Marginalia: On NewsClick, NYT, toolkits, etc.

brown black and white tiles

The Bharatiya Janata Party in power in India knows that the process is the punishment, that the amount of punishment imposed depends on the law invoked in the chargesheet, and that no law is as ripe for misuse in this regard as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967. In fact, simply invoking the law … Read more

“Why has no Indian won a science Nobel this year?”

A depiction of Alfred Nobel in the Nobel Museum in Stockholm. Credit: sol_invictus/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

For all their flaws, the science Nobel Prizes – at the time they’re announced, in the first week of October every year – provide a good opportunity to learn about some obscure part of the scientific endeavour with far-reaching consequences for humankind. This year, for example, we learnt about attosecond physics, quantum dots, and in–vitro … Read more

On Agnihotri’s Covaxin film, defamation, and false bravery

person getting vaccinated

Vivek Agnihotri’s next film, The Vaccine War, is set to be released on September 28. It is purportedly about the making of Covaxin, the COVID-19 vaccine made by Bharat Biotech, and claims to be based on real events. Based on watching the film’s trailer and snippets shared on Twitter, I can confidently state that while … Read more

On India’s new ‘Vigyan Puraskar’ awards

crop chemist holding in hands molecule model

The Government of India has replaced the 300 or so awards for scientists it used to give out until this year with the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar (RVP), a set of four awards with 56 laureates, The Hindu has reported. Unlike in the previous paradigm, and like the Padma awards to recognise the accomplishments of civilians, … Read more

Hasan Minhaj’s search for the premise

photo of colored spotlights

When Hasan Minhaj spoke on his show about living through some dangerous experiences as a Muslim man from an Indian family growing up in the US of A, he wasn’t speaking the truth. He told Clare Malone of The New Yorker that his stories have “seeds” of truth”, that his comedy is 70% “emotional truth—this … Read more

The AI trust deficit predates AI

There are alien minds among us. Not the little green men of science fiction, but the alien minds that power the facial recognition in your smartphone, determine your creditworthiness and write poetry and computer code. These alien minds are artificial intelligence systems, the ghost in the machine that you encounter daily. But AI systems have … Read more

Scientists’ conduct affects science


Nature News has published an excellent feature by Edwin Cartlidge on the “wall of scepticism” that arose in response to the latest superconductivity claim from Ranga Dias et al., purportedly in a compound called nitrogen-doped lutetium hydride. It seems the new paper has earned a note of concern as well, after various independent research groups … Read more

The UAE’s hacks for international prominence

silhouette of buildings

The UAE seems to be making a sincere attempt to whitewash itself, according to a New York Times report on September 1, by hosting the COP28 climate talks. This is both unsurprising and fascinating – both because we’ve seen this in the local cosmopolitan self-image the country has sought to build. This is perhaps most … Read more