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The Curious Wavefunction

The Curious Wavefunction


Musings on chemistry and the history and philosophy of science
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    Ashutosh Jogalekar Ashutosh (Ash) Jogalekar is a chemist interested in the history and philosophy of science. He considers science to be a seamless and all-encompassing part of the human experience. Follow on Twitter @curiouswavefn.
  • It’s the end of fundamental physics. Again.

    After Isaac Newton's discoveries of the laws of gravitation and motion, nothing comparable came out of science for more than a hundred years (Image: Wikipedia)

    Fellow Scientific American blogger John Horgan is at it again. This time he is heralding the end of fundamental physics based on the increasing time lag between Nobel Prizes awarded for fundamental discoveries. There’s actually a grain of truth in his analysis; for instance the prizes awarded for quantum mechanics in rapid succession in the [...]

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    Diversifiers of the world – Unite!

    Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.42.44 AM

    On my computer screen right now are two molecules. They are both large rings with about thirty atoms each, a motley mix of carbons, hydrogens, oxygens and nitrogens. In addition they have appendages of three or four atoms dangling off their periphery. The appendage in one of the rings has two more carbon atoms than [...]

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    Physics envy: The last emotion you ever want to feel

    BICEP2 Twilight

    This is a guest post by my friend Pinkesh Patel, a data scientist at Facebook. Pinkesh has a PhD in physics from Caltech during which he worked on LIGO, the gravitational wave detector. He then did research in computational biology at Stanford after which he moved to Facebook. Pinkesh is thus ideally poised to think [...]

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    The House of Representatives Committee on Science is turning into a national embarrassment

    A few days back I wrote a post explaining why I am all for private support of basic science, especially in an age when government funding and support is flagging. My feelings were simply reinforced when I came across this news piece documenting the shameful behavior of Republican members of the House Committee on Science, [...]

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    Are We Entering a Golden Era of Private Science Funding?

    Paul Allen is just one example of billionaires who are productively funding cutting-edge and important science (Image: Forbes)

    Last week, the BICEP2 experiment dropped a bombshell in the physics world by announcing potential evidence for gravitational waves from inflation as well as support for the quantization of gravity. The news was all over the place. What was less appreciated was the fact that BICEP2 was prominently funded by the Keck Foundation and the [...]

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    Why the new NIH guidelines for psychiatric drug testing worry me

    Chlorpromazine revolutionized the treatment of psychiatric disorders in the 50s. Since then there has been no comparable revolution (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

    Psychiatric drugs have always been a black box. The complexity of the brain has meant that most successful drugs for treating disorders like depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder were discovered by accident and trial and error rather than rational design. There have also been few truly novel classes of these drugs discovered since the 70s [...]

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    Evidence of cosmological inflation reveals how much we don’t know

    John F Kennedy eternal flame, Arlington National Cemetery.

    I was immersed in the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Dallas this week, which meant that I could not catch more than wisps of the thrilling announcement from cosmology on Monday that could potentially confirm the prediction of inflation. If this turns out to be right it would indeed be a landmark discovery. My [...]

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    Enthusiasm and promise at the ACS Dallas National Meeting

    Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.27.41 PM

    I am writing from the Dallas airport from where I am heading out back home after a fantastic national meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). This meeting was definitely the best of its kind I have attended until now, mainly because I had a generous invitation to give an invited talk on the impact [...]

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    Surprises in physics: From black bodies to the accelerating universe

    Max Planck's revolutionary that energy in the subatomic world exists as discrete packets marked the beginning of a century of spectacular surprises in physics (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

    Surprises rank high on the list of things that make science a source of everlasting delight. When it comes to being surprised scientists are no different from the general public. Just like children on their birthdays being surprised by unexpected gifts, scientists revel in the surprises that nature whips up in front of them. Surprises [...]

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    On the varieties of killing: Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Sixth Extinction”

    The Panamian golden frog is a species fighting for its survival (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

    Elizabeth Kolbert combines the sharp observational powers of a field biologist with the literary skill of a seasoned and thoughtful writer. In her previous book “Notes from a Field Catastrophe”, she travelled to far-flung parts of the globe to dig up stories on the deleterious effects of climate change. In her latest book she combines [...]

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