Some empathy for Treebeard's privilege

Treebeard in 'The Two Towers'. Source: YouTube

There’s a line from The Two Towers (2002) that’s really stayed with me: I’m on nobody’s side because nobody is on my side. It’s spoken by Treebeard, the Ent, to one of Meriadoc/Peregrin when asked whose side he was on: Saruman’s or the Fellowship’s. At first glance, it seems a fair answer because nobody has … Read more

Appa Rao Podile made fellow of science academy that published his problem paper – some questions

Appa Rao Podile. Source: YouTube

Appa Rao Podile, the former vice-chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, has been elected a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) in spite of one of his three papers – which The Wire had identified in April 2016 as containing evidence of plagiarism – having been published by the academy. According to the citation, he “has made important contributions … Read more

Gigernama / 'A man dressed in black with a tube under his arm'

On May 12, 2014, about half a week before the Lok Sabha election votes were to be counted, ahead of the result that would catapult the BJP to power with an overwhelming majority in the lower house of Parliament, H.R. Giger passed away. I didn’t hear about it until two days later, on May 14. … Read more

Taking the ringdown route to understanding the humans of science

A simulation showing a binary blackhole pair (as seen by a nearby observer) spiralling around each other before they merge. Credit: Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes Lensing/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

What follows is an attempt to process and understand Cassandra Willyard’s post on Last Word on Nothing, about her preferring the humanised stories of science over the stories of the science itself (“Physics writers, this is how you nab the physics haters — human emotion”; my previous post on this is here). He words have … Read more

On that 'Last Word on Nothing' post

A post published on the Last Word On Nothing blog yesterday has been creating quite the stir on Twitter. Excerpt: While I can appreciate that this is an important scientific discovery, I still have a hard time mustering excitement over gravitational waves. I would not have read these articles had I not embarked on this … Read more

Hair conditioners and immortality

Credit: tookapic/pixabay

I’m not a fan of cosmetic products whatsoever. The most I use is a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, a smaller bottle of coconut oil and the occasional earbud. Maybe a bottle of deodorant when I’ve been out in the sun overlong. But recently, when I made a trip to Delhi, more than … Read more

Confused thoughts on embargoes

Credit: Free-Photos/pixabay

Seventy! That’s how many observatories around the world turned their antennae to study the neutron-star collision that LIGO first detected. So I don’t know why the LIGO Collaboration, and Nature, bothered to embargo the announcement and, more importantly, the scientific papers of the LIGO-Virgo collaboration as well as those by the people at all these … Read more

Neutron stars

The Vela pulsar. Credit: geckzilla/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

When the hype for the announcement of the previous GW detection was ramping up, I had a feeling LIGO was about to announce the detection of a neutron-star collision. It wasn’t to be – but in my excitement, I’d written a small part of the article. I’m sharing it below. I’d also recommend reading this … Read more

Drama along the line of sight

TIL one reason some of us are so dejected and furious at the TV when in, a cricket match being telecast live, a fielder appears to miss catching the ball even though it looks like he easily could have. A.k.a. why my grandpa loses his shit when M.S. Dhoni won’t chase a ball that has … Read more