Physics or Phiction?

Do you remember Gilligan’s Island? For many people of a certain age, “The Professor” was our first impression of what a scientist was like. Even in those simpler times, though, you probably couldn’t find anyone like the professor; a jack of all trades, he sort of knew everything about everything (except, apparently, how to make a boat).

Real scientists tend to hyper-specialize. Getting grant money, publication pages, and just advancing the state of the art means that you get more and more focused on more obscure things. It is getting to the point that two scientists in the same field may not be able to really understand each other. You see the same thing in engineering to some degree. Not many digital designers can talk about the frequency dependence of Early effect in bipolar transistors, but not many device gurus can talk intelligently about reservation techniques for superscalar CPUs.

There’s now a website that lets you guess if a physics paper title is real or if it made up jibberish. The site, snarXiv, gets the real titles from arXiv, the site that contains many preprint papers. For example, we were asked to guess if “Brane Worlds with Bolts” was a real paper or if it was “Anthropic Approaches to the Flavor Problem.” (For the record, it was the one about branes.) Give it a whirl!

8th ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition call for papers

acm_cnc2011

[Jim Davies] from the Association for Computing Machinery wrote us to let us know about a conference being hosted this fall, the 8th ACM conference on Creativity and Cognition. C&C 2011 has a lot to offer, providing an opportunity for artists, scientists, designers and educators to gather together and share their expertise via a series of group meetings, tutorials, and workshops.

We wanted to bring C&C 2001 to the attention of our readers as it is likely many of you had some level of interaction with your college or university’s local ACM chapter in the past. [Jim] wanted to point out that though the conference is slated for the first week of November, there is a deadline of April 25th for all papers and proposals. If you are interested in submitting something to the conference, it would be wise to get started soon.

The overall theme of this year’s conference is Creativity and Technology, which fits the hacking community quite well. Good luck to any of you who decide to give it a shot!