Just recently, I have read a few articles that I found really interesting and wanted to pass along the pointers.
In a recent New Yorker magazine, there was an article titled Rethinking the scientific method. I found it interesting because the author showed several cases where scientists were not deliberately looking for a particular outcome. When they got some astonishing results, needless to say, their publications created a buzz. If they instead found a less interesting result, the desire to publish (either the scientist's or the publisher's) may be less, so there tends to be a bias for publishing flashy results. Only problem is, sometimes they are outlier results. Publishing the updates are often deflating, nor do people necessarily buy into the newer information readily.
The second story is actually one I heard on National Public Radio and talked about the contents of an article published in Science magazine: Google Opens Books to New Cultural Studies. With Google scanning in so many books, some biologists from Harvard are studying the trends in word use over time by authors to see what cultural trends emerge.
Finally, reading my recent copy of Physics Today, which is mostly focused on the life and scientific contributions of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, there is a lovely reprint of a talk Chandrasekhar gave in 1979 on Beauty and the quest for beauty in science. I found his thoughts quite poetic. One reason this resonates with me, even though I am galaxies from his league, is because I find that beauty is inherent in well-written code, in well-formed designs, all over the place. And that it can be a travesty to not let the beauty be acknowledged and perhaps help lead choices that need to be made.
Do you have any recent technical reading recommendations? Why not share them here and spice up people's holiday reading lists! Happy New Year to all. See you in 2011.
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