Water: The Elixir of Life

The tiny molecule that wears many hats inside our body   A memory brings a smile as I gulp down water to quench my thirst. School, science class, and tiny desks. Our teacher was explaining to us that “water is colourless, odourless, and tasteless.” “But miss, I can taste water!” one of my classmates piped […]

Children of the Soil

The soil under our feet is teeming with life, and understanding and nurturing it has a positive impact on our lives   A memory. My friend and I followed the ball as it bounced towards the pit in the backyard. Heat wafted up, and the air was saturated with a warm, earthy smell that wasn’t […]

Soil Sleuths

Geotechnical engineers, who investigate soils and their properties, play an important and sometimes overlooked role in civil engineering   A vacation on a Spanish beach in the 1960s sparked a revolution in the construction industry. French engineer Henri Vidal was piling up sand to build a sand castle when he realised that no matter how […]

Charting a Course to Net Zero

Several researchers at IISc are working on technological solutions to tackle some of the causes of climate-induced disasters, and reduce carbon emissions   A sizzling heatwave across North India, prolonged power outages, and 20 million dead. Fortunately, this is a work of fiction, the setting in the first chapter of The Ministry for the Future, […]

Rodents to the Rescue

The small mouse has enabled giant leaps in biology research   Claudius Galen (129-199 CE), a prominent physician in ancient Greece, obsessively studied anatomy – the science of how our bodies are structured and how our organs function. Since the ruling Roman government prohibited working with human cadavers, he dissected animals instead, to gain knowledge. […]

The ‘I’ in Team

Self-organisation is the emergence of order in an initially disordered system and is observed from microscopic to astronomical levels   Spiral galaxies. Honey bees. Proteus mirabilis, the urinary-tract-infection-causing bacteria. What do they all have in common? A phenomenon called self-organisation. It transcends scale – from the formation of galaxies to the arrangement of lipids in […]

Expanding the Material-verse

Researchers at IISc are using novel technologies to add to existing materials and to understand material properties   About 2.5 million years ago, our ancestors discovered that striking two pieces of rock against each other produces rough edges and stone chips that could be used to break animal bones and scoop flesh off carcasses. And […]

To Boldly See What No One Has Seen Before

From simple combinations of lenses, microscopes have evolved into complex tools giving us unparalleled insight into cellular secrets   January 1665 saw the publication of Robert Hooke’s Micrographia. The beautiful illustrations of fleas, flies and other insects in it gave humanity an insight into the sheer beauty of the hitherto unobserved world of small creatures. […]

Brick by Brick

A behind-the-scenes look at the transformation of an empty space into a full-fledged research lab   Setting up a new lab can be an exhilarating episode in the career of a faculty member. But it can also be a long and arduous journey, one that needs fellow travellers — often this caravan includes graduate students, […]