I was awoken by the heavy autumn rain early this morning, so I might as well make use of my time awake.
- Kash Farooq interviews 2011 Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt about his research and the discovery of dark energy; the audio of the interview is also available as a podcast. (For more on dark energy, here’s my Nobel post and an explanation of how dark energy drives cosmic acceleration.)
- Peer review of scientific papers is like democracy: it’s the worst possible system, except for all the others. It’s slow, it can be horribly arbitrary, it’s dominated by egos and rivalries, and plenty of bad papers still get through. Michael Eisen lays out the major criticisms of peer review (from his own field’s perspective, though a lot of what he says applies across all disciplines) and proposes some ideas for reformation.
- Many scientists, especially in physics and related fields, will pre-publish their results on various internet sites like http://arXiv.org. It’s not bypassing peer review; more a chance to let data and ideas get into the public sphere while the slow publication process grinds on. Sarah Kendrew explains why this isn’t a bad thing, and why blogging about research may be a net positive. As a counter-point, geologist Brian Romans explains why he won’t write about his own research before publication and why it may be a bad idea for others to do so, at least for some research. (As you probably suspect, I do have an opinion on this subject, but I’ll leave it for another day.)
- Natural and social scientists should collaborate on communication of scientific results to the public, writes Alice Bell.
- Although obviously real science has an abundance of problems with gender balance and cultural sexism, Creationism has it even worse. Josh Rosenau points out that the Discovery Institute’s “Intelligent Design” think-tank has no female fellows, and happily will engage in sexist rhetoric (when they aren’t accusing evolutionary biologists of being Nazi sympathizers).
In other news, I unfortunately had to turn down my spot in the NASA Tweetup for the upcoming launch of the Mars Science Laboratory (AKA Curiosity). However, please consider buying some t-shirts, stickers, or coffee mugs from the Galileo’s Pendulum shop, or (if you’re a scientist or student scientist) maybe one of my physics or math books.