#TRAI (The Recognition And Identification, October 10, 2015):
How do chicks fly back to Africa on their own? Is recognition merely re-cognition? What are the different mechanisms for differentiation? How do (say) most new-born insects recognize objects without any social support? How, besides sight and sound, odour-mediated recognition plays a special role in several species? How there is a lot of consistency with smell. We journey into the world of both precocial and altricial species and wonder if the ability to recognize may be both innate and learned. How do unhatched chicks communicate with each other and their mother? Does a life form have the option to not know? Can animals identify that which their nervous system does not allow them to identify? Do brains process information from the environment in a non-linear way? Can one recognize that which has not been experienced before? How the North American apple flies were set up to love apples even before apples were there? How do starlings recognize each other in a murmuration of almost a million? Does time need to be continuous (& finite?) for recognition to make sense? Does knowledge consist in knowing what a thing is not? Is identity always ecological? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from chemical ecology (Dr. Shannon Olsson, NCBS, Bangalore), philosophy (Prof. A. Raghuramaraju, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad), and ornithology (Dr. Asad Rahmani, BNHS, Mumbai).
SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TRAI show.
Dr. Shannon Olsson (chemical ecology) heads the Naturalist-Inspired Chemical Ecology (NICE) group at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore. She was trained as a chemist who fell in love with nature and secretly wants to be an engineer. Her group focuses on how animals, and especially insects, make decisions in their natural environments. Dr. Olsson completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University in the field of Neurobiology and Behavior and Chemical Ecology. She then worked as a Project Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena (Germany), where she independently led research in olfaction in various insect model systems and collaborated with engineers to develop an artificial chemical communication system based on these insects communication systems. A Fulbright Scholar and Ramanujan Fellow, Dr. Olsson is part of a large effort to promote chemical ecology in India. Her favorite thing about being a scientist is the privilege to observe and learn, every day, something completely new, and the possibility that the something new could make a positive difference in this world.
Prof. A. Raghuramaraju (philosophy) is Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Hyderabad. He has earlier taught at Goa University and was also a Fellow of Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla. He has published widely in the areas of social and political philosophy, Contemporary Indian philosophy, Postmodernism and Postcolonialism Bio-ethics and Philosophical Perspectives on Desires. UGC recently appointed him as Principal Investigator for e-content development for Philosophy for its e-PG Pathshala. Prof. Raghuramaraju completed his Masters in Philosophy from University of Hyderabad and Ph.D. from IIT Kanpur. Some of his publications are, ‘Ramchandra Gandhi: The Man and his Philosophy’, ‘Debating Gandhi: A Reader’, & ‘Enduring Colonialism: Classical Presences and Modern Absences in India Philosophy’. He is a Series Editor for ‘Porugununchi Teluguloki: Charcha Kosam, Vimarsha Kosam’; a series published by EMESCO (Hyderabad) with an aim to translate one hundred books from other languages into Telugu. He also likes to spend time farming in his ‘native’ village in Tirupati.
Dr. Asad Rahmani (ornithology) is an eminent ornithologist who recently retired as the Director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), a position he held since 1997. He had earlier joined BNHS in 1980 where he worked as Senior Scientist of Endangered Species Project, and Principal Investigator of Grassland Ecology Project & Stork Ecology Project. In 1992, he joined the Centre of Wildlife & Ornithology, Aligarh Muslim University, where he worked for 6 years. He has written more than 170 peer-reviewed research papers in national and international journals, 19 books, and numerous popular articles and book reviews. His principal research interest has been conservation of Indian bustards, storks and cranes, and many other threatened species, as well as grassland habitats. He was the Executive Editor of Journal of the BNHS, and Editor of ‘Hornbill’ and ‘Mistnet’. He has been a Ph.D. guide to 10 students, and Principal Investigator of several key projects of the BNHS, including the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Programme of BirdLife International, RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), and BNHS. He was a member of various Conservation Committees of Ministry of Environment and Forests in India & also held the position of Chairman at BirdLife Asia Council from 2006 to 2013.
Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.
#TRAI mentions: Aristotle, Descartes, Hume, & Asifa Majid, among others.