The DNA-based computer that can calculate π

I’m not fond of biology. Of late, however, it’s been harder to avoid encountering it because the frontiers of many fields of research are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary. Biological processes are meshing with physics and statistics, and undergoing the kind of epistemic reimagination that geometry experienced in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now, scientists are able to manipulate biology to do wondrous … Read more

A falling want of opportunity for life to grip Titan

There is a new possibility for life on Titan. Scientists affiliated with Cornell University have created a blueprint for a cellular lifeform that wouldn’t need water to survive. Water on Earth has been the principal ingredient of, as well as the catalyst for, the formation of life. The Cornell scientists believe water could be replaced by … Read more

The neuroscience of how you enter your fantasy-realms

Welcome to The Shire.

If you grew up reading Harry Potter (or Lord of the Rings, as the case may be), chances are you’d have liked to move to the world of Hogwarts (or Middle Earth), and spent time play-acting scenes in your head as if you were in them. This way of enjoying fiction isn’t uncommon. On the … Read more

A conference’s peer-review was found to be sort of random, but whose fault is it?

A review at a National Institute of Health (US) evaluates a grant proposal.

It’s not a good time for peer-review. Sure, if you’ve been a regular reader of Retraction Watch, it’s never been a good time for peer-review. But aside from that, the process has increasingly been taking the brunt for not being able to stem the publishing of results that – after publication – have been found … Read more

The case for sustainability just got easier—nature reserves are much more profitable than previously thought

“Can you have your cake and eat it to?” is a question environmentalists would like to answer positively. Now they can, at least in the case of the value generated by nature reserves. Tourist visits to protected areas around the world are worth $600 billion a year. Cut the costs and you are still left with … Read more

The global warming hiatus could last another five years. Its aftermath is the real problem.

Whether you’ve been fending off climate-change skeptics on Twitter or have been looking for reasons to become a climate-change skeptic yourself, you must’ve heard about the hiatus. It’s the name given to a relatively drastic drop in the rate at which the world’s surface temperatures have increased, starting since the late 1990s, as compared to the rate … Read more

Curious Bends – big tobacco, internet blindness, spoilt dogs and more

1. Despite the deadly floods in Uttarakhand in 2013, the govt ignores grave environmental reports on the new dams to be built in the state “The Supreme Court asked the Union environment ministry to review six specific hydroelectric projects on the upper Ganga basin in Uttarakhand. On Wednesday, the ministry informed the apex court that its … Read more

Experiencing the modern city

Of all the things that have had a persistent tendency to surprise observers, cities have been among the most prolific. Then again, they’d better be for all their social and economic complexity, for their capacity to be the seed of so many perspectives on human development. We shape our cities, which then shape us, and we shape … Read more