A Q&A about philosophy in journalism

Earlier this year, Varun Bhatta, assistant professor of philosophy at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhopal, reached out to ask me some questions for something he was writing about the representation of philosophical ideas in journalism. He interviewed others as well and subsequently wrote and published his article with The Wire on … Read more

Waters and bridges between science journalism and scicomm

On November 24-25, the Science Journalists’ Association of India (SJAI) conducted its inaugural conference at the National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi. I attended it as a delegate. A persistent internal monologue of mine at the event was the lack of an explicit distinction between science communicators and science journalists. One of my peers … Read more

On Somanath withdrawing his autobiography

Excerpt from The Hindu, November 4, 2023: S. Somanath, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told The Hindu that he’s withdrawing the publication of his memoir, Nilavu Kudicha Simhangal, penned in Malayalam. The decision followed a report in the Malayala Manorama on Saturday that quoted excerpts from the book suggesting K. Sivan, former ISRO chairman … Read more

Neuromorphic hype

We all know there’s a difference between operating an Indica Diesel car and a WDP 4 diesel locomotive. The former has two cylinders and the latter 16. But that doesn’t mean the WDP 4 simply has eight times more components as the Indica. This is what comes to my mind when I come across articles … Read more

The passive voice is political

Eric Martinez, Francis Mollica and Edward Gibson of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Edinburgh won an Ig Nobel Prize for literature this year for their work on what makes legal documents so hard to read. Ironically, the abstract of their paper, published in July 2022, is also very hard to read, … Read more

On anticipation and the history of science

In mid-2012, shortly after physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe had announced the discovery of a particle that looked a lot like the Higgs boson, there was some clamour in India over news reports not paying enough attention or homage to the work of Satyendra Nath Bose. Bose and Albert Einstein … Read more

The problem with rooting for science

The idea that trusting in science involves a lot of faith, instead of reason, is lost on most people. More often than not, as a science journalist, I encounter faith through extreme examples – such as the Bloch sphere (used to represent the state of a qubit) or wave functions (‘mathematical objects’ used to understand … Read more

Scicommers as knowledge producers

Reading the latest edition of Raghavendra Gadagkar’s column in The Wire Science, ‘More Fun Than Fun’, about how scientists should become communicators and communicators should be treated as knowledge-producers, I began wondering if the knowledge produced by the latter is in fact not the same knowledge but something entirely new. The idea that communicators simply … Read more

On the lab-leak hypothesis

One problem with the debate over the novel coronavirus’s “lab leak” origin hypothesis is a problem I’m starting to see in quite a few other areas of pandemic-related analysis and discussion. It’s that no one will say why others are wrong, even as they insist others are, and go on about why they are right. … Read more

The Wire Science is hiring

Location: Bengaluru or New Delhi The Wire Science is looking for a sub-editor to conceptualise, edit and produce high-quality news articles and features in a digital newsroom. Requirements Good faculty with the English language Excellent copy-editing skills A strong news sense A strong interest in new scientific findings Know how to read scientific papers Familiarity … Read more