The real story of ‘The Old Guard’

Spoiler alert: Don't read this post if you intend to watch The Old Guard but haven't done so yet. The Old Guard, an action film starring Charlize Theron among others, released on Netflix on July 10. In a scene in the film, Copley (Chiwetel Ejiofor) delivers two undying men to the CEO of a pharmaceutical…

The weekly linklist – July 25, 2020

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I've decided to publish this linklist via Substack. Next weekend onwards, it will only be available on https://linklist.substack.com. And this is why the list exists and what kind of articles you can find in it. Want to buy a parrot? Please login via Facebook. – "F-commerce emerged in Bangladesh largely because there was no major…

To read or not a bad man’s book

The Life of Science team uploaded the video of their webinar on July 10, about the construct of the genius in science, on YouTube on July 14. Please watch it if you haven't already. I had also blogged about it. During the webinar, Gita Chadha – a sociologist of science and one of the two…

Super-spreads exist, but do super-spreaders?

What does the term ‘super-spreader’ mean? According to an article in the MIT Tech Review on June 15, “The word is a generic term for an unusually contagious individual who’s been infected with disease. In the context of the coronavirus, scientists haven’t narrowed down how many infections someone needs to cause to qualify as a superspreader, but…

The occasional linklist – July 19, 2020

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I have been pondering creating a column on my blog where I share links to articles I read and liked. I perform this function on Twitter at the moment, but the attention some links attract are rubbish, and I reflexively share only relatively bland things there these days as a result. I'm also starting to…

Questions we should be asking more often

1. Okay, but where’s the money coming from? In a lecture at the Asian College of Journalism, where I was in the audience as a student, P. Sainath told us that if we needed one rule following which we’d be able to produce good stories, it’s “follow the money”. It’s remarkable how often this suggestion…

Caste, and science’s notability threshold

A webinar by The Life of Science on the construct of the 'scientific genius' just concluded, with Gita Chadha and Shalini Mahadev, a PhD scholar at HCU, as panellists. It was an hour long and I learnt a lot in this short time, which shouldn't be surprising because, more broadly, we often don't stop to…

A non-self-correcting science

While I'm all for a bit of triumphalism when some component of conventional publication vis-à-vis scientific research – like pre-publication anonymous peer review – fails, and fails publicly, I spotted an article in The Conversation earlier today that I thought crossed a line (and not in the way you think). In this article, headlined 'Retractions…

Citations and media coverage

According to a press release accompanying a just-published study in PLOS ONE: Highly cited papers also tend to receive more media attention, although the cause of the association is unclear. One reason I can think of is a confounding factor that serves as the hidden cause of both phenomena. Discoverability matters just as much as…

The awesome limits of superconductors

On June 24, a press release from CERN said that scientists and engineers working on upgrading the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had "built and operated … the most powerful electrical transmission line … to date". The transmission line consisted of four cables – two capable of transporting 20 kA of current and two, 7 kA.…

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 and…