30 June, 2010

Getting married is dangerous

Willis Lamb (discoverer of the Lamb shift) got married three times: to Ursula Schaefer when he was 26, to Bruria Kaufman when he turned 83, and to Elsie Wattson at the age of 94. He deceased the same year, soon after his last marriage. I don't believe that's a coincidence.

11 June, 2010

Boycott to Nature Publishing Group

University of California threatens Nature Publishing Group with boycott, after the publisher proposed to raise the cost of California's license for its journals by 400 percent next year.

UC faculty members wrote a letter, explicitly stating that researchers will be strongly encouraged not to contribute papers to Nature journals or review manuscripts for them, if NPG doesn't negotiate.

Seven years ago this tactics worked out with Elsevier.

09 June, 2010

Science and religion

It turns out that Georges Lemaître, who proposed the Big Bang Theory (yes, the theory itself, not the sitcom), was not only a scientist, but also a catholic priest. That's funny.

03 June, 2010

All models are wrong

My research deals a lot with different analytic models. Here are two quotes about that, a long one:

"Unfortunately, models are rarely exact. The semblance of sophistication inherent in the model and used to develop parameter estimates frequently masks their deficiencies. Models are only approximate, and their predictions when the parameter estimates are based on analysis of plant performance must be considered as approximate. Validation of the model and the parameter estimates using other operating conditions will reduce the likelihood that the conclusions have significant error."

Perry's Chemical Engineers' Handbook

But there is no need in long quotes since we have a short one that captures everything:

"Essentially all models are wrong, but some are useful."

George Box

Take care,


Pumping the journal impact factor

I found a funny last year story at the forum of Russian researchers. A guy (nicknamed ST) quotes a message that he got from the Editor of one of the physics journals after submitting a paper there:

"Editor's Final Remark
In addition to the reviewers' comments given above, I recommend the authors to address and cite the relevant articles published in "....Journal ....". Such improvement on the revised version of the manuscript would not only provide a solid background to the readers regarding the current state-of-knowledge on this topic, but also promote the awareness of the available information resources in "... Journal ....". I would appreciate authors' concern and sensitivity on this matter."

So, the Editor not even encourages, but 'recommends' citing his own journal. And such 'improvements on the revised versions of manuscripts' seem to work: in his post ST mentions that the impact factor of this journal raised from 2.7 to 3.4 within one year, which is quite a jump.

Cheating is unscientific.

Take care,