Pamela Paul is standing up for MERIT in scientific publishing. Of course, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but her friends in the Intellectual Dark Web gave her a convenient press release to work from.
My colleagues who publish in professional journals have mostly responded to Paul, rather than to the paper and press release she is working from. The paper is inappropriate for the one journal she mentions, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, because the PNAS publishes short technical papers, and this is a long polemic.
I’ve thought that scientific journals could benefit from publishing more polemics, but polemics on chemical and other scientific issues. That’s not what this paper is about. It is about practices in journal publishing that the authors disapprove of. They frame their polemic in terms of merit versus identity.
Reporter: Here’s my idea. This group at the University of Chicago is working on quantum computing, and they have the coolest setup in a basement closet. So this Einstein-grade science in a humble beginning. Great photos of equipment with lots of wires. Starting from nothing. Make computers unhackable.
Editor: Wow, so great! Ties in with that Nobel Prize for quantum something. At the forefront of one of the world’s hottest technology competitions.
A rotifer that was frozen in the permafrost for 24,000 years has been thawed out, and it has reproduced asexually. It is of the commonest kind, a bdelloid rotifer. We have bdelloid rotifers around us everywhere, even in desert dust. They are hardy little guys and form spores, much as the cuddlier tardigrades do, but not quite as durable.
I “discovered” rotifers with my first microscope, when I put a handful of leaves in water and let the jar sit in a warm place for a few days. The little “mixmasters” on their heads intrigued me.
I didn’t know what they were and couldn’t find them in a book. My biology teacher was unhelpful. I’m not sure when I learned their name. Later, I met Professor Robert Lee Wallace, who is one of the world’s experts on rotifers. He told me this morning that the rotifer world is very excited. They knew the little beasts were durable, but this is more than they expected. They will compare the old ones’ genome with the genome of bdelloid rotifers found in the same area today.
Happy New Year! Twenty years ago today, I came back to work after the holiday to find a faxed invitation that began my Estonian adventure. Top photo: The marker for the Sillamäe tailings pond cleanup, 2011.
Neil deGrasse Tyson has been taking some lumps lately. He is the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium and comments on science in various media. A couple of months ago, he ventured into biology unsuccessfully. Now he’s said that the universe may be a simulation created by other beings and has been getting pushback. Read More