Non-ergodicity and diversity

Ergodicity is the condition wherein a sample is representative of the whole vis-a-vis some statistical parameter. An ergodic system is one that visits all possible states of its existence as it evolves. Axiomatically, a non-ergodic system is one that does not. Stuart A. Kauffman, a scientist at the University of Calgary, wrote on Edge a … Read more

A new discrimination

An article in KurzweilAI begins, Plants could soon provide our electricity. Why would anyone take this seriously? More than excitement, this line rouses a discerning reader to suspicion. It is bound to be centred on the word “soon”, implying in the near-future, imminently. You’re not sure which timescales people are thinking on but I’m sure … Read more

A detector for electron ptychography

Anyone who writes about physics research must have a part of their headspace currently taken up by assessing a new and potentially groundbreaking claim out of the IISc: the discovery of superconductivity at ambient pressure and temperature in a silver nanostructure embedded in a matrix of gold. Although The Hindu has already reported it, I … Read more

Redshift and eclipse

I am thoroughly dispirited. I had wanted to write today about how it is fascinating that we have validated Einstein’s theory of general relativity for the first time in an extreme environment: in the neighbourhood of a black hole. The test involved the detection of an effect called the gravitational redshift, whereby light that is … Read more

Silly arguments to restrict access to preprints

Tom Sheldon, a senior press manager at the Science Media Centre (SMC), London, had an interesting proposition – at least at first – published in Nature on July 24. The journal’s Twitter handle had tweeted it thus: “Do you think publishing on preprint servers is good or bad for science?” Though the question immediately set … Read more

The Tooth

I went to the most terrifying place in the world today: the dental clinic. I’d woken up this morning with a sharp pain under my right lower jaw and, soon enough, I realised it was time to get rid of the wisdom tooth – a divorce I’d been putting off for a few months for … Read more

The surprises

Coconut crabs can attack, kill and eat birds. Also a worm that eats fish by pulling them underground into their burrows. Scishow's latest video features some really metal creatures. Nature is Lovecraftian. — Thomas Manuel (@notrueindian) July 23, 2018 “Nature is Lovecraftian” … is it? The literature of H.P. Lovecraft in freaky, at odds … Read more

‘Black Panther’ – Two thoughts

I watched Black Panther again today. Two things came to mind. First: When by the end of the film T’Challa and Wakanda realise that they can’t keep their technology a secret anymore, it is – among many things – an act of taking charge of their nation’s narrative. By doing so, T’Challa and his advisers ensure … Read more

Gallium’s dance

A wide swath of fundamental physics and chemistry is defined by the pursuit of the ground state. Since we began elucidating the structure of the atom in the 1910s, much of what we know about how particles, quasiparticles and molecules behave can be described by a desire among each of these entities to lose all … Read more