Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Same place, different template

I was forced to change templates -- so you probably have landed in the right spot, it just looks different.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Arxiv has trackbacks!

Wow. Post copied in its entirety from Cosmic Variance. Pointed to by Crooked Timber (I sub to CV, but hadn't read this yet) which was pointed to by DR on Chem-Inf. Joins the Blogosphere!

Over the last fifteen years, the way that physicists communicate research results has been revolutionized by, the preprint server devised by Paul Ginsparg (formerly Any time you write a paper, you send it to the arxiv, where its existence is beamed to the world the next day, and it is stored there in perpetuity. Along with the SPIRES service at SLAC, which keeps track of which papers have cited which other papers, physicists have a free, flexible, and easy-to-use web of literature that is instantly accessible to anyone. Most people these days post to the arxiv before they even send their paper to a journal, and some have stopped submitting to journals altogether. (I wish they all would, it would cut down on that annoying refereeing we all have to do.) And nobody actually reads the journals — they serve exclusively as ways to verify that your work has passed peer review.

So it’s exciting to see the introduction of trackbacks to the abstracts at As blog readers know, an individual blog post can inform other blog posts that it is talking about them by leaving a “trackback” or “pingback” — basically, a way of saying “Hey, I’m talking about that stuff you said.” This helps people negotiate their way through the tangles of the blogosphere along threads of common interest. Now your blog post can send trackbacks to the abstracts of papers at the arxiv! Here’s a test: I will link to my most recent paper. If it works as advertised, the trackback will appear automatically, due to the magic of WordPress.

Now, if you write a paper and people comment on it on their blogs, that fact will be recorded right there at the abstract on Drawing us one step closer to the use of blogs as research tools.

Update: In the comments, Jacques points to an explanation of some of the history; he was (probably) the first to suggest the idea, years ago (which is millenia in blogo-time).


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

New nanoparticle environmental health and safety database available

Via The Engineer 8/23/05.

From Rice and supported in part by NSF, this database collects scientific articles researching environmental health and safety aspects of nanoparticles (read press release). From a librarian point of view, it leaves a little to be desired. In fact, it might be quite difficult to find the full text of the article based on the citation given. A guide to the abbreviations use for journals might be helpful (hmm, maybe they're using the pubmed ones?). I'd love to see the DOI and a link to the pubmed record (it does list PMID, though, so you can find the article that way if you recognize the number). For the articles on environmental concerns, there's no PMID... Hmm. Don't see a list of journals referenced or a methodology of how articles are identified.

Anyway, looks like a good first step and will no doubt be useful to those working in the area.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Come on, the Washington Post writer's a wimp!

Come on, the Washington Post writer’s a wimp! (article pointed to on the Make blog)

I’ve totally been enthralled by Make since I heard about it a couple of months ago.  It’s a quarterly magazine from O’Reilly that basically features life hacks.  It’s how to actually make things…

The Washington Post article basically says that you have to be an electronics genius to use a multimeter.  Personally, I think everyone should learn that in high school (if they didn’t already learn it in elementary).  Honestly, though, you don’t have to be a teenage boy to get this magazine.  I think this is really an extension of the movement that brought us junkyard wars and monster garage and I’m all for it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Kung Fu Science :: An Einstein Year Project

This new IOP site rocks. (pointed out by Clifford on CV). Perhaps not the best science ever for my colleague with whom I have an ongoing argument regarding science for the masses but cool nonetheless.