Saturday, November 03, 2012

Book Weeks

Late last September, I found the following note on the Facebook page of one of my overseas friends: "It's International Book Week. So, take the book nearest to you, go to page 54, and write the fifth sentence as your status on Facebook. Don't indicate the title. Write the rules together with the sentence. Happy reading!" (Modification of the translation by Bing from Italian.)

Following this note, the friend wrote a sentence that seemed to have been taken from an astronomy book for laypersons. The book I was reading that day happened to be of a similar kind. So, I wrote the fifth sentence on page 54 of that book in the comment column of her status message. I also wrote (in English) the above rules and the same fifth sentence, as my Facebook status. I thought that this was like a chain letter. However, I did the same as the friend, because doing so seemed to cause no adverse effect.

Later, I made a Web search of "International Book Week" and found just the explanation that it is a meme (Ref. 1). I also found a blog post (Ref. 2) which, after describing it a meme, writes the rules and the word "Let's celebrate!" In the well circulated version of the rules, the passage you should share seems to be, not fifth sentence on page 54, but page 52, line 5.

At that time, I also consulted about Reading Weeks in Japan on the Internet and found the following explanation on the Wikipedia (Japanese edition) page: "Reading Weeks are the days of two weeks from October 27 to November 9 for intensively carrying out activities to promote reading." Today, it is the day at the center of Reading Weeks in Japan. Please share page 52, line 5 of the book you are reading.

I am now reading two books in parallel, and page 52, line 5 of each of these books is as follows (you can see the titles of the books in the photo below):
"advanced stage of evolution; already several planets have been thrown"
"concern of numerology, people are the object of interest. After more"

By the way, the four Chinese characters to express "Book Weeks" in Japanese remind me of a comic strip of Sazae-san by Machiko Hasegawa. I wrote about the related story in the blog post "Comics" (Ref. 3) years ago. Please read about it there.

  1. Wikipedia: Articles for deletion / International Book Week (27 September 2012 at 16:16).
  2. Megan Frampton, Celebrate International Book Week: Share Page 52, Line 5. Heros and Heartbreakers (September 21, 2012).
  3. Comics, IDEA & ISAAC: Surely I'm Joking (October 17, 2004).

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mars Rover Curiosity Successfully Landed, and My Name Too

The Mars rover Curiosity, also known as the Mars Science Laboratory, was launched on November 26, 2011, and successfully landed on Gale Crater of the Red Planet on August 6, 2012. I was almost forgetting but participated in NASA's program of "Send Your Name to Mars." The image above shows the certificate of this participation issued on June 4, 2010 by NASA. On NASA's page of this program, it is written that our names were being prepared for etching on a microchip for the Curiosity rover to carry it on its "back" (its "deck"). So, my name must also have landed on Mars on August 6, 2012.

The Web site of Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, includes the "World Participation Map" page of the above program. On this page, we find that the number of worldwide names sent is 1246445. Countries that have the largest number of participants are as follows: United States 529386 (42.5%), United Kingdom 77329 (6.2%) and India 59041 (4.7%). Japan comes at the 46th with the number 2865 (0.002%).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Number is 2.2% of Einstein's!

I have learned that Google Inc. now provides a service called "My Citations" as part of "Google Scholar." This service automatically makes, preserves and updates a list of publications by a researcher (papers, books, etc., including those with coauthors) together with the number of citations and the lists of sources of citations. It seems to have started last summer. There is a Web page that introduces the service, telling that you can see an example of Einstein's citations (the above image). The total number of citations of his publications is currently 56,985.

As for me, the total number is 1277 (as of today; see here for a possible update) and is 2.2% of Einstein's. I certainly know this: The relative importance of the scientific contributions by Einstein to that of mine is much more than this ratio shows because of the following reason. The results obtained by Einstein soon became well known. Therefore, those are often used without citing the original paper every time. Contrary to this, it is always necessary to mention the original publication in order to use such results as are not widely known like ours.

There is another reason for the fact that the number of citations of Einstein's publications are less than expected. Compilation of citation data from earlier journals are probably not yet complete, because publication was not digitized those days (my number may also suffer this delay to some extent). This can be inferred from the graph in the above image; i.e., the number of citations per year shows a trend of decline as the year goes back in the period before 2004.

I will soon write another blog post to describe advantages and disadvantages of "My citation" service at the present stage.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Group Therapy for Particle Physics"

Peter Woit at Columbia University is known for his criticisms of string theory in his book Not Even Wrong [1] and writes essays at the blog site of the same name. One of his latest blog post was entitled "An Introduction to Group Therapy for Particle Physics" [2]. The title comes from the subtitle of one of the books reviewed in the latest CERN Courier [3]. He writes, "Group Therapy for Particle Physics (at least for particle theorists) seems like an excellent idea."

I have not read the book Not Even Wrong but read the following passage in the book description on an Amazon Web page:

"Not Even Wrong" shows that what many physicists call superstring “theory” is not a theory at all. It makes no predictions, not even wrong ones, and this very lack of falsifiability is what has allowed the subject to survive and flourish.
This view can certainly lead to the thought that string theorists need "therapy." So, Woit is surely joking here. In fact, "Group Therapy" in the subtitle of the book is a typo, which should read "Group Theory." At the end of his blog post, Woit added three other examples of the same typo in publications related to group theory.

I also saw the same typo on the occasion of "Third International Workshop on Electron and Photon Transport Theory" held in Indianapolis in 1999. On the name tag of participants, the title of the workshop was printed as "Third International Workshop on Electron and Photon Transport Therapy" [4].

  1. P. Woit, Not Even Wrong (Basic Books, 2006; paperbound 2007).
  2. P. Woit, "An Introduction to Group Therapy for Particle Physics," Blog site Not Even Wrong (January 24, 2012).
  3. Bookshelf, CERN Courier (January 25, 2012).
  4. T. Tabata, "Stolen Joke," Web page Surely I'm Joking!: A Physicist's Personal Essays (August 18, 1999).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Einstein's Equation for Success

The equation for the equivalence of mass and energy, E=mc2, was discovered by Albert Einstein, and is particularly popular. Do you know Einstein's equation for success in life? It is also quite simple and yet has a deep meaning.
If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut. — Albert Einstein
Rewriting the above words in the form of an equation, we get:
A = x + y + z,
where A = success, x = work, y = play, and z = (mouth shut).

We know the following two proverbs: (1) All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (2) Speech is silver, silence is golden. Einstein succeeded in unifying these proverbs into a single equation, though his quest for a unified theory of everything was too much ahead of time and fruitless.

I have learned the above words of Einstein from Ref. 1, but do not find them at least in the original edition I have of Ref. 2.

Note added later: The source of Einstein's words given here is described in Ref. 3 as follows:
Said to Samuel J Woolf, Berlin, Summer 1929. Cited with additional notes in The Ultimate Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice and Freeman Dyson, Princeton UP (2010) p 230.

  1. RSICC Newsletter, No. 486, Radiation Safety Information Computational Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, U.S.A. (August 2005).
  2. A. Calaprice, ed., The New Quotable Einstein (Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2005; the original edition The Quotable Einstein published in 1996).
  3. "Albert Einstein," Wikiquote, at the end of "1920s" (14 January 2012, at 18:41).