US experiments find hint of a break in the laws of physics

At 9 pm India time on April 7, physicists at an American research facility delivered a shot in the arm to efforts to find flaws in a powerful theory that explains how the building blocks of the universe work. Physicists are looking for flaws in it because the theory doesn’t have answers to some questionsContinue reading “US experiments find hint of a break in the laws of physics”

On resource constraints and merit

In the face of complaints about how so few women have been awarded this year’s Swarnajayanti Fellowships in India, some scientists pushed back asking which of the male laureates who had been selected should have been left out instead. This is a version of the merit argument commonly applied to demands for reservation and quota in higherContinue reading “On resource constraints and merit”

My heart of physics

Every July 4, I have occasion to remember two things: the discovery of the Higgs boson, and my first published byline for an article about the discovery of the Higgs boson. I have no trouble believing it’s been eight years since we discovered this particle, using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and its ATLAS andContinue reading “My heart of physics”

Peter Higgs, self-promoter

I was randomly rewatching The Big Bang Theory on Netflix today when I spotted this gem: Okay, maybe less a gem and more a shiny stone, but still. The screenshot, taken from the third episode of the sixth season, shows Sheldon Cooper mansplaining to Penny the work of Peter Higgs, whose name is most famouslyContinue reading “Peter Higgs, self-promoter”

Science v. tech, à la Cixin Liu

A fascinating observation by Cixin Liu in an interview in Public Books, to John Plotz and translated by Pu Wang (numbers added): … technology precedes science. (1) Way before the rise of modern science, there were so many technologies, so many technological innovations. But today technology is deeply embedded in the development of science. Basically,Continue reading “Science v. tech, à la Cixin Liu”

A journey through Twitter and time, with the laws of physics

Say you’re in a dark room and there’s a flash. The light travels outward in all directions from the source, and the illumination seems to expand in a sphere. This is a visualisation of how the information contained in light becomes distributed through space. But even though this is probably what you’d see if youContinue reading “A journey through Twitter and time, with the laws of physics”

Chromodynamics: Gluons are just gonzo

One of the more fascinating bits of high-energy physics is the branch of physics called quantum chromodynamics (QCD). Don’t let the big name throw you off: it deals with a bunch of elementary particles that have a property called colour charge. And one of these particles creates a mess of this branch of physics because of itsContinue reading “Chromodynamics: Gluons are just gonzo”

The INO story

The INO’s is a great story but stands unfortunately to become a depressing parable at the moment – the biggest bug yet in a spider’s web spun of bureaucracy and misinformation.