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Saturday, December 07, 2013

The cost of superficial metrics

It's no wonder that academia has been on the intellectual decline for decades. Publish or perish is a ludicrous way to judge people, especially when there is absolutely no quality control for publishing other than a mutual back-scratching system.
Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today's academic system because he would not be considered "productive" enough.

The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his groundbreaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964.

He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today's academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: "It's difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964."

Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.

Edinburgh University's authorities then took the view, he later learned, that he "might get a Nobel prize – and if he doesn't we can always get rid of him".
Furthermore, think about what sort of people are perfectly happy to spend their time jumping through stupid, irrelevant hoops in the place of doing anything substantial.  Credentialism and monolithic left-wing bias are not the only problems plaguing the intellectual world today.

On the other hand, Higgs does sound rather like a lazy, nasty old man, so perhaps getting rid of him after he published in 1964 paper wouldn't have been the worst idea.

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58 Comments:

Anonymous Mike LaRoche December 07, 2013 5:05 PM  

Indeed.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 07, 2013 5:17 PM  

You're right in that the criterion (publish or perish) is ludicrous. But what is the alternative? These scientists are usually funded by taxpayer money, and so there is a need of some sort of accountability. Only by publishing papers can you definitely say that progress has been made. And due to the technical nature of their work, only a handful of people are capable of understanding and evaluating what they do. Most of these people are those working on similar things. Thus it's inevitable that the process eventually becomes some sort of a circlejerk. How else would you do quality control? Unlike engineering, for pure scientific research there is no consumer to test your product.

Anonymous Idle Spectator December 07, 2013 5:30 PM  

Even Carl Friedrich Gauss, the Prince of Mathematicians could not be an academic today. His motto was pauca sed matura. "Few, but ripe."

What a loser. Peer review? Heard of it? Where is your grant proposal you should be writing?

Anonymous kh123 December 07, 2013 5:54 PM  

Perhaps the skull's thick, but why in the hell is a news article about a quantum physicist going on about his political and religious opinions. Seems to segue from his objections to how his Uni handled a lefty campus protest to "those stupid creationists and right wingers" - they and their theocratic conspiracies really do infest everything and everywhere don't they, Dan Brown.

Still, it's not as if this is Carl Sagan with his own show, soliloquizing about how an unborn child can be dissected because it's merely at the amphibious stage of ontology...

...No, wait... now I get it: The amazingly accurate results of physics.

Move over Aquinus, this farty little physics git has got you figured. And your little dog, too.

Anonymous Maximo Macaroni December 07, 2013 6:09 PM  

But - but - without scientific papers, the paradigm would never change!!

Anonymous Heh December 07, 2013 6:12 PM  

"Peer review" is why McRapey has a Hugo and Vox is banned.

What could possibly be wrong with a system that produces those results?

Blogger Crude December 07, 2013 6:22 PM  

On the other hand, Higgs does sound rather like a lazy, nasty old man, so perhaps getting rid of him after he published in 1964 paper wouldn't have been the worst idea.

If you mean his quote about God, there's a bit more to his thinking. From another interview:

Higgs has accused Dawkins of adopting a “fundamentalist” approach when dealing with believers. He argues that belief and science can co-exist and that a lot of scientists in his field are people of faith. “I don’t happen to be one myself, but maybe that’s just more a matter of my family background than that there’s any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two.”

Anonymous VD December 07, 2013 6:43 PM  

If you mean his quote about God, there's a bit more to his thinking.

I was actually referring to his comments about Scottish independence. He's a EUnik.

Anonymous Stickwick December 07, 2013 6:47 PM  

Publish or perish sucks, no two ways about it. There's a lot of pressure in my field to churn out papers, but on the other hand nobody respects a "delta paper" (something that's an infinitesimal "advancement" on your or someone else's previous work). Thus, we have the h-index, which balances the number of papers an author produces with their impact, but this is coming under increasing scrutiny for being a flawed metric of quality output.

My doctoral advisor lamented that there's no way to keep up with the sheer volume of work that's now being produced. Back in the 1970s, when he was a beginning professor, he said a scientist could spend an afternoon reading all of the abstracts and most of the articles in a journal, but these days it's impossible to keep up even in one's own narrow field of expertise. This is not conducive to good science.

Anonymous bob k. mando December 07, 2013 6:49 PM  

Stickwick December 07, 2013 6:47 PM
This is not conducive to good science.



it IS, however, conducive to keeping midwits and bullshit artists from being easily found out.

Blogger Doorstop December 07, 2013 6:56 PM  

"Higgs has accused Dawkins of adopting a “fundamentalist” approach when dealing with believers. He argues that belief and science can co-exist and that a lot of scientists in his field are people of faith. “I don’t happen to be one myself, but maybe that’s just more a matter of my family background than that there’s any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two.”

This impresses me more about the man than his contribution to physics, which matters less to most people in their daily lives than the knowledge of the movement of the planetary bodies mattered to Sherlock Holmes in "A Study in Scarlet"...a dialog which I'm sure many of the ilk have seen before:

"That any civilized human being in this nineteenth century should not be aware that the earth traveled round the sun appeared to me to be such an extraordinary fact that I could hardly realize it."

"You appear to be astonished," [Sherlock Holmes] said, smiling at [Dr. Watson's] expression of surprise. "Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it."

"To forget it!"

"You see,’ he explained, ‘I consider that a man’s brain is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose...."

...."But the Solar System!" I protested.

"What the deuce is it to me?" he interrupted impatiently: "you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Anonymous kh123 December 07, 2013 7:03 PM  

"He argues that belief and science can co-exist and that a lot of scientists in his field are people of faith."

Believer, meet box.

S Jay Gould had something similar with his NOMA approach - Non-Overlapping Magisteria, IIRC.

Blogger Crude December 07, 2013 7:06 PM  

I was actually referring to his comments about Scottish independence. He's a EUnik.

Ah, okay.

I have to admit, I liked his response to asking about his recent publications. At least he had a sense of humor.

Anonymous Will Best December 07, 2013 7:19 PM  

Physicists are particularly bad bets because 98% of them don't produce anything substantive after 25. But then tenure is about ability to generate revenue (either grant or tuition) and has nothing to do with ability to teach or advance the study.

The publish or perish bit is actually the result of the overproduction of substandard phd's. Since the majority of phd grads are producing interchangable garbage not worth the paper its printed on, then a candidate that publishes a lot makes sense the way buying 5 lottery tickets for the cost of 1 makes sense.

Government could mitigate this a bit by handing out prizes not grants. It would at least force the universities to consider competence in their hiring decisions. To the extent it hands out grants it should be for verification.

Anonymous PhillipGeorge(c)2013 December 07, 2013 7:20 PM  

Peace and Quiet - did anyone miss that line?
Newton near the apple tree. Einstein looking at light in a pond.

All of the great university cities of Europe required every student to submit a theological tome.

"The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind" .... "Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ..

the current academic environment is people in a whore house trying to regain their virginity.

Blogger Crude December 07, 2013 7:41 PM  

Believer, meet box.

S Jay Gould had something similar with his NOMA approach - Non-Overlapping Magisteria, IIRC.


I don't think Higgs is necessarily putting anyone in a box. Gould's NOMA approach is problematic in a lot of ways, but I don't see Higgs endorsing it. Who knows what he means, but it's noteworthy that he recognizes that the crux of the problem may be 'family background'.

What is with these people who become atheists at age 10 and don't seem to question it thereafter? I mean, Vox has pointed it out, but holy crap there really are a lot of them.

Anonymous kh123 December 07, 2013 7:50 PM  

Phillip Johnson made a point in the closing of Darwin On Trial, regarding Gould's NOMA and the secular box for believers in general, that when questions regarding the ethics of science in relation to society or political issues are brought up (Would it be ethical to dissect unborn children if some medical or social benefit could be derived from it?), it becomes apparent that those who praise tolerance for traditional metaphysics on the one hand won't allow the issue to go very far before tamping it down with the other.

Anonymous jack December 07, 2013 8:11 PM  

7:11 CT. War Eagle: SEC Champs.

[just had to say it]

Blogger Outlaw X December 07, 2013 8:40 PM  

I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. I have read the scientific papers, there is no real proof. only guesses as what they are seeing In data they don't completely understand.

Anonymous jg1 December 07, 2013 8:54 PM  

I think Outlaw maybe onto something regarding the Higgs. This article in Wired magazine talks about the Higgs particle and the crisis in modern physics.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/higgs-nobel-physics/

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 9:19 PM  

I think too much is expected of scientists, as if it's expected that the universe will pop out more and more answers for them on a regular basis, so that the progress of knowledge can be quantified into a process as easily reproducible as baking a cake. (Put X amount of scientists into it for Y amount of time, and get Z!)

It's not a progress bar for your new Windows installation. Genius and scientific revolutions aren't something you can expect to just pull out of a hat in time for the deadline.

So it's no wonder with the pressures for scientists to get results out of a fundamentally misguided procedural vision, you're going to get a lot of stalling, padding and gapstops, just to keep them in their jobs because of some weird ideas the bureaucrats have about scientific progress.

I'm not a scientist, so I may not really understand what I'm talking about, but still, this whole setup just rings false to me. I don't really think that's how it fundamentally works, and it sounds like an exhausting illusion to maintain, and that it's unfair to expect it to work so neatly. (Small wonder that we have so many scientists, and yet relatively minor progress is made, when they seem to spend most of their time trying to placate their masters like this.)

Experiments, cataloguing, and all those things which are just reproducing data, sure that's how that seems to work. But expecting to crank out inspiration, new realistic perspectives and philosophies of everything like canned food just seems like a category error.

And it's all because of this neatly boxed heuristic concept of Science and How Science Works, which is supposed to be utterly non-mystical and the process reducible to a science in itself. Or the fundamentalists win.

"The monotony of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind" .... "Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ..

I think that's very true. And oddly enough, very, very difficult. I think the primary advantage the ancients had over us is mental discipline. We have so many quick-shot ways to amuse ourselves, that our brain doesn't need to do so much to keep us occupied.

Enduring the spaces is so difficult, yet so necessary and worthwhile if one wants to accomplish something. And so great, when we get used to it, and fill it up with intellectually satisfying activities. Hard as heck though, with the internets, and the knowledge that out there are a plethora of pretty girls that I could be talking to right now. Damn succubi, if you ask me.

I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace.

That was basically my impression of it. They got some numbers that they were hoping to get, and it's consistent with the numbers they believe the boson would give them, but I didn't really see any solid evidence to back up the fundamental premise.

Blogger tz December 07, 2013 9:25 PM  

Scifi imitates Science.

Part of the Pink SF is that there is so much of it. If we are going to have to account for every idle word, there will have to be a 10th circle of hell for most of the output of the Scalzisphere.

But note the comparison. Instead of a few good or great epic works, they churn out monthly crap. Both scientists who must publish, and SF/F authors that have to do the same.

The breakthroughs will not be made by professors at universities (unless Hillsdale or Aquinas or Wyoming Catholic or such gets a cyclotron or two). I'm not sure who or where, only not from the usual places. Note Einstein was not to my knowledge a professor when he penned his original papers on relativity.

Blogger wrf3 December 07, 2013 9:34 PM  

Mudz wrote: They got some numbers that they were hoping to get, and it's consistent with the numbers they believe the boson would give them, but I didn't really see any solid evidence to back up the fundamental premise.

Just where have you looked? Reminds me of the Three Stooges routine where Curly cries out, "I can't see. I can't see!" Moe worriedly asks, "What's wrong?" and Curly replies, "I've got my eyes closed. Nyuk, nyuk."

LHC has seen a 126 GeV boson with positive parity and zero integer spin. If that isn't Higgs, what is it?

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 9:42 PM  

LHC has seen a 126 GeV boson with positive parity and zero integer spin. If that isn't Higgs, what is it?

Well the obvious answer would be 'something else', but that's not what I'm talking about.

The real question is about the significance of a particle they found in their certain range of energy. Does it explain mass and gravity? If they're right about all this, why have they so consistently failed to detect 'gravity waves'?

It would be nice if you waited for me to give an answer before splashing the dye everywhere.

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 9:45 PM  

And I don't remmber where I looked. This was ageeees ago. I'm just sharing the impression I was left with after the whole bruhaha.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 07, 2013 9:55 PM  

I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. I have read the scientific papers, there is no real proof. only guesses as what they are seeing In data they don't completely understand.

There is no such thing as "proof" in anything other than mathematics. Experimental physicists only work with degrees of supporting evidence. And of course physicists are the first people to admit that they don't completely understand the data. It's very hard to do a new ground-breaking experiment which nobody has ever done before and have EVERYTHING completely understood without any room for speculation and guesses. Of course, to get published, at least the evidence bearing on the main goal of the experiment has to be adequately understood, but often there are random and systematic errors which come from very complicated sources and are not fully understood.

That was basically my impression of it. They got some numbers that they were hoping to get, and it's consistent with the numbers they believe the boson would give them, but I didn't really see any solid evidence to back up the fundamental premise.

What would constitute "solid evidence" for you? There is no "proof" that the Higgs boson exists, any more than there is "proof" that electrons and protons exist. It's all about creating a hypothesis, testing it, and deducing things from those tests.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 07, 2013 9:56 PM  


I think Outlaw maybe onto something regarding the Higgs. This article in Wired magazine talks about the Higgs particle and the crisis in modern physics.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/10/higgs-nobel-physics/


Ironically, the article you linked actually acknowledges that the Higgs boson is too normal and too understandable, compared to what the theorists were hoping for. The problem is what to do next.

Blogger Outlaw X December 07, 2013 9:59 PM  

LHC has seen a 126 GeV boson with positive parity and zero integer spin. If that isn't Higgs, what is it?

Sounds like a big number, why don't you tell us how much energy is in 126 Gev?

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 10:01 PM  

What would constitute "solid evidence" for you?

I dunno. Anything that I found convincing. Is there an assumption here that I'm have some sort of bias against Higgs boson, and that I feel a need to fight it for God and Country? (You think I care they called it the 'God Particle'?)

I don't care if Higgs is what people say it is, or if it's just the tiniest particle some dudes found in a reactor. I just haven't read anything that shouts 'dude, this makes SO MUCH SENSE, it explains EVERYTHING' to me.

That could be because I'm ignorant, haven't put enough thought into it, or because my naturally provincial bent protects me from making silly assertions that over-extends the data I have.

If you want to show me some write-up that explains this all in glorious detail how the Higgs is what it is, I'm happy to read it. Honestly, sometimes an opinion is just an opinion. I don't have time to reserach everything.

Anonymous not a fan of arrogant science hobbyists December 07, 2013 10:08 PM  

We should have pity for this aspergerite who apparently believes that a great tragedy of the day is that academia might not have accepted his arrogant self had his parents reasonably delayed a few decades before spawning this apparently unfriendly and ungrateful little fellow. Not one in a million informed people would likely say that much much greater minds than his have reached different conclusions than he on his little pet theories. As the blogger Spengler said of irreligious and philosophically illiterate scientists whose main worry is keeping up in their narrow fields (so that their little incremental contributions would be first across the line), they were simply not born creative, and that fact bothers them.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 07, 2013 10:09 PM  

Sounds like a big number, why don't you tell us how much energy is in 126 Gev?

Actually it's a pretty small number. 127 GeV = 127 * 10^9 eV * 1.6 * 10^-19 J/eV = 2.3 *10^-8 joules. This energy wouldn't be enough to power a 25 W light bulb for even a microsecond.

Blogger wrf3 December 07, 2013 10:11 PM  

Outlaw X wrote: Sounds like a big number, why don't you tell us how much energy is in 126 Gev?

126 GeV = 1.911923223143E-11 Btu. What's important about 126 GeV is that it means that the Standard Model can be compatible with energy up to the Planck scale.

Anonymous Noah B. December 07, 2013 10:14 PM  

I believe the proper units are actually 126 GeV/(c^2), so that this is a measure of its mass, not its energy.

Blogger wrf3 December 07, 2013 10:15 PM  

Mudz wrote: I don't have time to reserach [sic] everything.

And yet you think you know enough to proclaim, "I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. [sic]".

Anonymous not a fan of arrogant science hobbyists December 07, 2013 10:17 PM  

"Not one in a million informed people would likely say that much greater minds than his have reached different conclusions than he on his little pet theories." For those who have never read Shakespeare or other authors who often throw in sarcasm without a sarcasm tag, let me introduce you to a new rhetorical device. Or else that was a typo for "not one in a million informed people would likely say that greater minds than his have ...not... reached different conclusions than him..." Your choice and thanks for reading ....

Blogger wrf3 December 07, 2013 10:19 PM  

physphilmusic wrote: The problem is what to do next.

Crank up the LHC for longer runs at higher energies and see what happens. In particular, look for particles that would indicate some form of new physics beyond the Standard Model, such as one of the flavors of Supersymmetry. Continue to hunt for the dark matter particle (or particles). And so on.

Anonymous physphilmusic December 07, 2013 10:22 PM  

And yet you think you know enough to proclaim, "I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. [sic]".

Well to be fair, I can interpret Mudz as actually saying that he literally does not have a belief that "The Higgs boson exists", and neither does he have the belief "The Higgs boson doesn't exist". Perhaps he is withholding judgment and being an agnostic about it because he doesn't understand the technical details. In that case, I don't think he's definitely being irrational.

Anonymous Noah B. December 07, 2013 10:25 PM  

If Higgs was identified, does it open the door to any new engineering applications? No potential applications of this knowledge are readily apparent to me.

Blogger Outlaw X December 07, 2013 10:26 PM  

Mudz wrote: I don't have time to reserach [sic] everything.

And yet you think you know enough to proclaim, "I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. [sic]".


You are confusing two comments, and yes I don't believe it exists. I have good reason for that I didn't pull it out of my butt. There are many that believe it don't exist as well. you can believe what you want, but the data does not back it up. Not understanding something dos not make it something you understand. It's like dark matter a reason, theory and then a conclusion for math that don't work. It is not born out of ignorance, but bias.

Anonymous not a fan of arrogant science hobbyists December 07, 2013 10:30 PM  

wrf3 - this subject was covered pretty well (at an accessible to undergraduate physics student level) on peter woit's; blog for years before the announcement, to include comical asides on academic physicists who were making multiplish predictions(as to the eventual GeV to show up in the stats) in order to be more likely to be proven correct, as well as Mean Girls type (reference to a movie from a few years ago) arguments and cold shoulders among elderly physicists who had either bloviated on the subject decades ago or who had actually understood what they had been talking about and were desperately anxious to take credit (I am in no position to judge, if you are I would be interested in your take), the bottom line is physicists in general are a lot less confident than they were in the day of the generation born in the ragtime and hot jazz eras

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 10:34 PM  

And yet you think you know enough to proclaim, "I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace. [sic]".

That wasn't me. I replied to that: 'that's basically my impression', which I then clarified in a subsequent post as referring to the significance of the particle. But thanks for wasting my time with that. Let me try again:

You've got it reversed. I'm perfectly certain they found a particle, and that they've called it the 'Higgs Boson'.

I don't believe it's significant, because there's no data to support the significance, so in the mean-time I must hold to the default position of waiting until they do, before believing it.

It's not what I know, it's what I don't know that is precisely the reason that I see no reason to proclaim the Higgs Boson is blah, blah, blah.

All you have to do, is give me a reason why I should, instead of complaining that I don't believe something that apparently has great appeal to you. But if you find that moping like a kid that dropped his ice-cream is easier, go ahead. Just don't expect it to convince me that you have a worthwhile case that you can defend on the facts.

But I'll forgive you, since we've debated intensely before, so you're probably reacting to a general frustration with me, rather than this specific argument.

Anonymous Noah B. December 07, 2013 10:35 PM  

Also, I believe the actual units are GeV/(c^2), which is a unit of mass. So for a little perspective the "Higgs boson" has a mass about the same as a cesium atom.

Anonymous Mudz December 07, 2013 10:37 PM  

Let me rephrase that:

'because I know of no data to support the significance'

Blogger Outlaw X December 07, 2013 10:51 PM  

Also, I believe the actual units are GeV/(c^2), which is a unit of mass. So for a little perspective the "Higgs boson" has a mass about the same as a cesium atom.

The biggest problem I have with the Higgs bosom is if it exists see no reason for it to have any mass, therefore unmeasurable. It could but is doubtful to me.

Anonymous kh123 December 07, 2013 10:54 PM  

Wouldn't worry about it, Mudz. More than a few can reading this thread.

Anonymous Noah B. December 07, 2013 11:00 PM  

"The biggest problem I have with the Higgs bosom is if it exists see no reason for it to have any mass, therefore unmeasurable. It could but is doubtful to me."

I don't know enough about The Standard Model or other advanced physics to have an opinion. But I'm naturally skeptical of everything that comes from the media, including this.

Anonymous Grabba Johnson December 08, 2013 12:17 AM  

I got your Higgs Boson right here, losers.

Anonymous Stickwick December 08, 2013 12:44 AM  

Will Best: Physicists are particularly bad bets because 98% of them don't produce anything substantive after 25.

?? The vast majority of physicists don't even have their PhDs until their late 20s, and won't have finished what is effectively the journeyman phase (postdocs) until well into their 30s. My observation has been that physicists tend to do their best work between their 30s and 50s. That's probably true of most professions.

Outlaw X: I don't believe the Higgs bosom exists in the first pace.

Someone makes a slip like this and not a single person here makes a joke about the Standard Model and her big ol' Higgs bosom? How disappointing. (Sorry, Outlaw, buddy; couldn't resist.)

Blogger Beau December 08, 2013 1:06 AM  

Furthermore, think about what sort of people are perfectly happy to spend their time jumping through stupid, irrelevant hoops in the place of doing anything substantial.

This problem is larger than the scientific community.

How many adults languish in cubicles? What a horribly dreary way to spend one's lifebreath. Heroes are shrunken to Consumers. Saints to Sitcoms. Where are the virtues Courage, Sacrifice, Vigor, and Perseverance? What a bland, insipid, necrotic wasteland. Where are the doers of deeds?

Heavenly Father, fan into flame our faith. Let there be riot or revival. Amen.

Blogger Outlaw X December 08, 2013 6:11 AM  

Someone makes a slip like this and not a single person here makes a joke about the Standard Model and her big ol' Higgs bosom? How disappointing. (Sorry, Outlaw, buddy; couldn't resist.)

Yeah. don't blame you, they put the "m" and "n" too close together. Thanks though that was funny. I'll be nore carefull fron mow om. Heh?

Blogger JACIII December 08, 2013 8:43 AM  

Stickwick:
Someone makes a slip like this and not a single person here makes a joke about the Standard Model and her big ol' Higgs bosom? How disappointing. (Sorry, Outlaw, buddy; couldn't resist.)

Give a fella a chance to get some coffee in him before lamenting the lack of juvenile humor on VP. I guess I need to add "bosom" to the thread interruption scanner alarm. I left it out because I thought it was too high brow for this particular population of posters.

keywords9mm, glock, 380, 223, 5.56, assault rifle, headlights, titillation, bosom, the twins.....

Blogger Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus December 08, 2013 8:59 AM  

Stickwick - since the threads so old, I'll feel a little safer in going somewhat off-topic...what are your impressions of the various VSL theories from Barrow, Albrecht, Magueijo, etc.?

Anonymous Stickwick December 08, 2013 10:44 AM  

Haven't really looked at them, Titus.

Blogger machinephilosophy December 08, 2013 11:28 AM  

It's hardly limited to China of course...

http://phys.org/news/2013-11-reveals-black-china-paper-authoring.html

Same thing exists in the humanities, but I suggest spicing them up with some pomo-hoaxing rhetoric, just to be sure.

Blogger RobertT December 08, 2013 1:43 PM  

Makes you wonder if Einstein would have enough free time to sit around wondering what it would be like to ride on a ray of light. I haven't read anything in years that made me think that science or education were on the right track. The system is not unlike my wife who seems to think my most productive time is when I'm hauling out the trash. And I assure you, we wouldn't want my wife running anything.

Anonymous lozozlo December 09, 2013 7:12 PM  

This is endemic to the way all of modern society works - we focus on the superficial and the easily-measured so as to please middle aged female beaucratic bean counters.

Work is the same way - we measure above all else the number of hours spent - most workers only do a few hours work a day at most, but corporate america insists on pointlessly long working days since they think that lon hours makes one more productive - they measure hours and not results.

Both the academy and the corporate work place use these (knowingly) false metrics for a very good reason.

Anonymous kfg December 10, 2013 12:40 PM  

"The vast majority of physicists don't even have their PhDs until their late 20s"

Neither Newton nor Einstein had the their PhDs when they worked their "miracles." Feynman was older, but as he was prone to point out himself, he only had an IQ of 120 and that makes him special.

Anonymous kfg December 12, 2013 7:49 PM  

And it might also be noted, and therefore I shall, that both Newton and Einstein did the work that earned them their reputations not only before they had earned their PhDs, but during a period when they were removed from the academic environment and were thus free to think when, how and as they pleased.

Feynman, of course, is special and earned his reputation before he had done any work of note at all, for simply insisting that he would think when, how and as he pleased, but again in a situation where he had been removed from the purely academic environment into the the practical development environment.

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