Social media and science communication

The following article was originally intended for an Indian publication but I withdrew from the commission because I couldn’t rework the piece according to changes they required, mostly for lack of focus. I thank Karnika Kohli and Shruti Muralidhar for their inputs. Since the mid-20th century, the news-publishing industry has wielded the most influence onContinue reading “Social media and science communication”

Ending 2019

This blog achieved multiple minor but personally enjoyable milestones in 2019: It was read by people in 143 counties, the highest in a single year since 2008 (when I started blogging) It was the second busiest year by traffic (after 2015) It was the year with the highest post engagement (as ‘likes’ on WordPress andContinue reading “Ending 2019”

Retrospective: The Wire Science in 2019

At the start of 2019, The Wire Science decided to focus more on issues of science and society, and this is reflected in the year-end list of our best stories (in terms of traffic and engagement; listed below). Most of our hits don’t belong to this genre, but quite a few do – enough for usContinue reading “Retrospective: The Wire Science in 2019”

The rationalists’ eclipse

The annular solar eclipse over South India on December 26 provided sufficient cause for casual and/or inchoate rationalism to make a rare public appearance – rarer than the average person who had decided to stay indoors for the duration of the event thanks to superstitious beliefs. Scientists and science communicators organised or participated in publicContinue reading “The rationalists’ eclipse”

A personal manifesto

Many people who are unsure of how their work can help put out the various (figurative) fires ravaging the country at the moment often quickly conclude that purpose is best found at the frontlines of this battle. The common trap here is to conflate the most obvious path with the most right path, or eitherContinue reading “A personal manifesto”

My country is burning. Why should I work?

A few days ago, I found asking myself the following question: My country is burning, why should I work? I ended up with some (admittedly inchoate) thoughts, delineated below. I’m trying to fight off this abject helplessness I’m feeling and edit some science articles, and failing. I’m not able to justify to myself why IContinue reading “My country is burning. Why should I work?”

The Star Wars dynasty

The latest ‘Star Wars’ movie, The Rise of Skywalker, is worth a watch if you’re a committed fan interested in staying up to date with the franchise. Otherwise, all you’re missing is a movie unsure of what it’s supposed to do, and ends up doing too many things as a result. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD OneContinue reading “The Star Wars dynasty”

Poor Sanskrit

‘BJP MP Says Speaking Sanskrit Beats Diabetes, Boosts Nervous System’, The Wire, December 13, 2019: In a debate in the Lok Sabha on December 12 about the Sanskrit University Bill, Ganesh Singh, the BJP MP from Satna, Madhya Pradesh, cited studies conducted by some American research institution to claim speaking Sanskrit every day “boosts theContinue reading “Poor Sanskrit”

The molecule that was also a wave

According to the principles of quantum mechanics, you’re a wave – just like light is both a particle and a wave. It’s just that your wavelength is so small that your wave nature doesn’t matter, and you’re treated like a particle. The larger an object is, the smaller its wavelength, and vice versa. We’re confusedContinue reading “The molecule that was also a wave”

A why of how we wear what we wear

There are many major industries operating around the world commonly perceived to be big drivers of climate change. Plastic, steel and concrete manufacturing come immediately to mind – but fashion doesn’t, even though, materially speaking, its many inefficiencies represent something increasingly worse than an indulgence in times so fraught by economic inequality and the dividendsContinue reading “A why of how we wear what we wear”

The gaudy-hued beast

When you wake up in the morning to news of four people who allegedly raped a woman having been shot to death by the police, it’s hard not to ask yourself what kind of country this is. It’s even harder when you see political leaders and celebrities publicly applauding this extra-judicial killing, sparing no thoughtContinue reading “The gaudy-hued beast”

A windier world

A new paper in Nature Climate Change reports a reversal in “terrestrial stilling” since 2010 – i.e. global wind speeds, thought to be in decline thanks to deforestation and real estate development, actually stopped slowing around 2010 and have been climbing since. The paper’s authors, a group of researchers from China, France, Singapore, Spain, theContinue reading “A windier world”