Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hello from Maui

Greetings from the west-end of my trip, which brought me out to Maui, visiting Garrett at the Pacific Science Institute, PSI. Launched roughly a year ago, Garrett and his girlfriend/partner Crystal have now hosted about 60 traveling scientists, "from all areas except chemistry" I was told.

I got bitten by mosquitoes and picked at by a set of adorable chickens (named after the six quarks), but managed to convince everybody that I really didn't feel like swimming, or diving, or jumping off things at great height. I know I'm dull. I did watch some sea turtles though and I also got a new T-shirt with the PSI-logo, which you can admire in the photo to the right (taken in front of a painting by Crystal).

I'm not an island-person, don't like mountains, and I can't stand humidity, so for me it's somewhat of a mystery what people think is so great about Hawaii. But leaving aside my preference for German forests, it's as pleasant a place as can be.

You won't be surprised to hear that Garrett is still working on his E8 unification and says things are progressing well, if slowly. Aloha.


  1. Sabine, does this institute also reimburse travel costs (or part of it)?

    "from all areas except chemistry" Cowards!

    "it's somewhat of a mystery what people think is so great about Hawaii"
    Hawai'i was conquered by the Dole fruit company, spam is sold as food, and Mauna Kea telescopes (pissing off local deities). There's the hula - left behind in the dust by Tahitians' hip tossing and much nicer bellybuttons. It is better than treading seawater or being in North Dakota, right?
    LuboŇ° says you are not a nice person.
    You could send him some well (rotted) fermented poi.


  3. "Other physicists are more optimistic about the method’s prospects for solving the information paradox, including Sabine Hossenfelder of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies in Germany. She says that the results on soft hair, together with some of her own work, seem to settle a more-recent controversy over black holes, known as the firewall problem. This is the question of whether the formation of Hawking radiation makes the event horizon a very hot place. That would contradict Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, in which an observer falling through the horizon would see no sudden changes in the environment."
    Hawking’s latest black-hole paper splits physicists

  4. Noticed your tweet about arXiv problems. I tried to leave a comment on the blog there but it didn't work. (This is getting more and more common and people who oursource their blogs don't know how to fix it, and there reader doesn't know how to contact those who can.) So, I'll start a comment thread here, referring to that blog post and the comments there:

    Yes, this is a real problem but if you want to discuss this problem sensibly, do not even mention viXra or archivefreedom. Are you even familiar with these sites?

    viXra is essentially 100 per cent crackpot. It is certainly not an "alternative" to arXiv for serious researchers. In fact, I think that posting something there would, correctly, mark you as incompetent. Either the work is incompetent, which is true of most of the papers there, or you can't even notice that almost everything there is crackpot. What's the point? The point is not to get the paper available. To do that, just stick it on your own web server or whatever. The good thing about arXiv is that it is a one-stop shop. Either you are there, or you are nowhere. Even refereed-journal papers might be ignored if they are not at arXiv. (In part, this is because, in many cases, access is only via overpriced fees.) This is why arXiv has to be run correctly. I think it is fair to say that if you put a good paper at viXra, no serious scientist would notice it.

    archivefreedom goes on and on about Brian Josephson. Yes, he won the Nobel Prize. This does not, and should not, give him the right to publish crackpot stuff, on arXiv or anywhere else. Kudos to arXiv for treating him like any other crackpot.

    In other words, folks, don't make the "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" mistake.

    Another serious problem: People with experience like this will probably not speak out publicly, for fear of being banned forever, which in today's scientific world is worse than excommunication in the middle ages.

  5. Only Bee has the qualifications required to be pecked by chickens named for quarks. Six sigma events are best described by six sigma people. :)

  6. So it is only "most of the papers" that are incompetent on viXra then? If any proportion of the papers are good then viXra is a success. The numbers of papers we get submitted to viXra each year has increased steadily by 25% and if everyone who has trouble posting on arXiv uses it we might soon overtake them. Personally I think all the papers have value in one way or another but anyone is free to form their own opinion.

    It is silly enough that people judge a paper by which journal it gets in, but it is total madness that people think it matters which repository is used. It is not the purpose of repositories to give a paper credibility by accepting them. That can only be done through peer-review and further work verifying them, or building on them after that. Do people judge a blog on blogspot by comparing it to other blogs on blogspot? I don't think they do. The same should be true for papers on arXiv and viXra. The only purpose of such repositories is to provide an independent place to store papers openly and indefinitely with a timestamped record of updated versions. viXra does that just as well as arXiv does. Sticking them on your own webserver does not.

    arXiv is not a "one-stop shop" people find papers from all over the place via citations and web searches for example. Our stats show that newly submitted papers on viXra are just as likely to be read as arXiv papers. Apart from our openness we have the added advantages of download stats and comment boxes which arXiv is afraid to provide. We also do it on a budget of less than $1 per submission (supported by donations) which is about a tenth of what arXiv costs. The hecklers who want research to be vetted by academics before it can be seen are not likely to stop us any time soon.

  7. Phil, Phillip,

    First, could you please move this discussion to that comment section?

    Second, for wha viXra is concerned, I think you don't understand the issue. No serious researcher will make the effort of scanning a repository in which the majority of submissions are low-quality, even on the risk of missing the one that is not nonsense. It's a bad investment of time.

    I don't have a particular problem with that website, I think it serves a function in a particular community and that's beneficial for everyone involved. But don't tell me they serve the same function because they simply don't.

    Your comparison to blogger doesn't work because nobody reads all blogs on blogger, there are too many. The question is exactly where do you get a good filter. Best,



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