Another exit from MIT Media Lab

J. Nathan Matias, a newly minted faculty member at Cornell University and a visiting scholar at the MIT Media Lab, has announced that he will cut all ties with the latter at the end of the academic year over the lab director’s, i.e. Joi Ito’s, association with Jeffrey Epstein. His announcement comes on the heels …

Joi Ito’s nerd tunnel vision

On August 15, Joi Ito, the director of MIT’s famed Media Lab, published a post apologising for fraternising with Jeffrey Epstein. His wording mimics a bit of George Church’s as well, in that Ito says he “was never involved in, never heard him talk about, and never saw any evidence of the horrific acts that …

The simple tech that can pierce the Kashmir blackout

On August 15, AFP reported that the BBC plans to expand its shortwave radio coverage in Kashmir “to ease the impact of a communications blackout imposed by the Centre”. The report added that “short wave transmissions travel thousands of miles and are able to bounce over mountains that dominate the region.” Shortwave radio transmission is enabled by …

Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)

This review assumes Tanul Thakur’s review as a preamble. There’s the argument that ISRO isn’t doing much by way of public outreach and trust in the media is at a low, and for many people – more than the most reliable sections of the media can possibly cover – Bollywood’s Mission Mangal could be the …

Of awards and women

The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was founded in 2012 by Yuri Milner to recognise those individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. It is open to all physicists – theoretical, mathematical, experimental – working on the deepest mysteries of the Universe. (Source) When these prizes were first awarded seven years ago, a …

Discovering Vikram Sarabhai

I just read through a collection of Vikram Sarabhai’s important speeches and papers compiled by members of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad, to pick a suitable portion to excerpt on the occasion of Sarabhai’s birth centenary tomorrow. There was one portion I would have loved to publish but it belonged to a larger text …

Would you take Epstein’s money to fund your research?

Note: Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell on August 10, 2019. The following post was written before news of his death emerged. In 2016, I attended a talk by a not-unknown environmental activist in Chennai (not Nityanand Jayaraman, before you ask) who had spent many years stitching together community efforts to restore water bodies …

Scientists make video of molecule rotating

A research group in Germany has captured images of what a rotating molecule looks like. This is a significant feat because it is very difficult to observe individual atoms and molecules, which are very small as well as very fragile. Scientists often have to employ ingenious techniques that can probe their small scale but without …

Preference for OA research by income group

Two researchers from Rwanda performed a “systematic computational analysis of the biomedical literature” and concluded in their paper that: … papers with authors based in sub-Saharan Africa, papers with authors based in low income countries, and papers resulting from international collaboration are all much more likely to be made openly accessible than papers that don’t have these …

When deGrasse Tyson pulled a Pinker

Since this post was published, an upward-edited version has been republished on The Wire. Twitter is, among other things, that place on the internet where people fight over the tips of icebergs. There is often the presumption that what ends up on Twitter has been thought through and carefully condensed to fit into the arbitrary …

Being understood

Before the definitive version of Blade Runner was due to be released in April 2015, Michael Newton re-reviewed the film for The Guardian, where he wrote: If the film suggests a connection here that Deckard himself might still at this point deny, at the very end doubt falls away. Roy’s life closes with an act of pity, one that raises …