Dispatches

Diffusion in complex system: is the anomalous usual?

A brief history of anomalous diffusion as it relates to complex systems. — Haroldo Ribeiro

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Individual intelligence vs. collective wisdom?

To both philosophers and scientists, the way that the human society is organized has always been a compelling subject. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Niccolo Machiavelli may enjoy telling stories about social contracts, monarchy and oligarchy, and modern physicists and social scientists see a world full of “links” and “hub nodes”. Regardless ...

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Anthropocentrism and biology

A recent The Scientist commentary on a recent paper (D. Dickinson, et al., “ A polarized epithelium organized by beta- and alpha-catenin predates cadherin and metazoan origins,” Science, 331: 1336-39, 2011) makes some wonderful points about the working and evolution of biological systems. The first point relates to anthropocentrism: “Yet ...

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Accountability and the Research Enterprise

The Republican leadership has recently turned its attention to “wasteful” research sponsored by NSF (see YouCut for details.) In a youtube video, Representative Adrian Smith (R-Neb.) calls for Americans to search the NSF database and report “wasteful” grants and cites two projects as examples of such waste, a $750,000 grant ...

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NRC Rankings have arrived

(Revised Oct. 3, 2010) The long awaited for NRC rankings have arrived and, as expected, lots of controversy ensued. To avoid suspense, I will state up front that I am convinced that someone has finally gotten the rankings right. The notion espoused by the 1995 NRC rankings or the annual ...

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Making a bad situation worse

There is a general consensus that many things are wrong with the way U.S. intelligence agencies operate. The weaknesses of the present system have been clearly brought to light by the 9/11 commission’s report. Included in that report is a recommendation to create the new position of national intelligence director ...

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It all comes down to the people in your team.

In 2002, the Pentagon picked Paul van Riper, a retired Marine and a veteran of the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War, to lead the “enemy” forces battling US forces in the Millenium Challenge war game. Van Riper’s mission was “clearly: impossible; his forces had to contain much better ...

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Expert evaluation vs. citation analysis

The recent Nature editorial “Experts still needed” (Nature, vol 457,pp. 7-8, 2009) made me smile with amusement. There is no question that there is still a significant lack of understandingof what bibliometric measures actually measure, and that the heavy,simple-minded, use of such metrics for evaluation of disciplines,nations, organizations, or scientists ...

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