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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Kabir Firaque


Kabir Firaque is a civil engineering graduate-turned-news journalist with an interest in recreational mathematics and cinema. His interactive blog on puzzles, ‘Problematics’, appears weekly.

Explained: In Assam, the identities within identities
Fri, Feb 14, 2020

Assam’s migration history gives additional context to dual identities — Assamese Hindu, Assamese Muslim, Bengali Hindu, Bengali Muslim.

Explained: The cinematography of 1917, and its defining ‘single take’ experience
Tue, Feb 11, 2020

By most accounts, the long take is a means to enhance viewer involvement with what is playing out on the screen, an experience that would have been interrupted if there were frequent cuts from one scene to another.

Explained: Why 98.6°F is no longer ‘normal’ for the body
Thu, Feb 06, 2020

Last month came the new study, published in the journal eLife, that concluded the average human body temperature has never been constant in the first place.

Explained: Step by step, how stress turns our hair grey
Tue, Jan 28, 2020

In a new study in the journal Nature, Harvard University researchers describe the mechanism that causes greying under stress. In short: stress activates certain nerves, which permanently damages stem cells that generate pigments in hair follicles.

Indian cobra genome decoded: how this knowledge can help fight snakebite
Thu, Jan 09, 2020

Accidental contact with snakes lead to over 100,000 deaths across the world every year. India alone accounts for about 50,000 deaths annually, and these are primarily attributed to the “big four”.

Explained: What is Citizenship Amendment Act?
Wed, Dec 25, 2019

The amendment to the Citizenship Act redefines the way migrants from three countries can become Indian citizens, linking this to their religion. What are the concerns about it nationwide, and why has it faced such fierce resistance in Assam? How does it relate to government’s plans for an all-India NRC?

Explained: Losing Nemo? His world is changing too fast for his genes to adapt
Sat, Nov 30, 2019

Clownfish typically live at the bottom of shallow seas in sheltered reefs or in shallow lagoons. It is this habitat that is under threat.

Donald Trump’s ‘Rocky’ tweet: what’s the occasion, is there a connection?
Fri, Nov 29, 2019

Running since 1976, the series is one of the most successful ever. Six Rocky films between 1976 and 2006 show the boxer fighting against various odds.

Explained — Fake ‘horns’ in the lab: will they save rhinos?
Sat, Nov 09, 2019

Study describes method to create fakes using horse hairs, rhino experts not convinced it can stop poaching

Explained: How long is a day on each planet? Venus and Saturn still tease scientists
Tue, Nov 05, 2019

Astronomers are still looking for an accurate assessment of the length of a day on Venus, while Saturn continues to deceive us. Two new studies underline how much there is still left to learn.

Explained: What is quantum supremacy?
Sat, Oct 26, 2019

Quantum supremacy is a milestone that has been long sought in computing, and now Google has announced it has reached it. A look at the science behind the concept, and what was really achieved and how much remains.

Explained: Why is there no mathematics Nobel? The theories, the facts, the myths
Wed, Oct 16, 2019

Researchers have looked for answers, and the generally accepted theory is that the idea of such a prize never occurred to Alfred Nobel.

The mysterious golden ratio: why is it everywhere, now in human skull?
Mon, Oct 14, 2019

The golden ratio appears in the work of artists and designers from Da Vinci to Corbusier, and also shows itself in nature in pineapple scales, rose petals and many more places.

What we know about the universe — the science behind Physics Nobel Prize
Wed, Oct 09, 2019

Canadian-American cosmologist James Peebles, 84, won one-half of the Prize for his theoretical work helping us understand how the universe evolved after the Big Bang.

Could Planet Nine be a black hole? A new theory, and the case around it
Sat, Oct 05, 2019

Over the years, scientists have sought to explain several puzzling aspects of the Solar System by attributing these to the influence of Planet Nine.

Politics after NRC threatens to change old framework of Assamese nationalism
Mon, Sep 23, 2019

In the wisdom of the 1980s, “Assamese first” was the identity we wore on our sleeve. A logician might find the idea questionable — each one of us was all his identities simultaneously — but what the phrase conveyed was tied with emotion.

Explained: How a 65-year-old maths problem was solved
Fri, Sep 20, 2019

An algorithm, a supercomputer, 2 mathematicians, unused power from 5 lakh home PCs: for ‘fun and philosophy’.

Identity Crises 
Sat, Aug 31, 2019

An important book that situates Assamese identity within the politics of its times, then and now

Explained: How to read leaked NRC data
Mon, Aug 12, 2019

Data released by Assam government caused a storm in Assembly but NRC process stays on schedule. What trends was the govt trying to highlight, and what is their demographic and political significance?

Explained: Can India really deport illegal immigrants after the final NRC list?
Sat, Aug 31, 2019

Assam NRC explained: The final NRC is scheduled on August 31. Those left out will have a series of options for appeal, which is a long haul. Only after that will the question of deportation come up, if at all.