I’d like to wish a Happy and Successful New Year to all readers, whether you be regular, occasional or first time visitors! In a very short time, you’ve all helped make this blog into a pleasant, informative, and fun place to visit (certainly for me).
I’d hoped that this could be -and it has indeed become, with your help- a place that Continue reading ‘Happy New Year!’
The Bad Astronomy Blog gives a top ten list of astronomy images for 2006. There are some really wonderful choices there, and Phil Plait gives a good deal of discussion of each one. The winner is this fantastic back-lit (by the sun, not some giant NASA flashgun) image of Saturn taken -of course- by the Cassini mission:
Now there’s another wonderful feature of this photo that makes it such a clear winner. Continue reading ‘A Different Perspective’
This is a diagram of the layout of the equipment on the Corot (COnvection, ROtation and planetary Transits) space telescope, launched recently from a site in Kazakhstan.
It’s a European Space Agency (ESA) mission, primarily run by the Centre National dâ€™Etudes Spatiales (CNES – the French Space Agency, if you will) and it’s going to be looking closely at about 120,000 stars for signs of planetary bodies in orbit around them, in addition to studying the stars themselves. There’s a BBC story here, with video, more figured and images, and links to other sites, such as this condensed mission guide. The Proteus platform in the diagram refers to that fact that this is but one of a series of craft in the “Proteus” series, the platform itself being the design of the core containing the instrumentation and control systems of the device. Learn more about that here.
By going over to ESA’s site, you can learn a lot more about the scientific objectives Continue reading ‘Planet Hunter’
No, probably not, but we are probably in for a battle. The FDA is said to be about to announce the approval of using cloned animals for food. The announcement will be on Thursday, but there are several news reports about it already. Here is a link to an AP article written by Libby Quaid. (I also borrowed from that article the picture -left, by Chris Gardner- of cloned dairy cows Cyagra1 and Genesis.)
What will the battle be about? Well, Let’s get the fear-mongering (that opponents of this announcement will use to their advantage) out of the way first. If these were indeed clones in the purest sense of the word, produced in unquestionable circumstances, in an industry that did not already have several unsettling and dysfunctional features to it (see for example here) then there would be no issue. The bottom line is that we should be no more scared of clones than we should be of twins.
But it is not that simple. According to the article to which I pointed, here are claims -backed up with documentation- (I have not read the research, so am merely reporting that it exists) that the cloned animals are not produced in a manner that would be acceptable for the production of animals by other means -there are still many deaths and deformities in the process, and these birth defects are still not fully understood.
Carol Tucker Foreman, director of food policy at the Consumer Federation of America, said the FDA is ignoring research that shows cloning results in more deaths and deformed animals than other reproductive technologies.
The consumer federation will ask food companies and supermarkets to refuse to sell food from clones, she said.
“Meat and milk from cloned animals have no benefit for consumers, and consumers don’t want them in their foods,” Foreman said.
That alone might not be so terrible, you’re thinking, but the big thing (to Continue reading ‘Attack of the Clones?’
Good News Everyone!
On Tuesday a box arrived in the post. What did it contain? New tyres (or is it tires?) for the Brompton!
I ordered them as a well-earned present for the bike, for all the hard work put in Continue reading ‘A Christmas Present For The B!’
One sees them a lot around here, given the town I’m in, but that’s not what I’m talking about.
There’s a Spitzer telescope press release about the possible discovery of the most early stars detected to date. These would be the very first stars to have formed in the universe. Remembering that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, pause for a moment to be impressed by the claim of Kashlinsky, Arendt, Mather and Moseley that these stars appeared less than a billion years after the big bang. You should also read some discussion in John Baez’ recent post. [Update: See remarks from Ned Wright at the end of this post.]
The new milestone on the timeline of the universe’s history, if this is correct, would look roughly as in this image (from the press release):
Extraordinary claims (like this one) require extraordinary evidence, and so there’ll no Continue reading ‘Really Old Stars?’
Oh, man ! Right now I’m seriously jammin’ along to NPR’s Fresh Air. Why? It is a retrospective on James Brown (you’ve heard the news, I imagine). Terry Gross (the show’s presenter) has lined up a 2005 interview with him, and also has cut in interviews with Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, etc. It’s all about his music’s history – the influences, the influenced, the ideas, the groove, the politics, the movement, the Movement, and so much more.
If you’ve not listened to James Brown’s music before, this is a good chance to learn what it’s all about. (Image right from concertshots.com.)
Whatever you’re doing, Get Up Offa That Thing and download now and get your groove on!
Read about the long lost history of Thermodynamics over at Lounge of the Lab Lemming. There you’ll find out about the 19th Century Boy Band Heat Engine, whose original membership was:
- Rudolf Clausius: bass
- Emile Clapeyron: percussion
- Sadi Carnot: vocals
- Hermann Helmholtz: calorimeter
… and much much more.
In this history, the laws of thermodynamics were motivated by the same old thing that motivates so many things, it seems: Attracting the opposite sex. Why am I not surprised?
(Note: It is a (mostly) funny riff starting as a dig (or at least I interpret it as such) at the implication made by a ScienceBlogs blogger during an earlier blogfight that his Continue reading ‘Heat Engine – The Original Hot Boy Band’
Young1 Bee does it again, this time with an excellent post entitled “Anomalous Alignments in the Cosmic Microwave Background”. You’ve heard a huge amount about the success of modern precision cosmology, driven so muchn in recent times by the extraordinary data from the Cosmic Microwave Background measured by experiments such as WMAP. Well, there are some very interesting anomalies in the CMB data that have yet to be properly understood, and Bee discusses them in her post. I’ll do no more than send you over there to read it and join in the discussion if you wish. Nothing wrong with a bit of Cosmology conversation during the holidays.
1Just trying to help, in case you’re wondering. See the first paragraphs of her post.
Some Winter gifts from the garden:
Well, I hope that you’re having an excellent (and, especially, peaceful) Holiday season. Here are the two top images that have been produced so far by readers in the LaTeX Holiday Challenge, using the recently installed LaTeX/mimeTeX machine (feel free to keep them coming):
The first, a stylized Christmas tree, is by acornellian…
Commenter acornellian was our first contributor to the challenge, and promptly put this tree together, complete with two decorative ornaments. Excellent! Not as easy to do this as it looks, it has to be said. It has a simple but striking final effect, and it’s pleasing in proportion. Thanks acornelian!
The next one is by Carl Brannen:
It’s a Star of David ornament on a branch of a Christmas Tree. Wow! It’s pretty impressive, isn’t it, given the LaTeX commands needed to be issued to produce all that detail. Thanks Carl!
Holiday Best Wishes to All Readers!
…say it isn’t so…
Sad news this Christmas Day. James Brown died this morning. I’ve seen two obituaries up so far, an Associated Press one, and one at the BBC. (Image left from Getty images.) No doubt there’ll be a lot more news and obituaries through the day.
He goes from being a Living Legend to …a Legend. He laid the foundations for so very much of the music we hear all around us. Gotta go dig out some of his music and shake myself up!
No, the title is not part of an alternative version of that Christmas song that cumulatively lists things (whatever it is called). It is really that I spotted the display of the entries in something that looked like the aftermath of a gingerbread house bake-off. This was at the Kitchen Academy, the chef’s school next door to the Arclight.
Here are some more pictures, including the top three places, and then I have a question for you:
Continue reading ‘Seven Gingerbread Houses’
Well, sort of.
I could not resist:
These are the kittens of Copy Cat, the cat that was cloned back in 2001/2 at Texas A&M. They’re lovely. They were produced the old-fashioned way with a father who Continue reading ‘Copy Cat Copied’
To add to the seasonal mood, I thought I’d point out that there’s a virgin birth about to happen any day now. Maybe even Monday. Fingers crossed. And tail, if you have one. What am I talking about?
Here’s Flora, a proud-looking mum if I’ve ever seen one:
She’s a Komodo Dragon. She lives in Chester Zoo in England. In May, she laid several Continue reading ‘Parthenogenesis’
Well, there was something I could not tell you about before that I now can. There’s a new TV show called “Wired Science” about to launch. It is made by the PBS affiliate KCET, and will air on your local PBS station (on Wednesday, January 03, 2007, 8:00-9:00 pm ET/PT – double check for local times). It looks like it is going to be informative and fun!
Here’s some of their blurb from the press release:
WIRED SCIENCE is a one-hour program that translates Wired magazineâ€™s award-winning journalism into a fast-paced television show. WIRED SCIENCE brings Wired magazineâ€™s cutting-edge vision, stylish design and irreverent attitude to the screen with breakout ideas, recent discoveries and the latest innovations. The pilot episode takes the viewer into the world of meteorite hunters, where space, commerce and art intersect; travels to Yellowstone National Park to harvest viruses that may hold the key to a technology revolution; and dives underwater to explore NEEMO, NASAâ€™s extreme astronaut training program. Viewers will meet rocket-belt inventors, stem cell explorers and the developer of an electric car that goes from zero-to-60 in under four seconds. As a series, WIRED SCIENCE hopes to span the globe to uncover novel developments in biomedicine, space exploration, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, robotics and military technology.
And you can go to the site to see stills from some of the location work they did in making the show, and some of the studio work too. You can go to this Wired blog post to see the rather nice title sequence of the show, and the teaser trailer. To the right, there’s a screen shot I made just now (click for larger).
I don’t think that they have the go ahead to make a full series yet. This is a pilot. I imagine that whether they get the full series go ahead depends upon whether it is well liked and supported by you, the viewer. I’d say support it. the people behind it really care about getting good science programming out to you.
So what’s the big deal? Why did I not tell you about it if I’ve known about it for so long? Well, nobody told me not to tell you, but it seemed the right thing to do. You see, I have a little secret. How do I put this? I’m going to get so beaten up in the playground for this.
Continue reading ‘Tales From The Industry X – Wired Science’
Well, we all had so much fun the other day with the fairground ride that was the newly installed LaTeX capability of the blog -something electric about not knowing if it will work until you hit “submit”- that I thought I’d encourage some more fun, to help out on a quiet holiday weekend.
So here’s the mission/challenge. You must use LaTeX commands to create a Holiday-themed design. It can be an equation, or it can be a fully fledged diagram drawn with LaTeX-picture-drawing skills by those of you who are extremely clever and patient enough. Recall the impressive example from Carl Brannen that kept us on the edge of our seats? I reproduce it at the left (click for larger). You can see how he did it in the comment thread of the earlier post. (Also, mouse-hover over the image of any of the equations there and you will see the LaTeX code they used.)
So yes, if you can conjure up a Christmas tree or a Hanukkah menora, we’ll all be impressed, and you’ll probably win all our admiration… and as a prize I’ll probably single it out for special attention in a later post! So there’s some competition-style incentive, if you needed it.
Of course, equations will do too – the cleverer the better.
As long as it has a “Holiday Theme”, ok?
The Rules:- You get two comment posts in the thread of this post per entry. Other Continue reading ‘LaTeX Holiday Fun!’
I was tagged by IP to do this. That’s all I’m saying on the matter.
- Grab the book closest to you.
- Open to page 123, go down to the fifth sentence.
- Post the text of next 3 sentences on your blog.
- Name of the book and the author.
- Tag three people.
So here goes:
Continue reading ‘Tagged’
Time to talk briefly about other uses of blogging. Some time ago I spoke about the idea of using blogging as a sharper tool for exchanging and even developing research ideas. The conversation about the suggestion degenerated into vapour, at some point, and having floated the idea and learned from the conversation, I left it alone. In public at least.
In private, I continued. The fact is that I have other blogs on the go. I’d like to tell you about one of them, since it might be a useful tool for you too. The way I use it is simple. I run my “lab” with it. It’s my virtual lab-space. I have about five students working with me, and a million and one projects, and not enough hours in the day. The students all are working on several projects with me, with each other, and alone…. but all under the umbrella of being part of my little “subgroup” of the larger high energy theory group here at USC. I want us all to have conversations, point at new papers, throw out ideas, show partial computations to each other (and definitely to me) for comment, share drafts of papers with each other, etc.
So far so standard. Normally, this is all done with emails back and forth, one on one conversations, etc. Sometimes those conversations can be supplemented by one or other person from the group (me, or anyone else) dropping in and setting the whole thing straight with a comment. Sure, you can do this with email in the “reply-to-all” mode, but….
A blog is the perfect tool for making this all work seamlessly. On the “cvjlab” blog Continue reading ‘Research Blogging’
Well, ok, it is working well out in the field. (See here for what I’m talking about.)
Keys started out a little sticky, but are loosening up with use. Good. Ok, here’s a secret: I admit to feeling a little (just a little) smug among the group of people sitting here, ‘cos you see they’re all the same – all five of them, in one tiny cafe – with their normally individual and cool-looking macbooks (it’s one of those ‘hoods), now looking unneccessarily big, heavy and clunky in comparison.
Ok, I’ll stop being annoying. It was just a smug moment, and now it has passed. Here’s the setup in the field:
Continue reading ‘Field Testing’
While we’re on the subject of women in science, some other news*:
Well, they’ve done it! Some of the women – Anna and Anne – who run InkyCircus (Life in the Girl Nerd World) have done what they said they’d set out to do a while back – they’ve started a science magazine. Congratulations Anna and Anne!
It is called Inkling (…on the Hunch that Science Rocks), and here’s the banner (I hope they don’t mind me linking it for advertising purposes):
(As far as I can tell it is entirely online, and has no print counterpart. I could be wrong. (Insert ironic jokes riffing on their use of “Ink” here and elsewhere.) There’s nothing wrong with not having a print counterpart, of course, I’m just wondering out loud if they intend to have one in the future.)
I have not had a good look yet, so I won’t do a wild excited rant like I did for the newly Continue reading ‘Inkling’
Cornelia Dean has written a very interesting article for the New York Times about the things people are doing to change the current situation concerning the underrepresentation of Women in Science in academia. It continues on from the discussion we were having after the September release of the report by the National Academy of Science on the issue.
The key point under discussion? From the article:
Since the 1970s, women have surged into science and engineering classes in larger and larger numbers, even at top-tier institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where half the undergraduate science majors and more than a third of the engineering students are women. Half of the nationâ€™s medical students are women, and for decades the numbers have been rising similarly in disciplines like biology and mathematics.
Yet studies show that women in science still routinely receive less research support than their male colleagues, and they have not reached the top academic ranks in numbers anything like their growing presence would suggest.
In fact, it is only in the social, behavioral or life sciences that the proportion of women full professors has risen into double digits – 15 percent or so. Something goes wrong. What is it?
at each step on the academic ladder, more women than men leave science and engineering.
The current article reports on a number of gatherings on various campuses – conferences organised to network, share, and brainstorm a bit on the issue. There are interviews with several people, and experiences and anecdotes are shared. Very much worth your time to read. Discussed are a wide range of topics, the most central being that it is still the case that women are judged by different standards than men. Even though often times it might seem to be something as simple as what to wear to a meeting – it makes a difference. These things all add up. Other things mentioned are the two-body problem, mentoring, letters of recommendation, children and motherhood, and negotiating skills, among others.
I’ll let you read the article, but do come back and let us know what you think. We’ve been through a lot of this discussion before, so one aspect I’d like to hear about is the following: What are you doing about the issue in your own sphere of influence? Are Continue reading ‘Women in Science – What to Do Next?’
When I first came to the USA, I recall being scared and shocked upon going to the hobbies section of a magazine shop and seeing all the different gun magazines. Come to think of it, it still scares me a bit, but I suppose I’m used to it – cultural differences and all that. Today I found something I’d not noticed before in the magazine section of Borders at Sunset and Vine that scares and shocks me a bit. I’m not sure I should just leave it at cultural differences. It seems more like a problem, to me. Let me see if it jumps out at you:
Is it just me, or is one of these magazines scarily out of place?* (Click for larger).
Continue reading ‘Odd One Out?’
Lots of shopping today. Among the places I went to was Fry’s Electronics. The particular one I went to is always fun since it has an aliens theme. They don’t do the theme in a subtle way…. it is all over the shop…. it starts with the big alien spaceship that has crashed into the front:
…and all through the shop there are little aliens in the rafters, and on the ground you have members of the military shooting up at them….it is the middle of a big battle you see (the military jeep has been cut in half by a ray gun of some sort – was not able to get pictures without risking my place in the 45 minute-long (!) checkout line….).
I go to Fry’s Electonics for actual electronic components. It is in fact quite good for that sort of thing, and is a welcome break from the Radio Shacks of this world, which used Continue reading ‘Sunday at the Shops’
Spotted in Griffith Park on a quick hike:
I’m thinking that this is a variety of bindweed (but see below*). I’m not sure though. Thoughts anyone? (Convolvulus sepium, that is.) Bindweed is a sort of wild morning glory, and this really Continue reading ‘White’
Well, yesterday I handed in my grade sheets for my courses, so I’ve finished all undergraduate teaching duties for the calendar year! Time now to turn to all those things that have been piling up waiting to be done. Eventually, this will mean research, but in between there are various tasks, from writing letters of recommendation to reviewing grants, fellowship applications, and more.
Mostly, I just want to disappear for a while. Leave the planet for a bit and go walkabout, like I did last year’s holiday season. That might happen, but I have to be partly available for a little while for a number of duties. Either way, I need to get out of the old mode, and into the more contemplative one. In order to begin the resetting, I decided to hide away from campus entirely and in the afternoon visit one of my other offices… the beach.
I had some errands to run out in Santa Monica, such as picking up my boots from that great boot repair place (where I’d dropped them off to get stretched a bit… the miracle repair I told you about before had resulted in them a bit stiff and slightly tighter on the slopes, and so I thought I’d try a stretching of a few days), and so this fit well. I figured I’d just stay there until the evening.
I have a love-hate relationship with Santa Monica. It sometimes annoys me a lot, and seems to be a place that is so squeaky clean that all the flavour of real life has been drained out of it, to be replaced by mostly smugness…. but at other times, I’m very happy with it, since it has a number of gems that I like a lot.
If the truth be told, one of the main reasons that I like to go over there is the tarts. Continue reading ‘Out West’
For those who know what these refer to*:
…go here to enjoy more!
Continue reading ‘BattleSimpsons’
Yes, in other words, tonight and tomorrow night are the maximum event rates for the Geminids, the meteor shower that originates from the direction of the constellation Gemini. From Gary Kronk’s site, I borrowed this diagram that shows roughly where to look:
So as you can see, you’re popping out to look in a Easterly direction, more or less, and after about 9:00pm you should get some results. There’s some more information here at this site.
You’ll recall from a number of earlier posts on meteor showers that I’ve mentioned that they are caused by the Earth passing through the debris field of a comet. The Geminids are somewhat different. Well, yes and no. They are actually passing through Continue reading ‘Twin Peaks’
This is a test of LaTeX on the site*.
The first equation I shall try is the following (for more on unpacking this equation and its meaning, see this post and links therein):
Yay! It works. I have implemented it in the comments too. So now we can have a new, sharper tool for our discussions and arguments.
Continue reading ‘LaTeX Spoken Here!’
Ok, I know that in a post a while ago I said:
I donâ€™t know about you but I melt each of the (very few these days) times I receive a real letter, by post…
So you’d think I’d be delighted with this pile (it is more than three layers deep – and I’ll get at least this many again over the next month or so):
Well, yes and no. What are they?
Continue reading ‘How To Make It Stop?’
I was looking over at Bee’s tasty Kokosmakronen (macaroon) post earlier and spotted a picture of her Perimeter Institute mug. I have one of those also, given to me as my thanks for giving some lectures on string theory to some graduate students there last year.
What I wondered at the time was whether they stopped making the mugs from the good ol’ days of Perimeter. Back when they were housed in that lovely funky building with the interaction room that also contained a pool table, disco ball, industrial coffee maker, and fully stocked open bar. Yep. Those were the good times…way back in 2001/2002 I think. Now they’re in the impressive new building, with tons more people, oodles of facilities, chefs, etc. Nice and all, but much more…. corporate-feeling. Less artisanal… I’m getting misty-eyed. And I was only visiting for a few weeks!
Anyway, I thought Bee (and maybe one or two others) might like to see one of those stylish mugs from those days. So I took a shot of the one in my office that I’d kept ever since that early visit:
Continue reading ‘The Good Ol’ Days of Perimeter’
It is time for another detailed Asymptotia visit to the kitchen.
Not many days after I showed you that phase diagram for pastry making, Thanksgiving day showed up, and I found myself making an apple pie to take over to have with friends for dessert. Making a pie is a very fulfilling kitchen endeavour that is remarkably simple at the core. The bonus is that with a bit of practice the results are often delightful. Let me show you what I mean.
The summary: You do various “processes” to move around the phase diagam, as with any phase diagram in physics. A phase diagram depicts the various states your working substance can end up in as a result of changing the conditions. Like H2O being able to be ice, steam, water, depending upon things like temperature and pressure. In physics, doing various processes to change your temperature and pressure might involve pushing on pistons, adding energy in the form of heat by applying flames with a bunsen burner, etc.
Here, we will be doing processes relevant to the kitchen. The aim is to find the right path across the amusing phase diagram above (click for larger; origin: Lab Lemming; finding the wrong path is not good since you end up with inedible junk… most paths are irreversible). Anyway, find the right path …and soon after you get to eat something like this:
Motivated? Now for the details:
Continue reading ‘An Apple Pie Process’
There seems to be an intermittent problem or problems with the asymptotia site. I don’t know what it is. From time to time you’ll get a blank page served to you instead of the actual blog. I have not had time to diagnose the problem. I probably won’t get time to do so until tomorrow.
So if you get onto the site, then click onto another page within the site and get nothing…. hit reload, and/or maybe again in five minutes or so. If writing a comment and it does not take you back to the blog after you have hit “submit”… Use the “back” buttoon to go back to the page where you prepared the comment (your text should still be there) and try again later. Sorry about that.
If you happen to know what the issue might be, or spot a pattern that you think might Continue reading ‘Strange Phenomena’
Super long day of meeting after meeting. Call after call. Email after email. With that and all the rest… I’m super-stressed.
When I can, I try to make some meetings happen outside. Walk while conversing. That way I get to see things like this:
Continue reading ‘Red and Yellow’
Well, what else can it be? It is not April 1st, so my only explanation is that it is an Onion article that somehow was picked up by the BBC. What do you think? It reads exactly like one, right down to the picture of the pleasant bearded academic at the board, the well-scrubbed English schoolchildren, and the quotes from the children. The only thing missing is the page with the three heads (whose names and occupations change every week) making comments on the story. (Be sure to watch the video links of the demo too!)
This is the sort of science/mathematics reporting that I usually expect to read in the Continue reading ‘BBC Publishes Onion Article?’
You’ve possibly been following my efforts over here to discuss and explain the several weaknesses in Smolin’s and Woit’s arguments and positions, and why the current “string debate” is all an overblown (and media-fueled) fake controversy. (See for example the series of posts entitled “More Scenes From the Storm in a Teacup”, the last three especially, (links: I, II, III, IV, V, VI); use the search engine for other instances.)
I’ve no idea what the effect of these discussions has been. Woit recently said “my views havenâ€™t changed at all”, and so has covered his ears and dug his heels in, while Smolin has written some sort of response on his website. I don’t hold out much hope for them, but I do hope that readers of these discussions can see that there’s been a fair amount of wool pulled over their eyes, to say the least.
What to do? What more to say? Whatever more I say, I cannot say it all any better than Joe Polchinski, a true master from whom we’ve all learned so much physics. Read his review in a guest post over on Cosmic Variance!
In case you have not heard, NASA announced today that they have evidence that water flows on Mars. That’s the present tense, note. Not flowed some time ago – flows currently (albeit perhaps only in intermittent bursts). Here’s the link to their announcement. The picture:
Continue reading ‘Water World, I’
You don’t have to feel quite so guilty when you next thumb through the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. (Yes you – you know who you are.) Environmental groups have been protesting their (specifically, the parent company Limited Brands) practices for a long while – they produce about one million catalogues per day, printed on virgin paper, including paper from forests that came habitats of endangered species such as the caribou in parts of Northern and Western Canada. The good news is that they have now committed to stop using virgin paper, and use a significant component of recycled paper for the catalogues, in addition to stopping the use of the paper from endangered habitats. From an article in Reuters:
The company’s catalogs will use either 10 percent recycled paper or 10 percent new paper from sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having been produced in an environmentally sustainable manner.
You can read much more about the result at ForestEthics’ site.
Ok, back to your lingere shopping now*.
There’s a new paper coming out telling of the observations (over two years) of the swallowing of a star by a black hole, from beginning to end. There’s no nice picture showing this, I’m afraid – the picture to the right (click for larger) is an artist’s impression (see description below). The team, led by Caltech’s Dr. Suvi Gezari, used the Galaxy Evolution Explorer and data from Chandra and some ground based telescopes, to track the ultraviolet radiation emitted from the star as it was consumed by the hole.
From the NASA/JPL press release:
Continue reading ‘Fatal Attraction’
Many of us received a letter today from the Editorial office at SISSA about supporting not-for-profit journals like JHEP (Journal of High Energy Physics) and some of its siblings. Why? Simply put, the other journals seem to be less about the science and more about the money. We discussed this a lot in my field back way back when JHEP was starting out, and several physicists switched to JHEP -pointedly turning their backs on Nuclear Physics B for example- as a group. Basically, you do the research, submit it to a journal, and they sell it back to you and your institution at extortionate prices. Better, they get you to contribute to doing their job by doing all the typesetting, reviewing of other mugs’ papers, etc. In fact, most of their work involves just raking in the money, as far as I can tell… So people moved to a model which was more about distributing refereed work for people to read, making heavy use of cost-savings involved in using electronic communication and distribution. Below I reproduce the letter I received from Marc Henneaux and Hector Rubenstein about this matter*. I’ll be interested to hear your opinion.
One thing I am concerned about is the relative weight of physics vs other fields – how much of a difference will this make to science publishing at large? What else can we do to change things? Take some areas of Biology for example. Elsevier (who publish Nuclear physics B, for example) probably makes a huge amount more money out of them than physics, if you take into account the large number of colour figures, etc, (and the associated page rate) that go into a typical publication. Might it be that progress by Elsevier (and other publishers) in reforming their economic model to be a lot more fair might be less speedy until we get the Biologists (and other fields) to support their own versions of the alternatives? Biology journals run for the sake of the subect and not the money? Perhaps this process already has begun? I do not know. Does anyone? Last time I talked about this to a prominent biologist, they seemed to be under the impression that online distribution of published work (particularly online pre-print distribution like hep-th that I know is slightly different but not unrelated) was akin to hanging out in internet chat rooms, and said so explicitly…. but this was before Nature and others started doing their major online work, so perhaps attitudes have changed…. Thoughts?
Anyway, here is the letter:
Continue reading ‘Supporting the Alternatives’