Science- a tool or a weapon?

63 bomb blasts in India. Seven target states. Seven dark months.
Life has been shattered, humanity has been laughed upon and the future seems to be full of fear.This devastation has caused our leaders to debate and the common person to question many aspects of this deadly reality. Terrorism has been discussed in detail, and so is communalism, but why has been the thread tying all these disasters, being overlooked?

The bombs- misused gadgets of science are never the topic of discussion for the common person. Yet it is our right to know what these bombs are and how much it is being used for destruction rather than for the welfare of people.

Three Maruti cars with ammonium nitrate, plasticisers and programmable time devices (PTDs) planted in them were used in the bomb blasts in Guwahati. These bombs had left several dead and many injured. But ammonium nitrate and plasticiers are also used for the welfare of the common man to a great extent.

Plasticisers are manmade organic chemicals which are used in the manufacture of many items. From life-saving medical devices, to the cables and wires that bring electricity and television pictures into our homes, items softened with plasticisers have become an essential part of our modern society.

Ammonium nitrate, a widely available fertiliser, was used in the serial blasts in Bangalore, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and New Delhi. Forensic experts say ammonium nitrate is converted into a powerful explosive when it is mixed with fuel. Ammonium nitrate produces gas in quick time. As the gas expands it causes an explosion. Ammonium nitrate acts as an accelerant which in turn speeds up the rate at which the fuel burns, producing a huge explosion. Over the years the terrorists have used concrete blocks, tiffin boxes and pipes to pack the bombs. According to the experts, bombs packed in tiffin boxes and pipes have proven to be the most destructive to life and property.

While making these bombs the terrorists usually pack it with pellets. In the serial blasts in Bangalore the bombs were packed with nuts and bolts. Another aspect to the bombs used was the use of embedded micro chips. Experts point out that embedded chips produce a fuse pulse that triggers a detonation. It can be programmed like a digital clock.

On one hand, this chemical is used as a killing people, on the other it is used as a medicine. Yet another use for ammonium nitrate is for cold packs for athletic injuries. A cold pack consists of a block of solid ammonium nitrate and a separate area containing water. The pack is broken to combine the two substances and since the disassociation of ammonium nitrate causes a temperature drop, this is a practical use for ammonium nitrate.

It indeed is a pitiable condition that science is being used as a puppet of destruction. Why aren’t the men of science fighting against this injustice? Why isn’t the common man worried about the large amount of destructive chemicals available in the market being misused in this country? Why is science neglected over the topics of society?

Could it be because we all are too arrogant to notice it?

Shambhavi Sharan

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