On time, and turning 30

It was recently my birthday. I turned 30. The celebrations were muted – if at all – because there’s something of a moment when you exit the tweens, and the first digit of your age changes from 2 to 3. On that day, it seemed more pertinent than ever to think of the occasion as … Read more

The Print’s list

The Print should not have published its list of “intellectuals pick their successors” at all. Its editors knew that it had no women and were aware of how that was a problem. They also had to have known that the list was predominantly Hindu and upper-caste. But by publishing it, The Print signalled that it … Read more

Journalism’s ‘stories’

I can think of at least four different words newsrooms use to describe the bundles of content they work with: story, piece, article and copy (‘content’ itself isn’t one of them). With a few exceptions, all four labels are used interchangeably. ‘Copy’ is perhaps the most common, especially since most copy-editors use that name for … Read more

Character development in DnD

In all the DnD games I’ve played, I’ve felt there’s a tension between allowing the story to progress and the characters all helping each other participate in that progression. For example, we as players play a game because we want to enact a story even while we as a group compose its microscopic details. So … Read more

Foundations of reality

I haven’t ever been more interested in anything than physics and epic fantasy. So I thought it might be interesting to think about whether they complement each other. Being a science writer writing about things like condensed-matter physics and high-energy physics has taught me a lot about these subjects. But more importantly, in the course … Read more


John Horgan asked 15 people – scientists, social psychologists, philosophers – one question, in a seemingly clever effort to mark the end of 2018: Unless you are too stoned or enlightened to care, you are probably dissatisfied with the world as it is. In that case, you should have a vision of the world as … Read more

A question for Modi

On December 18, Manmohan Singh took a jibe at Narendra Modi for not holding any press conferences in his term as PM. To get in on the action, 15 people at The Wire (including myself) pitched 15 questions we’d like to ask Modi if we ever got the chance. The full list is here to view. My question, eleventh … Read more

Nobel Prizes and traditionalism

James English had a wonderful piece in Public Books recently, discussing how the Nobel Prize for literature: Is a prize that has always struggled to be meaningful, given how its laureates are shortlisted, the capital that incentivises its exercise and the historical Eurocentric elitism of its adjudicators Had been irreversibly diminished by the controversies surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault and … Read more

Why physical networks aren’t like their on-paper counterparts

At first glance, this tweets appears to state something obvious: Of course the three-dimensional arrangement of links and nodes, and the space they occupy, influences the ultimate form of the network. But being a tweet, it doesn’t capture a pivotal detail in the paper: the scientists who authored it aren’t talking about the length of … Read more

On cosmology’s scicomm disaster

Jamie Farnes, a theoretical physicist at Oxford University, recently had a paper published that claimed the effects of dark matter and dark energy could be explained by replacing them with a fluid-like substance that was created spontaneously, had negative mass and disobeyed the general theory of relativity. As fantastic as these claims are, Farnes’s paper made the … Read more