COP talks as ambition police

Part of what makes Greta Thunberg such a powerful voice in climate activism is her no-nonsense communication. Yesterday, for example, she called the impending COP27 climate talks, to be held in Egypt on November 6-18, an opportunity for “people in power” to “greenwash”, “lie” and “cheat”. Her words are presumably referring to the world’s wealthiest nations resisting … Read more

Neuromorphic hype

We all know there’s a difference between operating an Indica Diesel car and a WDP 4 diesel locomotive. The former has two cylinders and the latter 16. But that doesn’t mean the WDP 4 simply has eight times more components as the Indica. This is what comes to my mind when I come across articles … Read more

Climate crisis first, physics crisis next

From ‘CERN slashes experiment time next year by 20% as energy costs bite’, Physics World, October 12, 2022: To avoid blackouts over the winter, France has launched a national plan to cut energy consumption by 10%. … Mike Lamont, CERN’s director for accelerators and technology, told Physics World that as a large industrial consumer of … Read more

Bad responses to The Wire’s Meta reports

Note, September 18, 2023, 6:40 am: I’ve often returned to this post since The Wire retracted its ‘Meta’ reports, to see if I still stand by its contents. I do with the portions that I haven’t struck through. That said, I believe in hindsight that holding these positions alone can’t be a gainful way to … Read more

A Kuhnian gap between research publishing and academic success

There is a gap in research publishing and how it relates to academic success. On the one hand, there are scientists complaining of low funds, being short-staffed, low-quality or absent equipment, disoptimal employment/tenure terms, bureaucratic incompetence and political interference. On the other, there are scientists who describe their success within academia in terms of being … Read more

Bruno Latour (1947-2022) and critiquing science

The French philosopher Bruno Latour passed away on October 9, at the age of 75. I don’t know if many people in India have noticed but people abroad, especially in Europe, have. His passing leaves a considerable vacuum in the field of science and technology studies, but I’d like to memorialise his passing here for … Read more

A question about India’s new science prizes

really deserving candidates In a meeting chaired by Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla on September 16 and attended by senior members of the various science departments of the national government (DST, DBT, etc.), the Union government eliminated hundreds of awards given to the country’s scientists for achievements on various fronts and fields. Governing a country … Read more

Assorted comments: MOM, IIT Mandi, scientists’ wishes

These are some remarks that have been fermenting in my mind and for which I don’t have the time or the inclination to supply a beginning-middle-end structure to publish as individual posts. I’m just packing them into this one post so I can say what I’d like to say, clear some headspace and move on. … Read more

The passive voice is political

Eric Martinez, Francis Mollica and Edward Gibson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Edinburgh won an Ig Nobel Prize for literature this year for their work on what makes legal documents so hard to read. Ironically, the abstract of their paper, published in July 2022, is also very hard to read, … Read more