The Bhatnagar Prizes are courting irrelevance

On September 27, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the winners of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes, considered to be India’s top state-sponsored awards for contributions to applied science. But as vice-president Venkaiah Naidu asked CSIR to be agile and “contribute to the larger good of humanity”, it is impossible to see … Read more

Review: ‘The Tomorrow War’ (2021)

Okay not a review but more like notes, although I hope they add up to one or a few semi-coherent points – which shouldn’t be hard considering you know I like to focus on the science-adjacent stuff. The Tomorrow War finally used a new analogy to explain jumping back and forth in time (although there’s … Read more

Review: ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ (2021)

‘Godzilla v. Kong’ has managed to revive my interest in how bad movies with big budgets get made – $155 million in this case. The film is suffused with bad dialogues and blah acting, but its principal transgression is its writing. As the movie progresses, there are so many stupid scenes that you realise the … Read more

Let’s release more carbon and then store it

Would you look at this hypocrisy. George Church’s startup Colossal recently raised $15 million towards his longer-term effort to revive woolly mammoths – at least, he wants to splice woolly-mammoth genes with those of an Asian elephant to create a ‘mammophant’ – to bring back the Pleistocene-era ‘mammoth steppe’, a landscape he hopes will preserve … Read more

Extremely slow fashion

According to Entertainment Weekly, Every year on the first Monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a star-studded fundraising gala, the red carpet of which is any year’s most high-profile intersection of entertainment and fashion. The event also serves as the grand opening of the Met’s Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit, which revolves … Read more

Forget mammoths, protect elephants

From ‘Scientists Say They Could Bring Back Woolly Mammoths. But Maybe They Shouldn’t’, published by NPR on September 14, 2021: Flush with a $15 million infusion of funding, Harvard University genetics professor George Church, known for his pioneering work in genome sequencing and gene splicing, hopes the company, in the bold words of its news … Read more

Covering science

This got me thinking about my first few months as a professional science journalist, and where along the way my views of science changed significantly. One common theme and source of disillusionment was, and is, that there are many more announcements of scientists developing a product or a solution targeted at a common, well-known problem … Read more

Woolly mammoths and a quasi-techbro

I wrote for The Wire Science about George Church’s idea to repopulate the Arctic tundra with woolly mammoths to, among other things, help maintain the permafrost. He isn’t the first person to think of this – that dubious distinction belongs to, and Church himself got it from, Sergey Zimov, whose ‘Pleistocene Park’ in northeast Russia … Read more