Archive for June 28th, 2008

Teach yourself: Phase diagrams

June 28, 2008

Here is a nice, flash based tutorial from the multimedia group of University of Cambridge:

Simos Kitiris (2001/2002) created a comprehensive Flash-based package to “Teach Yourself Phase Diagrams”, a self-taught second-year course. This has since been extended and the revised Phase Diagrams is now being used for teaching within the Department, and is also linked to the DoITPoMS site as a useful resource for teaching material science. An additional microsite using HTML and Flash 5 has been created to cover the Iron-Carbon Phase Diagram.

Have fun!

Scientific methodology obsoleteness: the last update?

June 28, 2008

Tom Slee at Whimsley bemoans bad ideas winning the day:

Then I see that Anita Elberse of Harvard Business School has actually looked at some data behind the same Chris Anderson’s Long Tail hypothesis (please, don’t call it a theory) and, not surprisingly found it misguided. You would think that would cheer me up, but reading Anderson’s response just (here and reprinted here) plunged me further into gloom. Why? Because although he loses this battle (if asked I will bore people with the details, but I really don’t think there is a point), sloppy business journalism has won the war.

Face it. Chris Anderson has people at Harvard Business School of all places spending their valuable time following up his idle speculations. He comes up with a half-baked idea, has basically no data to support it, and yet other people – smart people, with real jobs and things to do – actually spend their time following up these idle daydreams; acting as his research assistants. What a waste.

And other people – smart people, probably with families and friends who could use their attention – feel they have to spend their time explaining a few of the reasons why he is wrong in his latest article. And here I am wasting my evening writing this junk.

Journalists and popular science or technology writers should take the serious thoughts of others and communicate them in an interesting and attention-getting way. I have no problem with that. But this is all backwards: a few stories from a business journalist setting the research agenda of Harvard Business School?

How did this happen?

I guess this post is also a reminder to me that I should stop updating on the issue!