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A bewildered star gazer thrusting from distortion to discovery.

The science behind this extremely tender experience

All across the world, the womb is a space flooded with rich cultural imagination. As embodiments of cushioned motherly love or as temples of creation, wombs are enigmatic and venerated for us in equal measure. No matter how aware of the complex working of the prenatal chamber, millions of to-be parents are extremely eager for the first time their child moves in the womb. Even the feeblest of the kicks from within echo into an avalanche of feelings for the expecting parents. The kicks are a prominent physical realization of nestling a sentient being inside oneself, a monumental step on…


Courts called it “damage to property” and acquitted everyone

This horrendous crime took place aboard Zong, a cargo ship nurturing the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The vessel disembarked from Africa in 1781, carrying along at least 442 enslaved people. On their journey to colonial Jamaica, the captives had to endure a torturous three months on the sea. There would be trifling food rations and scant water supply, not to mention, the coffin-like arrangement to sleep.

Very often these damp vehicles would be havens for outbreaks, decimating the slave populations by the dozen. In short, the under-decks were carefully engineered purgatories, as if to accustom the inmates for the Inferno that…


How a few thousand emus prevailed over machine guns

At the beginning of the 20th century, Australia was a largely uninhabited continent. After the First World War, the government initiated an enormous resettlement program for veterans, allocating more than 90000 hectares of tillable land. As the demand for more land remained persistent, the remaining soldiers were allocated the less fertile land in Western Australia. The Great Depression of 1929 coincided with a drought, leaving the farmers on these marginal lands in dismal conditions.

Apart from making ends meet in meager returns and measly rations, the ex-soldiers had an extraordinary grievance. In 1932, a mob of about 20000 emus had…


It’s time to break an extremely prevalent false wall

Okay, I have a confession to make — I am an extremely fearful person. I am scared of almost everything from lizards to nuclear annihilation. As a person who spends a lot of time hoping that his fears don’t come true, I do occasionally wander off into the prayer territory. A strange sanctum beyond logic where I am literally begging the forces of the universe to be kind to me. Or as some religious people would put it, submitting myself to God. Now here’s the catch, despite succumbing to my fears from time to time, I do not identify as…


The science behind this seemingly pointless suicide

I sat at the tepid campfire, watching droves after droves of bugs scorch themselves in the flames. At first, it seemed like an everyday sight; then the realization struck. I wondered what inspired these insects to willingly douse themselves in the heat. After being sizzled by everything ranging from lanterns to LEDs, for thousands of generations, surely they should have learned better by now. And if they haven’t why hasn’t evolution subbed them out to other insects that do not display such a fervent romanticism for light. …


What a future atomic catastrophe actually looks like

Fear is the most primal emotion. Some are afraid of the heights; some are afraid of the sea. I am afraid of my parents opening my phone when I’m in the shower. And yes, for the better part of the previous century, some of us have been afraid of nuclear annihilation. For those who lived in the Cold War era, the fear is even more real. Even when most nuclear states have signed the NPT, we cannot simply ignore the chances of a mishap. In the near future, the world may see a ruthless dictator or a sloppy scientist (the…


I realized there’s a colossal difference between not caring and letting go

I would definitely not rate myself as a spiritual person. My attention span is horrible and I’d probably start snoring within the first five minutes of a philosophy class. Not to mention, I am prone to continuous bouts of gut-wrenching anxiety — a state where I overthink my already overcooked thoughts at least a million more times. Perhaps that’s why when the pandemic re-engulfed India this summer, I found myself completely unequipped to handle the mental toll of the crisis. After enduring sleepless nights of hospital visitations, I would be confronted by morning obituary columns, brimming with familiar faces. My…


Stop using obese actors to visually mark out antagonists

Rewatching Harry Potter never fails to flood my head with fresh epiphanies. There I sat glued to my screen, as Dudley helped himself to a delicious cake when the realization struck. Why did Dudley have to be an obese character? Sure, the plot needs him to be a bully but what has that got to do with his weight? As I thought more about it, a series of overweight antagonists swarmed before my eyes. From Gian Gouda from Doraemon to Pete in Mickey Mouse, not to mention, Little Mermaid’s Ursula, I begin to tug at a recurring pattern. Time and…


Odds are that you confuse these on a daily basis

As a non-native English speaker, I hardly spend a day without being bumped by the language. I am all too familiar with the embarrassment of being called out for using a word that didn’t mean what I thought it meant. Most of the time it gnaws at my confidence at others I can’t help but laugh at the confusion conjured by just a syllable out of place. Over the years, I have come to realize that this malapropism is not just limited to language learners. In fact, with the near-maddening mutations in the language on the internet, native speakers are…


Even in the 1960s, samples would be injected into live amphibians

All over the world, pregnancy tests are an emotionally charged event. Few other results can swing people across excitement, anxiety, astonishment, or paranoia, all just in a matter of seconds. Irrespective of why someone’s taking the test, the magnitude of the result can be extremely unsettling.

The tests would have been so much more daunting, had they entailed injecting urine samples in a frog and patiently waiting for it to lay eggs like they used to not so long ago. …

Shourya Agarwal

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