Groundwater extinction

In a report published on June 14, 2018, NITI Aayog, a policy think-tank established by the Government of India, claimed that 21 Indian cities would run out of their supply of groundwater by 2020. The report, especially this statistic, went on to be widely cited as a figure representing the water crisis currently facing the … Read more

Assuming you speak Hindi…

I can’t use the terms ‘Gaganyaan’ and ‘Vyomanaut’ or ‘Gaganaut’ in place of ‘Indian human spaceflight mission’ and ‘Indian astronauts’ because of the bad taste the use of Hindi leaves on my tongue these days. I speak Hindi when I am in Delhi, and I am there often, but the moment I am expected to … Read more

To be a depressed person reading about research on depression

It’s a strangely unsettling experience to read about research on an affliction that one has, to understand how scientists are obtaining insights into it using a variety of techniques that allow them to look past the walls of the human and into their mind, so to speak, with the intention of developing new therapeutic techniques … Read more

Can gravitational waves be waylaid by gravity?

Yesterday, I learnt the answer is ‘yes’. Gravitational waves can be gravitationally lensed. It seems obvious once you think about it, but not something that strikes you (assuming you’re not a physicist) right away. When physicists solve problems relating to the spacetime continuum, they imagine it as a four-dimensional manifold: three of space and one … Read more

Solutions looking for problems

There’s been a glut of ‘science projects’ that seem to be divorced from their non-technical aspects even when the latter are equally, if not more, important – or maybe it is just a case of these problems always having been around but this author not being able to unsee it these days. An example that … Read more

The ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’ of R&D

ISRO’s Moon rover, which will move around the lunar surface come September (if all goes well), will live and and die in a span of 14 days because that’s how long the lithium-ion cells it’s equipped with can survive the -160º C-nights at the Moon’s south pole, among other reasons. This here illustrates an easily … Read more


This image of Mars was taken in October 24, with MOM taking advantage of its elliptical orbit to capture the planet’s breadth. Credit: ISRO

Posters for a new TV show called M.O.M. – The Women Behind Mission Mangal, produced by Ekta Kapoor and distributed by AltBalaji, look strange. One poster shows four women, presumably the show’s protagonists, flanking a large rocket in the centre that appears to be a Russian Soyuz launcher. Another shows their faces lined up over … Read more

Making history at the speed of light

Last week, Sophia Gad-Nasr, an astroparticle physicist and PhD student at University of California, Irvine, tweeted this question: To which I replied: Once you start thinking about it, this is a really mind-boggling thing. A part of history – as in the past – has physical character. This is because the fastest anything can travel … Read more

A religious environmentalism

June 5 was World Environment Day, which is presumably why an article entitled ‘Hindu roots of modern ‘ecology” was doing the rounds on Twitter, despite having been published in 2016. In the article, its author Viva Kermani writes, Centuries before the appearance of the likes of Greenpeace, World Environment Day, and what is known as … Read more

Justifying organic chemistry

Johanna Miller writes in Physics Today about how she was able to enjoy learning organic chemistry in her senior year of undergraduate study: by understanding that science is a collection of concepts, not a collection of facts. She also argues that this is in fact the key to enjoying organic chemistry, which can otherwise get … Read more