Exploring what it means to be big

Reading a Nature report titled 'Step aside CERN: There’s a cheaper way to break open physics' (January 10, 2018) brought to mind something G. Rajasekaran, former head of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai, told me once: that the future – as the Nature report also touts – belongs to tabletop particle accelerators. Rajaji (as… Continue reading Exploring what it means to be big

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Lightning storm

A lightning storm rages outside. The large window panes going from floor to ceiling in the living room rattle as the wind whips around, gathering dust off the ground right outside my building, spinning it up into little, but no less terrifying, tornadoes (maybe it's the tornado-like action of the wind that's terrifying; you never… Continue reading Lightning storm

How science is presented and consumed on Facebook

This post is a breakdown of the Pew study titled The Science People See on Social Media, published March 21, 2018. Without further ado… In an effort to better understand the science information that social media users encounter on these platforms, Pew Research Center systematically analyzed six months’ worth of posts from 30 of the… Continue reading How science is presented and consumed on Facebook

Happy Lord of the Rings Day!

The Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series exhibited a rabid yet desirable iconoclasm, through which its author Steven Erikson elucidated every trope of epic fantasy and then shit on it. I came out of reading the series feeling like nothing could surprise me anymore except some other Erikson fare. The man himself might not… Continue reading Happy Lord of the Rings Day!

First temple, then launchpad?

ISRO chairman K. Sivan is free to worship and worship any deity he bloody well wants ∞; that's his right. But it's not entirely comforting when you think back about all the chairpersons ISRO has had – all men, all Hindus – who have made offerings at temples to "take ISRO to new heights" or… Continue reading First temple, then launchpad?

The Meerut mahayagya

Did some back-of-the-envelope calculations about the Meerut mahayagya, where a bunch of Hindu priests are burning 50 tonnes of mango wood and approx. 10 million tablespoons of ghee in a mega-ritual to "purify the air", over nine days. Can't make this stuff up. So 50 tonnes of hardwood releases 8.25 x 1011 joules and 10… Continue reading The Meerut mahayagya

Looking for gemstones in the gutter

Just the other day, I’d mentioned to a friend that Steven Pinker was one of those rare people whose ideas couldn’t be appreciated by proxy, such as through the opinions of other authority figures, but had to be processed individually. This is because Pinker has found as much support as he has detraction – from… Continue reading Looking for gemstones in the gutter

Moon mission pushed to October, so we wait

So, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO's) Chandrayaan 2 mission to the Moon has been pushed to October from April. Delays of this sort are to be expected for missions of this scale, although I've also heard that ISRO often does a poor job of setting realistic launch dates for its missions in general. The… Continue reading Moon mission pushed to October, so we wait