Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Still sticking with science ...

Rob Knop has a nice post on how simulations can never be "better" than experiments (er, in the sciences). For people like me whose professional work is centred on simulations of physical systems, this is a mantra that's worth repeating many times a day, just to keep our over-enthusiasm in check. While there are tons of neat (and advantageous) things about simulations (and many, many good reasons why simulations are important and worth doing), the meme that "simulations might (somehow) be 'better' than experiments" is not one of them.

My favourite quote about simulations:

No one gets wet in a simulated thunderstorm.
-- Cosma Shalizi


  1. Anonymous said...

    actually, it can be. If you are a student frustrated by the random behaviour of the experimental world with a lot of things that can go wrong, the simulated world would be a great convenience, where everything is ideal unless made otherwise, which makes it such a joy to work with. :)

    PS. This is coming from a frustrated ex-student who had a theory that all 'robots' were scheming against him.

  2. Abi said...

    MadHat: Yes, simulations are better in terms of 'convenience'. But, are they really 'better'?