Also this week: Earth’s magnetic field acts out to get attention (apparently), should non-experts read the primary scientific literature, and more.
If you’re only going to read one of our links this week, read Ambika Kamath on what’s next:
I’m just emerging from what turns out to have been a years-long existential crisis about the work that I do and why I do it. Why did I choose to become a scientist? Why, as a young person, did I seek refuge in the calm, often cold, realm of mathematics and science? What led me to embrace watching animals as a form of healing? After months of feeling and writing through it all, I know the answers to these questions, but those answers are not what this essay is about. This essay is asking, what next?
A bipartisan bill introduced into both houses of Congress proposes a massive reorganization of NSF, and a massive infusion of cash for it to carry out its new expanded mandate. I have no idea how likely it is to pass.
Has progress in machine learning stalled?
Dan Davies’ controversial opinion that non-experts should not bother to try to read the primary scientific literature themselves, at least not when there are qualified experts prepared to summarize the literature for them. Feel free to argue about this, and about the implications for open access publishing, in the comments.
Brian once divided scientists into those who want to understand, those who want to describe, and those who want to predict. Here’s a post from Laura Deming on what it feels like to be someone who really, really wants to understand. (ht Marginal Revolution)
I’m many years late to this, but here’s Electron Band Structure in Germanium, My Ass. (ht @kjhealy)
NOT NOW EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD, CAN’T YOU SEE WE’RE BUSY? (ht I forget who, who may have made a similar joke)