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Chapter 6- The Making of a Scientist Interview Questions Answers

Question 1 : How did a book become a turning point in Richard Ebright’s life?

Answer 1 : Richard Ebright had a deep fascination of collecting butterflies of different species. By the time he was in the second grade, Ebright had collected all twenty five species of butterflies found around his hometown. That was probably the end of butterfly collecting for him. Then, his mother brought him a children’s book ‘The Travels of Monarch X’ which explained how monarch butterflies migrated to Central America and this book opened the world of science for Richard. After reading the book, he found a lot of interest in tracking the migration of butterflies. This deep interest led him to work on several other projects and experiments on the Monarch butterflies. Thus, the book became a major turning point in Richard Ebright’s life and he became a renowned scientist.

Question 2 : How did his mother help him?

Answer 2 : Richard’s mother always helped him by encouraging his interest to learn new things. She took him on occasional trips and bought scientific equipment for him such as telescopes, microscopes, cameras, mounting materials and other related equipment and tried helping him in every possible way. If he didn’t have anything to do, she found new learning things for him. She helped him through different ways, both directly and indirectly. She even gifted him the book ‘The Travels of Monarch X’ which proved a major turning point in Richard’s life and motivated him to become a great scientist.

Question 3 : What lesson does Ebright learn when he does not win anything at a science fair?

Answer 3 : Ebright’s entry at a science fair was with slides of frog tissues, which he showed under a microscope. He did not win any prize for his display. He understood that to win in such a science competition, it was important for him to conduct real experiments, not simply make a neat display. Thereafter, he started working on various projects and conducted real experiments.

Question 4 : What experiments and projects does he then undertake?

Answer 4 : Ebright worked on many projects and conducted experiments. In his eighth grade project, he tried to find the cause of a viral disease that kills nearly all monarch caterpillars every few years. He assumed that the disease might be carried by a beetle. For the following year science fair project, he started testing the viceroy butterflies to show that they copied monarch butterflies. Besides, he also studied bright spots on the monarch pupa and discovered an unknown insect hormone that indirectly led to his new theory on the life of cells and how cells read their DNA.

Question 5 : What are the qualities that go into the making of a scientist?

Answer 5 : According to the author, there are three key ingredients that make a scientist – starting with a first-rate mind, curiosity and the will to perform the best and win for the right reasons. Richard Ebright was a bright student, a champion debater, public speaker, a good canoeist and all-around outdoors-person. He was also an expert photographer, particularly of nature and scientific exhibits. He was a competitive person blessed with a curious mind and had all the necessary qualities to become a successful scientist that finally led him to his theory on the life of cells.

Question 6 : How can one become a scientist, an economist, a historian…?

Answer 6 : Does it simply involve reading many books on the subject? Does it involve observing, thinking and doing experiments?

Reading books on any subject is just an aspect of learning. A learner must work on developing his/her observation skill and thinking power. To become a genius in a particular field, one must have a curious mind and the desire to explore new things by conducting real life experiments and working on related projects. One must work hard and not feel taken down by mere failures. An urge to learn and discover a new theory requires a person to put in a lot of sweat and effort in any particular area of interest.

Question 7 : You must have read about cells and DNA in your science books.

Answer 7 : Discuss Richard Ebright’s work in the light of what you have studied. If you get an opportunity to work like Richard Ebright on projects and experiments, which field would you like to work on and why?

Richard Ebright’s works were related to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His theory on the life of cells has helped the scientific community to study the cell structure, its growth and functions of different organisms. Indirectly, it also helps in detecting disease causing organisms and discovering how these grow inside the body of living beings. Ebright’s findings about insect hormones and the photos gave him the answer to one of biology’s puzzles, how the cell could ‘read’ the blueprint of its DNA. DNA is the substance in the nucleus of a cell that controls heredity and passes genetic information from one generation to another. It determines the form and function of the cell.
If I get an opportunity to work like Richard Ebright on projects and experiments, I would like to study about various life-threatening diseases. By studying the DNA, I may find useful remedies to cure chronic or fatal illnesses.

Question 8 :
Children everywhere wonder about the world around them.

Answer 8 :

 The questions they ask are the beginning of scientific inquiry. Given below are some questions that children in India have asked Professor Yash Pal and Dr Rahul Pal as reported in their book, Discovered Questions (NCERT, 2006).
(i) What is DNA fingerprinting? What are its uses?
(ii) How do honeybees identify their own honeycombs?
(iii) Why does rain fall in drops?
Can you answer these questions? You will find Professor Yash Pal’s and Dr Rahul Pal’s answers (as given in Discovered Questions) on page 75.

1. DNA is the blueprint for life. DNA fingerprinting is a useful forensic method that helps to identify parentage, since a son or a daughter would always exhibit a pattern identifiable as coming from both parents. It is possible to identify genes from a tiny drop of blood or a single strand of hair. It is also widely used in criminal investigation to prove the innocence or guilt of a murder suspect at the crime scene.
2. Honeybees are extremely sophisticated insects that are well aware of their location, position and navigation. They have warning chemicals that leave trails for fellow honeybees to locate their honeycomb. Bees also have pictorial memory of some sort, a direction-finding mechanism and a way of reckoning distance due to which they are in a better position to find their own honeycombs.
3. Rain is formed from the condensation of vapour when the air is cooled below the dew point. Some vapour in a cloud cannot condense simultaneously and it turns into a large pool of water. Most raindrops start as tiny ice crystals that slowly accumulate more moisture on the way at lower altitudes and the crystals melt into water droplets and fall on Earth as rain.

Question 9 : You also must have wondered about certain things around you. Share these questions with your class, and try and answer them.

Answer 9 :

Here are some of interesting questions that can be discussed among students for discussion in class:
1. Why are plants green in colour?
2. How and why do stars twinkle at night not during daytime?
3. Why do fruits and flowers fall on Earth?
4. Where does a rainbow get its colours from?



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