06 July, 2012

Some stuff for 05.07.2012

(1) Stephen Hawking's party for time-travellers. I wonder whether it was organized in order to drag attention from the recent $100 bet he lost :-)

(2) Three (!) stories in the last Nature issue about the collapse of Spanish science happening right now: [1], [2], [3]

Take care,


10 June, 2012

FBI files on Richard Feynman published

In 1955 Richard Feynman got invited to a prestigious conference in Moscow, with all the expenses payed by the Soviets.

And here we go: "The FBI found out about the proposed trip while sifting through the trash of Soviet Union Ambassador Georgi Zaroubin’s office."

In the end of the day Feynman didn't go, but the FBI surveillance continued for another few years anyway. Now we can enjoy the original documents from that time.

Take care,


02 June, 2012

Barcode for scientists

Soon every scientist will be assigned a unique number, ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID). That will be just a little tattoo on the inner side of the wrist... just kidding.

There aren't that many unique last names out there and looking for a paper by someone with a popular name might be a pain. For instance, according to statistics, the author named Y. Wang publishes more than 10 papers a day, and obviously it's not the same person :-)

Also, sometimes people change their names, use nicknames, or omit some of their initials, so introducing such unique ID's will be greatly appreciated.

The idea was around for quite a long time, with a few attempts of realization (one of those being the ResearcherID by Thomson Reuters). I hope it will work out this time.

Take care,


06 May, 2012

Two most useful papers of this week :-)

(1) D. Kobak, S. Shpilkin, M. S. Pshenichnikov, "Statistical anomalies in 2011-2012 Russian elections revealed by 2D correlation analysis", arXiv:1205.0741

A solid scientific base for what basically everyone knows already :-) Also, unlike previous analyses appearing on the internet, this one is in English, so everyone can understand it and spread the word.

(2) H. C. Mayer, R. Krechetnikov, "Walking with coffee: Why does it spill?", Phys. Rev. E 85, 046117 (2012). There is also a popular synopsis about it.

I was used to think that spilling coffee while walking (and then making innocent eyes and speeding up) was my own problem, because I basically break everything I touch. This article made me feel normal, just as everyone else. Finally, there is a scientific base for spilling coffee!

Take care,


29 April, 2012

Overlap with other authors

If you feel desperate this Saturday night and think life has no meaning – search for "by other authors" on arxiv.org. Of course, it doesn't mean all of these papers are plagiarized, but lots of fun anyway.

Take care,


14 April, 2012

Scientific Peer Review, ca. 1945

There were so many remakes on this war movie episode, but this one is probably the best. The embedding is disabled, so here we go: Scientific Peer Review, ca. 1945.

Take care,


13 April, 2012

How to write awesome conclusions

A friend of mine Jerome Loreau sent me an article:

R. Breslow "Evidence for the Likely Origin of Homochirality in Amino Acids, Sugars, and Nucleosides on Prebiotic Earth", Published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

This part of conclusions is just awesome:

"...An implication from this work is that elsewhere in the universe there could be life forms based on D-amino acids and L-sugars, depending on the chirality of circular polarized light in that sector of the universe or whatever other process operated to favor the L-α-methyl amino acids in the meteorites that have landed on Earth. Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth. We would be better off not meeting them."

Take care,


UPD. The article was temporarily retracted for alleged duplication (self-plagiarism)

19 March, 2012

How long does it take for an article to be accepted?

I posted it on facebook at some point, but it certainly deserves a wider audience :-)

Take care,


17 March, 2012

A bit of computational sound art

Batuhan Bozkurt does good stuff. It's definitely worth checking out the Otomata - a music synthesizer based on cellular automata, and Circuli - another funny music toy.

They sound the best together, and you can add rain and fire to make it just perfect :-)

Take care,


11 March, 2012

The 1917 in mathematics

You probably know that in 1917 the October Revolution happened in Russia: the bolsheviks got power and created the Soviet Union five years later. The revolution split many lives into the "before" and "after" the 1917.

Here is how famous Russian mathematician Dmitrii Menshov tells about those times:

"...In 1915 we studied function series, in 1916 - orthogonal series. And then the 1917 happened. That was a very memorable year in our lives, this year there happened an event that had drastically affected our future lives: we started looking at trigonometric series."

source (in Russian)

I wish I could care that little about anything that's not science :-D

Take care,


10 March, 2012

Boycott Elsevier

It turns out that a number of people suddenly discovered my blog and I didn't update it for a while. In a nutshell: I moved to the US, changed the research subject a little (I just have to write a popular post about my research at some point!), and things of that sort, which is nothing but peanuts :-) Here comes some funny stuff.

After coming to the US I was surprised how many people are opposing Elsevier, and deny publishing, reviewing, or collaborating with them otherwise.

The reason is that Elsevier was actively pushing so-called Research Works Act, the directive that would prohibit open-access publishing of the federally funded research. Apart from just being unscientific, this directly contradicts the NIH policy stating that the taxpayers-funded research must be freely accessible online.

This very effort was triggered by mathematicians and spread widely across the general scientists' community, a good example is the website, where everyone can sign the "boycott petition."

Finally, Elsevier withdrew the support for the act, but it seems that most of the scientists' activity was prompted by Elsevier's pricing and things of that sort alone, without people discussing the Journal of Chaos Solitons and Fractals (Google it) and 6 fake medical journals they've been publishing. A few years ago my PhD institution and I had a funny story related to it, which made some established scientists join the boycott movement (if we met - ask me in person :-).

Apparently, all that is a consequence of Elsevier being run as a money-making machine, as juxtaposed to many publishing houses ran by scientific societies, like APS, ACS, AAAS, and so on.

It's nice that we don't hear such stories about the Nature magazine that also belongs to the commercial publisher.

Take care,