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Johannes KoelmanRSS Feed of this column.

I am a Dutchman, currently living in India. Following a PhD in theoretical physics (spin-polarized quantum systems*) I entered a Global Fortune 500 company where I am currently Chief Scientist

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Who cites who? Science funding, tenure track appointments, all that is important to young scientists gets more and more dominated by citation analysis. This is certainly true in physics. Physics is very much a cumulative endeavor. Each physicist builds on earlier work, and therefore each new physics publication will cite the papers it builds upon. It is therefore not unreasonable to link the impact of a paper to the number of citations it attracts. 


Jan 28 2011 | comment(s)

"Call it entropy [..] nobody knows what entropy really is, so in a debate you will always have the advantage.” -- Von Neumann to Shannon.

Have a look at below picture. You see a binary pattern. This pattern is formed by a hexagonal pattern of empty (yellow) spots and blue disks. The pattern repeats. If you carefully inspection the figure, you will discover that the repeating unit consists of 31 spots (with 15 of these empty, and 16 occupied). Let's consider a simple question: How many bits do you need to fully specify the image displayed?
In his book "Everything's Relative - And Other Fables From Science And Technology" Tony Rothman writes:

 "[The term] 'special relativity' is probably the greatest misnomer in the history of science"

I wholeheartedly agree. Amongst all scientific terms, the single word 'relativity' stands out as absolute record holder for triggering an astonishing amount of utter nonsense. 
You haven't seen any new hardcore physics posts entering this blog in recent weeks. Reason is a new role in my professional life, combined with a new science project that I have started in my spare time (if successful, you will definitely read more about the latter here). Both activities currently consume a lot of my time, and as there are only 1015 inches in a day, something has to give. 
What's on people's mind? Who or what is impacting us most? That is easy to decide: go to Google, put in the search field the n-gram (the sequence of n words) that describes the item you want to check,* and watch the number of hits. 

So the bigram "John Lennon" (25 million hits) is apparently more talked about than "Elvis Presley" (20 million hits). But both get beaten by "Paris Hilton" (32 million hits), who in turn is dwarfed by "Michael Jackson" (98 million). And of course, "Lady Gaga" (140 mln) is the biggest.

That's pretty clear, right?
Stupid physicists, they are doomed. Spending their whole lives searching for a theory of everything, not knowing that some eighty years ago this was proven to be logically impossible. 

The internet is full with sentiments like the above. Many such posts refer to Stephen Hawking's 2002 Dirac lecture Gödel and the End of Physics.