Interviews

The “Raman Effect”

The “Raman Effect”

Abha Sur is part of the humanities faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As a physical chemist, she taught the subject and also published several papers on laser spectroscopy, her field of specialization. Then, the focus of her research shifted, taking her from the lab bench to the library archives. She wanted to find out more about the life and times of India’s first Nobel Laureate. Sir C. V. Raman’s (1888- 1970) name is immortalized in science because he demonstrated the molecular scattering of […]



Tarzan Girl

Tarzan Girl

Margaret Lowman is a pioneer in canopy science, a subset of field biology, and the author of the best-selling Life in the Treetops. She also co-authored It is a Jungle up there with her two sons. A professor at North Carolina State University and Director of the Nature Research Center in Raleigh, she is currently a Fulbright Senior Specialist Scholar to India. Q Why is it so important to study life in the treetops? A Forest canopies are the interface between atmosphere and earth — […]



“Particle Physics At The Crossroads”

“Particle Physics At The Crossroads”

Prof. Rohini Godbole, particle physicist, is a researcher at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In a parallel universe, she would have been a Bank of Maharasthra employee: she was offered a job after she topped Pune University in B.Sc., Physics. “The salary was almost as much as my father’s at that time,” she recalls. A scholarly life, she decided, would suit her better. Today, she is part of a select group of scientists who will decide the design of the next-generation particle accelerator based […]



The Scent Expert

The Scent Expert

We humans use a combination of our five senses — sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — to navigate the everyday world. Among those who operate without the benefit of one or more of these senses, the blind and the deaf have our immediate sympathy. But what of a person who cannot smell — an anosmic? Can we even begin to fathom her frustration? Smell is an undervalued sense. When we can drink in the scents and odors around us, it is hard to appreciate […]



One Minute with Nicholas Negroponte

One Minute with Nicholas Negroponte

Can tablet computers “parachuted” into remote areas transform childhood learning, asks Nicholas Negroponte, the man behind One Laptop per Child You’ll helicopter computers into remote areas so the children there can teach themselves to read and write. Where did the idea come from? One Laptop per Child (OLPC), even after giving out nearly 3 million laptops, is still criticised along the following lines: “Negroponte believes that you can give a child a laptop and walk away.” Whether I ever believed that or not is now […]



Not Arriving Shortly– Arrived

Not Arriving Shortly– Arrived

The poem was written on a sort of impulse. It was triggered by a comment I heard from a friend of mine – quite a culture-vulture himself – about another writer based in Bombay. My friend said that this writer was “so Bombay”, meaning so typically a Bombayite or a Mumbaikar. It got me thinking about how he or others might see me and so this poem got written. At the core of it, of course, lies my own love for the older version of […]



I’ve been called a girl geek

I’ve been called a girl geek

Angela Saini is an award-winning independent journalist based in London. Before going freelance, she worked as a reporter for the BBC, but her very first journalism job was with The Hindu’s Frontline magazine in New Delhi. Later, in 2009, she took a trip to Mumbai to write a story about lie detectors and was amazed by the breadth of government science initiatives and the sudden burst of R&D centres all over the country. A book idea was born. For Geek Nation: How Indian Science is […]



Cosmic Quest

Cosmic Quest

Anil Ananthaswamy is the author of The Edge of Reason, a work of narrative non-fiction. The book tells the story of scientists whose research into the workings of the universe takes them to remote places. And, it celebrates those very destinations which make certain scientific discoveries possible. The London-based writer and engineer from IIT-Madras talks about how the book came into being. Read a Q &A with the author here.



Unravelling Mysteries of Ancient Human Migration

Where did humans originate and how did they populate the entire globe? Scientists may finally be able to answer these fundamental questions when they have enough DNA samples from people all over the world. The Genographic Project attempts to trace the ancient journey of man through the genetic analysis of present-day populations on every continent. This nonprofit, five-year research partnership of National Geographic and IBM is led by geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells with support from the Waitt Family Foundation. India is one of the ten […]