Tag Archives: Astronomy

Applied mathematicians in the service of pressing global issues

Nowadays there is a diffuse border between pure and applied mathematics. The pure mathematician – an atypical scientist inclined toward the abstract – – is capable of switching at any time to the role of applied mathematician in order to address and solve the pressing global issues that threaten humanity. From assisting manned space missions to modelling the processes of ice melting or the spread of an epidemic, the applied mathematician’s contributions are crucial for humankind. The confidence we have in the truths of applied mathematics, which – within the philosophy of science – is part of the so-called Wigner’s puzzle, is a kind of evolutionary feature of the discipline. Read more [...]

Is astrophysics ready to draw a lesson from Thomas Kuhn?

Strong debates arise as scientific certainty is being questioned. Is the theory on the standard solar system undergoing changes as convergent possibilities are being questioned. Now, Pierre-Marie Robitaille, a chemist and professor of radiology from the University of Ohio, claims that the sun is not gaseous but may consist of liquid metallic hydrogen – a paradigm-shattering attack on the standard solar model that has been established for almost a century now. The problem is that evaluating Robitaille’s arguments requires expertise in very different fields – thermodynamics, astrophysics, for the sun, and condensed matter physics, for the liquid metallic hydrogen. Who has such expertise? Read more [...]

Dark matter – Missing you already

It's a moot point that perhaps only one of Einstein's papers went through the modern scientific peer review process and I often wonder whether an email received from him today suggesting that he's overturned Newton's work with talk of warped space-time and wormholes wouldn't simply fail at the first or second step of my "Fraudulent Invention Debunkifier" flowchart mentioned around this time last year on the Pivot Points column. Read more [...]

Scientists can’t network and other myths

Recently, a newly minted science doctorate asked me for some help finding a job. He had applied for hundreds of advertised openings, both postdoc and non-academic positions, but to no avail. So I asked him about his networking strategy. “What networking strategy?” he replied, clueless to what I was referring. I spent the next hour emphasising the importance of networking in finding hidden job opportunities and communicating your value to decision-makers. I outlined for him a customised networking plan which would enable him to meet and interact with professionals who have the power to hire him for the jobs he so desperately wanted. When our meeting concluded, I asked for feedback on the career consulting session – “Did you find our discussion helpful?” I inquired, thinking I was up for a major pat on the back. “No,” he said instantly. “You didn’t tell me where I can apply for a job or places where there are more advertisements for jobs.” Read more [...]