Monday, October 26, 2015


1. A profile of the the prolific Lowell Wood (Bloomberg).

It chronicles the story of an F student, as he accumulated more inventions than Thomas Alva Edison.
This habit [of obsessive reading] goes back at least five decades. “I went to hear Linus Pauling lecture when I was a student,” Wood says. “Afterward I waited until everybody else went away, and then I asked him frankly, ‘How do you come up with these huge number of wonderful ideas?’ He said, ‘There’s really nothing to it all. You just read, and you remember what you read.’”
“It’s frankly illiterate to not be optimistic. We’re going to see a blossoming across essentially every front, unprecedented in human technological history. This is not something that’s hoped for. This is baked in the cake.”
2. On the folly of Big Science awards (NYT)
Dr. Allison’s work is surely impressive. But it occurred alongside and in dialogue with a number of related findings. Researchers analyzed the citations that led to Dr. Allison’s drug and concluded that it relied on work conducted by 7,000 scientists at 5,700 institutions over a hundred-year period. Yet only he was recognized. 
And there’s yet another problem. By honoring breakthroughs, award committees reinforce the misconception that science is all about discoveries, when the cornerstone of science is replication and corroboration of results, which ensure that a finding is real and not a false lead.
3.  Shinichi Mochizuki and the Impenetrable Proof (Nature)
Three years on, Mochizuki's proof remains in mathematical limbo — neither debunked nor accepted by the wider community. Mochizuki has estimated that it would take a maths graduate student about 10 years to be able to understand his work, and Fesenko believes that it would take even an expert in arithmetic geometry some 500 hours. So far, only four mathematicians say that they have been able to read the entire proof.

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