Research funding in India

After Vidya Krishnan of The Hindu broke the news of the ‘Dehradun Declaration‘, which imposed a startling funding restriction on the Centres for Scientific and Industrial Research, multiple perspectives on the issue came to light for me. One was about the tensions between funding curiosity-driven research and funding research conducted in the national interest (assuming for … Read more

Vanilla entertainment

One of the first, and most important in hindsight, bits of advice I got from the journalist Siddharth Varadarajan was about how to choose what to write: “Write what you’d like to read” (Dan Fagin would later add the important “why now” dimension). As someone avidly interested in scientific theories – especially in physics and astronomy … Read more

Cybersecurity, a horse with no name

Excerpt: When asked about the origins of The America‘s hit single ‘A horse with no name’ (1971), lyricist Dewey Bunnell said he wanted to capture the spirit of the hot, all-too familiarly dry desert around Arizona and California, which he’d drive through as a kid. The horse was a vehicle that’d take him through the desert … Read more

Awards week

I went into this year’s Nobel Prize Announcements Week a little confused about why I was excited. For me the prizes have always highlighted the recipients’ work, and that’s likelier than not a field of study I’ve probably never heard of (with the exceptions being physics – though I don’t presume I’m familiar with all of … Read more

Physics Nobel rewards neutrino work, but has sting in the tail for India

An infographic showing how the Super-Kamiokande neutrino experiment works. Source:

As neutrino astronomy comes of age, the Nobel Foundation has decided to award Takaaki Kajita and Arthur B. McDonald with the physics prize for 2015 for their discovery of neutrino oscillations – a property which indicates that the fundamental particle has mass. Takaaki Kajita is affiliated with the Super-Kamiokande neutrino detector in Japan. He and Yoji … Read more

How an ancient Chinese text fought malaria and won a Nobel, while India lags behind

The three winners of the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine, 2015. Source:

On October 5, Youyou Tu became only the 12th woman in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. She shared one half of the prize with William Campbell and Satoshi Omura, the discoverers of the drug called ivermectin used to fight against filarial diseases and river blindness. Tu’s claim to fame … Read more

Summing up the ‘water on Mars’ announcement

This image of Mars was taken in October 24, with MOM taking advantage of its elliptical orbit to capture the planet’s breadth. Credit: ISRO

I wrote an explainer summing up (almost) all we know about the recent NASA announcement of finding water on Mars for the Mumbai Mirror. An excerpt: Some time in its past, a fifth of the Martian surface was thought to be covered in oceans, kilometres deep, before something happened for all that liquid to disappear. In … Read more