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Why am I doing this? April 17, 2009

Posted by calvinus in Uncategorized.
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Following on from my initial toe-dipping exercise in the world of blogging, my initial reaction is entirely positive, with one slight caveat.

I have been somewhat surprised by the quick encouragement and helpful pointers that I’ve received so far. Being jaded and a little cynical tends to be my stock in trade these days although I do try to be as encouraging and helpful as possible to young, impressionable postgrads. So, following on from Peter Murray-Rust‘s and Egon Willighagen‘s comments, why am I doing this? Do I know?

I mentioned before that I feel it is a duty. This is true but it is not the only thing. Back in “the real world” I tend to be something approaching a chemical evangelist. Part of me enjoys trying to put this across, so I want to take this opportunity to do this..but this is also an opportunity to improve this communication. Learn by doing, and all that. Do I have an audience in mind? Probably not. Is this wrong? The idea is to start off someplace and see where we go from there. Maybe a 6-month review and a year long probationary period is required. Young lecturers have to do more – 2 years of probation and a compulsory period in purgatory (a.k.a. a post-graduate certificate in higher education) is needed.

It is all good fun. The caveat? Time. There is a lot of things to cogitate on in my line of work. Lots of things to mull over in public and it would be good to get some constructive thoughts back in return. The problem is finding the time to put something coherent down in the first place. (Unlike this!) It will get there. I will also learn the finer points of trackbacks and the like… Onwards and upwards!

Talking of Cold Fusion April 13, 2009

Posted by calvinus in Cold fusion, Physics.
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I previously mentioned cold fusion, my memory being given a bit of a kick by recent events at an American Chemical Society meeting.  Good to see people are still plugging away at the less fasionable (to say the least) areas of research.  Cold fusion still on the agenda, even if it is not still called that for fear of inviting accusations of quackery.

Many thanks to the New Scientist for digging out the original press conference video.

Beware the perils of publishing hot (or cold) science through routes that are not peer reviewed!  Bloggers beware.

Blogging – It’s All Academic April 10, 2009

Posted by calvinus in Blogs, Communication of science.
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As alluded to before, been away quite a bit, mostly work orientated.  The upshot is that this blog, although started with good intentions (not unlike the road to Hell) has had a bit of a hiatus.

So it was with good timing that I have just read Peter Murray Rust’s advice to an eScientist. There is a lot of sage advice to the electronically green and I suspect the most pertinent in my case is choosing a theme for the blog.  I am not really sure about making a choice here; I was hoping that this would evolve into something natural over time.  On verra.  However, I couldn’t help but raise a wry smile at the following quote:

On the technical side

  • Blogging can take longer than you think.

No shit Sherlock!  It is probably telling that I have resumed blogging whilst away on holiday!  This may be in part due to the fact that I know I have a large chunk of marking to do when I get back to work…

Hostile Higgs April 10, 2009

Posted by calvinus in Physics.
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Catching up on my back issues of the New Scientist (to say I have been away is an understatement, possibly more of that later), I noticed the following:

Gloves come off in race to find the Higgs

(Apologies if you can’t see all of the article)

Who said science couldn’t be exciting?  Two massive research projects slugging it out to be the first to find “the” sub-atomic particle du jour.  The combined budgets of CERN and Fermilab mean these are big beasts.  Both of whom are racing to discover the God particle (or God damn particle depending on your sensitivity).  If there is a winner, great kudos awaits.  OK, we are not at the same level of competition as happened during the Manhattan Project (fortunately!) but this is still thrilling, sexy science.  Big projects, big budgets, big questions, big risks.

Now, can someone find me somthing as massive and as heavy in chemistry?  I need to recruit more students to the cause.  Cold fusion, anyone?