Another reason to point lights down

old red residential house with grey windows frames

‘Skyward light, wayward light’, this blog, December 14, 2022: One of the simplest ways [to prevent light pollution] is in fact to have no public lighting installation that casts light upward, into the sky, but keeps it all facing down. Doing this will subtract the installation’s contribution to light pollution, improve energy-use efficiency by not … Read more

The gap between language and quantum mechanics

person writing on white board

Physics World has a fantastic article about the problem with using a language invented, in Terry Pratchett’s words, “to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is”, to describe the peculiar but very much real possibilities created by the rules of quantum mechanics. Excerpt: … despite the burgeoning growth of quantum technology, one thing that … Read more

When we play god with dogs and the climate

zeus statue in bernini s fountain of the four rivers in rome italy

Accusing people of ‘hubris’ and of “playing god” vis-à-vis solutions to the canine crisis and the climate crisis isn’t just pointless but may betray a preference for a moral position that is no longer gainful. Once “man” has “played god”, every action that follows – however humble or selfless – can be said to be … Read more

Where do scientists communicate their work?

A group of Spanish researchers analysed the mentions of scientific papers authored by scientists (affiliated with Spain) on the social media, on Wikipedia, and on news outlets, blogs and policy documents to understand where the consumers of such scientific information were located. They selected 3,653 authors, and the following platforms/modes in their analysis: Twitter, Facebook … Read more

Games grimy and green

Every day, I spend an hour or three playing a game called Factorio, in which you mine and process natural resources with which to build and automate ever-larger factories that manufacture materials for research, transport, power, and weapons. Once your factories get big enough (say, when they consume 10 MW), Factorio is less like a … Read more

Who’s to blame for the American right’s distrust of science?

reflection of gray mosque on water

This study unambiguously suggests that scientific journals do the institution of science no favor when they insert themselves so directly in the political debate, especially at a time when trust in the scientific community continues to decline on the right wing. This is the surprisingly misguided interpretation, in an article published by Politico, of a … Read more

Lord of the Rings Day

Campagna Fantasy, Frederic Edwin Church

Happy Lord of the Rings Day. 🙂 About a week ago, I began rereading book 7 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. This followed my realisation earlier this year that I had somehow lost the ability to read fiction. I had neither the interest in the genre nor – unlike in the pre-pandemic … Read more

AI v. our ability to build AI

A lot of this article, by Sean Ekins, Filippa Lentzos, Max Brackmann, and Cédric Invernizzi, published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on March 24, makes good sense – except the following two sentences: Nature took millions of years to design proteins. AI can generate meaningful protein sequences in seconds. The bigger question to ask … Read more

BLR road-widening is a sham

While I’m told that discussions on a plan to widen Bengaluru’s Sankey Road, between Bhashyam Circle and Malleshwaram 18th cross – a stretch that’s one of the contributors to the city’s reputation for horrific traffic – have progressed in the last two months to become less unilateral and more consultative, the idea that road-widening can … Read more

India’s devious reason to not spend more on culture

‘Difficult to allocate public fund to art and culture: Centre’, The Hindu, March 19, 2023: Given the high disparity it experiences in elementary rural infrastructure like health, education and transportation, it might not be “tenable” for a developing nation like India to allocate a considerable proportion of its public fund to the promotion of art … Read more