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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Kabir Firaque


Kabir Firaque, a newsroom veteran of three decades, has been part of The Indian Express editorial team since 2008. A civil engineer by education, he writes on science, mathematics, puzzles, and issues related to Assam. He tweets @KabirFiraque

Explained: What a child’s tooth tells us about our ancient cousins
Thu, May 19, 2022

In a cave in Laos, a tooth that likely belonged to a Denisovan girl from 1,60,000 - 1,30,000 years ago. Little is known of Denisovans; the find sheds new light on their habitat, adaptability and interbreeding with the ancestors of modern humans.

Explained: Indians’ preference for sons, and why Meghalaya women prefer more daughters
Thu, May 19, 2022

For most Indians, an ideal family consists of more daughters than sons, NFHS data show. Women in matrilineal Meghalaya are the exception — but not the state's men.

Asthma drug blocks protein crucial to replication of coronavirus: IISc study
Wed, Apr 27, 2022

A widely available drug, used for treatment of asthma and allergies, can also block a protein that is key to replication of SARS-CoV-2, a study has found.

Explained: The languages India speaks
Thu, Apr 28, 2022

Hindi is the mother tongue of 44% of Indians in Census 2011; the rest speak 120 other languages

Explained: The complete human genome, and what it tells us
Sat, Apr 02, 2022

Two decades after most of the human genome was mapped, scientists have now filled in the gaps that remained. What are the parts newly sequenced, and how will the information be useful in understanding genetic disease and evolution?

Acting Oscars for playing the same character: What connects, what separates the 1961 and 2021 versions of West Side Story
Tue, Mar 29, 2022

Anita DeBose has matched Rita Moreno by bagging the Best Supporting Actress award for playing the character of Anita. Before that, there were Vito Corleone and the Joker.

Explained: Religions in India, ‘living together separately’
Tue, Jul 13, 2021

A study by Pew Research Center has found that most Indians respect religious diversity. Yet they prefer to live in separate spheres, and frown on interfaith marriages.

Can a person live to age 124, 135 or 150? Some optimism, some caveats
Tue, Jul 06, 2021

It is nearly 100% likely that someone will have lived beyond 122 by the end of the century, researchers have projected in a statistical study.

Explained: How to test your smartphone screen for coronavirus
Wed, Jun 30, 2021

Novel method involves collecting samples from smartphone screen and subjecting them to regular PCR testing. A double-blind study has found the non-invasive, low-cost test as accurate as regular PCR tests.

Explained: What puts lions and tigers at coronavirus risk?
Tue, Jun 08, 2021

A lioness at Chennai's Vandalur Zoo died of suspected coronavirus infection last week. A 10-year-old tiger also died at Ranchi's Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park after suffering from fever. Are lions and tigers particularly vulnerable? What have studies found?

Explained: How big a role can sniffer dogs play in detection of coronavirus?
Wed, May 26, 2021

A series of studies has shown how effectively dogs can detect coronavirus in sweat or urine samples of infected individuals. But can they replace conventional RT-PCR tests? Not yet.

Explained: Can a single lightning flash kill 18 elephants? Science says yes, in various possible ways
Thu, Dec 09, 2021

When current flows through the ground following a lightning strike, the electric potential (voltage) is highest at the point of the strike, and decreases with distance along the direction of the flow.

Explained: Why Congress blames regional front for helping BJP win Assam
Tue, May 11, 2021

The Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and the Raijor Dal (RD), born out of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), ended up with one winning candidate between them — the jailed peasant leader Akhil Gogoi who heads the RD.

Explained: What Frances McDormand’s Oscars triumph reveals — and conceals — about older women characters in Hollywood
Tue, Apr 27, 2021

Ageism persists in Hollywood. Visibility of prominent actors like McDormand may skew perceptions of other women and female characters over 40

Explained: Flushing a public toilet and Covid-19 risk
Mon, Apr 26, 2021

A new study has found that public restrooms can indeed be hotbeds for transmission of airborne diseases.

Explained: Are men more vulnerable to Covid? It’s not so simple when race is factored in
Fri, Apr 23, 2021

A new study has found that societal backgrounds play a greater role in disease outcomes than gender does.

Explained: Vaccine that targets multiple coronaviruses
Thu, Apr 29, 2021

The vaccine, created by Zeichner and Virgina Tech’s Dr Xiang-Jin Meng, targets a part of the virus’s spike protein called the fusion peptide.

Explained: 10 key reasons why coronavirus transmission is primarily airborne
Wed, May 05, 2021

A team of experts has looked at available research and published their assessment that there is strong, consistent evidence that the primary transmission route of SARS-CoV-2 is indeed airborne. What are the implications of the assessment?

Muon g–2: landmark study challenges rulebook of particle physics
Fri, Apr 09, 2021

The Standard Model is a rigorous theory that predicts the behaviour of the building blocks of the universe.

Explained: In cats and dogs, UK strain of coronavirus and a heart condition
Thu, Mar 25, 2021

It is not yet established if myocarditis, a heart condition, was caused by the coronavirus infection, although researchers have underlined the need for recognising the association.

In protecting the wearer, two masks can be better than one, scientists say
Tue, Jan 19, 2021

The scientists have recommended two masks rather than one in certain settings, and explained that a mask protects not only people around the wearer but also the wearer.

Explained: How zombie films may have prepared fans for the coronavirus pandemic
Sun, Jan 17, 2021

Fans of horror films showed less psychological distress during Covid-19, finds study, suggesting that the information we obtain from an imagined situation may serve us in analogous situations in the real world

Explained: Breathing rate and the risk of virus infection
Tue, Jan 12, 2021

Researchers have found that a lower breathing frequency — and holding one’s breath — increases the risk of virus-laden droplets reaching the deep lung.

Explained: How to measure aerosols with a particle counter, after accounting for dust
Tue, Dec 29, 2020

The concentration of aerosols in public spaces can give a measure of infection risk.

Explained: Seasonal UV radiation and global Covid-19 trends
Tue, Dec 22, 2020

The study compared various populations to themselves over time, and tested whether daily variations in UV radiation lead to changes in Covid-19 cases up to three weeks in the future.