On India’s new ‘Vigyan Puraskar’ awards

crop chemist holding in hands molecule model

The Government of India has replaced the 300 or so awards for scientists it used to give out until this year with the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar (RVP), a set of four awards with 56 laureates, The Hindu has reported. Unlike in the previous paradigm, and like the Padma awards to recognise the accomplishments of civilians, … Read more

The UAE’s hacks for international prominence

silhouette of buildings

The UAE seems to be making a sincere attempt to whitewash itself, according to a New York Times report on September 1, by hosting the COP28 climate talks. This is both unsurprising and fascinating – both because we’ve seen this in the local cosmopolitan self-image the country has sought to build. This is perhaps most … Read more

Checking the validity of a ‘valid’ ISRO question

The question of whether resources directed to space programmes are a diversion from pressing development needs, however, is a valid one. As an answer, one can uphold the importance of these programmes in material and scientific terms. The knowledge gleaned from these missions will contribute to human progress, and ISRO’s demonstration of its ability to … Read more

A lotus for Modi, with love from Manipur

pink waterlily flower in full bloom

This bit of news is so chock full of metaphors that I’m almost laughing out loud. Annotated excerpts from ‘CSIR’s new lotus variety ‘Namoh 108’ a ‘grand gift’ to PM Modi: Science Minister‘, The Hindu, August 19, 2023: It’s a triviality today that the Indian government ministers’ relentless exaltation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is … Read more

A new science page at The Hindu

Starting today, The Hindu has a new science page, available to read in the premium e-paper edition. It will be published on all days except Saturday. I will be anchoring the page from Monday to Thursday; the Friday page will focus on health and will be anchored by my colleague Ramya Kannan; and the Sunday … Read more

On The Caravan’s new profile of The Hindu

On December 1, The Caravan published a 50-page report entitled ‘Paper Priests: The battle for the soul of The Hindu’. The report – actually, as a friend put it, a big profile – has many good parts and many others, not so much, especially from the point of view of an insider: I worked there … Read more

Another controversy, another round of blaming preprints

On February 1, Anand Ranganathan, the molecular biologist more popular as a columnist for Swarajya, amplified a new preprint paper from scientists at IIT Delhi that (purportedly) claims the Wuhan coronavirus’s (2019 nCoV’s) DNA appears to contain some genes also found in the human immunodeficiency virus but not in any other coronaviruses. Ranganathan also chose … Read more

Retrospective: The Wire Science in 2019

At the start of 2019, The Wire Science decided to focus more on issues of science and society, and this is reflected in the year-end list of our best stories (in terms of traffic and engagement; listed below). Most of our hits don’t belong to this genre, but quite a few do – enough for us … Read more

A shorter article about short gamma ray bursts lights up little

Identify a simple and well-defined question Describe the question and answer it Get the fuck out Writing with these three rules in mind makes for a good science article. You stick to the point, you know what details to include and what to leave out and, most importantly, you set straightforward expectations and meet them. … Read more