Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not Even Zong

15 comments:

QUASAR9 said...

lol!
must read

wolfgang said...

If someone combined your proposal with Lee's book, the subtitle
"The rise of the blogosphere and the fall of a science."
would emerge ...

Lumo said...

Zong? Shouldn't it have been W-B-to-the-izzong?

See Not Even W-B-to-the-izzong ... ;-)

Bee said...

AAAHHH :-) A Gizoogle-fan! Did you ever notice you can gizoogle the arxiv:

Try the new papers on gr-qc

Bee said...

PS: Zing-Zong referred to my earlier post:

The last page of the newsletter has a questionnaire. I don't know from whom it is, but we've been laughing a lot about #3 B, which tells us that

"3B: Super zing-zong theory is the only theory that successfully predicts the dimension of spacetime to within an order of magnitude."

Bee said...

Hi Wolfgang,

even though I am very sceptic about the whole blogoshpere and it's influence on science, I wouldn't overrate this. For one, this affects still only a minority (for I have many colleagues who don't even know what a weblog is, neither did I know until last year). But more importantly, there's something about our pursuit of scientific research that - in my opinion - is completely impossible to destroy, because it's part of human nature, and will always persist.

The worst thing that can happen, and which is already happening I am afraid, is an enormous waste of time into totally off-topic discussions that are completely useless for the progress of science. (You know where to look, and I don't want to link there.)

Regarding the picture: I was actually about to write a piece about beauty and aesthetics in theoretical physics. Thinking about harmony/disharmony, I remembered the cover of Peter Woit's book, where I found the color choice to be quite harmonic. Just when I searched for the picture, it turned out that the original colors apparently were those used on the cover of Lee's book. Isn't that funny?

Best,

B.

Bee said...

*rofl* look at this

The Scientist as a Rebell


(via Lubos' blog)

wolfgang said...

> already happening I am afraid, is an enormous waste of time

This is kind of what I was thinking about when I made my comment 8-)

> I have many colleagues who don't even know what a weblog is, neither did I know until last year

But it is growing fast and soon every physicist may need one to promote their research.
One thing is for sure, as soon as Ed Witten starts a blog, everybody will follow 8-)

Bee said...

Hi Wolfgang,

But it is growing fast and soon every physicist may need one to promote their research.

Nah, I don't think so. First: so far, blogging seems to be a very US- and Japan dominated thing (since I don't speak Japanese, I don't know if they have many science blogs), and as far as I am aware of it, its completely irrelevant in most other parts of the world. Second: surfing around in the blogosphere one overestimates the number of people around here, and underestimates the number of those who never ever made any appearance in the whole scene. E.g. I have many colleagues who don't even have a website, besides the template offered by their institution. Third: It's for your potential employer most likely clear that you spend a considerable amount of time writing your blog. That's time in which you don't do research. Forth: It can easily backfire. There are just people who aren't skilled and/or have no fun in writing. That doesn't mean though they are bad scientists. Just that they better not write a blog, or a pop sci book.

as soon as Ed Witten starts a blog, everybody will follow

Why? How many people care about Ed Witten? Sorry to point that out, but I recently mentioned his name when talking to a friend in nuclear physics, and just got the reply 'Who? - Ah. That guy.'. Same thing when it comes to that book, *oohm* what was the title again, the trouble with physicists or so? Lee Who? What book?

One really has to downscale all that fuss in comment sections of some blogs.

Best,

B.

Arun said...

Blogging is relatively new, and people are yet to figure out how best to use it.

A Dr. Claudia Krenz on one of her webpages has this:

"Setting the bar for access to knowledge low is in the public interest, as is setting the bar for what constitutes knowledge high, i.e., more rigorous, a point Platt (1964) made strongly--now online."

Then, e.g., thinks like this
http://golem.ph.utexas.edu/~distler/blog/
or the N-Category Cafe
are generally **not** a waste of time, IMO.

I think to have a useful blog one has to pick a audience, a connected set of topics, and a level of technical expertise and then stick to it. Perhaps one can have another blog to write about more general things.

All IMO.

Bee said...

Hi Arun,

yes. I agree. Blogging can be very useful in various regards. And I don't consider it a waste of time... For one, as the www does very generally, it connects people over large space distances, and thereby integrates those who for one reason or the other would otherwise be excluded from the recent research. It also allows you to find and communicate to others who share your interests. Then, it's a good way to make scientific research accessible to the broader public, or even to a broader part of the community. The big advantage over printed media, or say, giving a seminar, is here that you can keep the scientific level rather flexible, by including links to either more basic introductions, or to more specialized information.

What blogging can't do for us though is it can't replace thinking. You still have to read a paper to understand it. What I find dangerous is to look for a judgement on scientific research projects in the blogosphere, and to pay too much attention to the opinion distributed there. It is most often unbalanced (a specific blog tends to attract readers that already agree on certain points), strongly polarized (disagreement gets more attention), and it supports echoing of opinions heard otherwise (linking to and from others is the thing to do to draw attention to yourself).

I think to have a useful blog one has to pick a audience, a connected set of topics, and a level of technical expertise and then stick to it. Perhaps one can have another blog to write about more general things.

Yes. That sounds very good to me.

Best,

B.

stefan said...

Dear Bee,

I hope you don't mind if I add some more details about the beautiful cover illustration...
:-)

Besides on the covers of the Jonathan Cape edition of Not Even Wrong and The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson, New York Review Books (2006), the photo features also on the 1994 Canto edition of Quantum Physics: Illusion or Reality? by Alastair Rae - that's where I had seen it for the first time, as far as I remember.

There may be many more book covers where it has been used, perhaps someone knows of some other titles.

As for the origin of the photo, this has been discussed before on Peters blog, and Peter cites the interactions.org database.

The original photo is from CERN, and can be found, with more information and links, at the CERN Document Server, cdsweb.cern.ch/record/39312. Included there is also a short list of some publications where it has been used. As for the content, the photo shows

an artistically enhanced picture of particle tracks in the BEBC, Big European Bubble Chamber.

More background can be found in the August 2004 issue of the CERN Courier, with the figure caption Picture postcard: Famous postcard view of a neutrino interaction in BEBC (the Big European Bubble Chamber) filled with a neon-hydrogen mixture. Indeed, the picture was sold as a postcard at CERN when I was there for the first time in 1999 - I sent this postcard to several friends then!

Concerning the science behind the picture, it seems that the BEBC was used mainly for neutrion experiments - the December 1998 issue of CERN courier has more about that, www.nu.to.infn.it/exp/all/bebc links some papers related to BEBC experiments, and just citing from CERN Bulletin 20/2004:

The vessel of the Big European Bubble Chamber, BEBC, was installed at the beginning of the 1970s. The large stainless-steel vessel, measuring 3.7 metres in diameter and 4 metres in height, was filled with 35 cubic metres of liquid (hydrogen, deuterium or a neon-hydrogen mixture), whose sensitivity was regulated by means of a huge piston weighing 2 tonnes. During each expansion, the trajectories of the charged particles were marked by a trail of bubbles, where liquid reached boiling point as they passed through it.

The first images were recorded in 1973 when BEBC, equipped with the largest superconducting magnet in service at the time, first received beam from the PS. In 1977, the bubble chamber was exposed to neutrino and hadron beams at higher energies of up to 450 GeV after the SPS came into operation.

By the end of its active life in 1984, BEBC had delivered a total of 6.3 million photographs to 22 experiments devoted to neutrino or hadron physics. Around 600 scientists from some fifty laboratories throughout the world had taken part in analysing the 3000 km of film it had produced.


The BEBC is now on display on a lawn near the CERN cafeteria, where it looks like some alien spaceship ;-)...

Best, stefan

Cynthia said...

Bee, you're pretty darn clever indeed! In fact, I'd - very much so - regard this offbeat brand of humor in keeping with the fine tradition of National Lampoon.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, I'm expecting a signed copy.

Bee said...

Hey William:

I'll see what I can do :-) It seem's NA Ture is still busy signing the CMB or so, but I'll let her know. Besides this, I hear they are having trouble finding a publisher.

Best,

B.