Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The APS April Meeting

Sean talks and links about the APS April Meeting. I've got a love/hate relationship with such things. It's always nice to hear new and interesting things. But it's hard looking around and wonder how some of these people get invited to give talks (many talks are "contributed" meaning that no one invited them and they're short!).

Although good work almost always gets rewarded, many is the time that simply because one person may have a powerful advisor, s/he gets invited to give a talk. And of course, if one has a stormy relationship with your advisor, you better be working on something other people like a lot!

Picking your PhD supervisor

Seeing this interesting piece (as referenced by Steinn->Pharyngula), reminds me that part of the reason I'm an angry physicist is my advisor. He's a superjerk.

And I'm stuck with him. When I apply to other faculty jobs, I need his letter. What would a department think of someone who couldn't get a letter from his/her supervisor? It seems crazy that so many years after getting my PhD, I still have to be nice to this person.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Physicists aren't Dorks

PZ Meyers links to an interview with Richard Feynman at Google Video, asserting that not all physicists are dorks. I don't take any offense. In fact, I think the opposite is true. The more social, friendly and outgoing the physicist is, it seems the better they do. Sounds like the corporate world, no? Does to me. I don't begrudge those successful, friendly physicists, but what is distasteful are those who do well due primarily to their connections, cliquishness, and self-promotion and in spite of their failures as a scientists.

Not only could one argue "it's not fair" (I don't, so spare me the "the world is not fair" response), but such deviations from a meritocracy are demoralizing to the young researchers trying to get permanent jobs.

Does "breakthrough" imply first?

Slashdot is reporting on what appears to be a NASA press release about a "breakthrough" computation of the merger of two black holes. It's always good for physics to get such exposure. However, the article hardly gives any credit to other groups who have reported similar (if not better) results somewhat before them:

Progress also has been made independently by several groups, including researchers at the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Of course, this is just a press release, and from NASA no less (for an example of the problems faced by the NASA PR office see here).

Monday, April 17, 2006

Conferences at Resorts

Steinn complains about some new NASA policy about not having conferences at resorts. No sympathy here, most physics conferences are at really boring places such as DC and Dallas. And usually they pick an expensive, yet not well run hotel which charges for Internet, parking, and breakfast.

There is the occasional program at Santa Barbara's KITP (check out how close the beach is) so I guess I really shouldn't complain.

Physics Blogs on the Web

As suggested by the title of this blog, here is meant to be a place to vent. And also, of course, to pass on various nuggets of wisdom. I hope to avoid any personal attacks (ala Lubos Motl), but I do believe there's a place on the web where not everything is rosy, not every talk is fascinating, and not everyone is nice...nothing against Mark Trodden, but to see what I mean take this as an example. Also, various issues come up that I'd like to comment on (even if no one reads it) as opposed to logging in and adding to some comments.

First Post

It's my first post and it's already a time sink.