Friday, December 27, 2013

Academic Acknowledgments

When I pointed out a strange acknowledgments section previously, I hadn't been aware that apparently such strangeness is common, according to an article in Slate.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Singh is coming out with a book on the math in "Simpsons." Did Homer find a counter-example to Fermat's Last Theorem? Does 3987 raised to the twelth power added to 4365 raised to the twelth power = 4472 raised to the twelth?

Bonus: I forgot to include a link to this interesting article in the NYT a few days ago about a tenured professor who got fired and arrested after Georgia Tech apparently got offended by his high-flying ways.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Fascination with Physics

  • In this interesting interview with George Clooney there's mention that his dog is named "Einstein."
  • Laurie Anderson says farewell to Lou Reed in Rolling Stone and mentions regretting that she "never studied physics."
  • A variety of business folk apparently studied physics in undergrad. Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Elon Musk of Tesla (among other ventures), and a third...but I can't place him. Maybe a reader can trigger my memory?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Outside academia

The NYT has an article on "The Repurposed Ph.D.: Finding Life After Academia — and Not Feeling Bad About It." I didn't see anything too insightful to quote, but there were some links to blogs that might be worthwhile. Are there really lots of people entering PhD programs who are not aware of the meager job prospects?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Looking a gift horse in the mouth

I'm all for the questioning of authority, but this seems strange...check-out the "Acknowledgments" of this paper: I'm not sure what "caps" they're talking about...the limit of three-months of summer salary in total (from all agencies) per summer? The NSF's cap at two months? And they question the "lack of support of basic research in general"? Are they suggesting that this paper is applied, not basic? Very strange, even for Willy.

Update: Peter Woit explains at least part of the issue...NSF's salary caps on summer salary. I was thinking things were so tight for Willy that he needed a second job as an EMT, but apparently his EMT gig is as a volunteer. Also note, that there's a new version with a much more politically correct ack.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Breaking News

I know that I'm everyone's source for late-breaking physics-news, and so I've rushed to the terminal (neh, laptop) to update you all.

Everyone's favorite Star Trek-related author and physicist Lawrence Krauss is talking about The Higgs Boson Hangover. It's pretty mild compared to what Peter Woit might say, but then again this is in Slate and probably reaches a wider audience. The older I get, the more I realize that I continually overestimate the understanding of science and how it proceeds by the general public. And so it's good to publicize that scientists tend to want to be surprised instead of proven right.

Doug is discussing some fraud in the biomedical community about which I was completely unaware. This is, of course, part-in-parcel of how science corrects itself. Teaching the scientific method in school is all well-and-good, but I think it would behoove us to teach how science-the-enterprise corrects for the faults of those who practice it.

Slashdot today mentions a Forbes article about how I've got such a low-stress job. The link isn't working for me and so I've not read it, but apparently there's a big stink about it, and Slashdot has a number of links to some arguments against.

Finally, unrelated to physics, I wanted to link to a couple pieces by, and with, the person who turned-in Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking all those documents to Wikileaks: a very difficult piece by Adrian Lamo and a chat with him and someone else. Whatever one thinks of Manning's actions, the torture he's been put-through is awful and inexcusable.