Computer Simulations And The Universe

by Ashutosh Jogalekar There is a sense in certain quarters that both experimental and theoretical fundamental physics are at an impasse. Other branches of physics like condensed matter physics and fluid dynamics are thriving, but since the composition and existence of the fundamental basis of matter, the origins of the universe and the unity of…

Late hour

by Ashutosh Jogalekar The fall turned colors faster than ever before. The streets never saw any activity. The whole gambit of Prometheus hinged on a mere coin flip. Richard Albrook gingerly closed his book and took a look around. The café was almost deserted, college students and startup founders struggling to meet last minute deadlines,…

On Nobel Prizes, diversity and tool-driven scientific revolutions

by Ashutosh Jogalekar The Nobel Prizes in science will be announced this week. For more than a century the prizes have recognized high achievement in physics, chemistry and medicine. Some scientists crave the prizes so much that they get obsessed with them. A prominent, world-famous chemist once had lunch with my graduate school advisor. After…

The wisdom of John Wheeler and Oliver Sacks

by Ashutosh Jogalekar A rare and happy coincidence today: The birthdays of both John Archibald Wheeler and Oliver Sacks. Wheeler was one of the most prominent physicists of the twentieth century. Sacks was one of the most prominent medical writers of his time. Both of them were great explorers, the first of the universe beyond…

Secrets of the Old One

by Ashutosh Jogalekar In 1968, James Watson published “The Double Helix”, a personal account of the history of the race to discover the structure of DNA. The book was controversial and bracingly honest, a glimpse into the working style and personalities of great scientists like Francis Crick, Lawrence Bragg, Rosalind Franklin and Linus Pauling, warts…

Dreams of a technocrat

by Ashutosh Jogalekar Technocrats have had a mixed record in guiding major policies of the United States government. Perhaps the most famous technocrat of the postwar years was Robert McNamara, the longest serving secretary of defense who worked for both John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. Before joining Kennedy’s cabinet McNamara was the president of Ford…

Bridging the gaps: Einstein on education

by Ashutosh Jogalekar The crossing of disciplinary boundaries in science has brought with it a peculiar and ironic contradiction. On one hand, fields like computational biology, medical informatics and nuclear astrophysics have encouraged cross-pollination between disciplines and required the biologist to learn programming, the computer scientist to learn biology and the doctor to know statistics.…

Big Data is shackling mankind’s sense of creative wonder

by Ashutosh Jogalekar Primitive science began when mankind looked upward at the sky and downward at the earth and asked why. Modern science began when Galileo and Kepler and Newton answered these questions using the language of mathematics and started codifying them into general scientific laws. Since then scientific discovery has been constantly driven by…

Black Holes and the Curse of Beauty: When Revolutionary Physicists Turn Conservative

by Ashutosh Jogalekar On September 1, 1939, the leading journal of physics in the United States, Physical Review, carried two remarkable papers. One was by a young professor of physics at Princeton University named John Wheeler and his mentor Niels Bohr. The other was by a young postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley,…

If you believe Western Civilization is oppressive, you will ensure it is oppressive

by Ashutosh Jogalekar Philosopher John Locke's spirited defense of the natural rights of man should apply to all men and women, not just one's favorite factions. When the British left India in 1947, they left a complicated legacy behind. On one hand, Indians had suffered tremendously under oppressive British rule for more than 250 years.…