Do your bit, broaden your science menu

Featured image credit: Hans/pixabay

Don’t judge the best science journalists in India after having read only the worst science journalism.

Auditing science stories: Two examples from the bottom rungs

The Green Bank radio telescope, West Virginia. Credit: NRAO/AUI, CC BY 3.0

The worst kinds of science stories are those that get facts wrong – and then those that report null results wrong.

Is it so blasphemous to think ISRO ought not to be compared to other space agencies?

Is it so hard to consider the possibility that we might get a better sense of ISRO’s activities if we did not keep comparing it to those of other space agencies?

TIFR’s superconductor discovery: Where are the reports?

The Meissner effect: a magnet levitating above a superconductor. Credit: Mai-Linh Doan/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Most news publications in India didn’t report on an exciting and significant discovery made by physicists from TIFR, Mumbai. Why not?

ISRO to launch India’s first astronomy satellite on September 28

India’s first astronomy satellite will be launched on September 28. ISRO has noted that while it has launched payloads capable of making astronomical observations before, this is the first time one dedicated to astronomy will be launched. Called ASTROSAT, it was first scheduled for launch in 2005, then in 2010, and finally in 2015 with delays largely due to putting the scientific payload together. ASTROSAT will be a multi-wavelength mission, observing the cosmos in X-ray, visible and UV light. ASTROSAT is one of two scientific missions that have long been overdue – the other being… Read More

A telescope that gives India a new place in the Sun

The Wire July 8, 2015 An attempt to make sense of anything in the Solar System cannot happen without first acknowledging the presence, and effects, of the Sun at its centre. And in an effort to expand this understanding, the Udaipur Solar Observatory, Rajasthan, recently added a versatile telescope to its line-up. The USO is part of a network of six observatories on Earth, a network that continuously monitors activities on the Sun’s surface to determine why solar flares occur and what their impacts are. Flares are violent ejections of particles, heat… Read More

ISRO keeps up steady trickle of photos from Mars Orbiter

The Wire May 23, 2015 On May 22, the Indian Space Research Organization released two new pictures snapped by the Mars Orbiter Mission, currently in orbit around the red planet. They were taken by the Mars Colour Camera on-board the orbiter in February and April, and follow a heftier batch of photos released in the third week of March. On the same day, ISRO was given thePioneer Award by the International Space Development Conference, organized by the American National Space Society. One picture shows Tyrrhenus Mons (above), a major volcanic elevation located in the southern hemisphere of Mars…. Read More

It’s time for ISRO to reach for the (blue) sky

The Wire May 19, 2015 Almost 40 years after the launch of Aryabhata, the Indian Space Research Organisation successfully placed another satellite into orbit, this time around Mars – becoming the world’s first space agency to have done so in its debut attempt. There are many similarities between the April-1975 launch of Aryabhata, India’s first satellite, and the September-2014 orbit-insertion of the Mars Orbiter Mission. But if the Mars mission suggests India has come a long way, ISRO’s commitment to blue-sky research – putting financial and scientific resources into projects that do not have immediate or even obvious applications –… Read More

The dignity of human labor

My Twitter friend and compatriot @zeusisdead made a good, bristling case for why we shouldn’t celebrate India’s Mars Orbiter mission’s frugality. Here’s a telling excerpt from his piece as it appeared in Times of India: ISRO [India’s space agency] did not get to Mars by using duct tape and M-seal to make the orbiter work. ISRO is not trying to repair cars by refashioning cycle chains. It takes several minutes for the ISRO command centre to beam a message to the orbiter and an equal length of time to hear back. The “thoda… Read More

The Confessions Of An Embarrassed Indian

The 2G spectrum scam. The MMORPG-style humiliation of the Indian Constitution. The jejune responses of the INC. The deep-rooted betrayal of the Karunanidhi family towards Tamil Nadu and, more importantly, India. The delay in readying the Eden Gardens for a World Cup match. The ISRO fraud. All these events have together contributed to a significant exposure of the disillusionment I professed towards my country, my leaders and my people. I am aware that, since the start of this year, many millions have either had their convictions doubly verified or, like me, been… Read More