In the urban local body elections marked by an abysmally low turnout in the Kashmir Valley (The Indian Express, October 17), the number of local bodies where no polls were held was twice the number that did have a poll. The key takeaways:
40 Number of urban local bodies in the Valley; out of which 27 did not witness any voting take place.
598 Number of wards constituting these 40 local bodies. As in the case of the urban bodies, the number of wards without a contest (69%) was twice the number of wards where voting did take place (31%)
4.27% Overall turnout in the Valley. This was in contrast to the 45% turnout in the last municipal body polls, held in 2005. Usually, local body polls record larger turnouts than Assembly or Parliament polls . For example, the 2011 panchayat polls had 80% in the Valley. This time, the 4.27% was lower than even the 5.18% turnout in the Lok Sabha polls of 1989, the year militancy hit the Valley.
3 Number of districts (out of 10 in the Valley) in which no voting took place. These were Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam.
2 Number of municipal bodies that had no contestant, across wards. Out of the 40 municipal bodies, 4 more had either 1 or 2 candidates. —Ens & PTI
Tip for Reading List | Hawking’s answer to old puzzle
Last week, the last research paper by Stephen Hawking was made available to the public. This is different from his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, which will be released next week, and in which the late cosmologist wrote about the dangers of genetic engineering (The Indian Express, October 15). In the research paper, posted online, Hawking and fellow researchers address a question that had long vexed him: How does information that falls into a black hole get back out so that it is not lost forever? Two of his collaborators —Malcolm Perry (University of Cambridge) and Andy Strominger (Harvard University) — have summarised the group’s research in “Black Hole Entropy and Soft Hair”, whose lead author is Cambridge graduate student Sasha Haco.
Reports by Science magazine and The Guardian explain the paradox Hawking was faced with. According to classical physics, nothing can escape a black hole. But according to a theory Hawking proposed in the 1970s, black holes might have a temperature, and any black hole would ultimately evaporate out of existence. And yet, during its lifetime, the black hole would have swallowed a lot of information — which cannot be lost, according to the laws of physics.
The new paper describes how information might linger on the surface of a black hole in the arrangement of subtle charges. “Those charges constitute the soft hair, without which a black hole would be an inscrutable orb described by just its mass and spin. The speculative idea likely isn’t the last word on the problem,” the Science magazine report said. The paper is on a preprint server at https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.01847