Vaccines for votes

A photograph of a person inserting a piece of paper into a box via a slit, akin to casting a vote in a ballot box.

A week or so ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party in Bihar released its poll manifesto, the first point on which was that should the party win, it would make a COVID-19 vaccine cleared by the ICMR available for free to every resident of the state. It was an unethical move, and Siddharth Varadarajan and I…

Powerful microscopy technique brings proteins into focus

Scientists using a 300kV cryo-electron microscope at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology, Dortmund. Credit: MPI Dortmund

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) as a technology has become more important because the field that it revolutionised – structural biology – has become more important. The international scientific community had this rise in fortunes, so to speak, acknowledged when the Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to three people in 2017 for perfecting its use to…

A future obscured by exponential growth

An artist's rendering of spaceships over a city, casting yellow tractor beams down as the skies darken with clouds above.

A couple months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I think most of us realised how hard it is to comprehend the phenomenon of exponential growth. Mathematically, it's trivial – a geometric progression – but more physically, the difference between linear and exponential growth is very non-trivial, as a cause-effect chain where each effect leads to multiple…

The climate change of bad news

This post flows a bit like the 1987 film Full Metal Jacket. As one friend put it, “It starts somewhere and then goes in a different direction.” This year hasn’t been beset by the same old steady drizzle of bad news we have every year – but has borne the brunt of cyclonic storms, each one…