Monday, 30 June 2008

Plants Help Boost Scientific Research


June 30, 2008
By Syed Akbar
What have trees and plants to do with the research output of an institution? Scientists at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad believe that the greenery on the campus has been helping them in producing more research papers than their counterparts in other research bodies elsewhere in the world.
NGRI, a premier research institute in the country, has 16,400 trees on its sprawling campus at Habsiguda. It is going to lose about 300 trees in road widening, but the Institute plans to compensate the loss by planting 4000 trees. This is the greener side of NGRI. And what about its scientists?
NGRI director Dr VP Dimri argues that his scientific team has produced more research papers than those in other institutes for the simple reason that NGRI has a vast expanse of greenery. And none other than Dr G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, agrees with Dr Dimri.
The NGRI has produced 0.1 per cent of research publications. Moreover, one of its former directors Dr Harsh Kumar Gupta has bagged the prestigious award presented every year by the American Geophysical Research Institute. The American institute has more than 50,000 scientists on its rolls and yet it has selected Dr Harsh
Gupta for the coveted prize.
The secret behind the success of NGRI team is the unlimited oxygen pumped in by thousands of trees on the campus. More oxygen means more energy and alertness. And more brain power. The brain, after all, needs more oxygen to function. If we reduce the oxygen supply to the brain, it becomes dull and the intelligence output is relatively low.
In fact, NGRI is the only research institute in Hyderabad and perhaps in the country which has the highest number of trees on the campus. Talking of oxygen and scientists' intelligence, one is reminded of the oxygen chambers the Hyderabad police had once set up to provide pure oxygen to the traffic cops, who work amidst vehicular emissions. The oxygen chambers did not work well with the police
for obvious reasons, and there's no news about them now. In the initial days, the cops were directed to spend at least half an hour in oxygen chambers to get a fresh whip of oxygen.
Then the department shifted to pollution masks and later to goggles. And yet the traffic snarls in Hyderabad continue unabated and people continue to suffer because of poor traffic management.
Perhaps only a proper scientific study by a reputed institution will reveal the secret behind the paradox: oxygen helping scientists produce more research papers and the same oxygen failing to yield the desired results when it comes to our traffic cops!

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