- Celebrity scientist Lawrence Krauss has written an article (pdf) about whether celebrity scientists are good for society, and noting that celebrity \(\ne\) greatest scientific researcher, necessarily. In response to the title ("Celebrity scientists: Bad for science or good for society?") it's tempting to be snarky and respond "Why not both?". Note that this guy is conspicuously absent from the article.
- Hat tip to the Angry Physicist for pointing out this article about the US military academies. I found it genuinely shocking. I'd always had the impression growing up, based on anecdotes I guess, that West Point and Annapolis in particular were incredibly selective and could be very academically demanding. The academy graduates I've met over the years had only reinforced this idea by being very impressive people. I was very dismayed to read about the apparently low academic standards.
- I was dismayed by two NSF-related issues in the last week. First, NSF has gotten increasingly rigid about enforcing minutia of their guidelines over the last couple of years. This is particularly frustrating when combined with guidelines that are themselves ambiguous (e.g., saying that a preproposal must include certain items, but not saying whether other items like collaboration letters are desired, or worse, forbidden because adding extra material can be grounds for getting bounced without review), and then being hard to reach for clarification. This is a further sign that they are understaffed and overwhelmed.
- Second, in the Major Research Instrumentation call, NSF no longer allows grant funds to pay for technical staff. That means that an approach that had previously been extremely helpful (have NSF pay for 75% of a staff person the first year, 50% the second, and 25% the third, so that a university can taper in technical staff support over time) is no longer possible.
- An old friend of mine does an excellent podcast, and he spent some time talking with me - it was really fun.
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Several items, including interesting reading
Posted by Douglas Natelson at 9:17 AM