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Friday, July 31, 2020

Kabir Firaque

Associate Editor

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: What was the secret of Shakuntala Devi’s calculating abilities?
Fri, Jul 31, 2020

Shakuntala Devi, the subject of a new film, was never formally educated, and her performance in cognitive tests was not exceptional. How then could she multiply 13-digit numbers in seconds, and extract cube roots instantly?

Olivia de Havilland was the last of the greats of Hollywood’s Golden Age
Wed, Jul 29, 2020

Yes, we will always have the films. But the stars are mostly gone — with due respect to the few who remain, de Havilland was our strongest surviving link to the Golden Age. The era has truly ended.

In Covid year, why ‘unsung heroine of DNA’ Rosalind Franklin needs to be remembered for more
Sat, Jul 25, 2020

On her 100th birth anniversary, a look at Rosalind Franklin's DNA image that helped three men win the Nobel, and her research on viruses and coal

Explained: How ‘corona’ of the virus changes into a hairpin shape — and why
Sat, Jul 25, 2020

Freeze frames of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein show dramatic change of shape after it fuses with a human cell. Scientists suggest it may help distract our immune system; findings may matter in vaccine development

Explained: Cough droplets travel longer when it’s cold & humid–new Covid model
Wed, Jul 22, 2020

The researchers describe a new mathematical model that they say can be used to predict the early spread of respiratory viruses including Covid-19, and the role of respiratory droplets in that spread.

The legacy of C S Seshadri, mathematician, researcher and educator
Tue, Jul 21, 2020

Among C S Seshadri's key contributions, the founding of Chennai Mathematical Institute and breakthrough research in algebraic geometry

Explained: How we know mosquitoes cannot spread coronavirus
Mon, Jul 20, 2020

In clinching evidence, scientists demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 is unable to replicate in mosquitoes even when they are injected with it

Explained: Why world population is projected to peak early and shrink soon after
Sat, Jul 18, 2020

The paper suggests that continued trends in female educational attainment and access to contraception will hasten declines in fertility and slow population growth.

Jurassic Park’s venom-spitting Dilophosaurus was fiction. What did it really look like?
Mon, Jul 13, 2020

New study provides a detailed picture of a monster dinosaur that had much in common with birds. A look at the history of its discovery, and how new findings differ from previous depictions.

Explained: How stars provided the carbon that makes life possible
Fri, Jul 10, 2020

When a star dies, it releases various elements including carbon into the surroundings. New study on white dwarfs sets size limits for the stars that enriched the Milky Way with carbon

Explained: For arresting cough particles, mask shape and material matter
Wed, Jul 08, 2020

What kind of masks works best, given that not everyone has access to an N-95? What material, and what shape can best arrest droplets from the mouth, and the smallest particles (aerosols)?

Explained: A new calculation to find out your dog’s age in human years
Sat, Jul 11, 2020

Do not multiply your dog’s age by 7, a thumb rule that researchers describe as a myth. In new formula, they track patterns in the genome over time, and show how a dog’s age corresponds to a human's age.

Explained: Can a handheld device kill virus with UV light?
Mon, Jun 22, 2020

Ultraviolet radiation in the 200-300 nanometre range is known to destroy the virus, making it incapable of reproducing and infecting, according to Pennsylvania State University, which was involved in the new research.

Explained: Why do some Covid-19 patients lose their sense of smell?
Sat, Jun 13, 2020

Health Ministry has added it to the list of Covid-19 symptoms. But what is it about the novel coronavirus that causes some patients to lose their sense of smell? A look at recent research.

Explained: Why risk of virus transmission in an aircraft is seen as low
Wed, May 27, 2020

Studies over the years have sought to quantify the infection risk. Here, we look at two recent ones — neither study, however, looks specifically at the coronavirus pandemic.

Explained: In pregnant women with Covid-19, injuries in placenta
Wed, May 27, 2020

A new concern has emerged around pregnant women who have Covid-19 — damaged placentas.

New Research: Two antibodies from SARS survivors, and how they react to new coronavirus
Thu, May 21, 2020

One antibody, called S309, taken from a SARS survivor from 2003, has been shown in the lab to neutralise SARS-CoV-2. The results were reported in Nature this week.

New Research: Why does age make it more difficult to fight Covid-19?
Thu, May 21, 2020

A group of molecules that should be fighting the virus are diminished with age and chronic health problems, researchers report in the journal Aging and Disease.

Explained: A new species discovered on Twitter, named after Twitter
Sat, May 16, 2020

Meet Troglomyces twitteri, a fungus spotted on a Twitter image by a Denmark biologist. What is this species, and what is its relationship with millipedes?

Cleaner China air saved more lives than Covid claimed, study finds
Sat, May 16, 2020

How many lives have been saved as a result of reduced pollution? Here's what a new study has found in China.

Cats can infect cats with Covid, without symptoms: unpacking a new study
Sat, May 16, 2020

The fact that cats can get infected by the coronavirus has been known for some time now; what do the latest findings add to existing knowledge?

Explaind: Why Florence Nightingale matters today, how Covid-19 outbreak threatens her legacy
Tue, May 12, 2020

From her stress on handwashing to the use of data to assess healthcare outcomes, the battle against the pandemic is a constant reminder of her work. Yet the same pandemic threatens to shut down a museum dedicated to her.

Does nicotine help fight COVID-19? The science behind a novel hypothesis
Tue, May 05, 2020

Researchers in France have put forward a hypothesis that the presence of nicotine actually equips the body to fight COVID-19.

Explained: How remdesivir tricks coronavirus
Sat, May 09, 2020

Remdesivir is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the virus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves.

Explained: What coronavirus ‘copy machine’ looks like
Sat, May 02, 2020

Researchers have reported that they have determined the 3D structure of this “copy machine”. This makes it possible to investigate how drugs such as remdesivir work, they note.

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