Want anonymity on the Internet? ICANN thinks you can’t

No more masks? Source: Fanpop

The Wire June 29, 2015 Your face. When you commit murder and someone sees your face, you’re given away. Even if it was your evil identical twin who did it, the police now know where to start looking. A person’s face is one of the fundamental modes of physical identity, and its ability to correspond … Read more

How small universities can game rankings

Gandhi Bhawan at Panjab University. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Wire June 28, 2015 A recent survey by the influential Nature science journal ranked Panjab University as the first in India, with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research a close second, based on the number of citations of papers stemming from them. Panjab University is a public university, and its place of pride in … Read more

Beijing’s buildings make for bad breathing but the news from India is worse

The Wire June 27, 2015 Breathing in Beijing could be like passive smoking without the short-lived pleasure of a tobacco-high. Writing in The Guardian in December 2014, Oliver Wainwright described an atmosphere akin to one in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion – instead of radioactive particles and clouds of ash, China’s capital city was enveloped in a dense suspension of … Read more

On the need for the India-based Neutrino Observatory

A prototype of the ICAL detector at TIFR. Credit: TIFR

“I bet @1amnerd disagrees with this” was how Kapil Subramanian’s piece in The Hindu today was pointed out to me on Twitter. Titled ‘India must look beyond neutrinos’, the piece examines if India should be a “global leader in science” and if investing in a neutrino detector is the way to do it. A few … Read more

Pluto-bound probe takes first colour images of the dwarf planet and its moon

The Wire June 22, 2015 It may not look like much, but this heavily pixelated GIF image is cause for celebration. It effectively cost a robotic space probe more than nine years of travel and $600 million in manufacturing and operational charges. But then again, that’s not why the image is (and must be) celebrated. That … Read more

The Indus and Ganges-Brahmaputra Basins are drying up faster than we’d like

The Indus Basin at Skardu. Photo: Adeel Shaikh (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Wire June 22, 2015 To the north, India is flanked by two giant groundwater aquifers – the Indus Basin to the west and the Ganges-Brahmaputra Basin to the east. Between them, they underlie a surface area of over 2.2 million sq. km and water from them supports the livelihoods of about 800 million people. That’s an area … Read more

Is Reliance Jio sending unsecured Indian data into China?

A screengrab of the AnonOps video that announced Operation Reliance. Credit: YouTube

The Wire June 19, 2015 A group of hackers calling itself AnonOps India on Thursday tweeted what it called evidence of the Reliance Jio Chat app transmitting geolocation data to Chinese servers – a potentially illegal act that compromises user privacy because the data is being transmitted through an unsecured connection. The purported exposé was … Read more

Could there be life on Europa? NASA okays mission to find out

Artist concept of NASA’s Europa mission spacecraft approaching its target for one of many flybys. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Wire June 19, 2015 On Thursday, NASA okayed the development of a probe to Jupiter’s moon Europa, currently planned for the mid-2020s, to investigate if it has conditions suitable for life. The milestone parallels the European Space Agency’s JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer) mission, also planned for the mid-2020s, which will study the icy moons … Read more

Indian coder, lawyer take on Israeli company’s threats

The Wire June 16, 2015 On June 9, The Wire broke the story of a Bengaluru-based programmer who’d revealed that an Israeli company was injecting malicious JavaScript code into websites visited on Airtel’s 3G network. Thejesh GN had uploaded the script and screenshots of where he found it was being injected on his website to GitHub on … Read more