Of reason and realism

Laurie Penny writes on Longreads: Remember the U.S. presidential debates of 2016? Remember how the entire liberal establishment thought Hillary Clinton had won, mainly because she made actual points, rather than shambling around the stage shouting about Muslims? What's the one line from those debates that everyone remembers now? It's "Nasty Woman." What's the visual? It's Trump literally… Continue reading Of reason and realism

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To explain the world

Simplicity is a deceptively simple thing. Recently, a scientist who was trying to explain something in general relativity to me did so in the following way: One simple way to understand … is as follows. Imagine that one sets up spherical polar coordinates, so that space is described by r, theta, phi and time is described by… Continue reading To explain the world

NYT on fire

The New York Times logo emblazoned on a glass door

As the world burns, is anyone paying attention to the New York Times? Because if you're not, you should: it's catching fire as well. On May 23, the grand old newspaper published a report by Maggie Haberman about how former Trump aide Hope Hicks has an "existential" crisis over complying with a congressional subpoena. Granted, it's been full… Continue reading NYT on fire

The wind and the wall

I have an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering but I've always struggled with thermodynamics. To the uninitiated, this means most of the knowledge specific to mechanical engineering over other branches remains out of my reach. I would struggle even with the simpler concepts, and perhaps one of the simplest among them was pressure. When a… Continue reading The wind and the wall

A century of the proton

In 1907, a New Zealander named Ernest Rutherford moved from McGill University in Canada to the University of Manchester. There, he conducted a series of experiments where he fired alpha particles1at different materials. When he found that the beams deviated by about 2º when fired through air, he figured that the atomic constituents of air… Continue reading A century of the proton

The Nehru-Gandhis’ old clothes

The following tweet has been doing the rounds the last few days: https://twitter.com/churumuri/status/1062680702066388992 It carries an important message from India's recent past, that a time of free-as-in-free speech actually did exist only half a century ago. It stands in stark contrast to the public political clime today, where people are jailed for sharing harmless memes… Continue reading The Nehru-Gandhis’ old clothes

The worm and the world

Alanna Mitchell reports in the New York Times that boreal forests in the world's north are being invaded by worms of the species Dendrobaena octaedra. They're decomposing the leaf litter and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, transforming these carbon-negative forests into carbon-positives. In the process, they're also disrupting climate models that scientists had prepared to understand how climate catastrophe… Continue reading The worm and the world