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 …

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 …

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 …

White-opia

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 …

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 adjudicatorsHad been irreversibly diminished by the controversies surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault and his …

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

At first glance, this tweets appears to state something obvious: https://twitter.com/nature/status/1071217062930980870 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 …

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 …