Author: Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad

No Monkey Business: So What if Humans Share 98.6% of Genetic Materials with Chimpanzees!

If chimpanzees and humans share 98.6 percent of their genetic material, then doesn’t it follow that there ought to be an extraordinarily high degree of mental similarity as well? In fact, the more we compare humans and chimpanzees, the more the differences are becoming apparent. Even geneticists are starting to catch up with the reality […]

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Rousseau: A Citizen of Geneva and a Truest Cosmopolitan

Rousseau was not shy about his disdain for cosmopolitanism. In his political treatise, The Social Contract, he identified the cosmopolitan as a person who “pretended to love the whole world in order to have the right to love no one.” At the beginning of his pedagogical treatise, Emile, he placed a similarly cutting remark. Later […]

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The Physics of Sound and the Dynamics of Hearing

Evolution has fostered an active process whose performance approaches the limits set by the physics of sound. The ear’s intrinsic amplifier additionally tunes our responsiveness to specific frequencies of sound, thus facilitating the recognition of sound sources and the discrimination of speech. The active process also allows us to analyse acoustic signals over a million-fold […]

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Why the Hullabaloo about Beef Consumption and Religious Identity in India?

The underlying reason, of course, is that it is easier to stick to ritualistic beliefs to cement the postulates of our identities rather than make a sincere endeavour to make a personal analysis of the philosophical edifices on which a religious identity stands. Beef consumption has succeeded in polarising the entire discourse. Nearly half a […]

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Scientific Revolutions: How Genes Respond to Changes in Earth, Moon, and Mars – III

Mechanical issues – flow and sheer over cellular surfaces–are known to influence genes that are important to human health. The cells that line the surfaces of blood vessels play crucial roles in lethal disorders – for example, in aneurysms – and particular genes in these cells have been known for some while to change their […]

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Scientific Revolutions: Exploring the Connections between Causation and Probability – II

The connections between causation, probability, and network representations suggested that with appropriate assumptions and background knowledge, something about the causal structure can be learned from observation, and the outcomes of some ideal interventions can be predicted. In the second part of the three-part series on the subject, Ashoka gives us unique insight into scientific revolutions, […]

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Scientific Revolutions: Role of Modern Computers and New Methods – I

Thanks to innovations in computer software, in laboratory techniques, and in observational technology, scientists today can measure things on a scale inconceivable only a few years ago. New laboratory and computational methods allow evaluation of vast numbers of hypotheses in order to identify those few that have a reasonable chance of being true, and simple […]

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Interface of Science and Democracy: From the Perspective of a Scientist – II

Nineteenth-century American interpreters of science offered a narrowly empirical reading based on the work of Francis Bacon, as filtered through the writings of the Scottish common-sense realists. But to the scientific democrats it was abundantly clear that morally normative facts were not simply strewn about the landscape to be collected and assembled by any frontiersman. Abandoning […]

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Is Undeclared War Worse than a Declared One!

Pakistan has flouted every norm of decency in its dealings with India. It has no compunctions allowing terrorism in India to be planned on its soil. It has absolutely no inhibitions about affording state protection to the most rabid believers of ‘jihad’. It is pointless to expect the religious-military establishment to even contemplate peace with […]

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Interface of Science and Democracy: A Perspective of the Scientist – I

The science wars express something more than a substantive debate over epistemological issues, and something deeper than a dispute over academic status. What we are witnessing is a new chapter in an ongoing struggle over the meaning of modern science. Here’s Ashoka’s erudite and in-depth analysis of the subject, in two parts, in the weekly […]

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