Roots of Research

Oct 6, 2013 by     Comments Off on Roots of Research    Posted under: Gadget Guy, Hang Out

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines ‘research’ as:

“ a studious inquiry or examination; especially:  investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws”

Research, done on any subject, is a means to augment our collective knowledge regarding that subject in particular. We have this undying urge to find out how things work, even when faced with adversities and naysayers.

In the 15th century, Nicolaus Copernicus was decried by the Catholic Church and many of his contemporaries when he questioned the accepted model of the universe which placed the Earth at the center. Copernicus did extensive research into the matter and came to the conclusion that the Sun in fact was the center of the universe.

Although he was not completely correct, his model was much more accurate and realistic compared to his predecessors; but it was not until the 17th century when Sir Isaac Newton presented his research on the movement of celestial bodies that the current heliocentric system was accepted and established.

That was a few centuries ago, since then science has advanced by leaps and bounds. Our understanding of natural and man-made phenomena has increased exponentially. We have augmented our knowledge via  research. But what comes after? The brief trip in time we took in the last paragraph shows that after research there’s ‘development’. Experimental development would be a more apt term.

Scientists either carry out research to verify an existing theorem or they carry it out to test a newly formulated idea. When all seems right in theory they try to bring the thought into the physical realm by developing a physical system for the theoretical model. The aim is to check if the research was sufficient and the predicted response is achieved in reality. Everything we have today, all of our electronic devices, mechanical vehicles, buildings, medical tools etc. were made after years of research.

So, where does Pakistan stand in the international research community? Well, I’m glad to say that we are progressing at a steady rate. Research centers, both government-sponsored and private, have increased in number over the last two decades. We as a nation are beginning to take the idea of R&D much more seriously. Take the country’s manufacturing industry as an example, where once we imported parts from other countries and assembled them here, we are now trying to design and develop our own products.

There are many areas of science currently under research in Pakistan due to students displaying an increased interest in R&D. Some of the fields under research are: biochemistry, nondestructive testing, neural networks, micro grippers, wireless transmission networks, biomedical engineering, renewable energy sources, green energy, efficient electrical systems, pharmacology etc. The increase in interest is a direct result of global competition. Why not solve our problems through our own research, rather than purchasing overpriced equipment and materials from other nations?

Recently, I volunteered as a student organizer at the 3rd International IEEE IC4 Conference held at PakistanNavyEngineeringCollege, NUST. A majority of Pakistani researcher as well as a few foreigners had submitted their research papers for scrutiny. The proposals were outstanding, each was unique and novel. At the opening ceremony of the conference outstanding presentations were given by various researchers. A presentation on biomedical engineering specifically attracted my attention as the Pakistani researcher showed a video of the micro gripper his team had made (designed in Pakistan by Pakistanis but fabricated in a foreign lab due to lack of facilities). This micro gripper was able to ‘grip’ individual red blood cells and move them. It was smaller than the width of a human hair! Truly exceptional work, indeed!

This just goes to show that if we Pakistanis continue our efforts and focus on R&D, we can compete with the best of the best.

The Author

Born in Karachi, raised in cities all over Pakistan.

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