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Physicist. Overbooked. Aren't we all?

Traveling! Expect replies to be delayed and edits to be bursty. XOR'easter (talk) 20:30, 3 June 2019 (UTC)


Articles created or substantially improvedEdit

A bad way to advertise a casino
Women Disobey

I didn't think starting new pages would be my thing here, but I did create the page Ibn al-Samh, because there were multiple redlinks pointing to where it should be. In a similar vein, I happened to be looking over the WikiProject Physics quality scale, and I saw that one of its examples of mid-importance physics publications was actually a redlink. So, I created the page for Classical Electrodynamics, a.k.a. Jackson. Likewise, I started the page for Mike and Ike.

I put a little work into expanding and clarifying Gleason's theorem, and in the process, I found that we didn't yet have an article on Solèr's theorem, so I started one. I've also episodically worked on improving the article about the Bogdanov affair and the List of unsolved problems in mathematics. Finding illustrations for these was particularly fun.

During the Featured Article nomination of thorium, I made a few comments and did a little improvement work. Ditto for the Good Article nomination of Prime number.


Incendiary opinionsEdit

  1. I have grown to dislike the WP:RIGHTGREATWRONGS guideline, or at least, to find its invocation distasteful more often than not. "Wikipedia is not the place to right great wrongs!" goes the refrain, in one backroom after another. But is ignorance not a "great wrong"? Is the restriction of knowledge to the rich or the leisured not a "great wrong"? Is the perpetuation of superficialities and stereotypes at the expense of hard-won specialist expertise not a "great wrong"? In short, isn't the point of this whole project to "right a great wrong"? The words of the guideline themselves admit that it is redundant: our policies mean that "we can't ride the crest of the wave". NPOV, NOR and V already imply that "Wikipedia doesn't lead, we follow." Having a capitalized shortcut that nominally just states this over again has created, probably unintentionally, a way to yell at anyone who cares too much. Are you honest about your passion for any topic that strays beyond a line of decorum that exists only in your critic's head? You're here to RIGHTGREATWRONGS!
  2. Being "the first X to do Y", where X is a historically marginalized group, is itself an argument for notability, because such individuals matter for understanding the history of Y. Individuals A and B might be documented to the same extent and have accomplishments that nominally look the same on paper, but B can be more noteworthy than A if A's attaining that level is ordinary while B's doing so is part of a larger social change.
  3. I think WP:PROF has been a very good thing for the encyclopedia. Being able to write about people because their work is important helps us be a better reference. That said, I have slowly become more convinced that the "WP:PROF is too strict" argument has substantial merit. It does rather come across that, say, an average professional actor is wiki-notable while an average professional scientist is not. (None of the proposals I have seen to address this, like granting wiki-notability to all tenured faculty at major institutions, would make me, personally, notable. I'm fine with that.)
  4. When people complain about "canvassing", quite often one or more of the following applies: (a) they sound upset that their kingdom is being invaded; (b) they appear to have no sense of how social media is used, and has been used for many years, in the relevant outside community; (c) they'e never been on the other side of a "canvassing" request and have no sense of how reluctant people can be to start editing here. SPA's, easily tagged and ignored, just aren't a problem I can get upset about.

On writing academic biographiesEdit

  1. Sources affiliated with an article's subject, like the university where they are employed, are generally acceptable for information that is not likely to be challenged, or for which a challenge would constitute a serious effort in investigative journalism. For example, it's fine to cite a department's own website for the year in which a faculty member was hired, and it's no problem to cite a person's own CV for the date they earned their PhD. Fraud on such documents is always possible, but we should assume them reliable unless substantial evidence exists to the contrary (e.g., if a CV lists membership in "honorary societies" that don't actually exist). Rooting out that kind of deception is (usually) not our job, and the encyclopedia as a whole benefits by our being able to write about people who don't have lengthy biographical profiles in secondary sources.
  2. That said, we're not a CV host. Lists of every grant won, every student mentored, every abstract for a conference talk — no, that's not what we do. A CV is typically list-based and all-inclusive, while we write prose and exercise a degree of editorial judgment.
  3. It can be pretty obvious when a biography is written by somebody who doesn't really know how academia works on the inside.
  4. The data points that can tip the balance towards passing WP:PROF might only deserve a brief mention in an actual article. It takes a sentence to state that a person won a major award or was Editor-in-Chief of a prestigious journal, while describing their work could take many paragraphs. The former establishes wiki-notability, but the latter is why the article would be worth reading.
  5. It is usually a bad idea to make a big deal out of research that hasn't been cited by anyone other than the original authors, even if it has technically been peer-reviewed. Remember, peer review is the opinion of a couple people, while citations are the opinion of a community. This matters both when evaluating wiki-notability to see whether an article should exist or not, and when deciding how much weight to give a topic within an article. The number of marginal ideas that the scientific community has not found interesting enough to criticize is far higher than outsiders realize.

Articles for DeletionatingEdit

I started skimming the daily "Articles for Deletion" log in order to broaden my horizons at least a little. Sometimes, I end up participating. The happy outcomes are when I can help improve a page to the point where it should plainly be kept. Instances of that general nature have included the following.

Here are various other assorted discussions I took part in — some were kept and some deleted, but I didn't have much of a hand in the article text itself. This list is not exhaustive, only recording those items which I felt at the time I might have reason to refer to later.

Sweets and spiky thingsEdit

  The E=mc² Barnstar
For you assistance in making Bell test experiment more lay friendly — Preceding unsigned comment added by InformationvsInjustice (talkcontribs)
  Thanks for your work to improve Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. North America1000 22:35, 10 December 2017 (UTC)
  The Copyeditor's Barnstar
Super work on Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Rhadow (talk) 03:27, 11 December 2017 (UTC)

Oddities found while researchingEdit

According to the IMDb, Chris Tashima appeared as an uncredited extra in the Mechanical Universe episode "The Law of Falling Bodies," but I can't confirm that anywhere else. When I saw the movie Total Recall (1990), I knew that the clips that Doug Quaid sees on the monitor in the Rekall office (of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars) were from the Mechanical Universe title sequence. I figured that the moviemakers had licensed the footage. Nope: Caltech sued them for $3 million.[1]

Charles H. Bennett on QBism:

[QBism is] an interpretation, which everyone in the field admits explains the same facts as other standard interpretations, but in a way that seems compellingly but unprovably beautiful to a few people (I am not one of them, personally finding many-worlds and decoherence theory more beautiful). The multiple interpretations of quantum mechanics are not a sign of unfinished science, like continental drift or the solar neutrino problem, but rather a healthy part of the process of fitting our intuitions and concepts to nature, different blind men's descriptions of a beast stranger than any elephant. Like the multiple explanations of thermodynamic irreversibility, they will probably ultimately be seen as complementary, not one right and the others wrong. Already QBism has stimulated research, e.g. in SIC-POVM's, that one doesn't have to be a QBist to appreciate, and it has been commented on to a noteworthy degree in the popular press. [1]

  1. ^ "Schools sue Carolco over 'Recall'". Daily Variety. 3 September 1992. p. 12.