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

A tale of two myopias, climate change and the present participle

The Assam floods are going on. One day, they will stop. The water will subside in many parts of the state but the things that caused the floods will continue to work, ceaselessly, and will cause them to occur again next year, and the year after and so on for the foreseeable future. Journalists, politicians and … Read more

Climate change, like quantum physics, will strain language

One of the defining features of quantum mechanics is that it shows up human language, and thought supported by that language, to be insufficient and limited. Many of the most popular languages of the world, including Tamil, Hindi and English, are linear. Their script reads in a line from one end of the page to … Read more

The Nobel Prize, its men and climate change

The sciences part of this year’s Nobel Prize announcements have concluded. These are the new laureates: Physics – Syukuro Manabe 🇯🇵 🇺🇸, Klaus Hasselmann 🇩🇪 and Giorgio Parisi 🇮🇹 Chemistry – Benjamin List 🇩🇪 and David W.C. MacMillan 🇬🇧 Medicine/physiology – David Julius 🇺🇸 and Ardem Patapoutian 🇺🇸 I have yet to come across a … Read more

Extremely slow fashion

According to Entertainment Weekly, Every year on the first Monday in May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosts a star-studded fundraising gala, the red carpet of which is any year’s most high-profile intersection of entertainment and fashion. The event also serves as the grand opening of the Met’s Costume Institute’s annual fashion exhibit, which revolves … Read more

On the NASEM report on solar geoengineering

A top scientific body in the US has asked the government to fund solar geoengineering research in a bid to help researchers and policymakers know the fullest extent of their options to help the US deal with climate change. Solar geoengineering is a technique in which sunlight-reflecting aerosols are pumped into the air, to subtract … Read more

Christopher Nolan’s explosion

In May, Total Film reported that the production team of Tenet, led by director Christopher Nolan, found that using a second-hand Boeing 747 was better than recreating a scene involving an exploding plane with miniatures and CGI. I’m not clear how exactly it was better; Total Film only wrote: “I planned to do it using … Read more

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 … Read more