65 years of the BCS theory

Thanks to an arithmetic mistake, I thought 2022 was the 75th anniversary of the invention (or discovery?) of the BCS theory of superconductivity. It’s really the 65th anniversary, but since I’d worked myself up to write about it, I’m going to. 🤷🏽‍♂️ It also helps that the theory is a remarkable fact of nature that make … Read more

A ‘bold’ vision

‘Support Europe’s bold vision for responsible research assessment’, Nature editorial, July 27, 2022: The Agreement on Reforming Research Assessment, announced on 20 July and open for signatures on 28 September, is perhaps the most hopeful sign yet of real change. More than 350 organizations have pooled experience, ideas and evidence to come up with a … Read more

WordPress.com rolls back its botched ‘experiment’

So, WordPress.com has restored the family of premium plans that it had until April this year, and has done away with the controversial ‘Starter’ and ‘Pro’ plans. The announcement on the WordPress.com blog yesterday has already garnered a high 65 comments, even as the post itself was brief and didn’t contain indication that WordPress.com had … Read more

Should ‘geniuses’ be paid extra?

A newsletter named Ideas Sleep Furiously had an essay propounding a “genius basic income” on May 28. Here are the first two paragraphs that capture a not-insignificant portion of the essay’s message: Professor Martin Hairer is one of the world’s most gifted mathematicians. An Austrian-Brit at Imperial College London, he researches stochastic partial differential equations and holds two … Read more

The 5ftf blunder

Automattic owner Matt Mullenweg recently made a scene on Twitter when he called out GoDaddy as a “parasitic” organisation for profiting off of WordPress without making a sufficient number of contributions to the WordPress community and for developing a competitor to WooCommerce, which is Automattic’s ‘WordPress but for e-commerce’. (To the uninitiated, Automattic owns WordPress.com … Read more

A quantum theory of consciousness

We seldom have occasion to think about science and religion at the same time, but the most interesting experience I have had doing that came in October 2018, when I attended a conference called ‘Science for Monks’* in Gangtok, Sikkim. More precisely, it was one edition of a series of conferences by that name, organised … Read more

Unless the West copies us, we’re irrelevant

We have become quite good at dismissing the more asinine utterances of our ministers and other learned people in terms of either a susceptibility to pseudoscience or, less commonly, a wilful deference to what we might call pseudoscientific ideas in order to undermine “Western science” and its influence. But when a matter of this sort … Read more

25 years of Maldacena’s bridge

Twenty-five years go, in 1997, an Argentine physicist named Juan Martin Maldacena published what would become the most highly cited physics paper in history (more than 20,000 to date). In the paper, Maldacena described a ‘bridge’ between two theories that describe how our world works, but separately, without meeting each other. These are the field … Read more