Anil Ananthaswamy in conversation with Anita Nair

I attended an event at the Bangalore International Centre yesterday, Anita Nair in conversation with Anil Ananthaswamy about narrative non-fiction. Anil spoke for 45-55 minutes about what it was like to write his first book, The Edge of Physics (2010), and the different kinds of decisions he had to make as the narrator to keep …

Epstein’s friends from the ‘Reality Club’

New York magazine has published an alphabetised list of the names of people that find mention in Jeffrey Epstein’s ‘black book’, a log book of sorts in which he kept track of the people he entertained, including at his residence and onboard his private jet, both venues of Epstein’s horrible exploitation of young women. The …

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 you …

An award that isn’t

ISRO just put out a call for a one-time space journalism award, named for Vikram Sarabhai, with a cash prize of Rs 5 lakh. Here’s the doc with all the details. Pay attention to (4), where it says submissions will be judged on the basis of “articles/success stories”: In other words (and especially in the …

Prestige journals and their prestigious mistakes

On June 24, the journal Nature Scientific Reports published a paper claiming that Earth’s surface was warming by more than what non-anthropogenic sources could account for because it was simply moving closer to the Sun. I.e. global warming was the result of changes in the Earth-Sun distance. Excerpt: The oscillations of the baseline of solar …

Why covering ISRO is a pain

The following is a bulleted list of reasons why covering developments on the Indian spaceflight programme can be nerve-wracking. ISRO does not have a media engagement policy that lays out when it will communicate information to journalists and how, so there is seldom a guarantee of correctness when reporting developing eventsISRO’s updates themselves are haphazard: …

Firstpost’s selfish journalism

I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of false balance, which is based on the conviction that there are two sides to every story even when there aren’t or when it’s not clear to anyone what the other side is. I’m also sure you’re aware of how journalism based on false balance can legitimise fake …

Diversifying into other beats

I delivered my annual talk AMA at the NCBS science writing workshop yesterday. While the questions the students asked were mostly the same as last year (and the year before that), I also took the opportunity to request them to consider diversifying into other subjects. Most, if not all, journalists entering India’s science journalism space every …

The usefulness of good grammar

Why is good grammar important? In the Indian mainstream media at least, it appears that readers won’t penalise reporters and editors for imperfect use of grammar and punctuation. To be clear, they will notice – and many will avoid – bad writing; at the same time, readers are unlikely to credit articles that got their …