Curious Bends – tumour twin, ethical non-vegetarians, fixing Indian science, and more

Apologies for the unplanned summer holiday, but we’re back!

1. Was the tumour inside her brain her twin? (Audio)

She moved from Hyderabad to do her PhD at Indiana University and began​ ​experiencing headaches and suffering from​ ​sleep disorders. Co-workers​ ​and friends would speak to her, only for the sentences to get all​ ​garbled. She was in excruciating pain. What was this tumour that was​ ​growing inside her brain? Why was it wreaking havoc in her life? What​ ​if what was growing inside her head had a life of its own? (, 13 min listen)

2. An India-born Nobel laureate’s solutions for fixing science in India 

“Venkatraman Ramakrishnan is a biologist—even though he won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009—and an Indian at heart, even though he has spent most of his life in the US and the UK where his work led to the prize. His career has been unusual, just as his achievements. In December, he is going to take his new position as the president of the Royal Society, the world’s oldest and most esteemed scientific society. He will be the first non-white president in its 350-year history, and he has already made plans to invigorate scientific ties between India and the UK.” (, 7 min read)

3. The only ethical way to eat meat: become scavengers

“The first and less realistic way is to replace hunting with scavenging. Scavenging for wild animals is a non-exploitative method of obtaining animal flesh. A more achievable and safer option would be to do something closer to agriculture as we now know it: domesticate the scavenger hunt. That is, raise animals—preferably ruminants—on limited pasture with the utmost attention to their welfare, allow them a life free of human exploitation, feed them natural diets in appropriate habitats, allow them to die a natural death, and then, and only then, consume them.” (, 7 min read)

4. The woman who could stop climate change

“I asked what would happen if the emissions line did not, in fact, start to head down soon. Tears welled up in her eyes and, for a moment, Christiana Figueres, the head of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, couldn’t speak. “Ask all the islands,” she said finally. “Ask Bangladesh. We just can’t let that happen. Do we have the right to deprive people of their homes just because I want to own three SUVs? It just doesn’t make any sense. And it’s not how we think of ourselves. We don’t think of ourselves as being egotistical, immoral individuals. And we’re not. Fundamentally, we all have a morality bedrock. Every single human being has that.”” (, 25 min read)

5. Although patents were designed to promote innovation, they don’t

“The public-good position on patents is simple enough: in return for registering and publishing your idea, which must be new, useful and non-obvious, you get a temporary monopoly—nowadays usually 20 years—on using it. This provides an incentive to innovate because it assures the innovator of some material gain if the innovation finds favour. It also provides the tools whereby others can innovate, because the publication of good ideas increases the speed of technological advance as one innovation builds upon another. But a growing amount of research in recent years suggests that, with a few exceptions such as medicines, society as a whole might even be better off with no patents than with the mess that is today’s system.” (, 15 min read)

Chart of the week

“By analysing global migration trends among professionals, the social network found India ended 2014 with 0.23% fewer workers than the beginning of the year. This represents the biggest loss seen in any country it tracked, according to LinkedIn.” (, 2 min read)

Countries to which Indian professionals are migrating. Source: Quartz
Source: Quartz