Imtiaz Salim tells about Zero to Infinity, a youth-run monthly magazine on science that is on the rise
Photos by SONY RAMANY
Very rarely people come across a magazine that discusses about the evolution and discoveries of science in Bangladesh and what could be a rare imagination to think of than giving to the readers a math magazine?
Abdullah Al Mahmud, a graduate from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, has done exactly that which made wonders for science enthusiasts.
‘Being a student of science background, when I was an SSC candidate back in 2005, I always used to look forward to issues of Science World, a popular science magazine,’ says Mahmud.
A few years down the line, when Abdullah was in his first year at BUET, the magazine had disappeared from the newsstands. ‘There are hundreds of thousands of science students in Bangladesh and yet we had no magazine on science here,’ he says and that is when he made up his mind to start a magazine on science in Bangla and today Mahmud is the editor of Zero to Infinity, a monthly science magazine.
Mahmud is one of those rare individuals who are not hesitant to strive for bringing the change they seek in the society. Zero to Infinity is currently the only printed magazine on science in Bangladesh. It carries basic and advanced write-ups on astronomy, physics, microbiology, nuclear science and so on. Initially, the magazine had also sections for mathematics and health. Later in April 2013, the magazine branched out ‘Pie’ as a math magazine and in December 2013 it introduced ‘Health’, as another supplement for science enthusiasts. Zero to Infinity also regularly arranges conferences on science.
They have an initiative titled Zero to Infinity Talks that holds regular conferences with eager participation from students and experts. The platform finished its 16th episode of science talk, which was the present and future of nanotechnology on February 16. Mahmud conveys that due to limited seats for the regular talks; they have to select student participants through an evaluation process. The magazine also participates in voluntary works at different colleges and universities.
A few students from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) had started publishing the magazine back in October 2011. Unfortunately, due to lack of warm response from the readers, the magazine stumbled and shut down right after its first issue. But in 2012, Abdullah Al Mahmud took the daunting challenge to run the specialty magazine and since then it has been published regularly with a growing number of readership. ‘In February 2012, a book titled Dur Akasher Haatchhani, written jointly by me and our faculty Farseem Mannan Mohammedy was published at the Ekushey book fair. That boosted my confidence to restart the magazine,’ says Mahmud.
The magazine focuses more on scientific research, logic and history than fundamentals of science. The contents of the magazine discuss theoretical appliance of scientific terminologies. The write-ups are written with an easy to understand approach so that even a general reader could take interest in the articles and hence science. The stories also come with relative pictures that illustrate the points the articles attempt to make. The contents of the Pie supplement of Zero to Infinity are designed for math Olympiad enthusiasts. Riddles, geometry, critical analysis, functions, statistics, and mathematical terms – can keep math lovers occupied for hours. The articles often talk about use of mathematics in our everyday life as well. The newly launched health supplement of the magazine focuses on medical and paramedic topics. Primary treatments, social health issues, basic medical guidance are the major concentrations for Health.
Who are the readers? ‘We have the targeted readers from class 6 onwards. We focus to make our contents easy to read for netting readers that are not from science background,’ Mahmud tells New Age Youth. The publication currently has approximately 10,000 readers for the science magazine and 3,500 readers for the mathematical magazine across the country.
Zero to Infinity has more than 500 outlets around the country to sell their magazines. Additionally, they have their own subscription process that makes sure that readers get all the issues at their doorsteps.
Usually college and university students are the regular writers of the magazines. Besides them, experts and researchers contribute as well. Even readers are open to contribute to the magazine, says Mahmud.
‘We have a pool of more than 100 writers, contributors and volunteers for our magazines. They are allocated to different teams,’ Mahmud adds.
Zero to Infinity started its journey with limited capital. The magazines still runs through the sales revenue of the previous issues. ‘We usually don’t get advertisements or sponsors for our magazines except for the Health magazine,’ says Mahmud.
The magazine has also started publishing series of science books recently. In January they have published Zero to Infinity Physics Series (Volume 1) written by the editor Abdullah Al Mahmud. Further volumes are now in the making.
Mahmud also went on to explain that the magazine has 104 campus ambassadors in different colleges and universities who arrange regular programmes at their institutes on behalf of Zero to Infinity.
The magazine runs a very popular online version which won German Deutsche Welle award in the category of ‘Best website in Bengali (Peoples’ choice)’ in 2014.
Currently the magazine is working to introduce an English version as well. The magazine harbours the ambitious target of reaching out to international readers.
This year Zero to Infinity celebrated World Math Week around the world from March 14-20. They designed 50 events in 20 countries and a mammoth 100 events in Bangladesh for the campaign.
Zero to Infinity is not only a refreshing addition to Bangladeshi media, but can also be an emerging presence in the world media.