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Scicomm Science

Avoiding ‘muddled science’ in the newsroom

On April 23, I was part of a webinar called ProtoCall, organised by Pro.to with the support of International Centre for Journalists and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. It happens once a week and is hosted by Ameya Nagarajan and Nayantara Narayanan. Every week there’s a theme which, together with the discussion around it, is […]

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Life notes Science

Time and the pandemic

There is this idea in physics that the fundamental laws of nature apply the same way for processes moving both forwards and backwards in time. So you can’t actually measure the passage of time by studying these processes. Where does our sense of time, rather the passage of time, come from then? How do we […]

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Science

Remembering the ‘Game of Life’

The English mathematician John Horton Conway passed away last week, due to COVID-19. He was 82. I’m afraid my memory of him doesn’t do him justice because, if nothing else, Conway resented that many people knew him only for inventing the ‘Game of Life’. But I spent hundreds of hours in my high-school days playing […]

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Analysis Science

‘Science alone triumphs’: A skeptic annotates

An article entitled ‘Science alone triumphs: Providing a true picture of the world, only science can help India against coronavirus’, penned by a Jayant Sinha, appeared on the Times of India‘s editorials page on April 8, 2020. My annotated reading of the article follows… As the coronavirus continues its deadly spread around the world, it […]

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Science

The virus beyond biology

A perfectly agreeable suggestion on first glance, especially since it provides an opportunity for a quick rebuke when faced with such conspiratorial, often xenophobic claims. But on a second or third reading, you find the problem (apart from Harari’s habitual oversimplification): insinuating that your interlocutor is an idiot is only going to have them dig […]

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Op-eds Scicomm Science

Science journalism, expertise and common sense

On March 27, the Johns Hopkins University said an article published on the website of the Centre For Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP), a Washington-based think tank, had used its logo without permission and distanced itself from the study, which had concluded that the number of people in India who could test positive for […]

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Analysis Science

For coronavirus claims, there is a world between true and false

In high school, you must have learnt about Boolean algebra, possibly the most fascinating kind of algebra for its deceptive ease and simplicity. But thanks to its foundations in computer science, Boolean algebra – at least as we it learnt in school – is fixated with ‘true’ and ‘false’ states but not with the state […]

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Culture Scicomm Science

‘Hunters’, sci-fi and pseudoscience

One of the ways in which pseudoscience is connected to authoritarian governments is through its newfound purpose and duty to supply an alternate intellectual tradition that subsumes science as well as culminates in the identitarian superiority of a race, culture or ethnic group. In return, aspects of the tradition are empowered by the regime both […]

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Analysis Science

A great discussion on the history of India’s tech.

On February 27, the Bangalore International Centre and Carnegie India hosted a panel discussion around Midnight Machines, the new book by Arun Mohan Sukumar that traces the interplay of technology and politics in independent India (read The Wire Science‘s review here). The panelists were Arun (my friend and former colleague at The Hindu), space entrepreneur […]

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Science

The Nobel intent

You’ve probably tired of this but I can’t. The Nobel Prize folks just sent out a newsletter ahead of Women’s Day, on March 8, describing the achievements of female laureates of each of the six prizes. This is a customary exercise we’ve come to expect from organisations and companies trying to make themselves look good […]

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Op-eds Scicomm Science

Dehumanising language during an outbreak

It appears the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has begun local transmission in India, i.e. infecting more people within the country instead of each new patient having recently travelled to an already affected country. The advent of local transmission is an important event in the lexicon of epidemics and pandemics because, at least until 2009, that’s how the […]

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Scicomm Science

A new beginning

When The Wire was launched on May 11, 2015, we (the editors) decided to organise the site’s content within six principal categories: politics, political economy, foreign affairs, science, culture and law. In the five years since, the Big Three categories — politics, political economy and foreign affairs — have come to dominate The Wire‘s identity as a digital […]