Both T. Ryan Gregory and Abbie Smith have moved into new digs. In the former case, the move was voluntary, while in the latter, it appears to have been a choice expedited by the mysterious vanishing of her old site. Update your blaggregators, and say hello to them both!
I’m actually somewhat skeeved that the old ERV site upped its chucks and huffed the æther. Last summer, before Michael Behe’s The Edge of Evolution had turned out to be a complete flop, I had started compiling a list of debunkings, several of which resided at the old ERV. Hopefully those pages can get pulled from the various archives and republished at the new site.
Other stuff of note which I’ve seen lately in my local neighborhood of Network nodes:
Both Isabel Lugo and Brian Switek have discussed the relative roles of concrete examples and abstract reasoning in mathematics education. Elsewhere, Glennda Chui points us to a description of an “ILC Fan Club” in Tokyo. Which is better: that the International Linear Collider has a fan club, or that it meets in a bar basement? Two weeks ago, the ILC Fan Club hosted an all-women panel discussion on gender equality, an area in which physics has plenty of problems still to solve.
We fret a lot these days about how to “communicate science with the public,” but reading about the “Accelerator Ladies’ Night” reminded me, in an odd way, that while science is a global enterprise, the public to which we’re trying to communicate is divided into all the diverse cultures of the human species. Consider the analogy which novelist Aya Kaida proposed for explaining neutrino experiments:
Some experiments, like the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, have measured particles zinging our way from the Sun. Other investigations produce neutrinos here on Earth; for example, K2K uses the proton synchrotron at the KEK facility in Tsukuba to make a beam of neutrinos, which is fired toward the Super-Kamiokande detector in Kamioka, 250 kilometers away. By measuring the neutrinos which arrive at Super-K, physicists can figure out what happened to them en route. Aya Kaida says that the neutrinos in the K2K beam are “cultivated fishes,” while the ones from the Sun are “wild.”
Vive la diffÃ©rence! In the U. S. and A., we might speak of animals “raised on a farm” versus “caught in the wild,” but when it comes to fish, I’m not sure we care. By and large, it’s not a distinction to which we are sensitive, and a person explaining neutrino research would reach for a different analogy. While the physics is the same everywhere on this spinning world of ours, its encounters with culture vary in all the ways we maddening mammals are able to differ.
Finally, David Guarrera, a string theory Ph.D. student at the Institvte, has posted the first in a series of essays on false vacua. Happy reading!