Life — Painting by Katayun Taraporevala

Greetings! My name is Kai Taraporevala.

Bio

  • What — As a student, I studied physics (I.I.T. New Delhi), materials science (University of Dundee), and general management (INSEAD — Fontainebleau)…


A Sci-Fi Look at 2135 and the 38th Rugby World Cup

Image by ALBERTO H. FABREGAS from Pixabay

The Red team players had fire and smoke coming out of their nostrils. It was 15 seconds to the final whistle. A scrum had been called 5 meters from the Black team line. One point ahead, the Red players waited in anticipation, the entire side up forward for their triumphant, final, pushover try.

The Blacks’ Chief Strategist had asked for a last-minute substitution, and the game halted for the new player, the untested no 9, GEd, to get on the field. A highly controversial selection, GEd had not played a single minute so far in the World Cup. …


The Story of the Awakening of Consciousness

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Thinking Tools — Becoming Conscious

Helen Keller was born a healthy baby on 27 July 1880. When she was nineteen months old, an unknown illness made her deaf and blind. The next five years were full of frustrations. Helen wrote that she could not “truly remember emotions [but] had tactual memory of shedding tears, screaming, kicking, and other acts which indicate feeling. Yet in no case can I recall emotions as such.”

When Helen was seven years old, an extraordinary twenty-one-year-old, half-blind teacher, Anne Sullivan, came to live with Helen and her family. Anne gradually taught Helen to read, write and talk. Most importantly, she…


The story of just and unjust leaders

Image by RENE RAUSCHENBERGER from Pixabay

The following is a conversation on Napoleon Bonaparte I (KT) had the pleasure of having with Professor Ludo Van der Heyden, the INSEAD Professor of Corporate Governance. Professor Van der Heyden (LVH) has written extensively on Napoleon. Through this article, he is kindly sharing his deep insights and knowledge with readers on the internet.

The Young Napoleon


Lessons from the story of Trofim Lysenko

Image by beate bachmann from Pixabay

In a recent special report for the Council on Foreign Relations, Robert D. Blackwill and Philip Zelikow describe the contours of a deepening conflict between the US and China (The Council on Foreign Relations Special Report №90, February 2021, “The United States, China, and Taiwan: A Strategy to Prevent War by Robert D. Blackwill and Philip Zelikow).


The Story of the Choices We Make

Image by chenspec from Pixabay

A modern view of the Mechanics of Choices

Amos Tversky, a mathematical psychologist, and Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist and economist, did seminal work on how we make choices. Before their work, psychologists mostly came up with stories on human behavior that had a scant experimental basis. On the other hand, economists held rigidly to the belief that humans make rational, calculated decisions to maximize their utility.

Tversky and Kahneman invented several interesting experiments that showed that humans were reliably biased towards making decisions in a particular manner that was often not consistent with the maximization of utility.

There is now a large amount of work done, based on…


The Story of Pons and Fleischmann

Image by holdentrils from Pixabay

The challenges of experimentation

In any effort to gain deeper insights into the universe, create new technologies or shape the future one has to have a firm understanding of experimentation. Richard Feynman wrote that the “principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific “truth”.”

Feynman was able to explain the most complex of issues. His energy and wisdom have benefited so many of us, and he pointed out how easy it is to get mislaid. …


The story of reliability and the binomial distribution

Thanks to Simon on Unsplash & Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

A Definition of Stupidity

Carlo M. Cipolla defines a stupid person as one “who causes losses to another person or a group of persons while himself [or herself] deriving no gain or even possibly incurring losses.”

Most of our stupidities result in “local” harms to ourselves and a few others. We can thus be forgiven for these mistakes. Indeed, the mistakes we have made as a human species, when “local,” can partly be forgiven by the fact that our large rational-thought-capable brains have only recently evolved.

The Homo genus (encompassing Homo sapiens, Neanderthals, Denisovans, Homo erectus, Homo habilis, amongst other species) is just 2…


The Story of the Universe in Powers of Ten

Three superb books that give us a perspective of the vastness of space-time from the smallest particles and minutest of time intervals to the immensity of the cosmos.

From Plato’s Cave into the Wide Open

In the ‘Allegory of the Cave’ Plato describes how prisoners are chained together at the back of a dark cave. They thus believe the world is all darkness with fleeting shadows. It is only when one prisoner becomes free and escapes outside the cave that the prisoner realizes the world’s enormity and beauty.


The story of the Maginot Line

Image by conner from Pixabay

A key feature of World War I (28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918) was the tragic perfecting of trench warfare. In trench warfare opposing sides dig long lines of trenches from which they face their enemies and periodically launch attacks. Trench warfare had been used in earlier wars, in particular the American Civil war. However, it had never been used in such scale and with so much ferocity as during WWI. In WWI, millions of soldiers faced each other across trenches that stretched from the North Sea in the west to France’s border with Switzerland east. …

Kai Taraporevala

Search for an understanding of the universe. The roads I am travelling: the scientific method, science, mathematics, humanism, the arts, music and kindness.

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