KOCHI: The human mind is equipped to process visuals faster than any other form of sensory information. Humour catches our attention easily too. This is probably why cartoons and comic strips have been used consistently to convey concepts, be it satire or sarcasm. In 1988, Dr Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, a former scientist at Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), used cartoons to explain monotonous scientific theories, it was a refreshing thought. Christened Scientoon, the cartoons depicted everyday incidents while simplifying and explaining the underlying scientific concepts. The illustrations are now a part of school syllabi in multiple countries.
He was in town last week to deliver a lecture on Scientoon as part of the ‘Swasraya Bharat’ science festival organised by Swadeshi Science Movement. “Science is my passion,” says the scientist who has given about 1,305 lectures throughout his career. He talked about issues like global warming and the greenhouse effect.
“While conveying something to the masses, we need to speak to them in a way they understand”, says the professor who has made it a point to use simple illustrations and jargons in his work.“If people understand things, they become convinced, and then they begin to follow,” he says, adding that journals and lectures are usually avoided by people for being too technical. “India has so many lessons to borrow from nature and history,” he says, pointing out examples like Hawa Mahal in Jaipur and Fatehpur Sikhri in Agra.
According to him, foreigners are now keenly adopting methods from our country, like rainwater harvesting, while we are trying to learn from them. Srivastava has received several accolades including Outstanding Young Persons of the World award, given by Junior Chambers International, USA, in 1990. His proudest moment was when he was invited to present a paper on Scientoon by Royal Swedish Academy. He is also the international brand ambassador for ‘The Young Scientist’ magazine, Singapore.