Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Brief items


Some news items:

  • Big news yesterday was the announcement at Condensed Matter Theory Center conference (I'll put up the link to the talk when it arrives on the CMTC youtube channel) by Andrea Young that ABC-stacked trilayer graphene superconducts at particular carrier densities and vertically directed electric field levels.  There are actually two superconducting states, with quite different in-plane critical fields (suggesting different pairing states).  Note that there is no twisting or moir√© superlattice here, which suggests that superconductivity in stacked graphene may be more generic than has been thought.  Here is a relevant article in Quanta magazine.
  • Here is a talk by Padmanabhan Balaram, about greed in the academic publishing industry.  Even open-access journals apparently have profit margins of 30-40% (!!).  Think about that when publishers claim that production costs and their amazing editorial experience really justify that authors pay $5K per open-access publication.  (Note to self:  get around to putting manuscripts up on the arxiv....)  The talk is also an indictment of fixation on publication metrics.
  • On a lighter note, my very talented classmate, Yale chem professor Patrick Holland with a song about Reviewer 3.  It's more mellow than another famous response to Reviewer 3.
  • I was going to write a blog post about the physics motivating the use of sticky substances on baseballs, only to discover that someone already wrote that piece.  The time is ripe for someone to try to go to the other extreme:  Some kind of miracle superomniphobic coating on the ball so that the no-slip condition for air at the surface is violated, and every pitch then travels more like a knuckleball.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link to Balaram's talk. Although I am quite cynical about the current state of academic publishing, I wasn't really aware of the history that's led us here. By the way, how do you feel about initiatives like SciPost? So far, it seems it mostly has been embraced by theorists (I guess because we have a harder time getting into the glossy journals anyway).

Douglas Natelson said...

Anon@9:56, I think initiatives like SciPost are certainly interesting. I need to think through how viable that approach is for the broader community. Certainly parts of the theory world (esp HEP) have seemingly decided to bypass conventional publishing anyway and transact much of their scholarly work on the arxiv. The problem with the current publishing culture is reminiscent of the US News grad program rankings. They're based purely on a reputational poll and thus have all kinds of problems (e.g., are they actually measuring anything?), but they've become universal currency (e.g., they really affect graduate recruiting and are used by administrators despite obvious issues). The groupthink aspect makes it very difficult to change anything, in the same way that "everyone" values glossy journal publications. Efforts like SciPost are at least trying to shake up the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Groupthink Sabine Hossenfelder explains it very nicely.


Groupthink in Science: Book Trailer "Lost in Math"