SETI bioastro: The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds digest #1

From: Larry Klaes (lklaes@bbn.com)
Date: Wed Apr 26 2000 - 08:34:29 PDT


Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 16:42:34 -0400
Reply-To: transhumantech@egroups.com
Subject: [>Htech] the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds
digest #1

From: potso no takkyubin <silent-tristero@world.std.com>

                Re: Proof that gamma-ray bursts are spaceship exhaust?
                        from "Joshua W. Burton" <jburton@merle.it.northwestern.edu>
                         and "Bryan O'Sullivan" <bos@serpentine.com>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Subject: Re: Proof that gamma-ray bursts are spaceship exhaust?
Date: Mon, 24 Apr 2000 15:25:57 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Joshua W. Burton" <jburton@merle.it.northwestern.edu>

> I don't have ghostscript on the machine I'm using right now, but
>
> <http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/physics/0004034 >
>
> bears the title "On the Physical Cause and the Distance of Gamma Ray
> Bursts and Related Phenomena in the X-Rays and the Ultra-Violet", and
> the abstract reads:
>
> [psychoceramic abstract bobbitted]
>
> My question to the assembled multitudes: is this for real? That is,
> do papers pass any kind of review before becoming available at xxx.lanl.gov,
> or is it an open posting forum?

No, the author (Ernst Karl Kunst) is a loon, and is free to post preprints
to Paul Ginsparg's LANL server at will. If he were to start formatting
them with TeX, give himself an Iranian or Cuban return address (to better
explain why he has a street address and not an institutional affiliation),
and cite papers that aren't by himself and aren't survey articles from
Nature...well, he'd still be pretty easy to filter out of the Signal, so
I guess there's no reason for him to bother with camouflage after all.

The purpose of xxx.lanl.gov is to replace the "white plague" of preprints
that get mailed to all the good places so all the good people will know
what all the other people (good and bad) are up to quickly enough to catch
the passing fad. If you want "right" instead of "soon", you'll have better
luck with the "green plague" of actual printed Phys.Rev., which will be
expanding along library shelves (by logarithmic extrapolation) at faster
than c by approximately 2070. This, by the way, will not violate special
relativity, because no information is being conveyed. Nobody reads journals
any more, as David Mermin (Cornell) proved in about 1992 with an extremely
funny controlled experiment involving a systematic editorial change in the
spelling of the word "Lagrangian".

Ginsparg had an extremely funny experiment of his own, shortly after the
physics world realized that real work gets done exclusively with his
homegrown preprint server and subjective loon filtering, while journals
are vestigial for all purposes except CV padding. He set up a neural net
that read papers, looking for trendy coauthors, institutions, cited works,
and buzzwords, and assigning a weighted score to incoming preprints, which
determined whether they would be accepted. He then _updated_ the weights
based on the contents of accepted papers, so that new subjects could
become trendy if trendy people wrote about them, and papers could become
retroactively influential if cited from the right universities. The idea
was that they system would rapidly converge on the same notion of trendiness
currently being applied to refereed papers, with the difference that a
referee sits on the thing for four to six weeks, while Paul's system could
referee a paper in milliseconds. It actually worked quite well until
people started deliberately spamming it with self-citations and the like.

Anyway, no one is seriously inconvenienced by the small number of kook
submissions on the LANL server, nor by the much larger number of such papers
presented at annual APS meetings. A few people maintain a professional
interest in the care and nurture of borderline cases, but misunderstood
Galileos aren't as easy to find as they used to be.

The reason we theorists are all
\============================================
equally nearsighted is because we \ Joshua Burton 847/677-3902
jburton@nwu.edu
are standing on one another's toes.
\==========================================

-----------------------------------------------------------

Subject: Re: Proof that gamma-ray bursts are spaceship exhaust?
From: "Bryan O'Sullivan" <bos@serpentine.com>
Date: 24 Apr 2000 10:50:27 -0700

k> My question to the assembled multitudes: is this for real?

The paper seems to be for real, but the author's claims make my kook
antennae twitch in a big way.

By the way, arxiv.org's disclaimer reads as follows (xxx.lanl.gov is
another name for the same site): "Papers will be entered in the
listings in order of receipt on an impartial basis and appearance of a
paper is not intended in any way to convey tacit approval of its
assumptions, methods, or conclusions by any agent (electronic,
mechanical, or other)."

        <b

-- 
Let us pray:
What a Great System.
Please Do Not Crash.



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