Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Physics and stuff ...

Over at Cosmic Variance, Sean Carroll has a post on how even (even !) Einstein had trouble getting one of his papers accepted for publication by the great physics journal Physical Review. This episode is recounted in an article in a recent issue of Physics Today.

John Tate, the journal's editor, sent Einstein the comments made by an anonymous referee. A pretty routine procedure, but one that so upset Einstein that he sent this letter to the editor:

Dear Sir,

We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you our manuscript for publication and had not authorized you to show it to specialists before it is printed. I see no reason to address the—in any case erroneous—comments of your anonymous expert. On the basis of this incident I prefer to publish the paper elsewhere.

Respectfully [...]

Read the Physics Today article to figure out who was on the right side of things in this dispute.

While we are on physics, Clifford Johnson, Sean's co-blogger at Cosmic Variance, has a post about a book on physics and comics (titled, appropriately, Physics and Superheroes) written by James Kakalios, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota; a longer article about the book is here. Do read Caolionn O'Connell's earlier post in which Kakalios says in his comments:

The sneaky aspect is that there's not a single inclined plane or pulley in sight. Rather, ALL the examples come from comic books, and in particular, those cases where they get their physics right.

Talk about sneaky and inclined planes! Just this afternoon, we were talking about all those horrendously complicated physics problems one encounters in the Joint Entrance Examination conducted by the IITs. You know, ... , the kind of problems wherein you are supposed to use a magnetic cylinder rolling down an inclined plane to calculate the age of the universe ... or something like that.

While still on physics, and all the hardships it imposed on us during our adolescent years, I think it is about time we indulged in a bit of shaudenfreude? Read this NYTimes article on how two groups are fighting over bragging rights to the discovery of the tenth planet in the Solar system.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Hey...glad you talked about Einstein and Phys. Rev. I was going to include it in Everything Scientific....but decided against it :-))

  2. Abi said...

    Thanks, Sunil. The Physics Today article is really great, isn't it? Can you believe Physical Review published not one, but two earlier papers by Einstein without any peer review? No wonder he was pissed when he found out that the third paper went through a review.