Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Sean at 6:14 pm, August 24th, 2005
Over the last fifteen years, the way that physicists communicate research results has been revolutionized by arxiv.org, the preprint server devised by Paul Ginsparg (formerly xxx.lanl.gov). 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 arxiv.org. 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 arxiv.org. Drawing us one step closer to the use of blogs as research tools.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
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
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.