Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sunny with scattered papers

Measuring SuccessSeed magazine has an interesting article On Science Transfer. It is about the measurement of scientific success by means of automatized metrics, a topic we have discussed several times on this blog, see eg my posts Science Metrics and Against Measure.

The mentioned article is interesting in that it focuses on measuring scientific activities that are not usually considered for academic purposes, those of communicating science and being relevant for science policies - that's what is meant with “science transfer.” To that end, commonly used measures based on citations are of limited use:
“If we want to know what scientific ideas are influencing decisions and policymaking in the public sphere or in disparate scientific fields, rather than simply the discipline in which an idea originated, citations are of less relevance [...] Writing in the popular press is equally unlikely to garner citations. Even trying to translate research into something more digestible by a lay audience within the academic publishing world is a dead end; editorial and other journalistic material is generally deemed “uncitable.”

Though it is by no means the only aspect of scientific culture responsible, the fixation on citations as a measure of scholarly impact has given scientists few reasons to communicate the value of their work to non-scientists.”
The article then discusses the possibility of more general measures of impact, based on usage, such as for example MESUR. I am skeptic that usage is an indicator for quality rather than for popularity. Some works arguably score a lot of hits and downloads exactly because they turn out to be utter nonsense.

But either way, I certainly welcome the attempt to take note of a scientist's impact on informing the public. A few days ago, Vivienne Raper had an interesting blogpost on Science Blogging and Tenure summarizing the pros and cons of blogging next to doing research. She reports an example from innovation-country Canada:
“Cell biologist Alexander Palazzo says his blog helped him secure an assistant professorship. "My department" -- the biochemistry department at the University of Toronto in Canada -- "told me part of the reason they hired me was because of stuff I'd written on my blog," he says. "It wasn't the main reason they hired me, but it helped."”

Another item on the topic of getting science closer to the public and the role of blogging: In the last 3 months or so I received about 5 emails from freelance writers with a record of science-themed articles, asking for a guest post. As you can see I said thanks but no thanks, but I find this an interesting development. It seems there's people for who blogs represent a useful medium to earn career credits.

But back to the Seed article: it is interesting for another reason. As we previously discussed, purely software generated measures can be unreliable, as is shown by the example of a whole university's high ranking going back to the number of publications of one of their researchers (who published several hundred papers in a journal of which he also happened to be editor in chief) and the example of how the h-index of a (not even existent) author can be pimped to that of an exceptional scientist. The Seed article takes note of this problem by acknowledging the need of human interpretation of data - a task for the "science meteorologist"
“Even if we erect massive databases filled with information on how scientific work is being used in real time, for the foreseeable future it seems inescapable that humans must provide oversight to derive actionable knowledge from the data. Modern weather forecasting provides an illustrative example: Copious real-time data on world weather patterns is available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, but the vast majority of us rely on meteorologists to synthesize and analyze it to produce a daily forecast. Moreover, even more raw data and subsequent analysis are necessary to transform information about weather into knowledge about climate and how human activity has influenced it over the course of centuries.

Well-designed computer programs may be able to compile usage data on scientific discourse and publishing to generate real-time maps of scientific activity, but such maps can only inform our decision making, not replace it. A new skill set that makes use of such tools—a kind of “science meteorology”—will be necessary to serve as a bridge between the academic and public spheres.”

Granted, they are concerned with measuring the impact of scientific work on policy decisions, but I couldn't help wondering what a science meteorologist would "forecast" from data of individual scientists. This candidate is sunny with scattered papers? Clear and cold with a student chill factor of zero K? Partly cloudy with a 10% chance of tenure?

The Seed article also touches on an issue I previously commented on here:
“The problem with evaluating all [scientists] with one fast and easy evaluation system is centralization and streamlining. The more people use the same system, the more likely it becomes everybody will do the same research with the same methods.”

Also Michael Nielsen recently wrote an excellent post on The Mismeasurement of Science making this point:
“I accept that metrics in some form are inevitable – after all [...] every granting or hiring committee is effectively using a metric every time they make a decision. My argument instead is essentially an argument against homogeneity in the evaluation of science: it’s not the use of metrics I’m objecting to, per se, rather it’s the idea that a relatively small number of metrics may become broadly influential. I shall argue that it’s much better if the system is very diverse, with all sorts of different ways being used to evaluate science.”

(Michael is btw writing a book titled “Reinventing Discovery,” about to be published this year. Something for your reading list.) In the Seed article now one finds a quotation from Johan Bollen, associate professor at Indiana University’s School of Informatics and Computing, who is the brain behind the MESUR project:
“If you have a bunch of different metrics, and they each embody different aspects of scholarly impact, I think that’s a much healthier system.”

We can agree on that. Then Bollen continues:
“People’s true value can be gleaned [...]”

Let's hope the day a scientist's “true value” is defined by a software will never come.

  • Efforts are made to measure scientist's skills of communicating research to the public and policy makers. Useful for evaluating success, as defined by the measure, and for providing incentives. -- Good.

  • Measuring success by usage. -- Questionable.

  • Noting that data collection still needs human assessment. -- Good.

  • Diversifying in measures prevents streamlining and is thus welcome or, in other words, if you have to use metrics at least use them smartly. -- Indeed.

  • People's true value can be gleaned... -- Pooh.

  • Michael's book is almost done. -- Yeah!


  1. Poobahs who analyze success toward prediction, economists to research quants and metrics, are ex post facto curve-fitting frauds. All discovery is insubordination, as ab initio unpredictable as any emergent phenomenon. The more deeply it is analyzed and modeled, the less likely it will occur. Discovery is perfectly excluded by hegemonies of beige.

    Applied research is done by Personnel drinking buddy hirelings under conservative managerial oversight - PERT chart, budget, defined goals. Basic research, discovery, is done by awful, unkempt, social pariahs - especially the young. Every manager is wounded by an unproductive employee hired without a track record to justify the hiring.

    A money-dripping diamond mine processes a tonne of kimberlite or lamproite to obtain 999,999 grams of dirt. The five carats of diamond remaining are the money. A good manager embraces 100% guaranteed failure not one ppm of success. Do opposite shoes violate the Equivalence Principle? Only a madman risks structural chemistry's impact upon gravitation. The one tenth part per trillion required will never obtain ((arxiv:0909.4537, 0903.4573).

    The greatest obstacle to understanding reality is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Chandrasekhar was crushed by Eddington and Milne. Yang and Lee were pariahs on Christmas 1956; particle theory was wrong by New Year's Day 1957. Zwicky at Caltech thought Hubble and Baade were stupid while they thought Zwicky was insane.

    Model that.

  2. I have no idea what Uncle Al is saying, but very interesting post.

  3. Physics Today 63(12) 44 (2010) for the social commntary.

    Critics, evaluators, and modelers of basic research cripple discovery by destroying its mechanism - the freedom to conceive and commit thoughtcrime. There is no measure of creativity that does not reward entrenched interests. New stuff accompanies new people. Nobody knows how to extract the diamonds from that dross, except afterward.

    Two guys in New Jersey wanted to calibrate a microwave horn. They pointed it straight up to get a null reading... and didn't get a null reading. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson got their Nobel Prize/Physics (1978) for two things:

    1) Shoveling pigeon crap out of a microwave horn, and
    2) Not ignoring a whisper of static in the now crapless horn.

    Tell Uncle Al how you plan, staff, schedule, and budget the discovery of the cosmic microwave background. Robert Dicke (Princeton) had the theory worked out. Dicke lacked observation. Dicke was brilliant - and more than a little strange. Dicke got nothing, repeatedly.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. What are you saying, Al, Dicke got ... short-changed? So did overly polite Jocelyn Bell. And especially Bose, and all we got in return was this wonderful but overpriced radio. :-P I've met Penzias. Good guy. Moved up the ladder quite well at Bell labs, then on to Sandia, not far from you (by Western measure).

  6. Well guys, not that any of this is on topic with Bee's topic, but I'm thinking I know what Al might be getting at. What Dicke proposed, and which physics subsequently ignored, may have a lot to do with basic errors in conceptual physics today. Al, if that is what you are implying I completely agree.

    Steven, I think there is a lot of people who didn't get credit for what they contributed. It is even more tragic when a new Einstein contributes a huge idea that "may" solve many conceptual problems and is completely ignored. That's how I see the contributions of Dicke and his collaborators about the origins of the CMB and what needs to be altered for physics to completely account for it.

    Bee, I'm sorry this so often goes off topic. It's probably pretty frustrating. That what happens when trying to herd cats. Bad cats!

  7. Hi Bee,

    Thanks for the nice article which offers still more to look over and consider. I think you are familiar with my point of view regarding the current efforts to quantify quality being they speak more to what we would like to have scientists think about, rather than how it is the good ones think. That is most of this serves to be at best a quality control process and not one of quality assurance. You would think a lesson would have been learned from a philosophy which is often considered it’s antithetic, where despite having metrics such as the Ten Commandments for millennia how successful has having such measures served to improve the quality of human beings.

    So from my perspective what is needed is not more ways to discover how scientists show that they care about what they do, yet rather more ways to have them wish to care about what it is that they do. Mark Twain once noted “Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get”. In such regard I think science currently is looking to find patterns in the weather that would have it assure a good climate, rather than looking to understand the type of climate required to assure good weather.

    ”We have artists with no scientific knowledge and scientists with no artistic knowledge and both with no spiritual sense of gravity at all, and the result is not just bad, it is ghastly. The time for real reunification of art and technology is really long overdue”

    -Robert M. Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - page 264



  8. Isn't it still a good bet to say, that pressuring to publish a lot detracts from the work of those whose primary job is teaching? There's so much to read, no one should be pressured to publish, the "publish or perish" mentality is detrimental, true?

    BTW Al, your writing style and insights are near inimitable (not saying I always agree, just that I'm impressed.) Some day, visit the famous Tidewater Mensa RG? (And I'll try to get any interested reader here in, as my guest.)

  9. bioephemera wrote:
    I have no idea what Uncle Al is saying, but very interesting post.

    It's not just you.

    Al is an alien, sent to earth to do battle with Ed Witten, another alien from Al's enemy planet.

    Al's still learning the lingo. Says things like "the squeeky wheel is the first to get replaced" when he means "the squeeky wheel gets the oil." Assumes the reader "gets it." Well, what do you want? The average IQ on Al's home world is 950, and Al's one of the smarter ones.

    Here's a cool buzzword for your battle, Al: "Langlands!"

  10. Hi Phil,

    Well, for the 'spiritual sense of gravity' we still have the pilgrims ;-) Best,


  11. Hi,

    I think, what Uncle Al is trying to say is that economy is simply unpredictable, despite the fact that bankers are saying the opposite and trying to predict the stock exchange with math.

    Also any measurement of human success or discovery is unpredictable.

    Best, Kay

  12. Hi Bee,

    All this talk about "quality over quantity" and the invasion of the opposite into cutting-edge academic research is amusing to me, because this has been going on FOR YEARS in the business world.

    Since 1981, and it's only getting stronger.

    First, I don't like it, no.

    Second, how can you stop it? I don't see how, not in this age of modern computing, in particular: Personal computing. It's a bit of an oxymoron, because what's "personal" about it? Oh, individuals can use a computer, even if they know nothing about electrons or how to recognize a polynomial let alone define one or factor it. You know who I'm talking about: porn monkeys.

    You can see where this is going, right? "A Brave New World"by A. Huxley, where people are built to order, all in vitro, in ranked classes and abilities.

    I'm not saying we should give up, nor should we stop complaining. I'm just saying, like climate change and ocean pollution, how does one fight social inertia? Want to save the environment? Simple. Give up Industry, which means technology. Because Industry is the problem.

    How do you give up Industry? Simple, don't buy products, OR, reduce the population. Neither is going to happen, anytime soon.

    Rather than throw up my hands in dystopic fashion, I offer three solutions, albeit long-term ones:

    1) Adopt the Beijing model: 1 pregnancy per life, at most.

    2) Birthright Lotteries, as in Larry Niven's Known Space-verse

    3) Get people OFF the planet, by colonizing space.

    I'm open to other ideas.

  13. I'd say it's about the question whether quantifying quality is possible.

  14. Hi Kay zum,

    you wrote:
    I think, what Uncle Al is trying to say is that economy is simply unpredictable, despite the fact that bankers are saying the opposite and trying to predict the stock exchange with math.

    Yes, and bankers can't predict the stock market, because they know nothing of Chaos theory. Bankers know the simple operators of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, powers and roots, golf scores, and how many scotch-and-waters it takes to get a DUI in their late-model Porsche, often by experience.

    Because of this, bankers, some, buy into "Elliott Wave Theory". Bunk.

    And these are the people who decide the fate of our economy by loaning money to the other idiots of low IQ and high inherited wealth.

    Where is the next Marcus Aurelius?

  15. :-) 'zum' is a German preposition. It's part of the last name like the 'van' in 'van Beethoven,' though less common.

  16. I'd say it's about the question whether quantifying quality is possible.

    OK then, here's your answer: it's impossible.

    –verb (used with object) gather slowly and laboriously, bit by bit. gather (grain or the like) after the reapers or regular gatherers. learn, discover, or find out, usually little by little or slowly.
    –verb (used without object) collect or gather anything little by little or slowly. gather what is left by reapers.

    3. garner, deduce, infer.

    The key problem is the word: slowly.

    Are you the same person you were five years ago, or the same five years ago compared to five years before that?

    No. Everything changes, especially people, especially their attitudes and abilities.

    On top of that, everyone has bad days. Imagine being ranked or rated on one of those, and your future decided thereby.

    What would we think of Einstein if the only thing that survived of his work was his "cutting edge" papers from 1936-1955, OR, his wrong paper he sent out with his first resume post-PhD which didn't get him a single academic job offer?

  17. Hi Steven,

    "Are you the same person you were five years ago, or the same five years ago compared to five years before that?"

    Excellent question. But before we get to philosophical, it's - as so often - a matter of definition. What do you mean with 'person.' A collection of specific atoms? Then, arguably, I'm not the same person as 5 years ago. A collection of atoms that form a self-aware, conscious, etc system. I guess I'm still that person. Or do you count different states of connectivity in one of that system's subsystems as different persons. Then I'm a different person again. But in this case I'd argue nothing real (as opposed to platonic) stays the same anyway, there being an arrow of time and all, so speaking of something not changing is uninteresting anyway.

    Tempus fugit - Memento mori.

    Either way, the root of the question is whether there's things that can't be quantified and what they are. I'd argue that for all practical purposes anything with a too large number of relevant variables can't be quantified. If you want to quantify it, you always have to make a selection and then you'll always only see what you chose to look at. That's the problem as I see it. You're inevitably biased because you will only see a shadow of reality. Humans have too many unknown unknowns to quantify their qualities. Best,


  18. I agree, let's not get philosophical.

    From Physics, no, Chemistry: We don't understand how the brain works. We know much, and mostly what we know is how much we don't know. We ask "what is consciousness?" Can't answer it, sorry, not enough data.

    Oh wait, I know, let's hire more people to collect more data, and sommmmeday, a theorist will ingest it all and phenomenologically explain it.

    But not in our lifetime.

    In the meantime, what data we have is used to make gross qualitative decisions about people, without actually sitting down with and getting to know the person!

    Managers in Atlanta make decisions about workers in Big Loins Arkansas based on computer metric. How do they know?! Well, they know how many packages that person loaded on a truck, on average, in August, compared to his contemporaries. Maybe someone there, on the bubble, was the star loader, but he found out his wife had cancer, and was going through the motions that month and had an off month. Well, the numbers aren't there, so let's fire him.

    An that's a simple example. Most people's lives are far more complicated.

    At 20, most people are single. A whole set of problems and questions beset them and interfere in their work lives.

    At 25, half are getting married or about to.

    At 30, most are married.

    At 35, most have kids.

    Different ages, same people, different sets of problems.

    The one unifier is experience. Every 5 years we get noticeably more. We change our minds. Some things were were sure of we're unsure of, some of which we were unsure of we are now sure. Until the next damn thing happens, and we change our minds again.

    Same person has the same name and the same ID numbers, and they don't look that different save for hairstyles. But for all intents and purposes: different.

    You wrote:
    Either way, the root of the question is whether there's things that can't be quantified and what they are.

    Attitude. It changes, and the changes are unpredictable. Like the weather. Or the stock markets.

    That's the problem as I see it. You're inevitably biased because you will only see a shadow of reality. Humans have too many unknown unknowns to quantify their qualities.

    That's another good point you made, Bee. The "shadow" thing. Omnipotence is a dream, so much so we've made up mythical beings that have it, and people give money to humans who say they can explain the omnipotent one's (ones') thoughts.

    I'm sure Plato will weigh in shortly with a link to Penrose's triangular spheres bit from Road to Reality re the Platonic ideal World, the Physical World and the Mathematical World.

    Unknown unknowns? How very Rumsfeld of you. :-)

  19. The same goes for the evolution of technologies, economies and societies. The poverty of the conception that economic markets tend to unique equilibria, independent of their histories, shows the danger of thinking outside of time. Meanwhile the path dependence that Brian Arthur and others show is necessary to understand real markets illustrates the kind of insights that are gotten by thinking in time.Lee Smolin

    Metric and Measure seem synonymous in time, so this is a overall classification, one you would assume is mathematically pleasant with all that exists within this realm;) So you have to be consistent with this and the idea is if a scientist can build it, they will come.


  20. Oh yes a fluid.....not a gas.:)

  21. Gas is a fluid. As is plasma. As is surface physics in solids.

  22. Bee decries sciences' sloppy production becoming tightly managed nostalgia plus prediction. The "singularity" says all curves converge. Analyze, then watch it happen. Absent success, analyze more.

    Starting with Harvard Math 55, Lisa Randall is among the best of the best. Randall made a big string theory splash. Ed Witten is singular. Every performance metric puts Randall and Witten top of the heap. Now what?

    Now nothing. String theory is sterile. Qualified minds do string theory or starve. Little different is funded, for the managerial risk of failure and absence of Media content. Pure science has become sociology, economics, the Pentagon. It is all about models, extrapolations, publicity, and subsidies - not results. When Hell's Bells Laboratories became Lucent, DCF/ROI said "end it." The analysts' jobs remained secure.

  23. YEAH! Take THAT, Witten! :-)

    Actually, Bell Labs Physics Research is still operating, so it's not technically dead, Al. And it's Alcatel/Lucent now, not just Lucent.

    Pat Russo did her dirty deeds all in the name of the mighty (mis-)investor. She's gone now, thank goodness.

  24. Am not sure Hydrodynamic model predictions are calculated same in gas as fluid?:) Elliptic flow of charged particles in Pb-Pb collisions at 2.76 TeV

  25. At the recent seminar, the LHC’s dedicated heavy-ion experiment, ALICE, confirmed that QGP behaves like an ideal liquid, a phenomenon earlier observed at the US Brookhaven Laboratory’s RHIC facility. This question was indeed one of the main points of this first phase of data analysis, which also included the analysis of secondary particles produced in the lead-lead collisions. ALICE's results already rule out many of the existing theoretical models describing the physics of heavy-ions.2010 ion run: completed!

    While one would think a Platonic relationship with such perspectives around the beginning of the universe....I still think it natural to think of this as part and parcel of the views within time?

    I am sure that Stefan and Bee will look at this according to the limits they had currently taken it.


  26. Plato, you confuse liquid with fluid, in that you equate them. A liquid is a fluid, but only one kind. Like I said. So sorry for being a weenie, but when you talk of liquids, use the word "liquids". Fluids include liquids, but include the other things I stated as well. This is important, because the change between various fluid states in the macroscopic world is transitional more often than not.

  27. Okay Steven,

    Ideal Fluid would in the sense be in regard to viscosity.....and only from that perspective.:)


  28. Hi Steven,

    You seem to always look at the value of things in terms of achieving goals, rather then what can be had along the journey towards the goal. Yes it’s true that many if not all scientists have things they would like to solve and yet for the good ones what is discovered in the effort often becomes the more important, even while the goal remains unattained.

    “Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow.”

    “But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that defines the sides. So on we go—we have a long way—no hurry—just one step after the next—with a little Chautauqua for entertainment -- .Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it’s a shame more people don’t switch over to it. They probably think what they hear is unimportant but it never is.”

    -Robert M. Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


  29. Mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV ...

    I've always thought so, at least since All in the Family was canceled. And Columbo.

    ... it’s a shame more people don’t switch over to it.

    Most people are sheeple. An island of only wolves starves to death. Somebody should tell the Bushes.

    They probably think what they hear is unimportant but it never is.”

    No, sometimes it is unimportant, so here I have to disagree. Even among the intellectually gifted, you still have to sift through a ton of ore before you find the diamond.

    Well, that was fun. Regarding the whole zen-ish "it's the journey not the goal" thing, I was young once, with my whole life ahead of me, and I believed that too.

    Now? Now the years grow ever shorter between this moment and the eventual raging against the dying of the light, and my patience shortens in direct proportion, so no, I must disagree again; it's the goal that's important, even if the closest we get is almost there ala Moses and Dr. MLK Jr., the summit IS the thing, and will someone pls get these bloody rocks on this bloody path out of the way, it's time to sprint to the top, kthnx.

    Well, I feel bad ending on such a negative note, so here's my favorite poem, which has nothing to do with anything we've discussed so these are not the droids you're looking for, it's just a pleasant pick-me-up, anytime. Enjoy:

    by Henry Gibson ... no, Robert Frost

    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I've tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if I had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.

  30. If you do not like being alone, it is because you are in poor company. The average person dreads the velvet black silence of his own mind.

    Attaching social criteria to basic research specifically excludes those who can spark the vacuum. It is safer that way.

    The safe path always leads to ruin.

  31. If you do not like being alone, it is because you are in poor company.

    Excellent. To which I would add: If you're not your own best friend, seek a competent consulting psychologist. They can help, they cure attitude problems, which everyone has from time to time, geniuses doubly so since the platonic ideal of meritocracy ain't the way the world works in spite of the logic of that view, in which case the downward spiral of the elite mind is doubly damned.

    The problem of course is finding a competent one. They all present themselves as such.

    Thoreau's Walden Pond is excellent, but what's left out is he went to his mother's for a home cooked meal once a week, and for supplies. Cheater. :-)

    The average person dreads the velvet black silence of his own mind.

    Close, I would say all persons with less than 100 IQ, you know, Bush voters and American Idol fans. But I can see why you say that, because from your point of view, "average" is 99% of people. It's a price geniuses pay for being so. Among other costs.

    Attaching social criteria to basic research specifically excludes those who can spark the vacuum. It is safer that way.

    But isn't "security" what life is all about, for most people and regardless of IQ? Because without security, there is no life seeing how death kinda gets in the way of accomplishing anything. 80% of people are good Samaritans, I've found. Moreso in the country and less in the cities. The others are why we have locks on our homes and cars.

    The safe path always leads to ruin.

    I wouldn't say "ruin" so much as anonymity. There is a great pleasure for many, even if it's subconscious, to being "downtrodden." Fame has it's drawbacks. Being inconsequential let's them bitch more, which gives them great comfort. Masochists. With success comes responsibility, which I've found only 30% can hack.

    IMO, as always.

  32. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. Robert M. Pirsig- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

    Few would understand this Phil until they can find some relative point in their own lives that it would ring true.

    It would become effortless then wouldn't it...the way in which mountains will be climbed, when indeed it is indeed so much more the journey then actually having to actual reach the peak.

    Some unconsciously draw this picture when it seems insurmountable, and life seems the same way.

    So you look for those times relatively when it might have capture the moment that Pirsig talks about. When does one find it in their own life?

    Perhaps when you are in a pool and after a succession of breathes as you dive under, life is not just the breathe alone, but the water in which you are submersed.

    Or perhaps the runner, who has reached their wall, and finds that nothing hinders them from going on forever.

    Science can be thus too, if you are really enjoying it, while having to detail the methods in order to replicate, and then, to find an anomaly that nature puts before you for you to surmise and discover more about that nature.

    The journey is then about climbing, and the journey, in itself the lesson.


  33. On the formal side, we could consider how one accounts for elastic media and magnetic fields, as well as technical issues concerning relativistic vortices (and cosmic strings). On the application side, we may discuss many issues for astrophysical fluid flows (like supernova core collapse, jets, gamma-ray bursts, and cosmology).

    In updating this review we will obviously also correct the mistakes that are sure to be found by helpful colleagues. We look forward to receiving any comments on this review. After all, fluids describe physics at many different scales and we clearly have a lot of physics to learn. The only thing that is certain is that we will enjoy the learning process!
    Relativistic Fluid Dynamics: Physics for Many Different Scales-Nils Andersson

    Of course one always has to remain "open for corrections" and that is just part of the journey.

    It just so happens that such a question for me is about "a state of the universe" if it would acquiescence to such an equilibrium(think of the center of the vortice), then would it have ever attained a singularity?

    Of course there could be a lot wrong with the question too.:)


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  35. Hi Steven,

    Neither Pirsig nor I would suggest that the goal as not being important, as like the sides of the mountain cannot exist unless the peak is there to define them. Also I wouldn’t suggest that the ascent is always an easy thing. The point being is if all that can be enjoyed is reaching the peak than such endeavour will spell disaster for most and for the few who are fortunate offer little but misery until they do. That is in terms of what is being discussed here, which is to ask what can have one wish to keep going and if you believe it to be the reward(s) found in only reaching the summit all I can say is I wish the best.

    ”The allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make. Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there they become more aware than any of the others that there’s no single or fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.”

    — Robert M. Pirsig "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"



  36. Hey Plato, thanks for that. Now if only somebody can unite Relativistic Fluidic Dyanamics with Quantum Hydrodynamics we'll all be cooking with gas, right? :-)

    Since our webhostess is a Gravity expert I think we'd all like to hear what YOU think of that paper, Bee.

    Back on topic if there are no objections:

    Johannes Koelman of The Hammock Physicist has a new post up today about "the Einstein Index", proposed to be better than the "h-Index" for ranking Physicists based on citations, here.

    It ranks Malcedena at the top, with Weinberg and Witten 2nd and Randall and Polyakov fourth.

    Thoughts, anyone?

  37. ...if you believe it to be the reward(s) found in only reaching the summit all I can say is I wish the best.

    Thanks for the well wishes, and so sorry to disagree again, but in the gross aggregate I do believe the difference between winners and losers is that winners achieve their goals and losers waste too much time smelling the roses, and when they don't reach their goals blame "society" or some such nonsense when the real reason is staring back at them in the mirror.

    I'm not saying that the journey is a BAD thing, Phil. What I'm saying is don't get caught up in the journey so much that you lose sight of the goal such that others who aren't looking around beat you to it.

    The Tortoise and the Hare is actually an evil story because in the real world the Hare wins 99.99% of the time. So we teach our children about the one stupid lazy hare that lost. Sheesh.

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  40. Hi Steven,

    Like I said I do wish you the best. As for the rest of what you said, after I it sort out, as to clear away all the red herrings, straw men and Argumentum ad hominem I’ll get back to you;-)



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  42. That was a cute link Phil, thanks. I was on the debate team in high school, which pretty much prepares you to be a trial attorney.

    To whit: when you show up for a debate, you have to be prepared to argue either side of the "Resolved" issue, because you never know which side you'll have to defend.

    I was pretty successful, I won all my debates, but I felt like scum when I had to defend a position I didn't believe in. So, no, I place Honesty and Loyalty (tied ... and I tried to logically pick one as more important than the other and couldn't) at the top of the list of all the things a person can be, so no Law Career for me (and I have the (lack of) bank account funds to prove it).

    So I may be "wrong" in your eyes or Pirsig's or even in fact, but at least I'm "honestly" wrong if so, and I hope you appreciate that.

    So yeah, think about it. Thinking is good. Works for me. I've survived 54 years thanks to reason ... and not getting cancer or hit by a bus etc.

    Choosing reason over emotion had a lot to do with that.

  43. Hi Steven,

    As stated I sincerely wish you well and would be the first to say that honesty is more often than not the best policy; that is unless of course you happen to be a reporter in Egypt right about now;-) That however doesn’t extend to being easily swayed by someone’s heartfelt commitment as thinking it being equivalent to truth. However in the end what more importantly defines between the two for me is not the certainty of truth, yet rather the certainty of intent.

    ”It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, "Go away, I’m looking for the truth," and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

    — Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance


  44. Hey, Phil, contrast and compare Motorcycle with Jack Kerouac On the Road, cuz I read and loved that book. Bear in mind I was young at the time.:-)

    ....honesty is more often than not the best policy; that is unless of course you happen to be a reporter in Egypt right about now;-)

    LOL ! Yeah, right? :-)

    And that goes double, no ... QUADruple if the reporter's name is Anderson Cooper.

    MOST American's LOVED Aaron Brown, and Cooper "Vanderbilt" kicked Aaron to the curb and stole his job. I just walk away from the TV if Cooper-douche is reporting. What a tool. Stupid CNN. What a sheeple network. At least they're not Evil like FOX.

    Is it just me, or do you get the impression that when nothing was happening that Gloria Vanderbilt's son said "Hey, Protesters! there's some Egyptian Military around the corner doing nothing too! Why not go there and throw some Molotov Cocktails or something at them! We'll catch in on video, and you'll be WORLD famous!"

    God, what an asshole.

    Thank goodness for Christine Amanpour. As least she's reasonable.

  45. Hi Steven,

    Moral dilemma?

    Even if you knew it to be wrong, you would argue for it's position to be right because in science it is defensible from a historical lesson based on Socratic institution?:)

    Lee doesn't do it that way as it is "not measure-ale" in time:)

    Imagine, coming from me?:)

    After all the education, and least of it "in me," the "Cognitive sense" is more the unification of that history with today's world(liberal Arts?), as it evolves from an emotive understanding(art) that intellect by itself is nothing more then dry ice, and that the (r)evolution is a factor in which we must acknowledge our work to illustrate where it leaves off.

    Not being swayed by logic, but by it conclusion? That emotively such logic is moved to a "higher location" for consideration.

    Would you rather leave a scar?

    It's not about being a lawyer, and that in itself "might be the life lesson?";)

    Theoretical models, based on ideal relativistic hydrodynamics with a QGP equation of state and zero shear viscosity, fail to
    describe elliptic flow measurements at lower energies but
    describe RHIC data reasonably well
    Elliptic flow of charged particles in Pb-Pb collisions at 2.76 TeV

    Of course you deferred to our hosts so that is essential because of where they "left off."

    Throw around a term like QGP and it is meaningless if repeated enough "without the information" to extend it's history? Sunny with scattered papers?:)

    Measurable, or religious, moved by weather or reason?

    So the position is not about being "defensible" but of moving to the "next step.":)Effortlessly does not mean you do not do the work, or what use "debating in defense of" is "not realized" until this point.


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  47. What are you talking about, Plato?!

    I went 5-0 in debate in positions I believed in, then when in the 6th debate I won in a debate taking the position I disagreed with the rules dictated I WAS REQUIRED TO TAKE take, and won that too, I quit the team in disgust.

    As far as defending "lawyers" here, you'll win few friends and therefore few arguments.

    And we can't really make lawyer jokes, because lawyers don't like them and the rest of us don't think they're jokes. :-p

    But "The Law is the Law", whatever one thinks. Rules is Rules. Good? Bad? Indifferent? Doesn't matter.

    "The Law" stopped being about "justice" and became about "advocacy" a long time ago. Right around the time the first lawyer was hired. Mouthpieces, loaded guns.

    And yet ... the fiction of Scott Turow is awesome. :-) But it's fiction.

  48. LOL:)

    looking toward such thoughts as if:

    I turned the corner because it is not about emotions, life and death I am on the trail with a more enhanced version of logic approaching it from.....and all is right with the world:)

    Come are "all that," and more.:)

    Like you were trying to run away from if it would make a difference...yet some scientists think about the multiverse, and their name may be Gross, or, the list of seven who support and we categorize Multiverse according too...they didn't sound that religious to me:)


  49. Lets make it a quorum, I'll write a post and make "measure the issue" and the list of authors who writ about are somehow classified according to some index?

    We know how that works...sing a song about string theory and all it's evil in touch they are with reality as if your "against symmetry?":)

    Plato, sure can take a beating:)


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  51. Hi Plato,

    Sounds good. But imagine if this were the day of the 7th game of The Stanley Cup, because today is America's Super Bowl, which means to us what said game would mean to you, so count me out of the current discussion until tomorrow.

    Hasta la vista, baby,



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