Also this week: it’s the end of California as we know it, PCA vs. Elvis, #MathGals, physics doom loop, remembering Napoleon Chagnon, and more.
Very interesting-looking unreviewed preprint (of which I’ve only read the abstract), quantifying the effects of getting scooped in science. In structural biology, there are negative effects on you if you lose the race to report a new protein structure (basically, your paper is less likely to appear in a leading journal). But the negative effects are much smaller than structural biologists themselves think they are. Told you so. (ht Marginal Revolution)
Math With Bad Drawings interviews the designer of the #MathGals t-shirts.
How technological advances contributed to a feat–the first free solo climb of El Capitan–that at first glance would seem to involve no technology. Interesting. (ht Marginal Revolution)
Ezra Klein interviews climate scientist Kate Marvel for his podcast.
The major cause of this stagnation is that physics has changed, but physicists have not changed their methods. As physics has progressed, the foundations have become increasingly harder to probe by experiment. Technological advances have not kept size and expenses manageable. This is why, in physics today we have collaborations of thousands of people operating machines that cost billions of dollars.
With fewer experiments, serendipitous discoveries become increasingly unlikely. And lacking those discoveries, the technological progress that would be needed to keep experiments economically viable never comes by. It’s a vicious cycle…
I found this “vicious cycle” remark interesting. Usually we think about how a scientific field’s questions and methods should change in response to technological advances. In ecology, think remote sensing, or further back, computers. Hossenfelder’s post suggests that a field’s methods also need to change because of lack of technological advances. As for her suggestion that studying more sociology and philosophy of science would help physicists better judge which hypotheses are most worth testing with a few super-expensive experiments, what do you think? I’ve found my own modest reading in philosophy of science helpful to me in deciding what ecological questions to ask and how to answer them. But I know other ecologists who haven’t found sociology and philosophy of science useful to them at all in deciding what questions to ask and how to answer them. And stick around to the very end, where she holds up ecology as another example of a field in which a previously-favored approach is running into its natural limits.
Using PCA to reconstruct greyscale images. Fun illustrative example.
Prominent anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon passed away recently. Here’s a look back at the politically-motivated false accusations of misconduct that tarred the later years of his career.
Spider-Man, Spider-Man, doing the things a spider can. Like going to the university library (ht Matt Levine). 🙂
I assume the eagle texted “hello hoomin i is in iran spendin all ur moneh lol“. 🙂