The internet as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud...

Late in his life, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith coined the term ‘innocent fraud’. He used it to describe a lie or a half-truth that, because it suits the needs or views of those in power, is presented as fact. After much repetition, the fiction becomes common wisdom. ‘It is innocent because most who employ it are without conscious guilt,’ Galbraith wrote in 1999. ‘It is fraud because it is quietly in the service of special interest.’ The idea of the computer network as an engine of liberation is an innocent fraud.
What we’ve always found hard to abide is that the world follows a script we didn’t write. We look to technology not only to manipulate nature but to possess it, to package it as a product that can be consumed by pressing a light switch or a gas pedal or a shutter button. We yearn to reprogram existence, and with the computer we have the best means yet. We would like to see this project as heroic, as a rebellion against the tyranny of an alien power. But it’s not that at all. It’s a project born of anxiety. Behind it lies a dread that the messy, atomic world will rebel against us. What Silicon Valley sells and we buy is not transcendence but withdrawal. The screen provides a refuge, a mediated world that is more predictable, more tractable, and above all safer than the recalcitrant world of things. We flock to the virtual because the real demands too much of us.
What I want from technology is not a new world. What I want from technology are tools for exploring and enjoying the world that is ...
— Nicholas Carr

Read the entire excerpt from Nicholas Carr's book here.

Gravitational waves!

The gravitational-wave event GW150914 observed by the LIGO Hanford (H1, left column panels) and Livingston (L1, right column panels) detectors. Times are shown relative to September 14, 2015 at 09:50:45 UTC. For visualization, all time series are filtered with a 35–350 Hz bandpass filter to suppress large fluctuations outside the detectors’ most sensitive frequency band, and band-reject filters to remove the strong instrumental spectral lines seen in the Fig. 3 spectra. Top row, left: H1 strain. Top row, right: L1 strain. GW150914 arrived first at L1 and 6.9+0.50.4ms later at H1; for a visual comparison, the H1 data are also shown, shifted in time by this amount and inverted (to account for the detectors’ relative orientations). Second row: Gravitational-wave strain projected onto each detector in the 35–350 Hz band. Solid lines show a numerical relativity waveform for a system with parameters consistent with those recovered from GW150914 [37, 38] confirmed to 99.9% by an independent calculation based on [15]. Shaded areas show 90% credible regions for two independent waveform reconstructions. One (dark gray) models the signal using binary black hole template waveforms [39]. The other (light gray) does not use an astrophysical model, but instead calculates the strain signal as a linear combination of sine-Gaussian wavelets [40, 41]. These reconstructions have a 94% overlap, as shown in [39]. Third row: Residuals after subtracting the filtered numerical relativity waveform from the filtered detector time series. Bottom row:A time-frequency representation [42] of the strain data, showing the signal frequency increasing over time.

Science isn't broken: p-hacking and more...

"“Science is great, but it’s low-yield,” Fang told me. “Most experiments fail. That doesn’t mean the challenge isn’t worth it, but we can’t expect every dollar to turn a positive result. Most of the things you try don’t work out — that’s just the nature of the process.” Rather than merely avoiding failure, we need to court truth."

Read the entire article by Christie Aschwanden here.

Delegation - Part 2

"As you give more responsibility and autonomy to your most capable direct reports, focus your conversation less on how they should approach a task and more on the what and why. For example, why is the initiative important? What’s the scope of the task and what is their level of authority: to make the decision or bring options and a recommendation to you for approval? What are the key issues they need to address and resolve? Who are the people in other groups they need to collaborate along the way? What are the key milestones and check-in points and what are your expectations for communication during the course of the initiative? By contrast, with less experienced people you are trying to help move up the learning curve toward greater independence, it’s appropriate to be more prescription about the how things are to be done. Similarly, your check-ins will typically be more frequent and detailed."

Read the whole article by John Beeson on HBR  here.

A really good classification by Christian Bonilla on Quora can help get the ball rolling.

Delegation - Part 1

Being on student admin bodies definitely highlights to one the virtues of delegation. But as a researcher, especially one who is learning to be one, it is difficult to appreciate the very same virtues. This series of articles serves as a reminder that being a great manager is part of being a great researcher. And it doesn't matter if one is a budding researcher - there comes a point when one has to transition to being as good a manager. Since 2011 when I started as a graduate student, my role has definitely evolved, and I have come to realize the true value of our group's undergraduates...

Are you delegating enough? Read the complete HBR article by Amy Gallo.
Or are you a micromanager? Read the complete HBR article by Muriel Wilkins.

Having pondered on why delegation works wonders, more on how to go about doing it the right way coming soon...

A fight for the soul of science

"The crisis, as Ellis and Silk tell it, is the wildly speculative nature of modern physics theories, which they say reflects a dangerous departure from the scientific method. Many of today’s theorists — chief among them the proponents of string theory and the multiverse hypothesis — appear convinced of their ideas on the grounds that they are beautiful or logically compelling, despite the impossibility of testing them. Ellis and Silk accused these theorists of “moving the goalposts” of science and blurring the line between physics and pseudoscience. “The imprimatur of science should be awarded only to a theory that is testable,” Ellis and Silk wrote..."

Read entire article at Quanta Magazine here
Ellis and Silk's original Nature article
Read related article 1 here (Huffington Post)
Read related article 2 here (Scientific American)