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Showing posts from April, 2012

Is Asafoetida the panacea we were looking for?

Known as devil dung, stink gum etc. ferula, commonly known as 'hing' in Hindi, Asafoetida is a pungent smelling sap of an underground rhizome that grows primarily in Iran, Afghanistan, China and India. Famous in many cuisines as a flavour enhancer, asafoetida has long been an important ingredient in traditional remedies for combating trouble in the digestive tract, respiratory tract and even been used as a traditional contraceptive. Ferula asafoetida is also a popular home medicine for cough, cholera and chronic bronchitis. Because of its pungent odour and taste, it is many times used as a cure for hysteria as well.

But like every traditional remedy, the medical value of Asafoetida is not taken very seriously. This trend of disregarding local medicines and home remedies can somewhere be related to the lack of having sufficient scientific backing. And like many home remedies, the trend of following it blindly through generations, doesn’t really help its cause in an age of growin…

Free or not to be free!

Like any other task funded by the government, scientific research, too, is conducted from the tax payers money. Similar to actors who look forward to working with the big banners of the production fraternity, scientists too are attracted by the big banners of the publication fraternity and often submit their work for publication with these journals. Once this work is accepted for publication, all information is locked behind high security doors on web servers and opens up, if and only if, you agree to the pay to view this information. Although, a common man does not come across such gateways in their day-to-day lives, many students of science often do and the more or less standard price to view one research paper for 24 hours is $ 40.  The obvious question that arises is, if I am fueling the research, why should I have to pay to view it?

The answer is very simple. It is because the publication houses saw an opportunity to make money and exploited it. Universities across the world spend…