Proposed solution for Riemann hypothesis?

The hot news this week from the mathematical physics world is that the noted mathematician Michael Atiyah claimed to have solved the Riemann hypothesis, one of the most difficult unsolved problems known and whose resolution carries a $1 million prize. The problem is that Atiyah’s solution, while remarkable for its brevity, may not hold water. … Read more

An epistocracy

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has proposed a new textbook that will discuss the ‘Indian knowledge system’ via a number of pseudoscientific claims about the supposed inventions and discoveries of ancient India, The Print reported on September 26. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) signed off on the move, and the … Read more


For the last two nights, the skies of Bangalore have been opening up, as if for me. Last night, it poured rivers. The sky flashed with the kind of lightning that makes you say you’ve never seen lightning like that. The entire empyrean turns that electric pink that you know is all heat, blowing like … Read more

Political activation

… all forms of knowledge are implicated in political structures in one way or another. If the people who actually have expertise in that form of knowledge are not the ones activating it politically, then someone else is going to do it for them. – Curtis Dozier, publisher of Pharos. Source of quote here. Scientists communicating their … Read more

Board games II

My second visit to Tabletop Thursday on September 20 was super-fun again. This time I played four games: Colouretto, The Lady and the Tiger, Coup and Secret Hitler. I’m pretty sure one of the people I played the last game with, who was introduced only as Amit, was Amit Varma, the author of India Uncut, … Read more

I don’t want your ideas

Tommaso Dorigo published a blog post on the Science 2.0 platform, where he’s been publishing his writing, that I would have liked to read. It was about whether neural networks could help design particle detectors on accelerators of the future. This is an intriguing idea considering neural networks have been pressed into improving diagnostic and … Read more

‘Gardens of the Moon’

I – and all my friends who have read the Malazan Book of the Fallen series – have wondered why the first book in the series is titled Gardens of the Moon. The only Moon-related entity in the book is Moon’s Spawn, the flying fortress of Anomander Rake’s Tiste Andii, but it doesn’t possess any … Read more

The sounds of science

Do you remember the sound of a telephone ringing in the early 1990s? That polyphonic ringtone so reminiscent of the life of that decade… Do you remember the sound of using a telephone in the 1990s? The flat noises the cheap plastic buttons on the interface made when you pushed on them, the wound-up cord … Read more

Fact-checking in science journalism

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has helped produce a report on fact-checking in science journalism, and it is an eye-opening read. It was drafted by Deborah Blum and Brooke Borel; there is a nice summary here. The standout findings for me, as a science editor working with journalists for a news publication in India, … Read more

Will an Indian win an Ig Nobel by 2035?

The 28th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony concluded yesterday, handing out 10 prizes to 38 recipients with institutional affiliations in 26 countries. There is one recipient with an affiliation in India, though I doubt anyone is keeping track. They should (John Barry for the reproductive medicine prize, see below). In fact, instead of endorsing … Read more