor-flavored holy water given me by another priest a few minutes before, that had done the calming (Camphor is a central nervous system stimulant). At that moment, the priest quickly turned on his heels and rushed back toward the sanctuary and then towards the queue. Again, he disregarded others in the queue and placed the crown on my head, and the heads of my husband and children!

It took me a long time— years actually— to accept this as something more than a coincidence. I later discovered that placing the crown on a devotee’s head as a blessing is part of the routine at that temple. What intrigued me was that the priest should put it on my head twice even with such a large crowd waiting for it. Some people were clamoring for it, but the priest rushed past them. I was not expecting this double crowning, much less hankering for it, but I had asked for a sign. Was this that sign?

There have been other incidents which could pass for coincidences, but might not be. Reflecting on these experiences, I am of the opinion that something out there cares for us, all of us, and wants for us to get to know it. Why that task is so difficult, I do not know.

Providing correct information is one of the responsibilities of science and science educators. That is what I do. I talk about evolution and any scientific knowledge I’ve gathered, but I admit that there is a lot that science does not know yet. Accepting science does not mean rejecting the Creator or Creatoress. It does mean scrutinizing every claim, whether made by scientists or non-scientists, and continuing one’s efforts at seeking the true nature of life.